Faramir says: "Excellent idea, Mablung. I'll head the mission myself!"

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Chapter 2: Scouting[edit]

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Faramir crouched behind a clump of bushes, waiting for Mablung's signal. The other ranger had offered to scout a little ahead to the spot where he had seen the stranger before they confronted him.

As he sat waiting, the young captain looked around at the other four rangers who had come with him, and felt a small surge of pride. The rangers of Ithilien were one of the hardiest, keenest outfits in Gondor's army and he was glad to be leading them. In this month's time he had watched them, spent time with them, talked to them and come to know them so well!

The tinny birdcall that was Mablung’s signal rang out. Faramir cocked his ehad sideways to indicated to the other rangers that he was moving forward. They nodded in assent.

The rangers moved silently through the trees, their movemenst spare, cautious and soundless yet swift.

Mablung stood behind a huge tree trunk.

“He’s in that clearing, drinking from a stream,” he told Faramir. His never rose above a whisper, low and modulated at all times like that of all rangers, never rising above the sound of the leaves rustling in the gentle breeze, yet every word was clear.

“Is he alone?” Faramir wished he could modulate his voice as well. With him it just came out as a harsh, hoarse whisper.

“I could not tell.”

They could see the man from here, kneeling with his back to them, by a thin stream that vanished into the trees at the other end of the clearing.

“Very well. We will confront him then,” Faramir said decisively.

“Wait,” Mablung said softly.

“Why?” Faramir asked, quietly, recognising the clear note of caution. He had just this one issue with his rangers, their tendency to shelter him, as he saw it. Sure they knew Ithilien inside out, but unless they let him lead from the front as a good captain ought to, he would never learn the lay of the land or be content.

“We should ensure he’s alone… let me go in front…”

“No, let me,” Faramir said decisively and peered through the trees again, “He looks to be alone!” he said confidently and stepped into the small clearing.

And realised he was wrong in his assumption.

The man turned as soon as he stepped into the clearing. Faramir stared at him, his face was masked by his the hood of his cloak, but could do no more for immediately the man raised a hand and from the trees behind him, a dozen men leapt out, swiftly and as silently as the rangers. They were upon Faramir just as he managed to draw out his sword. Behind him he could sense the other five Ithilien rangers gather around him protectively. Their attackers lunged forward and soon the tiny clearing was filled with sounds of cries and swords and bows and arrows.

The rangers were less used to fighting in the open but managed to hold their own admirably. Faramir found himself fighting the man at the stream, parrying and thrusting the hood still covering his head. He also had some sort of a mask on that covered his face. They fought fats and furiously and Faramir felt at a distinct disadvantage. The other man had cut him thrice, twice in his arm, and once in his side, but he hadn’t managed no more than a scrape to the masked cheek.

Then with a sudden burst of energy the other man lunged sideways and managed to hit Faramir wrist, causing the young captain to cry out distractedly. That opening was enough. His attacker jumped at him knocking him to the ground and with great speed pulled a knife out of his boot and held it at Faramir’s throat.

“Tell your men to cease,” he spoke, “they shall be killed otherwise.”

Faramir struggled uselessly, he was held in place too tight.

What happens next?[edit]


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