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Old 10-20-2004, 04:05 PM   #521
alaklondewen
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Erebemlin

"Tell him to spare my sister.”

Erebemlin’s heart fell as he looked into the blacksmith’s grey eyes. “No,” he whispered involuntarily. No, he could not go against his king. No, the young mortal could not suppress the mighty Amroth, not now…they were so close.

“Tell him.” The blacksmith remained resolved. His face hardened with determination.

“No, do not fall for the lies he feeds you.” Erebemlin leaned forward and searched Mellondu, hoping for a sign of Amroth. Let her go for something greater.

I will not accept her death.

Taitheneb continued to press against Tharonwe, but the dark elf was stronger, older, and the younger faltered.

Do not listen to the Lorien elf. He cares not for your dear sister.

Erebemlin tried to reply, but the blacksmith had shut his mind. “We are so close to finding her…please.” He spoke quietly trying to reach the young mortal’s heart, but Mellondu stared directly ahead and replied not.
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Old 10-20-2004, 04:18 PM   #522
Aylwen Dreamsong
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The scenery behind the pale-headed woman changed, and Dream-Bellyn looked about with wide eyes. Beneath her feet lay muddy grass and trampled flowers. Above her head, thundering grey clouds threatened to downpour while light mist glided gently down to the spongy ground. Bellyn looked back to the sad, weary lady. Off in the distance behind the strange woman Bellyn could see rolling fields of wheat beneath a shining sun.

I would much rather be there, thought Bellyn. When she looked into the lady's eyes and saw her horrified glance, however, Bellyn changed her mind.

She appeared clearly to Bellyn, but cold and distant as if lost within her own hopes and her own intangible ambitions. On the woman's face sadness mixed with some kind of suppressed anger and strain at the harshness of an inner battle.

Then, for just one single moment, the pale face softened. The lines of hard truth disappeared temporarily, revealing the youth and empathy that seemed to have hidden too often behind frowning wrinkles of despair. Her captivating eyes blinked once, twice, and in seconds the oddly familiar face was once again stony and cold.


'Agony,
Can you cleanse this misery?
For never again will I breathe
The air of home...'

Dream-Bellyn was the one to blink this time, as the Gondorian woman listened to the soothing voice coming from the pale-haired lady. The tune was simple, but it continued to vibrate within Bellyn's mind even when the singer had stopped singing. The melody and lyrics made Bellyn sick to her stomach. Her voice is lovely, but is this how I will end up? Is this how Argeleafa and I will meet our end? A bundle of sorrow, bound and broken to our dreams...Bellyn contemplated, hesitating for a moment as she wondered what she should do. The dreamer ultimately decided to sit down next to the crouched woman. If I spoke to her, would she answer? Bellyn wondered.

'My name is Bellyn...' the dreamer spoke to the frail, huddled mass next to her. Bellyn knew that she did not need words to understand the other woman's pain.
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Old 10-20-2004, 05:44 PM   #523
Imladris
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Tolkien Gwyllion

Gwyllion shifted uneasily on her feet.

Why have you come here? Mithrellas asked as she eased herself to the ground.

Gwyllion smiled a little and settled herself near the elf lady, and stared at her. She was so beautiful, her dark hair glinted in the faltering sunlight, and her long fingers stroked the grass idly. Yet....she was like a...like a wilted flower...or a burdened tree...Gwyllion frowned. She was so sad... she shuddered as she remembered the elf's grief that had washed over her when they had first met.

Why have you come here, Gwyllion? Mithrellas asked again.

I don't know Gwyllion whispered, struggling to remember what had happened to the horse and Aeron. A pain...a pain brought me here in sleep's dark arms...I think.

Mithrellas's eyebrow arched a little. You are not awake.

Was she awake? Gwyllion didn't think she was, but she wasn't sure. She did a half nod, a half shake of her head. Am I?

Mithrellas smiled, but it vanished as quickly as a stray rainbow flits between the dew splashed leaves. You are asleep -- you tripped gaily through a dream and I saw you and staid your parting from my wandering thoughts.

Gwyllion tried to understand -- yet doubt clouded her. Dreams were not real, else Aeron would be dead. How could this elf -- this Mithrellas be real? Are you real? she murmured at last, afraid of what the answer would be.

I am as real as the song of birds, as rippling brooks, as butterflies dancing in the treetops Mithrellas whispered.

But it was just a dream....how could dreams be real?

Last edited by Imladris; 10-20-2004 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 10-20-2004, 10:26 PM   #524
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Liornung's hands closed tight together, and his face was grim and full of anger. There was the sister, that he did not know, and though he could not see her he knew that she was afraid. Were Bellyn and Argeleafa somewhere, likewise weeping, in grief and fear? Ædegard, the brave man, had gone to seek his beloved, and would not leave her behind. Liornung hoped with all his heart that he would find Leafa and rescue one, and that neither one would come to any harm. And he hoped, he hoped with all strength hope could be hoped, that Bellyn would be saved and unharmed. And this woman, this sister, the woman he did not know. He hoped also for her safety. And a question ran in his mind: Why? Why was there such evilness in the world? Why was it necessary for this woman to be filled with fear and grief? Why was it that Bella and Leafa must be gone? Why was not the world good? He had spoken it to Ædegard once in the days when they first travelled together, and it burst now from his lips in a passionate whisper. "Alas for the sorrows of the world!"

There she stood in grieving fear
and gravely they with faces dark;
stained on her cheek a single tear:
of her frightened pain a mark.


They were the words to the Ballad. Never before had the words come to his mind, yet now they came to him clear. She, the fearful woman, and they, the company of rescuers, he at least who was thrown in agony at the thought of her peril, and the peril of the other two maids. Words from earlier in the Ballad came to him, though he did not bid them. They simply came, in the place of his thoughts, and the clear notes, full of woe and also anger, rang through his heart.

Fair Leafa with her golden hair
and trothed to Ædegard the brave;
and young Bella, ever fair
were taken to a peril grave.


Oh, would that they were safe! Would that Ædegard would bring Leafa back! Would that he, Liornung, could be at Bella's side now, taking her to a place of shelter, and to Nethwador who loved her.

Bellyn there was loved by one,
Nethwador, the name he had
and his heart, now she was gone,
full deep with ire, and sorrow sad.


To the swamp they made their way
to find the frightful, wicked foe,
and swore to make the evil pay
if they found the maids had suffered woe.


Ædegard then turned and left
to find his love, young Leafa fair
for she was left of help bereft
until to save her he did dare.


The strains of a weeping fiddle rose above the song, high, piercing, and lamenting. A flute sounded softly and swelled gently in low grieving. The music was like a stream of tears, and the voice faded. Higher the fiddle went, and softer the flute, and then the one dropped and the other raised until they were mingled together in the same key of painful lament. And then another fiddle came, playing slow harmonies, and for an instant the two fiddles touched each other in song before they broke away and left to their separate mournings. A horn call sounded then, full of majesty and bravery, for not all was sorrow, and Ædegard rode after his love, and the men were straight and tall and willing to lay down their lives for the maids. And also there joined in a third fiddle, its music soft and gentle for the maids ceased not in their purity, innocence, kindness of heart, sweetness, and beauty. Then a last instrument joined in, one that played the notes of the malice and wickedness that was in the hearts of the foe, and it chilled the heart for its pure evil.

The music rose higher and higher in sound, full of all things... evil, lamenting, bravery, love, loyalty, and sweetness. Liornung closed his eyes as the music swept over him in mighty waves, overwhelming him, and he dropped his face in his clenched hands.

Last edited by Nurumaiel; 10-20-2004 at 10:32 PM. Reason: minor revisions
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Old 10-21-2004, 05:13 AM   #525
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Nethwador

He felt Amroth slipping away. He knew the fear of the elves. He saw Echo's ears flick backward, and his eyes showed white. His own Celegoer Beorneth stamped, and tossed his head.

Nethwador spoke half in his own tongue, half in garbled elvish. "Why must he choose? Why must we save Nimrodel or the sister? Why cannot we save both?"

Taitheneb had no time to answer, and Erebemlin barely heard Nethwador's thought or speech.

"If the bad elf will hurt Lady Bella, then let us kill him now, " Nethwador said.

Erebemlin paused, and considered turning the boy loose on the swamp elf, but thought better of it. Wait.

"If he hurts Bella, I will kill him, " said Nethwador.

Taitheneb turned to Erebemlin. "We are more than they."

Erebemiln said, "Til their darts find us."

Mellondu's mouth tightned. He reached for the reins, but there were none. Confound the elf... how do you turn this beast with no reins, Mellondu thought, and thumped his heels into Echo's sides. Echo snorted and jigged. Mellondu thumped him again, but Erebemlin's thoughts rang clear. Halt. Echo trembled, crouching, ready to spring.

Mellondu's cry echoed. "Release my sister! Free my sister alive and unharmed!"

So, replied the swamp-elf. The wiser of the two has spoken.

Mellondu curled up as if he had been struck, and Amroth's thoughts cut through. No. We do not yield.

Echo sidestepped and churned as Mellondu writhed, now clinging to the mane. "No!" He cried. "Free her. Free Mellonin!"

"Aye, " said Ravion. "There is no time. Free Mellonin!"

"Wait!" ordered Taitheneb.

Nethwador's thoughts and words came out in a jumble. "Why must we wait? Ædegard has gone to find Argeleafa; let us fight for Bella, and this girl too? If this cruel elf hurts her, will he hurt Bella? I will kill him if he does. And if the nasty teethy men touch Bella, I will kill them all. We must kill this swamp-elf! I want him to die!"

He drew his knife, and Celegoer gathered himself.

Erebemlin met his eyes. Wait.

With an effort, Nethwador obeyed, and Celegoer calmed.

Erebemlin spoke to Echo and to his own horse, and rode up beside Echo; he considered lifting Amroth onto his own horse, but Mellondu clung to the horse desperately. Erebemlin leaned on his hands, crouched on hir horse's back, and stepped lightly over to Echo, settling himself behind his king. Mighty arms circled the blacksmith. Echo calmed. Erebemlin reached one hand and placed it on Amroth's sweat-drenched brow.

"We don't have time for this, " said Ravion. "Free the girl. Free Mellonin!"

You will abandon your quest, and leave Nimrodel to me. You will not seek her again.

"Nimrodel!" spat Ravion. "Leave the history, and give us Mellonin. Return her to us or we will come and get her."

Not if you want her to live, replied the swamp-elf.

Taitheneb met Erebemlin's eyes, and knew that he had not found what he sought. The blacksmith hung limp in Erebemlin's arms, and Erebemlin's face was stony cold.

"He is near death. This body is not strong enough for the king."

Ravion's eyes grew wide. "Body... King." He shook his head, and looked to Raefindan.
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Old 10-21-2004, 03:11 PM   #526
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Silmaril

Jorje Jorje smelled blood as he ran. He had not smelled it before. Where was it coming from? It made his stomach growl, and he had not had much to eat for some time. He slowed and sniffed more closely. Oh no. Not good. It was Ædegard.

Ædegard

Brade was running well for Ædegard, which was a good thing. Ædegard was having trouble with the reins. They kept slipping from his left hand, which seemed somewhat achy. They had almost come to the main path again. He picked up the reins again. And they dropped again. What was going on? His left hand felt slippery, and it was throbbing now. Why did it hurt so badly? He picked it up again. It fell away again. Now his wrist burned. Brade came to the main path and Ædegard urged him on in the direction of the others. He picked up the reins again. No. He hadn't picked them up. His wrist burned. He looked at his hand and wrist. He swooned and lost his grip on the reins with his right hand.

He blinked. He was on his back. Jorje was licking his face, and whimpering, sniffing at his left hand. His vision threatened to go black again. His hand. His left hand. It was not there. He remembered the ugly little men and their pointy teeth.

"No!" he moaned. Tears came to his eyes. "My hand!" He forced himself to a sitting position, using only his right hand, and then looked at his left again. He closed his eyes and turned his head away. Ragged and pulpy. He sniffed. He needed to get going again, before the ugly men came again. Brade was standing nearby. Ædegard got to his feet and staggered to Brade, Jorje whimpering at his side. He saw the bloodstain on Brade's side, where he thought he had grabbed hold of the bridle in his effort to climb up. How had he done it? How had he not felt the pain then? He understood that he had been too excited, too eager, too active to feel the pain, as if battle vigor was on him. Well, it was far gone now. He struggled up with his good hand, and managed to climb back into the saddle. The continued, Ædegard clenching his teeth against the pain.

Soon, Ædegard saw a horse standing in the path ahead of him. It was the thief boy, sleeping on the neck of his mount. Oh. There was a dart still stuck in his neck. Ædegard had Brade sidle up to the thief boy's mount, and he shook the boy with his good hand. The boy's head came up blearily.

"Gwyll?" he blinked, looking around.

"Nay, 'tis Ædegard," he said through clenched teeth.

The boy blinked again. "Where is Gwyllion? Sh - she should be on the back of my horse."

"There is no one there."

The boy frowned and blinked some more.

"There is a dart in your neck. Here, let me take it out." The boy nodded and winced as it came out in Ædegard's hand.

"Thank you. Did you find your betrothed?"

"No," Ædegard shook his head wanly.

"Friend, you look pale." Ædegard raised his left arm. The boy blanched. "I see."

"Come, let us go back to the others. I should not have left."

"But what about Gwyllion? And your betrothed?"

"We need the others if we are to get them back." Ædegard started back, the boy watching him from behind. Jorje kept pace with him, looking dolefully at Ædegard.

Raefindan

"He is near death," said Erebemlin. "This body is not strong enough for the king."

Ravion's eyes grew wide. "Body... King." He shook his head, and looked to Raefindan.

Raefindan had watched and listened in silence, feeling very much out of depth. The Elves seemed determined not to deal with this Tharonwe, no matter how many lives it cost. That seemed as foolish as it was heroic to Raefindan. Ravion and Ædegard had wanted to fight. That seemed just as foolish. Worse, in his mind's eye, Raefindan saw Tharonwe and Mellonin joined now by Bellyn, and Argeleafa, and their captors.

It seems that the Elves rule you against your will, humans. Will you let them cost you so many lives? See here that I do not jest. Tharonwe's knife went up, and suddenly there was a red line extending from Mellonin's brow to her lip, just inside her eye. She winced, and her tears blended with the red. The red line thickened and spread, and Tharonwe touched the pooling blood, and let one of the ugly little men smell it. They became more excited yet, fawning on Mellonin's arm. You must overcome these intransigent Elves if your women are to be saved.

Ravion looked to Raefindan. It would not do.

"Take me in exchange for the women," Raefindan said.

Ah, a new type of bargain. And why would I do that, young red man who does not belong to this world?

Raefindan's head jerked from the shock. He did not belong?

Red man, or should I call you Roy Edwards, you are from a time that has not yet come, and will not for thousands of years. You should not be here. How is it that you are here?

"I don't know! Take me! Take me and kill me if you must! Just let the women go!"
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Old 10-21-2004, 07:22 PM   #527
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Aeron shook his head, trying to clear the vaporous fog that clouded his mind. Where was Gwyllion? What had happened to the man's hand? Leaving the group was probably not one of his most brilliant ideas -- yet it was good to know that they had met up with Ædegard...too bad he hadn't been the one to rescue him from whatever it was that mangled his hand. Gwyllion would have been transported into one of those tales she loved so much...of course, she probably wouldn't have cared for the mangled hand part...but...

Aeron yawned widely. Where was she? That swamp elf -- had he taken her again? A clear ray of panic pierced through the fog. If -- and this was a very high if -- if she was kidnapped again, the elf surely would not harm her in any way. Elves just didn't do that...of course, he hadn't exactly been acting like an elf. No. Aeron shook his head. No. He wouldn't kill her...she had probably just slipped off the horse any way. They would find her sleeping upon a bed of grass, a crown of flowers on her hair.
~~~~~~~
Mithrellas

This Gwyllion doubted that she was real...why? Mithrellas began to pluck wildflowers, deftly weaving them into a woodland crown. Did you travel here alone?

Gwyllion shook her head. No. I travelled with many others -- a ranger and a woman -- and my brother.

You love your brother?

Yes.

May I see him?

Yes.

Mithrellas reached into Gwyllion's mind, and saw a tall, skinny boy, black hair plastered against his neck. He seemed weary --like a clouded glass -- what had happened to them that they were separated now?

Separating herself, she glanced at the flower wreath in her hand, and dropped it onto Gwyllion's head. Fancy yourself a woodland queen.

Do you travel alone? Gwyllion asked softly.

Mithrellas laughed aloud. I am as alone as a serving girl dusting her mistress' portrait, as alone as a girl peering into a rippling brook and catching the bent reflection of star, or as a girl running after a dancing linden leaf.

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Old 10-21-2004, 08:33 PM   #528
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Silmaril Raefindan

What need have I of you, Roy Edwards of an age long hence from this? You should not be here.

"What do you want?"

Lord Amroth's mad quest to be ended.

"It will not end," said Erebemlin.

Tharonwe frowned in displeasure. Alas for this fair maiden. You see, I can no longer countenance such intransigence, and someone must suffer for it. Tharonwe's knife flicked up to Mellonin's tearstained face and a red line appeared from her brow to her lip just inside her left eye. Mellonin cried out and jerked her head back from the knife. The red line spread and opened into a frightening gash. Blood pooled and mixed with the tears streaking down her face. Tharonwe raised a long finger to the deep wound and dipped his finger in to the first knuckle. He lowered his finger to the raised noses of the merlocks. They hungrily pawed at Mellonin's leg. She whimpered fearfully.

Ravion growled something that Raefindan could not quite interpret as speech.

"Do your worst, Tharonwe," said Erebemlin. "We will not be dissuaded from our quest."

Ravion eyed Erebemlin with poorly disguised contempt and rage, but he said nothing.

I almost believe you. But here! More captives come! Raefindan saw Bellyn and Leafa, bound tightly and borne, like logs to be burned, on the backs of many merlocks.

Nethwador rose in his saddle and scanned the bogs intently, peering over and around every hummock within reach of vision. His brow furrowed deeply, Liornung said, "If they are harmed..."

Tharonwe unbound their legs so they could stand, and stood them near Mellonin. Tharonwe wakened them. I fear that they are not as well as they were before you left them all alone in the open wild. Alas, these friends of mine are ever hungry, and I cannot stay them entirely from their appetites. He moved to Argeleafa and lifted her hair from her head to reveal her left ear. It was not there. Blood streaked her neck.

"Foul miscreant!" Liornung cried. "And what of Bella?"

Her captors were apparently not so hungry and did no nibbling.

Four more merlocks waded chest deep through the muddy water, bearing Gwyllion on their shoulders between them. Her legs dragged in the water. As the merlocks came up out of the water, her legs came up out of the water, revealing that there was nothing below her left knee. Blood oozed from the mangled wound.

Raefindan closed his eyes and tried to force the image from his mind. He looked pointedly at Ravion, who was looking at him out of haunted eyes; Raefindan was sure his appeared the same.

I fear she will never walk properly again. 'Tis a shame.

"Erebemlin!" cried Ravion. "This cannot go on! Do you want them devoured before our very eyes?"

"Ravion," Erebemlin said, betraying no expression than his wrath for Tharonwe, "if we give him the one thing, do you think that he is finished? Whether this fair faced orc wins much or little from us, they shall be devoured. Why would he stop his merlocks?"

So that was what they were called, thought Raefindan. Merlocks. It was an evil name. He feared to be among them, for then his own fate seemed sure, but he could not allow it to happen to Mellonin, Bellyn, Leafa, and Gwyllion. As it was, Mellonin would wear a terrible scar for the rest of her days.

"Take me in trade for all of them, Tharonwe. There must be some use you could find for me."

Indeed I think that there is a way. We shall make this trade. I am convinced that these Elves would prefer to watch my merlocks feed than accede to my request. So come.

"Where do I go?" Raefindan asked.

"No, Raefindan!" Ravion said. "We need you!"

"Friend, I do not know how, but somehow it seems that this will be for the best, for all of us. Please, let me go."

Raefindan didn't know where his words had come from, and he scarcely believed them himself, but there seemed to be something stronger in them than his own voice. It seemed as if the stars, still hidden by the descending sun, had revealed themselves to his mind, and he took courage, he knew not how. Ravion watched him, saw the determination, and peace, in his face. He sighed, his shoulders fell, and he nodded.

"So be it. Go in hope, friend."

How quaint. I am almost touched. Roy Edwards, you will walk along the path you have been following until you are out of sight of your party, then you will follow as I lead you in your mind.

Raefindan dismounted and walked away from the group, taking nothing with him. He tried to keep the blessing of the stars in his mind, but fear grew in him, as did chagrin. Fool, Edwards, do you really think you can pull off some kind of coup out of this?

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 10-25-2004 at 09:04 PM. Reason: plot twisting
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Old 10-21-2004, 09:58 PM   #529
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Ravion

Ravion's stomach turned and his wrathful eyes filled with tears as the horrible image of Gwyllion refused to fade from his mind. This wretched elf, if elf he truly was, knew exactly how to twist the knife so as to cause the most pain. It was his fault that Gwyllion had come along. He should have left Aeron back in Gondor--he was only a boy, not suited for dangerous travels. And Gwyllion, poor little moonstruck Gwyllion, so innocent and still so perceptive...all of this pain, it was his fault. It was because of him that she would never walk again. It was because of him that all of these ills had befallen her...and Mellonin...

One tear spilled down his cheek, cutting a streak in the dirt and grime that matted his beard and covered his face. He closed his eyes fiercely, but Gwyllion's mangled leg dwelled in his mind still. It took all of his willpower, all of his Ranger's training, not to let out a tortured sob. He could not have been more anguished had it been his own leg missing, his own face sliced. He had led these girls only to pain, torture, and it was not impossible to imagine that death was imminent in their futures.

And now Raefindan's resolute back was facing him as he went toward his own fate. What was this? This red-haired man, so new to battle, so untrained and untested, walking proudly to save his companions while Ravion, Ranger that he was, stayed behind, frightened and weeping?

His father would be ashamed.

Ravion clutched the necklace that hung around his throat, feeling his father's name engraved on the back. The touch that had brought him so much comfort now burned him like a poker. What was he to do? If Gwyllion and Mellonin were to be returned, someone would have to care for them. More tears spilled over. But how would he ever be able to look Gwyllion in the eye again? Could he ask forgiveness this time, and at all expect it to be granted him? His companions had been too gracious to him. He was a traitor, a coward, a wretch, no better than Tharonwe...

"Ravion." Erundil's gentle voice broke into Ravion's thoughts. "You blame yourself," the older Ranger said quietly.

"Yes," replied Ravion simply.

"Do not so. We cannot see all possible ends to our actions. You thought to do good, I am sure, and good may yet come out of your actions."

Ravion laughed bitterly. "You can explain that to Gwyllion, if we ever see her again."

"It is not your fault," Erundil insisted.

"I am to blame!"

"You could not have known."

"I should have guessed! I should have assumed! I should not have brought children on a mission such as this. I should not..." Ravion broke off, and, kneeling on the ground and doubled over, allowed the sobs that had been threatening him wrack his body.

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Old 10-22-2004, 01:12 PM   #530
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Let the mortals deal with-- and for-- the mortals. Taitheneb, I need you here now.

Yes, Silmaethor. A ripple seemed to go through the group as Taitheneb's thoughts narrowed to Erebemlin alone. He rode to his side.

Erebemlin held Amroth tightly. Do not leave us. Do not leave us. Wait.

...Silmaethor? Taitheneb waited; watching Erebemlin, but no orders came. Hesitantly, he reached for Amroth's brow, and closed his eyes.

Twilight surrounded him; the air was warm but stale. He walked in the greyness, searching. He found, not Amroth, but Mellondu, struggling down a dark path. As he approached, the boy faltered, and fell to his knees.

My sister. I am weary. All is dark. Where is my sister?

She yet lives. Courage! Taitheneb knelt beside him.

So weary. Why... Why did he do this?

Taitheneb grieved at the boy's sadness. One day you will know.

Nay, Taitheneb, I know now that he would not rest in his search. But... I do not.... understand.

Follow me. I will lead you back. Taitheneb offered the boy his hand.

But I am... weary. Tired. Mellondu's hands found the grey grass, and he lay down and then he looked at his empty hands.

Do not yeild to despair.

Why not? It is something to hold.

Your sister needs you.

Lightlove yet lives?

Yes, thought Taitheneb, silently thanking Raefindan that it was true. She lives, Mellon, she lives. Come. We will return to her as soon as we may.

Take good care of her. The boy began to fade.

"No!" cried Taitheneb aloud. "No, Mellon!"

Dark... Dark... Tired...

Erebemlin joined them, tall and shining. Taitheneb's hopes rose for a moment; but the boy turned from the bright elf saying, No more of this. No more of you and your king.

Hear me, boy, said Erebemlin, and his thoughts rang like steel. Stand. Do not yield. Stand!

It is too late.

Do not yield! Stand! Stand!

Mellondu laughed, a weary grunting rasp.

Erebemlin's face grew pensive, and he came closer, speaking softly now. You have hidden my king. You have free will, and so you have decreed, young mortal. I would that you had not done so.

You do not think it wise, Mellondu replied.

Erebemlin dropped his gaze, and was silent. Despair prowled at the edges of Taitheneb's mind. He could hear Erebemlin's heartbeat, and his own heartbeat, but the boy's was fading.

Do not yield to despair, Taitheneb said to the boy.

I want to, replied the boy.

Erebemlin knelt and took the boy's face in his hands.

If you leave Middle-Earth, other hearts beside the king's will also break. Do not leave us.

I am not a horse to be ridden, replied Mellondu.

No, said Erebemlin. There was a long pause before Erebemlin spoke again. No. What you say is true. But now, little mortal... Mellon--

Were Silmaethor's eyes glistening? The mighty warrior dropped his gaze, and bowed til his forehead softly touched the boy's.

Mellondu, you are our only hope. Do not fail us. Do not fail me.

Taitheneb held his breath, and then softly added, Nor your sister.

Mellondu spoke no word, but put one hand on Erebemlin's forearm. Silmaethor straightened, and for a moment all was still. Then Silmaethor lifted the boy like a child, turned, and quietly carried him out of the shadows; Taitheneb followed.

Their eyes opened. They wondered what had happened around them, but for the moment they hardly cared; somewhere, deep within the boy, their king was still with them. Yet there was someething different, too, about the way Silmaethor held the boy. Taitheneb kept silent, and enjoyed watching Mellondu slowly open his eyes.

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Old 10-24-2004, 09:01 PM   #531
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Sting Ædegard

While the party waited, Ædegard and Jorje came back amongst them.

"You are pale," Erundil said. "Are you well?"

"Well enough." Ædegard attempted to dismount and fell to the ground in a swoon, lying face down. Erundil came to him and turned him over, his eyes opening wide. "Ravion!" he called, turning. "Come look at this!"

Ravion came over, looked, and swallowed hard. "Tooth marks to the wrist. It must be cleaned." Erundil and Ravion busied themselves with healing ministrations for Ædegard's left wrist.

Much later, as the sun was extinguishing below the horizon, Mellonin and Leafa came into sight, frantically carrying Gwyllion between them, her arms hanging limp. Their faces were stained with tears, and they kept looking back in fear. Bellyn came running up behind them around a stand of dead cattails, holding a knife; she wore scratches on her arms, face, and legs. Merlocks were chasing them, the nearest a mere swipe of a claw behind Bellyn's heel.
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Old 10-25-2004, 08:16 PM   #532
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Tolkien Mithrellas and Aeron

Mithrellas glanced back at Nimrodel, who was rocking violently back and forth, her golden hair caught in the wind. A shriek echoed in Gwyllion's dream world...the grass melted away like snow before the morning sun, the song of birds was cut short, the blue sky faded revealing scurrying clouds that fled before bladed wind.

Mithrellas clutched at Gwyllion, trying to keep the shreds of the dream together -- trying to keep Gwyllion. A torrent of pain and fear washed over her and Mithrellas gasped. Elbereth! she cried, climbing to her feet. Flames of fear and pain burned in Gwyllion -- A Elbereth Gilthoniel o mene palan-díriel le nallon sí di-nguruthos A tiro Gwyllion, Fanuilos!

A cold hand drew near, and snuffed spirit's fire. Gwyllion had met her doom.

Gwyllion

Gwyllion awoke screaming, writhing in pain as she saw one of the ugly short men...she couldn't feel her leg..

Panic leaped like a monster, clutching her heart in fear. She struggled, struggled wildly trying to escape. How could she run with one leg? The blood...she gasped and retched.

Then she saw Mellonin...her cheek was torn by a knife's cruel edge. "Mellonin!" she screamed, trying to crawl towards her. There was another, but she did not know who she was. Aeron wasn't there? Why? Hot tears bathed her cheeks..."Mellonin!"

The pain...she struggled to stay awake. Aeron...where was he now? She wished that they could go back home to Gondor...back to father...

Dirty hands clutched at her, forcing her to the ground. One grasped her hair, pulling her head back. A sordid, short, ugly man, his leering face contorted with anger, lunged towards, a knife gleaming in his hand. Gwyllion screamed...this was not how she imagined she would die.

Aeron

Raefindan was gone when Aeron and Ædegard caught up with the elves. They had not found Gwyllion. Aeron even now realized that it had been foolish of him to think that he would find her in a grassy glade crowned with flowers. He even wondered if such grasslands existed -- they had been in this dratted swamp for so long.

Gwyllion would be alright. He smiled...they would have a good laugh about it when she came back, or when they found her nestled among the cattails. The smile faded and he gnawed his lip as the sun began to set. If that elf had lied -- his hand clenched into a fist.

Then he saw them: four girls: one brandishing a knife to keep the merlocks at bay, two others stumbling as they carried his sister. Aeron's heart grew cold as he saw the limp body of his sister, one leg missing. No. She was not dead. The pain had cast her into sleep.

The merlocks crowded behind them, and one of the merlocks lashed out, snagging the dark haired one with a blood stained claw. They would kill her with their leering hungry faces. With a shout, Aeron whipped his small dagger from its sheath, and drove his heels into his horse's flanks, trusting that the animal would find the surest route through the treacherous mire.

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Old 10-25-2004, 08:49 PM   #533
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Liornung had kept a watchful eye on Ædegard since he had returned. True, he mused in response to the thoughts that pulled at his mind. They had not been on good terms at the first, but they had grown in friendship since their first meeting. True again, Ædegard had been their leader, if anyone had been a leader, from the start. Yet despite Ædegard's leadership, the fiddler was older (by a few years), and likely more experienced. He had met those younger than himself by only a few years before, and each time he had assumed the role of an elderly wiseman with good counsel. He had helped many a lad in trouble: shy lads in love to bold lads in debt. He had developed a keen interest in the welfare of all human beings, and a very paternal sense towards any and every young man (or woman, for that matter). When Ædegard had returned with his hand gone and the blood flowing, Liornung had instantly set an attentive eye to him. For one thing, Ædegard was wounded and probably in (at the very least) a little bit of pain. For another thing, it wasn't impossible that he might be wondering what Leafa would think.

Liornung recalled the time he had met a young man who was strong, handsome, fairly well-to-do, and in brief everything a young lassie would want in a man. As a matter of fact, a girl already wanted him, and he wanted her. She was pretty, and had classic Rohirric features with a touch of her own individual charm. They had known each other for years, and the girl wanted nothing more than for the man to hurry up and ask her to marry him. Liornung entered the village the day before the young man intended to propose marriage to her. That day they became fairly good friends, and the man chose Liornung to confide in (though, of course, not in the same way the lassies confide, if one has a sense of the difference). And on that same day the young man had taken a tumble from his horse and broken his foot.

Broken his foot! What a simple, absurd little thing to worry about. And just barely broken, too. The lad would be better in no time at all. He was simply unable to walk for a time. But it set him into fits of agitation. What would his lass think? Marry a man with a broken foot? What did it matter if the foot would heal sooner or later? Maybe it would be crooked for all time. So much for proposing to her the next day! Could he (Liornung) imagine him (the young man) asking the girl to marry him when he was lying in bed with his foot padded and propped up? Well, Liornung could imagine it, and it was absurdly amusing, but he had the good sense not to laugh, and he sat and consoled the fellow. As it happened the girl didn't care very much, though she did laugh, and they were happily betrothed, and married not too long after.

But, there! If a man was worrying that a girl wouldn't marry him over a broken foot, what might Ædegard be thinking, with his hand gone? Sweet, gentle Leafa, made for nothing but love. Liornung knew she wouldn't care in the least. But Ædegard might worry. And Ædegard was worried enough already with her gone, and worried with the pain of his wound. So Liornung left the healing matters to Ravion and Erundil, but he watched Ædegard carefully, and kept his fiddle close at hand, in case his friend might want a song to distract his mind from weary things.

A cry was raised from someone in their group, and heads turned to a sight that made Liornung spring to his feet, and made his heart beat madly. Leafa, that gentle Leafa, was running towards them, alongside the weeping woman, and they carried between them a limp figure. And, oh! there was Bellyn behind them, wielding a knife and fighting off creatures like nothing Liornung had seen before. A shudder went through him, and the colour was completely lost from his cheeks. For a moment he was still, and then he took one step forward, his weapon in his hand.

And somewhere in the depths of his heart he could hear the strains of a fiddle sounding a battle cry.
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Old 10-25-2004, 09:33 PM   #534
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The sun was low in the sky, matching Ravion's spirits. He knelt by Ædegard, cleaning and binding his wounded wrist slowly and methodically. Ædegard would not be another casualty that he could add to his generous pile, not another disaster that he could attribute to his works. Ædegard's wrist was actually one of the nicest healing jobs he had probably ever done.

Out of his peripheral vision he saw Erundil's head snap up, and only a split second later he heard a rustling in the distance. He tied off the bandage on Ædegard's wrist and stood, peering toward the horizon.

"It is Mellonin," Erundil said, shocked. "And Gwyllion!"

Ravion threw his medicinal supplies onto the ground and tore his sword out of his scabbard. "They are being pursued!" he cried. "They cannot hold out!"

"What pursues them?" Erundil asked, squinting and straining to see, his hand on Ravion's arm.

Ravion shook his head. "I cannot tell. But let me loose--I must help them. I have failed them once! I will not so again."

He brandished his sword and, without a battle cry or any sound at all, charged towards the women and their attackers.

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Old 10-26-2004, 03:46 AM   #535
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'You are Bellyn...' the dream-figure said in a thoughtful, melancholy tone. Dream-Bellyn nodded. Her brows furrowed together as she felt someone - or something - gripping her shoulder...but nothing was there behind her. She ignored it for a moment, for the dream-lady had opened her mouth to speak again. 'I am...looking...for someone. I lost my way, a long time ago, I lost my way. If you find who I search for, could you tell him something for me? Tell him I do not forget my quest...'

Bellyn nodded again, and closed her eyes, feeling once more the sensation of a tug at her shoulders. She doubted that she could ever find the person her new acquaintence was looking for. When Bellyn opened her eyes she opened them to new, more terrible surroundings. She had woken from her nightmare...
--

Sitting up, Bellyn could see strange little creatures to her right, and two women at her left. Bellyn stood as quickly as she could, though she felt dizzy and sick to her stomach. The little creatures hoarded around some crumpled pile - Bellyn dared not guess what it was. One of the women was oddly familiar -

"Leafa!" Bellyn called groggily, too frightened to look back towards the creatures she had glimpsed. They both turned, but they went right past her and towards the group of gnawing beings. The one Bellyn did not know kicked away the things, and began dragging a human from the wreckage! Bellyn gaped at the sight, watching the unfamiliar woman kick and scream at the creatures while Argeleafa helped to heave away the fourth woman.

She ran to the women, who were hustling quickly away from her. Not from me...Bellyn thought. Turning, she could see the little people chasing after the group of women. "Leafa! Leafa! Leafa!"

Argeleafa would not turn. Bellyn despaired and continued to run after the women. The one that she did not know turned around quickly, and handed a bloodied knife into Bellyn's hand.

"Take the back," said the woman.

Eyes wide, Bellyn did not need more explanation, nor would she receive any from the one who had given her the weapon. Argeleafa and her new companion continued to pull the seemingly dead lady with them.

Turning, Bellyn saw the tiny, crawling things coming after her. The path seemed narrow enough, so Bellyn hoped she would not have to fight too much. I do not know how to fight, I do not know how to fight, I cannot! I cannot! Bellyn was screaming on the inside, but on the outside she could do naught but wait for the ladies ahead to lead the way and the attackers behind to clear the way.

Swatting at the beings with her knife, Bellyn was clawed at and bitten, but these wounds received no more notice from the victim than a slight gasp before swinging the knife once more. Not long ago I was sitting in a nice old inn with a warm fire nearby...Bellyn thought meekly. Seeing the cold, damp swamp around her and the knife in her hand made her cringe. This is the journey I thought I wanted, the world that I wished that I could see.

Bellyn did not know how long she could keep it up. Her system worked fine enough: she would run as long as she could before she caught up with the women ahead. Then she would slash at the first creatures behind her before running to catch up again.

Dashing through the swamps with a knife in her hands was certainly the last place Bellyn thought her journey would lead her to.

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Old 10-26-2004, 08:00 AM   #536
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Weeds clutched with their sickly fingers at his mount's flank, thorns raked his leg -- behind him he could hear Ravion pound behind him.

In moments he caught up to the women. Gwyllion was slumped between two of them, half her left leg missing (it looked as if it had been chewed off -- Aeron stifled his stomach's uneasy lurch)...her clothes were torn, her cheeks pale, as if all life had been sucked from them, a red blotch stained her blouse -- a red stain

Time slowed, the dagger faltered in his fingers. His breathing was squeezed by a throttling fist of fear and anger. Gwyllion wasn't asleep -- she was...de -- NO...injured. Not dead. Her head lolled backwards....her eyes were still open.

He locked his eyes on hers. And then he knew. They were fixed. Lifeless. Even the reflection of terror was beginning to fade like morning mist. They were just...eyes. Shallow. Dim. Dead.

"NO! You filthy little --" he screamed, a torrent of curses flooding from his mouth upon the elf's head. He tumbled from his horse, trembling with rage. The golden haired lady stumbled and limped feverishly onwards. A merlock, splashing through the swamp drew ever closer to the woman.

Aeron dived as well as he could in the sloshy ground towards the girl, brandishing his dagger in front of the merlock. The merlock's face was twisted in cruel arrogance, he licked his lips like a hungry cur. Aeron dodged the Merlock's graps, and plunged his dagger into it.

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Old 10-26-2004, 01:02 PM   #537
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Argeleafa's feet were weary, and oh! such a fierce pain was in her head! Yet fear prompted her to struggle on, her trembling arms striving to hold the girl above the ground. She did not know the woman who ran with her, but mingled with her tears of fear and pain were tears of gratitude, that she did not have to run alone. Just barely could she hold the girl with a companion helping her; how much more difficult would it be if she were alone? It would be impossible. And also she was grateful for Bellyn, who, at her own cost, more than likely, though Leafa could not see, was keeping the horrible creatures away.

Blood was flowing down her neck, yet she hardly noticed it. She could hear cries, but dimly, through a wild roaring. Her eyes were blurred, and not only from tears. Her feet were barely stumbling on. Fear of the pursuers, and determination to bring the girl and herself to safety, lent wings of an odd sort to her feet. Wings just strong enough to lift her feet above the ground so she did not fall from exhaustion, but hardly strong enough to make her fly. How her side ached from running! She hardly noticed it for the pain in her ear. What had happened to her? Why did her head ache so furiously? Ache? Nay, it was burning, burning with a horrible fire.

Dimly, so very dimly ahead could she see the forms of men. Oh, would that Ædegard was there to help Bellyn fight off the creatures, and then take her and comfort her! And would that Liornung was there with his strong, noble heart! But she could not see. Things were growing dimmer. What if the figures ahead were not men, but more of the creatures, and they were running into a deadly fate?

Her stride became uneven, and her left foot gave a sudden twist. Nearly she fell, but in desparation she steadied herself and ran on. Her gait felt unnatural now; her left foot sunk low when it hit the ground, and sent pains running up her. She did not care.

They came slowly closer to the dim figures awaiting them.

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Old 10-26-2004, 05:20 PM   #538
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Silmaril Raefindan

Raefindan did not have far to go before he came to Tharonwe and his minions, and the captive women. They did not see him. Tharonwe was untying their bonds. One of the merlocks snarled up at Tharonwe in some garbled tongue that Raefindan could barely make out as speech. Tharonwe answered back in similar noises, apparently ordering them away from Gwyllion, for they backed away. The lead merlock snarled angrily and grabbed Tharonwe's knife from his grasp. Tharonwe did not try to take it back. The merlock went to where Gwyllion lay, and stabbed her in the chest. Blood pumped out around the blade.

"No!" Raefindan started to run.

"Stay back, Roy Edwards!" Tharonwe gestured. "This is not your fight anymore."

Raefindan (he had a hard time thinking of himself as Roy Edwards) stopped and watched, feeling more than useless, as Mellonin her face opened, blood flowing in streams down her neck, took charge. Mellonin and a blonde Rohirric girl carried Gwyllion between them, a dark haired young lady wielding the knife and bringing up the rear. The merlocks gave chase and were soon gone.

"Welcome, Roy Edwards," Tharonwe smiled thinly. "Come walk with me. We must away from here before the merlocks turn on us as their next meal."

Raefindan followed Tharonwe down a path that he would not have noticed. He cared little where his feet landed. Other things were far more important at the moment, such as the evil this swamp elf had visited upon his friends, Mellonin and Gwyllion.

"You went back on your word!"

"I did no such thing. I deem that you speak of the merlocks' pursuit of the ladies. The trouble is that I promised them at least one of the maidens for their feasting, while on the other hand I promised all four in trade to you. In order to meet both promises, I needed to let ladies and merlocks fight it out between them, which you witnessed."

"That is too despicable for words, swamp elf."

They had reached ground which was not soggy, though their surroundings were still gray and wet.

"You wrong me! And who are you to speak, you who wished for your love to stay alive just to keep you company, even though to do so meant unending pain for her."

Raefindan stopped in his tracks. "Stay out of my head!" He knew that it was the only way this swamp elf could know any such thing; he had himself forgotten until Tharonwe had reminded him. Angela.

"Ah yes. You remember now. It seems that it was your loss that made it possible for you to dream of Mithrellas, with yourself as Imrazor. But the question that has most intrigued me is how you came to be here, and now, at all. What can you say for yourself?"

Raefindan had no idea. Was he dreaming all of this? How did he have "memories" of a time that would not occur for thousands of years?

"I don't know."

"Indeed. I intend to find out. It is part of why I made the trade." Tharonwe said much else, and Raefindan listened; there might be something useful to be learned for the sake of his friends. Tharonwe planned to use Raefindan's dreams to persuade Mithrellas of Tharonwe's worth as mate for Nimrodel. It made Raefindan sick to think of himself used in such a way, but it was worth having saved the lives of at least three of the women. He just hoped he didn't cause more trouble than good by what he did. In fact, he considered, he was going to have to be very careful indeed, if he did come from the future. Any action of his could change things from the way they were supposed to be. He should not be here at all, as Tharonwe said, but that could not be avoided. Maybe it could be rectified, but how? He had no idea.

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Old 10-26-2004, 08:26 PM   #539
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Mellonin

She was so limp.

Mellonin hoped that Gwyllion had fainted; hoped that she would wake again; hoped that they would survive these slavering, drooling pursuers. The girl beside her bled; her own face hurt, and the girl behind them struggled on, slashing and running, slashing and running.

Mellonin heard fewer of the snarling voices. She risked a glance over her shoulders. One of the swamp-men had fallen from the dark-haired girl's knife, and now half of the pursuers were clustered around him. "Brave girl!" she cried. But that was all the breath she could spare, for the other half were still chasing them. Turning forward, she ran on. The goldenhaired girl beside her was struggling hard but doggedly kept up.

She heard hoofbeats, and flinched. Not the merchant and his henchman! Her head jerked up and she looked; a strange horse was galloping towards her, ridden by a wild young... "Aeron!" Behind the horse came a man on foot, sword drawn. But Aeron rode up, and looked down at their burden, gazing into Gwyllion's eyes.

In vain Mellonin hoped for some response from Gwyllion. Behind her she heard the darkhaired girl fighting desperately, and she wanted to help her, wanted to -- to do something; but all she could see was Aeron, his eyes, his twitching face, his hand as it clenched and unclenched. He screamed, cursing, and leaped from his horse. A merlock came, and died on his knife; Aeron joined the girl, and fought beside her. More merlocks died.

More men were coming; Mellonin looked up.

"Ravion?"

He came on foot, passed Mellonin, and joined Aeron and the darkhaired girl. Blood ran, and in horror and fear she watched, but it was not Ravion's blood that stained the ground. Dark corpses lay on the ground. More merlocks came, and more died; more horses were approaching, and arrows whistled past. In the confusion she knew only that Gwyllion was dead, and that she and the two other women were not; not yet.

Strange voices cried Rohirric names; a dark boy crying "Bella, Bella!" leaped off of a lanky chestnut and hacked into merlock after merlock.

"Nethwador!" cried the goldenhaired girl. "Liornung... oh, they have come!!"

Three remaining Merlocks turned and ran. One by one they fell with arrrows in their backs.

The ground was slippery with blood. Mellonin looked around in a daze. Ravion was wiping the blood from his blade. Where was Raefindan? Aeron had returned to her side, and in a broken voice was talking to Gwyllion. Mellonin looked down at the girl she still held clutched in her arms. Her eyes were wide; her face white; her breast, drenched with blood. Mellonin began to weep, and her knees gave way.

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Old 10-27-2004, 10:28 PM   #540
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Ravion

Ravion barrelled towards the monsters behind the women, muttering Rohirric and Gondorian battle prayers. The hilt of his sword felt hot in his hands, and he gripped it tightly to give him strength.

"Ravion?"

His eyes met Mellonin's, but he only let them linger for only a brief second. He could not allow himself to be distracted. Unfortunately, he already was.

"Aeron! Flank them left." Ravion did away with the merlock directly behind him in short order with a vicious swipe of his sword. The merlock did not even have time to cry out. "Watch their claws!"

"Ravion! What of Gwyllion?" Aeron cried, dodging a blow from a merlock. His youthful face was contorted with worry, and blood tinged his cheek red. Ravion could not tell to whom the blood belonged, but hoped that it was a merlock's.

"She will not be well served to have these monsters let free around her, Aeron! Do away with them, and you will be taking care of her!" Ravion shouted.

The battle seemed a whirlwind of sword thrusts and blood, with Mellonin always just out of his eyesight. He came out of his trance when he received a deep cut to his left arm. His only thought was that it was not his sword-arm, and that he was grateful for that.

Finally, his chest heaving with ragged breaths, he looked around himself and saw that all of the merlocks were dead. His sword dropped to the ground, and he bent over double, catching his breath and attempting not to be sick.

He straightened up after a moment, picked up his sword, and began cleaning it. The dark blood was already beginning to dry, and he took his skin of water and wet the rag he was using. He could feel the gash on his arm bleeding, and the open air stung it. A sudden rush of air startled him out of his second stupor, and he opened his eyes and saw Aeron with Gwyllion--and Mellonin, weeping. He stumbled over to her and fell to his knees.

"Mellonin."

My love.

"Mell--"

Speak to me.

"Mellonin."

I do not know if my heart can stand before your silence.

He put a gentle finger beneath her chin and tilted her head up. Tears streamed down her face, their salt surely burning her own cut. He wanted to put his hand to the wound and take it from her, put it on his own face, stop her pain, whatever the cost. All he could do was what his training had given him, though. He took out a clean rag and squeezed the sap from a few leaves, mixing it with water. He pressed it to her face. She recoiled briefly, then let him be. Her hand met his at her face, and the same lightning passed through him that he had felt that long night ago at the Seventh Star.

"Ravion," Mellonin said quietly.

Yes. Ravion said nothing.

"Gwyllion...tend to her." Ravion looked at the siblings, and started. He had hardly noticed. What was happening to him? A Ranger always cares for the most badly injured first. He could not even tell if Gwyllion was alive.

He turned to Aeron. "Aeron. Gwyllion...is she..." He could not bring himself to finish the question, but left it open.

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Old 10-27-2004, 11:58 PM   #541
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Tolkien

Aeron let his dagger drop and dashed to Mellonin, who stood beside Gwyllion, who was sprawled prone on the floor. He dropped to his knees and cradled her in his arms. His sister...Gwyllion. He rocked back and forth, trying to stop the hot tears that clung to his lashes. "Gwyllion...why...why..." he choked.

She was stabbed...he hoped that the merlock who had slain her had been killed, preferably by his hands. Her fear of blood...what must she had thought when she saw her life blood pouring from her leg...the terror the fear. He hugged her, and rested his chin against her head.

"Gwyllion," he whispered, "do you remember when father left us? And how you loved him so much that you thought he'd come back? When I stole my first ring, and we celebrated with creamy milk and cheese in the finest inn? Gwyllion, why did you have to die? You could have had such a life...full of joy...and song. I was going to give you a harp...so that you could sing songs and tales..."

He heard Ravion behind, asking Gwyllion to do something...didn't he know?

"Aeron. Gwyllion...is she..." his voice trailed off, as if he too feared the dreaded truth.

Aeron bit his lips, and picked his sister up. "What do you think?" he asked...his voice cracked and hollow.

"We'll have to bury her," said Ravion quietly.

Aeron tried to breathe. He tried to nod. The hot tear fell down his cheek.
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Old 10-28-2004, 05:33 AM   #542
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"Are you hurt, lady?"

Erundil stood before the darkhaired lass. She was still brandishing her knife, a little wildeyed. She gazed at him uncertainly.

"Bella," said a voice beside him, and a lanky boy wearing elvish clothes stepped past him. She lowered her knife, and her eyes closed; the boy swept the knife aside, and grasped her shoulders. She opened her eyes again.

"Mellon."

"Bella, " he answered, and then looked up. "Erebemlin! Bella..." There followed a jumble of elvish and eastern speech, and Erundil frowned.

Erebemlin stepped forward, glanced at Bella's ugly but minor wounds, and comforted Nethwador. Her wounds will heal. Others did not fare so well. Take her further and let her rest.

Erebemlin and Liornung were walking towards Argeleafa; Nethwador saw the blood on her pretty face, and began to worry about her too. But he had his orders, and he turned to Bella with a mixture of worry and joy.

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Old 10-28-2004, 01:58 PM   #543
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Liornung went to Argeleafa, and he knelt before her, and softly he pushed the hair away from where her ear used to be. He said nothing to her, but his eyes, gentle and compassionate, looked into hers, and his hand lingered on her cheek. The tears fell down her face, and she was trembling and pale.

"Oh, Liornung," she said, her voice just a murmur. "I am so tired. I wish I could lie down and go to sleep." Her head dropped wearily in his hand, for a few moments, and then she looked up again. "Liornung!" she said, and her voice, though hoarse from loss of breath, was a cry. "Where is my Ædegard? Why is he not with you?"

"Don't fear," he said, his voice thick and trembling with emotion. "I will take you to him." Then he swallowed, and drew a breath, and straightened himself. "But, my little Leafa, you are hurt. Let Erebemlin tend to your wound. I will return shortly."

"Will you leave?" she said, and the tears began spilling over faster.

"For a short time," he said. "I must see if I am needed anywhere." He stood, but she fell forward and caught his hand.

"They do not need you," she said. "What can you do? They need healers! But I, Liornung, need you."

"You need Ædegard," said Liornung, "but maybe you need me, as well. Yet at the present moment you need Erebemlin most of all. I must go and see if my presence is needed elsewhere."

"I need you here, Liornung," she pleaded. "I am so afraid."

He bent down and kissed the hands that were clinging to his own. "Little Leafa, you need not fear. Have courage, and make the sacrifice. I must see if I am needed more. I will return to you within a minute."

Argeleafa sank back down and wept, but she was resigned.

Liornung went to Ravion, who stood by the silently weeping boy and his sister. Softly the fiddler touched the man's shoulder, and said in his ear, "Sir Ravion, I have not great talents in healing, such as you and the Elves, for I am a simple fiddler, yet a lone traveller in lands both tame and wild must learn some skills of healing, to care for himself and others in need. My skills I offer are not much, but if you are in need of any humble and small assistance, I sit by the golden-haired maid."

He turned then, to go back to Leafa, but he paused behind the boy who wept over his sister's body. He lay his calloused hand upon the lad's head, and ran his fingers through the dirty hair, and the tears filled his own eyes. He stood a moment more, and then he returned to Leafa.

Alas, then, for the sorrows of the world.
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Old 10-28-2004, 02:45 PM   #544
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard heard shouts and cries and howls through the fog of his fever. What was happening? He saw swords rising and falling, gore flying. A battle! He struggled to his knees and reached for his sword; it was not there. What had happened to it? He felt something at his left hand. It was Jorje's nose, sniffing and licking daintily at the bandage covering his wrist.

Where is my hand?

Oh, aye, he had lost it. My hand! No! How can I be a wainwright? With the fresh realization, his eyes and ears cleared and the sights and sounds made more sense. Bellyn and Leafa were with them again! Who had saved her? them? He would have to thank him. He struggled to his feet, Jorje at his side. The young boy Aeron was kneeling, holding his sister in his arms; he was crying.

Do not cry, call for a healer.

Or was it too late for a healer? He stumbled to Leafa, who was being cradled in the arms of Liornung. Good man. He held her gently, and she wept. He stopped a pace from her and fell to his knees.

"Leafa! You are safe!"

She raised her tear stained face to him. "Ædegard!" Liornung helped her up and she fell upon Ædegard with fresh weeping. He stroked her hair, felt an ear beneath his hand; but not two ears. He looked at the palm of his hand, and it was covered in blood.

"What has happened to you, Leafa?"

She sobbed. Ædegard looked to Liornung, who tapped his left ear with his left hand. Ædegard raised her hair, saw, and closed his eyes tightly. No. The swamp elf would pay. He felt his eyes well.

"Ædegard! Your hand! Oh, my poor, poor-"

It was a great relief to have her in his arms, have her caressing his forearm so carefully, gently. He was kissing her hair, her head, cradling her. But he knew that his plans were all for nought. He could not keep her, for he could not do the work he had inherited from his father; not with only one hand. He was finished. He would be reduced to begging for his bread. He could not keep her. He would have to tell her, soon. But not yet.
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Old 10-28-2004, 03:51 PM   #545
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Bellyn had never been so happy to see Nethwador's familiar face. He helped Bellyn to her feet, and led her away from the battleground. She felt groggy and dizzy. As she walked Bellyn stumbled like a man returning home from the tavern after one too many drinks. Nethwador sat her down on a dry patch of ground nearby to the mourning companions, and proceeded to plop down next to her.

"Bella!" He piped, wiping blood from the only scratch on her face, just along her cheekbone. Her other wounds had been sustained mostly along her arms, especially the one that had held the offending knife against the attackers. Her heart still beat rapidly; she could feel it thumping against her ribs. Bellyn still despaired. She desperately wished to return to the safety of her dreams. The dream...Bellyn thought quickly, her eyes widening as she looked down at her bloodied hands. Not my blood...she realized. The blood of the girl.

Bellyn shuddered.

She wondered at the fate of their journey. The Gondorian wondered why it had not been her ear, or her face; she wondered why the girl-child had to be the one to die. How can I feel as if I have braved the most frightening thing in the world? How can I feel as if I understand their pain? Bellyn wondered, feeling ever-guilty that she had escaped with minor cuts and bruises.

Bellyn sniffed and watched the wreckage of the fight before turning to face Nethwador.

"Nín celair tirn...hebim band..." Bellyn murmured in reply. The language her parents knew - the language they might have spoken together. It sent shivers down her spine. 'My brilliant watcher...keep me safe'. Did I say that right? Bellyn wondered. Would it matter if I did? Would he understand? Worrying over her broken Elvish words, Bellyn's brows furrowed and she frowned for a moment, looking down at her lap. Then she sighed, and smiled, looking up at Nethwador. "Thank you, Mellon."

She leaned over and wrapped her arms around Nethwador's shoulders tightly. Bellyn wondered if Nethwador was surprised; she could not see his face, for her head was nestled over his shoulder. It is really over. It is all over. Everything. The evil has gone for now.

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Old 10-28-2004, 06:18 PM   #546
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He blinked. Her head was against his shoulder. Her arms, slippery with blood, were wrapped... around... Around me!

His heart leaped and thundered, and he wrapped his arms around her in return. He held her tighter, tighter... she gasped and flinched. Red-faced, he released her; she reached one hand to the other arm. He saw through her slashed and torn sleeve that she was freshly bleeding.

A rising torrent of apology poured from him. She guessed at his meaning, and smiled at him through teeth that were clenched in pain, which deepened Nethwador's embarassment and half panicked him.

Erebemlin had told him to let her rest. What could he do? He knew so little about this; he touched the blood on her arm.

Water! It always started with water. He would wash the blood off. He leaped to his feet, and whistled for Celegoer, who came trotting over. He siezed his water bottle, drained it over her arms, looked about for more clean water, saw none, leaped onto Celegoer and galloped off. Bella sat with teeth clenched and arms dripping. He returned, water bottle full, and sloshed it over her arms again, drenching her sleeves; but there was blood on them still. He mounted again and galloped off.

She tried not to laugh, but could not help herself, and as he galloped back to her again, she choked between laughter and tears of pain. He sat by her again, and she took his hand. "Just stay with me, Mellon."

He washed her arms again, carefully, making the water last this time. By the time the bottle was empty, her arms were mostly clean. She took his other hand then, and holding both his hands, leaned her head against his shoulder again.

He wanted to wrap his arms around her again, but instead, he gazed down at her face, so near his. But her sleeves were drenched and the rest of her damp or wet; soon she began to shiver.

This is all wrong. I've only made things worse. And then he remembered that Taitheneb was waiting with Amroth. Taitheneb would know what to do.

He stood, pulling her to her feet. He drew her over to Celegoer, and motioned that she should mount. She struggled onto the horse, and he mounted behind her. Soon they were dismounting near Taitheneb, and Nethwador's broken Eastron-Elvish poured out of him. Taitheneb nodded.

We will care for Lady Bella. Find wood and build a fire. I will watch the lady.

Bella watched as Nethwador mounted and rode off again, and then she turned to Amroth. "What ails Lord Amroth?"

Taitheneb watched Amroth sleep for several moments, and then he said only, "Lady, if you would sing for him, it would ease my heart."

When Nethwador returned with firewood and kindling, Bella sat beside Amroth, wrapped in everything the elf had at hand, and singing. Nethwador hastily kindled the fire, and heaped on the wood; then he rode off to find more.

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Old 10-28-2004, 09:00 PM   #547
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Ravion

Aeron lifted Gwyllion's body and pressed it to him. He bit his lip. "What do you think?"

Ravion bowed his head. He had heard that voice before. He had used that voice before. When his best friend, Dalros, had died in battle, he had used that voice. It was empty and broken, reflecting a soul that was suddenly missing a piece. Ravion knew that it would be long before Gwyllion's place in Aeron's heart healed.

"We'll have to bury her," Ravion said softly. Aeron just knelt there and trembled with grief. Ravion did not say another word, did not touch him...it would only bring worse pain. He stood up and backed a few steps away. Aeron needed his room.

A man--Liornung? yes, that was it--came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Sir Ravion, I have not great talents in healing, such as you and the Elves, for I am a simple fiddler, yet a lone traveller in lands both tame and wild must learn some skills of healing, to care for himself and others in need. My skills I offer are not much, but if you are in need of any humble and small assistance, I sit by the golden-haired maid."

Ravion nodded his thanks, and smiled weakly. If only his skill were as great as Liornung seemed to give him credit for. Perhaps he could have helped Gwyllion...helped Ædegard more...helped the girl with the missing ear...helped Mellonin. Oh, perhaps he could have helped Mellonin more. His eyes filled with tears again. Mellonin.

He walked over to her. "Mellonin...how do you fare? Your cut is deep. Let me see to it. Are you in much pain?"
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Old 10-28-2004, 09:24 PM   #548
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Mellonin looked up at Ravion through her tears, and saw his eyes glistening. Was she in pain? Could he tend to her? "Yes," she said.

She hardly moved as he washed her face again, and her eyes watched him. She did not flinch from his touch.

She did as he asked her, finally holding a cloth against her cheek. He sat back on his heels and considered her. "You are weary, Mellonin, and soon you will be cold if you are not already. How I wish we could get out of this swamp."

She waited.

He stood. "Come. Can you walk?"

The look in her eyes was his answer.

"Wait, then. I will bring Gond. Wait."

She said nothing, although she wearily wondered how he expected her to disobey. She felt sleepy. Fool, haven't you dreamed enough? She fought to stay awake. Near her, Aeron still held little Gwyllion. The poor thing. How she would have screamed if it had been anyone else's blood.

Before long Ravion returned with Gond, and he and one of the Rohirrim helped Mellonin onto the horse. Ravion led Gond along the same trail that Nethwador had ridden away on, and soon they came in sight of a fire. As they arrived, however, Mellonin had swayed in the saddle, and as they stopped, she slowly folded forward over Gond's neck. Ravion took her near shoulder, gathered the sleeping woman into his arms, carried her to Nethwador's fire and lay her down beside it. Nearby, Amroth slept, and Bella sang over him while Nethwador tended her wounds under Taitheneb's direction.

Ravion put two blankets over Mellonin, on the side away from the fire, and tried to make her as comfortable as he could. He stood beside her, hesitating, but then looked up at Taitheneb. "I may be needed back yonder, " he said. "Will you call me, if she wakes?"

Taitheneb nodded. I will. She is safe for now.

Ravion mounted Gond, and went back towards the battleground.

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Old 10-29-2004, 06:22 PM   #549
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Erebemlin

Erebemlin stood upon the battlefield and watched the young human couple embrace. He let them be momentarily, but he knew the merlocks would shortly be finished with their meal on the young thief’s first kill and soon would be on their heels once more. “Ædegard, I must finish tending the young woman.”

Ædegard nodded and pulled Leafa from his chest, meeting her tear-filled eyes before letting her go to the elf.

“This will be brief.” The elf told her as he took her slender hand and lowered her to the ground. Pulling back her long, blood-matted hair, Erebemlin exposed the nasty wound. The flesh was mangled and torn around the opening where her delicate ear once sat. The young woman searched his face, and he met her gaze without the revulsion she seemed to expect. The elf had seen horrors beyond this and he would not let Argeleafa feel as though she was disgusting.

Erebemlin wet a cloth with a mixture he had made with the crushed leaves he pulled from the pouch that hung from his waist. As he touched the cloth to her wound, Leafa pulled back with a small cry. The elf turned quickly to Ædegard, who immediately knelt beside his betrothed and let her lean against his body. The young woman closed her eyes tightly, and Erebemlin entered her thoughts and soothed her mind. Be at peace, my lady. The elf, then, quickly cleaned the wound and bandaged it, so that the woman’s blood loss would be minimal.

“Thank you, sir.” Argeleafa smiled shyly as Ædegard helped her to her feet.

“You are welcome, lady.” Erebemlin nodded his head. “Now we must get off this battlefield and get further down the road.” The elf nodded in the direction from which merlocks came and continued. “They are temporarily distracted, and they will not be as hungry, but I would not have us waiting on them to return. There is enough meat here for them that we need not give them anything fresher to choose.” With a whistle, Erebemlin called to the four horses a few yards away. “Ædegard, take Argeleafa with you and make toward the fire.”

As the elf helped the couple onto their mount, one of the rangers, Ravion, rode from the direction where the others rested. “Master elf, may I be of any assistance?”

Erebemlin nodded. “Yes, we will need the girl’s body taken back to the others. Everyone must be gathered and taken to the fire, then we must move on before the light has move too far from the sky.”
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Old 10-30-2004, 08:29 AM   #550
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Taitheneb

The sweet, soft sound of Bellyn’s voice fluttered in the ears of those who had congregated around the fire. Such terrible events had found the travelers, and the song she sang touched even Taitheneb who had heard the silvery voices of the bards of Lorien.

The young blacksmith murmured in his sleep and began to turn over. Taitheneb reached out and touched his forehead, whispering softly over him. Pausing, the elf searched for Amroth, calling his name, and even though Taitheneb could still feel his presence, the king remained silent and did not respond. Lowering his head, disappointment burned in the elf’s stomach, and he looked toward the battlefield, hoping to see the Silmaethor returning.
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Old 10-30-2004, 09:02 AM   #551
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Dark-Eye Tharonwe

They made good time while Amroth's party attempted to heal and regroup, still wandering around the field of battle. Tharonwe did not try to pry into any of their minds. It was unnecessary. The merlocks who had died would feed those who still lived, for days, even weeks - for the merlocks did not care how decayed their food was. It turned Tharonwe's stomach to think of it, and he had endured the disgusting practices of his former servants because they were that which was ready to hand.

Now he had one servant, a human, clearly out of his element, though he tried admirably. Surely the swamp was out of his element, but Tharonwe was thinking of something more all-encompassing. There were images and thoughts lurking in Raefindan's, that is Roy's memory, that were frankly bewildering. There were bright colored carts on wheels that needed no horse, as if they had minds of their own to move here and there; except that humans controlled them from the inside, and they moved as fast as the clouds. Such a device would be quite handy. More so would be the shiny eagle-sized birds these humans made for themselves, that somehow needed no bird to tow them through the sky. And they flew as fast as the Eagles.

There must be something in this Roy's vast storehouse of memory that Tharowne could turn to his purpose, without having to build a huge fortress in which to house the iron furnaces and human-made trolls with arms and grabbers that obeyed the least command of these humans.

And there was something shouting out its absence in Roy's memory.

"Raefindan, there are no Elves where and when you come from."

"They have all gone into the West, I guess."

"No, that cannot be, for as humans of your time and place have learned the west is just one more place in Arda, and the seas have been bent and the Elves sale away from the planes of Arda altogether."

"That way is no longer known among us."

"But not all Elves go that way, and some never shall. I never shall. I care not for it. Where, then, are the Elves?"

"They are no more."

Tharonwe stopped. Could it be true? Could it be that he had no future?

"That cannot be. There must be something you do not know." Tharonwe marched even faster, forcing Roy to stumble to keep up, his feet getting muddy and cold: the water in the swamp was close to turning to ice.
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Old 10-30-2004, 12:41 PM   #552
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"He does not look the same," Bellyn murmured, after she had finished singing her soft melody. Taitheneb turned from where he faced the battleground, and for just a moment his brows furrowed, confused, and he looked down to where Amroth slept. Bellyn frowned. "Well, he looks the same, but he seems different. There is something different now. Is that strange?"

Taitheneb did not say anything, and Bellyn sighed as she looked down at Amroth. She gently pushed a strand of hair from Amroth's face.

"When I was asleep, I had a dream," Bellyn began, explaining to Taitheneb. "There was a fair-haired lady, and I spoke with her for a while. She said that she was looking for someone. She said that she had lost her way, but that she did not forget who she was looking for. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. It always has to be hard to figure out."

What was the song she sang? Bellyn wondered. She wanted to remember it, repeat it, sing the lullaby again.

"Agony,
Can you cleanse this misery?
For never again will I breathe
The air of home...

From this sandy edge,
The rolling sea breaks my revenge.
With each whisper,
A thousand ways I hear wrong.

I'm coming home..."


As Bellyn's voice trailed off, the gentle breeze whistled softly over the swamps and the hills and the companions that wandered the spot of land.

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Old 10-30-2004, 09:18 PM   #553
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Tolkien

Aeron held Gwyllion in his arms: her legs dangled stiffly and her head lolled back in a ghastly way. He dropped to his knees a few feet from the fire, and turned his back on it. He didn't want to talk to anybody. Why had she died...why she of all the others?

He wiped his hand across his eyes impatiently. If...if he hadn't gone of on his own...if...he hadn't been a stupid boy, she just might have survived. But..what if she had been doomed to die? What then? Whose fault was it then?

He layed her gently down, and took a rock and began to scrape at the earth. It was cold...frozen like ice. She had to be buried. They couldn't leave her outside. Alone. For the Carrion. The rock dug into his palms as it scrabbled vainly at the dirt. Blood began to seep from his skin.
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Old 10-31-2004, 08:13 PM   #554
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The Elves

Taitheneb studied Bellyn’s face for several moments. A lost woman…could it be that the young woman dreamed of Nimrodel? The elf knelt beside her, looking deep into her eyes. “My lady, I would have you tell Erebemlin of your dream.”

Bellyn nodded and lowered her eyes from his intense gaze.

Hoof beats drew their attention as Erebemlin and the men from the battlefield rode into the circle of the makeshift camp. Taitheneb rose and met his friend and leader. “We need to move on quickly,” Erebemlin spoke softly.

“My lord, the horses are very weary. They will be unable to carry us far.”

The elder nodded, lowering his head in thought. “We shall not go far, but we must go nonetheless. The creatures have enough to eat, but we must be out of eyesight.” Erebemlin paused as he looked at the boy, Aeron, and the corpse he coddled, and then turned his eyes once more to Taitheneb. We must find a place to bury the girl…out of the swamp. In the meantime, the body must be covered. Take a blanket to him, if you will. He may wish to do it himself, but you will be better tuned to him…I think.

Taitheneb nodded and, after pulling a blanket from his roll, he went to Aeron and offered to cover the body of his sister.

Erebemlin, in the meantime, gave the rangers the orders of getting everyone up, and Nethwador soon returned with more firewood. Good, young brother, but do not place them on this fire, we will use it tonight, but we must go. Put the fire out and tend to your lady, making sure you are ready to move as quickly as possibly.
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Old 11-03-2004, 03:16 PM   #555
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Nethwador

Nethwador watched, waiting for one of the Rohirrim to protest that tho horses (and then folk) were too weary to move. But he saw Bella's eyes turn back to the battlefield, and saw the weary fear in them. He reached his hands to her, motioning her to mount behind him on Celegoer.

The Rohirrim exchanged weary glances, but Ædegard stood and called his bay. The group straggled to their feet, murmuring apologies to their horses.

"We may at least walk, those of us who are able?" asked Liornung.

Erebemlin nodded. "The injured will ride."

Argeleafa, Bella, and degard were helped up onto horses. Erebemlin prepared to lift the sleeping Amroth, glancing back at Ravion. "You will carry his sister?"

Ravion nodded; Erundil met his glance and nodded too.

Erundil helped Ravion lift Mellonin onto Gond and then mount behind. Erebemlin lifted Amroth onto his horse, balanced him, and leaped up behind him, catching him as he swayed.

Aeron glared. "And Gwyllion? What of her?"

Taitheneb walked to his side. "I will help you. Come."

Erebemlin rode to the head of the column, and the company filed behind; they stopped, waiting for Aeron and Taitheneb to take care of Gwyllion.
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Old 11-03-2004, 06:48 PM   #556
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Silmaril Raefindan

"We will stop here," Tharonwe said.

Five thousand, six hundred and seventy three. Raefindan stopped and looked around him. He had been paying no attention to his surroundings for a long time, for thousands of paces. His vision had been focused on the footsteps of his captor; he placed his feet in precisely the same place, step after step. At first it had been a matter of survival, but had turned into a kind of game. He would start his count over every time he failed to place his foot precisely in the footprint of his captor. At first he had had trouble getting past twenty. Then fifty paces trumped him over and over. Just once, he missed one hundred paces. After that, the count had continued uninterrupted. He had cast himself into a kind of enchantment that gave the merest nod to the weariness in that dragged at every cell in his body. The spell was broken. He was a human being again.

They were in a stand of trees, near a stream. Surrounding them were plains as far as the eye could see, shadowed under the night sky.

"Here." Tharonwe handed him a swamp leaf, folded into a packet. Raefindan took the packet and opened it. Waybread. He ate it quickly. It warmed his middle, and its virtue spread throughout his body, taking the weariness away. Maybe Tharonwe was not a good Elf, but an Elf he was.

"Thank you."

"I need you alive. That is all. Sleep. I will watch."

Tharonwe would not need sleep; at least not the kind Raefindan needed. He lay down, curled tightly into himself, and fell asleep.

Angela sat at the top of the dune, looking out to sea. He climbed the dune eagerly, the sand giving way beneath his feet. He slipped down the slope, farther from her instead of closer. He redoubled his efforts. The dune grew. She sat farther from him than ever. The sand slipped from under his feet. He slogged against the sand, but felt himself going backwards instead of forward. Finally he stopped. He called her name. She turned. It was not her. Her hair was dark as night. There was another with her, one with blonde hair. Angela? Her hair was too long, falling to the ground where she leaned heavily, swaying as with grief. The dune changed to a grassy sward surrounded by tall shapely evergreens. He stood at the edge. The dark haired woman saw him. "Imrazor?" "No. My name is Raefin-" No. "My name is Roy." "No, you are Imrazor. You have found me at last! Come to me!" He walked toward her, but the ground spread between them like a carpet, separating them more and more. The dark haired woman reached toward him. "Imrazor! Why do you flee?" "I'm not fleeing. I can't reach you." He looked down and saw that he was walking backwards. He stopped. No, he hadn't stopped. "I can't stop!" "Imrazor! Do not leave me!" "I'm not Imrazor, I'm Roy Edwards." "Why do you grieve me with the alien name, Imrazor?" "I have a message for you, Mithrellas." So it was Mithrellas. He wondered how he knew that. "Is it for Nimrodel?" "Yes." "It is from one who is with me. He seeks Nimrodel." "What is his name, Imrazor?"

Raefindan woke up, turned over, found that his legs were uncovered up to the knee, and covered himself. He looked for the Elf. Tharonwe stood at the edge of the stand of trees, looking northwards. Raefindan dozed.
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Old 11-03-2004, 08:47 PM   #557
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Nethwador

Taitheneb helped Aeron lift Gwyllion onto a horse's back, and then held her there while Aeron mounted.

Nethwador watched them, thinking that Aeron looked both angry and sad; then the company began the weary walk southeastward. Nethwador tried several times to look over his shoulder at Bella, until she lay her head on his shoulder. Then he sat stock-still.

They walked for two hours. They were still in the swamp when they stopped, but they found a slight rise with some dead trees nearby. The hill was almost too small for the group but they huddled tightly around it, and built the fire in the middle. Laying Mellonin and Mellondu near the fire, they made beds for Argeleafa and Bella. They turned the horses loose to graze. Then they composed Gwyllion's body, taking time to shroud it well; Aeron looked on as Ravion and Erundil finished tying the shroud. Then they huddled together around the fire. Taitheneb and Erebemlin stood watch, one to the southeast, one to the northwest, while the men-folk fell quickly into a deep slumber.
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Old 11-05-2004, 10:59 PM   #558
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Dark-Eye Tharonwe

Tharonwe probed Raefindan's dream.

He was standing before a fortress. There were no windows, and no slots for archers toward the roof. There was a door directly in front of him. He walked up to it and passed inside.

It was not a fortress. The noise was deafening and he put his hands over his ears. There were many people standing by a dais that was as long as the chamber, which stretched the length of the edifice. Everything was flat and dead and noisy, and along the dais, strange things were moving, a little bit done to them by each successive person.


Tharonwe searched Raefindan's mind and could not find the names for the things linnked to what he saw; except for one phrase: automobile manufacturing. Such a strange speech. Not a bit of the phrase had a thing to do with Raefindan's own tongue, which meant that it was to his tongue as was Sindarin to the speech of the Numenoreans.

At any rate, it was not what Tharonwe was looking for. He probed the mind of the dreamer to see what else lay there, something he could use for his purpose.

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Old 11-07-2004, 09:00 PM   #559
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Shield Ædegard

The morning came cold and damp. The fire burned low. Ædegard sat up. Argeleafa and Bellyn lay huddled tightly against each other for warmth, still sleeping. He wished it could be him next to her, but it would not be seemly, not even in these dire straits.

His hand hurt. How could it? It was not there.

Taitheneb sat by the fire, adding a log. He looked up and gave Ædegard good morning. Argeleafa gave a start and sat up. Bellyn stirred but remained asleep. Ædegard went over to her.

"Good morning," he whispered. "How do you fare?"

She shook her head. "What did you say?" Her left hand went up to her left ear and she winced. He was speaking on her left side. His throat tightened and his eyes became wet. He blinked them dry and crawled to her other side.

"How do you fare?"

"My head hurts."

"I am sorry." He raised his left hand to hold her right, but his stump merely glanced off her forearm. It sent pain shooting up his arm. He winced and doubled over in pain, hugging his left arm to his abdomen. She lay her hand between his shoulder blades, as if she could rub away the pain from there. It was soothing, and little by little the pain lessened to a constant throb. He reached his right hand over and she put her right in his. He lifted it to his lips and kissed the smooth, pale skin between the blue veins.

"I am sorry. Sorry for not thinking of you when we rode off to do battle, leaving you behind to be captured. I am sorry that you have lost your ear. I am sorry that I have been such a fool as to lose my hand for no better reason than a cocksurety that I knew better how to save you than any others."

"Oh, Ædegard." Her smooth voice sought to comfort him, but he shook his head.

Someone else stirred. Nethador. Ædegard looked over to him. The Easterling boy sat up. Ædegard pursed his lips, and with a sudden resolve released Leafa's hand. He went over to Nethador, who tensed. Ædegard fell to his knees no more than a yard from him. Nethador bridled as if expecting to be punched. Ædegard sighed, saddened that such an action was the first thing Nethador expected from him.

"Nethador, I am sorry that I wronged you. I have been a fool. I have seen evil, and you are not evil. Forgive me." Ædegard dropped his head before the boy and tears flowed down his face.

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Old 11-07-2004, 11:26 PM   #560
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Shield

Nethwador stood watching Ædegard for several moments, and then he took two steps back. His eyes flicked to Bella, who was still asleep. Then he looked at Argeleafa.

She was smiling, just a little.

He tipped his head, and she nodded.

He began to approach Ædegard, and then sidestepped; but Ædegard did not move. Nethwador was ready to shy away like a horse, but Ædegard remained still. Bella stirred, sat up, looked around, stood and came quickly to Nethwador's side.

"Forgive." She placed her right hand on Ædegard's right shoulder, and looked up at Nethwador. Ædegard placed his good hand over hers, and looked at Nethwador.

Still suspicious, he glanced several times from Ædegard to Bella, but she murmured to him as if soothing a horse, and he calmed bit by bit. Slowly Nethwador's right hand reached to cover both of theirs.
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