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Old 03-08-2003, 10:59 AM   #1
Gandalf_theGrey
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Sting Swan Wood - RPG

Welcome To Taralphiel's Swan Wood!

The sea was dark, and looked like a thin sheet of glass reflecting the sickle moon. Only a gentle breeze stirred the curtains. The trees still gave the sweet smell of summer through the open house, but it also brought the smell of evil.

In her chair the old woman sat. Her eyes stared from sea to plain, watching the rivers flow. The winds moved through her silver hair. She stood, and the trees seemed to groan and strain as she came towards them. Her eyes were a deep green, and they searched the forests. At her side was a long sword that glittered in the darkness, banished only by a few lanterns.

Slowly a figure approached the old woman and bent low. The old woman smiled

'Laurel, I have missed you so!'

The figure removed her hood to show the same startling green eyes. Her long brown hair flew softly as she ran forward and embraced her grandmother. Stepping back her smile faded

'We could not outwit them grandmother. Havlor tried to ambush them in the Southern confines of the forest but was wounded in the shoulder. The townspeople are tending to him but...' she lowered her head.

Taralphiel looked with sympathy on Laurel, and tears came to her eyes. A chill wind blew through the trees and disturbed the still ocean far below. Taralphiel walked out of the house to the edge of a cliff, with the ocean at the bottom now awoken and beating against the rock.

'Havlor is my age, and he is one of the only warriors we have left, aside from you, my granddaughter. I do not know what they are, but they take this forest. It will mean great death and pain if they do my child I do not know where they came from, or what they are. I have studied all the works of men, but I must be able to see them myself!.'

At this Laurel spoke ‘I will not let you out there grandmother. You cannot fight! You have not the strength. I know here you are safe! Do not attempt it!’

Taralphiel strained ‘You do not know my full strength! So long you protect me! I can still wield a sword!!’ at that she lifted her blade and it shone. Laurel cried out in protest ‘Do not carry that blade around grandmother! It is not safe!’

‘Little is safe here’

She turned back to her granddaughter, who was leaning on a chair. She walked forward and put her hand on her shoulder 'I must ask you to do a great deed for me child. I have avoided this for many years, and it has turned against me. I did not wish that to happen, and it has brought so much death. I fear our craft cannot prevail against this force. From what you tell me they now attack in great number, covering more ground. They have studied our ways and can predict us. They are gaining more of the forest. This cannot happen! You know this, as do the villagers. They will slaughter them all if we fail, and then they will fell this forest and the grace in it will leave this world, which is a great tragedy.'

Taralphiel straightened 'I will do it grandmother, name the task, and I will complete it!'

‘You are brave, Laurel, very brave. And I thank thee for it. Your father and mother are to be thanked for that too… But this is not the time for that. This is your task. You must go out of this forest and town, out of this land. We must find help. I would much rather do it on my own, but my old bones do not will it' Taralphiel sighed. Her gaze became grave and set

'You must travel to Calembel. I have sent word to each of the free peoples I have had associations with. Rohan, Gondor, and the remaining in Mirkwood. You must bring them back here. I will not surrender this forest! Not while I live!'

'Nor will I!' said Laurel 'I will go'

Then Laurel paused

‘Grandmother, I see that the Free Peoples can help us, but few know of Alphirion. We are a place unknown. Who will help?’

‘The Rohirrim swore an oath to Eriador to help me and my children. They also swore to tell none of the forest of the Swans. Some of the town of Calembel now are nobility in Gondor. They too, remember my deeds. They will not cower form evil Laurel. And as for the Elves, they remember me in my youth as it were but a season ago. They will know the truth. They know what is in my forest and will aid us. If there are any of their fair folk left. For I fear that the boats from the Grey Havens are all but set out to the Undying Lands, the Blessed Realms of lore to our people. That was their fate. I can only imagine ours’ Taralphiel trailed off, and then looked back up

‘Do you understand my child? You must ride to Calembel at dawn tomorrow. The journey will be a few days, but when you arrive they will be there. Hold council if you will and come back as fast as you can. For then our forest will be unguarded. Then there will be forces to drive this evil out.’

That night Laurel rested in the open house of the Swan Lady Taralphiel. The next day she would set out on a journey that would be as great as her grandmothers and was of greater need than any in her mind. She was still reluctant. She did not want to leave the forest unattended, for the danger that would come. But no-one else knew where Calembel was, nor had the skill to get there. But if she did succeed, these people would help her, and that gave her strength. She would succeed; she would bring back her Allies to drive the last Dark Forces out of her grandmothers’ realm. With that resolve set, Laurel closed her eyes, falling asleep to the sounds of the Sea and distant song of the Trees.

Laurel rode over the Plains, the wind beating at her face, stinging her eyes. Ahead was her goal, Calembel. She had ridden for three days, seldom stopping to allow and to approach her. A strange sight she must have seemed, a loan armed shieldmaiden in this time of peace. But not in all places was there peace. Calembel soon appeared. The small town of quaint builings was long left. Its walls were crumbling and grass and moss clung to fixtures once proud. Entering the town centre, she saw a group awaiting. She dismounted her horse and spoke

‘I am Laurel of Alphirion. Who art thou?’
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Old 03-10-2003, 06:42 AM   #2
Aylwen Dreamsong
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Sting

Jesslyn Stone’s footsteps could hardly be heard on the long-left roads of Calembel. Walking through the deserted town was certainly strange, but Jess was used to strange occurrences. Arriving through the south gate, Jess had traveled from her home in Tarnost. An awkward site she must have been, clad in black in a shade matching her wild, short hair and hazy grey eyes searching the old town.

Tall moss-covered buildings lined the roads, and it seemed to Jess that the people of Calembel left in a hurry. Pots and tarps still filled and covered shops and doors of homes were flung open. Jess’s eyes darted to and fro examining each house and shop as her brothers had taught her. Maybe she wouldn’t be here if one of her brothers were not serving Gondor. Adventure was one thing, but upholding the family honour was another, much more important reason for being in Calembel. Of course Jess wanted to rid her home forest of raiders and rogues.

Reaching the center of the town, she saw a few other Humans and Elves, gathered around a large fountain that had long been dry of water. Jess remained silent, and showed no emotion on her face.

Riding up on a horse came a woman with long brown hair and striking green eyes. After a quick glance at the group that had gathered, the woman dismounted and spoke to the people in a grand, proud voice.

“I am Laurel of Alphirion. Who art thou?”

None of the others spoke first, so Jess took a step forward from her place and bowed gallantly. Smiling and withdrawing her sword, Jesslyn Stone’s eyes looked over the taller, green-clad human.

“I am Jesslyn Stone. I hail from the town of Tarnost, just south of here. I offer my sword to any attempt to rid Dor-En-Ernil of raiders and such barbarians. Long has my family and village stood by, not knowing what to do, and now that we gather here to destroy the force that threatens us, we know what we must do. We must defend our land and people. Not many of us residents of the forest have gone without losing a family member to the raiders, and I am here to avenge their deaths and prevent more.” Jesslyn lifted her chin proudly, and sheathed her sword.

~*~

The white stallion carrying Cartil Stone trotted along the street of Calembel. After having ridden south from Minas Tirith, Cartil traveled west to reach the empty town. He even visited his hometown of Tarnost along the way. His younger sister was not there, but he promised himself that he would visit his favorite sibling when all was done with the raiders.

Going through the south entrance into the town, Cartil felt chilled to the bone as he looked about the place. A slight wind whipped at Cartil’s cloak, and his hazel eyes were filled with great anticipation as he neared the center of Calembel. When he turned a corner, Cartil came into view of a great fountain, though no water fell from the great stone statues that stood from the center of the fountain basin. There were a few others grouped about the fountain.

A woman shot through the quiet scene on her horse, and when she reached the grouping, she dismounted and began to speak.

“I am Laurel of Alphirion. Who art thou?” Her loud voice echoed and bounced about the crumbling buildings.

Then, a younger woman strode forward and began to speak. That voice sounds so familiar... Cartil thought. Turning so that he could see the girl past the others who had come to Calembel, he almost fell off his stationary horse. It was Jess! His sister spoke now the brown haired horse-woman.

“Jess!” was all Cartil managed to cry out as he leapt off his horse and led it to the company that surrounded the fountain. Jess turned to face whoever had called her name, and her eyes widened as she took in the sight before her. She ran from her spot and when she was close enough the Cartil she jumped up and hugged her brother.

“What are you doing here?” Cartil asked, though his voice was muffled as Jess had her hands tightly wound about his neck. Only when she finally detangled her arms from his neck did she answer his question, -

“I’m here to help get the forest back! What are you doing here?” Jess interrogated after she answered. But Cartil noticed all the others of the group staring at the two, and he hushed his sister and continued over to the company.

“Forgive me! I have not introduced myself! I am Cartil Stone; I come here as a representative of the King Elessar and his Reunited Kingdom, especially Minas Tirith. I bring greetings and well wishes from the King,” Cartil spoke in a stately voice and withdrew a parchment from his cloak pocket. It was elegantly rolled and tied with string.

“I am Laurel of Alphirion,” The woman began again, and Cartil handed her the parchment.

[ May 07, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 03-10-2003, 06:48 AM   #3
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Sting

To Sir Thagon Kestner and Leena Midthun:

Greetings and may the blessings of Namo and Nienna be upon you. A matter of some importance has come up concerning an enclave in the Swan Wood in Dor-En-Ernil. A band of raiders have been slaughtering the inhabitants, and word of their plight has reached the ears of King Elessar. The matriarch of the enclave has requested aid from Gondor.

You will proceed to the assembly point in the central square of the abandoned town of Calembel. So far, we have not been able to determine the identity of these raiders. Aid the group in their quest with the normal restrictions. Only make formal contact with the Hosts in case of a dire emergency. Travel as a knight of the Order and show the King’s subjects his fist.

Valar bless,
Lord Ecthal, Chapter Master of the Order of the Black Rose
Minas Anor


***
Leena Midthun cursed long and loudly as she ran her favorite ivory comb through tangled black hair. She was a city girl, and a week of tramping around the countryside did not agree with her. If that wasn’t bad enough, the bedroll she had used in her teenage years no longer fit her six foot two inch frame. Her normally pretty face was marred by a deep scowl, and her steel gray eyes blazed as if she had received some mortal insult. Finally satisfied with her appearances, the Gondorian woman took a few deep breaths. On a whole, the priestesses of Nienna were fairly calm and soft spoken, and an ill-timed curse would not help her public image.

She idly smoothed a few wrinkles out of the simple gray dress she wore. It had an annoying tendency to get caught underfoot in a fight, but more than one man had earned a sound beating after mistaking her for easy pickings. The suit of chain mail she had hidden under her cloathing clinked softly as she attached the sheath of her Schlaeger to her belt. Leena had received the weapon from her godmother after her first mission for the Order, and she had valued it every since. She gripped the hilt, the embrace of the heavy iron basket on the pommel somewhat comforting. It made a slight rasping sound as it slid out of its sheath. Outwardly, the weapon resembled the fencing foils so popular with young nobles. In truth, the steel blade was just as deadly as the bastard sword her friend used.

After taking a few experimental swings with the weapon, Leena gracefully returned it to her sheath before glancing around the campsite. Their cooking gear and tent were safely packed on the back of their pack horse, and the fire pit had been filled in. Cheery rays of light began to peel back the last vestiges of night as the sun began to rise. In an action that seemed completely out of character, Leena turned toward the still dark western horizon and began to sing in a soft voice. The ancient hymn had no words, but the sad melody reminded those who listened about the Weeping Goddess.

Sir Thagon Kestner bowed his head and muttered a silent prayer before turning his attention back to his equipment. One of the first lessons members of the Order of the Black Rose learned was to reserve a special time during the day for devotions. While he performed devotions first thing after waking up, Leena had always been partial to the sunrise. The knight’s six foot four inch body, built somewhat like a small bear, began to cast a long shadow in the new sunlight. Turgon idly pulled his black hair into a rough ponytail before placing his helm on his head. This helm, while made of fine black steel, was crafted in the same design as the mirthil helms of the Citadel Watch, had saved his life more than once.

The knights of the Order of the Black Rose had long ago dismissed plate armor as too clumsy and too heavy for extended field use. Instead, the servants of Gondor wore a collection of chain mail and steel plates often referred to as partial plate armor. Thagon’s chain mail hauberk hung halfway down to his knees, allowing him enough freedom of movement to quickly mount a horse. A pair of black steel greaves were strapped over his boots, reaching from his ankle to his knees. His large hands were enclosed in black steel gauntlets, and a pair of black bracers extending from his wrist to his elbows protected his forearms. The breastplate, like every other piece of steel on his body, was black. While mostly unadorned, the insignia of the White Tower on a white shield that marked him as a member of the elite Citadel Watch was clearly engraved in the middle of the black steel plate.

While Thagon was a firm believer that practicality was beauty, he had allowed himself a small indulgence today. A dark red cape with a large black rose embroidered in the center fell from a pair of silver clasps on his shoulder, silently moving in the morning breeze. The back scabbard that normally housed his bastard sword was protruded from behind the cape at the hip and the right shoulder, though it was empty at the moment. The blade of the knight’s bastard sword was four feet six inches of razor sharp steel. While the hilt and crosspiece was rather simple, his proud parents had paid a local silversmith to guild their son’s sword, a gesture of kindness that their son would not soon forget. After critically examining the edges of the sword once more, he strapped a shield with the crest of the Order to his left hand. With a grace born of years of practice, he pulled himself onto Garion, his brown warhorse’s back.

Leena, having just completed her morning meditation, quickly mounted her white palfrey and cast a mocking look at her friend. “Well, my dear knight and protector, lead the way. You smell like a rusty iron kettle, so don’t look too surprised if I try to stay upwind of you.

***

Thagon gently patted the nose of white palfrey that Leena rode. Unlike its mistress, it was a gentle beast and not given to the prancing and dancing of its younger relatives. Despite her dress, the task of searching for a possible ambush had fallen on Leena, and Thagon would have to find some way to pass the time until she returned. The knight double-checked the knots securing the three hourses to a nearby tree before wandering into the ruins of a stone house on the outskirts of town. His right hand scrapped against a wall, its metal covering tearing out a good-sized piece of moss. Despite the years of ruin, some black soot (or was it soil?) remained on the stones. Frowning, Thagon pondered on how the village had been abandoned. Had the village been raided by orcs during the War of the Ring? Did a band of bandits fall on the town before being captured by the Hosts? Or had commerce simply died out?

Dropping the clump of moss with a sudden revulsion, the knight turned and briskly walked back to Garion. The warhorse barely paid any heed to his master as Thagon dug through one of the saddlebags on the campaign saddle. His fingers drew the broad-bladed spear point into the light. Eschewing the effective but clumsy lances of Dol Amroth, the Order’s combat doctrine borrowed heavily from the cavalry of Rohan. The shaft of the spear had been snapped in the last large engagement that Thagon had participated in, and the Gondorian had yet to remount the head. A unit of twenty knights of the Order, traveling from Dol Amroth to Gondor, stumbled on a group of bandits indulging the darker impulses of human nature on a village. The knights had charged through the village, reformed, and charged back, killing all thirty foes in less than five minutes. He could still remember the bodies of children lying in the streets, their small bodies illuminated by the fires that consumed many of the houses. Why does there always have to be fire?

Dismissing his moment of silent melancholy, the knight put the spear point back into the saddlebag. He would have to find a suitable shaft when they reached the Swan Woods, and that would be the end of it. Chain mail clinked against steel as Thagon spun, his hand automatically reaching for the hilt of his sword.

Leena’s face bore a look of almost girlish innocence as she stepped out from the ruins of the house Thagon had been examining. Her eyes, however, danced with a mocking mirth not unlike a wolf who had just cornered its prey. “Would you strike a priestess of your order?”

Thagon’s hands quickly untied their animals before he turned to face his friend. “Leena, you’re a priestess for the duration of this mission. Please remember that Elenna had trouble keeping a straight face during the ceremony, and all twenty knights currently in the chapter house were laughing their heads off outside the chapel.”

“Be nice of I’ll bore you to death with one of my sermons,” retorted the girl, her lips creasing into a pout.

Thagon grunted and strapped his shield to his left arm. While the protection offered by a shield was comforting, its weight was an annoyance. “Fine. I take it the ruins are clear?”

Leena nodded as she mounted her horse. “The only souls here are gathered in the town square. A whole bunch of men, a girl, and a spattering of elves.”
***

The sound of a horse galloping through the ruined streets of the dead town caused the hodgepodge of adventurers to look up from the various tasks. A few undoubtedly had dozed off, storing away sleep for days and weeks ahead. Others exchanged banter and stories as they waited for the messenger from the Swan Woods. Still others cared for their equipment, sharpening weapons and oiling armor. Thagon critically examined the blade of his main gauche before returning it and a sharpening stone to the respective compartments on his belt. With a grunt of exertion, the knight pulled himself to his feet. It was no small matter to stand when wearing metal armor.

Leena’s busy fingers pulled the needle in and out of Thagon’s black traveling cloak, deftly closing a rip caused by passing a tree at full gallop. Finally satisfied with her work, she returned her working materials to the packhorse. The revelation that his fiery partner sewed had come as a great shock to Thagon. He had spent weeks attempting to reconcile this sedate hobby with its unusual owner, finally coming to the conclusion that it was simply an act. Leena smiled to herself as she watched him draw his bastard sword for the third time in ten minutes. In truth, she did like to sew. It gave her something to do when not working. She idly tucked a few strands of stray hair behind an ear before joining the others in their vigil

The conversation and activity slowly came to a stop as man and elf waited with baited breath. They were not disappointed this time. Thagon’s eyes immediately began to observe her, probing for weaknesses or habits that could be exploited. It wasn’t that he disliked her, but he taught long ago that a little fore planning never hurt anyone. He noted that both the horse and mistress looked exhausted from their journey. Either she was seriously overestimating the danger, or the threat had increased since the Order had heard of their plight. Her choice of vocabulary was unexpected, but not unusual. He made a mental note to inquire about that later.

Leena watched as Jesslyn and Cartil greeted each other, her gray eyes brimming with some interest. In her option, the girls and ladies of Minas Anor had grown a trifle soft. Jess was brimming with zeal and not afraid of adventure, two traits Leena appreciated. Cartil, on the other hand, might prove an interesting challenge. The Order hadn’t been informed that the king would be sending a representative. But such thoughts could wait. Leena breathed deeply waited for Laurel to inquire about their identities again.

“Who art thou?”

“Greeting, Lady of Alphirion. My name is Leena Midthun, priestess of the Weeping Goddess. Rumors of your plight have reached the ear of one of Nienna’s servants. Her heart was greatly troubled, and she ordered her followers to assist you in any way you need. I will be the first to admit that I am not militant by nature, but I will aid you in any way possible.”

Thagon suppressed a boyish grin as he listened to Leena speak. She could normally speak circles around the head of any mortal, but her performance today was dazzling. Never the one to allow an opportunity to pass, Thagon immediately followed up on her speech.

“And I, Lady Laurel, am Sir Thagon Kestner of the Order of the Black Rose. The priestess has ordered me to aid you in your quest along with Lady Midthun. By the will of Namo, my blade will aid you in the protection of your home.”
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Old 03-10-2003, 08:01 AM   #4
Annunfuiniel
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Sting

Annunfuin had ridden for what felt like forever. He was too anxious to get to Calembel to care about the lands that he passed on his way. Rugged mountains surrounded him but in the southeast as he crossed the river Ringló near Ethring. He was now following the same route that his King had traveled with the host of the Dead.

Annunfuin reached the gates of Calembel when the sun had already started to sunk towards the horizon. His black Guard uniform had turned grey of dust and he was tired of the days of travel but his senses were as sharp as ever. Everything seemed quiet but silence didn't calm his heart - quite on the contrary. Born and raised in the lively City of Gondor this stillness of the air felt strange and threatening to him.

Annunfuin's mother had used to tell him about this town she was born in; how she met his father and they fell in love. But what he saw now had nothing in resemblance to that town of his mother's stories. Annunfuin made his way pass the deserted houses with their hollow windows that seemed to watch his every step and finally reached the town centre.

Group of people had already gathered around a drained fountain. Annunfuin's eyes narrowed as he glanced over the party. A couple of elves and... I have seen some of these people before, he thought as he dismounted his horse and nodded to company. But he didn't have time to consider this any further as he suddenly heard the sound of hooves approaching from the same direction he had just come. Everyone was at once alert so the relief was great as the comer turned out to be a lonely rider. Her green eyes sparkled in the light of the setting sun as she said in a voice full of pride: "I am Laurel of Alphirion. Who art thou?"

Annunfuin waited for someone else to make the first move for he was in no hurry anymore. He saw how a young woman stepped forward and introduced herself offering her sword to service. Jesslyn was her name. She had just stated her name when a young man shouted: "Jess!". As he came closer Annunfuin became certain that this was one he really knew already. Cartil, yes, that's his name, Annunfuin remembered before the man got to introduce himself. They had met many times in Minas Tirith but hadn't really been in any closer contact. But this might be a good time to get to know him better, Annunfuin considered.

Next one to speak was another woman, Leena, not much older than the previous. After she had finished a tall man (as tall as Annunfuin himself but much more heavy built), which seemed to be former's companion, took his turn. This man, Sir Thagon, was one who Annunfuin had thought he had recognised but his name didn't sound familiar to him. He must have spent a lot of time out of the City for otherwise we should have met. Annunfuin woke from his thoughts and decided it was his turn to speak up. "I am Annunfuin and come too from Minas Tirith. Our high King Elessar sent me here and these are his words: 'Do not loose hope for Gondor has not forgotten ye!'" His chain mail made clinking sound as he stepped forward, bowed his head slightly and unsheathed his sword. "So here is my sword that has faithfully served the King - may it now serve the Lady of Alphirion and her people!"

[ March 10, 2003: Message edited by: Annunfuiniel ]
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Old 03-11-2003, 07:31 AM   #5
Manardariel
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"Fiona! Fiona!! Will you come here?!?" An shrill, loud and stern voice rang through the crisp morning air. Fiona stuck her tounge out at the shouter -her oldest sister Rian- and ran for her life. Swiftly she climed up a tree, crouching in one of his highest brances. She heard footsteps below her. Carefully she peeked down, and could just see Rian, looking around. The older girl called out one last time, then, muttering occaisionally about "that girl" returned into the house.

Fiona breethed out. She didn´t know what she had done this time, but, knowing Rian, it was something "un-ladylike". She groaned. Why couldn´t her sister just leave her alone??? A second later she was pulled out of her thoughts by a rustling next to her.

"Porridge!". A squirrel stood before her. Fiona "greeted" it friendly. Porridge was not her pet, but of all the animals that were friends, the squirrel was her favourite. As usually, he guessed she was in a bad mood. He climed up her lap and started licking her tummy. It tickeled. Fiona giggeled. Oh, Porrige was such a good friend...

"Hey, Fio!" She cought a hissing voice, and a blink of an eye later, a pebble narrowly missed her eye. she cought in mid air.

Hey, Sis
I heard you got Rian mad once more.
Good job, keep it up. Oh, and if you care for breakfast with your brothers, we´re in the treehouse.
Hurin


Fiona smiled. Her brothers were best! Grinning broadly, she climed down the tree again, Porrige following closely.

[ March 23, 2003: Message edited by: Manardariel ]
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Old 03-12-2003, 03:49 PM   #6
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Silmaril

Lanaey sheilded her eyes against the setting sun as she entered Calembel. No one had yet answered the summons for help, so Lanaey went to a space near the town centre to set up her camp for the night.
"Heya, Drass. Here's some hot mesh for your hard riding." If it was one thing Drass loved it was a good rub down, but since she had already gotten that from her master, hot mesh was next on the list.
After making sure her horse was well sated in munching off to one side, Lanaey sat down in front of her little fire, staring into it's depths. I have fire in me, Lanaey reflected. All it does is consume. Never ending and always demanding, it is never sated. Looking into the sky she wondered if this fight would make any difference. None of the others had, no matter how much good was done or saved - it just hadn't mattered. Sighing, she rolled into her bedroll and stared into the night until her body finally fell asleep.

Lanaey woke the next day very rested, which was a good thing considering she hadn't slept for at least a week. She felt sleeping now would help her for the upcoming days of travel and fight. Stretching out of sleep, she got another fire going since the previous one had died to still embers. Before she would break her fast she needed to do her morning exercises. Gathering all her weapons she spread them out in front of her in a specified manner. Glancing around quickly, she sighted all of the targets that she would use while practicing in the ruins around her. Crouching low to the ground, she mentally started her exercises before actually moving any muscles. Slow breathing and meditation prepared her. When she did finally move her limbs, it was slow and deliberate. Light touch, shift, pivot, turn.... Gradually it got faster until she was whirling around, looking out of control but completely in control. In a turn she bent low and grabbed a long knife. Swiftly it became a part of her, flowing as if truly connected to her. In another move she grabbed the second long knife and started using them together in her movements. Now her movements took on a quality of attacking unseen enemies while still continually moving. After several minutes she threw first one, then the other long knife into a nearby fallen tree. Flipping around she now moved on to her throwing knives, picking up one at a time and trowing it into a target before getting another - always moving so fluidly so as to appear almost dancing. One knive was thrown into a niche in a stone wall, another into a tree further away, all being thrown to specific places until all were now part of the land about her. Never stopping she moved onto her sword, making it an extension of her arm, whichever was holding it at the time. Now, she started to slow down, gradually taking it down step by step. Soon she seemed to be pacing in a pattern. While still moving, she put her sword down and grabbed her bow with five arrows. Turn, nock, fire, side-step, nock, fire...all the arrows hit their marks, high and low. Once more she picked up her sword after placing the bow down and did more cooling down till she crouched again on the ground with her sword layed in front of her. Feeling relaxed she retrieved her weapons around the site, then set about for her first meal of some porridge, her last of it in fact.
Throughout the day Lanaey searched the ruins, noting various little things about it. She also exercised Drass around Calembel. When people started arriving she picked a spot in the back of the town centre and offered no conversation other than to confirm that this was Calembel. When Laurel of Alphirion showed up, Lanaey kept to the back until all others were introduced. Walking to the fore, she looked into Laurel's green eyes without offering her hand.
"Lady, my name is Lanaey and my services are yours for the time being."
Then she retreated back to her spot.
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Old 03-12-2003, 05:19 PM   #7
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Pipe

Annanoldowen sat at the large cedar desk in the library of Rivendell. Skimming over the recent policies of the Order of the Black Rose. A glass of red wine sat beside her work along with a plate of bread and cheese, her usual evening meal. She refolded the parchment and set it on a stack of other papers. Rubbing her eyes she leaned back in the ornately decorated chair. A messenger came before her then and bowed low in respect for the elf before him. Standing again he announced,

“My Lady Annanoldowen, there is a messenger from Calembel to see you.” The she-elf nodded,

“Show him in.” The messenger left, and then returned with a young boy no older than twenty years of age. He stomped once and bowed before her.

“I bring word from Kemenheruwen. There is a council forming in Calembel at the request of Lady Laurel, granddaughter to Lady Talaphiel of Alphirion.” Annanoldowen nodded. Her friend, Kemenheruwen, one of the last earth masters in Middle Earth still dwelt in the deserted town of Calembel. In the cellar of her apothecary among old jars and plants, she studied the elements and ways of the earth. She was an elf of Mirkwood, and once her knowledge was complete in the ways of medicines and such, she would return and offer herself in service to Thranduil, but until then, she educated herself. Annanoldowen had met her in Mirkwood, many years ago, when she traveled hence to learn more about their society in the ancient, now corrupted forest of Greenwood.

The other name that was familiar to her was the Lady Talaphiel of Alphirion. She had heard of the influence of this great woman in many a city of men. Annanoldowen respected her accomplishments, and was interested in Kemenheruwen’s request. The earth master would have little to do with such meticulous events, so Annanoldowen decided she would investigate. Dismissing the messengers, she retired to her chambers.

She discarded her elegant dress for one of a grey hue, useful for travel. Folding other clothes into a saddlebag, she tied it shut and placed it on the floor by her bed. The elf then retrieved her sword and tied it around her waist. It’s intricate scabbard a matching addition to her entourage. Slipping out of the room, carrying her saddlebag, she moved quickly, but silently down the hall to the stables where she kept her horse, Taurawaa, one of Mearas. She slipped a saddle over the horse’s silver grey coat and secured her saddlebag in the back. Mounting in a flurry of grey and silver robes, she exited the stables and galloped out of Rivendell, south towards Calembel.

The wind was fierce as it fought to throw Annanoldowen from her mount. Bending low over the neck of her steed, she shot through the air like an arrow. Her journey to Calembel would take her the better part of a week atop any other horse, but Taurawaa got her there in two days. She entered through the back of the city and found the apothecary where her friend lived. Leading the horse right into the building, she descended the stairs to her friend’s quarters.

“Annanoldowen? Is that you?” A grey haired elf stood as she saw her old friend enter the room. The two friends embraced. “It’s been so long.” Kemenheruwen motioned towards a chair and supplied her friend with some wine and bread. Annanoldowen accepted gratefully. The two elves talked at length of their lives since their last meeting only fifty years ago. When they were caught up, Kemenheruwen changed to more serious matters. She informed Annanoldowen of the raids, and the desertion of Calembel. The Rivendell elf listened intently, taking in everything.

“Now Laurel is here, and a group of elves and men have gathered at the old fountain in the center of town.” Kemenheruwen fiddled idly with a jar of some mystic herb on the table.

“Have you approached them?” asked Annanoldowen, taking a delicate sip of her drink. The earth master shook her head,

“No. I am not good with people, you know. The people started arriving a week ago, and from the conversations I overheard hiding in the shadows, this is all I’ve learned. I sent Fithan to summon you. I knew that your knowledge may help rid Alphirion of the raiders.” Annanoldowen ate silently for a while in thought.

“So the raiders are unknown.” Kemenheruwen nodded. When the newcomer finished eating, Kemenheruwen stood and donned her cloak. Annanoldowen did likewise and followed the earth master out the apothecary towards the gathering of elves and men.

The two friends hovered in the shadows watching the council, the Rivendell elf trying to make out any information by movement and gestures.

“What do you think?” asked the earth master watching the other.

“Stay here.” Annanoldowen emerged like a wraith from the darkness. Eyes were slowly averted as she approachd. Her beauty was stunning and the sudden appearance of such an elf among them was baffling. Annanoldowen seemed to float gracefully towards them, until she stood in front of Laurel. The elf bowed and introdued herself.

“I am Annanoldowen of Rivendell.” Recognition flashed in Laurel’s eyes as she mouthed the name.

“A messenger came to me two nights ago during my studies, informing me of this gathering informing me of this gathering. I arrived immediately.” Laurel wondered how in the world she arrived so fast when Taurawaa emerged from the back road and came to stand beside her master.

“I am familiar with your grandmother, Laurel, and would be honored to be of some help. My skill in fighting is not my strongest point, therefore I would like to offer my knowledge.” The elf’s presence was so commanding, the group stood speechless. She stood higher than any of them, and her horse was a perfect match to her elegance. A radiant glow seemed to protrude from behind her somewhere, setting alight the golden threads on her head. Annanoldowen waited patiently, memorizing every face in the council as Laurel welcomed her.
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Old 03-15-2003, 05:12 AM   #8
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Sting

At Calembel, the gathering of people were almost done with their introductions. A soft breeze blew the dust from the old worn road towards the company waiting by the waterless fountain. But after the breeze had died, the dust continued to blow in. The keenest eyed of the little crowd were the first to realize that a party of horsemen were approaching them swiftly.

A dust cloud hurled around the corner of the ruined city’s main road and came to a halt in the square. As the swirling veil of sand lifted, there could be distinguished 13 well-armed Riders of Rohan. Immediately after stopping his large stallion, one of the Riders dismounted with a skillful flourish and stepped forward. The rider was very tall, easily towering over even the Gondorians. He was also thin, but seemingly muscular, which he undoubtedly was from daily weapon training. Upon his head, he bore a steel helm that was fashioned in the style of the Rohirrim, and he promptly removed it to reveal neat golden locks of shoulder-length hair. The Man of Rohan lifted his face to the small crowd, and they found him to have boldly formed facial features, fair skin and sky blue eyes. The man’s facial form went well with his trim golden beard to give him a very handsome appearance. Before he began to speak, he caught Leena’s eye and gave her a charming smile. Then, he addressed the gathering of races with a loud, clear voice that spoke elegantly enough for it to be the voice of a minstrel.

“Greetings my friends and future companions,” the speaker began. “I am Herebrand son of Halador, the leader of this Rohirrim patrol. We are here today to give this message to the people of Swan-wood that was spoken by King Eomer himself: ‘the people of Rohan have not forgotten their promise. We will readily aid you so that your peaceful realm shall not perish for generations to come.’ My men and I pledge our lives to assist your people in ridding your home of raiders and marauders. We are an elite patrol commissioned by Prince Elfwine the Fair to perform special assignments for the Marshals of the Mark, and we will not leave until our job is done!”

This statement was greeted by applause from the gathering, and Herebrand returned to the safety of the horses to speak with his men. His voice lost its regal quality as he conversed animatedly with two of the rohirrim for a few moments. Subsequently, he stepped forward and addressed the assembly again. “Also may I introduce you to Ohtaredan, my second-in-command, and Ilisit Scron, a new addition to my patrol, but nevertheless an expert tracker and warrior.”
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Old 03-15-2003, 08:10 AM   #9
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Sting

As Ohtaredan listened to Herebrand's pledge to the small crowd to help them in their need, he felt the emotions of the warrior stir within him; desire to do good, to help those in danger. But he could feel them sink as the people cheered, being dragged down with the feelings of wistful absence. His hand brushed the hilt of his sword. It was a nice hilt on an even finer sword. When his father had to told him finally that he was going to join the Riders of Rohan, he'd gone outside by himself, behind the house, to the anvil that sat waiting and inviting, always, and began to make the sword. It had taken him the entire week, working from the evening well into the night, but it was ready when he joined up. Gostannendoll (roughly "feared dark" in Sindarin), he had named the blade, and while it had proved useful on many occasions with the guard, it also proved to be a somewhat upsetting reminder of what his family had made him give up, no matter how dearly he loved and respected Herebrand and the others, or cherished the feelings of valor he found himself rewarded with much of the time.

Ohtaredan looked up sharply, realizing that Herebrand was speaking to him and Ilisit. He smiled obligingly at Herebrand as the leader turned back to the group, introducing them.

“Also may I introduce you to Ohtaredan, my second-in-command, and Ilisit Scron, a new addition to my patrol, but nevertheless an expert tracker and warrior.”

Ohtaredan stepped forward, eyeing those before him with the strength he knew he possessed, and would demonstrate amply, before this was done.

"I wish only to be of aid," he said softly.
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Old 03-17-2003, 03:35 AM   #10
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Silmaril

Laurel set her green eyes around the square. Many had gathered here, and the town seemed almost alive. But her call to the crowd, even for a brief moment, fell in the death that was this place.

Quickly, people filed forward to offer greetings, and she looked straight into their faces with the depth of her skill. Laurel had learnt to look into the souls of those she meets through their eyes, a trick of Taralphiel, and this was no better time to use it. First a woman of Gondor came forward. Her black hair shone around her shoulders, and her youthful grin drew attention from all standing there. She bowed low, and offered her sword in the custom of old, then said: “I am Jesslyn Stone. I hail from the town of Tarnost, just south of here. I offer my sword to any attempt to rid Dor-En-Ernil of raiders and such barbarians. Long has my family and village stood by, not knowing what to do, and now that we gather here to destroy the force that threatens us, we know what we must do. We must defend our land and people. Not many of us residents of the forest have gone without losing a family member to the raiders, and I am here to avenge their deaths and prevent more.” Laurel felt great comfort in her words.

As she was speaking, a roar came from the crowd “Jess!” Laurel watched as a young man made his way through the crowd and embraced Jesslyn. He had the same flowing dark hair and cheerful eyes. He produced a parchment, and offered many pardons: “Forgive me! I have not introduced myself! I am Cartil Stone; I come here as a representative of the King Elessar and his Reunited Kingdom, especially Minas Tirith. I bring greetings and well wishes from the King,” Cartil spoke in a stately voice and handed the parchment to her. It was elegantly rolled and tied with string. Looking gratefully at the man, she gave quick thanks. ‘They are of Dor-en-ernil, they are true, I have little to doubt’ she thought.


Next came forward another woman of Gondor; beautiful, dark haired, and sprite eyed. The woman spoke cheerfully “Greeting, Lady of Alphirion. My name is Leena Midthun, priestess of the Weeping Goddess. Rumors of your plight have reached the ear of one of Nienna’s servants. Her heart was greatly troubled, and she ordered her followers to assist you in any way you need. I will be the first to admit that I am not militant by nature, but I will aid you in any way possible.” Laurel set her eyes on hers, and saw naught. Next came her companion. His neatly tied black hair swayed with his cape, and she watched him carefully. He spoke: “And I, Lady Laurel, am Sir Thagon Kestner of the Order of the Black Rose. The priestess has ordered me to aid you in your quest along with Lady Midthun. By the will of Namo, my blade will aid you in the protection of your home.” His grey eyes were full of the same. Laurel mused quietly to herself ‘They are masking their motives, and I cannot trust that. Order of the Rose? Nienna’s Priesthood? I must ask grandmother of this.’ He simply stood aside, and it seemed to her that he too, was observing her.

Another man, who had kept to himself, now spoke. Garbed in the black of the White Tower Guard, his eyes were full of pride and seriousness, and an air of honour showed her she had naught to fear “I am Annunfuin and come too from Minas Tirith. Our high King Elessar sent me here and these are his words: 'Do not loose hope for Gondor has not forgotten ye!’” Again the customs of Gondor were shown to her before he spoke again. "So here is my sword that has faithfully served the King - may it now serve the Lady of Alphirion and her people!" She nodded and smiled, and told him to rise. ‘Thankyou’ she breathed.

Then came the Elves. Some wind seemed to blow through the town, for a different air flowed around the clothes of these ethereal beings. First, was a she-elf: "Lady, my name is Lanaey and my services are yours for the time being." Her greeting was brief, but a royal glow was in her eyes, royal and sorrowful. ‘She has the air of my grandmother’ smiled Laurel. Scanning the crowd, she spotted an Elf out of the way. He was dark and fey, and made Laurel shudder ‘why is he here?’ she thought. Then out of the crowd came another she-elf, but this one was of a commanding air. All stood silent as she spoke, and none moved: “I am Annanoldowen of Rivendell.” She said. At the sound of the name, Laurel jerked. Her grandmother had mentioned it once. ‘She is a great Elf, and wise, I have only met her once, but she is one of the great’ Laurel smiled in recognition “A messenger came to me two nights ago during my studies, informing me of this gathering. I arrived immediately.” At that a horse of great beauty stood beside her and many that had skill in them gasped at the sight of it “I am familiar with your grandmother, Laurel, and would be honored to be of some help. My skill in fighting is not my strongest point, therefore I would like to offer my knowledge.” Laurel saw the glow of Elfinesse around her, and thought to bow, but considered otherwise. She replied simply ‘I thank you deeply for it. Though my grandmother has changed in times past, she will remember thee, and be glad to have you on our quest’

As she had done so, she turned to see a cavalry of hardy travel worn horses come into the square. The rumble lifted her ochre-coloured hair off her shoulders, and she shielded her eyes from the dust. Three men deftly dismounted their horses and stepped forward. The first man of Rohan was tall and strong, and his yellow eyes seemed to take her to plains and Golden halls. He flashed a smile at Leena, who flushed, then turned and proudly spoke: “Greetings my friends and future companions, I am Herebrand son of Halador, the leader of this Rohirrim patrol. We are here today to give this message to the people of Swan-wood that was spoken by King Eomer himself: ‘the people of Rohan have not forgotten their promise. We will readily aid you so that your peaceful realm shall not perish for generations to come.’ My men and I pledge our lives to assist your people in ridding your home of raiders and marauders. We are an elite patrol commissioned by Prince Elfwine the Fair to perform special assignments for the Marshals of the Mark, and we will not leave until our job is done!” People broke out in praise at his gallant speech. Thagon was quiet; a sour look spread on his face. Smiling widely, Laurel nodded to him. He quickly retreated to his sortie, before turning back and saying: “Also may I introduce you to Ohtaredan, my second-in-command, and Ilisit Scron, a new addition to my patrol, but nevertheless an expert tracker and warrior.”

His two companions stepped forward and bowed their heads. The first was Ohtaredan "I wish only to be of aid," He was a similar stanced man, but his eyes told much more ‘He may not want to be here, but his heart is going through much change. He will yet prove true’. Ilisit too stepped forward and gruffly gave his name. ‘This man is tormented’ Laurel mused ‘The pools of Feanwe may ease his hearts pain, who knows’. At that the horses of Rohan stepped back. Laurel still marveled at their sight. They reminded her of her grandfather, and of them, most Herebrand. Her heart ached to see her family, as they once were in bliss, now so few.

She then moved forward and said: ‘I thank you all from the depths of my heart for coming here, whatever other motives may have drives you’ At that Ohtaredan shifted uncomfortably, as did quite a few of the others. She continued ‘But that will soon change. Alphirion is a sight to behold I assure thee. You have not seen it, but your kings and queens have thus their summons of you. You will see it in much of its glory, though it is fast fading. And with it, fades its lady’ At that Laurels face turned to stone for a moment, and its seemed to them her eyes went from the depths of their enchanting green, to an abysmal dark. Many stared at this, others, such as Thagon, were stiff and cold..

Soon she spoke again with effort ‘For matters at hand, we shall camp here for the day and night. Doubtless many have just arrived and are fatigued. And others will welcome the quiet’ she smiled sadly ‘Tonight, I will hold word with each of your companies, by your leave, and shall let you all talk with another. It is a simple plan, ride straight to the Swan Village on the outskirts of Alphirion without delay. May the wings of those graceful birds give us speed’ with that she fell silent and walked away.

She had arrived around midday, now dusk was blanketing over the quiet town. Fires of the different camps lit up, and standards flew limply, glowing in yellow light and glory. The pride of men and Elves drifted around the flames and ebbed through everyone’s hearts. But the Maid of the Swan was nowhere to be found. She was standing on the hill by the end of the town, the cold night air stabbing at her. Her riding gear had been replaced by a pale dress of grey and silver with a short train of pale silk, which to all must have seemed strange. Though this was a thing of right. As nobles once did, Laurel addressed the Eve, and turned toward the direction of her village, the lights of small towns flickered and lit her eyes, but little more was to be seen. The low hills took away the Sea, her heart aching to see it. There she whispered her vigil ‘Swan give me flight. Vali of goodness give me strength of my patron, give me the light to soar, and give my Lady grace and will to serve. Keep her safe, and guide me to her, and-’ she paused and thought on her last phrase ‘free my heart from the shadow, and let it bask in the light of the moon’. She looked out and gave a small smile. ‘You pray as the queens of old Milady’ a voice whispered, cutting the silence. She spun around to face the figure, out of the light, she could not see him, but supposed him one of the companies of Men ‘Show yourself’ she hissed. He stepped forward and spoke…
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Old 03-17-2003, 07:27 AM   #11
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Sting

Annunfuin stretched his back and then rubbed his tense shoulders. He was no young lad
anymore and this was one of those moments when he got painful reminders of that fact. He had found a decent spot for himself and his night-blue stallion Fëadûr in one of the deserted cottages. The horse was part of the shadows like his master and they shared a common longing for peace and quiet as well. But still Annunfuin had decided that it would be best to camp at the south fringes of the town square and keep the other members of this quest in sight.

Annunfuin dug a shallow dip for the camp fire and soon the flames started to illuminate the small shack. He prepared some porridge and added in dried meat and beans. The meal was simple but Annunfuin considered it almost luxorious under the circumstances. Warmth, food and couple sips of water restored his strength and he thought it was time to look around. He had changed his black uniform for dark grey garments and a moss-green cloak. "You will be in charge here while I’m away, Fëadûr", said Annunfuin to his stallion and grinned when the horse wagged its head as if nodding. He left his gear in Fëadûr’s trusted care and took only his sword with him as he stepped out to the street.

Shadows were steadily growing longer and deeper but small fires here and there lighted up the greyness. Annunfuin had thought he might go to speak with Cartil Stone, the other Gondorian which King Elessar had sent on this mission. Annunfuin couldn't help but wonder why his King hadn't told him that an emissary had already been sent. He had felt somewhat uneasy reciting King's words after Cartil had handed his parchment. But now he could see that Cartil was absorbed in conversation with his sister and he didn't have the heart to disturb their shared moment. Annunfuin sighed.
It would be nice to have someone that close to talk to. Dark shade swept over his face and he turned away from that sight to walk to the opposite direction.

Annunfuin had wandered off from the town center. He preferred the lonely dusty streets to the camp fires and lively conversations. His steps led him finally to the borders of Calembel where nature had taken back what once belonged to it; undergrowth had swampt the street and earth seemed to have swallowed the tree structures. Stones from the walls had lost their sharp shapes and fixed places as parts of structure and appeared as if they had never been worked by men. Annunfuin felt a sudden urge to lie down and let nature take him too, use his body as a bed for new life.
But no, now is not the time. Not yet. While I might be of some use here. He forced himself out of these thoughts and smiled cheerlessly. He knew he wasn't that old and as a warrior he was at his best; skilled and as strong as ever but considerate. But he felt that this was going to change soon, too soon...

All of a sudden Annunfuin heard a voice from his left. His hand was on the hilt of his sword before the thought of that action had formed in his mind. He had walked quietly all the way but now he really started to move like a haunting spirit. His soft leather boots made no sound as he drew near the place he thought the voice came from. And then, from behind some rocks and trees, he saw Laurel in her silvery robe. She was praying and the power of the ancient words enchanted Annunfuin. For a while he thought he saw not a young girl but a queen from the past, mighty and beautiful as an elf with a fine golden band gracing her head. "Free my heart from the shadow, and let it bask in the light of the moon". Those words hit right in Annunfuin's heart. But then her words faded into the wind as the last beams of sunlight disappeared and the vision was gone. Annunfuin shook his head as if to shrugg of a spell, took a deep breath and spoke in a gentle voice: "You pray as the queens of old Milady".

Laurel turned around faster than a lightning and tried to see who had caught her unguarded. "Show yourself", she hissed and Annunfuin trod away from the shadows. "I'm sorry, Milady, I didn't mean to disturb you and I only ended up here by coincidence. I was seeking solitude myself... But I heard your voice and it enchanted me." He paused, then continued: "And I meant what I said." Laurel's face reflected no emotion as she took on the mask she seemed to bear all the time. But Annunfuin knew better now for her voice had revealed the truth. And he knew also that Laurel had tried to read his thoughts while they first met. He had hiddden his true nature behind formal manners and proud words but now he felt obliged to let her see his soul as he had just seen hers. His dark grey eyes met with Laurel's sparkling green ones and for a while no words were spoken aloud. "If I had a daughter she would most likely be quite like you", Annunfuin thought. And he allowed a slight smile grew on his face as he realized he had said this thought aloud. This was something Laurel really had not expected him to say and Annunfuin saw an amazed look on her eyes before she had time to disguise it. "And once there was a time when I thought that my prayers would be answered..." When his voice failed he turned his face away from Laurel and stood in silence. His eyes watched the kindling stars but all he could feel was how the darkness within him spread like a poison in his veins.

[ March 18, 2003: Message edited by: Annunfuiniel ]
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Old 03-17-2003, 09:21 AM   #12
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Sting

Because of the inherent instability of weather, Thagon and Leena had chosen a large building bordering the town square to set up camp. From the old, weather beaten sign leaning against the side the wall, it had probably been once been a store. While the furniture, floor, walls, and roof had disappeared long ago, four stonewalls still provided a degree of protection against the elements. The pair of Gondorians soon turned the empty ruin into a decent campsite. Their tent had been pitched against the back wall and their bedrolls spread on the ground. The dark yellow and red light from a campfire cast its light around the clearing, illuminating a neatly stacked pile of firewood and a whistling knight who had just completed the long and arduous task of cleaning his armor.

Thagon stretched, feeling the cool night breeze seeping into the thick leather clothing he wore under his armor. It served a double purpose, providing another line of defense against missile weapons as well as preventing the armor from chafing against the skin. Leena had run off after dinner, no doubt to wash in the nearest body of water. Of course, this had left him to complete the nightly chores himself. He grabbed his bastard sword and secured the leather sheath over his back. Compared to his plate mail, the sword seemed to weigh next to nothing. Glancing around again to make sure that everything was in place, he walked through the gap where the door had once been. Passing the trio of tethered horses, he slowly made his way toward the broken fountain. Thagon hadn’t gone stargazing for quite a long time.

***

Leena had always felt that she had problem staying clean. It wasn’t that she was negligent when it came to her body. Indeed, she had often been warned by well meaning friends about the dangers of bathing too much. The problem wasn’t in her surroundings or her habits. Thagon had always teased her because of her fanatical aversion to dust and grime. No, it was the fact that she always felt hot and sweaty. She had always had that particular problem, even when she was running in the streets of Pelargir. The extended amount of traveling only aggravated the condition. In addition to the fact that she could not bathe as often as she wanted, she also had to contend with the pungent odor that kept her chain mail shirt rust free.

The Gondorian let her damp hair blow in the soft breeze as she quietly padded across the meadows just outside the town, trusting nature instead of a towel to dry her hair. After dinner, she had slipped out of camp with a towel and a bar of soap to bathe in a swimming hole just inside the forest. Thagon would undoubtedly complain that she hadn’t helped with the dishes when she returned, but she could live with that. It was a small price to pay for staying clean. Meanwhile, she was enjoying one of her rare periods of good humor by searching for wildflowers. Placing some of the better smelling flowers in or near her armor greatly helped in masking the odor.

Laurel’s prayer and subsequent conversation caught her by surprise, making her jump and drop the small bouquet of wildflowers she had gathered. Leena silently berated herself for being taken off guard but listening closely to her words. She recognized the words from an old text she had picked up during a snowstorm, but the Gondorian wasn’t close enough to make the words up. Shrugging, she bent over and continued to search for flowers. Laurel was entitled to her privacy, and there would be more than enough time to speak with her later.

[ March 17, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]

[ March 17, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]
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Old 03-17-2003, 04:06 PM   #13
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Annanoldowen left the camp when all had arrived. Introductions were important, and allowing her future companions to feel comfortable with her presence was just as well. Though, she needed to speak with Kemenheruwen, and collect the things she would need. The earth master and she walked back towards the abandoned apothecary and retreted down the cellar stairs. Kemenheruwen moved quickly and efficiently around the shop searching for herbs to give her friend. Annanoldowen, meanwhile, stood like a shadow in the doorway, thinking…

Calembel, once a prosperous city, is now abandoned. Bereft of any life save for that of Kemenheruwen who arrived just before the desertion. Were the ravagers of this town the same as those of the forest. She had asked her friend, but Kemenheruwen was away when the events had taken place. Annanoldowen believed it to be so. Swaying as if she was a very tall tree on the mountainside, the elf stood with her eyes closed, trying to recall anything that could be of some beginning use. Taralphiel, mistress of Swan Wood, the Alphirion Forest. The elf shook her head trying to squeeze more out of her more previously learned knowledge. She then decided to go over all the details, reciting all she knew of Taralphiel. She married a youth from Rohan, Eriador was his name, and followed him to the elven realm of Greenwood, Annanoldowen caught herself then, correcting, [/I]Mirkwood. She aided in Minas Tirith. Premonitions … [/I]. The elf’s head was pounding now, she shook it stubbornly, Yes, Taralphiel has great knowledge of histories. A match even for my own. It is only my age that benefits me, and the troubles of the world that dwells upon my soul continually—.

“Will you need Athelas?” asked Kemenheruwen, pulling Annanoldowen from her thoughts.

“Oooh, you silly kuruni! I was thinking, couldn’t you tell?” She looked at the crisp, green weed in the earth master’s hand and shrugged, “I’m sure the other elves have a good share, but of course we’ll need a generous amount.” She moved over to the desk and sat down heavily, massaging her head. “Did you ever meet Taralphiel or her granddaughter?” she asked after a while. Kemenheruwen shook her head.

“I do not believe so. I came here a year or so before the occupants of this city were forced out. Since then I have stayed here in this store, down in this cellar, collecting, labeling, and studying herbs and plants, pouring over ancient manuscripts, and studying magic—” Annanoldowen laughed,

“Magic?” Kemenheruwen brushed her away and placed a dozen bundles of Athelas into the Rivendell elf’s pack. “I must review my thoughts, Kemenheruwen. I do not suppose you could leave me alone for an hour.” The earth master laughed and moved towards the back of the cellar, searching for things.

Annanoldowen collected her dark grey robe around her and walked up the cellar steps, and out the back of the apothecary. The yard was a mess of mud from relentless rain over the past years, and broken sheds and fences, either rotted from time, or burnt in the raiding of the city. Stepping carefully over the remains of a stack of unused firewood, Annanoldwen left the yard of the apothecary and walked out into the street. The air was damp, and cool. A light evening breeze blew as the elf wandered through the streets of Calembel, away from the remainder of the company. Her appearance was not ancient, and she appeared to be no older than Laurel herself. It was her eyes that made people understand her history, and respect her level of experience. Focusing then on her thoughts she collected wisps of information about Laurel she had received while speaking with her for the little amount of time she was able. Daughter of Estilien and Havor, and granddaughter of Taralphiel and Eriador on her mother’s side and Havlor on her father’s side … Annanoldowen had only spoken with Taralphiel and Eriador. She had never met any of the woman’s descendents, and was honored to be given the privilege of aiding her granddaughter now after so many years. The elf had great respect for the girl. She may be young, but is wise beyond any of her age… Annanoldowen had not been able to read much through her eyes or the aura about her. Laurel was introverted, making her mind difficult to decipher.

The sun settled behind a low bank of clouds, setting alight the sky with brilliant hues of reds and oranges. The colors crept through tiny holes and crevices in the crumbling buildings, making it seem as if the town was aglow with fire. A brisk wind came from behind, and whipped around the aging trees, billowing the elf’s robes out before her like a thundercloud. Along with the wind came a voice … noble and unwavered, a quiet hum in the wind … Swan give me flight. Vali of goodness give me strength of my patron, give me the light to soar, and give my Lady grace and will to serve. Keep her safe, and guide me to her, and free my heart from the shadow, and let it bask in the light of the moon… The elegance of the words of old faded as the wind traveled over the abandoned village, brushing its rough hand along cracking roofs and inhabited chimneys. The voice who whispered the words into the fading evening was that of a maiden, saddened by times of death and defeat. Laurel. Sighing, the elf ventured back towards the apothecary. She knew of Taralphiel, she knew of Laurel, she knew of the downfall of Calembel and the raiders of Alphirion. Lingering thoughts flittered in her mind of methods of victory, and triumph over the intruders. None of them were whole, and all of them floated just out of reach. Time was not on their side, and that was the one thing that Annanoldowen needed most. She pushed the thought away and dwelt on other things. Her mind wandered to the faces of the warriors that had given their swords and oaths to aid Laurel.

All were either men or elves. Strong and dependable. What concerned her most were the female warriors. Female warriors were very rare, and Annanoldowen knew little of them. Were they as dependable as the male warriors? She hoped they were, and saw no reason why they wouldn’t be. A good third or so of this company consisted of them, and they all seemed battle-hardened and trustworthy. Faces and names were neatly organized in her mind as she recalled them all. It was a good assortment she supposed. There were many officials from both realms of men, along with a few wanderers. Why Elessar would send three different messengers for the same cause, Annanoldowen did not know. She also didn’t understand why a few solitary figures would risk their lives for the sanctity of Swan Wood. She wanted to talk with Laurel right away, but the voice on the wind had suggested that the woman was in so such position. Perhaps there is more to the faces that I could gather.

When she looked up again she was in front of the apothecary and Kemenheruwen was holding two bags. One was the leather sack containing Annanoldowen’s clothing and the other was a smaller one holding things from the earth master. Taurawaa was gone of course, only to arrive on Annanoldowen’s summoning.

“I will carry these for you to where the others are.” The Rivendell elf eyed her friend questioningly.

“But you don’t like people.” Kemenheruwen shrugged and led her friend back towards the company.

Behind them the last of the sun’s rays filtered through the town as it receded back behind the distant mountains. The moon appeared as a great pearl in the diamond-studded sky, and night pulled its velvet cape over the land. Annanoldowen joined the company just as the fires were being exstinguished, and weary eyes were being closed to welcome sleep.

Annanoldowen stood up against an old warehouse fairly close to where the others were, Kemenheruwen stood beside her.

“If anything goes wrong, you can come back and I will help you if I can,” offered the earth master. Annanoldowen nodded,

“Thank you.” Instead of leaving though, the young elf stayed awhile and talked in hushed tones to her older friend so as not to disturb anyone else. Sleep would not be necessary for Annanoldowen for some time now, and she would not risk missing a thing.

[ March 17, 2003: Message edited by: maikafanawen ]
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Old 03-17-2003, 09:07 PM   #14
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Sting

Adding some more wood to Jess and Cartil’s small fire by a building close to the fountain, Jess crouched next to the fire and kindles the flame with her own twig. Cartil’s white horse, Sparrow, had taken a liking to Calembel, it seemed. Sparrow would explore all open doors and windows unless Cartil called him back towards the tiny flame that he and Jess crowded around.

“Why did you come, Jess?” Cartil continued a conversation they had been holding, and he pulled his pack from under his head, for he had been laying on it until then. Sitting up, he opened the pack and began rummaging through it.

“Father isn’t young anymore, you know. Mother merely knew that she wanted to help in sending someone else. Our sisters are all married, and you know Jovanna has two children to take care of and Najah is with child. They couldn’t send anyone, much less come themselves, even if they were to only be a healer like Roana or be a map-reader. So, I decided to go. Besides, I can feel the air changing, and I know if something isn’t done about the raiders, they’ll do something about us.” Jess took a bite of an apple she had packed, and then made a clicking noise with her tongue, and Sparrow trotted from his exploration of a tavern nearby to stand next to Jess. Jess patted his forehead, and took an extra apple from her pack for Sparrow.

“I know…father probably didn’t even want to send anyone in the first place. You know you can’t fight as well as some of the men that came here from Rohan. Why come? Mother could have always sent someone else.” Cartil groaned inwardly as Sparrow clip-clopped from Jess to him, and nudged the man with his muzzle.

“I know, I know. I can defend myself though, and mother didn’t want to be sending any other mother’s child, no matter how old. You know how she is. I can help, I know how to read maps…not that we’ll really need them, what with Laurel here and all,” Jess’ eyes became hazy, as though she was lost in thought. “What did that decree say?”

Cartil smirked at his younger sister. Leave it to Jess. She’d always get to the ‘heart of the matter’. Laying back again, and using his pack as a pillow, Cartil thought of an answer. “You know full well I’m not supposed to go reading letters that aren’t mine.”

“C’mon, Cartil! I know you read it! I can see it on your face, you high and mighty messenger boy!” Jess laughed and took her apple-filled bag and hit Cartil’s stomach lightly. Cartil sat up and readied himself to throw his pack at his sister, but he stopped and smiled.

“Okay…fine! I can’t quite remember everything, but it was definitely something about sending his support to the cause of Swan Wood, blah, blah, blah…” Cartil glared at a playful Sparrow as he continued to nudge Cartil’s shoulder and back.

“Of course it says that! Anyone could’ve told you that! Why did they send those other Gondorian people if they sent you?”

“Well, I actually am not sure why they’re here. I didn’t know they were coming. But, that’s the hazard of being a messenger and diplomat kind of man: you’re never told anything unless you read the messages yourself, or you write them youself!”

“Do I hear a confession?” Jess laughed again, until Cartil hit her over the head with his soft, not-filled-with-apples bag. After a few minutes of pack-fighting, Jess and Cartil settled down, and under the tarp of the store they had chosen for their shelter, the siblings stared at the fountain, and the mist-rain that sprinkled it.

"Cartil?" Jess broke the silence that had fallen over the two, save for Sparrow's slight whinnies.

"Huh?"

"Have you ever seen elves before now? Why would any still be about if they could go over the sea and be forever happy and joyful?" The question had bothered Jess for a time, and she never really thought of an answer.

"Yes...you may be too young to remember, but once a group of Elves visited mother, and they showed me how to use the bow and quiver. That was the first and last time I saw Elves, until today. I think they miss Middle-Earth, but somehow know they have to go. This is the Age of Men, or so I've been told. Though I cannot rightly tell you, Jess, for I am no Elf." The two sat in silence for a time, after Cartil answered Jess' question.
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Old 03-17-2003, 09:52 PM   #15
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Sting

Herebrand son of Halador had wasted no time in choosing an ideal spot to spend the night. The small party of Rohirrim had pitched camp close to the outskirts of the town. Tall oaks from the nearby forest provided shelter from the unpredictable weather— as well as giving them partial concealment from any friend or foe alike. With a small fire built in the center, the campsite was almost cozy.

As night fell, the outrider patrol took to preparing their supplies and mending loose-saddle straps for the journey they would make the following day. While these chores were being completed, Herebrand paced with long strides around the campsite. There were many things on the Rohirrim’s mind, and he tended to worry easily. Herebrand wondered at the vagueness of his mission, for Elfwine usually briefed him thoroughly before assignments, and the Prince’s lack of crucial information concerning his work had made the patrol leader uneasy.

He knew that the enemies of Taralphiel’s people employed tactics that Herebrand was almost unfamiliar of. He was used to fighting face to face with his adversaries on the battlefield, or perhaps in a small skirmish with his men. The marauders attacking Dor-En-Edhil did not fight out in the open—rather they used a hit-and-run strategy that bore no honor at all. Concepts of honor were very important to Herebrand. Both his father and grandfather had died valiantly in combat. He sighed at the thought of his father. Lord Halador and his son had been very close.

For a few minutes, he supervised the tasks being accomplished by his men, trying to relax and make himself at ease. The patrol leader finally decided that a short walk would clear his head and silence his misgivings. He told Ohtaredan to take over while he went for a brief stroll.

“Be careful Captain, who knows what might prowl around this abandoned ruin in the sun’s absence,” said Ohtaredan as Herebrand left the campground.

On his way down to the deserted city of Calembel, he came across the first night watch—Stagwine son of Seordras.

“Perhaps bad weather will come soon, so make your wanderings brief,” he said.

Herebrand took that to mind, as he descended from the hill encampment of his men. He turned around and saw that they seemed to be no longer hard at work, but rather jesting and acting gaily. Herebrand laughed within himself. He could not be angry with the men he had grown to regard as family. The grizzled veterans had become fathers and uncles, and the young trackers and cavaliers had become like brothers. Though, he was younger than many of the patrol members, they still respected his authority (unless the matter was not serious) and trusted him. In over a year of commanding the outrider of the Prince of Rohan, Herebrand had never lost a man. Several had received minor wounds, and a former patrol member had been wounded badly (through fault of his own), but never had a Rider of Rohan under his command lost their life. He was proud that he had managed his patrol so well. This assignment would be no different from any other; he would not lose any of his brothers-in-arms.

At length, his doubts receded into the outskirts of his mind, conveniently when he reached the outskirts of the ruined city. In daylight, the city seemed abandoned, but peaceful, but at night, it was entirely different. It had almost an ancient regal look to it that was almost ghostly. Herebrand shivered, either because of a swift chill of wind that had come up, or becaues his misgvings were beginning to arise again. He slowly proceeded to the square, admiring the old Gondorian architect that was now falling into disrepair. Suddenly, the Rohirrim captain saw the shadow of a man created by the dim moonlight near the waterless fountain. Cold fear swept over him for a moment before his bravery replaced it. Stepping forward and drawing his hunting-knife (more like a short dagger) and called out to the wraith in his characteristic clear voice.

“Ho there, who wanders the street of Calembel this night?”
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Old 03-17-2003, 10:33 PM   #16
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Laurel had spoken of the group getting to know each other but talking, but Lanaey never did like to talk much to others. Since her camp was near the town centre she didn't have far to go when everyone started moving away from the fountain. Some of these men aren't here simply to help, but then again, neither am I, in a way. Looking out over the land, Lanaey felt the pull of nature on her. It whispered of comfort and peace that would help her if she let it, but she wouldn't. Yes, the land would be a solace, but I neither need nor want it. What of the land that isn't peaceful and is instead full of pain and toil? Like Alphirion...

Mentally shaking herself, Lanaey went about bringing back up her little fire provide a little warmth. Sitting by the little fire she chewed on some dried fruit pieces and occasionally sipped from her water bag. Glancing around Lanaey noticed that the sheild madien Jess and her brother Cartil were accross the town centre from her, having what looked like an impromptu little fight, but she could tell that it was all done in good humor.

Getting up and stretching she went over to her horse and started rubbing Drass down again to fill her hands with something useful. The firm strokes repetitively went over Drass' back as Lanaey worked. Letting her mind focus on nothing as she brushed her horse, Lanaey found herself smiling in the simple pleasure of it. Once she was done she found herself walking over to the old fountain. It must have been so beautiful once with water falling gracefully from the heights to the shallows. Moving closer to the fountain Lanaey noticed worn figures carved into the sides and in the basin. Tracing her fingers along their dancing figures Lanaey marveled at how detailed the people had been in creating such a work. The small figures dancing about each other with clothes flowing and mouths smiling. I bet the water made them look alive, as if they were truly dancing in the basin at a festival.

A faint footfall, but Lanaey heard it and looked up to see one of the men approaching. As he came a little closer Lanaey could make out that it was Thagon, the one traveling with the shield-maiden Leena. She could have moved off to her camp, but something made her stay by the fountain. He had such an air of authority and surity about him, as if he always knew what he was doing. She could tell he was dedicated by the way that his armor had that new sheen look to it, but that he wasn't a coward in battle by the slightly worn look of that same armor.

She leaned against the fountain as he came up to her.

"Hello lady, my name is Thagon." He offered a hand, which Lanaey shook readily with an equally strong grip. "What brings you out?"

Lanaey placed a hand on the fountain. "Just admiring an ancient craft." She looked off into the night sky as he took a closer look at the carvings. Sighing, she turned back to the man who was talking again.

[ March 17, 2003: Message edited by: Kryssal ]
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Old 03-18-2003, 02:18 PM   #17
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Sting

Shortly after his twenty-third birthday, Thagon had served as part of King Elessar’s escort when the entire royal family had gone to visit Laketown, Dale, and the Lonely Mountain. While the King was haggling over a trade treaty with his dwarfish and human counterpart, the Queen had borrowed a small number of knights to take her to visit the elves of Mirkwood. However, she had neglected to plan any activities for her escorts, leaving them up to their own devices. As usual, the knights had dispersed and gathered as much information about the elves as possible. Gondor had little dealings with Rivendell and Lorien, and their knowledge of the denizens of Mirkwood was similarly murky.

Thagon quickly glanced at the woman before turning his attention back to the sky. It was quite amazing how much you could learn from quick glances if you knew what to look for. The only thing he could discern at the moment was that she was one of the elvish women he had briefly seen earlier. Even if he knew more about elves, the lack of light completely precluded any attempts to discern her place of birth. He was fairly certain that she didn’t know much more about the situation than he did. His moment of pondering was interrupted a series of footfalls and a gruff voice.

“Ho, there, who wanders the streets of Calembel this night?”

Thagon slowly turned and appraised the new visitor, his right arm rising with its own volition to the hilt of his bastard sword. It wasn’t that he expected to be attacked. Only a green assassin would announce his presence to the world. Still, a soldier didn’t stay alive by being foolish.

“Put away your knife, neighbor Herebrand. The Valar know you’ll be using them more than you like. Its only a pair of fellow campaigners milking the last few moments of peace out of the night.”

The captain of Rohan narrowed his eyes, but sheathed his dagger. “And you would be?”

Thagon banged his gauntlet against the breastplate, causing a loud metal bang to reverberate through the town center. No one had ever complained that plate mail was too quite. “Sir Thagon Kestner, neighbor. Come join us.”

“Aye, ‘tis a beautiful night, and good campaigning weather too.” observed Herebrand. “But we haven’t nearly enough enemy about our foes.”

Lanaey turned to face the two soldiers. “Maybe Laurel doesn’t know any more than she’s told us. She surely wouldn’t withhold information.”

Herebrand frowned. “Aye, but something doesn’t smell right. A band of ruffians would attack the town en masse, not a few at a time.

“Perhaps they expected a village of soft peasants. But why keep on attacking them?”

The three adventurers lapsed back into silence, pondering the day’s events under the brilliant moon.

[ March 18, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]
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Old 03-18-2003, 05:10 PM   #18
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Lanaey observed the two men that seemed so eager for battle. Well, not so much for battle as justice. They didn't like the idea of an innocent village being wiped out even more than she did. It was amazing how one little thing could bring so many different types of beings together in one place. Elves and men, they always seemed to be pushed together to help innocents, and neither side really knew why. Lanaey didn't even really understand why she was there. Lately she had been doing things that seemed out of character and she just couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. After this was all over she needed to go into isolation for awhile to meditate and work out what she really needed. Until she could get away she needed to keep herself in tight reign, otherwise she might give away something of herself to a member of the company that she didn't want let out.

Thagon shifted position and Lanaey instantly observed him. Thagon seemed familiar somehow. She couldn't place from where though, maybe that was why she was talking to him right now, to figure out who he was? It was definetly bothering her that she couldn't remember from where she had met him before, usually she had an excellent memory for people.

Closing her mind for a brief moment, she drank in the night air about her to help clarify her mind. After she had it cleared, she gathered only the information that she wanted to dissect to the fore of her conscious mind. There was an obvious connection in the information somewhere that they were all missing.

....A band of ruffians would attack the town en masse......Perhaps they expected a village of soft peasants....

What did it lead to? A personal vendetta perhaps?

"What was that?" Herebrand startled her. Lanaey hadn't realized that she had spoken out loud. She mentally kicked herself for letting herself get soft. The peaceful environment must have been affecting her more than she first realized. Blocking out her nature senses, she focused on the beings before her.

"They must have a leader, otherwise they would have done just what you said they would, attack en masse." Lanaey paused for a moment. "But why go against the little village of Alphirion? The leader must have some connection to it."

[ March 18, 2003: Message edited by: Kryssal ]
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Old 03-19-2003, 06:04 AM   #19
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Sting

Laurel watched as the figure came into view. It was Annunfuin, the warrior of Gondor. She calmed herself, knowing he definitely saw her startled. She bowed her head at the ocean as he muttered to her "I'm sorry, Milady, I didn't mean to disturb you and I only ended up here by coincidence. I was seeking solitude myself... But I heard your voice and it enchanted me." "And I meant what I said." He said again after a pause.

Laurel turned to the man. His features had been worn from time, his hair thin and flowing in the night. His guard uniform had seen many battles, but they showed honour and gallantry. A small smile was on his face. Looking into his eyes, she saw things that were unmistakable ‘Time has come to him’ she thought ‘He is missing things…as I am’ She thought of her prayer being that of a Queen’s, and shook her head slightly. Striving with his great grey eyes, she found the thing she missed. "If I had a daughter she would most likely be quite like you" he said, almost dreamily. Laurels heart leapt ‘Did he hear my thoughts! Dear Vali!’ she grew flushed. She lowered her head again, only to find a wave of comfort come down upon her, and take away all fear. She looked at his smile. ‘My father’ she thought, and fought back tears. "And once there was a time when I thought that my prayers would be answered...". ‘My father, oh!’ she cried out in her mind. She turned back to him. ‘You are a good man, Annunfuin. I am glad that you came. My prayers have been answered in many ways. I have also asked that there would be souls that were as valiant as those that have died defending the forest, to help me now’ She paused long ‘What would this man think of me if I told him?’ her heart bled, and she could not hold herself back.

‘In truth, good sir, you bear a spirit like my father. He was taken from me long ago, to the same Wildmen we fight now. His good heart and smile are like yours and…’ she put a hand to her mouth. He moved forward. She raised her hand, and lifted her head, with tears down her cheeks, and a resolute smile ‘And so, at dawn after a council we leave for that place. I sense that my grandmother needs me’ Again shame welled in her and she tore at herself for being so emotional ‘This is not like me at all Sir. Forgive me, and, fair rest to thee’

As she turned, she saw the movement of a figure. She again felt her heart pulse, but calmed it, assuring herself it was a simple woodland creature. She began to retreat from the set gaze of Annunfuin, but before she could he said…
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Old 03-19-2003, 06:06 AM   #20
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Silmaril

Her seat had grown old, she thought. Her fingers traced the fine etchings on the dark wood, straight from the forest when it was made. She saw the small moonstones set into the arms and top. But the Great Seat was wearing, its arms showed varnish peeled away, and fading. Easing herself down, Taralphiel looked out at her house. Furnished with wood from the forest, dark and light, with light and beautiful draperies from the village weavers, the low ceilings were supported by thin columns, with detailed carvings at the top of the patron creature. Their slender beaks held gossamer-like curtains that trailed to the ground of the open end of the house that had no walls, and peered out onto the sea after the cliff. This end was a large open area that was elevated from the rest of the house that went under the shade of the forest. Three small steps lead down to the many rooms of the long place of refuge.

Taralphiel listened, and could hear the whisperings and laughter of little children. Her eyes narrowed, and a weary smile crept onto her face. ‘Our house is full of children dear heart, the house you helped to build’ she murmured. This refuge was a labor of love. The first people who came here with Taralphiel, including Havlor, were craftsmen and builders. They sought to build a place that would stand the test of the ages, and be something to wonder at. They had succeeded. Taralphiel drew her memory back to watching them slave over the edge of the cliffside, lifting the beams into place. And she remembered the contented smile on her husband as he helped. ‘Yes, I wish you could be here, to see all the beauty that has come from this place, to have seen your children, and to see your granddaughter’

A man rushed in through the hallways and struggled to the seat of the Lady of the House. ‘Milady, they’re here again, they’re at the Southern Confines!!’ he was trying to breathe, and his face was stained with blood and dirt. His sword had seen much torment. She closed her eyes and gripped at the arms of her chair. ‘We can do nothing.’ She whispered. The mans eyes grew wide and he went pale ‘Nothing, Milady?’ ‘Laurel is not here’ she straightened ‘Havlor is wounded, how many more do we have?’ ‘Maybe a dozen ma’am’ he said shaking. Taralphiel reached down beside her chair. From it came her sword, unnamed, but never forgotten by those who saw it. The dark hilt gave no light and the grip curled over at the top. Between the hilt and the blade was a moonstone of exceeding pale brilliance. The blade was white and bright, and sang lamentation. The man stepped back. ‘B-but milady!’

‘Keep a messenger aside’ she said darkly ‘If he comes to me then I know that I will have to come to fight alongside you, I will not run’ The man left in a flurry, leaving Taralphiel standing there, alone, set as stone.
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Old 03-20-2003, 08:06 AM   #21
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Sting

Figures could be seen trotting side by side silently along the hidden pathways of the woods. It had been a long journey, but something drove them southwards from their home in the northern eaves of the Greenwood. They had avoided most of the patrols of the northern kingdom of Thranduil, feeling no allegiance to their distant kin. Their people, the dark elves, have always kept themselves apart preferring to live alone in caves or in very small groups that traveled often, hunting.

Though they lived a solitary life as most dark elves of their kind, something drove them southward. At first neither had told of the other of dreams each had. But both had like mind, as their parents had once commented. Eventually both decided to take the journey to unknown paths southward.

Both were clad in leather dyed green and brown, matching their surroundings. Though they carried bows, it was unstrung for the moment and slung behind their backs. The taller of the two had his long dark hair tied back, while the younger had his dark tresses flowing freely, shoulder length.

“Brother, do we continue this path long?” asked the younger of the two, it was near dusk. They stopped eventually near a stream and refilled their waterskins.

“This is no longer familiar woodland, Galain,” said Gorath, the younger after awhile.

“Have I ever told you, brother, that you talk to much for an elf?” Chided his older brother, smiling slightly. “Let us rest here tonight, I weary of your chatter.”

Gorath raised his brow slightly at the light banter of his older sibling. He let his gaze absorb their surroundings. Westward he saw through elven eyes, a marsh or field that was filled with yellow irises. He had heard of the place – Leog Ningloron in their tongue, the Gladden Fields. They began their scant meal of nuts, berries and some dried meat. Tomorrow they would hunt and forage once more as they continued their journey.

“Something-“ Gorath was cut off by a sudden cracking of twigs. They both turned towards the sound, reaching for their hunting knives.

An elf stood near an elm. He was clad similarly as they, and they recognized him as another of their kin. He too was dark-haired and grey-eyed. A bejeweled hunting knife was sheathed at his thigh, his bow was strung but he made no move to attack them. He watched them closely, leaning on the trunk of the tree. It was his eyes, they could see, that betrayed his alertness.

“I would know your line and purpose. Not many of our kind travel in haste in this part of Mirkwood, “the elf spoke to them quietly after a long moment.

“Who might you be, dark elf, to ask us such?” Replied Galain in answer.

“I am Rûdhchamion, and my kin once lived here,” came the amused answer.

“Are you not the son of Brilgonion?”

The dark elf chuckled and revealed himself in the fading light of dusk. Only those of his kin would know he was the striking resemblance of his father, as his sister was that of their mother.

“Aye, that I am Galain of the North, my father’s sister’s son,” he smiled slightly. “ It is a rare thing to see one’s kin so far away from their abode.”

Gorath’s eyes widened in recognition. It had been ages! The brothers had only been a few summers old when Rûdhchamion had met them at the northern part of Anduin. They had hunted together, and their older cousin had taught them how to fish using their bows and arrows, and patiently guided them at tracking down large game.

They soon made camp and began their tales. Rûdhchamion was heading south he told them, to visit an old friend he had not seen for a long while. They told him of their restlessness and their dreams. He listened to their tales silently.

“We travel the same roads for now, perhaps the purpose shall be revealed soon. An urgency drives me as well southward,” their older cousin said thoughtfully.

With that they rested quietly and decided to resume their journey southward in the morning.
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Old 03-21-2003, 06:22 AM   #22
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Silmaril

"You are a good man, Annunfuin. I am glad that you came. My prayers have been
answered in many ways. I have also asked that there would be souls that were as
valiant as those that have died defending the forest, to help me now" Laurel fell
silent and Annunfuin turned back to her. He couldn’t find the right words to answer
although they were there in his heart. "In truth, good sir, you bear a spirit like my
father. He was taken from me long ago, to the same Wildmen we fight now. His
good heart and smile are like yours and…" Annunfuin felt Laurel’s pain as if it was
his own but his tongue was still tied. And Laurel drew back; he could tell she
regretted showing her emotions. "And so, at dawn after a council we leave for
that place. I sense that my grandmother needs me" Tears on her cheeks
shimmered like jewels reflecting the light of the full moon. "This is not like me at all
Sir. Forgive me, and, fair rest to thee" She turned to leave but then finally
Annunfuin got his words back.

"Laurel..." Annunfuin whispered in a thick voice. Laurel halted but she didn’t
turn to him. "Milady...", he continued, "I’m more practiced in using my sword than
words and now I feel helpless. I didn’t mean to bring back painful memories for
your burden is heavy already. But now I know why I had to join this quest." The
voices in the wind! Now I see.
"This is not the first time I hear your prayer. I
heard your call a long time ago but didn’t understand what it meant. Still I had to
follow it and now I’m glad that I did." And as he had said this it was like a dry
stick had been added in an almost burnt out ember and the fire rekindled. Annunfuin stepped closer to Laurel who had now again turned to face him.

Her eyes were green and sparkling like emeralds as the tears still made them
gleam. Annunfuin reached for his pocket and drew out a fine linen kerchief
with silver and blue leaves and the letter 'L' embellished on it. He set it in Laurel’s hand. "My heart is now lightened and I thank thee for it. We have both lost those we loved, they are gone... But their words and faces, their love still lives in your heart as in mine. And the tears you shed while you remember them are blessed."
Annunfuin bowed his head and then lifted his eyes once more to meet Laurel’s. "I
believe it’s time to retreat to rest or the sun will meet us in the same place where
it left us." Laurel stood in silence but then nodded reluctantly. Annunfuin knew her feelings for countless questions stirred also his mind; but now was not the right moment. "May Lórien guard your dream", he spoke and then returned to the shadows from where he had come.

[ March 22, 2003: Message edited by: Annunfuiniel ]
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:21 AM   #23
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Silmaril

"Laurel..." His voice came out just over a whisper, but Laurel felt his pain and could not help but hear. "Milady..." he tried again with effort "I’m more practiced in using my sword than words and now I feel helpless. I didn’t mean to bring back painful memories for your burden is heavy already. But now I know why I had to join this quest."
"This is not the first time I hear your prayer. I heard your call a long time ago but didn’t understand what it meant. Still I had to follow it and now I’m glad that I did."

Laurel turned to face Annunfuin. His worn face was strained, and she could see the emotions he was trying to express. Tears still ran from her face, and she tried to suppress them. ‘What does this mean Annunfuin?’ she thought to herself. She too found that her words would not form, and she felt helplessness over her heart. Annunfuin stepped forward and drew in her hand. She looked down to see a beautiful silk kerchief, delicately emblazoned with leaves and the letter ‘L’. She raised her head to see his kind smile, and understanding eyes. She thought of telling him all her pains, removing the ghosts from burdening her. He whispered to her:

"My heart is now lightened and I thank thee for it. We have both lost those we loved, they are gone... But their words and faces, their love still live in your heart as in mine. And the tears you shed while you remember them are blessed." Laurel felt those ghosts lighten, and turn to loving arms around her. She heard her fathers’ voice coming through the mist, and felt her pain melt. He looked at her and said "I believe it’s time to retreat to rest or the sun will meet us in the same place whereit left us. May Lórien guard your dream" And with that he moved silently away.

Laurel stood there, alone in the moonlight. Her tears did not subside, but she clutched the kerchief, and smiled. ‘You are a good man Annunfuin’ she whispered into the night ‘And I now know my prayers were not in vain’

Laurel slept soundly that night, the Gondorian’s smile and kind words giving her the most pleasant sleep she had had in a long time.
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:24 AM   #24
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Sting

But he had not come. Taralphiel stood there till her legs would no longer support her. By now, her maids had come in. The pale faced beauties had sorrow in their eyes as they helped her to her room deep within the house. Many of these maids there were, orphans of the first attacks of the Raiders, brought up in the house, Taralphiel their only mother. Children still came here, without anyone to care for them, and the big house was never empty. Children of the Swan they were, and their upbringing could not be finer, but wished it could not have been necessary.

Taralphiel lay on her bed, but it took them a might of effort to make her release her sword. ‘They will send for me’ she growled to the walls. The chief maiden smiled sadly ‘The battle is over Milady. It ended through the night. Three men came back. Your messenger…had an arrow through his back’ and at that she retreated in tears. Sitting there silently, Taralphiel looked down at the sheets of her bed, then over to her shelves of books. Lore of Elves, healing arts, customs of every nation, Battle tactics of Rohirrim, and more were there ‘Yet what good do they do me!’ she sighed, and lay her head down. Thoughts and memories swirled through her head. She remembered the White City, and its beautiful banners. She remembered the depths of Mirkwood, and the people that lived therein. She remembered the three that saved her in that forest, and helped her find her imprisoned husband. The dark stare of Rudchamion, the dark elf with no past. The tender smile of Anarya, elf of Mirkwood, and Khelek, the valiant wolf, who understood her ills. Her face brightened for a moment. ‘Oh, that I could only talk to them, they would help me’ she then fell asleep, and relived her adventures in Mirkwood. Outside the maidens watched and smiled then went about their work in silence. Soon the wounded came in to the various rooms of the houses, and were tended to, some in vain. That night the breeze floated through the forest, and a mood was there that no one could mistake, death had been and gone, and misery was left. When Taralphiel woke, she gave farewells to their spirits in a quick ceremony. Many were proud that their sons, husbands, or brothers were being kept in the gardens of the Lady they loved. But the swan lady found little solace, even in a house full of children. She soon made for the swan village, on the beginning of the Plains of Dor-En-Ernil.

The ride was no more than a day for a rider inexperienced in weaving through the paths of this forest, but for the convoy of horses of the Swan Lady, it was reduced to hours. Arriving in the village, she sought out each family of each man that had fought, and wept with them. Then she hurried to the house of Havlor, and his wife Firwyn. Long had they been great companions. Havlor and his wife were the first to join her and Eriador in Dor-En-Ernil, and their son, Havor, had married Taralphiel’s daughter Estelle, and had Taralphiel’s only grandchild. She had also known Havlor in Calembel. That was not a wonderful thought to remember. Havlor’s father had sought to have them wed, but instead, Taralphiel had married Eriador, and ran from the town, leaving Havlor broken-hearted. ‘That was a long time ago, old fool’ she thought to herself ‘Leave it away where it was, and tend to your dying friend’

Entering, she saw a snow haired woman sitting by the hearth, head bowed in prayer. Looking up, tears stained her cheeks ‘Oh Lady!’ she wept, and Taralphiel embraced her. ‘I am so sorry I did not come sooner. Forgive me’ she whispered through her own tears. Firwyn shook her head ‘You belong at you house, but while you are here, you are welcome in this house’ Then Firwyn showed Taralphiel into the bedchambers, where Havlor lay. He was as pale as the moon, and a shadow of his former strength. No one knew what gave him such vigour in his old age to be bale to fight, but now, it was gone. He opened his eyes slowly and his cracked and broken face moved to a smile ‘My Lady Taralphiel!’ he breathed. She sat by his bed and took his hands. Staring into his face, she saw the look of Mandos peering over him, leading him away. She sighed and turned back to where Firwyn stood, her hands wrung tightly at her chest. Her face was red and eyes blotchy, and a sad smile graced her. ‘It does him good to see you’ she said, and left them.


Turning back, Taralphiel tried a jovial smile ‘And how have you been, dear old friend?’
He started slowly ‘Well enough. Though they won’t let me out for some fresh air. I wish to see the plains and the rivers, and to watch for the White Tower again’. ‘The White Tower is far from here’ she said to him. ‘Yes I know, but it strikes my heart Milady’ he looked at her. ‘I lived there for so long, my heart broken, for you were not with me’. ‘Havlor…’ she began ‘-But there I found a woman so wonderful and beautiful, that my heart was full again’ he croaked. Taralphiel beamed; glad he was not dwelling on what happened in Calembel so long ago. ‘Firwyn is my life and light, I wish never to be away from her again. This is my punishment, for leaving her too often to fight, and show the young men how to hold a sword instead of a rake, as only we know how’ Havlor looked at her solemnly. ‘Yes, it is true that we are the last of that old code’ she began ‘But I see it alive in Laurel’ she said. ‘Yes, our granddaughter is a fine fighter, though she does not know it. And a fine Lady too. I see great things for her, if you let her’ he said. ‘Let her?’ asked Taralphiel. ‘Well, she has been fighting for this place so long that she has nothing else. She should be married, have children, but she has none. I want her to know the happiness we had, and out children too’ he said. His eyes were full of a grey sadness. Taralphiel put a hand to her heart ‘I did not even think of that, old friend. I didn’t realise the life she was giving up, for she never said anything of it. What a fool I am!’ she cried in pain. Havlor raised his hand ‘No, you are not. Your house is the best place for a child to grow up. And even better for them to learn of the world. I would have every child of the village be fortunate enough to grow there. But she needs to go out into the world, to see it with her own eyes, and then she will know the joys we have’ he stopped. Taralphiel laughed ‘Again, I am so sorry! I did not tell you! Laurel is out seeing the world! As we speak she is arriving in Calembel!’. ‘What?’ said Havlor in happy surprise. Taralphiel nodded ‘I sent pleas to Gondor, Rohan, and the remaining Elves, to aid our fight. You know as well as I that we need more fighting men. Laurel will bring them back here’

‘My, this is wonderful news!’ Havlor looked like a child ‘My granddaughter will see the village that we grew up in, where you met Eriador, and where our adventures began! And she will see the White Towers! Oh, that was my wish for her! To see that most beautiful city as I used to. You did a good thing Milady! Your daughter, and my son, would be proud’. Taralphiel felt tears well up ‘Our children…’ Long had she mourned for both their souls. Havor, the open-faced and bright young man, and her Esteliel, the graceful maid of a thousand beauties. They had died together, and their pain hurt her still. For it was added onto by the death of her son, Ithilien, her shining warrior, strong and wise. He fell the same way they all did, by the darts or swords of the Wild Men. She looked at Havlor ‘Not another’ she thought. She squeezed his hand ‘Listen to me Havlor. You must get strong, and be brave. You need to see Laurel, and our great grandchildren!’ ‘Ah! Don’t you worry!’ he chuckled ‘I’ll be up in no time! But hear me, I hear those Elvish healers are fine. Wouldn’t mind one ‘o them looking me over’ he grinned, and coughed heavily ‘I’ll do all I can, dear Havlor! You sleep now’ she kissed his hand, and left the room.

‘Well?’ Firwyn asked anxiously. ‘He is trying to mend’ Taralphiel said carefully. ‘Will he?’ she said, on the brink of hysterics. ‘I am going to send over Elven healers as soon as they arrive’ and she explained Laurels absence to her. Firwyn gave the maternal glow, and Taralphiel could not help but beam herself ‘My, I am proud of her!’ she said. Taralphiel then settled down on the warm hearth, and there she would sit for a long time, in deep discussion with a woman of great strength.
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:28 AM   #25
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Silmaril

Laurel made her way to the dawn council she had organised. The town was waking and its beauty was beginning to sink deep beneath her veins. She had just been at the hill overlooking the plains, and seen the white city at dawn. Her grandfather Havlor told her it was the greatest sight in the entire world, and made you want to protect the City till the day you died. Laurel stood there, and looked at the mountains creep down and nestle against the stone of pure white. She scanned the buildings of serene beauty, their tall spires calling to the Gods of the sky. The banners and standards of Gondor were straight in the wind. Laurel felt her breath escape her. The light made all the city glow with purity, and her eyes were fixed ‘I would die for that city’ she thought. She imagined the White tree, sitting in its place in the great courtyard, brimming with hope for all time. And she remembered the stories of the Great King, rising to his throne for the first time, and the tears that flowed like water on the dawn of the new age. ‘I have seen it, dear grandfather’ she mumbled to herself ‘now I know. I will fight for it if ever given the chance, but my greater need now, if for the small White House of the Lady of the Swan’

Laurel took her place by the high seat in Calembel. Elves and Men all filed around. Annunfuin stood at the front, a small smile spread on his face. Laurel smiled at him and then spoke ‘I have called this final council before we leave. I ask of and queries that you may have of our journey. Most were told in the pleas, and have already met your ears. Speak now, and all will be made known’

Slowly voices rose up…
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Old 03-22-2003, 08:14 AM   #26
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Sting

Thagon futilely tried to suppress a yawn before rubbing his eyes with the back of his metal gauntlets. Leena was a light sleeper, and even a hardened knight could not get a good night’s sleep when his tent mate was constantly striking him with her hands and feet. As usual, he had risen before sunrise, carefully donning his plate mail armor. However, before strapping the heavy breastplate over his suit of chain mail, he had donned a thin black surcoat that fell to his knees over his chain mail. It looked and sounded impressive when a knight went clanging around in armor, but it was quite another when your stealthy advance was foiled because your breastplate decided to fraternize with your suit of chain mail. His hands pulled the dark green riding cloak tighter around him. While the weather was looking up, the morning was still quite chilly.

He stiffened as a he heard a soft, mocking whisper behind him. “Did you have a good night, dear knight?”

The smell of wildflowers left little doubt about the identity of the person behind him. “No, priestess, I did not sleep well last night. But be quite now. The council’s starting.”

“I have called this final council before we leave. I ask of and queries that you may have of our journey. Most were told in the pleas, and have already met your ears. Speak now, and all will be made known”

Sir Kestner coughed loudly, not so subtly indicating that he wished to speak. “Lady, I am as eager as any other to aid your village, but I am wary to rush into combat without more information. All we know is that a strange force has launched a series of escalating assaults on your village.”

“Captain Herebrand, Lady Lanaey, and I were discussing the situation last night before we took to our beds. Normal bandits do not attack people villages one at a time, and they certainly do not launch escalating assaults. Something is amiss. It would greatly help us if you could describe your attacks. How do they fight? Do they attack from the woodlands or the plains? What kind of weapons do they use?”

Leena winked at her friend before addressing Laurel. “I cannot say whether Sir Kestner is correct in his questions, but I am somewhat curious about your settlement. Where do you take the women and children during the raids?”

[ March 22, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]

[ March 22, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]
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Old 03-22-2003, 05:24 PM   #27
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Old 03-22-2003, 09:38 PM   #28
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Silmaril

“Lady, I am as eager as any other to aid your village, but I am wary to rush into combat without more information. All we know is that a strange force has launched a series of escalating assaults on your village. Captain Herebrand, Lady Lanaey, and I were discussing the situation last night before we took to our beds. Normal bandits do not attack people villages one at a time, and they certainly do not launch escalating assaults. Something is amiss. It would greatly help us if you could describe your attacks. How do they fight? Do they attack from the woodlands or the plains? What kind of weapons do they use?” Thagon asked eagerly. Laurel nodded and was about to speak when Leena moved politely “I cannot say whether Sir Kestner is correct in his questions, but I am somewhat curious about your settlement. Where do you take the women and children during the raids?”

Laurel spoke then: ‘Thankyou for asking Sir Thagon and Lady Leena. Indeed these enemies are unlike conventional enemies such as Uruk-Hai. These Wildmen use very little tactics, with the exception of barbarism. The only pattern that they attack the village as well as the forest from somewhere over the plain. They know we are in there, to be plain. That seems to be their goal. Organisation of their rabble is weak. They fight with broad swords, but are not exceptionally skilled. Almost all deaths occur from small poisonous darts they carry. Mandos takes slowly those who fall to them’ she murmured darkly.

‘To answer your questions Lady Leena, women and children flee to the House of the Swan Lady at the end of the point of Dor-En-Ernil, deep in the forest. But sometimes they cannot get there in time’ Laurel balled her fist behind her riding robes ‘They spare none. So far, our organisation has been to post as many people who can fight at the village and also in the eaves of the forest to fend them off. But our forces are spent, and they will come for the last time soon, if we do not help’

She waited for other to speak…
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Old 03-26-2003, 01:20 PM   #29
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Silmaril

“It looks quite nice” whispered Elena quietly, her eyes flicking around the room in which she sat. Despite her brave words her voice held a hint of nervousness and uncertainness. “What do you think?”
Elena paused, as if she was actually waiting for the doll to answer, although she knew she wouldn’t. The room, in fact the whole house, was so different to the house she had grown up in. It all felt very strange to her, especially since she had no-one else to talk to. Somehow, talking to Della felt like she could be talking to her uncle, who had carved her. Elena felt lonely, and she didn’t like it. Growing up there had always been someone to talk to, uncles, aunts, cousins and of course her Papa. He was in the room next door now, speaking to the people who owned this house.

“This is so good of you” she heard him say.
“It is nothing, for a friend” a voice replied, the man.

“His voice is all grumbly and rumbly” whispered Elena. “Just like a bear! I wonder if he eats children?”
She shivered, but it was a fun sort of fear. Really she knew he would not eat her, Papa said he had lots of children himself.
“Lots and lots of children! Maybe about fifty” she whispered to Della.

"How old is your daughter?” asked a female voice.
“She is just eight” replied Papa.
“The same age as our Fiona. That will be good, for both of them I hope. Fiona is so wild, her best friends are her brothers”

Elena shivered again. A wild girl? “Maybe she’ll be the one to eat me!” she told Della wide-eyed.

“I know that Elena misses her cousins. I think that it’s having a bad influence on her.”
Papa sighed. Elena wanted to run through and comfort him, but she had been told to sit still. She sat carefully with her feet together and hands in her lap. Della was resting on her arms.
“She used to be a normal child, running around the farm getting mucky. Then we had the fire.”
He sighed again. It sounded so loud that it might blow all the leaves off all the trees in the village. Elena smiled to think of all the bare trees.
“It seemed like something changed then” he continued “now she barely moves in case she musses her dress”

Elena wanted to go and tell him that she just wanted to be good, so he wouldn’t have to worry about her. Ever since she could remember he had had bushy black hair, now it was going grey and he had lots of little lines on his forehead that were not there before. Sometimes when Elena sat on his lap she traced the lines with her fingertip. They were like trails marked on a map.

“Elena?”
The bear voice was in the room now, making Elena jump. She clutched Della closer.
“Hello Elena” said the woman. Elena thought her voice sounded like a princess or something, maybe an Elf. Maybe she was descended from Elves! Maybe she is an Elf princess really and they will come and collect her and I’ll see their shining white horses, she told Della, but silently. Elena wasn’t ready to talk to her best friend in front of these new people yet.
“Hello” she answered softly, her blue eyes fixed on the ground.
“I hope you’ll be very happy here”
“Thank you” Elena replied politely, but inside she doubted it.
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Old 03-26-2003, 04:16 PM   #30
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Searching the eyes of the people in the room, Annanoldowen noticed that they were all trying to think of a question that they wanted answered before they left on this expedition. The feeling when there were so many questions to ask that weren’t entirely formed in the mind was obvious on everyone’s face. Laurel sat in the chair opposite the group and answered patiently the little questions that were asked. Annanoldowen knew of the odds they were against and their advantages and disadvantages. There was, however, one question to which the answer was hazy. This question was directed to the whole of the people before her. Her voice broke through the momentary silence like a summer breeze in a meadow, soft and calming.

“There is something that has not been clarified. We have all been summoned here to help rid Alphirion of these marauding foes? In this room are collectively the best warriors of Middle Earth. Gondorians, Rohirrim, a few elves.” She nodded in turn to each category of aid in the room. “It is to my understanding that your people have been fighting this enemy for a recent amount of time but using different battle tactics. All have failed so you called for help. Only fifty percent of your plea has been answered though. The givers of assistance have arrived, but will it be enough? What methods shall they take to give true help?

“We will need time to become familiar with the geography.” She paused then, her eyes looking into the faces of every soldier before her, but not seeing them. Instead she was looking inside her mind, picturing the forest again that she had seen so long ago. The elf nodded then, a fateful smile crossing her face, “Time. Laurel? How much time do we have? How many people are left in Swan Wood?” The council became silent as Laurel addressed them precisely.
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Old 03-27-2003, 02:17 PM   #31
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She was getting a sister, one her age, even! Fiona had been pleased when her father had told her aabout it. A new friend, with who she could gang up against Rian. Two people could win fights again one older brother much easier then one, that was a fact. And besides, maybe she would finally be able to move out of her little chamber into the big room, with her new sister. Yes, Fiona was sure, she would like having a sister.

Maybe that was why she was so dissapointed now. Sitting in the treehouse with Porridge and Shadow, she peeped down in the house. The girl was sitting in her luggage, cluchting to a doll of all things. A doll. A little doll with a little dress and "cute" little braids.

She had to take a closer look at this. She quickly climbed dow the tree, her hair getting caught in an overhanging branch. She tugged a bid, and ripped her dress in the effort. When she finally reached the ground she looked like a scarecrow, but didn´t even notice. Instead, she just casually strolled over to the house. She entered, ignored Rian´s horrified glance at her looks and stepped in front of the new girl.

"Hi," she said "I´m Fiona, who are you?"

[ March 27, 2003: Message edited by: Manardariel ]
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Old 03-27-2003, 06:55 PM   #32
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Cartil could not hold his tongue any longer. He had done so in attempt to learn something of what he had come for and why.

“It is to my understanding that your people have been fighting this enemy for a recent amount of time but using different battle tactics. All have failed so you called for help. Only fifty percent of your plea has been answered though. The givers of assistance have arrived, but will it be enough? What methods shall they take to give true help?” One elf, though Cartil could not remember her name, spoke.

Cartil considered this. Yes, the group had been gathered to help, but what would a few humans and elves do to help that many residents of the wood could not? How would they find a way to rid the enemy if every other plausible way had been tried, or at least considered?

“We will need time to become familiar with the geography.” The elf continued, and at this, Jess snapped back out of a daydream of sorts. Cartil had been gone from home long enough to forget the land, but Jess had been through the woods and the areas around it, especially her home in Tarnost, enough times to remember most of it.

“Time. Laurel? How much time do we have? How many people are left in Swan Wood?”

Jess opened her mouth to speak, but Cartil frowned and she was silent. Cartil decided to speak while he still had the chance.

“How can we help in a way that the residents could not?” Cartil voiced, before Laurel could answer the elf.

“The children,” Jess began, not able to stay quiet. “We should evacuate them, at least. Minas Tirith would welcome them, I’m sure. And geography should not be a problem, what with Laurel here with us. I’ll help too, as much as I can. I know enough about the northern confines of the forest and the surrounding areas.”
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Old 03-28-2003, 04:27 AM   #33
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Silmaril

Laurel heard Annanoldowen’s melodic voice cut the air “There is something that has not been clarified. We have all been summoned here to help rid Alphirion of these marauding foes? In this room are collectively the best warriors of Middle Earth. Gondorians, Rohirrim, a few elves. It is to my understanding that your people have been fighting this enemy for a recent amount of time but using different battle tactics. All have failed so you called for help. Only fifty percent of your plea has been answered though. The givers of assistance have arrived, but will it be enough? What methods shall they take to give true help? We will need time to become familiar with the geography.” Laurel thought of her foes, and what little time left, and hear heart began to race

Annanoldowen spoke again “Time. Laurel? How much time do we have? How many people are left in Swan Wood?” Laurel was about to speak when Cartil’s strong voice broke in “How can we help in a way that the residents could not?” Then, a cry came from the back of the crowd. Jess stepped forward “The children. We should evacuate them, at least. Minas Tirith would welcome them, I’m sure. And geography should not be a problem, what with Laurel here with us. I’ll help too, as much as I can. I know enough about the northern confines of the forest and the surrounding areas.” The crowd began to murmur in nervousness. Laurel stood up from her chair and spoke as clearly as she could muster

‘I shall answer all good friends. Lady Annanoldowen, it is true that many tactics have been used to try and stop these forces to no avail. But what we lacked were sheer number of experienced fighters. The Lady believes that is the key to the success of any tactic used against them. That should comfort you Sir Cartil’ Laurels heart slowed down after remembering her grandmothers soothing old voice ‘As for time, we have none. I can almost be certain they have attacked since I left. We must soon make haste. But for your question Lady Jesslyn, most children are orphans and in the Swan House, and that is reasonably safe. But our pleas to the villagers and their families to flee have fell on deaf ears. They believe they will be delivered, or will fight themselves. I cannot explain it, and it hurts me to see them suffer, but I cannot make them go’ she stopped, then gathered her thoughts.

‘We shall pack and leave now’ she bowed slightly, and left the house.
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Old 03-28-2003, 07:36 PM   #34
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Silmaril

Lanaey had stayed in the back of the council, simply observing those around her without contributing anything. She had talked enough last night and didn't feel like talking at all. Glancing around she looked at the anticipatory faces and the reserved ones. Laurel looked different from last night, as if she had given something up or had a confirmation. Maybe a mixture of the two or neither of them. Lanaey shrugged off her indifference and shifted her position as the humans and elf spoke their pieces. Human's were so impatient sometimes. Lanaey decided that it must come from their youth.

Laurel seemed exceptionally worried about the farmers and such who wouldn't head their warning to go to safety. Lanaey thought that their leader was exceptionally emotional, but that was understandable. She was a young human who was fighting for her home and the life that was all she knew in this world. She could even be losing her friends and family at this very moment to the raiders, who seemed to be expert fighters capable of anything. Lanaey watched Laurel's back as she exited the meeting. Laurel was supressing many emotions as she left them all to get ready for the upcoming trek and not all of those emotions were evoked from this meeting.

Pivoting on her right foot, Lanaey turned and headed to her nearby little camp, gathering up everything. She hadn't been able to do her full excercises that morning, but that was to be expected. She had been able to get in the basic stretching ones, and figured that those would be the only ones she would be able to do for awhile. She had been constricted in her excercises by company campaigns before and it didn't really phase her.

"Heya Drass, now we ride some more," Lanaey spoke quietly in her horses ear. Drass stamped her foot, eager to be off, which brought a slight smile to the old elf's mouth. Drass always seemed ready for anything. Moving around her camp Lanaey gathered up all her belongings that weren't already packed away. She re-checked all her weapons and grabbed her two slender sticks that she hadn't already put in her hair. Twisting it up in two simple motions, the sticks were in place and now so was her long hair. Riding and fighting without worrying about simple little things like loose hair were good comforts in life. Gathering Drass' reigns she led her horse to where they were departing.

Looking about her Lanaey could feel the pull again. It was a pull to go outside of herself, and she resisted it with much effort. It felt as if her soul wanted to escape her corporeal being, but the mind fought it. Going still Lanaey had to literaly stop everything she was doing to focus soley on taking control of herself. As if grasping hold of something, she came almost violently back to herself. Tremoring slightly she gripped Drass' reigns and then the horse itself for support. Acting as if she were simply stroking Drass' neck Lanaey looked around to see if anyone had caught her in that moment of pure weakness. There were some people nearby, but none noticably looking at her. That quick survey satisfied Lanaey as she turned inward again to figure out what had just happened to her.

I've been drifting further and further as each night passes. I've never lost control of myself before though. The previous night Lanaey had blamed her sense of detachment on the environment around her, but now she knew it was much more serious and personal. It's inside of me . . . Suddenly Lanaey was frightened, this was something completely foreign to her, no emotion she had ever known before. Gathering every ounce of will power and strength that she had, Lanaey brought herself under control and sealed away the offending sense inside of her.

Petting Drass to quite the beasts fear for it's master, Lanaey looked out at the landscape before her.

[ March 28, 2003: Message edited by: Kryssal ]

[ March 29, 2003: Message edited by: Kryssal ]
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Old 03-30-2003, 11:06 AM   #35
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Silmaril

Elena held Della tight, talking to an older girl called Rian. She was being very nice to Elena. Her voice made Elena think of butter sweets- sugary, syrupy but nice. She was very pretty and had a lovely dress on. Della wanted Elena to touch it, it looked so soft, but Elena refused. She didn't speak out loud though, because she didn't want this girl to think she was mad.

"Would you like some milk Elena?" asked rian with a smile. Elena nodded and rian left the room. Elena sat down on her box with a thud. She giggled, stood up and did it again.

"Hi!" someone said, surprising Elena so much she missed the box and sat on the floor. Blushing, she stood up and brushed her dress down. Without seeming to notice the girl continued.
"I´m Fiona, who are you?"
"E-Elena" she stuttered in return. This girl seemed nothing like Rian, her clothes were torn and dirty. Elena gulped. This was the wild girl!

Fiona continued chatting so fast that Elena's head span. She was confused, she didn't know what the girl was saying any more. Without realising she began to cry. Fiona stopped talking and stared disgustedly at her.

Sobbing Elena ran from the room, passing Rian in the hall and fled through the open door. Without stopping to think that she didn't know her way in the village she continued to run.

[ April 26, 2003: Message edited by: Lyra Greenleaf ]
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Old 03-31-2003, 05:49 AM   #36
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Silmaril

Laurel felt the wind again whip her face. They had ridden now, through the remainder of that day and into another. Laurel felt the urgenct drive at her, and did not stop. Only the great horse of Annanoldowen seemed not be be feeling the fatigue.

Laurel slowed her horse, and the others did likewise. The long plains of Gondor rolled out before them. She thought of the risk of camping for the night as her horse moved steadily along.

'I shall try for a few more hours. We need to make more ground' she said to herself

At that, someones horse rode up beside her, and a voice said...
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Old 03-31-2003, 09:29 AM   #37
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Shield

"It´s not fair, it´s not fair, it´s not fair!"

Fiona yelled. She was sitting in her room, grounded by Rian, and she had no idea whatsoever what she had done! Grumbeling, she picked up one of the kittens that was balancing on the window-sill. "Oh, no, you´re staying in here. I need company." The kitten miaoud, but obeyed and cuddeled herself in Fiona´s lap.

"Say," the girl questioned, "Are you scared of me too? Do you run away when I talk to you?" The kitten gave her a look like she was mad. At that oment, someone knocked on her door. Her father entered, looking dead serious.

"Now, Fiona. I want you to tell me precisly what you sayed to Elenna. Everything.§

"Father, I swear, I wasn´t mean. I wasn´t even impolite. I remeberd my manners, I said please and thanky you, I was just trying to be nice."

"Yes, but what did you say?"

"Nothing! I talked about Porridge; and Shadow and her kittenskittens, about they boys and having my own room, with her; and about-"

She stopped. Her father was smiling down at her.

"That´s ok, Fiona. I see it wasn´t your fault. I don´t know what made Elenna run off..."

"Elenna? What a stupid name. It sounds so prissy. A prissy name for a prissy-"

"Fiona!"

"Sorry. And she´s run off?"

"Now young lady, I wan´t one thing clear. When Elenna comes back you be nice to her. Understood? NICE!"

"Yes, father. "

"Good. Now come down and help me look for her."
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Old 04-01-2003, 03:46 AM   #38
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Sting

The three elves continued on southward, past the Gladden Fields. With Rûdhchamion leading them, they traveled along the Great River, Anduin. It took them several weeks, and for the first time the two elven brothers looked upon Ithilien. To the east they saw the Mountains of Shadow. They eventually stopped after crossing The River Poros, then turned westward to the Mouths of Anduin and once again headed south.

“Where to?” asked the Galain. Gorath handed the other Dark Elf a waterskin. They had stopped to rest once more.

“We are close to our destination,” Rûudhchamion pointed towards the south. “She is there, and I know not the urgency that drives me there.”

The two brothers looked at their older kin. “Then the purpose has not yet been revealed.”

“Gondor,” he said quietly. He looked with elven eyes, along the plains. His stormy, grey eyes filled with worry. He had not felt such urgent foreboding since last he had seen her, years past.

“Will she remember?” asked Gorath.

“The Lady Taralphiel is a dear friend. It has been long, but our paths have crossed and I believe it no coincidence.”

They kept silent, as they were about to begin towards the plain of Gondor, Galain pointed. Far off, perhaps still several leagues from their location they saw riders.
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Old 04-04-2003, 04:35 PM   #39
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Silmaril

The ride was turning out to be slightly exhausting, but it let Lanaey clear her mind. Going into battle was no time to lose ones self. The gentle hills were repetitive and the land gave off a lazy feeling of contentment. Lanaey had been slightly obsorbing the land's strength their entire journey to try and strengthen herself. As they got nearer to their destination, however, the land was getting more turbulent, more filled with anger, hate, and struggle. War affected the land so much, it was a shame that it had to take so much damage from the inhabitants fighting over it.

Suddenly Lanaey looked up and out. She had felt something and she wasn't quite sure what it was, but it was from out there. Scanning the lands about she spied some riders a few leagues off. At this distance she could only tell that there were three of them, whatever they may be. They weren't being overly subtle or trying to hide, so it looked like they might be friendly or indifferent, though being in war time it was hard to guess anyone's intent.

Glancing at the group that she was a part of, she wondered if she should mention it at all. Looking at their leader, Lanaey noticed that the pace had just been slackened, and she slowed Drass in response. Taking another look at the far off travellers, Lanaey spurred Drass into a quick burst of speed to reach Laurel from the middle back of the group. Drass was starting to feel a lot of strain and Lanaey patted her in reassurance. Drass would be getting an extra good rubdown when they finally camped.

"Lady, there are some riders in the distance." Lanaey pointed the direction with her head. "Are you expecting any more help from different quarters?"

"No, I'm not." Laurel squinted her eyes trying to make them out, but she only had human eyes after all. After a few moments she said, "You mean that little moving blur up there?"

Lanaey nodded in affirmation.

"Do you know what they are? Or who they are?" Laurel asked.

"I do not. I only know that there are three of them and they aren't hiding their movements much."

As Laurel once again looked at the little band far off, Lanaey dropped back to her old position. Drawing in a little more strength from the land, she continued on their pace looking ahead to their goal. She'd let Laurel handle any decisions; it didn't really matter to Lanaey in any matter. Lanaey was beginning to wonder what mattered to her at all... Once again she was reminded about the alien struggle inside of herself.
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Old 04-05-2003, 02:40 AM   #40
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Silmaril

"Lady, there are some riders in the distance." The voice of Lanaey the elf drew her back to herself. She motioned to the land in front of her "Are you expecting any more help from different quarters?"

"No, I'm not." Laurel looked out forward and strained to see. Squinting, she noticed something "You mean that little moving blur up there?" Lanaey nodded.

"Do you know what they are? Or who they are?" Laurel questioned the she-elf

"I do not. I only know that there are three of them and they aren't hiding their movements much."

Laurel thought to herself. 'If they are foe, then there is little to do' She gripped her concealed sword and motioned to the group 'I shall ride out to meet them. If any blows be made, our shaper eyed friends shall see'

Laurel spurred her horse and slowly saw the figures come into shape. When she was close enough she slowed and called 'The Lady of the Swan Wood asks thee thine names!' One said...
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