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  1. #1

    Riders of the Last Hope: A Crickhollow RP Event





    Riders of the Last Hope

    A Crickhollow RP event



    The bards tell us that Cirion became Lord of Mundburg in the year 2489 of the Third Age. The menace from the North and East was ever in his mind, and he gave much thought to ways that might be devised against the threat from those quarters as the strength of Gondor diminished. He put a few men into the old forts to keep watch upon the Undeeps, and sent scouts and spies into the lands between Mirkwood and Dagorlad, and thus became aware in the winter of the year 2509 that a great movement against Gondor was being prepared: hosts of men were mustering all along the southern eaves of Mirkwood. They were only rudely armed, and had no great number of horses for riding, using horses mainly for draught, since they had many large wains, as had the Wainriders (to whom they were no doubt akin) that assailed Gondor in the last days of the Kings. But what they lacked in gear of war they made up in numbers, so far as could be guessed.

    At that time, the land of the Éothéod lay north of Mirkwood, between the Misty Mountains westward and the Forest River eastward. Southward it extended to the confluence of the two short rivers named Greylin and Langwell. Greylin flowed down from Ered Mithrin, the Grey Mountains, but Langwell came from the Misty Mountains, and this name it bore because it was the source of Anduin, which from its junction with Greylin we name Langflood.

    In this peril, Cirion's thought turned at last in desperation to the Éothéod, and he determined to send messengers to them. But they would have to go through Calenardhon and over the Undeeps, and then through lands already watched and patrolled by the Balchoth, as those Easterlings were then called in Gondor. This would mean a ride of some four hundred and fifty miles to the Undeeps, and more than five hundred thence to the Éothéod, and from the Undeeps they would be forced to go warily by night until they had passed the shadow of Dol Guldur.

    Cirion had little hope that any of them would get through. He called for volunteers, and choosing six riders of great courage and endurance he sent them out in pairs with a day's interval between them. Each bore a message learned by heart, and also a small stone inscribed with the seal of the Stewards, that he should deliver to the Lord of the Éothéod in person, if he succeeded in reaching that land. The message was addressed to Eorl son of Léod, for Cirion knew that he succeeded his father some years before.

    Yet Cirion had but faint hope that even if the message were received it would be answered. He had no claim on the Éothéod beyond their ancient friendship with Gondor to bring them from so far away with any strength that would avail. Saying no more, he ordered what strength he had to meet the storm. He gathered as great a force as he could, and taking command of it himself made ready as swiftly as might be to lead it north to Calenardhon.

    The first pair of messengers left of the tenth day of Súlimë; and in the event it was one of these, alone of all the six, who got through to the Éothéod. He was Borondir, a great rider of a family that claimed descent from a captain of the Northmen in the service of the Kings of old. He was pursued as far north as the Gladden Fields, and often waylaid by men that came out of the Forest and forced him to ride far out of the direct way. He came at last to the Éothéod after fifteen days, for the last two without food; and he was so spent that he could scarce speak his message to Eorl.

    It was then the twenty-fifth day of Súlimë. Eorl took counsel with himself in silence; but not for long. Soon he rose, and he said: 'I will come. If the Mundburg falls, whither shall we flee from the Darkness?' Then he took Borondir's hand in token of his promise.

    At last the whole host was assembled. It was then the sixth day of the month Víressë. On that day in silence the great éohere set out, leaving fear behind, and taking with them small hope; for they knew not what lay before them, either on the road or at its end. It is said that Eorl led forth some seven thousand fully-armed Riders and some hundreds of horsed archers. At his right hand rode Borondir, to serve as guide so far as he might, since he had lately passed through the lands. But this great host was not threatened or assailed during its long journey down the Vales of Anduin.

    As it drew southward and passed by southern Mirkwood, which was now infested by the Balchoth, still there was no sign of men, in force or in scouting parties, to bar their road or to spy upon their coming. In part this was due to events unknown to them, but other powers also were at work. For when at last the host drew near to Dol Guldur, Eorl turned away westward for fear of the dark shadow and cloud that flowed out from it, and then he rode on within sight of Anduin. Many of the Riders turned their eyes thither, half in fear and half in hope to glimpse from afar the shimmer of the Dwimordene, the perilous land that in legends of their people was said to shine like gold in the springtime. But now it seemed shrouded in a gleaming mist; and to their dismay the mist passed over the river and flowed over the land before them.

    Eorl did not halt. 'Ride on!' he commanded. 'There is no other way to take. After so long a road shall we be held back from battle by a river-mist?'

    As they drew nearer they saw that the white mist was driving back the glooms of Dol Guldur, and soon they passed into it, riding slowly at first and warily; but under its canopy all things were lit with a clear and shadowless light, while to left and right they were guarded as it were by white walls of secrecy.

    'The Lady of the Golden Wood is on our side, it seems,' said Borondir.

    'Maybe,' said Eorl. 'But at least I will trust the wisdom of Felaróf. He scents no evil. His heart is high. And his weariness is healed: he strains to be given his head. So be it! For never have I had more need of secrecy and speed.'

    Then Felaróf sprang forward, and all the host behind followed like a great wind, but in a strange silence, as if their hooves did not beat upon the ground. So they rode on, as fresh and eager as on the morning of their setting-out, during that day and the next; but at dawn of the third day they rose from their rest, and suddenly the mist was gone, and they saw that they were far out in the open lands. On their right the Anduin lay near, but they had almost passed its great eastward loop, and the Undeeps were in sight. It was the morning of the fifteenth day of Víressë, and they had come there at a speed beyond hope.

    Thus they came to the battle of the Field of Celebrant. There the northern army of Gondor was in peril. Defeated in the Wold and cut off from the south, it had been driven across the Limlight, and was then suddenly assailed by the Orc-host that pressed it toward the Anduin. All hope was lost when, unlooked for, the Riders came out of the North and broke upon the rear of the enemy. Then the fortunes of battle were reversed, and the enemy was driven with slaughter over Limlight. Eorl led his men in pursuit, and so great was the fear that went before the horsemen of the North that the invaders of the Wold were also thrown into panic, and the Riders hunted them over the plains of Calenardhon.

    The days grow dark once again. The Shadow in the East has taken shape again and returned to the old fastnesses of Mordor. In the Eastemnet, Orcs and Easterlings raid across Langflood, seizing horses, slaying men, and burning homes and towns. In the Westfold, Dunlendings and Orcs throw themselves against the garrison at the Fords of Isen at the behest of the traitor Saruman, who now holds Isengard against us in imitation of the Dark Tower of Mordor. At Edoras, Théoden King wastes away into dotage, poisoned against his land's interests by the whisperings of the Wormtongue.

    In this dark hour, who shall defend the Riddermark from its foes? Who will cleanse the land of the enemies which prowl it at will? Gondor cannot lend aid, for they are even more sorely beset. The Men of Dale and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain cannot aid, for the Easterlings march also on their borders. The Elves of Dwimordene will not aid us, for they crouch in their woods, recking nothing of the troubles of the outside world.

    Help must come from an unlooked-for quarter.

    Help must come from the North, as in the days of Eorl.

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    Overview of the Event:

    -This Crickhollow server-wide event is being held by the Riders of Théoden kinship. However, joining the kinship is not required to take part in the event. Characters from all kinships and none, and of all races, classes, and levels, are welcome to join. The only requirements are an interest in RP and a desire to aid the Mark in their dark hour. Note, however, that lore-breakers and Mary-Sues/Marty-Stus will not be tolerated.

    -The event will be a massive riding from Bree-town to Rohan, going in-character the whole way. Naturally, we can't hope to make the journey in a single push, so we will make camp several times along the way to stop for RP and to allow anyone who needs it a chance to level their characters. We would stay at each camp for a decent amount of time in order to allow for levelling and anyone else who wants to join us.

    -NOTE: We will NOT be going through the Mines of Moria in-character. Instead, we will assume that the Redhorn Gate and Dimrill Stair are clear, and pass that way. However, characters will need to be of a high enough level to make it through Moria in order to continue with the journey, so keep that in mind. However, we will stop in Eregion for as long as we need to in order to allow people to level. I have some scouting missions planned into Enedwaith and Dunland for those who are interested.

    Also, we will RP that we skirt the edge of Lórien and that we do not enter in. No self-respecting man of the Mark would get any nearer Dwimordene than he could avoid!

    -The Ride will leave the South Gate of Bree on the 17th of February at 10:00 pm servertime. This post will be periodically updated with a list of contacts and the location of the current camp, for any stragglers who wish to join.

    Forth now, and fear no darkness! Forth Eorlingas!


    Current Contacts:
    Eoleof
    Last edited by Cala_Romello; Jan 25 2013 at 08:16 PM.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  2. #2
    This looks very epic and grandscale! I have a Rider that I may tag along with or bring the Mark the aid of the Rangers.

    Also, I really do wish I could skip Moria and Lothlorien...so many ways to fall.

  3. #3
    Chapter One

    A Rider Astray

    Hwaet! Hear now and harken, all ye peoples who bow not to the Shadow in the East! Herein is set down, by my own hand, my story, which tells of how I, Éoléof son of Eadwine, Rider of Westfold, maegisterwigend of the Riders of Théoden, wandered so far afield from the green fields of the Mark. Two copies of this missive shall be made; one, to be kept in the vault at the town of Bree, to be opened in two years, should I not return for it; and the other, to be borne on my person as I ride back to the Mark. In this way, I hope that my story should not die with me.

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    I was born in the ninth year of Théoden King's reign, the first son of horse breeders who dwelt a day's journey to the east of the outlet of the Deeping-Coomb. My father and his father had raised horses for the service of the Riders of Westfold for many years, in addition to riding in the Muster of Westfold when the Lord of the Deep required it. My brother was born three years after me, and together we inherited the farm on the death of my father in the nine-and-twentieth year of Théoden King's reign.

    Within two years, both my brother and I were married, and he and his wife removed to Hytbold, a town in the Eastemnet. Though it has been several years since I heard from him, he was well when last we spoke. To replace him, I hired several hands to assist me with my duties on the farm, while my wife cared for my ailing mother and our infant daughter.

    All was well for several years. We tended the horses, sold them to the Riders at the Hornburg as they had need, watched our daughter grow, and cared for my mother as she walked closer and closer to death's door. Our life was simple, but it was good. That all changed three years ago.

    I and one of my hands, Léod, were delivering a shipment of horses to the garrison at the Hornburg when a scout came in to the Burg to report that a Dunlending raid has crossed Isen and was roving through Westfold, burning and slaying as they went. Immediately, fear rose in my heart for my folk, and I begged leave of the garrison commander to either return to my homestead or to ride forth with the planned sortie. Both requests were denied me, and Léod and I were ordered to remain in the Burg until the Riders returned.

    Within four days, the sortie returned with but few losses of either men or horses, and Léod and I were given leave to return. As we came upon the last rise before our homestead, we could tell that our worst fears had been realised: the filthy Dunlendings had raided our home, slaying all of our folk and our herds, stealing our stores, and setting fire to the rest. The foul raiders left none alive after their Orc-work, and Léod and I were left to bury my mother, wife, daughter, and our other folk, including Léod's wife, who had been with child at the time.

    Though vengeance was denied us by the skill of Lord Erkenbrand's Riders, both Léod and I swore revenge upon all Dunlendings for their crimes. After burying our folk and setting fire to the remainder of the buildings, we returned to the Deep and requested positions in the guard of the Burg. Both of us were accepted, Léod as a smith, and I as a stablemaster and scout. Over the next year, we trained hard and diligently fulfilled our duties, becoming both of us proficient with bow, sword, and spear.

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    When word reached the Burg some time after the Lithe of this year that the Dunlendings were massing for another raid across Isen, both Léod and I begged leave once again to ride out with the planned counter-assault. In recognition of our training and our need for vengeance, we were both granted positions in the van. I still remember how hope, pride, and the battle-fury of our race rose in my heart on the day of our setting-out from the Hornburg. Just the day before, we had received word from the guards at the Fords that the Dunlendings had crossed the river in force and were camped little less than a day's hard ride north of the mouth of the Coomb. We all anticipated an easy victory and a quick driving-back of the raiders.

    As we passed out from the Coomb, I and two other fast Riders were sent out from the van to scout the location, numbers, and path of our enemies. My lot was to take the east side of the road to the Fords, and I soon found the raiders. The fools had set out no scouts or outriders, as they had no horsemen of their own, and I was easily able to count them and their kinds as they passed by my hiding-place in the shadow of two great boulders.

    Though they were five score in number and outnumbered our riding four to one, none were armed with spears, but only with crude bows and swords. Among their number, however, I espied several, perhaps half a score, no more, of squint-eyed men with sallow, broad faces who were even more ugly than the Dunlending wont. These ten seemed to be in command of the group, and as they passed, I caught snatches of their talk. They spoke of orders from one whom they called “Sharkey” or “the Old Man”. While I thought it odd at the time, it was not until much later that I learned the import of that name.

    After the host had passed, I remounted my horse, Fleanfot, and rode back with all haste to the main body of Riders. After reporting to Aldhelm, our maegisterwigend, what I had seen, he arranged our host for an assault upon the flank of the raiders to strike just as they would be coming to a small hamlet, which had been evacuated as soon as word of the raid had reached them. In this way, he hoped to catch them off-guard, eager for looting and unable to defend themselves with any real strength. After giving the word, our host set off with all speed for the village.

    As we crested the last hill at a canter, we saw that the raiders had just reached the village and were beginning to amuse themselves with looting and burning. Without slackening our pace, we let blow our horns, and with a cry of “Forth, Helmingas!” we charged as one man down the hill. Hearing our hoofbeats and our cries, the Dunlendings turned to flee, but too late. We drew within bow range, and I and the other archers within our patrol loosed our arrows, raining an iron hail down upon the heads of our enemies. Many fell, but those who remained fled in a rout toward the Fords, which lay but little distant.

    With the raiders fleeing back across Isen, we checked our charge and drew back into formation around our leader. As we had fulfilled our charge and routed the enemies, many of the Riders were eager to return to the Deep. Léod, I, and several others, however, urged Aldhelm to pursue the foul Dunlendings across Isen and utterly destroy them. After debating with himself for several long minutes, during which he glanced both west and south, Aldhelm agreed to our requests. “Form up! We ride for the Fords! Leave none alive to come back to the hovels of Dunland!” With that, we sped in pursuit of the raiders, who had already passed out of sight.

    As we rode down the road to the Fords, we saw the last stragglers of the raid passing from the eyot in the midst of the stream to the far bank. As they saw us crest the rise above the Fords and ride down the road in wrath, they began blowing horns of their own and scattering to left and right off of the road. By the time we forded Isen and reformed on the west bank, the raiders were nowhere to be seen, though they could still be heard fleeing northwest up the old Road. Aldhelm cried “Forth, Helmingas! No need for scouts! We can track them by their stench!”

    As we rode deeper into Dunland, the trees drew in dark around us and a mist began to set in, though we were far from the river by then. The sound of horns and the dim tramp of booted feet still drew us on, on to the end which was doomed for us. After the trees well and truly surrounded us, we heard the horns blow one loud blast, the sound of running feet stopped, and we heard a yell go up from the Dunlendings. At the same moment, torches blazed into sudden light in the trees all around and behind us, as more Dunlendings hurried out of the trees armed with spears and bows.

    Aldhelm scarce had time to draw us up into a defensive formation before the first wave of shrieking skraelings broke upon us. Though we struck out with sword, spear, and arrow, the enemy seemed numberless. Among them, I saw many more faces like those I had seen in command among the raiders, slant-eyed, hideously leering faces which still haunt my dreams. Once, twice, thrice we threw back the attackers, but again they came on, each time leaving us with fewer men as the sun sank lower into the mists.

    Finally, to our shock and horror, a great press of Orcs, man-high, bearing cruel scimitars and wearing armour with a White Hand blazoned on the chest and head, threw themselves at our ragged spear-wall and sundered it, like a lightning bolt through a dry tree. The battle descended into a rout, as I and three other survivors, including Léod, were driven up the Road northward and cut off from the paths back to Isen by the swarming Dunlendings. We fled, the arrows of our enemies skipping off the stones about the feet of our steeds, as the sounds of battle grew dim behind us and finally stopped altogether, turning into savage cries of triumph in the vulgar tongue of Dunland. I am not too proud to admit that I wept, thinking of what horrors and dishonours awaited the bones of those bold men who fell on that field of slaughter.

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    The four of us rode as far and as fast as we could up the Road, skirting settlements and avoiding patrols until, in the deep dark before the dawn, we finally stopped in a thick grove of birch trees which grew in a deep hollow to the west of the Road. Our horses were frothing and wide-eyed, while we were nearly falling from our saddles with exhaustion. As we made camp, we found that one of our number, a stout Rider named Osric, had taken a wound during the battle. Though the cut in his upper arm was shallow, the skin around it was a worrisome shade of red, as well as tender and hot to the touch.

    Though we cleaned it as best we could, it was to no avail. Though I know not whether it was Dunlending or Orcish, the foul poison did its work swiftly. By midday, Osric was dead as well. Cursing the Dunlendings and their allies, we buried him as quickly as we could beneath a small mound before we continued on our way, taking his steed as a spare mount. For the next week, we went quietly through the midst of Dunland and Enedwaith, following the Road north as it dwindled into a rarely-used cart track. Finally, we passed from the sparsely-inhabited lands of Enedwaith into the wilderness of Minhiriath, where we were able to go with more speed in hopes of reaching any form of civilised folk before we or our steeds died of starvation.

    After several days' journey, we reached a ford over a wide, swift-flowing river, where the ruins of a town and causeway could be seen on the further side. Looking closely, we saw that the ford itself was formed from the ruins of a great bridge which once spanned the distance from shore to shore in a single arch. Cautiously, we made our way across the slippery and uneven stones, but even so, we lost our spare horse in the crossing.

    We continued on our way for several more days, until the Road, which had by now dwindled to a barely visible track through the wilderness, overgrown with grass and small shrubs poking through between the ancient flagstones, passed into a narrow valley between two ranges of downs to east and west. As we made camp that night, we were too tired and hungry to set a watch, which proved our undoing. We were awakened in the dark of the night by shabbily-dressed figures stepping into our dwindling circle of firelight with drawn blades and nocked arrows.

    Though we set to the bandits with all the strength we could muster, Léod and Beorthnost fell to their crude swords, and I barely escaped on Fleanfot, taking several arrows to my arms and one which stuck in the meat of my thigh. I do not remember much of the next day or two, simply that I rode up the Road as fast as I could until my strength gave out, leaving a trail of blood behind me. I must have passed out somewhere in the vicinity of Bree-town, for the next thing that I remember is waking up in a room of the Prancing Pony with my wounds tended and a Watcher sitting next to my bed with a suspicious look in his eye.

    Judging from his questions, I could tell that he did not trust me, and he eyed my 'outlandish' gear with suspicion. He wanted to know who I was, where I was from, and what I was doing in Bree. I answered all his questions, but he did not seem interested or trusting until I told him about how I had been set upon by bandits and barely escaped with my life. Then, he softened his demeanour somewhat, saying that the bandits had been harrying travelers for some time and that they were getting bolder. In exchange for binding my wounds and caring for me in my duress, I offered my spear and bow in an effort to get the town's bandit problem under control. The Watchers accepted with some reservation, at least until I began bringing in goods that the bandits had stolen from supply trains.

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    Since that time, I have journeyed throughout the North, slaying the servants of the Enemy wherever I found them. Fleanfot and I have ridden from the frozen plains of Forochel and the blasted wastes of Angmar to the forests of the Trollshaws and the wide expanses of the North Downs, slaying Orcs and evil Men wherever they hide. I have aided the Rangers of the North and the Elves of Rivendell in their secret wars, marveling at their strength of arms, learned through long years of battle.

    During all the time in the North, however, my thoughts have ever turned to the South, to the Mark. My ears have strained at whatever garbled rumours came up the Greenway to the Pony, eager for any news of what passes in the land of my home. As I have journeyed, I have gathered together a number of scattered Eorlingas who wander these lands, training them to work as a unit in the art of war for the day when we shall return home. I have also striven to make alliances with the folk of these lands, aiding them in their struggles in the hope that they shall ride with us when we return to the defence of the Mark.

    That time is now upon us. I have begun the preparations for the muster of the North. The folk of Eriador shall ride to the defence of the Mark, and let the hosts of Mordor tremble at the hoofbeats of their steeds!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  4. #4
    Chapter Two

    The Way South


    One cold and windy evening in the fall of the year, a weary-looking traveler rode his mount up the streets of Bree, walking slowly in the falling dusk. At the sign of the Prancing Pony, he dismounted, led his horse to an open stall, and removed its gear for the night before feeding it and closing the stall door. After that, the stranger, who was clothed in well-made armour of green scale in which a horse motif dominated, mounted the stairs and opened the door to the inn.

    Every eye turned to him as he stepped over the threshold into the smoky common room, and many of the gazes which fell on him were disapproving. The Bree-folk have never been overly fond of outsiders, and especially not so in recent years, as more and more unsavoury folk have made their way up the Greenway. The wanderer ignored the glances, however, and stepped to the bar, looking the landlord in the eye, who gazed at him doubtfully.

    'How is your latest batch of mead coming along, Barliman? I hope you've kept in mind some of those tricks I told you.'

    The landlord's face brightened instantly. 'Ah, Master Éoléof! I didn't recognise you under that outlandish gear! Yes, it's coming along well, but it won't be ready yet for another fortnight or so, I'm afraid. I suppose you'll be wanting a cup of the old batch, though, along with a bite of something warm and a place to rest your head?'

    Éoléof removed his helmet and laid it on the bar, running a hand through his yellow hair. 'Yes, Barliman, I would like all of those. Could you have Nob see to my horse, as well? I put him in an empty stall, by your leave, but I've ridden him long and far, and he would be grateful for a full manger.'

    The landlord nodded. 'Aye, I'll get right on that, good master. There's just so much to do here, I don't know how I find time for everything. Here's a cup for you for now, though. Have a seat wherever you like, and I'll be by with your food, once I find that wooly-pated slowcoach Nob.' Butterbur bustled away into the back of the inn, wiping his hands on his apron and calling loudly for his stableboy.

    Éoléof smiled for a moment before he picked up his helm and his mug and turned to find a seat. Though the locals had mostly turned back to their own conversation, steadfastly ignoring the Southerner, some of the other travelers at the inn were looking at him with interest. Taking a seat at a table in the far corner of the room, he removed his gloves and laid them beside him on the bench before retreating into his thoughts.

    His reverie was broken for a moment by the noisy return of the landlord, bearing a plate of warm food. After assuring Butterbur that his needs were met and that he would speak up if he needed anything, Éoléof returned to his thoughts.

    His mind drifted back to the night several weeks ago, where in this very room he overheard a merchant's guard speaking about rumours he had heard from the South. From what little he could glean from the man's speech, something was amiss in the Mark, and the roads south were blockaded by the Hillmen. At the mention of Dunland, the Eorling's blood ran cold. The next morning, he left before the break of day, leaving a message with Butterbur for those of his folk who wandered the North, letting them know where he had gone.

    As Fleanfot's hooves pounded down the Great East Road, Éoléof anxiously thought in his head how long it would take him to reach the Gap, assuming he could make it through the hordes of Dunlendings which must by now have taken watch over the South Road. Two weeks would scarce suffice for that journey, and then he would have to turn around and return to the North with his tidings. Putting fear and worry aside, he bent his will to the task at hand: scouting the southward roads. If the Mark was in need, he would lead what forces he could to its aid.

    Through the Lone-Lands he passed, and through the Trollshaws. Crossing the Loudwater at the Ford, he turned south and passed through the forsaken Elven land of Hollin, and on into the wastes of Enedwaith. There, he came to his first check. Not only had the Dunlendings taken to watching the roads south, there were several settlements scattered around the wastes. Passing through as swiftly and quietly as he could, he continued his journey south under cover of night, into the lands of his enemies.

    There, in the hills and vales of Dunland, he found the sight that he had dreaded: armies, camps, and foundries, all bent on one purpose: the destruction of the Mark. With heavy heart, he turned his face from the Gap and the plains of the Mark back into the eye of the cold north wind. The North must be raised and come to the defence of the Riddermark, for if Gondor and the Mark fail, what defence will the North have against the Shadow in the East?

    Éoléof shook himself out of the thoughts of his journey when he found that his cup was empty. Standing stiffly up, he returned to the bar, where Butterbur silently refilled the cup. As he looked around, he began thinking of the folk he had met in this very inn, who he counted among his allies and friends. He hoped some of them at least would answer his pleas for aid.

    Some of the Grey Company would surely come. Though Torvorn no longer led them and the mantle had passed to a woman of the Folk of the West, Ivrel, Éoléof had proven his strength and resolve to them time and again. He remembered the singing of the bows and the flash of swords as he stood by the Dúnedain as they strove to retake their fallen city, beside which even Mundburg itself was a hovel. He called to mind the skirmishes he had rode in throughout the North Downs, as he and the Men of the West strove to stem the black tide which flowed from Angmar.

    Then, he remembered some of his simpler adventures around Bree-land, especially the time he fell in with a motley cast of folks. He chuckled as he thought about the holbytla Theodoras and the effort he and the others (a woman of Dale, Dyre, and a stout Dwarf, Hemni) went through to rescue a captive from the bandits who had taken her hostage. He wondered what had become of the halfling and whether he was still well. Dyre, however, was foremost in his thoughts. He had met her again after returning from the south, and he told her and one of her associates of the Mark's need. With luck, their swords would flash beside his on the journey to the south.

    In his dire need, he had even reached out to folk he never would have thought of approaching. He had asked the Elves of Rivendell for aid, though he had little hope that they would come. His face darkened and he drew down his brow as he thought of the haughty words the Elf Lossenelenwen had spoken in the Hall of Fire in Rivendell. 'What answer would Rivendell have of the Mark, if we asked a like question?' Let them hide in their woods and flee to their ships, then. If they will not send aid, then the Mark and Gondor will stand on their own, with the aid of true Men.

    As he nursed his drink by the fire at the Pony, Éoléof's thoughts turned to the muster of the North. If they were to pass south in force, there are but two ways they could go. They could attempt to break the watches on the South Road, or at least bribe the guards to let them through, or they could attempt the longer road east to the Mountains, then south to the Redhorn Gate and thence to the Langflood. With luck, however, they could convince the bandits and Hillmen who watch the South Road to let them pass, either with gold or with steel. 'That must be our first attempt,' he spoke softly. 'I will not pass by Dwimordene unless I cannot avoid it.' With that resolved, he drained his cup, bid Butterbur a good night, and made for his room.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  5. #5
    RP Event: The Way South

    With the muster of the North almost upon us, it behooves those who are interested in joining the Ride to prepare for the journey. With this in mind, the Riders of Théoden are holding two RP events in the coming days. The roads must be scouted, and all must be made ready for the journey.

    First, we should scout the Greenway. While bandits hold the pass through Andrath, perhaps they can be convinced to let us pass with either gold or steel. On Friday, February 8 at 9:00 pm servertime, any who are interested can muster by the West-gate of Bree-town and journey with us to see if we can break the guard on the Road.

    However, we must be ready in case the bandits prove too secure in their position. For that reason, we will scout the East Road all the way to the Ford of Bruinen in order to ensure that we can safely pass that way. This event will begin at 9:00 pm servertime on Friday, February 15 at the South-gate of Bree. Bring your horse, as it is a long way to walk on foot. Note, however, that we do not wish to tire our mounts out overmuch before the journey begins, so we will only ride hard if the need presses.

    Lastly and concurrently with these two events, we need spare weapons if we are to have any hope of making the journey. Swords can break and bows snap. We cannot trust to charity in the places we pass through
    , so we must bring what weapons we can with us.


    Before we leave the civilised lands of Bree-land and the rather less civilised lands between the Forsaken Inn and the Last Bridge, we will need to craft a number of swords, bows, and spears in order to have replacements in the event of misfortune on the road. Before we cross the Last Bridge, we need the following:

    10 Polished Gondorian Longswords
    10 Carved Yew Spears
    10 Carved Yew Longbows


    Members of the company will be responsible for collecting the necessary materials, which will then be turned in to Eoleof, who will distribute them to folk with the appropriate crafting techniques in the company. After they are finished, one member of the company, who will be designated Quartermaster, will collect the weapons for disbursement as needed on the journey south. For those who think that this seems a bit on the weak side for Rohan, we will be stopping to craft additional weapons at a later date.

    Hope to see you in-game, and remember, all are welcome in the Ride!


    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  6. #6
    Ah, a very good read, Cala Romello! It is great to see another rp event being run on Crickhollow on such a scale. I will be following this story with interest!

  7. #7
    Well, due to the server outage, we didn't hold the planned scouting event tonight. Assuming that the servers are back up by then, we are still planning to begin the Ride at 10 pm servertime on Sunday, February 17. We assemble at the South-gate of Bree and then begin our ride to the east. We will make camp for the first leg of our journey somewhere in the Lone-lands, most likely near or in Ost Guruth. Also, don't forget that we need those weapons I talked about in my previous post.

    In other news, at least there's been one good thing to come out of the server outage: I've almost finished with the write-up for the first scouting event! I may post that before the Ride starts, or I may wait until after. I haven't yet decided.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  8. #8
    Sorry to have to post this, all. Real Life has once again interfered with LOTRO. The Ride is postponed until further notice. As soon as things are sorted, I will post in this thread with date and time.

    Again, sorry.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  9. #9
    HWAET!

    The Ride will assemble at 10 pm servertime this Friday, 8 March, at the South-gate of Bree! We take the East Road into the Lone Lands, and make camp for the night somewhere near Ost Guruth, hopefully within the fortress walls. There, we will wait for any stragglers, as well as helping the Eglain with their troubles.

    Forth now, and fear no darkness!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  10. #10
    Chapter 3
    The Raid on Andrath



    In the dark before the dawn, a lone figure stood near the crossing of the East Road and the Greenway outside of Bree-town. As he wrapped his cloak about him, he peered southward into the gloom, considering the road he must take. His horse nickered and stamped the ground beside him, eager for the journey to begin. As he turned to his mount and spoke soft words to him in a rolling tongue, he looked over his shoulder at the sleeping town. Finally, to ward off the night chill, he light a fire and sat down beside it, staring at the gate.

    At the gleam of the fire, the guard at the gate stood up and glowered darkly at the stranger before settling back down into his seat, keeping his halberd at the ready. The man took no notice of the guard's mistrust, as he was already used to the insular nature of the Bree-landers. Instead, he took out a whetstone and began sharpening his spear and sword. After an interminable time, he looked up at the sound of hoofbeats coming up from the south. He stood and hefted his spear as a mounted figure trotted forward out of the night-shadows.

    The figure halted as it caught sight of the gleam of the spear in the light of the setting Moon. Dismounting, it walked forward with hand upraised in truce. A man's voice rang out, 'Hail, Man of the Mark. I have received the summons.' The Eorling lowered his spear as he recognized the tones of a Man of the West. 'Westu hal, stranger. I was beginning to think no one would come. Éoléof son of Éadwine at your service.'

    The grey-clad stranger nodded. 'Talagand of the Dúnedain at yours and your family's.' Before he could say more, a horseman clad in green and brown rode through the gate of the town, dismounting near the fire. Éoléof nodded in greeting to his countryman. 'Hail, Hilwald. What news?'

    The Eorling nodded back. 'Nothing of import.' In response, Talagand tossed a bent mace on the ground near the fire. 'I have news. I took the liberty of scouting the bandits. They are firmly entrenched, but I softened them up a little. Mostly half-orcs, but they also have a sizable force of men. If we strike hard, we should shatter them.' Éoléof scowled. 'I expected as much. They shouldn't be too hard to dislodge, but I worry about reinforcements from down the Greenway.'

    'I could watch the Greenway, if you like,' offered the Dúnadan. 'I ride fast. If anything comes down that way, I can get to you before it does.' Éoléof nodded in thanks. 'Ride to Andrath and see what you can see. If reinforcements begin to move from further south, let us know.' Talagand nodded in agreement and mounted his horse, setting off the way he came.

    Edging closer to the fire, Hilwald looked at his captain. 'Now what? I'm eager for a fight.' Éoléof chuckled. 'Patience, Hilwald. For now, we wait. Hopefully, more will join us. Soon, though, I want to ride against them.' After some minutes, the Rohirrim heard the steady beats of a horse being led out through the slowly awakening town. A man clad in worn brown leather, with a well-used bow strapped to his back, walked through the gate and came down the hill to the two men and their fire.

    The man bowed deeply to them. 'Hail, Men of the Mark. Word has reached my ears that you desire scouts. I am Brenn of Dale, a scout in the service of King Brand.' Before he could say more, Talagand returned, racing up the Greenway before reining in his mount close to the fire. 'No change. They are still in disarray,' Talagand reported. 'Also, the Greenway is deserted. There are two ways in. One is through the front gate, a direct assault; the other is more subtle. If we scale the ruins on the east side, we can walk along a ledge and drop in behind their lines.'

    As Éoléof paused for a moment in thought, Brenn spoke again. 'I will aid the Mark as best I may, but if your way leads southward, I hear tell of wild Men and wilder beasts upon the road. My road also leads southward, and I would be grateful for the company of fellow travelers.'

    Éoléof looked up. 'We will try the indirect approach. If we can get behind their lines, we can quickly sow havoc before they have time to react.' He glanced at Brenn as he continued. 'Andrath is only the first step, though. In the end, our road leads all the way back to the Mark. All are welcome to join us for as long as they wish.'

    Talagand spoke up, 'I sent out my raven while I was away. We should have reinforcements coming ourselves. Ah, here he is now.' A raven fluttered down out the airs, lighting on the Ranger's outstretched arm. It held out its leg to allow him to remove the message tied to it. 'Yes, reinforcements are on their way; my son is among them.'

    Éoléof smiled. 'Good. Though I have no doubt that we can handle that rabble, the more swords, the better. Ready yourselves. We will leave as soon as your folk arrive and they are briefed.' For some minutes, the warriors busied themselves with their preparations, sharpening weapons, tightening armour, and readying their steeds. Soon, a small group could be heard coming down the Greenway from the direction of the North Downs.

    As the group rode up, Éoléof looked at them in surprise. While the two Men and the Elf were expected, the holbytla with them was not. Talagand seemed concerned, as well. He gave the larger folk a hard look as the Halfling bowed before him. 'You brought Edmyg? I would prefer that the Little Folk did not see battle.'

    The Elf and one of the Men shrugged. 'He refused to stay,' the Elf said. 'No doubt he has the heart of a warrior,' agreed the Man. The holbytla remained silent. Talagand shook his head. 'If he feels he is ready, I cannot make him stay.' He turned to the other Man, who shared many of his features. 'However, I expect you to watch him, Talasantir. I will be upset if you let anything happen to him, son.' The other Ranger nodded, but remained silent.

    The Elf turned to him with a questioning look. 'Where do we ride, Talagand?' The Ranger shook his head. 'Éoléof is in charge of this campaign. I am only here to support him.'

    At that, Éoléof stepped forward, hand on the hilt of his sword. 'We are going to attempt to dislodge the bandits from their camp at Andrath. We need a clear road south.' At that, the assembled warriors nodded, checking their gear and arms. The Eorling looked briefly to the east at the spreading light before continuing. 'We will wait until dawn for any stragglers, then we ride. Any who come after that can follow as they may. Talagand, explain the plan of attack.'

    Stick in hand, the Ranger stepped forward, drawing a rough diagram in the dirt by the fire. 'There is a ruined tower on the east side of the vale. Our plan is to ascend the heights, and insert behind enemy lines.' Before he could continue, Talasantir spoke up. 'There is another tower to the west. We can split our forces and trap them.'

    His father shook his head. 'Many things can go wrong with that plan, son. The west side is watched.' Though Talasantir opened his mouth to retort, Éoléof stepped between them, hands upraised. 'Splitting our forces is wise, now that we have enough men. We can form into three groups: one takes the east, one the west, and the last strikes down the centre. They will have no escape, and no chance to attack us from above. Talagand, you know the abilities of these gathered better than I do. Form the teams. No more debate.'

    Nodding in agreement, Talagand began pointing to the various folk assembled. 'Brenn, Hilwald, come with me and assault the eastern tower. Talagand, take Edmyg and go west. Éoléof, lead Maldrick and Malere down the centre. Wait until we are in position before you begin. I will send word when we are ready.'

    With the groups decided, the warriors mounted their steeds. Éoléof spoke from his saddle. 'Let us ride now. Dismount out of bowshot and prepare to strike. Now, forth, Riders of the North!' As he spoke a quick word to his steed, he and Hilwald leaped away, galloping down the Greenway at full pace. The others followed after, but try as they might, their horses could not match the speed of the steeds of the Mark. As they rode south, the rising Sun broke through the mists lying upon the East, and their arms and armour gleamed golden in the dawn.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Soon enough, the riders saw the ruins looming in the narrow vale between the Barrow Downs and the South Downs. Checking their speed, they dismounted silently and prepared themselves for battle. Talasantir and Talagand led their forces away while Éoléof and his men waited for their signal to strike. In the growing light, he strung his bow, while the Elf and Man drew their swords, looking to the east for word from Talagand.

    Scarce five minutes had passed since the others passed out of sight when Malere pointed silently into the air over the east part of the vale. Soon enough, Éoléof could make out for himself a bird winging up the valley, which lighted on the ground before his feet. The raven cocked its head to the side and held out its leg, allowing the Eorling to remove the message tied there before it flew off. He scanned the missive quickly before crumpling it and throwing it away.

    Éoléof looked up and met Malere and Maldrick's gaze. 'That was Talagand. All is in readiness. Now we move.' Nocking an arrow to his string, he cried out in a loud voice, 'Forth, Helmingas!' With that, he charged at the distant encampment, the others following after.

    The bandits were caught utterly unprepared. The others had done their work well. Through the broken gate of the old fortress, scattered forms could be seen crumpled on the ground, arrows sticking in their throats. The gate guards, intent on threats from the north, had not noticed the death behind them. Even as they caught sight of the attackers charging their position, they looked in surprise. However, their shock was short-lived, as Éoléof shot one through the heart while Malere and Maldrick fell on the other, swords gleaming in the sunlight.

    They stopped for an instant at the gate to survey the scene before them. Most of the defenders had already fallen to the arrows and knives of the others, with the few remaining bandits fighting for their lives as arrows rained down on them. Crying 'Helm! Helm!' Éoléof leaped toward the fighting, as the others followed him. The other groups had already passed through the inner gate of the castle and the sounds of fighting could be heard rising from within.

    As they passed within, Talagand could be seen wiping his sword off by a bonfire as the others passed up a set of stairs to assault more entrenched positions. He hailed the Eorling when he caught sight of him. 'The fighting is going well. There is a large man at the top of the hill, guiding the efforts here. Shall I slip in and take him out?' Éoleof shook his head. 'No. I will go have words with him.' Talagand shrugged. 'We will all go, then. Words are useless with this kind, but it is your mission.' With that, they took to the stairs.

    Here, again, most of the defenders had already been slain, and what few remained were caught in battle with the warriors of the North. Passing several bodies with slit throats and arrows in their backs, the party climbed another set of stairs to the highest level of the fortress. As they made their way to the southwestern corner of the ruined keep, several bandits cast themselves at the group and were quickly struck down. Finally, the assembled warriors stood before the leader of the bandits, an ill-favoured man with a white hand emblazoned on his baldrick.

    Though several of the others drew back their bows to strike him down, Éoléof quickly stepped forward, crying 'Hold!' He strode forward until he stood several paces from the bandit, who glowered at him from under his deep-set brows. Éoléof stared at him before speaking. 'Well, Isengarder filth? Your men are dead and you are severely outnumbered. If you wish to keep your worthless life, you will lift the barricade and leave these lands, never to return. What say you?'

    The bandit scowled and spit at the Eorling. 'I'd rather die than return to Sharkey with the job undo. There's more coming after me, anyway! Die, Straw-head!' With that, he drew his sword and charged forward. Before he took three steps, however, he fell dead with three arrows sticking in. Éoléof sighed and turned away. 'Well, that went about as well as I expected. Now, let's see to the barricade.' As they passed down the steps, Talagand looked at him in concern. 'Did we set a rearguard?'

    Éoléof stopped short, thinking. 'No, we did not. Talagand, Talasantir: go and watch for any counterattack. The rest of you, come. We will get that barrier down.' Drawing their swords, the Rangers paced silently away as the rest of the company continued down the stairs. At the barrier cast across the southward road, they paused, considering the task ahead of them.

    Taking some lengths of wood which were laid on the ground awaiting the wood-axe, Éoléof and Hilwald lodged them between two of the beams and leaned on them with all their weight. However, they were unable to budge the beams, even when several of the others aided them. Sighing in exasperation, Éoléof kicked the barrier. 'By the Mearas! We will need siege engines to bring this down!'

    Brenn spoke up. 'The wood is quite dry. We could burn it.' Éoléof turned to him, pointing at the arch overhead. 'Aye, that we could. But, the masonry is crumbling. Fire might bring the whole arch down and leave us worse off than we already are.'

    Malere suddenly broke in. 'Éoléof! I just received a raven from Talagand. A large force draws near!' The Eorling sighed and glanced at the barricade one last time. 'Very well, then. Fall back, all.' Raising his voice to a shout, he called 'Withdraw! Withdraw out of bowshot from the walls!' Hefting his spear, he followed the rest of the forces out of the ruins.



    As they regrouped outside of the fortress, Éoléof looked at the fortress in disgust. Talagand walked up beside him. 'A noble effort, but as I said, words would be wasted.' Éoléof nodded reluctantly in agreement. 'So it would seem. Not only that, but the barricade is too secure to be removed. We cannot move it by force, nor could we burn it without bringing down the arch above it. It seems we must take the long road east, then.'

    Talagand nodded in agreement. “Yes, this road will be watched now.' He pointed back into the ruins. 'Look. The vermin are already crawling back. Go back to Bree. Talasantir and I hold them off.' As Éoléof and the rest of the warriors mounted their horses, the Eorling looked down at the Ranger. 'Meet us at the Pony when you are finished, Talagand. We have much to discuss, all of us.' As the Dúnedain nodded in agreement, Éoléof looked at the rest of them. 'Now, then. Back to the Pony. Quickly.' With a noise like thunder, the horsemen rode away to Bree.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    In the common room of the Prancing Pony, the riders stood by the rear fireplace, waiting for the return of the Rangers. As they waited impatiently, some of them took mugs of beer from the landlord while others drew and filled their pipes. After some time, the door opened and the Rangers walked in, throwing back their hoods. Éoléof hailed them, and they came over to join the group.

    Nodding to the latecomers, the Eorling looked at the company. 'Now that we are here, let us retire to one of the back rooms where we can speak in peace. Follow me.' With that, he led them through the halls of the inn and up the stairs to a room on the first floor. As they paced in, each of the company took a position around the walls, with some sitting at the table, some on the floor, and some on the bed.

    Talasantir glanced around the room ruefully. He looked over at Éoléof. 'This is a little cramped.' The Eorling waved the complaint away. 'This won't take very long.' Éoléof removed his helmet and set it on the table by the door before looking at all of the company in turn. 'All of you, your aid was welcome today. I trust you know the reason why I sent out word asking for aid?'

    As heads began to shake, he continued. 'Then let me explain. I have received word of late that my homeland of Rohan is beset by forces of Mordor and of Isengard. With my own eyes, I have seen the Dunlending armies the traitor Saruman prepares to throw against the Mark. Gondor and Rohan are the bulwarks of the West. If they fall, there is nothing to prevent Mordor from overrunning Eriador, as well.'

    As the murmurs of shock started to arise, he held his hands up for silence. Malere spoke up before he had a chance to speak 'Do you doubt the strength of Gondor and Rohan's forces?'

    Éoléof nodded his head. 'Against the forces now arrayed against them from the East? Yes, I do. I have heard that the Corsairs have begun raiding Gondor's coasts, and that the Easterlings are again crossing Langflood to raid the Wold.” He looked at each of them in turn, holding their eyes before continuing. 'I am returning to the Mark. I know that Angmar remains a threat, but I would ask for as much aid as you are willing to lend. Come with me, and draw your swords in defence of the Mark and the West.'

    Talasantir and Talagand shook their heads. 'We cannot come,' Talasantir said. 'Eriador is our charge. At the most, we can hinder the Dunlendings in their homeland, but we cannot pass the Gap. We are sorry.'

    Edmyg looked up with fear and determination in his eyes. 'If I fight too much, I fear something terrible will happen to me. But, I will try to aid as much as I can. I will come.'

    Malere stood up. 'I will aid in whatever way I am needed.' Maldrick nodded in agreement. 'I will stand by your side, Éoléof, to defend the Free Peoples. I was born in Rohan; I must help as much as I can.'

    Brenn nodded in agreement, as well. 'At least until the Misty Mountains, I will ride with.' Hilward looked up doubtfully. 'I have nothing left in Rohan. But....' He paused for a moment before continuing. 'But, I will return to Rohan with you, Éoléof.'

    Éoléof sighed gratefully. 'Thank you, all of you. This means more than you can know. Now, we must discuss our road. Since the direct road south is closed to us, we must take a longer road. One that I am loathe to take, but we have no choice.'

    Talasantir looked up. 'I think I know which road you speak of. Moria.' At that name, every head turned to stare at him. Hilwald spoke the words that were on every tongue in the room: 'Did I hear you correctly?'

    Before Talasantir could speak, Éoléof interrupted. 'We will not take that road unless there is no other choice. I would rather risk the Redhorn Gate, even in the depths of winter. Regardless, that choice is still a long way before us. Our road leads to the Mountains, then south to Hollin. There, we must cross the mountains, either by the Gate or by the Mines.'

    'Damn!' exclaimed Hilwald, rising from his seat. 'Not the mountains! Is there no other way? Which is worse, the Mountains or Moria?!' Éoléof turned to him. 'The Gap is closed to us. I have seen the armies arrayed against us, and they are too many for we few to break. Perhaps the Redhorn Gate will be clear by the time we reach it. All this worrying is in vain for now. Regardless, it gets worse, Hilwald.'

    Hilwald chuckled grimly. 'Worse than Moria? I don't see how. Just to get back to my farm, I have to enter Moria and come out alive. What a thought.' Éoléof looked at him before continuing. 'After we cross the Mountains, we must skirt Dwimordene.' Hilwald shook his head in shock. 'I don't even know how to respond to this! We cannot trust them. You know the stories.'

    Éoléof shook his head. 'We have no choice, though. She aided Eorl in his ride; we can only hope she will show us her favour as well. After that, it is down the Langflood, over the Field of Celebrant, and into the Wold. There, the real work begins.' Malere spoke up. 'The folk of the Golden Wood will not harm you. I will see to that.' Hilwald sighed. 'Let us hope so. We only seek to pass it by.'

    Éoléof nodded in thanks to the Elf before finishing. 'That is our road, then. We will muster by the South-gate of Bree in one week's time. Gather your gear, and spread the word to any you can. We can use every sword. Until then, farewell, friends.' With that, he nodded farewell to the company, and left the room.

    Later that night, in his room at the inn, Éoléof sat staring at the fire with a mug of mead in his hand. 'So,' he murmured to himself. 'It has begun. The North will be raised, and will ride to the aid of the Mark. Now, to gather my folk for the journey.' Draining his mug, he wrapped himself in his sheets and prepared for the coming journey.
    Last edited by Cala_Romello; Mar 11 2013 at 06:41 PM. Reason: Added a picture!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  11. #11
    Thank you to everyone who took part in this event! I look forward to seeing you throughout the Ride!

    Remember: the Ride begins tomorrow, March 8, at 10 pm servertime! We muster at South-gate to begin the journey south. All races, classes, and levels are welcome! Don't worry if you aren't a high enough level to access Rohan; we'll take our time and give you plenty of chances and help with leveling.

    Forth now, Riders of the North!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  12. #12
    Chapter 4
    The Muster of the North



    Before the dawn, Éoléof roused himself from an uneasy sleep in his room at the Prancing Pony. After a small breakfast, he asked Butterbur for any provisions he could spare for the journey. The landlord produced several hard biscuits, a rope of sausages, two small wheels of hard yellow cheese, and a handful of apples. The Rider accepted them gratefully, as they would help keep him in the houseless wilds where he must soon tread.

    After settling his bill and leaving many promises to return if he could, Éoléof passed out the door of the inn and headed for the stableyard, where Fleanfot already stood awake in his stall, nosing at the morning air. Greeting his horse warmly, the Rider prepared him for the journey ahead with the rather less-than-capable assistance of Nob, Barliman's halfling stableboy. In addition to his saddle and tack, Éoléof fitted the warhorse in his full plate, for defence against the journey ahead.

    After all was in readiness, the Rider bid farewell to Nob and lead Fleanfot through the slowly-awakening streets of Bree. The call that he had sent out by raven to all the folk of the North had set the muster at dawn beyond the South-gate of the town, and he needed to be there before them. As he passed through the town gate, he looked to the East in the half-light, surveying the Chetwood and the road that he must take.

    Setting himself to the task at hand, Éoléof lit a fire to ward off the pre-dawn chill and sat himself to wait to see who would come in answer to his pleas for aid. Soon enough, he saw the first of his company pass through the gate: a woman of the Mark, leading a feisty brown mare. Standing to greet her as she drew near, he called out in greeting: 'Westu hal, lady! Have you come in response to my call for aid?'

    Leaving her horse next to Fleanfot, she bowed in response. 'Indeed I have. Revenwyn is my name. I have been away from the Mark for some time, and home calls to me.' As she warmed her hands over the fire, the Rider nodded in understanding. 'That is good to hear. I fear for the Mark, but I trust that our combined forces can free her. I am Éoléof son of Éadwine, by the way.'

    Before the shieldmaiden could respond, they caught sight of a stunted figure riding up from the East on a stout pony. Dismounting near them, the figure removed its helmet, revealing a Dwarf with a broad beard and honest face. As the Dwarf hailed the Rohirrim, Éoléof greeted him. 'Hail, Dwarf. Have you heard the summons to Rohan?'

    The Dwarf gave a gruff grunt of assent. 'Aye, I have. Is this the meeting-place?' As Éoléof nodded, the Dwarf continued. 'You may call me Kerg. I have journeyed far to aid you, and along the way, I have sent out summons of my own. Hopefully, more will come before we depart.'

    After thanking Kerg for his additional summons and accepting a flagon of ale from the Dwarf, the travelers all drew near the fire as the dawn began to break. Before long, however, an unexpected figure came from the West, skirting the ditch and hedge which defended the town. As the tall shape drew near, it became clear that the rider on the white horse was of Elf-kind. As the Elf dismounted and walked toward the fire, Éoléof hailed him. 'Greetings, Elf. Are you joining the Ride?'

    The stranger answered in a clear voice, 'Suilad! Yes, news of your purpose has reached me. I am here to offer what help I may.' Looking at the assembled faces, he continued, 'I am called Barabin. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Do we wait for more to come?' Éoléof bowed in response, saying 'Yes. We will wait till full day has dawned, then we ride. Any stragglers can follow our trail through the Lone Lands.' Before he could continue, three more folk passed through the gate of the town, leading tall horses.

    As they drew near, it become clear that one of the company was a Man, another an Elf-swain, and the last an Elven-maid, all clad in well-made gear which had, however, obviously seen much use. Standing a little ahead of the group, the Man hailed the assembled riders. 'Greetings, friends. We have heard the call and have come to lend our blades to your call. I am Meagh, a captain of Dale. This is Yonayah, a warrior of the Woodland Realm, and Sass, also of the realm of Thranduil.' The Elf-swain and maiden bowed in turn as he spoke their names.

    As Éoléof nodded in greeting, the Man continued. 'I am anxious to be off. It has been some time since I've seen my homeland, and if the news from Rohan has been bad, I fear for the folk of Dale.' The Rider responded with concern in his voice. 'The news from Rohan is indeed dire, but so is the news which has come west from Dale. One of your countrywomen I spoke with told of forces which are moving against Dale, as well as those which move against Rohan. All the East has risen, it seems. If we can break the forces which ride against the Mark, however, then Dale and the Mountain have a chance to stem the tide.'

    Looking at the assembled faces and the light which was rising in the East, Éoléof nodded as he put out the fire, making a decision. 'It is time. Mount your steeds.' After the company mounted, he spoke to them again, smiling. 'Let us give the Bree-folk something to remember. Follow me.' With that, he turned and rode at a trot through the streets of the town, drawing surprised glances from the townsfolk. He ignored them, however, until he reached the square in front of the Pony. There, he checked his steed and turned to face his troops.




    He looked each of them in the eye before he spoke in a clear voice, catching the attention of the assembled townspeople. 'Folk of the North, the time has come for us to leave these lands. Rohan stands in need of aid. Gondor cannot aid her, for the Enemy presses them even harder. Aid must come from the North, as in the days of Eorl. I will not lie: the road is long and hard, and we are few. However, we must not tire or falter. The Mark must not fall, or the forces of the Enemy will overrun these lands. With luck, we will gather more forces as we travel. For now, let us leave; let stragglers follow us as they may.'

    Standing in his stirrups, he drew his spear, pointing to the East and calling in a loud voice:

    'Rise now, arise, Riders of the North!
    Dire deeds awake, dark it is eastward!
    Swords shall be shaken, spears be splintered!
    Forth now, and fear no darkness!'



    As Fleanfot reared back and kicked at the air, Éoléof brandished his spear, crying out: 'Forth, Eorlingas!' With that, the company cried as one and their steeds leaped away, thundering down the streets of Bree, the shoes of their horses striking sparks from the paving stones. Through South-gate they passed, leaving the astonished stares of the Bree-folk behind them as they passed into the Chetwood.

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    Checking their speed, they slowed to a trot, marshalling the strength of their horses for the journey ahead. After pausing for their noon meal at the edges of the wood, the Riders passed into the wilderness of the Lone Lands. As the day drew to a close, they saw the hill of Weathertop rise up before them, while the shattered shape of the Forsaken Inn came into view at the top of a small rise. They passed the night within the inn, enjoying the last vestiges of civilisation it offered before journeying into the empty lands beyond at break of day.




    On they went, leaving the Inn behind as they continued into the Lone Lands before the Last Bridge. All that day, the bulk of Weathertop loomed before them, dominating the horizon. Nothing moved on the Road: neither four-legged, save for some deer who fled before them, nor two-legged, save some small birds which flew high in the clear air. That night, they made camp in a small dell to the north of the Road at the foot of the hill. They set a watch throughout the night, for their feared discovery from the lawless creatures which wandered the countryside.

    Through the next day and the one after, the landscape changed little, save that Weathertop sank slowly behind them. The rolling downs, withered grasses, and stunted clumps of trees changed little from day to day, as the Riders passed old forts of the North Kingdom, now long-ruined in the war that had torn that land apart. Finally, on the third day out from Weathertop, Éoléof called a pause at the top of a small rise as the Sun sank into the shadows in the West.

    Pointing ahead, slightly to the north of the Road, he showed the Riders a ruin which seemed slightly less wasted than the others that they had passed. 'That, friends, is Ost Guruth, the current Ruin-hold of the Eglain. We will make camp there for the night. We should be more secure there then we have been since Bree.' As the company nodded in agreement, he motioned forward with his hand. 'Let us go, then. We shall walk the rest of the way. It is not far, and we need to marshal our horses' strength for the days ahead. Be on guard for Orcs, however. They have been seen in these lands of late.'

    As they passed down the Road, they saw or heard nothing of import for perhaps an hour. As they neared the turning to Ost Guruth, however, they suddenly heard the gruff voices and laughter of a group of Dwarves coming from a small dell to the north of the Road. As they drew nearer, the voices fell silent as the Dwarves heard the steps of their steeds. Drawing abreast of the dell, the Riders looked down at a sizable group of Dwarves, all of whom eyed them with uncertainty as they grasped the hafts of their axes and hammers. One or two bent bows at the Riders as they dismounted and led their horses down into the dell.





    The Riders and the Dwarves each shared glances with one another as Éoléof stepped forward. One Dwarf, his grey beard reaching to the middle of his chest, stepped from his group, crossing his arms and eying the Eorling with distrust. 'What strangeness is this, Elf and Man abroad together on the march?' he exclaimed.

    Éoléof looked at the grey-beard curiously before answering. 'I could ask the same of you. What brings so many Dwarves so far from their mountain halls?' The Dwarf's eyes narrowed as he responded, 'That is for Dwarves and Dwarves alone, stranger.'

    The Rider shrugged in response. 'As you will. The Road is open to all.' The Dwarf interrupted, 'Do my eyes deceive me, or are you of the Men of Rohan, stranger?' The Man nodded slightly. 'That I am. Éoléof son of Éadwine is my name. And who might you be, master Dwarf?'

    'I am Núri son of Brodli of the Blue Mountains, and your people are not unknown to me,' the Dwarf answered haughtily. 'I know of the Men of Rohan, a land not well thought of by my folk. And the name Frám has never been forgotten by Durin's Folk, though the years since that time have lengthened beyond memory for most folk. Even a stripling among my people can relate the tale of Frám and his battle with the great dragon Scatha in the Grey Mountains. Great was the feat of battle to slay the worm, and greater still was the wealth Frám won.'

    The Dwarf glared at the Rider before continuing. 'Yet there were others that laid claim to the worm's hoard and who had reason to consider this. It was my kinsmen of old who had still dwelt in the north that presented this claim to Frám; they had battled the cold-drakes of the North for many years and had suffered much loss in their mountain halls. And yet Frám would not yield a penny: he sent the Dwarves instead the teeth of Scatha made into a necklace, saying, “Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by.”'

    'Some say that my folk slew him for such an insult; others say different. But, one thing is true: there is no great love between the Men of Rohan and the Dwarves,' Núri concluded, to the approving nods of his folk. Éoléof's eyes flashed in anger as he retorted, 'Yes, the tale of Frám is not forgotten among our folk either. His gift to your fathers was worth much; more than you know.'

    Núri's eyes flashed as he grew wroth in his turn. 'Worth, master of horses? What would you know of worth?' 'I know that Frám was worth far more than you know, master of stone,' Éoléof replied proudly. 'As he said, such teeth are dearly bought. And what would your folk have done if the tables had been turned? What wealth did your king Thorin give of his own will to the Men of the Lake?'

    As the Dwarves began angrily murmuring, Barabin quickly stepped between Éoléof and Núri. Glancing at each of them, the Elf quickly spoke. 'This bickering is useless. Let us leave their old grievances rest for now.' Revenwyn's voice rose in agreement: 'With the Shadow growing, should we not seek the aid of those who would fight against it and leave old grievances behind? For we have the same enemy.'

    As the Dwarves released the hafts of their weapons, Éoléof continued. 'To answer your question, Núri son of Brodli: I have heard tell that the Riddermark is in danger. I lead this force of Northerners to her defence.' Glancing at Barabin and the other Elves, the Dwarf responded, 'Indeed, Man of Rohan? And what of these Elves in your company? Never have I heard of the Men of Rohan and the Elves to ally with one another, not even in the days of Eorl the Young.'

    The Rider nodded. 'No, they have not. But, since coming to these lands, I have seen the strength of the arms of the Elves of Rivendell. They do not hesitate to fight the Enemy's servants wherever they find them, unlike those of Dwimordene.' At the mention of Rivendell, the Dwarf grumbled, 'Speak not of Rivendell and the House of Elrond to me, master of horses. My dealings with that House have not been pleasant.'

    Another of the Dwarves spoke up. 'If these folk can put up with each other, even for a while, then perhaps it would be wise for us to do so, as well. The road east is dangerous, or so I hear. Would not a great party be a lesser target than two small groups of travelers?' The Rider nodded in agreement. 'The same Shadow threatens all our lands: Rohan, Rivendell, Dale, the Wood, and the Mountain,' he said. 'The South Road is closed to us, so we take the East Road to the Mountains, then south to the Redhorn Gate.'

    A younger Dwarf with a short yellow beard interrupted. 'Yes, we do share the same Enemy, but not all of us share the same trust.' Before he could continue, Meagh strode forward. 'Not all have mistrust,' he said, glancing at the Dwarf before turning to Núri. 'Long have my folk, the Men of Dale, and the Dwarves of Erebor worked together.'

    Núri gave the Dale-man a long look before speaking. 'It is true that our kinsmen of Erebor and Dale have renewed their friendships of old, but this is another matter entirely.' Meagh held up his hand. 'Not so, not when a Captain of Dale rides with this party, friend. I can vouch for the purpose and honour of the Riders.' While Núri considered Meagh's words, Revenwyn spoke. 'Do you think that there are enough Dwarves to stand against the Shadow in the East? It will take all the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, working together, to stand against the Eye. We come not as foes.'

    Nodding in agreement, Éoléof spoke again. 'I do not know how far you go, but a greater company would be safer for all. Speak plainly, master Dwarf: what is the end of your road?' Núri eyed him cautiously ere he spoke. 'We go to the Misty Mountains; that is all I can say. What are you proposing, master Éoléof?'

    'Just this: that our paths lead together for some way,' the Rider said. 'Let us journey as a group, at least until we reach the Ford of the Loudwater. There, our path turns south, to Hollin and the Redhorn Gate.' As the Dwarves began to murmur in astonishment, Núri spoke. 'The Redhorn? That is a perilous journey and not one decided upon lightly. So, what is it that you ask of us, Man of Rohan?'

    Éoléof considered his words before he spoke. 'The Gap is closed to us, and I will not tread the other road unless we have no other choice. The Gate is the only way over the Mountains. This is what I propose, Núri son of Brodli: to set aside our grievances and travel together until the Ford. There, you can go your we, and we can go ours.' Eying the axes and hammers of the Dwarf-host, he smiled slightly. 'I have heard tell of the stout axes of the Dwarves and their hatred of the trolls. Your folk would be welcome companions as we journey through the Trollshaws.'

    Laughter rang from both groups. One of the Dwarves spoke up. 'Ha! I think they are asking us Dwarves to guard them!' Chuckling, Éoléof shook his head. 'Very well, think that if you must. A larger group may make enemies think twice before attacking us, that is all.' Smiling slightly, Núri stood silent before nodding his head. 'We shall journey with you to the Ford. There, perhaps, we can speak of this in greater detail, horse-master. I have sent many of our kinsmen ahead along the Road. There, at the Loudwater, we shall meet up with them.'

    The Rider nodded, grasping the reins of his horse, looking around at the growing dusk. 'Very well. For now, night falls. We were going to camp in Ost Guruth. Will you join us?' Núri looked at his group before answering. 'Let us make for Ost Guruth and rest for the evening.' As his company began to mount, Éoléof spoke quickly. 'Lead your horses. There is no need to ride. Let us go. The night grows cold, and I would welcome a fire and a wall between me and the wild.'




    With that, the two hosts set off, walking quickly to the base of the steps which led up to the ruinous walls and towers of the Eglain stronghold. There, Éoléof halted. Núri turned on the steps, asking, 'Why do you hold, horse-master?' Looking up at him, the Rider said, 'Let us two go up while the others remain here. The Eglain are not over-fond of outsiders. We should let them know that a large group has arrived.'

    As the Dwarves looked at the Rider distrustfully, the Dwarf-lord spoke. 'I have been here before, long ago. They are not lovers of Dwarves, but I have dealt with them in the past. If that is your decision, very well, though they have little to fear from us. Lead on, horse-master, and I shall follow.'

    Handing Fleanfot's reins to Revenwyn, Éoléof looked around before starting up the stairs. 'The rest of you, remain here. We shall return shortly.' With that, the Man and the Dwarf climbed the high stairs to the gate of the fortress, where they paused before two men, clad in ill-fitting leather armour and armed with crude spears. Éoléof strode up to one and spoke clearly. 'Hail, friend! We wish to speak to the Elder. Is he awake?'

    While the guard looked at the two of them in surprise, Núri spoke under his breath. 'I am sure the Elder is curled up beside a fire by now. These are no guards, but children at play with wooden swords and cloth shields.' As the Rider gave the Dwarf a stern glance, the guard spoke. 'Aye, the Elder should still be awake for a bit. What do you need him for?'

    Before Éoléof could speak, the Dwarf strode up proudly. 'Guardsman, fetch the Elder swiftly! We have no time for banter!' Stepping swiftly between them, the Rider spoke more gently. 'I, and this Dwarf here, have come with a large force of warriors. We would ask leave to enter Ost Guruth and shelter for the night.' After looking hard at the two of them, the guard nodded slightly. 'Head on in. The Elder'll want to hear about this.'

    With that, the two travelers walked down the short flight of steps into the fortress, stopping before an old man clad slightly better than most of the rest of the folk. As the two bowed before the Elder, the Dwarf spoke. 'Hail once more, Frideric the Elder. It has been a great deal of time since we last spoke, but I have returned once again.' Glancing sidelong at the Dwarf, the Eorling continued. 'Hail, Elder. I, and Master Núri here, have come with a host of warriors. We ask leave to camp within your walls. While we remain, our swords are at your command.'

    Glancing at the two of them, the Elder considered his words. 'Welcome again, both of you. We could use the help, no question. You can stay as long as you like, so long as you don't cause any trouble.' Nodding at the Dwarf, Éoléof bowed to the Elder. 'Many thanks, Elder. I will fetch our folk, by your leave.' With that, he turned and strode back through the fortress gates and down the steps to the assembled travelers. Beckoning them, he said, 'Come. The Elder will let us camp within.'

    The host, Dwarves, Men, Elves, and horses, passed up the steps, past the astonished guards, and into a quiet corner of the fortress, where they made camp for the night. As several of the Dwarves started cook-fires, the rest of the companies unrolled their bedrolls and made themselves comfortable. Already, the anxieties and distrust were beginning to lessen between the groups. Several travelers produced skins of ale and wallets of pipeweed, which were passed around to any who wished them while two Dwarves began cooking some fish and deer-meat they had killed just before the Riders appeared.

    Looking around at the assembled warriors, Éoléof smiled slightly. The journey was going well. Accepting the offered food and drink, he ate quickly, listening to his folk and the Dwarves talk to each other. As he pulled out his pipe, he caught Núri's eye over the fire. Nodding his head slightly, he received a nod in return. As he finished, he called out to the Dwarf-lord. 'For now, master Dwarf, I will sleep, in more peace than I have for some time. Tomorrow, though, I wish to speak with you.' With that, he wrapped himself in his blankets and was quickly asleep.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  13. #13
    Thanks to everyone who took part in the first leg of the Ride, and especially to Nuri and the rest of Durin's Folk for the unexpected RP! Now that we're at Ost Guruth, we're going to be having free-form RP whenever anyone is there. I am making an effort to be on every night between 9 or 10 till midnight or 1 am, servertime. Feel free to drop by and spend some time.

    If you still want to come, feel free to swing by! We'll accept all the help we can get. Don't worry if you're a low level; if you need help, let us know. We'll be glad to help out anyone who needs it.

    For now, the date for the next leg is tentatively set as March 15. We will muster again at 10 pm servertime and head on into the Trollshaws. If we need to move that, please let me know so I can co-ordinate things between the Riders and the Dwarves.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  14. #14
    So, a quick update: we have left Ost Guruth and crossed the Last Bridge into the Trollshaws. However, we are currently encamped on the far side, as we await the return of many of the Riders. We will move further into the Trollshaws on Sunday, March 24 at 10 pm servertime.

    Once again, anyone is welcome to join us as we slowly make our way to Rohan. Feel free to send a tell or mail to Eoleof in-game to let me know you're interested or to find out more.

    I'll have a write-up of the most recent leg posted sometime next week.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  15. #15
    I'm actually going to have to move the Ride a little bit. Instead of gathering at 10 pm EDT on Sunday, we will be gathering at 8 pm on Sunday.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    California
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    The Story of a Shieldmaiden

    Revenwyn sat silently at the camp they'd made after crossing the Last Bridge. She was glad to have left Bree behind her. All it held for her now was sadness. She'd come to Bree about six years ago, as a young woman of twenty-one, in an effort to go somewhere where her skills might be used. Now, at twenty-seven, she was again starting her life over.

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    As a baby, Revenwyn had been found by a middle aged couple with four sons, the youngest of which was seven years old. One by one, they grew up to be fighting men. Her adoptive father had been a warrior all his life, but now he was aging. He was still young enough to teach her the basics, in case service was required of him and there was nobody at home who could protect the family.

    But years came, the knowledge of battle, the strength of steel was in her hands, and she had nothing to do with it. She chafed at this life, and after her mother's untimely death of sickness, she left Rohan to travel. She eventually made her way to Bree, where she settled down, as it were, bought a house, and fought brigands and goblins in that area.

    One day she met a Ranger, his name was Baltheor. They became fast friends, fell in love, and eventually married. They had a good stable marriage but no children. They were partners, everything they did, they did together. But the day came when they were parted; a brigand captain and a few of his guards ambushed them, and more brigands came running into the fray. The Captain was killed, the brigands were either killed or fled, but Baltheor was left with a poisoned blade in his gut.

    They were too far from Bree to return, and Baltheor was fading fast. Revenwyn held his head in her lap and waited until he passed. She buried him under a tree with spectacular foliage, but she knew that she would not long be able to stay in Bree. There was nothing for her here now.

    That had happened six months ago.

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    Revenwyn snapped out of her trance when she felt wetness against her hand, unbidden tears had been rolling down her cheeks. She just hoped that in the dark of night none of the others had seen her crying.
    Last edited by NiennaLadyOfTears; Mar 17 2013 at 08:07 PM.


  17. #17
    Chapter 5
    The Last Bridge


    Two days later, Éoléof woke suddenly. Looking out from the Eglan-tent which he had used during his time at Ost Guruth, he saw the stars beginning to fade in the East with the approach of the dawn. Though he was eager to be off, he was concerned. Many of his folk had not come back the previous night from their errands for the Eglain, even though this was the day he had set for their departure into the Trollshaws.

    Shrugging off his concerns, he set about gathering his belonging and preparing for the next leg of their ride. Replacing his armour, which he had done off while in the relative safety of the ruin-hold, he slipped out of the tent and walked to the makeshift pickets where the Riders had tied their horses. Fleanfot pricked up his ears at his master's approach, wickering softly in the pre-dawn chill.

    As he prepared his horse for the day's journey, he heard soft but steady footfalls behind him. Turning his head, he saw Revenwyn carrying her packs to her own horse, her shield strapped across her back. Nodding to her, he turned back to his duties as she came up. Speaking softly so as not to break the still of the sleeping camp, he asked, 'Are you ready to continue?'

    'Yes,' she replied. 'Are we not waiting for the others?' He nodded. 'Yes, we will. The others are still wandering the plains, aiding the Eglain. They did not come back last night. I do not know where the Dwarves have gone,' he added with a scowl. The shieldmaiden chuckled slightly. 'That was a very interesting meeting,' she said.

    Éoléof smiled. 'Yes, it was.' As they finished, they untied their horses and walked over to one of the smouldering fires from the previous night, adding more logs to ward off the chill night air. As the time slowly passed, they watched the fire in silence, as light continued to grow in the East. After a time, Revenwyn spoke. 'I wish we had a minstrel among us. I had a lute once, but proved to be rather inept with it.' Éoléof looked over at her curiously. 'I know a few songs, but nothing that fits the journey we are making,' he replied. 'Regardless, my fingers are more adept at the bowstring than those of the lute.'

    Before either of them could say more, the stamp of booted feet could be heard coming up the steps from the plain. Jumping to their feet, the Eorlings grasped the hilts of their swords before releasing them as the short forms of two armoured Dwarves appeared at the gate of the fortress. Catching sight of the Riders, the Dwarves walked over to them, hailing them with gruff voices. Nodding in return, the Riders turned back to the fire.

    One of the Dwarves looked at the two of them before speaking again. 'How does the day find you, Lord Éoléof, Lady Revenwyn?' Hearing the titles, the Riders burst into laughter. As the Dwarf looked at them curiously, Éoléof spoke through his mirth. 'We are no nobles, master Dwarf! I am just a simple Rider, and my countrywoman is a shieldmaiden. Nothing more!'

    The Dwarf bowed as he spoke. 'Lord Núri spoke of you as a Horse Lord. Forgive my misunderstanding of your customs, Éoléof.' As the Rider replied, he noticed another Dwarf walking up. Nodding in greeting to him, he answered, 'It is understandable, master Dwarf. The Men of the West and the Elves call my folk the Rohirrim. The name mean's “Horse-Lords” in the Elven-tongue, or so I am told.' Sensing a lull in the conversation, the new arrival spoke. 'Hail, good Dramdi, and well met, Fjoldr. And greetings to all folk who gather for our journey.'

    The two Dwarves turned at the mention of their names, exclaiming in delight, 'Ah, Master Basalt! Well met!' As Dramdi and Basalt fell to talking, Fjoldr turned back to Éoléof with more questions. 'Are you then a Captain of your company?' The Rider smiled at his questioner as he answered. 'Of the Riders I have gathered in the North, yes. In the muster of the Westfold, however, I am but a scout in the éored based at the Hornburg. Leadership has been forced on me by necessity.'

    Fjoldr and Basalt both laughed at the mention of scouting. 'Ah, now, scouting is something I can understand well!' spoke Fjoldr, patting the crossbow strapped to his back. Still smiling, Basalt looked closely at Éoléof. 'Yet, it seems you lead well, if the company you have brought here is any indication.' Waving off the compliment, the Rider looked around in the dawn-light.

    Turning to the Dwarves, he asked the question which had been on his mind since he awoke. 'Where is Núri? I had wanted to speak to him ere we left.' Basalt answered, 'He has not yet arrived. The Eglain have kept him busy at what passes for a forge here, I think. I will go check.' Nodding, Éoléof looked out the gate of the fortress toward the Road. 'While you find him, I shall scout the Road. My folk are still out in the plains, and I hope to gather them before we leave.' Mounting Fleanfot, he looked down at the assembled folk. 'Wait for me. I shall be back before mid-morning.' With that, he rode swiftly out of the fortress, down the steps, and back to the Road.

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    Nothing moved on the Road near Ost Guruth, but that was no guarantee of safety. In addition, Éoléof had hoped to see some of his Riders on the Road, returned to the fortress in preparation for the journey. However, he saw nothing but the rolling downs in the growing light of day and heard nothing but the wind hissing through the sere grasses. Undeterred, he turned west and rode easy for an hour, finding nothing but the normal animals of the plains.

    Turning back to the East, he rode hard, passing Ost Guruth and cresting the final hill before the vale of the Hoarwell. There, he paused and surveyed the several miles of road which lay before him, watching the river glint as it passed underneath the Last Bridge far off. Nothing moved on the Road east, either. An unnatural stillness lay on all the Lone Lands, and Éoléof turned quickly away, returning to the ruin-hold. Perhaps while he had been gone, the Dwarves and the rest of his folk had returned.

    As he rode slowly back up the steps of the fortress, he saw that the assembled group had grown. All of the newcomers, however, were Dwarves; no more Riders had come. Riding up to the company, he dismounted, saying, 'Nothing moves on the Road. Let us press on.' Basalt nodded approvingly. 'Good,' he said. 'Let the vile beasts keep to their dens this day.' Éoléof shook his head slowly as he walked over to stand next to Núri. 'No folk are moving, either. I do not know where the rest of my Riders have gotten to. This is worrying.'

    Revenwyn shook her head sadly as the Dwarves murmured among themselves. 'To think that so few wish to return to Rohan....' she said softly as Fjoldr looked around. 'What of the Elves?' he asked. 'Have they returned to their woods?' Éoléof shrugged. 'I do not know. Neither our folk nor the Elves can be found. I have tracked folk and beasts for years, yet I can find no trace of them.'

    Basalt spoke darkly, 'Hopefully, they have gone to herald our passing. I do not wish to catch an Elven arrow on this journey.' 'I can only hope that is the case,' said Éoléof. Before he could say more, Núri stepped in front of him, planting his feet wide apart and giving him a stern glance. 'I must ask, horse-master, what is the plan for today? To journey to the Hoarwell, or do you wish to travel further, into the forbidding Trollshaws while the sun lasts?'

    The Rider looked down at the Dwarf before speaking. 'I should like to cross the Last Bridge today and press on to one of the camps in the wilderness beyond. Ere we leave, I should like to speak with the Elder. I left a message in Bree for our folk to gather here, and I would like them to know where we have gone.' Núri looked at him darkly. 'Perhaps we should remain cautious and make for a camp I know of just beyond the bridge. I know of the lands across the bridge, for I walked there once long ago. I do not cherish the thought of encamping in the wilds east of the river, but it should be safe to rest at this camp for the evening.'

    Éoléof nodded slowly. 'Perhaps that is for the best, Núri. I have scouted the Road as far as the Bridge, and it is safe.' Looking at the Rider, the Dwarf replied, 'Very well, horse-master. As soon as your Riders are ready, we will depart. Until then, I will speak with my kinsmen and prepare for the road ahead.' With that, he turned away and began speaking in a low voice to his folk.

    Eying them curiously, Éoléof spoke to Revenwyn quietly in the tongue of the Mark. 'What do you think? I cannot find any of our folk on the Road. I am loathe to leave them, but I do not wish to waste more time.' Revenwyn replied in the same language. 'I am worried as well. Perhaps we should press on for now and hope that the others will follow as they may. Going with the Dwarves will require us to move slower than we would otherwise.' Éoléof nodded slowly. 'You are right. I will speak with the Elder and give him a message for those who may follow us.'

    With that, he walked away from the group and over to the Elder, who now stood some distance off from the company, watching them with curiosity. As the Rider drew near, the Elder bowed his head in greeting. Éoléof spoke in a clear voice, 'Elder, we thank you again for your hospitality. However, the time had come for us to press on. If any folk come this way seeking us, tell them that we have crossed the Last Bridge into the Trollshaws. There, they can seek us on the Road to the Ford. Fare you well. I doubt that I shall see you again.'

    As he walked back to the company, he saw that one last Dwarf had joined the group: an old grizzled greybeard with a patch over one eye and a dour voice. Paying him no heed, Éoléof paced over to Núri, who looked at him expectantly. 'What is the word, horse-master?' the Dwarf-lord asked. 'I have done what I can,' the Rider replied. 'When my folk come here, the Elder will tell them where we have gone. Let us away.'

    Though the newcomer eyed Éoléof with distrust, Núri nodded his head in agreement. 'Very well, but I do not think that separating before entering the Trollshaws is a good plan. However, they are your folk, not mine.' With that, he called to the assembled Dwarves. 'Ready yourselves, kinsmen! We will march for the Bridge and then make for the camp in the hills beyond.' As the Dwarves began their final preparations, the latecomer spoke gruffly to Núri.

    'Why are we cavorting with this... Man, of all things?' he asked. 'We have no need of this Horse-Lord or his ilk. Let them go their own way.' As Éoléof opened his mouth to speak, Basalt cut in. 'Master Steinnrand, their way is the same as ours, at least for a while. It would be wise to move as a large group.' The Rider nodded swiftly. 'We are simply traveling companions for a time, master greybeard,' he said. 'After the Ford, you can go your way, and we will go ours.'

    Ignoring Steinnrand, Núri continued with his preparations, so Éoléof shrugged off the insult and did the same. As he finished tightening Fleanfot's tack and securing his saddlebags, Núri walked over to him. 'Is everything ready? Shall we begin, horse-master?' Before the Rider had a chance to reply, Steinnrand cut in, pushing Núri slightly. 'Do not speak to him as if you were at his beck and call! We go when we wish it!' Sighing, Éoléof answered Núri. 'All is as ready as may be. Let us be off. The others can follow when they will.'

    Looking sidelong at his kinsman, Núri answered him. 'Do not misunderstand, master Steinnrand. They are at our pleasure, not the reverse.' Turning back to the Rider, he continued, 'Let us be off, then, while the Sun shines.' The other Dwarf grumbled, 'Then, let them go ahead. The slow minds of Men are a dead weight.'

    As he turned away and mounted Fleanfot, Éoléof scoffed at the Dwarf. 'I do not need this. Revenwyn, let us be off. We can wait for Núri and Master Greybeard at the Bridge. Perhaps, by then, some of them may have learned courtesy.' As he turned his horse toward the gate, Steinnrand lunged forward, barely restrained by Basalt and Hergof. 'And we do not need you, fools!' Ignoring the insults, the Riders rode down the steps of Ost Guruth and back out the Road, leaving the Dwarves in their dust.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    Once on the Road, the two Eorlings turned their horses to the East, riding steadily but easily. Within an hour, they had crested the last hill, where they paused. Éoléof pointed ahead over the miles to the river which could be seen far off. 'There it is,' he said. 'We will await the Dwarves on this side of it.' As they set off again, Revenwyn sighed. 'It sounds like a good plan. If they come at all, that is.'

    Éoléof looked over at her as their steeds walked down the Road. 'They will come. The Bridge is the only way over the Hoarwell below its springs, and the Road is the only safe way through the wilderness beyond. If they make for the mountains, they will have to cross it.' As they passed onwards, they spoke of the paths in the lands over the river.

    'I have heard that there are no safe paths in the wild,' the shieldmaiden said. The Rider nodded in agreement. 'There are no truly safe paths, but the Road is the clearest and quickest way through the troll-fells.' Revenwyn sighed. 'It seems I have much still to learn about these lands.' With that, they passed the miles in their own thoughts until they reached the bridgehead in the mid-afternoon.

    Dismounting, they tied the reins of their horses to the railing of the Bridge, while they sat and ate while they awaited the arrival of the Dwarves. The shadows were beginning to stretch towards the East when they caught sight of the dust of the Dwarves' passage on the Road. They stood and checked their gear as the company came up to them.

    As the Dwarves halted, Núri walked up to Éoléof, looking about him. 'It seems the rest of your riders have gone astray like new-born foals, horse-master.' The Rider shrugged in response as some of the Dwarves chuckled. 'I cannot speak for them. They are their own masters. I simply asked for their aid, and they are welcome to leave when they will. If I must lead only two swords on the Road south, so be it.'

    Núri looked at him curiously before continuing. 'So be it, but I will not take the blame for those left in the wilds beyond this bridge. They are left to their own devices. The camp I spoke of is not far from here. We should make it there before the Sun sets.' Scowling, Steinnrand spoke up, saying, 'I wish you had gone ahead, Man, instead of making us hold your hand like a wee babe.'

    As they set off, walking with the Dwarves over the span of the Bridge, Éoléof looked over his shoulder at the foul-tempered Dwarf. 'I do not need your aid, Master Dourbeard,' he said. 'I simply thought Isenscur could slay some trolls for you. Perhaps make your way a little easier.' He patted his bow as he spoke. Steinnrand retorted, 'Oh? And what would you know about slaying trolls without your precious horse beneath you? I have fought more battles than you have taken breaths, Man.' The Rider took a deep breath before replying. 'I know more than you may think, Dwarf.'

    The Dwarf scoffed. 'So, you know how to count as well as walk? I'm impressed. Hopefully, we won't have to feed you from the teat.' Rolling his eyes, the Rider muttered under his breath to Revenwyn, who walked beside him, 'I am beginning to doubt more and more taking up with these bearded brutes.' She spoke softly in the tongue of the Mark. 'Peace. Some seem like decent enough folk.' Shaking his head, Éoléof kept walking.

    For some time, the group continued on in relative silence, with only soft conversation between the Dwarves breaking the woodland stillness. Suddenly, though, Steinnrand forced his way past him.'Dwarves lead. You Men follow,' he said roughly. The Rider groaned in disgust. 'I do not need this,' he sighed, mounting his horse.

    Seeing this, Steinnrand let out a harsh laugh. 'So you need the help of some stupid beast to walk? Impressive.' As he rode past him, Éoléof gave the Dwarf a hard look. 'Keep a civil tongue in your head, Dwarf, or I will cut it out. Fleanfot is wiser than you. And has more courtesy.' With that, the Rider rode ahead to the camp Núri had spoken of, little more than a fire on a ledge shielded from the view of the Road. There, an Elf and a Dwarf looked at each other warily and glanced at the travelers who were now following the Rider up the path.

    Barely glancing at the Elf, Núri walked up to the Dwarf and greeted him heartily. 'Hail and well met, Master Heithur! We ask your permission to camp here this night. These are my kinsmen from Ered Luin, who are come on a mission of mercy.' As the Dwarves continued talking, Steinnrand stalked over to the Riders with malice in his remaining eye. 'I would watch your mouth, Man,' he growled. 'I am plenty civil when not in the company of men who wish to lay with their horses.'

    Éoléof glared at the greybeard while Revenwyn took a step toward him, muttering under her breath. 'From what I heard from the Dale-folk, Dwarves are civil folk,' he spat. 'I see they were mistaken.' As a younger Dwarf moved between the shieldmaiden and Steinnrand, Fjoldr walked over and spoke to the greybeard. 'Is the Shadow not dark enough that we must create our own darkness wherever we march, Steinnrand?' he asked.

    Steinnrand, however, pushed him away and leveled his finger at the Rider. 'We are civil to those we call friends, not to burdens,' he snarled. 'You are not as hearty as the Men of Dale, nor as smart.' With that final insult, the cup of the Rider's anger finally overflowed. 'Enough!' he shouted. 'I can take no more of these insults! Núri! A curse on Dwarves and their stiff necks!' As the Dwarves began to growl, Stiennrand lunged at the Rider, crying, 'A curse on Men and their thick heads!'

    Turning to go, Éoléof pointed at Steinnrand with his spear. 'May your beard fall out and Trolls feast on your bones!' he cried. 'Revenwyn, we leave now!' As they rode back down the path, he heard the Dwarf shouting at his back. 'Let us hope we never meet again, Man! I will not hold back my axe a second time!' Turning over his shoulder, the Rider shouted back, 'Nor I my bow, Dwarf! I shall take your other eye, if ever we meet again!' Leaving the Dwarves in anger behind them, the two Eorlings returned to the Road.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    That evening, as they returned to the east side of the Last Bridge, Éoléof continued grumbling to himself. 'I see now that Frám was too kind to them, and his gift was too rich by far,' he muttered. 'He should have slew their fathers and spared us these insults.' Revenwyn nodded in agreement as they set to making a small fire. 'That one Dwarf was intolerably rude,' she said. 'I was beginning to enjoy their company until he showed up.'

    Éoléof nodded slowly. 'I agree,' he said. 'Stay here for the moment. I will see about supper.' With that, he stalked off into the woods with his bow drawn. Soon enough, he returned dragging the carcass of a boar behind him. After cleaning and butchering the boar, they set down by the fire on the roadside, watching for travelers and roasting the meat. As they waited, they fell to talking of the road ahead.




    'We're better rid of the Dwarves anyway,' Éoléof said. 'I have ridden these lands before. Once more of our folk come, we can easily make it through on our own.' He sat and thought for a moment. 'I had actually planned on that, anyway. I simply thought we and the Dwarves could aid each other. I see that is not possible, however.'

    'Some of them were willing,' Revenwyn said thoughtfully. 'One actually waved good-bye to me as we left.' Her companion grunted noncommittally, though. 'I am more concerned by what has happened to the Elven-folk,' he said. Looking at the Elf standing guard at the foot of the Bridge, he continued. 'It seems our coming has been expected. They may have come through before us.'

    Revenwyn chuckled. 'I think, rather, it is the case that they did not wish to travel with Dwarves, either,' she said. 'As they thought we were continuing with the Dwarves, they decided to decline the rest of the journey.' Éoléof smiled as he checked the cooking meat. 'It would not surprise me at all if that were the case. Take what you want,' he said, pointing to the meat. 'It's done.'

    As they began eating, Revenwyn looked around and sighed. 'I do hope others join us later,' she said. 'It will be a long road without them.' Éoléof looked up from his food. 'I am sure they will. Others of my company are still roaming the wilds, and some of my comrades-in-arms have pledged to come,' he said. 'I do not know what is taking them, however.'

    Before he could say more, he heard the sound of heavy booted feet coming down the Road toward them. 'They have come back!' he exclaimed, leaping to his feet and bending his bow as three of the Dwarves came marching out of the gloom. A voice rang out. 'Put up your bow, good horse-master! We come as friends, with no harsh words upon our lips!' As they drew closer, the Rider recognised three of the more fair-spoken Dwarves: Basalt, Fjoldr, and Dramdi.

    Lowering his bow, he crossed his arms as the Dwarves drew near the fire. As the Dwarves bowed in greeting, Basalt said, 'Not all of our folk think the same of your people.' Fjoldr nodded his head in agreement. 'I will not share in the shame of others,' he said, 'though I cannot apologise for their ill-spoken words.' As Éoléof looked at them with distrust, Basalt continued. 'We, at least, would like to aid you in your travels. For a while, at least, if you will have us.'

    As Éoléof considered the offer, Revenwyn spoke softly to him. 'I heard no ill words from the lips of these three this afternoon,' she said. Finally, the Rider nodded. 'I will not begrudge the company, so long as you speak and act fairly,' he said. 'I will not stand idly by and have the honour of my folk and our horses besmirched. I am willing to take you on trust, but mark me: if any ill word passes your lips, I and my folk will leave without a second thought. For now, though: come, join us.'

    As they sat down and helped themselves to the food, Fjoldr said, 'I ask that you remember that not all Dwarves can be judged by the actions of a single one, just as all Men cannot be known from the actions of one.' Before he could say more, Éoléof held up his hand. 'Enough,' he said. 'I will speak no more on him. If ever I hear such words from him again, though, my arrows will fly on their own.'

    The Dwarves nodded in understanding. Basalt said, 'Yes, harsh words were spoken. But, as good Fjoldr has said, not all Dwarves share his views.' Dramdi said, 'My brothers and I have a better view to the future. Stubbornness will not keep us alive in the coming days.' Fjoldr added, 'Indeed. Not all have blinkers on their eyes to cloud their judgement.'

    They passed some time in quiet discussion, but as the Moon began to rise above the trees to the East, Revenwyn yawned and stood up. 'Alas, I must turn in for the night,' she said. 'I bid you all a good night. Hopefully, we will have a stronger company for the morrow's journey.' As the others bid her good evening, she walked down near the riverside and made camp.

    The Dwarves and the Rider, though, remained around the fire, their talk turning to the road they must take. Looking the Dwarves in the eye, Éoléof said, 'So, you say you are willing to come with us. I wonder: how far?' Basalt spoke slowly, considering his words. 'It is said our folk are unwelcome in your lands, and I do not wish to cause trouble for you among your own people. However, we are willing to accompany to the Redhorn Gate.'

    'Your folk are distrusted in the Mark because of old stories and because of such dour folk as that old goat you traveled with,' the Rider replied. 'If folk are well-spoken, they are welcome; especially those who are as grim in war as the Dwarves are said to be.' Basalt nodded sadly. 'Indeed, with ones such as him, there is reason to distrust our folk, though it shames me to admit it,' he said.







    The Rider returned to the business of the road. 'To the Gate, you said, though? That is welcome,' he said. He continued in a quieter voice. 'Indeed, it may prove our salvation. I have not spoken of it to any of the others, but I fear we may not be able to pass the Gate. With the Gap closed, we may need the help of Dwarves if we must take the only other road.'

    Basalt spoke hesitatingly, as if he did not like the direction their speech was taking. 'We will come to the Gate,' he said, 'and perhaps further, if what you say is true and we still find each other's company agreeable. However, I have heard tell of no dangers in the pass, save the ordinary troubles of crossing the mountains in winter.' He paused for a moment before continuing. 'Were you to heed anything a Dwarf may say, I pray it is this: the other road you speak of is more terrible than you know, and not to be attempted lightly!'

    The Rider nodded slowly. 'I know,' he said. 'The need is dire, though. Should the Gate prove impassible, we must risk it, or die trying. The Mark needs aid. She cannot stand on her own, not with the hordes of Mordor and Isengard pressing her.' Fjoldr asked, 'But are there no other roads available to a small party such as ours?'

    Éoléof shook his head. 'I have scouted far, master Dwarf,' he replied. 'This journey was not undertaken lightly or in haste. The High Pass above Rivendell is impassible due to snow. The Gap of Rohan is closed by the hordes of the Dunlendings and the maggot-folk of Isengard. We can only cross the mountains at the Redhorn. Either over them....' He paused for a moment. 'Or under them.'

    'A dangerous journey either way,' said Basalt. 'But I suspect your folk already knew that.' The Rider nodded. 'Yes, they do,' he said. 'They all knew the road we would take and the dangers that lay on it. I cannot speak for the others, but I will risk all for the Mark. My homeland is all I have left. Everything else has been taken from me.' He paused, mastering his emotions. 'I will not watch her die, not while I can set a spear at rest and ride against her foes. I am glad for the company, as long as you wish to come with us.'

    Basalt looked at him with admiration. 'That is good to hear,' he said. 'I would ask no one to turn aside from a task that needs doing, but I would have them know the risk.' He looked into the darkness in the East as he continued. 'Indeed, I wish now others could hear you speak of your homeland in such a way. It was not long ago that Dwarves spoke the same of our lost home.'

    Stifling a yawn, the Rider stood. 'I am glad to have you and your folk with me,' he said. 'Now, though, the night is old. We must leave in the morning. I would rest, while we may. Good night to you all.' As the Dwarves bade him good night and Fjoldr walked off to take the first watch, Éoléof walked down hear the river, checking the horses' pickets. As he unrolled his bedroll, he looked back across the river to the lands they had already crossed. Sighing, he wrapped himself in his blankets and was quickly asleep.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  18. #18
    The Ride will gather again tonight at 8:00 pm servertime for the next leg of our journey. I do not know how far we will go this evening. We may make it all the way to the Ford of Bruinen, or we may have to stop earlier. If we make good time and we have a decent-sized group, we might even go all the way to Echad Candelleth.

    Who knows? Come and join us and find out!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  19. #19
    Chapter 6:
    Into the Trollshaws


    As the Sun rose over the distant mountains the next morning, Éoléof sat near the fire by the roadside, sharpening his spear and waxing his bowstring. He had taken the last watch of the night, having been awakened by Basalt some hours before. Through the lonely watches of the night, he heard no sound but the usual night-noises of any wilderness: the murmur of the river, the wind in the yellowing leaves, the snuffling of beasts in the undergrowth.

    In the spreading light of day, he left the embers of the fire to gather wood from fallen branches for the preparation of their morning meal. After building up the fire, he returned to the riverside, where he pulled several cuts of boar meat from their resting place among the stones of the riverbed. After placing the meat on the fire to cook, he returned to his vigil, watching the Road for signs of any travelers.

    Soon enough, the smell of the cooking meat awoke his companions, who joined him at the fire. As they gathered around the fire to dispel the chill of the night, they fell to small talk while they waited for the meal to cook. Looking at Éoléof, Revenwyn asked, 'Are we aiming for an early start to the day?' The Rider nodded in response. 'We will wait but a little while to see if any stragglers follow us down the Road. If they do not, we will leave word with the Elf who stands watch over the Bridge. She can let the others know where we have gone.'

    The others spoke their assent to this course of action, for none of them wished to be caught in the wilds of the Trollshaws at night. Looking about her, Revenwyn sighed. 'The further I get from Bree, the better,' she said. Basalt looked over at her in surprise. 'You have no liking for Bree-town?' he asked. She shook her head slowly. 'Not anymore,' she replied. 'I made my life there for a while, but that life is over. All it holds for me any more is pain.' She silently fingered something which hung from a chain around her neck.

    Basalt looked at her thoughtfully. 'Then perhaps it is fortunate that the world is a large place,' he said. 'Surely you could find another land to be happy in?' Revenwyn sighed again. 'I do not know if I can ever be happy again,' she said softly. 'It is only recently that I have been able to rouse myself to do anything.' An uncomfortable silence fell on the group. To disperse it, Éoléof replied to Basalt's original question. 'I know I have no love for Bree,' he said. 'I grew up in the foothills of the White Mountains. I miss the sight of the south wall of my homeland.'

    The Dwarves chuckled at that comment. 'I miss the sight of any mountains, good Éoléof,' Basalt said. 'The hills of these lands are a pale imitation.' The Rider laughed as he checked the food. 'It looks ready,' he said. 'Go ahead and eat. I think I will play for a while to pass the time.' Walking to Fleanfot, he pulled a small lute from one of the saddlebags and came back to the fire.

    After seating himself and retuning the instrument, he began strumming a soft and sad tune, which he accompanied with words in the rich and rolling tongue of the Mark. Revenwyn looked sharply up when she caught the words before shutting her eyes. The others simply sat and ate, listening to the words though not comprehending them. As he finished, Basalt said, 'I know not the words, but it seems to my ears a tale most sorrowful.'

    Laying aside his lute and taking some meat from the fire, the Rider nodded. 'It is an old song of the Mark,' he said. 'It is a lament for the passing of the first King of the Mark, Eorl the Young. In the Common Tongue, it runs thus:'

    Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
    Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
    Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
    Where is the spring and the harvest, and the tall corn growing?
    They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
    The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
    Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
    Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?'

    Basalt sat silent for a few moments before speaking. 'Your king must have meant much to your folk, for them to sing of him in such a song,' he said. 'I suppose it is a sorrowful time for any people when a good king passes into the Halls.'

    'He was a mighty warrior, one such as we have not seen since,' said Éoléof. 'He led the forces of the Éothéod to the salvation of Gondor at the Field of Celebrant, driving the Easterlings in rout before him. He was a mere youth when he came to the leadership of our people. He had only sixteen years, for his father Léod had been killed untimely while trying to tame the greatest horse who ever lived.'

    The others listened intently as the Rider continued. 'The Éothéod named the horse Mansbane, but Eorl swore he would tame the horse. For weeks, he tracked him until the horse finally tired. Eorl told Mansbane that he would take his service as weregild for Léod's death, and the horse submitted. Eorl renamed him, calling him Felarof. That horse is the ancestor of the Mearas, the steeds of the Kings of the Mark, who can ride like the wind and understand the speech of Men.'

    'When Eorl was five-and-twenty, Cirion, Steward of Mundburg, sent message north to the Éothéod, asking for their aid. The Easterling hordes were massing for an attack on Gondor. At that time, our people lived in the northern vales of Langflood, north of Mirkwood. It was a journey of more than 300 leagues from Mundburg, through treacherous lands crawling with enemies.' He paused for a moment, looking at the sky. 'I have spoken enough on this for now, though. Perhaps I will continue the tale at our next camp.'

    Basalt spoke in admiration. 'I find the tales of your folk fascinating,' he said. 'I must admit, we do not keep the lore of many peoples in Erebor.' As they prepared for their departure, Revenwyn said, 'While we are on the subject of tales, what brought each of us to the North?' Basalt laughed. 'I was born in the North, lady, though far to the east of here, in the Iron Hills. I was sent west by my king, Dáin II Ironfoot, to our old halls in the Blue Mountains. There, I met Lord Núri and took up with his group.' Fjoldr and Dramdi nodded. 'Our tales are much the same as Basalt's,' they replied.

    Éoléof spoke next. 'As I said, I lived in the foothills of the White Mountains, near to the mouth of the Deeping-coomb. I raised horses, as my father did before me, until the Dunlendings raided my homestead while I was away.' His voice caught slightly as he continued. 'They left none alive. Not my aged mother, not my wife, nor even my little daughter.' The others looked at him with shock and sadness as he spoke quickly. 'I joined the Riders of the Hornburg to wreck vengeance on the Dunlendings, but that proved my undoing. Earlier this year, while our éored pursued a raid back across Isen, we were ambushed by Dunlendings and Orcs out of Isengard.'

    He paused for a moment as he mastered his emotions before continuing. 'I and several others were separated from the main force during the attack and forced to flee up the South Road. One we lost to a poisoned wound the day after the battle.' He heard Revenwyn gasp softly as he continued. 'The other two were killed in an ambush by bandits a few days south of Bree. I only escaped through the speed of Fleanfot, but I still took several wounds. The next thing I remember was waking up in the Pony with my arm and legs bandaged. Since then, I have striven to return to the Mark so that I might continue to seek vengeance against our enemies.'

    As they mounted their steeds, Basalt spoke. 'A sad tale, but your vengeance shall live as long as you. Perhaps even after, for the Dunlendings have harmed many folk.' Hearing the Dwarf speak reminded the Rider of something he wished to ask. 'During my journey northward through Dunland, I saw what looked like Dwarf-ruins,' he said. 'Did your folk live there once?'

    'Aye, that they did,' the Dwarf replied. 'When my folk were driven from Erebor by Smaug the Terrible, some of them settled in the Iron Hills, where I was born. Others crossed the Misty Mountains, building halls in Dunland, until Thror was slain. That was in my grandfather's time, perhaps two centuries ago.'

    Revenwyn spoke softly as they rode along. 'I just grew bored of disuse,' she said. 'I was a young, idealistic girl of twenty-one when I left Rohan in search of adventure. My father had trained me to fight, for the need of the times was dire, but war never came to my town. So, I left, looking for places to put my skills to use. On my travels, I heard that Bree-land was near to being overrun by brigands, so I went there. I lived there for the last six years.'

    'Five years ago, I married a man named Baltheor, and we oft fought the brigands together. But, one day, we were ambushed.' She paused, sniffing at the tears starting in her eyes. 'I buried Baltheor six months ago. He died in the ambush, from a poisoned wound.' She looked at Éoléof as she continued. 'We had managed to slay the brigands and their captain, but he died soon afterwards. I have only recently roused myself back to life, and I decided that I needed to leave Bree behind me. I suppose that I should return to Rohan and my family.'

    Basalt looked at her with kindness as he rode up next to her. 'Brigands and the like reap what they sow in the end,' he said softly. 'There will be no honour for them in the Halls.' Revenwyn nodded slightly. 'No, there certainly will not,' she said. Éoléof looked back at them, his expression difficult to read. 'Let us continue on our way,' he said. 'There is a camp of the Sons of Elrond in the midst of the Trollshaws. We should be able to make it before the Sun sets.'

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    They continued down the Road for several hours, moving warily through the dense woodland. As they journeyed, they passed the ruins of many towers and fortresses perched on the ridges above the Road. The travelers eyed the ruins distrustfully and hurried past them, for the remains had an evil look. They neither met nor passed any other travelers on the Road until the early afternoon. Then, as they were climbing to the top of a small ridge, they heard steady hoofbeats coming down the Road toward them.

    The Riders halted and grasped their weapons as the hoofbeats grew louder, though they could not see the rider around a bend in the Road. When the rider passed around the bend, however, the Riders exclaimed in surprise, for the tall form atop the brown horse was plainly that of Barabin. Éoléof rode up to him, crying 'Westu Barabin hal! You have been missed. Where did you get off to?'




    The Elf-lord smiled at the company. 'Hail, friends,' he said. 'I apologise for my absence, but I took it upon myself to ride ahead and announce your coming to my folk who guard these woods. Your passage has been watched since you crossed the Bridge. You will be protected, until you leave these lands.' Éoléof nodded. 'I thought as much,' he said. 'We saw some of your folk at the foot of the Bridge and on the Road.'

    Barabin laughed, the clear sound ringing through the still wood. 'My people are even now passing through these woods on their way Westward,' he said. 'There are more than just the few you might have noticed.' Basalt chuckled. 'Good to hear, master Elf,' he said. 'I would not want to catch an Elf-arrow if your people thought we were trespassing.'

    Glancing at the Road ahead and the westering Sun, Éoléof asked, 'Might we pass the night at the camp of Elrond's sons? I was caught on the Road at night in these lands once before, and I have no desire to do so again.' Barabin looked at him. 'You mean to make for Thorenhad, then? You would be welcome there,' he said. The Rider nodded. 'If that is the camp's name, then yes,' he replied. 'Lead on, master Elf! You know these lands better than I.'

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    With that, the company rode on, now with more haste in their eagerness to reach a safe haven as soon as may be. As they passed down the Road, Éoléof rode next to the Elf, seeking to determine the course their road must take after the next camp. In response to his questions, Barabin gave him an enigmatic look, saying, 'A storm approaches.' He would say no more than that.

    The Rider scoffed. 'Very well, keep your secrets, then,' he said and rode on, silent and occupied with his own thoughts. As the Sun continued to sink in the West and began to reach the treetops, the Elf turned aside from the Road and led the company to a small ruin on a ridge overlooking the Road. There, he hailed a lone Elf who stood watch before turning to face the travelers. 'Wait here for a moment, if you will,' he said. 'This is not the camp, but I must go and herald our coming.'




    With that, he rode off, leaving the others behind. Scarce half an hour had passed, however, before he returned, beckoning the company to follow him. He led them up a narrow path through the undergrowth, nearly invisible from the Road. After some time, they began to climb up onto a high hill which stood out from the trees, crowned with a ruined keep. As they mounted the last switchback, they saw two tall Elves standing guard at the gates, clad in well-made armour of brown and green with longbows in their hands.

    They hailed the travelers with clear voices, saying, 'Welcome to Thorenhad, camp of the Sons of Elrond! Hail and well met, friends! Enter within and pass the night in peace.' As the Riders dismounted and bowed in thankfulness, Barabin turned to face Éoléof. 'Here we are, then, Rohir,' he said. 'We will be safe here this evening. Hopefully, it will give you some measure of peace.' The Rider smiled and replied, 'Yes, that it does, good Elf! Now, though, I should present myself before the sons of Elrond.'

    After giving Fleanfot's reins to the camp's stablemaster and reassuring his horse that he was in capable hands, Éoléof turned and walked into the centre of the camp, where two fair Elf-lords stood by a fire, identical in face and height, though one was clad in brown and the other in blue. They turned to face the Southerner with slight smiles on their faces as he bowed deeply before them. 'Hail, Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Lord Elrond!' he exclaimed. 'Westu hal! It is long since I walked these lands, but now I beg leave to pass through one last time on my way south. By your leave, we wish to camp here for the night ere we press on to the Ford and the paths into Hollin.'

    Elladan looked at his brother, then nodded. 'You and your folk are expected, though your company is smaller than we anticipated,' he said. 'Suilad, mellyn. Stay at your comfort. Our fires are yours.' The Rider bowed low again in gratefulness, as did the rest of his company. 'Thank you, lords,' he said. 'While we remain here, our swords are at your service.' With that, he turned and walked to a little-used fire in a corner of the camp, near which two Dwarves stood in quiet conversation. As the company sat down and began preparing their evening meal, they were unexpectedly joined by one of the Elves from the camp, a dark-haired maiden clad in the green of new leaves who introduced herself as Olveras.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    After fishing some meat from his pack and placing it on the fire, Éoléof sat back with a sigh. 'I am more glad than ever to have a wall between me and the night,' he said. Revenwyn chuckled. 'Yes, we did not have much of a wall last camp.' As she said that, a distant roar could be heard echoing over the camp. They all looked up as Barabin calmly said, 'It is good we arrived when we did. There are many things in these woods.'

    Basalt said, 'Then let them stay in the woods, and away from this camp.' Revenwyn continued, 'And come the morrow, let me at them!' Éoléof laughed. 'Come the morrow, they will be in their caves, or they will be stone,' he said. Olveras looked at them curiously. 'Where are all of you heading?' she asked.

    Éoléof looked over at the Elf-maid. 'We are making for Rohan, lady,' he answered. 'Hopefully, the rest of our company will join us on the Road.' For some time, he sat silent, pondering the paths that they must take after they reached the Ford. When he came back to the present, the conversation seemed to have moved on to a discussion between Barabin and Revenwyn about the latter's time in the North.

    He heard her say 'What do you mean, “You are changed, certainly?', Master Barabin?' The Elf-lord answered her. 'Will Rohan look the same, I mean,' he said. 'Six years have passed, and you have surely seen and done much in that time?' As Revenwyn sat in silence, Olveras leaned back and looked at the stars, sighing, 'Oh, how I wish I could have a taste of the cider of Bree! I shall have to pick some up on my travels west.'

    The shieldmaiden gave the Elf a hard glance before looking back to Barabin. 'I do not think Rohan will look or be the same as when I left,' she said, 'but Bree is no longer home for me.' The Elf spoke softly, half to himself. 'How strange and interesting a thing this is,' he said. 'Strangers gathered around a campfire. One longs for the cider of Bree, another has had enough of it.' Basalt chuckled. 'Would that I had some Dwarf-ales from Erebor!' he said. 'The barley grows rich where the Dragon once scorched all growing things.'




    As he took a trencher of hard bread from his pack and loaded it with roast boar, Éoléof laughed. 'I, for one, am pining for the mead of Rohan,' he said. 'The stuff Butterbur had could barely be called mead. Still, it is better than nothing. I have a skin or two with me, if anyone would like a drink.' The others shook their heads, and Revenwyn said 'I will not escape into nothingness like that, even though it calls me.' Looking closely at her, Barabin said, 'Lady Revenwyn, I sense that my idle chatter has been somehow insensitive. For that, I am sorry.'

    'It is no problem,' she replied. 'You meant no insult. If you continue to travel with us, I will most likely tell you what I told the others.' Barabin nodded, but said no word. To break the uncomfortable silence, Olveras spoke. 'If we were in a safer land, I would fancy a nighttime ride,' she said. 'Possibly through the Shire, though folk there are not too fond of “Big Folk” wandering about.' Glancing up from his food, Basalt replied, 'I cannot say that I have ever been accused of being “Big Folk” before!”

    As the others laughed unabashedly at the Dwarf's quip, Éoléof said, 'Of all the things I have seen in the North, the most curious have to be the Holbytlan.' Revenwyn nodded in agreement. 'When I saw my first Hobbit, I couldn't believe my eyes,' she said. 'They are just a legend among our people.' Basalt could be heard stumbling over the unfamiliar word. Éoléof chuckled softly and said, 'My apologies, Master Dwarf. That is our name for them from our old stories from the Vale of Langflood. The name means “hole-builders”. An apt name for them, certainly.'

    As the Dwarf nodded in understanding, the Rider continued. 'None of our legends speak of their breathing smoke, however,' he said. 'That was a shock when I saw it in Bree.' Revenwyn shrugged. 'Mayhap they acquired the habit after our folk last heard of them?' she said. Barabin looked up in shock. 'Breathing smoke?' he asked. 'Smoking pipeweed,' Revenwyn clarified. The Elf nodded. 'Ah, yes. They are quite fond of it,' he said. 'They are a paradoxical people, at once at ease with their surroundings while feverishly flitting about.'

    'I actually picked up the habit of fishing from the Halflings,' Olveras said. 'I find it quite relaxing.' Revenwyn replied, 'I haven't the patience for it. If I am not sleeping or eating, I am slaying whatever needs slain wherever I am. Otherwise, I am selling things or repairing my armour.' Basalt and the other Dwarves chuckled. 'Repairing your armour?' he asked. 'Dwarf-crafted armours rarely need any repairs. Only after they have turned aside the mightiest of blows may they need some!'

    'Is that so?' Revenwyn asked. 'I've not come across much Dwarf-made armour in my travels.' Éoléof spoke up. 'I hear tell there is Dwarf-armour in the treasuries of Edoras, won from the hoard of Scatha hundreds of years ago,' he said. 'They say that it is still as strong and bright as if it were new-forged.' Basalt grunted in agreement. 'I've no doubt of that,' he said. 'Long have the wyrms plundered our halls. Though I think your treasuries may be a little short on dragons' teeth.'

    The Rider chuckled at the comment. Turning more serious, he said, 'Perhaps, when all is said and done, I could try to convince Lord Erkenbrand to speak to Théoden King about returning some of the armour to your folk.' The Dwarves looked at him in admiration, and Basalt said, 'That would be a kind gesture, and would go far toward changing the minds of some of my folk. Though, I must say, we did not earn such kindness at our last meeting.'

    'You three did nothing wrong,' Éoléof replied. 'Have you any word of that old goat, though? I have no desire to meet him again under the Sun.' Basalt shrugged. 'When we left the company, they had every intention to travel to the high peaks, north of Rivendell.' The Rider nodded. 'Good,' he said. 'I meant my last words to him. I will take his other eye for his insults, if ever I see him again.'

    As Barabin pulled a small lute from his pack and began tuning it, he asked, 'Do you intend to meet up with the rest of your party, Master Dwarf?' Basalt and the others shook their heads. 'Nay, good Barabin,' he replied. 'I travel with Éoléof and his company now. Perhaps I shall turn northward when this journey is done, though.' As the Elf finished his tuning, he asked, 'Though I am in no mood for dancing, might I pluck a few strings?' Seeing the nods of the company, he began ringing a beautiful tune from the lute.

    As the others began yawning as the soothing music began to drift over them, Éoléof looked across the fire at the Dwarves. 'Perhaps, master Dwarves, if you are willing to come with me all the way to the Mark, I will show you a sight which will move you to tears with its beauty,' he said. Basalt looked at him curiously and asked, 'What such sight does the South hold? I've heard that it is a flat land, where the grass goes on as far as eye can see.'

    The Rider gave him a knowing look and continued as the others began wrapping themselves in their blankets for the night's rest. 'I hail from Westfold, near the feet of the mountains,' he said. As the Dwarf nodded in recollection, he continued. 'I was stationed in the garrison of the Hornburg, the fortress which guards the Gap of Rohan,' he said. 'The tower lies in a deep valley which runs back into the mountains. My folk call it Helm's Deep, after a great king of old. Behind the walls of the fortress, which run east to west across the valley, there are caverns, Basalt. Beautiful caverns, such that I could not do them justice, had I the skill of a thousand bards. My folk call them Glæmscrafu, the Caves of Radiance.'

    'What gives them such a name?' Basalt asked with interest. 'Veins of gold? Gemstones?' Éoléof shook his head. 'Not merely veins of gold and gemstones, Master Dwarf,' he said. 'In those caves, there are columns of white and saffron and rose, fluted and twisted in dream-like forms; still lakes which mirror them. A glimmering world looks up from pools covered with clear glass, and cities, such as even the minds of your lord Durin could scarce conceive.'

    As the Dwarves gasped in amazement, he continued. 'There is chamber after chamber, hall opening out of hall, dome after dome, stair beyond stair, and still the winding paths lead on into the mountain's heart.' Basalt sighed. 'That is truly a sight I wish to behold!' he exclaimed. The Rider nodded. 'I think, Master Basalt, that you would greatly delight in the sight, if half of what I have heard of Dwarves and their love for stone be true,' he said.

    'Indeed!' Basalt agreed. 'There are many wonders beneath the mountains. I suspect no one Dwarf has seen them all. And what you have heard is true, good Éoléof. My folk do love stone and all things of beauty beneath the earth.' The Rider smiled. 'I am more content at the feet of the mountains than under them, myself,' he said. 'I love more the wide green plains, the West Wind, and the herds of wild horses.' ''Tis understandable,' the Dwarf replied. 'Not all folk were made to dwell underground, just like not all folk live in the forest, like these Elves.'

    He laughed. 'I suspect Stalwart, my faithful hill pony, will grow fat and lazy with such greenery about. He's far too used to the sparse vegetation in the mountain passes.' The Rider chuckled as he replied. 'I'm not sure your northern pony will be of much use on the plains of the Mark. They are wide, and there are many enemies. You may need a new mount.' The Dwarf shrugged. 'Perhaps so,' he replied. 'He's no sprinter, though solid as a rock in the high places. I trust there are stables aplenty in the southern lands? Surely one of those would keep Stalwart warm and fed, for a modest fee, of course.'

    'Of course!' Éoléof replied. 'In the Mark, we treat our horses like our kin. There are as many stables as there are inns, and as well-stocked.' Basalt smiled. 'Like kin, hmm? I'll warn you then, his table manners leave something to be desired!' The Dwarves and the Rider laughed. 'Perhaps he will learn something from Fleanfot on the way south, then?' Éoléof said. Basalt chuckled. 'He can only improve, that much is certain.'

    The Rider yawned deeply as he said, 'We should retire soon. We will need to leave early to reach the next camp.' Basalt nodded as he yawned himself. 'I agree. Let's leave these Elves to stand watch.' With that, they spread their blankets near the banked fire and fell quickly into a restful sleep, such as they had not known since leaving Ost Guruth.

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  20. #20
    The Ride will gather tomorrow night, Friday, March 29, at 8 pm servertime for the next leg. Hopefully, we will have a better turnout than last week. Thank you again to everyone who has had a part in this story so far, and I hope to see you tomorrow!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

  21. #21
    I would like to apologise for my lack of updates on this thread. I've started a new job, and my time for writing RP and playing LOTRO has gone sharply downhill.

    Regardless, I hope to have the latest write-up completed by Sunday night, and the Ride moves forward today, April 13, at 9 pm Eastern/servertime. We are currently at Echad Candelleth, and we are preparing to journey into Hollin. I hope to see you there!

    The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval

 

 

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