sábado, 26 de abril de 2008
The Hope of the North: Dwarves 10
Oi had only walked a few hurried paces down the corridor towards the Writing Halls when the desire to keep reading the book started to come back. As he walked he noticed that no-one was crossing his path, so he stopped, put his hand to his pocket, and after only the briefest instant of indecision, he took the book out and carried on reading as he walked.
"Tharkun had no idea as to how to proceed, but his recent tricks had alerted the orcs to some sort of mischief among them, so greater care was in order. He headed down the tunnel, passing by another opening leading to his right, and after several hundred feet, he came to a wide fork. As he pondered which route to take, he heard another group coming closer, from the right-hand tunnel. He retreated, waited, and was lucky: the new group of orcs continued on down the left hand tunnel, rather than turn into the one he was hiding in, so he quickly started to follow his new unwitting guides heading towards their warren. Tharkun did not know this at the time, but the maze of tunnels where he found this group was called The Web, and had he not found this new band to follow, he could very well have become lost. After some time amidst the maze of tunnels, the passage the orcs took smelled unbearably foul, so he deemed the time had come to let his guides go their own way. He saw more torchlight down the other passage, so he followed it and found himself in a familiar setting: two uruks standing guard behind a heavy iron portcullis.
Meanwhile, the Necromancer stirred in his sulfur-laden sanctuary, deep on the Fifth Stratum. Something had disturbed his contemplation. He turned his attention to his vast citadel and with sudden alarm he sensed a power that recalled images from aeons past, from a time when he had dwelt in Aman as one of Aulë’s people. Now, while he could not identify with certainty the source of his misgivings, he sensed the hand of the Valar. He was far from ready to reveal himself, and all of his evil designs hung in a delicate balance. So, taking every precaution, he sent orders to his personal guard to make ready for departure. While uncertain that he must leave his sanctuary, he refused to be caught unprepared.
Now Tharkun heard a great alarm sound throughout the Web: strange drums and shrill horns echoed along the tunnels and the sounds of charging orcs filled the fetid air. The alarm aroused the uruk guards, who snapped into readiness as troops raced toward the Entry Fortress from both directions. Orcs spilled down the tunnel behind Tharkun. Ten of the uruk-hai leaped from a nearby guard-room on the Seventh Level and rushed beyond the portcullis. Left with no choice but to unleash his power, he erected a wall of enchanted fire and blocked the passage to the Web. He then sent a firebolt toward the two guards that stood behind the gate. The uruk-hai perished in the wizard’s flame, while the orc-warriors mingled in panic before the firewall.
Bellows sounded from the arrow-slits until Tharkun cast another pair of firebolts searing down each of the adjoining passages. The way clear of archers, he raced down the tunnel toward the portcullis. As he hurried past, a shout went up within the small fortress, one simple word: ‘Now!’
Although Tharkun did not know what was about to befall, he feared the worst, and without hesitating, he lunged toward the portcullis, sprawling across the passage floor as a huge trapdoor snapped open beneath his outstretched legs. He clung to the stone as his legs dangled over the side of the pit, and then, with fierce determination, he swung the lower half of his body up onto the floor. He rose to his feet just before two thin fiery columns of oil rained down in and around the pit, narrowly missing his worn grey robes.
He staggered toward the portcullis and prepared to lift the gate. The small troop of orcs beyond the iron grate glared and cursed at their adversary, but with a word of command from Tharkun, the portcullis rose into the ceiling and the orcs fled. Before he could follow his foes, an arrow flew from the wall and grazed his shoulder, sending him reeling to his knees. Though the wound was slight, he could feel the sting of poison and knew he had no time to spare. Getting to his feet, he ran down the passage toward the Central Keep of Dol Guldur.
As he dashed from the Entry Fortress, he heard a deep grating sound. He looked up in time to see portions of the ceiling shift. The stones began sliding downward. Knowing he would be crushed or else sealed off from his goal, he unleashed a great surge of magical force from the end of his great staff. The blast strained his might to the limit, but it held the great blocks aloft just long enough for him to slip away from the quivering mass of stone. Once released, the huge boulders fell with a booming crash. Tharkun was now trapped inside the stronghold of Dol Guldur.
With Tharkun’s unusual show of might, the Necromancer realised that one of his greatest enemies had indeed entered his stronghold, and far sooner than he had anticipated. All of his age-old plots and designs suddenly seemed in peril if by some chance this intruder with great power should learn the truth about him. Though he longed to confront this sneak that dared to enter his domain, no-one was worthy of such monumental risk. He cursed himself for having none of the Nazgul at his side to act in his stead, and saw no choice but to retreat before it was too late. With excruciating reluctance, he began his departure, instructing those left in command to disperse most of the remaining garrison throughout Rhovanion in the following years. Through his retreat he hoped to fool the intruder and his allies into believing they had won temporary victory, and maybe leave Dol Guldur alone before learning too much. Besides, he remained hopeful that his minions would capture this bold enemy before he could escape.
So, as Tharkun kneeled in the dark tunnel tending his wound, a deep and dreadful tone echoed throughout the keep, alerting the entire garrison. The echoes of hundreds of orcs moving and their leaders shouting orders reverberated down the corridors. He was forced to go on along the corridors before him, all alight with torches."
Oi had arrived to the Writing Halls now, very relieved that no-one had seen him with the book, but still wishing he had nothing else to do but carry on reading. Tharkun, Dol Guldur, the Necromancer... He thought this was all well known in Erebor, but he hadn’t read such a detailed narration before. Of course, he knew the ending – Tharkun makes it out of Dol Guldur alive and well, but still the thirst to know more was enthralling. Anyway, he resolutely snapped the book closed, put it away and entered the Hall.