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B2MeM 2011: Haradhrim Nights  by Mirach

Day 20: Misty Mountains

Challenge: Write a story or poem or create an artwork in which a character unaccustomed to acting as a leader must make an important decision.

Old Man’s Decisions

Nadhir watched Kadar and his group of men depart. He sighed. He was older than most of them. He followed Kadar’s father when Kadar himself was just a boy and Rasha an innocent little girl. How the times change… Boys grew up and became men. Men grew old and weary… For many times he thought he should settle down, but somebody had to keep an eye on Kadar, didn’t he? But when the old survive and the young die, it is hard to keep the will to go on. Rasha was dead, and Kadar rode after her murderer. But somehow, Nadhir couldn’t believe Thorongil murdered their young gazelle…

Something captured his attention as Nazim mounted his horse and rode away with Kadar, uninvited. Something glistening fell from his pocket – or was it just a play of sun rays? But Kadar already turned away, and the men departed. The horses ran swiftly, sparkling eyes and flowing manes. Smaller and smaller they will grow before the desert swallows them and hides them from his sight.  

“Help me up,” Nadhir asked the man closest to him.

“You should rest before we ride,” the man shook his head.

Nadhir scowled. “When I say you should help me up, I’m not asking for your opinion,” he retorted sourly.

The man sighed, and after a moment of hesitation he did as he was told, to which Nadhir nodded grumpily. He wished he wouldn’t be so weak, but on the other side, he thought he should be thankful for being alive at all.  

“There!” he pointed at the place where he saw the glistening thing fall. The man already knew better than to argue, and so he helped Nadhir to get there.

“Here… It must be somewhere here…” Nadhir muttered as he knelt and combed the sand with his fingers.

The men looked at each other. “Nadhir, you have sunstroke. Let us find some shade…”

“No… no, it’s here…” Nadhir didn’t cease his work. “Here!” He looked up, and something shiny was in his palm.

“That’s Rasha’s earring…” someone breathed out.

Nadhir nodded gravely. “I saw it fall out of Nazim’s pocket.” He looked in the direction where the horses and riders were visible just like little dots in the desert. “Kadar should know…”

“They are too far already,” the man who helped him before shook his head.

Nadhir bit his lip, and looked at the remaining men. It could be dangerous task… He didn’t like the feeling he has to decide who of them will face the danger. Always it was someone else who decided – Kadar’s father, Kadar, and he followed the lead. But now… He turned to the youngest of the men.

“Sahir, you are the swiftest rider. Take the best horse and ride after Kadar. Show him the earring… but be careful with Nazim.”

Sahir nodded and took the jewel. “I will.”

In the next moment a cloud of dust already veiled him and his horse as he galloped away.

Nadhir looked after him with heavy heart. “Good luck, my son…” he whispered to the figure of the rider disappearing in the distance.

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