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Old 03-27-2004, 11:38 AM   #41
Aylwen Dreamsong
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Liornung and Bellyn continued leading their horses off after Ædegard, but soon they noticed that ahead of them, Ædegard had stopped and was speaking to a man standing alone on the grassy plains. Liornung and Bellyn turned to each other with similar looks on their faces, and similar questions in their minds; the blacksmith? Neither hesitated to ask the question aloud, and before they could continue to make their way towards the men, Ædegard's horse had gained a new rider.

"Surely this must be the crazy blacksmith," Bellyn whispered as she and Liornung rode quickly over to Ædegard's side, where he tried to stop Echo from going off north with his new rider. By the time Bellyn and Liornung had arrived Ædegard had coaxed Echo into staying put, and it seemed the stranger was apologizing. Liornung and Bellyn exchanged another surprised glance.

"No. That is, I--" Ædegard stammered, showing a slightly frantic side of him that Bellyn and Liornung had not seen yet. "-just, where are you going with my horse?" Ædegard finished haphazardly.

"To Lothlorien."

"Lothlorien!" Bellyn exclaimed happily, reciting the coordinates in her mind with a smile on her face. Ædegard and the man -- Bellyn assumed he was the blacksmith they'd been searching for, with such a strange destination -- looked up at Bellyn and Liornung for the first time, as if they hadn't noticed the two before that moment. Ædegard's expression became cold again at seeing Liornung and Bellyn, and the stranger took a step back. Bellyn's face fell at the reaction to her voice, so she shrugged and decided to let the calm Liornung intervene, for Bellyn thought he was much better at such things.

"Ædegard, I see you've found a friend so share your horse with," Liornung began cautiously, taking the hint from Bellyn's suddenly quiet and self-conscious expression. A little smile pulled at the corner of his mouth, and Bellyn was glad that Liornung was on the little adventure with her. "Is this the young man we have been searching for, then?" Liornung said this in a quieter voice his horse moving slowly near to Ædegard, causing the young man to take a step back at the sudden movement.

"I must go in haste to Lothlorien," the young man spoke lightly, before Ædegard had a chance to respond to Liornung's inquiry. "I have to go, I cannot tarry here."

Bellyn wondered what Liornung and Ædegard would decide. Liornung had been asked to save the crazy blacksmith from getting himself into trouble, not help him to get to a destination for the young man's purposes. It didn't seem as though Ædegard planned on going any farther than catching and bringing the crazy blacksmith back to town. Bellyn certainly would not overstep her boundaries by mentioning how exciting it would be to go to Lothlorien, because she also knew that it was dangerous, and no place for her or for the young man.

"What is your name?" Bellyn asked suddenly, remembering that she only knew him as the crazy blacksmith. He seems so scared.

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Old 03-27-2004, 12:25 PM   #42
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Shield Rohan: Mellon-Amroth

Amroth considered the three young riders before him, his eyes ice-cold and distant with distraction, his body restless and eager to be moving northward. The big chestnut jigged and sidestepped with an eagerness matching his rider's. But at the young lady's question, Amroth settled his mount with a word, met her gaze, and briefly opened his mind to her thoughts.

Pity?

One eyebrow twitched upward in suprise; the last emotion he would have anticipated from a young mannish lady, yet it warmed his heart. Five thousand years of wisdom reflected her her compassion for another moment, and with a subtle bow of his head, he accepted the unexpected pity as the gift of a gentle heart. When he raised his eyes to her there was bemusement in his gaze.

"Greetings Lady, and welcome. My common name is Amroth, though few know it in these parts. I return to my erstwhile kingdom to find my betrothed, who these months past did not appear at our planned harborside tryst. Gentle lady, I beg you to understand my haste. In your kindness delay me not, for I have no other purpose but to find her. And now, " he returned his gaze to Ædegard, "do I understand that you did not bring this excellent mount as a provision for me? If you wish him returned, then I must dismount and hasten north to Lorien on foot, yet he would be a great boon to me in my search. Will you loan him to me, or no? Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose quickly, for I will not delay!"

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Old 03-27-2004, 03:58 PM   #43
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

Liornung's eyes met Bellyn's for a brief moment, and in that moment he seemed to decide what course of action he would make. Holding up his hand to stay whatever Ædegard might be intending to say, he dismounted quickly from his steed, causing the young blacksmith to start in surprise. "Good day to you, Master Amroth," he said, bowing. "I have, to speak the blunt truth, been following you."

Amroth raised an eyebrow, but no amazement showed in his features. "And why were you following me?"

"Because I was asked to."

"Who asked you?"

"A dear friend of mine who wished you to come to no harm." Liornung paused and gazed questioningly at Amroth, giving him a chance to answer, but Amroth merely made a gesture with his hand for Liornung to continue. "You say you ride to Lothlorien to seek your betrothed." The fiddler's eyes softened a bit. "I do not trust those lands as well as one might, but I am not afraid to venture into them. If you will consent, I will accompany you to Lothlorien and see that you come to no harm. My lady Bellyn will most surely come as well. As for Ædegard, I know not." Liornung cast an amused glance in that man's direction, biting back a chuckle. "If he will not lend you his horse you still have no need to fear. My horse is strong and we can split the weight of the baggage upon my packhorse between that worthy horse and my own."

Amroth looked from Ædegard to the horses to Bellyn, and then his gaze fixed on Liornung. The latter felt a sense of awe sweep through him and he knew he was standing before one who deserved great respect. Dropping his eyes, he murmured softly, "Master Amroth, what you deem best I will agree with. I merely request to accompany you to Lothlorien and see you come to no harm."
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Old 03-27-2004, 06:56 PM   #44
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Tolkien ROHAN: Ædegard

Ædegard's jaw worked with rage. Liornung had betrayed his trust as deftly as if he always did such things. And he appeared amused at how he had put Ædegard in an unenviable position: commit to the ruse of Mellon as King Amroth of Lorien, or seem a fool. Why did things always seem to fall out so? Ædegard gripped the reins so hard that his hands hurt.

Worse, Liornung seemed to have taken on a bad case of hero worship. Despite Ædegard's deepest desire to return home and have nothing further to do with this silvertongued jackdaw of a musician and the moon-eyed artist woman, it was going to be necessary to have someone around who could be sensible about all this. It was not a role he relished, not when everyone else was ready to play "love struck elf", and pin him as the dour disbeliever. But so it looked.

"Mellon, or Amroth, if you prefer, I brought Echo for you to ride. I will accompany you to Lothlorien."

His spirit fell. Now he was in for it. He was sure that Liornung was going to make mock of him the whole journey, and that Bellyn would be no friend, and that it would be left to him to curb the wildnesses of Mellon's illness of mind. He kept all this to himself, however.

"Let us ride, then."
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Old 03-27-2004, 08:09 PM   #45
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Shield Rohan: Mellon-Amroth

Those were welcome words.

Ædegard turned his horse northward, lips tight, hands white-knuckled on the reins. Echo swung to the old bay's off-side and paced him. Liornung hastened to remount, and then he and Bellyn hurried in behind.

Liornung did not stay behind for long, however; the prairie was wide enough for five horses abreast. He rode up to Amroth's off-side, and looked at him, thinking of so many questions he wanted to ask. Liornung's packhorse matched his own mount's stride, and Bellyn rode beyond the packhorse, suddenly worried that she might miss any conversation.

But there was none so far. Amroth's eyes were straight ahead, except for an occasional lefthand glance at Ædegard. The lad's anger was palpable, and Amroth was content to ride between the two young men as a buffer. When the horses needed rest, there would be time enough for talk.

Amroth cast his thoughts northward again, searching, searching, tracing the sweet stream from its root in the mountain to where it joined the Celebrant, then following the Celebrant along the forest. The forest was still strangely quiet; either more elves had migrated west than he thought likely, or their minds were closed. Perhaps they felt threatened by the darkness Durin's folk had roused in the mountains. It mattered little; there was only one mind he wanted to find.

His eyes glittered coldly again as he stretched his mind out further, further reaching, searching. Sensing his purpose, Echo steadily lengthened his gait. The other horses followed suit.

The old bay was the first to break a sweat.
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Old 03-28-2004, 08:54 AM   #46
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Tolkien

Aeron stared at the pearl necklace than dangled from the ranger’s calloused fingers, and pondered his proposal. He quailed at the thought of punishment if the authorities caught him and the necklace was returned to the former owner. Phantoms of dreadful punishments haunted him, ghosts of his father -- but would the authorities be cruel to him? He shrugged. He didn’t know and musing about it wasn’t going to give him the answer. Rather, what about Gwyillion? How would she survive? She could use the gold that was sprinkled about their sloven grounds, but who knew how long he’d languish in the jail? Better to go with Ravion.

But what was this thieve’s honour that he spoke so highly of? The violent aspects of it that he had mentioned? A smirk played about his lips, and inwardly he laughed. There was no such thing as honour -- even men who claimed to have her deserted her when malevolent times came. If there was only a shadow of it in noble men, how could there be any of it in thieves and rascals?

Still, if he decided to accept Ravion’s offer, he would be bound to the man with gyves of duty that almost amounted to slavery. Aeron smiled. But to every shackle there is a lock, and every lock can be picked. “Alright,” Aeron said, “I accept on one condition: that you take my sister with you. Otherwise,” he added with a ghosted smile, “you’ll have to do your own work, and I’ll suffer miserably in a jail cell.”

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Old 03-28-2004, 12:02 PM   #47
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Silmaril Minas Tirith: Mellonin

Mellonin sat back in her chair and gave the thief a stunned look. Moments later tears had filled her eyes, and both hands came up to hide her face.

Ravion and Raefindan exchanged puzzled glances, and Raefindan leaned forward. But before he could ask, she swept towards a window; gazing out, she tried to compose herself, and then she returned to the table, having regained her composure somewhat.

Threatened with slavery or jail, this vagabond's first thought is still towards his sister. And I-- what have I done for my brother? Nothing. Nothing. I am far beneath this thief. At least his love of family is faithful and true. Mine is neither.

Raefindan guessed. "You have had no word. What can you do? Nothing, til you know where he has gone."

Ravion looked up. "Who has gone, lady?"

Tears started afresh and she wiped them away. "Mellondu, my younger brother. He has been missing now for over three weeks. One day after work, he went out, and did not return. He left everything behind except what he was wearing. No one has heard any news."

Ravion frowned. "What does he look like?"

"Very much like me. He worked in the smithy."

Ravion nodded. "So the moonstruck blacksmith is your brother! They say he has departed northward from Edoras."

Mellonin leaped to her feet. "What! Edoras! Where-- how--" Suddenly Ravion had more attention than he wanted. "When? Where did he go? How far away is he? Who told you?" And then her brow furrowed. "Moonstruck? Moonstruck! Who told you that? Why did they say that? What do you mean, moonstruck? Is he all right? He IS all right, isn't he?"

Raefindan reached out one arm and caught Aeron's belt. The lad might keep his promise and he might not, but Mellonin was demanding Ravion's full attention, even if Ravion seemed reluctant to give it. Perhaps his headache was getting worse.

Morien the Innkeeper drew near. "Ranger, if you have news of Mellonin's brother, pray tell us. We share in her concern. What news, friend?"
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Old 03-28-2004, 05:53 PM   #48
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

Liornung could not decide who was more interesting to study... Ædegard or Amroth. Amroth was naturally interesting, as Liornung had never seen him before, but the expression on Ædegard's face made the young fiddler want to laugh. Ædegard was obviously most angry with all three of his companions and perhaps even a bit angry with himself. Liornung noted with approval, however, that Ædegard did not try to let loose any of his rage upon his horse.

Liornung turned to Bellyn and winked at her once again, inwardly deciding that nothing ever said so much as a wink, smile, and nod. She immediately broke into a smile and gazed about her, looking quite content with all of Middle-earth and everyone in it. She had probably been quite agitated at Ædegard's dark expression.

"I also am pleased with all Middle-earth at the moment," Liornung murmured under his breath, and broke into song.

As the sun rose o'er a little river
I left my native home to wander
far away over mountain and plain
ne'er soon to return again.
For my life it was dreary where it did lie
from the soft, dewy grass to the high standing sky
and I wished for adventure and journeys far
to ride under the moon and down under the stars.


As the sun set o'er a little river
when I had left my home to wander
a fair lassie trembled and stood all alone
crying, "Alas, my lover has gone!"
Yet to her again I swear I'll return
and live with her always by my sweet burn
and when I go to her no more will I roam
and with her by the river I'll make a sweet home.


But alas this dream was not to be
for my lassie had no faith in me.
By the river that night she did not wait
for her lover so early or lover so late.
"My love he is gone away under the sky,
my love he has left me alone to die."
And with pale face she ceased to shiver
and she threw herself into the river.


As the sun rose again o'er that little river
I returned early from all my wanders
and found I new grave with my love's name inscribed:
"By the river she died at morning-tide."
I now I wander in sorrow alone
for, alas, my love she has gone.
Yet by the river still waits my love
and soon to the grave I also will rove.


There was a little pause as he finished his song, and then Bellyn spoke, her voice hinting at tears. "Liornung, 'tis a sad song you have sung," she murmured. "It sorrows my heart."

"And mine too, Miss Bellyn," Liornung replied, a deep sigh bursting from him. "Sometimes I wonder why I wrote it." Despite that the sorrow of the song still lingered, he could not keep back a smile. "It came to me one night as I was sitting by a little river," said he. "And I do not know how, for I've never had a fair young lassie for a lover, and I don't think I ever shall for I would make her so miserable." A little chuckle escaped him. "Yet I have seen many a young lad and lassie roam hand in hand through the long grass as the moon shines overhead, speaking in low tender voices to each other, saying such sweet things, and perhaps that is where the song came from." He shrugged. "I find it difficult to compose happy songs for when I'm filled with joy I don't compose songs, I write music. It's only when I am sorrowful that I ever consider writing songs. Alas for the sorrows of the world." And he fell silent.
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Old 03-28-2004, 07:20 PM   #49
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Shield ROHAN: Ædegard

Liornung's song wove a spell on Ædegard, as had happened many a time before by the bards of the Rohirrim, for it was a good song, and he forgot his anger for a space. But then Liornung spoke in answer to Bellyn, and the spell was broken, and his prattling grated on Ædegard's nerves. At least, until the last thing he had just said.

Alas for the sorrows of the world, indeed. Ædegard was the oldest of his parents, and Theolyn the youngest, there were no others; but there had been many births and deaths in between the two of them, and they had worn on both mother and father, making both of them sad, and his mother ill in health. So it was a sad home, under the currents of daily goings on, that he had left behind, and for that reason alone it was good to be gone. Perhaps, Ædegard considered, Liornung's gay talk was a good thing to be near, as much as it was at odds with what he was used to.

And Ædegard wished deep down in his heart that he could find someone to love and make a life with. It was such hard work to seek marriageable maidens in Edoras, with his parents so ill, and so he had avoided the work by staying at the wheelwrighting. Ah well. He sighed.

"It was a good song, Liornung."
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Old 03-28-2004, 09:26 PM   #50
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

A sister! Ravion had not taken the possibility of family into consideration. What would he do with a young girl to drag along everywhere he went? Having the boy along would be bad enough. He didn't know why he'd offered. And as for Aeron attempting to threaten him, to blackmail him into bringing the sister along..."you'll have to do your own work"? As though he needed Aeron's help! He ought to drag the boy all the way to jail by his impudent tongue. He was about to say something of that nature when he saw Mellonin cover her face with her hands.

Before he could ask what was wrong, Raefindan gently said, "You have had no word. What can you do? Nothing, til you know where he has gone."

"Who has gone, lady?" Ravion asked, confused.

"Mellondu, my younger brother," Mellonin replied, struggling to contain her grief. "He has been missing now for over three weeks. One day after work, he went out, and did not return. He left everything behind except what he was wearing. No one has heard any news."

Ravion frowned. He had that same feeling now that he had received when he first saw Mellonin. "What does he look like?" the Ranger asked, a sinking sensation telling him that he probably shouldn't have.

"Very much like me. He worked in the smithy," Mellonin responded.

Ravion nodded, and the sinking sensation came to a stop. It had apparently hit bottom. He heard himself exclaim, "So the moonstruck blacksmith is your brother! They say he has departed northward from Edoras."

"What! Edoras! Where-- how--" Mellonin stammered. Everyone stared at Ravion, who felt his face go hot at all the attention. "When? Where did he go? How far away is he? Who told you?" Suddenly her expression changed. "Moonstruck? Moonstruck! Who told you that? Why did they say that? What do you mean, moonstruck? Is he all right? He IS all right, isn't he?"

Ravion was relieved to see Raefindan grab Aeron by the belt, but then again, it robbed him of the only distraction he could see. Mellonin's eyes were focused so intently on him that they seemed to burn holes in his face. He tried to look away, but he could sense her desperation, her need to hear what he had heard.

Ravion startled when Morien spoke. "Ranger, if you have news of Mellonin's brother, pray tell us. We share in her concern. What news, friend?"

Now four pairs of eyes were boring into his head, and he gave under the pressure. "I haven't heard much," he said as a disclaimer.

"Anything you've heard will be more than I know now," Mellonin insisted. "Please. Tell me what you have heard."

Ravion took a deep breath and started in. "I was in Rohan not a week gone by," he said. "Hunting orcs, you understand--I didn't talk much to the Rohirrim. I did stay at an Inn, though, and you hear things. The popular topic of conversation was a young man who was described as looking much like you, lady. The stories varied, as stories will, but most said that they found him to be quite mad. Some said he would speak to himself incessently, others said he conversed with spirits, but all agreed that he spoke masterfully and in a manner quite unusual for a blacksmith. They say he claims to be an elf-lord, and is most convinced of it. From what I heard he was making quite a good show of it as well, behaving to the last detail like the elf-lord he claims to be. Those I spoke to said that if they hadn't known that he was a man, they would have believed him."

He stopped briefly and looked at Mellonin, who was listening, expressionless. He cleared his throat. "He was not at the Inn at which I stayed, and he is no longer in Edoras, as I said. As I also said, he is headed north. No one knew where he was bound."

He took a deep breath. "I have told you all I know. I hope that this helps you, and I will help you in any way I can." He willed that uncomfortable feeling to go away--he was only being kind. Surely Mellonin would not require any further help.
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Old 03-29-2004, 07:51 AM   #51
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Silmaril Minas Tirith: Mellonin

Ravion's words echoed dauntingly in her mind. He is headed north. No one knew where he was bound. I have told you all I know.

Edoras... it was so far, so far. She'd never been there; she'd heard about it in song... And what was north of it? Her head spun. Fields... mountains... forests. Wild places inhabited by wilder things. Even as she fought the rising panic, she heard him speak again.

I will help you in any way I can.

She blinked, and looked at him as if she had only seen him for the first time.

A Ranger.

Everything she had ever heard about rangers surged into her mind. They can track where none else could follow. They can hear the rumblings of the earth. They can smell news on the wind. Even silence speaks to them. They will find what they pursue. The panic subsided, and was replaced by a firm, steady, rising hope. Her eyes kindled, and despite her trembling she began to smile.

She looked at the Innkeeper. Morien's face wore a mixture of relief and satisfaction. She looked at Raefindan, and he nodded, fire in his eyes. Raefindan was with her; and now this Ranger. Suddenly she was not alone; far from it. And therefore neither was her brother. This ranger would find him if he could be found.

She studied him again, and every detail she noticed from his weatherstained clothes to his reserved manner and dour attitude served to further bolster her confidence.

Morien nodded, satisfied. "I will send word to the Lady Estelyn. No doubt she would want me to help you prepare for your journey." He turned, and left.

Mellonin placed her hands palm to palm, forefingers on her lips, and turned to Ravion. Her eyes shone as they met his, and she dropped into a deep curtsey. "Oh, thank you. You have given me hope. I know you will find him; together we will find him. Thank you. Oh, how can I ever repay you? I cannot. I will be in your debt, always. Thank you! You will be our guide and our leader. What shall we need? What should we pack? When shall we start? "

She trembled with eagerness and her eyes shone with fervor. She barely restrained herself from taking the ranger's hand, but she laughed for joy instead, and then turned to Raefindan and snatched his free hand, laughing still. Then she composed herself, palms together in front of her lips again; took a deep breath, and said, "What shall we do, sir. I am sorry; my goodness, I don't even-- I have yet to ask you your name!"

Raefindan spoke. "Ravion, this is Mellonin; Mellonin, this is Ravion."

Once again, Mellonin turned to the Ranger. "Ravion. Thank you. Oh, someday you will understand how grateful I am!" She could restrain herself no longer; she stepped forward, and siezed his right hand in both of hers. "May the best of fortune shine on every path you take!"

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Old 03-29-2004, 04:59 PM   #52
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Tolkien

Aeron cuffed Raefindan’s hand that grasped his belt but, considering how much trouble he was already in, stopped and flashed a grin at him. No chance of escape…drat. Apparently Mellonin had a moonstruck brother who fancied himself to be an elf lord. Aeron chuckled: a mortal pretending to be an elf. It was ludicrous. He wondered if the brother knew any elvish.

With exuberant glee, Mellonin asked Ravion to accompany them and, giving his word that he would help her, Aeron knew that he would keep his promise, which would therefore help him because it would put him far out of his pursuer’s clutches. Gwyillion, he thought, could use a bit of excitement in her life. He sighed. Every since they had quit stealing together, she had been rather lonely at home.

Thinking of Gwyllion brought to mind the frown that had creased Ravion’s brow when he had mentioned her. Sweat pricked his brow as Aeron considered that Ravion might not want to have a young woman in tow. He could still find himself shackled to a cell and Gwyllion could scrounge around as best she could. He shuddered.

He looked at the merry group: one young woman, one so-called honorable ranger, and one foreigner who had shocking red hair. Aeron narrowed his eyes at him. Who knew what his intentions were? Banging the table with his fist, he said, “Ahem. As you all know this ranger --” he cast a baleful glance at him -- “offered to have me bind myself to him which I consented to do if he took my sister -- my older sister -- with him. He has not yet answered the question so I would like to suggest a few things. One woman with two young men (three if I go along). That sounds rather…” he paused, and raised his eyebrows, nodding his head solemnly. He let the sentence drop, sure that the others would catch his meaning. “Ahem. That’s where my sister would be rather useful. But she could also help cook --” never mind the fact that she doesn’t know one herb from another and that the food was usually bland -- “ wash the dishes” -- she’ll be more careful about getting every bit of food off since they’ll be traveling in company -- "and do anything else that needs to be done.” He looked at them and added, “She’s not really that bad --leastways, I don’t think so.”
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Old 03-29-2004, 09:50 PM   #53
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

Ravion sat in stunned silence as Mellonin surged around the room, laughing and talking a blue streak. Would that he had heeded that feeling! It had transformed from a slight shiver to a lightning that filled his body, making the hair on the back of his neck stand straight up. Guide? Leader? What had he gotten himself into?

Eventually he realized that his face wasn't betraying his true emotions, but was rather giving Mellonin the idea that he was backing out. He forced a smile onto his face and clapsed the girl's outstretched hand into his. "You have my service. If I can help you to find your brother, I will do so."

As Mellonin accepted graciously and excitedly, Ravion stopped listening, and, while he continued to smile, seriously doubted that he had done the wisest thing. The right thing, probably, the kind thing, the chivalrous thing, and most likely what a Ranger should do, but the wisest thing? He thought not. He was too tired to be tromping all over Middle-earth looking for a crazy blacksmith who thought he was an elf-lord.

But there was another voice inside him telling him that this was the opportunity that he had been looking for. Something to replace the lost battles of the War. A cause. He battled with himself for a moment, his reason and his hang-over arguing to stay here, and his Ranger's spirit telling him to go with Mellonin, and to put everything he had into finding her lost brother. During this fight, he suddenly realized that Aeron had been talking. Luckily his subconscious, along with continuing his smile, and been picking up what the boy had said, so he could respond.

"First off, I'm fairly sure that there's no 'if you come'," Ravion said wryly. "If I go, you go, or you go to jail. I can see in your face that you're opting for the former course of action. Second, you're already getting me on your bad side with your insinuations." Sighing, he turned to Mellonin and Raefindan. "What are your thoughts? I am loathe to bring his sister. Another person will slow us down. But I am not the one who desires haste. Mellonin, I would defer to you. What would you wish?"
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Old 03-29-2004, 10:16 PM   #54
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Boots

Mellonin considered Ravion's question, and then turned to Aeron, and sobered.

"A scoundrel you may be, " she said thoughtfully; "but it seems to me that your love for your sister is your best virtue; hopefully not your only virtue. She is also a thief?"

The question took Aeron by surprise, and all three saw the flicker of indecision that crossed his face. He began to protest, but she held up her hand.

"I see, " Mellonin said. "In that case, she will be under the same bond as you; but more: if you misbehave, she will be turned in with you. And if she misbehaves, you will be turned in with her. Agreed?"

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Old 03-30-2004, 06:46 PM   #55
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

"I think we are agreed," Ravion said abruptly, raising an eyebrow as though to challenge Aeron to disagree. "Even if we are not, that will have to wait for later. If we are to move, we need to prepare. There is much to do before we leave."

He pulled out his pack and started digging through it, making a mental inventory and checklist: what he had with him, and what was still needed. He had a good store of herbs, both for cooking and for medicinal purposes, though he'd need to restock on a few things. Bandages he was sorely in need of. He still had provisions for himself to last nearly a month, but split four ways it would not last nearly so long. Ravion himself was trained to eat very little if the occasion called for it, but he was fairly sure that his companions were not.

"Firstly we will need food," he said, still rooting through his pack. "Mellonin, could you arrange for that? I do not know how long we will be gone, but better safe than sorry: get a fair amount. Something lightweight and easy to pack compactly. We'll need camping gear. I sleep well enough under the stars, and I hope the rest of you do as well, but I hope that you all have blankets and the like. Raefindan, please see to that. Aeron--"

He broke off. "Aeron, come with me. We'll obtain some medical supplies. Shall we meet back here in an hour or two?"
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Old 03-30-2004, 07:16 PM   #56
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1420! Minas Tirith: Mellonin

"Food for travel. Yes, sir." Mellonin turned on her heel and hurried towards the stairway door, but then stopped abruptly and turned to look at Morien.

"What d'ye tarry for?" he snorted, and with a wave of his barkeep's rag shooed her out the door. "Wait! Mellonin, get back here."

She ran back to the bar. He thumbed seven coins into his palm, and handed them to her. "That's this week's. Now go... Raefindan!"

Mellonin curtseyed, thanked him (it was an advance) and ran upstairs, siezed her cloak and basket; then from under her mattress took her two weeks saved pay, and then ran back to the door, but stopped, returned, and rummaged in the pile in the corner til she found Mellon's backpack and her own shoulder-bag. Thus prepared, she ran down the stairs and headed for the market.

Back in the bar, Morien thumbed seven more coins into own palm, motioned Raefindan over, and gave him the same advance in pay.

"Thank you, sir, " was Raefindan's heartfelt reply.

"There are extra blankets in the back of the tack room in the stable, under a pile of saddles. They're old and thin and have holes, so take two each. I can't spare the good ones; wear your cloaks outside 'em and you'll be warm enough. And I can't spare any camping gear but if I were you, I'd go and ask some of the retired Ithilien rangers if they can spare any camping gear. Old Damrod comes to mind, three doors beyond the fifth gate." Raefindan sped out the door and headed for the fifth gate.

Ravion looked up to see Morien approaching. He was not a small man, and his face was not smiling. "You'll guide them well," Morien growled.

Ravion returned his gaze quietly, waiting to see whether it was a compliment or a threat.

Morien placed Ravion's half-forgotten mug of frothing ale in front of him. "Here is what I owe you, " the barkeep said. "And now, if you don't mind--" Morien nudged the bowl of soupy pebbles, and then patted the bag.

Ravion turned to Aeron. "You can give him the stolen coin willingly and peacefully. Or, we can search you for it. Which shall it be?"

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Old 03-30-2004, 08:51 PM   #57
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Tolkien

Being searched, or handing the coins over willingly. Neither was a pleasant option. Aeron grimaced, rolled his eyes, and stalked towards the table where he emptied several pockets. Brass coins and silver coins tumbled to the table. Aeron leaned his elbow on the table, raised his eyebrow at Morien and Ravion and said, "There. That's all of it -- probably a little extra as well."

"More than likely stolen from some poor other victim," Morien muttered, sweeping the coins into the empty pouch.

Aeron nodded. "More than likely." He grinned at the Inn-keeper.

Morien, muttering something about "young miscreants" went towards the kitchen. Aeron turned, glanced at Ravion, and said, "Where shall we go, Lord Ravion?" He bowed deeply, a small grin hanging about his lips.

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Old 03-30-2004, 08:55 PM   #58
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Tolkien ROHAN: Ædegard

The sun had set and still Mellon, or Amroth, as he seemed to prefer right now, drove them northward. Ædegard did not mind the starry night, but he knew that their horses needed rest, as did they.

"It is late," he declared. "We should make a camp and ride on at dawn."

Amroth the blacksmith looked to Ædegard as one pulled from a dream to the mundane.

"It is as you say. Let us keep an eye out for a likely place."

"One with a good inn and a fine draft would be well," Ædegard replied, "but it will not be found this night."

They stopped beside one of the many streams running across the plains of Rohan, lined with willows and brush. The stream would be easily forded in the morning. Ædegard made quick work of a fire with his flint, while Bellyn and Liornung saw to the horses. Soon they sat around a merry little fire, chewing on some of the fare they had brought with them.

Soon they were full, and settle for the night. Despite Liornung's penchant for talk late into the night, Ædegard was weary enough and soon fell into dreamless sleep.

Next morning they were awake with the dawn, broke their fast, and were on their way before the sun was an hour past dawn in a clear blue sky. Spring was in the air; they saw patches of melting snow here and there in vales hidden from the sourtherly rays of the sun.

"How far is it form Edoras to Lorien, then?" Ædegard asked, "and how many days before we arrive there?"
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Old 03-31-2004, 10:30 PM   #59
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

"Where shall we go, Lord Ravion?" Aeron asked insolently. Ravion glared at him for a moment, then grabbed him by the collar. He told Morien where he was headed in case Mellonin or Raefindan needed him, or if he was out later than he anticipated, and started out.

They garnered more than a few stares, the short, stocky Ranger dragging along the taller Aeron along the main streets of Gondor. Finally Aeron shook him off and followed sullenly, but of his own volition. Ravion led him down the back paths to a small, dark shop.

Stepping out of the rain-fresh air into the shop was something of an olfactory shock. The shop smelled strongly of incense and herbs, underlayered with pipe smoke. In the far right corner of the shop a wizened old lady was humming to herself and binding some lambs' ear together. The old woman very much matched her business. Her clothes were all jewel tones: emeralds and deep ruby reds and sapphire blues. Her silver hair was bound up in an amber scarf, tied at the nape of her neck with two tails hanging down past her shoulders. Her fingers, as they bound the lambs' ear, were quick and skillful: this was not the first time she had done this. Her brown eyes sparkled in the light of the oil lamps she kept by her desk.

Ravion cleared his throat politely, and the old woman whirled around defensively, then broke out into a smile when she saw the Ranger.

"Ravion!" she exclaimed, and, leaving her work, hurried across the shop to embrace him. He accepted her embrace warmly, for the woman was like a second mother to him. "What are you doing back in town, child? I thought you were off in Rohan hunting those orcs."

"I found the orcs and returned," he said, a smile on his face. "I've come to buy some more herbs, and some of your bandages. They work quite well."

"Your line of work calls for them altogether too much," she muttered. Ravion rolled his eyes good-naturedly. They had had this conversation before. She saw his gesture and grumbled a little, then put her hands on her hips. "Well, are you going to introduce me to your friend, or not?"

At first Ravion didn't know who she meant. Then he followed her eyeline to Aeron. His friend? He almost choked. "This is Aeron, my..." He couldn't quite think of the right word. "He's in my service for now. Aeron, this is Lothwen, the most renowned and skillful herbalist in all of Gondor."

"Oh, come now," Lothwen retorted, but her face glowed with pride. "That honor belongs to the King, and you know it. I do what I can with what I have. Aeron, 'tis a pleasure to meet you. Serve Ravion well--he'll requite it." She gave the boy a maternal kiss on the cheek, which Aeron accepted somewhat awkwardly. "Now, Ravion, what can I get for you? Oh, yes, bandages. My bandages, I'll tell you in the modesty of honor, Aeron, are the finest in Gondor. I have a trick to them. I won't tell you what it is, but it involves lambs' ear and bloodmoss, I'll tell you that much. Stops the flow of blood right up, and if you apply this balm to it, leaves no room for infection!" She bustled around the shop, gathering an armful of greenish bandages, all wrapped tightly in little rolls. The sight would have been slightly unnerving, the green of the bandages, had Ravion not known that the green came from the combination of herbs that Lothwen used in the making.

"Bandages for you, as well as more balm, because I know if you've run out of bandages you've run out of balm. Here's some extra bloodmoss in case you're cut somewhere where a bandage would be difficult to wrap. Here's that--what's the name of it? oh, I can't recall--it's good for dehydration. You don't drink enough, unless you're at a tavern. Oh, don't look at me that way, boy, you know it's true. You shouldn't drink so much. The bottle will be the death of you yet!"

"Lothwen, how much do I owe you?" Ravion asked quickly, before she could gain too much momentum in her speech.

The old woman's face softened. "Nothing, boy. Just keep safe." She patted him on the cheek with her soft, dry hand, and put everything in a sack. "I can tell you're off somewhere, Ravion, and that it might be more dangerous even than your last few missions. You don't need to pay me, as long as you promise me you'll stay safe. However, if you come back with so much as a scrape, you'll owe me every penny this lot ought to cost!"

Ravion smiled and kissed Lothwen on the forehead. "I'll do my best," he said, taking the sack. "I'll see you when I get back, Lothwen."

"See that you do!" Lothwen called as Ravion and Aeron left. "And remember: one scrape, and you owe me every penny!"

Ravion laughed as he left. "She's a character," he said softly.
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Old 03-31-2004, 10:59 PM   #60
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Boots

Mellonin dashed into the inn and went back into the kitchen. She put her basket, bag, and backpack on a table, carefully emptied them, and divided the foods into equal groups of five, muttering "Raisins. Dried meat. Hard cheese. Cram. Tea." She glanced at the grey-clad staffer who stood beside her, and he nodded approvingly.

Now for apples, nuts, dried peaches and pears, and (she hoped) some more cram. She hoped to save a few coins for purchasing food later on in the trip. Knowing that the supplies would be quite safe under the guard of the grey-clad kitchen staff, she thanked them, snatched up her basket, bag, and knapsack, and ran back out to the marketplace.

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Old 03-31-2004, 11:34 PM   #61
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Tolkien

Aeron hunched forward and watched the old woman -- what was her name? -- bustle about the room through narrow eyes as she explained about bandages and herbs. Lothwen…that was the name. Her hair was so silver…so bright…her eyes glowed with kindness. He sighed and cast an expert eye about the place: nothing but greenery and not a coin in sight. He bit his lips. Not that he’d be able to steal anyway, he thought, glaring at Ravion.

“She’s a character,” Ravion murmured as they left the shop.

“Quite,” Aeron agreed, casting a lingering eye upon a passing jewelry shop. Ravion’s hand grasped him by the collar and forced him to stare straight ahead, the line of shops a blur upon his line of sight.

“I wasn’t going to steal anything,” he retorted, brushing Ravion’s hand away.

The ranger’s strong hands gripped Aeron’s wrist, twisting it towards him. Aeron whimpered slightly with the pain that tore up his arm. “Yes, but you were thinking it, weren’t you?”

“There’s nothing wrong with thinking,” Aeron muttered. His eyes burned with annoyance as he scowled at Ravion. “You may be a ranger, you may control me and my actions, but you can’t control my thoughts.”

With a sigh, Ravion let Aeron’s wrist drop. “No, I do not claim to control man’s thoughts,” he said. “But what is to stop a man from thinking, and eventually doing the deed?”

Aeron remained silent, not sure what to say. Did this have something to do with “thieves honour”? But how could it, when thieves were not in question? He shook his head, lamenting again his cursed luck that had forced him to fall in with this ranger.

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Old 04-01-2004, 10:03 AM   #62
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Eye Minas Tirith: Raefindan

Raefindan juggled the cooking pans, the flint ("Your guide probably has one, but you never know if you might get separated; best to have your own") and the best gift of all, an old dagger. "Blade's a bit thin; been sharpened more than once. But it's better than nought," Damrod had said.

"You'll need water bottles if you're crossing the plains. Don't short yourself. Rohan's a big country, " old Damrod had warned him. Raefindan hurried down to the sixth circle, repeating the directions under his breath. Through the sixth gate, seven houses further, up the back stairs, third room on the left.

"Hello, Anborn." He bowed, a little breathless. "I'm Raefindan."

"Greetings, " said the ranger, who wasn't old at all. Raefindan wondered why a young active ranger would be willing to part with equipment, and worried that his trip might have been in vain.

"Damrod told me to seek you. I'm preparing for a journey, and I'm in need of a bow, quiver, and arrows. Damrod thought you'd know where I could obtain some inexpensively."

Anborn studied him skeptically. "A bow." Raefindan noticed Anborn inspecting his hands.

"No, I don't know how to use one. Damrod told me to learn from Ravion. He was adamant. I thought it best to heed his advice."

"Ah. I see. Well, perhaps I can help you, then. I will return shortly." Anborn stepped into a back room and bawled out a name and a command, neither of which Raefindan caught, and then he returned. "Where are you travelling to, may I ask?"

Raefindan shrugged. "North. We are pursuing a friend's brother, who is... moonstruck. He's headed north from Edoras."

"You have some catching up to do. I wish you all speed." A strapping young man appeared in the doorway, and Anborn gestured. "Anmir, Raefindan is in need of a bow; he must learn to shoot."

Anmir smiled. "Of course, father." He left, and returned in moments with a bow and handed it to Raefindan, and then looked at his father. "I have outgrown this bow; it is a good bow to learn on. But I have only one quiver, father, and I cannot in good conscience surrender it."

"I can give him a quiver."

"Then I can spare some arrows." He turned to leave.

"Bring my quiver, Anmir. "

The young man glanced in surprise at his father, but bowed and left.

Anborn turned to Raefindan and said, "Your guide will no doubt tell you this. But while you are practicing, and indeed whenever you can, try to shoot downward, or down-hill. You are less likely to lose arrows that way. " Anmir returned with six arrows in one hand (which he gave to Raefindan) and a quiver in the other which he gave to his father.

Anborn removed six arrows from the quiver, and handed the quiver with the remaining six arrows to Raefindan.

Raefindan blinked, and his heart sank. "Sir... you can't give me your only quiver. I'm afraid I can't pay you what it is worth. "

Anborn nodded at his son, who said, "Peace, friend. Take the bow as a gift, and the arrows likewise. You shall have need of them, I assure you."

Raefindan bowed, and then looked at Anborn.

"You do not have time to make a quiver for yourself," Anborn said. "That one will serve you well. And if I cannot spare the time to make a new one my son may."

Raefindan held his eyes in silent astonishment, and then bowed and said, "These are beyond price. Thank you."

"Nay, " said Anborn. "The life of a man and his friends is worth a bow and quiver. Learn to make arrows, for you will lose more than one 'ere you return. Farewell! May the moon-curse depart from your friend's brother, and may he and your party safely return home."

Raefindan gathered all his treasures, putting the six loose arrows carefully into the quiver with the other six; bowed again and said farewell. He walked out the hallway and down the stairs, and out into the street, and stopped to gather his thoughts. He still needed to visit Silmas for water bottles. So far, no one had accepted any money. Old Damrod said the price of the gear was the tale he would return with.

The people of this city seemed to take it as a matter of course that no man should travel unarmed and ill-supplied. Why did this generosity astound him? Was it simply that they still believed in the old rules of hospitality?

And just why did he think of those rules as old?

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Old 04-01-2004, 12:19 PM   #63
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Estelyn and Morien emerged from his private room, still speaking in low tones, just as Mellonin attempted to open the door to the Inn. The Innkeeper hastened to help her and Estelyn laughed as she caught several packages that threatened to fall from the girl’s grasp.

“My lady Estelyn!” Mellonin gasped. “You have come!”

“Indeed I have,” the princess smiled. “How could I let you go without hearing for myself this astonishing tale! Come, you shall bring your packages to a safe place and then we will have a glass of wine together while you tell me all.”

And so it came that they sat at the table in the kitchen, Estelyn listening intently while Mellonin related what she had heard of her brother and how she hoped to find him. The girl looked at her somewhat apprehensively. “Morien has said that he is willing to let me go; will you release me from your service as well?” she asked anxiously.

“I shall not release you,” Estelyn answered.

Mellonin’s eyes widened. “But how can I find my brother then? Perhaps he is in trouble and needs my help!”

“Do not worry,” Estelyn smiled reassuringly. “You may go, and that with my blessing. But I ask you to continue the task that you began for me here at the Inn. Write your story and others that you hear in the course of your travels. When you return to the White City, they will be added to the library.”

The girl breathed a sigh of relief. “Of course, my lady – I will be happy to do that!”

“I have brought you some writing material for the journey,” the Head Loremistress of Minas Tirith continued. “Do you have all other provisions and equipment that you need?”

“We have almost everything,” a deep voice answered. Their heads turned to see the Ranger entering the room. Mellonin was not quite sure, but it seemed to her that a flicker of recognition was visible in Estelyn’s eyes when she saw Ravion. “Raefindan should be back soon with the things he procured.” The princess’ eyebrow raised slightly as she saw the young man who followed in his wake.

Mellonin hastened to introduce her companions, then asked, “You have travelled often; what good counsel would you give me for my journey?”

“I can give you none,” came the answer promptly. “I do not have the gift of foresight, and you yourself do not know where your path will lead. You are wise not to attempt to travel alone; good, dependable (again, her eyes strayed briefly to Aeron) companions are needed on such a quest. What you need to know already lies within you, and I can add nothing to that now, save my good wishes. May you have success in finding your brother, and may you return safely!”

With those last words, Estelyn embraced Mellonin briefly, much to her surprise, then turned to clasp first Ravion’s hand, then Aeron’s and that of Raefindan, who had entered the room with his burdens. There was a moment of awkward silence when she left, then they all began talking at once.

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Old 04-01-2004, 04:53 PM   #64
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"How far is it form Edoras to Lorien, then?" Ædegard asked, "and how many days before we arrive there?"

Bellyn calculated as she prepared her horse and looked back to Ædegard. "From Edoras, Lothlorien is close to three-hundred miles away. We have not traveled far. As for how long it will take to get there, I cannot rightly say. It all depends on how fast we go, I'd imagine. Do you wish to go through the Wold, or through Fangorn? Through Fangorn, I'd say, unless you wish to cross the Entwash. I've heard some strange stories about that area though, I must mention it. You see my father said -" Bellyn felt she could continue all day, but Ædegard blew an impatient sigh and interrupted her before she could continue.

"My question was about the distance to Lorien, not about the Entwash and its legends. Let us move!" Ædegard mounted his horse, Liornung following suit. Bellyn clumsily did the same, and before long the group was on it's way again.

Bellyn sighed, looking over to Liornung. "He's got no short supply of unhappiness, I'm afraid," Bellyn pointed out as Ædegard rode ahead. "He was moved, yesterday, by your somber song. Perhaps a happy one might sway his mood?"

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Old 04-01-2004, 06:46 PM   #65
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

Liornung paused at Bellyn's word. She was, in a way, requesting him to sing another song not only for Ædegard but for herself, as well. Or did he merely flatter himself? Mellon, or rather Amroth, had not spoken much, and no matter what he desired Ædegard would not ask for a song. To have Bellyn request it of him, though, would be high praise. He searched back into the depths of his memory. He had once sung a very cheerful song that had made everyone about him dance, but it had been long since the words had fallen from his lips and he wondered if he dared venture to sing a song he did not remember well. Yet he would no betray the trust of Bellyn. She was young and was not accustomed to Ædegard's critical view of all things and people. It was indeed odd that the young man should expect so much of others yet not be willing to give equally as much himself.

Yes, the song was returning to him now. Liornung touched his heels against his horse and moved up closer to Ædegard so the latter might easily hear the song. He went through it once more in his mind as a precaution before singing aloud. When he did begin to sing the tune was merry and the words sung quickly enough to be a challenge to the singer but so slow that it might be understood. Liornung's eyes were sparkling and he patted his bay's neck in time to the music, smiling widely.

Come all you wanderers who travel this country o'er
take heed to my words, you that wander here and there,
take heed to my words, you that wander to and for
be you adventurous laddie or sweet lassie so fair.
Take heed and my words do not cast aside
for wanderers should hear all that which I will tell
from your first unsure step to your last stride
in all your merry greetings and all your sad farewells.


I left my home when day early in the spring
with adventure in my mind and song in my heart
I left when the world was young and fair as anything
and from my father and mother, sure I dared to part
for the open road did call me with beckoning so sweet
and lured with a smile full of strange mystery
and so I left on very lightly dancing feet
in the night, fair night when the moon shone clearly.


I stopped along the way at a little, pleasant inn
and there heard song that quickened heart's beat
and with my pleasant laughter many a kindly heart did win
and danced with many a lassie so graceful and fleet.
'Twas with a bit of sadness I bid to them farewell
but the road dispelled my sorrow as 'Onward!' it did call
and offered me many a song to buy and then to sell
to poor peasant man and king in his decked hall.


Well, first I met an old man as he hobbled along
hair as white as snow and eyes as blue as sky
muttering of all the things on that had been and were gone
the first being that, "No longer a young man am I!
But yet it is not so terrible being so old
for I have many grandchildren to dandle on my knee
and though my hair has lost its marvelous gold
still there is none so marvelous as me!"


Well, then I met a lassie and she was grieving sore
and a-moaning for a laddie who had gone away
and truly she didn't think she'd see him anymore
but to worry was no use for he came back that very day.
"Ah what a silly young girl was then I
to think that you would not return to me.
Sure, I thought my heard would break and I would die
but still you love your lassie and I love ye!"


Well, then I met a mother with her darling child
who tripped and who skipped by his mammy's side
and sure he was so bonny my heart he near beguiled
and the family fancied me and bid me awhile bide.
"Oh laddie fair is your face and so's that of my daughter
and if you'd stay awhile I know that you would love her
whether she's fair or ugly, what then does it matter?
You'll take her, surely, for no other man would have her."


Well, then I met the daughter, the bonny babe's sister
and she was sweet and fair and had kind manners
and I found no more delight than to sit and list' to her
for she knew of love and of war's unfurling banners.
She spoke so delightfully and knew so many tales
and had the sweetest smile that my heart was seized.
I stopped her as to the barn she went with her milking pails
and told her if she'd marry me I'd be right well pleased.


Well, then she went along with me and loved me well
she didn't mind my wanderings but said she'd go with me
and to her mother and her father she bid her farewell
and together we rode out under broad sky so free.
We didn't mind the rain and neither did we the snow
but travelled hand in hand from town to town
and over secret lanes often we did go
in the spring through grass green and in fall through brown.


Well, then I met a babe so bonny and so fair
if truth must be said, the laddie was my son
he had his mother's blue eyes and fair golden hair,
but with woeful heart I knew my traveling days were done.
I ceased to roam and wonder to build a little home
where my lassie would live, my son, and me
and I shan't mind the day when more babies come
like the old man my grandchildren I'll dandle on my knee!


As the last note faded away into the morning air and the birds took it up and carried it to their family and friends to be spread throughout the wilderness. Liornung laughed merrily and, gazing contentedly at Bellyn, bowed and said, "Have I pleased you, fair one? It was a long song, but it was indeed a merry one!"
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Old 04-02-2004, 07:35 AM   #66
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Boots MINAS TIRITH: Mellonin

Mellonin, Raefindan, Ravion and Aeron had finished packing. Ravion was deep in thought about the immanent departure. Mellonin and Raefindan went to find Morien.

"Well, all equipped and ready?" Morien said.

"Yes, sir, " replied Mellonin. "And please, sir, I wanted to thank you again for the advance. That was very generous of you. Thank you."

He studied her. She could be perceptive, or flighty, she could be thoughtful or absent-minded. "I assume you have spoken with your parents?" he said.

She shook her head. "We will pass by their house on the way out. I planned to stop in then."

"Mellonin, how can you be so foolish? Contact them now."

"Why?"

"How can they do anything to help you if you don't give them any notice?"

Her face fell. "They have so little. I do not want to burden them."

He snorted. "Foolish girl. If your corpse rots in the wilderness, They will have even less. Where do your parents live?"

"In the lowest circle."

"Tell Ravion where it is, and have them all meet you there."

Raefindan waved her out. She snatched up her cloak and pack, the shoulder-bag, and the awkward bundle of clothes and equipment that she was going to change into; she would have to change in her parent's room. Hurriedly giving Ravion the directions to the room her parents lived in, she hurried to the door.

She turned with a sinking heart and looked back. In such a short time, the Inn had become a comfortable place. Morien in the end had shown her kindness behind his gruff exterior. And there were so many others to whom she wished she had time to say farewell. Her eyes fell on Estelyn, who was now talking to the Inn owner, and she fervently wished her well.

Raefindan waved her out again, and she turned and left the Inn.

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Old 04-03-2004, 03:22 PM   #67
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Tolkien ROHAN: Ædegard

Liornung's song made Ædegard's head ache, but he kept that to himself. Bellyn had seemed so stung by his words, which he admitted to himself, came out far sharper than he had intended. Maybe it was because he liked her and it was hard to let himself show it.

Yes, the song had been long. Overlong, but it was over soon enough, and they had the peace of the quiet grassy fields, with little sound beyond the thump of hooves on turf.

"We should avoid the marshes," Ædegard offered. "We do not want to lose good horses in a bog."

He looked to the others to see if there was agreement.
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Old 04-03-2004, 04:23 PM   #68
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Shield Rohan: Mellon - Amroth

They were startled when the young blacksmith spoke next. "We will certainly not cross the marshes; she would not linger there. We will trace the edge of Fangorn Forest."

Ædegard, Liornung, and Bellyn exchanged glances and raised eyebrows.

"As to how quickly we will travel, that depends on how deeply we challenge these generous horses. Each one is courageous; none will refuse us what we ask."

"And what kind of challenge did you have in mind?" asked Ædegard.

The young blacksmith's eyes met Ædegard's, and Amroth wondered if Ædegard would understand. "They will find rest when I do."

"I will not mistreat these horses, " said Ædegard indignantly, and Liornung nodded in support. Bellyn's eyes grew wide.

Amroth fell silent. Just like his somehow weakened, deadened, unresponsive body, these horses would need physical rest. And these mortals would need rest. He knew it. But that did not make it easier to bear. Every delay gnawed at him, every moment passed in stilness. His whole being cried Onward!

He reached down, and stroked Echo's neck. "Nor do I, " he said. Then he opened his mind to the horses. "Friends, I have need of great haste. But do not let me forget the rest you need."

He released their minds, and turned his heart northward with a silent cry.

The only rest I will find is in your arms, beloved. Where, where are you? Come find me. Speak to me. O Nimrodel, Nimrodel, sing to me again.

Echo tossed his head and lengthened his stride.

~*~*~
Alaklondewen's post
~*~*~

The golden forest was pleasantly quiet as Erebemlin moved soundlessly through the trees. He was following a set of deer tracks that were heading toward the river. If he found the animal delayed by the water’s edge, there would be enough fresh meat for the next few weeks. With winter on the way, the ellon knew the importance of having meat before he and the others found themselves without for the remainder of the season.

As he neared the river, its quiet murmur met his ears. He stopped momentarily, leaning against a mighty mellorn and loosely fitted an arrow to his bow. Steadying his hand, he inhaled deeply and swiftly stepped over bringing the weapon to his eye and pulling the arrow back in one sweeping moment. The buck stood only a few yards from his position, and he readied himself to fire.

The arrow, however, never flew. Just as Erebemlin began to loosen his grip, a cry filled the forest. Speak to me. O Nimrodel, Nimrodel, sing to me again. Then, as quickly as it came, the call was gone. The hunter lowered his weapon and opened his heart searching for its source, but the thought had departed.

Nimrodel. Erebemlin was perplexed by this mysterious cry. The thoughts were so desperate, but who would be searching for the maiden who had long been lost to the world. He could think of only one, but his King had departed long ago for the lands West of the sea.

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Old 04-03-2004, 05:18 PM   #69
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

Ravion went over their inventory, quickly sorting through the things that Mellonin and Raefindan collected. Everything seemed to be in order. Enough food, enough water, blankets, supplies...everything was good to go.

Everything spread out in front of him, he sat back on his heels, staring at the equipment. In his mind he flashed back to packing for the last battle of the War.

"Ravion! Is everything ready?"

Ravion looked up at the speaker, his friend, his brother Ranger, Dalros. In this half-dream he was in the moment, but still knew that Dalros would die in the battle that they were preparing for.

"Everything's ready," Ravion said, closing the bag tightly and throwing it to Dalros, who caught it deftly and slung it over his shoulder.

"What about you?" Dalros asked, crouching by Ravion. His messy blond hair was caked with dirt, and his face was smudged as well, but his bright blue eyes were clearly visible. Right now, they were fixed intensely on Ravion.

"Me?" Ravion stalled. He didn't want to talk about this right now.

"You know what I mean," Dalros pressed. "If you're still...mourning..."

"My father died for this war," Ravion snapped, throwing his own pack over his shoulder and starting off. "If he gave his life, I can't do any less than give my effort."

"Don't make this battle about your father! He wouldn't want you to risk your life because you're grieving!" Dalros shouted, but Ravion was not listening. He was going to do this, just like his father did. It was what he was in this world to do.


"Ravion, is everything ready?"

Ravion startled and nearly fell over, then calmed down when he saw Raefindan. "Everything's ready," the Ranger said, shoving it all into bags and handing one to Raefindan. "Mellonin will probably want to put some distance behind us before nightfall."

He paused and looked around. Three companions. Raefindan, Aeron...

"Where is Mellonin?" he asked Raefindan.
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Old 04-03-2004, 08:03 PM   #70
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Tolkien Minas Tirith: Raefindan

"Where is Mellonin?" Ravion asked.

"She has gone to say goodbye to her mother and father. She'll be back soon."

Ravion gave him a blank look, which cleared. "She will be back soon," he translated. "You have an odd way of speaking."

Raefindan grinned. "I would say the same of you, except that I'm apparently the stranger."

Ravion shook his head. "A pair only? What pair is the stranger? Are we not all strangers to each other? I do not understand you."

Raefindan looked down. "I'm sorry. I meant to say that it seems that I am the stranger here, so it is my speech that is odd to you.

"What about my sister?" Aeron asked.

Ravion scowled and turned to Aeron. "When Mellonin returns, you will lead us to your sister. Then we go."

"My thanks, lord Ravion." Aeron made a flagrant bow. Raefindan snickered. Ravion frowned.
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Old 04-03-2004, 09:41 PM   #71
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Boots Minas Tirith: Mellonin

Mellonin indeed appeared as they spoke.

"Great Scott, that's a change, " Raefindan said. Three blank stares were turned his way, and then Mellonin laughed.

"Well, by Jorje, at least you knew me, " she replied.

Raefindan threw back his head and laughed, while Ravion and Aeron exchanged skeptical glances. "I'm not sure I would have, if we hadn't been talking about you. Are you going to cut your hair as well?"

She grimaced. "Should I? I hate to, but if you think I should...?" She glanced at Ravion.

Ravion surveyed her thoroughly. Her brother's leggings, shirt, and tunic fitted her loosely, which was well, since her figure was hidden.

He shook his head. "Not all of it. But if you were a traveller, it should be more tattered. Here." He drew his knife, and Aeron and Raefindan watched closely.

"Loosen it, " he said. She pulled off the tie, and shook out the braids. He hesitated. "You're quite sure you want to travel as a man."

"Do you not think I should?"

"Yes, I certainly do. You will be safer that way. But... if you wear most of your hair in a single braid underneath your cloak and tunic, I need only ruin part of it."

She nodded, very seriously. He drew near with the knife, and soon ragged wisps fell about her face and ears. More, and thicker wisps went down her back to her collar. "I think that's enough. Hold the knife." With surprising deftness he braided the rest of her hair in a single braid, now somewhat thinner than it would have been, and showed her the end of the braid which she tied off and tucked under her tunic. He stood back to survey his work, and nodded. "Now you need a manly name."

She smiled. "Father suggested I take Mellondu's given name: Fingon."

He nodded. "And you need to smile less... sweetly. We will work on that. Are we ready?"

"Father insisted we all stop by on the way out," Mellonin warned him.

Ravion sighed. "Very well. To the stable for Gond, and then a brief visit to your parents."

"We need not remain long. But they insisted we all stop by, " Mellonin replied.

They filed out towards the stable.

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Old 04-05-2004, 09:50 AM   #72
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Boots Minas Tirith: Mellonin

Mellonin could hardly contain her excitement as they walked down the street past all the houses and inns and shops. Finally, she was taking action; finally she was pursuing her dear brother. Her heart had not been this light since she saw him last.

"Here we are, " Mellonin said, and smiled. "Wait here!" She slipped inside the door, up the stairs, down the corridor, and knocked on the door.

Her father opened it, and her mother was just behind him. "Hello, Mellonin. Where are your companions?"

"With Ravion's horse. We must not tarry, Mother."

"Of course, my dear. Take us to them. But first, take this." And she handed Mellonin a small but heavy suede pouch.

Mellonin frowned, opened the drawstring, and gasped. "Whence came this, Mother?"

"Do not let that concern you, dear. Take it and go."

"But-- Father, whence came this? What have you done?"

Her father placed a hand on each of her shoulders, and said, "We would have given the shield to Mellondu when he came of age. Were he not here to receive it, what good would it do him or us?"

Tears started in Mellonin's eyes, but she nodded. "I see."

"Our hearts go with you, child," said Mother, giving her a kiss.

"Take us to your companions," said Father.

They followed her down the stairs, and Father clasped hands with Ravion, Raefindan, and Aeron in turn. Mother did likewise; they each gave Aeron a keen glance, but said nothing. They turned to Ravion, and exchanged solemn words of blessing and farewell, and stepped back and raised one hand each. "May the Valar guide you, " said Father. "And may you find our son, and return with him safely. Go, and may you find safe paths."

Ravion bowed. Raefindan nodded. Aeron looked just a little solemn, for a moment. Then Ravion led them away.
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Old 04-05-2004, 11:39 AM   #73
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Tolkien

After a few hours of traveling in the fading afternoon, they small company reached the village. It was a comparatively small village with shambling hovels and weedy yards. Most of the houses had small gardens, which seemed to be the only thing that thrived. They neared a crumbling cottage, however, that did not have a garden. Or if, there was one, could not be distinguished from the amongst the weeds.

“I will go in alone,” said Aeron as they neared their gardenless cottage. “She does not care for strangers,” he added. It wasn’t an outright lie. No strangers ever came to their wealthy hovel, so maybe she was and maybe she wasn’t. He needed to talk to her alone before any of the others saw her.

He pushed the door and it opened with soft creak. “Gwyllion,” he called. No answer. “Gwyllion!” he called again, only louder this time. “ Gwyllion! ” Where could she be? Frowning, he ran to the kitchen -- and froze.

Gwyllion was crouched in the corner, moaning and rocking softly. A knife, daubed with blood, was some feet away from her knees. Rivulets of blood streamed down her hand, their source a nasty cut on her second finger. The blood would rise bulbously from the cut, flow down her finger, and separate from the knuckle, creating a sort of delta around it. “Oh no…” he whispered.

She was muttering something and Aeron crept forward, hoping to catch the words. “I am dying…I am dying… I am dying!

Aeron felt cold; his lips were dry. Was she really dying? He bolted to her, tearing a strip of cloth from his shirt as he did so.

Her dark blue dress clung to her, damp with sweat, and she rocked violently back and forth. “ I do not want to die! ” Aeron tried to grasp her hand, but she fought him and slapped him across the face. Small convulsions rippled through her body; her breathing was quick and shallow, almost as if she was gasping for air. What if the fit continued, and she couldn’t breathe? He shuddered.

He slapped her. Hard. It was a finger of pain to drag her from her sea of terror. She stopped shaking, and Aeron wiped the blood from her hand and bound the cut, tightly. “There is nothing to fear, little Gwyll,“ he murmured.

Finally, she raised her thin pale face and smiled at him. “Aeron.”

“Fearful One,” Aeron returned, shoving her slightly.

“Cruel hearted one!” she shouted, pushing him back.

“I have told you not to use knives when I’m gone,” he said, frowning at her. “You always manage to cut yourself.” He paused. She had always been petrified of blood…of anything that looked like blood. He tittered when he remembered the first time she had seen a goblet full of red wine, only she thought it had been blood and had refused to drink it.

“Did you find anything of value?” she asked.

“Yes,” he snapped, the memory of Ravion and his bondage coming back to him like an unpleasant dream returns to one newly awakened. He quickly told her how he had been caught and about Ravion’s deal. “Gwyllion, we must be careful about this. If either of us misbehave, we will find ourselves in a jail cell.”

“With mice to play with,” she added quickly.

“I would think that it would be rats instead of mice,” Aeron said. “Do not do anything foolish, Gwyllion.”

“I would never!” she cried. “Methinks you should listen to your advice, Aeron the Thief, Aeron the Mischief-maker, Aeron the Swindler.”

“Well, come. They are waiting for us outside,” he said quickly, grasping her hand and pulling her to her feet. He wondered briefly if he should forewarn her about Raefindan’s red hair -- and then decided not to. It would be interesting to see if she truly was afraid of the colour red.

“Ravion, Raefindan, and Mellonin, this is my sister Gwyllion.”

He glanced down at her and saw that her blanched cheeks and followed her gaze to Raefindan. “I told you he was a foreigner,” he muttered.

“His hair is red! How do you know he is not a Gondorian who colored it…somehow?”

Without waiting for him to answer, she skipped towards Ravion and, with a deep curtsey, said, “Ravion, my brother’s liege.”

She curtseyed again, and then crept towards the horse, and began to stroke his muzzle. Aeron strode to Mellonin and whispered, “Keep her away from knives.”

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Old 04-05-2004, 05:42 PM   #74
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Minas Tirith: Ravion

Ravion frowned as they approached Aeron's home. It was run-down and little more than a hovel. He glanced at the boy, who was determinedly refusing to look at him. What sort of place was this to grow up in?

"I will go in alone. She does not care for strangers," Aeron said as he walked into the house. Ravion, who had stepped forward to accompany him into the house, fell back and went back to Mellonin and Raefindan.

He ran his fingers through Gond's mane, clumsily combing out the knots and tangles. The horse looked at him with liquid brown eyes, and Ravion smiled. "We'll be back on the road soon," he promised in a whisper. Gond bobbed his head, and Ravion leaned against his neck.

Aeron was taking a long time. Ravion, impatient and a little worried, hummed an old Rohirric tune. He had learned it from a young Rohirric soldier he had fought alongside. It was traditional to sing it before a battle: haunting, wistful, in a minor key, it matched his temperment well. He didn't feel like singing it outright yet. This was not a battle. Yet.

Finally Aeron came out, with his younger sister in tow. "Ravion, Raefindan, and Mellonin, this is my sister Gwyllion," he said curtly. Ravion inclined his head politely, but Gwyllion was not paying attention to him. Instead, she was staring with rapt attention at Raefindan.

"His hair is red!" she exclaimed in wonder. Ravion snorted and turned to pretend to adjust something on Gond's saddle to mask his mirth.

Then Gwyllion skipped towards Ravion and curtsied deeply, saying, "Ravion, my brother’s liege."

She curtseyed again, leaving Ravion somewhat bemused. She then went closer to Gond and started stroking his muzzle. With a confused look on his face, Ravion studied her.

His first impression was that she was a little...strange. Very gregarious, to be sure. Open. Innocent. That might be a problem. He'd have to find a way to keep her from talking to everybody they came across. A search mission like this involved lying low and keeping quiet. She was petite, somewhat messy. His eyes went towards her hands, still stroking Gond. A bloodstained bandage was wrapped around one of her fingers.

"Gwyllion, come here," he said, and the girl, with a slight frown, went to him. He found a small bag of bloodmoss and took a pinch out, then unwrapped her bandage slowly, carefully.

"Well-wrapped bandage, Aeron," he said shortly, not looking at Aeron. "Good and tight. Bloodmoss will stop the flow of blood and help healing, though, so it is generally a good idea to put a little in between the bandage and the wound. Hand cuts bleed a lot. Rarely dangerous, but always messy." After putting the herb against the cut, he wrapped the bandage back around Gwyllion's finger.

"There," he said, knotting the bandage. "You can't be so careless," he added in a much rougher voice. He needed to make sure that they would listen to him, and heed what he said. This would not be an easy trip. "Every bit of bloodmoss that I use on you is a bit of bloodmoss that we won't have if something serious happens. I won't fault you for injuries sustained if there is a battle, or an accident. But I will hold you accountable for injuries sustained from carelessness or silliness. I am bringing you for your brother's sake, and I am bringing him for his oath's sake. We are all going for Mellonin's sake. I will not have your carelessness bringing danger onto us. You'll have a lot to learn, and I expect you to be a quick study."

He turned back to Mellonin. "I suggest we put some miles behind us," he said mildly.
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Old 04-05-2004, 08:16 PM   #75
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Boots Ravion's troop: Mellonin

Mellonin nodded at Ravion. "By all means." Then she reached out a hand to Gwillion. "But don't you have anything you'd like to bring with you? A cloak perhaps, and an extra dress? Perhaps some of your brother's clothes?"

She turned to Aeron. "We did bring a water bottle and blankets for her, and food. But we have no cloak or clothes for her."

Aeron nodded, and said, "Watch her, please." Mellonin nodded; at the moment, Gwillion was entranced with Gond, and chatted happily with him. Aeron returned shortly with an awkward bundle of things tied up in a thick but tattered blanket.

Mellonin sighed, hoping that the bundle would prove useful, worrying that it might not. Then she smiled. Likely enough, a thiief learns what is needful for a journey.

And if not, they would have to make do.

Ravion gave Raefindan some orders, and Raefindan took the lead. Ravion gestured that Aeron should be next. Aeron took Gwillion's hand, and she walked by his side.

Mellonin followed; then Ravion with Gond. Gond perked up once they left the village, and his stride lengthened and his eyes brightened. Every now and again, a cheerful snort misted Ravion's clothing. As always, Ravion considered it a token of affection.
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Old 04-06-2004, 01:03 PM   #76
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Tolkien

Aeron nodded to Mellonin and dashed into the little hovel to gather Gwyllion’s things. It would have been useless to have told Gwyllion to pack her own things. She would have insisted that she did not need a thing, that people who bring luggage are silly and then, when she would lie shivering in the chill nights, would admit that she should have brought a blanket or another cloak or two.

On a dusty, splintering desk, was a silver comb. Ratty brown hair was snarled about the twines and he was sure that he saw the carcass of a sort of six legged bug buried within the tangled nest. He tore the hair from the comb and let it drift to the floor unheeded. Clothes were scattered across the floor, and he inspected these one by one. A pair of breeches, a white blouse, a brown cloak, and her green dress would do well enough for her.

As he packed, he was glad that Gwyllion had not thought of a saucy reply for Ravion’s rebuke of her carelessness. It would have caused trouble if she had -- for once she had controlled her tongue.

Striding to the farther end of the room, he put his right heel to his left toe and began to count his foot lengths under his breath. On the count of five, he wavered precariously, and tumbled to the floor, cursing under his breath. He repeated the process and on the tenth foot length, he kneeled, and pried a rotten board from the floor. A musty, mold ridden silk bag was nestled under it, and Aeron snatched it and tossed it with Gwyllion’s clothes. He did not savour the idea of begging for their meat.

Stuffing the clothes and money into a blanket, he trotted back to the company and tossed the bag to Gwyllion, who, in turn, tossed it back to him.

Ravion glowered at them and Aeron obeyed the command that glowed from his green eyes. Ravion arranged them in a neat little order, and Aeron took Gwyllion’s hand.

“This will not be much of an adventure, I fear,” Gwyllion whispered. “Still…” she sighed and her eyes softened. “Thinking that one is an elf…how wonderful.”

“How unfortunate, you mean,” Aeron returned. “Thinking that you are an elf and being an elf are two entirely different things.”

“I suppose so,” she said.

“Nothing about this trip is wonderful,” Aeron said. “I cannot steal, and we cannot misbehave.” He sighed and tossed the Gwyllion’s bundle to her. She caught it, and then threw it lightly back to him. Aeron stepped away from her and threw it again. “We have nothing to amuse us but a mindless, unchallenging game of catch.”

“Which is better than nothing,” Gwyllion said.
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Old 04-07-2004, 08:19 AM   #77
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Eye Ravion's Ramblers: Mellonin

Gwillion and Aeron continued their game of catch. Minas Tirith was receding into the distance, and Mellonin looked back at it often. The only time she had ever left it, she had gone south, and then only as far as Emyn Arnen in South Ithilien. Watching Minas Tirith dwindle gave her a sinking, yet exciting feeling.

Ravion noticed each time she turned, and tried to hide his smile.

I will not let him doubt my courage. I will not. So each time, she gave him a brave nod, and turned her face northwestward again.

They crested a low rise, and Raefindan looked back at Ravion. He pointed, and they turned a little more westward. The Anduin glimmered off to their right. And as they descended the hill, Minas Tirith was for a while hidden from their view.

Mellonin set her face northwestward, squinted into the setting sun, and marched. Sheep and cows grazed on the hillsides. Off in the distance, she heard a warning bark.

Gond snorted; Ravion looked for the sound. But Aeron turned toward Gwillion, and Mellonin wondered why. The bark got louder and closer, and Gwillion's fright increased.

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Old 04-07-2004, 08:57 PM   #78
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Tolkien

Short sharp barks. Dogs did bad things -- they ripped throats from victims. Bloodied chunks of flesh would hang from their yellowed fangs, which would be revealed by black lips curled back in a growling snarl. She swallowed, trying to quell the heart that increased from a soft patter to bounding leaps.

At that moment a scrawny creature with bright, brown eyes slunk from the underbrush. He snarled, revealing only one yellowed fang instead of two. Mud clung to his fur, and bound his tail to his hind legs. With a sharp box, he sat down in the middle of the path, and stared at them. He licked his chops, just as if we are a platter of raw steak swimming in blood…
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Old 04-08-2004, 02:22 PM   #79
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Boots Ravion's troop: Raefindan

Raefindan chuckled. "Well, hello, old fellow. Have we been trespassing? Look at you. You need a bath. Come here. It's all right."

Ravion looked worriedly at the redheaded man, and frowned. Gwillion said in a soft but shrill voice, "Don't touch him. He'll rip your throat out. Don't go near him!"

Raefindan turned to look at Gwillion, and said, "He's not happy, but he's not rabid. Don't worry, Gwillion." Turning back to the mongrel he spoke in a gentle, high voice. "Come here, old fellow. It's all right. Come on."

The dog whined, shifted his front paws, stood, sniffed and approached Raefindan step by step.

"That's it, old fellow. You're okay. Good boy."

"He'll bite you, " Gwillion said, moving to hide behind her brother.

"Hush, Gwill. Wait and see," said Aeron.

Raefindan let the dog sniff his hand, knelt down and scritched his ears. THe one-fanged dog licked his hand.

Raefindan stood, and nodded to Ravion, who waved him on. Gond gave the dog a worried look. As Raefindan marched forward, the dog began to follow, jumping and licking Raefindan's hand.

"We're not feeding him too," Ravion growled. "Go on. Be off!"

The dog eyed Ravion warily, and trotted resolutely after Raefindan. Gwillion kept her brother between her and the dog at all times. But the dog was interested only in Raefindan. Despite numerous attempts to run him off, he followed the rest of the day. The little band walked until the stars were out, and they came to a stream, where Ravion ordered them to camp for the night.

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Old 04-09-2004, 09:30 PM   #80
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The horses began moving at a steadily quicker pace than before, and Bellyn wondered at this sudden change and spurt of motivation in the animals. Amroth intrigued her as well -- his outward approach at things contrasted the way he spoke -- it was so strange to Bellyn. Still, the group soldiered on northward, with the somehow refreshed horses and quiet atmosphere. Liornung did his best to lighten the mood, and he sang songs that delighted Bellyn and always brought a hint of a smile to Ædegard's lips. Amroth was quiet and contemplative, and Bellyn went through different ideas in her mind that might explain what he would not.

"I wonder why such bad luck fell upon him," Bellyn wondered aloud to Liornung as he paused for a while between merry and somber songs.

"What do you mean?" Liornung inquired, and Bellyn sighed as she watched Amroth in front of her. Bellyn didn't get to know very many people, but she her imagination was always running away and always found explanations and reasons for everything. While drawing and sketching, she liked to make up stories for what was portrayed on the paper -- it made her feel better about being alone drawing maps in random Inns.

Snapping out of her reverie, Bellyn looked back at Liornung, matching his gaze with her own. "Well, bad luck, right? He says he lost his betrothed when she did not show at their meeting place. Do you think she purposefully left him there? Or did something horrible happen to her? Maybe she is looking for him too, and we are heading in the opposite direction from her, and she is going right past us, right over that hill! What do you think, Liornung?"

"I think you have a very active imagination," Liornung replied, chuckling softly as his voice trailed off. Bellyn's face showed that she was slightly offended, though she did not mean to be so. Liornung caught the look and stopped laughing, quick to make sure Bellyn did not feel offended anymore. "I did not mean it badly, of course. It is a good thing to have such intellect. It makes people think about possibilities they never thought were, well...possible."

"Again, I must compliment you on your people skills," Bellyn reiterated, remembering their conversation earlier. "It is admirable that you are so quick to realize how people feel. How do you think Amroth feels now, being without his loved one? And Ædegard, following Amroth on what might be a slightly wild goose chase? In fact, how do you feel going out now on this journey?"

"This journey will teach me much, as much as it will teach you." Liornung said, smiling.

"I suppose. In any class, I'm glad to be here right now, wherever it leads..." Bellyn agreed, copying Liornung's smile.
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