Monday, May 12, 2008

Storytelling: Book 2, Chapter 6 - In the Gaunt-Lord's Grasp

The shade, Emelin, told me a story of the land. A River-maiden, like Goldberry, protected the land, but as the land filled with the blood of the war, the Lady changed. No longer was she the beautiful spirit of the land; now she was filled with blood. The Lady became the Red-maid. The land became poisoned. And as luck would have it, she slept. The story (and reason) for the heavy curse laid upon these lost soldiers was more heavy than I could believe.

When the great Gaunt-lord, Ivar the Blood-hand, came to raise the Red-maid, he also started enslaving the ghostly soldiers. Emelin told me about the wight-lord Brudhraw who was given command of some of these enslaved ghosts. I looked westward at the ruins of Nindur.

I sounded a cry for help throughout the Lonelands because Brudhraw's taint on the swamp of Harloeg must be cleansed. Beogardo, Dolley, and Ambrianna answered my call. They too had heard of the tale of Emelin, and the sorrowful tale of the Red-maid was repeated by Emelin before we left for Nindur at sunrise. Ambrianna quietly sang a song of hope as we broke our fasts.

As we traveled westward the pink morning light of the Lonelands was hidden behind heavy dark clouds. We felled many rotten wights on our way. Beogardo's arrows sometimes felling the foul bodies before my Wind-Raker could tear through the body. I was pleased and told Beogardo of a tactic that would cause even more damage to the enemy. I knew he used it well as arrows screamed down from the sky. We reached the innermost sanctum of Nindur quickly, and the morning light was no more. Only the dread lights of the Angmar-kind lit the way.

We saw Brudhraw with his wights in the sanctum, and the enslaved ghosts of the Arthedain. I peered up from the stairs and saw Brudhraw yelling at his wights. An Arthedain saw me and caught my eye. He hung his head in shame. I knew he could not help me until I slew his overlord. I charged up the stairs yelling a fierce battle cry, and Brudhraw answered the call back. My heart filled with some dread as I faced the ancient wight-lord, but my fellowships strength kept me strong enough to face the ancient evil.

The top of the sanctum became a place of chaos quite quickly. The music of place became heavenly, and my dread began to vanish. The symphony of my whistling axe, Dolley's courageous yells, and Beogardo's screaming arrows were tightly bound together in the morale boosting song given by Ambrianna. The echos of our battle-song broke the chains of the Arthedain soldiers, and they took up arms against the wight underlings. It was up to us to face Brudhraw, however. And, face him and fell him, we did.

As the wight-lord fell, the Arthedain let out a fiercesome rallying cry I hoped one day I could mimic. They flew off into Nindur with a vengeful rage, and each one was a beam of morning light piercing into the darkness. My soul was lightened because souls of great men were freed. The taint was lightening.

We returned to Emelin in Ost Haer, easily stepping over the bodies of the ghost-killed wights. Emelin had heard our song from afar and was pleased. He told us more about the ages of long past. Three nations arose as ancient Arnor fell: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. I knew of Cardolan from the Barrow-downs near Bree, and the epic tale of the Cardolan Prince. Rhudaur I was only slightly familiar with, and knew they were more closely cursed with the Red-maid. It seemed Arthedain was doomed from the beginning, and this doom eventually became Ivar. A foe I would meet.

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