The Pale Road to Laketown and to Final Farewells

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The Pale Road to Laketown and to Final Farewells

Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:05 am

At the feet of Carn Dûm, a battle raged, a battle that changed the lives of many ... and ended the lives of some.

These are the stories, reflections and lives of those this battle will forever touch.....

Those who live remembering death, remembering life, remembering love, remembering loss.

Those who journey a long, pale road to say final farewells.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:26 pm

Reflections on a traitor’s life: a commentary on the history of Bardhwyn, Baroness Bardhol, of Dale

By Athellyn, Royal Scribe, Lesser Board, to the Court of King Bard II
Royal Scriveners, Gate Hill, Dale
14th day of Ethuil

Gentle Reader,

It is difficult to believe everything one hears for the wise know that oft in the telling much more is said about he, or she, who tells the tale than about the tale itself. And so it is the case when tales are told about the 'Traitoress of Dale', Bardhwyn, daughter of Bardhol, exile and outlaw, about whom there are many stories, indeed.

Some tale-tellers are quick to relate stories of wickedness and terror, some that dare not speak her name but describe her as the Scarred Harpy of the Vales – a reference to the prominent scar on the Traitoress’ left side of face and her exile in Dorwinion.

Others may well describe a woman of courage and heroism - who have heard stories of, or perhaps even directly benefited from, seemingly uncharacteristic acts of charity by this woman - albeit they make their proclamations in hushed and quiet tones out of fear of being mistaken for treasonous sympathizers.

Some will say she’s cruel and a villain while there are others, especially the common folk in Dale, who hold to the notion that a Bardhol can be trusted, that she, Bardhwyn, will come to a Barding’s aid, anywhere at any time; a Barding need only call out her family name. An extension of this folk legend is evident in the elderly women of Dale who mutter 'Bardhol berwen' as a spell of protection ('Bardhol, protect us' in old Dalish). Its said the daughter of Bardhol would defend her birthplace with her life, without question. For did not her father and four brothers give their lives in defense of Dale? Could any less be expected of her?

A curious mix of tale and legend, to be sure.

There is much debate about this personage, the mysterious Baroness Bardhol. Granted, the debate occurs within a very small circle of interested parties. My efforts here are as much for my own musings and cogitations as they are to stimulate mild, if not informed, discussion about one of the more colorful individuals of Barding society.

Bardhwyn’s youthful friendship with and betrothal to His Majesty, Bard II, King of Dale, when he was our Crown Prince, is, of course, well known to all. The heartbreaking loss she endured during the Battle of Dale was truly pitiful. The downfall of the newly invested Baroness Bardhol (for she inherited all due titles and honors upon her father's death) and the breaking of her troth to the Prince were tragic events, whilest her joining with a traitor’s band shortly thereafter, truly scandalous.

Her trial was well documented and the clemency of His Majesty, King Bard II, magnanimous (she was branded traitor on the arm, not the face as is the Barding custom, at the King's command). Her exile was swift and after her departure her story grows mysterious and strange; her caravan in Dorwinion was attacked and her face maimed (the King’s efforts to spare her profile undone!), a village existence in Les under the tutelage of a witch, ultimately becoming a spy for Dale Crown in the East?

Thus the real debate rages: did she, or did she not, actively join with His Majesty’s Royal Bowmen during their clandestine mission in the East? Did the Mistress and Master Archer exercise their full impunity and enlist the aid of one of Dale’s most infamous outcasts while abroad and serving the Barding Crown? Rumour and tale say this is so, yet the official records and annals taken down by Barding scribes after the Bowmen’s successful return to Dale make no mention of Bardhwyn, Baroness Bardhol, Traitoress and Exile as a member of the Royal Bowmen.

Many unofficial tales however, mostly from the members of that illustrious band during long nights of drinking at the Bowmen’s Hall, contradict this and describe her as a trusted and relied member of that secretive and clandestine group upon whom, it should be duly noted, His Majesty so implicitly trusted, and still trust, today.

Thus the question stands: can the stories told over ale tankards be as, or more, reputable than the official documents sworn and stamped with Royal Wax and Seal?

It should be noted that, upon the Bowman’s return from their victories in the East, a Royal Pardon was requested for Bardhwyn, daughter of Bardhol. This is fact, though the reference is brief; a mere single line in Dalish runes recording the application for the affixing of the Royal Seal to an appendix of the pardon, requested by a sub-clerk of the Royal Scriveners, Third Desk (see Royal Clerk Desk Compendium, vol 23, section 143, page 14, subsection 4a) though no accompanying documentation such as the pardon itself, any accompanying statements and/or witnessed writs are to be found in official files.

One must ask: Why this request for clemency by the Bowmen if she were not recruited and deemed a fully-fledged and trusted member of that most respected of Guilds? And why is there no other documentation to be found?

Records show that the Master Archer went to the throne of King Elessar, appointed there by the King to lead the newly formed Dale Contingent of the Tower Guard and he was, and I quote, "hitherto entrusted with all due writs and requests deemed appropriate and in the King's interests and empowered to execute and enact all writs as required." That suggests, to my thinking, he was able to present, in person, King Bard’s Royal Writ of Pardon for the Baroness Bardhol to the High King’s seal and entreat His Majesty's approval. But, as my esteemed colleagues continually point out: no supporting official documentation can be found to support this, aside from the one, single ledger entry mentioned above.

Master Archer, Lysandros of Royal Bowmen of Dale was assigned to the Tower Guard; this is documented. He did go to Minas Tirith and serve there. So what of the Traitoress at this time? Again, it is thought she, too, traveled to Gondor with the Master Archer but there are no documents or facts to support this. In fact, this scenario is highly unlikely, pure fancy, for she was, let's not forget, a branded traitor and exiled from all the lands held under the High King. To be discovered would mean immediate execution.

Rumors are gleaned thereafter; of a sighting in Harad, in Rhudaur and even Rohan; again, I am skeptical of her continued residence in the High Kingdom. Harad in the most likely scenario. Yet, surprisingly there is record of a Barding’s stay at a minor Elven court for a brief period of time, a woman in the company of the Peredhel, SilverScribe, a woman who matches Bardhwyn’s striking description, notably the scarred face. (And here is another strong support for Bardhwyn’s membership with the Bowmen. The Bardings too recruited the Peredhel during their fateful mission east).

It is interesting to note that, just as no evidence exists of said pardon being recorded in Dale (apart from the single ledger entry), per correspondence with my royal counterparts in Minas Tirith there is no official record of a pardon request being received, either. It is as if the request were ignored or lost or, as my critics assert, never existed at all.

I have yet to travel to Minas Tirith and, in my powers as Royal Scribe to the King of Dale, personally request a review of the documentation of that period; I have had to rely on written requests and replies but it is my hope that, next spring, I will be granted the short leave of absence I've requested so I may, finally, travel to the White City to research and document my theory: that the Master Archer did present a pardon to the High King personally and was entrusted with all due powers to negotiate and obtain its approval.

Even the hardest of hearts must be assuaged to some degree when one considers this: if Bardhwyn, Baroness Bardhol, a peer of the Realm of Dale, were recruited by the Royal Bowmen, served the Crown honorably and performed her duty admirably in the East and, despite the efforts of her comrades at arms, were to be denied a pardon and a chance at a normal life after clearly atoning for her past actions – is that not a perversion of justice? Is that not in keeping with our High King’s hope and wish for a just and fair realm under which all can aspire to full and peaceful lives? Is it fair? Or could our liege lords be guilty of convicting and passing sentence upon this woman a second time for crimes committed in the past?
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:44 pm

Extracts from the tale of Leoba of Ithilien - troubadour and traveller - and of her great passion for Dirk the Daring and of events thereafter.


Of their last parting

Urimë in the 3rd year of the 4th Age

Dirk and Leoba stood on the battlements, looking down over the teeming layers of city life below them and out across the encircling farmlands. The lingering rays of the setting sun burnished the fields and hay-meadows with gold. It was the young couple’s last day together in the White City and both were troubled by the leave-taking they knew was almost upon them.

Dirk turned to face Leoba and took her soft hands in his. Then he brought them to his lips and gently kissed each palm. Still holding hands, they searched deep into each others’ eyes.

“We cannot hide from the fact that tomorrow I must ride away” Dirk said. His gravelly voice cracked as he spoke. ”You know that there is nothing I want more in the world than to wake up with you every morning and to spend every moment of our lives together. Keep that thought with you whatever happens, my love.”

Leoba’s clear green eyes misted with unbidden tears but even as they glistened on her eyelashes she mastered herself enough to speak. “I promise you that I will stay strong, Dirk. If I could ride with you on this journey I would but I understand that the call of the Mithril Knights is yours alone. This is a precious chance to break your father’s curse; grasp it Dirk in both hands and try to mend our future”.

He nodded. “I will. And when this is over we will be together. I cannot ask you to marry me now but when I can I will. I love you, Leoba of Ithilien, with every fibre of my soul” and he pulled her close as she whispered back, “I love you too, with all of me” and as they kissed and the world around them melted into nothingness. There they stood, wrapped in one another until a blanket of jewelled stars broke out above them; a clear and warm summer’s night beckoned, scented with jasmine and threaded with love, tinged with sadness.

……………………………

They awoke early next morning, as dawn’s rosy fingers brushed the edges of the eastern sky, though truthfully there had been little sleep for either of them. Leoba sat on the edge of the bed and began braiding her long chestnut hair.

“Wait. Stop” Dirk said as he knelt down beside her. He picked up a handful of her hair and held it to his cheek, inhaling her perfume, committing the sensation to memory. “I want to remember you like this. Please. Leave it loose for me this morning. And would you let me take something to remember you by”. At which he pulled his long knife from its scabbard and cut a lock for safe-keeping. He tied it tight and wrapped it in a handkerchief.

Leoba left her hair loose as he had asked and instead cast a light veil across her head and thus attired they left for the stables. Endlomë , Dirk’s black stallion, was waiting for his master, pawing at the ground already in his impatience to be gone. Together they saddled and harnessed Dirk’s horse and girded him with saddlebags, well-stocked with provisions for the young knight’s journey.

Dirk rode slowly through the wakening streets, Leoba keeping pace at his side. Minas Tirith was already stirring and they would not be first out of the gate that morning. Grocers had thrown open their shutters and were setting out their wares: oranges fresh off the ships from the south; Leoba stopped to buy one for Dirk. Potent trays of fish and seaside delicacies were being unloaded as they passed through that quarter and errand boys ran hither and thither, everyone taking advantage of the freshness found at the 5th hour of the day.

At last Leoba and Dirk came to the greatest gate of all, that which lay in the lowest of the city circles. It was time. The young man leaped down from his saddle to grasp his love in his arms one more time. Leoba said “If you need me, whenever, wherever, you know I will come. Don’t be afraid to ask”. Dirk nodded. He took her face in his hands and kissed her passionately. And then again. The lovers clung together for a minute more. Then Dirk mounted Endlomë and with but one backward glance he took the road north.

Leoba stood by the gate and watched, as dawn turned to day and until he was nothing more than a black speck in the far distance and then nothing.
Last edited by Leoba on Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:54 pm

Letter from Leoba to her sister-in-law, Morwen

Minas Tirith, 5 Urimë IV3

He is gone and I am bereft.

Oh my dear Morwen, I don’t know who to turn to or where to go anymore! Tears have soaked my pillow and reddened my eyes for the past three days since I watched Dirk ride out through the city gates on his black stallion. I lied to him: I said I would be strong and that I understood why he had to join the Mithril Knights. I do very much understand but I am not strong. Not when I know there is a very real chance that he may not come back. I am numb to everything except the memory of his leave-taking. When I close my eyes at night I imagine I am in his embrace again and feel his touch and the love that has rocked me to my core. And then I wake and he is gone and this time I do not know if he will return and I am bereft.



Letter from Leoba to Morwen

Minas Tirith, 16 Urimë IV3


You are right, my dear sister, that I should bear up and that it has always been the fate of soldiers’ wives (and girlfriends) to be sundered from their loved ones. I know you know how it is and thank you for being a willing listening ear. I really will try to put a brave face on things. Whilst there is a still any small hope that he will come home to me and that we may yet be married then I can live.

I have indeed received a letter from Serindë, inviting me to stay with her and Carandil in Pelargir. It sounds as though she has a full house these days since her seventh child has been added to her and my brother’s brood but she assures me there is space for a bard, as it would seem there always is. It’s at times like this that I am especially grateful for my music; if I didn’t have my instruments I would truly be lost.

Although every time I play my harp I am reminded of Dirk. He liberated it, you know, from the treasury of Carn Dûm. It is of more exquisite workmanship than someone of my skills could ever deserve to play upon and we always thought from the engraving on it that it must have been of ancient Elvish make. It was in acquiring it that things changed for us and his soul grew darker. A shadow was cast over our lives; not something I want to dwell upon at this particular moment.

Yet when we first met two years ago at the bardic festival in Eriador, Dirk was such a boy; all wide-eyed innocence and exuberance. I can picture it now. The garden of the inn was decorated for a huge party. Bunting was strung between the trees and bushes and fireflies danced amidst the boughs. On all the tables there were painted jam jars filled with early spring flowers and flickering candles. There was plentiful country fare and no shortage of ale and wine to quench our thirst, and we were thirsty with all the dancing – we danced the springlering – and on we went until dawn. Dirk arrived late, long after we bards had finished our recitals and once the party was in full swing, and he made quite an entrance. He strode into the midst of the throng, full of confidence, dust still clinging to his travelling clothes and to his tall riding boots. His grey eyes sparkled as they found mine and the rest, as they say, is history. We danced together and we laughed and talked long into the deep of the night under the stars. It was love at first sight and nothing that has happened between that day and this has altered that.



Letter from Leoba to Morwen

Minas Tirith, 23 Urimë IV3

I have replied to Serinde to let her know to expect me in the first week of Narquelië, so you will be able to write to me at this address until the end of next month. I have decided to remain here in the White City until just after my birthday on the 28 Yavannië.

I am as it is wilting in the searing heat of high summer in the City. As you must remember, the stones of the streets soak up the sun’s rays all day so that even at nightfall they continue to radiate its warmth. It’s hard to remember that I grew up in even warmer climes as, after several years mainly in the north, I am finding it hard to readjust. The thought of the further extreme of Pelargir in Urimë is thus really not tempting me. Yet a month hence, when the season mellows, when Manwë sends the westerly winds up the Anduin to blow away the stench of the summer drains and when the heat will be less fierce and when the olives are ripe and ready for harvest: that’s the time to go home.

Besides which, I have run into an old friend here and instinct is urging me to tarry in her company while the opportunity is with us. I don’t think I have mentioned Bardhwyn to you before now. She is a true friend of Dirk’s (and to me too) and has been such a rock since our paths crossed again.

We have been reminiscing about the old times and it has been balm for my soul. Our paths first crossed with hers when Dirk took me to visit his foster family in Esgaroth, soon after we had first met. We tarried in Laketown for several weeks. On still days the bones of Smaug are clearly visible in the waters covering the old town and one day we took a boat out to see them. Some of the braver boys were diving down in search of jewels in the carcass, though it is a long way down amidst the remains of wooden piers. Dirk told me he had been just as keen as a youngster but to no avail! The only downside of Esgaroth: the midges are horrendous. I am convinced Laketowners must have hides like oliphaunts!

To get back to my point, whilst we were there we heard tell of an archery competition up north in Dale and how could we resist! Bowmanship is very close to the hearts of those northerners and they have a whole guild dedicated to the furtherance of that skill. I triumphed at the butts and beat the archers of Dale at their own game; most gratifying. We became well acquainted with our hosts and gamed and told stories and I triumphed against Bardhwyn in a riddle contest. I found the men and women of the north less inclined than us to sing of romance and laughter for they are altogether a more serious breed yet their long sagas of dragon-slaying and vengeance, though different, are fiercely beautiful. I have learned to sing a few but they somehow don’t have the same resonance here in the warmth of the south as they do in the feasting halls of the north.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:58 pm

Letter from Leoba to Morwen

Minas Tirith, 9 Yavannië IV3

Dear Morwen, really, I don’t mind you asking in the least: I did wonder if you had heard the rumours. I will try and explain subsequent events to you. The ‘bad times’, as you described them, although I find it a difficult story to relate both from a personal and a political viewpoint, if you understand my meaning. So if my storytelling appears a little stilted at times I hope you will forgive me.

On leaving Dale, we were invited into the Elven King’s Halls. The King of the Greenwood had a story to tell Dirk about a prophecy and about his heritage. The detail of that council is not my tale to tell but suffice to say that it disturbed Dirk profoundly and it disturbed me. Not long after, he took off without me to face his demons alone. For a time he was possessed; that is the only word I can think of to describe his behaviour and he careered down pathways darker than any mortal man should venture down. I have never learned the whole of it other than from listening to his nightmares and those I shall never repeat to a living soul.

I came back here to Minas Tirith, in the company of Bardhwyn. She took me in and showed kindness and compassion for which I will ever be indebted. And, yes, the rumours are mainly true, although I know a lot was done to hush things up afterwards. Dirk returned, wielding a ring of power, wreathed in shadow and leading a dark army. The city guard were all brought out against him. It was horrible, truly horrible, my own brother against my l... him. It was only through luck, I swear, that Dirk was stopped, through the bravery of the city’s champion challenging him in single combat and by the accidental action of a hobbit, who cut the ring from his finger. His wounds were dreadful to behold and I nursed him day and night and then when he was fit enough to face the sages of this realm I pleaded for his life. He was given his freedom and the opportunity to redeem himself and he swore to me that he would never again forsake our love.

Dirk told me afterwards that he was not attacking us but that he had come solely to take me. If he hadn’t been stopped, would I have gone without resistance? I am scared to admit, I fear in my heart of hearts that I would travel to the ends of the earth for him and that somewhere along the way many scruples would be laid aside. I think he knew that and learned from it. Which is why he forbade me to go with him this time: to try and keep me safe. I hate him and I love him for it.



Letter from Leoba to Morwen

Minas Tirith, 27 Yavannië IV3


It is very nearly my last day in the City and I keep thinking how odd it will be odd to go back to Pelargir. It has been a long time since I was there; at Serinde and Carandil’s wedding which must be twelve years ago now. Mind you, I’ve only seen the pair of them the one time since, when we all met up here in Minas Tirith after the siege was lifted. I’m rather looking forward to getting to know her a bit better – I know you two have been close for a long time – and of course becoming acquainted with my nieces and nephews and I am greatly in anticipation of catching up properly with my brother. The boys always were wonderful at looking out for me when I was little and I must confess I am rather looking forward to being cosseted a little and having some respite from cares for a while.

You really don’t need to worry about me. You say you knew the half of what I wrote in my previous letter before you received it, so what has changed? I can trust Dirk with my life and so should you. He has given his word that he will give everything to stick on the straight and narrow. I believe him.

Do you really need to ask if there were good times thereafter? There most certainly were, the very very best of times…. The intimate details of which are certainly not for divulging here!

But I know you will fish for details so I must spare you some of the pain that I know all curious people (myself included) suffer from and gift you some titbits. We travelled to more than one festival where I plied my craft with fellow bards. There are some tremendously talented players on the performance circuit and I have yet to win a competition, but in playing all together, there is a magic cast. On such a night we were all gathered in Rhudaur in the far north of Arnor. We bards had woven a tapestry in song, telling tales of ages long passed and mighty kings and elf lords who had long since departed these shores: the notes lingered in the chilling air and I could easily fancy that the heroes of old romances were listening and not so dead. It was late: the fires blazed bright and high, sending sparks up towards the Valacirca above. It was clear: the velvet skies were bejewelled with all the stars. It was late in the year: Menelmacar, the swordsman of the sky hung low on the horizon. It was a perfect night and Dirk and I retreated away from the throng. We sipped honeyed mead and gazed up at the heavens, pointing out to one another the constellations we knew. Good good times.

Our last journey together was a ride south from there, back to Minas Tirith. We had been staying at the Lucky Fortune, an inn on the great east-west road that runs through that north country, where we took up with a small band of adventurers. They led us into some dreadful scrapes. As you no doubt know from Calion’s rangering in Ithilien, if it is anything like the rest of Arda, there are still a lot of displaced peoples since the War, some of them less savoury than others. I am not fond of orcs, even less so when they are refugees and vagabonds! Yet amongst the bad, there were days that were sweet and good and times of dalliance of which very precious memories are made.

And there I must pause. You must know enough by now to understand why Dirk is, will always be, the only man for me. Please don’t try to persuade me otherwise; it will fall on deaf ears I promise you!

Tomorrow I shall celebrate my birthday quietly; Bardy has arranged a picnic I think. Then I am leaving on the first day of Narquelië so please do reply to me at the Pelargir address. For all that I miss my love, I am greatly looking forward to being back in the deep south again: the beat of the drums and the fire of the music, the wine, the sun-ripened dates and of course, my family.
Last edited by Leoba on Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:06 pm

Letter from Serindë to her sister-in-law Morwen

Pelargir, 12 Hísimë IV3

So, Leoba has been with us just over a month now and I think I can safely write to you that she is settling in well. There has indeed been a little of the moping that you warned me about and I have caught our dear sister once or twice having a sniffle over some letters – presumably from her boyfriend – which she keeps safe in a box. Not of course that she knows I know.

However, on the whole, things are good. She has been an absolute delight with the children. Leoba cannot move without having a three year old attached to her skirts, as little Rían has been especially taken with her arrival and hangs on her every word she utters and on every note she teases from her fiddle.



Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 20 Ringarë IV3

Morwen, you are naughty but I do like your idea rather a lot! Moreover, I may have just the chap in mind and you are right, at the absolute least it should help take Leoba’s mind off Dirk and perhaps at the best, earn ourselves a new brother-in-law.

Operation Matchmaker begins in earnest this evening because I have persuaded Leoba to join Carandil and myself at the big spice festival. It’s the place to see and be seen here in Pelargir at this time of the year. All the merchants are back from their treacherous journeys into Far Harad, the trading ships are bobbing at rest in the harbour and all the exotic goods brought back from the furthest flung corners of Arda are set out in the grand Mercers Hall. The exotic centre-piece last year was a ginormous golden statue of an many-handed god, covered in carvings and studded with jewels. One of the city senators bought it to adorn his villa; proof indeed that money cannot buy taste.

Our intended victim is Turaglar. He’s not a bad catch in fact: he has his own very prosperous vintners business and having had no wife for years to fritter away his hard earned cash, he has built himself one of the finest stone houses in our mercantile quarter. He’s fairly easy on the eye too, in spite of being a little past his prime. And according to the ladies in my sewing circle, he’s finally back on the market, after years of studiously ignoring every flirtatious young thing nearly throwing herself at him. I think it may be beyond my skills to actually persuade Leoba to set her cap at him but maybe I can make things happen the other way around. By the close of the year I am determined Turaglar will be besotted and we shall see how our sister’s resolve holds in the face of someone willing to make an honest woman of her here and now.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:13 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 29 Ringarë IV3

I don’t want to curse this business, so consider this a quiet whisper over a convivial glass of wine or two (an appropriate beverage in the context). I think we may have Turaglar interested already.

The spice festival went really well. Carandil invited a few friends to join us for dinner in one of the brasseries on the harbourside later in the evening and he extended the invitation to include our vintner. Leoba was on fine form. She does scrub up nicely when she puts her mind to it and when her eyes are all afire and her hair loosed, I think even the stoniest-hearted male of the species would have to be blind not to sit up and take note. I think it safe to say that Turaglar is far from blind. He may be pushing fifty but he knows a fine filly when he sees one; he made a few comments privately to Carandil as we were walking home which indicated he had certainly noticed Leoba’s assets.

So, with one immediate success under our belt, we plotted to strike again whilst the iron was hot. Last night we hosted a soiree, nothing out of the ordinary for us, but the first we’ve held since Leoba got here. I managed to persuade her to sing for us. It was a desperately sad song, about love and loss, in the northern style she loves so much, which can be hard to take for those unused to it, but it was rendered by her beautiful alto voice into the most exquisite fairytale. Our plotting and her heartache set aside for the minute, it really is an honour and a treat to have her stay with us. Turaglar was clearly smitten. He didn’t quite have his tongue hanging out of his mouth like a rabid dog; thankfully he is far too civilised for that. However, he never took his eyes off her.

I fear Leoba barely noticed him but it is early days yet and Turaglar has only just begun to make his move. This morning, his manservant brought a little parcel arrived at the door for Leoba. At the moment I have no idea what was in it which, as you may well imagine, is driving me to distraction (I will find out!) but a step in the right direction it certainly is, and far quicker than I could have imagined!



Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 3 Nénimë IV3

Indeed, I did find out what was in the parcel. It was I fear nothing desperately romantic: a leather-bound and antique copy of the Lay of Luthien. More tragic love; which did beg me to question quite what Turaglar was thinking. But perhaps he plays this game better than I do, because Leoba was impressed. They have been thick as thieves ever since, haunting the second-hand bookshops and antiquaries for other similar treasures. I honestly never realised that Turaglar was interested in poetry before now but he plays the part most convincingly.

Leoba hasn’t spoken to me about Turaglar in anything other than platonically friendly terms. Then again, she is playing her cards close to her chest on this one as she hasn’t really spoken much about Dirk either: there hasn’t been a single letter from lover boy since the one just after she arrived here four months ago. Based on an assessment of what you have told me, what I have gleaned from Leoba herself and what I have witnessed: Dirk clearly isn’t good enough for her. So I do feel thoroughly vindicated in encouraging Turaglar’s attentions. I haven’t overtly hinted to him of our sister’s interest but I don’t think it hurts to drop into conversation when she has mentioned his name.



Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 24 Nénimë IV3

We have had a proposal! A month ahead of year’s end no less.

Turaglar visited us yesterday afternoon and asked for a private audience with Leoba. I felt awful for her actually, because she did look most uncomfortable and begged me to stay. So stay I did. Carandil was relegated to peering through the keyhole.

I sat there like a great big fat gooseberry (and to be fair, I am far enough gone with this pregnancy for the comparison to be a just one) while our merchant gave a very fair speech. He didn’t drop to one knee, but stood by the window side by side with Leoba, both of them bathed in the shafts of soft winter sunlight which shone through the casement. He took her hands in his and she stood very still and silent as he said: “I hope I am not speaking out of turn when I say that over recent months I have come to truly value your person and your friendship. Leoba, I may not be a dashing adventurer or a young man anymore but I am in love with you, if that counts for aught in this world. And I am asking you to be my wife.”

She didn’t answer to begin with and it became acutely embarrassing. Turaglar looked as though he’d like the floor tiles to swallow him up. Leoba blushed. And then she said, “I’m sorry, I can’t.. You are a good man and I thank you so much but you know I’m not free”.

Well, I was spitting feathers by this point, a bird in the hand being worth several in the bush, so to speak. But I held my tongue just about. Thankfully, she has a dedicated admirer in Turaglar. He asked her only for permission to ask her again. And to this she dumbly nodded.

So it wasn’t the best of performances, but mayhap a little seed has been sown. She hasn’t refused to see him again and in fact the pair of them were off rummaging in the dusty corners of a booksellers, only yesterday. I am giving it time. I would give so much to see her properly settled. I think that the longer she goes without a letter from her knight errant, the greater the hope that she might see some sense.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:15 pm

1 Súlìmë: Letter from Dirk to Leoba in Pelargir

My dearest beloved,

It has been many months since I plumbed the depths of your eyes, since my heart danced to the music of your sweet voice. I write you now to tell you that I am well. I have been initiated into the Mithril Knights and have traveled many lands, both with them and alone. During those months, I have been through many tribulations that I will not describe here; but know that I have not been harmed permanently by any weapon. I am currently splitting my residence between the Mithril Knight Guildhouses of Esgaroth and Greenwood. Though I feel that I have tarried far too long and soon must continue upon my quest to fulfill my destiny.

Which brings me to the other reason for this letter. When I met you at the Lucky Fortune so long ago, I told you my name was Smaug’s Bane. I had taken such a name in order to find my own fortune without prejudice, good or bad, due to my origins. Or so I thought.

However, fate has given it a new significance. I took the name believing that it referred to Bard, a great warrior of pure virtue who slew a dragon. But now, I realize that Smaug’s Bane wasn’t the man who bent the bow, but the arrow itself: a black thing that had to be released and ultimately lost forever in order to do the most good.

I have come to realize, that in order to find what it is that I am to do for Middle-earth, I cannot live in fear of losing home, family, or love. I am utterly black now, and must be released.

Recently, I fought against a terrible foe that threatened Laketown, my boyhood home. My sentimental attachment to the place nearly caused me to turn aside from my purpose, to near disaster. Therefore, I will no longer have a home, but will live wherever the road and fate take me. Likewise, I cannot bear allegiance to any one land. Hence my service will be devoted to the Mithril Knights only and therefore to the whole of Middle-earth.

Lately, I have spent many days with Drake and Derek, my foster father and brother, who would have me stay in Esgaroth and settle down. I was sorely tempted. However, such a life cannot exist for me. So, though I will continue to bear the name that he gave me in honor of the sacrifices he made in order to raise me, I must leave Drake and his sons behind and claim my true heritage without shame or regret, at least within my own heart. For safety, I will necessarily have to keep my true parentage to myself; revealing the truth of it only to those I can surely trust. but nonetheless, I am Dirk of the Dúnedain, son of the Witch-king of Angmar and Minya of the Rangers of the North. My blood is wholly Numenoréan, and it is high time I own up to that fact and all that it entails.

Over these many months, my dearest, my thoughts have trailed to better times, like when we ran through flowered meadows in Hollin in the summertime. But also, I have feared for you. I have feared losing you. I can ill afford to hold such fear. I hope you understand now why I cannot return to you.

I will always love you. I gave you a piece of my heart that night at the festival. It will always belong to you. Live your life well. Be happy. If the opportunity arises, marry and raise a family.

Perhaps fate will allow me to survive the great but tragic deeds that Glorfindel foresaw. If so, then perhaps the hooves of a black warhorse may be heard once again upon the cobbles of Ithilien’s roads, in search of my beloved troubadour. But do not hold out hope. For my own heart tells me that, like Bard’s black arrow, I too must be lost forever in order to do the good that is my destiny.

May Eru comfort you and bring you joy for the rest of your days.

- Dirk



[OOC: Letter above was written by SmaugsBane, October 2007 in the Mithril Knights RP thread]
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Letter from Serinde to Morwen

Pelargir, 4 Súlìmë, IV3


Now I really have had enough! That man is no good for her, Morwen. I realise that I am not Leoba’s mother but I am at a loss and hope that you, who know more about this whole affair than I, can advise me on how to handle our sister. Dirk has written to her again, at last. He is messing with her head, telling her that he loves her but that she must forget him, that he is renouncing her but that if she’s lucky he might change his mind; not that Leoba showed me the letter but there are only so many places to hide something in her room.

I have made a copy for you because I really think you need to see word for word, the eye-popping arrogance of the man and also the very interesting reveal. Did you know anything about his shocking heritage?! I tell you, it’s news to us here. If Leoba had a inkling of it, then that is a card she’s played extremely close to her chest.

There has been an awful atmosphere around the house since the letter arrived yesterday afternoon. One of the guards’ messengers came to the door with it just as we were finishing up lunch and asked for her by name, as is the way with official correspondence. Leoba opened it there and then and read the letter in front of the messenger. I honestly thought that Dirk had died when I saw the initial look on her face; she went deathly pale and I’m sure would have collapsed if the man hadn’t given her his arm to steady her. She spent a good half hour in the street, reading and re-reading his missive and sniffling, never mind all the neighbours having a good ogle. I’ve already had half of them around here asking me what was up.

I had a bit of a heart to heart with her later about it. Even Leoba called her lover a fool then, though I expect not for the same reason I might. She is hopelessly besotted: the heart makes its home in some very inappropriate places if you ask me for he is absolutely not good enough for her.

Dirk is breaking her heart. We are the ones picking up the pieces. And if he has the gall to come sniffing round here again like a dog on heat after all he’s said and done to her then I WILL NOT be responsible for my actions and neither will Carandil.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:28 pm

Letter to Leoba from Bardhwyn

20 Súlìmë

Minas Tirith


My dearest friend,

I know not where to begin; I am so, so sorry. I read your letter several times before I could even begin to think, let alone feel. You paraphrased Dirk's letter to you succinctly, no easy task, I'm sure - and how clear his voice rang in my mind with those few, exact quotes you included. I cannot imagine what it was like for you, receiving those sentiments, no matter how beautifully written. What is he thinking? Why does he see this as the only way to proceed? I fear he's throwing his life away; is this what the Mithril Knights demands of its members? Somehow, this doesn't seem right to me.

I am angry on your behalf, mostly, but saddened, too. Were Dirk here right now, I'll give him a piece of my mind. I hate to think what Lys would give him; a right cross, most likely. But would my words, or Lys' fist, get through to him? I do not know. Dirk was always a man of his own mind; a fact made evident while with the Bowmen in the East. I lose track of the times Dirk would disobey an order, follow his own mind - and yes, oft times his plans and ideas worked but sometimes not, much to the Mistress and Master Archer's consternation. Fearless, reckless, sometimes heedless was he; yet loyal, heroic, daring. I never thought of him as idealistic, but I see that now. It was this quote you included, when he wrote:

"I have come to realize, that in order to find what it is that I am to do for Middle-earth, I cannot live in fear of losing home, family, or love."

Can he not see there are many who devote their lives to the preserving of Middle Earth; that he is just one of many? Why must he regard himself as being so alone? I simply do not understand.

I blame the stories he's been fed of his parentage and 'inheritance'. I know I've confided this to you in the past but I needs must say it again; I've never held much creedance to it all, despite his actions and behaviours. I have long feared he's been used, like a pawn, mislead and exploited. Perhaps I am the one who is mislead; mislead by my own firm disbelief but I find it all so black. Perhaps too black. When I reflect on your kind heart and your deep, abiding love for him - isn't that proof of his worth and goodness? How else could someone with as pure heart as yours be drawn to someone unless, they too, have a like heart.

I hope he soon realizes his mistake and writes you another letter, one that refutes all that he has written, one that begs you for forgiveness and pleads for you to return to his life and love. I sincerely do, because my friend, you deserve no less. Know that you have friends in us who care deeply for you; I hope you find solace and comfort with your family and your music.

Lys sends his best regards and tells me your brother is in good health, often deep in his cups, but in good health. The weather here is dreadful; cold, damp. Our rooms are never warm. And I yearn for trees; tall, deep rooted, pine or leaf, I do not care which. I've been promised a trip north to the edge of the Fangorn come spring and I most assuredly shall go alone, if need be. Despite your assurances, Leoba, I do not know if the White City can ever become my home.

Write me soon; your letters with stories of your family cheer me; especially the children!

B

PS - No word regards the pardon, yet. More documentation has been requested from the Dale court. My hope is stronger on some days than others. The High King is just, Lys reminds me. I will let you know anything and everything as soon as I know.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:41 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 27 Súlìmë IV4

I have calmed down. Thank you for your concern. I’m afraid I can’t really tell you if Leoba is much better. She has a steely look in her eyes at the moment but they are veiled and hard to read. Fair to say perhaps that she is bearing up.

Distraction is the key. She’s been helping me a great deal with the children, which has been a tremendous aid to me as with only a month to go now I am struggling to keep up. Carandil has promised me a nursemaid to assist with the baby when he or she comes, which with two under one year of age I will certainly need. Leoba took the three eldest out the day before yesterday to watch the new year celebrations down on the waterfront. There was a big parade right through the city centre, with the whole panoply of merchants guilds turned out in bright array, with decorated carts and stilt-walkers and acrobats. They even had an Oliphaunt amongst them, as a result of which I’ve had a troupe of children stomping around swinging their ‘trunks’ all morning. From our roof garden we could see the fireworks being sent up from boats in the middle of the river. I think they get better and better every year.

It’s a good thing that you asked about Turaglar. I have seen him but Leoba has thus far conspired to avoid him since she heard from Dirk. It’s a terribly difficult situation and I feel the most awful guilt (really I do) because he is utterly infatuated with her. What have I done?! He’s fairly persistent. He’s invited her out to dine with him, has bought a pair of tickets to a music recital and he confessed to me over coffee only the other day that he’s been brought so low as to be churning out love poetry.

I really don’t want to read Leoba the riot act. She has suffered enough. But as you and I know, Dirk has given her his blessing to marry someone else and hopefully raise a family. A stable and fruitful marriage is all we, her family, wish for her too, so it is very difficult to sit by and bite my tongue when there is a lovely gentleman right here who I know will treat her with the utmost respect and adoration and care properly for her to the end of his days. He may not set her world alight, but marriage is not all about the gratification of lust.

So, I think it’s time to notch Operation Matchmaker up a gear. I’m going to have to guilt-trip Leoba into spending time with Turaglar, in hopes that she can start to see what I see.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:42 pm

Letter from Leoba to Dirk (never sent)

Pelargir, Víressë

My dear love,

It has been too long since I last held you close. I miss you most dreadfully and no amount of southern sunshine can compare with the warmth of your body wrapped around mine.

Your letter worried me. Because I know that you are suffering and wish that I could be there to look after you, to protect you through the nightmares and stroke all the fears away. I cannot believe for a moment that you are as wholly black as you fear. Whilst you are yet capable of loving me – and I see no denial of that truth – there remains good in your soul and whilst you are loved, always hope. Please think of me when times are dark and remember that I will keep on loving you until the very ends of time.

I am well. I know you would want to know. And I am safe here with my brother’s family in Pelargir. The most fearsome thing that happens in this city these days is blocked drains though, believe me, that can be pretty scary stuff! I am well employed helping with the veritable army of small children that my sister in law has produced. I have of course told them tall tales of my brave and handsome knight errant. The girls wanted me to draw them a picture but I am a lousy artist (although the image of you in my mind’s eye is as fresh as ever), so they have had to settle for stories and songs.

I know that you understand how vital the ties to family are and I am so pleased you have managed to spend time with your father and foster brothers (oh how, when I read that, I wished that you had sent me to stay with them after all, as we once deliberated).

I shall send this via the Mithril Knights’ Greenwood Guildhouse in hopes that there is someone there who can speed my letter on its way to you, wherever you may be.

Keep yourself safe, Dirk, and come home to me soonest. Until we meet again: may the Valar have you in their keeping and reunite us before many more moons have waxed and waned.



Letter from Leoba to Bardhwyn

Pelargir, 2 Víressë

Dearest B

You can have no idea quite how much your letter has heartened me, to know that I have one friend in this world who doesn’t simply think me an utter fool for loving him. As you must imagine, I have worn myself ragged over the past weeks, pouring over Dirk’s letter until it has become dog-eared, trying as you say to understand what his thinking is. I am truthfully no closer than I was before. Yet you are right: there is much good in him. The boy with whom I first fell in love has never been entirely submerged.

I have started and stopped writing so many replies to Dirk, because there is nothing that I can craft with pen and ink that could possibly make him change his mind. If I saw him I know that he would melt and, believe me, I have been sorely tempted to saddle up my horse and set off for the north, if I thought I had a hope of finding him and being allowed to see him. But even if I begged and used all my wiles to drag him back south with me (and I truly believe I could do it) I know that in time he would come to resent me for it. He is not one to be tied down.

Yet I am holding fast to the knowledge that nowhere does Dirk deny our love. For some probably stupid and unfathomable reason he feels he ought to, but when it comes down to it he cannot actually say as much. On that glimmer of his love I hang all my hopes. His Mithril Knights can all be dammed to Mordor and back for all I care, so long as there is still a slim chance that I will see him again. I could not go on without that hope and so cling to it I must.

Thank you for the news of my brother Culanir. I am sorry that your accommodation in the City is so appalling. I myself have never had experience of warm rooms there in winter either but as Culanir has always been the one to find me lodgings I have always laid the blame firmly at his door. I think you probably get what you pay for.

I hope that you won’t entirely write off the south on the basis of what the Gondorian military has to offer. Maybe when you have your pardon (and I have every faith that it will happen) you will be free to make a visit here and maybe I will be in a better situation to host you by then. I can promise you trees; not the lush oak, ash and beech forests of the north, but we have plentiful olives, figs, laurel and pines and in the centre of the city, an elegant park which provides delicious shade in the heat of mid-summer (which isn’t so very far around the corner now). It is different but nonetheless beautiful.

Ah, family.. I am blessed to have them, truly I am, but 6 months is a long time to spend with one’s relatives! My brother Carandil is forever complaining that the winter chills make the stump of his missing arm ache; if he had ever experienced the true cold of the north I think he would harp on about it less. As for Serindë, she is such a sweetheart and a willing listening ear in so far as I am prepared to share intimate details with her, but she thinks I should count myself well rid of Dirk and find myself a husband here and now, which has made me feel very alone. As you might imagine, I find myself walking something of a tightrope as a result: to offend her would make my living here untenable but to prove faithless to Dirk is unthinkable.

At least the children are keeping me sane although the noise and the chaos here has to be experienced to be believed. I am pleased that the thought of them cheers you as well. Last week, Míriel, (Serindë and Carandil’s 7 year old – I don’t expect anyone outside the family to keep the names and ages of their brood straight) set a mouse loose in the house. She had lured it into a cage in the garden in the name of scientific experiment and then brought it into the girls’ bedroom to prod it and poke it, whereupon it escaped. Cook found it in the larder, perched brazenly on the cheese shelf, washing its little whiskers. She screamed the house down. When we found her, she was a gibbering wreck stood on top of a stool, with her skirts held high, flashing fleshy white ankles that hadn’t seen the sun in the best part of forty five years. Poor Carandil didn’t know where to look, and he’s not a squeamish man. The mouse of course was long gone by that point and cook has since found droppings by the door. We are still waiting for one of the cats to earn their keep and catch the thing.

It’s never dull here and I am always kept busy. I honestly think that at the moment that’s the best thing for me.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:43 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 14 Víressë IV4

We may have had a little glimmer of a breakthrough here. I managed to persuade Leoba to help make up a party for a Spring picnic. She was full of excuses about the embroidery project she has taken up in recent weeks, but I pleaded the discomfort of late pregnancy and begged her to partner Carandil in my place, as it’s always more pleasant to have an equal balance of the sexes at these things. Of course, unbeknown to her, Turaglar was of the party; the purveyor of some very fine wines, if the state of Carandil by the end of the day is any measure of them. According to my husband, Turaglar managed to corner Leoba away from the others for some time. They wandered off down the river, absorbed deep in conversation. If only I could have been a fly on the wall: if I had been there I could have conjectured plenty of possible conversation topics from body language alone.

I have been dropping hints to her ever since and singing Turaglar’s praises at every opportunity and making it pretty darned clear that this is what her family wants for her. I don’t think all my words have fallen on stony ground either. They have been seeing more of each other once again in the past week. Our merchant has been here to dinner twice (since Leoba no longer raised any objections) and the children tell me that they saw the pair of them walking in the public gardens.

And moreover – I have been saving the best until last – Turaglar has popped the question again. He is nothing if not determined. On this occasion, Leoba has said she cannot give an answer right now. So watch this space!
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:55 pm

Letter from Bardhwyn to Leoba

26 Víressë

Minas Tirith

Dearest Leoba,


I do not know with whom I am most cross! At Lys for forgetting to pass your letter onto me (two weeks it sat on his desk at the Guard offices!) or with you!

Yes, you! But do not fear, my friend, I shan't be angry at you for long. I shall quickly forgive you if, and I stipulate - IF you write me quickly and tell me all about this new suitor of yours. How have I learned? Clearly not from your last letter of 2 Víressë! But from your brother! I have heard but not enough.

'She's got one hanging on her skirts, so I'm told. Name's Turaglar - he's asked for her hand more than once, but she's stringing him along.'

Such is Culanir's way with words; brusque and concise but, by the Gods, I know he doesn't lie. You've been proposed to? And this is the first I learn of it? Why haven't you written me of this? I needs must know more!

2 Lotesse

Ah, how my life becomes so full of doing absolutely nothing. It is my turn to beg your forgiveness; I began this letter six days ago then put it aside (though for good reason - Lys and I finally took that long, promised trip to the Fangorn. TREES, Leoba, tall and lush! ) and now, reading my opening paragraph, I am able to answer my own question. Oh, what came over me?!

I can well understand why you haven't written me of this - it is plain to me now; it's so inappropriate - this man's attentions are unwanted by you - that's why you haven't told me. Why should you? They are inconsequential! You still hope for Dirk to have a change of heart, do you not? And why shouldn't you? You love him. And I am sure he still loves you.

Where there is love, there is hope.

And I can full well imagine your family is looking on with pleased anticipation that this fine gentleman ( and I say 'fine' because, for some reason, Culanir is well versed on this man's estate and has told all; one would think he's done an investigation of him!) that he will be the cure for your sadness - and you are, I know it; I can read it between the lines of your letter.

Oh, I am sure you've done all you can to 'stand tall' and keep your expression calm and and carry on, but - oh Leoba, I shall be worried now, concerned that you have no one there to confide in! Come back to Minas Tirith - come back where you can be with friends who want nothing more for you than what you wish for yourself, be it quiet solitude or riotous fun (which, as you know, can be supplied in spades courtesy of the Dale Contingent of the Tower Guard).

Perhaps I am being too harsh on your family; I simply recall how fevered a family can become when matrimony is sniffed in the air. People lose their heads; it's quite bizarre. I even succumbed! It all devolves into flowers, dresses and dish patterns. Dreadful! I prefer the old ways; a simple handfasting with a cord of hemp and a meal shared with close friends and family. And no, Lys and I haven't - not yet. It can wait until the pardon is finalized and I'm able to once again walk freely in the streets of my beloved Dale with Lys at my side. Such is the dream that fees my soul.

So consider my words; come back to Minas Tirith, my friend.

What more can I write? I was asked by Lys to instruct three of his more difficult Guardsmen who are not naturally disposed to the use of a bow. Why they were placed in an archery contingent is a mystery! With out a basic level of proficiency they risk being assigned as foot soldiers to the borders of the Morannon; a dire fate. And Lys tries to look after each and every one of his men.

The trio are making progress and they can now knock an arrow, release it and hit a target - but only on occasion. I've learned to clear the lanes to either side when they're practicing.Despite the name of Lys' contingent, there are very few men from Dale therein (thank goodness). Their training is of Dale; that's what matters. And you should see them, Leoba, when they're on duty, standing guard on the city walls; standing tall with their long bows of Barding make, yew wood, of course, highly polished - and at Lys's insistence, they all wear a flash of blue on their arms, in honor of the King of Dale (HRH is financing the contingent, after all - at the High King's 'request') and the flag of Dale is flown from the Citadel; but all the royal contingents have this honor - Rohan, Dol Amroth. I wouldn't be surprised if they soon followed suit, and like Dale, began wearing their colors on their arms as well.

I am curious, did the mouse return?

4 Lotesse

I have been remiss; I must post this to you today. My apologies - In truth, Lys and I have argued and he's chosen to stay at the barracks for a few days. It's about the pardon - I'm frustrated, anxious and solely reliant on him to see this through and he is trying, so he claims, but his duties demand his time and he accuses the clerics and scribes of foot dragging and procrastination. To them it is just another official document; they do not understand it is my life, that my future is in their hands. I shan't bore you. Keep me and Lys in your thoughts.

Be well and write soon,

With much love, B
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:00 pm

Letter to SilverScribe from Bardhwyn

27 Viresse

Minas Tirith

My friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. I hope this letter simply finds you. I have no recourse but to mail it to the Royal Bowmen's Guildhouse in Dale with the hopes that someday you'll arrive there, tired and thirsty, and one of the dutiful Dwarves entrusted with Guild's upkeep will present this to you. Or perhaps the Lady Canamarth will keep it safe, but she has other duties and responsibilities now; Lys tells me the Guild has been entrusted with the training of a new generation of Barding archers. I am sure, under her guidance, they will become a formidable force.

I suppose I could send this letter to Rivendell, where, if I recall, you have a fondness for the ancient libraries there but that daunts me. The Guildhouse is more of a home to my thinking than anywhere, so there I shall send it.

I am, as you know, in Minas Tirith - still - living and waiting for my past to be wiped clean. All around me there is stone, stone and more stone. Last week Lys and I took a long anticipated trip to the edge of Fangorn and I have never seen such glorious trees. Green, tall, dense and so alive. The people of the White City plant their little trees in pots and so, too, do I feel like a little tree in a pot.

But this is how it must be for the near and foreseeable future while Lysandros executes his duties and responsibilities to the King of Dale and the High King; he serves two masters. It sometimes take a toll. I could write more but such stories are best told in person. And I do hope we meet again; I miss your conversation. Though, not your coffee, it has to be said.

I keep myself busy with archery practice, a bit of archery instruction, knife throwing practice (indoors mostly but occasionally outside, wearing breeches! Women just don't 'do' that sort of thing down here) . I don't get near enough blade practice - it would be too conspicuous, Lys tells me, and I agree, albeit reluctantly. Oh, and of course, I play the role of 'dutiful wife' and cook, clean, launder, shop... it passes the time. Convinced? No, neither am I.

And what of the Master Archer? He's well and enjoying his post; Master Archer of the Royal Bowmen of Dale and Captain of the Dale Contingent of the Tower Guard - I can see your eyes rolling - and yes, he's quite busy. It is a source of tension for me - not that I am jealous of him or envious, its just that he has little time to pursue the matter of my pardon. He's been entrusted with securing its approval and, apparently, has met no end of obstacles in doing so. The Royal Scriveners and Clerks to the High King are a most scrupulous lot and insist, he tells me, of ensuring every legal and official requirement is thoroughly checked, verified, recorded and I know of two instances when documentation was sent back to Dale for the King of Dale's Scriveners to validate - with a royal seal. And I hear tell it is more and more difficult for royal messengers to travel between Gondor and Rhovannion unmolested; brigands and bandits target the roadways northward of late. Though with that long sword of yours, no one shall be bothering you. Do you still carry that lovely, long thin blade up your sleeve? I must see if I can find something similar here.

I wonder, in your travels, have you learned anything of Thenie? Whenever I meet Rohirrim - which is seldom - I describe her but I've yet to meet anyone who knows of her. Once I did meet a Rider of Rohan who knew Menon, though I can't say the recollection was a fond one. I am to tell Menon the next time I see him his mother was dog and that he still owes Halmen of the Westfold 65 coins! I fear Halmen will never see his money.

Oh, I should mention that Dirk has broken his troth with Leoba; he's joined the Mithril Knights - perhaps you know this - and after the confusion and pain around his parentage ( and the short spell of madness that followed ) it seems he's decided he must devote himself to the protection of Middle Earth and has become chaste? If not chaste, fully and wholly committed to the Knighthood. This, of course, means he must choose a life without love, a life without Leoba.

She is deeply, deeply saddened, of course, but staying with family in Pelargir; I hope they are some comfort to her. I miss her. I miss you - though I know what you would do were you to hear such a thing: your eyes would narrow, as if in disbelief and you'd shake your head slightly in disapproval but I know you better than you think; I would see the faint glimmer of a smile in those cool eyes of yours - those eyes that miss nothing! And if we were playing cards, you'd then pull a face card from up your sleep and beat me, again. (I know you cheat!)

7 Lotesse

Such is my habit, I become distracted and I allow my letters sit for a few days, sometimes a week, before I finish them. Apologies, my friend. My distraction this time was Lys; his duties took him away for a quite a few days and he returned shortly after I began this letter. It has not been easy between us of late but after some discussion we've seen more clearly into each others hearts. I am more content now. I must be patient with 'the wheels of State' and trust that my service to the Crown of Dale will be acknowledged. Yes, I must be patient. All will be well, I am sure of it.

May the Stars for ever shine upon your face, my friend.


B
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:01 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

Pelargir, 5 Lótessë IV4

This missive must necessarily be short but very sweet.

I was safely delivered of another little boy a week ago. His name is Calmacil which is a bit of a mouthful for such a tiny scrap as he is, so it has already been shortened to simply ‘Calma’. He is nursing well and fattening up nicely. I also have the promised nursery maid at last so that I can dedicate myself to the newest arrival and not have to worry (too much) about the destruction being wrought by his siblings.

As for our sister, Leoba. Well, she has given me some hope. She has promised that she will give Turaglar a firm answer just as soon as she has finished her embroidery project: she has been co-opted by some of the local ladies to sew a part of their great needlework celebrating the deeds of our city founders and fore-fathers of Númenorë. I confess, I did worry that she had taken it on as an excuse to stay around the house more and avoid invitations out but Turaglar seems to see this as a positive sign, being not an outright rejection.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:27 am

Letter from Leoba to Bardhwyn

Pelargir, 18 Lotessë, IV4

My dear B

I honestly can’t think what is worse: that my own brother should be gossiping about me or that you, my dear friend, should even for a moment have heeded the gossip? To set the record totally straight, I am not ‘stringing along’ anyone. Nor am I deliberately keeping you entirely in the dark for I am certain I wrote that Serindë has been pressuring me to find myself a ‘nice’ (meaning Gondorian) husband.

Well, to set the record good and straight, yes I have been proposed to, more times than I care to count (quite frankly, the persistence has become acutely embarrassing), and never have I accepted an offer. But when I wrote to you last month about Dirk, nothing could have been further from my mind which I why I never went into details.

The important stuff first though. I know that Dirk loves me. He has told me so and shown me so a thousand times and when he wrote to me he told me so again – that he will always love me – just that he could not be with me. That is not, I am certain, any adverse reflection on the sincerity of the sentiment. There is ‘simply’ something outwith his control holding him back and I pray nightly for the barriers to melt away.

And indeed, where there is love, there is always hope. You always were mistress of the pertinent one-liner.

But by all the Valar, I would give up everything to be with him again. I think about him morning, noon and night. Half the time I can’t sleep and I lie in my bed staring out of the open window at the stars wondering if Dirk too is looking at those same stars and perhaps thinking of me – and B, I am so, so worn out – because I haven’t seen, or heard, or touched him since Urimë last, when we clung desperately to one another when we said farewell at the Great Gate. Nine months, two weeks and four long days ago.

But I am sorry my friend, you don’t need to hear all this again. Conversation with me would be a good cure for insomnia (if only I could get it to work on myself!).

I should be kind to you and try and satisfy your curiosity about my suitor; yes, his name is Turaglar. Culanir knows him well for he’s an old friend of our family. In short, he’s a decent match (my mother always liked him): he’s a merchant, well-bred and of good standing in the city, a perfect gentleman, financially very secure, not unkind on the eye, sensible and safe. He is a little portly and grey-bearded but then he does have thirty years on me – his two daughters from his first marriage are slightly older than I am. You may have even met the younger of the two, Gilwen, who is married to Tarcil of the city guard (he is posted to Culanir’s company).

So as should be apparent from that, the bottom line is that he wants sons and a decorative wife and my family want me to be well provided for.

If it was just my pushy family, I could cope with it, believe me, I’ve had years of practice. However, it’s all got a teensy bit complicated. Firstly, because Turgalar is actually rather good company (with a real talent for finding exciting stories and poems in junk shops) I started spending time with him to distract myself. This was, I hasten to add, not having a clue that there were machinations going on behind my back with regards to him. And, secondly, because he’s only gone and fallen in love (or lust?) with me (fatal mistake in any such arrangement) and then started acting like a love-sick youth. As I mentioned: it’s really quite excruciatingly embarrassing. He simply won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and I am getting to the point where I can’t see him go down on bended knee again! I have even been avoiding seeing him recently because, with my being in a bit of a mess over Dirk’s letter I don’t trust myself to be as gentle as I ought in my rejections.

Turaglar does know about Dirk by the way. I have made no secret of the fact that I am entirely spoken for. But again, as you say, where there is love there is hope. So, life here is a bit tricky but I am keeping both him and my sister-in-law at bay, in the gentlest possible ways.

I would dearly like to come back to Minas Tirith, at least for a visit. Perhaps it could be managed later in the year, if I am still waiting? I can’t come at present because Serindë has only just been delivered of her latest baby (the sixth boy no less). She needs me here, to help rein in the other seven children as much as anything. It is also rather nice, I must admit, to be able to coo over a newborn.

And there I go again, wondering what sort of mother I may make. Therein does lie madness because you know of whom I think.

I confess I am somewhat jealous of you and Lys. I know that you are sorely tried, but at least you are together. He is a good man – but you know this – and I know he cares very deeply for you.

As for the mouse. Oh, you’ll wish you’d never asked! The cat got the mouse and it was a brutal and bloody end. Míriel found the body. Her older brothers wanted to cut it up and examine it in detail (little boys can be so grim) but Míriel insisted that we hold a proper funeral ceremony. She borrowed the gardener’s trowel to dig a dusty grave and she stitched a miniature shroud. Then we all had to troop out into the garden and stand around solemnly whilst she read out an elegiac poem. It would have been very moving if it hadn’t been for vermin!

I should sign off and try and send this letter with the next convoy up river. May it find you safe and well and your pardon that bit closer to being finalised. I do know how bureaucratic the civil service can be so you have my utmost sympathy on that count. If there is aught good in Arda though, you will get your pardon. I feel sure of it.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:52 pm

30 Lotesse

Minas Tirith

Dearest Leoba,

Your letter was promptly delivered to me upon its arrival; in fact, Lys brought it to me during his mid-day break today. I do feel rather embarrassed and yes, you're quite correct; I am guilty of gossiping! I see now that it was my own misapplied desire for your happiness. Forgive me.



Up from the street below a loud clatter erupted; Bardhwyn paused and leaned back in her seat, craning to look out the room's open window to the avenue below. A two wheeled cart had collapsed, spilling the pile of fired clay pots from the cart's bed onto the cobble stoned street. The artisan could be heard bemoaning his fate while passers by attempted to help him, picking through and retrieving what wares they could. The residents of the second tier were, from her experience, good folk; simple, helpful, hard working, hard playing. 'Neither betwixt, nor between' was how they described themselves. Bardhwyn knew she could go anywhere along the tier, at any time, and be safe.

She turned back to the letter she was writing and picked up the quill. Dipping the shaven tip into the ink pot, she thought about what to write next. The tip of the quill hovered over the page. Her mind was blank.

What else could she say? She apologized for succumbing to Culanir's idle talk and that was as far as her mind could take her. Nothing had changed in her life since her last letter; she was still posing as Lys' wife, still living under an assumed name, still cooking, cleaning, training in secret and she was still waiting. The walls and tiers and battlements of the White City were still made of stone and spring was coming, once more; all she could see of its arrival were fancy and full flower boxes hanging from high windows and the arrival of the swifts. That was all. No meadow flowers, no dawn chorus, no flower orchards. Just clattering wooden wheels on rock, day and night.

The mouse had died, don't forget.

I am most grieved to learn of the passing of the most august Mr. Mouse. Your description of his funeral was very moving. And you made him a shroud! How touching.


Perhaps a pet? Yes, perhaps she and Lys should find a cat or perhaps a small dog? She knew that there were some on the higher tiers who kept brightly colored fish in clear glass bowls blown in Harad. They often died, but that didn't stop the Upper Tiers from simply buying more fish and dropping them into the same bowls. The notion of birds in cages was out of the question; the idea merely made Bardhwyn angry.

She carefully placed the quill into its stand just as a loud 'Huzzah' sounded from down below. The wheel of the broken cart had been refitted - a rather pleased wheel wright stood nearby - and the final errant pots were being carefully stacked by the small crowd of residents-cum-helpers. Bardhwyn smiled as she saw pots being dolled out by the rescued artisan, thank you gifts to the locals who stopped to help.

"Patience," she said to herself. "Be patient, Bea."

Taking down her knitted shawl from its hook, Bardhwyn wrapped it about her shoulders and headed for the door. Perhaps Kate was dawdling at the Shadow and Ring? If not, the landlord would be there, pint - or in her case, half-pint, at the ready with a saucy tale about one of the clientele. She could wait there until the men arrived, Lys and his officers, freshly off duty and then the songs would begin and the bragging would commence. Perhaps a punch or two thrown.

Bardhwyn turned to pull the door shut and spied the unfinished letter on the table. She'd get to it later, perhaps tomorrow. Perhaps then she'll have something of interest to write.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:06 pm

26 Nárië

Minas Tirith

Dearest Leoba,

I have exciting news, though not the best of news (my 'residency' status is still being addressed!) - I have secured a position as a sparring partner to a Rohirrim lady of some estate! It came about quite unexpectedly - and I will tell all - but I am so very pleased, Leoba! It is so good to be MOVING again; to feel the sweep and arc of my arm as it sweeps a blade, to step, slide and dodge. And my skills with long blade were languishing despite Lys' indulgence ( he would, when he had time and opportunity, ride out with me into the northwest corner of the Pelennor and we'd spar but those opportunities have been fewer and far between of late ). I am very pleased, indeed.

I shall describe how it came about - and upon reflection, once written, I daresay it will read like one of those fanciful tales you can buy at the bookstalls. Life is stranger than fiction, I've heard it said! Perhaps this is one occasion?

I was dallying at the Second Tier gate; I say dallying because I had absolutely nothing to do and on afternoons when time's jaws gape at me like a giant Haradrim striped cat, I wander down to the merchant stalls near the gate (carrying a water bucket, for one must keep up appearances), eat fruit, gossip with the merchants and other shoppers and watch the 'UT's' go by. The UT's are the Upper Tier dwellers - they wear lovely clothes, ride fine mounts, sit on beautifully crafted saddles, sit in handsomely made sedan chairs (carried by rather tired looking LT's - Lower Tier dwellers) and we idly pass comment on them as they ascend, on hourly parade up, to their homes, businesses and lives.

Occasionally we see the King and Queen pass (she is truly beautiful); I know for a fact the King is quite partial to raspberries. He always stops at a friend's fruit stall and purchases no less than three punnets on his ascent up. I've been there on two occasions to witness this and Larisse, my friend, a woman in her later years of life - why, she immediately transforms into a giggling girl of 16 when in the King's company. Its quite sweet. He has the most kindly eyes. But I digress...

One morning about ten days ago - yes, it was a the second day of the week - while passing the time at the Second Gate there happened to be a rather loud, let's say even surly, collection of youths congregating near by. They were truants, clearly, for it is still term time here. They were bragging and swaggering, as young 'men' do. There were no older than 14, actually, and they were UT's. What was even more disconcerting was they were armed.

There are no laws about walking about the City armed; one may - as you may know. There is an understanding, though, unspoken, unwritten, that one needn't. The Tower Guard do and rightly so as they are trained and have a duty to the City and its populace. The average citizen of Minas Tirith need not be armed, however, though knives and daggers are often carried in case there is a side of roast beef or an apple that must be eviscerated!

These young 'men' had decided on that day to flaunt the unwritten and unspoken rules and they had descended to the LT to have a bit of fun. This is common and we in the LTs watch these bands of 'young tourists' with a wary eye, particularly if they are young and male, and in truth we watch them for their sakes and their own safety - particularly if they head down to the first tier! It is a bit dicey down there.

This particular group were being watched, though, because they were being loud and careless. Oh, and they'd been drinking and it was only mid-day. 'Any excuse', as they say. Some jostling broke out, one youth tripped over a crate of Larisse's Southron squashes, and down he fell! Larisse, always kind and good natured, dashed over to help the youth, but he wasn't having it - being fussed over by an old woman. He barked and shouted, blamed her for leaving her 'stinking food' out in the street. Well, he made a terrible mistake; he pushed Larisse to the ground. The poor dear! Of course she cried out and grazed her arm but, thankfully that was all the harm that came to her. But it was Larisse. Our much loved Larisse.

As this was occurring, there was a clutch of Rohirrim riding up to the Gate, and they are quite resplendent when mounted with their gold and green livery - as you know. And, oh! Their helms and spears! I've never seen an ugly Rohirrim, do you know that? Never! If it weren't for this altercation, we'd be calling out cheers to these riders in Rohirric, to which they always reply!

They were quite ignored on this occasion, however, as all attention was now on the drama unfolding at Larissa's stall.

The youth with the wounded pride, and his arrogant mates, added further insult to injury by grouping together and laughing at poor Larisse where she lay. Carver went to her, he's the wood carver, and helped Larisse up while, stunned and shocked, too many just stood and gaped. Another dreadful mistake was made when the gang of youths threatened Carver as he helped Larissa up.The only thing that was immediately to hand was a besom broom. I picked it up and I put myself between Carver, Larisse and the 'little darlings'.

You can imagine what sort of response my action elicited. I've been called a lot of names, but these 'little darlings' were quite imaginative. 'Prune face' was one, 'Little Miss Cut-face', all the usual derogatory names for a woman. One offered to balance out my face and cut the other side; that offer made by the largest of the lot. I named him 'Lout' in my mind and he was the leader of this merry little band. He was a good two or three inches taller than me, wearing a neatly trimmed velvet doublet and fine hose and wore one of those fashionable, new blades at his waist, in fact they all did. Do you know them? I think they've come up from Pelargir. They're thin, quite resilient and double edged; more a weapon for nicking and stabbing than hacking and maiming but deadly if in the right hands.

While the 'little darlings' taunted, I took my own little knife I keep at my waist, and I cut the gut that secured the besom. In about two minutes I had nice little staff made of nice, hard ash. I prefer my weapons to have a sharpened edge but it sufficed. I took a few steps closer to Lout and pushed the end of the staff into his chest, shoving him back a step.

"Time to go home," I said, motioning the staff up at the gate. Lout, being a lout, just scoffed. Meanwhile the Rohirrim had reigned to a halt in front of the gate and far up I could hear the Guard's alarm bell ringing.

"And you're going to make me 'go home' ?" Lout asked.

"No," I replied. "I'm not going to make you go home. I'm going to break your head open with this staff. You will go home eventually, but you can choose: go home bleeding or go home not bleeding."

I then smiled sweetly and batted my eyelashes. It always works, that one; an agressive man can't help but think a woman is weak when they see a smile and a flutter. The Rohirrim overheard me and they laughed - not at me, at Lout. The Rohirrim could see I wasn't someone to trifle with; my stance, how I gripped the staff, my bearing. A trained fighter can see another trained fighter. But Lout, however, wasn't trained - oh, he may have studied with a fencing master from the UT but he wasn't a warrior. What he saw was a woman, in a frock, with a scar on her face and broom stick.

The Rohirrim's laughter, however, only emboldened the lad - he turned his head and laughed with them (idiot!) and of course I took advantage of the moment and raised the end of my staff so it was level with his nose when he turned back - which it was. And, of course, I poked him squarely on the nose - that surprised him and, of course, this elicited even more laughter from the Rohirrim.

Lout then understood the Rohirrim weren't on his side, nor were his friends! They all began to fall back, most likely realizing (a bit late) that all they wanted was a bit of fun, not a fight. Lout's face bloomed crimson red with anger (perhaps a bit of shame?). He made a grim face and freed his 'rapier', assuming his best fencing-student stance.

I was absolutely delighted, as no doubt you guessed. The crowd let out a gasp and there were a few merchants calling out to me: 'Beth, get a way from him!'

'Beth' might have, but Bardhwyn? No.

"Yes, Beth, perhaps you ought to get away," Lout hissed at me, "but not before I give you another scar on your face..." and then he lunged at me. It was decent lunge; his weight was well placed but his aim wasn't very good and his had poor control. I side stepped, blocked, and hit him on his arse.

Then it was my turn to taunt: "Your stance is adequate, young man but you're not connecting your waist and your upper body. You're losing momentum."

The expression on his face was priceless; a gawping 'how did you know?' sort of look.

"No doubt your instructor has said the same thing?" I asked. "You really should listen to him," I added. "Otherwise you're just wasting your father's money." That made Lout very angry.

He gritted his teeth and attacked again; I parried two more attacks in quick succession and on the third, managed to push his attack wide and I give him a solid crack on the head. Yes, he bled.

He staggered back and dropped his guard (silly boy) so I disarmed him quickly and, I think, broke his wrist. By this point all his friends had melted away into the crowd and the poor dear scuttled off in tears. I did tell him, he'd be going home, bleeding or no...

I offered to pay for the broom but Carver wouldn't hear of it. Larisse gave me more food than I could carry home.

It was the next day when a knock sounded on my door.

I opened to find a Rohirrim at the threshold, a letter in hand. "A message from my mistress," was all he said. It was an invitation to meet m'lady, as I call her; she learned of my prowess from the Rohirrim at the Second Gate and I was asked to bring my staff, or what ever weapons I felt capable, with for a sparring session the next afternoon.

She's married to a Gondorian, and like me has more time on her hands than she cares to. I go up to the Fifth Tier to spar with her in the garden of a lovely villa ( I enter from the rear gate, of course!) and she is very, very good though she's not at all partial to the bow - but, I don't hold it against her. We've sparred twice and she would like to arrange a twice weekly session 'for the sake of her health' she said. I agreed!

Lys isn't happy about it, though. He's concerned that I'll attract too much of the wrong sort of attention and then too many questions will be asked about 'how' I know what I know. And yes, I was asked by m'lady - she's no simpleton! I simply told m'lady that I was raised by my father and brothers and, while other women learned knitting and needle work, I learned archery and blade work.

She then said something interesting, something to the effect in Rohan women know they can die as readily on a sword as any man and each Rohirrim woman learns how to handle a blade. I immediately thought of Thenie and, yes, I can see now why I so easily find friendship with Rohirrim women. They're raised knowing a different sort of life, as was I.

By the Gods, look at the length of this letter! Proof that when I am happy, I am talkative - or prolific! I shall post this off today, as well - and not let all this good news just sit on my table.

Much love to you, my friend,

B
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:53 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

12 Nárië

Dear Morwen,

You make me long to visit you in Emyn Arnen. Your letters are woven with such colourful images of the court of Lord Faramir and fair Lady Eowyn. And to think that the Lady of Emyn Arnen now has a handsome son almost exactly the same age as my little sausage! Between just you and me though, what were they thinking calling him Elboron?!

Now tell me, are the rumours true, that there are now Elves settling in Ithilien. I never thought to live to hear of such wonders let alone to have hope of seeing them. Maybe when Calma is a little older and if I can avoid another baby too quickly I may take you up on your offer and visit. I want to see the famous woods and gardens now they are being restored.

Since you asked, it’s still looking reasonably good for our prospective love birds. Leoba hasn’t mentioned Dirk to me for weeks now. Although I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say she’s put that unfortunate episode entirely behind her as I have caught Míriel singing snatches of a song about brave warriors of Rhovanion (or the Ballad of Beautiful and Hot Dalers, as the boys term it!) and it doesn’t take a massive stretch of the imagination to work out who taught it to her.

S.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Leoba » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:55 pm

Letter from Serindë to Morwen

4 Cermië IV4

Oh dear, it is all unravelling here on the matchmaking front. I blame myself entirely: I have pushed Leoba too hard I fear.

I was up late the other night with the baby (he’s not the best one of mine for sleeping but ’tis early days yet). After a good two hours of pacing the boards in the upstairs corridor I was fit to drop, or to drop little Calmacil, who was by this time fast sleep but only if I continued to move. Now I know that Leoba is a poor sleeper. Ever since she arrived here, if I’ve been awake in the small hours, I have often heard her too. She sings sometimes (very softly, but if I’m awake I’m aware) and there’s a floorboard in her room that squeaks if she steps on it; sometimes too I sadly know that she weeps. So anyway, knowing how good she is with the little ones I thought to knock at her door and see if she would mind taking over from me for a little while as she has done on a few occasions before. Honestly, notwithstanding what I am about to write, she really has been a blessing from the Valar on this household. So I knocked ever so quietly before pushing the door open and what did I find?!

You will recall that embroidery she’s working on. I’m sure I mentioned it, because one time when I may have been nagging at her a little about Turaglar she snapped at me (right out of character) and said she would give him an answer to his latest proposal only when she had finished her part of the project. Maybe she told Turaglar the same, because to the best of my knowledge he’s not proposed again since Víressë.

Sorry, I am meandering from my point. I opened Leoba’s door and found her sitting at the embroidery frame, working by lantern light. At first I was really impressed, thinking she was maybe keen enough after all and simply playing hard to get. But as she turned around she looked so horrendously guilty that I knew straight away that something was amiss. She was only unpicking the threads! Almost all of that week’s work was in snipped pieces on the floor. What a waste of silk and moreover, what duplicity. It was abundantly clear to me in that instant that it wasn’t the first time she’d done it. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the baby I am sure I should have realised sooner that she was stalling for time – how long would she have kept it up – years?! And I couldn’t even shout at her, because I was holding Calmacil and didn’t dare wake him up.

We had very strong words in the morning, I can tell you. She seriously didn’t think she was doing anything amiss. In her own words: “I didn’t want him to keep putting himself through traumatic proposal scenes”. So what am I to tell Turaglar?

7 Cermië


At last I have a few moments to myself this morning to try and complete this letter. I am enjoying the rare treat of some peace and quiet. The baby is napping (fingers crossed it’s a long one), and Carandil and Leoba have taken all the other children on a treasure hunt around the botanical gardens. Hopefully they won’t lose any of them in the process. No really! It’s happened before because Rían is an absolute terror for just wandering off and attaching herself to any strange man she can find (always a man – she is such a little flirt – we can surmise, even at her tender age that she will need an early marriage).

After our blazing row, Leoba spent the rest of the day out of the house. Thorondir tells me she spent hours at the butts, sinking arrow after arrow deep into the straw. She’s been down there more and more in recent months; says that the practice helps focus her mind and find some inner calm. She’s not bad at it either. I reckon she’s in with a very good chance of bringing home a trophy if she can be persuaded to compete in the revels next month. Anyway, it must have done the trick because our sister certainly seemed very ‘zen’ when she returned at supper time. We had held the traditional moment’s silence and had just begun to eat when she apologised sincerely for shouting at me. One thing I adore about Leoba is not just that her anger is rare but that if it does erupt she never lets the sun set on it; as you and I know she would make a fantastic wife. But I am getting way ahead of myself! And I should note that she still hasn’t apologised for her delaying tactics. I fear I am on a hiding to nothing on that count.

Later, I spoke to Carandil about it and ‘suggested’ to him that it was about time he laid down the law with Leoba and, as her brother and patriarch that he should insist she accept the proposal. Well, goodness me, by the strength of his reaction, you’d have thought that I’d asked him to sacrifice our first born! He gave me a withering look and told me: “Woman! Have I not told you to stop meddling? If you had not encouraged Turaglar so excessively we would not be in this pickle and my sister would not be fretting herself ill. Not only over the man she’s infatuated with, but now also over a friend who has been drawn into your sticky web.” Naturally, I pointed out to my dear husband that he had not been so averse to the match at the outset. He says he’s still not averse but that he will not force anyone’s hand. If you could see me now, you would see much eye-rolling in exasperation.

I haven’t said anything to Turaglar about Leoba’s little game. I know he would be very upset, for he’s a gentle soul and I think he really does love her. By all accounts, he was upset enough when Leoba gave him another refusal. To be frank, she had no choice after I gave her an ultimatum: it was that or I would tell him and, thanks be to the Valar, she is a good woman and did so herself.

So we are back in the same rut as before, I fear. Turaglar has assured me that he will ask again because he cannot envisage a future without her (yes, I feel awful). Leoba is adamant that she will never agree (we shall see…) and has now suggested that in Yavannië she might make a trip north to Minas Tirith again to get some breathing space (I never can get used to calling it Minas Anor and can’t believe the new name will stick). However, I think we have had plenty of evidence that absence makes the heart grow fonder (would Leoba be so enamoured of her wild knight were they actually wedded and bedded I wonder?). So I will keep my cool, keep some distance and wait and see.

S.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:05 pm

21 Cermië - Minas Tirith


To her delight she was met with a breeze, just as she turned the corner into the servant’s alley. The sun was high and hot and beads of sweat sat heavily on her forehead, but Bardhwyn trotted the entire way, regardless. Today was a sparring day.

Her journey would take her to a delightful back garden of a spacious villa on the fifth tier where she and ‘M’lady’ would fight it out for a good few hours before they each dissolved into laughter and greedily drank and devoured some of the best food and ale Bardhwyn ever tasted. Good, solid Rohirrim fare, it was. Simple, unadulterated food she could taste and savor and not the rich, greasy food the Tirithians consumed with outrageous combinations of spices that would make your tongue burn with unnatural fire.

The sparring sessions with the Rohirrim woman had been the most enjoyment Bardhwyn had found in Minas Tirith for she was a formidable fighter and more than once Bardhwyn had found herself bested. Yet, she often won as well. Bardhwyn’s blade skills had returned – and improved – thanks to sparring with ‘M’lady’. The Rohirrim had mentioned a name once, but asked to be simply called by her honorific and Bardhwyn agreed; some simply did not wish to see the classes mix. It was not Bardhwyn’s place to argue – not any more and not when sparring was more important to her.

Bardhwyn shifted her pack from one shoulder to the next, in which, carefully wrapped, was her Barding battle-axe, a fighting ax similar to a dwarven axe but lighter, with a shorter handle, and a blunted sparring short sword with a wrought iron hand guard. ‘M’lady’ was to bring the shields and it was to be close combat today.

She turned the sharp corner that led to the villa’s back gate and halted abruptly.

There, before the gate, stood a liveried Rohirrim. He was leaning, lazily, holding his helm under one arm and gazing at the sky. The guard turned upon hearing Bardhwyn’s boots scuff to a stop.

“What’s going on?” Bardhwyn asked.

“Bethellys of Dale?” the Rohirrim asked.

“Yes, tis I, ” Bardhwyn replied, cautiously. “What’s happened? Is there something wrong with my lady?”

“My mistress is well, have no fear,” the Rohirrim replied, pulling himself upright onto his feet. Looking bored, he made to leave. “Your services are no longer required,” he added simply.

“What?”

“You heard me,” the guard repeated as he passed.

“Wait, please!” Bardhwyn pleaded. “What is the reason? Did I offend m’lady?”

“No,” the Rohirrim replied, over his shoulder. He kept walking.

“Did I beat her one-too-many times, then?” Bardhwyn barked, with her ire clear in her voice.

The Rohirrim spun on his heels and faced her.

“No, Barding, and I take offense at what you imply,” the Rohirrim replied.

“Apologies,” Bardhwyn answered, not really meaning it. “I deserve an explanation, at least. Do I not? Or were m’lady’s compliments to me all these weeks about my 'exemplary skills' just empty lies?”

“I should run you through where you stand, speaking about a daughter of kings in that way!”

“Daughter.. of kings?” Bardhwyn stuttered. “I don’t understand…”

There was a child’s cry of delight from the sparring garden. Bardhwyn stepped to a gap in the hedge and there saw a delightful family scene: an unfamiliar Gondorian woman held an infant and played with a toddler, telling the child to bring the ball to ‘Mummy’. A servant familiar to Bardhwyn came into view, addressed the woman as mistress and asked to take the infant from her. This was their home, not ‘m’lady’s’; she had taken over the home of strangers to spar in. It was all a pretense.

“I don’t understand…” Bardhwyn repeated, bewildered.

The Rohirrim pressed his lips thin with anger and took a few steps towards her and with a lowered voice spoke: “No, perhaps you don’t. She often rides far afield, disguised, so she may speak with good, common people as if one of their own. Princesses become lonely, too. It saddened my mistress, having to end this arrangement but she did so after learning more than she ought. She cannot be seen with you,” he then pointed at Bardhwyn’s face. “For that is not the only scar you bear, correct?”

Bardhwyn did her best to contain her shock as the man continued.

“Fear not, she bears you no ill will; you are safe enough behind your name but, if you ask me, Barding,” he leaned in even closer, his blue eyes now quite dark. “I’d leave this city. Take those ‘exemplary skills’ of yours and leave. Traitor.”

The Rohirrim then spat at her feet and left.

Dazed, Bardhwyn returned to the second tier, oblivious to the sun and all the activity around her and once back in their rooms, she found Lys not home but a full bottle of Barding whiskey, which she drank within an hour and after fell into a deep and dark sleep until the next morning.

Lys never returned home that night and Bardhwyn never asked why.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:01 pm

Urimë

While the battle rages northward, far to the south in the White City, friends and family wait for tidings...



There was nothing more oppressive than Urimë in Minas Tirith. The Shira Desert of the Great Eastern Expanse was delightfully pleasant, with its clean white sand and dry heat, when compared to the White City, limp in the mid-day sun with its stuffy, still, humid air. Bardhwyn knew this for fact; she'd spend many weeks in that desert and could still recall the taste of the scorched air and the smell of the lotion used to protect the skin from the sun as she travelled with Eastrons sympathetic to the West and keen on bringing down the tyrannical rulers who oppressed them...

But she was no longer in the East; she was no longer with the Royal Bowmen of Dale on a mission for the King of Dale. She now sat perched on a windowsill in modest rooms overlooking the second and first tier of Minas Tirith with the north-west corner of Pelennor spreading out before her. Far in the distance she could see the occasional flash of sun on polished steel from the North Gate; despite the heat the City hummed with activity as merchants and farmers goaded their teams of oxen and donkeys down the long road to the Great Gates. Being from the North, however, Bardhwyn found it impossible to do anything; it was her second summer in the south. She prayed it would be her last.

'Bethellys' was the name she took when she arrived; her mother's name and she lived as wife to Lysandros, Master Bowmen of Dale and, now, Master of Archery for the Tower Guard, Commander of the Dale Contingent, careful to conceal the truth of who she was. 'The scar?' she'd say, when anyone would ask what happened, what horrible accident marred the left side of her face ( which was a rare occurrence; Gondorians were so very polite). 'The Easterlings,' she'd lie. 'During the attack on Dale; it was so terrifying. And then there was the fire, I burned my arm terribly. It's ugly to see; I must keep it covered...I'm sorry, I'd rather not talk anymore about it.' And with that, the sympathetic nods would ensue and the questions would stop; the inhabitants of the White City knew such stories all too well.

The Master Archer also quietly pursued the delicate matter of Bardhwyn's pardon, for she was, still formally, and exile and traitor. The pardon was officially presented to the High King from the King of Dale by Lysandros' own hand, but, thanks to the demands of protocol and etiquette and the dictates of Middle Earth's most ancient and interminable civil service (that of Minas Tirith), the pardon's approval was stalled.

So, she waited and 'Bethellys' became known to the new 'Dale Company' of the Tower Guard as a sister to all ( or daughter for a few of the older members), a woman to reckon with and, and, on several occasions, an excellent instructor of archery and hand to hand combat.

The waiting was hard, however, and Bardhwyn - or 'Bethellys' - soon felt the stone of Minas Tirith become harder, colder and more confining with every passing day - despite the heat of summer.

A slight breeze eased in to the room, passing over her as she sat in the window; one of the rare wafts of cool air that dip down from the mountains behind Minas Tirith. Bardhwyn closed her eyes and did her best to imagine the view from the bedroom window she had as a child - the summer house, with the small river that meandered nearby and it's clear view of Erebor. The breezes were always cool that came down off the Lonely Mountain...

The door opened and Lysandros entered, sweating in his black woolen tunic. The mithril embroidered tree and stars flashed and glittered despite the damp patches of sweat. She groaned; she hated cleaning and pressing those damn tunics.

"Hello to you, too," Lys replied while hanging up his sword belt and weapon.

"No, it's just your tunic," she answered with a shameful smile. She slipped off the windowsill and stretched. "Hello. Welcome home. Here, let me launder this.." she asked, walking to him.

"No, no, I know how much you hate it. I'll take it to Guard laundries," Lys replied, peeling off the damp tunic. "You'd think they'd have a summer uniform," he added, his voice muffled as he struggled to pull himself free from his clothes.

"I don't think they'd part with the extra mithril," Bardhwyn said with a grin, helping him.

"I'll tell you a secret," Lys announced as he pulled his head free. "If you promise not to breathe a word of this to anyone, ever." He handed off the tunic and peeled off his cotton undershirt, leaving him shirtless; Bardhwyn returned her attention to what Lys was saying. Her mind had wandered - Lys had a way of making her mind wander when he was half-naked.

"What?" she asked, smiling. "What secret?"

"It's not pure mithril," Lys replied. "It's 5 parts silver, 4 parts nickel, one part mithril."

Bardhwyn pulled in her shocked expression. "It's not!"

Lys nodded and went to the wash basin. "It's true," he replied, splashing water onto his face and beard. He collected the bar of soap and worked up handful of lather. "Only the King's personal guard wear the solid mithril; they have to sign for their tunics at the beginning of a duty shift, sign it back in afterwards, at which point the tunic is carefully inspected before being locked securely in a treasury vault. Think about it; would you entrust some of the louts in my company with enough wealth on their backs to purchase a small free-hold in Rhovannion? I wouldn't."

Bardhwyn had to agree; there would be blank and threadbare tunics by the dozens, each carefully picked free of every spec of mithril and sold for drink and gambling debts - were it solid. She settled back and watched Lys finish his ablutions; he made, again, for a pleasant distraction.

"Any news," she asked quietly.

Lys snapped a towel free from a nearby hook and looked at her through the reflection in the mirror.

"Nothing since we received word the assault had begun." He tossed the towel back onto the hook and opened the bottom drawer to the wardrobe. Bardhwyn sighed heavily as Lys rifled through all the carefully folded clothing, jumbling them into a heap before finding the shirt of his choice; one made of light cotton in Dale blue. To her disappointment he pulled the shirt over his head.

"That was this morning, wasn't it?" she asked. Lys nodded but he looked perturbed.

"More news will come," she added, hoping to be of some assurance, but that was the most she could say. The attack on Carn Dum, the need for battle, it had come so quickly that no significant reinforcements could be gathered and dispatched from the White City - so much rested on the shoulders of the Mithril Knights; Minas Tirith seemed to be waiting, with held breath, as its fate was decided far away to the northeast.

"We'll see," Lys said flatly. "Culanir is all doom and gloom about it."

"He's doom and gloom about most everything, isn't he?" Bardhwyn asked playfully. "The Commander of the Pelagir Company of the Tower Guard is not known for his cheery disposition."

"He may not be cheery, but he's one of the best soldiers I've ever known and he's right; if they fail, if the Knights are defeated, we'll have a hell of a fight on our hands and it will come here. And we're not ready. The city is still rebuilding; the Great Gate is not fully repaired and won't be for the foreseeable future. Rohan is tired, the Elves number fewer and they're tired, as well. There is still a lot of grief. As for the Dwarves, they're all flocking to Erebor; too far away to be of immediate help..."

"The fight may go to them, and to Dale, before enemy eyes turn southwards," Bardhwyn quietly interrupted. Lys nodded in silent agreement.

"That's what I would do, anyway," Bardhwyn continued. "Why risk having an enemy force on your rear. Decimate Erebor and Dale and then move quickly south before the weather turns. A winter siege," she trailed off as her mind drifted into unpleasant notions of a freezing cold Minas Tirith, low on food.

"There will be no siege; don't forget there is a firedrake in play," Lys added grimly. "Archers! I've told them: You can't fight a dragon with a sword while standing on the ground!'

"The Knights are archers.."

"Not enough! Each Knight can use a bow, yes, but not just any archers - Barding archers! The best archers!" Lys cried, dropping into a chair next to the dining table. He dug and pulled at his beard; his usual habit when frustrated. He looked off into the distance, through the open window.

"It only takes one arrow," Bardhwyn said. "One archer."

"Yes, but there won't be any thrush on that battle field, not today," Lys grumbled. "He then dissolved into barely audible mumbles: "Mithril Knights... they're all glitter and flash... 'mithril'!"

Bardhwyn moved to the sideboard and poured Lys a cup of ale. She slid it across to him where he sat, still worrying his beard.

"They're keen warriors, and you know it," she said with a kindly chide. "They're brave, well trained, some have extraordinary skills, gifts from the Gods," she poured herself a cup. "Some say they don't even need words; they just know each others minds. Astounding. But, as you say Lys, they wear fine raiment, all very shiny and flashy. Tunics worked with mithril, or perhaps just a bit of mithril", she smiled faintly and poked a finger at Lys's Tower Guard tunic bundled on the table. "And the Mithril Knights have the High King's favor, much like another elite force I know of," at which she gave Lys' blond head a quick peck of a kiss. "No wonder our very own Dirk took to it, as he did?" She said before sipping her ale.

Sometimes, oft times, the subject of Dirk disconcerted the Master Archer but the worries of the day seemed to outweigh Lys' difficult relationship with his fellow Bowmen; Dirk was in the field and no doubt was on Lys' mind as much as her own.

Bardhwyn looked at Lys from the corner of her eye as she walked to the head of the table where, arrayed hilt upright, with points sunk deep into the oak table top, a selection of knives and daggers stood. She pulled a sleek, black bladed dagger with a handle of finely crafted oliphant ivory free and weighed it in her hand. Opposite from where she stood, over and across the table on the wall facing her were the signs of her intent: deep rents in the plaster. It was against that wall Bardhwyn practiced her knife throwing, or dagger throwing, sometimes her Easterling star throwing. She'd yet to get a hold of a pair of Haradim Shangos; large weapons with a multiple of curved blades that would bite no matter how it struck its target. Somehow she knew Lys would never allow her to practice indoors with those; they'd be nothing left of the wall.

"Now Dirk is a Barding archer, a 'real' archer, a Bowman of Dale." Bardhwyn said, taking careful aim at the small target made of straw that hung on the wall, haphazardly fashioned to resemble a human form. "Perhaps he will let loose the shaft that takes down ...'

Lys cut her off with a loud scoff. "He was Bowmen, yes...

"Once a Bowman, always a Bowman!" Bardhwyn interrupted, shaking the dagger's point at Lys.

He's a 'Mithril Knight' now. As for being an archer?" he asked, sceptically. " A passable one, perhaps.."

It was her turn to scoff. "He's an excellent archer, one of the best - better than you ever gave him credit for." She let the dagger fly - a straight throw; it sunk deep into the right arm of the straw man.

"As good as a Barrel-rider will ever get!" Lys exclaimed.

"Yes, he's a Barrel-rider straight from Laketown," she agreed, pulling free a single bladed hunting knife. She spun it in the air as she spoke, catching it deftly by the hilt: "But that 'Barrel-rider' saved your life and mine on more than one occasion," Bardhwyn retorted.

"What's for dinner, 'Bethellys'?" Lys asked.

"Don't change the subject," Bardhwyn retorted. She released the knife, a spinning throw this time; the left leg of the straw man was impaled with a dull 'thud'. She smiled, pleased with her efforts. "Well did he or didn't he?" she asked, looking over at Lys. "And its stew, again."

Lys gave a non-committal shrug and a grimace, most likely at both the mention of stew and the memory of Dirk's aid on those 'more than once' occasions. "All right, he's a Barrel-rider, AND saved our lives on more than one occasion AND he his the son of the Witch King of Angmar."

Bardhwyn groaned. "You know I've always found that whole story hard to believe."

"He did have a serious 'dark turn' after that disclosure: attacked the city, wreaked quite a bit of havoc, tried to steal Leoba, lost a finger. I was there, remember. You were, too," Lys said with a mischievous grin.

"We all have dark times," Bardhwyn replied. "Lost times..."

"You don't wear black any more. Why is that?" He asked.

"You know why; it doesn't suit my coloring," Bardhwyn replied with a deep blush. She pulled a short handled knife free from the collection in front of her; a throwing knife from Dol Amroth, gleaming silver and hilt-less. Once again she eyed the target on the wall.

"I liked it," Lys answered, arching an eyebrow.

"That I do remember," she said, flatly. "I do like these the best," she added, looking down at the Amrothian knife.

Lysandros took the hint and changed the subject. "Why would the King of the Greenwood make up a story about Dirk so dark, so vile then give the boy a ring a power if there wasn't some truth to it all?" Lys asked. "Why would he lie?"

"Why would Thranduil lie? Because it suits him, that's why," Bardhwyn answered. "I've met him, remember. He's... how do they say it in Pelargir? 'A piece of work.'"

"That's not an argument, that's an opinion."

"All right, Thranduil would lie and subject Dirk to all manner pain and suffering as a means to an end - to seriously disconcert someone else, the High King, perhaps?" The Amrothian knife flew, another spinning throw and the target's left leg was completely severed. She flashed a grin at Lys and continued: "Elessar, newly invested on his throne, a new power to contend with and how better to get the measure of him? And Thranduil had a ring of power! Did Lord Elrond, or the Lady Galadriel know this?"

"Have you met them, as well?" Lys asked skeptically.

"No," Bardhwyn replied, irked. "I met Thranduil when I was fifteen and my father distrusted him severely. Perhaps Thranduil needed to create a distraction - a mighty big one - while quietly, somewhere else, he's was up to his conniving tricks," Bardhwyn said. "As they say down south, 'a piece of work'." Quickly she snapped up a knife and threw it, with no weighing, no considered aim. The knife sunk neatly in between the straw man's legs and she laughed.

"The way your mind works, woman," Lys muttered. "I should take you up to the top-tier, sit you down with the King's Counselors; they may learn a think or two - or commit you."

"You never doubted the workings of my mind when in the East," she replied with a half smile. "I 'thought' us out of a few scrapes."

"True," Lys replied. "We were fortunate to find you."

Bardhwyn paused and looked closely at the Master Archer; was he ill? Fatigued? He rarely offered heartfelt sentiments easily. She watched as he finally took up his ale cup and raised it, as if saluting the Bowmen through the open window, so far away. "We, Can and I, were fortunate to have all of you; we couldn't have accomplished the mission, otherwise. Themedes, Maeglin, The Scribe, Jiyadan, Givi..."

"Menon, Zar Calech, Thenie, and of course, Dirk."

"Dirk," Lys repeated before taking a long pull from his cup.

Picking up another knife, Bardhwyn mimicked Dirk's deep voice: "Throw throooough the arm, Bardy. Let the knife fly from your hand as if it an arrow knocked at your shoulder..." She threw the knife, a straight throw, and it sunk cleanly into the torso of the straw man.

A dense cloud passed across the sun, momentarily blotting the light. The room was cast into an immediate and deep shade of grey; the straw man suddenly dropped from the wall, sliding free from the knives that impaled it, and fell into a heap on the tiled floor.

Bardhwyn shivered, despite the heat of the day. She looked to Lys, whose gaze was firmly set on the horizon outside the window, and his eyes were sad.

Unbeknownst to either, their friend had just fallen.

As the cloud passed and the room brightened, Bardhwyn wordlessly slipped onto Lys lap and threw her arms around his neck. He held her tightly, in turn, and together they looked out into the open sky, each feeling a deep melancholy neither could explain.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:02 am

In Minas Tirith, the battle has eased in the north and the news has come south…



The summons blew a second time: three short horn blasts followed by a long fourth that ended with a lift of a minor third. The call to all upper ranking Tower Guardsmen to the Officer’s Hall rang out over the tiers of the White City on a day that had grown overcast and dim.

Lys’ feet had just hit the stairs ascending to the Tower Guard command buildings when the second summons sounded and he pushed, leaping up two stairs at a time. Commanders and captains were all filing in, or up, or down, towards the hall, double time; a steady stream of silver and black with highly polished boots all stamping on the stone.

He caught Culanir’s flaming red head coming down a set of stairs leading out from the Officer’s mess.

“Do you think this is it?” Lys called out to him. The Gondorian paused, allowing the Master Bowman to catch up to him.

“Most likely,” Culanir replied. “Victory and celebration or defeat and bloody chaos. We’ll know soon enough.”

The summons pealed a third time; Lysandros and Culanir joined the press of men as they filed into the Officer’s Hall. The large, white stone vaulted ceiling looked grey in the feeble daylight and torches flamed in the sconces. Benches were filling haphazardly and Lysandros pressed his way to the front; he could see there were maps and he was damned if he wasn’t going to see the detail. Culanir grabbed at him, motioned to a few seats in the middle but the Master Bowmen shook his head and pointed to the front.

“Why always the front?” Culanir growled.

“I can see,” Lys replied.

“And be seen.”

“You look fine. You’re eyes aren’t very bloodshot, just a bit pink,” Lys replied, grinning at Culanir’s very blue reply.

The hall’s air soon turned stuffy, redolent with the smell of leather, sweat and Shireleaf and the last stragglers jogged in, at a loss for breath, just as the King’s High Commander entered.

Everyone stood at attention and allowed Commander Gwaenyc an opportunity to survey the assembly. He paced slowly across the dais with hands clasped behind his back, wearing a face that would curdle milk. With hair shorn short yet sporting a beard, he looked more like a rogue Corsair than the High Commander of the Tower Guard and the scar he took at the Battle on the Pelennor looked red and angry, tracing down the right side of this head, down his neck and ending, somewhere, under this Guardsman’s shirt and tunic.

Lys’ thoughts turned to Bardhwyn; he’d seen so many scars yet Bardhwyn’s, in comparison, seemed tempered somehow, as if upon seeing it your very eye lessened the damage. She did claim the healer who saved her was magical but of course, he never believed it. Perhaps the old Eastron woman was? Because, though scarred, Bardhwyn was still very comely and he would often watch as she turned men’s heads while she strolled down the alleys of the City. He’d feel a bit of pride knowing she came home to him.

If war came to the White City, he’d already decided she’d go south to Pelargir to stay with Leoba; he knew Bardhwyn would refuse to go…

The Staff of Rank slammed down onto the stone floor and the order to be seated was called out by the Lieutenant High Commander. The officer corps settled back onto the benches it was a few moments before the hall quieted down.

“I HAVE NEWS FROM THE NORTH!” Commander Gwaenyc bellowed.

The room quieted even still. The rumours had been flying all day: there were two dragons, not just one and cold drakes could suddenly fly. That the Mithril Knights were hopelessly outnumbered and the Greenwood Elves and the Dwarves of Erebor were rushing to their aid but they would arrive far, far too late to save them. Another rumour claimed the Men of Dale were feckless and their King would send no one. Lysandros threatened to break the man’s front teeth if he continued to spread that lie. The King of Dale would answer any call, Lys proclaimed, if the Mithril Knights were humble enough to make one.

High Commander Gwaenyc stopped and stood central to the men, crossing his thick arms over his chest.

“Yet again the Great Eagles have bestowed the gift of friendship and service to the High King,” the High Commander bellowed. “One has flown down from the cold, northernmost heights of the Misty Mountains to deliver the High King much desired news about our comrades-in-arms fighting for our King and the lands of Middle Earth so very far to the north…”

“Get to it, you blow hard.” Culanir murmured.

“King Elessar has asked me to inform you…” Gwaenyc’s voice trailed off and his head dropped. The room took a collective intake of breath. A brave soul shouted from the back: ‘No! In Eru’s name!’ and Culanir groaned.

Lys could then see a smile break out on the old man’s face. Gwaenyc’s head flew back and he cried: “WE HAVE VICTORY!”
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:04 am

Cheers and cries erupted, filling the hall with a joyous cacophony that, no doubt, could be heard as far as the first tier. The Tower Bells began to peal throughout the city and trumpets blew. The sharp ringing of hand bells could be heard as the Tier Cryers began shouting the news:

The dragon is dead!

Cries and shouts emanated from the barracks of the enlisted ranks like an echo, adding to the collective joy – and relief.

High Commander Gwaenyc was smiling broadly now, pleased as anyone to be relieved of the burden of yet another long war, one that would have come too soon on the heels of the last. He raised his arms and called out but none of his officers were paying attention. With a motion to the Lt. High Commander the Staff of Rank was drummed against the stone floor, beating the men down from their elation.

“QUIET! Quiet now! We have victory but not a clean one!” Gwaenyc called out. “When has any victory been clean? None that I can recall. Still, a messy victory is far preferable to the alternative.”

A roll of laughter rippled through in the hall but Lysandros failed to see the humor. There would be a call to arms, obviously. The fighting wasn’t over yet. There would be blood, pain and loss, regardless of the heroic deeds done far to the north – this is what they were being prepared to hear. Lys glanced over to Culanir who, by his stony and grim expression, was clearly thinking the same.

“Orcs, goblins, servants of the Dark, they’re still up there; agitated, smarting with defeat. Some wanting revenge, some just running. Some will mobilize; we cannot allow that,” Gwaenyc paused as a well heeled member of the King’s personal guard approached him on the dais; the Guardsmen handed a small note to the High Commander and promptly left.

The officers took the opportunity to begin talking and the chatter and noise rose as Gwaenyc read. The High Commander raised an arm, the Staff rapped again and as the hall came into order, Gwaenyc’s eyes fell on Lysandros for a singular, heavy moment before pocketing the note. Lys felt a nudge in his ribs and heard Culanir whisper: “What was that?”

“I don’t know,” Lys murmured. He felt a rising dread, however.

The Staff rapped a second time and the room fell into silence. Gwaenyc stood silently for another moment or two before he cleared his throat noisily and lifted his shaved head. He straightened his back, and began to speak:

“We cannot allow the servants of the Dark any further opportunity to hold our sweethearts and wives, our sons and daughters, our parents and family – our very lives and our future - in thrall any longer! The valiant deeds of the King’s Mithril Knights have paved the way for the men-at-arms of all the principalities and cities under the One King, for all the swords of the First Born and the all axes of the Sons of Durin to finish what we started at the Gates of the Morannon! And finish it, we shall!”

The cry that rose from the throats of the officers was near deafening. Gwaenyc carried on shouting over the jubilation:

“And we shall mobilise ourselves, because they cannot be allowed to! And we will march north and do what has to be done to finish what we started!”

So it began.

Lysandros sighed heavily. The Dale Contingent would go, most definitely; they were the Archers and Archers always marched. The officer standing to his right jostled him merrily: Sellem, the officer in command of the Eriador Contingent. The man cheered and laughed and Lys smiled, nodded and noted to himself that Sellem wouldn’t be going anywhere because his company was appalling. They’d be left to man the Pelennor gates and man them well and with honor. And Bardhwyn. She’ll be here, alone and her pardon will be put aside, again, as more urgent civil matters take the fore.

He turned to Culanir, on his left. The Gondorian, though quiet, wore a satisfied look of someone who finally had something to do that was worth while.

“’Bout time,” Culanir said. “We’ve should’ve been up there a year ago. We’ll finish it and clean up after those dandies.”

“We’ll lose men,” Lys replied, flatly.

“I know,” Culanir replied. “I’ve got five that need to stay here, fathers, all of them. Brand new, too.”

“Me as well, three. Sellem,” Lys said, giving Culanir a knowing look.

“Sellem!” Culanir barked. The Eradorian leaned over, still smiling.

“I may be able to do you a few favors,” Culanir said with a wink. “I need some new blood in my ranks, got my eye on some new recruits fresh up from the Anduin basin, and you, no doubt, need some good men.”
“Always!” Sellem replied. He’s brow furrowed. “Are they problems?”
“No! Good family men, every one of them. Solid, reliable. I’ll give you a list of names for transfer.”

Sellem, good-natured and guileless, nodded his thanks and was even more grateful when Lys offered three more. The men being transferred may not be as pleased but they’ll hold their children at night, Lys reflected.

The Staff of Rank clattered once again on the flagstone and the officers, now fired with duty and honor, fell into silence and watched Gwaenyc expectantly, waiting for more inspiration.

“Victory never comes without cost,” Gwaenyc said heavily.

The energy of the room ebbed slightly. Lys could not look anywhere but at the High Commander, who, once again, looked directly at him.

“We know that to take up the life of the sword, or bow, is to accept that the ultimate sacrifice may be asked of us,” Gwaenyc said. "We have suffered losses in this fight."

The High Commander paused and waited for the murmuring to cease.

"It saddens me to report that the Knight Errant, Dirk of Esgaroth, made the ultimate sacrifice for their King and for Middle Earth.”

Once again the High Commander’s eyes fell on Lysandros and the Master Archer finally understood.


Dirk was dead.
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:06 am

The hall erupted into a roar of chatter and talk as the officers of the Guard asked one another if they knew the Knight, and the manner of his death. Was it noble? Did he die with his swords in his hands?

The High Commander was forced to bring the hall to order once more.

“Dirk of Esgaroth very valiantly and unselfishly entered the dragon’s lair and, alone, attacked the beast depriving him of his fire,” Gwaenyc continued. “It was, by all accounts, a suicide mission, yet his actions ensured his fellow Knights would live and ultimately be victorious in slaying the fell beast.”

A solemn hush fell over the hall.

“There is one among us who served Dirk of Esgaroth,” Gwaenyc said, motioning to Lysandros. “He was a Royal Bowman of Dale before he joined the Knights Mithril, isn’t that so, Master Archer? Would you like to come forward and say a few words?”

It took Lys a moment to understand he’d been called forward; something he was not expecting. Culanir sidestepped, making way for him, and he staggered out into the main aisle and onto the dais.

“High Commander,” he managed, nodding at Gwaenyc.

“I can understand if this sudden for you, Master Archer,” Gwaenyc said in a low voice.

“Yes, it is,” Lys replied. “It’s completely unexpected. He would be the last person I’d expect…”

“Please, to the men,” Gwaenyc interrupted, motioning to the hall.

Lysandros turned to the assembly, took a deep breath and drew himself up.

“Dirk of Esgaroth would be the last person I’d expect to die in battle; he was one of the most skilled warriors I’ve ever had the honour of knowing, of fighting along side …” Lysandros stopped short of saying ‘ and of fighting against.’

“He was the consummate warrior. He understood duty and was driven to uphold honor. Learning he sacrificed himself for the sake of his comrades – that doesn’t come as a surprise. I can think of several occasions when he put himself in harm’s way for the sake of his fellow Bowmen. He is the reason we have this victory today, that is clear to me but his greatest victory - the victory he should be remembered for - was the victory he won over himself. May Eru embrace him,” Lysandros added. “He’s at rest, finally.”
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:08 am

Lys stepped off the dais, unaware the High Commander was thanking him and oblivious to the rumble of chatter around him. He re-joined Culanir, who was looking pale.

“Leoba,” Culanir said in a low voice. “I have to get to her, tell her,”

“There is no way…we’re mobilising,” Lys blurted.

“I MUST,” Culanir barked.

The Staff rapped away, calling for order and the remaining thirty minutes of the assembly comprised of mobilization orders and directives. The Eriador Contingent would remain in Minas Tirith and provide defence and protection to the King and populace – meaning, they’d man the gates and patrol for pickpockets while the King’s Personal Guard did the real protecting. The Dale, Pelargir and Rohan contingent will go north and engage with the remnants of the force broken by the Mithril Knights while Dol Amroth will maintain their duties in Gondor and in Mordor and the lesser squads and companies would be informed later if they were to be temporarily reassigned to the larger contingents.

“You have to help me,” Culanir said, holding Lys by the arm while the other men dispersed.

“Help you? Help you what?”

“I need to get to Pelargir, I can take the official proclamations…”

“You’re serious?” Lysandros asked.

“She will be devastated and my brother, his wife; they’re not at all sympathetic towards their relationship,” Culanir explained.

“What relationship? He broke it off...”

“I know but she hasn’t,” Culanir said, shaking his head. “She’s as devoted as she ever was and lives in hope he’ll come to his senses, return to her. That won’t happen now.”

“No, no it won’t. She’ll have to let him go, now,” Lysandros said quietly.

Culanir nodded while eyeing the dais. On it stood the High Commander, his Lieutenant and the commander of the Rohan Contingent, who was motioning them to come up.

“Come on, Barding,” Culanir said, waving back. “Let’s hear what further orders there are and then I’ll approach the HC. If there is a will there’s a way, and if the need is true, the Gods provide.”
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:08 am

Lys kept one eye on Culanir while the small mobilisation briefing dragged on; the Gondorian’s concern for his sister played on the edge of the man’s eyes, yet Lys knew Culanir wasn’t missing a thing.
Provision assignments, supplies, departure times; everything had been planned and considered. Lys and Culanir mentioned their need for additional recruits and a runner was dispatched from the room immediately with their requirements.

Ten thousand arrows would be taken out of store, and every man in Lys’ contingent would be given two extra bowstrings, an archer’s long knife and an extra measure of mead to be used in a toast to the life of Dirk of Esgaroth, Mithril Knight and Bowman of Dale. Three hundred Dalish yew long bows will be shipped north was well, to arm the foot soldiers in the Rohirrim contingent who knew how to use a bow. The Rohirrim Commander, Hagrem, bit back his ire and Lys gave the man a nod; they both knew the idea was foolish, no doubt some quill-scratchers brainstorm back in the HC’s offices. The longbow would have defeated the Rohirrim; they weren’t trained in its use. Give good Rohirrim bows to Rohirrim men and they’d hit their targets. More arrows in the air would never go amiss. More details were examined, more negotiations entered…

“Right, that about covers it,” the High Commander announced, throwing down his quill. “The main body leaves first light day after tomorrow. Try to get a few hours sleep between now and then, the lot of you. I don’t want my commanders sleeping in the saddle.” Gwaenyc gave Hagrem a scowling look. The Rohirrim took it, stoney-faced, but everyone knew they’d find him dozing astride his horse come the march. ‘Such are the ways on the Westfold,’ Hagrem once argued. ‘A good horse will take you to your destination whether you’re sleep or awake!’ Everyone was quick to remind the Rohirrim he was a Tower Guardsman now.

“Sir, there is something I wish to ask you,” Culanir said. Hagrem and the HC’s subordinates all paused thinking some thing more needed discussing. “It’s of a personal nature,” Culanir added. The Gondorian bade Lys stay with a brief touch on the arm while the others departed.

“High Commander, I am faced with a difficult situation,” Culanir began. He looked briefly at Lysandros, causing the Daler to shift uncomfortably from foot to foot.

“Spit it out, Commander,” Gwaenyc barked.

“I need to ride to Pelargir, sir, immediately.”
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:34 am

The Dúnedain



"I'd say we still have a mess to clean up, though the mountain is partially emptied and it appears that a great number have either fled or gone deep within the bowels of the mountain in fear. It will take time to ferret them all out, but it would be well worth while to cleanse the place so that it does not become a breeding ground for other evils," she said in a low voice.

"What are we talking about? Orcs? Trolls?" the head Ranger asked.

"Mainly orcs, from what I guess, though it wouldn't surprise me if there were some cold drake nests in there, which will be more tricky to eradicate. We will need reinforcements."

"Those are on the way, for the Eagle has sent a message to Elessar. The Knights are being recalled; you have done your duty here and it is for others to finish the task now."

"That sounds like your King, always sweeping in and claiming the glory after the battle's been won," Tempest grimaced as the Ranger looked slightly horrified at her words. "Don't worry," she added hastily. "I often speak out of turn. Elessar and I have a...complicated history. But in this case, I'm more than glad to turn over the job to him. I've neglected other duties for long enough. And besides," she said softly, gesturing towards her fellow Knights, "We have a fallen Knight to honor." **



The Mithril Knight then turned and walked back to the side of her slain comrade leaving the two Rangers silently dismissed.

Cerrimir fell into step along side Harogal, who, as leader of the Rangers of the North, was now formally in charge of ‘the mess’, as the dark, female Knight so aptly described it, at least until reinforcements arrived from the south. And that would take at least a month: a month of tramping through these soul-less hills and ravines looking for Sauron’s scum, dodging and hiding from flying cold drakes. Cerrimir bit the inside of his cheek in efforts to bite back the curse he wanted to hurl out into the grey, clouded sky. There simply were not enough Dunedain to do this. And as for the Gondorians, what use will they be, he mused bitterly. Traveling north at a forced march? They'll arrive exhausted and in need of a rest!

The two Dunedain walked with blades drawn; each caked with the dried, black blood of orc and goblin upon them. The slopes of the Carn Dum, pitted and broken with scattered rocks and knurled excuses for shrubs and trees, made for uneasy footing; they made their way carefully to an outcropping of rock which was easily defend-able and provided a clear view of the battlefield. Harogal had made it his ‘headquarters’ and a place of refuge for the wounded, Knight or Dunedain. Now the fighting had eased, it was growing into a temporary encampment.

“Sir,” Cerrimir said, interrupting the silence and unable to contain his frustration any longer, “I cannot recollect any mention of the Knights being recalled in the communication...”

Harogal gave his second a look that was a mixture of both commendation and warning. “Perhaps not ‘overtly’, Cerrimir,” he replied.

“Perhaps not ‘overtly’? But sir, you…”

A strange, bright fire suddenly caught Cerrimir’s eye. He turned just as there was a sudden gasp from a group of Dunedain and Knights some distance behind them; Harogal turned just in time to witness one of the Knights simply disappear into thin air.

The Ranger slowly shook his head and took Cerrimir by the arm, who stood gaping at the empty space where, moments ago, there once stood a man. Harogal led his second back to their headquarters.

“Their story is done, Cerrimir,” Harogal said in a low voice. “And they’ve taken losses, whereas we, by the grace of the Valar, have not.”

“We’ve not?” Cerrimir asked, more astounded by that news than seeing a man disappear.

“We have wounded, yes. Fatally wounded, no, not yet, at least,” Harogal replied. “And Elessar says they are to return the fallen with honor, so we let them.”

“We don’t have enough men! What does Elessar think we are? Magical, for pity’s sake?” Cerrimir shouted.

Harogal stopped short, and pulled himself up to full height. “You’re out of line, Captain! And I’ve heard enough ‘speaking-out-of-turn’ for one afternoon, if you don’t mind. Our KING has given us a task and we will do it!” He sheathed his sword, adding: "Our friend has given us a task, our brother." Harogal looked to Cerrimir, who, like all the Dunedain, was near exhaustion. His second stood firm, his grey eyes cloudy with anger but his tongue was still; Cerrimir was a proud one, always.

"Have you eaten anything, taken water?" Harogal asked. Cerrimir shook his head.

"Then do so, that's an order," Harogal said, turning back towards his headquarters. "Then take two junior ranks and spread the word of what's happened here and bring back reconaissance. I want confirmation that all our ranks live - but more importantly I want to know where the cold drakes are nesting - and how it is they fly! Orcs, goblins we know how to hunt but as long as those stinking vermin can take to the air, we're vulnerable."

"And Cerrimir," Harogal added.

"Sir?"

"Get a 'polite word' to our brothers back there at the wake that their respects have been duly paid and to return to their duties. If they wish to join the Knighthood, they may; just not today."

*Yes, sir," Cerrimir answered with a grin.


**Written by Tempest, Mithril Knight, from the thread 'Mithril Knights: Guardians of Middle-earth' and reprinted here. My Muse and I both thank you!
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Re: Whilest The Battle Rageth...

Postby Bardhwyn » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:37 am

The Dúnedain, continued...


After some searching, Cerrimir found some dried beef, two hard rolls and a few overlooked apples at the bottom of a provisions barrel; all the lembas was gone. Water was harder to find, though he came across a dropped water skin on the field, marked with the arms of the Mithril Knights with good Rhovannion water inside. He ate and drank hastily, aware time was slipping on and the news wasn’t travelling as long as he sat filling his gob. As he ate, he scanned the men and women that filtered into the make-shift encampment; he didn’t see any of his junior ranking men or women.

Feeling uneasy, he stuffed the uneaten remains of a roll and an apple into his kit bag and looked for Harogal’s adjutant, who was found sitting under a mangy tarp strung between two dead and twisted trees and pouring over a myriad of detailed maps.

“Casshern, I’m looking for my lieutenants, Ellandar and Alogar. Have you seen them?”

The adjutant looked up, her eyes red from lack of sleep. “Have you not heard?” she asked. She could see from Cerrimir’s flat expression, he had not.

“Alogar’s wounded. Ellandar’s with him at the healer’s tent,” she added quietly. Her gaze returned to one of the more detailed maps set before her.

“Harogal said we’ve not lost a soul, is that true?” Cerrimir asked.

“So far, Captain, but…”

“But? But ‘what’?” Cerrimir asked, his face clouding.

“I’d get to the healing tent if I were you, Captain,” Casshern said quietly.

Cerrimir was at a full run within seconds, arriving at the tent, breathless, within a few minutes. There several Dunedain sat or were laid out on blankets and mats, some awake, some not, many were bandaged but no bodies were laid off to one side, feet pointing west with swords wrapped in dead hands.

Cerrimir said a quick prayer of thanks to Manwe and quickly glanced about for Ellandar’s tall frame, finding him finally in the back, kneeling on the ground with his back to the tent’s entrance.

“Wait,” a voice called out. A healer approached Cerrimir, wiping her hands on a towel while looking at him carefully for wounds or any sign of trauma. “Are you hurt, Ranger?” she asked.

“No, no…” Cerrimir faltered, realizing he did not know this Dunedain woman. “My name is Cerrimir, Captain,” he touched his left shoulder in a brief salute.

“Kaya, daughter of Balar,” she began.

“Balar, Balar, he had a son, Beredic…”

“My brother, yes,” she said.

“He was a good man,” Cerrimir said respectfully. “I fought along side him with the Greys; a good man.”

“Yes, he was,” she said sadly. “You’re not hurt so you must be looking for someone?”

“Yes, my men, there in the back, I see them…” Cerrimir replied, motioning to where Ellandar crouched. “Alogar and Ellandar.”

“Ah,” Kaya said thoughtfully. “They were ambushed and severely outnumbered from what Ellandar said. They prevailed but Alogar took a deep sword thrust; the blades…”

“Yes, I know, poisoned but we have remedies!?” Cerrimir asked, trying to mask his alarm.

Kaya wiped her forehead wearily with the back of her damp hand. “Aye, aye, we do. I’ve mixed more antidotes these last few days than I have in the last few years; my hands are stained green but Alogar’s wound,” she shook her head. “It’s far too deep. I’ve done what I could; the Gods may now choose,” Kaya looked to where Alogar lay. “Go to him but please, keep your voices low as many here are trying to sleep.”

Cerrimir picked his way to the rear of the tent; some of the walls were up, to let in air, other panels were down. Alogar lay in a snug corner, free from drafts but the light was dim. Cerrimir squinted as he stopped; his first lieutenant’s face was ashen and his eyes fast closed.

Cerrimir groaned.

His second lieutenant, Ellandar, looked up at the sound and he shook his head. “No, no, he sleeps,” he whispered.

Cerrimir nodded, relieved. The bandaging around Alogar’s side betrayed the severity of his wound; the binding was wide and thick and an angry, red stain seeped into the crossing linen. “How many?” Cerrimir asked. Ellandar sighed heavily and stood.

“We chased two orcs, one appearing wounded,” Ellandar recounted. They dodged behind an escarpment and we stopped but before we could withdraw, we were surrounded; there were at least a dozen.”

“A dozen!” Cerrimir exclaimed. Kaya shushed him from across the tent.

“Gweanyd was with us, as well. He… ” Ellandar said hesitantly.

“Gweanyd!? He was ordered to stay here,” Cerrimir barked. Gweanyd was only 20; far too young in Dunedain years to fight. A tug on his sleeve gave him pause; Kaya now stood next to him.

“I said ‘low voices’, Captain. That means ‘quiet’,” she said sternly.

Cerrimir nodded and waited for the healer to leave them. He pulled Ellandar by the arm to the far end of the tent.

“So explain to me why Gweanyd, who is too young to be in the field, was, in fact, in the field?!” Cerrimir hissed.

Ellandar swallowed hard and gave Alogar a quick glance. “It was my decision, sir…” he began. “Gweanyd came to me and asked permission to accompany Alogar and I…”

Cerrimir’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You’re a terrible liar, Ellandar, you know that, don’t you?”

Ellandar nodded, bashfully. “Yes, sir, I do.”

“Alogar told Gweanyd he could tag along, didn’t he?” Cerrimir asked.

“Yes, sir. If he hadn’t have been there, Captain, we’d be dead,” the second lieutenant offered.

“Clearly,” Cerrimir remarked. “Where is the little blighter now?” Ellandar answered by pointing across the aisle to where young Gweanyd lay, wrapped in a blanket, sound asleep with the right side of his head bandaged.

“He took a good crack across the skull but kept fighting,” Ellandar said.

“And you?” Cerrimir asked, now worried.

“Ah, a jab with a knife, is all,” Ellandar replied, pointing to his bandaged right arm.

“Captain.”

Ellandar and Cerrimir looked down to where Alogar lay; his dark blue eyes were open and looked black in the dim light. With his ashen skin, he looked like some half-wraith ready to seep into the soil. “Captain,” he rasped a second time.

“Aye, lieutenant,” Cerrimir replied in an even tone, “I’m here. Save your strength; you can brief me later…”

“I permitted Gweanyd to accompany us,” Alagor whispered. “I know I disobeyed your orders, sir, but…” Alogar coughed, causing his entire frame to buckle under the thin blanket.

“Kaya!” Cerrimir called. He looked on helplessly as the healer arrived at Alagor’s side and attempted to make the wounded man drink a thick, green syrup from a small cup. Kaya looked up at Cerrimir and wordless bade him to leave. Cerrimir held up a hand, asking silently for a bit more time. The healer nodded and left.

Alogar’s eyes looked clearer, thanks to the potion. He found his voice once more.

“I disobeyed...” he begain. Cerrimir interrupted him.

“Time for discussions later, Alogar.”

“Not enough of us,” Alogar managed.

The words were like a fist into Cerrimir’s gut. “I know, Alogar. You were the officer in charge; you made a command decision. It was the best one you could make. I don’t hold you to fault.”

Alogar nodded with a look of relief on his face. He then took a deep in breath, exhaled and died.
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