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Old 03-28-2005, 12:07 PM   #681
Imladris
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Tolkien

Aeron tossed a twig into the fire, a small frown on his face. Bella's song echoed in his mind, and he wondered what to do. The company wasn't at all pleasant, the elves were cold and distant like hard, beautiful gems; Ædegard and Leafa were to be married, that was good, he supposed. But where should he go? Everything was finished, all was said and done was it not? Well, save for the fact that Nimrodel was not united to Amroth...

And now they were heading to Minas Tirith -- that was not good. Aeron fidgeted uncomfortably in the saddle, looking behind him once and again as if expecting to see the dark form of the merchant trailing behind them. He could not go back to Minas Tirith. In fact, he refused to even without the problem of the merchant to be considered. Even though it was hard to admit, he would miss Gwyllion far too much in that home, he could not bear the pain of living in that old shack of theirs....he would not forget her by leaving, but he would not miss her so much either if he left and lived in another town...

Around him, the company had lapsed into silence, tired by the day's hard travelling. The elves stood silently on the fringe of the fire light, Mellonin and Mellondu were murmuring quietly to themselves, Ravion stood aloof, and Bella and Nethwador huddled close to the fire. Standing Aeron said, "I am going to get more wood for the fire."

He shambled away from the fire, easing himself from the fire's light. If they so much suspected what he was doing, they would catch him instantly, and drag him to that horrible city. He slipped into the shadows and crept away until he could not longer see the cheerful glow of the fire.

It was well that it happened like this, he told himself as he lurked in the shadows, shivering in the chill night. He had always been a tag along, an inconvenience...now they would be rid of him for good. He should have left long ago, he mused....broken oath with Ravion and fled with his sister... He laughed bitterly. No, he could not have done that. An oath was not mere words to be uttered in the wind -- even a miserable thief such as he knew that.
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Old 03-29-2005, 06:17 PM   #682
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Insufferable humans...

Everyday we are coming closer to the white city, Silmaethor. Taitheneb waited for a reply, but did not receive it. Erebemlin knew exactly where they were and how close they were to Minas Tirith. After several moments, the younger Elf continued. Will we go into the city to replenish our supplies?

Nay, Nimrodel is not within its walls, so we shall not grace them either. Actually, Erebemlin was unsure what would happen when they came close to the city. Amroth’s mission must be continued, but if he did not resurface soon…the Elf knew not what the young Blacksmith would do. He wanted to stay clear of the city so the man was not tempted to return to his family and relinquish the quest.

“Has anyone seen, Aeron?” Bella’s voice interrupted the Elves private conversation, and they both turned curiously over their shoulders to face the fire.

“I heard him say something about getting wood, but…” Mellonin looked over both of her shoulders and squinted into the dark beyond the firelight. “That was some time ago,” she said after several moments.

Taitheneb raised his eyebrows and turned his eyes toward Erebemlin. The tall Elf tightened his jaw and audibly exhaled through his flaring nostrils.

“Should we look for him?” Leafa inquired innocently.

“No,” Erebemlin snapped, not necessarily at the young Rohirrim, but at the whole mortal race. “We have left the dangers of the swamps behind. If the foolish boy wishes to leave the group and cause trouble…leave him to it.”

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Old 04-03-2005, 04:57 PM   #683
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Shield Ædegard

As they rode south toward Minas Tirith, Ædegard thought back to his last conversation with Leafa. "It depends upon Mellondu. I took up this quest for his sake. If he deems that it is done, then we can go. If not, then I owe it to him to see this through. Does that sound right to you?" She had nodded mutely.

The youth, Aeron had been left behind, or perhaps left to wander ahead of them, for all they knew. They did not know where he was, and would not search for him. The Elf, Erebemlin, had made it clear that he did not care to have someone with the group who could not be there with all his heart. Ædegard sighed. It was time for him to speak with Mellondu. He urged his mount forward until he was riding by Mellondu's side.

"Mellondu," Ædegard said, "what of -" Ædegard frowned, having forgotten what he had been about to say. He knew what he meant to ask, but the words had slipped away.

"What of ...what?" Mellondu grinned. "Has love addled your brain?"

Ædegard grinned back. "Maybe. It is that of which I wish to speak. Where do you go now? What of -" he forgot again what he had been about to say, and struggled to put into words what had fled from his mind. "-what of that which we have been busy with these last weeks?"
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Old 04-03-2005, 08:06 PM   #684
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Mellondu's smile faded, and his lips pressed together into a thin line.

"What of these last weeks?" He glanced down at Ædegard's hand even as Ædegard moved to cover it. Shaking his head, he looked to Minas Tirith.

"These last weeks. Busy? Busy leading my sister all over the west bank of the great river, in and out of swamps. Swamps haunted by dark elves and worse." He gave a snort of disgust. Mellonin tightened her grip around his waist, and he placed one hand over hers. "Nightmares sleeping, nightmares waking, and frightened parents worrying at home. Leafa, wounded. Your hand gone. And... the thief's sister, dead. Dead. And for what?"

Ædegard waited uneasily.

"I have wandered enough, and caused enough grief. It is time I went home, " said Mellondu.

Mellonin looked away, trying not to seem too satisfied or happy. Nevertheless his brother sensed her relief.

Minas Tirith beckoned, shining in the afternoon sun. One more day, perhaps two, and they would be home.

"You will come and meet my parents?" Mellondu asked Ædegard. "They have little room, but they would want to meet you, of that I am certain."

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Old 04-05-2005, 08:56 AM   #685
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Mellondu waited for Ædegard's response, but the Rider seemed lost in thought, and the rythm of hoofbeats caused his own thoughts to wander. He let his gaze rove over the plains.

Behind him Mellonin sang softly.

Agony,
Can you cleanse this misery?
For never again will I breathe,
The air of home…


"Could you sing something more cheerful?" Mellondu said irritably.

"I like it. It's pretty, " she replied, with a tone of finality in her voice.

Usually he yeilded to that tone. But not today. "Please sing something else, " he said.

"Why?"

"I am not in the mood for that song right now."

"All right, " she said, annoyed. And for a while, she sang something else; but invariably, she wandered back to Bella's song.

The rolling sea breaks my revenge.
With each whisper – a thousand waves...


"So, " said Mellondu, turning to the young Wayfarer lass, "have you ever seen the White City?"

She shook her head, and muttered something inaudible.

The sun set, and they prepared camp. However Mellondu tried, he could not get Bella's song out of his head. He lay sleepless most of the night, glaring at the stars. When morning came he was exhausted. As he mounted and swung towards the White City, he muttered, "Once I find my old bed, I'm not leaving it. I will not leave the Pelennor walls!"

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tharonwe smiling, and he muttered again. "I'll be glad to leave that murderous rogue behind."
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Old 04-05-2005, 06:54 PM   #686
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Shield Ædegard

The winter sun was at mid-morning as they rode closer to Minas Tirith; they could see the highest towers far in the distance now.

"I did not mean to leave you without an answer for a whole day, my friend," Ædegard said to Mellondu the next morning. "I am eager to seek out Leafa's father, and truth be told, I had been hoping for your word that this -" he forgot once again what he had been about to say. "- that it was time go part ways."

Mellondu frowned. "If that is your will."

"Nay! I would be honored to meet your folks. Is that not so, Leafa?"
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Old 04-06-2005, 09:46 AM   #687
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Nethwador glanced at Mellondu, who seemed particularly gloomy and irritable. How different he was from Amroth!

Perhaps Amroth will never return.

It was a sad thought. He disliked it, and tried to fight it. But it came to him again and again. Nethwador sighed.

He thought of Bella, and that cheered him. Her arms were around his waist. Sometimes she laid her head on hisshoulder, and then he trembled with joy. Bella was not irritable or gloomy; she smiled a lot. Her smiles were uncertain, but as sweet as ever. He turned to her for reassurance, speaking softly. "Nethwador mellon Bella. "

Bella smiled at him.

He spoke again. "Nethwador mellon Amroth."

Her smile faded. She whispered sadly to him. "Nethwador, what if Amroth does not return?"

His eyes grew wide as his stomach sank. Placing one hand over hers, he tried to shake off the uneasy feeling. What if it was true? What if Amroth did not return? Nethwador missed the King. He tried to remember what Amroth's company had been like. But the memory that came was the Merlocks. He shuddered, and gripped Bella's hand more tightly.

She must be kept safe. he had been terribly careless, leaving her. He would not leave her again.
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Old 04-10-2005, 12:41 PM   #688
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1420!

Leafa had given her demur assent to Ædegard's query. From then until sunset, all of them traveled in silence except for mumured conversation between each pair on horse.

As the sun set they came into a new settlement a day's ride out from Minas Tirith. It was a little crowded place on the road between Minas Tirith and Edoras, just at the northeastern toe of the White Mountains. The gate they passed through named the settlement, Forodway, which was an odd admixture of Eldaran and Common, meaning North Way; which was true enough. There was an inn there, the sign over which bore the outline of four diminutive two-legged smiling figures, arm in arm and mugs in hand; about the outline was painted in white, "The Four Merry Halflings". They rode in, staked their horses before the stables, and went inside to a bustling, crowded common room.

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Old 04-12-2005, 09:54 PM   #689
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Silmaril Raefindan

"The Four Merry Halflings" was the name on the sign outside. Not a hobbit to be seen anywhere. Yes, it was a fete of praise toward the Four Famous Perinnath through whom it was said the War had been won, but it seemed somehow empty to Raefindan. Not that the room was empty. For such a small town, its status as a new crossroads village meant that there were passers-through constantly, on some king's business or for trade ... or thievery.

Roy sat at table with the other humans; the Elves did not deign to sit with them, choosing instead to remain under the stars. Erebemlin had said that he did not want Tharonwe at loose amongst the easily swayed crowd within. Maybe so.

Thinking of thievery set Roy to thinking of Aeron. What had become of him? And why had Erebemlin written the boy off? Because he is more trouble than the looking after him is worth. Those were not the exact words of Erebemlin, but it was his meaning. Raefindan thought it harsh, unmerciful, pitiless. Maybe Aeron deserved such treatment, but what of that? Had not the recent War revealed the merit of mercy.... even to one such as that Gollum creature?

And what difference have you made, Roy Edwards, since you joined this quest or whatever it is? He heaved a sigh. Too much difference, truth be told, and that was the problem. He was not of this place and time, and he needed to keep from influencing the others. He sighed again. Mellonin noticed.

"What is the matter, Raefindan?" she asked. "You have barely touched your food and drink."

"I am not hungry," he replied. He tried, and failed, to smile. He frowned and rose. "I'm going outside. I need some fresh air."

"Do you want someone to go with you? To talk?" Mellonin asked.

"No, thanks."

He left the common room and went outside. His breath made vapor on the air. He wondered where the three Elves were; but not so much as to go seek them out. The stars were cold and distant. It was disturbing how he could recognize them. Millions of years it takes to change the map of the sky, he considered. The restlessness within did not wane. He began walking, and found himself at the northern edge of the village, just inside the gate.

Jorje was a few days' ride that way, as was this Marigold they spoke of. He wished he could have met her, spoken with her. Maybe she could have provided answers, or at least clues, to his recent experiences.

A man came out of a booth sitting at the side of the road, and walked up to him, nodding amiably.

"Greetings, friend! Do you wait for someone?"

"Nay, friend. I was just walking, and found myself here."

"Staying at the Hobbit Hole?"

Roy grinned. So the inn already had a nickname. He liked the nickname better than the original. "Yes."

"Best be moving along back there. The night will be getting cold, I wager, and though safe enough in these days of the King, one never knows what rascals may be just beyond these walls after dark."

"Is it that late already?"

"'Tis close to the middle of the night. Most honest folk are abed already, though the same cannot be said for the many travelers who pass through; seems they take this place as a chance for their follies."

Roy smiled. "Well, I'm in no mood for follies this night. I think I'll make my way back to the Hobbit Hole and warm up a bed."

"Good night to you then."

Roy waved goodnight and made his way back to the inn. They had been shown their rooms early, and he knew which bed awaited him. He was soon in bed, and though he had not thought it likely, was soon asleep.

"You have come again at last!" The dark haired woman rose from the lawn carpet in the midst of the garden, and looked up to him, standing at the edge of the lawn. It was Mithrellas. "Imrazôr, what has kept you away?"

"I am not-"

She was suddenly wroth. "Do not say you are not he! I can see with my own eyes that you are! What has kept you away?"

"I do not know."

"Come to me!"

The love in her eyes should have drawn him to her, but he did not know her except in dreams. How could she mistake him for her love? Nevertheless, it could not do great harm to walk toward a dream ... could it? He approached her.

She looked into his face, her red lips curved into a smile. She extended her hands toward him, and not able to think of a good reason not to, he reached his hands up toward hers as he approached, and their hands clasped. The soft warmth of her skin beneath his shook him, for with her touch, memories flooded into his mind, and with them, his heart opened to her, for she was in the most precious of those memories.

She smiled. "You remember at last."

"I do. You are ... my love!" His words came out in a breath; but he was troubled, for he was aware of himself at once as Imrazôr, and as Raefindan, and as Roy Edwards. Had he been Imrazôr in truth? Or was this only a dream? If he had come back to life as Roy, then come to Gondor again as Raefindan, did he not have to be an Elf? Or was the Law all changed after the passing of the Ring? He shook his head, unable to do a thing with all the confused questions running through his mind. Of one thing he was suddenly sure. He did love Mithrellas, and was happy to be near her.

"Come this way, my love," she said, and led him to a clear pool, the moon shining bright and full above them; it had been a new moon as he had walked in the new town. He peered over the edge, and saw himself; not the face of Roy Edwards, or of Raefindan, which two were basically the same. He was Imrazôr.

"Then I must be dreaming."

"What of that?" she replied. "It does not change the truth of what is."


His eyes opened suddenly. It was quiet. And dark. The other men were sleeping in other beds in the room, some snoring gently. Dreaming does not change the truth of what is?" If that is so, then what?
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Old 04-15-2005, 10:17 PM   #690
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Silmaril Raefindan

The group had gotten up with the dawn, broken their fast, readied their mounts, and were trotting across the plain toward Minas Tirith before the sun had gotten much higher than the Ephel Duath.

Dreaming does not change the truth of what is. If that is so, then what? The question had been on Roy's mind all morning. Mithrellas meant that though I was dreaming that I was with her, it did not change what happened between us in the dream. And it had happened. Somehow he was Imrazôr; at least to Mithrellas. Well, no. Roy didn't accept relativistic nuances. Either a thing was, or it wasn't; one could not have it both ways just by choosing to believe or not. Mithrellas was real. And the memories that were still with Roy, of himself as Imrazôr, husband of his beloved Mithrellas, were real. So apparently he actually had been Imrazór. The thought crowded his head with cottony confoundment. It could not be! It had to be! How could it be? As easily plum the depths of unified field theory! Roy shook his head fretfully.

"What is the matter, Raefindan?" asked Mellonin, her arms wrapped around her brother; they rode just a little behind and to his right.

"Oh, I had a dream. I'm trying to make sense of it."

"Tell me. Maybe I can help."

Roy screwed up his face. "I need to think on it some more before I speak of it."

"As you wish." She looked disappointed.

Roy smiled. "I promise to tell you before anyone else."

She grinned and clapped Mellondu's belly since her arms were not long enough to reach around her brother and clap.

"Use me for a drum, will you," Mellondu grated amiably. "I have been within earshot of your promise, and so must claim first right with my sister."

"As you will, Mellondu," Roy smiled, and fell silent again.

If last night's dream was real, maybe I have made too much of Tharonwe's word that I am dreaming this quest with Mellonin and the others. What if he is as right as Mithrellas, despite his motives? Maybe this is just as true and real as last night's dream! In which case, maybe I am here and now for a reason; and if so, it must be the same reason as my dream of Mithrellas! The cottony confoundment gave way to sudden clarity, as if a thunderclap had provided an exclamation point to a downpour, leaving everything fresh, cleansed of all confusion.

Amroth and Nimrodel!

That is the whole reason why I am here! It must be!

"What?" Mellondu was looking at him, curious; Roy had been staring at him for the last few seconds. He urged his horse closer to Mellondu and Mellonin.

"Let me tell you about my dream." He related it to them.

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Old 04-18-2005, 07:42 PM   #691
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Raefindan

After Roy had finished his tale, Mellondu scowled. "Tell me no more dreams," he said curtly.

"But it fits with the others!" cried Mellonin.

"I care not. All I want is home and hearth and father and mother and you, and friends. That is enough. Oh, and my forge."

"A forge and Jorje," Roy murmured. Mellonin snickered.

"What?" asked Mellondu.

"Oh, I miss Jorje. Why - no. I know why he stayed. He wanted to. I shall have to go see him, and this Marigold sometime."

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

The day passed without much conversation or event, except that the group passed Ramath Echor at midday, and soon the first stream. Minas Tirith grew large before them. They came to the second stream, which formed the northern bounds of the former battlefield of Pelennor. The city rose tall before them, and they could make out the flag of Elessar flapping in a brisk wind from the north, high above on the level of the White Tree.

They turned right at the crossroads, passed through the Great Gate, and wound their way up the narrow streets, each one of them showing signs of the rebirth that Elessar had brought with his reign. Finally they came to the Inn of the Seventh Star, and halted. Raefindan looked to Mellondu and Mellonin.

"Will you go on to see your folk this night?"
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:03 PM   #692
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Mellonin nodded. "Come with us, " she said brightly.

Mellondu shushed her. "They barely have room for us! And we shall not stay there long. Raefindan, I mean no offense, of course. But Mellonin and I shall sleep on the flloors as it is. You will do better to stay here, and have a bed!"

Mellonin's face fell. She could not deny it. "But you'll come tomorrow, " she continued stubbornly.

Mellondu glanced from Mellonin to the elf-lord, and back. Mellonin wondered that the elves had entered the city, after saying that they would not. Taitheneb gazed up at the Tower of Ecthelion. "Silmaethor, we could leave this wretch with the King."

Erebemlin said nothing; his thoughts were withdrawn, and he looked weary. The turn of a shoulder was Taitheneb's only answer, and Maegeleb looked satisfied.

"Do come in the morning, " said Mellonin. Mellondu led Echo to Ædegard, and said, "Thank you, friend. You have been most kind. He is an excellent horse."

Ædegard blinked. "Is that all?"

Mellondu shrugged. "Come and see me at the smithy whenever you like, " he said. He extended a hand to Mellonin, who took it. Looking over her shoulder, she said, "Do come by in the morning. Promise you will!" Mellondu quickened his pace, and the two hastened along the curving road out of sight.

Taitheneb listened as their footsteps receeded, and shook his head. Back to the smithy? It hardly seemed possible on the one hand, and on the other, it seemed the only thing to do. And the difference was... what?

Mind closed and lips in a straight line, Erebemlin was grooming his horse as if he would ride him to see the king.

Nethwador looked around the city; he was not sure he liked it. But Bella was nearby. All was well.

The others were all finished caring for their horses. Erebemlin's horse began to shine, and still he brushed and brushed.

Ravion and Erundil broke the silence. "Well, I could drink some ale." "As could I." The menfolk wandered into the Inn. Erebemlin slapped the dust out of the brushes, and started grooming his horse all over again.

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Old 04-21-2005, 08:49 PM   #693
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Silmaril Raefindan

Roy was quiet again that evening. The others seemed to subdued as well. Maybe it was that Mellondu and Mellonin were missing. In a sense, they were the two reasons the rest of them were together.

The Elves were taciturn to the last of them.

Ravion seemed to have gone into a deep, dark place within himself, having barely bid farewell to Mellonin. It was not lost on Roy that Mellondu was suspicious of the ranger and protective of Mellonin. But that was between the three of them.

Ædegard and Leafa kept close to Liornung and Bellyn, the latter of whom was constantly followed by Nethwador, almost doglike in his devotion to her.

Jorje. Roy missed Jorje. He was a good dog. Some of that dog sense might have come in handy in the last few days.

Liornung was the only one who was not so subdued that he could not raise his voice, and sang them songs well into the night.

Roy excused himself and went to bed.

He was in the sward again. Mithrellas looked up and saw him, and rose from Nimrodel's side as he strode toward her. He had seen Nimrodel sitting there, in the middle of the vale, the last time he had dreamed, but Mithrellas and he had been so intent upon each other that they had let her sit in her absorption. It would be different this time.

"How is she?" he asked.

She put her hand in his, and he was stunned by the contact, remembering afresh their married life together, the days and days of joy beneath the eaves of the forests that grew along the shoulders of the mountains. She shook her head sadly, but the smile did not leave her face.

"She is the same as ever." She looked into his eyes. "What of this Maegeleb you spoke of earlier? Why does he not come here with you?"

"I know not." He had forgotten about that one. Reminded, he was sickened by the thought of Nimrodel with that one. He opened his mouth to speak warning, but the warning died on his lips, for he had forgotten what he was going to say.

She placed her fingers on his lips. "Time enough for that. Come, walk with me, Imrazor."

He wondered that she called him that, and wondered more that he accepted the name so readily now. Why not? She had shown him his face, and it was that of her mate; and that was he. They walked slowly amongst the hemlocks and birches that stood sentry around that vale. Their fresh scent filled him, and became part of her presence with him.


He woke in the morning, having forgotten what had passed in the following moments of his dream, sure that it was good, sorrowful that the memory was lost to him. But for the remainder of that day, the image of her face and hair, the smile of her face and the love in her eyes, did not leave him.
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Old 04-23-2005, 07:29 PM   #694
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White Tree Raefindan

After washing up and breaking his fast, Roy discovered that he was to be accompanied by Ædegard and Leafa, as well as Erebemlin. Taitheneb was going to stay with Tharonwe at the Inn, and had asked Erundil to stay with him. Ravion looked to be in no eager mood to go see Mellondu and Mellonin in their own home, sombre in his refusal to join them. Liornung and Bellyn chose to go accompany Raefindan, Ædegard and Leafa; and Nethwador was not about to be separated from Bellyn.

None of them knew where Mellondu and Mellonin lived, not from memory; they had directions from the proprietor of the Seven Stars, and with only a small bit of difficulty found their way to the home of Mellondu and Mellonin after a little more than an hour, half way to noon. Roy knocked. After a moment, the door opened.

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Old 05-05-2005, 11:38 AM   #695
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As the door opened, Leafa, who was towards the back of the group, wondered rather anxiously when her own father would tire of the wayfarer life and return home. She could imagine now how she would bring Ædegard to see her parents... how her mother and father would be so courteous to him... yet they would be watching him so closely... and her mother would look at her every so often with a very faint shadow of sorrow in her eyes.

"It must be hard to be a mother, Liornung," she said, with a little sigh.

"I suppose so," said Liornung, and his tones were so absent that Leafa looked up in surprise. His eyes were fixed on the ground, but it was as if he did not see it, so vague were they. Concern was written across his face in no uncertain lines, and he was fidgeting restlessly where he stood. Leafa gazed wide-eyed at him, and at last he sighed and turned towards her. "Hello, Leafa," he said with a little smile.

She barely managed to smile back. Something was terribly wrong with him, and she wished she knew what it was. That troubled look in his eyes...

She lifted her shoulders slightly and dropped them again, feeling dejected now, and turned her attention back to the door.
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Old 05-08-2005, 04:57 AM   #696
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He lay, shackled and bound, unable to move even his head. Gazing upward he saw branches, and he knew their form; he was lying on his own flet, a prisoner in his own home. Why could he not move? Why could he not turn his head? A slow but heavy wind blew steadily out of the east; it stank. Westward was the waterfall; he listened; he could not hear. Wait. From far off drifted a note, a sweet song. he shut his eyes, and listened. Nothing; the wind from the east drove the song away. Wait; there it was again; another note. She was there. She was singing. Again the slow, stinking wind stole away the beloved whisper of song; he gritted his teeth. He would not despair. She was there.

If only he could go to her.


Mellondu gazed glassy-eyed at the crowd beyond the door. He had slept deeply and woken exhausted, as if he had strained every muscle. His body ached. His head swam.

He heard Mellonin chattering excitedly, welcoming each visitor. The room filled and filled. His parents were kind, welcoming, a little overwhelmed, and Mellondu felt indignant; how did Mellonin think they would feed all these folk? Worry mixed with welcome in his mother's eyes, and his sister's thoughtlessness annoyed him.

Rohirrim and the red-haired man chatted and greeted, but Mellondu was uneasy. Suddenly, with a frown, he pressed through the crowded bodies and went to the door. Around the corner beside the door as if standing guard stood the tall elf. Mellondu's weary anger came to the fore.

"What are you doing here?"
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:14 PM   #697
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Ravion

Ravion sat by the hearth with his ale, staring sullenly into the flames. He was alone save for Erundil and Taitheneb, who had stayed to watch Tharonwe, he seemed to think, though he was not sure. He shook his head slowly, then gazed into his mug with disgust.

"You look contemplative." Ravion sighed deeply and turned around, fixing hostile eyes on Erundil.

"Shouldn't you be watching that swamp creature?" the younger Ranger snapped irritably, raising the mug to his lips only to put it back down again. He kept his eyes on the mug, though, unwilling to make any more eye contact with his erstwhile tutor. He knew that it would not deter Erundil, but he did not have to listen.

"I told Taitheneb that I was coming down. I will be brief, much to his relief and yours." There was an infuriating touch of amusement in Erundil's voice that rubbed Ravion entirely the wrong way.

"Then be brief and leave me to my contemplation," Ravion growled, still refusing to meet Erundil's eyes.

Erundil sat by Ravion, much to the younger man's dismay. "You should go to Mellonin."

"Be quiet."

"You should talk to her."

"Be quiet!"

"If you do not do it now, you will regret it."

Ravion jumped up, splashing his ale all over the hearth. He ignored the glares from the bartender. "What do you know about this? Nothing. You cannot understand."

Erundil gazed calmly at Ravion. "Perhaps not. I have spent too much time here as it is; but listen to this. You have succeeded in your mission--you did for her what you promised to do. You found her brother. Perhaps it is time to go on a mission for yourself. Find something for yourself, Ravion. Perhaps you have finally earned a little happiness."

Erundil went back to join Taitheneb, leaving Ravion slightly stunned in his wake. The younger Ranger watched Erundil's back until he was out of sight, then looked down at the ground. He was baffled by Erundil's words. He liked to think that he was right in saying that Erundil knew nothing, but...

But...what if he is right? What if I will regret not speaking to Mellonin?

Thoughts raced through his head at high speed, bouncing off of each other and filling his mind with meaningless noise. He grabbed his mug of ale, and set it down with determination on a table. Then he went up to the bar and put his money down on the counter...

...And ran out of the inn.

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Old 05-18-2005, 10:51 PM   #698
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Aeron crouched in the shadows peering at the glimmering white city of Minas Tirith. He had said that he wouldn't come back, but now he knew that this had been foolishness. Minas Tirith was his home, Gwyllion's home...he could not leave it behind.

He felt like a twig drifting aimlessly in a pond. He did not know what to do now after his wanderings. He was a thief, he could continue to steal, but why do that when there was no reason to do so? Gwyllion was dead. And, somehow...after everything they had gone through, returning to the life of a common petty thief would be like throwing a choice gem into the mud and then trampling upon it. He had seen true nobility in Raefindan and the ranger, he admitted grungingly.

With a dismal sigh, he rose to his feet and crept into the city, gliding amid the shadows. He did not know if the company had already come and gone, niether did he care. He thought that maybe he could rejoin, but he did not think he would be wanted...not that he cared a fig about that. At any rate, what would he do after Amroth and Nimrodel were re-united? The problem would only be delayed and he wanted it solved now. Helping two lovers reunite was hardly the answer to anything, he speculated.

He came across the Inn, and pressed closely to the side of one window, and peered in. He saw the ranger, Ravion, and one of the elves -- he forgot their names -- he was surprised that they could remember their own names considering how difficult it was to say them.

Suddenly, an awkward knot twisted in his stomach, and dropped to his knees in the shadows. He did not want to be seen -- he had run off...like...well, like a dog. But what did he have to do with them? he thought desperately. Why did he care what they thought...he shouldnt care. But yet he did...

Heavy footsteps pounded on the dirt, and Aeron glanced up to see Ravion run out the Inn, his fingers running through his black hair. He looked as if he was thinking about something important that he couldn't quite make up his mind about.

Now, what could be occupying Ravion so Aeron could not possibly imagine. Surely everything was alright with their company -- he couldn't possibly imagine what could be bothering them with barrels of mead and fine wine and a lovely night at their fingertips.

Rising quickly to his feet, Aeron tapped the ranger on the shoulder and said, "It's a good thing you didn't have anything remotely valuable on your person or else I would already be sneaking off in the darkness with it." A smile played on his lips. "Of course, even if you did I wouldn't -- if I did you and Raefindan and Mellonin would in all likelyhood pour another bucket of water over my head or ask me for my obedience instead of turning me into the authorities..." his voice trailed off and he grinned half heartedly at the ranger.
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Old 05-23-2005, 10:31 PM   #699
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Ravion

You are a fool to chase after her.

If I don't, I'll never know what would have come of it.

If you do, you'll know the heartbreak that will certainly come of it.

I must know.

You must suffer. You must always punish yourself.

I must know this!


Ravion's pace slackened under the weight of his thoughts, until he was barely more than jogging. He was not very far from the Inn, but he felt as though he had run a marathon. His green eyes darted all over, as though trying to catch sight of the decision that eluded him. Mellonin's dark eyes danced in his mind, but also Mellondu's hostility. Perhaps the brother was right to keep Ravion away...what did he have to offer Mellonin?

A tap on the shoulder startled him, and he reached for his sword before he saw the wan smile of Aeron. "It's a good thing you didn't have anything remotely valuable on your person or else I would already be sneaking off in the darkness with it." Ravion frowned, and Aeron smiled a little more. "Of course, even if you did I wouldn't -- if I did you and Raefindan and Mellonin would in all likelyhood pour another bucket of water over my head or ask me for my obedience instead of turning me into the authorities..." There was something very slightly sad in Aeron's manner that bothered Ravion, and provided a blessed distraction from his current troubles.

"Well met, Aeron thief-lord," Ravion said with a touch of a smile, extending his hand to the boy. Aeron looked at it for a moment, and then took it. "You look...well. I trust you have not come across too much trouble since leaving our company--though I do not doubt that if you wanted it, you could have stirred up some of your own." Through his sarcasm, Ravion was pleased to see the boy unharmed. He knew that Aeron could take care of himself, but while the boy was grieving over his sister, Ravion had feared for him some.

Also, it took his mind off of Mellonin for a while, at least...
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:54 PM   #700
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Tolkien

"You look...well. I trust you have not come across too much trouble since leaving our company--though I do not doubt that if you wanted it, you could have stirred up some of your own."

Aeron sniggered and then fell silent. He felt slightly awkward standing here in the cold night and wondering what was bothering Ravion. "All that troubled me were memories, and there is naught to fear from memories." Aeron stopped and sighed, before flopping down to the ground and staring at the stars.

"My sister heard that the stars had names," he told Ravion as he plucked a long strand of grass and began to chew it. "I never was much interested in that," he added. "All they are are jeweles in the sky, and the friend of elves."

Aeron stopped...he knew he was rambling and he hated it when people rambled. Rambling was nothing but the urge to talk. He never understood why people hated silence...silence was not a bad thing, not a thing to be avoided. Yet it did feel awkward all the same...

"So tell me, Ravion, what brings you out on a night like this, when there is a jolly fire in the Inn with sweet lasses bringing you delicious mugs of spiced wine?"
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Old 05-28-2005, 10:21 AM   #701
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Erebemlin's response

"What are you doing here?" asked Mellondu.

Erebemlin regarded the young human smith with a penetrating gaze. He was little more than a boy, but looked overtired and none too well at the moment. That was not the Elf's concern. Rather, this boy was the chosen vessel of Lord Amroth, blessed by Mandos himself to seek his love, Nimrodel. It was Erebemlin's duty to see that the quest not be waylaid by the fanciful whims, petty jealousies, or nearsighted sense of right and wrong, of a mere human boy.

"I am here to call you to your duty."

Overhearing Erebemlin's words, Mellondu's father and mother came close to see the one who made such a claim, and were surprised that it was an Elf, tall and lordly.

"Who is this, Mellondu," asked his father, "and to what duty does he call you?"
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Old 06-03-2005, 10:09 PM   #702
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Ravion

"You know that no spiced wine could be as delightful as your company," Ravion replied dryly. "And--" he began, but cut himself off abruptly. Aeron tilted his head and glanced penetratingly at the Ranger, who scowled. "And it is a fine night to be out, in any case," he ended a bit lamely.

"Of course," Aeron said, his tone mocking, nodding his head sagely. "A fine night."

"And my past experiences in inns have somewhat ruined my taste for them," Ravion added, glaring at the boy. Aeron simply grinned.

They stood in silence a while, Aeron shivering a bit, Ravion getting quite cold but refusing to shiver. It was then that Aeron said, quietly, "I hope you don't soak my head for saying so, but I think that you're missing a lass almost as much as I am."

Ravion whirled on Aeron, ready to let loose with harsh words and perhaps even a cuff, but all of his fury left him in a rush when he saw the rueful smile on Aeron's face. "Aye," Ravion said, his voice hardly above a whisper. "I am missing a lass. Not as much as you are, I do not think, but I am missing her."

Aeron nodded again, and hugged himself closely to ward away the cold. He squinted up at the stars. Ravion followed his line of sight, and sighed deeply. The stars twinkled brightly in the chilly sky, bringing to mind romance and the future, as well as nostalgia and regret. They seemed cold and distant to Ravion. He took a deep breath, and tried to dissolve the shape of Mellonin's face that had suddenly appeared in the stars. He looked at Aeron, whose thoughts were clear on his face. "You are a brave young man, Aeron," Ravion said quietly. Aeron glanced at him. "Braver than I."
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Old 06-11-2006, 03:54 PM   #703
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Mellondu (and Erebemlin)

Mellondu shook his head. "No. No, I do not see that I am duty-bound to this, Erebemlin. I do not." He turned to his father. "Dreams are dreams. I gave them more weight than I should have. I am home; I should not have left you. I am sorry; sorry for the grief I caused you, and the worry, and the pain. I am not leaving you again. I am not abandoning my duty to you again. To my parents," he said, turning back to Erebemlin. "I lost sight of what matters most. I was a fool."

Erebemlin's eyes blazed. "You did not always think so."

"I have changed." Mellondu glared at the elf. "And you have no claim on me. I am not your king. I never was. I'm a blacksmith, too long away from my forge-- and my family."

Erebemlin's eyes softened, and he seemed to falter. "No claim?" he said quietly. "Perhaps you are right. At least, no claim that is truly important. Perhaps you speak the truth."

Mellondu nodded. But Father frowned. "Yet, you do consider that you have a claim, however small," Father said.

Erebemlin spoke slowly. "Small it is, I deem. Were it not for Taitheneb and me, your son would have fallen into madness and not returned. And had we not stayed the will of our king and made him rest, twice your son would have died of a fever. So I may claim his sanity, and twice over, his life. But alas, these are small things, and of little value. I would rather by far a claim on his honor. In sooth I have none. He has made me no promise nor vow, and so he is not beholden to me."

Father turned to Mellondu. "What say you to this?"

Mellondu caught his breath; the elf had trapped him and he knew it. No one in Gondor would consider that claim small-- Mellondu in debt for his mind and his life, not once but twice? His honor, should he ignore that claim, would be shattered. Yet there was more. He looked at the elf with mixed wonder and ire, for he had forgotten the hours he had dreamed with the elf's large hand on his brow; but he had not forgotten the elf's contempt for his mortality. His anger flared again.

"Til now you wasted no love on me, " Mellondu said. "If I owe you my life, then I shall serve you til you release me; honor demands no less. But if I could choose, I would choose a master who cared for his servant. You love your horse, at least?"

Erebemlin frowned. "I do not understand you, man. I have told you I have no claim on your honor. You have given me no vow."

"Yet you twice saved my life, and honor --" Mellondu clenched his teeth-- "demands that I repay that debt, to your satisfaction. Does it not?"

Erebemlin stood still and expressionless. Did men really hold their life and their sanity more dear than their honor? What honor had the boy shown thus far? Erebemlin thought of throwing the boy's offer back in his face; since the boy had no honor, his life was not worth much nor was his sanity, and if he had had any honor at all he would have served his king without pause. But Erebemlin said nothing.

Father sighed. "Master elf, please be so kind as to let me speak with my son in private. We will return to you."

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Old 06-11-2006, 06:48 PM   #704
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Taitheneb

The sun was still low but brightening outside the window of the small room in the inn. Taitheneb sat in a high-backed chair beside the door, gazing unconsciously at the strip of sunlight coming through the drawn curtains. He had taken the duty of watching the swamp elf while Erebemlin attempted to sway the mind of the young blacksmith and the responsibility was unpleasant. Tharonwe’s eyes could be felt on the Lorien elf’s neck, but Taitheneb refused to acknowledge him. Dialogue did not work with Tharonwe. He just twisted words and attempted to dig into one’s insecurities.

He is not worth the effort, Taitheneb told himself more than once as Tharonwe continued to burrow his gaze into the younger elf, waiting for the Lorien elf to drop his guard long enough to enter his mind.

The door creaked open and Taitheneb looked up to meet Erundil’s questioning gaze. The elf nodded, insinuating that no change had come about while the ranger was absent. Erundil returned the nod and crossed the room to the window, pulling the curtain aside only enough to peer through the crack. The stream of light that crossed the room increased and lit the opposite wall, before the ranger let the curtain fall and sat in the chair beside the bed.

“Are you afraid that I might cause harm even to the morning sun?” Tharonwe sat cross-legged on the floor in the shadow of the tall dresser.

Taitheneb shot the elf a sharp look, narrowing his eyes, to quiet him. He then turned to the ranger and nodded toward the window. Erundil rose and opened the curtains, brightening the room and causing his own eyes to blink rapidly at the change.

Taitheneb saw Tharonwe smirk from the corner of his eye, but the younger elf bit his tongue. The awkward silence continued, and Taitheneb wished for the Silmaethor's return.
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:14 PM   #705
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Mellonin

Raefindan watched as Mellonin's happy smile and perky chatter faded to a pale gaping stare. He followed her eyes. Erebemlin stood in the door, and Mellondu and his father were retreating to the back room; father looked very stern, Mellondu looked angry. Very angry.

Mellonin's mother stepped to her side, and slipped her hand through her daughter's arm. "Perhaps we should join them, " said mother. "Your pardon, good Raefindan; please, have some wine." Nodding gracefully to the Rohirrim and the strange wanderer-boy, she led her daughter after her son and her husband, into the tiny back room.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:15 PM   #706
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Erebemlin

Erebemlin looked into the small house and into the uncertain faces of the young mortals. His eyes followed the blacksmith’s mother and sister into the back of the home and then flitted back to the group of travelers who watched him questioningly.

Young Bellyn stepped forward, fiddling with her fingers anxiously. “Pardon, my lord,” she paused, looking down at her hands, then gazing up into the face of the Elf towering over her. “What is going to happen?” Turning over her shoulder, she searched the faces of her companions for support. “Will the quest be finished? Will we find ever Nimrodel or will this be the end of our journey?”

The Elf pursed his lips, unsure of the response he should give the young woman. He breathed in deeply, flaring his nostrils. Choosing his words carefully, he began, “I am not certain of the outcome, my lady. I do not understand the thoughts and actions of mortals, but…” Erebemlin stopped, furrowing his brows as his eyes alternated back and forth between Bellyn’s sparkling, hope-filled eyes. “But I have hope, my lady.” It was difficult to say what hope Erebemlin had. Was it hope for the return of his king, or hope that a young blacksmith would realize his destiny and choose to defend his honor, whatever that was to a foolish boy. The Elf was uncomfortable trusting the boy to make the right and honorable decision. Amroth’s flame was still within him, however buried. The boy had to feel it, but why could he not surrender to it?
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:48 AM   #707
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White Tree Mellondu

Father gently closed the door behind Mellonin and mother. In the heavy silence, Mellonin's nervous fidgeting contrasted with Mellondu's sullen resentment. Father waited; mother's gaze moved across the room.

Finally Mellonin could stand it no longer. "What will you do?"

"Hush, Light-Love, and wait, " murmured mother.

Father gazed at his son. "Mellondu, the elf is cold, but I deem he lies not."

Mellondu's scowl deepened. "Confound him."

"Is it true, " said mother, knowing it was.

"Yes, " said Mellondu through his teeth. "And what else can I do? I must serve him, or lose my honor. And how would I ever regain it, save by serving him?"

"But we just brought you home, " said Mellonin.

"Surely the elf need not leave today, " mother said.

"But what if he never finds her? What if you never find her?" Mellonin cried.

They looked at one another; no one answered.

"Son, " said father softly. "Tell me; do you carry the elf-king even now?"

Mellondu hesitated, wrestling with his anger, unwilling to respond. Slowly he said, "Perhaps; perhaps I-- " His face went red. "Yes. Yes, I do."

Father's eyes went distant; his hand went to his beard, and he slowly turned, went to a chair, and sat in it, deep in thought. Mother turned to her son. "So it would seem that you serve not one, but two, " she said.

"I do not wish to serve either. Not any more, " said Mellondu.

"Are you free to choose?" said Mother.

Tears sprang to Mellondu's eyes, which he angrily dashed away. "It would seem not."

"Son, " said father, "How did the elf-king first come to you?"

Mellondu looked down. "In my dreams."

"And?"

"They were wonderful dreams, and I wanted more, " he said. "But now they are nightmares, and I have had enough; I have had enough." He fought back tears once more. "I just want to stay home."

Father stood and came to Mellondu's side, and laid his hand on his shoulder, saying nothing. Mellondu fought for his composure while Father waited.

"Father, " pleaded Mellonin.

"Hush, daughter, " said Mother, blinking back her own tears. They waited while Mellondu's inner storm lashed and battered him. Slowly, finally, he became calm. Father gave his shoulder a firm shake; Mellondu looked him in the eye, squared his shoulders, and nodded. The sun was westering; the family slowly walked back out into the front room. They looked only at the tall elf.

Mellondu faced Erebemlin. With a steady voice and clear eye, he said, "I will serve you til my life-debt is paid."

Mother tightened her grip around Mellonin's arm. Mellonin's tears would not stop, but Mellonin dashed them away, standing tall with gritted teeth.
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Old 06-15-2006, 05:17 PM   #708
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Aeron

"You are a brave young man, Aeron," Ravion said quietly. Aeron glanced at him. "Braver than I."

Aeron drew his eyebrows together with puzzlement as he looked at the ranger’s face. Aeron did not think himself brave. In fact, he considered himself a coward. He had not been able to save Gwyllion. He had run from the group in the night without giving word to anyone.

“Nay,“ the boy’s face relaxed as he spoke, and a sarcastic grin spread across his thin face. “I am far from being braver than the Lord Ravion.” Aeron’s smile faded when the sadness in Ravion’s eyes did not change. “You know,” he started again as he rocked, wrapping his arms around his knees and looking back up to the stars. “I may not be able to find my lass, but you…” Aeron stopped himself and sighed before glancing back at the ranger.
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Old 06-15-2006, 06:22 PM   #709
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Erebemlin

The humans talked nervously among themselves while waiting in the small Gondorian home. They engaged in idle chatter to hide the conflict and uncertainty that filled them all. Erebemlin remained distanced from them, unmoved, still standing by the door like a cold statue from ages past.

If he had wished, the elf could have sent his thought into the tiny backroom and heard all that passed between the boy and his family. However, he chose not to do this. He would wait until the decision was made.

He did not simply listen to the humans, but he let his mind wander to the North. A sweet melody filled his thought. It was a song of reeds dancing in a cool breeze along the river, the grasses swaying on the banks. Then, he saw the homely cottage, covered in vines and creeping plants that were rich in color and texture. He noticed the cottage door was open before he saw her step onto the threshold. His heart began to beat loudly in his ears. The wind ruffled her hair around her face and shoulders. The brown, green, and gold waves of her hair lit up as the westering sun’s rays streamed beneath the canopy of the porch. A smile formed along her mouth as she saw him and she stopped singing.

No, do not stop, my lady.

Her smile faded for a moment, yet her eyes twinkled still. You are troubled, Erebemlin. What ails you?

The elf did not answer immediately. He did not wish to show the beautiful lady how vulnerable he had become with Amroth’s departure, yet…when he looked into her eyes no judgment could be found and she appeared to already understand his weaknesses and his troubles.

You worry the boy will not choose to follow the path you have laid before his feet. Am I right?

Yes.

Are they not his feet to follow his own path?

Yes, but… Erebemlin started but stopped himself, filled with his own uncertainty. Instead he whispered to her, What of Lord Amroth?

I cannot answer that for you, but I see you have some hope…however small. Marigold smiled and held out her hand to him. Hold tight to that hope. The boy will choose the right path. Now we shall see whether the right path is the one you would have him choose.

Erebemlin wanted to touch her outstretched hand. His mind reached out to her…

The door in the back of the house scraped along the floor as it opened. Erebemlin quickly drew his thought back to the small home. The room fell silent. The humans looked uncertainly from the blacksmith to the elf as Mellondu stepped forward. “I will serve you til my life-debt is paid.”

The tall elf exhaled very slowly. “You have chosen well, young man.”

Mellondu clinched his jaw, then replied, “I will not have my honor destroyed.”

Erebemlin narrowed his eyes slightly and looked upon the young man with curiosity. What the elf thought to himself about the worth of the boy’s so-called honor, he kept to himself and only nodded in reply.

Mellonin sniffed as she brushed away a tear, and Erebemlin looked over the boy to his sister, then to the hurt and understanding faces of his parents. Tearing his eyes away from theirs, the elf turned back to the young blacksmith. “Rest while you may for we will leave the White City at dawn in three days.”
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Old 06-16-2006, 08:48 PM   #710
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Mellondu/Mellonin

Father placed his hand on Mellondu’s shoulder, squeezing it to convey the pride he felt for his son at that moment. Mellondu pulled his shoulders back and raised his chin a bit higher.

Even though lines of concern were written on Mother’s forehead and brows, she forced a smile and turned to their guests. “At least we have this night. Good Raefindan, and everyone, I do hope you will stay for a bit of supper before you go back to your rooms at the inn.”

Mellondu threw his mother a look of disagreement, but she did not acknowledge it. The boy gritted his teeth. How were they going to feed them all? He knew his parents had naught to spare for so many. In all honesty, he hoped they would leave. He was not in the mood for company, and he wanted the tall elf out of his sight.

“Oh, yes, please stay!” Mellonin pulled away from her mother’s hold and stepped forward, taking Leafa’s hand. She then turned to Liornung. “Oh, Liornung, you must sing for Mother and Father…and Bella! How I loved your song! Please stay!”

“I do not think they wish to…”

“Nonsense, Son.” Mother interrupted. “We would be honored to have to you as our guests. Besides, we have yet to hear the tales of your travels. What do you say?”
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:40 PM   #711
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“That is very kind of you,” Liornung was the first of the group to speak. “I would love to stay for a while, to visit and talk.”

“So would I,” added Argeleafa, who smiled. Bellyn liked to see her friends happy; it had been a long journey and now they could rest for a while. “There are many of us, though. Will it be trouble to feed everyone?”

“Of course not,” said Mellondu’s mother, earning a look of dismay from her son.

“It is settled then!” Mellonin looked happier than all of them. “Come, sit. Leafa and Bella, over here…Ædegard…”

Mellonin and Mellondu were finally home. Bellyn wondered why she did not feel more at home. Though she had been born in Minas Tirith, she had not been back to the city in over six years. Bellyn had thought she would be fine returning to the city, but as soon as the company had entered the walls, memories had begun to flood back. She remembered so many things. She remembered the day she fell and scraped her knee, and her mother carried her home. On her third birthday it had been raining, and her brothers took her outside to dance in the puddles. Ever since she had been tall enough, Bellyn helped her mother every day to make dinner. Her father spent most of her youth traveling. Sometime when she was twelve, her mother and oldest brother grew ill. When her father finally came home, it was too late.

The memories made Bellyn sick to her stomach. She forced a smile. Mellondu’s parents searched for more chairs, and the visitors made themselves comfortable in their home. Bellyn and Argeleafa stood to help Mellonin and her mother prepare something to eat.

“No, no, sit,” Mellondu’s mother insisted, “I would love to hear of your travels.”

“I do not know the whole story myself,” Bellyn replied with a wry grin. “Let me help, and someone can tell the story from the beginning.”

“Or we could let Liornung sing us a song!” Mellonin suggested.

“Yes, he is very good at that,” Ædegard mused.

Sing something from some distant place, Bellyn hoped inwardly. She could not wait to leave Gondor in three days.
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Old 06-19-2006, 11:13 AM   #712
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Liornung had readily accepted the invitation, but his manner, while cheery and polite, was rather subdued still. Argeleafa watched him with the deepest concern, but he hardly glanced in her direction. For the most part he gazed out of whatever window was closest at hand, but his face, far from being peaceful and dreamy, was full of shadows.

Leafa moved closer to him, but he did not look up at her presence, or even seem to sense it. She hesitated briefly, but decided that she ought to try to speak to him again.

"Liornung," she said, sitting down beside him.

He made no answer.

She bit her lip, wondering if he had not heard her, or if he chose not to hear.

"Liornung," she said again, putting her hand on his shoulder.

He started, and looked up at her in surprise. "Why, Leafa!" he said, with a smile that was too strained for her comfort. "I didn't hear you come up. How you startled me!"

His voice was cheerful, to be sure, but it seemed so force. "Liornung, they want you to sing," she said.

"Do they now?" he said. "How kind of them. After dinner perhaps I shall sing." He smiled up into her face for a moment more, and then turned his face back to the window. When she saw the shadows returning, she hastened to distract his attention.

"Liornung!" she cried.

The urgency of her tone was unmistakeable, and he immediately looked to her again. She looked desperately into his eyes, and spread out her hands. "Won't you tell me what's wrong?" she said.

He opened his mouth as if to deny any worry on his part, but saw that she would not be put aside. There was a pause, and then he heaved a deep sigh and, getting to his feet, strode over to the window. He could see naught but his own reflection, and the reflections of the others, sitting and talking, or getting the dinner ready, all looking at ease and glad for a rest, safe for Leafa, who was still sitting with worry etched on her features. And his own self. He saw the haunted expression on his face and could not blame Leafa for her worry.

The reflections of the window seemed to fade, until they were moving about the room like so many ghosts, with echoing voices and laughter, and swift floating movements. The room seemed to reel, and the ghosts vanished, so he could see only his own face in the window, and the stars in the sky. And then everything cleared, cleared more than they ought, for the reflections were no longer hazy figures in the window, but sharp and real images that moved before his eyes. He did not recognise them at first, for he was seeking for Bella, or for Ædegard amongst them.

And then, slowly, his mind cleared, as the window had done, and the faces became familiar to him. He caught his breath, and at that sound they ceased in what they were doing, and turned their heads to him, smiling in welcome. He saw Master Ealdor, the innkeeper from home. The Inn was quite empty of guests, so Ealdor was sitting by the fire, laughing and talking with an old man. It was Old Secgrof, and he looked older and more worn than ever. Indeed, he looked as though another winter would bring not only the cold, but his death as well. And yet his face was cheerful, and he raised a hand in greeting to Liornung.

There was one more figure in the quiet Inn. She was sitting in a chair, a little distance from the fire, leaning back and watching Liornung with a little smile on her face. It was Blostma, the innkeeper's daughter. She wore an old faded apron over her gown, as if she had just come from the kitchen. Her foot was slowly beating out the time of some unheard song... some song she was waiting for him to sing. They were all watching him, just as they had in the days before he had left home. They would cease their talk, and watch him... and any moment one of them would ask him to play and sing. Blostma would ask, for she always asked, with a breathless tone of voice, and eyes full of eagerness. Did they delight in his music so much? Did it truly bring such joy to their hearts that they waited in such an anxious manner?

She was standing up. And now she would ask.

But she did not say a word. She simply came mutely to him, and laid a hand on his shoulder. He gazed at her, through the reflection in the window. There was a long silence, and at last she spoke.

"Liornung," she said.

He waited for the request, but it did not come. His mind was filled with bewilderment. Did she not want him to sing?

"Liornung," she said again, and shook him.

And when she did so, everything faded. The stars vanished into a blackness, and the blackness began to glow softly with a golden haze. Blostma was gone... she had dispelled herself into nothingness. For a moment there was only the blackness with its faint glow, and he was tempted to let it go no farther. He should like to remain in the blackness, and imagine that he would be back at the Inn again. If he left the blackness behind, he knew what he would find. And yet, with a sinking heart, he knew he could not remain. The glow grew stronger, and the figures began to take shape again. The hand still remained on his shoulder, a for a wild moment he thought that perhaps Blostma was still there. But when all reflections had returned, it was Leafa's worried face that stood behind him, and her hand that lay on his shoulder.

"Oh, Liornung, what is wrong?" she said.

He turned away from the window, and looked about the room, studying each face in turn. As he recognised each face, his own was filled with disappointment. Truly, Blostma, her father, and Old Secgrof had disappeared, to the other side of that blackness. But when his eyes fell on Bella that lingered there, and he smiled a smile full of sorrow.

"How I envy dear Bella," he said, "for she is home."

He patted Leafa's hand, and then slipped from her grip and returned to his chair.
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Old 06-19-2006, 04:06 PM   #713
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Ravion

"My 'lass', as you put it, is nearly as far out of reach--" Ravion broke off, seeing a hurt expression on Aeron's face. He shook his head, running his hands through his hair. "I am sorry, Aeron. That was unfair of me." Aeron shrugged.

They sat there, two silent figures with similar expressions of pain in their eyes, staring up at the sky. Looking out of the corner of his eye at Aeron, Ravion wondered if the stars held any more answers for the boy than they did for the Ranger. He found no solace in them.

He saw in Aeron's eyes a pain and confusion that was achingly familiar to him. He knew that the boy probably woke up at night and looked for his sister. Again he realized how brave Aeron was, to be able to compare his own loss to the loss that Ravion was inflicting on himself.

He stood up, and extended a hand to Aeron. Characteristically, the boy refused the help and stood up on his own. "It is late, Aeron," Ravion said. "Get some sleep. Tomorrow will surely be another long day."
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Old 06-20-2006, 12:23 AM   #714
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That night, Aeron's sleep was restless, and he dreamed of his sister, Gwyllion. He remembered the murlocks, her blood that stained the ground, the wreath of flowers in her hair, how the fear had seemed to fade from her face when she had been brought to Marigold's dwelling.

It had been peaceful there, like a pool of sunshine in a glassy dale.

He awoke when the sun was still low in the sky. Quietly, he slipped from his bed and stole his way out the Inn towards the little hovel they had once called home. The place had a lonely feel, he thought as he stared at the crumbling cornerstones framed by drooping weeds.

As the first rays of the sun gilded the sky, he went into their mouldering dwelling and pryed up a loose floorboard to reveal a rather large and lumpy dusty velvet sack that tinkled with cold delicacy as he lifted it from the hole in the floor. He looked hastily over his shoulder as he crept back into the streets again. He was a thief after all...it would not due to be caught -- an urchin with a sackful of precious gems and gold coins...the only thing the authorites could do was to throw him into a jail cell.

Aeron flitted down the streets of Minas Tirith until he found an market place full of bustling women bartering for goods. Quietly, from the shadow of closely clustered buildings, he hurled the sack into the midst of them. Golden coins gushed and pattered to the pavement, rubies glinted in the sun and sapphires winked at the young ladies.

Aeron slipped away as the people gasped, and clustered around the wealth snatching it from the streets with greedy hands.

Thief's honour. That was what Ravion had said. And it was because of this honour that he had thrown the work of years into the streets. He had stolen them for Gwyllion and himself. Little Gwyl was gone, and he did not need the hoarded wealth. Let others have it who was in greater need of it than himself.

~*~

It was evening before Aeron returned to the Inn and slumped into a chair beside Ravion, who was brooding over a mug of ale. Aeron didn't say anything to him, deciding to wait in silence for the others to return.

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Old 06-23-2006, 04:52 PM   #715
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Mellondu

Even though his parents’ home buzzed with friendly chatter, Mellondu sat glumly, stewing over the predicament in which he now found himself. Glancing up, he found Erebemlin searching his face as if he already expected to see signs of the great Amroth. Mellondu clinched his jaw and looked back down at his hands. He hated this. He could still feel the Elf king within him, but he did not want to relinquish control…not again, especially after all that had happened.

The sound of his sister’s voice babbling happily brought Mellondu out of his thoughts. “…and that’s when we met Gwyl…”

“Mellonin, no,” the young man interrupted. His voice was sharp but low in volume.

The other travelers became quiet, and Mellonin looked indignantly at her brother. “Well, I would rather speak of her life than…” Mellonin stopped herself.

“It’s just too soon.”

Mother recognized the tension in the room and stepped between her children. “There will be more time for tales and song before this evening is finished. For now, let us eat.” She forced a smile and took Mellonin’s hand. “Come, Light-Love, help me serve our guests.”
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Old 06-23-2006, 08:27 PM   #716
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The laughter and storytelling before dinner was served came out forced and half-hearted. Whatever silent burden hung over the heads of the travelers permeated into their conversations. When Mellonin’s mother began to serve the meal, the friends quieted and thanked her graciously. It was a simple bean pudding, sweetened with honey, but everyone knew that no food on the road could hold contest with a good, home-cooked meal.

Appreciation for the hospitality overflowed from the visitors. There were occasional choruses of “this is wonderful” and “thank you” during the meal, but otherwise the visitors hardly spoke.

When everyone had finished eating, Mellonin and her mother took the dishes. There were many offers to help them wash, but these offers were politely refused. Mellonin started to continue the story of their journey, but hesitated to speak at all of Gwyllion. Mellondu’s stinging gaze threatened more moody and angry words should the conversation take a direction he did not like. After what seemed like ages of awkward jump-start-stalling discussion and storytelling, Mellonin looked over to Liornung.

“Well, our new friends have traveled far as well,” she said, smiling faintly. Mellonin looked at her mother. “They have come from Rohan.”

Bellyn turned to Liornung as well, and saw that in his eyes were images and memories of Rohan; of his own home. Argeleafa’s eyes held the same nostalgic expression. Liornung began to recount his story, from the beginning: meeting Bellyn, catching up to Ædegard, trying to catch up to the ‘mad blacksmith’.

Bellyn realized as Liornung told the tale that it all began wonderfully and mysteriously. Bellyn had drawn and read and revised her father’s maps for years, and always desired to see what was beyond her home. She remembered looking out over the valleys with Liornung and seeing the colors of the sunset – at first, she had never wanted to go back to Rohan.

But Liornung’s story quickly progressed into darker territory.

“Well, then, we rode off, for we saw their company on the horizon,” Bellyn listened eagerly, though she knew the ending.

“It is getting late,” Mellondu spoke before Liornung could introduce Tharonwe into the story and speak of the kidnapping of the women. Both his parents and Mellonin cast him a reproachful look.

“That it is,” agreed Ædegard. He looked to Erebemlin, who nodded, face solemn as Bellyn had always seen it. Does he not smile? Bellyn wondered. The group stood from their seats and moved towards the door. “We shall take our leave then.”

“Thank you for welcoming us to your home,” Raefindan said, looking towards Mellonin and Mellondu’s parents. He opened the door and led the way out.

“Yes, thank you very much, especially for having us to dinner,” added Liornung. A chorus of ‘thank-you’ followed from Bellyn and Leafa. Erebemlin gave one last lingering look to Mellondu before thanking his parents, and Nethwador followed Bellyn out of the home.

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Old 06-24-2006, 05:26 PM   #717
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Smoke and light poured through the door of the inn into the cold night air as the band of travelers returned from their visit with the Gondorian family. The common room was warm in contrast to the air outside. A warm fire glowed in the fire place lighting the face of the ranger who sat before it.

“Why Master Aeron!” Raefindan stepped toward the boy as Erebemlin finally noticed the young thief beside the ranger.

The Elf watched the humans greet the boy, but Erebemlin stood behind them, irritated that the foolish youth thought he could just turn up unexpectedly after running away like a child and then rejoin the company. The boy did not receive a welcome from the tall Sinda, rather the Elf returned to his room to speak with Taitheneb.
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Old 06-26-2006, 05:47 PM   #718
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Taitheneb could not help but show his relief when Erebemlin opened the door and entered the small room in the inn. “Silmaethor, have you brought news?”

Erebemlin eyed Tharonwe, who smiled mockingly at the tall elf, and then faced Taitheneb again. “Have you eaten your evening meal, mellon?”

“Aye, we had a meal brought to us here. A few pieces of bread and cheese are left if you would…”

Erebemlin held up his hand before his companion could finish. Shaking his head, he sat upon the bed and leaned against the wall, stretching his arms and placing his hands behind his head. Erundil shifted his weight in his chair, catching Erebemlin’s attention. “The other humans are in the common room if you wish to join them.” The elf glanced sideways at the ranger before looking back up at the ceiling.

“In that case, I will take your leave, Master Elf.” Erundil rose and crossed the room.

Taitheneb studied Erebemlin with a frown at his aloofness toward the man. “I thank you, Erundil.”

“As do I, Master Ranger,” came the patronizing voice of Tharonwe.

Erundil glanced at the elder elf on the bed, then the swamp elf, and nodded to Taitheneb before he slipped out of the door.

“Now, young one, what news have you brought us?” The swamp elf leaned back on his hands and tipped his head to the side.

Erebemlin closed his eyes and bit his tongue at being called young one. After a moment, he sat forward, facing Taitheneb. “We will leave at Dawn in three days.”

Taitheneb looked at him questioningly and then asked, “And which direction will we head, north or south?”

“The boy has agreed to finish the quest. We will pass through the Southern Gate.”

Taitheneb raised his eyebrows, and then laughed light-heartedly. “Why, Silmaethor, that is wonderful news!”

“Ah yes, wonderful news. You will be wasting your time on a hopeless quest.” Tharonwe sneered. “I am sure your Lord Amroth would be proud of your efforts. Of course, it is a pity he will never see it.”

“Quiet, Dark One!” Erebemlin glared at the swamp elf. “It is a pity you will never see the joy upon Nimrodel‘s face when she looks upon her love and my king.” The tall Sinda turned to Taitheneb. “I have thought much about what action we should take against this snake.”

Taitheneb nodded, having wondered what would be done as well.

“Tomorrow, we will bring him before King Elessar. The king will be better able to care for him, and then we can be rid of his presence...for good.”
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:03 PM   #719
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Raefindan

Raefindan sat at table listening to the others talk. Silence agreed with him, for the most part. He had much to think about. Such as the fact that he was Raefindan here. That was settled for him now. He had memories of being Roy Edwards in the future, and memories of being Imrazor in the past. Which was he? All three. But how? How was he as Roy dreaming himself as Raefindan, failing to wake up for weeks at a time? Was Maegeleb whom the others called Tharonwe correct? So far, no other explanation fit the facts as well. So how was he dreaming this? How was he, Raefindand, dreaming himself as Imrazor? Indeed. He had no idea. Well, he had an inkling. He chuckled to himself at coming up with that word, but held his peace.

So here, now, he was Raefindan. And he was determined to do all he could to help Amroth find Nimrodel. But why should it matter? Why did it matter? He did not know yet, but that would not stop him. No, it drove him on.

But why me? he asked himself. He could think of nothing about himself that made him specially suited to helping Amroth find Nimrodel .... except that he was Imrazor. ... or dreamed that he was Imrazor. Did it really make any difference which way it was? No, it did not, because his experiences as Imrazor affected him just as much as his experiences as Raefindan. And as Roy. But was that it? What use had the Powers for bringing Imrazor back into it? Ah, but he wasn't just Imrazor. He was indeed that man of Numenorean descent, half-elvish it was, who happened to have extensive knowledge of a certain set of books! But weren't they fiction? Suddenly his head hurt.

You are ill of mind, Roy Edwards, Maegeleb had said.

Raefindan shook his head ruefully. Anyway, he was forced by his current circumstances to regad those books as history unfeigned! So why did the Powers want him involved, knowing what he knew? He had no idea. But he was determind to find out.

"What cud are you chewing with such determination, Raefindan?" asked Ædegard.

"Hm?" Raefindan raised his brow and looked at Ædegard across the table, Leafa seated him his left, Liornung on her other side, with Bellyn across from him. Aeron and Liornung sat at another table. "Oh, dreams within dreams."

"You riddle as much as ever, Raefindan," Ædegard smirked.

"I fear to say too much that would do those within my hearing no good."

"You? You speak such wisdom!"

"So I try, Ædegard, so I try, but that does not keep me from being foolish betimes. But I am glad that we will continue the quest."

"Think you that Mellondu is ready? He did not seem so," Ædegard asked.

"I do not know," Raefindan said. "I surely hope so, or we will be battling against ourselves the whole way!"
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Old 06-27-2006, 12:58 PM   #720
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White Tree Mellondu

The house emptied.

Father now had many more questions, and Mellondu and Mellonin answered him, taking turns. Father's questions made Mellondu uncomfortable, because he asked mostly about Amroth. Answers came from Mellondu slowly and haltingly.

As the house darkened, Mother touched Mellondu's hand. "Until you have been in love, do not judge a lover too harshly. If an evil one ordered me to forsake my husband, do you think I would happily concur, though another life was threatened?"

Father looked at the wall, saying nothing.

Mellondu shook his head in anger. "Mother, you could not just let someone else die." Mellondu looked from Mother to Father and back to Mother. "After all I had done for him, he would have sacrificed my sister? My sister!"

Mother's gaze softened. "It is not what I would wish, my son. But I could not forsake my husband, for I have sworn an oath to him, come what may."

The room fell silent, and slowly, one by one, they kissed Mellondu and retired. Mellondu stared at the ceiling for a long time, until slowly at first, tears began to fall. They fell long into the night.

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