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Old 10-27-2006, 08:56 PM   #1
Bêthberry
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Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Pipe The Veil Lifted

Snap! Spark! Air popped into flame.

The old oil drum flared up into a small fire and shadowy figures emerged from the walls, hands held aloft to warm themselves. Some one or two kicked around a ball, making it dance between their feet and the wall and each other until, tiring, they allowed the ball to roll away into hiddenness in a shadowed corner. Then another pulled a plastic bag out of a pocket, called the others to the fire, and, ripping it open, extracted a small object from it. The bag was then passed around so each figure could withdraw something. They toyed with the object, turning it over and over until it turned into two pieces. One piece was popped into each mouth while the other one was crumpled almost secretively into a small ball and then, one by one, thrown into the fire. All but one, who stayed out of the way, eyes watching the alleyway and the sky.

“See! I told you!” whispered a voice behind the blackened window which gave out onto the alleyway. “They remember the bonfires and the scrolls.”

“Don’t be daft. Men ages ago forgot the old ways. It’s why we never show ourselves to them any more.”

“But they haven’t, not really. All the old habits—they’re still there.”

“Nah, you’re dreaming it. You’ve been reading the old lore books again and they give you ideas. Men live in metal houses now, to keep us away.”

“But watch them, look. They even scan the sky, marking the crows’ trail. And they leave food out for those who’ve gone ahead.”

“Some offering. Plunked in smelly cans.”

“How do you know they smell?”

“I can guess.”

“Guessings no good. It isn’t real. But seeing, now, or touching, or sharing the living and breathing—that’s something to think about. C'mon, let’s come out. They won’t know it’s us. We’ll be just like those others I told you about.”

“What others?”

“You know, the ones I saw last Winter Welcoming. They come in strange clothes, knocking on doors, the little ones. They call it Guising. We can pretend to be just like them.”

“But hobbits haven’t shown themselves among men for almost four ages now.”

“But they won’t know it’s us.”

The hobbits grew silent, the settled gloom of the tenement cellar seeming to give eerie possibility to the idea. One of them passed around a sack of toasted pumpkin seeds, and they chewed on them as they thought.

~ ~ ~

“I tell you, it was something weird. Like the air moved apart.” The speaker munched another tiny chocolate bar and threw the wrapper into the flames. “Last night, over on ta commons, I’m sure. I saw something at the edge of my eye, something peering at me. I turned my head and the air kinda waffled, you know, and then it didn’t. But something was there.”

“You’re starkers, man, just some kids playing All Barrows Eve early.”

~ ~ ~

tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte tah ratte

Meanwhile, an old aluminum can on the street rocked in the cackling wind. Hydro poles screeched like old crows as their wires twitched, spooked by the wind. Spiky bits of dark sky massed over the dusk horizon. Scuffling sounds assailed ears, but never materialised. You could smell time creeping away, like air hesitant before a storm. That is, you could, if you were there. Come. Dare.

The Veil Lifted awaits gamers who want to savour the treats (and a few tricks) in the challenge of imagining Tolkien’s Middle-earth in the 7th Age. It is middish in the 7th Age and our story takes place in New Ford. Like The Yule Log , this is an informal game for all who care to join—a Hallowe’en Handout for us Downers. Your moderators are piosenniel and Child of the 7th Age. Watch for an appearance by littlemanpoet as well.

Happy Hallowe'en, Downers. Bêthberry
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:23 AM   #2
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Tolly finds a treasure . . .

‘I want it,’ he whispered, more to himself than to the friend who’d crept out the old door along with him. In the dark, Tolly’s eyes were large, and what pale light penetrated the deep shadows at the end of the alleyway made them glimmer, as stars caught in a darkling pool. He pressed himself as flat as his stout little figure would allow against the uneven brick of the wall, inching along toward the treasure the Big’uns had seemingly forgotten. A few quick, sideways steps and there it was, within his reach…the ball!

‘You’d better leave it there, Tolly! The others’ll come down hard on you if you steal it. It'll mean trouble for us if the Big Folk come looking for us.’ Bran plucked at his friend’s arm, urging him to follow him back in.

‘Who said I was going to steal it?’ Tolly hissed. He dug deep into his breeches’ pocket and fished out one of his leather slings; then, from another pocket in his yellow striped vest, he pulled a small leather bag filled with small, rounded stones. ‘This should be enough, don’t you think?’ he asked, crouching down to leave the sling and rocks in a neat little pile. With a quick motion, he reached out and grabbed up the ball. Just the feel of it in his hand sent a certain thrill coursing through him. ‘It’s mine now,’ he said, with a certain dark glee. ‘Mine….’

With an economy of motion, he slid shadow like back to the door and through it.

Bran hesitated, not knowing what exactly he should do. The old leather sling with its small pouch of rocks was well used and hardly a fair trade for one of the Big Folks’ treasures. He searched through his vest pockets, finding an old silver penny at the bottom of one and a small carved whistle he’d made in another. Bran settled them in among the other offerings.

‘Trick’r’treat,’ he whispered, standing back up. Saying the invocation, or was it a blessing, he wasn’t quite sure…the one the Big Folk little’uns had cried out at each door, the year past.

‘Wait up!’ he called once he’d scrambled back inside the building, his eyes straining in the dim light for Tolly.
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Old 10-28-2006, 09:11 AM   #3
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A Shadowy Presence

A dark shadow ran up and down the dark streets, as if he was being chased by an unseen figure. He ran on and on, running into walls, stumbling here and there. Once he tripped but quickly gathered himself and continued running pell mell from that unseen figure, his tiny little feet smacking the hard ground, his breath rising in small puffs of air in the cold, still night.

It was then that he heard something ahead of him and his heart raced even faster, thumping wildly. He slowed down and flattened himself against the wall. "I want it," the voice whispered. The shadow clenched his hand tightly to his breast, thinking that the voice was talking about his precious treat.

All of a sudden, another voice rose out of the night. "You’d better leave it there, Tolly! The others’ll come down hard on you if you steal it. It'll mean trouble for us if the Big Folk come looking for us," it said as quietly as possibly. Then a full scale conversation started between the two voices.

"Who said I was going to steal it?" asked the first too the second. "This should be enough, don’t you think?" There was a pause. Then it said quietly, but loud enough for the shadowy figure to hear, "It’s mine now. Mine...." Then there was scilence.

Out of nowhere, the second voice rose quietly from the shadows. "Trick’r’treat," it said. What does THAT mean? The figure thought to himself. He was interupted as the second voice rose once more and said "Wait up!"

Then an eerie scilence fell. The figure waited a minute to check that no one was coming his way. His hand loosened it's grip on it's precious treat. The figure made his way slowly to where he had hear the voice. He walked quietly, hoping that they wouldn't come back. He didn't know if he could trust them or not.

Thump! The figure had tripped and fallen face first over something that was lying in the middle of the ground. He quickly picked himself up and looked back at the ground to see what he had tripped over. There, in the middle of the road, lay a leather sling, a pouch full of rocks, a small silver penny and small wooden whistly that looked like it was hand made.

Who would leave things such as these in the middle he street!? he thought in disgust. He turned and looked up and down the way. There was nothing in sight. Mind you, he couldn't see very far as it was a dark night. He looked around and saw an old building. Perfect! A place for me to stay! He walked toward the building quickly, entered and ran right into something solid, but a lot less solid than a wall. "Ouch!" He cried out loud. "What IS that?" Then he heard a scrambling as the other walked towards him. "AHH!! Stay away from me! The treat is mine! Stay away!!"
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #4
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§ Jack §

A tall, slender figure unfolded itself from the space between the dustbin and the cardboard boxes piled near the thick painted end of the metal receptacle. In one fluid, graceful movement, Jack rose up, stretching his whip thin body even as he pulled the old tan greatcoat tight about him. His jeans were raggedy at the ankles, faded and dirty, thin spots and holes here and there about them. Not from fashion, though, but from long use. And long as they were, the legs of them barely covered the silver high-top sneakers he’d recently liberated from an unwatched delivery van. He wore, also, a long sleeved, cotton pullover, the sleeves of it barely to his wrists. It was scarce proof against the cool of the late evening.

And little he cared that it might be cold. His fair cheeks never bore the crimson stains of it, nor did his long, slender fingers pale at the advent of this chilly part of the year. These same fingers that now reached up to run themselves through his short dark spiky hair, black as a raven’s wing, and as shiny.

He was all of seventeen, this alleyway figure. At least he looked so at first glance and even perhaps at a second or third. It was his eyes, though, that belied such youth. Dark grey they were like some stormy sky and in them swirled silver’d glints of ancient stars.

Jack jammed his hands deep in his coat pockets, looking first one way and then the other down the alley. He’d seen the little folk moving in the shadows, heard their whispered argument. And down the other way, the group of neighborhood denizens gathered about their little fire.

He stepped out from the shadows, decision made, walking leisurely toward the light and the flickering tongues of flame.

Last edited by Undómë; 10-28-2006 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 10-28-2006, 03:30 PM   #5
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Sam ran down the darkened street, laughing as his little brother tried to keep up. He was forced to take Billy with him every year now, his parents having decided that if he was old enough to go out on the dark streets at night on his own then he was old enough to look after his little brother on them as well. Sam had frowned when he first heard that argument, but had decided that the presence of his brother was a small price to pay for the absence of his parents. In any case, the kid had shown promise. Just one glimpse at those soulful eyes through whatever cute costume he was wearing got them mountains of treats.

"Come on Billy!" He called, slowing down enough that the younger boy could catch up to him.

When he received no answer he called again, a little more loudly this time. For all his protestations to the contrary he did like his brother, and would blame himself forever if anything were to happen to him.

"Billy! This isn't funny!" He yelled, cross now.

"Shh!" Came a voice from one of the side streets they'd walked past. Hurrying back down the path Sam found his brother peering down into the darkness. He could see the firelight flickering in the distance and knew that the men around it would have helped Billy if anything had happened, but it didn't stop his relief coming out as anger.

"What did you think you were doing?" He began, but was silenced by his brother who held a hand against his mouth.

"Shh, they'll hear you!" Was the whispered command.

"Who?" Sam managed to mumble.

"The Little Folk."

"Don't be silly, that's just a story." Sam scoffed, but looked warily down the alley all the same. He was about to pull his brother away by bribing him with the treats they had already gained that evening but movement at the opposite end of the street caught his eye. Astounded he watched as the little figures appeared from the shadows. He had to give Billy credit, those eyes were good for more than just sweets.

Silently now the two boys watched the goings on, and crept after the figures as quiet as mice as they moved away. Or so they thought.
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:43 PM   #6
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So he was a little old for this kind of thing. Sid didn't care. Sure he liked the treats and had a big white pillow case to welcome all the treats. He got lots of strange looks from adult after adult when his cracking and verging on baritone voice announced "Trick or treat!" They wondered why he was alone. They eyed his cloak, worn boots, dirty tunic (well, an old, old vest at any rate), and his homemade sword belt with actual homemade sword and homemade scabbard. At leat the long dark hair wasn't homemade. It was real and down to his shoulders, and the eighteen hairs under his nose (count 'em!) were all he could manage for a mustache, and the three chin hairs were all he could manage for a beard, but they were his! And so tonight he was Aragorn son of Arathorn, Ranger, protector of the Little People.

There were lots of little people around to be sure. Other people's kids. He stomped down the sidewalk looking for egg-wielding and shaving-cream-can-holstering and toiletpaper-grasping do-no-gooders, ready to unsheathe his sword and chase them away. Or not.

The crackly oak leaves blew around in the wind, and the air was cooling as the last glimpses of red day were overtaken by the night shroud. Let the fun begin, he heard in his mind, and wondered what the night would bring. Besides candy.
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:01 PM   #7
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“I don’t see why he can’t just go by himself,” Ellen said for the hundredth time as she flung back the broad, white cloth. Her chin jerked back, her blue eyes flashed, and the cloth fell into place over her head. “He’s a sensible seven year old kid and yet…” she ground her teeth and picked up the round, pearly backed brush. Half of her golden hair lay over her shoulder, falling in curling waves over the white dress.

“Don’t argue, dear,” her mother said calmly. “Do you want a basket for your candy?”

“I am not collecting candy, Mom, thank you very much. I’m sure Josh will collect enough for all of us put together. Come on, King Brian.” She directed her last statement towards a short, stout little boy dressed up in the merry green and yellow of a leprechaun. “Ridiculous outfits,” she muttered between her teeth and she held the storm door open for her little brother. “Why couldn’t we have gone as something sensible – like a regular witch and wizard? Instead the little twerp had to talk me into these impractical Irish clothes.”

They came to their first neighbors house. Josh started up the walk away from the sidewalk and turned around three steps away. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked impatiently.

“No,” Ellen replied shortly. “You will go up and ask for your trick-or-treats and I will wait on the sidewalk. Hurry up. I want to get done as soon as possible.” She sighed as she looked away down the long street. In a moment Josh returned, showed her his first bit of treasure and passed on.

“Brush your hair, El,” he said as he went by her and walked on. “Banshees always brush their hair. And be sure not to laugh. I forget what happens if they laugh…but something bad.”

Ellen rolled her eyes and made no reply as she gave one or two half-hearted brushes to her long hair. Josh started up the next walk but Ellen, upon looking up, leaped after him and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back. “No, Josh, not that house. The…the woman who lives there doesn’t…isn’t…” Ellen didn’t like spreading bad gossip about people. “No, let’s skip it.”

“Nope! More candy the better!” Josh broke free and Ellen let him go without further hindrance. She stood with her arms folded at the beginning of the walk towards the front door.

The little boy ran up and bounded up the steps. He knocked quietly on the door, the wood hard on his knuckles. “Trick or treat!” he called out in his clear, high, piping voice.
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Old 10-29-2006, 09:49 PM   #8
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Raven heard the voice calling behind her, "No! Come back! Come back!" Why did that cat have to have been so noisy? The lady never would have realized it was them - at least, not for a while longer. Now she was after them; they needed to find the cat and duck into a hiding place somewhere.

Mreeeoooow!

That way! There were more trick'r'treaters around here, not so close to the outskirts of town, and a couple of people were staring at them, but Raven didn't really notice, so concentrated was she on listening for the cat. They had to find it! If they didn't, it would be even worse, and the cat would give them even more bad luck for getting it lost!

Then she slowed suddenly. "You have our cat!" she exclaimed, seeing an older girl with the cat in her arms and not looking at all afraid of bad luck and such. "Please give us the cat?" she begged, mindful of the witch lady that must still be chasing them and getting closer all the time. She realized then that the boy with the older girl, who didn't seem terribly inclined to give up the frightened cat, was one of Tucker's friends. "Tucker, get Ben to have her give us the cat. Tell them how important it is."

Tucker nodded importantly. "If you don't give it to us, it's going to give us bad luck for a whole year, so we took it and were going to... going to... what were we going to do with it, Raven?"

Raven shifted uncomfortably, not wanting to say the dreaded words, "I don't know." But she didn't know what else to say, and was starting to panic so she just started to babble, "If you don't give us the cat the witch lady with the mean jack-o-lantern's going to catch us and we'll be cursed and have bad luck and please please just give us the cat please!"
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Old 10-29-2006, 11:56 PM   #9
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It begins, she thought dramatically, quoting Theoden, or Aragorn, or somebody. She put out the clove cigarette she'd lit. She hadn't smoked it. It just smelled interesting. Tish loved the spicy scent. But you couldn't pay her enough to suck smoke. Still, the image of a black haired, black clothed, smoking Corruptor of the Youth worked for her; it meant no parents ever asked her to babysit. She'd made it this far in her life without close contact with diapers and she had no inclination to end the trend.

She got up slowly and moped toward the door, opening it, suddenly, harshly and leaning on the frame.

"Just what trick, little boy, do you think yourself capable of playing on me?"
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Old 10-30-2006, 02:18 AM   #10
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‘Armundo?’ Bran looked at Tolly, who merely shrugged his shoulders. ‘Sorry never heard about you before.’

‘And, yeah, that’s our stuff out there. Left it for a trade.’ Tolly pulled out the small ball and shifted it from hand to hand. He was about to ask just what this ‘treasure’ was that Armundo had found, when a voice hailed them from the stairway.

‘Hey! You two!’ Ferdy paused on the steps coming up from the cellar, his face peering over where the wooden floor of the tenement met the stairway. ‘Come on! Daisy’s found some sacks for us.’ He held up a crinkly, plastic bag with the with the words Shop-Smart emblazoned in red across one side. ‘We’re going to try that trick’r’treat thing we saw them doing last year.’ He climbed up two more steps and sat down, grinning through the stairposts. ‘Daisy wants to be one of the ones who asks for treats.’ He held up a carton of eggs in one hand and pulled a piece of soap from his pocket. ‘I’m gonna try my hand at the trick part.’

Ferdy laughed, a merry sort of sound that rang across the room. ‘Remember that big place we saw, the one with the moving pictures? Well, Bilbo and Frodo’s books, it seems, have been done up in that way. Or so Daisy said she’d heard from someone. Imagine that! Well, anyways, her friend says the big folk are quite fond of the Hobbits from the stories. So that’s what we’re going out as tonight. Ourselves…..’ He burst out laughing, thinking about pretending to be what they really were.

Ferdy came on up the steps, stopping short as he reached the top. ‘Hey! Who’s that with you?’ he asked, a suspicious look on his face. ‘You know him?’

Bran and Tolly shrugged their shoulders, not really wanting to get into the whole story of how they’d ‘met’ Armundo. ‘Sort of,’ they gave as a grudging answer.

Tolly turned to Armundo, an expectant look on his face. ‘Well, you want to come along?’
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Old 10-30-2006, 06:30 AM   #11
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Armundo looked between the three figures. They seem friendly enough. Besides, I'm interested in finding out what they're going out to do.

"Sure I'll come," he answered as he rose to his feet, dusting himself off as he did. As he rose, he noticed that they too were Hobbits. "Hmmm, I don't think I reconize any of you either. I know that you're all Hobbits like myself, but from where?" he asked, quite interested and unafraid for the first time that night.

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Old 10-30-2006, 08:40 PM   #12
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The door popped open like a jack-in-the-box. Josh looked up, expectant. "Just what trick, little boy, do you think yourself capable of playing on me?"

What? That wasn’t the sort of reply grown ups were supposed to give. Josh took a step back, a puzzled look crossing his childish face. A moment later, he gained control of himself and his presence of mind and quick wit kicked in.

“I’m a leprechaun!” he said, his face brightening. “I can do a great many things. You’d better just give me the candy and not worry about it.” He extended his hands with his large basket presented.

“I’m not serving candy this evening,” the woman said. Josh thought he caught a sound of sarcasm in that voice. The door began to shut. He put his foot in the way.

“Don’t you dare shut the door in the face of King Brian! I’ll have Featheregoag put the Come-hither on you! There’ll be a changeling in every cradle! The Banshee will haunt the streets for weeks after tonight! Open up, I say, and hand over the goods!”
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:06 PM   #13
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Tish clenched her jaw in repressed annoyance. This little boy was obnoxious. She briefly considered slamming the door on his foot, but decided against it. She really didn't want to hear from his parents' lawyers. She rolled her eyes.

"Child," she forced through a plastic smile, "Go play elsewhere. Your sister awaits. There appears to be a youth with a cardboard sword running around. Try challenging him to a duel."

She nodded slightly to the girl on the garden path. No, little girl, it seemed to convey, I won't steal your little brother. No worries. I don't want him. You can keep him.

Tish waved her hand dismissively.

"Off with you. Go bother the old lady next door."
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:00 PM   #14
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"Do you think anyone will recognise us?"

The tall, somewhat willowy woman in the orange robes of a Buddist had scanned the neighourhood, marking young humans in mythological and Middle-earth costumes and catching sight of some shod, short souls who she knew would receive a scathing lecture from the Hobbiton Garden Club--the very thought of hobbits succumbing to the fetish of leather over their feet!

'Blunderbusses and horseflies, I can only hope," replied a very hirsuite fellow clad in armour from head to foot, but armour which couldn't possibly hide all his long, growing, glowing, beautiful hair. It was a luxury he allowed himself now that he was no longer in the army. "Hello, sweet lady!" he immediately beamed to a very distraught looking woman, her skirts flying about her, but before she could reply his eye caught site of a very fetching woman clad in black, stubbing out a cigarette, the whiff of which sent him off on fantasies--of trade. He stepped forward to speak to her, wondering which quotation from The Silm or UT would put him in the best light as a substantiated former of Tolkien opinion.

"Bruce, get your mind get your mind out of Books. This is a Mirth night, an RPG night, not a scholarly night." He glared glumly at the woman, who had a reputation as one who took Books a bit too lightly. "Maril," he began, but was quickly interrupted.

"Look at what those rugrats are doing to that cat. And that bird! Honestly, you'd think everyone here has succumbed to that wretched view of wildlife which Tolkien promulgated."

'Now, Birdie, wait and see what happens. We're not here to interrupt the Guising for All Barrows Eve. We're here to haunt the Downs."

"Haunt, schmaunt," replied the woman addressed as Birdie, whose name really was Birdland, "I'm here to pretend we're the Lollygag Guild. I hear some people are whining that the Downs has become too sedate. I'll show them sedate."

The three wights wafted down the street, walking into and through garbage cans and walls, trick r treaters and lamp poles, as was the wont of wights of eld. It had been a long time since any of the three had made an appearance on the Downs but none of them was the sort to make any bones about silly nonsense that only one poster could lay claim to brilliance and genius on the Downs.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:23 PM   #15
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The chase came to an end. Four children - the two Becca had been chasing and two others - stood together in front of a small house. Midnight squirmed uncomfortably over the shoulder of the girl who had been at Becca's door. The cat spotted Becca and freed herself from the child's grasp with a sudden twist. Becca scooped her up from the ground and as she gently stroked her fur, Midnight calmed down and began to purr contentedly.

Becca's eyes flashed indignantly. She glared at the children, not softened (as she would usually have been) by the nervous look of fear her visitors now wore with their costumes. Had 'Aragorn' not been watching from one side and an older girl standing guard on the other, she was certain that they would have fled.

"Why did you do that? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves?"
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:33 PM   #16
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Darlariel did not know how long she had sat alone with her thougths, memories of her past mixing with her reflections on the present until she had not been able to discern any diference between them. Suddenly she was abruptly brought back to reality by a voice sounding quite near her. She turned around to have a better look at the one who had adressed her, slightly intrigued by the way he talked. She saw an old man, leaning on a staff, with an owl nestled on his shoulder. For a moment, she was too taken aback by his appearance to be able to answer his request, but then something else happened, something she had not expected.

"I believe you are Darlariel."the old man said."My fine lady Darlariel, can you help me find the library?"

Darlariel felt her heart miss a beat when she heard the old man, calling her so casually on the name she had not used for such a long time, a name she was sure all those that had once heard it had forgotten it by now. She took a step backwards, her eyes fixed on that strange apparition that seemed to know so much about her. Who was he? What did he actually want and why had he come exactly to her? Could it be that her greatest dream, her burning desire was now going to come true? But...but how?

All these queries were in Darlariel's dazled mind, and all of them were demanding to be answered immediately. Yet when she opened her mouth to speak, her lips could utter no more than one question.

"How...how do you know this name?" she whispered. "How do you know I call myself this?"

She wondered whether he had not seen her when she was a child, whether he had not heard how proudly she had spoken her name then. Yet, no, it could not be that. She had changed since then, he would not recognise her. And she did not remember seeing such a quaint old man before. Where did he come from? Was he...was he from...? Yet how could he be? Darlariel looked at the man, trying to look more determined than she felt, and hoping that her voice would not tremble from the emotions that were inside her.

"I will lead you wherever you want, Sir." she told him. "Yet fisrt you must tell me who you are. And why did you call me by that name?"
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Old 10-31-2006, 02:31 PM   #17
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Daisy ran up the steps, plastic sacks in hand. ‘Where are we from?’ she said, hearing the new fellow’s question. She looked at her three friends, her eyes narrowing. ‘Well, from around…here…and sort of…sideways to this place.’

‘What she means to say,’ picked up Bran hastily, ‘is that we don’t come here…‘here’, often.’ ‘And really,’ he went on, giving her a smirking sort of look, ‘she’s not that good with directions.’

Ferdy smoothed out his vest, tugging down at the hem. He ran his fingers through his curly hair, then looked down at his feet. ‘You know, I saw some of those young folk, the ones dressed Hobbitwise. They were wearing shoes on their feet.’ He looked round at his companions. ‘Think we oughta?’ he asked, wriggling his toes.
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Old 10-31-2006, 03:58 PM   #18
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*cough . . .

‘The New Ford Library?’ Gilli looked sideways at Jack and shook her head at the question. ‘It’s closed at this hour, isn’t it m’dear? Just how are you proposing to get in?’

From out on the street that crossed the alleyway came the pattering of many feet; the sounds of young voices calling out to one another, laughing. A part of her wanted to run out to join them, sack swinging as she skipped along. Traces of chocolate and sticky lollys round her lips and on her cheeks. She’d loved this holiday....still did, if truth be told. The veil between the everyday world and what worlds might lie beyond grew thin and sometimes even disappeared altogether. She smiled, remembering those few brief times when she’d glimpsed something beyond what her everyday senses told her.

Ah, well.... she thought to herself. Those glimpses are a rare thing these older days.

She shrugged, and looked toward Jack again, sizing him up. ‘Of course, there is you....’ she said aloud. ‘And I did once actually sing a few bars with two of my best girls in the upstairs carrels. Of course, Old Ms. Shrewsbry quickly put an end to that.’ Gilli picked up her little backpack and her fiddle case, hoisting the one to her shoulders while the handle of the old wooden case was grasped tight in her fist.

Maybe there was room for a little magic tonight....

‘Sure! I’m up for it. Let’s go!’ She hurried along, trying to keep up with her companion’s long stride. ‘So, you haven't told me....just how are you thinking of getting us in?’

Last edited by piosenniel; 11-03-2006 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 12-19-2006, 04:21 AM   #19
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‘Daisy, yes?’ Jack smiled toward the Hobbits as they came out from their hiding place. ‘Best you not go into the Library. The wights and wraiths who guard the book barrow have some business to be about this night. He motioned for them to follow along with his companions. ‘Did you not see the torogs and yrchs.....goblins and trolls?’ He gave them no time to answer, but picked up the pace as they exited the tunnel and headed toward the door of the little book repository they found themselves in.

‘Ssshhh!’ Jack whispered, finger to his lips as they slipped out into the shadows that ran along the side of the building. Once clear of building and in the cover of a small coppice of beech and low growing bushes, Jack halted the little group and spoke low to them. ‘You can make your way back to the alleyway and the warehouse if you head across the field there,’ he said pointing to the stubbly acre which lay between them and the two-lane track back into the little commerce district of New Ford.

His eyes glittered in the pale moonlight, what stars there were tracking in tiny bursts across the greyed orbs as he turned his head to look back toward the library. ‘I, for one, am off to see what mischief the dark ones have done. And if I might lend a hand somehow,’ he added as an afterthought.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Jack could feel the others of his companions, or at least some of them, following along behind him as he made his swift, quiet way to the library’s main entrance. Nearing the little pathway that led up to the marbled steps, he ducked down behind the pedestal holding one of the stone bears that greeted visitors entering the library grounds. Less friendly they seemed to him tonight as he looked up at the one he stood beneath. Was that a gleam of tooth he saw catching the lamplight from the street corner? Did his eyes betray him – were the lips drawn back in a menacing way? Did the hair bristle along the nape of its neck?

His ears caught the sound of softly beaten drums; hand drums he thought. Like a heartbeat in the night. And then he saw them....

It was the ones that Gilli had spoken of. There in a half ring about the base broad steps leading up to the front door was a group of twenty or so people. Some wore their hair long in dark braids tied with pieces of red twine or short - the salt and pepper locks spiked up in an uneven thatch. Faded jeans and flannel shirts hugged their bodies, lean or generous in their proportions. Upon their feet were soft leather slippers, dusty with dirt from those places which they’d passed. And those feet were planted firm upon the stone of the walkway and on the grass and soil which bordered it.

A number of hands held the small drums he’d heard, their insistent beat thumping along in the darkness. From their mouths came a low, keening sound, at times like the yip of those nocturnal beasts that stalked the wilder outlands of the city.

It was their faces, though, that held the Elf’s attention. Like those trick mirrors at some traveling carnival attraction they changed, first one thing then another.....a young man’s face to hawk visage.....and on another that of an antlered stag. Fox and bear, fish and marten, wolf.....and others not seen save in those lands west of west, graced their swaying bodies. ‘I know these ones,’ Jack spoke, almost to himself. ‘From across the great sea they came in older days, even as our folk crossed to their lands.’ He marveled at them. ‘Though I have not seen them gathered in such number before.’

The great doors to the library were open, he could see. Those Orcs and Trolls who had not already passed within tried desperately to escape the shadows which seethed just beyond the entryway. But they could not. Held by the steady intensity of the drums and voices they were driven back mercilessly toward the waiting doom.

In the end, he could not say if it were long or brief – that space of time within which the spectacle played out. When the last Orc vanished into the library, the great doors swung closed. The drumming, the hum of voices stopped, too. And all was silent, within and without, until the familiar sounds of a New Ford night came flooding back in upon the senses.

In twos and threes and such the group before the stairs began to leave; some talking quietly to each other as they walked along, others with a look and half smile of a thing yet again well done. A few there were who stopped as they passed the stone bear where the companions were yet hiding. They nodded in a knowing way toward the group, their ordinary faces set with smiles. All hints of wildness gone for the moment.

One turned back as they passed where Jack stood, a cunning, playful look gracing her features.....an otter’s face at first, dark eyes regarding the Elf and then in a moment a face familiar to him.....the librarian.....

‘Those three little books,’ she said, pointing a slender finger at the pocket in which he’d hidden them away. ‘Remember as always, my dear, due back, and promptly, next Hallows’ Eve.’

‘No tears, no dog-eared corners, no creasing the spines unduly either. And, oh, yes, no writing of notes in the margins, no underlining,’ he called out to her as she turned away and hurried off into the welcoming shadows beyond the library grounds.

Jack shoved his hands in his coat pockets and looked round to his own companions. ‘Well, shall we be getting back?’ he asked, lifting his chin in the direction from which they’d started out. He glanced briefly back at the once again quiet library; its windows softly dark as if what lay within were now resting. ‘Seems as if all is taken care of, don’t you think? At least for now.....’

Last edited by Undómë; 12-19-2006 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 12-26-2006, 01:56 PM   #20
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~*~ Finis ~*~
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Old 12-26-2006, 01:57 PM   #21
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