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Old 08-11-2007, 10:21 AM   #81
Imladris
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"Gwyll did not mention Mellonin," Aeron said. "I am sorry."

He did as Raefindan had told him. There was silence among the others for a few minutes. "Normally, I wouldn't suggest splitting up," said Aeron, "but Gwyllion was quite sure that the women are safe (well, as safe as one can be in the wilds), now that TharonwŰ has Indil. Perhaps a few of us, Ădegard, Liornung and Ravion, could go after the women, and the rest after TharonwŰ." He looked apologetically at Raefindan, and said, "I don't think it would be wise to have only four of us go after TharonwŰ, he is dangerous and I do not think it would be cowardly to bring as many as we can with us."
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Old 08-12-2007, 04:25 AM   #82
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"What you say makes sense," Raefindan said.

Together they moved back toward the others, and laboriously closed the distance between each searcher until they had joined into one group, taking much longer than Raefindan cared for. As Roy Edwards he would have called it a good hour wasted.

Raefindan explained Aeron's dream to the others, and his thought to split up, using Aeron's suggestion.

"What of my sister?" Mellondu asked, his brow furrowing.

"I'm sorry, Mellondu, but Gwyll said nothing about her."

"It is time to resume the quest of Amroth," Erebemlin said. "Tharonwë, fool that he is, leads us to her, and we must not lose his trail. Time is against us."

Ravion spoke up. "I'm going to find Mellonin."

Mellondu took an aggressive step toward him. "What gives you the right?"

Erebemlin stepped between them and looked down at Mellondu. "You have a doom on you with Amroth, he does not. Be grateful that he offers to find your sister in your stead."

Mellondu scowled but subsided.

"I'll go with Ravion," said Liornung.

"As will I," Ædegard added.

"Then the rest of us," Raefindan said, "will go after Tharonwë. And Ravion can track us and rejoin us. Is there any objection?"
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Old 08-17-2007, 08:34 PM   #83
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Roused by Raefindan's concern, Bergil's first reaction to Indil's disappearance was purely instinctive: he began to search for tracks. Even as he was fumbling with his swordbelt, he was examining the space where Indil had been sleeping, and saw, to his dismay, that Indil had apparently wandered off of her own accord.

Bergil knew, from experience in Ithilien, that Elves are near-impossible, if not completely so, to track, and if Indil had been accompanied by an Elf, as he feared, remembering the escape of TharonwŰ, she had not been coerced forcibly, but had walked off on her own feet.

This was unlike the girl, Bergil thought grimly. Indil had never evinced the slightest inclination to wander or leave the company, but had rather sought the reassurance of being kept close, mainly to himself or Raefindan. Then it occured to Bergil that what had initially brought Indil to their company had been her apparent wandering away from home.

Cursing himself for not anticipating another such episode, Bergil pressed on, out of earshot of the camp, rather foolishly leaving the others without a word. His left hand was tightly clasped on the pommel of his sword, strapped to his side, as he surveyed the trail. Indil had moved slowly, not hurriedly, and her trail gave no sign of fear or confusion, but led surely away from the camp, as if she knew where she were going.

If that vile Elf had caught her, Bergil feared to think what he might have done. The thought of an Elf who was not only powerful enough to break out of the King's prison, but dangerous enough to need to be put there in the first place, was not only frightening, but seemed a particularly gross aberration of nature. Even so were the first orks moulded, so the tales said, from Elves twisted by the Dark Lord. Bergil shuddered, remembering half-forgotten images, sounds, and the rotten stench of the siege of Minas Tirith during the war, and of more recent memories forged on the boundaries of Ithilien, where orks still came down from the Ephel D˙ath to harry the returning settlers.

Thoughts of such evil, combined with the potent skill and power of the Eldar race, gave speed to Bergil's thumping heart, and slowed his steps with caution. If he were to encounter TharonwŰ, the young ranger knew not what he might do or try, for he knew he was no match for the Elf alone, but fear for Indil and anger at her apparent capture would not permit to do nothing in her aid.

Bergil had not gone far when he reached the point where Indil had stopped. Though the only signs of the Elf's presence might be interpreted in hundreds of ways, as nothing more than the action of wind or the natural growth of the underbrush, Indil's marks were clear: the girl had been lifted off the ground, and from her marks, had continued from the area with less freedom to her steps. They were more harried now, as though she were keeping pace with a much taller person, and while they lacked firmness of purpose, they led in a straight line as though some other force were directing her steps.

Bergil straitening, pausing, not certain what to do. His instincts, after years of training in Ithilien, urged him to continue while the trail was hot, and he burned to think of leaving Indil in TharonwŰ's grip any longer than necessary, but he knew he could not help her alone, and that the others would worry if he went missing also. With regret, and yet with relief at not having to pursue TharonwŰ just yet, Bergil returned back to the camp, arriving not fifteen minutes after he had left.

As he came into listening distance, he could hear Erebemlin speaking to Mellondu. "You have a doom on you with Amroth, he does not. Be grateful that he offers to find your sister in your stead." Glancing about, Bergil could see that he was the last of the company to regroup.

"I'll go with Ravion," Liornung was saying.

"As will I," Ădegard added.

"Then the rest of us," Raefindan said, "will go after TharonwŰ. And Ravion can track us and rejoin us. Is there any objection?"

"Only this," said Bergil, rejoining the group quietly. "I have found Indil's trail, and I have no doubt in my mind that it is TharonwŰ that has taken her. If this is so, then would it not be better to have as many as possible to combat him?"

"More swords will not help in such a fight," said Erebemlin. "Raefindan's doom seems tied to that of Indil, and he would not suffer to go on another errand. Mellondu and I have a duty to Amroth, and we, Amroth and I, alone can fight TharonwŰ. If the others wish to seek the ladies, their absence will neither hinder us nor help us. You, Ranger Bergil, I would prefer to aid us by helping track them, as Ravion wishes to seek Mellonin. You can follow TharonwŰ's trail?"

"He drags Indil by the hand," said Bergil, "and as long as he continues to do so, I shall have no difficulty."

"Then let us depart, for TharonwŰ has already had some hours to put space between us."

Grabbing his gear from the ground, Bergil began to hurriedly collect his bedroll and other supplies.

"And you, Aeron?" Bergil asked the boy, "I have not heard clearly, and Erebemlin did not include you in our number, but I believe you wish to come with our party?"

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Old 08-20-2007, 05:05 PM   #84
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Aeron frowned at Bergil's question. In truth he had not thought of it, for it had seemed obvious that he would go after TharonwŰ with the others. The elf must be brought to justice, and, as far as he was concerned, he was wily and sly and they would need all they could to track him.

On the other hand, his sister had found the women. Maybe they would need his sister's help again and if he was gone then there would be no way they could be alerted if they had gone astray from the women.

He touched the bit of hair around his neck. The elf must be found. Indil must be safe, lest she suffer the same fate as Gwyllion.

But the women, lost and alone. Ravion was an excellent ranger. Surely he could track them easily enough. Could he not?

"I mean to go after the elf," he said finally.
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:50 PM   #85
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So it was that Ravion, Liornung, and Ădegard separated from the others, who followed the trail of Indil farther up the heights of the White Mountains.

Ravion led the way and Ădegard took up the rear as they meandered through the wooded clefts and dales of the knees of the mountains. Ădegard wondered what Leafa and Bellyn had been doing up in these parts. Or had TharonwŰ brought them up this far?

It was not long before Ravion hailed the other two and showed them signs two woman sized paths in the ground. "They cannot be far. These trails are fresh."

They redoubled their pace. They stopped briefly to rest and eat with the sun high overhead, then gave chase again. After a few hours they caught a brief glimpse of a pair of walkers far on the ridge of the next slope. Ravion urged them not to hail them, but now they moved even faster. Now they caught a glimpse of the pair at the bottom of the valley they were about to enter. The shadows were lengthening.

It was less than an hour later that Ravion finally gave the other two his permission to hail the pair, and Liornung and Ădegard called after them loudly. The pair turned and looked back. It was Bellyn and Leafa. Bright smiles leapt to their faces, but they did not come running back. Instead they pointed toward something ahead that the men could not see. With a will, the men raced up and joined the two women. After a brief exchange of embraces, the women pointed. There nestled below them, in a clearing, was a hut or cottage of some kind. They approached.
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:57 PM   #86
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Rugh had been squatting for quite some time just outside the clearing surrounding the cottage, still as a statue. After a time, the dog had laid down and dozed off. The hours passed, the sun going from high noon onto evening, but still the woman had not emerged from her cottage. Rugh could wait; time as the Tall Men marked it meant little to him.

Then abruptly he stood. The signs were there, for those who could read them: reactions from the birds and insects were the most visible, but it was deeper than that, and Rugh knew as clearly as if the mountains had shouted out to him that there were people nearby: Tall Men. The dog scarcely missed a beat, following as Rugh set off in an easterly direction. After several minutes he came to a mountain ridge where he stopped. Some distance away there stood two women, and beyond them three men, two dark and one fair. It was as if they brought with them some dim resonance, and while they were not the one causing the strange rumors of the earth, they somehow seemed associated with them. The intensity of Rugh's gaze deepened. They were not welcome here in his Mountains, heralds of trouble as they were. The two and the three greeted each other strangely, holding each other then gesturing about as they spoke briefly. It was clear that the cottage was the subject.

One of the men glanced uneasily over his shoulder at one point, seeming to feel Rugh's ruthless gaze but, of course, seeing nothing. Probably assumed it was nothing, Rugh thought in contempt. The Tall Men only paid heed to their senses when hit over the head with them.

As the group turned and headed for the hut of the cruel Tall Woman, the wind shifted, bringing the scent of the intruders to the nose of the dog by his side, who hitherto had only watched Rugh with mild interest. Immediately the dog's ears perked and with a loud Arooo he set off toward the group without even a look back at Rugh. A shadow seemed to pass over Rugh's face; so this dog had not been completely wild, even recognized these Men. Bad dog not see Tall Men bad.

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Old 08-25-2007, 07:47 AM   #87
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Jorje Tirril

Onepaw! Jorje let out an Arooo and ran up the slope, his tongue tasting the late day breeze.

Onepaw settled on his haunches as Jorje came up and lofted himself into Onepaw's forelegs. Onepaw laughed. "Jorje!" he cried. "What are you doing way up here?"

Jorje licked happily at Onepaw's face. "The riverwoman sent me to find you and warn you of eeerm!" But where was Redman?

"What's the matter, boy?" Onepaw asked, having heard the whine in Jorje's voice.

"I thought I sensed something out there," Tracker said. "It must have been Jorje. Good dog!"

"To the mancave!" Jorje called.

"What do you think he's barking about?" asked Bellwoman.

Sometimes these humans could be so short in the nose! Jorje trotted off to the mancave, got up on his hind legs, and scratched at the door. Onepaw was the first to come and see him that way.

"Is someone inside?"

Jorje went down on all fours and lapped the air, looking up at Onepaw, saying yes! with every inch of his body.

"Ravion! Liornung!" Onepaw called (such hard bends to their mouths these humans barked), "There's someone in here!"

The others came out of the foliage. "There's a horse running loose," Tracker commented. "There are hoofprints all over the place."

"Who do you think it might be?" OneEar asked, looking at the door.

"It's Manwoman! Manwoman! Manwoman!" Jorje said.

"Jorje sure is excited," Liornung said. "Maybe it's someone he knows. Do you suppose it might be Mellonin?"

"Yes! Yes! Manwoman! Manwoman!" Jorje insisted.

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Old 09-08-2007, 08:52 AM   #88
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The moment the thought took hold that Mellonin might possibly be inside the hut, Ravion took decisive action. He stepped forward and knocked on the door. There was no answer. The others waited with bated breath. Jorje, unable to bate his breath, panted eagerly, his ears back in anticipation.

Suddenly the door opened outward, knocking Ravion backward into the others. A blonde banshee came screaming out with a staff in both hands, flailing furiously in all directions. Jorje got out of the way and cried "Back! Back! Watch out! Back away!" but his focus changed to the madwoman and he cried, "Stop! Stop! Stop! Or I'll bite your legrrrrrr!!! Stop!"

"Surround her!" Ravion yelled. "And stay out of reach!"

The others caught on and soon Ravion, Liornung, Bella, Leafa, and Ădegard had made a circle around her. Jorje decided to help. He rushed in from behind and nipped at her heels, driving her from her hut. Soon she was breathing hard, her staff not moving slower, her eyes casting from one to the other balefully.

"You four keep her busy while I check the hut!"

The woman screamed and lurched toward Ravion's retreating form but Jorje and the others closed in and she was forced to defend against the likelihood of being wrestled down by four pairs of arms and one strong jaw, and went back to standing her ground.

Ravion went in the hut. The others waited, tension in the air between them.

"It's her! She's hurt!"

"Woman," growled Ădegard, "what did you do to her?"

"Stay away from me! Leave me and my mountain!" the woman cried in the Eorling tongue.

"She's Eorling!" cried Ădegard. He repeated his question in the Eorling speech, and she answered him. "She says that Mellonin was riding hard and reckless through the woods and fell off her horse. When she did not wake, she brought her into her hut."

Ravion came back out, his face pale. "She is not well. I fear for her life."

"This woman is no enemy," Ădegard said, "although she may not be altogether sane. I think she means no harm." It took much time and patience to convince the woman that they meant her no harm. The sun was setting by the time she laid down her quarterstaff and allowed them to relax their vigilance, and all six of them took a look - or a good smell - at Mellonin. Together they judged that she should not be moved, and should not be coaxed awake since she slept so deeply. They also decided that a few of them shold remain with Mellonin.

Ădegard and Leafa decided that it would be best if they stayed behind. This was a change in Ădegard's point of view, he admitted, having before said that his fate was with Mellondu. When asked what had changed, he had no ready answer until he raised his stump. "My call to be with Mellondu was when he had few others. Now he has many friends and allies. And I can be of little use to him. My fate is with Leafa now, I deem."

They also determined that someone must go to the others and tell them what had befallen. Who that should be could not be determined with ease, for they were all weary of the day, and they decided to make a choice of messenger in the morning.
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Old 09-08-2007, 08:15 PM   #89
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White Tree

The baying of a hound teased at the edges of her thought. Aroo, aroo, the hound called. Avarien half smiled, thinking of his warm red tongue, lolling as he ran with his nose along the ground... faithful hound. Tirrel.

But no, he had gone on, many winters ago. She frowned. Voices-- the cold woman had left, the hound -- what hound was it then? Avarien frowned, and smiled, and frowned again. And then came a voice, and a touch.

Ravion.

Peace flooded through her, and she knew she was safe, safer than she had hoped to be again. She sank into the sound of his voice.

...Voices, Avarien heard voices. The madwoman, the hound, many different voices.

No matter. Ravion is here. All is well.

Avarien wondered briefly who Ravion was, and what he had to do with the hound, but the fever was too strong, and weakened her, and she slipped into silence for a moment; and wondered, too, at the strange peace which enveloped her even in the fever. She missed Roheryn, and reached out to touch his mind. He grazed nearby. Briefly she called him; she saw that he raised his head, and knew he would find her. And then she slipped, herself, into the strange peace that had surrounded her. How had faithful old Tirrel found her after so many long years? Had he not perished in the winter at a good old age? The fever grew stronger; she fought it, but felt herself slipping into sleep again.

Ravion, Ravion. All will be well.

Who was Ravion? There were many voices outside; why this one, Avarien wondered, why this Ravion... I must know. Nimrodel, who is this Ravion?

Nay, I know of no Ravion.

He brings aid.

I know him not. But take his aid an ye choose.

Stung at her rebuke, Avarien writhed. But Nimrodel was far, Ravion was near, and the fever was too strong. She let sleep take her, and as she sank into darkness, one more thought fluttered past.

Ravion. All will be well.

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Old 09-12-2007, 07:52 PM   #90
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White Tree

Roheryn halted just outside of the clearing, and tested the wind. Rohirrim, and a ranger, and the wild woman-- he did not want to get too close to her. And the dog. His ears flicked back and forth. But Avarien lay within the hut.

He waited.

The wind shifted, and so did Roheryn's forefeet. His ears twitched, his nostrils flared.

Hidden stranger. Wild Man. Lady Avarien, beware.

Did she hear him? He did not know. He withdrew softly, and grew more still.

He waited.

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Old 09-14-2007, 08:03 PM   #91
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TharonwŰ

The minds of the Men following him broke through the allure of the girl's intriguing mind. They were focused on him, hunting. Those still on the hunt were the redhead from the future, the blasted Elf, Amroth's host, the Gondorian Ranger, and the irritating young thief. The redhead was hot with rage at him for having taken the girl, Indil. The Gondorian Ranger was less moved by emotion, but just as determined. The thief was imprisoned in his own mind by his grief for his sister, but it made him come with them on the hunt. The dratted Elf was of a single mind, determined to overthrow TharonwŰ and the madness he had imposed upon his lord's love. And his lord seemed to lie asleep in the breast of the human blacksmith whose mind was preoccupied with unreasoning hatred for the ranger who loved his sister.

Ah what a mortal mess these were, except for the Elf. Elves. It was high time to do away with the beleaguerment of Amroth within the blacksmith. TharonwŰ gave thought to how he could bring about the death of the blacksmith.
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Old 09-15-2007, 03:29 AM   #92
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Aeron

He was in the meadow again. Green fields stretched in front of him, behind him, to his left, to his right. Stars pricked the northern sky, bright like the jewels that studded the fingers of nobles; a yellow sun rose crowned in orange and scarlet to the west. Twilight before him, twilight behind him.

And there, right before his eyes, was Gwyllion, a wreath of wilted daisies in her hair, a smile on her lips. "Gwyll!" he said, taking her small hand in his.

"Aeron, brother."

The smile faded, her eyes dimmed as she looked at him. "Something is wrong," she said. "There is a black snake in your eyes, curled and waiting. Whispering. Aeron, what has happened?"

"You know, Gwyllion. You told me, the elf, he took the girl. He might kill her as he killed you. I mustn't, no I can't, let that happen again."

Gwyllion frowned. "Don't listen to the whispers that come from the dark. You should focus on finding the little girl, saving her from the shadows, rescuing her from him."

"And I will, Gwyllion, I promise. When have I ever lied to you, little Gwyll?"

She laughed but it wasn't the same as it had been before. It was briefer, heavier, paler. "Gwyllion, is everything alright?"

"I found something as I wandered," she said. "I was walking under a fading rainbow, murmuring a song half forgotten, and I heard a whisper --~~ fragile, half formed, like old crystal. I looked and I had wandered from my meadow and there were jagged rocks around me and a mountain stream washed over my feet. The water was so clear, like a mirror. And then I saw her in the reflection. She looked as if she might be tall, but she was kneeling amongst the sharp rocks, cradling Mellonin's head in her lap. I remember her robe was torn, and blood on her knees. She was whispering to Mellonin and I heard her say that she couldn't find it, that she had searched in vain, that all had changed. I was very sorry for her, but I couldn't help her, she was just a reflection in the water. And when I looked again I only saw myself staring at me."

"You don't know her name? Or who she is? Is she Nimrodel or Mithrellas?"

Gwyllion shook her head as she turned away from Aeron to face the dark northern sky. "I see things, Aeron. I see things all the time. I see you in pain, and I can do nothing. I see Mellonin --~~ or perhaps it is the other woman, I cannot see for there is a mist before me --~~ in torment, and I cannot ease her suffering. I see an old woman with strange fires in her eyes, and I can only watch and think half-formed thoughts."

Aeron said nothing, but wrapped his sister in his arms and kissed her on the forehead.

And when he woke, he found out Raefindan and said, "I saw Gwyllion again."
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Old 09-15-2007, 04:34 PM   #93
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After many hours of walking, Indil was extremely tired. Her legs hurt, and her feet hurt, and though TharonwŰ moved effortlessly over the rough terrain, many sharp edges of stone hurt her, scratching or bumping her as they moved by.

She watched ThoronwŰ look toward further mountains, and then down the pass, and then toward the sky. Her throat was dry and the air was cold.

His face took on a cruelty that surpassed the sternly carved expression of before. Just then, Indil seemed to hear voices echoing up the mountain path.

"Are you listening to them too?" she asked him shyly.

He turned, eyes bright, fixed hard on her, probing her. His motions were crisp, certain. His eyes and face moved, his body following. She shivered at his intense concentration on her.

"I am sorry." she said quickly. "I did not mean to interrupt your thinking."

"Who do you hear?" To TharonwŰ's sharp ears, there was nothing on the wind. "What do they say?"

She looked up at him nervously. "I do not know her name. But she says things that sound like songs. Things grown up men and women say about each other. And Raefindan. Him too. I can hear him saying things, only he uses funny words. He says them to her. He says he loves her."
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Old 09-15-2007, 04:46 PM   #94
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Leaf awakenings

Roheryn waited, listening. Whether the wild man knew that he was there, Roheryn did not know. Presently a soft voice called him.

Friend, come. I must hence.

But Roheryn paused; something was not right with the lady. HIs ears flicked.

If you have leechcraft, heal me now. I must leave this house, and go hence.

~*~

Ravion shook his head, and then turned from the others, and strode to Mellonin's bedside. Kneeling there, he took her hand. "Mellonin? What is it?"

To thy task, friend. I am in haste.

"Mellonin..." he whispered, and bent closer. "Mellonin, you cannot travel now. You are hurt. Badly." And I have not tended you, he berated himself. But you must sleep, and I feared waking you, but I will tend you now. I should have done so before this--

Mellonin stirred, but it was not Mellonin's voice that answered, but a voice in his mind, melodious, distant, but closer than his own breathing. Search the wounds, Friend Ravion. Wield thy skill. For with or without thine aid, I shall not remain here.

He reeled inwardly. He had seen this before, however briefly, had he not? "Are you-- Mellonin, is there another? I mean, " he stammered, reddening, "Mellonin, who is with you? Is there-- is it Amroth?" But no, this was clearly a lady. "Are you Nimrodel?" he guessed, hoping for some reason it was she, and then a moment later, "Tell me it is not so." For then Mellonin would belong to--

I am not Nimrodel. I am-- There was a silence, in which Ravion became dimly aware that the company was also gathering around the bed, and the wild woman was watching too. I am her servant. And now, aid me, or let me go.

"I cannot let you go; you are not well."

I am weary, and more hungry than any elf ought to be, came the quiet reply. But the wounds are not grievous. To thy work, or let me rise.

The familiar stab of guilt wrenched through Ravion's soul. You always fear the worst, he ranted inwardly; Did you probe her wounds? No, fool; in her paleness you guessed great loss of blood. Feed the girl.

Drink first, if I may.

He jumped; she was inside his mind still. He did not like it, and then again-- "Mellonin?" He stroked her brow, and then stood, and waved at the others. "Water. Not too cold."

And then bread. Have you no lembas, Friend Ravion?

"Why do you call me that? Just plain bread, I am afraid, Mellonin."

She was barely conscious, and Ravion feared she would choke, but when he held the waterskin to her lips, she drank steadily. "Not too much--"

More.

She drained the waterskin, and while the others refilled it, Ravion fed her bits of bread. It was too dry at first, but when the waterskin returned, he moistened them. She ate steadily despite his protests.

"Mellonin?"

Why do you call me this name?

"Have you stolen her like Amroth stole her brother? But Mellondu came back--"

I stole no one. Mellonin. Light-love. It is a good name. You may call me Mellonin.

I will know her gaze, thought Ravion. She will know me when she awakens. I will know her. I will know her.

Ye know me not, Friend Ravion, replied the voice.

"Then how do you know me?" he growled.

The voice did not answer. Mellonin had eaten several peices of bread, and as she finished the last, her eyelids fluttered. He snatched her hand again. Her lips moved.

"Ravion," she whispered. She struggled to open her glassy eyes, to see, to find him; she was so weak. He bent over her face. She smiled, a thin wan smile, and as she sank into a deep sleep the smile lingered.

The wounds. Probe her wounds. "Liornung, fetch my pack-- I need the herbs. And hot water, and clean cloths." He set to work, seeking out each scrape and gouge and puncture and cut.

None merited a faint and a fall from horseback. The girl was hardly injured; she was simply hungry.

He sat beside her til sleep took him, and then lay down on the floor by her bed.

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Old 09-17-2007, 06:57 PM   #95
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Tharonwë

She looked up at him nervously. "I do not know her name. But she says things that sound like songs. Things grown up men and women say about each other. And Raefindan. Him too. I can hear him saying things, only he uses funny words. He says them to her. He says he loves her."

Raefindan? Roy Edwards? Says he loves this woman this girl hears singing? Tharonwë could make no sense of it. It was tempting to dismiss it as the girl's confused prattling, but he could read these things in her mind, and it unsettled him. About whom was she talking? Whom was she hearing? Nimrodel? But Roy Edwards did not love Nimrodel. No, he had probed that one's mind as well, and knew that the one Roy Edwards loved had died and was no more. Such a love was vain. If only he could persuade Amroth of such a thing: you are dead; let her go; she should not love you anymore because she lives and I live, and I want her; begone!

He ordered the girl to sleep and laid her on the ground even as she yawned. He gave thought to Roy Edwards and with a great effort of will, held himself from wishing murder upon him. He was needed. It was necessary that Roy Edwards be friendly to the blacksmith and be regularly near him, so that when they came to the next precipice, Roy Edwards would be near enough for Tharonwë to command his arms and body to push the blacksmith over the edge to his death. Maybe that would bring an end to Amroth's arrogant efforts to ruin the plans he had to make Nimrodel love him and only him.

Only a minute change here, and there, in the mind of the young Man from the future, and it would be achieved.

Hold. What was this? He was thinking on his dead beloved again, and named her 'Angela'. Tharonwë looked so quickly and fiercely at the girl Indil that she whimpered from the shock of it, even in her sleep. The opacity in her mind... the name Angela had been there ... had he spoken of her to the girl? Maybe that was it. He sighed and relaxed. But he wondered yet again upon that opacity in the girl's mind; what did it hide?

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Old 09-18-2007, 07:44 PM   #96
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Mellonin slept through the night, but Ravion woke several times. Low conversations, slight movements, and every sneeze or cough jarred him wide awake. Each time he hoped Mellonin had awakened, and then each time he told himself that it was better that she had not, but had slept.

He missed Aeron. And he missed Aeron's wild little sister. Wryly he wondered how Gwyllion and this wild woman would have gotten along. Saethryd, as Aedegard called her, prowled around the fire, her clawlike hands pushing back her tangles of hair, speaking reluctantly and only with the Rohirrim.

By the moon, the night was not far along. He was tired enough, but if he let himself sleep deeply, he might miss something, some sign or word from Mellonin. He wondered what he had missed since he saw her last.

She stirred, and he rose to his knees and studied her face in the moonlight. The gash that crossed her hairline had begun to heal, and so had the lump behind it. The three welts had proven superficial, though ugly. The strange elf-woman's voice had not returned, at least, not to his own mind. He glanced around, and suddenly wondered if the voice had been talking to others.

Sleep, he told himself. You need it, and you've done all you can.

He half wished, even as angry as he felt, that someone would come and talk to him. Aeron would have. But Aeron was not here. The others seemed to be keeping their distance, and speaking in low voices.

He drew the blankets around Mellonin, tucking them in slightly. Then he lay back down, shifting uncomfortably on the hard floor, and rearranged his pack to make a better pillow.

Little Gwyllion, he thought, how I wish I could avenge your death. But with all the grief that the black elf has caused, perhaps a quick death would be too cheap a price for him to pay.

He shook his head, and thought of Mellonin. One thing at a time, he thought. Let tomorrow dawn, and then we will see.

The night crawled past, one breath at a time.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:56 PM   #97
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Liornung was silent. He sat against the wall, his fiddle propped up behind him, and his bow hanging loosely from his hands. His head was lowered, and his eyes were closed, as if he were sleeping. But he was awake, and his mind was restless. More than that, he was filled with fear.

He was recalling the first merry days of their quest, when they laughed and sang, and how, soon after, the shadows had fallen. He thought of the young girl, Gwyllion, and her death, and the dark seemed to wrap itself closer about him, breaking into his mind and his heart.

A hand fell lightly on his shoulder, and as he started and opened his eyes, Bellyn sat beside him.

"Something is troubling you, Liornung," she said, her eyes wide and thoughtful. "What were you thinking of?"

He flicked his bow up and down rather absentmindedly, and his eyes followed its motion. "I must admit, I was thinking of you, Bella," he replied. "I was thinking of how glad I am that I met you, how glad I am that we had those merry days of singing and tell tales. I was thinking of Leafa as well, but she doesn't press as heavily on my mind."

She said nothing, and merely continued to gaze steadily at him. He lifted his eyes to meet hers, and smiled slightly.

"You see, Leafa will be leaving us soon. Ædegard senses that his part in this quest is over, and I do not doubt that he and Leafa will be returning to their own lands to be wed."

He hesitated, and dropped his eyes once again. He stretched out a hand and took up his fiddle, and plucked softly at the strings. "This old instrument," he said gently. "I feel it is the one thing that remains to me of the world I used to live in. It was a quiet world, Bella, and a very beautiful one. I travelled here and there, sat by fires in taverns, and made music. I heard music, as well, from many different people. From each one I learned a new tune, and we'd spend many a happy evening playing together.

"This quest, at its beginning, was just a continuing of that world. With you and with Ædegard I shared tunes and songs and stories. And when Leafa came, she was a new face in that old world, and the music went on.

"And then I passed out of that bright world into a very different one. Gwyllion died. Ædegard lost his hand. Fear and suffering came rushing upon us. Night after night I kept imagining that it had been my hand that was lost." As he said it, his hand fell rather shakily upon his fiddle, but he quickly steadied himself.

"That was selfish," he said, with a sad smile. "This fiddle has always been my way of making music, and making music is the very heart of my life. Without a hand... but, it was selfish, regardless. And it has passed, because I realised that if, in some wild and rather absurd instance, I must lose my music to save Ædegard, or any one of you, I'd rather lose my music, even if it meant losing my life."

He paused, and Bella took advantage of his silence to ask: "What are you trying to say, Liornung?"

He turned towards, took both her hands in his, and looked earnestly into her eyes. "This quest is no longer one of merry-making and singing, Bella," he said. "Who is to say that more of shan't die, that more limbs shan't be lost? Life is full of joy, and I would be reluctant to leave it, but my part is not yet over. If I die, so be it. But seeing any one of my dear friends die while I continue to live would be unbearable."

"What do you want?"

"Ædegard and Leafa are leaving this journey, and beginning their own, a journey that will be filled with life and hope. I don't know what lies ahead for me, but I do know that the dark is closing in. Bellyn, you have no part in this quest. You're young, and you, like Ædegard and Leafa, have beauty and joy before you. If I die, so be it, but I must see that you're safe! When they return to their home, I want you to go with them."

"You think I should go?"

He released her hands, fell back against the wall again, and smiled. "I insist that you go," he said. "And when this journey is over, if I'm still on my feet, I'll seek out you, and Ædegard and Leafa, and we'll write that grand song of our adventures."

Bella opened her mouth as if to speak, but he held up a hand. "I don't know whether you intend to agree or object," he said. "I suspect it's the latter, but regardless, I'll hear nothing. I merely expect you to go home as I say." He smiled at her, but the smile quickly faded and he shook his head sadly. "It's too dark, Bellyn."

He put his fiddle to his shoulder, and raised his bow, but after a pause he let them fall again. "No," he said. "There is no music now. I cannot play."

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Old 09-20-2007, 04:51 PM   #98
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Mellondu

"Raefindan."

THe red-haired man was startled out of deep thoughts. "Eh? What's that?"

Mellondu almost regretted saying anything, but not quite. "Raefindan?"

"Yes?"

Now what do I say? he thought. "I was just wondering. Well, I -- "

Raefindan waited.

"How are you?" the blacksmith said, beginning to withdraw, but watching the red-haired man's face.

Raefindan's eyebrows went up. "How am I?"

"Well, yes. How are you? Lately." He looked away; but then in another moment, he looked back. And waited.
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Old 09-21-2007, 08:11 PM   #99
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Roy was angry. He wanted to rip TharonwŰ apart, limb from limb. Or at least push him off the edge of a cliff. He felt like a stranger to himself. He felt like there was a bomb in his chest ready to blow up, and that he needed desperately to defuse it. So he thought of Angela. It seemed to help, someone. In fact, thoughts of Angela had been coming to mind more frequently than they had been. He wondered why. When had it started? Not when he had first come here. Nor when he had met Mellonin, or Ravion, or the others. Not when he had first been confronted by TharonwŰ, curse the black hearted elf! Not even when TharonwŰ had plagued his mind, sifting it for anything he might find useful from the future. When had it begun in earnest? It had been on their way back to Minas Tirith from the south. Indil. A six year old girl? He wasn't sure she was six, but it served as well as another age, considering how she was: which was, in a word, delightful. Maybe it was the brown eyes that put him in mind of Angela. They were the same. Not so amazing, that. Not nearly so amazing as even being here, in this land that he loved because he had read it in a book. It wasn't even supposed to be-

"Raefindan?"

Roy looked up. He had been so immersed in his thoughts that he had forgotten his name here. Raefindan. It was Mellondu, and this was the second time he had used his name.

"Yes?"

"I was just wondering. Well, I -- "

Roy waited.

"How are you?"

Mellondu seemed diffident. But why was he asking? Roy wondered if the rage he felt more than half the time was registering on his face.

"How am I?"

"Well, yes. How are you? Lately."

Should he tell Mellondu any of what he was thinking? Maybe the least little bit that the blacksmith could make use of.

"I am hot with the will to do that Elf some bodily harm for taking Indil, to be perfectly frank." Mellondu's brows shot up. He had not, perhaps, been expecting something so forceful, Roy thought. "Other than that, I suppose I am well. And you? How goes it with you? And --" How did one express such things? "--and the one that --" he paused, struggling for the words to describe his thought "--sleeps within?"
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Old 09-25-2007, 01:44 PM   #100
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"Sleeps." Mellondu considered the word, and there was a long silence. Mellondu glanced at Erebemlin, who had called the halt, standing out by the grazing horses. They were not far from the snowline, and they had debated leaving the horses behind.

"Sleeps." Raefindan was waiting for an answer. Mellondu ran his hand through his hair, and gazed at the ground. Finally he shrugged, and shook his head. "I do not know." Then he glanced again over at the tall elf, and then at Aeron, dug at the ground with his foot, and shrugged again.

Aeron and Raefindan exchanged glances. Mellondu dug at the ground with his foot again. "I wish we could just get this over, and go home, " he groused.

Aeron stifled a grin. "Then it would seem, " he said, "Raefindan's question needs an answer."

"Why?" The blacksmith glared at the thief.

"How are we supposed to finish this thing without him?" said Aeron.

"Why do you want to do home?" asked Raefindan. "I never asked you before. I know your family is important to you, but -- is there someone else who draws you home? A close friend?"

Mellondu shook his head.

Aeron said, "Perhaps a young lady?" Raefindan winced and shot him a warning glare.

But Mellondu shrugged. "No." His gaze became faraway. "No, no one." He scuffed the ground again, and then with another shrug, turned to wander away. "No one."

Aeron waited til he was far enough away, and then whispered to Raefindan, "That didn't look like 'no one' to me. There's a girl."

Raefindan thought about that. "I'm not so sure, " he said. "I wonder." He watched Mellondu wander toward the elf, and then watched as the elf gave the lad another of his archery lessons. It was brief, just enough to stretch the muscles, and Mellondu seemed resigned. Then the lad went to his tall red horse-- Ădegard's horse, but Mellondu had ridden him for months now. Echo snuffled him, and Mellondu rubbed the broad red shoulder, gazing up into the bright snow.

"The snow over the pass will be shallow, and melting, " said Erebemlin. "We will bring the horses. But we must be careful."

"Think you can handle it, old fellow?" said Mellondu.

Erebemlin said "He is not old."

But instead of snapping at the elf, Mellondu only nodded, and said, "I know."

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Old 09-27-2007, 06:43 PM   #101
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Leaf

The nightingale's voice shimmered like the sunlight on a stream, or was it, that the shimmering stream sang like a nightingale? Heart-piercing beauty, and he nearly wept at the pain of it. His ears strained to hear the shimmering brightness; his arms ached to hold the song.

Come. Tarry no more, my love, but come to me. Come.

The song drew nearer. The echoes brightened, the melody grew sweeter still. The longing in his heart smouldered deeper, higher, wider, til he wondered he did not burst into flame. Nearer, brighter, sweeter came the song.

From above, he felt a shadow pass. Mingled with the song of the nightingale was the scream of a hawk; a sudden cold panic choked him as the hawk screamed again, and the song stopped.

The golden flame surged past him, and he fought it; it was weak with captivity, and he strove to bury it.

Without me you will lose her.

Down, fool.

You will lose her.

No.

Let me go.

"No!" he cried, and sat bolt upright. Erebemlin stood nearby; their eyes met. Mellondu looked away, and heartily wished that the elf was less vigilant.

Raefindan stirred. "Mellondu, are you all right?"

The blacksmith rolled back down. "Be not troubled for my sake."

Erebemlin raised one eyebrow in the starlight. Mellondu ignored him for a time, but then rolled over again and sat up. "Was that her? Or was it just a dream?"

A tightening of the elf's lips was his only answer, but it was enough. He lay back down, suddenly wide awake, and the smouldering in his heart burned steadily til dawn.
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Old 09-29-2007, 01:55 PM   #102
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White Tree Roheryn

It had been a long, quiet night. The wind had stayed always in the same direction, never eddying; Rugh had stayed still in his spot; and Roheryn had stayed quietly in his, waiting for Avarien to wake up.

Finally she stirred, and he listened to see if she would call him. But she did not. The cottage stirred to life; Saethryd's voice could be heard. The door opened, and Bella came out with a bucket, and walked to the mountain stream, filled it, and returned, and went inside the cottage.

Still as a statue, Roheryn waited.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:37 AM   #103
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Ădegard

The sun rose above the many crests and vales below them and to the east, and little by little the darkness of night gave way to the dimness of the tall evergreens that overshadowed the house of Saethryd.

Ædegard stirred. Bella had just come back into the cottage with a fresh bucket of water. Saethryd was speaking to him in Eorling, in her high, raspy unused voice, trying to get him to show Bella where to put the bucket. Bella figured it out from Saethryd's pointing, and so it was done. Saethryd settled back down, looking nervously from one to the next of her unwelcome guests. Leafa still slept curled up against the far wall; surely the earthen floor must be just as uncomfortable sleeping for her as it was for him.

Today was the day. It was time for Leafa and him to go back to the land of the Eorlings. He had overheard snatches of the words that had passed between Liornung and Bella. He would do his part to help Liornung convince Bella to come with them. The first reason was that that evil elf seemed to have a taste for using the quest party's women against the men. They needed to remove that threat from the great number that still hung over all their heads.

But it occurred, for the first time to Ædegard, sitting in the darkness of the hut, that he was poor protection for Leafa and Bella once they left. There were other threats in the wilds, up here in the unknown slopes, beyond the protection of the king. He sighed. If only Nethwador was still with them. When had he left? Had he gone into Minas Tirith with the others? Ædegard remembered Nethwador in the inn with the rest of them, but he did not remember him coming with the men out of Minas Tirith. He was supposed to have, but he must have slunk away somehow, and for what reason?

Bella!

Of course. Ædegard looked over at Bella, who was pouring water and wondered where Nethwador was right then. Was he out searching some vale in these mountains, looking for her?

If so, he hoped that the easterling would stumble upon them at some point. At least he had the use of all his limbs.

Ædegard smiled ruefully, thinking back to how he had first treated Nethwador. And here he was, wishing for him. How things change. How life changes. How people change. Ædegard shook his head in wonder, then got up and stretched and greeted Bella. Jorje's head came up suddenly and his tongue came out in a big expectant grin.

"Come, Jorje," he whispered. The two went outside into the cold, crisp and misty air of early morning, passing by Mellonin's horse, Jorje sniffing his way along the dewy grass.

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Old 10-07-2007, 12:55 PM   #104
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Night surrounded him and the water was deep. Yet not so. Beneath him was solid ground. Yet still not so; the solid ground was beneath not him, but his mount. Powerful muscles surged beneath him; long strides bore him forward. He looked for Echo's flaxen mane; reached out to stroke the faithful horse; yet something was not right.

Seaweed brushed past his face. Reaching up to brush it away, he realised it was a tentacle. Shuddering, he swiped, but the water slowed his hand.

Do I ride the currents or the solid land?

The tentacle groped for him, and he moved in slow motion as he reached for his sword. He wore none. The knife, then. He drew, and slashed; all was black about him as before, but he knew by the taste of the water he had wounded it.

His horse tossed his head, and gave a thunderous neigh. In the distance, he heard a stream falling like silver in the sun. He called out to her, but his words were swept away in the current. HIs horse's voice was not; Echo thundered again and again, and the sound of the stream grew louder, nearer.

Baffled, he touched his horse's mind.

Be still, Echo.

The horse whinnied again, almost a scream.

Echo!

The answer came not from a horse, but from a man.

I will echo your voice no more.

Seaweed drifted against Amroth's face and mingled with his hair, tangling; it began to pull him backward. He reached up to brush it away; the tangles held. He slashed at the seaweed with his knife, and found tentacles again. The horse surged forward, he fell off backwards, and as Amroth sank, he heard the splash of his horse's hooves as he entered the stream.

Trespass.

Wrath burned within him. He fought the seaweed, the tentacles, but to no avail. And only now did he know that he could not breathe. He heard his horse's hooves splashing in the shallows of the stream, heard him snorting and pawing, and then the horse's neck bent down to take a drink.

Darkness took him, and he knew no more.

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Old 10-07-2007, 01:29 PM   #105
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Indil

A dream. The little girl had fallen deep into dreams of dark water and the filth of swamps, of the oozing creatures of the darkest moist spots under roots after rain, and the sounds of gossiping creatures throttled by fog which settles into the rising gaseous masses of the ominously still liquid shadows. She dreamed of the kinds of water which wish to be land, and which through the depths of time, patiently, will become so, taking living things into treacherous wet sands, drowning them beneath sentient roots, letting their bones give the solidity the muds and meres lack. She dreamed of still waters that build structures upon the skeletons of others, which, full of nitrous, seem to glow in the night, and which seem to whisper threats and lullabies as things slither and hiss inside.

She heard a nightingale, and a hawk, and trembled in her sleep as the song of the former was cut in two by the shriek of the latter.

She dreamed she was walking barefoot, and she was shivering, but she wasn't cold. She felt the mud squish between her toes and felt the eyes of black squirrels and rats fasten themselves upon her, and she wondered if they could see through the fog and the gases of their home.

She called out through the fog. "Mama?"

She heard an answering voice, as though from far above her, but above her she could see only more fog and the blue black silhouettes of broken trees. "Not your mother, my child, and not even hers, but so much farther through time. Why do you seek us, and why do you look here, surrounded by putrid fumes and ill wishes for the living, where the only love is twisted and rank, where those two who would become one can only do so to the detriment of the weaker? You walk in a parasitic land in search of what, my daughter?"

The mud Indil stood in felt cold and grainy on her bare feet, and when she looked down, she saw that it had risen to her ankles.

"Where are you?" she asked the voice of Mithrellas.

"I am always with you, little Eledhwen. Inside you. Are you afraid?"

"No." she answered, trying to lift her feet from the mud and feeling herself sinking lower in response to every motion.

A crow soared through the thick air and landed near her, hopping toward her, eyes sharp. Something limbless moved behind her, and she heard a crack in the wood of the trees. The mud had reached above her knees, and she was frozen, and she closed her eyes in terror. "Yes," she responded, crying, her voice shaking. "Yes. I am afraid. Please. Please don't let them get me!"

The voice was silent for a moment and Indil felt as though many of the shadows of the swamp were lifting. The dark ravenous eyes seemed to blink and lose focus. Indil slipped further, lower, and her breath came faster, and she trembled harder. Mithrellas spoke now quickly, firmly. "Wake up, Eledhwen. Cast this filthy darkness from you. Let it burden you no more! Again, I say, Indil, open your eyes and see the sky."

Indil woke suddenly, gasping, coughing as the cold mountain air filled her chest. She opened her eyes and gasped; her view of the sky was distorted by the face of Tharonwë.

"What did you dream?" he demanded, and she shook, laying upon cold stone. "What did you see, little girl, and why could I not see it as well? What have you seen and heard and hidden from me?"

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Old 10-11-2007, 07:17 PM   #106
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He knew that dog.

"Jorje?"THe hound parked, a sharp happy bark, and then ran to him, tongue lolling. HIs rangy chestnut snorted, but then calmed, as the dog wagged his tail. Nethwador began to dismount, and then stopped. "Bella. Jorje-- Bella?"

"Jorje, " a voice called, and the echoes gave the dog a puzzle as his head swung this way and that.. But Nethwador waited, and dropped a hand to the chestnut's shoulder.

THe foootsteps were not loud. The man from Rohan had learned how to walk quietly, and Nethwador smiled.

"Jorje. Hi, Jorje; here boy." The wheelwright strode into view.

Nethwador waited, wondering whether the greeting would be warm or wary; he had left them without warning.

But the horseman's eyes were welcoming. "I thought you would come."

"Bella?" said Nethwador.

Pointing back the way he had come, Ædegard smiled. Nethwador was beside him in an instant, and then as an afterthought, slid off of his horse and motioned that Ædegard should ride.

Ædegard shook his head. "Let us both walk. Tis not far, " he said.

Jorje raced ahead, and was at the hut before them.

~*~*~

Ravion watched as the Easterling greeted Bella; the Easterling's uncontained joy brought a half-smile to the ranger's eyes.

WHen the hut finally quieted again and Liornung, Leafa, and Bella were listening to the Easterling boy's tale of his travels, Ravion asked Ædegard, "Did you see anything else?"

Ædegard shrugged. "Like what? I am no ranger."

Ravion grunted, and shook his head. "We will rest another day, " he said as Nethwador took his seat at Bella's feet. "Perhaps the mapmaker will sing. I doubt this Easterling will cross the mountains with Mellonin?"

Ædegard laughed. "Nethwador will not leave Bella's side again, I am guessing, " he said. "No, I suspect his road leads Northwest like mine. For that I am glad."

"I see, " said Ravion, looking glum. A minstrel, a ranger, and a feverish girl, taking the king's horse across the mountains. He shook his head. "Not today, " he murmured.

"Eh?" said Ædegard.

"We rest today, " Ravion repeated. He returned to Mellonin's side. He had already argued with the elf-woman twice today, so he repeated it for her. "We rest today." Then he took his place by her bed, and watched over her. Only it was watching over Mellonin, and arguing with Avarien. Mellonin had her stubborn moments, he reflected; it was easy to think that the elf-woman was far more stubborn than Mellonin was. But he made himself remember some of their endless bickering, and it calmed him somehow. THe morning passed, with Saethryd glowering in the background, and Ædegard pensively listening as Nethwador and Liornung traded stories and played on the violin.

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Old 10-14-2007, 04:31 PM   #107
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A bank of clouds drew near from the north. They looked to be brimfull of snow and howling wind. But it was south that they looked.

"There! Do you see?"

Bergil was standing at a cliff edge, facing south. He was looking across a deep valley to an outcropping of rock on the sheer face of the slope on the other side of the valley, the flight of an arrow distant.

Erebemlin looked. "Aye, 'tis them."

"Who?" asked Aeron.

"Tharonwë and the girl. 'Tis a shame we cannot fly."

"Where?" Raefindan asked, heated.

Bergil pointed. Two figures seemed to crawl like ants against the face of the far slope, climbing a steep path that was hard to make out from the their vantage point. Raefindan looked to their path, and saw that they were going the way they needed to, but they were woefully far behind: the valley widened ahead of them, and they would skirt the side of the mountains a long, long way around, in a large circle, before they came to the spot where the Elf and the girl now were.

Mellondu came up and nocked an arrow to his bow.

"What are you doing?" Raefindan cried.

"He is within range now and will not be for long. Maybe he can be shot down."

"But you could hit the girl!"

"I do not think so," was all Mellondu's reply.

Suddenly fury built up in Raefindan to an indescribable pitch, and before he knew it, he closed the gap between himself and Mellondu, and was forcing him bodily to the cliff edge. Mellondu was taken by surprise and could not react before he was teetering on the brink.

"Stop!" Erebemlin yelled, too far away to do anything.

Suddenly Raefindan felt hands grabbing him and pulling him back. Aeron. It was enough for Mellondu to get his balance back and force himself away from the edge, but now Raefindan fought them both like a wild beast, trying to force one then another leg, torso, head, or arm over the edge. Suddenly it was done. The face was turned up to him, the eyes full of surprise as it fell like a stone, inches away from the sheer cliff face. But it was not Mellondu; it was Aeron.

Roy looked in horror until the body was a small insect-sized dot that seemed to have merged with the landscape far below. His mind rang suddenly with the laughter of Tharonwë.

"You tried to kill me!" Mellondu raged.

Roy looked at him in anguish. He could not find words to say all the thoughts that rushed through his mind, all the feelings crashing in on him.

"Aeron!" he choked, tears coming to his eyes.

The storm drew nearer.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:34 PM   #108
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A handful of tunic, and a twisting wrench, and the redheaded man lay wide-eyed and gasping on the rock ledge.

Then the blacksmith returned to the edge of the cliff. Erebemlin came to his side. Together they looked down, Mellondu in anger, Erebemlin looking pale and shaken.

"He gave his life for mine, " Mellondu said, "But what madness took Raefindan that he did this?"

Erebemlin said little, but wept. Bergil came to his side.

Erebemlin glanced at Tharonwe and Indil, black specs, still moving slowly across the far side. "Aim, " he said.

Once again Mellondu nocked an arrow, and bent his bow. He breathed, and gazed, and breathed, and gazed, and let fly.

The arrow glanced off a rock and down into the ravine.

Mellondu aimed again, and missed again. He cursed.

"Why do you not shoot, Erebemlin?" said Bergil.

Mellondu waited, gazing at the elf. Erebemlin's voice came quiet and slow.

"He called me as he fell, " the elf said. Fresh tears came. Pain shook his frame, and he knelt down at the edge of the cliff.

Mellondu grasped his shoulder, drawing him back, but the elf covered the blacksmith's hand in his own.

"Fear no rashness in me. I but grieve the boy. His end was swift, but his heart true."

Bergil gazed at the far off fugitives. "They will be out of sight in a moment, " he said.

As if he had not heard, Erebemlin bowed his head, and his tears fell in earnest. Bergil stood beside him, as did Mellondu. Bergil watched where THaronwe and Indil had gone out of sight. But Mellondu's gaze strayed more towards Raefindan, who had sat up, and was now watching the three at the edge.

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Old 10-17-2007, 06:13 PM   #109
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Roy stared at the others standing at the edge of the cliff. He sat on an outcropping of rock, oblivious to the approaching storm. They were not saying the dreadful words - You killed him! It did not matter. He had lost his mind somehow, and Aeron was dead; by his own hands. He had liked Aeron. And now he had killed him.

It had not been as if he had lost control of his members and had been watching himself do things over which he had no control. If it had been so, then he would have still been in control of his own mind. No, he had lost control of that, too. While they were wrestling everything had been a blur of rage and war and the will to win and throw him over the edge. Then suddenly it was done and he had regained control. Not as if he had fought for control, but as if a lever had been taken from him and simply given back.

He could feel Mellondu staring at him with those accusing eyes. Murderer! they declared. Who's side are you on? they asked. Roy looked away but could feel the weight of those eyes watching his every move, so heavy they bound him to the spot where he sat.

"Raefindan!" Bergil demanded. "Why?"

Roy shook his head. "I do not know." No, that was not entirely true. "Indil! I feared that she might be shot by accident and went to stop him from shooting the arrows, but then-" he could not finish, for he could not possibly explain, nor describe what had happened. They had seen it. That was enough.

"You tried to save Indil by trying to kill Mellondu?" Bergil questioned.

Roy sat there, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. He raised his hands, killing hands, palms up, to look at them. There was no blood but they felt stained and he wiped them against his trousers; he could not make them feel clean and kept wiping them.

"Indil was my last thought. Then I was not thinking. I do not know why."

Erebemlin's sad eyes studied him. Roy looked away. "I must search your mind, Raefindan."

Roy looked up, suddenly eager. Maybe the Elf could figure out what had happened to him. "Yes! Please!"

Erebemlin tilted his head in doubt. "Maybe I need not. An innocent would be this willing."

"Innocent!" cried Mellondu. "Aeron is dead! He tried to kill me! How can you say innocent!"

Roy hung his head, his eyes stinging. How indeed? Breathing seemed suddenly very hard. The wind began to blow in from the north. The temperature was dropping.

"Search his mind, Erebemlin," said Bergil.

"Very well."

Roy sensed the Elf's concentration, he knew not how. He felt nothing else.

Moments later, the Elf spoke. "I do not know why he let me. He has been turncoat since he was with the Swamp Elf, weeks ago." Roy's head went up in shock.

"He hoped," Erebemlin continued, "that his seeming eagerness for the osanwŰ would trick me into thinking it was unnecessary. He will kill again."

"Look at him," Mellondu sneered derisively. "He is surprised to be so easily found out."

Roy shook his head, speechless. How could Erebemlin have it so wrong? He did not seem to be trying to mislead. The sorrow was written too plainly on his countenance: the Elf believed what he was saying. Am I really a killer then? Do I really want TharonwŰ to win out? Do I, deep down in my heart of hearts, want evil instead of good? Everything in him shouted NO! but Aeron lay dead at the bottom of the valley and it had been his own hands that had killed him, and Erebemlin had seen his mind. Maybe he did not know his own mind.

The first flakes of snow flew in on a heightening wind. It was getting colder.

"He must leave us," Bergil said.
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Old 10-21-2007, 09:02 PM   #110
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"Raefindan!" Bergil demanded. "Why?"

Bergil's mind was a wild briar of thoughts as Tharonwë peered in, hoping to sway the young ranger. With the boy perished, he was the next youngest in their company, and might be the most vulnerable.

"I do not know.... Indil! I feared that she might be shot by accident and went to stop him from shooting the arrows, but then-" Tharonwë did not like where the redhead was going. Raefindan and Bergil had that in common: a passionate concern for the girl, and it would not do for the Gondorian to become sympathetic to the strange redhead's plight, not if Tharonwë was to divide their company, and slow their pursuit. Fortunately, Raefindan's actions did not look particularly sane to Bergil.

"You tried to save Indil by trying to kill Mellondu?" With a nudge from Tharonwë, Bergil found the absurdity of Raefindan's actions obscuring any thought of sympathy with his plight.

"Indil was my last thought. Then I was not thinking. I do not know why." As the redhead spoke, Tharonwë thought it advisable not to obscure that he had manipulated the Man's mind, but to make this conclusion all too clear to Bergil. While Erebemlin dithered, Tharonwë pushed Bergil to certainty.

"Search his mind, Erebemlin," said Bergil, finding his suspicions growing.

"I do not know why he let me. He has been turncoat since he was with the Swamp Elf, weeks ago."

Of course, Tharonwë's motive seemed perfectly plain to himself. If he was to divide the company, a shadow must be cast on Raefindan's trustworthiness. And what better shadow at hand than himself? Already, with his help, Bergil's mind was turned solely to doubts about Raefindan, and not a single thought of sympathy, out of concern for Indil passed out of his subconscious.

"He hoped," Erebemlin continued, "that his seeming eagerness for the osanwë would trick me into thinking it was unnecessary. He will kill again."

"Look at him," Mellondu sneered derisively. "He is surprised to be so easily found out."

"He must leave us," Bergil said, and Tharonwë grinned inwardly in delight. The young ranger had said exactly what he wanted. No longer did he need to force the Gondorian to conclusions, Bergil was making them for himself.

"If he will kill again, then we must not give him the opportunity," Bergil continued on his own; Tharonwë mentally nodding happily. Then the ranger came to a conclusion that utterly baffled the Elf. "We should send him on ahead, alone."

What was the Ranger thinking? But even as Tharonwë began to probe the fool's mind, his reasoning became clear.

"If he's so eager to save Indil, and we cannot trust him around us, then let us send him on to save her himself," Bergil continued, as Mellondu and Erebemlin looked at him in askance. "At worst, he will come under Tharonwë's spell again, and do nothing, but if he is so paranoically concerned about Indil and so willing to kill, the best may happen and he will save us a great deal of trouble--and Raefindan is far less a formidable enemy than the Elf."

"Look at this weather," said Erebemlin, as the snow continued to swirl. "It would be akin to murder, sending him alone with no shelter, never mind sending him against Tharonwë alone. He has no hope at all of success."

"He killed a close friend, of his as well as ours," said Mellondu coldly. "Does he deserve hope?"

"Wait! What about Indil!" Raefindan tried to cut in with his own say. "What if I am a danger to her as well." Tharonwë, still concerned about Bergil's paternal instincts regarding Indil, quickly moved in the ranger's mind to quash that line of reasoning.

"Do you really think you stand that much of a chance against Tharonwë?" said Bergil, echoing the Elf, who did not think the strange redhead did, given how susceptible he had been the first time. "Besides, wasn't concern for her the reason you attacked Aeron in the first place?"

"But circumstances might be different..." Raefindan began, but Mellondu cut him off.

"The very fact that you are speaking against being sent seems almost as good a reason as any for sending you on," the blacksmith said. "You are of no help to us here, and you are a great cause for concern, rather. I say we send him on."

Tharonwë watched through Bergil's eyes with tense anticipation as the three others turned to Erebemlin. The Elf was silent, but soon spoke.

"We cannot trust you, Raefindan, and you have certainly incurred punishment for what you have done. If you have enough goodwill left to wish us success, then you must see that you cannot remain with us, and if you wish to help us, then you will continue following Tharonwë. If we are fortunate, you will be able to stick to his trail, and perhaps even hinder him, that we might be able to shelter now, and catch you and he later. If you die in the attempt... then it is little more than you deserve."

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Old 10-25-2007, 05:34 PM   #111
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Roy

The wind and snow swirled around him. He was trudging along the path. The snow landed all around as white dots against the gray rock. At first they melted into dark spots of water. Soon after, they stayed and collected until the ground was a pall of white. It became difficult to see land from sky, or land from precipitous drop. His body shook with the cold.

"It is little more than you deserve."

Roy had left the three others without a word. What could he have said? They were right to send him on ahead. If he had attacked and killed one of them, he might do it again, for he did not understand what had happened.

Roy, what have you become?

His hands and feet were going numb, and the cold stung his face. He supposed that he was going to his death.

"It is little more than you deserve."

He winced in spite of himself. A tear froze on his cheek. He stopped and looked back into the blur of white that hid the others from him. He didn't know how far back they were. He supposed that they had found shelter of some kind. Just as well, they would not survive without it.

With a jolt he came to himself, realizing that he had been standing in one place for a long time. The snow had covered the flat of his shoes. It would be so easy just to stand and do nothing more. He felt the cold numbing the grieving pain in his throat and chest. So easy to simply not move again. So easy.

He forced himself to take a step, and another, and another. Soon he was walking laboriously, careful of his steps, for the path was hard to see.

His lips went numb, and his cheeks. His ears ached with the cold. He could not feel his hands anymore, and could only feel his feet by the pressure of each step he took.

No, he had not taken another step in a long time. The snow had collected up to his ankles as he stood. He tried to move his feet but could not. He had forgotten how to walk. So he stood there and waited.

~*~

Come. Take a step. Another. Another. I want you here to keep the girl alive while I use her mind.

He was walking. His steps were unerring, for they were being steered by another will.

Was I not impressive, using your very mind as my blunt hammer, to cast the little thief off the cliff?

The gray of snow and wind was beginning to darken.

It was supposed to be the blacksmith, curse that ranger. But still, it was so easy to hide your real thought from the mind of that arrogant Elf of Lorien.

A darkness loomed amid the night. He went toward it. The blur stopped and the howling wind was muted.

"That is right, come and sit, Roy Edwards from the future. It is good to have you back again. You are a most useful pawn."

He felt the world tip over and go black, and then nothing.
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:49 PM   #112
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Ădegard

Ădegard shoved at the door with all his weight to push back the snow outside. It came open enough finally to sidle through, and he looked out. He blinked from the brightness and with a smile remembered the snowball fight with Mellondu back at Edoras. Had that been only a month ago?

He struggled out and looked south. Clouds hid the mountain as high as the eye could see. That was not good. The snow storm was still blowing up there, and it looked like it was probably worse higher. A blizzard. His thought went to Mellondu, Raefindan, Aeron, Erebemlin, and little Indil. Were they safe? They might be buried up there! We have to go find them! he said to himself.

His heart sank. Today was the day Bella, Nethwador, Leafa and he were to set out for Rohan. Maybe Liornung and Ravion could go find them. He couldn't help remembering Bethberry's words. Be his friend. STay by his side. He will need you. He hung his head in shame. He had abandoned Mellondu and the others. Even now it might be too late. Buit it might not! His head came up and fire leapt into his eyes. He rushed back into the hut.

"Ravion! Everyone! There's a blizzard on the mountain! We must save our friends!"
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:04 PM   #113
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The sound of snow falling: the heavy impact and compression not of flakes but of ice and build up, slipping from outcroppings and landing hard. The sound of wind swirling through the mountains, caressing the sides as it slides down, whistling and creaking. Giants with boulders, playing throwing games to start avelanches.

Indil's nose ran from the cold and the smoke from the small fire. She was lonely, and played a quiet game of rearranging the faggots into shapes until Tharonwe took them from her and restacked them neatly. She did not cry. She said nothing. The cave floor was uneven, with deep crevasses not wide enough to fall into, but wide enough to catch an unaware foot in. She sat wrapped in blankets between one and a cave wall, watching the light from the fire dart deeper into the cracks.

"Are there goblins in this cave?" she asked Tharonwe.

He watched her silently, eying her body for every silent utterance. He learned more from her from what she did not say. His stares unnerved her. He considered her question and the uses it could be put to. He could tell her yes and assure her obedience, yet she was a good child already. Instilling fear had uses, but it would not do to waste potential weapons without need. "I do not know." he responded, his voice dulled by the darkness. Some caves echo. Others oppress.

Tharonwe looked up, toward the entrance, a crack just large enough for a grown man to fit through sideways, if he had a light and knew to lower himself carefully. It let in no light in the dark storm, though the snow that built around the edges melted and dripped from the constant temperature of the cave, and the heat of the fire. Tharonwe stood quickly and crossed to the opening, reaching out and pulling a body none too gently through it and inside. Indil watched with wide eyes.

Suddenly the fire lit his face and red hair and Indil cried out, "Raefindan!" and stood. The man only moaned and she ran to take his hand.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:25 PM   #114
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He stood at the edge of a grassy vale, surrounded by blue-green fir trees. He knew this place. The air was thin - he had not recognized that before - they were high up. Away at the other end he saw two bent figures, wearing their old gowns, many years old, one with hair silvery blonde, the other's raven black. His heart leaped and his breath caught. She turned, saw him, and smiled. She rose and came toward him.

"Imrazor, my love! You have returned! You have been away a long time."

He shook his head. She was calling him that name again. He knew it from his readings back in the time from which he'd come. She came up to him and raised her slender hand to his face. Her eyes shone with her love for him; but tears stood in them as she did not see the same love in his own eyes.

"Your time away has blunted your memory again," she said. "Do you not recall our years together? Our children?"

"I - I recall," he said, hearing his voice gruff and uncertain. How was it that he had been united with her in this place, in that time long ago, and also had been in the time yet to come?"

Her eyes left his and looked over his shoulder. "Your thought has brought another." Her tone was fraught with many colors of feeling, so many he could not name them all. He turned and looked back.

"Angela!" For it was she. "How did you get here? Are you real?"

Mithrellas' fingers slipped from his face. He turned. She had backed away from him two steps, her face a mix of grief and hurt.

"Where are we?" Angela said. "I do not know how I came here. Who are these others?" She was looking to her right, at the edge of the glade. He looked. He could see through them to the fir trees. Aeron and Gwyllion.

"I didn't mean to kill you," he blurted. His breath left him and he fell to his knees with the horror of his confession. He looked to the two women who had been central to two different lives he had lived. Both faces looked at him in horrified shock.

"Imrazor!" Mithrellas cried. "Roy!" Angela cried. "Raefindan!
Wake up!"

He opened his eyes. It was Indil. She was bent over him where he lay on the floor. He met her eyes. "I'm so sorry," he mumbled, and wept.
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Old 11-10-2007, 01:26 PM   #115
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TharonwŰ

Tharonwë cared not whether Roy Edwards' tears were from remorse or self pity or grief. Why was Nimrodel off on the edge of the vale and not at the center? Preposterous! Everything centered on Nimrodel, and yet in Roy Edwards' dream she had barely figured at all.

He sent his thought to the vale where Nimrodel and her servant waited. He had until now paid scant attention to the servant because she was not the one for whom he craved. Now he looked. Whereas Nimrodel was unchanged, the one called Mithrellas did seem changed; or so he supposed since he had not taken account of her until now.

Was this Roy Edwards your mate in a time gone by?

Who are you that I should answer, miscreant?

Tharonwë scowled. She was strong. It would take much effort of controlled thought to break her down, and he did not have the time. He would have to outflank her instead.

These fëar, however, what did they in the vale? Why did they not pass beyond the walls of Arda like human fëar should? He would question them, but they were beyond his reach somehow. So he turned his attention to the one remaining figure, a young human woman who did not seem to belong. Roy Edwards had called her Angela, his young love from the future. A strange name. He had given much thought to it, and had been sifting Roy Edwards' mind as he had struggled through the growing snowstorm outside: the name 'Angela' was akin to Ainur or Maia. Was the girl then a Maia? He shook his head. That could not be, she was human.

What do you in this vale?

I defy you.

Simple words. She was aware of him, then, and her answer was given in a tone of will that bespoke no fear. His face worked with apprehension. When he came out of his thought he was startled to find that he was looking deep into the eyes of Indil. He shook his head and looked away. But suddenly a possible connection struck him. He turned and held the little girl with his eyes.

"Are you also Angela?"

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Old 11-10-2007, 04:13 PM   #116
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Indil blinked, and smiled a little, very confused, and she held onto Raefindan's frozen hand, petting it like she might a small cat brought in from the rain. She shivered in the draft from the wall of the cave and cocked her head a little, looking without any fear, for the first time, into Tharonwe's eyes.

"What is an 'angela'? Is it bad?"
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:57 PM   #117
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TharonwŰ

Tharonwë scowled again. Perhaps it had been a mistake to address the human woman in the vale. It seemed that she lent her courage to this girl, and it seemed that there was little he could do about it. Torture for its own sake was not his way; he always had a purpose for the pain he caused.

"It does not matter," he answered curtly.

He would watch their minds and then determine his next move.

Raefindan

Indil's calming hand helped Roy relax. He calmed and finally fell into a fitful slumber as his lungs and head slowly filled with fluid.

Both women looked at him in horrified shock.

"The Elf forced me."

The horror on the two women's faces changed to understanding and revulsion.

"Please rise, Imrazor." "Please get up, Roy." The women looked at each other again, perplexed. They asked simultaneously, "Who are you? Why do you call him that?"

Roy rose and walked around the vale with the two women and listened as they traded stories. He shook his head in wonder many times.

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Old 11-17-2007, 09:18 PM   #118
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The bed was warm and inviting, the house chill, the out of doors worse. Yet the woman stood, squared her shoulders, and began to add layers of clothing.

Ravion stood off to one side, not knowing whether to help or hinder her, fretting. "You still need rest."

"I will rest on the way, " she replied.

All that came from Ravion after that was an exasperated snort, but he held her cloak for her, and then packed his own things in a few moments. THe Rohirrim likewise deftly made themselves ready, and in a short hour all were lined up and prepared to go.

Ravion stepped to Mellonin's side to help her mount Roheryn (the king's horse, he thought bemused, remembering it as a foal) but she swung deftly onto his back. Perhaps not perfectly, for Roheryn gave a little grunt, and sidestepped once. But the woman refused to let weariness show on her face, and in moments they were headed up the mountain, leaving Saethryd at the door of her cottage.

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Old 11-21-2007, 05:45 PM   #119
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THe snow fell thick and fast, and the horses put their heads down against the driving whiteness. Gond and Roheryn minded it little, but the rohirrim's horses were less pleased.

Ravion let Ædegard and Jorje take the lead. Jorje whined and sometimes zgged back and forth, but always swung back up the mountain. Ædegard urged him on, and the rohirrim followed, with the Easterling on his tall lanky chestnut close behind. Ravion and the elf-woman-- Mellonin-- brought up the rear. Ravion watched her anxiously.

The elf-woman did not mind. It was good to be watched; it was good not to be alone. It was good, she thought, to have a friend. She had not had a friend in a long time.

"Your hands are cold. And your face must be also. Wrap your face against the cold. And lay your hands on Roheryn's neck."

"My hands grow stiff indeed, friend. I will heed your counsel."

Ravion was relieved to see Mellonin wrap her scarf tighter, and then bend forward, and lay her hands along Roheryn's thickly-furred neck.

Ædegard's voice cut through the driving wind as he urged Jorje forward. Ravoin wondered how long their food stores would last, and whether they would find dry wood to burn come nightfall.
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Old 11-22-2007, 11:56 AM   #120
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The two women walked side by side and Roy followed them as they strolled around the perimeter of the vale. Roy glanced over to the sad, blonde beauty sitting by herself in a seeming trance. Nimrodel. It must be, since this was Mithrellas.

When they had traversed the perimeter yet another time, they came to where Aeron and Gwyllion sat together hand in hand, and to Roy's surprise they seemed less transparent.

"Are you getting your bodies back?" he asked.

"No," Aeron said matter of factly. "You are fading, like us."

The two women who had been in deep conversation, telling each other about their lives, looked back in startlement. "No!" they said in horror.

"What?" Roy asked.

"You are dying!" Mithrellas said.

Roy stopped and stood still. He closed his eyes.
And opened them again. His breathing was more labored than before. He felt like he was slowly drowning. He looked to Indil, who still held his hand. Her eyes which had lost the old fear, had a new one of a sudden. She asked him a question, but he couldn't make it out right away.

"What did you say?" He hacked and coughed against the increasing tightness of his lungs.
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