The Hunt for the Bride

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

Postby Leonir » Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:30 pm

Melda bit her lip. The evil elf, Leonir, was yelling again, and she stopped listening to him, just as she used to ignore her nanny in Diadron. It was so tiresome listening to his demands all the time! When he gave her fun toys to play with at first, she was entertained, but now she preferred to test the boundaries, to see what she could get away with around him. The combination of being spoilt by her guardians and sharing the fiery blood of her mother only exacerbated the impishness that seemed to grow stronger, rather than diminish, with age.

“Listen to me, child!” Leonir roared, enraged at her glassy-eyed stare. She responded by covering her ears with her small hands and humming a Diadronian lullaby loudly. At this affront, the elf stood at his full, intimidating height and prepared to slap the girl.

“Stop, you fool!” the Voice demanded. “This is no way to win over the child. Harsh words and beatings do not encourage cooperation in a child, as you should well know…it only leads to rebellion. Give her gifts, pretty clothes, easy tasks that build her confidence in you.”

“But she has been up to something…I can tell. I don’t know what it is—her mind is closed to me as it has never been before,” Leonir whined mentally. “She needs to be punished, so that she fears to make any other attempt.”

The Voice rattled Leonir’s brains. “She is but a child…she is unable to plot or to counteract our efforts. Her powers are strong, but not well-controlled yet—they are there to be harvested by us. If she were older, able to plan as an adult, there would be a terrible risk in keeping her as she is, but her mind is raw, innocent still. Stop your screaming and concentrate on directing her power to confuse and distort reality for those who would save the Sorceress.” With that, the Evil Within shook Leonir’s crippled frame until his teeth ground together. He would obey his Master, but he would tag the girl mentally, follow her mental patterns as much as possible.

“Melda,” Leonir sang sweetly, “there is someone who would love to meet you—a beautiful Princess. Would you like to see her too?”

By this time, the child had removed her hands from her ears. Leonir’s silent conversations with the Voice Within him fascinated her, so she tended to listen like a fly on a wall, unnoticed by either. Much of what they said was unintelligible to her, but she was starting to think that they were both very bad.

“Yes, please,” she smiled broadly.

Gently taking her hand in his large, arthritic hand, he took her down the melancholy hall to a simple wooden door. He knocked softly until they heard a muffled “Come in”.

Upon opening the door, the two were greeted by the sight of a copper-haired woman brushing her long tresses next to an ornate dresser with three gilded mirrors. The woman’s melodic voice filled the air around them, lulling Melda nearly to sleep with its gentleness. Slowly, gracefully, the woman turned upon her silk seat and smiled at the young girl, her face filled with bright sunshine, almost too much to bear.

“So this is Meldamorë?” The woman asked, beckoning to her, and placing the child on her emerald gown after Melda confidently stepped forward.

“Yes,” replied Melda. “Who are you?”

The stormy grey eyes of the woman glittered merrily as she looked up at Leonir. “You have not told her?” He grimly shook his head.

“I am Lurea, the Princess of Diadron.”

Melda inquisitively turned her head slightly, scanning for something intangible as she held the sorceress’s chin in her tiny hands. “You look exactly like my mother, but you are not her. How can you be so alike in face and mind?”

“I have her memories, her thoughts. We are connected, she and I. As long as our link remains unsevered, I AM Lurea.” Gently, the woman stroked Melda’s red hair. “Would you like me to brush your hair?”

Melda nodded eagerly, for she dearly loved having her hair brushed. As soon as the sorceress’ brush touched her hair, her mind became filled with fog, cutting off the mental links she had with those she wanted to help. Melda’s mind had become ensnared by the simple sorceress’ spell, but not before she sent out a single, panicked message to Hobbituk: “Beware Lurea—she cannot help you.”
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Postby erinhue » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:45 am

How long had he been here? He searched his clouded mind but could not find an answer. There had been other places like this, other taverns, other inns but he could recall none of them clearly. They might just have been figments of his beer drenched imagination. They could have all been just illusion cloaked versions of this same low establishment. He could not remember when he had first come here. He could not remember what, if anything, he had been doing before he had arrived. How long had he been here? He realized that he had just asked himself that same question. Still there was no answer.

His hand shook as he reached towards the pitcher but he took no notice as he poured the last of the dark amber colored liquid into the cheap tin tankard set before him. As he lifted the half full tankard to his lips his red rimmed eyes swept the room around him. The faces all looked kindly and he seemed to know them well. He could not recall a single name but it seemed that they were all long term companions. Nameless, with no history behind them, they seemed to be the faces of his friends.

He clutched the handle of the tankard tightly so that his quaking hand would not cause it to slip out of his grasp. He stood shakily up and raised his drink high in grand gesture as his nearly ruined voice croaked out a toast.

“To my fellow…..” The toast was never finished. The room spun fast around him and then vanished as he crumpled to the floor.

The cold stone of the floor was comforting and seemed to momentarily revive him. His surroundings were well-known. He heard merry laughter all around him and voices that stirred his heart with memories of home. He tried to move, to stand and found he couldn’t. Someone stood before him as if offering to help. When he looked up the face was cloaked in shadow but the glowing light behind gave the figure familiar form.

“Lurea?” He reached his hand out as if to touch her. The figure changed and shrank as she took a step towards him.


"No, I'm Melda," the figure said simply, in a child-like manner. She stepped forward, her youthful face now apparent and the scale of her height corrected. The young girl's head barely reached Erinhue's chest as he stood up and reached forward to touch the long hair that was a mixture of Lurea's and Culanir's reds.

The girl smiled and pointed to Agarak.

"The bad elf wants your Dragonharp, so I made sure that you slept here...I told the dragon to be quiet, very quiet. The elf cannot find him if he's quiet. But I can," she proudly announced. "The hobbit needs your help now, so it's okay to stop hiding. An elf is coming...she is very old and wants to help. Get your horse ready because she will be here soon. I have to go now, before the bad elf notices. Bye!"

She giggled as her small figure faded back into the walls of the Inn.

The dream state ended and Erinhue awoke upon the cold stone floor.

Every muscle, bone and joint screamed out in protest as he struggled to his feet. The patrons around him laughed in derision but he paid them all no mind. His hand went up to scratch at his chin and found his beard was longer than he remembered. Crumbs from many unremembered meals fell away from it at his touch.

A sour stench filled his nostrils and the bard realized that it came from him. His face frowned up as he scratched through the tangled hair atop his head and tried to spit the foul taste from his mouth.

His hand wandered here and there to scratch at the small squirmings in his clothing and felt revulsion at what had to be the cause. How long had he been here? He had no clear recollection of his arrival but what he learned of his appearance told him it had been for a very long time.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby erinhue » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:36 am

Erinhue looked around the corner he had been sitting in for an unknown number of days or possibly months. There on the floor beside the single chair was his instrument. Its once golden scales were dull and dark and tarnished. Its strings appeared to have lost the taught tightness and the little dragon’s jeweled eyes were empty lifeless stone. Agarak had dust collected in its carved crevices and the dragon harp appeared to be dead, as inanimate as the stone floor it stood upon.

I am so very sorry, old worm, Erinhue thought to it but there was no response, no sense at all of the dragonharp’s presence in his mind. “It is time we left this place” he whispered. “We are needed elsewhere.”

“Where are you going, bard?” Someone called out as Erinhue walked towards the tavern door. The last word was spoken more as an insult than an appellation “Aren’t you going to tell us more stories about you hobbit friend and his wedding?”

Erinhue ignored both the derisive questions and the laughter they brought from the tavern’s patrons. He left the dingy smoke filled inn and stepped into the rose gold of sunset and cool fresh air. He turned his back on the tavern, knowing that he would never return.
Once out side in the clean air the bard began walking towards a nearby river. He could not hear its babbling song at that distance and he did not know how he even knew it was there, but his steps lead him unerringly to the banks. There he cupped his hands to his mouth and let out a long low whistle. In a matter of minutes the sound of hoofbeats came to him from a distance. In minutes more a black and white painted pony came galloping towards him. The tiny bells braided into its mane and tail jingled merrily as Treble answered the long awaited call of his master.

The horse nearly knocked him down with its greeting. Erinhue hugged it around the neck and for a few more minutes the two stood silent in the joy of reunion. The pony started to nuzzle around seeking a lump of sugar or perhaps a juicy apple but it recoiled from the smell clinging to his long missed rider.

“I agree. I smell awful.” Erinhue laughed. It felt strange in his throat and he knew that he had not laughed in a very long time. The saddle and bedroll pack were still strapped to the horse’s back and for that Erinhue was thankful. As Treble turned his attention to the sweet clover growing on the river bank, Erinhue stripped off the filthy clothes and jumped into the cold river water to bathe away the last few ill remembered months.

When he felt clean and free of the squirmers he climbed out of the water and retrieved the change of clothing wrapped in the bedroll. Looking at his reflection in the water he saw that his curly hair was inches longer. He decided that he liked it that way and left it alone. He was considerably less pleased with the longer growth at his chin and used his knife to cut it back until its cropped curls nestled closer to his chin.

“Much better, eh?” he asked his patient mount. Treble neighed approval and stepped closer to nuzzle his rider affectionately.

“I’m afraid I have neither apple nor sugar lump to offer you, boy. In fact I have nothing for myself either. What say we go and find us both something tasty?”

Again Treble neighed approval and stood calmly waiting for the bard to mount. Erinhue picked up the seemingly dead dragonharp and fastened it to the saddle strap fashioned for the purpose. He put a foot into one of the stirrups and swung up and onto Trebles back and the three of them went off at an easy going trot, moving in the direction of the setting sun.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby TinuvielUndomiel » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:31 pm

The west wind whistled through the trees and giddily picked up speed as it left the forest, as though it were glad to find the open plains again. Yellow leaves swirled upon its currents, bobbing and darting, giving the only indication of the wind's motion under the full moon. Nearby, the muffled babbling of the Anduin added to the soft cacophony of insect hums and hoots of owls.

On the flood plain, Tinu sat upon the stallion, her silvery hair blowing forward into her face. Narrowing her eyes, the elf searched for signs of movement in the moonlight, her own slender form luminescent--not only from the moon, but also from within. As she became more certain of her path, of what must be done, her aura grew steadily brighter. Doubt of her importance still plagued her, but this doubt was being overcome by action.

No large creatures moved in the open area of the flood plain--only a few rodents scurried from the forest to little ponds made from the last flood of the Anduin. Sighing, she dismounted and pulled an apple from her leather pouch. Cutting it in half with a knife, she offered one part to her dark equine companion. He took it greedily, chomping and smacking his large lips, then licked her hand, hoping for more. In spite of herself, Tinu laughed, the sound melding with the wind as though the two were one.

"Alright, my friend. You have certainly earned the whole apple."

He snorted happily as she lifted the other half of the apple to his eager mouth, then nosed her bag, hoping she would take his hint.

"Not today. We need to save the rest for our journey, as we do not know how far we must travel to find Erinhue." The stallion shook his head and nudged her forward, toward the east.

"You're right--we should continue. If you grow weary, then we shall rest. Otherwise, we must trod on for the sake of Lurea and Hobbituk. I wonder how Hobbi is doing," she murmured thoughtfully as she gracefully mounted. Without her task, which took most of her concentration, she would be tempted to fall back--to allow her wounded heart to cry out. But the Bard must be found and her personal pain must be stifled, or else the Evil might win.

As they moved steadily east, the Calaquendi elf hummed a tune from Valinor that was long-forgotten in MiddleEarth. Soon, she found herself transitioning from softly humming to singing in her earthy soprano (what follows is the translation of part of the song she sang in Quenya...the rest cannot be properly translated into English):

"Ninquelótë sheds silver light upon our hearts;
The darkness shies at his advance and departs.
Sweet dew shimmers and awaits his kiss,
While true love knows nothing is amiss.

...

Touch me with your metallic sheen, dear tree,
Clear my soul with your silven remedy.
Illuminate my long path now so dark
Until Culúrien's light I do mark."

Buoyed by a sudden strength in her ancient limbs, Tinu inhaled the sweet, damp air and gently nudged her noble steed. He would lead her to the Bard somehow...why else did Maelan choose this beast for her?
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:13 am

Befuddled by the evil spells, Lurea's mind swirled feverishly. She tried to grasp at snippets of memories, at anything that would remind her of what she fought against.

Why am I fighting? Who am I fighting? Is it worth the struggle? Hobbi's dead...my beloved Herbert is dead....

She thought of the hobbit's dark curly hair, his wide blue eyes, the generous heart that endeared him to everyone that met him, his legendary culinary skills (especially when it came to stew). His cheerful image came before her eyes...who knew how infinitely dear he was to her? But he was gone, never to return on MiddleEarth.

Suddenly, he stood before her in his wedding clothes. It was their wedding day, a day that felt years ago.

"I, Herbert Took, known to all as Hobbituk of Tookland, the Shire, do stand here today in the sight of friends old and new, strangers from afar and our benevolant creator Eru, to join with my one true beloved Turelie Lurea of the fair folk.

Here, do I declare my undying, ever true and perfect love for this woman and all that she is, was and ever shall be.

Her wisdom, Her beauty, Her living soul, I hold each as precious and will do everything within my power to save her from any harm.

I will be faithful to her, Cherish her and adore her from this day until and beyond the crumbling of mountains, the draining of the seas and the extinguishing of the stars.

I declare that I will hold true to her, protect her, and fight with every inch of my unworthy soul to keep her safe and to keep her mine.

I will always love her, no matter what may come between us."

Hobbi's eyes were still glistening from the tear he had shed for Tinu, but they now shimmered with an additional element--true, faithful love for his soon-to-be wife.

My beloved... She reached out toward his fading form. The shape suddenly morphed into that of Culanir, the brave man from Ithilien, the man who might still live.

She had not forgotten her intense love for him--it still lived deep within her soul. And there would always be the reminder of Melda--the child who bore her father's brilliant green eyes. But it was a painful reminder, for her soul was forever torn from Culanir's--this same evil had once tempted her, turning her heart black and cruel, forcing her to torture those she loved best, especially her dear Culanir. Her one consolation was that the poor mortal did not know of his daughter, for it might unravel what was left of his tormented mind.

Despite the deft handiwork of her closest friends and allies (especially Leoba and Rholarowyn), she had seen Culanir at the wedding, his handsome mien morose. Perhaps he was bitter--she was marrying another, when it should have been him. Or maybe he was grateful that one other than himself would be tormented, yet he remembered his own agony at her hand. Either way, their relationship could never be again, not even with the death of her husband.

She had been so incandescently happy at her wedding...finally, she had found her soulmate--a creature who loved her despite her faults, a happy hobbit who would give her the simple life she craved: a domestic life filled with cooking together, raising children, and depending only on one another. A cloud had passed over the day with Culanir's presence reminding her of the previous failure to attain her dream, as well as the torments she had brought unwittingly, ruining him for life.

Tears silently ran down her alabaster cheeks. She had done it again--she had been the cause of her love's death. Death followed in her wake, eagerly devouring the men who loved her. Death spat Culanir out, but had taken the best parts of his mind and soul, leaving him broken and little better off than dead.

Lurea still vividly remembered Culanir's last kiss, when they were trapped within Mouth of Sauron's lair. She had pulled him from the clutches of the Surgeon, who had implemented several slow, agonizing torments, and they hid from MoS's minions until they could make an escape plan.

Feeling Culanir's delicate touch upon her face, knowing that there was still love in his heart for her, despite what the evil had done through her, broke the final barrier. She sobbed upon him, allowing her lips to meet his. Perhaps there was a chance for them after all, for love seemed to conquer all...

"NO!" She had sat up suddenly, her eyes wide. The moment their lips had locked, a vision of her torment upon him scalded her mind's eye. No, they could not be together, not after all this. Was he truly trusting her now, or was he still under a terrible spell by the witch within her, still struggling against the powerful sorceress? She could not let herself be drawn into what might be false. Besides, she did not deserve such happiness after ruining the life of the man she loved.

"Lurea, please, don't pull away." His words had broken her heart, but she could not allow this to go on. They would soon be discovered and all would be lost forever. The least she could do was save him from this hell.

"I can't, don't you understand?" She wept, no longer the proud princess, but instead a broken scullery-maid, humble and penitent.

"No, I don't understand, I never will. I love you, don't you realise that. And I thought you loved me?"

Oh, how she had wished that she could answer this, to assure him that she wished to be with him for eternity and longer. Even if he were to die (oh, perish the thought!), she thought, she would have traveled to Mandos' hall and pleaded for him as Luthien once did for Beren--such was the depth of her love. She would have done anything to alleviate the pain she saw pouring from him, but she could not. Oh to join him in soul and body once more, she had thought, to know one another as only lovers could. Then she could bare her soul again and allow the torrent of emotions to pour from it, telling him of her love, stroking his face as he did hers now. She had yearned for this, but knew deep within that such a thing was forever taken from them--from the moment her soul gave in to the dark creature that overtook it, she had thrown away any chance of happiness with this man.

Yes, this was her passion of the past, a flame that had never died. And yet, her love for the hobbit had surpassed even the fiery passion. It was a quieter feeling, but no less deep. But it mattered not now, for her Hobbi was dead.

Dead...No reason to fight...They're all dead... Lurea lapsed back into the nonsensical mental meanderings and murmured in her restless sleep.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:02 am

Breadcrumbs… Breadcrumbs…


“I see no breadcrumbs Halfling. I sense only stone and ash and the ghost of the ocean.”

They were standing at the foot of several staircases. Each whirled and winded their way into the darkness with a seeming disregard for the conventions of any form of architecture either Hobbi or Morg had ever seen. Some went steeply upwards into the gloom of the ceiling, whilst other plunged downwards. Peering into the black they could just make out that others went upwards some distance before turning and heading down again. Some of them also had forks in them part way along, leading off into completely new directions.

“No, I’m sure I know this… there must be a -”

“Beware Lurea—she cannot help you.”

The words came flying out of the darkness with such manic speed and volume that Hobbi was knocked to his knees clutching his head. He recognised the voice, it was the young girl… it was Melda, but where in conversation she had been calm, curious and self-assured, now she was panicked and desperate. The echo of the words in Hobbi’s mind vanished as quickly as they had arrived as if they had been suddenly cut off.

“Did you hear that?” he whispered, climbing back to his feet. Morg, as usual, remained still. He gazed at the Hobbit with his usual disdain,

“What? I heard nothing. Must you crumple in a tragic heap at every opportunity?”

Hobbi whirled around, angry,

“Look, I didn’t ask you to come with me! In case you’re wondering, the idea of trudging through dark ominous caves with only a… a… monster… for company, does not exactly fill me with uncontrollable joy, understand?”

There was a moments silence, then Morg threw his back and laughed loudly,
“Your words are as weak as you are Halfling, yet you amuse me,” he patted the Hobbit on the back. A gesture meant to be friendly, although given his relative strength to that of Hobbi, it felt as though he had nearly dislodged his shoulder.

“Come then. You seemed so sure. Tell us which of these staircases your so-called breadcrumbs are leading you towards.”

Hobbi took a step forwards, approaching the staircase nearest to them. He made to step up, but suddenly felt himself being pushed back by an invisible hand. The unexpected force made him topple backwards and once more he found himself sitting on the cold stone floor. He could almost hear Morg’s eyes rolling in their sockets,

“Yet agai-”

“Look, just don’t. I haven’t the patience. Let me try some of the others…”

He scrambled to his feet and tried another step, this time more gingerly. Again, he was pushed back. He tried another and the same thing happened. On his third go, he stood swaying on the first step of a staircase that led downwards waiting for the invisible hand to push him over. It didn’t happen this time.
“Right. This must be the one.” he turned to Morg and shrugged his shoulders.

“You know this how?” Morg said flatly, “Is this some strange Halfling magic I know nothing of? You already got lost in your own head today, I’m not sure you can be relied on for directions.”

“Well, stay there if you want. See if I care.”

Hobbi turned back and began heading down the stairs, he did not turn to see if the Orc was following. He did not really care too much. As he proceeded deeper and deeper the darkness seemed to become thicker and more oppressive, however all the time he had so recently spent in these pitch black caves had done wonders for his night vision. He found that even with the dimming light of the torch he gripped in his right hand he could see much further ahead than he expected.

Unfortunately, what he now saw was something he rather wished he couldn’t.

Several feet below, but running swiftly up the stairs towards him. Four creatures of leather skin and mad bulbous bright eyes. Goblins, yes, but of the deepest kind. Those that have never seen the sun. Teeth like daggers glinted in the torchlight as did the rough, uncrafted blades which they clutched greedily in their large claw-like hands.

“Oh,” said Hobbi with a gulp, “Morg.” he said, although it came out in a whisper. The goblins had nearly arrived. They were grunting and growling between themselves and even making a noise which sounded like giggling with delight at the discomfort of their easy prey.

He turned and shouted with all his might back up the stairs,

“MORG!”
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Postby Leonir » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:32 pm

Leonir grinned, his pointed teeth gnashing together. It was so diverting to play with the hobbit. He could see why Lurea had chosen this one to be her prey--he was intelligent without being a threat, funny without being overly annoying in difficult situations, and most of all, easy to manipulate with a pretty face and a shake of the hips.

Thinking of that, he turned to the sorceress on the stone slab--the perfect replica of another elven sorceress.

"Comfortable, my dear?" He purred.

"I would prefer tighter bonds," she replied, shaking the leather straps wound around the stone to demonstrate the looseness. In response, he roughly grabbed a strap and threw the buckle several notches tighter. She cried out, "A bit too tight, that!"

Breathing heavily, grimacing through the pain, she glared at the dark elf. "It's for authenticity, Lucinthe. Struggle a little, let the bonds cut through you slightly. The hobbit will wish to tend to your wounds once he gets here."

Looking at the last glimmer of the twilight that furtively crept into the drab cell from an impossibly high window, Leonir grinned again. "It will not be long before the hobbit finds his 'Lurea', thanks to my breadcrumbs. But first, he must survive the goblins of the deep."

Turning to Lucinthe, he brushed auburn strands from her face, then stood back and looked over his work with pride. From the flowing red hair to the stormy, ever-changing eyes, the alabaster skin to the alluring voice, the creature was an exact replica of Lurea. Even her memories were those of Lurea, not of her own life, for they might corrupt Lurea's in Lucinthe's mind.

"As long as your connection to Lurea remains unsevered, you shall have her memories and she shall have yours. Let's just make sure that the transition went smoothly: Who tried to stop your wedding?"

Closing her eyes and sighing softly, she replied, "Tinu, my adopted sister. I wish I could have spoken to her after the wedding, but I could not find her...and then I was brought here, by you." By the end, she was glaring at Leonir again.

"Excellent," he sneered back. "When they release you, do not forget your mission."

"How could I?" the sorceress retorted, shaking her hair out of her face. "You won't let me forget. I'm no fool, Leonir...do not underestimate MY power. There was a reason you chose me from all others in MiddleEarth--I am the best."

"No," he reprimanded her with a slap. "Lurea is the most powerful sorceress of those left, for she still knows the old ways. But I have her under my spell...do not forget that you could easily find yourself under the same. And you have no one to come to your aid...but even if you did, they would be no match for my strength."

"But Lurea has friends who are powerful," Lucinthe darkly warned, her eyes nearly black with storms that glinted occasionally with lighting. Her voice grew low, to nearly a growl, as her eyes became blind with a vision, "Beware your ego, Leonir...HE comes to battle the ancient evil within you--an evil he has fought before.

And this time...he shall succeed."
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Postby prmiller » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:35 am

Final Journeys

Willum looked again into the envelope containing Parm's letter and noticed a slight
bulge on the inside. Another message! He borrowed one of the table knives and
pried away the paper on the inside. He carefully lifted out the paper and read:

My quest is as dark as the raven's
to ink, all my quests are as light,
go not to the hostels or havens,
go deep where the mithril is bright.
Release any wise eruditions,
for lunatics go where I tread
trust not in the ancient traditions,
I go to awaken the dead.
An offspring has birthed darker magic,
a power no elf lord will touch,
there shall be more deaths, which is tragic,
but little must give way to much.
Once you have completed this rhyming,
a clarion call you shall hear,
forgive me for callous mistiming:
I see you in my palantir.

Parm

No sooner had Willum let the words "palantir" brush his lips,
than a soft, and then brighter and louder note of music filled
the air around him. To his amazement...and horror...no one
in the inn noticed nor heard all that had transpired.
When Willum replaced the letter into its little pouch, the noise
of the inn could be heard once more and the persons in it
resumed activities of their own.

It had been a carefully crafted spell!
And Willum had set it in motion!
He had been summoned.
But to what? What did Parm's words mean?
What powers had he absorbed and tasks taken?



Parm felt the air grow still and suddenly cool.
It was the power of the words and the music within.
Willum would come, but to what would he come?
Parm was ages older now. The blessing of the Valar was no
longer with him and the chief householder of Imladris has long
since left Parm to his own darkening paths. Only one word
came to Parm's mind now: Leonir. It was the fabric of his
nightmares and the name that Arahn had sobbed in the
dungeons of Orthanc, the place the Elves had allowed the
men of Gondor to use to prevent dangerous people from
hurting others. Arahn was there now. His only son...his dearly
beloved son. Now a shadowy wisp of what he had once been.
Parm held out hope for healing.

He has once confessed to Aravel:
"If there is colossal evil, there must be an even greater good to
undo it, or the plans of Eru are mere whims, and that I do not
believe, for I have known the Valar, and seen flickers of awesome
power among them. Arahn is my test, my journey, my last
great quest, for in healing him, I shall, perhaps, undo his unknowing
and unwitting commander...Leonir."

"I must find the sage lore of the First Age that was kept on Numenor during
the Second Age and the words of unbinding, because Arahn, unintentionally
cried out in fear of them, that they would take away his power and return him
to what he had once been and what he had despised in his search of knowledge
that would challenge my own.

The son contests the father and becomes the next great man.
It is an ancient path, and those who travel it sometimes believe that
greatness is found in power that others, far wiser, have rejected."

Aravel had only looked at Parm, as he recalled, with eyes brimming with tears.
"My beloved, my little sparrow, do not fly into that great storm. Your
wings are not meant for tempests. I fear it shall buffet the life out of you
and give you nothing for all the pain you have endured to fly into the
heart of the maelstrom. Do not look into the clouds that way, my beloved."

Parm remembered those words now, spoken months and months ago.
Even as he remembered, the air suddenly filled with sweetness, and color
returned to the leaves and flowers around him. Willum shall come.
Last edited by prmiller on Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby erinhue » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:13 pm

The rose gold light of the setting sun was fading from the sky as Erinhue rode west towards it along the banks of the river. I should know its name he thought as Treble walked along its banks. There was a lot that he should know but some how did not recall. He had been about something very important but he could not quite remember what it was.

The rumbling in his stomach reminded him that he was hungry. When had he eaten last? Another question without an answer. When would he eat next? At this one the bard laughed aloud. That was a good question. In other times he would have simply asked Agarak to provide a meal, and what ever he could conjure up in his mind would have instantly appeared before him. His empty stomach prompted him to give in to the temptation but the one thing that he did know was that to call upon the harp would doom not only himself but others as well.

Hobbie. An image of the little hobbit leapt up suddenly in his mind but it was not as he had ever seen his friend in memory. The hobbit was walking, no running, in a dark and distant place and there was danger all around him. The place was dark and dank where no sunlight could enter in. An underground tunnel and there was danger both before and behind him.

The image came to him so clearly and so realistically and so suddenly that the bard nearly fell from the back of his trusted mount. Treble stopped instinctively knowing that something was amiss. Erinhue put one hand to his forehead as if to pull the image out for a closer inspection.

It was gone. The dull ache in his head remained but the image of his friend was gone. With it went the cloud upon his memory and Erinhue knew what he had been doing when he took the detour that led him to that inn where he had spent an untold time.

Those tales he told in that low class tavern were not some spinnings from his bardic imagination they were the true image of the past and the reason for the urgent mission he had been on. Hobbituk’s bride had been stolen and he and several others had been off in search of her. He remembered the hobbit’s harsh words of accusation that seemed to have broken their long standing friendship. He remembered his fight with Culinar, the fight that had destroyed the Lucky Fortune Inn. He remembered other things but mostly he remembered the guilt and shame. He had promised that nothing bad would happen and the worst of all possible things had in truth occurred. Lurea had been stolen right from beneath their very noses.

He forgot the inner grumbles of his empty stomach and swung down out of the saddle. There were now too many memories swirling about within his mind and he needed to stop right at that moment and try to sort them out.

“I wish that I could speak to you, old worm.” The words were whispered into the gathering dark of night. There was no response from Agarak and the quiet was like a gaping hole inside his head. A ghostly voice was waiting there. Not the voice of the dragonharp but one that sounded closer to his own. In his mind’s eye he could see only fire and the voice within it whispered back to him, “ Bard, It is time.”
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby erinhue » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:39 pm

The Lucky Fortune Inn was burning all around him but he did not feel the raging heat, the violent flames did not touch him. He stood with in the inferno and knew that he had caused it.

“It is you, yet it is not you, but it must become you and you must become it.”

The riddle sounded in Ernhue’s mind in the voice of Agarak but he knew the dragonharp did not speak. As if to reassure himself he turned to look at where it hung from Treble’s saddle. It was still as dull and dead looking as it had been in the tavern. It did not speak and would not. The sound came from memory.

Treble had stood faithfully by as his master sat beside the river. When time passed and the bard did not move the pony went to the the edge of the river bank and drank his fill. When the man had still not moved, the pony wandered a short way and munched upon the sweet grass fed by the nearby waters.

Another memory came to Erinhue, one from a time very long ago. The elf lord,Elbren’s wife, a wise and empowered elf, had once shown him a way to go within and there he had seen Agarak in its true form. He laid back on the ground, gazed into the sky and stared up at the stars. Unmoving he stared and stared until the stars began to move and then to swirl. They seemed to come down from the sky, or he went up to meet them. He could not decipher which it was but in the end it did not matter. They were spinning all around him and moving deep within to light a pathway which he followed to a place made of cold fire. As he entered in he could see the giant figure of a magnificent golden dragon, a dragon with blazing jewel red eyes.

“I have waited long for you to come here, Bard.” Agarak’s melodious voice sounded. “ I was almost in despair that you should not find the way.”

“ I was long asleep” said Erinhue as he looked up into the dragon’s face. “ I had forgotten everything but now I remember it all.”

“Not all,” the dragon said,” just what you would recall but it is time for the whole of the truth to be revealed. You are the Bard for that is who you are. You are the Berserker for that is the source of your power. You are one other, one that now must come to be if any are to be saved and a great evil be averted and put to final rest.”

“ The Champion.” Erinhue said in a hollow sounding voice.

“Yes for that is your destiny, the purpose for which you were born into this world."
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Postby erinhue » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:18 pm

In a place made of cold fire that both did and did not exist the golden figure of a winged dragon towered over the figure of a man. Erinhue and Agarak stood facing one another on a plane of unreal and other worldly reality. The dragon began to fade to a golden mist. Its voice was heard coming from the ether.

“Remember, stay within the boundaries of the flame or all is lost.”

As Agarak’s golden image dissolved into the mist another shape began to take on solid form. As Erinhue watched it became the figure of a man. It was about his height although it seemed to be somewhat taller. It was about his build but it seemed to carry greater bulk that bespoke of immense power. As the form came closer to its completion the Bard could see that it had his face but the features were contorted with great fury. The sea grey eyes were ablaze with raging fire. The starbright grin was replaced with bared teeth and lips pulled into an angry snarl. The Bard stepped back as he stared into the face of the Berserker.

“Remember.” Agarak’s voice came to him with a final warning and then all sound was drowned out by a maddened howl of pure blood lust. The Bard braced for attack as the Berserker leapt towards him with murderous intent. The two were locked in mortal combat a lethal battle that only one could win.

Erinhue wrestled with his opponent, wrestled with himself possessed. The very touch of the Berserker burned like fire, something the Bard had never felt in his whole life. He summoned up his strength and threw the creature from him. He backed up a step or two and then remembered that he must remain within the boundary of the flames.

Undaunted the Berserker howled into the void around them and leaped again to snap at the Bard’s throat. Erinhue drew back his fist and slammed it into the face of the Berserker. The creature stopped, and staggered backward, stunned and amazed that it had felt the blow. The pause was momentary then it jumped back with renewed vigor. Clenched tight to each other’s chest they fell to the ground and wrestled for superior position.

They rolled upon the ground, both of them screaming. The Berserker howled in rage and pure frustration. The Bard screamed out in pain at the fire burning at his flesh. The Berserker tried to claw at his intended victim’s eyes as the Bard kicked him away with the strength of desperation. The Berserker charged forward. The Bard sidestepped the lunge and kicked the Berserkers feet from beneath him, pouncing upon his back when he went down. He put his arm around the neck of the mad image of himself and made the attempt to cut off its very breath. The neck muscles were taut, it felt like trying to choke the life out of a tree.

The Berserker bucked and rolled but the Bard would not release his grip and held on tight. The two of them rolled towards the wall of cold fire the defined their battle ground. Knowing that in the next moment they would both roll out beyond it, the Bard let go, giving up his advantage and they both got to their feet with in the ring.

The Bard was fast growing tired. His skin burned, his breath came and went too fast,and his muscles were growing weak. The Berserker seemed to suffer no ill effect from the battle and the Bard realized that he would loose if he continued to fight the Berserker’s fight.

He could not win out by brute force, in that his alter ego had him beat. The Berserker charged forward once again but the Bard leapt and rolled away. Another maddened charge was again agilely avoided. The Bard knew that soon this tactic would work against him. He would wear himself out and become slower and then the Berserker would have him. He knew he could not withstand another bout at close quarters. His strength was dwindling while that of his opponent remained at full force. The Berserker was howling once again as he instinctively sensed victory. The Bard then realized there was only one thing he could do.

“Clarion, to me.”

Erinhue shouted the command and held his hand out to receive the blade. The sword appeared in a split second. In a split second more, the charge was made.


On the banks of the Anduin River, at the time when darkness had just completely claimed the sky, a fiery column of cold fire blazed towards the heavens and an earsplitting howl of victory tore through starless night, casting unseen shadows and unheard echos from a place that did and did not exist. Unseen and unheard but for the searching eye and questing ear for which they were intended.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby prmiller » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:35 pm

Final Journeys

Parm rose from the bench on which he had been sitting on the balconies
overlooking the Ford of Bruinen. He put up his hood, tucked his hands into
opposite sleeves and rushed away to go to a garden to which few Elves dared to
come. It was a place of memorials, but it was also the doorway to crypts below
ground, the one's that Arahn, in boyhood bravado, had discovered.

Behind a statue of Finrod, there was a movable depression of stone. Parm pushed
it in and the statue move forward enough for a hand to reach in and pull it forward
even more. The stone moved easily, for it had been placed on a kind of soapstone,
both soft and lubricant.

Parm reached into his cloak for a special stone. He cupped the stone to his mouth
and whispered words into the stone. It woke with a slowly growing light, until it
was like holding a tiny star.

Down the steps Parm went. These were Archives of Imladris. Protected, preserved,
perilous. They held stories and secrets, lore and legend. Few came, but those who
did came for single purposes: to find a scroll, a parchment declaring ownership of
property, a deed of declaration, an obscure family lineage. None of these brushed
Parm's mind with their importance. Parm knew what he must find. His mind was
focused on finding a map and an codex of ancient letters, a primer to teach the
language of the First Age.

There was no sense of time in this place. Day and night flowed into one. At last,
Parm found what he knew was there. It was a leather box, held together in an
ingenious pattern of thongs and toggles. Inside it were scrolls, carefully prepared
and preserved and if one unlaced the box it revealed a painstakingly detailed map.
Parm had been close the last time. He had been to the southern coasts, but other
needs had driven him away from where he knew he must go... back to Lond Daer
Enedh...the ancient port of the Numenoreans.

Parm sat back on stone seat that he himself had asked to be put there.

His mind was darkening. He remember the cloud of black, the Crebain of Dunland,
but this time he did not open his eyes in panic, this time he let them simply
fall shut and he looked, deep into the blackness, until he saw a shape.
It was Arahn.

"My father."
"Son."
"I called you here."
"The birds are yours?"
"They serve my purpose."
"Why have you summoned me?"
Silence. Parm waited, patient as ever.
"You know." Arahn responded after what seemed like a life age.
"Leonir?"
"You can use his name?" Arahn's tone was unmistakable. Awe.
"Am I still a child, frightened by shadows?"
"You are the weak, old Bard, dallying with dipthongs."
"If you refer to my poetry, I think you mean iambs."
"I bring you a warning."
"From your ... mentor"
"No, about Leonir."
"You must call to him. He waits."
"No, he does not wait. He has never waited."
"You must call to him."
"Has he...summoned me?"
"Is that not what he always does?"
"What am I to tell him? What am I to say?"
"What will be enough for him."
"Son..." Parm's mind was tiring.
"My father."
"How long have you know of the power of the Palantiri call?"
"Is that not why the stones were made?"
"To focus the energies of minds desiring to meet?"
"That is so. Is it so great a wonder?"
"The Elves need no such stones."
"They are Elves. We are...not."
"Do I need stone or...spell?"
"You need yourself. How you call to him is up to you."
"My son..." Parm was wearying quickly.
"My father." Arahn's mind-voice was steady and strong.
"Does he expect me to call soon?"
"What is ... soon? If you mean before your life ends,
then all times are soon."
"Before the rising of the next sun, then?"
"Yes."
"Do I meet him...here?"
"You may meet him in your bath, for all he cares."
"Then I shall leave this place and meet him on the High Moor."
"Very well. Fare well, my father...".
Arahn's voice faded at the word "father", so that it both lingered and
stung.

Parm opened then closed his eyes in great weariness.
But he was not alone.
"Beloved."
It was Aravel! There was no form...only the voice.
"Beloved." She called again, in his mind.
"My gem."
"You have met Arahn. The pools of thought here are greatly disturbed."
"I have."
"No dungeons for the mind, I see."
"No, my dear. No places of holding...he is as free there as here."
"In some ways."
"Why have you called to me?"
"Your heart yearns to return to Lond Daer, does it not?"
"You are right."
"My dear...you are a fool."
"Yes, but I am your fool, and a fool you love."
He felt a bemused chuckle in the folds of his mind.
"Parm, do not go. We nearly lost you the last time."
"I am no longer Parm the Pilgrim. The Valar may have
taken my life-gift away, but they have given far more."
"Your mind is tired. I can...I can...sense it."
"Yes. Arahn draws out all that is good in me and mocks it."
"You have always appeared weak to him."
"Despite the Watcher of the Wastes and the dragon hordes?"
"He was far from you on those adventures and filled with
schemes of his own."
"What of Tinula and Valaniel"
"Your daughters have left you. Out of anger and despair,
they now seek new lives of their own."
"And you?"
"I would not ever leave you...separate myself from you,
change, perhaps, yes,
but leave? No, not ever."

"What advice do you give now?"
"Wait for Willum. Go to Gondor and find the great mages there.
Ask for the great granddaughter of Andreth. She is known as
the "Bringer", for with her mind she can go where all knowledge
lays out like fields of flowers, and she plucks bouquets of insights
to bring back to those who ask for her aid. She is both wise
and wily. She will give you what you ask, but you much be specific
and hide nothing from her. Even the once mighty Sauron learned
of ring-forging and power-weaving from her. She had hoped he would
repent of his evils, but it is like asking a spider to grow gills and swim."
"The Bringer. No name but that?"
"There is no other. You may hear her called Athelas, but only as
a term of endearment."
"I shall wait for Willum, and we shall journey to Gondor."
"No, my love. You must journey ... and stay at Gondor.
Once you leave this place, I have been charged to keep you far
from it. The shadows you bear and the darkness woven about
you, Rivendell can barely endure. You are like a great stone
leaning against a tender willow. It will accommodate the press,
you stunt its growth."
"Leave?! Imladris? I am her Bard! I am the Titled One."
"You shall ever be Bard of Imladris, but your home is
lost to you. A title does not leave, though the place has fallen.
Think of Aragorn of Arathorn, a descendant of great kings of
Numenor. The child of sundered lands, yet he did great deeds.
Go. Do your own great deeds. I shall be able to meet you
at Gondor, at Osgiliath, for that is where people of song and
poetry, of great artisanship lived...before the Dark Days."
"I am tired."
"Then rest, my love. Rest."
Parm felt his limbs sag.
Sleep swept over him, and any darkness became
like a blanket, swathing him in its embrace, and
he dreamed of Aravel...as he had always done,
the maid who had given him songs.
Last edited by prmiller on Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby TinuvielUndomiel » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:29 pm

Tinu knew that they were getting close.

The full moon that reminded her of home had been suddenly obscured by ominous cumulonimbus. Lightning flickered across the sky, at times stabbing the blackness, at others, appearing like the scarring wounds of a great warrior.

"A great battle takes place this eve," Tinu whispered to the angry air.

Her skin felt more and more electrified as she rode on through the night. As the sharp reports of the strobing lightning grew more insistent, the elf realized that they were traveling toward the source. And the more she listened to the atmosphere, the more she felt that this could be no ordinary cluster of thunderstorms--these were born of an incredible energy source, even greater than the explosive latent heat that Lurea harnessed in the WeatherSpeller's land of RaumoVaiwa.

The stallion kept an even stride, even amongst the rough rocks in their path, steadily moving toward a clearing in the brush, right next to a small loop in the Anduin. Tinu knew better than to guide him; after all, Maelan had sent the horse. Surely this beast sensed what she could not--that Erinhue was near. Why else would they move into a region that screamed "Danger!" to her?

Suddenly, the beast stopped and pawed the ground with his left hoof. Tinu looked up and saw a different glow to the sky--not one of lightning, but of a place that mortals fear to tread--and heard a blood-chilling howl too reminiscent of the Berserker for her comfort. She was grateful that she was no mortal, for the horse, having shown her what he still carried in his mind, began to penetrate the outer fringes of the brush.

All too soon, they found themselves in the clearing and were immediately met by a sight that chilled Tinu's soul.

Remnants of torn clouds were still wound in the Bard's beard and long hair, which spoke of another world. Wisps of unearthly fire still licked the ground near the feet of the heavily breathing, but victorious, Champion, but they were ephemeral and soon joined their kindred. Tinu's own faint glow from within was nearly extinguished in the presence of the blinding light that emanated from the man who had been, and was still in some sense, the Bard of Belfalas. She was afraid to move before him, especially since she had knowledge of the Berserker--any sudden move might prove fatal.

So, instead, she chose to sit still and to observe. Would he know her? Would he raise Clarion in greeting or in aggression?

Tinu longed to approach, to tend to his freely-flowing wounds with her herbs. Who had he fought? Cautiously, she deliberately turned her head to search for signs of the creature who must have escaped, for its body was not in immediate view. Nothing.

Her hooved companion snorted as she searched, waking the strong, yet ethereal, Erinhue from his stunned reverie. The blinding light dimmed, making his wounds even more apparent. Tinu gradually lowered the hand from her eyes--a motion that would normally be imperceptible to most mortals, yet this caught Erinhue's attention. His eyes immediately locked with hers, frantic and half-crazed. There was something that had awoken within, something frightening, but she instinctively sensed that she was not his chosen prey.

Feeling braver, and hoping that some old friendliness would restore the old Erinhue, she asked tentatively,

"Erinhue, shall I tend to your wounds?" The ancient elf's hands shook upon the horse's mane, her body prepared for flight if Erinhue lunged for her.
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Postby erinhue » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:41 pm

The firm feel of Clarion’s hilt was solid comfort in his hand. Erinhue raised the sword in time to meet the enraged charge of the Berserker. Surprised shock washed over the creatures face as the blade of the enchanted sword pierced deep into its chest.

Flame engulfed the blade and ran from it, up the Bard’s arm and into his own heart. The same alarmed and yet amazed expression came onto his face as the Berserker diminsished, his fiery life force drawn through the blade and on into the Bard. Erinhue tried to drop the sword but the transference held it fast in its position until the Berserker fade away with one last long lingering howl.

That howl was joined and then continues by Erinhue himself as the cold fire walls closed around him and engulfed him and then continued on within. He thought that he too would go mad from the exquisite pain of burning. The fire seared his mind and yet did not consume. A voice that was and was not his spoke gently to him and informed his mind that what needed to be done was indeed done.

Suddenly the unbearable heat went cold but still the fire blazed around him like a second skin of flame. Relieved from the burning pain of intense heat, Erinhue dropped the sword and lifted his left hand to hold it up before his eyes. The flame that covered it was fascinating and for long moments he simple stared at it as it burned.

The place that was and yet was not under went its own transformation as the stars above faded back into view. He was lying on the grass beside the river Anduin. For time out of time he simply lay there staring up into the starlit sky. Clouds passed between the stars in complex patterns that seemed to impart wisdoms without words. Things that he should not know came to him and he became aware of much that he would later comprehend.

This otherworld awareness told him someone had approached and come to sit beside him at safe distance. He paid no attention until the slightest motion caught his eye. He turned his head to gaze into another pair of eyes, ancient eyes that yet held youthful appearance and he knew that he was looking at an elf.

The elf became aware of his cognizant regard. She leaned forward slightly and spoke to him. The words came to his ears like music on the wind.

"Erinhue, shall I tend to your wounds?"

That was his name in this world he suddenly remembered and just as suddenly he knew hers. His butter baritone spoke with the slightest hint of echo and a weakened version of his starbright grin pulled at his lips.

“That’d be right kindly of ya, Tinu, darlin’. It seems that at the moment I can’t move.”
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby TinuvielUndomiel » Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:16 pm

"That'd be right kindly of ya, Tinu, darlin'. It seems that at the moment I can't move."

And suddenly, Tinu knew that all was right with the world again, at least in this desolate little haven by the Anduin. That brilliant grin, the kind sea-grey eyes that twinkled not only with the newly-revealed moonlight but also with his own inner fire, the unbroken deep tone of his voice--all reassured her that this was Erinhue, no otherworldly creature. And yet...there was something new in his easy-going demeanor.

Shaking this thought off, she dismounted and searched her leather satchel for some healing herbs, ointments, and strips of cloth. Aerin had fully stocked her bag, knowing well that with so many in the search party, there were bound to be injuries, some serious, on this journey.

As Tinu carefully laid the supplies upon the rocky ground, she wondered how Aerin fared back in the charred remains of the Lucky Fortune Inn. Did she wonder why her husband had not returned, or did she--with her strong elven intuition--expect this battle to take her love for an extended period? How hard was it for Aerin to continue, to rebuild the old life, without Erinhue? All of these thoughts tempered her own sorrows and reminded the elf that she did not suffer alone.

Instinctively, Tinu moved from her private thoughts to a conversation with the Bard. She was unsure of the severity of his wounds, so it was best to keep him talking as she crushed one herb after another into a salve.

"Are you in any pain? Or is it paralysis only that you suffer?"

Tearing a strip of cloth in half, she dipped one piece in the pure water of the Anduin, wrung it out so that it remained damp but not dripping, and placed a fourth of the salve on a bloody gash upon Erinhue's left shin. She gently wrapped the damp cloth around his calf, pulling it firmly to ensure that the salve would be absorbed more quickly.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:42 pm

Lurea dreamed of goblins chasing a hobbit, his little legs propelling him forward as quickly as they could.

"Morg!" the hobbit screamed, briefly looking back toward the weapon-brandishing threat, his face obscured by darkness. His voice seemed familiar, but she could not place it, at least not within the dream haze. She continued to watch, transfixed by the horror, as one present, but invisible, to the beings in the scene.

One especially disgusting goblin, a creature whose nose oozed blue mucus, lunged forward, scratching at the hobbit's leg, but not stopping the defenseless creature's frantic ascent through the dark tunnel. A moment later, the hobbit stumbled, scratching his elbow on the stone wall at his side. His face, contorted in pain, turned slightly toward Lurea and the dying torch upon the opposite wall.

With a sharp pain in her stomach, she realized that this was no ordinary hobbit that ran for his life--it was her beloved Hobbituk! This must have happened not long before his death, she thought mournfully, turning away for fear of seeing the death, if it were imminent. Her eyes grew blurry...oh, if only she could touch his face and tell him how much she loved him! But, this was only a dream, and she was aware that he could not see her. Yet, the fact that she was cognizant of the dream meant that she was nearly conscious in her stone cell, no longer struggling with the delta wave world that had been driving her mad. While she was still chained mentally, the sorceress elf was rapidly reclaiming her sanity.

Hobbi's small form in the darkness dissolved into a blindingly gold field filled with waving goldenrod, yellow-orange asters, and stalks heavy with ripe wheat. Turning away from the sun that tinged the yellow with gold, Lurea discerned a distant figure, wrapped in a heavy wool cloak much too warm for the early autumn day. The peredhil's dress of blue silk fluttered at her ankles--a dream-dress, she assumed, for she did not own a dress in this shade of periwinkle--and her hair was an unusual shade of brown, which she noted as a lock alighted upon her pale arm like a butterfly.

In this state of lucid dreaming, Lurea knew that she could maneuver around the world as she wished, without threat of harm. Moving closer to the hooded figure, she picked up her skirt and ran down the slight incline that distinguished the hill from the surrounding plain.

The elf stopped just before the lone figure, her hair flying in the strong breeze that had rolled into the valley only moments before. Silence was their other companion for several minutes and then the figure hesitantly removed its hood.

"Lucinthe, I come to you only because all other aid has failed our village. The orcs now attack at night, taking with them our livestock and our livelihood, not to mention the lives of those who resist." The woman bitterly scowled at Lurea, attempting to shield her opposite cheek from the peredhil.

"I am not--" Lurea began, but was immediately interrupted.

"Do not tell me that you cannot help us...when you left the village, the crops withered with your final curse and scores died from starvation. No one cares about your past, about your...indiscretions." The last was spoken smugly, as though she were pleased that Lurea, or whoever the woman thought the elf was, had been caught and tried.

Flashes of moments struck Lurea's mind--a man, fair-haired and blue-eyed, stroking her face with lust in his eyes; an irate wife, thick-waisted and scraggle-haired, shaking her fist at her unfaithful husband's lover; a council of yeomen that condemned a witch to burn; the fire licking at her feet, slowly consuming each toe with exquisite agony.

The problem was, these were not Lurea's memories--they were another's!

She suddenly felt a desperate need for a mirror. Who was she, if not Lurea?

As her panic rose to a crescendo, the other woman continued to speak of the village's woes. Lurea's mind suddenly supplied her with an answer, in a voice she did not recognize as her own:

"I shall come. Nimuen, take me home, back to the stench of death and poverty, of tainted purity and false saintliness. Lead on, wretched woman of broken humanity."

From whence did the name come? Lurea knew not.

Scowling, Nimuen turned and began to head west into the setting sun. As she passed Lurea, the elf was startled by long, deep scars that marred a once-beautiful face, the reason for Nimuen's garb.

Reaching up to her forehead (though she quickly realized it was not her own), she vaguely remembered a jagged scar of her own that stretched from the corner of her eye to her hairline, one caused by her doppelganger--a creature that had mimicked her perfectly.* One thing she did not realize was that the scar had been healed long ago...how could she know when her memories had been stolen?

Sighing, Lurea took a last look at the golden field, whose hues were accentuated by the sunset. Who was this Lucinthe? Why were her own memories hazy and inaccessible, as though kept behind a locked door?

The final question was the most disturbing...if her own memories were not to be recalled, how did she know about the scar?

*Pages 5 and 6 in SB's Challenge for more details of the attack
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Postby prmiller » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:48 pm

Final Journeys

Parm rose from the seat in the Archives, spoke again to the Star Stone,
and the gentle starlight shone out bright enough for him to see easily the stairs ahead, but did not hurt his vision. He pushed the statue of Finrod to one side, for it had slowly slid back to its former position, and then stepped through.

A woman was standing a few footsteps away.
Seeing this gave Parm a bit of a start.
Then he cried out, with alarm, relief, and joy!
"Aravel! You...you are not dead!"

"No," spoke the being that appeared to be Aravel.

Then suddenly there was a shimmering and it was now Annesil...
then another shimmering, and it was Aravel, again.

"The story of the orcs was a cruel story to keep you from
searching for me. My guise of Annesil was necessary, but
hard. How could I leave you...and how could orcs actually gain
mastery over me? I am not a mere elf-maid. Nor am I so foolish as
to put myself in harm's way. You were duped, for the time being,
for it was necessary. You were not permitted to see me, so I
appeared as I have done before, in another guise. That, my dear
Parm, is why I am no mere elf-maid."

"But...I...never...."
"Knew? No one, outside of a very select circle would know, or
could know. Today, however, all things must change."
"I saw you in dreams...with black feathers trailing you...from the Crebain."
"A warning of danger in your mind. You are about to embark on a dangerous journey."
"Yes. I am off to recover Arahn and recruit him for a quest of
considerable danger, but also incalculable reward!"

Parm was still shaking from both dismay and relief at seeing
Aravel alive...but also of knowing who Annesil truly was,
for that was the form she had taken again.

"You will go to the Moor, then, Parm"
"Yes, Aravel. I.. I... must."
"For...him?"
"For our son."
"You believe he can be...restored?"
"Yes. He is not as Numenor...utterly buried.
He is, however, lost."
"Not lost to us."
"No. He has lost his way, far from the light,
but it is, to him, I believe, as a star is to us in the night sky."
"You will draw him back?"
"Yes. I need him, and his youthful strength and skills."
"Your skills are beyond his."
"Yes, but conjoined, even we two alone would have given the Dark Lord pause
for concern."
"Hubris."
"Fact. At the judging council, Arahn confessed far more than what you may know.
He took upon himself ...skills ... which the Elves in the First Age feared to reveal to future generations. Instead, the palantir came to us."
"With him, then, you can be strong."
"Without him, I am strong. I can be bested, in time,
but not easily. With him, we are formidable, though not as Valar."

The woman was silent for a brief moment. She looked down, smoothed out her
gown with her long, delicate hands, then when she looked up. She was
Aravel once more, and her gaze startled Parm. It was like looking into a storm.

"Find him. He is my son, too."
"I shall, my love."

It was in that brief exchange that Parm felt as if he had seen Galadriel unveiled.
Arahn was also Aravel's child. She had imparted lore and love to him admixed.
Evil has ripped him from her. The mother-strength within her had been roused.

She stepped forward, reached for Parm's left hand and put an odd-looking
crystal into the cup of his hand.
"Do you remember this?"
"It's the...the crystal from Lond Daer. The one that Alfirin had taken from me
and given to Nessamelda to keep me from being seduced by ancient magic snares."

"Yes, but when she came and placed it into our hands, we had the skill to remove, its poisons and its true powers have been restored to it. This is an ancient treasure of Numenor. It is a truth stone.

It's light shows what is, not what may appear to be. A cup of water will glow
if there is poison, a mist will hang over drugged food, a doorway will shine
should there be danger beyond it or even in it. It cannot tell you what is the lie,
only that there is a lie, for example, darkening a face that seems charming, but is not to be trusted."

Even as she held it, Parm saw that Aravel's face was shimmering, for she
had been using her elf-craft to weave the form of Annesil around her so that
if others had wandered by their meeting place, it would be Annesil, and not
Aravel they were seeing.

"I can see it's power at work now."
"Yes. We are just as submissive to its power as any creature."

"How do I use it without drawing attention to others that it is being used."

"This is the beauty of the stone: it knows that the one holding it needs the
secrets, so it will only reveal them to the one holding the stone, and be bent to the will of no other. Use this special locket to hold it. To others it will look as though you bear an Elf-gift of adornment, nothing more."

Parm took the stone and the pendant, setting the stone inside. Then, with
Aravel's help, he put on the pendant, and hid it beneath the folds of his robe.

"Why are you helping me like this, when all others spurned me at the council?
You left me...and then...that story... . What was I to believe?"

"I had deceived myself into thinking that it was you who had caused this evil to
come upon Arahn. Others, wiser than I, have drawn me back into the light again.
I realized, then, that you would never, nor could ever, do any harm...not any.
That is both your tremendous strength ... and a weakness that others can exploit,
if they dare. As for the story...I hope you will forgive me...as I have forgiven you."

"Yes." Parm paused, profoundly conflicted. "I...I forgive you."
"Thank you, my beautiful bard."

Parm looked down, then looked up and gazed deeply into Aravel's eyes.
"I love Arahn."
"I know that...now."

"May I expect more aid from you...or deceptions?"
"Each step of the way, I will give you what aid I can, though I cannot join you.
I cannot promise any lack of deceit, for it may be necessary for us both. I am, as you know, however, forbidden to leave Imladris with you, for you are to be exiled. However, I can, as we elves often do, journey out here and there. If my path should take me to Osgiliath, then, well...how... lovely.
'Oh look!' I may say 'There is Parm!' " She spoke breezily.

"You are beginning to act like the bargain hunters of Bree."
"Where do you think they learned their skills?" Aravel smiled and a soft chuckle
momentarily filled their air with sweetness.

"The stone can also call me and I will be able to enter both thought and dream,
for that is my legacy, being elf-kind," Aravel continued.

"I will leave for the Moor tomorrow," Parm declared.
"No, you have been readied to leave in the hour."
"It will nearly be night by then."
"Have you ever had fears in the forests around Rivendell before?
"No. Not ever."
"The same swath of safety will follow you to the Moor."

The hour passed more swiftly than what Parm had ever experienced from any time
event. He traveled with his staff, his special pouch that produced what was needed
when he spoke to it about his need, and was cloaked in his grey-white gown, filled
with pockets inside that help flints and special bits of parchment, a traveling writing kit, and a dagger.

Aravis as Annesil had superintended the collecting of Parm's things, commanding them to be sent along with designated couriers, who would meet a "hand" (five guards from Osgiliath) who would be responsible for getting Parm's things to his
new apartments in Osgiliath, near the guildhall of the parchment makers. Again
Aravis spoke.

"Parm. Do not challenge my advice, but I will submit to your decisions if occasions
demand it. I know much of the lore of ages past, but you will be opening your mind to more than I have ever known and releasing our son to a new life, but one
of constant and bitter memory. Be prepared for the consequences of that."

"My love." Parm took Aravel in his arms, and enjoyed the beauty of that kind of
love that years of companionship can create. Their embrace and the kiss was long, but at last both pulled away, knowing what lay ahead.

Parm strolled down to the main gate, and turning right, for left was to ... that other place... found the path that would take him up behind Rivendell and onto the Great Moor. The silence of the forest was as comforting as the quiet of slumber.
Parm stood at the bottom of a stone staircase that had been made in ages past
to aid those who wished to reach the Great Moor, to commune upon its broad
and open face.

He put his Star Stone into a special cup near the tip of his staff, sang a soft song,
and this time a warm, yellow glow suffused about him.

He found a stone bench used for resting and meditation, sat upon it and rested his
staff into a cleverly-prepared niche near the bench. He hands, now free, he
folded upon his lap. He closed his eyes, allowing the eyes of his mind to open
next. He was ready.

"Leonir. Leonir... .
I have come.
I am Parm, father of Arahn,
of Imladris."
Last edited by prmiller on Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:52 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sat Aug 08, 2009 12:42 am

Hobbi staggered, his shoulder hit the wall of the tunnel and he lost his footing. He rolled over onto his back to better witness the inevitable death that would come when the Goblins reached him. A matter of seconds only.

He then saw a huge shadow fly above him, heading downwards. Morg had arrived. Hobbi heard a painful crunch as Morg’s blade crushed the skull of the first. He heard a whelp as another had it’s neck twisted until it snapped. Hobbi sat up, just in time to see the Uruk… his strange companion… deal with the two remaining creatures. He gripped each by the top of their scaly heads and with only a small grunt to betray the exertion involved he slammed them together. All four goblins now lay upon the stairs, utterly motionless.

Morg lifted his head and glared at Hobbi. His eyes were bestial, mad and full of anger. The hobbit had almost forgotten who he was travelling with… a creature full of unrepentant evil. Yet he was still not afraid of him. All of a sudden he was stricken with a thought, not a disembodied voice like before, but a notion which appeared to come from his gut, his instinct.

You will need this beast before the end. Trust him.

“Um… thank you.” Hobbi said, once more pulling himself to his feet. The scratch on his ankle caused him to wince when he put weight on it at first, but it wasn’t too painful. He had certainly had worse. Morg only grunted in recognition of the hobbit’s words of gratitude.

“You decided to come then?” Hobbi asked nervously, “You didn’t seem sure of my choice of path before.”

“Pah!” spat Morg, “It was clear this was the right path the moment these wretched cave rats appeared. They’re guarding something…”

The orc knelt down and began examining the bodies. For the first time, Hobbi noticed the smell. Putrid and sour, he gagged in reflex,
“But… but… aren’t they probably just what you say. Cave rats. Hardly important guard material.”

Morg leaned and unfastened something from the belt of one. It glinted in the gloom and Morg seemed pleased with his new prize,

“Cave rats wouldn’t be carrying something like this,” he said, with an unmistakable tone of satisfaction. He held aloft a dagger. Short and flat, yet Hobbi knew it was no goblin blade. It’s hilt was finely crafted, it appeared to be pure gold and there was a small ruby of emerald blue set into the blade itself.

“I recognise this. A Needle of Isengard. A very small kind of magic, designed by my former master.”

“What does it do?” asked Hobbi peering at it the small glittering item held firmly in the Orc’s ugly fist.

“As I said, small magic… but practical. Stab a powerful enemy with this and it will disrupt said power. Only for a few moments, but that is often all that is required. My master used to give these to the little slave grunts in the pit of Isengard. It helped them control the beasts he created.”

“That still doesn’t explain why these creatures would have such a thing? Did they steal it, do you think?”

“No. The power of the Needles only works for puny runts such as these. It is all to do with the balance of power. The more powerful you are, the less this piece of cutlery is of any use. For example, to me this would be exactly what it looks like. A tiny knife. But I shall keep it, it may be worth something.”

Morg stood up and slid it into his belt, he then turned and began walking down the stairs with huge strides, two at a time. Hobbi ran to keep up.
“So, you still haven’t explained…” he panted, “How would these goblins get this…needle?”

Morg didn’t break his stride, “Obviously our host has provided them to certain of his minions. Ones who are guarding something of great power which they need to control. They are guarding your princess, Halfling…”

Hobbi stopped in his tracks. This was it. They had nearly found her.

Morg also stopped, but only because he had reached a door in the tunnel. A door that was a great slab of stone. The orc braced himself against it and heaved. Even with Morg’s great strength, the door moved open only very slowly. Hobbi caught up again,

“Need help?” he asked somewhat wryly. Morg did not respond. With one last almighty push the door swung open and the two unlikely companions saw into the room beyond.

Hobbi saw only one thing. Fastened to a rock. A prisoner.

Lurea.
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Postby prmiller » Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:43 am

Final Journeys

Darkness.
Silence.
Then more thunder than a voice.

"Parm."
"Yes, Leonir. Parm."
"What do you wish...Bard?"

There was no malice in the voice, but bemused disdain.
Parm had to weigh his words carefully.
It was still very difficult to use this method of communication.
"To know your mind about..."
"Arahn?" Leonir finished, all trace of disdain gone. It was
almost marvel, that Parm should be so bold.
"Indeed."
"I have great concerns at this time."
"Arahn is mine."
"Your concern or your son?"
"Both."
"Do you not know what is happening around you?
Do you not even see the great wheels at work in which
my will is at work?"
"Should I?"
Now it was Parm's turn to be on the offensive.
"Do you think, Leonir, that there are not other powers at work
to snatch away your trophies? Have you become so enamored
with power that you forget that you are not outside of time?"
"I have no fear of any power thwarting my own."
"In that you have found your greatest weakness... you have no fear."
"You are harassed by it."
"True, but not consumed by, enslaved to it, nor a victim of it."
"...not yet."
"Not ever. The only fear I have is that right reverence for all that is Arda,
for all that has made time and tree, allowed evil and supports good.
You are being allowed, Leonir, to continue your plots, but others are
being directed, guided, and rallied to come against you. I am one of them."
"I still have your son."
"Yes, you have him...but not his heart. That is mine, and in the end,
it is through that that I shall defeat your plans."

Laughter ripped through Parm's head. It was excruciating.
It was a pain he had never known before, and he toppled from
the bench, his eyes watering from this assault.
"You see, even my laughter bests you."
"Pain is not besting, Leonir. It is unfortunate, but not the end,"
Parm gasped, as he struggled to resume his place on the stone
bench, so that he might steady his body and mind.

"Enough." Leonir spoke with finality. "Your son is mine. I do not
think you will ever find him again, at least not what he has given
me."
"Many things I have lost, Leonir, only to find anew. To begin
again, to let the one jewel slip from my grasp so that my hand
might be open to receive the next."
"Poetic, but irrelevant. Arahn has lost all grip on reality."
"Then I will give him a new grip on a new reality."
"Do you know what will happen to him if he remembers?"
"What happens to us all. Remorse. It is that spur which keeps us
away from doing evil again. You have yet to know its sting
because you have yet to know what consequences await you for
your pursuit of inestimable folly."
"You... you dare to lecture me, minstrel?"
"You are in my classroom."
"This is enough. I have more power to crush your mind than
you know."
"Yet you do not do so. Do I amuse you? Tantalize you?"
"You bore me. Like a buzzing bee, you annoy me."
"Yet you do not smack me down. Is it because of the sting
I would give you that would be the beginning of your end?"

In response to this barb, Parm's mind saw a huge maw of fire descend on him.
In response, a bright shaft of light, and a single piercing note of music
burst from him. In a flash, the fiery horror was gone...but also with it
a shrieking growl of frustration.

Parm fell from the bench, drenched in sweat, panting heavily, but
alive and his mind...clear. The Valar had spoken truly: In your greatest
need, the gift shall reveal itself. He carried a shard of Eru's gift of music
and the right to wield the power of light.
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Postby prmiller » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:15 am

Final Journeys

Willum, to the chagrin of friends and family, was off on another journey.
He was his own man. His married friends envied the freedom Willum had
simply take up rucksack and staff, and travel off. Willum secretly envied his
married friends, for they had wives to keep hearth and beds warm after
long cold journeys, sitting with eager eyes to hear of their husbands' adventures.

Willum had only Willum.

He was to go alone, this time.
The letter had been plain enough.

Willum traveled down the now well-protected Great Road to Rivendell.
At different points along the way, there were smaller inns, and special homes
where knights of Gondor stayed, their duties were to travel the roads, protecting
as best as they may, their stretch of highway. It had been the great grandson of
Aragorn who had conceived of this idea. While it had taken a bit of getting used
to, new traditions arose, new phrases like, "As safe as a Gondorian Highway" had
emerged, and even a new uniform had been designed. Many a Hobbit lad had
marvelled at the combination of the Gondorian White Tree crest on the front,
and the beautiful swan wings over it set against an ebony background, but
set on uniform of a rich woodland brown. Their helms were a new design. There
was a nose piece that came down, that was like the head of a swan. Wings were
carved over the head piece that sat comfortably on the head, No spikes or tufts,
but the sides swept around like the wings of a swan. It was both elegant and very
practical.

Two such guards greeting Willum as he left an inn near the new town of Oakhill.
It was, precisely that. A town set near a hill upon which was a stand of beautiful
oak trees. The Highway Guards were well known to be chosen to be both affable
and tough as dragon scales.
"Good day, master Hobbit! And where are headed on this excellent day?"
"I am on business to see the Bard Parm at Rivendell."

One guard was visibly impressed, and whispered a few words briefly to his
companion who nodded, similarly surprised.
"Not that we doubt you, but have you any token for us to support your story?"

Parm had foreseen this exchange, and had already given Willum, a long time ago,
a parchment that bore these words: A deserving and trusted friends carries this.
He answers to the name of Willum." The signature was unmistakable: a silver
leaf with the name Parm written across it.

"I have this," Willum replied, showing the letter.
Again, eyes widened and a knowing nod of recognition resulted in the pair of
horsemen moving aside to let Willum pass.

"Tell the Bard I have a poem or two he might want to see. Good stuff. A story
of the old days of Osgiliath."

"I shall pass on your regards," Willum responded, chuckling to himself at the
audacity of the request. "Good stuff... . Oh, what a laugh that will give Parm!
Good stuff and a story. Oh...ho! " Willum could not help but laugh. It was his
nature to find humor even in the grimmest of things.

By twilight, Willum passed near the town of Three Trolls, so named after the
troll statues that had become quite the attraction in those parts. He stayed at
an inn with a name that had both forboding and intrigue: The Grey Shadows.
The crest was of a horse and rider fashioned in silver, with a dark shadow spreading
around them. Willum shuddered, and then laughed. The rider was clearly a
woman...probably Arwen Evensong, the elf-maid who had traversed these
roads in times past, and was now a part of legend and song.

The inn was splendid! Willum felt as if he had found a second Rivendell. So much
was new, it seemed, and there were all kinds of innovations. Something called
pipes brought in fresh water, and water and wind power moved blades above the
common area to move the air about. Not even the most ardent pipe-smoker
would be wreathed in his own smoke. The food was excellent. Willum was very
fond of fish, and the inn speciality, deep-dish trout pie was superb. The ale was good, but Willum was reluctant to be persuaded that any ale outside of the Shire could be better.

A bath, and then a bit of fruit, cheese, and bread, and Willum was soon ready for
bed. His room, as was to be expected, was on the ground floor, but then, most
of the rooms were. Only a few people went upstairs, and they looked like lordly
folk, or at least wealthy folk.

The inn was long toward the back and was actually was built down the hill,
with some rooms even being almost subterranean...like Hobbit holes.
It was in these that Willum later met traders from Michel Delving or Forlond and even the Grey Havens. Willum's room was level with the ground above, which suited him fine.

He had wanted a view of the stars...and that is certainly what he had. Trees that
shaded the inn did not obscure the windows, and Willum found himself looking
for constellations. He did not know their actual names, but had his own boyhood
names for them, and seeing these familiar shapes helped him to relax and then to drift off into a splendid dreaming sleep.

Willum stayed at the inn for one more day...a day longer than what he should
have done. It had been the trout pie that had done it. This seemingly innocent
delay was nearly the ruin of the entire enterprise. Parm's call to Willum had
not gone unnoticed by darker hearts, ones bent on getting as much treasure as
they dared from Willum, whom they knew to be both a companion and treasure
trove for the well-known Bard of Imladris.

Willum carried things which should have been left at home, but which he kept on himself for both sentiment and possibly, he thought, a greater purpose. One such item was a blue gem. He had found it in Lond Daer, had never told Parm of it, but which had been his own self-claimed reward for "all the work he had done." Foolish Willum did not realize that the gem he carried was one of the most important pieces of treasure belonging to those who had also been the masterminds behind the poisoning of Parm's gem stone of truth: the Order of the Storm, dark
descendants of Numenoreans who had also escaped to the main land of Middle
Earth, and who had kept their dark lineage a closely-guarded and zealously
protected secret.

One of their own, who had worked his way into the heart of Saruman the White, Grima Wormtongue, had nearly jeopardized the existence of the Order to his new "master" Theoden, the King of Rohan. Why else would Saruman have used this creature of cloying darkness? Saruman knew of Grima's lineage, but his true existence was but a suspicion in his mind, a suspicion that had been distracted
away by a new pre-occupation: his new alliance with the Dark Lord of Barad-dur.

The gem had belonged to Grima's father, and was used as the final element in
the work of "changing." Grima had, time and again, longed to travel to the
ruins of Lond Daer to search it out, but it was in the Shire that he met his end,
and the secret died with him, but not the power.

Willum was about to discover that his delay would come at a great price and
bring about a chain of events that would put Parm and he into great peril.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:55 pm

For a moment, Hobbituk hesitated. He knew not what to do now that he had finally found her...it seemed so surreal to be before her again. The last time he had seen her, she was crumpled in Leonir's arms...just before that, she had said her vows and become his wife. How should he approach the woman who was his wife, and yet, the woman he felt that he did not know?

"What are you waiting for, hobbit? Move out of the way!" Morg impatiently pushed past Hobbi, the small shove knocking the hobbit into Lucinthe/Lurea's arm.

At his touch, Lucinthe awoke suddenly, with a gasp. Visions of a great battle filled her mind's eye, blinding her to the hobbit and orc's presence. Four shadowy figures--two impossibly tall mortal men, another mortal man, and one petite figure with bare feet--stood before The Master, their souls linked in a common bond of love and friendship. The Master grew in size as well, but his power was weakened and he could not sustain the strength he had enjoyed before this great union was forged. The rest grew hazy and indefinite before her eyes...she could know no more at this time.

Waking from the vision, she whispered softly to the air, "The evil shall be defeated by four mortals, not one."

Morg stopped tearing at the peredhil's bonds as her velvet words caressed the air, and he gazed down at her pale face. Hobbi was frozen as well...his beloved had spoken.

Blinking rapidly, her eyelashes softly brushing the alabaster skin, Lucinthe sighed. Turning her head toward the hobbit, tears streaming down her cheeks, she weakly murmured, "Hobbi? My dearest? You have come at last...I did not think I could last much longer against Leonir. But you are here now, breaking his spell over me, for his magic is no match for love."

Morg removed the leather shackles over her dainty wrists and she flung her freed arms around the hobbit, sobbing. Fresh blood from her wounded wrists rubbed against Hobbi's clothes, staining them slightly.

"Shh," Hobbi replied, stroking her wavy auburn hair, comforting her in the best way he knew.

"We cannot stay here," Morg reminded them, gesturing with an enormous rock-like hand toward the doorway. "If this princess is worth anything to Leonir, he will be sending someone. He will not let her leave without a fight, if I know him."

Lucinthe attempted to step off from the stone tablet as Hobbi turned toward the door to ascertain whether or not they had been discovered, but her legs gave way and she fell into a heap on the floor.

"Lurea!" he cried, running back to the elf and lifting her from the ground by her dainty waist. She smiled weakly and held onto his shoulders.

"I'm afraid that I'm not quite up to walking, much less running, yet," she said mournfully. "I have grown weak lying upon the stone, as Leonir siphoned my power. The further I move from him, the stronger I shall become...it is his influence that weakens me in this place." She looked up at the cold stone walls and shuddered.

Morg growled. "I guess this means I'll be carrying the princess. You're too small and weak, halfling, to carry your own bride for long."

"Hey!" protested Hobbituk. "I can carry Lurea just fine...you don't have to--"

He was interrupted by the distant rumbling of thunder coming from the end of the tunnel, their only way out from the room.

"What was that?" His eyes grew large as he looked at Morg.

"Don't know. But let's not stick around to find out," Morg replied, slinging Lucinthe over his shoulder.

"Don't you dare hurt her!" Hobbi reminded him. "You're much stronger than we are...she may not be able to stand the pressure of your hand holding her."

Morg snorted. "I'd be more worried about that noise ahead of us than your precious princess's safety in my hands."

From far above, flung over the orc's shoulder, Lucinthe tried to soothe the hobbit's fears, "I'm fine, Hobbi. We need to move as quickly as possible, before we are discovered. I can bear some jostling, especially if it means that we can escape more quickly."

The strange group--orc, hobbit, and peredhil--left the icy touch of the stone cell and scurried down the tunnel, upward toward the light.
Last edited by Turelie_Lurea on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:24 am

The groom’s hunt was over.

It was unreal.

His bride was there right in front of him.

Alright, she was being jostled over the shoulder of a monster as he strode back up the stairs, but she was there nevertheless. Her smell, her presence… it was exactly how he had remembered her.

How long had he imagined this moment? How far had he travelled? The perils he had come through, the tortures he had been forced to endure… it seemed all so far away just for a moment.

There was of course the nagging voice of the past. Reminders of Culanir and… the girl. He could deal with that later though. Now all they had to do was escape. Forget Leonir, he could stay here and rot for all Hobbi cared. He would never touch Lurea again.

Hobbi still felt slightly peeved that Morg had insisted on carrying the peredhil. He longed to touch her again, longed to hold her. Even upon Morg’s high shoulder she was almost within his touch and yet the distance between them seemed an enormous gulf. She smiled at him faintly and Hobbi immediately smiled back, forgetting his doubts and concerns. Soon all would be well.

The thunder rumbled once more and snapped Hobbi from his reverie.

“What on earth is that?” he gasped again as they continued upwards.

“As I said, I have no idea,” grumbled Morg, “But, and this just a guess, it‘s probably not a ‘good’ sound…”

“So…” panted Hobbi, “Why is it that we are running directly towards it?”

“If you know another way out of here, tell us quickly. Otherwise we shall meet our fate. I know what mine is. Do you?”

Hobbi had no idea what the Orc meant by this and he was too tired from the exertion of running to question him further. He began to wish that he had at least thought to keep some sort of weapon though. To come so far and fail on the way out would be too heartbreaking to bear. They were close now, so close.



It was daylight. Kutibboh stared at the sky for hours. He watched every cloud… every gull, taking in every detail. Concentrating on these little pointless details in the hope that he could force the reality from his mind. His head ached from when the rock had hit him. His entire body hurt from when he had hit the ground. Eventually, he gave in, gritted his teeth and sat up.

It was real.

Feathers were scattered all around. The grit and stone of the courtyard was covered in them. That and blood. Whose blood it was, Kuti was not altogether certain. Only a few feet away from him the concentration of fallen feathers was at it’s greatest and Kuti realised that this was not merely feathers, but the body of his best friend. Biting back the tears and dread he crawled on his hands and knees to it. He brushed away the loose debris and held in his hands… Nilrem. The falcon he had befriended… oh so many years ago. Now murdered by that pathetic innkeeper…that barman…that Hobbit.

All he had wanted to do was leave. Get away. Pay his penance for his weaknesses in isolation.

He knew he should still do so. Forget about all them all. Leave them all, friend and foe to kill each other. It was no more than they deserved. He stood up, still clasping the stiff lifeless body in his blood stained hands. He paced back towards the courtyard gates with funereal gait. As he passed under the portcullis he turned to the right and saw a promising bed of soil. He wondered briefly it had once been meant for flowers, but if it had, nothing had been tended here for many years. It would suit his purposes though.

Leaning down, he placed Nilrem’s body on the ground gently. He then walked back into the courtyard looking around for some sort of implement suitable for digging… a spade, a shovel…anything. The only thing to be seen was his own sword. Dropped when he had been knocked unconscious. He picked it up weakly and returned to the flower bed. Dropping to his knees he began scraping at the soil with the blade, not caring if it would make it blunt. Eventually he was satisfied with it’s depth.

Kuti picked Nilrem up once more, coolly placed her in the ground and then pulled the dirt back in covering the body. He stood up, his body aching still.

“G…goodbye… old f… friend…” he whispered.

He felt the tears begin to come once more, but they stopped dead when he heard something. Voices. Someone was coming.
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Postby prmiller » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:45 am

Final Journeys

Willum did not expect any visitors, but they came nonetheless.
His room, open to starlight, was also open to thieves.
Unfortunately, for them, Hobbits have excellent hearing and are more
nervous than cats when asleep, being very easily wakened.
These thieves were more than purloiners of pretty things. They were deadly
serious about getting in, getting what was wanted, and getting away.
Willum did not know that his back was so close to the window.
He did not notice that a piece of glass was being expertly removed
from the frame. It was, however, the fine mist that was sprayed into his
room, that keep him from noticing anything.
Mt. Doom could have erupted a fresh, and all Willum would have done would have
been to rub his stomach -- gas, perhaps.

The quiet was not for him, but for the other guests and the proprietors. More
noise than necessary, and all would have been undone.

"Do you have it?" hissed one voice, a sharp, sibilant, tenor voice.
"Quiet." responded a much deeper voice, drawing out the vowels of the word
and ending in a soft pop of the 't'
"The horses are getting restless," a third voice added, a richer, baritone voice.
"I have used words of quieting, but the effect will be short-lived."
"I have it," came the second voice. "Behold." With that, the gloved hand opened and a soft, blue glow pulsed in the cup of the hand.
The first voice snickered malevolently. "He was a fool to bring it."
To this the third voice replied, "How could he have known. Not even we knew
and we are closer to this quest than this lad." There was a pause, then, "Brohna,"
for that was the name of the deeper-voiced thief, "You do not think he will
suspect a switch? The jewel is almost identical. Hobbits are not that keen with
their vision, are they?"
"No, Turven, they are, almost like children, in many ways, however, I see by
look in Arden's eyes, that I may be mistaken."
"Do not forget Brohna," Arden's words in dulcet tones came slowly, "We are not
dealing with just any Hobbit. Parm has trained him and taught him much. This is
why the substitute must be as nearly as close to the original as possible, without,
of course, its obvious power."

The conversation, which would have sounded as rising and falling tones in the wind
to anyone passing by, was one more deception that Arden had created. Arden was descended from a dark family line, another of the families associated with the
secret society of Numenoreans, the Order of the Storm. Brohna and Turven were
both men, of disgraced families of Gondor, those who had sided with Denethor
and had worked with the Steward to keep his grim relationship with a palantir a secret. Brohna and Turven had swiftly left Gondor, and had taken up petty
thievery and grimmer extortion schemes, threatening to expose other disgraced
Gondorian families.

This trio of thieves had been selected by the direct descendent of the leader of the Order of the Storm. No one knew his real name, he was only known by his nickname, "Drum". His voice was hard and deep, and resonate like a great drum.
He spoke little, but his orders were almost never repeated...and if they had been,
the one hearing them a second time, did not live long enough to be given another
responsibility...ever.

Drum had known of Willum's prize from the work of many spies in the Order. His
favorite were the infamous Crebain of Dunland. He also relied on the his arcane
skill of understanding the language of certain night creatures, such as ferrets or
weasels, rats or shrews. Oddly, mice avoided Drum altogether. They were,
however, particularly fond of Parm, and often Parm would find surprises in his
chambers in the morning, and rewarded such kindnesses with honeyed grain
placed in out-of-the way places, so as not to draw the attention of the wardens
of Imladris.

It was through the rats and a very well-placed family of weasels, that Drum had
learned of the "bright blue star" that Willum had come to possess. Drum then
relied on less-than-savory folk, in such places as Westmarch, Midgewater, and
Chetwood.

With the jewel in their bag, the trio was about to slink off to their horses, when
an unintended whinnying of a horse shattered the calm of the night, and the
inn-keeper was wakened.

"What's all this?!" he exclaimed, but before he could take any action, the
thieves had mounted their steeds and gone.

In the morning, Willum was shown the window and it did not take long for him
to surmise what had taken place. Many, however, sighed in considerable relief,
when he reached into his bag, and produced the blue gem. It was a marvel, and
the inn-keeper begged Willum to stay for breakfast and tell the tale. How could
Willum have resisted? It was thus, by this delay, that the stone was well on
its way to hands that lusted for its power again.

During the breakfast, though, Willum was ready to show a trick with the stone.
It was something that Parm had taught him. It was a simple thing, really: a
simple song caused the stone to flicker along with the rhythm:

O little bit of night and day
come leave the stars and come and play.
You shall rejoin them by and by
O little piece of earth and sky.


At first, neither Willum, nor the others noticed anything amiss,
but when Willum began to repeat the song, and the stone's glow
remained steady and unmoved by the rhythm, Willum's face went
ashen.
"It's not the stone," he mumbled, drained of all energy.
"I...I...I must be going!" He blurted out.

Debts settled, belongings pack, Willum nearly sprinted out the door,
to the bewilderment of inn-keeper and guests.

How, how would he explain this to Parm?
What was so important that this stone had to be stolen?

Willum was sick to think of the trouble he had caused, but he was not aware
of the crushing sorrow he was to bear upon learning of the stone's real power
and what a loremaster could do with this stone.

To Willum's delight, and much to the credit of the Highway Patrol, Willum was
allowed to ride with one of the guards to the Ford of Bruinen, but no further.
That was the ancient agreement, and the guards had no wish to upset the
delicate balance of law in Middle Earth on a whim.

Willum, dismounted, found a "mathom" of a carved horse to pass on to the guard,
who, again to the credit of his training understood the nature of the gift. He placed
it to his forehead, bowed deeply, and said, "May the hairs of feet never fall out."
Willum beamed at the blessing, but his face soon darkened anew at the thought
of what he must tell Parm.

Up the steps Willum rushed, and ran into a tall elf-woman. She was the Warden
of the Maiden's Halls, and she stopped Willum from proceeding further. Willum
blurted out his tale, both to the bemusement, and later the uncloaked concern
of the elf-lady. She rushed back inside, and after some time, another elf-lord
appeared.

"Willum. Parm has gone. You may find him out on the Great Moor. Look for
the Garden of Meditation. More than likely he will be there...if anywhere. He
has not set out farther, of that we are certain. Hurry, for I sense Parm is in
need of you."

Willum did not stop for any extra swallow of water or sampling of food. He
passed swiftly through the forest, up the stairs and out on the flat, green
sward of lawn. There, about two-score meters away, lay Parm, unconscious,
but not dead.
Last edited by prmiller on Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Leonir » Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:51 pm

Leonir was having a hard time keeping both the Weatherspeller and her daughter under control. Melda fought his strongest spells, attempting to contact the hobbit whenever his attention was drawn from her. The Weatherspeller struggled against him as well, but her strength was lessened by the idea that her love was dead. At the same time, this thought sapped her power, giving him less from which he could draw. Less power from one meant less power to use against the other. Frustration could not fully express what Leonir felt.

And then, in the midst of this difficulty, he was summoned by the young Arahn's father, Parm of Imladris.

"Leonir. Leonir... .
I have come.
I am Parm, father of Arahn,
of Imladris."

Sighing, he used the majority of his energy to further tie up young Melda's mind, then he turned mentally toward the powerful mortal. Parm could prove to be a useful ally...

"Parm."

"Yes, Leonir. Parm."

"What do you wish...Bard?"

As the conversation progressed, Leonir grew more frustrated. It would not be as easy turning this Bard as converting the son. Arahn had come to him willingly...it was easy to twist his thirst for knowledge into a passion for dark power. But Parm had had a long life, plenty of time to learn wisdom and patience. Breaking through those bonds would take time and energy, neither of which Leonir had at the moment.

He grew tired of the conversation, bitterly regretting that he had not immediately killed several of those who sought to free the Diadronian princess, reducing his load so that he could concentrate more on Parm. Now, many of them were out of his reach, at least, until the Palantir was finally fully sealed...and that would require a minimum of several days, according to the Voice Within.

Speaking of the Voice Within, it had remained strangely quiet as he conversed with Parm. Unusually quiet...which made Leonir wonder if the creature had found another host.

"This is enough. I have more power to crush your mind than
you know."

"Yet you do not do so. Do I amuse you? Tantalize you?" Leonir would have laughed, but he was busily searching his own mind for the Voice. Where could it have gone? He had believed that the Voice could go nowhere without his body, but perhaps it had lied?

"You bore me. Like a buzzing bee, you annoy me."

"Yet you do not smack me down. Is it because of the sting
I would give you that would be the beginning of your end?"

Leonir was ready to end this conversation--he had more important tasks than to discuss Arahn's inevitable fate. But something stilled his mind, keeping the connection open. He felt a sudden malice toward the poet, one that was irrational on his part, but was justified if it had come from another source--a creature of unknown age, of undeniable evil.

With a fury that was beyond speech, this evil reached out from within Leonir, stretching out toward Parm. Even Leonir did not anticipate the incredible strength of this welling of hate, of the creature that felt the barb of Parm's insinuations.

A huge maw of fire erupted from Leonir, against his will. "No!" he yelled to the creature within. "We must wait for the harvesting...do not force him away!" But it was too late--the energy had been released and would fall upon the Bard of Imladris.

The fiery hate never touched the Bard, for a single, pure note of music emanating from Parm shattered it into a thousand pieces of atmosphere.

Leonir was not sure if he felt more ill at the show of Parm's strength and the resulting backlash of energy that still burned his mind or was more smug that the Voice Within had made such a green move.

"You were letting your fury take over," the dark elf chided the Voice.

"Silence, you fool!" the Voice was certainly licking its wounds, like a sore cat.

"If we do not work as one, as a SMART unit, we shall not capture the two Bards and convert them to our bidding," Leonir continued to nag.

"I am warning you, Leonir. I shall crush your puny mind if you speak another word," the Voice growled. Leonir knew better than to continue, but could not prevent a mocking tune from passing through his lips. There were no words, only a deep-throated melody.

"Silence!" shrieked the Voice, who had been scalded by music.

Leonir wiped his bloody nose on a silk handkerchief. It was time to return to repairing the Palantir, so that he could follow Parm and the others. Until then, they would be flying blind...and they could no longer afford that, as Parm had just shown.
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Postby prmiller » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:22 pm

Final Journeys

"Parm!" Willum cried out, racing to his side. "Parm! Parm!" Willum shook the old man's body, not knowing that age had set in much more than he realized. He
felt a popping, of joints unused to the roughness, and a body no longer protected
by the Valar's gift of healing.

"Oh!" Parm awoke, roused more by pain that by a voice. "Willum. Stop! You
are hurting me...badly!"

Like a child, stung by the claws of cat or unintended bee's sting, Willum dropped
Parm heavily on the ground. This was almost as bad, and Parm roughly coughed
from the fall.

"Oh, dear!" Willum gasped, retreating back to that inner child in many Hobbits,
distressed at having caused harm, and fearful of the results.

Parm coughed again, sighed heavily, and managed a weary smile. "It is...good...
to see..." and coughing racked his body again, "to see you...again, Willum."

For awhile both were silent. One recovered energy, the other recovered calm,
but both were surprised to see the condition of the other.

"You've certainly filled out, Willum, and more as a man than as a inn-fixture."
Willum flexed his arm muscle..."This, you mean? Well, it's from the work on my Da's fields. He drives his workers hard, but we benefit, too. This time, I'm a little
more ready for the vagabond we'll meet."

Parm chuckled at Willum's confidence. By the standards of men, Willum was little
more than a wiry boy, but he was certainly tenacious, and few men of low moral
fiber are able to endure long in the face of such tenacity. Parm suddenly became
very still.

"What... what is it?" asked Willum.
"It is but the last rumblings of a storm in my mind. My most recent encounter
with a dark elf, Leonir, exposed me to more than his own powers. I awakened a
most ancient and perilous evil than I had imagined."
"You know this... in your... mind?" exclaimed Willum, both astonished and wary.
"Willum, when we parted, many things happened to me. I lost and gain gifts. I
had my longetivity taken away, but in its place I was given mind-sight. The power
that the palantir of old contained, but also drew on, to allow great minds to...
commune .. with each other." Parm searched for a word that he believed Willum
would understand.
"You're like a living palantir, then."
"Not quite, Willum, but that is close enough ... at least for today."
"I hurried here once I received your message, sir."
"It was well that your hurried, but had you left on the day you claimed, you
would have been here much earlier, I believe."
"That's...true...Master Parm...." Willum's voice trailed off.
"You were delayed?"
"Not...exactly."
"You delayed yourself? Excellent inns, were they?"
"Now, Master Parm, I'm not all bowl and pipe you know!"
"Then...?"
"It was something I carried. Something I thought pretty and wanted to keep..."

Parm felt cold, and suddenly weak.
"You brought ... the stone?"
"Well sir, I brought it, but it was took from me ... by master thieves, no less!"
"It would have taken master thieves to take possession of that stone without
rousing you... unless...."
"Yes, sir. I did not guard it very well. I thought it was only a...a...keepsake
of sorts."

Parm sank back on the bench. When he had regained both composure and
energy, he took Willum's hand drew him near, and like a patient father and
teacher explained all he dared to Willum about what he had carried, what
he had lost, and what it all meant to them. All the while, Parm worked hard
not to overtax, nor overwhelm Willum as to the full extent of the damage that
had taken place. Parm was in more peril than he had dreamed. With that stone
his mind sight and his own gemstone, the star stone were at risk of being turned.
In the wrong hands... Leonir! No wonder he had not ventured any further talking
to him. He was to be turned, like Arahn, but to do that, more was needed than
baubles dangled in front of a child, like Arahn had been seduced.

They had to retrieve the stone...at once! They were at least a full two days
journey away, but Parm had friends and allies...and skills...ones both Leonir
and his thieving brigands knew little of, for if they had, those two would have
been dealt with.

"Willum, we are off to Tharbad. Even now. Is this all you have?"
"Aye, Master Parm. And you?"
"This is all I need. Let us be off...but first... ."

Parm took his staff, set the Star Stone into a crook that seemed designed to hold it,
and sang a new melody to the stone. The stone turned a coppery orange color, and from out of the evening sky, sparrows flew to him. Laying seed before them, Parm allowed the birds to take their fill, then, drawing out a flask of water from within his robes, Parm poured it carefully on the ground. He touched the small pool he had made with his staff, and the water became skill, like clear ice or glass. Within it, Parm showed the sparrows what they must do.

They were not many in number to carry out Parm's bidding as they were now, but they had brothers and sisters along the way, and much could be done by them all. "Delay them." was all that Parm explained. The sparrows chirruped both amusement and glee at being the pixies of perplexity that they could be. Off they flew, chittering giggles on the wind.

Next, Parm became very still, closing his eyes gently. He held the staff out laterally, and drew a circle in the air. The mists were held in this place, and then Parm
began another tune, which he sang into the ground. Willum thought he heard
thunder, but it was the hoofs of both horses and deer. Once again, Parm drew
their attention to the mirror on the grass, and once again the command, "Delay
them" was explained. The sparrows would slow the thieves down, but these
creatures would cause the thieves to change paths altogether, and hopefully to
turn them southward, and along the river...hopefully to the creature, the Watcher of Wastelands, who did not care who ventured near the mouth of its cave, for
all creatures were flesh for its ever-hungry body. It was a grim choice, for Parm
avoided causing the death of any being without cause. However, desperate
situations called for desperate measures, and this was his most desperate choice.

Finally, Parm sat on the bench, and simply whistled a sharp, but melodious note.
A quartet of wolves appeared after some time. "To, you, friend wolves, Radaghast
gave the power of speech to talk to those who bear this stone in his name."
From the folds of his robes, Parm drew out a jet black stone, flecked in gold. It
was in the simple shape of a butterfly. It was the symbol of change, from what
was once humble, to something of honor and beauty.

The wolves extended their front paws, and bowed low to Parm.
"Our master," the largest and oldest one spoke, shaping words skillfully with his
tongue, despite the fact that creatures such as these were not made for speech.
"I have a grim, but necessary errand for you." Parm carefully explained to the
wolves what he needed. There was no look of either alarm nor disdain, but a
profoundly grave look of understanding and sorrow.
"So, that is why, friend wolves, I need your aid. If the stone is lost, more than
just my world is in peril, but your own as well, for there are fewer and fewer
among the sons of men who are wise enough at present to take care of your
worlds."
"We go." The larger wolf spoke. Between them, came sounds of sharp barking,
and growling, but that was all. As swiftly and as silently as they came, they
also left.

"Now, friend, Willum," Parm sighed as he rose, "we are ready at last."

Willum gazed at Parm with unmasked awe. It was as if each of the Istari had
left their gifts with him. Willum was not far from the truth, but little did he
know the cost that Parm was bearing in his body, even as they spoke. Arahn
had to be found, healed, and strengthened. Parm was not long on this earth.
Last edited by prmiller on Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:24 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby erinhue » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:57 pm

“Are you in any pain?”

The question seemed to comefrom a great distance. The elf, Tinuviel, was bent over his body on the banks of the Anduin river, but part of his mind, part of his spirit was in a dark place far away. He knew that Hobbituk was near and Lurea and something else, something cold but it was not part of the presence that concerned him.

Dark and disembodied it was in control of another, one weaker than itself, one who balked at its mastery but had no choice but to obey, for now. This powerful malevolence was something he had confronted once before and thought it vanquished. It had returned if indeed it had been ever been expunged. This cognizant malice lay at the root of all the tribulations that now besieged his friends

There were other consciousnesses on the edges of his awareness. Two were also far away and one of these was in great distress.

Parm.

The name leapt into his mind on wings of refreshed memory. The Bard of Imladris was changed in something of the way that he himself was now transformed. He sought to lend new vigor to what he perceived to be a comrade. The disappointing effort met with limited success and it cost him a steep price.

“Erinhue!” Tinuviel cried out in concern when she saw the bard’s face contort in pain.

“Not ta worry, darlin’” Erinhue tried his best to keep the pain out of his voice. “ I’m right as rain, or will be once the embers of Mt Doom in my chest are put out. There’s that and the fact that I can’t feel my sword arm.”

Tinuviel noted a glistening in his sea grey eyes that had nothing to do with his weak attempt at mirth. She opened his shirt and gasped. What looked like a brand in the shape of tongues of flame blazed red upon his skin. Her fingers strayed towards it but she drew back from the heat. This is beyond my skill she thought as her concern deepened.

From back in her long memory a voice spoke calmly to her, the voice of an old teacher now gone across the sea. “Child, the simplest healing is often the one that’s wanted.” Tinuviel smiled at the fond memory and followed the sage advice.

She took a small leather pouch from her bag of remedies and carefully emptied the contents onto the surface of the bag. Moving quickly she went to the river and dipped out some of the water. It leaked through the stitching but there would be more than enough left to serve her purpose.

“Hue’ I’m sorry, but I think this is going to hurt.” Tinuviel’s voice was full of her apology and Erinhue smiled in an attempt to make her feel better.

“It can’t be worse than burning alive from the inside out.”

She nodded and held the pouch over the glowing brand. Whispering a prayer for healing, she let the water spill out onto the bard’s chest. They both gasped in shock as hissing steam rose up from his skin but the heat and heated glow quickly damped out.

Erinhue had turned his head away so that she could not see his face. He turned away again when she moved to take a look at his left arm. It looked to be coated in light grey ash. The hilt of his steaming sword was still gripped in his hand.

Tinuviel knew enough about Clarion to be afraid to touch it. Holding her breath to steady her own hand she cautiously plucked at his fingers, one by one and pulled them from the sword hilt. When she at last had his hand opened, the broadsword disappeared.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby prmiller » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:03 am

Final Journeys

Arahn's prison was far more comfortable to normal-minded folk, who would have
marveled at how well-appointed his chambers were, and how clean sheets and
nutritious food was provided daily. That is...for normal-minded folk. In Arahn's
eyes he was in a cell, not chained, but allowed to roam free in the moldy,
oddly-lit room, where his bodily needs were met with barely edible food and
unmentionable facilities.

A guard would come in and toss water on him, while he sat in his chair. In truth,
a manservant would remove most of Arahn's clothing and use warm water, lightly
scented and soaped, to bathe him as needed. New clothing was laid on his
bed...which to Arahn was a mattress of straw upon rickety boards stretched
across slabs of stone.

It was the most ingenious of enchantments, provided Arahn drank the water,
which he did, in copious amounts.

Then the most insidious, but diabolical part. Arahn had a torturer, who did not
touch his body at all, but invaded his mind, inflicting nightmarish visions upon him,
until, screaming, Arahn would fall into unconsciousness, which happened often.

When lucid, Arahn was led to believe that he was in an enchanted room. That the
beautiful things he saw were illusions, that the food was not tasty, that the bed
was not soft, and that the furniture and decorations on the walls were all deceits.
To be set free from these torments, he must keep on drinking the water.

Only once, did something happen that left the smallest shard of doubt in his mind.
Arahn looked out his window and saw a horseman ride past. The rider was not
someone from any dream, but an old tutor he had once had, who, when there had
been a border skirmish near Rhun, had been called to help lead an attack, and had
not returned since, but was called to other duties. It was the briefest of images,
but one that stayed in Arahn's mind, unsensed by his jailers.

This tiny doubt sometimes pricked and poked Arahn's soul, but it was overwhelmed
by what Arahn believed to be his present reality: a prisoner in the lowest holding
cells of Orthanc. In truth, he was in a cottage nearby, because he was needed to
be kept healthy and strong, but mentally brutalized, until such time as he was
needed for darker purposes.

His heart, however, was still embittered toward his father, Parm, and those
emotional weapons were honed and preserved until they would be called upon
to the needs of those who were controlling Arahn. The lad had not idea at all
as to the degree to which his study in the darker arts of the Second Age had been
developed in him. If he had been tutored aright, the Voice guiding Leonir would
have abandoned any hope of turning the boy to convert his own father However,
Arahn's naivete, his unfamiliarity with this broader world of super-nature, which
was a easy to manipulate for some as hoes in the hands of Hobbits or spears
in the hands of Rohirrim. Arahn, however, did have one quality that had not be
altogether warped to darker purposes, for in the deepest abysses of his soul, he
loved his father, and yearned to please him. It was this misguided love that had
gone afoul, and it's fatal flaw exploited by minds unmoved by love or uninterested
in mercy.

Aravel knew, however, and her guise as Annesil was critical for the plans of
both and those warriors being assembled in clandestine manners to fall upon the
ones who had robbed her of her son and had tormented her husband. Using a
little-known, but strongly-discouraged skill, she wrapped her mind around Arahn's
and planted these words in his mind, "Doubt it all." That was all. It was all she
do, for her footprints in Arahn's mind she did not want to be seen.


Tinula and Valaniel were not lost. They, too, were playing their part in a great
gathering of powers, but all must be kept as it appeared. Parm had to believe that
all that had been precious to him was lost. Even the discovery of Aravel as Annesil
was a breathtaking risk, but Parm, too, had sanctuaries in his mind where he kept
precious memories, and if Orthanc and Barad-dur had been formidable fortresses,
mental Keep was well beyond assailing. That, too, had been one of the Valarian
gifts.

As night fell, Arahn shuddered as he wrapped his blanket around himself, and
on the loaf left in the pewter bowl, and nibbled away at the bit of chicken that
had been given to him, on a bone the size of his smallest finger. However,
when he reached for the flagon of water to wash down his food, he clumsily
spilled all over the prison floor. It would been some time before the guards
would return for the flagon and bowl, and Arahn felt thirst rising in him.

Gradually, he felt the cold of the chamber leave him, saw his blanket shiver
into a cleverly-stitched quilt, and saw tapestries appear on the wooden-walled
chamber that replaced the moldy stone. Then a sudden thought..."Doubt it all."
Arahn feared he had succumbed to the tormenting visions, and closed his eyes,
burying himself into his comfortable bed hoping for the guards to return earlier.
He felt himself shiver and drifted off to sleep.
Variations on a theme: winter here in Calgary...and elsewhere?

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I am Parm: Servant of Eru, Bard of Imladris

 
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Postby prmiller » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:33 am

Final Journeys

To any other pilgrim, the sight of Parm and Willum together would have been
charmingly whimsical. Were they grandfather and grandson? An eager elf-child
aiding an elder? To find out that they were traveling companions raised as many
questions as eyebrows.

Over the years, small settlements along the Bruinen or Loudwater, had sprung up.
Most of the settlements were groups of families who had fled Dunland during the
Last War of the Ring. Some were more prosperous than others, owing to the kinds
of leaders in each village, but none of them were unfriendly to the arrival of Parm
and Willum. One particular town, called Loudwater Landing, was like a glint of
gold-leaf on a well-scribed parchment. It enjoyed boat traffic from the Last Bridge
and other villages that had started out from braver folk who had originated in
Bree or even Oakhill.

Loudwater Landing was a trading town, near the confluence of the Bruinen and
Mithheithel River or the Hoarwell River, but unlike other trading towns, it boasted
an academy of knightly arts and a scriptorium. Two knights of Belfalas had begun
it and had drawn in other knight families to develop a kind of training school for
future protectors of the realm. The scriptorium, a brilliant idea in the minds of
many in Loudwater Landing, helped young people to learn the ancient languages
and tongues of Elves and Dwarves and even the Ents. Parm was eager to meet the
headmaster of the scriptorium and see the work they were developing. They had
discovered a way to make letters out of wood and the first steps toward printing
were underway.

The homes were well built, using strong oakwood shipped down from Oakhill, and
a lumbermill and other secondary industries had arisen to give Loudwater a
steady income without the same ruination that had caused the downfall of Orthanc.
Dairy farms had arisen on the outlying areas, for the grass there was plentiful and
Willum nodded approvingly at the cleverness of the farmers in the way that they
had constructed their barns and fields to create excellent farms. It was these that
Willum wished to see more closely, so when that when the pair of travelers arrived
at the eponymous "Loudwater Landing Inn" they held their mugs and almost
simultaneously began..."I think I'd like to see...", stopped and then laughed.

"Please. You first, Willum." Parm responded.
"Master Parm, I have always wanted to see these dairy farms that we folk in
the Shire say are like a farmer's Minas Tirith."
"That is high praise, indeed!" Parm exclaimed.
"Their good farms, sir!"
"Well, I would like to see the academy and the scriptorium, particularly the
scriptorium. I have heard about it and wished to see if the rumors are true."
"Then it seems that our day's tasks are clear for tomorrow, then, sir," Willum
noted, with a sagacious voice, causing Parm's eyes to crinkle from amusement.
"Spoken like a true Lord Mayor," Parm chuckled.
"Well...it's not hard to imitate a man you see almost daily." Willum also chuckled,
but less softly than Parm.
Suddenly, a shadow fell over the pair. It was the innkeeper. He was an astonishing
thin man, almost belying the prosperity that the inn seemed to enjoy.
"Am I addressing the Bard of Imladris?" The innkeeper's voice was a gentle
baritone, but edged with awe.
"I am."
"Sir, your reputation precedes you. When you were about a half-day's journey
away, some of our dairy lads saw you, and passed the news along about your
arrival. Your last quest passing through this region did not pass unnoticed. I would
not say we have bards regaling your tales, but you have inspired a saying here
in Loudwater Landing: 'Not all warriors carry swords', which means that brave
people do not always protect themselves like regular people do."

Parm felt the corners of his cheeks glow from embarrassment, but was profoundly
moved by the earnest praise of the innkeeper. "How may I help you, then, good
innkeeper?"
"Well, the question we're all asking is, 'What brings the Bard here now?'".
"I am in pursuit of some men who have taken something of great value."
Parm decided to tell the bald truth to this man, who carried an air about him of
unvarnished honesty and trustworthiness. His eyes, clear and unshadowed, had
a look about them of a man who hears much, but divulges little until needed.

"A trio of men, sir?"
"You think you have seen them?
"Not really think, sir. The town was abuzz when they left, and greatly relieved.
They had a darkness about them that was reminiscent of the old tales of the
Nazgul....".
"Do not use that word so lightly, sir!" Parm warned, his tone similar to that of
a father chiding a son.
"They had this ugly laugh, and boasted that had they not been so harassed on
their way along, they would have finished their business days ago."
"Where are they now?"
"They've left the town, but not our lands. They're camped not far from here. In
fact, they are very near the place of your famous battle with some monster."
Parm felt himself weaken, but revived when another thought strode into his
mind to remind him that he was not the same timid troubadour who had left
Rivendell years earlier. He carried more craft and cunning than ever. He was
ready for the dangers, whatever they might prove to be.
"What keeps them here?"
"It's those wolves, Master Parm! They seem bent on keeping the hunters at
bay. Then there are all sorts of other wonders...birds that circle their path
and drive them back to the camp. Some have even said the cows block their
way and frustrate all their paths out of here." The innkeeper laughed at his own
humor, while Parm looked at him calmly, slightly sharing the bemusement of
the innkeeper.
"Oh...and aren't I the addlepated ninny!" exclaimed the innkeeper. "I am Harath.
Harath of the House of Harath in Osgiliath."
"Osgiliath!" Parm's eyebrows raised as did his tone. "How is it that you are here?"
"Oh, I am no artisan or musician or scholar. My skills are best seen in running
an inn, to be honest, sir."
"Well, you seem to have found the right soil for your own destiny, my young
Nimloth the Fair."
It was the innkeeper's turn to blush, and he muttered something about being far
beneath such praise, but thank you just the same.

For some reason, Willum's gaze around the inn fastened on a pair of men who
were sitting in a place that seemed shaded and mysterious. Their blond hair and
bright blue eyes did little to brighten up the darkness of their hearts. They seemed
less and less happy about seeing Parm and even less that he was being given
news that concerned business about which they had had some interest.

Willum asked for a scrap of parchment from Parm, and a charcoal.
While Parm spoke, Willum used a talent that Parm did not know he possessed:
Willum liked to draw, and often did so surreptiously, particularly caricatures.
However, this time, it was necessary to be accurate. Willum did not need to glance
up. He already had the faces in mind. When he had finished, he pushed to paper
to Parm, awaiting his reaction. Parm's eyes widened. These were the same men
from whom Willum had escaped months both and whom Parm had attacked in
the wilderness. Danger was closer than what they had expected.
Variations on a theme: winter here in Calgary...and elsewhere?

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I am Parm: Servant of Eru, Bard of Imladris

 
Posts: 7241
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2002 8:04 am
Location: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
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Postby prmiller » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:47 pm

Final Journeys

Arahn was slowly realizing the nature of his grim situation. He was more than
a mere prisoner: he was bait. This fact was growing on him more and more
as he discovered that when he did not eat or drink as quickly as he had before,
that he perceived things far differently than what he had before.

He had once had no interest in speaking, now he found that he began to hum
old songs he had once heard as a child. At one point he even gave voice to
one and as he sang it, the music had a surprising effect on his chambers.
The happier and brighter the song, the more things dimmed and revealed
other aspects. The mirror shimmered and patches of moldy stone could be seen;
the dresser and tables became spectral and he cold see iron rings and rusted
chains attached. At one point he looked at himself and found that his ankles
were bound with bands of metal to which a long chain had been added.

It was no wonder he felt heavy as he walked about the room! He was in chains!
Some enchantment deceived into believing he was in a spacious and
richly-appointed room, but also keep him from even the ability to leave the room.

Once Arahn sang a song of poignant hope that his mother had taught him,
and saw what he wished he had not seen -- he was not alone. Guards were
situated near the door and were not tapestries and pillars of brown marbled
stone. The fact that Arahn had been conscious enough to think of music, and
brave enough to even try, did not go unnoticed. Days later, after Arahn's
shocking discovery, he was served a sumptuous meal...and completely forgot
what he had come to know and lost all interest in walking around his room,
but kept him in a state of constant drowsiness so that he found more comfort
lying down, than standing up. Not all was lost to him, though. A serving maid
would be allowed into his room, and while she was not allowed to waken
Arahn, slipped a small flower deep into the folds of his clothing. It's sweet
aroma, unnoticed by the guards, allowed Arahn to dream, not merely to pass
time in sleep. Every other day, this took place, and soon Arahn was finding
he was no longer in a state of vacuity, but mild content.

One particular day, the servant girl did something that nearly upset all the plans
that had sent her there in the first place. She had been given a tablet which she
was to put into Arahn's goblet of water. In her eagerness to this surreptitiously,
he had momentarily forgotten that the guards could see much, though not all.
The tablet had made a perceptible 'plop' and one guard abruptly spoke.

"What was that, eh?"
"Oh, simply a cleaning stone to scrape away the inner rim of the goblet,"
replied the maid.
"Never seen that 'afore."
"Well, how often do you go to the scullery and watch us work?" she answered.
"Ah...well, not'all. 's true. Clever folks you pot scrapers and dish wipers." he
laughed with a deep phlegmy chuckle, pleased that he had gotten a joke in
at another's expense.
The maid grimaced at the wit, and replied, "Well, we try."
"Best be leavin' now, I'd should think, eh?"
"As soon as the stone has done its duties."
"Oh...right, then."

The maid watch the tablet dissolved, and then, deftly, found a small pebble she
had previously extracted from her sandal, and as she walked past the guard,
let him peer at it.
"Don't look all that special. Just some pebble."
"Ah, well, I don't expect a guard to concern himself with kitchenware, then, eh?"

With a garumph and grumble, the guard ushered the maid out of the door.
"Too bad she's a ugly as a toad," the guard muttered, "or I'd be tempted to
leave her with more than grease marks."

As soon as the maid had left Arahn's chambers, a transformation took place.
The kerchief covering the curly blonde locks was unbound, the dab of rouge
on the lips and cheeks was wiped off, and as the covering apron was removed,
a bodice as well was carefully lifted away and laid aside.

It was not a maid at all, but a young boy, of obvious Rohhiric heritage.
He was the great great grandson of Eomer. His name was Eofor the Bright,
named after a relative of ages past. Arahn and he had met long ago, when his
father Parm had travelled to Osgiliath to watch the unveiling of the new
conservatory of art and music...but all that was years ago.

Eofor and Arahn had made impetuous, yet ardent, boyhood pacts to be friends
forever, but Arahn did not know how strongly Eofor felt bound to his oaths.
It was now his turn to take care of his ensnared friend...to the peril of his own life.
Variations on a theme: winter here in Calgary...and elsewhere?

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I am Parm: Servant of Eru, Bard of Imladris

 
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Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2002 8:04 am
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Postby prmiller » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:37 am

Final Journeys

A full year had nearly passed, and Eofor had served Arahn day after day,
month after month, managing through it all to keep his secret hidden from all
prying, inquisitive eyes. Eofor had learned much: duty rosters, herb lore, habits and
weaknesses of Arahn's guards, places one could hide, almost in plain sight,
and most of all, ways to disguise Arahn and himself when the time came to
bring him out of his captivity and back to his father.

The first step was to remove Arahn's charm slowly, almost imperceptibly, but only with results one could observe close up. As Eofor learned how to substitute one kind of sleeping herb for another, he also learned how a simple word, whispered to Arahn, would remain in the deep wells of Arahn's unconsciousness until more could be explained. Eofor also left messages in all sorts of inventive ways. One way was
in the washbasin. He had discovered how he could cover a message with wax,
affix it to the bottom of the washbasin, and remove it again once the message had
been passed on. This was the most brilliant of his methods...until one day,
the fog in Arahn's mind lifted enough for Eofor to do something that was at once
both daring and dangerous: he revealed who he was and how Arahn was a prisoner.

In many ways, Eofor felt as though the Valar themselves had blessed that moment
with their graces, because Arahn understood the message, and was still drowsy
enough to feign the characteristic drowse all the guards had seen month upon month.

However, time was running out for them both: Leonir the dark spirit of this place,
was no longer distracted by other issues, and was beginning to notice things that
caused the tiniest of suspicions to rise in that shadowed mind. Even so, any such suspicions were soon dismissed -- the prison was perfect, all was in place.
For Eofor, however, this was precisely what he had hoped for ... the blindness of
pride: for who chooses to see something when it is believed that there is nothing worth seeing?

Eofor had also fashioned a figure to replace Arahn when the time came for him to
remove Arahn swiftly from his emprisoning chamber. One fateful day, Eofor
knew it was time: the guards were planning to have a special feast to celebrate
the coming of age of their chief guard's son...a boy they had all helped to raise,
as it were, from a tiny strip of a lad to a well-tanned and well-trained warrior.
None feared anything would happen to the drugged Arahn...and this was the
opportunity Eofor had hoped for all those months.

First, a special wakening herb was added to Arahn's morning draught. A message
was left in his washbowl: "Tonight". Guards had completely entrusted the
preparation of Arahn's food into Eofor's keeping. Now he would use all the
skill he had gained to revive Arahn completely, and ready him for a performance
that Eofor had gone over and over in his mind.

All the preparations Eofor had made fell into place. The morning draught revived
Arahn to the point where he could read and understand the message in his
washbowl. The food strengthened him and gave him a restful calm so that he could
sleep, and it would be perceived as stupor.

Despite the brightness of the courtyard, near the prison door, it was but a dim
light, and the feast the guards had planned had begun with a noisy toast and had then begun to shift into that kind of merrymaking where only a massive volley of cannon fire would shake them all from their revelry.

Eofor had saved a bottle of blood to dowse one of Arahn's tunics, and soak a dress the guards had often seen Eofor - "the maid"- wear. A mannequin of Arahn's likeness was secured into the bed...and Arahn and Eofor slipped out into the night, along the side of a wall that shielded them from watchful eyes. Stealthily them
moved out to a special stable where two horses were saddled and waiting. A section of the inner wall of the stable was removed. It was an opening large enough for the two horses and two young men to pass through, and then could be replaced from the inside.

Eofor had discovered that the castle has been constructed by using inner and outer walls. Over the months, Eofor had found a special place that was perfect for his plan: a section of the outer wall that could be removed and through which one
could exit and then move away from the castle without being seen for some
distance away.

It was through that secret way that the boys passed.

All went well.

Arahn and Eofor had left behind their past in a bloodied mess inside Arahn's chamber with a clear message obvious to all: the maid had been harmed in
the struggle to stop Arahn's escape, and someone had kidnapped the lad and
not without bloodshed...perhaps even a mortal wound. By the time it would
be found, they would be hundreds of furlongs away.

It was, as Eofor had hoped, a moonless, cloud-thick night, and only Elf-lord
eyes would have seen them ride off to a road that would take them far from
this place and into friendly lands and protective care.

Arahn had been rescued at last.
Parm would soon be reunited with his long-absent son.[/b]
Variations on a theme: winter here in Calgary...and elsewhere?

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I am Parm: Servant of Eru, Bard of Imladris

 
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Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2002 8:04 am
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