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Old 12-04-2003, 10:22 PM   #201
piosenniel
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1420!

Rôg

Night at last. The old man had gone to bed, several cups of spiced wine glowing pleasantly in his belly. ‘Time enough to see to those parchments on the morrow,’ he told Rôg, sinking down onto the soft mattress with a satisfied oomph and a bone weary sigh. ‘The library has been there for scores of years. It will be there when the sun comes up again.’ A few moments later and soft snores floated from beneath the pile of thick woolen blankets, along with the occasional murmured word or two.

Rôg sat quietly in the chair drawn up to the small fire in their room. When the murmurings had subsided and the snores settled into a gentle rhythm, he got up, stretching his limbs, shaking the long day from his muscles. The draw of the welcome warm had faded against the urgency of his feelings that they should soon be on their way. They only needed to check on something the old man had half remembered seeing in the great library in the city. Then they would be heading south.

The young man stood by the window of the room for a long while, his gaze falling on the young woman below and to his left who lingered before the kitchen door. The singer, Mellonin - her eyes turned star-ward to the clear night sky. For a moment she dropped her gaze, following a spiral of moths that had seen the low light from the kitchen window and were now heading toward it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The slim-winged grey brown bird flew high in the air with easy strokes, the inn falling away quickly beneath him. Strips of moonlight through breaks in the clouds caught the broad white bar across each pointed wing, glinting off the white bar across his notched tail. The sharp calls of other nighthawks followed him, indicating his traverse of their hunting territory. He paid them no heed, nor did he veer from his course, intent on reaching the fifth tier of the hillside city before the night grew older.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:14 AM December 10, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-05-2003, 11:22 AM   #202
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Sting

The old man sat up in bed and wearily rubbed his eyes. He stared out the open casement looking for outward confirmation of the flutter of wings and the soft whir of feathers that had enticed him up from sleep. Over the years, he'd lost at least some of his physical strength and vitality, but time had not dulled his senses. He could still catch the slightest movement of small beasts in a grove, or make out the shadow of a tiny bird silhouetted against a distant bank of clouds. He could even untangle the strange utterances of the creatures whom he passed in the woods, although that was no longer so easy.

Again searching the skies, he glimpsed a small brown bird pushing against the wind, gliding gracefully towards the stars with no apparent effort. For an instant, he wanted to throw back the covers and join in, to leap out towards the sparkling night. But then came the sad realization. He could not do it. The old man slumped back in bed too weary to rise, unable to recall the hidden secrets of his past.

Back home, he had never been accounted among the wisest or most powerful, but many had acknowledged his mastery of shapes and hues. Vague memories of a former life tugged quietly at his mind. The old man could recall a time when he had slipped on the form of a Great Eagle atop the craggy peaks of Taniquetil. But now his body controlled his every step; he could barely recollect the shape or form of the rich green fields and gardens that had once been his home.

Complaining to others was not his way. By day he said nothing; indeed, until recently he had walked only by himself. Now, sensing the emptiness all about him, he had chosen to plod along with Rôg, a younger scholar who was ostensibly his servant. He nodded politely to any who addressed him as they strode along the road, but rarely said more than that. Wholly absorbed by the intricacies of the birds and beasts around him, many mistook his simplicity and singlemindedness for lack of understanding. Yet that was far from true. He lacked cunning, not intelligence.

At night, trapped within fears, the old man wondered about many things. He'd been told to come and care for the olvar and kelvar. He had not neglected this charge. So why could he not step onto the sleek Elven vessel and sail back to the sandy white shores where there was no death or despair, a place so unlike that in which he now found himself? Why was he still here when so many others had left? Perhaps if he could untangle the answer to that riddle, he would find his way home. The old man lay back in bed, purposefully shutting out the sounds of the night, and fell into a dreamless sleep.
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Old 12-05-2003, 11:08 PM   #203
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Sting

The mouse's nose twitched and he shifted in his sleep. The rush of wings faded into the distance, and he heard a few night-cries in the distance.

He curled himself tighter and buried his nose with both front paws and his tail. So the previous bird of prey had not been a fluke? With hunger also departed whatever tenuous safety he had known?

For now, he would not leave his hiding place, not until the curly-brown man woke up again.

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

The rush of wings startled her and she looked up again, but her eyes had adjusted to the candle that had drawn the moths, and she saw nothing at first. By the time her eyes adjusted to the stars again, there was nothing to see or hear, except the moths, and the stars. She enjoyed each in turn.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 12:12 AM December 06, 2003: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 12-06-2003, 07:23 AM   #204
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Sting

A fully laden wagon rumbled through the gates of the white city, flanked by four riders all clad in bright green cloaks a silver swan embroidered to the left breast of each. The riders consisted of two men and two woman, the first man riding at the front right of the wagon was unmistakably Gondorian, tall and proud his dark eyes bright and keen followed the winding road. The woman riding to the left side of the wagon was also Gondorian and her straight dark hair whipped in the mild winter winds, both held their heads high as they guided the wagon through the winding streets of the city of their birth. The man to the rear and right of the wagon was also tall, his hair short and raven black, his hazel eyes keen if not a little grim and the solid wooden bow on his back marked him a man of Dale. The final rider was an elf woman fair of face and her pale grey eyes holding the wisdom of three ages, her fair hair shimmering in the moonlight.

The wagon with its heavy load also had passengers, at the rear of the wagon sat a sturdy red headed dwarf, a long grey clay pipe clenched firmly between his teeth as he studied the stonework of the white city, passing the occasional comment to the hobbit who sat next to him. The hobbit too had a pipe in his mouth and was content to listen to his dwarven companion while blowing smoke rings into the encroaching night, his brown locks bouncing as he shook disagreeing or nodded agreeing with his friends comments. Like the riders both the stout hobbit and his dwarven friend wore green cloaks with the silver swan motif.

Up in front either side of the wagoneer sat two young olive skinned women identical in every way, their long dark hair braided to their waists, their rich amber eyes staring in awe at the wonders of the city. Both wore soft red silk veils which revealed only their soft kohl lined eyes, but unlike the others they were wrapped in dark fur cloaks, even their boot were fur lined, being from the south they felt the cold more than the others.

"Are we nearly there?" they asked in unison, pulling their cloaks tighter about them.

"Yes my young friends you will soon feel the warmth of the Seventh Star," the tall vibrant female wagoneer laughed, "Captain Aerant said that the inn is renowned for its hospitality, and the innkeeper will welcome us when we bring him his latest shipment of ales and wines from north and south of arda!"

"There's even several casks of Dorwinion wine back here!" the dwarf interrupted. "Your father must think highly of the innkeeper to impart such a gift!"

"Nay master Odrin, Have you not served under my father long enough to know that he gives nothing freely, even the advice he imparts often has it's price?" she laughed heartily, the dwarf nodded lending his deep rumbling laugh to her mirth. "Nay the innkeeper, a master Rimbaud, paid in advance asking us specially to acquire the Dorwinion wine if we could."

"Aye an' it took us, near on a month with many songs and story telling before the wine merchants of Dorwinion would agree on a price." the tall Gondorian man laughed good heartedly.

"Ha! so that is where you and Brandwin disappeared too several months past!" the stout hobbit cried, jumping up and promptly hitting his head on the lantern that swung from the roof of the wagon, setting the group into another chorus of ructious laughter.

"So master Fastred has discovered the reason for our mysterious absence, Hámalin?" the grim looking Dale man laughed, coming forward at the mention of his name.

"Yes I have, and I might well have liked to see those lands and played my pipes on the shores of the sea of Rhûn, for the pleasure of the lords and ladies?" he huffed rubbing the bump on his head.

"And I am sure they too would have loved to hear those pipes, Fastred my friend, but would you have really suffered the long journey on horse back?" The Gondorian man, Hámalin asked gently.

"I just might have," the hobbit groaned, plopping himself down heavily on a large wooden trunk.

"Well Master Fastred when next we are required to pass that way we will all go and take the wagon then you will not return to us bruised and saddle sore!" the Wagoneer laughed her coppery brown curls bouncing lightly about her shoulders as she did, with that promise the hobbit brightened considerably .

"Look the star still shines !" The Gondorian woman called pointing to the light that shone through the dusty windows, As they halted in the yard of the seventh star.

"Alright ladies and gentlemen remember we are here to work if we can, the swan is berthed for the winter and will not sail again until the spring, how long we remain in the white city will depend on our audience and our ability to hold their attention!" Nerindel announced addressing them standing tall and confident upon the wagon. "How many of us will require rooms at the inn? " she asked looking to the two Gondorians in her company.

"Odrin and Fastred made it clear before we even disembarked the swan that they wished to take up a room at the inn, but Brandwin has agreed to be a guest at my families home." Hámalin answered and the man of Dale nodded that this was so.

"Ashra and Ashru have both agreed to be my guests," the twin Haradwaith women nodded excitedly, "and Lírësule too if she will?" the Gondorian woman said looking to the elf woman for her answer.

"I thank you for the kind offer Finríel, but I think at least one of us with more sense and less thought of fine ale and food should remain to look out for the lady Nimsûl!" the elf laughed nodding towards the dwarf and the hobbit, "Hey, we can look after the lady!" Fastred retorted looking truly offended, "Come now, my young friend you know she is right!" the dwarf laughed, slapping the hobbit playfully on the back as they dismounted.

"Then it is settled, Myself, Líresule, Odrin and Master Fastred will take rooms in the inn and the rest of you will be guests of our Gondorian friends, but first to deliver our cargo and see about offering our services to the good Master Rimbaud." Nerindel grinned jumping down from the wagon.

"Hámalin! Líresule! come with me the rest of you help unload the wagon." With a round of nodded assent , she turned and with the same movement swept the right side of her cloak over her shoulder, revealing the figure hugging russet bodice and the russet and burnt orange skirts of her fine apparel. Her two companions did like wise, Líresule revealing a simple green travelling dress of elven make and a small golden hand harp hanging from her fine silvery belt and Hámalin wore a fine cut blue shirt with his black leggings.

It was late and the door was locked for the night, she knocked long and loud, after a short wait a great bear of a man opened the door and stepped out infront of her, "Can I help you?" he asked, plainly annoyed by the lateness of their arrival. She regarded him for a second with her bright sea blue eyes then smiled "Yes I am looking for the innkeeper of this fine establishment."

"Then you have found him!" the large man answered, Puzzled Nerindel cast a questioning looked back to Hámalin, who only shrugged. This man did not fit the description they were given of the innkeeper of the Seventh Star! "You are Master Rimbaud?" she asked raising a questioning eyebrow.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:51 AM December 06, 2003: Message edited by: Nerindel ]
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Old 12-06-2003, 08:54 AM   #205
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Sting

A young Gondorian servant-girl swept breathlessly arund the corner of the Inn from the direction of the back kitchen door.

"Nay, my good guests, his name is Lord Morien. Welcome, " she said with her very brightest smile, "to the Seventh Star, and well-met. May I take your cloaks and scarves?"

The elf-lady giggled, turned a quizzical look on the Innkeeper, and made a sweeping curtsey. "Hail and Well Met, Lord Blacky of the Seventh Star." She followed the gibe with a sweet smile and a catching laugh which began to soothe the Innkeeper's dignity.

What was left of his ire was spent on the girl. "Next time wait to ask for their cloaks until they are inside. You have a lot of goods to carry in first. And why are you still outside at this hour?"

Excuses never helped; better just to get back to work. "I'm sorry, sir. " She shouldered a barrel.

"Here, lass, I'll take that--" began the dwarf but she looked down and swept inside. "Sturdier than she looks, " he muttered. Catching up another barrel, the dwarf and a few of the others unloaded the stores.

Mellonin studied them as whe worked, and resolved to speak with as many of them as she could, They certainly looked like they had tales to tell. A halfling! How terribly exciting. And those two elegant, darkeyed women... she was bubbling with questions. But at the moment, all she had time to say to several of them in passing was, "I do hope you'll be able to stay a while. I'm so very glad you've come."

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:56 AM December 06, 2003: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 12-07-2003, 04:23 AM   #206
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1420!

Rôg

‘Mmmm . . . tasty!’

The nighthawk’s bill snapped up a fat silverfish that dared the desk top. Hidden under a thin sheet of parchment it had been chewing on, the insect wriggled hurriedly for safety on its thin spidery legs, antennae waving wildly when the plop and scrabble of the bird’s feet had first hit the edge of the paper.

The bird had spent a good half hour poking about the clerestory windows that flanked this section of the library. And at last had been rewarded with one whose grout had crumbled, allowing him to move it out of the way and enter, gliding silently down to the reading desks that lined the center aisle. A few small lamps burned low – one at the entryway door, and two at each end of the great table. He wondered what sleepless librarians wandered the halls this night, guardians of the papery treasures locked away in the maze of rooms. Thank the powers that be that the old man’s memory of this place had been so clear, so precise.

In the shadows of the stacks he changed to his two legged form – more convenient for browsing through the dusty rolls of vellum piled one upon the other in the small cubicles. The leather bound tomes he ignored. The old man had been specific – it was a small, single, yellowed piece of parchment; the edges crackling into dust with age. He had rolled it loosely, he said, securing it with a bit of red string.

Ah! As if that would help him in this search!

He was colorblind – the red of the string would be so much grey to him, indistinguishable from the other dusty strings that wrapped round the myriad of rolls. Nothing to do but sort out the larger rolls from the smaller, the single pieces of paper from the others, and begin.

It was nearly dawn when he found the one he sought. Rolling it up carefully, he left himself enough of a loop to carry it securely

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The flight back to the Inn was torturous. The roll of parchment caught the vectors of the breezes in odd ways, slowing him down or sending him flying in odd directions a he tried to maneuver with the cumbersome burden. A clutch of small brown wrens took advantage of his plight and dive bombed him unmercifully, trying to knock him from the sky. He grew tired and frustrated. Folding his wings tight against his body he dove toward the ground, a feathered missile, the wrens spiraling just above him, and straight into the midden of the Inn’s kitchen.

Peels of potatoes mingled and ripened with those of apples. The head, skin and bones of fish, slimy tops from the garden carrots, half eaten bits of bread now mouldered in a pungent stew. In one of his other forms he might have enjoyed the tangy mess he found himself wing deep in. But now his feathers were sodden and stuck together, his beak stained red from some castoff beet it had chanced into, and on his head, like some limp cockade sat a bit of old kale. Disgusting! And to make matters worse he could hear the birdish laughter of the wrens as they sat in the leaf bare plum tree at the corner of the Inn.

He stood up in the midst of the oozing mess and found the window the Innkeeper had pointed out to the young woman just last night. He pressed tentatively against it, feeling it give way. Reaching in carefully, he unlatched the door and opened it quietly.

A trail of ripe compost marked his journey through the kitchen and up the stairs to the room he shared with the old man. Aiwendil, sat up in bed as his companion entered the close confines of the room. His eyes watered and his nose wrinkled at the stench.

‘Open the window,’ he gasped, drawing the bedclothes up over this nose. ‘By the One, you stink!’

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:15 AM December 10, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-07-2003, 08:49 AM   #207
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Sting

The mouse stirred uneasily as voices sounded in the dimness. Baran's rumbling snore had been a comfort, but these hushed whispers were puctuated by snorts and derisive comments. One voice sounded like Rog, the other like Rog's elderly companion. He wondered what had woken them so early, and if the hawkish bird had anything to do with it.

One thing was for certain. Something smelled absolutely delicious.
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Old 12-08-2003, 09:07 PM   #208
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Pipe

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."

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:22 PM December 09, 2003: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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Old 12-08-2003, 09:22 PM   #209
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Sting

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.

The wagonfull of folk had settled in, the elves were exploring the Inn and the hobbit and dwarf were enjoying a late breakfast.

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?"
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Old 12-09-2003, 04:27 AM   #210
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1420!

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?"

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:23 PM December 09, 2003: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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Old 12-09-2003, 05:01 AM   #211
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1420!

Rôg

The old man stood at the window. The shutters were flung back and that troublesome host of sparrows sat on the ledge chirping at him, shaking their feathers to gain his attention. One of the bolder ones, the leader in the flying ‘V’ that had assailed Rôg last night, had claimed a perch on Aiwendil’s shoulder. His bright black eye was fixed on the younger man in a challenging stare.

‘I surrender, Master Sparrow,’ said Rôg, grinning at the little brown bird. ‘Gondor is yours, from leaf to sky.’ He packed his hard won prize of last night in his leather bag and placed it on the bed beside the old man’s. ‘I’ll see to breakfast,’ he said, opening the door to the room. ‘Just come down when you’re ready.’ From the floor to the left of the door, Rôg picked up the pillowcase he’d stuffed with his aromatic garments and, holding it away from him, proceeded down the stairs.

The Common Room was already starting to fill up he noted, his foot resting on the next to the last stair. Naught to do but hurry through to the door, hoping that the unsavory smell would not linger long. A glance to his left showed the young woman of last night at the bar speaking to a red-haired man he had not previously seen in the Inn. And as his ill placed stars would have it, there stood the Innkeeper, his gaze already on him as he dithered on the stairs.

Like a man delivering a suspect and distasteful package, Rôg held the bundle well away from him. He fixed his sights on the main door and started boldly across the room, picking up speed with each muttered comment as he went.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:16 AM December 10, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-09-2003, 08:23 AM   #212
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Sting

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?"

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 10:01 AM December 09, 2003: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 12-09-2003, 02:13 PM   #213
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Sting

The Innkeeper assisted in the offloading of the wagon. He smiled when he saw the mark which identified some of the casks as being of Dorwinion origin, though he squinted and puzzled over the odd southron runes which marked the other casks.

"Master Rimbaud told me to expect you," he said. "But I feared that I might have missed the shipment. I returned to reopen the Inn just a day ago."

"Reopen?" asked Nerindel with a frown. "It has been closed? And where is Rimbaud."

"Aye," answered the Innkeeper. "The Star has been closed for some months now. Master Rimbaud went off on a journey. When he returned, he was...ill. He is now resting in the care of a healer. Perhaps someday he will return, but for now I am the barkeep and master of this place."

Nerindel nodded with a bit of suspicion, which evaporated quickly once the last cask was unloaded and the Innkeeper invited them in to settle accounts and have a drink. He disappeared into the back room for a moment as the servers quickly and quietly attended to the customers. Then he returned bearing a cloth bag which he delivered to the wagoneer. "There!" he said. "I believe this is what was agreed to. Though I'm a bit surprised at the size of your cavalcade. Will you all be staying?"

Nerindel opened the bag and checked its contents quickly. Then, with a nod and a smile, she passed it to Hámalin who fastened it to his belt under his shirt. "No...sir," she answered, realizing she had not caught the Innkeeper's name. "I will stay with Líresule, Odrin and Master Fastred, if we may. The others will stay with our friends elsewhere in the city."

"Good, good!" cried Morien. "Your first night will be on the house as will be dinner. Now where is that woman? Mellonin! Girl! Come here!"

Mellonin had been chatting with a young man, but trotted over quickly. She stared openly at the Dwarf and the Hobbit as the Innkeeper spoke. "Rooms for these four, girl. On the house for this night as will be their dinner. But not their drinks! There'll be many of those if I'm any judge." He wiped his hands on a towel and walked off towards the young man as Mellonin took the new guests to a desk to sign in.

The Innkeeper stopped before the young man. He noted that the mug of stout was nearly drained and nodded his head. A server swept by, grabbing the mug as he passed and replacing it with a full one. "Thank you," stammered the man, but the server was already gone.

"Are you new to Gondor?" asked Morien.

"Yes," answered the lad as he sipped at his mug. "At least I think I am. I'm not sure..." Morien frowned and sat down next to the young man.
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Old 12-09-2003, 08:45 PM   #214
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The smell was offensive in the extreme. Once it passed, he was better able to listen 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!"
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Old 12-10-2003, 04:08 AM   #215
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Piosenniel

‘Ammë! I’m thirsty! Are we there yet?!’

The fidgety little five year old was tucked in close against her mother, shielded from the morning’s breeze by the folds of the great blue cloak. Dark brown curls surrounded the fair face that poked itself out through the woolen edges, and curious brown eyes swept the road ahead for their promised destination. She wished that her mother’s mount would sprout wings like the dragons from the stories and fly them to the Inn at a faster pace.

‘You shall just have to have patience!’ piped the twin chorus of the young girl’s siblings, impishly echoing the phrase they had been hearing now for the last half hour. Gilwen and Isilmir, six years old, their black hair and grey eyes a mirror for each other, broke into laughter at their mimicry. They urged their ponies alongside their mother’s horse and grinned up wickedly at their little sister – who promptly stuck out her tongue at them.

At long last, at least to the little girl, though if truth be told it was only another quarter of an hour, the Inn hove into view as they crested a rise in the road. At a nod from their mother, Gilwen and Isilmir took off at a gallop toward The Seventh Star, their excited voices challenging each other to a race.

Little Cami stretched herself low over the horse’s neck. ‘We could beat them, Sinda,’ she whispered in a coaxing voice, her little fingers winding themselves into the coarse salt and pepper hairs of the grey gelding’s mane. Pio grinned as the horse flicked his ears back toward Cami, indicating an interest in showing up the ponies. She flicked the reins gently and urged him to a faster pace with a light tap of her heels against his flanks.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A short time later the four riders found themselves in the front yard of the Inn. In a rush and a chorus of laughter they dismounted, Gilwen arguing good-naturedly with her brother that her pony’s nose had been the first to the hitching post. Isilmir took the reins of the other two mounts and handed them along with his own to the grey clad hostler who approached.

Shaking the dust off their cloaks, and pushing their wind tousled hair back from their reddened cheeks, the chattering trio ascended the steps, Pio in tow. Their little voices were loud in the near emptiness of the Common Room as they burst through the door.

‘A ginger beer for me! And me!’ cried the two girls, dashing for a table near the fire. ‘A birch beer for me,’ requested Isilmir, in a considering tone to the grey clad server who had hastened to see to their needs. He waited for his mother and sisters to take their seats, then took his own.

Pio, her eyes sweeping the room for a familiar face, asked for a glass of Southron red, if they had it. And could he ask Master Rimbaud to come speak with her for a moment . . .

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:17 AM December 10, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-10-2003, 07:26 AM   #216
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Estelyn had slept restlessly, walking the aisles of the library in her dreams, looking for something, always searching, incessantly wandering. She awoke well before dawn, not unusual for her, but she was more exhausted than refreshed. Dressing hurriedly, she hastened her steps to the part of the palace tower which housed the archives of the White City. Why should she feel as if she had to find something, she wondered. On the contrary, she had new documents that needed to be placed on the right shelves, so that they could be found by those who might want to read them later.

She opened the heavy door to the library rooms and picked up a small lamp that stood on the table next to the entrance. Not that she needed it to find her way; she knew these halls well. But she felt the need to see – what, she did not know. Her eyes wandered to and fro as she walked through the aisles; all seemed to be as usual. Yet there was a breath of fresh air enlivening the mustiness; she followed it, glad of the closed lamp that kept her light from flickering, until she found a window that had been opened slightly. Puzzled, she held the light closer to inspect the dusty sill.

There were marks, scratches, as if a bird had landed there, but no sign of finger marks. Who had opened the window, and above all, why? Certainly the documents and books were valuable, but not so for a common thief. They could hardly be sold for enough money to be interesting as a booty. Had something been taken, and if so, what? The window was located high in the tower; how had someone been able to climb up that far?

She closed the window, noting that the horizon was lightening almost imperceptibly, though the stars still shone brightly. Lifting her lamp, she began to search methodically, scanning each shelf for signs of a departure from the usual order. The slight coating of dust that was ever-present in these rooms showed no disturbance; the books stood in their rows as always, old friends that seemed to greet her invitingly. Finally, in a cubicle farther back in a corner, she discovered that the parchment rolls were not as carefully stacked as normally.

Yes, undoubtedly someone had been here, and it was not one of her well-trained library assistants. They knew better than to risk her ire by handling the precious rolls with less than meticulous care. She paged through several of the parchments, making note of their content and trying to ascertain what could be missing. But not even she knew the contents of the archives by heart, and there were many aged documents that had not been recorded. Making a mental note to ask one of her helpers to reorder that shelf and record which rolls it contained, she left. Oh, and she must ask a carpenter to have a look at the window – it wouldn’t do to have it open so easily!

She decided to walk to the Seventh Star later on that day; perhaps she would see if someone new had come to the city, someone who had an unusual interest in old records…
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Old 12-10-2003, 09:29 AM   #217
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After off loading the cart and settling with the new innkeeper, the young Gondorian woman who had first greeted them showed them to they're rooms. The men in her troupe helped to carry up two large gilded oak chests, then taking their leave Nerindel reminded them that they were here to work as well as have fun. "You two mind to keep out of trouble!" she said taking the southern twins into her knowing gaze.

"Us!" they chimed innocently, But Nerindel caught the mischievous glint in the young women's eyes, "Finríel, I charge you with keeping these two out of mischief!" she laughed. The Gondorian woman replied with a laugh of her own, "I will do my best but I'm not promising anything."

"We will come back in the afternoon," Hámalin told her in his more business like manner, "No hurry my friend, I'm sure the girls and Brandwin would like to see a bit of the city?" at this the twins nodded excitedly. "Evening will be soon enough." she smiled.

"Lady remember to be mindful, this may be the city of the King but even here their may be enemies!" Brandwin warned, the Grim faced Dale man always counselled caution where ever they went. Although she thought his caution unnecessary, she smiled and nodded all the same, knowing the man would not be satisfied least she did.

With the others gone, Odrin and Fastred's thoughts turned to food and fine ales, "I'm starved do you think they have Mushrooms here," the hobbit mused patting his stomach, "And maybe some seed cake!" he added excitedly. "Your thinkin' o' food when there's fine ale to be had!" The dwarf rumbled, "Come then me young friend! lets see what the Seventh star has to offer a hungry hobbit and a thirsty Dwarf?"

Nerindel and Lírësule watched the two friends with amusement, "The Innkeeper was wise not to include free drink into his generous offer!" the elf woman laughed. "Yes Odrin would surely drink him dry !" Nerindel laughed. "Odrin! Myself and Lírësule are going to have a look around, Save us some breakfast will you!" she called to the dwarf. "Aye I'll try, but our hobbit friend is already talkin' o' second breakfast!" The dwarfs roaring laughter echoed around the room, but stopped abruptly when a frowning and very sour looking Fastred dug him hard in the ribs.

Still laughing at the sight the two women exited the common room. "Did you catch the innkeepers name?" Lírësule whispered as she took in the surrounding as they passed down the hallways of the inn, "Yes, I noticed that he failed to mention it, even at my prompt!" Nerindel frowned. "But the Gondorian serving girl, Mellonin gave it, Lord Morien she said his name was" Nerindel stopped and looked round to see if her elf friend was jesting with her, "Lord Blacky, eh!" she laughed seeing that Lírësule was not fooling with her. The elf woman frowned seeing an all too familiar glint of interest in her friends sea blue eyes, "Oh no! I've seen that look before and I will be no part of it, not all puzzles need solving!" she laughed shaking her head, determined that she would not be dragged into one of Nerindel's plans.

"Oh come on it's out there plain waiting to be solved, I'll not pry, I just what to see if I can't get the good innkeeper to give it freely!" she grinned. Lírësule sighed with relief and the pair moved on to explore the inn yard.

Nerindel raised her face to the fresh morning breeze as she walked beside Lírësule, they explored the grounds, even checking in on their team of horses, who to their surprise were already groomed, watered and well feed if their contented nickering was anything to go by. If truth be told it was the elf woman who had done most of the exploring, Nerindel was lost in her own thoughts and only half heartedly listened as Lírësule meticulously memorised every entrance, exit, stairwell and out building.

"Do you think we will see him this winter?" Nerindel asked lowering her sea blue eyes to meet those of her elven friend, there was no need to say of whom she spoke for the elf woman although she hid it better, had also been thinking of their old friend. She sighed and shook her head, "I do not know! it may be that he has passed back unto the lands from whence he came, after all his task was complete and the dark one was defeated, he lingered long with us, perhaps longer than he should have?"

"Perhaps," Nerindel nodded, "But I do so miss his wise counsels."

"As do I," Lírësule smiled, " But come let us not dwell on what has passed, we have a whole new day before us and good friends to share it with." With that she took her friends arm and they passed back into the inn to find Odrin and Fastred.

Entering the common room they soon spotted the boisterous dwarf and his hobbit companion. Odrin an ale in hand beckoned them over, and as they sat down Fastred lifted his head only long enough to acknowledge their presence then lowered it to continue enjoying the mushrooms before him. "How many?" Nerindel asked raising an intrigued eyebrow, "That's his third." Odrin laughed.

"Here catch" the dwarf said tossing each of them the reddest apple they had ever seen, "Is that all you could save?" she teased, but even as she spoke two servers placed bowls of hot steaming apple and cinnamon porridge before her and Lírësule, they both nodded their thanks and as the servers drew away they turned to see a satisfied look on the dwarf's broad face.

She drizzled a little honey over her porridge, then lifted her spoon to take a large mouthful, but before she had even got the spoon half way, Odrin had grabbed her wrist, she looked at the dwarf's frowning face. "You can never be too careful!" he whispered taking the spoon, looking at her other companions she saw that they too wore concerned frowns, "But this is the city of the King!" she protested. "Did ye not listen to Brandwin's words lass, even here there could be enemies!" he whispered hastily. Realising that she would not win this argument, she reluctantly relented.

"Go on lass give us a taste!" he laughed, hiding his true intent and so as to avoid insulting the innkeeper, by suggesting his food was not safe to eat.

"Well!" Nerindel frowned after the dwarf had swallowed the spoonful of porridge, "Mmm, very nice" the dwarf grinned after a moments pause, handing the spoon back to her and nodding that it was safe to eat. "Told you!" she muttered trying the porridge for herself.

Just as she was taking the last mouthful she noticed an elven woman with three young elven children enter the inn.

"She looks familiar do we know her?" she whispered to Lírësule. The elf woman lifted her head to regard the other elf woman, "Half elven" she whispered "The Gondorian trade vessel The Star had a half elf among it's crew if I remember right, but we have only encountered that ship once and briefly so I can't be sure if this is the same elf!"

Unclipping her purse from her belt and stopping the server as he returned with the women and the children's drinks, she paid for the order and bade the man to tell the lady the drinks were compliments of the crew of the Edhellond trade ship the Silver Swan. "What are you doing!" Odrin blustered, "Seein' if the lady is who I think she is, have you not heard the stories of The Star!" she answered calmly still looking at the elf ladies table. "An' if she's not?" the dwarf huffed. "ah! stop your worrying and drink your ale." she laughed watching the server speak to the woman and point their way, The four of them raised their drinks and with warm smiles they gave a curteous nod to the elven woman, her hobbit companion and her young children.

&lt;font size=1 color=339966&gt;[ 11:13 AM December 10, 2003: Message edited by: Nerindel ]&lt;/font&gt;

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:34 PM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: Nerindel ]
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Old 12-10-2003, 12:01 PM   #218
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OOC: For purposes of the current iteration, the events at the Inn are taking place 18 years after the War of the Ring. This places the Inn at a time sufficiently remote from the War to allow for creativity, but still close enough to known events for a familiar frame of reference to exist. No posts need be changed irrespective of the timeline assumed in them. I will delete these OOCs once everyone has had a chance to review them. Thanks.
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Old 12-10-2003, 01:39 PM   #219
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1420!

Piosenniel


The mug of ginger beer covered the bottom half of little Cami’s face, and Pio stared in wonder at the child. She had the drink tipped so far up and was drinking so greedily that Pio half expected the liquid to go up the child’s nose. Not so – the mug came down with a satisfied clunk on the table top, a few missed drops flying onto the smooth surface of the wood. She glanced hopefully in the direction of her sister’s ginger beer, but Gilwen only pulled hers in closer and took a sip.

‘Who are those people,’ she asked tugging at the sleeve of her mother’s tunic, and pointing toward the table where the woman, Elf, Dwarf, and Hobbit sat.

‘Stop pointing,’ whispered Isilmir. ‘It’s not polite.’ He leaned nearer his younger sister and spoke low. ‘They are from a ship called The Silver Swan.See their cloaks - that silver bird on the green. We were docked near them once, in Cobas Haven.’ He looked a little smugly at her. ‘Of course, you were just a baby then.’ Pio arched her brow at him and his necked reddened at being caught egging on his sister.

Little Cami snorted at his discomfiture and turned back to her mother. ‘They were nice, weren’t they,’ she asked. ‘They bought us our drinks.’ A familiar look came on her features, and before Pio could catch hold of her, she had grabbed her now empty mug and scooted off the chair. Her little legs carried her to the Swan’s table at a quick pace, and she squirmed in between the Dwarf and the Hobbit.

‘That was a good drink! Thank you!’ Her mug was carefully set on the table as she smiled, taking them all in. Her eyes drifted to the plate of seedcake slices that sat near the elbow of the Hobbit. He was busy with a plate of fried mushrooms, and she tugged on his sleeve to catch his full attention. ‘I’m Cami,’ she said, her eyes straying to the cake. ‘I like seedcake, too.’

Gilwen and Isilmir stared at their sister, then back at their mother, who had watched the little scene with some amusement. Pio approached the table, a half smile playing on her lips and shook her head. ‘She is my adventurous one,’ she laughed, tousling the girl’s hair. ‘And yes, thank you for your kind offer of drinks. My crew was quite thirsty.’

The twins had by this time abandoned their drinks and come to stand at their mother’s side. ‘I am Piosenniel, by the way and these are my children. Little Cami, you’ve already met. And this is Gilwen. And this Isilmir.’ Both of them nodded politely at the group and smiled. ‘We see you are from The Silver Swan. How was your last trip? Profitable, I hope.’

Pio motioned for one of the servers to come near and ordered drinks all round for the table.
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:26 PM   #220
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Morien smiled at the lad's eagerness. "Elessar is our King. The King of Gondor," the Innkeeper answered. "As for his tale, well, that'd take some telling and I can't say as I know all of it. You'll hear it in bits and pieces, or maybe even all at once if you stay around here long enough."

Then the Innkeeper looked at the boy with some concern. "You don't know who you are or where you're from," he muttered. "Very well. Then Red it is. Lad, you'd best stay here for a time until you recover your wits. There's a loft in the stable, where you can sleep for free. That'll save you some coin and if you want to earn more, I guess I can find something for you to do. And take care, mind you! Minas Anor's a safe enough place, but just as anywhere there's some bad eggs who wouldn't mind parting you from your money." The lad nodded appreciatively and thanked the Innkeeper, who waved off the boy's gratitude and turned away.

He ambled across the room to the wagoneer's table, where the odd company had been joined by a fair lady and three children. "Did someone call for Master Rimbaud?" he asked. "He's not about, nor is he likely to be for some time. May I be of service?"
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Old 12-11-2003, 04:21 AM   #221
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Piosenniel

‘Perhaps you can,’ said Pio, stepping forward. My name is Piosenniel. Master Rimbaud and I were old acquaintances and had an understanding of sorts. He would always put back one of the older bottles of Dorwinion wine for me, to be picked up when I came to the Inn.’ She glanced up at the rafters, taking in the cobwebs still gracing the corners of the beams. ‘And I must confess I have not been here in quite some time.’ Her face took on a worried look. ‘Have I missed some news about my friend?’

Morien introduced himself, giving a brief account of the former Innkeeper, and how he had come to take on the duties. In passing, he mentioned he was from Lossarnach. ‘Not kin to Old Forlong,’ she almost said, then bit it back noting that though he was a large man, he did not possess the girth of the former Lord of Lossarnach. Instead she told him that her family dwelt in a small holding just outside the southwestern edge of the Rammas Echor. ‘Up against Mindolluin,’ she said. ‘So I guess you might call us neighbors of sorts.’

He told her there was some Dorwinion wine just come in, but as to its age, he could not guarantee that it was not of recent vintage. He turned away, saying he would just fetch her a bottle, when she laid her hand lightly on his arm. ‘One other request, if you will, Master Morien. A friend of mine often sends me letters here.’ Pio laughed remembering Bird had told her the Inn was more likely to stay in one place than was the Elf, and so she intended to send her letters into the keeping of Rimbaud. ‘They would have my name on them, and be sealed with the silver outline of a small bird in flight on black wax.’
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Old 12-11-2003, 07:36 AM   #222
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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.

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

The mouse woke up hungry, and followed the shadows to the kitchen. Outside, there was a lovely new mulchpile forming. After eating his fill, he returned through a chink in the walls to the common room, and snuggled into his old hiding by the fireplace.

***********


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.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:34 AM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 12-11-2003, 01:43 PM   #223
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The Innkeeper slipped through the kitchen and stopped in front of a heavy wood door. From his pocket he withdrew an intricate key which he inserted carefully into the lock. With a click, the door opened and swung inward. He stepped into the office with a frown. Dust covered the surface of a heavy oak desk which stood to one side of the room. On the other wall was a bookshelf. Lighting a lamp to illuminate the dimly lit room, he scanned the surface of the desk.

Seeing no envelopes which met the description provided by the Elf, he proceeded to the bookshelf. There, he found a small stack of packages and envelopes. He lifted one, pausing first to blow the dust from the heavy paper. Then he cursed imaginatively and walked quickly from the office. The door swung shut behind him and he did not have to wait to know that the lock had snapped shut even as he rushed through the kitchen towards the common room.

He proceeded to the wagoneer's table where the children were gleefully holding court to the amusement of those nearby. "My lady!" he cried. "My apologies! This letter must have arrived before Rimbaud went on his journey. He left in quite a hurry as I recall. It is dated nearly two years ago! I am very sorry. It is addressed to Piosenniel."

He handed the envelope to the Elf, whose brows furrowed with annoyance as she took it. At that very moment, a deep voice rumbled through the room. "Piosenniel? She is here? Which one is Piosenniel?" Keeping a neutral expression upon her face, she dropped the letter to the table and turned to face the speaker. At the same time, her hands disappeared beneath the table.

"Oooo! Ammë! He's big!" cried Cami. Behind the Innkeeper, looking at the faces of the table's occupants one by one, was Baran...
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Old 12-11-2003, 03:52 PM   #224
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Not half a mile from the Inn, was a small enclave of trees, their leaves apparently eternally in the throes of autumn. If any passer-by had chanced to stray a few metres from the path and look behind the wide trunk of the closest of these trees, they would be greeted with a rather unexpected site, although it was apparently camouflaged: a woman, her hair the same autumnal browns as some of the leaves, and covered in the leaves: leaves nestled in her hair, which was loosely tied back, strands falling over her face, leaves almost burying the ankles of her high leather boots, and yet more strewn across her dark tunic and drawn up knees clad in fine brown breeches. Her eyelids flickered delicately, the eyes underneath them following the dreams that flitted through her head, a private theater.

If this passer-by continued to watch, they may have seen a greyish brown bird land to perch on the branch above the dreamer, black ink-droplet eyes watching this lean, leggy character, apparently one with autumn, to see whether she was alive or simply a sprite turned to stone in the manner of a troll. Well, it could happen...

When he wasn't rewarded with any movement save the constand flicker of the woman's eyelids, the bird decided to move things along a little and to check if this really was some strange form of troll turned human turned to stone. Leaving its perch, it flew down the few feet before alighting elegantly on the sleeper's head. The result was spectacular.

"Gargh!" Aman gave a rather unlady-like yell, unearthing herself in a flurry of leaves and wings as she bird, understandably startled, took flight again. In her feet in a flash, Aman looked wildly back at the spot she had been sleeping then, loosing her balance, she promptly took the oppurtunity to collapse again. But as she did so her sharp green eyes took in the path and she froze before grinning at her own foolishness - fool, if there was anyone on the path, they would have seen or heard the chaos of Aman's untidy wakening already. Absent-mindedly picking a leaf from her hair, the woman stared at it for a moment, bemused, as she tried to recall her dream, looking up from the leaf into the tree where the bird, from a higher perch than before, was watching her warily.

"Pio!" She clicked her fingers suddenly in revelation, causing the bird to start slightly, shuffling its feet but not flying off, intigued by this emerald-eyed stranger. Noticing the bird starting, it seemed dream and reality seperated themselves at last and Aman herself stepped back, causing the bird to do the same, a strange dance in the middle of the trees, a small browd bird and a woman still covered with leaves. "I do apologise," the woman said, then waited. No reply. Bother. "Are you....?"

Still no answer from the bird, although Aman fancied there was pity in it's eyes. Well, pity would not come from him, so it was indeed simply a little brown sparrow that she was speaking to, despite the likeness...but if one is going to make a spectacle of oneself, there is no-one better to do it in front of than one of Nature's own messengers. Hesitating and with the vague ideas of her dream flitting through her mind, the woman then picked up her pack and slung it onto her back, fastening her cloak, a dark, weatherbeaten garment, deftly at her throat, before starting towards the path. When she wasn't rewarded by wingbeats behind her, she turned back to the tree where, sure enough, the sparrow was still watching her curiously.

"Well, are you coming then?"

~*~

Accompanied by the little sparrow who had in the course of their journey devoured both Aman's life-story, idle ideas on her dreams and the crumbs she found and fed to it, and who she had become quite fond of, Aman pushed open the door of the Seventh Star, her destination since she had woken up. Looking around purposefully, Aman's eyes alighted finally on a woman of elvish countenance, seated at a table with...Aman's jaw dropped as she saw the two dark haired children, a boy and a girl, as similar in appearance as it was possible for such a pair to be. She had seen Pio, the mental image from several years ago, in her dream, heard her friend sending the message...but she had not seen the twins yet, not since they were but very, very young, her last image of them being when she fastened the necklaces, one gold, one silver around their necks...

The elf's eyes suddenly flitted around the huge man in front of her to Aman and she smiled, surprised, but not too much.

"Pio!"
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Old 12-12-2003, 03:38 AM   #225
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Piosenniel

Her thank-you’s to Morien were cut off by the loud voice and looming presence of the person who stood across the table from her. Her gaze locked on him, trying to recall where she might have met him. He was a massive figure of a man, one who would not be easily forgotten. In her long memory she could find nothing that marked him friend or foe.

The deciding factor was the stout staff he clenched in his large hand.

Fëanen . . . Fëasolme . . . Fëalor! Quarë, híni!

Quick and silent, the three children gathered behind her, a tightly closed fist at her back.

For a brief moment, as she stood and moved back from the chair, her awareness took in a familiar voice calling her name, then shut it out. Pio backed up slowly, moving her children toward the door to the kitchen – like a mother bear, keeping herself between them and the stranger. ‘What chance meeting is this,’ she thought to herself, watching for any advance on his part. Her right hand slid beneath the left sleeve of her tunic as she spoke.

‘Who comes seeking Piosenniel? And why?’

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 4:39 AM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-12-2003, 05:15 AM   #226
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Pio's post - Rôg

Wiping the last few drops of water from the well on the front folds of his cloak, Rôg crossed the narrow, wooden verandah and pushed the Inn door open. He had sluiced his hands off thoroughly, removing any lingering odors from the bundle of soiled clothes he had carried out to the refuse heap. And now he had plans to secure a table by the fire for himself and his traveling companion. Breakfast, and plenty of strong, hot tea to wash it down, occupied his thoughts as he stepped into the Common Room.

‘Pio!’

He heard the young woman who had entered ahead of him call out to someone she had seen across the room. His gaze, drifted from the sparrow on the woman’s shoulder, toward the small scene playing out a short distance from him. With a sharp intake of breath he stepped backwards toward the door, seeking a quick exit back to the Inn's front yard. He abhorred violence, and the promise of it was too near for his comfort.

~*~

The wrens had flown off, their attention caught by a field of sunflowers in a field to the north and the lure of abundant seed for the taking. The old man lingered at the open window for a moment, watching the tiny brown cloud of them grow smaller in the distance.

A soft whirr, and the feathery brush of delicate wings tickled against his left ear. His hand came up to brush the source of irritation away and was stopped by a barely audible murmuring.

‘Move your stumpy fingers! You’re about to crush my antenna!’

The small brown, gypsy moth latched on to the old fellow’s fingers and rode them in a dizzying arc to a position just in front of Aiwendil’s eyes. A moment of sudden queasiness ensued, followed by the irritated twitching of the moth’s antennae. ‘Yes, it’s me,’ he squeaked, his front leg smoothing out the crook in his right antenna left by the brief pressure of the old man’s fingers. ‘I’ve come to suggest we skip breakfast and hit the road. That big fellow who came in after us yesterday – some Elf, named Pio, I think, has challenged him. The atmosphere in the Common Room has taken a decidedly tense . . . and possibly ugly, turn.’

**********

Child's post - Radagast:

Aiwendil sensed another gentle whirring, this time near his right ear, as the brown moth fluttered up to land on his shoulder. But the wizard seemed not to notice. His round eyes blinked once, then twice, as he stared off into the distance, struggling to retrieve a memory from behind the grey haze.

Pio?... Pio was in the Common Room? Faint hints of a forgotten time sparkled beneath the surface. It was a time when he had first journied to this world. He and Gandalf had worked together to sow the seeds of resistence within the hearts of the Free Peoples. His own heart had been much stronger then. There had been that strange business with the hobbits and the Anduin he'd never fully understood. But the little ones had made good neighbors. He had first met Piosenniel along the river and made his promise to her and her friend, the feisty and insistent Skin-changer, that he would check on the hobbits now and again. That promise, at least, he had kept.

Nor had that been his last encounter with the Elf. Time and again, he had come across her on the road. And, just a few years ago, she had unexpectedly shown up with a husband at her side and two babes in her arms, looking quite content. At the moment, however, the thought uppermost in the wizard's mind was the fine ship that belonged to her and her husband Mithadan.

Aiwendil stood up so abruptly that Rôg tumbled off his shoulder and landed on the broad arm of the chair. The moth lowered his head and tried not to listen as the wizard began lecturing him, "If Pio is in the Common Room, we've no time to lose. That is, unless you intend to walk all the way to Harad! Come along now!"

Seeing the stubborn look on Rôg's face, the wizard shook his head, "I'm more concerned about the safety of my neck on the roads to Harad than I am about Pio. And she may be able to help us with that. Anyways, I know her well enough. The Elf can be hasty, but she's not likely to strike a blow unless the fellow truly deserves it."

Aiwendil headed towards the door, walking purposefully in the direction of the Common Room, and beckoned to Rôg to follow him.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:05 AM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-12-2003, 06:11 AM   #227
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Sting

Quite out if breath from the short climb, Edelis entered the Seventh Star directly behind a young man who had followed a woman dressed for travel and with leaves in her hair. Just a few leaves and brightly colored dangling quiet tentatively to the back of her hair. It did look rather nice, Edelis admitted to herself, but would be that much more attractive if less randomly placed, in a row perhaps and a little higher. She wondered distractedly if the young man would pluck them out or not.

After a few steps this strange traveler stopped short in front of them both, uttering something, which she didn’t quite catch the meaning of, but she evidently seemed to be engaging in a reunion of sorts. Apparently unnoticed, the young man backed up toward the door, Edelis moving quickly to make way as he disappeared from the room. Skirting the speaker, she smiled politely as she cast a curious glance toward the table opposite, where an elfish looking woman stood transfixed staring at the looming figure of a man with a stout staff, her children shuffling in behind her. Oh, Edelis had seen enough of various encounters in the past few harried days to know that this one was definitely to be avoided. Hurriedly crossing over to the hearth -the furthest place she could find- she unclasped her cloak, draping it over a chair before settling down to rest.

She wasn’t as young as she used to be, and that hill got steeper every year! But at least here she could attempt to find some peace if not quiet as well. She looked up again and sighed as she doubtfully eyed the situation at the other end of the room. Well if this did become volatile at least she would not be in a small three-room house when the explosion came, and of course the children were welcome to sit with her if the conversation turned harsh. She might even have some sweets tucked about her somewhere, that the nieces and nephews hadn’t found yet.

But best of all, to enjoy a meal cooked by another hand other than her own, though by the tension she discerned, she wondered if she might be taking an unnecessary risk to her health.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:18 AM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: Hilde Bracegirdle ]
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Old 12-12-2003, 08:31 AM   #228
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Sting

Mellonin had no idea what to do about the tension in the room. Feeling vaguely guilty as if she had somehow not smiled enough or failed to greet someone, she looked about, and saw the redheaded man still at his table watching the growing tension.

Keeping her eyes on the elven lady and Baran, she quietly slipped over to stand behind the redheaded man's table, and watched. She wondered how Morien would respond if a fight was to break out in his common room. She did not like the idea. What would she do? She did not know.
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Old 12-12-2003, 09:10 AM   #229
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Sting

"Who comes seeking Piosenniel? And why?"

Baran's eyes fixed upon Piosenniel, taking note of the children who huddled behind her. The Innkeeper, alarmed at the sudden tension in his common room, scowled and stepped between the massive man and the Elf. "Here now..." he began. But Baran interrupted. "I do," he said. "I have travelled a long ways to find Piosenniel."

At that moment, the boy, Isilmir wriggled away from his mother and stepped forward, looking at Baran with curiosity. "Are you going to kill him, Ammë?" he asked. The room fell silent at the child's words.

Baran laughed, a booming sound which seemed to echo through the rafters. Then he took note of the Elf's serious expression and her failure to chuckle in turn and his laughter died. He set down his staff, propping it against a table, and stepped back, placing his hands behind his back. Among his people, extending one's hands outward away from the body was a sign of aggression. But his movement only made Piosenniel drop into a fighting stance. Baran cleared his throat and smiled.

"I am Baran," he said. "I am a Beorning from the north." At this many of the patrons muttered and some backed away towards the door. "A Beorning! A shape-shifter!" But Baran ignored the others, focusing upon Piosenniel.

"You are Piosenniel? Who once worked at The Green Dragon in the Shire?" he asked. The Elf nodded cautiously without moving. A knife had appeared in her hand. "Well met!" he continued. "I have travelled throughout the northlands seeking certain of my kin, though I know not where they might be. I seek one in particular who is known to me. Is it not true that you are friends with one named Bird?"

Piosenniel started at the mention of her friend, but did not lower her knife. However, her children danced in excitement at the name. "Auntie Bird!" cried Gilwen, clapping her hands. Baran nodded with a smile and eased his bulk into a chair at a nearby table. "Come!" he cried. "Let us speak! I bring you tidings from Imladris!"

After a moment's hesitation, Piosenniel sheathed her blade, to the relief of the Innkeeper who had been looking uneasily at the massive Baran. "Sit with our friends," she instructed her children, motioning towards the wagoneer's table. Then she joined the Beorning at his table. A server appeared and deposited a tall cup of ale at Baran's elbow.

"Why do you seek Bird?" asked the Elf suspiciously. Baran sipped at his mug before answering. "I do not really seek her, but rather her people. But she seemed a good place to begin. She and I were aquaintances in the northlands. I cannot honestly say friends, because I was yet young when she left and did not know her well. But I know she is one of our long-lost kin. Indeed, some among my people believed them to be but a myth before she arrived in the north."

He then drunk deeply from his mug and the Elf began to relax. "The Darkness has departed," he continued with a wipe at his beard. "There is a legend among my people that when the Darkness lifts, we will again dwell west of the Misty Mountains and be reunited with our kin -- Bird's people. Most think I am a fool to chase after the stories of old women, but I remember Bird, her humor and the fair shapes which she could take. Perhaps I...my people can learn to take shapes other than the Bear, if we meet our kin. So I have ignored those who ridiculed me and sought after them...and Bird. Where is she?"
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Old 12-12-2003, 03:42 PM   #230
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Sting

Introductions were brought to a sudden halt first by the innkeeper, then by another larger man if that were possible! But as the children rallied behind their mother and the tension grew, the crew of the Silver Swan casually moved their hands to unseen weapons, they made no move but watched the encounter ready to move to the elf's defence if needed. Even Fastred had put aside his beloved mushrooms to finger his hidden dagger. Nerindel was already playing out how they would move in her mind, as she watched the scene unfold, Lírësule reading the woman's thoughts issued unspoken orders to the others.

'Odrin, Fastred flank the mother coming between her and the children, they are your charge, Myself and Nerindel will backup...'Here was a pause as the innkeeper stepped infront of Piosenniel '... The innkeeper!' the elf finished. None of the crew flinched they were well accustom to receiving orders in this fashion, when the situation called for it. To all outward appearance they looked as stunned and surprised by this encounter as the other patrons.

But the mans echoing laugh at the young lads question, caused them to grip their weapons tighter and they only released them when Piosenniel had sheathed her own weapon and instructed her children to join their table. The children hesitated staring after their mother, till Fastred rose "now who was it who was eyeing my seed cake, I'm sure I could be talked into sharing," he laughed jovially, giving the youngest a wink and ushering them to the table.

"Now, where were we?" Nerindel smiled taking all three children into her friendly gaze.
"You where going to tell us your names!" Cami chimed taking the largest piece of seed cake from the plate Fastred offered to them.

"Ar' ye sure your not a hobbit in disguise?" Odrin laughed eyeing the size of the piece she had taken.

"You never mind him and take as big a piece as you like lass, My name is Fastred, Musician and galley master of the Silver swan" he gave a slight bow, "and his name is Odrin Dwarven storyteller, musician and quarter master of our ship" he said casually pointing to the dwarf who bowed in his turn, his long red beard sweeping the floor as he did.

"And this pretty lady is Lírësule, Song mistress and Crows woman" Fastred continued gesturing to the elven woman sitting across from him.

"Mae govannen nessaerea" Lírësule smiled inclining her head to each of the children in turn.

"And I am Nerindel entertainer and first mate of the silver swan , the leader of this merry band." Nerindel grinned introducing herself.

"Or she would like ye te think so!" Odrin whispered to Islmir, but seeing the young lads attention still drawn to the table were his mother sat he tried a different tact. "all right! now that introductions are properly made, I think it's time for a tale o' two!" The dwarf exclaimed in his deep rumbling voice.

"Now you three what sort o' tale would ya like ta hear? or do you have a tale o' ye own ta share?" he laughed and waited to see if the prospect of a good tale would distract the lads concern.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 4:49 PM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: Nerindel ]
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Old 12-12-2003, 04:17 PM   #231
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Piosenniel

‘You are a fool, indeed, if you think the Darkness has departed altogether,’ she thought to herself, wondering if he were some sort of simpleton, or skillfully cunning to make her think so. Pio waved away the server with his offer of wine, and leaned across the table. Bird had spoken little of her time among the Beornings, only that they had been kind to her in their own way. For that kindness to her friend she was prepared to grant the man some measure of tolerance.

He looked the sort who would be a Beorning, at least as Bird had described them. She, herself, had never met one, though she had traveled somewhat where they were purported to live. Her business at that time had kept her to herself, wary of others. And she had learned from Bird since then that the Bear folk were not that sociable to those outside their kind. Her brow furrowed. As she recalled, her friend had also said they were an insular sort, not given to travel and exploration. Behind his simple explanation, there must be other desires that drove him.

Yet, here he was, saying he brought news from Imladris. And saying it quite loudly, she noted, seeing the reactions of folk to the word Beorning and how they leaned closer at the mention of Imladris. Gossip and speculation would run rampant if he continued on in this manner.

Pio put on a gracious smile and spoke low to the man. ‘Perhaps this is not the best place to share what information we might have. I would prefer to hold my business in this matter close, not sharing it with whoever might have heard bits and snippets of our conversation. Perhaps the day after tomorrow you can come to my house. We can talk there more fully.’ She gave the man directions, saying she would look for him sometime after midday. ‘I will know more then of where Bird has gone, by then,’ she thought to herself, fingering the letter she had jammed into the waistband of her breeches. ‘And more of you, if I can.’

‘Cook will make some honeycakes. Bird likes them, too, when she visits. And my children will be delighted to meet an old friend of their Auntie . . . and assist you in the disposal of the treats.’ She chuckled at the image of this man in competition with her little scavengers and cajolers. Her wager would be on them.

‘Are we agreed, then? Will you come?’

Nonesuch

Fool, waving that little potsticker at me. "Are you going to kill him" indeed! Why this little she-Elf would be lucky to stand against a cuff of my left paw! And now she fears to speak, even with me present! As if any here might threaten me. Baran sniffed with barely concealed amusement at the Elf's sudden concern, after her feeble attempt to protect her cubs. But he was in the world of Men, and he must play by the rules of the realm. And as he understood it, courtesy was required in this situation.

"Very well," he said. Then he rose and bowed politely, favoring the Elf with a smile. "I would be delighted to visit your home and discuss these matters further in the quiet of your parlor." He lifted his staff from where it was propped against a table and wandered off toward the bar...

&lt;

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 6:11 PM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 12-12-2003, 11:14 PM   #232
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Sting

When they reached the front door of the Inn of the Seventh Star, Isabel waited as Avarlond opened the heavy door for her and, rather pompously, she thought, took her elbow and guided her over the threshold into the common room of the inn. There was already a fairly good-sized crowd present, which surprised her as for the last several months the inn had been closed tighter than a oyster at low tide. She was pleased to see such a turnout now that its doors stood open again.

"She's here," Avarlond said to her in low voice, interrupting her thoughts. He nodded into the crowd at the two elves who were present. "I'm not sure which she is, but I am certain she is one of them."

Isabel nodded and allowed Avarlond to lead her to a table. She was a tall, slender woman, with a graceful air about her. Her long ash blond hair flowed down her back like a veil as she made her way across the room. Her fiancée had once told her that she reminded him of one of those long-legged, white, wading birds they saw so often standing, still and mysterious, in the shallows around the river deltas. He said she had the same elegance and fragile grace. In return, she had told him that he was a scoundrel and a shameless flatterer, and he had only laughed in response, but not denied it. The conversation had only happened a few short months ago, but now it seemed like years. First Mate on a sailing vessel, he had taken what was supposed to be only a short trading mission across the Bay of Belfalas to Umbar, but now the ship was growing overdue. No one had heard from anyone on board in weeks, and Isabel was beginning to fear that the ship had been lost at sea. So, she had sent a note to Avarlond, Airefalas’ older brother. Perhaps, she thought, he had heard something, but he had not. What he did know was that the merchant ship was co-owned by an elven woman by the name of Piosenniel. He thought he knew where he might find her.

Isabel didn’t know how Avarlond would know such a thing, but she decided not to ask. A powerful merchant, himself, he knew lots of things. Actually, she was a little bit surprised that he did not already have a passing acquaintance with this Piosenniel. He seemed to know everyone else of consequence.

Taking her seat, Isabel turned a quick glance around the room. She smiled happily when she caught sight of her friend Edelis, who was seated at a table by herself. Catching Edelis’ eye, Isabel waved. Smiling warmly, Edelis waved back.

“Your friend?” asked Avarlond, following her gaze.

“Oh, yes,” answered Isabel with a soft laugh. “Actually, I’ve just come from a wedding she hosted for her cousin, Elliana. It was quite a lovely affair. Poor Edelis! She must be exhausted.”

“I can imagine,” answered Avarlond absently, his dark eyes still studying the crowd on the other side of the room. He was a stern man, fortyish, with a handsome, though rather craggy face that was prone to frowning more often than not. So different from his younger brother. While Airefalas had definite waggish tendencies, Avarlond struck Isabel as an awful grind...but a good-hearted grind. She knew he cared deeply for the welfare of his brother.

“May I ask her to join us?” Isabel asked, indicating Edelis with a gesture.

Still standing beside Isabel’s chair, Avarlond nodded. “But of course. I will find the innkeeper. Word has it that Mr. Rimbaud is no longer here. Ah!” - he broke off abruptly - “I see the fellow now.”

“Ladies..” he nodded politely, first to Isabel and then to Edelis across the room, then turned and walked purposefully across the common room in the direction of the innkeeper. Isabel watched him go, then got to her feet. Rather than making Edelis get up and come to her, she decided to join Edelis at her table, provided she was welcome.

“Edelis!” she said, arriving before her friend. “What a lovely wedding you put on for dear Elliana. She must be so happy.’

“Oh, yes,” Edelis smiled. “Today she is the happiest I think I have ever seen her. Oh, but you should have seen her yesterday - what a nervous wreck!”

The two women shook their heads, clucking sympathetically, as Edelis offered Isabel a seat beside her. Dropping her voice, Edelis asked softly, “And what of Airefalas? Any word?”

Isabel shook her head. “None,” she replied growing suddenly serious. “Actually that’s what brings me here. The gentleman I arrived with is his brother. We came seeking information. He believes we may find the co-owner of the ship and the wife of the captain here at the inn.”

Edelis’ eyebrows raised slightly. “Both of them? Well, that’s a bit unscrupulous, isn’t it? The owner and the wife of the captain?”

Isabel paused for a moment in bewilderment then began to chuckle. “Oh, no, no...it’s not like that at all. They are one and the same. One person, I mean.”

“Oh!” Edelis began to laugh as well, tears of mirth rising in her eyes. “Oh, dear. I am tired.”

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 7:39 AM December 13, 2003: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 12-13-2003, 09:01 AM   #233
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Sting

“Yes, yes, of course you are, but it all was well worth it, wasn’t it?” Isabel said waving down a server.

“Oh to see Elliana beaming so! It was most definitely worth it, but I should think that I might warn the others in my family that there will be no more marriages until I’ve a chance to get well rested. One can take only so much of stumbling through the house to start the fire for breakfast. There have been so many bodies laying on the floor in the mornings, if not for the thunderous snores you’d think that a massacre had happened there!” Edelis laughed.

“Then they have all left now?”

“The last one early today. I’m as free as a lark and I intend to enjoy it for a while!” she said, her dark eyes smiling as a young Gondorian girl drew up to their table. Turning to her, Edelis placed their order, “Could we have two, no three glasses of wine Miss? No, no, better make that a bottle and something we might eat as well.”

“Yes, Ma’m,” the girl said hurrying across the floor.

“Ma’m?” Edelis echoed a smirk crossing her face. “Now doesn’t that make me feel old?” She flipped her dark hair over her shoulder. “You are lucky you came when you did Isabel, there was very nearly a row in here a moment ago.”

“A row? So early in the day?” the fair-haired woman remarked.

“Yes, shall I tell you of it? It seems we have a Beorning in our midst, see there he is! That large fellow there. He came looking for the elf woman at the table with him, it looked like it was going to be a bit of a challenge at first, not at all friendly. Can you believe the elf’s child actually asked if she were going to kill him? I nearly had to leave when I heard that! Entertainment is one thing but one must consider one’s safety you know.”

“Child? Which one is hers?” Isabel questioned glancing at the three handsome children in the room.

“Why, all of them!” Edelis exclaimed. “Now what sort of life this little one knows that he should ask such a question I leave you to speculate on. And what sort of mother would inspire it?” She shuttered dramatically. “Certainly not my own mother, nor any other I have known. This lady must be some sort of renegade! I only wish she would speak a little louder.”
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Old 12-13-2003, 11:59 AM   #234
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1420!

Red listened to all the people who had arrived in the last few minutes, and was quite confounded with the sheer multiplicity of them. Pio. Baran. Beorning. The girl, Mellonin, having come in the front door and stood behind his table. The inkeeper, Morien, intervened, and the tension increased! Pio, the elf woman, held a dagger. Somehow, Red was not quite sure, the tension dissipated, and then there were introductions. Auntie Bird. The Green Dragon in the Shire. Odrin. Fastred. Nerindel. 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.
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Old 12-13-2003, 10:08 PM   #235
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Sting

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." She threw a look toward the elf-lady. "I didn't think there was anything nasty about Mr. Baran. I had quite a nice talk with him yesterday. I wonder what made her so defensive." Mellonin shrugged. "Maybe I'm naive. I usually am. 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 12-14-2003, 09:16 AM   #236
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Shield

A brown and grey falcon winged overhead, circled, and spiralled down to drop a rolled scroll at the feet of the Innkeeper. He unrolled it and read to all assembled at the Seventh Star,

The Writers of the Mark invite all Gondorian gamers to join them in a battle of epic proportions at The "Snowed" Inn in Rohan (a temporary thread). Who can build the biggest snowwraith? Who will build the best orc defense? Beverages and sweets to follow. signed, Bêthberry

The Innkeeper turned to speak to the falcon, who he knew as Wyrd, but the bird had flown and was away as soon as he finished reading the scroll.
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Old 12-15-2003, 02:00 AM   #237
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Sting

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.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 7:22 AM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 12-15-2003, 03:43 AM   #238
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1420!

Rôg

Rôg followed the old man down the stairs to the Common Room. He kept his eyes on the stair treads, not wanting to be witness to any mayhem that might be taking or might have taken place. His ears, thankfully, were assaulted only by the normal sounds of the busy room. The ebb and flow of conversation was a constant back drop against which the sharp clink of mugs and glasses and the raised voices used for calling the attention of others played counterpoint. No screams. No moans. He raised his gaze and dared a look about the room.

No blood, no fallen combatant.

With a lighter tread, he stepped off the last stair and caught up with Aiwendil. The old fellow had spotted the Elf and her large table companion and was making his way toward them.

~*~

Cami

Little Cami slid off the seat of her chair, a half-eaten piece of seed-cake in her hand. Isilmir and Gilwen were just settling in to listen to some tale from the dwarf, and Cami, too, would have stayed to hear the story had she not caught the movement of two interesting folk toward her mother and the large fellow.

Scuttling toward the older fellow in his long brown robes, she fell in slightly behind and to the side of him. He reminded her of someone, she could not remember exactly who . . but it was someone her ammë had told her about in one of her stories.

The name hung on the tip of her tongue, and a few more steps alongside him, jogged it tenuously into place. Cami reached out and tugged on the man’s robe, drawing his attention. Ignoring the other fellow who looked at her askance, she waited until the old man had stopped and faced her. She smiled up at him, her cheeks dimpling, then motioned for him to bend down near her.

‘I have something to ask you,’ she said in explanation, whispering in his ear. ‘Did you know him?’ she asked, as if the old fellow might have been privy to her previous train of thoughts.

‘Know who, child?’ he said, his eyes crinkling with amusement.

‘My ammë’s friend,’ she went on, pointing toward Pio, whose back was to them. ‘She called him Uncle’ . . . Cami frowned trying to remember the rest of the name; then, her features brightened, as she recalled it.

“Uncle Leemon . . . that’s who it was. Did you know him?'

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:52 AM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 12-15-2003, 12:59 PM   #239
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Boots

Her cloak wrapped tightly around her, Bêthberry pulled Cailleach up to slow her down as they approached the Seventh Star. It wouldn't do to arrive in a mad rush and the horse needed care first.

After stabling the mare and seeing her contented with hot mash and hay, Bêthberry picked up her bundles and boxes and made her way towards the pristine white walls of the Seventh Star. She remembered her arrival a year ago, pensive and sad. So much had happened since then. This year she brought pomegranates and nuts, all manner of nuts from walnuts and pecans to cashews and hazelnuts and groundnuts. Wyrd had told her the mouse still roamed the Great Hall. She was glad he had let the little creature go; she felt in her pocket. Yes, it was there. A small piece of orange peel. She would have to leave it by the fireplace in hopes it would be found there.

The noisy chatter of the Inn spoke of its popularity. It was good to see it up and running again. Entering the door, she was immediately noticed by Estelyn, whose questioning face deserved an answer. Bêthberry hurried over.

"Yes, he has recovered. But off now on his own pursuits. Perhaps you know what is afoot. He would speak not to me of his illness and pain."

A sharp look from the woman cautioned Bêthberry to say no more of the previous innkeeper.

"I have brought pomegranates this year as my gift. Where shall I leave them?"

Estelyn called Mellonin over, for she would know where to keep them. The three clasped hands in fellowship and began to reminisce and then sought the fire to warm Bêthberry's bones, chilled by the long days' ride. There was much to catch up on.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 2:01 PM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 12-15-2003, 02:09 PM   #240
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Silmaril

Estelyn beamed – she had come at just the right time to meet Bêthberry! Her talk with Mellonin would have to wait, for the River’s granddaughter did not often come to the White City. There was much of which they would want to speak. They exchanged news of each others’ lives, shunning the topic of the whereabouts of the previous Innkeeper by mutual, silent agreement. Sharing stories was an enjoyable pastime for the Loremistress; she forgot about the intruder in the library, at least for the time being.

° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °

Later on, she smiled at Mellonin’s enthusiasm over her parchments. The young woman asked her to name those runes she did not yet know; she learned quickly, but after several, the Loremistress protested with a chuckle. “No more!” she exclaimed. “You will learn better if you practice a few at a time, repeating them often. Next time I will gladly explain the next ones. Now,” she continued, remembering her errand, “tell me about the guests that have come. Have you heard any stories worth repeating?”

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 3:09 PM December 15, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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