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Old 09-18-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
mark12_30
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Leaf Friends Of Nimrodel: Tapestry of Dreams, Part 2 RPG

~*~
Friends Of Nimrodel: Tapestry of Dreams
Part 2

~*~

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Old 09-20-2006, 06:31 PM   #2
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Leaf Erebemlin leads the men southward

Erebemlin set his face toward the South gate of the Pelennor, relaxing more with every mile. Behind him he sensed two more elves, tall and shining, graceful, resolute. It was a comforting vision, and he did not turn around, but let it remain so. The menfolk followed behind.

For now, they said little. Taitheneb sensed that the men were restless and wanted to talk, but Erebemlin's silence was opressive, and ruled the rest. They marched on.

Finally the silence was broken, by the thief no less. "Can someone tell me what's the point of having these fine new horses if we are going to walk the whole way?"

Erebemlin did not answer at first. Taitheneb waited, wondering, and then knew why; were they to mount and ride, Erebemlin's mind must needs turn to his horse. The elf wanted instead to think of his king.

Erebemlin shook his head. "We will walk this day."

"Just wondering, " muttered Aeron.

Ravion watched the back of Erebemlin's head for a while. Whoever they passed gave them odd looks. Ravion felt a bit odd himself. Nevertheless it was good to be back on the road; and he for one did not mind walking. He turned and grinned at Aeron, who shrugged.

The Rohirrim felt the walking most keenly, perhaps, but they said nothing. Raefindan seemed relieved that the riding was postponed. Nethwador was far too miserable to care.

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Old 09-20-2006, 06:32 PM   #3
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White Tree

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...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:13 AM   #4
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Aeron did not want to walk. Not that he knew how to ride a horse well, of course, but he could keep on a horse's back most of the time -- except when the thing took it in it's head to trot off somehwere. Then he usually slipped around a bit, maybe fell to the ground but nothing a lad such as himself couldn't handle.

He sighed. His feet hurt. He remembered having ridden most the time. With Gwyllion behind him, her arms around his waste because her legs weren't strong enough to grip the horses belly.

One. Two. Three. He counted the steps until he lost count and had to begin again. And again. He saw Ravion grin at him, and wondered how the ranger could be so...oppressingly cheerful.

"You enjoy being on the road again?" he asked, doing a half skip every other step to keep up with the ranger's long strides.

Ravion nodded, smiling a little.

"I'd enjoy it a bit more I think if these elves knew how to be a bit more cheeful I think. Not that it would matter. I wonder why I said that, because if they did then I'd wonder at them because things are so...so...things are as grey as the mist on the moors. And yet here they are. Their faces are like the frowns before a heavy rain and it drags me to the earth, making every step a trudge." Aeron said this in a whisper, and even then felt as if he was trespassing upon the silence.

Ravion just shook his head at him. But Aeron did not see any scorn in his eyes, and he found that comforting a little.
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Old 09-21-2006, 08:22 PM   #5
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White Tree

The south gate of the Pelennor was only five miles south of the city, and they reached it quickly. The guards sent them through with kind words, and once outside the gate, they mounted. The South Road stretched before them.

Erebemlin studied Mellondu silently; Mellondu glared at him in defiance. Erebemlin led; Mellondu rode second; Nethwador joined Taitheneb, and nearby on his faithful bay rode Ædegard. Liornung, Ravion, Raefindan, and Aeron brought up the rear. Liornung chatted with Raefindan, explaining what the horse needed to know, and Raefindan did the best he could.

Ravion waited for Aeron to ask for advice; Aeron chatted about many other things.

Every now and then, Nethwador glanced over his shoulder, but not at the men. Once in a while, Aeron felt the hair stand up on the back of his own neck. He had all but forgotten about his sister while they had been passing through the South Gate, and he berated himself for it. He wondered at the occasional chill, and blamed it on the weather.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:49 AM   #6
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They rode til an hour before sunset, and then Erebemlin halted the company near a wide field on the western side of the road. He bid them dismount.

Ravion's brow creased. "Erebemlin, why do we halt now?"

Erebemlin responded with a raised brow, and then turned to Mellondu. "Make camp, then string your bow."

Archery lessons. The elf had not forgotten, thought Mellondu grimly. Now to make a fool of the blacksmith in front of the entire company! There was little to do for making camp, and it was quickly done. Taitheneb and Erebemlin stood waiting off to one side. Mellondu walked warily toward them; but he was not alone. Ravion and Raefindan followed him, their bows strung as well. Raefindan fumbled a bit with his arrows.

"What shall we aim for?" Ravion asked. He doubted an elf would suggest shooting at a tree, and anyway there were few in this field.

"Your arrow will not fly today, " replied Erebemlin.

Raefindan and Mellondu exchanged puzzled glances, but Ravion stepped forward eagerly. "Tell me what to do."

Taitheneb smiled. Erebemlin stepped back; his attention was reserved, apparently, for the blacksmith. But Taitheneb strode to Ravion, and the lessons began. The three men stood in a line, Raefindan and Mellondu watching closely as Ravion made tiny adjustments to his grip, to his stance, to his shoulders and his arm.

"Choose an aimpoint. Then close your eyes, draw, and hold."

Ravion stood stock-still, eyes closed, bow drawn. Taitheneb waited, and waited, and waited, til Ravion began to tremble with the strain.

"Open your eyes."

Ravion grunted in disappointment, and Taitheneb told him to move his feet.

What this all had to do with actually hitting something, Mellondu could not yet guess, but he was grateful that Ravion had stepped forward. When Taitheneb finished with Ravion, Ravion was weary, but bemused and happy, carefully twitching certain muscles while muttering under his breath.

Raefindan's lesson begain the same way, but did not follow the same pattern; Raefindan blushed and fumbled and gritted his teeth, muttering something about wasting the elves' time.

Taitheneb smiled. "We do not count time as you do, " he said. "Choose your aimpoint. Not that far! Much closer. There. Now close your eyes." Raefindan trembled far more quickly than had Ravion. "Now open your eyes, and look!"

Raefindan spluttered. "Miles away! I'd miss by a mile!"

"Nay, no more than fifteen yards, " replied Taitheneb, his shimmering laughter falling like rain. "Move your feet, thus. Again. Close your eyes."

Mellondu glared at Erebemlin. You will mock me, he thought. You will make a fool of me.

Taitheneb finished with Raefindan, and then looked expectantly at Erebemlin. But Erebemlin did not step forward. "Mellondu, begin with Taitheneb."

How I dread this, thought Mellondu. Taitheneb's laughter was subdued, and soon subsided as the boy's fury seethed.

At least, thought Mellondu, I shall not shake as soon as the redhaired man. I am a blacksmith and thus no weakling. Perhaps I will hold my draw as long as the ranger.

As he closed his eyes, bent at the waist, and held his draw, a strange sensation tickled at the back of his mind. It took him a while to understand it. Taitheneb bade him move his feet, and he did so, and then closed his eyes again. He bent over into the draw. The wind stirred his hair, which shimmered gold in the sunset. He took a slow breath, thinking only of his aimpoint; nothing else mattered. Nothing. The aim-point shimmered before him, the only thing in the world. He could almost touch it.

"Do not let fly! Open your eyes. Let down," said Taitheneb.

Mellondu blinked; his stance was still too wide, his aimpoint off. He blinked again.

Taitheneb spoke softly. "Close your stance a little more. Shut your eyes. Draw."

He moved his right foot. He closed his eyes, breathing. He bent forward at the waist, like a ship leaning into the wind, like a deer poised to leap. He felt the eagerness of the bow, of the string, of the arrow. He drew. He held, leaning, still and strong as a tree, waiting... on his aim-point. Nothing else mattered. He knew only his aim-point.

Nothing else mattered.

"Open your eyes, " said Taitheneb.

He blinked.

"Enough, " said Erebemlin.

Mellondu slowly let down, put his arrow in his pouch, and stood, his bow still strung, gazing with clouded eyes at his aimpoint, long after the rest of them had gone back to camp.

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Old 09-23-2006, 04:40 PM   #7
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It started with large eyes.

The wispy black lines melted into one another, creating long locks of flowing hair.

Bellyn closed her eyes once more. She now drew from memory, something she rarely did. When her father had given her maps, he had told her to copy them neatly onto new parchment. When she had drawn fiddlers or landscapes or friends, she had set herself before them, to watch as she drew.

But the subjects of her artistry had left.

Sitting near the window of her sister-in-law’s home, Bellyn opened her eyes once more and continued the shading above Liornung’s brow. She had already drawn Nethwador and Mellondu – or Amroth, as she knew him – earlier that morning, and although she had attempted to sketch Erebemlin, she had stopped, for she felt she could not do his noble features justice.

“How long have you been awake, Bella?” Rosa clambered in, grasping within her arms a large basket full of thick, leafy plants.

“Perhaps an hour,” Bellyn replied as Rosa set the basket down. Rosa began to pick through the different plants.

“Hallas has not woken up yet?” Rosa asked, and Bellyn shook her head.

“I will make breakfast this morning,” Bellyn offered. “But then, would it be alright if I went for a walk?”

“Of course!”

Bellyn made breakfast, for Rosa and her son. She helped to clean up, and helped Rosa prepare the plants she had brought home so that they could be made into medicines. Early morning had long passed when Bellyn took to the streets of Minas Tirith. She strode quickly, through the gates to higher levels, until she approached the Seventh Star.

As she entered, her first thought was of how busy the Inn seemed. It was a hustle of activity, a flurry of busy work. Bellyn felt awkward, for she stood aimlessly for a moment with a blank look on her face, searching for Leafa.

“Leafa!” Bellyn cried as soon as she caught a glimpse of the long, fair hair and blue eyes. She approached her friend, and the two embraced.

“Bella! Come, sit here,” Leafa offered a stool.

“I feel rather silly right now,” Bellyn murmured. Her hazel eyes flickered around the room, not wanting to look at her friend directly.

“Why?” Leafa inquired.

“It has been less than a day. I already miss them. I miss them all, and I am already sick of being here, and doing nothing,” Bellyn sighed. “How are you, though? Where is Mellonin?”

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Old 09-23-2006, 05:04 PM   #8
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The birds twittered on heedlessly. No travelers passing by would ever guess that those parts of the mountains were inhabited by any other than themselves, except for perhaps the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, for so they would be.

Higher in the White Mountains than other Wild Men were wonted to go dwelled a single Wild Man whose only company were those heedless birds. But dwelling is a relative term, for he did not dwell there as the Stone Folk did in their fortresses of rock, or even as birds in their nests, but rather as a fish might dwell in the sea or a horse on the plains. He wandered, keeping careful watch over the mountains and taking pleasure in the small things life brought to him, and was content.

Presently Rugh sat meditatively beneath the shadowy trees in the cold predawn light, awaiting the rising sun and listening to the rumors of the earth. He was troubled. Strange things were happening, unnatural things he did not know about or understand, only that they seemed to be epitomizing here, in these mountains.

Then he took hold of a thick dead branch on the ground near him and broke off a short piece. He felt compelled to carve, as if the earth itself was urging him on. He started at the bottom with gently flowing curves, which transformed into confused angles – lost, searching and seemed to extend into two hand-like projections, long hands, unlike his own with their stumpy but manipulative fingers – reaching out, seeking…

The carving scared and fascinated him. It was not like anything he had made before; it bore no resemblance to plant or animal or person; it – she…? – was completely other and was somehow related to the strange happenings. Rugh did not like it. It ought to be stopped, somehow, and peace returned to his mountains. Leaving the carving where he had sat, he stood up and left. He only wanted him and his mountains to be left alone.
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Old 09-24-2006, 04:36 AM   #9
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Dawn came all too soon, and Mellondu greeted it with a moan and a grumble. Erebemlin and Taitheneb were up and ready to ride; men were rising, and getting ready. And the blacksmith Mellondu reflected, was the last one up. Well, they wouldn't leave without him. Unfortunately.

Raefindan looked none too happy. Mellondu wondered at that, and decided to ask.

"Bad dreams, " muttered Raefindan, and said no more.

They broke camp, saddled their horses and prepared to ride. Echo did not come when Mellondu whistled, nor when he called. He walked toward him, but Echo stepped away. Everyone else was mounted and ready to ride south, and Mellondu could not catch his horse.

Ædegard looked distracted and troubled; Mellondu could not catch his eye. He spoke to him twice, but Ædegard did not hear. Nethwador sat glassy-eyed beside Taitheneb, who wore a bemused expression with a tinge of sadness. Everyone else looked listless and distracted. Mellondu seethed. Would no man aid him, and catch this straying horse? Echo grew more restless, and kept twenty paces between himself and the blacksmith.

Erebemlin turned his horse to face south, and the rest of the group fell in behind him; and still Echo trotted, unsaddled and unbridled, in the wide field. Finally Mellondu burst out angrily. "Will no-one help me catch this horse?"

Erebemlin met Mellondu's eye, and Echo swung eagerly toward the elf. Taking his place behind Erebemlin's horse, Echo stood proud and still.

Mellondu stalked towards his saddle and bridle, fetched them, and came to the horse. Echo snorted and tossed his head. Mellondu hastily put them on, and clambered onto the horse, who grunted, snorted, and rolled his eyes.

The group seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, and come to life. Chatter and laughter rippled, and even Erebemlin and Taitheneb began to sing. The group surged southward, and the countryside rolled past.

After a few miles, Raefindan came beside Mellondu, and said, "Aren't you going to thank the elf for catching your horse?"

Mellondu glared at him. Raefindan shrugged and fell back beside Ravion, and for a while, no one spoke to Mellondu.

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Old 09-25-2006, 06:01 PM   #10
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Mellonin

Mellonin, Seventh Star, date TBD

Hearing her name, Mellonin turned. "Bella! Good morning!" She caught up two plates, and bore them to the waiting folk, then turned toward Bella. "How fared you the night?"

"I slept fairly well. But it is harder than I thought it would be. I miss them so, " said Bella.

"Of course you do, " said Mellonin; "We all do; but there it is. So-- you'll have tea. Bread? Soup? What shall we bring you?"

Bella's startled expression only made Mellonin more resolute. "Perhaps sitting by the fire would cheer you. Come, what would you like?" Mellonin thought, I will not sulk; I will be cheerful. I will choose to do well. I will not let the grief of parting rule me. I will be cheerful.

Bella struggled for something to say. Leafa glanced down, but glanced back up again with a smile. "Tea, Bella, or coffee? Or perhaps wine, or something stronger?"
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Old 09-27-2006, 10:39 AM   #11
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Aeron shivered in the bright sun of morning and wrapped his thin cloak closer around himself. He was tired, very tired. He had not slept well, and was not thrilled with another day of riding. Sleep, and a warm cup of tea. Yes that sounded like just the thing.

He strapped the pots and pans to the saddle with stiff clumsy fingers and drifted about, ignoring the cold glares of the elves until all was ready and off they went with shoulders bowed and heads bent. Even the horses seemed to be in low spirits.

The gentle rocking motion as the horse plodded on comforted Aeron a little. He leaned forward and rested his head on the horse's neck. The cold settled more deeply into his bones and he shuddered, pressing himself close to the horse for warmth. His eyes grew heavy --all he wanted to do was sleep.

He saw the road melt away and smiled.

"Aeron."

The voice that called his name was beautiful and cold, like light striking an icycle on a winter morning. He recognized that voice with pain and joy, and opened his eyes, shouting, "Gwyllion!"

The rest of the company had disappered. He found himself not astride a horse, but standing on green grass still glimmering with drops of dew. Gwyllion was sitting on a nearby rock, with her chin resting on her knees and her bare feet tucked under her robe. She smiled at him. "Aeron."

He said, "I have missed you, Gwyllion."

She tilted her head, frowning. "Why?"

"Because you are my sister, and I loved you." It was hard to say, he didn't know why. He realized that he had never told her that before.

"Really?"

He nodded and curled up on the grass beside her stone. The sun was warm on his stomach.

"Aeron? I saw something today..."

He glanced up in alarm. Gwyllion was rocking violently back and forth, tears trickling down her cheeks. Her face was paler than he remembered it.

"Oh a terrible thing. I saw a girl on the road, and dark shadows were clustered around her, -- they reminded me of crows. I wanted to help her but I didn't know how...I ran towards her, but then she disappeared and it made me so sad Aeron because she was crying and I couldn't help her...and I wanted to help her and I don't know what has become of her..."

"Gwyll," Aeron whispered, "Gwyllion..."

And then Gwyllion was gone, and there was just the green grass and the elves ahead of them and the snort of horses. He was on the ground and he dimly realized that he must have fallen off the horse. Ravion was staring at him sadly, and said, "You fell asleep, Aeron. You were muttering, I heard you mention your sister's name. You awoke when you fell to the ground."

"I saw Gwyllion," said Aeron distractedly as he clambered to his feet. His head ached and his vision was slightly blurred. "She was sitting on a rock and she told me of a girl she found on the road -- a weeping girl plagued with shadows whom she could not help. And the girl disappeared and Gwyllion was sad because she didn't know what became of her, sad that she couldn't have helped her...she was crying, Ravion! And I couldn't comfort her because then she was gone and I was on the ground."

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Old 09-27-2006, 07:20 PM   #12
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Raefindan felt relatively at ease, having had most of the debates within himself resolved. He was supposed to be here, was supposed to travel with this party, to help Mellondu in any way that he could, to be a friend to these strangers from a time long before his own time, in the middle of which he was somehow riding. But why south? He had not been privy to the discussion and debates among the Elves and the King. He did not feel slighted thereby, for he was a visitor, a guest, and it was simple joy to wake each morning in this place where it was impossible that he should be, yet was. But why south? He had not asked, and did not choose to now; let the Elves lead on. He had enough to think on, recalling memory after memory of a time that would not come for many, many years.

Aeron fell off his horse and gave a muffled yell when he hit the ground. Ravion - who seemed to have somehow befriended Aeron, a miracle and a mercy in its own right, rivaling the storied relationship of one Gimli and one Legolas for sheer improbability - this Ravion kindly informed him that he had fallen asleep and spoken his late sister's name.

Aeron's response caught Raefindan off guard.

"You dreamed of Gwyllion, Aeron?" he asked.

"I saw her," he insisted in a partly sullen tone.

"And she spoke to you," he prompted.

But Aeron's brow furrowed. "You do not believe me?"

Raefindan closed his eyes and smiled, mildly saddened at the misunderstanding. "Aeron, I believe you. Gwyllion is tied to you. It is as Marigold said. Do you know what girl your sister spoke of?"
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Old 09-28-2006, 07:23 AM   #13
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Tolkien

Aeron closed his eyes and drew a ragged breath. "No, I don't know the girl. Just that she was lost, weeping, beset by shadows, and on the roadside." He stared at Raefindan. He didn't understand the man, only knew that he was misplaced here with his vibrant red hair. Yet he was wise, and caring. "Raefindan," he whispered, "it was so real. It could not have been just a dream."

Raefindan scratched his head. "It would be wise to tell Erebemlin of it."

"What?" Ask that elf, that cold distant elf who thought his precious was king was too precious to care about the humans? "Never."

"Aeron," said Raefindan gently, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, "the elves are wise in such matters...it would be unwise to remain silent."

Aeron glared at Erebemlin who was watching the delay with impatience. Raefindan began to steer Aeron towards the elf by the arm. "Red!" Aeron snarled.

All too soon he found himself before the elf, who stared down at him. Aeron shivered and did not meet his eyes.

"What is the meaning of this delay? Every moment is precious."

Aeron stared at the ground, and only answered when Raefindan nudged him gently in the ribs. "I saw my sister," he muttered. "She was upset about a girl she saw on the road. She couldn't help her you see...maybe," he said, "we should keep an eye out for a lost little girl? Maybe that's what it meant," he went on eagerly, ignoring Erebemlin and turning towards Raefindan. "Maybe that's why I saw Gwyll, so that we would know to watch for a lost girl and then to help her when we found her!"

"It was a dream, nothing more. Mount your horses, we are moving on."

Erebemlin set a brisker, faster face that jarred Aeron to his bones. A dream? No. He closed his eyes. It couldn't have been a dream. The tears and pain had been real.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:42 PM   #14
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Bellyn felt her cheeks flush. Was it getting hotter? She felt warm.

"Ah, tea, I suppose?" Bellyn felt flustered as Mellonin nodded and went off to get her tea. Leafa sat down next to Bellyn, and touched her arm gently.

"Are you feeling well, Bella?" she asked, and Bellyn rubbed her temples.

"I...I feel strange. It is very hot in here," Bellyn replied, and Leafa's brows knit together in some mix of confusion and concern.

"Here, Bella!" Mellonin, her face cheerful and lighthearted, handed the cup of tea to Bellyn. "I hope you enjoy it...but if you will excuse me, I must get back to working!"

"Thank you..." Bellyn took a sip, and did not feel any better. Her skin prickled, and she felt a desperate need to walk outside into the bitter cold of winter. She put her cup down in front of her, and looked to Leafa. "Thank you for seeing me, Leafa. I just wanted to know that you were faring well. I hope you and Mellonin will come visit me sometime? I could show you where I am staying. But I am not feeling well now...the cold weather has likely made me sick, and I wish to get home before I feel worse."

"Of course! You will be alright getting home?" Leafa stood when Bellyn rose from her seat, and walked with her friend to the door.

"Yes, yes. I will see you soon, Leafa," Bellyn opened the door and smiled at the cool rush of air. She felt instantly relieved of the heat in her cheeks, though her head still ached. She hoped that Rosa would be able to make some kind of concoction to make her feel better.

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Old 10-03-2006, 05:36 PM   #15
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Maegeleb/Tharonwe

Iorgil had been most helpful. He was sitting just outside Maegeleb's cell, as silently directed. He read the guard's mind while making small talk.

"What weather this day?"

"Calm but chill." The guard muffled a belch from supper.

He has been down to the Seven Stars Inn, as I suggested to his mind.

"You have eaten well, then?"

"Your pardon. Aye, well."

He has sat near enough to overhear the conversations of the women I held captive in the swamp.

"At the king's mess?"

"Nay. There's an inn on the fourth level. The Seventh Star they call it."

Maegeleb probed his mind. Humans were pathetic. There were the memories, each word and image clearly held in store, but Maegeleb knew that this man, if asked, would only be able to bring to speech a smattering of it. This way was much more efficient.

“Leafa!” An embrace. “Bella!” An invitation to sit.

"The ale must be passing fair judging by the breath with which you sour my cell."

"Aye, 'twas very good."

Less than a day. Already misses them. So the men have left Minas Anor. Sick of being here and doing nothing. Take care, a sure sign of intending to do something, like leaving Minas Anor as well.

"The least you could do was smuggle some in for me if you're going to fill my cell with vapors."

Iorgil shook his head. "Water for prisoners, that is all."

Where is Mellonin?” "Bella! Good morning! How fared you the night?" Slept well. Harder than she thought. Misses them. Pathetic humans.

"When do I get my day end meal?"

"You had it already."

Small talk of food and drink. Making such a big to-do about food and drink.

"I would like some more."

"You'll get no more."

"Are you feeling well, Bella?" The one named Bellyn seems on the verge of fever. What does that portend?

"Mind your manners. You speak to an elf lord."

"Lord or slave, a prisoner you are and one serving is enough. Orders."

Iorgil, you will go back to the Inn for breakfast and pay attention to these young women to hear and see what you can."

Iorgil stretched. "I think I'll go back there for breakfast. Looked like good food."

"You gall me with your talk of food, oh prison guard. You are most unkind."

Iorgil stretched again and yawned. "Be that as it may, lights out. I bid you a good night."

Maegeleb did not reply, but lay on his cot thinking things through long after the torch was extinguished.

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Old 10-06-2006, 07:47 PM   #16
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An early morning, a long day, and a late night. And now to bed.

She was somewhat cheered to have Leafa nearby, and to have had a visit from Bella. Although truth be told, she barely knew them.

How she missed her brother, and how she missed Raefindan. And...

She pulled the covers up tightly around her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut.

How gentle he had been, lifting her chin with one careful finger, so that she had to look into his eyes. Those green eyes; like the leaves in August, rich and strong, shimmering, moving in the wind.

She opened her eyes, and shifted, and closed them again, brushing a lock of hair away from her face. Her hand, passing across her cheek, touched a place that was too smooth. Her scar. Only it wasn't a scar; it was baby-new skin. Marigold had treated her.

But before they had arrived at Marigold's house, Ravion had treated it first; cleaned it, salved it, and dressed it, all with that gentle touch, and with trouble and concern in those forest-green eyes.

She dreamt of woodlands, and trees, and loving eyes; healing hands, the caress of water; a golden voice, the laughter of the sun-filled stream. At first. But then the woods turned cold, and the leaves fell, and the more she looked for friendly eyes, the more she saw the sun glaring off the ice. She stumbled along in her dreams, her hand warding off the glare, her feet colder and colder, her hands stiffening. She struggled on, searching for the caring eyes, the cheering voice, the healing touch; the cold stones cut her feet, the ice tore at her hands, and the silence burdened her struggling heart.
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Old 10-08-2006, 04:25 PM   #17
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Raefindan

As they rode south at a pace that was not in the least comfortable, Raefindan's eyes wandered from the mix of hurt and determination in Aeron's face, to the back of Erebemlin's head. He felt for Aeron. His instinct was to be angry with Erebemlin for his dunderheaded blindness.

It's one thing to be single mindedly committed to the purpose of your lord, Erebemlin; that's something I can personally relate to- Raefindan rehearsed the words in his mind that he doubted he'd ever actually say -but to dismiss another's dream out of hand because it doesn't fit with your agenda, is just plain foolish.

No, it wouldn't do to say that to Erebemlin. If he wouldn't listen to Aeron, he wasn't about to listen to Raefindan either; he would likely dismiss his words as the product of misplaced human sympathy. Would Erebemlin be accurate in that? Raefindan asked himself. No. Marigold had directed Aeron to cut a lock of Gwyllion's hair and keep it on his person so that the two would be bound to each other. That meant that Gwyllion was in fact likely to appear to Aeron in dreams, if not visions. Because of Marigold, Raefindan was convinced that Gwyllion's ghost was not far, had not yet traveled beyond the walls of the world. Marigold seemed to understand that the girl's purpose was not yet complete in Middle Earth. A sense of peace and contentment settled over Raefindan as he thought about this, for he was sure that Marigold's deed was part of a larger pattern, a weave, perhaps, that threaded all their actions, thoughts, and dreams together toward a purpose that none of them knew, and that the reuniting of Amroth and Nimrodel was only one small part of. Yes, this was the way things really worked; Raefindan had seen such things happen too many times to count to doubt his thought now.

"Never fear, Aeron, your dream is true, and we'll see how it weaves itself into the tapestry of our quest."

Aeron looked at him in some bewilderment. "How can you always be so cheerful and sure?"

Raefindan chuckled. It would be too hard to explain. "I think it best not to give you words to answer. Let us watch and wait, and see how the weave of events reveals the answer to your query."

Aeron looked even more confused now. "Weave of eve Ents? Reeve eels? Quarry? Raefindan, you're back to making no sense. Are there Ents that weave at dusk somewhere in southern Gondor? Eels that act like aldermen? And do I have a quarry?"

Raefindan laughed. "I'll try again. Let us see what happens, and your dream will find its meaning."

"That's better! But how that has to do with ents and eels and quarries I do not know!"

Raefindan laughed again. "Nor I! But let that be a lesson to me to take care of my words!"

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Old 10-12-2006, 08:00 PM   #18
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As soon as Bellyn had gotten home, Rosa had tended to her with gentleness and a motherly concern. Bellyn had walked in from her visit to the Seventh Star, her forehead dotted with the occasional bead of sweat, but her arms shaking with chill.

Bellyn had not the wits about her to protest when Rosa offered her own bed. The blankets wrapped around her, she tossed and turned until afternoon became night. She did not sleep well. Bellyn woke every few hours, uncomfortably hot. After throwing off the blankets, she would return to slumber before starting to shiver. This cycle of feeling overheated or freezing continued through the night, as did Bellyn's strange dreams.

She thought she could feel her skin tingle, and she rolled over as images came flooding into her head. Her closed eyes flickered as she threw the blanket off again.

A woman, tall and elegant, stood before Bellyn. Around her, a beautiful forest stretched far into the distance. The leaves of the trees tumbled slowly, gracefully to the ground. For a moment, Bellyn lay still in her bed as the flawless scenery enveloped her dreams.

It did not last for long.

Suddenly, the dream flashed from the radiance of the forest to the melancholy of a rocky, desolate mountain pass. Far in the distance, as high as the gloomy grey skyline, Bellyn could see snow-capped peaks. The color washed away from the scenery, and the hue of the lady’s skin drained from her face. Her eyes no longer shone.

The lady whipped her head around, as if she had heard something.

“We will find Nimrodel, I know it,” said one voice.

“We cannot search forever,” complained another. The voices seemed to sound more and more distant with each word.

“We are here! We are here!” Dream-Bellyn tried to shout; not a sound came from her parted lips. Her screaming seemed to evaporate into the air. “We are here!”

The woman before Bellyn said nothing.

Bellyn awoke from her nightmare, sweating. Her eyes, sore from restless slumber, blinked rapidly to allow aching tears to fall. She looked to her left and saw her pack, the pack that she had brought all the way from Rohan to Gondor. Bellyn tried to calm herself but the beating in her heart continued at a rapid pace. She rolled out of Rosa’s bed, grabbed her pack, and left the house as quickly as possible, caring not if she woke her sister-in-law or her nephew.

Out into the chill air, Bellyn sped up into a run, moving down the streets frantically. Her destination was far enough away for the girl to regain her composure, to remember her senses and go home. Her heart and tired eyes hurt, but she had one thought in her mind: she had to find her horse, and she needed to find the woman.

She found the Seventh Star, and saw the nearby stables. Her horse would be there. She hoped it was not so late that the stables would be locked – Bellyn was quite uncertain of the time. But the doors were opened, and next to Leafa’s horse she found her own.

Within minutes Bellyn was out of the stables. Bellyn’s mind raced. She knew she had to leave Minas Tirith. The white peaks…the woman…it came together in an intricate mental map.

Bellyn had never tried to navigate on her own before. She had drawn map after map; the cities, the forests, and the rivers matched perfectly in her mind. Bellyn did worry how she would find the White Mountains, the snow-capped peaks she thought she had seen in her dreams. She hoped she did not get lost.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:10 PM   #19
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The river woman whistled from her two-leggeds' den. "Tirril!" she called in her sing-song way. "Jorje!"

Jorje lifted his nose from the ground and cocked an ear. He grinned. He liked the way the river woman used both his names. He kissed the air with his tongue and ran toward the den, panting and grinning happily all the way. She had human-hand-licked him and hand-nipped his ears right at the roots the way the best humans knew how to do.

"I have a running and hunting for you to do, Jorje Tirril."

Jorje sniffed at her reedy breath and glowy face. Running? Hunting?

"Remember Leaf woman and Dark woman and Man woman? I want you to find them."

What for? Bring them back?

"I want you to sniff out the dangers near and far in the high places and warn them."

She took his broad head in her two hands so that he was looking into her eyes. He did not like looking into the eyes of humans, for they were great and their eyes had things behind them he didn't know how to smell. Jorje knew that they couldn't smell the dog-sense he had behind his nose, but there was something great in humans behind those eyes of theirs, and it usually scared him; not with river woman though. He sniffed a difference in her, some way she had of smelling but not with her nose, so her eyes didn't scare him so much. He met her eyes now.

"Sniff out the strangers and tell the women if they be friend or fiend. Sniff for the bad elf, the one who ran the eermy ones back in the swamp."

Jorje remembered and almost retched right then and there. The river woman grinned.

"May the aroo go with you wherever you go. Be witty and sniff well, and may your paws be whole and may your legs run fast at need. Now go!"

She let go. Jorje was off at a gallop next instant. The ground flew by beneath his feet. After a little while he slowed his pace but his excitement stayed with him. The river woman had sent him on the hunt. He was glad to be running!
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:31 PM   #20
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save for Mellonin

"The faithless one? Why do you name her? Her memory brings me no joy."

"My lady, we do not know why she left. You know she loved you."

"Nay, I know it not. Had she loved me she would not have left. No, " said Nimrodel in a rare moment of clarity, "your friendship, Mithrellas, stands alone in my life; your faithfulness is unmatched. No other remains. Least of all, the Faithless one-- The Unwilling one."

Mithrellas watched as the moment of gratefulness passed. She grieved its passing as she had rejoiced to see it; silently. Now bitterness glittered in her lady's eyes. Mithrellas said only, "My lady, name her not so."

"Nay; name her not otherwise. Unwlling she was, and so she shall be known. Let the West have her faithlessness; Let them suffer her fickle heart-- The Unwilling One."

Avarien. The sound of the word settled over her soul like a grey woolen cloak, muffling her, hiding her from her self, taking away what she knew of herself and replacing it with the name Nimrodel had given her. Avarien.

She shuddered, and woke with a resolve as thankless and grim as her new name.

She dressed quickly in the dark: boots and breeches, tunic, dress, shawl, cloak. Passing through the kitchen, she gathered a small bag of supplies, and tying it up with the blanket, slung it onto her back. Leaving the Inn, she passed silently through the empty streets; indeed, the mist made her hearly invisible.

She noiselessly opened the large stable door, silently entered, and stood in the darkened aisle. "Hear me, " she said softly. "My mistress Nimrodel languishes in the hills, sorely in need of aid. Who will help me?"

A dark head, shaggy and plain but for the wise eyes, reached up over a stall door, giving a soft whicker.

The girl bowed her head, stepped towards the door, lifted the latch, and opened it. The dark horse stepped carefully out, and then turned sideways and dropped his head. The girl took a deep breath, gathered her skirts in her right hand, grasped the horse's mane with her left, and swung lightly onto his back. Roheryn gave her a moment to settle onto his back, and then trotted out the stable door and into the road.

At the hoofbeats, two groggy voices called, and two stableboys tumbled blearily from their beds and stumbled into the aisle, to see only the open door and the now empty stall. They ran to the door, commanding the horse to halt, but neither the horse nor the girl gave them heed. Roheryn cantered down the winding road, the two stable boys giving chase and falling far behind. Sleepy passers-by blinked at the odd sight in the predawn light.

The gate was opening to greet the mist-veiled dawn when Roheryn aproached it. Hearing the shouts from the stable, half the guards surged forward while the other half stretched into a line across the open gate. The horse checked himself, shying and swerving past guards as they snatched for his reins and found none. Roheryn turned away from the ragged line of men blocking the open gate, while the guards ran at him again. He churned away from each in turn, shying this way and that, his shoes sparking against the cobblestones. The girl cried out angrily, "Let me pass! In the name of Amroth, let me pass!" The horse reared again, still dodging soldiers, and then circled back into the courtyard, turned towards the still-open gate and hurled himself towards the line of men that stretched across it. The gate captain's voice rang out.

"Let him pass! Let him pass!"

The men divided and fled the oncoming horse. Roheryn ran through the gate and raced northward. For a moment his hooves beat a sharp tattoo on the road, and then he swerved onto the turf, and melted into the grey countryside.

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Old 10-29-2006, 10:31 PM   #21
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"Faramir, I need to speak to you," the Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien slowed down in the halls of the citadel as his King caught up to him.

"Yes, milord Elessar, what can I do for you?"

"Captain Ingold has just brought a rather distraught father and mother to me. It seems that their daughter and several of her lady acquaintances have disappeared from the city."

Elessar seemed to be in a somewhat stormy mood, noted Faramir, who did his best to keep his tone serious and not as tired as he felt. Disappearing young ladies, while troublesome, did not quite merit the attention of the King and Steward. Unless...

"Milord, is there any reason Captain Ingold brought these parents to you, rather than just searching on his own?"

Elessar nodded, a hand running distractedly through his hair.

"The son of the couple was sent from Minas Tirith but a few days ago, with provisions from our storehouses and with my blessing. You will recall the Elves that I was talking about."

"The ones seeking Amroth's fëa?"

"Not exactly..." Elessar decided not to descend into a discussion then and there on how they already had Amroth's fëa and how it was Nimrodel they were looking for, and any of that. More important things were afoot.

"But the same Elves. The missing daughter, Mellonin, was the sister of Mellondu, the young blacksmith. All of the missing ladies were companions of the questors before they came to Minas Tirith."

"And you think there is a connection, that these ladies may have followed them?"

"It seems likely." The situation explained, Elessar moved on to the reason he was talking to Faramir.

"I'm having Ingold's men search the city, and learn what they can here, but I'd like a number of your rangers to find these young ladies, and escort them to safety. I trust rangers in such a task over ordinary guardsmen."

"Once a ranger, always a ranger," laughed Faramir with a slight bow. "As you wish, Milord King; I think I can find enough rangers here in the city."

At this moment a swift tapping of footsteps on stone echoed up the corridor from behind them. Captain Ingold dashed up to them.

"Sire," he bowed to the King, "we've got a lead on them. They stole a horse from the Royal Stables."

"From the Royal Stables?" Faramir arched an eyebrow in amusement.

"Yes, Lord Steward," Ingold nodded, still puffing slightly. "It was your horse, Sire," he turned to Elessar, "Roheryn."

Elessar's face betrayed no sense of either crisis or bemusement. "All the more reason to find these young ladies. Lord Faramir, I shall leave it in your capable hands."

Nodding to Faramir and Ingold, Elessar strode down the hall, just a bit faster than usual, Faramir thought.

~*~

"You requested my presence, Lord Faramir?"

Bergil son of Beregond, Ranger of Ithilien, looked down at the Steward's desk. He was a tall, dark-haired young man in his early-to-mid twenties, tall and lithe in the Númenorean norm. He looked slightly anxious at having been called into the Steward's study while on what was supposed to have been leave. But it could have been curiosity as easily as fear. Bergil had been acquainted with Faramir since the War, when his father had saved the Steward's life and become Captain of the White Guard.

"Yes, Bergil," Faramir looked up, pushing away the papers, and gesturing with his right hand for Bergil to sit. "I'm sorry to have to call you away from your leave, but the number of rangers in Minas Tirith is fewer than I thought, and we have a not-so-straightforward case to deal with."

"Sir?" Bergil gave Faramir as a puzzled look as he took his chair. Faramir quickly outlined the situation of Mellondu and his companions setting out southwards, and Mellonin's disappearance, giving a slight account of the events previously, as he knew them.

"Ingold's investigations have made things a little more complicated, I fear," continued Faramir. "Instead of going south, and following the Elves, as we expected, all witness reports say that the ladies went north, towards Anórien. Possibly to Cair Andros, possibly to Rohan, possibly to Lórien, possibly to swing south again. We do not know.

"And that is why we need more rangers than I expected. I'm sending men north and south, and I'll check at Osgiliath or Cair Andros to see if they have crossed Anduin. You get the easy task, though, as recompense for disturbing your leave. I'm sending you straight down the great road southwards. Riding alone, and changing horses at the waystations, you should be able to overtake the women without difficulty. Or, if they have not gone that way, you should catch the Elves and their companions. If the women are not with them, you can return to Minas Tirith, and we shall know they did not go that way. If you do find them, bring them back to Minas Tirith, or at least send word, if they and their menfolk prefer to keep them with them."

Bergil nodded, getting excited. This sounded exciting. Several missing damsels in distress; Elves on a high quest; the spirit of a long-dead Elvenking; no apparent villains. Certainly, he thought, worthy of sacrificing a few weeks of leave, even if it meant not visiting Great-Aunt Morwen. Especially if it meant not visiting Great-Aunt Morwen.

"I can be ready to leave by sundown," he said, rising. "Sooner, probably."

"Sooner is better," said Faramir. "The blessings of the Valar go with you, Bergil."

Bergil nodded, and with a bounce in his step turned to leave.

"And Bergil," called Faramir. Bergil paused, and turned.

"Thank you."

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Old 11-14-2006, 10:52 AM   #22
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Tharonwë

Tharonwe watched his jailer, Iorgil. The man appeared to be quite satisfied with his supper, if his rather rancid and ale-ridden belch was any indication.

"What news, jailer?"

You will tell me that which is most important in your mind.

"Stolen horse, the king's own."

"Indeed? Who is the thief?"

You will tell me who you truly believe instead of telling me nothing.

"There is word that some women who were expected to remain behind an adventuring party have left the city."

"I see. How odd. Do you not think so?"

"Aye. Women ought to stay with their men, or if their men must leave, stay behind with the little ones."

"Indeed. Might there be the smallest chance that I could have an extra bit of porridge? I am cold this night."

You will give me what I ask for and you will drop your keys and fail to notice it, then leave.

"Oh aye, I suppose I could."

Events occurred precisely as Tharonwe wished. He waited for hours. At least, when he deemed it, by his sanwë, to be long past midnight, he opened his cell and crept out of the prison on quiet feet. Only another Elf could have seen him pass, and none stood guard. He sought the sleeping mind of Iorgil and found him, asleep in his own home on the fifth level. He went to his home, entered through the window, placed the keys back in the man's jerkin, and left the city in search of some women. He had an idea what they looked like and who they were. He walked north.

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Old 11-15-2006, 02:32 PM   #23
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Aeron...

The boy opened his eyes and found himself sprawled on bright green grass. Yellow and white flowers dotted the field and a bird twittered happily somewhere.

"Gwyllion?" And then he saw her. She was sitting on the grass, her arms clasped around her knees. A crown of flowers hung lopsided on her head.

The petals were wilted.

Traces of tears were on her cheeks.

"Gwyllion, what's wrong?" he asked, putting his arm around her shoulders.

"I don't know," she whispered. "Aeron, I am glad you never left me. I do not know what I would have done if you had left me..."

"What are you doing thinking such thoughts?" Aeron asked. "I would have to have a heart of stone rimmed in the coldest ice to even have such a thought enter my head."

She was silent. Her head rested against his shoulders, her eyes closed. A wind rustled by and the crown of flowers slipped off into her lap. Some of the wilted petals shuddered a little and scattered in the gentle breeze.

"I have heard a ghost of a whisper, a shade of bitterness," Gwyllion whispered. "I have heard of The Unwilling One, and I am afraid."

Aeron frowned. "Who is The Unwilling One?"

"I do not know, brother. I do not know. Just like I do not know why the Map maker dreamed of the white peaks and has determined to find them, or why Mellonin so rashly seeks for poor Nimrodel --"

"What? They're not off in any hills, Gwyll. They're safe and sound in Gondor, in Minas Tirith. I wouldn't be surprised if they were all drinking tea and happily chattering about whatever things women talk about."

She looked at Aeron, her eyes soft and wide and sad. "No. It cannot be. I have seen them like figures in the mist. And they are not there...they are not there. They have gone to the mountains to seek for poor Nimrodel. They think they know where she wanders, though

none can tell,
In sunlight or in shade;
For lost of yore was Nimrodel
And in the mountains strayed.


The crown of flowers faded until Aeron thought they were like the corpse of spring.

The flowers melted away, the green grass faded, and Gwyllion vanished. Aeron found himself opening his eyes again, found that he was again in the company of his friends. He stood straight, and said, "There is trouble. Grave, horrible trouble. Mellonin and Bellyn have gone. They've gone to the mountains that were sunk in grey to find the Lady Nimrodel."
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Old 11-15-2006, 03:29 PM   #24
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Dawn came grey and cold in the hills of the Ered Nimrais. The pale, chilled sun shone at its weakest over a ramshackle wooden hut, overhung by a grove of dying trees. Gloom hung in the air. Yet despite the dismal scene, a few pallid rays, mingled with light flurries of snow, made their way to shine through the unpatched chinks in the hut’s poorly repaired roof and the few spaces left around its shade-darkened windows.

The hut’s interior would now have been almost visible to a visitor, had any been bold or foolish enough to venture near it. Evil rumors surrounded the valley it occupied: rumors of a cruel witch - or wraith - who haunted the valley, turning it to a place of dread. Few of the hill-folk dared to come near. And if they did venture near the cursed valley, for so it was named since Sæthryd had come there, they returned with a haunted look in their eyes and faintly whispered tales of ill fortune barely escaped. If they returned at all. It was little wonder that the hut saw few guests.

The sun crept higher, and the light grew brighter. Now it illumined a dusty table and chairs, a few wooden dishes, metal knives, a few traps for game. And, in a corner, a few strands of blonde hair on a pillow. Below the hair, a pale face slumbered until, as the light rose again, the eyes snapped open. Sæthryd awoke.

She rose, stretching her arms above her, and stalked to her fire. Its last embers were beginning to go out. She added a fresh log and stirred the dwindling flame back to life. A red light flashed over Sæthryd, casting her shadow over the walls around her.

How many years had she been here, living this solitary existence? Sæthryd had lost count. One day flowed into the next, adding at last into weeks, months, and years. Little interrupted her routine. Up in the morning, a quick meal, and out to scavenge a few roots and herbs. To check her snares for meat. And, most importantly, to see that no intruders trespassed upon the secret ways of the mountains.

For those secret paths belonged to the Dead. Most had gone, years ago, before Sæthryd came to her hidden valley, before she walked along the ways they once haunted. Yet their presence remained. She knew. She saw. She heard, as now and again, the dead spoke to her. Of course they did. It was only natural that they did so. For she was dead too. Sæthryd never lived. She was born dead beneath the shadow of the dead mountain. Born dead to walk with the dead until at last her body completed its slow death and left her lifeless mind to wander free. That was how things were meant to be. That was why the dead had chosen her as their guardian. She knew it was so.

A thrashing in the brush caught Sæthryd’s ear. The valley is ours. The paths are ours. They belong to us. They belong to the dead alone. Abandoning the fire, she threw her door ajar and ran barefoot into the snow. The valley was hers. No one must be allowed to enter. She hurried to the sound, half bent at the waist, her hair flying in the waxing wind, and lunged into the winter-bare branches. They scratched her cheek, drawing blood. But she pushed on undaunted, until, the source of the disturbance discovered, she stopped.

A crow flapped in the brush, its foot caught in one of Sæthryd’s snares. She reached out grinning and snatched the bird, crushing its throat in her hands. It struggled to free itself and its wings flapped frantically. But Sæthryd did not cease the pressure of her fingers. The crow grew still. It is well. You too are now dead, little bird. As are all here. It is well. You may pass. Still smiling, she took the bird’s body and hurried back to her hut. It was cold, and her limbs ached for the warmth of the fire.

Inside, the fire was roaring. Ducking outside again briefly, Sæthryd scooped snow into a kettle and set it over the fire to melt. She sat by the fire, plucking and dressing her victim and, as she cut the bird into pieces and dropped them into the kettle, Sæthryd sang wordlessly in her mirth.

The snow began to fall heavily. A wind blew down the valley. Sæthryd’s song, like a wail both cold and wild, rose with the smoke of her fire. The noise, borne aloft by the weather, journeyed afar to be heard by the hill folk. They heard her call and whispered in frightened voices. The wild woman was awake.
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Old 11-18-2006, 05:10 PM   #25
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Two days out from Minas Tirith, Bergil was making speedy progress down the great road towards Pelargir, past Lossarnach, and into Lebennin. Switching horses at every waystation, and sleeping only a few hours a night, he was certainly moving at a faster pace than the Elves and their company, who had left a trail of tales behind them in the hamlets and farms along the way. He had heard no similar stories of the missing ladies, but they might have been more discreet, and travelling ladies, while unusual on their own, are not as memorable as Elves.

Evening waned, the sun already down below the mountainous horizon to the west, and Bergil reckoned that he had little more than an hour before it would be completely dark, and he'd stop to rest. He was probably within a day's ride of the Elves and their company, and he had little desire to pass them in the dark.

Lebennin was a fairly flat and grassy land, lightly populated, and rolling gently down towards the Falas. Bergil was beginning to scan the countryside for any sort of a sheltered place to spend the night. The weather was clement, and robbers were unheard of along this highway, but drilled-in instincts searched anyway. An any event, he might yet locate the Elves. he had given up expecting to find the ladies along the road. He should have caught them already.

Eyes sweeping over the edge of the road, Bergil nearly didn't see the small figure on the edge of it ahead of him. Only the quick action of his steed's rearing up alerted him to the little girl sitting, wide-eyed, on the cobblestones, shivering.

Bergil leapt clear of his horse, grabbing the reins, and proceeding to thank and calm the startled animal. Sure of the horse, Bergil then bent over the girl. She looked terrified.

"Good even, young one," he said, crouching. "What are you doing out here, all alone?"

The girl, who Bergil judged to be no older than maybe six, bit her lip timidly, still looking up at him with wide tear-stained brown eyes. Her dress, face, and hands were grimy, and her hair hadn't seen a brush in a couple days. Bergil thought she looked both tired and hungry.

"N-n-nothing?" she whispered, watching past him to his horse. Though the road was well travelled, no strangers had yet taken notice of her; she had not been here long.

"I can see that," said Bergil, smiling widely. "How did you get here."

"I don't know." Her little voice cracked and he offered her his water skin, helping her drink.

Bergil kept smiling, but frowned inwardly. What if this girl didn't know where she came from?

"What's your name, child?" he asked, leaving that more serious issue for the moment.

"Indil." She wrapped her thin arms around her dirty knees and looked up and down the road.

"Well, Indil, I am Bergil. And I think we need to get you back to your parents. Do you know where you came from."

From the even wider eyes, Bergil had the suspicion that Indil's next words wouldn't be good. His suspicions were confirmed when, instead of her previous whispers, she began to cry.
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Old 11-20-2006, 09:24 PM   #26
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Raefindan had an odd sense that just didn't make sense, as if Angela was not far.

How can that be? I'm finally settled with the fact that I'm here, and that this is real rather than just a setting in a book I've read. And I thought it was feigned history. But I've been to other places I didn't at first believe could exist, and have done things I never thought I'd do, things experts back where I come from insist are not possible, mere fleetings of overworked imaginations. Yet I was there, and now I'm here. But you, Angela, how can you be here? I thought you were in, well, you know, that other 'place'?

He heard no words in his mind, saw no vision, but in his mind's eye saw her, looking at him with that playful, completed, healthy and whole presence she had the last time he had seen her, after her death. And now he sensed her near. Not too near.

Angela, are you here?

He looked over the rolling grasslands, at the wind blown sky, his eyes stinging in the cool wind that blew off the not so distant Bay of Belfalas.

I wish that I could be with you again, and that it wouldn't end this time.

He felt a heaviness in his throat.

"What ails you, Raefindan?" asked Aeron, shaking him out of his reverie. He was riding next to him.

"Oh, just thinking of-" he paused. What could he say that was both true and safe? "-someone from back home."

"Where is home?"

"Nowhere that I can reach from here," Raefindan said with a note of irony.

"Sometimes, Raefindan," said Aeron, "I think you are moonstruck."

"Then I think that you are not far from the truth, my friend."

Aeron grinned and shook his head.
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Old 12-03-2006, 03:33 PM   #27
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Bergil's eyes widened slightly in terror as Indil broke down crying, but he stifled his fears for finding the child's family as he held her tight, letting her sob in his arms.

"There, there," he said soothingly. "You needn't worry about it, little one. Not right now."

How long had Indil been wandering the countryside, wondered Bergil, gazing up at the heavens, the sun nearly gone over the horizon. She was exhausted, and hungry. Well, the young ranger decided, something could be done about that, at least.

"Indil," he said quietly, holding her gently as he moved her from his shoulder to look her in the eyes. "Let's get you cleaned up, and then get you something to eat. Would that be okay."

Indil nodded slightly. Bergil picked her up, marvelling at how light the little girl was, and carried her over to his horse, and removed his waterskin. Spilling some of the contents over his hand, Bergil scrubbed Indil's face of the grime and tears, and pushed her hair out of her face.

"I hope you like travel provisions," muttered Bergil, more to himself than to Indil, but he had few fears there. Indil hadn't eaten in hours--or maybe days--and eagerly tucked into the waybread, cheese, and dried meat. Bergil ate little himself, his appetite sapped by concern for the girl.

Once Indil had finished eating, Bergil picked her up, and slung her over his saddle.

"We're going to look for somewhere to stay the night," he said to the terrified little girl, whose eyes were staring in terror at the mane of the great beast. Bergil quickly swung up behind her, and held her tight.

"Don't be afraid," he whispered, bending over her. He flicked the reins, and the horse trotted back towards the road, and they were off, the last rays of sunlight peering over the mountains. Indil fell asleep soon, slumped against him, his arm protectively wrapped around her.

Glancing down, Bergil wondered at the irony of his concern. Her thumb tucked comfortably in her mouth, and snuggled under his arm, Indil looked concerned for nothing, whereas he, the confident adult who knew who and where he was, was the one who was terrified for her future. What if he was taking her farther from her family? What if they never found her family? It was not a far-fetched idea, really.

It was several hours later and completely dark when Bergil finally stopped to sleep. His mind was still racing with questions, but his body and his steed were ready to sleep, and in a treed grove to the side of the highway, he was willing to attempt it.

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Old 12-03-2006, 03:48 PM   #28
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With Bergil's careful arms around her, Indil slept soundly for a time, blanketed in the gentle black fog of emptiness. Bergil watched her for a time as she lay still, her cheeks still blotched with tears and the sounds of a runny nose interrupting her shallow breathing. Wrapped in a blanket, she seemed even smaller, an impressive feat, and Bergil wondered suddenly if her father had watched her sleep thusly just last night, perhaps... But she did not know how long she had been apart from her parents, he thought. He would need to ask her that, and many other questions. Where had they been? Could she describe it? What did her parents look like, and what were their names... But for now, let the little girl sleep.

And she did, her thumb tucked in her mouth unconsciously. As Bergil watched, her eyelids began to quiver faintly, never opening.

'Mama!' and a glimpse of flowers fallen on a clean swept floor turning to dry dirt swept clear and a small fire. 'Mama, for you, but they fell.' and a spin through the air, strong hands holding her.

'Little Indil, pretty lass, run along and--"

The flowers are burning, and there is a voice in the mountains, cackling good morning to birdcall and cold wind.

She shivered in her sleep, curling tight.

'Why so long in coming for me?' Despair. A voice on the wind. Cold burning sunlight and deep nothingness inside. 'Why have you forsaken me?'

And a song and the flight of birds, playing over a cliff's edge, dancing on air, daring the fall to claim them, darting and singing, and there is the sound of humming. Of faint singing, of a song of flowers and seconds passing to the sound of silver chimes on wind.

'He will come.'

'Mama?'

A fire burns too high and there is running. The sound of panicked horses, of hooves on hard ground. A scream. A dull thud.

'Little Indil, where are you going?'

Indil woke with a scream, with darkness surrounding her, and through sleep and time, she felt ghost fingers tracing a phantom inquiry against her back, and for a long time after, even in Bergil's strong arms again, she could not sleep, and could not remember why.

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Old 12-07-2006, 04:26 PM   #29
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Shield

Roheryn galloped, a steady mile-eating gallop, til he was past the North Pelennor gate. The guards gave the pair an odd look, but it was peace time, and if a woman chose to leave the Pelennor walls on horseback, they had no reason to forbid her. One guard gave the horse a searching look, but let him pass.

Back onto soft turf, Roheryn swung westward. He could feel his rider grow weary, and the wearier she grew, the more he slowed, til he turned southward into a dark wood nestled in the roots of the mountains. She slid off, wrapped herself in her cloaks, and fell into a deep sleep. He stood guard over her for a while, but there were no sounds of any pursuit, and before long he drifted off to sleep.

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Old 12-09-2006, 10:17 PM   #30
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Ædegard missed Leafa. For the two dozenth time since they'd left Minas Anor, he wondered what good he might be on this quest that had little if anything to do with an Eorling wheelwright. But he had given his word to Bêthberry; well, he had not given his word, but it was as good as having been done, for he meant to see it through, whatever it was. It was the Eorling way. A song came to him out of the dust heap of his memories from childhood, sung by a wayfaring Eorling minstrel. He haltingly mumbled the words to a simple tune that it seemed to him had come with the words that first time.

Hear of a hero ~ in the days of Helm,
of Béoldric of Westfold ~ who walked the wilds
with scabbarded sword ~ at his side always ready;
for in the Long Winter ~ came lean wolves,
fierce and fell ~ on the rim of Rohan,
their eyes lit ~ with evil light
setting fear ~ in the stoutest folk.

Béoldric the bold ~ feared no foe,
nor warrior nor wolf, ~ orc nor woses,
and hied him upward ~ to the hills and heights,
snowcovered and slippery, ~ the wind slicing.
Night came so cold ~ that his cloak did nought
to hold at bay ~ the hoar from Béoldric,
the wind whirling ~ and howling like wolves.


"What song is that?" asked Raefindan.

"'Tis a song of the Eorlingas," answered Ædegard. "Somehow it helps to ward the chill to think of another who suffered it worse and failed not."

"Sing it again, if you please, from the start. I would hear it again for it sounded well to me."

"Well enough," Ædegard smiled, heartened, and sang it over again, and told more of the tale in song.

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Old 12-11-2006, 02:22 PM   #31
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1420!

"Erebemlin, what if Aeron is right? What if Bella and my sister have left the city?"

"They were told to remain safe in the city. We cannot turn aside at every rumor, " said the golden elf.

Mellondu worried a while about his sister, and about Bella; and then he remembered how glad she was to be home, and how she had clung to their parents.

She would not have left.

He glanced sidelong at Aeron. What did he know about him? That the others regarded him with a cool eye. Hadn't he been called a theif? And hadn't he been off, gadding about, during their return to the city? He was surprised the fellow had come along anyway.

Who would his father trust first? he wondered. The elf. Both the elves. He took a deep breath, and reminded himself yet again that his sister had been so glad to be home, and how she had resisted the idea of his leaving.

No, she would not have left.

Ædegard began to sing, and it was a welcome distraction from his snowflurry of thoughts. He listened.

A tale at last. I have languished in spirit without them.

Mellondu looked at the thought, and wondered at it. He had thought that his languishing in spirit had little to do with tales or lack thereof.

And yet, the songs of Lady Bella had been soothing. More than soothing; they had been like wine; warm, peaceful, bringing completion and contentment to the fellowship they had all enjoyed. He wondered how Nethwador fared without her, how he felt about Aeron's story that she had left the city, and whether he was worried about her. Turning his head, he lightly touched the boy's thoughts. The boy's head snapped up eagerly.

My lord?

Mellondu's mouth tightened, his eyes flashed, and he dug his heels into Echo's sides. Echo started forward a few paces and jigged. Mellondu struggled with the reins, wishing he could turn and ride home, and find out whether Mellonin had left as Aeron said she had, and berating himself for being under a life-debt, unable to make his own decisions. He glowered at Erebemlin, slithering as Echo tossed his head. The tall elf gazed forward, with only a slight glance at Echo. Echo dropped his head, settled, heaved a long grunting snort, and then swung into line by Erebemlin's side.

Taitheneb and Nethwador traded hopeful glances, but Mellondu's back remained furiously stiff; for a while. But as, in hums or snatches, bits of Ædegard's song meandered through the company, Mellondu's back would sometimes soften. Then Echo's ears would flick forward, and a spring would return to his long stride.

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Old 12-13-2006, 08:16 PM   #32
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Ædegard

Ædegard had finished his song, which told of Béoldric's fierce fight ~ with five wargs that had hounded him no matter how high he climbed, but had been starving and weakening while he had rations. Their hunger made their rage and fierceness the greater. Their greater number would otherwise have been his undoing, in foot-deep snow and no trees to escape into, but their starvation was his advantage, he outlasted them. Were they not Fell, it would be no great tale to tell, but they had the will of some foul servant of evil in them, and were cunning. They had wounded him and harried him before all five were killed.

To Ædegard's mind, the verse was half the song; without it the tale would seem less grand. Now that he was finished with it, he was uneasy, for he had heard Aeron's fearful warning and the murmurings about the women left behind. He coaxed his horse near to Aeron, and asked him the question that had begun to burn in his mind.

"Are you sure of this dream? What it a true dream, do you think? What of Leafa? Do you know if she went with them?"
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:00 PM   #33
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Aeron stared at Ædegard. "I don't know," he said softly. "Gwyll only mentioned Bellyn and Mellonin. I suppose that is good news though. She could be safe and sound. Or she could have rashly decided to go after her friends." His voice faltered and he shifted his glance away from Ædegard.

Ædegard remained silent and brooding.

Dark clouds gathered in the sky. A lone bird trilled a short tune.

Out of the corner of his eye, Aeron thought he saw Gwyllion, but when he turned his head there was nothing there but the ground and the flowers and the grey sky.

"We should go look for them."

"But what of..." Ædegard looked at Mellondu.

"He is the elves' concern now, isn't he?" Aeron whispered. "Gwyllion was genuinely distressed, even if she is...was...only a dream," he murmured. "We can't...just leave them there."
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:34 PM   #34
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Ædegard & Raefindan

Ædegard considered Aeron's words. The women were in trouble of some kind, and Mellondu's trouble was for the Elves to look over, not the Men. It was sooth that Erebemlin and Taitheneb could meet any threat or trouble with some kind of answer, especially since that Tharonwë was far away. But it had been Tharonwë who had brought out the harsh and narrow sight of the Elves: they would have let Leafa, Mellonin, and Bellyn be killed; and Gwyllian had been killed.... all because Amroth, the Elf lord, was more important than three women. It angered him. But you have been charged to see this through to the end. Ædegard sighed. So it was. That charge, which had come by means of Bêthberry, still held. Word was bond and law. He had sworn no oath, but it did not matter: the charge had laid hold of him, and will he or nill he, Ædegard knew that he had to see it through to the end, and could not leave Mellondu.

"I must stay with Mellondu," Ædegard simply.

"What of Leafa?" Aeron queried sharply.

"I am charged to stay with Mellondu."

"But is she not your betrothed? Have you not sworn yourself to her?" Aeron asked.

"Aye, and I will not gainsay that oath, nor have I; we shall be wedded, but that must wait until this task is done."

"She may be dead by then," Aeron said.

Ædegard had not thought of that. He sighed heavily, feeling the pull in two different directions from oath and charge. "I have not sworn to save her life at all costs, only to marry her should these matters work out well. May your words not come true."

"Let it rest, Aeron," said Raefindan. "I too must stay with Mellondu, for Amroth is housed within him, and somehow I hold the memory of Imrazor, and I'm convinced that whatever destiny is wrapped up in Amroth has to do with me; so I must stay the course, as it is said in arenas of ill repute back where I come from."

"I do not know all of what you said," said Aeron, "but I understand enough of it."

"Will you stay with us, Aeron, or is Gwyllian calling you away to follow the women?" asked Raefindan.

Jorje

He was in the great high places. He trotted evenly, nose to the smelly ground. He was hungry, for food was too quick on four feet so far.

Remember Leaf woman and Dark woman and Man woman.

Jorje Tirril smelled them afresh in his mind's nose. He had not come across their trail yet. But river woman had sent him this way. So they must be here somewhere.

Sniff out the strangers and tell the women if they be friend or fiend. Sniff for the bad elf, the one who ran the eermy ones back in the swamp.

He was sniffing a stranger now. It was not like most strangers he had smelled. Not of the city, not of the farm. It was a very little bit like the eermy swamp men, but not eermy and not swamp. But two foot. Two foots without all the things they kept about them.

There he was! He was smaller than most two foots. He smelled more earthy than a farmer. His hands were busy like a two foot. He had a sharpedge. Jorje winced, feeling the cut on his tongue when once he had curiously licked a sharpedge. He was cutting with it. Jorje sniffed: not food bone, but tree bone. Twofoots did such strange things.

May the aroo go with you wherever you go. Be witty and sniff well, and may your paws be whole and may your legs run fast at need. Now go!

Jorje got down on his belly and put his nose between his front paws, and watched the twofoot, sniffing all the while. The twofoot looked up.
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:36 PM   #35
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Tired. Feverish. Maybe a little bit of both? Lightheaded. Dizzy.

Her eyelids felt heavier with every blink.

Galloping across the plains north and west, Bellyn suddenly wished she had never left home. This moment of doubt was quickly followed by the memory of the dream-woman’s haunting eyes, sorrowful and lonely, empty and dead.

I have to continue, I cannot stop here…

She looked quite the wreck as she brought her horse to a slow walk. Bellyn could see her breath and the breath of her horse billowing in the chill air. Beads of sweat gathered at her forehead and on the nape of her neck, beneath tangled and frizzy black curls.

How will I know where to go?

Bellyn thought it was a valid question – a question she should have pondered before galloping off and away from the safety of home. The Ered Nimrais stretched far and long into the west before drifting south to Andrast. Where could she possibly find the lost woman? The high peaks and dangerous cliffs – would she find the right place?

Doubt once again raced through her mind. This time she ignored it, and pressed on, willing her horse to go faster. They would stop and rest later, but for now, Bellyn wanted to put miles and miles between her and Minas Tirith. The map in her mind drew a line from Minas Tirith towards the Eastfold and deep into the mountains, where in her heart she could imagine a lonely woman wishing for someone, anyone to help.

This image kept Bellyn riding, riding onward.
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:04 PM   #36
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Mellonin

Dawn came, and the sun climbed. Roheryn sniffed the mannish elf-girl, and nuzzled her face. Her hand came up to ward off the scratchy horse-lip; but then she smiled.

"Very well."

She rose. There was no nearby stream in which to wash. She stepped to Roheryn's side, and he waited while she sprang onto his back; then he swung westward, following the roots of the mountains.

Later that morning they crossed a stream, and she dismounted and drank. Roheryn drank, and grazed. The lady ate nothing, for she had brought nothing. At noon she mounted again, and they rode westward again.
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Old 01-07-2007, 03:25 PM   #37
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Rugh

Rugh’s anxieties were growing. It was not natural for him to feel anxious; he preferred to be at peace with the stars and mountains and trees and animals. And the disruption, Rugh could only guess that it must come from the Stone Men, or the Horse Men, whose hands were like the strange hands he had carved. And if they were coming into his mountains, they must be sent back.

He had descended into the lower slopes of the Mountains, as low as he ever went. He had come with remarkable speed. Now he must listen again: listen, and carve. He settled in under the shade of a tree and selected a short branch. He began to carve slowly, thinking that a bird would settle his mind. But his bird did not look like a bird, nor did the deer he tried next look like a deer. Rugh scowled. Normally a relaxing and meditative art, even his carving seemed out of order with the earth. He tossed both pieces to the side

Then he sat quietly for a while, not busying his hands. In the stillness, it seemed as if he could feel… her… again, though dimly. Rugh scowled, wishing it would leave him alone, whatever it was. He picked up another piece of wood and began furiously to carve.

At some point during this carving Rugh became dimly aware of an animal that slowly approached. When it did not leave, he looked up from his work (it did not look like much; he seemed only to be steadily carving all the wood off of it rather than making it into something), and saw one of the dogs of the Tall Men watching him. Rugh fixed his stare on the dog. He was not pleased; it seemed only another sign of the Tall Men’s invasion of his Mountains. He soon realized that the dog seemed unaccompanied by Men, however, as the dog made no effort to leave and Rugh heard no sound of any of the loud Tall Men.

Despite Rugh’s initial hostility, the dog crept forward, still on his belly and still watching him. Rugh nodded and returned to his carving, deciding, “Dog can stay.”
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Old 01-07-2007, 06:00 PM   #38
littlemanpoet
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The two foot smelled irked. Jorje could tell by the smell of two foots' skin what they felt inside.

Two foot smell was one of the things dogs liked best about two foots, even if they didn't know it. It had lots of salt and that tasted good.

Jorje crawled closer. This stranger did not smell eermy, just irked. Maybe the river daughter knew him. Maybe this was a good two foot for Jorje. Maybe not, but he had to find out. Two foot looked at him again.

"Dog can stay."

Jorje perked up his ears. The voice had been gravelly and growly. It reminded him of ma when she'd had much of puppy play and was irked by it but not so much that she wanted to bite him away. He rose a little on his paws and, bent low; 'grovelling' he'd heard his master say. That sharpedge moved jerky and angry, and Jorje was scared of it, but he inched closer, sniffing all the time.

When he was close enough he stretched out his snout as far as he could and sniffed at the twofoot's knee, ready to bolt if the twofoot struck.
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Old 01-12-2007, 06:21 PM   #39
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"Gwyllion has told me to do nothing. She has merely stated a fact, in much distress," Aeron said. "I wish I could pass it off as a dream, yet I cannot. It was real. It felt real. And that is why I cannot understand why you, Raefindan and especially you, Ædegard, are loathe to pursue them."

"We have a charge," Ædegard said.

"A charge." Aeron shook his head, bit his lip. "A charge is not...is not flesh and blood. A charge is nothing but a handful of words. Would you put words above the living? Amroth is dead. But from the West has come no word, And on the Hither Shore
No tidings Elven-folk have heard Of Amroth evermore
. This is foolish."

"Will you stay with us, or look for the women?" asked Raefindan.

The women, or safe with the men? Aeron did not know where to look for the women. He was not a tracker. He was a lowly thief, a ragamuffin. "The last time I went off by myself led only to trouble," Aeron whisper. "I fear that if I were to seek for them alone, I would do less than nothing. But hear me," he said, "I do not agree with this, putting one over many. Is it because he is an elf king?" Aeron snorted. "They may be fairer, but their life is not worth more than ours. I now only hope that my dreams of Gwyllion are only dreams, and nothing more."

He touched the lock of hair bound by a piece of twine around his neck.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:26 PM   #40
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The quiet, chill hours crept by over Sæthryd's hut. Silence had returned to the little valley, Sæthryd having ended her song before many minutes had passed. She sat quietly, staring into her fire as if lost to all save the glowing embers. But though she looked as calm as the deep forest around her, Sæthryd's thoughts were far from still.

Something snuffled in the fallen leaves, darting wildly through the undergrowth. The shadows fled before its approach to seek darker corners into which they could melt. There were whispers from the paths. Angry whispers. The shades of the dead were troubled.

Far away, there was the sound of horses galloping over an open plain. Far away, but growing nearer with every hoofbeat.


Sæthryd began to mutter. Syllables without meaning blended together in a wild jumble. Then she jumped out of her seat and ran outdoors to set her guard on the paths. Something approached. As had not happened in many years, for the hill people learned long ago to keep away from her snares. They knew well that the wild woman who had come in place of the vanished shades of the dead was more to be feared than any ghost.

Let them come. I shall be ready.

Last edited by Celuien; 01-17-2007 at 04:37 PM.
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