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Old 11-25-2004, 06:53 AM   #241
Lalwendë
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Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
To Tarn had fallen the part of calling the seals and getting them to find this mysterious stone. He had seen the nets of the Elves drawing up the larger stone, and he gazed in wonder as he realised what the whole venture had been about. He had at first wondered what value there could be in some old stones, and it had crossed his mind to question why they should be fighting to gain possession of them. But as he saw the stone being winched in by the Elves, he remembered one of his Grandfather’s old tales of a great disaster involving kings and precious ‘seeing stones’. He had always enjoyed the tale, more for the thrilling and terrifying disaster than the mysterious stones, but the memory of it was there in the back of his mind.

Tarn did not have long to spend in wonder as soon Marreth ordered the trained seals to be called, to help the Corsairs locate the remaining stone. After a long, high whistle, Tarn’s group of seals appeared, eager to do his bidding, and leaning over the rail of the ship, he welcomed them, as was his habit. Issuing a series of complicated whistles, the creatures went off to a spot slightly away from the Corsair ship and disappeared beneath the icy waves silently. Tarn could do no more now than watch and wait. Out of the corner of his eye he had seen Marreth pacing the deck with a tense look upon his face. Tarn knew not to address him, as he could see that impatience was brewing in the Captain; but he looked troubled by something else, something which Tarn could not read.

***

When the black stone was winched in, Tarn’s eyes opened wide with amazement. It was just as his grandfather had said. He longed to touch it, and edged closer to Marreth, but the Captain held it firmly and jealously turned away from him, a glint in his dark eyes. Tarn cursed himself that he had not gone looking for these stones on his own; their worth was more than ten times everything else he had ever salvaged from this ocean. They could buy untold weaponry, they could buy the support of a great many men, they could have given him the power he craved.

He tried to get a closer look but the Captain finally walked away from him, barking out orders to sail for the Elven ship. Tarn, disappointed, went back to the rail and put his head on his arms. A surge of pain welled up behind his broken ribs and he sighed. He was not sure he was so keen for another battle at that moment though he knew he was fit for it. Gazing at the waves sadly, a sense of disappointment grew within him, and he longed to get hold of that stone.

Last edited by Lalwendë; 11-27-2004 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 11-25-2004, 01:11 PM   #242
Regin Hardhammer
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Marreth

Holding the Palantir gingerly in his arms, Marreth watched eagerly as his ship got closer and closer to the wounded Elven vessel. Soon the other Stone would be his and the Elves would be dead. Even Lord Castamir could no longer stand against him.

But when he was no more than a stone’s throw from the ship, he saw with dismay that the Elves had finished restringing the sails on the half shattered mast. Now their ship was escaping and sailing slowly toward the shore. Although their sail worked, it did not provide full maneuverability and it was unstable enough to be knocked down by a strong gust of wind. Perhaps, they aimed to continue the fight on land, where both parties stood on equal footing.

“Not again!” yelled Marreth livid from frustration. He would not let the Elves slip away again and thwart his plans. His determination and passion flared higher than ever as he racked his mind for a course of action. The Corsair ship might not be able to catch the Spirit before it reached land and Marreth did not want to pursue them on dry ground if he could finish them off at sea.

Then Marreth stumbled on an idea that he had used once before to gain the upper hand on the Elves. “Bring the hostage to me,” he roared. Two of his crew brought the Elf woman to Marreth. She had been captured during the foray to free Hilde from her incarceration. The blue robe the woman wore was battered, covered with dust, and slightly ripped in places but the Elf herself was relatively healthy, especially considering the abysmal conditions of the ship’s prison. “How are you doing, little lady,” Marreth quipped with a grin. She made no effort to answer and kept her head down and eyes closed.

Marreth brought his ship to a halt and bellowed out a challenge, “Luindal, you sea dog, I have something that might be of interest to you. You best stop and hand over that large Palantir. I already hold one of them in my hand and I enjoy starting new collections. What do you say? Otherwise, this little lady could get very damp.”

With that, Marreth grabbed Andtuariel by the shoulder and shoved her out to the very end of the plank.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 11-28-2004 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 11-28-2004, 08:10 PM   #243
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The two ships stood unmoving in the water, each in close proximity to the other. After hearing the proposal that had been made, Luindal responded calmly to Marreth, "We wish to see the Elf safe, but will need a moment to consider what you are asking us to do and how we are to move this massive Stone. It won't be easy getting the thing from one ship to the other." He pointed towards the massive globe that had been set down in the stern of the vessel.

Marreth responded with a grin on his face, "A moment? A moment is fine but make sure you take no longer than that."

Quickly, Luindal beckoned the crew, both Elves and Lossoth, over to a spot where they would not be seen or heard by the Corsairs. Annû was the first to speak, "Surely you do not believe him?"

"No more than you do. But we can play for time, enough time to prepare a little surprise of our own." Luindal snapped out his instructions. "Tarn, Nilak and the other Lossoth....you are to move the Stone into the net and act as if you are cranking up the winch to swing the package over to the Corsair ship. Keep a firm grip on Stone and net, but make sure you have trouble with your task. If a head or two should roll by being knocked by a swinging net and Stone, so be it."

"I will take the helm and sail straight in, positioning our ship beside theirs."

"That's all?" Annû queried.

"No, I need volunteers, preferably Elves who don't mind cold water. As we approach the ship, slip into the sea and make your way over to the far side of the Corsair vessel. You won't have to swim far. One of you take this rope, throw it up and have it latch onto something solid to give yourself a ladder to shimmy up. Once you're on board, stir up some havoc and try to get Andtuariel out of the way. We'll attack from the front once we see you're safely on the ship." The companions nodded and each headed off to a task.

Luindal was not sure about Andtuariel's safety. Once Mareth knew they planned to attack, she would be the first to go. Yet he had no idea what else to do.

Luindal turned back to Marreth since the Corsair had again begun to call impatiently from the other ship, "We will give you the Stone," Luiindal hastily assured him. "I do not want to see another crew member die, especially a woman. Only this Palantir is massive, and it may take us a while to get it loaded in the net. If it's alright with you, I'll sail over towards your ship where we can do the transfer."

"By all means, come visiting. But remember that we will all have our weapons trained on the Spirit and, if there is anything suspicious, the pretty dainty goes first." Marreth grinned again and gestured towards Andtuariel who was perched on the end of the plank, shivering and looking thoroughly miserable.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 11-29-2004 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 11-28-2004, 08:15 PM   #244
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Rôg’s hands were gripped firmly on the rail. The waters of the bay were choppy, making him feel as if he did not hold on tightly he would be washed overboard. He stumbled a little as the deck lurched, and felt the strong grip of someone’s hands on the back of his arm, steadying him. ‘Careful, Rôg, we would not want to lose you when you are so close to going home.’ It was little Rodhal, a concerned look on his face. Rôg smiled at the boy, stepping away from the rail with him to the passageway below deck.

He had stepped just down to the second step when the ship lurched again. He was thrown against the side of the passageway, staggering to get himself up as well as Rodhal, when a number of Elves came running up the stairs, weapons in hand. ‘What’s happening?’ the boy cried out, shrinking against the wall of the passage. Rôg put his hand out, stopping one of the Elves. Before he could ask his question, the Elf was already starting past him. ‘The Captain has called us on board. The Corsairs are making an attempt to get the palantir from us.’ Rôg took Rodhal down to his cabin and bade him stay there – safe from the happenings above. ‘I’ll send your Uncle down to you if I see him above.’

Rôg ran quickly back to the deck. The Corsair ship had approached near the Elven ship. Luindal had turned the Sea Spirit about and was now parallel with the other. Rôg turned his head up toward the quarterdeck; he could see Elwë and Annû, their faces grim, intent upon the Corsair ship. Others of the Elves had taken positions along the deck, many of them with bows in hand, arrows already nocked. He let his eyes track to the ship opposite them and to the ragged figure that stood wavering on the plank that protruded from it. It was Andtuariel!

‘You should go below,’ one of the crew members said to him. ‘You are not armed. And soon, I think, there will be fighting.’ He pushed the Skinchanger gently but firmly back toward the passageway, then turned away to take up his position. Rôg stood for a few moments in the shadow of the passage, waiting for the Elf’s attention to be turned away from him fully.

‘I don’t have any weapons,’ he murmured to himself as he crept to the opposite side of the ship from where all were focused on the Corsairs. ‘But I can do something to help.’ With those words, he slipped over the side of the ship, dropping toward the waves below. He dove deep beneath the surface, his strong flippers and tail moving him quickly through the water. Soon he was positioned near the Corsair ship, just below the plank. He could see the Elf’s blue cloak fluttering in the breeze above.

‘Andtuariel,’ he barked up to her, trying to catch her attention. ‘Just jump . . .’

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Old 11-29-2004, 12:55 AM   #245
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The salt water stung his wound intensely. Annû sucked in his breath and eased himself away from the Spirit, swimming with strong strokes toward the Corsair vessel. Elwë followed close behind him. Both of them had stripped down to their breeches and carried a knife and clubs as weapons. A dozen other of the crew had also slipped over the side at Luindal’s request, their own knives, clubs, and swords well secured against the heaving of the waves.

Elwë was the one who had taken the rope the Captain had offered. When all had gathered at the far side of the Corsair ship, Elwë threw the rope with its small grappling hook up toward the long boat that hung from the davit. The curved prongs caught on the rim of the boat, and Elwë climbed up quickly, hand over hand. the others followed suit, clambering into the boat as quietly as they could. Annû was the last one up. He pulled the rope up after him, stowing it in the bottom of the boat.

It was only a short distance from where the boat was suspended to the deck of the ship. With a great yell, the Elves sprang from the cover of the boat, leapt over the ship’s railing, and poured onto the deck, their weapons slashing and bashing with great effect. In the midst of the sudden confusion, Elwë, Annû, and one other Elf made their way toward the plank where Andtuariel was perched . . .

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Old 11-30-2004, 08:15 AM   #246
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The Corsairs Resist:

Marreth howled in rage as the Elves spilled onto the deck and began to fight. He quickly glanced at the spot where the female Elf was standing. He felt like tossing her into the Bay. That coward Luindal had broken his word, and Andtuariel should pay the price. But right now he had other things to worry about. The Elf would have to wait until the intruders had been defeated and the Palantari was safe.

"Mates," he yelled out, "Over here!" He beckoned to a several of his men. "Keep the Elves from breaking through to the woman. "The rest of you come with me. Form a cordon to guard the Stone." He set the smaller Stone down on top of a barrell and ordered four of his crew to protect it with their lives. "Keep this safe, and there'll be fine loot in it for each of you."

Then he gestured several more crew members to come to his side. They formed an outer ring around the barrel intent on safeguarding the Stone. Within a few moments everyone was fighting as swords and daggers flashed in the air.

Last edited by Regin Hardhammer; 12-01-2004 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 11-30-2004, 12:54 PM   #247
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Damsel in distress....

Everywhere loud shouts erupted and the clash of blade on blade as the Elves swarmed over the deck of the Corsair vessel, trying to battle their way to the spot where Andtuariel hung suspended above the water at the end of a narrow plank. With small clusters of fighters engaged in every corner of the ship, Marreth and his men were momentarily too occupied to pay much attention to the Elf who stood shivering and alone, a blindfold covering her eyes. Yes, despite the diversion, there was little she could do to free herself. Unable to see, her arms and legs hobbled, Andtuariel clung to her precarious perch, and cried out with a pitiful voice, beseeching her would-be rescuers to redouble their efforts.

Luindal stood firm at the helm of the Spirit, wrestling with the wheel as he tried to bring the ship close enough for his men to be able to reach the other deck. The boarding party would not be enough to take the Corsair ship. More reinforcements were needed. A line of Lossoth and a few remaining Elves waited impatiently on the Spirit, most perched in the rigging, hoping that their moment of opportunity would come.

For all his years of experience as a sailor and helmsman, Luindal did not have an easy job. The wind had again picked up and blew in great jagged peaks causing both ships to lunge back and forth from one wave to the next. The mast of the Spirit was creeking and groaning under the strain. The makeshift repairs would never hold. The short stump of the main mast did not have the strength to bear the full weight of the sails: even in calm weather they should have limped back to shore. But the sea was not calm, and the weather was becoming grim. The Elf managed to get his ship within several arms's length of the other but it was still too far out for his men to leap onto the other vessel.

Suddenly feeling a stinging senation on his face, Luindal glanced up from the wheel to the sky and saw to his horror that hail was beginning to fall. At first there were only a few balls no larger than a man's fingertip, but they soon grew in size and number. Hundreds of hailballs came pelting down against the sails, ripping them to shreds and slicing into the rigging itself, leaving ropes dangling free. The main mast itself began to sway slightly back and forth under the weight of the blasts.

Jumping back from the helm, and shielding his head from the hail, Luindal grabbed an axe in his other hand and began hacking away at the largest of the ropes, the one that held the mainsail in place. He called out to his crew who were perched in the rigging, "Use your axes and daggers. Cut the ropes. Let the sail swing free. She'll give you a ride to the Corsairs." The crew began hacking away at the few remaining ropes that were still in place.

"She'll turn turtle!" one of the Elves howled.

"No," Luindal cried fiercely as he climbed up onto the mast. "The Spirit will hold true."

With that, and a final blast of wind from the north, the boom swing wildly back and forth, wholly freed from its moorings. The occupants of the rigging clung for dear life. The Spirit lurched ever closer to the pirate ship. With a final creek and a groan, the mast of the Elven vessel snapped in two and the entire assemblage, both sails and spar, swung far leeward and toppled onto the deck of the Corsair ship, carrying Luindal and his men into the thick of the fighting.

As the mast came crashing down, combattants leaped out of its way. But there was one aboard the Corsair vessel who did not leap in time. Andtuariel, the fair Elf, was swept off the plank and plunged downward to the swelling waves.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 12-01-2004 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 12-01-2004, 07:05 AM   #248
Lalwendë
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Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
As the ship drew to a halt, Tarn’s stomach lurched, not with sea-sickness for he was well used to the waves since his days on the whaling boats, but because he knew another battle was coming. He wondered for a moment what was coming over him; he had never been afraid of a fight before. It was the sight of that stone, he knew, that was holding him from wanting to fight. All he wanted to do was to touch the artefact, to find out what was so special about it.

He looked about to see where Marreth may have stowed it, and if he could sneak back down below deck; surely he could look about for it while battle raged? Tarn decided he would go and search fro the stone, but as he moved off, he heard Marreth shouting his threats at the Elves and he saw with dismay that he held the stone.

Tarn’s eyes were fixed upon the Palantir, as were those of several of the sailors; they were seemingly transfixed, and the spell was only broken by the appearance of the captive Elf. All eyes moved towards her as she came slowly forwards in her tattered robe. She stepped onto the plank, vulnerable and fragile. Tarn almost thought for a moment that he would rather have the Elf maiden than the stone, but then this new bewitchment was shattered by the appearance of several furious Elves, armed to the teeth, who came swarming over the side of the ship.

Instinctively, Tarn slipped back into the shadows as far as he could. He saw the Elf who had pummelled him before and grimaced. He would normally have stepped out to face his new sworn foe, but this time he did not want to be seen. He was still in pain, and he knew only too well the fighting skills of this Elf. Tarn needed to use his cunning this time. He found a length of rope and wrapped it around his shoulder; he had an idea of how it might be used, and smiled to himself, pleased that this thought had come to him. Looking inside his coat, he found his knife and checked to see that the blade was filthy before he hid it in the palm of his hand. He was ready for one last fight.

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Old 12-01-2004, 01:09 PM   #249
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The space between the ships was narrowing as The Sea Spirit drew closer to the Corsair vessel. Rôg did not fear that he would be crushed between them where he swam in the small area of water between them; the sides of the ships would touch long before the keels were near enough to cause him problems. He was anxious, though, because the distance between the Elven ship’s side and the plank where Andtuariel stool was becoming critically close.

Again, and in a much louder voice, he urged her to jump. But his words from that distance were hard to hear above the din of the beginning battle. Still, he noted. she had heard something and now glanced down looking to see who had called to her. He pushed himself up as far as he could from the surface of the water and motioned to her with his flipper.

Too late!

He saw her look up and over to where The Spirit drew closer. There was a sudden look of horror on her face as the loud cracking sound that echoed between the ships was quickly followed by the deafening whump as the Elven vessel’s mast crashed to the deck of the Corsair ship. She was frozen in time for a moment, then fell from the plank like a limp rag doll.

Rôg dove deep below the surface of the waves, one eye above to where she might enter the water. Like a leaden weight, her body plunged downward, and, unresisting, was met by his own as he raced upward to bring her to the surface. He moved his body under her floating above the waters surface. He spoke to her, wanting her to take hold of his flipper, so that he might more easily move her to safety, But, there was no response. Desperate, he grabbed her by the neckline of her cloak, and flipping on his back, the main weight of her supported on his underbelly, he swam slowly around the prow of The Spirit to the side of the ship away from the battle.

Rodhal had been watching Rôg from the first, crouched down and peeking over the edge of the deck as he could. He followed the path of the Skinchanger, and seeing the tired fellow trying to keep the Elven maiden afloat, he ran quickly to get his uncle’s help. ‘Down here!’ he cried, tugging Galhardir to the side of the ship by his coat sleeve. ‘He looks tired Uncle and the poor Elf weighs heavily on him. He can barely keep the both of them afloat.’ Galhardir got into the longbot that hung on that side of the ship. Several of the other Lossoth took hold of the ropes and lowered him in a crazy, swinging motion to the water below.

‘Take her!’ Rôg gasped, as Galhardir reached down toward the Elf. ‘Get her out of the water.’ The Elf’s sodden body was pulled as quickly as could be done into the bottom of the boat. Rôg put his hands boat’s edge and hauled himself into it. He was shivering now, his face drawn from the cold, and from the gravity of the situation. Galhardir had taken his own cloak and set it about the man’s shoulders.

‘Nay,’ rasped Rôg, attempting to stand and place the cloak over Andtuariel. ‘She needs it.’ Galhardir pushed the man back down to the seat. ‘Nay, Rôg,’ he said gently, settling the cloak about the huddled figure. ‘She has no need of it now. She has gone where the cold touches her no longer.’ He raised his hand to wave to the Lossoth above, signaling them to raise the boat back to the deck. With great care they bore the Elf’s body to her room and laid her out on her bed, to be seen to later when the press of battle was not upon them.

Rôg, for his part, put his grief at the death of the fair Elven maid aside. There was nothing more he could do for her. But his other companions were now fighting on the Corsair deck. He could still aid them in his own small way. Shaking off the now sodden cloak, he took wing once again as the merlin. Eyes sharp as he circled above the battle, he flew in a tight circle, then darted swiftly down; his beak and talons harrying the Corsairs from above as he could.

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Old 12-01-2004, 02:03 PM   #250
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In his haste to make his way to where Andtuariel stood on the plank, Annû did not see the man standing in the shadows. But Elwë, a few paces behind him, caught the glimmer of the man’s eyes as they flashed at his friend. The Elf stopped and faced where the Lossoth pressed back, into the darkness. Elwë’s keen eyes narrowed as they picked out the man’s features. This was the one who had tried to beat and injure Annû when the foul Corsairs had tried to invade The Spirit. ‘Come out, you craven worm!’ he challenged the Lossoth. He shook his club at the man, spitting out the words, ‘Face your better, coward!’

-----

Annû’s eyes were on Andtuariel. The Corsairs had turned away from her when the Elves had rushed onto the boat, and now she stood unguarded on the plank. He was almost to the place where the narrow board extended from the ship, when his attention was caught by the loud cracking sound of The Sea Spirit’s mast and the rapid fall of the Elven ship’s spar to the deck of the Corsair vessel. He leapt away from where it crashed and rushed back to help those who had clung to it as it fell up to their feet. They fell upon the Corsairs with a vengeance.

Andtuariel was nowhere to be seen. He could only hope she had somehow gotten to safety. The battled swelled about him, sweeping him up in its ferocity. He wielded his knife and club against the Corsair crew with grim determination, bringing down those whom he could . . .

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Old 12-02-2004, 09:03 AM   #251
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White Tree Galhardir & Rodhal

"She has no need for it any longer..." Galhardir whispered to himself as he sat in the longboat. The fair elven maiden had closed her beautiful eyes with the long lashed one last time. Her body was cold as ice and the skin was pale and lifeless. She was gone. The waves had taken her, all too soon, after Galhardir’s opinion. Why did she have to suffer? Even if Rôg had come earlier Galhardir doubted there would be much hope for the elf.

It seemed, by looking at the body, that it had been the icy water had been the only reason of her death even though she hadn’t stayed in it for too long. Sighing, feeling tears in his eyes he gazed towards the ship. There was still battle, and shrieking voices. His thought turned yet again to Crandû who had also lost his life earlier while they had been searching for the Palantiri. All this sorrow caused by two stones. It seemed meaningless.

Rodhal, his poor nephew had witnessed all of these things. What a great sorrow for such a small boy. Such scenes should be hidden from his pure heart, and he shouldn’t have to think about it. Now it had become a reality that Rodhal, still young in age, would have to live with for the rest of his life.

Looking at the body once again, he felt empty. He was interrupted by someone calling his name; It was little Rodhal. Hadn't Rôg told him to stay under deck so that he would be safe? Moving the body he fetched his oars and steered the longboat towards the ship again.

**

Two strong Lossoth were ready to take the boat in and it went smoothly, looking away from that there was still a battle going on. Galhardir didn't know what he should do about the body, so he decided; since it had been the sea that had caused her death; he felt that it should indeed be the sea she should belong too - forever.

"No, Uncle," Rodhal whispered.

His eyes were red and he was crying. "What my dear boy?" Galhardir then asked, looking gravely at his nephew. "Lets' take her under deck, we can't let the fair eleven maiden go...." he said. He whimpered. It seemed that the boy didnd’t even try to hide his feelings, he was just crying continually.

Galhardir nodded; “Rodhal, I'll take her under deck if you go there now and stay there. It is not safe for you here. Hurry, and I shall come in a minute." Galhardir held his nephew tight, not wanting to let him go right away as he knew that it could have been him in Andtuariel’s place. "Hurry now and I shall be there!” he said, making the boy run.
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Old 12-02-2004, 03:08 PM   #252
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Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
He had managed to hide from the Elf who gave him such a thorough pummelling, and was about to think himself lucky when another Elf saw Tarn crouching in the corner. ‘Come out, you craven worm!’ he shouted, brandishing a club. ‘Face your better, coward!’

Tarn laughed hard, despite the pain wracking his ribs as though they were about to crack again. He was working, and in no rush to step up to this insolent Elf. He finished what he was doing, watching the Elf out of the corner of his eye, yet confident he would not attempt to attack him in this shadowy corner. When he was done, he looked at the Elf with his slight build and club. How did he hope to brandish such a thing with any power? He really thought he was the better fighter? Tarn drew himself up to his full height, squared his shoulders and stared hard at the Elf. His laughter ceased abruptly and he became serious. His dark eyes turned to flint and glittered with real malice as he stepped from the shadows armed with nothing more than his knife.

“As you can see, I am far from being a worm,” said Tarn, moving closer to the Elf. “And I am no coward, either. As for you being better than me? Would you like to test me on that? I’m quite happy to oblige. Sir.” He bowed as dramatically as he could and gave the Elf a sarcastic grin.

Elwe was enraged, and stepped up to Tarn, swinging his club, just as Tarn had hoped he might. Tarn back stepped into the corner he had been working in, with a look of mock fear on his face. He feigned the gesture of offering another respectful bow as he looked down for a moment, to cover the fact that he was being very careful about where he put his feet. Elwe just saw an insolent Man who had decided to mock him. He did not see any trap.

The corner Tarn had been hiding and working in was under some steps, and tall supports held these up. The old rope, thin but tough, had been left under here, and Tarn had almost tripped over it when he first crept into the space. This was what gave him the idea of tying it to the supports. Blackened by tar, the rope was almost impossible to see in the near darkness.

Tarn stepped back over the rope, and bowing low again, as he prepared to jump aside and back into the open, he flung out his hand in a gesture of welcome. “And would Sir care to take a seat?”

As he said it, Elwe’s foot was caught on the rope and his body flew forwards, his head striking the hard wood of the stairs. He landed in a heap and did not move. Tarn crouched down to look at the Elf, his knife ready in his hand. Elwe still breathed, but his eyes were glazed and he would not be swinging the club again.

“Perhaps, sir, you would like the worm to get you a blanket?” said Tarn, standing up again, and leaving the Elf where he lay.

He laughed to himself as he slipped away, keeping close to the steps. Then he heard a familiar voice. Familiar, yet somehow strained. Tarn turned to face the Elf Annu and noticed the redness of his eyes and the beads of sweat on his brow.

Last edited by Lalwendë; 12-03-2004 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 12-02-2004, 03:10 PM   #253
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He no longer noticed the pain that flamed in his side; it had become such a constant companion. Still, it was an increasing effort to move. Lessons, though, learned long ago in training and years spent in the service of his Lord sustained him as he fought against the Corsairs and the Lossoth who had allied with them. Legs and arms moved in familiar patterns as he struck and cut and felled those who came against him . . .

---

The press of battle was slackening as the Elves pushed hard against the Southrons. Weariness returned as Annû paused, leaning heavily on his club, breath coming in ragged gasps. One hand strayed to his side, pushing on his wound. It was open again, oozing down to soak the waistband of his breeches. And without the distraction of the fight, the pain had begun to return. Dizzy, he shook his head trying to shake off the feeling.

No!

He heard Elwe’s silent cry. Annû looked round the deck, seeking where his friend had gone. He could see him a ways off where he stood against one of the Lossoth. Tarn, it was. The one who had knifed him. Pulling himself erect he moved toward where Elwë stood. His friend was unharmed as far as he could see, though waves of great pain radiated from him. Quickening his stride, Annû approached the two combatants.

Not so! Not so! It cannot be!

Elwë's words rang in Annû's mind as he saw his companion fall. But it was not for himself that Elwë cried out. She is gone . . . were his last thoughts, cut off as his head hit hard against the stairs. Elwë’s hard fall had not killed him, but Annû could already feel the Elf slipping away, his spirit following after Andtuariel . . .

---

‘Shadow’s pawn!’ Annû said quietly to the Lossoth, his voice filled with regret. ‘You have killed what is fair; pushed back the light with your darkness.’ With a sigh, he brought up his club, preparing to engage the Lossoth. ‘Second born,’ he murmured to himself, his gaze far away ‘tell me, where is the light my brother saw in you . . .’

Annû threw down his club. It clattered on the deck and rolled to one side. ‘Come, little brother,’ he said in a flat voice, his face slick with sweat, grey eyes fixed on Tarn’s face. Let us fight evenly.’ The Elf and man circled each other. Tarn was as sly as ever, his movements defensive as he watched Annû. The Elf lunged toward him several times, feinting, looking for a way to get within the man’s defenses. Tarn could see his opponent’s movements were slower than before, that he grimaced slightly as his torso twisted. The man smiled to himself. This will be easy, he thought. And just as well, he followed up, feeling the soreness in his own ribs.

For his part, Annû fought against two opponents . . . his own failing strength and the persistent foe who sapped it further. He did get in several cuts along the man’s forearms, but could push in no further. Tarn’s knife sliced against his flesh as well, leaving trails of fire. Nearly done in, he made one last desperate attempt, rushing forward. His feet lost the thread of command Annû intended for them. The Elf stumbled, barely regaining his balance.

Tarn grinned, slipping beneath the outreached knife with which the Elf had hoped to finish him. His eyes lit with a feral pleasure as they spied Annû’s club lying near. In a single move, he snatched it up, bringing it round against the Elf’s side with a hard Crack!. Annû fell hard, crumpling down to the ship's deck, his head hitting solidly against it.

The club fell from Tarn’s hands. He was gasping now as the quick movements for his blow had made his own cracked ribs protest loudly. Looking down, he saw the Elf sprawled on the deck, unmoving. With a groan of pain, the man picked up his own knife which had fallen from his hands and stumbled toward his opponent, intending to finish him off . . .

Last edited by Arry; 12-04-2004 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 12-03-2004, 04:44 PM   #254
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Tolkien

"Noooo!" Galhardir yelled.

He had been watching the whole scene between Tarn and Annû. He now realised that Annû was in great danger as he was crawling away from the enemy on deck. Tarn had found his knife and was now running towards Annû in full speed, ready to finish him. It became clear to Galhardir that the only chance Annû had of surviving was if someone would come to his rescue. The images went slowly in Galhardir's head, as if he wasn't able to understand what was happening around him. He watched carefully, before he let out another yell. It seemed like minutes passed, even hours....

Grabbing one of the oars, Galhardir ran towards Tarn. Tarn was now standing over Annû. With a hit in the skull Tarn fell, surprised that a Lossoth had hit him. Tarn cried out in pain, but he wasn't too preoccupied with Galhardir, as he'd probably decided that killing Annû was his first priority. Tarn got up immediately, and he didn’t even seem weakened by the oar that had hit him.

"Argh..." he growled towards Galhardir. Tarn’s eyes were full of hatred and anger; the flames that passed his eyes were terrifying.

Galhardir's legs weakened, he couldn't stand up. Then he noticed Annû; who was slowly getting to his feet just behind Tarn. Galhardir thought that he might keep Tarn occupied while Annû got to his feet, fully recovered and ready to fight. Feeling encouraged, he followed Tarn's movements carefully with the oar. Then suddenly, quite unexpectedly, Tarn did a quick movement, turning back to Annû, dragging the elf in front of him with the knife on the elf's throat.

"Annû!" Galhardir let out, seeing his friend in a most unpleasant and dangerous situation.

Thoughts roared around in Galhardir’s head; Was Annû going to die? Would Tarn cut his throat while Galhardir was watching? “Oh please, let this be a dream,” he sighed just so he, himself, could hear it. "Galhardir, friend," Annû whispered underneath Tarn's heavy arm which was resting on Annû’s shoulder.

"Quiet, or I'll cut your throat right now!" Tarn yelled.

"No!" Galhardir screamed, full of anger and frustration.

"Then, put your oar down, and keep quiet....both of you," Tarn said with a vicious and evil smile. "No, don't do what he says, Galhardir, don't do it," Annû encouraged full of courage and bravery, feeling the pressure of the knife getting closer to his blood veins in his throat. By this Galhardir felt confused.

What would the consequences be? Tarn was in the lead. He was decided as he was the one holding a hostage. Should Galhardir just do what he said, or should he listen to Annû? By holding his oar still, he could attack Tarn right now; hopefully he could hit him pretty hard and perhaps knock him out for a second or two so that Annû could get free. Then together they could finish Tarn. But what happened, if he attacked and Tarn was too quick for him and cut Annû’s throat before he had a chance to rescue him? Then, he could always do what Tarn had told him to do; drop the oar. But how could he then protect himself? For surely, if Tarn killed Annû now, he would go straight after Galhardir.

Having such a heavy debate with himself in this position didn't make it easy for Galhardir. He wanted to act on intuition, but he had already involved his feelings and his thoughts…..

“Let him go!” Galhardir then said sternly, not quite understanding his own words; he didn't realise right away that he was in no command, as it was in fact Tarn who was holding the hostage. Perhaps this, however, would buy Galhardir some more time to think. Tarn didn’t seem too pleased by being commanded by Galhardir and it looked as if he was holding his knife even closer to Annû’s throat. “You’re in no position to demand anything,” Tarn replied angrily. Annû gasped for breath. “Now, I’ll give you two seconds; drop your oar or the Elf dies,” Tarn said, and Galhardir knew he was telling him the truth; Tarn was ready to kill Annû.

Letting the oar slip his hands it fell to the deck with a low sound.

“Don’t…” Annû whispered, but it was too late.

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Old 12-05-2004, 12:39 AM   #255
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Marreth hides the Stone....

As the fighting raged all around him, Marreth spent most of his time zealously protecting the Stone. In his earlier plans, he had envisioned the Corsairs launching a surprise attack on the Elven ship, not the other way around. No matter, he would soundly defeat Luindal's war host and then seize their ship along with the massive Stone on board.

Marreth slashed furiously with his sword as the invaders attempted to penetrate the ring of Corsairs surrounding the smaller Palantir. Marreth wished that he could put his treasure someplace safe so that he would not have to focus all his strength protecting it, and his men would be free to fight elsewhere on the ship. He needed to find a secret hiding place for his treasure! Should his worst fears come true and the Elves capture the vessel, they would still not be able to seize the Stone, since they would have no idea where it was. He could simply slip down below and retrieve it and make a hasty exit of his own.

But where could he hide it? He needed to conceal it somewhere that the Elves would never think to search. It was too large to fit inside his seachest, and they would be sure to look in the cargo hold. The place would have to be secluded and dark, but not overly difficult for him to reach in the event that he needed to make a hasty escape.

Then it came to him. With a grin, he reflected, Of course, I should put the Stone in the garbage chute.The Elves will never expect such a powerful weapon to be lying in the middle of moldy potato peels and empty rum jugs. The trash chute was in the corner of the kitchen next to the oven. It was large enough to admit a man and led to a storage hold below the ship in which all the trash collected and which was emptied out into the sea every couple of days by several unlucky crew members.

Marreth told his men to break ranks from their circle and noted that they were now free to chase down intruders in every quarter of the ship. No one questioned his orders. Then he quietly swept the Palantiri under his arm and broke away from the others, alerting no one of his plans. In the heat of battle no one was going to notice him retreating for a minute below deck. Creeping past the sleeping quarters and the mess hall, he reached the kitchen. Marreth's mouth watered at the sight of the goose that he had asked the chef to prepare for the officers’ dinner. It lay half gutted on the food preparation table. But he did not have time to think of eating: he must make sure the Palantir was safe, out of the hands of the Elves or their even more vile Gondorian allies.

His keen eyes scanned the room to ensure that he was not being followed. He had the strangest feeling that a pair of eyes was on him but that was impossible, since there was no place in the kitchen large enough for a man to hide. He thought he heard some rats scuttling about, but that was the only sound other than the distant din of battle.

He pried open the large wooden chute, squeezed downward into the opening with some difficulty, and bumped down the chute, landing on top of the trash heap. The stench was overwhelming. Marreth pinched his nose and scowled as he buried the Stone deep in the pile between a large mound of moldy bread and the remains of last night's fish. Glad that such an unpleasant task was done, his mind more at ease concerning the security of the Palantir, he shimmied back up the chute to the kitchen with renewed confidence. He must not be too proud, however: there was still a battle to be won. Marreth emerged back on deck and renewed his assault against the enemy, twice as terrible as before.
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Old 12-05-2004, 02:31 AM   #256
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Palantir-Green

From his perch on the Corsair ship’s mast, Rôg, in his merlin form, had watched the battle rage on the deck below. The Elves had the advantage of their surprise attack and were holding their own against the Corsairs. He looked for an opportunity to help out, but the fighting was so fast and furious, he feared he would be more hindrance than help. He did note how a number of the Corsairs had arranged themselves in a defensive circle about the smaller palantir, fending off any attempts of the Elves or their allies to get at it.

Most interesting was Marreth’s reaction to the surprise attack. He was not as composed as usual; and, in fact, he seemed almost frantic. Rôg smiled to himself as he saw the reason why. Marreth was fearful that the stone would be taken! Cocking his head to one side, he watched as the captain slipped the smaller palantir beneath his arm and proceeded to go below deck. The skinchanger followed.

Rôg flattened himself into the shadows of the passageway, his beady eyes watching the retreating figure as it went skulking down the corridor. His whiskers twitched in anticipation, letting the Corsair put a fair distance between them. On silent feet, his nails making barely a whisper against the wood of the floor, Rôg ran along, his rat body racing quietly after the Corsair captain. Several times he stopped, drawing back into the pools of darkness that puddled in the ill lit passage. Past the sleeping quarters they went, the captain and his rodent pursuer. Past the mess hall, then, and into the kitchen.

The plump bodied rodent peeked his thin pointy nose around the entrance to the galley. There, in the corner by the stove, Marreth was kneeling down. To get a better look, Rôg ran to one of the kitchen stools, scrabbled up onto its seat then leapt to the table top. The captain, suspicious it seemed, halted his attempt to pry open some small door where he knelt and looked back over his shoulder. Rôg had seen him pause and had hidden himself in the nearly empty cavity of some poor goose which had been half gutted in preparation for a meal and then abandoned when the Elves had attacked. From the darkness of his little poultry cave, the rat could keep a well concealed eye on the actions of the captain.

There was a delicious smell that wafted up to where Rôg hid from the little passageway which the captain had opened up. Something delightful was down there . . . a whole lot of somethings of exquisite savoriness . . . or so it seemed to his rodent nose. He poked out his head, watching the captain hunker down and crawl into the dark opening. A short while passed, and he could hear Marreth scrabbling back toward the kitchen. Rôg eyed him as he crawled from the passageway and stood up. The knees of his breeches were soiled, and he looked as if his boots were wearing last night’s dinner. A smile a satisfaction was on the captain’s face as he swept by Rôg’s hiding place and out the door.

Rôg leapt from the table top to the floor and made for the garbage chute. In his haste, Marreth had left the door slightly ajar and Rôg squeezed into it and slid, helter skelter, down the sloping track. It was almost too much for his senses when he hit the pile of garbage itself. It was all he could do to keep himself from trying out the tasty buffet now spread before and beneath him. ‘Work to be done!’ he chided himself and went poking his nose about in the various sectors of the crew’s leavings. And there, wedged in nicely between a lovely mound of well aged bread and some fragrant bits of fish, he found his prize. Not far from it was a sodden flour sack the cook had discarded for being too filthy and ragged, he supposed. Rôg’s sharp teeth fetched it, and his little rat paws secured the sack about the stone. Then he went exploring for the hatchway that should open to the outside, where the men on garbage duty would shovel out the fermenting goo.

Holding his breath, Rôg changed back to a man for a few brief seconds, scooped up the sack with its prize tied securely inside, and made for the outward passage. His eyes were burning from the fumes and reek as he hit the icy water of the bay. Once more his seal shape grasped the sack and made for the Elven ship.

‘Hey!’ he shouted up to any one who could hear him when he reached the far side of The Spirit. ‘Let down one of the little boats; I’ve something for the captain!’

Last edited by piosenniel; 12-05-2004 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 12-05-2004, 09:05 AM   #257
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Tarn held his knife close to the Elf’s throat. He could feel a cold, clammy trickle of sweat running down the throat of his captive, and he tightened his grip as he felt his arm slipping. The filthy blade was close to the Elf’s skin, so close that he could cut that throat at any moment, should he choose to do so. But Galhardir stood before him with the oar, looking at him with murderous intent.

He didn’t want that thing to hit him again. The stitched wound on his ear had reopened and he could feel the blood trickling down the side of his neck; stars flashed before his eyes and he struggled to stay focussed.

“Let him go!” the younger man shouted at him. Tarn’s attention suddenly snapped back into place as he heard the words. Galhardir, shouting at him? Tarn remembered the days when he was a youth, desperate for a home and food, and he had been caught stealing by Galhardir’s father; he had never forgotten the boy, not much younger than him, running out with excitement to see his father punish the thief.

“You’re in no position to demand anything,” Tarn snapped, knowing that this time, he had the upper hand against Galhardir. Feeling the Elf wilting in his grip, Tarn issued an ultimatum. “Now, I’ll give you two seconds; drop your oar or the Elf dies.”

Galhardir dropped the oar, unable to do anything other than what Tarn told him. The Elf begged him not to, too late. Now Tarn was fully in control. He edged towards the oar and kicked it away. It fell with a clatter down into the hold where Galhardir could not reach it. With a glimmer in his eyes, Tarn nudged the Elf forwards; he moved meekly, held under his fear of the foul blade. The other man’s eyes grew wide in panic, as Tarn and his hostage came closer.

“I am no fool,” said Tarn, his voice strong and calm. “I know that if I so much as turn you will knock me down or jump on my back.” He felt the Elf trembling as though he was willing Galhardir to do just that. “You are the fool. If you hadn’t interfered then you would have been free. As it is, I’m afraid you will have to do as I say, or your friend here will die in a pool of his own blood”.

Thinking quickly, Tarn moved closer to Galhardir. It satisfied him to see the boy who had been so pleased to watch his punishment to now be shaking with fear and uncertainty. Tarn was filled with hatred for the man. He had all those things which Tarn had wanted, family and comfort, all the things which he had been forced to replace with greed and hatred. He wasn’t going to let this man prevent him from taking this Elf hostage. He had plans.

Tarn motioned to the hold. “You can get down there,” he said through clenched teeth. “You can get in there and you can stay there. You can sit in the dark, all alone like I used to do.”

Galhardir edged towards the hole in the deck, not taking his eyes off Tarn for a moment. If this was what he had to do to keep his friend alive, then he would do it, but he hoped there was some way he could get out of there; he couldn’t just leave Annu to Tarn’s whims. The hold was dark, and there were no steps leading up to the hatch. Galhardir crouched down, and lowered himself over the side, dropping out of sight.

Tarn immediately kicked the cover over the open hatch, and moving awkwardly to one side, he reached for a heavy barrel, and attempted to drag it over the deck towards him. He wanted to push the barrel over the hatch, to make sure Galhardir did not get out again. He had just remembered where he had kicked that oar. As he reached out with one arm, the other gripped even tighter about his captive’s neck, he heard a quiet yet anguished noise come from the Elf.

“The mist,” was what he said. Tarn stopped what he was doing, struck by these words. He looked about him for a moment, expecting to see a bank of sea fog rolling in, but he realised it was something only the Elf could see. His body grew limp, and Tarn realised with horror that he was about to die. Confused thoughts raced through Tarn’s mind. He ought to have felt pleased, but he did not. It was as though the grief of the Elf was dragging his own spirit along, as though where the Elf was now going, Tarn was going to come there too. He felt a sudden void open in the pit of his stomach, and tears started to prick his deep blue eyes. With horror, he pulled the knife away from the Elf’s throat, and dropped his ailing body to the deck.

Backing away as quickly as he could, his eyes wide with terror, Tarn clutched at his chest and sat down, gasping for air.

Last edited by Lalwendë; 12-08-2004 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:10 AM   #258
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Luindal:

The door to Luindal's cabin had been shut tight. Inside, three figures were huddled about a small table quietly talking: Rôg, Alakhseey, and the Captain himself. The Palantir that Rôg had extracted from the garbage now sat between them in the middle of the table.

Luindal absently traced a finger over the smooth surface of the globe and then withdrew it hastily when he realized what he was doing. Unlike the larger Stone, this one was clean and shiny, free of mud and all debris, with an oddly inviting aura about it. Luindal sighed and shook his head, glancing over at his friend who was again in human form.

Luindal and the crew had ignored Rôg's earlier plea for a boat. Instead, they had fished him out of the icy Bay in seal form, hoisting him onto the deck in a heavy net, since that had seemed the fastest way to accomplish what they wanted to do. The fact that Rôg was still emitting a strong stench from his escapade in the garbage may also have played a part in their decision to use the net. The first thing Rôg noticed once he stood on deck was how quiet everything was. Given the extreme noise and hubub of battle on the Corsair ship, things here almost seemed in slow motion. Luindal had stopped to thank Rôg for the Stone and then led his friend below deck, offering him a bar of soap, a wash basin and a change of clothes. Now, several minutes later, the Shapechanger sat next to the Captain and Alakhseey calmly discussing what was happening on the other ship.

Luindal had been vastly relieved to see his friend. The Elf had been restlessly pacing the deck for some time, eager to get involved in the fighting but feeling compelled to remain behind to guard the larger Stone. There had been too many earlier surprise attacks for him to assume that the Corsair captain would stay in one spot. There was always the possibility that Marreth would break off with a small band and make his way over, intent on retrieving the Stone of Amon Sul. Despite his impatience, Luindal had remained behind with a small hand-picked group, making sure that both Stone and ship stayed safe.

The conversation had been going on for some time when Luindal abruptly stood up and went over to retrieve his sword, slipping it back in its sheathe. "Let's go. We need to get back."

"We?," questioned Rôg. "I thought you needed to stay here?"

Luindal shook his head impatiently, "There's no need for me to be here. Alakhseey can be in charge of those guarding the ship. Anyways, Marreth's not going anywhere until he retrieves that smaller Stone. He certainly wouldn't leave his ship without it. And that means we know just where to find him."

"Rôg," Luindal continued, "I'll need your help to throw down a rope so I can shimmy up and get onto the vessel. And once we're there, I want you to take me straight to the garbage room. I intend to sit there and wait for our friend. I have a feeling he'll be coming back quite soon. He won't be able to resist. If Marreth was defeated and captured, the rest of his crew would not last long."

With that, Luindal strode out of the room to go back on deck, the other two trailing along behind him. The one thing the Elf was certain of was that it would not be very long before Marreth felt compelled to go down to the garbage chute to check on the safety of the Stone. He himself had felt an odd compulsion when he had touched the globe. That "odd compulsion" would be even more likely to affect a Corsair who would have no idea about the power of such ancient and wonderous artifacts.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 12-08-2004 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 12-07-2004, 12:46 PM   #259
Arry
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. . . missed . . . he murmured, the last breath trailing out softly from his lips.

The pain was gone. And the darkness that had pushed in from the corners of his eyes fled, dissipated like some mist at the sun’s rise.

There on the white sands, made whiter by the green countryside stretching far behind it, was the welcoming tower, the solemn song of a silver harp winding down from a high window. Behind, the curtain of golden rain closed again on the outer seas . . . some sad, imperfect dream, now sundered from him.

‘Come, little brother!’ Carandû’s hand reached out to him, his face wreathed in smiles. ‘I’ve missed you . . .’

Last edited by Arry; 12-08-2004 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 12-08-2004, 01:01 PM   #260
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Well, let’s hope the Corsair captain hasn’t already gone to check on the stone! thought Rôg. He’ll know it’s gone with one look into the garbage chute, since I left the door open where the hold is cleaned out. While the captain was giving some final instruction to the crew that remained on The Spirit, Rôg ran to find some suitable length of rope with which Luindal could climb up to the ship’s midden. On his way back to the small boat, he spied a thick glass float, the sort the crew used to float their nets when they were fishing. On impulse, he picked it up.

The small boat was lowered into the water from the Elven ship, out of sight of those on the Corsair vessel. With quick strong strokes, Rôg and Luindal made their way to the enemy ship, stopping just below the exit to the garbage chute. The Skinchanger looked up at the gaping hatchway; even a rat could not run up the side of the ship to it. He changed to a gull and grasping the end of the strong, slender rope flew up to the entryway and went in. It would be a tight fit, he thought, eyeing the width of the hole, but he was sure that with a little pulling on his part the skinny Elf could slide right in.

Once inside, he changed back to his man form, gagging at the reek, and secured the end of the rope to one of the posts that stood on either side of the opening. He looked down to where Luindal waited in the boat and motioned for him to come up. The captain had tied a rag about his nose and mouth, hoping to filter out some of the noxious smell he noted. Doubt it’ll work! he thought to himself, grasping Luindal’s arm and sliding him head first into the dark, malodorous space. In the space of a few minutes, Rôg had taken the glass float from Luindal and buried it where Marreth had placed the palantir. A hiding place had been found for the captain, where he had a good view of anyone coming down the chute to the garbage hold. Sword in hand, Luindal waited for the Corsair captain.

Rôg, for his part, took on his rat form and sat contentedly on a pile of fermenting peelings. ‘Tasty!’ he murmured appreciatively, taking up one to munch on as they waited.
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:50 AM   #261
Regin Hardhammer
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Marreth:

Returning to the main deck, Marreth had again found himself swept up in the fighting. On all sides, he could see signs of how hard the struggle had been. There were bodies of Elves, Lossoth, and Corsairs tossed about: he could not even fight without having to step over or push aside the corpses of intruders or those of his own crew. Many of the combattants from both sides continued to battle on despite their grievous wounds.

Marreth himself had a cut across his upper arm. He had ripped off a strip of cloth from his shirt and had one of his comrades bind it tightly about his forearm to try and staunch the bleeding. The makeshift bandage had slowed the flow of blood, but not before he had lost a considerable amount. His head felt as if it was swimming, but he fought hard to keep his wits and willed his body to fight on. Still, things did not seem to be turning out the way he had intended. Despite the large number of intruders the Corsairs had killed or wounded, the odds seemed to be tipping slowly in favor of the Elves, a fact that Marreth hated to admit.

Nor was the loss of blood the only reason the Corsair's mind kept wandering. Marreth found himself thinking about the precious Stone he had hidden in the garbage hold and wondering if it was still all right. He should stay and rally his men to a counterattack, yet he couldn't seem to get the image of the Palantir out of his head. Then the thought struck him. The Stone was an artifact of great power. He had read in the old scrolls that it could be used to communicate over long distances. But perhaps the thing had other hidden powers....perhaps even powers similar to those of the great Ring from the last war. Perhaps these were powers that the Elves kept to themselves so no one else would even suspect the hidden secret of the Stones. No wonder Luindal was so doggedly anxious to get it back! For all he knew, that dratted Elf leader had called upon the other Stone to launch a counterattack against his ship, and that was why they were losing.

Suddenly, the whole thing made perfect sense to Marreth. He must go down and have a look at the Palantir again. If it was a great and mysterious weapon, then he might be able to find a way to unleash its power. He would be able to sweep the intruders from the deck of his ship and turn his attack on the Spirit. Quickly he slipped away from the battle and retreated to the small ladder that led down into the hold, intent on getting back to the Stone as quickly as he could.

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Old 12-10-2004, 03:00 PM   #262
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Orofaniel's post - Galhardir and Rodhal

When Galhardir had been trapped by Tarn in the dark tiny room under deck, he was not able to get out because of the barrels on the outside. It smelled rotten, and the darkness digusted him. He wasn’t able to see his own hands when he reached out as he hitting the hatch, as hard as he could, trying to get out. It was all in vain. He hadn't been able to hear anything either, except for a heavy body hitting the floor. Thinking about Annû he had cursed Tarn. He hoped with all his heart that Annû somehow had escaped and managed to kill Tarn. But Galhardir knew his mind was playing him some awful tricks. Galhardir remained hopeful, but ignorant about the events on the outside. Hitting the hatch once more, hoping the barrels would roll away from it because of the pressure, Galhardir knew that it was impossible to get out. It was impossible if no one else would come to his rescue.

Once again his thoughts turned to Annû. He didn't dare to think what Tarn might have done to him. Galhardir shed some tears, yet he wouldn't give up.

***

Galhardir hadn't been able to count how much time had passed, but he heard someone on the outside removing the barrels. Galhardir could hardly wait to get out, as he had started to think that everyone had forgotten about him. He was also anxious to see Annû - hopefully the elf was still alive. It had been Rodhal, who had been removing the barrels, and opening the hatch. Galhardir cried of joy, holding the boy tight. Galhardir didn't realise that the boy was very upset as his face was swollen of all the tears the boy had shed. Then, Galhardir had known; It was Annû he had heard. It had been his body that had fallen to the deck. Knowing the truth, both Rodhal and Galhardir had been devastated. The two elven brothers had sacrificed their lives for the Stones; it deserved great respect and both of them should be honored in a way no one else had been before them.

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Old 12-10-2004, 03:38 PM   #263
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Nilak had hid in the shadows when Marreth proposed his plan to the Elves. He stayed in the shadows as the Elven ship came toward them. He was now still in the shadows as the battle began.

Nilak had no desire to rush forward to his death. He would stay hidden from sight and see what came to him. Let the Corsairs die for their cause, he thought. He no longer cared, the Stones had been found, it was time to collect his pay. He had not signed on with Sernir to die.

Elves swarmed the ship and sooner or later Nilak would have to fight again. For now he stood still. Unfortnately Sernir caught sight of him. "Coward!" The corsair hissed pulling Nilak from the shadows. "Come and fight!"

Sernir flung Nilak to the ground. "Hiding in the shadows when the captain needs as many men as possible?" Nilak was trying to get to his feet when Sernir gave him a good kick in the side. "Scum!"

Nilak staggered to his feet and glared at Sernir. He broke his glare and looked past the Corsair. He did not even warn him that the Elf was moving in for the kill. Sernir let out a yelp of pain and crumbled to the floor. Blood pooled around him. Nilak stared at the Elf for a moment before pulling out his dagger.

He let it fly, hitting the Elf in the chest. He fell beside Sernir. Nilak retrieved his dagger from the dying Elf. Before moving on he knelt beside Sernir. He still drew a few pained breath. "I would stay here and get you help, but as you said Marreth needs more men."
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Old 12-12-2004, 12:55 PM   #264
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Luindal carefully slunk out of view, well hidden by the grey shadows playing fitfully along the wall as he stooped down behind a bulky cauldron that was used to prepare soups and stews for the Corsair crew. He could hear the sounds coming from atop the garbage heap; Rôg had leapt on top of the mound and was munching contentedly through an assortment of peelings and cores.

Despite the grave situation, Luindal could not help but smile. Many would describe the Palantir as an object of untold magic and power, a strange and wondrous thing that had been crafted by Elves in the days of old. Luindal was well aware of the history and power of the Stone and the fact that its power could be abused. His men and many of the Lossoth allies had died trying to keep it out of the clutches of the Corsairs. He wished it could have been different.

Yet, if there was any true magic in the hold, its greatest expression lay not in the Stone crafted by Elven hands, but in the small rat who sat unnoticed, munching his dinner amidst the chaos of battle. Naturally quiet and scholarly, Rôg was reluctant even to fight. Yet, in the wrong hands, this Shapechanger could be used as one of the most lethal and far-reaching weapons that Luindal could ever imagine. The Elf shuddered slightly and shook his head, glad that Marreth was not aware of who the small rat was or what he could do.

Luindal's thoughts quickly turned to other things as there was a loud thud coming from the direction of the garbage chute and Marreth's lanky form suddenly appeared. Quickly, the Corsair raced over to the spot where he had left the Stone and began furiously digging, a gloating look of pleasure on his face. As his fingers touched the glass float, he smiled and began to lift his treasure into the air. But once he had gotten a closer look at it, he smashed the object to the floor and cursed, "Pock-livered Elves.....may they all rot on the bottom of the ocean! Someone has been meddling here. Luindal, come out. I smell your hand in this."

In an instant, Luindal slipped from the darkness and directly faced Marreth with sword in hand. "I have your Stone on my ship. There is no more reason for you to fight. We've gotten what we came for. Call your men off. I will rip your sails into pieces to ensure you stay put for a while, and we will depart in peace. There has been enough bloodshed to both our men."

Marreth turned to face Luindal with a snarl. All he had heard was Luindal's boast that the Elves now possessed both the Stones. Everything else flew by him unnoticed. Roaring his disapproval, Marreth moved in to attack.

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Old 12-13-2004, 12:29 AM   #265
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Sting

After Luindal’s offer, Marreth directly confronted the Elf. He sneered incredulously and quipped, “You lie, Elf. You plan to strip our sails and then slaughter every one of us while my ship lies immobile. Dirty vermin never keep their promises. I demand that you send a messenger and instruct your crew to hand over both the Palantiri, or I will slice your head in two.”

Marreth spit on Luindal’s right boot and gave him a sneer of utter loathing, as if a fire was burning a hole straight through his belly. Luindal returned Marreth’s challenge by lunging forward, wielding his two-sided broadsword with strength and agility. Marreth parried the blow with some difficulty, but scoffed at the Captain's attempt. “You Elf swine really ought to stick to bows,” he chuckled. Burning with hatred and desire for the Stones, Marreth lashed out with his rapier towards Luindal, his blow aimed directly at his foul heart. The Elf jumped nimbly out of the way and answered with a return thrust.

Back and forth they parried. Yet, as the fight continued, Marreth slowly gained the upper hand. Luindal had spent years learning how to read the magic of the forest and to build the tall-masted ships. Marreth, on the other hand, had given all his effort to learning how to raid and fight, and the difference was beginning to tell. The Corsair smiled as he realized that Luindal was not as experienced a swordsman as he himself was.

Gradually, Luindal's blows began to lose momentum; the Elf's grip on his sword slackened for a single instant. Marreth pounced on the opportunity and swiped a blow at Luindal’s body, nipping his upper arm with great force. As fast as a great eagle pouncing on his prey, Marreth sprung forward to the kill. His rapier flew to the Elf’s throat, tracing a cut across the side of his neck. Luindal dropped his broadsword and fell to his knees, grimacing in pain.

“Now,” growled Marreth triumphantly, standing over the fallen Elf. “Give me the Palantiri if you don’t want to be switching bodies anytime soon.”

In the background, Marreth could vaguely hear the sound of a single rat scuffling over the floor of the garbage hold....
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Old 12-13-2004, 02:41 AM   #266
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They always resorted to metal . . .

The rat’s bright, beady eyes took in the two combatants as they hacked away at each other with their blades. Like two cooks having at a haunch of roasted deer, they were slicing away at each other with some precision. At least one of them was . . . the bad one . . . the Southron . . . Luindal, for his part, was really more like a poor goat herder stumbling upon a wasps’ nest by ill chance. His blade moved back and forth, trying to swat away the sting of the sharp point and edge of Marreth’s blade.

Rôg scrambled closer, his little rat feet moving quickly over the stinking refuse. Luindal, he saw, had dropped his blade, and now the Corsair moved in for the kill. And it would be a kill, despite the Southron's words. With or without the receipt of the smaller palantir, Marreth would do in the Elf. And knowing Luindal, he would force the Corsair’s hand to a sooner course of murder with his refusal to give back the stone.

The hum grew quite loud as the rat leapt up, and changing, began to beat his small wings furiously. Darting through the air, a black and yellow insect made for the back of the Southron’s hand; the hand which held the sword. He stung it twice, sending a wave of fiery pain coursing through the man’s limb. The blade dropped as the Corsair batted wildly at the offending wasp. None hit the insect, save for the whooshes of air displaced by the manic pawing. Rôg’s next target was the side of Marreth’s face, near his left eye, and then quickly as he could, the upper tip of the fellow’s right ear. This left the Captain hitting at his head as he yelled wildly in several Southron dialects.

Plummeting down toward the floor of the garbage hold, Rôg resumed his human shape, grabbing, as he reached the slippery boards, at the handle of a discarded pot. It had a large crack in the thick, iron metal, and while no longer functional as a cooking utensil, it would serve his purpose well. He stood quickly and brought it in a quick, hard arc against the side of the Corsair’s head. Marreth dropped limply to the refuse strewn floor.

‘Up Elf! he rasped at the dazed Luindal, nudging the dropped broadsword toward the Elven captain. ‘I’ve downed him with my well aimed kettle; now take up your blade and make sure he doesn’t revive while I fetch some rope . . .'

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Old 12-14-2004, 02:23 AM   #267
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"Aye, aye, and thank you," Luindal responded with a sheepish grin. The Elf hastily regained his bearings and again leapt to his feet, all the while continuing to talk to Rôg but keeping his broadsword aimed squarely at Marreth's chest. "And remind me if I am ever foolish enough to try to make you angry. For someone who professes not to have skill with a weapon, you certainly pack a powerful wallop."

Within a few moments, a rope had been retrieved and Marreth trussed up like a fallen stag who was to be carted home as a prize from the hunt. The Corsair was taken from the ship and brought over to the Spirit in full sight of his own crew. He was to be imprisoned in the brig until he could be brought back to Cirdan for judgment. From that moment onward, the tide of battle quickly shifted. Once the Corsairs saw that their Captain had been captured, their will to resist was implacably weakened. The fact that both Jarlynn and Diera had earlier met their demise meant that the pirates had no other officers to step forward and lead them. The Elves quickly gained control of the helm and began securing the weapons of those who had been fighting.

Luindal was in a quandry what to do with those who remained alive. There were too many to take as prisoners on his own vessel. Nor did he have the heart to slaughter unarmed men, even those who had caused great mischief and brought about the deaths of his crew. Yet if he scuttled their ship, the pirates might head for the shore and wreck vengeance on the Snowmen who had allied with the Elves. And what was to be done with the Lossoth allies who had fought for the Corsairs, some willingly and others out of fear?

In the end it was decided to set the Lossoth adrift in small boats to go back to their homes. The Elders would be free to devise whatever punishment they chose. Alakhseey had whispered that it was not the normal way for Snowmen to fight Snowmen. It was likely they would be forced to turn over any booty. Their activities would be closely watched but they would probably be allowed to resume their normal lives.

Luindal had come to the reluctant conclusion that the Corsair ship could not be scuttled. The sails would be stripped down and the mast disabled. It would be some time before the necessary repairs could be made to allow the vessel to sail. But at least the prospect of having their own seaworthy ship should keep the men from wanton destruction; the weather was also on Luindal's side. It was almost winter, when the Bay would freeze over. If the Corsairs applied themselves day and night for the next week, they should be able to finish the needed repairs and slip out of the Bay, heading south. Any needless delay or military detours, and they would become victims of the relentless ice and snow.

"But what if they do make it out? What will they do after they head South?" one of the Elves had pressed. "They could wreck havoc on innocent folk."

"You could be right," Luindal acknowledged. "But , with Marreth out of the way, they won't have the skill or tactics to be very successful. And we're leaving them with only the most meager of weapons. I admit this whole setup doesn't make me comfortable. But slaughtering unarmed men is something I can't do. And neither the Lossoth or we have the means to imprison such a large group of men."

There was some muttering and complaints but Luindal had made up his mind and refused to listen to any further grumbles. "And the Palantiri ?" other Elves had asked.

"I've already been in contact with Cirdan, " Luindal confided. "And he with Elessar. The two Stones are to be delivered to the Havens and then brought to the West on one of the ships."

Once the Corsair ship had been disabled and set adrift, and the Lossoth dispatched in another direction, Luindal went about the sad task of having the crew say their goodbyes to many of the men who had been lost in the fighting. It was not an easy job for him or for his crew. Those returning to the Havens were far fewer in number than those who had sailed north just a short time before.

Perhaps, when I return to the Havens, Luindal mused, I will have some Elf skilled with verse sing of the bravery of Annu and Carrandu for never have I seen two brothers who shared so much with each other, a bond that has endured even after death. With that, Luindal went off on his own and began considering what his own part should be after they arrived at the Havens with the Stones. For should he continue to follow the path of the Stones returning to be with his own family, or tarry further in Middle-earth?

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Old 12-14-2004, 10:48 AM   #268
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Tarn’s chest was in greater pain than ever. The hurt was somehow deeper and sharper than the pain of his broken ribs, it swept over him in waves, and deep in the pit of his stomach was a hole that felt like it would never be filled. He saw stars in front of his eyes and his heart ached with bleak emptiness.

Sitting on a barrel, his hand clamped on his chest, he barely noticed that the battle was almost over, that the Corsairs had lost. He felt as though all the life within him had flown somewhere else; he had almost been taken down some shadowed path with the Elf as he died. He had seen something of the life which comes after death and his eyes were wide with the fear, filled with bitter tears. This life after death had not been one of light but one of darkness. The Elf had shown him where he was going to go. His mouth hung open and his gaze was fixed on the horizon, as though he expected to see something dark waiting out there on the wide ocean, waiting to take him away.

As the shouts began to die away, he finally started to breathe more easily and looked about him. There were lifeless bodies all about, and the victorious Elves looked to be heading for the ship. He almost did not care if he was captured and taken prisoner, but after the shock and the intensity of what he had felt, the fighting spirit rose in him again and he made his way to the edge of the deck. Slowly and carefully, he climbed over the rail and his weary, battered body dropped into the icy water. The sharp shock of the cold sea woke him from his reverie and he looked about frantically for something to hold on to as he swam back to shore. The swim would sap his energy, as it was far, and the water was so cold he could see ice in it.

As he felt about for anything he could use as a float, panic rising, he felt a breath on his face. He looked straight into the eyes of one of his seals. The creature, with its huge eyes, made a sound and rolled over. Tarn, cold as he was, knew the creature wanted to feel his touch, to be affectionate, and so he reached out his arm and put it about the seal’s neck. As soon as he did, the creature began to move, cutting through the water with speed and grace. Tarn did not let go; he knew the creature had come to rescue him. He knew animals better than people, and they knew him well.

When he finally lay on the rocky shore, staring up at the sky, Tarn reflected on how he had always been alone, even when he was surrounded by other people. Working with the Corsairs was the first time he had thrown in his lot with anyone; but he could see that it had all been for his own foolish pride, his need for power.

He thought of Galhardir with his family’s love, the Elven brothers with their deep bonds, and Regan and the comradeship he felt with his crewmates, and then he began to cry for the first time in his life. He had taken lives, he had broken the bonds of other people, taken their loved ones. He had cheated and he had stolen and he had exploited. And now at the last it was an animal that had saved him from the icy seas. He wept because there was something good left in him at the last. He had almost been lost and somehow he had found something to save his blackened heart and turn it around.

Tarn thought of Thynne and how he had wanted to use his labour, to exlpoit it to make himself even more powerful. The lad was the same as himself at that age; he was without a friendly hand to guide him, vulnerable, and he could see, twenty years down the line, another Tarn emerging. Shaking his head, he sat up. He would not allow this to happen. He would treat the boy as a younger brother; he would attempt to give him something resembling a family, something to guide him.

Tarn smiled, and as he did so, his pack of seals appeared, their heads breaking the water offshore. They cried to him, and then disappeared again under the waves, as a broad and heartfelt smile spread across his face. His dark eyes lit up with the light which had started to grow inside him, and he reached into his pocket and took out the filthy knife. Without hesitating for a moment he cast it into the sea, turned, and headed for home, filled with a new sense of hope and purpose.

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Old 12-14-2004, 11:52 AM   #269
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A missing key:

A small coracle with a thatched wicker frame covered in deer hide advanced steadily towards the sheltered cove. Once the boat touched ground, the two Lossoth set down their paddles, climbed onto the beach, and dragged the small vessel several feet higher where it would be safe from the tide. Only a close observer would have noticed that the stocky figures tugging at the boat, garbed in heavy parkas and thick woolen scarves, were both women of mature years, the brown braids gracing their heads shot through with iron grey.

Alakhseey, the taller of the two, turned to speak with Hilde, who had picked up her satchel and was beginning to walk away. The Elder’s voice was manifestly polite, a modulated tone that masked whatever real feelings were hidden underneath. “You are free to go. The Council has said that all may return to their families. Should you have acquired any booty while with the Corsairs, these things must be returned to the owners." Under her breath, she added, " At least things will be normal again, and that scoundrel Marreth is safely locked up and will soon get his due.”

Hilde nodded and shrugged her shoulders, as if to indicate she would comply with the measure but that it was of no concern to her. The only souvenir of her expedition was the small pouch of coins that Marreth had awarded her from his treasure store. These had been lost when the Elves had dragged her off to prison. Other than that, Hilde had only the few meager possessions she had brought along when she had first approached the Corsair captain. She would return to her household, visiting her sons and their wives, just as she had always done, and make her living by doing odd chores for the benefit of her neighbors. Outwardly, nothing whatsoever had changed.

Yet, there are things that change inside a person the world can not see that may be more consequential than outer appearances or wealth. Hilde grunted her consent to Alakhseey and parted with a swift shake of her hand, adjusting her pack on her back and trudging northward across the stony beach. She struggled to put down the smile that kept slipping over her face. When she had walked on for some time, she stopped and set down her pack, hugged her belly with her arms, and collapsed in a convulsion of mirth as she recalled the Elder’s final words: That scoundrel Marreth is safely locked up and will soon get his due.

Marreth might have been a scoundrel to the Elves, but he had been a grateful and hearty fellow, and a handsome eyeful to boot, who had rewarded her with an open hand and had not failed to come to her rescue. She had spent enough time as a housekeeper on the Spirit to know its every nook and corner. One day she had been given dozens of keys to the storage rooms to help prepare them for the new supplies. Attached to the same ring had been another key, so old and forgotten that no one had even noticed it. A little investigation had shown it to be the key to the brig. For once, she had done something right and had immediately presented her treasure to Marreth, just in case he found himself in a tight situation one day. He had thanked her and hung it on a chain around his neck.

Let all the stuffy Elders think they had defeated the dashing young pirate. Hilde knew that they were wrong, and that pleased her enormously.

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Old 12-14-2004, 01:04 PM   #270
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‘I’m going to stay here,’ Rôg said, leaning against the doorjamb. It had taken several washings, but he was now clean of all the smearings from the Corsair vessel’s garbage hold. Dressed in breeches and tunic lined with fur, he looked almost like one of the Lossoth with his dark eyes peeking out from the thick furred hood that surrounded his face. ‘Bear and I had not finished our explorations when the Southrons so rudely interrupted.' He cracked a wide grin at Luindal as he pushed back the hood. ‘Of course, I think I’ve seen enough of the bay itself, beneath and around and above it, to fill pages of my notebook.’ A few words of farewell, kept light as they could, passed between them; then the captain saw him to the deck, watching as he clambered down to the small boat held steady by Rôg’s companion. Both waved at Luindal, then Bear handed Rôg one of the paddles and they pushed off toward the shore.

‘Now wasn’t that something,’ Bear said, breaking the companionable silence of their rowing. ‘Sad it was, with all those bloody deaths, but still, we won out in the end didn’t we?’ He shook his head. ‘That was something. There’ll be tales told, you know,’ he confided with a chuckle. ‘And of course, the importance of my people’s part in it will gain in the telling.’ He turned round and eyed Rôg. ‘Best you get it wrote down right in your little books. Though,’ he grinned, ‘if you want to write how I single-handedly took down a fiercesome Corsair nearly three times my size with my bare hands and cunning, I’ll be glad to recall the details for you . . . seeing as how you weren’t there when it all happened.’ Both burst out in laughter, causing the little boat to rock wildly on the cold water.

‘Sad, though, all those Elves that died,’ Bear went on, turning back to the task of paddling. ‘Should’na happened, to my way of thinking. Some kinda beauty leaves with them when they go.’ He was quiet for a while. ‘I’ll think of them when the Great Lights bridge across the dark sky.’ He stopped his rowing. ‘Now pay attention,’ he said, in the voice Rôg had come to think of as his storytelling one. ‘Should be seeing them soon. I’ll tell you a little about the lights . . .

The ends of the land and sea are bounded by a great dark pit, over which a narrow, dangerous pathway leads to the spirit regions. The sky is a great dome of hard black ice arched over the earth. There is a hole in it through which the spirits pass to the true place beyond. Only the Raven and the spirits of those who have died a natural death or have been killed by the hand of another have been over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the Great Lights. It is said if you look closely enough at them you can be see the spirits feasting and playing kickball with a walrus skull.

The whistling, crackling noise you sometimes hear when they lights play is the voices of these spirits trying to talk with those people still left behind. They should always be answered in a whispering voice. When we are young we often dance beneath the lights, and drink a cup of juniper berry spirit in honor of those who dance above. The heavenly spirits are called selamiut, “sky-dwellers,” those who live in the sky.


‘Yes,’ he said, thumping his paddle against the rim of the boat for emphasis. ‘I’ll think of those Elves when I see the Great Lights dancing.’ He turned round once more to Rôg, who sat madly scribbling notes to be fleshed into story. ‘You getting this down there in your little book?’ Rôg nodded, scratching a few last sentences on the paper. Once done, he looked up, knowing he was expected to tell a story in return.

‘I heard this,’ he began, resting his paddle across his knees, ‘from one of the Fair Folk I met in the King’s city . . .’

I know a window in a western tower
that opens on celestial seas,
and there from wells of dark behind the stars
blows ever cold a keen unearthly breeze.
It is a white tower builded on the Twilit Isles,
and springing from their everlasting shade
it glimmers like a house of lonely pearl,
where lights forlorn take harbour ere they fade.

Its feet are washed by waves that never rest.
There silent boats go by into the West
all piled and twinkling in the dark
with orient fire in many a hoarded spark
that divers won
in waters of the rumoured Sun.
There sometimes throbs below a silver harp,
touching the heart with sudden music sharp;
or far beneath the mountains high and sheer
the voices of grey sailors echo clear
afloat among the shadows of the world
in oarless ships and with their canvas furled,
chanting a farewell and a solemn song:
for wide the sea is, and the journey long.

O happy mariners upon a journey far,
beyond the grey islands and past Gondobar,
to those great portals on the final shores
where far away constellate fountains leap,
and dashed against Night’s dragon-headed doors
in foam of stars fall sparkling in the deep!
While I, alone, look out behind the moon
from in my white and windy tower,
ye bide no moment and await no hour,
but go with solemn song and harper’s tune
through the dark shadows and the shadowy seas
to the last land of the Two Trees,
whose fruit and flower are moon and sun,
where light of earth is ended and begun.

Ye follow Eärendel without rest,
the shining mariner, beyond the West,
who passed the mouth of night and launched his bark
upon the outer seas of everlasting dark.
Here only comes at whiles a wind to blow
returning darkly down the way ye go,
with perfume laden of unearthly trees.
Here only long enough afar through window-pane
I glimpse the flicker of the golden rain
that falls for ever on the outer seas.


Bear was nodding his head in approval as the poem ended. ‘Good words,’ he said, running the phrase ‘Night’s dragon-headed doors’ round several times. ‘Good pictures of they way things are. And don’t it beat all, but those Elves have some right understanding of how it’s all put together . . . the darkness, and the light, and the water all . . .’

There followed a discussion between the two companions about certain references in their separate tales; with Rôg wanting to know more about this Raven fellow, and Bear wondering about the trees and what had they to do with the sun and moon. Soon, the place along the shoreline they had been heading toward was reached. The two lone figures tied ropes to their little hide covered vessel and pulled it along the ice and snow after them like a sledge. They would make camp later, as darkness settled in - huddling beneath their snow covered tent, sipping hot tea and trading further stories until sleep took them and the new day beckoned beyond.


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

poem: The Happy Mariners; The Book of Lost Tales 2; J.R.R. Tolkien

Last edited by piosenniel; 12-14-2004 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 12-15-2004, 05:21 AM   #271
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White-Hand Galhardir & Rodhal

"Rôg, you're staying, I hear," Galhardir said enthusiastically.

"Aye, that's right. We have some more explorations to do," he said, nodding to Bear.

"I see," Galhardir muttered, smiling. "The Bay is a wonderful place, as long as there only are honest Lossoth around," Galhardir then said, thinking back at the Corsairs as the intruders they had been in the beginning. "Indeed," Rôg agreed. "I don't think, however, the Corsairs will return to the Bay any time soon," Rodhal said suddenly. "Hopefully not," Galhardir then said, smiling at his nephew, but he couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious. What if they returned? No, they wouldn't. Not after this. With this Galhardir settled at least.

"Luindal; thank you for everything. We, Rodhal and I, know you'll give Annû and Carandû the most beautiful song they so truly deserve. Hopefully it will be sung for years and years by the finest voices at the Heavens," Galhardir said dreamingly. Smiling weakly, Luindal offered a handshake. Galhardir took it. Then Rodhal offered his tiny hand to the elf. Luindal gave a short laugh, taking the hand in his, praising the boy; "You are indeed a fine boy, Rodhal. Remember that. We shall meet again, perhaps. I certainly shall look forward to it," Luindal said. "Thank you, sir. I will remember that. And perhaps you could come visit us," he said, smiling. The boy looked at his uncle. Galhardir could never have been more proud.

After this adventure, Galhardir and his nephew were returning home. Both of them were happy to say so. Galhardir knew there had been too much of an adventure for his own sake. Rodhal was of the same opinion. The boy was still upset over the death of the elves and the others that died for the cause, and Galhardir knew that it wouldn't be easy for the boy to get over it right away. To be honest, Galhardir would never forget it. The memories, the good and the bad ones, from the ship and the hunt for the Palantiri would live with him forever.

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Old 12-15-2004, 05:37 PM   #272
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Sting Marreth Vows Revenge

Marreth slurped his fish soup with a grin plastered over his face. Night was falling fast and the Elven ship had made its way out of the Bay and into the open waters. The time had come to begin his escape. Those Elves were foolish if they thought that Marreth could be contained in their simple prison cell. He had escaped from far more dire situations: once, he had slipped away right under the noses of a crowd of Gondorian soldiers. After he got off this wretched ship, he vowed to hunt down that traitorous scum Castamir and slice off his head. If it weren’t for Castamir and his agent Jynne, both Diera and Jarlyn would still be alive. Marreth vowed never to work in the service of anyone else again. From now on Captain Marreth would venture under his own flag and for his own benefit.

Finishing his evening meal, Marreth fingered the key that dangled from a metal chain around his neck. He had been waiting patiently in his room for three days until the Elven guards had slipped into a simple routine, and no longer paid much attention to him. Marreth knew that the Elves generally posted only one guard at the very end of the hallway. This guard brought Marreth his meals twice a day. Breakfast normally consisted of an apple or orange, a slice of stale bread, and a hunk of old cheese. Dinner was often some sort of fish soup or baked fish with a piece of bread just as stale as the one he got for breakfast. Marreth could not help but wonder with longing what scrumptious meals the officers ate......probably roast beef with buttered beans, or ham glazed with honey and steamed carrots. The only drink he ever got was a cup of tepid water. Marreth could have killed for a mug of ale, and if his guard had ever been carrying one when he delivered Marreth’s meals he probably would have.

Carefully he removed the key from around his neck, keeping his bowl in the other hand, and then unlocked the door to his cell. As he slowly turned the key, Marreth heard a soft click and pushed the door slightly ajar. He peaked his head outside and glanced down the corridor. At the end of the hallway he saw a solitary Elf, eyes closed and in deep concentration.

Marreth had once read in the scrolls at the library in Umbar about the Elvish power of communicating by thought over long distances. He wondered if this was what the guard was doing now. Perhaps he was talking to his family about the successful voyage and his speedy return home. Well, he would give him something to remember!

Marreth slunk towards the preoccupied Elf and swung the large stone bowl at his skull with all of his strength. The Elf’s expression turned to one of complete surprise as he fell over unconscious. Marreth made a mental note to reward Hilde handsomely for supplying him with the key if he ever saw her again. That was twice she had saved him. “Just in case you ever find youself locked in a cell somewhere on that awful ship,” she had said with motherly concern in her voice. Of course he had never believed that he would use it, but evidently fate had dictated otherwise. Quickly Marreth swiped the guard’s two-handed broadsword from its scabbard, eager to avoid anyone else who might be passing by.

Then Marreth snuck up on deck. It was empty except for a lone sentry on the far side of the ship; the remainder of the crew must be resting in their quarters. Marreth reached the railing and cautiously lowered one of the lifeboats into the water. Then with a nimble leap, he hurdled over the side and landed in the smaller vessel before the guard even realized what was happening.

Marreth had decided not to return to his ship back in the Bay. For one thing, all of his most trusted officers were dead and he could not trust anyone else from the crew. He wondered if Castamir had any other agents still on board. For another thing, the Lossoth might attack him as soon as he got back, and it was not worth starting a battle. No, the ship and crew held nothing for him now. As Marreth started to row, many uncertainties still plagued his mind: when e would get another ship, how he would make it back to Harad, and just where he would find his next meal. But amid the confusion, one thing remained clear. Marreth would find out where Castamir was and extract bloody vengeance upon his head: vengeance for the Palantiri, vengeance for his fallen officers, but most of all, vengeance for his own betrayal.

Last edited by Regin Hardhammer; 12-15-2004 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 12-15-2004, 06:32 PM   #273
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Lord Castamir counted the days since Marreth left. If all went well then he ought to be back soon....or at least have a letter apprehending how the search for the Stones went.

Castamir licked his lips greedily. How he wanted those Stones. They could show him whatever he wanted. It was a power in his hand, a power that would make even kings bow before him. He grinned as fantasies of monarchs pleading for visions of their enemies flitted through his mind. And how rich he could become! The Stones would be a better guard than the men who served him now. It would show him plots whispered in the darkness, devious thoughts hidden under the mantle of fair words.

He sighed contentedly...Marreth would be successful.

A page crept in quietly, a rolled manuscript in his hand. "My lord," he said tremulously, "here is a letter for you from Marreth."

Castamir plucked the letter from the page's hand and gestured him away. Glancing at the parchment, he frowned. The writing was an unseemly scrawl, as if it were written in haste. Marreth's hand was usually long and flowing...

Castamir broke the seal and began to read the letter:

My lord Castamir --

It is my lot to bring you grievous news. It appears that we had a traitor in our midst -- Jynne. He murdered both Jarlyn and Diera...Marreth and Jynne met in battle and our captain killed him...


Castamir frowned. Jynne had been a good choice to carry ou this plans -- pity he let his murdering nature get in the way. On second thought, maybe it was better that Jynne had been slain. It would have been ill if Jynne turned against him..

We gained one Stone and the elves another. In the battle that commenced, however, the elves reclaimed the Stones and will take them into the West.

Castamir frowned and read hungrily on. Hopefully the Corsair who had written this would go on and tell how the captain bravely led them forth in battle and rewon the Stones...

We would have continued to fighty, my lord, but we were as a wounded dog who must slink away to nurse our wounds or die. And Marreth had been captured too....but he escaped and disappeared. We do not know where he is.

Castamir crumpled the letter in his fist, not deigning to read more, and cast it into the fire. His cheeks twitched...his body seethed with frustrated anger. The Corsairs should have died defending the Stones...if the elves outnumbered them then they should have taken the Stones stained with blood to their precious West.

Jynne dead, Marreth gone -- Castamir's cheeks paled. Why had Marreth abandoned the crew in such a fashion? He knew about Jynne. That could be the only explanation. Castamir knew that Marreth would never come back to the lord that had betrayed him. And Castamir could not help but feel a breath of chill tingle in his stomach.

Last edited by Imladris; 12-16-2004 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:40 AM   #274
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:49 PM   #275
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