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Old 12-17-2003, 10:48 AM   #1
Mithadan
Spirit of Mist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
Posts: 2,890
Mithadan has been trapped in the Barrow!
Sting Here There Be Dragons - Discussion/Planning

Piosenniel, Child of the Seventh Age and Mithadan welcome you to the Planning Thread for Here There Be Dragons! This RPG is the third chapter of a tale which began with The Voyage of the Lonely Star and was continued in The Shadow of the Star. The inspiration for this RPG is owed to Birdland, without whose humor and cleverness this game would not be possible. This is an "invitation only" RPG.

Brief Plot Synopsis:

This summary reviews not only the outline for this game, but also provides information regarding the two prior RPGs in this series.

Voyage of the Lonely Star

This post provides a general outline of the Lonely Star and Shadow of the Star RPGs, but omits many of the plot twists and additional characters. It will hopefully supply enough detail that posters can get a sense of how the present sequel grew out of the earlier adventure.

Our story began in Minas Anor, early in the Fourth Age, when Cami Goodchild sought to hire a ship to go search for lost "sea-hobbits". Cami had discovered a reference to these mysterious hobbit cousins in a scribbled marginal note of a book given to her by Bilbo.

Rebuffed by many shipowners, Cami finally found a sympathetic ear from Mithadan, the owner of a sailing vessel, the Lonely Star. The shapechanger Bird and the half Elven Piosenniel, two friends who had shared many
earlier adventures, agreed to help lead and finance the group. Among the other members of the crew was Rose Goodchild, a young cousin who had come to live with Cami.

The Star's initial voyage led them to a ruined colony of sea-hobbits, also called hobbrim, whose only survivor was a lad named Kali. Kali informed the Star that he was the guardian of a mysterious time travel device bequeathed to the colony by Ulmo, the Vala who rules the Seas. The lad asked the Star to help him fulfill Ulmo's decree that the hidden hobbrim and hobbits, lost in past ages, should be found and rescued.

The Star's activation of the time travel device brought the arrival of Idil and Tuor, two legendary Elves from Valinor who were to aid them in this quest. After much searching and deliberation, the crew came to realize that, like the Edain, the hobbits had journeyed west in the First Age to settle in
Beleriand. Like other Mannish tribes, the Hobbits were discovered by Finrod, who recognized that the diminutive and peaceful race would stand little chance of survival in Beleriand. Perhaps prompted by some
premonition that the Hobbits would play some
significant role in the Tale of Arda, Finrod requested they be harbored in the safety of Gondolin and the race disappeared from history into the Hidden City. Upon the fall of Gondolin, Morgoth, the Dark Enemy,
ordered them to be imprisoned in Taur-nu-Fuin, as it was clear to him from the music of creation that this little people had an important part to play in the continuing battle against the darkness.

The Star sailed to Beleriand, but was, of course, unable to prevent the fall of Gondolin, and its crew watched in despair as Piosenniel was killed and the hobbits dragged off to an Orc prison camp. Rose and
Cami volunteered to remain behind with their people. They were aided in their endeavors by Bird and a mysterious Maia named "Ancalimon".

It was here that Cami met and fell in love with Maura Took. The couple asked to remain together, but were advised by Ancalimon that this must not be, since the fabric of time could not be ripped further apart. Maura and Cami were told that, only after life had
ended, in the circles that lie beyond the world, could they safely find reunion. Maura and Cami sadly accepted this decree as the will of the Valar, with Maura remaining behind on Tol Fuin, the island remnant
of the highlands of Dorthonion after the drowning of Beleriand, drawing on the support of his young friend Lindo, and his other family members.

Rose and a grieving Cami were returned safely to the ship. The crew, however, was in a state of disarray, mourning for Piosenniel. It was only with Pio's
miraculous return from the West some time later that they again took heart.

The hobbits had lived peacefully on Tol Fuin for thosands of years, but had finally been captured by Ar-pharazon, who had discovered their secret doom. He had imprisoned them in the Tombs at the base of Eru's mount. Mithadan and Piosenniel began to plan a daring campaign to free the hobbits from the Tombs and use the time travel device to rescue them from the isle just before it sank.

In the course of this campaign, the Elf and Man came to love each other and pledged their troth as man and wife. The Star succeeded in locating the hidden community of hobbrim and also organized the hobbits in
the Tombs to revolt. The assault on the Tombs
succeeded, and the hobbits were taken back to the hidden isle of Meneltarma after the fall of Numenor. Here, they are asked to fulfill the doom that Ulmo had laid out for their people. Each hobbit must decide whether to remain on land, or to be transformed into a sea-hobbit under the scepter of Ulmo. The hobbrim would remain hidden on Meneltarma until the end of
time when it is said they will play an important role in the final battle for Arda. The land hobbits would be taken back to the Anduin in the year 1000 of the Third Age. From there they would later make their way
to the Shire and eventually play their part in the destruction of the Ring.

At the end of the Star RPG, Piosenniel and Mithadan return to the Fourth Age, awaiting the birth of their twins. Bird begins searching for clues that will reveal more of her shapechanger past. Cami, still in love with Maura, resigns herself to duty as the leader of the hobbit community in Greenwood in the mid-Third Age, and also adopts a burrowful of orphaned boys, including the highly tempermental Gamba.


The Shadow of the Star; part two of this tale:

Westra lag wegas rehtas, nu isti sa wraithas...

A straight road lay westward, now it is bent... This tale is written in the spirit of The Lost Road and the Notion Club papers, the beginning portions of two books that Tolkien never completed, but whose fragments appear in HoMe, volumes V and IX. Both of
these explored the idea of time travel, not in terms of an actual machine such as other writers have postulated, but rather by dream journeys, which show how the power of myth can escape explosively into the present.

The tale itself is set in the eleventh year of the Fourth Age, shortly after the completion of the Voyage of the Lonely Star. It takes Tolkien's view of dream journeys one step further, postulating that there may
be certain circumstances in which visions and reality actually coexist in our world, with no certainty at all as to which state is actually in the ascendent. In his time travel fragments, Tolkien suggested that,
with the destruction of Numenor and the obliteration of the Lost Road, the only way for Man to reach the Blessed Realm was through the vehicle of dreams. This story builds upon that notion. It assumes that the
dreams of characters like Cami and Bilbo and Maura, who exist only in another time and place, actually had the power to influence a particular locale in Middle-earth, to bring it onto another plane of existence, much as Tolkien viewed the Blessed Lands.

In this story, for a very brief instant, the Green Dragon Inn becomes a place where the boundaries between dream and reality disappear, and it is possible for individuals not actually present in the
Fourth Age to travel to the Inn and speak and meet with each other. In this particular locale, the normal notions of time and place have been suspended, or perhaps transcended.

Frodo and Bilbo, residing in Tol Eressea after the War of the Ring, long for their home in The Shire. In addition, Bilbo becomes aware of the fate of Cami and
her separation from her beloved Maura. Believing the deeds of Cami and Maura to be nearly as significant as those of Bilbo and Frodo in the Third Age, they beg Gandalf for an opportunity for them to be reunited
with both their friends in The Shire as well as Cami, Maura and their kin. After debate, the Valar agree that Bilbo’s wishes should be granted, for a time, and Lorien, master of dreams, is charged with making these
events take place and accompanying Bilbo and Frodo back to Middle Earth.

The reunions of Bilbo and Frodo and their friends take place, though they find The Shire to be changed with the passage of time. Similarly, Maura and Cami and
their kin are reunited. Though these reunions are happy at first, they are also colored with sadness as each recognizes that these events are temporary and that all must be returned to their proper places and times. But their stay in The Shire is to last at least until Cami and Maura are wedded and Piosenniel, who had journeyed north from Gondor and become the innkeeper of The Green Dragon, gives birth to her
children.

They are joined by Mithadan and Bird, but events conspire against them and the peace of The Shire is broken by a last vestige of the evil from the end of the Third Age. A wave of kidnappings takes place, guided by Bill Ferny who seeks revenge upon the
Hobbits. Ultimately, Piosenniel’s newborn children are taken by Ferny’s minions and the victims of the kidnappings must be rescued by Mithadan, Piosenniel, Bird and the Hobbits. The rescue is successful and
Cami and Maura are ultimately wed, even though they fear they will soon be separated. As the tale closes, Lorien returns all to their proper places and times,
but in a prologue, we discover that Cami and Maura are granted leave to dwell together in the vale of the Anduin with Cami’s kin in the middle of the Third Age.


Here There Be Dragons; part three of this tale:

Bird, the shapechanger, was brought as a child to be fostered by the Beornings, her distant kin. Not satisfied with the pastoral life of the Beornings, she wanders away in search of her roots and her family. In time, she encounters Piosenniel, and later Mithadan, and they become great friends, though her search for her kin bears no fruit.

After the return of the Lonely Star to Gondor, Bird takes her leave from Piosenniel and Mithadan to resume her quest. She finds some meager clues in the south of Middle Earth, and returns north to be with her friends for the birth of their children (and the return of Cami and Maura to The Shire). After accompanying Piosenniel and Mithadan to Gondor, she resumes her search, and discovers that some new threat to peace is arising in Harad. She sends Piosenniel a message warning of this vague new threat. Then she disappears and as of the time of this RPG, the 18th year of the Fourth Age, has not been heard from in three years.

At the outset of the game, Mithadan has taken the Lonely Star to Umbar on a trading mission at the request of Elessar. He hopes to find news of Bird while in the South. However, this mission goes terribly wrong, and soon the crew of the Lonely Star is plunged into the strange world of the Southlands and the Shapechangers.
------------------


Maps:

Here is Piosenniel's map showing areas where the RPG will occur (Note: To the left of the
word Haradwaith on the map on the coastline is Umbar):

Map


OF THE SHAPECHANGERS

The Beorning were a most ancient, noble race. Their people dwelled in the Northern Vales of Middle Earth for countless centuries, where they built their fantastic lodges of wood and stone, and farmed the fertile river valley of the Anduin. The center of their territory was The Carrock, a massive rock island that split the Anduin in twain, north of the Old Ford. The Carrock was both Marker and Meeting place. It is said that the first Beorning to come to Middle Earth stood on the peak of Carrock, surveying the land, and first assumed the aspect of The Bear.

For the Beorn were Skin-Changers. The only form they would take on, besides that of large, doughty Men, was that of The Bear, whom they regarded as the greatest and wisest of all the creatures of Eru. Through the years, the Beorning achieved a perfect balance of the two forms, blending their Human and Animal aspects in such a way that a Beorn in Man-Shape retained all the nobler, (and dangerous) traits of Ursa, and when a Bear?…well…vice-versa.

They were a very successful , prosperous race. They were never routed from their ancient kingdom, never defeated in battle, and their trade with Men, Elves and Dwarves enriched their coffers, to the benefit of all Beorn-Kind.

Of course, most Shapechangers bore no resemblance whatsoever to the Beorning.

Shapechangers (SCs) were a small race of men, never achieving the lofty heights of the Numenorean races. Though never as small as Hobbits, they seldom, if ever, grew taller than 2 meters. They were generally light boned and nimble, though a male skin-changer might possess surprising strength and could defeat a larger opponent, particularly in wrestling. Their skin was olive, their hair mostly black and thick. The eyes were generally brown, though blue or
green eyed Skin-Changers were not that uncommon.

But that was, of course, when they are in Human form. For Skin-Changers could assume almost any animal shape, though few could learn to shift to more than 3 forms. They could not, however, assume the form of another Man, Halfling, Dwarf, or Elf. But they could, for some reason, turn into Ents. (It is thought that the “woody“ nature of these Free People somehow allows for this type of metamorphosis.)

Now most people would think it a wonderful thing, to be able to take on any aspect that you like. To escape your troubles by flying away as a bird, or taking to sea as a fish. But this very talent can lead to an
inability to face responsibility. If you can escape from your life by adopting another, you may never learn to face your troubles and overcome them. The Beorning, those who believed that other SCs existed at all, for this very reason, regarded their smaller cousins as a flighty, irresponsible, sometimes silly people, who could not take life seriously.

The majority of Skin-Changers regarded Beornings as fanatics.

Men of Power coveted Skin-Changers; for they are, of course, the perfect spies and thieves. For this reason the race was plagued through the ages by Forces of Evil who sought to control Skin-Changers and use
them to further their aims. There were even horrific stories of necromancers who would “study” captive Skin-Changers, in order that they might absorb the talent to change form, and use it themselves. Though
not a particularly political race, never taking sides in the ongoing conflicts between Men, Elves, and Dwarves, Skin-Changers almost always turned from the
Dark Side. They fled in terror from those who
sought to control them. And since they were
Skin-Changers, fleeing was usually quite easy.

The one way Men of Evil found to gain sway over the race is through their children. If the youngest child of a Skin-Changer could be captured, before its talent manifested (between the ages of 10 to 12), then the cooperation of the parents could be
ensured. Sadly, this has lead to the practice of infanticide / suicide among the Skin-Changers, if they find that themselves in a situation where escape without the young children is impossible.

Those SCs who were not of the Beorning clans led a nomadic life in the South. Many roamed in bands and travelling caravans criss-crossing the Southlands as they went from village to village and settlement to settlement. They avoided contact with "normal" Men, but when they did come into contact they hid their abilities. As a result of this practice, they became legendary and the stuff of tales told to frighten children. It wasn’t long before the only Skin-Changers known to exist in Middle Earth were the Mighty Beornings. And this was exactly how the Skin-Changers liked it.

THE HISTORY OF THE SHAPECHANGERS

Shapechangers are a version of men existing from the beginning. Like other races of Men, they migrated westward early in the First Age where some eventually reached Beleriand. The unusual talents of the SCs did not evade the attention of Morgoth, however. Morgoth corrupted some into werewolves/vampires during the First Age. Although these corrupted SCs were relatively few in number, Men and Elves grew to fear them. The remaining "free" Shapechangers fled south and East to escape Morgoth. Those who fled towards the east became the forefathers of the Beornings. Those who fled to the South shunned contact with Men and Elves and in turn were feared and sometimes even hunted. The Southern SCs wanted little else but to be left alone to pursue their own way of life.

When Sauron returned to power in the Third Age, he, like Morgoth before him, threatened the SCs and managed to corrupt some of them, possibly supplied to him by the Haradrim. Some were forced to join the Shadow through the usual methods (seizing their children who can't shift their shapes and are vulnerable) and others joined him voluntarily in response to promises of wealth and power. However, there were very few of the latter, and most of the SCs, in response, retreated farther into the South. Some however sought refuge in the cities and attempted to blend into the Southron cultures. When Sauron was defeated, Harad and Umbar were thrown into chaos. The majority of the SCs took advantage of this and attempted to be forgotten again. But some, having had a taste of the cities and of power were of a different mind.


GENERAL BACKGROUND ON THE SOUTHERN SKINCHANGERS

The Southern Skinchangers, known hereafter as SCs, are all one race, living in large extended families or clans. The families of a single clan may spread out over a vast area. Once a year, the smaller groupings
come together for a clan gathering to conference and settle disputes. A clan may have a male or female leader. Traditionally, the role of leader goes to the wisest member of the clan. Although traditional SCs
are inherently reclusive in nature, they do honor the laws of desert hospitality that require a clan to extend food and shelter to another traveler who is in trouble, even those from outside the clan or of a different race, unless open warfare exists.

There is an annual gathering of the clans. At this time, the heads of the extended families come together under the Wyrms, the group that has always provided the leaders for the loose federation of SC clans.
Traditionally, the Wyrm leader (a hereditary position) decides the general direction the SCs will follow, settles disputes that can't be taken care of by clan leaders, and takes command in times of open conflict with outside races.

Even in "normal" times, other clans will vie for the favor of the ruling Wyrms. As in other SC groupings, the Wyrm clan is normally not a unified group. Within
the clan, there are differences of opinion, with various family units jockeying for a more favorable position that will bring them closer to being the Wyrm ruler, should that position become available.

At the beginning of our story, the top positions within the Wyrm clan, including that of the ruling Wyrm, has been captured by ambitious SCs who wish to change the traditional way the race has lived in favor of dwelling in cities and accumulating wealth and power. The evil head of the Wyrm clan wishes to use his power in an oppressive manner to consolidate a base from which the SCs may move outward to establish an empire, possibly challenging the rule of Man and the authority of Elessar. The Great Wyrm has reached a perverted decision that if other SCs do not conform to the plan he has laid out, they should be wiped out. Traditional SCs find kinslaying an abhorrent idea.


SC GROUPINGS

There are three broad groupings of SCs in this story, each represented by a number of different clans.

The REBEL SCs, those who have rejected the ambitions of the Great Wyrm, have migrated away from the main SC settlements and now live far from traditional SC areas in the interior of Harad. This region is
comparatively uninhabited.

The MAIN BODY OF SCs (anyone not affiliated with the rebels) lives in the desert area just left of the word Haradwaith on the map. The clan leaders in this area give their allegiance to the Wyrm clan out of belief
or necessity. Some individual SCs do not approve of what their clan leaders have decided but are not willing to voice their opinions and incur the disapproval of the clan leader, those members of the clan who do support him, or the wrath of the evil Wyrm
who is the nominal head of the confederated clans.

The Wyrm Clan and their allies who have joined them also live in this area. They prefer to be close to Umbar since this gives them easy access to its resources and they can make contact with any surviving minions of the Shadow if such is needed. While many evil SCs are Wyrms, the group includes
representatives of many different clans. However, everyone within this group accepts the authority of the present Wyrm leader.

The Wyrms and their allies are the only SCs to live in fixed towns and villages. Not only do the capitalists live in cities of their own; they are now trying to force other SCs to settle in one fixed spot. For how can they build an empire on the backs of nomads? With thispurpose in mind, SCs are being herded into towns and forbidden to go on their ancient migration routes.

Traditional SCs consider this lack of freedom and mobility to be the kiss of death. This is the original reason why the rebel SCs migrated outside the traditional settlement to other areas -- not because
they had some intellectual objection to the Shadow but because they felt their traditional way of life threatened. Small numbers of refugees are still leaving the desert area and migrating south to the
forest stronghold where rebel SCs have set down their roots.

The Wyrms' efforts to force the SC into fixed
settlements have met with only partial success. Many SC's are still strung out in various clan and family groupings in a wild patchwork of hidden niches, valleys, and caves. Since SC's are nomadic, they tend
to move about with their herds because of the
necessity of access to food and water. This is especially true of the rebel SC's who are not restrained by the demands of the Wyrms. As a result of this dispersion, the rebel SC's would be able to rely on tactics like stealth and surprise and hiding themselves from any Wyrm-follower who ventures too close.

-----------------------

[b]Character Outlines:[b]

Pio – Rôg – Character Bio

NAME: Rôg

AGE: around 41

RACE: Mannish

GENDER: Male

APPEARANCE: 5’6”; black hair; dark brown eyes; olive toned skin; softly muscled, lean frame; a little stooped when he does not remember to straighten his posture, from long hours spent hunched over scrolls and tomes in libraries, and over his own notebooks; a pleasant, though not memorable face; long, tapering fingers with well kept nails; an ink stain and thick callous on his right middle finger indicating where the quill is grasped. There is a small, flat, ovoid shaped gold stud in his upper left ear, nearly hidden where the top of ear folds over on itself like a sea shell.

Prefers loose clothing in dark, earthen tones, browns and blacks – breeches and tunics worn with boots if necessary in the north and western climes. Otherwise bare-footed. Dark brown hooded cape for protection against the elements. A number of large handkerchiefs are crammed in various pockets of the cape, most of them a yellow color.

Carries an ebony walking stick; small hand ax used for gathering fuel for fire; an over the shoulder leather pouch which, among other items, holds several leather bound notebooks and one small chapbook; a quill case; inkstone and blotter sand; at his belt he wears a small leather sheath with a small, sharp double edged knife – used mainly for sharpening quills or cutting up vegetables.

PERSONALITY: He has a pleasant temperament, and a dry sense of humor. Good listener, feels no desire to talk one’s ear off. A slow, methodical worker; does not like to feel ‘hurried’. He prefers to evaluate all sides of a problem before settling on an answer. In a dangerous situation, he would be more likely to take cover than fight. Though, as yet, nothing has pushed him to the point where his mettle might be tested.

Dependable, intelligent. Used to the wandering life. A whiz with a cooking pot and any edible vegetation and small game. Can start a fire under any conditions. He is a man of many useful talents.

HISTORY: Born in TA 2999. For five years his home was in the wide, broad valley bounded by the lower limb of the Orocarni, the Mountains of the East; the dense forest on their west and east; and the arid steppe that pushed its way south and east, descending to the shores of the seas. His family were members of a small nomadic tribe who wandered this sparsely populated area, trading with other tribes in the vicinity, often venturing as far West as the outskirt cities of Rhûn. His father made the small, serviceable axes of the sort that graced his own belt. His mother wove colorful baskets, useful for many things in the peoples of that region’s daily lives, and useful, too, her larger ones, for burial.

He and his older sister, two years his senior, enjoyed a fairly carefree life during this time. Though sometimes he and she were pressed into service for gathering the fibrous materials for baskets, or pumping the bellows when their father was at work on the ax heads, for the most part, they were free to roam. And best they loved the forests with their scrubby, green needled trees, roots gripped firm on the rocky ground. . . and the wildlife, the abundant and most intriguing wildlife. Encouraged by their parents, they both grew up with a great respect for the creatures that shared their lives . . . and a healthy respect for the creatures’ ability to protect themselves.

Then the Shadow from the west lengthened. At first a hushed story told in whispers around the cooking fires by the elders, then encounters with peoples they had previously traded with who now claimed some sort of allegiance to a great Lord in a far western place called Mordor. The elders and parents seemed secretive to a youngster of five, but his own reassured him and his sister that there was nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, in the following months they began a slow migration southward, hugging the coast of the Eastern Sea and then the Inner Sea. Past the places of half remembered stories from before the time of men.

When he was about ten years old, the elders made the decision that they had come to a place they felt safe enough to settle in. This new area lay in a semi-arid region between the Great Dark Forests of the South and the coast of the Inner Sea. And it was here that he spent the next fifteen years of his life. The letters and numbers he had learned at his mother’s knee now proved useful to his family and tribe – increased contact with other wandering tribes meant increased trade, and he had the talent to keep the tallies.

At twenty-five, he traded for his first scroll, paying the traveling merchant extra for a quick lesson on how to read the peculiar script. It was only a short, illustrated treatise on locating wells and digging them; an unexciting piece of literature, save for the fact it showed him how such a thing was done in some other part of the world. And when he learned, from the same fellow that there were buildings dedicated to the storage of manuscripts and scrolls, which were open for those so inclined to read and study in, he resolved to see them. His wishes came to fruition in the next few years, and with the blessings of his parents and his other tribe members he set off, wandering north and west, seeking to increase his knowledge.

~*~

He had long been interested in the study of small birds – their habitats, social structure, migratory patterns, feeding preferences, capacity to adapt and learn new skills. He felt a certain kinship to them, many of them wanderers like himself.

It was at the Library in Rivendell where he first met Radagast, and fell to comparing notes with him concerning the sighting of a certain species of hummingbird seen recently in the last few years in the area of Rhudaur near the Hithaeglir, and then again between the eastern side of the mountains and Rhosgobel.

Hearing that Radagast was bound for the southern lands, Rôg offered to accompany him. He had been down there, he told the old fellow, for a space of time in his younger years. It would be a profitable journey for the both of them – Radagast would have the services of someone familiar with the country, and Rôg would have the benefit of Radagast’s vast knowledge of birds and his keen eye for observation. That and Rôg would have the opportunity to make contact with his tribe after such a long time away.

_______________________

BACKSTORY: Mithadan


Mithadan was born the third and youngest son of Galasmir, lord of the small port town of Lond Lefnui which lay in the Anfalas of Gondor. It was said that Galasmir and his sons were descended in direct line from Elros, son of Earendil, and thus were possessed of a degree of Elven blood. Indeed the loremasters of Gondor had presented Galasmir with a scroll, naming each of his ancestors back to the First Age and, on feast days, he would produce the scroll for his guests and point proudly the names which appeared at the head of the list: “Beren Erchamion (Camlost) and Luthien (Tinuviel).”

But the days of the First Age were long passed and now rarely did any sign of Elvish blood appear in that line. Indeed, Galasmir had fair hair and brown eyes as did two of his sons. But Mithadan was born with grey eyes and their colour did not fade or change in the weeks before his naming and thus his name was chosen. And his hair was not fair but rather raven black, the colour of the midnight sky. He grew tall and straight and when he reached his manhood, some whispered as he passed, “Verily, it is true the ancient saying that the line of Luthien and Beren shall never fail.”

Yet he remained the youngest son of a lesser, though prosperous, lord of Gondor. He had barely reached the age of twenty years at the time of the War of the Ring and had been left behind by his father to guard the town and its port while Galasmir and his other sons marched proudly to Minas Tirith. While his role was a honourable one and indeed did the Corsairs of Umbar land a force of many men in Anfalas seeking to take the port, Mithadan was ever ashamed that he did not take part in the greater events to the east. And ever and anon some foolish cot holder, whether out of spite or besottedness, would name him Mithadan the Meaningless and it cannot be said that word of this did not reach his ears.

Thus, when his brothers returned from the War (Galasmir was slain in the Siege) Mithadan resumed his studies with renewed vigor and soon, taking some few tokens of his house with him, apprenticed as a mariner. Not long thereafter, he demonstrated sufficient skill and valour in repelling a raid out of Umbar that he was given command of his own vessel and began trading along the coasts traveling even as far as the Grey Havens far to the North. And Mithadan loved especially his visits to this Elven port for, as a child, he had explored the then deserted haven of Edhellond which lay to the east of his home. With a few friends, he had snuck secretly from his house and, ignoring the legends that the haven was haunted, had journeyed there and stayed for several days with his fellows, fighting feigned battles in the defense of Gondolin where his ancestor Earendil had been born. When he returned days later, his father had beaten him soundly and forbade him from returning to the ruined city. But ever after, he fondly recalled those few days when he and his friends had been counted among the mighty of Beleriand.

Now, on one such journey to the Grey Havens, he returned with both cargo and passengers and among these was a strange Elf named Piosenniel. Tall and fair as any Elf, Piosenniel had dark hair which was oddly curled for one of the Eldar. On a leather belt, Piosenniel carried a sword and a number of sheathed knives. The belt held up breeches which in turn covered the tops of worn leather boots; a wanderer clearly this Elf. But what was most strange was that this well-armed, soldierly Elf was a maiden.

Mithadan knew that Elves valued their privacy but he found himself very curious about Piosenniel. Elven maids rarely bear arms except at last resort, it was said though none could deny their valour if old tales be true. However, she was aloof and singularly disinterested in speaking with him.

The extent of their first conversation was that she was bound for Gondor, her errand was her own thank you, and no she would not join him at the Captain’s Table. If the youngest son of a lesser lord learns little, one thing he learns is politeness. So he troubled her little, though politeness does not satisfy curiosity.

From other passengers, Mithadan learned that Piosenniel was well known in both the Grey Havens and Rivendell and had been rumoured to join the traveling companies at times, whatever they were. She was typically well mannered, if quiet, but was known to be impatient and said to be brave to the point of foolhardiness. She was also rumoured to be of odd heritage though none knew, or told, why.

No more could Mithadan learn and he resolved to let the matter drop as his vessel approached the Mouths of Anduin. Here his helmsmanship and navigational skills were needed and there was little time to think of the secretive Elf. He assumed that Piosenniel would assume some small place in his memory along with the many others who passed briefly through his life. But this was not to be.

As was told in The Voyage of the Lonely Star and The Shadow of the Star, Mithadan and Piosenniel met and journeyed together again and shared many great adventures. During the course of these adventures, they discovered they shared something else: a great love for one another. They were wed and later Piosenniel bore them three children, the twins Isilmir and Gilwen, and their daughter Camelia (Cami). They settled together in Gondor to continue their lives together as sea farers on their vessel, The Lonely Star.

-------------------------

Pio – Piosenniel - Backstory

Piosenniel was born in the year 504 of the First Age. Her mother was a Kuduk, Holly, living in the Dor-Lómin region of western Beleriand. Her father was Nenwë, the son of Falastur, a captain in the service of Olwë.

Olwë was brother to Thingol who with Melian dwelt in Menegroth, the Thousand Caves. In I 505, the Sons of Fëanor attacked Menegroth, in hopes of regaining the Silmaril. It was during this battle that Nenwë fought alongside Dior, Thingol’s heir and ruler of Menegroth at that time, and both were killed in this Second Kinslaying.

Now one year old, Piosenniel was sent, with her mother, to be under the protection of Turgon’s daughter, Idril, in Gondolin. Most of the Hobbits dwelling in Beleriand had been taken to the Hidden City to be kept safe from Morgoth. It was a frightening time in Beleriand for both Elves and for Hobbits, as Morgoth’s minions harassed the Elven populations and he sought control of all Beleriand.

Piosenniel was separated from her mother and escaped from Gondolin at its fall in I 510 with Idril and her family. When Morgoth was at last overcome, and Beleriand sunk beneath the waves, Idril sent her to foster among the Teleri, Piosenniel’s kin, along the Gulf of Lhûn.

This was one of the times she held most dear. Simpler days among the Solonelli - the Surf-singers, the Falinelli - the Foam-singers. For these two words were the names the Teleri gave themselves. The harmony of their voices and the graceful rhythms of their movements adding truth to their naming.

They had taken her in as one of their own, teaching her to love the sea. A child of Ulmo she had become, brown under the sun, her arms and legs taking her far into the currents and deep below the glassy surface of the water. She had reveled in the freedom, and often, in her long life, found herself wishing she could sink once again into the salty arms of the waves.

Life was sweet to her and wondrous, and as she grew older, she had a thirst to taste all the offerings of Arda. And so she left her Elven haven and traveled out wherever her feet or a sailing ship would take her. It was during one of these journeys that she first met the young captain, Mithadan – a meeting which she did not recall.

Many years passed before Piosenniel was to meet again with Mithadan, then captain of The Lonely Star. She and her boon companion, Birdland, were in port - Harlond, just south of Minas Anor. It was there that fate conspired to bring them together with Mithadan and Cami Goodchild and set them the task that would cement the friendship of Man. Elf, Shapechanger, and Hobbit.

The journey was a long one, through time and distance. Many perils beset the companions as they strove to fulfill the task laid before them, as well as many joys, not the least of which was the love which grew between the Elf and the Man.

This was a perilous journey, in itself, but in the end they were wed, and the joyous product of their union were the twins, a boy (Isilmir) and girl (Gilwen), who were born on Midyear Day, Year 12 of the Fourth Age. One year later, on 30 Cermië, was born their second daughter – Camelia (little Cami).


----------------

Aiwendil / Radagast the Brown


From the earliest days, Aiwendil served in the household of Yavanna helping to safeguard the kelvar and olvar of Arda and, later, caring for the living things in the Gardens of Valinor. Although he did not
possess the highest degree of wisdom or knowledge among the Maiar, Yavanna regarded him with affection both for the tenderness of his heart and the steadfastness of his stewardship. For Aiwendil was diligent in his duties and found joy in caring for all
manner of living things, especially the birds of the air with which he claimed special kinship.

During the early Third Age, when the first Shadow fell over Greenwood, Manwe summoned the Valar to a Council to consider if anything could be done to contest the
evil descending on Arda. At Manwe's urging, the Valar agreed to dispatch a number of special emissaries chosen from among the Maiar; this group came to be known as the Heren Istarion or Order of Wizards . The mission of the Istari
was to journey across the sundered seas to the North of Middle-earth where hope still survived and help awaken the Free Peoples to resist Sauron who now threatened to claim mastery over all.

Their task was fraught with hardship. By assuming physical bodies, the Istari set aside their natural protection so that, for the first time, they felt pangs of hunger and thirst and could even be slain. Nor was this their only burden. The confusion, fears and cares that pressed down upon their heads could dim the knowledge and wisdom they had brought with them from the West, much like a curtain descending over their eyes. And if any of the Istari departed from his appointed path or mission, the thicker and darker that curtain became.
Few living in Arda recognized the true nature of these messengers for the latter were counseled to conceal who they were. Neither were the Istari permitted to utilize their powers to control or dominate others, but were told to walk quietly and
speak softly, sowing seeds of resistance within the hearts of Men and Elves.

The names "Curunír" and "Olorin" were the first ones set before the assemblage that Manwe summoned, since these two Maiar were reputed to possess the highest degree of wisdom and skill. Manwe instructed Curunír, the servant of Aule, to deal with the uncorrupted Men of the West, while Olorin as a longtime member of the household of Lorien was to pay close attention to the Elder Children of Ilúvatar. Yet Yavanna was not content with this. For she feared that Sauron's wrath would fall not only upon Men and Elves but against Arda itself and all the creatures who dwelling there.

Bowing low before Manwe, Yavanna begged him to include Aiwendil among the emissaries sent over the Sea so that the kelvar and olvar would be better shielded from Sauron's evil ways. When Aiwendil first heard these words, he was afraid and felt that a doom had settled upon his head. Long years had passed since he had last walked in Arda. Its ways and people were strange to him. He deeply loved the peaceful setting of Yavanna's gardens where death never reared
its head and only wished to remain there. Only out of loyalty to the Queen of the Earth did he accede to her request and sail for the Havens with the other Istari around the year 1000 of the Third Age.

Before the great ship departed, Manwe touched the mind of each Istari and related what was expected of them. To each he allotted a different task. Then he spoke the names by which the Maiar would be known
within the lands of Arda. Aiwendel was garbed in a hooded robe of earthen brown and given the name "Radagast" which some say refers to the ruddy colorof the earth. No one knows the exact words Manwe confided to Radagast or even if, after all these years, the Istar still remembers the path
that was marked out for him.

Radagast's new form was tall and slender. He had ice blue eyes and a mop of gray hair streaked through with earthen brown that tended to fly off in all directions. Like the other Istari , he carried a wooden staff in his right hand that could
serve as a weapon, or a tool for channeling power. A great bird of prey, generally a hawk or horned owl, would perch upon his shoulder or wrist, or even atop his head.

Radagast lacked Saruman's honeyed words or the natural warmth and grace that Gandalf used to his advantage. He was by nature shy and approached the world in an earnest, intent fashion that sometimes caused those around him to smile wryly or scoff at his
seemingly simple nature. He was devoutly loyal to those few whom he admitted to his heart. Nor did he have his fellow Istari's knack for dealing effectively with practical matters. He often gave the
appearance of being distracted and confused. In reality, he preferred to turn inward, lost within his own musings, which could be of considerable depth and interest to him. With his great round eyes riveted on
some fascinating animal, the Istar would ponder the nature of the wild creature, oblivious to any Man or Elf who came within his presence to request aid or counsel. His general custom was to wander alone deep in the woods from the troubling
concerns of others.

Those few who knew him well could vouch for his warm heart and good intentions, but also sensed his spirit could be easily buffeted by the toughness of the world. Little by little, purely of his own volition, Radagast drew off by himself, preferring not to witness the carnage and mayhem that came into the lives of many in such difficult times. Instead, he occupied his days studying birds and beasts, dreaming of the time when he could return to the Gardens of
Valinor and again find peace. Yet, strange to say, the more he dreamed, the more distant the shores of the West became, as if slipping away under some hazy shadow. It was only when he visited his one true friend, Beorn the Skin-changer, who lived close by, and slept in a bed in Beorn's house that he actually heard the voice of Queen Yavanna and dreamed of the white shores and far green country.

Although Radagast never turned to evil ways, he slowly forgot why he had been sent to Middle-earth. He still carried the great staff in his right hand, but it hung dead and lifeless, a hollow shell of broken wood. Radagast's mastery of shifting shapes and hues had long been held in high regard by the other Ainur, yet now he found himself
trapped within his body, unable to change to any other form. He could still make out meaning within the voices of the birds and animals, and sometimes, on a misty night, the winds blew out of the West and cleared the clouds away. Then, he would stare up and
glimpse a great bird of fire shooting through the stars. Part of him would remember some distant secret that he suspected was important, but then the image
would fade away. Unsure of what to do, he settled in a tiny dwelling in Rhosgobel near the southern reaches of Mirkwood between the Carrock and the Old Forest Road where few travelers ventured.

Radagast’s precise activities during the War of the Ring are not reported. When Gandalf requested his assistance, he helped in whatever small ways he could. Saruman came to despise Radagast and boasted of using
him to further his own aims. In any event, at the end of the troubles, with the destruction of the Ring and the downfall of Sauron, Radagast met one last timewith his old friend Gandalf at the home of Tom
Bombadil. No one knows what they discussed, but when the ship left the Grey Havens on
September 29, 3021, Radagast was nowhere in sight. Nor did he return to the Havens for many years thereafter.

For the next twelve years, Radagast lived peacefully in Rhosgobel carrying on much as he had before; he helped to tend the trees of old Mirkwood, a spot which he cleansed and renamed Eryn Lasgalen. As his work
there ended, Radagast decided to make two
changes in his life. First, he took Rôg into his employ, a manservant of the race of Skin-changers, a pleasant fellow about whom he actually knew very little. Secondly, the Istar made a decision
to travel to the far reaches of Harad. At the beginning of our tale, Radagast and Rôg are preparing to leave Gondor to trek to the Southlands, ostensibly for the purpose of tracking down rare species of birdsand other wildlife.

_______________________________________

Pio – First Post for Piosenniel

The air was still and thick with the dust of several old leather-bound volumes she had pulled from the shelves. Here, on the fourth floor, in a tiny cubicle at the back of a larger room Pio sat cross-legged on the floor, the journal of one Cemendil, a trader in cochineal and indigo in the Southern Lands, perched on her knee. She was only half way through the faded pages and already yawning from the heat of the little room and inactivity. ‘I will never get this read here,’ she said to the dancing motes in the shaft of sunlight from the small window.

She laid the journal on the floor beside her and went to the door to check for the docent who had shown her to this place. She could just see his head bobbing over some bound manuscript at the far end of the big room, stopping every so often to scribble notes in the little chapbook that was his constant companion. He was engrossed in some obscure research for a class he was teaching, and for all intents and purposes had forgotten her presence.

‘Good,’ she thought to herself. With his nose stuck in his book, his thoughts wrapped round the rule of King Ostoher and the rebuilding of Minas Anor it would be easier getting round him. She picked up Cemendil’s journal and stuck it into the waistband of her breeches, letting the loose folds of her tunic hide the rectangular lump that now graced her belly. Her eyes searched quickly through the stacks for a volume of similar size and color, and having found one, she placed it into the hole where the other one had stood, the intimate companion to a book on fishing techniques found favorable along the River Morthond and another small leather journal that bore the inscription, The Sandpiper, in faint black lettering against faded red.

A captain’s log, she discovered, when she took it down and leafed quickly through the tattered edged pages. Charts of tides and currents, carefully noted with details of shoals and reefs marked clearly. ‘Lovely,’ she thought, running her fingers over the maps the good captain had made for his lugger as she plowed the waves along the shores from Cobas Haven to a small cove just south of Umbar, at the foot of the Grey Mountains. ‘Perhaps I should take this, too,’ she murmured, thinking her own store of sea charts plotted mostly the courses for ships in deeper waters. Into her waistband at the back of her breeches went the ship’s log. And again a search was mounted for a like volume to replace it.

Once done, she crept quietly behind the hunched over figure and his book on Early Gondorian History. Moving quickly to the door, she cleared it, just as his head turned in her direction. Down the hall, down the steps, she strode, her feet hurrying her down further as she made the descent from the fifth tier to the first and out the Southern Gate of the Rammas Echor. Her mount was there, a grey gelding called Sinda, waiting patiently in the green field to the west of the South Road. Pio clambered up onto the horse, her mount-up made clumsy by the unyielding tomes that splinted her mid-section.

‘Home,’ she directed, flicking the reins lightly on Sinda’s neck. The horse set off at a leisurely pace. He had taken his rider so often on this route that he could have found his way to and fro blindfolded. A short half hour later found him at the small dwelling nestled at the foot of Mindolluin.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was later that night, when the little ones were tucked in bed, that Pio got out her journal. It was an irregular habit at best, but she had told herself she would keep the unspoken promise to her old friend Cami when she had found the unused journal among the others left behind in the Shire. Lately, though, she had found herself writing down her thoughts more often . . . beginning with the day her hidebound husband had declared she would not be accompanying him on his voyage south.

The children, thankfully, had been on an overnight outing with their Aunt Rilwen, the wife of Gaerion, Mithadan’s older brother, when Mithadan had come home from the city, announcing he was to put together a trading mission to Umbar. Pio was surprised at the news. She knew the King’s minister had made the request some time before, and Mithadan had been reluctant to take it on. But now Elessar himself had urged Mithadan to undertake this on his behalf, and Mithadan had agreed.

Pio seized on the opportunity, assuming she would accompany him to Umbar. It would be the perfect opportunity she told him, for her to see what information she could ferret out on their old friend Bird. They had not heard from her in three years, since she had gone south seeking news of her kin. Her absence was always present at the back of Pio’s mind, an uneasy sense of loss. Of further concern to her, though none the less important, was that the Southern realms were still unsettled. Respect for the new King’s rule was tenuous in Umbar – given their long history of animosity toward Gondor and the pockets of shadow that yet remained despite the outcome of the War. Another able blade might keep the balance tipped toward the side of Mithadan’s and the crew’s safety.

Mithadan had listened carefully to Pio’s hastily conceived plan, and then, in his irritating way, had just as carefully detailed for her why she could not go. He could, and would, see to the safety of himself and his crew, he had informed her. She need not concern herself with that. Further, the children could not come, and he would not have them left at home without either parent for the five or so weeks it would take to complete the mission. They were too young he had told her, and he insisted that she stay with them, despite the fact that she argued his older brother and his wife would be happy to care for them this one time.

The morning after his announcement found him bleary eyed, his face drawn with fatigue, but unmoved by any of the arguments that Pio mustered. It was with great reluctance and a simmering anger at being thwarted that she acceded to his ‘request’.

Her anger had cooled these last three weeks; an unuseful emotion that produced at best only haphazard solutions to a problem she concluded. She still chafed at the fact that she had not been allowed to go, but there were only two more weeks before the Lonely Star would return. Pio smiled as she turned back to those first few days in the journal – the words pig-headed . . .obstinate . . . perverse . . . doggedly stubborn . . . narrow-minded . . . stiff-necked . . . hidebound . . . , among others, stood out on the white background of the pages, underscored and smeary where she had stabbed them out on the innocent vellum.

What had not waned was her concern for Mithadan’s safety. His assurances aside, she felt uneasy that she would not be there should he need her.

The night was warm; a breeze blew in from the river, carrying the tang of the Anduin faintly to her as she sat on the stone bench in the garden. Light, from the brass lantern hung on the fig tree’s branch above her, obscured her view of the night sky, drawing her attention in to the blank page of the journal that lay open on her knee. With measured strokes she charted her day, pushing worries she could do nothing about from her mind for a brief space of time.


Mithadan's First Post:

The breeze which entered through the open window was hot and carried with it a variety of odors. The sea tang was ever present, even as it had been in Lond Lefnui, the home of his youth. The scent of burningwood and cooking meats was also in the air. These
were familiar to Mithadan. Less familiar were the smells of the odd local flowers and fruits, yet these at least were pleasant. But less pleasant were other smells. For the air was infused with the fumes of
rotting garbage and even sewage.

The Havens of Umbar were a mighty port and city, located on the verge of the great sea. Many were the towers and spires of Umbar and the hill which overlooked the port was crowded with the houses and warehouses of the rich; the traders, lords and princelings of the city. But outside the opulence of the central square, the hill and the primary docks were the homes of the less well off. The farther one traveled to the south and east of the palace of Umbar's Lord Falasmir (as he was known in Westron) the
poorer was the housing until the surroundings
degenerated into a maze of hovels and shacks; a place of filth and violence. To the north was a river on which inland trade was conducted and across the river were plantations and farms.

Between the city and the slums to the south was a vast market which lay in a broad arc around the base of the hill. There, a dizzying variety of goods and services
could be had. Spices, foods, fine cloth, gems and metals were sold there, as were animals, including the odd humped beasts that some rode instead of horses. In the center of the market was a square which was
bordered by a large, fenced-in pen. But the pen housed not animals but rather men and women who were bought and sold for use as servants, beasts of burden and less humane tasks. Mithadan shuddered at the mere
thought of that place.

Weeks ago, the trade minister to King Elessar had approached him to undertake a voyage to Umbar, one of the first since the War of the Ring. Mithadan had been reluctant at first, but a personal note from the King had persuaded him. Piosenniel had been angry, both because of the possible danger as well as because he would not allow her to accompany her on the voyage. They had argued long into the night until she agreed
to remain at home with the children, at least for this one voyage. Gilwen, Isilmir and even little Cami had accompanied their parents on a number of voyages to the north, even to the Grey Havens. But this time,
they could not come along and Mithadan had steadfastly insisted that his wife stay with them. "Perhaps six weeks at the most," he said. "Likely five or less. We will not be long separated."

Three weeks and five days had now passed since they had left port. The Lonely Star's holds were nearly empty. The ship had carried a cargo of fine wood from Lebennin as well as the work of Gondor's craftsmen
when she had departed from Minas Anor. When she reached Umbar, she had been escorted into her berth by a black sailed corsair. The cargo had been off-loaded in a matter of days and had fetched a fine price. Then Mithadan and his crew had been eager to deal with the local traders for spices and other rarities with which to return to Gondor.

But Falasmir's trade minister has suggested (almost demanded) they wait. He explained that a great caravan was expected which
would deliver the best and newest goods at better prices. In the interim, Mithadan and his first mate, Airefalas, were invited to stay at the palace, "for just a few days, until the caravan arrives." In the interim, the crew were invited to shop at the Great
Market and enjoy the hospitality of the port.

Whenever his crew went abroad they were accompanied by guards. Yet even so, it seemed that crewmembers were often separated from their "guides" when in the Market. They learned quickly to maintain their sense
of direction and keep to the north side of the Market, away from the ghettos of the south. At least two of his crew were robbed and beaten when they wandered too far. Others had their purses cut by pickpockets.
Mithadan was ultimately forced to order his crew to stay aboard the ship except in broad daylight while travelling in groups of four or more. Even then, they ventured into the city only one group at a time. It was not long before they became bored and began to
complain, for the "few days" stretched out to a week and he had heard no word of the caravan, at least until this morning.

A messenger arrived from the trade minister bearing a note. It read: "The caravan is now two days away. Its advance riders have now arrived. Please honor the Lord Falasmir with your presence this evening for dinner, where you will be introduced to Umbar's most
reputable traders. Please attend to the Lord Falasmir this evening at six bells at the Great Hall."

Mithadan placed the note on a table, and turned to Airefalas. "Well, it seems that we may yet escape this place," he said to his first mate. "The caravan approaches and we are invited to dinner to meet some traders."

"Say not 'escape'," said Airefalas. "I do not like the sound of it. Say rather that we will depart with a full hold sooner rather than later. The Lord Falasmir's hospitality aside, I am eager to return
home. I feel as if we have been delayed
intentionally. What can this caravan hold that we cannot purchase here already?"

"I also am ready to leave," answered Mithadan. "I have not been separated from Piosenniel and the children for this long since Cami was but a babe in swaddling cloths. Falasmir, I am sure, wishes only to
present Umbar in the bast light possible. Yet I too chafe at the delay."

"At least the wine is good," said Airefalas with a slight laugh as he raised a cup. "It is the only thing that has kept the crew from mutiny, cooped as they are on the Star."

Mithadan nodded. "They are not yet that bored, and they have had a chance to explore such of the city as they might wish. And they have all filled their cabins with trade goods of their own. They will be happy when we return to Gondor."

Airefalas sipped from his cup and looked out the window at the city. The bray of some beast of burden echoed through the streets below. "None too soon," he muttered.


Rama's First Post:

The piercing rays of the sun coated the buildings and alleyways of Umbar like a thick woolen blanket surrounding the city. It was mid-afternoon, the time when most residents wisely remained under walls and roofs that could shield them from the stifling heat and glare. The streets were bathed in silence, the markets empty. Only a servant or two trudged unwillingly about on business, hauling jugs of water and supplies, or engaging in other errands at the whim of some great lord. Rich or poor, few voluntarily ventured out at this time of day when the air hung so oppresively heavy that it was difficult to catch one's breath.

In a few hours, with the approach of early evening, this scene would dramatically alter. The quiet streets would waken as elegant villas and sqaulid shacks threw back their doors, and residents spilled out onto the streets. Crowded throngs of citizens would go about their business or pleasure often till late into the night. By its very nature, Umbar was a city of darkness. Only at night, or in the few hours immediately following dawn when many still lay abed, could a resident of Umbar conduct public business in reasonable comfort.

A half-shadowed figure stood beside the open casement in the Common Room at The Cat's Paw, a small and ancient hostelry that was tucked away on a forgotten lane far from the main thoroughfares criss crossing the city. The figure at the window instinctively drew back so that she could watch those passing in front of the Inn, while still making it difficult for them to catch a clear glimpse of her own face and figure. The woman appeared to be young, no more than twenty years of age, with masses of cascading black curls framing a well-tanned face and alert brown eyes that were highlighted with flecks of gold. Short and lithe, she sported leather boots and a scarlet pelicon elaborately embroidered with silhouettes of birds worked in golden thread. This was worn over a pair of long pants that flared out almost like a skirt, an outfit in which she could sit astride a horse with ease but still manage to blend into the finest establishments of Umbar. Tucked deep under her belt within a leather sheath, she carried two jambiyas, the traditional doubled-edged curved daggers of the southern peoples.

To her friends and family she was 'Rama', a name that means 'Wing of the Eagle'. Those in Umbar regarded her as a well-to-do Mannish desert dweller, a representative of one of the more powerful tribes living in the region to the east. She did nothing to dispel that illusion, which was essential to her safety and that of her people. In truth, the woman was a Skinchanger, one of those rare folk who are spoken of in legend, much feared and courted by so-called normal men. She had been sent on an errand by her own tribe, those few who rejected the overall leadership of the confederated clans. Her ostensible mission was to represent her kin in their business dealings with the wealthiest families of Umbar. In this regard, Rama could offer her customers three exceptional commodities that were much prized by those of high rank and fortune: the rare white merino sheep whose silky wool was so valued by ladies at court, the sturdy camels who could glide like ships across the deep sands, and, sweetest of all, the prized stallions and mares who ran as sure and fleet as the wind roaring across the desert.

Yet, at the moment, Rama's mind was not on trade, nor even on the horses that she loved. She uneasily surveyed the street below, searching vainly for any sign of her kinsman who was now some two hours late. The woman's fingers drummed nervously against the window ledge as she considered what to do. For trade was only a small part of her assignment.. Her proud parents and kin preferred to lead their own lives in fierce independence and eschew any involvement with outsiders, almost like solitary eagles atop a cliff. But that had become increasingly difficult. Disturbing rumors swirled through the desert. These rumors spoke not of harassment and attack on the part of Mannish clans, an all too common occurence when men awoke to the reality of Skinchangers in their midst. Rather, they spoke of a new threat from within her own people: Skinchangers who wanted to expand their influence outward and who threatened to eliminate all those refusing to give proper allegiance to the main wyrm chieftain.

These charges and concerns were not new, but lately they had taken on a more somber tone. Since her own family and kin had no intention of honoring the directives of the wyrm leader, such rumors posed a serious threat. She and her elder cousin Thorn had been sent to gather whatever information they could to find out what lay behind all this. In most lands to the north and west, one as young as Rama might not have been burdened with such a task. But this was Umbar, and young ones grew up fast. Either that, or they perished from the dangers and intrigues that constantly surrounded them. Rama knew that most young women her own age were already married, or at least have secured promises for the future. That was not an option for her. Pushing down the bitterness that threatened to surface again, she forced herself to concentrate on the immediate problem at hand.

That evening, she was expected to attend an audience at the Great Hall of Lord Falasmir as one of the traders in the area to meet with foreign shipowners from the city of Minas Tirith. The shipowners did not interest her in the slightest. But the chance to gain admission to court and pick up information was another thing. Surely she could arrive at the palace just a few hours early to make some polite inquiries as to the whereabouts of her cousin who was supposed to be tending several prized steeds that Falismar had recently purchased from her clan. Or perhaps she could even make discreet inquiries and learn something more of those strange rumors.

How she hated playing a game like this! She would rather have been free to ride out of the city and return to the wild desert lands that she loved. Only there would she find a way through to solve her personal dilemma. But that, too, was a luxury she could ill afford. Rama pushed personal thoughts from her mind one last time and went out to saddle Kyelek, quickly making her way into the street and turning the animal's nose in the direction of the palace.

---------------------

Additional Characters:

Baran (Mithadan) - A Beorning who has journeyed to Gondor seeking news of his kin, the Shapechangers.

Chief of the Wyrm Clan (Estelyn Telcontar)

Airefalas - First Mate of the Lonely Star.

Member of the Wyrm Clan (Kuruharan)

Members of the "Rebel" Clans

NOTE: Some of the foregoing characters have posted in The Seventh Star Inn. Many of their posts will be moved to the RPG thread once it opens.
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Old 12-17-2003, 05:42 PM   #2
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Old 12-17-2003, 10:58 PM   #3
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Greetings, all! Thanks for accepting Airefalas as First Mate on the Lonely Star. Here's his Bio. I hope it will be acceptable. If there are any changes you believe I should make, please let me know. I'm still a little foggy on time frame, so my age/year calculations may need some adjustment. (Also, I'm working on a first post.) Thanks!

Name: Airefalas

Age: 29

Race: Men

Gender: Male

Appearance: He is darkly tanned with long, wavy dark brown hair that he keeps tied back in a pony tail most of the time. His eyes are gray-green. He is about 6' tall with a slim, though muscular build.

Weapons: dagger and sword.

Personality: Airefalas is an experienced and knowledgeable seaman. He takes his duties on board ship very seriously, whether he is first mate or captain. As a first mate, he is impeccably loyal to his captain and conscientious of his duties, always putting the welfare of his captain and crew above his own wants or needs. Having been a captain in the past, he is capable of taking charge of the ship, should it be required of him for any reason. He is a good strategist and fearless in a fight. He has a quick sense of humor and enjoys a good laugh, but has a strong independent streak that does not react well to being manipulated or bullied. He has a very strong sense of self, and his actions are generally ruled by a rather strict code of right and wrong. His word is as good as a promise.

Strengths: His extensive knowledge of ships and the sea. His courage, loyalty, and integrity.

Weaknesses: He can be quite bull-headed when he thinks he (or anyone else he considers his responsibility) is being treated unfairly. His stubbornness can also be a problem when he feels strongly that a situation is being mishandled.

History: Airefalas grew up in Minas Tirith, the second son of a wealthy and powerful merchant. At fourteen years younger than his older brother Avarlond, Airefalas' arrival into the world was a surprise to his parents, who had been laboring under the misapprehension for years that they were unable to have any more children. As a child, Airefalas' mother doted on him and indulged him to the point that he was well on his way to becoming a totally spoiled mama's boy. To nip that in the bud, his father sent him to sea when he was nine, two years prior to the War of the Ring. It was a tense and difficult time, but Airefalas learned his trade well. To the disappointment of his mother, he took to the seafaring life with gusto. He grew up to be a strong, self-possessed young man, and having been introduced to the sea at a time of war, has an especially well-honed battle sense.

Working his way up through the ranks as he grew older, Airefalas became well-known in the sea-faring community and soon became a much-sought-after first mate, and, later, captain. His father passed away five years ago, at which time Avarlond took over their father’s business. As second son, Airefalas inherited nothing, but continued to command ships belonging to his brother at great profit to both his brother's firm and to himself.

Airefalas began to think about getting married and settling down a bit. He met, courted, and eventually proposed marriage to Lady Isabel, the only daughter of a rather wealthy, though eccentric lord. Isabel is a spoiled and superficial girl, but is extremely beautiful and has a good heart. Airefalas also believes that she has many other strengths that remain hidden and just need a little life experience to reveal them. Even so, whether those strengths ever manifest themselves or not, he loves her very much and, even though she's been rather coquettish about it, he knows she loves him as well. She accepted his proposal and the two of them started planning their wedding. Then everything fell apart.

As captain of Avarlond's ship Amarantha, Airefalas went on a trading mission to Dol Amroth. On the return journey, heavy-laden with cargo, they ran afoul of a fierce storm that snapped a mast, as well as causing some other severe damage to the ship. In the aftermath of the storm, the wind died. Catching what wind he could, Airefalas limped the ship into a quiet cove for repairs where they were surprised by a pair of corsair slave galleys. Airefalas first tried to outrun them, even casting most of the cargo and a lot of their supplies overboard to make the ship ride lighter in the water, but with no wind and a missing mast, it was to no avail. Being a merchant vessel, they were not armed well enough to defend against two attackers and were eventually boarded. Airefalas and his crew fought hard, but were defeated and taken prisoner. The ship and what remained of the cargo was seized by the corsairs. The Amarantha’s crew were forced to row in the galleys (a fate which Airefalas and his officers were spared) until Avarlond paid the ransom and brought them home.

Furious at the loss of both his ship and its cargo, not to mention having to pay a ransom on top of it, Avarlond blamed Airefalas for the loss and demoted him from captain to first mate for any subsequent voyages, implying to Airefalas that he would only get second rate ships for awhile until he could prove himself once more and work his way back up through the rankings. Incensed, Airefalas confronted Avarlond, stating that he had done everything in his power to save the Amarantha. Avarlond refused to listen, which resulted in a terrible argument and Airefalas’ angry resignation from Avarlond’s employment.

In the aftermath of the argument, Airefalas’ wedding to Lady Isabel was postponed indefinitely by her father. Angry and wishing to prove himself not just to Avarlond, but to the world at large, Airefalas began looking for employment elsewhere. Hearing that Mithadan and the Lonely Star would soon be sailing for Umbar, and that the ship was in need of a first mate, Airefalas applied for the position and was hired.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:31 AM December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 12-18-2003, 12:38 AM   #4
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Name: Ráma

Age: 19

Race: Skin-changer (Mannish)

Appearance:

In outward appearance, Ráma looks much like any young woman of the Mannish tribes whose home lies in the desert east of Umbar. Few would suspect that she was actually a Skin-changer, one of a legendary race said to possess a natural gift of taking on different shapes and hues.

Ráma has warm brown eyes flecked with gold and skin that's tanned to a honey brown from long exposure to the sun. Dark brown tresses frame her delicate features, cascading down her back. An active person who can not bear to sit in one place for more than a few minutes, Ráma is small and lithe and moves with easy grace.

Ráma prefers breeches or skirts with deep slits that make it easier for her to run or sit astride a horse. Yet she also delights in brightly colored clothing and richly embroidered vests. Like many of the desert women, she wears gold and silver chains, bracelets, and necklaces that jangle as she walks.

Weapons: dagger and bow.

Personality/Strengths/Weaknesses:

Ráma is a physically attractive woman, but it is the warmth of her heart and her impetuous spirit that draws friends to her side. With her genuine concern for people and her gentle teasing ways, she is well liked by many in her clan.

Yet, beneath this pleasing exterior, she harbors real concerns. Most Skin-changers acquire the ability to take on one or more forms as soon as they reach adolescence. Although Ráma is eighteen years old, she has not yet been able to do this. She watched friend after friend go through this transformation and be welcomed into the tribe as adults. Yet she is still locked within her body, something she can not easily understand or accept.

Her mother Ayar, who is the clan's matriarch and chief, has counselled her to be patient: that it is not unheard of for a young man or woman to develop some abilities later than the others. Ráma loves her mother deeply, but feels these words provide little consolation.

Feeling inherently different from her peers, Ráma stubbornly drives herself to master tasks that are usually reserved for men or for those older than herself. With her mother's encouragement, she has become an accomplished horsewoman and a student of the bow and dagger, while also learning the skills needed to trade and negotiate with the Haradrim and act as an envoy for her people. Still, she is uneasy about her predicament and secretly wonders if someone as powerful as the wyrm leader could possibly remedy her problem.

Family and Clan:

Ráma's twin sister Narika already has the ability to take on four separate forms, including that of the eagle. Although physically identical, the girls are different in many other respects. Narika is introverted and studious, showing all the signs of developing into an expert loremaster and singer; Ráma was always accounted to be the wild one, racing through the desert on the back of her silver mare Kyeleka.

The two girls live with their mother, since their father Liki was killed several years earlier when the followers of the wyrm invaded their encampment. Although very close as children, Narika and Ráma now find their relations strained with Ráma envious of her sister's burgeoning ability to shift and control her form.

Ráma's own clan is known as the Clan of the Eagle as this is the final form that many of her kin adopt. The men and women make their livelihood by raising sheep and camels, and breeding fine horses. They trade these beasts to the Haradrim in exchange for money and needed goods.

Most members of the clan wish to be left alone in peace and to have as little to do with the outside world as possible. But increasingly, Wyrma's influence has invaded their lives and made it difficult to stay aloof.

With rumors flying rampant about a possible attack to be launched by supporters of Wyrma, the Elders are using Ráma to travel to the city of Umbar both to trade and gather information. In this work, she is under the protection of her older cousin Falasmir who has secured a position in one of the wealthiest households in Umbar. This is the situation in which we find Ráma at the beginning of the story.

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

Rama's first post appears earlier on this thread.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 4:18 PM January 11, 2004: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 12-18-2003, 02:23 AM   #5
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Ealasaide:

Time Frame for the Game


Fourth Age - Year 18

Trade relations are just opening up between Gondor and the Southlands, represented by Umbar.
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Old 12-18-2003, 08:27 AM   #6
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Thanks, Pio! That's what I thought. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-18-2003, 12:04 PM   #7
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‘Wyrma’, a middle-aged female skin-changer, is the leader of her people. Though it is not so unusual for individual clans to have matriarchal leaders, she is the first female to be the chief of all groups since many generations.

Her iron-grey hair is pulled back austerely, as if to prevent it from developing a mind of its own, and her dark brown eyes reveal nothing of what she thinks or feels. A square jaw shows determination, even ruthlessness, and her nose is prominent. Her stature is stocky and sturdy, almost massive. Though she is not overly tall, she stands and sits very straight, making her an imposing appearance.

She was born as one of twins, her brother being only minutes older than she. For the first years of their lives, they were very close, spending much time playing together and needing no other companions. She was hot-tempered, and though her brother was lively as well, he was more thoughtful and had a calming influence on her. Unfortunately, her brother was kidnapped at the age of ten while on a trip with her father. She blamed their father for not being able to protect her twin; he was a rather gentle man, and she came to despise his character and consider him weak. Her mother was desolated at losing her only son, since the birth of the twins had cost her so much strength that she was not able to have more children afterwards. She faded away slowly, and her daughter took over the reins of the household.

Her temperament and the wrath that she felt after her brother’s disappearance combined to bring her shape-changing abilities to fruition unusually early, within months of losing her twin. Even more unusual was the fact that the first shape she took on was a dragon; normally, skin-changers had to practice with other forms before acquiring the ability to take on Wyrm form. Her grandfather, then leader of the Wyrm clan and therefore of all skin-changers, took her under his wings, grooming her to be his successor. He was the first to call her ‘Wyrma’, an affectionate feminine diminutive of his own title ‘The Wyrm’, and this name was soon adopted by others. ‘Wyrma’ was content to leave the childhood name that reminded her of her twin behind her; she no longer wanted to think of him and wonder whether he still lived or, worse yet, had been corrupted by his evil captors.

By the time she was fully mature, she was her grandfather’s right hand and had learned much from him. Her quick anger had been tempered by cold reason and she had taken on her grandfather’s imperial manners. He felt his strength gradually waning and considered her much more suited to take over the rule of his people and carry out his plans of building an empire than his own sons were. Her father did not have the ability to take on dragon shape, so he could not become the chief leader; two of his brothers who would have been possible successors became mysteriously ill and died within a year. By the time her grandfather died as well, Wyrma was firmly ensconced as the next in line and was chosen by her clan and her people.

In the years since she has become leader, she has coaxed, persuaded and threatened them to establish city dwellings, to consolidate and to arm themselves. She is firmly resolved never to be weak and vulnerable. She is also resolved never to let a man rule over her and never to let her heart be hurt by loving someone as she did her brother. She chose a husband for dynastical reasons and has several sons, though it is whispered that not all of them are his. She is not of attractive appearance, though always impeccably groomed; however, men are attracted to her power and she makes use of them to further her own interests or fulfil her own desires. She trusts none of them. Her sons vie with one another for her attention and approval, and she encourages their rivalry in order to make them strong, as she thinks.

No one knows just how high Wyrma’s ambitions are, though some suspect that she will use all means and go to all ends to achieve them. If this means violence against her own kind to further the well-being of all as she sees it, she will not hesitate. She is looking to the surrounding kingdoms for allies, but on her own terms. Though a formidable opponent, she can hide her plans behind a polite mask and is not above using devious methods to achieve her goals. She is respected and feared, but not loved, and that is just how she would have it.


(First post - to be written after the holidays)

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 1:04 PM December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 12-18-2003, 12:40 PM   #8
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An excellent start! Welcome Esty and Ealasaide and thanks for joining us. You may both be receiving e-mails or PMs regarding your early posts for the RPG.

To clarify a few details regarding the Wyrm Clan and the Wyrm leader, very few SCs can acheive the form of the dragon, often only one per generation and rarely more than 2 or 3. These persons are generally kin to the Wyrm leader. The form has never manifested outside the Wyrm Clan. Thus, the requirements for becoming "The Wyrm" are that the candidate be kin to the prior leader(s) and have the ability to take the dragon form.
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Old 12-18-2003, 02:35 PM   #9
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Ah yes, I can see how some of what I wrote could be misinterpreted; however, nothing is in actual contradiction with what you said, Mith. I'll leave it as is unless you think it needs editing.
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Old 12-18-2003, 04:22 PM   #10
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If I may ask a quick question. “Rebel SC’s” could be independent of their clans, is that correct? Or have whole clans become rebel SCs? This later idea would seem risky, as there are bound to be dissenters who cause mischief.
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Old 12-18-2003, 04:26 PM   #11
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The Rebels include individuals, groups and possibly whole clans or segments thereof. You can assume that the rebels are loosely affiliated and probably tend to move around. There is, no doubt, the risk of betrayal.
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Old 12-18-2003, 04:51 PM   #12
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Rama's clan, the Clan of the Eagles, is a totally "rebel" clan. But certainly, there are individuals who have also turned their back on the wyrm.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:52 PM December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 12-18-2003, 06:18 PM   #13
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Ah, good! Thank you very much!
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Old 12-18-2003, 08:22 PM   #14
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Welcome Hilde! We look forward to reading your character profile.

Backstory - Baran (Mithadan):

Baran was a Beorning. He grew up in the northern vales of the Anduin near the fabled Carrock. At the time of this tale, he was 30 years of age, though some among his people might have argued that he acted like a lad of ten summers.

Baran was large, a full two meters tall and a bit more, but he was broad shouldered, heavy boned and well-muscled. His hair, was long and tied in a single plait reaching halfway down his back, and was brown as the leaves of an oak tree in the fall. The length of his hair in back was nearly matched by his long and curling beard in front. He wore rough but comfortable clothing of earthy colors and his boots were of some sturdy padded cloth. He often went abroad with a staff, and like many of his people carried also a stout-bladed knife but no other weapons.

When Baran was but five years of age, his father was slain in battle with Orcs from Dol Guldor. Thereafter he was raised by his mother, Borwë and his grandmother, an elderly woman who was nonetheless wise beyond her years. Most among the Beornings cared little of history unless it involved tales of battles, but Baran's grandmother was steeped in the lore of her people and it was from her that he learned of the Beornings' great journey eastward when they fled the ancient shadow and their parting from their kin, the Maenwaith, the "skilled ones" who could take many shapes.

Baran himself learned the shape of the great brown bear early in his youth. However, he could not understand why the Beornings could take but one form when their kin could take many. His grandmother would grin when he asked of this and merely respond, "That is why they are called the Skilled." Indeed, the Maenwaith had been but a fable to the Beornings. None had been seen in many lives of Men. But just five years before Baran was born, a young girl, little more than a toddler, had been brought to the Carrock by strangers who had come up the Anduin, apparently on foot. They left the child there and, the tale went, shifted into birds that winged away towards the south.

This child, ever after known as Bird, could not become the Bear. But at a young age, she had been cornered alone in the forest by wolves and had escaped even as her friends came up by changing into a black bird. Thereafter many thought her odd, though they treated her kindly. Baran was fascinated by her and spoke with Bird when he could. But when he was but nine years old, she left the Carrock and went off towards the west to seek her fortune and her people.

Baran devoured all the stories of the Maenwaith that his grandmother knew and listened to the tales told by others as well. The legend that one day the darkness would lift and the Beornings would be free to travel westward was well known among his people. Less well known was a tale whispered among the most ancient of the elders, that they would then be reunited with the Maenwaith. And when Baran heard that story he asked if he would then learn new shapes. The elders laughed. "You are a Beorning!" they chided him. "Your shape is the Bear and no other." Yet Baran dreamed of flying as a bird or swimming as a fish.

He was only thirteen when the War of the Ring was fought, but nonetheless joined his people in defending their lodges and homes. He slew his first Orc then, avenging his father, and many more besides. Then the Orcs retreated and soon came the strange tale that the Dark Lord had been defeated by a Hobbit, even one like Bilbo the Great of whom many tales were told. And indeed it seemed that the darkness had lifted. Dwarves, Elves and Men no longer feared to travel and the Beornings grew rich in trade. Some few among the Beornings whispered that they too could travel but they were laughed at by most, for the Carrock was their home.

Baran left his people for the first time at age twenty. He journeyed to the Lonely Mountain where he heard the tale of Frodo and the Ring from no lesser person than Gimli himself. He heard also of the great king of Men, Elessar of Gondor and of how the roads were becoming safer with each passing year. When he returned to his people, his grandmother had fallen ill, and though he stayed with her day and night she faded as all Men must. But before she died, she bade him remember the tales and pass them on to others. But she also said that he should not fear to make tales, not just of words but by deeds.

He stayed among his people for three more years, then one spring he left and travelled west. He at least would follow the legend and maybe even find the Maenwaith. And maybe someday he would fly back to the Carrock to tell his people tales of his own...

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:59 PM December 22, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 12-23-2003, 08:19 PM   #15
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Hey hey hey! Sorry it took me so long to pop by, But I'm here now! [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

I have one or two questions,
Do the Evil SC's have to be members of the Wyrm clan or can they be members of an allied clan?

And do the animal forms the Sc's take have to be indicative of their natural surroundings or can their forms be widely varied? ie wolves and such creatures that would not usually be accustom to the hot climates of Haradwaith, but may have been the form of their fore fathers before they fled south?
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Old 12-24-2003, 08:23 AM   #16
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Welcome Nerindel!

Evil SCs may be part of the Wyrm clan or another clan.

The Maenwaith can assume any animal shape that they might be familiar with. This might include animals which are not native to the south if other members of the clan, through tradition or otherwise, know the form. Shapes are often not a matter of will but rather inherent to the SC's character. Each SC may have more than one shape though only the most powerful can take more than 2 or 3 shapes. The shape a SC can assume is also indicative of personal power/skill.
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Old 12-24-2003, 05:13 PM   #17
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Thanks that works with the character I have in mind, now just to find some time to write. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Have a Merry Christmas everyone.
~Nerindel [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:42 AM   #18
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Mae Govannan to you all.

Hope your christmas was merry and new year fortunate and happy.

I'm now back in my office after my adventuring and very much looking forward to this RP. It is late here and I've been busily catching up on the boards in general. I have an outline in my head for a SC character.

Yet to decide if she's rebel or evil though... I must confess that I accidentally deleted the list of available characters from my pm in my over zealous clean up of my p.m box.

Could someone please refresh this buffoon's memory on what roles are about so that I can be sure the character I am shaping fits with rp needs?

Apologies for being a confusticatory pain in the proverbial.... neck. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

[img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:55 AM   #19
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I hope that this character is acceptable for a rebel SC, and my apologies for delay.
--------------------------------------------

Name: Surinen

Age: 24

Race: Man of the Maenwaith, Eagle Clan

Gender: Male

Appearance & Weapons:
When placed next to those of more distant lands, Surinen is by no means an imposing figure. He appears slight and wiry, at perhaps 5’ 7” tall.

Most often found wondering among the flocks with lance in hand, dressed in a long light shirt and loose breeches with an intricately woven belt at his waist, he looks as if he might be a Haradrim shepherd. An ornate curved dagger on a woven woolen cord is swung across one shoulder, and on the other a light grey shawl. But on closer inspection one will find that his serious expression will easily melt into a ready smile, his dark eyes that appear black and shining, edged with traces of a more merry nature. Thick black hair ending in ringlets above his shoulders and a scant beard edge the boundaries of a warmly toned face with its toothy grin.

Strengths:
Kind hearted and self-reliant, Surinen is an agile tracker as well as an excellent guard.

Weaknesses:
Pessimistic at heart, he has a penchant for worrying, and will rigorously avoid getting involved in disputes, though he will rush without thought to help a friend or to fight against what he perceives as dangerous or evil. He is critical of misbehavior, but does not harbor ill feelings.

Personality:
Although Surinen always appears to be in good spirits he is actually cynical, dividing those he knows into the categories of friends and potential opponents, but to those he deems friends he remains devoted. He is wary of strangers, remaining aloof though seemingly cheerful and hospitable as dictated by the severe conditions of life in the desert.

History:
The occupants of Surinen’s tent consist of his aging father Dinsûl and elder sister Mîrya, and it is under their care that he remained, his mother having succumbed to the harsh conditions leading up to the War of the Ring.

Surinen has always been close to his father, who for many a year has been a bread maker for the surrounding families. At a very young age, sitting at his father’s feet, Surinen would pour fistfuls of grain his sister had cleaned into the center of the small grinding stones as his father crushed them into a fine warm flour for that day’s work. Then the women would begin arriving, bringing with them water and sometimes herbs or spices to be included in their families portion, they would pinch young Surinen’s cheeks telling Dinsûl what a handsome and helpful son he had, while Mîrya would laughingly refer to him as the fine young pup who sat at her father’s feet. At this Dinsûl would smile and stroking his son’s hair remark that he could have no more faithful a child than this, who would suffer such indignity at the hands of women to help his father at work.

As he become older his responsibilities grew as well as his disapproval of his sister. For she considered him old fashioned and boring and grew jealous of her father’s affections, while Surinen viewed her as vain and reckless. One evening as they sat outside the opening of their tent, Surinen felt peculiar and began pacing as he listened to his sister once again complaining that she hadn’t any red color or blue as she sat weaving a new yoke for her dress. As he watched her hands gesturing with pronounced elegance punctuating her tired singsong laments he began to feel angry and strangely alert. Catching sight of his stare Mîrya dropped her shuttle and changing rapidly into a desert lark flew away to perch in a safer setting. Startled, Surinen found that he had indeed become a dog, and baring his teeth had been threatening his sister.

Dinsûl banished Surinen for a time after that, and he spent his evenings out guarding the flocks, learning to control this form he had taken. Only when he had gained mastery of it was he allowed back with the promise that he would not harm any under his father’s protection. And for many years he kept this oath.

But one day after drawing water for the animals, he had overheard his sister telling Dinsûl of a caravan she had seen. And urging him to join it, she pleaded with him that they might leave Surinen and the rest of the Eagle clan, to go to the city and live more easily as was the Great Wrym's desire. As she left the tent, Surinen rushed at her and chased her flying form, guarding for many days against her return. When next he entered his father’s tent Surinen knelt and bowed low before his father’s feet and then standing up he presented him a single feather from a lark.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 2:29 PM December 28, 2003: Message edited by: Hilde Bracegirdle ]
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Yet to decide if she's rebel or evil though... I must confess that I accidentally deleted the list of available characters from my pm in my over zealous clean up of my p.m box.

Could someone please refresh this buffoon's memory on what roles are about so that I can be sure the character I am shaping fits with rp needs?
Elora,

Just a thought....

Right now, we have more characters representing the "good" side than the "evil" side:

GOOD:

Radagast ( istar )
Pio (Elf)
Mithadan (Man)
Airefalas (Man)
Baran (Beorning)
Ráma (rebel SC - Eagle clan)
Surinen (rebel SC - Eagle clan)
Rôg (SC from the Southlands)


EVIL:

Wyrma (evil SC - wyrm clan)
*Kuruharan (evil SC)
*Nerindel (evil SC)

* under development

Would it make more sense for you to sign up with the baddies in some shape or form?

Anyone else have thoughts on this? Or is there another specific character we're missing?

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:56 PM December 28, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 12-28-2003, 05:23 PM   #21
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That mirrors my thoughts when reading through the characters already assembled.

I shall continue shaping a SC character to ally herself with the nefarious Wyrm. She shall be pragmatic and avaricious, hence her allegiance to Wyrm clan as she shall see that as being her best ticket to advance her own ambitions and wealth.

I shall post a complete description for your review by tonight (my time).

My thanks for your advice.
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Old 12-29-2003, 11:17 AM   #22
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Welcome Elora!

Everyone, I've opened the game thread. Pio will be posting the various posts from the Seventh Star in an appropriate order on the RPG thread.

We will start slowly, given the constraints of the holiday season. Expect things to speed up after the New Year.

If you haven't already, please post your profiles/backstories and proposed first posts here. If you have questions about context, location, or other matters, feel free to ask here or via PM.
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Old 12-29-2003, 02:39 PM   #23
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Regarding relevant characters currently appearing in the Seventh Star... should I continue posting with Avarlond & Isabel in the Seventh Star? Or, now that the posts have been copied to the game thread, do I move them there? Just wondering. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-29-2003, 02:56 PM   #24
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Soon, all of the action will move from Gondor to the South. Piosenniel will have no more posts in the Inn as far as the game thread goes.

I would suggest you continue to develop Isabel and Avarlond in The Seventh Star Inn thread for now. There may possibly be an opportunity for you to bring them into the game a little later.
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Old 12-29-2003, 04:10 PM   #25
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Okay! That's what I thought, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to make sure. Thanks!
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Old 12-29-2003, 08:53 PM   #26
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Name: Korpúlfr (Norse: Raven wolf)

Age: 25

Race: Skin-changer (Maenwaith)

Gender: Male

Weapons: A Hatchet of his own making, the blade is smooth and unmarked, but the shaft is intricately carved with images of wolves and ravens, he also wears his grandfathers sword.

Appearance: Korpúlfr is 5 ft 2" with thick raven black hair, which is usually tied back at the nape of his neck, he has a lithe form and an olive complexion and his bright, sharp eyes are dark brown in colour. He wears the attire of a wealthy Harad merchant.

Personality: Korpúlfr is handsome and well liked within his clan, but he harbours a strong distrust of outsiders, and bares a great resentment towards corsairs and harad warriors who in the name of the dark lord almost drove his clan to extinction (something wyrm and her advisors have deepened with embellish truths and Harad accounts of the wickedness of the men of Gondor and the north who try to steal lands) . But he is no fool and is smart enough to realise that without trading with his enemies their new way of life would fail, So he tries to bury his feelings and takes great pleasure in taking their gold to line his pockets and fund the advancement of his people. But his distrust blinds him to the deception of Wyrma and her clan. He is strong in his beliefs especially were his clan is concerned.

Strengths: Korpúlfr has become a skilled warrior and a keen trader, able to turn a profit with his smooth and confident demeanour.

Weaknesses: He can be quite stubborn and head strong.

History: Korpúlfr is the son of the leader of the wolf clan, Hálfr (high wolf), born in the year 3014 of the third age. The wolf clan are so called as they are a tightly knit, highly organised group whose leaders and elders chose to take the form of these mighty hunters. But during the dark years the wolf clan were hunted by the servants of Sauron, for the dark lord like his old master wished to corrupt and manipulate their abilities to his own designs.

Korpúlfr's early childhood was marred by these attacks which forced their clan deep into the mountains, but Saurons servants were relentless and many of the clan were captured including Korpúlfr's mother and several older cousins and only with the aid of the great Wyrm clan did Hálfr and the remainder of his clan survive the war. The Wyrm clan taught them to integrate into the cities, and for this aid his grandfather Aldúlfr (old wolf), the then leader vowed their undying allegiance to the Wyrm and his/her clan. The present Wyrm, Wyrma is always quick to remind them of their vow!

The wolf clan slowly adapted to city life and flourished, their numbers again increasing. Before he died, Korpúlfr's grandfather insisted that he be taught letters and numbers and the ways of his people, that he would become leader after his father. He learnt well and at the age of eleven his first transformation was that of a wolf cub playful and wily, but this form has grown with him as his skill increases and he now takes the form of a young adult grey wolf. But this is not the only form he can take, he often takes the form of a dark raven, soaring to great heights and perching in tall trees to listen to the chatter of their neighbours in Umbar.

Korpúlfr, like his father trades in spices and fine silks. While adapting to their new lifestyle they discovered that spices were a much sought after commodity and that their women especially those who took the form of butterflies and bees were skilled in growing the plants and flowers from which these spices could be produced. The males of their clan who were primarily hunters now protect the city and it's inhabitants teaching those willing to learn the art of defence and some say lately also attack at the request of Wyrma whose clan they have sworn loyalty to.

Korpúlfr like his father believes that it is in the best interest of the sc society if the clans unite; not only would they never again be threatened by the greed and corruption of weak hearted men, but they would no longer have to hide who and what they are and they would prosper. But unlike his father and the leaders of the wyrm clan he doubts if force is the right way to go about implementing this unity, he knows in his heart that both his grandfather and mother would not have condoned such actions against their own people, but neither does he hold with the rebels, for he thinks them foolish not too want more for their people than to lead simple lives, always hiding or running from those who would seek to destroy them.

It is widely rumoured that Wyrma's youngest son, Tinar is Korpúlfr's half brother and that is how his father secured his position as trade and arms master, which both young men deny irrefutably. Although it grits at him that his father may have betrayed his mothers memory, he is not immune to using this knowledge to his advantage. Superficially Korpúlfr and Tinar seem to be close friends, but under the surface there is rivalry and mistrust. Korpúlfr see's the gain in their friendship and does what he can to aid Tinar's sucession over his brothers, so setting up his position as the next wyrm's right hand.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

I hope this character meets with your expectations. Not altogether evil but allied with the Wyrm clan. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

I have another paragraph that will be added if it meets with Esty's approval.

once I hear from her I will also put up my first post for the game.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:06 PM January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Nerindel ]
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Old 12-29-2003, 08:54 PM   #27
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Character Description Form: Adanel Luinlil

NAME: Adanel Luinlil

AGE: 31

RACE: Mannish (Shape Changer)

GENDER: Female

WEAPONS:
Adanel carries a small dagger in a discreet location. Should if be seen on her person, her life is forfeit as is her honour and possessions.

APPEARANCE:
Adanel has dark hair that curls thickly to her waist. When in sunlight, her hair is lit by lighter, chestnut gleams of colour. Usually her hair is bound into a thick braid that either hangs free down her back or is wound about her head in the heavy heat of the South. It is let to fall free whilst she is performing. Her skin is lightly tanned, the colour deepening when exposed to protracted sunlight. Her eyes are green. She stands at 5’4”, and is described as comely for her face and graceful form.

She is usually garbed in the clothing of her craft, Desert Dancer. This varies according to the customs of the place she is performing in and whether she is on stage or not. Her performance costumes vary widely from wildly colourful and tasselled dresses, with bright beading and ribbons adoring sleeves, bodice and the ruffled skirts of the inland tribes of the South to the more ornate, elegant and sheer costumes of the costal tribes. When not on stage or performing, Adanel wears comfortable and practical clothing. She is rarely found in trews. She favours wide skirts and light blouses. She is often barefoot, but wears soft soled calf boots when not dancing.
Like most dancers, Adanel is often seen wearing scarfs and veils, with dangling and chiming jewellery at her brow, ears, neck, wrist, hips and ankle. Her wrists are hennaed in the sigils of fortune born by all Dancers and that of her own Clan, the Kestrel. Her eyes are often outlined in kohl and her generous mouth highlighted by a stain made of crushed berries.

PERSONALITY/STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES:
Adanel is a practical and analytical woman. She is calculating and spends much time in forethought. It rare for her to act thoughtlessly. She has mastered the stage presence of allure, mystery and grace. Often she uses that as a mask for her activities. Adanel is a woman who is well aware of the power and drawbacks of her femininity. She has a formidable grasp of clan customs and law throughout the Southern Lands, as a Desert Dancer is expected to. She knows each leader, their descent and heirs/contenders. Adanel is an accomplished Dancer who travels freely from Clan to Clan, unheeded on the basis of her craft, to attend public ceremonies such as harvest and planting ceremonies, ship namings, business openings, births, marriages, naming ceremonies and so forth. She cultivates actively the persona of dancer, grace and feminine softness of manner and movement.

Adanel is physically fit, as one would expect of a professional dancer, flexible and strong. Theft and information gathering are but two strings to her bow. She has a social and diplomatic flair that is often called upon given her activities, dancing or otherwise. Adanel also has a strong love of gold and other forms of wealth. This can be seen in her costumes, which are renowned for their luxuriant vivacity.

Adanel’s weaknesses are considerable. She is a proud woman, who thinks herself above most others. It is hard for her to accede to another’s power or authority. She finds it hard to answer to her superiors and chafes at confinement of service, duty or location. Adanel is a woman who cannot remain idle and her patience is legendarily as brief as her temper is explosive. She is known to adhere to the practise of revenge and bears a grudge indefinitely. Forgiveness and mercy are not qualities she admires.

Accustomed to doing for herself, Adanel will grudgingly accept company provided her own status is not impeached. She rarely forms bonds with others for any other than self-serving and practical reasons. Adanel’s ambition burns hot and has done so since she was a child. She is manipulative and not to be trusted for any reason. Adanel is a brightly coloured viper, for all her beauty and femininity.

HISTORY:
Adanel was born into the Kestrel Clan, located on the coast of Harad. They are a small holding, fishing folk for the largest part, and dependant on trade and alliances with other clans for their survival. She soon found this to be a cloying and suffocating environment and Adanel was known to be an agitant for discord and trouble from an early age. Despite her wayward behaviour, Adanel proved bright and rapidly acquired language and mathematics. Her mind was ever hungry for more and soon the horizons of her village closed in around her.

It was at the Festival of the Turtle, celebrated annually when the prized giant sea turtles came to shore to lay their precious eggs, that Adanel saw her first opportunity for escape. A Desert Dancer had come, to dance for good fortune and blessing of the Kestrel Clan. Adanel was fascinated by the spectacle of the dancer. The visitor was treated with deference and respect, and she commanded the attention of all within the Clan, man, woman and child. To Adanel’s young perspective, the dancer had luxury, respect, power and prestige. Adanel resolved to accompany the Dancer when she left the village at the conclusion of the festival. The village had some doubts, but on the whole were pleased to see Adanel at last find some productive, respectful target for her energies. They apprenticed her gladly and Adanel bid farewell to Kestrel Clan and her parents without so much as a second glance. The freedom of the wide world had captured her attention.

As with most things, the glamour of Desert Dancing was soon exposed for the myth it was. Adanel found herself immersed in a gruelling craft fraught with peril and labour. Her indenture was seven years long, an eternity to 8 year old Adanel. In that time, she had to serve her mistress and her fellow dancers as common slave. When the cooking, cleaning, laundry and endless sewing for the costumes was done, there was the exhausting training that is required to master the art of the fluid, graceful, floating, sinuous Desert Dance. There were the histories and legends told through dance, for each clan and momentous epoch in the South. There was the music and the customs of hospitality to learn also. Desert Dancing was often politicised, given its role at official ceremonies. It was regulated by law, especially concerning the diplomatic nature of the Dancer. A Dancer was sacrosanct, and could not be attacked nor ransomed as hostage in hostilities. Neither could she carry a weapon nor commit acts of violence.

Adanel was nearly 16 and again suffocating in the strictures of her heavily regulated profession when at last she attained the rank of Desert Dancer. But this was only the beginning. Adanel had a long road ahead of her. She had to form a reputation so as to win appointments to prestigious and well paid events. What that meant for Adanel is many appearances at taverns and new businesses, where the official customs concerning Desert Dancers and their status were conspicuously absent. She had to compete with other new Dancers, an often vicious game of sabotage and cruelty to ensure other dancers were unavailable to perform at sought after engagements. There were also the usual dangers of a young woman without the protection of her family. Desert Dancers belonged to all Clans at once, so Adanel was effectively alone in less than seemly taverns, docks, ships, inns and so forth.

All in all, it was a much needed lesson in survival. Adanel did more than survive. Her quick wits, analytical mind and pragmatic nature meant that she formed alliances to suit her as quickly as she broke them. She also, very early on, carried a small dagger. Forbidden as this was, and dangerous for her longevity professionally or otherwise, her dagger won her a path out of unfavourable binds on more than one occasion. Adanel thrived on the competition and challenge and her ambition was to carve out a place for herself unassailable by Clan Leaders, merchants, sailors and the rest of societal scum, as she had come to view her audience.

Her beauty along with her command of stage presence and dancing ability ensured that she achieved exactly this. By the time Adanel was 25, she had established a veritable empire. Desert Dancers were one of the few women permitted to own wealth outright, including property. Their kinless status meant that there was no clan to lay claim to it over her. Adanel amassed wealth from patrons and suitors, allies and enemies (with judicious black mail that only a Dancer familiar with the intimate workings of a clan’s inner life). She established an estate on the outskirts if Umbar. There she held court, acquired staff in various ways and lead the decadent lifestyle she had always longed for. What lead Adanel further into peril was her curious predilection for trouble. Adanel could always find it.

From her erstwhile court at Umbar, by the wild coast, Adanel found her drawn into the intrigues of power between the Clans of her kin, the Shape Changers. She became aware of an emerging power in one Wyrm, a power that could soon reach her own enclave. Adanel was forbidden to hold a position of leadership by her profession. Dancers are rankless and clan-less. However, she found herself alternately perturbed and fascinated by what was unfolding. In typical calculation, Adanel resolved to ally herself with Wyrm. It never entered her arrogant mind that such an alliance would put her in a position of servitude once again.

Adanel made her way with her retinue of musicians, escorts/guards and attendants to see about her alliance. She met with a rude shock when none of this made any impact on the Wyrm. So long had Adanel divorced herself from her kin, she found herself unprepared for their ways and expectations. Adanel was not, however, willing to fall back and return to her estates in defeat and rejection. She began to cultivate ideas about her usefulness and verifying her Shape Changer heritage. What Adanel was most successful in achieving was perverting the office of Desert Dancer to spy and covert agent.

Adanel’s access to all areas, special privileges and freedoms, made her ideal to venture into all clans. Her years of blackmail demonstrated her wiles and expediency. Her willingness to work determinedly to see advancement achieved, for herself through the Wyrm, was never doubted. The Wyrm quickly saw how easily it was to control Adanel, using her pride and vanity. But most of all, Adanel could be placed nearly anywhere, at any occasion, to there observe and work behind the guise of Desert Dancer – sacrosanct, untouchable, unquestionable.

Adanel, for her part, soon perceived the scales of power tipping in the fledgling alliance towards Wyrm, who had never been overtly welcoming towards Adanel. Adanel, used to charming all who crossed her path through wile and manipulation, was disconcerted at first and then growingly concerned. By the time she perceived that she was chained to Wyrm’s ambitions, it was too late to cut free. Adanel was more firmly enslaved by her own hand now than ever before. Her only freedom lay in Wyrm succeeding her ambitions of power and conquest and Adanel would allow nothing to stand in their way.

So it was that Adanel’s petty follies fell deeper into malice and evil, down the slippery slope of amorality, greed, and pride. Murder, direct or otherwise, she added to her talents. She would betray the confidence and hope of those who had confided in her as Dancer whenever it behoved her. She was never without an ulterior motive in the past. Ironically, Adanel’s professional star started to burn all the more brighter. Her peers became afraid of her, and few contended with her for coveted engagements. Adanel secured a place at Minas Arnor with little competition from other Dancers when the position was made available. From there, Adanel served on all errands, large or small, commanded of her by the Wyrm. She found herself dancing for ignorant northerners on the one hand and running treasonous, dangerous or plain demeaning jobs on the other.

When the command to return came, Adanel did so gratefully, ashamed by her eagerness to return like a whipped cur nonetheless. The yoke of service sat uneasily around her neck, but it sat nonetheless. She took berth upon a ship making for Umbar, where she was to remain until further instructions. No sooner had Adanel ensconced herself in the luxury of her estate did command arrive.
Adanel was to perform at the Great Hall of Lord Falasmir. He was to be hosting a dinner for foreign persons of some note. His guests were to then travel on with a caravan that was to arrive some time in the coming three days. Weary as she was, doubting ever more the wisdom of her service to the Wyrm, Adanel prepared herself for the evening and set out. Her instructions were to perform as requested and ensure she secured a place with the caravan. As Dancer, she could travel as she wishes. Wyrm was sure to specify that Adanel must supply her own needs from her own coffers – something that rankled with the avaricious dancer. Her coffers had dwindled too fast, Wrym skimming from her earnings for the better part of the past 4 years. The evening and caravan, with its attendant performances, had best prove worth Adanel’s while, else she would soon turn on her mistress as she had on her unfortunate hosts of the past years.


First Post

The sun was sullenly hovering overhead, burning without care all beneath without thought for those that suffered, or so Adanel thought as she waited in stifling heat before the gates of Lord Falasmir’s Estates. One of her retinue, a tall bald man who carried an imposing set of curved sabres at his back, had knocked on the high gates an hour ago, or so it seemed to Adanel. The Dancer quashed the urge to wipe at the sweat that was beading her brow beneath her veil. She failed to curb the impulse to tap one dainty foot rapidly, pace building to a crescendo that would accompanied by her vocal disapproval if the gate was not soon opened. What sort of barbarian would fail to provide shade for those waiting to enter his estate? Her other attendant, a plainly dressed woman, shifted her weight from her left foot to her right beneath the sun’s glare.
“Cease your fidgeting,” Adanel snapped at her through the pale violet silk of her veil. The woman bowed her greying head, familiar with her mistress’s waspish tongue, and said nothing but thought much. Adanel, who had never dreamt of what her woman might actually think of her, switched her rising ire back to the escort who had knocked at the gate.

“Do so again, and properly this time,” she commanded. He raised a wide fist to comply as the window port was flicked open.

“Yes,” a harried man said through the small space.
“Adanel, Desert Dancer,” said her guard in a rumbling baritone. The man flicked a gaze past his broad shoulder to the woman that stood mysteriously swathed in silk, the weak breeze eliciting a faint chime from somewhere beneath the folds of her veil. His gaze returned to the obviously armed guard with considerable doubt.

“Indeed, and what need does a Desert Dancer have for am armed guard.” It was, after all, widely known that Dancers had no need for personal protection. The potential for insult to her host’s honour loomed dark over this meeting.

“My path took me through the markets, Master, and sometimes in the heat of trade the old customs are forgotten for a moment.” Adanel’s voice was smooth and honeyed. The man examined the forbidding mien of her maidservant a moment longer, eyed her guard’s weaponry and came to a decision.

“The staff entrance is to the side,” he said brusquely and with that closed the portal. Adanel stiffened in rage and insult for a moment. Behind her veil her lips formed a thin vertical line as she ground her teeth over the hot words that burned in her throat. Silent, she spun and stalked towards the staff entrance, leaving the other two to scurry after her. The blessing of the staff entrance was that it afforded a modicum of shade, but Adanel was not minded to be grateful. She was not staff! She was Desert Dancer. Somewhere in a small corner, a voice uncomfortably reminded her that Desert Dancers were not murderers and agents of politics or conquest. Adanel ignored that voice as she did the shade.
The gate was open, her arrival expected, and she was greeted by the man who had turned her back from the main gate. He was tall and thin, his face lined with the experience of the years. She inspected his appearance from the safety of her veil. This time, he bowed, though not deep enough by far.

“Greetings Desert Dancer. We have been expecting you.” Adanel swept through, jewellery chiming with each fluid, determined step. From behind her, the man continued.

“There is, ah, one difficulty. We cannot allow your guard to enter so armed.” The note of disapproval in the man’s voice was clear. Adanel turned in a rush. Her eyes were bright with anger that would slip loose as would her dagger any moment now.

“I would be interested to see you disarm him, Master.” The honey had faded now. The guard in question merely stood where he was, arms by his side, eyes alert and slipping from side to side.

“I must insist, Dancer. Such an impost to Lord Falasmir’s hospitality is intolerable. As you can see, we are well defended and safe enough.” The sound of men gathering behind Adanel merely proved the suggestion more than mere talk. Adanel refused to grant him the satisfaction of turning to view the guards that ranged behind her.

“I have learnt many a strange custom in my recent time spent in Minas Arnor, but this is beyond unusual. I did not know it to be intolerable to allow a Dancer to bring her personal musician with her to her performances.”

The man’s doubt ratcheted higher instantly. With a flick of her wrist, Adanel had her maidservant reveal a small tabla drum from the pack she carried.

“I trust Lord Falasmir has musicians of his own to cater for the pipes and strings.” The honey had returned to her voice, along with a certain smugness. Adanel could either be called a liar, and her untouchable honour impeached, or allowed to proceed. The scowl on the man’s face was as deep as her satisfaction as he stalked forward, muttering “Very well, but his weapons will remain in the custody of my Lord’s guards. If will be so good as to follow, I shall show you to your rooms.”

“Of course,” Adanel murmured smoothly as she fell in behind him. Lord Falasmir’s man disposed of her swiftly once they reached her temporary quarters.

“If there is nothing else, I shall leave you to your peace. Dinner will be at six bells. Lord Falasmir expects you to perform after the repast has been eaten.”
“Naturally,” Adanel said in a somewhat bored voice. “Shall I be seeing Lord Falasmir prior to this evening? It is not uncommon for my patrons to make specific requests of me.”

His retainer swallowed an impatient reply at being tutored in customs of dancing.
“That, I am afraid, shall depend very much on Lord Falasmir’s schedule. His has little free time to squander. Good day,” he replied stiffly, with an even slighter bow.
Adanel swept into an elaborate curtsy as he firmly closed the door behind him. She rose as his footsteps receded down the hall and unwound the veil from her head.

“Unpack my belongings, Irdrain. The emerald costume with the gold and pearls will suffice for this evening’s guests, methinks.”
“Yes, milady.”
Adanel turned to her musician.
“As for you, you have work to do. Return to the markets and see what you can learn of this caravan.” Grared bowed wordlessly, sheathed still in his silence, and withdrew.

“Draw me a bath, Irdrain,” Adanel commanded as an afterthought, shedding her layers as she crossed to the generous tub to there wait imperiously.
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Old 12-31-2003, 04:21 PM   #28
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Surinen – First Post

Dinsûl had not been well as the sun rose that morning, nor had he gotten out of bed. Spending the early hours laying in the cool shade of the tent, his son Surinen wordlessly took over his father’s obligation to the clan, providing the bread for the afternoon meal. Sitting on a worn mat beside the fire, with one knee drawn to his chest, Surinen patted the dough between his uplifted hands forming a well-practiced disk, and slapped it onto the concave iron pan resting over the fire. He watched it closely for a moment and once he saw it puff slightly in the hot pan, turned it over and reached out to shape another portion of dough. After a moment he grabbed the cooked bread and with one hand laid it down on a cloth and struck it, quickly expelling the hot air before placing it under the cloth to wait until it was required. With the other hand he slapped down the next to cook. It was a familiar rhythm, something that could be done with little thought, though the heat of the work was taxing even this early in the day.

Surinen smiled, as a soft muttering emanated from the black darkness of the tent behind him, his father whispering to his dreams. Dinsûl would be right enough given a little more time. It was not often that he had had cause to celebrate in this way and it was not be held against him. For his old friend and cousin had returned after a long absence, and though the desert had not claimed him as had been thought, his people did, and that most joyfully. He came bringing word also that he had heard news of Surinen’s sister Mîrya, who now appeared to be living under the protection of a benefactor some days further west of here. So Dinsûl had felt doubly pleased and had drunk giving expression to twice the amount of thanks, and further multiplying his happiness, until the evening had grown late and Surinen had gone to bring him home, with his many tears of joy and incoherent declarations of gratitude and best wishes.

Setting the last round in the pan to cook, Surinen took the empty vessel where the dough had rested and rubbed it hard with his rough hands, dislodging the small dry bits that adhered there. Gathering them up carefully he placed them before a small bird that was waiting expectantly before him. “Do not worry,” he said. “Dinsûl is not making bread today, but neither will I forget you.”

Having finished his duty, he quickly made coffee over the dying fire and brought a bowl of the bitter drink into the tent. “Father,” he said softly, placing his hand on Dinsûl’s shoulder. “Father, you must awake. The women will be arriving soon and all is ready. Here, have coffee. I have been here too long already and must leave now.”

Dinsûl rolled over and after a moment asked for water, which his son quickly brought to him. “Go son, I am awake. Go and my blessings and thanks go with you.”

Surinen stopped short to watch as he left the tent, for close by a horse and rider thundered hurriedly past toward the leader’s encampment, frightening away the bird that had been picking at the last crumbs of dough. It was Surinen’s fellow outrider Narayad, his lance held high but with no pennant to signal danger. Wondering what tidings brought Narayad so quickly back; Surinen took his own lance from its position by the tent flap and swung up on his horse. He would know soon enough, but sooner yet once he reached the outskirts of the Eagle Clan’s sprawling borders. Turning his horse to follow Narayad’s trail, he quickly headed out past the flocks and herds, into the waste beyond.
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Old 01-01-2004, 11:11 PM   #29
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Airefalas' First Post

Airefalas gazed down into his wine cup as Mithadan nodded. "They are not yet that bored," said Mithadan, speaking of the crew they had left confined to the Lonely Star. "And they have had the chance to explore such of the city as they might wish. And they have filled their cabins with trade goods of their own. They will be happy when we return to Gondor."

Airefalas took a sip from his cup and turned his gaze out the window toward the city below. “None too soon,” he muttered. He had been against Mithadan’s and his move from the ship to the palace in the first place, but had held his tongue and not objected when Mithadan had told him of the plan. Airefalas was well aware that it was a matter of protocol. Mithadan could hardly reject the hospitality of Lord Falasmir without causing Umbar’s principal lord a considerable loss of face, which could lead to a breakdown in the trade negotiations. Nonetheless, Airefalas would have preferred to have remained on the ship. Moored in the shadow of the black-sailed corsair that had escorted the Lonely Star to her berth, the ship was highly vulnerable. On the other hand, he could hardly have allowed his captain to go ashore alone either. Airefalas disliked the options they had been faced with all the way around.

“We’re being manipulated,” he said quietly, putting the wine cup aside. “From the moment we arrived, they began their maneuvering and now they have us at a complete disadvantage. To what purpose, I cannot say, but I honestly feel we are being delayed intentionally. We are at their mercy.”

For a long moment, Mithadan said nothing, but a shadow of a frown passed over his features. “Perhaps you think of them too harshly, Airefalas,” he said at last. “It would be to Umbar’s considerable advantage to establish open trade with Gondor. What could they possibly gain by holding us?”

Airefalas shrugged. “That I don’t know, but I don’t trust them. We should have moored the Lonely Star outside the harbor and outside of their control.” He paused, turning his back to the window and folding his arms stubbornly across his chest. “If you will permit me to speak frankly, I just spent seven weeks as a prisoner on one of those galleys. I know how their captains think. While their hospitality is excellent, they are nonetheless a black-hearted bunch, who would sell their own mothers into slavery if they thought it would bring a grand enough profit.”

Mithadan nodded. “You know you may always speak frankly.” He pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “While what you say may very well be true, what would you have us do? We are here on behalf of King Elessar to open up trade with Umbar. We must behave like diplomats, not churlish boat captains.”

Airefalas laughed. “My apologies, Mithadan.” He raised his hands in friendly surrender. “Of course, you’re right, but the churlish boat captain in me refuses to sit down and be quiet.”

“ I can tell that the waiting is beginning to wear on me,” Airefalas added after a moment. “Caravan or no caravan, I would feel much more secure if we waited on board the Lonely Star and outside the shadow of that black-sailed dromond.”

“I, too, would prefer the situation be something other than what it is,” answered Mithadan patiently. “But, hopefully, the caravan will arrive in two days as expected, and we will be able to conclude our transactions as planned and be on our way. In the meantime, we must enjoy Lord Falasmir’s hospitality and try to make as good a use of our time here as we can.”

Airefalas nodded. “Again, you are right. All I’m saying is that we need to keep our wits about us. They’ve gone to a good bit of trouble to put us at this disadvantage. It would be very unlike the Corsairs not to make use of the situation.”

“I will keep that in mind,” answered Mithadan.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 12:13 AM January 02, 2004: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:09 AM   #30
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Very good all!

Elora, please check your PMs. Thanks.
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Old 01-05-2004, 04:14 AM   #31
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I have a couple of questions to consider while writing my first post: First, is Falasmir a(n) NPC? Or is someone playing his role? Second, would shapechangers recognize each other even when they are not personally acquainted? I'm wondering whether Wyrma would know that Rama is a SC if they should meet at the dinner - or would Rama know what the Wyrm clan leader looks like?

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:21 AM January 05, 2004: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-05-2004, 08:36 AM   #32
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Falsamir is an NPC.

SCs would not necessarily recognize one another, at least in human form. In animal form they might depending upon how the SC is behaving, though such recognition is neither automatic nor "magical" in nature. Example, a moth hovering near someone's shoulder but avoiding light might be a give away.
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Old 01-05-2004, 08:42 AM   #33
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REPOSTED AFTER A CROSS-POST:

I think that Ráma would recognize Wyrma because the eagle clan had once been under her jurisdiction. That is, unless Wyrma had made a big point of remaining incognito within the clans, and never showing her face. But she seems like the type who'd like to strut a bit!


EDIT: Whoops! Mithadan, we cross posted. Yes, I can live with that regarding SC not recognizing each other in human form. But wouldn't Wyrma as the leader be a familiar figure to most SCs? Or is it important that we keep her identity secret for purposes of the story line? What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 01-05-2004, 09:15 AM   #34
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Yes, Wyrma would be familiar to most SCs, particularly members of the "resistance". I was speaking of SCs who do not otherwise know one another.
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Old 01-05-2004, 02:03 PM   #35
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I would prefer it if Maenwaith did not recognise each other as SC's, unless they know each other previously or the character has given some obvious clue.
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Old 01-05-2004, 04:00 PM   #36
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I have other questions similar to the one Esty raised. These affect the story as a whole: what Wyrma does and doesn't know about the rebels, and what the rebels know about her...

1. Do most SCs, or at least most rebels, already know that Wyrma is a counselor at the house of Falsamir, or is that a recent development? Will Ráma be unpleasantly surprised to make that discovery? (That element of surprise might be nice.) Perhaps that is why her cousin in the palace hasn't been in touch with her?...too dangerous now that Wyrma is there.

2. Does Wyrma recognize Ráma as the daughter of the Eagle's chief? Would she know the identity of Ráma's cousin whom I mentioned in my first post as working at the palace in order to gather information? I hope not, or Ráma may have to spend the reception hiding behind a curtain!

If she truly recognized either of these rebels, wouldn't she attempt to eliminate them in a dark hallway somewhere?

3. In general, are Wyrma's opponents from the Eagle clan known to her by face, or are the rebels simply other faces in the crowd she can't identify, perhaps perceived as simply members of the race of Men, or, in a few cases, as generic SCs. If the latter is true, then keeping their identity secret from the Wyrm would have to be an important theme for the rebels. Ráma would not wear her clan totem openly, since Wyrma would understand its significance.

I don't have a sense of how big the "nation" of SCs is and who knows whom by face. It is true that Ráma is the daughter of a clan leader, but this is an age before television and photographs. Perhaps we can assume that only the actual clan leaders would be known to Wyrma by sight?

4. I am making the assumption that Wyrma does not know where the present encampment of the rebels is located. She has perhaps uncovered it in the past and, whenever that happens, my clan and the other rebel sympathizers quickly turned tail and migrated somewhere else. We have not confronted Wyrma's folk in any kind of battle.

Perhaps the coming of the "strangers" and the questions they raise will eventually get us thinking and making a decision to stand our ground or strike back in some guise.

Is this similar to what others are thinking?
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Old 01-05-2004, 04:44 PM   #37
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Responding with my views on your queries (Esty may have different views):

1. I would guess that the SCs at least suspect an alignment of interest between Wyrma and Falasmir. It would be consonant with here desire to convert the SCs from wanderers to city dwellers.

2. and 3. Wyrma would likely know the leaders of other clans as well as prominent individuals within them. Others would either not be known to her or, at best, be known on sight only. She would likely not know either Rama or her cousin unless there were a reason for her to recognize them.

4. Wyrma doesn't know where the rebel encampment(s) is (are). She might even be unaware of any organized resistance (Esty?).
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Old 01-05-2004, 05:04 PM   #38
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Mithadan,

Yes, we need to see what Esty says, but I could live within the parameters yu suggested.

You said something interesting:

Quote:
). She might even be unaware of any organized resistance (Esty?).
Esty, is that the case? What Mith suggested kind of goes along with our discussion by pms about the nature and timing of attacks. Is this indeed the case? It would also fit in with my comment that the rebels have tended towards retreat and hiding rather than open confrontation.
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Old 01-06-2004, 01:18 AM   #39
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Wyrma's first post

The curtain which covered the entry to the Lord Falasmir’s audience hall rustled softly as the woman pulled it aside. She approached ruler’s throne with purposeful, unhasted steps and bowed her head with only as much deference as necessary to greet him.

“Welcome, Lady Wyrma,” he said politely, yet without warmth in his smooth voice. “You have arrived punctually as always. I hope you had a good journey?”

“A journey is always good when it is uneventful,” she replied, almost curtly. “I trust you and your family are well, my Lord Falasmir.”

“As always,” he answered, “as always. However, time is too short to spend in talking of such matters – the appointed hour for the banquet draws nigh and we must plan our course of action well.”

“So you still intend to go through with this – farce?” she said with only a hint of the disdain she felt.

“Of course,” Falasmir replied. “There must be no outward sign that we do not intend to cooperate fully with King Elessar’s plans and wishes. Besides, it does not hurt to remind the traders who holds the power here in Umbar.”

Wyrma curbed the retort that came to her mind; she had long ago learned not to say what she thought without carefully considering the repercussions. Not even among allies did she allow herself to speak freely.

“What are you planning?” she asked instead.

“The northern captain has been told that the awaited caravan arrives in two days. However, at noon of the second day, we shall seize him, his first mate, and the whole crew. If any resist, they will be slain,” he said.

“Would it not be better to rid yourself of them all immediately?” Wyrma queried. “Of what further use can they be to you?”

“Oh, they will show their worth – at the slave market! They are healthy and strong and will bring a good price, I am sure!” Falasmir laughed.

“Live foes can still do mischief,” she said.

“You see matters too sternly, I deem,” came his reply. “Now, have you news from the north?”

“Yes,” she answered. “A messenger has come, bearing tidings that all is ready. It shall take place in seven days.” With a glance at the guards flanking the throne, she said no more.

“Good, good,” he responded, noticing her look with chagrined irritation. Wyrma was an excellent counsellor and a cunning ally, but he did not trust her so far as to meet with her alone and unguarded. She had abilities that made her dangerous, and there was no telling whether she might use them against him. He had the uncomfortable feeling that she knew of his fear and was secretly amused by it.

Well did Wyrma realize his apprehension, and she did nothing to allay it. She knew that fear of the unknown was greater than that of a visible danger and was therefore careful never to reveal herself to him. Indeed, there were few who had seen her true nature made apparent.

Since all that was now necessary had been said, she took her leave, departing by the same doorway which she had entered earlier. It was located at the side of the room and used only by those who were granted the privilege in order to remain unseen by those waiting in the courtyard. The curtained opening led to an antechamber, where two more guards stood. Wyrma ostensibly took no notice of them, just as they appeared not to see her, but she was acutely aware of their interest.

She entered the chambers which she always occupied when staying in the palace. Her maid, who accompanied her on all journeys so that she needed no other assistance, was unpacking the baggage efficiently and quietly. She brushed past a large mirror with only a cursory glance. She needed no mirror to tell her how she looked; beauty was not what she strove to achieve. She knew that she was not an outwardly attractive woman, being too stocky for gracefulness and having stern features that showed no feminine daintiness. That was of no importance to her. She sat down at the desk near the window to peruse the messages lying there.
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Old 01-06-2004, 02:11 AM   #40
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Here are my ideas:

It is in both Wyrma’s and Falasmir’s interest to downplay their alliance, so up till now, her comings and goings in his court have not taken place openly. This reception/banquet could be the first occasion to display that there is more than just a trade cooperation between them. The other SCs might suspect, but do not know anything so far. Yes, this could be what Rama finds out, whether as a surprise or as a confirmation of suspicions.

I agree, Wyrma would not recognize Rama or other shapechangers unless she has met them personally and had dealings with them, such as the clan leaders, etc. Rama could recognize her having seen her at some clan function earlier – she was a child, so would not now be recognized by Wyrma, but the woman would have made a considerable impression on the young girl, probably a negative one.

I would also concur that SCs do not recognize each other on sight unless personally known. There could be some secret mark of identification – perhaps a small tattoo in an inconspicuous place? Or what kind of totem were you thinking of?

As I see it, Wyrma is just beginning to realize that the rebellion is organized – up to now, she only knew of isolated instances. But she will quickly strike to prevent the gathering of forces. (Child, this will account for the incident which you have planned – Wyrma suspects that the rebellion headquarters are there.)

I have another question – what is the purpose of shapechanging, other than flight? (That reason would suggest that each SC has at least one flying or swift-running shape in his/her repertoire.) There must be some purpose for this very special ability. The only other ones that have been mentioned so far are for the head Wyrm – the validation of leadership. I would think that the reason for the dominance of the Wyrm clan would be because the dragon shape could defend the others. Of course, it would also be used to intimidate. But what additional reasons would there be, for all?
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