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B2MeM 2011: Haradhrim Nights  by Mirach

Day 24: Rhosgobel

Challenge: Write a story or poem or create artwork using one or more animals as symbols, omens, or metaphors. Use associations and meanings from any culture or source you wish (e.g., Celtic, Native American, Biblical).

Vulture and Eagle

A jackal howled. A window shot closed.

Not Death, Fear walked the streets tonight.

The stalls were open, but there was no music in the streets, no groups of chatting women or men smoking a water pipe and playing chess. People just got out to get what they need, and hurried back home.

In the corner of the tavern, a lonely man was drinking tea. His face was hidden in the shade of a turban that the nomads used to wear.

The jackal howled again, and the tavern keeper looked up nervously. “A bad omen…” he muttered. “Someone will die today.”  

In the next moment the door opened, and a man in black cloak entered, flanked by two guards. He was not afraid like the rest of the city. He was the Fear… He reminded a vulture in his posture, and also by something in his eyes, something greedy and malicious.

The shock in the tavern keeper’s face was immediately covered with obligingness. “Lord Dûrnaur! It is an honour that you came to visit my humble tavern! Can I offer you my services? Some tea? Or something to eat?”

The corsair lord paid no attention to the nervous man and surveyed the tavern slowly. His look stopped on the man in the corner. His eyes narrowed. “You! I have seen you before! But you are not from this city…”

The man raised his head, and a pair of eyes glistened in the shade of the turban. They eyes were grey, and their sharp and bold look reminded an eagle as he looked the corsair captain right into the eyes. “Yes, I believe we met before…” he said with a northern accent.

A sharp intake of breath. The guards immediately reached for weapons, but the Captain stopped them with a gesture.

He made a step closer to the man, who didn’t move. “Thorongil… What an irony, sitting so peacefully in a tavern when all my men are looking for you.”

“I thought so…” Thorongil nodded. It was not visible in the shadow, but a slight smile sounded in his voice. “Tell them to not divide when looking for me next time. I borrowed the clothes from one of them. Maybe he would appreciate if you sent someone for him. That alcove is not very comfortable, but sitting there naked and bound must be even worse…”

The Captain leaned forwards, his look full of hatred. “You destroyed Umbar.”

“Freed, you mean.”

Dûrnaur growled. “You killed my brother there!”

“And you took his place of the Captain, I see…” Thorongil took a gulp from the tea, and put the glass back on the table.  Then he stood up, and put down the turban, revealing his face.  “Strange how everyone is accusing me from a murder of their sibling… I killed your brother in a duel, Dûrnaur.  If you want to revenge him, why don’t you keep it between us like your brother did?”

Dûrnaur laughed sharply. “You think I will give you a chance after what you did? I will not give you the pleasure of dying quickly!”  He gestured to his guards: “Get him!”

They dashed at him immediately, but Thorongil jumped over the table and avoided his attackers with ease. A sabre appeared in his hands, the one he took from Kadar, and before the guards could react, one of them fell dead on the floor of the tavern.

The other was more careful as he approached. They circled among the tables, exchanged a few blows and then retreated again, watching each other. The captain also retreated to the wall, watching. His sabre was ready in his hands, but he didn’t look as if he would want to join the fight yet.

Suddenly Thorongil jumped on the table, and descended on the guard like an eagle on its prey. The man staggered, clutching a wound on his chest, and then fell on the floor.

The jackal howled again.

Thorongil’s and Dûrnaur’s eyes met.

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