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 The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold

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PostSubject: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:34 am

I felt this place was the most appropriate place for this. It's sort of Canaras's introduction. Smile

Dodge wrote:
I am Canaras Greenleafe, son of Hirgon Greenleafe. I do not remember anything about my father, as he has been missing since when I was very young. All I know about him, I have heard from my mother, Caladhiel. She has told me little of him. She speaks of him very sorrowfully, even now, so many years later. She cannot bear to speak of his life, because all that she can remember is his presumed death.

Of what little she has told me, I have learned that he was a man of honor and great strength, who was loved by all the people. He was a fearsome warrior, and fought and slew a great many foes, both in battle and in his many journeys throughout this realm. He was made a Captain of Taurėost, our city, and served well. He and his men defended our city from any and all forces of darkness, and for the first time in generations, the inhabitants of Taurėost felt they were safe in their city after nightfall, and began patronizing our local tavern, The Fairdale Inn. It was there that Hirgon, my father, met Caladhiel, my mother. They courted, fell in love, and were married the autumn after my father and the men of Taurėost were victorious in our war against the orcs of Beleg Mountain. Caladhiel bore for Hirgon two children - myself, Canaras, and Cuilwen, my sister.

After my sister was born, my father journeyed with a small company of men across the sea to the city of Trinst in the realm of Mirth, to aid them in their defense against the forces of darkness. My mother never saw nor heard from him again. We do not know if he made it to Trinst, or if he was lost to the sea, or if he and his men came to some other fate. The people of Taurėost know little of the realm of Mirth, but I have heard whispers of it being even more dangerous than our own lands. I believe that my father and his men made it to Mirth, and that there is somebody who may know what befell my father and his men there.

I have decided to journey to Mirth, but first, I must be fully ready. My father was a mighty man, and I have not his strength or prowess, although his blood does run in my veins. I have always been the best that I know at navigating through the wild precisely and undetected, and have taken a very keen interest in hunting with my bow. My mother, Caladhiel, tells me that I am a natural-born ranger, and she has sent me to the greatest ranger in Taurėost, Beinion Mornenion, to be mentored. He tells me that he is merely a journeyman ranger, and that I will have to see Rasil Ithian in Trinst for more advanced training. I have not told Beinion or my mother of my plans to seek for the story of my father once I get there, and I do not plan to do so.

Soon, I will be ready to begin my journey.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:34 am

Dodge wrote:
The beginning of my apprenticeship with Beinion has been difficult, but I thrive in challenges and Beinion tells me he is pleased with my progression. It has been a month to the day since I left my mother's house with nothing but the clothes on my back, my bow, shield, and sword, and went into the wild with Beinion to be trained in the ways of the ranger.

Since my father's disappearance twenty years ago, the forestlands around Taurėost have not been as safe as they were when he was Captain of the city. In fact, they have become quite dangerous. Orcs have returned in alarming numbers to Beleg Mountain, the foot of which stands 15 leagues from the gates of Taurėost. We have not fallen under any attack from them, but many believe they will return and begin raids once again before the year is out. There are many strong men that live on the outskirts of town, but whether they can defend against a large raiding party is the question that has worried the townspeople for several years now. War is imminent. The orcs will return to Taurėost to seek vengeance against Hirgon Greenleafe, the man that led the soldiers of Taurėost into the heart of Beleg Mountain 25 years ago and slew nearly the entire orc colony. They will come to Taurėost with greater numbers, seeking Hirgon, but will only discover what we already know - my father has not been here for 20 years. Perhaps that is the reason Taurėost has not fallen under attack by the orcs yet? For so long, they have believed Hirgon is still Captain of the city, and are waiting as long as they can bear to amass a force large enough that even he could not defend Taurėost against. We do not know, we have only speculation and rumours from occasional travelers - and fear.

Beinion and I have made camp in a secluded dale, for this day at least - we have not stayed in the same place for more than one day. In fact, more times than I remember being reasonable, we have broken camp in the middle of the night and hastily moved a league or two before sleeping once again. Beinion has not told me why we keep moving, but I believe that the reason is to avoid being discovered by orcs, who explore the forest at night. I believe this is the case because I have detected them, as has Beinion - but he will not tell me so. Perhaps he thinks it would frighten me to know that orcs are nearby. It does not. If I do not want to run across them, I won't. If I do not want them to run across me, they won't. I, like Beinion, am a ranger. If it were my wish, I could live in the very caverns of Beleg Mountain and not be discovered by the orcs.

Beinion has not provided for me any food in our first month in the wild, and I did not bring anything from home. He told me on our first day after leaving the city that I am responsible for feeding both of us. I am thankful for my bow. I have been able to find proper food for both Beinion and I every day. Keeping the two of us fed has not been a problem, however, finding decent pipe weed has been. A week into our trip, my pouch was empty, and that has easily been the most difficult part of my apprenticeship thus far.

I'm not sure what to expect next. Beinion has been showing me many things in the forest and telling me all he knows in that regard, but has not spoken at all about how long he plans for us to be here, or what is next. I anxiously look forward to journeying to Mirth, but while I am with Beinion, I want to learn all he knows, and I do not mind staying in the wild with him for the entire year if he intends it, although it would be to my liking if I could go into town for some pipe weed. I will pack more from now on. This is one of the first of many lessons I will learn as a ranger.


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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:35 am

Dodge wrote:
It was been a fortnight since my last entry, and a month and a half since we left the home-fires of Taurėost, and in that time, my training with Beinion has begun to come full circle.

I am, for tonight, encamped on the Taurėduin (or forest river in the Elvish Tongue) with Beinion, who is fletching by the moonlight. We have not lit a campfire for the last week, in fear of attracting unfriendly attention. Since we cannot cook meat without fire, Beinion has taken the opportunity to teach me which herbs and berries are safe to eat. I learned quickly, to Beinion's delight. We have been eating nothing save these berries and herbs for the last week, and we are beginning to feel famished. Perhaps soon we will be able to make fire and cook some proper meat, but it is doubtful.

The reason we fear to make a cooking fire is because of news we received from two young halflings who had journeyed out into the forest from Taurėost to fish the Taurėduin River - where we happened to be making camp yesterday evening. The account of our encounter with them follows.

"Greetings to you, halflings of Taurėost!" Beinion said to them, as he and I stepped from behind a large oak, startling the two halflings.

"There is no need to be afraid, young ones. We are men of Taurėost. What news do you have from the city?" I asked.

The halflings remained silent for a few moments, looking back and forth between Beinion and I with their hands on their sword-hilts. After a minute, the younger halfling met my eyes and cried, "I know you - you're Caladhiel's boy, aren't you? Canaras, am I correct?"

"You are right, friend," I said.

The younger halfling, who is named August, introduced himself to Beinion and I, as well as his companion, Heledir.

"What are you doing out here?" asked August. "We see naught but the occasional ranger this far from town!"

"Indeed, you see two such rangers before you now," said Beinion, as his eyes met mine and he nodded.

I don't know why, but when he said this, it struck me. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I had been called a ranger by Beinion, my trainer. It is something I have not known before, having the admiration and respect of a mentor, and having said mentor acknowledge this in the presence of others.

Beinion turned back to the halflings and said, "Canaras and I welcome you to camp with us tonight. It is getting late, and the walk back to Taurėost is long. The forest is not safe."

They accepted Beinion's offer graciously, and we began to set up camp not far from the shore of the Taurėduin. Heledir had brought along a large loaf of bread and a jar of jam from home, and generously shared it with Beinion, August and I. After days of eating nothing but berries and herbs, it was perhaps the best meal of my life. I am thankful that we came across these two halflings, as only a halfling would bring such food on an overnight fishing trip. To my great fortune, each of them also brought along their own pouches of pipe weed, which I had not had any of for a month or more, and we sat together and smoked in the twilight, as Heledir told us all the news from Taurėost he could remember.

"Rumor has it that the orcs of Beleg Mountain have returned to their great numbers - there are even more of them now than there were in Hirgon's day! We don't think we'll be safe in the city much longer, and we do not know if our soldiers have the strength to defend the city. We have sent out word to the men of Dunfalas to send help if they could, but we fear that the help they send, if any, will not arrive in time. Alas! August and I have been leaving Taurėost to camp in the forest as often as we can, for we fear that we will be trapped when the city falls under attack."

Beinion sat silently, his gaze cast to the ground at his feet. After a few minutes of silence, he looked up, and said "Canaras and I will return to Taurėost as soon as possible, and together, we will defend her walls. August, Heledir - you two must be on your way to the city at first light tomorrow morning. You each have a sword, and you are needed at home should the city fall under attack."

"I do not know if my skill with a sword is enough to challenge the orcs, sir," August said. "But we will do as you say."

We slept uneasily that night, and the next morning, Heledir and August left for Taurėost. Beinion instructed them to visit his brother, Lairion, to be outfitted with proper bows and arrows.

"Yes sir," they said to Beinion, and bowed.

August gave me his pouch of pipe weed - "I can use Heledir's until I get home," he said. And then they were off.

Beinion and I watched them walking towards home until the trees hid them from our view, and then turned to me.

"Keep your eye on Beleg Mountain for any signs of the orcs moving in large numbers while we are here. We will leave for Taurėost two nights from now. We will travel by dark. Even so, I fear we may not arrive in time."

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:38 am

Dodge wrote:
I awoke the next morning, the day before Beinion and I were to make for Taurėost, alone. In my hand was a note from Beinion.


Make for the city immediately. Last night, after you had fallen asleep, I saw the faint glimmer of torches descending the mountain, and I fear the city will fall under attack late tonight. If you can, catch up to Heledir and August on your way, and bring them safely to the city under your guard.

I have gone to find help, and I hope to not be far behind you, however, I probably will not arrive to Taurėost before it is attacked. You must lead the soldiers. Remember what you have learned with me. I hope to see you soon.


I folded the parchment and slipped it into my pocket. How could Beinion leave me alone, much less expect me to fight a battle with the orcs without him? Why would he run for help on the very day of battle, knowing he would not be in the city when he was needed the most? Whatever help he was going to get had better be good.

Trust Beinion. He is wise and experienced. He knows just what to do in situations like this, my conscience told me.

I stared blankly at the Taurėduin River flowing swiftly away from the city.

"Yes," I muttered to myself. "My mother and my sister are there. The men of the city are valiant, but they have not dealt with a host like this in generations. At the very least, I must hold the city until he gets back, with whatever help he may bring. I may not be a warrior, or a Captain of the city like my father was, but I am a ranger!"

I broke into a run in a beeline towards the city, as I heard a horn sound in the distance.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:39 am

Dodge wrote:
The brilliant greenery of the forest flew by in a blur as I ran as fast as my legs would carry me towards home.

Faster, my senses told me.

My legs were numb and my chest was burning.

"I .. have never .. ran this far .. before," I muttered through heavy breaths.

And never before has your city been in such peril! Fly!

I surged over the crest of a large hill. The trees were thin in this area, and through the open space in the woods, my eyes beheld the glimmer of what must have been a thousand torches nearing the trough of Beleg Mountain. The orcs were on the move! Between the torches and my current location, I saw the soft glimmer of light from Taurėost, nestled beside the Taurėduin, as the air darkened and stars slowly began to appear.

The view quickly disappeared as I sprinted downhill back into the tall trees. I no longer felt exhaustion, as I picked up yet more speed from the descent, and carried the momentum effortlessly as I bounded through the forest. I wagered that I was nearly an hour from home still. My knowledge of my homeland and its topography is extensive, and using it I estimated the orcs to be two hours from the city -- if they were marching and not running.

I hope they aren't running.

Dusk was upon the area, and soon after, the darkness of night overtook the forest. A lesser man would not have been able to navigate the forest, even in the moonlight, much less been able to keep from tripping on the roots of the ancient trees. Even most rangers would have found it difficult to keep my pace. Fortunately, I was not only a ranger, but a local ranger. I knew every root, tree, and shrub of that forest, and the closer I drew to Taurėost, I was able to run even faster.

All of those years spent roaming these woods as a boy are becoming quite the benefit, I thought to myself, as I leaped over a fallen oak.

"Canaras!" a voice cried from over my shoulder.

I stopped and turned around.

"Who goes there? Who is it?" I yelled.

Branches snapped and leaves crackled to my left. I snapped my head to see who approached, with my bow drawn back.

"It's .. it's us!"¯ a familiar voice said, as Heledir and August appeared out of the dark.

"My halfling friends, you are a welcome sight, yet it despairs me to see you have not yet arrived in the city," I said.

"We are lost!" said August. "We tried to take the shortest route instead of just followin' the river, seein' how it is a rather winding river, you know."

"Indeed,"¯ said I.

"Canaras, good sir," Heledir said. "Have you seen any sign of the orcs, sir?"

"They are on the move and making for the city as we speak. Time is short," I replied.

"Aye, sir. We were trying to get back to warn them about an attack, as you had told us the other night! We.. we haven't made it back yet," Heledir said.

"As I noticed," I replied with sarcasm -- wondering why he bothered to tell me they hadn't returned to the city yet when it was quite obvious; then it hit me.

Fool! The city is not on their guard! They haven't any idea what approaches them!

"My halfling comrades -- follow me! There is no time!"

I broke again into a full run, hoping the halflings could keep up. To my surprise, they were able to, at first, but after a few minutes, they started falling back.

"Make haste, friends! Run with all you've got!" I shouted back.

I could not stop and wait. One of us had to make it to the city before the orcs did, or it was doomed -- if it wasn't already. The halflings were now nearly a stone's throw behind me and falling behind fast when I heard August begin singing. I will never forget it. The song was in the old Elvish tongue of my land, which very few are familiar with. I did not understand the words, but it invigorated the three of us. August and Heledir soon were directly behind me again, and we ran faster than we had ever run before. My mind tried to wrap itself around this mysterious song that August sang, and I wanted to ask him about it, but there was no time. The time of battle was upon each of us, and we would soon be tested far more than we had ever been tested before.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:40 am

Dodge wrote:
Pale light from a half-moon shimmered on the Taurėduin's surface, as my halfling companions and I stood on its East shore, preparing to swim across to the shores of the city. Through the trees, we could see lanterns burning behind windows, and the woodsmoke rising from the chimneys of the cottages in which my people made their homes. The city had not been besieged yet, and we were thankful to have beaten the host to the city, for we nearly sure the people had no warning of the coming attack -- and also, I wanted to make certain that August and Heledir could visit with Lairion, the brother of my mentor Beinion, to be properly outfitted for the defense of the city.

I looked upon my halfling friends, as they stood quiet, staring intently across the water at our city. In my company they had shown admirable courage thus far, but they -- nor I -- had been truly tested yet, and I could see in their eyes much uncertainty, in spite of their best efforts to appear fearless.

"My friends,"¯ I said softly, kneeling between them and holding their shoulders firmly. "By my estimate, we have about forty-five minutes before the orcs arrive on our borders. I will see to it that you are outfitted for battle. You will stay with me, and I will not abandon you, no matter what may happen. Do not fear, my friends, but be on your guard! Come!"

I bounded into the cold waters of the Taurėduin and began swimming across. The river adjacent to the city is not very wide, and both the halfings and I were on the opposite shore within three minutes.

"Now, let us make haste, friends. The time of battle is near,"¯ I spoke softly to them, as we entered the forest city, trying not to shiver. Although the summer night air was warm, the river flowed coldly out of a spring in the heart of the nearby range of mountains, from which our enemy was marching.

"Shall we first visit Lairion?'¯ August asked me, as we set foot on the beginning of the city's dusty streets.

"Yes, his house is near. Let us hope he is home,'¯ I replied, as we rounded the corner of the old apothecary towards the South end of the city -- where Lairion lived and also where we expected the attack.

The halflings walked on either side of me as we walked quickly towards Lairion's house. Most of the townspeople were indoors or in the tavern, as it was after dark -- smoking and drinking, with no idea what was to befall the city that night. Still, there were some folk walking about the streets, likely making their way to or from the tavern, or on their way home from a dinner visit with friends. I wanted to raise the alarm, but it was very important that the soldiers of the city were the first to know -- ideally, the Captain -- and not the commoners. The panic that would ensue would only make the city and its people more vulnerable.

"Lairion's house should be just around this bend," I said to my companions, as we approached a dogleg in the street. This would have to be quick, as time grew shorter. The orcs were marching closer and closer to the city with every second that passed.

Moments later, we stood at Lairion's door. Rather, we believed we were in front of his door. The three of us were pretty sure we were at the right house, but there was not time to deliberate. I knocked loudly on the solid door made from red oak wood. I looked down at my halfling friends and raised my eyebrows, gesturing that I hoped we were at the right house. They gave half-hearted smiles and shrugs as we looked back to the door -- it stood motionless.

"We do not have time to be polite," I said to my friends, as I opened the door and entered the house.

It was dark inside -- very dark. August and Heledir followed me through the threshold as the door closed behind us and what small amount of light we had from the street lamps disappeared. My eyes darted back and forth as they tried to adjust to the dark.

"Lairion! It is Canaras, a friend of your brother's! Are you home? Lairion!" I spoke loudly into the dark.

This is not Lairion's house, I thought. Time is short, you must get in contact with the Captain. Go!

"Come, my friends," I said to the halflings, as I reached for the door.

Just then, I heard movement on the opposite side of the room. I reached for my sword, not sure what to expect.


A match ignited in the corner of the room, in the hand of a man who appeared to have fallen asleep in his easy chair while enjoying a late evening smoke. I could not see his face still, but my hand eased from the hilt of my blade.

"Who is it?"¯ the man said tiredly, reaching for a lantern with his match. The lantern ignited and illuminated my companions and I, as well as the man in the chair. I recognized him immediately, as his appearance was similar to Beinion's, although he looked some years older.

"Lairion!"¯ I said, upon recognizing him.

"Yes, yes, I am Lairion, it's true -- but as I asked, who are these people standing in my house?"¯ he replied.

"I am Canaras Greenleafe, son of Hirgon Greenleafe, and these are my friends, August and Heledir. I am a friend of your brother, Beinion," I told him, and bowed.

"Very well, so you are,"¯ he responded, reigniting and taking a drag on his long-stemmed pipe. "A friend of my brother's is welcome here. Please, have a seat and make yourselves comfortable."

He stood and bowed.

"Lairion, we thank you for your hospitality," I said. "Forgive our urgency, but there is little time. The war we have long expected is upon us. The orcs of Beleg Mountain are marching towards the city and will be here within half an hour. Beinion has asked me to bring to you these halflings to be outfitted for battle, and I wish to see it done."

His eyes widened, he suddenly appeared quite awake.

"Indeed, you shall,"¯ he replied. "Have you warned the soldiers or the Captain?"

"Alas, no,"¯ I said. "We have just arrived to the city."

"Very well," he said. "I have just the gear to outfit both of them properly. There are bows hanging on the wall over there, and quivers of arrows I have fletched on that table. Help yourselves to them. Whichever you choose will be yours to keep, my friends. Wait here, I will not be long."

The halfings eyes lit up as they surveyed the fine bows and arrows that Lairion had made himself, displayed proudly for his visitors to see. Lairion smiled at them, and entered another room to get the armor he had in mind. He returned within moments carrying two sturdy leather garments, and small chain hoods. August and Heledir had chosen their bows and a quiver of arrows each, and set them against the wall near the door.

"They may not look like much," Lairion said, handing them each a leather shirt and chain hood, "But they were crafted by the best smiths in Dunfalas, and they will protect you. This leather is thick and strong, and the chains are made from pure silver. I picked them up on my last journey there during the winter. These things are also yours to keep. May they serve you well!"

Their eyes got wide at the mention of Dunfalas. The men of that port city across the mountains carried a very high reputation amongst the quiet people of Taurėost as strong, intelligent, and honorable -- something the people of my city had not felt about themselves since the days of my father.

"I see you have blades,"¯ Lairion told the halflings, as they put on the gear he had given them. "Have you skill with them?"

"Yes, sir,"¯ August told him, looking him squarely in the eyes. "We may not be trained as the soldiers of the city are, but we have enough skill to defend it against the orcs!"

"Aye, sir!" Heledir chimed in. "We did fight off a small pack of wolves last spring in the forest!"

Lairion laughed.

"You killed a pack of wolves?" I asked, surprised.

"Yes," August said. "Well, the six that hunted us, we slew."

"Good!" Lairion said. "For orcs use little more form in battle than wolves do on the hunt. Nonetheless, do take care, for many orcs prove challenging to even the mightiest man."

"I think, sir, that with this fine armor you have given us, and these bows, we are prepared to do proper battle with them," Heledir told him.

"I have no doubts. I am honored to have you defending the city, and I will fight alongside you and Canaras," Lairion said.

"Thank you Lairion,"¯ I said, and bowed. "Now, we must make haste to the gates, and raise the alarm. The time of battle is very close!"

The front door of Lairion Morenion's house flew open, and four citizens of Taurėost, two men and two halfings, bounded down the streets toward the city gates, armed and ready to defend and lay down their lives to protect their people.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:40 am

Dodge wrote:
The streets were mostly empty at ten o'clock at night, but the few who were still about cast strange looks in our direction, as we sprinted towards the battlements at the front gate of Taurėost. The distance from Lairion's house to the main gate was not far, and we expected to arrive in less than five minutes, which we hoped would be in time to give enough warning to the Captain for him to raise the alarm. In fact, the city itself was not very large, so it did not take very long at all to walk from one end to another.

Lying in the forest in the trough of the great Celeborod Mountains, the city spanned about one half-mile from side to side, filled with cottages, small shops, packed dirt streets -- and great, tall trees as well. Our people both loved and respected the forest, and made our town within it, and for that reason, rangers like myself were comfortable to call the city home. For protection against enemies -- mainly the orcs of Beleg Mountain -- the city was surrounded by a moderately sized stone wall, within which the ground was raised for ease of defense, and also so the people of the city could look beyond the walls and see the beauty of the forest. Enemies, especially orcs, could not climb the wall without the aid of a ladder, as it was roughly ten feet high from the outside, but only five feet high from the inside so that the soldiers and archers of the city could defend from within the walls, having the benefit of higher ground and the protection of the stone wall guarding their bodies. Moss covered the stone walls, making it both fair to look upon in the lush forest, but completely impossible to climb.

Three gates stood around the city at the walls -- the west gate, facing the heart of the forest, the east gate, facing the Taurėduin, which was the gate through which the halflings and I had entered the city earlier that evening, and the main South gate, facing Beleg Mountain, from which we expected our attack. The South gate was the main entry-way and it is also where the keep and main battlements stood. The walls in this area where much higher from both the inside and outside, and a large keep stood overtop the South gate, where the Captain of the City and the majority of his soldiers were stationed, and where my companions and I were headed.

We were drawing very near to the South gate, and the streets were getting busier as we approached. A young boy of the city, who had foolishly decided to spend the night camping some miles south of the main gate, had just arrived back, out of breath from running the distance. I stopped to hear what news he brought, and my companions came to a stop beside me to hear what this boy had to say.

He was bent over, breathing loudly, exhausted from the run. Two soldiers from the South gate post stood with him, waiting for him to catch his breath.

"What did you see?"¯ I asked the boy.

He looked up at me and Lairion, and then to August and Heledir, standing before him.

"Torches ... I saw torches -- and I think they were orcs. I ran as fast as I could so they wouldn't get me,"¯ he replied, panting.

"Orcs, you say? Did they see you?"¯ I asked.

"No -- that is, I don't think so. It was dark, and they were marching through the forest loudly, so I don't think they heard me running. They were ... they were marching towards the city!" he said.

"How far away were you when you saw them?" I asked him.

"About an hours walk from the city, but I ran back in much less time, of course. The torches were moving through the trees at a fair pace, but if they are indeed heading in this direction, they are still about a half hours march from the city,"¯ he said.

"Good, than we have just slightly more time than I thought,"¯ I said to Lairion and the halflings.

"You knew of this?" said one of the soldiers, standing up and facing me.

"Indeed I did. I have been camping North of the city for about two months, and I have seen the light of their torches moving towards the city from higher elevations. I have only just arrived, and was on my way to tell the Captain to prepare for battle,"¯ I said.

"Very well, Captain Perrion is in the keep, go to him immediately," the soldier said, kneeling beside the boy and offering a comforting arm over his shoulder.

"I shall, my friend -- and get that boy to his home, he has no more to say," I told the soldier, motioning to my friends and turning away.

My companions and I began running again to the keep, which was very near, when a familiar voice called my name.

"Canaras!"¯ she cried, running towards me. It was my younger sister, Cuilwen.

"Cuilwen, it is good to see you," I said, giving her a strong hug.

"Mother has been worried about you,"¯ she said. "Where are you off to? How long have you been back in the city?"

"I have only just arrived," I said. "Cuilwen, this is not a good time to catch up. The attack we have long feared is at our doorstep, and I must warn the Captain!"

"Oh, dear -- so it has come,"¯ she said, casting her gaze downward, and then looking up, eyes wide. "I will fight!"

"No, my sister, you must stay with mother -- she will need your protection should our defenses fall,"¯ I replied.

"I will make sure they do not! You are not the only one with Hirgon Greenleafe's blood in your veins! I will fight!" she said. There was no discouraging her.

"Very well, Cuilwen. Go home and fetch your bow, and meet me in the keep. Run!"¯ I said.

She hugged me again and ran towards our house. I do not believe that women who are capable should be kept from battle, but I did not want my sister to fight. However, it was out of my hands. Cuilwen was a young, strong, and smart woman, and no doubt was more than capable of fighting alongside the soldiers of Taurėost - but it worried me greatly to know she would be in the battle, nonetheless.

We set off for the keep once again, this time with no delays. The citizens of the city were stirring, as news began to spread of what the young boy had reported. No doubt, Captain Perrion would soon get word of a possible attack, but I knew it to be certain, and wanted to tell the Captain myself.

We arrived at the city wall, where the stairs to the keep stood, guarded by two soldiers, who recognized me.

"Young Greenleafe!"¯ said one of them. "You are welcome here -- the people of the city will be glad to hear you have returned finally!"

"I thank you, Guard of Taurėost, but I do not have time for chatter. I must speak with Captain Perrion immediately," I replied.

"Indeed, Hirgon's son is welcome in the keep. He is in his quarters at the moment. However, your companions must stay here,"¯ said the soldier.

"My countryman, these are my friends, and have come along with me to offer their service in defense of the city," I pleaded.

"I do not doubt you, but I am sorry, Greenleafe -- I cannot breach protocol. They must stay here," the soldier replied.

I could see in his face that he did not believe that it would do any harm to allow Lairion, Heledir, and August to accompany me, but he was right, there were no civilians allowed in the keep. My sister and I were quite possibly the only exceptions. Our father took us to the keep often and we played cards and other games with the other soldiers -- and I even sneaked a few drags from their pipes when they didn't think my father was looking.

"Very well," I told him.

I looked at my friends, who were silent, nodded at them, and took flight up the stairs to the entrance of the keep. The wall around the keep was about fifteen feet from the ground, and was wide so that soldiers and archers could defend the city atop it. The stairs to the keep ran alongside the wall up to a thick, metal door, crafted by the city's blacksmith.

The door was unlocked and I opened it. Inside were a few dozen soldiers, mostly smoking pipe-weed, and sharing jokes. They recognized me, and acted no differently than if a soldier had entered the keep. I made my way up another flight of stairs, made out of stone as the rest of the keep, to Perrion's quarters. His door was shut, and I did not hear anything inside. I hoped that he was inside as I was told. I knocked loudly.

"Enter!" came Perrion's voice from inside the room.

I opened the door, stepped in, and bowed.

"Master Greenleafe!" he exclaimed, standing and extending his hand, which I took. "Have a seat, my friend. What brings you here?"

Perrion was a tall man, aged some fifty years, with long, red hair and a rather bushy beard, which was now being overrun with silver hairs. I had known Perrion since I was a boy, as he was a good friend of my fathers, and fought alongside him in the last war against the orcs. He appeared to have been reading some sort of historical text, which was spread open on his desk, and indulging in a tankard of ale and a pipe full of the Dunfalas Leaf, the local favorite.

"It is good to see you are back among us city-folk!" he said, chuckling. "I understand you have chosen the path of the ranger."

"Yes, that is so,"¯ I replied, finding it difficult not to feel proud.

"You went out into the forest to be trained with Beinion, is that not correct?" he asked.

"Indeed, Beinion and I have been camping throughout the forest, and he has been teaching me all he knows -- which brings me to why I am here,"¯ I said.

"Go on," said Perrion. He looked confused.

"Captain, I have been watchful of Beleg Mountain. Where Beinion and I have camped, we have had many great vantage points of the lands around the area of the city -- and we have seen signs of an army of orcs from the Mountain marching towards our gates. I ran immediately towards the city, and have only just arrived," I told him.

His eyes grew wide, and he sat up in his chair.

"You are sure of this?"¯ he asked.

"Yes, Captain. In fact, word will soon reach you that a young boy has just returned to the city who has seen their torches through the dark of the forest, heading to our gates," I said. "I just passed him on my way to give you word of the coming attack."

"You say you saw torches, and this boy says he also saw torches,"¯ Perrion said. "How do you know the torches were not a legion from Dunfalas? I did send word to them that we may need their help, as I too have been expecting an attack."

"Captain, I saw the torches descending Beleg Mountain. Only orcs roam there - or rangers, and we do not carry torches through the wild. Also, I do not believe they were using the Common Road, as the men of Dunfalas would," I told him.

"How much time do we have, then?"¯ he asked.

"I cannot say for sure, but it is under an hour, and probably closer to half an hour,"¯ I told him.

"Then the city guard must be given word," he said, standing up, and opening the window behind his wall. The Captain peered below at the city guards standing at the gate, gave a heavy sigh, and looked out onto the forest-city of Taurėost, the town that he was charged to defend against all foes at any cost. I wondered privately if Perrion had the constitution to lead the men of the city against the host that awaited us. Anxiety seemed to define Perrion more than anything now, and it worried me. I shifted my hand in my pocket and felt the crinkled parchment on which Beinion had wrote his letter to me the night before -- it seemed so long ago now. Suddenly, Beinion's words in the letter struck me again.

You must lead the soldiers. Remember what you have learned with me.

I must lead the soldiers -- that is what Beinion said, at least. Did he say that because he believed Captain Perrion to be inept? Perrion was a good man, and a longtime friend of the Greenleafes, but as Captain, he was inexperienced in the ways of war.

You must lead the soldiers.

"Captain, let us be forthright. How do you feel?" I broke the silence to ask.

He leaned back from the window and turned his head to look at me.

"How do I feel?"¯ he asked.

"Yes, how do you feel? What are your plans for the defense of the city? Do you feel you can lead us to victory?" I asked, being very plainspoken.

"I ... I am not sure, Greenleafe -- about any of what you ask. I have not faced an enemy since the days that I fought under your father, nor have any of these soldiers. Twenty-five years we have dwelt here in complete peace. I do not know the strength of my men, nor do I know my own," he replied, gazing back out of his window onto the city.

"Captain -- respectfully, I request to be commissioned as an officer of Taurėost, and to be charged with leading the soldiers in tonight's battle," I said.

He looked back again from the window, turned around, and leaned onto his desk, facing me. He looked disheveled.

"Young Master Greenleafe -- never before has any citizen spoken so boldly to me,"¯ he said.

"Nor, Captain, has the city ever been in such peril as we are on this night," I replied.

His eyes met mine and there was a long silence. I was completely unsure at this point how he would react.

"You believe you can do this? You can lead the soldiers of Taurėost against a host of orcs?" he asked, breaking the silence.

"I believe so, fully," I told him.

"Canaras, if any other man, especially one as young as yourself, were to make these claims, I would find it a poor attempt at humor. But the son of Hirgon Greenleafe that you are -- that makes matters different. It will be done. You, as well as I, will lead the good men of the city to victory tonight!" he said, rising and offering a handshake, which I took.

"Now, Captain Greenleafe," he said, his eyes seeming to sparkle with those words, "muster the Taurėthangail!"

(Taurėthangail is to say forest army in the tongue of the elves and is a term rarely used in peacetime)

I exited the Captain's Quarters and bounded down the stairs into the keep, to begin my first true test as not just a ranger, but as a man.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:41 am

Dodge wrote:
“Good of you to drop in for a visit, Master Greenleafe!” said one of the older soldiers sarcastically as I reentered the main chamber of the keep, where a few dozen men were socializing and enjoying some quiet time.

“It is good to see you as well, friend,” I said.

The men's gazes looked from where I was standing up to the staircase, where Perrion was descending, fully armored and equipped for battle. His massive sword hung by his side, and his armor gleamed in the dull light that the torches of the keep offered. The soldiers in the keep rose and stood at attention.

“Men, we are facing grave peril. We must work together to defend the city on this night, or we will fall. I need your help,” I began.

“Canaras Greenleafe has been commissioned by me as Captain. He will be responsible for the defense of the city tonight,” said Perrion.

The men immediately began murmuring amongst themselves.

“At attention, soldiers!” I shouted. “A host of orcs is drawing near, and we must prepare for the defense of the city immediately. You know where to go and what is expected of you. Man the walls. We will fight them off as long as we can from behind them. I will be among you. TO YOUR POSTS, NOW!”

The men scurried. Most of them had set their weapons down beside them in the keep, but there were few who had left them elsewhere, foolishly.

“I will raise the alarm,” I said to Perrion.

“Very well. What are my orders?” he replied.

“Patrol the walls, and give whatever orders you deem necessary. I will be mustering infantry. Do not surrender,” I told him.

“Never,” he said, and smiled, and was on his way.

I bounded out of the keep and down the stairs back onto the ground, where Lairion, Heledir and August were waiting. I could hear Perrion shouting orders along the battlements above.

“Well?” asked Lairon.

“I have been commissioned as Captain. I am charged with the defense of the city tonight. I need your help,” I said to him and the halfings.

“Anything,” said Larion, and the halflings nodded in agreement.

“Then come, my friends,” and I ran towards the Inn, where no doubt there would be soldiers drinking, as well as others who may be capable and willing to fight. As we ran, most of the ordinary citizens were shutting themselves inside their homes, having heard the confirmation of the rumors that the city would soon be under attack.

We soon reached the Fairdale Inn, the local 'watering hole' so to speak, and entered. Clamor and laughter hit us as we opened the door, and we walked in seemingly unnoticed. Most of those who were here were already drunk.

“You will call on these men to fight?” Lairion whispered to me.

“You have any better ideas?” I whispered back, and he shrugged.

The barkeep offered us a drink, but we declined, and he went back to talking with the men and a few dwarves at the end of the bar, appearing taken aback by our declination. One of the dwarves peered at me from behind the tankard which was raised to his face, and quickly looked back to the wall behind the bar. Dwarves were not common in Taurėost, but it was not unusual to see a few of them at the Inn, for they did use the Common Road on whatever journeys they may be on, and it was hard to resist a stop into the forest-city for ales at the Fairdale Inn. Where their loyalties lie, our people do not know, nor particularly care. They seem to be merely interested in the riches of the mountains near our city, and did not trouble us.

“Well?” Lairion whispered to me, as he nudged my side. I had been thinking about the dwarves for a few moments and lost track of what I was supposed to be doing.

“May I have your attention!” I shouted to the room.

The din became quiet, as some who recognized me hushed those around them. Whispers of ”It's Greenleafe! Quiet!” shot through the room.

“Thank you,” I said, satisfied with the now very low noise level. “My countrymen, friends, and soldiers of our city – we are in grave danger.”

“Orcs!” an older man interjected, quite drunk and being very rude, although correct.

“You are right, good sir, but let me finish please,” I began again. “The orcs of Beleg Mountain draw near to our city. We have very little time until the battle will begin. Soldiers of Taurėost, and any willing to fight, fetch your weapons and report to the South Gate immediately! Make haste!”

There was a great clamor as the mostly-drunk men scrambled to leave the Inn and prepare to defend the city. It had gone better than I expected. The room emptied quickly, some forty men had been drinking in the Inn, and many more no doubt would be already reporting from their homes to the mainline of defense, the South Wall, where I hoped Perrion would be properly preparing the defenses and battle strategy. The barkeep shouted to the men leaving the door, apparently worried more about the men paying their tabs then defending the city.

“Friend, this is not the night to be worrying about such things,” I told him.

Apparently, he did not like what I had to say.

“Not the night to worry? I am accountable for this ale! If Mr. Ensley finds out I gave out a hundred free ales, he'll have my neck!” he shouted.

“Mr. Ensley is a delegate of the city and he will understand the situation,” I replied.

“I assure you, he will not! I will lose my job, boy! Who is to feed my children? I need that money!” he shouted back to me, even though the room was quite empty by now.

“Good sir -” I began, but was suddenly interrupted by a loud slam at the end of the bar. A dwarf was sitting there, alone, with his fist on top of a bag of coins. He was looking at the barkeep, and took a long drag from his pipe, and then spoke.

“This should suffice,” the dwarf said, in a gruff, brogue accent.

The barkeep was dumbstruck by the unexpected generosity of the dwarf, as were my companions and I.

“Master dwarf, that is very kind of you,” I told him. “What is your name?”

“Dhrokad - that is my name, and yours is Canaras Greenleafe,” he said.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I have been to this Inn many a time in my days, boy. I was once friends with a man named Hirgon. You look a lot like him,” he said, with a glint in his eye. I knew what he was implying.

“Well, I see. Thank you, Dhrokad, but we must be going. May you find safety tonight!” I said, and started for the door.

“I will fight,” he said, and I turned around. “Yes, I will help you in this battle. Do you not know? We dwarves have had more dealings with those foul orcs than your people – and more to avenge, too. If by helping you, I can kill orcs, you've got yourself another soldier.”

“Very well, Dhrokad. It is an honor to have you with us,” I replied, and bowed.

“Let's go,” said Lairon, speaking for the first time in minutes.

“Yes, come. To the keep!” I said, making swiftly towards the door, and August, Heledir, Lairion, and now Dhrokad the dwarf followed me into the streets.

My friends and I headed yet again for the keep, this time to stay and do battle. The people of the city had prepared themselves in what ways they chose – some of them locked their doors, turned off all lights, and hid. Others waited with weapons by their doors – prepared to defend their homes, but apparently not willing to join the efforts at the South wall. Yet others had instructed their wives and children to stay at home and hide while they put on old armor and made for the South wall, carrying hand-me-down swords and axes. These men did not appear well trained, nor did I believe they would intimidate many orcs, but their bravery and willingness to sacrifice for their countrymen would, in my mind, set them on the same level as any trained soldier of the forest-city of Taurėost, and I was well pleased with each soldier that I saw making his way for the city walls.

Upon my arrival to the keep, Cuilwen, my sister, was waiting near the wall, with a bow slung over her back and a quiver of arrows. I motioned to my friends to wait a minute and I ran to her.

“Cuilwen,” I said, embracing her.

“My brother – do not worry for me. I will stay with the archers, and we will give those orcs volleys like they have never seen,” she said, as I released my embrace.

“Cuilwen, you are a brave woman,” I said to her, noticing one of father's old swords sheathed at her waist.

“Canaras, if only I had your bravery – how proud father would be to see you!” she said.

“Aye, perhaps, I can only hope to fight half as well as he would. Make no mistake, my sister, our father would be proud to see you, as well. Where is mother?” I asked.

“She is safe in the house. She has snuffed all the lights and has a sword ready. She will wait out the night until the battle is decided,” she told me.

“Very well. Cuilwen – be careful. And try not to use this,” I said, tapping her sheath. Cuilwen blushed.

“I don't intend to, I carry it only in case the wall should be breached and I must use it,” she said.

“Very well. Do us proud, fight wisely, and be on your guard. I love you,” I told her, embracing her once more.

“I love you too, brother, and I bid you the same. I believe in you, and so do the men,” she said.

I smiled and turned away. Her words meant so very much to me. I thought of my father, and wondered how things would be if he were here. If he were, the city would feel quite secure – they trusted in his skill and ability. Hirgon was a rock to Taurėost, he would keep them safe – that's how they would feel if he were here tonight.

At that moment, my sister's words hit me. I looked to my friends, who were staring at me intently, ready to fight beside me – to die beside me, if it came to that. I had only met them within the past day, and they were fully prepared to lay down their lives for the city, to follow my command in the fight of our lives. Even August and Heledir, the two halflings, looked as brave as any soldier could. These people did believe in me, as much as they believed in my father. I was the only one in the city who was doubtful of my ability. I couldn't let my countrymen down. I had to lead our people to victory – they believed with all their heart that I was there to do that, and if we were to achieve victory, I would have to believe that, also. If I did not believe we could win, then we would suffer defeat.

You must lead the soldiers.

Beinion's words returned to me. He did not mean for me to be the Captain of the city in a defeat; he meant that I must lead them to victory.

“My friends,” I said to August, Heledir, Lairion, and Dhrokad. “Let us defend this city together.”

“Yes!” said Dhrokad, almost groaning it.

“I am ready, sir!” said August.

“I'm with you all the way,” said Heledir.

“My friend, I will fight beside you 'til the end,” said Lairion.

“I am grateful to have each of you along. Come! Let us prepare for battle – for battle is now upon us!” I said, and we made our way up the stairs, to the top of the South wall, where Taurėost's soldiers were already at their posts, prepared for the fight. From the top of the battlements I looked across the forest and saw the faint glow of torches approaching slowly from the South. Indeed, the time had come.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:42 am

Dodge wrote:
I stood atop the South wall's battlements alongside my new friends, and about two hundred soldiers and armed citizens who were committed to fighting for the city's sovereignty against the host of orcs before us. The torches were close now – about five hundred yards away, and battle was to happen within minutes.

I looked to my right and saw the keep, torchlights glaring in the windows, some soldiers still bustling inside, arming themselves for battle, with archers atop the edifice ready to fire upon any orcs who dared to approach the city gate during battle. The citizens of Taurėost, as well as the soldiers themselves were quite skilled with the bow. Most citizens hunted with them – if not for livelihood, at the very least, for sport. Most of our city's children were better marksmen with bows then were any men that we knew of in our realm. Those who were on top of the city's keep were also preparing various defensive devices to deploy from atop it – flame was at ready for the archers to light their arrows with. Several vats of boiling water were ready to be poured onto the orcs, with the intent of scalding any who made it near our city's gate. Heavy granite stones were amassed there as well. Cuilwen was atop the keep, and I knew that there she would be safer than she would at any other post.

I looked to my left and saw scores of Taurėost's soldiers, armed with their swords and spears. Most of them also carried bows and a quiver of arrows to rain upon the onslaught of orcs which we were to endure. Perrion was pacing the wall, instructing the soldiers, making certain that their positions were just to his liking. His performance thus far had been pleasing to me, but the battle had not yet begun.

There stood Dhrokad, August, Heledir, Lairion, and I, near to the keep, on the South wall adjacent to it. I was armed with my fine bow, and two swords. I carried with me a spare dagger should one of my swords fail. I did not have much for armor, only my ranger's clothing. I would have to make due without heavy, sluggish armor that my father would have worn in this situation.

August and Heledir were armed with the swords which they already had prior to meeting Beinion and I. How they came about those swords, I know not, but on each of them were inscribed runes of the ancient tongue of the Dorongwaith, a people that dwelt to the North of our city many centuries ago, and had since dissipated. The halflings wore the Dunfalas armor which Lairion had given them. Dhrokad had on a handsome outfit made mostly of heavy cloths, but also wore a light chain-mail shirt and a thick leather cap. He was armed with a very heavy axe. Lairion was also dressed lightly, almost as a ranger, although a ranger he was not. He was armed with a very long sword that appeared to be quite light, as he was holding it with only one arm. I did not know how well he would fight, but since he was Beinion's brother, I was optimistic that he would fight quite well. He did, after all, fletch and make some armor in his home, so that gave him credit in my eyes as a respectable fighter.

My friends looked at me in silence, but their expressions were quite telling. I had no doubts that each of them, even Dhrokad, whom we had just met in a tavern, would fight with me to the death. I felt quite confident with them by my side. I certainly felt like the five of us would make quite the team if we stuck together, so I expressed to them the importance of this.

“My friends – the time of battle has come. I thank you for joining me in this battle and I hope that we shall make it through the night, and have victory. Stay close to me, all of you. We shall fight together, and we may die together. Let us support one another, my friends. I believe the five of us make quite a formidable force, and that we shall find victory fighting together,” I told them.

“Aye, young Greenleafe – you're just like your father was. Always reachin' out, speakin' o' the importance o' folk's comradery, he was. He brought the people together, that is most certain. I will fight with you with great honor – nay, in his honor, my friend,” Dhrokad said.

I did not know that he knew my father that well, in spite of his mentioning him when we met at the Inn. I was curious about Dhrokad's relationship with my father, but unfortunately, there was little time for conversation. The torches were quite near now and the orcs would be within bow range in just a minute or so.

“Canaras,” Lairion begain, “you are, of course, right. It is paramount that we stay together no matter what. Should we do this, I also believe that victory can be achieved, and if the fates allow for it, that none of us should fall to these foul creatures. We shall fight beside you, friend. Lead your people, Canaras, and know that we have your back.”

Heledir spoke up -- “You know where we stand, sir. We stand with Canaras Greenleafe. We are your comrades to the death,” he said, with his hand on his heart.

The two halflings, Lairion, and Dhrokad all gave me a nod, their hands on their weapons, and the halflings preparing to draw their bows for the opening volley, which was only moments away.

I looked out into the forest South of the city. The torches were only a hundred yards away now, at most. It was almost time for me to give the orders for the opening volley of arrows. Cuilwen and the archers would serve us well during this battle, I thought. I was thankful to have her there with the archers, and was confident that my sister would both be safe and fight well for the city on this night.

I looked up to the moon, just a thin crescent being covered and uncovered by wisps of thin grey clouds passing swiftly by, reflecting a dull, silver luminescence which resonated ever-so-slightly in our forest realm. The treetops swayed gently with the light breezes which came from the North, where the river that flowed by the city, the Taurėduin, was wider and the weather was fouler. The torches drew near.

I closed my eyes for one moment of peaceful thought before the battle was to begin. My mind immediately raced back to when I was younger, but only a bit younger. I was seventeen, and it was a warm summer night. I was taking a liking to spending time in the forest, and I had met a red-haired girl in the food shop that day. She and I noticed one another while picking up whatever was on the lists that our mothers gave us. As for me, I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. She was the fairest, most radiant jewel my eyes had ever beheld. Her face spoke kindness and compassion to me, without her mouth saying even a word. Her red hair made me think of the stunning beauty of the autumn forest. Her soft brown eyes made me think of the autumn forest also – and her face – my, her face! – I couldn't say enough about just how fair it was, indeed. Quite simply, she was a stunning sight, and I was absolutely paralyzed. I could not take my eyes off of her, nay, I could hardly move!

After some time of simply gazing at each other as we perused around the shop, I mustered the constitution to introduce myself to her.

“Good day, my lady – I am Canaras Greenleafe, son of Hirgon Greenleafe. I apologize for my forwardness, my lady, but I could not help but to notice you. Of all the beautiful women that walk this world, my lady, you must be the fairest of the fair. Pray, tell me your name,” I told her.

It was somewhat awkward to say such things to a lady, as to be honest, I had never spoken to a woman before, at least to a woman of interest – much less, to a woman so fair a jewel. Though, something about her simply made my heart pour itself out in my very words.

“My name is Aeariel,” she told me, quite timidly. Her voice was the most mesmerizing imaginable, albeit sounding quite nervous.

I feared that I may have been to zealous.

“My lady Aeariel, it is quite the privilege,” I said, bowing. Normally, this would be when a gentleman would take the hand of a lady and kiss it, but I feared she may have been taken off guard by me, so I opted to take a less forward approach. She was the fairest creature I had ever beheld, and I wished not to have her dislike me.

“Yes, same to you as well, Canaras,” she said, turning to leave. I could not control my words any longer.

“My lady, may I have the honor of taking you to the river shore for supper? I shall prepare for you quite the fine meal, I promise! It would be a great time. What say you?” I asked, unsure if I had made the right decision.

“Canaras, I would be glad,” she said, smiling. I could hardly stand without falling, and nearly dropped the loaf of bread and jar of preserves that I was holding.

We agreed to meet at the East gate at seven o'clock the next evening, and she left. I finished the errands which my mother gave me with the biggest smile that the realm had seen in a thousand years. All that I could think about was the red-haired beauty who had agreed to fellowship with me the next evening. The world seemed complete.

“Canaras?” said a man's voice, next to me.

I suddenly realized that I had been daydreaming of a love past – it happened from time to time, when I opened up to the deepest of thoughts and searched my feelings for the most meaningful memories. I could not help that Aeariel was often the only memory I could think about most of the time.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:42 am

Dodge wrote:
“Canaras!” said the voice again. It was Lairion's.

“Yes, comrade?” I asked, pretending that my soul had not drifted away for a minute, as it had.

“Are they not close enough to begin firing, Captain?” asked Lairion, referring to the orcs and smiling, with his large bow of red oak at ready. Fell voices, orc cries echoed through the pines.

I looked out from beyond the wall – indeed, they were close enough. In fact, if we did not fire in just a moment, they would fire on us.

“One moment, Lairion,” I said to him. He took an arrow from his quiver and put it on his bowstring.

The orcs were about fifty yards away now – it was no secret to anybody in or around the city what was going on. I decided that now was the time to give the order to fire. I glanced up to the stars, as the silver clouds rolled across the sky. The orcs were quite audible and visible now, they were chanting some sort of foul cadence and had formed ranks. There appeared to be at least a thousand of them, meaning we were at five to one odds, at best. We had the advantage of the city's pristine battlements, as well as our skill with bows and courage with the sword. I was confident that with myself at the helm, and Perrion serving as my pseudo-executive officer, the city would victorious – although I knew the battle ahead of us would be quite the challenge, and that if victory were achieved, it would be costly. Nonetheless, it was time to begin the fight.

“Ready your bows!” I shouted, quite loud enough for all of Taurėost's soldiers to hear.

In unison, the Taurėthangail, and the citizens who had volunteered to fight loaded their bows with arrows. Those on top of the keep dipped their incendiary arrows in flame, and drew their bows. The orcs had halted some fifty feet from our walls and were reaching into their crude quivers for arrows. If we were to make the first shot, it must be now. All awaited my command. I took a deep breath.

“FIRE!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. At once, the Taurėthangail unleashed their bows, and rained a volley on the orcs. Our marksmanship was excellent. Most of our shots hit and slew orcs, in spite of the heavy tree cover surrounding Taurėost's walls. By my estimate, one hundred orcs fell from our first volley. The orc captain, a foul looking beast in the front and center of their lines, wasted no time. Wisely, he elected not to leave his soldiers vulnerable to Taurėost's excellent archers. He held his arm high in the air and immediately gestured to fire towards the city walls.

“Shields!” I shouted amongst the battlements, “shields up!”

Their volley was much less volatile than ours had been. In spite of the great number of orcs present, only about two hundred of them carried bows. Their crude arrows were not made well, and weren't even close in quality when compared to the arrows that the citizens of Taurėost fletched regularly. Nonetheless, their arrows were functional, and many of them arced through the trees and found their mark. Though not many, some of the city's soldiers on the battlements were hit. One man that was standing close to me was hit in the shoulder and fell to the stone surface, writhing in pain. I hoped that Cuilwen was alright.

A great calamity recaptured my attention. I looked away from my wounded comrade and out to the orc army, which was now charging towards our walls, especially towards the city gate.

“Fire at will!” I shouted. My order was reverberated by officers throughout the formations on the battlements. Archers immediately began sniping any orc against whom they had a good shot. I reached over my shoulder for my bow and began unloading my quiver into the orc formations, which were now scattered around our walls, trying to climb up and also taking their shots at us. It was then that I began realizing just how advantageous Taurėost's battlements were. From the top of the keep especially, the city guard had excellent position to defend against a much larger army.

August, Heledir, Lairion and I continued shooting into the mass of orcs, while Dhrokad waited patiently with his axe, should any orcs breach the city walls. The enemy's attempt to accomplish anything while rushing the city walls were appearing to be quite fruitless, as our city's forces, in spite of the odds, were picking off orcs with ease. Perhaps our position on the defensive, coupled with our excellent collective marksmanship, would be the decisive factor in this battle.

The orcs were many in number, and the battle went on like this for some time. They would rush the walls but many would fall to our archers. A handful of the city's soldiers would be hit by orc arrows but in comparison to their losses, we were on pace to win by attrition. I was confident, until I heard a man running up the stairs behind the wall. I turned around and it was Perrion.

“Captain Greenleafe!” he breathed heavily.

“What is it, my friend?” I asked.

“These orcs are not alone. Another group is assaulting the western wall, and we have only a few men holding the gate! They cannot hold much longer! The wall gives them cover but the orcs will break through the gate at any moment!” Perrion said.

I had been a fool. For some reason, I had never thought that the orcs would attack any other gate besides the South gate. The orcs, however, knew our city layout, and they knew that we were at the greatest advantage when attacked at the South wall. They were wise to attack the West wall – and I had been unwise to leave it practically unprotected.

“Perrion – the Southern front of Taurėost is secure. Come with me, and together, we will hold the West wall,” I said to him.

“Let's go!” he said.

“We're coming with you. You cannot fight that mob alone,” said Lairion. Dhrokad, August and Heledir nodded.

“Very well, let us fly!” I said, turning towards another soldier who had been near us. “Soldier, make for the top of the keep. There you will find Cuilwen Greenleafe. Relay to her this message – that she is in charge of defense of the South wall, and that Captain Greenleafe has gone to the West wall.”

“Yes, Captain, right away!” said the soldier, turning and running for the keep.

“Come on!” I shouted to my friends. The six of us dashed down the South wall's stairs and made for the West wall. We caught sight of smoke rising from that area of the city. I feared that the orcs had already breached the gate.

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PostSubject: Re: The Tale of Canaras Greenleaf Retold   Sat May 16, 2009 11:43 am

Dodge wrote:
Perrion, Lairion, Dhrokad, August, Heledir, and I ran towards the West gate. Six of Taurėost's oddest soldiers were flying to defend the city from a major threat assaulting an underprotected post. Perrion, the former Captain of the city guard; Canaras, the son of a late city Captain whose reputation set the precedent for his son, and was commissioned by Perrion to lead the city in the battle; Lairion, the brother of a ranger trainer who fought alongside Canaras simply because of his brother's compassion for him; August, a young halfling who had met Canaras in the forest a few days prior and followed Canaras' lead no matter what the cost may be; Heledir, a longtime friend of August, who would not be parted with his friend no matter what the stakes were, including charging into a battalion of orcs; and Dhrokad, a mining dwarf who had no part in the wars of Taurėost, but simply wanted to help the son of Hirgon Greenleafe – all of these sprinted towards the Western wall behind Canaras, the young ranger who had been charged with the city's defense against the greatest onslaught of enemies in the cities history.

As we ran, I had a few moments to think to myself – mostly about how things had come to this. Just a few days prior, I was being trained in the ways of the ranger by Beinion Morenion, the most skilled ranger in our realm, only to find a note from him one morning instructing me to make haste back to the city to defend it against a host of orcs. It occurred to me then that I hadn't heard from my trainer since then. He said that he would try to make it on time but that he doubted it. Where may he have gone, and to do what? Perhaps to muster troops to help with the fight? I'd have much rather simply had him beside me in this fight. His presence alone was worth more to me than his bringing allies to fight at the expense of being quite late to battle. The orcs which were assaulting the city could be managed, but quite simply, it would have been quite nice to have a skilled fighter such as Beinion by my side in this battle, to help ensure our safety. I feared not of the outcome of this battle, but only for my life and the lives of my friends.

Perhaps, however, I had underestimated Beinion – or even worse, underestimated the threat that the orcs posed. Granted, they had not stood much of a chance against the city's soldiers, especially given our advantageous position atop the battlements of the forest-city, but as I had just found out, they had tricks of their sleeve, including attacking the Western wall, with which my friends and I were on our way to deal with. I feared what else the orcs may have planned in order to create chaos in the city. I was fairly certain they had already broken through the Western gate, and I feared what kind of damage they may have done in that area. My mother was near – I had her to think about, but more important was the welfare of Taurėost's citizens.

Smoke wafted into the night air, but from battle it was not – it was from my pipe. I sat alongside the Taurėduin, my mind consumed by the encounter that I had earlier in the day with the red-haired beauty in the shops. She had agreed to dine with me the next night, and I simply could not think of any other things but her.

Her gaze, her face, her hair, her voice – they all weaved the perfect tapestry of beauty to me, the vision of which demanded my every thought. I took a long, solemn drag from my wooden pipe. At seventeen, I was not yet allowed to have a pipe – by my mother at least. The city had no laws for the smoking of tobacco, and my friend, Captain Perrion, had taken me to the pipe and tobacco shop and purchased a handsome wooden pipe for me, as well as a pouch of Dunfalas leaf. The men of Dunfalas, the port city on the other side of the mountains, grew quite the fine leaf. It's aroma was seductive and the smoke tasted as fine as pipe weed could, with a hint of chocolate and honey. I puffed smoke rings out over the river. It was a calm night.

I thought only of Aeariel, to whom my heart was already quite lost. I tried to think of the best food to bring to our supper that we had planned for the next evening. I would have to make her think well of me, for I had to win her interest. It seemed that my purpose was to pursue her.

A loud cry broke my concentration and I returned to the present. My comrades and I had arrived to the immediate area of the West gate to find carnage and disarray. Several houses had been set ablaze by the orcs, who had breached the gate and were making their way amongst the city, killing any they encountered. The cry that I heard was of an old man that I grew up down the street from, named Glafast. He was always quite kind to me as a boy and young man, and now he lay dead on the dusty street, his neck hacked by the crude sword of a nameless, foul orc. A dull, old sword lay clattered on the street beside his outstretched hand, and the group of orcs, perhaps fifty in number, began marauding through the city. My mother was in danger, she lived very near to where we were. The citizens were all in danger. Duty called and my instincts took over.

“Spread out, my friends, hunt down these beasts and slay them, before they harm any more people!” I told them.

I felt uncomfortable sending the halflings out without my protection, but they were prepared and I was confident that they would manage. Dhrokad, Perrion, Lairion, August, and Heledir all split up and began combing the streets for the orcs that had broken in. Several men came out of their houses bearing swords and approached me.

“Greenleafe, they have broken in!” they said.

“I see that,” I said to them, “Secure this gate immediately – more will be coming once they get word that this gate is breached!”

“Right away sir!” they said to me.

“You!” I said to one of the men, “fly to the South gate and give word to Cuilwen that they must CHARGE the orcs there. This must be done immediately or they will make for this gate and enter the city, and then we would have more on our hands than we can handle.”

“I'm already on my way!” said the man, who was running backwards towards the South gate as I finished instructing him, and then turning to a full forward sprint.

“Get that gate secure quickly, gentlemen – they are coming!” I said to the other men, working to patch up the gate. The gate was not large, but the hinges had been busted out and needed repair – and I wasn't confident that could be completed before the orcs would send a battalion to it.

I turned to look into the city. Only a few of the buildings had been set fire. My friends were not in sight and were most likely engaged in fights. I would need to help them hunt down the orcs that had broken in and then make for the South gate to help the rest of our soldiers in the fight that was to take place outside the city walls in an effort to distract the orcs from the West gate. The soldiers of Taurėost were at an advantage amongst the city's battlements, but outside the walls would be another story, and I feared deeply for Cuilwen's safety.

I dashed into the streets in search of the group of orcs that had broken in. I hoped that they had not split up or this hunt would take a lot longer than I wished. Commotion seemed to be coming from the northeast, so I made a left – nothing. I sprinted down the block and looked to my right. Nothing. I sprinted another block and looked again to my right, and saw a the mob three blocks away. It appeared the orcs had stayed together and were engaged with my five friends.

I sprinted as fast as I could. As I drew closer, I saw that all five of my friends were alright, and were fighting hard, having taken down several orcs, but were engaged in a ferocious fight with some forty more. They were in trouble. I pushed even harder. Moments later, I charged into the fray, with my longswords drawn.

The fight was frantic. My friends and I were greatly outnumbered, but thankfully, the narrow street gave us an advantage in that only so many orcs were facing us at a given moment. These orcs were talented and well trained, however. They blocked my attacks more than I had expected they might, and quite often, I found myself ducking or blocking several of their swings in succession before having an opportunity to make a quick lunge with my sword and cut one of them down. After some time, only eight orcs were left standing, and my five friends and I were still going. The orcs dropped to their knees.

“We surrender!” one of them said.

“I care not for your plea of surrender after you murdered citizens of Taurėost! Pick up your weapons and fight, lest you die unarmed, for kill you I shall, whether you have surrendered or not, foul scum!” I yelled at them. My anger was at its utmost after seeing my old neighbor murdered in the street.

They reached for their weapons and stood up. Dhrokad hewed one in the abdomen and promptly blocked a lunge by another orc's sword. He took a massive swing and cleaved the orc nearly in half. Lairion engaged one of the orcs and clashed swords with him, and after several clangs of metal, kicked the orc in the face, knocking him to the ground. Lairion then stabbed him in the chest, soiling his garments with the black blood of orcs. Perrion engaged one of the orcs, winning a sword battle with him, slicing him across the neck, and swiftly turned to meet a charging orc with an overhead cleave of his sword into the orc's skull.

The halflings each had ducked sword attacks by two orcs and used their small size to their advantage. They dove beneath the orcs and stabbed their stomachs, twisting their blades to ensure that their work was done. Indeed, these halflings were cut out for fighting, as they had told me earlier. That left one orc and myself. He was a strong one. His sword fighting skills were exceptional. We exchanged several clangs of our swords until the orc caught his blade under my hilt, slicing my hand and disarming me. He lunged for a finishing stab into my stomach, but thinking quickly, I spun around the orcs side, drew my knife, and slit his throat. I was thankful that my idea worked, as the orc probably knew better than to allow an opponent such a move. He probably assumed I would pause in shock of being disarmed and having my hand cut, but I am no such man to do so.

I picked my sword up off the ground and examined my hand. It was lacerated severely from the crude orc sword. Lairion reached to the bottom of his tunic and ripped off a peace of the green cloth, tying it around the middle of my hand, covering up the laceration between my thumb and the rest of my fingers.

“This should suffice while the battle goes on,” he said.

“Thank you Lairion. My friends, you have fought well – now, we must make for the South gate. I have instructed them to charge into the orc army to keep more of them from entering the city through the West gate. I fear for them, for we are greatly outnumbered in a direct fight. This time, there are no walls to protect our soldiers – but we must make sure the citizens are protected. Come!” I told them, and we sprinted for the South gate.

“We'll keep those foul beasts busy, that much is certain!” shouted Dhrokad.

It did not take us long to make it back to the South gate, and indeed my orders had reached Cuilwen, who had ordered the troops to take the offensive. Citizen soldiers had reinforced the battlements and had taken the role of archers, and the professional soldiers were doing their job amongst their host, which still had them outnumbered.

“For Taurėost!” I cried, as my companions and I sprinted through the open South gate and joined the fray.

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