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Old 01-17-2007, 01:10 PM   #324
Child of the 7th Age
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Aiwendil's talents were modest when compared with those of the other Maier who had accompanied him to Arda. His companions displayed greater depths of wisdom, understood more about the nature of men and elves, and enjoyed a mastery over natural elements or crafts that he had simply lacked. His own duties in Aman had been humbler than theirs: quietly nurturing the flowers and fruits that graced the gardens of Yavanna. But in this one area alone--the ability to take on a rainbow assortment of shapes and colors and forms--the istar had excelled beyond all others of his rank. He had once been able to take on the form of every living thing in Arda, both plants and beasts, and other fantastical shapes.

Sometimes Aiwendil wondered why and how he had been granted this singular gift. It was not due to any merit on his part. Perhaps it had been the plea of Yavanna. The Lady had always been able to look into his heart and sense that her good hearted, bumbling servant who could be so withdrawn and awkward would require a special measure of protection and grace.

Aiwendil had sometimes fallen back on these skills to escape from those he was trying to avoid. Since his sailing across the Sea, he had provided what minor shapeshifting services he could for both Gandalf and Saruman while living in the area that was then called Mirkwood. Most of the time, he had staked out his own path and tried to stand clear of the troubling times. Somewhere, amidst all that isolation and pulling back, he had managed to lose a large chunk of himself, including his memories of what Manwe had originally instructed him to do and his ability to shift shapes.

Only in recent years had some of those memories and skills returned. During his stay in Harad, he had finally regained his ability to take on the shapes of at least some natural creatures in Middle-earth as well as the will to stand up and fight. Aiwendil suspected that his friendship with Rg had something to do with this change. He still had not figured out what the Lord of Aman wanted by having him stay on in Arda after all the other istari had departed or long ago deserted their cause. But he had instinctively known that going to Mordor had been the right thing.

Now in the midst of a fierce battle, watching as the last remnent of the slavers swept down on the grove intent on doing damage to the women and children, the istar knew he must act quickly. He needed to take on the form of some everyday creature, making sure not to break the rules about the limitations placed on an istar's actions in a world properly dominated by man. One time, he admitted, he had stretched those limits a bit. He could not promise that he would never do that again, but now was not the time or place. Still, it would have to be a creature with enough clout and size to try and stem the bloodshed that was about to fall on the heads of dozens of innocent people who had little means of defending themselves.

With the poor eyesight typical of boars, Aiwendil could barely make out one hazy figure just ahead: a man mounted on horseback who had hurried towards a rock-filled enclosure shielded by a ring of bracken and tangled bushes. He could see a young woman standing near the entrance. She looked familiar, although he could no longer remember her name. Aiwendil's attention was totally fixed on the ruffian on horseback who darted into the enclosure and, without dismounting, tossed the standing woman to one side. Reaching out and down, he ran his sword through the two figures huddled together on the ground with a single swift motion. The man pulled back on the reins, jerked his mount around, and sprinted towards another group of retreating figures, this one composed of several young boys.

Covering the rocky turf with surprising speed for such a large and stiff gaited animal, the boar ruffled his bristles so that they stood straight up like hackles and let out a series of enraged grunts and snorts to warn the offending upstart that he should back off the territory. As sheer rage flooded in, foam slobbered out of the boar's open mouth, the rivulets running down his jowels and chest. Aiwendil lowered his shoulders and head and, coming close to the the attacker, slammed his head and tusks upward directly into the horse's legs and flanks a number of times, leaving a series of bloody trails and filthy slobber. The man reached down with his outstretched sword taking aim at the boar's shoulders, but the blow met a shield of thick cartilage and slid harmlessly off.

With a heavy thud, his horse toppled to the ground, sending the slaver sprawling over to the side. The boys who had been under attack immediately fled. Noise and confusion ran wild, as women and children pushed outward from the grove, struggling to find new shelter. Aiwendil could hear horrible shrieks coming from different parts of the grove. A stong whiff of blood confirmed his uneasy instinct that the two other slavers had also found victims and were dispatching them with speed. His own attention was more limited, like that of the beast whose body he had chosen. Ignoring the cries coming from other victims, the boar focused on the man who was scrambling up from the ground, taking off on foot in an easterly direction. Aiwendil raced off after him across the camp and then out into the plain....

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 01-30-2007 at 01:04 AM.
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