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Old 06-11-2011, 11:33 AM   #321
the phantom
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Eye

"Harry and Asta are vaiting for me in ze street", whispered Coldan in answer to Aldarion's question. "Ve hev come to rescue you, zinking you had been kidnapped, but apparently ve hev been mistaken."

Aldarion was taken aback by this- how had they discovered he was here, and why on earth would Coldan of all people be keen to rescue him? Perhaps his wrath with Aldarion had not mastered him completely?

"Ze others don't know ve're here, zey're still down at ze inn." Aldarion smiled and nodded at Gloredhel as she moved her lips, pretending to speak whenever Coldan did. "At least Brinn and Rollan, Amdír and Sereth; I heven't seen Branor today, or Therian either."

Aldarion sighed in relief upon hearing Branor wasn't present. With the spying notions he'd taken to lately he would be disasterous to have around.

"I might as vell ask you vat you are doing here," continued Coldan, "amusing yourself at a party in ze Sixth Circle vile our time is running out and ze troupe is falling to pieces. Sador zinks you care less zan a straw about us, and I'm beginning to zink he may be right."

Had Coldan said this sort of thing before Aldarion's meeting with Gloredhel, he likely would've snapped at him. But Aldarion was in better spirits now, and he also recalled that Coldan was here to rescue him after all.

"I'm here by invitation of Sador, and he specifically asked that I tell no one in my company," explained Aldarion. "I have no idea why, nor am I certain of what consequences there would be for us or our troop if you were caught here, but until I find out more I deem it unwise to go against the wishes of a man whose family wields great power over our business here in Minas Tirith."
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:25 PM   #322
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Coldan reluctantly had to admit there was some sense in Aldarion's words.

"Fair enough", he murmured. "But your lady here is right, you know - you should be very vary of zat man. I happened to overhear him speaking to some voman of ze house just now. He has a rather low opinion of you, and he means no good to you or ze Players, so much is certain."

He hesitated to tell Aldarion what he had learned, still not feeling sure of the playwright's loyalty, but made up his mind that, having come so far, he might as well err on the side of trust this time.

"I don't see ze whole picture yet, but apparently he's planning to alienate you and your lady somehow, zough vat he has to gain from zat or how it ties in viz our company is beyond me." Seeing the couple together had convinced him that Aldarion's female companion had to be the she Sador had referred to. "He also seems to zink you vill do anyzing to return to ze Svan Players, and he's going to offer to reinstall you viz zem if you do vat he vants. I hope he's wrong about zat, for if you do any such zing before our play is done I svear I'll kill you, if Asta doesn't."

He could tell Aldarion had a sharp answer on his lips, but Coldan cut him short. "No time to discuss. Vat do you vant us to do? You may not need rescuing now, but vat about later? I hev to get back in a hurry, or zere's no telling vat Asta vill do if I'm avay too long; you know how she is, and I'm not sure Harry vill be able to restrain her." Despite the need for haste, he couldn't stop himself adding, "I'm sure she'd be delighted to meet your new girlfriend."

Suddenly, as if to underline the urgency of his words, a deafening metallic clang filled the garden like the battering-ram of Mordor banging against the gates of Minas Tirith.

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Old 06-14-2011, 12:30 AM   #323
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Brinn heard a tap at the door--far too furtive to be Rollan, she thought with a sigh of relief. She still desperately needed to be alone.

But she heard Thiliel's voice on the other side of the door, and knew that it would be a shame to turn away a girl who had nothing to do with any of this mess, and meant no harm anyhow. And supper, too! Her stomach rumbled in spite of itself.

"Come in, Thiliel," she said, and if she did not sound cheery, at least she didn't sound maudlin.

Thiliel set the tray before her. "Thank you, dear," said Brinn, hoping it would suit as a dismissal. But Thiliel lingered, just long enough for Brinn to feel that there was something she wanted to say.

"Is there something the matter?" said Brinn, not unkindly.
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:04 AM   #324
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Of course, begging Asta not to do anything rash involved a battle Harrenon was sure he could not win. The entire business from start to finish was rash, anyway. Trying to get Asta to renounce another part of her absurdly daring plan would lead him nowhere. By the way Asta was looking at him after his weak attempt to dissuade her, Harrenon could guess that the only thing he had succeeded was to irritate her further. Of course, he had known from the start that by begging Asta not to do something he would only annoy her, but he could not help it if she was always intimidating him.

“I won’t be the only one doing something rash,” Asta told him ominously. “You’ll be doing exactly what I tell you to do!”

“Asta, you really can’t expect us to try and force our way in there without knowing what is going on! I mean, it would be almost as bad as trying to barge into the Citadel itself! Please, can’t we just…well, wait for Coldan a while longer? Let’s give him at least five more minutes.”

But of course Asta would have none of that and Harrenon was promptly informed of all the gruesome torments Coldan and Aldarion could be put to in the span of five minutes that Harrenon needed to “pluck up the courage he did not have in the first place”(Asta’s words, and Harrenon did not even bother to correct her, since he could not honestly tell her she was wrong at that point). He was then told that he had a faithless character and that he surely possessed no conscience at all if he could so heartlessly abandon his friends instead of doing everything that was in his power to rescue them. It was when Asta told him that if anything happened to Coldan and to Aldarion, he would be mostly to blame that Harrenon could not stand it any futher and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“All right, all right!” he said. “I’ll do whatever you ask. I’ll break down the door for you, if that’s what you want. Just tell me what to do and I’ll be right behind you.”
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:14 AM   #325
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So, Coldan overheard Sador, thought Aldarion, and says he speaks ill of both me and the company. If that's true, I can't imagine that his secret plans would result in anything but harm. But then why would he offer to place me back with the Swan Players? And how would he have the power to do such a thing anyway? That surely means that Amlach and Gloredhel's father was involved somehow.

A loud metal ringing filled the garden, and Aldarion knew their time was up.

"Go back to Harry and Asta, and tell them whatever you need to tell them to stop them bursting in," said Aldarion as the bell faded away. "We'll talk about this tomorrow before lunch. Right now I need to get inside and see if any pieces of this puzzle are revealed to me."

Aldarion turned and took a step, but stopped and added, "And don't worry about mounting a rescue tonight. Just get some sleep. My friend Amlach knows I'm here, as does Captain Bregolas of the Tower Guard and Lord Borondir. If Sador has half a brain he wouldn't consider for a moment kidnapping or anything similar."
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:45 AM   #326
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Thiliel placed the supper tray next to Celebrindal, thinking of how she should aproach her. Rollan asked her to bring the food, but there was more. "Let me know how she's doing," he asked. Not a difficult thing to do, if you know what happened. But Thiliel did not know, and she had to find out. Whatever it is, there is more than one downcast person tonight...

She heitated in a moment of indecision, whether she should leave, or talk of something - but what? Celebrindal noticed that and asked, "Is there something the matter?"

The true answer was that Thiliel needed to bring Rollan some news, but that would hardly do. "Not exactly," she began, thinking furitively of how to get the woman to speak a little more, "I wanted to apologize for..." aha! "...for running into yor wagon earlier today as if the inn was on fire, and causing you trouble. I didn't mean to do anything like that, but I wasn't thinking. 'Tis just something I had to say." The last bit was more for Thiliel's benefit than Celebrindal's. "Not all men are honest" was what Ingold said. She would be honest, when possible. And she did need to ask forgiveness.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:43 PM   #327
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At the treasury

The Lord Warden returned to his duties as if nothing had happened as soon as the King had departed; but something had happened, and the revolving of his thoughts, nay, the very twitching of his quill, was fevered and fretful.

The King had issued what would, in any lesser man, have been a threat - the prospect of Cirdacil being deprived of the Exchequer, the office that game him regular, grinding satisfaction. Yet somehow - such was the insubstantial grace of that strange, elven-wise, uncanny man, the King Elessar - he had contrived to make his speech sound loving, even generous.

What was unpleasantly clear was that the King would not allow him to treat this matter of the Players with the triviality he believed with every policy in his bones that it deserved. No, he had insisted on binding everything up in the round, so now the play appeared to bleed into the Exchequer, Cirdacil's clever son's plotting coalescing with his dull son's banqueting.

For there was some enormous drawback to come tonight, Cirdacil was beginning to feel sure. The Dol Amroth girl was in the city, and sometimes the Lord of Burlach faintly regretted that marriage which had yoked his children to that family. They were high-born, and they were rich, the family of Erchirion; and neither of those things seemed to matter to them. Each of them had other cares, quite separate to his own; quite separate sources of desire, and of pride. Had it been wise to knot them into his own practical blood?

So many unsettling things had happened today, and Lord Cirdacil laid down his pen now, or dropped it more precisely, not caring where it fell. He could toil no longer today in this grim, beloved, safe land of honest work - a land that might be debarred from him, quite soon, for reasons beyond his ken.

The King wanted him to show a wisdom he was not certain he possessed. All he knew, for his part, was that this strangest of days had brought an outweighing positive. He felt an overwhelming urge for the counsel, witting or not, of the elder brother's blood. Let the accounts stew as they did on every lazier public servant's watch! He would find his nephew, and reunite his family, and then, perhaps, matters would stand clearer in general.

So foreign was his abandonment of his diurnal work to his habits that not one clerk suspected him of leaving. He was mounted, on a placid, slow-tiring brown palfrey, before anyone marked it; headed first to the Office of Naval Ordinance, to find if he would where the ship's crew was berthed that counted amongst it Vëandur, son of Falastur, of the Fleets...

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Old 06-14-2011, 06:25 PM   #328
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The last light had faded from the sky as Vëandur walked back to his quarters. He had taken a light meal, a loaf of bread, with cheese and dried meat at the Water Horse, an inn he'd chosen because his shipmates routinely shunned it as being full of "city rats". He didn't feel like talking to any of them tonight. It was a shame they felt that way, really. The mead there was quite good, he'd found.
As he walked he felt the breeze stirring his hair. A South wind. Vëandur smiled, thinking of the places it had recently been. He saw clouds born upon it, slowly covering the high starts. Storm clouds, he thought.

He walked up to the iron fence that marked the entrance to Ship's Row, the place set aside for those of the Fleets in the City on business. There was a heavy gate, but it was always left open in these times of peace. A man sat on a stool there. A guard he was in name, but really he was nothing more than a glorified nanny, there to keep watch on the reprobate sailors for the safety of the City. That caused Vëandur to smile wryly. The man saw him coming and stood. There was no need to give his name, for the same man had been there when Vëandur had set out. The guard saluted, and Vëandur returned it absently.

He walked through the gate and arrived at his "house", which, from the gate, was the third on the left of a row of long, low spartan buildings. The others surely weren't here. He walked inside. They were not. Good.
Vëandur walked to his bed and opened a trunk at its foot. He pulled out various items, then removed his best cloak, reserved for formal occasions. It was colored a very dark blue, the shade of the sky in the heat of a clear Summer day. He took off the dun-colored "duty" cloak he'd been wearing, and put in in the trunk, along with everything he'd taken out. Before he put on the other cloak, he went to a long wooden locker standing against the wall beside his bed. All the beds had similar lockers by them, for the stowing of valuable possessions. Taking a key from his pocket, he unlocked it. His sword-belt was there, his sheathed sword on it. Since he was attending a function at the invitation of a City official, he thought he should wear it. He girt himself, then put on the cloak. He wished he had a glass to view himself, but the one in the house was broken. He turned to sit down on his bed and consider again the night before him. Before he could do so, there was a soft knock at the door.

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Old 06-14-2011, 08:51 PM   #329
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Asta was not about to walk blindly into a trap as Aldarion and Coldan had done, and she had led Harrenon down a side-alley and into the lane that ran past the back of the mansion. As she had hoped, there was a gate in the wall here, fastened only with the kind of simple padlock that had been her father's stock-in-trade when the toy-business was slow. Asta, choosing a curiously-shaped pick, went swiftly to work. Out of practice though she was, it was still only a short time before the lock sprang open with a snap– which was immediately followed by a resounding metallic clang from somewhere within the grounds.

"Asta, do you suppose they've– they've seen us?" Harrenon's face had taken on a greenish hue, and the whites of his eyes glittered. Asta could see he was going to freeze on her at any second.

"Hurry!" She tugged at Harrenon's sleeve, and he came to life again and followed after her as she darted inside, though as the echoes died away she became aware of an odd chattering sound that she presently realised was being made by the actor's teeth.

There was no sign of Coldan in the narrow passage in which they found themselves– she had hardly dared to expect there would be– but instead there was a rather promising-looking door. This one had a complex lock that resisted her initial efforts, but Asta was not dismayed in the least. She had been longing for a chance to try out Coldan's scheme.

"What are you doing?" Harrenon whispered, watching Asta as she tipped out the pungently-scented powders on the doorstep and stirred them together, biting her lip with concentration. She was using vastly greater quantities than she normally did, and could only guess if she had the amount and proportions right.

"What does it look like?" said Asta. "Now quiet! This has to be exact!" From a small phial, she poured out a few drops of the final ingredient, a liquid that set the mixture to fizzing and bubbling.

"What now?" asked Harry in what was almost a squeak.

"Run!" Asta told him.

Harrenon needed no encouragement.

They had barely time to take cover behind the gate when the mixture went up in a fountain of multicoloured fire and a boom like a thousand dragons roaring at once. Even with her fingers jammed into her ears, Asta was half-deafened for a moment, but she got unsteadily to her feet in time to see, through the drifting clouds of smoke, the shattered door swaying back and forth before it fell outwards with a crash.

Asta could not stop her face from breaking into a rapturous grin. It had been everything she had hoped for, and more!

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Old 06-15-2011, 05:06 PM   #330
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Coldan waited quietly until Aldarion and his lady had retreated into the house and the great Fornost window had closed behind them. Tell them whatever you need to tell them to stop them bursting in. Indeed. Aldarion might as well have said, Stop Asta catching me with another woman and embarrassing me in front of the local haute-volée; although he had pointedly ignored Coldan's final snide remark, his meaning was clear as Entdraught - and much as Coldan would have relished the sight of Aldarion being the victim of Asta's temper for a change, he had to agree that this was hardly an ideal setting for it. She would have to learn the truth eventually, but not this way.

If only she had had the patience to wait for his return, or Harrenon could prevent her from jumping the gun and taking any desperate measures in the meantime. For a moment he had feared that she had already done something to cause the clanging noise he had just heard, but apparently that had just been these peoples' overdone version of a dinner gong.

Hastily, he crept to the gate at the eastern end of the garden where Aldarion and his companion had entered and breathed a sigh of relief on finding that they had neglected to lock it behind them. He darted through and sprinted along the eastern wing back towards the main entrance and the street. He had almost reached it when he heard a crashing boom from the other side of the grounds.

So much for hope. If Asta had at least lit her dragon-fire far enough away from the back door to distract from the breaking-in! But although the noise was muffled a bit by the shielding mass of the building, it sounded much too close.

Gnashing curses between his teeth and barely remembering to duck his head, he dashed across the front of the mansion and was greeted by a sulphurous stench wafting from behind the west wing; the narrow path between the wing and the outer wall was filled with thick clouds of pungent smoke. When it cleared, he saw the back door torn to splinters, Asta standing before it with a triumphant grin splitting her face, Harrenon a few steps behind her and looking like he might pass out any moment.

Unable to stop himself in time, Coldan collided with Asta, pushing her away from the door and bringing the two of them down in a heap.

"Do you call zis a diversion?" he hissed, his face just a hand above hers. "Zat vas supposed to draw attention avay from us, not tell ze whole house Hullo, here ve come! And didn't I say to vait for me? - Drat you, Harry, vy didn't you stop her? I vas relying on you!"

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Old 06-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #331
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"Coldan!" Asta gasped. "We thought they'd captured you!" She briefly considered kissing the prompter again, but was not sure he was in the right mood– even if the rapidly nearing commotion of footsteps and excited voices from within the building had not suggested to her that this was hardly the best time for dalliance.

Harry coughed, doubtless from the smoke. "Actually, Asta thought they'd captured you–"

Asta did not let him finish. "Anyway," she went on in a more severe tone, as they both got to their feet, "I'll thank you not to talk to me like that, Coldan. It turned out they had a very good lock on this door, so blasting it in was clearly the only thing to do. –Quickly now," she added, dusting off her skirts. "Inside! We can't let them find us here!"
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:41 PM   #332
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"Quickly now! Inside! We can't let them find us here!"

Asta was right, they had no time to lose. Coldan could already hear the sound of hastily approaching feet - but from within the house, behind the blasted door, not from the street front or the garden side. If they went in that way, they would run straight into the arms of Sador's henchmen looking for the source of the explosion.

"Vait!" he implored her, pulling her away from the door towards the back gate. "Ve can't go in zere now or ve'll get caught. And ve're not going anyvay."

Asta jerked loose from him, her eyes clouding in bewilderment. "What do you mean? We can't leave Aldarion- "

"I've seen him", Coldan interrupted her, catching her in his arms and struggling on to drag her away from the door. "I spoke to him just a minute ago. He's safe, Asta! He's a guest here, not a prisoner. He's trying to figure out Sador's plans, and he zinks he can handle zis by himself. He doesn't vant us here! And anyvay," he finished, his tongue outrunning his consideration, "he's not alone."

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Old 06-16-2011, 05:16 PM   #333
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Belegon did not blink when he heard the gong, too loud according to some and ear-splitting to others. It was too much a part of his daily routine for him to react differently. When he hears the gong, he should head to the dining hall, to stand there like a pillar of stone unless his Lord and Lady need him. There he went. On his way, he curtly greeted other servants, whose duty did not involve standing by the doors of the dining hall every evening.

“Good evening, Belegon!”

“Evening it is, Galadelen, good or not.” Down the hall. Up the stairs. To the right. Through a small chamber. Past a marble statue.

“Good evening, Belegon, and well met! Are you to the dining hall?”

“Evening, evening, Earendur. Dining hall, as always.”

“Look out for Lord Sador, he is in a strange mood today.” A quick nod. Straight till the end of the hallway. Then left. Down a short flight of stairs. Through a maze of rooms. Quicken the pace: dinner will start soon.

BOOM! Suddenly the house was filled with noise again, and this time it was not the gong. A few more crashes. Someone in the next room screamed. A young maid almost ran into to Belegon. She looked a mess. Evidently, the noise – whatever it was – frightened her much more than it did him.

“O, Belegon, I’m so glad you’re here! That terrible -… what was it? It did not sound like thunder! You will go and make sure everything is all right, won’t you?”

“My place is at the dining hall. Others can give heed to whatever worries there are.”

“But, Belegon, someone has to go! The Ladies are scared. We all are. And Galadelen said that she saw smoke from the window. What if there’s a fire?”

“I am off to the dining hall. Do not make me late. Lord Ecsichil wants me to be there.”

“Lord Ecsichil wants the Ladies to be safe! He wants his house to be safe!” Curt nod. Ecsichil wants me to check on that noise.

“Where was the sound coming from?” he asked the maiden.

“I think it came from the West Wing. And Galadelen said she saw smoke there too, lots of it. The window was open, and -” Another nod. Turn around. Stride away quickly, but with dignity, to show that silly young girl how to behave in Ecsichil’s house. Back through the labyrinth of little rooms and storages. Turn here, turn there. Finally in the West Wing. Walking down the hall. Some smoke is drifting along. It is coming from the direction of the back door. Find out what was the problem, if there was lightning, if there is a fire, calm everyone down.

It was very queer. At Ecsichil’s house, the most that could happen was an overly-spirited banquet. Or an overly-spirited play. Never crashes, bangs, and booms that scared the ladies as if it was Grond, beating against the gates of Minas Tirith. Even queerer were the voices that came out of the smoke, which was so thick that Belegon could hardly see in front of him. And they were not the voices of children who played a petty jest on the entire household. If it were so, some servant would show them what it means to dare such a thing, especially on a night like that. Nay, they were voices of a man and a woman.

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Old 06-17-2011, 03:24 PM   #334
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Surprised, Asta ceased for a moment to resist Coldan's pull. "You spoke to him? How - "

She was interrupted by a marked "Harrumph!" In the door-frame stood a liveried figure with a long, stolid face under a mop of white locks. A pair of small, expressionless eyes surveyed them with the detached curiosity of a scientist studying some specimens of exotic beetle.

"Ah. A band of burglars, it would seem, breaking in to steal my lord's silverware." The lustreless eyes wandered over the remains of the door, assessing the damage. A brow rose when they came to rest on the battered lock. "This will cost you dearly. This lock was not cheap." Without changing his tone, the man went on: "Under my powers as a citizen catching a criminal in the act of breaking the law, I hereby arrest you in the name of the King on charges of trespassing, damaging my lord's property and attempted burglary. Follow me to the cellar where you will be detained until you can be handed over to a Guard of the Citadel."

"This isn't what it looks like, sir," Harrenon desparately but valiantly tried to explain. "It was all an unfortunate accident. We intended no harm to your door."

"Give up, Harry," said Asta. "We're caught red-handed, it's futile to deny our guilt." She turned to the servant and put on her meekest expression (a rare sight, even on stage). "We can make this short, sir. I think I saw a Guardsman passing down yonder street just a moment ago. We'll come quietly."

The servant gave her a curt nod. "Excellent. Wait right here and do not budge." Moving as stiffly as if he had swallowed a rod, he strode off towards the street, waving a hand and calling, "Ho there! Guard!"

As soon as his back was turned to them, Asta gestured frantically to Coldan, pointing at the crowbar that had fallen from his waistcoat when they had tumbled down. Acting without thinking, Coldan snatched it up, ran after the servant and hit him over the head with the tool. The man stood still for a moment, then collapsed like a felled oak.

Coldan knelt down to feel his pulse and was immensely relieved to find he had not killed the man; apparently the mass of thick white hair had muffled the blow somewhat. What was strange, though, was that the white locks had come off in the fall, revealing short, dark hair underneath. The malice and treachery of these people must be unfathomable if their very servants were obliged to disguise themselves in their master's own house! A quick examination told Coldan that the skull was undamaged, but the servant would wake up with a huge lump and the mother of all headaches.

Coldan turned to look up at Asta. "Do you realize vat ve hev just done? Ve'll be in deep vater ven zis comes to light. Vill you please be reasonable now and call zis mad enterprise off before ve make zings even vorse?"

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Old 06-20-2011, 07:30 AM   #335
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“Coldan’s right,” Harrenon put in quickly. “We’ll be in big trouble soon. The most sensible thing we can do now – assuming you know what sensible means, Asta – is to get out of here as soon as possible.”

His tone had come out sharper than he had intended – and indeed than he would have dared to use under normal circumstances. But he could not help it. He was terrified and he was tired of being dragged all over the place following some mad scheme. He was an actor after all. The only adventures he had had so far had been on the stage and he had very much preferred it that way.

“After all,” he went on, “If Coldan says Aldarion can handle Sador – and that he is not even a prisoner there, but a guest – then maybe we should go. We’ll cause trouble if we stay any longer – not that we haven’t already. Now let’s get out of here before the guard wakes up. I don’t know about you two, but I for one have had enough mayhem for one evening.”
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:55 AM   #336
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"Nonsense!" said Asta. "This is the perfect opportunity! Harry, he's nearest in size to you, so you'd better be the one."

"The one to what?" Harrenon had a stunned expression, as if still dazed from the explosion.

"Change clothes with him, of course– don't you pay attention to anything I say? First, we'll need to hide him somewhere–" she took hold of the unconscious man's arms, but he was a dead weight and she could barely drag him. After a moment she looked up, panting. "Well? Coldan, is it the custom of Dorwinion to let the women do all the heavy work? Or of Gondor, Harry?"
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Old 06-21-2011, 12:40 PM   #337
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That stung Coldan's male pride just a tad too much.

"No, it's not," he replied brusquely, glowering at Asta, "and if you insist on following zrough viz zis foolhardy plan, I'll be viz you, as you might know full vell. But you're ze one who's not paying attention. I told you Aldarion doesn't vant us here, and trust me, Asta, you don't vant to go in zere."

"Nonsense!" snorted Asta. "Why wouldn't I?"

Coldan drew a deep breath. He had meant to spare her this, but if she was going to persist in her obstinacy, he would have to be blunt.

"Because he already has a voman viz him to take care of him, zat's vy. Remember vat Sador said about Aldarion and some lady of Dol Amroth? Vell, it's true. She vas viz him ven I spoke to him. I even zink she may be on our side against Sador, and ze last zing anybody needs is you picking a catfight viz her or telling Aldarion off for double-dealing viz you in front of ze whole nobility of Gondor.

Now step aside and let me move zis hapless fool; ve can't just leave him lying here either vay. Harry, take his feet, please."

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Old 06-23-2011, 12:13 PM   #338
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Echsichil's villa, interior

Both of the conspiratorial pairs of conversationalists in the garden had, just about, managed to obey the stern dictat of their hostess's gong. Neither were prepared for the ricocheting, incomparably, majestically more sonorous report that followed it; with a blast, too, from somewhere behind the house and to its west, that looked like the legendary dragonfire that had once strafed Erebor.

One of Lady Ecsichil's closest, most sympathetic and submissive friends, the young wife of a respectable old merchant, contributed an echo of her own, as her fainting form hit the marble with a light clunk. Reacting as much on fashion as instinct, the ladies around the hostess began to sink down likewise, as serving-men in variegated liveries scurried about to distribute salt and scents.

Aldarion and Sador, with Gloredhel and Aerwen closely following each respectively, had entered at opposite corners of the great ball-room, but each was a keen-sighted man, and at this moment some preternatural suspicion enabled each of their pairs of eyes to find the other. Both men simultaneously displayed, and concealed. I know your paltry players are behind this, Sador thought and consciously tried not to show. But Aldarion would be sharp enough to know he knew now; this Sador knew in turn, despite his delusive pride, as their glances parted.

On one of the rare occasions allotted to him by fate to take charge of the situation in his own house, it was now Lord Ecsichil who captured and reshaped the spirit of the moment. His eyes and mouth had popped open; his jaws were rising and falling, like a fish's, as was his consistent habit at moments of consternation. As he watched his wife's circle imitate ninepins - though the lady herself stayed as placid as ever - Ecsichil could contain his feelings no longer.

He burst into a rich, and long-unexercised vein of appreciative laughter.

"Sador!" he cried out heartily. "Why, you wag! This is your doing, isn't it, you and your player friend, no doubt," he chuckled, nodding courteously in Aldarion's direction, really as if he were seeing the younger man for the first time. "Come over here at once and tell me how you did it, you...you pair of egregious knaves!"

The frantic pallor with which Sador greeted his brother's first exclamation gave way to a rapid frown, a quicker yet blush, and then absolute and apparently automatic composure.

"I thought a surprise would serve us best this evening, dear brother," he appeared to admit, even having the gall to look sheepish. "The execution of the plan was all Aldarion's. He is a skilful fellow."

"So I can see," Ecsichil replied sagely. "Fella has a clever nose, saw that at once. Calm down, ladies! It's only a dragon! Ha, ha, ha..."

Ecsichil's laughter, while genuine, was always oddly phonetically precise. In his mirth as in his other attributes, he was a literal kind of man.

"Your brother may think it funny," his wife spoke up, unwittingly and automatically surrendering the serenity which had assured her high place in Minas Anor society, "but the alarm his little joke has caused our servants has quite ruined our preparations for dinner."

"Do you feel like dinner immediately after such an exciting starter?" Circilie rejoined.

"Quite right, Sissy," the elder brother agreed with equal spirit. "Let the supper be damned. Get your play going, Sador! If that's the start of the performance, I'd like the rest of it to tickle my empty stomach, not overturn a full one. Ha, ha!"

He did not often make jokes, and treasured those he produced accordingly.

"Very well," Sador answered evenly. "Sissy - Aldarion - Lady Gloredhel - would you come aside into the music room with me for a minute?"

***

The Second Circle

Vëandur was looking into the wild eyes and distraught face of his uncharacteristically ruffled looking great uncle, who seemed to have recently ridden rather faster than was good for him.

"I've acquired a spare steed," he rasped out, quicker than the mariner had ever heard the old man talk before. "I've gathered you have troubles you did not see fit to mention to me - and I, too, have cares that only now do I feel I must tell to you. Come with me to Ecsichil's, to my eldest boy's, right now. Don't bother to change. All that matters is talk, no, speed, yes, fast talk."

And with that the old lord whirled his untamed beard around, and hurtled down the creaking stares that spined that cheap lodging's length...at his own pace, but only just.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:14 PM   #339
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"I've acquired a spare steed," he rasped out, quicker than the mariner had ever heard the old man talk before. "I've gathered you have troubles you did not see fit to mention to me - and I, too, have cares that only now do I feel I must tell to you. Come with me to Ecsichil's, to my eldest boy's, right now. Don't bother to change. All that matters is talk, no, speed, yes, fast talk."

Vëandur hurried after the old man, slamming the door shut behind him. He usually moved pretty quickly himself, but keeping up with Cirdacil was surprisingly difficult.

"I do have troubles on my mind," said Vëandur as they strode along. "But I don't think now is the time for them. It seems greater matters are afoot." They were already approaching the gate, where the guard sprang to his feet.

Vêandur opened his mouth to hail the man and state his destination, as procedure ordered. The old man was too quick.

"Worry not, my good fellow! If you seek Vëandur of the Fleets he will be with me."

"I already told him who I was," explained Cirdacil as they passed the gate. "Good enough for the likes of him."

"You are in great distress, my uncle," said Vëandur as they reached two tied horses. "If you will share your burden with me, I shall do all I can to help you."
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:27 PM   #340
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"Oh, pay that no mind, Thiliel," said Brinn, patting her on the hand. "It was all one big misunderstanding, after all, and I quite understand your alarm." She began to tuck into her food.

"Would you mind sitting with me a while and telling me about yourself? I don't mean to trouble you," she added, seeing Thiliel's hesitation. "If your duties are interfering, you should do those, of course. But, if you have the time, I wouldn't mind the company."
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:15 AM   #341
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Thiliel couldn't believe her ears. That was just what she needed! To sit down for a few minutes and talk about something with Celebrindal. Maybe then she would open up and say what was troubling her. I shall do most of the telling... yet it may be that she will also speak.

She looked around for a place to sit down, and noticed a small wooden bench in the opposite corner of the wagon. "May I?" she looked questioningly at the woman, pointing to the seat. Celebrindal nodded. "I have no duties that need to be done instantly, but a few that need to be finished tonight. I have time to spare." Thiliel shifted on her chair a bit before continuing. "You want to know about me. There is plenty that I could tell. My family is in Lebennin. I do not remember myself living anywhere else but there and in this inn. My mother tells me that she grew up in Lamedon. She says it is very different there. The mountains are whiter, and the air is clearer. She wanted to return there again, but she is afraid. Her home was changed much during the War. She does not want to see it other than she remembers. My father - he was a soldier. His childhood he spent in Lebennin, though much farther south from where my home stands. He came to Minas Tirith before the Great Siege, but was heavily wounded early and did not take part in the famous deeds. My Uncle –his brother – also fought. He is much older than my father, and was a soldier of Minas Tirith for longer. He guarded the passes of Anorien before the Siege. If it weren’t for him, my father would not have survived. He found him in the First Level that was in flames and carried him to safety when he retreated. They were some of the last soldiers that left the First Level.

“But why am I going on like that? I have told you naught of myself. There really isn’t anything worthy of telling about me. Not after all the tales that my parents and their parents have lived through.”
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:39 PM   #342
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"Don't be silly," said Brinn. "You do know that all that dashing about with swords and fire was done so that we could enjoy peace and plenty, don't you? I know they doesn't look half as good on stage," she added, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "but personally, I think all of our tales are just as fascinating as the Great ones. Do you think my friends and I got up this company because we wished that life were still as dangerous as it was during the War? No!" Well, Branor might, if he was able to do something relatively effortless that would win him great renown, but the King's Players hadn't been his idea, had it? "We did it--I did it, at least--to make other people happy, and to make ourselves happy, too, travelling about the countryside. I know we may not look our best right now, but I can tell you that none of us would want to do anything other than this. And, well, we shouldn't have been able to do that if the roads weren't safe enough to travel!"

She smiled and patted Thiliel on the arm. "I don't think anyone in this Middle-earth leads a dull life, least of all you. And if you think you do, what's stopping you from making it a little more interesting yourself?"
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:07 PM   #343
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Sador was suspicious of the bang- Aldarion could certainly see that. But he was uncertain as to what he guessed about the circumstances of the disturbance. The fact that he took the blame for it was interesting. It seemed that Sador was content for others not to get to the bottom of it. Was he protecting the other players, protecting Aldarion, or merely trying to simplify matters for everyone else to keep them out of the way and thus be one of the few with true knowledge?

But Aldarion pushed his thoughts aside, for Sador had just invited him into the music room. Perhaps some of the many questions surrounding Sador and his family would soon be answered...
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:04 AM   #344
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"I knew it!" said Asta, as she followed after the two men with their unconscious burden. Furious as she was with Aldarion, there was a certain satisfaction in having her worst suspicions confirmed. "One of those hussies from Sador's gang, luring the poor fool here! Oh, yes, anyone with half an eye could see the sort they were!"

Coldan sighed, lifted his eyes to the clouded heavens, and muttered, "Zat is it, I give up! All right, I suppose we'd better find somevhere to hide him..."

Under his directions, they lugged the servant around to the front of the house and deposited him under a hedge. Crouching beside it, the three of them were also screened from the mansion's front windows, giving Coldan and Harrenon time to catch their breath.

"What now?" Harrenon asked. "We can't just leave him here."

"Of course not. Harry, change clothes with him, and be quick about it– then you can march us in and say you captured us– it's all right, I'll look away." Harrenon, Asta knew, had a stubborn streak of personal modesty which so far had survived even the close quarters of an acting troupe.

"But–"

"Just do it!"

"No."

"No?"

"No! This is Gondor, you crazy Northerner! We have– we have laws in Gondor!"

Asta drew in her breath at "crazy Northerner"– so this was how Coldan felt when people called him an "Easterling"– yet, something about the way Harry looked, with folded arms, hair standing out at all angles, and brown eyes flashing, told her that it would be a waste of precious time to get into an argument with him just then.

"Coldan!" She turned to the prompter, who had been looking on helplessly. "It's up to you, then! You can see it's too late to back out now, can't you? I know you won't just sit here, waiting for these ruffians to catch us!"

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Old 07-03-2011, 10:47 AM   #345
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Riding through the city

Distress was not quite the right word for Cirdacil's apparent state. Mania might have been closer. There seemed an uncontrolled slant to his words and actions, which in such a normally ordered man had an undeniably comic aspect. Vëandur, on the other hand, might not have recognised this piquancy, as his great-uncle had first entered this disturbed state on recognising him, and had never since entirely shaken it off.

"I asked after you at the King's Admiralty," the old fellow began to mutter now, "and the name the surveyor gave me for your vessel, and your captain, could not but give my some dismay; to my surprise, my own creatures at the Treasury have had to become familiar with your ship's affairs; and I caught the familiar ring. There is embezzlement from the King's own Excise going on aboard her...though whether captain, officers or crew drive it, none of my men have traced...needless to say, I hold you innocent in this, boy, and I shall speak for you if it be needed. Yet you are right; it is not of this matter I came to bandy words with you..."

He spoke as he cantered, displaying a more ingenious and manouvreable grasp of the reins than seemed usual - even appropriate - to his age, and station. Vëandur would only now notice that his uncle was not merely a short man by the City's lights, but a bow-legged one too. Lacking such routine fluency, the younger man began to struggle to weave beside the elder as they left the Third Circle behind them. No courtesy troubled Cirdacil now, and he barked his odd form of 'conversation' back.

"You're a polite boy, and a wise one too, I think, and when you remarked that you would be interested to know of my cares at the Exchequer - aye, and the Revels, too - I took you quite at your word."

They now passed under the white gate to the Fourth, spangled with new copper hinging and bolting; the Guards of the evening faltering back as they had done on each occasion before.

"Ha, you had days in the City on leave before I interrupted you, young Berenson; perhaps you can tell me some things frankly. Did you hear of the King's Players? And what did you hear?"
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:07 PM   #346
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Coldan was at the end of his wits. Asta seemed to have entered into a state of mind resembling a berserker's battle fury which rendered her impenetrable to arguments and reason. If there was no stopping her, the best he could do would be to stick with her and try to see her through this venture with as little damage done as he could manage - both to and by her; he wasn't sure himself which worried him more.

"No, I von't," he grumbled and began to disrobe their unconscious victim. "But zese clothes von't fit me, he's too zin; and I vill look most credible as a captured villain to zese Gondorians, unvashed Easterling zat I am in zeir eyes. If Harry von't do it, you'd best play ze servant yourself, Asta; it von't be your first male role either."

Mumbling something that sounded like "...about time you came to your senses," Asta caught the garments he tossed to her, then quickly stripped down to her shift and donned the servant's livery. It wasn't the first time Coldan saw her changing costumes - over the years, the forced intimacy of cramped backstage spaces had given him a good idea of what he was missing - , so he wouldn't have bothered to look the other way if Harrenon hadn't grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around.

"You can't just go along with her, Coldan!" Harrenon insisted frantically. "We'll all end up in jail if you're caught!"

Coldan shrugged wearily. "I must, Harry, since I can't dissuade her. I hev given Asta my vord I vould stand by her, and to a man of Dorvinion, such a pledge given to a voman is as binding as ze Oath of Fëanor. Zis vas my plan as much as hers, and I can't let her valk into danger alone now. You're under no such obligation, and I can't blame you for backing out - it's ze most sensible zing to do. If ve're not back by ze morning bells, find one Captain Bregolas of ze Tower Guard and tell him vat happened - he's a friend of Aldarion's and should know vat to do."

"Are you done talking?" Asta interrupted them, gathering her long hair into a knot and hiding it under the powdered wig. "We've got to hurry." If not for the false white hair, she would have looked like a young page who still had to grow into his blue uniform with lots of lace and little black and white lions all over the front and marching up the sleeves. She ripped a few strips of cloth off the seams of her skirts and handed the ribbons to Coldan, who tied the senseless lackey's hands and feet with them and stuffed his handkerchief into the man's mouth, while Asta hid her bundled clothes under the hedge next to him. When all was done, he stood up and nodded to her.

"Let's get going!"

"Then come, you scoundrel, and don't you try no tricks!" Asta took him by the arm and marched him back to the demolished door, followed by a desperate Harrenon. Somehow Coldan got the impression that this distribution of roles didn't displease her at all - she rather seemed to be enjoying herself. He wasn't sure he liked that.

On the threshold of the door gaping before them like the entrance to the Cracks of Doom he briefly turned back to Harrenon. "Remember, Harry - Captain Bregolas of ze Tower Guard. And tell Brinn I'm sorry."

To Sammath Naur and back, he reminded himself, drawing a deep breath. Then he resigned himself to whatever fate might lurk behind that door and let Asta drag him into Sador's den.

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Old 07-03-2011, 05:43 PM   #347
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"Ha, you had days in the City on leave before I interrupted you, young Berenson; perhaps you can tell me some things frankly. Did you hear of the King's Players? And what did you hear?"

Vëandur heard the last questions the old man had asked, but his mind for the moment was still fixed on what had been said just before.

The Exchequer's office was investigating his ship? If one or others were involved in something illegal, that might at least explain all the late drama aboard that had become by degrees harder and harder to ignore. It could also be the reason for the captain's strange behaviour. Vëandur would not allow himself to yet believe the captain was guilty, at least not without evidence, but worry over the matter could have eating at the man's mind.

As those thoughts ran through his head, Vëandur knew Cirdacil was waiting for answers. Time enough for the rest later. Their steeds raced through the sleeping city streets. The dark sky revealed no stars, and now lightning began to flicker in the direction of the mountains to the east, though no sound of thunder was yet heard.

"The King's Players?" he asked. " I know little: merely that they are a traveling group of actors portraying the events of the War of the Ring. I did happen to meet one of them, though. A fellow who named himself 'Aldarion'. I thought him at first a noble soldier by his looks and speech, and was in truth disappointed to find myself mistaken."

Puzzled, Vëandur asked the question that rose to his mind.

"What trouble have these Players caused, my lord? I said I would aid you if I could, and that word I shall keep."
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:45 AM   #348
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"I don't think anyone in this Middle-earth leads a dull life, least of all you. And if you think you do, what's stopping you from making it a little more interesting yourself?"

Thiliel looked down, sighing slightly. Ingold's words rang in her ears: You are almost grown up, and you have to act as such. What is stopping her? You have to act like you are expected to, like your sires want you to. Are they the ones who always cut short the wings of glory, risk, excitement, - adventure? Have to. But are they? Do they not want every child to live a tale worth telling?

What tale? All the Great Tales are of the past. Would I that I have lived then! No, I do not wish for War to come again upon us, but rather to have a part in that War. Peace is for those who have done their work in battle - they truly enjoy the rightful peace. But for others, those like me, who only heard an echo of the War, and who have only seen its reflection in the eyes of the older and on the unused swords? If I was a part of that echo - as small as it would have been! How could Celebrindal think that something done now - today - this minute - could possibly compare with the deeds of the past?

Celebrindal. She was leaning forward, looking intently at Thiliel, her supper forgotten. Her eyes shone. A lock of hair fell on her check. She looked like a lass herself. No one told her to act her age… She travels with the troop, free from everything.

“Mistress Celebrindal, may I also journey with you and the others?” the question came out unexpectedly, but was not unwanted. Thiliel’s chest swelled with exhilaration at the idea, although reason told her what the answer will be.
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:51 AM   #349
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In The Music Room

Sador and Circilie led their sister-by-law, and their player guest, into a lower, but long room off the ball-room, Sador falling back as Aldarion and Gloredhel moved past him to swing the door to.

"There, good," he mumured, all off-hand, "for the moment I wanted to be certain of discretion."

The chamber might be less grand in its capacity, but there was still an impression of ornate, recently implemented luxury in Ecsichil's* Music Room. Walls and ceiling alike were festooned with airily gorgeous frescoes in gentle, light colours, illustrating birds, trees, and fantastical architectural caprices; interspersed everywhere with scenes of minstrelsy. In Dol Amroth the visitors would have seen purist, classical portraiture and sculpture on such themes, illustrating particular episodes; Maglor singing the Noldor's fall by the sea, or Daeron in his final flight. These images had no such ambition of conception; they were gaudily done lads and lasses, playing at lutes and zithers, yellow-haired as Circilie for the most part, and as carefree, too.

The room was actually rather sparing on musical instruments themselves; there was a harp, that looked too prettily and heavily decorated to be played with any harmony; there was a kind of Eastern drum that proved on closer inspection to be an exotic form of table; a flute hung on one wall beside several swords, but none looked very given to practicality, whether in battle or song. The Music Room's name was a conceit as insubstantial as music's own charm. Sador conceded no attention to any of it, moving swiftly into the middle of the room and securing his three companions' attention with several swift, eager glances.

"Right. Master Lameleg's latest drama is a tragicomedy - you are of course all aware of the genre..."

"It is not generally allowed as a genre at all, at Dol Amroth," Aldarion interposed in a quietly stern tone.

"Well, I shall hope my, ah, direction can seduce you from your early training, then, friend. The play I wish to set before this gathering, Celebrindal, is set in Gondolin - ancient Gondoline the piece generally calls it, for ease of melody - long before her fall. The argument concerns the marriage of Princess Idril the Silverfoot, always referred to in the text as Celebrindal...like the leader of your fine troupe, Aldarion; a happy coincidence. Celebrindal loves and is loved by Tuor the Adan, but Maeglin, her cousin, also by untimely fate desires her. He tries to seduce her and present proof of her infidelity to Tuor; he initially succeeds, with the help of his rascally minstrel friend Salgant, but is uncovered as a liar in the resolution. We shall play only two extracts; the attempted seduction, and the gulling and grief of Tuor. Here are your parts. Read them well; ."

He handed screeds of parchment to each of them, keeping one himself. Gloredhel's read Celebrindal of old Gondoline, Circilie's Salgant of the Harp, Sador's own Tuor the Adan, and Aldarion's, Prince Maeglin of the Sharp Glance.

"A chance for our errant swan to unstretch his feathers," Sador joshed as he handed out this last part. "And it is he who shall begin our first reading..."

The top of Aldarion's part was a short enough speech:

Change you, cousin?
The worthy mortal Tuor is in safety,
And greets your highness dearly.
**

Sador mouthed it as if he knew it by...more than heart, but soon swallowed back his too enthusiastic disposition...


*City records of the early Fourth Age refer to the minor noble Cirdacil Cirdacilion as both Ecsichil and Echsicil; this was a lesser title he held by marriage, by which he was generally called to distinguish him from his father, the more famous Cirdacil, Lord Warden of the Exchequer and briefly Master of the Revels.

**Seventh Age scholars might wish to compare this scene to Cymbeline, Act I scene 5, by Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford.

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Old 07-13-2011, 11:58 AM   #350
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"Right. Master Lameleg's latest drama is a tragicomedy - you are of course all aware of the genre..." said Sador.

"It is not generally allowed as a genre at all, at Dol Amroth," Aldarion interposed in a quietly stern tone.

Gloredhel shot Aldarion a puzzled glance as Sador went on to explain the setting. Why is he taking this angle? Since when has he had such a dislike for tragecomedies?

Gloredhel smiled politely as she was handed her part. She was actually a bit disappointed to be Idril, as she expected that roll to offer the least in the way of humor, and assumed her character would be that of a standard beautiful elf princess.

She looked sideways at Aldarion's part and was surprised to see that he had received the part of Maeglin rather than Tuor, assuming that his look and bearing would have spurred Sador to follow that route. But this change was probably to Aldarion's liking, as he had always enjoyed being a villain. She and Amlach had always joked that Aldarion was a bit too comfortable in such roles.

But Aldarion was already reading! Gloredhel scrambled to find her bearings. He had not even bothered to question Sador as to the specifics of the situations and the character overall within this particular work. Plus he wasn't bothering with a Noldorin accent, which was extremely strange, as Aldarion simply loved to disguise his voice.

"Change you, cousin?
The worthy mortal Tuor is in safety,
And greets your highness dearly...."

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Old 07-14-2011, 04:38 AM   #351
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Sador seemed as surprised as Gloredhel by Aldarion's blunt, unadorned approach, and not a little dissatisfied, too.

"Hang on, friends, let's pause here, I feel that wasn't quite right. Do it again, Aldarion. Bring out the expression that made your Ar-Pharazon infamous, sir! You are the most notorious turncoat of the Elder Days now, and one of the slyest speakers. You are delivering an apparently innocuous greeting, but some of its words carry deeper meanings. Stress them:

"Cousin. Your knowledge of an incestuous draw burns at your heart day and night. Mortal. You know your rival is doomed to wither and die. Dearly. More dearly that the upstart can afford. These words drive you mad, and reveal your soul to each spectator...if not to Idril herself. Like this...if you'll allow me?"

And Sador, who seemed to be acting under a quite extra-rational impulse, took Aldarion's first leaf and read out the snatch of blank verse again. Like the player, he scorned to attempt any Quenyan lilt. This was no stylised imitation of an Elf from legend, but the heartfelt cry a man in pain. He was playing himself, intensified, simplified, purified. Most striking of all, he had slipped into addressing not the whole room, but one other, facing Gloredhel in the most naturalistic manner.

And he absolutely had not intended to. As he reached the third line he reddened in abashment. "Of course, I lack your experience, Master Aldarion, and you must forgive the liberty I have taken. Your Maeglin must be your own, not mine, and...I shall be interested to see it." He passed back the sheet of vellum with a slight but palpable shudder...
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:51 AM   #352
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Aldarion received his script back wordlessly. Sador obviously wished to truly enjoy this reading, and cared about the artistry of everyone's performance. Aldarion almost felt a bit badly about his lack of effort, but then remembered that Sador was a schemer that had spoken ill of him and his companions, and felt a little rush of pleasure in having made things difficult for the man.

And even as he thought this, Gloredhel rapped him upon the head with her rolled up script. "Do not worry about this one, sir!" she said to Sador. "I expect he's merely getting into character," she continued. "Years ago he played the part of Daeron in The Greatest King, and he would not cease his singing!"

Aldarion grinned despite himself, recalling how he had annoyed his family during the month of performance. "He even sang at the table, when simply requesting the salt!" Gloredhel laughed.

And then she turned to Aldarion, half grinning half glaring. "I expect he's being an *** now simply because Maeglin was an ***."

Now this was quite false but Aldarion was not certain if Gloredhel believed it or not. As he considered the possibility that it was true from her perspective, a sinister grin began to creep over his features. He did love playing villains, and he did enjoy getting into character....

"Change you, cousin?
The worthy mortal Tuor is in safety,
And greets your highness dearly"

The change in Aldarion's voice and posture was striking. He leaned towards Gloredhel and stared at her as a starving wolf would look upon a securely fenced lamb, and his accent was, to anyone who recognized, nearly indistinguishable from a born and bred Noldorin Elf.

Gloredhel smiled. But not her usual smile- for it was Celebrindal, not Gloredhel, that occupied her chair.

"You are as welcome, cousin dear, as I
Have words to bid you; and shall find it so
In all that I can do."

As she spoke, occasionally glancing at him with an unfamiliarity that further cemented his sense of character, a deep and true sense of enjoyment trickled through him, and older traits were awakened from slumber. He was going to act out a failed seduction, and he found the thought extremely amusing. How they would laugh later! No doubt Gloredhel would point out that Maeglin was far more charming than Aldarion.

And quite suddenly Aldarion was back- the old one, who didn't mind comedy so much, and lived to entertain by any means available. And just as swiftly he became Maeglin- really Maeglin this time. His mind clicked into place effortlessly, for he had been Maeglin twice before with the Swan Players. His eyes not only changed their shape slightly, but somehow they nearly shined in a way that shouted the meaning of his name- "sharp glance". He also abandoned his classic Noldorin, and instead added a flavor of Sindarin which testified to Maeglin's upbringing in the forest of Nan Elmoth before his flight to Gondolin.

"Thanks, fairest lady.
What, are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes
To see this vaulted arch, and the rich crop
Of mountained land, which can distinguish 'twixt
The fiery orbs above and the twinn'd stones
Upon the number'd beach, and can we not
Partition make with spectacles so precious
'Twixt fair and foul?"
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:39 PM   #353
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Cirdacil

"What trouble have these Players caused, my lord? I said I would aid you if I could, and that word I shall keep."

"The suspicion that has driven me from my desk," the old man muttered, "is that the cause of the trouble...was I myself."

As the sailor and the treasurer wound up the City's high road together, great-uncle imparted the whole story, as quickly as possible, to great-nephew.

Cirdacil began with his original, unlooked for and inexplicable, appointment as Master of the Revels; he explained that his younger son, Sador, had proposed the matter was an intentional test of his mettle and sincerity; detailed the process of engaging as chaotic a company as could be found, his tearaway son-in-law's runagate friend's bravos; ran through the first misadventures of the King's Player's, and the stern measures he had begun to take against them...and at last came to the troubling visit, so recent, of King Elessar himself.

"So it would appear," he finished, "that Sador was wrong in detail, if not in drift; the King was trusting me to make a success of the play, not a failure, after all; and it seems likely he may relieve me of the Treasury if the performance misfires! The Treasury, where I could still be of so much use to him!

"What must I do, nevvy," he gasped out, the Pelargir twang reasserting itself emotionally. "Do I truly have a duty to help this nonsensical operation come to fruition? And if so...Sador's latest report portrayed the troupe as in total disarray. What in Arda can I do to turn this fiasco round...?"

Their hastened journey had whirled them now into the merchant manses; the longest, largest, and yellowest stone among them lay some way further down the cobbles; pillars of smoke seemed to furl behind it, disturbingly, almost as if it was, or had just been on fire...
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:15 PM   #354
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As Vëandur listened to his great-uncle's rapid discourse on his troubles as Master of Revels, he couldn't help thinking that the old man was right: much of the problem did lay upon his own shoulders.

Why would he assume the King wanted the actors to fail? If the King didn't want them, Vëandur mused, why would they have been allowed to come? And had he really thought dismissing the old carpenter was fair, or helpful?

Vëandur was quickly coming to the conclusion that his newly found kinsman was a man who lived for his office, for prestige, and for order, and that he thought those Players were somehow a threat to all those things. Why? At the end of the day a job was a job, and one had to take the bitter with the sweet. Vëandur had certainly had occasion to learn that truth.

The smoky plumes ahead of them grew as they rode swiftly toward them. What in the name of Ossë was going on now? Vëandur had not considered before that seafaring was a peaceful life, but this madness he had stumbled upon in the Capital gave him a new appreciation of the pleasure of being at Sea, away from these political intrigues and fancies of the highborn.

"Well, my uncle, I would say this: I see not why the tide cannot be turned. Could you not take back the carpenter into your employ? It may gain you some trust with the Players, and I think you must have that first."

Vëandur paused, as Cirdacil slowed his steed. They must be nearly there.

"Then," he went on, "it seems these Players need a place where they can practice their art in peace, and yet be under your guidance. Could they be housed in some other place, where the perils of drink and distraction may be checked? Maybe you could take them into your own house, lord. I know it seems a horrible intrusion, but I think it could help, and the King might look upon it as a token of your earnestness to see his will in this matter carried out."
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:27 AM   #355
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“Mistress Celebrindal, may I also journey with you and the others?” the question came out unexpectedly, but was not unwanted. Thiliel’s chest swelled with exhilaration at the idea, although reason told her what the answer will be.

Brinn smiled and patted Thiliel's arm--so young she looked! "Are you sure that would be entirely wise?" she said. "The King's Players--all of us--do this for the love of the work we do, not because we hate what else life has to offer. Tell me, did you even entertain such thoughts before we arrived?"

"But, Mistress Celebrindal," the girl insisted, "I love to act! I always played games where I would make up that I am a different person. And I want to travel and see the world. I don't hate what life has been offering me; it is just, well, plain..." She thought of her homein Lebennin. It was... the same. Nothing ever changed when Thiliel was there. She climbed all the trees in the area, knew all the rocks. She discovered them, and she befriended them. And there was nothing new left to discover. Same old streams, same old rocks, same old trees. It was always the same. What adventures could one possibly have when they know everything around them?

Minas Anor was different. It was new. Thiliel didn't have much time yet to have an adventure here, but she knew that she will. And that is just one city! Celebrindal and the others travel all around, and see so many different cities. Thiliel would like to see other cities and towns. If she was part of the troop, she would be allowed to have a part in the others' adventures.

She remembered the three actors that left into the night, clearly doing something they were not supposed to do. Coldan, Asta and - what was the last one's name? Harry? They are having a real adventure. And all she gets for knowing about it is to keep their secret until morrow. If she was part of the troop, she was sure that they'd let her come with them.

Celebrindal gave her a sad look and shook her head slightly. "Please, Mistress Celebrindal..." Thiliel put on the most pleading expression she could muster, "please let me come."

"I will not say 'no, not ever,'" said Brinn. "But such a decision is life-changing and should not be made on a whim. Rollan, Branor, and I were all involved in the theater long before we decided to travel, so we knew what we were getting into. Besides, you have your obligations here, to your uncle. Unless our performance here goes ill indeed, we shall return to Minas Anor for many years. When you come of age, if you still wish to join us, talk to me then."

"Come of age! But I won't come of age for a long time! And, see, Sereth is not of age yet, and she gets to play Frodo the Halfling!"

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Old 05-29-2015, 05:40 PM   #356
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~*~ Moving this thread to Elvenhome ~*~

Today is 5/29/2015 - last post to this thread was 08-30-2011.
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