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Short Summary: Alkhaszor's ship is attacked by the Black Swan as he attempts to sail from Umbar to the Corsair Haven - and thence to Gondor.
Date (real-life): 2011-03-20
Scene Location: Ocean

Under cover of night the Zagaragan slipped from the Corsair docks of Umbar, the ship making all speed to fly as swiftly as she can north and east to the Corsair Haven. But at dawn came the news that had been expected--sighting of the topmast of a ship of Gondor's fleet on the horizon. More sail, if that is even possible, were set to the wind, the Zagaragan using all possible speed and trickery, weaving in and out of the islands that dot here, to try to come swiftly to its next port. Still, the crew and ship have been made ready for a battle, and now Alkhaszor leans against the railing, watching the course of Gondor's ship and frowning.

Lominzil, the thin dark brother of the bride and lady below, stands on deck in soldier's garb. Conspicuous, however, is the lack of a sword. He watches the sail calmly, arms crossed.

"I presume, then, this is the ship you spoke of? That was lying in wait for us?" Alkhaszor asks, pointing toward the Black Swan and then looking to Lominzil. "Who is its Captain?" He squints toward the Swan, not yet recognizing it, perhaps.

"I imagine you will discover that when we are close enough to see his face," says Lominzil, smiling grimly.

"You do now, do you?" Alkhaszor replies. "There is, of course, always doubt that such an even twill happen. But I forget--what is your swimming ability, again? I think perhaps, we should ensure that you will float."

Turning, he looks to two crewmen nearby. "Put this one in irons and secure him to the deck somewhere. Arms and legs, mind you. It would be distressing for our guest to be hurt were there to be a battle.

"I can swim," answer Lominzil, glaring fiercely at the two crewmen. "But not with irons."

The Black Swan is patient; patient, even in the enemy's waters. It weaves to follow the Zagaragan amongst the islands, and expertly so. Lone amongst Gondor's navy is this black-sailed and black-ribbed ship, and its movement resemble a predator stalking its prey. Never too far, but as of yet, never too close. Then, suddenly, dramatically, red flags replace black ones.

The Black Swan closes upon the Zagaragan with the wind's blessings.

"Belay that order!" Alkhaszor says on sudden impulse, shouting to the two crewmen with Lominzil. "Rope, not chains. Tie him secure, but to something that floats. If need be, we'll throw the wretch overboard to lighten our load."

With a curse, Alkhaszor now recognizes the ship closing upon them. "That," he says, pointing to the black flags, "is the true bastard of the Bragollachs." A hasty ocnversation, too low for Lominzil to hear, follows with his first mate--the conversation rather heated, with much pointing to the Swan and then to the zig zagging course through the islands that they follow. "And in open sea?" Alkhaszor is said to ask. "Can we run for our destination? She will not follow us into that harbor, surely?"

"Correct!" laughs Lominzil softly as he is strapped none too gently to the mizzen-mast. "We are being chased by Imrakhor Bragollach. It is the perfect day for reunions."

He strains uselessly against the rope.

Here is that Bragollach, standing upon the deck of his ship with his arms wrapped at his chest. Few present such paradox: the fair-faced youth of the Dunedain with a demeanor cut from the bowels of Umbar's underworld. Far from the streets of Dol Amroth, he offers no pretense of elegance.

"They go for the Haven. We must overtake them soon, or they will be lost."

As if by his words alone, the Swan moves to come aside the Zagaragan.

"Typical," Alkhaszor sneers. "A madman and known butcher, who makes a mockery of all thing honorable that Gondor's nobles are supposed to stand for, and yet you honor him. And then you wonder why Gondor fails."

Still, he looks with growing alarm as the Swan closes on them--though the Zagaragan's crew is well practiced at war. Ballistae are loaded, and when the Swan is close enough, they will be launched. Other crew prepare to repel boaders.

And Alkhaszor? He stands on the quarterdeck, armed. His helm this day, perhaps luckily so, has cheekpieces that serve both to protect and to hide most of his face, save his sea grey eyes. His hands, too, are in gauntlets of black, hiding his missing finger.

"Honor?" Lominzil's lip curls. "Come to the streets of Dol Amroth and you shall see how he is honored, brother."

Likewise, as the Swan nears the Zagaragan, ballistae are loaded and hooks are prepared, for the purposes of boarding. Its intentions are clear enough.

Men of the Draugrim stand on the deck, arrayed for battle. There is a restless wait as the Swan comes closer and closer. Until, at last...

Ballistae are launched, hooks are thrown across.

The Swan comes aside the Zagaragan.

"In fact, brother, I would like that. To visit Dol Amroth. But first, there is this slight inconvenience to take care of," Alkhaszor says.

Once the fight has begun, ordered chaos fills the Zagaragan's decks. Ballistae from the Swan are answered, hooks are thrown off the Harad ship's side as quickly as they can be, and weapons are readied against the boarding party.

Alkhaszor jumps down off the quarterdeck, foremost among those warding off Stonelanders, his eyes ever on the Bragollach lord.

"You don't really think it is 'slight,'" laughs Lominzil, but he quiets as two ballista bolts thud into the mast above his head, his efforts turned to straining against the ropes that hold him fast. His arms stretch toward each other behind the mast..

Black splinters break from the Swan's hull, but its marines are yet unperturbed. They meet the incoming attackers without pause.

Imrakhor himself still stands near the Master of his ship. "Keep us steady," he says to the man, before wading into the fray.

Lominizil's answer has the unfortunate effect of briefly gaining Alkhaszor's attention. "May I remind you that your sister is below deck. Under guard. With certain orders, should things go terribly wrong. That said--" he turns to the two who tied Lominzil up. "If he makes trouble, or looks to free of his bonds, toss him into the sea. A tragic casualty of the Bragollach's ill-planned aggression."

Back toward the battle developing he now turns, watching Bragollach still. "Stonelander!" he calls in Westron. "You press your luck!"

Staring hard at Alkhaszor, Lominzil goes still and strains no further.

Imrakhor is almost incredulous as he looks to Alkhaszor, and barely stifles a laugh. "Do you know not to whom you speak?" he asks the man.

He draws his blade and bears a strike towards Alkhaszor's shoulder.

Imrakhor attacks Alkhaszor with his Longsword and lightly wounds him!

All across the deck of the Zagaragan, fighting suddenly erupts. Wood splinters fly across the deck from the Swan's ballistae attack, but the Zagaragan is not yet crippled. Its crew continues firing missiles to the Swan's decks and toward the boarders, though most are engaged in fighting now, or hacking at the ropes holding the ships together.

Two men clash blades neare Lominzil, one a burly Corsair who swings a large axe.

A laugh from Alkhaszor, even as the Stonelander's blade bites into his armor. "Do I know to whom I speak?" he says, lunging his blade at Imrakhor's thigh. "You could be the Steward Denethor himself and my aim would not change--to kill you."

You attack Imrakhor with your Longsword...

Alkhaszor attacks Imrakhor with his Longsword and moderately wounds him!


The Lord Bragollach does not move quick enough to dodge aside the strike of Alkhaszor, but he does manage to soften the blow so it does not puncture his thigh. He grunts, before slashing out at his opponent defensively. What time is bought by the manuever, he uses to brandish a shield strapped to his back.

Imrakhor attacks you with his Longsword!...

Imrakhor attacks Alkhaszor with his Longsword, but he misses by a mile.


Lominzil glances about at the somewhat-occupied sailors, then holds in his breath to loosen the ropes. Just a little more ... one hand's fingers slip into the other's sleeve.

With a quick twist, Alkhaszor dodges out of the way of Imrakhor's blade, his own now coming in a backhanded strike toward the back of the man's leg. In his left hand, Alkhaszor holds a shield, heron and tree emblazoned upon it. "You keep me from my duties to my lord," he hisses through gritted teeth as he tries to strike.

The men near Lominizil come dangerously close--it looks as if the large Corsair might even trip on him. No small cords bind Lominizil's wrists, though--the rope is sturdy, for use on the ship, and the knot tied by a experienced sailor.

You attack Imrakhor with your Longsword...

Alkhaszor attacks Imrakhor with his Longsword, but Imrakhor parries the attack with his shield!

A practiced manuever, Imrakhor twists at his waist and drops his shield down towards his leg to block Alkhaszor's blow. His sword then descends down towards that man's back, a harsh strike intended to flay skin from bone.

Imrakhor attacks Alkhaszor with his Longsword and badly wounds him!

A scream of rage and pain mingled erupts from Alkhaszor, and in a fury he whips his sword down toward Imrakhor's sword arm. Blood streams from his back from the wound, and the blow is weaker than it might otherwise be. "The ropes!" he yells at the crew. "Free the ship from us! Now!"

Alkhaszor attacks Imrakhor with his Longsword, but he misses by an arm's length.


Carefully, Lominzil draws out a small knife from his sleeve. It is a sticklike thing, more for carving meals than for sawing through sailor's line. He saws nevertheless with utmost patience, flattening himself against the mast to avoid the combat nearby.


The Draugrim press the Haradrim warriors on the deck of the Swan with a furious insistence. And Imrakhor, Captain of these men, is no different.

Seeing the blood seep through Alkhaszor's armor and clothing into plain view is enough to spur the Bragollach's lord dodge and the following strike.

Imrakhor attacks Alkhaszor with his Longsword, but Alkhaszor parries the attack with his Longsword!

Again Alkhaszor speaks through gritted teeth, but this time it is to fight against the pain. He presses forward, grunting with the effort to parry the Stonelander's attack.

"I have an exchange. A parlay to propose," he hisses to Imrakhor. "We come on a mission of mercy, in fact, though far be it from you to believe me. But ask that one there if I speak true." A quick jerk of his head indicates Lominzil, though he dares not turn his gaze nor his blade from Imrakhor.


Imrakhor's blade is stayed for now, and he follows his opponent's eyes to Lominzil. He blinks once, then again, before turning back to Alkhaszor.

"I am listening," says the Lord Bragollach.

Two paces back does Alkhaszor step now. His sword he leans on the top of his shield, as if it is heavy to hold. He does not turn from Imrakhor.

"Lominzil," he calls, "tell the Bragollach where we go and why."


"He says he is taking us home," calls Lominzil, his voice strained and hard. "It is what he promised to my sister."

"He has married her."


Imrakhor's eyes do not leave Alkhaszor, but he listens.

"Let me see the woman."

All around, gradually, the fighting has come to a rather uneasy halt, though screened from view, some of the Harad crew continue to work at freeing the Zagaragan from the Swan's hooks--one or two men using knives to laboriously work at the ropes.

"Bring up my wife!" Alkhaszor orders. He has one hand on a nearby railing and is letting that take his weight, though trying not to make that fact obvious.

One of the men nods and turns sharply, disappearing below decks. A few minutes later, he is back, Farielle behind him. Behind her are two more men, who - once on deck - stand one on each side of the girl.   She is unharmed, and shows no signs of mistreatment.

That she is frightened, though, is clear; listening to the noise and chaos of the battle above, with no way to know who is alive, who is dead, what is happening - it doesn't make for a calm and peaceful rest. Her eyes dart around the deck, landing on Alkhaszor, lifting to Imrakhor, then to Lominzil. They widen and she starts forward, "Lomin!" One of the men takes her arm, holding her back. "A moment, lady," he says quietly. "Wait." His eyes are on Alkhaszor, waiting for his order.


Lominzil says nothing; does not even look at the girl, but continues quietly to work behind his back.


The Dark Knight looks to Farielle as she comes on deck, before saying to Alkhaszor, "I will take them and you shall live. Is this your proposal?"

"You shall take them and I and my ship and all my crew will depart to return to Umbar, with no further interference from you," Alkhaszor says, grim-faced. "That is my proposal."

The conversation between the two men draws Farielle's attention, though her eyes dart back to her brother now and then. As the meaning of what they speak of sinks in, she steps forward again. "Please," she says to Imrakhor. "I owe him a great debt. Please let them go."


"The terms are acceptable," says the Dunedain with finality.

"Bring your sister and come aboard, Lominzil," he orders the Squire, before turning back to Alkhaszor, "What is your name, Heron?"

"Untie my 'brother,'" Alkhaszor says, snapping the order at the corsair near Lominizil. "And see that the Lady's things are brought up immediately." 

"My name?" Through his pain, Alkhaszor manages a dry smile. "I am Alkhaszor anAlkhaszor, Heron Knight and Herald to Alphros anAzulada."

One of Farielle's guards is gone as soon as the word is spoken. He is back a moment later with her small store of belongings. There isn't much. It all fits into two small bags, which the man carries easily in one hand. 

Another is kneeling beside Lominzil, cutting his bonds.


The brother wobbles a little, then steps free, slipping his hand back into his sleeve with a spiteful look.


"I see."

A pair of Draugrim crew move to secure Lominzil and Farielle, to usher them from vessel to vessel. Imrakhor continues, saying, "Nice weather." 

A startled blink is Alkhaszor's response to this comment on the weather. "Indeed," he says, leaning heavily against the railing now. "Lady," he then says, turning to Farielle, "before you go, is there anything else you require from me? I have kept my word." A dark look is added toward Lominzil at this, too.

Farielle turns away from her 'rescuers', coming closer to Alkhaszor. "No," she says after a moment. "You have kept your word." Another pause, while she looks at him. "I shall keep mine," she tells him. She glances up at Imrakhor and the others standing around listening. She says finally, a little awkwardly, but intent, "You remember what the Lady said? I would keep that promise also." She hesitates, as if she would say more but doesn't know what or how to.  In the end, she reaches out swiftly to touch his arm. "Thank you." And turns away towards the other ship and the men who will help her into it.

Lominzil moves with the ease of one who knows the ship well -- almost as if he might belong to its crew. He says nothing, looking only to Farielle. 

"I remember, of course, and I will try. It will be difficult and will take time, but I will do my best." With that, Alkhaszor watches the woman and her brother go. A nod to Imrakhor before he turns and watches no more as the Zagaragan makes all possible speed toward Harad's coast and harbors.


Business concluded, Imrakhor wraps his hands at his back and says, "Good day." He then releases the last grappling hook and leaps back aboard the Swan.

"Set course for Amroth," says the Lord Bragollach to his Master. 

In contrast to her brother, Farielle, once aboard the Gondorian ship, doesn't seem to know what to do or where to go. Her two bags are at her feet, and she stands very still, her hands held tightly together in front of her.


"He is gone," says a tired voice at her back -- her brother's. "And you aren't going back there, ever." He is standing there, toweling off his face with a cloth soaked in strong-smelling liquid. Already, he is several shades lighter.

The girl turns around, lifting her eyes beyond Lominzil to watch the steadily-shrinking ship that brought her this far. Mutely, she shakes her head, and takes half a step towards her brother. Nearly a year has she been in Harad; it is hard to take in right away that things are different.


"Father and Mother will be so glad to have you back again," continues Lominzil, smiling faintly. "Oh, when I heard you were taken I could have died!"

"Yes." Her own voice sounds rusty suddenly, as disused as Lominzil's had earlier. "Lomin..." Farielle looks around. The men are Gondorian. The speech is not Haradaic. "Lomin," she says again, and then she is in his arms, clinging to him as if she will never let him go.

Lominzil sways, surprised for a moment; then his eyes soften as he returns the embrace just as tightly. "I will not let it happen again," he murmurs to his sister. "Only the Valar know why you went in the first place..."

"You were there," comes Farielle's muffled voice. "And Eruiglas... and they called for volunteers among the healers to help. I could not stay." All the stress of the past weeks, living in constant fear that someone would find out and forbid this journey, that someone would discover that Batsai wasn't the beggar he pretended to be; the need to act as if nothing was happening, nothing was different, she was content to be in Umbar - it all crashes down at once. Lominzil's shirt is being swiftly soaked with tears.


The young man's frame tenses suddenly at the mention of his elder brother, but he merely pats Farielle's head comfortingly. "But discussions were meant for another time. There, now."

"What is wrong?" Farielle has felt him tense, and pulls her face out of his shoulder to look up at him. She wipes at her cheeks with one hand, but the other stays, clutching his shirt. Perhaps she is afraid to let him go. "He kept his promise," she says anxiously.


"Nothing is wrong, not anymore," says Lominzil after a breath's pause. "What promise did he make? He is a man who comes from a tradition of traitors, Farielle. You cannot listen to him."

Farielle looks at him doubtfully, but doesn't pursue the subject. 

"To bring me home. And you also." She shakes her head, her face set stubbornly, repeating, "He kept his word, even at risk to himself. And I shall keep mine."


"What will you do?" asks Lominzil mistrustfully.

"I shall not renounce my marriage." As if this has sparked some thought, Farielle looks fearfully out at the wide sea about them. "We will get home, won't we? No one can stop us? How far is it?"


Lominzil looks on with disbelief. "You would cleave to a man you will never see again?"

"We -will- get home," he says defiantly. "Nothing can stop us now."

Farielle looks down. The top of her head is about level with his collarbones, and she stares at his shirt. When she looks up again, her face is set. "I gave my word," she says unhappily. "Would you have me be faithless and oath-breaker?"


The young man flinches. "If you think it is right," he says penitently, leading her to the barrels stacked alongside the rail so that they may sit. Now that he no longer needs any disguise, he is shaking.

Lominzil says, "I am sorry I could not come earlier."

"It is not what I want," Farielle goes on. "None of this was what I wanted." Her voice quivers, but she doesn't start crying again. She perches on one of the barrels, holding his hand tightly. So tightly that it might hurt. "But I c-cannot go back on my word or I am as b-bad as they are." 

At his words, she hugs him again. "You cannot know how glad I was to see you," she tells him fervently. "That was..." Her voice trails off, and her eyes darken, until she draws a breath and says, "I had planned to run away, but... I had given up. I think I would have killed myself that night, if you had not been there."


Lominzil puts his other hand over hers, merely shaking his head. "I am glad you did not," he says quietly. "It would have grieved Mother so, to have another child to mourn..."

Too late he catches himself, and bites his lip.

"Another?" Farielle's eyes fly to his. "Lomin... what is it? Tell me, you must tell me!" Her face is white beneath the faint tan she has acquired in this past year. (Tan only by comparison to how pale her skin was before... to the Haradrim, she is still as white as bone.)


Grief is writ on his expression. "Eruiglas is dead," he states plainly, clasping her hand. "He was killed by the Haradrim at Caldur. And Gwaithmir -- he was sent on a mission to look for the Prince, and no one knows where they went, or whether they will be back, and Aunt Tathar went with them too, and ..."

Lominzil is trying his best not to carry on and on, and break the dam of emotion that he has forged for himself.

Farielle stares at him. "Eruiglas?" she falters. A vision of her splendid oldest brother rises up before her. "Dead?" She is trembling. "But... I got a letter you wrote. You must have stuffed it into the stones. Nisrin brought it to me..." As if this fact refutes what he has said.


Lominzil withdraws his hand quickly, twisting his own fingers in self-chagrin. "In the stones?" he says blankly. "Ah. Yes. I wrote many to you, but that one was early on ... he was still well, then ..."

He bows his head.

This distance Farielle can't bear. She reaches for him again, to comfort him - to find comfort - to remind herself of who she is and where. "How long until we are home?" she whispers at last.


Lominzil smiles shakily at Farielle. "Soon, sister, soon."

"There will be time for both grieving and joy then," he adds, rising and offering his hand to help her off the barrels. "But right now, you must rest. And I am going to speak with this ship's captain."

She rises, holding onto his hand as tightly as in the beginning. "You will not..." she begins, then manages a smile, even if not a very good one. "Of course, you can't go anywhere, can you? I am sorry to be so foolish."


"There is nothing to be sorry for," Lominzil murmurs, leaning over to kiss the top of her head. "I will be but a step away. Now, Farielle, sleep, and home will be there when you wake up."

Farielle lets him lead her to a cabin - small and cramped, but clean. And she tries to sleep, though it is long before she can. And she will wake in the night, from nightmares.

Date added: 2011-03-23 18:12:00    Hits: 67
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