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 Finrod_the_Faithful » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:41 pm

Although old in the years of men and possessing a natural authority, Ancalimë, Steward of Arnor and Princess of the Reunited Kingdom, felt slightly intimidated when she and the Lady Nerdanel sat down with the members of the High Council of Imladris. Standing well over six feet, she was used to looking down on men; here, she was taller only than Nerdanel and was the youngest, by far. Elladan looked unusually grim, and she knew at once that he had unpleasant news.

“We have some news from the south, but nothing of technical import,” he told her. “There is one point of news that, while it does not affect us directly, you should know about as it concerns the King.”

“I see,” she said, frowning. “Is he hurt?”

“No, it is nothing like that. It seems that he fell in love with a lady from Harad. He brought her to the Citadel and openly moved her into his apartments where she stayed for some time. It seems that he wished to take her as Queen, but she was not popular with the people and ultimately left him.” He sighed deeply. “Eldarion was deeply hurt by this.”

Ancalimë digested the news. Although unmarried, she was no blushing maiden, and she knew enough of her brother’s past affairs to know he was extremely discreet and careful about such things. In addition, though he had the mortal heart and desires of other men, he took his position as king very seriously and would not lightly choose a queen no matter what he felt. “It is odd to think he would choose a lady of Harad to be queen, for it would not be an appropriate match from a political viewpoint.” She shook her head. “It grieves me to hear of his pain, though,” she said with a slight note of wistfulness. In a moment, she was businesslike again. “You were right to tell me of this though it may seem as gossip.”

“The other news is more pleasant,” began Armith turning to Nerdanel with a smile “We must beg your indulgence. You see, Elrohir is courting a lady from Valinor whom none of us has met. I admit that we are very curious about her, for we know almost nothing. Perhaps you know her and may tell us something about her.”

“From Valinor?” she asked in complete surprise. “She is of the Noldor?”

“According to Elrohir, the lady is not an elf,” he explained. Her name is the Lady Legrace.”

The color drained from Nerdanel’s face and her eyes grew wide. “Legrace?” she repeated incredulously.

“What is it?” asked Inwir. “Do you know her?”

“Know her?” she repeated, still blinking in confusion. “No, but I know of her. Legrace, you say? And Lord Elrohir is courting her?”

“As we said, Elrohir has told us little of her: thus we are curious,” explained Armith. “Can you tell us a little about her?”

Nerdanel shook her head. “I have never seen her – she is hardly spoken of – but my sons used to know her son, for he rides with Lord Oromë.”

“Her son?” asked Curandir, startled.

“My lady,” began Elladan, very gently. “I may soon be calling this lady sister, you see. I suffer terrible curiosity, I own, and you may soothe me a little by telling me of my brother’s lady.”

Her brow was creased with a frown as she gazed at him, this powerful Elf Lord of exalted lineage who was so young next to her, only a youth even in comparison to her own children who were all now gone to Mandos. “Lord Elladan, I shall tell you what I know, but it is the stuff of myth and legends. The Lady Legrace is of the Holy Ones, a Maia of great stature and legend.”

There was silence, for certainly no one had expected to hear anything like this. All of them hesitated, hardly knowing what to ask. “Is it possible that my brother is courting this lady?” asked Elladan. In truth, despite his pedigree, it was unthinkable that a partly mortal elf, such as Elrohir, would dream of reaching so high as for one of the Holy Ones.

“Why is she hardly spoken of?” pressed Curandir.

“Well, I can only tell you the legends I heard in my youth, which is very long ago. It is said that long, long ago, before the waking of the elves, she went to the Máhanaxar and appealed eloquently to the Powers to intervene in these lands of Middle-earth, for she had seen a vision of some doom. They refused; thus, she cursed them and went to dwell in darkness.”

“Darkness?” asked Armith sharply.

“Yes, that is what is said by the wise of Aman, who are far older than I. Now… well, she visits her children, but she does not go to Taniquetil or Valmar and only sees those who supported her in days of yore: the Lord Oromë, the Lord Tulkas, and the Lady Yavanna. The Valar permit her to visit her children, and no evil has touched the lady, but she is very different than others of her race.”

“That is the second time you have mentioned children,” said Armith, a little more gently but still far more intensely than was his accustomed manner. “Who are her children?”

“Her son is called Varlon and serves the Lord Oromë, as I said. The daughter I know little of, but she is called Kitaræ.” She licked her lips and looked around at al of them with a worried expression as if she were reluctant to share the last bit of information. “It is said that the father of these children was the Great Smith of Aulë, the one known as Gorthaur – he whom the Sindar call Sauron.”
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:35 pm

In the dull, rainy morning air, Eldarion sent for both Folcwine King and Count nad Mulrain, for the incidents between their men were increasing. As he waited alone, he considered the madman, the prisoner, Helezzar. After his parting from Elrohir, he had had the Half-Elf questioned closely. Unfortunately, the fellow had been unable to say anything more than babble about the witch who had taken his beautiful ring.

“You sent for me, sire?” asked Mulrain with a bow as he entered.

“Yes, thank you for coming so swiftly. Please be seated.” Eldarion studied the man. Despite his flaws and faults, he was a good man and a staunch supporter. It would not serve to alienate him. “Count, I cannot measure the value I set in your allegiance to the Reunited Kingdom. I only ask that you refrain from dissension and animosity when we are in company. In council, I expect every man to speak his mind, but with respect for each other man.”

“Forgive me, my lord. It is your youth, I fear, and lack of experience which had lead me to – “

“Youth?” asked the King sharply. “I was a grown man when you were born, sir.”

His florid face paled. “Yes – of course. I apologize.”

His discomfort was eased a little by the entrance of the King of Rohan. “Good morning,” said Folcwine, shaking out his wet cloak. “I have heard the strangest news – that Lord Elrohir’s lady left alone last night and that he has gone after her.”

Eldarion paused paused. It was as good a story to cover the Elf-Lord’s departure. “Yes, but we shall go on without him,” said the king noncommittally.

“It’s good news, if you ask me,” said Mulrain. “Elves are no good for anything but sighing over their Land Across the Sea, and that magical queen was certainly trouble, as easily as she affected men.”

“You are speaking of King Eldarion’s uncle and aunt,” Folcwine chastised him.

“That’s enough,” said Eldarion with more force than he had originally planned, for hearing the Lady referred to as his aunt struck him deeply. The two gazed at one another with dislike, so he decided to get right to his point. “Gentlemen, the enmity between your men has got to stop. The brawls and knife fights increase with every hour that we camp here. I don’t care about what occurred in the past and who did what to whom. Whatever your personal differences are, you must set them aside.”

The expressions on the faces of both men were both slightly guilty as well as begrudging. They disliked each other intensely, but they could both recognize that what he had said was true.

“Now we are preparing to face an enemy whose might is unmeasured and to become allied to killers and mercenaries. The last thing we need is dissention in the ranks. I shall hold you two personally responsible.” His voice softened a little. “You both have the affection and respect of your men. If you lead, they will follow. That’s what we need.”

“Yes, my lord,” said Mulrain. “You are right of course.”

“You must be friends in public. Whatever your personal feelings, set them aside and let the men see that we are united.”

“I shall do my best,” Folcwine said, getting to his feet. “Count, will you not walk with me a bit? It’s a foul day, to be sure, but the men should see us friends together.”

Eldarion smiled a little, and Mulrain could not hide his surprise. “Why, I would be honored, sir.”

When they were gone, the King rubbed his face and sighed deeply. Again, his mind returned to the lady. He remembered Fala, how lovely she was, how happy they had been together. There had been something about her, such as her wicked sense of humor unlike any other woman he had known. He thought of the Lady Legrace, and Elrohir. How sorrowful she had always seemed. But still, she had laughed upon hearing of the reanimated Army of Dead. Odd.

Elrohir has said before leaving that she was one of the Blessed Ones from across the sea. Being partially of Elven heritage, he had learned the myths and legends, but he only vaguely remembered the old tales. There was something about her, something otherworldly. On the other hand, he remembered the night that he had gone to speak to her, that he had come upon her and seen her agony and embraced her. She had kissed him, and he had let her; if she had wanted to lie with him that night, he would not have refused, and yet he had known full well that she was Elrohir’s lady. It had not troubled him, for she looked at him with a soft affection, almost maternally, and he had known that he, a mortal man, could not make her happy.

But she had once looked at him in a different way, she had once loved him and found happiness with him. Yes, they were one and the same, Fala and Legrace, and it pained him. His uncle had taken her from him, and he, Eldarion, could not forgive him. Her, however, he could not harden his heart against.

With a muttered curse, he forced his mind to turn to the thoughts at hand and strode to the entrance of his tent. “Send heralds to the Lady Tempest and ask if she will do the honor of talking with me, one-to-one, in an hour’s time.”

“Aye, my lord. And General Benoit has been asking to see you.”

The King groaned inwardly and had to keep from rolling his eyes. Of course, the old spymaster wanted to talk of Elrohir. “Very well. Have him sent for.” It was just as well to get it over with now, he knew, and to let Ben know that he wanted to hear nothing further on the subject.

“Thank you for agreeing to see me,” said the old man as he came in.

“Have a seat, General. I shall need to make ready for the next interview with Tempest soon.”

“Yes, well, I’ll be brief.” He gazed steadily into the younger man’s eyes. “Elrohir has told me some of what occurred. In truth, the Lady Legrace has worried me from the beginning, for she wielded far too much influence over both you and him.”

This approach surprised Eldarion. “And yet you said nothing?” he asked with a frown.

“I disparage the name of no lady, and she had done nothing specific to arouse suspicion. It was only a feeling, a strange one. I would not have identified her as the lady Fala, but I cannot say that anything about this has surprised me.”

“Ah, Ben.” The King sighed and shook his head. “Elrohir deceived me and took her from me. I never would have expected him to be capable of such a thing!”

“Perhaps she enchanted him,” said the wily old spymaster slowly. “I don’t know if mischief was in her mind, but she helped us very much with sound intelligence and information.” He shook his head as well. “Her worst crime, I think, was driving the two of you apart. It may be the thing that turns the tide in our enemies’ favor.”

Eldarion nodded impassively. “You may very well be correct; nevertheless, the deed is done.”

“Yes, I know. Well, you will forgive me for pitying my old friend, won’t you? Lying chastely beside her all this time. It may be easier for elves to resist such temptation, but he is partly a mortal man, and it could not have been easy.” He paused to let his words sink in.

The King’s fine black brows drew together and he frowned at Benoit. He thought back…
Eldarion stopped to watch keenly as the commanding officers led their men. The others went on ahead, and he frowned as he watched as Elrohir and the lady rode together. …. he was uncertain as to what was going on there and frequently had to quell his curiosity by telling himself that it was not his business.
Then he nodded slowly. “I see. Yes… yes, I wondered. Well, the lady was always so melancholy, and he always seemed tense, which I thought was worry. But I wasn’t sure.”

“And now, she’s left him,” Ben continued slowly. “Without a word. I know not why, but it was before your interview with him. I believe he has gone after her.”

Left him. A dull ache reminded him that it had not been so long before that she had done the same thing and left the Citadel. There was some petty satisfaction, though, and he hoped that she would not have Elrohir. It would be a just reward for someone who had played him false. Quickly he felt ashamed of himself and felt sorry for his uncle who had lost much.

“I must go,” he said quietly to Benoit. “It is time to meet the woman Tempest, and we shall treat with each other without the distraction of guards or advisors.”

“Be doubly careful, my lord,” he warned. “She’s like a snake in the grass with fatal venom!”

Too many thoughts were tumbling around in his head as he made way to the agreed-upon halfway point for the meeting. A small canopy had been set up for them away from curious eyes and ears. Leaving his horse with his men, Eldarion went slightly uphill to the canopy. The rain was not hard enough to wet him, it simply misted his hair and garments with a fine sheen, and he found that Tempest had not arrived yet. He paced a bit and stood looking out over the rocky, barren landscape rendered so miserable by the overcast day.

When he heard Tempest’s approach, he turned and bowed to her politely, finally forcing down the myriad thoughts. “Well met, Lady Tempest. If you are of a like mind, we may settle the main points ourselves before allowing the others to work out the specific details.”

Just as he finished saying this, he looked closely at her for the first time to evaluate her reaction and weigh her reply. What he saw stunned him for a moment: the beautiful, diamond-hard woman of the day before was obviously suffering some terrible agony. Though she was superficially composed, her dry eyes were red and swollen, her face was dead-pale, and the expression of her face looked both angry and aggrieved.

“Are you ill, ma’am?” he asked in true concern. “Forgive me, I was so much concentrating on what was to be said here that I did not notice.”

Involuntarily, his manners took over, and he took her arm to escort her to one of the chairs that had been set for them at a table set with wine and cups for them as well as maps of Mordor. As he came near, she eyed him suspiciously but his intentions were obvious, so she made no complaint. He sat by her debating, remembering how dangerous she was but worried about how wretched she looked. Of course, this could be a ruse of some kind to throw him off guard, but his instinct told him that it was not. His own recent distress and agony was fresh enough for him to recognize it. His motivation of compassion also admitted another thought: if this woman became somehow incapacitated, would the replacement be worse?

He poured some of the rich red wine for each of them, hoping it would ease her, even a little. “I know not what to say. Shall we postpone until you are recovered?”
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Postby Tempest » Sun Feb 13, 2005 5:44 pm

It had been almost dawn before Tempest had returned to her own tent. She wanted to make certain that Kylab’s body was taken care of, and that it was prepared in accordance with the traditions of his people.

Her entire body ached, but she could not find rest. Her mind was alive with a burning rage that worked against the numbness from the night’s events. She paced for hours, formulating every angle of her revenge. All thought to personal victory was gone. Kylab’s death had done the one thing she would have considered impossible: it made her choose a side.

She caught a look at her face in a polished shield and stopped short from her pacing. She barely recognized herself, for her eyes were red-rimmed, and her face was contorted in grief and anger. It had been so long since she cried for anyone or anything, and Kylab’s death brought back to her mind the death of her mother in a fresh and intensely painful way. She trembled, like she was a child again, and she placed her hand over her mouth to keep any sounds of grief to a muffled sigh. She was surprised by the violence of emotion she had toward Kylab, for she had always scorned such feelings as weak and petty. She was confused, and she suddenly wished she had not spoken so haughtily to Legrace, for surely the woman would have had some sort of counsel for her.

Zanki coughed loudly outside her tent, and Tempest shook herself from her musings and quickly blotted her eyes. ”What is it?” she called, but did not invite him in.

”King Eldarion requests a meeting with you.”

”I see. I will be there shortly.”

Tempest quickly attempted to make herself presentable. She had never cared much for how others viewed her, but the King of Gondor must not think her incapable or insincere. She tried her best to focus on the task at hand, and appear the same, imperious lady as he had seen yesterday, but she knew she could not hide her distress. It was written on her face, which she furiously tried to conceal.

When it became obvious that she could not, she sighed. Still, Tempest resolved to finish what she had come to do, for without the help of the West, she would be lost. And everything that she had promised Kylab would never come to pass.
_____________________________________________________________



When she finally arrived, Eldarion was courteous and business-like. She did not fail to notice, though, that he looked more tired than previously. Perhaps he had fared as well as she had the night before. Tempest forced herself to meet his gaze, but this only brought an expression to his face that she did not at first understand. Concern. She glanced behind her, to see who he was looking at, but then realized that his concern was directed at her.

“Are you ill, ma’am?” he asked her in a gentle voice. “Forgive me, I was so much concentrating on what was to be said here that I did not notice.”

She inwardly cursed herself, remembering how human men always sought to soothe distressed females. Still, his manner calmed her, and she allowed herself to be seated and waited upon. When he poured her a glass of red wine, she cringed slightly, but took a deep sip. His eyes were kindly, and she weighed her response to him. How would she explain? How could a man like this possibly understand someone like her?

But he was speaking again, and she forced herself to listen. ”I know not what to say. Shall we postpone until you are recovered?”

She shook her head and said emphatically, ”There must be no postponement. Time is slipping away; indeed for some, time has already run out.” She paused and looked away. The canopy flapped gently, and from her view she could see soldiers going about their business calmly.

”What do you mean?” his voice gently prodded.

What to say! A lie? The truth? Did it matter in the end? Her brain was on fire, and the blood seemed to pound through every bruise she had suffered under Kylab's hands. ”Last night,” she began slowly, and she turned her eyes to him as if searching for some answer in his face. ”Last night, there was an assassination attempt on my life. Someone I trusted, someone who was a dear friend, was sent to kill me.”

The king seemed shocked into silence, and Tempest pushed herself away from the table and stood up. Her tone was bitter, and the coldness of her countenance returned swiftly. ”I know what you are thinking, that this must be common among those in Mordor, always backstabbing and jealousy. But this was different. He was my friend! And he was used because he was my friend. I don’t expect you to understand. But this only proves that we must act now, or be lost. The darkness spreads, and I will see it stopped!”

"You were betrayed...by a friend?" Eldarion said softly.

"Yes, and no. He...Kylab...was not himself. He was used to get to me..." her voice trailed off as she paced around the tent. Then she came close to Eldarion, close enough that he could feel her breath against his face. Her face had flushed and her eyes had grown very dark and fierce. Her voice trembled in anger, but it was soft, just above a whisper, making it all the more intense. "I will kill this Spirit and all who ally themselves with him. Will you help me? Fight with me! He can not possibly destroy us all, not with the combined armies of Mordor and the West. You and I. We can make things right again."
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Feb 23, 2005 7:23 pm

The rain was still a fine gray mist that divided them from the rest of the world like a ghostly veil. In this surreal setting, Tempest’s tale troubled him, and Eldarion’s mind raced as he listened to her and watched her. Slowly, he nodded in assent. “I too have been betrayed by one close to me. It was over a woman. She…” He stopped and considered for a moment. Could there be any connection between Legrace and the Spirit? It seemed unlikely. He recalled what she had said to him about protecting his sisters from the Army of Dead as well as other things she had said both to him and to Elrohir. No, she was not malevolent. And if she had been deceiving them, Elrohir would have known. Anyhow, Elrohir’s betrayal had been revealed by young Leofric’s artless question, not exactly a dark plot against the King. No connection to the Spirit, but how odd a coincidence! He shrugged. “Well. Not the same as an assassination attempt, but a betrayal all the same.”

A sudden thought occurred to him. “The assassin – your friend – has he revealed any information about the Spirit? Were you able to question him?” In his mind, they were talking about a mortal man, and he wondered if Tempest was speaking of one who was her lover. Could she mean the Mouth of Sauron?

“No.” Tempest turned away and walked to the edge of the tent where she stood with her back to him as she watched the activity. “He nearly succeeded. My guards had to kill him to save me.”

Whether or not she spoke the truth, something drastic had occurred to her. Perhaps the Spirit only had the ability to affect his allies, but perhaps it could reach out the affect the Captains of the West. Mulrain was an old fool but was loyal. What type of trouble could the Spirit rouse if it caused Mulrain to attack Folcwine? It would be the end of their alliance and the end of all hope.

“We have agreed to join with you in this battle against the Dark Spirit,” Eldarion informed her. “What occurs after shall be decided when we see the outcome, for neither one of us knows who will be left alive.”

“Fine,” she said turning back. Once again, she had mastered her emotions.

“One thing remains. Can you kill it? The Spirit, I mean? Know you what sort of creature it is? And have you got some weapon to use against it?”

Tempest hesitated. “I am not certain. It took me unaware and I was helpless before it. It is a powerful, malicious thing that has defied identification thus far. There is one who knows more than I, though.”

“Who?”

“The Lady Legrace. She is very ancient. I think she is older than the Spirit.”

“Legrace?” he repeated in shock.

“Perhaps you think such a thing beneath her?” she wondered aloud. “A mere annoyance for her, or so it seems to us.”

“No – well, I don’t know. Only, she and my uncle had to leave. Back to Rivendell. It is too late to ask her.”

She stared hard at him. Although he schooled his features and spoke lightly, there was something there. What troubled him about the departure of the Elf Lord and Legrace.

“There is something else. Since the Tower is hidden with sorcery, few mortal eyes can see it. Is there a way you know to unveil it?”

Since the Spirit’s spell did not hinder her, she had not considered how it would affect these new allies. “There may be a way, but it has not been the most important problem on my mind as of late.”

“No doubt. When we get closer, perhaps a solution will be easier to fide, for the Spirit seems only to have sought to camouflage the Tower, not gird it against us.”

“Our alliance caught it unexpectedly,” she remarked grimly. “But it knows now and will be coming to punish me.”

“Indeed, but with what forces?”

“That remains to be seen.”

“Well, we must prepare as best we may.” He gesture to the table top. “Now, ma’am, if you’ll take a glance at the maps, we should decide on the general dispersal of forces. I understand that your army consists of more than mortal men. We must keep in mind that my men will fight alongside yours, but I cannot compel them to stand beside orcs.”

The corner of her mouth turned up in a dreadful imitation of a half-smile. “No, I don’t expect you could.”

Also, I wonder what part the Mouth of Sauron plays in all this. He has no reason to ally himself with us. Does he remain faithful to the Dark Spirit?”
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Feb 23, 2005 7:23 pm

:oops:
DP
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Feb 23, 2005 7:23 pm

:oops:
TP
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Postby Tempest » Thu Feb 24, 2005 6:59 am

Tempest admitted to herself that the meeting with Eldarion was not going exactly as she had planned. She had revealed more than she had intended, though she had also gained information unlooked for. She had been slightly surprised that the King had decided to meet with her alone, without any advisor, and when he had casually mentioned that Legrace and Elrohir had departed, she wondered all the more.

Legrace, Legrace. Even though she did not will it, she had played into Tempest’s plans rather nicely. Though she did not understand fully what hid behind Eldarion’s eyes, she could guess enough by Legrace’s character to know that something important had taken place. Well, Legrace could look after the elves well enough. She, on the other hand, was much more interested in the King who stood before her.

His question about the Tower made her frown, for she had failed to remember the Spirit’s sorcery. Of course, the Mouth of Sauron could probably help in that area, if he had not already fled the Tower in fear of her returning.

As if reading her mind, Eldarion asked, “I wonder what part the Mouth of Sauron plays in all this. He has no reason to ally himself with us. Does he remain faithful to the Dark Spirit?”

”Faithful to the Spirit?” Tempest laughed lightly and ran her hand over the map before her. “No, he has already burned that bridge when we conspired to this end. Together we betrayed the Spirit, and so together we will face its wrath. He will join us, because to refuse is to choose death, and he is a survivor above all things. He values nothing so much as his own continued existence. But do not think on him. I can handle him well enough.”

She paused and looked intently at the map. She tried to imagine how many troops were now stationed at the Tower, and in what state they might be in. She had given strict orders as to training and discipline in her absence, but she would not know until she returned if the troops were ready for battle. Or if they would fight side by side with those who had been hunting them down for the last century.

”As for my army, I can flank the sides with my men who do not fear to travel side by side with orcs and trolls. At the moment, of course, I have no such creatures with me. They await enforce at the Tower. I am certain they will look on your men with no less love than your troops will look on them. If our officers cannot maintain control, there may not be anyone left to face the Spirit. It is a gamble.”

”Though, the alternative is what?”

”There is no other viable alternative. I just thought I should be very clear: this alliance will not be welcomed by some.” She paused and met his eyes again. ”Will the elves be offering any assistance? I have seldom met their match in archers.”
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Fri Feb 25, 2005 8:39 pm

~If it is your wish to be fruitful and pour forth more of your brilliance into a new being, you must leave him
~Not for anything would I do so.
~Then, this is your fate, to share in his affliction, for his seed is poison and nothing shall grow from it again.


The thunderstruck shock that Legrace felt gave way to the long ago memory and then to one thought, and it was an unselfish one: he needs to have at least one child. What was he about? She had told him when she had first come to him in the capital city of Harad. Could he have forgotten? It seemed almost absurd to imagine that he had forgotten or overlooked such a thing, but what other explanation could there be? Elves took a spouse only once, and it was strange to think that he would knowingly take one who could not procreate. To take her to wife, barren as she had become, was unthinkable for one of the Eldar who took such delight in their children. There were, however, the enflamed words that had passed between them not so very long ago
    “He is not your child!”
    “No. But he is the closest I shall ever come to having a son of my own.”
It had been his way of telling her you and no other, and it had pierced her, hurt her, to know that he had already given up the possibility of having children for her. Now, she stood scowling at him, not knowing what was wrong with him. “You know there can be no children.”

“Yes, I know.”

“It may not matter now, but as the ages pass, it would be a burden and a regret.”

He stood for a moment regarding her with a stark look. “I cannot take another woman. If you will not have me, then I am alone, and there will be no children anyway.”

Sadness filled her. Although she understood, for she had made the same decision long ago, at least she had borne her two children before that. His decision was firm, though, and had been this whole time: she did not doubt him.

Her next thought was selfish: Elves faded. Accustomed as she was to the glorious pleasures of the physical, could she abandon this life as he aged and go back to the flame of the incorporeal spirit only? Before this world, she had dwelt long in the Timeless Halls. Would she miss the physical? Or would the communion of spirits with him be enough?

Was this what she was supposed to do? When her beloved had communicated with her for the last time, the final gasp before the all-consuming maw of nothingness had taken him, he had told her to let no harm come to the young pup who should now take care of her. Was this what he had meant? Strange… strange. How very short a time ago was it that she had been promised him and his twin as fair toys to amuse her! And now he would give himself to her for always! This way, she got only one of the set, but something had changed since that last visit to the Tower. Something had changed with that final farewell.

“The customs of elves are strange but not unpleasant, and I would have a condition of my own,” she said looking at him very seriously.

Hope and longing filled his eyes; he tamped it down. “Anything within my power.”

“It is possible for your physical body to be damaged or destroyed, and then you would go to the halls of Mandos. Now that is no great tragedy for me, for I am accustomed to waiting. Among the elves, though, such a physical transition is considered the end of a union. If I am to agree, then we must have the understanding that such an event will not affect us.”

Only for a moment did he pause to consider it, for it meant going against the laws and customs of his people. On the other hand, it was an agreement that he could live with and that would affect no one but himself. “I agree,” he said.

A decision was clearly called for. She turned away from him, withdrew into herself, and stopped all thoughts. Without memory, without words or images, she simply was; her essence filled her and she carried with her the essence of all whom she loved or had loved. In the quiet fire of her self, she was, she felt, she knew. Always she had been, always she would be, but the strange world of mortals and physical sensations distracted her.

How long had passed she was hardly aware, but it was very dark when she turned and looked at him. The clouds obliterated both moon and stars, but a little light reflected the pond and the Elf-lord could see her answer in her expression before she even spoke.

“I will give you my promise, then,” was what she finally said. “Must I now go to Imladris for some elaborate ritual?”[/list]
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Postby Naveen » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:07 am

~

“Are you sure you must go?” Inwir stepped through the front door and out onto the porch that fronted Elrond’s house. His eyes were grave as they looked on the face of his friend. He was walking next to Elladan but he was speaking to Orodreth, who was dressed for travel.

A few steps behind the three elves, Nerdanel walked quietly beside Curandir and Ancalimë as they made their way to the stables where the final farewells would be said. Her mind was on many things, one of them being the Noldorian’s departure. Naveen and Armith followed behind and she could hear the Haradrim asking him questions about the surrounding grounds.

It had been during breakfast that Orodreth had announced his plans. Everyone was present except for Gilraen, who on her sister’s insistence was resting in her room. The Steward had been firm with her younger sibling, insisting that she stay abed and rest, since in all likelihood they would be leaving tomorrow or the next day on their journey southward.

Ancalimë, Inwir, Armith, Curandir and herself had been listening while Elladan related, for Orodreth’s and Naveen’s benefit, part of the discussion that had gone on the night before. Since Nerdanel had been in attendance for part of the meeting last night, she sat quietly nibbling on pieces of fruit and cheese while watching the faces of those around her.

Orodreth listened while Elladan explained the need to be at hand in the south as quickly as possible, and though he touched only briefly upon the news they had received concerning Elrohir and Eldarion, Orodreth knew that because of it, that no matter how he felt or what he believed, Elladan and the others would not be swayed. The muscles along Orodreth’s jaw drew tighter. He had spoken up at the beginning, questioning the need for the journey south, even going so far as to bring up Gilraen’s prophetic words of the night before about looking northward. He felt the main threat lay elsewhere, removed from all of the events in the south, controlling what happened there. He couldn’t explain why he felt this way; it was a gut feeling and had been there ever since picking up the iron crown that Inwir had tossed to the ground in their camp at the base of Carn Dúm. Once he had tried talking to Inwir about it during their return trip to Imladris, but his friend had been concerned with keeping an eye on Nerdanel and making sure she kept her practice with the rings she wore to a minimum, that, and with getting back to Imladris as soon as possible.

He made a decision, one he had been thinking on for the past few days.

Breaking the silence during a pause in the planning, Orodreth surprised everyone when he told them of his intentions to return to the Havens, citing his wish to personally tell Círdan of the death of Radagast and what was transpiring. Everyone started talking at once, questioning his reasons; everyone except Naveen. When he looked at her, she was staring at him, but he thought he read in her dark eyes an understanding of sorts.

After the initial shock of his announcement wore off, Orodreth mollified all arguments by informing them of his intentions to meet up with them again, that he would take ship from the Havens and join them in the south. That seemed to placate everyone, though Inwir muttered something under his breath about the foolishness of his plan.

The group approached the stables just as one of the grooms led Orodreth’s horse out of the stables and the time of leave taking was short. Orodreth was relieved. He didn’t like the idea of leaving, but what else could he do? The tension he’d felt earlier was gone the moment he’d announced his decision and though he faced an unknown road, he felt sure he was doing the right thing. Keeping his tone light, he said his farewells.

Mounted on his horse, Orodreth held the reins with one hand as he clasped hands with Elladan and then Inwir one last time. He smiled briefly as he joked with Inwir about how if they weren’t in Minas Tirith by the time he arrived; he’d head for Mordor without them.

As Orodreth rode away, Inwir took Nerdanel’s arm and started back toward the house with Armith, Ancalimë and Curandir. Naveen stood watching the departing figure until he disappeared around a curve in the road. She started slightly when Elladan spoke to her.

“You seem almost sad that he is going.”

“Not sad, just concerned.”

“You need not be. The road to the Havens should be safe enough and once he reaches there and talks with Círdan, he may well reach Mordor before we do.” Though Elladan sounded reassuring, Naveen couldn’t help notice tiny lines of worry creasing his forehead as he turned back toward the path leading from the stables and started talking about a hobbit named Farley, one of the injured they had brought back to Imladris. He was being cared for by the healers of Imladris.

“I’m on my way now to see how he fares,” Elladan stopped at a fork in the path and uncharacteristically ran a hand through his hair as he paused. He seemed troubled.

“Are his injuries that serious?”

“They were. I did what I could in the field, but was informed this morning by one on the healers that there is some cause for concern.” He glanced toward the building that stood a short distance from the main house and then back at Naveen. “Would you like to join me?”

“No, I will just be in the way,” she replied with a smile. “Armith gave me a very short history of your home as we walked to the stables and I would see more of the grounds before we depart.”

Elladan hid the unexpected feeling of disappointment he felt at loosing her company. There were many things on his mind but during their short walk, he’d felt a small amount of calmness just being by her side. He apologized for his shortcomings as a host, hesitating briefly before asking. “May I seek you out after I have seen Farley?”

“Of course.”

Orodreth pulled his horse off the road and rode back a short distance. He halted his horse near the edge of a rise overlooking the valley. The calmness that had settled over him when he had made the decision to leave still remained, but so did the small burning flame that had resided in his heart since walking the shores on the Havens these long months past.

With his sharp eyesight he could make out the movement of figures in the distance. One of them was walking alone through the grounds walking toward the falls below the stone bridge. It wasn’t hard for him to guess it was Naveen. He had noticed more than once how she moved, as if wary of her surroundings. He wasn’t sure if it was because of her profession as a thief or if there was another reason and his thoughts returned to the cryptic remark she’d said to him as they bid farewell. ‘Have care on your chosen road.’ Had she somehow guessed his thoughts?

Nudging his horse, he turned back to the road and rode on, turning his horse northward without hesitation.

~
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:29 pm

Eldarion studied Tempest, unwilling to give away any information unless he had no choice. “The Elves of Rivendell cannot come until they are finished with the Army of Dead. There will also be some from my great-grandfather in the Golden Wood. There are few Elves left here in Middle-earth, unfortunately.”

“Even a few may be of use,” she mused, but from her expression and the tone of her voice, it seemed clear that she held the Elvenkind in contempt.

Absentmindedly nodded, but his thoughts were on the mysterious dark spirit. If the creature has the ability to influence a man’s thoughts, to make him murder his friends... He shook his head slowly. “Our alliance is fragile. Can you imagine if it influenced the men to fight among themselves – or the lieutenants? It will be hard enough to maintain discipline before the battle. The longer we must wait in readiness, the worse it shall be with men just looking for an excuse to fight, and our officers are going to have to keep a tight rein on their men. Of course once the battle starts, they will fight the enemy, but before that, what’s to stop them from slaying each other?”

At first the woman did not reply. She seemed to be considering her words, and he opened his mind, trying to perceive what she was not telling him. “The spirit is very powerful,” she said in a slow way as if she had to choose every syllable separately. “But I think it will not use that tactic again.”

“No?”

“Because it will think that, having survived, we will gird ourselves against that. No, it makes sense to try and catch us off guard.”

“I is in a soldier’s nature to be prepared for anything.” He thought back on many of the lessons his father had taught him and of the many horrors of the past that he had studied as a young man in the cool surface of the palantír. “Well, my lady, it is you who know more of the spirit than I, so let us settle the strategy and as much of the placement of men as possible. A cool head is needed now from all, and we will have to be vigilant.” The last word was spoken grimly, and it was clear that despite their differences, they were both experienced leaders and new what was expected of them and the price that each of them would have to pay no matter what the outcome.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Apr 03, 2005 12:08 pm

A lovely fresh breeze stirred the just-forming buds on the trees as Elladan walked out in the gardens of Imladris. The slanted rays of the late afternoon sun lit up the dramatic, green-tinged landscape with the promise of spring and a slight smile touched his face. He loved the wild valley where Imladris sat; he loved many of the places of Middle-earth that he had visited. Although he had not seen the Undying Lands, the tales of that place had never appealed to him any more than a piquing of his curiosity. Always had his mortal heritage influenced him most strongly, and the idea of living in such a tame land where there was nothing to strive for, nothing to rail against, left him feeling frustrated and edgy. How could a man be content in such a place? Perhaps some Elves could dwell there forever in the shadow of the Valar without ever seeking more; for him, however, such an existence seemed like a prison sentence. Trapped… nay, more like constrained, like an infant on leading strings.

Still turning over these thoughts in his head, he saw Naveen ahead. The woman from the south must have come back out here after luncheon, something he could not blame her for. There were countless paths through the acres, each one charming in its own way. When she heard his approach, she looked up with a welcoming smile from the stone bench where she sat watching the water from melting snow high above falling far into the pool below.

“I am glad to have some time to explore,” she admitted when he had joined her and sat beside her. “It’s hard to say what part of the grounds is loveliest.”

Nodding and smiling in agreement, he said, “Something I took for granted as a child, if you can believe that.”

There was no mistaking his troubled mind, for he made little effort to conceal it. “Is there bad news about Farly?” she asked.

“No – well, yes and no, actually. He has awakened and seems to be recovered, but he is not himself. He suffers from what happened to him. These Hobbits are said to be resilient creatures, and thus they have proven, but the healers say he will likely live half in darkness for the rest of his life without powerful medicine. We had hoped that Nerdanel might still have the grace of Valinor, but she has been battling and fighting which adversely affects healing powers.”

“I see,” she said slowly. “It is something that occurs to most of us. Not as drastically, usually, but it’s not possible to escape all the ills of the land completely.”

“We shall take him with us when we go south,” he informed her.

Her eyebrows rose in surprise, and her thoughts seemed to show on her face: Is that wise?

“Perhaps we may find one who can heal him,” he explained as answer to her unspoken question. “Yesterday, I received word that my brother – my twin brother, Elrohir, whom you have not met – is courting a lady. I… I have not met this lady, but she is said to be wise and powerful beyond the limitations of the Elves. I am thinking that she may be able to aid him.”

The cautious, uncertain way that he spoke made Naveen think that there was something going on that he was not saying; however, she was not one to pry. “It is worth a try, then,” she commented. “It won’t make him worse. Will it?”

“I think not. As I said, I know this lady not at all, so it is only a thought, a theory.” He spoke slowly, as if he were distracted. “My concern is actually because of my brother you see.”

“Oh?” she asked, wanting to provide a sympathetic ear if he wanted to talk of his concern yet not wanting to encourage him to say more than he wished.

“My father was called Peredhil. I am not sure if you know the word.”

“Half-elven?”

“Yes, that’s right.” He flashed her a smile that revealed his straight white teeth and a warm light in his eyes. “It’s not an entirely appropriate name. Had one parent been of the Elves and the other of Men, then it would have been true. Our heritage is rather convoluted with several mixed marriages and never any pure Half-elven child. How could it be when we are descended from Lúthien, daughter of Melian the Maia?”

At the last word, he suddenly stopped and blinked. Naveen wondered what he was trying to say, but she made no move to interrupt him or encourage him to say more.

“When we are parted from each other, my brother and I realize we may not both return, and it is hard. Now, it well may be that he will offer marriage to the lady and perhaps she will accept. The result will be that his choice will be that of my father and he will be counted among the kindred of the Elves. My own tendency is to identify myself with Men. In that case, Elrohir would go to dwell in the Undying Lands with our people while I would remain here until I passed from the World as all Men do upon death.”

His face was composed but melancholy, his eyes deep with reflection of life without his twin. A short time passed, perhaps a minute, and Naveen knew not what to say.

“Forgive me for troubling you,” he said. “Of course there is nothing to be done. In the morning we shall depart and then when we reach the King’s forces in the south, we shall know more. I should not give such thoughts my time and energy, but they have been insistent these many hours.”
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Postby Naveen » Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:39 pm

~

Elladan’s face was composed but melancholy, his eyes deep with reflection of life without his twin. A short time passed, perhaps a minute, and Naveen knew not what to say. The bond Elladan and Elrohir shared was strong; it was obvious just by watching his face when he talked about him. Was it because they were twins? Or was this a normal bond that brothers, or for that matter any family member, felt toward each other? Naveen didn’t know. The only family she had ever known (she never thought of the many men her mother brought home as anything other than a stream of faceless figures), was her mother and their relationship had never been close, not even when she was young. Naveen glanced down at her hands and than out at the pool of water, watching the endless series of ripples as they expanded and spread across the water as she tried to think of something to say.

“Forgive me for troubling you,” he said. “Of course there is nothing to be done. In the morning we shall depart and then when we reach the King’s forces in the south, we shall know more. I should not give such thoughts my time and energy, but they have been insistent these many hours.” Elladan started to rise from the bench.

“Wait.” Naveen cocked her head as she looked at Elladan for a few moments. She didn’t know how to ask the question that had come to mind while she had been listening to him. “Is it the thought of being separated from your brother that disturbs you…Or is it because you will be left alone?” she finally asked. She had wanted to add ‘and that his brother would not be alone,’ but thought better of touching on what might be a sore subject, though there’d been no trace of jealousy in his voice. Naveen continued. “Of the first, I can offer few words of comfort…I have only my mother for family, and we were never close. Few are the times that I miss her. Of the second, perhaps I may be of some help."

Momentarily taken aback by her frankness, Elladan didn’t say anything at first. Finally he said, “You’re telling me then that you’ve never felt loneliness?”

“I didn’t say that!” Naveen gave a small laugh. “Many times I’ve felt alone in a crowd of people, but very few times have I felt alone when I’m by myself.” Her brow furrowed for a moment and then she chuckled. “Did that sound right? I don’t know how else to explain it.”

“I understood,” Elladan chuckled with her. His mood had lightened at the sound of her laughter and since she’d volunteered a small bit about her background, he asked her a question. “How long have you been alone?”

“Ever since I was a young girl.” It was a short answer, not because she was ashamed of her background, Naveen was just wary. Once she’d told someone she considered a friend about her childhood and they hadn’t understood; in fact been revolted by what she’d told him. She’d didn’t want it to happen again. Then it dawned on her that Elladan might not know much about the ways of man. “It isn’t an unusual occurrence. People, young and old find themselves alone for various reasons…death, illness, abandonment, poverty, neglect…or by there own choice.” She steered the conversation back towards the original topic…Elladan. “What about your people? Surely it happens with the Eldar the same as man?” She was half-joking, but Elladan answered seriously, the melancholy look returning to his eyes. “Yes on rare occasions, but our numbers are few, especially now, and we tend to look out for each other.”

“So you won’t be alone.” Twisting at the waist she smiled, trying to lighten his mood and looked behind her, gesturing toward the house. [/i]“You have all of this. The house, the grounds and many people here who care about you.”[/i] It was hard for Naveen, who hadn’t called any one place home in countless years, to image how anyone who lived in a place such as Imladris could feel alone.

‘But it won’t be the same. Without Elrohir, who would he confide in? His twin was the only one who really understood his affinity to the world of men,’ Elladan thought to himself and was about to tell Naveen that very thing, when he heard someone calling his name. Turning he saw, Turgil one of Curandir’s assistants, hurrying down the path toward them. Naveen could tell the interruption displeased him when he quietly said, “You are right. Here, one can never truly be alone.”


~


~
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Postby Tempest » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:51 pm

There was something always behind Eldarion's eyes that Tempest did not understand. She had known such men before: men who hid from others and themselves. Their end had always been the same, for it was in the nature of men to confide, to share their sorrows and anger, and it remained true that those who did not turned it in upon themselves and caused the destruction of many.

Of course, such men usually cherished a bitterness, hatred or insecurity that drove them forward. Perhaps this man could escape, if only he did not possess a pernicious soul. But, she had never known a man who did not, in the secret places of his heart, harbor darkness. For that was the great irony: Middle Earth would never be rid of malice and evil unless all human kind were removed. The elves and men always cited the cruelty and darkness of the orcs as a reason for distrust and obliteration, but she had seldom found a difference between them. The orcs only wore their darkness more openly, while men were able to deceive themselves and others for a time.

The same heart remained in both. She had seen what men could do. She had seen their justice. Their mercy. The memory was blazed into her consciousness as an ever present pain. She carried it always, and the weight was almost unbearable. But bear it she would, for to forget was a greater betrayal.

The spirit, however, was not a man. She could not see his heart so clearly; his true motives remained hidden behind a veil of shadow. Eldarion had said that she knew more of the spirit than he. Perhaps. Of his intentions towards her, she had little doubt. She did not think he would attempt another assassination, for the truth was, there was no one left for her to call friend and be deceived. And, Kylab had been a troll. It was his nature, after years of servitude imposed upon his race, to be a slave. To have his mind controlled and his will shaped by someone stronger. The elves and men, they did not share this inheritance, and therefore she doubted that the spirit had the power to exert the same level of control over their minds.

She did not mention these thoughts to Eldarion, but instead said, "I will send a message ahead to my troops at the Tower so that they will not be caught unawares and think they are under attack when they see your forces approaching. If there is nothing else to discuss, my lord, I need to brief my lieutenant and those I brought with me. When I have talked with them, I will return, and we can go over final preparations."

She paused before she turned to go, as a thought passed quickly through her mind. "Your sister..." she asked in a low voice, "I have heard that she...that she had the power of sight."

Eldarion looked taken aback, so unexpected was the question, and so far from his thoughts at that moment. "My sister?"

Tempest proceeded slowly, for there was a sudden clearing of her mind and she perceived a danger not calculated before. "Such gifts are... dangerous. It is often impossible to separate the truth from the images. She may prove a snare to you, one unseen until too late." She leaned forward slightly as she added, "Just as Kylab was to me."
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Postby Tempest » Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:07 am

Days passed and she did not return.

The waiting was the worst, the long, slow wait of death. The Mouth of Sauron felt it with him almost every moment and it pressed on him like an inescapable weight. Even as his army grew around him and the crevices of Mordor daily revealed more swarming creatures, his mood grew darker. The Spirit would return soon and Tempest had not fulfilled her promise.

The West had not come.

Either that, or she had betrayed him sooner than he had predicted. He had not failed to notice that the troll she traveled with had left a few nights previously, and this worried him. The creature had been brooding and sullen, but his presence had at least assured him that Tempest would return. But then, the creature had slinked away without a word, and there were whispers in the camp, for it was viewed as a bad sign, an abandonment.

Sometimes, as he walked the perimeter of the tower, the Mouth could almost imagine it was the older days, when Barad-Dur was in its prime. He could almost taste the smoke and metal and hear the guttural cries of orcs and the screams of the Nazgul. And sometimes he would turn his eyes expectantly toward the tower, as if sensing the presence of his master.

But there was only emptiness now, an entire world crumbled and dispersed like dust on the wind. That agony. That final, terrible, piercing wail---how it haunted him still!

His sorcery had saved him that day, but his power was diminished. His wits were needed now---so he turned to his books. His desperation gave him discernment, and he found that truths long hidden from his eyes were now revealed.

The strength of men was capable of great things, greater than he had imagined. He had known the stories. He had poured over the contents of the past, and been stirred by the images of his ancestors, of Ar-Pharazôn, Meneltarma, and the Downfall of Númenor. But never before had he seen the truth, never really understood what the stories meant.

And, reading between the lines of history, the Mouth of Sauron found the answers that had eluded him.
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Re: The Gathering Storm – Winner, Silver Thread Award (Best

Postby Naiore » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:17 pm

The Halls of Mandos would not receive Naiore now, and there were some who wished that it would never receive her. So it was that Naiore awakened in the depths of Barad Dur. Still laying there in her attire, though her hair was tangled with the dirt of the filthy air that filled the place. Hungry and but a wraith in appearance, she found that her hand was able to slip out of the shackle. Likewise the other. Working her feet out, she found she was free, if weakened and barely able to walk. She was forgotten in the dungeons, and she would use this to her advantage to escape ...
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