<BR><BR><BR><BR>From the Mithril Knights Warrior's Guild--Knights-in-Training thread, October 14, 2002. Dirk gets some new goodies.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>The Lady Mithril Knight exited the room, leaving Dirk to ponder her words. “<i>…not only is patience a virtue...listening is a must</i>” He stood there long minutes, motionless, speculating on the cryptic message hidden within Parador’s kind invitation to visit the Guild’s armory in search of items that may be useful. <BR><BR>In the end, he decided to do as she bid. Even though he was well-armed: he had <i>Neleg Amlug</i>, the Dragon’s Tooth, in the high speech it was called <i>Carch Urulóki</i>, which he had always with him, attached now in the hip position upon his baldric, in its black leather sheath bound with fine gilded silver, a gift of his childhood mentor and teacher, Thranduil. Also attached to his sturdy leather baldric was his brace of throwing knives, four blades of hardened, blackened steel affixed cleverly in inverted sheaths at the small of his back devised and forged by the smithy Grechos of Dor-Dormoi, the capital city of Dorwinnion. Also, lashed to his saddlebags, there was the carved ash bow of Mirkwood, with its quiver of matching arrows. He had never lost a single arrow in the many battles he had seen in the short time since he had left his foster father’s house in search of his destiny. So long it seemed, since he had been a boy - the son of an innkeeper, cleaning the taproom floor and fetching kegs with his five older brothers. Yet it had only been a year and a half. He had since learned of his true heritage, fallen from grace for a short while and finally, utterly rejected his father’s legacy. He truly was a different person. He was a man – a man in search of meaning, in search of the answer to Glorfindel’s prophetic riddles. <BR><BR>“Ahem. Pardon me, Master Dirk. The Lady Parador bid me show you to your room, then to the armory.”<BR><BR>Dirk had been standing, wide-eyed, still staring at the empty threshold that Parador had used to quit his presence. His eyes were open, but he saw naught of the physical world. Now he had been roused from his reverie by a fair, polite voice. A voice like that of all elves, clean and pure, a stark contrast to the broken and ruined whisper that was Dirk’s own. Reaching up and lightly fingering the raised scar that stretched from ear to ear across his throat, he turned and saw an elf clad in white, his raiment adorned with embroidered leaves of silver and gold. <BR><BR>“Yes, forgive me. I was caught off guard by something the lady said. I certainly hope that I haven’t ignored you overlong.”<BR><BR>“No, Master Dirk. The in the span of the lifetime of an elf, a few minutes are as quick as a lightning flash.”<BR><BR>He turned without a word and left the Grand Hall through one of its many doors. Dirk followed. Soon they mounted a flight of stairs. They passed two stories on the way to the fourth and top-most floor. Down a long, elegantly wood-paneled corridor, lined at even intervals with many doors, he finally caught up with the mysterious elf. He stood waiting beside an open door.<BR><BR>“Here is your room. You will find fresh water for drinking as well as for cleansing, along with a little bread and some fruit, to hold you over until your supper, which will be brought to you after you visit the armory. There are also some fresh clothes. Leave yours on the chair beside the door when you change and we will see that they are cleaned and mended from their hard road. Also, you may leave your arms in the room as long as you walk in Caras Galadhon. You will not need them.” <BR><BR>Dirk’s forehead furrowed, for though he trusted these elves implicitly, he also knew of the dangers of the Dragon’s Tooth. He was loath to leave it unattended for other’s safety alone - because certainly none could ever steal it from him. To even attempt such a thing would mean death to the thief. <BR><BR>But the elf’s next statement uncannily addressed the dark youth’s concerns, “We know of your blade, Dirk. Aye, we know it well. You may rest assured than none will disturb it from wherever you decide to lay it.” <BR><BR>With that, the elf turned and strode the corridor, his long legs carried him swiftly away, and soon Dirk could no longer hear his footfalls. <BR><BR>Dirk began to undress, placing his baldric across a chair-back, and leaning the sheathed sword against the wall beside the bed. As he disrobed, he became once again aware of the absence of his <i>mithril</i> shirt. One of the parting gifts from Glorfindel, Dirk had worn it ever since the day he stood upon a hill at the Grey Havens and watched the tall mast of the ship that carried the elf fall away beyond the horizon toward the undying west – for ever. He had come to rely upon the mail blindly; it gave him a misplaced sense of invincibility. He had learned a hard lesson when it failed – harder still it was to give up the precious garment. The smooth white scar above his left hip ached slightly as a reminder. He looked at it, as well as the rest of his divested body. Perhaps he might find something of use in the armory. His mortal body was fragile, surely he could find some trusty bit of mail or plate in the Mithril Knight’s armory: something that would fit his needs, something that would befit his future status as Mithril Knight.<BR><BR>Dirk found the large basin of cool, clear water and laved his face, neck, head and hands. Folded upon the bed were a woolen tunic and hose of grey, and a pair of the light, flexible shoes that the elves wore. These he donned, placing his black leather breeches and boots, as well as his white linen under-shirt and black linen tunic upon the chair as the elf had instructed. <BR><BR>There was a small loaf of sweet white bread on a plate with and apple, a tall vessel of water and a cup – of a metal that was shined to mirror-like perfection. He poured the water and took the bread. He suddenly realized that he was famished. Alternately munching the soft bread and sipping the water, he found the snack satisfying.<BR><BR>However he was now fairly excited to visit the Knight’s armory. Therefore he took up the apple, opened the door to his room and stepped into the hall, intending to call for the elf. However, there was no need, for there was an elf maid waiting silently in the hall. She was clad in a simple white shift, similarly adorned with embroidery to the garb of the first mysterious elf. <BR><BR>“Do you wish to visit the armory now?”<BR><BR>Dirk felt as though he were in a dream. He could not speak. His moments alone and perhaps the few bites of food had stemmed the flow of adrenaline in his body and the beauty and enchantment of Lothlórien and its inhabitants struck him full, like a leather gauntlet across the face. He merely nodded.<BR><BR>Without another word, she led him back down hall and the stairs, to the first floor. Dirk followed, absent-mindedly chewing on the apple as he drank in the wonder of the place with new eyes. Presently, they left the main guildhouse and crossed a small yard to a smaller building. Low, and devoid of windows, it had only one door; and it was wide and bound with the iron. Another elf, this one in bright mail, set about with a magnificent cloak of iridescent silver stepped from an alcove beside the door. The young man finished his apple, tossing the core across the yard, toward the stables, where it was quickly snatched up by a large grey mare. The to elves exchanged a few words in Sindarin, to low for Dirk to comprehend, and he produced a set of keys, admitting Dirk, led by his escort. As he passed the guardian, they exchanged glances. To the young Dúnedan’s mind, the elf warrior seemed to be welcoming him and sizing him up all at once. He proceeded with a nod of his head towards the elf, who returned the gesture.<BR><BR>Dirk’s eyes widened as he entered the armory. It was the most magnificent collection of arms he’d ever seen. The walls were set about with racks of weapons: spear and pikes, maces, war-hammers, axes of every size and shape, knives, bows and, oh yes – swords. Dirk’s mind raced as he looked and them: thin rapiers, cutlasses, scimitars, giant claymores, of every make he recognized – elvish, Westernesse, Gondor, Easterling, cavalry blades of Rohan – and many more that he did not recognize. There were mannequins dressed in mail: leather, plate, chain and ring. He looked about in reverence for a few minutes, stopping every now and then to marvel at some new thing that he’d never seen designed quite in such a way before. <BR><BR>“Go ahead young master, touch them, try them out. Choose what you would. But choose wisely.” <BR><BR>Dirk’s childlike wonderment ceased. Here again was the warning of Parador rousing him from the giddiness like a splash of chill water. He stared at the elf, who only smiled, turned and left him alone.<BR><BR>Now he began to inspect the armory’s contents in earnest. As beautiful and wonderful as the weapons were, he reminded himself once again that he was well-heeled in that respect. Indeed, he could hardly carry more. He turned his attention to the armor. Remembering the importance of stealth and agility to his wilderness survival, quickly eliminated the loud, clanking, heavy plate armor, as well as the various implements of interlocking rings of steel. He tried a few stout bits of leather armor, checking their buckles. But nothing quite worked for him. <BR><BR>And then a glimmer caught his eye. Upon a shelf, he espied a hauberk that was black as the shadow cast over Lórien when the sun dips below Celebdil westerly upon its setting. But it also shone like the moon full-waxed. Dirk was dumbfounded. He approached the shelf and reached for the hauberk. To his surprise, he found if soft, pliant. <BR><BR>“This cannot be,” he whispered to himself, turning the piece over and over. “It is. It must be. There is only one way to be sure.” <BR><BR>He propped the chest piece up against the wall, took up a great axe and struck with all of his might. Returning the axe to its rack, he returned to the hauberk, took it up and checked it over – not a scratch. <BR><BR>“It is,” again he spoke aloud to himself, incredulous, “this is <i>galvorn</i>, Eöl’s metal. But it can not be. It is only legend now. No one has seen it since the Valar cast Beleriand into ruins. Eöl, the dark elf of Nan-Elmoth and his works had vanished even before the final battle of the First Age. These Mithril Knights are truly wondrous.”<BR><BR>He strapped the hauberk about his chest. It fit perfectly. He bent this way and that; he climbed the racks of weapons. It was not as light as <i>mithril</i>, and neither was it as hard. But Eöl’s metal surpassed plain steel on both counts. It reflected only direct light, easily remaining hidden in the shadowy corners. And it was utterly quiet, no matter how Dirk moved. <BR><BR>Dirk returned to where he had found the hauberk, looking for more pieces. He found a pair of matching vambraces, but nothing more. But then it was enough. A helm would hinder his sight and hearing. And his leather breeches were stout enough to fend off a glancing bow or an off-center bowshot. He tried on the vambraces, again a perfect fit. With one more cursory glance around the shelves and Dirk doffed the three pieces of assuredly prized armor and began to carry them towards the door. <BR><BR>Then something else caught his eye – a small knife. Quite an ordinary knife really – with a wooden handle and plain steel hilts in such a sheath as would be fit to conceal in a tall boot. It had no markings of any kind; neither did it sparkle with the polished finish of the elven or Númenórean master smiths. But it was a well-made, stout little knife. And Dirk was oddly attracted to it. He added it to the three pieces in his arms and left the armory. These things he would ask for. Surely the Mithril Knights would not allow him to keep the rare armor, but they would probably not begrudge him this small knife. <BR><BR>The elf maid was there, waiting beneath a young Mallorn. She stepped forward as Dirk emerged from the doorway. He heard a sharp <i>snick</i> as the guardian stepped silently and swiftly behind him to re-lock the door.<BR><BR>“You have chosen. Good. Follow me.”<BR><BR>Dirk was led back into the guildhouse to a large room on the first floor. It was set with benches and tables. On the walls were shelves and racks of rolled charts, as well as a small hearth with an inviting fire. The elf motioned for him to sit. He did so, setting the items he’d chosen in the armory down beside him on the bench. This was obviously the maproom in which Lady Parador was to meet him. He was alone.<BR><BR>However, he did not have to wait long. Soon the Lady Knight entered the room, inquiring about the small bit of food, the clothing and the armory.<BR><BR>“They all surpass my expectations, Lady.”<BR><BR>“Did you find anything of use in the armory.”<BR><BR>“Yes, Lady.”<BR><BR>“Bring them to me. Let me see what you have found.”<BR><BR>Dirk gathered up the hauberk, vambraces and knife from the bench and set them on a table before the Mithril Knight. She began to inspect the items.<BR><BR>Dirk awaited her reaction to his choices.