Dark Curse

Middle-earth time is:
Midnight on Trewsday, Day 15 of August.
Execute the +TIMEFRAME command for year information.
Real time is: 00:23:16 MDT on Tue Mar 04 2003.

Osgiliath: The Great Bridge - Western Section
Here is the westernmost end of the once great bridge of Osgiliath, which spanned the Anduin in happier times. Once a place of wonder and splendour, with proud homes and palaces built astride the cobblestones, all that remains now are ruins dark and cold. The sound of a rat skittering by may startle you for a moment, but otherwise all is still in the air, and only the smell of decay and rot lingers.
As night has fallen upon the ruins, all now is dark and cold, and holding with it a feel of sinister watchfulness, as though a thousand eyes are focused upon you. The moonlightlight reveals little about the area, but one is able to descry east along the bridge and on into the darkness for some hundred paces. West, the sight is different, for just upon the western end of the bridge is lit dozens of flaming campfires, which signal a large force of me camped thither.

Mouth of Sauron
(arrives later)
Ralthir (arrives later)

Gondhim purses his lips, and begins to laugh. His paper work had scattered when the great eagle alit. "So much for that," says he wryly. The Captain turns to the young man. "Your name, sir."

"M-my name is Tamelhad, sir," he says, with the former enthusiasm growing once again. Still unable to keep his eyes from looking at the great eagle. "Forgive me for being forward, but I believe I missed your name as well, sir."

Tirofuin turns his gaze to Indrinam, his large pupils expanding as he focuses under the absence of the sun. "I am Tirofuin, and an eagle, lest the feathers be a guise. Do not don the title of fool so quickly, secondborn."
The great eagle's feathers will suddenly ruffle, as he puffs himself out in his own inner mirth. If the beak was capable of it, there would most certainly be a smile upon his maw. "As for you, sentinel of the Anduin." Tirofuin's head now turns to regard Gondhim, "It is wise to hold into account the nature of your brethren, for you all shed blood as His shadow grows, yet do not be so quick to dismiss betrayal, for as much as I love your kind, you of all the people of Arda have become soiled with your lust. Take care on the judgeme--" The voice will suddenly stop as the great bird's head snaps towards to the eastern edge of the bridge.
The pupils will dialate as it probes the distance for some unseen advisary. For a long moment does he hold still, a statue perched upon a statue, before suddenly a large screech flies forth from his opened beak and his wings come out to generate lift to propel him to the skies once more.

Gondhim nods to the eagle ere it departs. "Just so, my lord." To Tamelhad, he then says- "I am Gondhim Telpekhor, Tamelhad of Minas Tirith." The officer straightens in the dusken light remaining, and though his silvern mail still gleams brightly, it pales in comparison to the White Tree stitched into his tabbard.
"Do you, Tamelhad of the White City, swear fealty and service to Gondor and to the Lord and Steward of the realm? To speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or in plenty, in time of peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth until my Lord release you or death take you, or the world end? Would you so say?"

even as Tirofuin directs his gaze east across the river, a bird call goes up from the Northern ruins of Osgiliath. Indrinam's head turns sharply in that direction and then back to the eagle.
"Well met then my friend. I would stay, but you will have to excuse my rudeness for now, I am needed elsewhere."
with that and not any thing more, Indrinam turns and runs back towards the Fortification and then north.

The echo of the mighty screech scatters in the broken stones, and finally fades, but not into silence. A new sound comes in its place, quick rattling of horse hooves on the cobblers which still poke through moss along the decayed road.

As the exhiliration from the eagle's presence, and actualization of his dream, pulsing through his veins, he tries to concentrate on the Captain in front of him, "I swear in the presence of my brothers to uphold this Oath which I swear to now."

"I deem the eagle's presence auspicious to this particular host." Distracted from a moment by sounds from the east, the Telpekhiri presses on, nevertheless. "Then this do I hear, Gondhim Telpekhor, Captain of the Company of the Silver Ship of the Minas Tirith Guard, servant and represenative of the Lord Steward, Denethor. We shall not forget your Oath, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour... and oathbreaking with vengance."
Gondhim smiles brightly. "Welcome to the Host, Tamelhad."

The hooves are now closer, and the rider should appear any second now... but the night reveals nothing, save perhaps to the sharp eagle eye. If anything, the darkness seems to gather thicker at the eastern end of the bridge. It's a shapeless black shadow which blots out the faint light of the stars, and the reflections from the river, as it approaches.

Breathing sporadically for a moment, Tamelhad looks around him at those soldiers looking proudly at him. "Thank you, thank you, sir. Regret this you shall not, m'lord. Oh, thank you, thank you." As this was once a great and proud moment, it begins to become uncomfortable at his repetitive, child-like thanks. "Wow, all in one day, I saw an eagle for the first time, and joined the Host, who knows what tomarrow will bring!" His childish cliche amuses those around his, when suddenly it is broken by the sound of a potential interloper.

Mouth_of_Sauron atop Fell Horse walks towards you from the east.
Mouth_of_Sauron atop Fell Horse has arrived.

Gondhim nods to the new recruit, but a shudder seems verily to skid lockstep up the Captain's spine as he turns eastwards, and faces the bridge. He barks a curt order, and his men array winglike to his sides. The sound of drawn steel keens through the air, as the hoof beats draw closer.

High in the sky now the eagle circles, for he has not abandoned the men even in the presence of the wicked that now comes. A shrill piercing cry, not unlike the sound of mourning, strikes out in hopes to throw back the malignant blackness of the darkness that spreads.
"Fly! Fly! The enemy is upon us!" Strangely foreign does the call of Westron roll off the tongue of Tirofuin, yet it has lost none of its potency or strength even in the height that he inhabits. To add action to his words, the great eagle's wings become folded against his form, and he dives towards the blackness with the speed of a falling thunderbolt. His screeching now is taken up, and it seems to grant him even more impressive speed, as he drops in a tremendous power dive towards the approaching foe.

Gondhim hesitates a moment- perhaps it's pride. "You heard the Sky Lord, and my rank does not outstrip him." The Telpekhiri turns to the soldier closest to his right. "Gather as many of my papers as you can, sharp. Forget about my field desk and all else." The soldier nods and hastens to it. To them all, he says loudly. "Prepare to fall back. Tamelhad, fall in."

Fear begins to grip the mind of Tamelhad, unable to decide a course of action, in a moment his impulses begin to take control of his body, like some other-worldy puppetier and it's carnal toy. However, regaining whatever composure left, dashes to the side of his new commander. Taking a step just behind him, mostly in fear, with the guise of support for Gondhim.

The black shadow condenses into a form of a rider atop a great horse. The horse is black as night itself, but the rider is even darker. He approaches, as a void cut out of the fabric of night, a void where any light perishes. Suddenly, the dark form breaks in two. Or so it seems for a moment: the raider have unsheathed a sword, and the long narrow blade gleams coldly with unholy inner fire. It shines with pale white light, like a shard of ice.

The terrible hoofbeats echo off the broken walls of the ruined city. Wait ... this is no echo, but another set of thunderous hooves approaching from the East. Black robes fall down around the mounted figure as he rushes past the rubble of Osgiliath. His steed breathing short bursts of fire from it's char black nostrils. The frightening figure approaches at an alarmingly fast speed. No sign can be made of what make this rider is, yet it's appearance gives it the frightening visage of a Ring Wraith; One of the Nine.

Not long after the appearance of the second fell creature, does a rumbling voice fill the bridge with it's horrid voice. Words, black as the skies of Mordor, fall on the men of Gondor. " Beware! The Eye watches this place! Fall, men of Gondor, before the voice of thy god!" A sadistic laugh follows, cut short, by a westron tongue, just as fearsome as the last, ''Bow, now. For thy death has arrived. Come before the might of Sauron the Great, and have thy will be judged!'' The rider stops, still behind the shadow of the Nazgul, Gothmog, the Dark Lieutenant pauses. Still now, like a statue amongst the rubble here.

It settles like a fetid waft of exposed sea shore, both cold and warm, but entirely unwelcome. Not one of the soldiers present remain unaffected by the shadow's lengthening, least of all their commander. Gondhim grits his teeth, yet his eyes he cannot shake from shadow, or the form that coallesces from it. "Fall back. NOW." The Captain draws his greatsword once more, perhaps meaning to cover their retreat. But striken are the men. They stand firm, but it is born of fear. Gondhim barks to shake them, his voice dire. "Move, fools! To the west!" The Gondorian officer then places his swordpoint to the earth, standing as resolute as he may.

Ralthir walks towards you from the east.
Ralthir has arrived.

At the last moment does the great wings of the Messanger of Manwe thrust outward, collecting unto it's embrace the wind that he has mastered, slowing his descent considerably to thrash out with talons as long as swords on the side of the Nazgul's mount. Yet at the presence of yet another evil, an evil that was unlooked for under the growing threat of a member of the Nine, the Veteran of Ered Nimrais falters when his speed should have been harnessed.

Taking another step back, this one having no facade whatsoever of boldness, Tamelhad looks back at his Gordorian brothers, then forward at the enemy. "Wha-what are they?" he says in a low, almost unintelligible voice. The presence of evil so thick it seems to seep through into their thoughts.

The black rider raises in the stirrups, and looks up... the head under the hood tilts back, and cold dark abyss stares up at the eagle, where the face should have been. Suddenly, a shriek cuts through the night. A terrible voice of an ancient evil, it is felt more than heard, searing the ear and numbing the mind. The hand in a black glove raises the cold sword in the air, and pale light sparkles on its point as it is aimed toward the great eagle.
Gothmog looks to the sky and lets loose a long and shrill scream.
A shrill and high-pitched wail, full of despair and evil, echoes over the area.

The Mouth of Sauron settle atop his mount, his eyes falling on the form of the Nazgul, " Music to mine ears, Gothmog! Let no winged beast ride these winds!" His voice is as fell as his image. Nudging his fell horse a few steps forward, he yells to the men of Gondor, ''Bring thy wretched souls before me! Praise the Eye and be spared!'' His laughter rains long afterward, cutting through the thick air.

It pierces the air like a fell blade, cutting deep those in whose veins beat the blood of Gondor. Some cover their ears, while others visibly wobble- the Captain winces in pain and bends perceptably beneath the weight of that shriek, the branch of the tree from which he descends gives a little of its silvern strength. Enough to turn, and swing his greatsword through the air at his men. "I said run!" And lo, so they do. The Telpekhiri turns, his eyes white and wide, but he jutts his head stubbornly and to he whom spoke, does he give answer. "Gondor bows to none unworthy, vile liar!"

There does Tirofuin hover, his great wings keeping him in place with tremendous flaps, right before the great wraith atop his mount. He seems poised, ready to strike, yet warded by the ever icy steel that Gothmog holds in his hands, as well as the confusing chill that was given forth by the great wail of the wraith.
"These lands belong not unto Him, Slave of the Dark Lord. These Men are under the protection of a Messanger of the Lords of the West! Fall under the loathsome weight of my ire!" The great eyes of the eagle half-close, and his wings are thrusted forth on eitherside of Gothmog, in attempt to bring down all current of air with the eagle's mighty wings in hopes to throw the Nazgul from his horse.
Begins to charge forward, "Lo! I know not who you are, but return to your vile Master, scum." Some of the soldiers, begin to reach forward to pull Tamelhad back as he foolishly, and uncharacteristically yells. "By the Valar, release me!" He begins to fight, as they overpower him, and silence him.

Seemingly roused from his hiding place by the shrill scream of the Nazgul, a shadow stirs in the dim. The enormous, broad form of the Gondorian fugitive, Ralthir breaks free of his bonds of shadow as the Nazgul illuminates the area with the flame. A subtle metallic wail of his bastard sword hangs in the air as his blade relinquishes its silver lined baldric for the cold night air. His gaunt features seem if possible more so in the dim, barren of any elation as he strides forward, his black hair flowing behind him as he clasps his gleaming blade before him. His blue-veined grey eyes shimmer with anger, it appears he is not a virgin in combat with the scourge of the Free Peoples. As he exhales, wet-bracken clouds the cold air before his face. Yet, so far he has not made some much as a sound.
Glancing skyward, pausing to study Tirofuin. His voice rises in volume, in proportion to the slight grin on his face, "On the wings of the Eagles shall our hope reside! By the Valar!"

Darkness swirls around Gothmog as the great wings buffet him. Black mantle flaps on the wind, and it seems that shadows rip away from its hem and fly into the night. The black horse neigns, and, like a black waterfall, darkness comes cascading down from the saddle onto the ground. and yet, at the same time, a brand of cold ice draws a gleaming arc through the shadows roiling between the eagle's wings. When the darkness regains shape again, the black rider is standing on the ground, with his sword raised above his head.

The Mouth of Sauron turns his atention towards the winged beast, his cold eyes locked on Manwes creature, "Know thy place, winged rodent! The skies of these lands will darken, as thy time draws near! Fall too, within the Eye's will and be graced without his wrath!" The dark lieutenant reaches below his shimmering cloak, and produces a wicked mace. The evil weapon bursts into a green flame as it is lifted to the front of the Messenger of Sauron.
The Lieutenant of the dark tower of Barad-dur turns his malice now to the Men, "Whom shall Gondor bow to when thy walls are broken and thy villages burnt? Thy will broken and thy women fouled. Then, will the pride of lies and deceit break and the truth of power be seen?" The Messenger nudges his mount ever closer, "Why wait, when thou may join the forces of Sauron the Great! Be the future rulers of these lands! Or fall to the heave hand of my Lords power."

Either the soldiers find their wits, or their fear finally surmounts and sets them to fleeing. Yet Gondhim answers, if not in deed. "Never. Never shall Gondor bow, nor will her walls fall to such as you or your ilk, foulest of the foul! Mark my words, fell agent!" With that, the Telpekhiri begins to walk backwards with his greatsword and himself as ward to his retreating men.

Tamelhad stares on in horror at the agents of the Dark Lord. The darkeness of the night in synergy with the darkness of the hearts of the mockery of Eru'

The icy chill of the Nazgul's blade finds root along the upper leftwing of Tirofuin, and it is there that it cleaves feathers and sends them dancing to the ground. The blow is met with a shrill cry, a cry of loss and pain, and a cry that is in direct opposition of the wail of that the wraith is known for.
The flapping of the great wings increases, providing lift for the servant of Manwe to fly higher in the sky. The blinding emerald glow of Sauron's Lieutenant, and the icy bite of the Nazgul's steel does quick to render the power of Manwe's lesser-servant into naught. Another clarion call of warning will be sent to the heavens as Tirofuin's spirals upward, attempting to catch the thermal currents that reside upon both sides of the Anduin, which will bare him to safety in the lands to the north.
So it is that Tirofuin passes, wounded, his ability of flight is hindered yet not crippled. He has served his purpose to provide time for the Secondborn of Iluvatar to flee, their destiny no longer resides in the sharpness of his talons.

Tamelhad stares on in horror at the agents of the Dark Lord. The darkeness of the night in synergy with the darkness of the hearts of the mockery of Eru's creation. Upon seeing the retreat of his master, Tamelhad begins to rush away from Gondor's enemy.

With a soft laugh, the Mouth calls out, "Thy pride will bring death to thy peoples! Thou have been warned!" Then, with a flash of fire and cloak, the mortal tool of Sauron turns and takes flight to the East. The hoof beats slowly fading into nothingness.

With the retreat of the Great Eagle, the Telpekhiri sees to his own and that of his men. With a vise grip around Tamelhad's arm, he leads the new recruit back to the more western fortifications of once proud Osgilliath.

A shapeless cloud of darkness raises to the sky, after the soaring eagle, but the wind and wing carry it higher and higher, into the starry sky. Another cry, filled with malice and evil, raises above the ruins, and, when it fades, the rider is saddled once again.

As the Mouth of Sauron rides past, Ralthir falters and dives to the cobbled ground, his bastard sword clanging on the ground. He rises to his feet, and turns to the Nazgul. His eyes linger on the Vagabond of Imlad Morgul as he seems to gather his wits, and his sword consequently, up into a guard before him as he gazes to the saddled rider.

With a quick jerk on the reigns, Gothmog sends his horse trotting ahead. The enormous shadow of the black stallion falls on the man standing alone and weaponless in the middle of the road. From the black void comes cold rasping voice, "Ready to join the hosts of Mordor, mortal?"

Ralthir shudders involuntarily, his entire being wracked with the sudden spasm. His eyes lock onto the vast emptiness beneath the hood of the Warmaster of Minas Morgul, his features pale. He appears to be adhered to the spot, unable to move of his own accord. He searches for words, but only manages to mumble, "Nnhh.. Nnh.. Nhh.."

Smokey clouds from the east fill the sky, blotting out the sun, and leaving the day in a dark gloom.

Another tug on the reigns halts the black stallion. The man stands in the shadow of the black rider, and the darkness seems to grow thicker around them, not yielding to the light of the raising sun. The merciless voice continues, evenly, coldly, "Perhaps you will serve my master best if you remain with your people. To remind them of their fate." Gothmog leans forward in the saddle, and a chilling bone-piercing wave of cold darkness falls crashing onto the man in front of him.
The voice, now remote and low, almost whispering, speaks in a tongue you cannot understand, it calls out what sounds like a chant or a spell. Finally, the words come through to the man of Gondor, pouring into his mind like molten lead, "They will see what you have become even if you will not. Thus you shall serve me".

Within Ralthir's head, a single bell chimes. He crumples backward, his skin visibly changing to a pasty white as he falls. Dark circles appear beneath his eyes, which he still clenches shut tightly. He is wracked with spasms once more, and his head comes to rest on his chest, appearing sound asleep. He shudders periodically, his breathing shallow in his comatose state.

Obeying a shrill call from its rider, the horse takes into gallop, its heavy hooves barely miss the crumpled shape of the man fallen on the road. The horse rides east, toward the lands of Mordor. Soon the terrible rider is gone from sight, leaving behind only fading creeping sense of despair.