Friday, October 12, 2007

Chapter III

Actually, this is incomplete. I wanted to write more for this chapter, but things weren't working out as nicely as I'd hoped. What the hell, I like the way this ends. :)

About the story
Chapter I
Chapter II

Though Celeborn greatly desired to speak to Gandalf soon after the Council was adjourned, he never got the opportunity to. Great were the preparations in the realm of the golden wood, and their pace greater still. He found his attention and presence needed in several places in his realm. With the marchwardens of Lothlorien and their first captains, he held long discussions that went on much after the Anor set and Ithil rose over the boughs of the mellyrn. More than half the sentries were being pulled from their posts for the assault on Dol Guldur, but Celeborn had no intention of compromising even a little on the defenses of the realm.

Elvish presence south of the Celebrant was cut down to well dispersed and well hidden scouts. The river was the main line of defense against any force that came out of Moria. Even the calm and slow-moving Nimrodel now possessed a raging force. The lady Galadriel put forth her powers into the waters, and now the Celebrant hurtled down as if in a rage. To any army coming out of the west or the south, the river became all but impassible. Only Elves with their nimble feet could do so, impeccably balanced on slender ropes between trees on either side of the river. An intricate array of connections were also made between trees, so that an elf could travel from the northern fringes of the realm to the southern, feet never touching the ground.

Antannel of Eastmarch and Emeldil of the North were to lead companies, and their first captains were given charge of the marches. The first captain of Westmarch was also promoted in the same manner, as Haldir was named commander of the armed forces to be left in Lorien.

After a long week of touring Lothlorien's borders and assessing the defenses, Celeborn returned to Caras Galadhon, but not for rest. Elven smiths from Rivendell had rekindled forges in caves outside the city, which had stood silent for many winters then. It was no small effort to sharpen enough swords and repair enough armour so as to fit an army thousands strong, not even if they were made of Elven steel. It was not all that Celeborn had in mind for them though.

In the second age, on the run from Sauron's forces that had invaded Eregion and killed Celebrimbor, Celeborn and the lords-to-be of Rivendell had chalked out various plans to counter the enemy. Outnumbered more than four times over, and crushed during the invasion, the survivors of Eregion and those under the banners of Elrond Halfelven were hurrying north, trying to evade Sauron's minions. The son of Earendil had been a warrior then, the herald of Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor. He together with Celeborn, Glorfindel and other lords had long discussions during the sleepless nights between endless sorties. Killing the enemy was not so important then, not as much as surviving was. Not only did they have to take on armies of orcs and corrupted men many times their size and hold them, but they also had to stop their retreats from becoming routs, they had to live to fight another day.

Elaborate tactics had been drawn up: using cavalry to disguise the retreat of infantry. The clouds of dust trotting cavalry raised up would hide any movement beyond it. The enemy would give chase thinking that they were near, and the cavalry would retreat in haste, but only till they reached the infantry. The enemy, tired from the unexpected length of the chase would meet fresh infantry, who could then take them on with ease.

They had thought of digging trenches around battlefronts to remove the enemy's advantage of numbers. These trenches became doubly effective when filled with broken swords, mail and helms - anything otherwise unusable that was left on the battlefield.

They had thought of tower shields and lengthening their spears; of using formations for shield-bearing infantry that completely shielded them from arrows; of using crossbows with cranks that would make them as quick-firing as bows.

Then, thought Celeborn, wryly now even though his relief had been incalculable back then, they had stumbled on to the valley of Rivendell while retreating to the north. Discovery of this valley had changed everything. An impossibly safe valley, as it had seemed at the time. Hidden among the cloud-brushing Hithaelgir, Sauron's minions were never able to find it. The few who came even slightly close never went back. Their plans and ideas had remained so for more than an age.

Now Celeborn sought out Glorfindel, who was outside the city, conducting war games between companies of Elves from Lorien and Rivendell.

Weapons of attack the Elves had in plenty, but their defensive weapons were weapons of a different kind. Defend they did marvelously, but they did so by concealment, using hidden bows and javelins thrown from the darkness. The Sindarin Elves of Lorien had become woodcrafty beyond compare, Silvan tactics uniting with remnants of Doriath and Nargothrond and scores of realms that had not survived to see the Third Age. This when combined with the art of the Galadhrim in making their cloaks, the Elves became all but invisible.

All this was of greatest import whilst going upon Dol Guldur unannounced. But on engagement, Celeborn thought, all would change. Outnumbered as the Elven forces would certainly be, if the tides turned, if the element of surprise was spent entirely, they would have to somehow hold up against maybe twice their number in orcs, wargs and all manner of creatures of the dark. Only if the enemy's numbers could be managed, only if the Elves remained in complete control of the battle could the superior Elven prowess keep the battle in their favour.

Celeborn and Glorfindel started chalking out their plans. What started early one morning, went on through the night till noon the next day. In that time, they abducted three of the finest Noldorin smiths from their other work and supplied them with numerous designs to forge and fabricate. Many finished designs were discarded, a select few considered and built upon. At long last, the two Elven lords were satisfied.

The outcome was a spear. Perfectly balanced, a cunningly crafted iron brace on the blunt end weighed against the spearhead. The spearhead was a sinuous and leaf-shaped and for good measure, a guard was placed two feet behind it so that the spear could be removed with ease from anything it might get lodged in. On closer inspection, one could make out that the spear was not a single piece but two, that were fitted together with a metal collar.

The outcome was a spear, sixteen feet long.

As much as I would love to claim the weapon as one of my own creation, I'm afraid it isn't so. Philip II of Macedon is credited with its invention. He crushed the Greeks with this lovely weapon. And his son Alexander went on to do the same with the Persians. All hail the mighty Sarissa!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Seer

When I am not busy whiling away my time with more fruitful things (Take that, Oxymoron!), I take on any online test I can get my hands on. This one I found quite flattering. Maybe because of it's distance from the truth. Or not.