The Gathering Storm – Winner, Silver Thread Award (Best RP)

Pull out your pack and head on down to the Prancing Pony for some great Role Playing (try to stay in character)!

Postby Naveen » Sat Aug 28, 2004 11:39 pm

Struggling, Inwir drew upon the inner strength of his heritage and rose to his feet as the swarming sea of fur rushed from their hiding places. He fought the numbing pain, pushing it back into a small corner of his mind as he raised Ringil; Radagast, though a wizard and an Istari, had need of him. He heard the wraith curse and smiled grimly, nodding when his friend looked his way.

The next moment stretched out for eternity as Inwir watched helplessly.

The crimson blade, held by an arm covered in squirming bodies, lashed out in fury. It thrust at Radagast, slipping past the outstretched staff. The Nazgûl cried out in triumph as Radagst’s eyes widened in surprise and his hand clutched his chest. A dark stain began to slowly seep through the brown robe of the wizard’s robe.

The color that had drained from Inwir’s face was replaced by a look of fury that was frightening to behold. He rushed forward holding Ringil high and crying out, “Elendil!”

The dread Lord of the Nazgûl advanced toward the stricken Radagast to strike another blow. His outstretched arm stopped in mid-swing at the cry. Spinning on his heel he turned to meet Inwir’s attack.

Naveen stirred, moaning as she turned her head to one side. Lying on the floor, cheek pressed against the marble floor, she felt numb and as cold as a grave. A fragmented thought came to her…was she dead? She felt the weight of something crawling across her face and shuddered, thinking that rats were coming to feast on her. But if she were dead, how would she know this?

Opening her eyes slowly, she blinked a few times before a blurry object standing by her nose came into focus. It was a mouse. A tiny paw reached out and tapped her cheek. She blinked again and the memory of what had happened came flooding back along with the realization that she wasn’t dead. With great effort, she pushed her upper body off the floor with one arm. Her right arm hung useless. She tried looking around but the exertion made her head spin and she dropped her head until the wave of dizziness and nausea passed. All the while the mouse scurried around, turning in circles near her hand. When she was able to lift her head again, she saw two figures dueling on the far side of the room; it was Inwir and the Nazgûl! She started to stand then felt a sharp pain. The tiny mouse was gnawing at her finger.

The mouse, knowing that he had the thief’s attention for but a fleeting moment, sat up on his haunches and urgently pointed behind her. Naveen gave a small cry when she spied the crumpled form sitting slumped against the wall. She crawled toward him.

“Leave me be,” Radagast said hoarsely when Naveen brushed aside a shock of gray hair and felt his brow. She ignored him. Gently, but firmly she pulled away the hand pressed against his chest, the robe beneath was almost black with the blood. Radagast gripped her wrist, trying to pull her hand away. “I said leave me be! I am wounded unto death by the blow your master struck.”

“He is no master of mine,” Naveen said firmly looking the wizard straight in the eye. “It was a ruse to buy time until you arrived. I knew the mouse would bring you.” For a long moment the wizard probed her face, his eyes boring into hers as if he were reading what was written in her soul. Finally he nodded tiredly but his grip around her wrist remained firm. “Hand me my staff and help me stand.”

“No! You are wounded ands it needs looking at.”

“There is no time. Already I can feel the vileness from the wraith’s blade seeping through me. What time I have left must be put to use…” he winced. “To aid Inwir.”

With care Naveen helped the wizard stand, bracing herself as he swayed against her, almost stumbling as she used her uninjured arm to support him. Radagast was growing weaker and his breathing became ragged with the effort it took to stand and hold himself steady on his feet. He didn’t know if he had the strength to do what must be done. Rats and mice gathered around his feet in an ever growing circle as if standing guard against any who might do him harm.

Radagast took a tottering step forward, his hand shaking as he raised his staff. “Give me strength Yavanna, one last time,” he whispered and pointed it at the dueling pair on the other side of the room.

Inwir was tiring; a thin film of sweat formed at his temples and along his brow and though his breathing was at a measured pace, the space of time between them was becoming shorter. So far the match had been even, the wraith had only broken through his guard a few times, marring his heavy leather vest in a few places and scoring a flesh wound on his upper arm.

Inwir had scored a few hits himself, one of them slicing through the dark fabric of the wraith’s sleeve. But he couldn’t tell if his sword tip had sliced through to flesh or even if there was substance beneath the black flowing raiment’s of the wraith. He raised the great sword Ringil to ward off a strike by the wraith and then sidestepped to the left. The crimson sword slashed the air close to his head…too close he thought, wondering how many more such strokes he would have the energy to evade.

Then he felt renewed energy flowing through his tired body. Ringil suddenly grew light in his hand and began to glow with a faint ice-blue color. The Nazgûl Lord paused and Inwir looked him in the eyes. They glowed with the same red light as the sword. Then they flickered and he saw in them a reflection of blue…and something else. Was it fear? The wraith retreated a step. A single pace only, but it seemed to Inwir a confirmation of what he thought he had seen in his eyes. It was enough; Inwir called upon his newfound strength and launched himself forward. Ringil flashed through the air, a blur as it arched and slashed, weaving icy-blue patterns as he drove the wraith back. On the defense, the Nazgûl Lord raised his sword, blocking the ever-increasing blows. For the first time he felt fear as he recognized the sword Inwir swung: Ringil, the God-Wounder. He faltered, dropping his guard for one brief instant as he stepped back again, his foot slipping on the carcass of a large rodent. It was all the time Inwir needed, grasping Ringil in both hands he swung mightily. The sword arched and blazed with a blinding flash of bluish-white light as it cleaved the wraith’s head from its shoulders.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Aug 29, 2004 7:19 am

The frigid evening air caused fog, low and thick, about the ankles of men and all about the tents and campfires. Horses in blankets stamped their feet and huddled together for warmth, though the fat, coarse-haired ponies of the Shire chomped pleasantly on their feed impervious to the cold.

Thebin moved among the encampment of the Halflings, amused and surprised at the jolly fellows who puffed away on their pipes and talked of the day’s work. Lucky, he called them in his mind, and hardy. As he moved on, those he encountered grew more quiet and subdued until he found himself outside a gray tent in near silence.

He stooped so low to enter that he might have crawled more easily. Inside was lit by a lamp set on a stone, and Elladan sat cross-legged upon furs, his eyes closed and seeming not to breathe. Beside him lay the limp form of Farly, and the Elven Lord’s hands rested one upon the fellow’s chest and the other upon his brow. Pale was the face of Elladan despite his suntanned skin, and deep was the furrow of frown on his face. No motion did he make, no breath or tremble of muscle or shifting of weight. Farly’s breath came shallow and ragged in the stillness of the tent.

“Elladan,” said Thebin.

There was no response from the Half-Elf; neither was there any indication that he was even aware of the General’s presence.

“Elladan,” he repeated a little more loudly, reaching to shake his arm.

Slowly, Elladan’s eyes opened and focused on the man. Weariness shadowed his face as he drew in a deep breath. “What is it?”

“You have been here all day. The moon is high in the sky. Cease now and try again tomorrow.”

Elladan looked down at Farly as he withdrew his hands. “This is beyond me, I find,” he sighed in resignation. “The healers at Imladris may help him. If not, perhaps the Lady Nerdanel?”

Unspoken between them remained the though, if not her, then who?
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Postby Tempest » Thu Sep 02, 2004 7:02 pm

All eyes had turned on Legrace, but one pair had fastened with such rapt intensity that it seemed the gaze itself was made up of energy. Indeed, Tempest had only glanced in Legrace's direction before and she chided herself for not recognizing immedietly the flame of power that resided in the woman sitting opposite her. She had only ever heard whispers before, hushed conversations of the lady whose smile could make dark hearts light with joy and whose mere laughter rippled along dark hallways, casting the shadows to the side.

Here it was. Here was the power she sought. Strange that it should reside in such a vessel, that the same strength could exist as much in a look or tilt of the head than in an army of a thousand strong. Tempest's eyes missed nothing in that lovely face. It possessed knowledge that went beyond anything even the Noldor had attained, along with an inconsolable sorrow that only deepened her beauty. Tempest noted how her tears moved the men around her and she smiled faintly. Here was power indeed.

Tempest was not surprised by the lady's words. She was not even disappointed by them, for she knew Legrace had no love for war or darkness. Hers was a pure existence, unstained by the frailities of mortality.

Or was it?

Tempest answered her tears with an apologetic air. "I mean you no distress lady.I suppose you cannot remember that which you did not see. But He understood it well enough. Glory. Power. There are those who would consider such things worth dying for, willing to even pour their very essence into preserving." She looked to the East and her eyes clouded briefly. "Then again, perhaps only fools run after such things. Shall I join you, lady, in weeping for that which can never be again?" She paused again. It was painful to look at Legrace's face, the grief that passed over it was almost unbearable. Tempest leaned forward and said very quietly, but with profound strength. " No! Some dreams do not die. Mordor will rise. Mordor has risen again." Her gaze turned back to the captains of the West. "The question that remains before you is: Can there be peace between us? I have much to tell, if you will listen, though some of what I say is only for the ears of the King of Gondor."

Her eyes traveled back to Legrace, her intent unmistakeable. And I have much for your ears alone as well.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sat Sep 04, 2004 8:04 am

No guidance was needed to see that the woman Tempest, who called herself ‘Queen of Mordor’, was dangerous. Not knowing what was behind the recent events was a great vulnerability, but Eldarion had no intention of yielding anything. In addition, the distress of the Lady Legrace affected him more than the others, except, perhaps, Elrohir. The powerful feeling of protectiveness and awe further heightened his already roused wariness.

“Lady Tempest, there has been peace here for more than a century,” he said in a firm yet quiet voice. “However, there can be no peace between Men and those who were bred only to destroy them. I, King of the Reunited Kingdom and Descendant of the Eldar, hold dominion over this land, and all who dwell here are subject to my rule. I will hear what you wish to say, but if it is peace that you desire, then your forces must lay down their weapons and abide my rule.

“This lady,” he nodded towards blue-shrouded Legrace, “is my guest, and the lady of my uncle, Lord Elrohir of Imladris. As she has no part in this matter, I ask you not to speak to her without his leave.”

A low, lovely chuckle, faintly muffled by her hood, came from Legrace.

“And now, Lady Tempest, who was it who rebuilt the Dark Tower and shielded it in secrecy?”
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Postby Tempest » Sat Sep 04, 2004 7:55 pm

“And now, Lady Tempest, who was it who rebuilt the Dark Tower and shielded it in secrecy?” Eldarion asked, his tone more of a command than a question.

Tempest studied him for a moment. He had the strong features of his father, but his eyes betrayed him as his mother's son. A pity, that elven blood flowed through his veins, or she might have found him more agreeable. His tone angered her. He was like a child playing games of which he did not know the rules. A King indeed! He would crumble easily if he did not have the counsel of the elves.

But curious enough, Tempest had also caught the look on his face when he glanced at Legrace and she knew that the shrouded lady held sway over his heart. She could prove a weakness to him, greater than even he might suspect.

With a mixture of mirth and annoyance, Tempest answered the mighty king. "Dear sire, it is far too hot on this field to discuss such weighty matters at any length. Let us retire somewhere quieter where there are less eyes and curious ears."

Eldarion remained immovable and Tempest brought her horse a few steps closer to him. "I can see clearly that you do not trust me, but I speak only the truth. There are forces moving that threaten both our lands. We thought to ally ourselves with these forces at first thinking that we would be given the freedom we have desired for so long. But we were mistaken, pawns yet again in a larger scheme that has nothing to do with our hopes for the future.

The king seemed about to speak, but she cut him off, her eyes flashing. "So we have come to you, to the Western strength who has opposed us for so long. And what is your answer to us? That, 'your forces must lay down their weapons and abide my rule.' Shall we lay down our arms, sire, and allow ourselves to be annihilated? You see our dilemma: You think of us as creatures bred only for war, but we want only to work our land like any other race and raise our families in peace. But I do not expect you to understand. You are, afterall, only human. What are the lives of my people to you?"

"If you do not wish to speak to me in a more pleasant setting, than I will withdraw to my Dark Tower, as you call it, and attempt to deal with this dark force in my own way. Do not mistake me, sire. I will not beg, nor will I make deals with those who seek to subject my people to slavery again."
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Postby Naveen » Sun Sep 12, 2004 4:58 pm

A wail filled the throne room, a low keening cry filled with anger, rage and bitterness. It swirled around Inwir filling his senses until he clapped his hands against his ears and closed his eyes against the assault. Then, in an instant, it was gone and the room was filled with silence. Inwir dropped to one knee; his shoulder’s slumped and the strength he’d felt earlier vanished. Ringil felt as heavy as ten swords in his hand. He stayed that way for a long moment, head bowed as his racing heart slowed and he caught his breath. Then the whisper of a breeze brushed across his face; it felt cold against his dampened brow and carried with it the fresh scent of the night air. He raised his eyes and looked at the remains of the Witch King lying a few feet away.

The black cloak lay in a pile, the thick, rich fabric spilling out in heavy folds across the black marble floor. To one side lay a finely wrought black iron band, the crown of Angmar; of the head that had worn the crown there was no sign. Inwir rose and walked over to it and using the tip of his sword lifted it from the floor. Then, from the corner of his eye, he saw something gleaming dully. Stepping over to the crumpled pile of clothing he knelt. There, partially covered by the cloak, lay a thin band of gold ithilnaur with a single gemstone. It was the first of the nine.

Across the room near the entrance to the throne room, Naveen sat on the floor cradling Radagast’s head on her lap. She bit her lip as she applied pressure, holding the folded edge of the wizards cloak against the wound to staunch the flow of blood. It was flowing freely; the front of his robe was fully soaked. The wizard’s eyes fluttered open briefly as he tried to move his head, then closed again.

“Don’t move!”

“In…Inwir?”

“The Witch King is no more,” Naveen answered quietly then turned her head and looked up as Inwir approached. “And Inwir is here.”

For the second time in his long life Inwir felt the unbearable pain of grief threaten to overwhelm him as he knelt at Radagast’s side. Naveen moved her hand briefly and with one glance the elf could see the seriousness of the wound. He took the ancient hand of the wizard and covered it with his own as he held it. Radagast opened his eyes and looked up into gray eyes clouded with sadness.

“Do not mourn for me White Wolf. My time here has been well spent.”

“You’ll recover. We’ll bring you to Imladris…” A low rumble sounded from somewhere in the deep recesses of the fortress of Carn Dûm.

“There is not time,” Radagast wheezed. “With the Witch King’s death the magic that brought this cursed fortress back to life fades. You must leave before it crumbles down upon…” Another rumble sounded and tiny cracks appeared in the polished marble floor around Radagast.

“I cannot leave you here!”

A serene look crossed the ageless face of the wizard and he smiled a secret smile at Inwir. “Yavanna will care for me.”

Tiny bits of debris started falling from cracks opening in the ceiling above their heads. Naveen looked up. “We must leave soon,” she said, worry creeping into her voice. But she was as loath to leave the wizard as Inwir was and she looked up at him. “I can bear part of his weight.”

“No!” Though his voice was weak, it still carried the power of command and both Naveen and Inwir felt they had no choice but to obey Radagast’s final wish. Naveen gathered up his cloak, folding it to form a pillow and then gently eased the wizard’s head onto it. As she did, he removed his hand from Inwir’s and reached out, lightly touching the hand of the arm that hung useless by her side. Naveen felt a tickle of feeling return. “You will gradually regain its use,” Radagast whispered looking deep into the dark eyes of the thief from Harad. “This storm has passed but there are darker clouds on the horizon and your skills will be needed.”

Choking back a sob, Naveen nodded her thanks, then stood and walked a short distance away, giving Inwir and the wizard a few moments alone.

A third rumble sounded, this one stronger and louder than the previous ones and Naveen could feel the floor move beneath her boots. Inwir, face an ashen gray, came up beside her. “Let’s go,” he said tersely taking her arm. Debris rained down in earnest as the pair left the throne room, neither one of them looking back. But if they had, they would have known what Radagast meant.

More cracks appeared in the floor all around Radagast and from those cracks small brown vines emerged. They grew quickly, leaves sprouting along its length and leafing out as the winding tendrils formed a protective bower around the wizard’s body. As larger portions of ceiling fell and filled the room with wreckage, a pale green light began to glow within the bower and none of the stones that fell on it did any harm.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:35 am

The king’s expression did not change. Each word spoken by Tempest was suspect, and he would not trust her; however, he knew that it was necessary to meet and have words with her. “Very well, Lady Tempest, form your escort and we shall meet directly for parley if you will.”

In the pause before her reply, she seemed to be weighing something – perhaps how far she could trust them. Then, she nodded.

As they turned back towards their lines, Eldarion looked upon the men gathered there. Old he was in the years of men yet young in the years of the Dúnedain. Nearly all here were younger than him, yet the peace of his father’s reign had nearly eliminated the necessity for men to command massive armies. As a young captain, he had sometimes worried about doing the wrong thing with the companies of men he commanded. As the decades had passed, he had learned to do the right thing decisively and had earned his father’s hearty approval.

Wise counselors and experienced advisors were valuable, but from his father he had learned that all decisions rested ultimately with himself. The feeling was a lonely one, but he never wished the responsibility away. Instead, he concentrated his energies on thinking clearly and globally.

The woman Tempest looked to be a warrior of the Rohirrim though her words were decidedly unusual. My people, she had said. Could she really consider orcs to be her people? Or had the creatures’ blind loyalty intoxicated her with heady power? Whatever the reason, he could not believe that any of the Children of Ilúvatar could ally themselves with the pestilent orcs who existed only to kill Men. What could make one of his race call orcs my people?

There was no time for such reflection now, though. He turned his mount over to one of the grooms and made his way to the canopy that had been set for them. Unlike the tent where he met with his captains, their meeting was set to take place out of the sun but in the open. Under it, trestle tables had been set with cups and jugs.

Folcwine came up beside him. “A bit much for one such as her,” he remarked. “Will you receive that woman as a Queen?”

“I hardly know the protocol for receiving any lady on a field of battle,” remarked Eldarion with a grin, wondering what his elderly advisor, Kruch, would have said about Tempest. “For certain, my mother never had occasion to travel thus, and the Lady Legrace prefers solitude.” He poured himself some of the cool ale and took a drink. “Besides, good manners cost nothing, and there is no reason to insult an adversary before hearing what she has to say.”

The others were drifting in: Elrohir, Alairic, Beneshoff, Mulrain, and Benoit. Dacius had finally had to give up his attentions to the Lady Alys, for like all of them, he was not quite willing to put himself in the narrow intense orbit of the Lady Legrace. Those two ladies settled to the left and Alys signaled to one of the men to fetch them drinks.

With her blonde hair hanging down over her dark armor, Tempest strode into the area with her men. She was like the Lady Alys yet different in some key way beneath the surface. Without hesitation, she moved to her place and took up the cup that was offered her then drank deeply. It was a powerful gesture and a complex one, conveying trust, courage, and confidence. Eldarion paused for a moment when he saw she had only four fingers on one of her hands. He raised his cup to her before doing the same, then gestured for her to take a seat.

“We are aware of many events that appear threatening to us, of which the rapid reconstruction of the Dark Tower is only the first thing,” he began slowly. “We have seen the Nazgul and know that the One Ring still exists. We have been attacked in the South by a large army and in the North… by an army of reanimated dead.”

Something flashed in Tempest’s eyes. Fear? Shock? She looked shaken for a moment before regaining mastery. As close as she was being watched, it was almost unnoticeable.

“It is of great interest to us that you sent us a good-will gesture of the Half-elf and the ring he bore,” he continued, and her surprise was conveyed in the infinitesimal drawing together of her brows. “I said bore because it has been removed from him – much to his displeasure.”

Still wearing her bland expression, she gripped the cup in her hand and resisted the powerful urge to look around at all these men and wonder which one was now under the ring’s influence. Eldarion admired her control, for she held his gaze calmly in the face of the startling information.

“Well, my lady,” he continued with a sigh, “you told of a force that you considered joining in an alliance and now you seek our aid against it. Do you mean to tell us that the Dark Lord Sauron has returned to this world? And if not he, then who?”
Last edited by Finrod_the_Faithful on Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Sep 17, 2004 10:59 am

It was an acceptable setting, Tempest decided as she glanced briefly around the canopy and noted the generous amount of drink and cups. He is a cautious man, she thought to herself as she nodded slightly at Eldarion before taking her seat. He was wise not to make an enemy out her yet, at least until he had gleaned what she knew.

The heat was mild and the canopy’s ends waved lazily in the dusty breeze. She had drunk heartily of the cup before her and could not help but cringe inwardly as she remembered the last time she had done so….The moment passed and she turned an attentive and calm face again to the handsome king before her.

She listened with a mixture of surprise and amusement as he recounted what he knew thus far. So, the witch-king was up to his old tricks. At least he was far to the North, far enough to stay out of her way. She wondered suddenly where his army might be headed at the moment. Ah well, the West could deal with him. She had complete faith in their ability to squelch such a fire.

The information about Helazzar reminded her of the other part of her plan that had yet to be put into practice. She was slightly troubled that the ring had been taken from him, but in the long run it made little difference who possessed it, as long as she was free from its tainted power. She remembered how the half-elf’s face had altered under its guidance and she wondered again what Barad-Dur had intended for her if she had continued to use it. She could only venture a guess, and she doubted very much whether it would have been in her best interest.

Tempest purposely kept her gaze steady and unwavering as Eldarion finally paused and all eyes again turned in silent questioning to her. ”Many have used the title of Dark Lord, sire, though none perhaps as well as Sauron. Ah, it is strange to hear his name spoken aloud. But, no. It is not of him that I speak. As for the Ring, I shall tell you what I know, and you can tell me what you wish to do.”

“A certain dark power sought me out first while I was traveling with a small hunting party near Mirkwood. Why it wished for my services, I do not know, but what I do know is that I was offered a ring. One of the Nine.”


There was a low murmur and many glances exchanged around the tables. Eldarion frowned and nodded for Tempest to continue.

“I know enough to realize that without the One Ring, the Nine should diminish as well. Yet, ss soon as I took the ring and placed it on my finger, I felt something. There was power still enough to change me.” At this point she lowered her voice as if she were suddenly afraid that she was speaking too loudly. ”Then I was sent to carry one of his dark plans.”

Eldarion interrupted her. ”Whose dark plans? Of whom do you speak when you mention this dark power?”

Tempest paused. ”When I am finished, perhaps you can tell me. Or perhaps someone here today can. The spirit who summoned me fashioned himself by the name 'Barad-Dur'.” She leaned forward and was quiet as she gazed around for the first time at all those who were seated. When her eyes fell on Elrohir, she started slightly and then smiled. She seemed to be considering something for a moment, and finally she looked away and said in a distant tone ”I recognize you because of your brother. He welcomed me when I journeyed to Imladris. He was most courteous and kind, though he rightly mistrusted me. They called me Honoria there. Have you heard the name before? I fear you have, and I must ask your forgiveness, for what I did under that name.”

She continued, looking at Elrohir as she spoke. ”Your brother, he was one of the few who was not poisoned by the Nazgul’s draught that I placed in the banquet honoring those who had come for the council. They were so weakened that I could safely steal the Lady Nerdanel away from under their noses. For what dark purpose the lady was needed, I do not know. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have followed so willingly. There is my confession. But there is more. I do not expect you to trust me. Nay, I am not worthy of your trust. But it is with honesty that I tell you that the Dark Tower stands today because of an ancient evil, not a new one. Mordor wants no part of it. I want no part of it. I see only utter destruction at its hands.”
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:31 pm

When they had entered the meeting area under the canopy, Elrohir carefully took his seat so that Tempest sat on a direct line between himself and Legrace. He could study them both this way as well as watch Eldarion and the others. What the warrior Tempest said was not nearly as interesting as what she was. Concentrating, frowning, his Sight pierced her and he saw much that was familiar and different. The truth was startling: she was not completely mortal. Not an elf nor a brilliant presence like Legrace the Maia, there was something unusual, familiar that troubled him about her.

Strong and crafty she was, clever and a natural born leader with a strong self-preserving instinct. She carried fear, which was what had brought her here for this alliance, and the words she spoke were true. She would be trustworthy only as far as suited her purpose, and she had little to lose. There was something else, something deeply protected, and he was just beginning to make out silvery glimmers when she spoke directly to him. Since he was forced to concentrate on her words to him, his sight reverted back to normal and he gazed at her with a slight frown.

Everything that Tempest said was in accord with what Legrace had told him in private, save one thing. Legrace, who sat serenely sipping her ale as if it were wine and not appearing to take any notice of what was occurring around her, had referred to a youthful mischievous spirit as he and him, whereas Tempest used no gender to refer to the ancient evil. Interesting.

“It is clear that you know little of this dark power,” he said aloud. “Yet you say that the tower stands because of an ancient evil. Is there something you can tell us? You have encountered the power and I have not; thus, I wonder what you recognized that makes you call it ancient. You also call it your tower, which makes me think that this power you fear is not within.”

“Verily,” added Eldarion gravely, nodding.

“You seek the aid of Men,” Elrohir went on. “What do you propose? To make war on this power? To wait for a strike against us?”
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Postby Naveen » Sun Oct 10, 2004 10:41 pm

Nerdanel’s eyes were closed as she rested next to the fire and listened to the even breathing of Yarrow. She heard him moan slightly as he shifted in his sleep and she opened her eyes and looked down at the sleeping guard. His moaning stopped and once again he appeared to be resting comfortably. Reaching out, she felt his brow, it was warm to the touch but it was the warmth of the natural process of healing, not the heat of fever. She sighed with relief and then looked up at the night sky. It seemed like hours had passed since Inwir and Radagast had left. Most of the lingering clouds from the storm earlier had drifted past and she tried to gauge the movement of the stars since the last time she had checked. They hadn’t moved very far, dawn was still a few hours away.

Orodreth was on the opposite side of the fire a few feet away and was half shrouded in shadow. His back was to Nerdanel as he leaned against an outcropping of rock that jutted out from the cliff and formed a protective arm around part of their small encampment and was scanning the open area, watching and listening for any more of the undead and for the return of their companions. He heard the slight movements near the fire and looked over his shoulder at Nerdanel.

“Do you hear it?” he asked in the barest whisper.

Nerdanel stiffened, instantly alert, and concentrated but couldn’t hear anything. “No,” she answered quietly. “I can’t hear anything.”

“That’s what I mean. For almost an hour now there has been nothing but the sound of silence. I haven’t even heard the normal rustling of creatures that are awake during the night.”

“What does it…” Nerdanel stopped in mid sentence. She felt an almost imperceptible tremor in the ground beneath her feet. She looked across the fire at Orodreth. Had he felt it too? Their eyes met and she saw fill with worry and concern before Orodreth turned his head from her.

“Something’s happened,” Nerdanel whispered as she slowly stood and looked up. The fortress of Carn Dûm was somewhere high above them and hidden from sight.

“Where are they?” Orodreth muttered to himself as his hand tightened around the pommel of his sword. They both could hear the distant sound of rocks clattering and falling high above where the fortress was. He began to pace back and forth in front of the fire as he continued looking out at the night. Nerdanel looked down at her hands. They were shaking slightly as she held them up in front of her. Pinpricks of light from the fire reflected off the stone and metal band on her left hand and held her gaze for a long moment as she stared at it before dropping one hand and pressing the other against the bare rock of the cliff. She closed her eyes and sent her mind into the stone, searching for answers from the earth itself.

Orodreth turned as heart-wrenching sobs escaped Nerdanel’s barely parted lips and his heart skipped a beat. She stood next to the wall of rock that encircled their camp, one hand braced against the cliff side. Her face was deathly white and her slender form swayed back and forth as if unseen forces were buffeting her.

Rushing to her side her caught her as all strength left her legs. As he held her, she brought her hands up and covered her face. “He’s gone,” she whispered.

“Who?”

Nerdanel didn’t answer. A shudder ran through her as she tried to suppress and make sense of the images she’d seen in her minds eye with the aid of Kemenya. The sound of grating rock and stone crashing down in a large circular room… Two forms lying as still as death on the floor, one crumpled and covered with debris so that she could not tell who it was… The other she knew in her heart to be the wizard, for she could see glimpses of white hair and brown colored robe bathed in a soft green light through the tangled growth of vines that grew around him. Was Inwir the other?

“Radagast.” A familiar voice answered from the darkness beyond the firelight. Orodreth turned and Nerdanel dropped her hands from her face.

“As is the Witch King.” Inwir’s voice sounded hollow as he stepped into the ring of light from the fire with Naveen following close behind. Both of them were covered in dirt and their faces and hands bore scratches and bruises. Inwirs eyes looked empty as he looked down at the iron crown he held in his hand before tossing it to the ground next to the fire. The band of iron clattered loudly in the stillness of the night as it struck the ground and rolled past Nerdanel and Orodreth. It stopped when it hit the rocks ringing the fire.

Nerdanel steadied herself, slowly pulling away from Orodreth’s supporting arm and walked over to Inwir. Her childhood friend’s eyes were filled with deep, unspeakable sorrow. Not saying a word, she touched his face with her hand as he reached out and enfolded her with his arms. They stood there, silently comforting each other as they shared their mutual grief at the passing of Radagast.

Orodreth was stunned and his mind was reeling. He lifted his face and stared blankly up at the faraway stars. They were blurry at first as grief washed over him. But something stirred deep in his being; a tiny spark that had been smoldering ever since the rumors had started of a returned evil. He blinked his eyes until the stars came into sharp focus.

Of the four gathered around the fire, Naveen was the least affected by the passing of the Istari. Her grief did not run as deep as the other who had known him for a long time, but she was affected by his passing none the less. Walking past Nerdanel and Inwir, she sat down next to the fire and stretched out her hands seeking the warmth the flames would provide. Her right arm was still numb, but she could move it and she flexed her fingers slowly as she stared at the fire and the iron crown leaning near it. What now, she thought wearily.

There was the quiet sound of someone approaching and Naveen looked up. It was Orodreth. He leaned over and picked up the iron crown before seating himself next to her. “Tell me what happened,” he asked in a low voice.

Naveen looked over at Inwir and Nerdanel. They were standing close together and talking quietly, but she caught one of the glances Inwir threw in her direction and read mistrust in it. She passed a tired hand through her hair, shaking loose some of the dirt and chips of rock that still clung to it and then started to tell the elf that sat next to her all that had happened since she had left. Sometime during the telling, Inwir and Nerdanel returned to the fire.

Inwir sat quietly, his eyes on the thief’s face, listening while Naveen related about following the undead soldier to the throne room. She paused for a moment, lowering her head, shuddering at the remembered feeling of helplessness when the Witch King had commanded her to step forward. She had felt Inwir’s eyes on her and raised her head, looking across the fire at him as she continued, telling them of how, in an effort to save her life, she had tried to deceive the wraith into thinking she was there to offer her sword to him. He nodded; finally understanding what the situation had been when he and Radagast had arrived and realizing why the wizard, with the last of his waning strength, had bestowed a healing touch to the thief. He had believed her and Inwir could not do less.

“We thought her a traitor,” he said quietly, “and it nearly cost Naveen her life.”

Inwir picked up the story and briefly told of his battle with the Witch King and then together, both the thief and Inwir told of Radagast’s last moments. When they were finished, silence fell over the four and naught could be heard but an occasional rumble from the mountain top high above them and the crackling of the fire near at hand.

At last Orodreth broke the silence. “It isn’t over yet,” he said quietly. He still held the iron crown in his hands and when he looked down, he saw that his knuckles were white from clenching it tightly. The old demon of vengeance that had been born in his heart after the fall of Nargothrond so long ago was aroused. His tone took on a hard edge. “Some one or thing of greater threat than the Witch King still walks the land and must be called to account for what has happened.”

“How shall we find this threat now that Radagast is gone?” Nerdanel asked, her voice sounding weary.

“We will return to Imladris and there…” Inwir started to say but Orodreth interrupted. “Why wait? Nerdanel can use the ring she wears…”

“No!” Inwir answered harshly, “Nerdanel needs to rest!” and then softened his tone at the look of defiance in his foster brother eyes. Now was not the time to argue, they were all tired. “And we must bring them the news of Radagast’s death.”

Nerdanel looked at Isilya. She’d felt nothing from the ring since that feeling of abandonment earlier in the evening when Radagast had asked her about it and she didn’t want to try and use it, not now; she felt drained of energy after using Kemenya. “Inwir’s right Orodreth, I’m tired. But on the journey back I will try to learn what I can.”


~ edited to fix repeated paragraphs~
Last edited by Naveen on Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Oct 29, 2004 1:30 pm

Tempest's face had grown stern with the intensity of her words. She did not want them to mistake her, for she was in earnest. She knew well what would happen if she was sent back to the tower without the aid of the West. Even being what she was, she could not repell the spirt long. There could be no victory against such a power without this pathetic king and his meddling elf-friends. It was disdainful to her to bargain with them, but neccessary. She steeled herself to the task at hand and answered the king. "The tower is mine, and it is not unlike the one which stood in its place long ago," she glanced in Legrace's direction for a moment, but then thought better of it. She looked back at Eldarion. " You are correct in saying that the dark presence does not reside there at the moment. It has departed, but promised to return. I wish to make certain that it NEVER does. At the moment, my darling King stays at the Tower, building an army with which he means to destroy YOU, as the spirit ordered. Of course, he can be taken care of quite easily. I am the one who truly controls the army."

"Your loyalty to your own is endearing," Eldarion noted drily. "How do we know that you will not treat us in the same fashion?"

"Well, I cannot stand alone against the spirit, can I? But the Mouth of Sauron is of no consequence to me. I never had any intention of..." she continued, but the king interrupted her.

"The Mouth of Sauron? He yet lives? And he is the King of Mordor that you speak of?" he interjected.

"Yes, it seems that your people are not very capable at eradicating past evils. The Mouth of Sauron still lives, though his power is somewhat diminished. He is a minor threat, though some may still find him mildly amusing." Again, Tempest shifted her gaze toward Legrace and back.

"What aid do you wish from us? I can speak for Gondor, but for Rohan I can only..." Eldarion asked, but this time Tempest interrupted him instead.

"It is not for the aid of Rohan that I come!" she spoke hotly, but then quickly said, "What I mean is, Gondor is the seat of power for the West. If you join us in repelling this force, the others will follow you." She had managed to recover herself, but her first outburst had caught Legrace's attention. It was the first genuine emotion Tempest had betrayed, and Legrace, who was watching her closely, made note of it in her mind. There was pain there, pain that had been twisted into something terrible and given birth to a slow-burning hatred. She had glimpsed but little of it, and it had intrigued her.

"You wish us to march on the Tower?" Elrohir asked.

"Yes, we will join with the forces there. The spirit cannot but know that I have betrayed it by this point. The spirit's eyes see much, even perhaps to this place. It will return soon, and we must be prepared. If we do not, then the spirit will surely destroy Mordor and then turn its greedy eyes toward your land."
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sat Oct 30, 2004 6:03 pm

The signs of spring were appearing in the plain, Elladan noted as he rode among the allied men, elves, dwarves and hobbits. The birds nesting in the tall grasses were vocal as they hunted for food. When he heard them singing in success and darting past with a fat worm or juicy beetle, he smiled and watched for a moment, enjoying the triumph of life once more after winter. Far off, his elvish eyes saw a vixen heavy with her young, but for only a moment ere she was gone. Brown hares and plump groundhogs also moved within his sight, searching for food.

As far as he could see, the remains of the undead were being stacked and burned on the thawing ground. The acrid smoke blew sometimes in his direction and made his eyes smart; the smell permeated everything. Still, the sky had patches of blue, and the world awoke slowly around them from its long winter sleep.

Approaching riders caught his attention. There were five – four guards obviously out of Annúminas in the uniform of the Kingdom of Arnor and an unusually tall woman in a cloak held by a silver clasp. Elladan grinned and set Caran out at a brisk canter to meet them.

“We did not expect you here,” he called as he neared the group. Pulling up close beside the lady, he leaned to embrace her and kissed her tenderly upon the brow. “My dear Ancalimë, how lovely it is to see you in this place.”

The princess, sister of the king, hugged him fiercely and sighed. “I am happy to find you well, uncle,” she said with a warm smile, but there was serious care and concern underneath.

His head tilted to one side. “What is it, lass? Bad news from Eldarion?”

She shook her head. “Nay, nay. We have had news from them, and it is strange and not good, but that is not what drew me here.” She drew in a deep breath and looked frankly at him. “Gilraen has been ill. The healers advised us to take her to Imladris.”

A deep frown furrowed his brow. “Ill? Is it the visions again?”

“Aye, and fever, and more,” she admitted, her own expression growing dark. “Mayhap you will see to her for the moment?” she continued hopefully.

“I shall, of course,” he agreed. “But I am fresh come from the field of battle, so my abilities will have waned.”

“Come then.” She turned her horse, and the guards followed behind as she and Elladan urged their mounts into a trot. “Sometimes, she is lucid, and sometimes she is as one whose mind is possessed by terrible thoughts and images.”

As they rode past the pyres and the toiling men, she described her sister’s actions: the fever, the levitation, the dire words. Elladan listened with a grim look on his fair face, steeling himself for the encounter with his niece. For Ancalimë to have left her stewardship and Annúminas at such a time, he knew that the situation had to be serious. “For now, she is well and in possession of her faculties, but she insists that we take her south to Eldarion. She will not listen to me – and she swears he needs her visions to guide her.”

Escorted by a score of men-at-arms, the beautiful Lady Gilraen, lovely like her mother, smiled in joy when she saw him. “Uncle!” she cried, urging her palfrey into a canter.

“Well met, lass,” he replied as he drew Caran up beside her, then he embraced her and kissed her brow gently. She looked a little pale, but her eyes were clear and bright, and there seemed to be no lingering effects of illness. “My dear Gilraen, I am happy to see you so well.”

“I cannot remember the last time I visited Imladris. It is too long since I have been abroad,” she sighed, then cast her eyes at the smoke rising in the distance.

Wanting to distract her from the grisly work, Elladan turned his mount so that they three could ride abreast with the men following behind. “My work is finished here,” he told them. “I can escort you the rest of the way myself.”

“Elrohir is with my brother,” Gilraen said abruptly.

“Yes, of course,” agreed Ancalimë. “I told you several weeks ago.”

There was a moment of quiet while they rode together and none of them spoke. “I wish he were here!” she said aloud but was speaking to herself.

Elladan frowned, wondering what dangers his brother and nephew now faced. This was no place to talk of such things, so he resolved to avoid the topic until they had reached Imladris and had dined and rested. “My dear ladies, ride on without me. I shall take my leave of our comrades and catch you up very shortly.”

“I was going to stop and speak with Thebin,” Ancalimë admitted. “Perhaps he could come along also to report to me.”

“I shall pass along your request to him, then,” he assured her. “Farewell for the moment, and I shall meet you before long.”
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Postby Tempest » Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:04 am

It came to this: the Mouth of Sauron was not such a fool. Even in his lust for power and the sweeping vision of his own majesty that often clouded his better judgement, he could see the contempt in Tempest’s eyes as she had departed the Dark Tower. She was a complex woman, and there was much he did not understand about her. But one thing he did know: she had no intention of ruling beside him. He suspected treachery from her at every corner since they last spoke, and as soon as the dust had settled from her departure, he had quickly descended on the army ranks to ascertain how deep her scheming went.

But, for all his manipulations and threats, he could not discover her plans. The commanders knew nothing, and her last orders to them had been straightforward and unquestionable. The Mouth of Sauron pondered this darkly in his chambers. He was in trouble, and he knew it. Somehow he had walked into her trap, but he had yet to see the net closing around him. He had been blind to her true intentions, and so had betrayed the Spirit with her. It was with a sickening feeling, almost akin to despair, that he summed up his situation. Now, he would face the Spirit’s wrath along with Tempest’s. Unless he did something, this would indeed be his final battle.

His mind flitted carelessly to Legrace and he wondered suddenly what part she had played in all this. Perhaps he should not have…No. It was too late for regret. Instead, he made his way to his chambers, where he proceeded to pour over his books, hoping to somehow find an answer to the question that had plagued his mind ever since his last conversation with the spirit and Legrace. He had been well versed in the black arts, and they had served him well. Perhaps they would serve him well again.

He thought of Tempest. She was cunning, yes, but she was also a creature of passion. He had seen the fire in her eyes, and he hoped that in the end, her anger would guide her more than her judgement. Still, if he destroyed her, he would be left still to face the spirit, and against such power, he could not prevail. At least, not yet.

Not yet. But perhaps, there was a way…

He smiled slightly, a strange crooked smile that lifted one side of his face and made his eyes crinkle with pleasure. Yes, he would play the fool for the moment. Let her play her hand along with the spirit. He could bide his time a little. After all, he was a survivor and he had learned to act the part well.

He would play the fool for now.

But not forever.
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Postby Naveen » Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:05 am

The dark foreboding Mountains of Angmar faded in the distance as the small group rode southward in the gray light of morning. And with each mile that passed beneath her horse’s hoofs, Naveen breathed easier. The Witch King was dead and they were leaving the bleak wastelands of the northern reaches of Angmar and that was all that mattered…for the moment. She’d worry about what lay ahead after they reached Imladris. Somehow that thought made the day seem brighter and the air smell fresher, even though the sky was shrouded with clouds and the breeze that blew from the west held the faint scent of smoke.

Riding along next to Yarrow, Naveen rolled her right shoulder and flexed her fingers. Most of the feeling had returned but her fingers still tingled at times and were stiff. Nerdanel had told the thief that too would soon disappear and that more than likely, by the time they reached Imladris there would be no sign of the injury. In the meantime she had advised Naveen to exercise her arm and fingers while they rode.

Inwir, riding in the lead, didn’t share the same outlook as the thief. The leaden clouds overhead reminded him there was still a threat hanging over the land and his thoughts were concentrated on that for most of the time they traveled across the barren landscape. Not even the early signs of spring that grew more evident as they approached the Ettenmoors could do much to lighten his mood.

Glancing back at Nerdanel who was riding next to Orodreth a few paces back, Inwir noted her head was bowed slightly and attention was focused on her hands. She’d been quiet most of the morning and he could tell by the look on her face that she was practicing using one of the rings. He wondered which one as his hand crept toward the inner pocket of his leather surcoat.

Inwir hadn’t told anyone of the ring he carried wrapped in a piece of cloth and hidden away. Why, he wasn’t sure. He would have liked to tell Nerdanel but something held him back. Glancing back at her again, he thought he saw Nerdanel’s form flicker briefly, become less substantial. It could have been a trick of the light, for there were a few darker bottomed clouds in the sky above, but he knew it wasn’t. She was using Isilya, trying to gain mastery and knowledge of the accursed ring of the nine.

A frown crossed his face as removed his hand from his surcoat. No, he couldn’t tell Nerdanel, he didn’t want her to know about the ring yet, for she might convince him to let her try to master it and he wasn’t sure if he could refuse her if she asked… No, her use of Isilya concerned him enough; he’d wait until they reached the safety of Imladris and seek the council of…whom? Armith, the eldest and most trusted of the twins counselors still remained at Imladris and was the only one that came to Inwir’s mind, unless Elladan had returned during their absence. Once more Inwir was reminded of the gapping hole that the loss of Radagast had left.

After mulling over a few things in his mind, Inwir abruptly reined in his horse and dismounted. The first few days of travel had been taken at a relatively easy pace to let Yarrow and Naveen recover from their injuries but they had tarried long enough. He looked at everyone as they drew along side.

“From now on in we will ride hard, pressing on until after dusk,” he told everyone letting his gaze linger on Naveen and Yarrow as he began to remove the pack from behind the saddle of his horse. “Can you make it?” he asked.

“Yes Captain, thanks to the Lady Nerdanel,” Yarrow answered with a nod of thanks in the Lady’s direction. Naveen nodded in agreement. Nerdanel also nodded her assent, though she realized that with the harder pace there would be little time for her to practice using the rings she wore.

“Good. We’ll transfer the packs to Radagast’s horse. With luck and speed we should reach the safety of Imladris in a little more than a week.”


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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Nov 10, 2004 8:12 am

When Tempest and her men had departed with Eldarion’s promise of an answer in the morning, there was silence and the only sound was of the wind and the flapping of the canvas canopy. The King stood grave and thoughtful for a long time before speaking his thoughts. “We have no choice. We must fight against this ancient evil. These allies, however, will not last long and will turn on us as soon as that greater enemy is no longer a threat.”

Several men voiced their agreement. Elrohir nodded. “There was no untruth or evasion in what she said,” he assured them. “And she fears this spirit greatly.”

“So, we must join in this alliance,” Folcwine mused. “Is there any preparation we can make other than remaining vigilant and prepared?”

“For certain, with another army to the south besieging Umbar, it is an enormous risk to make ourselves vulnerable now,” Beneshoff said.

“My lord, could we not simply wait and see what this so-called spirit is?” asked Mulrain. “And if he is truly as powerful as this woman claims?”

“And give it that chance to gain the upper hand?” Folcwine retorted with a hint of sarcasm. “T’would be folly to pass up this opportunity to establish our advantage. Treachery or not by this woman. holding the Tower against the spirit’s return is the best strategic move. Certainly better than inaction.”

“And how do you propose to motivate our men to take a Tower which they cannot see?” scoffed Mulrain. “For ‘shrouded in sorcery’ is how it was described to me. An invisible Tower and an ancient spirit! Nay, this Tempest and her army are real enough. They are the force we should be fighting.”

“Have you heard nothing that was said today?” Folcwine snapped, but Eldarion held up his hand to stop their bickering.

“Sire,” came a new voice. “I have dealt with this woman Tempest before, long ago in the days of my youth.” Benoit had moved in the center of the semi-circle, and many expressions of shock and surprise met his admission.

“You have?” asked Eldarion. “Are you certain it is the same woman? Not a daughter or granddaughter?”

“I am certain,” said the old general. “I have been many things in my life, a bard, a spy, a soldier. When I first met the woman, she appeared lovely and vulnerable, in need of help. As any man would, I sought to aid this female in distress. I was completely hoodwinked, my lord. Later, I discovered that she abused other sincere gentlemen for her own wicked purposes, for her fair face hides a black heart.”

“Very wise and ancient you are, General,” said Folcwine. “My father’s father knew you; yet this woman’s face and form are youthful, similar to one of my children. Is it possible by arts and sorcery for anyone to endure the passage of a century and more without effect?”

Benoit sighed and shook his head. “I know little of sorcery and less of women’s arts,” he admitted. “All I can say is that I would trust no word or deed of the woman.”

“She could not be of the Elven kindred,” Eldarion looked to Elrohir for confirmation.

“You are correct,” said the son of Elrond slowly. “She has all the looks of a mortal woman, of a lady of Rohan, but she is not completely mortal.”

“Not mortal yet not Elven?”

“Yes. I cannot say what she is, for I do not know.”

“You cannot say.” Eldarion’s thoughts had taken him far away, and for a moment, he looked pained. Quietly, so that only those closest to him could hear, he said,” It is the same thing you said of another lady.”

Both Elrohir and Benoit knew he meant his lover, Fala. “That lady was not mortal nor elven. Tempest is partly mortal, but…” He stopped and thought for a moment. He had seen something familiar when he looked at her, something slight and amorphous and similar to the delicate veins of silver and gold that laced through Legrace’s aura over and over. “No, I cannot be certain.”

Eldarion raised his left hand and rubbed his eyes slowly before raking his fingers through his hair. “Very well. Let us reflect on this over a meal and tale again in the evening.”

With a return of conversation came a small roar of noise as the men began to get up and move out from the canopy and back to their horses. Elrohir turned to look for Legrace, wondering what she knew of the mysterious Tempest. He had not far to look, for with the Lady Alys following, she came to him from where she had sat on the other side of the canopy. Without words, she embraced him, her arms holding him about the waist and her cheek pressed to his chest.

There in front of dozens of men and their curious eyes, he pushed her away impulsively. Around him as the others moved past he saw smiles and sly looks as the ethereal lady displayed affection far to openly for his comfort. “Not now, my lady,” he said to her in a low voice. “Let us speak privately away from here.”

“Very well,” she said without looking up at him. She then turned and went with the Lady of Rohan out towards where their mounts had been tethered. Elrohir watched after them with a frown for a minute or two before going back to the King and Benoit.
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:57 am

As the grooms helped the Lady Legrace to mount the spirited grey colt she rode, Alys paused and frowned at the young horse. Something familiar stirred her memory but nothing concrete took shape. She stroke the horse’s velvety nose and smiled when he made a little whickering noise. This horse reminded her greatly of the black one they had sent to King Eldarion during the winter. To her expert eye, the colt was obviously from Rohan. Where, though, had an Elf gotten a horse of the Rohirrim? And this colt was the finest of the fine. How had this lady come to possess such a steed?

The subject would have to wait. Although she felt a pressing need to ask the lady about it, Legrace’s stiff demeanor and expressionless face seemed almost frozen. Nay, she would not speak to her now of such mundane things.

As Alys guided her mount Brèagha to follow the colt, she wondered about the odd exchange she had just witnessed. The lady and Elf Lord Elrohir differed from each other so much! Perhaps it was because he was only half-elven and, according to the camp gossip, she was some lofty Elf-Queen from a distant land.

The thoughts of Alys dwelt on this until she noticed that the way they rode between the jagged rocks was unfamiliar. “My lady,” she said in a modulated voice, for she wanted to lessen the jarring impact of the interruption on the lady’s introspection. I think we have ridden in the wrong direction.”

Legrace turned to look at her, and Alys winced to see the sorrow and misery in her eyes. “I would like to speak with this young lady called Tempest,” she said. “You need not accompany me if you do not wish; however, do not fear for your safety if you do.”

Startled by the words, Alys blinked several times and searched for a reply. Were they simply going to ride unannounced and unescorted into the enemy’s camp? Though no coward, the move seemed risky to Alys. Of course, she considered, harming two high-ranking ladies would not advance her cause with the Captains of the West. On the other hand, holding them for ransom was an excellent move. Still, the words of Legrace assured her that she would not be in danger.

“I cannot leave my mount with their grooms, for she is of the Mearas and is too valuable to be left with those I cannot trust. Yet, I shall stay as your companion, lady.” Legrace’s pleased smile warned her from the inside.

“I am glad.”

They continued in silence, each wrapped in her own thoughts. As they approached, sentries stood still and watched them. It reminded Alys of the way a dog would watch something in fascination, head tilted to the side and ears cocked. No one challenged them, but word spread. Soon enough, they found Tempest waiting for them.

“Good afternoon,” said Legrace. “My dear, would you honor us by riding with us to exchange some words in private?”

The woman’s expression was unreadable, but myriad emotions coursed through her. “You honor me with the invitation, lady,” she replied graciously. “Bide a moment as my horse is saddled.”

With a smile and an elegant nod, Legrace turned her colt and led Alys slowly back through the camp. They spoke no word, and Tempest soon joined them as they passed the outskirts of the camp. Both Alys and Tempest now followed as Legrace led them up a gentle rise until they came to a cliff. Before them stretched the rocky plain of Gorgoroth in its ghostly emptiness.

There, the three females gazed out for a moment at the silent landscape highlighted by the afternoon sun. Different as could be and yet the same, really. Hurt, betrayed, and wounded by men, abandoned to live in sorrow, their lives and emotions twisted in pain. So different, very similar, the complex, lovely, strong, sad women sat in silent companionship in the incongruously peaceful place between two armies of men.

“There is nothing for me here,” Legrace said to Tempest. “Only memories that torture me with their bitter sweetness.”
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Postby Tempest » Thu Nov 11, 2004 11:54 am

“There is nothing for me here,” Legrace said to Tempest. “Only memories that torture me with their bitter sweetness.”

”I fear my memories possess all of your bitterness, but none of your sweetness,” Tempest mused, casting her eyes over the plain. ”Mordor never held any sweetness for me. I do not have your temperament, Legrace, or your joy. Suffering has been my gift, and I share it gladly. Mine has been a bitter existence, a boundless sea of pain without the least drop of comfort.”

”And you seek comfort in war? In blood?” Legrace asked gently.

”No. There can be no comfort for me,” Tempest spoke with finality. ”There can only be death. There is only revenge.”

”Ah, but that is not my way. I have no interest in such things. But surely, you know that,” the lady replied.

Tempest suddenly remembered Alys, who had been listening with rapt attention to everything she said. She frowned and glanced at her, tilting her head sideways with slight puzzlement. Why had Legrace brought this woman with her? Who exactly was she? It was apparent that the woman was of Rohan, and this angered Tempest immediately, for above all else, she despised that land. She drew near Legrace, so that Alys could not overhear them, though she could barely conceal the passion in her words.

”These men,” Tempest whispered with sudden viciousness, ”How can you bear to defile yourself with them, when you have known… so much more! How can you stand to remain? Why should the world be remade according to their plans! If nothing else, assist me for your own amusement. We can certainly do a better job, you and I.”

Legrace smiled faintly.
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Sat Nov 27, 2004 8:41 am

Sadness and compassion softened Legrace’s eyes. “Child,” she murmured to herself as she gazed at Tempest. “Child.”

All was still. Only the slightest of breezes stirred as they gazed out upon the emptiness that was Mordor. Never was anything clear-cut, nor was anything merely black and white. Sadness always mingled with joy, and pain always twined itself with love. This woman, this wounded child of chance and ill-fortune, of a mortal woman and a self-important fool who should have known better, existed in a narrow world not of her own making and ever-fortified the shackles that held her.

Legrace had known such creatures before and never had a single one found the way to avoid his doom. Very few had been female, and those had been childless, for the powerful act of creating new life freed women from the invisible bonds of their minds forged by their parents and families. Often after, new bonds were formed, some comforting and some chafing, but all were merely fictional constructs of fears and doubts.

“My dear,” she began gently. “You must realize that this thing that you are fighting for is not what you truly want. Vengeance, as they say, is a dish best savored cold, but in the end it leaves one hungry for more. Hear my words and think on it. If everything you now plan were to come to pass, if all your waking dreams were fulfilled and you sat as a ruler in this place, even as an equal of that pretty king, your heart would still be as wretched as it is now.”

Tempest frowned at her, eyes fiery, but she said nothing as yet.

“My dear child, have you ever held the heart of a good man in your hand with as much care as one would handle a frightened bird? How long has it been since a man has looked at you with deep affection in his eyes? Can you imagine looking at that fair, pretty king and seeing that affection? Would you be able to endure the bliss of having a man know you, know everything about you, the dark as well as the fair, and yet still love and adore you? Of being able to trust him and say anything to him? Of being able to sleep in his arms safely, knowing that you are more precious to him than his own life?”

The words that she said affected Legrace and her compassion for Tempest melted into a deeper melancholy, for her thoughts turned to someone other than the king as she spoke. What the reply would have been remained unknown, for there was a sound, the sound of crunching pebbles, as if by a horse’s hoof.

Tempest wheeled her mount, hand on the hilt of her sword. “Show yourself,” she commanded.

At first, there was nothing. Then, a little crunching of stones and a horse came into view, a big lovely Mearas with a young man of less than twenty riding him.

“Leofric!” cried Alys in shock..

“There is another one,” said Legrace with an irritated edge to her voice.

“Are you a coward that you will not show yourself?” Tempest growled. Her voice was not overloud, but it carried well and was ominous in tone.

Another man on a horse, this one a bit older. Legrace vaguely recognized the some of the unpleasant fat man whom the king permitted in his court.

“Dacius,” said Alys, but she now sounded annoyed rather than surprised.

“By the Void, you mortal men are tiresome creatures,” Legrace snapped, her brows drawn together in a frown and a spark of anger obvious in the flash of her eyes. “How came you to follow us and why?”

The man looked uncertainly at Alys, then Tempest, before raising his eyes cautiously to Legrace. “I am commanded to ensure the safety of the Lady Alys, your majesty.”

“Not by my father!” Alys exclaimed.

“No, by my father.”

With uncharacteristic impatience and bad-temper, Legrace rubbed her hand over her eyes. “Oh, how ridiculous are these creatures!” she said aloud. Then, she glared at Dacius who shrank visibly. “Miss Tempest, these mortals are yours to do with as you will for trespass.”
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sat Jan 01, 2005 11:47 am

Settled together in front of the fire, Elladan’s eyes ranged over those gathered there. In addition to Armith, Morglin, and Curandir, his Noldorin counselors, there were Inwir and Orodreth, Nerdanel and Naveen, Ancalimë and Gilraen. They were rested, well-fed, warm, and comfortable; however, all the words that had been spoken and the tales that had been told were troubling and sat uneasily on their hearts.

“Many troubling visions have I had in recent days,” Gilraen began at his prompting. “These things are not certain to come to pass, but they may. So many troubling things.” She shivered a little, and Ancalimë reached to adjust the shawl around her shoulders.

“It is still no reason for you to undertake so long a journey into uncertain safety,” said Elladan gently but still with authority that made her feel like a child again.

“Lady Gilraen,” began Nerdanel. “Are you able to call upon your visions? Or do they visit you unexpectedly?”

“I cannot control them,” the princess admitted.

“Are you well enough to describe what you saw?” asked Inwir with a kind smile. “Though, of course, we do not wish to make you recall anything painful.”

Nodding, she looked down. “First, I saw… I saw my brother and my uncle. They were fighting with swords.” She looked up at them with a haunted look in her eyes. “They were so angry – furious. Each looked intent on killing the other.”

A heavy silence hung over them. Elladan looked at Armith with a deep frown. Eventually, the counselor spoke. “Was it Elrohir you saw, my lady? Could you be sure?”

“I am sure,” she said decisively. “I cannot tell them apart ‘lest they are next to one another, but he had his silver sword. Thus I recognized him.”

“Was there any indication of their reason for anger or dueling?” continued Armith.

Gilraen paused and pursed her lips, her prow furrowing. “I am not certain.”

“As you said, it was only a vision and not certain to occur,” said Curandir.

“Yes, sir, but it was troubling to witness.” She drew in a breath. “There were other things that I don’t understand, other people I do not know… but then I saw a great evil shape. It slowly filled all the land with blood and pain. Not a man or an elf or any other creature I could name, but vast and cruel.”

“It is the Dark Lord returned,” Inwir muttered, looking grim and pale.

“Nay, it is not,” said Ancalimë immediately. “The messages from the King say that it is a new and younger evil and that he and my uncle are certain that it is not the return of Sauron.”

“How can they be certain?” asked Morglin.

”That I cannot say, but absolutely certain they are.”

“Often in the past has that evil Dark Lord deceived men and elves.”

Nerdanel, who had been thinking quickly as she listened suddenly stood up. “I shall have my palantír fetched. The lady Gilraen may look into it, for it will no doubt aid her in controlling her visions.”

For a moment, the elves all looked at each other. Curandir shrugged and Armith nodded. “Very well,” said Elladan. “Will it serve to sit here with us? Or must it be in private?”

“We shall see,” said Nerdanel as she went to speak to one of the servants to fetch the Seeing Stone.

Elladan got up and went over to sit beside his nieces. “My dear,” he said, taking Gilraen’s hands. “You are not to tax yourself.”

“Uncle,” she said with a breathtaking smile that so reminded him of her mother that it left him momentarily breathless. “I am well, and I shall ride south with you, to be with my brother, in three days time.”

The words were spoken with such surety that he wondered if she had seen that as well. “If the healers give you leave,” chided Ancalimë, but her voice was quiet and it seemed that she too was aware that it would occur whatever they did.

“Here.” Nerdanel approached, so Elladan got up and allowed her to sit with his niece. The lady from Valinor slipped the stone from its cloth wrapping and set it into the woman’s hands. “You will be able to control it because you have permission to use it. Without you are the rightful owner, it requires great strength to bend the stone to your will.”

Wide-eyed, Gilraen nodded, then she took a breath and turned her attention to the palantír. Within flickered a blue light, and she smiled. The others in the room watched silently as a look of bliss passed over her features. Then, she sighed and looked deeper.

The blue light grew and was a flame, and it was deeper now, a lovely deep blue like a twilight sky, and yet there were pretty little silver and gold streaks of lightning in it, but lightning that didn’t fade or flash, that merely glowed. It reminded her almost of veins of mithril and gold within the earth. Fascinated, she leaned closer and stared at the exquisite milky rose-colored light that infused the dark blue, for never had she seen anything so lovely.

Time passed slowly and still the lay sat staring into the palantír. Some of them recharged their glasses with the deep red wine that they were drinking, and Elladan went over to talk to Armith and Curandir in low voices. “Do you think it wise to take her South?” he asked with an anxious frown. “She has so recently been ill.”

“I do not like it,” Curandir permitted. “I feel that she needs to go, but I can’t imagine her having the strength for the long journey.”

Armith stroked his chin. “No,” he said slowly. “She will make the journey.” Looking at them gravely, he said, “For how much worse it would be to leave her here to fester?”

A sharp cry interrupted them and Elladan dashed over to Gilraen. The others were up now, and Nerdanel covered the stone with the cloth. “Vile, unnatural, selfish creature!” cried the Lady of Gondor in her passion. “Oh, how cruel and thoughtless!”

“Gilraen! What is it?” asked Ancalimë, gripping her sister’s hands.

In agony, she looked at her sister, and there were tears in her eyes. “My brother is held in thrall by some capricious consort of darkness.”
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Postby Tempest » Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:02 pm

"What would you have me do with them, Legrace? Surely I cannot kill them, or I would risk the anger of your 'pretty king' and then all would come to naught," Tempest said darkly, though she did not lower her sword as she gazed imperiously at the men before her. "As if such men had any hope of protecting you from me, if I wished you harm," Tempest snapped at Alys.

Leofric stepped back slightly, but motioned to the lady Alys. "Lady, please return with us. It is not wise for you to..." he began, but Tempest cut him off.

"On the contrary, I wish the lovely woman of Rohan no harm, and no harm shall come to her in my camp. But, if it's all the same to you Legrace, next time come alone. I haven't the patience to deal with such...people." She waved her hand, a gesture that clearly dismissed them from her presence. They dared not protest further, for the lady's face had become still and her eyes flashed dangerously.

"And Legrace, about what you said earlier. There's not a man alive who could tempt me. It is a shallow comfort, to be held in a man's arms. Love hasn't the power to last. There are stronger things. You, above all should know that. You choose Love, and I choose Hate, and we are both of us alone. Alone in the end. What possible difference does it make? Think about it. Think long and hard. I'll be waiting for you."
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Postby Naveen » Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:10 pm

Ancalimë was alarmed by the anguish spilling from Gilraen’s eyes and the fact that her sister’s hands felt as cold as ice. “Gilraen,” she said softly when there was no response from the stricken girl. “What did you see?”

“I saw…Eldarion,” the words came haltingly from Gilraen’s lips as she stood up from the table. She was trembling, not only from the distress she felt about what she had seen in the palantír, but from the effort it took to hold on to herself. She felt herself slipping away. Ancalimë’s face, though only a few feet from her own, was receding and growing indistinct. It was as if she viewed her sister standing at the far end of a narrow, dark tunnel and darkness was closing in around her. “A woman was with him. She is tall and striking…” then her eyes lost focus and the shawl slipped from her shoulders and fell to the floor unnoticed as her slim body slowly started rocking back and forth.

“…one thought lost…look northward…” Gilraen murmured in a low, sing-song voice before slumping forward. Ancalimë caught her sister and Elladan, who was by her side in a few swift steps, gently scooped up the light form of the unconscious lady in his arms. He carried Gilraen to the closest couch, laid her gently on the cushions and brushed back strands of hair that had fallen across her face, the darkness of the hair standing out in stark contrast against the pale skin beneath. “She has rarely fainted after one of her visions,” Ancalimë said quietly, her voice filled with concern. “I fear gazing into the palantír have caused undue stress. But,” she noted with relief after feeling Gilraen’s cheek and brow. “There is no fever and her breathing is normal. I think she will recover shortly.”

Naveen rose from her chair by the fire and took a step forward. Caught off-guard in the seemingly safe environ, she glanced at Inwir who was closest to her as he laid a restraining hand on her shoulder. “What just happened?” she asked.

“It was one of the visions she was talking about earlier.” Inwir answered quietly, a frown crossing his features when he noticed how the thief held her goblet as if it were a weapon. Did Naveen, as did many, fear what she did not understand? “There is nothing to be afraid of.”

Naveen looked across the room. Nerdanel was placing a coverlet over Gilraen as Ancalimë sat on the edge of the couch and Elladan knelt on the floor next to her. The youngest sister of the King appeared to be resting and her face, though pale was relaxed and composed.

“I wasn’t afraid,” there was a slightly defiant tone in her voice, but Inwir saw that she had relaxed her grip on the wine glass. “It just took me by surprise, that’s all. I’ve never been around anyone…” she was about to say ‘anyone who was mad’ but stopped and added lamely, “…who had visions.” Looking up at Inwir and seeing his frown she muttered, “Sorry, I guess it’s something I’m not accustomed to.”

“Gilraen is not mad if that’s what you’re thinking,” Inwir said, guessing what Naveen had been about to say by the look on her face. “It is a gift.” He rubbed his chin while thinking how to explain something he had little knowledge of when Nerdanel walked over to the pair, a worried look on her face. “I thought looking into the palantír would help,” she began and then stopped when Inwir said, “Do not blame yourself.”

He reached for a glass and filled it with wine from the bottle that sat on a nearby table. “I don’t think there was any harm done,” he said as he handed Nerdanel the glass.

“No, she appears to be fine. Ancalimë says it is only a swoon and she will recover shortly.” Thanking Inwir, she looked at the red liquid thoughtfully as she swirled it slowly in the glass before taking a sip. “One thought lost and northward, what do you think it means?”

“To tell the truth, I don’t know. It puzzles me, for our plans are to travel south, for that is where the threat lies... Perhaps Gilraen will be able to tell us when she awakes.”

Armith walked over to the trio, catching the last bit of what they were talking about. “And south you should still go, especially in light of what Gilraen said earlier.”

“Do you mean when she spoke of her earlier vision?” Inwir asked.

“Yes,” Armith glanced over at Elladan. He was talking quietly with Ancalimë as he kept vigil at her side. There was a worried look in his eyes as he watched the prince whom he had watched grow to manhood over the years he had lived at Imladris, first as counsel to Elrond and now to his sons. He knew how close the twin sons of Elrond were. “I had planned to speak of this to Elladan later tonight, after the King’s sisters had retired. Will you join us later?” He lowered his voice even more and Naveen could barely hear what he said to Inwir, but she thought he said something about receiving a message while they were in the north from someone called Benoit concerning the King, Elladan’s brother Elrohir and a woman. She didn’t hear anything further because her attention was drawn toward the couch.

“Don’t fuss over me, I’m well,” Gilraen said softly as her eyes slowly focused on the pair gathered at her side. She started to sit up but Ancalimë laid a gentle, but firm, hand on her shoulder to restrain her. “You should rest.”

“I will, later. I promise. Please, I must tell you something, before the memory blurs.” Her grey eyes, so like her mothers, were clear and showed no signs of the confusion and fatigue that normally followed a vision. Ancalimë reluctantly allowed Gilraen to sit up. Gilraen waited patiently while her sister rearranged the coverlet across her legs and even took a sip of wine that Elladan handed her, before continuing. “I saw someone…a woman…in my vision.”

“Was it the woman you saw in the palantír?” Elladan asked taking her hand.

“I don’t think so. I couldn’t see her face…” Gilraen closed her eyes for a moment trying to recapture the image she’d seen in her mind. The woman had been walking away from Gilraen toward an impenetrable darkness. There was something ahead of the woman, but the darkness was so complete that Gilraen couldn’t make out what it was. The only thing she could see was the woman’s form growing more indistinct. Once, before she disappeared, the woman had looked back, but by this time she was too far into the darkness for Gilraen to see who she was. “But something about her was familiar,” Gilraen added as she opened her eyes and looked around the room.

At that same moment, across the room by the fireplace, Nerdanel, seeing that Naveen’s attention was drawn elsewhere, glanced over her shoulder. Gilraen sat up straighter and squeezed her uncle’s hand. “It was the Lady Nerdanel.”


~
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Mon Jan 17, 2005 1:59 pm

A long uneasy silence passed during which Legrace remained motionless. The woman was as different from her as golden sunlight from a silver moonbeam. Within her was no capacity to hate, and thus never would she understand this mortal emotion. Had Tempest ever felt love? If not, then they truly had no common point of reference in the matter. Deep compassion for the woman flooded her.

Eventually, she looked at the three mortals: Alys, Leofric, and Dacius. “It would be best if you saw that these lads made it safely back to camp,” she said to Alys. With a hint of humor, she regarded the man and the boy. “Tell those who sent you that the one whom you were sent to protect was the one who protected you in the end. Farewell.”

When she turned away and gazed out upon the ruined plain, Alys rode a little closer. “Must I go from you, lady?” she asked quietly.

For a moment, the lady did not reply. “That man is in love with you,” was what she finally said.

Alys felt as if the breath had been knocked from her. “Who?” she whispered. “Dacius? Not Leofric! He is my cousin!”

“I would not refer to that infant as a man,” said Legrace with a little chuckle.

Alys glanced over at them and was glad they were speaking too softly to be overheard. “Are you certain?”

“Of course. It is apparent. Go with them now, but remember it is very great the power you have over him.”

“I shall go if you wish it, lady, only…” She bit her lip and nearly reached out to touch the other woman’s arm. “What message should I give to the Lord of Rivendell? He will grieve your absence should we return without you.”

It was the wrong thing to say, Alys saw immediately. Tears filled Legrace’s eyes and she gritted her teeth. “Go now!” she hissed, and thunder rumbled ominously and the setting sun was shrouded. Brèagha’s ears flattened back against her head and she danced sideways away from the grey colt.

“I am sorry, my lady,” said Alys quickly, then turned her mount and nodded to the others. Together, the three of them set out at a quick canter for the safety of their own camp.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:16 pm

.

Night was just falling as Alys and her escorts reached the first of the sentries. “Lady Alys, you are requested to go directly to the king,” one of the men said once the small party had been positively identified. “And the Lady Legrace as well.”

“She is not with us,” she said to the sentries, then looked worriedly at Dacius and Leofric as they continued on into the camp. “I daresay that the king will be angry that we left her.”

“That will be on my shoulders,” said Dacius with a sigh. “For it certainly fell to my responsibility to see that both you ladies were escorted. But it is the Lord Elrohir whom I think will be most angry.”

The thought made them all uneasy, for the Elf Lord was an intimidating presence even when he remained silently in the background. Soon enough, too soon, they turned their mounts over to the grooms and went, not without trepidation, to the tent where the king waited. Upon admittance, they saw that the Lord Elrohir and General Benoit were sitting with him: the three men were sipping wine and talking together in low voices.

When they entered, it was the Elf Lord who stood up. “Where is the Lady Legrace?” he asked sternly. The three of them were descended from kings and queens and were all stout of heart and strong of nerve; however, each one of them was stunned, for the fierce Noldorin blood within him had been stirred.

“She sent me away,” answered Alys, unable to meet his eyes.

“Why? What happened?”

“Wait a bit, wait a bit.” Now, King Eldarion got up and came over to them. “My dear lady, pray, be seated and take a glass of wine. Gentlemen, I bid you to do the same.” He arched an eyebrow at Elrohir and then moved to see that the lady, still in her riding gear and spurs, was comfortable before resuming his own seat. With immense effort, his uncle did the same.

“Now, tell us what occurred, Lady Alys,” continued Eldarion kindly. “You were observed leaving here with the Lady Legrace after the parley.”

“Yes, my lord. The lady was very distressed, so I accompanied her. She wanted to speak with the woman Tempest. I tried to dissuade her, but she said she would go with or without me, and I thought I should stay with her.” She purposely avoided looking at the Elf Lord, and she instead looked only at the kind but grave face of Eldarion.

“So, you went to find Tempest?”

“Yes, and the three of us rode together to a quiet place where they spoke together in private. I could not hear everything, my lord, but they spoke of strange things. Then they moved away and spoke together in quiet voices.”

“Can you tell us what you heard?” King Eldarion encouraged.

“Very little, and it made not much sense. My Lady Legrace said that Mordor had only bittersweet memories for her and nothing else, whereas Tempest said that all was bitter for her but not at all sweet. The talk continued thus for many a long minute, with my lady speaking of exquisite love and happiness, and that Tempest speaking of hate and vengeance.”

“Had you any sense that they knew each other before?” asked Benoit. Till now he had remained silent; indeed, she had almost forgotten his presence.

“No, sir. It seemed that they were strangers who… knew each other by reputation. That is all.”

“Well, then. What next?” prompted the king.

“Well, my two guards were detected and exposed.” She indicated Dacius and Leofric. “My lady was angry. She told Tempest to – well, I don’t recall. To execute them or imprison them.”

“She told her to do what she would with us,” volunteered Leofric.

“Yes, of course,” said Alys, flushing.

“And then?”

“Well… Tempest said she could do nothing for fear of alienating you, my lord, or her new allies. Then she spoke quiet words with my lady before departing. After that, I spoke a little with the Lady Legrace. She was deeply distressed and sent us away in haste.”

“And you left her there? Alone?” Eldarion turned to frown at Dacius.

“Forgive me, sire, if I did wrong,” said the man with calm resolve. “I was charged with seeing that the Lady Alys was safe, and I have done so. The Elf Queen spoke to us very rough and belittled us as if we were only pups in her eyes, and I truly believe that is all she saw. For my part, I would have sent the Lady Alys with Leofric and attended the other lady, but I don’t think she would have stood it, and in her anger, she was particularly fearsome. Thus, I come here now.”

“So, you left a lady alone and unprotected,” said Eldarion flatly.

“I did, sire.”

“For pity’s sake!” exclaimed Alys. “He had no choice! Lady Legrace would not endure his presence and sent thunder down to hurry us along away from her.”

A little chuckle sounded from Elrohir. “Yes, I think it is safe to say that no fault lies with Captain Dacius tonight,” he remarked. “For that lady has no need of protection of any kind and occasionally chafes at the good will of mortal men.”

“Sir?” asked Leofric. “I wanted to know how that Elf Queen got such a horse. For her mount is Stigontral gone gray, is he not? I should know that colt anywhere! He was black when he was sent to Gondor, and now he is curiously gray, yet he is the same colt.”

A deep, malignant silence settled over the group: Eldarion was staring at his uncle without speaking. The horrible truth had at last come together in his mind and there was no denying it now. Nothing seemed to come between them, and the silence stretched, reaching a horrible length in a minute, and then two, and finally three. “I must speak with Lord Elrohir now,” Eldarion said in a coldly formal voice. “Please leave us for now.”

At first there were a few seconds of hesitation. Dacius was the first to bow; he took Alys by the arm to escort her and glanced at Leofric who bowed as well, looking confused, and went with them. Benoit hesitated longer, wishing to stay and needing to know what Eldarion knew, what was said between the two.

“You too, Ben,” said the king, and there was no option. The old spymaster made his bow and departed after the others. Alone, then, Eldarion still stared at Elrohir. “You think I am some kind of fool, it seems.”

“By no means,” sighed Elrohir. “You suffered much when the Lady Fala left, and I sought to protect you from more.”

The young king swore blackly and shook his head. “You have lied to me.”

“I have spoke no untruth and have deceived you only by omission and only to protect you.”

“Protect me??” Eldarion snapped, then laughed: a sharp, unpleasant sound. “By the Valar, Elrohir, you are a vile creature. She loved me – do you understand? She lived with me, shared my bed, almost might have been my Queen. And you took her from me.”

“It is not so. I did not meet her until after she had left you. I knew it would divide us; thus I hid the truth from you.”

With a snort of disgust, the king went to take up his wine glass and swallowed the contents in one quick gulp, then poured another glass and tossed that back as well. “What sort of woman would do such a thing? Why did she come to me in disguise? For certain, she could have seduced me as easily – far more easily, to be sure – as she is now. Is she some sorceress? Is that how she changed her appearance and the color of the horse? I have never heard of elves leaving one man and taking another, I though you mated for life. By elven custom, she is mine, you know, until my death.”

“It would be true if either of you was an elf,” began the Elf Lord slowly. “That lady is no elf. She is of the immortal race of the Blessed Ones from across the sea. I cannot say she is not wicked according to the judgment of men and elves; however, she did love you very sincerely and still does. It was she who gave us the warning of the armies of the enemy. It was she who told us of this evil creature who raised the dead. And it was she who told that the Army of Dead would not long trouble our brethren in the North. She fretted for your sisters because you did. Do you not see that she holds you in dear affection?”

All that he said was true and made sense. It gave Eldarion pause, and he turned it over in his mind. Then, he shook his head. “She shared my bed those months, and now she shares yours. It is too much.” He turned and fixed Elrohir with a look of cold hatred. “You will go from here, back to Imladris. You are no longer welcome in Minas Anor and will have no contact with Ancalimë and Gilraen.”

Elrohir paled and his eyes grew wide. “Eldarion… with this dark threat that we are facing, this is too drastic. Let me go away for a week and then we shall speak again.”

“No, you are to go now and never to return. You have made your choice and so now have I. Go with your faithless and cruel lady, and I wish you joy of her.”

Still stunned by the starkness of this pronouncement, Elrohir blinked. He had known Eldarion all his life as well as Elessar his father, and Arathorn his father, and many others before: this was no idle threat but a punishment and a ruling that he meant to keep. “My dear nephew, you seek to punish me, which I understand, but in doing so, it is really yourself and your sisters whom you are harming, as well as your people. If I leave this place now, I will not return. You must realize that you have not the ability to defeat this powerful evil without me. Thus, I shall depart at dawn, and you will have the chance to change your mind before then.”

“I will not change my mind.”

“Very well.” Elrohir came to stand before him, and the two men looked into each other’s eyes: Eldarion’s full of anger and hurt, Elrohir’s full of sorrow and regret. “Unlike your mother, I have chosen the fate of the elves, so I shall not see her again. It well may be that you and I shall never look upon one another again in this world or any other. I say now, as my last words to you, that nothing – no woman, no army, no evil – can ever come between us. For ever and beyond the Timeless Halls, you will be my beloved nephew and I shall recall you always with love in my heart.”

The king did not waver. “Farewell, uncle. I wish you no ill.”

“Farewell, Eldarion. May the Valar keep you safe.” With these words, Elrohir departed.



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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:40 am

Twilight was falling in Mordor. A cold, harsh wind began to blow, and it carried on it a metallic taste. Few nocturnal creatures lived here, and only the sentries and outpost of the King’s army were stirring. A lone horseman made his way from the plain up towards the Morgul Vale. He rode slowly but at an even pace and made no indication of having heard the sentries who challenged him.

In the light of their torches, they could see it was the blue shrouded lady riding side-saddle on her grey horse. They knew her by sight of course, the lady of the Elf Lord Elrohir, the one called the Elf Queen. Accustomed as they were to seeing her without an escort, they allowed her to pass and spoke no other word to her. As night and darkness deepened, she moved silently past the camps of the men, up into the high pass that would take her through the Mountains of Shadow and out of Mordor.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Jan 23, 2005 10:44 am

-



Elrohir left the King’s tent and went back towards his own, obviously deep in thought; however, Benoit approached him before he entered, for it could be a delicate situation if the Lady Legrace were within. “Tell me, mellon,” he said quietly.

Elrohir looked at him with brows raised and a sigh. “Well, Ben, it appears we must say farewell,” was what he said as he lead his ancient friend inside. The lamps had been lit, but there was no one else there.

“Farewell?”

“I am banished and must depart from here and not return.”

“Banished?” repeated Benoit, stunned. He sank into one of the chairs. “But why? He knows that the Lady Legrace was his Fala?”

“Yes. He blames me for taking her away from him, for stealing a lover from the warmth of his bed.” Elrohir sat as well. “It is to be expected that it hurt him, but I did not think it would be this serious.”

“Did you tell the king that you have not laid a hand upon her in that way?”

Elrohir’s eyes narrowed at the wily old spymaster. “You see a lot,” he remarked noncommittally. “No, but it would matter little, even if he believed it. I cannot blame him, really, though I wish he could have seen past pain and pride to what really mattered.”

The old general sat silently for a moment, hardly able to believe what he was hearing. “He cannot mean it. Not now, especially not now. We need you with us, lady or not.” He heaved a sigh. “I shall speak to him.”

“No. If he finds out that you knew as well, your punishment might be worse. Besides, he will need you with him when I am gone.” The Elf Lord shook his head. “No, I shall send Elladan to him, and Curandir. He can have no opposition to them, and they have not the temperament to put up with any nonsense.”

A long silence passed between them. “Where will you go? Imladris?”

”Yes, for a time. The Valar know what is going to happen, so I shall say no more than that. I do need to ask a favor of you, Ben.”

“What is it?”

“I must go at dawn. If Legrace does not return by then, will you pass my message to her?”

“Of course.”

“Tell her that I must go to Imladris, and tell her why, the truth. I shall wait there for her,”

Benoit hesitated: for certain, Elrohir would be better off without her! He knew however that whether he gave the message or not would make little difference. He alone could not hope to match that woman and her sorcery; however, he hoped that with the aid of Elladan and the Elves of Imladris, whom he had contacted in secret, they could thwart her and break whatever control she had over Elrohir. “I shall tell her when I see her, my friend.”

“Thank you.” Their eyes met, knowing, keen eyes, and the unspoken between them didn’t matter. “I shall need to prepare for my journey. Will you aid me, then, in gearing up?”

“For sure. Shall I have some vittles for the road fetched for you?”

“Aye, and some of that fine red wine, if you can.”

When the old man had gone off, Elrohir began to gather his belongings and pack his saddlebags. He wondered about Legrace’s belongings. Should he take them as well? Or leave them for her return? Considering it, he picked up her little mandolin and turned it over in his hands, examining it.

“My lord,” someone was whispering outside. “My Lord Elrohir.”

”Who is there?” he asked, setting down the musical instrument and going to open the flap. In the lamplight, he was surprised to see the pinched, worried face of the Princess of Rohan. “Why, Lady Alys, have you any word from my lady?”

“No, sir, none. But… but…There is something I did not tell the king. I thought it was only for your ears, my lord.”

“Please sit down,” he said politely though his mind was racing. “Do not be nervous, my dear. I know the Lady Legrace quite well and nothing you say will make me angry at you.” Relaxing, taking a breath, he eased into his Sight and looked inside her. The poor, lovely woman had suffered greatly and was bursting with love, passion, indignation, pain, loneliness… and something more. Concern, affection…

“My lord, forgive me for what I must say, but I think you have hurt that lady badly.”

“I?” he asked in shock.

“Yes, my lord. She was terribly distraught. When she sent me away, I begged her to give me a message for you, for I knew you would want one. When I spoke of you, though, she… she wept. She wept real tears and then called upon the thunder to send us away. She was not angry at Dacius and Leofric, you must realize. Those two could not anger one such as her. No, my lord, it was you who had hurt her and made her angry, I’m sorry to say. Only you could have done it, for she loves you.”

For the first few minutes, he sat staring at her. The words she spoke were the absolute truth as she knew it. After such a short acquaintance with Legrace, could she really know..? He got up and turned away, started to pace. Women had instincts about such things, he knew, and they often saw things differently than men. “My dear lady, can you tell me where she is now?”

“I do not know, but I would tell you if I did,” she assured him.

With a nod, he turned back. “I am leaving at dawn to look for her. If, by chance, you see her after I have departed, will you pass the word that she should come to me in Imladris, for I shall wait there for her?”

“Imladris?” she repeated.

“I mean Rivendell. She may find me there.”

“My Lord Elrohir,” called a man from outside.

Someone else? I am the most popular man in this camp, he said to himself as he went to the tent flap. “Yes?”

“My lord, I have a message for you from Lieutenant Hailek at the valley outpost.”

“Hailek? I can’t say that I know him. What says he?”

“With the lieutenant’s compliments, he wanted you to know that your lady as passed safely beyond their outpost but refused any escort. He says, though, that he worries for the safety of any lady traveling alone and asks if they should go with her even though she desires it not.”

“She had passed his outpost?” repeated Elrohir slowly, a terrible feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. Had Legrace left him? Had he lost her forever as well? “Which outpost is that?”

“Western side of the Morgul Vale, my lord. Going to Ithilien.”






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Postby Tempest » Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:19 pm

There are things that can exist only in one’s mind; visions that can never be realities, yet for which men will sacrifice their lives and the lives of those they love to attain. The problem was, these visions of the world often conflicted with one another, and so war continued and blood would be shed until the end of time.

The way Tempest saw it, everyone’s vision would fail in the end. The spirit would never be able to rule supreme; he would always be challenged by some thread of goodness somewhere. The Mouth of Sauron would never have the power he sought, for he was too weak and would ever be a pawn, a mere spokesman for a greater evil. The orcs and trolls would never be free, for they had not the intelligence nor will to be anything other than slaves. The elves would never find the beauty they desired, and so would abandon Middle Earth to seek light among the Undying Lands. The kings of Gondor and Rohan would never have peace, for the evil in men’s hearts would ever be present. There would always rise another dark lord to threaten their lands.

Yet all of these had hope. All of these clung stubbornly to their own vision of what the world could be.

She could add her father’s vision to them all, and how his vision had failed him in the end. She had been glad to hear of his fall and she had hoped he suffered much. It had been long since she had spoken his name. Indeed, she wished to give him no power, and when she had been victorious, she would make certain his name received none of her glory.

But a thought bothered her now, ever since she had seen the look in Legrace’s eyes, and the way the woman’s hand had touched her shoulder so gently. Legrace would not be easily won. No, indeed, it went against her very nature. Hatred or anger could not drive her. It would take cunning on the part of Tempest to twist her to her will. If she could be twisted at all.

Still, there had been that moment, when the tears had sprung to her eyes…

Tempest gazed away toward the East, her face thoughtful and intense. Perhaps Legrace had already helped her more than she knew. Her entanglement in the affairs of Gondor’s king could have lasting fruit, if Tempest played her cards well enough.

Suddenly, she felt a presence, not unfamiliar to her, though out of place here among men. She spun around with a glare and a snarl. ”Kylab! I told you not to follow me here! The men of the West will be alarmed by your presence!”

”It is dark,” the deep voice said gruffly. ”I will not be seen.”

”Fool! They are not blind! Of course you will be seen!” she snapped.

”Then let me be seen. It seems fitting enough for the Queen of Mordor to travel in the company of trolls. Unless, of course, she has changed her ways as her power has grown.” There was a hint of bitterness in his tone that stayed Tempest’s angry retort. Her eyes narrowed slightly and she drew nearer to him, until she could hear the heavy breathing.

”What is the matter? Why have you come?”

”You never wished to free us, did you.” It was more of statement than a question.

”What do you mean?” she demanded.

”I know who you are. I know what you are. The daughter of Sharku will have her revenge, at the expense of everyone.”

Tempest drew a deep breath. ”You’re wrong,” she whispered.

”Am I? You speak with animals, and you have the ageless beauty of the Eldar. You are not of their kind.”

”You’re wrong.” she said again. ”I am mortal, and I do wish to free you. Only, there must be blood shed before there can be freedom.”

”Whose blood? The blood of orcs and trolls? You are no different from your father then!” he shouted, and his voice boomed across the plains. Before Tempest could even think of a reply, Kylab had crossed the few steps between them and seized her around the waist, lifting her into the air. She felt his strong hands around her throat and waist begin to squeeze her slowly. This was not the friend she knew. Something was wrong with him, something deeply wrong.

”Kylab,” her voice faltered. ”Kylab! You’re killing me!”

”We’ll see if you’re mortal or not!” the voice came, though this time it was higher and sounded nothing like him.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:15 am

.


Along with Inwir and Curandir, Elladan sat with ancient Armith in a private study, and the dark seriousness of the legendary Noldo’s face alarmed him. “We have a private message from General Benoit, who is with Eldarion and Elrohir,” he said slowly. “It came two days ago.”

“Ben?” asked Elladan, for he had known the man for well over a century. “What does he say?”

“I think it is best that you hear his words.’ Clearing his throat, Armith began to read in a voice without inflection. At first, there were some facts about the position of the army, military information about their mission to Mordor, and other essential information. The general wrote well but with very concise sentences and few wasted words. And then:

“I have little time for niceties, so I shall be blunt in what I have to say. A charming
lady came to Minas Anor claiming to be Lady Fala of Eroll, whom I know to have
died over five years ago, but she seduced King Eldarion and held great sway over
him. He installed her in his private apartment as his mistress and meant to take
her as Queen. I cannot say she caused any mischief; in truth, she seemed to make
him happy, though her influence over him was pronounced and caused unrest.
Eventually, there was some unpleasantness, for she was unpopular with the people,
and she left him.

Now comes the difficult part of my story. As she departed the Citidel, she happened
upon Elrohir, who had just arrived, and I believe she decided that she liked him better.
He has stated from the beginning that she uses no sorcery with him. It is hard to
believe him, but he remains steadfast in this assertion, and I wonder if it could be true.
He says she is not a mortal woman, nor an elf, nor any type of creature he has ever
seen before, which makes me rightfully uneasy. Some weeks she went away and
then returned in a new guise, too beautiful to be described, claiming to be Elrohir’s
lady, Lady Legrace from Valinor. For certain, no one but I has suspected that she
was the same lady; mercifully, the King has no idea.

Forgive the next, for I must speak coarsely: now, she shares his quarters and his bed
though they are certainly not lovers in the physical sense. As before, she causes no
mischief and has, indeed, aided us in some aspects of information and intelligence;
Elrohir continues to assert that she has not enchanted him.

The simple truth is that I cannot imagine any man resisting such a powerful sorceress.
Though she has no interest in looking at an old man, even I have felt the reflection of
her seductive ways. I truly believe that no man is safe with such a creature, and though
she seems to have caused no harm, I am deeply suspicious and afraid. Her motives are
totally unknown to me.

I await your advice in this matter and caution you against the Lady Legrace if you choose
to come, for she is completely disarming.”



A long, incredulous silence followed. “Lady Legrace?” said Inwir slowly. “I have not heard that name. It is long since I have met him, but - has Elrohir a lady of his own?”

“No.” Elladan got up to pace to the window and stood looking out on the darkened gardens.

Curandir shook his head at them. “Eldarion and Elrohir would never fight to the death over a woman – or over anything. It’s ridiculous.”

“It may not be so ridiculous,” said Armith as he considered it. “Jealousy and possessiveness are powerful things, and for this woman to leave the bed of one for that of the other… Still, as different as they are, like a stag and an eagle, it’s hard to even imagine a woman liking both of them.”

“The Lady Gilraen’s vision may not come to pass,” said Inwir, “but it may also be a harbinger of the discord that will come between them.”

“I can’t imagine Elrohir losing his head over a woman,” continued Curandir, for Elladan was certainly the rash and hot-headed of the twins. “And it is impossible that he could be enchanted lest he knew it, not with his Sight.”

“You are right there,” said Elladan, turning back to them. “If he says she has not used her sorcery on him, then we may rely on it being the truth.”

They all looked at him with some sympathy. How difficult it must be for him to hear such news about his brother whose life he shared!

“Could this woman, this sorceress, be the one that Gilraen saw in the palantír?” asked Inwir. “She spoke of the King being held in thrall. What could that mean. I wonder?”

“That she enchanted him?” mused Curandir. “And gave him up because she liked Elrohir better?”

Inwir disagreed. “Nay, for the General’s letter says that she left the King before she happened upon Elrohir.”

“There is something that no one has mentioned,” said Armith slowly. “Benoit says that Elrohir has taken this lady into his bed but has not known her as a husband.” He looked around at them gravely. “It well may be that he will do so, and thus she will be his wife, and he will have chosen the fate of the Elves.”

The import of his words hit them profoundly; no one looked at Elladan. To the children of Elrond had been imparted a gift: to choose to be counted among their Elven ancestors or to accept the Gift of Ilúvatar and become mortal men. The Lady Arwen, their sister, had already departed Arda as a mortal woman, but as of yet, Elladan and Elrohir had delayed their choice.

Eventually, Elladan cleared his throat and broke the silence. “Perhaps Lady Nerdanel could help us. If this Lady Legrace is indeed from Valinor, then she may know her. That, and Ancalimë must be told.”

“Hearing about her brother’s mistress may hurt her,” cautioned Curandir.

“It may, but she is the Steward of Annúminas, and what concerns the King concerns her,” said Elladan with finality.



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Postby Tempest » Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:37 am

There was nothing she could say to stop him now; he had squeezed the breath from her, effectively silencing her and her pleas. His eyes were glazed and large, like he was suffering a sickness of the mind, and she guessed quickly what had happened and what she must do.

A few more seconds, and she would be dead.

What caused her blood to run cold was the fact that Kylab easily could have killed her in one crushing blow, but this determination to kill her slowly, to give her a chance to look into his eyes and know who it was that killed her beyond the mask of her friend, created in her an anger almost beyond endurance.

She couldn’t move, not even to reach her dagger, so tight was his vice-grip around her. Tempest’s head began to throb, and before her vision a red curtain seemed to fall. Every muscle in her body seemed to scream, and her mind screamed as well, but there was no air to voice it.

There was no air.

But then above the drumming of her ears, she thought she heard something else, and she tried with all her might to focus on the sound. She knew it, like the low hissing of a snake, a sound so soft, yet so familiar.

The red before her was fading to shadows, but there was movement all around, objects that twisted and glided, not attached to the monstrous form that held her. It was beautiful, like a dance, and Tempest watched with a dull fascination, amused by the strangeness of death. It was not at all as she had imagined it would be.

Suddenly, Kylab flinched slight, just enough to let her slip and allow her burning lungs to fill again with the cold night’s air. With blinding pain, Tempest’s vision returned, along with her reason. She had just enough breath to utter a feeble cry before the troll returned to his crushing hold.

”Don’t…” she croaked. ”Don’t kill him…”

Her protest was drowned out by the loud commotion of her guards as they sought to disentangle her from the troll’s grasp. His blood was flowing freely now, and the ground was stained black. The guards found it difficult to approach the creature because of it, for one of them had slipped in the blood and was almost smashed by the troll’s heavy feet. The only thing that they could do was fire arrows repeatedly at the hulking frame in hope of bringing him down, or at least loosening his grip on the Queen of Mordor.

Tempest’s entire camp was astir, so great was the bellowing of the wounded troll, and so great was the fear of Tempest’s guards. Beyond the ring of fire, though, the night seemed hushed, as if waiting for the inevitable. Death hung on the air like a heavy cloak, and Mordor itself seemed to hold its breath, even as Tempest fought for hers.



(will finish later....I need to go now)
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:32 pm

~



Having left the camp before dawn, midday found Elrohir and his lieutenant, Culandun, a high ranking Noldo, just coming to the crossroads where they could choose to go to Osgiliath or turn northwards. The cold, spring rain on this gray day reflected the Elf Lord’s thoughts and mood perfectly, and there they stopped. “Here we must part, old friend,” said Elrohir.

“Why? Do you not go on to Imladris?” Culandun asked in surprise.

“Yes...,” Elrohir said slowly, considering. “I shall be there, by and by. I cannot say when, but you may tell Elladan that I will come.” From under his cloak, he drew a sealed parchment and handed to him. “You may give this letter to him or Armith or to Curandir in their absence. Lastly Morglin. It is my account of these days and for the eyes of the High Council of Imladris only.”

The other elf took the document and tucked it securely inside his tunic. “I shall, of course, deliver it.” He paused and looked thoughtfully at the Elf Lord whom he had followed for more that a millennium. No words were necessary, for he knew what Elrohir intended, more or less. “May the stars of Elbereth guide you, Elrohir. Good luck, my friend.”

“And may the Valar keep you until we meet again, my dear friend.” They clasped each other’s forearms, eyes locked, for a long minute. When they parted, neither looked back. Culandun urged his mount into a canter towards the bridge, and Elrohir turned northwards.

More slowly, he went now, tracking. The road had seen heavy use recently by the army going north to enter Mordor through the Udûn, but the weather had been dry for several weeks. The road was a good one, and hard, and the rain had washed most signs of travel away; therefore, only the freshest tracks showed. At first he had a little trouble, for the rain had started too recently. Focusing all his concentration, he kept Rhosguin to a slow trot as he scanned the road ahead. Though the rain was not heavy, it prevented good visibility, and he had to keep a sharp watch.

An hour passed and then another as the leagues went by. He slowed Rhosguin to a walk as he continued to look for marks in the mud. Three hours after they had parted, and still nothing. And then…

There. Clearly in the firm mud was the mark of a horseshow, and not of a warhorse. Leaping down from the saddle, Elrohir lead Rhosguin and studied the marks. Yes, this was what he had been looking for. He followed them on foot for a while, but the rain was increasing, and he knew he had only a little time before the marks were all washed away.

Back astride his chestnut warhorse, he started out at an easy canter. Now that he had something to follow, it was easy. Still, the rain was slowly erasing the hoof prints, and there was not much daylight left, if this pale, murky grayness could be called light.

Suddenly, he pulled up. The tracks went off the road, to the right, into the wilderness of Ithilien. He knew this area – in all his centuries of life, there were few areas he didn’t know – so he turned Rhosguin off the road to follow where their prey had gone. Now, there was no need to look for the rapidly disappearing marks of hooves, for there were many other signs to look for: broken branches, trampled foliage, torn leaves. The acrid smell of smoke jolted him, and his heart raced. Close now, ever so close. Slowly, he rode through the woods following the marks and alert to any signs of a fire.

Coming out into a little clearing, he stopped. There, ahead, was a little fissure in the rocks, an outcropping of the Ephel Dúath, a narrow opening that formed a little cave. Inside, back a ways and out of the wind and rain, was a small fire. Elrohir paused a moment before dismounting and leading his horse into the entrance.

Rhosguin whickered happily and there was an answering snort form another horse. It took only a second to accustom himself to the darkness, and then Elrohir saw the troublesome colt Stigontral, tethered by a basin of water and covered with a green blanket. Nothing else stirred. “Legrace?” he called, pushing down the hood of his cloak and glancing around.

For a moment, he wondered if he should just wait for her and decided to see to his own horse while he considered his options. He rubbed Rhosguin down and covered him with his blanket then set both their feedbags as they stamped impatiently and pawed the sandy, dry ground.

When the two horses were settled happily together, he drew up his hood again and went out into the clearing before the entrance to the little cave. With careful movements, his eyes swept along the perimeter until he found the fresh marks of a lady’s boots walking off to the left. He followed.

Not far had she gone, and he soon caught sight of her ahead. Swathed in her blue cloak, standing with her back to him, she seemed to be gazing out over the surface of a silvery pond that was rippled by circles from raindrops. With the rain, she certainly could not hear him, but could she not sense his approach? He made his was closer, and still she did not turn. Would she send him away? Laugh at him? Weep? Bid him a cold farewell, like Eldarion?

Finally, her reached her and came up beside her, and still, she made no movement or sign that she was aware of his presence. He drew alongside her, but when he saw her face in profile, he froze. A terrible grief and sorrow lay upon her like a mantle, and her ancient black eyes had deepened as her mind traveled far back in the mysteries of her memory. The sight of her suffering thus caused him acute pain.

“Legrace,” he said softly.

With a shudder and a gasp, she traveled back over the eons, hurtling back to the present moment. At first, she blinked and drew in a heavy breath, but then she stared at him in absolute stunned silence. No, she had not sensed his presence; it was obvious.

“Legrace,” he said again, thinking of the things he had decided to say to her. Words escaped him, now, and he gazed mutely at her, knowing that the Lady Alys had been right: he had hurt her. With delicate slowness, he reached out to touch her. His fingertips brushed over her cheek, his fingers slid back to bury in her hair, his other hand slipped about her waist to her back, and he drew her to him. In the gray rain, he leaned towards her and kissed her, at last, with gentle passion.

Lifting his head and holding her back from him, he looked gravely into her eyes. “I once told you that I would go with you when Eldarion had no further need of me, and that day has come. I shall ask you to make me one promise only, my lady, and that is to forsake all others in favor of an elven husband.”

The shocked expression on her face made fear grip his heart. His fate had been sealed from the moment that he had first seen her; however, now he was past the point of no return. Time hung in the balance, there at the crossroads, for all would be changed, far more than the fate of one Elf Lord, when Legrace made her decision.





~
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Postby Tempest » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:06 am

There was a barrage of arrows now sailing through the air with a consistency that should have brought down the troll within seconds, but the body had yet to determine the fate of a mind as strong as Kylab’s. Tempest could see the glazed look slowly fading from his eyes as his life’s blood flowed out upon the ground, but his determination never wavered. She tried repeatedly to dislodge herself enough to signal the men to stop firing, but to no avail. Some of the arrows bounced harmlessly off the thick hide and almost hit her, though most found their mark well enough.

Finally, with a heavy sigh, the mighty troll succumbed to them. His feet tottered slightly and he lost his balance, sending the guards scurrying in all directions to avoid being crushed by his fall. Kylab’s grip on Tempest relaxed enough for her to slip down to the ground. She lay for several minutes trying to recover her breath while her heart pounded loudly in her ears. A few of her bravest guards managed to pull her away even as the troll’s body entered the last stages of its death spasms.

”Are you wounded?” one of the guards was asking. It took her awhile to focus on the question and recognize it.

She shook her head, her hand traveling to her burning throat, which she was sure would turn purple and blue before morning from the mark of the troll's fingers. Her guards tried to lead her back to her tent, but her gaze was fixed on Kylab, and she refused to leave the area. Her voice was still coarse and low, but it had regained its commanding tone, and the guards dared not disobey. To their horror, though, she approached the troll again and kneeled beside the great head. The trashing had ceased, and the only movement was the rise and fall of his chest, and the occasional hacking cough that issued from his lungs.

”Kylab,” she said softly, ”I’m here.”

His head turned slightly, and she thought the mist had cleared from his eyes. He looked confused and tried to rise, but the pain would not allow him. ”What has happened? Why are you returned to the Tower?” he asked her in a voice that broke her heart.

”We’re not at the Tower, Kylab.”

He dumbly plucked an arrow from his chest and inspected it. ”I don’t understand.”

”I know. It’s not your fault.”

His eyes fastened on her face. ”You don’t look so good either,” he noted.

She managed a weak smile.

His eyes traveled away from her, and he shivered suddenly. ”It’s cold here,” he said with a sigh.

This was too much for Tempest. She took the great head in her hands and wept bitterly. She tried to pull a few of the arrows out and stop the bleeding in desperation, though she knew it was too late. Her vision was blurred from her tears, and her hands were covered in his blood so that she could not wipe them away. She sat back upon her heels at a loss, and her whole body trembled in despair that she could not help him further. ”Forgive me, Kylab! I should have seen. I should have known. It’s my fault! I never meant for you to…You were supposed to return to our hunting grounds and grow old and fat, and enjoy the last part of your life being finally free. This was not the way…” her voice trailed off in anguish.

”I don’t understand such things, Tempest.” Kylab’s voice was fading, and he seemed troubled by her tears. Never in all their time together had he ever seen her weep, and it frightened him. He perceived that he was dying, and that it grieved her greatly, but the words she spoke he did not understand. The world around him was fading to shadows, except for Tempest. She remained as she had always been. He lifted his hand briefly, a final gesture to her. ”I hope the dreams we shared together will come to pass. I hope they await me on the other side of life.”

”Yes.” Tempest’s voice was far away.

He wanted to say more, he wanted to say, "Be careful" and "Don't weep," but he did not have the strength. The coldness was spreading, but with it, a peace came over him that he had never known. Tempest was saying something to him, but he could only nod his head and gaze out at the stars above him. Yes, he could see the stars. He had never noticed them before. They were...beautiful. He closed his eyes and knew no more.

Tempest stood for a long time, as if she were a statue carved on an ancient battlefield. Her eyes were closed, but the tears still issued down her face, washing away the dirt and blood. After she had not moved or spoken for near half-an-hour, Zanki, her lieutenant, finally approached cautiously.

”Lady, come away. Your wounds need to be looked to.”

She did not turn; she did not even flinch at his voice. Instead, she answered quietly, ”Leave me.”

”It is not good for you to be here. Come back to your tent,” he coaxed her.

This time she turned and looked at him, and he drew back a few steps. There was a coldness in her eyes, yet they were also alive with a fury he did not understand, but hoped was not directed at him. In an even, yet frighteningly calm tone she repeated, ”Leave me.”

Zanki nodded and left her.

She stood as before, but this time, her fists were clenched at her side and her eyes were open.
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Tempest
Ranger of the North


 
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Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2000 8:12 am
Location: Wandering in the wilds
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