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Old 03-01-2004, 01:18 PM   #1
mark12_30
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Tolkien Friends of Nimrodel: Tapestry of Dreams

MINAS TIRITH

The morning sun glimmered on the northwesternmost edge of the fourth circle of Minas Tirith. Cold mountain winds snapped the clothing hung in the rearmost recesses of the estate. From the clotheslines, a servant-girl carrying a wicker basket of clean laundry walked past the stables and toward the house. But she veered , drawing closer to the smithy whence sparks snapped and bellows blew, and blades hissed as they were quenched. She stood a moment and watched while several hammer blows fell. They rang loudly but she did not wince.

The young blacksmith turned to stoke the fire, and greeted her with a smile. "I almost have it, " he said. "All but the-- ah-- the sixth verse from the end. Do the waves splash or wash?"

She smiled, shifting the basket from left to right. "Neither:

When dawn came dim the land was lost, The mountains sinking grey
Beyond the heaving waves that tossed Their plumes of blinding spray."

"Heaving waves that tossed... You could have sung it for me, " he reproached her with a smile.

She smiled and turned towards the house.

He picked up his hammer again. "I'll sing it for you tonight, after dinner. I'll have it by then."

She laughed. "I'd best hurry, if I hope to be back in time to hear you sing it! Today is market day, and there is no small pile of things to wash."

As he worked, he sang, the gentle tune contrasting strangely with the blows of his hammer. And the same strains, shredded and whipped by the cold mountain winds, flew from the house into the neighboring buildings. Brother and sister, separated by chores, echoed each other throughout the day. Neither knew it. But one with keen hearing standing betwteen the smithy and the house would have heard two voices, singing at different times, the same song.


An Elven-maid there was of old, A shining star by day.
Her mantle white was hemmed with gold, Her shoes of silver-grey.

A star was bound upon her brows, A light was on her hair
As sun upon the golden boughs In Lorien the fair.

Her hair was long, her limbs were white, And fair she was and free;
And in the wind she went as light As leaf of linden-tree.

Beside the falls of Nimrodel, By water clear and cool,
Her voice as falling silver fell Into the shining pool.

Where now she wanders none can tell, In sunlight or in shade;
For lost of yore was Nimrodel And in the mountains strayed.

The elven-ships in haven grey Beneath the mountain-lee
Awaited her for many a day Beside the roaring sea.

A wind by night in Northern lands Arose, and loud it cried,
And drove the ship from elven-strands Across the steaming tide.

When dawn came dim the land was lost, The mountains sinking grey
Beyond the heaving waves that tossed Their plumes of blinding spray.

Amroth be held the fading shore Now low beyond the swell,
And cursed the faithless ship that bore Him far from Nimrodel.

Of old he was an Elven-king, A lord of tree and glen,
When golden were the boughs in spring In fair Lothlorien.

From helm to sea they saw him leap, As arrow from the string,
And dive into the water deep, As mew upon the wing.

The wind was in his flowing hair, The foam about him shone;
Afar they saw him strong and fair Go riding like a swan.

But from the West has come no word, And on the Hither Shore
No tidings Elven-folk have heard Of Amroth evermore.

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:20 PM   #2
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Market Day (one week later)

In contrast to the bright morning air and the early smells of the marketplace, an odd musty smell reached her nostrils. She wrinkled her nose and rearranged the napkin over her bread-basket. As she walked away from the market, her eyes checked to and fro for the source of the musty smell.

The windows were open at the Inn! There had been no activity there for so long. Her brother would be thrilled! And then she sighed, and shook herself. She had to find him first.

Perhaps he was at the inn! Her steps quickened, and she approached and tried the front door. It was shut. Puzzled, she went to an open window, and cautiously peered inside. An elegant woman stood facing the dark fireplace with a mug in her hand.

Clasping her hands around her basket-handle, she bowed her head slightly. "Beg pardon, my lady, and a good morning and good health I bid you. I am looking for my brother; perchance have you seen him?"

"I could better answer your question if I knwe who he was, " the lady replied. "Come in."

She stepped gratefully inside, glancing around taking in her surroundings, and set her basket down.

"Tell me about this brother you are looking for."

"His name is Fingon but all call him Mellondu. He is a good lad, hardworking, and always responsible, even though he is quiet and dreamy. We are apprenticed to the same family here in the city. I was apprenticed first, of course, five years ago, and he was apprenticed three years later. He has learned metal-smithing; and sometimes he learns a little carpentry from our Master's neighbors."

"That sounds like a good combination," Estelyn said. She considered the young woman and did some guesswork; apprenticed five years ago-- probably at age fifteen. That made her twenty now, and her brother perhaps about seventeen or so. "And what about you? What skills are you learning?"

"Oh, " she said with a little laugh, "Embroidery of course, and sewing, and cooking. And cleaning." She sighed. "I would like to learn to do the books, but I do not know my numbers, and I keep hoping that they will teach me runes. They have not. Not yet."

"I see. Go on, " Estelyn said. "And what is your name?"

"Finduilas, my Lady, but no one calls me that. They call me Mellonin."

"Finduilas and Fingon are noble names. Your parents like history?"

"Yes. Our family was important, generations ago. But not now. Noble names are now all we have. That is why Mellondu and I prefer our nicknames."

"Mellondu, Mellonin. So he is Friend-dark, and you are Friend-white?" Estelyn pondered the girl's dark hair and dark grey eyes, and waited for a more logical explanation.

Mellonin considered the depths of her teacup and answered, "He's very moody. But of course, he is never rude, or impolite, or careless. Just sad, and quiet. My parents said that he is gloomy and I'm the cheerful one. So, Darklove and Lightlove. It started out as a joke, of course. He isn't really dark. Just sad."

"I see. And why are you looking for him?" Estelyn prompted.

"Two nights ago, he did not come home, " Mellonin replied. "Our Mistress was very worried, and our Master was angry and said he must have had too much to drink and fallen asleep somewhere, and that he'd be back at dawn with a headache. I did not think he would drown in his cups, but I held my tongue." She fidgeted with her teacup. "But then the next morning, he did not return, nor last evening. Nor this morning either. And no one in the marketplace had seen him, yesterday, nor the day before. I've been asking, and no one has any news."

"What does he look like?" Estelyn said.

"Well, people say he looks like me, only an inch taller, and a finer, thinner face."

"Ah. You resemble each other quite closely?"

"I wore his clothes one day, and fooled many people."

Estelyn's eyes sparkled. "Indeed. And did he wear yours?"

"No, my Lady!" Mellonin replied with a shocked giggle. "No, he didn't!" She decided that she liked this Lady. She raised her eyes, shyly, and searched the Lady's face, softly lit by the growing daylight on one side and firelight on the other. "But my Lady, what would you do? Where would you look for him? I've already asked all his friends that I can find. He misses the Innkeeper here, I know. He used to come here and listen to songs and tales. That's why I had hoped you knew of him."

"No, I don't know of him, " Estelyn replied. But perhaps you will learn of his whereabouts here at the Inn. "

Mellonin considered this as she gathered her basket, thanked the lady, and departed. She mentioned it to her mistress that evening, who went away looking thoughtful.

************
Mellonin slowed as the inn came into sight, and paused to catch her breath. She gazed at the sunset, sad and happy at the same time, and wondered why; wondered why she felt hopeful, when her brother had not been heard from in four days.

She looked down at the letter in her hand, and puzzled over it again. It had been written late last night. The Master and Mistress had been closeted away yesterday, and mum today; the Mistress tight-lipped and angry, the Master absent-minded and nervous. The forge-workers had been puzzled, and even the animals had been ancy.

At sunset they had ordered her (washed and combed and in her best dress) back to the Inn, bearing a mysterious letter and a basket of gifts. She puzzled over them. Jars of honey and jam, a spiced ham, a bottle of very good wine, and a round of cheese. Still mystified, she approached the door, and softly entered.

She was not unattractive, and the mistress had ordered her to look her very best. All eyes followed her. They puzzled at the basket she carried and the letter in her hand. She blushed under their stares, and scanned the people. At one table sat an old man and a young man; she nodded nervously to them. At another table sat a woman and ... was that an elf? And there was something very strange about the woman, also.

And at another table sat the Innkeeper, Morien. Not seeing Estelyn, she approached Morien.

"She'll be right back," Morien said. "Have a seat." He pulled at his ale.

She would rather have stood, but neither did she dare disobey him. "Yes, sir." She sat bolt upright, clutching the basket in her lap.

"You could relax," Morien growled at her.

"No, sir," she replied.

Estelyn returned, and Mellonin hastened to her, taking refuge in her kind glance. "Please, my Lady. My Mistress sends you these foods and my Master sends you this wine, with their compliments. And they have written you a letter, my Lady."

Estelyn raised one eyebrow, and suppressed a giggle. The twinkle in her eyes set Mellonin at ease. Estelyn accepted the basket, opened the letter, and read it as Mellonin waited.

"And what do you think of this?" Estelyn asked her.

"My Lady?"

"Don't you know what this letter says?"

"No, my Lady."

"Come with me." Estelyn led Mellonin to an empty table and motioned her into a seat. Lowering her voice, she motioned Mellonin to lean close, and softly she read the letter to her.

"To the Most Esteemed Royal Princess and wise Loremistress Estelyn Telcontar, greetings and salutations. We wish to express our most profound and humble gratitude for your kindness to our beloved servant Mellonin, whom we cherish as our own precious daughter...." At this Estelyn glanced at Mellonin, who looked rather surprised. Nodding, Estelyn continued. "We estimate that we shall never be able to repay our debt of gratitude for your kindness toward our beloved servant... ... feh... blah, blah, blah. Anyway, the important part is this, down here." Estelyn pointed towards the bottom. "Remaining at the Inn, she will of course be better able to inquire after news of her missing brother. We have contacted her parents and they are agreeable to our plan. Therefore, should you find the plan agreeable to you, please accept our offer of her apprenticeship and service for as long as you enjoy her services or at least until the fate of her brother can be ascertained. She has few belongings and will be able to gather them quickly at whatever time you see fit. We are grateful to entrust her to one so learned, wise, kind, generous, trustworthy... blah, blah, blah."

Estelyn lowered the letter, and considered Mellonin. "You didn't know about this."

"No, Lady."

"What do you think of it?"

Mellonin sat back. Much of the letter confused her; three points were clear in her mind. One: they claimed to cherish her as their own daughter; that, she doubted. Two: At the Inn, she would be more likely to hear news of her brother. That she believed. And third, her parents approved of the mysterious plan.

"What plan, my Lady? Do they mean that I should work here at the Inn?"

"They are offering your service not to the Inn or the Innkeeper, but to me," Estelyn said.

A slow smile spread across Mellonin's face, and Estelyn watched it deepen and brighten until the young woman shivered with joy.

"I should like that, my Lady," Mellonin replied, "if it is agreeable to you."

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:24 PM   #3
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1420! Seventh Star part 2

littlemanpoet

A young man walked through the doors of the inn, his eyes wide, his expression rapt. His hair was red and settled on his head like a mop. He walked up to the bar, looking around, taking in his surroundings as if he would memorize every inch of it.

Once he got to the bar, his face screwed up with a comical frown, and he fished in his pockets. His brow rose in surprise, and he pulled out a handful of coins, staring at them, studying the face of the King on the front, and the tree and seven stars on the back.

"May I help you, lad?"

The young man's eyes shot up. "Yes! I'll take one of the stoutest you have."

mark12_30

Here it was midmorning already, and she was already looking forward to a good night's sleep. Next time, Mellonin promised herself, I won't stargaze quite so long. She drew the back of her hand across her eyes, took a deep breath and stretched tall, and reminded herself to smile.

She hesitated, watching the young redheaded man at the bar, and waited while Morien poured the ale and the redheaded man tasted it, and gave a nod of approval. Then she stepped closer. His intense gaze unnerved her a little, but she composed herself.

"Good morning, sir, and welcome to The Seventh Star." He nodded over his ale; she continued. "When you are rested, I would like to hear what brings you to The Seventh Star. Perhaps you are newly come to the City?"


littlemanpoet

The young man was most pleased with the stout ale. The lady's question was forthright, but asked in a way that for courtesy could not be equaled, as far as he could tell.

"Yes, I am new to the city. First thing this morning I found myself at the front gate, not knowing where I was, or who, but knowing this is not where I am from. Yet I was amazed and glad, because this place is a wonder!"

He smiled over his ale, his delight written on his face.

"This is The Seventh Star, you say? And these coins have seven stars on the back, and a tree. Who is the King on the front? And what city is this?"

mark12_30

Her consternation that the redheaded man did not know the name of the city he stood in was exceeded by a well-composted stench. She snatched a corner of her sleeve and put it over her nose, and then glared at Rog as he hurried past. THen she studied the redhaired man again. He seemed gentle despite his wild eyes; but his questions unsettled her. "I wish the Lady Estelyn were here. She would know what to ask, and what to do," Mellonin thought. "But no doubt she would tell me to do my best..."

Once she could breathe without gagging, she pointed to the coin and said, "The King is Elessar, well beloved and just. The seven stars and the one white tree are part of Gondor's insignia. And the name of the city is Minas Anor, the tower of the Sun. But all this you would have learned from the guards at the gate; did you not pass through the gate? Forgive me, but with hair like yours I cannot imagine you would have passed unnoticed. You say you do not know who you are nor where?" Se frowned, and glanced at the Innkeeper. He was busy pouring a drink.

Studying the redhaired man, she thought hard. "Were you injured? Do you feel well? Do you have a headache, or were you drinking a little too much perhaps? Or by chance are you feverish?"

And then with a sudden hope she interrupted him even as he began to answer. "Do you know what happened to Mellondu? Have you seen him? Do you know where he has gone?"

littlemanpoet

He listened to the young lady's answers, and her questions. Elessar. Gondor. Minas Anor. The names resonated deeply within him. He wished he could remember why. The young lady's questions were disconcerting, and apt. Had he in fact started at the gate? Or had it been a different gate he had come through? Or had he passed through one gate, thinking it to be another? He wished he could remember. Then she startled him with an entirely unrelated question: "Do you know what happened to Mellondu? Have you seen him? Do you know where he has gone?"

"I'm sorry, lady, I do not know who this man Mellondu is, so I cannot say whether I have seen him or not. Is he a friend?"

"Melonnin!" called a man's voice, and the young lady left him to obey the man's orders. So she was in employ at this Inn. Melonnin; a gentle name. He took another draft of his ale. It seemed to be morning here, but it felt to him like late afternoon. He wondered what that meant.

Morien was the man's name, and he clearly had authority in this Inn, considering that the barkeep settled another stout ale just like the previous in response to Morien's gesture. Morien asked him if he was new, and he answered the man honestly, of course. Morien frowned and sat down next to him as the young man sipped the foam of the top of his stout.

"I do not mean to be difficult, sir," the redheaded young man said. "I wish I could remember much at all!"

"Do you remember your name?" Morien asked.

"Not even that, sir, though it occurs to me that the name I once had was given me for my hair, so if you were to call me 'Red', in whatever tongue, it would serve as well as any other, I suppose. But tell me, if you please, who is this Elessar, and what is his story? Melonnin holds him in high esteem!"

mark12_30

Visitors settled in, rooms squared away, introductions complete, Mellonin returned to the common room, and surveyed it. Then she turned, and retreated to the bookkeeping room, and stood at the doorway.

There was only one pen and the supply of parchment was small. She did not relish the thought of explaining to Morien why his pen or parchment was missing.

Perhaps she had not gathered everything she needed from her former master's house, after all. This time, she could not return late. She turned, and headed for the common room.
Morien was walking past, muttering about letters and wine. She halted him, and he raised an eyebrow at her.

"Please, sir, I need to make one more trip to my old master's house to ask for some other things, so I must do it while they are awake. Sir, the Inn is busier at night then at mid-day, is it not? I will be needed this evening. May I go now?"

He waved her on. "Don't be too long." And he continued on his way. She watched him go. And then she snatched up her cloak and hurried back to the forges and her old home.


************

With another awkward bundle in a brown cloak, Mellonin came in through the kitchen door, and sprinted up to the third floor, to her little room by the chimney.

She laughed with relief, and laid the bundle on the bed. Her previous mistress had been willing for her to have her brother's things, but the previous master had not. The mistress had won.

She spread her brother's cloak on the bed, and removed each item, studying it. Two pairs of brown breeches; two shirts, one green and one white. No boots; he only had one pair. No belt, no knife, no tunic; Mellondu only owned one of each, and had been wearing them the night he disappeared.

She paused. Why had he not been wearing his cloak? Had it been a warm evening? Yes, it had. And now it was growing colder, and he did not have one. She frowned.

One pair of breeches was rolled up in a very heavy bundle. The old master had been especially loath to part with Mellondu's hammer and tongs, but they had been a parting gift from father. She hefted them, as she had so often before. She had tried her hand at the forge, twice, when both the master and the mistress had been away. She had not lasted long, but she had managed to start one knife. Mellondu had finished it while she watched. She leaned the hammer and tongs in the darkest corner of the room and returned to the bed.

The white shirt she had folded; the green shirt she had rolled. She unrolled it now to reveal a pen and a bottle of ink. The other shirt was folded around five sheets of parchment. Three were blank. The other two had tables, drawn with an inexperienced and uneven hand. One table was for cirth, the other for tengwar; metalsmiths had to learn them for forging weapons, and Mellondu had just begun to study them. She ran her fingertip over each table in turn.

I can do this, she thought; Mellondu is wiser than I am, but I'm not stupid. I can learn these. The Lady Estelyn expects me to, I've always wanted to, and this is my time.

She turned and surveyed the awkward little room. It was gloomy unless she left the door ajar, but she could do that long enough to study. She would review these tables every day. Perhaps someone at the Inn could help her, too.

She laid Mellondu's clothes across the bed, and thought about a belt, a knife, a tunic and boots. The tunic was the most easily solved. She had four dresses, and the skirts of all of them were forest green; her lips tightened, and she reached for her needle and pocketknife, but then remembered that she was expected downstairs. She faced the three dresses hanging up on the wall, chose her least favorite of the three, and tossed it on the bed beside the breeches. She would have a tunic before long.

She guessed she could find, or make, a belt without much difficulty. She had her own pocketknife until she could get or make a man's knife for herself. The boots were the worst problem, but she could not solve that today.

Humming, she went back downstairs. In between chores and greetings, she looked about for runes or tengwar wherever she saw them, and tried to interpret them as best she could.


littlemanpoet

Red listened to all the people who had arrived in the last few minutes, and was quite confounded with the sheer multiplicity of them. Some of the names resonated deeply, as had the name of the king, Elessar. Red wondered why some names did so and others did not.

This place was more dangerous than where he had come from. No, he corrected himself as a strand or two of thoughts slipped and shifted into place, the danger was more straightforward than where he came from. Red decided that it would be wise to become proficient in some weapon or other. He turned and faced Melonnin, who seemed none too sure that all was now well in the common room.

"Pray, tell me, Melonnin," he said in a voice he hoped only she could hear, "do all peop- er - folk carry weapons here? Do you? Would I be wise to?" She opened her mouth to answer when a couple called her over. She gave him an apologetic expression and hurried off. Well, this is frustrating! he said to himself. Next chance he got, he would tell her that he had been given employment by the innkeeper, Morien. He hoped she would not be angered by that. Melonnin seemed a friendly sort, someone who could help him find north and south in this land, as it were.

mark12_30

Mellonin answered several summons, the last of which was from Morien. "Red, the new lad will be staying out in the loft. Make sure he has enough blankets, " Morien ordered.

She went upstairs, got several blankets, and slipped out the kitchen door and deposited them on the third rung of the loft-ladder, stroked the noses of several inquisitive horses, and then she returned to the common room and approached the redheaded man.

"Red, is it? Because of your hair?"

Red nodded.

She smiled. "Red-haired-man. Well, Raefindan, I left you some blankets on the loft ladder. And as to your question about weaponry-- yesterday I wouldn't have seen a need. But after today: yes, I think you should have a knife at least. If my brother was here I'd ask him to make you one. Well, Raefindan, or Red if you prefer, welcome to the Lonely Star and good luck. I'm a grizzled veteran of two whole days. I hope you enjoy working for Morien." She smiled. She was tempted to add a wink, but thought it would seem too forward. She began humming the Lay Of Nimrodel, and went to check with Morien for something more to do.

An elven maid there was of old,
A shining star by day...

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:25 PM   #4
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1420! SeventhStar part 3

mark12_30

Where now she wanders none can tell,
in sunlight or in shade,
For lost of yore was Nimrodel,
and in the mountains strayed.

One of the silent grey servants brought out a tray of just-washed mugs; Morien caught up a towel, and motioned at him to put the tray on the bar. Morien dried a mug and put it back on its shelf.

Mellonin hummed another couple of lines, and then said, "I wonder why people disappear. "

Morien, busy drying mugs, listened with a bartender's patience.

"It amazes me that people can just disappear without a trace. Even an elf-maiden betrothed to a king. How could they just lose her like that? You'd think somebody would have learned what happened to Nimrodel by now, wouldn't you?"

Morien dried another mug, and Mellonin considered him, and glanced at Red before she continued. "I wonder if Red is lost, and has someone looking for him. And I wonder where he got lost from. Maybe he lives right here, but he just can't remember. I wonder if Mellondu has just forgotten who he is, and is wandering around the city. Or maybe in the Pelennor, or beyond."

"Maybe. I take it no one has told you any news?" Morien dried another mug.

"No, " Mellonin said. She turned to consider the common room; it was bustling, and many of the people seemed to know each other. But none of them knew her brother.

Morien paused, and then handed her the towel. "Here, I don't know why I'm doing this. Finish up."

"Yes, sir." She dried the mugs one by one, and put them away.


littlemanpoet

Raefinden. His nerves tingled to the sound of that name. There was something positively smashing about it! Positively smashing? Now, where on earth did that term come from? He knew he had reconnoitered it to his own working vocabulary quite some time ago, but he had absolutely no inkling from where.

So much was happening so fast in the common room of this Inn, it was hard to keep track of it all. So many people. Um, folk. It seemed to be the appropriate way to express oneself here. The rather grand elf lady and her three children, and the court she kept - if it could be called a court; she did seem rather queenly after all - were apparently headed for some place called Harad. It sounded desert-like. Yes, he was certain of it. How he knew, he could not say.

Red, or Raefinden, as it pleased him to name himself, decided that it was high time for him to busy himself in some way to pay for his room. He got up from his table and walked over to Morien.

"Sir, I would be most gratified if you would find some means of emp-" he stopped. The innkeeper looked at him blankly, as if trying to make sense of his grammar. Take care of your speech, Red he said to himself. "Forgive me." He bowed. "Please give me work, to pay for my room, sir."
littlemanpoet

Whatever else was true, Red was sure that he had not spent much time in his forgotten past doing much by way of hard labor. His back was screaming! He was on his knees, scrubbing the wood floor in one of the inn's rooms with hot, soapy water, using a very sturdy wooden brush.

When he had asked Morien for work, this was not what he had been thinking of. Rather, something more on the lines of reorganizing the scrolls alphabetically, or sweeping the floor in the common room, or waiting tables even. This was hard work. Morien was getting his room paid for, no danger!

Red left the brush in the puddle on the floor, and leaned back, still on his knees, pressing both hands into the small of his back. The ceiling was crawling with spider webs that needed removing. He would have to tell Morien about that.

Just then he heard a muffled noise from the hallway.

mark12_30

The muffled noise in the hallway repeated itself, sounding suspiciously like a snort. Red turned, baffled, and peered out the door, careful not to overstretch his back while doing so.

From behind her basket of linens, Mellonin burst into peals of laughter. "Forgive me--" she gasped, "I am sorry. I'm sure you are doing your best. Forgive me."

His surprised expression faded into a resentful frown, and she immediately composed herself, and entered the room, placing her basket on a part of the floor that was still dry.

"Raefindan, you're obviously of noble blood. Your hands are far too soft. Whatever else you may have forgotten, working with your hands isn't one of them; you never learned it in the first place," she said, more gently now. "Look at you... you need something to kneel on; didn't you think of that? And you might want to wrap your hands."

Red shook his head. "Never mind my knees. My back is what really hurts. And I don't think I have that much noble blood, either."

She smiled. "Which began to hurt first, your knees or your back?"

He scowled at her.

"Your knees hurt first, and you tried to favor them. And then your back began to hurt."

He stood up, painfully. "All right. I'm clueless. Tell me."

Now it was her turn to frown. "Clueless?"

"It means-- well, it means that I'm confused, I'm sorry, and I'll listen to what you have to say."

She nodded, and let it go. "Here, no one will miss this." She folded up a blanket and handed it to him. "Wait here." She returned with some strips of cloth. "For your hands." She then picked up her basket of linens. "I must get several rooms ready. I will return as soon as I may." Raefindan began wrapping his hands, and Mellonin slipped out.

As she worked, she puzzled over the new stranger. With his soft hands, he couldn't be anything but royalty. Clearly he was not from Minas Tirith; even if his mind had become addled, and he forgot where he was from, others would have recognized him if he had been from this city. But neither Rohan, nor Dol Amroth, nor Dale had any red-headed royalty that she had ever heard of. All the mannish royalty she knew of was either golden haired or dark.

How did he come by the red hair? Did he have dwarf blood? She shuddered at the implications; but no. It was obviously a foolish idea; he stood straight and tall and rather slender, and was clearly, purely mannish. He just had red hair.

And completely soft hands. "Not even weapon-calluses, " she muttered. "Nothing. What did he do? Where is he from?"

She wondered more and more if Raefindan's mystery might not be somehow connected to her brother's disappearance. If he could appear, could her brother disappear? But if Raefindan couldn't tell her his own story, how would she learn, how would she guess if there was any connection?

littlemanpoet

Raefindan hoped that Mellonin didn't take his facial expressions to heart. He liked to exaggerate his expressions now and then. He would have to show her just how exaggerated he could be some time, when she knew him better. But now he had to ask himself how he knew that about himself, and he again came up with no answer. Royal blood? He thought not. Most assuredly not! More likely he was the court jester, or whatever there was akin to that wherever he had come from. Hmm.... clueless. He knew the word was one that came naturally to his mind. Should I be more careful that my words reflect this place? He felt that he should, but that he would probably let some things slip. He shrugged.

He knelt on the blanket Melonnin had provided, and grabbed the brush around his cloth-wrapped hands. Yes, he could feel the difference. He could put more of his weight into his brushing. And now he grimaced as the pain moved into his shoulders, arms, and wrists. He figured that it was as it should be, for he was finally doing it right. He straightened, looking at the floor as if he had seen a ghost there.

"Well, by George, look at that!"

Raefindan could see how much cleaner the spot was where he had just worked on, compared to the areas he had been slaving over. He rolled his eyes.

"Oh no. Now I'll need to go back over the rest of it. I'm going to die before I get this done!"

He looked over his shoulder, hoping nobody had heard that little bit of melodrama. Melodrama. Now, there as another word he knew, and knew what it meant, but was sure it did not fit in this land and place. What would Melonnin say about it? 'Melo' would be related to 'friend' in the elvish speech here, he considered as he sloshed the brush in the bucket again, and 'drama' had no place in any bit of the elvish speech that he knew of.

"And how, Raefindan, do you know that?" It was as if he knew this place from wherever he had come from. How? He did not know, and wished he did. He grimaced again, stopped to crack his back, and fell to his assignment yet again. And he would have to find out who 'George' was now, too.
mark12_30
Mellonin looked in on Raefindan, and he looked up at her with a weary smile.

"Much better," she said. "Morien will give you dinner after all."

The look of dismay that crossed Raefindan's face drew another giggle from Mellonin, and she entered, and put her empty basket down. "No, I don't think he's really harsh enough to refuse you food. But he wants us to think he is."

"He didn't strike me that way, " Raefindan replied, scrubbing.

"I suppose not," Mellonin mused. "Perhaps I'm thinking of my old master instead. But anyway, you'll be done in time for dinner at least. Have you remembered anything?"

Raefindan looked down at his red hands. "No. Not even who George is. Any news of your brother?"

She shook her head ruefully. They exchanged wry looks, and with a shrug and a sigh he turned back to his scrub-brush. "I'll sleep well tonight, after this. Maybe by morning I'll have remembered... something. Or perhaps at dinner you can ask me questions, and maybe that will jar my memory and I'll remember. Would you like to try that?"

She brightened. "All right. Yes." Feeling a little more hopeful, she went to fetch a broom and sweep the stairs and the hallway.

littlemanpoet
It was late and the commons was almost empty. All of the guests had been served and left for home or to bed. Raefindan sat at table with a bowl of stew in one hand and a dark brown ale in the other. He placed both before him and heaved a sigh. He stretched his back once, and then set to. In moments half of both drink and stew were gone.

Mellonin came by with her own bowl of stew and a cup of clear liquid. "You've gained yourself an appetite!" She sat in the chair next to him.

"How could I not? I haven't worked that hard ever in my life." Raefindan met her eyes as she ate her stew. He could tell she what thought. "Yes, I know I'm soft by the standards of this place, but from where I come-" he lapsed into silence, staring a moment into his cup before returning his gaze to her. "- I think - I'm considered about average."

She swallowed. "How can that be? Who does your labor if all of you are soft as you?"

Raefindan frowned, perplexed. "I don't know!" He dipped his wooden spoon into his bowl of stew again, and lifted it to his mouth. "We don't have wooden spoons at table." He put the spoon in his mouth.

"What then?"

"Metal," he said, chewing.

"Metal? What is that?"

"A kind of ore from the ground. Like iron for swords, only made into spoons."

Mellonin looked at him in disbelief. "Is metal so common where you come from then?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:27 PM   #5
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1420! SeventhStar part 4

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Raefindan looked up as Mellonin savored her drink. "Mettle spoons. It reminds me of Nettle. Nettle spoons... Ouch. That sounds like a very uncomfortable way to eat."

He decided to change the subject slightly. "I remember that I didn't walk very long distances the way people here commonly do. Somehow, traveling was less time consuming. I'm not certain how or why."

"You rode horses." Mellonin shrugged.

"Not normally."

"Mumak?" she said, alarm in her voice.

Raefindan laughed. "No. No Mumakil."

She relaxed. "But where did you ride to?"

"Classes."

She frowned.

And so did he, putting his head into his hands. "I don't understand. I can't remember."

"Eat, " she said. "How about some more soup?"

He sighed. "Please."

She got up to fetch a round of seconds, and he stared at the table.

littlemanpoet

"I'm sorry, Melonnin," Raefindan said. "I thihk it's high time for me to get some sleep. I'm sorry about the soup, but I've lost my appetite. I haven't touched it. Please feel free to put it back in the pot."

Raefindan started heading towards the stairs.

mark12_30

"Raefindan? Weren't you sleeping out in the loft?" Mellonin called after him.

Groggily, he swayed back down the stairs, one hand to his head. "The loft. Of course." He headed out the back kitchen door. "Quieter out there, " she sighed, and retired soon afterwards.

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:36 PM   #6
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SnowedInn part 1

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-14-2003 08:53 PM:

The slender, darkhaired, grey-eyed young man stood in the street, watching a small horde of Rohirric children engaged in a snowball war. Their laaughter was soft and distant as if he was in a dream. He wondered where he was. And he wondered why he was here. It did not seem familiar at all. He decided to ask someone. But first, he thought, he would join in the festivities.

He knelt down in the snow and scooped up two handfuls. Contrasting thoughts of forge-fires and bellows and dire heat made him laugh as he molded two snowballs, mushy and soft. He came into the circle of frolicking children, and tossed one of the soft snowballs near several of them but not hitting any.

"Get him, Hamanullas!" cried one of the children, and another child immediately plastered Mellondu in the nose with a very hard snowball. In moments, Mellondu was the target of every child's aim, and his green tunic became whiter and whiter. He fought back with snowballs that were very soft, and he was careful to always aim at their feet.

Posted by Imladris on 12-14-2003 09:22 PM:

Fellwyne leaped from her window and landed with a muffled plop upon the soft snow. Of course she missed her feet and landed upon her bottom, but it didn't really matter after all.

The ten year old girl rubbed her bare hands briskly and plastered her black, loosely curled hair with snow. Without a parting glance at the house and with a malevolent laugh at her knitted mittens and scarf that were still left neglected in her room she dashed (more like stumbled through the white drifts) through the snow and neared a group of children who played with laughing vigour.

The children threw whistling snowballs through the air. One caught Fellwyne upon the ear. With a disdainful sneer, the girl wiped away the remnants of the ball.

A lone man stood by himself the target of every child. With a shrill shriek, Fellwyne skipped towards him and allied herself with him. He will not stand alone! she thought fiercely as she finely molded a snowball and hurled it into the midst of children. She noticed that he aimed at their feet, well, she would not be kind. Noses were the prime target.

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-14-2003 10:20 PM:

The darkhaired young man looked down at the feisty, blackhaired girl. "Your aim is very good, " he said, wincing as a snowball hit him on the neck. "Thank you for joining me."

"Why are you aiming at their feet?" she challenged him.

"Because I'm the tallest. What's your name?" he said, trying to shake the snow out of his shirt.

"Fellwyne. What's yours?"

"I-- well-- call me Mellon."

"Friend? What kind of a name is that? Ooo! Got him!"

"Nice shot!"

"What's your real name?"

"Everybody calls me Mellon. Sort of."

"You're strange." She threw another snowball. "Missed! I'll get him this time!"

She did. "Impressive, " said Mellon. "I'm glad you decided to be on my side."

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-15-2003 07:36 AM:

More children joined the fray, and soon the fight had four groups. Mellon was glad that the pressure had abated; he was cold and getting colder. Fellwyne continued on as an army of one while Mellon stepped back and shook the snow out from under his tunic.

He slapped his pockets. Good; he did have some coin. He would look for some hot food at an open Inn. He wondered if he had enough to buy a cloak.

Posted by Bêthberry on 12-15-2003 09:23 PM:

The grey-haired woman limped a bit more with winter stiffness, and pulling her little cart was harder in the loose, slippery snow, yet she too was caught up in the infectious spirit brought by the new-fallen snow.

She was too old to play, but she could make sure that everyone had warm, dry gloves, scarves, cloaks and sweaters. She had accumulated a largeish pile of handmedowns and second hand goods and often in the winter she found there was a need among those who had not foreseen cold times or troubles. Today, however, it was the little fingers of children that would benefit from spare mittens in her waggon.

And a strange young man who the children called by the unusual name of Mellon. He seemed to shiver as the play went on, his green tunic inundated with incoming volleys.

"Hey there, fellow. You have the look of a future snow wraith about you, so covered you are now. Would you welcome a spare cloak? I have some old ones here you might wish to try."

Ruthven wrapped her woollen scarf more tightly around her neck and pulled her toque down over her ears. Yet her honest gruff manner was accompanied by a genial look and the fellow warmed to her at once.

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-16-2003 12:28 AM:

Mellon turned to the kind woman.

"Yes, please, Miss Ruthven, and thank you. You are very kind. A cloak would be most welcome." She was already reaching out to him with the heaviest she had.

Relief shattered his defiance against the cold, and she tsk-tsked as she watched shivers convulse his slender frame. He cocoooned the cloak about him and clearly was not quite satisfied, wanting to burrow deeper into it. Ruthven tsk'ed again. "I'll not ask how you came here without a cloak, lad."

"Bless you, madam. And thank you again."

"Mulled wine can be had at the Inn, lad. And tea. And there'll be a fire going." She nodded in the direction of the Inn.

He could rejoin the children after a mug or two. Emdir had distracted the shieldmaidens, he noticed gratefully. He headed for the Inn, promising himself that he would return as soon as he was warm and dry.
Posted by littlemanpoet on 12-16-2003 02:50 AM:

Ædegard tried to open the front door. It did not budge! He pushed hard, and it gave a few inches. Snow spilled into the cottage. Snow! Four feet deep! Maybe it was a drift in front of their place. He pushed again, and had enough room to squeeze through. Walking would not work. It was either shovel it, or tunnel through. A big smile grew on his face. Ædegard loved making tunnels in the snow! The hard part was starting it, because he didn't want Mama to have to change the thresh before the door. So it would have to be throw the snow up and over, and maybe with luck he would give someone a surprise shower! Not likely.

He spent a half hour digging. He found that the snow was soft enough that he could take it from in front of him and plaster it to the walls of his tunnel, strengthening them. It was quite dark after a half hour, and time he dug upward. To his surprise, his head popped through before he had reached waist height.

"Hey look! Over there! It's Ædegard! Hit him!" Next thing, he saw nothing but white, then black and cold. Ouch! He ducked and wiped his face from the snowball. He knew that voice. It was Evrett! Ædeward worked furiously, making a pyramid of snowballs at his feet. Then he took one, and slowly, carefully rose, until his eyes were just over the lip of his makeshift fox hole.


Posted by mark12_30 on 12-16-2003 03:28 AM:

"Something hot, please, ma'am." He shivered as he headed for the fireplace.

"Anything in particul--" she said to his retreating back, and then shrugged. "Soup and toast, " she ordered, and set about making him some hot tea.

"Many thanks, " he said, hanging his cloak near the fire, and sitting as close to it as he could. The shivering did not slow down until Bethberry arrived with his tea. He turned frequently, and then shrugged, removed his drenched tunic and hung that before the fire as well.

The soup and toast arrived, and he set to with a will; his shivering finally stopped, and his shirt began to dry.

"You're new around these parts, " Bethberry said.

"Yes, ma'am, " he replied.

"What part of Gondor are you from?" she asked. She was somewhat dismayed by his blank stare.

"I'm a blacksmith, " he replied hesitantly. "People call me Mellon."

"Sounds like the cold has you in its grip." She refilled his tea. "Would you like more soup?"

He hesitantly nodded, squinting; she wondered at his lapse in manners, until he turned aside and a sneeze roared from him. Another followed. Bethberry called for more soup, and refilled the teakettle.

"Yes, please, mba'amb, " came the belated, stuffed-up mumble. He inched still closer to the fire. The children were expecting his promised return, he reflected; best not to get too comfortable here. Perhaps after some more soup...

He turned his other side towards the fire, and drank some more tea.



Posted by mark12_30 on 12-16-2003 01:06 PM:

It only took a half an hour for the cloak to dry, and another fifteen minutes for the tunic. He was warm after three bowls of soup and forgotten quantities of tea. And the children were waiting.

He stood, and brought a generous portion of his coin to the Innkeeper. . "Thag you, bi lady, for takig such good care ob be. "

"This is more than the food was worth, " she replied, frowning.

"I mbay be back, I exbect," he said.

"You're not going back out into the snow?" she said. "Have you remembered where you are from?"

"Goddor. I'm a blacksbith," he replied cheerfully, wrapping himself against the cold. At least, thought the Innkeeper, he was belting his cloak tightly against his body; he wasn't that addled.

"Well, here. Since you're coming back, have a scarf." She handed him a tattered scarf someone had forgotten, and that she had been holding for Miss Ruthven.

"Oh, thag you, bi lady. Thag you very buch."

Scarved and cloaked and sneezing, he happily returned into the glistening whiteness outside. Little had changed. Children abounded; the tall Rohirric lad was there too. He walked towards the melee.

"Hey! Watch where you're going! You wrecked my fortress!"

"I'b bery sorry, " Mellon replied. Immediately he set about patching the broken walls, while the lad fought against his numerous attackers.

"You are bery well defedded, champiodd, " Mellon marveled at the tunnel and the walls. "What is your dabe?"

"Eh? What's that?"

"What is your ndabe? Mbide is Mbellodd."

"Oh. I'm Ædegard. Gah!" he dodged an incoming snowball, and it hit Mellon instead, who was immediately grateful for the scarf.

"Would you like sombe mbore allies?"

"Eh? Sure, ah, Mr. Bellod."

Mellon stood and cried aloud. "To mbe, shieldmbaidedds of Rohadd! To mbe! For Rohadd add for Goddor!"

Several shrill voices cried in response. But the young boys pelted him, and he sat back down in the fortress, appreciative of its solidity. "This is abazig, " he muttered. "What did you mbodel id after, Helmb's Deeb?"



Posted by mark12_30 on 12-18-2003 01:58 PM:

In quick succession, six more sneezes erupted from Mellon. He was cold and wet again. The battle had raged on for quite some time. Ædegard had proven a capable leader, and the shieldmaidens had proven themselves doughty in battle.

It was time for him to prove that he had the wits to come in out of the cold. How his sister would have laughed, he thought, as he excused himself from the children; they hardly noticed, having rallied behind Ædegard. Ædegard nodded, and said, "Before you get really badly sick, hmm?"

With a sinking feeling that it was a bit late to prevent that, Mellon headed back to the Inn.

As he walked through the door, the innkeeper tsked at him, sounding just like Miss Ruthven had. "I've kept the teakettle hot. I assume you'd like some more soup?"

He nodded, and then regretted it, putting a hand to his head.

"Don't dally with that soup," the innkeeper admonished the staff, and muttered,
"Young fool. Why do teenage males always think they are immortal and invinceable?"

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:40 PM   #7
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Snowed Inn part 2

Posted by littlemanpoet on 12-22-2003 04:38 PM:

Ædegard dubbed one of the shieldmaidens as the new leader with a pile of snow on her head, and fled before he could be dubbed back again, and made for the inn.

He was cold and wet and needed something hot, and could stand to be dry. He could go home, but a good spiked hot cider seemed more to his liking. The others thought him a lad of perhaps fourteen years or a little less, perhaps, which was fine in the middle of a snow fight. That he still lived at home was his business, and that the fuzz on his face was still quite soft, the same. He was old enough for a stiff one.

He walked past a snow fort three children were building and defending against Felly and others, and somehow managed to escape their notice. He entered the inn and noticed the parents of the kids building the fort, and more of their children. And there was Mellon.

Ædegard waved to Mellon and went up to the barkeep, and orderd a hot spiked cider, and went to sit at Mellon's table.

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-22-2003 06:17 PM:

Mellon peered into Ædegard's mug, and raised an eyebrow, and then leaned forward and gave a sniff. "The Inkeeper sold you that? You're older than you look."

Ædegard took a pull at his mug. "You're not from around here."

"True enough. I'm a blacksmith from Gondor, if you must know, " he said hoping Ædegard would be satisfied with that.

"You said that already. But you look lost."

"Well, " said Mellon, "I suppose I am rather confused."

Ædegard waited.

"I can't remember much, " Mellon said.

Ædegard raised an eyebrow.

"Well, I-- I can't remember anything. Except that I'm a blacksmith, and that I lived in the city."

"Minas Tirith?"

Mellon blinked. "Is-- is that its name?"

"Osgiliath?"

"I-- that sounds familiar, but--"

Ædegard sat back and contemplated Mellon. "It's a good thing you're among friendly folk, " he said. "The elders can send word to Gondor next time someone rides that way. Somebody must be looking for you."

"I suppose that would be wise. But, Ædegard, I'm not sure I want to go back to-- to Gondor. At least, not where I was from. But I don't know why. Do you know a place called Edhellond?"

Ædegard's eyes narrowed. A fugitive? he wondered. "No, I've never heard of Edhellond; where is it? What is it?"

Mellon shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. But I think it might be to the south or to the west; somewhere near the sea. I don't know why."



Posted by Bêthberry on 12-26-2003 05:55 PM:

A voice, hitherto unheard in the game, rang out, strong and clear.

Cold be hand and heart and boneand cold be snow upon the stone.Yet vanish now in bright sunsong:Let orcs melted beand balrogs quenched in that deluge.Thus evil be its own defeat. And now we gamers have a treat.

It was Bethberry, singing and laughing as nonsensically as ever did old Tom. When she was finished, she bent low over Ruthven's cart and picked up a volley of snowballs, releasing them faster than Fatty Bolger could run. And her aim was true.

Then Ruthven gasped in surprise as some of the children tumbled into the wall of their snow fort, tumbling it down and all over the old woman, who fell herself into the snow. She rolled over and over, then spread her arms in the snow, making snow Ainur. It was a theme which unfolded to reveal more, as the children joined in the harmony and created their own melodies.

For her part, Bethberry chuckled watching the old woman, who she had never seen look more spry.

"You will be wanting something to warm you now for sure," she said to her friend, offering a hand to lift her up.

"Mellon, Ædegard, children, everyone, come. There's eggnog and mince tarts, hot cider and chocolate, sweet, exotic oranges, gingerbread cookies and shortbread, waiting for all in the Horse. Warm your bodies a bit and then return to the play, for the snow is soft and light and will last for many a day."

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-28-2003 12:50 PM:

Mellon hefted an orange, and juggled it in his hand; then he carefully sniffed it several times, and closed his eyes.

Ædegard watched him, as Mellon seemed to drift far, far away, leaning his forehead against the fruit.

"What is it?" said Ædegard.

Mellon started out of his reverie. "They name it orange. I remember how it tastes. Betimes Edhellond sent us crates of them, upriver, as a gift."

"At Minas Tirith?"

"Nay, in Lorien. One morning I brought one to Nimrodel." His voice faded to a whisper.

"What?"

"She laughed, and thanked me with her usual sweetness... far sweeter than this, " he mused, glancing at the orange. "And then I sang for her, and she danced by the stream, and then we shared it."

"So Nimrodel is a girl, not a stream?" puzzled Ædegard. "I thought it was a tributary to the Celebrant which flows to the Anduin. And I thought you said you came from Gondor, not Lorien."

Glassy-eyed and breathing hard, Mellon rose to his feet, took a few steps, and gazed at Ædegard. "I'm not.... I am not from Gondor."

"You're not seventeen, either. And it would also seem you're quite a liar," said Ædegard. His newfound friend was rapidly losing appeal.

"Wait, Ædegard, " said the Innkeeper, who had overheard. Ædegard sat back with one raised eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest.

"Sit, Mellon," Bethberry said.

Still breathing hard, and still glassy-eyed, Mellon said, "Lady, I am glad to befriend you, but I need not sit."

"You said 'Mellon' was a nickname. It will do for now. Please, sit down."

Standing straight and tall, he locked eyes with her for several moments. Slowly he turned, looked back at the chair Bethberry was gesturing towards, walked with rigid back and square shoulders to it, lowered himself into the chair, and met Bethberry's eyes.

She smiled reassuringly at him. "You said you sang for Nimrodel. How old are you?"

His eyes grew cold, one eyebrow went up, and his voice hardened. "Fifty centuries. Mortal, why do you mock me?"

She reached forward and laid her hand on his brow. "Fever." Ignoring the flash of anger in his eyes, she called for water. "Ædegard, he is not lying, he is delirious. Do not doubt your friend so."

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-29-2003 02:19 PM:

Felly and Eruvalde both approached with pitchers of water. "Mellon, what's wrong? Don't you feel well?"

Mellon, still straight and tall in the chair, turned slowly towards them, and his face softened. He smiled. "Hello, children. I welcome you and I thank you." Slightly bowing his head, he accepted each pitcher in turn, setting them each on the table. Bethberry paused, and watched him interact with the children.

"Mellon, don't you feel well?" said Felly, and drew close. Mellon stiffened again, and they studied each other.

Ædegard snorted. "He is not himself, to say the least," he warned the children. "Be careful."

The icy glare which Mellon turned on Ædegard made Bethberry more uneasy still, but when Mellon turned back to the children, his smile was warm and his voice was soft. "Such kindness at an early age bodes well, both for you and the world of men. I am pleased, and I thank you and your fathers for your gracious welcome."

Bethberry shot Ædegard a warning glare, and then took a full glass of water and stood before Mellon.

"Please, My Lord, of your courtesy I ask you to drink." Bowing her head, she offered him the water.

He nodded to her without a touch of disdain, took the glass and drank. "I give you thanks, Madam."

"My Lord, " she continued, "would it not please you to rest? Our furnishings are humble, but the rooms are quiet and you should sleep well."

"My weariness does indeed burden me. Madam, I will rest." With a nod, he drained the glass, set it on the table, rose, and waited for Bethberry to lead the way.

Ædegard shook his head in disbelief, Felly's eyes went wide, and Eruvalde reached towards Mellon with deep concern. "Don't you feel well, Mellon?"

"Little friend, " Mellon replied, with a gentle laugh. "I do feel surprisingly weak. But do you not know my name, little one? And yet, since you have so adamantly claimed my friendship--" his eyes sparkled, and he nodded at Felly too-- "I release you from the use of my title. You may call me Amroth. My friends you shall be, and remain."

Ædegard snorted again, and Bethberry turned fiercely on him. "You will treat the Lord of Lorien with honor and respect, " she hissed through chenched teeth. His jaw dropped. Bethberry turned back to Mellon and bowed. Motioning Felly and Eruvalde to take up the pitchers and the glass, she led the way. The feverish young blacksmith from Gondor followed, tall, regal, silent and serene. Felly and Eruvalde brought up the rear carrying their pitchers of water. They went up the stairs.

Ædegard sat back, waves of indignation, disbelief, and laughter washing across his features. He did not leave, but sat watching for Bethberry's return.

Posted by Imladris on 12-29-2003 07:42 PM:

First it was Mellon, the elvish word for friend, and now he was Amroth, an elven king of old. "Do you miss your lovely lady?" Felly asked as she pattered in Mellon's wake, the pitcher of water clenched in her little hands.

He turned, startled, and saw the little girl following; and then he smiled, but replied gravely: "Indeed, Little One, I do miss my lady Nimrodel."

Despite the smile sorrow haunted his eyes, yet nobility there was also, a mien that quite impressed Felly. Whoever would have thought that a blacksmith could look like an elf-lord of Lorien? Yet as the girl stared at him in awe, a sudden change came across his face: bitterness cast his shadow.

"Poor Nimrodel," Felly added, trying to remember the elven maid. "Her voice was like falling silver, a star was bound upon her brows," Felly's voice faltered and she racked her brain. "A light was on her hair," she whispered, "and her shoes were silver grey. Into the mountains she had strayed, and where now she wanders none can tell, for lost of yore was Nimrodel." Fellwyne's voice sank as she stopped. It was all she remembered, besides the fact that Amroth had leaped from the helm of the grey ship into the sea. She closed her eyes, felt the salt spray on her lips, the tug of the wind upon her hair. She was no longer a little girl of Rohan, but an elf upon the grey ships across the sea, watching the grief of Amroth, Lord of Lorien, from afar.

He looked at Fellwyne's sadness, and nodded. "I never should have left her, Little One. And now she is lost. I must find her and I will search ceaselessly until I do."

Fellwyne fell silent as snatches of a distant song whispered to her softly:

From helm to sea they saw him leap,
As arrow from the string,
And dive into water deep,
As mew upon the wing.

Her eyes widening in horror, she started, and dropped the pitcher that shattered before her very feet. She looked from the young man to the shards and back again, and her little face went pale.

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:41 PM   #8
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Posted by mark12_30 on 12-29-2003 08:14 PM:

Bethberry reached quickly for Mellon's hand and said soothingly, "Come, my Lord, and rest. " Hearing the pitcher crash, others came to sweep up its shards; Felly looked down at them, and then at the blacksmith as he turned and continued up the stairs.

She shook her head. He was darkhaired and young; he had the rough hands of a blacksmith. But he had changed.

She walked around the shattered pitcher, and followed them up the steps.

Ædegard stepped forward, his eyes ginting and cold, and spoke. His words were half inquiry, half challenge. "Mellon? Are you all right? Was it the eggnog?"

Posted by mark12_30 on 12-29-2003 08:48 PM:

The blacksmith paused and turned, and glanced back at Bethberry. "Is it the custom of your town to address all elves as 'Friend'? I did not drink the eggnog. Nor is that what has weakened my body, but long travel from far to the south. I have come many miles with little rest."

"From the south, my Lord?" said Bethberry. "Not from Lorien?"

"I had departed Lorien, and went south to Edhellond to secure westward passage aboard a ship. My Lady Nimrodel was to journey south when the ship was ready. But alas, she came not. The ship was tossed seaward by a storm, and I swam from it. It seems strange to me that I do not remember finally making the shore, nor do I remember much of the journey here. But that matters little. I must journey to Lorien and find her, or news of where else I must find her."

Thoronmir's eyes grew wider and wider, but a sign from Bethberry silenced his incredulous queries. "Oh. Right. I see," was what he said instead.

Bethberry, having apparently decided enough was enough, regained Mellon's attention and led him upstairs. She showed him a room, and he surveyed it with a nod of approval, and a very slight bow of thanks. Without any indication of offering her any money or form of payment he turned towards the desk and chair, and Bethberry knew she had been dismissed.

He heard her leave, and breathed a soft sigh of relief. But the children were still there. Felly and Eruvalde waited quietly, gazing up at him with round eyes.

The little handmaidens would have pleased Nimrodel, he thought, with their sweet, gentle ways so like hers. Then he smiled, sensing that they could both be wild and wilful as a storm. Like Nimrodel again.

He took another moment, closing his eyes, thinking of Nimrodel, casting his mind northward to the stream she had loved so much; he could not feel her presence. Lorien was strangely quiet as well. He searched carefully but met no minds that he knew. Perhaps the innkeeper was right; perhaps he was more weary and in need of rest than he understood.



Posted by littlemanpoet on 12-29-2003 09:33 PM:

When Bëthberry returned from above, Ædegard looked up at her. "You call me his friend? I barely know him."

"He needs a friend."

Ædegard regarded Bëthberry ruefully. "I take your meaning, innkeeper. I'll stay a while."

Bëthberry smiled. "Heed his words, Ædegard. More is afoot here than simple fever, I deem."

Ædegard shook his head. "You mean that he is also Amroth? He is no elf, this Mellon, just a sick young man in a strange fever."

"No," Bëthberry answered, "there is a doom playing out in this. I feel it. Be his friend, Ædegard. He will need a sturdy friend where he is going."

Ædegard frowned. "Where he is going? I cannot leave my father all the wheelwrighting. He is lame."

"You are not the only wheelwright in Edoras, Ædegard."

He glowered at her. "I could use another spiked cider, madam innkeeper. I've some brooding to do."

Posted by Imladris on 12-30-2003 07:11 PM:

A waif of a smile played about Fellwyne’s lips as she watched the young blacksmith of Gondor, the one who fancied himself to be Amroth. She mused: what would an elvin king drink? Wine, perhaps? What was the closest thing to wine? Cider, naturally. With a flounce of her flaxen curls, she dashed off to the kitchen and begged the cook for a goblet of cider. The little girl received it only in a common wooden mug, but if Mellon could think himself a king, then he could imagine this simple cup to be a golden chalice.

There he was: lofty upon his simple throne of wood. Erect he sat: straight and tall, not suffering himself into the ease of a common laymen, nor the slouch of a wearied farmer. She heard his rebuke to the man who dared to Amroth a friend, and Felly could feel her cheeks grow warm with pride as she remembered the privilege he had granted her.

Dropping to one knee before him, she lifted the cider to him and said, “Milord -- Amroth, take this drink: it might aid in refreshing you from the journey south.” Kissing his hand, she rose to her feet and stood a little to his side, her hands clasped loosely behind her back.

“Tell me, Little One,” the blacksmith said, “how do you know of Nimrodel?”

“Forever she lives in song,” Felly replied softly. It was impossible to be noisy or boisterous in his presence, for his kingly aura forbade it: Fellwyne had felt it when the pitcher had crashed to the floor. “One day, a wanderer from distant lands came to us for shelter. In return he would sing for us and he sang to me the song of Nimrodel. I have never forgotten it.”

She glanced at the lord before her, and she breathed sharply. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mellon could always be like this? It was like a game in a way: Mellon was Amroth, lord of Lorien, and Fellwyne was like his handmaiden for a time, she thought. But it was better than a game, for he thought truly was Lord Amroth. Yet it would indeed be a cruel fate for Mellon; ever searching for his elven love who was only a mere phantom.



Posted by mark12_30 on 12-30-2003 08:09 PM:

Looking into Fellwyne's eyes, he found more comfort and acceptance than he could remember finding anywhere in... in a long time. His brow furrowed a little. All the rest of his memories were elven-clear, going back in time for five thousand years. Why couldn't he remember anything between his desperate swim to shore, and leaving the seven-tiered Gondorian city of Minas Tirith? The entire journey was hidden from him, as if by shadow that he could not penetrate. It was most disconcerting. But not as disconcerting as being unable to find Nimrodel.

A kiss on his hand startled him out of his thoughts. He looked into the cup he now held, and saw cider. With a smile, he raised the crude wooden mug to his lips, and drank it, savoring the friendship of the child as much as the drink.

They spoke of Nimrodel together; it pleased and satisfied Amroth that someone had been blessed enough by her beauty to sing of it even in the lands of men.

Eruvalde stood aside, listening, and Amroth smiled at her, and then at Fellwyne. "My little friends, leave me to my rest. I must regain my strength before I journey north. But come again ere I depart. You are a comfort to me, and a respite from grief."

The girls shared a delighted smile. "We will, " said Fellwyne. The girls departed, and he rose and shut the door behind them.

Only now that he was alone would he succumb to the exhaustion of his body. He leaned his forehead against the door, fighting the aching weakness with a sense of disbelief. Never before had he felt his body shudder from simple weariness, and he blamed it on the journey from Edhellond to Minas Tirith that he could not remember. He was grateful the Innkeeper had offered him a place to rest.

He turned the bedclothes back, and gladly removed the coarse Gondorian clothing and the heavy, awkward boots. The mannish clothes had served him adequately during his journey. He had wished more than once for the outer royal garb he had shed when the long swim became wearying. But no matter. Lothlorien would clothe him soon enough.

He cast his mind northward one more time, searching all along the banks of her stream. Where was she? Other strange minds touched his, a guard and a few border patrols, and he sensed surprise in some of them. He did not linger with them. Thrusting all else aside, he chose to sleep. His dreams were many and his rest was deep.



Posted by mark12_30 on 01-04-2004 07:53 AM: Between dreams, he rolled over and sat up for a moment. He still felt weak, but he had heard a horse enter the courtyard of the Inn. He reached out with his mind, but did not find anyone he knew.

The common room was busy with children happily drinking eggnog. There were shieldmaidens here and there. Hamanullas and Fellwyne and Eruvalde...

He frowned. He didn't remember ever being introduced to the small mannish girls. And why did he think of them as shieldmaidens? They were mere children. He raised one hand and rubbed his temple. He was weary still, and strangely warm in the chilly room.

Baranin's voice rang out in lilting laughter, and Ædegard was telling a funny story, and Silwen and Felly were laughing. Bethberry was giving orders that the horses' child-rider be taken care of.

Rest. Why could he not simply rest in his memories, as he always had? But his body was still very weak. He hesitantly lay back down, rolled over and was soon asleep. But now the voices form the common room wove themselves echoing in and out of his dreams.Posted by littlemanpoet on 01-28-2004 12:48 AM: Ædegard noticed the westering sun outside, as well as the new snow laden clouds descending out of the north, racing toward the sun. He drained his drink and excused himself from the table.

He went to the bar and told Bethberry help, "I must be off home now. I ask that you send word when Mellon - or Amroth, if you like - wakens and moves about again. I would speak with him again."

With that, Ædegard put on hat and overcoat and bracing himself against the rising wind, left the Snowed Inn and tramped on home to make sure his parents were well.

Posted by mark12_30 on 02-01-2004 09:16 PM:

Mellon-Amroth slipped deep into dreams, and stayed there. Sometimes he struggled, fevered and frightened; and other times he lay serene and still, a ghost of a smile playing about his face. The days slipped by in dream after dream.

Bethberry often intended sending word to Gondor, but whenever a messenger was headed east, they left without her message. Sometimes she was silenced by a sense of foreboding; sometimes dreams of her own silenced her; sometimes trivial or everyday circumstances made the message falter.

Aside from Bethberry, Ædegard and the children, most people forgot the dreamer was there.

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:44 PM   #9
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Seventh Star part 5

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Mellonin rolled over and sat up, squinting at the dust in the sunbeams, and stretched, and rubbed her eyes. She dressed quickly, hoping that the grey serving staff had the teakettle on. Snatching up her pen and parchments, she rolled them together, and then placed the newly mixed bottle of ink (made from the blackest soot she could find in all the Seventh Star kitchen) into her apron pocket. Then she paused. What if the cork wasn't tight? She removed it, and carried it carefully upright down the stairs.

No one had arrived yet, but the grey serving staff did indeed have the teakettle hot. She thanked them, and brewed some, and sat down to study her runes. When she finished the tea, she stood, and walked slowly around the Common Room, rune by rune sounding out the signs. When Morien came downstairs she was engrossed in the label of a bottle of wine. He cleared his throat, and she guiltily put the bottle away.

"Well? What did it say?"

She blushed, picked the bottle back up, and stuttered, "The finest shimmering harvest from Dor-En-Ernil on the bay of Belfalas."

He snorted. "Well, it's good, and good enough, but I won't say I've never had better. Good morning, lass," he said, nodding at the waiter in grey, who placed a steaming plate of breakfast before him. Her set to with a will.

littlemanpoet

Raefindan walked into the commons, rubbing his forehead as if trying to remove cobwebs of sleep from his mind. He made his way to a table on legs that did not wish to work right and rested an elbow on the table and used his hand to prop up his head.

"Good morning! Are you well?" It was Melonnin.

"I'm not sure. Bad dream."

"Oh. I'm sorry. Are you hungry?"

Raefindan nodded. He looked around; it seemed quiet. "If you have a moment...?"

"I think I can spare a little time. I'll be back with some food and tea."

She soon returned. He was hungry, and ate a few bites and sipped his tea before he began.

"I was someone else, a prince of some seaside fortress city. I was walking in the woods nearby, and saw an Elven woman who was lost. I took her to safety and I learned her tale from her. She - she was beautiful! I - I -" Raefindan broke off, a weight of sorrow pulling at the edges of his mouth. He face Melonnin, his eyes filling. "I fell in love with her." He looked away and stared at his bowl of porridge. "She did not reject me, so I don't know why I feel as if she-" he shook his head. "-died." He wiped at his eye. "I do not know who she was, but it felt as if what I dreamed was real. I dreamed someone else's life, I think." He turned to Melonnin. "Have I gone daft or worse?"

littlemanpoet

Mellonin said, "Maybe it is your past you dream of?"

Raefindan nodded. "Maybe. Or yes and no. I don't think that I lived near water where I come from. And the two Elven women, I had never seen before. But that she died - or someone died - maybe that did happen." He allowed a rueful smile. "George or no George."

mark12_30

Mellonin studied Raefindan. "You do not seem to me like one who has gone... daft, " she said slowly. "You seem sad, but not moonstruck."

"Moonstruck..." He shook his head, and ran a hand through his fiery hair. In moments, his eyes glazed.

Mellonin glanced at his bowl of porridge, knowing that the workday would begin sooner than Raefindan wanted it to.

"Raefindan?"

He frowned, wishing she had left him in his reverie.

"A busy day will help you to forget your bad dream."

"It wasn't all bad, " he replied.

There was something about this that reminded her of Mellondu, if only she could remember what. Now it was her turn to frown.

"You two think too much, " said Morien. They both jumped; perhaps he was right...

"Red, you can scrub the empty room across the hall from where you were yesterday. And Mel, didn't you notice we've had breakfast arrivals?" He returned to the bar and began preparing pots of mulled cider.

Raefindan shoveled porridge into his mouth, grimacing with the effort it took to swallow, but knowing he would rue it later if he left any now.

Mellonin touched his sleeve. "I will visit when I may, " she said, and swept toward the breakfast customers, smiling and chatting. Raefindan finished his porridge, and with a last shudder brought the bowl to the kitchen and climbed the stairs gritting his teeth.

mark12_30

She sat at the bar for a moment, just a moment, and rested her forehead on her hands. The dizziness persisted. Folding her arms, she laid her head on them and closed her eyes. Her head hurt and she suddenly regretted her breakfast.

A customer called, and with a glance at Mellonin, Morien tended to the customer himself. Mellonin was left sitting alone at the bar.

To the north, snowflakes eddied and swirled, smoothing the details of the land. The golden leaves of Lorien hung heavily under its weight. The leaves stirred in the wind, but the wet snow clung and did not fall. Amroth paced the forest, searching, hunting, feeling that she was always just over the next hill or around the next bend. Desolation crept in with the wet and cold; he shrugged it off, pressing deeper into the forest.

In the south, the grey sea surged and sighed. The air was warm; the breeze whispered of peace, of calm, of hope that had been. Memories of the sun were sweet and gentle, but the sun was hidden, and the northern sky was dark. Imrazor searched the woods, calling, calling. No one answered. Ever and anon, he looked over his shoulder to the sea; if she had taken that road, she was lost to him forever. He turned back to the woods. Where was she? He crested another rise, and called again. His words were lost in the fog.

In the north, a storm rumbled, whipped by a wild wind. All but imprisoned by glistening ice, a small cascade of water yet sang as it tumbled over cold stone. Liting, lyrical, the stream sang on and on, lost in the tearing wind and rumbing thunder. Few heard the song, and those that did heard only the echoes of an old melody, and heeded only the memories of that which was past. No one heeded the despair that was present.

Fog. Ice. Darkness. Despair, echoes, silence. Mellondu's breath came in short gasps. He gazed into a stream, and golden and brown locks of hair swirled in the water. At the seaside, women's voices echoed in his ears, whispering, singing, pleading. He searched for them, calling, running. There were no answers. He was drenched with sweat. He ran on. Or was he swimming? He could not breathe. He cried out; was it fog, or darkness, or water, or storm that took away the sound of his cry? Or had he made no sound at all?

"Are you all right, Mel? Mellonin?"

With a start, she woke, and looked around, wildeyed. "Mellondu?" she whispered.

"You look pale, lass," Morien growled. Then he leaned closer, whispering. "Don't you go getting sick here in the common room in front of all these customers."

"My brother, " she whimpered, and lurched to her feet. Her wide eyes strayed to the staircase. "Raefindan--" Then she swayed and clutched at the chair with one hand and at her stomach with the other.

Customer's heads were beginning to turn. Morien gestured at a few of the staff; one of them stepped to the bar while Morien took Mellonin's elbow and firmly escorted her out of the common room.

mark12_30

Morien escorted Mellonin to the doorway of her room. She followed his gesture and went to the bed and sat down. Morien kept going down the hallway, to the linen closet where he fetched several folded blankets. Returning to Mellonin's room he looked in. Mellonin was already curled up under her blankets. He leaned into the room, and draped the folded blankets across the headboard.

He turned, closing the door behind him, and went to find Raefindan, who with hardened eyes and set jaw was scrubbing another floor.

"Mellonin looks awfully pale. Get her a bucket. Make sure her floor stays clean, and try and get her some fresh air without giving her a chill."

Raefindan nodded, wondering why Mellonin was sick, but he got up, and found a bucket and brought it to her room. He knocked hesitantly. No answer. He knocked harder and was answered with a muffled "Go away..."

"I was told to bring you a bucket, Miss Cheerful," he retorted.

"Leave it," came the muffled answer.

He opened the door, and slid the bucket along the floor towards the bed. She pulled the covers up over her head and disappeared completely.

For the next three days, very little was seen of Mellonin. She complained of fever, aches, pains, strange dreams, and the smallest of noises sounding like thunder. Although the grey-clad wait-staff met her needs, Raefindan checked on her every day and asked how she was feeling.

She was hardly sociable, or even civil. Raefindan came to dread his visits as a chore. But he persevered.

littlemanpoet

Over three days, Raefindan adjusted to life at the inn. Morien pressed him to step in for Melonnin in the commons, which he enjoyed much more than scrubbing floors.

The only thing he did not enjoy were his dreams. They all followed the same theme. He was glad they did not come every night. He had found his dreams persuasive and bothersome enough to ask Morien if he knew anything about people named Amroth, Nimrodel, Imrazor, and especiallly Mithrellas. For the people in his dreams spoke these names.

Morien told him of the legend of Amroth and Nimrodel, in which Imrazor and Mithrellas played a role. It all made sense, except for one thing: why was he dreaming this legend? It boggled his mind.

The two most bothersome things about his dreams were that he was Imrazor, and that he was falling in love with Mithrellas, who, for him, was somehow more than the Mithrellas of legend, but how he could not put into clear thought. It was not exactly as if she herself one thing in his dreams and another in legend. Rather, in his dreams, his response as Imrazor was out of keeping with the legend, as if he foresaw her death, or remembered it somehow.

He checked in on Melonnin several times a day, hoping she would be better. He hoped that she would be able to tell him more than Morien could. He didn't know why that might be so, but so it was.

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Old 03-01-2004, 01:45 PM   #10
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Seventh Star, part 6

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She rolled over with a groan, and sat up, peering into the shaft of sunlight that Raefindan had just let into the room. "Must you? Oh, it's you."

"Good morning to you, too."

She sniffed, and then mumbled "Thank you."

"How about some fresh air?"

"Please."

He stepped out and returned a moment later. She had risen and hastily donned a tunic and a cloak. "Oh, dear, I certainly need a bath. No, don't get too close."

He snorted. "Why do you think I wanted to open a window? I have questions to ask you. You can answer them through the washroom door if you like, but I need answers."

"That would hardly be modest. But I can bathe in the stables."

"That's modest?"

"If I hang enough horse-blankets and you promise to be honorable, yes."

"You're incorrigible."

"In-- Incorr--" They turned towards the back stair and headed down for the stables.

"Incorrigible means that you are terribly annoying and stubborn! Now tell me about Nimrodel. And Amroth. And--"

She gasped, eyes wild with hope, and Raefindan turned a hard stare on her.

"Mellondu! You have dreamed about Mellondu!"

"What? Your brother? No, I haven't--"

"Yes you have!" she accused, siezing his arm. "Tell me! Hide nothing from me!"

littlemanpoet

He wrinkled his nose. "I will, but first you need to get cleaned up. And you need to tell me about your dreams, too. I insist, you first. Be a dear."

"Be a deer? But I'm a human. What do you mean, be a deer?"

Raefindan shook his head. "Not deer as in animal, but dear as in a kindly, caring - oh, never mind! Do you wish for me to wait outside, or do we go to the stables?"

mark12_30

Mellonin considered Raefindan, and with a sigh, regained her composure. "For three days I have dreamt of my brother. Mingled with my dreams of him, have been dreams of Nimrodel and Amroth. They are woven together, somehow, like one of the banners in the Great Hall. I do not understand it."

She could go back to the Inn, she reasoned, or she could wash here on the stone floor; they had arrived at the stables. It was early enough that there weren't many about, and she wanted the fresh air anyway; she chose a place to hang four blankets for privacy. Raefindan lent a hand.

"The dreams of Amroth are restless, full of searching. The dreams of Nimrodel are drenched in despair. And the dreams of Mellondu are dark, and confusing, and... sad."

She filled a bucket of water at the well, and brought it to the stone floor, and chose the cleanest rag available.

Raefindan blinked. "Don't you want some hot water?"

She laughed, a little, as she went within the curtains. "Of course I do. But there isn't a fireplace out here, and I don't have all day... Ugh."

He turned his back to the curtains, and stood guard as she scrubbed. She talked on, rambling for quite a while about fog and snow and forests and darkness and locks of hair swirling in the water, and Raefindan rubbed his forehead as he struggled to follow it all.

"What I don't understand, " she finished petulantly, "is what all these dreams about Nimrodel and Amroth have to do with my brother. They lived a thousand years ago. Amroth is dead. They're both dead. What does that mean? That my brother is dead too?" She bit back the temptation to cry that had been eating away at her for three days now. "I've never been to Rohan, or to Lothlorien, or even to Belfalas or -- well, I have't been down the river beyond where it bends around south of the city. But in my dreams, I think that is where I have been. I am not sure. I have seen rolling plains filled with horses, and I have seen golden trees in the snow, and I have seen.... I think in my dreams I have seen the sea." She fought for composure again. "But I don't understand in all of this where Mellondu is. If you have been dreaming of Amroth and Nimrodel, then you must understand where he is. That must be why you came here. Tell me, do you not know where he is?"

Raefindan shook his head. "Mellonin, I am sorry. No, I don't know where he is. My dreams ..." he shook his head. "No, I haven't dreamt about your brother. My dreams have been very different. What do your dreams tell you about a man named Imrazor?"

"Imrazor?"

"Or Mithrellas."

"Isn't that a woman's name?"

"Yes, of course."

"You said what do I know about a man named Imrazor--"

"I take it you don't know about either of them."

"No. What do you know about them? ...I'm almost out of water. I need anther bucket, please."

He looked around, found another bucket, and went to the well, and came back. Her teeth were chattering.

"Mellonin, you've been sick, and here you are taking a cold sponge-bath in a stable in early winter. I hope you don’t get worse."

"A little water never hurt anyone, " she replied through still-chattering teeth. "I'm almost done."

"I still don't have any answers, and it'll be time to go to work soon. Morien knew more about Mithrellas then you do, " Raefindan replied.

"Well I'm sorry, " she snapped. "You haven't been very helpful about my brother, either."

"Hey, take it easy, " Raefindan said.

"I haven't taken anything!"

He put one hand to his head. "Don't be upset. What is the matter with you? You weren't like this before!"

Dripping, but dressed and cloaked and fully modest, she reappeared and began taking down the blankets. He helped her fold them.

"I don't mean to be rude. I am worried about my brother; I have done so little to find him. I have enjoyed working here at the Inn, and he is out there somewhere, lost, maybe hurt. Maybe dying for all I know. I must find him!"

Raefindan nodded, but said nothing. They put the buckets and blankets back where they belonged, and headed back to the inn for a hot breakfast and a day's work.

The morning's porridge held little appeal, but it was hot, and neither complained. Between mouthfulls, Raefindan said, "There's something else I don't understand."

"Mmmm?"

"Why do you think that taking a sponge bath out in the stables was more modest than taking a proper bath in the Inn?"

"What's a sponge?"

He sighed, and wearily stirred his porridge. She dropped the question.

"Sorry. In a proper Inn, it would hardly have been mannerly for a man to stand outside the door while I shouted about my dreams from the bath, would it? But in a stable yard, early in the morning, no one will care."

"Stables have ears too, " Raefindan said wryly. The barn had not been as empty as Mellonin had supposed, and he had been glad that he had stood guard for her. “Maybe this stable is different than the one you were used to, “ he replied. “Can we meet for lunch too? Maybe then we can get to the bottom of some of these dreams."

Mellonin agreed. They finished their porridge, and got to work.

littlemanpoet

Lunch time could not come soon enough for Raefindan. Melonnin's company was the only reprieve he had from the drudgery, which he was certain he was not used to, what ever iot was he had done wherever he had been before he lost his memory.

And then there were the dead ends of his own thoughts. On one hand there were the dreams of Imrazor and Mithrellas. On the other was his failed memory. His throat caught whenever he thougth of Mithrellas; there was a connection between his dream and his past, and he could not piece it together. Why can't I remember anything before I showed up here?

It was exasperating. Which is a word nobody around here uses. That was another thing. He had many words in his head that Mellonin and the others simply did not comprehend, always taking them at the face value meaning, which led to all kinds of strange misunderstandings. What's a sponge? He laughed to himself as he rubbed the same spot on the floor for what seemed the hundredth time.

At last it was time for lunch, and the guests had been served. Raefindan knew to wait for his lunch until after Mellonin had served all the guests. They sat at table eating what was left of the mid day cold roast and brown bread.

"You spoke of Amroth as restless and searching, of Nimrodel as despairing, and of Mellondu as confused." Raefindan paused to drink some water. "Imrazor's dreams are filled with wonder at having to wife an elf as beautiful as Mithrellas, who bears him children that take after her in beauty; but every dream ends in loss, for she has left him, and he is heartbroken. It is as if she has died, for she might as well have, since she wants nothing so much as the sea and her friend, Nimrodel. For me, Mellonin, it is like having something I was supposed to have had, and was denied. I do not know how that is. What I can tell you is that the loss in the end is bittersweet either way, for there is some recompense in the dreams, with Imrazor's children, and in my past, I think, in some way I cannot remember."

"Reckon pence? What is that? It sounds like counting money."

Raefindan shook his head. "I am sorry. I mean to say that it is like receiving payment for having suffered."

"Have you suffered, then, Raefindan?" Melonnin's tone was soft.

"So it would seem, though in what way I cannot say. If I could only gain my memory back!"

"Maybe a way will be found in the dreams."

"One can only hope."

"Did you ever recall who Jorje was?"

Raefindan laughed. "You remember that. By George, I think you've got it! No, I don't remember who George was. But I don't think it was important. It would be like saying, By the sword of the King! or something like that."

"Maybe this Jorje is the king where you come from."

"Why not?" Raefindan laughed again. Mellonin eyed him over her plate of food, wondering just how sane this young man was.

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Old 03-12-2004, 08:36 AM   #11
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White Horse Inn

Mellon

Night slipped by, and morning approached, but the Inn was still dark and quiet when the young blacksmith from Gondor rose, gathered a towel, a change of garments, and slipped out of the building. He went to the nearby river, washed himself and the clothing that he had slept in, dried and dressed in the clothing that he had brought, and hung the rest on nearby branches. Then he stood, silent and still, gazing northward, and waited and watched while the sun rose.

As the town began to stir, the young blacksmith watched the Inn, and when it became busy again, he approached it. His refined manner belied his rough hands. His neglected, shaggy hair was now combed back, held by a thin leather band; by the blacksmith's mien the headpeice might have been golden. He entered slowly, and looked for Bethberry; not seeing her, he quietly stepped out again, and waited, gazing ever northward.



Mellon-Amroth
Eothain stirred in his dreams, his eyes darting from side to side beneath their lids. His lips moved a little, and he murmured slightly.

As he dreamt, a tall elf-lord faced him; regal, golden-haired, powerful, and perhaps a little frightening. Eothain 's lips tightened, and he stood taller, stiffening. You need fear no man, he thought to himself.

"A good morning to you, " Eothain said.

The elf-lord nodded slightly. "The dawn promises to be bright; may your future be like it. Tell me, where is Bethberry? I require her presence."

Eothain 's eyebrows went up, and he shrugged. "She should be up at dawn, " he said.

"Bring her to me when she has risen, " the elf-lord replied.

"Very well, " Eothain answered, glad that Bethberry was a generally agreeable sort. The elf-lord faded from view, and Eothain struggled out of the dream and into the dawn.

Frowning, Eothain rolled over and sat up. It was morning. He got up, dressed hurriedly, and went to find Bethberry. He could not find her. He knocked on the door to her room, and there was no answer. He went to find Aylwen.

"She has left me in charge, " Aylwen replied. "I do not know on what business she travels, but she has indeed departed."

Mellon-Amroth

Eothain went looking for the tall elf-lord, but found only ayoung Gondorian man ligering outside. "Where is the Innkeeper?" he asked Eothain.

Eothain shrugged. "She is gone; on travel, they say. Where is the elf-lord?"

The young Gondorian man raised an eyebrow, but otherwise made no sign, holding Eothain's gaze.

"Answer me, " Eothain said impatiently.

The man frowned, his eyes hardening. "Your impertinence does your town little honor," he said, and after a moment he dismissed his displeasure. "It matters little. I must find a horse. In whose care was the Inn left during the Innkeeper's absence?"

Eothain 's jaw dropped. "What do you need a horse for? And why do you think we'd give you one?"



Aylwen Dreamsong

Afternoon had faded into night, and night had faded into a bright morning with no consequence, only indifference. Aylwen had stayed in the main hall the entire night. She'd taken the keys and was finishing papers at one of the tables the night before, and as the hours had worn on Aylwen gradually became more and more tired. Before long, Aylwen had fallen asleep at the table with a candle still burning and her coffee still steaming.

When she awoke the next morning, it was to the chatter of little birds outside and the recently risen sun streaming through the window into her eyes. Her coffee was cold and the candle had burned out silently, leaving beads and drizzles of wax on the table. Aylwen groaned and cleaned up the messes just as the maids and patrons began waking up and leaving their rooms. Eothain was one of these workers, and he came down quite feverishly as he stopped only to ask Aylwen where Bethberry was.

"She has left me in charge. I do not know on what business she travels, but she has indeed departed-" Aylwen supplied, wondering about the urgent tone in Eothain's voice. Aylwen was about to ask if she could do something in Bethberry's stead, but Eothain was off and outside the second Aylwen took a pause for breath. Aylwen stopped before bothering to speak and sighed instead, getting back to work.

Things were indeed becoming quite strange around the inn, or so it seemed to Aylwen. A fire burned the stable to the ground, Bethberry had up and left with little prior warning if any, Eothain was beginning to act strange, and all in all things were not normal around the White Horse.

The volunteers that had helped the day before to start rebuilding the stables started getting ready to continue their job. One man left to go find Talan, but Aylwen insisted that the builders go on without him, just in case he'd be gone for most of the day or if the man could not find Talan. Taren was hesitant, imagining the arguments and debates that would ensue without Talan to guide and lead, but dismissed this and went out to help build.

littlemanpoet

Ædegard walked into the inn and headed straight for the innkeeper at the bar. He didn't exactly want to be there, but he had made a promise. "Mellon will need a friend." Why me? was the question that kept playing through his mind. I'm just a wheelwright. Sure, Mellon was friendly enough during the snowball fight, but his illness and the strange things he had been saying had set Ædegard's teeth of age. Promises were to be kept, however, so he leaned on the bar, wondering what to think of everything.

"Good morrow, Aylwen. Do you know if Mellon is awake? Does he remain ill? I-" he looked away and coughed, embarrassed "-I am asked to look after his wellbeing."

Aylwen Dreamsong

"Good morrow, Aylwen. Do you know if Mellon is awake? Does he remain ill? I -- I am asked to look after his well-being," Aylwen looked up at the man before her, lifting a brow in confusion. Things were getting strange around the Inn, and they got stranger every time Aylwen stopped to point it out to herself. But the Assistant Innkeeper pushed these thoughts away for a moment and put her attention back on her inquirer.

"Excuse me? What are you talking about? Mellon?" Aylwen spoke for clarification, and the man rolled his eyes at her discreetly. Aylwen continued on anyway. "Please explain and maybe I will be able to help you find this...Mellon."

"There is a young, sickly blacksmith of Gondor upstairs. Bethberry said she was taking care of him!" the man exclaimed frantically, and Aylwen struggled not to smile at his tone. Then Aylwen calmly explained that Bethberry was out at the moment. The man rolled his eyes. "That's not the point. I just wanted to know where Mellon was and if he was still sick!"

Aylwen sighed and checked the listings of rooms for a Mellon. Sure enough Bethberry had left a little note about which room Mellon occupied. Aylwen led the man upstairs and to the room, using the keys Bethberry had given her earlier before she'd taken off. Unlocking then opening the bedroom door, Aylwen and the man looked in to find no sign of any occupant. Aylwen sighed and led the man back downstairs.

"Maybe Eothain knows where Mellon is," Aylwen consoled to the man, who didn't really seem to care about . Aylwen went to the front door and opened it to the fresh morning. "Yes, Eothain knows everyone..."

The man who'd asked for Mellon gasped and whispered lightly, "Mellon!"

Yes, things have become thoroughly confusing here at the White Horse, Aylwen thought, and not for the first time.




Mellon- Amroth

The young blacksmith surveyed the group, and turned to Aylwen with a nod. "Greetings, madam; may your joy outshine the rising sun." He then looked at Ædegard, and the right corner of his mouth curled upward in a slight smile. "Again we meet, Ædegard."

Ædegard coughed. "Mellon-- how did ... how are you feeling?"

The smile broadened. "I am feeling well... Friend, " replied the blacksmith, and his eyes twinkled merrily. "And you? How are you feeling?"

Ædegard blushed. "I'm fine. Listen, Mellon. Do you remember where you are from? Have you remembered your name?"

"Ædegard, my Friend, I had not forgotten it; not today, not in many centuries. But it seems that many others have. I had often heard the memory of men was not like the memory of the elves. Nevertheless, Amroth I was, and Amroth I remain, whether men remember it or not." Despite his wry tone, he smiled. The young man did not trust him, but he liked Ædegard nonetheless. He wondered why.

Aylwen curtseyed, looking uncertainly from Eothain to Mellon. "Good morning, Amroth... sir, " she said, hesitantly.

He returned his gaze to her. "Where is Bethberry? I desire to speak with her."

"She has departed, lord, " replied Aylwen, "and I am left in charge of the Inn."

"Bid her farewell for me; alas that I did not waken ere she departed. Nevertheless: I require a tireless mount; pray see to it, lady."

Aylwen's jaw dropped.




Aylwen Dreamsong

"Wait a minute. The Elf-Lord is tall and yellow-haired. I've seen him. This-- this upstart is not the elf-lord. He's up to something; he must be. He's just trying to steal a horse." Eothain cried, and Aylwen sighed before looking over at the man called Amroth...what a name...and smiling kindly.

"It does not matter if he were trying to steal a horse or not, Eothain." Aylwen murmured softly, looking over her shoulder at the construction going on behind the group. "For we lost all horses belonging to the Inn during the fire two days previous. If Amroth should be requiring a horse, he shall not be getting it from us, I fear..."

Eothain smiled a satisfied grin for a moment.

"That does not help me much, Miss," Amroth persisted, glancing at Eothain but otherwise ignoring the stablehand. "Perhaps you can redirect me to someone who might have a horse that I might use."

Eothain opened his mouth to protest again. Aylwen hushed him and turned to Amroth. "I shall see what I can do." Aylwen led the men inside and to the counter where the ledger was. She flipped through the pages. "Perhaps one of our patrons would be gracious enough to lend you their horse. Perhaps you could see another stabler in town. However, if a tireless mount is what you are seeking...I apologise sincerely, for you will not find it here."



Mellon-Amroth

The young blacksmith nodded to Aylwen, and turned to Eothain.

" This morning you saw an elf-lord in your dreams, did you not?" Pressing into Eothain's mind, Amroth gazed at him, and thought, "You see, young one, it is indeed I. "

Eothain took a few steps backwards, eyes widening.

Amroth began to release his mind. "You see that I bear you no ill will. But do not mock where you have no understanding, young one. Perhaps my looks belie my age? Yet I knew your ancestors in their ancient homes, along the banks of the river." He withdrew sadly from Eothain's mind. He turned to Aylwen. "Lady, if there are no horses to be found hereabouts, then I must proceed northwards on foot, and all the sooner. For I have need of haste." He bowed, and gestured towards the river. "The garments loaned to me by Lady Bethberry hang upon the banks. Give her my blessing. And now farewell."

And with that, he nodded to each in turn, and with shining eyes and head held high, walked northwards.

Ædegard said, "Wait. No supplies? No food, no blankets, nothing? You are crazy. Mellon, wait. Mellon?" He hesitated, watching the young blacksmith walk away.

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Old 03-20-2004, 06:11 AM   #12
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Sting MINAS TIRITH (Orual's opening post)

First post: Ravion
The back-alleys of Gondor were mottled with small puddles from the last rain. The heavy tread of thick boots punctuated the otherwise quiet atmosphere, which could be construed as either tranquil or gloomy, depending on your disposition. Ravion took it as gloomy.

"Ravion!" The man looked in the direction of the call, and saw a young boy running up to him. "Ravion! Where're you headed? You look like you're in a foul temper." The boy paused. "Can I go with you?"

Ravion raised an eyebrow at the boy, who was, like many of the children who followed Ravion, a street urchin, perhaps an orphan. Ravion didn't ask many questions--in fact, it occurred to him just now that he didn't even know the boy's name. "I'm going to an inn to drink, and you may not come with me," he said. The boy's face fell, but Ravion held firm. "I have had a remarkably long day, boy, and I don't need you hanging off of me with a sad face to make it any longer. Here's some money--now leave me be!" The boy's face lit up as he grabbed the money and ran off. Ravion sighed deeply and continued walking.

He didn't have any clear idea where he was going, just that he was planning to go somewhere and have a drink or two before going to bed. He had told the boy the truth: it had been a long day. He had just gotten back to Gondor from a long journey to the north, past Rohan, where he had heard tell of a small band of orcs. It turned out that the rumour was nothing but that, a rumour, and there were no orcs to be seen. So tired, frustrated, and grumpy, he had returned to Gondor, with nothing but a few tales to tide him over. Odd ones, to be sure, but nothing that could relieve him of the disappointment.

As a 'leftover Ranger', as he put it, a Ranger without much meaningful work left to do after the War, he pursued any word he could pick up about bands of orcs, or any other threat to the safety of Middle-earth. Fortunately for the people of Middle-earth, but somewhat less fortunately for Ravion, word was getting harder and harder to find. It used to be that all you had to do was tilt your head a little and the sound of trouble would fall right into it, but that wasn't true anymore. Now you had to go out and actively look for it. It wasn't like that when his father was alive.

His voice still caught when he spoke of his father. His father, who had fought and died alongside King Elessar, his brother Ranger. His father, who had done more in that one, final battle then Ravion could hope to do in a lifetime, now. Angrily he kicked at a building, stubbing his toe violently and quickly wishing he hadn't been so rash. He bit down hard on his lip, limping on down the street.

What place was this for a Ranger? What world? What was left for a young man who knew nothing but war, when only peace remained? Was there anywhere left to go, any cause left to represent? Was there anything left but bitterness and frustration?

Feeling quite wretched and still very much in pain, Ravion stumbled along. Even from a distance he could feel the warmth and comfort emanating from an inn down the road, drawing him towards it. He needed now more than ever to rest. Perhaps he could check his foot, see if he'd broken anything...maybe get a room, just stay away from his home a while. His empty, sullen, quiet home. There was no life in it, only silence, and that was no way to live.

The Seventh Star, the sign proclaimed, was the name of the inn. A good name, Ravion decided. Promising. It was worth a look, not to mention the fact that it was right there, and he was tired, hungry, thirsty, and in pain. The case for the Seventh Star was getting better and better.

Ravion stepped in and let the warmth that had been promised from down the street seep into his body. He looked around for a moment, then, reassured that there was no danger--he had not yet shaken off his Ranger's first instinct to assume somebody was going to kill him--he went to the bar and ordered a drink.

Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:15 AM   #13
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Tolkien MINAS TIRITH: Imladris' opening post

Aeron's first post

Aeron pushed himself against the Inn’s barn, trying to huddle in the shadows. His stomach contorted into a twist of hunger, and he gasped. Cautiously, he peeked around the corner. They have not found me -- yet. He remembered the baying hounds, the sound of tearing cloth as he scampered through the forest like a hunted cony.

A weak smile flitted across his face and he rummaged in his pocket for something: a thing of beauty, a thing of worth, a thing that was priceless. It was a necklace: the chain was fine gold inlayed with beads of pearls. At the end was a scarlet tear: a ruby that hung heavily from the chain. He clenched it in his dirty palm and grinned. He had been careless, and how he was fleeing for his life from the wealthy merchant he had stolen it from. Leaning against the barn, blowing his black bangs from his eyes, he caught sight of a rope stretching from a cottage window to a dying oak. Breeches of varying sizes hung from it, white blouses fluttered listlessly in the whispering breeze.

A keen glint flickered in his brown eyes, and he slipped from the shadows and jogged to the to the clothesline. With a furtive glance, he pulled a pair of trousers and a white, roomy shirt from the line and crept back to the stables. After hiding the clothes in a bundle of straw, he grabbed a wooden bucket and made his way towards a pump. He filled it as fast he could and, with as little sloshing as possible, carried it back to the barn. Tearing his clothes off, he poured the water over him, scrubbing his skin vigorously with his knuckles as he did so. That ought to keep the hounds off my scent… he whispered as he washed the grime from his body. Shivering, his teeth chattering, he changed into the freshly stolen clothes, transferred various belongings from his old clothes to the new, strode back to the line, and replaced his torn, ragged clothes. As soon as he saw they were hanging safely on the line, dangling as if they had been there as long as the others, he wriggled his eyebrows at them, grinning. “You’ll be in good hands now. Some dame will patch them with loving hands and you will no longer have to brave the terror of forest thorns.” With a mocking snicker at his farewell, he strolled lazily down the dirt way, keeping a sharp eye out for a thing to eat.

Whistling a Gondorian marching saw, he observed each passerby minutely. He had never before been the town of Minas Arnor, the Tower of the Sun. He scratched his scalp absently: it itched, as if a million little legs tripped merrily along it. He must remember to have his sister, Gwyllion look at it. Ah, little Gwyll…she would be happy about the necklace and bury it somewhere in the weed ridden yard. Or under the rotten floor boards of their humble hut. He wondered where else she hid his loot -- what she did with it. With a broad smile he shrugged it off. As long as rich merchants strutted the streets of Gondor, they would not starve. As long as farmers raised their chickens and their cows, they would be in no lack for meat or frothing milk. He smiled, chuckling quietly.

He ran is fingers through his hair, scraping the skin with his nails. Narrowing his eyes, he surveyed the fingernail: there was a small mound of dirt and dead skin, but it seemed to be moving…or something (maybe many things) were moving in the mound. With a shrug, he wiped the gunk onto his new trousers and continued on his way. He’d have to find a hat to add to his disguise, just in case one of his pursuer’s had followed him to the Tower of the Sun.

A girl, a basket of crimson roses hanging from her arm, was speaking with a jolly, red faced man. His ruddy cheeks were smudged with flour, and he leaned on a wooden roller. She was sneaking pieces of dough and popping them into her mouth, giggling all the while. Subtly he changed course and drifted towards her, snagging a rose as he passed by.

He laughed and twirled the green stem through his fingers, cleverly avoiding the thorns that protruded from the smooth, slightly knobby surface. A young lad strode quickly by, a simple hat upon his head. It was made of a soft brown material, but it hung low on his brow, as if he was hiding underneath its shadow.

Casually turning around, Aeron leisurely followed the boy down the straight streets of the city and wasn’t too upset when he turned aside at an inn called The Seventh Star. The lad went to a table where there were two others while he himself went to the bar, to see if he could get a bite to eat and mug of ale to drink. As he ate, he kept an eye on the table and the men that sat at it. He could have stolen any number of hats, but that particular hat was just the right shade of brown and it was always more fun and clever to steal from a person than from an establishments who sold hats.

“Your meal will be six pence, young sir,” the serving girl said, her red lips formed in the usual business smile.

Aeron cocked his head at her, rummaged in his pocket, and pulled out a handful of small coin. “Keep the change, lass,” he said as he leaned on the counter and smiled at her.

A flush washed over her pale features, and a light of reality glimmered within the smile. With a neat curtsey and a murmured thank you, she put the money in a drawer and stared at him. The smile had faded, replaced with a slight curve of her lips. Her eyes were wide and round and it was as if she was wondering why he had given her such a substantial tip.

At the annoyed call of another customer, the girl rushed away, leaving Aeron alone. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, and he saw her leave for the kitchen with an exasperated roll of her eyes. As soon as the hallway had conveniently swallowed her up, Aeron glanced quickly to see if anyone was paying particular attention, jogged his empty cup with his elbow and watched with satisfaction as it clattered to the ground behind the counter. Launching himself over it, he kneeled jerked the door open, and grabbed the pouch of money. With nimble fingers he poured the coins from the pouch into his pocket. From the other pocket, he pulled a handful of pebbles and, with a stifled giggle, put them in the sack. With a gleeful grin, he put the pouch back. Standing up, he made his way near a table where the lad with the nice hat and the others were drinking and chatting. “Just a matter of waiting,” he whispered to himself. Stealing a hat had to be handled with a certain amount of delicacy after all.
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:19 AM   #14
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Shield ROHAN: Nurumaiel's opening post

First Post for Liornung

"'Twas a fine tune, Liornung."

The young fiddler turned to the man behind the counter and gave a little bow, mumuring his thanks and frowning thoughtfully at his bow. "I thank you, kind Master Ealdor," he said, "but I think that it sounded a bit odd. I fear that I have perhaps delayed overmuch in use of the rosin."

"Nonsense!" Innkeeper Ealdor cried, laughing a little. "You say it only to find fault with yourself, I know that much. Do you not think it would be wiser to simply accept that you had done a fine job, though in humble enough manner? Do not be so humble that you cannot see the facts as they stand before you."

The fiddler blushed at these words but continued to persist. "I do think it has been too long since my bow has last felt the rosin," he said again.

A young girl leaning against the door to the kitchen jumped forward with eagerness and touched the innkeeper's sleeve, saying, "Do not listen to him, Father, for I saw him just this morning sitting in that very corner, rosin and bow both in hand and in all truth he was not merely holding them to stare upon them."

"Miss Blostma, I fear you have me caught," Liornung said, bowing politely to her. "It does bother me to say from my own lips, however, that I played a fine tune and finer than many others before me. I think I shall content myself to merely think it." And then, sitting back in his chair and putting his boots upon the time despite the protests of the innkeeper's daughter, he began to play a soft, quiet tune, filled with such unspeakable sorrow and loss.

The inn there were inside could just barely be called that. Most simply referred to it as Ealdor's Inn, for it had no real name. It was a rare occasion when one other than a dear friend stepped into the inn, though it did sometimes happen. The inn was in a quiet corner of Edoras, and few people ever chose that inn to spend time in. Glancing around the dark room, dimly lit by the fire which threw strange shadows upon the faces of all, Liornung recognized everyone save a young woman sitting in a corner. She was staring into the fire, every so often tilting her head to the side a bit to gaze at him. She appeared quite lost and forsaken in the inn, and Liornung didn't wonder for it was almost certain nobody knew her and she knew nobody.

As he finished his tune he considered speaking to her and bringing her to know everyone in the room so as she should not feel so alone, but Old Secgrof called out to him, "Master Liornung, do you ever write songs?"

Liornung shifted his gaze from the girl to the old man sitting by the fire and, a playful little smile upon his face, replied, "Why, yes, I do, when there is anything noble enough to write about. I did write a song about the brave men who perished in a stable fire, but I was quite young then." The smile on his face growing wider, he added, "The leader of these brave men was my brother who in truth did not perish and was quite as young a lad as myself, but that would not have done for an epic tale." Old Secgrof chuckled a bit, and then he fixed and inquiring glance on Liornung. "I am under the impression that you have some special reason for asking this, Master Secgrof?" he asked uncertainly.

"Oh, not really," Old Secgrof said, shaking his head. "I was just thinking that some bard, or maybe even a wandering fiddler as yourself, should write about that crazy blacksmith."

"Crazy blacksmith?" Liornung frowned in thought. "I've heard no news of a crazy blacksmith. What is this you speak of?"

"A mad blacksmith," Blostma said, "is running north of here. The boys here in Edoras have been wishing with all their wills that they were older, for they think it would be an enjoyable sport to track him, especially as he's crazy and might be some danger."

Liornung touched the strings of his fiddle and gazed up at the ceiling of the inn. "It would be an adventure," he said. "It's been a long while since I've had an adventure. You say, Miss Blostma, that he's headed north from here? And you do mean Edoras by 'here' and not simply Rohan?"

"Yes," Blostma replied, looking a bit startled. "Surely, Master Liornung, you don't mean to follow him? It might prove most dangerous."

"I would like to follow him, but I might not wish to catch him. The following would be quite adventure enough, and perhaps I could find a few pleasant inns wherein dwelt those with willing ears for times further ahead." He put his bow to the strings again and was about to pick up another tune when Old Secgrof held up his hand to stop him.

"Master Liornung, I'm challenging you to follow the blacksmith and catch him, and when you've finished your adventure return here with your song," the old man said, his eyes locked onto the fiddler's.

Liornung was surprised. "Why, Master Secgrof, why does it mean so much to you?" he asked, hoping that his words did not sound too impolite.

Old Secgrof blushed a bit and stared at the ground, and then he murmured quite inaudibly. "The young man is crazy, that much has been said, and perhaps quite unable to defend himself against any dangers. He is heading into lands that I don't very well fancy, and I shouldn't like any harm to come to him."

"Master Secgrof," Liornung said in an awed voice, bowing quite low, "you have a most kind, compassionate, caring heart and alas that I do not have the same." He set his fiddle and bow against a chair and studied Old Secgrof's face for some time before speaking again. "You wish me to follow this young man and see he comes to no harm, if I do find him. Or persuade him to turn back, perhaps?"

"Whatever you might think is best."

"No need to look so ashamed, good master!" Liornung cried. "You are quite noble. I would readily do this if only to honor your most noble heart, but I do not know the lands well enough to track a man, and I am poor for following a map."

"I was no so serious about it," Old Secgrof said briskly. "You needn't worry yourself, Liornung. I'm sure the lad can take care of himself."

"But I cannot let one such as yourself worry so much about it. I have no knowledge of tracking, I cannot follow a map well and I only know these lands in the ways I travel them from inn to inn, I own no horse, but I will find some way to do it for your sake. I don't think I would mind going to those lands if only I knew the way. What an adventure it would be!" With shining eyes, he moved to the fire and sat himself down opposite of Old Secgrof. "You sit there, good Secgrof, and I shall sit here, and we shall think together and come up with some way to do this task."
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:22 AM   #15
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Shield ROHAN: Aylwen's opening post

First Post: Bellyn

Black faded into shades of grey that, in turn, smoothed into the beige-cream color of the parchment Bellyn was sketching on. The fiddler continued his tune, and Bellyn scribbled down the main outline of his body while he was still playing. Bellyn knew that if she wanted to get the proportions and body just right, she’d have to work fast before the fiddler stopped playing his lovely instrument. Of course the young man did not know about Bellyn’s drawing of him, and if he caught her staring Bellyn knew she’d blush crimson and crumple up the paper.

So, working quickly, Bellyn finished the outline of the instrument and man just as the last note began to ring and fade into the air. Bellyn sighed and put down her charcoal stick. The young minstrel began to playfully argue with the Innkeeper and his daughter about the performance. Examining at the drawing with slight disgust, Bellyn shoved it into the empty pack on the floor next to her feet, promising herself that she’d finish it later. Looking back at the table she occupied alone, Bellyn inwardly scolded herself for dallying and not doing her work. Maps were splayed out on the table in front of her, and a quill pen was left dry next to a jar of the finest black ink that Bellyn had made herself.

Bellyn returned her gaze to the fiddler, and was taken aback to find that she had caught the young man’s gaze as well. The fire flickered and lit Bellyn’s papers but she kept her attention on the minstrel, and Bellyn wondered what he was thinking so deeply about. Then his attention was called away as one patron of Ealdor’s Inn asked the fiddler about song writing. At this Bellyn turned away and went back to her papers.

Until part of the conversation being held between the fiddler – it seemed Liornung was his name – the old man, and the Innkeeper’s daughter caught Bellyn’s attention.

"A mad blacksmith," Blostma said, "is running north of here. The boys here in Edoras have been wishing with all their wills that they were older, for they think it would be an enjoyable sport to track him, especially as he's crazy and might be some danger."

Bellyn looked up from her maps for perhaps the hundredth time and smiled faintly, thinking that the boys of Edoras were certainly right in their desire for adventure. Bellyn, as an artist and a woman, had spent many years drawing and copying maps of places that her father the cartographer had been to. Yet Bellyn hadn’t left Edoras in many years, and even when she had it was not for adventure, it was not for glory.

"It would be an adventure," The fiddler, Liornung, said. "It's been a long while since I've had an adventure. You say, Miss Blostma, that he's headed north from here? And you do mean Edoras by 'here' and not simply Rohan?"

Bellyn became more and more interested with each passing moment. Oh, how she longed for a chance to be out in the world. Bellyn could recite any coordinates of any place in Middle Earth, and could recall lore of places long gone and countries faded and lost to the memories of normal men, but Bellyn had never been to any of them. Still, Bellyn knew what her father (who was away, like always) and brothers would say if she suggested or even hinted at her traveling off on some wild goose chase. Bellyn knew they would say naught for a while, then laugh, then ask if Bellyn had lost her mind.

For a few minutes the conversation became lost to Bellyn, and she began packing up her maps and readying for home. She wanted to speak to the fiddler, though, to find out what he knew or what he thought of the “crazy blacksmith” situation. Before Bellyn could stand from her seat or do anything, something else in the conversation caught Bellyn’s attention.

"Master Liornung, I'm challenging you to follow the blacksmith and catch him, and when you've finished your adventure return here with your song," The old man smiled slyly for just a moment, but then locked glances with the young fiddler.

Inaudible mumbling ensued, and Bellyn tried her best to listen and make certain that she did not miss anything important. What Liornung said next made Bellyn smile and made her glad that she was so well acquainted with the geography of Middle-Earth.

"You are quite noble. I would readily do this if only to honor your most noble heart, but I do not know the lands well enough to track a man, and I am poor for following a map."

I know the lands well enough! Bellyn cried to herself, excitement beginning to show on her pale face and color beginning to come back to her freckle-dusted cheeks. And I am the best at following a map, even if it is one of the few things I am good at!

"You sit there, good Secgrof, and I shall sit here, and we shall think together and come up with some way to do this task."

The young artist knew it was time for her to speak, and she knew it as well as she knew the exact distance from Minas Tirith to the lands of ancient Lothlorien. Bellyn grabbed her pack of maps and slung it over her shoulder before leaving her spot by her table and shyly walking up to the fiddler Liornung.

“You do not need to think for long,” Bellyn began, getting Liornung and Secgrof’s to turn and look at her. “I can help! I’m a cartographer,” Bellyn knew it was a bit of a lie, for she had never really been anywhere, but she told herself hesitantly that knowing where everything was on a map was almost as good as having been there anyway. “I’m a cartographer, and I know all the lands of Middle-Earth! I can help you track any man you must find, Master Liornung!”

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Old 03-20-2004, 07:19 AM   #16
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1420! MINAS TIRITH: Mellonin

Late, with a head full of weary and upsetting dreams which she could not sort out, Mellonin skittered down the stairs, braiding her hair as she went. She stopped at the door to the common room, tied off the braid, straightened her skirts hastily and pushed the door open.

Morien glared at her. It was a busy morning, with most of the breakfast guests already finishing up their meals, and several new people Mellonin had never seen before. One corner's shadows held a ranger dressed in the typical greens and browns-- well, not quite typical; not Gondor's standard military issue. He was solid, but not tall; his hair was short, and his beard trimmed close; and his eyes glinted-- was she imagining it? They looked green. How strange.

There was another new fellow lounging at a table, near-- but clearly not part of-- a group of people she knew. He was filthy, but his clothes were immaculate and expensive-- and they were clearly not tailored for him. She went on her guard immediately.

"Well, good morning to you, sleepyhead. Breakfast is almost done; the stormcloud on Morien's brow has been growing darker by the minute. Best tread softly."

"Good day, Raefindan. Oh, the dreams I had." She smoothed her blouse, and said, "I need tea."

"Well, I'll get it for you. Go greet somebody before Morien loses his temper."

She nodded. Smoothing her skirt yet again, she made her way to the smartly dressed young scamp's table, casting a glance toward the ranger as she did so.

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Old 03-20-2004, 07:37 AM   #17
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ROHAN: Mellon-Amroth

The young man's questions faded from Amroth's mind as soon as he turned northward; he could still hear his words, but he had dismissed the issue already, and his will was set northward. Opening his mind, he searched, passing over the nearby villages, the towns, the open fields, reaching out to the falls, the singing stream of his beloved beauty. He could imagine the voice of the stream; where was the voice of his betrothed?

Other minds touched his, querying; Lorien was strangely quiet. More elves must have migrated already than he realised; why had he been unaware of this? Had they headed due west instead of south?

No matter. He had given the reign of his Kingdom into other hands; his heart held one purpose. His bride had headed south, not west. And she had not met him when she ought. She would have returned home to the stream she loved best.

Nimrodel. Nimrodel. Where are you? Nimrodel, hear me. Nimrodel...
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Old 03-20-2004, 10:01 PM   #18
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Ravion

The morning came altogether too quickly for Ravion, who had accepted perhaps one or two drinks that were excessive. His head throbbed somewhat in the sunlight that filtered in through the curtains on his window. He groaned and rolled over in his bed, pulling the blankets over his head irritably. He stayed there for a few moments, trying to convince himself that it was the best thing to do, but eventually threw the covers off and sat up.

He glared sullenly at the window for a spell, trying to stare down the sun. It stayed up stubbornly, despite his patience, despite his firm, unwavering gaze. Finally it conquered him. He dressed quickly and pulled on his boots, lacing them up. He parted the curtains and looked out the window, watching a couple of passers-by on the street, then stepped away from the window and put on his cloak, clasping it with his plain iron brooch.

He went to the common room, ordered breakfast, and took a seat in the corner to eat. He threw the hood over his face, still a little tired, a little grumpy, and with more than a little bit of a headache. As he took a forkfull of eggs, he glared around the room, as though challenging someone to come up and speak with him. Nobody did. Nobody ever did.

He sighed deeply and started to eat, trying to remember what he was doing at the Inn. Oh, yes--avoiding home. Maybe sorting out what had happened on his trip? Something about a crazy blacksmith, but nothing important. He snorted as he thought of the story. Crazy blacksmith who thought he was somebody or else of old...oh, but his head hurt...well, maybe he had had too much to drink last night, but at least he wasn't crazy. Much.

He glanced up and locked eyes for a moment with a handsome young woman, a waitress by appearances, and even after she broke eye contact he continued to watch her for a moment. There was something about her, something...he shook his head briskly to clear it. There was nothing there. He was just still a little drunk, that was all. He put down his plate and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, and his body responded with another wave of pain in his head. Oh, but last night had been a mistake...
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Old 03-21-2004, 06:24 AM   #19
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Shield ROHAN: Ædegard

"Hold him still. Steady! No. Make him stand. Make him stand!"

"I'm trying! He's too big!"

"He is not. That's what the bit is for, " Ædegard said. The big chestnut jigged and shied, dragging Ædegard's little sister Theolyn several feet before Ædegard turned to the horse and roared, "Stand!" More wide-eyed than ever, the horse stood fast, trembling, snatching at the bit. Theolyn gave him a little more rein, and he began to relax. Ædegard glared at him, and then at Theolyn, and resumed struggling with the stiff girth on the second horse: an aged bay mare, who stood immoving except for the occasional flick of a tail.

A soft voice spoke. "Not starting off on the best of terms with him, are you?"

"He's young. He'll settle down once we get going," Ædegard said as his frown deepened.

The young man, a rider in his late twenties, nodded at Theolyn. "We?"

Ædegard snorted. "No, Freawine, she's not going. Just me and the horses."

"How far?"

"Don't know."

"What for?"

"Crazy blacksmith."

"Ah. A rescue mission."

Ædegard could not tell whether the last was spoken in mockery or not, so he turned and met Freawine's eye. There was friendship there, and a trace of admiration. Ædegard softened somewhat.

"Won't you need a third horse once you find him, " Freawine observed.

"Father can't spare any more. He can hardly spare these, or me."

"That girth needs oil. It'll rub him bare, as stiff as that."

"It's old. This saddle doesn't fit anyone else, and she's been out to pasture."

"You should oil it."

"I don't have time!"

A large hand landed on Ædegard's shoulder, and Freawine said softly, "He's on foot. But you don't want to be on foot, do you? Take care of your mount."

Ashamed, Ædegard met Freawine's eyes and blushed crimson. Freawine held his eyes, and then said, "Loosen it. I will return."

Ædegard loosened the girth while Freawine walked away, and then he busied himself checking his supplies. He was missing a few things. Muttering, he held both horses and ordered his sister to fetch several things. He looked over at the Inn, and shook his head, with a sinking feeling that this was going to take a while. Freawine was right of course; carelessness at the beginning of a journey did not bode well for the end of it.

The old bay put her nose against Ædegard's chest, and Ædegard said softly, "I'm sorry, old girl. I owe you better than that."

He tried not to fret, but he hated waiting. Freawine returned with the oil, and together they stripped the saddle from the old mare and softened it. Meanwhile, Theolyn returned with the forgotten items. With a soldier's efficiency, Freawine helped Ædegard re- pack, and soon Ædegard was in the saddle.

"Have you said farewell to your father?"

Ædegard nodded, and then shrugged. "This won't take long. I'll be back soon anyway."

Freawine laid one hand on Theolyn's shoulder, and raised the other in farewell. With a nod, Ædegard gathered the reins of the bay, gave the chestnut a firm pull on the lead-line, and turned the horses north.

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Old 03-21-2004, 12:42 PM   #20
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

From a short distance, two more riders were watching Ædegard take his leave. The one, being Liornung, touched the shoulder of the other, being Bellyn, and gestured to the group of people and horses. Bellyn's eyes met Liornung in a puzzled fashion, and he smiled softly when he realized she had not been listening to the conversation between the rider and the two by him. "I have been," he murmured in her ear, "quite guilty of eavesdropping, but it has been well rewarded. That rider there is also is search of the crazy blacksmith." Bellyn still did not seem to fully understand what Liornung was trying to say. "Three is company," he said shortly, his hand falling to the saddle of his horse. He watched in stiff silence as Ædegard turned his horses north and began to ride off.

When Ædegard was gone, Liornung moved towards the young girl who had been helping Ædegard. His bay mount followed obediently, as did Bellyn. Liornung stopped in front of the girl and gave a slight bow, "Miss Theolyn," he said in greeting.

She turned to him with no little surprise on her features. "You know my name, then?" she asked.

Liornung blushed but did not avert his eyes from her. "I fear I was eavesdropping on you, Miss Theolyn. The conversation that was held with your elder brother interested me very much, for I heard him say he was pursuing a crazy blacksmith. Did I hear aright?"

"Yes, sir, that is what he said."

"Do you think he would object us to following him? We were also setting out this lovely day to find that blacksmith and rescue him from whatever dangers might befall him, and while I've travelled this country round and round I know naught of tracking, and while my young friend here knows of all lands in Middle-earth she has never tread upon them. The company of your brother would be welcome."

There was an unmistakable gleam of suspicion in Theolyn's eyes, and Liornung realized it was well-founded. It was hard to trust strangers. For all the young lady knew, the two of them might be bandits just looking to take Ædegard's horses and money... if he had any of the latter.

"I am not armed," Liornung said, his voice firm and quiet. "I have no intention of harming your brother, but instead seek to join him in his quest so I may fulfill the wishes of one very dear to me. And if it would be that I were telling you a falsehood and I did intend to harm your brother, I could not overpower him, for as I have told you already I am not armed and even if I were to have a sword I have no great skill with it."

Theolyn hesitated again, then turned her eyes desperately to a young man standing some ways behind her. "Freawine?" she questioned, and then stepped back to let him take care of the business.

Liornung blushed and bowed again. "You must forgive my manners, Master Freawine," he cried. "I was so intent on my quest that I had forgotten to exercise them. I am most pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Liornung, and I am a wandering fiddler in search of a mad blacksmith to rescue him. This is Bellyn, a talented artist and my companion." He bowed again, and Freawine returned the courtesy.

"I trust," continued Liornung, "that you already heard what I said to Miss Theolyn. I will say no more to plead my cause, for I've said enough. I shall leave it to you now, then." He folded his arms and glanced at Bellyn, wondering if she were enjoying the adventure thus far.

As Liornung was speaking, Freawine had been studying the young man critically. His words seemed true. There was a fiddle case strapped to his back, and there was no weapon upon him unless it be a small dagger, which would not pose much threat. Besides, this young man's face was most honest and truthful. The girl, of course, was not to worry about.

"All right," he said. "I can't say that I trust you completely, for I don't know you at all, but you have gained enough of my trust that I will let you go without hindering you. I daresay Ædegard shouldn't mind some help if you ever catch the blacksmith."

"If he's dangerous," Liornung replied. He bowed first to Freawine, then turned to Theolyn. "Most honored, Miss Theolyn," he said, bowing again to her. "Your brother shall have, at least, no lack of music." Stepping back he bowed once again to both of them, then, slipping his foot in the stirrup of his saddle and making a gesture with his head to Bellyn, he mounted his bay. She did likewise. With a last farewell to the two, they turned their horses north and began trotting comfortably north.

They were silent for a while, but Liornung soon broke this silence by saying very shortly, "You're dwelling on some thought. Tell me what it is, and say it truly and bluntly."

Bellyn looked a little startled, then, with a brief hesitation, she looked straight into Liornung's eyes and said, "I was thinking that our conversation with those two was very much a waste of time. It would have been much easier to just ride after Ædegard without bothering to get permission."

Liornung chuckled inwardly. She was not a weak girl, that was certain. He did detest it when people always spoke their mind. When they did, what left was in their minds that was completely their own? But when they were asked... it took courage to say the truth. "It was that waste of time or another farther up the road," he replied. "When he left Ædegard seemed to be in quite a sorry mood, but I noticed that while he was reluctant he did have great respect for what Freawine said. Ædegard would be most unwise to trust us when we ride up and ask to trust him, but perhaps with Freawine's consent he would allow us to come with him. Then again, he will probably think we're lying about it." Liornung paused to muse over this problem, but soon continued. "The second reason is that I wanted to meet Ædegard's sister and friend. I was quite intrigued by them. If I hadn't met them I would have been pestering Ædegard about them. Both you and Ædegard can pester me about my family because I'm used to telling stories and I love talking about my family."

Liornung urged his bay into a canter and Bellyn's horse followed without being asked. The two pack horses also followed as willingly as could be expected. "We'll catch Ædegard soon," Liornung said confidently. "When we do he'll either let us come with him or not. He can't expect us not to shadow him quite closely if he refuses, though." Bellyn was not looking at him for she was concentrating on the road ahead, and though Liornung knew this he winked anyway.
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Old 03-21-2004, 09:39 PM   #21
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Tolkien

Aeron scanned the inn’s common room before again fixing his stare upon the lad’s hat. Serving ladies, farmers, a bard, a drunken man, and many more. He fidgeted in his chair and again looked about him, hoping that none of his pursuers had found their way there.

A woman with brown hair glided towards him, and scrutinized him before saying, “Good morning young sir.”

He shifted in his chair, his eyes flicking from her face to his hands and back again, before he put them under the table and said, with a cocky grin and a wink, “A good day to you mi’lady.” He paused. He was not much good around women. Charming one girl with a golden coin was about the limit for him. Gwyllion, he thought briefly, was much better at it. He smiled at her. Go away please…I can’t steal the hat with you hovering about me. What if he should leave? His heart fluttered. But there were always more hats…maybe even better ones. But what good would a better one do if he couldn’t have that one? That one would be perfect. It wasn’t too ornate, it wasn’t too meager…it hid the face perfectly. “And what would my lady’s name be?” he asked.

“Mellonin.”

“A pretty name. Mine is Faran,” he said, grinning.

“You’re clothes are very fine,” she said.

He glanced quickly at her, staring into her eyes. She arched an eyebrow at him, and a smile played about her lips. He opened his mouth to say something, but decided just to grin at her. A grin was very safe. It couldn’t betray you, like words could and often did. In fact, they seemed to take a morbid delight in doing so. “Thank you,” he said after a pause. It couldn’t get safer than that.

“May I get you something to drink or to eat?” she asked.

“No thank you,” he said, tilting his head at her.

With a smile, she skipped off, her braid swinging across her back. He sighed and decided he couldn’t wait for the lazy person to actually leave the Inn. His pursuers were much too close and clever.

Rising, he took a few confidant steps toward the table, and then sent himself sprawling towards the boy, knocking them both to the floor; the hat consequently, and conveniently, knocked off his head. “Oh, I-I-I am-m-m s-s-so s-s-sorry,” he said. “M-M-Me a-a-and m-m-y c-c-clumsiness.” He wriggled forward and grabbed the hat, bunching it up into a ball in his fist.

“Get off me,” the boy protested.

Aeron clambered to his feet and, head bowed, he folded his arms behind his back, like a boy about to receive a scolding.

“Where’s my hat?” the boy cried, groping under the tables. His eyes narrowed and, standing, he pointed his finger at Aeron, and shouted, “You!”

“M-m-m-mee?” he said, gesturing towards himself. “I-I-I w-w-w-wouldn’t t-t-tak-ke a-a-anybody’s hat! Are y-you c-calling me a thief?” he shouted.

“Well where else could it be?”

“I n-never n-noticed a h-hat.”

“Never noticed a hat? Are you going blind? Where is it?”

Aeron, seeing the boy’s hand clench into a white-knuckled fist, decided that the time of lies had come to an end. He darted through the ring of people that had formed and bolted for the door, jumping over stray chairs, and dodging under tables. Suddenly, a hand gripped his collar and jerked him against the inn’s wall. A knot burrowed in the small of his back.

A man, green eyes still dull with a lingering hang-over, stared at him, his mighty arms pinning him against the wall. Without a word, he plucked the hat from his hand and gave it back to the boy. “W-w-wait! T-t-that’s my h-hat!” he cried, wriggling under the man’s grasp.

“You can drop the false stutter,” the man said.

“O-o-only if y-y-you l-l-let m-me go.”
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Old 03-21-2004, 10:26 PM   #22
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Tolkien Ædegard

Ædegard looked back as he passed over a rise in the land that lay on the horizon when he looked from town. The last outbuildings of town were about to fade from view. Ædegard sighed. He wondered how long it would be before he caught up to Mellon. And he wondered if it would even be possible to bring the mad blacksmith back. What if not? He could imagine a long journey ahead of him, and he knew not where it would lead.

He worried about his parents and Théolyn. He knew that he should not have told her he would be back shortly. She would be worriting about him until he returned. He shook his head and considered, not for the first time, turning his mount, and heading back home. Let the mad blacksmith do what he would. But Béthberry's words always came back to him. He would need a friend. And there is more going on here than it might seem. He wished he understood what she had meant.

Hours later, close to sunset, he still had not caught up to Mellon. He heard two sets of hooves behind him, though. He looked behind him. He wondered if they would be friend or foe. He loosened his sword.
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Old 03-21-2004, 10:45 PM   #23
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Eye Ravion

Ravion finished his breakfast and put the plate aside, leaning back against the wall and rubbing his aching head. Never again! As he swore off alcohol for the fourth time in as many weeks, something of a commotion started up a little ways away.

"Where's my hat?" demanded a boy, facing another youth--Ravion believed he had heard him called Faran--whose head was bowed and was in a submissive stance. Ravion watched in detached interest as the first boy accused Faran of stealing his hat, an accusation that was firmly denied by the youth in a stuttering voice. Ravion would have taken the accused's side, if he had thought that the stutter was genuine. This boy was accustomed to fakery, and that never boded well.

Just as the first boy pulled his hand back into a fist meant to knock out a few of Faran's teeth, Faran dodged and ran through the common room, making a dash for the door. Ravion stood up and strode quickly to the youth, grabbing him by his collar and pressing him against the wall. He stared evenly at the boy, wordlessly took the hat from him and passed it to its rightful owner, who looked more than a little stunned by the turn that events had taken. He stared at it for a moment, then bolted.

"W-w-wait! T-t-that’s my h-hat!" Faran cried, struggling against Ravion. The Ranger held him firm, moving only slightly despite the boy's wriggling.

"You can drop the false stutter," Ravion said dryly.

"O-o-only if y-y-you l-l-let m-me go," Faran replied, his struggling abating somewhat. Ravion raised an eyebrow, and loosened his grip a little. Not much, but a little. He locked eyes with the boy for a moment longer, a dispassionate stare that he found quite effective in intimidating people he needed to question, or just people who were getting on his nerves. After the moment had passed, he grabbed Faran's collar once again and marched him over to the table at which he had been seated.

He pushed the boy down into a seat and took a seat himself. He did not push back his hood: he thought that it rather gave the impression that he was trying to give the youth. They weren't sitting down for a friendly cup of tea.

"Thievery," he said, his voice casual. He made a wry face and took his glass of water, drinking it and wrinkling his forehead in pain. It was still quite cold.

"I d-d-didn't st-steal an-any-anything!" Faran protested. Ravion glanced at him from over his glass. The Ranger cleared his throat and placed his glass on the table slowly.

"I said to drop the stutter," Ravion said, his voice low and indicating that he was no longer playing games. He leaned over the table, eye-to-eye with Faran. "You don't know me. You probably wish you hadn't met me, that you had gotten to that door. In fact I know you do. But we did meet." He realized that he was drumming his fingers on his scabbard, and that Faran was glancing nervously at it. He forced his hands to be still on the table, and held his glass to keep them steady. "My name is Ravion. I am a Ranger. Don't look so surprised; there are still some of us around. Not many, though. You might wonder what we do now. Well, with very few orcs around, and only a small number of Easterlings and Southrons who want to cause trouble with our good King, I have to settle for a little less." He leaned in closer. "Trouble-makers like you."

He straightened up. "Now, I'll give you one chance to explain yourself. Tell me why this hat was so necessary to your survival," he said mockingly, sitting back in his chair, fingering his necklace, a white-green stone with a square hole in the center, tied to a leather strap. His fingers ran over his father's name, engraved on the back, as he awaited the youth's answer.
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Old 03-22-2004, 03:20 PM   #24
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

"Sunset is lovely," Liornung murmured, his gaze fixed to the west. A red and gold haze had fallen over Rohan, mingling with the colors of the grass. The fiddler's eyes were soft and dreamy, and Bellyn's eyes were sparkling. "How often I've wished to follow the setting sun to the West and see what lies there. Ah, but first the North, to Ædegard and the blacksmith. Is that not so, little Bellyn?"

Her hazel eyes were took in greedily all the land about them, and a slight flush had come to her pale cheeks. Her mouth was slightly open, probably in awe at the magnificent scenery, and she was unheeding of the strands of her dark hair that fell in her face. Studying her most carefully, Liornung concluded that she was not beautiful but she had lovely eyes. Which was well. Nobody could be really beautiful if they had ugly eyes, and only would their eyes be beautiful if they were kind and loving.

Those eyes turned and met his blue ones and, either forgetting or ignoring the sunset for a moment, she questioned him, saying, "Do you think we'll catch Ædegard soon?"

"Yes," he replied. "I don't think he will ride all night. And if he does, we can ride faster, though it would be a pity to tire our mounts so." Liornung's hand fell to the neck of his bay and he rubbed the mare gently. "Ædegard would not, I fancy, wish to tire his mounts either, despite his need of Freawine's advice concerning his gear. He'll probably keep it in mind the rest of the day." Liornung chuckled.

Bellyn hesitated a moment, her eyes studying the ground with unnecessary keenness. She seemed to have something on her mind, but apparently she desired to think it out a little before she said anything. Liornung was quite content to let her. He whistled softly to himself... softly so she would not hear and have her thoughts interrupted, but he was composing a little tune that would reflect the beauty of that sunset.

"Do you think, Liornung, that Ædegard is an unkind person?"

Liornung did not look surprised, annoyed, or even amused. He merely gazed most gravely at Bellyn. "Have you no opinion of your own?" he asked. His eyes locked on hers and he could see quite plainly what she thought of Ædegard. "Well," he said, smiling in a very charming fashion, "I think much the same as you about him. I don't think he's too bad. He did seem a bit short and sharp when he left earlier today, but I trust it was merely because he was anxious to begin and annoyed at the trouble of leaving. Leaving on a journey is very troubling, you know.

"Ah, look, Miss Bellyn, I see him now."

And there he was indeed. He had turned his horse a little and was facing them at an angle, his hand resting tentatively on the hilt of his sword. A suspicious frown was on his face, and as they drew closer to him he said, "Who are you?"

"That," said Liornung, a tinge of admiration in his voice, "was very brave. See, Miss Bellyn, how direct he was in asking us. Surely he isn't a coward." Liornung gave what clumsy bow he could from atop his horse and said, "I am Liornung, a wandering fiddler and this is Miss Bellyn, an artist and my companion. And we are both following you." Liornung seemed quite pleased that he had been equally as brave as Ædegard.

"And why were you following me?" Ædegard questioned.

"Because you're following the blacksmith and we were intending to, but we concluded it would be much easier to merely follow you. In fact, Master Freawine has given us permission to join your company, which I see consists merely of you and your horses. Do you fancy having four more horses and two more people with you, or should we continue following you?"

Ædegard hesitated at this very bold way of speaking. Surely if Freawine had given consent these two must be honest and not thieves, but were he to suppose there were lying about Freawine. "Can I trust that Freawine really said what you say he did?"

"I could lie, quite easily," Liornung said. "I heard your conversation with Freawine, and I could have merely remembered their names. It would be very simple. However I do not like to lie in general, and never in front of a lady." And he cast a very significant look at Bellyn. "I'm a wandering fiddler, as I said," he continued. "I can play a good tune on my fiddle and I'm told I have a fine voice. I was quite content to stay in Edoras for quite awhile longer but a dear friend of mine was very concerned about this blacksmith going north and he desired me to follow and see that no harm came to him, being the blacksmith, Master Ædegard. So as you see my reason for being here is very honest. I wish to do what this one I mentioned asked of me as well as that I wish to help this blacksmith if I can, and I have no intention of stealing any of your horses or harming you. Miss Bellyn here most graciously suggested that she guide me and help me track the blacksmith as I have no skill in it. To be very short and honest... Would you, Master Ædegard, let us come with you, or should we be content to follow you?"
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Old 03-22-2004, 04:38 PM   #25
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Blast. Of all things, he had to run afoul of a ranger -- a drunken ranger at that with a mocking mouth. It really was quite humiliating that a mere thief such as himself was lower than an orc. “I think its pretty low to assume that I’m a troublemaker and that I stole the hat,” he said. “Really, I would have expected better from a ranger.” He folded his arms across his chest and glowered at him.

“I have not yet received an explanation,” Ravion replied. “Why was that hat so necessary to your survival?”

Leaning back in his chair, Aeron replied, “Whoever said that the hat was necessary for my survival, and whoever said that I stole it? If you must know, the hat is actually my sister’s. Not only did that scurrilous boy insult her, he took the hat from her. My sister is a gentle creature,” he added with a soft smile. “You couldn’t really expect her to reclaim the hat herself, could you?”

The man gazed at him, his keen eyes searching Aeron’s own. It was as if the man was prying through him, scrutinizing every word he had uttered, trying to catch him in a falsehood. Words…always waiting to ensnare you.

“And what about the stutter, Faran?” Ravion asked, sipping from his mug.

Drat. How he did harp on that stutter. It baffled him that Ravion had been able to tell it was false…a stutter was a stutter, what could be simpler? Yet somehow he had sniffed him out, just like he would sniff out an enemy.

“I used to stutter many years ago and he would make mimic me in a mocking manner,” Aeron said. “I must be out of practice,” he added. “I broke the habit when I was young. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Aeron said, jumping to his feet, “I have business to attend to.”
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Old 03-22-2004, 09:42 PM   #26
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Silmaril MINAS TIRITH: Mellonin

Working at an Inn had its disadvantages, Mellonin decided. You heard all the news, but you also saw all the brawls.

The rightful owner of the hat had already fled; now it looked as though the thief intended to flee as well. Mellonin hoped that the Ranger had everything under control. She moved away from the pair, murmuring calm greetings to the patrons nearby, and straightening the chairs that had been knocked about. But the tension between the ranger and the thief was palpable.

"Raefindan, perhaps you'd care to investigate?" she murmured as she passed.

He gave her a blank look. "But I'm not the one who is curious."

"I wonder whether the Ranger might know something about my brother, " said Mellonin.

"Then you should ask him, " Raefindan replied.

"Please, " said Mellonin.

"All right. But why won't you ask him yourself?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's the boy. Maybe... I don't know."

Raefindan gave Mellonin another puzzled glance, and walked towards Ravion's table.
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Old 03-22-2004, 10:03 PM   #27
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Silmaril ROHAN: Mellon-Amroth

Long before Amroth wanted to stop running, his body forced him to. What had happened to his endurance? He felt weak, weary, vunerable.

Perhaps more had happened between his leap into the foam, and his arrival at Edoras, then he strictly remembered. Either way, he needed physical rest. In fact he needed to sleep... again. He shook his head, but the weariness would not be fought off. He slowed to a walk, and studied his surroundings. Were he in a forest, he would sleep in a tree. But this was an open plain. He had not cared about hiding his tracks, for he had not anticipated being off his guard.

He left the soft turf and walked on rocky terrain, til he found a stream, which he waded in for several hundred yards. Then he turned uphill, and followed a rocky ledge for a quarter mile. It ended in a rocky outcropping that offered shelter from the wind, and from prying eyes. He found the flattest spot and stretched full-length on the ground. Dismissing all other thoughts, he reached northward, searching for the familiar touch of her mind even as he slipped into dreams.
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Old 03-23-2004, 12:37 PM   #28
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have business to attend to." Faran leapt to his feet, more than eager to get away from the half-drunk Ranger who had assaulted him. Ravion rolled his eyes in a long-suffering sort of way and grabbed Faran by the arm, forcing him back into his seat.

"First off, shouldn't you take things one step at a time? Whatever business you have to attend to can wait until our business is done." Faran sighed deeply, leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest. "And sit up straight. Sitting straight and walking tall shows people that you have your dignity, if nothing else." Ravion's eyes went distant for a moment, and he hoped that Faran could not tell that with that sentance, he was no longer talking about the youth. He ran his hand through his hair, breaking out of his reverie, and looked at Faran. Sensing that the boy was about to make a break for it, he added, "Even if you are a thief."

His repetition of that accusation was apparently rubbing Faran the wrong way. With a look of exasperation, he exclaimed, "I've told you again and again, I'm not a--"

"--not a thief. You've told me again and again, and I've heard you again and again. I may be a little hung over, but I'm neither deaf nor stupid, regardless of what you may think of me. Nor am I inexperienced. I saw the look on your face when you were quarrelling with that boy. You think I've never stolen anything before?" He broke off abruptly at that, wondering why he had admitted that to Faran. Not only did it diminish him in the eyes of the youth, but the circumstances had been different. Very different! If he hadn't stolen that horse, he never would have gotten to the battle on time...besides, it wasn't like the man hadn't had more than enough horses. And he would have returned the horse, but he couldn't find the man after the war was over...

He glared at Faran, both challenging and wary, waiting for the boy's response. If there was so much as a smirk on Faran's face, he'd slap it off of him.
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Old 03-23-2004, 02:21 PM   #29
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Minas Tirith: Raefindan

Raefindan watched the Ranger rise from the table quickly and block the youth's way. The youth glowered at him.

Raefindan knew that he should have made Mellonin take responsibility for her own curiosity, but he couldn't help being gallant. Responsibility. Gallant. More words they don't use much around here. Raefindan shook his head and came up to the Ranger and laid a hand on the youth's shoulder.

"Ravion? Greetings. I am Raefindan. I see you have the youth well in hand."

The youth turned a baleful eye on Raefindan. "Unhand me, barhop!"

"He needs to be taken well in hand," the Ranger responded. "Well met, Raefindan." The Ranger kept an eye on the youth. What do you say we do a Frodo and Sam to this Gollum?" The youth looked positively indignant.

Raefindan's eyes went wide. "Did you say Frodo and Sam? I've heard those names before! And a clever idea at that, if I take you aright."

"I should hope so! They're famous. If you hadn't, I would wonder where you'd hidden these last few years."

They walked the youth to a chair and sat him down, then pulled a pair of chairs away from the table and placed one on each side of him, and talked over him.

"This is not funny! It's unjust! You have no right to hold me this way!"

Raefindant talked over the youth's protests. "That's just the thing, Ravion. I don't know where I've been before about a week ago. Yet it's positively amazing what I recognize and recall. Such as Frodo of the Nine Fing- now see there? You didn't even say that, yet I remember vividly! It's as if I was at the Cracks of Doom myself!"

"I would not envy you that," Ravion replied. "Speaking of things forgotten and remembered, there was something I was supposed to say here."

Just then the youth bolted. He scrambled under the table, forcing the two tall men to pivot around it. The youth sprinted for the door and looked like he was going to make a clean getaway. A foot appeared before the door and tripped him, sending him sprawling. Ravion was right behind the youth. He sat on him.

"Good work, Mellonin. Clever of you to sneak around and cut off the boy's escape."

"I have a name, you know," the youth said in an injured tone.

"Let's have it then," Raefindant said.

"Faran. Not Gollum, thank you very much."

Rohan: Mellon/Amroth

Ædegard regarded Liornung and Bellyn. A fiddler minstrel and an artist. The artist could track. And he being a wheelwright added a perfect third to the triangle of seemingly worthless skills for catching a mad blacksmith. He shook his head. Better to have them near where he could keep an eye on them than out of sight and a possible danger. Or distraction. Of course, their music and talk might prove distraction enough as it was. This Liornung certainly had a gift for turning a simple thought into a spun out string of endless words. It might just prove to be an overtiresome companionship. He would have to make the best of it.

"You may come with me. If the lady can track, as you say, that is good." He turned north without another word and let them catch up to him. He was not about to make conversation. It was not his way, unless he was in a tavern and at least one good pint down his gullet to loosen his tongue. Wheelwrighting was silent work, and he liked it so. Tracking a mad blacksmith had all the appearance of being a tongue wagging time. He hoped not.
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Old 03-23-2004, 06:22 PM   #30
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Silmaril MINAS TIRITH: Mellonin

Mellonin considered Ravion. "Welcome, sir, to the Seventh Star. I'd offer you a seat but it seems you've found one; although you might prefer something that thrashes less?"

Ravion gave Mellonin a cold stare. She turned her attention to his captive. "These rangers... Very difficult to argue with, aren't they? Especially when they've had an ale or two. I don't envy you in the least."

Ravion's gaze softened just a little. She looked back at him. "Can I get you an ale, sir? Assuming you're quite comfortable?"

"Not very. But I'll take the ale." He fished a coin out of his pocket, and tossed it to Mellonin.

She turned back to the thief. "And you? Are you going to buy a drink as well?"

The lad glared at her and shook his head. "Up to you, " Mellonin said. "But sir, if you wouldn't mind waiting just a little for that ale--"

Ravion looked up at her, with a slight shrug. She disappeared out the door.

"All right. You can let me up now, " Faran said.

"I don't have my ale," said Ravion.

Mellonin returned carrying a bucket and said, "Perhaps if you shift him so his head is outside the door--"

Raefindan and Ravion shared a quick grin. Ravion caught Faran by one arm and Raefindan took the other, and Faran kicked in protest while they dragged him outside. Then they held him down again, and Mellonin slowly and carefully poured the bucket of icy well-water over the lad's head.

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Old 03-23-2004, 09:11 PM   #31
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Not quite surprised at Ædegard's grumpy persona, Bellyn shrugged as the man trotted off without much approval of her or Liornung. The artist followed Liornung's lead as his horse went off to catch up with Ædegard. Bellyn had seen many interactions between people at the Inns she'd been to, but she was most intrigued by the complete contrast between Liornung and Ædegard. The three went on their route north, and to Bellyn the adventure seemed incredibly surreal, for all the places she'd drawn on maps or for her own art were alive in front of her for the first time. Colors were more distinct, sounds and smells began to fit into the visions Bellyn had drawn so many times, and Bellyn felt at home even in the new environment.

"Liornung?" Bellyn prompted, and the fiddler looked over at her expectantly. His blue eyes were sparkling like the stars she'd seen many nights walking home after spending long hours in an Inn drawing. "You've been around many people..." Bellyn murmured, but quickly continued after realizing how strange her comment was. "What I mean is, you know how to speak to others and change if you have to so that everyone is comfortable. How is it that Ædegard doesn't seem very amiable, but you know how to interact and, well...deal with other people?"

"Deal? You say it as if it were a deck of cards that must be handled in order to get any good out of a game," Liornung pointed out, and Bellyn's pale cheeks flushed.

"Is that not how it is though?" Bellyn wondered, looking up ahead to Ædegard. "We speak with him only so that we do not have to stalk him like a hungry dog. And, like cards, it makes things easier for us, in a way." Bellyn stopped short, feeling silly for defending such a notion, even if it were her own. "I've spent long days alone at the different Inns, watching people talk and laugh and get in fights and arguments." The girl explained, hoping Liornung would understand or not think her crazy in the process.

"Perhaps sir Ædegard is not used to company, as you are not," Liornung offerred. Bellyn thought on this as Liornung continued. "Certainly he is not used to the company of complete strangers. Maybe he wishes to pursue this task alone. Whatever the reason, we do not know Ædegard well enough to make quick judgements," Liornung finished, stroking his horse's mane. Bellyn nodded and felt admiration towards Liornung for being so subtle and caring in his words, and after talking to him Bellyn always felt like she'd learned a bit of a lesson.

"In any case," Bellyn thought aloud, looking over at Liornung once more. "You're completely right. I should not judge on first impressions. I just hope Ædegard can learn to trust us."
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Old 03-23-2004, 11:07 PM   #32
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

Ravion kept a tight grip on Faran's arm as water gushed from Mellonin's bucket onto the young would-be thief's head. Oh, but how the boy struggled and thrashed...but with Ravion on one side, and Raefindan on the other, he had no means of escaping the cascade.

As Faran spluttered and spat, Ravion glanced at Mellonin. He hoped that she was not offended by his curt, somewhat cold manner when they were introduced, but something about her gave him pause. He could not pinpoint it, or even, if asked, tell what sense it was that told him something was not altogether aright. He could not say his 'heart', or his 'gut', or any of those physical terms used to describe an odd, unnamed sensation. It was not that in appearance she was anything out of the norm, but something about her had caught his eye when he entered the Inn, and something about her now set him off his ease. If it did not sound like he was out of his wits, he might have said that when he saw her, something came up behind him and touched him, telling him to watch this girl--she was something different entirely.

So as Faran thrashed around, he watched Mellonin from just below his eyelids, hoping that she did not notice, but unable to look back at the youth that he was now having more trouble holding in check. What was it about her?
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Old 03-23-2004, 11:37 PM   #33
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Things were not going well, to say the least. Aeron writhed under the stream of icy water that flowed over his head and slithered under his shirt in rivers. “Stop it,” he shrieked. He would have said more, but the chilled water gagged him. Coughing and spluttering, he felt himself heaved to his feet and thrown into a chair. “Villains!” he gasped, wiping his dripping hair from his eyes. “Fine! I tried to steal the hat!”

His breath heaving, and his clothes clinging to him like the feathers of a bedraggled bird, he glared at the three people who had foiled his catch and kept him prisoner. His heart chilled and his eyes darted to the door. If they found out the true reason about why I tried to steal that hat…

He glared at each one of them under his brows. The man Raefindan with the scarlet hair. A snicker escaped him as the thought of his sister flitted across his mind. But who was he? No race of Middle-earth that he had heard of had this colour hair. He felt a bright beam of inspiration: unless he had discovered a fabulous root and had somehow dyed it. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the thin man. It was would have been much better if he, instead of Ravion, had caught him. In Raefindan’s hands, he would have been like a slippery fish. He shrugged. Nothing for it now.

He stared at Mellonin with the air of an injured puppy. She, of all people, had been the one to drive him to his ruin. It was her foot that had kicked escape away from him, her hand that had guided the bucket. And what had he ever done to her? “Why ever did you do it, milady?” He asked.

“I thought you could do with a good bath,” she answered, her eyes twinkling.

Naturally.

Ravion: Aeron’s eyes nearly disappeared under his frown; all that remained was a malignant glint. The man was shrewd, keen to see the web of lies that Aeron had woven, and he had the weight of an blasted oxe fattened for slaughter. Aeron’s back still ached when the man had sat on him: sat on him . At the humiliating thought, he flushed crimson and slouched in his chair. What was it the brute had been saying to him before Raefindan had interrupted? You think I’ve never stolen anything before? Aeron’s head snapped back, and the frown faded. The man had stolen as well. But why was it alright for him to steal? Because he was a ranger? At the thought, the frown instantly settled again, while his lips curled into a smirk. So this is what this ranger was: a man who spoke high words disapproving of the thief, yet who participated in the deed himself. Aeron laughed. The man was nothing but rising bread dough.

“I suppose you wouldn’t care to divulge your real name to us?” Ravion said, his face full of boredom.

Aeron considered protesting the question, but then decided another bath wasn’t worth the trouble. “Aeron,” he replied.
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Old 03-24-2004, 05:42 PM   #34
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1420! Minas Tirith: Mellonin

Apparently the boy expected to be called Aeron now, instead of Faran. Mellonin wondered whether the name change was a daily occurance. Aeron's eyes smouldered with resentment, and the ranger looked less than happy. Raefindan was a little on the damp side.

Mellonin smiled brightly, and turned to the ranger. "Well, good sir, " and she fished the coin out of her pocket and juggled it in her hand, "your patience is remarkable, and now I will hasten to bring you your due." She went to the bar and poured a large frothy ale. Then she went to the counter, and reached underneath for the bag to deposit the coin.

Somehow, it settled differently. Her eyes came up above the counter and she glared at the boy, still seated between the ranger and the red-haired man; the hatless, hapless thief met her gaze, and froze.

Holding his gaze, she picked up the bag. Hefting it, she paced one step at a time from behind the counter towards the threesome. Ravion watched her approach.

She picked up a dirty soup bowl in her free hand as she walked past a table. Morien saw what she was carrying, and came to watch. Ravion moved nearer the boy, guessing he would bolt.

Mellonin drew up a small table near the three . She put the bowl and the bag on the table, and then drew up a chair and sat facing Aeron. . Ravion glared, Raefindan tried not to laugh, and Aeron tried to look innocent. Mellonin put her elbows on the table, interlaced her fingers and rested her chin on her knuckles. "What have we here, hmmmm? Perhaps you can tell me."

Aeron shrugged.

Mellonin opened the drawstring, and slowly poured the contents of the bag into the dirty soup bowl. From the very top of the bag, several coins dropped out, clinking muddily into the film of soup. The coins were followed by a steady clatter of pebbles and stones.

Mellonin set the empty bag down beside the bowl of rocks, put her chin back onto her knuckles, raised her eyebrows and smiled at the boy.
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Old 03-25-2004, 07:33 PM   #35
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Just when it couldn’t have gotten any worse. Aeron watched the dirty stones and pebbles clatter into the bowl with a sinking heart. Mellonin tossed the bag away and then watched him with a mocking smile. “It’s odd that coins and stones would be mixed together in a money bag,” he observed. He leaned back in his chair, raised his eyebrows, and stared at Mellonin.

“I was hoping you could explain that,” she said with a small smile.

Aeron glanced at her, his spirits sagging under the heavy gaze of his three opponents. Why did it have be this way? He should have just taken the inn money and gone back home...He shook his head. He had broken one of the principal laws of thievery and now he was receiving his just rewards. “And what makes you think I have anything to do with this?” Aeron asked, resisting the urge to fidget. He would have bolted through the nearby window, but Ravion or Raefindan would have caught him, and maybe subjected him to a worse deed than a bucket of water. A thrashing perhaps. Aeron’s smile faltered at the thought. Tracing the grain of the wooded table with a grimy finger, he said, glancing at Ravion and cocking an accusatory eyebrow at him, “I’m not the only thief in the Inn.”
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Old 03-25-2004, 09:35 PM   #36
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Tolkien Mellon/Amroth - Ædegard

Ædegard took advantage of Liornung's seeming desire to ride next to him.

"Do you have a plan as to what to do when we catch him?"

"I was planning to play it by ear."

Ædegard smirked. "I would expect nothing other from a minstrel."

The sun was just above the horizon then Ædegard saw the figure he had been looking for all that day, and hoping not to find. He sighed and pointed. Liornung and Bellyn followed his gaze.

"I don't think we want to startle him with whooping and hollering," Ædegard said. "Shall we surround him?"
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Old 03-25-2004, 10:58 PM   #37
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MINAS TIRITH: Ravion

Ravion tensed as Aeron quieted, running his finger along the table. The boy had a light in his eye that unnerved the Ranger. "I’m not the only thief in the Inn," he said slowly as he glanced self-righteously at Ravion.

Ravion's eyes widened and he lunged at Aeron, only to be restrained by Raefindan. He cursed that he had let slip to the boy his past transgressions, and he pictured his hands around Aeron's throat. He struggled mildly against Raefindan, but did not put much heart into it. He paused for a moment then broke free of Raefindan's grip and leaned in toward Aeron.

"There may be more than one thief in this Inn," he said in a low voice, "but shall we make a competition of it? There is more to thievery than simply taking a purse. The other, more violent aspects, in all fairness--honor among thieves, you might even say--I would have to advise you that it would be unwise to contest me in."

Without taking his eyes off of Aeron, he addressed Mellonin. "Good lady, it is clear to me that you have enough wisdom to see through the boy's lies, but on my honor I will swear to you that I have taken nothing from this Inn that is not paid for. What has caused this boy to accuse me, I do not know." The muscles in his jaw clenched with the stress of his restrained fury, and his green eyes cast about, until they came to rest on Aeron's pocket. Something sparkled faintly in it. With another quick lunge, before Aeron could react, Ravion pulled out a necklace.

"I think that someone would be glad to know who is in possession of this," he said casually, twisting the pearl necklace around his fingers, a smile playing on his lips. He glanced up at Aeron. The youth's eyes were wide in terror, and fury. Ravion's smile faded and his voice became deadly serious. "Here me this, boy. You have disturbed what otherwise might have been a pleasant morning for me. My head is aching ferociously, and I blame you in large measure for that. You have done damage to my reputation, and caused a lady much trouble. I have every right, and I daresay I am almost obliged as a Ranger, to turn you in to the authorities for your thievery." He tightened his grip on the necklace, and Aeron gasped, afraid that the Ranger's rough, strong fingers would snap the fragile piece of jewelry.

Ravion struggled a bit with himself before continuing, for he knew that it was likely to sound odd, and he wasn't sure what Mellonin and Raefindan would say. "I should turn you in. But I'm not going to. I'm not sure why yet. By rights, by law, you should be in prison now. But you can have my protection. On the condition," he added quickly, before Aeron got too much hope, "that I have your obedience. Whatever may come to pass, whatever travels I go on, you will follow me and do as I bid. Otherwise, this goes back to its rightful owner, and you go straight to jail." He showed Aeron the necklace again. "What say you?"

Last edited by Orual; 03-25-2004 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 03-26-2004, 01:06 PM   #38
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung

Liornung frowned at Ædegard's proposal and shook his head. "None of this whooping and hollering now," he said, a hint of sharpness in his voice. "Good Master Secgrof sent me to help this blacksmith, not frighten him to death. I agree to surround him, but we will not cause any trouble for him."

A defiant frown came to Ædegard's face, but Liornung gazed into his eyes, undaunted. Liornung rarely exerted authority over others, but he was quite stubborn in this point. He thought it would be easiest to frighten the blacksmith so much that he could not run, but how was he to write the song of it for Old Secgrof without blushing with shame.

"Master Liornung." Ædegard's voice was tense and full of anger though he restrained it admirably. "I would bid you remember what I spoke before. I am in agreement with you. If you recall I said I did not wish to startle the blacksmith with loud shouts." A dangerous flicker came to Ædegard's eyes, but Liornung's face immediately softened.

"My good Ædegard, a habit I accumulated during my lonely wanderings of talking to myself. I think you suggestion is a most admirable one. My mind, however, was inclined to scare the blacksmith so much that he could not move, and it was myself that I reproved just now, not you." He blushed a deep crimson and hung his head. "I will keep a closer guard on my tongue, and so I hope my mind, from now on. Please forgive the misunderstanding and let us proceed with your plan."

Ædegard nodded in satisfaction, but a scowl remained on his face as he urged his horse on. Liornung let his bay fall in stride with Bellyn's steed and he sighed deeply. "Miss Bellyn, I fear the impression I make upon Master Ædegard grows worse and worse. I must watch myself most carefully. I'm not alone anymore." And again he sighed most bitterly.

"Master Liornung," Bellyn said, her voice slow, almost in a manner that her voice was uncertain though it rang with confidence, "if you should have looked in Ædegard's eyes I believe you would have seen what I did. I think he admired that humble confession and apology whatever else he may think of you. Don't give up hope."

"I," said Liornung most firmly, "never give up hope." And, all his good humor restored, he winked at Bellyn and moved his horse alongside of Ædegard's as they closed in on the blacksmith.
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Old 03-26-2004, 01:24 PM   #39
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Shield Rohan: Mellon-Amroth

Hoofbeats thudding on the cold ground warned him of approaching horses. They were close. Why had he not heard them further off? He turned, suprised.

He gazed, wondering. Who were they? Why could he not see their faces more clearly? He shaded his eyes, staring, but could not tell. Something had happened to his vision and to his hearing both; they were faded, indistinct. He shook his head as if to clear it, and looked again. He still could not make out their faces.

But one, on an aged bay horse, reminded him of Aedegard in bearing and stature; with a smile, he nodded. Indeed. The tall chestnut that he led was a handsome animal, and Amroth smiled. The young wheelwright had been most kind, and he would not forget it....

Amroth bent his thoughts toward the chestnut. Greetings, my young friend; welcome and well-met. I have need of thee. By your leave, we should not tarry; we have far to go.

The chestnut snorted, and his head came up. Ædegard had time to give him one puzzled look and say "Easy, Echo, whoa boy" before the chestnut spun to face him, planted his front feet, dropped his head, and with a twist, ducked out of the headstall. Ædegard was left holding a rope with an empty headstall dragging on the ground. The chestnut galloped straight to the young blacksmith, and stopped; the young blacksmith leaped onto the chestnut's back, and the chestnut turned north.

"Wait! Echo, whoa. Ho! Echo, stand! Mellon, give me back my horse!"

The blacksmith turned to Ædegard, puzzled. "You did not intend this horse for me? I misunderstood you."

"No. That is, I-- just where are you going with my horse?"

"To Lothlorien."
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Old 03-26-2004, 02:51 PM   #40
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Lothlorien: Erebemlin

From the well-tended floor of the golden forest, the world was silent but for the occasional scratching of a squirrel or the tap of a woodpecker searching for food. The leaves of the mellyrn had turned to a brilliant golden hue with late autumn. In the up most silver branches of a one of the towering trees a wide platform was nestled securely. The golden leaves surrounded the talan tightly though they left room for one to stand and move upon it with ease. The flet was unseen from below and above, giving its inhabitant, Erebemlin, the privacy and protection he desired.

The Sinda sat in complete silence letting his mind wander through the forest. Twice this day he had encountered thoughts that were not his own. Although the meeting was brief, too brief to discern their intent with any accuracy, Erebemlin could feel the power of the one who sent them. They seemed to be searching, for what, the Sinda knew not, but he was sure he was not their target. Now he opened his own mind and searched for that which touched him.

They are gone from the forest…shall they ever return? He did not know, but he hoped for they seemed familiar. The Sinda could not put his finger on it, but the thoughts were almost…intimate.

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