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Old 07-28-2006, 05:02 AM   #120
Hilde Bracegirdle
Relic of Wandering Days
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Join Date: Dec 2002
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Hilde Bracegirdle has just left Hobbiton.

The two spies scrabbled cautiously from bluff to bluff and pit to pit, carefully working their way to the far point where Lindir had directed them. And though they found that the small brook he had mentioned had long since dried, it still was a great relief to the hobbit when they finally reached it, for not only did it mean that they were now near the camp, but the ancient stream's turbulent spill had carved its meandering way out of the hot sun and deep into the surface of the plain, so that on the eastern side its bed rose quite high undercutting the bank, and he and Vrór could run along it, hidden from the eyes of all.

And run they did, until Carl slowed his pace to a walk, as though he was out of breath. But the truth of it was that as they neared their destination, and hearing the villains’ vile oaths and curses, the hobbit’s heart beat heavily in his chest and he grew afraid that he might be overheard. Carl inched forward as quietly as he could, surprised that he no longer heard Vrór over the steady pounding in his ears. And turning around to check the dwarf’s progress, he found his companion poised a few yards behind, still as a stone with a ready axe in hand. Vrór’s wary eyes searched the top edge of the bank.

By then the hobbit heard the slow grinding crunch of footsteps approaching close by his head. He froze instantly, his breath caught in his throat as his eyes rolled up to see the tip of a dusty boot at the edge of the bank, just an arm’s length away from where he stood. It seemed like an eternity that the boot lingered there, while frantic, disjointed thoughts ran through Carl's mind. At the sound of an angry shout from the center of the camp the boot disappeared and the footfalls that followed, receded quickly from them.

Visibly relaxing his stance, Vrór rose stiffly to his toes, cautiously peering over the edge of the bank. And as Carl allowed himself to exhale, he suddenly felt faint and reached out to steady himself against the wall of earth beside him. Touching a rock that was unexpectedly wet, he hastily withdrew his hand, and was wiping it vigorously on his trousers, as Vrór joined him.

“A guard,” the dwarf said in low rumbling tones, as he pointed to the top of the bank with the head of his axe. “But we are not so close to camp that they will easily hear us.”

“Oh well then,” Carl whispered. “I do feel a bit better for that. But did you manage to see how many are there?”

“Like ants they are, all milling about. And just as easy to count!” Vrór remarked. “A fair guess would put them at 24 or 25.” The dwarf paused for a moment, his head bowed. “But I am afraid that number does not include any captives they might have with them. I could see no sign of the pit or of the children from this distance.”

“Then I suppose we will have to enter the camp some how, or at least get a closer look,” Carl said under his breath. “Though I don’t think much of our odds,” he added, sitting down. “Perhaps we had better rest here a bit, until we can devise some sort of plan.”

Vrór lowered himself slowly to the ground. “There is a wain…” he began, but before he could continue a drop of chill liquid dropped down Carl’s collar and the hobbit shot up with a start, clasping the back of his neck. “What is it?” Vrór asked, his abundant brows arching with genuine concern.

“Mostly, nerves I should hope,” Carl whispered, rolling his fingers together before lightly sniffing the residue. “Or water. See here, this rock is sweating!” Carl said pointing to a stone buried deeply in the bank.

“Water!” Vrór said, “I could use a fresh drink, instead of the stale stuff that passes for water in the streams here.” The dwarf groaned as he hefted himself up on one knee beside the rock. And searching with his thick fingers, he found a hold, pulling mightily until the stone came loose. With a wink to Carl, he removed it and a small trickle of water ran out.

“So little,” the hobbit observed.

“Ah, there should be more where that came from. Pure water too." And the dwarf dug a bit, until a hole was formed about the size of a hen’s egg. Beyond it was a deep echoing shadow. Vrór put his ear to the spot listening. With in moments his smile faded.

“No more?” Carl asked.

“I hear plenty,” the dwarf replied. “Both the babble of water close by, and of a child in the distance. But the child seems distressed.”

“Only one?” Carl whispered, his heart sinking.

“Only one voice,” Vrór said, sitting up straight.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 07-28-2006 at 06:25 PM.
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