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B2MeM 2011: Haradhrim Nights  by Mirach

Day 16:

Challenge - Arnor: A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins...

Write a story or poem that starts with this line or create a piece of art that reflects this line.

Dance of Blades

A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins. Nobody knew how old they were, who build them. The desert swallowed villages, even whole cities, while new grew again and again. The ones who built this city were long forgotten, only the remains of crumbling walls speaking about their presence.

Thump… Thump… Thump…

In those ruins, the drum was beating with a dark, steady rhythm and a circle of torches marked a broad space in the middle of the former square. The flames flickered in the darkness. Silhouettes of men could be seen right beyond the circle, silent like death. Their shadows danced on the walls – ghostly dancers in a forgotten city.

In the middle of the circle, the dark-eyed man waited, and the sabre in his hands seemed alive with the reflections of the flames. But his eyes looked cold and dead.

"The blood of my sister calls for the blood of her murderer," he spoke, and his voice was clear and sharp like the steel in his hands.

"Blood for blood," echoed the circle of men, and the sound of many drawn sabres was heard. The circle suddenly contained of blades. Thorongil was led inside it, and there his hands were released.

"Only one of us will leave the circle alive," the man continued in the same tone.

"Death for death," the circle replied.

Thump…Thump… Thump. Thump. Thump, thump, thump…

The rhythm of the drum quickened. Thorongil tensed, and cast a quick glance around, without letting his opponent out of his sight. There was a cold determination in the man's eyes when he raised his sabre. Thorongil had no weapon. It was clear whose death they expected.

Thump, thump, thump, thump…

The two men circled around each other. Slow steps. Eyes locked, captured in the short moment of balance before a fall.

Thump. Thump…Thump…

The time slowed. Like an attacking cobra, the sabre thrust forwards.

It missed – just a few inches.

In a quick turn, it attacked again.

Missed – a hairbreadth.


A moment of confusion. Blood and fire and bodies on the ground, wrestling.

The blade hit his arm, but Thorongil managed to tackle his opponent as he shifted his balance in the thrust. He could not hold him though – the man was strong and sinewy. Dust rose around them. Thorongil let go of him, and jumped away.

When he rose from a somersault, the sabre was in his hands.

The circle narrowed menacingly. Thorongil froze in the movement.

Thump, thump, thumpthumpthump

His opponent raised his hand, and the circle stopped too. Not leaving his eyes from Thorongil, he extended his hand… and in a moment he held a sabre from one of the men in the circle.

Thump. Thump… Thump…

They circled again, even opponents this time.


Metal hit metal. The clear song of swords. Sweat running down the temples. Two figures, two shadows moving in the circle of flames.

A dance with death.

A fight till last breath.

The feeling of life on the edge of a blade.

Like the flaming eyes of a lion in night were the stars that rose in the sky. Drops of blood in the dust. Drums. Heartbeat. Dance of blades.

And the night held her breath…

Thorongil stood, his opponent was on the ground. Quickly, before the man could rise, he put the blade to his throat.

The drum quietened. The sputtering of torches sounded loud in the silence.

Their eyes met, unwavering.

"I did not kill your sister…" Thorongil said quietly.

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