Shadow over Arnor

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

Postby Hunter » Fri Jul 27, 2001 10:42 pm

Michrel’s eyes searched the edge of the small clearing around his sister’s home, his face creased with worry. <i>‘Where are you Morghan?’</i> and he glanced skyward again, measuring the distance the sun had moved since the last time he had checked.<BR><BR>Morghan had left shortly after waking; telling him only that she planned to pick berries and to search for certain plants that were in season. Lazily he had declined her invitation to join her, and now he regretted it.<BR><BR>After seeing to his horse, Michrel had examined the small hut his sister called home. Noticing a shutter hanging loose and remembering the banging sounds during the storm, he had decided to fix it for her. On the ground next to the hut, he noticed a slight depression in the soft earth and bent to examine it. A footprint, one that was not his, and he was sure it had not been made by Morghan.<BR><BR>A flash of movement seen through the trees and the faintly heard sound of soft singing reached his ears and he walked to the path that he could see Morghan approaching on. Taking the basket from her arm and lifting the cover, he smiled as she said, <i>“There are elderberries that I will press to make wine, and some mushrooms that we will eat tonight.”</i> <BR><BR>Strolling slowly toward the hut, Michrel asked, <i>“Why do you live here, alone and isolated?”</i> <BR><BR>Morghan laughed, <i>“I like it this way. And besides, I am not completely alone. Some of the folk from Bree and the surrounding area visit me on occasion, though they seek mostly my herbs for healing. A few come out just to talk and I share what knowledge I can with them of the things I have learned.”</i> Looking at his face, she saw concern. <i>“Why do you ask this?”</i><BR><BR>Michrel stopped and looked at her, <i>“I have found signs that there was someone here during the night.”</i> His solemn face gave her pause, then she shrugged, <i>“Whoever it was probably saw you here and left, not wishing to disturb me.”</i><BR><BR>He turned to look at her, gripping her arm, <i>“Morghan, there is a shadow being cast over the land, even here. Be wary of strangers who should happen by.”</i> The intensity of his words frightened her, and she promised. <i>“I will Michrel. Now let us go in, and I will start your meal.”</i><BR><BR>----------------------------------<BR><BR><i>“There, that’s the last of it.”</i> Courtney said to herself as she emptied the scraps from the kitchen into the trough for the pigs. She stretched her back, then pulled her hair off of her neck, letting the evening breeze cool her from the heat of the kitchen. <BR><BR>Turning back to the Inn, she caught a glimpse of movement past the corner of the building. <i>“Bill…”</i> she called out, <i>“Burle is looking for you.”</i> Waiting for an answer, she shrugged when none came, then slowly walked to the back door, in no hurry to re-enter the hot kitchen.<BR><BR> <BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Fri Jul 27, 2001 11:36 pm

Hayna talked with Anna and she seemed a nice girl to him. But he took notice as he conversed of one he had seen at Forsaken talking to one here. Hayna took note of the face of the one he talked to and re-aquainted himself with that of Bill Ferny. In a lull in the converse, Hayna asked Anna to look at the two men and asked her what she knew of them. She looked and turned saying,<BR><BR><i>"Bill? he's my cousin. Dont care much for him as he is always looking for an angle. Beware of him. The other I had not seen before."</i><BR><BR>She sat quiet and as she talked she drew on a small parchment the scene of Bill and the man intently conversing while Hayna sipped his ale slowly and watched Anna draw.<BR>--------<BR><BR>Forcwyn saw tweo enter that were not there before. She served them some ales that they requested, and as the night went on they were getting rather hammered on the drink. As she took a last order from them, one slid his hand onto her thigh and she skillfully removed it. But he stood and looked intently at her as she stepped away saying,<BR><BR><i>"One minute for your ales."</i><BR><BR>Forcwyn was getting used to it, but she cared for this life not. At least she didnt have to take up swords and kill here....<BR>---------<BR><BR>Halasian came to the Pony late this night, and he entered and looked around. Stepping to thew bar he ordered an ale and drank thirstily. His horse needed rest as did he from the long ride from the north, and he would stay in the common room for awhile. He eyed everyone there and he saw Anna drawing at a table nerar the back with a man sitting with her. Interesting. But no sign of any who pursue. But he could trust no one. Leaning against the bar he eyed all who were still present in the common room as Barliman scurried about the tables cleaning up empties and serving the one who remained.
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sat Jul 28, 2001 7:52 pm

Wyoun took his heavy full length hooded cloak from his pack and put it one and pulled the hood about his face as he made his way towards Bree.<BR><BR>Wyoun walked for some time deep in though. From time to time a traveler would pass by and give him a strange look. He guessed that he was getting closer to the town ship.<BR><BR>When the Blood Crows come to power he decided he would take this land for himself. Wyoun came out of deep thought, for walking towards him was a man, yet not a man, a dwarf... yet not a dwarf... it was half a man... Wyoun laughed.<BR><BR>"Well, sir, I not be knowing if yer laughing at me, but it seems we Hobbits are here to amuse the big people like your self?"<BR><BR>"Hob bit, hobbit, hobbit," Wyoun tried the name a few times... yes it suited them... "I meant no disrespect master Hobbit" the name still coming strangely to his lips, Wyoun bowed. "Could you tell me if there is an Inn worth staying in?"<BR><BR>The hobbit gave Wyoun a funny look... there is the pony, it would fit the likes of you I would say, good day to you sir." and the Hobbit was on his way."<BR><BR>"The Pony it is then." and an hour later he was at it's doors. There were many of these "Hob-bit's" in this town" Wyoun walked in his hood covering his face and other features... he was met by a fat red faced man..."can I help ye sir?"<BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Sun Jul 29, 2001 8:19 am

Halasian noted the man who walked in and the familiarity of the step tensed him. Halasian watched him non-chalantly, but didnt take note of Hayna watching him. Hayna also noted the interest Halasian took in the newcomer. The thinned crowd hid little, and Anna remained quiet even though tshe had moved around to Hayna's side. She drew again on the parchment a scene of the hooded man in the doorway.
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sun Jul 29, 2001 10:30 pm

Wyoun did not even look at butterbur, as he scanned the room there were many men and more than a few hobbits.<BR><BR>As he took the view in he noticed Halasìan and his son, Wyoun gave Halasìan a slight nod and smiled deep within his hood.<BR><BR>Wyoun had practiced his western accent and used it well now. "I shall have roasted meat, fresh hot bread, fresh cheese and warm wine." With that Wyoun pressed a gold coin into the mans fat sweaty palm, and then went and found a table in a dark corner where he could maintain eye contact with Halasìan. The men seated at the table soon left when Wyoun sat with them.<BR>
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Postby Hunter » Sun Jul 29, 2001 10:47 pm

Forcwyn stepped away as the man looked at her, then turned, stepping out of his reach. He continued to watch her and sat down to ribald jokes from his companion. <i>“Told ye that she wouldn’t go fer it Sardo,”</i> the man laughed loudly, then quieted as Sardo glared at him.<BR><BR>Forcwyn heard the laughter, ignored it and turned to the man who had just entered and seated himself at a table far from the other two. <i>‘They can wait a bit for their ale, it will do them no harm,’</i> she thought as she smiled a welcome to the stranger. He was of medium height, well muscled, with a foreign look to him and he had the appearance that he had traveled long. She noted that though his manner was pleasant, the smile on his lips did not reach his dark eyes. <BR><BR>Returning from the kitchen, she served first the newcomer his ale, then walked over to where the two men sat. Staying out of reach of the one called Sardo, she set the mugs down and turned, but not quick enough. Simmering with anger at her rebuff, Sardo grabbed her wrist, pulling her toward him and cruelly twisting her arm to her back. Forcwyn winced as he forced her arm higher, bringing his face close to hers. <i>“Too good for me bar wench?”</i> He sneered as his free hand began to grope her.<BR><BR>Her eye’s blazed and she hissed at him in anger, <i>“I’m no…”</i> she stopped. The dark eyed stranger stood behind Sardo, the tip of his dagger pressed beneath his ear. <i>“Let the lady go.”</i> he said in a calm threatening tone. <BR><BR><i>“Hey!”</i> Jarod had called out from behind the bar when he had seen what was happening and stepped forward brandishing a cudgel. <i>“Break it up or I start breakin’ some heads,”</i> he threatened.<BR><BR>Sardo stumbled heavily as the man shoved him aside. <i>“I mean no harm…”</i> he said smoothly, <i>“Just protecting the lady.”</i> He added as he bowed his head to Forcwyn.<BR><BR>Sardo tried scrambling to his feet, his hand fumbling for the dagger at his side. The cudgel came down sharply on his shoulder and he groaned. <BR><BR><i>“The only movement you better be doing to crawling for the door.”</i> Jarod growled, then with concern asked Forcwyn, <i>“Are you alright?”</i><BR><BR><i>“Yes…”</i> she answered. <BR><BR><i>“Get her some brandy from behind the bar while I see to this scum.”</i> Jarod ordered. It was then that Forcwyn realized that she was shaking, but whether from fright or anger she could not tell. She felt a firm hand take her elbow and she was led to a chair where she watched as Jarod stood over Sardo, who was indeed crawling toward to door. <BR><BR><i>“Drink this,”</i> she looked up into dark eyes and lifted the glass to her lips. <i>“My name is Nárello, and I am at your service lady.”</i> <BR>
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Postby Hunter » Thu Aug 02, 2001 10:37 pm

Forcwyn listened to his voice, so smooth and comforting as she drank the brandy; the warm liquid flowing down her throat, flushing her cheeks…<BR><BR><i>“What…?”</i> Courtney asked, coming through the kitchen door and saw Jarod returning his cudgel to its accustomed place behind the bar. <BR><BR><i>“Never mind…take over for Forcwyn, will ya?”</i> <BR><BR><i>“But…”</i><BR><BR><i>“No buts!”</i> he scowled, and sighed as he rubbed his face, speaking in a low voice. <i>“Just do it Courtney. I don’t want no trouble when Halasìan returns.”</i> Turning he grumbled under his breath, <i>“Favors…humph…knew there would be trouble.”</i><BR><BR>Untying the dirty kitchen apron, Courtney smoothed her dress before walking out into the common room. Casually bantering with the few patrons who lingered, she joked with them trying to lighten the quiet mood that had settled over them, but she kept an eye on Forcwyn and the stranger who sat next to her. <BR><BR>Nárello watched as the woman sipped the brandy; his eyes missed nothing. Her striking profile, the lines of her check and jaw as she tilted her head, the color of her eyes at odds with the darkness of her hair. Her hand reached up, fingers combing back her hair, revealing a small scar almost hidden in the hairline. Then she spoke, thanking him for his assistance and he knew and smiled inwardly, <i>‘Yes, she is the one…’</i><BR><BR><i>“I must leave now lady, this was but a stop for rest and some refreshment.”</i><BR><BR>Forcwyn tried to thank him again, but he turned, his strides carrying him to the door before she could. Courtney was by her side and the two women watched as the door to the inn closed soundlessly behind him.<BR> <BR>-----------------------------<BR><BR>A single lantern cast a golden glow in the small room as Morghan sat at Michrel’s feet, listening while he talked more of his travels and their time spent apart. She watched his face while she listened and the changes that crept over it when he spoke of the rumors of darkness and the fighting he had seen. He did not tell her of the horrors he had witnessed, he couldn’t, but Michrel knew that she sensed unease in him <BR><BR><i>“…And so tomorrow I will ride into Bree to see if any Rangers are in the area. They hide themselves well, not drawing attention, but I will know them. For after all…”</i> he smiled sadly. And she knew he was remembering their father and his short time with them.<BR><BR><i>“Tomorrow! But that is too soon…”</i> <BR><BR><i>“Do not worry. If I find any Rangers, I have still to be accepted by them. And I will not leave without first seeing you again.”</i> his voice was light, he did not mean to cause her worry.<BR><BR>Tomorrow was too soon; she laid her head against his leg and felt his hand stroke her hair.<BR><BR>-----------------------------<BR><BR>Nárello rode until the Inn was no longer in sight then turned his horse off the road and into the concealing cover of Chetwood. The rising moon in the night sky cast deep shadows but he traveled as surely as if the sun shone clear and bright. Halting his horse, he cocked his head, listening, then called a single ‘caw.’ The flap of wings was heard and he raised his arm, watching as a raven lit on his outstretched arm. <BR><BR>The bird tilted his head; one eye watching carefully as Nárello stroked the glossy breast feathers while talking to it in a strange language, then ruffled it’s feathers and flew off. Watching as the bird rose in the air, a dark shadow against the night sky soon lost to even his sight, Nárello whispered, <i>“Yes Irgeroth, the mad Ranger’s wife has been found.”</i> <BR><BR>The message sent he dismounted and tethered his horse, leaving him to graze while he sat under the spreading limbs of a large beech tree, waiting for dawn. <BR> <BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Sat Aug 04, 2001 12:02 am

Halasian noted where the hooded man sat and he knew by the way his hair tingled that it was him. The one from the ruins of Tharbad. He noted his son was watching too and a girl busily flipped pages in a parchment and was seeming sketching all that went on there. Halasian sipped his ale as he turned and leaaned on the bar and saluted the hooded gent with his mug before taking a drink.<BR>------<BR>Forcwyn thought it strange that the man left in such a hurry after his eyes looked her over. He was kind but there was something....... Forcwyn went to her room and she felt bad she couldn't handle the job. It would happen again and she would not be manhandled. She was only trouble to Jarod and Courtney, who she knew was Halasian's squeeze for awhile now. Yes, she has been trouble for Halasian as well, and Hayna, her son worried always for her. No, she would be no more trouble for anyone. She stood and became dizzy, and she started to throw up, she didnt but held herself together as she looked in the water basin. The last time she felt like this was.... No! It couldn't be!<BR>------<BR>Hayna saw waht was transpiring and he stood and walked to the bar and stood with his face opposite that of Halasian.<BR><BR><i>"You know him.. I can tell."</i><BR><BR>He thought of Forcwyn and as a thought overcame him, a vision of wonder and dread came over him, and he decided he would leave this night. Draining his ale he nodded to Halasian and went to the table and took leave of Anna and retired to his room. But he prepared to leave, and soon he was out the window and to the stables, and he walked his horse to the gate of town heading east.
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sat Aug 04, 2001 1:44 am

Wyoun smiled deep under his cloak as Halasìan lifted his mug to him... 'Yes you remember me, noble ranger! But our time is not yet' Wyoun thought to himself.<BR><BR>Wyoun went to the bar where and stood not to far from Halasìan, the fat owner came over to him... "What can I do for you sir? Will you stay the night?" "No thank you sir, I will find my own bed tonight, but tell me good sir, I see that there are many Hobbits here, do you see many Ranger, it's said in my lands that trouble and death are good friends of rangers... it would be very sad to see such little people suffer because of the acts a ranger or two."<BR><BR>Butterburr looked strangely at the Blood Crow "Well, I not be understanding what your rightly saying, but yes trouble is often found in the company of rangers, but as for the little people as you call them, I ask that you use better words."<BR><BR>"I beg your forgiveness master" then Wyoun turned to Halasìan "If a man thought that he were in trouble in these parts a Hob-bit would be good company" with that Wyoun walked out the door and back towards Chetwood sure in his mind that Halasìan knew that if he tried anything that the Hobbits would suffer.<BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Sat Aug 04, 2001 1:31 pm

Halasian knew he would work up trouble. Of course trouble comes to the ones who protect the free peoples, and there were a few hardy Hobbits in this land as they are on the wilder side of the lands and not keeping to themselves in the Shire. Nad and Habad the twins, Mog, Danny... good fighters they are and some others. but families are scatered about here throughout Chetwood, mainly in the line of Staddle, Combe, and Archet. Halasian noted that Hayna was gone, and he knew he would have to get to Forcwyn soon. He finished his drink and left the Inn.<BR>------<BR><BR>Forcwyn lay ill for a time, and as the feeling settled, she gathered a few things together and took her pack and slipped out the window. She found her horse well cared for in the stable ahd she was glad to see him. The couple weeks of wenching was over for her, and she mounted up and slowly walked away, taking the road west. She kicked up tp a gallop as she left the sight of the Forsaken Inn.<BR><BR>Hayna was riding east with speed and in the darkness he could hear the footsteps of a horse approaching, and he veered off to wait their approach. Forcwyn slowed as she sensed movement in the dark, and as she walked her horse, she stopped and looked about. Hayna in the partial moonlight saw it was Forcwyn and whispered to her to get off the road. They hugged at their meeting and sat well off the road in some trees whispering of events at each Inn and of Halasian seeing one who followed them. THey listened for movement but heard only wind, and the night was broken by Forcwyn getting sick.
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sat Aug 04, 2001 8:06 pm

Wyoun followed the road to Chetwood for many hours until he seen a camp fire burning low... A voice came out of the night like a speeding arrow. "Come into the fire light and draw back your hood while you can still do so."<BR><BR>Wyoun froze... He could not tell where the voice came from so he did as he was told.
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Postby Hunter » Sun Aug 05, 2001 4:35 pm

<i>“Come into the fire light and draw back your hood while you can still do so.”</i> The figure froze, then ever so slowly drew back his hood. Nárello stepped from behind the beech tree, his sword at hand and advanced slowly until the tip was mere inches from the back of the man’s neck. <BR><BR><i>“There is no need…”</i> the stranger started to say, his hands out in a false show of friendship, but was cut short.<BR><BR><i>“No need? No need to use caution on one who comes upon a camp unannounced? I heard you long before you reached here, though you moved stealthily,”</i> the ironic tone was not lost on the man as he waited.<BR><BR>Nárello stepped forward and circled him slowly; the stranger started to turn, trying to follow his movements. <BR><BR><i>“Stand!”</i><BR><BR>The sword tip touched his shoulder, tracing a line down and across his back, catching the edge of the cloak and deftly flipping it aside. <i>“Unfasten the belt that holds your sword…slowly… keep your hands where they may be seen. Then you will sit by that tree and face the fire.”</i> <BR><BR>Nárello stayed in the shadows and when the man was seated at the fire, his hand in full view as ordered, he spoke. <i>“Now tell me why you did not announce your presence.”</i> He had sheathed his sword and held a long, thin bladed knife by the tip, tapping the hilt in the palm of his other hand. <i>“If your hands move, I will not miss at this distance.”</i> He said in a smooth, but deadly tone.<BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sun Aug 05, 2001 7:32 pm

Wyoun felt very uncomfortable under Nárello gaze. How ever he did all that he was asked. <BR><BR>"I will not miss at this distance".... Wyoun could hear the challenge to try something and the knowledge that he could carry out what he had clamed.<BR><BR>This man had heard him coming and had striped him of his sword "Akula", what next? What if this man ordered Wyoun to remove his glove? Surely this man was a Ranger.<BR><BR>Whatever rangers were, they still held to the honor that even the Blood Crows as dark rangers held to... Where was Irgeroth his master? And why had he chased after the ranger Halasìan, right into the heartland of everything the rangers were.<BR><BR>For a split second Wyoun lost his cool and cursed in his native eastern tongue... He knew that he had made a grave mistake...<BR><BR>"Sir, you have my sword and under the ancient code of honor I yield to you... What do you say sir?"<BR><BR>Wyoun stiffened as he heard the man draw closer...<BR>
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Postby Radagast » Mon Aug 06, 2001 7:00 pm

But it was not Irgeroth who received the message-bearing raven meant for him. No, the bird failed to find it's master anywhere in the region, and thus settled on the nearest Bloodcrow - Nilvoth Deathtouch, the cold Elf of Mirkwood gifted - or cursed - with the ability to drain life with his frigid hands.<BR><BR>Cooing softly to the Raven as it perched on his gloved hand, the Elf whispered, "So, she is nearby... this lady of the bold Ranger - a woman of a madman... Interesting..."<BR><BR>He ruffled the birds feathers, and then removed the glove from his other hand, revealing pale corpse-like skin. He stroked the bird once, and it shuddered in pain and flapping its wings in a vain attempt to escape the mad Elf.<BR><BR>"An interesting woman she must be... Perhaps a suitable trophy, at least for awhile... First, that Ranger must be laid in the cold earth. What was his name? Hanya was it? Or was that his father? Hmmmm... One of them was called Halasian if my ears did not deceive me..."<BR><BR>Again, he reached to stroke the bird, and the poor thing shuddered as his hand drew near - stopping a hair's width from its feathers.<BR><BR>Nilvoth whispered, "Take me to them."<BR><BR>Eager to escape and fearful of the Elf, the raven did as commanded, and Nilvoth road onwards in pursuit of his prey...<BR><BR>-------------------------<BR><BR>Irgeroth had not faired as well.<BR><BR>His approach to the Wizard's Vale had been uneventful, but if the lack of guards was surprising, it paled in comparison to Saruman's sudden capture of the Dark Ranger and his bodyguard.<BR><BR>Under his breath, Irgeroth cursed all mages, but Saruman heard this and said, "Now, now, yea proud Bloodcrow - be careful of your words, lest I cut out your tongue! Poor Bloodtooth didn't appreciate that, now did he?"<BR><BR>Irgeroth sighed and thought over the last days as he looked about the sparce chamber he was held in. The grey walls of stone, single cot spoke of a confining cell, though the seperate washroom, desk, and small bookcase seemed completely out of place. <BR><BR>In truth, it wasn't much of a prison - it seemd more like a poorly-designed guest suite, which would suite Saruman's ill temper and growing instability quite well. Indeed, Irgeroth wasn't even sure if he was truly being held prisoner as an enemy, a wayward friend, or something else. Perhaps even Saruman didn't yet know. <BR><BR>Saruman muttered some arcane phrase to himself, and Irgeroth again cursed all wizard, but this time in his mind only.<BR><BR>The magical trap at the gate had been well-laid, though he suspected Saruman had been expecting someone else. In an unnatural fit of rage, the wizard had all of Irgeroth's troops slaughtered wholesale. Belicor the Blind had escaped through means unknown, but Irgeroth and Bloodtooth had been taken alive.<BR><BR>Unwisely, the Orc had failed to hold his tongue while in Saruman's presence, and thus the Wizard had it removed before condemning the Orc to his own armies as a slave. <BR><BR>Again Irgeroth sighed. Bloodtooth had been smarter than most Orcs, and though he was just another replaceable bodyguard, he did hate to half to find another with his skills and loyality. Ah, well... Orcs did have a habit of dying easily.<BR><BR>Saruman shook him free of his thoughts, saying, "You are just as replaceable as he is."<BR><BR>Irgeroth was startled by this, but Saruman said, "No, I can't read your mind - not yet. Your defensives are good... most impressive... Many would have crumbled by now, but your strength will aid you - if nothing else, it will compensate for your foolishness in trying to destroy Rivendell. Did you really believe you could stand up against an Elven King like Elrond?"<BR><BR>Irgeroth knew he couldn't have done so, but there was that small part about Saruman helping him in the assault. Apparently, the somewhat unstable wizard had forgotten about that.<BR><BR>Again came the Voice, "I will have a new assignment for you shortly, but for now, linger here and collect your thoughts..."<BR><BR>Saruman departed and the heavy door closed and locked behind him.<BR><BR>Irgeroth shook his head, once more cursing all wizards, and mad ones above all others.
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Postby Hunter » Tue Aug 07, 2001 2:04 pm

Nárello’s eyebrow raised a fraction on hearing the eastern tongue spoken and he studied the man closer in the flickering firelight. That the man was uncomfortable was obvious, but he was not afraid. He had been caught through his own fault and if he decided to let him live, he would learn from his mistakes. <BR><BR><i>“What say I?”</i> Nárello spoke smoothly as he turned the knife in his hand. <i>“I say I have no honor but my own, and it is the only reason you yet live.”</i><BR><BR><i>“You have yet to answer my question.”</i> Why had this man crept through the forest almost noiselessly? If Nárello had not been listening intently for another’s approach he might have missed the sounds that had betrayed him.<BR><BR><i>“And where do your loyalties lie?”</i> The sudden question was meant to throw the man off-guard, and he had succeeded. The flicker of an eye towards his hands told him that this man had more to hide than why he crept through the forest. <i>“Remove your gloves,”</i> Nárello said softly, ready for anything when he noted the readiness for attack the man had assumed at his request. <BR><BR>Slowly the glove came off and a fire was lit in the man’s eyes, daring Nárello to act. Stepping forward, knife still in his hand, Nárello stooped to the ground across from the man, pushing up his sleeve and turning his arm toward the firelight. There, branded into the inner side of his upper arm, was the same design as on the ring the man wore. Dark eyes met and held the strangers' as Nárello spoke softly, <i>“Welcome brother.”</i><BR><BR>-----------------------------<BR><BR>It was late by the time Courtney had finished the clearing and cleaning of the common room after the last customer had left. Jarod helped, taking over the last of her duties that she had left unfinished in the kitchen. As the last chair was straightened and the room readied for the morning, Jarod came over carrying two mugs. <i>“Here ya go.”</i><BR><BR>Looking at him gratefully, she sat down and swallowed a long draught of the cool ale. <i>“So Jarod, what happened?”</i> leaning forward on the table, Courtney asked him.<BR><BR><i>“Ah Court, nothing much, until that man stepped in…He was quick, one minute sitting across the room, the next, a knife at Sardo’s neck.”</i> Jarod looked thoughtful as he lifted his mug to drink and Courtney waited.<BR><BR><i>“Something about him…”</i> Jarod shook his head slowly, then asked abruptly. <i>“Know where Halasìan is?”</i> <BR><BR><i>“No,”</i> she dropped her eyes to her ale, but not before Jarod saw the look of longing in her eyes. <i>“But you might ask Forcwyn.”</i> She said into her ale before taking another swallow.<BR><BR>Leaning forward, he took her hand, <i>“Why did you agree to this? To hide and watch over the wife of the man you love?”</i> His face showed concern, he had known Courtney for a long time and over the years they had developed a trusting relationship.<BR><BR><i>“Because he asked me to,”</i> she replied bluntly, letting him know that this topic was off limits, even to him, <i>“And besides…I like her…she is not what I expected.”</i> With a crooked grin and a shrug, she stood, <i>“Thanks for the drink…and the talk.”</i> On impulse she bent and kissed his cheek, then left the room. Jarod watched her as he downed the last of his ale, pushed back his chair and began to extinguish the lanterns.<BR><BR>Walking down the hallway to her room, Courtney hesitated at Forcwyn’s door, then tapped on it lightly, <i>“Forcwyn, is everything alright?”</i> Hearing no reply,she continued down the hall and entered her room, softly closing the door.<BR> <BR><BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Wed Aug 08, 2001 6:34 am

"Welcome brother..."<BR><BR>If Wyoun had been disemboweled the look on his face would have be softer, then the one that was now there.<BR><BR>"Brother, I am Wyoun apprentice to my master Irgeroth who is a lord among our ranks, it's with hope unlooked for that we have met." <BR><BR>Wyoun was given food and told his story to the master Blood Crow from the moment of his meeting with Irgeroth, his battle this Halasìan and his latest encounter with the ranger in Bree.<BR><BR>"Tell me please if you have any news from the east or of my Master... To be sure I was foolish to leave him so soon after starting my training... But my pride demanded that I face this ranger again."<BR>
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Postby Hunter » Sat Aug 11, 2001 11:17 am

Listening to Wyoun, Nárello let his mind wander, thinking back to his first meeting with Irgeroth. Their numbers had been few in those days, the beginning days of the Blood Crows…<BR><BR><i>“…if you have any news from the east or of my Master...”</i> the question brought him back to the present and he eyed Wyoun.<BR><BR><i>“Little news have I had from him since he journeyed to Isengard. I have traveled much and my dealings with him have been few, mostly messages sent on what news I have gathered.”</i> <BR><BR>Rising, Nárello looked down at Wyoun, holding his gaze; <i>“It is good that your pride has led you to seek the Ranger Halasìan. He has been a thorn in our side for too long now. But be careful, he is a sly one and not above using whatever tactics he deems necessary…As do I…”</i><BR><BR>The false dawn in the early hours lightened the forest and he moved toward his horse. <i>“Rest here until I return. I was awaiting the arrival of one such as you…a new recruit to our cause…and he would not approach if he saw you here.”</i><BR><BR>---------------------------------<BR><BR><BR>Tightening the straps of his saddle, Michrel was preparing to mount when Morghan walked from the hut. She was wearing a light cloak and a basket hung from her arm. Looking up at her brother as he sat his horse she asked. <i>“You will return, promise?”</i><BR><BR><i>“Yes, in a few days time.”</i> His brow furrowed as he asked a bit sharply, <i>“Where are you going?”</i><BR><BR><i>“To bring these roots that I gathered from the marshes to an elderly woman who lives near Archet.”</i> And lifted the cloth covering the basket. <i>“I will be back late this evening.”</i><BR><BR><i>“Remember what I…”</i><BR><BR>Smiling, <i>“Yes, I will be careful. The paths I travel through Chetwood are known only to me. Now go, and worry not about me.”</i><BR><BR>He smiled in return, then turned his horse, riding slowly from her. Morghan watched, then sighed as she turned, taking a different route through the forest.<BR><BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Mon Aug 13, 2001 5:58 am

<b>On the edge of the Trollshaws before you get to the Last Bridge.</b><BR><BR>The darkness had closed in on them before they knew it.<BR><BR>"How much longer are you going to take in there? I hope a troll comes and eats you alive, you idiot! What is taking you so long?" His brother called out.<BR><BR>From some where in the darkness of the woods came a sheepish voice... "Um, Dungle it's sticking to my hands again!"<BR><BR>That was it Dungle picked up his pack and started to walk down the East-West road to the last bridge. "I told you the last time! Use the paper" he yelled his parting shot at his twin brother Bungle.<BR><BR>A shrill scream broke the silence of the night as Bungle Iornhead came racing out of the forest with his pants around his feet with a huge troll after him.<BR><BR>For a moment Dungle thought about letting the troll catch and kill his brother... But he loved him very much.<BR><BR>The troll had eyes only for the fleeing dwarf, but massive blow from Dungles battle axe did two things it stopped the case and forced the troll the return to the forest for an easier meal now that it only had one and a half legs.<BR><BR>"Clean your hands and get up" And Bungle did so. And when he was on his feet a solid punch to his nose knocked him down again... "Now lets get going I think Halasìan is in Bree or near there."<BR><BR>A little later the brothers were camped on the other side of the last bridge.<BR>______________________________________________________________________<BR><BR>Kunarr was shown to his cell. He would savor the hate of the twin brothers for a long time to come.<BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Mon Aug 13, 2001 7:37 am

In the darkness, with the moon hiding at times in the moving clouds, Halasían rode in stealth next to the road eastward. He listened and smelled, and the night spoke of evil about. He stayed nort of the road on old tracks and soon he heard an awful sound ahead. Dismounting, he crept slowly toward the sound. In the cold greyness of the moonshadow, he could see two huddled together, and realized it was Hayna and Forcwyn. Stepping in front of them, Hayna had his sword drawn and stood over Forcwyn in a flash, and Halasían stood with no weapon drawn. His horse came up behind him and he went to see Forcwyn.<BR><BR><i>"Lady, you remained ere less than two weeks at the Forsaken, and now you are here and sick! Tell me, why do you come?"</i><BR><BR>Forcwyn looked at him in the darkness and smiled slightly in her distress.<BR><BR><i>"I am with child."</i> she whispered before collapsing in Halasian's arms. Halasian was shocked at the news, and remembered the time in the caves of the South Downs. He would have to get her out of there, and discussed with Hayna their plan of action. Halasían got them mounted and quietly they moved along trails long unused but by few through the woods of Chetwood, resting little as the sky to the east started to blue with the rising sun.
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Postby Radagast » Mon Aug 13, 2001 5:55 pm

Irgeroth was left in darkness in Saruman's tower, but the old Bloodcrow was neither in fear or awe of the wizard. In truth, he was a bit bored. The old mage was obviously either mad or under some other power, and without him, the dreams of taking Rivendell were gone. But there would still be other lands for the taking - other corpses for the Blood Crows to feast upon.<BR><BR>Hopefully, Saruman would soon let him out of this blasted cell and tell him what this "special mission" was.<BR><BR>-----------------------------<BR><BR>Meanwhile, Nilvoth drew ever closer to the innocent town - the flickering lights could be seen by him from afar in the pale moonlight, and he'd heard the words "Prancing Pony" on the lips of passer-bys on the road from his hiding place in the underbrush.<BR><BR>Perhaps at this Inn, he might find those he hunted - or maybe down another road, where some dark strangers were rumored to have vanished. Other Bloodcrows, perhaps? Or common thugs to toy with and then discard?<BR><BR>Yes, this gloomy night held many possibilites for the hunt...<BR>
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Postby Arthedainian » Tue Aug 14, 2001 8:58 pm

<b>Sir Forinor</b> and his three men came to the <b>Forsaken Inn</b> and entered. It looked ok, so the ordered ales and asked if the field by the barn would be ok to sleep in as they wished not to quarter in the Inn. They finished the ales and some food, and smiling at <b>Courtney</b>, <b>Forinor</b> gave her a tip and they went out and slept. The next morning they rode south, heading for <b>Gondor</b>. <BR><BR>As they were passing the <b>South Downs</b>, eerie figures were seen moving in the dark. Soon many orcs issued forth as the 4 men of <b>Gondor</b> battled, they were surrounded and one by one they fell, but not before the oecbodies stacked around them. As <b>Sir Forinor</b>stood alone in battle, an arrow found him and pierced his neck. He yelled and pulled out the arrow, and with his sword slew a few more orcs before a sword entered his lower back. <b>Forinor let out a groan as he fell, with visions of Lady Arwen passing before his eyes. Bleeding from his mouth and back, he pulled a scarf from his breast pouch and held it in his bloody hand, squeezng it as he gasped out, <BR><BR><i>"Dear Lady Arwen, may we meet again in the waves of time eternal! You in your immortality are freed and I in the passing of generations. Look for me in your dreams!"</i><BR><BR>And as the sword was pulled from him, his blood stained the ground and he was trampled by the remaining orcs. <BR><BR>Up on a hill there stood smiling one of the Bloodcrowes, satisfied in the accomplishment of the day.
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Postby Hunter » Wed Aug 15, 2001 8:56 am

The low morning sun slanted through the trees as Nárello watched the retreating figure fade into the forest. He had no doubt that the younger man would complete the mission he had been given, for he was eager to please and be accepted by the Blood Crows. Nudging his horse to a slow walk, Nárello turned and rode further west, there was one more thing he had to do before returning to his camp and Wyoun.<BR><BR>---------------------<BR><BR><i>“Forcwyn?”</i> Courtney called louder as she rapped at the door. When no answer came, she tried the door and finding it unbolted, pushed it slowly in. The room was empty, the bed neatly made, and a quick look in the empty chest that she had helped Forcwyn store her few things in told all. Courtney slumped on the bed, pushing her hair back from her head, <i>‘Where have you gone and why Forcwyn? And what will I tell Halasìan?’</i> Resting her head on her hand as her arm rested on her knee, she sat for awhile then sighed and stood. There were chores yet to do and those staying at the Inn would soon be awake. <BR><BR>The common room held only a few and Courtney served them silently, her mind elsewhere. The four men who had slept in the barn entered and ate quickly, talking quietly amongst themselves. Their mood was somber and did not help to lighten Courtney’s mind as she served them even though the man who appeared to be their leader had caught her appraising eye and remembered the tip from the night before. <BR><BR>The morning meals finished and the clearing up done, she sat with Jarod talking quietly and noticed the entrance of a stranger. She sighed, pushing herself from her chair, greeted him and served him the ale he requested. When she sat again next to Jarod, he told her, <i>“With Forcwyn missing and Anna gone who knows where, you will need help. Go out and see if you can find Ferny. He can help in the kitchen.”</i> She nodded and left, not noticing the eyes of the stranger followed her with interest.<BR><BR>The fresh air felt good against her face and she walked slowly to the barn, thinking that Bill may be hiding there, shirking his chores while sneaking a drink from a bottle she knew he kept hidden there. Walking into the darkened building and looking around, she could find no sign of him, and thought of the other places he might be. One of them was a shed used to store odds and ends no longer needed in the Inn, set back near the trees, and she made for this. <BR><BR>The old door creaked open at her touch, the interior dark with but a few streams of sunlight shining through the cracks in the walls. She heard a noise farther in and entered, calling out softly, <i>“Bill, you there? Jarod is looking for you.”</i> The doorway darkened behind her and she turned, thinking to see Bill there. She saw an upraised arm, then nothing as she fell to the dirt floor.<BR><BR>Coming to, Courtney felt the throbbing in her head and the motion of a horse as her body swayed. She could not see, for her eyes were bound, as were her hands. The horse stopped and rough hands pulled her down; legs trembling, she fell to her knees, trying to think clearly. Footsteps approached, her head was pulled back, and she heard a blow striking someone. <i>“Fool, this is the wrong woman,”</i>and then silence as the next blow struck her and she crumpled to the ground. <BR>
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Postby Hunter » Sun Aug 19, 2001 12:59 am

Nárello’s eyes blazed as he tried to quell his mounting fury. <i>“Fool!”</i> he hissed again as he stood over the young man. To his credit, the new recruit did not cower but looked up as Narello stood over where he had fallen. <BR><BR><i>“She was the only woman there.”</i> He said through clenched teeth as he slowly rose to his feet, wiping away the blood that flowed from his lip. <BR><BR>The two men stood facing each other, until a soft moan came from the woman half-forgotten at their feet. <i>“Get rid of her then.”</i> Nárello said curtly, as he turned and stared into the forest beyond. The woman he had seen at the Inn had to have been Halasìan’s wife, of that he had no doubt. Where was she now and did her sudden departure from the Inn mean that Halasìan was nearby, closer than Nárello thought?<BR><BR><i>“Wait.”</i><BR><BR>The recruit had turned Courtney over, bared her neck and held his knife blade above her throat. His raised eyes held a questioning look. <BR><BR><i>“If she was the only woman as you say, she knew Halasian’s wife.”</i> He put his hand to his chin, watching as the woman showed signs of reviving. <i>“Step back, so that she will not see you,”</i> he whispered and knelt down to untie the cloth from her eyes and cut the rope binding her hands.<BR><BR><i>“Lady? Are you alright!”</i> his voice as changed to one full of concern and the recruit stepped back into the cover of some trees to watch and listen. <BR><BR>Hands were helping her into a seated position as Courtney came to. Her head ached and she felt something pressed against her lips, then water trickled down her chin until she opened her mouth. His face was close to hers and she pushed herself weakly back from him, something about him stirred her memory, but the pain in her head made it hard for her to concentrate, and the sun behind him made her eyes hurt as she tried to see his face clearly.<BR><BR><i>“What…?”</i> she asked, then remembered, and looked around in confusion and fright.<BR><BR><i>“He is gone.”</i> Nárello told her that he had happened across the sight of a man standing above her, as she lay unconscious on the ground and how the man had run on his approach. <BR><BR><i>“I fear Lady that he knows these forests far better than I, for I could not catch him and feared to leave you alone too long.”</i> His smooth voice was calming and she relaxed slightly. <BR><BR><i>“Did he hurt you? Where are you from?”</i> <BR><BR><i>“No…I don’t think so…I work at the Forsaken Inn. I was outside looking for my cousin…then someone hit me. That is all I remember.”</i><BR> <BR><i>“The Forsaken…It is fortunate that I came this way, for that is where I was headed.”</i> He looked at her for a moment and appeared to hesitate. <i>“I bear a message from an old friend to a lady who is there…his wife.”</i><BR><BR><i>“You mean Halasìan?”</i> her face lit at the mention of his name, <i>“He is near?”</i><BR><BR><i>“Yes, Halasìan,”</i> and Nárello smiled inwardly, <i>“Do you know if she is still there?”</i><BR><BR><i>“No, she left with out word during the night,”</i> she reached out, placing her hand on his arm. <i>“Is Halasìan coming for her?”</i>And the moment she utterd those words, she wanted to pull them back.<BR><BR>His manner changed abruptly, from caring to cold as he stood and looked down at her in disdain. <i>“No, I think she was had word from him by different means.”</i><BR><BR>Confused and frightened, Courtney looked up at him, her heart pounding as she remembered where she had seen him before. <i>“You…”</i> she whispered.<BR><BR>Ignoring her, Nárello spoke to someone she heard approach from behind, <i>“Finish her,”</i> he said and turned to leave. <BR><BR>Nárello heard her whisper Halasìan’s name; then silence. When he mounted his horse he saw that his recruit had acted swiftly, the woman lay on the ground, her eyes starring blankly and her blood pooling the ground from the gash across her neck.<BR><BR>He nodded his approval, saying as he rode in the direction of his camp where Wyoun awaited him, <i>“We will meet again once you have completed the other task I have set you.”</i><BR><BR>The young man watched as Nárello rode off, his trembling hand still holding the blood stained knife.<BR><BR>-------------------------------<BR><BR>The morning sun speckled the path as Morghan walked along the forest track. The way wound through the forest and she took her time, stopping to search for plants that grew in hidden places. She had spent the evening with the elderly woman near Archet, deciding not to take the trails through the forest at night and was glad of it now. Her basket held a few plants and berry’s that she otherwise would have passed by during the evening in her rush to be home.<BR><BR>As she climbed a low rise and topped the hill, the low murmur of voices halted her and she stood trying to find the source. She thought it odd that someone would be so deep in Chetwood and remembered the words of her brother. She spotted movement below and crept forward quietly, ready to flee if the need arose. Closer she came until she saw a woman bent over and a man standing near. Horses stood nearby and there seemed to be something wrong with the woman as she shakily stood, the man lending an arm. One look at the woman’s pale face and all fear left. <i>“She is not well!”</i> she exclaimed and stepped out from the trees that had shielded her. <BR><BR>
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Postby Radagast » Sun Aug 19, 2001 6:30 pm

The path taken by the dark bird was true, and the beast soon returned to Narello, leading Nilvoth closer to his prey. But the mad Elf didn't confront the other Blood Crow; he kept his distance, seeing no reason to yet involve another lowly mortal in his work. For now, he would trail the Dark Ranger, seeing what roads he takes, so that he might determine how he fit into this bloodsport.<BR><BR>--------------------------------<BR><BR>"Ah, I see you have rested well," Saruman's voice called out above the creaking of the cell door.<BR><BR>"Well enough, I suppose," Irgeroth replied. <BR><BR>"Good... You are well-rested, and you will need your wits about you, for I send you forth for a vital task."<BR><BR>Irgeroth wondered what madness lay in the wizard's words this time. Every task with Saruman was supposedly vital, and all seemed to end in disaster. Unfortunately, he was not in a position to resist, but Saruman was a fool to think the Blood Crows his pawns. Some day, he would learn that fact the hard way.<BR><BR>"Yes... It is time to tell you what I seek. It is a small thing, really. A simple golden ring - an item of no worth, save to the scholarly."<BR><BR>Irgeroth knew he was lying, but nodded in agreement.<BR><BR>"The ring has no carvings, gems, or any other adornments, but it is of great value to me, and to me alone - I know your kind, Irgeroth, and you would sell this ring to the highest bidder in a moment! Don't waste your time - the money you get for it won't be worth my wrath."<BR><BR>Actually, Irgeroth was thinking over how to learn of the ring's nature, but he hid that fact by saying, "Of course, my master - I would never betray you."<BR><BR>"See that you don't. The ring was last seen around the Anduin River. Little else I can say of it; I have only heard rumors, some dealing with short creatures called Halfings, but it seems impossible that they should have this Ring."<BR><BR>Irgeroth knew a bit of the Halflings, but wondered if the wizard was actually thinking of the race or his own delusions.<BR><BR>"Find this ring, and find it soon! There are others who want it as well! Return to me when you have it, and not before or I will tear out your tongue and leave you to mate with the Orcish females!"<BR><BR>Irgeroth paled at that thought even as Saruman hurried him away from his cell. His equipment was returned to him, and he was given hastily written notes on his mission. Soon, he found himself outside the Ring of Isenguard.<BR><BR>The old Blood Crown shook his head and cursed wizard's once more before leaving that dark place...
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Postby Snowdog » Sun Aug 19, 2001 8:16 pm

As she climbed a low rise and topped the hill, the low murmur of voices halted her and she stood trying to find the source. She thought it odd that someone would be so deep in Chetwood and remembered the words of her brother. She spotted movement below and crept forward quietly, ready to flee if the need arose. Closer she came until she saw a woman bent over and a man standing near. Horses stood nearby and there seemed to be something wrong with the woman as she shakily stood, the man lending an arm. One look at the woman’s pale face and all fear left. “She is not well!” she exclaimed and stepped out from the trees that had shielded her. <BR>--------<BR><BR>Hayna held Forcwyn as she finished her vomiting. Hayna heard then the approach of someone but thought it was Halasían. The words of a woman caused hayna to stand and with his hand on his sword he stepped between Forcwyn and the woman.<BR><i>"Who are you and what do you wish?'</i><BR><BR>Hayna eyed her suspiciously, but Forcwyn stepped to his side and looked at her. <BR><i>"She means us no harm. It is us who are strange here."</i><BR><BR>She smiled slightly at the woman and Hayna took his hand away from his sword. It was then movement in the shadowing trees stepped out and a hand went over the womans mouth and a knife was at her throat.<BR><i>"You will not cry out, and you will turn slowly so I may look at you."</i><BR><BR>Halasian spun her around slowly as she held her basket of herbs. <BR><BR><i>"You are the healer hermit are you not? Yes, I know these paths as well, though time away fogs some memories. My wife need help as she is with child."</i>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Mon Aug 20, 2001 1:24 am

The brothers made there way down a winding path when Dungle noticed the crumpled form of a lady on a grassy mound. <BR>The two dwarves rushed over but did not expect what they found. <BR><BR>A once very beautiful lady lay there dead, blood drained and her neck cut almost all the way through. Bungle removed her personal belongings while Dungle dug a grave and cut some rough stones to lay on top.<BR><BR>Sometime later the disheartened brothers were on there way.<BR>
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Postby Hunter » Thu Aug 23, 2001 12:15 am

Her eyes went wide with alarm when the hand clasped her mouth and the cold steel touched her skin. <BR><BR><i>“You will not cry out, and you will turn slowly so I may look at you.”</i> <BR><BR>Morghan nodded to show that she understood and was turned to face the man. He viewed her with a critical eye, then said, <i>“You are the healer hermit are you not? Yes, I know these paths as well, though time away fogs some memories. My wife need help as she is with child.”</i><BR><BR><i>“Yes, some call on me to heal them, but I am no hermit.”</i> She met his gaze levelly, then turned to the woman and took her arm. They walked a short distance from the two men, Morghan leading her to a fallen tree that she could sit on and rest. Kneeling at her side, Morghan searched her face then laid a hand upon her forehead and talked to her in low soothing tones. <i>“Is the sickness you feel constant or is it only at certain times? I have herbs that may help but not with me.”</i><BR><BR>Forcwyn looked at Morghan; her mute eyes filled with pain as another wave of nausea hit her and Morghan held her as she bent over. It passed quickly for she had nothing left in her and while she rested, Morghan walked over to Halasìan and Hayna.<BR><BR><i>“I have herbs that may help her, but they are at my home on the edge of the marsh.”</i> She glanced back at Forcwyn and lowered her voice as she looked straight at Halasìan. <i>“This child she carries will be hard on her, for she is no longer young. I can help her, but my advice to you would be to not travel far but rather take her back to her home. She needs to be cared for and to rest.”</i> <BR>
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Postby Snowdog » Fri Aug 24, 2001 8:01 am

Halasian with sadness looked at Morghan saying,<BR><BR><i>"Alas, it will not be possible. For I am pursued to no end by the Blood Crows, and one in particular, and they have already tried to get me through my family. The home in Rohan we built is no more than ashes, and though she hates killing, she has killed, and her spirit grieves. I am afraid we cannot go to your house, for it will only endanger you, for they are close, I seeing him the other day at the Prancing Pony. Alas, we have no home. And I will not tell you where we are going for they willcome, and they will try and find out."</i><BR><BR>Halasian looked at Hayna who sat with his head in his hands pondering what to do. Forcwyn stood, feeling a little better and she came to Haiasian's side saying,<BR><BR><i>"We cannot endanger you though you are kind. My sickness will in time pass, but it has been so long since Hayna... Let us go to your house for a stop, then we go."</i><BR><BR>She looked at Halasian who didnt agree with this but thought the woman may be able to comfort Forcwyn, and they walked the narrow paths to her house.
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Postby Radagast » Fri Aug 24, 2001 6:15 pm

They had not gone far when Halasian stopped short, every sense tingling with nameless dread. <BR><BR>Something was wrong - they were not alone.<BR><BR>Hayna felt a presence as well, and he whispered, "What is it?"<BR><BR>Without turning, Halasian said, "Something is here. It must be one of Them - quickly, we must leave this place! Back to the roads! The chance of others on the path may spare us an attack! MOVE!"<BR><BR>They hurried off as fast as they could, hoping - praying - that whatever cold presence had found them would not follow.<BR><BR>Soon, a shadowy form atop a black steed rode out from under the overhanging leaves - it's prey was far ahead, but that gap could be quickly closed...<BR><BR>The Rangers didn't know if the road would be any safer, but anything was better than waiting for death in the heartless woods.<BR><BR>
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Radagast
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Postby Hunter » Wed Aug 29, 2001 5:00 pm

Riding through the forest in the direction of his camp, Nárello paused, then held out his arm. A raven landed on his wrist, shivering and digging its talons in tightly. He sat silent and grim as he examined the bird, noting its normally glossy breast feathers streaked with white. He knew then that the bird had not gotten through to Irgeroth. The raven would not speak of the fear that still gripped it and Nárello placed the bird on his shoulder as he rode on, more alert than he had been. <BR><BR>He came upon Wyoun tending the fire at his small camp. Dismounting and sitting silently before the small fire, Narello said nothing to him of his meeting with the new recruit, and Wyoun asked, <i>“ Will we seek out Halasìan together? He is near.”</i> <BR><BR>Raising cold hard eyes to Wyoun, Nárello answered him, <i>“Yes, we will seek him,”</i> and he glanced at the raven perched on his saddle. <i>“But we must be cautious. There is someone else who walks the shadows of this forest…”</i> <BR><BR>Rising and scattering the remnants of the fire he looked at Wyoun. <i>“You have no mount, but we will travel slowly while we seek signs of Halasìan.”</i><BR><BR>--------------------------------<BR><BR>Michrel rode slowly when he reached the road, his mind troubled. Ahead he could see the South Gate into Bree and he unconsciously wiped his hand against his breeches as he spurred his horse on. He rated a curious glance from the gatekeeper, who muttered <i>“More and more queer folk I see these days…”</i> as he passed; Michrel did not ask him what other stranger’s he meant. He knew that the Shire and surrounding area was being watched these days, watched by men such as himself and others…<BR><BR>Riding past first the houses of men, Michrel noted the far hillside dotted with smaller round windows and doors. These he guessed to be the homes of the ‘Little Folk’ as they were called in Bree. Finding a stable, he left his horse to be cared for and walked the streets, visiting the various Inns and taverns, always keeping an ear and eye open for any that looked to be a Ranger.<BR><BR>The sign of the Prancing Pony swung in the breeze as Michrel walked near and he could see through the windows that faced the road that the common room was full. Entering through the stone archway, he paused and listened to the hum of voices before climbing the short, broad steps to the open door.<BR><BR>A short, portly man with a baldhead and red, chubby cheeks spoke to him as he entered. <i>“Come in, come in. As you can see, it is a packed house this day. Find a seat.”</i> And he pointed to a far corner, <i>“There is one if you can reach it before it is taken.”</i> before he scurried away shouting, <i>“Nob! Run down to the cellar and fetch more ale.”</i><BR><BR>Getting ale from the bar, Michrel made his way across the crowded room, heading for the open seat on a bench next to a long table. A man stood with his back to Michrel, leaning over and talking to a woman seated out of sight. He turned as Michrel approached; glancing at him shrewdly as Michrel starred at the woman seated there.<BR><BR><i>“Hey Anna, know this guy?”</i> the man remarked as Michrel stood frozen. Looking up from her drawing, Anna glanced at Michrel, searching his face. <i>“No.”</i> she answered, then bent her head to her drawing.<BR><BR>Michrel staggered off to the side still shaken and leaned against the wall, drinking down the ale in one long swallow to steady his nerves. Her face was the same as… but he shook his head and looked elsewhere in the room but in her direction.<BR><BR>The man standing near Anna watched Michrel, studying his face where Anna had not. Walking over to where he leaned against the wall, the man asked curtly. <i>“She says she knows you not, yet your face says different.”</i><BR><BR><i>“She startled me for a minute,”</i> Michrel said cautiously. <i>“She looks like someone I met before.”</i><BR><BR><i>“As you remind me of someone.”</i> The man spoke softly and evenly, <i>“What is your name?”</i> <BR><BR>Michrel stood tall, almost defiantly as recognition began to dawn on him as he looked into pale gray eyes. <BR><BR><i>“Lachlan. Michrel Lachlan.”</i><BR><BR><i>“I though so,”</i> and the man turned without another word.<BR><BR><i>‘A Ranger!’</i> Michrel thought and followed after, halting the man as he walked toward the door.<BR><BR><i>“You may have known the boy, but the man before you is not him.”</i> Michrel held him firmly by the arm as he spoke.<BR><BR><i>“The boy I only met once, that was enough. The father I knew well.”</i> The man looked with disdain at the hand that held him.<BR><BR><i>“Then for my Father’s sake, hear me.”</i> Michrel said, and when the man nodded, <i>“For your Father’s sake…”</i> Michrel led him to some seats recently vacated and sat down. For a long time Michrel talked while the Ranger sat listening.<BR><BR>
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