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Thread: (M) The Age of the Dragon Lords: The Door of Night IC(M)

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    Fantasy (M) The Age of the Dragon Lords: The Door of Night IC(M)

    Rated M for possible mature content including sex, violence, language, graphic situations, alcohol, and drug use.

    The Age of the Dragon Lords: The Door of Night

    Across the seas
    To the land of Endor
    The Darkspawn come from below
    Like the hand of death they flow
    Like a wave they burst through the Door of Night

    Vigil's Keep, Arling of Amaranthine, Ferelden.

    Dawn broke over the mountains of Amaranthine rushing up the valleys and roads to dart through the barely opened windows of Vigil’s Keep. For most that would be the wake up call that marks the beginning of their day. But for the Wardens of the Keep, it is just another hour closer to making history. The Elves of Endor have been in Ferelden less than a week, but they’ve already flipped the entire history of Thedas on it’s head.

    It was by the sheer grace of the Maker that they found the Wardens before one of the venomous monarchs got ahold of them. Many of the battle-hardened Wardens shudder at the thought of the Empress of Orlais or one of her power hungry cronies meeting these foreign Elves first. One such warrior is the Constable of the Grey himself Zadkiel Cousland. Hunched over his desk scribbling out the last few lines of his Last Will and Testament. His father, the Arl, instructed everyone going on this voyage to fill one out before they left, just in case. He didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, but what he did have he would simply leave to his family to sort through if something happened to him when overseas in Endor.

    His most prized possessions would be coming with him, his dog, his weapons, and his armor. The rest were silly clothes and commemorative trinkets that have no use outside of looking pretty. His quill scratched quickly across the paper.

    "How are you awake so early?" Elissa's voice was muffled against the pillow, reddish locks sprawled across the pillows. "Can you get back to bed? The writing is annoying."

    Zad chuckled lightly, placing his quill back in the inkwell before rolling up the parchment and pressing his signet ring upon the warm wax to seal it. “How can you still be asleep on a day like this?” Standing up he stretched his back out and shrugged out of the loose robe he was wearing before returning to the bed gently brushing the mess of hair away from his lover’s face before kissing her. “Besides, I had to get some water after last night.” He winked at her.

    "Mmm, if I sleep in, I can pretend this day is like any other," she retorted, moving to snuggle in against him. "Otherwise, we'd never get any time alone."

    The Champion smiled sliding under the covers next to Elissa wrapping his arms around her, contentedly returning her snuggles. “I suppose I can’t argue with that logic, but aren’t you a little excited about the upcoming mission? Going beyond the sea to this Endor?”

    “I suppose,” Elissa murmured, still trying to enjoy the simple bliss of being near this man - her man. The idea of an adventure somewhere beyond the sea to a far-off land seemed so...far that she didn’t want to think about it just yet. “Do you think it is really the homeland of the Elves?”

    He hmmed gently pulling her warm body closer to his before resting his chin atop her head. “I have no idea honestly, from all I remember of the history lessons I received as a child. Elvhenan was over here somewhere. But I suppose how else can we explain these new Elves? What do you think?”

    “Do you not think it strange that they come here, claiming a Blight in their lands? How did the Darkspawn get there and what is the Archdemon we will face? Is it even one of our gods or,” she paused, biting her lower lip, “or one of theirs?”

    Smiling softly he lifted her chin and kissed her bitten lips softly. “Now that’s something I don’t want to think about. The Thaigs the Darkspawn abandoned go for many miles underground and a lot of them cross paths with volcanic tubes, so maybe the monsters just kept digging and hunting until they found Endor?”

    “Maybe,” the woman replied, but she didn’t seem convinced. Kissing him back and sighing in content, she closed her eyes, hoping to catch another half hour of sleep but there was a sharp rapping on the door. Looking up into Zad’s eyes, she huffed, seeming to read his expression before he could fully formulate an answer. “I guess I should start getting ready for today otherwise whoever is trying to barge in will catch us like this again. I’d rather not face your father so soon after last time.”

    Zadkiel chuckled, rolling his lover over, pinning her hands down upon the bed gently. “It’s just the Steward coming to see if I’m awake. You don’t have to leave yet, like you said might be our last time alone for a long time.” Settled deeper atop her, his voice a little husky.

    “You think the Steward doesn’t report back to the Commander?” Elissa gave in to his advances, smiling up at him and raising an eyebrow however she didn’t pursue the topic, instead reaching up to kiss her man’s lips, biting the lower one teasingly. “I’m glad that you’re coming with me.”

    He smiled more, settling atop the woman wrapping his arms around her fondly. “And I you Eli, no one I’d rather have watching my back. As for the Commander finding out? What of it? Think he’ll ground us like children and forbid us from going to fight a Blight?” He kissed her deeply one last time. “But that’s enough talk, let’s enjoy ourselves one last time like normal people before we need to remember we’re Wardens.”

    She smiled against his kiss, arms wrapping around his neck and her fingers running through his hair. What he said was true - what could the Commander do if they were leaving for an unknown land in a matter of hours? Ban her from not going? He may as well sign her death warrent then. Pulling herself closer to his bare chest, she let him lead this intimate dance, once again wondering how it was that she ended up with such a man.

    ~An hour or so later~

    The rustling of clothes and soft clanking of armor filled Zad’s room in Vigil’s Keep. He and Elissa were working in quiet diligence preparing their kits for the long trip to Endor. Mumbling to himself Zad was wrestling with one of the straps of his breastplate. “Ugh, I think I pulled something with that last round...hehe… can’t twist very far.”
    “Is the Constable of the Grey finally admitting to his age?” Elissa smiled as she put the last of her vials into their special holders across her belt. Blowing away an annoying strand of red hair, she straightened and stretched, playfully catching Zad’s gaze and giving him a wink. “Don’t worry love, that last round was quite something.”

    The warrior laughed watching the fiery redhead twist and tease him as he finally caught the strap tightening it and feeling the familiar hug of his red steel armor around him. “You’re only four years behind me my love, you’ll get there soon enough.” He moved to her and lifted out a bit of worn green ribbon from the night stand and helped Eli tie her hair back so it wouldn’t drape in front of her face.

    “I feel like an old maid often enough, I don’t need a reminder,” Elissa laughed, giving him a light kiss on the cheek. “Seeing some of the young recruits, I wonder what drew some of them to this life.”

    Returning her kiss, he went to grab a large cloak that was hanging on the door of his wardrobe before stuffing it into his rucksack. “I’ve often asked myself the same thing, there hasn’t been a Darkspawn sighting in over four years, and even though we all now know why. The Commander has broken his back to keep that information from crossing as many lips as possible.” With a soft grunt he tightened all the straps of his pack and placed it on his desk alongside his other bag. “In training I’ve heard a few of them say the Warden’s have regained some of their former glory and they want the perks that come with taking up our mantle.” He laughed and shook his head. “You know the short life full of fighting, exclusion, and an inevitable grisly death .” Grabbing a couple of journals, he tucked them into the side pockets of his pack.

    “Had I known it would mean meeting someone like you, I would have reconsidered,” Elissa muttered under her breath, folding her clean clothes neatly and putting them inside her pack, hiding her blazing gaze from Zad. It wasn’t that she ever pictured marriage or love in her future - the day she had decided to become a Warden, she had said goodbye to all her infatuations and desires. It was a small sacrifice to benefit the world and rid it of evil. Zad had just...fallen into her life and, try as she might to push away, she did allow herself a few times to wonder if they could have had a future in another life. Shaking her head at her thoughts, she looked up. “At the very least, we now have a chance to die like true Wardens. Facing the Darkspawn head on, not waiting for the slow decay of time and the Taint.”

    He nodded slowly. “Yes dying with a blade in my hand and a cause behind me is one of the greatest deaths I can picture. Warden or no.” He moved back to her side and helped her finish packing, more so wishing for closeness with her again than actually thinking she needed help. Romance was never something he took much notice of. Before he even underwent the Joining, he was raised as a Warden, fighting, learning, preparing for a glorious death before he became an old man. But two Wardens can’t have a child without a lot of extra work...and not that kind of work...his mother was a former Bard from Orlais. And she did her best to sneak in lessons of things like romance and intrigue when the young man wasn’t being drilled in swordplay or learning the best place to hit an Ogre to get a quick kill. But even those lessons were few and far between, even more so after she passed many winters ago. This left a strange...longing within him, but like everything else in his life his inevitable future as a Warden pushed thoughts of finding a wife and beginning a family aside because he already knew he’d die before he learned the joys of being a grandparent. So when Eli joined the Order a few years after him he found an answer to that longing in her. As he reached the bottom of her clothes pile he smirked and held up a pair of black lacy undies to her. “So how did this hot little Orlesian item get here love?”

    “Those were supposed to be a surprise,” Elissa snatched them back, playfully swatting at her partner. “Something special for your birthday but I guess you couldn’t wait a day or two. Typical Zad.” Their usual playful banter came without much effort, a defense mechanism against the future, knowing that once they were back in the field fighting Darkspawn, there would be no guarantee either of them would return from a scrimmage. When the Commander’s orders came to all who were to depart to Endor, she didn’t give them more than a quick glance, tossing the scroll to the bottom of the bag. From the few things that caught her eyes, she wasn’t exactly optimistic about the outcome of their trip. Four years...It wasn’t long but she feared she had gotten rusty when it came to sensing Darkspawn. It scared her but she hadn’t even brought it up to Zad, constantly persuading herself that Ferelden was finally experiencing peace and the next Blight would be beyond her years. Now...she didn’t want to think about it.

    “Those Elves do not seem like any I have met,” she mused, thinking back to her brief encounters with the Endoran delegation. She had been late to arrive, traveling back from the Free Marches only a few days ago and spending most of her time sleeping and resting. Even so, the few interactions she had proved that these beings were not like anyone she had met. They were old and resonated a hidden power that didn’t seem natural to Elves. Their eyes held knowledge of years beyond count and they carried themselves with airs that would make even the highest nobles of Orlais appear like mere commoners. “Do you think the people they spoke of will be as strange as them?”

    He smiled as she snatched the undies back and stashed them in the very bottom of her bag. He was already picturing his lover’s fit Tempest body hugged into the sensual little garments, but he moved back letting her finish her bag in peace as he returned to his own packing. Her words resonated with him, he had talked more with the Endoran Elves. And even then they were a mystery. “I know, not even the few Elves we have in Vigil’s Keep know what to make of them. Even if they aren’t related to our Elves, these Enodrans are what I always pictured the Dalish ancestors being when they were still around. Their leader Laurenas says she’s actually considered more of a Commoner than a Noble herself so that speaks volumes to what we can expect once we land.” He tied the last straps and tightened the last buckles of his bags before he carried them to the door thunking the heavy things down. “There’s Men and Dwarves over there from what she told me. But even they seem to be more noble than our own. Imagine that...a whole continent full of noble knights and mighty warriors who don’t bother with idiotic squabbles like “The Game.” Not sure if we should feel honored or be worried they’ll see us as primitive savages.” He laughed walking back to her leaning against the bedpost.

    “I grew up in the place that is quite frequently referred to as the Backwater of the Marches. I Think you will do much better than me,” Elissa teased as she moved to put her warm Warden cloak into the bag, a few light tomes and, much to the man’s amusement, a barely started embroidery piece. It was a hobby that she never had much passion for but considering how much time they were to spend on the boat, she decided it was good practice. Besides, the design sketched roughly on the fabric was one her grandmother etched with her own hand and now knowing she would not see Thalia Aurum again, it seemed like the proper tribute to the woman who replaced her mother. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she swept her gaze around it. “They didn’t mention anything about the Qunari?”

    He shook his head slowly picked up the woman’s bags and placed them besides his own. “ least not how we know them. When the Qunari were described to the Endorans they thought we meant something called...Or...Orcs? Whatever the hell those are, but when they saw Grif they had no clue what he was. I think one of them said that’s "the prettiest Orc I’ve ever seen" actually.” He laughed sitting down besides her. “Imagine how much that made Grif’s day?”

    “The first time I saw Grif I wasn’t sure what he was. Have you ever seen anyone devouring a whole three tiered chocolate cake by themselves?” Elissa grinned, remembering the scene. “I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Although if he is the prettiest Orc they have ever seen, I am not certain I have the imagination to picture a regular looking one. Speaking of Grif - you did make him aware about the time we were leaving?”

    “Haha I’ve seen Barqspawn give the big oxman a run for his money. While you were away they challenged each other to an eating contest to show the Elves how good our food was. Had to stop them before they ate up everything in our larders.” The Champion then stood up and pulled the woman up after him laying his hand upon her hip. “He’s even more of an early bird than me, he’s probably been busy making our provisions since before dawn. But we’ll be leaving with the morning tide, so let’s head to the armory and make sure we have all our weapons ready.”

    “I still do not understand how either of you can be awake at such bloody early hours,” she responded, interlacing her fingers with his and letting him lead the way out of the room.

    He laughed holding her close, giving her one final kiss before they left. The Paiges and new recruits would be along to bring their gear to the docks shortly. “Because we’re a couple of sad old men who can’t sleep very long.”

    “Speak for yourself.” A vaguely deep voice said as they left the bedroom. “I’m only 11.” The big man was sprawled comfortable in a chair in Zad’s sitting room. “Your old man wanted me to wake you up.”

    The rogue’s sudden voice made Zad jump a little before he let out a low laugh. “Yes, a 7 foot tall, 11 year old, that can carry a hundred pound beer keg in one hand. How silly of me to forget, so been waiting out here the whole time huh?”

    Grif smirked, “I know, aren't you glad my people haven’t tried conquering the world?” He then shook his head to the Constable’s question. “Nah, maybe 20 minutes or so. Though had you made me wait any long I woulda opened the door and let that monster into your room.” He motioned to the corner near the door where Barqspawne chewed a damp rubber ball.

    “Oh my god, who is a good puppy?!” Ignoring the two men in the room, Elissa rushed over to give the Mabari a pat, smiling and cooing over him as she rubbed his ears. Growing up in a family of avid hunters and huge Mabari lovers, she was unable to ignore any dog that came in her path. Barqspawne was one of her favorites. “How have you been, big guy? I have missed you, you know that? Such a smart boy.”

    Zadkiel laughed as he was promptly abandoned in favor of his dog. “Well glad you abstained doing that, then we might've never left the room. So are you all packed and ready for this Grif? Not sure you’ll like the food in Endor. I’ve tried some of the Elves’ and it tastes far too strange for my own liking. Sweet and bland at the same time and that’s just their Lamb-base bread.” Crossing his arms the Champion kicked the door of his bedroom shut and leaned against it watching Eli and Barq.

    The dog stopped chewing and rolled over, the ball gripped in his teeth. His short tail wagging. Grif chuckled. “No, he’d just had a bunch of water so was about 80% drool at the time. I’m sure that would have gotten you out of the room quickly.”

    He smirked and shrugged. “Actually the bread isn't bad. They did seem a little shocked when I asked for more though. Guess it’s supposed to fill one up. And packed I am. Packing is easy for me.” He motioned to his nearby bag, and armored self.

    “And is Sir Barqspawne all packed up? Are you ready for an adventure?” Elissa grinned, rubbing the muscular chest of the animal and ignoring the drops of slobber that ended up on her hands. Listening to the men’s conversation, she raised an eyebrow. It was a mystery exactly how much food could fit into the bottomless pit of the Qunari’s stomach. Knowing about the recent food contest, she did wonder how the strange Elves perceived such a spectacle.

    The warrior laughed. “You’d think watching you eat half a castle’s supply of food would’ve told them that much already.” Looking out the nearby window he pushed himself off the wall and began walking down the hallway again. “Either way shall we go fetch our weapons now? I think the Commander wants to give us some kind of last minute pep talk or have a Mother from the Chantry bless us with the blood of Andraste or something before we go. Though I don’t know if the Maker has any power in Endor, Laurenas and her Elves seemed lost whenever he was mentioned.”

    As his master began walking away the slobbery hound jumped up and licked Elissa’s face in answer to her questions before he gently gripped her sleeve and began pulling her after Zad. Laughing and ruffling the dog’s fur, Elissa followed along, speaking softly to the Mabari as the group made their way to the armory. As they passed a few recruits, the youths bowed slightly as a sign of respect. Elissa reflected back on the conversation she had with Zad earlier that day. Would any of them be coming on the ships to Endor? Did they truly understand what was happening, the full weight of their decision to pledge to the Order or did they, much like herself, want to become another hero in the tapestry of history?

    Carrying on in companionable silence the four Wardens reached the Armory and quickly found their weapons each one stained with blood or nicked from fights with both Darkspawn and Bandits in their long runs with the Wardens. Grif’s pair of cutlasses sparked as he picked them up and spun them artfully around his hands before they slid snuggly into their sheaths at his hips. Elissa’s twin daggers were barely seen before she cleverly stashed them in their usual places and her bow slung over her shoulder just as quickly. And lastly Zadkiel lifted his twin swords up with an almost reverent air, the one glistened with it’s Silverite Rune and the other simply glistened from a long life of careful maintenance.

    The last thing he picked up was his family’s shield. It personally saved his father’s life once upon a time and hopefully it would save Zadkiel's should that time come. Once everything was secure, they left the Armory passing quiet jokes back and forth as Eli threw Barq’s ball down the hall, watching him faithfully fetch it and return it. They pushed past the large doors of the keep and felt the warm fingers of the sun upon their faces. None of them knew when the next time they would feel the Ferelden sun, so they walked slowly to the docks soaking up as much of it as they could before they’d be trapped below decks crossing the treacherous sea to Endor.

    As Zadkiel predicted, the Commander of the Grey Raziel Cousland was already there waiting for them alongside the Endoran Elves on the docks. On the shore behind them no less than a hundred Legionnaires on loan from Orzammar and a clan-sized group of Dalish Elves stood packed and at the ready. And a little ways behind them a collection of Warden Mages called in from Orlais were approaching their own bags and gear on horses behind them. Like any other time a Blight threatens the mortal plane it took a collection of nations to defeat it and who said the Endorans should be the only ones supplying those nations? This group would likely be causing all kinds of rumors and stirrings among the gentlefolk of Theadas, but that is why many of the current Wardens were staying behind with only the most experienced being chosen to come along and fight this Endoran Blight.

    Once everyone was assembled Raziel stood upon a small stage looking equal parts embarrassed as honored. He was never one for big speeches, but he knew this was a historic time that required some kind of speech.
    “My friends, today you are embarking on debatably the most historic event in the history of the Wardens. Maybe even in the whole of Thedas, Blights have always been our curses to bear and we bared them superbly through our chaotic history. But now our curse has spread to parts of our world we never even knew existed. The People of Endor are experiencing it right now and these noble Elves have journeys far beyond their own lands to find help...and they found us. We are that help and how can we call ourselves honorable or just if we do not do all we can to help them? Now I will not insult any of you by lying or giving you false hope. This mission will be as dangerous a task as any of you have undertaken and some of you may not be coming back. Your remains will be brought back home that I can promise you and your name will live on in the annals of history forever. While all of you may not be Wardens, you have proven your bravery here today and I will end this little pep talk with a prayer of sorts that every recruit hears before they undertake the Joining. “The Grey Wardens hold a lonely vigil, enduring lives of hardship and sacrifice to protect the world from an evil that can never truly be conquered. Few would volunteer for this: the suffering, isolation, and promise of a violent death. But the path of a Warden is also one of valor, and those who give themselves to the cause are rewarded with the knowledge that they have become something more than they were. “ As Commander of the Grey I give all you not already part of our Order the title of Warden-Ensign and welcome you to our Order!”

    Cheers erupted among the Legion and Dalish with congratulatory claps from the normal Wardens present. Once it all died down the Commander stepped off his little stage and shook hands with Laurenas and each one of her comrades bidding them safe journey and the best of luck defeating the Blight. He then went off to oversee the last minutes details before the group set sail. The group intermingled enjoying their final few minutes on solid land before everyone’s bags and supplies were loaded aboard.

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    Nienor sat on the ledge of her window, observing the white city below her and the Pelennor fields beyond with a far-off gaze. The cool stone of the citadel was growing colder as the sun hid behind the horizon, making the distant Ephel Duath peaks turn to an angry red, the colour of blood. From her vantage point, it was impossible to make out the details of the mountain range and the darkness beyond it but regardless of where she looked, distant fires were blazing, signaling various groups of warriors preparing for another night they hoped to survive. On the walls of Minas Tirith, the lights were light one at a time, each tier of the city erupting in dancing flames. Further in the Pelennor fields, small fortresses connecting the outer wall flickered into existence, the beacons of hope. Hope that was dwindling fast in the realm of Men.

    Hugging her knees to her chest, the young woman allowed her tumble of black hair to fall over her face, obscuring the view. Four years...She had always pictured herself to be a warrior, to gain valor on the battlefield and be sung into the legends of old. From her first lesson with the sword, she had an unexplainable longing to hold the weapon and stand shoulder to shoulder with her brothers in arms, rising up against the threat of the East or the South, pushing back tides of Easterners and Corsairs. She had been looking forward to her first tournament, her first opportunity to prove her worth and her skill. She trained each and every day to be the best, to bring honour to her uncle and to be ready for whatever was to come. What childish dreams those were! An angry tear managed to race down her cheek, leaving behind a hot wet trail. Four years ago, the world was different…

    Now, Nienor was ready to hang up her sword. She was ready to forget the vile scent of men and monster insides spilling onto the ground from the swing of her sword. She wanted to stop burying her friends and looking at the wounded, knowing there was absolutely nothing on this Earth that would save them. Four years, she had seen men - brave, fearless soldiers - leave the gates of Minas Tirith, few to be seen again. Most were ripped apart, those wounded were dragged away. The few who came back couldn’t even be called deserters for how could anyone blame them for wanting to fight another day? Slowly, the ancient defenses of Gondor were starting to fall as the Wrong spread from the East, climbing over or under Ephel Duath and Ered Lithui, destroying everything in their path. Fire and swords only stopped them for so long yet each night, the hordes came back, relentless as they pushed forward.

    In the fading daylight, the distant city of Osgiliath cast shadows towards the dark mountain ranges, barely visible against its backdrop. The sight of it made Nienor’s heart tighten - the old city, rebuilt by her predecessor King Aragorn II, was once again under constant siege, its magnificent walls covered in marks and stains, reminders of the fights gone by. If by some miracle the city would stand the Wrong until the end, she wasn’t sure the stains would be removed but would remain for generations to come. All but the soldiers have already been evacuated from the city-fortress, some staying in Minas Tirith but most continuing to the Western lands of Gondor and South to Dol Amroth. As Beren had told her a few years back, Osgiliath now resembled the camp his own predecessor struggled to protect in the late third age during the War of the Ring.

    A cool breeze flew through her open window, ruffling the fine silk curtain and pulling at her dress, slipping under the skirts and causing goosebumps to cover her legs. Shuddering, the young woman turned away from the darkening landscape, looking down at her clasped hands, grasping the cord of her Palantir fragment, the smooth piece of blue glass-like material echoing the shadows from the outside. The thin leather cord that usually attached the stone to her belt wrapped tightly around her wrist, resembling a crude bracelet. Slowly, her voice barely above a whisper, she heard herself remembering an old song she loved so much.

    Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
    Of him the harpers sadly sing;
    the last whose realm was fair and free
    between the Mountains and the Sea.

    The verses were old, a story tied to a time when Osgiliath was barely a century old and Minas Tirith was not even a fleeting thought. Gil-Galad, an elven king of old, a lord among his people, a friend of Men and a protector of the right. Gil-Galad who died in the Battle of Mordor, leading the last alliance of men and leading up to the initial destruction of Sauron who took years and years to come into some sort of consciousness. A hero who faced the dark straight on and stood side by side with all who fought the fight. Now, a new threat has arisen and with it new heroes. Men, elves, dwarves...orcs and goblins and Uruk-hai. There was distrust and hatred, blood feuds stretching to the end of the third age but a common enemy has forced an alliance of armies for the mere survival of middle earth.

    His sword was long, his lance was keen.
    His shining helm afar was seen;
    the countless stars of heaven's field
    were mirrored in his silver shield.

    She had learned the heraldry of every single noble house from across Gondor and even most of the orcish clans at this point. In a war against mindless monsters, the armies coming to aid were friends no matter where they came from. A few times help came to her from Uruk-hai, their vicious nature and grotesque forms making her stomach turn but she stood shoulder to shoulder with them, pushing away any logic she had to survive the Wrong. A few times, she came to the call of the horn that sent goosebumps running down her spine, remembering the same call in Orcish raids in the past. As soon as the Wrong disappeared, both groups patched up their own and left, rarely exchanging any words among themselves. The most she ever spoke was with a young Uruk Hai warrior but even then, there was a huge level of discomfort.

    But long ago he rode away,
    and where he dwelleth none can say;
    for into darkness fell his star --

    “In Mordor where the shadows are,” Nienor whipped around, startled by the melodic male voice finishing up the third couplet. Leaning against the door frame, a tall man crossed his hand over his chest, watching her with amused blue eyes. The plain uniform of Gondor was misleading, a bow strapped to his back and a sword hanging from his belt. “I thought I would find you here.”

    “It is my room - where else would I be?” The young woman raised an eyebrow. Laughing, the giant walked forward, pushing his golden locks out of his eyes.

    “I see your good mood has not returned,” Beren chuckled, stopping beside her and looking out into the dim landscape. For a few moments, the pair observed the view, each thinking about their own. “I haven’t heard you sing since Hilgard passed a month ago. His death affected you hard.”

    “Each death affects me the same,” Nienor shrugged before looking at her friend. “His aligned with a great many burials.”

    “If you are asking me to believe he was just another death for you, you are lying only to yourself,” his blue eyes met her green ones. “Do not lie to yourself, Nienor.”

    “If I do not, how can I carry on?” her words were no more than a whisper. “How can I continue knowing that one day soon - tonight, tomorrow or in a fortnight - one of us may not be coming home? How can I allow myself the time to grief when each night there are fewer and fewer who return?”

    “You cannot hold onto that grief forever,” Beren looked down, breaking their eye contact. “One day, I will grow old and withered. I will draw my last breath and perish. You - you have the blood of the elves running through you, Elessar blood. You will live for years after. If you hold onto that grief, you will be miserable.”

    “I have as much a chance as you to die before that ever comes to pass,” Nienor responded with a sad smile. “With this plague to hit the land, no one can be certain how long they have anymore.”

    “Another reason not to hold to grief and to enjoy each day as it comes. Are you joining us on the walls tonight?”

    “Aye, in a bit,” she waved at her current wear. “One of use does not get to attend the White Citadel court dressed for war.”

    “I’m sure your uncle would understand given the reality,” Beren offered, fixing his tunic. “After all, you are more often out with the rest of the men than attending a banquet.”

    “His majesty wants the court life to continue in a manner that gives light and hope. I cannot blame him for his attempts to raise morale,” Nienor moved so that her bare feet landed softly on the carpet covering wooden floors. Standing up, she took one more look into the night sky before closing the window, blocking the cool air from entering the room. “Soon enough, what remains of our old life will end. He is planning to send us to Dol Amroth with the rest of the refugees. Minas Tirith will become the next fortress after Osgiliath.”

    “Just get dressed, milady,” Beren smirked, tossing her the tunic draped across a chair as he headed back to the door. “I will see you on the walls.”

    “Bumbling half-troll,” Nienor swore half-heartedly. Standing up, she stretched before locking the door on the inside, a light precaution to avoid anyone bursting in as she began to change. Although she doubted anyone else being as bold as her friend to enter her chambers without knocking, depending on the night and the war, messengers from her uncle would arrive at all hours, banging on the doors and averting their eyes when she greeted them in her nightshirt. Struggling with the ties for a few minutes, Nienor finally loosened the top dress enough to shimmy it off, ending up in the under gown. That one came off easier and she slipped into her usual gear, sliding the tunic atop of her chainmail and sliding her sword over her back. Grasping her Palantir stone, she slipped it over her head, tucking it under the chain main. Grabbing her arm guards, she left the room at a brisk pace.

    The halls of the White Citadel felt abandoned - it seemed that life had been drained from within the ancient walls, sapping at the lifeline of the elder halls a drop at a time. Her steps echoed in the tall corridors, passing closed doors and dimmed lights. The eerie silence was unnerving - Nienor could hear her breathing bouncing off the walls. Trying not to let it get to her, the young woman picked up her pace, pushing into the courtyard. As she turned towards the path leading to the lower ring, she glanced at the White Tree, rising tall in the courtyard. Smiling sadly to herself, she turned away, continuing to the lowest walls of the city.

    As she passed by the streets, people stopped and moved out of her way. A few reached out to touch her armour. Smiling and nodding her head in acknowledgement, stopping to grasp the hands of a few elders gently and exchanging a few words with them, Nienor remembered the first time something like this had occurred - the people of the city wanting to touch her as though she was a ghost. She felt uncomfortable and bewildered as hands reached out, trying not to break into a run to escape. It wasn’t until she brought it up to her uncle that he explained to her why it was happening - people wanted assurance. Assurance that someone could go out and return and who better than the king’s beloved niece? After that talk, Nienor took some time to think but now, she tried to talk to as many as she could, reassure and inspire all that wanted something real to hold onto. On some nights, her walk to the wall took twice as long as she took the time to support her people.

    “The gods watch over you, Lady Nienor,” the old woman grasped her hands with her old frail ones, shaking slightly. The young lady felt tears pricking her eyes but she held strong, only nodding in gratitude as the elder slowly let go, hugging her black shawl closer around her frail body. She didn’t stop by as she continued on, walking briskly towards the main gates of the white city. As the guards saw her approaching, they brought out a horse, saddled and ready to go, snorting in the night as his ears twitched, catching distant sounds. Running her hand down the velvety nose, Nienor looked up at the flag of Gondor, flapping in the wind, snapping as it straightened with a distinct echo, resembling the flick of a whip.

    “It appears a quiet night today, my Lady,” one of the cornets approached her, the white tree emblem shining a pale silver in the night. “There have been no messengers from the Rammas Echor and no pigeons from the Causeway Forts.”

    “Did Lord Beren leave for the Forts then?” Nienor asked, slipping on a pair of thin riding gloves. The cornet nodded, keeping a steady grip on the horse’s reins as the animal shifted back and forth. “Has there been any new orders passed down from the High King?”

    “None my Lady,” the cornet declined, standing on the right side to hold her stirrup as the warrior swung up, waiting for her to find her comfort in the saddle. “We had a new eored arrive a few days ago - they are ready to replace the one currently at the Causeway. They asked to ride with you.”

    “Who’s eored has come to take their stand?” Nienor stroked the strong neck of the dark bay, her eyes looking down into the man’s.

    “Judging by the sigil, the eored of the lord of Fenmarch,” he responded, evoking a look of surprise from the girl. “Do you know him, my Lady?”

    “We have met before although I know him poorly. Where are they waiting?”

    “Beyond the gates. Good speed - I won’t hold you any longer. May the sun shine upon you in the morrow,” Nienor didn’t respond, the farewell weighing her down like a stone. Would the sun still shine tomorrow or would it plunge into eternal darkness like she so often dreamed, removing all hope for survival? She had spent hours looking at ancient books and manuscripts, trying to read about Mordor as it was when the dark lords ruled the East. There were tales of red clouds covering the sky, providing a shield from the sun for the dark swarms of Mordor, allowing them to move further away from the dark gates. Although it was claimed that the unnatural darkness belonged to the powers of Sauron and before him Morgoth, she wondered if the flying demon circling the remains of Orodriumth possessed the same attributes.

    Shortening her reins, she pushed her horse forward, his horseshoes clanking on the stones of the courtyard as the heavy gates of Gondor opened for her to ride through, the men giving her the same sad looks that she had gotten so accustomed to receiving each time she rode out of the White City. In all honesty, she was just as guilty of giving those same glances to all who left for Pelennor Fields and beyond. As her mount brought her at an energetic walk out into the open plains, she tried not to think about anything but the next few hours, subconsciously gripping her stone under the light mail shirt.

    “Hail thee well, Nienor daughter of Leod,” Nienor smiled, not turning her head as a band of men dressed in the green and gold of the Riddermark closed in beside her, one of the warriors riding up beside her, his helm making it difficult to make out his features. Only the mark of a leader made it clear who she was talking to.

    “It has been a long time since I was addressed as such, Elftheort son of Elfdarn,” she responded quietly. “In these lands, I am referred to as -”

    “As Nienor Elessar,” the man responded, reigning in his steed to walk side by side with hers. “I watched you grow up girl and you will always be a Rohirim by blood, like it or not. You were born in the saddle with the fair wind in your hair and the heart of a true warrior.”

    “I am an Elessar,” Nienor countered, glaring down at her hands. “And darn proud to be one.”

    “Surely stubborn as one,” Elftheort snorted. “Why you push away a part of yourself is beyond me child.”

    “We’re wasting breath,” Nienor retorted, squeezing her horse into a gallop. The men were not a second behind, the sound of a hundred horses snorting and heaving spreading across the land. It wasn’t fair to say they were alone - the fields of Pelennor flat as they were provided a fantastic view to see other mixed groups heading out to the various defenses across the huge exterior wall. Seeing as the Causeway Forts were the furthest away from the city, most who so desired rode horses to ensure they could provide aid where it was most needed. Over the centuries, the Rammas Echor grew in size and strength, rebuilt and repaired as needed after the historical Battle of the Pelennor Fields. White and impenetrable, made from the stone of the White Mountains and fortified long ago by the dwarves of Erebor, the outer defences standing tall and proud against the Wrong. The last defense of Gondor.

    “Make way for the eored! Open the gates!” As the cavalcade approached the Southern fort, there came calls and signals of lanterns, the inner gates opening for the riders to come in, gathering in the tight courtyard, horses moving against each other still fired up after the four league gallop. Turning her horse in a circle and trying to take in everything at once, Nienor saw the tired eyes of men and dwarves, a few orcs and even a couple women. As a warrior came to take her horse, she slipped off and started towards the keep, clasping hands with a few commanders as they followed her, most knowing that there would be a brief war counsel before the usual attack of the Wrong. She saw Elftheort follow along, hugging another Rider of Rohan as he went, the two conversing in their tongue.

    “You finally made it,” Beren grinned from his seat near the head of the large table, feet resting on top the stone and lazily carving a piece of wood with his knife. From the embarrassed looks the officers already in the room gave her, it seemed that the young man was not in as good a mood as he seemed.

    “What is it?” Nienor’s tone immediately became void of emotions, ready to hear the worst and determine the right plan.

    “Shall I start with the good news or the great news commander?”

  3. #3
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    The moors outside of Minas Tirith, on a field of blood and death.

    Far over the misty mountains cold
    To dungeons deep and caverns old
    We must away, ere break of day
    To seek our pale enchanted gold.”
    A dwarf’s low droning voice echoed along the small improvised ramparts around the Free People’s camp no more than half a mile from the very walls of the Rammas Echor. A bad skirmish, as has always been the case in the most recent months of the Invasions of the Wrong, turned into a bloody battle where inches are fought like miles. Only the truly mad or those with a death wish go into these battles with hopes of them staying simple.

    “The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
    While hammers fell like ringing bells
    In places deep, where dark things sleep
    In hollow halls beneath the fells.”
    No sleep, scarce food, and the screams of the infected warriors before the Surgeon put them out of their misery. For old vets like Jagmar though, the silence has always been worse than the screams. This skirmish has been going for the better part of a week, the monsters never seem to lose numbers. He’s personally killed sixty some of the freaks himself and you’d never know by looking.

    “For ancient king and elvish lord
    There many a gleaming golden hoard
    They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
    To hide in gems on hilt of sword.”
    The call of a crow put an end to the Bounty Hunter’s singing. Lifting his hand Sorbel alighted upon the outstretched finger carrying a note attached to his leg. Taking the note the old Dwarf spat a wad of chewing tobacco onto the helm of a sleeping guard. The glob hit like a stone causing the young man to jump up and nearly trip over his own spear. Luckily Jagmar caught it as it sailed through the air aimed for his chest.

    Quickly snatching the projectile from the air the Dwarf quickly smacked the young man with the butt of his own weapon. “Awaken young fool, if I was one of the Wrong you’d be a feast by now. I am being summoned to the Commander’s Tent.” With that Jagmar shouldered his halberd and began walking up the steep hills towards Lord Beren’s tent.

    Two other crows flew across the allies camp, one heading for the front line and the other towards the Orcish camp.

    Lu had quietly sheltered herself in the shadows of the trees well out of reach of her kin’s encampment but close enough that she could hear the orcs lively feasting on what they had caught and scavenged, possibly from the battlefield itself. She drew her lips in a disgusted hiss before turning her attention back towards the wall, She was certain she could catch the low tune of a Dwarven voice but she could not make out the words.
    She had come to admire the voices of the other races since being forced into close proximity with them. She particularly liked the low thrum of male Dwarven voices while human voices seemed to be varied among its members. Much more soothing to listen to then the rough growls and shouts of her Orcish kin. Even so she preferred the company of nature's silence in the night.
    These lands were certainly much more to look at than Mordor, provided much more shelter and a host more to eat, that was for certain. But they were certainly not welcome here and she didn’t blame the other races for that. She hardly liked being around her own kind as it was.
    Lushak’s attention was brought up to the sky. Through the thick foliage of the leaves she could just make out the stars overhead, and the soft rustle as a shadow passed across her vision. A bird? A black bird at that. She turned her attention towards the Orc encampment hearing a high pitched caw followed by the usual uproar of the male orcs. Stupid bird.
    The she-Orc picked herself up from the shadows as a second caw was cut short. She picked her way slowly and stealthily through the brush. It had taken some time to adjust to the new landscape but she had quickly learned how to move pretty quietly even with the soft rustle of leaves underfoot.
    She could hear the male Orcs searching the surrounding area, mumbling about more fresh meat. If they found her so close by they would be mumbling about more than just food. Still her curiosity peaked as she caught something flailing under a nearby bush. So easily spotted if it wasn’t for her less observant kins frantic searching.
    Upon closer inspection it was a good sized black bird. It cawed weakly at her as she approached, but she pinched its beak shut with a small frown. Stranger still there was a white bit of paper tied around its leg. Curious. She scooped up the bird, pinning its wings as it struggled before she tucked it under her cloak and quietly began to move away once again, just in time to as a male Orc tramped through not a few moments later.
    The bird’s muffled squawking was further quieted under her cloak as she picked up the pace till she was safely away from the encampment once again. Once she was satisfied with the distance she pulled the bird from her cloak. It cawed at her as she released its beak. She looked around before moving further where the moonlight allowed her better vision.
    The bird was obviously injured, its little chest heaving. Normally she would have little issue with eating such a creature but the parchment tied to its leg spoke of its importance to someone. She carefully untied the note and unfolded it, Her understanding of the written language was basic at best but with a little bit of time she was able to understand the jist of the note.
    It was summoning an Orc to some important figures tent. She couldn’t help thinking that they clearly hadn’t thought this through. She turned her attention back to the bird, laying on its side. It appeared that one of its legs was broken, perhaps a wing as well. It probably would not be wise to eat it, and whether or not it was wise to go to the tent she was not sure, but clearly none of her kin would be going.
    Lu took her time in tending to the bird as she contemplated whether or not she should take the summons seriously or discard it as the other Orcs would. She really didn’t have an interest in meeting this man up close, or anyone for that matter. But… she was curious. Her internal struggle between her curious nature and her caution knowing their hostility towards her people was eventually won out as the crow was settled into its wrappings.
    There was no way the bird could make it back to its master on its own. She sighed for a moment remaining in the moonlight for a little longer before she once again scooped up the bird and started towards the hill. Somewhere she would find the tent of this important person who had summoned her.


    “Oi, Jocko!” Shouts a man’s voice from atop a barricade.

    “What do you want, Haskil? I just got back from almost dying trying to scout the caves for wherever these bastards come from.” An indignant and somewhat drunk sounding Hobbit answered from around a nearby fire.

    A man’s head poked over the catwalk tossing a crumpled up note that landed lightly at the drunken Hafling's feet. “Messenger crow came from Lord Beren and Lady Nienor, they needed volunteers for the Gray Docks welcome crew. And you just got elected for it.” Haskil’s voice laughed before going back to watching the walls.

    Jocko Took picked up the note swaying lightly on his feet trying to read the note through one eye. “Fuckin’ longshanks.” He grumbled, tossing the note into the fire and grabbing his two swords sloppily slinging them over his shoulder, stumbling his way towards the center of the camp.

    Despite the fighting the walk wasn’t very long, but as he approached he saw a sight he wasn't sure was there. A young She-Orc skulking about carrying a messenger crow. He’d never been that drunk but as he tried to hail her he tripped over his own two feet and fell down the small hill into the Orcess. “Well…*hic* guess…*huc* Guess you are real.”

    Lu’s instincts were telling her this was an awful idea as she moved from one tent shadow to the next avoiding men and ducking back into the shadows as they passed. They were easy enough when they wore such heavy suits of armor, no stealth so easy enough to out maneuver in the dark. However as she was preparing to cross a rather large open area within the camp, she just caught the sound of something falling.

    She turned, but not in enough time to avoid the collision. She crashed to the ground as the tumbling halfling knocked into her legs leaving them both on the ground. She drew her breath in a soft hiss as she looked around before looking to the man as he spoke. Was he dying? Or was this what race of men called being drunk? The bird squawked once more as it flailed lightly on the ground with its one good wing.
    Scooping it up once more and trying to quit it by pinching its beak closed, she sat on her knees for a moment looking down at the short drunk being. “If you have to question your eyes, perhaps you have drunk too much.” She said finally in a low deep tone before getting back to her feet as she reached back and pulled the mask of her hood over her face effectively hiding it.

    Jocko laughed rolling around for a few seconds before he staggered to his feet. “You can never drunk too much my fine Orcy lass.” Staggering lightly he picked up a little slip of paper and unrolled it slowly mumbling it to himself. “Hehhehehe...looks like someone else is being summoned to play escort.” He gripped the Orc woman’s cloak and began pulling her towards the leader’s tent. “Come on lassie can’t leave the human waiting too...long they get brown...and…*hic* crusty like a spud left out in the...sun...too…*hic” long.”

    That was a first, even among the Orcs she has never been considered ’fine’. But she chalked it up to the fact that the little man must be drunk and therefore had poor judgment on fine. But as she looked back at him and noticed the note within his hands she frowned. “Escort?” That would mean there were indeed others, This was in fact very unwise then. But before she could think more more about leaving, the Halfling grabbed her cloak and began to pull her through the camp. For someone so small he was surprisingly strong. “I don’t think this is wise.” she said quietly attempting to pull herself free as her eyes cast about for signs of trouble, which likely if she was spotted by anyone else who wasn’t drunk there would be.

    Laughing still Jocko heedlessly pulled her through the camp Men, Dwarves, and the few Elves watched them go, but no one bothered to stop them as soon as they saw where the strange pair was headed. No one was dumb enough to mess with the Brass’s antics.

    “A fine battle that one,” the tall blonde grinned, lowering himself awkwardly into his chair. Nienor followed along, tossing her weapons onto the table and crossing her arms in annoyance. Her face was covered in dirt, highlighting her green eyes. “They are becoming more bold.”
    “You are becoming more reckless,” Nienor’s voice was cold, a stark contrast to her companion’s bemused tone. “We had a plan.”

    “The men needed a push,” Beren shrugged, pushing back his hair.

    “If you stuck to the plan, we wouldn’t need a push and a few of them could still be alive.” The girl walked over to the corner, pulling out a flask of wine and angrily opening it, the red liquid spilling slightly on the ground by her boots. The man watched her, concern etched alongside his smile, the adrenaline of the fight slowly fading from him. As Nienor took a huge sip of the wine, he let out a sigh.

    “Your uncle will have me flogged if he sees you acting like such a brute,” he muttered, ignoring the glare she shot him. Losing his previous jolliness, Beren reached to the table, pulling the map of Gondor and the nearby lands closer. “Did we notice where they came from?”

    “They came from the same bloody place they always do lad. The arsehole of all our nightmares.” Jagmar answered as he pushed through the tent flap, his crow flapping in landing atop Nienor’s wine flask staring at her.

    “I am no miner, Master Dwarf, so maybe you can illuminate if there are new holes in the ground or not,” Beren responded, glancing up at the warrior that entered. Nienor waved at the crow, annoyed that there was someone stopping her from being irresponsible. The Crow cawed indignantly, clacking his beak at her hand.

    Another high and mighty Lord of Men...what a nice surprise. The Dwarf thought before kicking a chair up to it and climbing up to get a view of the map. Picking up a quill he studied the map. “You don’t need to be a Miner to use your eyes lad. A horde this size can only come from natural caves without your hawk-eyed little pony boys seeing them.” He drew a couple of quick black X’s over much of the field. “That leaves the Glittering Caves south exit the Greymoor Cave system.” He drew an X over the Glittering Caves. “They never would’ve made it through those caves without my people seeing them. So that leaves the Greymoor Cave system.” He circled the small ridge line along the western edge of the map.

    “Your knowledge truly is priceless,” Beren shot Nienor a glance, the girl’s lips twitching with amusements. Although Durin’s kin was not unseen in Gondor, sometimes their manners made the young noble's raise their eyes. Certain expressions of the stout warriors with beards would have caused quite a few women to faint, were they to hear them with their own eyes.

    “Is that a system we,” Nienor paused, “you have explored in the past? I know of its existence but I have yet to find any details of them in the library of the Citadel.”

    Jagmar snorted, shaking his head. “I’m a Bounty Hunter lassie, I haven’t been in a cave or mine in over thirty years. I like seeing the sun too much. But from what I remember it was an ambitious plan of a lord from out in Shire country. He started digging in hopes of finding his own Dwarven treasure free of Dwarf or Dragon, all the dumb bastard managed to do was dig a new door into a natural cave system with some hot springs. Waste of time and money so he abandoned it, about the only way I can see them getting this close so quickly.”

    “Not all of us have seen as many summers,” Nienor responded before finally shaking the crow off her flask and taking another swig. “Is there any way we can…collapse these entrances? Make it harder for them to reach so close to the city? I know Osgiliath and Minas Ithil are overrun but…”

    Sorbel landed atop Jagmar’s shoulder ruffling its feather staring at Nienor. “The Dwarves have tried that many times. It killed a few of them, but only slowed them down a day or so. These...these things need not sleep, food, or water. The only thing I’ve ever seen that stalls them is finding whatever counts as the leader and killing it, they scatter...or...get bored...or decide they need a shite I don’t know, they leave, but always come back.”

    “A wishful dream Nienor,” Beren sighed, looking at the markings etched onto his map with fresh ink.

    “Sir,” a soldier popped his head into the tent, his armor still covered in the dried blood of the monsters. “My lady. There is a messenger from Minas Tirith. The scroll bears the royal seal of Elessar.”

    “Bring it here,” Beren responded as the man bowed and disappeared. Frowning, Nienor walked closer, closing the flask and placing it on the table. A few seconds later, the messenger entered, saluting the three people in the tent and striding forth to hand the blonde leader a scroll.

    Jagmar chuckled, tossing his own note upon the table bearing the same seal. “Looks like one of you sprats get to come with me to see if our long lost Elven saviors have found some Gods to come help us fight the Wrong.” Grabbing the discarded wine he lifted it to his lips and drained it in one gulp. “Been longer than thirty years since I’ve been to the Grey Havens.” He chuckled, tossing the empty skin aside.

    “Obviously the less pretty one,” Beren grinned, glancing at Nienor. “Your uncle demands that you make the trip with that cranky Dwarf right there.”

    “He wouldn’t,” the words were out before she could stop them. Her uncle had finally let the court’s blinding light blind him. He didn’t see a strong warrior and commander, only a girl he needed to protect and send as far away as possible. Far away from the fight and the pain and…

    “According to this, he just did,” Beren waved the paper in the air. “Even you are not reckless enough to disregard a royal degree, are you?”

    Jagmar saw the quick conflict wash over Nienor’s face upon seeing the note. “Don’t worry lassie, I’ve done it before you go get drunk at the Prancing Pony and send someone to watch the shore for any sign of the ships. Sleep the day away then come right back here. The Wrong will be here when you get back.” Hopping down from the chair the Dwarf went to find something else to drink. “But usually one from every race is sent, should be more coming.”

    “It’s not the fact that the Wrong will be gone that bothers me. It is the people,” crossing her hands across her chest, the girl turned away, hiding her gaze from the men as it was touched lightly by tears.

    Jagmar saw the young woman turn away already feeling how this was going to go. “Oh lass, don’t cry it makes my knees hurt besides…”

    “Come on my bonny Orcy lass this is Lord Bernie’s tent!” Was the only warning anyone got before a female Orc wearing a wolf skin cloak was shoved inside followed by a drunken Halfing who staggered to the side tossing a sloppy salute to Beren before he tumbled over sideways his weapons clanking loudly. “Chief Scout Jocko Took Orc friend...reporting for duty surr.”

    It has been ages since Lu had been inside anything resembling a tent, and nothing near as nice as what the human's had set up. Still as she stood there having caught her footing she watched the Halfling stagger and fall once more with something of a tense grimace under her hood. She didn’t like this feeling of being enclosed or so close to a handful of people who had some form of animosity towards her kind. She clutched the bird a little tighter making it warble in complaint so she forced herself to relax her grip. Before looking up through the eye holes of her mask to study the other occupants of the room. Two Humans and a Dwarf.

    “What the….” Beren stood up, watching as the pair fell into the tent and his soldiers’ bewildered and apologetic faces. Waving them off, he turned his rather bemused blue eyes to his new guests, crossing his hands. Nienor looked around her shoulder, frowning and wishing her sword was closer to her.

    Jagmar only quirked his eyebrow as the Hobbit and Orc entered the tent. “By Durin’s Beard, a drunken Hobbit now there’s a shock.” He said in a deadpan voice as he grabbed a jug of water and dumped it over the Scout’s face. “Wake up and show some decorum Master Took.” Jocko sputtered and jumped back to his feet. Immediately getting hit with a rushing of his hot head meeting cold water. “A rude Dwarf, be still my drunken heart.” Jocko said keeping on his feet and strapping his swords on.

    As the dwarf drew closer with the water, the She-Orc stepped to the side and back towards a corner away from the others to keep some distance. Cradling the crow in one arm and eyeing the two Humans before regarding the Dwarf and Hafling duo for a moment as her free hand gently fiddling with the feathered arrows in her quiver.

    “Master Took is it?” Beren quirked an eyebrow. “What a familiar name. What is the meaning of your state and your bewildering entrance?”

    Jocko planted his hand against the tent post a quiet hiccup answering the Lord’s question. “We Took are the bravest of the...the brave among Hobbits! My great great great uncle Peregrin Took, helped beat that Sauron arsehole. As for me, I just came off a twelve hour scouting mission and got thrown a messenger crow to come here to play escort.” He nodded to his female Orc friend. “Like the one she has.”

    Once again the She-Orc grimaced as the attention was turned to her. Exactly what she didn’t want. “Yes.” she said slowly. “Your messenger crow made it to the encampment. But clearly whoever sent it did not think their intentions through well.” She said looking down at the injured bird that cocked its head eyeing the others.

    “Whoever it was,” Beren repeated. The half Orc alongside the Hobbit made an odd pair. With her clothing covering dark skin, she was as reserved and distant as the little Took was drunk and exuberant. “May I?” He asked for the Took’s letter, glancing it over briefly, Nienor drifting to glance over his shoulder.

    Reading over the Hobbit’s note Beren quickly glanced at both Nienor’s and Jagmar’s. They all had the usual pleasantries and declarations of standing as one against The Wrong. He’d seen these messages before. Every week since the Elves left a group of chosen warriors would be tasked with heading for the Grey Docks to await their return so news could be brought back to the Free Armies as soon as possible. Looks like this week it fell on his own little army to fill these roles. Handing the note back to the Hobbit he shrugged, patting Nienor’s shoulder smirking. “Looks like you have your work cut-out for you, representative of Mankind.” He chuckled again moving back to the map.

    “Oh shut it,” she grumbled, sighing. “Does it say when we leave?”

    “As soon as possible, the way to the Grey Docks is where a lot of our scouts have been seeing pockets of the Wrong.” Beren said, sliding the note towards the young warrior woman without looking up from the map.

    “Yes sir,” Nienor responded after a moment, bowing her head and lifting her sword from the table.

    Jagamar nodded to the Human lord taking some wine with him. “I’ll fetch my ram and meet all of you on the East side of the camp.” Without waiting for dismissal the Dwarf left bustling from the tent.

    Jocko feeling a touch more sober nodded. “We Hobbits don’t do horse or ram so…*hic* I’ll just grab my kit and meet where the miserable old Dwarf says.”

    Lushak had nothing to grab, she carried all her meager belongings on her. But she could make the excuse and simply not show up, it’s not as if they would be able to find her again, at least not tonight. The Orc felt a hand grab her cloak and looked down to see Jocko again. “Come on my bonny Orcy I may need help with my beer stores.” He began pulling her out of the tent again.

    “I want to check my equipment and get some sleep tonight,” Nienor didn’t look at Beren again, focusing absently on where the Dwarf once stood. “My liege.”

    “Nienor,” the blonde started but she strode out of the tent without another glance. Exasperated, he sat down, running a hand through his hair. He could understand his friend’s exasperation and cool anger, knew what was running through her head but there was nothing he could do to help. “That damn Dwarf took my last skin of wine.” The Lord grumbled into the silence of his tent.

    Despite Nienor’s wishes she was at the Eastern edge of the camp with the rest of her merry band a half hour later. The Dwarf was the first one there, his old gray battle ram munching moodily on some grass looking just a grumpy as his rider. But considering she should be sleeping right now Nienor could relate, last to arrive were the odd couple of the Hobbit and the She-Orc and somewhere between Beren’s tent and Jocko’s tent they had borrowed a draft horse with the black and white spots. The great creature hardly looked bothered by it, but the sight of Jocko sitting in front of the Orc holding the reins in a death grip told Nienor he was worrying enough for all three of them. Lu simply looked like she was still trying to grasp what was happening.

    With a low yawn Nienor took point and began leading her little welcoming party to the Gray Havens. It was at least a month's ride at a good pace, so hopefully they could get there without meeting a single Wrong.
    Last edited by SikstaSlathalin; 08-09-2020 at 04:54 AM.

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  4. #4
    Your daily overdose of cute
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    Default The Hobbit and the wee orcy lass.

    Having ridden hard since they left the Gondoran Camp. Dawn was poking it’s eyes over the distant hills of the East. The grumpy Human and equally grumpy Dwarf were riding a few feet ahead of the others. Jocko had worked out his nerves and was riding quite easily now. Glancing back he smiled at his Orcy friend. “How you doing back there my bonny Orcy lass?”

    Lu who had found it bafflingly difficult to say no to this halfling found herself mounted on a horse behind him as the dawn peeked over the hills. The ride had been… uncomfortable but even as the man sobered up his demeanor towards her didn’t seem to change. Mostly she just didn’t know how to hang on so had finally settled with a hand on his shoulder while the other cradled the injured crow which had its head tucked between her body and arm.

    As her companion turned and asked how she was doing, She was honestly not sure how to respond. Releasing him she pushed her wolf mask back so it fell to her back shaking out her tangled braids with something of a frown. “As well as one can Imagine, I suppose.” she said quietly glancing up ahead at the others that rode before them before taking the time to read the landscape. “How far are these Gray Docks?” She asked, finely peering down at the Halfling.

    Jocko shrugged looking around him. “A few days to the East, have you never been there Orcy Lass?” He smiled back at her.

    “I’ve never been far beyond Mordor.” She replied quietly, her quite blue stare taking in the landscape in the early hours. “This is the farthest I’ve been from my homelands and it’s only because of The Wrong. Otherwise I’d be less than welcome then I already am.”

    The Halfing scoffed, reaching up patting her hand gently. “Oh pishaw, you’re plenty welcome around me Orcy, especially once we get to the Prancing Pony! Warm mead, big fluffy bed and the freshest mutton around!”

    The she-orc was left a little baffled by the halfling’s gesture, his warm hand patting hers. It was not something she was accustomed to, to have one of the other races not be hostile towards her, a part of her wondered if maybe he was still drunk. “Is it possible that you're still drunk?” She asked leaning around to peer at him more closely. “It is not like the other races to be so friendly with my kind.” she said suspiciously.

    Jocko laughed, giving her a wink. “No, I’m as sober as a wizard during a troll march! And that I can understand, but you’ve never met a Hobbit before have you my bonny lass?”

    She mulled over this for a second before relenting. “No, I have not.” But she failed to see what that had to do with it. Surely the small folk feared and reviled her people as much as the Elves, Dwarves and Men.

    Jocko laughed loudly. “Well then lesson one! Not all Hobbits are easily scared, especially if he’s a Took! Just stick with me Orcy, you’ll be the bell of the Pony! Bonny wee thing like you!”

    Not scared huh? That still left her with some questions but she simply set back on the horse listening to him to stick with him and she’d be a bell? She shook her head. These people were certainly strange to her, but again so far much more pleasant than her own kind. “Wee thing? I’m taller than you?” She said with some confusion. “You are very strange.” She said finely. And very loud.

    He laughed. “That’s lesson number two, don’t get ahead of me my bonny Orc! Just remember someone is only as tall as they carry themselves! I think that’s more Lesson Four, but lesson three will be names, as bonny as you are. I think I should get a proper name.”

    He was strange, but she had to admit his company was more welcome than she expected, if it came about in a bizarre turn of events. She looked down at him as he spoke of names. She supposed it was only fair after all she knew Jocko Took’s name all too well now. “They called me Lushak.” Though hardly anyone had spoken her name, at least not close enough for her to hear it, for some time. “Lushak the Quiet.”

    Jocko smiled. “Lushak the Quiet, Lu-shak the Q-uiet. Lu-Lu Shaka Shaka!” He laughed loudly bouncing in the saddle some. “Such a fine name for such a fine lassie!”

    Once again the half Orc was left baffled. “You are very strange Jocko.” but there was something of amusement lacing her quiet voice. A first to be sure. “Orc women are not thought to be fine like your Elves and Humans, not even to Orc males themselves. You have questionable taste.”

    Jocko hmmed lightly looking back at Lulu studying her face and body. “That must be why I thought Orcs just climbed out of mud all these years. They don’t know a pretty lass when they see it. Worry not Lulu, my tastes are quite refined.” He chuckled, giving her another wink.

    The she-Orc raised a slight eyebrow. She wasn’t sure how to take his words, she didn’t understand the strange mannerisms of these people. Their behaviours were so strange to her, especially this one who was being unusually nice. She wasn’t sure how long alcohol truly lasted but considering how small he was and how much he must have had it was something she had to consider. “I’ll take your word for it.” she said finely.

    Jocko chuckled, patting her hand again. “That’s lesson number five!” He cackled loudly knocking his heels into the Draft Horse’s side, catching up with the others.
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  5. #5
    Mystic of the Grimoire
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    Fen let out a grumbled sigh as he sat about his den. Scattered about him were several weapons and items that had been left by adventurers, relics of encounters fighting rouges or saving animals. He kept them safe from all who traveled the forest grounds from harm. When they became too much, he would transport them to the wardens hall for either training, or for them to sell off for funding. Sure, they didn’t need it, but it was better than letting weapons and armor pile up in this place. The pile was becoming much larger than he planned, but people had become more eager to visit after words of the wolf spread. Nothing major to call in the Wardens, but Fen was not liking becoming the local fable to scare children. Those always backfired with keeping people away.

    Da’lenfen knew that leaving for a while would help to calm the stories that were starting to grow, but the downside would be that his lands would be unprotected. How would the young kits stay alive with people hunting the forest for their furs, or the very trees stand tall. Abandoning the forest to go traipsing across foreign lands would be akin to him forsaking his kin just for a bit of adventure. The irony was not lost on him as he continued to wrap the items tight into a pack, the chattering of birds drawing his attention to the nest in the canopies above. A sound that he would never get tired of hearing anytime of the day. Would the other lands even have birds like this, or would the uncertain landscape yield just bizarre creatures that held no warmth to them.

    He had already heard several of the stories about the wayward elves from both passersby and messengers. High and mighty, much the opposite of the elves he had grown up with and trained under. What would they even think of him, a savage even to his own people. Would they consider him a deranged mongrell that needed to be laid in peace or some strange wolf that had gained sentience? Would they even be like the elves he knew? Curiosity held sway more than he ever planned as the last of his stock was ready to be moved. He had a few days before he desperately needed to be there, so his travel could take time.

    ===a few hours later===

    With nothing left to occupy his mind, he thought in earnest about the mission, and if it was something that needed to be done. Fen knew that fighting the darkspawn was both his right, and his honor as a Grey Warden. To shirk both would ensure a miserable death in the swamps, and the loss of any honor he held within himself. The call had been made, and with such a massive threat, he couldn’t ignore it like other calls. The spawn that had invaded their own lands had spread under the very seas and now threatened the lands beyond the clouds. A glorious fight was promised at that very idea, as all walks of life were pledging themselves to the battles ahead, even his own kin. With one sigh he had his mind made up he moved back into his den, packing up the last of what he needed before making his move. Fen would be able to keep a pleasant pace, but he would easily arrive on time for the trip.

    Walking from the heart of the woods, the animals joined him, keeping their distance from the stoic man. They could tell something was different with the old man, the scent from his body exuding an aura of both resignation and excitement as he moved like a shadow. Even without making any sounds, the comical parade of woodland creatures following him was something out of a fairytale, a silent honor guard to the leader of the woods for most of them. They remained silent out of both respect and worry, a strange silent prayer for their brethrens return to the woods, whole and unharmed. Only the birds remained at the edge of the forest as the man finally exited, picking up the pace some as the open plains and dirt roads greeted his path, ready to move onto the woods.

    ==== The day of travel ====

    “Pretty words for ugly truths.” Da’lenfen spoke in a grumble, arms crossed as he sat away from most of the groups, getting several stares from all about. The few wardens he didn’t remember gave him a polite nod or bows after his introductions, while both the Dalish elves and mages looked at him in quiet contentment. He knew several of them didn’t much care for his personality, but several dare not approach him for the intimidating presence he commanded just about himself. Their faces did bring a slight smile to his mind, knowing his presence and powers spoke pretty good for himself. He had yet really spoken to the endoran elves, but there would be plenty of time on the boat ride over if he so wished.

    The only one he had any honest desire to speak with was Zad, the young man he could see had grown into a much more commanding man, if his stance and words spoke of anything. He felt a small bit of pride in the Wardens who he could see joining them on the trip over, knowing that their lives were in good hands through them all, knowing that when it came down to it, they would not run like cowards. Fen gave a small huff though as he stood up, feeling joints pop some as he made to join the Warden group proper, knowing he was to be stuck in a small area for some time. He might as well get to know them better than the few words he had spoken with them in the past.

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  6. #6
    Your daily overdose of cute
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    Default An awkward exchange.

    Lushack set with her back against a tree carefully feeding small chunks of dried meat to the bird resting in her lap. As near as she could tell he seemed to be healing fine, but she couldn’t say that she was any good at the art of healing. The others had since dispersed to start setting up a camp before the night fully set upon them, Lu was content to sleep huddled in her cloak and wolf skin and this would likely be the only time Jocko didn’t talk at her till he fell asleep.

    Nienor checked the horses, resting her forehead against the warm neck of her grey stallion, opting for the lighter mount on their trek across the lands of this world. It had been barely a week and as the group set up their camp once again, falling into some sort of routine, Nienor opted to check on the mounts. The grey twitched his ears and flared his nostrils, calmly taking in the night air and allowing the young woman enough time to compose her thoughts. Like usual, her mind drifted back to Beren and their men, the nightly battles near the Gondorian cities and the gamble with death. This is the best chance they have, she reminded herself, giving the horse one more pat and heading back towards the campfire.

    Around there, the dwarf and the hobbit were already fast asleep. After a few days, they had determined a schedule to watch the night, Lushack typically being first watch. Nienor had been able to fall asleep the past nights but today, looking at the slightly red moon in the night sky, she wasn’t ready to sleep a wink. The red was a sign of spilled blood.

    Lu watched the human women walk back into the camp from her tucked in position between the roots of a tree. A week may have passed but the two had hardly spared a word for each other, Not that the half orc blamed the human women and she certainly wasn’t one to start conversations herself, Unless it was Jocko Sober or drunk the Halfling always had something amusing, or perhaps inappropriate to say judging by some of the expressions of the other members.

    She turned her eyes back into the darkness beyond the light of the fire for the time being, fully expecting the human woman to lay herself to sleep under the light of the red moon. But after a stretch of silence she glanced back among the sleeping figures only to see that she was still awake. Lu let the silence stretch for a moment before she slowly unwrapped her cloak and stood slowly. She checked on the bird quietly settled in a patch of soft grass before she crouched down across the fire from the women. “You usually sleep by now.” Lu observed quietly, glancing off into the darkness studying the shapes and shadows in the moonlight.

    Nienor froze as the orc’s rough voice broke the quiet silence of the fire, quiet and somewhat resembling the rumble of the earth. Not looking at her, green eyes focused on the dancing flames, she gave her a shrug. In the week that passed, she hadn’t gotten any closer to accepting her forced companion, try as the hobbit may to bring them closer. It wasn’t hate but - there was so much history that could not be erased between their people, history that made it hard not to see her as an enemy and constantly watch her back. The young Gondorian had gotten used to sleeping with her hand on the hilt of her sword, ready for anything.

    “It’s a red moon,” she responded cooly. “The elves say the moon turns red whenever innocent blood is spilled. I fear for what is happening in Gondor.”

    Lu looked up into the sky studying the moon for a moment. She couldn’t help wondering why the moon hadn’t been red for the past several days then. “Doesn't seem that different from all the other nights.” Lu responded quietly. “Surly innocent blood has been split for many nights in a row. But I suppose I don’t know much about elven suspicion, or man’s.” The orc picked up a stick and poke at the fire, pushing some of the logs further into the waning flames to feed them.

    “Warriors are not considered innocent - if you have spilled blood of an enemy, you are no longer pure,” Nienor moved to hug her knees close to her chest. “My uncle told me stories about his great grandfather and their friends. The War of the Ring has left many blood moons, killed many people trying to simply survive. In Edoras, in Gondor, in Moria..” She sighed, her eyes growing distant and sad, nostalgia and home-sickness washing over her. How she missed the White Citadel and the High King, the Ridermark and the Golden Halls. In a rare bout of emotions, she was ready to fully embrace her Rohirrim side.

    Lushack cocked her head slightly. Curious. But she said nothing as the women went on growing distant, lost in some form of thought. The orcs told very different stories, but she was less inclined to believe them. She let the silence stretch for a moment as she thought over what Nienor had said. The war of the ring, so far beyond her time, beyond many of those who lived now. “I don’t understand the other races easily.” She said finely. “But even the orcish stories tell of how the free races won that war. Perhaps there is… hope?-” she paused briefly in thought before continuing. “...Yet. It doesn't seem within the free races nature to give in easily to encroaching darkness.”

    “Last time there was hope - hope that the Ring would make it to Mordor and be destroyed. There were two brave hobbits who carried a burden and Mithrandir who brought the light and the lost king of Gondor.” Nienor wasn’t certain how comfortable she was discussing her past with the orc, knowing that Lushack’s past was very different to her own. In the orcish stories, the free people were not heroes but murderers and ruthless killers, those who destroyed and pushed them far east or north. “What do we have now? We have no guarantee that the elves would be back at all when we get to Grey Haven. They are further than any bird can fly.”

    Lu wasn’t sure she could argue with the women, not that she had much hope in the first place. She tossed her stick into the fire. “So hope is tangible.” She mused thoughtfully. “I wonder if the hobbits thought about their guarantees.” she wondered out loud wrapping her cloak around herself. “Did they feel as forsaken as you do now?” It was idle musings with no real answers as they were long since gone. “I don’t know what Hope is like to feel or hold…” She said finely. “So I won't pretend to understand what it’s like to feel Hopeless, I find the notions a little strange but interesting.”

    “Do you find pain interesting, orc?” Nienor raised an eyebrow, turning her cold gaze at the dark skinned female.

    “Not really.” She responded simply. “Pain I understand, Fear, desperation, loathing even. A will or longing to survive. I understand these well enough. But I’m not really familiar with the feeling of hope, contentment or what you might call joy. Perhaps that is why Jocko is so Baffling to me.”

    “Jocko,” Nienor’s voice didn’t warm up at the name.

    “I don’t hold anything against you.” Lu said, finely pushing herself to her feet after a short stretch of silence. “I don’t care to talk to my own kind either but You are the least baffling to me, your reaction is normal.” She said brushing off her knees.

    Normal reaction, Nienor thought, absently watching the flames. Nothing about this current war was normal.

    Lu gazed down at the women for a moment. Jocko couldn't say she didn't try, though as she glanced at the sleeping halfling she knew he'd likely never find out about this akward exchange between the two. There didn't appear to be anything left to say so Lu quietly moved back into the shadows and wrapped her cloak around her to star into the shadows to leave the women to her thoughts once more.
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  7. #7
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    The afternoon sun burned overhead as the Wardens and their small army bustled around the two ships doing the jobs of the usual sailors. Swabbing decks, repairing line and sails. Skills not many of them possessed, especially the Dwarves, but they were all skilled warriors so adaptation was beaten into them from day one. Some still seemed rather lost in the finer points of nautical life, but under the careful direction of the Endoran Elves they had been saved from dashing themselves on rocks or beaching upon partially hidden islands just under the surface of the waves.

    Zadkiel was currently acting as a rope repairer seated upon some upturned barrels dressed in just his pants, boots and his sword slung over his shoulder in a modified sheath. Never in all his years did he expect to be a sailor, but his father had gone to great pains to keep the mission and the Endoran Elves a secret. The ships were loaded and stocked by Wardens and Initiates unable to join in on the journey to Endor, and as no one who didn’t have a stake in the new Blight would be willing to undergo a journey that they might never return from the Wardens, Dalish, and Legionnaires would be taking the places and jobs of the crews. Many grumbled, but luckily their sense of duty overruled their complaints and they all fell into line.

    The Endorans were also the most patient of teachers for the newly minted crewmen. The six of them had manned a single ship themselves the whole journey, once more proving they were something far beyond even the revered ancestors of the Dalish people. Zad wouldn’t be surprised if members of the Clan that came with them chose to live on with the Endorans after all this was over. Having gained a nice tan from these months at sea Zad was in mostly high spirits even singing one of the few sea shanties he knew to himself.

    Eli absently leaned against the railing of the ship, the soft breeze pulling at her loose white shirt, allowing for the material to briefly expose the silhouette of her body before dropping down to become a simple garment once more. Having been up for the past night, she was planning to go hit the hay so to speak in the next half hour but she couldn’t help herself enjoy the sunrise and the small pod of dolphins that had, at the break of light, come to play in the ships’ waves. According to Eglerion, the Endorian Elf, she had developed a friendship as he showed her the ropes of sailing, it was rare to see these fascinating creatures close to land as Orcs and sometimes even men fished them for tender meat and food.

    Scrunching her nose at the thought, she wondered once again where they were going to where the Elves were so knowledgeable and the men so...vile? Sighing, she left for her nap, tossing and turning as she started to get the nightmares, something she had forgotten about for a few years. It was a sure sign that the Wardens were approaching darkspawn, something that both excited her and scared her. Deciding that sleep was overrated, she ended up walking back into the afternoon sun, smiling when she heard the rather off-key voice of her man. Standing not far, she absently listened as he finished another shanty before finally turning towards him, leaning back against the railing.

    “Your singing hasn’t improved in the past month, you do know that?” she teased, red strands of hair framing her face, eyes sparking with mischief.

    Hearing his partner’s voice Zad chuckled glancing up from his work. “I sing like a lark in spring and you know it madam.” Grabbing a small water skin besides him he tossed it to her before sliding off the barrel stretching his legs and back out in the sun. “You look tired my love, haven’t you gone down to sleep after your night guard shift?” Picking up his completed rope he began winding it back up.

    “Nightmares,” she responded, catching the waterskin and taking a sip. “Though a lark is a stretch. More like a seagull.”

    His smile shrunk a little as he slung the rope over his shoulder and moved to embrace her gently. He had heard her tossing around in her hammock the last couple of nights. He thought it was just normal nightmares, but he had been having them himself the past week. It meant they were getting close to Endor and it’s Darkspawn infection. The Archdemon would be sensing them soon if it hadn’t already. Pulling back he gave her a smile. “I’ve heard seagulls are quite musical themselves. Maybe you just don’t have an ear for music?” He joked reaching up and tickling her ear some. Before he gathered the rest of the rope and moved it to the pile he’d been working on. He knew what the nightmares meant, but didn’t mean he couldn’t try to uplift his woman’s spirits.

    “My grandma ensured I attended enough music lessons in my youth to dislike them, thank you,” Eli leaned into his hug, breathing in his familiar scent with the salt air. Had it really been a month and a bit already since they started their journey? It seemed at once much longer and not long enough. “You too?”

    He nodded slightly picking up another rope placing it on his barrel but left it moving back to Eli. “Yes, hopefully, it doesn’t mean what we think it means. Got a lot of plans ahead of us.” He kissed her gently on the lips, on the ship there wasn’t any kind of privacy so it has been awhile since he had felt her lips against his. “I’m feeling a little hungry, shall we go see what’s left of lunch in the galley? Maybe some food will help settle you?” He cupped her face smiling.

    “You think there is anything left?” the woman raised an eyebrow but the shadow of concern had passed, leaving behind her usual optimistic self. “I do believe I saw Grif and Bart heading that way earlier.”

    Taking her hand he smiled. “Hehe Maker I hope so, Dwarves are grumpy normally, I don’t even want to picture how they’d be hungry.” Looping his arm around her waist he chuckled again. “They might try to eat Barq then.”

    “I guess we should go stop the blood bath,” Eli chuckled, letting him lead her to the galley.

    Zad nodded pushing open the door to the galley hearing some kind of ruckus emanating from beyond the steps, he frowned a little. “Maybe we’re already too late.” Keeping a hold of Eli he moved down the steps following the sound of loud barking and what sounded like some kind of angry shouting in a foreign language. Was that singing? He thought upon reaching the bottom of the steps.

    Eli didn’t know what to expect as they entered the galley but as they got to the door, she pulled back in surprise, narrowly avoiding a red flying object close to taking out her nose. Blinking away her surprise and thanking her reflexes, she watched as the Qunari and a Dwarf joyously passed the ball back and forth, the great Mabari hound barking and jumping to snatch it. Exchanging a glance with Zad, she grabbed the ball mid flight as it made another arc. “What is going on here?”

    “Walking the dog.” Grif said without missing a beat. He also shifted a little at the table, drawing attention to a pair of covered bowls resting opposite him at his table. “Why? What's it look like?”

    “Is there anything still left that is edible….and not Barq?” the redhead asked, exchanging an amused smile with her man.

    Zad chuckled, shaking his head. “It looked like you were trying to deprive my dog of his one joy in life.” He took the ball from Eli and tossed it at the big drool machine who happily grabbed it and retreated to a corner to keep it safe. “Next time just try a rope around him and toss him into the sea for a bit.”

    Grif tossed a thumb over his shoulder at the covered bowls in answer to Eli’s question. “No to be honest he has tw.. Three, no fou… He has at least four joys in life.” Grif said counting off with his fingers. “And that was the plan till the Endorians started getting huffy. Something about drag?” Grif shrugged. He had experience long before his joining with sailing. His people did originate in a distant land after all. “This was the second best thing.”

    “Monsters,” Eli rolled her eyes, coming to inspect the covered bowls and the food inside. A variety of Lembas bread and Fereldan provisions of salted meats and pickled vegetables appeared before her alongside the remains of what used to be a medium sized wheel of cheese. Breaking off a piece of the Endorian food, she ended up nibbling it, watching Barq happily chewing on his toy and the men exchanging their playful banter.

    The Dwarf, a young man who had barely grown into his beard chuckled. “Monsters indeed Mistress Warden, I’ve only known a few Mabari in my time and all of them love being in water.” Standing up the young Dwarf grabbed the weapons he had hung off the back of his chair nodding to Grif. “Thank you for talking with me Master. Grif, never thought any of you oxes could be such jolly fellows.” He picked up a small flask of purple liquid. “And thanks again for this little potion, seasickness was never something I had to worry about in Orzammar.” Giving the two humans a friendly nod the young Legionnaire left the galley.

    The Champion nodded to the young Dwarf before joining Eli by the food. “A smiling Legionnaire,leave it to you Grif to make the impossible happen. Maybe you can work your magic on that Arawn fellow, looks like his face is made of stone.” He cut up some of the leftover cheese and sandwiched it between some meat and the Lembas bread.

    “It’s all part of my facade.” Grif started. “Another five minutes and I’d have had him signing up to follow the Qun.” The Tal Vashoth joked. “As for Arawn, it’s hard to make them laugh when they're already dead.”

    “So Rumor has it we’ll be landing soon.” Grif started. He left it hanging hoping Zad would offer more information.

    Zadkiel nodded biting into his food. “Yes, last I talked with Laurenas we’re a few hours out, we’ll be pulling into some place called the Grey Havens I believe she called it.” He swallowed his food and chuckled. “Rather fitting, I suppose, said we’re meeting some kind of escort as well. You hear anything about that?”

    Eli piled a few bits of food into a handkerchief and tied it up into a small bundle before a small yawn parted her lips. “Looks like you boys will have to talk shop without me.” She leaned down and kissed Zad’s cheek. “See you later Zad.” She gave Grif a smile then headed out of the galley leaving the men and the dog alone.

    “Well, from what I heard it was supposed to be a detachment from each of the races providing troops.” Grif said. “A symbol of welcome and thanks or some such. Whatever units they could spare.”

    Grif shook his head. “I certainly hope they are doing better than they suggested if they have that many blades to spare.”

    Zad nodded he had heard something similar, but nothing much about how many would be there or what state they would be in. “One can hope, but I don’t know honestly. I’ve talked with each Endoran Elf, and even they seem conflicted on the state of Endor. A man named Talisu said this Blight has surpassed their War of the Ring that nearly spelt the end of everything at the hand of some kind of Magister level dark wizard or something. But one of the women, a younger one named Glisi said the Free Nations were winning the Blight.” Leaning back he took a sip from his waterskin. “Not impossible I suppose, but not sure how they would manage that without a Warden or someone similar to one.”

    “Didn’t dear ole dad have to deal with someone who thought they could just win the Blight?” Grif asked with a shrug. “If they were winning, they wouldn’t have bet on this horse.So speaking of betting, Next three baths Ole’ Bartholomew gets says there’s less than ten troops to greet us.” Grif smirked as he made the bet. Odds were he could shirk the duty of bathing the dog on someone else easily enough either way. But this was more fun.

    Zad nodded slowly remembering Loghain Mac Tir, the man who thought he could save Ferelden, but almost killed it instead. “Yes, that crazy bastard, but the Endorans told stories of a White Wizard and Rangers of the North who beat back and defeated a god while two hairy footed young fools ran up a volcano. So part of me thought maybe this was all more a precaution than a desperate plea for help.” Going back to his food he listened to Grif’s bet smirking between mouthfuls of food. “I’ll take that bet, I say we’ll have eleven there to greet us.” He offered Grif his hand, he didn’t mind bathing the dog, besides once they got to shore Barq would probably be the first to dive off the ship and try to tow the boats to shore.

    Grif started laughing at hairy footed fools, wondering why that was included in the story. Shaking the man’s hand. As he slowed he waved away the story. “Your Chantry claims the maker married some woman and that humans were to blame for the darkspawn.” Grif’s hand tightened around Zad’s. “Since you picked a specific number that means any more or less and you lose you know.”

    Grif let his friends hand go with a satisfied smile. Easiest win ever, he thought to himself before questioning whether it would be cheating to eliminate a greeter or two to make victory assured.

    Zad nodded giving the big Qunari a wink. “Oh I know, but you never said how long the baths need to be nor when. I dump a bucket of water on him every hour for three hours and it’ll count.” Zad finished his food patting his big friend on the shoulder before another swig of his water and wiping his mouth off with his hand.

    “You do that and I’ll tell your father you shirked your duty when we get back.” Grif chuckled.”Last time that happened you did the dinner dishes for how long?

    Zadkiel laughed, rubbing his chin in thought. “About as long as you had to polish the Order’s armor when you told a young Initiate you were the brother of the Inquisitor and tricked the pup into doing your guard shifts because you had “important intel” to share with the Inquisition.” He tossed Grif a pastry. “Didn’t we catch you at the bakery in town “taste testing?”

    “Our armor was the shiniest in Thedas for that week.” Grif said, catching the pastry. “And Ser Lucian personally thanked me. Remember the tourney he won that week; Said the shine blinded his opponents.” He finished and took a bite.

    The man let out a loud laugh leaning back in his chair. “And I’m sure it had nothing to do with the free Riviani wine that was there or how most of his foes were too drunk to even put their armors on correctly.” He looked over at the dog and shouted to him. “Isn’t that what you heard Ser Barq?”
    “A true chevaliar understands moderation in all ‘es temptations.” Grif said with a flawless Orlaisian accent, and an exaggerated wink. “I honestly think it was overcast at the tourney anyways.” He added in his normal voice.

    Zad smirked, shaking his head slightly at the big man’s accent. “Oh the life of a Warden is lost upon such a skilled thespian as yourself Master Griffin.”

    The Mabari paused mid chew and looked up at the men conversing. He huffed and returned his attention to the ball. Gnawing relentlessly at it.

    “If you’re finished you may want to hunt down Laurenas. Go over what we need to know regarding landfall.” Grif said with a slightly sadder note. “Work comes sooner every minute that passes. Or some such.”

    Zadkiel chuckled and nodded standing up adjusting his sword’s shoulder sling. “Why yes of course First Warden your eminence, right away ser.” He winked at the Qunari before clicking his tongue signalling Barq to his side. See if you can round up the rest of the group, once we get close I’m sure we’ll all be briefed on what to expect.” He patted the dogs head and moved to leave.

    “The Dwarf is probably already close the elf lady.” Grif stated. “He’s been bugging her for more speed as I understand it. But I’ll seek out the Keeper and whoever’s in charge of the slingers. Then I’ll wander around and make sure our people are up to speed. Even if I have to dump them from their rack.” He stretched before standing, ducking slightly to keep his head clear of the ceiling.

    Giving one last smile Zadkiel clapped Grif on the arm. “Sounds good my friend, be gentle with some of the flipping. The Dalish are twitchy, don’t need anyone becoming a pin cushion before we even get to shore.” He slipped out the galley followed closely behind by Barqspawne.

    “Ha. Pin Cushion.” Grif chuckled to himself. “Why do you think I’m already in my armor.” He muttered as he exited from the galley.
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  8. #8
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    Default Lark, Breggo, and Siks tri-op

    Ruins of Garth Uireb Maethor Jagmar, Nienor, Jocko, and Damina

    The cool breath of evening rolled through the ruins of the old fort a stone’s throw from the docks of the Grey Havens. A group of six individuals sat around a fire occasionally glancing through the broken walls of the fort. Jagmar One-Eye was seated with his back firmly against a broken pillar smoke listing up lazily from the bowl of his pipe. “It’s been two days, how long do we plan to sit here and wait?”

    Besides him crouched an elegant Elven woman with silver hair, she was slowly sharpening a pair of black bladed knives. “Until the sun sets today Master Dwarf.” She said quietly.

    Across from the Elf, a stout young woman was carving a stake of some kind and glanced over at the Bounty Hunter. “Tis the second time ye’ve asked that in a matter o’ a ‘alf ‘our Dwarf. Yer gettin’ as bad as the wee Princess over t’ere.” Her Northman accent, a harsh contrast to her light melodic voice.

    Nienor raised an eyebrow, continuing to sharpen her blades in easy motions. Leaning against the old, faded with time, stone walls, she imagined the old harbor at its time of glory, surrounded by Elves and music. Even now, every night, she was lulled to sleep by the soft murmur of the nearby stream running through Grey Havens and the whispering of leaves. “I always thought wasting time was a crime punishable by flogging. I should finally bring it up to the High King and see if he approves it for the White Guards.” she muttered to herself before looking at the Northerner with her usual gruffness. She hasn’t had much interactions with her kinsmen from The kingdom of Rhovanion, but she always considered them more akin to the Dwarves than her own people. Same level of bluntness and disregard for the high courts of Gondor and Rohan. She wouldn’t call them dishonorable, but the Northmen sure weren’t knights or warriors for the greater good.

    Silence carried on for a few more minutes before the jolly singing of Jocko made itself known. Thumping merrily down the make-shift ladder that connected the first level from the second the Hobbit was always in the highest of spirits. “Well there’s my two hour look-out shift done who's next?” He asked dropping his swords down upon his sleeping mat before pulling out a skin of ale from his pack to enjoy.

    “I believe it is mine,” Nienor stopped the whetstone halfway down the blade and moved to push it into its place. Straightening and sheathing her sword, she stretched like a cat, her hair braided up away from her face. “Unless the Master Dwarf wishes to keep me company.”

    Jagmar gave a low chuckle and slowly stood up, using his halberd to aid him. “I think I shall lassie, ale makes the Hobbit gassy and I needn’t smell it so soon before dinner.” Lumbering to his feet he let out a shrill whistle and called Sorbel to his shoulder before following the warrior woman up the ladder. His legs were falling asleep as well so the movement would do him some good.

    “Why a crow?” The young warrior raised an eyebrow as they began moving the second floor of the fort.

    The Dwarf chuckled, pulling a bit of bread from his pocket, feeding it to the bird. “Crows and Ravens are wickedly smart animals. Smarter even than horses in some cases.” Resting his polearm against the wall Jagmar whistled again directing Sorbel to hop upon the cross guard of the weapon like a perch. “But I saved his life as a chick and once he was well he saved mine.” Moving to a large hole in the wall Jagmar restocked and relighted his pipe puffing away at it thoughtfully. “Ya hear anything from your friend Beren?” He asked bluntly, watching the young woman.

    “No,” Nienor looked out into the distance as the pair climbed up the ruins to the vantage point giving a better view of the sea. “There has been no news from...from Minas Tirith. I worry about what is happening there. We can’t keep waiting for long.”

    Letting out a long puff of smoke the Bounty Hunter nodded. “Aye, despite the words of the young brute downstairs, it is a worrying waste of time. Sitting here for three days just watching the endless horizon. I’m not an educated Dwarf, but is there even land beyond those waves? Last I knew it was just water in all directions.”

    “The Elves speak of Valinor and Eldemar across the Great Sea,” Nienor smiled, stopping to examine the old frescoes atop the walls. While the group was welcomed by the Elves living in the East wings, the remaining shipbuilders of Valor, they decided to live in the half-destroyed ruins as the Elves were uncomfortable around so many outsiders within their halls. It had made Nienor sad as she had longed to look upon the ancient halls of the Elven citadel, but with a few broken Sindarin phrases, she was allowed an evening to roam among the fairest of Endor, drinking their wine and listening to their stories. “I am not sure that is where help will come from though. Those who return to Valinor remain there forever.”

    Jagmar hmmed low in his throat. “Sounds about as possible as there being nothing but water in every direction. So if the Elves and their godly powers can’t help us, and the Wizards have all left with them. Where would help come from? Are the Gods of Man any help at times like this? My people will only bury themselves deeper and deeper in the earth until there is no way out.” The old Dwarf had long decided his life and fate were hardly worthy of some kind of divine being taking an interest in. He woke up every day expecting it to be his last and his only reward would be, being dead when the worms begin to eat him.

    “From what I remember, hiding deeper and deeper never helped your people,” Nienor commented, using her hand as a visor against the sun and looked out into the endless blue. “Evur help us, I can only wish that help comes from anywhere at this point.”

    Jagmar chuckled again, blowing a smoke ring off into the sky. “Aye it never has, but you try to convince one of our Kings of that. If you think I’m stubborn those gray bearded fools wouldn’t believe in rain if it fell on their heads. Just always hunting for their own Arkenstones so they can say their rule is divinely blessed like what happened in Erebor. Does your King have a plan if help never comes?” He asked quite out of the blue, but his type of tobacco has a way of bringing the darkest thoughts forward sometimes.

    “The king….my uncle,” she paused, sighing as she finished her sentence. “There is no plan. If there is no hope, there will be no future. Last time, only the Elves migrated West. They brought no one with them. Now, we will witness the last of the fair folk depart Middle Earth for good.”

    The Dwarf frowned but nodded. “Maybe they’ll take some more of us with them this time.” He mulled quietly, his eyes catching a faint shadow on the horizon. “Twist my beard is that...a ship? We have a ship on the horizon!” He shouted down to the others.

    “Marauder Orc Tribe attack from the Northeast!” The frantic shout of Tinnu the Elf answered forcing him to duck behind some rubble as arrows began smacking against the stone. “BY DURIN’S NAME!” He shouted at the sudden volley.

    “Surely your eye betrays you!” Nienor shouted, copying the Dwarf’s movements and using the stone as a shield for her back, pulling out her sword and readying it. With one hand she reached for the horn attached to her belt, ready to call for help from the Grey Haven Elves. “You really think that a ship would just appear on the horizon?!”

    Jagmar snorted, pulling his halberd in close as another crash of arrows struck the wall. “Go see for yourself lass! I may have one eye, but it knows a ship when it sees one!” He rolled across the floor and tumbled down the ladder landing with a heavy thud on the level below as he rushed to grab his throwing axes and a crossbow given to him by a Dwarf from the Glittering Caves he did a job for. He hadn’t had much time to practice with it, but being under attack was as good a time as any for practice.

    “For who but a Dwarf could grow up near the shores of the seas?” Nienor rolled her eyes as Jagmar rolled away. Sensing a pause in the arrows, she snuck a peek at the dim orange sky and darker waters, her eyes growing larger as two white sails steadily came closer. A stray arrow nearly catching her ear and grazing it forced her back to reality. Quietly swearing like a Rohirim, she followed more steadily after the Dwarf, slicing a few black missiles in the air as she moved down the stairs.

    Back on the first floor Jocko and Damnia had joined Jagmar in losing arrows and slingstones at the rapidly approaching Orc Horde. None of the three were experts at ranged combat, but the closer the Orcs got they better they got.

    Jocko quickly looked up as Nienor came into view. “Might want to give that horn a toot Princess! I don’t think those ships will get here in time before we’re all killed!”

    Holding her sword in her right, Nienor grabbed the horn, bringing it to her lips. The low call of Gondor filled the Western shores with its deep sound, making its way through the yells of the Orcs and the exchange of weapons. Three calls then a pause. Again, three calls and then the Orcs were coming to them. Dropping the horn to hang from her belt, she grabbed her weapon and easily caught a strike heading for her head. The beast snarled, exposing foul teeth and a black tongue. Pushing the creature back, she struck it in the stomach, tossing back a strand of hair before shaking the body off.

    Outside the fort, Lu and Tinnu

    Lu had settled herself against the wall of the old fort on the outside. With Jocko busy with his watch she’d felt more comfortable to leave the company of the others and settle herself outside to gaze at the landscape and tend to the injured bird. It could now hop about on its own, but its wing still seemed too tender to use whenever she tried to mess with it, it pecked at her hands so the opted to leave it alone for now as she picked apart bits of her meal and offered it tidbits to keep it occupied.

    As silent as a leaf upon the wind Lu soon found herself looking at the deep green eyes of the Elf Woman Tinnu. “He is growing strong young Orcess, you have been giving him the poultice I provided I see.” Her voice soft and almost nurturing sounding and her touch just as soft as she stroked the animal's feathers gently.

    Lu only gave a short start before she realized who it was. She shifted against the wall as she nodded. “Yes, he has improved.” She agreed, offering the bird another tidbit of food. “Thanks to you.” She spoke quietly to the elf, wondering if she felt more uncomfortable in her company or the Halflings.

    Tinnu chuckled musically her long silver locks swaying in the sea breeze as she sat besides the young huntress. “I just gave you the medicine, you are the one who has been caring for him. You two seem quite attached. Have you named him yet?” She asked, giving the bird a little drink from her canteen.

    “Attached…” She murmured thoughtfully as the bird cocked its head up at her, its beak wet from its drink. She looked up at the Elf again as she asked if she had named it. “No.” She said after a pause. “Why would I?”

    Tinnu’s smile brightened as she recapped her canteen. “Well if you plan to keep him around might be a good way to keep track of him. Especially with our Dwarven friend upstairs having a crow himself.” She tickled the bird’s neck gently before watching it hop up into Lu’s lap. “Plus naming him might make him happy. These birds are very intuitive and can sense things like emotions and react to them.”

    Lu listened quietly, What would she even name it? She thought looking down at it perched on her lap. She reached out and gently pet the bird’s head as they stared at each other for a moment. “What would I name you?” she asked the bird. It cocked its head once before spreading its one uninjured wing and let out a caw. “...Caw…” She nodded with the bird and rubbed it under its chin.

    Tinnu giggled approvingly. “Caw...a good strong name for a good strong bird. Once he’s well he’ll be a fine hunting companion for you my dear.” Turning to the sea Tinnu closed her eyes letting the crisp salt air wash over her. She had journeyed to this fort with Damina a day or so before Lu and her companions arrived. She loved the sea and often dreamt of the day when she would join the rest of her people on the waves as they waved good-bye to Endor and all it’s splendor. It was a day she knew would both uplift her spirits and dash them upon the rocks.

    She was very young by Elf standards, being born well after the War of the Ring to the last conclave of Elves left. Her Elders told her all about their history, but much of the magic and greater tales left with Elrond and his High Elves two hundred years ago. This world and this life was all she knew and it tore her apart to think about leaving it one day. But with the arrival of these creatures she was glad some had remained to fight them off. “If you don’t mind my asking Lushak, what do you make of all this? These Wrong and their Winged master?”

    “Hum.” The she-orc was quiet for a moment in thought. “It is certainly strange, They are fouler then any Orc, and far less forgiving than even the lands of Mordor.” She said looking out over the water. “Terrifying perhaps is the best way to describe it.” She said.

    Tinnu’s brows furrowed as she nodded slowly. “Yes...terrifying is a good word for them. I’ve spent most of my life hunting down the last stragglers of the Dark One’s army, trying to wipe his stain completely from our home.” She looked down at her legs with a troubled expression. “But they were nothing compared to these...these...things. Mindless and savage, but also unnaturally organized acting like a single entity in every skirmish. I would slay one and two more would take its place.” She let out a low sigh and kicked her legs out towards the slowly setting sun. “I’ve never been a pessimist, but it is quite difficult to muster up hope in the face of that.”

    “Yes, The human warrior said something similar.” Lu replied quietly, not seeming to have any kind of reaction to her remark on the Dark One's stains. “And yet, despite that we still fight.” She murmured looking to her hands. “It leads me to believe that Desperation and Hope are similar.”

    Tinnu hmmed at the young Orc’s words. “Two sides of the same coin as they say, you are quite wise for one so young Lushak. I do hope more people come to see things from your perspective. My Elders often said the new generation would become wiser than their parents having to grow up in a war like this. Seems they were right.” She smiled, patting Lu upon her shoulder.

    The She-Orc was not sure about that, but she was even less sure what to say in return. She looked to the Elf for a moment. “You and Jocko both baffle me.” She said finely. “So easily accepting, even if I’m only a half of the enemy you had before.” She said looking down as Caw pecked at her hand, wishing for more to eat, She pulled apart some more of the meat and offered the bird a small portion. “I thought Jocko was odd, or just perpetually drunk but you are neither it seems.”

    Tinnu couldn’t help but let out a small snort upon being compared to the mad Took. “Well, I myself am not sure if our Hobbit companion is half drunk or just fully mad most of the time. But I’ve always found Haflings have an innate knack for reading someone perfectly after only spending a few minutes with them. Drunk or mad it doesn’t matter, once they decide upon their opinion of someone it rarely changes. As for me…?” She half asked, looking at the horizon. “I may not be as magical as the High Elves or have their otherworldly sense of the world, but I’ve experienced enough to know friends and allies can come from the most unexpected of places. And if Endor is to survive the Wrong we need to let go of old rivalries and bad blood and stand united against them.”

    Lushack listened quietly to the Elf speak, following her gaze as she mulled over her words. “I don’t imagine it will be easy for most.” She said finely. “I doubt my kin will be as willing, but for now we do have a common enemy. Perhaps something will be born of that with time.” She said. “I suppose… one can only hope?”

    Tinnu smiled sadly bringing her knees up to her chest before resting her chin upon them. “Indeed it won’t be easy, but that will be our only option if my Kin do not return with aid. But until then hoping is the best.” She opened her mouth to say something else when her whole body tensed she dove over Lu and the bird as a black barbed arrow embedded itself in the wall where Lu’s head once was. And just as she heard the Dwarf shout about a ship being spotted she shouted back. “Marauder Orc Tribe attack from the Northeast!” She helped Lu up before pulling them both behind the protection of the ruined stone walls of the fort.

    Lu followed the Elf to shelter, clutching Caw in both hands as she ducked into safety. She growled lowly over Caw’s protests. She set the bird down safely behind the wall and peered back out. Her bow and quiver had been set right at her side, but Tinnu’s movements had jostled them over and she’d left the She-Orc little time to snatch them up along with the bird. There they lay next to the wall. She hissed softly glancing back at the Elf briefly as arrows cracked against the stone.

    Lu reached back and pulled her mask over her face just before she ducked out after the second volley hit the wall. Lu was nimble enough as she slid to a stop and snatched up her bow and quiver and ducked as a second arrow attempted to pierce her head, it caught the ear of her wolf hood and tore it as she dived back behind the wall. She grumbled angrily as she got back to her feet checking the bow string before pulling free an arrow.

    Tinnu quickly stepped out, covering Lu as she retrieved her weapons, an Orc dropping with each pull of her bow string. “Lushak! Get back to the main room with the others! I’ll cover you!” She said as a black arrow whizzed by her head.

    Lu attached her quiver and picked up Caw. The horde growing ever closer even as they were picked off bit by bit. She didn’t say a word as she quickly ducked off, keeping low as arrows flew. One passing inches in front of her nose before she reached the safety of the door to the main room where the others were already engaging. She bent down, dropping Caw on top of a bag before stringing the arrow she had clutched with her bow and quickly finding a position she could cover Tinnu from.

    As soon as Lu was safe and could cover her Tinnu moved as quickly as she could, feeling the sick buzz of arrows all around her like angry hornets. She too reached the safety of the main floor then moved a little up the wall using a fallen pillar as a platform to continue her defense. “Where did these Orcs come from?! The Marauder Tribe would never be able to get this close to the Grey Havens without the Elves knowing!”

    “I don’t think any of them will tell you.” Lu called back. “Even if you asked kindly.” She watched as one of her arrows felled an approaching marauder and quickly notched a new arrow and released it, catching one in the leg making it drop to the ground. They were getting too close, close quarters combat was not her style. Lu hissed in frustration before she turned and moved for the stairs quickly scaling for the second floor to perch herself and focused her attention on the rival archers.

    The hills around the Grey Havens

    The Defenders could see the black eyes of the attacking Orcs as a loud trumpeting sound similar to that of an Elk call finally answered the boom of the Gondor Horn. A literal storm of golden arrows rained down upon the attacking Tribe, felling nearly a quarter of them, but this wasn’t your typical raiding was a fullly armed war party with almost the entire Marauder Tribe present and hungering for the precious treasures that were rumored to be sailing into the Havens at this very moment. Anything that could pull warriors from the frontlines of a war must be more precious than any shiny bauble currently in their coffers. And Overlord Thrak was always looking for the next shiny bauble to add to his massive collection.

    He commanded his tribe from the back seated upon a large blond Warg covered from head to toe in gold. Heavyset and very gray of skin the greedy Overlord could see the ships approaching his mouth already watering at the prospect of treasure. Holding his jeweled sword aloft he shouted his warriors forward even after the valley of arrows from the Elves hiding among the trees dropped many of them.

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  9. #9
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    The Wardens, before the Orc attack.

    “Land ho!” Shouted a Dalish from the crow’s nest high above the desk of the lead ship. Barq jumped to his feet and ran to the brow barking at the faint shadow of land in the distance. The crew was gathered around the helm where Laurenas stood getting ready for the briefing for shore. The second ship was floating abreast with the lead one. Most of the people were gathered, just a few stragglers were left before the briefing would begin.

    As his dog ran to the front of the ship Zadkiel now dressed in his full armor followed the excitable pooch chuckling to himself. “Soon ya big galoot, quiet down.” He gripped the war dog’s collar pulling him away from the railing, the beast’s armor clanking lightly as he tried to pull back towards the waves.

    Eli was one of the last stragglers, covering a yawn as she tightened her arm braces and checked her daggers in her belt. Her various arsenal of vials was carefully stashed away in their small nooks and holders all within easy access. Absently, waiting for their briefing in the back of the group, she started braiding her hair to stay out of her face, ending up beside Grif’s huge figure. “Ah, my personal umbrella,” she teased, ending up in his shadow.

    Fen finished adjusting the wolf helm into place, rolling his shoulders out from the rough voyage. While having had worked as diligently as the others, the travel on the sea had not been the most pleasant, and he was more than eager to set foot on land again. Traveling light had allowed him to remain at the ready despite the time, so he could more than understand Barq’s desire to be upon land again. Though somewhat loath to admit it, Fen was not a sea dog like the mabari.

    The Tal-Vashoth had spent extra time on his Vitaar on this day. Taking care to make his warpaint look as much like a Shrieker as was physically possible. At Eli’s jab the big man donned the wildest smile he had, widening his eyes to the limit and turning to look down at her. “Always happy to help.” He stated in an eerily sing-song voice.

    Upon seeing his friends Zad dragged his slobbering hound towards Grif and Eli realising the dog, who saw the pair and let out a loud bark bounding over to them standing on his hind legs to lick Eli’s face. “Glad you two could make it, you ready to get off this ship as much as the mutt here?”

    “What? You think I wear my best for any old occasion?” Grif said motioning to his warpaint. I got a bet to win anyway.”

    “Hello Barq, hello handsome,” Eli cooed, scrunching her nose as the thick, wet tongue smacked against her skin in a happy hound greeting. Pushing the mabari down, she nodded to Zad, ruffling the dog’s fur.
    The few Legionnaires on the flagship gathered together. Awarn stood at the head of them, his face was blank; And yet still looked impatient. The sooner they reached the shore the better, as far as he was concerned. The Dwarf had already considered the first move he and his men would make upon reaching landfall, and time was burning.

    Azoca tried his best to keep from getting trampled underfoot of the other wardens, the sense of importance heavy in the air. Though he had been plenty excited to join the Wardens, the travel on the ship had not given him much time to actually talk with them. He had done plenty of work helping around the ships, keeping him almost running around the ship himself. Now though, having the chance to actually meet the veteran Wardens, his nerves got the better of him for the ship. Even being close to them, he couldn’t find the words to say to them, and with mission details needed, he just decided to remain silent for now. Mission first, gawking at the legends later.

    Laurenas watched the varied group with a sharp eye, waiting for the rest of the Fereldans to assemble on deck. Over the past few months, all the Wardens have started to see the Elves as more than abominations of nature though not all trusted them. Unfortunately, that was a problem seen often among any Free people according to her experience and the lore of her people. Mistrust could be deadly but there was no way to heal it aside from time.

    “Welcome to Endor, mellyn,” her melodic voice was soft but carried over the group like water in a bubbling stream, cool and full of some sort of raw power, dormant for now but able to be awoken if one pushed back too hard. “I welcome you to the land of my forefathers and friends. I know the journey has been hard but once we dock at Mithlond, we will be greeted by Lord Círdan as honoured guests, provided food and time to rest.”

    “Laurenas, im see trast!” Eglerion’s voice cut the air with notes of tension. Frowning, Laurenas turned to look at the younger elf.

    “Where? In Mithlond?” her voice was hesitant, nervous even. As much as she tried to keep her mask of calm on her face, it cracked a bit. “What do you see?”

    “Orcs!” A weight seemed to be immediately lifted off Laurenas’ shoulders. “A couple dozen attacking the West ruins. There's a group under attack - I see a few humans, a hobbit and one of Durin's kin. I think I heard the horn of Gondor!”

    “So did I Laurenas,” one of the other Sindarin elves responded gravely. “Someone is in trouble.”

    Fen already could feel the tension and unease rolling off his body like water. Though unwelcomed, the thought of battle greeting them was a familiar weight to his bones. He had been born for war, and ready for fight at a moment. He pushed through the group and onto the edge of the bow. Straining his eyes he could see the blurry images, the sky peppered dark with arrows.

    “Seems larger than a raiding party, and our side is pinned. Looks like they’re rolling out the full welcome party for us.” Da’lenfen addressed the crowd, tensing and shifting his stances, ready to start the fight.

    Azoca could feel a pit deep form in his stomach. He knew they were going into a war torn land being ravaged by darkspawn. Now, they were to land in the middle of this new land surrounded by Orcs? He tried looking across the lands from the boat, not even able to see from them.

    “I .. hate to ask this, as I haven’t had much chance to ask, but .. what are Orcs?” Azoca dared to ask his question, looking towards Laurenas.

    When word got out that there was a party under attack, Zadkiel’s grip loosened on Barqspawne’s collar. The massive wardog slipped free and charged the rail; Leaping over with an excited bark as he cleared it. Landing with a splash and paddling furiously towards the nearest shore.

    “Really wish we packed the catapult.” Grif muttered to himself before turning to the mages. “I need a shover and a catcher. A Telekinetic Burst as I jump and a Pull of the Abyss on the shore. Drop it the minute I land.” He barked. Motioning for the deck to be cleared between him and far rail. Once his path was cleared he charged forward and leapt into the air.

    Azoca pulled himself back into the moment as Grif made his request to the mages. While he didn’t know the spell for burst, he could do the pull. Moving onto the bow, he watched Grif sail, pulling his eyes back to the shore as soon as the burst spell was launched. Focusing his energy, he pointed his staff towards the shore and launched his spell, focusing it onto the land. Controlling the spell, he adjusted it to only grab Grif, enough to keep him in the air just long enough to slow his fall before gently allowing him to land on the ground safely.

    “Barqspawn!” Zad’s voice echoed as the mutt launched himself into the water followed by the huge Qunari. Eli rolled her eyes though her gaze focused on the large dog as he paddled towards the shore. Whatever Orcs were, she wondered what they would think of the hound and if they could cause him more harm than Darkspawn. While Eglerion seemed to think that nothing was as terrifying as the Wrong, she couldn’t be sure of something she had never seen before.

    “As long as they can be killed,” she mused, flexing her fingers to warm them up.

    As both his dog and his Qunari launched themselves over the rails of the ship the Constable. Shouted across the bows as the ships nearly crashed into the docks and the gangplanks were dropped.. “TO ARMS! TO ARMS! ELVES FIRST SCATTER TO WHEREVER YOU CAN GET A CLEAR LINE OF SIGHT AND DROP THESE THINGS LIKE LEAVES FROM A TREE! DWARVES! FUNNELING WALL OF STEEL! FORCE THE FRONTLINE BACK AND GIVE OUR ESCORTS SOME BREATHING ROOM! MAGES REINFORCE THE ELVES AND RAIN SOME FIRE DOWN UPON THE ENEMY'S REAR GUARD!”
    With the orders given Zadkiel was the first to traditionally leave the ship and ran towards the fort to check on the escorts, his shield pinging with many angry arrows.

    Ruins of Garth Uireb Maethor, Defenders of Endor.

    Madness filled the air as the small group of Endroans held back the rushing horde of Orcs. Dozens littered the once lush green fields of the Grey Havens. But the horde kept coming, climbing over their dead or wounded comrades or stealing their much nicer weapons and armor for their own. This greed-fueled distraction is what allowed the Defenders to hold on as long as they did.

    Lu and Tinnu were on the second floor of the ruins sniping who they could.

    Jagmar and Jocko were keeping their heads down, dropping what they could when they could from the first floor.

    Damina joined Nienor in front of the ruins slashing down the extra quick Orcs who had run ahead of the rest or avoided the ranged assault of the rest of the defenders.

    Each warrior was sweating from the exertion and no small tinglings of fear as the Marauders drew closer and closer.

    Jocko saw the ships pull into the docks and not one but two creatures leaping overboard and rushing headlong into the fray. A small barking bear and a...giant flying Orc? “What in the world was in that ale?” He asked aloud watching the pair rush by. Still in surprise he barely ducked an arrow upon seeing the “Orc” up close. “That is a very pretty Orc.” He suddenly felt the haft of Jagmar’s halberd crash upon his armored skull, “FOCUS ON THE FLYING ORC LATER HAFLING WE STILL HAVE A FIGHT TO WIN!”

    As the ships arrived Tinnu let out a breath she hadn’t been aware she was holding. Hope had nearly left her heart, but seeing such a large number of allies storming from the ships filled her with a long extinguished fire. Gathering up some of the arros the Orcs had embedded in the stone work she moved closer to the broken window she was behind and began firing at as rapid a pace as she could manage.

    Damina’s axe was black with Orc blood, her arms burned with effort. She had never felt so alive as when she was so close to death. She barely even registered the arrival of their helpers until a giant dog and even more giant horned man crossed her vision crashing into the brutes she had been about to strike down. Next to cross her path was a man with white hair dressed in dark red armor and wielding a silver and blue shield with some kind of winged creature on it. He bypassed her and rushed to the Princess. At first the young logger felt somewhat snubbed, but then she remembered she was a Berserker not a frilly princess. It has been two years since she used her family’s signature technique, but now was the perfect time to see if she could still do it embracing her exhaustion she belted out a fearsome holler and followed the dog and giant man into the frontlines.

    Lu’s wry gaze caught the sight of the strange… orc? flying , quite literally, onto the shore. Followed by what she could only assume was a breed of warg, if a bit smaller. Still she couldn’t afford to take her attention away for long as she loosed her last arrow with a hiss of frustration and ducked back peering around and the scattered remains of the arrows flung at them. She gathered a few as quickly as she could, and used them to the best of her abilities and picked off any more archers.

    Nienor growled, shouldering back the assault alongside Damina, not bothering to look to the sides, all her senses focused on the battle. Sweat rolled down her forehead to the tip of her nose but she ignored it, parrying and counter attacking the monsters as a few yells and awes called out about flying orcs, allies and help. Shaking away any desire to lose focus, she managed to push forward a few steps, leaving the woman to cover her flanks. “Fucking brutes,” she cursed, grabbing her dagger into her free hand as the strikes came faster.

    In moments Zadkiel had gathered much of the information he needed upon just setting foot on the battlefield. But there were only about six defenders in the ruins and an unknown number of archers hidden in the high trees nearby. None of them looked to be in charge, an ax swinging woman screaming like a wounded she-wolf, a one-eye Dwarf and a child? Were hiding on the first floor of the ruins and he couldn’t tell exactly who was up there but at least two more defenders were on the second floor sniping the black skinned monsters. The only one who looked to be wearing some kind of military uniform was another young woman, this one with a large white horn hanging from her belt. The Warden decided she was the closest thing to a leader among these defenders.

    Holding his shield close to his body he soon reached her side, cleaving the head from a monster that had gotten close to her left side. “My good Lady Knight! I am Zadkiel Cousland, Constable of the Grey, and field commander of the Ferelden Grey Wardens! We and our comrades, the Dalish Elves, and the Legion of the Dead, have answered Laurnas’s call. What are these things we’re fighting?”

    The first second that the flow of Orcs stopped, Nienor felt relief and had a moment to breathe. The next reply left her stunned and numb - Grey? Warden? Ferelden, Dailish and….what were the Dead doing here? Another force of Oathbreakers? Her eyes gleefully looked around, hoping to glimpse half-faded shapes sweeping the field like clouds but she saw nothing of the stories of old. The snarl of a rather large Orc brought her to reality and in a fell swoop, she sent her dagger heading to the monster’s throat.

    “Orcs of the Northland. They rarely come so south but Grey Havens isn’t a fortress and many of the Elves departed. I am glad Laurnas is back,” She didn’t have time to continue, once again clashing with an opponent, breathing hard as she finished him off. Were these newcomers friends?

    Zad nodded, smashing another face of an Orc before he plunged his shining sword through its chest. “Orcs of the Northland got it!” He said as if he knew what that meant, but that would one of a hundred questions they would all be asking once this was all over. “You are very mighty warriors to have held off such a horde, but I think it’s time to turn the tides.” He banged his sword upon the edge of his shield, the fine materials ringing loudly across the battlefield. Sending something like a rallying cry signalling the Dalish and Mages to begin their assaults, hails of arrows and various bolts of dangerous magic began raining down upon the Orcs.

    After Zad gave his signal, it was echoed back enmass before a hundred black clad dwarves charged into the front line. Sixty of them carried shields and formed a half circle around the weary defenders. The remaining forty swung their heavy weapons over the heads and shields of their kin. Axe blades biting Orc skin, while hammers shattered orcish bones. In the center of the line Arawn’s maul launched his foes back into their brethren.

    “Typical men,” Nienor wiped off her forehead against her arm, falling back and allowing the new forces to clash with the Orcs. Watching the usual Men, Dwarfs and, what she assumed, some sort of Elves, she couldn’t help staring at the horned Orc happily swinging his weapon among the group while a dog nearly the same size as the warg ripping apart Orcs like paper. Shaking her head, she cleaned her weapons off in a fell swoop before starting back toward her companions, wanting to know the current state of their small troop.

  10. #10
    Mystic of the Grimoire
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    Da'lenfen and Damina

    Da’lenfen had sunk any emotions or exhaustion as the ship finally docked, allowing Zadkiel to take the first stride onto the docks and rush to the aid of the greeting party. As he had finally seen the Orc’s that the Elf had mentioned, he could understand why they had seemed so fearful. They looked close in figure to the Qunari, but much more mutilated. Had the Darkspawn truly twisted the beings of this land this much? Or was their lands just demented that far from their own. He barely let these thoughts register as he moved onto the docks, charging magic in through his body. The enemies in front of him seemed at least intelligent as they stopped to salvage the weapons of their fallen family, uncaring as brother and kin dropped from arrows or close weapons.

    His skin rippled as he let his spell fly, allowing fur to contort and shift his body. He dropped to his hands as the form finished, changing that into the familiar form of the large wolf, getting some looks from others as he finally charged, taking up onto the ruins to peer down upon the field, letting a low growl fill his chest as arrows sailed around him, having to duck some before he finally pulling into fierce howl, letting the sound rip from his throat. It bounded across the stone and fields, drawing attention from those closest to the wall in some surprise at the large wolf staring them down. Da’lenfen took advantage of these spare moments before bounding onto the ground, claws slashing through the bodies as he moved into the fray, finding himself close to that of an axe wielding woman.

    Damina’s blood boiled and her heavy axe moved like a great scythe ignoring the finer points of conflict instead dropping as many of the Orcs as she could in a single strike. She didn’t always kill them, none would be able to stand to bring a blade to meet her. A particularly large savage carrying a large jagged spear tried to use it’s reach to his advantage, but she splinted the shaft and was just about to finish him off when a sight she never expected to see lunged forward. A Warg? Fighting against the Orcs? She thought jumping back as the wolf took down her target.

    “Ya fuckin’ mutt! T’at one was mine!” Her voice was still husky with rage, her accent becoming even thicker.

    Da’lenfen looked to the source of the voice, glaring at the woman before tossing the dead body into the swarming horde, knocking down a few with the body parts. The rumble was still deep in his chest as he studied the woman, smelling the mixture of blood and sweat upon her from dead Orcs. One could see sarcasm in his eyes as he lunged into the next horde, claws and fangs ripping into the Orcs that had tried to overwhelm them. Fen couldn’t believe the strangeness that the woman would be complaining about who killed what, when their lives were on the line. There was some anger at having been called a mutt by one that they had come to save them. In earnest though, he had been called worse, so mutt almost seemed a compliment at this point.

    As the strange wolf looked back seeming to understand her words, Damina shook her head as the creature went back to battle. “Oi, Ah’m naw gunna allow some mad warg tae kill moare t’an me!” Leaping after the dog she changed her approach once more focusing on single or maybe two foes at a time making sure she kills with each swing smirking madly at the wolf. “Caume on puppy!” She laughed striding past the wolf dropping two more Orcs.

    Was this woman insane? She now addressed him as some type of warg, that Fen guessed was a large wolf of some sorts. Even now, he was trying to make the fighting into a contest of battle. He had to give her a small bit of confidence, willing to brave a massive army just for a battle of numbers. The brash actions of her made him shake his head, wondering what kind of training that this woman had gone through to be so brazen. They were in the middle of a battle, a fight for their lives, and she was worried about how many he could kill over her?

    He let out another large howl, letting the sound ripple through the mass of black flesh as he pounded forward. The combination of Orc blood pooling across his fur and flesh was just enough to stop some of them, allowing him to bowl headlong into them, fangs ripping into them as his claws struck hard. He ripped through them, striking down hordes to forge ahead. While there some may have still been alive, his goal was to push through enough, letting dead corpses act as the shield while cutting a path forward.

    Damina swore loudly as she began falling behind. This wasn’t a normal Warg, even they couldn’t move so fast. And this mutt had some kind of intelligence behind it’s savage eyes, what in the flame of Mordor was she fighting besides? As the Dalish and Mages began their assault the horde thinned and Damina caught up to the blood-soaked wolf. “Wut the fuck are yu?!” She shouted at the Not-Warg not even being sure if it could respond to her.

    As the horde began to thin some, Fen was given a chance to pause for a moment. Magic from the shores began to rain down, sending the battlefield into a state of chaos. Letting himself shake off some of the blood, the woman from before finally caught up with him. She questioned just what the fuck he was. It was somewhat refreshing to hear such bluntness, though they just had a moment to respond. Looking down at his form, he wondered if they had wolves in their lands, looking over his blood soaked form and back at her. He looked back towards the ruins at the iron wall of shields. He pointed one paw back towards them, taking the moment before taking down Orcs that had gotten just within range. Hopefully her brutish nature had enough training to understand that he meant ally.

    Focusing back into the battle at hand, he could just make out the obvious leader, cowering behind the horde, decked out in gold. Even without the strong light, he could easily see the glittering buffoon atop a very ugly beast of sorts. The only reason Fen knew it was the king, was just the decadence of his attire. Feeling a deep rumble of his chest, Fen pointed to the two of them, and then to the king as he ripped through another Orc, Orc limbs falling in chunks as Fen crouched down, ready to charge into the hordes again.

    Damina understood the mutt’s odd signals, but the fact they were coming from a weird Warg just left the woman nodding her head absently. Her rage was still burning within her, but the longer she delayed between killing the quicker it would fade. The last things she saw before the Not-Warg ran towards the Orc Overlord were fireballs and arrows falling all around them, but whoever was slinging them were skilled and accurate because she didn’t even feel the heat as a fireball incinerated six Orcs to her left. And thundering toward her and the Not-Warg was a wall of grim faced Dwarves led by a glowing Dwarf of some kind with a giant maul. She had never bothered to fantasize about what type of help would come if any, but this would likely be what she would think of. For the first time an ember of victory began burning with her chest. Letting out another wild yell she caught up to the Not-Warg killing with him, but still keeping track of their kill count.

    Fen paid barely any attention to the shadow that followed him, only noting her by the sudden death of an Orc, or the flash of her body as he sliced an Orc that had gotten close. He wasn’t sure if it was the fever of battle, or just the exhilaration of battling again, but he could find himself enjoying this. The woman who fought with him reminded him of a bear, one of the larger creatures he had walked with before. There was no finesse or elegance in her movements. She was brutish and bold, smashing and striking Orcs that he let move beyond him, or those that he had left alone on his path. It felt akin to fighting with an animal in the woods, and it did bring joy knowing that the lands of the Elves were not full of those types of people.

    Revion and Azoca

    ‘Okay, now is the time to prove my skills!’ Aszoca thought, gripping the staff as he responded in unison with the mages, moving off the ship into a defensive position along with the other mages. He felt that small bubble of eagerness grow inside his gut, finally having a chance to prove that he was the right choice for this mission. The nervous energy was enough to carry him onto shore, but upon setting himself up, that bubble burst like swamp gas, leaving nothing but a foul stench and nausea residing. The field before him was nothing like he expected, not by a long shot. He swallowed the rising panic as his senses were assaulted on all fronts.

    The fields in front of him were chaos, small pockets of people killing the Orcs. Body parts and blood littered the grounds, the visceral fluids turning the ground to a foul soupy mud. The clash of metal and bodies assaulted his ears, the shouts and yells barely reaching over them. Azoca tasted bile in the back of his throat as he gripped the staff tight in his hands, lost in the confusion of all that was going on. He wasn’t sure where to even start, watching the other mages around him launching spells into the writhing black mass, casting wards or defensive barriers for allies, even some he could see were already set on healing those who had become wounded.

    He felt lost, completely overwhelmed by the sheer hysteria of battle around him.

    Revion looked upon the young mage, his eyes glancing over the boy as he sent another volley of fire upon the enemies. He felt annoyance rise in his mind as he moved over to the man in a few swift strides, hand raised and cupping the young man just behind the ears. He had already been frustrated that the circle would send one so inexperienced to the fight with them, but now the boy couldn’t even keep his wits about him.

    “Focus, you daft child! This isn’t a time to be looking like a lost sheep, there is a battle to fight.” Revion shouted to the boy over the din of fire, erecting a barrier to stave off a volley of arrows, feeling his energy drain as they plinked harmlessly to the ground at their feet.

    Azoca was jolted forward as the blow landed on his head, shaking him from the rut as he saw Revion leaning over him, berating him for being lost just as he defended them against Orcish arrows that had nearly skewered them. Azoca’s face was pale, knowing that if it hadn’t been for the older mage, he would have already died. While he had studied and learned combat.

    Another blow to the head stopped his thoughts short, but much softer than before.

    “Idiot child, this isn’t the time for fantasy. We were given orders, so get to work. This isn’t a class training, and you will die, so get your head out of the clouds. I’m not here to babysit mages.” Revion shouted. Azoca nodded solemnly, turning back to the fight as he began charging magic. Now he understood why Revion had been unhappy that the Elders had allowed this young upstart to replace Oolan in the mission.

    Azoca looked to the field, trying to find the best spot to cast his spell, wondering what would be the best place to unleash it. He didn’t want to take long, so once he found one of the more dense packs of Orc’s, Azoca unleashed the makers hammer, feeling the mana leave him as the spell smashed down. He could feel his stomach roil as he watched bodies become flattened to the ground, limbs crushed by the unseen force, those around stumbling from the unsuspecting shockwave.

    “Fool! Don’t just be casting spells without thought. Use them wisely. Just casting them without thought is going to waste your magic before we even get through the start of the battle.” Revion shouted at him, scaring the young mage as he set out a concussive volley of immolate, giving it a few moments to catch his breath as several Orcs fell in flaming heaps upon each other.

    “What? But, I did as asked.” Azoca shot back, not sure at all what the older mage meant.

    “You know pull of the Abyss, yes?”

    “I d-”

    “Then pull more targets together before using Makers hammer. You’ll use more magic, but hit many more targets. This isn’t mage basics.” Revion ordered the young mage, having to pause and catch his breath. He knew casting this much magic would be draining, and was more than pleased to let the other mages in his detachment take over for a few moments as he glared at the boy.

    “Well? Get to it!” Revion shouted when the boy stalled again.

    “Yes Sir!” Azoca shouted, jumping in his skin as he turned back to the field. Planting his feet into the ground, he pulled his magic together, picking a spot that looked rather packed. Focusing on a spot just above them, he funneled his mana into his Pull spell, pulling Orcs, bodies, and even arrows into a giant pile, the sound of rushing wind lost as he quickly switched over to casting Makers hammer. His pull spell had just run out when He cast the spell, watching with much more devastating effects as several bodies were smashed into the ground, body parts flying outwards as the Orcs were smashed into an almost unrecognizable pile of flesh and bone.

    Azoca couldn’t help as his stomach roiled heavily at the gruesome sight, nearly making him vomit. Only shock kept it down as he stared at the destruction he had caused, even with the minor disorientation at having cast the two spells so close together.

    “Good. Do that again once you catch your breath. Don’t stop until the bodies stop twitching or the enemies are gone.” Revion instructed as he returned his focus back onto the fight. The boy would be a hindrance for the start, but he couldn’t lie that he was at least quick on the uptake, if it took a bit of rough handling to get him to actually fight like a mage.

    "Even Dreams, can be a nightmare"
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