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Old 11-22-2007, 12:25 PM   #121
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Indil shivered; her hands shook with Raefindan's. Tharonwe looked on from the shadows.

"I said, 'How does Aeron know those ladies?'." she repeated.

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Old 11-23-2007, 09:56 AM   #122
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Well, because Gwyllion had seen them and told him while he was alive! Roy shook with frustration that he could not gather enough air to answer the question. But his frustration ran deeper. He had been hoping for something more profound from the girl, some bit of deep wisdom worthy of dream. Why was it not enough that she was seeing right into his dream? That alone was frankly amazing. How was she doing it? But was Indil asking about Angela?

"Do" he breathed again with the small remaining capacity of his lungs "you" he paused again with a great effort "mean" he coughed a shallow, despairing, airless hack "Angela?" The world went dark.

"I can't keep myself alive, I need help," Roy said to the two women.

Angela looked angry with him.

Mithrellas frowned and said, "Do you not understand what you are?"

"What do you mean?"

"You lived in a time long ago when you and I made life together," she said, "and then you lived again in a time far in the future of Middle Earth, and came to know Angela."

"These things are either a dream or they are true," Roy answered.

"They are no dream," Angela stated flatly.

"What people live and die and then live again in Middle Earth?" Mithrellas quizzed.

Roy started shaking his head. "The Eldar," he answered simply.

"Do you know what you are, Imrazor?" Mithrellas quizzed further.

"Are you saying that I am-" Roy could not finish his question, but looked to Angela and said, "But I thought that you and I were destined for-"

"It is given to those born of Elf and Human to choose. Perhaps, Imrazor, you have never chosen?"

Finally Roy understood. His destiny was immortality of one kind or another, and these two women embodied the choices before him. But he was dying and needed more time to choose.

"I'm not ready for this!" he cried
and came to again. He looked at Indil again, knowing it was silly to expect an answer of wisdom from such a little girl, and breathed barely loud enough for her to hear, "What should I do?"
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Old 11-23-2007, 12:44 PM   #123
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Indil smiled, at last confident. "Nap time. That's what my mama always tells me when I don't feel good. She says naps fix everything."
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Old 11-24-2007, 12:27 PM   #124
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Roy felt that if he allowed himself to sleep, it could be his final sleep. Maybe that would be best. He exhaled.

He sat up, feeling lighter than he had in a long, long time. He looked at Indil; she was looking calmly down at the figure that lay on the bed, rubbing its hand. Roy stood and looked down at the figure. It was his own body. Now what?

"Am I dead?"
No.
"Are you here too then?"
Of course.
"Why am I here?"
I have been waiting for you to ask.
"I didn't think you were here."
Do not lie.
"I forgot about you."
That is closer to the truth.
"I did not want to think of you." He knew it was true, and bowed his head. "I'm sorry."
I forgive you. You are here to defeat the enemy.
"Who is the enemy?" As soon as he had spoken Roy knew it was Tharonwë, and turned to look at him; he had moved to the bedside and was studying Indil's mind, trying to probe his own. Roy saw that Tharonwë was sure that he was not dead, and exasperated that his mind was beyond the Elf's reach. "How do I defeat him?"
I will show you.
"Just like it used to be," Roy said with a smile.
Yes.
"What about my sickness?"
It is the same as always.
Roy nodded as memories of his life in the future came flooding back as they had not until then. He realized that he had been holding them off, not wanting to remember. He almost rationalized that he had not wanted to remember because then Tharonwë could ransack his thoughts; but he acknowledged to himself that he had not wanted to remember the future (his own past) because he had become too enamored of this place and time. Now he was sure of his purpose, and his loves realigned.

He laid himself back down on the bed, knew again his own flesh,
opened his eyes, and stared straight into the eyes of Tharonwë. The two strove with each other, even as Roy's lungs cleared a little more with each deeper breath. The Elf's will was strong as he strove to gain entrance again to Roy's mind; but all Roy needed to do for now was to hold him off. More scrimmages would occur later, but he knew this was one he would win.

The moment that thought had crystalized in his mind, the Elf broke off and staggered away. Roy sat up and looked to the shivering little one. He picked her up in his arms and held her close.

"It's good to see you again, Angela," he said.

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Old 11-28-2007, 10:03 PM   #125
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Indil cuddled against Raefindan's chest, her head tucked under his chin. She could remember being held this way before, by her father.

Raefindan felt her shivers turn to trembling and loosened his embrace just enough to see her face. Her eyes, Angela's bright eyes, did not weep, but were filled with sadness.

"What troubles you, little Indil?" he asked, gently jostling her.

She held one of his large hands in both of hers, studying his fingers. "Tharonwe does not like to play."

Raefindan looked up at the Elf and wondered what thoughts ranged through his dark mind. He looked back down to Indil and asked, "What have you done to stay busy?"

She mumbled her responses. "We walked very far. And he does not like to talk. Except when he wants me to tell him about my dreams. Raefindan, how did you find me in the snow? It's very cold out. And snowy. And cold."

"I do not know, Indil. I think perhaps I was meant to find you. And I was trying very, very hard."

"Did everybody else not want to find me? Is that why you came alone?"

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Old 12-02-2007, 03:30 PM   #126
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Roy paused; he had been gently rocking back and forth. How was he to answer such a difficult question? With the truth, of course, but the truth spoken wrongly could do more harm than good.

"Did you know, Indil, that TharonwŰ looks into our minds?" She nodded silently. "Well, he can give us thoughts that we think are our own. Did you know that?" Indil shook her head. "It's true," Roy nodded gravely. "He wants something he shouldn't, and we've been trying to stop him from getting it."

"What does he want?"

"He wants a thing he does not own and he's trying to take it from the one who does."

"That's stealing," Indil pronounced sagely.

"Right, so he put a thought in the others' heads that I sas helping him to try to steal the thing. So now they don't trust me."

"That's bad," Indil commented. "He shouldn't do that. We should tell him."

"What are you telling the girl?" TharonwŰ's cold voice challenged him from where he sat, his back to the wall, his chilly eyes staring at Roy icily.

"The truth."

Indil turned and looked at TharonwŰ. "You shouldn't steal," she said clearly but gently. "It's wrong."

TharonwŰ's eyes flicked to the girl and his brows lowered. He stared at her as if he was trying to peel the gentleness off of her face. He broke off suddenly.

"AulŰ's bones!" TharonwŰ cursed. "You should not tell the girl such things. It is far more complicated than that. You mislead her."

"You have so misled yourself," Roy answered solemnly, "that you cannot see the simple truth laid before you."

"Hah!" TharonwŰ laughed mirthlessly. "Say what you like, it matters not."

"We shall see," Roy replied calmly.

He knew what his next scrimmage would be. He would hold TharonwŰ here until the others came this far, and he would then hand him over to them. Following that, he would fight to win back their trust; not for his own sake, but so that their quest's goal could be achieved. He started rocking Indil, and felt her little body's dozing tremors as she fell off to sleep.
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Old 12-14-2007, 01:10 PM   #127
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When she woke, Raefindan was asleep and Tharonwe was nowhere to be seen. She watched her sleeping friend and leaned in close to kiss his forehead, like her mother used to do to her. His eyelids fluttered gently, but he did not stir. The fire had become mere embers.

From the darkness, she saw eyes gleam and stiffened, ready to scream. It was Tharonwe; she did not relax.

"Why do you hide in shadows, Tharonwe?" she asked. "It is so hard to see anything."

"My vision exceeds yours, human child."

"But the sun is so pretty."

"Light blinds sensitive eyes. In darkness, every vision is possible."

She shook her head. "You are silly. I miss sunshine. My mama says the sun is like a hug. It makes you warm and safe."

"Your mother was a human fool."

"You," she said firmly, "are mean."

Tharonwe inspected his nails in the darkness. With a stick he prodded a breath of sparks into the air. "Do you believe that you are not mean?"

"I try to be good." she said hesitantly, and then said, "No. I am not mean, and you are not being very nice to me."

"What is nice, little girl?" His voice was almost too sweet. She shivered as he prodded the fire; she watched the embers glow and sparkle.

"Nice is stirring soup before Mama has to ask and nice is picking pretty flowers."

"What if stirring the soup too much makes it thick and unsavoury? Is that nice, to ruin what nourishment your mother has concocted for you, because you have not the patience to wait for instructions? Is it nice to kill plants for your amusement? I think you are a very not nice little girl."

She took an indignant breath. "I am too nice."

"I think you lie."

"My papa taught me that lies are bad."

"And you never lie, surely." His voice was a hiss.

Indil propped her fists on her hips. "Never."

"Do you know where Nimrodel is?" He looked into her eyes as she stood silent, frozen. "Ah, you do know. And her servant told you not to tell me. Do not lie to me. Good girls never lie."

When Raefindan woke, he found Indil wrapped up in blankets in total darkness, sobbing.

"What is wrong, Indil?" he asked, glaring into the dense blackness for the form of the Elf.

"He asked me to tell him a secret."

Raefindan gathered her into his arms, still unable to hear or see Tharonwe. "And did you tell him a secret?"

"They asked me not to tell him things. But he asked me. He said only naughty children lie."

"What did he ask you, Indil?" Raefindan asked gently, but insistantly, forcing her to meet his eyes.

She shook violently and accidentally bit her lip. "He asked me where to find the ladies."
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Old 12-15-2007, 01:43 PM   #128
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Roy considered what the ramifications of Indil's confession might be. It had not occurred to him that TharownŰ might not know where Nimrodel and Mithrellas were; indeed, he had not considered that TharonwŰ might not know. Perhaps he did, and was now manipulating Indil in order to find a weakness. To him, that seemed to be the issue of greater immediate import.

"Sometimes, Indil, the truth need not be spoken to someone who will use it for ill. It is not a lie to say nothing at all."

He looked at TharonwŰ through narrowed eyes. It was tempting to lash out in his anger, but it would not be wise. What was needful?

What is his purpose? Roy asked himself. It is to grasp his desire, and to use any tools how he will to achieve that, no matter the condition when he drops them.

He was tempted to ask Indil to wake him whenever the Elf talked to her; but then he considered that Elves need no sleep, and realized the hold he would be digging for himself.

What should I do? he asked silently.

He received no answer.

Then I will wait until I know what to do.

"Shall we play a game?" he asked Indil.

She looked up into his face and nodded yes.

"You choose the game."
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Old 12-26-2007, 10:55 AM   #129
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The fire rebuilt, Indil gathered many small stones and one much larger one.

"This will be the city and these will be houses." she explained with great care. "And this," here she drew an imaginary line with her finger, "is the road."

"Is this Minas Tirith?" Raefindan asked as Tharonwe watched boredly.

"Yes. And this is the road." She pointed again. "And this is where Bergil found me."

She pointed to a spot on the road and Raefindan racked his mind for location before realizing suddenly how futile it was to trust to the accuracy of a child's made up map. He considered the questions he could ask Indil of her map, but settled on, "So what is the game?"

"This is the mountain we're on." She pointed to a large rock she sat beside. "And these," a handful of pebbles, "are Bergil and Mellondu and everybody."

She set them into place upon the rock, arranging them carefully. "This is us." She placed one slightly larger pebble into a small indentation in the stone.

"No Elf?" asked Raefindan.

"No. I do not want to play with him. He left. His pebble is over there." She pointed across the cave, as far into the dark and as far from her as she could see.

"But this is Bergil, hm?"

"No, this one is Bergil. That one is Ădegard and Jorge. They are cold. They are looking for us. See? They are on the mountain."
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Old 01-01-2008, 05:36 PM   #130
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"And it is cold with blowing snow all over the mountain, right?" asked Raefindan.

"Yes."

"What happens next?"

"Next Ădegard slips because it is icy, but he does not get hurt, because somebody," Indil acted it out, "catches him. And he says, 'Thank you,' and the other person says, 'No thanks are needed, friend,' and then they keep walking, and they are shivering," This was punctuated by a shiver in the girl, "because it is cold and snowing. Brrr, cold. And it is hard because it is a mountain and it is not flat, so when it gets slippery they slip a lot."

"Who caught Ădegard?" Raefindan asked.

"Silly Raefindan," she said, "That rock is yours. That means you get to pick."

"Ahhh!" The rules of the game dawned on Roy and he smiled. "You are right, Indil, I was being silly. Hmm-" It would not be Ravion because he would be in the lead. "It was Liornung who caught Ădegard. And then he sang a song he made up to keep their spirits up. Ravion would be leading them all but Jorje is too eager to be in the lead and he jumps through the snow with leap after leap, barking as he goes, trying to say 'halloooo! Where are yoooooo'!"

Indil giggled at the thought of Jorge. "And then Ravion says, 'Quiet Jorge!' because he thinks he hears something."

"What does he hear?"

Indil looks seriously into Raefindan's eyes as a deafening series of crashes echo outside of their cave. "Snow is falling off the mountain."

Roy sat up straight and his eyes opened wide. Avalanche! But we are high up, he thought. He looked back to Indil. Her eyes were wide too. He snuggled her into his arms again, glad of the warmth of her little body to calm his worried nerves.

"The snow falls and gathers more snow, and Ravion sees it far above and drawing near. Without a word, he points them to their left, then leads them as they struggle to avoid the thundering mass as it approaches."

Indil said something then, but Roy did not quite hear. "What is that?"

"I said, 'I hope Jorge listens to Ravion.' Because he is ahead of them and maybe he didn't see Ravion point. I wish Jorge was here with us."

"I do to, Indil." Roy had more confidence in Jorje's good senses than he did in that of the humans. "Dogs know their packs. Jorje notices the change when they start going the other way and bounds through the snow after them.

"But the avalanche (that's what we call snow that falls down the side of a mountain where I come from) keeps building and getting closer. But by chance, if chance you call it, the slope was not so steep just above them, for they were at the knee of the mountain. An arm of the mountain reached over and placed its hand on its knee just above them, and caught most of the snow. What snow it didn't catch, slowed and was turned away from our friends."

"And then they climb over it!" she cried happily as the pounding from outside slowed to a dull rumble. "Raefindan, does it snow a lot where you come from?"

"Yes. Where I come from there is a big lake. The cold wind picks up the water from the lake and turns it to snow and dumps it on the place where I live. Many feet of snow fall on us each year. But not as much as way up here." Raefindan looked all around them, looking at the dark ceiling of the cave as if his mind's eye pierced through and saw snow in every direction. He looked again at Indil, and smiled. "So do the hunters find those they hunt?"

"Yes." she said. "But the mean elf is not happy when they do."

Roy shot a glance toward Tharonwe, who watched with what seemed to be disinterest, yet Roy could tell he was listening intently by the light in his eyes.

"You said the mean elf was over there." Roy pointed across the cave into the dark.

"Yes, Raefindan." Indil sounded exasperated and Roy briefly hid a smile. "But now he is back. Because he never goes away for very long and he is always watching and I do not think he wants us to be saved. Or hunted. I think he wants to be the hunter instead."

"That may be, Indil," Roy said with a wink, "but he is hunted will he or no."

Her eyes went wide suddenly. "Oh. You mean the others."

"Not only," he whispered. "But back to our game. Ădegard, Jorje, and the others peek around a lee of the mountain and find staring back at them Bergil, Mellondu, and Erebemlin. And what do you think they say to each other?"

"I think they are very happy to see each other and they do not hug because they are busy being grown up men, but Jorje kisses everybody!"

Roy laughed. "You think that they would not embrace out of gladness to be together again?"

Indil nodded seriously. "I think that Erebemlin does not like to touch people. I think it maybe makes him sad because sometimes he looks at people and he does not seem happy. 'Specially Mellondu. And sometimes Mellondu is the same way, but sometimes he is playful. Raefindan, why is Mellondu not always like Mellondu? And then Ravion would say 'Where is Aeron and Raefindan? Were they not with you?' and Bergil would say 'Aeron is with his sister,' because that is where he is."

Roy looked closely at Indil as she picked out several new pebbles and kept them in her lap, safe in the folds of her dress. "Aeron and his sister and Mithrellas and Nimrodel and Angela." she explained. "Singing songs. Except they are not always happy songs because they are not always happy."

And of me, thought Roy, what to they say? That I am a turncoat and pawn of TharonwŰ, and a murderer. Will the others believe it? Roy teetered for a moment over a chasm of self-pity before righting himself and firming his resolve. It did not matter what they thought; what mattered was what he did from now on.

TharonwŰ rose. "The storm has abated. We will leave here now."
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Old 01-21-2008, 06:57 PM   #131
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White Tree

Jorje barked greeting repeatedly to the Elf and two men that they found under the outcropping.

"We greet you!" cried Ădegard. But then he marked that three of them were missing. With rising trepidation he asked, "Where are Raefindan, Aeron, and Indil?"

The three stood to meet Ădegard. Mellondu met Ădegard’s gaze, but did not speak. Erebemlin put his hand on Mellondu’s shoulder, and was also silent.

Bergil stepped forward, and his jaw worked. “The child, “he replied, “has been stolen. By Tharonwe. He took the little one.”

Ravion stepped forward, face ashen. “What would he want with the child? But—Aeron. Where is Aeron? And Raefindan?”

“Dead.”

“What—both? Ah, vile fiend!” Ravion snarled, his hand now on his hilt. “Foul villain and most vile!”

Erebemlin spoke. “Villain indeed; but he did not take Aeron’s life. Raefindan did that.”

Ravion stared.

Mellondu seemed to shake himself awake, and toward him faltered Mellonin, pale and wan. She paused beside Ravion, and placed a slender hand on his shoulder. Ravion started, Mellondu scowled, and Mellonin spoke.

“Friend, I grieve with thee. Alas for the boy. But who is this Raefindan? I see a red haired man, with a long past and deep pain. He was once thy friend as well?”

Ravion stared at her, his jaw working, but no speech came. Mellondu stepped to his sister.

“Mellonin.”

Mellonin met his gaze. “She is here.”

Mellondu’s jaw dropped. “Mellonin!”

Her eyes closed, and she swayed. Ravion started, and steadied her; Mellondu, a moment behind, took her shoulders, and barely heard her whisper, “Brother mine,” before she went limp. As she fell both men caught her, glaring at one another in baffled disbelief. Finally Mellondu cried out, “What have you done?”

Ravion snarled at him. “I would die for her; I did nothing to her. As you do, she bears an elven fea.”

Mellondu went silent, and clasped his sister to his breast. Ravion, torn between grief over Aeron and indignation at Mellondu, turned toward Bergil.

“Did you kill Raefindan? And what of the girl? You have tracked her and her captor? How far are they?”



*~*~*


Erebemlin's gaze seemed clouded, and Nethwador slid off of his big red
horse. The tall powerful elf stared down at the small slender Easterling,
and the boy looked up, waiting. Erebemlin touched the boy's mind.

Where is the king?
Asleep in prison.
I wish the blacksmith were kinder to him.
As do I.
I wish I could speak into his mind, as you speak into mine.
As do I.
Can you not speak to the blacksmith?

Erebemlin did not reply to the boy, and the boy wondered how many times Erebemlin had tried.

Mellondu called for water. Bella brought a water flask to the half-conscious Mellonin, and she drank.

Last edited by mark12_30; 03-20-2008 at 06:12 PM. Reason: tucked in discussion between Erebemlin and Nethwador
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:23 PM   #132
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“Did you kill Raefindan? And what of the girl? You have tracked her and her captor? How far are they?”

As Ravion turned to Bergil, the younger ranger felt a flush of mild guilt. Ravion, he knew, had been close to Aeron, and also had probably considered Raefindan a friend.

"We did not kill him," said Bergil. "It would not have brought Aeron back, and his sudden violence, though inexcusable, was too curious to merit such irrevocable justice. We sent him on alone, instead. Either he has joined Tharonwë or he has rescued Indil. The second seems unlikely, but it would be good fortune if he had."

"Or he is dead," said Ravion with little emotion, and with Bergil he turned to look over their path.

"Or he is dead," Bergil nodded solemnly. "We shall not know, I suppose, until we find Indil and the swamp-Elf. Unfortunately, their trail has become more difficult to follow with the ill weather that arose about when Raefindan departed. Indeed, I am glad you have caught up with us, for you have been a ranger for longer years that I, and I would fain have your help. I believe we are not far behind them, but much time could be lost seeking the remnants of their trail--and I would not lengthen Indil's captivity with that villain any longer than absolutely necessary. I fear greatly for her safety."

"And well you should," said Ravion, half to himself, remembering Gwyllion's brutal end, even as the new rush of anger at Aeron's passing returned in strength. "Mellondu? Erebemlin? Are we ready to depart?"

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Old 01-23-2008, 06:53 PM   #133
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Confound the Ranger! My sister lies weak and helpless in my arms, and he asks to move on?
Erebemlin raised an eyebrow. "I doubt your sister would deny his wish."

Mellondu had not expected Erebemlin to hear his thoughts, and he started, but scowled. Bella patiently gave Mellonin drop after drop of water.

"My sister has seen enough of that villain, " said Mellondu.

"Doubtless the same could be said of the child Indil," replied Erebemlin.

Mellondu lowered his head, laying his cheek against her forehead, and then kissing her brow. His head snapped up a moment later.
Friend.
"Who are you?"

Nay, that you know, or you once did. I sought the ancient starlit shores, but did not find them. I have returned.
The thoughts were soft and sad, but they held a mild rebuke.

"Why do you tell me this?"
I have returned, but you have not. Despite her dust-filled years of longing, she abides alone.
Mellondu went pale. "You know where she is."
Nay, my lord. But I know that she is. And that is less than she knows of you.
Bella started as Mellondu lurched to his feet, lifting Mellonin. Ravion turned, protest dying on his lips even as Erebemlin signaled a halt with his hand.

Mellondu gazed down at his sister as her eyelids fluttered open. "What is your name?"
They call me Avarien, the Unwilling. Yet I have come.
"Come to what?"

I have come to find my lady Nimrodel. Nor will my search end til she is found.
Erebemlin watched with baited breath as the rebuke settled into Mellondu's soul.

"My sister needs rest. When she is able, we will depart, " he said. Meeting Ravion's gaze, he lifted Mellonin into both arms.

A clear voice came from Mellonin's lips. "I am able now."

Ravion shook his head. "Willing, yes. Able, not yet. You must rest."

Mellonin's head lifted, and met the ranger's gaze. "Friend, I yield to your counsel, yet not without protest. I will rest in the saddle."

Ravion smiled, and shook his head. "When you have rested a little, I will allow it," he added. "We have much to do. There is a child in great danger."

The ranger took vigil beside Mellonin, as Mellondu rose and paced.

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Old 01-24-2008, 06:20 PM   #134
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Question

Mellondu paced steadily as an hour passed, and then two.

Nethwador sat down, closed his eyes, and waited. As the twilight descended, he felt, rather than saw three tall golden haired elves shimmering under the stars.

One stood, quiet, with a strong hope. One lay resting, wearily determined. Deep within the third, what had long smouldered, now burned brightly.

Nethwador hugged his knees to his chest, and squeezed his eyes shut tighter. On the edge of his mind shimmered the golden joy Nethwador had long missed.

He opened his eyes, and looked over at Mellondu pacing. There he saw no change. But on the face of the tall golden elf, was a new peace.

He closed his eyes again. He would wait.
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:42 PM   #135
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While the others saw to the needs of Mellonin, or whomever she now was, Ædegard went over to Leafa. Jorje joined them, pushing his head under Ædegard's good hand, who scratched the dog's ears absently.

"I can't imagine it, Leafa," he said. "Raefindan? It makes no sense. He wouldn't kill Aeron. There must be some mistake."

"Might Aeron have provoked him?" she asked, shaking her head to counter her own suggestion.

Ædegard smiled in spite of himself. "Not since his sister's death. He was mischievous, I am told, before that, but was greatly subdued afterward. Her death changed him. It is almost as if he perhaps welcomed it." But that did not sit well either. "Nay, I cannot believe that our friends lie. But if Raefindan did this deed, he cannot have been in his right mind."

Liornung stood nearby. "Did you hear your last words, Ædegard? Perhaps he was not in his right mind. Did not Tharonwë work such mischief before?"

"Yes, but then how is it that these three think nothing of that?"

"I do not know," Liornung replied

"Maybe," Leafa tentatively offered, "we should ask them?"

"If," Liornung ventured, "Tharonwë did something to their thinking, would they even know?"

Ædegard held his head between his hand and stump and shook his head violently, overcome with the complexity of such thinking. "I say we start off as soon as we may and catch them up, and see Raefindan for ourselves."

"'Tis a fair plan," Liornung said lightly. "And I feel inspired to sing, even in this cold wasteland. My fiddle cannot be kept tuned, so you must bear my voice unmatched by my fiddle."

With that he started singing a song of heat and sun and grass and fields of grain ripening ot harvest.

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Old 02-28-2008, 06:53 PM   #136
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TharonwŰ rose. "The storm has abated. We will leave here now."

Roy eased Indil to her feet and rose also. "We will not leave."

The Elf's eyes narrowed and he seemed to grow taller. "Do not try to hinder me, or it will go ill with you."

"It will not."

TharonwŰ was unsettled by the certainty in Roy Edwards' voice. Perhaps he had indeed changed. How he had been able to withstand TharonwŰ's osanwŰ, he did not know; but he had. If he could not overcome him directly, then he would use other means.

"Then it will go ill with the girl, and that shall be on your head, for I will not be hindered."

Roy stepped sideways to Indil even as TharonwŰ was speaking, and picked her up into his arms.

"I will not let you harm the girl."

This was getting irritating, thought TharonwŰ. He let out an exasperated huff of air. "Do you really think you can stop me, fool?" His voice was more shrill than he expected. He lifted his arm and pointed at the two of them to aid his mind's will over them. "You will walk ahead of me. Now!"

Roy did not move. He could feel the will trying to impose itself upon him, but he was determined not to give in. How shall I act?
Give no quarter.
Uncertainty vanished. "TharonwŰ, you have no power nor authority over me nor Indil. The reverse is true, though you do not comprehend it. For this reason I was sent here. You will remain until the others arrive."

TharonwŰ stiffened. "I will not!" Yet the certainty in Roy Edwards' voice betrayed a force of will the like of which TharonwŰ had never faced. He used his osanwŰ to attempt to pierce and so perceive it, but was forced back and recoiled. Yet even as he recoiled, he perceived a light and power - a fŰa? - that was not Roy Edwards yet lay in him and was linked with Roy's own fŰa. A Maia?

"No, TharonwŰ," Roy said, "not a Maia. You cannot comprehend. This is beyond you. But as you can see, I have a power greater than yours. So don't fight. Sit down and wait."

TharonwŰ shook his head, dumbfounded. And he sat down. He had much to think on.
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Old 03-08-2008, 06:31 AM   #137
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The sky was ablaze with sunlight. The snow glared the light into the eyes of all so that they were almost blinded. Except for the Elf. Nevertheless, they pushed on. It was cold and the snow was deep. The path was treachersously narrow as it circled along the mountain slope, the deep chasm yawning to their right.

Ădegard supposed that there must be a fast flowing mountain stream at the bottom of the gorge, and that it must be filled quickly to a torrent in spring, considering how much snow lay upon the mountains. But for now it was a quiet waste.

Erembemlin went ahead, walking lightly on the surface of the snow. Ravion came behind, given the guidance of Erebemlin's barely discernable footprints, using his arms and feet to clear as much as he could of the snow from the path. Bergil came next, clearing what escaped Ravion's limbs. He was followed by Mellondu who cleared what Bergil left behind.

It became clear soon enough that the horse must be left behind. Mellonin/Avarien was told the situation, and agreed to walk, hard on her as it would be. She spoke to the horse, removing its gear, and set it free. It picked its way down the mountainside and was lost from view finally around the knee of the mountain.

The others straggled behind the Elf, rangers, and Mellonin, with Ădegard taking up the rear. They stopped often to rest, for the going was very difficult. Erebemlin tried not to show impatience. They all feared that TharonwŰ was leaving them far behind.

So it was that the sun was just going down behind the jagged horizon of the mountains to their west when they came to the final pass, where they found a small cave. They decided that they must rest there.

To their surprise they found Indil waiting for them, as if she had been expecting them all day. Behind her stood Raefindan, calm and serious; behind them was a small and fitful fire, and sitting beyond it in a shadowy corner was TharonwŰ.
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Old 03-12-2008, 05:22 PM   #138
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"Raefindan!" Indil cried, "They found us just like I said they would! Was there very much snow where you came from?"

Very seriously she stood before them, waiting for response to her query, her face glowing with her smile, her entire little body radiating peace and happiness at their friends' arrival.

Yet Tharonwe's voice spoke from the shadows in a hiss, "The child, perhaps, they have come to save, Roy Edwards, but have they come to set a murderous traitor free?"

Jorge growled at the Elf, and scuffled his way over the rock to Indil, tail wagging as he approached her, and she threw her arms around his neck, and all at once began to cry, blind to all the others, as he licked at her face and whimpered in commiseration.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:33 AM   #139
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Silmaril

Mellondu's gaze at the black elf was cold and distant, but Mellonin's flamed with rage. Ravion glanced at her and then grasped her upper arm, and restrained her; incredibly, the elf-woman allowed it.

Erebemlin stepped forward, slowly, and Mellondu's body stiffened with each step Erebemlin took.

"Roy Edwards, or whatever his true name may be, is not our concern, however he may have grieved us. His doom is his own, I deem. Nor are you our concern, now that we see that the child is safe."

Tharonwe seemed to struggle for a moment, and then he slowly stood. "If I am not your concern, then you are a fool."

"Perhaps, " Erebemlin replied, but his eyes lit with a joy that he did not conceal. A moment later, a lilting laughter filled the cave, growing louder and louder as it rang out in the cold air. Erebemlin's joy spread from his eyes, to his lips, and soon his deep ringing laughter joined Mellonin's. Then the blacksmith's laughter joined them too; but the blacksmith's laughter was not like the laugh of men, but like rippling gold, sunlight on the water.

Ravion looked at Raefindan, and wondered what sudden joy had come over the elves; all the elves but one. Black rage was on Tharonwe's face, but it held no sway over the others.

Erebemlin turned to face the blacksmith, and his eyes were wild with joy.

My lord, my lord, she is near. She is near. Do you not feel her song? She is near.

Mellondu walked to Erebemlin, and the great golden elf and the sturdy gondorian blacksmith clasped forearms. The fire in Erebemlin's eyes spread to Mellondu's.

Yes, my faithful friend. I hear her voice. At last, at last. She is near. At last.

Mellondu turned to Avarien.

I shall nevermore name you faithless. Good lady, best of friends, I name you friend of Amroth. You have led us well. May you be forever blessed.

Mellonin shook her head, tears of joy stinging her face in the cold. "Good my lord," she replied. "It was the child. I but followed the child. The blessing belongs to her."
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:26 PM   #140
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Ravion waited, fidgeting. Mellonin and Mellondu were more happy than he had ever seen them, and their laughter was rich and full. He had but one wish; that Aeron and Gwyllion had been here to share it.

He watched Raefindan, and releasing Mellonin, slowly approached the red-haired man. He spoke through the ringing laughter, and was barely heard.

"Erebemlin may release you from the judgement of elves; but as a man, I am less than satisfied. Where is Aeron?"

Raefindan opened his mouth to answer, but Jorje leaped up with cold wet paws and a great red tongue ran over Raefindan's face. He spluttered. The dog leaped at Ravion next, who stepped backwards; glaring at Raefindan, Ravion fended off the great hound as he leaped and leaped again. Then the dog burst into a warbling howl, tail thrashing with unbridled glee.

"Enough!" Ravion shouted, and the dog replied with a torrent of barking. Between the laughter of the elves and the barking of the dog, there was no time for speech.

Ravion met the eyes of the black elf, and then looked away. He did not want to sink into that mire.

"We will speak of this in time, " he shouted to Raefindan. Jorje jumped on him again, and Ravion wiped his face with his sleeve.

Bergil stepped forward even as the laughter caught up with Indil. Her little voice rippled with glee, and the mountainside rang again; Raefindan was laughing now, and several of the Rohirrim were exchanged puzzled smiles. Bergil knelt down near Indil, and looked into her eyes..
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Old 03-14-2008, 03:59 PM   #141
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"Hello, Indil," he said quietly, taking her hand in his. "As you can see, we are glad to have found you. How are you feeling?"

The Ranger looked her over carefully, and found her little worse for wear. While her face looked far paler, and her feet and hands were scraped, and she looked very tired, and her eyes still held the traces of tears, her face was lit with a truly happy smile, and her little body seemed to have acquired no hurts which time alone could not fix.

"I wish mama and papa were here." she said, petting Jorje slowly. "Mama used to tell me stories about Elf ladies. She said they had pretty laughs, and that their eyes sparkled." She bowed her little head. "I miss my mama."

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Old 03-18-2008, 09:01 AM   #142
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Roy laughed for the joy he saw and heard, and felt.

With Bergil greeting Indil, he considered himself freed up for the moment to engage whatever questions might come. He became suddenly aware that he could hear familiar voices in his head, and some unfamiliar. More surprising yet, he realized that he was listening in his head to the four Elves in the room. Did they know that he could hear them?

Ravion's question needed to be answered. Roy grew sobre, but the smile did not leave his face. He motioned to Ravion and the other humans, excepting Bergil, to gather just outside the cave so that they could speak. Ravion seemed willing enough, and the others as well. They moved outside. It was still cold, but warming, and the sun shown almost blindingly on the bright snow.

The others stood watching him and waiting.

"Aeron is dead," Roy told them. "I am responsible. I allowed TharonwŰ to control my mind for a while, and he caused me to try to kill Mellondu. But Aeron fought against me with Mellondu, and in the heat of the moment I threw him over the edge of the cliff to his death. He lies there now. The moment I had done the deed, I came to my senses and regretted the deed. Regret cannot bring him back nor redress the deed. Had I been truthful with myself the sooner, I would have had the strength to withstand TharonwŰ; but because I allowed myself to believe lies, he had a means into my mind, and so the deed was done.

"But finally I told myself the truth and repented of my lies, and all my memory came back, and I was able to withstand TharonwŰ, and more, was able to hold him prisoner in the cell he had made for us, until you arrived. That is my tale, and it is true. I grieve for my part in Aeron's death, and will do all I can to avenge him and redress my wrong."
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:30 AM   #143
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Bergil thrust any concern for the strange laughter affecting the Elves from his mind as he bent down to greet Indil, who herself had caught the infectious glee. At another time, Bergil would have been rather concerned about the Elven laughter, for their seemed to be precious little to laugh about. They had unexpectedly found TharonwŰ incapacitated, certainly, and Indil was safer than he had dared hope, but the situation was still far too grave for such mirth, in his view.

Kneeling in front of Indil, and holding her hand, Bergil glanced over her face and arms, hoping to confirm that she was an unharmed as she appeared. There seemed to be little to fear, for Indil wore a smile that had no shadow of fear, and bore all the excitement of a child who, having just been found, had suffered no worse trauma than being lost.

"As you can see," he said, himself smiling in wide relief, "we are glad to have found you. How are you feeling?"

"I wish mama and papa were here." she said, petting the dog that followed them slowly. "Mama used to tell me stories about Elf ladies. She said they had pretty laughs, and that their eyes sparkled." She bowed her head. "I miss my mama."

Indil's smile faded, and Bergil's own heart tensed in sympathy. The little girl had been separated from her family for many days indeed now, and at her age, that must have seemed an even longer age than it did to Bergil.

"Don't worry, Indil," said Bergil, his hands on her shoulders now, eyes directly across from her, "we're almost done with this quest. Just another few days and we can go home and find your family."

Indil said nothing, and seemed to be on the verge of tears, so Bergil pulled her into a tight hug, rocking her slightly. Looking over her shoulder, he could see the four Elves (or those who were acting as Elves, anyway. Bergil was beginning to lose surety over who was whom). They were speaking not, but still bore smiles wide with joy, and Bergil could tell from their eyes that though they said nothing, they were still communicating with each other, and as his eyes lit up Raefindan, it seemed to him that the red-haired man understood them.

This gave Bergil a deep shiver, and he clung to Indil's trembling body, seeking comfort in her small, human warmth. Once before, he had seen Elves in a great celebration, during Midsummer's Eve after the War of the Ring, when Elessar had wedded Queen Arwen. That too had been an eerie night, and even as a rash boy, Bergil had been clearly aware of the differences between Men and Elves.

"They are fey," his father had said. "Fair, both in their actions and in their appearances, but also fey."

Still clasping Indil, Bergil understood why the Rohirrim had shunned the Golden Wood, and why his own people had fallen out of friendship with the Elves. They were indeed a fey people.

Letting Indil go enough that he could look at her again, as her trembling subsided and the readiness to cry turned into more of a sniffling, Bergil held her away so that he could see her face.

"It will be all right, Indil," he said. "We will find your family."
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:05 AM   #144
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Indil looked into Bergil's eyes and smiled with the sad surety of one who has seen many, many years. "No, Bergil."

It seemed as though a voice spoke to her then, or through her, one which had long spoken to her in dream: Mithrellas, whose blood flowed through Indil's mother's veins, through her own.

"Amroth," she said quietly, turning to them, her sweet voice echoing on the wet stone, "Erebemlin. Avarien. Nimrodel awaits. Mithrellas stands beside her, ever faithful, ever vigilant and with them are those who have been lost to us. Ravion, your Aeron is laughing with his sister by a stream where she can see her face rippling, reflected. Roy Edwards, one whom you have long missed patiently watches for your return. And Bergil..." she whispered, "My mama and my papa are there, but they are with Aeron, not with Mithrellas."
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:44 PM   #145
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Ravion opened his mouth to reply to Raefindan, but Indil's little voice cut through the cold air, and Ravion started, and closed his mouth again. All the elves gave her heed.

When her last whisper echoed off the rocks, no one stirred for a while, except the black elf, a little.

Ravion glanced at Ădegard, and at Liornung, and at Bella; then back to Raefindan. THen he shook his head.

"We will discuss this further, later. Meanwhile it seems we will soon be once again on the march."

Raefindan met his gaze and held it. "I lie not."

Ravion sighed. "I know. Yet the boy is still dead."

Raefindan nodded. "He is. Yet though my will, mind and body were used, it was another who sought to kill him: that same mind that killed Aeron's sister."

Ravion's only answer was a tightening of his lips, and a shudder as he remembered Gwyllion's tortured end. Should he fear Raefindan or trust him? he wondered. And then he remembered Erebemlin, and Avarien. They would know.

He turned to seek Mellonin.

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Old 03-19-2008, 11:06 PM   #146
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"And Bergil..." she whispered, "My mama and my papa are there, but they are with Aeron, not with Mithrellas."

Perhaps because Mithrellas gave her strength, or perhaps because she was too young to comprehend the impact of what she said, or perhaps because she was stronger than her years suggested, Bergil knew not which, but Indil remained steady while he felt as though the world had fallen out from beneath him, as sympathy for Indil coursed through him. She was too young and innocent to deserve what had befallen them on the road; to have no family to rejoin was worse.

Embracing the little girl again, for his own support, Bergil rocked slightly, not comforting her so much as he found himself unsteady. No tears fell from his stricken face, for too many years of proud training and hardship held them at bay, but the lack did not disguise the impact of the knowledge on him.

"Do not fear, Indil," he said in a low voice, which was the most he could manage to keep level. "I will be your surety of a home when we return to Minas Tirith."

And how will that be? Bergil could hear the doubt in his mind, expressing itself in the voice of his younger brother, Borlas. Borlas, the steadier of the sons of Beregond, had often been at odds with his more impetuous older brother, and during his time of training with the rangers, Bergil had accustomed himself to thinking as his brother would, whenever he had grappled with a situation he knew he was handling without due thought.

You have no home, and you are a ranger on the borders of Ithilien. You have no place for a child in your life, and no one to promise her care for.

"If I have to leave the Rangers," Bergil looked directly into Indil's eyes, resolute, "I will make sure you are warded." If Indil understood the full meaning of his words, Bergil did not know, but she certainly knew the tone of his speech, and she hugged him back with the gleeful bliss of a child who is loved, and even at her young age, she recognised the rock-solid immovability of Bergil's word.

You'll regret this, Borlas' voice advised him. Being discharged so early in your service is not easy. You know nothing of raising a child. Prince Faramir will disapprove. Father will disapprove. You'll miss the rangers. This cannot end well.

It already has, Bergil thought, as he slowly released Indil from his embrace, standing tall, and hoisting the girl over his shoulders and onto his back. Worries aside, he could not have brought himself to promise any less.

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Old 03-20-2008, 04:41 AM   #147
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Before Ravion reached Mellonin's side, he was at peace.

Mellonin needed rest, but the elves swept into action as Bergil lifted Indil to his to his back. Erebemlin motioned Tharonwe towards Raefindan, who nodded.

Erebemlin and Ravion hastened to catch up to Mellonin and Mellondu, who were already turning downhill. The rest of the men swung into line behind the elves. Ravion knew that Mellonin was deeply weary, but she showed no sign of it; indeed, though the stars were hidden in mist, the snow about the elves' feet showed a faint glimmer, a blending of silver and gold.

They traveled downhill steadily, surefooted despite the dark. Ravion wished that the sky would clear; and he thought, as if in reply to his hopes, that he smelled a sea-wind. Several times through the night he caught the scent. Just past midnight the sky began to clear; stars peeped through; and as the snow gave way to grass beneath their feet, the mist was swept away entirely, and the sky was ablaze with stars.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:42 AM   #148
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From the tiniest crevice in a plain grey rock, a trickle of water dribbled onto the cold dirt below.

The blacksmith knelt, and touched his fingers to the trickle of water. Nethwador stood behind, and Erebemlin did not even turn his gaze towards the water.

Amroth's fingers, shining and cold from the icy water, came toward his face. With eyes closed, he savored the scent of the water, and then his fingers tightened into a fist, and Amroth stood.

This water would please her.

Nethwador smiled. He was exhausted. But then he turned southward and gave a shrill whistle.

Amroth also turned southward.

Echo, we have need of you, and your brethren. Come.

Avarien nodded. Roheryn, we stand upon snow no longer, but upon the gentle earth.

Amroth swayed, fighting exhaustion. Avarien was weaker still. Ravion spoke.

"Your mortal bodies need rest. Surely now we may wait for the horses to arrive?"

In answer, Amroth settled onto the cold earth, reaching one hand into the stream. Avarien sat a few paces away in the sunshine.

The rest of the men needed no further urging, but settled quickly onto the ground, hoping that the horses were at least a good nap's distance away.

Last edited by mark12_30; 03-21-2008 at 10:25 AM. Reason: smiles. I always write in too many smiles. And nods.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:16 PM   #149
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Ravion, sweet Ravion. How good you have been to me. To us. It is good to have you near.

Ravion sat bolt upright. The voice inside his head was not Avarien's, but Mellonin's; how could that be?

Perhaps, he thought, he had been dreaming. And if so, then he had been a fool to leave the dream. She was nearby; two paces away as modesty demanded. He lay back down, and the gentle voice returned to his mind, nearer than near. He held his breath. Mellonin?

Ravion.
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Old 03-22-2008, 03:31 AM   #150
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The trickle, leaving the cleft of the rock and flowing over the cold earth, joins another just down the hill, and another below that. We sleep on a garden of mountain-springs. Below us lies a dell, with a little pool; and below that lies another like it, and on down the hillsides. Roheryn drinks at one of them now.

Ravion heard Mellonin saying it. Amroth heard Avarien. Ravion wondered; Amroth rejoiced. He reached out with his longing. He could not sense her presence-- not as he once did; yet he knew she was on the hillsides, below them, along this very stream. A single tear flowed down Amroth's face, then another, and then a third. She is near. She is near. She is near. His heart beat to the rythm of it.

He called to her; Nimrodel, Nimrodel. She did not answer. He had called so often and she had not answered. He would learn why when they were face to face.

Instead, he turned his thoughts to the stream, and joined it. Small and simple, he trickled from the rock to the cold earth below, and with a tiny shimmer, flowed over the soil. Southward, southward, the pull of the earth drew him over pebble and sand, moss and grass. Another joined him, and they flowed over rock and earth; they rested, swirling, in a shallow basin, and then ran out the southward side, over roots, and more moss, spreading into the littlest fen, and then once again finding the way downhill.

And over every root and rock and crevice the longing of the sweet water was: I will join the sea. I will join the sea. I will join the sea.
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Old 03-22-2008, 11:19 AM   #151
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Although Roy could hear the words the Elves spoke in their minds, he was himself quite human, and felt it. Looking at Mellondu and Mellonin, he could see that their bodies were being exhausted quickly by the hot spirits that had taken up residence within them. It was cause for concern.

Indil had repeated her words that she had spoken to Bergil, that her parents were with Aeron, and that Mithrellas was waiting with Nimrodel not far away. He hoped it was not too far, for the sakes of Mellondo and Mellonin; but also for his own sake, for there were these dreams.

As if thinking of them had brought them on, Raefindan knew he was asleep and dreaming, and that he was in the vale where Mithrellas waited upon Nimrodel, where Aeron and Gwyllion waited at the edge of the vale, and yes, he could now see two others faintly, waiting for their little girl to come to them, to bring to a resolution their grief at being lost to Indil. And there was Angela, sitting on the grass, seeming to contemplate its slow growth.

"Imrazor!"

Mithrellas had turned and seen him first. Angela turned and looked as well, rose, and both women walked toward him.

"I greet you both," Raefindan said. "The swamp elf has been defeated."

"Not utterly," Mithrellas said.

"No, not utterly. Maybe, if we do not destroy him, he may repent."

"Or," Mithrellas replied, "he will destroy himself when he understands that he cannot have Nimrodel."

"Yes, it is his choice," Raefindan replied.

"But enough of that, Imrazor, my love," Mithrellas smiled. "It is good to have you back, if only for a little while."

These words were spoken in the presence of Angela. Raefindan looked at her to see how Mithrellas' words affected her. She was smiling as if they had no effect at all. That may be so, but they affected him: they were confusing.

"There is great lore from my own age that says that it is given only once for a man to die; if I was Imrazor, how is it that I live, since he died?"

"I know not," Mithrellas said, "but Imrazor you have been, and did die in the flesh; how could I not remember, for it grieved me to be left without you these many years. But Luthien died and was given life again, so who can say if you were not given a special measure of doom?"

"Maybe it is so," Roy said. "And you, Angela," he continued, "how is it that you who died thousands of years in the future, are here now, alive and well?"

"The mysteries of eternity are beyond our understanding," she said.

And she needed to say no more. So it was, and how else could it be? But here he was, with an Elf-woman he had once loved with all his heart, and a woman of the future whose love he still held in his heart, though she had died. It stirred a question from him.

"Will I meet both of you in this vale when we arrive?"

Both women raised a hand to his shoulders, and opened thier mouths to speak, and touching him simultaneously said, "Raefindan! It is time to go!"


"Raefindan! It is time to go!"

Roy opened his eyes. Bellyn was rousing him. He shook his head. "I dreamed deeply, Bellyn. Would that you had held off for one more minute, and I might have had an answer I wished to hear."

"I am sorry, Raefindan."

"No matter. I believe my answer will come soon enough."

With that, he prepared himself for another long march.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:54 PM   #152
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Over rock, over root, downward, downward, and into a broad pool. On the bottom of the pool brown leaves, sunken last year, waved like seaweed from the bottom currents. Overhead the sun was climbing toward the zenith, and the shallow pool glittered in its light.

A current met him; cool, ageless, clean and clear. Her voice was calm, patient. He knew her. Mithrellas. Her presence gave him hope, and refreshed him.

Another current, youthful and gurgling. The child. Her joy in the midst of sorrow was a strength in itself.

Another current: or was it? Was it a current that was yet to be? And how could he sense it, this little river that was yet to come, in the now-flowing waters that eddied round him and flowed through him?

The others in the pool-- Fea. Ghosts, will-o-the-wisps, shades and shadows. He puzzled at them. Glorfindel had been alive in both worlds, this and the wraith or shadow world. These were wraiths only, but not dark; merely grey. Men-folk, on the edge of some journey perhaps, waiting, waiting. Grey and waiting. He wondered, swirling about the shallow pool and mingling with the other currents, where in all of this was his beloved Nimrodel. She could not be far from Mithrellas'; she should be near the spirit of the child. He could not hear her voice; he could not sense her presence. But she had to be here.

He turned to Mithrellas, and waited; her clear, cool agelessness comforted him, as Bella once had with her song. But she did not speak to Amroth, and Amroth wondered; waited, wondered, and watched the grey-brown leaves wafting gently over the silt below.
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Old 03-29-2008, 08:00 PM   #153
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Question

Dead leaves below, glittering sunshine above, and in the water: spirits.

Could Cuivienen have been like this?

There would have been no dead leaves in the silt at the water's floor; the glitter above would have been softer, mirroring only starlight. But the mingling of spirits: yes.

Yes, Cuivienen was like this.


Mellonin lay with her eyes open, staring into the blue sky; yet she slept.

Ravion sat up again as her voice sounded inside his mind. He whispered to her. "Mellonin?"

I walk in the day, yet I walk beneath the stars. Ravion, come walk with me.

He hesitated, but then he lay back down, and waited. He closed his eyes.

He saw the pool. Round it, beside it-- or were they within it?-- walked men, and elves.

Aeron. Little Gwyllion.

He was so glad to see them that he sat bolt upright. THen he ran his hand over his eyes. Mellonin, it was just a dream.

Yes, Ravion. But it is none the less true.

He slept no more til the horses arrived.
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Old 03-31-2008, 05:29 PM   #154
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TharonwŰ

He walked in silence. Always, he kept an eye on the one from the future, Roy Edwards. Was he an Elf after all? How could he be? How else could he hold such power? TharonwŰ kept his mind far from that one. He also kept his mind barred from the other Elves. He had not experienced such defeat and humiliation in ages.

Nevertheless, they were moving toward Nimrodel. This had been TharonwŰ's goal for centuries. If only he could find a way to be rid of these fools and achieve his end! But how? He could not see a way through. The tables had been turned, and by a mere human! Indignation burned in him.

If there was then to be no victory, he would steal victory from Amroth. If he could not have Nimrodel, she who was his by right, he would send her to the Halls of Mandos. They would of course kill him for his deed, but then at least, he and she would be together and Amroth's purpose ruined. A mirthless smile came to his face.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:18 PM   #155
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Every hoofbeat brought them closer.

His weary body was feverish and weak, and he was grateful for the glossy chestnut beneath him, grateful for his steady service. He ran his hand over Echo's neck.

Nimrodel, Nimrodel. How I have longed to hold you. How often I recall the time I held you last. How eager I am to hold you again.

There was no song in return, only the murmur of the water over the roots and grasses. But he was at peace. She was there. And the distance grew less, and less, and less, with every hoofbeat.
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Old 04-06-2008, 07:29 AM   #156
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The sky was light blue with wisps of clouds floating above on a high west wind. The sun had warmed the air so that it felt like spring. Birds trilled and sang, flitting from tree to tree. The tack of the horses were the only sound of their passing. Everyone was silent and expectant. The Elves were responsible for this; not through any command. Their anticipation was palpable and caused the others to expect something, anything, around the next bend of the stream by the side of which they rode.

It was just after mid-morning when the jumping and chopping stream fell into a small deep pool where the water swirled and slowed, then flowed slow and clear into a grassy field, still high on the mountainside, through which the cold water flowed gently down toward a line of evergreen trees.

Roy felt his heart race suddenly.

We have arrived!

Roy turned to Mellonin, whose thought he had heard. Her face was stretched and tired, her eyes lit with a fire beyond the scope of humankind.

Nimrodel!

Mellondu looked hardly less the worse for wear, but the same light was in his eyes, which seemed to look through the thick eaves of the evergreens.

They dismounted. Roy went over to Bergil, who had placed Indil before him on his saddle. Bergil handed the girl into Roy's arms, and he placed her on her feet; then he knelt beside her while the Ranger dismounted.

"Do you know where we are, Indil?"

She nodded. "Nimrodel and Mithrellas are in there with my mama and papa."

"Shall we go see?" Roy held out his hand to her. She placed her small hand in his big one, and they began walking with the others toward the evergreens. Roy and Indil were the first to pass between two of the evergreens, and stopped.

"I've been here in my dreams," Roy murmured. Indil nodded.

At the far end, where the stream divided into many rivulets before leaving the vale, sat a woman with bright hair, her face unseen. Near her stood another woman, her hair raven and lifting a little in the breeze. Mithrellas! Roy's heart quickened. She turned and looked, then smiled, and reached out a hand to someone whom he had not seen at first. This other was another woman through whom he could somehow seen the evergreens behind her; yet her blonde hair and lively brown eyes could not be mistaken. Angela!

He began to walk forward, still holding Indil's hand, and she walked with him. He approached Mithrellas and Indil approached Angela. Five paces apart, he stopped. As did Mithrellas. Indil stopped with him. But Angela kept coming, letting go Mithrellas' hand, and grew suddenly smaller with each step until she was the same height as Indil, then she walked right into Indil. Roy thought she they would bump and collide, but no.

Indil stood there holding his hand, but Angela was nowhere to be seen. Then Indil looked up at him. Suddenly he realized that her brown eyes were the same as Angela's had been. No. They were the same. Both Angela and Indil looked up at him out of the same pair of eyes.

"Indil? Angela?"

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Old 04-06-2008, 03:46 PM   #157
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Erebemlin's eyes were locked on the woman with bright hair. She sat unmoving, her face bent towards the ground. Golden light filled the hair that cloaked her back, her shoulders, her face; the breeze stirred it; Nimrodel did not move.

Erebemlin turned to his king, and together they drew near to her. Nethwador followed some paces behind, but stopped before they reached her. Mellonin hung back. Avarien still felt the sting of her name, and rested in Amroth's thanks, expecting none from her mistress.

Erebemlin listened for the voice of Nimrodel, but she was silent. Beside him he heard the king calling her, again and again; but she did not respond. They drew nearer, and Amroth walked past Nimrodel and turned, to face her. He knelt before her, and took her shoulders in his hands.

Erebemlin trembled as he stepped also to her side, and his tears fell. Her hair that had seemed golden in the sun was as white as snow. She was not bent, as he had thought, to study the ground; she was bent with age. Her hands were gnarled and crooked, and her skin as faded as fallen leaves. She trembled, not with joy, but with weakness. She scarcely seemed to know they were there. Amroth raised his hands to her face, and tried to raise her face to meet his eyes.

Her lips were withered, dry and cracked. Her skin, wizened, hung in folds about her face and neck. Her eyes were lifeless, and now Erebemlin wept in earnest. Almost he turned to his king for comfort. But as he recoiled from the thought, to his surprise, the king gave him the comfort he desired. The fire in Amroth's eyes burned through his tears even as his fever shone through his glistening face and neck.

Courage, Erebemlin. If ever I needed your strength, aid me now.

Stunned, Erebemlin offered himself like a waterfall.

My good Erebemlin, you have never faltered. Bear her to the waters' edge.

The king stepped back, and Erebemlin lifted Nimrodel like a feather.

Ravion, standing beside Mellonin, wondered whether the wasted king would reach the waters' edge. The king did not pause on the bank, but waded into the icy mountain pool, turned, and held out his arms.

"Bring her to me."

Erebemlin hesitated for one heartbeat, and then followed him into the pool.

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Old 04-06-2008, 04:09 PM   #158
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Ravion broke his silence. "Surely it is too cold for her, elf though she be. Surely she will take chill. Mellondu, wait. Listen! Mellondu! Oh, Mellonin, speak to him. Stop this madness. Mellonin-- Avarien, speak to the king. He will heed you!"

Mellonin swayed. Ravion caught her, and all her weight was in his arms. "Mellonin? Avarien! Avarien, where are you?"

Farewell, good friend Ravion. My duty is done. I wish you great joy.

"Wait! Avarien, wait! You must speak to the king!"

And how would I command my king? Nay, Ravion. Fare well, wherever you fare; and I deem you shall. Farewell, good friend. I go to find the sea.

"Avarien, wait! Avarien!"

Mellonin trembled and convulsed as the elvish life slipped away from her. Bereft of Avarien's hope and strength, Mellonin gave a cry, and then another, and then a wracking scream. Her eyes opened wide with terror and she convulsed again, and again. Her fever soared.

"Mellonin!" he cried. She did not answer.

Ravion carried her to the waters' edge, lay her upon the bank, wetted part of his cloak and washed her brow, her face, her neck, her hands. Terrified he pleaded silently with her as he had with Avarien, crying from the depths of his heart.

Mellonin, Mellonin, wait. Wait. Stay with me. Wait for me. Listen to me.

It seemed to him in the depths of his heart, she answered.

Ravion.

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Old 04-06-2008, 06:19 PM   #159
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Nimrodel.

The weary king took the withered crone into his arms, and with her weight borne up by the water, cradled her like a newborn child.

Nimrodel, Nimrodel, hear me. Come to me. Where are you? Nimrodel, my love, heed me. Heed me.

Erebemlin waited, breathless. Nimrodel did not respond. The king called her again, again, again. She did not answer.

Nethwador stood nearby on the bank, leaning out over the water, willing her to hear the king. "Llisten to him, lady, " he whispered. "Listen to him. Sing for him again."

Erebemlin watched, and waited. He heard a dry wind blowing, and tasted ash on his tongue. The king frowned, and shook his head.

Feel the water, Nimrodel my love. You languish not in the paths of the dead. You are here, in my arms, in a green wood, in a sweet water that seeks for the sea. Taste the sweetness, my love. Taste the sweet water.

Erebemlin cupped his hand, and brought water to Nimrodel's lips so that she could drink. She stared listless.

Drink, my lady. Drink for your king, he pleaded.

Amroth kissed her brow, and closed his eyes. Nimrodel, Nimrodel. Turn. Turn away from the ash, and hear us. Hear my voice. Hear Erebemlin, your servant. Hear us.

"Come back, lady Nimrodel, " pleaded Nethwador from the bank. "Come back to us."

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Old 04-06-2008, 08:07 PM   #160
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Ravion leaned over Mellonin, as she shuddered and moaned, and whispered in his turn, "Come back to me, my lady, my love. Come back to me." Slowly, the brow of Mellonin relaxed, and the tremors ceased. She was still fevered and fearful, but weary. In her weariness, she reached out to Ravion. He heard her voice deep within. I don't understand.

Mellonin, I am here.

Ravion. Then all will be well.

He held her close, and willed with all his might that she be strong.
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