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Fords of Isen
I remember as a young child the first time that Tolkien really blew my mind. I had heard of elves and orcs and wizards but the idea of...
The heroes came upon the dead rider as the afternoon darkened and the rain threatened to turn to ice. They found him facedown on the old road where he lay still and broken among the yellowing grasses. Life had been hacked from his body with axes, nearly destroying the sigil of Rohan on his hauberk. Not far from him lay the remains of his horse, a proud Mearas slain by black-fletched arrows in its graceful neck. As they dismounted to prepare a simple cairn for the body, a gust of western wind suddenly carried the familiar clangor of steel and screams. The dead man’s killers had found new victims. Rain and aching bodies momentarily forgotten, the heroes remounted and urged their horses to speed. As they cleared the crest of a long bracken hill, the landscape opened up to reveal the Gap of Rohan. Below them, fed by fall rains, the river Isen crawled south like a bloated serpent. The road descended the west-facing hill and led directly into the river where a ford bubbled and frothed among smoothworn rocks. Today, blood and steel mingled with the waters. A small band of mounted Rohan warriors, knights of King Théoden’s household, were trapped at the center of the ford. From both sides of the river, scores of Wild Men from Dunland were attacking. Many of the Dunlendings brandished leather shields emblazoned with the crude sigil of an angry boar. Water rushing at the knees of their mounts, the knights were trying to protect an emissary in their midst. The nobleman was riding a grey mare and wore a black cloak. He flinched as the 33 green shields of his protectors broke the deadly flight of the Wild Men’s arrows. Already, arrows had claimed two of the knights, their bloodied detritus floating among the boulders. The Wild Men, tired of having their arrows deflected, began to charge. A few were already engaged in melee with the riders, but many were just now beginning to wade into the icy water with their shields raised as protection from the swords of the mounted knights. The bellowing of the attackers grew louder. The heroes didn’t hesitate before they charged down the hill. The men of Rohan were friends, and what help could be given, the heroes would give.
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