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|02-03-2005, 01:33 PM||#321|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
With Barrold Ferny encouraging her to keep up the pace with the occasional shove from behind, Benia continued walking eastward through the wee hours of the morning toward dawn. Unbeknownst to her captor, however, and concealed within the folds of her cloak, her hands worked steadily at loosening the rope that bound her wrists in front of her. The rope, being of lesser quality, had stretched upon being soaked by the rainwater and now slid freely around her slender wrists. The knots had already begun to give way under her persistent fingertips. It would be only a matter of minutes before she could work her hands free, she thought, as the first hint of daylight touched the eastern sky. Maybe she could find a way to slip away from Ferny as they forded the river, whose powerful waters she could see already, sparkling in the misty distance.
Focusing her attention on reaching the distant river, Benia was surprised when Barrold Ferny suddenly grabbed her arm and dragged her off of the path into the shelter of a small grove of trees. "Time to rest a bit, sweet’eart," was all he offered by way of explanation, so she followed him willingly to a small and grassy clearing at the heart of the grove. Her legs and feet ached from the forced march over the mountains. She had hardly eaten or slept since being seized by Naiore in the forest outside of Rivendell and longed for both food and rest, yet she did not trust Ferny. Benia remained standing, her cloak held closely around her shoulders by hands that were now barely bound. She watched as Ferny took off first his pack and then his sword belt, laying them down at the edge of the grove.
Then, as he turned toward her with an oily smile, Benia realized that sleep was not at all what Ferny had had in mind. She fell back a pace as he moved swiftly across the clearing toward her. With one sharp motion, Ferny ripped the cloak from her shoulders and pushed Benia’s back roughly against the trunk of a nearby tree. One of his hands closed around her throat while the other caught her around her waist.
"Now," said Ferny, pinning her against the tree trunk with his full weight. "Let’s see ’ow friendly you are, lovey-dovey..."
Nearly overcome with his stench of body odor and dried blood, Benia tried to twist away from him, clamping her lips shut against the foul kiss that he planted squarely on her mouth. Chuckling at her attempts to fight him, Ferny tightened his grip around her throat, effectively cutting off her air. Benia squeezed her eyes shut and let her instincts take over. Without thinking, she drove her knee upward as hard as she could.
"Ungh!" said Ferny, doubling over in pain as he fell backward from the blow. As he involuntarily released his grip on her throat, Benia seized the few seconds that opportunity had offered and twisted away from her captor. She tore her wrists from what was left of her bindings, gathered her skirts into her arms, and fled. Ferny threw out a hand as she passed in the hope of catching her braid or perhaps a handful of skirt, but missed. A stream of invective followed her as Benia bolted out of the trees and ran like a gazelle back toward the west and the Misty Mountains, her hope being that if anyone from Rivendell had picked up her trail, they would not be too far behind and might be able to help her. Within seconds, she heard the heavy pounding of Barrold Ferny’s feet as he raced to catch up with her.
Still gasping for breath from her near strangulation back in the grove, Benia ran as fast and hard as she could but the days of forced marching with very little food or sleep had taken its toll. She stumbled, and it was all Ferny needed to close the gap between them. Benia struck the ground hard as Ferny caught her in a flying tackle. Before she knew what was happening, he had flipped her over on to her back and planted his full weight upon her chest, his knees pinning her arms to the ground. His left hand closed again around her throat as his right struck her a forceful blow.
Benia grayed out, but even through her foggy consciousness, she could hear him speaking to her.
"Listen to me, you evil wench," spat Ferny. "I am yer lord and master. Naiore gave you to me. I decide what you do, 'ow you act, and, in the end, whether you live or die. If I decide yer gonna be friendly, then yer gonna be friendly. You get that? Now..." he leaned forward, his hot breath brushing her cheeks. "Who’s yer master?"
Swimming vaguely back toward full consciousness, Benia tried to shake her head. "No..." she murmured. Her amber eyes looked desperately past Ferny toward the distant mountains in the west. Was there no one to help her? "Help me..." she gasped, as her gaze struck on what looked to be three small shadows racing toward them across the open grassland.
"No. Wrong," answered Ferny. As Ferny sat back and raised his hand to strike her again, the distant shadows began to take shape in her eyes... a man and two... children? Hobbits? A flash of hope lit in Benia’s heart. Oh, please let them be real!
"Who’s yer master?" asked Ferny, his hand beginning its descent toward her face.
Before his blow could fall, Benia summoned all of her strength and threw herself sideways under Ferny’s weight in the attempt to dislodge him. His fist missed its mark and, although the larger, stronger man ultimately over-powered her again, for a few brief seconds, she succeeded in freeing her throat from his grip. In those few seconds, Benia found her voice.
"HELP ME!" she screamed toward the mysterious figures approaching from the west. help me...
|02-09-2005, 05:03 PM||#322|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Although Dulrain was relieved that Benia was no longer in the hands of the Revennor of Mordor he knew that she was not in any less danger. Barrold was a villain know for both his violent behaviour and his womanising and Toby was quick to point out both usually came hand in hand much to the horror of Miss Banks. “If he so much as lay’s a hand on her….so help me I will…”Gilly fumed angrily. The same thoughts passed though the rangers mind as he pushed the hobbits on through the predawn mist the trail was growing fresher with each minute.
“They can’t be to far ahead now!” Toby whispered as Dulrain again stooped to examine the muddy prints.
“No not far we should be able to see them soon!” He answered looking up at the hobbit.
“Look there!” Gilly whispered pointing straight ahead, her eyes straining to make out the shape of the shadows ahead.
“There coming this way!” Toby gasped, drawing forth the jewel hilted sword that Miss banks had given him back in Rivendell. But Dulrain had remained still his eyes also straining to make the figures running…. Suddenly without warning he leaped up and raced forward as he realised that the first figure was defiantly being chased by the latter.
“Benia!” he heard Gilly gasp as the figure trying to escape their pursuer stumbled and was brought crashing hard onto the ground. Dulrain’s anger grew as the domineering figure that he now could see was Barrold Ferny held Benia pinned to the ground. Both Toby and Gilly flinched as the brute struck Benia a right handed blow across her face but Dulrain did not it only fuelled him more and he now sprinted towards Benia his sword in his hands.
“I’m coming!” he whispered through grated teeth as Barrold again overpowered her pinning her to the ground, but even as he rose his hand to strike her another blow Dulrain dived at him knocking him hard to the ground.
As the stunned villain struggled to rise Dulrain chanced a glance at Benia to check that she was alright, “Look out!” she hoarsely whispered her eyes wide with fear, Dulrain turned just in time to see Barrold arms raised ready to strike him with a thick branch he must have found in the long grass. Quickly he side stepped avoiding the blow and as the branch hit the ground shattering in half he moved to kick Barrold under the ribs. However seeing him move Barrold guessed his intent and swung the remainder of the branch upwards and round catching the ranger hard across the ribs. Dulrain grunted and stumbled back a few paces as the pain shot across his side, catching his breath he heard the shouts of Mrs Banks.
“Stay away from her you brute… I’m warning you!” she yelled, unsteadily waving Benia’s heavy sword at the approaching villain. “Get outta ma way!” Barrold snarled easily side stepping the hobbits unbalanced stroke, striking her hard across the face with the back of his hand as she struggled again to raise the heavy weapon knocking her to the ground. But before Dulrain could get to them Barrold had dragged Benia up by her hair and now stood behind her using her as a shield, his face pressed closely to her left cheek.
“Did ye miss me sweet ‘art” he whispered licking the side of her cheek as he watched the ranger advance.
Dúlrain face was red with anger as he rush toward the disgusting brute, but he stopped short as he caught the flash of metal under Benia’s chin.
“That’s it boyo‘, don’t yer be thinking o’ coming any closer. The lady’s mine see, so you’ll just be puttin’ down yer weapons if you don’t wanna see ’er hurt.” Barrold grinned menacingly, pulling Benia tighter to him. “You too Missy!” he hissed at Gilly tightening the blade to Benia’s throat, so that a small trickle of dark red blood ran down the blade.
“No Don’t !” Gilly pleaded throwing the cumbersome weapon to the ground, “Come on now boy’o!” Barrold warned turning back to the ranger, Dulrain hesitated for a moment as he stared towards Benia. Then as tears streamed down her olive cheeks he slowly set down his sword. “And the rest Barrold barked!” Dulrain had no choice but to do as he said so he slowly unfastened his belt and let it drop to the ground.
“Now where it the little rat!” Barrold spat looking all about him. In all the commotion Dulrain had completely forgot about Toby , he glanced at Gilly but she only shrugged indicating that she did not know where the hobbit had gone to.
“Come on now where is he!” Barrold bark impatiently, “I know ’e was with you!” It was then that Dulrain noticed the grass moving not far from where Barrold stood. “I don’t know, He probably ran off somewhere,” he quickly answer at Barrold was about to turn in the direction of the shifting grass. “Yes, the stinking coward that he is!” Gilly quickly added also seeing the unnatural sway in the long grass and realising what Dúlrain was doing.
“Heh never trust a thief Ranger they only think o’ themselves!” Barrold laughed mockingly, but as he laughed Dulrain widened his eyes then looked down Indicating to Benia to be ready, she blinked her amber eyes once to indicate that she understood. “Your sword!” Gilly whispered out of the side of her mouth. Dulrian looked down and shook his head he could never get to it in time. “Not that one, in your pack!” she whispered. It was then that he remembered seeing it in his pack, Gilly must have lifted it in the glade, he had meant to loss it again in the cave but had not had the time and was now glad that he had not for it was now going to come in handy.
“Hey! What yer up too!” Barrold snapped as Dulrain slowly raised his right hand over his head. “We’re going to catch you eventually Ferny!” Dulrain said calmly “So you might as well give up and let her go!” Gilly added “And we will settle this little matter here and now, you and me man to man!”
“Not Bloody likely!” Barrold spat taking a step back, “I’ll do it, I’ll kill ’er if I have too!” Barrold warned again. Too late he heard something behind him but before he could turn round Toby had sunk the jewelled companion sword into the back of the villains left thigh.
With a scream of pain Barrold loosened his grip on Benia who instantly pulled away from him into Dulrain’s strong arms, he gently squeezed her and kissed her forehead before passing her into the care of her hobbit friend while he went to the aid of a brave Mr Longholes.
Enraged that his prize had gotten away Barrold turned on Toby “Why you snivelling ungrateful little rat!” he grunted pulling the blade from his leg and advancing on the unarmed halfling, his left leg dragging a little as blood poured from the wound. “I gave yer friendship when no-one else would and this is ‘ow yer repay me!”
“Pfft Friendship is that what you call it!” Toby scoffed stepping back a few paces, “ I was useful to you that’s all, you have no idea what true friendship is and to be honest neither did I until recently” and as he spoke his gaze drifted passed Barrold to the hobbit woman and her friend to make sure they were alright. This momentary lapse was all that Barrold needed, with a fisted right hand he punched Toby across the jaw. Warm blood filled his mouth as he fell to the ground and several of his teeth had been knocked loose.
“Bwhahahaha yer right yer were useful to me !” Ferny laughed over him as he tried to scramble away on his hands and knees, determined to draw the villain away from the two women. “And now I ‘ave no use fer a treacherous back stabbing little worm! ” he spat raising the jewelled blade as Toby looked back. He tried to roll out of the path of the oncoming blade, but yelled out as the blade sunk deep into his left shoulder pinning him helplessly to the ground. “Toby!” He heard a woman’s voice scream as the world around him turned suddenly hazy , blinking hard he could still make out the dark outline of Ferny looming over him, but even as the pain overcame him and he slipped into unconsciousness another shadow Broad sided the villain sending him stumbling sideways.
Last edited by piosenniel; 03-07-2005 at 04:13 PM.
|02-26-2005, 09:22 AM||#323|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Fear gripped Gilly as she saw the fury with which Barrold drove the point of the companion sword down among the grass. “Toby!” she screamed, flying from Benia’s side without any clear idea of what help she might expect to offer. And seeing the festering contempt that distorted Ferny’s face she stopped short. She had no weapon against this man, this wounded animal, not even her pocketknife to wield. It would be foolish. Looking quickly around, searching the ground for the sword she had cast aside, she snatched it hurriedly from where it lay in the wet grass, stumbling as the weight of it dragged behind her.
Toby’s initial cry had waxed into haunting silence, and Gilly squinted hard in the pale morning light, hopeful of seeing any movement at all among the grass. She thought that just maybe she saw his foot move, and scrabbled to her feet, still determined to drive Barrold away from his deadly retaliation. Hearing a muffled thud followed by a groan, Gilly looked up to find that Dúlrain had taken advantage of Barrold’s momentary inattention, charging the brute that continued to hurl abuse as he kicked the small crumpled form at his feet. The ranger drove his shoulder into Ferny’s left side, succeeding in pushing him further away from where the wounded hobbit lay, and engaged him once more to slowly draw him further off.
Dropping the sword, Gilly ran back toward where Benia stood anxiously watching the struggling men. Her friend took a few steps toward them; golden eyes wide with fear and pain as Ferny continued to lunge at Dúlrain in rapid succession. Grabbing Benia’s hand, Gilly tried to pull her away. “Come quick, Miss Benia, I need your help. We’ve got to move Toby, before he has another shot at him. We’ve got to hide him.” The hobbit did not say it, but she had a mind to hide Benia as well. She did not want that monster ever to lay eyes on her friend again let alone use her as a weapon against Dúlrain. But Benia resisted the hobbit’s coaxing, as if she hasn’t heard.
Setting her teeth so that her lips were transformed into a hard thin line, the hobbit pulled with all her might until Benia looked at her exasperated. “Two minutes!” Gilly snapped. “Give me two minutes, and quick before Dúlrain tires and really does need help! Where has all your good sense gone, now that you need it?” A furrow appeared in the southern woman’s brow as she looked from the hobbit to Dúlrain. “Come, be quick!” Gilly urged, pulling the woman along. Heading for Benia’s sword, Gilly stopped to reach down and unwinding the grass that clung to it, she pressed the hilt into Benia’s tattooed hand and closed the ornately decorated fingers around it. “We might need this,” she said, before continuing to lead her to Toby.
The fallen hobbit lay awkward and still in the grass, his shoulder soaked bright red. Gilly’s relief was tremendous as she saw the heavy rise and fall of his chest, and letting Benia’s hand drop she ran to his side. He was still alive! But he was still bleeding and that was worrisome. Tearing her petticoat, Gilly quickly pressed a wad of the material against the wound and tore another length to wrap it tight. “Help me move him,” she said looking up to Benia. “Maybe behind the bushes,” she suggested.
Benia handed her father’s sword back to the hobbit, and lifted Toby in her arms. “Not behind the bushes, Gilly,” the southern woman said. “It is the first place he would look. But I remember that the land dips down over this way. Toby would be well hidden there.”
“Good enough,” Gilly said. “But hurry before the lout notices where we are taking him.”
A stone throw away from where they stood the land rippled deeply, the fold nearly invisible among the wide expanse of grass. As Benia gently lowered Toby down in the valley it formed, they both saw that he was bleeding from his mouth as well. “Oh Miss Benia, he is hurt somewhere else. Inside, I think!” Gilly said.
Benia knelt down beside the hobbit looking closely at his face. Opening his mouth, she gave Gilly a small smile. “It is only his teeth,” she said. But the blood had already begun to seep through his bandaged shoulder, and she sighed, resting a gentle hand on his shoulder above the bandage. “I wish that we had the elves’ help for this wound.”
Gilly brightened a little. “Ah but we do! Lady Léspheria had given me these,” Gilly said pulling out two phials from her pocket and holding them in the palm of her hand for Benia to see. “She said that one helps heal injury and one causes immediate sleep, but I can’t recall which is which.” The hobbit paused, bringing the phials close to her eyes to study them. “I think this bluish one is the one for sleep. I’m nearly sure it is. We don’t need that now, do we?”
An indulgent smile flickered across Benia’s face. And she looked back toward were the sound of the men fighting could still be heard. “It’s been a while now. Perhaps Dúlrain is tired,” Gilly said. “Don’t worry, Miss Benia, I will use this other medicine on Toby. But if you decide to return to the fighting, take this also as well as your sword.“ The hobbit handed Benia the blue phial. “To use on Ferny if you have half a chance!” she said with a wink. But in the depths of her heart she feared that her friend needed to have some defense incase things where to go terribly wrong, and was glad when Benia took the slender phial to examine it.
|03-07-2005, 04:12 PM||#324|
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
As Barrold struggled to regained his footing with a muttering of curses Dulrain levelled his sword and advanced on the villain, the sharp edge of the Arthedain blade glinting in the soft morning light revealing the dried dark blood that marred it’s sides. But Dúlrain was passed his guilt and self pity, the man before him disgusted him and was one of the reasons he and Kaldir had followed their father’s footsteps and become rangers. Men Like Barrold Ferny prayed on the weak and the venerable and would do anything for a price they had no respect for anyone or anything! He blocked as Barrold came at him fast with thrust after thrust with the jewelled weapon trying to find an opening that the ranger would not give him. Barrold’s approach was fast and aggressive, almost desperate at times but with the heavier weapon Dulrain knew that he would tire first. However his years of experience had taught him many things and these skills would be his ally in this battle. Remembering a distant memory and hearing the voice of a skilled and youthful Kaldir in his mind, counselling and urging him to remember that patience and caution were also a rangers best weapons, he finally held to his old friend and brothers advice and continued to defend letting his opponent believe that he was in control while studying the foot work and swordsmanship of his enemy.
“Is she worth dying for boy ‘o ?” Barrold taunted trying to rile him.
“A popular little fing ain’t she, already one man ‘as died for ‘er… he is dead isn’t ‘e!” Barrold continued to taunt with a toothy grin, that positively repulsed Dúlrain.
“Saved!” He corrected flatly not allowing Barrold’s words to distract him.
“Ah I see!” Barrold grinned smugly. “ So ‘er hero is also the bounty hunters killer ‘ow ironic!” the villain’s laugher so mocking and condescending causing a flash of anger to crossed the rangers face. But seeing the satisfied light in Barrold’s eyes Dúlrain bit back, swallowing hard to oppress the anger that tempted him to forget reason and lunge at the villain, squeezing the very life from him with his bare hands, if he had been alone he just might have taken the risk, but he was not and remembering this he let Barrold’s word pass and concentrated instead on finding some weakness in the villains attack a weakness that he could use to his own advantage.
As he continued to defend Barrold inevitably grew bolder not only in his attack but in his taunts also “she tastes sooo good, you know we could share her!” he grinned oily as the two blades locked at the hilt and he pressed forwards attempting to drive the ranger back. But Dúlrain let Barrold think that his foul breath had had more effect than his actual words. “You know you really should do something about that smell!” He coughed as he pushed Barrold back and pulled away to catch his breath. “Then perhaps you wouldn’t need to force yourself upon women.” he sneered with a look of sheer disgust. With an enraged growl Barrold charged at him again, but this time Dulrain did not defend he had seen how the villainous blaggaurd held his weapon a little to high so as Barrold charged the ranger quickly pivoted left, dropping to one knee then swinging the sharp edged blade towards the charging villains undefended gut. There was little Barrold could do as his own momentum helped carried him onto the rangers blade. Barrold’s dark eyes stared at him with complete shock and disbelief as the ranger pulled the deeply embedded blade from his enemies gut letting him crumple lifeless to the cold ground, his blood and guts spilling out staining the swaying grasses of the open plain.
Lowering his weapon and using it as support Dúlrain breathed heavily his head resting on the pommel of the sword. The finally blow had come not without it’s price the force and strength needed had taken it’s toll on the rangers wounded side and a sharp pain now ripped across his side, the healers had warned him that although the wound was healed the surrounding tissue and muscles would still be weak and now he knew this to be true.
Hearing the soft shuffle of booted feet he slowly looked up. Benia stood only feet from him concern etched on her beautiful southern brow, despite his pain Dúlrain managed a reassuring smile then with an effort he slowly rose to his feet. He felt the tenderness of her touch as she rushed to help him and he stared lovingly at her as she searched him for some injury.
“I am well, but what about you?” he whispered gently cupping her face with his free hand and frowning as his touch on the bluish bruising to her cheek caused her to wince.
Last edited by piosenniel; 06-28-2005 at 11:31 AM.
|03-07-2005, 05:21 PM||#325|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
Benia gave the phial a long look, then handed it back to Gilly. "To sleep, perchance to dream," she said softly. "But, I wonder, would it be a sleep of death?" She paused to close Gilly's fingers around Léspheria's phial, remembering the thoughts she had once harbored regarding the use of poison on Ferny. No, she would not resort to poison, not even on herself should things come to such a point.
Gilly took the phial, all the while trying to read the expression in Benia’s eyes. "It is but a sleeping potion," she assured Benia. "In fact, I’m sure of it. Miss Léspheria is not the sort to be trafficking in poisons. You know that."
Distracted by the clash of swords just out of their sight, Benia nodded, looking in the direction from whence the sounds echoed. "Yes, you are right," she admitted. "Of course, you are right. But it was given to you. Please keep it to use as you see fit. Perhaps, poor Toby may have need of it."
Seeing Benia’s attention so divided, Gilly nodded and tucked the phial away into her pocket. "Yes, he may at that."
"In the meantime," Benia added, looking down at the grievously wounded hobbit, her gaze lingering over the blood-soaked bandage on his shoulder. "He is deathly pale. Perhaps we should give him a draught from the other phial. Here, I will lift him up." Benia crouched and gently lifted Toby’s head and shoulders that Gilly might administer the elven healing potion.
"How much should I give him?" asked Gilly with uncertainty.
"I don’t know," answered Benia, with a slight shake of her dark head. "Perhaps only a few drops at first? While I have very little experience with elven potions, I understand that they can be quite strong."
"Perhaps a teaspoonful to start," said Gilly, bending over the barely conscious hobbit. She uncorked the dainty phial and poured as close to a teaspoonful of medicine as she could figure between Toby’s waxen lips. Almost instantly, the color began to seep back into his face. His breathing grew less labored. Benia sighed with relief and lowered him back down upon the grass, glancing again in the direction of Dúlrain and the fighting. Gilly held out Jack Nightshade’s sword, its hilt toward Benia.
"Go," the hobbit lady told Benia rather firmly. "I will take care of Toby now."
"Thank you," said Benia quietly. She took the sword firmly in her right hand. With her left, she squeezed Gilly’s shoulder. "I shall be right back. We shall be right back, Dúlrain and I." She gave Gilly a final, resolute smile and ran out of the sheltering hollow. Immediately, she caught sight of the two men locked in battle.
"No!" she cried as Ferny raised his weapon and charged a flagging Dúlrain. She quickened her pace, believing that she must get there before Ferny’s blow fell, but in her heart she knew the distance was too much. She could never get there in time to help the ranger. As she watched, Dúlrain suddenly made a graceful pivot to his left and threw out his sword. Ferny’s own momentum carried him on to the blade. Benia flinched as Naiore’s odious henchman crumpled over in death, his blood painting the pale green of the meadow grass a deep crimson. She arrived at Dúlrain’s side just as the ranger sank to his knees in exhaustion, resting his forehead on the pommel of his sword. She hesitated, making a soft noise in her throat.
Hearing the whisper of her skirts amongst the now silent grasses, Dúlrain slowly looked up. Seeing Benia, he smiled despite his pain and pushed himself to his feet. She dropped her father’s sword and went to him, helping him to rise. At the same time, she tried to search him for any sign of injury or new wounds. Finding nothing, she threw her arms around his waist and pressed her cheek against his chest. The intensity of her relief left her temporarily mute. He was safe.
"I am well, but what about you?" he whispered, pulling back from her slightly to cup her face with his free hand. He frowned as his touch on the darkening bruise to her cheek caused her to wince.
"You are safe," murmured Benia, the only words she could find. "Oh, thank eru, you are safe."
Dúlrain smiled gently. "Yes, I am more or less in one piece, but I must know - did this villain harm you? I see he has struck you, but has he hurt you in any other way?"
Benia shook her head. "No, no, I am fine." She leaned her cheek once again into his chest, comforted by the strong, steady rhythm of his heartbeat. "He hit me a few times here and there, but otherwise has done me no damage."
Dropping his sword, Dúlrain closed his arms around Benia, holding her closely, but Benia could tell that his gray eyes looked beyond her, searching the distant trees.
"Thank eru," he said at last. "You, too, are safe. And Mrs. Banks? Toby?"
Benia sighed and released him from her embrace. She bent down and picked up the swords they had both dropped, handing him his. "Gilly is fine," she answered gravely. "But Toby is in a bad way. Gilly is doing what she can for him."
Benia waited as Dúlrain sheathed his sword and collected the jeweled companion sword from where Ferny lay. Then, she took his hand and began to lead him back in the direction of Gilly’s and Toby’s hiding place, still somewhat at a loss for words. So many thoughts and emotions swirled through her mind that she found herself unable to express anything verbally. Instead, she curled her fingers tightly through Dúlrain’s and rejoiced quietly at the return pressure of his touch. Leading him back toward where Gilly and Toby waited, Benia found there was one thing that she did need to talk about. Stopping abruptly, she turned toward Dúlrain and looked searchingly into his eyes.
"Is it true what Ferny said?" she asked. "Is Kaldir really dead?"
Dúlrain’s expression darkened visibly. He nodded. "Yes, it is true. He lies back in Imladris."
"How did he go?"
A pained look overtook the ranger’s handsome features, but no answer came.
Benia reached out and touched his face. She needed no further explanation, although a single question remained. "Is he at peace?"
Dúlrain nodded. "He is. Or he will be when his death has been avenged." A cold fire flashed through his eyes that reminded Benia too much of the hatred that had always risen in Kaldir’s blue eyes at the mention of Naiore Dannan. She shuddered, feeling the blood drain from her face.
"No, Dúlrain," she said desperately. "He must not be avenged. Please let the bloodshed stop here. That elf is poison. She nearly destroyed Kaldir with hatred. Please do not let her do the same to you. Leave her to Amandur and the others. I couldn’t bear it if she destroyed you as well."
Dúlrain’s jaw set stubbornly and, for a moment, he said nothing. When he finally spoke, there was an edge to his voice that Benia had never heard before. "I agree, Naiore Dannan is poison," he said. "But she was the ruin of my brother. His death must not go unanswered. I owe that much to him. If it is the last thing I do, I shall avenge his death."
Despairing, Benia sank to her knees. Putting her sword aside, she grasped both of Dúlrain’s hands in hers. "I beg you," she pleaded. "I beg you, don’t do this. I can see that evil creature has begun to poison your heart already with hatred. Please don’t let the poison take root."
Saying nothing, Dúlrain gazed down at her with a troubled expression. Benia could see the muscles tense along his jaw line.
"Please let it go," continued Benia. She placed her forehead against the back of his hand. "Kaldir gave his life to protect me. If you were to die as well, I could never forgive myself. How could I go on, knowing that my hands were colored not just with the markings of my heritage, but with the blood of not one, but two good men? I should die as well." She paused. "I believe that he would rather you walked away."
"How can you say that?" asked Dúlrain, his voice harsh with emotion. "How can you presume to know what was in Kaldir’s heart?"
Benia raised her face again, looking once more into Dúlrain’s eyes. "Did he ask you to avenge him?"
Slowly, the ranger shook his head. "No. His final thoughts were for you. He said that his death was a release."
"Then, I believe he was finished with vengeance. Did you know that he stood within range of striking Naiore down himself, but instead dropped his sword? If he had been wiling to sacrifice my life, he would have had his revenge." Benia released Dúlrain’s hands and dropped her eyes. The memory of those moments back in the enemy camp above Rivendell tore at her painfully. Sitting back on her heels, she hugged her elbows. "It is a debt I can never repay," she added softly. "But I hope to honor him by embracing life in his name. Not death. Please tell me that you can do the same. Please let the bloodshed stop here."
Emotionally drained, Benia waited quietly for Dúlrain’s response.
Last edited by Ealasaide; 03-16-2005 at 02:50 PM.
|04-04-2005, 06:50 PM||#326|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Gilly sat back gazing at Toby, wondering if she should give him another draught from Léspheria’s phial. The poor soul did look a good deal better than he had just a short while ago, but how Gilly wished that his eyes would open again, and he would speak. It was such a brave thing that he had done to free Benia from that horrid man’s grip. Quite frankly, she had not expected him to take the risk. And though she was glad of his courage, she found herself quite anxious that he should be none the worse for it.
Thinking now that it was quite possible that a teaspoon might not have been a large enough dose, but still reluctant to give more lest it be too much, she racked her brain for anything else she could do. Perhaps a dab of the medicine on the wound itself would help speed the healing. Surely there wouldn’t be any harm in it. Moving closer Gilly gingerly unwound the bandages that she had applied just a few moments before. The bleeding had slowed considerably, but still the gash glistened with fresh blood. She nervously fumbled with the phial unstopping it, and after pouring a liberal amount of the elixir on the bandage; she set down the medicine and replaced the cloth, pressing it firmly over the wound.
The effect was immediate. Toby’s face quickly contracted into a grimace, as his other arm swung around catching Gilly rather tightly. “Eh there now!” he said, struggling to open his eyes. “Are you trying to finish me off then?”
“Oh, goodness, not in the least!” she answered. “But this hurt to your shoulder is a nasty one. I was just trying to fix it up.”
“Ah, I remember it only too well. I thought that it was the end of old Longholes! But what has happened?” he said craning his neck to look around. “Where are Dúlrain and Miss Nightshade? Why can’t I see them?” He sounded worried as he tried to sit up.
Gilly, gently aided him, a bit troubled herself. Realizing that the reverberating ring of weapons no longer echoed over the plain, it was too quiet for her to feel settled. “The both of them were up over that bluff a moment ago,” she whispered, frowning as she looked to the top of the hollow. “But I do not know exactly how it is going for them.”
“Then Ferny…” Toby began.
“Dúlrain had him quite occupied when Miss Benia and I brought you down here. But now that I see that you are all right, I really ought to get back. They may need my help.”
“I’ll go with you,” Toby said, holding his limp arm to his chest with the other.
“No, Mister Longholes, I appreciate it, but you should stay here. If that Ferny fellow is up there, it be best he not see your face peaking over the hill,” she cautioned. “I’ll just sneak a look then, and tell you what I find.” Getting to her feet she climbed slowly to the rim as Toby watched. There, standing on her toes, she peered cautiously over the tall grass. As the warm sun broke through the retreating clouds, she was overjoyed to see Dúlrain speaking to Miss Benia, the wind from off the mountains pulling at the couple before finding its way down the gentle slope toward the hobbit. They seemed deep in conversation but Gilly could not hear much of what was said, try though she might. “Ah there’s a pleasant sight, if I do say so myself,” she finally concluded with a sigh.
Hurrying back down to where Toby sat sneezing painfully in the bottom of the hollow, “All’s very well!” she announced with a smile. “Ferny’s not to be seen, or Naiore, or any other stranger for that matter! Let’s get that arm bound and give the shoulder a rest, so that you can see for yourself, if you’d like.” Toby nodded, sniffing.
After she had secured Toby’s arm tightly to his chest, relieving the pressure on his shoulder, she helped him to stand. He swayed a bit, and Gilly began to wonder if it was the medicine or rather sheer will that helped the hobbit stand up after such an ordeal. “Perhaps this isn't the right time to try. You’re a bit giddy yet,” she said gently.
“No, no! I’m alright, and would rather not sit any longer hidden in this dank shadow.” But Gilly seeing him still unsteady, took his free arm and wrapped it around her neck, propping him up.
“Lean on me,” she said. And together they started up the hill. “We will be there in a twinkling, and you can rest again in the sunshine if Dúlrain and Miss Benia will let us dry out a bit,” but in her heart she wondered what they were to do, now that Toby was injured and no longer able to keep pace with the ranger.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 06-10-2005 at 10:07 AM.
|04-06-2005, 07:41 AM||#327|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
Nerindel's Post - Dúlrain
Benia’s gentle words awakened the truth that lay buried beneath the jaded cloud of hatred and vengeance which seethingly encroached Dúlrain’s heart and mind, darkening the depths and reasoning of his brother sacrifice. Not only had Kaldir given himself to save Benia he had succeeded in defying the elf witch her hold in the end. Dulrain’s eyes closed as he remembered the hesitation of his brother, the hesitation that had allowed Kaldir to die a free man. Never could his brother have lived with the guilt of Rauthain’s blood on his hands so he had chosen death, freely and willingly accepting that only in death would he truly be free. The sudden reality and clarity of his brother’s choice hit him instantly dissipating the dark cloud that threatened to bury him.
“I shall honour and protect all that you held dear in this life.” his own words came back to him then. Looking upon the face of the gentle woman before him, he dropped to one knee and gently caressed her delicate cheek with his hand, she looked up her eyes glistened like crystals, gently he wiped away an escaping tear.
“You are right; I do Kaldir no honour in pursuing this tormentor of souls, but know this Benia he died finally free of her grasp. In this knowledge I can now honour him, up holding the values we once held dear and promising to live my life in honour of his sacrifice.” he smiled reassuringly and Benia fell into his arms. “You do not know how glad it makes my heart to hear you say those words.” She whispered through gladdened tears.
Pulling her back slightly Dúlrain looked deep into her amber eyes if he was to fore fill this promise there was one thing he first must do he must tell this angel this vision sent from Eru how he really felt about her!
“Before your beauty words fail me, my breath grows short and my heart feels weak, but I would live to follow and protect you, if this honour you permit me! You are the light in my darkest night and my shade from the brightest day, though you must think me crazy do not dismiss me, for to me you are my one and only. You fill my life completely and finally we can be together! I can be for you all that you want or need as I always should have and always will be… I love you Benia Nightshade, I always have.” And with that he kissed her deeply and held her in his loving embrace.
Last edited by piosenniel; 05-11-2005 at 10:36 AM.
|04-06-2005, 07:42 AM||#328|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
Ealasaide's Post - Benia
Closing her eyes, Benia let herself melt into the warmth of Dúlrain’s embrace, wishing deep in her heart that she could remain suspended forever in that instant of total and near flawless joy. He loved her. For that one fleeting instant, nothing else mattered. All of the pain and fear and heartache of the previous several weeks vanished like rain clouds after a storm, leaving the world a place of fresh and sparkling beauty, a place where a future was possible. She returned his embrace and his kiss with all of the intense love and longing she had kept hidden for so long. Finally, she drew back, touching his face with her fingertips.
“Crazy?” she echoed, a gentle smile floating at the corners of her lips. “Perhaps, but you have no idea how much I longed to hear those very words. I have loved you since the moment our eyes first met - do you remember? When you lifted my veil back on that dusty side street in Bree. I knew then that you were the one for me. I could think of nothing but how or if we might meet again.”
“I, too, was haunted by the image of your face.” He bent forward and kissed her forehead. “You have no idea how startled I was to find such a lovely creature hidden beneath all of that drapery. Of course, Kaldir was passing you off as his wife at the time. I believed him and, as such, was forced to deny my feelings for you completely, believing that you would remain forever beyond the reach of my heart or even of my hope.”
“Kaldir,” Benia whispered, thinking again of the scarred face and scarred soul of her one-time abductor. “Did you know that he asked me to become his wife?”
“Yes, Gilly told me.”
“He said that since coming to know me, he had begun to wish to be a better man again. All I did was lead him to his death.”
“No.” Dúlrain shook his head. Lifting Benia along with him, he rose to his feet. “It was that evil elf who led him to his death. She used you. You must not blame yourself.” He looked over in the direction of Ferny, Naiore’s deceased henchman, a bitterness passing fleetly over his features. “I was as much to blame as you were in that, anyway. I should have spoken for you the moment I awoke and found you still at my bedside, but I will rectify that now.” With a look of firm resolution, he turned to face Benia again and took her hands in his. “Since I know of no one to ask for your hand,” he said, looking tenderly into her shining amber eyes. “Your father being dead and your family far distant and scattered, I shall ask it of you directly. May I have your hand in marriage?”
“Yes!” Benia answered instantly, without even a second’s hesitation. “Oh, yes, a thousand times, yes.”
They kissed again, but were soon interrupted by the soft sound of coughing off to one side. They parted to discover that Gilly had joined them and stood waiting a polite distance away, coughing theatrically into her pocket handkerchief. A very wan and pale Toby Longholes leaned on her arm. Seeing that her presence had been noticed, Gilly blushed slightly and crammed the handkerchief back into the pocket of her pinafore. For a brief instant, Benia’s sparkling eyes flew back and forth from one hobbit’s face to the other, as if uncertain which to address first. Finally, she spoke.
“Toby!” she exclaimed in delight. “You’re walking!”
“Yes,” answered the hobbit. “It would seem so. I was just saying to Mrs. Banks that I had thought this was going to be the end of me. Happy to say, it’s not!”
“Happy indeed!” said Dúlrain, smiling as well. “Judging by what Benia had told me, I figured you for the very brink of death‘s door. That was a nasty blow. But, seeing as all’s well,” he added with an affectionate glance at Benia, “ we have some happy news of our own.”
“We’re going to be married,” Benia explained, looking quickly toward Gilly for her approval.
Hilde's Post - Gilly
“Married?” Gilly asked blinking at the two who stood before her. “Married! Why that is the most promising news I’ve heard in - well, in quite a long while, no doubt about it! It is high time you had someone to watch over you Miss Benia. And you’ve no idea how happy I am that you have chosen this fine man here!” After thinking a moment the hobbit added, “No mistaking, you had me worried there, Mr. Dúlrain. I didn’t know what I’d find when I got ‘round to climbing out of that hollow. But here you are arm in arm, and I see you got the upper hand on that rare scoundrel Ferny. Just where is the brute?” she said asked looking rapidly around her. “You don’t suppose he’s gone to join Naiore again?” Her eyes grew wide with the thought. “We certainly don’t need those two sneaking around us now do we?”
Squinting around and about Toby also searched for signs of his fellow Breelander, and finding what he sought, an expression of disgust twisted his sharp features. “Not to worry Mrs. Banks, a rather definite end seems to have come to that particular problem. I’ll warrant old Barrold won’t be troubling us anymore,” he said to calmly reassure Gilly as her friend and Dúlrain joined them. Gilly bit her lip to see the grim sight and she felt Toby’s hand slide off her shoulder to cradle his arm as he bowed in gratitude. “I am greatly indebted to you Dúlrain, both for your aid as well as your thoroughness. You’ve made more than these ladies glad with Barrold Ferny’s passing, there are many in Bree who would thank you if they only knew of it.”
“Then they should thank you as well, and I am happy to have been of service, but I admit he left me little choice but to oblige you,” the ranger murmured quietly, studying the line of the hobbit’s neck and shoulder. Noticing the look of concern in the ranger’s eyes, Gilly yielded her position. Dúlrain, reluctantly releasing Benia’s hand, took up Toby’s forearm, supporting it at the joint. With a firm touch he ran his fingers over the hobbit’s injured shoulder. “I see that not all is as well as it would first appear. You’ve a bone that has been wrenched awry. I can try to pull it in line again, but it is not sure to stay, and unfortunately can not be done without pain.”
“Ah, that would be why I feel I’m still on the spit,” the hobbit growled. And looking to the pale blue sky he sighed deeply, “I see a buzzard has already found our little crew, and I wager he is eyeing this sorry hobbit thinking to himself that he and his friends may just have room for dessert after their feast, eh? Go ahead sir, and do what must be done, I’ve a mind to deprive that glutton!”
“Hush, don’t speak of such things!” Gilly piped up following Toby’s gaze. “You are not by any stretch a ‘sorry hobbit’ and even if you were, you are not going to die so long as we are here. It is a small thing, only a bone now.”
“I know Mrs. Banks, but just tell that to him!” Toby scowled, waving his good arm as though he would frighten the bird away. “And though, as you say, it is a small bone it is not so very small to me. My livelihood has been in the skill of my hands as much as my wits, so to speak.”
“But my husband is always looking for reliable help, and he’s a good person too. He’ll not let you starve,” Gilly said.
“Now that your future seems less uncertain, let us get you out of the sun,” Benia suggested. “Rest a little while in the shade so that Dúlrain might work on your shoulder without the distraction of a hungry shadow passing overhead.”
But as Benia and Dúlrain helped Toby to the grove of trees, Gilly grew restless wondering how long it might be before she might see her family again, and she wandered away. And she could not figure how they would continue on trailing Naiore with the injured Breelander and no pony to set him on. Idly picking up a few small stones she threw them at the circling bird, considering the options. Yes, she would be willing now to stay behind with Longholes if it came down to that, and together they could try to find their way back to Rivendell and from there the Shire. But what would Benia do with Dúlrain on this chase? If only she would wish to accompany them as far as the elven refuge. That was Gilly’s hope, but how could she ask her good friend to leave Dúlrain, even for her own safety? Suddenly a chill came over her heart as she wondered if they both would even live to return when. So many had perished since they had set out along the way.
As if summoned, Benia appeared at her side with folded arms, and though the day had grown warm, Gilly noticed her friend shiver as she looked over the trampled and crimsoned grass. “I will be glad to leave this place,” she confided. Gilly nodded, curious what course Benia would take when they did leave, and whether she and Toby would be left alone to camp beside the dead man’s corpse.
“I think that we must do something about this,” Gilly said, for even Kaldir had covered the dead orcs with stones, after they had been attacked in the Lonelands. Should they not do the same? “He will smell far worse now that he is dead.”
“Even the foulest of men deserve some sort of burial,” Benia agreed. “In the land of my youth we would burn this body.”
“And right you should too,” Gilly said earnestly. “Such a vile man would make even the carrion fowl sick!”
“Then we should tell Toby he need not worry,” the southern woman said, a faint smile rising to her lips before vanishing suddenly, as her eyes rested again on Ferny. “Shall we gather the wood? I would be thankful to keep busy as long as we are here.”
Walking together to the copse, Benia and Gilly set about gathering fuel for a fire as Dúlrain unwound Toby’s bandage. Glancing up at Benia, Dúlrain asked with surprise why they gathered wood; for he had not planned that they camp here, but thought to continue, leaving the open plain as soon as possible.
“It is not for us,” Benia said, meeting his gaze, “but we thought to burn the body, so that the dead man might embrace his doom.”
Seeing that the ranger was weighing this, Gilly asked Benia to wait for her. Picking up her skirts, the hobbit hurried again to Toby’s side. “Please let us do this Mr. Dúlrain,” she whispered so that the southern woman would not hear. “I think Miss Benia would feel more settled knowing as Ferny’s really gone for good, she’s been through so much you know. And I’d not complain for a short delay, I should think that Mr. Longholes wouldn’t have objections either, seeing his condition.” Gilly was hoping for Toby’s backing, but the hobbit sat back offering no opinion on the matter, and simply watched ranger’s expression.
After making a few more half-reasoned arguments, Gilly managed to persuade him. “Do as you both see fit, Mrs. Banks,” Dúlrain said. “But once the fire is lit we must leave immediately, for the column of smoke will be seen at a great distance,” Gilly frowned hearing this. Her plan to make time for Toby to rest had not worked as well as she had hoped, and she hadn’t considered that the Ravenor or her orcs might see the smoke from their fire. At the present it all seemed so far removed from her now. Those dangers were in the past, and should not return to spoil their respite. Dúlrain called to Benia, “The wood is wet and won’t catch easily. If you both can wait awhile longer, I will tend the body for you.”
“No we will manage this Dúlrain, you are doing far better work seeing to the living,” the southern woman answered gently, gracefully stepping further in among the young trees.
Gilly, still rattled to learn the ranger meant to leave so quickly, reminded herself that this good man would not ask more of Toby than he thought the hobbit could endure. And reluctantly putting aside her plan to dawdle, she asked Dúlrain if she might use his flint and steel. “No doubt Miss Benia knows a thing or two of lighting a fire, wet or no!” she informed him rather proudly. And encouraged to see the man’s gray eyes sparkle at the confidence she had in her dear friend’s skill, she winked at him, “She’d be the one to make you a nice pot of tea on those rainy days when your bones have grown old and tired! Plenty of practice at that, you know. Just as you yourself have had!” Taking the flint he offered, she patted his hand and smiled before starting off to find Benia.
Stumbling over a grubby pack lying abandoned at the side of the grove, the hobbit hoisted the greasy thing up. “What should be done with this?” she called back.
“It belonged to Ferny,” she heard Benia call behind her, “We can place in the fire once it is going.” Dúlrain nodded in agreement, but Toby spoke up straight away.
“Not so quick! There is sommat in that bag there, that don’t rightly belong to Ferny, nor the fire - though Ferny’d argue the point, if he could. I suppose you could say they’re ‘ill-gotten gains’, but I imagine you might be interested in them all the same.”
Gilly set the bag down, untying the flap and drawing it wide open to rummage through its contents. “I don’t see anything worth mentioning, Mr. Longholes,” she declared. “Not so much as fresh linen or comb! Only the very simple or the strange: a well used whet stone, and a fishing hook and some books with carved covers - I can’t think he used them much – see they have no pages!” she said pulling one out. Blackened and smeared with ashes, she set the burnt binding on the ground, and wiping her hand on her skirt. It was no bigger than a man’s hand.
Toby’s smiled, “Ah, there we have it, Mrs. Banks. Only the books binding they are now, for they have tasted fire once before, when Naiore set ‘em ablaze. But the covers now, they didn’t burn did they? And Ferny was right quick in fishing them out once the Ravenor was done with them. I’ve not much good to say about Barrold Ferny, but he had a sharp eye for profit. Maybe you should let our ranger friend here have a look at them.”
Gilly brought the cover and the pack holding the second one to Dúlrain who looked at them with interest, rubbing the corner of the binding until it shone brightly. “Silver!” Gilly said peering over his shoulder. “You were right, but they can’t be so valuable, they’re not heavy at all.”
“Oh but they are, this is elven work and mithril by the look of them,” Dúlrain said. “I wonder what it was that caused Naiore to burn something so rare. Perhaps those in Imladris would remember what had been set down in these exquisite volumes, for they were no ordinary books.”
“And to think I would have pitched them in the fire, knowing so little of such things! Is they’re anything else that shouldn’t be lost?” Gilly asked, handing the bag to the ranger.
After a quick look, Dúlrain set it down, “No,” he answered. “There is nothing else.”
“Not even a few coins?” Toby asked in amazement.
“Yes, there are coins, but we’re not here for spoils.” Dúlrain said. “The covers are a different matter, and may help those who would stop Naiore should she elude them. We will not be keeping them.”
Gilly saw that Toby looked a bit crest fallen, working to resign himself to the fact that what Ferny had owed him was now to be an irretrievable loss. “Those books certainly didn’t seem to bring about good for their owners, now did they?” she mused aloud. “First stolen I suppose, and then Barrold passed too. Let’s hope they bring Naiore similar bad fortune.”
“Mrs. Banks, you’re making me think I dare not touch them!” Toby said sullenly.
“Not to worry since you don't own them! But I must go help Miss Benia, and you must grit your teeth and let Dúlrain try to fix you up, so he and Miss Benia won’t leave us behind.”
“Leave you behind?” the ranger echoed. “Even if I have to carry you half of the way, I would not depart without my stalwart companions.”
“But you are in such a hurry,” Gilly said. “We will slow you down now more than before.”
“Yes, I am in a hurry, “Dúlrain smiled to himself as he returned his attention to Toby’s shoulder, “But not the same sort. I no longer intend to pursue Naiore now that Benia is free, and will not now willingly lead us within the elf’s reach.”
Overjoyed by this revelation, a weight of worry was lifted from Gilly’s slight shoulders. “Does Miss Benia know this?”
“Indeed she does,” the ranger said as he gently pulled the injured hobbit’s arm. “I believe that she is the only one who could have shown me so well that I need not continue.”
Toby flinched with pain, grimacing as the ranger worked swiftly on his shoulder, easing the bone back in place before the hobbit had second thoughts. But Toby clearly had had enough for the moment, and muttered that he wished that he could convince Dúlrain that he need not continue this pulling. But when the ranger asked if he had changed his mind, Toby only requested a brief interval in which to ‘steel himself’ once more. “The worst is over. I have only to bind your arm to keep the weight from your shoulder,” Dúlrain reassured him, before turning to Gilly, who was hovering around them. “With Master Longholes injuries, I think it would be far better for us to see him back to Imladris, don’t you?” he asked her.
“Oh most assuredly Mr. Dúlrain!” Gilly said smiling at Toby who suddenly brightened, not only because Dúlrain had stopped tugging, but apparently as happy as she, to learn of their new course. “If you will excuse me then…,” she said as Dúlrain, began sorting through Toby’s ragged bandages. “I’ll not hang about here letting Miss Benia do all the work when I have said I’d do otherwise.” As she left she exclaimed, “Rivendell! Perhaps if I could just settle down enough to make myself useful, we could leave this very morning! ”
With that the hobbit bolted to where she saw Benia emerge from the trees holding a long bundle of branches tucked under her arm. Without thinking Gilly threw her arms about the southern woman’s waist causing her to take a half step back, regaining her balance. “Miss Benia, Dúlrain is not going to die and neither are we!” she pronounced with enthusiasm. “Not for a long while yet anyway, I should hope. You didn’t tell me that we were going back to Rivendell!”
Benia looked up, and following her friend’s gaze Gilly saw that Dúlrain and Toby were watching them with amusement. A smile blossomed on Benia’s face as she met their gaze. “I did not know, where Dúlrain would choose to go now,” she said quickly casting her warm eyes on her friend once more. “But I am glad that it will be Imladris.”
“I had better get busy then, and help you instead of simply talking of it!” Gilly said. And true to her word, she labored hard alongside Miss Nightshade so that together they heaped a sizable collection of fallen limbs and brush about Barrold Ferny’s body. Fetching his pack, Gilly quickly placed it at the man’s feet while Benia knelt beside the pyre with flint and steel. The southern woman’s lips moved, giving voice to words from a far distant land, as she patiently struck sparks amidst the wood. It was a wonder to Gilly to hear her friend speak in such a strange language, though it brought with it long forgotten memories of Benia’s mother when she had lapsed into her native speech.
Before long, a small light appeared glowing among the tangled debris, and Benia fanned it carefully before, assured of its strength, she stood up again to watch. “What was it you said just then?” Gilly asked her softly, watching the reflection of the small spreading flames in her friend’s eyes. “It sounded like a poem, though I dare say I don’t see that you would want to recite poetry to that one.”
As Benia explained that it was a simple prayer for the dead, Dúlrain drew up, followed closely by Toby who now walked unaided. The ranger stopped to stand beside Miss Nightshade observing the growing blaze in silence before looping his arm about her. She leaned her head back against his chest, still staring at the flames. “We are ready now to leave,” she told him.
“Yes, let’s put all this behind us and head west again,” Gilly broke in. “I’ve always been more fond of weddings than funerals, anyway! And just maybe, I will live to see you both married if we don’t keep standing beside this beacon here!”
“Come, let us go then,” Dúlrain said. And together the four of them put the Great River to their backs. Toward the line of the trees they went, and the mountains beyond.
Last edited by Ealasaide; 07-03-2005 at 02:04 PM.
|04-06-2005, 07:45 AM||#329|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
As the column of smoke from the pyre of Barrold Ferny dropped farther into the distance behind them, the small party of man, woman, and two hobbits moved leisurely toward the west and the steep trails through the Misty Mountains back toward Rivendell. With Toby still not in peak form and the rest of them tired to their bones despite their lightened spirits, they traveled only a short distance each day, camping in the late afternoon and getting underway again well after sunrise the following day. Evenings around the campfire were spent merrily in storytelling and song. On more than one occasion, Benia wished for the little brass finger cymbals that remained in her pack back in the Elven refuge of Rivendell, letting her voice rise unaccompanied as she sang songs from the Southern deserts and her childhood for the first time since that unfortunate evening in the Forsaken Inn. Nonetheless, despite her joy, Benia watched her companions closely with a mixture of affection and concern as they traveled. Toby seemed to be mending well, though slowly, and Gilly’s mood seemed to improve with each step as every mile drew her that much closer to a reunion with her beloved husband and sons.
One evening, Benia found Dúlrain standing on the edge of their camp, gazing into the southern distance where his captain and the others no doubt still pursued the Ravener to whatever end, his dark brow clouded with worry and deep thought. At a touch from her hand, he smiled and rejoined the rest of them at the fire, but she could tell that his thoughts still strayed to the chase. He had agreed to relinquish the idea of revenge, but she knew that the knowledge Naiore Dannan was still at large troubled him deeply. His sense of duty was strong and, while other obligations -- and perhaps his heart -- kept him with her at the moment, she knew that he would feel the inescapable pull of duty so long as Naiore remained free to wreak her havoc upon the peoples of Middle Earth. He was still not fully recovered from the wounds he had received in the Lone Lands and the weeks since then had been demanding on both his body and his soul, but Benia was determined not to release him from her sight until he had fully regained his strength. When that time came, she knew she must let him go to pursue his duty in the service of his king, but she also knew that she would follow him as far as she could and wait for his return to her arms with the unshakable faith of her love.
Seeing her looking at him, Dúlrain reached out and touched her shoulder. She smiled. A long road lay between them and Rivendell, and the future that would take him away again. She would enjoy the moment, she decided. After all, there was no point in frittering away a happy present in worry about the future. Gilly, on the other hand, was already looking to the future, prating away happily to an interested Toby about Bywater and the Shire. She wondered if Toby would return to the Shire with Gilly and cash in on his status with the hobbit ladies as the One Who Got Away, possibly even settle down with one of them, or if he would return to Bree and his old ways. It would be interesting to find out. She was certain that Gilly would keep her informed to the best of her knowledge as to what the good Mr. Longholes was up to. Quite a friendship seemed to have taken root there. As for herself? She was happy. The future could descend upon them all, however and with whatever tidings it chose to bring along, once they reached Rivendell, but for the moment? With the exception of her finger cymbals, Benia had all that she required.
Last edited by Ealasaide; 05-04-2006 at 08:52 AM.
|04-06-2005, 10:08 AM||#330|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Amandur, Léspheria & Vanwe ----- Nerindel
The gentle chirping of crickets and the low crackle of the slowly dieing camp fire were all that Avanill could hear as he pulled his cloak tighter to ward off the cold bite of the night air. It was again his turn at watch, but as he peered out into the darkness he thought he saw movement, a brief shadow in the distance just to the left of their small camp. He kept completely still and peered deeper into the obscured darkness, but he could see nothing and soon dismissed it as a fox or some other creature of the wild. They were all edgy and the frustration of not sighting their goal was beginning to have its toll on them all. Shaking his head he rubbed his eyes and resumed his watch, “keep focused!” he muttered to himself remembering the cunning and guile of the elf that they hunted .
Both Amandur and Menecin appeared to be sound asleep but off course neither fully was, each accustom in his own way of the importance of keeping one eye open and one ear to the ground when out in the open hunting such a deadly foe. As he rested Amandur thoughts were of Léspheria, she had still not returned and he was beginning to worry. He did not like that she put herself at risk by taking upon herself these night time excursions, but as she had reminded him she was the only one suitable for the task. Neither he nor Avanill could hope to cover the ground that she could and Menecin with his fragile mental state could not be fully trusted, which only left Vanwe, young and inexperienced in the ways of the wild. So he had been forced to relent to her logical thinking despite the misgivings of his heart and thus far his fears had been unfounded. ‘She is smart and strong!’ he silently reminded himself assuring himself that she would be back soon and if not she would have some good reason for returning late.
While Amandur’s thoughts were of Léspheria and their current situation Menecin could not help but replay in his mind his last encounter with Naiore, his inability troubled him what if he could not act when relied upon to do so. His eyes opened slowly as he looked across to where his daughter lay, so very alike but very different they seemed, would he be able to protect her as was his want? Closing his eyes again he struggled against his doubts and searched for the strength to see his convictions through.
Vanwe unlike the others was the only one in their group truly asleep exhausted not only from the long journey but also from the twists and turns her life was taking, all her illusions of her mother were truly shattered and the sordid truth of her mothers life lay bare before her. But Vanwe saw not the horrid monster the others saw but a tormented tortured soul corrupted by the need for knowledge, that nothing else mattered and for this reason Vanwe could not find it in her heart to hate her mother for her abandonment. Instead she pitied her, she had let her life slip away, in fact shunning it in search of something she could not hope to understand! Vanwe’s eyes suddenly snapped opened, was that it….. Did her mother lack fear… was that her flaw and why she pursued the answer to where fear dwelled so relentlessly???? Letting her eyes flutter closed again she pondered this and looked within herself for some answers.
Léspheria sensed the uneasiness of the others as she hurriedly skirted the left edge of the camp, Avanill started at her sudden appearance jumping to his feet, but before he could speak she stopped him placing a firm hand on his shoulder. Her eyes still narrowing slightly as she addressed him still unsure of the young merchants true intentions.
“Your poison it is ready?” she asked. The young merchant nodded pulling out a small dark bottle. “good! It is time to go!” she said quickly stepping passed him to wake the others, but both Amandur and Menecin were up before she reached them and waking Vanwe.
“We must hurry! Naiore has cut loose her companions and now heads south on a newly acquired mount, if we leave now we may be able to head her off at the river!” she quickly informed them as she snatched up her gear and kicked out the fire.
“You have sighted her?” Menecin asked as he helped his daughter to fasten her gear to the saddle of her mount.
“No,” Léspheria answered shaking her head, “the trail diverges, two sets of prints heading east on foot and a set of hoof prints heading south, but you will be glad to know I did find Dúlrain and his companions, they head east in hopes of freeing Miss Nightshade.” she told them turning to specifically address Amandur.
“Indeed that is good news!” Vanwe exclaimed as she climbed into her saddle. “I should not like to think of any woman in the hands of that vile thug!” she shivered visibly remembering the uncomfortable way in which the villain would leer at her.
As they rode out from camp Léspheria relayed to them what she had found and what she had discovered from Dúlrain assuring Amandur that the young ranger was in good health albeit filled with deep concern for the southern lady which was more than understandable. Amadur then kick his horses into a fast gallop and the others followed the final chase was on, if Naiore crossed the river and made it into the southlands then they would likely loose her… it had to finish here!
Last edited by piosenniel; 07-17-2005 at 02:35 PM.
|04-16-2005, 09:15 PM||#331|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
It was not long before one by one they congregated at the point where Dúlrain chose to leave the shelter of the wooded foothills; together with his halfling companions pursuing the eastward course toward the river Anduin. Léspheria had already slid off her horse as the others drew up, and calling for a brief halt she left to quickly survey the area. Only Amandur rode ahead.
Remaining seated on their mounts waiting, Menecin glanced at Vanwe. His daughter’s eyes were closed, and as the morning sun caught her stray gossamer hair, she struck him as luminous. Like the swan of Belfalas at daybreak. Like her mother. As the poignant remembrance rose to his consciousness, Menecin pushed it aside. His daughter was worn and tired, vulnerable. Looking past her, he pondered what Avanill vulnerabilities might be, as the man dubiously scanned the trees about them as if even now Naiore were at hand. It was right that the young man should be watchful. They should all be watchful, yet keep at arm’s length that precipice of pain and fear where he knew Naiore stood poised waiting for them. Consciously the bard again drove back his inner discord. And as he became distant, removed from its pull, his bearing took on a noticeably colder mien.
Feeling suddenly uncomfortable, Avanill looked to Menecin, and catching his steady stare, the merchant let his eyes drift to the horse that bore Vanwe. The animal shook its mane impatiently, halter creaking as it arched its neck earthward. The young elf’s eyes fluttered open, and she flashed a faint smile to find the two posted solemnly on either side of her. Menecin pulled a small flacon from his saddle and offered it to her, quickly withdrawing his hand as she took it. It was as his daughter raised this bottle to her lips that Amandur returned, and the young merchant spurred his horse forward to meet him. “What has Léspheria found?” the ranger asked as Avanill approached. “Is there any sign of the others?”
“She has not said,” the young merchant replied looking around for his fellow traveler.
A soft voice was heard though she could not be seen. “There is no sign that Dúlrain or the others have returned to this place,” Léspheria announced as she appeared, emerging from the brush. “And a smudge of grey smoke rises above the Vale of the Anduin where their trail leads.” Turning to face Avanill, she added, “It is a good sign. I believe Barrold Ferny to have fallen at the hand of our friends. For though I can not see anyone near the pyre, Barrold has not the respect for life or the for the living to allow such niceties, and if any other had been slain the smoldering fire would still be tended.”
The merchant nodded, “And Naiore?” he said looking to Amandur. “What of the Ravenor?”
“Naiore has lost no time here,” Amandur said. “She has not confidence in her allies, be they orcs or men, but guesses rightly that she is still pursued. To be sure, we five together would be unwelcome guests in her camp,” he said gravely. “All the more reason to press on, she was here but a few short hours ago.”
So close, Menecin thought as he looked at his companions. “Friends," he entreated. "I ask that you cling not to hope, for it will betray you to her. But meet her instead armed with a hardened heart. I pray you, still your minds so that she might see naught but her own refection, having no hold over you.”
A shadow fell over Vanwe’s face at her father’s words. “Would you have us all become so callous?”
“There is no other way. Does an arrow consider mercy as it speeds on its errand? No, its course is set for good or ill long before it finds its mark, and so it must be for us.” With this Vanwe became silent, and Menecin’s resolve wavered as he saw through her eyes. He had so many times hunted Naiore in hope, but he now knew in the end what horror it was that might come to pass.
Sensing the tension, Avanill tugged at the reins of his mount heading for the trail that lead away south along the skirts of the mountains. “I know that I’d give quite a sum to have a bow and quiver now! For settling this at such a range seems preferable,” he quipped over his shoulder. “Better to shoot arrows than be one. But I will do as I’m told, for now at least. And take note, we will see this though together or not at all.”
Amandur turned his horse to follow the merchant. “When Naiore Dannan is safely held in Minas Tirith awaiting the king’s judgment, the peoples North and South will rest knowing that a shadow of Mordor no longer passes among them. Though we all have our own reasons for being here Vanwe, what we do ultimately is for those people. Let us not fail them!”
Pausing a moment, Léspheria waited so that her kinswoman might ride beside her, but the young elf was lost in thought, and her father still spoke to her seeing her distress.
“I took a vow to both love and honor your mother before we were betrothed, Vanwe,” Menecin said to his daughter. “I have not forgotten it. It is because of love and honor that I would stop her now.” But he saw a glimmer of sadness in her sapphire eyes as she raised her face to meet his, and he knew that she saw past this veil of words.
“I know you try to do what you think is right,” she said softly before leaving him to join Léspheria.
Trailing behind as the group spurred their horses to thunder though the wooded foothills, regret found Menecin once more. And it was rueful to him that he had not succeeded in bringing Naiore before her kin while they were yet plentiful in Middle-Earth. Now she would face trial by men, and they would not remember what she had once had been. Short lived and stern, she would be judged solely by her crimes.
As they traveled, so the sun also crossed the field of pale blue above them. Too soon it seemed the afternoon had grown old. And approaching a clearing in the trees that afforded a wide vista, they chose to halt, their horses now sweating and spent.
With the height of the mountains rising sheer to their right and the flatlands leading off to the rain swollen Anduin on their left, there they saw spread before them a broad fen. Here the swiftly flowing Gladden left the mountains, slowing and widening before it met the Great River.
“Sîr Ninglor,” Menecin said solemnly. “Gladden Fields. Perhaps our last chance to capture Naiore before she crosses the Anduin, slipping from our grasp among the boughs of the Greenwood.” But not wishing to be seen by her he led his mount away from the edge to find Amandur and Vanwe had gathered at Léspheria’s side. The elf was poised on her horse, looking blankly in front of her, deathly still.
Menecin heard Avanill take a deep breath, exhaling slowly. “And so it begins,” the young man said. “I’ve seen this stricken expression before now.”
Dropping his reins Menecin passed by him, going instead to Amandur. “We can not stay here,” he said firmly. “She knows now were we are. We must go at once.”
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 07-17-2005 at 10:24 AM.
|05-04-2005, 09:07 AM||#332|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
Naiore had pushed the sleek little farm horse hard on the ride south and now, as the waters of the Gladden River rushed through the darkness beside them, she slowed her pace, allowing the animal a slight respite from the headlong flight. Reining the mare to a halt, Naiore suddenly dismounted, a slight frown creasing her fair brow. She turned, looking toward the north and, for the perhaps thousandth time, cast her mind back in the direction of her pursuers. They were close now, so close that she could distinguish each individual consciousness from the next. There were only five of them who dared pursue her so closely, five very familiar minds, five well- known souls.
“Like the fingers of a hand,” whispered Naiore, looking down at her own gloved hand. “Shall I let that hand pursue me and collect me like a canary from a cage?” A smile touched her lips. “Or shall I sever the fingers from the body, one by one? Shall I be like the scorpion and sting them unto to death even as they reach for me?”
She reached out and stroked the side of the brown horse with one hand as the other touched the Noldorian dagger sheathed at her waist.
“Yes,” she whispered. “One by one, they shall fall.”
Naiore turned and took her pack from the back of the horse and with slap to the animal’s flank sent the horse trotting onward along the river bank. Careful to leave no footprints of her own, Naiore turned and moved back in the direction from whence she had come. Finding a hollow beneath a bush, she knelt and concealed her pack, taking from it only her bow and a handful of gray arrows. Her two curved swords already hung ready at her sides, but her fingertips lingered over the fletchings of the fine elven arrows. She would use no orcish arrows for this errand. Her prey must know who it was that sought to destroy them. Let their fear grow...
Flitting like a shadow across the moonlit ground, Naiore moved purposefully in the direction of her pursuers, throwing her mind ahead of her as she ran. Finding Léspheria’s consciousness in the misty distance, Naiore formulated an idea and sent it onward into the mind of the dark-haired elf-lady who dared to follow her.
Yes, purred the voice of Naiore into Léspheria’s waiting ears. Come, little cousin, if you dare. Come and find me. We have much to talk about, if you’ve the stomach for it.
There was a hesitation and a slight ripple in the other woman’s consciousness before the accustomed wall fell into place, blocking Naiore’s melodious voice. Nonetheless, Naiore smiled, knowing that she had gotten through to her pursuer. Come, she continued to beckon enticingly. Come, cousin, come and find me. I’ll wait for you and your friends by the river, where the One Ring was lost and found again. Shall I do that? Don’t forget to bring your fear...
Naiore continued on her northward course, and, as her sense of her pursuers grew stronger, she pulled back the tendrils of her mind to listen for the sounds of their actual presence. Before too long, her sharp elven ears were greeted by the sound of approaching horses and the soft murmur of voices. Moving with a feline grace, Naiore pulled herself high into the branches of an ancient oak and fitted an arrow to her bow.
Last edited by Ealasaide; 05-06-2005 at 09:28 AM.
|05-18-2005, 01:58 PM||#333|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Watching the members of this small group as they descended from the sheltering foothills into the Gladden River’s valley, Menecin shared in Avanill’s growing desire to keep at a distance from Naiore if at all possible, and deeming the risk too great the tall elf that had once proudly fought in Gil-galad’s forces now counseled both Amandur and Léspheria to abandon this plan that Léspheria had proposed. All where of single mind, desiring to cut off any attempt Naiore might make to reach the Anduin by surrounding her and pushing back toward the mountains if need be, until they could subdue her. But Léspheria knew that Naiore would not be easily ensnared and intended to tempt the Ravenor of Mordor in the hope that through this they might gain an advantage over her. Menecin’s eyes hardened with sudden recognition. Léspheria knew she held the unique pull that could challenge the Lady Dannan.
Both Amandur and Menecin protested but speaking as if from a distance, Léspheria admonished them in a gentle but strained voice. Indeed the Ravennor already knew of her close proximity, and had spoken to her seemingly set on leading them to her, but more of it she would not say. Now was not the time to take any move that told of fear or weakness. They must strike swiftly, or risk falling victim to persistent forays into their awareness. But above all Naiore must not be allowed to cross the river.
Not satisfied with this answer, Menecin looked to Amandur, that he might help prevail upon Lady Léspheria. With his military skill, he too would no doubt recognize the necessity of choosing ground more suitable than this. They must not be pressed to act prematurely. But the ranger did not offer up any assistance or explanation. And as the gaze of the Dúnadan met his, Menecin could see in his face that he was deeply concerned. Menecin quickly reined in his dun horse to drop back where Vanwe and Avanill followed. Seeing that the bard did not pursue his point any further, and had fallen in line with the others, Amandur’s saddle creaked as he turned round and continued on soberly. With his horse close by Léspheria’s and a set expression, he resumed his careful study not only of the path before them, but also the fleeting waves that had begun to wash over the Ravennor’s kinswoman.
Once behind them, Menecin did not allow himself to think long on how Léspheria‘s determination provoked sharp memories of her mother in this. He was the only one perhaps, to see this echo of Valaindon, and who truly understood - the only one beside Naiore. Slipping the bow from off his shoulder, he handed it to Avanill, resolving that they should not fail to protect her as he had once failed her mother. “If I am not mistaken, Avanill you have both motive and means to put these arrows to better use than I, for though I might wish it, I may prove unable to hunt the Lady Dannan in such a manner.” But Avanill hesitated to take hold of the weapon, asking if Menecin intended then to walk the marshland unarmed. Reaching over his shoulders the elf withdrew two daggers with long and bitter blades, saying that he chose to rely on these old and well known companions for his defense, but asked that in exchange for the bow the merchant might watch over Vanwe, shielding her from Naiore’s sight for as long as might be. Truly, as much as he wished to be at Vanwe’s side to protect her, he wished also be free to draw Naiore’s attention away from either his daughter or Léspheria if the plan were to sour.
Eyeing the fine bow, Avanill reluctantly admitted that perhaps Vanwe would not feel safe in his company. “For I do not know who would rest the better if I hung from a gibbet, your daughter or her mother!” But Vanwe, after silently searching her father’s face told him that she would go with Avanill, if he now wished it. And as the elf gravely nodded, a smile flickered across the young man’s face, and he eagerly snatched the bow and quiver from Menecin’s hand.
Stopping his horse, Avanill briefly examined the elven arrows, and choosing carefully those with broadest heads, he placed their shafts between the fingers of his fist. Dousing their points with thin liquid from a vial among his belongings, he held them thus splayed in one hand to dry as he caught up with Menecin and his daughter. Several more times along the way Menecin noted Vanwe watching intently as Avanill repeated this procedure. But it was not until they neared the river, Amandur silently giving them a sign to spread out as he and Léspheria drifted off the path to the right, that the merchant at last returned the arrows to the quiver at his back, with tangible satisfaction.
Menecin guided his horse downstream toward the tall reeds and clumps of yellow gladden flowers, not hearing what it was that Vanwe whispered so quietly to Avanill. But had he heard the man’s answers, it would quickly have been clear she pleaded with him. “I must defend myself," the young man said. "And I can’t let her walk out of here either. I’ll not live my life looking over my shoulder; for she knows where it is I come from. What poison? I must only nick her flesh…no, that was a crude concoction she chose, and this one I’ve brewed is excellent. Tallas earned all the respect credited him for herb lore, his stores and knowledge of that was faultless.” The shadow on Vanwe’s face deepened as she recalled Avanill’s hand in the old man’s murder, and the merchant looked away to find that Menecin could no longer be seen. “Ah, I know now your father is mad after all, sending you with me,” he said sighed. “But what a stroke of luck, it could be quite useful to have you along, and we could help each other out if things go wrong. That is, if you yourself choose to stay with me.”
Meanwhile Menecin, his keen eyes scanning the way before him, quickened the pace of his mount, riding further away from Vanwe. The soft ground by the river had betrayed a lone horse passing downstream in the gloom, and without seeking aid or counsel, the elf pursued it with dagger drawn.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 07-18-2005 at 10:34 AM.
|06-17-2005, 06:47 AM||#334|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Lespheria sat erect and alert upon her white mare, the noble baring of her birth apparent, but within her mind she could sense the first stirrings of the beast within, a discord in the song of the world that once before she had been forced to banish to the depths of her heart soul and mind, she alone now in this world knew where it dwelt and what it craved! But she would not give into its hunger. No it would remain buried in her determination and strength of will, but in all Irony it was most likely the only bait she knew Naiore could not resist and the one thing that in the revennors control could completely destroy them all!
‘Come, little cousin, if you dare’ Naiore’s alluring taunt echoed again and again in Lespheria’s mind as she let her sharp elven eyes searched out her quarry and her acute elven ears listened for even the slightest murmur of her cousins presence. However nothing stirred, but the chirping of crickets and the whisper of the night winds through the tall grass and leaves in the tree tops, something suddenly felt strangely wrong. Signalling to Amandur she slowed her mount to a gentle stop. “something is not right!” she whispered as the ranger reached her side, he nodded but said nothing as he waiting for her to explain. Slowly and cautiously she opened one of several doors in her mind and pressed outwards searching out the Revennor.
“Ah there you are!” she whispered in Naiore’s mind. “ I have come, not only do I dare cousin but I defy you and will always be here to stand between you and what you seek!” she pressed defiantly and with strength of conviction that challenged Naiore.
Naiore’s humourless laughter filled her mind in response, “you foolish child, you are strong but not nearly strong enough hardly worth the effor…” There was a sudden pause in the revennors retort as a ripple of something hidden washed over Lespheria’s mind, something she was quick to guard against and as another wall went up Naiore’s interest grew, “what do you hide little cousin? what is it you do not wish me to see?” she pondered to herself . “ Your mother” She purred to Lespheria‘s waiting mind, “ now she was a challenge… a pity I did not get to finish what I started with her!”
Lespheria grinned the first bait had been taken, “Yes she was strong, Strong enough to beat the great revennor of Mordor! she kept her greatest secret from you, you are the one who failed Naiore and she is not your only failure now is she ….” sensing an irritated ripple of anger wash over the usually well controlled mind of the Revennor she went on, “ they all seem to get away, don’t they? Kaldir, Menecin, Vanwe and still you have not the answers you seek!”
“You presume to think you know me cousin , I may have been too hasty with the Ranger, but whoever said I was finished with the rest!” Naiore seethed and as the words echoed in Lespheria’s mind another thought of intent slipped through.
“Nooo!” she cried out urgently as the Naiore’s intent gave fuel to the beast that now thrashed violently at the walls of it’s prison longing to at last be let loose. Cracks began to appear in walls of her defence as she struggled to contain and overpower the fear Naiore’s intent had awoken. “Avanill! Vanwe!” she cried as she kicked her mare sharply and turned in the direction of the merchant and his charge. Her face flushed with anger at Naiores deception, she bent low over her mare urging the creature on while the fear within her continued thrashed violently against the walls of its prison. Naiore’s Laughter echoed in her mind “ You can’t save them Cousin ! It will be you who fails Just like your mother failed!”
|07-16-2005, 07:50 AM||#335|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
A cold smile of satisfaction touched Naiore's fair lips as she felt the tremor of a familiar emotion flicker across Léspheria's consciousness before another wall fell into place, hiding her cousin’s fear. Fear. Yes, Naiore had sensed its presence even as Léspheria fought to conceal it. She was afraid. Fear in one of the Eldar sounded to many like discord in the Music of the Ainur, a false chord, strident and misplaced amongst the deep strata of overlapping harmonies, but to Naiore it carried an echo of beauty. From whence did those notes spring? Withdrawing her mind from that of her cousin, Naiore’s beautiful smile faded as the question that had haunted her for nearly the whole of her long existence, rose again in her thoughts. Where does fear spawn? Someday, the answer to that question would lie within her grasp. Perhaps soon.
Hearing the distant voices of her pursuers growing ever closer, Naiore turned her attention to matters of more immediate concern. She would come back to Léspheria later, when the time was right. But now, two of her own erstwhile traveling companions approached the very tree in which Naiore had concealed herself. She removed the gray arrow from her bowstring, and slid silently down from her vantage point in the tree to a place of concealment on the ground.
“...help each other out if things go wrong,” said Avanill softly to Vanwe, as the two of them rode slowly along the wooded path. “That is, if you yourself choose to stay with me.”
Naiore’s gaze flicked coolly over the two, assessing their weapons, their state of readiness. She saw instantly that while the young merchant was armed with both bow and sword, he foolishly carried neither at the ready. The bow was carried loosely in his hand, with no arrow nocked to the string. Vanwe wore only a small knife tucked safely into her belt. It took but an instant for Naiore to cast her mind outward, to determine that the others were far enough distant not to present a threat to her. Menecin, the closest one to her location, was moving away, in the direction of the river, following the trail left by her abandoned horse. These two were alone. As Vanwe murmured her response to Avanill, the merchant suddenly dismounted and walked to the base of the tree in which Naiore had so recently been hiding. He gazed upward. Vanwe grew suddenly stiff and silent as Naiore’s voice pierced her consciousness. Be very still, my daughter, my dear, purred Naiore. And no harm shall come to you. Say not a word and no harm shall come to you...
Unaware, Avanill turned toward Vanwe. “As we rode up, I thought...” his voice trailed off as he caught sight of the stricken expression on the young elf’s face. “What is it?” he asked, reaching over his shoulder for an arrow to put to the bow in his hand. He stopped in mid-motion as Naiore stepped out from her place of concealment, her bow now slung and one of her curved swords ready in her hand. She watched as he blanched at the sight of her, the blood draining tellingly from his face. He regained his composure quickly, but the damage had already been done. Naiore could feel his fear rise. His arm still raised over his shoulder, he twisted the nock of one arrow thoughtfully between his fingertips then slowly, very slowly, drew it from the quiver. His dark blue eyes met hers in a plucky attempt at fearlessness.
“My lady!” he exclaimed. “You gave a me fierce start. I didn’t expect to find you here.” He nodded toward Vanwe. “See what I have brought you? I got her back. The others suspect nothing.”
Vanwe’s blue eyes widened in surprise at the young merchant’s treacherous words. Her mouth dropped open to cry out, to object, to accuse, but no sound escaped other than a soft, wordless moan, like the coo of a dove.
Naiore smiled. “For me? How kind.” Still holding her curved sword at the ready, she stepped between Avanill and his horse, effectively separating him from a chance at flight. To Vanwe, she said, “Dismount, my dear. It is so good that my loyal friend, Avanill, has seen fit to re-unite us.” As Vanwe silently slid from her saddle, Naiore turned once again to Avanill. “You are loyal are you not?” she asked smoothly. “Or is it something else you have brought for me? Tell me. Tell me everything.” She stepped nearer.
Nervously, the young man licked his lips. As his eyes flicked to the arrow in his hand and back to Naiore, the Ravenner suddenly knew all. His words meant nothing. The arrow was what he had brought for her. A sudden flare of anger rose in her breast as the full extent of this young man’s hubris became clear. He meant to lie to her, to deceive her as he might some poor, backcountry farmer. Then he meant to kill her, not openly in battle, but by deceit and treachery, by mere sleight of hand and the use of a poisoned arrow. Naiore would simply not allow it. This no one, this pretender, would not be the one to destroy the dire Ravenner of Mordor. Subduing her sense of outrage, Naiore also felt a spark of excitement as she studied the young man’s handsome face. It would be a pleasure to kill him, to bathe in his fear as the realization struck him that he had failed.
Avanill smiled. His expression was ingratiating and confident. “I had planned to break from the others as soon as I could separate Vanwe from the group. Now that I have her, it is fortunate that you have found us. It had been troubling me as to how I would be able to find you, that I might deliver your daughter into your hands once more.”
“Troubling, indeed,” said Naiore mildly. Her eyes lit on the bow he still held loosely at his side. “I know that weapon,” she said. Abruptly, she held out the gloved hand that did not hold her sword. “May I see it?”
Avanill hesitated, then handed over the Bard’s heavy bow. His other hand tightened around the haft of the arrow.
“A beautiful thing,” said Naiore softly, as her graceful fingers closed around the carved wood. “And so deadly in the right hands.”
“I would think that is part of its beauty,” said Avanill suavely. His voice still sounded calm and pleasantly ingratiating, but Naiore could feel the current of tension and fear that rushed like a rain-swollen river beneath his cool exterior. Her sharp eyes caught the ghost of a tremor in his hands, as he suddenly proffered the arrow. “See... see even the artistry of the arrow maker. The arrow, too is a thing of beauty.”
Artless, thought Naiore. His effort to get near her with the point of the arrow was clumsy and sadly transparent. She smiled and put aside the Bard’s beautiful bow, so similar in design to her own, leaning it against a nearby tree trunk. Then, she sheathed her sword.
“The arrow is indeed a thing of beauty,” said Naiore. “Even more so when it is in flight.” She reached out to take the arrow. As her hand moved toward the shaft, Avanill suddenly lunged forward, flicking the point toward her face with a viper’s quickness. Expecting the move, Naiore fell to a crouch, the arrow’s point missing her by a safe margin. As she dropped, she struck out with one of her legs, sweeping the young man’s unsuspecting feet from under him. He landed in a heap on the forest floor. Naiore sprang and, before he knew what had happened, she had him pinned with her knee on his chest, one hand holding her Noldorin dagger to his throat. With surprising strength, her other hand forced Avanill’s arm and the hand that held the arrow to the ground. Behind her, Vanwe released a sharp cry of horror and surprise.
“Quiet!” snapped Naiore, her clear eyes never leaving Avanill’s terrified face. Instantly Vanwe fell silent, but Naiore knew she had to dispatch the merchant quickly. Sadly, there would be no time to explore the depths of his fear. Watching Vanwe from the corner of her eyes, Naiore saw the young elf hovering just beyond the Ravenner’s left shoulder, trapped in hesitation between flight and coming to her companion’s aid. Suddenly, Vanwe came to a decision.
“No!” she cried and sprang forward. Forgetting the knife in her belt, she picked up the heavy elven bow that belonged to her father and, wielding it with both hands like a club, swung it wildly at her mother’s head. Deftly, Naiore ducked the blow and with a face serene as that of a marble statue, plunged her dagger home. The blade entered Avanill’s throat just above his Adam’s apple and cut upwards toward the place where his spine joined his skull. As a warm gush of crimson spurted out to stain Naiore’s inky leathers anew with blood, Avanill’s body shuddered once and was still, his face frozen in a mask of horror and disbelief. The hand holding the poisoned arrow fell impotently open.
Vanwe struggled to regain her balance, having been thrown off by the momentum of her swing. Snatching the poisoned arrow from Avanill’s dead hand, Naiore rose to face her daughter. Knowing that she could not defeat Naiore hand to hand and that her companion could no longer help her, Vanwe lowered the bow and fell back a step toward her horse. Still holding her blood-stained dagger at the ready, Naiore added Avanill’s arrow to the quiver on her back, knowing that she could identify it by the touch, the fletchings being oddly notched and different from her own. Smiling again, but with eyes as cold as starlight, Naiore moved toward her retreating daughter.
Hilde Bracegirdle's Post - Menecin
The elf reined in his horse. The sound of something stirring at the water's edge had reached his ears, now still as the mountains behind him he listened, a darker silhouette in the night. And though the breeze bore with it no additional warning, chariness prevented Menecin from moving further along the river. Dagger in hand he slid from his mount, drawn to the water's edge.
There under the clear sky, he came across a sleek mare that had dared slake its thirst by a dark pool and was unable to free itself. Though neither tethered nor tied, Naiore's weary mount was held fast, its tangled reins dripping with stagnant water. The discarded creature bowed its head, sadly watching the slow moving Gladden with resignation.
Nowhere could Menecin see Naiore, or the least sign of her passing. Had she then chosen to wait and watch hidden among the reeds? Or perhaps enshrouded by the night, she still continued this hurried journey? And as he searched the terrain for her, his eyes fell upon the dimly glinting Anduin, flowing ever south in the distance, and with sadness he recalled Lórinand of old, like a reflection of light from the west, a jewel concealed beside the Great River. But beyond that once fair realm, he knew lay dusty Dagorlad; bordered by the treacherous marshes where so many of Lord Gil-galad's forces had become lost. And others, returning, whispered tales of a beautiful elf maid who had ridden at the forefront, captain of a host of Mordor. Naiore's appearance had inspired fear, as The Dark Lord sought to drive a wedge of mistrust deep into the alliance. Would she then seek to retreat behind the stonewalls of Ered Lithui as had her master, awaiting a siege, or plan reprisal as she roamed blighted Gorgoroth, remembering?
The horse blew in excited greeting as the elf waded into the water to free it. Quickly sheathing his knife, he deftly unwound the strips of sodden leather, speaking in low tones to the creature as he listened for the least crackling among the weeds. All was deceptively peaceful. If Naiore had fled, crossing the water, she would not long be idle. And in his heart Menecin with dread knew she would not flee. Not without ensuring that they would no longer pursue her. She would cripple them if she could, and they had played into her hands. "Vanwe," he whispered. How blind he had been, following this false trail away from her!
With great noise and haste Menecin led the mare to where his own horse waited. And still grasping its lead, he swung into the saddle pulling the dun's nose back in the direction he had come. Naiore's mare might be required to bear her yet a little while longer. Gripping its reins in his left hand, he kicked his mount sharply and set off, threading his way rapidly though the fen.
When the moon had climbed high and Menecin had almost reached the spot where he thought to leave the water's edge, he heard a cry far upstream. Brief and troubled, it was Léspheria he recognized, calling out to Vanwe and Avanill. But where then was Amandur? Immediately Menecin let go the spare horse, sending it galloping forward along a deer's path that led away from the bank, while he followed a short distance behind. But he had only gone a few yards when a clear whistling bird called out, as though disturbed. It was a signal such as he had heard before in Ithilien, a warning from Amandur. And he knew then the danger was not to be found with them, but with the others.
His heart became stone as he veered off the path, and his horse's hooves churned the earth, galloping with all speed over the soft ground at the river's edge. Menecin did not slow, not until he heard to his right, his daughter's voice and Naiore rebuking her. Only then did he allow the beast to rest as he suddenly stopped, closing the last stretch on foot.
Silently approaching with weapon readied, he saw Naiore standing with her back to him, effortlessly slipping an arrow into the slender quiver poised between her shoulders. It was the heavier arrow Avanill had prepared, his own arrow that she placed beside her own, so finely fletched. And at her foot lay the merchant, unblinking and unseeing. Menecin was staring down at the young man with regret, when he felt a familiar intrusive presence slip like a shade through his mind, searching. Even as Naiore stepped over the body to stop in front of her daughter, Menecin felt he had been expected. The bard looked up to see Vanwe's surreptitious glance, her eyes quickly darting to her mother at the sight of the gleaming blade in his hand.
Barely distinguishable from his own at first, a persistent thought broke through catching hold of his reluctance, So this is love, Menecin? What is it that you have come to do? But Menecin stilling his mind, stood mutely behind the Ravennor, looking slowly from the bloodied dagger held firmly in Naiore's hand to his daughter who stood just an arm's length before her, a mirrored image of Naiore in her youth. What stays your hand? the Ravennor taunted him in silence. Is this ignominious ending, not to your taste? You know it is in your power, Menecin, to choose another, but do you have the strength? You can avert this bloodshed, if you so wish. The coils tightened for a moment, stirring old and pleasant memories before vanishing altogether as Naiore quickly slipped her free arm around Vanwe, walking her away from Avanill's body to more sheltered ground. Then gently spinning her around, side by side they both faced Menecin. "There is a strong resemblance, is there not?" she asked smoothly.
A grim smile rose to the bard's lips, as he followed them. "Sadly there is little resemblance, Naiore. For you have ripened to cruelty having had every advantage, and she, though born to cruelty has grown to possess great strength of heart and a noble spirit." He shook his head, a piercing glance still fixed on Naiore, "But such traits are of no account to you, though I would that it was otherwise."
"You too have strength of heart, Menecin. But did you not at first show me this path I have set my foot on? And now there is so very little time left to prove yourself. Your fledgling family will soon be scattered once more, beyond all reconciliation. Yet perhaps not all is irretrievable, there remain a few moments still. You must choose quickly."
Then Vanwe spoke softly, seeing her father's quandary. "Father, Amandur is a honorable man, he does not seek my mother's death."
Menecin addressed her earnestly, "Yes, he is a good man. But I cannot speak of the others she would encounter, even were the King and Queen themselves to moderate their judgment. And your mother prefers her own methods of defense. I see no good thing would come of the path." Then hearing the dull pounding of horses approaching he turned quickly to Naiore, "I will go with you, if you so wish."
With a smile, the Ravennor nodded directing Vanwe to recover Menecin's bow and arrows. But the elf stopped his daughter, announcing in a commanding voice, "No Naiore, we will go into the east alone and unarmed. Vanwe has served her purpose for you."
With the horses almost upon them, the Ravennor's smile broadened, and grabbing Vanwe she placed the red smeared dagger against her fair throat. "No, Menecin, she has one last function to perform, and you, one last chance to save her. Kill the ranger, Menecin. Kill Amandur and I will go with you as you said, alone and unarmed."
Last edited by Ealasaide; 10-11-2005 at 12:22 PM.
|07-16-2005, 10:03 AM||#336|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Amandur’s rich hazel eyes, hardened by the passage of time and the evils he had been unfortunate to witness peered through the strands of loose dark hair that stubbornly blew across his rugged features, quietly scanning the surrounding night as he waited for the ladies explanation as to their sudden halt. After a moments silence he turned back to regard her, a pained look reached his eyes as he looked upon the blank expressionless features of the elven lady, a trance like state he had witnessed many times on their adventures together. While he knew that in this manner she could searched out their elusive quarry, he worried, it often troubled him greatly how much on this journey she had struggled to control the emotions that made her who she was and if Naiore; as was said indeed share Lespheria’s gift what harm might the elf witch inflict upon this noble women he would so willingly protect with his own life. But against such an enemy all his strength and wisdom might yet prove useless, a sudden feeling of helplessness washed over him as in his heart he knew he may not be able to save her from the true might of Naiore’s malice. For once in his life he would have to have faith in another, he had to believe that the strong ,determined, Just elf he knew and loved could defeat this evil in her own way.
“…But not alone” he murmured, not with piercing arrows nor tempered steel could he help but with trust and faith, love and friendship would her armour be and he would not desert nor betray her no matter what manner of witch craft Naiore decided to inflict upon them. Reaching out he gently squeeze her gloved hand in his, but started as she suddenly cried out.
As she turn to look at him he was surprised to see the briefest glimmer of fear in her eyes, a look he would never forget, Dark and foreboding like a shadow of evil fogging the gentleness of her heart. But as quickly as it had appeared it was gone, almost as though it had never been.
“Avanill! Vanwe!” she cried urgently her hand slipping from his as she kick her white mare to a gallop, quickly gathering his wits he turned briefly to whistle a signal to Menecin only to hear the thunder of hooves denoting that Léspheria’s fearful cries had already alerted the elven warrior, then he too kick his horse to follow.
It was evident by Lespheria’s haste that she felt the elf maiden and her companion were in danger, he watched as Lespheria abruptly reigned her mount leaping agilely from the saddle to the ground drawing forth the great bow she carried, fashioned from the wood of the great Mallorn trees of Lorien, the intricate gold leaf inlay glistening eerily in the moonlight. Seeing her falter as she reached into her quaver he rushed to her side. “No! I will be ok!” she protested, The pain etched on her gentle features changing almost instantly to a look of defiant determination.
She grasped an arrow and knocked it securely in place, then pulling herself tall she quietly cautioned that Naiore was near. With a slight nod of her head she signalled him to break off to the right to cover her advance, leaving the horses to gaze were they stood. His sword now firmly in his hands Amandur moved off easily matching the elven ladies pace listening for any hidden dangers that may lay ahead.
After barely a few feet she stopped drawing back the string of her bow so the feathers of the arrow gently brushed her cheek, at first Amandur could not see the ladies intent but as he stepped closer he saw the reasoning behind her haste. He blinked twice to be sure he was not seeing double. Two elven women almost double in likeness stood beneath the arching boughs of two great oaks, only the inky dark armour of Revennor of Mordor distinguishing them apart.
But unlike a mother holding her child protectively close Naiore held Vanwe to her with the cold steel of death. A dagger glinted dangerously close to the young elves throat, he knew that neither he nor Lespheria could never reach her in time if Naiore really intended to carry out this threat. Keeping his sword raised he glanced to his elven companion to see what she intended, but her bow arm remained locked and her silvery grey eyes set intently on Naiore. He followed her gaze to see that both elves stood firm like two old warriors locked in unseen battle, neither flitching. His gaze then fell sorrowfully on young Vanwe an innocent caught up in this age old battle; a participant simply by birth. Tears filled those bloodshot sapphire eye as she meet his gaze but not from fear, the look was one of pity and sorrow and as her eyes slowly shifted he followed to see a dark form lying only a few feet to his right. Suddenly remembering the young merchant he cautiously moved off to examine what he had already guessed he would find, Cautious all the time never to drop his guard or the turn his back on this most dangerous enemy.
Holding his sword firmly in his right hand he slowly crouched down beside the body of the young merchant searching for a pulse with his free hand, but as he had assumed none was to be found. The young man was already dead and even he who had had misgivings about the young man and his part in Tallas’s death felt sorrow. As he glanced down to see the fear etched into the wide lifeless pools of the young merchants eyes disgust and anger filled his heart, this elf fought and killed with no honour or regard for life. Hate and vengeance her allies feeding off her enemies fears and using them against them. well she will find no fear here! he muttered silently behind clenched teeth. Unclasping his cloak he laid it over Avanill’s broken body muttering a quick prayer. Filled with new resolve and determination that this elf should be brought to justice he rose quickly turning in the direction of the revennor and her hostage his sword raised and his eyes locked with hard determination. He had barely taken two steps when he found Menecin blocking his path, his eyes quickly shifted between the bards sapphire eyes and the half raised weapon in the elf's hands. What madness is this? he thought has the bard finally lost all reason or is this more of Naiore's doing?
"Move aside Menecin, The time has come for this elf to surrender and face the consequences of her actions!" Amandur commanded his words leaving no room for debate, but the Bard remained his eyes level and his sword in readiness.
"Look Bard I have no quarrel with you but if you do not step aside you will leave me no choice!" he added, frustration and impatience now tracing his voice as he stepped back to raise his own sword. But still the bard remained fixed as though rooted to the spot his eyes betraying no emotion.
"On the kings honour I mean you nor your family any harm but Naiore must face judgement surely you must know this?" he questioned changing tact and pressing the elf hoping to reach what if any good judgement or reasoning that yet remained.
Last edited by Nerindel; 08-19-2005 at 05:24 AM.
|08-20-2005, 10:09 AM||#337|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
“You must decide Menecin,” Naiore hissed softly behind him. “See, with his own mouth the Dúnadan says he does not wish you harm, yet his sword is raised.” And though her speech was calm, Menecin was much grieved at heart at the condition she had set before him, for he counted Amandur a friend. But he had taken an oath and could not endure to see Naiore consigned to a cave deep under Mindolluin for the ages to come, abandoning her to derision under the shadow of the Citadel. And his oath and his pain she would use against him. Must he then choose the death of Amandur or that of his daughter?
“Surely friendship is a lesser bond,” the Bard whispered to himself, his ire rising as Léspheria began to engage Naiore. The chance of extricating the Ravenor from this net without cost to his friends, grew more remote as each moment past. But focusing again on the weather beaten ranger before him, he saw that Amandur had indeed brandished his sword, and a cold fire kindled in the elf’s eyes as he steeled himself. “Both the Lady Dannan and I know what judgment awaits her in Minas Tirith,” he said with a chilling restraint. “Too heavily would it lie on one of our kindred.” He paused renewing the grip on his own weapon. “I will not let you pass, while there is yet another way,” he declared stepping toward the ranger.
Menecin noticed the man’s muscle’s tighten as Amandur studied him closely through narrowed eyes. “What course are you considering Bard?” he asked with caution now tempering his speech.
“No doubt, you question my faculties…. I assure you that I am in my right senses, quite painfully so. But what is it am I considering?” the elf mused. “Truly it would be madness!” Lowering his weapon he looked steadily at the ranger as if he would read his thoughts. “What of exile?” he questioned. “A new life…or perhaps death if it should find her upon the way. There are too few of us to make the trip safely to Gondor, but without your hindrance, I would see Naiore passed the wilds of Rhûn, and mete out my own justice. For what fragile hope I have found in Vanwe stands ready to be extinguished by Naiore’s own hand. And how does one live without hope? Let my daughter not know what becomes of her mother. Better that she say she has known no parents.”
“Though you are an elf, I believe that your death would not be long upon that road, and the lady would return unchanged and unscathed” the ranger said frowning. He looked past the bard to where Naiore stood with Vanwe still caught up by her deadly embrace. “I can not permit it!” he said shaking his head as if to dispel this nightmare. And the ranger’s whisper was harsh to the elf’s ears. Amandur’s gaze soon returned to Menecin. “But if you would find comfort in exile, return with us. Once pronounced, if the wisdom of men displeases you, could we not petition the King that you might be allowed to seek the Undying Lands, and be granted it? Then prevail upon Manwë and your kindred for their mercy and judgment if you so wish, pledging only that the Lady Dannan will not return to Middle-earth. Surely there would be both justice and wisdom in this. For King Elesser would not relish such a captive to become the inheritance of his house, and perhaps the Lady Dannan will find greater understanding among her own people. But we must act now, Menecin!”
“No, I can not do as you desire, and neither can I carry out Naiore’s wish, but I must find my own way. For I will not willingly bring such discord to The Blessed Realm by delivering such a one, even in chains, to the feet of those I hold dear. The peace of Aman was too dearly bought.”
But as a crushing hopelessness began to press down upon Menecin, so that with growing effort and strength of will he fought the darkness in his mind, Amandur drew still closer facing Naiore, even as the tall elf's own back was turned to her. And Menecin did not hinder him, but raised his eyes to see Léspheria, and despair took him.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 08-15-2006 at 10:47 AM.
|08-30-2005, 04:44 AM||#338|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Léspheria’s timeless features appeared hard and her starlit grey eyes cold as they fixed on her kinswoman, the quarry she had so ardently hunted these past few weeks. Her bow arm taunt and unwavering as she stared down the arrow shaft into the steely eyes of the elf that haunted her dreams giving face at last to that dark and ominous shadow! It was true that Vanwe shared her mothers beauty but not the malice and darkness that lay behind those stone like eyes staring back at her, cold and calculating, even now as Lespheria’s arrow marked it’s target. A sudden and unexpected wash of hatred and resentment coursed through her mind as she recalled the cruel and malicious torments of her mothers last year, Vanwe and Menecin’s current torments adding to her desire to just let loose the arrow in her hand and rid the world of this darkened and disillusioned creature, letting Mandos cast his judgement in the halls of the dead where perhaps she would find the true meaning of fear!
Perhaps sensing the sudden change in her cousin Naiore pulled Vanwe closer raising the blooded dagger threateningly close to the young elf’s bare and exposed throat. Naiore twice attempted to move out of bowshot but found that Lespheria countered each movement as if it were her own. However no concern nor fear crossed the cornered elf’s lustrous features instead a sly grin curved her lips giving those grey eyes a deceptively convincing glint of interest and intrigue. Ripples of discord tugged at the corners of Lespheria’s mind and she resisted the urge to turn to witness Naiore’s latest play. She could feel the bards struggle and Amandurs hesitant recourse but chose to block it out. She had faith in both and Naiore’s attempt to feed her these doubts not only failed, but added to her resentment.
“I will not be cowed by you Cousin!” she issued with calm defiance in her voice, but Naiore’s grin only broadened as if a challenge had been sent out and only too eager she accepted. Her eyes fixed on the arrow still nocked in her cousins bow she lowered her head slightly to whisper in her daughters ear. “See now your friend my daughter she means to take her revenge and separate us once more!” a look of triumphant satisfaction crossed the revennor’s face as a mixture of fear, confusion and horror swept over the young elf, Lespheria felt it too as was intended but refused to look into young elf’s eyes, she could not afford the distraction of the pleading look she knew she would find.
“I wonder daughter if you would avenge me so keenly?” Naiore cooed stroking her daughters hair with her free hand. Vanwe hesitated as she searched Lespheria’s hard set eyes hoping that that choice would never be hers to make. Sensing her daughters fears Naiore pulled Vanwe’s head back and glared towards Léspheria.
“Well Cousin what do you wait for!” she issued all the smoothness gone from her voice. “Is this not what you wanted my death in retribution for your mothers? it must have been agonising to bear her pain knowing that you could do nothing to save her, the fear must have been intense” and with that Naiore bombarded her with more memories of her mother imprisonment, Causing the fear within to writhe an twist trying to break free, But Lespheria would not give into it pushing the memories aside with shear force of will keeping her focused.
But at the back of Léspheria’s mind a fierce struggle battled as the elven warrior within filled with anger and bitterness compelled her to let loose her arrow and exact her revenge while the gentler more neutral healing side that cherished life weighed up the cost of her actions, could she willingly forfeit Vanwes life for vengeance, killing Naiore without finding out why? Why had Naiore chosen this path? What answers did she seek? Why had she killed her mother? Why would she kill those who loved her?
“WHY!” she questioned taking a threatening step forward her bow arm slackening but only a fraction, as she waited for the Revennor’s reply.
|09-09-2005, 09:13 AM||#339|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
"Why?" echoed Naiore. Her lovely eyes sparkled with a false merriment that sent chills trilling down the spine of the Elven woman opposite her. "Why, indeed. You might well ask yourself the same question. Why, cousin, do you pursue me so relentlessly? What is your motivation? It seems to me that Revenge guides your feet and, indeed, nocks the very arrow to your bow. Revenge, cousin! A vile and base pursuit, more suitable for orcs and misguided men than those of the Eldar race." Leaning forward to place her cheek against that of her daughter, Naiore tuned her comments to her daughter’s ears, though her eyes never left Léspheria’s face.
"You see, my daughter, this creature would slay me for no better reason than the misguided belief that it was my hand slew her mother."
"It was your hand," objected Léspheria softly, her fair features darkening at the memory of her mother’s pain.
"Was it?" Naiore’s expression grew sharper, the feigned merriment vanishing abruptly. "If my memory serves, and I believe it does, your mother was still alive when I was forced to flee Barad-dûr. She still drew breath when the Rangers entered the fortress of the Dark Lord. Ask yourself," purred Naiore. "Or, better yet, ask the Ranger who would fain be your lover, how it is that Lady Valaindon should die after leaving my hands and entering into his?"
Léspheria winced as though she had been struck. For the fleetest instant, her arrow trembled from its mark and the clear gray eyes flicked toward the tall Ranger who remained some distance away, his way blocked by Menecin. "It is not possible."
"Is it not?" Naiore smiled, feeling the tiny ripple of doubt that flashed through Léspheria’s emotions. "Ask yourself, how well do you know his heart? His mortal heart. And how well do you know mine? That of one of the Eldar and your own kinswoman, no less." The Ravener’s smile faded to be replaced by an expression of calm equanimity. "All I sought from your mother was knowledge. There were certain questions of lore and the heart that I sought answers to. Granted my means of interrogation were not easy..."
"Yet you hold a dagger to your own daughter’s throat."
"And you aim an arrow at mine. Have I a choice but to use my daughter as a shield if I wish to evade your murdering intent?"
"Young Avanill lies dead at your feet."
"He sought to kill me with a poisoned dart. Is it wrong of me to defend myself? It seems - " the smile appeared again at the corners of Naiore’s lips, though it fell short of her eyes " - that I am indeed more sinned against than sinning."
"And Kaldir?" Léspheria continued to press.
"He was alive when he left my sight. Ask yourself at whose hand he met his end." Naiore turned her head to speak softly into Vanwe’s ear. "You see how she twists things to blame me and prove me guilty of horrors that would serve to justify her murder of me? Have you seen me murder anyone, my child? No one, no one, except those who would kill me first." Yet, even as she spoke, Naiore’s mind drifted toward the poisoned arrow she had taken from Avanill’s dead hand. If only there were a way to put aside her dagger and nock that arrow to her bow. A mere scratch, almost a miss, and Léspheria, too, would lie dead, no longer barring the Ravener’s passage. Menecin had only to slay Amandur for her, if he did not fail her, and she would be free. She would deal with Menecin, and Vanwe, too, when the time came, but for the moment she needed them.
Without taking her eyes from Léspheria’s face, Naiore cast her mind toward Menecin and, to her profound disturbance, found a waver in his resolve. A wall, perhaps some remnant of his madness, blocked her from knowing his thoughts, but she sensed an aura of doubt. She sent a thought to his mind, do it, my love, do it, along with the renewed promise that they should go into the East together when the Ranger was dead, but the Bard’s doubt still did not diminish. Perhaps the doubt echoed from the Ranger instead? If so, Menecin should take advantage of the Man’s hesitation and move against him while he was vulnerable. If you ever loved me... urged Naiore. Strike him down!
Last edited by Ealasaide; 09-10-2005 at 06:44 AM.
|09-09-2005, 12:37 PM||#340|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Vanwe stood frozen in her mother terrifying embrace shrouded in the darkness of her own fears and doubts, they suffocated and clouded threatening to leave her a numb shell devoid of any thought or feeling, a shadow caught in a void longing for something that it could not quite remember to end. A sudden pulling and the cold bite of the blade at her throat yanked her back to herself. At first she thought that her mother had meant to end her life but as she became aware of the voices around her, her mothers and the Elvin lady Léspheria’s she realised that Naiore had only merely tightened her hold. It frightened her how easily she had accepted that fate almost welcoming it. She pushed the thoughts roughly aside as the voices filtered into her mind and she realised that her mother was speaking to her, the words no longer as honeyed as her mother had intended as sharp hardness edged every word as they echoed in her ear.
“I wonder daughter if you would avenge me so keenly?”
Avenge? What does she speak of? If she could have she would have gasped as her eyes raised to see the hard faced determination etched on the Elvin hunter before her, no not hunter the woman she had thought her friend…Léspheria! What of your promise??? She screamed silently in her mind her anguish awash anew as Léspheria refused to met her gaze. What of your mother she would not have wanted this…….remember…. Please remember! she thought suddenly feeling a wrongness in her Elvin friend that caused her concern it was a wrongness that she also sensed within her mother.
“Why?” Léspheria had cried out and in her mind Vanwe sighed a sigh of relief as the woman stepped forward her bow arm loosening if only slightly but for now it was enough as they waited for Naiore reply she to was interested to learn why her mother had turn enemy to her friend.
She Listened silently to the arguments passing between mother and friend at times her mothers lips brushed her ear as she directed certain question through her stirring the fear and doubt she knew was ever present. Was she correct was she more sinned against that the sinner everyone believed her to be?
"You see how she twists things to blame me and prove me guilty of horrors that would serve to justify her murder of me? Have you seen me murder anyone, my child?
She could not deny her mothers words it was true she had not, but neither could she forget her mothers relentless methods of questioning it had changed her as she now assumed it had the others, the bounty hunter, Lespheria’s mother, her father and inadvertently Léspheria it had changed them all shaping them to her mothers will or driving them to madness was this what was to become of her was she to be subverted to her mother will or go mad in the process? No her mother had not put her hand to those who had died except in defence… she had done things far worse!
The pain of this truth struck her like a sharp blow as her despair again resurfaced, had it been all for not? what had she found? Yet another prison from which this time there seemed no escape except perhaps in death!
NO! the survival instinct that had kept her alive all these years cried in her mind, she had discovered herself who and what she was she was, an elf with kin and family not abandoned as she had believed but found. She had discovered a purpose for her gift. Her eyes raised to find Léspheria’s, it had been she who had shown it to her in the halls of healing. What legacy had her mother given her, yes undoubtedly her life and her gift both for which she would ever be grateful but the Cage the prison her mother constructed and placed around her, the bars not wrought iron but those affected by the Revennor of Mordor terrifying reach, instilling the fear and distrust that had closed her to the truth of what she was, she was a healer and healing was what was needed.
A sudden calm swept over her and as Naiore thoughts turned to her father Vanwe realised what she must do.
Naiore’s words brought neither the answers Lespheria wanted or needed, nor did they lead her to any better understanding of the reasoning behind her cousin’s treachery. Instead they left her wondering and questioning herself ,did she really haunt her mothers cousin so unjustly? Was it not her own curiosity of knowledge kept from her that brought her on this haunt to begin with? Was it the same with Naiore? Did her curiosity regarding the nature and purpose of fear and pain drive her thusly? Where they as different as she once believed? Who was she to decide and dispense such justice? Her hand wavered uncertainly, Had she not promised herself after the encounter with the bounty hunter that stalked Vanwe in the stables at the green dragon that she would see no unwarranted harm come to the young elf, yet here she now stood having in Naiore’s words place Vanwe into the very predicament she had vowed to avoid. Was she no better than the haunted elf before her?
Too late she realised what was happening to her, the walls she had carefully constructed not only over the past few weeks but most of her life where being carefully stripped away, one at a time revealing to her the flaws and mistakes of her past. Forcing her to see the events of her life that she would rather forget, but also showing to her all the good she had accomplished in her lifetime, the lives she had touched and saved, the people she had loved and respected. It all fell away until at last in her mind she stood completely alone!
No not alone, something else remained a shadow dark and ominous, it’s touch cold on her very soul. She could feel its elation at finally being free, it swirled and danced drawing together to take form as she attempted to look away. You must face your fears! a soft and comforting voice in her mind urged. Yes this is what this creature was! she could hear it now the discord in the music of her being, a thing that was born with the making of the world, something she now knew she could never escape. She could lock it away but never banish it completely. It was a part of her, a part of them all laying dormant in the souls of each and everyone of them until the time came when they must face it and either defeat it or ever be ruled by it.
Drawing the last of her resolve she raised her eyes to look at the face of her fears, while all her outward appearance remained serene and impassive revealing nothing of the confrontation going on in within. But nothing could have prepared her for want she saw, from the inky darkness of her fears a figure stepped forward, clad in the very darkness from whence it had come a cold chill marking each step. Naiore! she thought unsurprised that her fears would take such a form, but as the figure drew closer she saw that a pale hands wrapped around a bow of finest mallorn and in the other a short sword that she instantly recognised as her own. No she thought drawing back a few steps, It can’t be! She panicked seeing the dark blood dripping from blades stained edges. The figure laughed coldly seeing her revulsion and with a sweep of the blade it drew back more of the darkness to reveal lifeless unmoving figures sprawled at it’s feet.
Noooooooooooooooo! She screamed wordlessly in her mind as the forms were suddenly given faces. Vanwe, Menecin, Amandur they all lay dead at the feet of the dark figure. Who are you? she cried now uncertain that Naiore was her greatest fear. The figure ceased it’s advance and laughed mirthlessly. Do you still not know me? It issued coldly. Then with another quick sweep of the bladed hand the figure drew back the dark cowl that had hidden it’s features and Léspheria suddenly found herself face to face with herself!
She wanted to flee, escaping the face of her fears; recede to the deepest, darkest recesses of her mind, but she could not something… no someone held her in place. Time to heal a soft voice whispered and this time she recognised it as Vanwe’s . It comforted and gave her strength to stand her ground and face the truth of the thing before her. It was a manifestation of her fears, a fear that her gift like a double edged blade could either be used to serve, preserving life or it could consume; Manipulating and taking life till its purpose is Fulfilled. Lespheria feared the latter and the consequences if she could control it! She feared she would become the very elf she hunted
Suddenly everything disappeared and all she could hear was a strong but steady bu bum bu bum bu bum. She gasped horrified, realising that she held Naiore's life in her hands. ‘Just one thought and we could stop it all here,’ a smooth velvety voice whispered, a voice eerily her own, ‘strong we are, stronger than anyone, even this the great revennor of Mordor’ the voice trilled, the abhorrence dripping from it, echoing her own revulsion. 'no!' she cried shaking her head, ‘But she killed her!’ the voice hissed angrily ‘she killed your mother, tortured her for knowledge and for no better reason than that she could!’ The pain of those words chilled her right to her marrow. But still the voice went on enticing her, urging her to take the life of the elf before her and for the briefest moment she actually contemplated just closing one of those great valves that feed the woman’s heart. ‘One thought and it would all be over’ the voice cooed again. ‘No, no I can’t do this! It is my choice it will always is my choice and I choose not to carry the sins of our fathers, I will not kill one of my bloodline, I shall not dishonour my mothers memory with such a vile act and I will never become that which I detest! No Naiore will not die by my hand.'
Léspheria came back to herself suddenly. What had felt like hours locked within her own mind had been merely moments. Her eyes searched out Vawne’s and found unspoken a silent understanding. Before she could speak Menecin had moved between them unaware of his daughters intervention and as he prayed her put aside her bow she did so, now knowing that spilling Naiore’s blood that of kin would only hasten her fears to reality, no if Naiore was fated to die it would not be by her blade or bow.
Last edited by Nerindel; 03-01-2007 at 10:55 AM.
|09-24-2005, 06:37 AM||#341|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
A thin voice spoke breaking through a rush of thoughts, reminding Menecin how simple it would be to end this suffering, offering a refuge but one viewed only as if at a distance. And Naiore’s words wound through his consciousness. If ever you loved me, strike him down! What right had he to delay, and so hold all of them trapped in this decisive moment, when the days of a man seemed only slightly longer than that of a flower growing wild in the field? Truly what was life but cares unending, and suffering endured? How mercifully short were the sorrows of the Edain!
Yes love her he had, and deeply, but now a much larger burden overshadowed that love. Menecin would not raise his hand against Amandur, but staunchly held fast as Naiore sought to influence him, skillfully bringing to bear a thorough knowledge of his character. And looking with dismay at Amandur, Menecin backed away quickly sheathing his sword, lest he weaken. Standing thus, between Léspheria and her mark, he effectively safeguarded Naiore and his daughter from the threat of her bow. But the dour elf’s blue eyes, glinting under his darkened brow, did not miss Amandur’s subtle advance, even as he stood watching Léspheria. Nor was he all unaware of Naiore. The rustle and sharp intake of breath behind him, betrayed her movements. And he knew that she had shifted, pulling Vanwe even tighter as she slid quite close behind his left shoulder. "This madness must not come to be!" he cried to Léspheria, "For all that she is and was, Naiore is undeniably your kin! I pray you, put aside your bow."
Amandur then spoke to him conciliatory words the elven warrior did not hear, but with one fluid motion Menecin reached over his shoulder and snapped his arm forward again, releasing a long bladed knife. Coming to rest with its tip buried deeply in the ground before Amandur, the weapon’s haft swayed forward lightly touching the ranger’s boot. "I entreat you Amandur, for the sake of us all, come no closer!" the elf warned. An unspoken voice tore at his mind, as he reached over his left shoulder as if to grasp his remaining knife, and he noticed Amandur’s body flex as the ranger prepared to dodge the blade. Now! Do it now, my love! Naiore’s melodious voice urged from within the deep recesses of his thought, almost as though issuing from his very being.
For one final instant, Menecin wavered. Then, abruptly, he spun on his heel and flew toward Naiore. Caught off guard, the Ravenor pulled back, dragging Vanwe with her, but, hampered by the awkwardness of her stunned captive, she could not move quickly enough. Springing forward Menecin threw out a hand and coiled it in Naiore’s long braids, jerking her fair head backward as he sought to upset her footing. Enraged, Naiore loosed her grip on Vanwe and struck wildly back toward Menecin with her dagger. The blade flashed in the moonlight as it sailed wide of its mark.
"Flee now, Vanwe!" ordered the Bard between clenched teeth as he arched his body to avoid Naiore’s murderous attempts to free herself. "Do not look back!" Without a sound, Vanwe did as she was told and slipped free, running blindly toward the safety of Léspheria and her bow. Just then, Naiore brought her dagger around low and struck for Menecin’s leg. An immediate burn informed him that she had succeeded in grazing his knee with the point of her blade. Grabbing for her wrist, Menecin sought to disarm her before she could do him more grievous hurt, but Naiore proved too quick. With a single stroke upwards, the dagger's keen edge severed her braids just above Menecin’s grasp. And as the Ravenor twisted gracefully away from him, Menecin was left with nothing more in his hands than rapidly unwinding ropes of gold silk.
"Do not suppose that you can prevail over me, Menecin," she whispered sternly. I know you far too well. I can show you peace... but you must follow me. "
"You foretold long ago that my passions would prove my defeat. Would you now bring it to pass?" asked Menecin as her plaits he let fall from his fingers. "You have never known peace, Naiore, nor would you acknowledge its worth. But the peace you would promise is only to be found in the Halls of Waiting. For years in Imladris I longed for even such peace, to sit in my shame beneath those of Vaire’s tapestries that proclaim your ignoble deeds, and thus feel closer to you. But even those days you have taken from me.
"Are you then grown greater than those profane of the Ainur after whom your heart follows, that you would hope to avoid their fate?" Menecin raised a scarred hand, as though intending to touch the Ravenor’s lips and coax the words he wanted to hear from them. "Still with a word you and I will leave this place, but do not ask this thing of me again." He looked over his shoulder toward the ranger, "He is but an unfortunate witness to something that should never have been known among the firstborn, and I will not dishonor you by doing what you would have me."
"You have changed very little Menecin," Naiore sighed. "And unfortunately you still allow those you call your friends to divide us! I do not know why you choose to cleave to them when it is plain that they disregard your wishes! Did you not tell Vanwe to leave?"
And turning, Menecin discovered that Vanwe indeed had not left them as he had urged, but stood now at Léspheria’s side. This posed difficult for him, but he could not ponder it long, for quite suddenly Vanwe grew uneasy, and Valaindon’s daughter quickly pulled her bowstring taught, pausing as she searched for a clear shot. For a fleeting moment Menecin felt as if she would slay him, but turning his head he saw in an instant the cause of their alarm. Naiore had raised her own weapon, and leaning into the grip as the arrow took flight, he knocked it off its course, so that the heavy dart, indeed one he recognized as his own, flew hissing among the grasses.
In great anger Menecin turned on Naiore, his eyes smoldering. Meeting his gaze, Naiore lowered her bow. A smile as cold as the morning frost touched her lovely features as she looked at him. Then, putting the bow aside, she drew one of her curved swords from its scabbard. Without hesitation Menecin took a step toward her.
"Whose life would you have, pray tell me?" he asked. "Léspheria’s? Vanwe’s? Or perhaps mine, in time." He watched her with piercing eyes.
Naiore did not respond, but listened impassively, as though indulging the outburst of a froward child.
Menecin continued angrily. "Know, Naiore, that the blood you would now spill is your own! This is the choice you have set before me and at long last I stand ready to accomplish it." Menecin drew his own sword and raised it in challenge to Naiore. Her expression remained untroubled, but Menecin knew that if she felt him incapable of harming her, then that was to serve to his advantage, for he knew her well.
"Menecin, you once held that there exists a deeper strength which fear could not corrupt, yet look at what you have let yourself become," said Naiore coolly, a predatory light growing in her clear eyes as she observed the small droplets of blood the arrow had freed, that were now trailing down his arm.
"I remember it well," he said gruffly. "In those days you preferred to surround yourself with far softer stuff." His war hardened eyes lowered as he searched her perfect frame for a weakness in her armor. "Truly I have never seen one arrayed for battle with such graceful elegance." A sad smile rose to his face, as his gaze returned to meet hers. He felt suddenly weary, and the sweat beaded upon on his brow though the evening was mild.
But Naiore was no longer in the mood to humor the bard, and in one flowing motion stepped forward, swinging her sword level so that Menecin was forced to spring back in order to avoid the blow. Quickly brandishing his own weapon he charged at her recklessly. After a few fruitless attempts it became clear to him that she anticipated his every stroke, countering him so effectively he thought that to overpower her was his sole option, for each feint and thrust was met with one of equal artistry and skill. It was only then that he became aware that his mind had begun to reel strangely. And his reactions slowed as he sought to ensnare her, so that he was forced to change his technique, and discovered that Naiore had only limited success when he moved less intuitively. Finally with great effort was he able to overwhelm her, sending the sword in her hand spinning to the ground. Even as this sudden sickness threatened to overtake him, he seized the opportunity that fate had given him and as she reached for her second sword, bridged the distance between them closing her in his embrace, so that her arms were held behind the quiver at her back, pinned close against his brigandine armor.
There breathless in the night, he dropped his sword clumsily as Naiore sought to free herself in vain, and holding her tight, he reached for the last of his knives, a thin and deadly bodkin. In the darkness he found two ornate arming points at her closely fitted waist. Slipping the bitter edge behind them he snapped their leather cords; so that Naiore’s armor lay open at her side. With trembling hand, he held his arm outstretched prepared to drive the dagger home. "Forgive me Vanwe," he cried glancing up quickly, struggling to focus through tear rimmed eyes, hoping against hope that his daughter had flown free of this unhappiness.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 03-18-2006 at 07:10 PM.
|11-18-2005, 06:46 AM||#342|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Events unfolded so fast that Vanwe was barely aware of what was happening. She had barely managed a faint smile of assurance for her cousin when her fathers broad shoulders blocked her view, she was pulled roughly forwards till both she and her mother where mere inches from the bards left shoulder. A stifled gasp escaped her lips as her father reached over his shoulder and threw the blade that landed at the rangers feet effectively halting his advance. What is his mind? she thought wildly, but her initial fears were dispelled and replaced with shock and horror as her father suddenly spun round and flew at them, obviously as stunned as she her mother clumsily tried to drag her backward attempting to avoid Menecin’s grasp. Then with a sharp jolt she felt her mother grip loosen.
“Flee now, Vanwe!” her father urged through clenched teeth as he strained to avoid Naiore’s attempts to free herself, “And don’t look back” he added. His words and actions frightened her but she did as he asked, running blindly towards Léspheria, were she fell into the elf’s waiting arms. “Are you alright? Are you hurt?” Léspheria instantly asked, a concerned frown arching her soft grey eyes. Vanwe did not answer as she looked back to where her mother and father were locked in terrifying battle. “This is not what I had hoped to find,” she sighed mournfully, “In truth I knew not what to expect, but not this.” A pained look reached her eyes as she wearily shook her head. “His fears drive him and will consume him if he lets them,” she whispered turning so that her tear filled eyes met her cousins.
“Do not worry so, our fears can also give us strength, you showed me this,” Lespheria counselled a gentle hand coming to rest assuredly on her left shoulder. But Vanwe merely sighed shaking her head, “I fear it is not so with him his pain is great, the madness has stifled his strength, anger and fear now guides his hand.” “He may yet survive you should not give up hope.” Lespheria urged “And then what!” Vanwe replied sharply shrugging free of her cousins consoling hand, “When guilt and grief consume him, will only death then free him?” a sullen silence ensued broken only by the sounds of battle before them.
Vanwe closed her eyes wearily contemplating the enormity of her own words, how had it come to this? What was the flaw that drove her mothers hatred of them? As her eyes slowly opened she was surprised to see her father looking at her his dark features etched with pain and sorrow, but even as her own sorrow again began to fill her heart, her eyes widened in horror behind her father her mother drew forth a dark bow and nocked an arrow firmly in place, she shifted uneasily and turned to Léspheria only to see that the elf had already again nocked her own bow and held the string taunt looking for a clear shot that could not be found. Turning back she gasped as her mothers arrow took flight, breathing only again when her father harmlessly knocked it aside. Her relief was short lived as in a fit of anger her father again turned on her mother.
“We must stop this!” she declared turning back to Léspheria and to her mild surprise the elf nodded her agreement, “What do you intend?” Vanwe thought for a moment, “They must face their fears and learn the truths hidden from them, but to do this I must get close. I do not have your gift nor my mothers, I sense a wrongness and I am able to heal.”
“You sensed fear as a wrongness?” Léspheria frowned, “Yes” Vanwe nodded, “ a discord within, that is how I sensed it in you and it is so with my father and will be the same with my mother no matter how deep she has chosen to bury it” she gestured towards her battling parents. “The ranger he is different though he does not bury his fears nor does he let them rule him, he uses them, awaking a greater strength born from the basic instincts such as survival and need.” she watched as Lespheria’s features softened and her gaze sought out the man she had fallen in love with. “Indeed we could learn a lot from men?” she sighed . “Perhaps” Vanwe replied still finding the rangers presence frightened her, perhaps it was that of all of them he was the only one who’s hands where not tied in this matter. She did not know why, but his presence unnerved her and reassured her at the same time.
“This thing, this answer my mother seeks you know it don’t you?” she asked shrugging off her doubts regarding the ranger. Léspheria looked at her for a long moment then nodded “I do, but it will not avail her it’s master, the one who planted this seed of discord is no longer, shut out beyond the mortal world by Manwe the greatest of the Valar after the final battle for the Silmarils, banished to the void without, alone with his own hatred and malice, he can never return while the Lords of the west remain enthroned.” Vanwe nodded, not fully understanding the extent of the history of her people, but sensing enough to be certain that Léspheria spoke the truth. Touched by her cousin’s trust and honesty she assumed to asked no more.
She had sensed the source of fears stirrings within Léspheria as she had helped the elf face them and she knew how to awaken it, this? she mused, is this the real power her mother seeks to understand, would this answer satisfy or would she go further. Perhaps even as far as try to dethrone these Valar these beings that Both Léspheria and her father hold in such reverence. To free fears creator for her own selfish needs, is her pride that great that she believes herself above all else? Vanwe felt almost sick at the thought as she watched her mothers dark figure counter and press her fathers attack, she frowned realising that his reactions were steadily slowing.
“The arrow” Léspheria uttered reading her thoughts. Yes, off course she mused, the one meant to subdue not kill. Her eyes searched the ground and found the dart nestled in the grasses immediately to their left. But as she moved to retrieve it Léspheria grasped her wrist and she turn to see that her father now stood with Naiore firmly in his embrace the moonlight glinting off the blade in his raised hand.
“No!” Vanwe cried already moving forward, her hand catching her fathers wrist mid-thrust, “the dart” she called back to Lespheria her eyes not moving from her fathers as the blade cut into her lower arm, “This is not the way, the pain and guilt will destroy you!” she whispered softly “A guilt that is not yours to bear, you loved her, there is no crime in that. You said yourself that the flaw was hers, she made her own choices!” her eyes softened with compassion and understanding as she broke down the walls of his defences and laid bear his fears and the truths that for so long had eluded him. “Please father, I need you!” she whispered pleadingly.
“It is too late for him my daughter the madness has taken him, he would kill us both. See now how he does not release the very blade that draws your blood! If you really love him you will end his suffering now and quickly.” But even as her mothers words cut into her thoughts her fathers pain turned to a tired weariness that etching his battle worn face. Finally aware of the blood trickling down his daughters arm and in a mix of shock and dismay he released his grip and the blade fell harmlessly to the ground. He Lowered his head partly in shame and partly due to the subduing effects of the potion mixing with his blood. Vanwe let go his wrist and brought up her hand to gentle raise his head, “I will need your strength for a little longer, do you think you can give it” she whispered softly gazing into his glazed eyes, he nodded and brought his other hand about Naoire’s waist holding her fast.
“You foolish ungrateful child, I give you life, made you strong by letting you experience and see the terrifying realities of this world. Yes I could have raised you myself, but you would not have survived !something darker would have used you as a weakness against me or made you their plaything if you proved weak, I saved you from that and this is how you would repay me!” Naiore issued through clenched teeth as she again struggling to break free of the bards embrace.
Vanwe‘s steady gaze shifted then to her mothers and she smiled gently “and for that life I am forever grateful,” she answered truthfully.
“I once feared and hated those forced by you to be my keepers, but now I realise that their actions were a mere result of their own fears and superstitions, a lack of understanding that I can now forgive. For what comparison did they have to show then any different, the only elf they had ever know was the great Naiore Dannan, Revennor of Mordor right hand to the devil himself!” sighed Vanwe heavily the truth of her own words sending a cold chill down her spin.
“I never wanted to believe the rumours, even though they hunted me relentlessly, Umbar, Gondor, Rohan they all had their stories each more terrifying than the last, but I had to believe that it was not true, I had to have hope! But they were all true or at least versions of the truth! I had hoped to find a family I thought I had lost, but instead I found myself. ” A small tear escaped her eyes as she smiled sympathetically.
“You accuse Léspheria of vengeance yet the thought is ever in your mind, you say you are more sinned against than sinner yet your own trail says otherwise, you make bargains with my father that you never intend to keep and this…” she said holding her left hand out so that Léspheria could place the dart in her open palm, her long fingers curling around the shaft she brought it before her mothers face, “this was never intended to kill, though the young merchants fears may have caused him to wish it!”
“No, my father is not dieing,” she whispered seeing her mothers anger mixed with a fleeing look of disappointment, “I am surprised you do not recognise it’s effect’s they are similar to a draught you once had me drink!” then with a quick flick of her wrist she scratched her mothers flesh with the tip, “I’m sorry” she whispered, but your sins are many and you must see the truth!”
Tossing the dart harmlessly aside and sensing both Léspheria and Amandur protectively at her left and right she tore away her mothers armour and placed her left hand on her mothers chest. Instantly she felt her mother throw up protective walls of defence in her mind, but it mattered not for Léspheria had shown her that there fears steamed much deeper and that’s what she searched for. Not finding what she was looking for she closed her eyes concentrating harder looking for the wrongness she had sensed in the others, but she could not find it, It has to be here! she thought pushing deeper within her mothers dark soul.
Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she staggered backwards her hand pulling away as if it had just been burnt, “No, that can not be!” she whispered her eyes widening as she stared unbelievably into her mothers grey eyes. “without fear, there can be no regret… no compassion…no true love,” she whispered to herself, tears now flowed freely from her eyes. “I am sorry, I hoped to help you but I can not, no one can.” she sighed, then turning to the Ranger she nodded “If apprehending Naiore Dannan is your charge then so be it, though I warn you she is without fear and nothing can be done in this world to fix that wrong.”
Then turning back she saw a strange gleeful look in her mothers eyes like she was close to finding the answers she sought, but pity filled Vanwe for she knew that her mother no matter what she believed would never truly understand the fear she lacked. “It is not a gift to be without fear,” she whispered her hand coming up to touch her mother’s bare cheek, “but a curse! You will never fully know or understand the beauty of life, the strengths bestowed on us in life for life.” with a final sigh of pity her hand slipped slowly away and she turn with a heavy heart and walk away to allow Amandur to take his charge.
|03-10-2006, 09:06 AM||#343|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
Naiore felt a sharp flush of anger as Menecin's grip tightened around her. Her armor now hung open on one side where he had cut the bindings, leaving her vulnerable to attack as she never had been before. Fury threatened to overpower her reason as now Vanwe thrust a hand into her clothing to lay it over Naiore’s heart, daring to make the attempt to read her emotions and, to Naiore’s mind, manhandling her like a common criminal. How dare they take such liberties! Daughter or no daughter, former lover or not, the two of them touched her as no one had ever dared to touch her before. She fought off a rush of murderous fury, knowing that she must think clearly now in order to free herself else all would be lost, but her pride reared up inside of her, all sulfur and brimstone, like a cornered dragon.
Pity! The stupid lot of them. Who were they to pity her? Had they no idea who they had before them? Naiore was the Ravener of Mordor. She had led fell armies and sat at the right hand of the Dark Lord himself. She had seen things, nay, perpetrated the very acts that haunted these petty creatures’ worst nightmares. And they had the audacity to pity her, to lecture her on the value of fear, whose only real value was as the answer to a philosophical, forever enigmatic riddle, which had eluded her for years. Fear had never been anything more than the root cause of their failure. Naiore narrowed her eyes and looked sharply from Léspheria to Vanwe and back again. That was why it had fascinated her so over the years, and now, her captors sought to gain strength from it. Such irony! And the irony would be even thicker as again they failed, captives of their fear.
“It is not a gift to be without fear,” whispered Vanwe. “But a curse! You will never fully know or understand the beauty of life, the strengths bestowed on us in life for life.” As Vanwe withdrew her hand and began to walk away, Naiore let out a mocking laugh.
“Since when have you become such a sage, daughter, that you think you may explain the complexities of knowledge or understanding to me?” she hissed. “You are like a mortal child and see things with a mortal child’s eyes. Yes, I saw to it that you were raised in darkness, but does not the memory of the dark make the sun shine so much brighter for you now? One must love both," she added, turning her fair eyes toward Léspheria. "And not be restrained from examining both by such a thing as fear.”
“And you!” Naiore now addressed Léspheria directly. “Have you seen the enemy? Does she trill her cold fingers down your spine even now as we speak? You know then that I am not the enemy. She is someone you carry with you in your heart. You cannot destroy her by striking me down, nor can you bring back your mother, whose doom you persist in laying at my feet. I see you have put aside your bow. That is good. Vengeance is dangerous game to play at, and you, my dear, haven’t the stomach for it.”
Her eyes still on her kinswoman, Naiore twisted gently under Menecin’s hold, testing his grip. He was weakening, his mind growing foggy under the influence of the drugged dart, his muscles less purposeful. She knew it would not take much to slip away from him, but she waited to make her move. With the ranger standing so close by and edging ever nearer, she knew she would not have much time and must make every second count if she had any hope of escape. She cast her eyes around for a weapon and a way out. Yes, yes, she could see both. Her own sword lay at her feet only slightly to her right, and, just a few paces beyond stood a riderless horse, perhaps Menecin's, the reins looped loosely over the saddle. The animal had wandered up at some point on its own. If she made a clean break from Menecin’s grasp, she could reach the beast and make her getaway. The serene smile returned to her face.
“Come closer, my kinswoman,” she said softly to Léspheria, a new idea having entered her mind. She would create a diversion. The few seconds she would gain while her remaining captors coped with their shock would be enough. Her beautiful eyes narrowed shrewdly. “Come closer that we may speak to one another as kin,” she continued. “Tell your ranger to stand down. We have much to talk about that would lie far beyond his understanding.”
Obediently, perhaps confident in her own righteousness, Léspheria moved in closer, her bow held low at her side. Her other hand raised in a mute signal to Amandur to keep his distance. Naiore’s smile widened as the ranger ceased his slow advance. It was the opportunity she had been counting upon. Catlike, Naiore sprang into motion. With a graceful turn of her slender body, she slipped from Menecin’s grasp, pushing him away from her with one hand, while the other hand reached out for the sword at her feet. His reactions clouded from the effects of the drugged dart, Menecin staggered and fell to the grassy forest floor, his dagger dropping from his hand as he fought in vain to right himself. Naiore closed her fingers around the hilt of her sword. With a chilling fluidity of motion, she raised the weapon and swung it toward Léspheria’s unsuspecting and unprotected throat.
|05-03-2006, 03:30 PM||#344|
Spirited Weaver of Fates
Amandur had not been idle in his slow advance, his keen warrior instincts cautioning him to be wary of this most cunning of foes. So while the women parleyed words he listened to those instincts and watched intently the bard and his enchantingly dangerous prisoner. So it was that he noted the beads of sweat rolling down the bards face as he doggedly tried to blinked away the effects of the drug stealing at his strength and clarity. It was too that he caught the slight twisting of Naiore as she also came to realise the bards weakening hold. She was biding her time! He knew, waiting like most accomplished warrior’s for the most opportune moment, then she would make her move.
In that very instant he could not help but admire her skill and cunning, in some other life she may have made a very valuable ally, but as it was she was the enemy and he did not forget this as he stole about the elf’s reach. Her sword lay glittering in the starlight close to her feet and in easy reach, she would make for it when the chance arose. Menecin’s horse also stood nearby fully accessible and ready for a quick and easy get away, if needed or intended.
It was then when Naiore with false civility bade her cousin come close that Amandur knew the time had come. He tested the grip of his sword in his right hand drawing his dagger with his left as he continued his advance, only to be halted by the raised hand of Léspheria. He stopped but only to allow Naiore to relax in her believe that her design was assured! Her Arrogance would be her mistake! He thought coolly.
So it was as Naiore graciously slipped from the bards grasp and the others hesitated in the resultant confusion Amandur moved, with a swiftness that belied his size he cutting in front of Léspheria forcing her back as he positioned himself, sword raised ready to receive the Ravenor blow.
Sharp and heavy it came crashing off his blade with an almost deafening ring, surprised to find metal and not the soft flesh of her cousin’s throat, as she had planned Naiore hesitated. Amandur knew he had but only and instant and he acted pushing down forcing her weapon to the ground, but he did not stop there he could not let her regain her composer, so pulling back quickly he smashed his elbow into her pretty face sending her stumbling back, then without so much as a pause he lunged with his left hand and it was done!
He watched detached as Naiore, blood still flowing freely from her nose looked down in stunned disbelief at the black hilt of the dagger protruding from her left breast, ‘how can this be? I the Ravenor of Mordor defeated by…this…this….mere Mortal….’ she looked up at him her eye’s glittering one last time with a malevolent hatred and anger and as she fell slowly into death she raised her hand and with the last of her strength she struck out at the ranger, a glancing blow that caught his sword arm cutting it to the bone.
Dropping his sword and grasping at his wound Amandur fell to his knees leaning over the lifeless corpse of the elf once believed to be one of the last great threats to Middle earth!
“One must love both”
Lespheria shivered as a chilling tingle ran down the length of her spine, The thought of embracing the darkness with the light…the discord with the harmony seemed totally abhorrent to her and again her fears washed over her , Vanwe had opened her to them and shown her truth….but what if…no she would not entertain such thoughts, the choice was always hers.
“And not be restrained from examining both by such a thing as fear.”
She looked up then to find Naiore eyeing her intently, those deep emerald pools filled with unbridled loathing and contempt . did she know... did she sense…Then as if in answer to those unspoken questions Naiore addressed her directly.
“Have you seen the enemy? Does she trill her cold fingers down your spine even now as we speak?” Lespheria resisted the urge to shiver as another cold chill took her, hoping that none of the effort showed on her face, but the sudden light and subtly curve of the other woman’s mouth said that it had.
“You know that I am not the enemy.” 'Not true!' She thought bitterly, 'The choice was always hers!'
“She is someone you carry in your heart. You cannot control her by striking me down, nor can you bring back your mother, whose doom you persist in laying at my feet.” Lespheria knew this but hearing it from Naiore irked at her soul , if it was the elf’s intent to anger her it was working. Naiore still could not see, yes it was true it could not be control, not completely but neither could it control, yes it could coheres, tempt or even deceive, but never control the choice inevitably was always yours, a remedy to the greatest of sins, she thought grimly.
“I see you have put aside your bow. That is good. Vengeance is a dangerous game to play at, and you, my dear, haven’t the stomach for it.” If Naiore’s words before had irked her these now infuriated her… Haven’t the stomach…does she think I am afraid…. Does she think I would not….her knuckles whitened as she gripped the bow tightly, but still she did not raise it. No, she would not be goaded so.
There were still things Naiore could tell her, things she would know that no others would…things….. Naiore’s sudden smile distracted her from her thoughts, unsettled her casting suspicion as Naiore bade her come closer. She hesitated a moment. Apart from Amandur Naiore was the last to speak with her mother alive, what was it that Valaindon knew, what was it that Naiore so ardently wanted that she did not let the woman die no matter how close to death she took her, what other secrets had they shared?
“Come closer that we may speak to one another as kin,”
She considered Naiore a moment longer. The woman was dangerous and not to be trusted she knew, but the lure was enough. Besides Menecin held her and Amandur was close by, Naiore was not going anywhere, what harm would there be in just speaking to her, perhaps she would even learn something useful.
“Tell your ranger to stand down. We have much to talk about that would lie far beyond his understanding.”
She had barely noticed Amandur’s slow advance , but curiosity now had her in its throws and moving closer, she raise a hand in muted signal to the ranger, glancing only briefly to see that he had stopped. A mistake, and in that instance she realised it, sensing too late the other elf’s satisfaction. Naiore’s hands were round the hilt of the fallen sword before even she thought to react. Too close for her bow to be any use she let it fall and reached for her sword, but before she could even curl her long fingers around the hilt she felt the wind knocked out of her and she fell to the ground.
Unsure of what had just happened she scrambled backwards, struggling to her feet and ignoring the fresh bruising to her ribs, she reached for her sword pulling it free. Looking up in time only to see Amandur plunge his left hand towards Naiore’s chest.
Her eyes widened as the ranger stepped back a pace and she could see the black hilt of the dagger protruding from Naiore’s breast. she watched detached as the stunned elf stared down at it disbelievingly and sensed the roiling anger and hatred as her eyes rose to take in the one who had defeated her. Even as Naiore mustered the last of her strength to strike out at the Ranger, Lespheria gasped Naiore’s blade cut deep into Amandur’s right shoulder and as they both fell she was certain that through her tears she saw Naiore look at her with that ever present serene smile curving her blood covered lips as she finally fell into death. She shivered and for a second she merely stood there in stunned silence. It was finally over, the bonds that tied them to Naiore were finally severed.
After she had overcome the initial confusion of her mothers distraction Vanwe had gone to her father. He was still struggling to get his feet when she knelt beside him. “Father are you hurt?” she whispered anxiously, laying a restraining hand on his shoulder.
His shoulders slumped in defeated resignation as he shook his head, “I’m sorry my child I could not hold her….I tried…you should have…” but he did not finish that thought and instead sighed deeply. Then looking up at Vanwe he smiled, not the thin and weary smile she had seen in the past but the warm and loving sort that most fathers bestowed on their precious daughters from time to time, filled with pride and warmth. “Oh My Daughter if we are to die this day know that I am ever glad that our paths have crossed and proud as any father to know that without any other help but your own you have grown into a kind and virtuous woman.”
“Now hush,” Vanwe frowned “That is the drug talking, we are not done for yet and if you hold still a bit I can….” but she did not get a chance to finish as her father suddenly let out a stunned gasp, his eyes widened as he stared at something behind her. She turned slowly half expecting to find Naiore right on top of them but what she saw suddenly turned her blood cold and drained the colour from her cheeks.
It was her mother, but not so close, yet dark against the shadow of the first line of silver peeking out over the eastern horizon. The hilt of a Dagger sticking out from her chest as she fell forwards. Vanwe turned away then burying her face in her fathers chest as hot wet tears ran down her pale cheeks, she had know in her heart that there had been no hope for her mother and had resolved not to cry when the time came, but the grief and pain was too real and as her father wrapped his arms around her consolingly she wept openly and freely, for he at least would understand her loss, if others did not.
Last edited by piosenniel; 03-01-2007 at 08:51 PM.
|05-13-2006, 08:44 AM||#345|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
All was quiet, as Menecin stared blankly at the utter stillness of Naiore. The light breeze, which had risen with the approach of dawn, descended from the mountains riffling the dead elf’s ragged hair with gentle playfulness, adding to the emptiness that gaped inside the bard’s chest. He harbored no doubts then, knowing from that very emptiness that she was no more among them.
But the stillness of the living was a fleeting thing, for as they each realized that this threat had been turned aside not only from them, but all they held dear, they quickly came to life again. Léspheria hurried to Amandur, as he knelt beside the elf’s body, and Vanwe, Vanwe turned and clung to her father, her thickly falling tears, a balm to his sorrow, effectively washing away his sense of isolation. He wrapped his arms about her, for truly she needed him.
Grateful he was to his daughter for this, yet not only this. For when he had stood with Naiore, grappling with his own heart as much as with the Ravenor, Vanwe had brought a measure of light and order to his darkened mind. He had realized that his place was neither that of Naiore’s intercessor nor executioner, as long as his heart was governed by guilt. No more then did Menecin seek Naiore’s life, but obediently he had held the Ravennor as fast as his unruly muscles would permit. And when Vanwe’s influence had so steadied him, his daughter did not leave him undefended. Despite Naiore’s claim that Menecin intended to kill them both, Vanwe had returned his dagger without fear, though her arm ran scarlet from it. Soon after that Menecin had felt Naiore’s body stiffen in her pride, as Vanwe sought for her own particular understanding of her mother, finding only dismay.
But now Naiore was dead, and in the security of his sheltering arms, Vanwe released a sadness of heart that pulled at Menecin, so that he could think of little else. After a moment he lifted his grieving daughter’s chin, speaking softly to her. “Don’t let her cast an enduring shadow across your life, my daughter. It is a cleansing wind comes from the west, and the morning speaks to me of a new beginning. Do you not see it?” Vanwe raised head at this, and her father with a trembling thumb, wiped the tears from her cheek. “The past must recede with her.”
“A beginning?” Vanwe asked cautiously, renewed apprehension creasing her brow. “But where will that new beginning take you?”
Her father looked toward the mountains as though he would look through them. “I will no longer follow her. It is clear that my place is with you now, on this side of the Sundering Seas.” Turning to her, his eyes where full of concern. “But you and I, we must find the strength to let our regret be your mother’s traveling companion. We must unravel these ties we are bound with, for they will cripple us if we hold them too tightly, thinking always of what should have been.” Menecin tried once more to pull his feet under him in order to stand. A frown a disappointment visited his face. “But see now, apparently it is too late for me,” he announced with a weak laugh. “Your father has become lame, and a burden for the healers!”
“No, no,” Vanwe said quickly, wiping the dampness from her face as she stood. “You mustn't think that! It is only the drug.” Placing her hand under her father’s arm, she explained as she assisted him, “Here I will help you, but do not move too suddenly. If Avanill's mixture is anything like the one whose effects I know, you must move slowly and without hurry if your legs are to obey you. After a few attempts, and under Vanwe’s direction, Menecin rose unsteadily to his feet. Greatly relieved, though his head swam from the effort, the bard smiled again at his daughter, admitting that Avanill had done his work well, and rueing the fact that he had not lived to see it or undo it.
Vanwe’s eyes drifted to where she knew the merchant’s body lay in the shadows, and Menecin seeing her, placed his hands on her shoulders “Oh my daughter, all my life has been spent looking for glimmers of light in the midst of darkness and composing verse telling of them. Such things I viewed as proof of the sovereignty of the father of us all, for they shone bright against this backdrop of dissonance. But never have I found such a jewel as you. Of those traits lacking in the Lady Dannan, you have been given a double portion, and you are all the proof I require. Your mother named you Vanwe, but Mírëasëa shall be your father name, for your kindness is to be treasured, always.
“Come, help me to your mother side, that I might bid her farewell.”
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 03-01-2007 at 05:44 PM.
|10-09-2006, 03:04 PM||#346|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
As the sun’s disk rose out of the east and the shadows of the night fled, the morning light found Léspheria and Vanwe at Amandur’s side, tending to the grievous wound that had been Naiore’s parting blow to the man. And while in concert the two elves labored to heal the ranger’s sword arm, Menecin did not trouble them, but rather he moved about, working to master his peculiar condition, as he slowly prepared the bodies of Naiore and the merchant as best he could.
Her face washed, Naiore’s ageless form looked pale and vacant despite the rich raiment and stern expression she wore. And her familiar black leather armor, no more to inspire dread, now hung securely fastened to the same horse that had borne their owner across the skirts of the mountains. These stained tokens of Naiore’s defeat the elf would have accompany them on their return.
A stone throw away lay Avanill, his face hidden beneath a dark shroud. For the bard had removed the ranger’s mantle from the corpse, choosing rather the young man’s cloak of darkest blue, to wrap tightly about him. Naiore’s one time hireling had fallen far from the green hills of his home in Pinnath Gelin, but further yet in spirit was he from the ill-fated day in Bree when he joined the Ravenor, unwittingly sealing his doom.
With Amandur’s cloak draped over one arm, Menecin finished gathering the weapons strewn about, bringing the last of them to the greensward where the ranger sat with his two caregivers. Removing the cloak, he placed it beside the man, laying the dagger that proved fatal to Naiore there also. But seeing it, Amandur caught the bard’s arm, for now that the crisis had passed he would know what was in the elf’s heart.
Perceiving Amandur’s concern, a gentle smile rose to the bard’s lips as he assured the ranger that he held no ill will toward him, but only gratitude, and he craved only forgiveness for his own actions. Indeed, the Lady Dannan had brought about her own death, by forcing the ranger to act quickly, so that Léspheria might remain unsullied. Menecin in truth believed that Naiore’s final stroke had been aimed at Léspheria’s heart as much as at the ranger. And with that thought, his eyes met those of Naiore’s kinswoman and he expressed his earnest hope that the Lady Dannan had not been successful in this. Léspheria let her eyes fall toward the ranger in quiet contemplation, before she answered. The Ravennor had no triumph to claim in her, she declared, looking back to the Bard who smiled broadly at her words.
He then moved to Vanwe’s side as she busied herself binding Amandur’s arm. Crouching beside the elf maid, he removed from the crook of his arm the two finely wrought Noldorian swords that had been her mother’s, presenting her with them. Beautifully they shone, gleaming and bright in the clear morning air. And seeing them, the Ravennor’s daughter quickly shook her head, refusing to take possession of them. And without a glance to her father’s face, for fear that she might offend, she returned to her work. But rather the bard seemed pleased that his daughter had declined to keep the swords for her own, and he caressed her shoulder reassuringly before rising to deposit them carefully alongside Naiore’s armor.
Avanill’s body they buried that morning, as was befitting his change of heart, but Naiore’s they burned. Menecin wouldn't move from beside her pyre until it had burned low and he had taken all that remained pouring it into the Gladden where it dispersed, swirling in the murky, slow moving current while he watched in silence.
It was midday before they left that place, hoping to gain a few miles before making camp at the foot of the mountains. But their hearts were less burdened now, all the fragile screens of defense that had been vital when seeking out the Ravennor, were now drawn aside. And the chill heaviness covering the small company had swiftly disappeared, so that they rode easily until nightfall, when they deemed the horses would need to rest. And so it went along their way, all were eager to return to Imladris, and they stopped only briefly when they must.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 03-01-2007 at 05:52 PM.
|12-28-2006, 10:09 AM||#347|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
It was as Gilly stood beside the ancient wall of the garden, picking those soothingly fragrant blossoms that Toby’s caretakers had suggested she gather for his bedside, that she saw an elf breeze past her. Indeed she would not even have known this much had she not paused to sniff the sweet smelling flower in her hand, so quiet and quick was his passing. But as it was, she saw the scout’s return quite clearly, hurriedly winding his way through the garden to the chamber where earlier in the day, Elladan and Elrohir had summoned Benia and Dúlrain, and where the four still sat immersed in somber discussions. Only the swaying branches continued to betray the fleeting presence, hinting at the hurried atmosphere that enveloped the valley.
Indeed, they all had become aware of that atmosphere even as they had neared the elven refuge the previous evening. For while they were descending through the high mountains, an elf had appeared out of the swirling mist, to join them on their way. Dúlrain had seemed relieved as he spoke at length with the newcomer in an elven tongue, while together they threaded their way down the steep pass. Toby was still very weak, and when they where forced to rest, for the hobbit could go no longer, the elf had run on ahead of them, quickly bringing their tidings to the lords of Imladris.
Gilly learned afterward, that when Dúlrain’s horse, bearing the bodies of the two fallen rangers, had appeared on their borders, Elrond’s sons had straightaway resolved to send aid to the remaining company that still pursued the Ravennor. But they would not leave Imladris unguarded. It was just two days ago that Fintár had returned with his forces after both rangers and elves had run the remnant of orcs out of the valley. Up the River Bruinen they had driven them and deep into the northern mountains close upon the Mitheithel. After only a day’s rest, a core group were now preparing themselves to move south with Elladan riding at their head.
But when the report reached them that the four companions drew near the sheltering valley, the brothers delayed their plans, eager to take into account what they could learn from the travelers. They seemed particularly interested in the remains of the mithril book. And as the healers had told Gilly and Toby this morning, the lights in the great library had burned all through the night, as the brothers searched through tome and scroll for mention of the book.
Beyond that, Gilly knew nothing. Dúlrain and Benia had been called away long before the hobbit had managed to roll out from under her soft coverlet and pad down the corridor, contenting herself to check on Toby. But finding him sitting propped up on an ample supply of pillows, eating his breakfast; she found Master Longholes the very picture of leisure, so much better he looked. Stationing herself at his bedside all the same, she passed the morning filling him in on what he’d need to know if he were to settle in Bywater - including a number of lengthy and humorous asides - and straightening his bedclothes when they needed it. At length Celebnariel suggested that the patient should try to sleep. Even then, Gilly remained, saying that she would not peep until he woke again. But Toby, acknowledging her good intentions remained skeptical, and laughingly he confided to the elves that he could not sleep peacefully with Mrs. Banks perched like a hawk ready to swoop down and attack any rumple in the blankets that he cared to make. And so the healers quickly devised a plan to send her on her present mission to the garden. Mind, it was not an entirely useless errand. She was told that the flowers did have some sort of special property, and she enjoyed the beautiful surroundings even though she found herself reluctant to stray to their further reaches, as Miss Benia had done.
And so, having been encouraged not to hurry, though she knew the valley to be all a-bustle around her, she thought about her return home as she picked the blossoms, and she thought too, with a twinge of trepidation, about Mother Banks. She could only imagine what her mother-in-law would find to say upon her return. But Gilly realized in her heart, that if she could fight an orc she could very well contend with a shrew. And that shrew, though her words often stung, was not the least bit evil. Gilly had seen what real evil did.
She had to admit that full grown as she was; she had still learned a lesson or two in the last few weeks, and not altogether painlessly. True she and Miss Benia seemed no worse off than on the day of their reunion at the Forsaken Inn, and fully thankful she was that both of them were all in one piece, but Mr. Kaldir…. What a hard lesson. It was just days ago she had upbraided him here in this place. And it seemed a lifetime since she had viewed him as evil personified, just reeking of sinister malice as he sat there at the bottom of the staircase, with his ropes and threatening aspect, waiting for poor Miss Benia to show her face. But she knew now, that the man had not been evil. He was the result of evil. And it had hung about him as thick as smoke, so that he seemed seeped in it. Dangerous he had been, to be sure, but not evil. Gilly shook her head sadly as she dropped the flower in the basket she held in the crook of her arm. She would miss him tremendously.
All through the morning the hobbit had allowed herself to revel in a measure of gladness until now, thinking only of Benia and Dúlrain’s happiness and knowing that even if Naiore hadn’t been caught, she at least was rapidly heading far away. But remembering her friend, it dawned on her that that was just when Kaldir had been so mistreated. Naiore and Kaldir both had been so very far away, and life in these parts had for a short time gone on as if nothing was wrong. And yet things were terribly wrong, and eventually everything had ended up at her own back gate, so to speak. No wonder Dúlrain had been pleased when he heard that the elves were intending to send help. He understood better than anyone, they could not afford to leave things as they were once again.
But what had changed their minds? She looked back toward the gracefully arching buildings that nestled in the valley. Back when she had first found out that Léspheria, Vanwe and Menecin rode with Amandur; Gilly had considered it curious that the wise leaders of Imladris had chosen to send as their representatives, only two maids and an odd gentleman, who she gathered was touched in the head. But when she had pressed Dúlrain about this, trying to understand why they had not sent even one of their many men-at-arms, he had simply said that the elves had their own reasons that ran deeply into their past. Those that had chosen to pursue Naiore had done so of their own volition. And since the ranger had accepted it easily, so then had the hobbit. But now she wondered, had the elves also learned something new, just as she had?
And as she puzzled over what this could be, Gilly saw a familiar figure hurry down the same flight of steps the scout had ascended not ten minutes before. It was Miss Benia, and she was rushing toward the garden. Gilly put down her basket and waved her arm over her head so that Miss Benia could locate her among the abundant greenery, all the while fearing some bad news had arrived. And the closer the southern woman came; the more the hobbit convinced herself that this was the case, for her friend seemed quite anxious to reach her, as she whisked gracefully past stately stones and around the ancient bushes.
“The others are returning, Gilly!” Benia called out as soon as she was within earshot. “A watchmen has spied them descending the mountain.”
“What others?” Gilly asked, though she had already guessed who it was that Benia referred to. “Amandur and those others?” she questioned. And seeing her friend’s nod, she turned an incredulous face toward the craggy peaks behind them. “Returning here? But weren’t they to go straight to Minas Tirith?” she continued, her burgeoning multitude of questions spilling out unchecked. “I reckon that the watchman could be wrong, don’t you? And where is Mr. Dúlrain?” She added suddenly ill at ease in the garden, as she wondered if the approaching travelers were chasing someone, or perhaps where being chased themselves. Gently taking hold of Benia’s arm, the hobbit tried to guide her, slowly edging her back toward the security of the buildings.
“No Gilly, the watchman has made no mistake. It is Amandur and Léspheria and two of the three that had set out with them,” Benia replied. Moving easily forward, she picked up the basket that lay on the moss, and attempted to return it to the hobbit who was looking longingly far across the garden to the stairway and the door. “Don’t worry he will not be long,” Benia assured her. “The lords Elladan and Elrohir, are only now speaking to him of the books whose covers he carried here. And of them they said they know precious little. But they have promised to join us shortly, so that they might also greet their guests when they arrive.” And just as she spoke, a group of elves emerged from the rambling house, to stride past them with their fine long bows slung over their shoulders, and Gilly relaxed just a bit.
“Even so, Miss Benia, I’d don’t like the idea much of your being out this far in the garden. We’ve been in this place before, and I hope that I’ve learned a thing or two since then. One of them is that gardens aren’t no place for Miss Benia Nightshade to tarry about in! No not at all, not as long as that Naiore person is out and about! It ain’t safe, no matter how keen eyed those elves are.”
Benia smiled at the staunch little matron before her. “If it will make you feel better, I would be only too happy wait for Dúlrain, before venturing any further.”
“Ah, that does my heart good to hear, in so many respects!” Gilly replied. “But if we were to wait a just bit further back, that would so very much better.” Then taking up Benia’s arm once again, she sought to guide her out of the garden altogether.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 03-01-2007 at 06:06 PM.
|05-12-2007, 01:31 PM||#348|
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
As Benia let Gilly lead her back inside to a quiet corner where they could await the arrival of Amandur's party in safety, she knew that her friend remained haunted by the events that had been set into motion mere days earlier in that very garden. Benia was haunted by them too, knowing full well that her own naive carelessness in that garden had led to the deaths of two, possibly more now, good men. In fact, she was happy to escape the beauty of the garden, although not for the same reasons as her friend. While Gilly was concerned for their safety, for Benia, the place simply harbored too many ghosts, chief among them a tall man with pale blue eyes and a shattered face.
Upon returning to Imladris with Gilly, Toby Longholes, and Dúlrain, Benia had discovered that the Elves had been quick about laying the two Rangers to rest in the halls below the foundations of the Last Homely House, entombing them alongside their own battle-slain kin. As those tragically touched by an evil of Elven making, the Elven folk had claimed both Kaldir and Rauthain as their own and provided for them in death. On the eve of the first day, Benia had slipped away to visit Kaldir’s grave.
It was in a cool and quiet place, at the end of a short hallway, unmarked other than by a simple, yet stately white marble slab that bore no inscription other than his name, Westernesse, and the dates that bound his life at either end like parentheses. What else was left to be said? How could all the pain, the strength, and the horror that had been Kaldir in life ever be distilled into a line or two of doggerel etched upon a tombstone? She knew that to the Elven Bards who would compose the song cycles that told the Saga of Naiore, Kaldir would be little more than an aside, his part in her story, ultimately, a small one. The affairs of Elves were of a different fabric and, to them, a man’s life bore little significance, like the mere shadow of a cloud, passing windborne over the face of the sun. To Benia, however, it was different.
She stood there for a long time, tracing her fingers over the freshly carved letters of his name. She would not forget. Finally, she reached into her pocket and closed her fist around the spangled chain that she had worn for so long across her cheek, that Naiore had ripped from its place and left for a clue that would lead Kaldir to his death. Dúlrain had returned it to her as they had traveled across country, and it still bore traces of Kaldir’s blood. Taking it from her pocket, she smoothed it out and laid it across the narrow ledge that ran below the tomb’s inscription, hoping to leave it for him as a token that she would never forget him. She would write a song for him, too, if the Elven bards would not, and she would sing it at dusk on evenings when the air was clear and the breeze blew in the direction of Imladris. Perhaps then he would hear it and know that she had not forgotten.
Now, sitting with Gilly, she waited anxiously for the return of the other travelers, hoping that they brought with them tidings of Naiore’s demise. The notion that Elven Witch still lived and that her pursuers returned home in defeat sat ill with her. Unconsciously, she reached over and squeezed Gilly’s hand. If Naiore still lived, then Dúlrain would undoubtedly rejoin his captain for the continuance of the hunt. He and Benia would marry as planned, yes, but any hopes for a cottage in the Ranger kingdom of Arthedain would be delayed, as would any hope of starting a family. Although in the field following the death of Barrold Ferny, she had counseled Dúlrain rather passionately against the pursuit of revenge, she had since come around to the decision that should Dúlrain follow his duty and go off again in the pursuit of the Witch, she would go, too. Left to her own devices and with the help of her tribal kinsmen, scattered and hunted though they were, there was surely something she could do to help. What she sought, however, would not be revenge but expiation for her own tragic blunders. It would be a hard sell to Dúlrain, who harbored the expectation that she would sit in Imladris or elsewhere and await his return, but she had not entirely made up her mind whether even to tell him of her plans. After all, he could scarcely forbid what he did not know about.
As though reading her mind, or perhaps merely responding to the pressure of Benia’s hand, Gilly gave her a studied look. “What will you do?” asked the hobbit lady quietly.
“If she has escaped?”
Benia shrugged. “I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “I suppose it depends on what happens next. I would like to travel with you as far as the edge of The Shire to see that you are delivered home safely to your husband and boys, for I imagine you will be heading home, regardless. I should very much like to apologize to your loved ones for dragging you away on this misadventure and to tell them what a heroine you are.” Benia gave her friend a gentle smile. “For I know you well enough to know that, left to your own telling, you would play down your role to that of a mere piece of baggage with passable cooking skills.”
“Oh, no!” protested Gilly, laughing. “I shall be the very image of old Bullroarer Took! Riding about on great, snorting horses and slaying orcs left and right with naught but a frying pan and a paring knife!”
Benia laughed as well. “Tease if you must, Gilly, but you are a heroine and an exceptionally brave hobbit.”
“No,” rejoined Gilly. “A very average hobbit, I’m afraid, who was terrified nearly every step of the way. I wrack my brains and can scarcely come up with a single moment when I didn’t believe that the next moment might be my last.”
“Nonetheless,” Benia reminded her. “I shall never forget the way you followed Kaldir into that grove of trees, not knowing who or what awaited in their shadows, just as the orcs were closing in and we were making that last desperate dash for the stair. It was surely one of the most selfless acts of bravery as I have ever seen.”
“Well,” grumbled Gilly. “I couldn’t very well let him go in there all alone.”
“Of course not.” Benia was just opening her mouth to remind Gilly of yet another stalwart act of courage when she was stopped by the arrival of Dúlrain, who had jogged up from the direction of Elrohir and Elladan’s counsel chambers.
“So they have returned!” he said slightly out of breath, but pausing long enough to give his beloved an affectionate kiss on the cheek. When the women had both acknowledged it was true, he nodded and moved decisively in the direction of the door. “We should go forth to meet them.”
“We should indeed,” answered Benia, rising. She was an eager as anyone to know the fate of the Ravener, since so many of her future plans depended on the success -- or the lack thereof -- of the returning party’s grim mission. She looked questioningly toward Gilly, who shook her head.
“No,” the hobbit said softly and picked up the basket of flowers she had gathered in the garden. “I really should be getting these blossoms back to the healers before they are completely wilted and useless. I’m sure the healers are already beginning to wonder what has become of me as it is. Besides, Toby may be awake again by now and need something. My guess is that I’ll find out more sooner than later, anyway, what has become of that awful Elf.”
Once Benia had re-assured her friend that she would seek her out and tell her all tidings as soon as they were known, the two took leave of one another, Gilly scurrying off in the direction of the Halls of Healing, while Benia followed Dúlrain outside. By the time they arrived at the top of the stair, the travelers had already gained the lower end and were slowly ascending. Benia stayed back with a party of Elves who had assembled at the top as a welcoming party while Dúlrain bounded down the stairs to greet his weary captain. Reading the facial expressions of the returning party, Benia found it difficult to determine at first whether the mission had been a success or a failure, but, as they grew closer she saw that, while weary and emotionally drained, they carried about them an aura of calmness and peace that told her all that she needed to know. The deed was done. A flood of relief swept through Benia’s slender frame. It was over.
Last edited by Ealasaide; 05-13-2007 at 09:45 PM.
|11-27-2007, 11:34 AM||#349|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Several days after the travelers’ return, the Lord's of Imladris held what when measured by the yardstick of hobbit sensibilities, was a very grand feast indeed. The stately hall, which Gilly had made a point to visit several times through out the day, had been transformed into an altogether warmer, livelier place once the night drew itself close about the valley. Not only were the members of Elrohir and Elladan’s household to be found there, but most of its guards and guests as well. In fact everyone who happened to be in close proximity to the refuge seemed to be milling about. Gilly naturally assumed that she and Miss Benia had been called to a victory celebration of sorts, one that had been put off until all were safe or hale enough to enjoy themselves properly; or perhaps it was a farewell party, for several of the many guests who had descended from the Misty Mountains over the last week or so, were making there preparations to depart, both hobbits included. But whatever the reason for the gathering, Gilly sat in a corner, taking in all the fineness of it. And savoring it with all her senses, she concluded with a great degree of satisfaction that the tales old Mr. Baggins had told long ago weren't half as fanciful as she had imagined them to be.
Had this been the Shire, given the quality of the available fare she had sampled at supper, she would have been more apt to find her way to the kitchen upon cleaning her plate, in hopes of gleaning what she could from such excellent cooks. And perhaps from that vantage point, she would have listened to the hum of conversation in the other room. But as it was, Gilly was held mesmerized, captivated by the music and the lilting tongues whose babble she did not understand in the least, but which she quite liked the sound of. Admiring the brilliant company, and listening to the many songs played in the course of the evening, her eyes frequently wandered to the dais that lay at the other end of the room, to the table Elrond's sons had commanded to be set there.
Such folk there were all about her! Beautiful in a strange sort of way, tall and strong they all seemed, and old, though they weren't old at all to look at them. But the most magnificent were seated at the head table, and there was Miss Benia presently ensconced among them, deep in conversation. Wouldn’t Jack Nightshade be proud of his daughter! The better part of an hour had past since Dúlrain had successfully persuaded her to come away from the quiet corner Gilly still occupied, saying that Elrohir wished her to be introduced to a sort of historian, a minstrel. And though the ranger tried most gallantly to have the hobbit accompany her, he could not tempt Gilly away from her chosen chair. The hall was not the place for her she protested, let alone a seat anywhere near the dais. And what could she possibly have to say of worth? Gilly simply could not imagine engaging in small talk with an elf of stature, be they whole elf or part. And she dismissed the idea without a second thought, saying that she would only put them all to sleep with her blather, nodding toward Toby to emphasize her point. Mr. Longholes, who had settled in comfortably early on, taking a chair beside his fellow hobbit and had proceeding to roundly enjoy every indulgence his elven caretakers had afforded him, snorted loudly in his sleep as if to validate Gilly's assessment. It had been some time since he had tucked his pipe back into his pocket. Lulled into the depths of quiet contentment his head had soon nodded in slumber. Now he was far a field in his dreams, waking for neither song nor story. Not even to dispute Mrs. Banks' theory.
Left to her own devices, Gilly passed her time in quiet observation, feeling much like a contented spider in her shadowy corner, until her attention was caught by Miss Benia, whose amber glance had begun flitting here and there throughout the hall, avoiding the stare of the tall and questionable looking fellow who sat beside her. And though this same elf seemed to be held in high regard, seated as he was at the head table, Gilly began to have serious doubts about him. Her eyes narrowed, wasn't he the mad fellow who had until recently been locked behind a stoutly guarded door? What could he possibly be saying that might trouble Miss Benia so? After questioning one of the attendants, her doubts where multiplied substantially by what she learned. "He was in the old days a pupil of Maglor," the elf whispered with reverence, before adding almost as an afterthought, "and sadly, a long time companion of Naiore's". The hobbit's eyes widened instantly at this, and she was full of regret for not following Dúlrain’s leading. Horrified she stood up, a stricken expression replacing that of concern. But the attendant assessing the effect of his disclosure was quick to reassure her. “Both associations were long ago, rest assured. Menecin would brook no part in Naiore's more recent interests. You and your friends are quite safe here.”
“I have no doubt that it was extremely far in the past, if an elf says so,” Gilly declared a bit too briskly. “But from what very little I know of him, keeping the past alive is his business.” Then after craning her head to the left in order to find a clear view through the forest of people, she turned back to the elf beside her and whispered conspiratorially, “He wouldn’t be a vengeful sort, would he?” She hadn't thought of that before, but it was a worry. And family…oh dear! Just what sort of stock did Naiore come from exactly? The apple falls close to the tree they say, and though Naiore had seemed a highly peculiar sort, one could never be too careful. She didn't relish the idea of any more harm coming to her friends, or her own family for that matter. "Did the Lady Dannan have any relatives?" she asked, bracing herself for the worst.
The attendant scanned the room. "There," he said gesturing toward where Léspheria and Vanwe spoke with Lords Elrohir and Elladan. "Save two, that is all that is left now of the house of Finarfin, and I think you must know of them already. The Lady Léspheria Denfëa does have a twin brother, Lóthaniel, who you would not have met. The other is the sister of My Lords Elrohir and Elladan, Arwen Undómiel who now lives in Minas Tirith. But if there are any others of close kinship left on these shores, I have no knowledge of it."
"Is that so?" the hobbit mused aloud. Now Gilly had thought Léspheria a well balanced and disciplined person, and so the attribute was easily extended to her brother, but to learn that the Queen was a relative as well! No wonder the orders had been for nothing less than carting Naiore all the way to Minas Tirith! Visibly uneasy, Gilly was at a loss what to think. Undoubtedly, the attendant had left an opening for unknown relatives which did nothing for the hobbit’s comfort. On the contrary, her world seemed to have shifted its moorings slightly over the course of the last few minutes.
Guessing aright that Gilly’s misgivings were not put to rest, the elf tried again, and this time Gilly turned her full attention to him hoping for some solid information to grab on to. "We all may well learn more of such things before the evening is out," he explained. "It is rumored that Menecin works on a new song. And it is to this end, I believe, that he has sought out Miss Nightshade and the others as well. For you may have noticed, many have been called to him."
And though she nodded her understanding, for she had noticed the procession, she still highly doubted that a new song, let alone one from so biased a source, would help matters much, so she settled herself down again, looking back toward Toby's sleeping form. Now HE would be sure to have a truer word or two to say about Naiore, but he hadn't the opportunity to speak with the minstrel all evening. Ah well! He had had a much more agreeable time this evening then if he were to have hashed over all the rubbish of his former ways. It was a comfort to know what Menecin was up to, though. And an even greater comfort came shortly after she had taken her seat again, when Dúlrain broke away from his conversation with Amandur and both he and Miss Benia returned to the table. Wasting no time hinting at her discoveries, Gilly was amazed to find that Dúlrain was well aware of those connections she had found so disconcerting.
So the evening was passed pleasantly, until at last the time came when Elrohir stood up announcing that Menecin would sing a new song for them. But Gilly had grown weary by that time, and listened only half realizing what it was, other than exceedingly long for so late at night. Still when she heard far into the tale the name "Kaldir" pronounced amidst all the foreign words, she perked up considerably. And seeing that Benia had heard it too, Dúlrain offered to translate. Onerous a task for him it seemed at times, but it was one he did dutifully. And he continued to softy whisper the meanings, there in the shadows at the back of the hall, until at last the minstrel’s voice fell silent. The hobbit was left enthralled, and grateful, as she came to the realization that this wasn’t a victory celebration at all, but marked something bigger and more lasting. She had learned many things not only about elves over those few hours, but things about Vanwe and Menecin, Léspheria and Amandur as well as Kaldir that she had not realized up to that point. And all were left moved in their hearts, by the tale of Naiore's descent into treachery and ruin. Not among the least, Elrohir and Elladan seemed well pleased with Menecin's work. But it was late when the spell of words ended, and so they roused Mr. Longholes as the hall slowly emptied, leaving in the hush that had fallen as the people dispersed quietly into the night that was quickly fading.
Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 03-12-2008 at 10:38 AM.
|03-12-2008, 10:37 AM||#350|
Relic of Wandering Days
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Less than a handful of days after the crowd dispersed, leaving the great hall to resume its quiet repose, a small company was found leaving it surrounds. Wending their way back along the familiar path, one by one the company emerged from the High Pass, as if emerging from a dream. And a blackbird perched high in one of the many trees that grew there, interrupted its survey of the former battlefield to observe them with interest. The casual onlooker might well have assumed that they had sprung from the earth, so well concealed was the path leading from the refuge of the elves to that ancient road of dwarves and men, the road that led west, and to the Shire.
The first of the travelers to enter into view was small and slight in form. Pausing, she briefly checked on the progress of her companions before leading her pony past the tree where the bird still sat, carefully examining the hobbit with bead-like eyes. But Gilly was unaware of the attentive inspection above her, for she was wading through the rather deep waters of her own emotions. True, she was exceedingly happy to be heading home at last, but she found her joy unexpectedly tempered by gloominess. After their departure was delayed to allow Toby full recovery from his indulgences, she had bid farewell to the elves with a reluctance she found quite astonishing. And now that it was becoming clear that she must soon also say goodbye to the unvarnished, rootless life she had adopted, one where duty and friendship seemed described by a less tentative hand, she found herself unwilling to put it behind her. And her thoughts along these lines, while she gingerly picked her way down the hillside, had proved as troublesome to her as the fly that now buzzed around her ears in the golden light of the early morning.
Waving her hand about her head, to brush the nuisance aside, Gilly guided her pack pony further off the rocky pathway that led from Rivendell. Beneath her feet, the churned turf held a chill that promised an early fall, as it sloped gently away before her, only to drop off sharply at the water’s edge. She stopped, overtaken by an odd sensation. Shutting her eyes, she breathed deeply. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought she was in Bywater in the springtime and not on a battlefield. The scent of the air immediately threw her mind back to her youth, and her father's field, well tilled and ready for planting. The hobbit arched her feet, opening her eyes again. No this was the field where Kaldir had nearly been overcome by orcs, and they were closer now to autumn then to spring. Fighting the impulse to search the ground for his familiar footprint, she raised her head and squinted at the glinting river in the distance, it was the same river that would have swept her away to drown, but for her having been plucked out of it's current by the ranger. ‘Course that would have been a bit further upstream, she reminded herself.
A gentle voice spoke next to her, stilling her turbulent thoughts. “So much has changed since we last saw this place,” Benia sighed as she looked out over the vale. Gilly nodded. The picturesque landscape that spread out before the two of them might have been an altogether different place now that it was peaceful. It seemed so empty. Fierce and desperate as the struggle against Naiore’s orcs had been, little sign was now left of it, and only the scuffed earth under foot lent credence to Gilly’s vivid memories. She felt it as a pang in her heart, for she knew that in the same way, once they reached the Shire Carl might find his wife strangely different. At first he would think her a little tanner and perhaps thinner. But that didn't worry her so much for soon enough she, like this place, would appear just the same as she had before; like the day Benia's letter first arrived at her doorstep. No, the real history, the real work wrought through all this, would stem from the burgeoning storehouse of memories inside her head. The ones that even now, were impinging on the simplest of thoughts. That was a far messier affair, for it would take more than a good broom or stiff brush to set it in order. And at the moment, they seemed just as likely as that river to whisk her away!
“To be sure it has,” the hobbit spoke at last. “And it looks like they have done a thorough job tidying up here. But I am afraid that even though the elves have swept all trace of those orcs from their doorstep, there is still that river!”
“Are you afraid then, that there might be a band of orcs left on the other side of it?” Benia asked.
“Oh my! No, I hadn’t thought of that,” Gilly said frowning at the grey ribbon of water in the distance. “But try as I might I cannot forget how the last time we attempted it, that river came closer to being the end of me than any orc.” She paused briefly; drawing up her courage like an efficient hen gathers her adventurous offspring. Then seeking to nudge the conversation to a more comfortable subject, she continued. “And what of Mr. Longholes?” she ventured, twisting around to search behind them for a glimpse of the hobbit. “Do you think he is yet up to such a crossing?”
Now both Miss Nightshade and the hobbit knew full well that the elves had taken great care to heal Toby of his injury, and that he had quickly mended, but being made aware of Gilly's doubts regarding the river, the southern woman sought to dispel them. “Oh Gilly, that was a frightful day" she said, her face expressive. "But remember that we had no other option but to traverse the water were we would. Now that we have our choice of crossings, apparently we will find the river a great deal easier to ford. Dúlrain has said that we will easily ride across,” she said reassuringly. “Toby need not even get his feet wet.”
“Surely that is more welcome than Lalia Took’s dinner!” Gilly burst out, glad that this rather weighty worry had been banished. She turned just in time to see Toby and his pony appearing from behind the brush, the ranger close behind them. “What do you think of that, Mr. Longholes?” she shouted. “It seems there’s no swimming required of us today!”
“I think I’ll wait to tell you what I think, at least until we are on the other side,” he replied without hesitation. But hazarding a glance at Mrs. Banks, he saw that she appeared crestfallen at his lack of enthusiasm, and so he straightened up, pulling down the edges of his waistcoat, adding, “I’m not disappointed, that much I’ll say. But you’d be better off asking your pony there how he feels about taking to the stream again,” he said looking toward the little pack pony fairly blossoming with cuttings and herbs, colorful tokens that Gilly sought to bring home. Following his gaze, the petite matron turned to the animal that she had learned to appreciate all the more for her walking trip over the mountains. Looking at the beast with fondness, she took hold of its bridle searching the doleful eyes. How dearly she would miss him if she had to follow the Great East Road on foot. “I had quite forgotten that this fellow might have his own misgivings!” she admitted.
By that time, Dúlrain was near enough to follow the exchange. “Ah, but do not let his looks deceive you Master Longholes. Like his mistress this pony is capable of the most courageous feats, though you would not know it from his current appearance,” he said. “And even from here I have no doubt that as he waits; he listens, gauging the rumor of the water. That sound is good news for both horses and their riders. The river is running slow and shallow in its banks; we’ll have no need of ropes.”
Thoughtfully running her hand over the side of the animal waiting patiently beside her, Gilly searched for a new topic that might occupy her thoughts, regretting that they had exhausted so many promising topics on their way to Rivendell.
But nevertheless one must still exist that was sufficiently interesting to everyone, at least enough so to fuel the kind of longish sort of conversation needed to keep her mind off the river. But before she could come up with something suitable, the creak of leather and jangling stirrups told her that her companions were climbing astride their mounts, and she felt pressed to follow suit.
Deciding that her pony would brave the river well after all, even if she wouldn't, the hobbit hopped on one foot in an effort to catch the stirrup with the other. Once she was firmly perched in the midst of her bundles, the pony hurriedly toddled after the others, Gilly calling out after them, “What ever came of those book covers you brought back to Rivendell, Mr. Dúlrain? With all the excitement of the past few days, I never did find out if they were important after all.”
“Ah yes, the books,” Benia echoed. And seeing that the hobbit was looking for distraction, she joined in encouraging Dúlrain to tell them what he had found out about them. Truly it had seemed unaccountably strange that such important works had been burned. Surely they were of more value whole.
Dúlrain obliged them, guiding his horse closer to the two friends while Toby lagged behind. “Well...as you no doubt recall, at the time we arrived there, no one in Rivendell had knowledge of them, though they bore the device of Imladris. It was a mystery, even to the current masters of that place. But fortunately after she arrived, the Lady Léspheria who is a respected source as well as an emissary for her kindred spoke of seeing them at the ranger Tallas' abode. And Menecin was able to shed some light on the matter when asked about them, though he said he had not seen these particular books himself.”
“Menecin you say? Now there's a first class busybody if ever I saw one, elf or no!” Toby piped up from behind them. “He would know now, wouldn’t he!”
“A busybody, is he?” Dúlrain declared, with raised eyebrows. “But I suppose even busybodies can prove helpful. This one at least has been.”
“And well respected he is,” Benia laughed, “But before you speak disparagingly of him Mr. Longholes, it might behoove you to know that you have been thoroughly immortalized in a song of his!”
Toby's head shot up at the remark. “That confounded elf!” he exclaimed hotly. “I told him to leave me out of it when he came around to visit my sick bed with his bundle of questions! I suppose I was painted as Naiore's miserable henchman in his blasted poetry. And shall be thought of as such, for all time!”
“Quite the contrary,” Dúlrain assured him. “Toward the end you were shown in a very favorable light.”
“Then mind you don't say another word, or I will think him all the less credible for it!” Toby joked, his indignation softened considerably. “Charitable was he, in his opinion of me? Imagine that will you.... But I'm steering us off course here, aren't I? What did that elf have to say about the books then, Dúlrain?”
“It seems that his kindred, the branch of elven-folk who call themselves the Noldor, have through the ages kept written notes - accounts of many things, as well as themselves and their people,” the ranger explained. “These were two of such books.”
“Is that the honest truth of it?” Gilly murmured. “After hearing all those songs the other night, I thought for sure that everything must be put into verse.”
“Yes, I would have thought the same and a great deal has been to be sure, quite beautifully so.”
“But then how do you suppose the old man came by them?” Toby wondered aloud.
Dúlrain winked quickly at Gilly before he turned to answer Toby’s question, his saddle creaking once again as his horse plodded on. “Before I tell you that Mr. Longholes, I must assure you that any market for such books would be quite small, so you've missed your best opportunity for reclaiming your former ways profitably. Menecin has said that these were the first mithril covers he had seen on such books.”
With an exaggerated indignation befitting the poorest of actors, Toby playfully feigned offense at the presumption, and succeeded in making his companions laugh at his antics. But he concluded his speech in a more serious tone. “Rest yourself easy, I have no plans on going back to that wretched excuse for life I had in Bree. Even so, you should not tell me if you think it better. I understand.”
“I am glad to once again be reassured of your resolve,” the ranger said, growing serious as well. “For it might also do much harm, if you were to speak freely of mithril books in one of the Shire's many alehouses.”
“Don't you ever fear it!" Toby answered him. "I had more than my share of keeping quiet, and have proved better at it than most. Anyway, they'd just think I'm off my nut! And if they don't, I could rattle on about that bucketful of elven jewels I've found scattered about the banks of the Brandywine.”
Dúlrain smiled warmly. And as Gilly took the warning to heart, thinking herself far more likely than Toby to mention the books, the ranger said, “Well then, with that assurance!”
Reaching over to catch Dúlrain's sleeve, Gilly leaned toward him, whispering urgently, "Perhaps you shouldn't." And seeing the ranger concerned how Toby might react to this, she hurriedly explained that she seemed to have this habit of rambling on about the worst things. “I don’t see that I’m up to my neck in it, until I find myself wishing I might disappear altogether!”
"Mrs. Banks, though your neighbors will no doubt make many claims that you been cavorting with all manner of outlandish people of late, myself included among them, I have it on good authority that you have a proven and spotless reputation for guarding the secrets of others.” He said glancing toward Benia. “So I charge you also without hesitation, to keep this to yourself, knowing that you will guard it closer than any dragon would, if you but firmly set your mind to it."
Her courage suddenly renewed by this confidence, Gilly bowed slightly, "And gladly too!" she promised him most earnestly.
By this time the small group had neared the river's edge, but none moved to enter it. Instead they gathered about the ranger, listening closely to his words.
“Then to continue... At some point and to what purpose I'm not certain, the authors of these books deemed it unwise to keep all of the volumes together in Imladris, for the Noldor's past has been a troubled one, and not all of their history is deemed worthy of song. And so the books were entrusted to others, several falling into the hands of the Dúnedain for their safe keeping. But if there was a reason why Tallas was chosen to be the guardian of these particular ones, I have not yet discovered it. ”
"The Noldor have not been the only people with a troubled past. Perhaps the books were given for others to study,” Benia suggested. “Could these books have held some observations or wisdom from ages past?”
“Perhaps,” the ranger agreed. “In all honesty, news of this transfer came as a surprised to me, as I have come to think that only we Dúnedain were apt to keep our most treasured relics safely in the hands of friends! But it would indeed be of value to study, for the history of the elves and that of men are intertwined, and our stumbling blocks similar, though we may see them from differing vantage points.”
“But haven't their songs traveled west with them? I know that I haven’t a life or memory long enough to pass that sort of history on forever, however long I may carry it in my heart. Perhaps they simply did not want to be forgotten,” Gilly offered. “And as for entrusting others with things of worth, it shouldn't surprise you that hobbits do that as well as men and elves. As you have seen, I am only too happy to have my good friend here in your safe keeping, Master Dúnadan!” the hobbit reminded him. Then looking to Benia she added, “And our ranger friend here in your dear hands, as well!”
“So have I become a relic then Gilly?” Benia said. “A relic of what, do tell?”
“No, no! Of course not!” the hobbit laughed. “Not a relic, but certainly a treasure! And because of you I have found many new friends, like Mr. Longholes for example!” Toby agreed, conceding that she had indeed made at least one friend to his knowledge, and perhaps many others.
As the conversation slowed, Benia brought up the remark Gilly had made. “Gilly, before when you mentioned Lalia Took's dinner, I admit you left me rather curious who she is, and why you would use her name. Is she a friend of yours?”
Toby's grin was full of mischief as he waited to see how Mrs. Banks would respond. But Gilly avoided meeting her fellow hobbit's gaze, and she fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Who she was, for she died a few years back,” Gilly answered carefully, her tone formal. “Lalia the Great was a much revered matriarch of the Took family, almost as famous as Old Took himself. She was a great lady, great in wisdom, great in age and ...”
“And great in girth!” Toby blurted out, unable to contain himself. “Did you really say that? I wouldn't have thought it of you, Mrs. Banks!”
“Oh hush now,” Gilly said with a barely repressed smile. “That won't do at all, even if it is true!”
And so went their banter as Benia and Dúlrain eased their horses into the river to test it. The ranger proved as good as his word, for despite its position at the foot of the Misty Mountains, the river was broad and easy to cross at this point, and so the promise held true. They wouldn't experience any of the trials that had faced them before.
Finding her fears all but evaporated, Gilly paused on the shore, her pony alongside Toby's. Turning back to look at the mountains, she half thought she might see her worries sitting there dark and foreboding, like a Mewlip watching her from afar, but instead she saw a quite a different thing, a fair and lonely figure standing on the hillside. A slender wisp of a person was watching them from the heights, her long hair trailing in the breeze. Spontaneously, Gilly waved, alarming not only the bird who had followed them and took to the air scolding the hobbit as it went, but Mr. Longholes as well. Toby grabbed hold of Gilly's arm gently, and firmly guided it back to her side. “It may look like Vanwe has come to see us off,” he whispered gravely, “But then she's the spitting image of her mother, now isn't she?”
“You know that she isn't her mother, by a long shot." Gilly said lightly, patting Toby's shoulder. "Anyway, you need not worry yourself about her mother anymore.”
“Oh but Naiore was so cold hearted a person, if the fire went out in her, it's hard to believe it would have made a bit of difference!” Toby said with a shutter. “Elves, they're not like you and me, you know. And Avanill was sure that if we killed her, she would torment us to the end of our days. Out of sheer malice, he said!” Raising her glance Gilly looked to see if the elf waved back at them, but it was too far for her aging eyes, and she missed seeing the slender arm that gracefully bid them farewell. She only saw the elf turn to go, disappearing from view.
It wasn't that she hadn't heard what Toby said, but she dismissed it easily, thinking it just the sort of tactic the old women in Bywater would use to keep children from doing something they thought inadvisable. Still it didn't fit what she had learned of Avanill’s character. Mulling it over she thought that perhaps in a way there was a kernel of truth to it, no matter how superstitious it seemed. “Well, I suppose Avanill was right in his way. It looks as though she's haunting you already!” she said sympathetically. “But still I think you should ask Dúlrain for his opinion. It's an honest shame that you missed that song! I think you'd be far less worried if you heard it. Even if Naiore did manage to stay on after her death, I think she had larger goals set for herself then to trouble over a single hobbit.”
“Let's hope so,” Toby said. “But she impressed me as being a thorough sort, and vengeful. She didn't leave Kaldir or Léspheria or Menecin alone now, did she? And it's not like she has bigger turncoats like Avanill to take care of, before looking to me now, is it? So if you don't mind, Mrs. Banks, I rather not bring any unnecessary attention to myself. I've had far too much excitement in the past few months, and it will last me quite long enough!”
“So have I, so have I," Gilly agreed. "It's time to brave a quieter life now isn't it? Though I imagine it will be more difficult for you than me, at least at first.”
A faint grin spread across Toby's face. "Well I admit, it IS good to know that I won't be the only person in the Shire to have heard of Naiore. I'm bound to be viewed as some mad Breelander as it is, but to be one that is worried about a dead elf sneaking up on him!" He shook his head in frustration, “I'll be lucky to get a job mucking out stables!"
"A very vengeful elf," Gilly corrected him, "who just happens to be dead. But never mind, don't worry about the job, we will take care of that. And if ever you have reason to suspect that Naiore is still around somehow, and that you are in danger, day or night you come right to me! I won't think you at all mad."
"But the danger to your family..." Toby protested.
"We'll just have to cross that bridge if ever we get to it!" Gilly said firmly. "But right now it feels like I can't see my dear boys and Mr. Banks soon enough! And if we spend any more time here, gracious, but I think we'll end up growing roots on this very bank, like a pair of scrub willows!"
"Then by all means, on we go!" Toby said.
Pulling their ponies noses around toward the river once again, the hobbits guided them cautiously down the steep bank and into the water. Benia and Dúlrain were already a third of the way across; their mounts poised side by side waiting, as the water bent in smooth arcs about the horses' legs. Benia's tattooed hand rested lightly on the ranger's forearm, as if to stay him from needlessly helping or hurrying Gilly and Toby. "They will do well without our help," she whispered, raising her eyes momentarily to smile warmly at him.
"Indeed, they will," the ranger said returning her smile. But both Dúlrain and Benia continued to remain motionless, their eyes riveted on the progress of the ponies. It was not until the two hobbits reached them, that they continued on, their horses finally stepping out of the river and on to the stony shingle of the far bank.
From there the small group of travelers headed West, up the grassy slopes. No orcs met them there on that far side of the river, no merchants or other travelers of any sort. But the Great East Road lay before them, ancient and wordless, promising to lead them across the Wilds toward the horizon. The fruit of skilled hands long since withered, those of Men and dwarves in ages long gone, it would guide them still and unerringly, on that long road toward home.
|02-10-2011, 12:38 PM||#351|
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