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Old 04-19-2004, 03:34 PM   #112
Stormdancer of Doom
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Shield North of Fangorn: Mellon-Amroth, morning of Dec. 15

Echo was a fine companion; peaceful, friendly, unassuming. They waded through the long grass. Amroth laid his hand on Echo's mane, fingers twisted in the strands, and let his eyes close, bending his thoughts all along the edge of the plains. Here and there, he met other thoughts; but always, he moved on.

Mid-morning, his feet stumbled, and he opened his eyes. Echo nuzzled him.

"I am weary, " he whispered. "Why am I so weary?"

Not far in front of him ran a small stream. Beside the stream stood a long and slender horse, a lighter chestnut and taller than Echo. Beside the horse, a thin, grimy, ragged boy frowned at him and took a step backwards.

The horse wore a tattered saddle-blanket and a frayed rope tied round his chin, and that was all. The boy wore several layers of rags that hung loosely off of his body, and had a large bag at one hip.

Amroth greeted him in the Rohirric tongue, but the boy's frown only deepened. He tried Sindarin; no response. An Easterling, then. Long separated from his tribe, or so it seemed. He bent his thoughts toward the boy.

I will not harm you. I will drink from the stream.

The boy shrank away. Amroth walked upstream from the boy, and let Echo drink while he filled his water bottle. Watching the boy with his thoughts, he lay on his stomach, and drank his fill. Then he stood, and looked at the boy.

The boy stood gaping at Amroth, and Amroth gazed back at him, puzzled. The boy seemed to bear him none of the tribal ill-will that he might have expected from an Easterling. He searched deeper into the boy's thoughts. Fear, loneliness, sadness, and cold. He frowned, and looked at the boy again.

Do you have a name?

The boy frowned again, and Amroth pressed his thoughts. What shall I call you?


You are a man, and no beast.

They call me Boar. Or Pig.

They speak falsely, for you are neither. Who cares for you?

The boy gave no answer, and Amroth approached him.

Have you no companions, no friends?

Silence, within and without. Amroth grieved for the boy, and the boy saw the compassion in his eyes. He pointed at Amroth.

Amroth smiled. "Mellon." Friend. It is what men call elves around here, or so it would seem.

The lad grinned. "Mellon. Mellon?" His delight was evident.

Amroth smiled at him, and nodded. "We are friends, then. Well met."

The boy answered in a harsh tongue, and Amroth waved goodbye, crossed the stream and continued north.

He heard hoofbeats approaching behind him, and a smile crossed his face. He looked over his shoulder, and there jogging after him on his lanky chestnut was the skinny grimy boy. When Amroth halted and looked up at him, he halted too, and stared.

Amroth turned north again, and smiled at Echo. The lad tagged along.
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