Jul 13 2012 06:56 AM #1Guest Contributor Online status: Reputation:
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An Offering to Rohirric Roleplayers
I would like to offer some stories out to the public community, to use in Roleplaying as you see fit (I would love to see them in use again!). It seemed right to point them out, since we are around the anniversary of the Exiles of the Riddermark event, which is what they were written up for. It also helps that Rohan is soon to be released, and there is already an increasing interest in the Horse-lords of the Mark (I can think of three good kinships of that sort off the top of my head, two of which are relatively new).
These stories are inspired off of Rohirric history and culture, with a faint toss of Norse mythology and the Elvish account (see the Silmarillion). Again, they are completely free to use in Roleplaying.
With that, in no specific order, here is The Hero and the King, The Lord of the Hunt, Dreams in the Mist, The Taming of Felarof, The Three Holbytla, and The Dragon's Bane.
The Hero and the King
During the reign Hilweon, a great king and steedmaster, a man named Thecca rose to heroism serving in the north. When he routed the drakes from Yellowstreame, a town on the marches, his return to the Framsburg was heralded with cheers and calls. He ignored them, bent on one objective.
When he reached the Framscort, he proposed a marriage to Hilweon, asking for the princess hand. He was refused, hotly, and sent away without further word. He was publicly imprisoned below the Framsburg, where the gaol lay. However, two nights after he was locked in, the king came with a hood bearing his face.
With a wink and a grin, the king opened up a secret way out of the jail, a tunnel that led into darkness. Through the shadows he led, and when Thecca asked his intention, the king’s response was silence. Finally, when they arrived outside, Thecca found they stood far below the town and west, in a quick delve among the wilderness.
“You may not have my daughter’s hand, but your freedom is yours. I give you the greatest adventure, despite your insult, I give you it. Go north of the wild, and find the eored that will meet you there. Gather them, appoint them, and go up the Longway to the Benorburg. This alone may prove a challenge, but there is stirrings up there. Dwarves and goblinfolk war in the passes. Go, and observe!”
Thecca did as commanded, up through the wilderness to the point of Goldhorse. There he found an encampment of 119 men, all equipped with veteran armours and only mildly whetted spears and swords. He gathered them, and appointed them, and mustered them to formation. Through fens and swamps and lakes bright and clear, up into the cold lands where pines always grew. Further up, to frosted ones, and further, to the trenches of snow. The morning they passed into highlands though, a storm began that blocked any sight they had.
When they woke up, they found the storm has vanished, but so had their encampment. It was replaced by a much rougher one, in a much higher altitude of land. And the voices of the wind was replaced by the snarls of goblins, and Orcs. When the leader noticed their eyes alert, he laughed, and told his grunts to bring them to the cliff.
Thecca was chained at the forefront, but all of his company were chained on the edge in a line. There, they saw the reason for glee that the Orcs proned to showing them, but also what they had come for.
Below was an army of dwarves on the opposite, and close by an army of goblinfolk. Yet they were not fighting, even though they were near enough to each other to strike. Instead, they all stood watching a circle of empty space, save for two figures that stood at each end.
A great shout shattered the tumult of voices. “Hoy! Here the Khazad fight for the freedom of Mountain Gundabad! Here will be victory for Durin! Here, the champion of Khazad-dum will claim the North again! The Orcs warring us did not succeed, so they went the cowards’ way, tossing their biggest fist at us in single combat to spare their own loss!”
Here the goblins howled in anger, but a sudden roar from the Giant in the circle quieted them. “For Father Durin I fight! I fight this abomination, this troll!” he rolled the word fiercely, making it an insult. The brute opposite him sneered, but nothing else.
Without warning, they met. They fought and fought, mace against club, but the troll was larger, and beat him against a thick tree that towered over a delf. The mountain trembled in fury at the abuse, and it is said the king of dwarves heard it in his caves for it’s noise. And suddenly, it was done. The Giant yelped one last grunt, before going visibly limp, falling down the edge of a sheer.
Thecca and the eored were forced to watch as every dwarf was slain or fled, before the goblinfolk released them. They laughed. The Orc chief joined in, before presenting Thecca with two choices. To let his eored die, and for himself to flee back to Framsburg, or to face the troll-champion.
Thecca did not think. “I will die for this eored, for your foul devilry. I will face your troll.” But before the Orc could respond, the hero drew his sword like lightning and drove it into the goblin’s stomach. In the distraction it caused, all of his eored escaped into the Wild. When the fiends recovered they sent wargs out at them, but never were they found. After long travel Hilweon received their news, and held a public mourning, followed by enclosing himself in his courters for five days. When he came back out, his words were fair, saying he should respect Thecca’s sacrifice by treasuring the good, the happiness of the Eotheod.
He always was alight with joy, and just, even when foul rumors circled about of him sending Thecca to his death purposefully.The Lord of the Hunt
In a day when beasts were many, the land was strange, and the horses native were wild and fey, a man came to the encampment of the Eotheod. He was tall, and thick like a tree, but his skin wasn’t fair or pale like the people he came among. Instead, his skin was bronze and copper, and he carried no weapons.
He came suddenly through the sentries, not showing any sign of knowing he was intruding. When he climbed over a hill on his shaggy but tall horse, he looked surprised as he gazed down at the camp, it’s buildings still only half-built. Without word, the sentries joined him and escorted him through the gates and to the main tent, it’s canvases tiering up into the sky.
When he was presented to Marhwini, the king of the Eotheod, he welcomed them as a folk to these lands. When they asked who he was, he replied: “I am but a hunter seeking food”. Somewhat confused by this, the king honored him as a foreign guest to learn his doings.
Marhwini gathered all his marshals and captains together to feast in the tent with the stranger. As soon as the food was out, a roast mutton and a stash of various berries, he never moved his eyes from the meal. “My friend, welcome to our halls before they are built. We know you are here to hunt, but where do you come from?”
The stranger chewed awhile before answering. “The west,” he said.
“At the edge of the wide wood?” asked the first marshal.
“At the foot of the mountains?” asked the third marshal.
“Further than that.”
The Eotheod knew not of a beyond, so they stared blankly. He took another bite and chewed thoughtfully before he clarified.
“I live by the sea that lies as far west of the mountains as this encampment is west of the Middlesea on the plains.”
Most there sat aghast, but Marhwini King kept his face controlled. “And why are you so far from your home?” The stranger’s eyes pierced him before he resumed eating with the response: “I am hunting.”
When the stranger woke, he found himself outside the encampment, some two hills out of sight of it. But with him was Thelm, the third commander of the third marshalling and lord of the hunt. “Marhwini kindly asked me to escort you out, for he thought you mad.” Without another word, Thelm departed and the stranger left the opposite direction.
But Thelm was a curious man. As soon as he was out of sight, he peeled into the trees to watch the stranger leave. He followed. Three days passed before anything occurred, before suddenly the horse of the stranger grew even taller, and turned from shaggy to white. Before he raced off down a broad swath of hill, into the middle of the trampling hoofs of hundreds of horses. His horse towered over the wild ones, but for some odd reason the feys defected to the stranger’s passage, until he was leading the entire of them. Running among them, leading them, the stranger seemed free, even as he bellowed words that didn’t seem like it would fit to the human tongue.
“Nahariono-lavunovoso-kiriuluadhamer van valario Nahar!” was the closest mimic that could be made.
When the herd came to the edge of the western hill, it looked to Thelm as if the stranger had looked back, and saluted him, before the herd vanished behind it. When the Eotheod ran up to see them run the plain to the next, two miles distant, he found no trace of their passage.Dreams in the Mist
It is a long trek from the Framsburg to the fields of the Folde. When Eorl the Young marched, he brought his army down through many perils. The greatest though, was in their minds. They passed by a great bight of the river, where even the deepest ford was one hundred leagues distant.
Depression came upon the company. The river seemed louder, keeping them from any sleep. The winds howled, and it seemed to most that a voice carried on it, mocking them. Companions fought bitterly. The youngest cried and screamed on the deaf air. Yet Eorl ordered they press on, so they did.
After the depression came the madness. Few of the men who wandered off ever returned, and several suddenly held a strange fascination for the other side of the River. Two days after that, the first person died. He walked into the River of her own accord, and never came up for fresh air. Three more followed her, including Eorl’s own brother. At this, the young king wept and mourned, soon followed by a gathering of all the eoreds and their captains who marched beside him.
“Let us not stop until we have cleared this evil! We will trust our steeds to keep us from the temptation, to keep us from this Shadow claiming any more of us.” Yet it is said that Shadow was not finished, for two days after this non-stop march, a fog burrowed onto them.
It was deep, and dark, and full of delusion. Men thought they saw deer with skin of gold, or trees as thick as houses. Yet more heard voices in the mist, strange songs that leaped to their lips. Others spotted faces of pale figures, their bones and ears too sharp, their hair long.
For a while they blessed the mists, since as soon as it appeared, their temptations and depressions vanished. But Eorl warned them to caution. “Fear the mists! We are in the eye of the storm, the violent outskirts behind us, but also ahead. Keep sharp!”
So they pressed on. The next night, Eorl did not wake up.
The young king found himself in the mists, but none of the Eotheod were about him. Only the mists, and trees that were much clearer. A voice pierced his mind: “Climb, young man,” it said, and he thought it female. Suddenly, he moved his hands and felt a smooth ladder. He climbed without seeing, to find himself in a platform on top of a tree. He looked through violet flowers, unnaturally golden leaves, to see a woman, young and fair, standing on the edge, looking out at the River.
Eorl hailed her, asking: “Lady, what is this place?” She did not reply, but merely clasped his hand, and forced him to follow her. She walked straight off the ledge of the flet, into the golden leaves, but they did not fall. Instead, suddenly they appeared at the foot of a ghost tree, it’s bark deadly white. They walked across a bridge of white stone, over a stream of no noise, into an arch and through a path. All the while, they spoke, and all the while, faces watched them go.
“Eorl son of Leod, why do you come here?” the beautiful lady asked. The king thought a moment before replying. “To save my allies I must pass south.” He did not say anything of her hindering him or throwing nightmares at his people.
“Do you speak truly?” she asked in a strange way. “Do you want to know what is true and what is lie?” Without waiting for his reply, she led him through the mists, by many turns and bushes. “Let your hands relax, and gaze at yourself.”
Suddenly, he looked down and saw himself. “Look at your desires,” whispered her voice, close to his ear enough to touch. He could not look away. His eyes fell into the reflection of them, until he was falling into a scene of terror. Blood and gore spattering a battlefield, a young face peering out from behind a beard, a crowd upon his forehead, slashing with a sword at faceless foes and shouting in silent calls.
“You will find your death on that road, this road to save an ally you never met,” she murmured. Fires erupted before him, and a man who looked like himself with darker skin found himself fighting a fiend after another, until he was cut down himself. She showed him many other things unspeakable, before she changed the waters, and gave him the possibility of good things come of it.
“Do you really want to risk the evilest of outcomes? Do you want to face death?” her voice whispered into his ear.
“Can I not? No matter where I go, I will find death.”
“You are wrong,” muttered the beauty. “Stay here, and live in paradise east of the Sea for as long as you wish.”
“When I look on this place, I do not see a paradise. I see ghosts who have not seen the sun, who live forever under a roof of enchanted leaves that block the starss and sun and moon.”
She sighed, but nothing else. Then, she turned away, and Eorl never saw her again. He turned away from his reflection, and began walking back through the mists, and somehow he found a way blindly back to the camp, where he woke up to a mistless morning, having escaped the witch of the woods.
The Taming of Felarof
In an age of the Horse-lords where the people were many and great, masters of horse and non-disputed through their many dwellings from the high burg over the Misty Mountains to the lonely mountain on the beginnings of the wide plain of the East. They were strong, but none more so than the chief who ruled on the chair in the Framsburg.
He was fair, and just, and the greatest of riders since Fram himself, and Lutheon before him. He was named Leod. When he was but young, he captured a foal as white as snow, with eyes as dark and seemingly. . . wise. The king himself fed him and watered him through many years, until the horse was tall and strong.
But his eyes never changed. They were clever. The horse danced away from everyone who tried to tame it, even when they feigned to feed him. Finally, Leod deemed it time and marched to try his own luck.
He failed. Before Leod could as much as mount it, the horse hoofed him bloody. He snorted when Leod told him sweet lies, to try to trick him, almost as if he knew what the king was saying and saw through the guise. Even with the might of the chief he was slain by the mount out of sheer shock.
So ended Leod King.
When his son, yet young but powerful and beloved of his many subjects, heard of this, he worked into a fit of fury. He strode out from the halls of the kings to the chained pen where the horse was prisoned, and tamed him. The gaolers of the beast could not hear what their king said, only that once he had finished, he rode upon the white horse.
“Bow before Felarof Mearasoth, lord of all horses!” cried Eorl, before the people of the Framsburg.
They clapped to see their former king’s dying wish fulfilled, the great horse claimed and named. So the loftiest house of all steeds, the house of the horses of the kings, was founded. . . and when the enemies of the Young King met him on the field, they looked on and wondered, and said it was the greatest horse since the Lord of the Hunt walked the world.
The sons and sons of the sons of Felarof walked with the kings of the Eotheod, and the Eorlingas which soon succeeded that folk, for as long as they lasted, even to the day of Theoden King of the Riddermark.The Three Holbytla
In a day when war plagued the Eotheod, the royals chose to move the Horse-lords from their current homes to a place in the north, untroubled by their enemies. So a few of the Eotheod chose to forsake their people, in some fit of rage.
One of these folk, named Hranding, departed south, the opposite way from where the king had decided to leave. He went far and wide, crossing and re-crossing the River. It was only when an entire year had passed did Hranding come across life again southward.
It was a village, on a calm-flowing river that gentled down from the Misty Mountains. But the houses were small and queerly built, with wood that spiraled down into the mud of the grassy knolls and hills, covered with blossoms. Ovular doors marked the entrances, though the streets were bare. . . and suddenly, Hranding’s vision was blackened, and he saw no more for many hours.
He woke to furnishings of tough cloth, and dirt packed like stone, walls without a door. It was an odd place, dark save for little fires on waxy sticks. Suddenly from the shadows peeled a creature, small as the doors in the village that disappeared, if not shorter. He had a great hay hat, with skin that seemed burnt by the sun. His clothes were metal-enlaced rags, it seemed.
He cackled and spit, and taunted of larger-than-normal Men walking on larger-than-normal beasts. Eventually, the thing calmed down, and fed Hranding a meat slow-cooked over a fireplace that lay cloaked in shadows. It was stringy, and tough, but he ate so he did not starve. After the feast, the creature gave him a name, with no shortening of pride. “I be Cleathou the Goblin!” The Eotheod thought the place strange for a goblin, the tongue stranger. but he kept his to himself.
One day, Cleathou the Goblin was gone when Hranding woke. He opened the grate that served for a door, in the ceiling, and departed his prison with a quip. He was on a knoll in the broad daylight, which blinded him. After he had gained what bearings he had, he began running. He did not stop until he found the village from before.
He raced into it, startling many small folk who looked similar to Cleathou. When he saw them he drew the knife the Goblin had not taken, and shouted to be brought before their mayor. When their leader came out, wearing a hat of straw over long locks that curled down to her bosom, he demanded to speak privately.
She brought him through a long hall of earth, decorated with pictures of others of these creatures. When they arrived in a low room, Hranding asked the leader her name, and where his horse was, since he discovered it gone when he woke in the room of Cleathou.
“Holga,” she replied to the first, but questioned him on the horse. When Holga heard, she cursed. “Cleathou the Gobbyt!” she cried.
He shook his head, not understanding. She described Cleathou, and told Hranding of how goblins came in the guise of holbytla into the village to steal children and loot houses. But the Gobbyt was the opposite, pretending to be a goblin and hide among them. He was the lowest of low in the chain of these folk, who she called holbytla.
A horn rang suddenly, blowing through the long tunnel into the room. It rattled the bones. “Cleathou the Gobbyt!” cried Holga, before scurrying out of the hall to gather the village. When Hranding emerged, hundreds of holbytla stood with clubs and daggers of steel, of all sorts. Without ado, they fled out of the houses. It was followed by the sounds of fighting, club on dagger and mace on club. Hranding felt fear when he looked out the gates and found goblins, true ones, running murderously about. But he felt hatred when he saw Cleathou.
He met the Gobbyt with a dagger of the holbytla against his goblin-ish mace. “Where is my horse?” shouted Hranding.
Cleathou laughed, and asked him snidely what he thought of the meal of meat, the feast he ate in the hole of the Gobbyt. It rushed the Eotheod into a frenzy, shouting with a battle-cry and he cut down one after another goblins. He struck, and slashed, and stabbed, until he reached Cleathou.
He spared him no mercy. But as he dealt the death blow, a goblin swung at him from the back, where he could not escape it. It was intercepted by a holbyt that parried with a short sword, nodding his curled-haired head before continuing into the fight.
“What is the name of my saviour?” bellowed the horse-lord. “Tommac,” was the response. He never forgot that holbyt, the third of the three he had met.
The village was defended from the goblins, with the aid of the Eotheod. Yet afterwards, when Holga went to find him, she found him gone, the pony of the Gobbyt vanished. The last the holbytla saw of the horse-lord was hoofprints, following after the goblinsThe Dragon's Bane
In the early age of the mighty people of the horselords of the North, dragons came like a black wave down from the high mountains. Towns were burned to cinders, horse and man alike lit in flames.
Many-a hero returned to the Homehalls of the Eotheod to report that instead of the howls of wolves, screams echoed in the streaming dells and hollows of the river-plagued northlands.
Several gathered great brawlers’ raids to hunt the Dragons into their lofty lairs, to shout the vengeance of the Horse-lords and bathe in glory and blood and the jewels of the scales of their prey. The mightiest and most valiant went, and their kinsmen hoped, but never did they return. For two decades the free men of the vale of the River lived in constant war and fear of the wyrms… until a great champion grew in the line of kings.
Fram son of Frumgar grew in the Homehalls, living in deep resolution, learning the wisdom of the elders. When finally he stepped out, he called the banners and sent the lord of the scouts north. “Return when you have learned all that is to be known about the Dragons,” he said. Two years passed before a man stumbled into the village, mountless, umkempt beard that strung out unevenly. His eyes were bright though, so he summoned Fram to speak. In the depths of the Homehalls they spoke long and hard, until two days later Fram son of Frumgar opened the door onto the brisk of the wind to begin his campaign.
He spoke passionately of the Dragons’ reign for many moments before coming to the news that the scout brought, that the wyrms came of many sorts, great and vast down to as low as five feet. He told the Eotheod about two of the kings of the Dragons, who ruled the army that greedily battled them.
Fram asked his brother Frumea to seek west, in the high mountains of mist, and for himself, he would search the north. One Dragon for each prince, and so it was. Both welcomed all to join, so in the end, lo! there were twenty-seven to each battalion, equipped with the most royal of weaponry and armour.
So the bright-enameled heroes strode forth from the homehalls, to bear witness to the Dragonkings and end their cruel reign. Fram and his eovar crossed great plains and rocks that struck up into the heavens, but as they marched on, the land began a dramatic change. The icestorms swirled and showed them no quarter. And the ground was burning, lava pooling.
They battled drakes, and wyrms of leathery skin, until only five remained of Fram’s eovar. Only then did they come across a mighty fortress of dwarven architecture that the Rohirrim had settled in, made of pumis and runed with sapphire, in the depths of the Southern Grey Mountains. In the bowels of the ruin lay a beast they could hear. . . roaring and speaking in almost-human words.
Fram blew upon his royal horn, shaking the high mountains and the green valleys below. Everything was silent, until the doors of the fortress broke asunder and a wyrm greater than ever before, sharded with scales of green and white, plunged upward through the pass to the remaining Eotheod. He came closer, and closer, and all the folk of Fram fled, until only Fram himself remained to face him.
As in the manner of the Horse-lords, Fram only named the Dragon when they met with sword and claw. “Scatha, great fool of the Shadow!” the prince shouted. Seven times they dueled, neither relenting. Finally, after Fram had broken four of his five priceless weapons of his ancestry, he drove his spear into the scales of the stomach, where he thought he had already attempted. Scatha’s face went slack, his eyes dimmed.
Fram blew upon his horn in victory. He began looting the corpse of his nemesis, fashioning from the dragon-hard scales four weapons to replace the ones that had failed. To add to these, he created a dragonbone horn, for his sons and the sons of his sons; the tongue, for the mightiest bow that ever Men had made; the claw, for a sword unrivaled.
When he returned to the Homehalls, he gave all those to the Eotheod who had lost their homes to the reign of the Dragons. He was hailed as a hero, his name living forevermore as the name of the capital of the Horse-lords: Framsburg.
But Frumea never returned, save for one lonely soldier who said some ominous words: “The Dragon still reigns, we have failed. We have failed. . . .”
But never did the beast bother the realm of the Eotheod again.Landroval
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