Lord of the Rings: Men of the Desert

Chapter 1: 'The Blue Men' (The 'Nazam')

Some 'Men of the West' will say that no good comes from Khand. We share our lands with 'Haradrim', 'Variags', and 'Easterlings'. Invasions from the neighboring tribes come as annually as the seasons. We always push back the savages. Among the Men of Gondor, we are called the 'Nazam'. We trade fine silks, spices, and precious stones with West Men

Our cities are beautiful. Palaces of white marble and decorated with stones like garnets, amethysts and lapis lazuli. One might think that such things cannot come for this region. Our lands are fertile. Many villagers in the small hamlets raise sheep, goats, horses, and camels. Camels and horses are our mounts. The sheep and goats give us meat and milk

One must learn to trust the soul of another rather than where we come from. My name is Mai. I come to you as a friend. Can you look into my brown eyes, and see a friend even if my eyes are the only trait upon me that you can see. I wear a turban of dark blue and black with a cover my face showing my eyes as protection from the frequent sandstorms

"Look, over there," said my friend, Zakiya

"Easterlings, Kataphrakts," I replied to her

"It looks to be a raiding party," said Zakiya, I nodded and readied my sword to battle. Some jest that for every item of value we trade with the Western Men we have a weapon. A sword has an elliptical-shaped handle with a cruciform guard. The blade is straight, and double-edged. The blade is 9.75 hands long made of our very finest steel called 'Wootz'

Such well-crafted steel goes into our other weapons as well from armor to arrowheads. We use a lance or spear called a 'Mizrak'. The steel goes into the making of a mace called a 'Shishpar'. The battle-axe is called a 'Tabar Zin', and the war-hammer is called a 'Zaghnal'. The one weapon we use that makes us formidable against our enemies is the archer

Mounted on horseback as that is how we ride into battle, the archer has a bow of terrifying power. The bow is a composite bow made from horn, wood, sinew, and natural animal glues. It can take up to a year to make a bow. Our bows are intricately decorated, and personalized. One arrow from a skilled archer will unhorse an enemy from over 60m away

Armor is very important in times of battle. The cuirass consists of a waist-length hauberk of fine chainmail, and fastened plates on the trunk made of well-hammered steel with brass fittings. The other pieces are vambraces called 'bazu band' made from well-hammered steel, and trimmed with brass. This armor is made for agile movements in a battle.

"Will the brutes ever learn?" pondered Zakiya

"I highly doubt it," I replied, giving her a nod

That nod was my permission to her. Zakiya readied her bow from the quiver at her saddle, and nocked her bow with an arrow. She aimed, and fired. The arrow hit the mark on the chest of an Easterling scout, unhorsing him with ease. Instead of heeding our warning, they attacked. There are only five. A small handful, and possibly the advanced guard.

"I suppose now your doubts are further strengthened, Mai," said Zakiya, she sheathed her bow and quiver, and unsheathed the sword. I did the same, and so we charge the line on the desert sands. With our stallions at full gallop, I slashed into armor, flesh, and bone and unhorsed an Easterling. The next kill was a slit across the throat, spilling his blood.

Zakyia slashed one off his horse, and the other was dead but still in his saddle. One must not expect these men to retreat. The Easterlings, the Variags, and the Haradrim will go to great lengths for our lands. Our pacts of friendship with Gondor have made us enemies with the barbarians. We have a jest: 'Easterlings will not comply, so the horses will do'.

"Nothing more than a handful," said Zakiya

"Still, we must warn the village," I replied,

We rode with haste to our village of Zahra. Each village is ruled by a chieftain or 'Zaeim' whom answers to the ruler of our lands called a 'Shah'. Our well-aged leader Asif was in the middle of tea. Zakiya and I unhorsed, and went into his home, and kneeled to him, "O Chieftain Asif, we bring news from the frontier, Easterlings, a Kataphrakt raiding party"

Asif has grown old over this age, but he is still a warrior and still handsome. Eyes are sharp like arrowheads. His olive-tanned skin is a common feature with our people, and hair black as obsidian with only a few bits of grey. On his robes and fastened to his belt is his sword 'Bariq', "Be on your guard, it is a possible sign of things to come," he advised us,

We stood with a gentle hand to our armored chests, and bowed to him with the utmost respect, "I shall ride myself to the palace in Namur to bring a message to the Shah," Asif said, standing up from his throne. Our chieftain is not like others. He prepares his stallion to ride, and prepares himself in armor for battle. The only help he possesses is a cook.

Two guards on horseback, armed with a 'Mizrak' in hand, bows and arrows at saddle, and swords at their belts rode out with him to the palace. Guards are more heavily armored than warriors like me. They wear helmets with chainmail face guards over the cloth face covers. One of the mounted guards is my big brother, Heydar. I wish him a safe journey.

(Note: Guards wear a steel 'Khorasan' helmet with a black horsehair tassel, and wear scale armor, chainmail, plate armor, and lamellar armor)