Jump to content
LOTROCommunity
Sign in to follow this  
Raedwulf

On Leadership

Recommended Posts

It is strange. I never thought to be a leader when I came north, an outcast. Of a certainty, I can. I am a warrior, I can think, I can make choices, and make them quickly when there is little time for the choosing. But I was a stranger in these lands, and though the fear of the Enemy grows across all our peoples, it seems strange to me that it should be I leading a hastily gathered band of brave souls to challenge evil where we, all too often, find it. So it goes, so it goes...

The gates of Ost Dunhoth opened to us. You will have heard of that evil place, I think. We fight our way inside the gates, and what is the first thing that happens? They sit down to argue, of course! Five ways to choose from and, it seems, fifteen opinions, though we number but twelve. Nominally commanding the group, I lean against one of the door pillars and let them talk. I doubt we can clear this place of the evil that infests it; it will take a greater power than ours to cleanse this ancient fortress. We will do as we can, though, and no doubt, we will return again and again, until news drives us further south. Still, for now, it is best to let them talk...

After a time of debate, they think to send the burglar forwards. Three of five gates are firmly locked. Well, and what is a burglar for! Beyond his skill, he says, not simple mechanisms, prey to his picks, but ripe with the scent of dark sorcery upon them. A master of lore would have more chance at opening them, he says. I never thought it would be other; I am somewhat familiar with the wiles of the Enemy now. It will be, I think, defeat what awaits right & behind; then right & forwards will open. So it goes, so it goes...

Eventually, their words run dry, and they look to me, that has not spoken. "I have listened", I say. "You know me? Then follow. I go to the left." They do follow. It is an odd sensation. I know that they will follow; I know that it is my choices that will determine victory or defeat; I know that they will bicker like children. I am of the hills, not the plains, but I know that horses run in a herd, and will follow their leader, yet these children... It would be easier to to herd cats! Yet they will follow me, bickering all the while. And there are none that I would rather have at my back!

Passing the gates, we find more gates. Three & three; opposing each other. Three channels and lying behind one set of gates... an old story comes to my mind, but before I can find the word, another speaks it.

"Mumakil!"

Dead Mumakil. Oliphaunts they call them in the north, I think. Dead Mumakil with dead Guaredain to ride them. Six low platforms, two in each channel. The Enemy is often less than subtle. It is obvious what we must do. It is as obvious that he intends that we should race the corridors to the end and only then might we turn on these pursuing monsters. No doubt some fell sorcery will protect them ere then, and it seems unwise to me to test it.

The good captain disposes of his forces wisely & well. I do the best I can; four to each corridor; fighters, healers, wise ones. Five stand upon these sorcerous slabs; all look to me; I take that final fateful step. Mechanisms clank, gates rise; do not spare a glance behind! The sounds alone are enough; I know those gates are rising too. We race forwards to whatever horrors await, sure that there must be something ahead that will serve us against what advances behind...

Undead & wolves await. The flesh always creeps a little at the sight of walking corpses, but they have been faced down often enough. So we battle them again. A lever. Quick! Clanking, but the gate before us does not rise. I am not surprised; the calls of my fellows tell me that we have opened another channel. We must wait; they will do the same for us. Only pray that they tarry not too long. The Mumakil approach...

Suddenly we burst into the antechamber of a great hall. More undead await and the Mumakil tumbles into the room almost on top of us. We scatter, evading its clumsy feet. The Guaredain goads it to break the wall before us. A boon I gladly greet; whilst it breaks brick, my concern is to fell the wights that are a more immediate menace.

Now we enter, all, into the final.. sepulchre, it seems to me that that would be a fitting word. How does one describe a melee to another that has not been part of it? At the best, it is a confused morass of fleeting glimpses. Look to your front! Step sharply! But something moves behind you, you hear it. Move again! A quick glance, all you can spare, the thrust all too close, it is... I cannot. If you know, you know. If you do not, I cannot tell you of it. Only can I say that, perhaps, I am never more alive. Do you understand? I do not know.

The shamans, dead though they are, call corpses from the ground. It is of little moment to us. We despatch them, almost without thinking. Our loud voiced friend (no, not me!) cries their attention. They hearken and, mindless almost, pay little attention to our blows as he deftly deflects their attacks. Again and again the dead rise, only to fall again, and first one Mumakil, then another, then the last. A panting space, all senses alert, awaiting another assault. We look to each other briefly, then away again, expecting... expecting... but it is done. There is no more. No more for now, but one observes, no surprise to me, that the gates leading beyond this chamber have opened. Another challenge awaits us. What, I wonder?

To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It troubles me to write of this. The quill is unræd, unready in my hand at the best of times. I was not drunk. Ha! As if I could mistake that feeling! And yet... there was an air of that about the experience. I did not feel wholly as myself. Yes, we won through, but what has the Enemy done to us? It is troubling. None of my warband will look another in the eye; myself or any other. We walked through the opened gates, wary and aware, and then... The world was different...

Truly, it was as though we were drunk. How could we come to the bottom of this stair? I have set foot in what the dwarves call Khazad-dum! From the highest peak, to the deepest depth, I have marvelled at their craft, their artistry; I have eked out nuggests of raw metal that those ancient folk did not deem worthy of their time; I have slain the foul creatures who have profaned their halls; I have stood at the foot of their Endless Stair. How did I come here, out of the fortress of Ost Dunhoth?

Was it a dream? The dream is over. I have seen the corpse of the Valarauko. I think that is what the elves call it. And yet I have had to to slay it! A thing beyond reckoning. I saw the body on the peak of Zirak-zigil. Rumour has it that it was the work of Gandalf. Surely he is a mighty wizard, and who but he or Saruman could fell such a foe? But Saruman is an enemy now. I think. I am so confused...

The stair itself was no challenge; a motley assortment of foes stood upon it, turn after turn. Though always wary; the Enemy loves to ambush; the feeling grew & grew. This was no serious defence, an insult almost, a token resistance perhaps simply to weary us as we ascended. Turn after turn; turn after turn; the Enemy plays Alesticks with us?

Alesticks? Oh, an amusing game. Give three men each a stout stick the length of their arm. Hold it to the sky, stare at the bottom of it, and turn fifteen times rapidly about it. Then have them run to a mark 50 strides distant and return. Give them a wide space to run in, though! It is none so easy as it sounds. Truly, you run as though drunk. However straight you try to keep your path, your feet will wander... So it was upon the Stair - turn after turn, turn after turn, and the feeling that I was not wholly myself, not fully in control...

Of the last fight, I will not speak; I am no craven, but there is a dread upon me. We faced what we faced and neither broke nor ran. We emerged victorious, aye, but none of us are comfortable in our victory. A trick of dark sorcery, undoubtedly, but if my mind can be gulled so easily, am I now me? Am I no longer under another's influence? An uncomfortable question; one I cannot answer...

To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So we staggered back to the entrance hall. Some reeling still, as though drunk; some clutching their heads; all sick & tired. But we cannot rest too long. Of the three gates forward, two still remain closed. We can only go back and to the right. It takes no great mind to think that once that is clear, the forward gate will open, and only when all four wings are emptied will we be allowed to pass the centre. So it goes, so it goes. The Enemy is long on malice, but short, sometimes, on invention!

So we press on. Grodbyg and Kergrim. Though they may be powerful, dangerous even, neither have the power to terrify. Not me, at least. Be they great or small, however numerous, it is only butchery when all is said & done. Our wise ones tell me that the former are in some way kin to the Neekers of Midgewater. The Kergrim though, they are creatures, foul and diseased, out of no lore that I or the wise ones have the kenning of.

They find the Kergrim hard to control; the heavy carapaces of the Grodbyg make the killing slow; but die they will, they do, and all others follow... The wise ones take care of the wounds they inflict, the poisons and foul ailments. The rest is simple killing. Killing & leading. It is not easy when one is in the madness of the melee to keep one's wits, and still keep a weather eye on your companions. Few enough, it seems, have the ability, and yet it seems odd to me that others cannot do as I do. So it goes, so it goes...

Some phantom appears before us, speaking in a bass voice, some wight that claims to be named Gortheron, yet dares not face us. Instead we must battle creatures that, in all truth, I do fear - Huorns! You know little of them perhaps. Few are the tales that speak of them, few are the old forests that, it is said, once ruled this earth. But in my land, some tales still live, spoken low & quiet, told at odd moments, only when the time seems appropriate and that not often. Shepherds of the trees, hating axe-carrying, wood-burning men. There is a forest, we do not go there. At least, not often. We are no cowards, that is proven. But we do not go there, except in numbers and at great need.

Now, it is Huorns and their strange twisted servants that we must battle. One is some twisted caricature of a birch. The other, I am no woodsman; it is darker, as unhealthy looking as the first. Each exudes a sticky sap that drives some of the servants into a frenzy. We must be careful! The fight is strange, yet strangely simple. Strike first one tree, avoid its servants, slay the servants of the other. In some unknown way, this weakens the first Huorn and we slash its branches and roots away. So it goes, so it goes... Both fall as so much deadwood before a stout axe. My companions rejoice, and yet I feel strangely unmoved. It seems too easy. Surely there is more to The Enemy's wiles than this? What next?

To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me see. The first wing slashed our flesh, the second our minds. In the third, our bodies were mortified with infestations & strange disease. Will you wager me that the fourth will flay us with acids & poisons? You will not? Wisely done! So it was, so it was... Did I not say that The Enemy is long on malice but short on invention? Right enough...

Trolls, lake spirits, and those... Nimlith? Nimwaith? I am sorry, what do I know of Elvish, that have scarce ever met an elf? They are kin to those we faced when we ventured into... yes, into Carn Dum. I know that we were not the only warband that dared that place. You are familiar with them, aye? In the common tongue you name them Pale Folk, aye? Then you know of what I speak.

Only two caverns of them. The first was easy enough; the second, well, four trolls will give any band pause, never mind their allies. Never mind the water that stung the legs and feet as it seeped through the gaps in the armour, through the boots. Believe you me, I had some work to do later. Aye, an armourer I am. Some was so battered, there was naught I could do but forge a new piece and say it was the old repaired as best I could!

Gortheron again, or his phantom. Perhaps, at the end, we will catch up with him and treat him as he deserves. And then a giant to face down. Powerful, of a surety, but giants are none too nimble, nor ever so fearsome as tales would have them be. The water was ever more acid; no wonder I had so much smithying to do later; and yet did it do so very much harm? Not really. Not if you could find a place to step out once in a while; let the waters drain away. Of a surety my legs after were pink, red, raw, and you know about the armour! But the fury of the fight carries a man far. It is not so much discomfort at the time, and there was time enough after to recover.

Oh aye, to recover. No giant was getting the better of me and mine. We felled him. I shall go back to axes, if you like! Just like the Huorns. There's no tree that won't fall to a sharp-edged, well-wielded trunk-splitter! We felled him. He was tall when we took his challenge. He was merely long when the fight was over!

To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just caught up on this. Nice write-up of an instance we can recognise!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...