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Old 01-14-2007, 01:14 PM   #41
Firefoot
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Rugh did not immediately proffer his hand for the same reason that he had not attempted to call the dog to him. He knew that animals would come on their own, if he showed no sign of threat, whether butterflies or birds or deer – or dogs. But a certain trust had to be established: he did not believe in luring in or taming the wild animals as the Tall Men did. No animal could be tamed, not in the sense the Tall Men used the word: there was always some part that remained wild and animal, though buried deeply in some.

Instead, moving so slowly that he almost did not seem to move at all, Rugh ceased his carving, set the piece of wood gently down on the ground, and tucked his flint away in his pouch. By then, the tenseness of the dog had alleviated some; he did not look so much like a bird ready to fly away. Only then did Rugh offer his hand to the dog to sniff, then placed his hand gently on the dog’s head. The dog yielded to this movement willingly, and only then did a slight smile cross Rugh’s face. These were familiar actions, and much more comforting to his mood than his failed carvings had been.

After a time, Rugh gave the dog a last pat and stood. It was time to move on and resume his search. To his surprise, however, the dog seemed inclined to follow him. Normally the quiet spell of connecting with an animal was broken when Rugh prepared to disappear into the trees again. “Dog is special,” Rugh realized. Did the dog perhaps feel the bad rumors of the earth as well? “Can come.”
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Old 01-14-2007, 03:16 PM   #42
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Ædegard and Raefindan

"A charge is not-" Aeron paused, "-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."

Aeron's words questioned Ædegard's way of life, though the lad did not know it. Ædegard did not hold that against the lad, but nevertheless he felt a need to calm his thought and refrain from lashing out with what seemed obvious to him. He held his peace.

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

Aeron took a little time before he answered in a whisper.

"The last time I went off by myself led only to trouble; I fear that if I were to seek for them alone, I would do less than nothing. But hear me, 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."

"Do not hope such a hope!" Raefindan answered. "For it is despair masking itself as hope. Hope rather that your dream shall be proved true!"

"I do not agree with putting one over many either, unless he has earned his leadership," said Ædegard. "That is the way of the Eorlingas. And do not doubt the might of words, for they are the bones of men's ways. My words bind me."

Jorje

“Can come,” said the man as he walked away. Jorje licked the air and trotted after. The man's hand was a good hand. Jorje could tell it from the way he moved and showed his first place and his aroo. All men took first place with dogs. Jorje had smelled it over and over again. Their ma folk, some took first and some didn't. Their young ones, some ran in fear, some made themselves pack and played at being dogs and that was sign of aroo some day. Other young ones threw sticks and stones and that was eerm. This man was aroo. Before long, Jorje was trotting ahead, behind, far to one side then another, sniffing all the different smells and hearing what there was to hear. But always he was sure where the man was, and kept him in sight, racing to him and away now and again. He made the man the first one of his pack of two.
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Old 01-21-2007, 05:09 PM   #43
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Bellyn did not know how long she had gone without stopping to rest. She navigated, turning the horse further northward, searching for some source of water.

When she finally brought her horse to a slow walk, she could feel her body aching everywhere. Her fingers had gone numb hours earlier. Her animal companion stomped and prodded at the tufts of cold grass beneath his hooves. Bellyn had pushed for too far, too long.

Bellyn was content to wash her face with the cold water, while the horse gulped at the stream. She was tired from riding; he was tired from galloping, from running.

Sleep. She needed to sleep. He needed to rest.

Not for long, she promised herself, not for too long.

Long enough to rest, short enough to keep from dreaming.
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:06 PM   #44
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The sun was again fading in the west, and Bergil still carried Indil. Unless the Elves and their companions had left the road for one cause or another, he was hopeful of catching them before the sun set completely. He was already quite certain that he would not find the lost womenfolk with them.

However, once he met the Elves and their company, his task was essentially done. He could then return to Minas Tirith, resume his furlough, and put the matter out of his mind.

At least, he could if it were not for Indil.

Bergil had seen only a few travellers on the road, most going north. All remembered seeing two Elves and companions, but not one had heard of a missing girl, nor did any recognise Indil. And the further he rode, the less likely he was to find her family.

Indil's sleep had been troubled by bad dreams. They seemed to have no discernable traits or themes that Bergil could make use of, either to comfort her or to help find her family, or else Indil understood them not or forgot them on waking. She had spent most of the long day's ride in his arms, either sleeping with her thumb between her teeth, or awake and silently gazing around. In either case, she snuggled closely, intent on keeping his presence immediate and tangible.

The supper hour had passed when Bergil sighted the company he sought. Several men and horses, preparing a camp to the side of the highway. He was spied immediately by the Elves and ranger, and when he rode into their camp, they gathered around, curious.

"Is it correct that one of you is Erebemlin Silmaethor of Lórien?"

One of the Elves stepped forward from the rest of the group. His face betrayed no concern that Bergil could read. Indeed, the entire group seemed more curious than afraid, though Bergil thought the old Arnorian ranger was wary of ill news. The Elves were unreadable. But it was clear that none of them expected any evil from a Ranger of Gondor, which was as it should be.

"I am he," said the Elf who had stepped forward. "I assume you are searching for me?"

"For your company, milord," said Bergil, dismounting carefully, Indil asleep on his shoulder. "I was bid by Prince Faramir, the Steward of Gondor, to seek you out on this road. Several ladies known to your company have vanished from Minas Tirith, and it was thought that they might have joined you. Other Rangers search to the north and east of the city."
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Old 02-02-2007, 11:42 AM   #45
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Erebemlin stood still and silent as the young guard shared his message. “Several ladies known to your company have vanished from Minas Tirith, and it was thought that they might have joined you.”

The lines in the Elf’s face tightened and he clinched his jaw. Would the madness never cease? What else would these insufferable humans do to stand in the way of his completing the King’s quest. “There are no women among us. I am sorry you have wasted your time in seeking us for we have not had contact with the women who were part of our company since we left the White City. You may find more reward for your efforts if you join your fellow rangers to the North and East.” Erebemlin wished to kill any talk of looking for the women before it began, but he could feel the wide eyes of the humans and their anticipation. “Now excuse me,” the tall elf nodded his head toward the ranger and turned away to finish unpacking the bags for the camp.
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Old 02-02-2007, 02:51 PM   #46
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Aeron felt a chill creep up his back when he heard the news the ranger brought. The women had left the safety of the White City. Gwyllion had been right. Surely they would see sense and abandon this madness. They wouldn't leave the women in the wilderness, would they?

The elf did not think so. With a cold, "Now excuse me," he had turned away to tend to the bags.

Aeron stepped in front of him, chin held high. "Is that all you have to say?"

The elf stepped around the boy and began to pack.

"Gwyllion was right, they are gone. You cannot just...just...forsake them! They're only ladies, they do not know how to survive."

"We have our charge, Aeron," Ædegard said.

"You're all mad," Aeron whispered. "I do not know much of history, but I have heard half stories whispered by firesides and people in the street. Feanor had his oath and he kept it. And if the stories I heard were true, it did not end well because of it."
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Old 02-03-2007, 11:49 AM   #47
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Raefindan

"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."

Such were the words Aeron had spoken the previous day, words from his dream. And here they had come true. Raefindan considered. He had set his course with Mellondu because Amroth was in Mellondu, and Amroth searched for Nimrodel, with whom was Mithrellas; and Mithrellas was the Elvish wife of Imrazor; and Raefindan was himself, apparently, Imrazor, in a previous life.

Roy Edwards didn't believe in reincarnation, but this was not his time and place; Raefindan did not doubt that such a thing might perhaps happen in this time and place.

But if Gwyllion had dreamed of Mellonin, Argaleafa, and Bellyn, and had sought Aeron in a dream, so that they might learn of it, maybe Raefindan's place was not with Mellondu after all, but with Mellonin! She had been the one whom he had first met since he had come to this place .... from wherever he had come.

Raefindan looked at the child in the arms of the new Ranger, Bergil. He had been watching the tiny figure the whole while; he could not take his eyes from her for more than a moment. There was something about her, something he felt like he ought to know about this child. But how could that be? It made no sense; not that such a thing had ever been known to stop Raefindan before .... seemingly unconnected connections were his stock in trade.

Maybe, if Aeron decided that he would go in search of the women, Raefindan would go with him. After all, he was determined to see this quest through; not necessarily in this company, and now there was a new piece of the quest. It was something to think about, and not act upon right away.

And he had a gnawing sense that Angela was not far away. How odd. She was not in this time and place at all, but he could not shake the notion. Very strange.

"Aeron," said Raefindan finally, "I am not bound by any oath; rather, I am bound to this quest, regardless of which strand of it I follow. I'm not sure yet which strand I should follow."

"My quest," said Ædegard, "is with Mellondu, for it was to him that I bound myself."

"You must do as you must, Ædegard," Raefindan answered him, "and so must I." He was looking at the girl again. "Who is the girl? Has she a name?"
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Old 02-03-2007, 01:51 PM   #48
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Indil woke and instinctively cuddled against Bergil's chest. Strangers. A man was asking her name. She looked at him, cocking her head curiously.

"Put me down." she said simply. Bergil set her on her feet and watched her look up at Raefindan. Very up.

"My name is Indil." she said, sleepy eyes fixed on his face. "What is yours?"

Raefindan looked from Bergil to the elves and back to the child, kneeling to her height. Her eyes were soft brown. He liked her eyes; maybe because they were so curious and open-to-life.

"My name is Raefindan, little one."

"Red haired man." She giggled, wide awake now. "That is not a name. What is your real name?"

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Old 02-03-2007, 05:45 PM   #49
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Raefindan

Raefindan grinned. "Your name is no more a name than mine, for Indil means 'devotion'. All names mean things. Those who named you have given you high honor, to be called Indil."

"But what is your real name?"

Raefindan sighed and his grin spread wider. This girl was tenacious. How did she know his name was not really Raefindan? Could she know? Of course not. "I do have another name; Roy Edwards. But that is no more a name than Raefindan. It means 'red of Edward'."

He stood and turned to Aeron. "I will go with you to look for the women." Then he turned to Bergil. "Will you join us? Perhaps a Ranger is most needful in finding those who are in peril."

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Old 02-15-2007, 08:23 PM   #50
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Jorje stopped. He heard one toe dog sounds thrumming the ground not far down the slope. He ran through the bracken and brush to go smell.

It was a tired one toe dog, but the rider was light. And had a mane like the one toe dog. Jorje yelled. The one toe dog did not stop. Jorje gave chase.

It was some time later that the one toe dog came to a stumbling halt, for a little cottage reared up in its path. It was as if neither rider nor one toe dog had known it was there. Jorje sniffed. A human lived here, a woman by the smell of her. Jorje snuck up to the cot and sniffed around the corner.

Jorje suddenly heard a noise behind him. The rider had fallen from the one toe dog to the ground, and lay still.
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Old 02-19-2007, 06:41 PM   #51
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There were only a few small, rough paths remaining unbarred in their course near Sæthryd's dwelling. To those paths she hurried, covering them over with fallen boughs as best she could. Strangers drew near, and quickly. She would steer them off the paths into the woods and hope they they would become lost amidst the trees.

She worked, more urgency in her bearing than might have been seen in a wildcat guarding her den against a hunter, until the sound of a barking dog echoed behind her. Her hands unclenched from the large branch she had been dragging through the wood and she stared back towards her hut, rubbing raw and dirty hands against her tattered dress.

Something was there. Breathing hard, Sæthryd stalked back along the path, searching for the unwelcome trespassers. Her hut came in to view, and Sæthryd hissed sharply. A horse, its rider fallen in the snow, stood near the open door. There was a dog too.

Sæthryd ran out of the cover of the wood. Where one rider came, others would follow. She would have to play a careful game to keep the secrets of the mountain from them.

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Old 02-19-2007, 08:08 PM   #52
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Bergil considered Aeron's request.

"I am a free man, to do as I wish," he said slowly. "As I have not found the ladies, I need not return to Minas Tirith with news, and I have several more weeks of leave that I might take, if I needed. I had thought to return to Lossarnach, and visit my grandfather, who is in his last years, but now I seem to have a greater charge."

Bergil looked at Indil, who was talking with the red-haired man, who was engaging her with a more serious interest than most adults would have given such a young child.

"The girl?" Aeron picked up on Bergil's concern immediately. "She's obviously not yours."

"No, I am neither wed nor promised," said Bergil. "I found Indil seeking your company. She seemed to have wandered far from home, and was completely lost. It will take quite some time to find her family, if indeed I can."

"That is what you intend to do then?" asked Aeron. "There's no way that maybe you perhaps put that off?"

"Would you leave a child seperated from her family for months, or possibly even forever?" asked Bergil, turning to face Aeron squarely with his clear, calm grey eyes. "These ladies are your charge, perhaps, but Indil is mine. Until her family is found, I will remain with her as my first priority."

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Old 04-17-2007, 02:17 AM   #53
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Aeron grinned at Raefindan, glad that at least one of this company had realized the grave danger the women faced.

He turned to the newly arrived ranger, the one who travelled with the little girl.

"Perhaps we can help each other," Aeron said. "Do you have any idea where her family could be found? Does the lass know where she came from? If neither is known, then perhaps you could join us and then depart once news is found? What say you to that?"
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Old 04-19-2007, 09:21 PM   #54
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Bergil frowned as Aeron asked if he knew where Indil's family lived.

"No," he said slowly. "I do not. That they are from somewhere in Lossarnach, I am fairly certain, but many dwell in Lossarnach, and there were no villages or farmsteads close enough to where I found her to make a guess. If I had weeks at my disposal, and took Indil through the entire province, perhaps she might recognise something, or be recognised herself, but otherwise I fear not."

"What of joining us, then?" pressed Aeron. Bergil shook his head slowly, a gesture more made of uncertainty than rejection.

"I hesitate to do so..." he said. "It seems an injustice to me to leave Indil thus separated from her family, who may be worrying much, and I don't like the idea of taking her into possible danger. I need to think further on this."

Aeron did not appear fully ready to accept Bergil's answer, but he said nothing, and gave the young ranger his space. But before Bergil's decision was made, Ædegard had a question.

"What news of Tharonwë?"

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Old 04-21-2007, 11:08 AM   #55
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Ædegard

"We have our charge, Aeron," he had said to the young man. But his heart quelled. Leafa in danger! Out in the wild! Maybe alone? In his mind's eye he saw the fear in her blue eyes, the terror of being lost darkening the beauty of her face; his heart turned within him, and he wished with a strong desire to seek her out and give her comfort and succor. Then a new thought came to him, and shivers went down his spine.

He turned to the ranger and asked him, "What news of Tharonwë, the elf that we brought to Minas Tirith? Is he still in prison?"

Bergil said, "I know not. It was not part of my charge to find out. Why?"

"Because he is a black traitor and he could have escaped."

"I doubt if he could escape the prisons of Elessar," Bergil asserted. "The Tower Guard watches them most vigilantly."

"Let us hope it is as you say," Ædegard answered. He had his charge, which was to follow Mellondu wherever he went. But what if Mellondu chose to hunt for the women; his very own sister?

"Mellondu! Your sister is in the wilds, maybe alone! Will you not look for her?"

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Old 05-10-2007, 09:50 AM   #56
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Mellondu gave his assent, glancing first at one Elf then the other. Erebemlin stared at him darkly. Taitheneb was reflective.

"My sister is in trouble."

Bergil shrugged and said, "Then it would seem we all go the same way." The little girl clapped with delight. They turned around and were ready to set off back toward Minas Tirith. Mellondu looked back at the Elves.

"I have not quit the quest of Amroth. But this is urgent. Come with me and you remain with Amroth."

"Humans!" Erebemlin grated.

Soon they were all galloping back north.
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:19 PM   #57
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Jorje

Another two foot was coming. It was female, Jorje could see, and not old, he could smell. Her clothing, for so Jorje had heard the two foots called it, was ragged and torn in many places. But she showed a Packleader face, her teeth bared in forbidding. Jorje sniffed uncertainly. Was this woman so jealous of her land that she wanted them gone? He smelled the air all around for her scent, and sure enough it was everywhere. But he had to make the woman see that this one fallen from the one toe dog needed help.

The woman approached. Jorje laid his ears back to show that he was no threat, and he whimpered, only the tip of his tail wagging between his hocks. Would the woman understand him? He nosed at the man-woman, for he recalled that it was she who he had seen before, with Red Man and the others. He had found one of them! But this woman had to see that the man-woman needed to be cared for.

The ragged woman came close and knelt by the man-woman. Jorje backed away a little bit.
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Old 05-12-2007, 06:56 PM   #58
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So easy. It would be so easy. Sæthryd knelt on the hard earth, listening to the rush of blood in her ears, and farther away, of the wind blowing harsh and wild in the dead passes.

The stranger's face was pale against a frame of dark hair, and even in sleep, Sæthryd thought that there were signs of some struggle within. It would be kindness to put an end to the struggle, to sooth the worried lines into the calm mask of death. That was the proper ending for those who sought the dead lands, whether they knew it or not when they came. Sæthryd stooped closer to the pale face, close enough to feel warm breath coming faintly from the intruder.

It would be so easy to send the stranger to the end of her journey. Sæthryd's fingers rested on the dark hair where it fell across the stranger's throat. But this one was different. She lived, and yet was somehow connected to the dead ones in the hills. Her hand fell back.

With sudden strength, Sæthryd grasped the visitor beneath the arm and dragged her toward the hut. She did not know why this one was different, or what had brought her so far into the wild. But she would find out, and the answer would teach Sæthryd what to do next.

They crossed the threshold, and Sæthryd espied a dog watching her from the trees. The dog ran to the door, and she slammed it tightly, ignoring the dog’s yelped protest. There were snares enough in the wood. The dog would fall into one eventually.

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Old 05-29-2007, 07:10 PM   #59
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Aeron touched the lock of hair that hung around his neck and whispered his sister's name. She had told him of the other ladies' disappearance...she had known of them, yet how did she know if it?

Was she trapped? Did she wander between the edge of life and death, a wraith not fully dead, a girl not fully alive?

Was she happy?

He closed his eyes tightly, saw the colours of his lids flow and fade and melt in front of him. He squinted, and slowly blinked one eye open, hoping to see a field of green and his sister waiting for him.

All he saw was the road and his companions as they journeyed on.

When night fell, they made camp and Aeron fell asleep.

He was in the field of flowers and his sister was there, looking to the east. She didn't turn around, but she held out her hand and he took it in his own.

"There is a wind," she said. "I can see it play with your hair."

"It feels like a wind from the sea," Aeron said. "Fresh, and full of life."

"I can't feel the wind anymore, I can't feel the sun in the sky, the earth beneath my feet, the water from the rain. I don't remember how they feel, I am forgetting."

"I...I am sorry, little Gwyl."

"I wait for a swift sunrise," she whispered.

Her hand slipped from his, and she walked into the fields. "Gwyllion, wait!" Aeron ran after her, but she was gone and the meadow was no longer green and lush, but a brown marsh stretching around him. Flies buzzed in the reeds and the smell of death twisted in the mists.

He stumbled through the stink and mud, seeking the meadow, his sister. Something tripped him, and he sprawled into the filth. There was something beside him, and he saw that it was Gwyllion. "Come on, Gwyllion," he gasped. "We don't need to be here."

She didn't move.

"Come on," he shouted. Her skin was cold, her face pallid. And then he saw the blood flowing from her wounds and staining the brown waters crimson. And death was in her unblinking eyes.

"No, Gwyllion, come on, you can't die here, you're already dead! Gwyllion..." He cradled her in his arms, and as he left, he saw Maegeleb standing near by, his arms folded, eyes cold, a satisfied smile on his lips.

Aeron's heart was pounding when he woke and his palms were sweating. "It was a dream," he said. "It was a dream, just a dream. A dream and nothing more."
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Old 06-01-2007, 07:39 PM   #60
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The return to Minas Tirith was accomplished in few days, and to Bergil it seemed that the Elves and the Men were both motivated to travel faster than they had journeyed south, although for different reasons. With the Men, of course, there was the desire to find the womenfolk, and as quickly as possible. For the Elves, however, Bergil ascribed the motivation of wishing to deal with this irksome distraction as quickly as possible.

On the ride, Bergil became better acquainted with the company, but as they rode mostly in silence and did not rest until evening, he did not become close to any of them, and if he had been inclined to reveal his feelings, he would have said that they seemed an odd bunch.

Although apparently still welcome to accept Aeron's invitation and join them in seeking their womenfolk, Bergil was little minded to accept. Kinfolk and good friends waited in Minas Tirith and in Lossarnach whom he had not seen in some years, and there was the matter of Indil. It was Bergil's thought to leave Indil safely in the care of one of his aunts, and to search Lossarnach for her family, while visiting his own.

Indil, however, seemed to be causing other ideas. Raefindan, it seemed to Bergil, was fascinated with the little girl in a most peculiar way. Bergil had not had the opportunity to have it fully explained by any of the company, and none had volunteered the information, but he gathered that it had to do with dreams.

When, however, the company reached Minas Tirith in the heat of a sunny late afternoon, Bergil was immediately approached by one of the Guardsmen, with whom he was well acquainted.

"Bergil! You are a welcome sight," said the Guardsman, grabbing Bergil and grabbing his reins as he entered the city, stopping the young ranger, and slowing the company. Bergil could hear the irritated sigh of one of the company behind him.

"Why is that?" asked Bergil. "Surely the rangers sent north have found the women they sought, or at least traces of them."

"It is not the missing women we need tidings of," said the Guardsman. "Prince Faramir will want to know as soon as he can: did you see or hear any sign of the rogue Elf, Maegeleb?"

Before Bergil could respond beyond shaking his head slowly, an expression of bafflement on his face, Erebemlin had ridden up beside him, a look of disgust on his face, though whether it was towards the escaped Elf or his failed guardians, Bergil did not know.

"He has escaped? How has this happened?"

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Old 06-08-2007, 02:56 PM   #61
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Indil had spent much of the journey chattering away happily to Raefindan and watching the Elves. She giggled when he told her stories and pointed wild animals out to her as they traveled, and the time she did not spend shadowing Bergil was spent in his company. Between the group, she was kept as reasonably clean as travel and camping allowed, and her curiosity was often satisfied when she would slip her hand into one much larger and calloused and ask politely about many things. Very rarely was she told to hush, though Bergil noted that the Elf, Erebemlin, looked at her with eyes that regarded her youth as both something to be cherished and something to be patiently endured. He noticed that Indil never spoke to Erebemlin and fell silent at his glances. Whether this was intended or not, it was clear that Indil, who was naturally social and curious, was shy toward him.

And her dreams were yet another thing. Though the company was comprised of experienced travelers, Indil was only a small child, and slept often on the road, safely held in the saddle with either Bergil or Raefindan, always with Bergil's protective eye on her. Though she was quick to smile and solemnly well-behaved, she often woke crying and shaking, at times with choked screams. If asked, she remembered nothing, or very little. Bergil did not doubt her honesty on this; he had never once found any trace of lie in the little girl's features. She required constant reassurance and spoke often of her parents, but never anything from which Bergil or the others could glean any trace of the whereabouts of 'home' or living relatives.

Now, in the city, she sat huddled in Raefindan's lap, shaking. The sudden halt of their company had stirred her from quiet sleep and tears streamed down her cheeks, though she made no noise.

"There, little Indil," Raefindan said, smoothing loose feathers of hair away from her eyes, looking for now away from Bergil and the city guard. He gently rubbed away a tear with a careful finger. "Can you tell me what you dreamt?"

She nodded, a bare movement, trembling harder than before.

"What did you see, Indil? Were there people in your dream?"

The past few days had taught him which questions to ask to see what plagued her sleep. Though she rarely knew, there were times, and he had learned how best to inquire.

"There was a woman."

"Did you know her?"

"You did."

"I did?" He offered her a sip of water.

"Yes. And Mellondu. Mellondu knew her."

"You dreamt of Mellondu? What was he doing?"

"There were mountains. And birds singing. And she said the name you told me before. She called you Red of Edward, and Mellondu came, but he did not play with me any more, and he did not look at me and said something, and the woman was crying."

Mellondu leaned closer, listening, though he did not speak. Raefindan felt Indil's body soften as she calmed and he asked her if she remembered what Mellondu had said. She looked at Mellondu and shook her head slowly.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:13 PM   #62
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Raefindan was confused by Indil's dream. Mellondu and he knew the woman Indil had dreamed of. And it was in the mountains. The only women he and Mellondu knew of were associated with their ever growing party of questers: Bella, Leafa, and Mellonin. But none of these were associated with mountains.

After Indil had wandered off to Bergil, Raefindan asked Mellondu what he thought of the dream, and he admitted that it made no sense to him. He turned the question back upon Raefindan, who shared his thoughts, limited and unuseful as they seemed to him.

"Aye," Mellondu said, tossing pebbles one after another at the stone pavement where they sat, "it makes no sense to me either. But I think it must be one of those three. Maybe it has to do with where they are now, in the mountains. Do you think that might be it?"

"It could be." Raefindan was leaning his elbow on his knee, and chin resting on his hand. "Maybe we ought to ask her what was happening to the woman she dreamed of."

"That seems well."

"Leave it to me, then," Raefindan said, standing up. He wandered off in search of Bergil and Indil.
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Old 06-12-2007, 06:39 PM   #63
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When Raefindan sought Indil, he found her sitting quietly on the ground, making a game of building patterns out of pebbles. He crouched next to her, studying her picture.

"I think I was wrong." she said unexpectedly, in a solemn voice Raefindan had come to associate with the girl.

"And just what is it that you were wrong about?" he asked with equal seriousness. She looked up at him with innocent eyes.

"I think the woman was not only one woman. But how could she be two?"

"Dreams are not always clear, little one. Do you remember what the woman was doing? Or," he corrected himself, "the women?"

She closed her eyes and wrinkled her forehead in concentration, clicking two small pebbles together in her lap. She opened her eyes again.

"The lady who called you Red of Edward said it hurt. But not when you were there. And I think she was not the same lady when Mellondu came and was unhappy. He asked her where to find something, I think. But I thought she might have been the same lady." Indil looked at Raefindan as though waiting for his approval. "They both waited to be alone until they cried." Her eyes were pleading. "The seemed like they were the same..."
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Old 06-13-2007, 05:44 PM   #64
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"Two women," Raefindan repeated, "and both very sad. And both much alike. What make you of that, Bergil?"

The Ranger had been polishing his sword as he watched over Indil. He looked up and tilted his head a moment in thought, then resumed polishing.

"I am a man of deeds, not dreams, Raefindan. I could not say."

"I had not thought of myself as a dreamer, friend Bergil; that honor would have gone to others where I come from." Images of his close uni friends flitted through his mind (he was startled by how out of place thought of them seemed, here in Minas Tirith). "But I do dream now that I am here, and all my dreams that I remember seem to be of a piece. And your dream, Indil, seems also to be like mine."

"Tell me your dreams!" The girl was eager, forgetting her pebbles. "Are they scary?"

"Yes, sometimes. And sometimes they are sad. I dream that I was someone who lived long ago, and I dream of his wife and children. Maybe one of the women you dreamed of was his wife, but that is merely guessing."
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Old 06-14-2007, 08:12 AM   #65
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Indil squinted her eyes in the sun and watched Bergil's sword glinting in his grasp. She looked up at Raefindan and down at her hands.

"But Raefindan... if he lived very long ago..." She paused, afraid she forgot something important. She looked into his eyes again. "How would I know that lady to dream about her?"
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Old 06-14-2007, 04:44 PM   #66
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How indeed? thought Raefindan. It was a most pertinent question, and he could not recall having put it to himself in quite that way before; he had simply accepted these dreams as part and parcel of his current milieu. But that was because he knew of another one. Indi did not have any other milieu than this. (Even as he thought this, it felt not quite right in some way, but he didn't know what to do with such an odd sensation, so he dismissed it.)

"Do you think that it is strange to dream of someone you don't know?"

She nodded, her wide eyes holding his. "Don't you, Raefindan?"

"Well, until this moment I didn't, but maybe it is strange. I really don't know a good answer to your question, Indil." He was not about to suggest to her that someone was putting dreams in her head, for it might scare her; but he suspected that it was so.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:51 AM   #67
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After a while, Bergil relinquished Indil to Raefindan's care as the Ranger had duties amongst his fellows. Raefindan taught Indil a game called "railroad", but called it "pebbles in a row" instead. She liked making it up as she went whilst Raefindan tried hard not to over-strategize.

Aeron walked up toward noon, seeming rather bored. He came to a stop to watch what they were doing and became fascinated despite himself.

"Is it a game?"

"Yes."

"How do you play?"

"Would you like to join?" Raefindan asked.

"If I am welcome."

"What do you think, Indil? Shall we have Aeron join us?"

She looked up, grinned, and nodded. Aeron a smile and sat down with them.

While they whiled away the hours, it occurred to Raefindan that he wanted Aeron's thoughts on Indil's and his own dreams.

"So have you had any new dreams since we got back to Minas Anor, Aeron?"
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:32 PM   #68
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Aeron touched Gwyllion's braided hair that hung 'round his neck. "No, I haven't," he said softly. "The last dream I have had was just that...a dream. I saw my sister dead, but as she is already dead and cannot die again, I know that is all it was."

He concentrated on the pebbles on the ground. He missed his sister, and wondered when next she would tiptoe into his sleep once more. "By the by," he said, "why do you ask?"

And so Raefindan told him of the girl Indil's dreams. "I remember that Gwyllion spoke of Indil, do you remember? Somehow, I think that our paths are intertwined. But I don't know how."

He stared at Mellondu, who seemed to be brooding to himself, and bit his lip. "Indil," he said, "have you ever heard a lovely little song about a lady called Nimrodel?"

The child shook her head.

"One of our companions sang it once to me some time ago, and I've become rather fond of it."

Aeron cleared his throat before he began. "An Elven-maid there was of old, A shining star by day.
Her mantle white was hemmed with gold, Her shoes of silver-grey.
...

The melody was lilting and smooth, a little like a calm sea he thought.

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


Aeron stopped, turned to Red, and said, "In the mountains strayed? Indil's women were in the mountains, weren't they?"
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Old 06-24-2007, 02:51 PM   #69
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Raefindan

Raefindan stared at Aeron, stunned. It was so clear suddenly. "Now why couldn't I see that connection before?" He looked at Indil again. "Tell me, Indil, do you remember the color of their hair? These two women?"

"That is why I think they are two and not one," she said, wide eyed. "One had hair like the sun and the other had hair like the night sky."

"Have you ever dreamed of them before?"

Raefindan was worried that he might be scaring the girl with his sudden intensity, and tried to keep his posture and face relaxed. Aeron watched the girl too, seeming just as eager as Raefindan felt. Raefindan considered that Aeron had dreamed about this girl, so that had to count for something.

Jorje

Jorje raced back through the woods, not even stopping to drink at the rushing streams of water he passed. He came to the place of the aroo man and stopped, his tongue lagging in the breeze. He sniffed the air. The aroo man wasn't far. He was up the slope! Jorje scrambled up and the man came within both smell and sight. The man marked Jorje's presence and gave a slight nod. Jorje barked. The man looked at Jorje. He barked again and made as if to run headlong toward the new woman's place, then stopped, looked back, and barked with as much urgency as he could. The man stared. Jorje repeated his dance again. Would the man understand? How long would it take before he did? What if he didn't? Jorje barked again, his tail standing out straight behind him instead of wagging. This was too hunt for tail wagging.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:01 AM   #70
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Rugh understood quite clearly that the dog wanted him to follow. He was also aware, however, that he stood near the boundaries of the land of the mad woman of these mountains, and while he did not precisely fear her, he left her to her own, as he left all Tall Men to their own, and she, if she even knew of him, acted likewise.

The dog barked again, its tone urgent and demanding. Very well, then. Rugh took off at a surprisingly quick pace for his stumpy legs. After a very brief tail wag, the dog was also off and running, bounding ahead several feet before pausing to make sure Rugh was still following and let him catch up before repeating the process.

Before too long, however, the dog stopped with a yelp, not a yelp of triumph and the end of a hunt but of surprise and pain. As Rugh approached, he saw that the dog's hind leg had been caught in some sort of snare; this would be the work of that mad woman. Rugh's eyes glinted red in anger. This was no way to catch animals for a meal! How long might an animal suffer here before that Tall Woman came to kill them? Hours? Days, even? His own darts, when he chose to eat meat, caused a quick and painless death from fast-acting poison, if the shot itself from his precise aim was not enough to kill.

The mechanism of the snare was simple enough, and the dog was soon free and eager to resume the chase. Rugh watched, as the dog ran, for any sign of a limp and stewed over the Tall Woman. For if he had had any doubt, it was now gone: she might live in the wild like Wild Men, but she was still Tall Woman all through, with typical disregard for life around her.
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Old 06-30-2007, 07:56 PM   #71
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Maegeleb/Tharonwe

It had been as simple as breathing to keep in mind the locations of the three women who had dreamed and then fled into the wilds. Maegeleb sauntered through the forests along the slopes of the White Mountains. The two closest women were the earless one, and the mapmaker whom he had not harmed, yet.

Pity, they were lost. The mapmaker knew which way they were facing on these slopes, give her that much credit, but she had lost her bearings as to where they were in relation to anything she knew. The earless one was completely dependent on the mapmaker, and surely would have given up and laid down had they not stumbled upon each other. Fortunate for them.

Even more fortunate that he was about to take them in charge. They lay on beds of pine needles that they had made for themselves, in exhausted sleep. They had both gone to sleep hungry, having no skills for game-catching. At least in his care they would not starve; as long as they served his purpose. He sat down across from them, his back against the tree, and waited for them to waken.

When dawn came it was the earless one who woke first, and recognized him as soon as she had wiped the sleep from her eyes. Her whimper had wakened the other.

"What do you want?" asked the mapmaker.

"Your cooperation. In return I will help you survive your own stupidity, rushing off into the wilds unprepared." He raised a hand to stop the mapmaker's retort. "Do not reject my aid too quickly, for if you refuse I will have no mercy. You may consider yourselves my captives. Yes, again. Have you any questions?"

"Wh-what are you going to do with us?" asked the earless one.

"I'm going to make you serve my needs and desires, whatever they may be. As long as you do, you will live and not suffer . . . overmuch. Now up. We will cover a league or two before we break our fast."

The women looked at each other. The mapmaker proved the leader of the two, and with an exchange of glances convinced the earless one to cooperate.

"Well done, Bellyn. You show wisdom. Let us go. You will follow me and make no false moves, for I have you in my mind and will know every move you make before it can amount to anything."

He made off westward and upward into the White Mountains, and the two women followed.
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:06 PM   #72
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King Elessar had commissioned Bergil to accompany the Seekers of Nimrodel, as Queen Arwen named them. He was to be their guard and guide in all realms that gave fealty to the King of Gondor, and the Seekers' trusty friend and man at arms, and emissary of the crown to all others should they pass into other lands.

Ravion went with because they needed a ranger, never mind that the one remaining Elf could read the land better than any Man. Aeron and Raefindan knew he went for Mellonin's sake, and smiled; Mellondu suspected it as well, and scowled.

Erebemlin had sent Taitheneb back to Lorien despite the younger Elf's many protests; but Erebemlin insisted, for the others back in Lorien needed to be apprised of the progress of Amroth, and informed of the manipulations of Tharonwë. Erebemlin would have preferred to go himself, and to tarry on his way at the home of Marigold, but he refused himself the pleasure for his lord Amroth came first in his allegiances.

Aeron, constantly fingering the cut of Gwyllion's hair at his neck, brooded with a closed face as they progressed along the highways of Anórien, keeping his own counsel. Such a drastic change had occurred in no-one else; Aeron had been devil-may-care until the day his sister died.

Ædegard's eyes harbored a ferocity of purpose the moment he had heard of Tharonwë's escape from the dungeons of Minas Tirith, and the will that drove him onward did not diminish.

Raefindan had the care of Indil. He was drawn to the girl in some way that not even he could fathom or describe, and she was ever ready to talk the hours away with him.

Liornung, who had been quiet for all of their trip southward, had, since they left Minas Tirith, taken out his lyre and begun to sing merry tunes again. It was as if, Raefindan suspected, the songster was brightening at the thought of having Bellyn near again, should that hope be realized.

The Four Halflings Inn and the village that had grown up around it at the shank of the White Mountains, was a day and a half behind them, and they had been making their slow way into the woods that grew about the foothills. Ravion had found spoor and other signs of the passage of horses and humans, which Erebemlin judged to be days old.

They made camp and posted guard for the night.

During Raefindan's watch, the silence of the darkling woods was broken briefly by the fitful dreams of one of them; Raefindan craned his neck to try and decipher which sleeper was in a botherment. It was Ædegard. I'll ask him in the morning if he remembers dreaming, Raefindan thought to himself.

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Old 07-25-2007, 08:52 AM   #73
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Dawn broke hesitantly through the glowering canopy above the travelers, casting faint shimmers of light against the trunks and debris strewn forest floor. Raefindan wriggled stiffness from his limbs, rubbing an ache away that had been caused by an unseen root in the night. He glanced around the group; Liornung moved restlessly in dreams, on the verge of wakefulness. Ravion moved silently amongst the sleepers; he nodded to Raefindan as he passed. Aeron sat a short distance away, seemingly deep in thought, staring toward nothing.

Raefindan looked to the small pile of blankets between himself and Bergil, that would be Indil's sleeping body, and knelt beside her to wake her gently. When he pulled away the blankets, he found nothing. Indil had vanished in the night.

---

The little girl woke to find herself alone and cold on the forest floor, cuddled against a fallen tree in nightclothes streaked with earth and blood, with new scabs forming on a skinned knee and scraped hand.

"Bergil?" she called nervously, "Raefindan?"

Tears began to fall and she shivered violently in the chill dawn air. Light had not yet broken through to her, though she could see patches of sky far above her, lighting the highest branches.

Movement behind her, on the far side of the fallen tree startled her and she squeaked and tried to press herself to the dead wood, to become part of it, hidden and safe.

"I am not here," she breathed frantically, wiping away tears with the back of a dirty hand, "I am not here. You cannot find me. I am not here."

A pair of strong hands gripped her from behind and lifted her from her hiding place. A low voice murmured cruelly, "And who is this, all lost and alone?"

He turned Indil in the air to look into her face and she began to scream.
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Old 07-26-2007, 06:07 PM   #74
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Tharonwë chose to let her scream. He reached out to the minds of the men not far away and made them believe they heard a morning birdcall.

What was this little girl doing with them? He gently sifted her mind, finding a cacophony of connections and associations. He searched more deeply.

Ah. This girl had hidden her own parents' death from herself. He saw no reason to undo her little mental escapism. It meant nothing to him.

There. He had found it. Strange dreams and visions, of Nimrodel, and Mithrellas, seen through the eyes of a child. He turned each vision and dream over, studying each one from every angle he could think of.

Satisfied, he looked deeper, as if for dessert. What he saw there was something very odd. It was a blockage that the girl had apparently not put there herself. It was opaque, and did not allow of his searching. Somehow it was closed off to him. He was tempted to force it open, but breaking the child's mind did not seem necessarily a good risk; not yet.

"Shh, quiet, little one." He quieted her mind, and her cries ceased. But she stared at him fearfully and distrustfully. He set her on the ground, but did not let go. "You will come with me and we will see the fair lady you dream about. Would you like to go see her?"
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Old 07-26-2007, 06:33 PM   #75
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Indil's fear of Erebemlin was nothing to what she now felt in the presence of Thoronwe. Though his actions were not violent or unkind, the way he spoke and moved had none of the gentle reassurance of the men she had left behind.

As he studied her, Indil trembled in his grip; he was strong, but not comfortable like Raefindan, on whose lap she could sleep, or patient like Bergil, who watched over her always, and he did not play like Aeron or Mellondu. Thoronwe watched her too closely, and she could not look away.

At his question, Indil's mind seemed suddenly free and she saw the butterfly beat its wings gracefully and fruitlessly where it perched upon the fallen wood. She felt cold dirt against her bare toes. A breeze tugged at her nightclothes and pulled at her unplaited hair. She was hungry and cold again.

She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but her own reflection. She asked shyly, "Will she like me?"
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Old 07-28-2007, 10:41 AM   #76
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Tharonwë

How amusing, thought Tharonwë, and childish.

"Of course she will like you," he said gently. He had, of course, no way of knowing that his efforts at gentleness were perceived by honest folk as contrived.

He sifted through her mind again, and again came up against that nagging opacity. What was it? It was like nothing he had ever found before, no matter how complex the mind. And in the relatively simple mind of a child!

He took the girl in hand and started off in the general direction of Nimrodel and Mithrellas, and thought about that place in the child's mind, and what could possibly be the cause. Could the girl be a reincarnated Elf? Surely not, she was obviously human; a pity. Had some Elf or Wizard, or even a Maia hidden in secret somewhere in Gondor, worked his or her art upon this child? Whatever for? Surely there would be more valuable subjects for such craft. Tharonwë absently met the child's needs as she spoke them, always moving south and up; so consumed was he with this strange phenomenon in the child's mind that he forgot about everything else.

Ædegard

Ædegard sat up suddenly, having been wakened by a rather piercing bird call. He was about to lie back down and go back to sleep for a few more winks, but the panic in Raefindan's voice thoroughly roused him: Indil was gone and they did not know where. It was this news that brought his dream of the night back to Ædegard's memory.

"Raefindan," he said urgently, "I had a dream of Indil. It was Tharonwë that took her."

"We must search for her!" cried Raefindan, moving about in a panic.

Within a few minutes they had broken camp and had spread out through the deep woods, within sight and calling distance of each other.

Ædegard had not told them all of his dream. He had dreamt that it had been he who found Tharonwë, holding the girl against her will. He had dreamed that the Elf had taken a knife and cut off the girl's ear. Consumed with rage, Ædegard had drawn his sword and attacked. Tharonwë had flung the girl to the side like a broken doll, whisked his sword from its sheathe, and beckoned him to the attack scornfully. He had attacked, but his feet refused to obey him and would not let him move faster than a dragging walk. He had been forced to parry blow after blow, watching the cold eyes of the wicked Elf, waiting for the death blow. The Elf struck him at the neck.

He had wakened in the middle of the night at that moment, and found that he had rolled onto a root which had given him kink in the neck. He shuddered from the memory of his dream, rolled over, and had gone back to sleep.

That did not mean that the dream would not come true. He was eager to meet up with Tharonwë and take vengeance upon him for what he had done to Leafa, and what his slaves had done to him. And his feet would not drag as in his dreams. He would show the Elf.
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Old 07-29-2007, 03:57 PM   #77
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As she traveled with Thoronwe, her hand tucked nervously into his, Indil became less vibrant, more quiet. At times he carried her more with efficiency than gentleness, and at times he let her walk, though the slower pace her child's legs provided irritated him. So intent was he upon the contents of Indil's mind, that Thoronwe failed to notice when her chatter slowed to nothing. Indeed, when she cut her foot upon a sharp stone, it was her mind's registry of the incident that alerted him to the bleeding rather than any physical reaction of hers.

For a brief time they stopped. Thoronwe cleaned and bound the wound, meeting Indil's eyes. Brown. Bright, though the sparkle in them was fading.

You will sleep.

She was less trouble to bring when she slept; Thoronwe had taken to encouraging her mind to slumber as often as seemed prudent. Indil yawned, already sleepy, and her eyes closed. Thoronwe probed her unconscious thoughts gently, admiring the intricacy of the child's awareness. Men, he sneered, so unaware of the contents of their own insides.

He gently sent her sleep to deeper levels, watching her dreams with fascination.

Raefindan holds her hand and helps her over slippery rocks. The one beneath her shifts at her weight and she falls, but he catches her.

She laughs and he meets her eyes and his face turns white. "Angela..."

Thoronwe was startled. Indil's dreams deepened, casting farther and wider through broken moments.

"Look at her beautiful face, my love. Look at the light in her eyes. She will be named Eledhwen."

A flash of lightening cuts the sky and the ocean is thrashing violently against cliffs. The echoes of a scream from far away attack the water. The swimming man persists.

Aeron bounces a stone over a still pond. Indil watches hers sink beneath the surface and cries. He teaches her like he taught Gwyllion, pressing the stone into her palm. "Throw fast." he says. "Like this."

A little girl is under water, being held fast. Her eyes are filled with terror. Men dive for her, are forced back, and dive again. Indil throws stones as they fight the cold water. One cuts through Ædegard's ear. Indil cries as he cries out in pain and he begins to choke, sinking slowly.

Thunder echoes in the mountains. A woman weeps under the shadow of an outcropping.

"He will never come. He has forsaken me. Death and despair take us... all must die in the end."
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Old 07-29-2007, 08:13 PM   #78
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Tharonwë

The pieces of the puzzle were infuriating in their refusal to congeal into a web of connection.

Angela. What kind of name was that? It had no relation to any known speech Tharonwë had ever heard; not Quenya or Sindarin, not any of the Northern speeches of Men; certainly not the Black speech; nor anything from the South or East.

Eledhwen. The name was readily familiar. It was Sindarin for Star-Maiden. Perhaps the girl had overheard lovers speaking together. Over a child, an infant. Did the words refer to this girl? It was a reasonble conclusion.

Storm on the waters. Swimming man. It must be Amroth, curse him.

Throwing stones on the water. Aeron the little thief, and Gwyllion the one the Morlocks had killed. Negligible of import; a mere flitting amongst the threads of association typical of dreams.

Drowning girl, the Elf rehearsed. Indil throwing stones on the water. Indil must be the girl's name form the self-connection to it in her dreams. Ædegard the fool of the Eorlingas cut in the ear? By a stone? Might that happen in days to come? Could this girl dream the future? Perhaps not. The dreams were a jumble.

Except for the last; he knew her. How could he not, weeping for the wrong suitor? She whom he had been driven to win this last millenia. How close was she?

Tharonwë stopped and looked. It was night. The stars were out in their glory. He was high up. He took stock of where he was and where the stars and planets were in order to determine how much time had passed while he had been lost in thought. He was relieved: it had only been all of one day, and into the night. It was time to rest, or he would wear out the child, who was only Human. She was proving useful and might again on the morrow. He laid her down on gathered pine needles and sat with his back against the trunk of another tree, watching and waiting. He let his thought drift to Nimrodel, fearful of her continued rejection, drawn by the insatiable taste of her madness and grief of love, wishing it was he that was its object.

Angela? What kind of name was that?
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Old 07-30-2007, 04:41 PM   #79
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Aeron was weary to his bone. The women lost, gone...and Indil in the hands of Tharonwe. He glowered deeply at the thought, and his fingers curled into a fist. He could see it in Ædegard's face too --~~ the shadow of vengeance.

He reached up and touched the lock of his sister's hair. He missed her. Still he missed her. He wondered if the feeling, that need would ever go away.

They travelled far, resting only when horses and men required it.

As had happened so many times before, Aeron found that his companions had faded away and that he was standing in a green meadow dotted with wildflowers.

"Gwyllion?"

His voice echoed beneath the cloudy sky, and a cold wind whispered in his ear. He began to walk, the dew from the meadow soaking his feet. He found her, looking to the west. Her face was pale. "Gwyllion," he said again.

"Aeron, the other women are close. I think they are."

"Bella and Leafa?"

"Yes, those were their names, weren't they? I have such troubles remembering some things now. But they're close, so close. They aren't in any danger, there are no shadows lurking."

"But how do you know?"

"He left them, left them alone, and took that little girl with him. The shadows are around her still, encircling her. I fear for her...I made her something, I wanted to make her something to keep her safe from him, but it's gone now, I don't know what happened to it."

"Where did they go, Gwyll?" Aeron asked.

"Towards her," she whispered.

And he woke, and told Raefindan of what he had dreamed.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:03 AM   #80
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Raefindan trusted Aeron's dreams. More so now even than before. Marigold's deed of giving him some of Gwyllion's hair had been more powerful than he had expected.

But this left Raefindan in a conundrum. In his heart he wanted to save Indil from the tender mercies of Tharonwë. But the safety of the women was also important. Maybe they needed to part ways and meet farther up in the mountains. Or maybe not. He sighed in exasperation.

"Tell Mellondu, Ædegard, Liornung and Ravion about your dream, Aeron. I'll talk to Bergil and Erebemlin. I want to get Indil back from Tharonwë. I'd like it if you, Bergil, and Erebemlin will go with me after Indil, and then the others can find the women. Did you mention Mellonin? Is she with them?"
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