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Old 11-26-2003, 08:11 PM   #201
Cuthalion
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Sting

Menelmacar climbed higher in the night sky as they went forward. Melost seemed to be tireless now that he had a goal set in his mind. He strode in front, with Vlad and the woman not far behind. Khalad ranged off to his right, even more silent than usual. Melost wondered briefly why the young man from Gondor had gone so quiet for he had enjoyed the fw times they had spoken together. It reminded him of... NO! Melost stumbled as the memory of sitting by the fire-light with a dark-haired Man, pointing up into the star-flung sky and telling him the stories his people had of patterns to be found there. Several times they had been drinking and they had started making up new pictures...not always the most decent and Arthain had been astonished at the Elf's bawdy humour.

The stars became blurry as Melost walked on and despair settled like a cloak about his shoulders, its weight impossibly heavy. He turned his face from his beloved stars and closed his mind to all further thought or feeling. He listened instead to the grumblings of Fid, telling the others how the Elf was going to kill them all at this rate. He smiled grimly to himself, "Nay, my friend...it is not you or your companions I wish harm to, but he who took what I cherished beyond my own life." His thoughts stung his soul like whips of ice, as part him cried out that his thoughts were wrong, even insane. He began to chuckle to himself as he dashed the tears from his eyes.

Vlad heard Melost laughly softly to himself and he rolled his eyes at Jaheira. "Just what we needed, a mad Elf. Perfect!" She narrowed her eyes at him and snapped back. "You see? I toldyou he was trouble, but you never listen! He's going to be the death of us, you wait and see. I can't wait to say I told you so!" With that she ducked a way from Vlad who had tried to grab her arms and went to walk beside Khalad just to irritate him.
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Old 11-27-2003, 08:45 AM   #202
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Sting

Khalad could not help but hear the words between Vlad and Jaheira, and though he had decided to restrain himself, he found that difficult as the she-devil slowed her pace until she was next to him. He bit himself in the lip, as if to prevent himself from saying anything; and since she kept quiet, he managed to achieve that goal.

He continued his pondering over Laurelindórenan, and what purpose Vlad, or rather Melost had for going there. The laughter that the Elf had produced just a few minutes ago did not sound well, and he feared if some demon from the past had returned, now that Melost had lost his apathy.

Since he was not able to find any answers, he discretely looked at Jaheira. She looked at peace, and her face did not reveal anything. When Khalad thought about it, she was rather beautiful; but he knew perfectly well what manner of creature that hid behind her sparkling eyes.

He turned his attention away from her, and focused it on Vlad and Melost once again; currently that was his only possibility for discovering more. Discretely he quickened his pace so that he would walk closer to the two.
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Old 11-28-2003, 11:30 AM   #203
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The Eye

Part of him enjoying the rare silence in the group, only broken from time to time by Fidrohir's moaning, Vlad concentrated on keeping his eye and ears open. Casting a quick glance over the small band of people around him, he wondered if these people would even notice if they walked straight into a trap.
The look on Jaheira's face when she moved away from him had not gone unnoticed and he was quite amused by her choice of company but didn't let it show. He didn't want to fight with her right now, so he let her be, letting her do whatever she wanted.
Moving faster, he swiftly passed by Melost who seemed to be lost deep in thought, taking the lead for a long time in order to scout ahead, having no intention of being surprised by Orcs in an ambush. These mountains were no place to be careless and with these people...

Through the dark, Vlad thought he could make out something which seemed like lights in the distance, by the foot of the mountain and he slowly moved closer, curious but still cautious. Could their luck have turned and they had now come upon a village or small town?
He concentrated to see through the dark and wondered for a moment if it was true that Elves had such amazing sight as he had been told, but he decided against the thought of using Melost as a scout. For now...
Yes, there it was. Vlad stopped and stood for a moment, looking down at the small village below. Well, village was almost too generous a word for the few houses gathered there but at the moment Vlad didn't care. Turning, he signalled for Snyd to join him and within a moment the younger man stood next to him, following the leader's gaze.
Vlad looked at him, a strange light in his eyes and in the dark Snyd could just make out something that seemed like a shadow of a smile.

"What do you see, Snyd?" Vlad asked quietly as he placed a hand on the other man's shoulder, knowing that this was exactly what they had all been hoping for.
Chuckling to himself, Snyd nodded slowly, aware that if they worked this right, they would all be able to fill their stomachs for some time.
"I see a possible feast tonight, Vlad! They're practically begging for a raid." Snyd's excitement was obvious and his eyes were shining with anticipation.
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Old 11-28-2003, 08:03 PM   #204
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Sting

Melost watched as Snyd glided to Vlad's side, a feeling of emptiness pricking him as he watched the two whispering excitedly together, pointing down at something. A movement to his right caught his attention as Jaheira ran to see what was happening. Vlad's arm slid around her waist and pulled her close and the way she nestled close, natural as breathing caused Melost to tear his glance away.

He caught Khalad staring at Vlad and Snyd with distaste and he moved closer to the young man out of curiosity. "Here we go again.." Khalad ground out as Melost joined him. "What do you mean? What are they up to?" Khalad rolled his eyes. "They've probably found a house or a small isolated village down below. You, my friend, are about to be initiated into the seamy world of the forest outlaw." Melost's eyes were wide, then he frowned. "I think not. Thievery is an occupation I have no inclination to learn." He started to walk on, but Khalad reached out and grabbed him, pulling Melost around to face him. With a look like a thundercloud, he snarled at the Elf. "Look, you may be kin to an Elf King, a warrior and what-not, but Vlad has never betrayed us, and he have never left one of us to die. He's always provided for us, so don't get so above yourself, Elf. He could have had you killed at any time and, knowing him, once you're no longer a curiosity, he still might!"

Khalad released Melost and stalked away, his voice low as he mumbled to himself. Melost remained where he was as he thought over what he had just learned. Outlaws, brigands, people to took from others what was rightly theirs merely because they were too idle to fend for themselves. "I have indeed fallen from grace. I must escape from them as soon as possible, regardless of Vlad's promise of aid."his mind whispered to him as he began to take closer notice of his surroundings.

A bark of laughter from Snyd raised the hair on the back of Melost's neck, for he had suddenly gone chill with the feeling of evil. His eyes pierced the darkness as he watched the band begin their descent down toward the village. Vlad gestured to him imperatively to follow, then turned and started down after Snyd and Jaheira, confident the Elf would follow. Melost felt anger rise within him at the boldness of the gesture, then he realised. Vlad had used a gesture he had seen used among the soldiers of Gondor to indicate following in single-file. He moved swiftly to join them, his eyes still scanning the night, for the feeling of being watched wasn't leaving.
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Old 12-05-2003, 03:54 PM   #205
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The Eye

Snyd couldn't help but fiddle with his belt knife, couldn't help but grin. There was a wonderful feeling that always came before a raid. One of almost childish wonder, excitement filling him at his own ignorance of what was to come. He had done this before, and so should know how the slaughter felt, but it never failed to become a fresh experience. Snyd loved surprises, and this had the look of a large one, and one that would require the use of the blade he fingered.

He fell back beside Jaheira, who glanced at him starkly. His presence was certainly not wanted, but he was used to that. "Why so sour, Jaheira? A raid, after so long!" He couldn't help the eagerness in his voice, and he shrugged off an odd look from Jaheira. "Sour? Me?" she asked, obviously expecting no answer. "As always," Snyd murmured with a grin. Sometimes, if he got her angry enough... "Have you heard of our destination?" she practically spat at him. Yes, if angry enough, she would spill out what Snyd wanted to know. "You know no one ever tells me anything around here." Jaheria snorted. "Of course not," she mumbled. Suddenly her expression grew dark and forboding, stern and...was there fear? "Lothlorien." She all but whispered the word.

Now Snyd understood. Glancing at Jaheira, he decided against his belief of seeing fear in that woman's face. It was all anger and hatred, now. What belonged there, really. "So..." Snyd shook his head, changing what he was about to say. "Why?"

"Why? We're going to help the bloody elf! And Vlad may see profit in it, but I see none! I see us all dead!" Jaheira was smart enough to keep her voice low, even as angry as she was, but still her voice seethed with hatred that stung Snyd as hard as any enraged shouts would have. He worked his mouth several moments, unsure of what to say. They were helping the elf? No, Vlad was. Vlad?

Though it made no sense at all, something else now did. Do you except my...offer? And the elf had thanked him. Why hadn't Snyd seen it before? He wasn't that slow in the mind. He found words to say, just to break the silence, crackling with so many dark emotions and thoughts, most coming from the woman beside him. "I see no profit either. And as to seeing us dead...I can hope not, but that usually means..." He swallowed the words he was about to say. He couldn't joke about that, not when... "I...see it to." Jaheira looked at him strangely, surprise contained in her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but Vlad was signaling them to silence and to move. Snyd was again ignorant, and anticipating a wonderful surprise. Childish excitement made him forget Lothlorien and his worries, as deep as they were. Stroking his belt knife, Snyd moved on into the darkness, grinning.

[ 4:56 PM December 05, 2003: Message edited by: Durelin ]
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Old 12-05-2003, 09:36 PM   #206
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Sting

"I...see it too." Snyd finished, looking at Jaheira earnestly. At first Jaheira thought he was just blabbering on again, but there was something in his eyes, though Jaheira felt too foolish to point it out. Jaheira had rarely heard that tone with Snyd, and it had been so long, she’d forgotten what it meant. Maybe he really did see it too; maybe he really felt the same way. For a split second this disgusted Jaheira, having the same thoughts as Snyd. Then she was relieved, for she was not alone. Then Vlad motioned for the outlaws to move down to the small circle of huts.

…And Jaheira was alone again as Snyd ran off like a giddy little child.

She sighed, grasping her lock picks and an emptied satchel. Jaheira realized that she probably wouldn’t use her lock picking tools anyway. The men would probably crash boisterously through the homes, only asking for her services if a smaller body were needed or a locked box of some sort needed to be cracked safely in case of fragile contents. That was how it usually happened, after all. In any case, Jaheira hoped for one of the homes to have some sort of medical supply, for she was quickly running out of wrappings and potions.

Following the other outlaws and one elf at the end of the line, Jaheira almost got caught up in the anticipation and excitement of a raid, a feeling that had long since been lost to time. Of course, Jaheira quickly squandered this feeling as they neared the houses. There were only six of them, and two of them looked to only have one room. The windows were left confidently open to let a breeze flow through the homes, and candles were lit either on the windowsill or near enough to create an emanating glow through the opening.

“Fools,” Snyd scoffed as they neared the biggest home, which was only a few rooms and a small shed anyway. He looked at the open windows and grinned. “They’re just begging for a raid, begging for things to be stolen.” Jaheira smiled grimly. At least someone is having fun, she thought, watching as Snyd waited for some form of confirmation from Vlad. Looking for the Elf, Jaheira noted that he was trying to hide his intense distaste for what the outlaws were about to do. Jaheira’s smile grew and she finally decided that this raid might be enjoyable after all.
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Old 12-07-2003, 03:31 PM   #207
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Sting

Khalad crept along with the others, and though he was tall he had some stealth and did not make much noise. His left hand played with his swordhilt, and he knew he would not draw his heirloom when doing such an act; and again he cursed the fate that forced him to do this for the sake of survival.

He heard a few words of Jaheira and Snyd's conversation; not all of it, for they were clever enough to keep their voices down. But he could easily guess that they were not satisfied with their destination; and well, how could such brigands be interested in the beauty of Laurelindórenan and the Elves?

They approached the farmhouse and Khalad sighed. If things went as usual, Vlad and the other henchmen would smash in the door and kill those present, unless they had other, more evil plans with the women. Sometimes Khalad had tried to intervene, thinking of his own sister, but seldom had he succeeded.

He was in a dilemma; he did not wish to enter the house and see the ill deeds being done, but he knew Jaheira would probably also stay outside; so either choice gave him evil company. In the end, he decided on staying with the latter, though; at least she had been silent when they had walked alongside each other, and hopefully she would be again.

He only hoped Melost would enter the house as well; being alone with Jaheira and Melost would only bring problems, and Khalad feared he would not be able to solve them.
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Old 01-17-2004, 06:01 AM   #208
Amanaduial the archer
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Eye

Fidrohir crept up behind Snyd, who was crouched at the rise of the hill and whispered urgently into the latter's ear, "Snyd! Snyd, what was she saying about Lothlorien? Why are we-"

"Will you shut up!" Snyd hissed, rounding on Fid sharply, his sword raised. "And get down! You bloody giant, the whole bloody village'll see you standing there like a ruddy great beacon."

Hurt, Fid did as he was told and was glad for the cover of darkness as tears pricked his green eyes from a combination of Snyd, the only decent one in the whole gang since that elf came, snapping at him and his side stinging him sharply as he ducked quickly. Jaheira was lying, he thought venemously. This wound is going to kill me. Well...well then she'll be sorry... the though trailed off uncertainly as the voice at the back of Fid's head laughed nastily.

Lost in his own misery, Fid missed Vlad's signal to approach and Snyd disappeared like a ghost from in front of him. He only realised a second later and, not wanting to be left in the dark when Jaheira was ready to kill and an elf who had already almost killed him was wandering around, he struggled after him. As he reached the side of one of the farmhouses, a low moan escaped his lips and he bent over slightly, his side aching sharply and, he was convinced, blood was seeping out through his clothes. But a shadow appeared beside him in a flash and, in the dark, he didn't even see her fist coming as she drove it swiftly into his stomach. The breath left him as he doubled over fully, all the breath for crying out leaving him. Jaheira's knife appeared at the edge of his vision as he panted, glinting in wat little light there was from one of the other farmhouses.

"Give us away," she murmured murderously. "And I will take pleasure in twisting this into your uninjured side!"

Fidrohir stopped panting quickly, watching the knife through wide eyes. With a small, contemptuous snort, Jaheira moved away, flattening herself against the wall. Despite his resentment, Fid didn't want her to hate him even more; he had to do this right, maybe...maybe it would make them accept him. Flattening himself beside her, his baggy, ruddy-coloured clothes melding into the wall, he pulled a dark and rather dirty hankerchief from his pocket and tied it around it head, covering as much as he could of his noticeable blonde hair. Beside him, the woman was as tense as a wildcat, ready to spring and pounce. Lowering his head so he was speaking close to her ear, but not so close that she could hit him too easily, he whispered, "Where shall I go?"

He couldn't see her expression, but could well imagine the familiar look of disgust. But she did reply. "'Round the other side of the farmhouse, on the other side of the door - Vlad is waiting there. And so is Khalad; I'm sure he would be glad of your help."

A hint of a smile seemed to creep into her voice here - if Fidrohir had been a dog, his tail would have thumped on the ground. Doing as he was told, as silently as he could and without passing the windows, he came to where Vlad was standing and passed behind the man, who was as coiled and ready as Jaheira.

"At my word...ready...ready..." Fid closed his eyes for a second, then opened them sharply, ready for Vlad's next word which would release them into the farmhouse and, maybe, allow Fid to earn his acceptance in the bandits' eyes.
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Old 01-20-2004, 06:29 PM   #209
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Boots

The crunch of grass under a footstep made Snyd jump, and he immediately turned toward the sound, loosening his knife in its sheath. It had come from behind him, strangely enough. Could the residents of this cluster of houses, unworthy of the name 'village,' have seen them coming? That was near impossible, though the possibility of the group thieves plus an elf was unquestionably so. But what certainly wasn't impossible was the arrival of some of the elf's friends, finally, in Snyd's mind, catching up with them. It was unlikely any man could connect a band of outlaws with an elf, and a soldier, for that matter, but these were elves, people who lived forever. Snyd practically shook with both fear and anger, the anger directed entirely at Vlad. He would be sorry now. They'd all be dead, or worse yet, captured and hauled off to be judged by some high and might king somewhere. Knowing Snyd's luck, it would be a general rather than a king, the worst station of person to receive punishment from. And the elf would be able to take his revenge. That realization did cause him to shiver.

What emerged from the darkness made Snyd freeze, and he forced his body to calm. He snarled at Fidrohir, who raised an eyebrow at Snyd and his half-unsheathed belt knife. Finally the man went off silently around the farmhouse, staying close to the walls, and around it to where Vlad was; and the elf would be hiding somewhere, pretending the whole raid wasn't happening, along with Khalad, Snyd assumed. Only then did Snyd replace his belt knife firmly in its casing. He scowled into the darkness wondering how he could have forgotten about Fid. He remained motionless as Jaheira came up beside him noiselessly. There would be no more jumping at shadows tonight. A few moments passed, and Snyd began fingering his knife again, growing restless, staring straight ahead at the side of the house, but not seeing the wall before him.

"What are we waiting for?" he whispered, and it sounded loud in the deathly quiet of the night, especially to ears attuned to any sound, and bodies tense and ready to jump at that sound.

"An invitation, Snyd," Jaheira snapped back in an angry whisper that sounded a shout in comparison to Snyd's voice. "A polite greeting and warm welcome into these lovely villager's cozy little homes."

There was silence again for a moment, and then Jaheira sighed quietly; quietly, but she still managed to sound more than annoyed.

"Vlad's signal. We move in after they do, to pick up the slack."

"Well, yes," Snyd told her, doing his best to sound as exasperated as Jaheira. "But what is this signal going to be?"

"You'll know it when Vlad signals, Snyd, to be sure." She added the last as an afterthought, and Snyd didn't think he was meant to hear it. Suddenly a window glowed brightly in the darkness, a light lit inside.

"That's it." Jaheira made it sound like a harsh command.

"I'm still not sure if that could really be called a signal," he whispered to her back, as she was already moving toward the front door of the farmhouse. She answered him with a kick to his shin, and he limped quickly forward after her.

Standing by the front door of the house, one on each side, they stared at each other for a moment. Then Snyd leaned against the door to listen. He didn't quite put his ear up to it, and he found he would not have to. A loud thud came from inside, crashing through the silence of the night. Snyd almost jumped. The house was small and rickety, and a light footstep could have been heard from outside it. It seemed the thing would have creaked in a summer's breeze. "I expect we will have slack to pick up soon," Snyd said, drawing his belt knife. He and Jaheira stood there for another moment, this time staring at the door before them. All was silent inside the house, and out. Another moment passed, and Snyd glanced at Jaheira, who only shook her head slightly, showing that she was as confused as he.

Snyd tried the doorknob, hoping that perhaps luck was with him, but found the door locked. So he stepped back to let Jaheira in to do her work. The woman pulled out a series of tiny picks, some as small as needles. Perhaps they were needles, but Snyd could only wonder. With a loud click and an awful creak the door swung open, causing Snyd to wince. Jaheira glanced sourly back at him. She had looked quite pleased with herself, but it was obvious that she had caught his wince. "After you," Snyd murmured, which earned him another look, this one much more deadly than the first. As he followed Jaheira in, the floorboards groaning under his feet, he was almost immediately faced with a narrow hallway that might have led to some type of kitchen, and a small flight of stairs lay to his right. At the top of them were two doors. Light shone through the bottom of the door on the left, farther from the stairs.

This time Jaheira and Snyd didn't need to pass a look between them to know to begin cautiously to move up the stairs, Snyd in the lead. It felt wrong, Snyd knew, and he believed Jaheira did, too, but there was nothing else for it. If Vlad and Fid had run into trouble, they could catch whoever it was from behind, in an imperfect pincer movement. But if Vlad and Fid I found more than trouble, if they had failed to do any of their job... That was the oddest part of it all. Vlad, even with Fid, having problems overtaking a lone farmhouse; it was absurd, even Snyd know that. A louder creak of floorboards announced to Snyd that he had reached the top of the stairs. He looked at his knife before taking the few steps toward the second door. He stood against the wall just before it, and waited for Jaheira to go around to the other side of it, as she was quieter, with a lighter step. Still, the floorboards creaked only slightly less loud than they had under Snyd's seemingly heavy foot, and his heart pounded with every step. If Vlad and Fid had had trouble with this one, Jaheira and Snyd would have to surprise whoever was behind that door if they wanted any chance at all. Snyd shut his eyes for a moment, his heart beating like a drum at him in the darkness, disbelieving. This had all worked much better when there had been five of them with guts...before the 'capture' of the elf.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:06 PM January 26, 2004: Message edited by: Durelin ]
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Old 01-20-2004, 10:28 PM   #210
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The Eye

"What troubles you, daughter of mine?"

Menelya's words kept echoing in Anwanelme's mind, no matter how hard she tried to will them away. Ignoring her mother, she desperately tried not to see the obvious. No! They were not alike! Not the least! Menelya had been alone with her for most of her life, but only because her father had been killed. Her parents had loved each other. Had they not?
Secretly looking at her mother under her lashes, Anwanelme suddenly realised something in her mother's expression she couldn't remember having seen before. Pain? Grief?

Her own eyes, red-rimmed with tears, searched her mother's face and she suddenly realised that she had never really looked at Menelya as another woman, she had always just been her mother, someone who wanted to control her life for her. Now she realised that this woman, her mother, was all she had left. All others had turned their backs on her and yet, even after what she had done, her mother had come to her, she was here, at her side when no one else would have anything to do with her.
But she does not know. Will she scorn me as well once she finds out the truth? Anwanelme's mind worked frantically to sort through the chaos that was her thoughts. This had to be an evil dream. Yes, it was! Soon she would wake up in her chamber in Imladris and Melost would come to see her before they would begin their journey to the golden wood.

A movement and the sound of a heavy sigh caught her attention and she looked up and realised that Menelya had left her side and was now standing in front of the door as if trying to decide whether or not to leave the room and the sight broke something inside Anwanelme.
"Mother...?" She felt herself panic and reached out for Menelya who quickly turned around and they nearly threw themselves in each others' arms. Sobbing violently, Anwanelme revealed everything to Menelya, clinging onto her, afraid that she too would leave her.
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Old 01-22-2004, 04:54 PM   #211
Aylwen Dreamsong
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Sting

Jaheira decided not to wince, even hearing the painfully audible creak of the floorboards under her step. Jaheira could scarcely see Snyd across the door, she was even unsure if she saw him at all or if it was just the unfortunate luck of having to see him every day that made her envision his face. He seemed as clueless as Jaheira was, but neither doubted the need to open the door. Jaheira readied her dagger in her hand, and she could see the glint of silver in Snyd’s hand from the light coming from the cracks of the door. Jaheira nodded and put her hand on the door handle, turning it slowly and steadily. It was about the only thing she could do right at the moment, without the thoughts of what was behind the door swarming through her mind. She heard the gears shift; the sounds were all too familiar for Jaheira. Even Snyd’s seemingly heavy breathing couldn’t drown out the sound of the locks inside the handle turn and rotate. Then Jaheira pushed the door open.

Waves of relief coursed through both Snyd and Jaheira, and both took in deep breaths for the air of nervousness had caught in their throat and lungs. Before them stood only Fidrohir and Vlad, and there was not a single other soul in the room that might indicate inhabitants to the homestead. Vlad was clutching Fidrohir’s tunic collar, and Fidrohir was flinching even though Vlad had loosened his grip when Snyd and Jaheira had entered. A candle was softly glowing on a nightstand by the window, and so Jaheira and Snyd assumed that it was the light they had seen and taken for a signal. Vlad let go of Fid’s tunic, and Fid began to relax as the outlaw’s leader moved away.

“What were you two doing in here?” Jaheira asked, her voice a heated whisper despite the fact that they were all confident that there were no people in the home. Jaheira wanted to roll her eyes, but she didn’t dare with the candlelight illuminating her face. Why did men have to be so immature sometimes? Even if Fidrohir was beat up and threatened on a regular basis, Jaheira would have thought that Vlad of all people would have known better than to have risked their raid by stopping to hit Fid. Jaheira sighed. “Acting like a bunch of children! You could have gotten all of us killed!”

Vlad glowered at her before going to the nightstand and picking up the candle, almost smothering the small flame in his large, calloused hands. He held it before Jaheira and Snyd, looking over at Fidrohir with venom in his eyes before he explained. “Fid here thought it would be smart to light a candle, for all the homes and their people to see. When I told him to put it out, he didn’t think it best. I was merely trying to convince him otherwise.”

“While we were on a raid, Vlad?” Jaheira retorted, hoping he would see that his side of the argument didn’t sound any better than Fid’s. Either one of them could have given away their plans. Jaheira passively wondered why Snyd wasn’t backing her up on this, but then she looked at Vlad and saw the flame lighting his patched-up eye and scar, showing his handsome but worn face that in turn showed anger and reproach. Snyd changed the subject, seeing the intensity of the glares being traded between Vlad and Jaheira. “You’re absolutely positive there’s no one here? What about food? Any food?”

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:46 AM January 25, 2004: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:17 AM   #212
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Entering the small farmhouse had been so easy it came close to boring and Vlad found himself wondering about the reason for it. Was it because of the people he had to rely on or was it simply because he was getting old? You're not old, he thought, as he looked into another room and signalled to Fidrohir that it too was empty as the others they had been through, but these idiots will probably be the death of you, if not sooner then later!
Having cleared the lower level, finding no signs that anyone were there at the moment, Vlad and Fid slowly moved upstairs, careful not to cause any steps or floorboards to creak and Vlad had to admit to himself that he was surprised. He had almost expected Fid to simply stomp through the place as he usually did with anything else but the large man seemed to finally having gained the control of his own feet and he moved as quietly as Vlad himself.

One room left. Vlad nodded to Fid, who stood ready to enter the room and take out anyone who might be in there, then he slowly opened the door. The room was empty, just as the rest of the house and behind him Fid heaved a sigh of relief. "No need to signal for Snyd and Jaheira." he muttered, mostly to himself as he entered the room. Now that the house was clear, they might just as well start looking for something of value and, even more important, food and Vlad quickly began to systematically search through drawers and chests. He smiled to himself at a sound indicating that Fidrohir had walked into something in the dark and he stifled a chuckle when he heard the colourful cursing that followed. "How should I do this when it's impossible to see anything? It's too dark, Vlad..."
"Stop fooling around and make yourself useful! We don't have all night!" Vlad growled and emptied a large chest, tossing aside the linen inside, hoping to find something useful at the bottom, then froze when he saw a light flicker. He turned to see Fid place a candle on a small nightstand by the window and he stood for a moment, staring in disbelief at the light. "Fid...what...?" He couldn't even speak, he was that angry, shocked that the other man could be so stupid. When he was finally able to move, he didn't even realise what he did before Fidrohir lay on the floor after an encounter with Vlad's fist. Quickly he pulled him up by the collar, ready to kill. Oh, how he enjoyed the look in his eyes, on his face. Was it fear? Vlad would give him something to fear, that was for sure!

A sound by the door and they both jerked their heads in the direction, only to see Snyd and Jaheira standing their, glaring at them as if they had never seen them before, then Vlad let go of Fid and turned towards the two in the doorway. What were they doing here? He hadn't made any damned signal! Would they all prove to be idiots? "What were you two doing in here?" Although whispering, Jaheira's voice cut through the air like a blade and Vlad glared at her for a moment, knowing that she would most likely begin on one of her rants. "Acting like a bunch of children! You could have gotten all of us killed!"
Moving to the nightstand, Vlad grabbed the candle, for a moment unsure of what to do with it. "Fid here thought it would be smart to light a candle, for all the homes and their people to see. When I told him to put it out, he didn’t think it best. I was merely trying to convince him otherwise." he explained, that would shut them up so they could finish their business and get away from here before anyone realised they were here.

"While we were on a raid, Vlad?" Jaheira continued and he gazed straight at her, knowing very well how grim his face looked in the candlelight and he could see it affected both Jaheira and Snyd. "You’re absolutely positive there’s no one here? What about food? Any food?" Snyd tried warily to change the subject but Vlad ignored him, keeping his gaze locked on Jaheira. How he wanted to hurt her right now, beat her, shove the candle down her throat, anything to silence her. And yet something held him back. In the candlelight she looked almost beautiful and he couldn't help but think of all they had shared over the years. But why did she have to be so...so...Jaheira?
With a sigh he killed the flame and threw the candle on the floor, trying to shake those strange thoughts from his mind. "Since you are both here...who's watching the Elf?" he then asked, his voice calm but cold. The deafening silence told him that they too realised their error. "Snyd?" he said with a heavy sigh, knowing that if he sent Jaheira, she would just cause more trouble. "I'm on it, Vlad!" came Snyd's voice through the dark and he quickly left down the stairs.

Turning towards the window, Vlad stood for a moment, gazing into the night. Why was it so impossible to get anything right now? Once this group had been highly effective and they did what he asked of them. What had happened? Was he getting too old for this?
Then he saw it. A small group moving through the darkness, apparently unseen by everyone but himself. Vlad had seen too many of these foul creatures in his life to mistake them for Men and with a curse he turned from the window and strode towards the door. "We've got company!" he hissed as he passed by Jaheira and pulled her with him outside. "Seems Fid's candle attracted not only you two but a small band of Orcs as well!"

~*~

"What troubles you, daughter of mine?"

Menelya's words kept echoing in Anwanelme's mind, no matter how hard she tried to will them away. Ignoring her mother, she desperately tried not to see the obvious. No! They were not alike! Not the least! Menelya had been alone with her for most of her life, but only because her father had been killed. Her parents had loved each other. Had they not?
Secretly looking at her mother under her lashes, Anwanelme suddenly realised something in her mother's expression she couldn't remember having seen before. Pain? Grief?

Her own eyes, red-rimmed with tears, searched her mother's face and she suddenly realised that she had never really looked at Menelya as another woman, she had always just been her mother, someone who wanted to control her life for her. Now she realised that this woman, her mother, was all she had left. All others had turned their backs on her and yet, even after what she had done, her mother had come to her, she was here, at her side when no one else would have anything to do with her.
But she does not know. Will she scorn me as well once she finds out the truth? Anwanelme's mind worked frantically to sort through the chaos that was her thoughts. This had to be an evil dream. Yes, it was! Soon she would wake up in her chamber in Imladris and Melost would come to see her before they would begin their journey to the golden wood.

A movement and the sound of a heavy sigh caught her attention and she looked up and realised that Menelya had left her side and was now standing in front of the door as if trying to decide whether or not to leave the room and the sight broke something inside Anwanelme.
"Mother...?" She felt herself panic and reached out for Menelya who quickly turned around and they nearly threw themselves in each others' arms. Sobbing violently, Anwanelme revealed everything to Menelya, clinging onto her, afraid that she too would leave her.

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Old 02-10-2004, 02:01 PM   #213
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Khalad watched as Jaheira quickly left and realised he was alone with Melost, the rest of the outlaws busy with the raid. It was dark and Melost was not fatigued, but had the strength to run. Lothlórien was not too far away for the Elf to reach. But if the Elf fled, what about Khalad himself? Lothlórien was not a realm for a Man, not even one of the race of Númenor. Would he have to flee somewhere else and begin a new life, like he had done when he left Pelargir?
Or perhaps he should simply end it here. Let Melost flee and then take his punishment from the outlaws. It would probably include torment but in the end it would have releasing death. Release from his dishonour and self-disgust.

Sub-consciously his left hand slid down his side until it reached his swordhilt. When he became conscious of what his hand touched, he sighed at what it reminded him of. He had almost decided to go for the last option, when Melost made a sharp move with his head. He had spotted something.

Khalad turned and looked himself, and his eyes slowly realised what it was. A group of Orcs. These accursed fiends. His right hand gripped the hilt of his sword and he remembered the inscription. For Justice and Peace. These farmers had no way of defending themselves against such foes. Yet Khalad had. He turned and saw that Melost had drawn his knife and eagerly looked upon the Orcs. Drawing his sword, Khalad grasped it with both hands and brought it up in front of his face in a salute to his enemies. "Let us deal with these fiends," he said to Melost.
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Old 02-10-2004, 02:04 PM   #214
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Melost could feel his blood begin to race when he sighted the orcs moving stealthily through the pitch-black woods at the rear of the house. The old barn where Khalad had taken him while the others raided the house served as perfect cover, it shielded them from being spotted themselves. He felt rather than saw Khalad draw his sword. He said something Melost about orcs , but Melost was already gone. Instinct and blind hatred now drove Melost to protect this man, his comrade.
Past battles filled his mind as he ran silently toward the orcs, who were now beginning to fan out, splitting off to encompass the grounds of the house. Melost had seen four, maybe five of the hated creatures before he decided what action to take. Arthain was at his back, he would be safe. Arthain..there was that name again..and a face, just on the edge of memory. He could hear someone running as Vlad's people came rushing from the house, but within moments everything else faded as he rushed to meet the first orc.

The creature was cunning and fast, almost too fast for Melost in his weakened condition. He had hardly eaten anything since being "rescued" and his head still pained him, his vision blurring occasionally. This nearly proved fatal as the orc swung for his head. Melost barely managed to duck, then drove forward to close with it. The stench was over-wlelming and he found himself retching as he drove his knife deep into the orc's belly, then yanked it up, effectively dis-embowelling it. The orc howled, then vomited all over Melost as it died. He gasped, then his eyes flew wide as he saw Khalad being pressed back by two orcs at once. The young man was fighting for his life with skill and precision, but he would need help.

A stream of colourful cursing came from behind the house and Melost knew that Vlad had found his own orc to play with. He kicked the orc's body away, then rushed to the aid of Khalad with fury in his eyes. He hadn't felt such anger and loathing for many years and he could feel his spirit rise within him until he began to glow with an ethereal light. The remaining orcs froze, as did the humans. None of those present had ever seen an Elf in his full glory and they were as one, awed by the sight.
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Old 02-10-2004, 05:58 PM   #215
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Silmaril

Menelya felt her lungs give an involuntary spasm as she hurried back to her own room. She nearly broke into a run. Her tearstained face would create much talk among the ladies if they saw her. Finally reaching her room, she flung open the door, dashed in, and closed it soundly. Menelya leaned on the door for a second, collecting the thoughts that rebounded off all corners of her brain. She replayed the scene in her head.

Nana,” Anwenelme asked as she reached the point where she finally made her way toward the door when she left, “You will not tell others, will you?”

“No,” Menelya said immediately, without thought. She could not tell the others, even if she wanted to hurt Anwenelme further. That was, in fact, the furthest thing from her mind now. Even the reaction of the other women and the shame revealing Anwenelme’s condition would cause her was a very distant thought. Menelya felt an odd sense of affection for her daughter. She was not used to such a feeling towards anyone. The sensation of Anwenelme’s grasp around her was still strong. The girl held onto her as thought she was frightened that Menelya would leave her in her condition.

Menelya sat down in a chair heavily. It was time to think. She had to be a mother now; she had to be there in case Anwenelme needed her advice. But what advice would she give? She certainly did not live her life the way she had wanted to originally. Menelya put her head in her hands and began to cry again. It felt good to cry again. She could not remember the last time she let herself do so. Menelya wept openly both for her daughter’s future and her own past, letting the sorrow finally escape from her heavy chest.
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Old 02-15-2004, 02:43 PM   #216
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Vaguely hearing screams coming from Fid, who shrieked as he slashed at an orc behind him, Snyd desperately tried to fight off a more than formidable opponent. He was a thief, and all the weapons a thief, meant to be a silent assassin, needed was a knife. Never would a thief need to be armored for war with monsters such as these. Orcs were from Mordor, and anyone as smart as Snyd avoided that place. Not only did the huge slab of metal the creature had for a sword completely outmatch his belt knife, but the strength of this orc was extraordinary. That left one advantage in battle to Snyd: speed. You could count speed and agility as two separate advantages, but Snyd did not like to press his luck.

Ducking under a wild swing, he heard the whoosh of such a large object being hurtled out at such speed. Though the orc had just bared practically his entire body from the shoulders down, Snyd was too numb to react. Only much later would he be able to admit that this numbness came from fear. The scimitar came back around for another swing, this one lower, making Snyd hop backwards. He slipped and fell on slick, muddy earth on landing, and fell forward, toward the orc. He let out a shout as he fell, and was still yelling when his body made contact with the orc. It let out a strange growl of surprise as it fell over with Snyd. Just in time, Snyd remembered his knife, and forcing it outwards, it stabbed into the orc's stomach. It growled again, this time the grotesque noise sounding like a scream.

Pulling the knife back, Snyd hesitated a second, and the creature grabbed him by the throat as it struggled to free its scimitar from under him. "Underneath him," Snyd thought, "Luck. Bloody, flaming luck." Now Snyd did not hesitate before plunging the knife back into the orc, again and again in desperation as the hand clenching his throat became tighter and tighter. It seemed he had stabbed the creature at least two dozen times before the grip around his neck began to lessen, and then finally release him. Falling back, gasping for breath, Snyd realized just how harsh that had been on his body. He couldn't rise from the ground, his body felt limp from exertion. Turning his head to glance at the orc carcass beside him threatened to dizzy him. Black blood covered its bare chest and stomach, and Snyd's life lay beside it, the same blood covering it as well.

He knew it would be wise to reach over and grab his knife, as there was decidedly more than one orc around. Even with that knowledge, which should have tightened his stomach in a panic, Snyd could not steel himself to do so much as put out his arm. His mind wandered for a moment, and he thought of when he had killed his first man. Never had he planned to kill an orc, as he had never planned to meet one. He was brought back to his current battlefield by the realization of how quiet it was around him. No longer did he hear the screams of Fid. Quiet had always frightened Snyd, and this quiet spoke of evil. Finally fear drove him to reach for his belt knife. Rising with a groan, he looked around him into the darkness, still lit faintly by the candlelight in the house behind him, and realized he had made his way outside somehow. Seeing nothing around him, he decided that he had time to steel himself for walking.

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Old 02-16-2004, 03:13 PM   #217
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"What's that?"
Fid had frozen in the middle of the floor and Jaheira crashed into his back as he stopped abruptly. She swore at him furiously in a hiss, shoving the man forward. But Fid barely flinched, still listening. Jaheira rolled her eyes. "Great, now the great buffoon thinks he's hearing things-"

Vlad signalled sharply for her to be silent and Jaheira shut up immediately, watching him. The outlaws' leader moved towards the window, squinting out into the darkness. His eyes narrowed suddenly and he swore with a quick intake of breath before turning towards the door, his sword in his hand immediately. "We've got company! Seems Fid's candle attracted not only you two but a small band of Orcs as well!"

He grabbed Jaheira as he passed, pulling her out with him, but not before she had managed to give Fid a look so filled with utter contempt he flinched. The unfortunate outlaw moved quickly to the window, looking out into the darkness. "Hey, are you sure they're not just-"

He stopped suddenly, suddenly realising his position. He was alone, looking out the window for a hidden enemy, with his back uncovered, in an empty room. An empty house in fact - the door below clicked shut beneath him with a sound which would startling in the silence. He gave a low moan, before rushing down the stairs...and melting into the cupboard beneath them as the front door opened once again and a foul stench and a dark shape filled the doorway and corridor...

Fid knelt wide-eyed in the cupboard, crushed against some cloaks, his face pressed into them so he had to be careful that his scared breathing did not cause them to rustle too much. But as he was sitting there, even in his panicked state, he realised something about the cloak his face; they were covered in dust. All of them were. They haven't been used in weeks... the truth slowly dawned on Fid. The villagers had probably known about the orcs - they had staked out a doomed area!

His gasp must have been too audible, for there was a grunt outside the cupboard door and the sound of armour moving against leather stopped. The man froze, then steeled himself, gritting his teeth - despite his apparent cowardice, Fid was no fool, and the door pushed outwards. The sound of one of the orcs calling to another in the guttural black tongue covered the sound of the man's whispered count to three...

He slammed the door open with a yell, knocking the foul creature in front of it backwards, clutching at it's maimed face, dark blood gushing between itself gauntletted fingers. Fid didn't pause, running it through with his sword straight away, once through it's chest, then through it's throat, not taking any chances. Darting around it, he sliced powerfully through the air sidewards at the next orc's neck level, his yell covering the disgusting sound of steel through muscle and flesh. The orc's head rolled away and Fid was nearly sick as he saw it's lips move a few times before he looked away, swallowing the vomit that threatened to well up. He could hear the others outside and braced himself; he hadn't been able to prove himself against villagers in a raid this time, but now he had the chance to do it in this fight. As he jumped over the second orc's prone body, sword still in hand, and rushed out the door, he couldn't help the whisper at the back of his mind... Orcs are a little different from surprised villagers...
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Old 03-12-2004, 07:55 AM   #218
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Having been surprised by an Orc while fighting another, was a little more than Vlad could have wished for and he cursed loudly while trying hard to fight off the unexpected guests. Finally finishing off the second one, he went back to where the first of them lay on the ground. Vlad had only provided him with a bad wound but it had been enough to keep him down and so he had left him there, to be able to fully concentrate on the other foe. "No one attacks my people without a very good reason!" he growled right before letting his sword fall, then a second later kicked away the severed head. He enjoyed listening to the song of his old trusted sword, remembering the days when its use had been honourable.

Moving around the house, he was met with a sight that left him rooted to the spot for a moment, surprised and in awe. Never before had he seen an Elf in battle, in fact he had never before seen an Elf, but Melost, although only armed with his knife, proved to be a most ferocious opponent and Vlad thought for a brief moment that he was glad Melost were not his enemy. Yet. He didn't quite trust the Elf but in fact, he didn't trust anyone and only time would tell whether this Elf was truly friend or foe.
A swift movement next to him ripped him out of his thoughts and it was only due to his reflexes and skills as a swordsman, that this encounter didn’t claim his life. The sound of voices approaching made him look up and as he looked around, he realised that it appeared they had slain all the Orcs or at least the rest had fled the scene. Then it hit him. He saw light in most of the houses now and the farmers were now aprroaching them, having been alarmed by the noise of the fight. Vlad more sensed than saw the rest of the group gather around him, ready for whatever was to come, but unable to see any weapons, he held up his hand, signalling to the group to wait. Keeping an eye on Khalad and Melost, he saw that they seemed to have seen his signal and they too were waiting to see what happened.

Vlad wiped his sword clean and sheathed it, then stepped forward and one of the farmers, an older man who seemed to be some kind of leader, did the same. Not until then did he realise that apart from the man in front of him, there were only a couple of men present and they seemed to be too old to be of any help or a threat to anyone. Only women and a few old men...interesting! Vlad thought as the man began to thank him and the group for aiding them against the Orcs. "We have no weapons and even if we did, all who are able to fight have left for the great market and won’t be back for several days. Had you people not decided to come to our aid, surely we would all have been dead by now and our houses ablaze. Is there any way we can possibly thank you?"
Vlad looked at the man, almost in disbelief, amusement shining in his eye. No weapons? No one able to fight? This was as easy as looting a corpse! With a sardonic smile he looked straight at the man and took one step closer towards the people.

"Thank us? There is no need to thank us, my good man. Surely we couldn’t let those Orcs run off with what is ours right in front of us!" Even without the light from the houses, Vlad would have been able to see the colour disappear from the man's face, as he finally realised what had just been said and why they were even there and from behind him, he could hear Snyd's usual snickering. "B-but...we are poor people...w-we have no treasure at all!" Liar! Vlad thought as he looked over their faces. There's always some kind of treasure and most important right now, food! Suddenly his attention was drawn to a young woman, standing almost hidden behind an older one and he motioned for her to step forward. Looking her over, he couldn’t help but smile. Beautiful indeed she was and not one day over seventeen, he would bet his remaining eye on that.
"No treasure, you say?" Such a delicate flower, only waiting to be picked... He studied her face, seeing the fear in her eyes, then his gaze rested on her full lips. Begging to be kissed! "I most certainly disagree..." he said, then tipped up her chin and covered her lips with his own. After a long moment he looked up and turned his head, speaking to the outlaws while still watching the faces of the farmers.
"Boys...do your worst!"

Snyd's joyful laughter mingled with that of Fidrohir and they soon disappeared into a house, Jaheira following at a distance. Vlad let go of the girl, who stood frozen for a moment before quickly running back to the woman who appeared to be her mother, then he turned towards Khalad and the Elf. "Khalad, see to it that these people stay where they are." He then walked a round to make sure all the Orcs were in fact dead but when he passed by Melost, he followed his gaze and saw that he was staring at the girl and he didn't need to think hard to guess his thoughts. He didn't turn his face to look at the Elf, but he did slow down for a moment when he was right next to him.
"I will do many things, Melost, but I will never take a woman against her will." he said, then walked away to continue what he had been doing.
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Old 03-12-2004, 09:58 AM   #219
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Melost was horrified and disgusted. In that instant he knew he couldn't remain with these humans, not when he had fought with them only to have saved them to continue in their foul ways. The small amount of respect he had developed for Vlad vanished and he moved without thinking. "Hold, Vlad! How can you do this to these people whom you have just..." The it dawned on him. Vlad hadn't saved these villagers, he had merely been protecting his own, then, stalking like a wolf among lambs, he would take that which was most dear to these people.

"Do what you must to these people, outlaw! You disgust me! To think that I once honoured a human..." He snarled as Vlad narrowed his eyes. "Shut your mouth Elf, if you don't want to lose your tongue!" Khalad, meanwhile, watched in sick fascination as Melost drew his knife once again. "I would rather go to Mandos before walking another step by your side!" Before either of them could react, Melost turned and sprinted away from them. He had no idea where he was, or how he would survive...he only knew that he must leave these people.

"Where is the army? Somehow I must exonerate myself by returning to for battle, yet where are they?" Melost thought frantically as he ran. His heart ached from betrayal. It had been natural for him to fight side-by-side with these men, only to discover for what cause he had been fighting. It made him physically sick and he stopped to retch, then wept for himself and what he had become. His memories were scattered, the shadowy image of a comrade he had loved kept brushing his mind and the pain of that touch drove him to his knees. "Ai! Arthain! Why has this happened? Which of the Valar did I offend that this has befallen us?" He cried into the air as his soul writhed within him.

He lifted the dagger in his hand, recalling the beauty of standing with Arthain as Gil-galad's cavalry rode over the fields of Imladris, recalling how much he had loved life...loved.... I will find the armies, I will do this last thing...and then I will go to Mandos...there is nothing left for me here...
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Old 03-12-2004, 10:40 AM   #220
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Khalad stood like the farmers, not really grasping the situation or Vlad's words. When they had defeated the Orcs, Khalad had been proud, and his sword had sung in his hand; for such a purpose had it been forged, and nothing else. Yet as Vlad demonstrated how vulgar he could be upon kissing the poor girl, no doubt was left in Khalad's mind; and the order for him to guard the villagers made him nauseated. He looked at his sword, still stained from the blood of the slain Orcs. Should he yet again disgrace its noble blade with the blood of the innocent?

"No!" A voice shouted inside Khalad's head. "I will be damned before I do this!" Khalad thought, and when Vlad gave him a look of misbelief, he realised that he had spoken outloud. Melost left this scene, perhaps seeking out his brethren, or perhaps just running away. Khalad could see that Vlad demanded some explanation though, and before he could speak the Gondorian spoke:

"We just fought these Orcs, saving this village! Do you have no sense of pride left? No joy over this deed, over the valour shown? Is your sense of honour and righteousness so dead, its voice silenced by your countless crimes? No longer will I stand idle and watch as you walk further down the path of a villain, committing atrocities that I thought only Orcs were capable of! Are you no better a being than them? I will follow Melost, for where ever he runs to it can only be better than this!"

And with this exclamation Khalad, still holding his sword in his hand, turned and ran off in the same direction as Melost. His greatest desire was to escape this place, yet in the back of his head Khalad had a growing wish which he hoped could be achieved by following Melost; Khalad wished to see his brethren again and redeem himself, before his conscience smothered every thought that passed through his head, vividly allowing his memory to relive all the wrongdoings he had done in his young life.

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Old 03-13-2004, 12:58 PM   #221
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Fidrohir

On the first floor of one of the houses, Fid was systematically ripping open all the drawers on a chest with little care for mess, whilst the owner, a woman, ancient to Fid's eyes, cowered in a chair in the corner. He tried not to look at her though - from experience, he had found things became alot harder if he looked too closely. The outlaw hummed tunelessly to himself, grinning as he dropped whatever he deemed of value into the sack - they could sell it later. We have indeed been lucky to get a village of ancients... he thought gleefully. And if he could find anything truly valuable, how pleased Vlad would be...

Outside, a shout took Fid by surprise and he dropped a crude mug as he jumped, the crash and sudden movement making the woman whimper slightly. Fid moved quickly to the window, still trying not to look at the woman, and saw Melost stumble away at a blind sprint. Vlad made a slight movement after him, but the drama was not yet over. Fid watched with a kind of morbid amazement as Khalad, apparently seized by some kind of madness, suddenly shouted to no-one in particular, "No! I will be damned before I do this!"

All around the Gondorian, farmers and outlaws alike froze, Jaheira turning slowly where she stood and the farmers gaping. Only Snyd was apparently unconcerned - Fid could hear the tinkle of glass and a small, gleeful laugh as if Snyd had found somethng of value. But Khalad was not finished yet.

"We just fought these Orcs, saving this village!" he yelled at Vlad, apparently releasing a river of pent up desperation and anger at the outlaw leader. "Do you have no sense of pride left? No joy over this deed, over the valour shown? Is your sense of honour and righteousness so dead, its voice silenced by your countless crimes?"

Fid cringed quietly and stepped back a little from the window like a kicked dog. He admired the Gondorian somewhere in his heart, but it was a different kind of admiration than that he felt for Vlad and Jaheira. Fid aspired to be like them, because that was the kind of life he was living, it was the kind of life he had been forced into and didn't know how to get out off - if he could be like Vlad, the leader, fearless and heartless, of a band of outlawed villains, able to do whatever he liked, it would be an achievement, a way of looking back at Jaheira who had scorned him and proving he could do something right. But Khalad was different; his was not the harsh and wicked cunning, but...valour. The word came into Fid's mind, surprising him, and he realised what powerful connotations that word held. Valour. Bravery. Honour. Goodness. Khalad may have been snobby and silent and Fid did not think he had had more than five words out of him directly, but, he suddenly realised, Khalad was a better goal to strive for....

"No longer will I stand idle and watch as you walk further down the path of a villain, committing atrocities that I thought only Orcs were capable of! Are you no better a being than them? I will follow Melost, for where ever he runs to it can only be better than this!"

Fid gaped as he heard the last of Khalad's words, and the things he had done suddenly hit home. Murdering, pillaging and looting, take all sorts against people's will...suddenly the outlaw felt like a child again, crying and lost in the darkness, alone and not knowing how to get away from the beasts that crowded in on him. And the demons in Fid's mind were crowding closer than he had ever thought possible. He wanted to go home. Images of the long ago place he had called home suddenly welled up in Fid's mind - it was not a kind place, not a good place, for it had been, for the most part, with the trickster and fraudster who had taught him as a clever youth to steal, beating him and shouting at him, subduing him to the cringing dog he was now. But before then...what had been before then? Fid had been only eight when he went away with the thief, and the images were hazy...

A smoky room, smelling of peat and woodsmoke...small children, younger than Fid, laughing unrestrainedly as they played...adults smiled at them and Fid as he sat amongst them and they danced around him, playing some game he didn't know the rules of...approval, laughter, kindness....outside, a flag flew, of Gondor or Rohan, one or the other or both...no darkness, no death, no destruction...and old woman smiled at Fid from the corner, opening her arms wide to embrace him...

Fid whirled around to the woman in the corner and she cringed again, but he did not mean her any harm now. Tears welled up in his eyes as he seemed to see in every line of her face the features of his grandmother...

Stumbling from the room and half-falling down the stairs, he burst out the door and yelled after Khalad as he ran, "Wait! Wait for me! I'm coming as well!"

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Old 03-13-2004, 02:15 PM   #222
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"No longer will I stand idle and watch as you walk further down the path of a villain, committing atrocities that I thought only Orcs were capable of! Are you no better a being than them? I will follow Melost, for where ever he runs to it can only be better than this!"

Jaheira gaped from where she stood. What was going on? Her breath became caught in her chest throughout Khalad's frantic accusation. Jaheira fought with herself, thinking that Khalad was not doing anything to stop them and that he was only running away from his own fears and troubles like some hypocrite. Then she'd realize that Khalad was right. Khalad was right. It pained Jaheira almost that she was admitting such things to herself, but it was so true! It all started when Vlad had kissed the young girl, and threatened the old man, and Jaheira could feel the fear and animosity. She hadn't killed any of them - she hadn't even killed one of the orcs - but there was the knowledge in her heart that everything was wrong.

Then Khalad ran.

He ran like a little boy running from punishment. Jaheira wanted to laugh at his actions, but she knew that if she opened her mouth it would be weak and half-hearted. Vlad shot a slightly shocked look over at Jaheira, and she only shrugged at him in return. Was he really going to let them go like that? Jaheira was again tempted to laugh at his inability to lead and take affirmative action, but Jaheira stopped herself from laughing again.

Then something even crazier happened. Creaking noises and thuds erupted from one of the homes before Fid came fumbling out the door, screaming like the little baby Jaheira knew him to be. "Wait! Wait for me! I'm coming as well!"

Jaheira felt like crying in her frustration. What was happening? What had happened to the harsh, horrible Vlad that she had once known? He stood there, doing nothing to stop Fid, Khalad, or the Elf. It made Jaheira sick. Maybe I should go, too... Jaheira thought half-heartedly.

"You are going to do nothing?" Jaheira asked Vlad when she knew her voice would come out clear and unwavering.
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Old 03-13-2004, 09:28 PM   #223
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Snyd's body had just recovered from his battle of survival with his lone orc opponent, and he was even able to snicker as Vlad caused the old farmer to grow deathly pale. But his mind slowly fell back into a strange grogginess, as his eyes did not believe what they were seeing. The retreating backs of Melost, Khalad, and Fid. For years they had struggled together, knowing that the only goal was to survive. And knowing that in this world, the odds were against them. Fid and Snyd had always stolen together, escaped together...they had had so much fun together, free from their former restricting lives. As exasperating as the man was, Fid was the only one of Vlad's outlaws he had ever felt comfortable with. Perhaps he had even felt a certain connection with Fid. Snyd now watched his friend running into the darkness, away from the lights coming from the houses that surrounded Snyd.

"You are going to do nothing?" came Jaheira's voice. She sounded as sick as Snyd felt. Do nothing...

"Fid..." His voiced creaked out of him in a whisper. Finding his voice, he shouted, "Fid?"

His friend did not turn round or hesitate. Whether Fid had heard him or not, Snyd could not guess. "And I don't care. I don't," he muttered, trying in vain to convince himself. "We'll see where this ends you up!" he shouted frantically, and shook his fist at Fid's back. "I hope to see you all dying in a ditch somewhere!"

He gave up, and gave in to his exhaustion, fueled by a sick despair. "We're going to do nothing." Jaheira looked at him, and he caught her disgusted expression out of the corner of his eye. Not sparing her a glance he answered her look. "We shouldn't care."

Snyd turned to Vlad, who was looking as calmly severe as he always did, and he returned Snyd's gaze with a raised eyebrow. But what shown in his eyes did not coincide with this look of annoyance. "Why do we care?" Snyd said with all the strength he had, putting as much anger into his words as he could.

"Because there are now only three of us," Vlad answered in a dead voice. For some reason, the flatness of his words annoyed Snyd tremendously. He was at his wits end with confusion, anger...and hunger! He slowly counted those who still stood around him. Yes. Three. Only three; he had always hated when Vlad was right. Only Fid had hated it worse than he.

"Well, I'm finding something to eat," he said slowly, and threw up his arms in an elaborate, absent minded shrug. He turned on his heels, almost stumbling to the ground as he did so, and made his way to the nearest house. The foolish residents still stood outside, staring in even more confusion than Snyd, and with a fear that was not yet felt clearly by the outlaw. Only when he had a full stomach would he notice the fear within him; and that would be just another thing he did not understand.

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Old 03-14-2004, 07:02 PM   #224
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"Melost, wait!" A voice cried from behind him and he raised his head slowly. Khalad came running up to him, breathless, his cheeks flushed and angry-looking. Tears stood in his eyes as he looked down at Melost. He stretched out his hand to help the Elf to his feet and Melost gladly accepted. "Khalad, you don't have to do this, I go not to riches or to reward, I go to my death. Do you understand?"

Khalad nodded, then they both turned sharply as they heard the sound of running feet coming through the wood. Melost's pulse quickened. Was it Vlad? Had something he had said stirred old memories within that warrior's heart of his? But no, it turned out to be only Fid. He looked wild-eyed and frantic. "What in hell was that all about? Why did you run away, Elf? Khalad?" he looked from one to the other as though surely they held the key to what had just torn him from the only life he known for many years.

Melost bowed his head wearily. "I barely know you, yet you honour me by your loyalty. And now, you follow me to a far worse fate than you ever would have known with Vlad. He has protected you, cared for you in his way, this is plain for all to see who have eyes. He will see this as a betrayal of his efforts on his behalf and I have no wish for this to be laid at my door. Please reconsider and let me go my way, for mine is the way of death. My time grows short, but the two of you are young by the standards of your kind. Don't throw your lives away for a stranger, I beg you! Return to what you know, to one who needs you. I need no one to show me the way to the darkness of death, I see it before me, clear as the trackless night sky."
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Old 03-15-2004, 11:57 AM   #225
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Tolkien Fid

"I barely know you, yet you honour me by your loyalty. And now, you follow me to a far worse fate than you ever would have known with Vlad. He has protected you, cared for you in his way, this is plain for all to see who have eyes. He will see this as a betrayal of his efforts on his behalf and I have no wish for this to be laid at my door. Please reconsider and let me go my way, for mine is the way of death. My time grows short, but the two of you are young by the standards of your kind. Don't throw your lives away for a stranger, I beg you! Return to what you know, to one who needs you. I need no one to show me the way to the darkness of death, I see it before me, clear as the trackless night sky."

Melost's sorrowful words scared Fid, and for a moment he hesitated, quailing. What was he doing?! Wherever this elf was going, what sort of fool was he to follow him? Melost is blatantly mad, you have known that since he first joined you, his mind tried to reason. Whatever fight he goe sin search of, it has nothing to do with you. If you go back to Vlad and Jaheira...

That shook Fid from his reverie and he realised with a shock that the life of the outlaws was the only other choice he had. And where had that got him? For most of his young life he had followed them, and what had it gained him? Spite, scorn, anger and taunting...

Fid took a deep breath. "I have a feeling Snyd pities me, Vlad despises me, and I haven't a chance with Jaheira," he delivered, a blatant verdict. "Wherever you lead, Melost, I'm bloody doomed to follow now - 'haven't got an elf's chance in Mordor of passing more than five minutes alive by Jaheira and Vlad." Melost stiffened and his eyes darkened at the turn of phrase, and Fid cringed slightly, remembering the elf in battle when truly angry. But then the anger faded and only sadness replaced it once more as the elf sighed, turning away and beginning to walk. Fid hesitated for a moment - maybe it wasn't too late to go back? They wouldn't scorn a little more help maybe... - before he yelled after Melost, his voice sounding childish and small.

"Well? Can I come then? I haven't got anywhere else to bloody well go now!"
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Old 03-15-2004, 07:33 PM   #226
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"Well? Can I come then? I haven't got anywhere else to bloody well go now!"

Fid's plaintive cry pierced Melost's heart and added more guilt to his already over-burdened soul. He stopped in his tracks to let the big man catch up, then turned to look at him curiously. "Fid, you may journey with me, if that is your wish, even though you have been warned of the danger. I hold nothing against you, even though you wanted me dead at first. Nay...if anyone, my quarrel lies with your leader, Vlad. Both of you, walk with me now. I have not idea where I am and I fear I have far to travel before I can re-join my king."

Khalad's heart rose in his breast at the thought of seeing such vast armies arrayed against Sauron. It seemed that he would at last be able to salvage his honour if only they would accept him. "Melost, do you think they will allow me to fight?" " Aye, Khalad, you will be allowed to fight and to die. You and all the others of my race and yours who so willingly go to break their bodies against the might of Sauron, for he is grown great and terrible as the tales of old say of Morgoth Bauglir."

Melost felt his blood freeze in his veins at the mention of Morgoth's name. He who had created that perversion of Iluvatar's creation...the orcs, who had then in turn fallen upon their "kin" in order to wipe them from the face of Arda.This was what they were fighting against, Morgoth's disciple and erstwhile follower.

"Aye, comrades, follow me if you will. There is no finer cause than this to die for...save one. That one, I reserve for myself."
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Old 03-16-2004, 02:11 PM   #227
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Khalad's eyes shone with eagerness and the light of his kin. For so long it had been extinguished, ever since his flight from Pelargir. Yet a passion burned in him, a pride and joy over his people. Not only would he see the Eldar in their splendour, he would once again walk amongst Númenoreans; hear the speech of Sindarin, watch their grey eyes stare into his with the greeting that they used. He would once again see the might of ranks upon ranks of soldiers, as tall as trees, the sun reflected by countless armours and weapons.

And he would fight amongst them. The answer that Melost gave him was proof enough for him and he needed nothing further to ease his worries. He would march along them and those around him would no nothing save that they walked with a kinsman of theirs, one whom they would fight and perhaps die together with. The next time he drew his sword, Khalad promised himself, would be to thrust it into the enemies of his people.

The eagerness of his youth had now grown strong in him and the thought of possible death did not bother him. Oh yes, he knew that he might die; but he thought only of the death of a hero, slain when his mightiest deeds had been performed and his name had become immortal through song. And he thought of his own song; of past disgrace and fall from nobility, yet a return to previous glory and beyond because of the deeds he would perform on the battlefield.

And then, the thought entered him, he would see Pelargir again. Hear the birds as they shrieked when flying high in the air, unharmed by any man. He would see the white buildings as he approached and he would enter its gates proudly, head held high. Any who would dare to stop him would halt at the sight of his uniform and the awards upon his chest; the awards given by a King to his loyal soldier.
And it seemed to Khalad that the future was not a foe anymore.
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Old 04-01-2004, 10:21 AM   #228
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Vlad stood for a moment longer, his mind working hard to find reason within the madness that now appeared to surround him wherever he went. Everything had been just fine until that Elf had turned up and he himself had been so stupid that he had let him live. All because of his own curiosity. He should have killed him immediately when they had found him, it would have saved them so much trouble. Vlad could feel anger and frustration well up inside him and he took a deep breath, fighting himself to keep calm. All he had done for these people... All he had suffered for them. And this was how they decided to thank him? Fidrohir...he was nothing but a coward, always had been. But Khalad...for so long he had suffered through the boy's endless tales of honour and the splendour of Numenor. How long before the stupid boy finally realised that honour was nothing but a tale? He of all should know, with his own background but no, instead he chose to close his eyes to that and tried to right some wrong which did not even exist. Oh, Vlad could tell him a tale or two about the real "honour" of soldiers in war. They had none! He had once tried to protect the socalled innocent but all he earned from that was to be stripped of his title and honour and having to leave Gondor in disgrace.

A movement next to him ripped him out of his thoughts with a start and in one swift movement he had drawn his dagger and placed it at the throat of the person, who turned out to be Jaheira, ready to end her life with a single turn of his wrist. He could see the disbelief in her eyes but his patience was wearing thin now. "Planning to follow the Elf as well, Jaheira?" he hissed at her, locking her gaze, reading every flicker of her eyes. He would kill her on the spot, should she turn out to be leaving as well, but to his relief she boldly grabbed his hand and pushed the knife away, then shook her head. "If you think I would follow that Elf, you're more mad than I thought, Vlad!" she retorted dryly and in that instant Vlad knew why he had always enjoyed her company. Because she was Jaheira, simple as that. He slowly ran his hand over her cheek, still able to see the bruises from when he had hit her. How he regretted that now. She had been right. How much he hated to admit it to himself, she had been right about Melost and Khalad all along.

In that instant, Vlad made up his mind. They would go after Melost and the others and when they found them, he would let Jaheira kill that damned Elf as she saw fit. "Jaheira, go help Snyd. Take as much as you can carry but think mainly about food. Valuables can be sold at a later time but they won't fill an empty stomach now." She nodded, then turned to find Snyd when she suddenly heard Vlad call her name. She turned and looked at him questioningly but he just shook his head. "Nothing, go."
Vlad stood for a moment, looking after her. He had no idea why he had called for her or even why he felt so strangely relieved that she stood by him. He shook his head, then sheathed the dagger and drew his sword instead. Turning towards the farmers, he raised his voice, not knowing how far away Melost and the others were by now or if they would even be able to hear him, but frankly, he did not care. If they did, it might give them something to think about and if they didn't...well, at least it would keep these people from doing anything stupid. "Thanks to the Elf and the obvious loyalty of some of my people, there has been a change of plans! The first person who moves, I will kill on the spot, be it man, woman or child!" He silently prayed that no one would move, since it had never been his plan to kill any of them in the first place. Had that been the case, he would have let the Orcs take care of them. Now, if only Jaheira and Snyd would hurry up so they could get away from this place.

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Old 04-03-2004, 10:12 AM   #229
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Melost and his "followers" ran on in the dark shadows of the night until Fid began to stumble, cursing and sobbing as he tripped over tree roots the light-footed Elf never even touched. "Melost, Melost... he can't keep running at this pace!" Melost stopped instantly. and turned, his eyes both blazing and sorrowful. "He cannot be my problem, Khalad. He chose to follow me. It pains me, for I see inside him a goodness he himself does realise he possesses. Khalad, there is only one life now I wish to take before I die, that of my dearest friend, the stealer of my soul's desire."

Khalad was taken aback by the tragedy written on the Elf's face and by the vehemence of his words. He moved to touch Melost's shoulder to comfort his but he shied away like a nervous animal. "Do not touch me, I need no comfort nor compassion where I am going, but..." he fixed Khalad with an intense stare, "Much as it irritates me to admit this, I don't want to the poor fool to die. Stay with him until he can run again, then flee to the nearest village as cunningly as you can for my heart forbodes we will be trailed very soon and your lives forfeit. Vlad will come for you soon. And I...would not have your blood on my head as well when I go to Mandos."

Vlad...the thought of the outlaw gave him pain, for when he had first met Arthain, he had had much of the same untamed spirit as did Vlad. Discipline had molded him into a warrior of great heart and endurance. They had bonded almost instantly and in Melost's damaged mind, Arthain and Vlad over-lapped, becoming one entity and he regretted having to leave the outlaw to whatever his destiny was. Thoughts of many possible futures, possible adventures faded back ...

...to the realisation he was standing before two near-strangers with tears slowly running down his cheeks. He bowed his head a moment, took a shuddering breath and turned to walk away. "Fare you well, my road lies in death and despair. This I have forseen long ago, your destinies are not clear to me, so save yourselves, live your lives while you may!" He turned his back on them as a voice called to him, "Is this honour?"
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Old 04-03-2004, 03:22 PM   #230
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Snyd sat on the ground in the dark, gnawing slowly at his last piece of bread, letting it last, savoring the taste and the solidity of food in his mouth. Though his stomach groaned one last time while he chewed, protesting that it still had not been filled, the loaf of bread and hunk of some whitish cheese had done the trick. And the cheese had actually tasted very good, making up for the lack of butter for the bread. This was the kind of luck the outlaw band had had quite a bit of lately; in the past few minutes, really. The wall of the building his back rested upon felt ready to crumble. The town they had so cleverly thought to raid was a poor, forsaken old town, outside any realm, in the 'middle of nowhere' to its fullest meaning possible.

Running footsteps came from nearby, falling softly on the hard packed dirt of the town's 'road', so that Snyd's trained ears had to strain to hear them. They came closer and became more distinct, but by that time Snyd had realized who the footsteps must belong to. Only someone trained in stealth could run that quietly, and seemingly without even trying to do so. It had to be either Jaheira or Vlad, so he rose, only to find Jaheira running toward him. She had a bloody good set of eyes. "Oi! Who's in such a hurry now?"

"Vlad, believe it or not," she answered, grinning in a very mischievous way. She looked quite dangerous, as usual. "He's finally seen sense." Jaheira's grin faded, and her face returned to an anger that so fit her, though this appropriateness was tainted by a twinge of sadness. "Though it took him too long."

"Sense? What kind of sense? You mean, about the elf?" Jaheira nodded. "It bloody well took a lot to knock this sense into him!" Jaheira nodded again. She was distracted, staring at the ground; not deep in thought, but mindlessly. "So why are seemingly in a hurry now?"

"We're following them." Her smile returned. "And Vlad's going to let me have some fun." She stared for another moment at something Snyd could not see, the smirk on her face making the theme of her thoughts known. Snyd wanted to smile himself, but he knew that, as Jaheira had been promised her fun, he would have no part in it. "Gather provisions and supplies," she said finally, barking orders at him. When he did not rise, she growled at him, "And hurry! Or we'll have no choice but to provision ourselves with the fresh meat that is readily available."

Jaheira now directed her cruel smirk at him, and, understanding just what she meant, he smiled at her from on the ground as he popped the last chunk of bread into his mouth. He then rose slowly, and headed for the door of the building he been leaning against. "Save the talk of 'fresh meat' for when we catch up with the elf and his 'followers'."
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Old 04-04-2004, 11:35 AM   #231
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Khalad stared at Melost, slightly shocked by his words. It was obvious that things were greatly amiss, more than the young man had thought, yet he had no time to delve deeper into that. Nor did he believe he would be able to even if given time.

Right now his priorities were to find the Númenorean army, though he felt an obligation towards Fid whom his newfound honour forbade him to leave behind, alone, in such a state. Yet it would greatly slow Khalad down if forced to bring Fid alone to some place where they could take care of him, and then track down his countrymen. Also he did not wish to leave the Elf either. He saw a way to get rid of both problems.

"Melost," he spoke almost in a whisper, "I am unsure if I am able to get help for Fid alone. He is heavy and may not be able to walk for a long while, and I cannot care for him on my own. And if something should happen to me, we would both be defenceless." Khalad spoke as calming as he could, almost as if trying to convince a child. "We both need your help to get Fid to somewhere where they can take care of him. It will not take long; and then you can continue your search."

He almost added "for your friends" to his last sentence but stopped himself, not daring to remind the Elf of the others, unsure of what reaction that would provoke. So he bent down next to Fid, examining him quickly before sending Melost a pleading look.
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Old 04-05-2004, 09:52 AM   #232
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"I cannot lead you to the path of glory, Khalad, for so I perceive is your intention. You would follow me to clear your own name, to regain the honour you once had. Against my better judgement, I will aid you with Fidrohir, but we take the chance of being attacked by Vlad and the others." Without another word, he moved to Fid's side and helped him to stand. the big man groaned and whimpered, suddenly feeling guilty for slowing them down, but too cowardly to allow himself to be left to the tender mercies of his former leader.

Off to their left, the sky was beginning to lighten and Khalad grimaced. "He'll be able to trail us easily now, Melost. We need to hurry!" Melost cast him a sardonic glance. "If only that were possible! You're friend here hasn't missed too many meals!" Khalad looked at him in surprise, "Was that a joke?" Melost chuckled dryly, "There was a time when I had an excellent sense of humour my freind, but there has been no need for it for quite some time."

They travelled on, looking for a small encampment, a village, anything that would serve as a place of refuge for Fid, but it appeared they were in an area with no settlements at all. Suddenly Melost froze. He gestured for silence, then ran a short distance ahead soundlessly. "How does he do that?" whispered Fid to Khalad, who glared at him in return. The two men froze as they heard sounds of a struggle...shouting...then silence.
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Old 04-07-2004, 03:51 PM   #233
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I knew we should've killed the Elf the moment he fell into our camp, Jaheira thought as she spoke with Snyd, though she kept these thoughts well to herself. She'd learned better than to play the old 'I-told-you-so' trick on Vlad. Snyd grabbed a few more loaves of bread and some fruit from the nearest house and stuffed the goods into his pack clumsily. He still had food in his hands, which he dumped into Jaheira's arms. Sighing, she shoved the food into her own pack and struggled to keep from rolling her eyes at Snyd. Then Jaheira led Snyd back to the middle of the tiny village where Vlad was waiting soundly, despite the impatient glare in his eye.

"We're finished getting what we need," Jaheira said shortly, looking at Vlad and waiting for what he would do next. There were still villagers looking on in fright and exhaust, and Jaheira noted that none had moved since she'd gone off to get Snyd. Smart people, Jaheira thought, smiling. The fear on their faces was priceless. Jaheira remembered being that scared only once before, when she'd been sentenced to jail for using her lockpicks to break into different shops in her home town. It was nice to see someone else scared for a change. Her former feeling of sadness and pity for the villagers was gone, and had run off with Khalad when the coward had left. All guilt had fled with Fidrohir, the clumsy oaf.

"Thank you for your hospitality," Vlad began, stealing a glance at Jaheira and Snyd's packs, stuffed to the brim with food and a few random valuables. "I'm afraid we must take our leave, though. But if any of you want to follow us, we would be happy to return here and make use of what you have," Vlad finished with a slightly empty threat, because Jaheira was certain that none of the villagers would follow and that the bandits would not return. Most of them were incredibly old or very young, because the war had drawn away their sons. With this final threat, Vlad led Jaheira and Snyd off into the dense woods to follow the trail of Melost, Khalad, and Fidrohir.

"Do you think it will be hard to find them?" Snyd asked breathlessly as the group made quick work of the direction Melost had taken.

"Snyd!" Jaheira exclaimed in disbelief. "What sort of question is that? It might be hard to find the elf's tracks, yes. But, we're talking about Khalad being weighted down by Fidrohir. Fidrohir! You of all people should know how clumsy he is! He'll leave tracks, no doubt," Jaheira laughed as her voice trailed off. Then she looked ahead to Vlad. "What will we do with Khalad and Fidrohir when we get there, then?"
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Old 04-11-2004, 08:22 AM   #234
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The captain approached Thelian who saluted him, wondering in what errand the commander would approach him. It was something as trivial as patrol duty. "I want you to take a small round in the forests surrounding the camp. The enemy no doubt has scouts and spies." Thelian guessed that it was not a coincidence that he was chosen; his gloom had without doubt been noticed. He said nothing of this though, merely nodded in obediance and walked off. Had this been the old days, it would have been Melost on patrol, and Thelian accompanying him. Yet Thelian had no such companion himself.

As he walked through the Númenorean part of the camp he saw by chance Dorlas, and realised that if he was to have company, it should be the human squire who perhaps knew best how the Elf felt. Approaching him, Thelian saw that he sat and polished his weapon, even though the blade was already spotless. For a moment there was an awkward silence, until Thelian at length spoke: "I have been assigned to guard duty. I was wondering, unless you have other business, if you would join me?" Dorlas looked up, and Thelian could not read the expression in his face; but he rose, sheathed his sword and nodded. "I will go with you."

For a while they walked idly around. Neither of them believed that they would meet enemies so close to the camp. Now and then they talked, or merely enjoyed the nature around them, neither of them focusing much on their task. But suddenly Thelian halted, and kept still. Dorlas did the same, a bewildered look upon his face. "I thought I heard something," Thelian whispered, and then as silently as he could, he drew his sword. He took a step forward, motioning for Dorlas to remain in his position.

Suddenly a figure leapt out of the bushes, and slashed several blows at Thelian. The latter was saved by his reflexes, and parried all of them, before taking a step backwards. He eyed his opponent warily, and then it hit him as if he had been blind and the veil was now removed from his eyes. "Melost?" he whispered with uncertainty in his voice, before almost shouting it: "Melost?"

A tidal wave of feelings flooded Thelian. He had hoped for this so long, yet had not dared to believe it could happen. Yet before his eyes stood Melost, alive and well. Sheathing his sword, Thelian wondered what miracle had made this to pass; and he feared that it was only a blissful dream that had sprung alive before him. Yet it was all to real to be a mere dream. As he gazed into Melost's eyes however, he saw only a blank expression, and he felt a dagger piercing him. "Do you not know me?" He asked, his voice resembling that of a child. Slowly a tear fell, until its brethren joined and they slowly made their way down Thelian's cheeks. Had he not meant more to Melost?

Yet something must have broken through to Melost, for suddenly Thelian felt his hands upon his shoulders, before being embraced. Smiling through his tears, he felt the joy of a lost brother returning, finally daring to believe that this was true. It was Melost standing before him, and he had not forgotten his own kinsman. Thelian felt secure in the belief that no harm could come now, that all the darkness lay behind now. Yet he felt it all become shattered as a voice reached him. The voice belonging to Arthain.

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Old 04-11-2004, 08:50 AM   #235
Amanaduial the archer
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Silmaril

"Teach them a thing or two about looting our villages," Arthain's voice was disdainful as he wiped off his sword on the grass, stepping over a fallen orc.

The golden-haired elf standing beside him nodded. "You fought well, Arthain."

"And you. As always," came the reply accompanied by a grin from the man. The elf seemed strangely silent though, his eyes fixed skywards, the pinpricks of the stars reflecting in his eyes. "What's wrong? We made a good team..." Arthain trailed off. The immortal closed his eyes, then looked at Arthain with what the man thought was a strangely sorrowful smile. "Of course. We always have. We always will. I will always be beside you in battle, Arthain."

The man grinned, then it faded slightly as Melost turned away from him, starting to walk away. "Melost? Where are you going?"

The elf broke into a run, not looking back as his friend yelled after him, dropping his sword and belt as he did so, his stride become faster, wilder, more desperate. Arthain's stomach plummeted with dread as the memory of another time and place sneaked into this otherwise pleasant memory, the image of the elf running, tears flowing down his face, stumbling away from the camp as he did now. The man tried to run but he was hampered by the orcish bodies on the ground that now seemed to have multiplied, and which stirred, grasping for his legs, but still the elf ran on, away into the mist around the trees at the edge of the village settlement.... "Melost! Melost, wait! Melost!"


"Melost!"

Arthain's blue eyes snapped open as the voice entered his dream, the words merging into it but the voice out of place. What was going on? Why would anyone shout the name? They seek to mock me... Arthain thought darkly. Tearing back the covers from over him, he sat up, already clothed, and grabbed his sword from beside his bed, unsheathing it as he started towards the opening of the tent.

Outside, twilight had settled - night had not fully arrived, but a lapse in activity in the camp had allowed Arthain to sink into the first sleep he had had in days, although it had been so fretful and broken he might as well not have bothered. The wood was almost right outside Arthain's door, his tent set slightly apart from the rest of the army: it seemed rumours of his actions had inexplicably spread and mutated around the camp until Arthain felt unable to be with the other soldiers. Some seemed to envy him for 'getting an elvish wench'; others despised him for such a betrayal of his best friend. Either opinion was unbearable for the man.

Flinging back the tent flap, he strode out angrily...to see three figures not far away. One he recognised by the crest on his shirt as being Dorlas, and the other was Thelian. But the other...he could not see his face and his clothes were dirty and ragged in places, yet he held himself like a soldier.

Even before the stranger turned, Arthain knew who he was. His sword dropped to his side and he froze, unable to speak, as the elf looked around the see who had come storming out in such a way. Silently, unable to believe what his eyes and heart were telling him, he mouthed a single word: "Melost?"

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Old 04-11-2004, 05:45 PM   #236
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Melost lowered his sword carefully, as though in a trance. Who is this who addresses me thus? he wondered as he glanced back over his shoulder, hoping Khalad and Fidrohir had kept out of sight. He approached Thelian, suspicion in every line of his face. "Why do you walk in these woods armed thusly? The King is near and I seek to return to his army." Thelian sheathed his sword and motioned for Dorlas to do the same. "Melost, kinsman...do you not remember me? Have you been harmed or injured? By the Hunter, Gil-galad will be most heartened to see you again!" Thelian's eyes glistened with tears unshed as he opened his arms to embrace Melost.

Dorlas stood rooted to the spot as he watched Thelian, wanting to rejoice with his friend that Melost had seemingly returned from the dead and yet at the back of his mind he was frantic, knowing that Arthain's tent was not too far away. He and Arthain had barely spoken since the revelation that Anwenelme was with child by his master and friend, so he was torn regarding where his duty now lay...to Thelian or to Arthain.

Melost looked searchingly at Thelian for his heart told him he should know this one who looked so much like himself. "Melost...I am Thelian, do you not remember me?" The words were spoken in a voice which spoke of sorrow and heart-break. He held out his hands, palm upwards as he came near to Melost. "I believed I would never see you again..." he whispered. "Are you injured? Melost, talk to me!" The heart of Melost was touched by the pleading in Thelian's eyes. He held out a hand to Thelian, then pulled him close in a fierce embrace. "Forgive me, kinsman...I have wandered dark paths and now my path leads to but one place." He took Thelian by the shoulders and held him away slightly and the tear-stained face that gazed at his own nearly crushed his secret resolve. "Again, I beg your forgiveness...to know I have caused you such pain wounds my soul." He brushed Thelian's tears from his fair face, then kissed his brow. "I'll not leave you again, kinsman." he said softly, then turned and gestured behind him for the others to join him, then as he looked up, Melost froze his body going rigid as he recognised his name, spoken by a most beloved voice.

"Melost!"

He went icy cold and he could feel his knees buckle at a the shock of hearing that voice once again, the voice he both hated and loved. Thelian cried out and caught him as he fell. Dorlas, not knowing what to do, reacted by drawing his sword on Khalad and Fidrohir, both of whom stood stock still, aghast. What had happened? Why had Melost collapsed? Dorlas spoke in a steady voice to the two men. "Stay where you are until we can get this sorted out, both of you." They both nodded assent, then watched as another man, barely clothed, ran up and knelt next to Melost as he lay in Thelian's arms.

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Old 04-15-2004, 10:08 AM   #237
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Vlad knelt on one knee examing the ground before him for some sign of disturbance that could be called a track, left by those they were pursuit of. Snyd was thankful, for a moment, that their quarry was so hard to track, for it gave him a moment to catch his breath. They had been moving quickly for much of the night, as had been Melost, Khalad, and Fid. Vlad had pressed Jaheira and Snyd on, forcing them to run for hours on end. Snyd had needed much more prodding, but even Jaheira seemed sluggish in comparison to Vlad. Something drove the one-eyed man on, and more than just a thirst for the blood of his betrayers, as that was what gave Jaheira the strength to run with as much speed and vigor as she did. What drove Snyd on was the fear of being left alone, and nothing more. There was no other motivation that could possibly be driving him; nothing more.

"They are still almost a day ahead of us. They moved very quickly, and we were slow to begin trailing them," Vlad said gruffly, eyeing Snyd and Jaheira quickly, clearly suggesting that this was their fault. Snyd was too busy trying to catch his breath, crouched over and ready to empty his stomach, if need be. It certainly felt as if this would be necessary. But Jaheira was never too busy to respond to Vlad's accusations. "A late start caused by a delay of decision making, Vlad." For once, Vlad did not seem effected by this comment, not even angered. He still knelt, and though he stared at the grass, there was not a blade of grass he could not have examined yet. Another moment of silence followed, and Snyd was able to stand erect, though he still suck in air greedily. Looking ahead of him, he could see the number of trees beginning to grow, and beyond, on a hill, a group of large trees could be seen. Snyd acknowledged their beauty with a glance, and their size with another. They seemed very large, though how large Snyd could not tell at this distance.

"Wouldn't you expect the elf to head that way," he said, pointing toward the large trees that rose above the others on the hill and taking a deep breath before he continued, "straight ahead?" Now Vlad rose from the ground and turned, to look at him. Looking into Vlad's one eye, Snyd could feel Jaheira's eyes on him as well.

"Expecting and knowing are two different things," Vlad said, quite calmly for him. "We move again, so pick it up. We have gained ground, but not enough." Barely giving Snyd and Jaheira time to grab the packs of supplies they had been burdened with by Vlad's instruction, Vlad started running. He ran straight ahead, into the growing number of trees. "Is this what the grass told you, Vlad?" Snyd asked, too tired and angry at the fact that he had to run again to care if Vlad's anger was finally sparked. To Snyd's pleasant surprise, no spark could even be heard in his voice.

"No I know, Snyd. He did head that way, straight ahead of us."

"And what is straight ahead of us?"

"Straight ahead is our destination all along, Lorien."
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Old 04-18-2004, 10:36 AM   #238
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Arthain put a hand on Thelian's shoulder as he looked with concern down at Melost. "Is this truly Melost? Has he returned to us at last, now that the armies are moving? Gil-galad will be most pleased, but...what has happened to him?" He reached down and touched Melost's face. It was hot, as though a fire raged within him. In a near panic now, Arthain stood swiftly. "He can't fight like this, he's burning with fever!" As he struggled to help Thelian raise his friend, suddenly Melost writhed in their arms, and stood free, his chest heaving...eyes cold now and calculating. Taken aback, the others looked on him in confusion as he addressed Arthain.

"So...Arthain...my beloved friend, my dearest comrade, Beyond all hope I find you once again, before the last. Have you enjoyed your prize? Has she been all you thought she would be?" He began to shake as all the rage and pain of betrayal coalesced into a red-hot flame within him. His voice sank to little more than a whisper, yet the silence was so profound it was as though he were shouting. "You...betrayed me! You, the who are closer than blood to me! You took the woman I loved more than all of Arda. Now...it ends!" He leaped for Arthain, drawing his dagger in mid-motion and bore Arthain to the ground. Arthain lay with his arms spread wide, seeing in Melost's eyes his death.

"Do it, Melost! End the sorrow of having to live with the memories!" He looked Melost dead in the eye and saw there the internal conflict...the betrayed and the soul-mate battling one another, then Melost was grabbed from behind and wrenched away from Arthain. To everyone's surprise..they both screamed out..."NO!" Thelian held him back as he fought to free himself, then Khalad joined him."Melost, I don't know what this is all about...but don't do this!" Arthain had risen to his knees, his face a mask of devastation. "Let him go...it is justice that he brings. It is his right." He spoke in the voice of one who sees his death approaching and accepts it openly.
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Old 04-18-2004, 11:26 AM   #239
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Thelian:
Thelian felt uneasy as Arthain lay his hand upon his shoulder, but endured it. He did not wish to cause strife now when Melost had returned. So when the mortal touched Melost, Thelian allowed him to do so and helped him with raising the Elf to his feet. Yet as Melost shook their hands of him, Thelian removed his hold, thinking that Melost desired to walk by himself. He had not expected what happened next, though had he been more perceptive he would have; but his judgement was clouded by his joy.

But when Melost spoke, Thelian realised that something was greatly amiss, and was about to step forward and lay his hands on Melost again, wishing to lead him away from Arthain. But Melost had other plans. Startled by the agility shown by the ill Elf, Thelian watched as Melost leapt at Arthain, taking them all by surprise. Acting on instinct, Thelian rushed forward and restrained Melost, aided by the stranger Khalad. Although he held no great love for Arthain, something told Thelian that it was wrong to slay him like this; and he followed that thought, maintaining his grasp upon Melost even as Arthain spoke. "There shall be no such deaths today," Thelian proclaimed in response to Arthain. In the back of his head, a grim voice whispered to the Elf: "Death is too kind a judgement for you." He shivered slightly, and feared for himself; had his principles and morales been so shattered by this?

Khalad:
Khalad was bewildered at this as he made his way through the bushes to where he found the group assembled. Melost had told him naught of these persons, and he understood not what passed; though it was clear that some reunion took place. Between both friends and foes, it would seem. His bewilderment was not dispelled until Melost jumped at Arthain; although he knew not why the Elf attacked this man, he feared that Melost was not in his right mind and could not judge anything. So he jumped forward, preventing the Elf from accomplishing his deed.

Holding one arm, he looked at Thelian and wondered who he was; apparently someone dear to Melost from what Khalad had seen. And perhaps also someone of authority, Khalad thought, for the vision of Melost drawing his dagger and jumping at Arthain, had reminded him of what Vlad would do to Khalad. Clearing his throat, he spoke to Thelian: "Milord, danger is not over, and death may still come for us. A small band of outlaws are tracking our path, bent on killing not only me but also Melost. They are led by a man with only one eye, and he has another man and a woman with him." Khalad spoke quickly, suddenly fearing that any moment now Vlad would jump out of the bushes, cutting his throat. Thelian nodded to him, and replied: "I shall ensure they are prevented from achieving such a foul deed."

Thelian:
Looking at the young man, Thelian recognised him as a kinsman of Arthain and Dorlas, one of the Númeanoreans, despite the rags he wore. Although he was inclined to distrust him because of Arthain, he knew that he could not base his judgement of a people on one person. And Dorlas had proved to be of another sort. Perhaps I shall trust him, Thelian thought. "I shall ensure they are prevented from achieving such a foul deed."

As Thelian had spoken, he realised that he could not leave Melost alone. Looking around his gaze fell upon Dorlas and decided to give these Númenoreans the ultimate test of trust. "Dorlas," Thelian called softly, "you and this noble stranger will keep Melost in check; he is not himself, do not give him any chance to escape your grasp. I shall seek out my commander and acquire his aid."

When Dorlas had taken his place, Thelian turned around and walked quickly, almost running, until he found the very Elf that had sent him off on patrol. "Sir, I bring tidings. A small group of outlaws are headed this way, with the intention of killing a close servant of Gil-galad. My information comes from one who has escaped their clutches," Thelian said, almost tripping over his own tongue in his rush. He conveniently forgot to mention who the servant was. The commander searched his eyes for a moment, in doubt; but at last he was convinced, and summoned up a group of Elven soldiers. "Thelian, lead them to these outlaws and deal with them. Spare their lives if you can, we may extract useful information from them. Though do not let them escape!" Thelian bowed and exited the tent, followed by the soldiers.
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Old 04-18-2004, 01:07 PM   #240
Amanaduial the archer
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Silmaril Arthain

Standing, Arthain's expression was agonised as he looked into the elf's hateful eyes, boring into him with their venom. He hung his head, closing his eyes tight, then looked up again, to Dorlas and this new, ragged man holding Melost.

The elf's jaw was tight as he glared at the soldier, each of the other men ready to grab an arm if he attempted to jump again. But Arthain walked towards the man who had been his best friend, his head slightly turned to one side as he sought the right words. As Arthain drew to be level with the other, Melost drew back and spat at Arthain. The man drew back only slightly from it, his eyes closed: he knew the elf well, had anticipated it. When he opened his eyes again, the elf still bore that hateful glare, his mouth set in a snarl.

"You deserve to die," he whispered acidly.

Arthain felt his eyes burn as he knew it was the truth, remembering everything.

"How can you live? How?" Melost's voice was slowly rising, and the last word was almost a shout as the elf struggled against the other two. The unknown Numenorean pushed Arthain back out of the way, but he came back, his face a few inches from Melost's.

"I don't know!" he yelled back. "I don't know! You think this is life? Melost, not a moment goes by when I do not remember you, remember some deed we did together, some time you saved my life or I yours - do you remember too, Melost? Remember all the battles fought? I bear the scars and so do you, and I cannot think of you or look at them without...every time it happens I pray to any god that might be watching that time could go back and none of this could have happened!" The pent up anger of the past weeks was flowing out now and tears were in Arthain's dark blue eyes, making them glistening, dark slits, threatening to overflow.

"Then why did you do it? You betrayed me, Arthain, and no doubt you have betrayed me ever since-"

"No! I have done nothing of the sort, Melost, nothing - never, never since that day, that damnable day!" Arthain fell to his knees, grabbing Melost's hand, still holding the dagger, which the elf drew back as if the man was unclean.

"So kill me, Melost! Do it, if you cannot forgive me, for death I will take gladly and justly for release from this pain - I would rather take whatever truly lies for such a sinner in the afterlife than live a second more knowing that you cannot forgive me!" He grabbed the dagger, placing it at his own throat, his eyes flooding with tears and he stared up at Melost. "Do it!" he yelled brokenly.
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