Battle at Ost Cyrn.
Pelaphor stared bitterly into the thick brown liquid that was considered beer by the owner of the inn, Anlaf the forlorn. He must have lost all hope of ever making a good brew and thus he is called thought the Gondorian. He was in a foul mood from the visit of his so called Sergeant who had forbidden him from accepting bribes off the merchants whom he was escorting between the borders of Bree and the current ruin-hold of the Eglain, Ost Guruth. Things had been going quite well, the ruffians were happy with his command so long as he was seen as a gift giver, a bringer of wealth. They would likely still honour their comission to the Eagle Guard once the extra gold and goods stopped flowing, but he doubted they would be easy to manage or as likely to follow any daring plans. As Dernfréa had warned him they would turn tail at any sign of true danger.
Pelaphor stood and moved over to the side of the room withdrawing a pouch from the chest there. He carefully took out the pipe-weed inside and placed it within his pipe before lighting up and smoking. He drew in the smoke and held it a moment before allowing it to waft out from his nostrils to fill the room. The men would work out the new rules within a few days, maybe sooner if the more experienced men told them after they had been briefed by himself. Morale would plummit and he'd be stuck on this damned East Road for a deal of time with little hope of a better command. He had to act quickly, the company would follow him for now, trusting that he would lead them to greater riches.
Pelaphor smoked for a time before placing down his pipe and finishing what remained of his "ale", he moved over towards a pile of maps on the table. Ost Cyrn, the source of most trouble in these lonely lands. Orcs, half-orcs and brigands had set up a easily defendable position there from which they moved out to raid passing caravans in the day. So far his escorts had mostly detered them save for a few inconclusive and uncommitted skirmishes. That would not last, eventually their numbers would swell enough to attack Pelaphor and his company and if they fell then it would not be long before all the Eglain were driven from the region. He had to attack soon while morale and his personal popularity was high. But how to do it? The ruins still made an excellent defensive position, turrets and ramparts to fire from and a raised earthen dyke to defend against a ground assault. It would have been madness to attack such a place with fifty men in it's prime, but a weakness it had now long fallen. No roof stood above the ruins and towers that leant upon the cliff face at the fort's rear. He could rapple down with a small company and take the walls if the main force could be lured to a ground attack upon the field. Scouts reports indicated that a sizeable warband existed, greatly more than his attack could fight on the ground. Everything would rely upon his sneak attack to the rear.
Pelaphor sat upon his fine steed, his Gondorian officers army glinting along its silver ridges in the dusk sunlight. Below he could see in marching array the full measure of some forty or so men, commanded by the guardsmen that Fuerlan had left to oversee his operations. Besides him he had five of the most ruthless and mad fighters in the company and five of the best shots. "Get the ropes ready lads, we are going down to kill some orcs!" Pelaphor spun about on his horse to face the leader of the archers "Kanlaf I want your men to cover us as we drop down, shoot any orcs that aim for us but waste not arrows on others they are food for my blade!". Dismounting quickly and checking his armour for the last time he moved up the ridge and waved his banner to signal the start of the attack.
Below the mercenary company started a steady advance towards the line of jeering orcs upon the walls of Ost Cyrn. They raised shields high to defend from the dark poison blots fired from the half-orcs crossbows as their own archers fired from behind, flaming arrows to disrupt the lines of orcs that they might push through. The loyal eagle guard signalled for the men of the right flank to form a boar's snout and he glanced to his side to see the other three leaders shout for men to move into the same formation. They were forced to lower shields now as they crunched into the orc line, the snout pushing back shields and shattering the bodies of their foe but finally holding and stopping at the sheer weight of numbers. There they stopped and began to fight wildly, the mercenary men striking with swords, clubs, hammers and even mean sharp spears into the shields and body of orcs. Arrows struck among them injurying men and the front members of the line were battered with blows from the cruel long scimitars of the orcs. For now the company held.
Pelaphor began to climb steadily down, he prayed silently to the Valar that the sharpshooters above would keep them alive until they reached the platform below. His prayer held and the five men and their captain landed, they quickly pulled free from the ropes and drew out their weapons. "We move now across the wall, plant the banner upon the summit and then go for their archers." Pelaphor paused a moment to slide his shield from his back and to draw out his long sword. "We must cause confusion in the ranks of our foe and encourage them to fall back and attack us, this position can be held by but a few men long enough to win us the battle". With that he charged forward crashing into the foes ahead, striking at them and kicking them from the walls to fall down into their own cook fires below. At last they reached the centre of the fort and he raised the banner of the Eagle Guard and sounded his clear horn. The horde below cried out in rage some turned away from the battle to rush back towards their held ground to remove the intruders. Around him his skilled killers made quick work of the cowardly orc archers that had been left behind by the main horde. "Now, now for the North land!" he called out and ran headlong into the orcs.
For an hour or so the five men held that ground atop the fort, while below them the lines of the eagle guard became thinner in their steady advance. Behind them the archers from the ridge had followed down on the rappling ropes and were attempting to fight a path through to the centre where the beleagued captain stood. Suddenly a cry went up among the orcs, their line had broken and they were fleeing throughout the walls of the fortress. The remainders of the ground force moved forward hungry to kill the routing foe. Pelaphor shouted out in jubilation "Victory, a victory for the north! A victory for the Eagle Guard!" as he hacked down the orcs pressing around him.
But alas doom came upon them, another horn call came and this time it was deep and thunderous. Pelaphor looked out accross the field of slain and to his great dismay he saw that another warband came to aid their orc brothers. They flew the white hand banner high and Pelaphor knew now that the might of the Weather Hills had come to smash his company as they stood in battle with the Tarkrip tribe.
"Up now, Up now to the walls" he shouted out to the officers of the mercenary company, but they did not hear for they were busy claiming the spoils of battle. He gazed out in hope for the men that Fuerlan had left, disciplined and true guardsmen but they had fallen upon the field. Those around him from the vantage saw the host that came for them and they lost hope, running back towards the ropes to escape. Now the white hand had entered into the ruins and were moving about slaughtering his men, seperated and scattered by their greed. "No, damn the stars that have forsaken me" the captain spoke mournfully before turning to retreat with the few men of his company that remained. He had beaten the orcs of Ost Cyrn and won a great victory, yet the white hand had taken their chance and now Pelaphor was beaten.