Chapter 20: Fornost Erain
CALANDAR: Tolkein's main elven calandar is a rough variation on our own.
This calandar is the most commonly used in Western Endor. There are twelve
months and each approximates one of our months. Also, there are three intercalary
days that are not assigned to any month.
Yestarë (intercalary day: Yule)
Loëndë (intercalary day: Midyears)
Mettarë (intercalary day: Yearsend)
And on to adventure,
The 27th Day of Ivanneth. T.A. 1640
Kirahan, jaw clenched tightly, waited for the King's Guards to leave with
Ordain before he dared speak his mind. "Dogs," he grumbled beneath
his breath. "I've not known Ordain long, but he has sworn an oath with
me. I'll see justice done by him. Where is this 'Seven Stars'?"
Fred looked around a little nervously and then whisperred to the rest of
the group, "I spoke with Ordain for awhile last night, and I think
I have a little bit of an idea of what is going on. I suggest we don't talk
too openly about this here, or anywhere that unfriendly ears might hear
He looked around nervously again.
"I suggest we get to the 'Seven Stars' and talk more there. I am sure
that one of Ordain's men can show us the way. I have known Ordain as long
as anyone here, and I know that seeing justice done is more important to
him than his freedom...or his life. I think we will have to work within
the law..." he paused for a moment and then continued with an evil
little smirk "...or at least appeared to. "We need more information
about what he has supposedly done, and then maybe who is behind this. I
think we are in the middle of something pretty big, so let's wait until
we get somewhere safe before talking about it...or showing strong emotion
about it. I know, it is difficult, but we don't want to make enemies before
we know who, and what is involved."
Still keeping his voice low enough for only the party-members to hear he
continued. "I tell you all now, that I will do whatever I have to do
to see that Ordain goes free. If any of you need some cash for equipment
or horses, let me know and I'll take care of it. We are all in this together,
and Ordain is one of us." Fred's voice started to shake a bit and it
was obvious that he was having a hard time keeping his emotions under control.
After he had finished talking he ducked under the table and after taking
a moment to compose himself, he re-emerged with his pack. He then asked
one of Ordain's men which way it is to the 'Seven Stars.'
Clarissa moved herself close to Fred and asked softly, "You mentioned
you could supply us with funds for equipment? I am not sure how or where
you came about with such resources, but I am ill prepared for any adventure."
She felt somewhat embarrassed for asking, unaccustomed to such a situation.
Fred lowered his voice and whispered to Clarissa, "I picked up some
items here and there in that evil manor where we met. Before I got there,
I was no better prepared than are you. I was merely planning to explore
the land with Ordain and Ranciryon when we got involved in that...place.
But since we know we are likely to be involved in something that requires
us to have every advantage, I think we should all be prepared." Fred
looked around to make sure no one else was listening and then continued.
"Let's get to the 'Seven Stars' and find out what we will need, and
where to get good equipment and animals and I will take care of whatever
Clarissa nodded in agreement. After Fred finished speaking to the men, she
stated, "Any luck?... We are a party now, let's stay together, and
lets go find the Seven Stars"
Daern said to Fred, "Calm down Fred, we're going with you. I would
not leave Ordain unjustly imprisoned also."...Daern gathered his gear
so that he was ready to leave with Fred.
After Ordain had been taken away and Fred had talked softly to the
party, he turned to one of Ordain's men and quietly said, "Ordain said
we should go to the 'Seven Stars' in order to find some help. Can you show
us the way?"
One of the men got up and bowed to the party. He was a younger man, though
how old was hard to say as the Dunedain often seemed younger than their
years could ever suggest. He wore simple leggings but their weave was of
good quality and his cloak seemed both sturdy and well kept. As this man
spoke to the party, his dusky hazel eyes, peeking out beneath longish black
hair, regarded them in turn, capturing each's own gaze with his own.
"I am Thirghol, a squire in training to Sir Ordain. If you seek the
`Seven Stars,' it is to be found at the gate at the upper part of the city,
where Rath Aran (Kings Street) and the Rath Rammas meet. The owner is one,
Jo-nag, and he is a friend of my master's."
Fred nodded. "I thank you, Thirghol. You are very kind. If I may presume
upon you yet farther, I am not familiar with this city. Could you tell me
how to get there?"
Thirghol led the party outside the tavern. Above them towered the great
walls of the Citadel and it's attendant forts.
"Follow these walls," Thirghol said until you come to the gate
of the Citadel. There, at High Square, the open pavilion where all the sellers
from the lower city come to sell their wares, you will see the broad stones
of the Rath Aran. Travel that avenue until you come to the gates that separate
the upper and lower parts of the city. There, at the very tip of the upper
quarter, where the Rath Rammas follows the walls, you will find the Seven
Fred nodded. "Thank you my good man. Is there anyone specific we should
speak with there? Will you be accompanying us?"
"I will accompany you, if you wish," Thirghol told Fred. "And
when we get there, you should speak to Jo-nag. He is a good friend of all
who serve the Tarmas." At that point, not only Thirghol, but all of
Ordain's retainers, some twelve in number, began to gather their things
and head for the Seven Stars.
After a brief discussion with Thirghol, Fred told the party that, "We
are supposed to follow these walls to the gate of the citadel, where there
is an open pavilion. From there we take the broad stones of Rath Aran to
the gates separating the upper and lower city, where the Rath Rammas follows
the wall we will find the Seven Stars."
Fred started toward the citadel and when he was sure that they had left
the Inn and its crowds behind, he motioned for everyone to walk a little
closer as he began his tale.
"I spoke to Ordain for some time after the rest of you had gone last
night and he told me a bit about the situation around here. Marl Tarma succeeded
his father some fourteen years ago and has proved himself to be an accomplished
warrior and a popular hero in these parts. He has now been appointed as
an advisor to the King."
Fred paused for a few seconds and looked around to make sure that no one
else was walking too closely and then continued. "Apparently there
are seven great families, or houses. Of these Tarma and Eketta are the most
powerful. Obviously Marl Tarma is the leader of his own house, and he is
to marry Elaine Eketta, thus cementing an alliance between the two houses.
Apparently most of the other houses support Tarma, and the Rangers and many
fighting men do as well."
Fred stopped talking again, and looked around, then continued. "These
two houses have been calling for an invasion of Angmar to stop the raiding
that has been occuring on the borderlands. In addition, they are strongly
opposed to King Argeleb II having granted a certain piece of real estate
to Marcho and Blanco Fallohide. A piece of land that was claimed by House
Tarma, a piece of land in southern Arthedain that is now called the Shire."
Fred paused to let this sink in. After another quick look around, he started
again. "The only house that fully supports the King is House Noirin
which is the least powerful of the great families. I feel that we could
be in the process of getting mixed up in a Civil War. And I am afraid that
if the King loses out, things will not go well for Hobbits, who are not
highly regarded by the opponents of the land deal, especially House Tarma..."
He let his voice trail off. Fred did not appear to be very happy.
But after a few seconds, he shook it off and looked around once again. He
then continued. "I am afraid that because Ordain is relatively high
in Lord Tarma's camp, the King might be using this as a way to show Tarma
that he is willing to play rough. Or maybe something that some zealot in
Tarma's camp has done has somehow involved Ordain. I don't know...yet...but
I suspect that this is not about Ordain, and it will be tough to get him
Fred paused once again, and let these thoughts sink in. He looked around
again and continued. "From what I have gathered about the legal system,
there will be a trial by a jury of peers before a judge, the judge will
be either some civil servant, or a Lord, or even the King. The judge can
allow trial by combat instead. The punishment for treason is either banishment,
or occasionally death. Witnesses, evidence and character can all be used
for or against the defendant. Trial length is dependant on the complexity
of the case, and the amount of evidence, but I suspect that we will at least
have some time to plan a strategy to help him out."
Fred stopped once again to make sure that everyone was following, and that
no one else was too close. "When we get to the 'Seven Stars' I would
like to see if anyone knows what is really going on, and more about what
Ordain is accused of and how we can help. I hope we can come up with a plan
for getting the charges dropped, or Ordain freed. Then we can find a good
place to purchase whatever we need and I'll make sure we are well equipped."
They noticed that Fred's voice had been getting a little hoarse from all
of the talking...and that maybe he was getting a little choked up with emotion.
He took a drink from his canteen and walked for awhile in silence, letting
the party think about what he had said.
Fred looked around, trying to get a general feel for the populace. Dwarves,
like those he had briefly seen at the White Cockade, seemed notably absent.
But he surmised, being the great traders and travellers that they were,
Dwarves could probably be found elsewhere, perhaps in inns nearer to the
main city gates. Elves also, seemed to be absent, but they were a mysterious
and taciturn people and their visits, even to a Dunadan city, were probably
rare in these troubled times.
Looking at the sky, Fred saw dark clouds gathering, promising more rain
Thirghol whispered, "Angmar."
"Angmar?" Clarissa asked, looking up. "Surely it's just a
late summer storm. I grant you though, a big one."
One of Ordain's other retainers, a man named Dertanan, cast his piercing
green-eyes over to Clarissa. He had a rough wary look about him, like he'd
once been a soldier and had seen too much death.
"Summer storm? Perhaps, my lady, perhaps. Though this black wind blows
from the nor-east and anything from that quarter usually comes from he that
wears the Iron Crown."
Off in the distance, the storm rumbled and brief flashes could be seen as
the black clouds cast the world below it in darkness. The storm was moving
fast and would blanket Fornost in a few hours.
Pushing through the crowd buying at the orderly stalls of High Square, the
party continued onward, down the Rath Aran. Everywhere around them, tall
handsome well groomed people went about their business. Though there were
some who were probably descended from other types of men, no one could doubt
that Fornost was anything but the City of the Dunadain.
In short order, they came to the Seven Stars, named after the royal crest
of Arthedain. A placard showing the royal crest and a tankard was displayed
over the main entrance. The building was build of dark oak, with bits of
stone inlay along the walls to add a natural sort of colour to the place.
It looked more like a tavern that princes might drink in. Taurvantar thought
it odd that a mere tavernkeeper would be allowed to make such blatant use
of a royal seal, but then, perhaps the Dunedain were a more tolerant folk
than most. This assumption was soon put to rest as the party entered.
The gathered crowd, an eclectic mix of well dressed merchants and more soberly
dressed travellers wearing swords all stopped their conversations, staring
at the new comers.
Kirahan couldn't make out what in their own appearances could have drawn
so much attention, until he followed the gaze of the tavern goers. They
were not looking at them, but rather at the hobbit, Fred.
"We don't serve `halflings" here!" a young well dressed man
said, standing up before the crowd. Others stood up, as if to back up his
words. Fred had never felt that the word halfling had ever carried any onus,
until he heard it spoken in the way the young man had just said it.
Kirahan and Ranciryon both dropped their hands down to their swords, but
"We cannot afford to make enemies here," he whispered to them
both. "Remember Ordain."
Taurvantar turned to Fred. "I'm sorry, Fred. Could you?"
"Wait outside?" Fred nodded and sadly turned to leave. Clarissa
dropped a friendly hand onto his shoulder.
"I'll go with you, Fred."
Takenya nodded. "I too."
Fred shook his head. He did not want them to follow. "Stay clear of
me for now," he warned them. "We don't know what this place is
like. Taurvantar is right. Don't make any enemies you don't need to. I'll
go and check out the market place."
As Fred shuffled off outside, the party made themselves ready at a table.
Suspicious eyes looked toward them. Ordain's men seemed more welcome and
they disappeared among the assembled crowd and could be seen talking hurriedly.
Everyone sat down to order drinks. (one penny/c.p.- each) Taurvantar inquired
about Jo-nag but was told that the owner had just stepped out. The news
of Ordain's arrest travelled fast and grumbling could be heard, quite openly,
all around them. Many wondered what Marl Tarma would do at this latest slight.
Many more offered to back Tarma in whatever he did. There were complaints
that justice had become a mere word, and it was now a crime to hold any
opinion that did not match that of the King's.
Though wary eyes were cast at the party, for having entered with a hobbit,
no one bothered to lower their voice or disguise their conversation. Rather,
several comments were cast towards the party, as if some were expecting
them to rise to the defense of the King. When the party offered no rebuttals,
but merely kept to their cups, the young merchant who had accosted Fred,
approached their table.
"I have not seen you folk here, before. Tell me, are you strangers
in Arthedain or do you perhaps hail from one of the towns out in the country?"
"We are indeed strangers," Taurvantar smiled. "We come here
for rest and entertainment and of us, only Kirahan has relatives here. We've
been away for some time."
"Being as you're friends of `halflings', don't you think you'd find
more comfortable entertainment at some other establishment."
Kirahan and Ranciryon kept their hands tightly clenched on the table. Taurvantar
was grateful but he could see that it wasn't without effort.
"Tell me, sir," Daern asked. "To whom are we speaking? I
do not know you nor of any wrong I might have done you or your family. Do
we have some quarrel?"
"I am Eurel, son of Owrwn. And I apologize if we are poor seeming in
our manners. But here, you are judged by the company you keep. Remember
that and you will keep yourselves well. Gorwin!"
As the young man called out, a teenage boy appeared from behind the counter.
"Bring our friends here a drink of your best to show them that we bear
them no ill will. To your health, sirs and ladies."
The young men and those he was with raised their glasses and tankards. As
new drinks were brought out, those in the party followed Daern's lead and
reluctantly raised theirs, not desiring any confrontation.
After the young man had seated himself back down, the party fell to talking
in hushed whispers.
Kirahan started. "Well, I didn't think that appearing with Fred would
prejudice us so. These people seem to have a fond hatred of hobbits."
Clarissa added, "I think I heard one of them saying that hobbits were
flea-ridden and little better than apes. I think we should watch Fred carefully
lest he come to some harm while we are here."
"Certainly, we haven't come across in the best light at first,"
Taurvantar said. Looking around, his glance was met with suspicious glares.
"And I don't think we're going to do Ordain much good. These people
probably wouldn't take much stock in our claiming to be friends of his.
I wish I could talk to Jo-nag. Tavernkeepers are usually more talkative
given a bit of coin here and there."
Suddenly young voice could be heard crying out in the street.
At once, all folk in the tavern moved closer to the door, to see what was
Outside, Fred sat down on the steps for a bit to rest his legs, before he
headed for the market. How he longed for good company then, and a pint and
friendly banter, like he'd had at home in the Green Dragon.
Just then, a wooden ball rolled up at his feet, it's surface worn and showing
brief glimpses of the red paint that had once coated it. Taking it, Fred
looked up to see a small Dunadan girl, probably about four years of age,
looking intently at him. He smiled and she smiled in return, holding her
hand up for the ball. He rolled the ball back to her. She, in turn, rolled
it back to him.
First friendly face I've seen here, other than my companions and Ordain,
Fred thought. He rolled the ball back and soon the two of them were having
quite a game.
"What's your name?" she asked him.
"I'm Fred," he said. "And you?"
"I'm Lassandra, she told him. "How old are you? I'm four."
Fred laughed. "Not old," he said.
"I'll be going to school next year. And you?"
Fred realized that she mistook him for another child. "No, I'm all
through with school, at least I hope I am."
She approached him, not the least bit afraid or shy. Reaching into her pockets,
she pulled out a flower she had plucked, probably from someone's garden.
It was dark blue, with yellow stamens and flecks of white dappled around
its petals, looking nothing more like stars in an evening sky.
"Here, this is a present," she said, opening Fred's hand and putting
it on his palm.
Fred took the flower from the child's delicate hand. "Thank you,"
"My father's an Arequain," she told him. How about yours?"
"I didn't know my father very well," he confessed. "He died
when I was very young."
"Oh, that's sad she said," giving Fred a hug. "Is that why
you are sad?"
"Lassan! Lass! What are you doing!" a woman's voice shrieked.
Both Lassandra and Fred looked up to see a tall well dressed but somewhat
elderly woman. She reached down and yanked Lassandra away from Fred.
"Don't let me ever catch you near one of - `those'" she hissed,
not bothering to disguise her voice. "Don't you know they have lice.
And they're lecherous bastards. Even if you don't catch a disease, you could
end up with your throat slit. What were you thinking?"
Lassandra yanked her hand free. "Oh Nann! He's my friend. You're bad
to say such things!"
"Wait till I tell your father," the elderly woman said. "What
will he and your mother think? Come now, away with you."
She pulled the child away from Fred. Lassandra tried to turn and wave good-bye,
but her nanny kept a tight lock on her and always yanked her to face back
"I'm sorry about that," a tall, thin and balding man said. He
had obviously come out of the tavern. He was well dressed, though he wore
simple clothes and his the colour of his eyes nearly matched his grey hair,
what was left of it. "People have uncommon impressions around here.
Rumour has it that halflings are just a variation of goblin. They look more
human because of the souls of all the children they've eaten."
"Really?" Fred was shocked. "I would have thought that the
Dunedain were a better educated people than to believe such tripe."
"Well, we are. But there are a few among us who aren't very bright.
Unfortunately, like that woman you just heard, they tend to be the more
vociferous of the lot."
"Thank you, sir," Fred said. "I would buy you a drink, but
I don't think I'm welcome back in there," Fred said, using his thumb
to indicate the tavern on whose steps he was sitting on.
"Then let me buy you one," the man said. "Would ale be alright?"
"Ale would be most welcome," Fred said, licking his lips.
The man called to a boy named Gorwin, to bring them ales. The young lanky
teen-ager appeared and after taking a long curious look at Fred, deposited
two foamy tankards. He didn't wait for payment.
"I am Fred Underhill," Fred introduced himself. The man took Fred's
proffered hand and shook it, despite the curious glances thrown their way.
"I'm Jo-nag," he said. "I own this tavern."
Fred choked on his drink. "Well sir, I'm surprised, given the sentiments
of your guests, that you choose to drink with me here."
"Given the sentiments of my guests," Jo-nag said, "is the
reason I am drinking with you here, and not inside. But, their sentiments
are their own and not mine. I have a mind of my own, and I take care to
let others know it. I keep fine kegs and that's as good a reason for any
to visit me and I don't care for the thoughts of those who would try to
do my thinking for me. Drink up, sir." Jo-nag clinked his tankard against
Fred smiled. "I thank you sir. And it's very fine ale indeed. Among
the best I've ever tasted."
Jo-nag nodded at the compliment and sipped his own ale.
Thunder rolled across the downs in the distance. The storm seemed stalled,
some several miles beyond the city, perhaps as an upwelling of wind sometimes
keeps clouds at bay when hill rise so sharply as they did on the Weather
"Tell me, Jo-nag, do you know a man by the name of Ordain Pentacost?
I ask, because he's a friend of mine and he's in trouble."
Jo-nag's eyes widened. "Ordain is a friend of yours you say? Hmm, that
is surprising. He's a fine man, Ordain, and yes I know him. But given his
liege, I am surprised to find that any of your people would count him among
"Well, he is my friend. Do you know of what has happened to him?"
"Yes, all voices inside are abuzz with information."
"Tell me, Jo-nag, do you know why he was arrested."
Jo-nag sipped his ale some more, glancing at Fred now and then. "Well,
it is said, I don't know if you know this, that the King and his young cousin,
Marl Tarma, are at odds. As Ordain is one of Marl's chief knights, perhaps
the King seeks to assert his will and show his nobles that he is still in
charge. And there is word that Ordain was involved in plots, at Tarma's
behest, to discredit the King."
"And what of Marl Tarma? What will he do in all this?"
"Ordain is his man. He will defend his man and thus, his own honour,
against any such charge. Any charge of treason levelled at a knight is truly
meant for that knight's lord. Ordain is being charged because of the action's
of Marl Tarma and his allies. The King can not move openly against a noble
without risking civil war. So, Ordain will be tried instead. Regardless
of what Ordain may or may not have done, this is really about Marl Tarma."
"What can we do then, my friends and I? We would do anything to help
him." Fred was so keen on the subject, that he forgot to partake any
more of his fine ale.
"Anything? Well, unless you are of more means than you seem, or you
are willing to undertake more dubious measures," Jo-nag said, looking
down at Fred's worn clothing, "I doubt there's much you can do. This
affair is between the nobles and the King. Ordain is just a pawn in the
Fred nodded. "Tell me Jo-nag, do you know of a good place where I and
my companions can buy goods and animals to ride? Also, Ordain was going
to tell me of a music maker, who could craft me a fine flute. He was said
to be expensive but expertly trained. I never heard his name though."
"That would be Fenstil of Rood. He has a shop here on the Rath Aran.
You can see it over there." Jo-nag pointed to a shop not a stone's
throw away. "And yes," he said in a warning tone, "he is
very expensive. He crafts instruments for all the courts of Arthedain and
his creations are destined to be handed down as heirlooms, I've heard. As
for other goods, you can buy them on any market day at the High Square,
or down by the city gates. I would say, buy your goods here in the upper
city and your animals down in the lower. The goods here are of the best
if you can afford them, while the animals down there are more reasonably
priced. Only the best animals are brought up here to cater to rich nobles
Before Fred could thank Jo-nag, a young boy, probably only a few years into
his second decade, appeared, running up the Rath Aran, his breath winded
and hoarse as he screamed.
The party exited the tavern, only to find Fred still there, seated alongside
the tavern keeper, who had disappeared so quickly upon their entrance. People
were gathering in the street, rumours flying hard.
Jo-nag, knowing one of the King's Rangers called out to him. "Thorendal,
what is this? Are we at war?"
"The Seers of the Stone have seen an army marching upon us. Messengers
were sent yesterday! Now, news has come to the populace, as the King has
called his own army to arms. That storm you see heralds the approach of
a vast army. The Witch King brings us war!"
"When will the Witch King's army be here?" Jo-nag asked, genuinely
"That is not known," Thorendal said. "Right now, it is besieging
a small fortress in the wastelands. Rangers have come in saying that a small
band is holding out there and that the Witch King's army has paused to crush
them before advancing onward."
Horns could be heard sounding from the towers of the King's keep and banners
were raised. Seeing the banners, the crowd gave out a joyous tumult.
"TARMA! TARMA HAS COME!" The crowd began to walk briskly toward
the lower city, to be ready to greet the arrival of reinforcements. The
party, assembling themselves, accompanied them as well, walking down the
steep road to the lower city and the outer gates. Enroute, hearing what
had transpired inside the tavern, Fred reiterateed what he had learned from
"I didn't want to say everything in a public place on the way over
here, but it's better you realize what Ordain told me. I got the impression
from talking to Ordain that there is a strong faction developing that supports
Marl Tarma over King Argeleb II.
This is due to both the land deal giving the Shire to the Hobbits, and to
the King's reluctance to attack Angmar. People see Marl Tarma as a leader
and a fighter, and since 'he is already doing all the planning and fighting...why
not make him King.' Anyone from one of the seven families could probably
be King, I guess. I gather that Ordain might have been involved in this
faction, and maybe was part of a plot to overthrow the King and replace
him with Marl Tarma. Either that, or he's just being punished as a means
of reigning in Marl Tarma, or thus forcing a showdown."
"If so many are against the King," Ranciryon said, "I wonder
at the wisdom of such a confrontation. Maybe the nobles are right. Maybe
Marl would make a better king."
"Are you forgetting your history?" Taurvantar reminded him. "The
line of Kings passed unbroken, even in the guise of the Chieftain's of the
Rangers, all the way down to Aragorn II. There's no word in my dream lore
of any coup. Maybe, we're here to help stop such an event from happening."
"A tall order that would be, given the sentiments in the tavern,"
At the gates, Thirghol, who once again appeared, spotted them and used his
connections to guide them to a tower flanking the gate. There, they had
a commanding view of the approaching army, which marched toward the gate.
The crowd below them shouted - "TARMA! TARMA!" Two-thousand men,
many of them on horseback, rode in column, approaching the gate. A plumed
knight led them, riding a black horse, several other knights following.
Another banner was raised from the wall above them and the crowd resounded
again. The Ekettas had come. As the pageant of armed men filed into the
city, the party took a quick glance at Marl, who had removed his helm, and
on whose fair face and form, flowers were showered down upon him. He was
obviously well loved by the people. As the pageant continued, and the stern
looking veterans of House Eketta filed past, Lord Eketta in the lead, other
banners were hoisted, those of House Noirin and Foros. Whatever issues the
nobles had with the King, at this time of crisis, all were rallying to the
crown. Other banners of lesser houses were raised, as men from all over
the kingdom rallied to the King's call. Soon, a new city, composed of tents,
blossomed on the hills around Fornost, new tents being added with each passing
moment, while the file of knights continued to stream into the city.
"By Eru! Isn't this glorious!" Ranciryon shouted. His own hand
wandered down to his sword.
The 30th Day of Ivanneth. T.A. 1640
It had taken several days for the armies to assemble, still it was quite
a feat. A host of ten-thousand men had gathered, and would depart on the
morrow, under the command of Marl Tarma, Captain of the Rangers. As the
bustle of horses and wagons tore across the ground outside the city, the
men readied themselves for battle. Word had come that the Angmarim host,
still paused outside the wilderness fortress, was fully four times the number
of Arthedain's muster. As the elation of the assembly died down, many in
the city now realized that the brave men of the armies could easily be marching
to their doom.
It was said that the King wanted to wait, until more levys could be brought
in from the countryside, as well as Cardolani mercenaries, and allies from
Mithlond. But Marl had pressed for marching sooner, hoping to both catch
the Angmarim host ill ready in their siege, and rescue the brave unknown
men, who somehow still held out against an impossible host for these several
The party had learned that Ordain had been released, though his reprieve
was only temporary, until the crisis had passed. If he was lucky enough
to survive the battle, he was ordered to turn himself in to the King's Justice
upon returning. The party had been allowed to approach Lord Tarma's tent,
hoping to catch sight of Ordain and receive an introduction to Marl. Whether
this would happen seemed doubtful, since as army commander, Marl was rushing
all over, attempting to throw the army into a ready state to march. The
party was patiently waiting, arguing amongst themselves as to whether or
not they should join the host, when a great commotion sounded around them.
They caught sight of Marl then, and Lord Eketta as well. Another army had
arrived, but looking to the tower, they could see no banner raised. A eerie
stillness and quiet had come over the host.
Looking outward, the party was witness to the arrival of the new force.
The nobles assembled, puzzled looks on their faces as the leaders of the
Halfling levy, leading a full five-hundred hobbits, both young and old,
Fred gasped as he recognized the hobbit leaders. Their portraits were on
display at Michel Delving Museum, and now, impossibly, he was seeing the
Fathers of the Shire in person, though by his time they were dead and dust.
Marcho Fallohide raised his hand, and the hobbit levy stopped. He and his
brother, Blanco approached the nobles and bowed to Marl Tarma, the army
"We have heard the King's call, and as loyal subjects, we have come,"
Marl seemed stunned. He looked around, at the other nobles, who returned
his looks. No one said anything for some time, but finally, Lord Eketta
"You must be joking," he said, looking at the hobbits. "We
never summoned you!"
Marcho Fallohide blushed, but he held his ground before the veteran warlord.
"We do not come to your call, nor to that of the Tarmas!" he said
in a loud voice. "We answer the King's call and to the commander of
his army, we present our arms."
"Your arms?!" Eketta laughed. His laughter was taken up by the
other nobles except Marl, who gazed sternly at the hobbits. The troops around
them, started to laugh also until the hobbits were surrounded by a sea of
laughter. Looking at them, one could see why they were scoffed. They were
poorly armed, some having only large knives or pitchforks. Few had any real
weapons and some carried nothing more than slings, or bags of rocks.
Marcho raised his hands, and strangely, the laughter died, as the soldiers
wished to hear yet more words to fuel their mirth.
"It is true, my lord, that we are poorly armed. We hobbits are a poor
folk, newly come to this great land. But we are grateful to the King and
people who have given us refuge in our wanderings and have given us a home
where we had none. We have heard the call of need and we know the danger
you face. We know the odds, but as sworn subjects, we have come. We know
that our foes outnumber us greatly, but there is not a hobbit here who isn't
prepared to lay down his life if the need should come. Our arms are poor,
but our hearts are brave and we shall stand and die rather than fail our
King and our country. So, mock us and call us "halflings'! But, even
if all we have are bags of stones, then we have carried these heavy bags
through the night and morning to come here and defend YOUR homes for the
gift of ours. And though poor we are, we shall stand and show you what hobbit
courage is made of!
At the conclusion of his words, there was no more laughter. The silence
Marl Tarma at last spoke. He gauged the hobbit levy. The hobbits, each one,
stared back at him, as if wondering what he would say.
"Your people look tired," he commented to Marcho.
"They will be ready, my lord," Marcho insisted. "Isn't that
The hobbits erupted into a cheer, raising their arms as if they were broadswords.
Marl Tarma turned to his aid. "See that these - troops - are fed and
housed. And see that they are issued proper arms." He turned to Marcho.
"We leave at dawn, sir."
Marcho bowed and he led the hobbits, following Lord Tarma's aid. They passed
the party where they stood and looking down, Clarissa could see tears in
At the approach of the hobbits, the assembled soldiers made way, more respectful.
Then someone cried out and the cry was taken up.
"Hurray for the Halflings! Hurray for the Shire!" The hobbits
looked around, stunned by the shouting. Hats were tipped and bits of food
handed gratefully to the little warriors.
"Order a banner be raised for the brave levy of the Shire," Marl
Tarma was heard to order.
Eketta protested. "Marl! You must be joking!"
"They came to the King's call. They deserve that honour."
Daern saw Ordain in the crowd and called out to him. Ordain waved back and
approaching Lord Tarma, he was seen whispering to him. He then approached,
along with Marl Tarma.
"Here, my Lord, are the people I was telling you of."
"Friends, this is my liege lord, Marl Tarma, whom you last saw as a
Marl smiled, his handsome face warm and welcoming. "I have heard so
much about you all. Please, let me make your personal acquaintance."
Marl held out his hand for the fist who would shake it.
x.p. award: Clarissa - 30, Daern - 15, Fred - 355, Kirahan - 265, Taurvantar
1. You'll have to tell me what skill you wish to utilize to find out the
information requested, as you've asked some pretty specific things. Things
that are just general knowledge or that can be volunteered by Ordain's followers
that I can tell you are: a) The legal system is one based on trial by peers
before a seated judge. There is also the option of trial by combat but the
judge must give his permission for this. Usually the judge is either a civil
servant or someone of a higher station, such as a Lord or even the King
himself. b) The length of the trial depends on its complexity and how many
witnesses must be brought forth and what type of evidence is to be presented.
c) Treason is punishible by banishment (usually) or sometimes death. d)
Witnesses, evidence and character may all be brought into play.
2. This is the first appearance the party has seen of the King's Guards,
but you've hardly been in the city all that long.
3. Lot's of folks have been watching you, ever since Fred displayed the
goblet and voiced having plenty more wealth. Remind me about how you keep
an eye out and what you're looking for in your next move.
4. If an action involves just your own character, then you may do it in
a mini-move. If it involves more than just your own character, you should
include it as part of your weekly move.
5. You have two goblets (having given one away), and three plates. (All
the weight you could carry away. The rest still await you in the House of
Your other questions should be addressed as part of a mini-move, i.e., asking
a N.P.C., going out for appraisals, and maybe to commission your flute.
The population of the Fornost is unknown to you of the top of your head,
but the information probably lies somewhere.
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