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Old 06-13-2004, 07:49 PM   #302
Stormdancer of Doom
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Morning of Dec. 21, near the Undeeps

Amroth packed Echo's saddlebags, and leaped elf-style into the saddle with less than elvish grace. Ĉdegard smiled wryly.

"You could mount like a normal man."

"I am not a normal man," Amroth retorted.

Ĉdegard glanced keenly at him, and Amroth smiled. "I would take the saddle off but that the bags are strapped to it."

"That is my father's saddle, " Ĉdegard replied.

Amroth's smile faded, and he nudged Echo closer to Ĉdegard.. "I mean your father no ill. You have been a loyal and good friend and ally, and I am in debt to you I fear beyond what I can pay."

Ĉdegard shrugged, and then said, "What happened to his bridle?"

"It is in the saddlebag," Amroth said, pointing.

Ĉdegard nodded, and walked back towards Argeleafa. Amroth watched him go.

Echo, feeling Amroth's eagerness, tossed his head and jigged. The other horses were not all so eager, and Amroth knew that the slower horses must set the pace; but he wished he could give Echo his head. The young firebrand could run well.

Fresh from a night of nearly dreamless sleep, Amroth bent his thoughts southward, and hunted along the Anduin on both sides. There was no sign of her, again. Next he scanned Dagorlad; again, there was no sign of her. With a sigh, he turned his thoughts towards Gorgoroth. There was much less darkness than he expected to find; there were only echoes of malice and shadows of shadow, hidden pockets of evil rather than brazen armies. He thought it odd, and decided to ask Erebemlin about it later.

For now all that mattered was Nimrodel.

Echo's stride lengthened steadily, til the troop was strung out at an easy run. It was not long before Erebemlin and Taitheneb took the lead, and slowed their horses, giving the group a rest. Echo snorted his ire, but Amroth hardly noticed. He could all but taste the acidic fumes and the blowing ash and dust. His stomach turned. There was far more dusty, ashen ground to search in Gorgoroth than there had been at Dagorlad. He began at the eastern extreme, and worked his was slowly westward; it seemed more hopeful than going the other way.
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