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Old 12-09-2004, 09:07 PM   #601
mark12_30
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Ravion looked at Mellonin, and she smiled up at him. But glancing suddenly beyond him, her face flickered into concern, and his words stopped on his lips.

"Aeron is so sad; so sad. Has-- Oh!" Distress crossed her face, and her hand flew to her liips, and tears started to flow. She whispered, "Oh, Ravion. It wasn't a dream, was it? Gwyllion-- oh, poor Aeron. Ravion, how heartless I've been."

Ravion sat back on his heels. If her humming had baffled him, her tears were worse. She was as steady as a whirlwind among rocks in autumn... He opened his mouth to speak.

But Mellondu stirred, and looked at her through narrow, sleepy eyes. "Heartless? Mellonin...?"

"But he -- he-- told me I was stupid to hope, and that you were dead, and he--"

"Mellonin, did you lose your temper?"

"He deserved it. He was cruel. He-- he said you were dead--"

"He was nearly right. Twice." Mellondu sat up, and looked his sister in the eye. "Did you lose your temper?"

"Stop acting like Father."

"He is not here to correct you and so someone must." Mellondu rubbed his bleary eyes, and then looked at her. "You said you were cruel. What did you say?"

She looked away, and he grew more stern.

"What did you say?"

"I just .. I told him that he... I-- "

Mellondu took her face in his hands, and went almost nose-to -nose with her. "What... did... you... say."

Ravion looked on, wondering again at the change in Mellonin; from tearful to withdrawn. He doubted that she would answer. And then just as suddenly, she took a sharp breath and words tumbled out of her. "I called him an insect. I said he was worthless without his sister. And then I called him-- selfish, filthy, brash, self-serving and-- and loathsome. "

She stared straight ahead.

Mellondu thought it over, and then replied, "You said he was worthless without his sister?"

She nodded. "Yes."

Mellondu nodded towards Gwyllion's body. "And now his sister is dead." His eyes returned to Mellonin. "What is the boy to think?"

She shrugged, irritated. "He never listened to me. He never listens to anyone."

"And yet something in your heart pities him."

"He's pathetic."

"Is that all?"

"No."

"What else?"

She began crying again. "He loves his sister."

Mellondu shook his head. "If you had known that his sister would die, would you have said such a thing-- that he was worthless without her? Would you have laid such a curse on him if you had known it would come to pass?"

"I didn't mean to curse him." She hid her face in her hands.

"But you did, and he is broken by it now. You spoke a terrible curse, and now how can he ever be freed from it?"

Ravion wondered why his forehead hurt, and then he realised his eyebrows were as high as they could be. He rubbed his forehead. "Mellondu, what do you mean by a curse? How did Mellonin curse Aeron?"

Mellondu, who by now held his weeping sister, looked up at Ravion. "My father always says that angry words are hidden curses. But he also says that my sister cannot hide them. Her temper has hunted her all her life. "

Ravion nodded. "But a curse? Surely mere angry words..."

"There is no such thing, " replied Mellondu, "as mere angry words. Look at his face."

"But, " said Ravion, "he is brash. And he is selfish. He's been filthy more than clean, and --"

"You need not defend my sister, " Mellondu replied coldly. "Rebuke should come from wisdom, not from hurt. The well-used colt has better ears than the ill-used colt. And I deem, both have better ears than one called Worthless."

Mellonin curled up against her brother, and quietly wept; for her treacherous temper, for poor dead Gwyllion, and for brooding Aeron. After a while, Ravion stood, and walked back to the hearth, and sat down. Mellonin wept til she was still, and then slept. Mellondu slept again as well.

Ravion wondered whether Mellonin knew that Raefindan was gone.

Last edited by mark12_30; 12-16-2004 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 12-10-2004, 09:28 PM   #602
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Silmaril Dremes

Ædegard

His feet moved without his volition down the trail as he led his horse through the swamp, searching for his betrothed. Merlocks had taken her. The bridel was in his left hand, the horse's plodding muffled in the damp soil. The plodding sound ceased. He no longer felt the bridle. He looked back. His horse was gone, bridle and all, and so was his hand. As he watched, his forearm was snatched by unseen claws, and was pulled away. More claws grabbed his elbow.

His mother leaned over his bed. "Peace, be at peace," came her mild, soft voice, quiet and reassuring. Her face changed and she was Marigold, smiling reassurance.

The swamp was gone, and he was on the open plain, two stout horses pulling the wain he rose in, and Leafa sat beside him, beaming, holding something to her breast in thick blankets.


Jorje

The big fire warmed him where he lay. This place smelled good and right. Jorje closed his eyes and sighed a deep, contented, full bellied sigh.

Scents all around! Woody trees and fresh grasses and cold water, a rabbit trail here, a gopher scent there. He was running and his master ran behind him, barking in that happy way the masters had. There was the Mother, standing by the river, watching him run, smiling. He had been running fast already; now he ran faster, fast as the wind, his tongue lolling, the wind flapping his ears. He could run all day.

Aeron

He walked down the swamp trail, looking for Gwyllion. She was nowhere to be found. He had been searching and searching. Finally he stopped and hung his head in despair. "Gwyllion, where are you?" He raised his head and called. "Gwyllion! Where are you? Where have you gone? Don't leave me!"

A breeze stirred the misty air, and a shadow passed before him. He looked. It was her! She was walking away from him on a pond, her back to him; her feet did not disturb the water. He could see the mist through her, stirring in the breeze. She stopped and looked back.

"Come."

"I can't! I'll fall in and drown!"

She said nothing more, turned, and continued walking away.

"Gwyllionnnn!"

"Come," he heard, as a distant echo on the wind. He looked at the pond and saw his own reflection there.

"I will join her," he said, and stepped into the water. The swamp changed, and he was in a meadow, surrounded by trees, whose leaves whispered in the warm breeze. Two women sat on the grass in the middle of the meadow. Gwyllion stood beside him. She seemed so real!

"Go to them," she said. He reached out to touch her instead. She disappeared.


"No!"

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Old 12-11-2004, 11:12 AM   #603
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The wind was blowing gently and the long grass waved back and forth, brushing her ankles. Her skirt billowed behind her as she ran, straight into her father's strong arms. He laughed and kissed her as he lifted her up. "My little, charming, sweet, delightful girl," he said. "What's this I've heard? You're to be married, eh?"

Suddenly she wasn't a little girl anymore. She was a young woman, standing straight and tall, her dress waving about her slender form, and her hand was on her heart. Her father was gone, but standing before her now was another man: tall, handsome, and his eyes shining with love for her. She stepped to him, eagerly, but he drew away, a look of sorrow passing onto his face as he extended one hand... but there was no hand there. She gazed down at it, thoughtfully, and then she bent and kissed the empty sleeve.

And then she felt a weight upon her, and her back bowed under it, and she realised that she was older and the heaviness that bore her down was the weight of many years. She was walking over the grass, and calling a name. Little children flocked to her, clung to her skirts, asked her questions and prattled away to her in their small voices. Another voice spoke from behind her, saying her name in tender tones, and she turned lovingly. She could not see his face, for it was hidden in shadow, but she knew she loved him anyway.

And then all was black, and she saw and felt nothing, save for the sweet scent of flowers, and she was happy.

And then Argeleafa awoke.

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Old 12-16-2004, 05:08 PM   #604
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Silmaril a new day

Ædegard awoke. He had dreamed, but could not remember anything from them. He sat up. The fire was low in the grate. He looked around. Marigold was not in. Everyone else was still asleep. He rose from his makeshift bed and stretched, keeping quiet so as not to rouse the others. He carefully made his way through the tangle of sleepers and opened the door. He stopped cold.

It was cold! And white. Snowflakes were falling on a mild breeze. The first snow of winter. He went back inside and put on his coat, then went outside and closed the door behind him, walking up the gentle slope leading from the cottage and away from the marsh. His booted feet left tracks in the deepening snow, so far up to his ankles.

He heard a muffled noise, not unlike noises he had heard in the craftsmen's huts in Edoras. He followed the noise and after a little while, found Erebemlin and Taitheneb laboring over a growing hole in the ground, shovels in their hands.

"Good morning!" Ædegard said. "Where is Marigold?"

"Yonder," Erebemlin said, nodding west with his head.

Ædegard made his way in the direction the Elf had indicated, and soon came upon the lone figure of Marigold, her back to him and her arms raised to the air as if directing the very winds and snow through the air. He stopped and watched. Her movements seemed less fluid this morning, and she seemed bulkier and heavier. She turned and faced him. Hers was now the face of the old woman, her cheeks as bright red as apples.

"Good morning!" she said. "Let us go in and wake the others and make breakfast."

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 12-17-2004 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:54 AM   #605
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Snow swirled around him; all was under a thick. soft blanket of white, white like her arms. For a moment he was puzzled; would she fade into the snow, and be invisible? But no, he would see her dark hair, and her eyes, her grey eyes. And she would answer when he called.

He walked, calling.

Trees passed; rolling hills, soft valleys, more trees. Then a ravine. To his ears came the brittle silver tinkling of an imprisoned stream. He turned aside, and followed the ravine. All wore white. The ravine tumbled deeper, among rocks and broken earth. Sand and loose stones slid under the snow, and he stumbled often; but the marks of every fall were soon covered by the fast-falling snow. He struggled on. He was growing cold. He reached to his side; his bottle was empty. The cold seeped into his bones. He pressed on.

He reached the bottom of the ravine, and the ground became level; to his right, he saw the little waterfall that he had heard singing. Beneath a layer of ice, the water trickled; the ice crackled and creaked and snapped, but did not break. He walked toward the little waterfall.

The ground creaked beneath his feet; he halted. Surely he stood on ice; all around him was flat. He knelt, and brushed at the snow. The ice was clear. Below him the pool was deep; but he saw her. Her dark hair flowed in the gentle stream from the waterfall; her skin was white, so white, cold and white. She moved in the water, and her grey eyes looked up at him, and then looked past him. She smiled, and called. "Maegeleb. You are here. You have come."

Amroth paused, and wondered at the name. Sharpsilver. He frowned; she had never called him that before. Regardless, she was still separated from him; he had not come this far only to be robbed of her by a sheet of ice. He raised his fist, and smashed through the ice. He heard laughter behind him.

His golden hair streamed behind him as he sank impossibly fast; he became aware of a weight, and turning, saw that an elf stood on his shoulders. Cold water filled his lungs, and he turned; Nimrodel reached, glad and smiling, above him, and he saw arms embrace her; arms that were not his own. The harder he fought, the deeper he sank; a new, different weight clung to him, and he looked down, and saw the dead body of Mellondu. He looked up, and saw Nimrodel, in the arms of his foe, smiling and glad. They left the water and walked onto the snowy bank. Dazzling white, and crowned by the falling snow, they turned and looked down at him; a flicker of sadness crossed Nimrodel's face, but Maegeleb shushed it away. "Fear not, my love, 'tis but a dream. All will be well."

Amroth held Mellondu's body in one arm, struggling toward the surface, but instead he sank deeper. But no matter how far he sank, he could still see Nimrodel, smiling at Sharpsilver. As if from miles away, he heard the falling silvery crystals of her voice, and each word pierced his heart.

"Mellondu, she sings for him."

The dead boy's eyes met his own, and together they sank into darkness.

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Old 12-17-2004, 09:11 PM   #606
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Shield Ædegard

As Ædegard followed Marigold into the cottage, he heard moaning from near the hearth.

"Go to the one called Mellondu," Marigold said as she moved to her kitchen.

Ædegard did as she said. Mellondu was the one who moaned. He was sweating and his face was pale, as if he was still feverish. Mellonin slept in his arm, and seemed to dream, for her brow was furrowed and her mouth worked silently. Ædegard touched Mellondu on the shoulder.

"Mellondu!" he whispered. He did not respond. Ædegard shook him lightly.

"Hm?" His eyes fluttered open and he squinted unseeing a moment. Then his eyes focused and his face settled into a grim smile. "Ædeward. Good morning."

"Good morning. You were dreaming, I think."

Mellondu shook his head and frowned. "I had an awful dream. Cold, cold water. Brr!" He shook his head violently, which jostled Mellonin and she woke, rubbing her face, which was stained with hours old tears. She rubbed at her face.

"Good morning, Mellonin," Ædegard said. Then he noticed something. "Mellonin! Your face!"

Mellonin's face crumbled into sorrow. "That swamp elf, he hurt me."

"No! Mellondu! Look at her!" Mellondu turned and squinted at his sister's face, but she covered her face.

"No! I do not wish to be a spectacle."

"But Mellonin!" Ædegard said. "The wound is closed! All that remains is a line the color of - of - a newborn's skin!"

Mellonin took her hands from her face. Her eyes were wide. "Marigold! She put mud in my wound!" She touched the line on her face where the wound had been and found it smooth beneath her fingertips. Her eyes went even wider.

"It was not just any mud, then," Mellondu said.

Mellonin was looking about the cottage at the others. "Where is Raefindan? Has he been outside all night?"

Ædegard looked at Mellondu, who seemed as curious of Raefindan's whereabouts as his sister. "He has been taken captive by the swamp elf. We have not seen him since you returned to us, Mellonin."
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Old 12-19-2004, 08:35 PM   #607
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Mellonin looked at her brother, and he raised one eyebrow.

"No. I wasn't. I didn't, " she said, once again on the verge of tears.

"All right, then. Look, I'm sorry. Who was he?"

Mellonin turned to look at Aeron, and then Gwyllion, and she began to shake, fighting the sorrow, and losing. "How far does a curse go?" she said, her voice squeaking.

"But you said you didn't lose your temper with the redhaired man."

"Raefindan, " she cried, turning on Mellondu. "His name is Raefindan!"

"All right, " Mellondu replied. "Nevermind. It's all right."

Her eyes kindled, and she said, "It is not all right. He is my friend, and he is captive!"

A rough hand closed around her arm, and a familiar voice said, "Do not fear for him."

She looked up into Ravion's face. Mellondu frowned, worried and not a little suspicious.

"Why?"

"He went of his own free will. He struck a bargain... for you."

"For me?"

"For you."

Mellondu shook his head. "Mellonin, why did you ask about a curse? What did you say to him?"

"Nothing." It was not what I said, but what I thought. 'Raefindan, my adopted brother, and most loyal ally in my search for the younger blood brother. Raefindan will not leave me.' But he has left me; only in a way I cannot resent. And now I have gained my own brother back, and lost my adopted brother. Did the curse against Aeron come back to me, too? She met Mellondu's gaze and replied, "He was like another brother to me, faithful and true."

Ravion gripped her arm tighter. "He still is, Mellonin. And we will find him, and free him."

She turned her gaze on Ravion. It all felt so familiar... the smell of warmth from the fire, the smells of food, and the promises of the Ranger to find her lost brother. She relaxed, gazing into his eyes, wanting to believe it. Her Mellondu was here, with her, solid and real and breathing, no dream, but flesh and blood. And Ravion-- his hand held her arm, and she gazed at him, wondering. His face was haggard, his eyes looked tired, confused yet determined, wavering yet resolute. She looked up at him, her shaking subsided, and she waited for him to speak again.
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Old 12-19-2004, 08:41 PM   #608
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Nethwador watched the goings-on, wakening slowly, sniffing the baking bread and the occasional fresh air when the door opened and snowflakes blew in, only to sizzle on the hearth.

Bella was nearby. She had been dreaming, but now she slept quietly. He watched the glow and flicker of the firelight on her face and hair, and waited for her to wake up.

He was happy.
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Old 12-20-2004, 06:34 AM   #609
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Snow! Bellyn thought as she stirred. She did not open her eyes yet, but she basked in the warmth of the room around her. Bellyn could sense the snow; there was something about it that made it so easy to wake up and know that the white powder was there. He brothers always teased her when she would tell them that. Bellyn knew it was true, though, because the air would become soft and still all around outside, and the sky would be silent all but for the little flakes careening gently out of the sky. There was almost a scent to the snow, though it was a smell that Bellyn could not yet describe.

Bellyn opened her eyes gently, and saw Nethwador first. "Good morning," Bellyn murmured softly as she sat up from her blankets and stretched out her arms. She caught sight of the window and saw the little snowflakes flying about, and smiled. "Yes, Mellon, what a good morning it is!"

Looking around the room, Bellyn wondered when they would leave, and how the group might continue. Part of her did not want to ever leave the comfort of Marigold's house, but the stronger piece of her heart wanted to finish the task that they had started what seemed like ages ago. She almost wearied of wandering and never getting to where they were headed. Bellyn turned to Nethwador.

"I wish we both spoke the language of the elves better," Bellyn said to Nethwador off-handedly as her thoughts shifted. "Then we could speak to each other, and we would understand each other. We...I...I could know where you come from, how you feel." Bellyn paused. It was not usually hard to tell how Nethwador felt about any certain subject - Bellyn added the example because she realized halfway through her words that she did not really need to be able to speak to Nethwador right then. His eyes spoke volumes.

Maybe Bellyn just felt better by talking and knowing that Nethwador would listen.
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Old 12-22-2004, 05:59 PM   #610
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Ravion

Ravion kept his hand on Mellonin's arm for perhaps a moment too long. His calloused fingers against her smooth skin, his fire-warmed hands against her cool arm...he did not want the contact to end. But finally the comfortable moment had become awkward, and he withdrew his hand.

"No one could stop him, Mellonin. He did what he had to do, what he could do." He almost said what any of us would have done, but that would have been a lie. He had not moved. He had not made any sacrifice, had not made any attempt to make a sacrifice like Raefindan's. "I have no doubt that he is well. Raefindan can fend for himself."

"But the swamp-elf--" Mellonin protested.

Ravion cut her off. "Raefindan knows what he is doing. We must not diminish his sacrifice by assuming that he did it blindly."

"But if he did...?" Mellonin asked quietly. Her dark eyes were somber and sad and clouded with worry. She broke eye contact with Ravion and looked at the ground.

His heart ached inside him, and he reached out to her. Again he touched her arm, but simply lay his hand on it, rather than taking hold of her. She looked up at him, her expression unreadable--at least to him. "This is a familiar promise," he said with a small, wry smile. "But if it is in my power, I will find Raefindan." He tilted his head slightly to the side. "It pains me to see you like this, Mellonin. I ache to see you so unhappy."
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Old 12-23-2004, 05:39 AM   #611
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I ache to see you so unhappy.

What was the feeling that surged inside of him? The ranger had done nothing wrong, nothing. What cause did he have to be angry with this ranger, who cared for his sister and wanted her to be happy?

If you touch her again I will break your arm. Mellondu felt his lips tighten into a hard line. Mellondu's hand grazed the ranger's wrist, and his eyes flashed a warning.

The ranger twitched one eyebrow, and withdrew his hand.

"It's time for Mellonin to return-- to the city, and to our parents, " Mellondu said.

Ravion turned slowly to face the boy. "Perhaps you should learn more about this man before you forsake him," he said.
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Old 12-24-2004, 01:37 AM   #612
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Aeron sat in Marigold's dwelling, staring deep into the fire, wondering about his dream. What had Gwyllion meant by saying Go to them? He shook his head.

A tear slid from his eye and down his cheek. He wondered if he would dream of her again...and why had he dreamed of her? Still...it would be good to see her again, even if it was only a dream.

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Old 12-29-2004, 07:38 PM   #613
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Preparations and Choices

After breakfast, Marigold came over to the fire where Aeron sat, and settled her old bones down beside him. She said nothing for a long time. Aeron stared into the fire, and scooted an inch further away from Marigold.

"Have you made your choice yet, Aeron?"

What choice? Aeron could not remember.

"Will you stay or go? Have you made your choice?"

"No."

"Think on it a while then." She was silent a long while again before she asked him another question. "Would like to help ready your sister's body for burial?"

Aeron shook his head violently, but said nothing.

Marigold rose and set Erundil and Ravion the task of making a coffin. She had the aid of Argeleafa and Bella in preparing the body. They took Gwyllion into another room, and brought her back some time later, her old dirty shift exchanged for a gown the color of sun drenched wheat.

"Is there a sheet to wrap her in?" asked Leafa.

"She needs no more cover than that," Marigold replied. Leafa lovingly combed her black tresses and Bella cut her nails.

Aeron watched, fascinated, and wiped at his eyes more than once.

At last, the readying was done, and Gwyllion lay near the fire again, alone with Aeron. He stared at her face, her hair, her hands resting at her sides, the flatness of her gown where one lower leg was missing, and back to the face, seeming as if it only slept. When her eyes blinked open, Aeron sat mute, and staring. When she turned her head and saw him staring, she smiled.

"Silly boy," she said, "did you think I'd leave you?"

His mouth dropped open, his heart leaped, and his eyes watered. She sat up and looked around, then at the gown she wore.

"Where are we? Who gave me this gown? How are the others?"

"Gwyllion? You're alive?"

"Silly boy."

"Aeron!" The voice echoed. It sounded like Ravion. "Aeron! Wake up!"

Aeron opened his eyes. Gwyllion lay on the hearth bricks.

"Aeron," said Ravion, "it is time for the burial." Aeron moaned. Ravion knelt beside him. "What is it? Is something wrong?"

Aeron gulped down the painful lump in his throat. "Is there anything that is not wrong?" His words came out angrily. "My sister is dead."

"I am sorry. The readying is almost complete. Marigold sent me in. She asked for you to go to her while Erundil and I lay her in the coffin."

Aeron got up and walked stiffly out of the cottage. Marigold was surrounded by the others. He stopped when he reached the edge of the gathering, but she motioned to him to come to her. Reluctantly, he trudged through the beaten snow and stood beside her.

Ravion and Erundil carried the coffin between them, slipping a little in the snow. Aeron was afraid they would drop the coffin, and his feet itched to run to their aid, his fingers itched to hold the coffin steady. But they did not drop it, and finally they laid it carefully beside the square, gaping wound in the earth that the Elves had dug.

"Have you made your choice yet? Or would you wait until after the burial?"

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Old 12-30-2004, 01:59 PM   #614
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Marigold asked the young man called Aeron questions while the rest stood by in the snow. Bellyn stood close next to Nethwador; she could see his face out of the corner of her eye even as she watched the snow fall. Her heart fell just as the flakes fluttered down from the sky, watching the burial that could have easily been hers if fate had been kinder to Gwyllion.

She could only see the pain in Aeron's eyes as he spoke to Marigold. Bellyn ached that she could not help, even though she did not know Aeron or Gwyllion. She hated seeing tears that she knew she could not turn to laughter. Bellyn wished she could say that she knew Aeron's pain. After all, Bellyn still remembered the death of her mother; the heartache still enveloped her family. Yet there remained something in Aeron's eyes that told Bellyn there was a different hurt at work in the snowy field that day.

"I regret that I still do not know our new companions well," Bellyn murmured to Nethwador softly. "Perhaps then it would mean more that we mourn Aeron's sister. Perhaps then it would mean something."

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Old 12-30-2004, 03:15 PM   #615
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Tolkien

Aeron frowned, torn between staying with Marigold and leaving. "I...don't know..." he said slowly, sorting his thoughts. "I fear that if I stay here, I will not...I will not do all that I can do...yet it is so peaceful here..."

Aeron's eyes drifted across the people gathered there, wondering who the women were...he knew he had heard their names but he could hardly be expected to remember. They had been captured, just like Gwyllion...and Raefindan had given himself up...to help save them and Gwyllion. That had been very noble of him, Aeron thought.

"I think that I will go with my companions to rescue Raefindan," said Aeron. "Besides," he said, "I am bound to Ravion if I call correctly...thief's honour," he added glancing mischievously at Ravion.
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Old 12-30-2004, 06:17 PM   #616
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Burial

Marigold watched the boy. The light had come back into his eyes, if dim. He was more hale than he had seemed, then. Good.

"'Tis time to speak of the memory of the young maiden Gwyllion. I shall be last to speak."

The snow fell silently around and on them all. For a long time, no one spoke. Marigold watched as the snowflakes rested on the hair, faces and shoulders of the humans, melting slowly; on the Elves's faces it melted quickly, such was the fire of their hearts. On the maiden who lay before them, the lid not yet closed over her, the snow did not melt, but became a white crown upon her hair, a shine like tiny stars on her face.

Marigold saw a faint outline that was not seen by the others, of a young maiden with black hair, standing by the coffin, bending over it, peering at the form within. The maiden turned to her and she smiled. The falling snow before and behind the maiden hid the returned smile, but not the purpose in that faint face.

They will be letting you go. The boy is ready, Marigold said in her thought.

I must stay with them, watch over him. None other can guard him as can I.

They will do their best.

None shall see as true as I, and therefore none shall see as true as my brother. He will pierce all the illusions of evil.

So let it be.

The image faded as, at last, one of them spoke.
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Old 12-30-2004, 06:29 PM   #617
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Mellonin felt the heavy silence, and at first no one spoke. Even the snow seemed to be listening as it slowly, ever so slowly fell, lingering on Gwyllion's hair and face.

Mellondu watched her, and she avoided his gaze. What should she say? She had thought the girl mad, at first; then silly; but Gwyllion had been brave and cheerful, and Mellonin had grown fond of her; quite fond.

She glanced over at Aeron, suprised that he had decided to search for Raefindan, but glad of it.

She dreaded to speak, remembering her angry words with Aeron in the past. She further dreaded admitting to Mellondu that she and Aeron had come to blows. Would no one break the silence?
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Old 12-30-2004, 06:42 PM   #618
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Everyone remained quiet. Not one of the company looked ready to speak. Bellyn knew it did not have to be her to speak first...

Yet the awkward silence bothered Bellyn.

So, she stepped forward before any other. Eyes followed her as she took one tiny step closer to the dead body. Bellyn did not meet any gaze. Instead she glanced downward at her own feet, her hands clasped together behind her back.

“I did not know Gwyllion,” Bellyn started with the obvious, her eyes flicking upward now and then to Marigold standing next to Aeron. “Things could have been different, though. It could have been me lying there – maybe it should have been. Or it could have been Leafa…” Bellyn risked a shy glance at her new Rohirric friend. “It could have been Mellonin.”

Bellyn shifted, hoping that the other mourning members of the party were not annoyed with her senseless rambling. Bellyn looked at Gwyllion, so innocently lying in the snow, her dark hair stark against the gentle white powder ice.

“She looks like mother,” Bellyn whispered, aloud but almost to herself as she sniffed and let her voice squeak. “And it’s not fair, Aeron,” Bellyn lifted her head and looked right at Aeron. “I know it is not fair. Know that I know that.”

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Old 01-01-2005, 07:54 PM   #619
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The Rangers

Erundil

"I knew Gwyllion, though not well," Erundil said quietly. He felt everyone's eyes on him, though he kept his downcast. "I was given the task of making her coffin, and the honor of carrying it.

"Her innocence surprised me...and her childlike wisdom touched me. Her eyes saw that which ours could not. She lacked a veil that we all wear, a...a barrier between our minds and the truth. She saw everything so simply, so honestly. I know that with her passing, we have lost that sight..."

Erundil felt a catch in his throat, which shocked him. Ravion's strong hand gripped his shoulder, and the older Ranger looked to his former protége for succor. "I have no more to say but farewell, Gwyllion. Sleep peacefully." Erundil walked away from the grave.


Ravion

After relieving Erundil, Ravion knelt by the open grave. He brushed an errant lock of hair from Gwyllion's pale face, and took a deep breath.

"I knew Gwyllion," he said, and was not ashamed that his voice broke. "I knew her. She was sweet and innocent, childlike and good, but also more. I learned much from Gwyllion. Erundil spoke of the unimpaired sight that she had: that is right. She saw things that we did not.

"And she was not just a child. In a very real way, she was more of an adult than any of us. Often it was that I treated her as no more than a child, but it was my mistake. I could have listened to her more. I would have learned.

"But it is not her insight that I will miss. Not only." Ravion stood up. "She was a friend and a companion. I have never known another like her, and do not think I ever will again. I will miss her as a whole: as the young woman I will carry in my memory." He took a small handful of snow and sprinkled it gently by Gwyllion's body. "Agannâlô burôda nênud. The shadow of death is heavy on us. Êphal êphalak îdôn hi-Akallabêth. Far away now is She-that-hath-fallen. Sleep peacefully, Gwyllion. You will be missed."
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Old 01-02-2005, 05:55 PM   #620
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard did not step forward, but cleared his throat; the others' eyes turned to him. His mind went blank, except for the panicked question, What do I say?. He said the first thing that came to him.

"I did not know her. I wish I did. I have a sister at home who is not of my parents' blood, but has taken the place of one lost to us at birth. As for me, she is as much one of us as my parents and me. If -" his throat caught "- if she were ever lost to us, it would be a grief beyond bearing." He glanced at the bereaved boy. "Aeron, I wish that you had been spared this loss, but it was - was -"

Ædegard had been about to fall back upon the rutted words of his forefathers about the vicessitudes of fate, but they sounded offensive to his inner ear. A new thought came to him.

"It was not fate that brought about this death," he said, he voice strengthening. "No, it was brought about by the evil deed of a blackheart." Ædegard took one step forward and lifted his stubbed left arm. "By the blood spilt in the loss of my hand, I swear that I shall seek payment in kind for the loss of Gwyllion, your sister. It is my oath that the swamp elf shall die for his deed, by my remaining hand if need be."

He did not look at any but the boy, whose eyes had kindled. He stepped back to his place again.
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Old 01-03-2005, 03:27 PM   #621
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Liornung saw that Leafa grew apprehensive at her betrothed's words, so he hastened to speak.

"I did not know Gywllion, nay, no more than I can know her now, gazing up her sweet, innocent face. Yet I cannot help but love her as I see she was so loved, and I cannot help but love those who loved her so well. Mortal speech fails in such a moment and grows awkward... I have said nothing, and I can say no more now."

But he did not fall completely silent, for he raised his fiddle and began to play a sweet, slow, sad tune, and he sang the words of a song that was unknown to those about him, and hardly known to himself.

By a river, flowing, sweeping
stood a party, sadly weeping.
A gentle one was laid to rest
and grieved by those who loved her best.
Yet not all was dimmed by tears
and felt the passing of the years;
despite all that might be gone
still the river shimmers on.


And the river flows on
down through the valley
and the river sparkles clear.
And the river flows on
down through the valley
and our sweet girls lies here.


Who would think 'twas not the end
as lost life will not soon mend?
Yet a whisper ever on
said the maid was not yet gone.
Be the memory but a part
each still holds her in his heart
and be years short or be years long,
like the river she shimmers on.


And the river flows on
down through the valley
and the river sparkles clear.
And the river flows on
down through the valley
and our sweet girl lies here.


And, so singing, he stepped forward and kissed the brow of the ever sleeping girl.
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Old 01-07-2005, 07:41 PM   #622
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Mellondu watched Ædegard and Liornung, and cast numerous glances at his sister. She showed little sign of speaking; he wondered why.

He stepped forward and looked at the dead girl, glistening with snow-crystals, and spoke softly.

"I still have a sister, alive and well. But it might have been otherwise; I might have been bereft, and not your brother."

He studied her, the white ice-princess, trying to paint her picture in his mind so that it would stay. He studied her face, her hair, her hands, her figure. He studied the snow on her eyelids. For a moment he saw her as if beneath a frozen sheet of ice; but he shook himself, and the vision passed, and she lay glistening in the cold open air.

He wondered what could be done for the boy. And then he wondered why the girl had come in the first place. She had not known Mellondu; neither had the boy. What had made them come with his sister to look for him?

He would ask his sister at another time.

*****

Mellonin stepped forward, and walked to the dead girl's side, and knelt down. Mellondu waited nearby, and heard his sister whisper softly.

"I am sorry, " said Mellonin, "sorry that you fell, sorry that you were caught up in this. I am sorry that they took... that they hurt you so. And I am sorry that I hurt you. And your brother. Little Gwyll, you were always kind. Perhaps in that kindness-- can you forgive me? I do not think your brother can. But perhaps you can forgive me on his behalf. I should not have spoken to him in my anger. I-- I know my temper... that is-- I am sorry I hurt Aeron. Can you forgive me?"

She waited, watching the dead girl. Mellondu thought that she was waiting for an answer.

"Can you forgive me, Gwyllion?"

Mellondu stepped forward, and put a hand on his sister's shoulder.

"Gwyllion, please."

Mellondu put his arms around his sister's shoulders, and raised her up, and he led her back to where she had stood before. He noticed Ravion's eyes following them.
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Old 01-08-2005, 04:47 PM   #623
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Silmaril Ædegard

Ædegard looked around the circle of mourners. The Gondorian girl, Bellyn, had spoken, then Erundil and Ravion, then he had sworn his oath, Liornung had sung his beautiful lament, then Mellondu and Mellonin had spoken, the latter in words Ædegard had not been able to make out. That left Leafa, Nethwador, the two Elves Erebemlin and Taitheneb, and Marigold ... and Aeron. Surely the boy had some words about his sister?

Ædegard took Leafa's hand in his and squeezed it. She glanced up at him and he saw the doubt and pain in her face. He nodded once by way of encouraging her to speak, and she frowned, her lips twisting.

Ædegard sighed. He would not push her needlessly. He looked to Aeron. The boy looked as if he had no intention of saying a thing. He just stared at his sister's body, on which the snow was beginning to gather. If someone did not speak soon, Marigold had better, before the body was buried by snow instead of in the earth!

"I - I-" Ædegard turned. Leafa was struggling to speak! "I did not know Gwyllion. I wish I had. I - I will miss her." Leafa folded into Ædegard's chest, resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped her in his handless arm, wishing he could stroke her hair . . . remembering that he his missing hand would pass over the place where she missed an ear. He could feel her sobbing quietly against him. The Elf would pay.

One of the Elves stepped forward and spoke. "'Twas a strange task the Lady Marigold put us to, digging this grave-" Hard, unfeeling words, thought Ædegard. Leafa's sobbing ceased. She turned her head and watched the speaker. It was the taller, more lordly of the two Elves, Erebemlin. "-but the one we most needed to do. May she sleep well until the world is changed." Erebemlin stepped back again.

Ædegard shook his head, bemused. Taitheneb took his elder's place. "We have been shielded in Lorien for many lifetimes of Men. Shielded from death. It was good for my lord and me to dig this grave, to feel the nature of this one's death as well as we are able. For this I thank the Lady Marigold." Taitheneb turned his gaze toward Ædegard. "The man of Rohan has sworn a dire oath. I wish that he had not. Dark are the roads leading from sworn oath to future deeds. Darker still are the deeds that must be done to seal the oath. Darkest of all may be the consequences of oath accomplished. I pray that it is not so for you. But I fear. I fear." Taitheneb looked away, returning to his place.

Ædegard felt as if he had been released from some spell, or at least from the powerful eyes of the Elf. Elves! They should stay in their woods! Ædegard shook his head, then looked to Aeron. Was the boy going to speak, or not?

The snowflakes continued to cover the body of the girl.

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Old 01-10-2005, 09:26 AM   #624
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Tolkien

Aeron shifted uncomfortably at the words of the elf. They had been said with quiet regret -- as if the elf knew that something very ill had happened when one had sworn such an oath...

He looked at Gwyllion, his unease at the words of the elf momentarily forgotten. The snow was making a white coverlet for her...stepping forward he said, "I thank you all for your kind words..." he stopped, wondering what to say. It would be bad form to tell them how much he still hurt inside, how much he missed her. How he wished that she was immortal like the elves...then remembering that even an elf would have died in her situation. He sighed and concluded, "I think that Mellonin blames herself too much."
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Old 01-10-2005, 08:58 PM   #625
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Silmaril Marigold

"It is a true heart that thinks of another at such a time," Marigold said warmly. Aeron looked up at her in surprise, then returned his gaze to the body of his sister. He stood over her for long moments before he returned to his place. None later asked him of his thoughts as he stood there; it was a sacred moment not to be tarnished by speaking of it.

At last, Marigold spoke.

"Gwyllion lived true and loved well. Neither her life nor her death have been vain, for she has touched each one of us here, and will yet do so."

Marigold moved slowly toward the body and knelt slowly, her white hair coming loose from her hood and swaying over the face of the girl.

"Rest well, my young one."

She took a small knife from a fold in her cloak and cut free a lock of Gwyllion's hair. Marigold rose and came to Aeron. She took a broad leaf, still green, from within her cloak, and placed the lock of hair in it, and folded it. She held the leaf out to Aeron.

"Take this and keep it with you as a remembrance and link to your sister Gwyllion."

Aeron took it from her hands and held it in both his hands.

Marigold nodded to Ravion, Erundil, Erebemlin, and Taitheneb. They approached the body and placed the lid over the coffin, then carefully lowered it into the grave. Then Marigold directed each one there to toss soil onto it as a gesture of farewell. She called them back inside, except for the two Elves, whose task it was to fill in the grave.

As he returned with the others, it occurred to Aeron that there was no marker for the grave, and he wondered why.
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Old 01-13-2005, 06:44 PM   #626
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Elves

Each of the elves took a turn slowly shoveling the soft earth over the snow dusted coffin. It had been many years since they had seen this sort of personal death. There had tended the corpses of orcs, which oddly enough had been on the day this strange adventure had started, but this was a single young mortal who it seemed touched those who knew her. It was interesting, Taitheneb reflected, how her death even touched those who did not know her.

Yes, I suppose... Erebemlin chose his words carefully. All death would touch those who must face it after such short lives.

Taitheneb nodded and placed another heap of dirt atop the grave. Do you pity them?

Erebemlin was taken aback by the question, and he leaned on his shovel, raising his eyes to meet those of his inquisitive companion. I pity their lack... of appreciation...for the beauty of the earth around them, but... Again he paused in contemplation. No, I would think that with their short lives they would treasure it all the more.

Maybe, was Taitheneb’s only reply. Maybe.

The elves continued their duty as their breath steamed the air before them and the snow fell lightly.
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Old 01-14-2005, 09:40 PM   #627
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Silmaril Leave taking from Marigold

Once the Elves had finished the burial, Marigold served the party a luncheon of rabbit stew thick with potatos and beans. Then they prepared their horses and packed their belongings, ready to cover some miles before sunset, though it had not been seen all the day..

Finally they were all mounted on their horses. The snow had ceased. Marigold came out last from her cottage; she was again of fair form. Erebemlin watched her for long moments, and finally pulled his gaze away.

"Farewell, friends! Fear no evil.
May oath end in blessed deed.
May loyal friends find love once lost.
May grief foreswear numbing despair
and cleave to wisdom borne of sorrow.
May you become one in wit and will.
Farewell, friends! May the road return you!"

She waved and as she did so, the clouds broke and the sun shone brightly on the snow, a glittering sheet of crystal. Erebemlin shouted the command and the horses were soon in a canter moving south.
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Old 01-16-2005, 10:22 AM   #628
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Nethwador

On his right, Echo cantered steadily. The horse lacked the resolve Nethwador was used to seeing in him; his ears flicked, his eyes wandered. But he followed Erebemlin's mount, with an occasional glance at Nethwador's lanky chestnut. Mellonin now rode with Mellondu, and Echo proved worthy for the task this afternoon at least. It remained to be seen whether a longer journey would tire him. Mellonin clung to her brother's back, sometimes burying her face in his cloak. Her riding skills were minimal. She was surprised by Mellondu's easy seat. However she might slip or slide, Mellondu firmly anchored her to Echo's back.

Mellondu knew, however, that while he sat well enough, he had little idea how to guide the horse. Amroth had always done so. And by now, Echo was little used to rein or heel. He would ask Ædegard, he decided; the fellow was kind enough.

To Nethwador's left, Bella rode easily. He smiled at her often. Sometimes she smiled back; once she winked at him. His heart bounded, and he winked back. She blushed.

If ony they could have remained with Marigold; to have a mother and a wife, both... he sighed. And then he shook himself. Wife? Bella was not his wife yet. What would he need to do, to gain her as his wife? With the Wayfarers, there had been rules; the Rohirrim had different rules, and the Gondorians had other rules still. Which rules would she expect him to abide by?

And even if he metthe demands, would she accept him then? What of her own heart? Time enough to think of that later. He missed Amroth's presence. But Taitheneb was kind, and had helped him in the past. Perhaps he would help Nethwador again.

For now he enjoyed the snowy ride, away from the Merlocks, the swamp, and dear Marigold. He looked ahead to the rolling hills of Gondor, now sparkling white, and wondered what the next day would bring.
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Old 01-17-2005, 06:42 PM   #629
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Silmaril Raefindan

Maegeleb stood over the sleeping Roy Edwards, the one his enemies called Raefindan - red headed man. He watched the young man's dreams. Maegeleb had sent Roy's mind to the vale of Nimrodel and Maegeleb again, pleased with the growing sympathy of Nimrodel's maidservant, and thus of the Elf Lady herself. Well and good.

He searched the young man's mind again, looking for the stuff of the future. He had found that the best way to do this was to allow him to dream as his mind wandered in sleep, and in that way Maegeleb happened upon things that he would not have looked for. Such as this strange tube, long as an Elven arrow. It spit out a piece of stone with an accompanying sound like a clap of thunder. He searched Roy Edwards' mind for more about this, and learned of black powder, and triggers, and rifling, and little holes for the stones in a shiny plate, which slid into place when the tube was cocked, and with careful aim, the stone shot from the tube faster than an arrow, and as true to target as any Elven shot. He had found it. He would have to find the things he needed to make one. The design was simple.

Raefindan awoke and was upset. The swamp elf was standing nearby, looking north. The ground was covered with a couple inches of snow. He remembered his dream, and was more certain than ever that he had to find a way back to the future. Maegeleb was turning him into a dangerous library of facts that could be used to harm his friends, and not only them. All Maegeleb had to do was put together the assembly line he had seen earlier with the rifle..... Raefindan shut his eyes and grimaced, and tried to force himself not to think of it. Anything else! Mithrellas. Dark hair, raven blackm and her face as beautiful as ... well. ... an Elf!

"What is this assembly line?" Maegeleb asked. "And what might it have to do with .... what did you call it? Rifle?"

"Never mind." Raefindan was hungry, and his muscles were tight. Cloak or no cloak, his limbs ached with cold.

"Ah, I see. I could build many rifles on this assembly line, create an army." Maegeleb grinned.

Raefindan sighed.
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:10 PM   #630
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Erebemlin

South. Erebemlin could sense the young man’s thought in the South. The red-haired man was at least still alive, and the elf wondered what dark contrivance Tharonwe had for the young man. Something concerned him even more than this however, and that was the bizarre images he came across when he touched on the edge of the man’s thoughts. They were only fleeting, but they piqued his curiosity nonetheless. Erebemlin was unsure how to put them into words as he had not seen such people or things before. Did the man just have a superb imagination?

Aeron flinched, jerking Erebemlin’s attention back to the situation at hand. Apparently, the boy had nodded off and woke with a start.

The monotonous rhythm of the ride allowed the Elf to let his mind wonder once more, but this time it went not to the South and the red-haired man...but North, to a River’s daughter in a cozy cottage. A fire was burning bright within the fireplace, and a warm glow lit the room. A light melody could be heard dancing in the air. The rustling of leaves now drew his attention, and he saw her standing at the door. The winter air was surely cold as it blew around and tossed her hair, yet she wore no cloak and did not trimble. Erebemlin could feel his heart begin to pound, and started to look away, but he heard her voice, so musical and strong, with in his mind. Should your path again cross mine, I would be glad. The cold air that surrounded the party suddenly did not feel so cold to the tall Elf, and he smiled to himself.

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Old 01-21-2005, 09:05 PM   #631
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Silmaril Raefindan

"Tell me," said Maigeleb as they trudged through the snow ever southwards, "what is this thing called hypnotism?" The Elf walked ahead of him, as usual.

Raefindan had been aware that the swamp Elf had been sifting through his mind most of the time he had been with him, and it had been so this day as well. There was no use fighting it. He had tried and only became weary and easier prey to deeper probing. Better to be used like an encyclopedia than a psych patient. Raefindan had found that he could view that which the Elf sifted, and in this way had become reacquainted with much that he had forgotten. He knew now who he was, where he came from, and the last thing he remembered from before having arrived before the gates of Minas Tirith ... however that had happened!

"You don't need to ask, you can look in my head and see for yourself."

"Such ire! It does not become you, Roy Edwards."

"I suppose that you would be more friendly to someone who invaded your brain?"

"Invaded, hmm." Roy watched images of invasion file through his mind. "Ah. I see. Please do not think of yourself as my prisoner, Roy Edwards, but as my .... how was it? .... aide. Yes, that was the strange word. My assistant. That was it."

"I'm your captive and you use me as you will."

"You are so .... hmm ... irascible! Such an apt expression. It has the meaning right in the sound of it, does it not?" Roy did not respond. "But about hypnotism. It is not unlike osanwe, except that the one holds the other's will in hand. But surely there must be a better way to bring it into being than having the .... patient, I think you call him, be a willing party. There must be something in osanwe that would make this work."

"So you'v'e given up on the rifle production?"

"I gave thought to it, but I would not murder the land, as your kind have done, and this hypnotism seems so much more ... you have a word for it that seems so appropriate .... elegant. Yes, that is the word. Amost Elvish, it sounds in your barbaric tongue."

Roy shook his head, wondering if there was some way he could get away from this Elf, and if there was some way he could spare Middle Earth of his presence and get back home.

"No, I will not allow it," Maegeleb said. "You are too valuable to me."

There might be another way, Roy thought.

"The moment I am aware that you intend to end your life, I will stop you. So think no more of escape."

Roy sighed and wondered how the others fared.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:55 PM   #632
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Ravion

"Can you feel it?" Ravion asked quietly to Erundil, riding behind him.

"Feel...what?" Erundil replied, as though startled from deep thoughts. Ravion glanced behind at the older Ranger, who looked troubled.

"Gwyllion's absence. I know you did not know her well, but can you feel that something is missing?"

"Of course," Erundil said, quickly and surely. He looked at Ravion. "Yes, I feel it. But not as acutely as he." Erundil pointed out.

Ravion followed Erundil's finger to the mount that Erebemlin and Aeron shared. "Oh," he said softly. "Yes."

"Try to help him in the days to come," Erundil said. "You have felt this pain before. For him, it is a new and strange wound, and it hurts all the more for its unfamiliarity."

"I think that Marigold may have helped him," Ravion suggested.

"Yes, but he is still hurting," Erundil said. "You've experienced death. Help him through this."

"You've experienced it, too," Ravion said. He wished that Erundil would drop the subject. He had no help to give Aeron. All of his pain was still inside of him. Aeron would not do well to learn from Ravion.

Erundil said nothing more.

Ravion rode in silence, contemplating Erundil's words. But what had Ravion to teach the poor, grieving boy? To ignore the pain? To try to pretend it never happened? That he had never had a sister in the first place? It would be no favour to the boy to let him swallow the pain and keep it in until he became bitter and hard and icy like Ravion. Until he dreaded sleep because it was the only time when his pain came back to the surface, to haunt his dreams. Until it took so much effort to reach out to Mellonin that he could hardly tell whether or not the tightening in his chest was going to kill him before she answered him...

He looked again at Aeron, and shook his head. Ravion was no expert in the care of grief. He could only pray that the boy would learn to let go.
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Old 01-23-2005, 12:54 AM   #633
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Whiteness, shining, bright, clean, pure. Like her love. She miled, and reached down to trace in the snow with her finger. White crystals gathered on her finger, and she brought it to her mouth with a smile.

She spat. Ash! Bitterness filled her mouth. She stood, indignant, and once again looked round. All around her lay grey ash as far as the eye could see.

Alas for the joy I have lost. Alas for the bitter life I live. Alas for my love. Once, my love, you were kind; long ago. But my life has become bitter. Bitter. My hope lies in ruin; ruin and ash.

She bent down, and wrote in the ash with her finger.
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Old 01-23-2005, 01:06 PM   #634
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Amroth by himself had hardly been a burden; but Amroth had fed Echo with his own fire, and with the departure of his master's friendly thoughts, the fire left him too. As Echo wearied, he lagged; and finally he stumbled, not out of weariness, but carelessness. Ahead of him, the elves with Aeron, and Ravion and Erundil pulled well ahead. Behind him, the riders of Rohan sent Mellondu puzzled glances.

"Send him forward, " called Ædegard. "He has leagues in him yet. Send him on."

Mellondu turned a pleading glance toward the proud rider. "And just how, " he replied, "do I do that?"

Ædegard burst out laughing. Liornung and Bella and Argeleafa looked over, some surprised, Liornung worried; but Mellondu dropped the reins and spread his arms wide, with a good-natured, helpless laugh of his own. "Please, someone have pity on me, and tell me how to make this beast obey?"

Far ahead, the elves and rangers turned in surprise as a loud burst of rohirric laughter glittered over the frozen plains. Moments later, the riders of Rohan had rallied around Echo. Bella took one of Echo's reins; Liornung and Argeleafa rode to Echo's near and off side; and coming up on Echo's flank, Ædegard gave a stern warning, and then the flat of his hand landed, smack, on Echo's rump.

They caught up shortly thereafter. The rohirrim did not stray from Mellondu's side til they made camp; nor did Mellndu care for Echo alone, not that night, nor many nights thereafter.
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Old 01-25-2005, 07:29 PM   #635
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Dark-Eye Maegeleb & Raefindan

"You see, Raefindan," said Maegeleb, who still walked ahead of him, "it is not so with Elves as with Men. We do not need the - what is your word? Ah, yes - mechanisms that you need. Once we know how something is done, we can achieve it by the power of our will, especially that which has to do with thought."

"Aren't we special."

"Roy Edwards, I am disappointed. Where is your nobility? Where your sunny disposition, as you call it?"

"I am your slave. They are the only things that could escape to freedom."

"You are not yet my utter slave. But that shall be rectified. Now." Maegeleb turned and faced him. Roy felt his mind invaded. Then nothing.

"You are asleep. Open your eyes. Good. Tell me your name."

"Roy Edwards."

"Where are you from?"

"Erie, Pennsylvania."

"What year is it?"

"Two thousand four."

"Do you know where you are?"

"No. Yes."

"Tell me where you are."

"I am in Anorien of Gondor."

"How did you get here?"

"I don't know."

"Walk in a circle around me." Maegeleb watched as the redheaded man did as he was told. This is good. Very good. Men will be easily turned. Elves, not so. But so many Men against two or three Elves? Maegeleb smiled. And Nimrodel herself? She and her serving maid can be made to believe whatever I wish. His smile widened and his eyes burned with a feral brightness.
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Old 01-29-2005, 09:21 AM   #636
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Nightfall

As they made camp, Ædegard explained much regarding horses and their habits to Mellondu. Ravion cared for Gond, chatting with Erundil, and occasionally speaking with Aeron. Meanwhile Mellonin was left alone with her thoughts, which did not make her happy.

The pair that caught her attention was the Wayfarer lad and the Gondorian lass. Why the Gondorian lass walked with the Rohirrim she did not know, and what interest she found in the young wayfarer puzzled her. She watched them for a while. As they cared for their horses, Bella saw Mellonin staring. Bella smiled, and Mellonin smiled in return.

They joined her when their horses were settled. Mellonin studied the Wayfarer lad, puzzled by his easterling features and his elvish dress. Bella spoke. "You have met Nethwador."

Mellonin nodded. "Hello."

"Mae... Gonvannen?" he replied.

"Sindarin. Very nice. I did not know the Wayfarers spoke our tongue."

"Nay, but the elves have taught him a little, " Bella answered. "Nethwador was taught by the plains and the wild, else."

"I thought the Wayfarers were a tribe, " Mellonin frowned.

"Amroth said he found Nethwador quite alone, but for his horse, " Bella answered.

Mellonin studied Bella next. "I have heard others mention Amroth, but Mellondu will not speak of him, " Mellonin said.

"Oh, if only Mellondu would welcome Amroth back. I do not know what will become of him now, " Bella said.

"Where did he go?" Mellonin asked, puzzled. "Did my brother send him away?"

"Mellon Amroth!" said Nethwador.

"Your pardon?" Mellonin wondered.

"Yes, I am afraid that he did, " Bella replied. "I think your brother was quite angry with Amroth, for your sake. I am not sure that I understand why."

"Wasn't all that talk about the mad blacksmith related to Amroth? But my brother is not mad, as you see; he was merely lost. What did it all mean?"

"Perhaps, " said Bella, "you should sit down."
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Old 01-29-2005, 04:49 PM   #637
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Mellonin brushed snow from a log and took her seat there. Bellyn sat next to the young lady, and Nethwador stood by, watching.

“You asked what it all meant,” Bellyn reminded Mellonin. When she nodded, Bellyn sighed and glanced over her shoulder at Mellondu-Amroth. “Maybe I am not the best person to ask, because it still confuses me some as well.”

Mellonin said naught, but followed Bellyn’s gaze to where her brother spoke with Ædegard. Bellyn recognized the look in Mellonin’s eyes. She knew of the worry and doubt. Bellyn hated how often she had felt helpless since leaving home – she felt a lonely onlooker who could no sooner help her friends than help herself.

“I could tell you all I know, though,” Bellyn said, hoping to relieve Mellonin from some of the invisible weight on her shoulders.

“Thank you,” Mellonin murmured softly, turning back to look blankly at Nethwador as she waited for Bellyn to speak once more.

“When I left home, it was with Liornung, and indeed to search for some mad blacksmith,” Bellyn started, sifting through her memories to decide which would be most important to Mellonin. Still unsure, Bellyn ran a finger through the layer of powdery snow on the ground. “On the way we met Ædegard, and we quickly found the mad blacksmith. The one you call Mellondu – the one who is your brother. He called himself Amroth when we first met him.” Bellyn paused, trying to figure where she should continue.

“I do not understand,” Mellonin cut in.

“Amroth…Mellondu…they are the same, I think,” Bellyn tried to keep her voice calm for Mellonin’s widening eyes. “One and the same, and yet not so. Amroth seeks his betrothed; Amroth seeks Nimrodel. Mellondu…I know not why he has returned.”

“Returned?” Mellonin questioned.

“I think Mellondu searched for you,” Bellyn answered. “Then his quest became Amroth’s. He came back when we were taken – taken by those things, those merlocks. I know not why he pushed away the mind of Amroth.”

“What are you trying to say?” Mellonin asked again.

“Mellon Amroth!” Nethwador repeated.

“Your brother was never crazy or mad,” Bellyn murmured. “But he was lost. He was lost to Amroth – lost to the strength of Amroth. I know not when Amroth will return. Now that your brother is found, it is Amroth who is lost, I think.”
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Old 01-30-2005, 07:15 PM   #638
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Liornung was smiling as he absently listened to Bella's tale. He knew it already, but he enjoyed to here her sweet young voice relating what had happened, and how. Her tones were mostly indifferent, as if she had not experienced all that she was telling, but when she spoke of the merlocks there was the slightest little catch in her voice, and he saw that that memory was still near to her.

Yes, he listened to her, but not keenly. His attentions were fixed mostly upon Nethwador. He was watching the young wayfarer boy, and trying to pretend he wasn't. What devotion the silent boy had for that slim young girl perched upon the log. He looked at her adoringly, longingly. Would he be made happy? Would he gain the desire of his heart that only Bella could give him... Bella herself?

"You tell the tale well, sweet Bella," said Liornung, when she had finished. "It is always a welcome thing when I can sit and listen, rather than speak myself. It's a rare day when it comes."

"I fear I haven't explained clearly enough," said Bella.

"You explained it better than I could," said Liornung, "and the thing itself is so wondrous that even a master of tales could not make it wholly clear." He smiled, first at Bellyn, and then at Mellonin. "It does my old eyes good to see you two fair maids sitting together. You, Bella, have been caught up between the Rohirric and the wayfarers, and it has been a long while since you have seen one of your own kind."

"I did not mind it," said Bella. "What did it matter to me if you were Rohirric? You have been as good and loyal to me as any of my own kind."

"Maybe so," said Liornung, colouring under her kind words, "but you cannot say it is not sweet for you to meet another from Gondor. And I, Miss Mellonin, am pleased to meet another. I have learned from sweet Bella more than I have from others in all my travellings, that Gondorians are fair and kind. I have no doubt of finding you so also, and, ah! but it is a fine thing to see our company growing greater... I hope we shall also grow greater in friendship."

He spoke slightly absently, for he was again thinking of Nethwador, and this time with a face lacking in some worry. Bellyn did not seem to mind that the members of the company Rohirric, Gondorian, wayfarer, or Elf... perhaps there was some larger hope for Nethwador than it had previously seemed.
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Old 02-02-2005, 03:19 PM   #639
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Liornung's gaze rested often on the easterling in elvish garb, and Mellonin watched with interest. But she was the more confused, as he kept insisting "Mellon Amroth."

"What do you mean by that? Do you mean that my brother is Amroth, or that Amroth is Mellon?" she asked.

"Nethwador mellon Amroth."

Mellonin only looked more confused, and Bella spoke. "His Sindarin is lacking, but his friendship with Amroth was not. He speaks of his own heart."

"You knew him?" asked Mellonin.

"We all did. But please, " said Bella, "let us not continue to speak of him as if he were dead!"
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Old 02-04-2005, 06:33 PM   #640
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Sting Ædegard

The sun had set hours ago. The fire crackled and flamed brightly. The stars watched them from high above, giving little guidance.

Ædegard sat beside Leafa, and she beside Liornung. Between betrothed and father she sits. He knew that Liornung was not her real father, of course, but it seemed that she always looked to Liornung for safety and protection. What did she look for from him? Hope of a future? Such a thing was not to be. He knew all over again that he could not keep her, could not provide for her. His oath had stripped away all misty dreams and brought home the stark reality. Handless, he was worth nothing, except to take vengeance for them all on the swamp elf. He reached for Leafa's left hand with his good one. Her hand was cold. He would have chafed some warmth back into it, but how could he?

"Leafa, I ...." Now that it was there to say, he found that he could not bring himself to it. Be a man! "Without two hands I cannot be a wheelwright. 'Tis what I learned to do. Once this quest is over, I will have to go beggaring until I can learn a new trade."

She watched him with wide open eyes, uncertainty growing on her face. She said nothing.

"I would not trammel you with a cripple, dear Leafa. I should not take you to wife."

Hurt came to her face straightway; then suspicion. "Is this because of your oath?"

He shook his head. "No. I have thought this way ever since I lost my hand, though I began to hope vainly while we were in the house of Marigold. I swore my oath because it seemed needful and right. Since then I have seen my situation more clearly, and have come back around to my first, true thought. I can never be the husband you need."

She frowned and became cross. "Because you miss a hand?"

At that moment, Taitheneb and Erebemlin rose as one, looking off to the south. "Who goes there?" they cried together.

From the distance Ædegard heard a voice cry, "It is I, Maegeleb! I bring Raefindan with me! I come in peace, to give myself into your hands."

The Elves stared at each other for a brief moment, then each took bow in hand and nocked an arrow.

"I see you!" Erebemlin yelled. "Stop there and let the red haired man come to us. You will come when I say you may."

Ædegard's heart thudded and his hand went to the sword hilt at his side. The time for vengeance was upon him.
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