Prince Galador II strode the outer wall of the great city of Minas Tirith, looking out across the Pelennor, but not toward the south and east. Instead, he looked to the north. The High King's call had been sent out many days ago, and the representatives would surely be arriving soon. A nagging voice at the back of his mind kept worrying about whether or not said representatives could make it to the city without being waylaid. Osgiliath was still firmly in Gondor's control, but the forces that attacked Minas Ithil were dangerous and cunning, not just an orc warband, but treacherous men from the south, and monstrosities that Galador had only ever heard about in tales.
As he paced the wall in his white plate, adorned with the symbol of the Silver Swan, the common soldiery and guardsmen of Gondor nodded or saluted as he passed. He returned these gestures absently, his mind wandering. On one of his laps, he was stopped short as he noticed a small speck crawling along the stones to his side. He leaned down to investigate the insect, more as a way to distract himself from his incessant musings than anything else. The tiny thing crawled on eight legs, skittering across the stones until he bent over it, and it froze, staring up at him with several beady eyes. A spider. He was reminded of the forces he and his knights had encountered as they secured the escape of those innocents fleeing Minas Ithil.
His face turned grim, his brow furrowing and his mouth puckering ever-so-slightly. The main force of that army had been eight-legged monstrosities. Somehow, the men of Harad had apparently learned to tame them. Perhaps it had been the orcs who remained roaming the mountains which had done the deed. It didn't much matter, he thought. What did matter was the freedom of movement of the enemy with such creatures in their employ. A small swarm of the things could pass stealthily by Osgiliath's defenses, slink across the fields, and ambush any of the representatives who might be coming from the north or east. The thought was interrupted as the spider interrupted the staring contest with the man, and began to scurry away.
A white gauntleted fist came down on the thing, killing it instantly, and Galador rose, now determined to ensure the safe passage of the envoys of the free peoples lest his fears prove well-founded. Things moved rather quickly after he left the wall. The Knights of Dol Amroth were gathered, and within an hour were geared for patrol, and combat if necessary. Galador himself took point as they rode from the great gates of the White City, and out toward the north.
Somewhere in Near Harad
Two men rode swiftly across the sun-dried plains as they began to give way to the more lush lands of Gondor. One of the men, a seemingly old man on a dapple-gray mare with a braided beard, wore a blue cloak which trailed behind him as the two rode. The hood of the old man's cloak remained inexplicably untouched by the wind, despite the speed at which their horses were running. Abruptly, an arrow stuck into the old man's cloak. The old man heard the other rider yell something in the language of the south. He thought he recognized a challenge or a warning in the tone, but couldn't make out the words above the thunder of the horses hooves. In an attempt to identify the threat, the cloaked man hunched in his saddle, and scanned the scruffy foliage thirty meters to the right. The obvious place for the archer to be. He saw movement, but couldn't make it out. He cut his horse to the right, and moved toward the brush, drawing from his saddle a quarterstaff of silver metal with a blue orb secured to the top. As the old man did this, the orb began to glow a deep orange, and then red. He held it to side, and the orb began to drip little motes of fire as he rode toward his attacker.
Behind the man in blue, the other man, in his ornate riding clothes and blue headscarf, drew his scimitar and followed the charge, though at a lesser pace. As the man with the staff neared the dead brush the ambusher was hiding in, he whipped the staff around, the bits of liquid fire that had accumulated at the tip suddenly flying of toward the brush. It was a small flame, but the shrubbery was dry and dead, and quite flammable. It caught quickly, and a gruff voice was heard shrieking in black speech. "Ghash! Ghash agh-!" The younger man didn't hear the rest. As the orc left it's swiftly-burning hideaway, the man with the scimitar urged his steed on faster. The fleeing orc took one look behind him to see the rider in all his fearsome glory, scimitar raised, horse wide-eyed, and then the blade came down, relieving the orc of it's head.
Suddenly, a call went up to their north and east. A shrill orc-horn, followed by rough calls in that foulest of tongues, and then the howling of great wolves. The younger man called out to his elder,
"He was merely a scout, Pallando. They were waiting in ambush. It seems Alatar knew we would come this way." He said. The wizard trotted his horse close to the younger man's.
"Of course he knew. This was the only option truly open to us. Alatar may be a traitor, but remember, he is no fool." Pallando said, his brow furrowing in some unspoken thought as he replaced his staff in his saddlebag.
"But what do we do now? They've wargs, by the sound of it. They will be on us soon. Our horses have been riding too hard and for too long. Shall we kill as many as we can before we die?" The younger man said, making a point to hoist his steel, rather than sheathe it.
"No, Darm. We must reach Minas Tirith. If we can make it to Osgilliath, then the soldiery of Gondor will drive off our pursuers." As the blue wizard spoke, he leaned down to his gray's ear and whispered something. The horse neighed and shook it's head, suddenly much more energetic. When the wizard had worked this magic for Darm's horse, the two rode away as fast as possible, heading north-west toward Osgilliath, and refuge. Behind them, the howls and taunts of their foul tag-along harried their every gallop. The wizard Pallando hunched in his saddle more and more, the exhaustion of the ride and the working of so much magic having visibly weakened him. He began to truly wonder whether they would make it to Osgilliath or not.