BLOOD ON THE SNOW
Morning to night, November 7, 3019
Knowing that their chances of rescuing Ceolwulf would be greatly lessened along the open countryside on the road to Osgiliath, Vardamir and Aldir decide to travel the twenty miles to Osgiliath and make their attempts there near the cover of the ruins. Traveling throughout the night of November 6 on horseback, Vardamir and Aldir reach the ruins around 3 o'clock in the morning of November 7.
After a sparce meal of bread, wine and snow water, Vardamir takes the first watch in an old abandoned watch tower near the road while Aldir wraps himself in his cloak and two blankets to ward against the chill of the cold winter night. Aldir puts his hand into the interior pocket of his cloak and feels a soft bit of cloth. He pulls it out of the pocket and holds it in his right hand. He brings it up to his nostrils and smells the sweet fragrance of his wife. "Lilandra!" he thinks. "You have given me a token of your love to carry with me." He kisses her hankerchief and then tucks it back into his pocket, and with a smile upon his lips, he soon falls into an exhausted slumber.
The night passes as Aldir sleeps and Vardamir keeps watch in the tower. Vardamir decides to brace himself against the cold and stamps his feet to keep warm and let Aldir sleep longer. When the late dawn of Osgiliath begins to lighten the sky, Vardamir decides to end his watch and go back and awaken Aldir.
Aldir stirs in his sleep, his body aching
all over from the cold of the ground and the long ride. "You
let me sleep too late!" he tells Vardamir.
Vardamir replies, "Good morning! I thought that a man of your constition would need it."
"My constitution is it?" says Aldir as he rises to his feet and stretches his arms and shoulders. Then he casts a sideways glance at Vardamir, and rushes him, grabbing him by the back of the neck. He pushes him down into the snow and rubs his face into it.
"Ahhhh!!" Vardamir cries as he finds himself faceforward in the snow with Aldir's hands upon his head. "This is some way to greet a friend who wishes you good morning!"
Aldir lets him loose. "Good morning, Vardamir. Now lead me back to your watch post and speak no more of my constitution!"
"It is light enough now that you can follow my tracks," Vardamir says.
"Besides, I have more important matters to tend to than you. The horses need care."
"So be it," says Aldir. "A blind man could follow your stumbling footsteps through the snow." Then he turns and seeing Vardamir's back to him, Aldir bends back, grabbing several handfulls of snow and packing them tightly together.
His snowball catches Vardamir squarely in the back of the head and Aldir runs laughing towards the stone tower, quickly evading most of the icy missiles thrown at his back by a laughing Vardamir.
Climbing to the top of the tower, Aldir can see he has a vantage point in all directions, up and down the road and all around the surrounding countryside. Nothing travels along the road this morning. He takes out Lilandra's hankerchief and looks at it in the light, seeing a lock of her hair. He kisses it and then wraps it back securely in the hankerchief and puts it back in his pocket.
The horses have pawed through the snow
to get to all the nearby grass they can reach, and Vardamir leads
them out one by one to untouched areas where they can paw through
the snow and crop the autumn dried grasses they can find there.
After each horse has grazed, he leads it to the nearby stream,
letting each one drink and then leading the animal back to the
picket line. He talks to each horse as he ties it, spending a
long time with his own horse, a huge black stallion, which he
knows is one of the Mordorian steeds. He whispers to the horse,
"Tego ven i Melain am mand."
The horse turns his head towards him, its eyes flashing fiery sparks as one of its front hooves begin to paw the ground.
Vardamir laughs and strokes its neck. "Melon, ceno." Then, patting the horse's neck gently, he walks away from him, laughing merrily as the horse snorts, its breath steaming in the cold morning.
Ceolwulf and Orc guards portrayed by Hobbitness
Pizurk Dagronk, Pizurk Zongot and Vardamir portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator, Pizgal Burzash and Aldir portrayed by Wraith
Narrator: *By eight o'clock in the morning,
Ceolwulf and his ten orc guards have marched three miles east
on the road to Osgiliath.*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's mind is in a haze; he feels as though he is moving through thick clay. The farther they have traveled from the city, the more his pain and exhaustion have grown*
Ceolwulf: *Frodo's voice has grown fainter and fainter in his mind, and he has ceased to aid Ceolwulf, for they are too far apart now*
Ceolwulf: *The last thing he heard Frodo say was the prayer that Ceolwulf had said for Frodo on the night in Nurn when the halfling had almost died*
Ceolwulf: *"To the Lady of the Stars, I entrust his care! May the Valar protect him in the dark landMay Manwe, lord of the winds blow freshly upon his face...May Manwe, lord of the winds blow freshly upon his face and may Ulmo send the curing powers of the sea water to heal him. O Valar listen to my prayer!" and then Frodo's voice had faded away*
Ceolwulf: *Now Ceolwulf is completely, devastatingly alone, prodded along by the orcs, feeling that he will fall with every step, freezing and exhausted*
Pizgal Burzash: *Commanding the group of ten orcs is the Corporal, Pizgal Burzash, who holds a plated leather flail of three strands*
Ceolwulf: What an honor it is to be guarded by such...amazing specimens of....orcs as yourselves *he rasps, dripping with sarcasm*
Pizgal Burzash: *He walks back to Ceolwulf, who is marched in the middle of the party of eleven*
Pizgal Burzash: Garn! Your mouth keeps your legs from moving fast enough, maggot! *he takes the flail and lashes at Ceolwulf's ankles* Prod im along, lads!
Pizurk Dagronk: Akhoth! *the orc pokes Ceolwulf in the back with the spear*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf cries out, then fury flashes in his eyes. He staggers forward*
Pizgal Burzash: Step lively now, you scum! You're 'olding us up! *He flicks the flail along Ceolwulf's ankles again*
Ceolwulf: *bites back another cry* Terribly sorry...terribly *he pants, wanting to kill them all*
Pizurk Dagronk: *he kicks him in the back of the ankle with a heavy metal plated boot*
Ceolwulf: *cries out again, more out of anger than pain this time. He stumbles forward a few steps, almost falling*
Pizgal Burzash: Urk! Lads, we're not makin good time! Double time! Double time! Make im run! Make im run!
Pizurk Dagronk: *the orc prods Ceolwulf again with the spear* Urry up, snaga! We ain't got all day, you know!
Ceolwulf: *groaning, he staggers to his feet and tries to run*
Pizgal Burzash: *Pizgal Burzash runs along beside Ceolwulf, ready to urge him to a faster pace with the flail* Wot's wrong, Straw'ead? Yer fat gut 'oldin' you up? hahaha!
Ceolwulf: *at least it will keep him from freezing to death. The wind whistles through his tattered garments, and the rags on his feet have almost come off*
Pizurk Dagronk: *he roars with laughter and pokes Ceolwulf again*
Ceolwulf: *A low, animal growl comes from deep in his throat...he quickens his pace*
Pizgal Burzash: Lads, see what the scum is made of? Nothin' but straw! Look at 'im!
Ceolwulf: *His legs and arms are trembling with exertion but he forces himself to keep going*
Pizurk Dagronk: Aye! Thot's why they call 'em straw'eads! *he laughs*
Ceolwulf: How perceptive you are.. I am in awe
Pizgal Burzash: Shut yer mouth, you filth! Or you'll find a lash across your dirty lips!
Pizurk Dagronk: Aye! The Pizgal will whip yer lips right off, straw'ead!
Ceolwulf: *grits his teeth and tries to keep running through the snow*
Pizgal Burzash: Faster! Faster, straw'ead! *he cries as he wisks the flail across the backs of Ceolwulf's ankles*
Ceolwulf: *At least the cold numbs me somewhat and lessens the pain...but not when he does that* ah! *Bema, how I would like to rip his head off*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf's weakened condition is no match for the powerful orcs and Ceolwulf begins to stagger*
Ceolwulf: *I can't do this...I will die before we reach...wherever we are going, he thinks. His legs give out from under him, and he finds himself lying face down in the snow, shivering*
Ceolwulf: *Like a wounded animal he is almost crazed with pain and exhaustion*
Pizgal Burzash: Look at the weakling, lads!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's hands are bound behind his back, so he cannot get up on his own...he would make no effort to get up now, except that the rope around his neck chokes him*
Ceolwulf: *A guard is holding it a few feet away, pulling it taut and laughing at Ceolwulf's torment*
Pizurk Dagronk: *the orc looks down at Ceolwulf's prone form. He walks over to him and kicks him* Get up, maggot!
Ceolwulf: *moans, his breath coming in rasping wheezes*
Pizgal Burzash: Draught! Draught! Pizurk Dagronk, give 'im draught!
Ceolwulf: *He barely understands their words*
Ceolwulf: *As though the snow were a bed, he closes his eyes and goes limp for this brief moment of rest*
Pizurk Dagronk: Akhoth! *he takes a flask of draught from his belt. bending down, he roughly pulls Ceolwulf to a sitting position, yanking his head back and shoving the mouth of the flask between his lips*
Pizurk Dagronk: *He tilts the flask up, so that the hot, unwholesome tasting liquid pours down Ceolwulfs throat*
Ceolwulf: *coughs and grimaces, but swallows the liquid for he is very thirsty*
Pizgal Burzash: Alright, lads! Take a brief swill before we all move on. At ease!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he pulls the flask of orc draught away from Ceolwulf and drinks from it himself*
Ceolwulf: Thank you kindly. I'm impressed by your courtesy *he feels a little warmer and stronger...but then the leader orders a break and Ceolwulf collapses back on the snow*
Ceolwulf: *Oh Valar, if only I could fall asleep now and not wake up...*
Pizgal Burzash: *he reaches a hand into his tunic and pulls out his own flask of draught, holds it up and drinks from it hungerily. Then with the other hand, he rubs the leather armor on his chest back and forth with his hand, trying to scratch some insect that seems to have made a home there. Then he bends over and belches loudly*
Pizurk Dagronk: *he slaps his thigh and laughs* Thot's a good un, Pizgal!
Pizgal Burzash: *he rubs his armor again across his chest and then moves his hand down to his stomach, chasing the insect that scurries to escape the crushing leather*
Ceolwulf: *"Frodo? Frodo?" Ceolwulf calls mentally, but the answer is either too faint to hear, or has not come at all*
Pizgal Burzash: *He looks around to the other orcs and glares* You got em too, same as me! You scum!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he reaches up a hand to a spot behind his ear, and capturing something between his fingertips, he takes his hand to his mouth and plops the nit in* They taste good too, sir!
Pizgal Burzash: Alright, enough of that, snaga!
Pizgal Burzash: Here, you, Pizurk Dagronk, you know so much. You take the straw'ead's rope and give 'im yer tender care! See if you can run 'im ahead of all ten of us. Drag 'im if you 'ave to
Ceolwulf: *frowns and groans at the thought of going on, and at the thought of even more brutality from his captors*
Pizurk Dagronk: *He looks down at Ceolwulf* Akhoth, Pizgal, I'll make the paleskin run!
Pizgal Burzash: I'll come behind, Pizurk and give im a taste of the lash to make is feet run faster
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf opens bleary eyes to glare at them both*
Pizgal Burzash: Forward!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he takes the rope attached to Ceolwulf's neck and gives it a good yank* On yer feet, maggot!
Pizgal Burzash: You other scum fall in behind us!
Ceolwulf: *The pull did nothing but hurt his neck, for his hands are bound and he cannot get up*
Ceolwulf: *He feels blazing anger as never before when he is forced to admit to the hated orcs*....I can't
Pizgal Burzash: Then carry im, Pizurk Dagronk!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he groans, but walks to Ceolwulf's side anyway. He grabs Ceolwulf's arm and roughly hauls him to his feet. He looks to another orc* I need 'elp with the strawead!
Ceolwulf: *Oh thank the Valar! It will be a terrible indignity, yes, but he is past caring and feels only relief*
Pizurk Dagronk: *The other orc walks over to Ceolwulf and picks him up and slings his bound arms over Pizurk Dagronk's head. Dagronk adjusts the prisoner hanging behind him and then begins to move*
Pizgal Burzash: Forward! Double time!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he begins to march with the rest, the pace jostling Ceolwulf up and down*
Ceolwulf: *The jostling hurts but not as much as the spears and whips*
Pizgal Burzash: *At the head of the column are Pizgal Burzash and Pizurk Dagronk with Ceolwulf slung over his shoulder*
Ceolwulf: *He says nothing this time, only tries to detach himself from the whole process*
Pizgal Burzash: *They keep up this pace for another mile*
Pizgal Burzash: Pizurk Dagronk, 'es's a fat one, ain't 'e?
Pizurk Dagronk: Akh! E'd be tasty in the pot, but on the trail, e's a backbreaker for sure!
Ceolwulf: *shudders as he remembers the song Frodo sang about being eaten by trolls*
Pizgal Burzash: *He leans over towards Ceolwulf and presses his meaty hand on Ceolwulf's back* Where does it urt, straw'ead? Ere?
Ceolwulf: *a low strained growl as he tries to surpress a cry that finally bursts forth*
Pizgal Burzash: *He moves his hand to another spot on Ceolwulf's back, never breaking his stride* Or does it 'urt 'ere? Or 'ere?
Ceolwulf: Yes, o intelligent...one!...I...ah! marvel at your....again...
Pizgal Burzash: Shut yer trap, Strawead! *he moves his hand from his back and slaps him backhanded across the side of his head*
Ceolwulf: *bites his lip, panting with rage, but says nothing*
Pizurk Dagronk: *the force of the impact upon Ceolwulf's jaw causes him to shift upon the orc's back. Reaching his hands up to Ceolwulf's arms and digging his claws into the Rohir's flesh, he readjusts Ceolwulf's position on his back*
Pizgal Burzash: Faster! Faster! We must reach Osgiliath by dark!
Ceolwulf: *Though it is bitter cold, Ceolwulf has started to tremble again, and beads of sweat form on his forehead*
Narrator: *Throughout the morning, the guards keep up their rapid pace. By noon, they have covered ten miles and the Pizgal calls* Halt!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he slows his pace and then stops* Sir, can I put the paleskin down now? *he moans* E's breakin me back!
Pizgal Burzash: Aye, put im down and give him draught, and then another lad can relieve you for the rest of the way
Pizurk Dagronk: *he reaches his hands up to Ceolwulf's arms and lifts them over his head, dropping Ceolwulf in a heap behind him*
Pizgal Burzash: At ease, lads! Drink your fill to keep you warm!
Pizurk Dagronk: *he bends down beside Ceolwulf and pulls him into a sitting position. Once again, he forces orc draught down his throat*
Pizgal Burzash: *He moves aside from the others and takes his own flask, takes out the stopper and drinks rapidly. Then a scowl crosses his face. The insect seems to have company in a race across his stomach and chest*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf finds himself becoming actually grateful for the orc draught*
Pizgal Burzash: *With his hand, he moves the leather armor across the itching spots across his chest and stomach, trying to find a target to crush*
Pizgal Burzash: *He looks towards Ceolwulf* We want to keep you alive, straw'ead, alive at least until you get where you're goin
Ceolwulf: That could be a hard task *he wheezes*
Ceolwulf: *I might try to kill you all and then you'd have to kill me....he thinks about this, wishing it were possible to kill them all and escape back to Baggins Hall...or Rohan*
Pizgal Burzash: Pizurk Dagronk, you are dismissed from the duty of tending the prisoner. *he looks to another orc* Pizurk Zongot, you relieve him the rest of the way
Ceolwulf: *Despair descends upon him as he realizes that the harsh reality he endures now is to be the rest of his life. At least it will be a short one...*
Pizurk Zongot: Akhoth *says Pizurk Zongot, who walks over to Ceolwulf as Dagronk walks away, drinking from his flask*
Ceolwulf: *But what if they keep him alive for a long time in the mines? What if they have ways to do that? Perhaps it would be better if they worked him to death on this march...*
Pizgal Burzash: Lads, tell the prisoner where 'e's going! Make im appy with the news!
Pizurk Zongot: *he leans over and speaks near Ceolwulf's face* Yer goin to Lugburz, snaga... to the mines, you is!
Pizgal Burzash: Where they'll work the fat off im, I daresay!
Ceolwulf: *His quiet despair allows him to keep his reaction hidden, not giving them the satisfaction*
Pizurk Zongot: Aye, there won't be nothin left of im, after e's been in the mines a while! *he straightens himself back up and laughs, slapping his thigh*
Ceolwulf: I daresay you're right. *he says quietly*
Pizurk Zongot: Aye, and e won't even be good for the pot, all e'll be good fer is a bone to chew on!
Ceolwulf: *Why did they not kill me outright? I won't be any good to them like this.*
Ceolwulf: *They almost kill me, then they send me half dead to work? It makes no sense. Why not just kill me, end it?*
Pizgal Burzash: All right, you maggots, you've been at your ease long enough! Time to get up, back on the march!
Pizurk Zongot: *he grasps Ceolwulf's rope in his hands and looks down at him, scowling* Git up snaga! It's time to go!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf tries to get up without the aid of his arms but cannot manage it. Pizurk Zongot hauls him to his feet and prods him along for a short distance, but he falls again. Pizurk Zongot is forced to carry him for this part of the journey*
Narrator: *Throughout the rest of the day, Pizgal Burzash drives the lads on, and by four o'clock in the afternoon, they are only two miles from Osgiliath*
Narrator: *All during the day, Vardamir
and Aldir scouted around the ruins of Osgiliath, memorizing the
paths through the ruins, making plans. Around three o'clock, they
both returned to the watchtower near the road*
Aldir: Now have you changed your plans any?
Vardamir: We come upon them when they have made camp and all are asleep, save for those on guard.
Aldir: And then we do what? Offer them a drink of wine from our flask?
Vardamir: Of course not. We silence the guards and then attack the rest while they sleep. When the others wake up, we fight them.
Aldir: No, no, Vardamir. That will never do at all. They will refuse to cooperate with your ingenious plan
Vardamir: Then, most learned and skillful Aldir, do you have a better plan?
Aldir: *He puts his hand on his friend's shoulder* Perhaps I do, perhaps I do
Vardamir: Then, my friend, what is your brilliant and most worthy plan?
Aldir: The first part of your plan I accept, but you forget, we have three powerful allies with us. Let us make use of them
Vardamir: Do you mean the horses?
Aldir: Aye. When the one who is on duty sees the orcs approach on the road, he will make a call like a bird that is sleepy and returns to its perch among the ruins. That will be the signal that they are coming close. Then the one holding the horses will quickly saddle and bridle them and have them ready. We will ride together at a distance and wait until we see the glow of their campfire. Then we shall hit them
Aldir: I will watch for a while. You go back with the horses and wait
Vardamir: Well, indeed, that is a good plan! We shall use that one then.
Vardamir: *He goes back to where the horses are kept, takes them to the stream and then fills their feedbags with oats and fastens them about their heads*
Orc guards: *The orcs continue on their march, enjoying taunting the strawhead, and with no trouble except the lice in their armor*
Orc guards: *The one carrying Ceolwulf snarls* This fat straw'head is killin' me! You carry 'im!
Orc guards: *He grabs Ceolwulf around the waist and thrusts him at another orc*
Orc guards: Me! *the other cries* Pizdur! E's shirking 'is orders, 'e is!
Orc guards: *The commander comes to them and leers into Ceolwulf's face* I think you've 'ad enough rest, straw'ead
Orc guards: *The orc sets him on his feet and they prod him along again*
Orc guards: *The orcs make a game of flicking at his ankles and seeing who can get the most flicks in without making him fall. The game doesn't last long, and soon they are stuck carrying the strawhead again. Finally Osgiliath, their destination, comes in sight* There it is, lads! Double time!
Aldir: *Aldir stands in the watchtower, his eyes surveying up and down the road and then to the north and to the south. He looks out at the whitened landscape, now turning deep hues of blue as the sun begins to set*
Aldir: *A few snowflakes begin to fall, landing on his cloak. He warms his hands in the folds of his cloak and one of his hands touches Lilandra's hankerchief. He thinks to himself, "Be well, my lady, I will be home to you tomorrow, if all goes well."*
Aldir: *Then he sees the orcs marching up the road. He turns and faces north in the direction of where Vardamir and the horses are. Both hands cup around his mouth and he makes the soft call of a bird returning to its perch for the night. He goes down the steps of the tower and hurries to the waiting Vardamir.*
Vardamir: *After hearing the singal, Vardamir silently saddles and bridles the horses.*
Aldir: *Aldir, breathless from running, says softly* They are coming!
Vardamir: *Vardamir mounts his horse and takes the rope of the spare mount as Aldir climbs on his horse*
Aldir: Ride north *he tells Vardamir* The wind is from the East. We will fall upon them from the West, downwind, where they cannot smell us so well
Vardamir: *he nods and knees his horse forward, heading towards the north*
Narrator: *They ride a distance through the ruins, then halt their horses and stay there, waiting quietly until they see the orc fire begin to glow in teh darkness of the night*
Vardamir: Look yonder *he points* the light of their fire cuts through the darkness. We shall wait yet a while? *he asks*
Aldir: Aye, we will wait a while, and then when we rush them, we shall scream like demons from the abyss!
Orc guards: *The orcs arrive in the ruined
city and choose a campsite. The orc carrying Ceolwulf drops him
unceremoniously to the ground. Three others go to chop firewood,
while the others set up camp
Orc guards: *When the fire is going, they all pull out their flasks to start drinking*
Orc guards: We forgot to give the straw'ead more draught! *one orc cries*
Orc guards: *He goes over to the strawhead, who seems pretty bad off, not really too awake. He grabs the strawhead by the hair, yanks his head back and forces more draught down his throat*
Orc guards: Feelin' better, straw'ead? Ready to do a little dance for us, ya think? Be the evening's entertainment? Har har har!
Orc guards: *He lifts Ceolwulf to his feet and drags him over to the other orcs. He makes Ceolwulf stand, then sits down with his draught and begins idly flicking at Ceolwulf's legs again*
Orc guards: *As they get drunk, the orcs roar with laughter at Ceolwulf's "dance"*
Vardamir: *After a bit of time has passed, Vardamir asks* How much longer shall we wait?
Aldir: I can hear their voices from here. They grow raucous in their sport. Wait until they quiet down *he touches the hilt of his sword*
Vardamir: *he nods*
Orc guards: *Finally Ceolwulf stops, straightens, clenches his fists and roars, "You fiends! You will kill me before the night is over!"*
Orc guards: Ooo, the straw'ead is angry, now is 'e? We fear the straw'ead's wrath, don't we mates
Orc guards: *The other orcs laugh heartily, calling, "Garn! The puny straw'ead! If only we could put 'im in the pot!"*
Orc guards: *Ceolwulf's tormentor puts down his whip and ambles up to the man* What's the matter? You tired? You want to go to bed? Let's put you in for the night then!
Orc guards: *The orc grabs Ceolwulf by the shoulders and backs him hard into a pillar that once supported a building in Osgiliath. The orc and one of his fellows tie Ceolwulf tightly to the pillar*
Orc guards: Sleep well, straw'ead! *The two orcs go back to their camp, which is close to the pillar, roaring with laughter*
Narrator: *The gentle snowflakes fall from the night sky and rest upon the riders and their horses*
Vardamir: *he whispers to Aldir* I think I can smell them from here! *he wrinkles his nose* And what a reek they cause!
Orc guards: *With their plentiful draught, the orcs eat some stale bread and some dried meat of suspicious origins. They force Ceolwulf to eat some, to keep him alive for the journey*
Orc guards: *Then they go back to their fire, and their evening passes in raucous, vulgar songs, until they all pass out one by one from drink*
Orc guards: *Two drunken orcs totter over to Ceolwulf's pillar and sit one on either side of it, to guard him*
Aldir: *They keep listening for a while, until the noise of the orc camp dies down* Now, my friend *he says as he draws his sword*
Orc guards: *The orcs laugh and joke, while Ceolwulf slumps forward against the ropes, though it is impossible to sleep in his position*
Vardamir: *he looks to Aldir and he, too, draws his sword* Aye!
Aldir: *He knees his horse forward, and soon he has it galloping in a full charge. He screams* Firo, ulunn!
Vardamir: *he knees his horse onward until soon he is by Aldir's side, both of the men charging in a gallop. he cries out* Gurth enin goth!
Aldir: *He swings the sword over his head and as they approach the orcs, the sword seems to glow red and the writing shines in an orange glow*
Aldir: *He clutches his sword hand with the other* Ah! It burns, it burns!
Orc guards: *The orcs guarding Ceolwulf see the charging horses and sound an alarm*
Orc guards: *The drunken orcs wake up, dazed, to find the two men upon them*
Vardamir: *Vardamir holds his sword aloft as he charges, and it glows red as well, the writing written in letters of flame. The hand holding the hilt burns and he grits his teeth* Aye, but hold it still!
Orc guards: *The orcs struggle to their feet and unsheath their swords and rush at Aldir and Vardamir*
Aldir: We are accursed! *Aldir screams* And so will be the ones who fall by our swords!
Orc guards: *though their fighting is hampered by their drunkenness*
Orc guards: Tarks! Curse them!
Vardamir: *he bends slightly to the side, holding the pommel and reins with one hand. his sword held to the side now, he brings it down sideways, towards the heads of the orcs*
Orc guards: *one of the orcs falls, his head lopped off*
Aldir: *He swings his sword into the air and then bends low, coming down to an orc's head and the sword cleaves the neck from the skull like a knife through butter*
Orc guards: *The other nine orcs scream, and one of the braver ones swings at Vardamir*
Orc guards: *Another orc rushes at Aldir*
Vardamir: *he repels the orc's swing with his blade, then twists it, slashing across the orc's body*
Orc guards: *Two orcs swing at the horses*
Aldir: *Aldir's horse rears in the air and then leaps against the attacking orc, knocking him down. One of its hooves crush the orc's skull as it lands on it*
Aldir: *He then moves his horse in a zig zag path, evading orcs who would attack, his sword glowing viciously and the hilt burning hot in Aldir's hands*
Vardamir: *the heat of the sword only spurring him on, he wheels around and heads back towards the scattered body of orcs*
Orc guards: *An orc lunges at Aldir and tries to pull him out of his saddle*
Orc guards: *Another orc comes at Vardamir*
Aldir: *He looks around, his hand still burning from the sword* Filthy orcs! My blade calls to me! It wants to taste more blood! Let the black blood flow upon the snow!
Orc guards: Accursed Tark, we want your accursed red blood!
Vardamir: *he bends to the side and slashes at the orc closest to him, then urges his horse to come to Aldir's aid*
Orc guards: *The orc who grasps at Aldir uses his other hand to strike at him*
Aldir: *He brings his sword hilt down on the orc's head, knocking him away*
Orc guards: *Another orc comes up behind Aldir and seizes him around the waist, taking him unawares and pulling him off the horse*
Aldir: *he lands in a heavy heap with the orc on top of him*
Orc guards: I'm gonna bleed you, stinking Tark!
Vardamir: Aldir! *he screams*
Orc guards: *The orc slashes at him, but his drunken aim goes awry, and he misses the vital organs, grazing Aldir in the side* ah har har!
Aldir: Oh! *he moans and drops his sword and sees it glowing in the snow beside him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, who has been watching this scene slackjawed in shock, screams when Aldir is pinned down*
Aldir: *He groans, and feels the blood as it flows out of the wound in his side*
Vardamir: *he turns his horse and rushes at the orc on top of Aldir. He grazes the orc's back with his downpointed sword*
Orc guards: Arr! *the orc turns and rushes at Vardamir, infuriated*
Vardamir: *he quickly wheels around and charges the orc, his sword drawn and pointing towards him*
Aldir: *He lies on the ground, moaning as he feels the warm blood flow from his wound*
Orc guards: *The orc snarls at Vardamir and tries to block his blow*
Ceolwulf: Aldir! *he calls frantically*
Vardamir: *metal clashes against metal as vardamir passes the orc. then he turns and charges the orc again, his sword drawn*
Orc guards: *The orc is too drunk to handle all this turning around and is not sure from what direction Vardamir is coming*
Orc guards: *He stands there snarling and turning about in confusion*
Aldir: *he fumbles inside his tunic and finds his dagger. He holds it in his left hand, and then he rolls weakly to his side and reaches for his sword with his right hand*
Aldir: *Then he struggles to his feet and stands there, legs apart, dagger in one hand, sword in another, challenging any to come near him as the red blood drips into the snow*
Orc guards: *One orc, thinking this will be easy, comes at Aldir*
Aldir: *Aldir stands his ground* Come closer, pig
Orc guards: Arr! *the orc runs toward Aldir, striking out with his blade*
Aldir: *He swings low with his sword and catches the orc along the side*
Orc guards: *The orc falls forward, screaming, as Aldir's blade cuts deep into his side*
Aldir: *He holds his dagger straight ahead and impales the orc in the gut*
Orc guards: *The orc dies with a last scream*
Vardamir: *Vardamir slashes at the head of the orc who keeps evading death at the blade of his sword*
Aldir: *he steps away from the dead orc, pulling out his dagger as he moves back* Do you need any help, my friend?
Orc guards: *The drunken orc doesn't see Vardamir's blade coming. The orc's head falls, then his body*
Vardamir: *he calls back* Nay, not anymore!
Orc guards: *The remaining orcs, terrified of Vardamir, and seeing that Aldir is still dangerous, turn and run from them*
Aldir: It seems that they do not like our swords
Vardamir: Aye, and it seems our swords do not like us!
Vardamir: *Securing the reins upon the pommel, he holds onto the horse with his knees and swings his sword in the air with both hands. he screams a mighty battle cry as he rushes at the retreating orcs. The sword glows like flame in the dark and dusky winter night*
Orc guards: *The orcs run faster--those who do not fall to Vardamir's blade. They scurry off like so many insects, soon disappearing into the ruins*
Aldir: *He goes to Ceolwulf and holding his dagger to the ropes, he slashes through them* You are free!
Vardamir: *his horse slows its gallop and Vardamir keeps an eye on the retreating orcs. When he is certain that they will not be back, he wheels around and heads back towards Aldir and Ceolwulf*
Aldir: *As he sees Vardamir returning, he screams* Go back after them! Silence their mouths!
Ceolwulf: *When the ropes no longer hold him up, Ceolwulf falls to the ground, his hands still bound behind his back*
Ceolwulf: *He looks up at them* Thank you, thank you, my friends!
Vardamir: *he calls back* Wait! Are you both hurt!
Aldir: I am unhurt! *he shouts* Go after them!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, dazed, does not speak, unsure what to do in the confusion. His face is bruised, his legs are bloody, and his back is covered in wounds*
Vardamir: *He turns his horse towards the direction of the reteating orcs and knees it forward, urging it on into a gallop. He holds his sword in his hand at the ready*
Aldir: *He hands Ceolwulf his dagger* Take it, in case any of them come back
Aldir: *He goes behind Ceolwulf and cuts the ropes from his hands. He helps him into a sitting position*
Aldir: *He hands Ceolwulf his dagger* Take it, in case any of them come back
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf leans on his left arm and takes the dagger from Aldir* Thank you. I will be glad to kill them
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's eyes glint with the bitter satisfaction of revenge. He only wishes he could have killed some*
Vardamir: *Soon, he comes upon the last of the orc guards. they fly in fear from the glowing blade of his sword, but they are no match for the swift legs of his steed*
Vardamir: *He urges his horse forward and its mighty chest hits the orc in the back, knocking him down. As the horse's hooves trample over him, their edges plow into his body like a plow through the earth. The crunching sound of bones rings out through the dark, dusky night, and the orc's ribs plunge into his heart, ending his life forever*
Vardamir: *Only the leader of the orcs remain, Pizgal Burzash, and Vardamir quickly comes upon him, swinging his blade sideways, and cleaving the foul creature's head from his body*
Vardamir: *He watches as the glow dies from his blade as he sheaths his sword. To ease the burning sensation in his hand, he rubs it on the wet snowflakes that have gathered on him. Then he turns around and rides back towards Aldir and Ceolwulf*
Aldir: *Aldir stands beside Ceolwulf, looking in the direction that Vardamir went. He drives the point of his sword in the ground and bends down, putting both hands on the hilt, resting his head there. Then he watches as the flames on the blade fade into nothingness*
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