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Old 11-08-2004, 02:54 PM   #561
alaklondewen
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Erebemlin

The ground was frozen, and Erebemlin watched over the young blacksmith, who was shivering under his blanket. The elves had taken turns at watching the camp during the night, and Erebemlin guarded Mellondu’s mind, giving him a dreamless sleep.

A few of the humans began to move about, but Erebemlin paid them no more attention than a momentary glance. He kept his eyes on the blacksmith. Amroth had yet to return, and the elf wondered if he could return. If the king remained silent, Erebemlin would have to decide what course to take next. How would they continue on this journey? Would they follow Tharonwe? The darker elf was not too far that Erebemlin could not sense him.

Taitheneb gently nudged Erebemlin from his thoughts and motioned toward the humans. Nethwador had his hand on Ædegard’s shoulder as some bond was being made, but the elder elf just nodded that he saw them but gave the younger no reaction.

Mellondu began to stir, and the elf placed his hand over his forehead.
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Old 11-08-2004, 07:08 PM   #562
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Mellondu

Opening his eyes, Mellondu did not move, but lay staring wide-eyed at Erebemlin. He could sense the elf's presence combing through his thoughts; but for several moments it was less an intrusion than the sense of being ignored. He waited, hearing his own heartbeat pound. He felt weaker than he could ever remember. Many heartbeats passed.

Finally Erebemlin seemed to turn, and greet Mellondu the sick boy. "You are awake."

Mellondu wanted the strength to answer, but could not find it. The elf waited, and then gently touched the edge of his thoughts.

My sister.

Erebemlin's eyes sparkled, and flicked away, and back. She lives; she is here with us. The other did not fare so well.

Other? What other? Bella? Argeleafa?

Gwyllion.

Mellondu did not respond at first, and then said only, I want to see her.

Mellondu is not your true name, Fingon. And your sister is Finduilas.

I must see her.

She is asleep. But Erebemlin knelt, and picked up the blacksmith as he had been a child. Mellondu hardly had the strength to hold his head up; but Erebemlin carried him quickly to his sister's side, and sat the blacksmith beside his sister, his mighty arms around the blacksmith's shoulders. Wake her not, Fingon.

Not far away, Ravion sat up, and watched uneasily. Nothing had been said aloud. He stared at the blacksmith, and made as if to rise, then sat back down. Mellonin paid him no heed, but gazed and gazed at his sister. She looks so peaceful.

Her face may decieve you.

What do you mean? Mellondu sensed Erebemlin departing his thoughts. Not long afterwards, he returned like a warm summer breeze.

Your sister's dreams are troubled.

Mellondu was displeased. By a tall goldenhaired elf-king? He will not aid her, that is certain. Nor will you.

Indeed I shall if I am free to. You wrong me, man-child.

Mellondu did not respond.

He became aware of another man nearby. Ravion knelt across from him, on Mellonin's other side, studying his face .
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Old 11-09-2004, 10:00 PM   #563
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Ravion

Ravion knelt by Mellonin, putting his cupped hand gently to her cheek, careful not to touch her cut. She slept quietly, peacefully. He hoped that it would revive her, that it would help heal her. She had much to heal from, apart from her physical injuries.

Thinking of that, he shrugged his shoulder, testing out his range of motion with the bulky bandage that he wrapped around his own slashed arm. He looked around the camp and lowered his arm. He had come off so much better than others, especially little Gwyllion.

Tears still stung his green eyes when he saw the child's body, wrapped though it now was. He would have traded himself in for Gwyllion, had he been given the choice. He was sure that Aeron would have done the same. Any of them would have. But it was the most innocent among them who had died.

He looked up, and saw Mellonin's brother across from him. He watched the boy's face carefully. He was so much like his sister in appearance; oddly so, for a boy. He was quite pretty, much like Mellonin was handsome. Mellondu looked up and met Ravion's gaze.

"Thank you," Ravion said. The words slipped off his tongue before he had time to think.

Mellondu tilted his head. "For what?"

"For the decision you made. To save Mellonin. I think it was the right one. We have suffered, but that is true of all decisions...there is suffering." He looked down at Mellonin. "And usually those who suffer are those who deserve it least." He sighed. "She will recover, I think. But it will not be an easy road for her. She is a survivor, but the wounds in her heart will take long to heal, and they will leave deep scars. I hope that she can move past them. It can be hard." He swallowed hard, shut his eyes tightly, then looked back up.

"She missed you dearly," he said.
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Old 11-10-2004, 09:42 PM   #564
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Tolkien

Aeron curled himself on the cold ground with his knees to his chin and his arms clamped around his legs. The air was so cold, but he didn't want to get a blanket. Who cared if it was cold? The seasons came, the seasons went....soon it would be warm again.

He heaved a sigh and watched with morbid satsifaction his foggy breath waft over the grass like dragon smoke.

Dragons...there was a ring with a silver dragon somewhere back in their hovel. Eyes of emerald...scales of ruby. It had been Gwyllion's favourite.

Gwyllion....he scrunched himself into a tighter ball.

Gwyllion was dead.

He curled tighter, and let the tears fall quietly.

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Old 11-11-2004, 08:55 PM   #565
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Silmaril Raefindan

Raefindan was lying on the cold ground. He shivered. And ached. He couldn't feel his hands. He forced himself up and blinking, looked around. Ah, yes. The sward of trees. It was a cold, gray morning. There was the Elf, standing not far off.

"I give you good morning, Roy Edwards. You are very ill of mind, I would have you know."

Raefindan shook his head and cleared his throat. "Good morning to you too, Tharonwe."

"Do not call me that. It is a name given by those who wish me ill. My true name is Maegeleb. Sharp Silver, in the Common Speech."

"Maegeleb, then. What do you mean, I'm ill of mind?"

"Everything in your mind is broken to pieces. Nothing is whole. On one hand you have all that which you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell; on the other, you have separated out all else. Yet your mind is sectioned off in unlike any Elf or Man I have ever met. Why is this so?"

"You're asking me? I've never looked inside my own head!"

"Ah, not true. You are constantly looking inside your own mind. 'Tis one of the strangest things about you."

Raefindan grimaced and closed his eyes tight. It was too early to be talking about such things. Of course, this Elf wouldn't see it that way; any and all times were good for talking to anything. "Doesn't anybody else look inside their own minds?"

"They think thoughts to themselves, but you think about youself thinking, and that is something I have not seen anyone else do."

Raefindan nodded. "It is a bane of the future, Maegeleb. We call it being stuck in our heads."

"Quite an apt expression, Roy Edwards. It is time we were up and moving. My enemies are aware of where we are and the direction we are taking. I would put greater distance between us and them. Here is something to break your fast."

Maegeleb handed him another swamp leaf packet, turned, and started southwards. Raefindan got up with difficulty, shaking his sleepy legs, and followed, munching on the Elven waybread. It gave him the strength of mind and body he needed, which brought back some thoughts that had been held at bay by weariness and the task of watching Maegeleb's steps the night before. Gwyllion had been stabbed in the chest, and blood had gushed from the wound. Mellonin and two other women had rescued Gwyllion from the merlocks, but Raefindan was sure that she was dead. He shook his head. He should not be here with this Maegeleb; he should be with Aeron! He hoped that someone there might make a point of easing the boy through his grief.

Elves, whatever your names are, please care for Aeron in his grief! Raefindan had no idea if any such mental message might work, or even if it could, whether those Elves were paying any attention to him. Maegeleb did look back, a wry expression on his face. Then he turned his face southward and did not look back or stop until the sun was high in the sky.
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Old 11-11-2004, 09:31 PM   #566
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Mellondu

She missed you dearly.

Mellondu looked up, and studied the ranger. How would he know? What did he know? How close, how much time had he spent with Mellonin?

He had touched her cheek. Was he looking for fever? Or had it been a caress?

"What did she say?"
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Old 11-12-2004, 08:41 AM   #567
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Erebemlin

Once Erebemlin saw the young blacksmith was up and moving well on his own, he rose and strode several yards away from the campfire. Closing his eyes, he opened his mind in search of Tharonwe and his captive. He could sense their movement south and wondered how far they would get before this camp would be ready to travel again.

Just as he stepped back to rejoin the other, a voice, a thought, touched his own. Elves, whatever your names are, please care for Aeron in his grief! Erebemlin stopped. This must be surely be the red-haired man. The elf tried to answer his plea. He is in good care. How fare you? Are you safe? But the thought was gone, and Erebemlin received no reply.

Turning, the elf slowly walked back to the fire, wondering at the thoughtful and selfless words of the man. He asked not for his own safety, the elf thought. What a noble man indeed.

Last edited by alaklondewen; 11-16-2004 at 07:19 AM. Reason: filling in save.
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Old 11-14-2004, 03:11 PM   #568
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard had begun to fear that Nethador would push him away or worse. He was grateful for Bella's aid, comforted by the press of her chilly hand on his shoulder, under his good hand. It came as a relief when Nethador placed his hand on top of his own. To his surprise, he found that Nethwador's hand was warm. His own were .... no .... his own was cold from the chill in the air. He raised his head and dared to look Nethwador in the eye, and saw that the boy's face worked with a mix of hope and fear and doubt. Ædegard smiled for him. A fleeting smile passed across the boy's lips, then the Nethador jerked his hand away, seeming to be still unsure of Ædegard. It would have to do for now. What had passed between them was more than he had dared to hope.

"Thank you, Bella," he said through a tight throat, and released her hand. She smiled for him, and he stood to go back to Leafa. He noticed Ravion kneeling over Mellondu. He was awake! Ædegard looked to Leafa with wide eyes, telling her with his glance how his heart rose. She smiled but remained where she was. Ædegard went to Ravion and Mellondu.

"What did she say?" Mellon was asking Ravion, staring at him with fevered eyes.

"Good morning, Mellon! How do you fare?"

Ravion's mouth had been open to reply, then he turned to Ædegard, looking at him almost with relief.

"Good morning, Ædegard," Mellon said. "I fear I am not well."

"You have been pushing yourself too hard, my friend. I am glad that you are yourself again."
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Old 11-14-2004, 07:00 PM   #569
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Mellondu looked up at Ædegard, and there was a twinkle in his eye. "What do you know of myself, friend? All you knew was one small glimpse, given you in a snow-keep. Helbs Deeb, as I recall."

Ædegard laughed, and then his smile faded. "It is well I played in the snow when I did; I doubt that I shall again."

Mellondu smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Has the road so matured you beyond all play?" He warmed to the jest. "Alas then for the bold and stalwart shieldmaidens, thus bereft of fearless leader and fair-faced lord. Will you leave them each with a coldly broken heart?"

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Old 11-14-2004, 07:50 PM   #570
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Ædegard left Bellyn and Nethwador, and as he walked away Bellyn turned to Nethwador with a smile on her face. His eyes still followed the back of Ædegard, and Bellyn put her hand on his shoulder.

"It is a good thing you did, Mellon," Bellyn murmured. She had gotten used to the idea of him not understanding her words, and had gotten even more used to speaking to Nethwador anyway. Bellyn almost felt like it did not matter that their language was not the same. "Thank you for being understanding."

Nethwador smiled goofily, making Bellyn laugh. Bellyn looked over her shoulder, seeing Ædegard speaking with an awakened Amroth. Nethwador will want to see him, said one part of Bellyn. The other told her to give Ædegard a minute alone with his friend, before the excitement of Nethwador.

"I had a dream last night, Mellon," Bellyn said to Nethwador with a sigh. "Stone and dust, rock and darkness...the woman was there again, calling out for her lover. I did not understand her sadness...much like you do not understand my words, I suppose."

Bellyn wondered why things seemed like they were over, though she knew they were not. They still had to find Nimrodel, find Amroth's love. They had left the man, the red-haired man, the one Bellyn had never met. I should have liked to meet him, though...Bellyn thought. He saved us. Why do we leave him? They did not leave us when the evil one had us captive.

"Mellon, your friend wakes," Bellyn said to Nethwador after a long pause, turning him on his feet to see where Amroth had woken.

"Bella!" Nethwador said, happily pointing to Amroth. He went speedily off to see him, and Bellyn watched with a weary smile on her face.

Things change too quickly, I fear, Bellyn thought sadly.

Last edited by Aylwen Dreamsong; 11-14-2004 at 07:51 PM. Reason: Siggy...AGAIN...UGH
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Old 11-14-2004, 07:57 PM   #571
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard smiled. "I am no lord, just a poor wainwright." He looked at the place where his left hand should be and began to raise it, but did not wish for Mellondu to pity him, and he lowered it again. He had been about to say that he would not even be a wainwright anymore, but a beggar. He did not want to add that to Mellondu's heavy Elven load.

"The hearts of the shieldmaidens must be broken at any road, for I am betrothed." He glanced to Leafa and Mellondu followed his eyes. Had Mellondu not known?

"Tell me, Mellondu, if it is not too much to think on-" he paused, hoping not to offend. "-when the Lord Amroth rises in you, do you sleep? Do you let him rise? Or does he hold you down?"
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Old 11-14-2004, 08:00 PM   #572
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Liornung's arms were folded; a self-satisfied smile was on his face, and he looked as though he was proud of some great task he had achieved. Leafa's eyes were wide and full of joy, and she could not refrain a small burst of a laugh when she saw the look on the fiddler's face. "Oh, Liornung, what causes you such satisfaction with yourself?" she said.

He remained silent for a time, absorbed in his thoughts, and then he shook himself with a laugh lower but longer than her own, and the laugh was full of amusement, but also of deep wonder. "Why is it that men form alliances in the midst of war?" he said, only partly addressing her. "In battle, when you would think that only hate and hardness would prevail, good-will arises."

"The foes press on from every side," said Leafa, "and the two men, caught in the circle formed about them, are slowly pushed towards each other, until they stand side by side and fight."

Liornung laughed again, louder this time, and Leafa was amazed at the youthfulness in his voice. Always before he would laugh like a full-grown man, but now he laughed like a boy who has not yet seen the pass of childhood, and she realized again that he was not as old and fatherly as sometimes he might seem. "What a verse it will make for the Ballad," he said. "Ædegard and Nethwador begin to show some signs of friendliness towards each other. Leafa, my dear, we may be pleased with ourselves."

"With ourselves? What have we done, Liornung?"

"Ah, my little one, it seems to you that it was all the doing of Ædegard and Nethwador. I will admit they took the most important step: one extended a hand of friendship, and the other took it. But when you think of how we encouraged them! We were friendly towards Nethwador and accepted him as part of our company, and so we showed him that we were his friends. And, by the same friendliness to Nethwador, we instilled an idea of friendship in Ædegard. I feel immensely proud."

"You may feel proud, Liornung," said Leafa, with a smile, "but I feel as though I have had no part in bringing about such good." And her eyes turned adoringly to Ædegard.

Liornung smiled. "Of course," he said, softly so she would not hear, "only he."
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Old 11-14-2004, 09:54 PM   #573
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Mellondu pondered Ædegard's questions, and felt Erebemlin listening eagerly.

Well should the elf seek the answer; Mellondu sought it himself.

He thought back to his early dreams, the wonder, the longing, the passion, the beauty. The romance.

In the city, Mellondu had seen Queen Arwen many times, and each time had been amazed, and deemed her matchless. Yet now in his dreams, a golden nightingale had nearly challenged the beauty of the queen. A voice like falling silver, white limbs, hair like the sun-- he had worshipped her, this nightingale, this golden reflection on the tossing sea of his dreams. He longed for nightfall that he might dream of her agan. And then he heard the voice.

I must find her. Aid me in my search; I must have your aid. Will you help me find her?

Find her? Find this angel, this nightingale, this dream of dreams? See her, listen to her voice-- perhaps even hear her sing? Amroth barely finished his question before Mellondu's eagerness answered him.

All else had been forgotten. Mellondu let himself be swept along by the king's passion, his memories, his hopes, his dreams. More and more, Mellondu made the king's quest his own. Finding her filled his thoughts, his dreams, became his every breath. Awestruck by the king he yielded to his every whim, beside himself with wonder and half sick with the sad, longing, desperate emptiness of it all. He had come to accept the sickness as part of the quest. Was it lovesickness? He did not ask. The king was sick too, between longing, and obsession, and dissatisfaction with all else that was not Nimrodel. Together Mellondu and Amroth poured themselves out in the search for Nimrodel.

Then Tharonwe had threatened his sister. He had felt Tharonwe tearing at Amroth, felt Amroth's rage at Tharonwe, and Mellonin had been a playing-peice in the balance; nothing more. All the beauty, hope and longing, the dreams, the trust, the hero-worship-- it all shattered when Amroth failed to fight for Mellonin, and the shattering reached to his very soul. Despair hammered at him, bitter with betrayal.

Mellondu shuddered.

Ædegard still waited for his answer.

Mellondu said, "I loved what he loved. And I loved him, as a friend, as a lord, almost as a brother. I trusted him. I wanted to find her more than anything. "

Ædegard glanced at Erebemlin, who waited, watching.

Mellondu dropped his gaze, and studied his sister. "It all seems so empty now, " he murmured. "She's hurt. She doesn't belong out here, in a swamp, with vermin and predators and swords and arrows and darts. She does laundry, for pity's sake."

"Peace, Fingon, " said Erebemlin. "Do not grieve what you cannot change. And do not regret your love of the king."

"I do regret it, " Mellondu replied bitterly. "I was a fool."

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Old 11-18-2004, 11:39 PM   #574
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Nethwador stood off to one side, watching, listening, waiting. Everyone looked so worried and upset. Mellondu was back again, so that meant Amroth was hidden. He will be back. They worry too much.

Taitheneb turned with a half-bemused glance, and his face softened into the barest hint of a smile.

Nethwador was tempted to laugh out loud. Nothing could darken this day. Bella had smiled at him, had spoken to him, had touched his arm. Yesterday, she had laid her head on his shoulder. Life was good.

He turned. She was watching him. He smiled at her, turned away, but then glanced back again.

Mellondu could wait; they were being far too gloomy for a glad morning such as this. I will see to Bella.

Taitheneb held back a chuckle, and nodded. The lad's joy was easily caught, and Taitheneb was glad of it. When Bella has time, perhaps she could sing.
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Old 11-20-2004, 10:47 AM   #575
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Tolkien From out of the mists...

The morning mist lay thick about the swamp. Thus, the party heard feet approaching from deeper in the swamp but could not descry to what or whom the feet belonged. Jorje stood on all fours and sniffed the air, then padded quickly toward the sound of approaching feet, stopping just at the edge of their camp. Erundil rose, facing the sound, his hand moving swiftly to his belt knife. Erebemlin and Taitheneb stood also.

"Who goes there?" Erundil called.

Through the mists came a bent figure, wrapped in a cloak that seemed either dark green or brown depending how they looked at it. In the claw-like left hand was a staff that rose a foot taller than the hooded figure; it was being used like a cane. The figure stopped just beyond the rough border of the camp. Leafa huddled in closely to Liornung, fear in her eyes. Her thought was shared by most if not all: is this a merlock, or their leader?

Jorje came up to the figure, which reached its wrinkled right hand down to his nose. Cautiously, his tail down, he sniffed; then his mouth came open in a grin, his tongue loosened, and his tail wagged happily.

"What be you a-doing out here in the cold, unfriendly moors," came an old, quavery voice, "far from tidy home and warm hearth?"

"Name yourself and show yourself," Erundil said, still cautious despite Jorje's obvious welcome.

The figure chuckled and through back its hood. An old woman grinned at them, her hair long and white, her cheeks red as apples, her eyes glinting with mirth, sometimes seeming blue, sometimes hazel, sometimes green.

"I am called Marigold. You are in my realm."

Erundil looked to the Elves and the others, confused, then turned to the old woman again. "We thought it was the realm of Tharonwe."

"That lonesome stripling of an Elf?" She chuckled again. "He has done little to harm my realm, so I have let him be."

"Are the merlocks yours?" Erundil asked.

She looked at Erundil and the others as one who pities those who do not know what they are speaking of. "Nay, they are not mine, nor I theirs."

Ravion spoke next. "There is a monster in the deeps out there. It almost killed some of us. If this is your realm, how can you let it live there?"

The old woman gave them the look of pity again. "Many creatures of Middle Earth are tainted; yet Middle Earth is still their home. Who are you or I to remove one from the other? But come! My cottage is not far from here. There are coals in the hearth, and four warm walls to keep out the cold and the mists, and there is good bread baked just this morning. I have been waiting for you, yet you have not come. Come now!"

With that the old woman passed through their small camp, and moved slowly down the path that led out of the swamp; Jorje pranced at her heels.

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Old 11-20-2004, 07:33 PM   #576
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Warm bread. Their spirits rose even in the mist.

"Well, " said Bella, "I hope she is as nice a grandmother as she seems."

"Naneth, " said Nethwador, readying Celegaer.

"Mother? She seemed older than that, don't you think?" Bella mused.

"Naneth, " said Nethwador again, a gentle light in his eye.

"The dreary wild oft hides the fair hind. Or gazelle, " said Taitheneb.

"Gazelle!" snorted Ravion. Erundil laughed.

Erebemlin said nothing, but helped Mellondu mount Echo. Liornung helped Aeron with Gwyllion's body; Taitheneb helped Ravion lift Mellonin onto his horse. They broke camp swiftly, and hurried after the cloaked woman.

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Old 11-20-2004, 09:21 PM   #577
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Erebemlin rode silently at the rear of the procession that followed this...woman? The elf knew not what words would describe her, and he wondered at his inability to sense her presence so near them in the swamp. How had he missed her? He tried to touch her thoughts, but her mind was closed to him.

The path they tread steadily became more solid, and suddenly the morning’s fog parted. Before them stood a small wooden cottage with a thatched roof. A warm glow illuminated a small window on the wall that faced them. Erebemlin could see the mantle of what surely was the fireplace and the source of the flickering light. As they got closer to the home, he noticed rich mosses and plants that covered the ground on either side of the path. At first they appeared chaotic in their pattern, but quickly, the elf realized they grew in an intricate design...waves that crossed and re-crossed, almost like braids, and forced the eyes forward in motion toward the cottage where they did not stop, but came up from the earth and enveloped the earthy home. Taitheneb had noticed the intriguing beauty and turned to catch the expression on Erebemlin’s face. The elder elf shook his head with uncertainty and shrugged his shoulders. He certainly looked forward to sitting with this strange woman, and learning more of her ‘realm’.

Following the path, she led them around the left side of the house. Here they found a small porch where dark green vines grew up and wrapped around every board, creating what felt like a canapy instead of a roof. The old woman opened the door and the light and warmth that filled the inside seeped onto the porch and touched the visitors. They could smell the warm bread.

"Do come in," she called from inside.
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Old 11-20-2004, 09:47 PM   #578
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Aeron glanced dully at the welcoming cottage, wishing with all his might that he was far far away. Life just was not worth living. It was pointless. What would he do if he want back to Gondor? Steal? Why? Learn a trade? He laughed outwardly at that. Who would take him -- a known thief.

He slumped into a chair and ignored the piece of bread that the woman held out. What was her name? He shrugged. It didn't matter, not in the long run at least. Nothing mattered in the long run. Everybody died, some sooner than they should.

Why had Gwyllion died? Had she been doomed to die? It wasn't fair that he couldn't have saved her no matter how hard he had tried. He wished that it had been him back there...

It should have been him...it should have. He had brought her there. He had brought her from Gondor. He had been the one who had killed her.

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Old 11-21-2004, 02:34 PM   #579
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Silmaril Ædegard

Ædegard did not know how it chanced, but he was first to enter the cottage of the old woman; except for the dog, Jorje. Ædegard held Leafa's hand in his good hand, and she followed him, staying close behind him. It was cozy and warm, and smelled of freshly baked bread. Ædegard felt the warmth enfold him like a soft blanket; the cold left his bones. He sighed and closed his eyes.

"Ædegard!" Leafa whispered urgently, nudging him. He turned to her; her eyes were big as sky blue saucers, and she pointed. Ædegard looked, and saw a woman standing before them. Her face was the same as that of the old woman's. Her daughter? Her hair flowed in yellow, brown, and even green waves over her shoulders, shining in the light of a hearty fire. Her dress had the sheen of willow leaves, green and gold, and as she moved it shimmered like the sun on windblown willows. She held a large wooden tray with bread, still steaming. The others hand entered and were all gaping at her, except for Aeron, whose eyes were downcast. He went to the nearest chair and sat down, and the woman handed him some bread; he did not see, but she looked upon him with pity.

"Are you the daughter of Marigold?" Ædegard asked.

The woman laughed but shook her head. "I am Marigold. I wander often as the old woman, but this is the form I wear most times. Come in, come in! Be at rest! Eat and be filled!" Then she became grave. "And bring in the youngest one. She should not rest outside."

"But she-" Ravion began.

Marigold shook her head. "Bring her in. She does not belong outside." She set the tray on the board and bid the rest of them to eat.

Ravion nodded and took Erundil with him, and between them they brought the body of Gwyllion in with them. She came to them and held out her arms to them. Bemused, they placed the body in her arms, and she carried it as if it weighed no more than a toddler. She took Gwyllion to a bed near the hearth and laid her out. She kissed the dead girl's forehead, and it seemed to Ædegard that Gwyllion was merely sleeping.

Marigold turned to them and said, "You have been wounded in body and heart, and need rest. Take rest here, all of you, and receive what healing you may." She began to sing, and the song reminded Ædegard of cozy nights at home with his family; or of soft afternoons sitting by a calm stream in the warmth of summer. He sighed and ate, sharing his bread with Leafa. To him, Leafa seemed a cousin of this woman, for her face glowed with quiet joy, and her eyes were alight. And he thought that maybe it did not matter that he had lost one hand. Maybe there would be a way to have Leafa to wife, and to thrive and have children, and to make a life after all. He smiled at Leafa, and she returned his smile, looking at him in a way that made him feel as if they belonged together.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-24-2004 at 01:42 PM. Reason: removal of the crone
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Old 11-21-2004, 11:35 PM   #580
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Ravion

Ravion sat on the floor by the fire, drawing his cloak around him despite the warmth of the cottage. He felt like he had an iron weight on his heart, and that would take more than a lovely shapeshifter to lift. While Marigold was an unexpected occurance, he did not feel uneasy around her. He trusted her, and did not worry for his safety or the safety of any of his companions. He wondered if he was not going just a bit insane.

He looked over at Aeron, who was huddled in a chair. His eyes were downcast, and alarmingly dull. Ravion did not suppose that Aeron was seeing anything around him: perhaps he was seeing Gwyllion. At that thought he glanced at Marigold, and wondered why she had wanted Gwyllion's body. He had seen no harm in it, but thought it odd. Perhaps, though, she could help them give Gwyllion a proper burial. Maybe that would lighten Aeron's heart some. A proper burial was a proper good-bye, and it would fulfill his duty as her brother.

But it would not bring her back, and it would not take away the sorrow.

Ravion stood slowly, feeling very old all of a sudden, and walked over to Aeron. Reaching the boy's chair, he sat again on the ground, and did not look at him. He kept his eyes on the ground. "You should eat something," he said quietly.

Aeron kept silent.

"You have been through much. Suffered much. Your body is as weak as your spirit feels now. If you do not eat, you will fall ill, and I do not fancy carrying you everywhere. You are no light load."

Ravion's attempt at levity was met with stony silence. The Ranger sighed heavily. "Aeron, I am sorry for your loss. I know that it does not help, but I am sorry. Deeply sorry. I mourn with you, and though I cannot comprehend your grief, in whatever small way I can I share it with you."
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Old 11-22-2004, 11:46 AM   #581
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Liornung sat, his heart beating more fierce than it had ever before, even more than when they had walked the Golden Woods of Lothlorien. Could it be that they had climbed from the midst of peril and woe into the homey cottage, to sit and it whilst this fair maid tended to them, so young and beautiful, yet so kind and compassionate, as if she were an elderly mother? Was this not a sweet dream to refresh him while he lay weary upon the battlefield? It could not be real.

"Will you not eat, Liornung?" Leafa spoke softly from where she sat with Ædegard.

He shook his head. "Nay, I could not eat at this time. Soon, perhaps."

"Then will you not sing us a song of these wonders? You did so aptly in the Golden Woods."

"That I cannot do, for words are lost to me. And this fair and motherly one has sang for us; I could not best her, and I tremble to lift up my feeble voice after her pure, sweet one."

"But you must say something, Liornung!" said Leafa, with a laugh. "You look as though you are dreaming, and I hardly recognize you. You seem too young now, when before you were always like a father to us."

"Let me be young then, little girl," said Liornung, likewise laughing. "You have no need of my care when fair Marigold is tending to you. I can cast aside my duties as 'father,' as you say, and be youthful. Would that Good Secgrof were here, to sit by this fire, and also fair Blostma, to dance to this song, her golden hair shining in the lights, and her gentle eyes beaming with joy and peace."

And, with a sigh, he fell to eating.
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Old 11-22-2004, 02:54 PM   #582
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The smell of bread wafted out to the elves' nostrils, and tempted them; Erebemlin helped Mellondu dismount from Echo, and together they turned to help Taitheneb with Mellonin. Weak as Mellondu was, he held Taitheneb's horse. There was little need, but the elves were glad of his willingness.

Taitheneb met Mellondu's eyes. "Should we not wake her? This is a fair place."

"It is odd that she has not woken already, " Mellondu said.

"Perhaps, " Erebemlin replied. "She knows that Gwyllion is dead, but in her dreams that death is woven into something else."

"She dreams! What does she dream of?" said Mellondu anxiously.

"Dark things, " said Taitheneb. "Come, Erebemlin, let us wake her."

Taitheneb laid his palm over her forehead, and closed his eyes. Erebemlin walked into her dreams, and searched; a dark fog hindered him. He called her name. Mellondu could hear him whispering. Strain showed on his face.

"Finduilas."

Mellondu waited. The elves strove through the mists, calling, but Mellonin did not wake.

Finally Erebemlin opened his eyes, and turning to Mellondu, said, "Come. I will lead you into the cottage."

"But Mellonin?"

"She will be well. Patience."

"I want to talk to her, " Mellondu replied.

"You will. Patience."

They entered the cottage, and Erebemlin helped Mellondu sit down at the table. Erundil passed the bread and Mellondu began to eat.

Erebemlin gestured to Ravion. "Come."

Mellondu watched as Ravion stood, face blank with surprise, and followed Erebemlin wordlessly out the door. Mellondu twisted, watching; but behind him, Marigold rose, and her dress rustled as she walked past and followed Ravion. She stood in the doorway. Her song changed. Deeper and richer she sang, like deepening shade under a great tree, like dark earth just turned by the plough; and the earth seemed to respond. Ravion's gaze went from Marigold to the elves to Mellonin-- Mellonin raised one hand to her eyes, and the cares faded from her face. She woke peacefully.

"Mother?"

Ravion reached for her. Erebemlin took her from Taitheneb, and stood her between him and Ravion. She looked to Ravion with a childlike wonder and said, "How did we come here? This is lovely. How long have I been dreaming? Was it all a bad dream?"

She turned to Marigold. "You sang with my mother's voice. Yet you are not my mother."

Marigold tipped her head a little. "Your mother would be glad of our meeting."

"Yes, she would." Mellonin reached for Marigold, who embraced her as naturally as any mother greets her child, and turned and led her into the cottage.

Ravion and the elves followed them in, and Ravion returned to Aeron's side. Aeron looked up, and watched as Ravion sat down again. Then Aeron's eyes returned to the floor. Ravion waited.

Last edited by mark12_30; 11-23-2004 at 07:52 AM. Reason: spwelling// bringing Ravion back inside for Aeron
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Old 11-22-2004, 08:10 PM   #583
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Tolkien

"You can't share griefs, Ranger," Aeron mumbled, his eyes glued to the floor. "Nobody can share them, because you didn't know her. Nobody knew her. Many would say that she was better off dead, which is probably true, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it," he rambled. "I want to say that this is all father's fault, for leaving us. If he hadn't left, I wouldn't have become a thief. If he hadn't left Gwyllion would have been happy. If father hadn't left we wouldn't be here right now because you wouldn't have caught me." Aeron stopped, a tear trembling on his eyelash.

Ravion said nothing.

"But no matter how hard I tell this to myself," Aeron continued in a tight voice, "I know that it is not the case. The wise men speak of Doom...I have heard of Doom. It is a dreadful thing that no one can escape. My father was doomed to leave, I was doomed to be a thief, it was my doom that I had to mess up and drag Gwyllion to her doom, but she could not escape death no matter how hard anybody tried because it was her doom to die..." his voice trailed off, and he buried his head on his knees and cried.
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Old 11-23-2004, 09:16 PM   #584
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Silmaril Ministrations

Marigold sat Mellonin by the fire, and still singing, opened a cupboard and pulled an earthen jar from it. She brought it with her and sat next to Mellonin. When she spoke, her words still carried an echo of her lilting tune, like slow moving, reed strewn waters.

"Let me see to the wound on your face, dear one, or else it will leave a scar." She dipped her hand into the jar. What came out in her hand was mud. So it seemed to Mellonin; her brow furrowed in worry. "This will cool the wound, and deaden the pain. Fear not." She raised her mud covered hand and waited. Mellonin nodded and held still. Marigold pressed the mud into her wound, from brow to lip.

"I - I - cannot feel my face!"

"Fear not! Sleep a dreamless sleep tonight, and in the morning we shall see. Lie back." She rose and brought bread to Mellonin. "Eat, my dear one. Rest and be at ease this night." Mellonin looked up at Marigold as if with a child's trusting eyes, and nodded, and ate.

Marigold was humming again, and went to Ravion and Aeron, whose head was buried in his knees, muffling deep sobs. She knelt before the boy and waited. Slowly his heaving shoulders subsided and he rose up a little, and saw her kneeling by him. He looked at her through half closed eyes, his face suddenly closed and distrustful.

She looked at him kindly and said, "Will you go with me to your sister?"

"What use? She is not there. She is dead."

Marigold took a golden flower from her hair. Aeron had not seen it there before, but it lay in her hands, as real and fragrant as if it had just been plucked. "I plucked this marigold today. It still holds a little of its life and much of its fragrance. It reminds me of the fields of marigolds that flourished in the marsh this past summer. Is it not beautiful?"

Aeron nodded dully. He had a notion of why she was talking about the flower this way, and what she might say next, and did not want to hear it; but deep down, he needed to hear her words, with a need he could not name. He waited for her to say more.

"Today your sister's life was plucked like this marigold. I have done what I could to keep her fragrance strong. Is she not beautiful?" Aeron looked, and nodded slowly. The tightness around his eyes loosened and the hardness in his face softened, ever so little. "Will you go to her with me?"
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Old 11-24-2004, 10:08 PM   #585
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Mellondu gaped in disbelief as Mellonin walked right past him, not seeing him, and followed the shapechanger to the hearth. He stirred, but Erebemlin warned him with a raised hand.

So Erebemlin called the ranger to Mellonin's side, but not Mellonin's own brother? Mellondu's patience ran out, and he drew breath for a sharp retort. His anger only grew when Erebemlin's voice sounded in his mind. Patience. Let the River-Daughter care for her.

Mellondu's eyes flamed, and his fists clenched. Who are you to part me from my sister? But as he half-stood, he swayed, and the room spun. He clutched at the table.

Young mortal fool. Persist and you will need healing next! Can you not let those whose need is greater receive theirs?

To his surprise, the tall elf's arms surrounded him, lifted him like a child, and carried him to the hearth. He looked down at Mellonin; her eyes were closed, and her face showed blissful peace. Erebemlin set Mellondu carefully down beside his sister.

Would you like to watch over her as she dreams? I do not think her dreams will be evil; not this time.

Taking another deep breath, Mellondu hesitated, and then grudgingly thanked the elf. You annoy me. But I think you mean well.

Erebemlin did not answer, but only turned to watch Aeron and the River Daughter speaking.

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Old 11-24-2004, 10:11 PM   #586
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Tolkien

Aeron glanced at Gwyllion...her face was pale....lined with the fair lines of death. She was beautiful, as Marigold had said. Beautiful with Death's beauty...

Marigold leaned over the body, and tucked the flower into her hair. He would find her with a wreath of flowers in her hair, nestled in a grassy dell... the dream echoed in his mind as he stared at the golden flower.

Aeron gasped a little and plucked the flower from her hair. "Yes, but like this Marigold," he said dully, twirling the stem between his fingers, "she is still dead. And there is nothing that you can do about that. No matter how beautiful she is, I would rather her alive. I would trade this beauty if only she would become alive again."
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Old 11-24-2004, 10:30 PM   #587
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Silmaril Marigold

Marigold looked at Aeron sadly, and passed a hand through his wild hair.

"I know that you would die in her place. It is well that you love her so. Love her still! And cherish her memory!"

She is not far.

Marigold could feel the light touch of the boy's sister on the cold marshy breeze; it had been that which led her to them. Some purpose lay in that. These were words she could not say, so she spoke not of it. This boy would have to learn its meaning as he could. Dreams lay thick as a many layered weaving around these folk, dreams she could almost see and hear; but they were not hers, and once they left her, those dreams would depart with them. She would do what she could for them.

"I have a boon to ask of you, Aeron." She used his name, having heard it from the young Ranger. He looked up into her eyes. "Though her ghost has left the body, her life was sweet and good, and full of love, not least for you, and I would be grateful if her body's presence could bless my home. And you could stay here for as long as you like, and if you choose to go, you could return as often, as for as long as you wish. Would you permit your sister to be buried here?"
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:13 AM   #588
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Erebemlin

Near the fire, Erebemlin stood tall and silent. His eyes studied the River Daughter as she ruffled Aeron’s hair. She was quite beautiful, and unlike any creature the elf had seen before. Within her small form she contained a great power, yet she was soft and caring. Tilting his head slightly, he watched the flickering light reflecting in the many shades of her long hair. The elf slowly exhaled the breath he had not realized he had been holding, and Marigold turn momentarily and met his gaze. She smiled warmly before turning back to Aeron. Heat quickly rose into Erebemlin’s cheeks. His hand covered his mouth as he cleared his throat awkwardly and swiftly sat at the table beside Taitheneb.

Taitheneb grinned at the elder elf, delighted to be in this beautiful place and finding his embarrassment slightly amusing. The younger elf sliced a piece of warm bread, placed it on a small saucer, and then slid it over the table to Erebemlin, who nodded in gratitude and began to eat, keeping his eyes lowered and away from the River Daughter.

Erebemlin internally kicked at himself for becoming so easily embarrassed. He had lived too long and fought in too many battles to let himself become flushed in anyone’s presence. Stealing a quick glance at Marigold, he stood suddenly. “I’m going to step out for air,” he told Taitheneb without looking at him. Taitheneb just smiled to himself and watched Silmaethor stride out to the porch.
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Old 11-30-2004, 08:32 AM   #589
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Nethwador had shared his bread with Bella, but still eaten all he could hold. He smiled at Bella, and then gazed fondly at Marigold, and thought about the sudden turn of events.

Amroth had been kind to him, and a lord and master. And Bella-- well, he could talk all day about that. But Marigold-- she made him comfortable. Peaceful. On the edge of a wild swamp he felt safe. After being hungry and cold, he was warm and fed. After wandering, he was secure.

They had only just arrived, and yet, he almost felt that he never wanted to leave.

Would Bella stay here with him? Could they live together with Marigold, safe and secure and warm and happy? The Merlocks were nearby, but Marigold knew about them. Tharonwe was nearby too, but Marigold did not fear him. Was there a safer place in the world? Certainly there was no safer place in all the swamp.

How to care for his horse here? And Bella's horse? Would they be happy? There were fields to the south; he knew, from pictures in the minds of his friends. Perhaps the horses could roam there during the day. He wondered how far the fields were.

His full stomach made him sleepy. He wanted to go to the fire, and lie down. But he wanted to stay with Bella. And he wanted to talk to Marigold, to sit near her, too. All of them together by the fire would be nice. But Mellondu's sister and her dead friend were by the fire. And there was the boy, sulking. THe boy was sad about Mellondu's sister's friend.

Taking a deep breath, he took a meal-sized chunk of bread, got up, walked to the sulking boy, and pushed the bread into his hands. The boy glared at him, and then at the bread. Nethwador walked toward an empty corner of the hearth; he could sit with his back against the warm stones of the chimney. Perhaps Bella would come sit with him. He stood by the fireplace, and turned to her, and spoke. "Bella?"

She looked sleepy too. She stood, and drawing her cloak about herself despite the warmth, she came to the chimney. He sat down with his back to the stones. She sat nearby, not too close for modesty but not too far for friendship. Nethwador was content.

A green shadow rustled hearby, and they looked up. Marigold gave them each a cup. Inside was a dark, thick drink. They looked up at her, wondering.

Her eyes twinkled. "Blueberry. You'll both have purple teeth, but pay that no heed. Drink, and rest."

They leaned back against the chimney again. They sipped at the cups, and smiled at each other; it was true. They drank and giggled their way to the bottom of the cups, and then with Marigold nearby, leaned back against the warm stones, and drifted into a sweet, dreamless sleep.
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Old 11-30-2004, 07:40 PM   #590
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Tolkien

Raefindan

Raefindan dreamed again.

He stood again at the edge of the vale of Nimrodel and Mithrellas. The dark haired one's head came up; she seemed sorrowful. She recognized him.

"Imrazor!"

"Why do you call me that?"

"That is your name."

He shook his head, but let the matter stand. "What saddens you, Lady?"

"Death has claimed a lovely child."

Gwyllion. The loss of the lively, joyful, moonstruck girl, struck him full in the heart. Raefindan squinted his eyes shut. Tears leaked through the corners of his eyes. Something soft struck his body. He opened his eyes to see that he had fallen to the turf. A shadow was cast over him; he looked up. It was Mithrellas, her face full of care. She was fair beyond words, and looked nothing like his Angela, his love, who was lost to him. Too many deaths. He turned from her, shaking his head, and looked to the blades of grass beneath him.

"I have a message for you," he said to the grass.

"Speak it, my love."

Raefindan shook his head again, and looked up to her, drying his streaming cheeks. "There is one who loves Nimrodel. I speak not of he who was lost to the sea. His name is Maegeleb."

"Sharp spirit?"

"His love is centuries old. He desires to end the grief of Nimrodel, to bring her joy to make her forget her years of sorrow."

The vale blurred and faded and vanished.


Tharonwe

Maegeleb took Roy Edwards from the vale before Nimrodel's servant maid said too much. He opened memories of warfare. They were not Roy Edwards' own memories, but things he had read of. There were trenches and blasted earth, mud discolored to green and yellow mire. The air bled yellow like the stench decay in the merlocks' marshes. Soldiers ran from the yellow air, their faces hidden behind strange masks; and those who wore no masks, choked and fell in yellow spew and mud. The air was poisoned. The words that came with these memories were The Somme and poisoned gas and world war one. This might be useful. How was the poison made? Curse it. Roy Edwards did not know. Maegeleb would have to search the longer.

The others had come from the swamp, Tharonwe knew, and had found a place to stay the night, some home whose owner he could not see, nor hear, nor probe. Maybe it was an old shack where no one lived. Some of them seemed to be ready to stay there for the rest of their lives. Well and good. In the morning he and the young red head from the future would put some more leagues between them.
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:29 PM   #591
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Boots Marigold

The stars were out. Marigold saw the humans to sleep and went outside. It was cold but Marigold needed no cloak, and wore none now. The two Elves stood beneath the stars, their breath steaming before them so that they seemed like horses eager to run with the wind on the open plain to the south.

"Eärendil sails bright above this night, does he not?" she said.

Erebemlin and Taitheneb turned to her as if woken from a dream, and acknowledged her presence.

"The humans sleep dreamlessly this night," Taitheneb said.

"'Tis one gift I can give them."

"Lady," Erebemlin said, "you are a mystery. Your mind is closed to us, your place here has gone unnoticed these last few days, right beneath our noses; 'tis as if you are not really here."

"Do you believe that, Silmaethor?"

"Nay. The air you breathe turns to mist as for anyone. But - if I may be so bold - and please do not be offended - what are you?"

"I am Entwash's daughter. Ulmo is my father."

Erebemlin looked stricken the moment he heard her words, and Taitheneb no less so. They fell to one knee. "You honor us, Lady."

Marigold laughed lightly. "Do me no obeisance, I am just a humble river daughter, doing the little bit of good I can in my small realm." As they rose to their feet, her head tilted. "But tell me, Erebemlin, why do you, one of the first born, feel shame?"

He shook his head, confused. "I know not of what you speak, Lady."

"You watched me before, when we were within, and I knew it, and returned your gaze but a moment, and you seemed ashamed."

Taitheneb smirked and looked to the stars, wandering off a ways. Erebemlin noticed, and his brow furrowed. He looked out to the swamp as if he would find his answer there.
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Old 12-02-2004, 10:52 PM   #592
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Tolkien

"I think," said Aeron thickly, "that I would like for her to be buried here...amid the beauty of the things she loved." He nodded and wiped his tears away. As Marigold drifted to speek with the elves, Aeron twirled the flower in his hand and sniffed deeply. Yes...she was beautiful...just like the River Daughter had said...

Vaguely, in the distance...he wondered vaguely who Ulmo was...

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Old 12-03-2004, 11:04 PM   #593
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Ravion

Ravion lay on his back by the fire, staring at the ceiling. He could see the flames out of the corner of his eye, but he still felt cold.

He rolled onto his side and looked at Mellonin, who had fallen asleep. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips, but it was a sad smile. Somehow, even in this safe haven, he could not come by any joy. In some way he realized that he was pushing it away, not allowing it in. This was his punishment.

But he was allowed some small happiness, like watching Mellonin sleep. She was so peaceful when she slept. She was facing away from him: he could see her back rise and fall evenly, her soft, dark hair falling across her shoulders. How long would it be before he was courageous enough to tell her how he felt? He was a Ranger: he had seen battles and injury and death. He had felt the heartbreak of a dying friend. Why did he cower before the rejection of this young woman? Why was he so afraid?

He shook his head ruefully and turned back towards the fire. Perhaps the flames would hold the answers he sought.
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Old 12-03-2004, 11:27 PM   #594
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Mellondu's sleep was uninterrupted, but it was visited: very briefly visited, by two visitors.

One was his sister. She smiled at him, and embraced him, laughing. He jested briefly with her; she teased him a little, and then peace descended again, but it was a happier peace and a deeper rest than before. He was content.

Mostly content.

Far away, miles and miles... beyond the White Mountains, he heard the dim echo of a silver voice. In his dreams he turned toward it. The song, lilting and wandering, wafted in and out of his hearing. His heart ached. He tried to ignore it, to shrug it off and push it aside, and return to the peace of his sister's company.

It echoed still, dim and far-off. Almost he could ignore it. But not quite.

*****

"Mother."

"Yes, dear."

"If I were to... to leave my mistress and master, and..."

"Hmmm?"

"Well, and go away with someone else--"

The silence was suddenly loud and echoing. Her mother sent a piercing glance her way, and then the hint of a smile tugged at the corner of her old eyes.

Her father spoke. "The redhead or the ranger? Not that scruffy boy."

"Gracious, no!" protested Mellonin.

"Ranger, " nodded mother, and turned to her sewing again. Her father stared into the fire. Mellonin saw their eyes twinkling and said no more.
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Old 12-04-2004, 11:16 AM   #595
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Erebemlin

The swamp held no answers. Erebemlin tried to pierce the thick fog with his gaze, and yet found no words to answer Marigold’s straightforward question. The elf was a strong warrior, who had always faithfully served his King and the Lady who followed. In battle he fought with an unfaltering confidence, and he was able to guide and lead others easily. However, these qualities did not aid in his uneasiness in discussing his feelings. Marigold had caused him to react in an emotionally driven manner...embarrassment, and he was ashamed. How could he tell her why he felt that embarrassment, for he knew not himself.

He could in feel the River Daughter’s eyes on the back of his neck. Turning slowly over his shoulder, he was surprised to found her with a gentle expression. He had almost expected ridicule, but instead there was a sparkle in her eyes. "This is a beautiful place, my lady..." His voice was low and he spoke slowly trying to gather the right words. "...and I am truly sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable by watching you." Marigold opened her mouth to protest, but Erebemlin continued quickly. "I have not seen a....lady...such as yourself before." The elf lowered his eyes and glanced back toward the swamp for a moment. "I am sorry."

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Old 12-04-2004, 09:15 PM   #596
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Boots Marigold

Marigold stepped up beside Erebemlin and watched the night by him. At length she said, "Are you sorry that your eye finds beauty in Arda? Do not be sorry, but glad that you have seen that which your heart seeks."

He looked at her suddenly, his eyes like twin flames. She smiled and returned his gaze.

"You are fire in a shell, Erebemlin; is the shell made of stone, ice, or flesh?" He shook his head and opened his mouth as if to answer but she continued. "I am earth and water. I can be frozen, or burnt, or broken. I would none of them. If you would be thawed this instant, what would you do to earth and water? Do not answer now. Think upon it as you aid your lord. When you have achieved your quest, maybe you will pass this way with an answer."

She returned indoors and served the needs of those within. She thanked Aeron for his permission to bury his sister, and then sang a lullaby to them all which was haunted with dreams of a full belly and a quieted heart where hope could dwell. The Elves she left to their own thoughts.
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Old 12-04-2004, 10:33 PM   #597
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Hope. She could taste it.

She tensed, and hesitated to open her eyes; what if it was a dream?

What if it wasn't?

Slowly, she opened her eyes. Wrapped up beside her, he slept quietly, eyelids twitching, breathing peacefully. She gazed at him. He looked... old. Old and tired. But he was well; he was well... wasn't he? She drew near him with sudden worry, gazing closely at him. Then she turned, and her eyes found the woman in shining green.

"He is weary. But do not fear; he finds rest even now. Your brother is well."

"Is he?"

"Yes, he is well. "

A single tear glimmered on her eyelid, and she sat up, and carefully stroked Mellondu's hair. He stirred.

"Shhh, sleep. You are weary, Darklove. Rest now."

His hand reached up, and clasped hers. "Darker than you know, Mellonin. And more weary than you know. Watch over me?"

"Twit, " she whispered. "I pursued you all this way, only to neglect you now?"

"Do not, " he murmured. "How my heart would break."

She sat by his side, and stroked his hair; he laid his head upon her knee, and fell back asleep again. She stroked his hair and then hesitated, and sniffed her hand with a wrinkled nose; he needed a bath. Giving her head a little shake, she wiped her hand on his cloak, which wasn't much cleaner, and then decided she didn't care how dirty he was, and went back to stroking his hair.

The fire crackled behind her, and she was glad; glad of the merry sound, and the warmth. Slowly the thought grew that she was being watched. She turned, and looked over her shoulder towards the fire.

He was there, feet towards the fire, but looking over his shoulder at her. He had done it; the ranger had kept his promise, and she and her brother were together again. She smiled at him, grateful, happy, content. She turned a little more towards him, and bowed her thanks, and looked up again. He watched her still, uncertain. She smiled, and turned back toward her brother. Mellondu's breathing was deep and quiet again.

She raised her head and looked around once more. Gwyllion slept nearby, and Aeron as well. Even Jorje was happily panting by the fire. Raefindan must have stepped outside.

She was happy enough to hum a tune.

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Old 12-04-2004, 10:52 PM   #598
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Ravion

Ravion sat by the fire and watched Mellonin talk about her brother with Marigold. She seemed so happy, but so weary. Like all of the emotion that she could hold in her at one time had been drained out, and she was trying to work up the strength to be happy again.

She looked over at him, and smiled. Her dark eyes danced, and he felt all of the gratitude that she held toward him for helping to recover her brother, all the relief, all the happiness. He could not work up a smile in return, but watched her anxiously. Could she see what he was feeling? Could she read his face? Would she be able to tell what he wanted to say to her, but did not have the courage to say?

Then she looked away. And he knew she had not seen.

And he knew it was time for him to take a stand.

He stood and walked over to her, then crouched by her. She was humming. A part of his heart warmed at the sound, while the rest of him was knotted in nervousness. "Mellonin?" he said softly. She looked up at him and smiled, tilting her head questioningly. She meant for him to go on. This gave him some courage to ask his next question:

"Do you have a moment?"

Stupid question! Ravion could have hit himself. Of course she had a moment. What else was she doing? Humming? But now the question was asked, and he must wait for her answer.
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Old 12-05-2004, 01:48 AM   #599
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Softspoken, and so polite, and so careful. And so unlike me. Mellonin looked up at the ranger, and was too happy to be worried about much. Perhaps it was the sound, nearly dreamless sleep... or had she dreamed something, something about her parents, asking them something... No matter. Ravion was waiting for his answer; she gave it.

"Good friend, of course I do. And I am so glad you returned. Thank you for finding my Darklove and bringing him back to me-- safe and sound, weary though he be. And for bringing us to this haven. It is lovely here; it feels like home, although it would be harder to imagine two houses more different than Marigold's and my mother's. Is mother Marigold your friend? She is lovely, and she sings just like my mother sometimes, and at other times she sings as sweetly as the queen, wouldn't you say? And the house is tiny, yet we all fit inside, and I'd wager that if we brought an army, there would be room still for one more. Have you ever tasted such bread? Was it the bread that made my sleep so sweet? Did you dream? I hardly dreamt at all."

She caught her breath, noticed Ravion's wide eyes, and a little laugh escaped her. Mellondu looked up at her with one half-opened eye, and murmured, "Hush, little squirrel. Your chattering would frighten an angry crow."

"Hush yourself. You should be sleeping. Must I sing you a lullabye?"

"Please, " murmured Mellondu, settling back again.

"Won't you sit down, " Mellonin said to Ravion.
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Old 12-05-2004, 02:05 PM   #600
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"Liornung, still you are silent," murmured Argeleafa in his ear, for he had not spoken a word since he had finished his meal. "Are you still awed by this place?"

"Yes," said Liornung, and he looked to her, for he had not known that she, too, was still awake, "but that is not the reason for my silence now. I was thinking of a place somewhat like this, with a cheerful fire and people resting, talking, and finding peace. There was a kind innkeeper there with a loud voice, and an old man who sent me forth to find a ballad. Yes, Leafa, 'twas Good Secgrof. There was also a girl, fair of face, with golden hair that would fall down her back. Or sometimes she would tie it behind her so it would not be in her face as she worked, but still it would slip loose and little strands of gold would fall about her flushed and rosy cheeks. Sometimes, also, when important company was expected, she would comb it until it shone brightly, and then twine it about her head in braids."

"Are you speaking of the girl Blostma, the innkeeper's daughter?"

"Why, yes, I am," said Liornung. "She's such a fine girl. She's pretty, and hard-working, and kind to all, and I do not doubt that she has faults somewhere within her, but I am blind to them."

Leafa sat back, biting her lip thoughtfully, and she gazed at him with an expression as though something very odd had occured to her. He sat with folded arms, looking into the fire, a smile on his face. A smile came to her own face, a playful and pleased smile, a smile that was knowledgeable, as if she knew all and understood, and she glanced at Ædegard. Then she leaned towards Liornung, and whispered a question in her ear. She could not resist a merry laugh when he coloured deeply, and shook his head, saying, "No, Leafa! Me? Why, never!"

"Never, Liornung?" she asked, mischief in her voice. "Why, you are a young man yet."

"I find pleasure in singing old love songs, and helping the lovesick lads and lassies realise that they do love, and I love children much, and I think they love me, and I think fondly on how much my mother and father loved each other, but, Leafa, it is a subject where I am a spectator, and a singer of what happens. I'll never be more than one who looks on."

"Hmm!" said Leafa, with a toss of her head. "We shall see!"

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