To follow a wizard by Nath

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'Yet there are many that cry in the Dunland tongue,' said Gamling. 'I know that tongue. It is an ancient speech of men, and once was spoken in many western valleys of the Mark. Hark! They hate us, and they are glad; for our doom seems certain to them. 'The king the king!' they cry. 'We will take their king. Death to the Forgoil! Death to the Strawheads! Death to the robbers of the North!' Such names they have for us. Not in half a thousand years have they forgotten their grievance that the lords of Gondor gave the Mark to Eorl the Young and made alliance with him. That old hatred Saruman has inflamed. – Helm's Deep, chapter 7, book III, The Two Towers


Hazad looked around curiously. He had not been inside the wizard's stronghold before, only heard the tales of how there was seam nor stone to be seen in its black walls. He wondered if he dared touch the wall to find out if it felt as smooth as it looked, but it might be better not to draw attention to himself.

The wizard had sent messengers to all villages in this part of the mountains, and nearly all sent someone to the stronghold in response. It would be unwise to antagonise this neighbour. Also, some men from villages further south had taken service with the wizard, and from what they told, it appeared he was generous enough to those who served him well.

"Welcome, my neighbours," a soft voice suddenly spoke in their own tongue, calling Hazad from his musings. He had not even heard their host's approach, but there he stood, the wizard; an old man, yet proud and unbent. Hazad suspected there was a lot more to this greybeard than could be seen, and he swallowed against the sudden fear he felt in the pit of his stomach. Then the wizard caught his eye and he felt as if his innermost thoughts were laid bare.

"You need not fear, my friend," the wizard addressed him in a kindly voice, and he knew there was indeed no reason to fear this man. It was clear he had their interest at heart. "What is your name?"

"Hazad," he replied.

"Hazad, I have called you, and all these who have come here with you," and he made a gesture to include the others, "to help you seek redress for your old grievances against the Horsemasters. Did they not once accept the lands that were yours from those whose ancestors had stolen them from you? And is not he who knowingly takes stolen goods as bad as the thief himself?"

All nodded in unison. That was their oldest claim against the filthy Strawheads, and all conflicts between them since those days resulted from that injustice. Yes, Hazad thought, it was high time that they retook what was theirs.

"What must we do, lord?" someone asked, his voice sounding harsh in the silent hall.

As Hazad turned his head to see who it was that spoke, the wizard no longer held his gaze and he felt a brief twinge of doubt, but then the old man spoke again, and he saw once more what they had to do.

"You must gather an army of all those among you who can bear arms, and return here before the next full moon. And then, my friends, we will march on the Horsemasters, so that all our purposes may be fulfilled. For I, too, have claims against them, and would seek justice." He appeared saddened and aggrieved now, an old man treated harshly by a cruel world, and Hazad felt his anger burn both for the injustices done his own people and the hurts done their benefactor.

"Yes! We will fight for you!" Hazad joined in the calls from his fellow village elders. They would at long last take back the lands the Westmen had first taken for themselves and later given to the Strawheads. They would return to their villages and call the men to arms, and then they would march south and regain the honour of their longfathers. At last, the time for revenge had come, and the day would be theirs.


A/N: The name Hazad is taken from HoME 12, ch. XVII, Tal-Elmar.

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