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Straw crunches and hooves clink on cobbles. A horse whickers, as another snorts into his feed box and hay sifts lightly to the floor. There is a steady, soft, rhythmic grinding and munching. A heavy door creaks and the quick impatient tread of heavy boots crosses the floor; beyond the bustle of a frightened city filters in.
“Saddle your horses – we ride as soon as we can!”
There is the creak of leather, men’s voices muttering and the brush of bodies as they push past each other, a dance of hooves as a horse pulls away and a soft-voiced curse. The slap of ears and tail shaken against air, the chink of metal bits, stirrups and breast plates, loud exhalations of breath as girths are drawn tight.
“This is madness!”
“Speak not to me - we ride on Lord Denethor’s orders.”
“Then he is mad!”
Hooves crash against wood. A sharp exclamation – then a soft-voiced wooing. The thump of wood on cobbles and then the rush of water. There is the rattle of metal plate then the thump of armour against bodies – and the soft sliding sibilancy of chain mail.
“Have you seen the captain?”
“Aye, and grim and fey does he look. We ride to our deaths this day.”
A scrape of metal on stone. Slowly water falls in uneven drips.
“Captain Faramir does not seek glory in danger. If we are to die it is for Gondor and the White City.”
Iron-clad hooves and leather-soled boots rattle across the floor; bits jingle; leather creaks and metal plate scrapes and vibrates. A horse neighs.
“To the door! Form up!”
Voices swell and crash. Cheers, cries and blessings mingle with the sharp stamp of hooves on sloping cobbles. Flowers fall in soft timpani and a child cries. The trumpeting of horns rings above the clatter of hooves and echoes off stone walls.
“Open the gates! We ride for Osgiliath.”
A softly thrumming wind, a silence of birds and quiet hoof-falls on grass
“In line! In line!”
“Steady… steady... forward now…”
“Whoa, Turamarth, my beauty.”
Heavy blowing of breath, hands shifting on wood… distant drums and dark cries. A horse whinnies. Grass rustles under hooves. Banners gently beat in the wind.
“We ride today for Gondor! For the White City and for all we have defended for so long. We may well ride to our deaths – but let the Enemy buy them dearly! We ride as Calimehtar and Beregond rode before us. We ride for Gondor!”
A clash of steel and wood.
“Let those who have not the heart for this fight ride back. I would take no man unwilling. Go back and defend the woman and children we leave behind… ride back with no shame.”
Silence – then the faint rolling beat of drums.
The bright clear note of horns and a thunder of voices.
The steady beat of cantering hooves, metal scraping and clattering, banners snapping in the wind, soft-voiced curses and prayers – and louder-growing drums.
Foul tongues cry a cacophony as horns sound a last clear triumphant call.
“Charge! For Gondor!”
Crashing of metal, of metal on metal, of metal on rough stone, of metal on flesh and wood and ground. The singing flight of arrows… the muffled thud of metal into flesh. Stifled sounds of death… gurgling, drowned, cries of pain; screams of man and beast and orc.
“Rally! Men of Gondor to me!”
The crack of arrow hitting armour, hooves dancing and leather pulled tight.
“Again! To the left!”
The thump as bodies fall, the crunch of bones beneath hard-edged hooves, the foul abomination of Mordor’s tongue, the shrill note of fear in shouting men and neighing horses, the crash of metal….
“For Númenor that was, and Elvenhome that is, and for that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be.”
A lone horn blast above the sounds of death.
“Here! For Gondor! For Gondor!”
The drums roll out and shake the ground. Arrows whistle. Hooves slip in blood and flesh and horses gulp for air.
Six, seven, eight voices cry, “FOR GONDOR!”
Hooves rattle over ground. Metal meets metal in sharp resounding rings and tears flesh with soft rending noises. Horses scream. Voices cry for the help of gods and fall silent.
The rocking thunder of a horse’s galloping hooves… and behind the rising swell of drums.
*This came from a suggestion that Marta made in Prospective Challenges about writing stories using only one sense. I’m not sure if this is what she meant, but it is where it took me – so thanks, Marta.
*It’s experimental – very! – written mostly for fun but I’d still like to know did it work. Any feedback would be welcome but things I’m particularly curious about are:
- did the large number of fragments (ie: incomplete sentences) bother you? I couldn’t find any other way of doing it.
- did it bother you too much that speakers weren’t identified?
- did it manage to tell a story despite its limitations?
- any sounds that particularly did/did not work?
*This is set in the movie-verse, but I’ve also used book references.
*I’ve borrowed words from Tolkien here: ‘For Númenor that was, and Elvenhome that is, and for that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be.’ - and concepts from both Tolkien and Shakespeare for Faramir’s speech just outside the gates of Minas Tirith.
*Turamath means master-doom in Sindarin
*Many thanks to the kind people over at the HA Yahoo list who answered questions about horse-feeding and shoe soles.
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