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Rimbaud 11-18-2002 08:50 PM

The Seventh Star Inn
The Seventh Star
Portal to the Land of Gondor.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The door creaked somewhat ominously as the leader of the party pushed, with some trepidation, upon its rough-hewn oak surface. A voice surprised all of them, well-toned and even.

“Welcome to The Seventh Star, famed throughout Gondor, and indeed Middle-Earth, for its storytelling!”

The visitors entered the large, spacious common room. The Innkeeper rose to greet them as they looked around themselves, uncertain. He was dressed in a well-fitting dark grey tunic, with a thin blue sash at the waist. He spoke, in the same low voice, as he shook them by the hand, one by one.

Gondor is the Barrow-Downs’ premier Role-Playing arena and as such has a very limited membership. To succeed in Gondor, you must display in The Seventh Star a virtuosity in prose unmatched throughout the realms of Middle-Earth!

My name is Rimbaud and I am the Innkeeper here at the Seventh Star.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Inside The Seventh Star it was eerily silent, yet imbued within the well-appointed building was a powerful sense of purpose, a sense of unseen creative forces at work. Lights angled upwards onto the bleached white ceiling were evenly spaced around the walls. A lone but fiercely bright candle burned on each clean and uncluttered table top. The pale, wood-panelled floor was spotless. Grey clad staff drifted silently through the room, towards the footsore group. They were impossible to describe, being human yet somehow indistinct. The looks they gave the weary travellers were deferential as they took their coats and arms, and they disappeared as abruptly as they had appeared.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Innkeeper finished his welcome speech, stepped back, and looked upon the small group before him doubtfully. He nodded imperceptibly. The room suddenly dimmed. Terrifyingly quickly, darkness rushed into the room, spewing from the walls, floor and ceiling. As the obsidian blackness billowed about them, all they could perceive were the steady blue eyes of the strange Innkeeper, unquenched by the cloud. The air grew thick and unyielding . Their hearts quailed but they did not falter or cry out, but stood firm, despite their fear.

The darkness evaporated as swiftly as it had arisen, and light streamed in through the tall windows around the hall. Their host stood smiling before them. The ceiling arched gracefully over him, slender beams supporting the simple, skilful plasterwork. It seemed that they had passed a test of some sort.

”Hail and well met!” he exclaimed. “Here you will find succour in the creation of many a fine tale.”

Several of the party had noticed the great iron plaque hanging over the fireplace at the far end of the common room. On it was written a list of names, in a long flowing scipt. The hulking oval shape was flanked by two lamps, fashioned in the likeness of Great Wyrms, the flame licking from within the great jaws of each. Upon noticing his guests’ questioning glances, Rimbaud endeavoured to explain.

“Here is writ the names of those Story Tellers of Gondor that brighten this land. These are they who can create the Tales of this land, so that in a lifetime those tales may become legend, and ‘ere long, myth. The Seventh Star welcomes many story-tellers, but these are the creators. The list is ever growing.”

The party nodded approval and their leader moved to inspect the names. The others followed, more cautiously.

The header for the beautiful engraving read thus: The Founding Scribes of Gondor.

Behind them, they heard the voice of the Innkeeper again, reciting the names.

“The Lords Mithadan, Thenamir and Gilthalion there are, fair Bethberry, noble Gandalf and Rimbaud of the Star. There is Piosenniel, Birdland and The Seventh Age’s Child. Estelyn Telcontar and Mark12-30 do complete the List of Gondor.” He paused and then started afresh, his voice harsher and more urgent. “Yet there is fell work afoot, upon this chart and when ‘twas scribed, it gave all men a fright, for atop the list in letters bright, Lies the name o’the dread Barrow-Wight!” His voice rose in volume steadily until the last words came out in a roar, shocking the party with its intensity. The room grew still and silent again, as the echoes faded.

The tense atmosphere slowly faded as the party made themselves comfortable, settling down with pipes as food was prepared for them in kitchens unseen. Food and drink, for oft-times The Seventh Star was a merry place, to be filled with laughter and good converse.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Welcome to The Seventh Star. Post here so that you may join the Great List of Gondor!

The Seventh Star is the meeting place for the élite of the Barrow-Downs Role-Players. The List mentioned above is by no means closed and any who prove their worth in The Shire and especially in Rohan can come to the Star and talk with the members here about joining Gondor.

If a decision is to be made, it will be made by myself in collaboration with the other Innkeepers, at The Green Dragon and The White Horse, and approved by members of the Downs Admin team, or more pertinently, The Barrow-Wight and Mithadan. There will also be discussion, here at the Star, with current Gondorians over the criteria for posting at this level.

The Innkeeper can also be contacted at

Keep watching here and at Ecthelion's Tower for the Rules pertaining to Gondor.

[ February 11, 2003: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

Rimbaud 11-19-2002 06:04 PM

The Innkeeper rose to his feet, in the centre of the room.

"I am proud to declare this Inn open!" he announced, firmly. "The Seventh Star shall be the home of the finest story-telling anywhere in Middle-Earth! Come, share your thoughts with the literary denizens of the Star."

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

Melichus 11-19-2002 10:26 PM


Game Founders have the discretion to make their RPGs invitation only. If an RPG is open and/or searching for Members, it is up to the applicant to post at The Seventh Star, and so communicate to the Innkeeper and Game Founder their desire to join. At this point, a decision will be made by the Game Founder, with assistance from the Innkeeper if requested or necessary.
(Well, I read this was supposed to be in character, so...)

As he slowly trudged up to the inn's looming entryway, Eledrim paused. Peering up slowly at the heavyset door, he resolutely raised his fist to knock but now stepped back, a bemused frown on his face, as it swung open. The inn-keeper, peering around the door's edge, silently appraised the new stranger, noting the worn, brown cloak, the mud-spattered boots, the calm eyes staring back at him from under a heavy hood.
"Well met," the man muttered. And then, unexpectedly, he flashed a smile from under the hood.
"Name is Eledrim, if ye want to know. I seek only food and a bed for the night, my good sir. Ah, yes, I fear I'm not as spry as I used to be, but...well, I get along well enough in my travels if I just rest these old feet now and then.
"I haven't had company in a long time, sir... Perhaps--if t'isn't too much to ask, that is, I could just sit by that fire and listen to some of the ol' tales being told. Rest up for a bit, you know, maybe tell a tale or two of my own. Hah, goodness knows I have a lot of them!
"So, begging your pardon, sir, mightn't I stop here for the night? If No's the word, I'll understand."

[ November 19, 2002: Message edited by: Melichus ]

Susan Delgado 11-19-2002 11:25 PM

Susan paused outside the Seventh Star and took a moment to sigh with satisfaction. She'd been on the road for weeks and she'd finally arrived at her destination. Silenlty, she called Feaer and together they went in. She nodded to those she knew and went to the bar to order an ale.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Susan Delgado ]

Ransom 11-19-2002 11:39 PM

OOC: I'm here! No RP yet, but I'm here! Hope this is ok. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

Ransom Deviolana was shivered as he pulled his cloak tighter around his body. This was only natural, considering both the dreary weather and the fact that the man had a cold. His long black hair was damp with resperation, despite the fact that Ransom had removed his healm. Both dark black eyes peered into the wind, seeking any sign of his destination. As he approached the inn, he let loose an enormous sneeze that would have sent any ambushing orc running back to their mothers in Mordor. His mount, a black warhorse named Sandor, shifted expectedly. They’d traveled for many a lonely league, and the horse was looking forward to a long hiatus from his responsibilities.

Eschewing the assistance of the stable boy, Ransom fed and watered his horse by himself. She was worth a nice chunk of money, and her master didn’t want to see the horse dying from some accursed illness because of an accidental slip up. Three sneezes, two coughs, and half a dozen sniffles later, Sandor happily munched hay within her stall while Ransom paid the stable attendant to keep watch over the horse, slipping the boy a steady tip to ensure the animal’s good care as well as his baggage’s safety.

The man made his way through the weather to the inn, only the dull and silent clink of metal under his cloak giving his position away. He glanced up at the signpost and smiled. If half the rumors were true, this place was the best place for a world-weary traveler. Even one with a bad cold. Ransom pushed gently against the door, slipping in to the common room. One of the staff made his way toward the man before speaking in . “Greetings, good traveler. I’ll take your cloak, if you don’t mind. May I remind you that arms are not permitted upon your body under the roof of Master Rimbaud.”

Ransom coughed, a bit taken back by the server. They seemed like automations, and somewhat less than alive. However, their requests didn’t faze the soldier. Ransom’s employers often made much stranger demand upon their guards. He removed the cloak, revealing a dark black suit of chain mail with several blue plates of steel forming the breast plate, shoulder plates, greaves, and even the gauntlets upon the hands now moving to unclip the webbing that secured his shield to his back. Ransom smiled at the server before suggesting, “Well now, you’d best lead me to your armory, sir. I’ve got quite a bit more than you can carry at one time.”

It took but a moment for the gray figure to point the man toward a series of heavy iron chests in a small room to the right of the common room. Here, Ransom unstrapped his various webbings and laid the large shield on the bottom of the chest. A ornate scabbard containing an even more ornate long sword found itself on top of the shield, rapidly followed by half a dozen throwing knives. Ransom pause for a moment before reaching underneath various places in his armors, adding another six hidden blades and a multitude of needles into the chest. Seeing that the man had surrendered his arms, the servant locked the iron chest with a key and handed it to Ransom. “I trust that you’ll be wanting to ensure your property’s safety. Rest assured that not even us touch your gear.”

With that, the servant seemed to leave, melding into the woodwork. Ransom seemed somewhat taken back, but quickly got over the shock. After all, if the owner of said fine establishment saw fit to keep a barrow wight around to tell tales, he could deal with unusually stealthy servants. The soldier walked back into the common room and found a nice seat in front of the roaring fire. The room seemed almost too clean and too sparse for the man who was used to guarding the plush quarters of the rich and standing watch over the stone cold but truly beautiful White Tower. He noted with some interest the plaque above the fireplace, though he preferred to warm himself in front of the fire before satiating his curiosity.

Presently, his cold receded for a bit, allowing him the freedom to seek a bowl of warm soup and perhaps a little bit of bread. Ransom doubted that his stomach was ready for the trials of a full meal of meat, though he didn’t doubt that he’d enjoy it. He stood and stretched, listening happily to the clink of his metal cocoon. Master Rimbaud of the Seventh Star was not hard to find, mainly because of the little blue sash that he wore and the fact that he didn’t disappear into the woodwork like the rest of his staff. Ransom approached him found a seat at the nearest table, waiting for the Master of the inn to have some time to spare for a patron. The sneezes and the coughs did help in this respect, though Ransom didn't intend to be rude. It was all the fault of that accursed storm outside....

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Ransom ]

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Ransom ]

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Ransom ]

Mithadan 11-20-2002 12:39 AM

A tall Man entered the Inn dressed in black and wearing a sword sheathed on his belt. His hair was black as a moonless night but shot through with silver like the stars. At his throat was a shell hung on a fine chain.

He waved to Ransom and Susan who were well known to him. To Eledrim (Melichus -- I'm from Boston myself at least originally) and Dorathain he offered a hearty "well met" (fine tale Dorathain -- and welcome to the Barrow Downs; you've chosen an ambitious place to begin your career here).

He sat at the bar, where his features were lit by a flickering candle. The barkeep approached, wiping a mug on his clean white apron. "What shall you be having today, Mithadan?" he asked.

"Tequila Sauza, white and straight my good Rimbaud," he answered. Straightaway a silence fell over the room.

"Woman trouble," intoned Rimbaud as he pored a full three fingers into a glass for his friend. Mithadan drained half in a single gulp and signaled for more.

"You try wedding an Elf," he complained as he nursed the remainder of his drink. "Yes, she's fair enough, but all she speaks of is adventures and her 7000 years of life before she met me. See these white hairs?" Rimbaud shook his head in polite denial. "When I met her I had not a one! And I'm too young to have any!" Susan snickered at this and received a withering glare in return.

Mithadan sipped at his second glass and continued. "She wants to visit Lindon. Lindon! Where's the profit in that? Lindon is self-sufficient. It exports nothing and imports nothing. I'll be lucky if I can book half my cabins either way. Lindon!"

Rimbaud prudently excused himself and began carefully examining a tray of glasses for flaws as if it were the most important task in the world...

Estelyn Telcontar 11-20-2002 02:16 AM

The door of The Seventh Star flew open boisterously, the autumnal wind driving a flurry of leaves and moisture inside. All heads turned, startled by the appearance of a cloaked figure storming into the room. With an impatient movement, the hood was thrown back, revealing dark, tousled curls glistening with droplets. A female face showed agitation; restless eyes roamed the room, looking for something or someone.

Her eyes found the Innkeeper in the same instant as he took a step in her direction. Hurriedly, she strove toward him, stretching out both hands to greet him with a firm clasp. Urgent whispers caused the other guests to listen, yet they could not discern what was being said.

Rimbaud turned to speak to the visitors standing by the fireplace; they had ceased even the appearance of conversation and waited with bated breath. “Here has come Estelyn, of the House of Telcontar,” he announced, “bringing a tale most astonishing to our ears. Pray tell the assembled company of your discovery.”

“I come in haste,” said she, “for I travel on as soon as I have gathered supplies for my journey. Yet I may as well speak of my errand; what little I know will not delay me much.

“I have received news of ancient manuscripts that have been found. Long did they lie hidden, and once revealed, were long in the hands of scholars learned in the lore and language of the Onodrim.”

“Onodrim?” a guest murmured. “What is that?”

“Shht!” another reprimanded. “Have you never heard of the Ents, Tree-Shepherds of Fangorn? I would hear this tale!”

Estelyn continued, “Few there are who are able to translate this language; long are the words and difficult to transcribe into our tongue, yet what has been done tells of atrocity such as is hither unknown in Middle-Earth, and of great heroism. Know that in ancient days a band of orcs did hew an Ent for the use of its living wood.”

The gasps of shocked listeners were heard; involuntarily, they drew closer to each other and to the warming fire.

“The orcs found that this wood had the strength of oak and the suppleness of willow branches, being light to carry and certain in the aim of an accomplished archer. They made bows of it, using them for their fell purposes. It can only be imagined what torment it must have been to the Entish bows, forced to subdue themselves to such evil work. Yet one escaped by the hand of a brave and beautiful Elven maiden. The manuscript tells its story.

“I hasten now to take into my hands this writing, that it might be stored in the library of Minas Anor, where all who wish may read it. I hope to return, though I know not how soon, and will then most certainly know more of this tale.”

Agitated whispers arose among the assembled guests as she turned to the Innkeeper and said, “Now, friend Rimbaud, help me to collect supplies, that I may continue my journey, for I am eager to reach the halls of those scholars who have transcribed this story.” With these words, both strode to the store rooms.

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]

Ransom 11-20-2002 06:55 AM

Aye, the stories are certainly good,thought the young human, but where’s the food?

Seeing that the innkeeper had departed to assist Estelyn as she gathered supplies for her trip, Ransom rose from the chair and ambled over to the fireplace. The heat and light provided by the roaring flames was truly welcome, and Ransom drew one of the chairs in front of the fireplace and sat back down. True, it was strange that the logs didn’t seem to burn at a normal rate, but Ransom could live with that. Indeed, he would have to visit this place much more often.

Sadly, his powers of higher thinking were greatly diminished by the overwhelming human impulse to support their internal metabolism through termination and consumption of other organism. Simply put, Ransom got hungry. One of the gray-cloaked servants had approached to stoke the fire, and he temporarily became the object of the soldier’s attention. “Good sir, would you be so kind as to procure a bowl of soup and some bread for me?”

To his utter bemusement and amazement, the servant simply nodded and left, returning almost immediately with a bowl of hot soup, laden with every kind of meat and vegetable imaginable, as well as a large loaf of bread. The servant set the tray down and left, disappearing like the one that had greeted him at the door. Ransom shrugged and began to eat, careful not to eat too much or too fast. It would be highly unsightly if he lost his dinner because he’d swallowed an extra pea. He continued to eat, occasionally glancing around the room and waiting for the next tale….

Rimbaud 11-20-2002 08:25 AM

Upon his return from the stores with the Princess Telcontar, Rimbaud noted that the Company at the Inn had swelled. He smiled to see some familiar faces.

He greeted Melichus and sat him at a table and motioned for wine to be brought. "All are welcome here, Sir," he murmured. He nodded approval at the Tale of Dorathain, and bid the man softly to introduce himself to the Star.

Then, he straightened from his work and scanned the great hall.

"Welcome all! It is fine to see so many talented writers gracing The Seventh Star."

The Innkeeper smiled a smile to himself at the tale and appearance of the tall Mithadan. The Man had not suffered as greatly at the hands of the she-Elf as he would have others believe, thought the barkeep, but kept his counsel silent.

To the others, Rimbaud beckoned service and bade them good welcome. As they made good their repast, he spoke of the strict code of story telling existent in Gondor.

"Ah, but it is an ambitious mortal that steps through these gates. When our Founders of Tales embark on the telling of some new legend, there will be opportunity to examine these fresh faces and keen young minds." Rimbaud paused, as he poured himself a glass of a deep red wine. He paced back and forth before the great fireplace, as if deep in thought.

Finally, he looked up and gazed around the room. All eyes, as he had expected, immediately turned away, as if they had not been watching, anticipating.

"All are welcome at the Star," he began, quietly. "Yet those whose faces are new to the Star may have to wait for suitable opportunity and an invitation." He sighed and looked troubled. "Neighbouring Rohan will soon have tales to be told, and opportunities there will be manifold, especially for such experienced writers as I see in this room. For the Tales of Gondor are few, as yet, and their membership complete - if not replete."

At this gentle rhyme, his demeanour altered and he stopped his pacing, and stood by one of the great, gilded golden lamps at the fireplace. "However!" he cried in a deep and sonorous voice. "Pray continue to regale us at the Star, that we may come to know thee better." His voice dropped again, yet carried clearly. "For all are welcome here, for a time at least."

The room fell deathly quiet upon these last words. Quiet apart from Mithadan who was chuckling into a drink of some indeterminate liquid. If Rimbaud had been the sort of gentleman prone to rolling his eyes - no gentleman at all, some would warrant - he most likely would have indulged himself at this juncture. Instead he clicked his fingers. The fire in the great hearth sprang afresh, and the lights brightened.

Musicians bounded from doors not yet noted, and struck up a strangely melancholic verse. Rimbaud returned to the great black desk at the head of the room, dipped the quill that was ever within his blue waist sash in the inkwell, and busied himself with writings unknown.

Talk returned slowly to the the Seventh Star. The melodies drifted and swayed beneath the graceful ceiling beams, and smoke from the fire wreathed its way into the chimney.

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

Gandalf_theGrey 11-20-2002 11:25 AM

* Yielding up to the cloak-room attendant an Elven blade whose smooth-worn runes had caught his attention at a pawn shop, a Cloaked Guest ambled into the Common Room. Leaning on a staff, he waved greetings to old time friends and strangers alike. *

* Rimbaud, Susan, Mithadan, Estelyn were all welcome and familiar faces. As well, a genial old fellow in a brown cloak whose boots were spattered in a matching shade of mud warmed himself by the soft-crackling hearth. A young eager tale-spinner smiled a challenge all around to discover any who dared live such adventures as he dared tell. And then there was a poor fellow huddled with occasional sneezing and coughing, taking refuge over a bowl of soup. *

* Gandalf thought he remembered this last one as one Ransom from a Picnic at the Bonfire Glade. The wizard couldn't be quite sure, as Time had whirled about in rippling semi-circles that day in the Old Forest. Still, he'd learned the tiniest bit of healing lore from well-spent time being around Bethberry and her stored expertise. Striding over to Ransom, he plunked down on the table beside him a vial containing powdered ginseng and the root of the bloodroot plant. *

Dissolve the vial's contents in water, Ransom, for your cough. If you've a sore throat, perhaps there's some goose grease back in the kitchen to apply outwardly to throat and chest, as I believe our good Innkeeper Rimbaud might object to the similar use of skunk fat inside the Seventh Star.

* Gandalf then gestured towards the fireplace with his staff. Several hot flat stones that had lain among logs and embers levitated through the air and came clonking down to land on Ransom's table, scattering ashes on table, chairs and floor. Pungent powdered herbs and crushed wildflowers were duly sprinkled atop the sizzling stones, and the patient urged to lean over and inhale the vapors. *

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Gandalf_theGrey ]

*Varda* 11-20-2002 12:20 PM

The wind howled outside as Varda battled her way up to the doors of the Inn. She read the sign above, it read ‘The Seventh Star’. The elf sighed with relief and cast her hood back as she approached the door. Her long dark hair, now damp with rain, blew in the wind as she pulled open the door, and literally fell in as the wind blew her over.

From her vantage point on the floor, she lifted up her head and looked at the group of people staring down at her. From the corner she heard a stifled giggle. Her cheeks starting to go crimson, she hastily got up and brushed down her cloak and mud stained travelling gown. Inwardly she cringed. Certainly not the best way to make her first appearance. Blushing, she simply introduced herself.

“Well met, my merry friends. My name is Varda, from Imladris…I didn’t make the best of entrances..” From the back she heard someone chuckle. “But I’m sure it will be a fine evening listening to all your tales and stories from long ago.”

With that, she walked over to the innkeeper.

“Good sir, do you have a room for the night for a wandering elf. The weather is cold and dismal outside, and I do not wish to go further in search of shelter.” The innkeeper nodded in assent, and Varda looked around the room. Storytelling already seemed to have begun, and she went to sit by the fire to listen, and await her turn.

Amanaduial the archer 11-20-2002 01:27 PM

A slim figure made her way through the rain, a flickering ball of mage-light hovering above one gloved hand. A pair of black haired wolves flanked her, looking bedraggled, as any creature would after this weather for an indeterminate amount of time, and as fed up as is possible.

Amanaduial's mage-light finally gave up in the storm and she was plunged into darkness. Muttering and cursing under her breath, she groped for the handle of the door that had been here a moment ago, illuminated for a second by a melodramatic flash of lightning. Eventually her hand touched the smooth metal and she turned it, the door blowing open immediately in the strong wind. She blinked in the strong light, illuminated against the door with a wolf on either side. Slowly she lowered her hood, looking around the room. Most of the inhabitants of the homely, warm place seemed absorbed in a tale being told by the huge fireplace and few spared her a glance, but the innkeeper shot her an amused look from a large black desk, his quill paused above a sheet of parchment.
Amanaduial smiled at him, realising what a state she must look, her long hair darkened with rainwater and a pair of wolves that would currently put you in mind of a pair o drowned rats. She nodded to him, touching her forehead lightly.

"Well met, friend. What brings you to the Seventh Star?"

"The Seventh Star?" Aman mused over the mysterious name, turning it over in her mind. "My name is Amanaduial. I come from...elsewhere." She was loathe to reveal too much about herself at the moment. "The weather outside would make a hardened sailor quake; may myself and my friends stay the night?" The two wolves, Obsidian and Jet looked up and tried hard to look respectable, not an easy feat for ones such as themselves.

Rimbaud nodded gracefully, indicating the group around the fire. "Make yourself at home. All I ask of you in return..." the elf looked at him sceptically, holding her breath. " a good tale in return. And many indeed are already being told."

Aman let out her breath and smiled at him. "Well, Ive got plenty of those..." She murmered as she walked towards the fire. Sitting cross legged on the rug, her back against the fireplace, the wolves lying at one at her feet, the other at her side, she sighed, satisfied and listened to the tales being woven around her...

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

Child of the 7th Age 11-20-2002 01:30 PM

Just as one tale had come to its ending, the heavy door burst open and two determined figures strode in, seeking shelter from the storm. The one was the young maid Andreth, tall and slender with a mop of red hair and freckles to match. Her companion, the hobbit Cami, sported brown curls and deep grey eyes that were well hidden within the folds of a hooded cloak. Water dripped from both their skirts, as they huddled near the warmth of the hearth fire.

Cami emerged from her hood long enough to take a peek and wave greetings to a number of those she knew--Estelyn, Gandalf, Rimbaud, and Varda-- as well as a few whom she hoped to meet later. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of the lean black figure seated near the bar. She shook her head and scowled. Ah, I had hoped for peace and quiet. With the Man here, the angry Elf may not be far behind! Out loud, she only murmurred a word of greeting to Mithadan and tilted her head in his direction.

Rimbaud turned his attention away from Varda and approached the waiting women, nodding a welcome. "How goes the road, fair ladies? Do you have a tale for us?"

"The road? Not well, I fear." The spunky Andreth held up her head and spoke with conviction. "As to a tale, our only one is full of woe."

She went on to explain. "My companions and I were trekking down the path to Tharbad when a great pit opened under our feet. Several of my friends tumbled in, and I barely escaped with my life."

"But then why are you here?" pressed Rimbaud. "Surely you must go rescue your friends."

"Aye, that's the rub," the girl ruefully acknowledged. "As I have no rope or healing skills, I can do little to aid my companions. This is only my first adventure. I regret I am so ill prepared. I will await the outcome here, hoping that others may have planned with greater care."

Trying to take the conversation elsewhere, Rimbaud asked, "How can I help you then? Is there anything you need?"

Two voices spoke up in perfect harmony: "Coffee! Two cups, hot and thick."

Rimbaud scratched his head in irritation. Only open one day and already his customers were making unreasonable demands! Did these two think they were in Harad? What tavern in Gondor kept a stock of coffee for customers? None that he knew.

He thought carefully and then replied, "Let me see what I can do for two distressed damsels." Rimbaud disappeared in the back and magically emerged a minute later, carrying two steaming flagons. He hoped that no other customers would take up the hint and place another order for coffee. Grateful for Rimbaud's efforts, Cami and Andreth sat at a table, revelling as much in the smell of the brew as its warmth and taste.

[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]

Birdland 11-20-2002 01:37 PM

A tiny, evil snicker was heard from somewhere near his elbow. Mithadan looked around him, thinking perhaps a tipsy Hobbit had sidled up to the bar to regale a handy stranger with genealogical lore, but the stools next to him were empty.

"Down here, Eagle-Eyes", came a tiny voice, and Mithadan finally spotted the small, black and silver Neekerbreeker sitting next to him on the bar top.

"So, warming a bar stool instead of spending the evening with the little Elf-woman, eh Mith? Rimbaud, the usual." Rimbaud set a small saucer of ale on the counter, and gingerly plucked a rotten piece of lettuce from the garbage to add as garish. Mith shuddered as the insect extended its probosis into the foamy ale and proceeded to suck the saucer dry.

Bird, must you loiter around in that form? It really doesn't suit you, you know." The Numenorean picked up his glass and started to rise from the bar, hoping to seize the chance to mingle. But he was too late.

"What's that I hear you telling folk? Dogging my old traveling companion?" Birdie quickly leapt from the bar top to Mith's shoulder. "You know, I warned you. Your buddy Aragorn took sixty years to test the waters before he took the plunge. But 'no'. You two had to jump right to the plighting of troths and the exchanging of rings. Not to mention the two 'passengers' you picked up on the way." Birdie snickered again "That's what comes of shipboard romances, y'know. Something about the salt air just sweeps people off their feet. That and the sword-battles against impossible odds."

Mith rolled his eyes. "Bird, you know Pio is my Star, My Light, My Life. I just didn't realize she could be so...mecurial."

She's an elf, isn't she? Nobody ever said she was a day at the Gray Havens"

Mith scanned the room, hoping to find an old friend - any friend - and tried to change the subject. "Hmmmmm, the room's filling up fast tonight. Lots of new faces. Why don't you morph to woman's form, Bird, and introduce yourself around."

"I like checking things out in this form, Mith. Gives me a chance to size up the crowd." Bird waved her antenna around her head and rubbed her front legs together leisurely. "Looks like the tale-tellers are showing up from all over. That's the thing: a place gets one write-up in the penny press, and suddenly everybody has to come down and 'check it out' - Hey, Gandalf! New staff?"

The old wizard raised his pipe in salute and held out the six foot length of lingum vitae for inspection.

Birdie hopped off, and Mith breathed a sigh of relief. He had gotten off lightly, but knew that his extoskeletal antagonist would be back for a second round soon. He held up his glass to Rimbaud, signalling for the same again.

Rimbaud 11-20-2002 02:15 PM

After he had greeted all the newcomers, friendly faces all, Rimbaud stood apart from the bustle and looked deep in thought. His blue eyes were shaded by his hand and he cast a tall, slender shadow upon the white-washed walls.

"It is good to see new faces amongst those of the List that gather here," he said, startling a nearby large insect, which sprang from the adjacent table-top. Mithadan chuckled again, surprising himself and nearly toppling his newly-filled glass.

Rimbaud went on. "Two great tales we have here, the strong fledgling Legend of Castle Maladil and the behometh known to all as The Lonely Star. At the summation of the one, a new tale will doubtless arise, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

"At this time Gondorians will embark again on a voyage of words and images. Those that accompany them shall be gleaned from the ranks of the story-tellers from Rohan, who doubtless will have begun their journey in The Shire.

"So, my mild entreaty to new-comers would be: do not neglect the Inns and Stories of the other Realms, for they hold the passport to Gondor! When tales arise in those Realms, which they are soon to do, look to yourselves! Bear yourself to the Discussion threads and the fine establishments, The Green Dragon and The White Horse.

"There, you will encounter others starting out on their journey. For, it is well-known to most, that you do not begin your journey at the end.

"To my friends here invited, I ask thee: help soon, in the creation and nurture of Tales in the other Realms, if you find the time. Later, we may begin another great labour, here in Gondor, but more pressing matters are there to the West, in the lands of the Rohirrim and Hobbit-folk."

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

*Varda* 11-20-2002 03:23 PM

Varda sat there for some time, looking around, after listening to Rimbaud’s speech. She got up and went over to the bar, where she noticed a man named Mithadan speaking to a small creature on his shoulder. She frowned slightly, and turned away. No doubt she would find out about it later. She ordered ale, and after receiving it, turned to sit. She surveyed the room, and chose the seat by Gandalf. She hadn’t seen him for a while, being on her travels through Middle-Earth. And no one knew tales of old better than Gandalf.

Varda especially loved the tales from the West, but knew no one who could tell her many of these. Elven lore fascinated her deeply, and she quietly sang the Lay of Leithian, placing her ale down on the table on front of her.

Ransom 11-20-2002 03:29 PM

Whatever herbs Gandalf had sprinkled immediately began to work upon the sniffiling soldier. His head began to clear, allowing him to perceive the occasional sounds as music and not some demon’s attempts to stimulate his migraine headache. He gently put down his spoon and wordlessly emptied the vial into the small cup of water that the servants had provided him with. After sloshing it around for a few moments, Ransom downed the entire mixture. Despite the bitter taste of the mixture, the soldier’s coughs gradually became quiter.

Ransom set the cup down on the table and looked at the wizard. “Thank you kindly, Gandalf, for your timely intervention on my behalf. I feel obligated to order you dinner at this fine establishment, but I am at a loss at the finder points of the menu. This soup does seem to be a nice place to start, though.”

Another of the gray cloaked servants approached the table. He briskly wiped the ashes off the wood before placing a bowl of soup in front of the wizard. Ransom noted with some interest that this servant walked through a small door on the other end of the common room instead of simply disappearing. Perhaps they were human after all.

He noticed that two other cold figures were sitting in the table to his right. Both were certainly female, and they both seemed to be sipping some strange black broth. Ransom sniffed the air for a moment looking surprised. They were drinking coffee! The last time he’d dealt with the wonderful liquid, he’d almost been skewered when the coffee loving noble got himself into a bar fight in the middle of Gondor.

But the siren’s calls of his soup was too much for him, so Ransom turned and continued to eat. It seemed he’d just had another sip of the soup before a female elf slid into one of the empty seats at their table. Ransom smiled to himself. Having some sentient companionship was greatly welcome after weeks of wandering upon the road.

piosenniel 11-20-2002 04:20 PM

The road from the quay at Harlond had been a long one. And now she was thirsty and out of sorts from having been left behind. Her high boots of supple leather were caked with mud from the recent rain, and water dripped from her grey, travel-stained cloak as she stood on the landing of the Inn.

‘A new watering hole!’ she murmured to herself. ‘Perhaps they haven’t heard of me as yet.’ Her eyes gleamed from beneath the shadow of her hood as she savored the promise of anonymity.

Pio glanced again at the new carved sign to her right that swung crazily in the wind. ‘The Seventh Star.’ she read. ‘How interesting.’ She saw that only the lettering had been done. A large blank space still waited for the signifying image of the Inn, and she wondered if it would hold the image of The Burning Briar or a ship of Númenor, whose banner bore the six-pointed star of Elendil and his heirs. ‘Perhaps neither.’ she mused. ‘It may just be a singular, sibilant quirk of the owner.’

Someone was talking as she slipped in the door; all eyes in the room focused on the tall, slender man who held them in his sway. His bright, blue eyes glanced once her way and she quickly slipped into the shadows, making her way to a back booth.

She sat well out of view, her long legs stretched out in front of her on the booth’s seat. Catching the eye, of some grey clad serving man, she motioned him over with a nod of the head. He asked if he might take her cloak and arms, and she surrendered the two short knives visible in her belt, keeping the cloak wrapped round her. No need for him to know that she bore a slender blade strapped to each forearm, concealed by her long sleeved leather tunic, and a throwing knife hidden in the top of each boot, snugged safe against her soft leather leggings.

‘A pint,’ she said quietly to him, frowning when he looked at her blankly. ‘Of stout black – make sure it has the creamy head on it. And not served cold like those Westerners prefer it.’

She was enjoying her pint, savoring bitter brew as it flowed over her tongue in long draughts. ‘A three ring pint!’ she laughed, looking at the rings of foam left along the mug’s interior. ‘Another, if you please!’ she said, raising her mug to a passing server.

The drink had worked its way to her toes, warming them exquisitely. She sat back, resting her head against the pale wood of the booth, her eyes lightly closed. A familiar, rasping sound roused her from her daydreams.

‘Bye the One!’ she swore, pulling her hood further forward, her face completely now in shadow. ‘Bird!’ she muttered. ‘And that means the whole crew must be here . . .’

mark12_30 11-20-2002 05:40 PM

"Excuse me."

The grey-clad servant emerged from his shadowy door, and blinked twice. "No children served in here without their parents or guardi-- ah-- Oh. My apologies, good sir. Please excuse me."

The hobbit glowered resentfully, and grudgingly replied, "It's all right."

"Weapons should be left at the door, " the grey servant apologised.

"I left all my rocks on the riverbank, " the hobbit grumbled sarcastically. "Are there any elves in there?"

"Eh... yes, I believe there are."

"All right, then. Thanks." And with that, the hobbit stealthily slipped inside, and remained unnoticed.

Sure enough, two elves. One was seated by the fireplace. And the other had her cloak drawn closely around her to avoid recogni--


He scanned the room. Mithadan, too; and Cami?

He sighed. So much for an unsupervised adventure. All he needed was for Birdland to arrive, if she wasn't already Neekerbreeking around someplace, and he'd have four overly-watchful guardians. He considered slipping out again and finding another inn. Despite the fact that the local soup smelled awfully good, Gamba was headed back towards the door, when he heard Cami's voice behind him.

"Gamba Tuk! You are out way past your bedtime! And how on earth did you get in here without a guardian of proper age?"

Susan Delgado 11-20-2002 10:39 PM

Susan got up and wandered back to the bar for another ale. . She nodded thanks to Rimbaud when he brought her drink. As she turned away, a thought brought her back and she asked for a bowl of soup as well. She returned to the circle around the fireplace, eagerly waiting for the next story.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Susan Delgado ]

Rimbaud 11-21-2002 10:52 AM

To the assembled, listening, Rimbaud turned from his duties and spake thus: "It is fine to have you all with us, what a fine Company we make! I enjoy reading your well-constructed Stories and I hope that you continue to enjoy the hospitality of the Star."

He bowed, briefly and returned to his desk. The musicians struck up again, a slightly more jaunty melody than before. Delicious smells emanated from the kitchens and the patrons wondered what Rimbaud had up his sleeve.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

mark12_30 11-21-2002 12:44 PM

Gamba bowed his head beneath the avalanche of indignant questions that came from Cami. On cue, he replied, "Yes, Ma'am... No, Ma'am... Yes, Ma'am,", evading serious accusations as best he could, and hoping to evade serious consequences as well, long enough to have some kind of fun.

So Piosenniel was one of the elves, but there was another, "Varda", over by the fireplace. The name sounded familiar; maybe from a song. And there were a few others that looked rough and ready for action besides Mithadan. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he spied Ancalimon, dressed in long robes and looking much older than Gamba remembered; but people were calling him Gandalf.

"Yes, Ma'am... No, Ma'am..."

Cami finished, and with a stern warning that Gamba behave and keep in sight, she dragged him over to sit between her and Andreth. Oh misery, to be trapped between two loremasters when there was adventure to be had!

He listened, fidgeting, while Rimbaud spoke of stories, and fiction, and tales, and adventures. Now that sounded worthwhile. As Rimbaud continued, Gamba meandered slowly out from between Cami and Andreth, still fidgeting, and when Cami got distracted enough, he slipped away.

Mithadan absently reached for his half-finished drink, and was surprised to see one of the grey-clad attendants refilling it already. He frowned, and glanced suspiciously round at his neighbors.

Under the table, Gamba cringed and grimaced and wondered why Mithadan would want refills for something that tasted so horrible. He slipped out from under the table when Mith wasn't looking, and made his way over to one of the tables by the fireplace. Looking up at Ransom, he sat down nearby, hoping to learn about Varda, and wondering about Susan, and Amanaduial-- worried about the scary looking creatures with her; better not get too close-- and Eledrim, who looked a bit mysterious.

"Hello, " he smiled. They considered him, wondering if he was as young as he looked.

"I heard you singing the Lay of Leithian, " the hobbit said to Varda. "Nice voice. Who taught it to you?"

[ November 21, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]

Birdland 11-21-2002 12:49 PM

The new staff was lovely, but 20 minutes of the finer points of staff-making, the finish, the charms, the heft, its reactions to Perishible Fire compared to Unperishible Fire, were beginning to wear thin.

Politely excusing herself from the Wizard, Bird hopped up on the fireplace mantel and scanned the room again. A crowd was gathered around the man telling the tale of Gondor. Andreth and Cami were taking a coffee-break from their adventures in the back. Bird wondered if she could get a cup with a "touch of Entish" in it, but Rimbaud kept coffee off the menu. You had to ask for it, and then he might plead unreliable Dwarfish delivery services as an excuse to not sell it to you. Bird wondered how much Cami had had to tip the innkeeper to get their cups.

And there was Gamba, the little rascal. Apparently, no one had "carded" him. Bird figured he had chosen the Hobbit life becaues Hobbrim had no taverns. Or did they? She'd have to ask Kali.

Suddenly, she spotted a familiar figure in the very back booth. Jumping down from the mantel and morphing into woman's form (Rimbaud had scolded her for morphing first, saying the mantelpiece wouldn't hold up to such treatment) she made her way over to the mysterious Elven figure.

"Pio, if you are going to travel incognito you should really lose that "grey, travel-stained" cloak. I can spot that cloak a mile away, you know."

"Sit down and listen," Pio hissed, grabbing Birdie by the arm and pulling her down into the booth.

"What, don't you want to know who else is here at the "Seventh Star" tonight?" Bird giggled. She'd hope to stage a meeting between Mith and Pio. It was always the same. They started out arguing, had a few drinks, and then left the tavern arm-in-arm.

"I'll argue with Mith later." said Pio, knowing the drill as well. "Right now I have some information for you. Concerning Skinchangers."

At that, Birdie was all ears...

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Birdland ]

*Varda* 11-21-2002 01:19 PM

Varda smiled at the hobbit next to her, and answered his question.

“I first heard it when I was young. I loved it so much I learned it, and never forgot it,” she replied.

They made polite conversation for a little longer, but Varda was unwilling to divulge much about her past, and many details about how she had made her way to the Seventh Star, so far from the Elven regions.

She gasped slightly when she saw the small creature morph into a woman on the mantelpiece. A skinchanger in the Inn? This could be an interesting stay…

mark12_30 11-21-2002 01:44 PM

So Bird was here, too. Four guardians. But at least Bird knew how to have fun. Gamba looked at Varda, and smiled. "She's good at that. You should see her change into a dragon."

Varda's eyebrows went up. Gamba basked in her surprise, and thought, "So it's stories they want here? Perhaps that's the next bit of fun." He checked on Mith, Pio, and Cami; they all seemed distracted. He sat still a few more moments, scheming.

Mithadan 11-21-2002 03:38 PM

Bird's shape-shift surprised Mithadan. She usually did not morph in public, particularly around strangers. He watched as she proceeded to a table in the rear of the Inn occupied by a dim figure in a worn, travel stained cloak... He squinted at the figure and smiled. This place certainly attracted an interesting crowd.

He reached for his drink and found that it had somehow been filled again. He looked over to Rimbaud with arched eyebrows. The Innkeeper wandered over and said, "Had enough?" Mithadan nodded. "For now at least," he answered. Rimbaud walked away towards another customer. To Mithadan's surprise, the glass was now empty.

Shaking his head, he stood and made his way over the the booth occupied by Bird and Piosenniel. He smiled a greeting. "Belovéd..." he began.

mark12_30 11-21-2002 06:36 PM

Gamba listened happily as a new song began, but several verses into it, his scheming came to completion. Gamba jumped up on a table, and cleared his throat, and looked around expectantly. Heads turned. The musicians finished the verse they were on, and played softly.

"Hear now the tale of Piosenniel and the Drowning of the..."

Cami's jaw dropped. He knew better than to tell anyone about their secret adventures in Numenor! Gamba caught the sudden blaze in her eye and smiled...

"... Lonely Star. Many long leagues this faithful ship has borne its passengers, through many adventures and perils, but it is of the past three days that I would speak."

Mithadan and Pio turned to each other, each realising that neither had heard from The Lonely Star in several days. Bird sat up, worried.

"This ship, having faithfully served her co-owners for so long, was rocking at anchor in the south of this land, when a disagreement arose between two of the owners. One wanted to set sail for Lindon, and the other did not.

"Piosenniel, the lovely elf-lady, whose beauty would astonish you all, is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with. Many who perceive her great beauty are foolishly misled by it into thinking that she's also well-balanced and rational. The lovely Lady Pio declared in her unmeasureable wrath that if the ship would not sail to Lindon, it would sail no more. And so while the other owners celebrated the end of our journeys on the shores and in the inns, Piosenniel scuttled the ship."

Mithadan leaped to his feet. Bird spun towards Piosenniel and whispered savagely, "How COULD you!" Piosenniel stood, hands in front of her, backing towards the door, protesting her innocence and ignorance of everything the hobbit had said.

But across the room, Cami scowled icily at Gamba, and began to stand.

Gamba noticed Cami, and hurriedly wrapped up his tale. "But it has all worked out well in the end, " Gamba announced with a flourish. "For the Hobbrim have raised the ship and the Mermen and Merwomen have repaired it." Cami's eyes blazed and her fists clenched-- the Hobbrim were also supposed to be a complete secret. Gamba continued. "Thanks to their heroic hard work, today in harbor, the Lonely Star rocks at anchor as if nothing whatsoever had happened to her." Gamba bowed with a fourish, and hopped down off the table, amid scattered clapping and some cheers, and not a little consternation.

He would have liked to stay and enjoy the applause, but the room had suddenly gotten a bit too warm. He fled, disappearing out the servants' door.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]

piosenniel 11-21-2002 07:22 PM

‘Listen, Bird,’ whispered the Elf, leaning close to her friend’s ear, ‘do you remember how we talked about you doing the footwork and me doing the brain wo . . . er, research about your roots?’ She reached into the leather purse at her belt and pulled out a worn map drawn in dark blue on some worn greyish colored hide. An indecipherable script in faint red ink edged the areas drawn within its boundaries.

‘Where did you get this?’ asked Bird, fingering the odd feeling material. ‘And what is it drawn on!’

‘I got it in one of the lower level taverns in Minas Anor. I was thirsty, and stopped off at the One-eyed Corsican, on my way to catch up with all of you – you all who so rudely left me sleeping on the Star, at Harlond, and went off to have fun.’ She sat back in her chair and smiled at her old friend. ‘You remember the One-eyed Corsican, do you not? It is much the same as when we frequented it.’ Bird grinned, recalling some wild times and narrow escapes from the even then dilapidated tavern.

‘The serving boy, Marúk is still there, though now I should perhaps call him “man”, as his hair is streaked with grey, and his sweet, brown face is lined with years.’ Pio’s face softened as she spoke of him. ‘But he is still all eyes and ears and nimble fingers.’

‘And when I asked him what of interest he might have for me, he told me of a recent group of olive-skinned men who passed through. Men whose language he had not heard before. From signs and gestures and crude maps drawn on the table, he discovered they had come from lands far to the south and east of Gondor. Their funds were low, and they offered him some items of interest in exchange for the coin of the realm, and he obliged them. This map, drawn on cured mumak hide, was one of those items. ’

She smoothed out the map, and showed Bird the intriguing symbols she had noted. Scattered about the regions in discrete groupings, were cross-hatched areas. In the middle of each area was drawn a crude stick figure, each with the drawing of a different animal, insect, or bird where their head would be. ‘The big problem here is that we have no idea what regions this map refers to, only that it is somewhere east and south of Gondor.’

She looked at Bird, who was running her finger lightly from figure to figure. ‘What do you think? Could this be a lead you might somehow follow up?’

Mithadan had by this time come over to the booth, and she moved her legs, inviting him to sit beside her. ‘Give us a kiss, love.’ she laughed, kissing him lightly on the lips.

‘And your opinion on this map . . .’

************************************************** ***

Pio had her thoughts turned toward Gamba. The young scamp was up to something, she could tell. She caught the thoughts of 'Guardians' and a certain glee over an image of a ship sinking. The Lonely Star! and Hobbrim! 'What was he thinking, that he should want to stir up so much trouble for himself with Cami? Best let her deal with him.'she thought to herself.

'Play along.' she told the two at her table, as she told them what she had sensed from him. 'He needs an audience and some sort of reaction, so let us give it to him. The Lonely Star is fine, I just left it not even a day ago. And as for the Hobbrim - they are not here.'

The small tempest had come and gone and Pio continued her conversation with Bird and Mithadan.

[ November 23, 2002: Message edited by: piosenniel ]

mark12_30 11-22-2002 06:24 AM

Gamba skidded out the door, nodded at a startled grey-clad waiter, found his way through the kitchen and out an open window. He melted into the evening shadows, and was still. He listened for pursuit, and was almost disappointed that he heard none. Still, having been seen leaving, the last place he would be searched for was back inside. So he slowly made his way around to the front door again.

When another guest arrived, he melted into the inn behind them, tasking advantage of the smoky gloom. He slipped under a table, and listened, and shared several unsuspecting customer's drinks.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]

Gandalf_theGrey 11-22-2002 10:14 AM


* The roast chicken soup and brown bread with dill-butter graciously provided by Ransom was followed by a compost of pickled winter vegetables and pears, venison, rice with almonds, custard pie, and strong red wine. Varda too, came to join their dinner-table fellowship and feasting. Gandalf bade her a warm welcome and promised a tale for later, though likely he'd save it for the White Horse Inn at Rohan. *

* Meanwhile, the Seventh Star hummed with song and story, goings and comings. Gandalf had watched as if out of a dream the entrance of the Lonely Star crew ... Pio, Mith, Cami, Gamba, Bird. But though he'd known them as Ancalimon, perhaps even closely, he now felt the distance of many years between them, and looked at them as though seeing through a pane of glass seven inches thick. It had been all the wizard could do to make small talk with Bird, and then it had only been trifling silliness about his staff. *

* Suddenly, there was a tiny sound of breaking glass. Then, a tinier sound of hands sweeping it away. Funny thing, the hands seemed to be reaching out from below Gandalf's table, and the wizard's wine-glass had disappeared. With a firm grasp, Gandalf's own hands bent down and reached around two small wrists, until their owner came up into full view. *

* Gamba was quite a colorful study, face flushed beet red from wine and discomfit, hands covered in ashes and soot where the fireplace stones had sprinkled their debris on coming to rest in front of Ransom to cure his cold. *

* Gandalf smiled. * From the lowest place to the highest you'll now go, young Gamba! You tell a fine tale, perhaps now you shall become a tale for our telling. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

* Placing the end of his staff inside the back collar of Gamba's shirt, Gandalf hoisted him up to a standing position on the mantlepiece, next to one of Rimbaud's fancy Great Wyrm lamps beside the elegant plaque. * Now we can let the good Innkeeper decide your fate.

[ November 22, 2002: Message edited by: Gandalf_theGrey ]

Rimbaud 11-22-2002 11:22 AM

Upon noticing the mild commotion, Rimbaud sighed and rose. He exchanged a brief and good humoured glance with the venerable wizard. His blue eyes sparkled with some inner amusement as he crossed the Inn towards the great fireplace. People fell quiet as he approached the prostrate young Hobbit, the better to hear his judgment. The Elf Pio looked as though she wished to stand and intervene, but Mithadan laid a hand on her forearm and she remained seated, although she watched proceedings intently. Birdland sat, observing with apparent nonchalance.

Rimbaud reached the lamp. Gamba's head, with its unruly curls was on a level with his own. Rimbaud sighed again. With no visible effort, he picked Gamba up by his collar, unhooked him from the Great Wyrm lamp and help him at arms length, examining him.

"Good Sir," he started gravely, and those listening laughed at the adult formality within the Innkeeper's voice, as the addressed dangled ridiculously before him. "Good Sir, your face is not familiar to me. I do not remember your arrival," This was untrue, the Innkeeper had a knack for knowing precisely who was in the Star at any time. "It seems we have received a complaint about you, my good man...Hobbit."

Rimbaud squinted at the Hobbit, who was flapping his arms and legs and trying to speak, but no words would come. "Wait...are you old enough to be here?" asked Rimbaud in a slightly incredulous voice, as if the fact had only just become apparent to him.

"Sir...I....Sir, I am here with them!" cried the Hobbit child. He pointed, as best he could, at the table where the fair Elf couple sat, amongst friends. The tall Mithadan quirked an eyebrow and Rimbaud nodded.

"And it is good you came," declared Rimbaud, solemnly, placing Gamba back on the ground and straightening his shirt. "For the cook has been looking for you."

"The cook?" stuttered Gamba, thoroughly confused.

"Aye, the cook," said the Innkeeper. "He has been waiting for you, as there is a great pile of dishes that needs to be washed!"

Gamba spluttered indignantly, but there was no arguing with Rimbaud, and before the laughter in the room had died down, he had been swept out of the common room and through the small wooden door, recessed in the white wall to the right of the fireplace.

Gandalf nodded mock gravely as Rimbaud returned to his great desk. Birdland was still thumping the desk, convulsed in helpless laughter, mirthful tears streaming down her face.

[ November 26, 2002: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]

Birdland 11-22-2002 12:05 PM

Bird was mollified by Pio’s declarations of innocence concerning the Star. Where had that young scamp Gamba ever come up with such a tale? And the memories of the “Cross-Eyed Corsican”, and especially of Marúk, brought a smile to her face. She hoped the Elf had given her regards to the “young” pot-boy. But then she reluctantly turned her attention back to the map. After a moment of confused puzzling, Pio had reached over and turned it “right way round” for her, but it still made little sense to Birdie.

“Pio, this map shows just a small piece of a vast country. It may serve some purpose to the local who drew it, but what help can it be to us? And these figures,“ she gestured at the stick-men with the animal heads. “they could mean anything! A representation of some outlandish gods, signs to mark a good hunting spot, even nicknames for various tribes! It does us no good at all!“

Bird slumped over the table, chin in hand, and fingered the thick, soft skin of the map. She wondered why Marúk had even bothered to trade food and drink for such a useless item. Perhaps he intended to make shoes out of the leather.

She ran her fingers lightly over the faded red lettering around the margins. “This may explain everything, if we only knew someone who could read this.”

At that moment, a crash from across the room made them all turn their heads. The companions laughed as they watched Gandalf fish around under the table and pull out a protesting Gamba by one ear. As the wizard seized the young hobbit and placed him high on the mantelpiece for safekeeping, Mith gestured with his glass towards the scene and said, “Well, if you are looking for someone with knowledge of foreign tongues; I’d put my bets on the Grey.“

[ November 23, 2002: Message edited by: Birdland ]

Bêthberry 11-22-2002 02:10 PM

In transit and unable to stay, Bethberry peered in the window of The Seventh Star, seeing many friends frolicking. She wished she could stop in, and hoped to be able to join when her journey turns her eastward.


Susan Delgado 11-22-2002 02:54 PM

Susan happened to be looking out the window and saw Bethberry's forlorn visage peering in, but before she could call a greeting, the face disappeared. Disappointed, Susan hoped her friend would return as soon as she could.

VanimaEdhel 11-23-2002 03:15 PM

Estelarion and Menelduliniel bustled to the Inn door.

"We would have been here sooner, if you had not insisted we take that 'shorter' route!" Menelduliniel said to Estelarion angrily, nearly yelling.

"How would I know that a tree had caused the bridge to fall?" Estelarion said, exhasperated. It was obvious they had been arguing about this for some time by the resigned look on his face.

"You know the land better than I do. And you hear more stories," Menelduliniel said, "I would think that even just once someone would mention that the bridge had fallen!"

"Elbereth Gilthoniel! How, in the name of Manwë, am I to hear a story when I have your voice in my ear every three seconds yelling at me for minor mistakes such as these?" Estelarion said, mockingly, "'Oh, Estelarion! You should have had visions and seen that the tree was going to fall across the way, forcing me to exert my poor little body to climb over the two-foot tall log! You are more gifted than I am! Why did you not see it? It is all your fault! I am not speaking to you! But it is still your error! And, furthermore-' and on you go! I sometimes wish you were telling the truth when you threaten not to speak to me! It would at least give me some quiet!"

Menelduliniel took in a breath and looked at Estelarion indignantly, "I do not do that!" was all she could manage. She turned and angrily entered the Inn.

A story was already in progress. She silently moved across the room, her agitation still showing clearly. Estelarion entered a few minutes later and sat at the opposite side of the Inn. They bristled in rage as they listened to the stories being told, both drinking large amounts of ale...

[ November 23, 2002: Message edited by: VanimaEdhel ]

piosenniel 11-24-2002 12:58 AM

Mithadan took the map from Bird's hands, and made his way to where Gandalf now sat. He stood before the grey cloaked figure, remembering with pleasure the 'Dragon' which had diverted the ships of Gorthaur from discovering the crew of the Star.

'Anca . . .' he began, but the wizard, his eyes twinkling at the figure of the Man before him, cut off the further saying of that name, and bade the man sit with him. 'It's Gandalf, here, Mithadan. Well met, my friend!' He called for a bottle of good Dorwinion wine and two cups, and asked how he might be of service to the Star.

'For it looks as if you have a question on your mind,' he said, 'and I would be of help to you all as I can.'

Mithadan cleared a space on the table before them, and spread out the map that Pio had found. He pulled a small candle lantern near, so that it threw a soft pool of light across the grey hide. His fingers traced the red script which ran round the maps edge and pointed to the curious figures drawn on it. 'Might you recognise this script at all, Gandalf?' asked Mithadan, his eyes now on the wizard. 'And these drawings, have you seen any like these in all your far travels?'

Gandalf pulled the map closer to him, peering closely at it . . .

Gandalf_theGrey 11-24-2002 01:37 AM


* Intent on the further mystery which discovery now uncovered, Gandalf leapt to his feet, knocking against the table as he rose. Mithadan's wine-glass tilted at the rim of the table. Clutching the stem of the glass, the wizard saved himself from joining Gamba for kitchen duty, though his robes now bore penalty stains. Rimbaud smothered a smile and muttered something about patrons showing respect for the elegance of his Inn by the neatness of their clothing. Varda smiled in anticipation of a story. Ransom gazed at the map noting its script's similarities to Easterling writing. *

* Gandalf pronounced his verdict: *

The Ithryn Luin have had a hand in the making of this map. Though the flowing red script is unfamiliar, note well the subtle shading of dark blue along the lower edge of the hilly pass at the bottom: The Tengwar marks for both Pallando and Alatar have been interwoven to form part of a boundary line.

As for the red script, it distantly resembles the Harad writing style. Not closely enough, however, for me to do anything besides guess at the likely translation of a handful of words based on the easternmost dialect of Southron speech.

[ November 24, 2002: Message edited by: Gandalf_theGrey ]

mark12_30 11-24-2002 07:40 PM

Cami peered around the door, returning smiles for the kitchen staff's quizzical glances. She smiled at the cook, and gestured at the redfaced dishwasher who was, despite standing on a stool, still barely chin-high to the sink. "How's he doing?"

"Only broken two wineglasses so far, " the cook said, straightfaced.

"Oh, dear. Gamba, you really must be more careful."

"Yes, Ma'am, " Gamba slurred, concentrating with great effort on the next dish.

"My goodness, " Cami murmured, looking at the great stacks of dishes on the counter beside the boy, "He'll be busy for quite a while, won't he?"

The cook nodded.

Cami smiled, and retreated with pleasure to the main room of the Inn.

VanimaEdhel 11-25-2002 06:50 PM

Menelduliniel sighed and looked around the Inn. She saw a person looking nearly as melancholy as she felt. She walked over.

"Mae govannen," she said to the stranger, "I am Menelduliniel. What are you called?"

"I am Susan," the girl said, still looking fairly depressed.

Menelduliniel sat next to the girl.

"You do not look to be having much fun either," she said.

"I am fine," Susan said. She seemed to not want to speak. That was just too bad for her, for Menelduliniel needed to speak to someone.

"Ai, well, that is well," Menelduliniel sighed, "I just had a fight with my travelling companion. We always fight."

"Yes, I think I heard you two," Susan said.

"Really?" Menelduliniel said, speaking all the while very quickly, "I did not think we were that loud. And we were outside as well. I am from Mirkwood. Well, I was. I no longer reside there. Not much my choice, however. I have been travelling for the past years. Estelarion and I generally travel around to inns and just look for adventures. We were in Harad for a while. The Inns there are the most enjoyable. The music there is amazing. And the dancing...while I admit I am no expert, I picked it up pretty well. It is always fast dancing. And I met up with the Huin-en-Lhuig. They are the best artists I have ever heard. Estelarion and I travelled with them for a while. We all played instruments. They are all exiles as well. Did I mention that I was exiled? Ai, well, there are some things in all of our pasts that we are not proud of, right? I am over it though. Well, not over what I got exiled over, but over what I did to get exiled, if you understand what I mean. I mean, I should not have been exiled. It was an accident. Well, it was not an accident, but they did not necessarily not deserve it. All right, maybe the fact that they were marrying him was not a reason, but it was the only option at the time. You do not think I am a bad person, right? I did not think so. I loved him. Was that wrong? I think he loves me. True, he never even spoke to me, but that means nothing right? I mean, we still have a chance. Estelarion says that I am crazy, but I can still have hope, right? That is was estel means, hope, so you would think that he would have more hope for me than that. But no, he says that I should move on and get over him. But, you know, it is hard to get over one you love. But, Estelarion is wise and I suppose he knows best. I hate to admit it too. He is older than I am, though, and has been through more. If it were not for him, I would be dead or worse by now. He is my best friend. I cannot even begin to tell the endless ways he has aided and saved me. I do not know if I should give up hope, though. Do you think I should listen to Estelarion?"

Menelduliniel finished speaking and looked at Susan, who gave her a fairly surprised expression.

Ransom 11-25-2002 08:42 PM

Ransom studied the map, his mind idly sifting through the possible meaning of the map. He had very little experience in the matters of the Easterlings, especially when they didn’t directly influence Gondor. His last meeting with the inhabitants of Harad resulted in several painful bruises and a deep cut to his calf. The Grandmaster of the Blade began to reach for one of his namesakes, but groaned in frustration when his fingers closed around the sheath of his main gaunche. What was he supposed to use for a pointer now that he’d surrendered his weaponry to the gray servants?

“Tis a very interesting map, Gandalf, but I am afraid I am unfamiliar with creature of which you speak. I am a simple soldier, and I know not what these Ithryn Luin are. Could you enlighten me?

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