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Old 11-15-2008, 06:15 PM   #210
Shady She-Penguin
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In a far land beyond the Sea
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"But she has no one! It would be cruel to turn her back over to her own devices. She doesn't -have- to stay with us forever, we can take her to Bree and let her have something to eat and then turn her loose on the city! Out of our hands!"

Jen couldn’t help but smile at those words. They could have been taken as rude, no doubt, but there was friendliness in there as well. And never before had anyone offered to take her with them, she had always had to plead and beg to get involved in anything even vaguely interesting. She gave Valesseka and Éomeléo a reserved but radiant smile. They were too busy with each other to really notice it, though.

Still smiling, Jen turned to look around. As she moved, there was a throbbing pain at her side and she fell to her knees. She had to gasp for air.

“Take it easy, lass. Let me help you.”

Jen was surprised to hear the dwarf’s gruff voice from behind her. “Here, let me pull you up.” Thin-Gloomy’s tone was a little awkward, but he sounded determined. Jen let the dwarf help her. She could hardly stand, the pain was so intense.

“What if I die?” she whispered, eyes suddenly full of tears.

“Nah, you won’t. You’re young and healthy and that’s just a minor cut.”

Jen searched the dwarf’s eyes for a comforting lie, but she could not find one. The beady eyes were fixed on her with an almost sympathetic expression in them.

“Thank you,” she breathed.

The dwarf smiled, and his smile was a crooked one. Then he turned in the direction of Valesseka and Éomeléo. “Hey lovebirds! Slow down a little. Your little sister’s wounded.”

Jen saw Valesseka and Éomeléo flash a grin at each other. Then they paused and stood there side by side, waiting for the girl and the dwarf to catch up.



They had been walking all day and they were finally near the cave where Thin-Gloomy had hid his treasure. He was on the lead now.

“Be careful, those rocks are difficult to climb,” he advised, climbing up nimbly as a little goat. His back didn’t pain him today. In fact, the day seemed almost too good to be true.

He approached the cave cautiously, but there were no signs of anyone having been there before them. With the help of Éomeléo and Valesseka he moved a big rock that covered the entrance of the small cave.

“Oh Valar,” Valesseka breathed at the sight of the treasure, chest after chest full of jewels and gold.
“I had forgotten it was that enormous,” Éomeléo admitted.
“So had I,” Thin-Gloomy grinned.
“I’ve never seen that much gold,” Jenfried said.

“Neither have I,” said a shrill, cold voice.

The four turned just in time to see the bandit woman reload her small crossbow and shoot. “Sweet, sweet revenge,” she laughed as her bolt sank to Thin-Gloomy’s chest.

The dwarf realised he was falling. Vaguely, he thought he must have hit the floor. But there was nothing, nothing but the pain that penetrated everything. Deep, red and white pain. Then there was a thought, one single bright thought, brighter than the pain.

I died a rich man.



As soon as the dwarf fell on the rocky ground, both Jen and Éomeléo drew their swords and jumped at the woman. She was laughing hysterically and blood was dripping from the corners of her mouth.

“No use killing her. She’s as good as dead,” Éomeléo said with disgust.

The woman was leaning against the cliff, bringing her hand to her breast. Her fingers were red with blood and Jen could see the shaft of a bolt between her fingers. She recalled the woman laying on the dungeon floor, fallen by Thin-Gloomy’s crossbow. Oh Thin-Gloomy, had your hit killed her a little sooner…

“Ugly business,” said Valesseka as the three turned their backs to the dying bandit.

“I only pity poor old Thin-Gloomy,” Éomeléo said sadly.

Jen knelt by the dead dwarf’s side. Gently, she brought his hands to his chest and closed his eyes. Then she let her eyes travel from him to the rogue woman, and eventually to the huge pile of treasure chests.

“Guess what, friends…” she said in a weak voice.

“What is it?” Valesseka asked. Éomeléo looked equally baffled.

Jen let a smile creep to her face. “We’re bloody richest people in Middle-Earth.”
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