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Man of the North

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re: The Winter Hunt: Part 3 - Fields of Fornost


The light of the moon seemed to fade as the two rangers jogged their horses across the last open stretch of the Greenway and to the edge of the Fornost Fields. Turchon slowed and finally stopped to gaze out over the dreary lands before them "Smoke still rises from the old city." he says before turning to Crowwe and sighing "Can we be so foolish as to hope it is our own?" Crowwe drops to a knee as he gazes out across the barren wasteland, inhabited by only dead trees and dark forces. "Hope is a rare gift in these lands, one that I have not been blessed with for a long time. We should be cautious on our path, even if it is our kinsmen who now hold the city, doubtless the enemy will be outisde the walls." He peers to the north-west, "What path shall we take?" he asks. Turchon nods as he checks his packing and whispers a few soft words to the old horse whom bore his equipment. Glancing around them he says "I should like to see my old mentor Mincham before we proceed for he could better tell us what to expect. If I am not mistaken he makes camp from time to time just over there atop some of those foothills." Crowwe glances over in the direction described, "Yes, I recall the place. I will follow you, my friend. Lead on." He steps back up off his knee and grips the reins of his steed, holding them close. Turchon stands just beyond the small set of ruins that make up Mincham's Camp and calls forth before proceeding "Mae Govannen mellon!" as he comes in view of the fire a grizzled and grim looking man moves in behind them and sheathes his sword "You still walk about like a blind man I see." the older ranger kneels next to the fire and warms his hands as best he can against the cold before standing and mustering a brief smile "I can offer you little more than this fire I'm afraid. Game has grown scarce more so than usual for these accursed lands. "I know the boy Turchon here but your face is not so familiar?" Crowwe bows his head and waves his hand in greeting. "Mae Govannen, kinsmen. I am Crowwe, we have met once before, but it was many years ago when our faces were youngers and our lives not so grim. It's a pleasure to meet you again, Mincham, we come here seeking your aid in this ancient land of our people." Mincham nods and looks out over the fields "Orcs muster in good number within the old city but they lack leadership and are too focused on eachother and now the peaceful folk that remain here. I have not heard of any attempted raids for months now..." the Dunadan's voice betrays a certain hesitation before he goes on to say "The fields themselves give no welcome to the living." Turchon shudders at those last words before moving closer to the fire "We will have to use the roads and risk detection then though I think that if your words hold true the orcs will not be looking hard enough to find us. What do you think brother?" he asks before turning to Crowwe. Crowwe scratched his beard in thought for a brief moment. "No part of those fields seems safe anymore, so I agree. The fastest and easiest route seems like the best choice." His eyes gaze along the route of the path, following it as it reached out across the blackened land. "If we are lucky and swift, we may pass through without incident, but the chance is slight." He grips his bow tightly, "But as always, we will be ready for danger." Mincham says "I cannot go that way..." he glances to Turchon before looking back at Crowwe "What I mean is that I cannot leave this post." he gives them both a firm nod "You have my blessing I only ask that if you find anything of note you pass it on to the Dunadan at the Evendim gate." Turchon notices Mincham's hesitation and quickly replies "There is not much mist about now, if you are of a mind to Crowwe I suspect we had best be off and take advantage of the cover of darkness." Crowwe bows his head in return, "We understand, brother, we all have our duties. We shall do as you ask and hope to see you upon our return from our quest at hand." Crowwe glances over to Turchon and gives a firm nod in agreement. "Aye, let us be off." Turchon walks his mount down the slope and away from Mincham's camp without any further delay and keeps the old horse moving until the glow the campsite is only a glow in the distance. Looking to Crowwe as he walks the Ranger says "I used to hold this post together with Mincham many years ago." Crowwe gripped the reins tightly, his hand kept at his back and his other hand now firmly placed around the grip of his dagger, his gaze stretching out over the horizon, peering into the darkness. "This road is the perfect place for an ambush, be it wargs, Orcs or worse. Be wary and swift," he says walking cautiously forward. Turchon nods as he continues on "Yes, forgive me... my mind was elsewhere." gripping his own dagger Turchon makes it a point to remain as quiet as possible as they continue along the road. The mist seemed to thicken the further the rangers trekked and it eventually blocked out all but the immediate surroundings. Turchon tried to peer through the mists around them as he whispered "This should cover our passage though I wonder at what cost..." as he spoke the man heard a shrill cry in the distance which caused him to slightly quicken his pace. Crowwe followed closely at Turchon's side, poised and ready. "We outta be careful we don't stray from the path, it's far too easy in these conditions and who knows what we may bump into in this darkness. I certainly don't want to awaken a pack of Barghest." Turchon nods in agreement "You'll hear no argument from me." pressing on he notices a pale white flower nudging up through the cobblestone and briefly bends over to pick it from its hard earned home. "Mincham told me flowers like this used to grow wild across all these hills in the days of Arnor. If this mist clears any I should like to stop somewhere near to the road further up ahead." Crowwe glances at the flower, admiring it's beauty in this dark and inhospitable land. "Yes, I have read about them before in Esteldin. Many see them as a symbol of hope that this land will one day be returned to it's former glory. And you can see why if it can manage to still grow here." Turchon eyes the fading path as best he can in the heavy mist and has to kneel and inspect the earth more than once "Cart tracks... Yes, the earth has been disturbed here we must be on the right path..." Crowwe stares up at the ancient ruins before him, studying the architecture curiously. The mist seems to fade some as the structure before them becomes apparent. Turchon quickly shakes his head and says "We strayed from the Evendim road... but these tracks, they are true. Who would bring a cart into these ruins?" Crowwe squats down close to the ground and examines the indents made by the cart wheel's. "I'm not sure, but they seemed to be in a hurry, these tracks are all over the place." He stands back up and draws his dagger slowly. "Shall we enter, or continue on our path?" he asks. Turchon rubs his jaw in thought as he glances over the tracks a second time "It would certainly save Mincham a trip and besides that the mist here is not bad, mayhap we could see the path ahead from atop these walls." Crowwe looks up to the archway built into the wall above them. "That is true. Yes, let us enter then." His dagger now held in a low guard in front of him, he begins to make his way into the long tunnel-like entrance, feeling a chill of cold air linger over him. Turchon takes his hand from the hilt of his dagger and draws his sword from the sheath across his back as he begins to walk alongside Crowwe "Come along..." he says as he tugs the reins of his resistant pack horse. As the rangers passed through the tunneled entrance and into the ruins of Glírost a sudden and unexpected warmth filled the air accompanied by a foul stench. Turchon stopped as they came into what appeared through the mist to be a clearing and sniffed the air "Flesh..." he said quietly as the horse behind him began to pull away it too having caught the scent of rotting corpses. Crowwe raised his dagger high, his gaze surveying the clearing they now stood in. In a hushed voice he spoke, "What happened here?" his voice suddenly cut off as he flinched slightly. "We are not alone..." he warned quietly. Turchon shakes his head in agreement "No we are not, quickly lend me your reins and I will see the horses..." Turchon is cut short by the wailing cry of a Barghest followed by howls, yelps and vicious growls that rang off the ruined walls betraying their close proximity. Crowwe squinted his eyes, attempting to peer through the thick wall of fog that surrounded the clearing. He could only just make out the dark silhouettes of the beasts that had encircled them. "I cannot tell how many there are, but I do not know if we can hold them back here, we must protect the horses..." Turchon begins to step into the tunnel as he replies "We must for they would surely catch us if we ran!" the beasts begin to come into view then just as menacing as one would expect for a creatures that live among the dead. They are not paticularly large and some look all together starved however they all move towards their new prey with eyes that betray their desperation and hunger. Crowwe moves alongside the wall slightly further back from Turchon's position and fixes Lumi's reins to a crack in the wall, ensuring it was secure before he moved back to his kinsmen's side. "We must ensure they do not get past us then, not one, or we will lose the horses." As he spoke he drew his hatchet that was sheathed along his lower back beneath his cloak and gave it a few swings, getting the feel for its weight. Turchon nods once in unspoken understanding as he too fixes his reins to a crack in the wall. Leaning forward the Ranger finds his footing and begins a closer assessment of his foes and their surroundings "They'll come at us soon..." The Barghests have grown to a dozen or so and encircled the opening of the tunnel wear the rangers stand. They growl and thrash about maddened in their hunger and it is not long before one of the smallest among them starts the charge perhaps in an effort to ensure his peace of the prize however his action is only rewarded by a swift death as Turchon's sword sweeps across and through the dreadful creature's upper body causing blood and dirt to fly as the corpse skids between the two men and behind them. Crowwe watches as Turchon repels the first of the pack of beasts' attacks, but it is not long before they all break into a fit of hunger-crazed rage and they begin to attack one by one. As a one of the larger Barghests charges at him, he watches as it leaps into the air, its jaws opened wide and its teeth gnarling at him. He swiftly side-stepped the attack and brought his hatchet down onto the beast, nearly severing its head from its neck but leaving it writhing in pain beside him. Crowwe watches as Turchon repels the first of the pack of beasts' attacks, but it is not long before they all break into a fit of hunger-crazed rage and they begin to attack one by one. As a one of the larger Barghests charges at him, he watches as it leaps into the air, its jaws opened wide and its teeth snarling at him. He swiftly side-stepped the attack and brought his hatchet down onto the beast, nearly severing its head from its neck but leaving it writhing in pain beside him. Turchon glances back towards the horses briefly to ensure none of the foul dogs had broken through the line and in doing so left his left flank open. A pair of Barghest's seized the opportunity and quickly began bounding toward him in a fit of crazed hunger. Turchon turned to face them and was able to halt their charge just in time. He slashed down and across both their forms leaving the first one gravely injured and the second dead within moments. Crowwe looks up from his now deceased enemy, his breath now heavy. Seeing that Turchon had slain two more of the beasts, he closed the gap between them, hatchet and dagger grasped tightly, blood dripping from their blades. Another barghest, spurred on by the ferocity of his companions made a charge at full force. Swiftly Crowwe raised his weapon in defence as the beast pounced, flesh meeting steel as the mongrel skewered itself, the sheer weight of the beast knocking the ranger backwards off his feet, the carcass pinning him down. The Barghests had lost five of their number but their resolve was steady. As Crowwe was knocked back the hellish hounds saw their best opportunity and all seven started in a charge towards the man. Turchon did not hesitate in grabbing Crowwe by the arm and begin attempted to pull him out from under the fallen foe atop him and back onto his feet. The horses meanwhile could no longer stand this situation and despite their training broke free from their ties and bolted out of the tunneled entrance of Glirost and into the thick fog beyond; in the process Turchon's steed trampled one of the weaker hounds in the rear of the pack heading for Crowwe. Crowwe stumbled to his feet with the aid of Turchon, wiping away the grime and blood from his last kill that covered his face. Seeing the horses run amok Crowwe sparked into action, ready for the approaching foes. Dropping his hatchet and dagger before him, he unslung his bow and quickly noosed two arrows, side-by-side. Holding the bow in a horizontal form he crouched slightly, his eyes squinted in aim. When the string was let loose, his arrows sped outwards at an angle, each hitting home as they drove through the flesh of the unlucky barghests at the head of the pack, causing them to drop and roll into the dusty earth. Turchon took a step to advance on the remaining hounds and meet their charge. "Get further up the hill he called!" to Crowwe. "I'll give you room to use your b… Ahhh!" Turchon's words were interrupted as the Barghest he had previously wounded bit deeply into his ankle just above his heel. Turchon turned swiftly to end the foe once and for all with a sweeping gash. Blood splattered all over the place as Turchon began to stumble backwards against his newly injured footing. He quickly used his sword to prop himself back up and drawing his dirk the man turned to face the rest of the pack once more. Crowwe watched as the beast attempted to feast on Turchon's ankle, but before he could aid the Dunedain, Turchon had slaughtered the dog. Four more barghests remained, Crowwe could see and they appeared to split off in two's, one pair heading further up the hill where Crowwe stood, moving to prep his next volley. Before he could notch another arrow the beasts were upon him, his blades now out of reach. He dropped to a knee and forced himself into a slide forwards, his boot catching one of the mongrels in the eye, causing the beast to whimper in pain. Now grabbing his weapons he spun around to finish of his foes, launching his hatchet into the now one-eyed barghest's flank, the force of the throw knocking it from its feet. The other barghest had already pounced at Crowwe before he could spin fast enough to slice the beast’s throat, instead only severing the snout. But it appeared the foul-creature had endured enough, fleeing back the way he came. Turchon watched as the last pair of barghests made their run towards him. In an effort to further ready himself he leaned a little into his sword which for the time being was still serving as a crutch of sorts. As the first dog came upon him Turchon held his dirk steady and instead of steel he gave the beast a swift kick towards the side of the head snapping its neck with a cringe worthy popping sound. The beast tumbled to the side its head turned nearly backwards and lifeless eyes stared at the pair as the hound’s body began to have a series of post mortem seizures. This unsettling sight was all the second of the pair needed to know and he followed its fellow with the severed snout back away from the Rangers and out of the tunnelled entrance to Glirost. Crowwe stood for a moment, blood easing out of the several small cuts that covered his face and arms. His breath began to steady as he looked around the scene before them, the earth covered in the gorey bodies they had created. Returned his dagger to its sheath and moving to reclaim his hatchet he spoke, "We must be quick if we are to find the horses, though they were truly frightened they are trained well and will not have fled far. Let us hope they have not found more danger for us." Turchon took a deep breath as he too looked at the death all about them. He glanced toward Crowwe and replied "Aye, they would not of travelled far beyond the walls I think." moving forward carefully Turchon tested his steps in an attempt to calculate the extend of the injury to his ankle. Satisfied that it would not limit his ability to walk correctly he sheathed his sword in the scabbard across his back. He took another deep breath before placing his dirk in the sheath at his waist and kneeling down to recover his spear which he gripped tightly before gesturing towards the tunnelled exit "Shall we?" Crowwe now re-armed and ready nodded towards Turchon, before moving in the direction of the exit. Turchon peered through the thick fog past the ruins of Glirost but could not see any sign of the horses. He kneeled down and began to feel about for their tracks in the earth. "You might call for Lumi if she will answer. The nag I brought rarely appeals to such requests." Crowwe agrees with Turchon before bringing two fingers to his lips and letting out a loud, high-pitched whistle which echoed of the cliffs around them. All was silent for a moment, until the sound of hooves and barking emerged from the distance. Coming from over the hill before them the rangers could see Lumi and the nag galloping towards them, with the two remaining Barghests in tow. Before words could be spoken an arrow was notched and loosed, sent into a spiralling course towards the beast with the injured snout. Only one now remained, and the horses had reached the stones before the pair. Turchon jumped up from his kneeling position and after planting his feet quickly hurled his spear into the last hound just before it came upon the horses. It whimpered lightly as it lay there impaled, Turchon approached the dying foe and pulled back his spear. He then planted it through the chest of the dog ensuring its days were ended. He wasted no time in grabbing the reins of his nag and turning to point at the earth just beyond Glirost "Crowwe..." he paused for a moment "The tracks from the wagon are gone." and then as if on que a haunting and ghostly moan sounded through the Fields of Fornost. Turchon began to shiver slightly as a sudden coldness came over him "Let’s be rid of this place." Crowwe too grabbed the reins of his steed, whispering soft words into Lumi's ear, calming her from her restless state. "Yes, I much desire to be out of this land and into Evendim, my soul weakens the more we tary in this place," he informs, now keen to look upon Lake Evendim again. Turchon agrees with Crowwe. The Rangers were able to find their way through the mists and back towards the path which they followed to the ruins of the old Evendim gate. As they passed through the border into the lands of Parth Aduial the coldness that had come upon them in the Fields of Fornost gave way to a cooler and more natural winters chill. Turchon turned in the saddle to look over to Crowwe and smile faintly, saying "The land of the lake is upon us." Crowwe glanced around before him, smiling at the awaiting prospect of clear waters and white sands of Evendim. Suddenly his thoughts turned grim again as he peered over his shoulder at the dark and lost land of their ancestors behind them. Shaking the thought from his mind he spoke, "Perhaps we should rest the horses here shortly, their spirits may be greatly shaken from that last encounter. It would be wise to inform the ranger posted here of our findings as well, as Mincham advised." Climbing from atop Lumi, he walked her over to a nearby rock, tightening the reins to a loose stone. Turchon Dismounted and led his nag over to the same stone where he tied his own reins in a similar fashion as Crowwe's. "Mae govannen brother Torogethir!" he calls to the Ranger toying with the fire inside his encampment just beyond the stone. Torogethir glanced over at the pair without much interest as he continued to turn what could not be seen as a hunk of meat on a spit. "Mae govannen brothers, I managed to snare a hare earlier and he should be done in a few minutes if you’re hungry." He stands after some time to greet the two formally "Turchon and Crowwe, it has been some time since we have seen you both here! Come and rest a while. I've supplies to share aside from the food if you’re in need of salves or some such." he shakes his head as he glances back towards the Evendim gate "Those coming from the Fields usually don't find themselves unscathed." As Turchon and Crowwe joined their brother Torogethir they gave him their report of the trouble in the fields and took a much needed rest as they prepared to continue on to Tinnudir.

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