Redemption: The Curse Breaker's Journey (Mods, please lock)

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

Postby Leoba » Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:47 am

She was torn: between concern for Dirk and the fire of anger that had been licking at the edges of her heart ever since that Elf had struck out at her beloved. But duty, and love, as ever won through for her and so Leoba stayed at her beloved's side. Revenge after all, was ever a dish best served cold.

Bardy departed in search of the new fire, far away from the malevolence of the forest. Leoba looked down at Dirk again. He was half in her arms, half across her lap, and her legs were going dead under the weight.

"We should move from here, it's not safe" she told him; the scent of crushed pine needles and sap wafted on the night-air as though to remind them.

"Tell me what happened?" He whispered, in his grating voice. "Was I hit by the tree? I don’t remember." He had the most almighty welt glistening where the Elf had smacked him. It made Leoba's blood boil every time she saw it.

"He…. it, I mean. Dirk, I really didn’t see properly to be honest, but I imagine so." The small lie hurt her. Small as it was, she knew it was wrong with every desperate part of her soul. But she'd seen the way that Elf looked at Dirk and the threats that had sallied forth from the mouth of her Numenorian lover, and her instinct for his and her survival was too strong to propel him straight into another confrontation. Not yet. Let him rest and recover his lucidity first. His dark semi-conscious mumblings had added to her distress more than the young woman cared to admit. It reminded her of his darkest pains; he never talked in his sleep except for when he was troubled. Yet how could she help him if he refused to discuss it with her frankly?!

There would be time another day, she thought; now was not the time. So Leoba shelved her worries. "Come sweetheart. Bardy is beckoning us over by the riverside and I think you and I both need some unadulterated rest."

Dirk willingly acquiesced to Leoba's ministrations, allowing her to support his shaky steps through the bramble and undergrowth to find a place worthier of rest. The others were doing likewise; moving from the battleground towards the temporary sanctuary they needed. Leoba soaked one of their linen rags in the river and bade him sit still whilst she applied a cold compress to the swelling on his jawbone.

Wrapped in his cloak and with both his and Leoba's saddle blankets under him for more comfort, Dirk began to relax. Leoba stayed by his side, stroking his forehead gently, unable to resist running his hands through his luxuriant hair. Very softly she sang. After the soaring heights of Dindraug's symphony it was pitifully plebeian. But the humble fireside melody did its job and gradually Dirk eased into peaceful slumber.

She knew she should have done the same. However, despite the grey murkiness of her own tiredness, the red anger that had been simmering would not leave the young woman. It needed only the tiniest spark to give full blaze to her suppressed emotion and Dindraug, in stepping up the fire to add more wood, was spark enough.

Leoba slipped her hand softly from SB's and brought herself slowly to her feet.

"I would have a word aside with you if I might, Elf". She steeped short of actually laying a threatening arm on Din's sleeve, but her eyes gleamed like hot coals.

Silently he followed her to the river's edge, where hushed tones should be far enough from all but the sharpest of ears. There she halted in her tracks, tensed and wary as a hunter.

They stood, silent, Facing one another, with neither willing to begin.

Din was first to break their silence. "How is he?"

"No better for your ministrations", she hissed.

He took a step back; not from nerves but rather self-preservation. "I was helping him, lady."

"If that was help, I dread to think what you might do in anger." Her tongue curled around the words as though they were a bad tasting dish

“I did not enrage the tree, that was your doing Atani” said the Elf.

“You did not warn us either I notice” snarled Leoba, her body tense “You did not warn us of the danger.”

“You are on the border of Fangorn. What did you expect? This wood is dangerous, all woods are dangerous to frail city folk who do not even know how to dress for travel, but this wood is the most dangerous of them all”. Dindraug stood in front of Leoba and stared into her eyes, his voice raising an octave.

“So why did you lead us here” barked Leoba, her face contorted now with rage. Behind her she heard a twig snap.

“I did not lead you here. I awaited your arrival”

“You knew, you knew we were coming and you just waited till you could trap us in this wood and do what. Kill us all?”

“Kill you all. You will be dead in less than the lifespan of a tree. I can sit in a cave and sleep, and when I wake you will be dead Atani. Kill you, I would not waste the arrows from my bow if I needed to. You are too stupid to not build up a fire when you sit under the boughs of Fangorn. I should have let you starve or wander into the woods alone.”

“But you did not, did you Alvaric Dindraug.” Elenath's words halted the Avari, and he turned from the Gondorian and stared at his sister.

“No, I did not” he whispered.

Leoba looked at Elenath, and back to Din, and felt as if ice had been poured down her back. Something was passing between them, some knowledge that the others were not privy to. She stood back and felt the hate flow out of her in exasperated despair. It was not worthy of her attention, this was a game that the Eldar were playing. Playing with them.
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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:20 pm

Scribbles watched Nin’s distress with concern, though the cold, impassive features of the peredhel did not reflect her inner thoughts. And her appeal to Elenath appeared only to annoy the Eldar even further. She stifled a sigh as Elenath walked away, Dindraug in tow. Was she to be forever misunderstood? She swallowed her anger and frustration, it would do nothing except make matters worse. She stood with her eyes closed for a moment, the long fore and middle fingers of one hand rubbing the spot between her eyebrows. The ache would simply not go away.

She watched Bardhwyn stop and talk with Leoba. There was a closeness among these mortals that she knew she could and never would, share. Not that they weren’t kind, or brave, or expansive of heart, but that they were simply that . . . mortal. She was peredhel, and marked both by a curse and foul sorcery. There was truly no home for her, at least not outside of the wastes of her native Rhudaur.

Still, this night marked a milestone in the peredhel’s long life. For the first time, a mortal had extended a hand in trust and offered a bond that was not to be taken lightly. A precious few before had offered trust, even friendship but never had one offered a blood bond. Scribbles bit her lip and hoped for the thousandth time that she did not lead the Archer into death. No, she had sworn it on her life’s blood that no matter what, Bardhwyn and the others would be kept safe. She would die if necessary to make certain of it.

She noticed that the members of the company were slowly beginning to gravitate to where Elenath had started another fire, closer to the river among a scattering of boulders that would provide them with places to rest and some shelter should the night breezes pick up. Wisteria still sat with Nin, Matrim yet slumbered on the ground. She returned to the Weaver’s side and squatted down.

“Nienor-niniel,” she called softly, using the blonde woman’s full name. “Come sister, come to the fire and be warmed, in body at least.” Nin looked up at the peredhel, but her face was unreadable. Scribbles was certain that the woman had suffered more than physical hurt, her spirit seemed . . . wounded. Yet, there was nothing the peredhel could offer, except to encourage the woman to rejoin the company.

“Matrim . . .” Wisteria began, looking uncertainly at the tall Easterling, still stretched on his side under Scribbles’ cloak. Scribbles nodded and put a gentle hand on the weaver’s arm.

“Do not fret, I will bring him. Help Nin, do not touch her if that is what she wants, but do try to encourage her to the fireside. We need to stay warm . . . and together.“

She rose and went to kneel next to the as-yet unconscious Easterling. She turned him to his back carefully, then onto his other side, effectively wrapping her cloak close about him. Then, she used the collar of her cloak to pull his upper body upright and with an effort, she got her shoulder under him and staggered to her feet. Wisteria looked on, concerned.

“By the Valar,” she grunted, “they make them solid in the East.” This drew a smile from Wisteria and Scribbles grinned in return. “Solid as a brick . . . er . . . smokehouse, as my old teacher used to say. Right, to the fire, then.”

She made her way towards the bright circle by the river and finding a spot near one of the boulders near the fire, she carefully let Matrim down to the ground. She arranged it so that his head was pillowed on someone’s pack and one side was supported by the stone of the boulder. When she was satisfied that he would rest comfortably, she rose and went in search of her horse.

Voices drifted from the darkness, she recognized Leoba’s as one of them. She carefully avoided the area, not wishing to intrude. When she found the horses, her tall grey stallion snuffled mournfully, reproaching her for neglecting him. Chuckling, she fished in one saddlebag for a few dried apples and fed them to him absently, her thoughts turning to the next leg of their journey.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:23 pm

The streams of the setting sun, when they reflect off the peaks of the Misty Mountains, spread a bright gleaming light over Rivendell. This effect lasts an hour at least and would often flood the apartments of Elrond, forcing him to draw the intricately cut wooden shutters.

But not on this evening.

Elladan walked briskly along the arbor circling the Hall of Fire and could see, as he approached, the shutters were open and the light streamed in, illuminating the wall of books that rose up behind his Father’s writing table.

Upon entering his Father’s chambers Elladan found Elrond standing high upon a ladder and reaching to the topmost shelf, pulling down large dusty tomes that appeared to be untouched for many a long year.

“What are you doing Father?” Elladan asked, circling his Father’s desk. On it were parchments and documents piled upon one another. Some bore the seal of Gondor, others, Rohan. There were decrees from as far as Dol Amroth, Lebennin. Set aside in a neat set of piles were documents bearing the arms of Erebor, Dale and that of Thranduil’s house.

“I am looking for something.” Elrond answered.

Elladan pushed aside a half eaten piece of banana cream pie so he could see the neatened piles more closely.

“You’ve not finished your pie, Father.”

“I tire of bananas.” Elrond said, stepping down off the ladder. In his hand he held a large book, the leather binding cracked with both age and the lack of attention.

“Perhaps key lime for a change?” Elladan asked.

“What?” Elrond asked, not understanding his son at all.

“Never mind Father, it is a joke.” Elladan said, struggling with his straight face. Elrond merely arced an eyebrow, disapprovingly.

“What news?” Elrond asked, dropping the book heavily on the desk.

“Guilhendar has taken to the road, he left Ost-in-Edhel at dawn today. He should arrive day after tomorrow before the morning meal. We have received word, though, that the Rangers traveling east have been waylaid, one of their horses went lame several hours past the Last Bridge.”

“That will not do.” Elrond said deliberately, seating himself at his desk. “Ellandar and Cerrimir must arrive here no later than tomorrow evening. Send two Elves out with new mounts for each of them, escort them here as quickly as possible. Make sure the lame horse is seen to, of course.”

“Of course father, I will send a healer out with two sentries.” Elladan said.

“Now what can you tell me of the Scribe.” Elrond asked, settling back in his chair, his hand still lingering on the book he’d retrieved from the shelves behind him. This heightened Elladan’s curiosity and he tried carefully to maneuver himself so to see the books title. The lettering was Sindarin and badly faded.

“She and her party are encamped on the edge of The Fangorn. We've learned there are two Eldar traveling with the Scribe, Father.”

Elrond sat up slightly, showing surprise at learning this. “Oh? Interesting. Who?”

Elladan cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “Elenath, it appears she crossed paths with the Scribe shortly after leaving here.”

“Elenath, yes.. and?”

“Dindraug.” Elladan replied, steeling himself for what ever reaction the name may illicit.

To Elladan’s shock, Elrond sat in silence, with his eyes closed and remained that way for several minutes.

“Dindraug.” Elrond repeated after a short while. “Are you positive?”

“Beyond a doubt, Father.”

“That is the last name I expected you to utter.” Elrond said, his eyes still shut.

“I know, Father. Now, as I am sure you can guess…”

Elrond's eyes flew open. “Yes, anything can happen.” Elrond said, finishing his son’s sentence.

Elrond let out an uncharacteristic sigh and stood up. He sauntered to the rail of the veranda that looked out into the valley, thus giving Elladan a chance to pick up and read the binding of the treasure book. ‘Disputed Right of Ways in the Second Era’ is what it read and was, in no way enlightening.

“Where is your brother.” Elrond called out, his eyes scanning the expanse of the river valley.

“He’s in the Mithril Garden,” Elladan replied, waking over to where his Father stood. Elrond looked at him inquisitively, silently asking for more.

“He’s with the sword master, sparring.” Elladan finished. “It seems your comment to him about monsters and swordplay touched a nerve with him.”

“It touched a ‘nerve’? A ‘nerve’? I think, Elladan, you’ve been spending too much time with your Edain friends.” Elrond said. “Elves do not have ‘nerves’ but if in touching a ‘nerve’ he is spurred to become more, that that is no bad thing.” Elrond announced.

“Did you find what you were looking for then?” Elladan asked, fishing for what ever information he could.

“Yes.” Elrond answered, knowing full well what his son was up to. “Go and dispatch those Elves and see to it the Rangers get here,” Elrond stopped and considered carefully what to say next, “ ‘asap’ as they say.”

“Yes Father.” Elladan replied with a smile.

Elrond watched his youngest son walk off with a determined step, quick to carry out his charge while he slowly returned to his desk. Taking the old Sindarin book in hand he opened it and fluttered the pages until he found what he was seeking. The book fell open at the point where a piece of parchment had been inserted as a bookmark. On it where the arms of Dale, the bright blue ink still vibrant with color and the date was from some time back.

Elrond took the document and opened it, the wax seal having long ago been broken open by his hand. He trailed his eye across the page, reading the Dale runes quickly. His suspicions were confirmed…

“Let it be known from henceforth that the House of Bardhol is hereby disbanded and all holdings and property of this lineage is now forfeit to His Royal Majesty, King Bard II of Dale.

Let it also be known henceforth that Bardhwyn, daughter of Bardhol, stripped of all Royal titles, has been accused and convicted of treason against the Crown of Dale. Her punishment is exile. She has been branded forthwith and deserves no succor.

All powers and authorities of the West, bound by treaty to the Crown of Dale, are hereby called upon to fulfill all oaths and execute the King of Dale’s justice if this person is found in any part of our blessed lands…
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Postby Matrim » Fri Oct 15, 2004 4:50 pm

The forest had come to life round them and Mat found his blades in his hands. He rushed forward and the thorns ripped into skin. Still he pushed forward to find something to strike down.

The darkness rushed over him before he knew what had happened. Though the darkness wasn’t complete he could still see through the shadows. It took him a second to realize he was trapped inside the bush, but then he reached out to the shadowy figure that was trapped inside with him.

The figure reached out and pushed his hand away, trying to flee. He decided then it would be best to escape this trap. The thorns were still ripping into his skin though they were just minor scratches.

As he started to finally claw his way towards what he thought was a way out a leaf slapped over his face and mouth, cutting of the oxygen to his brain. Though he knew better, natural instincts took over and he struggled trying to pry the leaf free. It took just a few moments before he finally had passed out.

“By the Valar,” she grunted, “they make them solid in the East.” This drew a smile from Wisteria and Scribbles grinned in return. “Solid as a brick . . . er . . . smokehouse, as my old teacher used to say. Right, to the fire, then.”

As he opened his eyes, a large spider had settled just above his face. He attempted to jump up, but only succeed in smacking his head against the stone. “Son of a motherless goat.”

“Serves you right you Cheeky nit.” Scribbles said as she bit her lip to keep from laughing. “It is good to see you have stopped lying around.”

He looked over at Wisteria for a little support only to find she was almost laughing as well. “Well see if I ever rush off to help you fools again.” He said as he turned to the trees, pleading his case, “Here I go risking my life and all I get is nothing but grief.”

He turned back to them then, “Speaking of risking my life, where are my swords?” He said as he looked down, “And where are my cloths and just what in the name of all things holy happened back there?”

Wisteria failed in her attempt to stifle her laughter and this caused the Scribe to chuckle a bit as well.

“Where are we and why does it feel like I have splinters all over my body?” He said glaring at the ladies, “Are you two going to answer my questions or just sit there chuckling like school girls?’

To his disdain all his words did was cause the women to laugh all the harder.
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Postby SilverScribe » Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:03 pm

She returned to the fire to find Matrim stirring. Startled by a large spider, he cursed then looked over to where she had settled down next to Wisteria. The look on his face was priceless and she couldn’t help but join the weaver in a good chuckle at the Easterling’s expense.

“Are you two going to answer my questions or just sit there chuckling like school girls?”

Scribbles pointed to where Matrim’s pack lay by the large rock. His clothes were draped overtop the pack and his swordbelt leaned against it.

“There are your swords, there are your clothes and you’re welcome for the loan of my cloak,” she drawled, leaning back against her saddle and crossing her arms over her chest. Suddenly, a mischevious gleam lit her eyes and she leaned back forward, reaching towards Matrim.

“Of course, if you are quite finished with it . . .” she began. Matrim coloured and moved back. “Er, no, not just yet, if you don’t mind . . .” he mumbled then got up, went to his pack and began sorting through the various items of clothing.

“As for where we are,” Scribbles continued, “you know very well we are at the edges of Fangorn Forest. What happened is someone decided to stoke the fire a little too enthusiastically for the forest’s liking and both you and Nin were caught by a Huorn. The elf, Dindraug, was able to sing you out of trouble.”

Matrim turned at the mention of Nin’s name. “Nin?” he asked. “Is she alright?”

Wisteria answered. “Yes, she is fine, don’t worry.” She exchanged a quick look with Scribbles, they both knew that Nin was far from “fine”, but neither knew exactly why.

Scribbles rose to her feet. “You can return the cloak whenever you’re done, Matrim” she said quietly. “I’m going to re-fill my waterskin. Perhaps Wisteria can help you put some salve on those scrapes so they burn less.”

She picked up her waterskin and headed towards the river.
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Postby Dindraug » Sat Oct 23, 2004 5:07 am

“But you did not, did you Alvaric Dindraug.” Elenath's words stopped him, and the anger flowed into the soil. He looked at his wife’s sister; for an age of the world now the only relative he acknowledged; his voice of reason that turned him from the darkness that haunted all of his people. He looked into her eyes, and saw the ghost of his wife in Elenath. A hint of that solidity and integrity that had guided him and held him, a control that he had missed in long ages past.

“No, I did not” he whispered, and smiled. She was doing that thing again, he could not resist and he was forced to laugh; much to the disgust of the Gondorian Leoba who skulked back to her shard of Numenorë.

“You should not mock their mortality like you do. And you should be wary of tempting its vengeance again. The one you just called a fool lied to her lover for you. To protect him or you, I am not sure, but there is power and hatred in his old blood you would not wish to stir”. Dindraug stood before her and listened in that scolded-child-like way of his; eyes flitting away and rolling away from her strikes like a seasoned fighter on the battlefield. They had had this conversation a thousand times, as had her sister. He would not take heed, beyond a momentary guilt, but it espoused a need in both Dindraug and Elenath, and reiterated a friendship that stretched back through the millennia. She remembered first being introduced to him, this traveller with his wild ways, and the scolding he had taken from her sister about some forgotten slight to a long dead King of men. Like then, all he had done was to laugh.

“I do not mock them, sister mine”. He left the rest of the conversation unsaid; the point made on both sides. “But I do know them”. He turned from her, taking a dried star fruit from distant Harad, and chewing it as he moved towards the river.


He walked to where Ormal drank deeply as the horse led the rest of ‘his herd’ to the bubbling waters; the golden flanks of the horse like the lost walls of Gondolin, unmoving despite the turmoil. He patted his friend’s sides, rubbing his hands along the firm legs and through the fierce mane.

“So Ormal, you galloped far. Why the long face?” The horse snorted at him, having heard the joke a thousand times more than was funny but knew the endearment it contained.

He turned to watch the half human, SilverScribe, walk towards the river, an empty waterskin slapping at her side. Nuzzling Ormal once more, he walked towards the Peredhel. She turned to watch him approach, and turned away to fill the leather sack.

“The water is fresher further out SilverScribe. The scum that clutches around the shallows taints it wouldn’t you say?” His gold flecked eyes stared at her as she smiled back at him.

“There is little to be said for getting wet though, and if you hold the opening under the water, and the scum doesn’t get in,” she retorted, feeling the leather expand as it filled with the sweet water of Fangorn.

“But the danger, you can not see what may slip in when you least expect it. When you need to drink, the water will be tainted and you will remain thirsty.” Dindraug smiled, picking at mud trapped by his fingernails.

“We can skirt around all day Master Dindraug, but I do not think you like the play of Rivendell anymore than I.” Her look was appraising, and honest; strangely so. “You think I have problems in my group. Any in particular, or all of you?”

“Are you including me in this pack you have created? An assumption surely?”

“A fact, Dindraug” She smiled at him “It is something we both know. There is little need for you to join us Dindraug, of no fixed abode I understand, yet you remain with us. I would know why?” For a moment her eyes were intense and guarded.

“I have my reasons, SilverScribe, which you will know in time. But fear not, I am neither judge nor jury.” He was staring at her, his eyes intent but closed like all the Eldar when pushed on a point. She looked back, her mind unsure for a time. What did he mean, this elf of the east? What did he know, and why was he here now? Was it linked to her story, or to his?

He looked away, towards the East and patted down Ormal’s flanks again. “We should move soon Peredhel. The road to Greenwood is harsh at the moment. I do not know your intended route, but I would suggest we travel along the Tiar Forod to the Limlight River; then along that to cross the Anduin at the North Undeep. Then we miss out the Wold completely and can skirt Greenwood south of Dol Guldor. It is too dangerous to travel through the Wold now. I came that way. The remnants of Sauron’s armies are still fleeing north, and some of his more powerful servants lurk there now to lick wounds before they find new homes. Even a small party as powerful and skilled as this will be in danger there. The Riders of Rohan were devastated in the war and have not the manpower to protect the north of their realm. And now they have troubles of their own it appears.”

SilverScribe looked at the Avari, trying to understand his intent. “But I have not said we are travelling that way?” she said, her hand resting on the warm wooden handle of her knife.

“But you are heading that way, and I will not allow you to take my kin into danger.” He said, smiling the soft friendly smile of the wolf.

**************************************************
In the ruins of the village the untidy mass of figures sat under the thin cover they had and waited for the sun to fade. The thirty strong group, with dusty rags and the broken remnants of weapons and armour. Each male had a helm, the surface scratched where the Red Eye had once proudly proclaimed their allegiance.
“We must get out of this light Arkit,” snarled one “We will not make Gunderbad or this other place you were told about under these conditions. “ The speaker was short for an Uruk, but he had no fat on him, and the criss-cross of scars spoke of long years in the armies of the Dark Lord.

“I know Ungstik,” said the other leader. He was older, far older, but as worn in the service of failed leaders. He had fought Dwarves in Moria, and in the Dimrill Dale before being drafted to Mordor. He had fought for others for long centuries, and watched as the bands he had spawned in the name of the Red Eye were slaughtered. Now he took what was left, thirty souls, his pack and his brood in search of homes in the North. His home, now all but abandoned since the White Wizard had slain the Fire Daemon, and waiting for new kings.

Ahead of them they could see the walls of mountains stretching Northward, and the dark smudge of a forest below them. As night fell they set out at a run to reach the trees by morning.

“We will reach the mountains soon, and we will feast on the flesh of any who would stand against us, and we would serve no one but ourselves; unless they pay us in man flesh” he snarled. The other Orcs growled in approval, some waved the bones they had gnawed on since they had found a farm three days ago.

“You would be paid in Man flesh? How interesting” said a voice causing them to turn in alarm. “How much would you like? “It continued…….
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Postby SilverScribe » Thu Nov 04, 2004 9:00 pm

“But you are heading that way, and I will not allow you to take my kin into danger.”

She matched his wolfish smile with a look of pure, glinting ice. She corked her waterskin and drew herself up to her full height, her eyes frosty.

“You say you are neither judge nor jury,” she growled, “and you are also neither master nor King, Dindraug Alvaric. And most certainly not my master nor King. I do not go where you allow, but where I wish and, as fate would have it, where I must."

She flung the skin over her shoulder and moved out of the shallows onto the narrow strip of gravel that marked the edges of the river, separating it from the lush tall grass that bordered Fanghorn. "I lead this company and you would do well to remember it. I also have a feeling that your “kin” may have something to say for herself. I have never known the Lady Elenath to require approval or permission from anyone as to where she may travel, or no.”

“I am only thinking of safety, for you and your company,” Dindraug replied calmly.

“Indeed. . . . well, thank you but I do not wish to waste time going all the way north to the Limlight, only to swing back south to gain the North Undeep,” she answered. “I have no objection to avoiding the Wold, it is a barren and cursed place. But we will cross the Limlight and strike northeast to skirt north of the Parth Celebrant. I mean to cross the Anduin a long way from both the Wold or the Brown Lands.”

“But where will you cross?” the elf asked, crossing his arms and regarding her closely.

She shrugged. “There are one or two places that may be possible.”

“Are there?” he asked sharply. “You risk much on a possibility.”

“No matter, we do not go to the Undeep,” she stated flatly then held up a hand as he opened his mouth to object yet again.

“If the Wold is overrun, Master Elf, where do you think the remnants of Sauron’s armies will go to make their own crossing? I do not wish to compete with them for the privilege of crossing the Anduin.”

“A more northern crossing will be just as dangerous, if you can even find a place,” the elf objected.

“Perhaps, perhaps not. I prefer to take my chances with a river rather than an orc army. Time presses upon me Master Elf, and I will not go endless leagues north out of my way for naught only to backtrack south and risk being trapped at a well known crossing. We go north of the Parth Celebrant and cross in the wilds. Travel with us if you will, but that is our road.”

She nodded politely and turned towards the firelight and the camp. She was hungry, thirsty and tired and all she wanted right now was to put her back to a rock near the fire and see what, if anything, she had left in her pack to eat.


.
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Postby Cerrimir_and_Ellandar » Sun Nov 21, 2004 9:42 pm

On the Great East Road, far past the Last Bridge...


“Please, Cerri?”

“No.”

“It is only fair!” Ellandar said, trying to be firm.

“No.” Cerri replied flatly.

“LET ME WALK THE HORSE!” Ellandar shouted.

Cerri stopped walking, halting his lame horse along with him. It had thrown a shoe and cracked a hoof in the process – a bad turn for both horse and rider. Cerrimir turned and looked up at his partner who sat astride, riding his healthy horse alongside him.

“You’re the standard bearer. Bear the standard and let that be the last of it.” Cerri replied, matter-of-factly.

“Bloody hell, it’s just a stick with piece of cloth on it…”

“NO IT IS NOT! It is the ROYAL STANDARD and you were given the charge to bear it…” Cerri fumed.

“You can’t take these things so literally Cerri, for the love of Elbereth!” Ellandar shook his head in frustration. “You’ve been walking for hours. Just sit in this saddle and hold this pole, that is all I am asking.”

“No.” Cerri answered, moving forward again and pulling his lame mount after him. Ellandar had no choice; he had to spur his own horse back into a walk.

“You are so, so..”

“Stubborn?” Cerrimir asked, finishing Ellandar’s sentence. “Like I haven’t been told that before.” The older Ranger said with a smirk. “Least of all by you. Come on, we’re wasting time and breath besides, we must keep up appearances.” Cerrimir pulled an amusing face, pulling up his eyebrows and dropping his mouth before breaking into a wide grin.

Ellandar himself couldn’t help but grin at both the face and partner’s remark. Yes, ‘Appearances’ which were so important in the present situation.

The traveled along for sometime in silence, Cerrimir walking steadily with Ellandar riding along at his left. They were some 30 miles past the Last Bridge and the light of the day was fading fast. Neither discussed stopping, both understood time was slipping by quickly and they had no choice – they had to keep moving. Around them the wood pressed in, its creatures scurrying about in dry leaf beds, the wind moved through the branches and the birds flitted and called. Flitted and called, and called again. They flitted and called again - very loudly.

Cerrimir couldn’t hold it in any longer. It began as a low chuckle deep from his wide girth rising steadily until it fully filled his throat, booming out loudly into the gathering night. He stopped and doubled over, clutching his side with his free hand.

“Cerri, come on now… stop.” Ellandar asked but Cerri’s amusement was infectious. “Cerri..” Ellandar allowed a laugh to escape but he quelled it. “Stop it now, it isn’t polite! Cerri…” It was pointless; Ellandar himself began to laugh heartily as well, bending over in his saddle as his frame was racked with mirth.

“Aw right…come out, come out, where ever you are!” Cerrimir cried out, laughing as he did so. “We can’t stand it…BWAAHAHAA!! Ah! We can’t stand it anymore! It is just too funny…”

“Cerrimir! I can’t believe you just DID that!” Ellandar laughed out, tears in his eyes.

“We know YOU’RE OUT THERE! We’ve been listening to you for TWO HOURS!” Cerrimir bellowed out. “And you’re by the far the NOISIEST ELF we’ve ever….BWAAHAHHAAA! We’ve ever heard!” Cerrimir couldn’t help it – he was on his knees, unable to stand and he was pounding the road with his hand.

“Master Elf!” Ellandar called out, desperate to sound composed. “Please ignore my companion…” He began to laugh and stifled it. “Please ignore my companion and please do us the honor of joining us on the road because…” Ellandar snorted, regained control, “Because there is really no point in concealing yourself now… I’m afraid… We know you’re there!”

“Oh yes, don’t we JUST!?” Cerrimir echoed with laughter. “By the Gods! Why did they let you out in the field!?” He called out into the trees.

“Cerri… Cerri, stop, look!” Ellandar called out quietly, pointing across the road into a clump of hawthorn. Out from behind it a shadowy figure slowly emerged, thin, grey clad and a bit shorter than Cerri. He carried a long bow, in the fashion of a Mirkwood Elf and he sported a head of mousy brown hair, long and arranged like many an elf; thin strands of plaits kept the hair from his face. His eyes were wide and troubled and his lips were pursed.

“I wasn’t that loud, was I?” He asked in a small voice while taking small, cautious steps.

“Oooh, no!” Cerrimir said, pulling himself onto his feet. “You weren’t THAT loud, you were VERY LOUD!”

“Cerri!” Ellandar said reproachfully, “Can’t you see he’s a youth?!”

“A youth?!” Cerrimir spat, walking up to the Elf. As he came in to closer view, it was true - he was but a lad. “How old are you?” Cerrimir asked.

“Older than you!” The Elf youth replied with puffed up bravado.

“HOW OLD!?” Cerrimir bellowed.

The Elf youth mumbled a reply and Cerrimir reacted, punching the boy on the shoulder. “Come again!” Cerri demanded.

“Two hundred years old.” The boy replied, cradling his arm.

“Two hundred?! Wha?!” Cerrimir sputtered in disbelief.

“Boy, you’re too young to be out here.” Ellandar said, “Your parents are going to be worried.”

“I am assigned to you! I was given this mission!” The Elf retorted.

“Your name, boy!” Cerrimir grunted.

“Caldir.” He replied, hugging his bow close to him.

“Well Caldir, you realize this is an insult to us,” Cerrimir said, rubbing his beard briskly, “Sending out a mere youth to track us.”

“It’s not like you’re the enemy!” Caldir shot back, “You’re elf friends!”

“That is true, Cerri.” Ellandar said, dismounting. “Tell me Caldir, WHY are we being tracked?” He added, walking out from around his horse carrying with him the King’s standard.

Standing side by side, the two rangers dressed in Gondor livery – black with the white tree embroidered on their cuirass’ - were an imposing sight for the Elf youth. He swallowed hard before replying.

“Master Elrond required news of you and our forces are spread thin so I was asked…”

“No, you begged.” Cerrimir interjected.

“I requested, yes,” Caldir corrected himself, “to come into the field and my captain…”

“You mean your Uncle, no doubt?” Cerri asked, interrupting the lad a second time.

“Yes, my Uncle agreed.” Caldir said, looking increasingly worried. He’d not been told the Numenoreans could read minds.

“And you took the place of the former Elf assigned to us a few hours ago?” Ellandar asked, causing Caldir’s eyes to widen more.

“Yes, yes… I did. Could you hear him, too?” Caldir asked in wonder.

“Yes.” Ellandar replied with a stifled smile. “Just.”

“He was a spot older than you, I’ll wager.” Cerrimir added, rolling his eyes. “So, Elrond must know by now we need fresh mounts?”

“Most definitely.” Caldir replied, feeling suddenly proud of the Elvenwatch network that spread out from The Last Homely House.

“Good, we’ll be on horseback before too long.” Cerri grunted with satisfaction.

“You said your forces were spread thin, Caldir.” Ellandar said, his face showing an intensified interest in the boy. “Why?”

“Elrond has us strung out all over Middle Earth – as far west as the Havens and as far East as Dorwinion. We’re collecting information on any strange events that may occur.”

“Dorwinion! I hope he sent his best because there’s no way an Elf can mix in the crowd there.” Cerri said derisively. Caldir looked puzzled. "They're all short and dark, Caldir." Cerri said with wink.

“And southwards?” Ellandar asked, “He’s sent the Elfwatch south was well?”

“Down both sides of the Anduin and into Mordor.” Caldir replied. “We were able to stop Eomer’s assassination attempt.” He added, his chest expanding with pride.

“You mean His Majesty King Eomer.” Cerrimir corrected, causing Caldir to nod nervously in agreement.

Ellandar quietly took in all this information and calculated the possibilities. Elrond, so close to his departure for the West, was being forced once again to keep a finger on the pulse of the life force of Middle Earth. And further more, the Peredhel may have information about the Scribe and Bardhwyn…

“I’ve said too much as it is,” Caldir blustered suddenly, “Now, please. After you.” He said, stepping back and motioning ahead, down the Great East Road.

“What, you intend to follow us?” Cerrimir asked.

“That is correct.” Caldir replied. “That is what I have been ordered to do: to follow you. So that is what I shall do. Now, please?”

“Cerri!” Ellandar said with a smile, cocking his head eastward down the road. Together they heard, with their acute hearing, the faint sound of horse hooves beating along the track. Five mounts, three of them with riders. “Our ‘rescue’ party.” Ellandar said with a grin while looking knowingly at the elf lad. “Let’s ‘go along’, shall we? For the boy’s sake?” Ellandar asked. "It's bad enough we called him out."

Cerri mumbled what had to have been a few choice words as he raked his fingers through his beard for a second time. The older Ranger assented, though, taking up the reins of his horse and resuming his walk while Ellandar remounted. The silent trio moved east in anticipation of being met by Elrond's dispatch.


With in the hour the approaching riders came into view; a healer for the lame horse and two escorts for the Rangers leading two saddled mounts for them to ride. Leaving the healer behind with Caldir, Cerrimir and Ellandar took up positions behind the Elvish sentries and resumed their journey to Imladris, both Rangers curious to learn how much of their mission Elrond already knew and how much more Elrond could tell them.



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Postby Elenath » Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:30 pm

Elenath watched from the shadows as SilverScribe walked back toward the fire. Seeing the fatigue on the half-elven face, Elenath paused, and let her walk by. Tempers had been ragged enough today, it would be best to wait until hunger, at least, would not tax them further. So she waited, and watched while SilverScribe settled herself against a rock, across the fire from the Easterling and the woman, Wisteria. The injured woman, Nienor-Niniel, was in the shadows a short distance away, the woman Leoba who had been so angry with Dindraug was sitting with her sleeping beloved at the edge of the firelight, and the other woman, Bardhwyn, was not to be seen. Possibly she was with the horses, along with the Rohirrim. SilverScribe had placed herself away from all the others: a quiet voice would most likely not be heard well by them, and none of those awake and near would understand elvish speech.

Elenath stepped quietly into the firelight, and seated herself next to SilverScribe. The peredhel gave no reaction, except to give her one questioning glance. "I saw that you spoke with Dindraug." She spoke softly, in the grey-elven speech. She also, unusually, spoke somewhat hesitantly. Her earlier words to the Scribe rang uncomfortably in her memory, though she would not take them back.

"I did." SilverScribe raised an eyebrow, but responded in the same tongue.

"You know that he wishes to travel with us?"

"I do, though I don't know why."

Elenath watched the fire twisting in its hypnotic dance, sending its sparks soaring upward, hopelessly reaching for the rivalling stars. "He has travelled these lands for many long years, and is a skilled warrior. He could be useful to have with us." SilverScribe was silent. Elenath glanced over at her. "I would not advise anything which I did not think would aid you, CelebTegilbor. I am sworn to your defence, until this quest of yours is finished. You know that this is not something I take lightly. I trust Dindraug, and I admit I would be grateful for his company and his help. Also, if I am not mistaken, the presence of another eldar may help us somewhat in Mirkwood."
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Postby SilverScribe » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:07 pm

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So silent were the eldar’s steps that Scribbles was unaware of Elenath’s approach until she stepped into the firelight from the shadows and seated herself next to the peredhel. Scribbles shot her a questioning look, then returned to rummaging in her pack. She had not partaken of Dindraug’s fish, and now her stomach was reprimanding her sharply for her lack of courtesy as well as foresight.

Matrim had slipped around the rock into the darkness, undoubtably to recover both his dignity and his trousers. Wiste was gazing off into the night sky above the flames, though her eyelids were already drooping, probably from both the comforting warmth of the fire as well as fatigue.

She raised an eyebrow at Elenath’s use of Sindarin instead of the more common Quenyan, but replied in kind, keeping her voice pitched too low for human ears, but well within the range of the eldar’s hearing. She held up some trail bread and dried fruit which Elenath accepted with a small smile, then turned her eyes to watch the flickering fire as they ate.

Scribbles listened quietly as Elenath talked between mouthfuls. Uncorking her waterskin, she took a long draught of the cold, clear water to wash down the trail rations, then handed the skin to Elenath. She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand before answering the Eldar.

“I know your oath and your honour Elenath, never would I doubt either. And I am ever grateful that you are with me, friendless among mortals as I am. Though,” she paused and looked around the scattered camp, “lately it may not seem so." Elenath smiled faintly at the old joke, then sobered as Scribbles continued.

“You know too, that I have the utmost respect for you. That you trust this Dindraug speaks highly of him. However, I have no reason except my respect for you to extend my trust to him. You will forgive me if a long lifetime of betrayal tempers my judgement for at least a short time.”

Elenath bit her lip, but nodded. She of all people knew of the uncounted times the Scribe had trusted against her instincts, and ended up nearly dead. But she also knew that Dindraug would prove his worth, the Scribe was nothing if not observant and, in her own way, a shrewd judge of character.

“As for Mirkwood . . .” Scribbles trailed off, her thoughts turning dark. Elenath spoke truly, having the company of not one, but two full blooded Eldar would certainly do no harm to her cause. She sent a long, sideways glance at Elenath and sighed. “Aye, you speak truly enough, the mere presence of yourself and another First Born is an unlooked for boon, and one I will gratefully accept. Though most in Mirkwood would suffer a peredhel to pass, we both know that there are others who will not. Exile or no.” She fell silent, then leaned far forward to pick up the end of a long, slender branch that had rolled from the fire. She used it to poke at the embers thoughtfully for a few moments before speaking again.

“I both long for and dread the sight of the Greenwood again, Elenath. All that I once was has remained there, yet I know well the danger that now dogs this path. Still, there is no way but forward, for it is time.” She paused, rubbing one long fingered hand over her face.

“Tell me, how does Lord Cemandorin fare, I heard you visited his court after I . . . left,” she finished softly.

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Postby Elenath » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:31 pm

"How does Lord Cemandorin fare? It has been many years since I last saw him, Tegilbor." Elenath sat silent for a moment, thinking back. "It must have been eighty years or so after you were banished that I went back to his halls, so that would be more than three hundred years ago now. I had heard rumors, and had not seen you yet, so I went to seek the truth. Not that I found it there, of course. I did not stay in Mirkwood long, and I only spoke with Cemandorin twice. Once after I arrived, and once to say my farewells. Lorfeldin guarded him well: although that was as he wished it, for he was still lost in his grief."

Elenath fell silent, reaching back into memory. For a moment, the night-covered river and fields faded from her eyes, and she saw again the elf-lord's face before her.


---------


"I am indeed glad to see you again, Elenath, but you must forgive me if I do not show it as I used to. I have... not been well, lately." The long hall was quieter than it used to be, dimly lit by firelight and a few torches. The rich wood of the columns shone warmly, the carvings almost seeming to move in the shifting lights. Darkness swallowed the tall ceiling, as well as the corners of the hall, creating an illusion of endless space surrounding the two elves. As they sat together near the arch of the fireplace, the flickering shadows accentuated the lines of pain in Cemandorin's face.

"My heart was grieved when I heard what happened. I am so sorry, my friend." Elenath's heart was heavy as she watched him: not only did she mourn for Cemandorin's sons, but for him as well. He had changed so much...

"Thank you." He glanced up from the fire to look at her. "You were a friend of hers, were you not?"

Elenath raised an eyebrow. "If by 'her' you mean Celeb Tegilbor, yes, indeed."

His face darkened. "I do not wish to hear her name," he said roughly.

"You have no doubts about what happened, then?" Elenath asked quietly.

"I do not." His voice was decisive, and his eyes were hard. "I know it may be hard for you to understand: you were a friend to her, and you were not here when it happened. You did not hear or see what we did. But take my word on this matter, if you count me a friend as well. Stay away from that half-mortal: she will only bring you grief." His voice quieted, and his eyes drifted back toward the flame. "I think, sometimes, that I should not have let her go as I did."


---------


The firelit hall faded from Elenath's mind, and in its place rose the tall trees of Mirkwood, sun filtering through their thick branches, wind sighing in their leaves.


---------


"'Tis a beautiful day for a walk, is it not?"

"Yes, it is. But that is not why we are here, is it? So, Merenglîr, will you talk to me now?"

The normally light-hearted elf walking next to her sobered, his ready smile fading. "I wish that you had been there, Elenath: you might have been able to bring some sense into the whole mess."

Elenath glanced at him sharply, and with some satisfaction. "Then you don't believe that Celeb Tegilbor was responsible."

"I'm not sure what I believe," he said slowly. "As a minstrel, I hear more than most... and I have been told that I have a shrewd eye for the truth in people."

"That you do," Elenath smiled.

"Well, after all these years of watching, years of thinking, of remembering, I think that Lorfeldin hid something from us. I don't know what, and I don't know how much of what he said was truth. But... well, it's no secret that Lorfeldin has little liking for anyone with less than pure elder blood. He hated having a half-mortal living here in his home: he hid it well, but it was obvious enough to those who watched with open eyes. And, although it pains me to say this, I do not doubt that he would have welcomed any chance to be rid of her.

"I must tell you, Elenath, that Lorfeldin's influence with Cemandorin has only grown these past years, as has Cemandorin's certainty of your friend's guilt. I know it would do no one good for me to speak up now. Perhaps if I had said something at the time..."

"No, don't put any blame on yourself. From what I've heard, you would not have done anyone any good then, either."

He shrugged. "Perhaps." He shot a sharp glance at Elenath. "And don't you put any blame on yourself either, my dear."

She smiled. "Astute as ever, my old friend. Don't worry yourself. I just wish..." She stopped, and shrugged. "Ah well. It is in the past, and there is no changing it. I do hope that I find the Scribe soon, though: I am worried about her."

Merenglîr nodded soberly. "As am I. If you do find her, tell her... tell her that she is missed, by some, at least." His cheerful smile returned. "If no-one else, my harp at least misses her beautiful voice."


---------


The whispering trees faded in their turn, leaving Elenath under the stars on the plains of Rohan. She could feel SilverScribe watching her silently. "His grief weighed heavily on him then, as did his anger," Elenath continued. "And, of course, Lorfeldin was there at his side, keeping the anger burning. But that was many, many years ago. Who knows how much has changed since then?"


The lie fell easily from her lips: there was no harm in giving the Scribe a little comfort. The perehel still had far to go, and it would do no good for her mind to be troubled unnecessarily. However, when Elenath had last met Merenglîr, on one of his travels to Imladris, what he had told her of Lord Cemandorin's court was little different than it had been when she left. Elenath doubted that much had changed since speaking with him, only fifty short years ago.
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Postby Dindraug » Sun Jan 09, 2005 11:11 am

“Perhaps, perhaps not. I prefer to take my chances with a river rather than an army. Time presses upon me Master Elf, and I will not go endless leagues north out of my way for naught only to backtrack south and risk being trapped at a well known crossing. We go north of the Parth Celebrant and cross in the wild. Travel with us if you will, but that is our road.”


She stalked away, her tired shoulders showing the weight of her mortality. Eventually Din followed, his stomach reminding him it had been a long time since he had eaten. At the fire, Leoba looked up as she approached, with questions in her eyes SilverScribe would rather not answer yet.

But Elenath would. He watched as she picked her way towards the half elf and listened as they talked in low tones. He almost smiled, he missed much of what was said as the peredhel struggled with her Imladris accented whispered Sindarin, but he caught enough.

"How does Lord Cemandorin fare? It has been many years since I last saw him, Tegilbor."

Din stopped at this, and coughed, covering himself by reaching down to his bag and making some display of searching it as he listened. He glanced up at the two but looked away so as not to meet their eyes. But he could see from his sister’s stance that she was uncomfortable with what she was saying, and it seamed opportune to intervene.

“…Who knows how much has changed since then?" said Elenath, frowning as Dindraug walked up to them, clutching an arrow he had found in his bag.

“Much has changed in the wilds since the war. Unless I am mistaken, you are living on the stories of the clear north, told round fires in Gondor, in your route plan, SilverScribe” he said, abruptly.

“I have no time for this now, Dindraug. I respect your knowledge, but I have reasons besides safety for travelling the route we do. I will have you along, your sister has vouched for your wilderness skills and the fish was well cooked, but remember that I lead this group with a purpose even if you do not know what that purpose is yet.” With that, she turned and walked back to the fire, leaving Dindraug in the shadows between Elenath and the fire, twirling the arrow in his fingers.



The arrow spun in Dindraug’s hand, as he watched SilverScribe settle back by the fire and start to talk to the others. Elenath watched his eyes, as they followed a track towards the Peredhil’s back, then he smiled and looked at her as the arrow slipped from his fingers and buried itself in the ground.

“Do you know what that is, Elenath?” said Din, quietly poking the arrow with his toe.

“It is an arrow, Dindraug. An Orc arrow; or should I read more into it than that?” She picked up the offending article and looked it over. It was an Orc arrow; she looked at the elf quizzically.

“Look at the flights, sister mine. They are rough feathers, the black of the Sokalî. A type of crow native to the Gundulok plateaux.” Din started at the half elf for a time, while she gave him a ‘so what’ look. “Do you not find it interesting that I took this off a tracker three days ago not fifty feet from where you stand now?”

Elenath looked at the Avari with a long suffering look. “And what does this have to do with anything Dindraug? A tracker from Gundabad? I am not surprised at all.”

“Look again, look at the arrow head. It is laen from Dol Guldur. The Magic Mountain, the Sorcerer’s Peak. Do you think that Thranduil and his Knights drove out all from that cursed hill? Celeborn and his legion did not turn every stone in those passageways. He turned to face the south, and then went home when the Eye fell. But in those caves lurk many who served Sauron, and they watch the Anduin. It is they I suggested to SilverScribe that we avoid. Her path takes us to near to the hill”

Elenath looked at him and then stepped forward to lay her hand on his arm. “Dindraug, you can not take the world on your shoulders any more-“

“The world? Why should I care about the world? I do however care about you entering the tangle of Mirkwood trailing after…. Trailing after somebody else’s redemption.” Din looked at Elenath, and then turned to avoid her eyes.

“What do you know of SilverScribe that you will not tell me, Dindraug?”



He remembered back to the War, to the battles beneath the trees and Dale; and the slaughter that had followed. He had trailed the fleeing Orcs routing towards Dol Guldur for a week before he met Lorfeldin and the rest of the ‘court’ of the South.

“They fell amongst us and we had need to kill them Dindraug, what are these Yrch! To you?” the snide tones of the Silvan could cut through the stoutest oak.

“Come Lorfeldin, do not be so critical of the Din’Drauge. He has come from the great battle. It is just a shame that we could not be there but we needed to meet with Lord Celeborn.” Lord Cemandorin smiled good naturedly at Dindraug, who responded in a gentle bow; as equals, he could sense how much it irritated Lorfeldin. “Quite,” smiled the Elf Lord and he looked back at the dead Orcs that littered the field “We should at least bury the dead. It is important to bury the fallen, I always believe that”.

“If appropriate, Cemandorin. Sometimes there are pressing matters to deal with” smiled Dindraug. “I have to travel south, to Gondor and I would pass your lands. With my Lord’s permission of course.”

“Of course you may, my boy” smiled Cemandorin indulgently. “And I would ask that if you do travel to Gondor and it still stands that you send me any word of a half breed called ‘SilverScribe’ amongst the humans. She is still wanted for murder of my kin and I have rumour that she is travelling in that region.”

“I am sure I will send word, if I can Cemandorin.” Dindraug looked at the gathered elves and saw mixed emotions. The sadness and worn hatred of Cemandorin, the tired acceptance of the rest of his court; except Lorfeldin who had the indulgent slyness of a child with a trapped and wounded insect flickering around his eyes, overlaid with a mask that showed only concern.




Dindraug looked at his sister in law, all humour falling from his eyes like a waterfall. “I know she is leading us into danger. I know that you are being followed and the scout I discovered was waiting to be joined. There are bands fleeing Mordor and the south who are uniting for pay or for safe haven, and a darkness gathers in the North as the last of the Noldo leave these shores. And ahead, I know that an elf called Lorfeldin is hunting SilverScribe and will not worry who he kills in the process. All I do not know is why.”

“You should tell her this.”

“No, because I think she knows. But I think that the new King of men needs to be made aware of the Diaspora, and that Rohan has rogue riders who also seek their own goals. I will not go without you Elenath. You are my last kin that I know of. I hold little hope for my true sister now. Will you go with me to Minas Tirith or will you tell me which of the half elf’s lackeys to send?”.
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Postby Elenath » Thu Mar 10, 2005 5:14 pm

"I will not go without you Elenath... Will you go with me to Minas Tirith?"

For an instant Elenath was tempted. To be on the road alone with Dindraug again, leaving behind all these complications...

"No, my brother, I will not leave SilverScribe. I told you that I swore to help her: you know that I cannot turn away now. And neither will I tell you which of her companions to send. That is something they must decide for themselves."

"Whoever makes the decision, a decision must be made," Dindraug said. Elenath nodded wearily, and turned toward the fire, taking a few steps nearer.

"SilverScribe," she called, and the half-elf turned back toward her. "Dindraug has made a good point. There are things we have discovered that the King must know: one, or a few, of those here should be sent to bear him news. If you would like my opinion, I think you should call a council for discussion and planning. There are... more than a few things now that should be discussed, or explained."
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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:59 am

((OOC: Din, the Scribe was talking to Elenath AT the fire, not at any distance from it. In fact, Elanath is "seated next to the peredhel". I'm going to assume that Elenath stood after I spoke to you and you two moved away from the rest of the group.))

IC:

As Dindraug approached the firelit circle, Elenath rose to her feet and moved to the edge of the fire's light to speak with him quietly. Scribbles glanced over at Wiste, who was now fully asleep and Nin, who stared into the shadows behind her. She caught Leoba's eyes briefly where she sat, SB's head on her lap. The young Númenorean also appeared to be sleeping. Her sharp ears could pick out the low sound of Bardhwyn and Rholarowyn speaking softly by the horse picket though she could not make out anything of what they said.

She looked up as Matrim re-appeared from the dark behind the large rock where he had disappeared earlier. He was clad back in his usual clothes, though he had changed into a cleaner shirt. He handed her grey elven cloak to her with a somewhat embarrassed smile. "Thank you for the loan of that," he said. She nodded and rose to take the cloak from him. "You are most welcome, doubtless you would have done the same of any one of us," she replied with a grin. He chuckled, but before he could reply, Elenath's voice interrupted.

" Dindraug has made a good point. There are things we have discovered that the King must know: one, or a few, of those here should be sent to bear him news. If you would like my opinion, I think you should call a council for discussion and planning. There are... more than a few things now that should be discussed, or explained."

Scribbles looked around the fire then back to where Elenath and Dindraug approached.

"Agreed," she said quietly, "but unlike the eldar or even a peredhel, the rest of this company needs sleep. We will have this council for discussion in the morning, while we eat. I think all heads will be clearer for a nights rest, agreed?"

Elenath nodded and Scribbles pulled her cloak around her and lowered herself back to the ground next to her pack, her back against the fire warmed rock. Matrim sat down next to her and stared into the fire.

"How far are we froom Mirkwood?" he asked idly.

"Three or four days hard ride, no more," she answered.

"As the crow flies or as the horse walks?" he chuckled.

She smiled. "As the horse walks since none of us is about to sprout wings and take to the air."

"I'll take the first watch," he answered, sobering.

She reached out and stayed him with a hand on his forearem. "No," she said, shaking her head. "There are three here who will not sleep, we will watch. Get some sleep, Matrim. I need you well rested for this leg of the journey."

He hesitated, then gave in. "Probably a good idea," he agreed, then slid down and squirmed into a comfortable position. He was asleep in less time than it took her to poke the fire into life and add another piece of wood.

She settled back to watch the fire and wait for dawn.

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Postby SilverScribe » Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:37 pm

((OOC: As promised, the Dawn BAP . . . ))

IC:

Slowly, as the stars wheeled overhead and the eastern horizon began to lighten, shapes and shadows began to resolve themselves into sleeping forms and rocks and dozing horses. Scribbles looked around the camp, still cloaked in the thick grey murk of predawn and sighed. It had seemed a longer night than usual, likely due to the chaotic twists and turns her thoughts had taken for much of it. And she was left, for all her ruminations, with a sense of foreboding and the feeling that this journey was going suddenly and terribly wrong.

She rose stiffly and stretched, then went quietly to the river's edge to splash water on her face and neck. Her eyes felt dry and tired, even though she had shut them for a short time, while Elenath and Dindraug had sat together and talked quietly.

She returned to the camp and began building up the fire. She thought a hot meal to start the day would likely be welcomed, even if it was her cooking. Her pack yielded up a small sack of coarse cereal grains and she set about putting a pot of water onto the fire to boil. Elenath looked over and grimaced then laughed softly.

"Please don't tell me that is your infamous porridge, Celeb Tegilbor."

Scribbles looked up, her crooked grin barely visible in the slowly lightening greyness. "Aye, it is," she replied then laughed in her turn when Elenath groaned. Dindraug looked on with some amusement, but said nothing.

She rummaged in her pack and pulled out a bulging, oiled paper packet. From it she took a few sections of dried peaches and with her belt knife, pared them into the slowly boiling water. The cereal grain followed and she moved the pot to a slightly cooler spot, so the cereal would cook without scorching. She used the knife to stir it slowly then pressed the tin pot's lid closed.

"Here, I could have gotten breakfast, along with Nin," a soft voice sounded at her elbow. She looked up to see Wiste rubbing sleep out of her eyes.

"Nin is gone," Scribbles answered quietly. Wiste's eyes went wide, then she whirled around to look back the way she had come. "No, she was next to me all night, I was sure she was right besi . . ." the pretty weaver began, then trailed off as her eyes found the flattened spot of grass where Nin had sat the evening before. Wiste turned next to the collection of their packs and saddles and Scribbles could see her mentally counting.

"Her horse is gone as well," Scribbles added softly. Wiste turned back, her face troubled. "I wanted to help her, but she wouldn't let me," she said quietly, the distress in her voice plain. "Aye, we all saw her refuse help, 'tis not your fault Wiste," Scribbles answered gently. "The Huorn attack touched her more deeply than any of us knew. I am nearly certain that it was that which has driven her from us, that it has made her believe than only by running can she shed the darkness it left on her."

"Will she be all right?" Wiste asked, as more of the camp awakened and began stirring. Scribbles put a hand on the weaver's shoulder. "I believe so. Nin is stronger than she thinks, she will surprise even herself."

"What? Nin's gone?" Bardhwyn echoed as she strolled up, raking her hands through her blonde hair. "She was still sitting behind Wiste last night when Rholarowyn and I finished with the horses." She noticed the Scribe's breakfast preparations and coughed. "Erm, I'll just get the coffee going, shall I?" Without waiting for an answer she hurried off to get her own pack.

Scribbles didn't reply, but instead went to where Matrim yet lay, snoring softly. She nudged him gently with her boot. "Awake oh thou sleeping prince," she said, then laughed as he turned over and mumbled, "Five more minutes . . ." She nudged him again, harder. Then again. "Oh alright," he groused, then got up and stumbled off towards the river.

Leoba and SB went by, also heading for the water's edge. SB looked better for the night's rest, but the darkening bruise on one cheekbone looked nasty. Leoba managed a wan smile, Scribbles wondered how much rest the poor woman had actually managed to get.

When she returned to the fireside to stir the breakfast porridge, she nodded a greeting to Rholarowyn as the shieldmaiden stopped and squatted next to where Bardhwyn was stirring the coffee. Dindraug and Elenath too, had drifted over. One by one, the company at the river returned, shaking water from their hair or hands. Wiste appeared with a stack of bowls and wooden spoons and set to dishing out the cereal, which was by now, ready.

"Ah, what I wouldn't do for a bit of honey on this," SB sighed, grinning at Leoba when she shot him an amused look, just before she gratefully accepted a mug of coffee from Bardhwyn. Scribbles took her bowl from Wiste and grinned in her turn as she sat crosslegged to eat. "Aye, my apologies, but I have no sugar left. Mayhap we will find a honeycomb or two in Mirkwood."

"All you'll find in Mirkwood are great hairy spiders," remarked Dindraug drily. Elenath simply rolled her eyes then tasted her portion of breakfast. "Ah, just as bad as I remember it," she chuckled. Scribbles merely shrugged. "It's hot and it's filling," she said. ". I want to make the Limlight by dark if possible. That means we must travel hard today, which means no stopping midday to eat."

"Then we best settle a few things now," Dindraug put in. "If you want to make the Limlight by dark SilverScribe, you have no time to waste." He looked over at Elenath.

She inclined her head. "Go ahead, Dindraug. 'Tis time you tell the Scribe what you know." She turned and fixed Scribbles with a calm, but direct gaze. "And when he is done, Celeb Tegilbor, then it is time that you too, tell all."

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Postby Rholarowyn » Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:18 am

It was the same dream, the same nightmare, ambushing Rho once again on the battlefield of her mind. Echoes from a horror lived through so long ago yet never resolved reared it’s ugly head in the counterfeit comfort of sleep. The ending was always the same, defeat…until this morning.

The shieldmadien opened her eyes slowly and gazed up towards the heavens to where a few flickering stars still remained. Hanging on to the last threads of darkness before the dawn’s morning light erased their presence for another day.

Rho continued to look at the ancient beacons of the sky and suddenly realized she was seeing them for the very first time. A new sense of calm gently emerged from her heart and she knew. The search was over. That which she had so desperately longed for had been found.

Time stood still as the lights in the sky continued to turn their brilliance away from the world of Middle Earth. Graciously giving way to the sun’s illumination over the sprouting green plains. Before the last few departed, Rho quietly rose and made her way down to the river. Once there, she carefully removed her clothing and slowly immersed herself into the depths of the icy waters. It was a renewing of her spirit. It was a baptism for her soul.

A short time later Rho began walking towards the encampment. Now dressed, the cleansing water still clung damply to her body while the evidence of her private ritual continued to drip from her hair. Yet when she reached the fringes she paused and looked over the people in front of her. Like the stars, they too looked different. Some were still sleeping, others were talking quietly. She smiled and slowly made her way over to the fire.

She remained lost in thought for some time, starring into the burning flames unaware of those around her attending to the coffee and breakfast. Not till the Scribe returned to the fire did Rho finally look up. When the peredhel nodded at her, for the first time Rho looked back directly into her eyes. Not as a threat or a challenge, but because she saw something in the Scribe’s eyes that mirrored her own. The exchange only lasted a moment.

Soon those around her began to talk, SB of honey, Dindraug of hairy spiders, Elenath of the Scribe’s cooking skills. When a momentary pause came, Rho glanced over towards Leoba and wondered if the two would ever become friends like they once had been but the thought was quickly halted when Bardhwyn handed her a bowl of the Scribe’s “famous” porridge. The shieldmaiden was apprehensive at best but quickly discovered that it wasn’t that bad. She’d tasted worse.

When the conversation turned to the more serious matters of their day and future plans Rho remained silent. She knew that her path was not theirs. But for a little longer she would stay and listen in hopes that in some way she might be of help. Perhaps with her knowledge or perhaps with her skill. At the very least, with her encouragement.

However, when the discussion was over the shieldmadien remained quiet. There was nothing more to add. Cealiner, her Rohirrim partner quietly rose and Rho followed suit. The two had done their job. They had escorted the group to the border, now it was time to leave.

The Rohirrim excused himself and went off to prepare the horses while Rho politely said her goodbyes. Some were a bit more painful than others and at times tears threatened to expose her vulnerable state. But her eyes did not fill, not until she had turned from the group and began walking over to where Cealiner stood ready with the horses.

Reaching him, she gently brushed the tears from her cheeks and then slowly took the reins. Once mounted she did not turn around, she did not look back. It was time to look forward. No more pondering what possible past she might have had. No more yearning for something that would never be. The shieldmadien had found her peace, and with it came the gift of acceptance. Now she was riding east, towards Minas Tirith.

Rho was going home.

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Postby Dindraug » Sun Apr 10, 2005 6:52 am

“Time to tell all I know, you say?” The Avari ran his hand through his long hair and smiled, “I do not believe that these humans will survive the telling dear sister; even the scion of the sunken isle is not so long lived”.

“Then tell us what you need to tell” said Dirk, his spoon halfway to his mouth. He smiled at Din as he ate the porridge, but his eye was angry. Like most of the company, Din was sure it was not at the Scribe’s cooking. The man chewed his food with some discomfort on his bruised cheek.

Dindraug stood and drew himself to his full height. He was a head short of the men, but age and experience imposed its own will on the undying and his countenance demanded respect. “So be it. Scribe, your journey will take you to the deepest of the southern woods, past places long forgotten even by my kind. They have been patrolled and dominated by Dol Guldor since the time the Dwarves fled that hill in the Second Age of Men. Now it is a haunted place, peopled only by the ghosts that Sauron left, and those spirits did not fall when he did. That is where you will take us, Scribe, on your journey to the East. Through spider-haunted woods, past hills of wights and beyond, to a court of petty Lords. There will be deaths.” He let his gaze fall on the gathered company, reduced as it was, as a bitter wind from the plains whisked through the camp, fanning the flames momentarily.

“And you think to scare us with your sorcerer’s tales Dindraug? Or will you aid us in this task?” Scribe took a long sip of the coffee Bardy had given her, feeling the warmth of the dark liquid against her palm through the wood of her ancient trail cup.

“I will aid you, Scribe, but I would also question your motive and what you would expect to gain from throwing yourself at the tender mercies that you may find on your journey.”

“I am not sure of your meaning Avari” Scribe said suspiciously.

Din turned and looked at Elenath, his eyes the colour of gold-flecked rain splashed against a new born leaf. Something passed between them, discernable only to the Eldar, and he bowed his head slightly and sipped from the bone cup he held.

“I talk only of your horses Scribe.” He smiled as he raised his head and sipped his bitter drink. “You say three or four day’s hard ride? I think that would be possible were we all riding mearas, but I am sure Ormal and the half breed stallion will not carry us all.” He looked around them, ignoring the tightness of Leoba’s hand on Dirk’s shoulder. “You will ride them into the ground, and then do you plan to take them into the woods? That is unfair on them and your companions. Nor will be setting them free on the plains where the wolf packs still feast on the dead of the war. And you have need to send a messenger, to Mundburg, and Edoras.” Din splashed the remains of his coffee onto the fire where it hissed a cloud of steam that vanished as soon as it appeared.

“I know, Dindraug. What we have seen, what your sister told you of, plays heavily on my conscience. Kings Aragorn and Eomer must know. I would call for volunteers to go to Minas Tirith-“

“And quickly whilst you still have a company left Scribe,” grinned Din, his eye almost brushing the Shieldmaiden’s who stood by the fire. Scribbles scowled back, slightly flustered, but the suspicion of a question lingering around her eyes.

“I for one will not go,” said the Avari. “I have ties of family with one who will not leave your side and I have errands in Mirkwood as well so I am destined to be at your side”.

Scribbles held his gaze for a time and then said “I am well aware of pressing issues Avari; I need some help though in dealing with those. I am glad to have you along though.” Scribbles nodded briefly at Dindraug, and he back, their glance never separating; the movements so slight that they were missed by all but the elves, and Dirk and Bardhwyn. But they sealed a trust between the two - a working trust - but on such things alliances were built. Elenath sighed, and bent to pick up the arrow discarded by Din the previous night.


Behind them the two Rohirrim had stood and were taking their packs towards the horses. The woman, her long hair free for a moment in the wind, spoke briefly to her companion before turning back to Scribbles. She muttered something to the half elf, and then formally said a quiet word to each of the company.

To Din she said “Farewell Elf, and be wary of my people. Some do not know if they serve the king.”

In reply Din said “I understand. Tell Aragorn that the Wold needs to be cleared, and that he should send messengers to the Elves. Tell Eomer that his captains need aid. Safe journey Shieldmaiden. Your strong arm will be missed”.

When she had said all she could, Rholarowyn turned quickly and walked to her horse. She nodded at Scribbles and looked sadly towards Leoba, before she turned and, mounting quickly, she galloped off into the morning light, her light brown hair catching the sunlight.


“She said she would take word to Minas Tirith and Edoras for us. But now we must make plans”. Scribbles turned to the rest of the company, and reached for the coffee pot which bubbled in the fire.

“It is time that we also moved, SilverScribe,” started Din, discarding his porridge whilst the cook was engaged with the hot metal pot “We are being watched and-“
The company rose, almost as a man and glanced around the clearing, weapons launching from sheaths and bows suddenly taught. For a moment nobody moved.

“I see no stalkers, elf,” muttered Matrim as he turned to the exasperated Scribbles and rolled his eyes.

“I would not expect you to now,” laughed Din, smiling despite the situation. “But look, friend of the East plains. Look directly south, towards the White Mountains. About a mile there are two small hillocks that look like a sleeping tiger. There are three tracker Orcs waiting there. They have waited for a full day now, they saw you arrive, they watched Nin leave last night but did not follow her. They are watching your company, Scribe, and they wait; I think for others of their kind. I heard Wargs on the wind last night. They were hunting meat that runs on two legs.” He looked at the plains where the galloping Rohirrim could still be seen heading south west, his face suddenly grim. “I have to tell you as well that on my journey here I found evidence that some of the Horsemen were riding with the same Orcs and Wargs that track you. They destroyed a village by the Anduin on your path. I did not want to mention this whilst you still had Rohir guards with you. The rot, it would appear is deep and that once again man haunts with Orc in the service of darkness.”

“Then it is lucky we have strong arms, Woodelf”. Dirk stared at the distant hills, and re-sheathed his sword, kissing Leoba gently on the top of her head as she put her arm around him. “Midnight will keep those hounds at bay. I have killed them before.”

“We will need your blade before this is out, Dirk of Esgaroth,” said the Peredhel “ but for now the Elf is right. We have to leave here, and we need to agree our goal.”

“Then maybe it is time you told us of our goal,” Said Bardy quietly. Scribbles looked around the group, her eyes meeting everyone’s there as she deliberated for an answer.
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Postby Scribbles » Sun Apr 10, 2005 8:02 pm

“Maybe it is time you told us of our goal." Bardhwyn spoke quietly, but it drew the attention of all who remained. Scribbles looked around at the group slowly, then out to follow the dwindling forms of Rholarowyn and Cealiner. She sent a silent plea to the Valar to guard and guide them, then drew a deep breath, trying to order her thoughts before she spoke.

"Agreed Bardhwyn. But we must settle our route first." She turned to the Avari and fixed Dindraug with a calm, impassive gaze. "I know something of the dangers of Dol Guldur, Master Dindraug. I was hoping to only skirt the southern edge of Mirkwood, to stay in the open between the southern eaves of the forest and the northern edge of the Brown Lands. That way, we can avoid the spiders and whatever else lurks in the southern Greenwood."

"But Cemandorin's court lies closer to the East Bight, well north of the southern forest," Elenath put in quietly. "Surely it would be better to strike north towards Lorien, cross the Anduin there and then follow it north until it's time to turn east for The Narrows. Pass north of Dol Guldur, Celeb Tegilbor, not south."

Scribbles compressed her lips in a tight line. "I agree Lady Elenath, but that way takes us too close to Dol Guldur itself, and Dindraug's points are well taken, it is indeed a cursed place. Crossing the Anduin just north of the Parth Celebrant and staying out of southern Mirkwood proper will keep us as far from Dol Guldur as possible." She didn't add the real reason for avoiding the obviously more direct route that Elenath had suggested. That it would take them past the very place where Brilhennion and his brothers had been ambushed and slaughtered, and where she had raised their cairn.

"The southern route will also double your travel estimate," Dindraug interrupted her thoughts. Scribbles nodded. "More than double it, if the terrain has become as bad for our horses as you say. I have not travelled that exact way for a few hundred years, much may have changed." She sighed and rubbed her eyes with one thumb and forefinger, then looked back at the two Eldar. "Very well, let it not be said that I cannot take counsel. We will cross the Limlight and stay a northerly course towards Lothlorien. Hopefully, the crossing below where the Celebrant and Anduin join is still viable. We will follow the Anduin north and strike through the Narrows for the East Bight. That way, we will avoid the worst of the southern forest and be in the trees as little as possible. 'And I will pay my respects to the dead,' she thought, but did not voice aloud.

"And Cemandorin's court?" Bardhwyn prompted once more. Scribbles drained her coffee to the dregs, then stared into the bottom of her cup for a few minutes. When she looked up again, her face was calm but her eyes were shadowed.

"Elenath, Dindraug, before you joined us, I told this company some of what we ride into. They know that our arrival will be marked, and that Lorfeldin will execute his lord's orders without question. They know I will be arrested immediately and that we will all be taken, likely under close guard, directly to Lord Cemandorin's Hall. I have told them that Lorfeldin is a kin-hater, and that while he has great respect for pure blooded Eldar, he has only scorn and hatred for me, for I am peredhel."

Elenath nodded as the Scribe spoke, while Dindraug listened without speaking.

"I have also told them how imperative it is that we offer no resistance, and that under no circumstances are any weapons to be drawn. The Steward simply does his duty, he is not to be interfered with in any way, no matter what." She glanced at Matrim and SB as she said this. Both men's faces were impassive, though she could see a warrior's typical defiance smouldering in their eyes.

She looked around the group. "What you now need to know is the reason for my return and why I will be arrested."

She stopped, feeling the colour rise in her face. Would they understand in the end, how deep her shame for this went?

“This is difficult for me, but since you have all offered your help, I would have you go forewarned." She drew a deep breath and let it out slowly before continuing.

"I was wed to Brilhennion, the third son of Lord Brilhen Cemandorin, the elven noble I go to see. A summons came from Imladris which has since proven to be false. This summons demanded three members of Cemandorin's court to attend a Council, and as a show of good faith, the old lord sent his three sons. There was treachery committed and all of them were slain. I was accused of plotting the false summons , the ambush as well as seeing the deed done, and I was exiled as a result. I was only allowed to leave alive because Lord Cemandorin relented at the last moment and I was spared the usual penalty for treason.” She faltered.

Bardhwyn leaned forward. “In my experience, though the penalty for treason varies, 'tis never pleasant.”

“Aye”, Scribbles answered in a choked voice, “and in Lord Cemandorin’s court, it is death.”

She looked around at all the faces as the import of what she was saying sunk in.

Wisteria spoke up. “Then why do you go back there? Won't this Lord Cemandorin simply carry out the penalty now?”

Scribbles nodded, then held up a hand as several began speaking at once.

“It is true that in returning, I am breaking his edict so I go at great risk. However, since the sentence is on my head alone, the rest of you may be detained, but you will not be harmed, especially not the Lady Elenath or, it seems, Master Dindraug.” Once more she scanned the faces in the early morning sunlight.

"I do not expect any of you to ride into what will surely be a difficult situation. If you wish to wait here, or to continue on your own way, I will understand. But Lord Cemandorin's standing orders are, that if I am found on his lands I am to be arrested immediately and taken to him for judgement. It is what I am counting on, for in that there is hope.”

Bardhwyn snorted. “Hope for what? A quick and merciful execution?”

Scribbles turned a grim face to the Archer. “No, hope to clear my name and bring the true traitor to justice.”

“I don’t follow, weren’t you already convicted of the crime?” Leoba asked softly.

“Aye lady," Scribbles answered with a wan smile. "Convicted but never proven. Therein lies my hope, for after four hundred years of searching, I now have proof of the true traitors identity and guilt.”

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Postby Scribbles » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:35 pm

OOC: Okay, the other half of the BAP to get us moving. From here, it's open season, anyone who wants to post the packing up can. Din, if you want to get us onto that ancient elven road, be my guest.))

IC:

"So, you're going to just march into Cemandorin's court, present your proof and we're done?" asked Mat.

Scribbles grimaced. "Would that it were so easy, Mat," she answered. "Unfortunately, I shall have to submit to the somewhat more lengthly formalities of Lord Cemandorin's court."

"Which means what, exactly?" Mat pressed.

"Which means I'll be arrested, almost certainly thrown in a cell to cool my heels for a few days, then put on trial. My accusers will trot out their same tired old arguments about how I arranged the death of my own husband in order to inherit whatever lands he was to get, and how I also arranged the deaths of the other two sons to remove any objections or obstacles to my ambition. The fact that I have not, nor have ever, desired either wealth or land or anything else of the sort will once again not even be considered. However, this time, it will not matter."

"And who will defend you?" asked Elenath. "I would do whatever I can, you know this."

Scribbles smiled warmly at the Eldar. "I know," she answered softly. "But I have decided to speak in my own defense, it is no less than they will expect in any case."

Bardhwyn grimaced. "You know Scribbles, that isn't always the best idea. I have some knowledge of courts, both noble and legal. I think you might consider finding yourself some crack legal help."

"I understand, Bardhwyn," Scribbles replied. "But this is not a court of the Edain, Lord Cemandorin fully expects me to speak in my own defense and I would not disappoint him. Or the Steward for that matter," she added with a grin.

She looked around. "As I stated before, I do not expect any one of you to ride into this with me. This is a personal matter and while I do not think any of you are in any danger, I have often found that my acquaintances are subject to suspicion merely by association with me. Truthfully, I will bear no grudge against anyone who feels disinclined to continue on."

Looks were exchanged, but no one seemed anxious to stay behind or turn back. Dindraug stepped into the lengthening silence.

"Right then, I suggest we break camp and get moving."

Scribbles smiled at the Avari. "Aye Master Dindraug, for though the day grows shorter, the road does not."

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Postby Dindraug » Mon May 02, 2005 12:54 pm

The camp broke quickly, the dispirited group picking up their chattels that had not been broken by the rampaging holly tree. There was some muttering over broken bowls, and sideways glances, but quickly the group mustered and clambered atop horses.

“Wagons Hoooooo!” shouted Din, grinning evilly at Scribbles. She just shook her grey head, and nudged her horse out of the site.

“You are in a remarkable happy mood Dindraug”, said Elenath, her eyebrows raised as she rode up to the Avari.

“Less than you would think, sister dearest,” smiled Din, taking the opportunity to look at the troop as they cantered northward. “If you get the opportunity look to the rear, about five miles back there are six riders; Orcs on wargs if my eyes do not mistake me. They are keeping back, but I have the feeling that if we let them know we know, they will be on us like Noldor on a tragedy”.

“Have you told Scribbles?”

“Oh, she knows I think. But if not, you tell her, and see if she can push this mobile feast a bit faster. We can loose the Orcs under the trees”. He still smiled, and threw his head back in a laugh, but his eyes were cold.

Elenath smiled too, but nodded and rode quickly towards Scribbles, who also laughed loudly, before calling: “So be it Master Elf, a challenge. Well if you think you can outride us to the Celebrant I will take the bet. Everybody, we have a race against the Avari, and so will have to pick up the pace.” With that, she nudged her horse, as the others with odd glances at this behaviour sent their mounts into a canter and they sped northwards.


“There, where the beech trees reach out to the plains. It is an old road but it will keep us safer than out here, Scribe, we must go now.” Din pointed to a narrow gap in the trees, as the party pushed tired horses down a steep incline.

“The mounts have no wind left in them Dindraug” snarled Matrim.

“We will have no wind in us unless we have cover Easterling. Run like the wind now, and we can walk the horses through the trees, but those who follow us can not see where we enter the woods. Now Go!” the Avari snarled, and slapped at the Easterling’s mount, who ran towards the woods at some hissed comment from Ormal.

Like thieves in the night, they slid beneath the trees and were soon hidden in stygian forest. Dindraug watched behind intently, and breathed relief as the wargs galloped past, their riders bellowing war cries to the empty plains.

“That has bought us some time, but let us hurry away from here. Walk your mounts for now. They are exhausted. Master Din, we are indebted to you again it seems. Lead on, and find us a safe camp. I do not feel happy in these woods, and I don’t think we should tarry long here”.

The others nodded agreement, or said nothing, as they dismounted and started to trudge along the path.



The shadows in the trees moved suddenly, and out of synchronisation with the wind. Dindraug looked away, and coughed loudly when Leoba turned that way. She looked at him puzzled, but turned away as Dirk stumbled over a tree root.

“Are you sure this is wise?” muttered Matrim from the rear, “I have the feeling we are being followed and taking this path through the trees is just slowing us down.” He looked towards Scribbles, but she just grunted and pressed on.


They walked for most of the afternoon in the long shadowed road through the forest. Beneath their feet the worn stones of the old elf road from Lórien to the mouths of the Anduin were lost in Fangorn’s grip. Broken pillars of once airy villas where the Sindar had courted Noldorian styles in the years after the War of Wrath. Elenath looked at Dindraug and smiled, they remembered these places, long before they were lost and forgotten.

“I was not sure this road could be found anymore brother, and would ask why Treebeard left it so intact” she asked, smiling as the dappled sunlight fell on her face.

“It was Amroth’s road, and he asked for it to be left, and everybody forgot it. Even the Queen of Lothlorien left it. Now, it is known to the beasts and a few old travellers.”

“I am glad that you remembered it. But I am not so sure we are alone,” muttered Scribbles, leading her horse past the two elves.

“We are not, they found us again and now we have been followed. My hope is that they do not know the path and we can get to the bridge across the Limlight” said Din lightly. “But I fear we will not”. He smiled and walked on letting his eyes take in the shape of the trees.


He was the first to move. They had walked along the road until it came to a dip where an ancient Oak had fallen across the path blocking the way. Din raised his hand as the complaints started, he had heard a noise.

There is a sound before an arrow is drawn. The tautness of a bow string before the zip when the dart is loosed from the bow, before the tearing noise as it spins through space and the thunk as it strikes home and topples the man from the saddle. Din heard as an archer drew his bow, and before he could loose, turned and loosed his own arrow. It spun out into the woods to hit the Orc. The sound of an arrow when it strikes a body is a sound all of its own.

Then the screaming started and somebody bellowed “RUN!”


More arrows rained down, and short javelins impaled a horse whose screams sent fear into everybody. And the trees were full of moving shapes, dark forms bounded in like apes in some distant jungle, wielding inhuman cries and barks as they fell amongst the party.

Swords danced and sang, as metal screeched against metal and flesh. Horses cried out and pulled from anxious hands as the melee grew like a fierce ballet.

“RUN!” bellowed Scribe, “We cannot hold them here”. She took hold of Wisteria and pushed her on to where Din and Elenath were cutting a way free in the dense undergrowth.

“Leave the horses,” shouted the Avari. “Ormal, take them back to the plains,” as he plunged into the trees, cutting down a dark form which fell broken into the road. He glanced back at the group and watched them stagger towards him. Bardhwyn and the Easterling forced their tormenters back with deft sword strokes. Behind them, the horses ran away from the fighting and back down the path towards the distant plains of Rohan.

“There, a tree has fallen across the river. Get them over it SilverScribe and we can make a stand.” Din pointed ahead and to the right, at the fallen oak which leaned across the turbulent stream.

“It is a plan, I do hope it works” she muttered, and urged Leoba and Wisteria onwards as Elenath ran on and nimbly ran across the bark to leap the short gap and land on the other side. Behind them, swords clashed against spears, and arrows sought gaps in which to bury themselves. Dirk shouted his war cry, his sword slaking itself in the blood of his foes. But they were numerous.

“I can’t jump that” Wisteria was crying, but Leoba took her hand and leapt.

“Dirk, where is Dirk?” somebody called, as a push of the dark forms split Daler from Easterling.

“Go on, I will swim the river if I have to” snarled Matrim, and his blades lashed out at again. Bardy nodded to him, and slashing out at Orc she backed towards the river as Scribbles was running uneasily along the fallen tree. Din covered her with his bow that reached out to strike at any who reached for her and the Daler as they rushed past him.

From above, a dark laugh was heard and fire struck down. Dindraug ran like the fires of Angband were behind him, and flame struck at the tree. Behind him he could see the forest was alive with dark forms, Orcs from Gundabad and from Mordor, pressing at Matrim and Dirk who now still stood back to back, their swords wet with Orc blood.

Din leapt, feeling the heat behind him as a deafening roar filled the afternoon and he sailed to land in a heap on the far side of the river.


“Do not move pretty Avari” muttered a voice as he lay in the dirt. A heavy foot stood on his back forcing him down again.
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Postby Scribbles » Wed May 18, 2005 9:22 pm

Dindraug stumbled went down, a sheet of flames at his back turning the log across the river to ash. She heard the dark laughter and swore viciously, was their road to be dogged by sorcery yet again? Dindraug made to rise but Bardhwyn put a foot on him as a shower of arrows went over them both, then snarled something Scribbles couldn't make out.

Scribbles felt an arrow pass by one ear and turned to see a group of orcs on the slight ridge across the river and above them, firing steadily. Slipping behind the tree at her back, she pulled two slim throwing daggers from their hidden sheaths. Stepping out again, she took out two of the orc archers that were closest. She cursed silently as she realized that her elven bow and quiver were strapped to her warhorse, which Dindraug had sent back to the plains. A shout from her left made her turn her head, just in time to catch a glimpse of a large stone descend towards her face.

The blow rocked her backwards and she fell, then instinctively rolled to one side. She tried to gain her feet, but her vision was hazy and her ears were ringing. Something warm was trickling down the side of her head behind her ear and suddenly there was a clashing of steel and loud shouting from the other side of the river. Disoriented, she stumbled to one side, trying desperately to wipe away whatever was obscuring her vision and draw her sword at the same time. The next thing she knew, a sharp pain lanced her left arm, just below the shoulder.

She went heavily to one knee next to a large oak and grateful for the support, leaned against the rough bark. She looked to her left arm, there was an arrow buried deep in the large muscle just above her tricep. When someone took her by the other shoulder, she reached for her stiletto, but a hard grip closed on her wrist and a face slowly swam into focus. It was Dindraug.

“Scribe!” His mouth moved but the sound was garbled, fractured. She tried to answer, to tell him she was fine, but nothing came out. A mixed look of anger and concern crossed his face and she tried to shout at him that she was fine. Still nothing.

Finally, she understood. Swallowing hard, she focused her will and managed to croak out a few words.

“The others, safe?”

The elf shook his head, then jerked his head to one side to indicate something or someone, his lips moving. She still couldn’t hear him clearly or turn her head and her vision was fading again. There was an almost unbearable pain on one side of her head and she realized that she had not much time.

“Dindraug! Get everyone away . . . find shelter, camp . . . I need to rest . . . the arrow . . . break it off, force it through . . . don’t try to draw it . . . it’s barbed, I can feel it . . . tell Bardhwyn . . .”

She watched him form her name again, then reached out and gripped the front of his tunic hard with her right hand, pulling him towards her.

“Just keep me warm . . . an hour, that’s all . . . no fire, it will attract . . . I’ll be . . . all right . . . warm Dindraug, warm . . . please . . . trust me . . .”

She could feel her grip on his tunic loosening, there was a roaring in her ears and her vision was growing dimmer and dimmer. She felt herself beginning to slump forward, towards him. Finally, she gave in, feeling her forehead touch his chest as she let the dark take her . . .

.
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Postby Dindraug » Sun Jul 10, 2005 2:18 pm

Six weeks later.....


A red blanket covered her vision, with a bright crimson spot bisected by convoluted lines of purple, which she could not discern; but warmth fell on her face filling her with content. She could feel the ground beneath her, and grass tickled her cheek whilst the smells of trees and woodsmoke filled her nostrils. She could hear birdsong, a magpie chattered in the distance and swifts called overhead as they hunted fly and lacewing. Metal scraped on wood to her right, a spoon searching a bowl for the stew she could smell. Tentatively she opened her eyes to see the hunched form of Bardy who stared away at the woodland.

For a time she looked at her companion; the tired and tatty clothing, torn and stained as if with long travel, the back of her leather jerkin discoloured as if she had carried some leaking package.

“So, you are finally awake,” said the voice of Dindraug to her left. “We were getting worried that you would only open your eyes for Mandos. Silverscribe watched Bardy turn to look at her, seeing the loss in her eyes, the cold nonchalance of her glance, before the Daler turned once again to her food.

“Have I missed much?” Scribbles croaked eventually. Something needed to end the silence.

“Most of the Anduin valley, the river crossing itself, the Wold and Talath Harroch plains south of Mirkwood,” said the Elf.

“We are at Mirkwood?” said Silverscribe sitting up sharply; which sent ripping pains through her body. She finally looked around her, at the wall of trees, the tall oaks and beeches that rose before her. Looking closely, she could see that they were the ‘Furry Oak’ and ‘Chap-Beech’ of southern Mirkwood, the tall gnarled trunks showing the blight of Sauron’s sylvan enclave.

Then she looked at Dindraug, who sat on a tree stump and ate stew from a silver spoon and a bowl of Oak.

“Where are Leoba, and Wisteria, and Elenath?” She could remember the troubled scene when the five of them had crossed the river, but that was all. In her dreams, she had reconciled the loss of Nienor, Dirk of Esgaroth and Matrim of the East, but she had no recollection of the loss of the others.

“They have gone Scribe, and you did not even notice them go.” The Elf took another mouthful of food, as Bardy stood and reached down for a bow. Something passed between her and the Avari, and then Scribbles watched her walk away towards the plain.

“She will be back, but we will need more meat and it is her turn to hunt now. And she wanted me to tell you of our travels before I go.”

“You are leaving too Avari. I thought you had agreed to stay until the end?”
“I had, but for me the end is now, and I have to find my sister. My part in this tale is over for now; like all stories we can only play our part, just as you have in mine. I have other places to be for now. For my part I am sorry as I would enjoy seeing how it played out, but it is no longer my quest, and others need my skills.” He placed his bowl on the floor, and reached into his bag for a long wooden pipe. He filled the bowl with pipe-weed and herbs, and after lighting it took a long pull of the sweet smelling smoke.

“So, tell me of the trip, Avari. Why did the others leave?” Silverscribe stood and moved towards the fire. There was a small cauldron which still contained bubbling stew that she helped herself to; a selection of trail breads and freshly baked loaf with fresh cheese lay on a platter. She looked at Din, puzzled.

“What would you know first? The bread and cheese were traded off some Asdriag Easterlings we met three days ago, the cauldron we found in the ruins of a Rohirrium town on the banks of the Great River. The meat is venison; a fine red buck shot by Leoba before she left. That was the last of it. Herbs we picked on the way, I am sorry you missed the potatoes.” He allowed his voice to trail off as he watched her chew at the meat, she could tell it was not fresh, and stared at Din again.

“She shot it three weeks ago, on the borders of Fangorn.”

Silverscribe dipped her spoon into the thick broth and savoured the smoked meat, turning it round as he pondered. In the distance a hawk shrieked on the wind, and the trees creaked in the wind. “Tell me then Avari, what happened to my little group?”

Dindraug tapped his pipe against the stump, and went through the process of filling it again; all the time watching Silverscribe intently.

“You lost consciousness during the ambush. We were stuck on the North bank of the Limlight, and were forced to run. We did so for three days, I do not know how the human women made it but they did, until we hid in a cave and rested until we could decide what to do. The discussion was long and hard, but in the end we decided to separate.” Din took a long pull of his pipe and blew smoke rings which twirled off into the morning sky.

“Leoba would do nothing but go back and find what they could of the Easterling and the Lakeman. My sister agreed to escort her, the way would be unsafe. I and Bardy agreed to take you at least as far as Mirkwood, and Wisteria came with us. You were in no fit state to join the argument,” he smiled.

“I have been unconscious all that time Dindraug?”

“Not unconscious; you have been feverish, delusional and delirious. We have carried you for six weeks Scribe, whilst you babbled and swore; and told your secrets. It is a good thing neither Bardy nor Wisteria spoke sindarin.” He almost laughed, but held her eyes with his own unfeeling ones.

“And where is the weaver?” asked the half elf, placing her half finished stew on the ground.

“We met some Gondorian traders shortly after we crossed the Anduin. She had been hurt in the Rohir ruins; a Wight had almost killed us there. So it was safer for her to travel south and take word to Gondor. From then we travelled through uprisings and bloodshed to here, where we have waited for you to wake. And now, I must take my leave of you.”

“You would leave now?”

“The Daler will be back soon, and I have to find my sister and her ward. You will be safe now; I have healed you to the best of my ability.” He looked away and let out a long whistle across the plains. It was answered shortly, by a neigh and the long golden streak of Ormal. The horse rode up to the Avari, nuzzling him deeply, and searching for the carrot that Din fed him.

“You have your horse; you did not mention we rode to Mirkwood?” She looked along the horse’s flanks, long recently healed cuts almost marred the golden fur.

“No, I have Ormal; we walked here, although sometimes you rode. Sometimes my friend here took messages to my sister. Now he will take me to her.” Din wandered round the camp, rolling his blanket, and packing his few belongings, whilst the half elf watched him.

“If you have heard from your sister, you know the fate of Dirk and Matrim?” she said eventually.

“Yes, I do.”

Din mounted, settling his pack on his shoulders, and gazing about him. “The Daler will return, she has been successful in her hunt. I will ride now to Minas Tirith to meet Elenath and Leoba. We have much to discuss. If you are successful in Cemandorin’s court, I would meet you again, and we can have many merry meetings; perhaps. Until then, I wish you well Silverscribe. I hope that Elvish justice prevails in your case, and your husband’s murderers are brought to trial. And keep Bardhwyn of Dale safe; she knows nothing of what you said in your delirium and less from my sister on the fate of your friends. It is best.”

With that, Dindraug of the Avari; oldest of the firstborn in middle earth, bar seven, turned his ancient mount towards the midday sun and was gone.

Silverscribe watched until he had vanished, then turned to the camp. The fire was in need of attention, and she could feel that she had not washed in a month.

And on the edge of the wood, a bow shot away, Bardy stood watching her, a pair of plump looking rabbits held in her hand.
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Postby SilverScribe » Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:57 pm

.

Consciousness returned slowly and with it, pain. She kept her eyes closed and went deep inside herself, examining her injuries and the extent to which she had healed while unconscious. The head wound had all but disappeared, but the presence of a persistent pain in her left arm told her that the arrow wound was yet an unfinished thing. Something was very wrong, but she could not place it. She opened her eyes.

Bardhwyn was close by, watching her intently, then turning pointedly away. Scribbles winced inwardly, whatever the current situation, it was obviously not good . . .

“So, you are finally awake.” She turned to the Avari, ignoring the residual pain that echoed through her limbs. She heard of how much time had passed and all that she had missed while unconscious, what drew her attention was her estimate of mere hours that had somehow become stretched into weeks. Puzzled, her brows drew together, but she had little time to ponder it further, as Dindraug continued on, recounting their flight and answering her questions.

When he spoke of delirium, something small clicked in her mind, but again, she was unable to focus on it while being drawn on by the elf's narrative. She bit her lip when she found out that Wisteria had been hurt, it was yet another mortal life that she would be guilty of tainting with pain and violence. But the knowledge that the pretty weaver was safely headed back to Gondor brought her a small measure of comfort.

His remark of healing her "to the best of his ability" dropped the last clue into place. She knew now why she had been unconscious for such an unusual length of time and why he had been unable to heal her fully, but she held her tongue, knowing that she would only offend him with the obvious. She would attend to the last of her hurts later. For now, there were only more questions, most of which she realized would go unanswered as the Avari prepared to take his leave. What had she said while delirious? How much of her past had she revealed? Her only security lay in the fact that she had spoken Sindarin, there were few enough who remembered it, much less understood it.

She nodded silently in acknowledgement of his wish to see justice found for her cause. As he spun his mount, she called after him, "Pass the blessing of the Valar on to Elenath and Leoba for me, and may Eru guard your road, Master Dindraug!"

She watched him disappear into the plains, then turned to see Bardhwyn standing silently at the edge of the camp.

***

She raked both hands through her filthy hair and looked around the meagre camp, searching for but not finding her pack, nor Bardhwyn's gear either.

"First things first," she grated.

She took a deep breath, in her weakened state, this was going to be a long shot. Her left hand came up to clutch at her tunic front as she whispered a quiet command in Quenyan. Soft silver light glowed briefly as she raised her right hand, drew another deep breath and put two fingers between her lips. A low, ululating whistle sounded over the grasslands, once, twice then a third and final time. As the echoes died and the glow between her fingers winked out, she felt her strength give out and she went heavily to her knees, her head bowed.

Bardhwyn was beside her as the first few drops of blood hit the flattened, dusty grass of their campsite.

"You are not yet fit enough for that," the Archer commented quietly. "Your nose is bleeding."

Scribbles sat back on her heels and nodded, holding one sleeve to her face. After a few minutes the bleeding stopped, even though her ears continued to ring softly.

"Aye, but hopefully it is not in vain," she replied, looking out into the plains.

"Wisteria's mare was killed in the ambush. As for the rest, they did not come for the Avari," Bardhwyn observed. "Only Ormal returned."

Scribbes nodded. "But the Avari would only have called as the elves do."

"And how did you call?" Bardhwyn asked, puzzled.

"As only the Istari can," Scribbles replied. "If my horse is alive, he will hear. And if he hears, he will come."



******************
Last edited by SilverScribe on Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:30 pm

******************

OOC: And that, sadly, shall end the tale here in the Pony. However, it is not the end of the story, the telling will continue, although in the Scriptorium as a single author thread.



If anyone is interested in following the rest of this part of the Scribe's journey, you will find it here: "Redemption: Lord Cemandorin's Court."
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