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Old 08-27-2004, 03:10 PM   #441
littlemanpoet
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Tolkien Raefindan

It was strange. Aeron had been rather quiet ever since Raefindan's request after he had tackled him. Raefindan had no idea what the boy might be thinking. Most likely about Gwyllion.

Gond had been sent into the dark wilds, tilting leeward as he went, from the poison, no doubt. Erundil slept poorly and had chills. Raefindan and Aeron waited out the night, and at last dawn came. It was a smeary, misty, uncomfortable morning, and cold. Raefindan had placed his outer layer of clothing on Erundil, and had gotten quite chilly himself, though Jorje served as a reasonable hot water bottle.

Hot water bottle. Yet another thing that had no place here. Raefindan thought of pasty colors that had no relation to anything in this world. All here was natural and of the earth, sky, or water. The colors he thought of looked like they had probably oozed from some porous extremity of earthen magma. Jorje made a much better hot water bottle. He had his own generator. Raefindan shook his head. Every thought like this reminded him that he came from another place, that he did not know where he came from, or how it was related to this place, if at all. It was time to be moving. He got up and stretched.

Just then he heard noises from down the path, the way Gond had gone. He looked, and there was a figure leading a horse. Was it the swamp elf? Raefindan got Aeron's attention and warned him with a look. They watched, anxious, expecting to defend themselves. Then they knew the figure. Raefindan let out a sigh and Aeron's mouth turned into a sneer.

Ravion walked quickly up to Erundil and asked what was wrong. Raefindan told him what had passed in the night.

Ravion's face screwed up with a tortured look. "I never should have left."
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:20 PM   #442
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Tolkien

Aeron half heartedly flicked the dirt off his skin after Raefindan had let him up. He had not sworn that he would not go after Gwyllion, but it would just figure to drown in a bog himself when he was looking to his save his sister's life. The grim irony of it was too awful to comprehend.

So now they had to wait...and wait...and wait. Where was she...if she had died, Aeron could not forgive Raefindan for holding him back...yet how was he supposed to know if she was dead or not? He could not go looking for her when he could not see, yet if she died it would be because he had not set out immediately. His breathing quickly as he turned the two sides in his mind. It wasn't fair...he could not win. He had to find her.

He snaked a glance at Raefindan, but saw that the red haird man was watching him closely, as though expecting him to dash off into the marshes. Aeron sighed and stared broodingly into the patch of darkness behind Raefindan's shoulder.

There was a soft rustling of grass. Probably just some rodent. Raefindan gestured to him, a frightened look glinting in his eyes. It could be the swamp elf, Aeron suddenly realized as he crouched like a waiting cat in the grass. Just let him come, he thought to himself.

But the looming form that approached was Ravion. A sneer curled about Aeron's lips as he rose to his feet his hands dangling at his sides, his fingers flexing and unflexing.

He had come back, probably expecting shouts of joyous welcome. Maybe even a welcoming embrace. He snorted.

He saw Ravion's face screw up as he said, "I never should have left."

So the idea had just occured to him, had it? "I was wondering when you would get around to noticing that -- or do you just like to repeat the obvious?" Aeron asked loudly. "You should have realized that there was some wild swamp elf on the loose especially after you resuced Raefindan from him! But no. Your pride suffered a little jab and you had to leave. You couldn't stand being brought down a notch or two."
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:21 PM   #443
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Ravion

Walking back to the company was an odd experience.

His heart felt light at the decision, but it still felt like he had iron chains around his feet, and he made much more noise walking than he usually did. It was very little like a Ranger, but he did not care. He dragged his feet and he made a lot of noise, and all of it meant that he kept on walking.

He heard a low, mournful neigh, and looked up sharply. He had been so deep in thought that he had not noticed the noise of an injured horse.

"Gond?" he said softly. Gond bobbed his head and turned around. He clearly meant for Ravion to follow him. The Ranger did so, stroking his horse's withers and whispering soft words to him.

As he broke through the foliage, his heart sank. Not only did he fail to see either Mellonin or Gwyllion, but he saw Erundil, his old tutor, injured much like Gond.

Without speaking to either Raefindan or Aeron, he walked to Erundil. "What happened?" he asked quietly. Erundil glanced at him, but said nothing. Perhaps he could not. Raefindan came up to Ravion and put a hand on his shoulder.

The tale that Ravion was told was not encouraging. Every word of it pierced him like a sword, and he bowed his head. It took him a moment before he could speak. "I never should have left," he said quietly.

"I was wondering when you would get around to noticing that -- or do you just like to repeat the obvious?" Ravion looked up at Aeron's sneer. "You should have realized that there was some wild swamp elf on the loose especially after you resuced Raefindan from him! But no. Your pride suffered a little jab and you had to leave. You couldn't stand being brought down a notch or two."

"Certainly not," Ravion said bitterly, but the bitterness was directed at himself, not at Aeron. He took a deep breath, sending sorrowful glances to Aeron and Gond. He dug into one of his horse's saddlebags and took out some herbs. He made from the herbs a quick poultice and put it against Erundil's wound. "All of this is of my making," he added.

"I should say so," Aeron snapped.

Ravion turned to him slowly, a look of deep sorrow and pain in his eyes. Aeron glared at him still. The younger Ranger went up to the boy, knelt on one knee, and, taking the boy's hand in his own, pressed it to his forehead. This was what he had been dreading. "Please," he said quietly, almost inaudibly, "I beg your forgiveness. I have done wrong: no, much, much more than that. I cannot even express it. Aeron, Raefindan, I put myself into your service. I do not know how I can regain your trust, or if I ever can. But I hope that I can be of some use to you. I see that all I have sown here was misery and pain: for you, for Mellonin, Gwyllion, Erundil, for myself." He stood. "I await your command."

Last edited by Orual; 08-28-2004 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 08-28-2004, 01:03 AM   #444
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White Tree

Aeron glared at Ravion. Why was he doing this? He was complicating things by apologizing and having that tortured look etched into his face. He was so angry at him -- it had been his fault that Gwyllion had gone. If he hadn't decided to go off on his own then they would never have had to back track.

Yet....was it really worth the energy to stay angry at him? He was back now. Being angry would not bring Gwyllion back no matter how much of it he launched at the stupid Ranger.

He held out his hand and said, "I suppose I could forgive you..."

He winked at him.
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Old 08-28-2004, 10:04 AM   #445
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Tolkien Raefindan

Raefindan smiled to see Ravion kneeling before Aeron, and Aeron's face working through surprise, discomfiture, then acceptance. Ah, life was good.

"I hate to break up the party, my friends, but we have a serious matter on our hands that must be dealt with at once. Ravion, I only accept the lead because you do not. I'll speak no more of it, for now. You are the ranger and the one who knows the most of the healing arts. What can we expect for Gond and Erundil? And what are our chances of finding Mellonin and Gwyllion?"

A cold voice came from over the water. "You have no chance of finding them."

It was the elf, standing on the far side of a pond, beyond the throw of any knife. He had bow and arrow stretched taut, aimed at Raefindan.

"Do not think you can do aught for them, for it is I who have taken and hidden them. They are under my power, and you would do well to remember that."

"They better not be dead!" Aeron shouted in fury.

The arrow's aim switched from Raefindan to Aeron. "They are not dead until I choose. They are more useful to me alive. You will do as I say if you wish to see them again."

"What do you want?" Raefindan asked.

"Go back to Gondor. Leave my lands."

"Lands?" Aeron muttered with a smirk. "He means waters."

Ravion turned to Raefindan. "He does not want us to go north, I think."

Raefindan nodded. "We shall leave your swamp. We've been trying to. We will continue north."

"You will not! Go back to Gondor, or you will receive back only corpses!"

Raefindan thought quickly. It was paramount to save the lives of Mellonin and Gwyllion, despite their quest.

"We will do as you say. But we cannot go until our party is healed from the wounds you have caused."

"They will be well by nightfall. Know that I have worse poisons should you try anything foolish. Get horse and man on their feet and be on your way at once, or one of you shall receive another wound, only this time the poison will kill. Do as I say. At Once!"

"Ravion," said Raefindan, keeping his eye on the elf, "see to Gond. I don't trust this elf, but I don't see any help in inviting an early death. Aeron, help me get Erundil to his feet."

"We should fight!" Aeron said, his face working with rage at the elf.

"I would at the drop of a hat - if I had one - but we must stay alive and see that Gwyllion and Mellonin are brought back to us, safe."

"If he does not lie," Aeron pointed out.

"Yes, that has occurred to me. Our situation is bad. We must trust an elf we know we cannot trust, or die. Give me aid with the ranger."

Aeron frowned with frustration and nodded, and the two got the ranger to his feet.

"You shall go the way your errant ranger was taking," said the elf.

"I think he means me," Ravion said ruefully.

"Ravion, you lead with Gond," Raefindan said. "We will follow."

They marched down the path as it wound through the swamp. The sun reached its zenith and they stopped to eat. When they were done, Aeron spoke his mind.

"That elf is gone. Let us go look for them!"

An arrow skewered the wet earth within inches of Aeron's hand.

"I think your answer is given," said Raefindan.

They marched all afternoon, and darkness fell. Erundil and Gond had improved. They set up camp in the driest spot they could find, slept the night, fitfully, without a watch, for Raefindan concluded that they were under as careful a watch as could be had.

The sun rose, and Erundil and Gond were well again, though Erundil was pale. They broke their fast and marched on, sure that an elf was not far away, an arrow trained on them at all times. The long day past without incident, and night came on again, still with no end to the swamp. But Ravion assured them that they were at least headed back toward Gondor. They slept the night without watch again.

When they woke, Gwyllion lay amongst them in a deep sleep, her face pale and drawn, as if she had witnessed a loved one's death.
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Old 09-01-2004, 07:38 AM   #446
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White Tree

"Gwyllion!" Aeron shouted, leaning over her and patting her on the cheek.

She groaned slightly, and Aeron's brow puckered in worry. Why wasn't she waking up, and why did she look so sad...so terrified. What had happened to her in the swamp?

He shook her hard, shouting, "GWYLLION! WAKE UP!"

Her body was limp and white...like a ragged doll. She was hardly breathing...

She was dying. He glared into the weeds, leaped to his feet, and shouted, "Traitor! You lying --" he began to spit out the filthy insults. The soft squelchy sound of an arrow plunging into the swamp made him choke on his words.

He rounded on Raefindan, and said, "Why isn't she waking up?"

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Old 09-01-2004, 11:25 AM   #447
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Moments had passed, and Ædegard had made no answer, but his face expressed that he was intending to be stern in this matter, and there was also a high degree of entreaty written in his features, as if he was pleading Argeleafa to see his side and agree with him. The tears rose fast to her eyes now, and as they spilled over her cheeks she opened her mouth to say something, but she could find no voice to speak. She turned and fled to where Liornung sat with Bella, and sitting down gave herself wholly up to her grief.

Liornung turned to her with concerned and touched her hair. 'Little Leafa, why are you weeping?' he asked, though there could be no doubt that he already knew the answer.

'You told me, Liornung, to watch Ædegard to see if I loved him,' said Argeleafa. 'I did watch him, and what I saw was cruelty. I did watch him, and I have found that I do not, cannot love him.'

'Then why do you weep?'

She looked up with mild surprise written over her tear-stained face. 'Because it grieves me that I do not love him when I was so certain that I did,' she said, but her tone was slow and uncertain.

'How can that be?' Liornung said. 'Surely if you did not love him you would be glad of finding it out before you were his wife. You would not be sorry for this.' He looked steadily into her eyes, and spoke gently and carefully. 'Leafa, do you not love him? You love him, little lass, and you weep because you think he is cruel, and you would not marry a cruel man no matter how much you loved him. Is this not why you weep?'

Sobs overcame her, and she could not answer for some time. At last she quieted somewhat, and she looked up firmly, though she trembled, and she said, 'Yes, Liornung, I do love him, and I will not marry him. I will not marry him because he is cruel, and because he hates those who are not like him. If I were to be his wife I would constantly see him turning his back upon those who were in need because they were not like him. If I were his wife I would have the pain of seeing him scorn my family because they had set aside their ways and joined the Easterling wayfarers. The pain of all this and more would outweigh my love, and I would be unhappy.'

'Perhaps, perhaps,' said Liornung, and he gazed thoughtfully into the distance. 'I cannot say anything for you, or aid you in your decision at all. It is not my matter. It is yours and yours entirely, save that Ædegard has some part in it. It is your decision. Yet I beg you do not decide now, when you are so overwrought. Wait a time, until you are calmer and Ædegard has had the chance to speak of his feelings on the matter to you.'

'I will wait, if you say so, but I cannot marry him,' she said, her tones full of sorrow and despair, and she let her head fall into her hands to weep some more.

Despite his pity and sorrow for her, Liornung could not keep back the amused smile that flickered over his good-natured face, and he winked at Bella, though she was not looking at him.
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Old 09-01-2004, 11:51 AM   #448
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Dec 25: Nethwador

Nethwador's eyes flicked from Bella to Argeleafa and Liornung, and back to Bella; but then his brow furrowed again, and anger sparked in his eyes. Giving Bella's hand an awkward pat, he turned and approached Argeleafa. He studied her, glancing at Liornung.

Then he turned and looked at Ædegard, and his hands balled into fists. He spoke four strong words in his strange tongue to Argeleafa, and then strode towards Ædegard.

"Wait, " said Argeleafa. "Nethwador--"

Liornung hesitated. "What did he say?"

Argeleafa looked at Liornung through her tears. "I'm not sure, but it was about Ædegard and it wasn't nice."

Liornung stood and called to Nethwador to no avail.
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Old 09-01-2004, 04:54 PM   #449
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Argeleafa likewise stood, and her face paled as she grasped Liornung's arm. Fear rose inside of her, and she murmured, 'What is he going to do?'

'I do not know,' said Liornung, his own face dark. 'Nethwador!' he cried. 'Please, return to us.' Nethwador paid no heed. Argeleafa's fear deepened, and she trembled violently. Images rose in her mind, of Nethwador attacking Ædegard, and the latter defending himself with a will. Both would be hurt, surely, if it came to this. Nethwador's intentions were not good; harm to one or both would ensue.

'Oh, cruel, cruel!' she gasped weakly. 'What has my sorrow caused? I should have thought... Nethwador was angry enough without seeing that I had been hurt as well.' She sat down on the ground, feeling that her legs would not support her. Feebly she called to Nethwador, but again he did not answer, and he was almost standing before Ædegard. Argeleafa clenched her fists and watched with terror-filled eyes, finding no will to stand and try to stop Nethwador, nor to call out once again, she watched in quiet desparation, praying that her worries were foolish and that no harm would come to either Nethwador or Ædegard.
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Old 09-01-2004, 07:20 PM   #450
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Why does it suddenly feel like things are falling apart? Bellyn wondered desperately. She watched with inner grief as Argeleafa mourned her mixed feelings of Ædegard, as Liornung tried to calm her, and as Bellyn herself felt unable to comfort Argeleafa. What can I say to make her feel better? Bellyn thought, knowing that her words were beyond aid but feeling useless with her inability to help. Then Nethwador began to manifest his fuming with Ædegard, making problems significantly worse, and once more making Bellyn feel awkward and useless in the situation.

Argeleafa began to call to Nethwador as he walked away, and Bellyn choked on unsaid words as the Rohirric girl tightened her fists in anguish.

"Nethwador!" Bellyn mumbled, but her voice came out cracked and low. Liornung turned, but if Argeleafa or Nethwador heard the girl's voice then they ignored it. Bellyn stood, unable to stand by even if there was little she could actually do to calm the situation. Bellyn walked, then ran towards Nethwador. "Nethwador! Wait!"

She stopped when she came to the furious Nethwador. Bellyn took his hand in her own, and he turned around for just a moment. When she was sure her voice would come out clearly, Bellyn spoke to the Easterling. "No, Mellon," was all she said, and the words came gently and slowly as Bellyn called Nethwador by the first name she had known him as.
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Old 09-02-2004, 06:42 AM   #451
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Dec 25, Nethwador

Nethwador's eyes widened, and he tipped his head to one side. Although the anger in his eyes did not cool, he took her hand in both of his. "Mellon, " he replied. "Nethwador mellon Bella."

Before Bella had time to smile at the mangled grammar, Nethwador fervently kissed her hand.

Ædegard spoke in a low growl.

"How dare you kiss her? Let go of her."

The anger rekindled in Nethwador's eyes, and he gave Bella a protective push and pointed towards Liornung. She stumbled, and heard five harsh words from Nethwador, and then a volley of fists meeting flesh. She didn't even know who struck first.

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Old 09-02-2004, 01:40 PM   #452
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Shield Ædegard

Ædgard was appalled that Nethador would touch, much less kiss, Bellyn. He was even more appalled that she did not show any sign of disgust or revulsion at all. It was little better than orc and elf!

"How dare you kiss her! Let go of her!" He heard his voice as a growl. Nethador looked back at him, enraged, and threw the first punch, followed quickly by the next. Ædegard felt his chest turn on fire, and was pushed back a half step with each punch. He coughed, then ducked down as quickly as he could and grabbed the Easterling by the legs, trying to tip him over. The grass was wet with dew, and his feet slipped out from underneath him. The Easterling boy began pounding on his back, knocking the breath out of him.
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Old 09-02-2004, 02:05 PM   #453
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Dec 25: Nethwador

Nethwador heard cries of distress, but they did not distract him from Ædegard's ragged cough. Good; the cruel one was breathless. He considered sitting on him but thought better of it. He crouched to one side, and rolled him over; one more punch to his chest, one to his eye (for satisfaction), and then he took the man by his shirt, brought Ædegard's face close to him, and snarled through his teeth, "Nethwador mellon Bella."

Ædegard's face went white, and breathless though he was, he rallied, his big hands grasping at the boy. Nethwador twisted like an eel, and Ædegard struggled for a grip. He kicked against the ground, and Nethwador writhed out of his reach yet again. But suddenly the boy seemed to fly backwards.

Nethwador found himself held firmly in the fiddler's slender grasp, and he checked himself. A torrent of Easterling speech came from him, with here and there an elvish word mixed in.

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Old 09-02-2004, 03:16 PM   #454
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Liornung's eyes were flashing, a startling thing to see, for he was rarely angry. He did not seem quite angry now, but he was upset and annoyed it was clear. 'Stop this foolishness immediately!' he cried, tightly holding Nethwador's arms behind his back. 'What childish way to behave is this? The sight of you two reminds me of ill-raised children fighting for the largest cake set before them. And you fight not from greed but from hate! I cannot express my disgust for such behavior!'

Speech still spilled from Nethwador's tongue, and Bella hurried to him again, taking his hands and entreating him to calm himself. Again he said to her, 'Nethwador mellon Bella.'

'Oh ho, are you now?' said Liornung. 'Then show it to her. She's entreating you to stop this nonsense. If you are her friend, if you do love her, then listen to her... especially when it's for her good and the good of us all.'

Nethwador still struggled, and Liornung looked to Bella, who continued her attempts to soothe the Easterling lad.

Argeleafa had gone to Ædegard, and she stood before him as he coughed, her eyes full of woe. 'Do you hurt very much, Ædegard?' she asked. He shook his head. The sorrow did not clear from her eyes. 'Why did you have to fight him?'

He recovered himself and spoke in a gasping voice. 'Leafa, he struck me first. I was defending myself.'

She shook her head, and her eyes filled with tears. 'But you struck him first,' said she. 'Your unkind words to him, your behavior towards him... It hurt him as much as a blow, and he saw naught to do but return it.' She gazed at him for a moment, and then she touched his eye, wincing slightly. 'His fists have some strength,' she said. 'Your eye is cut and bleeding. Let me tend to it.' And she said no more, but the woeful expression did not leave her face.
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Old 09-02-2004, 05:38 PM   #455
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Shield Ædegard

"Your unkind words to him, your behavior towards him... It hurt him as much as a blow, and he saw naught to do but return it."

Leafa's gentle hand did what could be done for his eye. Her sorrow over the fight touched him. But not even she understood. Could she, could they, not see that the Easterling boy was the one who had shed blood? that he had only tried to stop him? But she said that his behavior toward the boy had forced the boy to hit him? It made no sense. What place did such thinking come from? A man, even a boy, was answerable for his own deeds. That was the way of it.

"I do not understand you," he said to Leafa. "It is as if you think that my words balled his fists and made them find my eye. Was it not his own will? He chose to fight because it was in him to fight. I did not breed the fight into him, his own kind did that. Do you not see?"
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Old 09-02-2004, 05:43 PM   #456
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Somehow Nethwador seemed to have escaped most harm through the length of Ædegard's defense. Or at least Bellyn could see no pain other than the hurt mingling with the anger in his eyes. Bellyn grasped Nethwador's shoulders firmly even though she knew that she would not have the strength to keep him from fighting again. Ædegard would be angry with her now, for not shoving Nethwador away when he had kissed her hand. He kissed my hand, Bellyn recalled, repeating this to herself a few times before her eyes shifted for just one moment to the right hand that grasped Nethwador's shoulders. Then she looked back to his face, upset and broken.

"Do you hurt, Mellon?" Bellyn murmured, though she knew her words meant little to him. And she had called him 'Mellon' again. At least he knows that word...why do I call him that now? Bellyn wondered, searching for any visible wounds that might have surfaced in the little fight. Then she looked past Nethwador to where Argeleafa was tending to Ædegard, and for the first time Bellyn feared a conversation with the man. His unwillingness to help the Easterling did not surprise Bellyn much. Ædegard acted on what he knew and felt, and indeed Bellyn had learned such ways towards Nethwador's people as well. For the first time Bellyn realized how hard change actually was. The transition from Edoras to traveling everywhere seemed quick and easy, like the love between Ædegard and Argeleafa, but the change of a person's ideals seemed to come more slowly. Bellyn was still unsure as to why she felt such sympathy - or compassion - for Nethwador. As she thought on this, Nethwador caught Bellyn's shifted gaze, turning around to see Ædegard and letting a scowl deepen on his face. His eyes held a fiery venom, and Bellyn wondered at how someone could get so angry.

"Mellon!" Bellyn chided once more in a gentle voice, still unsure of how to get her point across. Oh! How hard it is to speak and say something that has meaning to another! Bellyn thought dismally. "Did he hurt you?" Bellyn gestured to where Argeleafa sat with Ædegard, and then pointed to Nethwador's chest. Bellyn sighed. "I do not think you bleed as Ædegard does. You should not have fought, Mellon. There are other ways to deal with anger."

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Old 09-02-2004, 05:58 PM   #457
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Silmaril Raefindan

"Why isn't she waking up?" asked Aeron.

"I don'- I do not know," Raefindan said, "but the elf said that she and Mellonin are more useful to him alive. Maybe that is still so. And maybe the drug he has used on her has not yet worn off."

"Drug? You think he dragged her all this way?" Aeron's already furrowed brow deepened, and he went to Gwyllion and examined her more carefully. Looking up he said, "She has not been dragged, at least."

Raefindan smiled. "I meant that the elf's means of causing her to sleep has not yet worn off."

Aeron screwed his brow. "What has that to do with dragging?"

"Not a thing. Not a thing."

Ravion spoke up. "Maybe we shall have Mellonin back after another day!"

"Maybe," Raefindan said, scratching Jorje's ear - for the dog had woken up and scratched himself there - "so let us break our fast and be off soon thereafter!"

"Aye!" Aeron yelled, "Arrow or no arrow from that nasty elf!"

"Erundil," Raefindan said to the other ranger, who was just sitting up, "how do you fare?"
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Old 09-03-2004, 10:11 AM   #458
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Dec 25: Rohan

Nethwador was irked to see Argeleafa tending Ædegard; Ædegard didn't deserve Argeleafa's attention because he made her cry. But the words from Bella, and her sweet voice, drew his attention away from them, and he listened, gazing into her eyes, trembling a little.

Taitheneb stood among them, startling Bella a little; elves moved so quietly. Nethwador turned to him and stared.

Taitheneb gazed back at him, then spoke. "Lady Bella, Nethwador's anger is for Argeleafa's tears. He must defend her, for she defended him, and was gentle to him. They are wanderers together, and he will protect her against the strangers."

Bella's eyes went wide.

Nethwador nodded. "Nethwador mellon Bella; Nethwador mellon Argeleafa; Nethwador mellon Amroth..." Suddenly Nethwador turned, glanced at Taitheneb, and ran towards Amroth. Taitheneb followed him, and Bella watched them go.

"Amroth? Amroth, " said Nethwador, kneeling beside him.

The sparkling gaze that Amroth turned to Nethwador was humorous, easygoing, that of a normal man. Amroth chuckled, weary, but awake.

"Nethwador. He called you Mellon, did he not? So my friends named me. You may call me Mellon if you like."

Nethwador stared and stared at Amroth, and fear kindled in his eyes. "Amroth?" He turned to Erebemlin, wide-eyed.

Erebemlin nodded. "He is still here, I hope. But it is as if he sleeps, Nethwador. I do not think we can reach him now. I have tried."

"If I may, I would like to rest, " said the blacksmith. "My head hurts. Nay, it aches. And my body is weary. Perhaps I have a fever?"

Erebemlin nodded, weary in heart as the blacksmith was weary in body. "You have had the fever for many days, " he said.
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Old 09-03-2004, 09:14 PM   #459
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard wondered at Bellyn and Leafa, who seemed to hold him responsible for the Easterling's attack against himself! Bellyn spoke to the boy as to a dear friend. Ædegard winced at the wrongness of it. Leafa wept for the boy rather than for him. His heart sank and his gut turned. How was it that these two could act so?

Leafa he could understand, forced to live among Easterlings, having gotten used to them. There was time to help her see the truth. Bellyn was not his affair, but he still wondered how she could behave so. Maybe it was that in Minas Tirith, under the new king, the influence of Elves brought new ways, for all knew that the new king had had much to do with Elves. Ædegard held no ill feeling toward Elves, but their ways were not human ways, and he did not think it was good that humans should take Elvish ways to themselves. It was not natural.

He watched the Easterling boy as Leafa quietly worked on the cut at his eye. He was going to Amroth, shouting Elvish. Now there was an oddity! But Amroth was looking back at the boy in a strange way. A familiar way. Ædegard couldn't place it, but it stirred something in him, made him think of Edoras and a snowball fight.

"Hold a moment, Leafa, I wish to speak to Amroth."

"Hold this healing leaf over your eye, Ædegard," she said.

He smiled. "You are a healing leaf."

She blushed and gave him a quick smile, but the sorrow in her eyes did not dim. Her face succumbed to it again as she walked with him to Amroth and the Elves.
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Old 09-05-2004, 11:07 AM   #460
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A few feet from Amroth, Argeleafa stopped Ædegard and beckoned him to lower his head so she might whisper in his ear. 'I have reflected upon what you said,' said she, 'and I do know that it was Nethwador's own will to strike you. Yet you chose to hurt him with words. There was choice on either side, and I think both chose wrong. I am more disappointed in you, however, for...' Her voice slowly dropped away, a look of confusion came to her face, and her eyes speedily travelled the ground as she sought for a reason. '...for you were the first to choose ill.' She just barely saw the look of disappointment in his own eyes, for she had looked to the ground again.

She did not have the courage to tell him her real reasoning for feeling more disappointed with him. It was too difficult a thing to say. How could she say that she loved him so well that it hurt her terribly to see him behave so? How could she say that she thought him the noblest and kindest man in all of Rohan, and in lands beyond, that when she saw him behave in a way that was not noble and kind it stung her like a blow to her face? She did not have the courage to say this.

Her eyes went up to meet his again, and her pale little face was filled with great weariness, for his still held the same expression... an expression of disappointment, as if he could not understand her. Oh, sorrow of sorrows if he should not love her anymore, for some reason that she did not know. Why did he express such anger towards Nethwador, and such disappointment when she pitied the poor boy? And when she pitied Nethwador, or spoke in friendly terms of the band of Wayfarers, he looked at her in an odd manner, as if she had done something wrong. She could not understand this.

'I am sorry,' she said softly, 'I have disappointed you in some manner. I did not mean to cause you any pain or grief.' She did not allow him to speak, but began to move forward again, saying, 'Let us go to Amroth now so you might speak with him.'
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Old 09-05-2004, 04:09 PM   #461
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Shield Ædegard

"You were the first to choose ill." Leafa believed this, it was clear. But even the way she spoke it was so much like Leafa that he could let it pass. Yes, it would be a great trouble to help her, make her see things the Rohirric way, but he was willing to take on that burden for love of her. There was such sorrow in her eyes! It wrung his heart.

"I am sorry," she said softly, "I have disappointed you in some manner. I did not mean to cause you any pain or grief." He opened his mouth to reply, but she moved away. "Let us go to Amroth now so you might speak with him."

Ædegard shrugged. She did not want to speak any more of it, for now. That suited him. He rubbed carefully at his eye and went to Amroth and the Elves, following Leafa. He looked at Amroth's face.

"Hullo, Ædegard." Amroth's face was leached by weariness, but his eyes were full of good will and a pleasant humor. And he sounded nothing like Amroth. Mellon had returned!

"Mellon! You are back!" Ædegard found himself on his knees before his friend, peering into his now widened eyes. "Where have you been!"

"Whoa, friend! I know not. But it is good to see you again."

"Give him room, Ædegard," said Erebemlin, "he is feverish and needs to rest."

"Aye, no doubt of it!" He rose to his feet and reached for Leafa. She took his hand and came to him. "Mellon, meet my betrothed, Argeleafa! Leafa, this is Mellon."
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Old 09-06-2004, 09:26 AM   #462
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Erebemlin

Erebemlin was weary…his heart, his mind. The return of the blacksmith was almost too much. The young man lay in the grass near his feet, and the elf watched him closely, watching and hoping for some sign of his king.

"Mellon! You are back! Where have you been!"

Erebemlin raised his eyebrow as the young Ædegard fell to his knees before the blacksmith. The young man had not fallen before the king in such respect. Why would he do so for this man that covered Amroth’s mind?

"Give him room, Ædegard," Erebemlin spoke firmly. "He is feverish and needs to rest."

Ædegard rose and stepped back, but instead of taking his leave as Erebemlin wished, the man took hold of the young Rohirric woman and began to introduce her. The elf pushed himself up quickly from the ground and stepped between the couple and the blacksmith. Erebemlin towered over the man as he narrow his eyes and flared his nostrils. The man, Mellon, began to speak, but the elf interrupted glaring at Ædegard. “He needs rest. There will be time for such things later.” Erebemlin growled, “Go now, both of you, and let him sleep.”
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Old 09-06-2004, 07:30 PM   #463
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Shield Ædegard

Mellon smiled and was about to answer him, but Erebemlin stood and interrupted him.

“He needs rest. There will be time for such things later,” the elf growled. “Go now, both of you, and let him sleep.”

"You are right, Erebemlin, but this will only take a moment." Ædegard looked to Leafa. "Come, Leafa, come closer. This is Mellon." Leafa's eyes darted uncertainly between him and the elf.

"Youngling, do not cross me!"

Ædegard faced the elf, whose eyes smoldered now. But Ædegard was not one to back down from a bully. He let go of Leafa's hand and came close to the elf, looking up into the tall one's eyes fiercely.

"Mellon is back, elf. He is no longer your Amroth, but Mellon, and a human. You have no rights to speak for him."

"Fool!" Erebemlin was furious now. The other elf, the one called Taitheneb, stood up and came toward Ædegard.

"Two against one, then, is it?" Ædegard said.

"Would you be in the middle of all the fights you can in one day, youngling? Do not bait me, you young Rohirric fool."

"Ædegard," Taitheneb said, raising a hand in a gesture of calming, "Erebemlin fears for Amroth, as do I. He is still with your Mellon. We must care for them both."

"That may be," Ædegard said, "but I will not be bullied by elf, Easterling, or any man."

"None here bullies you," Taitheneb said while Erebemlin glowered in silence, still standing between Ædegard and the feverish Mellon, "but the two of you at a stalemate mere feet from Mellon can do neither him nor Amroth any good."

Ædegard raised his hands in a sign of truce. "I do not wish to hurt anyone here. I will wait until Mellon is rested. But you-!" he pointed at Erebemlin "must needs gainsay your words to me!"

Erebemlin stared into Ædegard's eyes. "I name fool he who speaks and acts as one. Do wisely and I will name you wise."

"I name you full of pride, then, oh great elf." Ædegard turned on his heel and walked past Taitheneb and Leafa, to his own horse. He groomed his mount in silence, and told himself that he would speak to no-one for the rest of the day. Not even Leafa. Well, except maybe Leafa.
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Old 09-06-2004, 08:19 PM   #464
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Mellondu waited til the quarrel was over; he hated strife of any kind. The elves turned their backs, Erebemlin angry, Taitheneb cautious, and stalked to their own horses. Mellondu thought a moment, and then clicked his tongue; Echo raised his head.

"Come here, Echo, " Mellondu murmured, but the horse continued to chew his mouthful of grass. No one took any notice of him, or so he thought. He clicked his tongue again.

He was surprised to see Nethwador walk toward Echo, and grasp the horse's forelock. Two tall chestnut horses, with Nethwador between them, approached Mellondu. He waited.

Nethwador offered Mellondu a hand, and Mellondu slowly stood, and leaned on Echo. Nethwador twisted a thick grass-wisp, and began to groom Echo; Mellondu reached for it, and Nethwador gave him the wisp, and quickly twisted a new one for himself.

"Thanks, " Mellondu said in the common tongue.

Nethwador studied Mellondu uneasily, and then said "Nethwador mellon Amroth."

With a sparkling eye, Mellondu nodded, and then tapping his own chest, he replied, "Mellondu mellon Nethwador." With a good-natured chuckle, he laid a hand on Nethwador's shoulder. Nethwador relaxed.

Mellondu grew grave for a moment, and then chuckled again. "You need a song," he said to the puzzled lad. "The Tale of Wild Nethwador and the Lady Bellyn. Then we would all be helping you, too. One must have a song, if one will go on a quest to win a lady's heart." He chuckled again, and then shivered. "Perhaps Liornung will write you one." He leaned on Echo's neck, and Nethwador hurriedly finished grooming the big chestnut, and then saddled him. Mellondu looked wearily up at the big horse, and Nethwador stood back, expecting the elvish leap; Mellondu dropped his eyes. "Not today." He studied the stirrup, gathering his willpower, put his foot in the stirrup and hauled himself up onto Echo's back.

Echo staggered, eyes bulging as Mellondu struggled to right himself in the saddle. Nethwador shook his head, and steadied Echo, speaking to him in his strange tongue; Echo snorted, and turned a white-rimmed eye to look at Mellondu.

Mellondu reached down and laid a hand on Nethwador's shoulder. "Thanks, mellon."

Nethwador looked up at Mellondu, startled. "Mellon. Nethwador mellon Mellondu."

The sparkle returned to Mellondu's eyes. "Mellon mellon Mellon."

Nethwador laughed aloud and swung aboard Celegoer Beorneth. The two small, slender darkhaired men on their lanky chestnut horses rode forward to the head of the column. Neither noticed the anger in the eyes of the tallest of the elves.

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Old 09-08-2004, 09:50 AM   #465
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Argeleafa gazed about her in despair and struggled with the temptation to sit down and burst into tears again. She looked towards Ædegard, but his face was dark and stormy. She looked for Liornung, but she could not see him through the tears that were rising fast in her eyes. She would not weep, whatever the inclination. The last time ill things had come of it. She closed her eyes and pressed her fingers at them, and took many deep breaths, until she felt that, while still shaking and sorrowful, she would not weep.

Oh, but the world was an odd place! She had been so happy, engaged to Ædegard, and now everything was crumbling to pieces about her. Oh, would it happen that Ædegard would not love her anymore, and would not want her to be his wife? It was a bitter thing to reflect upon. Things such as it were never supposed to happen, save in the songs Liornung sang each night by the fire. Now he could compose a new song, and name it, 'The Sorrowful Tale of Ædegard and Argeleafa.' It was cruel, too cruel.

She sat down upon the ground and immersed herself in her feelings of grief and bitterness. Ædegard did not look at her, but continued to groom his steed, his eyes smouldering. Well then! Neither would she look at him, nor would she speak to him. It was a mad idea that sprang to her head, and it was unlike her, the quiet gentle little girl, but it came to her nevertheless, and she resolved to ignore Ædegard for as long as it was possible.
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Old 09-09-2004, 01:22 PM   #466
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Shield Ædegard

Ædegard rode in silence, at the back of the party. Alone. Ahead of him rode Liornung with Bellyn to his right and Leafa to his left. Leafa had not looked back at him once. Ahead of them rode the two elves side by side, and leading the party, Mellon and the Easterling, already fast friends. It left a very sour taste in Ædegard's mouth. Did Ædegard and Mellon's friendship mean nothing? No, it was the elves who kept him away from his friend but let the Easterling boy joke with him.

Do not bait me, you young Rohirric fool. The memory of the leader Elf's words were fresh in his mind, and irked him no less than at first. All of them, even Leafa, had sided against him. He was disgusted. "I might as well break the engagement and go straight home. They will not miss me. They would most likely be pleased." Even Leafa.

You were the first to choose ill. That was what Leafa believed. She had said so herself, and she always spoke the truth as well as she saw it. He remembered the expression on her face as she said it. Sorrow, as if it was a great wrong he had done, and she was sorrowful that he had done it. Anger smouldered in him. Did she not see? All he had done was right, according to the ways of the Rohirrim! She was a Rohirrim! She should know these things! But she had been forced to live among the Easterling wanderers, and had learned to suffer them their ways. He still held out hope that he could teach her the ways of the Rohirrim. They were hard ways, and he hoped that once she learned those ways better, they would not lessen her pity for those who suffered. You were the first to choose ill.

Oh.

She had pity on the Easterling boy. As did the rest of them. The boy did become friendly to those who were kind to him. Could it be that he was wrong about the Easterling boy? Could it be that the ways of the Rohirrim were not right? Nonsense! The fathers of his fathers had lived by these ways, and they were good ways. That the others did not see this was sad, but he could live with it.

Youngling. Insufferable Elf. As for as Ædegard cared, the sea could take them all. More living space for his folk once the Elves left. He knew he was being unkind, but they were not his kind. He had heard it said that the ages of the Elves were past, that the new age was that of Men. Let them pass, let them pass; pass away into the west where their Elven home awaited them.

I am more disappointed in you... Leafa's face came back with sudden clarity; her words were hammer strokes. So much power in one so small and timid. You were the first to choose ill. Ædegard's eyes became wet, for a lump had formed in his throat. He wished the day had gone other than it had. Round and round the words of the others, and his own, spun in his mind all day long, burning themselves into his memory. He wished to sleep and tried to will the sun down to its setting.

On they rode, ever south.

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Old 09-10-2004, 05:46 PM   #467
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Tolkien Raefindan

"Erundil," Raefindan said to the other ranger, who was just sitting up, "how do you fare?"

"Well enough." He pulled himself to his feet. "So the elf has returned one of them to us."

"Aye," Raefindan said. "I do not think he is far off."

"If that is so," Ravion said, "then Mellonin must not be far off either."

"You think he keeps her with him, then?" Raefindan asked, shading his eyes, looking off into the distance of the swamp. He did not expect to see the elf, but was sure he was there.

"He would need to, or he could not stay with us and have returned Gwyllion."

"I do not know the way of elves," said Erundil, "but could he not track us? I would not be surprised if he could move more quickly than we."

"His arrows have been too ready at hand," answered Raefindan, "is that not so Aeron?"

The boy was distracted, watching Gwyllion's sleeping face, which did not change for all his attentions. He looked up. "Aye! I could draw one this way now, I wager." He stood and faced the general direction of the swamp, then put his hands to his mouth and called, "Let us hunt the elf and find the other one!"

"Aeron!" Raefindan warned. "It is not wise to-"

"Ow!" Aeron yelled, hopping on one foot. He landed with a watery squash just off the path, an arrow buried in his right foot. He held his foot in both hands and said through gritted teeth, "I will kill that elf!"

Suddenly Ravion ran toward Aeron with one of the bags from Gond's side in hand. Aeron ducked and squinted as if expecting to be tackled, but Ravion hit the ground just before him, facing the swamp. There was a thud, for an arrow had pierced the bag.

"Get him to the other side of Gond!" Ravion yelled. Raefindan and Erundil picked Aeron up between them and carried him out of the line of fire.

"If I were you, Aeron," said Raefindan, "I would not be too quick to speak of killing the elf."

"I didn't say it loud!"

"Elves have ears like conies."

"They are that long and stick up?" Aeron grinned through his discomfort.

Raefindan grinned. "Some think so. But it is their hearing I spoke of."

"I know that! Keep an eye for Gwyllion!"

"I have her," Ravion said.

"Let us have a look at that foot," Erundil said.
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Old 09-10-2004, 08:06 PM   #468
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The Elves

Erebemlin rode in complete silence, keeping his eyes forward and his teeth clinched. He could feel Taitheneb’s eyes burrowing into him, but the elder elf kept his mind closed, not wanting to hear the always sensitive words of the younger. He was not proud of his behavior at the camp, but he sometimes felt as though he was the only one that truly cared for Lord Amroth. Now his king was beyond his aid. If only Erebemlin could communicate with the king and just know Amroth was safe…

Taitheneb was searching him again, looking over from atop his horse with his large, sympathetic silver eyes. Erebemlin purposefully turned his face away from the other elf and searched the river, letting his eyes roam from bank to bank.

Taitheneb noticed Erebemlin’s standoffishness and was hurt by it. He understood the elder’s concern about the king, but Taitheneb was worried about how the other elf was handling the pressure. He had never seen Erebemlin crumble under the demands of duty, yet he knew this was deeper. Erebemlin’s heart was breaking. The king, who he had seen as his hero and his father after his true father passed on, had suddenly reappeared into the warrior’s life, and now…he was gone almost as quickly as he came.

The younger elf understood this and just wished Erebemlin would let him comfort him in some way, but the elder was proud…too proud to show such sensitivities. Taitheneb tried to break the silence. “Will we keep to our current path, Silmaethor?”

Without facing him, Erebemlin replied, “Yes, Lord Amroth wished to search the river banks for the Lady, and we will keep to his orders.”

“And what if we find her?”

The simple question caught Erebemlin off guard. What would they do if they found Nimrodel beside the river? Something told him they would not, but would Amroth return if she was found? Erebemlin shook his head slowing. “I know not,” he said softly. “I know not.”
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Old 09-12-2004, 09:31 PM   #469
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Old 09-12-2004, 09:41 PM   #470
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Dec 25: Amroth

Cerin Amroth, often so still and calm, lay in the eye of a storm. The white trees lashed each other. The mighty mallorn heaved and creaked in the wind. The rain lashed its golden leaves and turned the silver trunk dark grey. Round Cerin Amroth, the forest was empty, save one.

Upon the high floor he lay facedown, body pressed flat against the talan, wet with rain and tears. The wind moaned, the tree groaned; he tried not to groan, and failed. The tree heard his cry, and shuddered. Torn, shredding mist passed through the great trees and drifted to the hill below, where Niphredil and Elanor trembled and tossed in the tearing winds. Swaying, the mists beckoned to him as they walked among the white and golden blossoms. He raised his sodden, golden head, and then lay back down again, pressing his forehead to the floor.

She has sent me away. Shall I face the ages alone? Would it not be better to cease to be?

The fury of the storm doubled, and the mallorn's cries grew wilder. He felt the floor heaving beneath him; the rain lashed his back, stinging like hail. It roused him; he looked up again. He went to the edge of the flet, and looked west. Her stream; she still sang beside her stream. He thought he could hear her amid the wild winds and lashing rain; how could that be? He gazed into the night, and knew it was true; her falling-silver voice came to him, wringing his heart, breaking him. He wept anew.

Salt... salt on his face, on his lips, in his hair.

The timbers of the ship groaned and cried, sometimes rising to a scream; the deck pitched and tossed beneath him. The sails were too full; the ropes were horribly tight. He stood at the rail.

She was there. He reached out with his mind, his soul, his very heart; she was standing by a stream, singing, lamenting his departure. Faithless! Ah, how faithless he himself had been, to ever leave her side!

"It is too late. We must run with this wind, " cried a nearby elf. Amroth looked at him; a line had snapped and stood out stiff and straight in the wind. The elf fought with it, and with the sail it had abandoned.

Amroth's eyes kindled. "Fool! I will not part with her; do not say that again!"

The elf laughed. "You parted with her long ago. And you will not be king where we are bound, nor are you any longer king in the forest. Your wish is no longer law."

Amroth wasted no more time on this fool, this rebel; he stood on the rail, looked to the shore and prepared to leap.

Mist passed before him, and when it cleared, he shook his head, dazed. He stood on a low threshold of a small cottage, looking into a broad, shallow pool perhaps three feet deep. Green lilypads covered a few parts of the surface near the shore. Green slime dripped off of the few reeds that swayed nearby. In and out of the reeds swam long slender dark fish, and on the far side of the pond was a flock of geese. An eel swam past him and disappeared into the reeds. Repulsed, he looked over at the geese; they swam as if they had not seen him. The air was heavy, woven with scents foul and sickly sweet.

He turned to look into the cottage behind him, and saw an elderly, sorrowful man and woman. The woman sewed; the man gazed into the fire. He asked them where the ship had gone. They did not hear him. He asked again.

"Ship? Nay, my dear. They left on foot," said the old woman to her husband.

"Eh? What's that?" he replied, startled out of his reverie. She shrugged, and his gaze returned to the fire.

Amroth turned and looked out into the dank and stagnant pool, and saw fields beyond, and rolling hills in the far distance. He reached out with his heart looking for Nimrodel. There-- a woman, weeping, wrestling with sorrow, with loss. A woman longing for the return of...

She was gone; or was it, that she was hidden? He reached out again.

A man, hunting, searching for the elf-woman he had loved so dearly; combing the woods and the mountainsides, calling, crying. Hearing his own cries echoed in the man's sorrow, Amroth hastened to the man's side. Putting a hand on the man's shoulder, Amroth willed to strengthen him, to encourage him. The man turned to him, and their eyes met.

Amroth wondered at the red shine of the man's hair, but even as he looked at it again, the man melted away.

Amroth looked around, blinking. Where was the pool? He stood on a riverbank.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an old, wizened tree; he turned to look at it. Its back was toward him, and it walked to the riverside, and carefully placed its' broad woody toes into the water. Then, reaching down, the ent grasped the water in its branching hands, and lifted it. The water ran through his fingers into the river. The sun shimmered on the water, and the ent was gone.

Nearby stood a slender darkhaired woman, and she held goose-feathers in her hands, reaching to him, beckoning him. "Fly to me, my Dark-love; return to me. Come back to me." She held out the feathers. Amroth reached for her, for the feathers.

They became snakes. The woman was gone, and Amroth was being pulled under the water. His hair drifted in the current, and he felt that this had happened before, and yet-- this was different; the water was not sea-green, but dark, muddy, and he could not see the sun glistening through the water. All he knew was black mud and stinking slime, swampy sucking stifling ... he sank further, his breath bubbling from him, and as if from far away he heard the mocking laughter of the elf on the deck of the ship.

Amroth cried out in anger, and then gave a defiant shout. His spirit kindled and burned. He burst upward, leaving tentacles and slime behind; he was ablaze like Feanor of old, and he stood on the riverbank roaring his rage.

The reedy pools and stinking mud, the dark water, the grassy riversides; the fields and rolling hills beyond-- he stopped, and in a whisper spoke his recognition of the place. "The fingers of Fangorn grasp the Anduin... at the Entwash. The Entwash!"

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Old 09-13-2004, 09:16 AM   #471
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Dec 25: Mellonin

Mellonin stared, eyes wild, breath caught. Her brother! He stood on the river with the reflected sun glowing around him; her heart went into her mouth.

Mellondu.

She reached for him, called to him. He began to sink.

"Mellondu!"

She leaped in after him, but tentacles caught him and pulled him down. She reached for her knife; it was gone. She swam downward, clawing at the tentacles, but they pushed her away. She clawed at them again. One massive tentacle wrapped itself around her, and threw her out of the water and slammed her onto the riverbank. She lay with the breath knocked out of her. Nearby, the rising bubbles dwindled and faded into silence; Mellondu was gone.
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:27 PM   #472
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Tolkien Raefindan and company

Raefindan had asked Ravion to lead them, being a ranger and healthy and unwounded. Gwyllion was strapped to Gond, led Raefindan. Aeron, his foot injured, sat atop Gond, holding Gwyllion in place. Erundil walked behind Ravion, and in front of Raefindan.

They walked for hours and did not stop for lunch. They could sense that they were almost out of the swamp, and were eager to be out of the clutches of the swamp elf. Maybe, maybe, Mellonin would be returned to them once they were beyond the swamp. Raefindan hoped so, but doubt ate at him.

As the sun set, the last of the swamps fell into the distance behind them. Solid, grassy land surrounded them. Raefindan called a halt and they ate, then the dressings were changed on Erundil's hand and Aeron's foot.

"Now that we are beyond the swamp, we should set up a watch again," Raefindan said. I will take the first watch of two hours. Aeron, take the second, Ravion the third, and Erundil the fourth. Then we should rise for the new day."

"Will the swamp elf return Mellonin if one of us is awake?" Ravion asked.

Raefindan frowned. "You raise a good point, Ravion. I do not know. What do you think?"

"I think that we are still under the elf's watchful eye, and our lives are both safe and forfeit at once, depending on his will."

"I do not like it, but I think you are right. No watch tonight, then."

They settled down for the night, for they were weary from a long walk. They took special care with Gwyllion, who had begun to moan in her sleep. Aeron declared that she must be waking up; but it was not so: after watching her with care for a half hour, she showed no sign of waking.

They retired for the night, Aeron staying close to Gwyllion; Jorje sleeping next to Raefindan.
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Old 09-13-2004, 10:13 PM   #473
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Tolkien

Gwyllion ceased her struggling as she saw the tentatacle release the limp body of Aeron. She wanted to scream as she saw him drift away, his lips parted, his cheeks dead, his eyes scraps of metal.

She wanted to die --- but she forgot. She was already dead. Why could she not be with her brother? Was she too just a limp body chained to the rock? Why was he allowed to drift and she was not?

She began to struggle again, straining the chains, ignoring the dull scraping sound they made. Suddenly, she was let loose. She was drifting in the water, her hair a burnished sun behind her.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aeron peered intently at his foot. There was a nasty hole in it, courtesy of that fiendish elf. "Do you suppose it'll scar, Raefindan?" he asked, touching it gingerly.

"Maybe," the red haired man, peering intently into the dark.

"I hope it will," Aeron said eagerly. "My first battle scar ever."

"That was quite some battle, Aeron," Raefindan said, his mouth twitching.

Aeron frowned at him. "You're laughing at me," he said.

Raefindan shook his head solemnly.

Aeron let go of his foot and dropped his arm around Gwyllion's shoulder. She moaned again, but her face was still white, and sad, even though she seemed to smile a little. He wondered why...what dreams tormented her...

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Old 09-14-2004, 07:10 PM   #474
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Ravion

"Scarring is not what I would be worried about, were I in your position," Ravion said gloomily. He reached into his pack and pulled out a small flask, then handed it to Raefindan. "Do not drink this--pour a little of it on the wound. It should stop the spread of disease. A deep puncture wound like that is easily infected. That is the real danger here."

He sat back heavily, his elbows resting on his knees and his face buried. He felt three pairs of eyes on him, but did not look up. He fiddled with the bag that he had thrust in front of Aeron's foot--it still had the arrow embedded in it, a grim symbol of their vigilant observer. He touched the arrow, feeling the expert craftsmanship of the Elves. He shuddered that it would be used against him and his companions.

He turned and glanced at Gwyllion, still sleeping peacefully, her lips curved in a gentle but sad smile. Sleep makes the frailest a giant: sleeping, Gwyllion seemed a tragic hero, a suffering goddess. Under what spell did the elf hold her, that she slept like this? How could they break it? How could they get her to wake?

"Ravion, you have said little since you returned," Raefindan said. "What troubles you?"

Ravion looked over at Raefindan, then scanned the rest of the company, one by one, noting again with a pang the absence of Mellonin. It was said that often a person can "see" the absence of another: sometimes it is all that they see. Ravion "saw" the empty spaces that might of held Mellonin. "Much troubles me," he said softly. "But we can talk about such things after we have our company back together, safe and well."

He gazed into the distance. The elf kept close to them, watching their every move, listening closely to their conversations. He had Mellonin, and he was waiting for something--a sign, a bargain, something he wanted. What was it? Ravion could not fathom. He knew, though, that he would be willing to give anything that he had to regain Mellonin--to bring the company back together, to make it whole again.

He looked up at the stars, as though they might provide some answers. They held none: only cold darkness. He was a leader, but he was lost. How would he get them out of this?
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Old 09-14-2004, 07:24 PM   #475
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Dark-Eye Tharonwe

With the young woman in his keeping, their thoughts were an open lore book to him. They were so blind. They were like blind mice in a maze, wandering here and there, drawn this way and that by their hungers and needs. Such a pitiful race. So easily led this way and that. It was so easy to keep hidden from their view that he was almost tempted to show himself.

Except that showing himself might open roads he could not let them know were even there. And he feared that he had done just that with Amroth, mere hours ago. He had been so careful, but not careful enough. He had kept his face straight, his appearance mute, just an elf on the ship sailing west. But somehow, Tharonwe did not know how, Amroth had perceived Tharonwe's inner glee at seeing the Elf Lord duped. A moments weakness; one moment too many. Amroth would come searching, into his swamp, and he would be found - if he stayed there. So he had to stay away from the swamp now. He must close his mind down from now on, no matter how tempting to try and change the course Amroth's searchings took, no matter how tempting to spite the Elf Lord for taking what should have been his own!

Must not think about the loss of her. It weakens me. Such thoughts draw his perception more than any.

He would have to break up this little company like so many sparks in the breeze. And he would have to go south himself. It seemed there was a merchant and a footman that could come in handy.
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:38 PM   #476
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Despair entered Bellyn’s mind as they rode onward to some destination unknown to her. Things between each member of the company had fallen into disrepair, and most of the broken bonds seemed beyond mending to Bellyn. Her confusion came mostly because she had never had to deal with such problems in her life before she had left the tavern with Liornung that day. That day seemed so far behind them! The group had traveled so far together, only to have it torn apart. Relationships that were once just a little rocky had so quickly become sharp stones, ripe for throwing.

If Nethwador would not care for me so, these things would have never happened…

Bellyn shook her head as the thought entered her mind. She had not meant for it to sound so bitter or so foolish, even if she was only thinking it to herself. Bellyn knew it was silly to think such a thing, but for some reason she could not shake it from her mind. Truly, Bellyn was quite flattered by Nethwador’s affections. Am I not supposed to feel good? Am I not meant to feel wonderful that someone feels for me in such a way? Again her own thoughts bewildered her. Certainly I would not be so confused if I had never left home.

What about Amroth and his search?

Ashamed of her inability thus far to aid his actual search in any way, and upset that the people within the group could not cooperate, Bellyn sighed deeply in frustration. She looked about her surroundings, aching for a solution for the problems. Bellyn had never realized how much she cared for things to be right, and how much she would do for things to be set straight. Riding over closer Liornung, Bellyn decided to voice her thoughts before they did any more damage bouncing around her head.

“Liornung!” Bellyn murmured, catching the fiddler’s attention. “Liornung, my thoughts are dark. Do you think that things will soon be fixed within our own group? Do you think that Lord Amroth’s search will ever be complete?

Last edited by Aylwen Dreamsong; 09-16-2004 at 12:59 PM. Reason: Ugh. Spacing problems. Again...
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Old 09-15-2004, 08:14 PM   #477
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'I cannot say, dear Bella,' said Liornung, shaking his head. 'Things will be mended, and for the better, but I cannot say if it will be in the way everyone expects, or, indeed in the way everyone desires. But things will be set aright, somehow.' He spoke casually, but when he glanced over at her and saw the expression on her face he immediately reached out to pat her hand. 'There now, lassie, don't be fretting!' he said. 'Trust what I say, and let's have a merry tune to cheer any sorrowful hearts. I have rarely attempted to play the fiddle upon horseback, but it has proven to be a somewhat difficult task, yet I am willing to try.' And he released the reins and fumbled about at his back where he had securely strapped his fiddle.

Argeleafa rode a ways apart from Ædegard, and behind him so he could not see her, but her eyes were fixed on his back and her thoughts were tortured. Pride had overtaken her meekness, but slowly, ever so slowly love was taking over her pride. She did not want to give in, and ride closer to him, though she ached to do so, for it would humble her, and she did not want to be humbled. Her chin went in the air, and her hands tightly clenched her reins, and she resolved she would not give in. And then there was a rush of music behind her, and a merry tune sent her heart thrilling up, and Liornung's fine voice broke through all her troubled thoughts.

'Hey now, step along
along the road so dreary
dark shadows lie before us now
but let us all be cheery!
For what is past is past indeed,
and what is lost fell from the lead,
if we have music and good feed,
why should we all be weary?


Hey now, step along,
lassie looking sadly,
the darkness on your face does show
that you've been treated badly,
but if a cheery smile did grace
your wholly fair and lovely face
there'd no time nor any place,
for naught but dancing gladly!


Hey now, step along,
a cast aside your sorrow!
Tears and groans and angry words
are naught but trouble borrowed.
So step and give a little dance
and light and lively sway and prance!
For recall, there's still a chance
of happiness tomorrow!'


And when the song ended, Argeleafa was riding alongside of Ædegard rather than behind him. Not near to him, not yet, but she was level to him now, and not hiding from his view. Liornung did not notice, but he smiled to see that Bella was cheerier.
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Old 09-16-2004, 01:09 PM   #478
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Shield Ædegard

Little by little as the day passed, Ædegard had moved from the back of the group to the middle, so that he rode ahead of Leafa, Bellyn, and Liornung, and behind the Easterline and the Elves. His thoughts still raged, circling around the many things that had been said. He was not sure how he had gotten ahead of the other three, for he was consumed by his thoughts. You were the first to choose ill. Those words of Leafa were the ones that stayed him longest of all.

Liornung started fiddling and singing. It was a relief, for until then the party had traveled in unremitting silence. He let the words wash over him; then his attention was caught by a line or two.

"Tears and groans and angry words
are naught but trouble borrowed."

Indeed. Ædegard did not want all the trouble. He felt cut off from his friends, and hated it.

Leafa was riding abreast of him, though not close. She did not look toward him, but held her head high, and her hands clung to her reins as if they did more than keep her in the saddle.

Ædegard wanted to speak to her, some word, something to break through the silence. I am sorry. Were those words true? Yes, but could he say them? He could not bring himself to. He sighed and felt his face sag and his shoulders droop. He did not deserve her.
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Old 09-16-2004, 01:43 PM   #479
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Dark-Eye Tharonwe

Tharonwe was unsure whether to give the sleeping woman back the group. He had promised them that he would return her after they had left his swamp, but that meant little to him. His survival and the survival of his plans were more important.

He asked himself what would be likely to happen if he did give her back.

The group would be joyful, but not completely until she woke. And when both woke, they would tell the others what they had dreamed. The older of the two young women, she who was still in Tharonwe's keeping, would doubtless tell them of her brother whom she had seen in her dreams, and would earnestly beg for them to return. For now Tharonwe had come to understand that Amroth was not back in Middle Earth in the flesh, but was borrowing a human, and that human was the brother of his captive. With her earnest pleading, they would retrace their steps, no matter how dangerous, and head back into the swamp. And he would have to kill them, every last one, even the horse and dog.

If he did not give her back, they would be his pawns, and he could continue to play them out according to his need. He could peal off the two youngest ones by means of the merchant's lust for revenge. And then the two rangers would have to choose whether to follow the merchant and his soon to be captives back to Minas Tirith, or continue with the redhead, or strike out on their own. And what would the redhead do? He would continue to do as he was told until the woman was returned to him. Such honor. Such foolishness.

Yes, it would serve his purpose far better to keep the woman captive.
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Old 09-22-2004, 06:37 AM   #480
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Dec 25: Mellonin

From the blackness and despair, slowly, everything turned to grey fog, a chill mist. She could see nothing. She could hear nothing. She felt that she could decide nothing, or desire nothing; that was not quite true. But to feel or desire or decide took tremendous effort, and was hardly worth it. She watched the fog.

At first, it was a relief.

After many hours, even in her dreams she thought she would go mad.
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