Redemption: The Reckoning

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

Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:50 pm

Bardhwyn rode hard out of Amon Sul, harder than she ought but her horse, Courage, was keen - always keen - to run at a gallop whenever able. Her head ached fiercely and her bruised ribs burned down the left side of her chest and with every strike of Courage’s leading leg it felt as if her spine were jamming itself up into her skull. She marvelled that she was still alive.

A cold drizzle began to fall and with Courage’s speed the the rain lashed into her eyes, mixing with the hot tears she’d been fighting. Bardhwyn eased her horse back to a trot and desperately tried to collect herself. Tears? They were a luxury she couldn’t afford; she didn’t deserve! They were something other women were allowed, not her. Her reasoning failed her and the tears pressed in.

Gavin’s face came to her once again. She remembered his fear, the tears of fright streaming down his scarred and branded face, of him begging her to help him just as the coarse sack was dropped over his head followed by the rope. He was sixteen and branded a traitor because he had deserted and deserted because he was lured into the army at too young an age with empty promises of coin and glory. He came to Clan Harlond as so many had; out of desperation.

He never once said her name. He could have easily betrayed her but he didn’t. Gavin died keeping her secret.

She looked down at the thick, black satchel that hung at her hip; inside it a mine of information - a treasure trove! Maps, plans, rosters, letters. Had Gavin called her by name the same mob would have descended upon her, she would have never discovered the assasin’s den - for that is what these black clad men were, assasins - they were too skilled and too dangerous to be mere soldiers - she would have never found these documents and come to understand what had to happen next.

If it were not for Gavin, Bardhwyn would have never woken up.

If it weren't for Calmacil and his half-brother, Cyrion, Bardhwyn would never had survived. They were safe and alive, however, back in Amon Sul ...

“Thank you,” she breathed, blinking up to the grey, drizzled sky. "Thank you all..."

More of the cold rain mixed with hot tears. She buried her face into her red, cold hands and sobbed, resisting the urge to crumple over and succumb to the press of the memories that threatened to overwhelm her: memories of the last few days jostled with the reclaimed memories of the past several weeks - of Calmacil and Cyrion taking her on, keeping her safe, of squabbling over her, of them fighting and lying for her.

The recollections of the generosity she had met followed, memories of strangers giving with open hands and hearts. There were older memories, too, of running, of hiding and of the bitterest hunger she could ever remember. The oldest memory was one of being pushed into her saddle by Thar, who she could barely see for the blood that streamed into her eyes; her blood. "Ride, hard! Go! Get out of here!" he yelled, slapping Courage into a run with the flat of his sword. He could well be dead, now.

Most frightening of all, however, was her recollection of the horror that came with the not-knowing; not knowing who she was or where she came from. Not knowing the places she wandered or the people she met. She had been empty, flat, devoid of a sense meaning and purpose and that terror still hovered about her, like a shadow that threatened to descend and attach itself at any moment. The thought made her shudder. What surprised her more, however, was seeing into the dark part of her heart that wished the oblivion would return and take her; all black and bottomless.

She howled, long and loud, her voice careening and ricocheting among the young trees and thick brush of the forest she’d stopped before.

“I WILL NOT BE BROKEN!” she screamed, pumping her curled fist into the sky. “DO YOU HEAR?! NEVER!!” She pressed her hands to her face once again. “I won’t, I can’t, I can’t...” she murmured into her wet palms.

She pulled her hands away, raised her head and breathed in the morning air hoping its freshness would shift the jagged, shattered feeling she was left with.

A fleck of movement caught her eye.

She’d stopped her horse at the top of a small but gradual rise that afforded her a bit of perspective over the landscape; before her a new forest had taken root, behind her lay the gradual decline of scrub and brush land that was east of Amon Sul. She could see there, far in the distance, two riders on horseback traveling fast in her direction and she knew immediately who they were; Calmacil and Cyrion. Where she was going she did not want them to follow - for the sake of their lives.

“Damn Fool Idiots!” she spat. “You have no idea what you're doing...!! Argh!!” She took up the reins to her mount and spoke to him in a language she rarely uttered and using her mount's first name: “Noro Róvan Elethril!! Noro!*”

Courage reared and pawed the air with his hooves before leaping into the full gait of a gallop. Together they sped northeastwards.


*Run hard, Elethril! Run!”
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:18 am

cont..

The small figures of Calmacil and Cyrion became lost behind her, mixed in with the shrubs and young trees in the distance but that didn’t deter Bardhwyn from looking over her shoulder as she rode along. She was intent on losing them, by any means. The path she'd chosen had no byways, no means to turn off however, nor did the forest offer anywhere to hide. Then that familiar pain - the slice of agony that raced down the scar on her face. She was in imminent danger... no choice. she had to keep riding.

The drizzle had turned into a light but constant rain, softening the packed earth of the small trail she followed and soaking her to the skin. Courage ran on but was tiring; he blew hard through his nostrils, his lungs heaved and his hooves sank deeper into the muddy path with each rolling gait.

Suddenly the high, careening buzz of an arrow in flight passed her left ear, followed by another. Warning shots or bad archers? She dropped low in the saddle and willed her horse onward but ahead she saw the path veer to the right and as it did, her line of vision ended. She groaned, knowing what would come next – some sort of trap - but whose? Carnad? Elves? More of those black clad demons? She had to break through, somehow, who ever they were and draw them off in doing so.

She pressed Courage for more speed but he, too, saw the path’s direction and prepared himself to make the turn. Bardhwyn leaned with him, bracing herself for the sudden, sickening feeling of an arrow sinking into her flesh when a voice rang out, high and melodious, as if singing a brief lyric of song into the storm.

Courage faltered, confused by the sound. He tried to stop but slid on the thin film of mud that covered the path. The voice sounded again and Bardhwyn’s mount suddenly found his footing and reared; as she was thrown to the ground she heard and understood the Sindarin words ordering her horse to stop:

Halt! Cease in your striving! Becalm yourself! Give up your rider!


Elves.
Last edited by Bardhwyn on Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:42 pm

cont...


Bardhwyn, muddied and winded, struggled to her feet. Clutching the satchel she pulled her long blade; every muscle in her body rebelled and she could see her sword tip waver in the rain. She was in no shape to fight and they knew it.

She was quickly surrounded by elves; all dressed like Rangers, and a few leveled drawn bows at her, their arrowheads shining slick and bright in the rain. The elves’ drab garments and soaked hair didn’t detract from their fierceness, particularly the one who moved in closer. He wore a bandage on his left thigh and upper left arm and with quick glance she could see several more wounded; they fought in the skirmishing weeks ago and were now, no doubt, one of many search parties out looking for the likes of her.

Bardhwyn heard Courage whinny loudly, clearly distressed, but she dared not take her eyes of the Bold One. The elf that approached barked a few orders in Sindarin; she could just make out what he said: ‘Take hold of him, keep him quiet’. He was clearly in command; his voice and posture confirmed this and all present seemed to hang on his every word. A final neigh from Courage and some coaxing sounds told her they’d managed the task. She kept her blade extended, watching the elf walk within a foot of its tip.

“Well, you’ve given us a merry chase, Barding,” he said in finely accented Westron. “Come now, say something or are you waiting for formal introductions?”

‘Barding’. He knew who she was. She glared at him and waited.

Bardhwyn saw him flash a silent order and six elves set upon her. She managed to parry one sword thrust but that was all; two blows to her left side winded her while two other elves grappled her arms. Both her blade and the satchel fell into the thin mud.

The Leader walked up to her, watching thoughtfully as his elves disarmed her of her short blade and the various knives she’d hid on her person. Taking one of her own knives, the Leader sliced down the right sleeve of her leather coat, from the wrist past her elbow and pulling it back revealed the traitor’s brand – a central letter T surrounded with the letter E in the scripts of the three kindred; men, dwarves and elves. With a damp, gloved finger the Elven leader traced the Elven rune for the letter ‘E’ with an interested grunt.

“T for traitor, which you are, undoubtedly, and E for exiled. You’re hardly that, are you?” he commented. “Your identity is confirmed, you are Bardhwyn, formerly Baroness, of Dale,” he dragged the same damp, gloved finger down the length of the scar on her face, “a scar on the left side, the correct side - you are a wanted criminal.”

He dropped his hand heavily on her shoulder.

“I place my hand upon you and in the name of the High King I place you under arrest. You will be handed over to the King of Dale and I hope, by the grace of the Valar, he finds the wherewithal to hang you by your neck until you are dead.” The elf leaned in closer, dropping his voice to a whisper, “Or shall we save him the trouble and hang you right now?”

It was her worst fear, hanging; it was anyone’s right to exact it upon her if discovered. Her panic rose as the hold on her tightened and she saw two elves move off, as if preparing to follow through on their leader’s threat. She vainly struggled against her captors causing Courage to be come restless once more. He whinnied and neighed, pulling against the hold an elf had on him until he broke free.

Several elves stepped in but none could get close enough to the gelding. Finally the leader went over and managed to take hold of the bridle, speaking directly to Courage with calming tones. To Bardhwyn’s shock Courage became tranquil at his words and stood quietly in the rain, tame and defeated.

“This horse has been Elven trained,” the leader said, walking back to where Bardhwyn stood, pinion between two of his warriors, “tell me you who stole it from?

“The horse is mine!”

“Ah, she has a voice. You didn’t steal it?”

“It was given to me.”

“Given? Who would give you such a horse? Lies fall easily from you. I don’t believe you… clearly this horse was bred in Imladris…” his eyes then darkened and he collected up a fistful of her coat and shirt and jerked her forward, “If I learn you’ve spilled Eldar blood…”

From a tall fir and through the soft patter of the rain came the sound of a shrill but melodious birdcall and the leader’s attention was suddenly turned. He gave a series of rapid orders to a nearby elf before returning his attention to his prisoner.

“Two riders approach, riding hard and one is armed. Friends of yours?”

She replied with silence.

“Lost your tongue now? Who are they?”

She remained silent.

The leader stepped back, releasing his grip on her and gave another of his wordless orders. An elf warrior stepped forward and slapped Bardhwyn hard across the face.

“Who are they?” the leader repeated.

“…Your mother’s beard…”

Another blow was struck, fiercer than the first.

“That’s for mentioning my mother,” the leader said with a smirk. He came in close again, “Do you know who I am, Barding?”

“Should I? You elves all look alike.”

His lip curled and the short jab he delivered to her gut promptly folded her over. Her two captors let her fall onto her knees, and as she gulped and gasped for air she felt her hands roughly twisted and tied behind her back. Taking a handful of her hair, the leader jerked her head up.

“My name is Elrohir, I am the son of Elrond and I set out to find you, wench, and now I have you. I’m going to ask you again – are those two riders your men.”

“No.”

Elrohir growled and motioned at the satchel still lying in the mud. “And what is in there? What were you carrying eastwards? Important documents for the man you serve? And who is that? Who do you serve now? You survived that melee, Barding – ran from it I’ve learned. Maybe you were never loyal to Harlond, maybe you serve Carnad, after all?” Elrohir took hold of Bardhwyn’s chin, pulling her face upwards, into the rain. “He’s dead, you know - Carnad. Tell me, whom do you serve?

‘Like I need to tell you, elf.’

Elrohir, impressed with the woman’s bravado, gave a short laugh but it quickly gave way to a harsh grimace. He took hold of the woman’s throat and squeezed it. “As I said - if I’ve learned you’ve spilled Elven blood no one will stop me exacting justice, no one…”

Another birdcall sounded and horses hooves echoed up and around the bend in. The Elven rangers moved quickly, taking their positions along the small pathway and Elrohir released his hold on Bardhwyn, pushing her around and face down into the mud. He immobilized her by stepping firmly onto the back of her neck with his boot and then drew his blade from its scabbard.

“Don’t struggle, Barding or I’ll hamstring you, I swear it,” Elrohir said quietly.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:04 pm

cont...

Calmacil and Cyrion rounded the bend of the slick, muddy pathway, forced to slow their mounts to a trot both to give them a rest and because the footing was too treacherous. They each wiped the rain from their eyes at the sight of what lay before them: an armed elf standing in the middle of the road with a body underfoot. Gradually more emerged from the brush and thin trees, all armed.

“By the Gods, Cal! Elves!” Cyrion hissed.

“Keep quiet, Cyr.”

“That’s her in the road…”

“Don’t say a word, Cyr.”

“But they have her, Cal, its over…”

“Shut up!” Cal motioned to his ear, hoping to remind his half-brother that elves had superior hearing. Cyr just shrugged, not comprehending Cal’s motions at all.

Two elves stopped directly before them, one held up a warning hand.

“Dismount if you value your lives!”

Calmacil held up his hands, palms outward and Cyr followed. Together they slid off the backs of their mounts.

“Please, we’re here to help,” Calmacil offered, “that’s all – this woman is ill. She’s no threat to anyone, I swear, and she’s not who you think she is. She’s not!” Carefully Calmacil walked forward, toward the elf that stood over Bardhwyn. He slowly reached into his soaked woolen coat and pulled a piece of parchment free. “See here, I have a letter – from the Magistrate in Amon Sul, vouching for her – and requesting her safe passage. Please, just let me take her home.”

Abruptly an elf placed himself between Calmacil and the guardian who, in turn, spoke a few terse words. The elf stepped aside.

The guardian elf spoke: “A letter from the King’s Magistrate? In Amon Sul?”

“Yes, sir. Please, take a look.”

“I most certainly will. No doubt this will clarify everything, Master…?”

“Lieutenant, Lieutenant Calmacil of the Tower Guard, at your service,” he bowed slightly. The intervening elf stepped forward and snatched the now wet parchment from Calmacil’s hand and delivered it to the guardian elf.

“Tower Guard?” the guardian elf asked, taking the offered letter in hand. “You’re out of uniform, Lieutenant.”

“I am on personal recognizance while seeing to … family matters.”

“And who is that?” the elf asked, waving at Cyr.

“My brother Cyrion…

“We are the sons of Lord Colwyn, Earl of Gilrain,” Cyrion interjected, making every effort to sound important. “And you are?”

The intervening elf stepped forward once again, his face clearly betraying his anger. "You’re speaking with Elrohir, son of Elrond, a Prince among the First Born and you will speak only when spoken to; answer questions, not ask them, youngling.”

Cyrion took an unsure step backwards at hearing this, his eyes blown wide with shock. Calmacil was also shook by the revelation but he managed a second, deeper bow in response. Cyrion mimicked him, managing an exaggerated bow he’d practiced for dance classes.

“It’s all right, Eareon,” Elrohir said, “this man is a Viscount and in the sworn service of my brother, Elessar - he may speak directly to me.” Elrohir motioned the two Edain to come forward. “So, Lord Calmacil, Lieutenant of the Tower Guard, and forgive me, young Lord Cyrion, it says here,” Elrohir tapped the parchment, “that you are cousins to his poor creature here, and she goes by the name of Bethellyn. She has suffered the loss of all memory and identity. She also bears an unfortunate likeness to the wanted traitor of Dale, etc, etc,” Elrohir looked down at ‘Bethellyn’ and nodded in agreement. He continued to read aloud. “Please offer all kindness and consideration to this party, etc, etc and please offer them safe passage through all the King’s lands, signed Dralethir, Magistrate, Amon Sul.”

Elrohir nodded and held up the parchment and displayed it to the elves that stood nearby, “Well this is all simple enough, isn’t it?”

Calmacil and Cyrion each smiled, Cyr broadly but Cal more cautiously.

“It’s simple,” Elrohir continued, “because its a pack of lies.”
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:50 am

cont and finis...

Four elves broke off and hemmed Cal and Cyrion closer together; one freed Calmacil’s sword from its scabbard while two more checked the brothers for other weapons. Once checked, Cyrion sidled up next to his brother and grabbed hold of his coat sleeve; Cal silenced him with a quick shake of his head.

“Shall we go through the lies one by one, my lord Calmacil and my lord Cyrion?” Elrohir applied sarcastic emphasis to the word ‘lord’. “Firstly, this woman doesn’t just bear a resemblance to the wanted traitor of Dale, she IS the wanted traitor of Dale. She is called Bardhwyn – not ‘Bethellyn’. Observe. ” Elrohir lifted his boot from his captive’s neck and immediately a stream of abuse came forth in a language that was thick with hard consonants and rolling ‘r’s’. Cal recognized it but didn’t understand it. Cyrion just gaped.

Elrohir tapped the back of the woman’s head with his boot. “Really, Barding!” he said with a sad shake of his head. “Insults in Khuzdul? Your erudition astounds me.” Again, using his boot, he nudged her bound right arm where her shirt and coat sleeve was slit to her elbow. “See the brand of a traitor? A distinct memento from King Bard II – very discreetly burned upon her arm – not the face, which would have been far better really. Not so easy to hide the traitor’s brand when it’s on the face.” Elrohir replaced his boot on the back of Bardhwyn’s neck, forcing her face back down into the mud. Spasmodic coughs wracked her body.

“Shall I continue?” Elrohir asked. Calmacil and Cyrion remained silent, it being a rhetorical question. The elf lord suppressed a grin and continued. “Secondly I know for a fact she has no cousins in Dale or on the Gondorian coast, where you clearly hail from or any where else for that matter.”

Bardhwyn was now choking on the muddy water, struggling against the elf lord’s weight in a bid to breathe. Elrohir kicked her over, forcing her face up and spoke down at her. “All her family is dead. Your father weeps with shame on the steps of Mandos, did you know that Barding? So what did you promise these two? Money? Or are they members of some allied clan who owe you?”


“My lord! Please, listen! She doesn’t know who she is – she genuinely has lost her memory…” Calmacil pleaded.

Elrohir looked up to the man, skeptically. “Really? Is that so? What say you, Barding – lost all recollection of the harpy that you are?” He pulled Bardhwyn up into a sitting position as she spat out bits of mud, blood and bile.

“Who are they, these two ‘cousins’ of yours?” Elrohir asked her. Her coughing turned to rough laughter.

“They’re nobodies,” she croaked, ‘… they’re dupes…I played them.”

“They’re not your cousins?” Elrohir asked with faked concern. He looked to Calmacil and Cyrion as he spoke; interested in the reaction he may illicit.

Cyr broke. “It’s true – we're not her cousins…”

Calmacil’s face flashed with anger. “Cyr!”

Cyrion paid no heed and continued: “She came to us when we stopped at an inn…

Bardhwyn sprung at the boy like a coiled snake. “I am so SICK of hearing your voice, you spoiled BRAT!” Bardhwyn screamed. “I wish you would shut up!” Elrohir pulled her back down onto the muddy ground, her tirade continuing. “I can’t wait to be shot of you – of you both! I was the simple one, was I, you little turd? You two are the real idiots!”

Calmacil placed a hand on Cyr’s arm and squeezed very hard. He desperately wanted his younger brother to keep quiet. “Cyr, please…?”

“She’s mad, Cal. Clearly,” Cyr whispered, his eyes now showing his fear.

Elrohir’s patience was fraying; he was feverish, covered in mud and tired of this game. He placed himself directly in front of the eldest. “Why are you with her! Speak!”

“Go on, tell them” Bardhwyn called up from the mud. She struggled back up into a sitting position, “or I will. These two men are good and loyal subjects of the King, my lord elf, who thought to do a good deed by helping a poor, defenseless woman.” She’d managed to get back onto her knees, “And I, being the vile and disloyal subject, took advantage of them both. I played them like a deck of cards…that’s who they are… they’re dupes! Nobodies…”

“Take hold of her!” Elrohir ordered. Two elves moved in from the perimeter and together dragged Bardhwyn onto her feet like a rag doll.

“A poor defenseless woman,” Elrohir repeated, “that’s rich. They’re not Raisha’s men, then? More of those idle rich peers from the south who like to play bandits?

Bardhwyn laughed. “No, hell no… now that’s rich! These two, Raisha’s men!” She laughed harder, falling against one of the elves that held her. “Did you hear that?” she asked the elf. “ Raisha’s? A couple of goldfish among sharks, they’d be! A tasty meal for Raisha’s men and as for Clan Harlond, these two wouldn’t even be a snack.” She lunged forward once more, and looking at Cyrion she snapped her jaws like some wild beast.

“Clearly this is not a woman who’s lost her memory, or fails to recollect who she is, Lord Calmacil,” Elrohir said dryly. “I think you are one of Raisha’s playboys sent here to help this woman…”

Calmacil could not tear his eyes away from Bardhwyn, who, to him, now appeared like some insane creature, her behavior beyond any of his recollections of her. She had suddenly turned vicious and full of hate; what had happened to the woman who, just one week ago, sat by his side, tearful and frightened?

Calmacil looked upon the elf lord, suddenly aware of what he’d been accused of. “No, no, my lord, I assure you, I am not! My allegiance is to my King. I knew this woman years ago, and on my honor as a Guardsman she didn’t know me when we met again some weeks ago. She didn’t recognize me at all but I did her. I’m sincere in this, my lord; she was lost, frightened, making beds in an inn, not knowing her name or her history. I just wanted to help her… I…I didn’t understand she had come to this…”

“She had us fooled,” Cyr added quietly. “How could we be so stupid?

“Stupid is as stupid does, Lebneck,” Bardhwyn called out, “which suited me just fine - for as long as lasted.”

Cyrion gave a frowning pout. “Lebneck! Cal, she called me a Lebneck!

Elrohir made a motion and Bardhwyn was suddenly silenced with a swift blow to the head. She was then dragged to and draped over her horse.

“That’s better, quieter, yes,” Elrohir commented. He studied the two Edain before him; they were guileless in many ways. Raisha’s men would be more ingratiating, if not oily. “Perhaps for once this witch is telling the truth, it would be rare but not impossible,” he said, “You’ll come with us and you must tell me everything, the entire truth for I, like you, have a duty to the High King and I am acting in his name in this. The just have no need to fear the King’s law; if you are true, truth will bear out.”

Cyrion gave a start where he stood. “Wha..we’re going to Imladris? Now? My things, my artwork!? Everything’s back in our rooms! Cal!?”

Calmacil held up a calming hand to his brother before giving the elf lord another bow. “May we return to Amon Sul, Lord Elrohir, to collect our belongings? We owe the innkeeper and the stable…”

“Under guard, yes. We will wait here for you, so do not delay, we must return to Imladris with all due speed. My Lord Calmacil, Lord Cyrion,” Elrohir returned the bow and walked over to where one of his warriors held the Barding’s possession. Just as he was led away, Calmacil saw the elf lord take the satchel that Bardhwyn had so carefully saved and reclaimed and open it.

“He addressed us properly, Cal! As he ought! What a relief this is over…” Cyrion said wearily.

Cal remained silent, too angry with this brother to speak. He looked to the east, where far in the distance, just above the horizon through a break in the clouds and storm the sky was a blush of red, orange and pink with the dawn. Cal remembered an old sea faring rhyme from his homeland; ‘Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

“It isn’t over, Cyr. I have a feeling that in many ways things are just beginning…”





At Imladris a courier hawk descended wet and noisily upon his perch a few hours later. On its foot a message from Elrohir to Elladan:

‘I have the Barding traitor. We make for home today, expect me late tomorrow. Please inquire Calmacil and Cyrion, sons of Lord Colwyn, Earl of Gilrain, Lebennin, two new guests.

Upon its delivery to the main house Amras took the unopened message tube and dropped it with the other documents, messages and correspondence that had piled up over the weeks on Elladan's desk in his father’s old library. He then returned to the Prince’s side and waited…
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Postby SilverScribe » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:35 pm

. . . meanwhile, back at Imladris . . .



Guilhendar cursed under his breath at every step as he left the Ivy Gardens, damning all Edain to the deepest of Morgoth's hells. He stopped in the kitchens to beg tea and bread from the early rising bakers, then retraced his steps to the Archives to find the Scribe. Surely she knew what her company of ruffians were up to, very little escaped her notice even if she never let on.

But her alcove was deserted, the lamp out and the small desk cleared off. He re-lit the lamp and sat slumped in a chair, sipping the hot tea and realizing that he had absolutely no appetite for the freshly baked bread, as heavenly as it smelled. Rising, he took his mug of tea and began to wander among the shelves and bookcases, trying to order his thoughts and decide whether he should call Garia out on a matter of honour, or just kill the cretin in his sleep. No, Elmissir would never speak to him again, though why his sister was so fond of the man was beyond Guilhendar. Maybe he was like a new puppy and Elmissir was exploring whether it was possible to train an Edain in the more proper ways of the Eldar? Considering his sister's often too-soft heart, it could be a possibility. Guilhendar imagined Garia on a leash and nearly choked on his tea from laughter.

His mood lightened somewhat, he ended up at the large open-sided room of the Master Archivist and was surprised to not find the man anywhere in sight. Then he remembered the time and figured the ancient Archivist was very likely sitting down and tucking into an early breakfast of his own. Guildhendar looked around the walls. With any luck, he thought , there was something more interesting here than dry statistics and records of the various border skirmishes to read as he began to stroll along, idly scanning the shelves.

In a low shelf in one corner, a black-bound leather volume etched in red caught his attention. Taking it out, he carried it to the desk where the light was better but saw, when he laid it down, that it was banded 'round with a heavy metal band, secured with an elven puzzle lock. He instantly wondered what was in the book and more importantly, why it was locked. He put his tea down and bending close, examined the puzzle lock closely, remembering how many of these he and the Scribe had deciphered, originally as an exercise for their minds and eventually as a game.

This was a particularly difficult puzzle, but he had it solved inside the hour. He flipped over the cover and began to leaf through the beautifully scribed pages, some adorned with illustrated capital letters and still others embellished with drawings and flowing borders of vines and flowers. But alas, for all its great beauty, it was yet another volume of history and Guilhendar sighed as he flipped the last quarter of the book over and reached for the back cover to re-close it. A folded sheet of parchment slid free from where it had been jammed between the last two pages and with only a mild curiosity, Guilhendar opened it and picked up his mug to take the last gulps of his tea, now gone cold.

The mug shattered as it hit the stone floor. Guilhendar, all colour drained from his face, re-read what he held again and then once more, his eyes racing over what could not be, what should not be . . .

"Eru be merciful," he whispered.

.
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Postby Frelga » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:58 pm

Some time ago and far to the South...

“Be on your guard once we cross the pass, if I see anyone sleeping I’ll have my gypsy sew their eyes open,” Raisha did not think it too prudent to warn his men yet another time that they would be riding through foreign land. Some of them would think it a good opportunity to let loose- but Dolfe, his infallible right hand, knew which ones those were and had plans to make their trip quite miserable. Raisha let him deal with it, but as he found himself in the stables with a few of the boys, he thought a few words would not hurt. “This is a good saddle, Druna.”

“Knew you’d like it, chief,” the brigand leant out from behind his horse to admire the fruit of his thievery. They could call him a bootlicker for giving to the chief what was rightfully his loot to keep, but the truth was, it was too fancy a seat for Druna’s liking. The stitching ran around it in patterns of birds and leaves- besides that, it was a good saddle that fit well. And Raisha’s favour was too easily lost to sneer at.

“Sarina likes it. She likes the birds. I said, what’s that to you when your folk ride bareback as often as they walk? She growled like a kitten,” Raisha chuckled. “It’s a good saddle. How is the horse riding?”

“Like sitting on feather pillows,” Druna smiled. The horse was his spoil, and none other would touch it. “When are we heading out?”

“I hope to be on the road by the morning after next, but our man is dawdling.” He meant Dolfe, who had ridden out, as he often did, on an errand which required a strong mind and voice, and was late returning. “I think I will take my lady for a ride this evening, the sky is clear and there will be stars out. Let her taste the last of this summer before we ride North to meet the cold.”

“They’ll be ready for you,” Druna nodded to Raisha’s gray and the chestnut that the gypsy rode. Raisha left him to walk the path of lilacs down to the little grove Sarina liked for her quiet days. He paced carefully, hoping for a few moments when he could watch her, and not be seen.

Sarina stood among the slender trees, away from the rough clamor of the brigand camp. The tip of her boot made small crunching noises among the leaves that piled on the ground. Her eyes were on the road that led North. It worried her, that fancy of Raisha's, to meddle in the affairs of other clans, when he had his own kingdom to manage.

At least she would be there with him. Given a free hand, the gypsy would have weighed Raisha down with wards and charms, but her lover prided himself on placing all his trust in himself and none in her hedge-magic as he called it. But she would be there.

From that, her thoughts turned to packing and she wondered if a man's outfit would be wiser. The Barding bandit wench had hinted that pretty clothes would be a dangerous thing among the clans. But no, she was the lover of a brigand chief, and she had to look the part, for his sake. She sighed.

Sarina did not hear Raisha's soft steps, but she knew he was close. The man felt like a torch to her - his heat reached her before the sight of him did. She did not turn around. Let him have the pleasure of surprising her. Instead, she pretended to watch the crow that stabbed its beak into the leaves, searching for something.

The bird startled suddenly, hearing Raisha's steps perhaps, and took to the wing. Two more followed, from where, she did not see. Their cawing, the beating of wings, filled Sarina's ears. North they flew, and the sky grew black as their feathers, and the wind tore at her hair with cold, dead fingers.

The gypsy spun around and ran into Raisha's arms. Her hands were cold as if bathed in icy water as she took his face between her palms, but beads of sweat rolled down her temple.

"Whoa! What's this?" Raisha laughed to see her run like a child, then shivered when she touched him. "Are you ill? You don't look well at all." He pushed her hands away and raised his to feel her burning cheeks. "You are sick, love!"

She was. Her head spun as if a whirlwind had carried her to Raisha. Cold dread twisted around her heart and squeezed it as it fluttered. Worst of all was knowing that all this had happened before. And then she remembered.

"We mustn't go," she gasped. "We must not. Death rides in the North. They are doomed who fight there. We must not go."

Raisha by Rodia
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Postby Bardhwyn » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:53 am

Present day, Imladris at dawn...

Elmissir hurried along the path in the coolness of the early morning, her thoughts a jumble of starlit gardens, herbal mixtures, muddy horses, the scent of night-blooming wildflowers, angry brothers, poultices and elixirs, a certain blond Edain, and half a dozen other things thrown in for good measure. At the entrance of The Last Homely House she stopped, pushed back her cloak, smoothed the front of her clean frock and walked sedately into the vast open foyer. She was met by none other than Amras himself, a look of profound relief flooding the elf’s face as he walked forward to greet her.

“My lady, thank you for coming at such an inconvenient hour,” Amras said. He hastily pressed a delicately embroidered pouch into her hands. “This arrived from Caras Galadon not thirty minutes ago. Extraordinary! There is a scroll inside describing its contents. I did not read it but it is written in Celeborn’s hand, this much I know. I hope it is of some use to you. Please, this way,” Amras motioned to the left of the great stair, down a long hall lit by southern facing windows. He set off at an alarmingly quick pace and with such focus and intensity Elmissir chose not to engage him in conversation, not yet at any rate. She had many questions which she knew would soon be answered.

At a large and ornately carved set of double doors two armoured guards snapped to attention upon their approach. Amras pushed open the doors, oblivious to the guards but Elmissir nodded to them both. They entered the hallway leading into the private wing of the house which was richly carpeted and warm, filled with the ornaments and decorations any family would collect and display. A pile of dusty and unused bats and racquets leaned against a bench upon which was piled a heap of cloaks and silken mufflers and underneath sat one lone slipper. Ahead, someways down the corridor, a large sitting room could be seen. Several doors and passage ways lead from it and it was dominated by a very large hearth crowded with several overstuffed chairs.

Elmissir kept her face calm and serene, even while her heart sped up with curiosity and, she had to admit, a healthy dose of excitement at seeing one of the most well-protected inner sanctums of Imladris. Though her eyes remained properly fixed ahead, she drank in every detail, who knew if she would ever again have the opportunity to visit these rooms?

Amras continued walking and at the second door on the left stopped. “This is the door to milord’s private rooms, Lady Elmissir. I would like to apologize in advance for its disheveled state; he prefers to live ‘comfortably’.”

Elmissir smiled gently at the secretary. “No apology necessary Amras, I understand. Please, lead on.”

Amras very gently lifted the latch, and swung the door inwards into a goodly sized room. A line of southeast facing windows flooded the room with warm light, in front of which stood a desk heaped with books and papers. A draft of cool air came in from a slightly opened window, which lightly rustled one long page of foolscap covered in the Prince’s drawn-out hand. Clothes hung on hooks and lay draped over chairs and stools and directly opposite the door, in a tall four poster bed draped with red, lay the Prince. He was covered with a clean, white sheet onto which fell his black hair and his eyes were partially open as he walked in the mists. On a short stool at his side sat Taradѐath, slumped over onto the bed. He too, walked but in a far more intense way than Elladan; his eyes were widely dilated and almost black, so starved was he for rest.

Elmissir looked from Taradѐath down to the pouch she still held in her hand and understood why Amras had not delivered Celeborn’s herbs to the Elven medic; he didn’t have the heart.

“I thought it best to let him rest when he could,” Amras whispered. “Taradѐath did say we’re to call for him when you arrive - shall I?”

“Yes, but gently Amras, ever so gently. Taradѐath looks to be on his last threads of strength.” Amras nodded his understanding and while he put a light hand on Taradѐath’s shoulder and whispered softly into the elven healer’s ear, Elmissir dropped her bag at the end of the bed, shed her cloak and quickly opened the pouch from Celeborn.

The pouch contained several packets of herbs, along with a hastily scrawled note from Lord Celeborn himself.

Suilad Taradѐath::

Please inform Lord Elladan I have received his couriered message about the recent victory over the Clans and I await his full accounting.

You should know that my scouts have reported that these Clans, as they move out of an area, have been tainting some of the springs at their source. Be wary of all water. If any of your wounded become unnaturally feverish or if their wounds heal slower than expected, then the chances are high that they have taken on water from one of the tainted springs.

I have sent along cleansing herbs; some are for poultices and others to be administered orally, the packets are all clearly marked. I have also dispatched our own rangers to deal with the springs, please pass this information on to Lords Elladan and Elrohir.

Regards,
Celeborn, Lord of Lórien


The names on the packets were familiar, though she knew that these herbs were rare in the immediate area around Imladris. She was exceedingly grateful for Lord Celeborn’s expansive thinking, if these were the remedies needed, then she would have been hard pressed to find anything comparatively fresh among Rivendell’s extensive stores.

As Amras straighted and moved away from a now conscious but still slumping Taradѐath , she handed him Celeborn’s note. “I will pass this news on to both Taradѐath and Lord Elladan and rely on you to inform Lord Elrohir when he returns,” she said softly, then moved to the side of Elladan’s bed. Taradѐath looked up, his eyes shadowed. “Elmissir,” he croaked, “thank the Valar.” He paused to take the flagon of clear water Elmissir passed to him. “Come, I need you to walk the mists with me. It won’t take long, we can confer...” He stopped as Elmissir bent close and touched a gentle finger briefly to his lips, shaking her head. “No,” she whispered, “you are spent. I can do what’s needful here and Lord Celeborn has sent help . . .” She quickly filled the exhausted healer in on all the details.

“Tainted water?” Taradѐath asked. “Of course! That explains much. I should have thought of that. Let’s begin,” he said and with a frustrated shake of his head he attempted to stand.

“No,” she repeated softly. “You need rest, leave Lord Elladan to me now. If necessary, I can walk with him but I think Lord Celeborn’s herbs will provide him all the help he needs.” Still Taradѐath objected, stubborn determination warring with common sense but when Elmissir gently but firmly insisted, he finally nodded and gave in. In return, he related the nature of Elladan’s wounds and symptoms, then rose and moved to a day couch near the windows, where he sank down and resumed his waking rest.

“Amras, I need hot water and plenty of it. Also, clean flagons and a large basin.” She retrieved her bag from the end of the bed, quickly rolled up her sleeves and taking Taradѐath’s former place, pulled back the sheet and began gently removing the dressing from Elladan’s side. She looked up to see Elladan’s secretary still hovering, his gaze rapt upon the Prince’s wound. “Sooner rather than later, Amras,” Elmissir reminded him. He blinked rapidly before recollecting himself and with a curt nod, immediately left.


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Postby SilverScribe » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:08 am

. . . cont'd

It was a deep gash, ten inches in length and she could see Taradѐath’s attempts to stitch and restitch the wound closed but gratefully, since taken abed, Elladan had managed not to disturb Taradѐath’s latest sutures. The skin was red and inflamed the entire length of the cut. Moisture seeped from several places where the edges of the wound had separated in between the stitches. Other edges were jagged and torn. Thankfully, there was no blood.

Elmissir wondered how the Prince had taken such a hit; ’a mortal with a small battle axe’ Taradѐath had said. It explained the depth of the wound but not how it landed. She pressed the sides of the wound gently with a clean piece of cotton, careful to watch the color of the moisture she captured. It was discolored and slightly malodorous; the early signs of infection. Elladan moaned softly but did not waken.

The door to Elladan’s room opened and a line of Elven servants entered carrying several large copper pitchers of steaming water, numerous flagons, two large basins and several armfuls of clean sheets, towels and rolls of clean linen strips. Elladan’s desk was hastily cleared by Amras, who piled all the Prince’s belongings on the floor, before directing the servants to arrange the various items Elmissir had ordered on the desk.

“I took the liberty of bringing more linens, milady,” he said quietly.

“Thank you Amras, you are exactly right, I think clean linens will be very much needed,” she answered as she reached into her bag and withdrew several items. Rising, she went to the desk and set the things down; a small ceramic bowl, a delicate ceramic spoon and several small, parchment wrapped packets. She shook grey flakes from one packet into the bowl and adding a bit of the hot water, worked up a small bit of ice bark paste, blowing on it as she mixed to cool it. Returning to where Elladan lay, she carefully spread the paste over the wound and while it worked to numb the Prince’s flesh, she took small, sharp scissors from her bag and a bit of clean linen. She had just finished carefully snipping off the bits of torn flesh to smooth the wound edges when she looked up to see Elladan awake, his eyes now fully open. “Taradѐath?” he managed.

“I have made him lie down and take a desperately needed rest, my lord,” Elmissir answered gently.

“Lady Elmissir?” Elladan gave a brief, small smile.

“Just Elmissir, my lord,” she answered with her own smile. “I shall be attending to you for now.” She told him of Celeborn’s note and the herbs he had sent along. “You will need both a poultice for your wound and a warm draught to drink,” she told him. “I know how to prepare both. Once you are resting comfortably, I shall check with your Captain and tend to any of your company who may need this remedy as well.”

Elladan listened and nodded in agreement. “Hantanye, Herinya*, “ he then gave her the same brief, small smile. “I’m sorry ‘Just Elmissir’. And if you should need more of Celeborn’s remedy please, tell my Captain. We’ll spare no horse or bird of wing to bring it to you. Taradѐath? Where is he?” The Prince attempted to sit up but was stopped by Elmissir’s hand upon his shoulder. He allowed himself to be eased back onto his pillows.

“He is resting right over there by the window and walks the mists for himself now, ” Elmissir answered gently. Elladan reached over and clasped her hand with his own. “He’s been selfless; watch over him, Elmissir, see he gets the rest he needs.”

“Of course my lord, I am certain both Amras and your Captain will be more than able to assist me in anything else I may need,” she replied. Elladan’s eyes, tired as they were, held hers for a moment before he released her hand. He reached up to a stray wisp of her blond hair that had loosened and he gently tucked it over her ear. His arm then dropped heavily beside him.

“Forgive me, I am being bold,” he said with a quick grin. “The prerogative of the injured, let’s say.” Elladan suddenly fell quiet and seemed to waver between this world and the mists for a moment or two. “Were I not what I am,” he whispered, feeling the mist gathering once more. Amras took a short intake of breath at hearing the Prince’s words but remained silent.

“If you were not what and who you are, “Elmissir murmured, pressing the Prince’s forearm briefly, “both Imladris and our people would be poorer by far.“ Rising, she went back to the desk and with Amras’ assistance, prepared a warm draught with a pinch of powder from one packet, and a thick poultice with the crushed leaves and flowers of yet another. Returning to Elladan’s side, she shook the Prince awake just enough to help him drink and when he had returned to the mists, she carefully cleansed the wound, sponging the icebark from it with warm, salted water before applying the poultice. Once again Amras helped her, holding Elladan as she slid the strip of clean binding linen under and around his unconscious form. When she was done, Amras cleared away the dirty bandages while she crossed the room to check on Taradѐath. She was relieved to find him fully relaxed and breathing deeply, with no sign of fever or distress.

Elladan too, was warm but no longer overly hot. “They will both rest comfortably now for a few hours,” Elmissir told Amras as she gathered her things and replaced them in her Healer’s bag. The relief on the secretary’s face was obvious.

“I should check with Lord Elladan’s Captain, and see if any of the men have need of these,” she added, holding up Lord Celeborn’s herbal packets before tucking them into her bag and retrieving her cloak. “Shall we?”

*****

*Many thanks, my lady

. . . Elladan and Amras provided by our Bardhwyn . . .
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Postby Bardhwyn » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:09 pm

cont...

Amras agreed to go but would not leave until he’d arranged for two trusted servants to take their places. He escorted Elmissir out into the corridor and back through the guarded double doors, and again the two sentries snapped to attention as they passed. The inner sanctum closed quietly behind them as they left, wrapped in an air of patient anticipation. Passing through the entrance foyer they entered the grounds and began the long walk to the southeastern perimeter where the barracks, stables and storehouses were located.

“Thank you, Mistress Elmissir, for attending Lord Elladan so assiduously”, Amras said after a long while of walking silently. “It was a great relief to me to know you were at hand.”

“I am pleased to help in any way I can, Amras,” Elmissir replied. “Lord Elladan’s hospitality has been second to none, but even were it otherwise, I would never shirk my duty to aid any sick or wounded. It is to Taradѐath’s great credit that he held the worst of the Prince’s injuries at bay. My task was made easier, by far.”

“I know now is not really the time to bring up the subject Mistress Elmissir,” Amras said haltingly. “But I must; the banquet. I must know if, in your estimation, Lord Elladan will be able to attend and if not, what you think we ought to do?” He looked to Elmissir in such a way that it occurred to her he was wasn’t just asking her opinion, he was looking for her direction in the matter.

Elmissir thought carefully before answering. Taradѐath had indeed bettered the Prince’s chances of a full and speedy recovery and the herbal remedies that Lord Celeborn had sent along would certainly see Elladan in fit enough condition to preside at a banquet. After all, that would involve more sitting and eating than anything else . . .

“I think Lord Elladan will have recovered sufficiently to sit at table, make a few speeches and offer more than a few toasts,” she answered Amras with a smile. “However, we shall both stress the fact that any strenuous dancing is out of the question.”

“Well, yes, of course, he’s in no shape for dancing. Which is a great shame because he is a very, very good dancer. I think that we shall quietly remove any and all dances from the evening’s festivities. I agree, totally and yes, Mistress Elmissir, no dancing. Excellent decision. Perhaps one or two songs, ballads of course but no, you’re correct, no dances or dance music. And that removes any chance of the Scribe’s men degenerating into the shambolic and raucous gyrations that the second born describe as dancing - yes, we are spared.”

Elmissir’s heart sank at Amras’ idea of removing ‘any and all dances’ from the festivities. She had hoped that Garia might show the same alacrity on the floor of the Great Hall as he had shown under the stars . . . how they had laughed as he had swung her about, both on the gravel paths of the garden and the flower dotted grass of the meadow . . .

“Perhaps we should only remove the faster dances,” she offered, and when Amras shot her a quick, disapproving look, she continued. “Surely a few slow, stately waltzes would not go amiss.” Amras hesitated.

“Please Amras,” she said with a smile, “and I am quite certain that my brother will be most willing to convince the Scribe to join him in a duet. Their performance of “The Lay of Eärendil” is not to be missed.”

“I defer to you, Mistress Elmissir,” Amras replied evenly but his disappointment rung out into the morning air like a bell. “The Lay of Eärendil is one of my favorites,” he added with a polite smile.

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Postby SilverScribe » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:53 pm

... cont'd



The southward path Elmissir and Amras followed led them first through rolling grassland followed by a dense copse of trees before peaking at the crest of a small rise from which they could look down onto the barracks complex. It was compact but orderly in its design, crowded with many different buildings and structures of varying sizes and in its center was a wide, dusty assembly area. They descended down into the noise and smells and bustle that constantly resided in the complex, arriving at the small hut that served as the Captain’s command office. There Elladan’s captain, Carnaeith, sat writing at a small table while several elves lay in cots around the room. They each wore the same wan, shadowed look as Elladan had and each, in one way or another, sported a wound taken in the battle.

It wasn’t a command office but an extension of the infirmary.

While Elmissir quickly checked each of the afflicted Amras quickly explained the cause of their sickness and the generous cure provided by Lord Celeborn to Carnaeith. At hearing the reason for his warriors malady he spat a curse.

“Vile, edain sons of harridan cows! Tainting water! The very source of life for all of the Valar’s children. Argh!” He threw his quill down in disgust. “This would explain why we’re suffering with dysentery as well - those of us who escaped injury in battle.” He motioned to the plate of half eaten food at the corner of his writing table. “I’ve not been able to keep much down in weeks and these poor souls,” he pointed at his warriors lying about him, “they’ve not eaten a thing.”

“Which will, surprisingly enough Captain, work to advantage,” Elmissir added as she joined Amras and Carnaeith. “The herbal draught will work much better if there is nothing else in the way.” She turned as a young healer she knew to be training under Taradѐath spoke at her elbow.

“Mistress Elmissir,” he said, bowing low with one hand over his heart. “It is an honour to have you here; tell me, how fares Lord Elladan and Taradѐath?”

“They rest and mend as we speak,” she replied gently. “Lord Celeborn has sent news of the malady and much to remedy it. I’ve come to see to your wounded while Taradѐath gets some well deserved rest.”

“Myself and my fellow healers are at your disposal, Mistress,” the young elf answered. “Whatever you need, only ask and we shall provide it.”

She thanked him and briefly turned back to Amras and the Captain. “Well gentlemen, it looks as though my work is clear before me. Before I begin however,” she dug into her Healer’s bag and pulled out the pouch containing the herb packets. Calling for a flagon of clean water, she opened one packet and tapped a bit of the powder into it, then instructed Carnaeith to drink. At his involuntary look of loathing, she smiled reassuringly. “This water, Captain, will have the opposite effect, I assure you. Now if you will excuse me, I shall look to your men.”



Amras and Carnaeith by Bardy, Elmissir and "the young elf" ;) by yours truly . . .
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:15 pm

Boartooth continued his shuffling dance in his ale-induced sleep. The dance was increasing in elegance and fervor as it went, as he danced among his dream-bears. He did a hop which jostled the furniture in the room he had been allotted, landing on his right rear paw. His forepaws were above his head, and his left rear paw was raised. Any who would have seen him would have been impressed.

But the jar of the landing woke him, and he didn't know where he was at the moment.

"WHOOOOF!" he gave in a huff, hopped a few times then fell over onto a bookcase on the wall. The bookcase toppled over on the bear, and he was silent for a while, a forepaw extending from under the bookcase, with the books scattered on the floor.

The paw gradually changed, the fur retreating into a hairy hand, the claws retracting into nails, and fingers seperating. The bookcase moved slowly as Boartooth, now in his human form, pushed it upright, books falling all over him.

He looked around at the mess he had caused in his dancing dream. "I hope Elladan didn't put anything valuable in this room, or he's going to be very put out with me." he said.

The books didn't look valuable, but he gathered them up and put them back in the bookcase. The vases and other things that had shattered he hoped weren't valuable. There was a broom in a corner of the room and he grabbed it, sweeping the broken pieces into the corner to be picked up later. "I must have been making a lot of noise during the night. I'll be surprised if nobody heard it or looked in to see me. I wish I had seen it." he said to himself. He chuckled a little. "I kind of wish they had. They would have had their wish, to see a dancing bear."

But he wondered if anybody noticed. He didnt' hear anything around, and he looked out the door. The hallways were empty. Not even a sound of elvish singing, which was unusual. He wondered what was going on.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:55 am

After washing up and dressing for the day, Boartooth left his room and went out to look in on Thunder and Lightning, the horse and falcon that were his closest companions.

He wouldn't think of them as his horse and falcon, anymore than they would think of him as their Beorning. It was not his way. They were friends and associates who aided him in his forays.

He saw they were well-tended as is the way of Elves with beasts, but they were restless. Thunder wished to roam outside of this stable as soon as he could.

But Lightning was even more restless. He hated being cooped up in this prison, as he thought it. He was used to range free among his beloved skies like the Great Eagles. He had no love for Elladan for requiring him to be inside this loathsome place. The falcon was angry and fierce, and would not let any touch him.

He disdained the other falcons in this place, tame and docile in his eyes. Slaves. Didn't they feel the call of the skies like he did, the taste of freedom that he had with Boartooth? Pah!

Boartooth soothed him. "Fear not, Lightining, soon you will be free from this place. I know it is hard for you to be cooped up inside."

Lightning cried out loudly in response.

He brought an apple to Thunder and patted his neck. "Battle is coming, my friend. You will soon roam free with me and some other companions."

The horse whinnied and neighed, desiring to burst out running from the stable. "Soon, my friends, very soon." He left and went out in search of some breakfast, making his way to the hall where there was an array set out. Some elves were already there.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:33 am

Meanwhile, at the barracks...

Activity around the barracks of Imladris heightened for a time as a second aid of Taradѐath joined Elmissir and together the trio of healers set to work, carefully administering the remedy in measured proportions, applying poultices where required. The sun lifted as they worked and Amras kept the Captain engaged in quiet conversation, learning all he could of the altercation that resulted in the Prince’s injury. Amras learned also of Elrohir’s; his face became even graver.

Elmissir used the Captain’s office as a makeshift base and she marked how the two persisted in their dialogue - at times the Captain acting out some martial move or another. Amras hung on every word. When all that required her attention had been seen to, Elmissir collected her things, thanked her two excellent assistants and assured the Captain his warriors would recoup in good time. He grunted what sounded like a ‘thank you’ as they departed.

As Amras and Elmissir returned to the Main House the sun sat a bit higher in the sky but it was still early yet.

“Some breakfast is in order, wouldn’t you say, Mistress Elmissir?”

At the mention of food, Elmissir’s stomach growled softly, and she shared a laugh with Amras. “Oh indeed Amras, though I’m afraid our stomachs will have to wait just a wee while longer. I wish to check on the Prince and Taradѐath first.” Amras nodded both agreement and approval, and they retraced their steps quickly, finding more activity in the large front foyer than when they left.

A small collection of elves had gathered in the expansive, stately foyer of the hall, one bearing a tasteful basket of cut flowers. Amras’ duly appointed servants stood with one couple, jotting down messages; the visiting Eldar had all come to pay their respects to Lord Elladan

Amras’ brows knitted momentarily; he motioned to the nearest Elven servant who excused himself from his task and quickly came to his side.

“Master Amras, Mistress Elmissir” he said with a slight bow, “you’ll be pleased to know Lord Elladan is awake and feeling refreshed. He’s asked me to greet each of his guests...”

“Have there been many, Alatir?” Amras asked, concern edging his voice.

“No,’ Alatir shook his head, ‘though we’ve received many messages, flowers and small gifts. I’ve placed them in the day parlor. ”

“He’s not made mention of formally greeting any of his guests, has he?” Amras asked.

“Ah, no sir, he hasn’t, except to say he’d very much like to see Mistress Elmissir if she were to return,” he bowed slightly to Elmissir and smiled a little too knowingly. “He also said something to effect you’d be quite cross with him if he were to attempt receiving any visitors, Amras.”

“I am never ‘cross’ with Lord Elladan, Alatir,” Amras replied, a bit flustered. “I only voice my concerns and reservations, as is my duty.” In truth, Amras would be more than cross were the Prince to attempt something so fool-hardy, he’d be outright perturbed!

“Amras! Amras!” A lilting and pleasant voice called out, into the foyer. In swept two Elven ladies, their dresses diaphanous and complimentary to one another, like two blooms arranged in a vase, each there to heighten the beauty of the other. One bore a large platter covered in translucent material not unlike their gowns.

“Amras, is he alright? Please, tell me all you know,” one said in a sweet, breathy voice. Her skin was as pale as porcelain from Andrast and her jet black hair smelled faintly of jasmine. The second, with hair a bright, silvery gold, scolded her companion. “Alatriel, you forget yourself! Amras, please introduce us to your fair companion though I feel as if I already know you well, my lady; I’ve heard so much about you.”

Amras bowed slightly, out of courtesy at the ladies’ arrivals but also because he was momentarily at a loss; how to address Elmissir? As ‘Mistress’ or ‘Lady’? She was of equal if not higher rank but he remembered Elmissir’s preference, so clearly voiced earlier that morning; ‘just Elmissir’ she said to the Prince. He chose the latter appellation.

“Mistress Elmissir, may I present the Lady Alatriel and the Lady Linwë, long time friends of their Lordships. My ladies, may I present Mistress Elmissir, sister to Master Guilhendar lately of Ost-in-Edhil .

Lady Linwë blinked, “Mistress? Master?” She then laughed. “Oh Amras, you are so droll at times. ‘Mistress’ Elmissir,” Linwë curtsied, followed by Alatriel.

At the sight of the two elegant Ladies, Elmissir gave a fleeting thought to her own appearance; she must look a fright. She was suddenly very conscious of the loose curls that had escaped her hastily drawn back hair, of the splattered and splotched state of the muslin apron she yet wore to protect her dress, and of the less than pristine state of her hands and nails, stained from both treating bloody wounds and mixing up the herbal remedies for Elladan’s company. It would not do however, to appear flustered before either of these ladies, especially since Amras had subtly intimated that they were well-known and close to both Elladan and Elrohir. Elmissir carefully kept her face serene and inclined her head politely to both the ladies as they were introduced.

“Lady Alatriel, Lady Linwë, the pleasure is certainly mine,” she answered, “and I can only hope that whatever you have heard of me does my brother’s House honour.” She glanced at Amras then back. “I pray you will excuse my haste, but I really must check on Lord Elladan.”

“Oh, may we come!” Alatriel chirped. “We brought him some exotic Edain food, we made it ourselves, didn’t we Linwë? They’re called ‘honey cakes’. Do you like honey, Lad..ah Mistress Elmissir? Oh, of course you do. You tend bees, I hearsay...”

“Triel, enough!” Linwë said. “Mistress Elmissir, Amras, we shan’t keep you. Please, present our gift and our well wishing to Lord Elladan and please inform him we’ll attend him at his earliest convenience. No sooner,” she added with a sharp look to Alatriel.

Elmissir passed the tray to Amras with a smile for both ladies. “I shall certainly pass on the cakes and your message, Ladies,” she said. “I am certain that Lord Elladan will be most delighted with both. If he fares half as well as Taradѐath and I hope, you will likely be seeing him soon.” She motioned for Amras to lead on, anxious to both see how Elladan was truly doing, as well as to escape the seemingly very well-informed attention of the Lady Atariel.

The walked on and entered through the guarded doors into the private residence. Amras deposited the tray of cakes without ceremony on a nearby side table and, when at the Prince’s door, knocked quietly. Taradѐath’s voice sounded from within, vibrant and clear; Amras opened the door for Elmissir.

“Ah, Elmissir, you’ve returned,” Elladan said brightly. He was sitting upright in his bed with much of his color restored and comfortably dressed in a loose silk tunic and robe of deep maroon. Taradѐath stepped into view.

“Ah, the Mistress Healer returns,” Taradѐath said with a smile. “I hear tell you’ve been down to the barracks, working your wonders.”

Elmissir flushed and waved Taradѐath’s compliments away with a smile. “You flatter me shamelessly,” she chided him gently, to which he laughed in return, his restored vigor apparent.

“Her wonders work wonderfully, indeed,” Elladan said with a smile, “and have put me in a poetic mood.” Elladan extended his hand to Elmissir, and recited:

“With a touch of grace and much learned skill,
She brings wholesome cures and draughts distilled,
Thus hale and whole we again draw near
To the beautiful and gifted Elmissir.”


“Come here, my lady,” he said gently, “so I may kiss your hand.”

“Ah, he flatters me and you honour me,” Elmissir laughed as she moved to the side of the bed. Just as she reached out towards Elladan’s extended hand, she caught sight of her own and suddenly snatched it back, feeling her cheeks begin to burn. Under the Prince’s somewhat puzzled gaze, not only the state of her hands but also the disarray of her hair and dress became more than just uncomfortable, it was suddenly acutely embarrassing.

She clasped her hands tightly and dropped into a deep curtsy. “Alas, my lord, Elladan, tending to your company has left my dress and most especially my hands in a state that I would not have you touch.” She rose again and instead of taking the Prince’s hand, she instead laid the inside of her wrist, which was clean, on his forehead. Stepping back, she smiled, genuinely pleased with his progress. “It appears that I owe Lord Celeborn most fervent gratitude for his aid, you are free of fever. Allow me a few moments to wash my hands my lord, and then I shall want to check the state of your wound.”

Elladan appraised her silently for a moment, aware his admiration for her was growing with each loose tendril of hair and every crease and smear on her muslin apron. He could see the beds of her nails were dark with the blood of his warriors; it made him want to kiss them all the more. Who among the ladies of Imladris would have the will and the strength to undertake what she had this very morning; face the grim realities of the world outside the environs of the Last Homely House? Very few, if any. Perhaps Guilhendar’s choices have benefited her after all, he thought to himself.

She was waiting for his leave and he could see by the flush of her cheeks she was uncomfortable. Perhaps his verse was poor? Hadn’t Arwen said as much? And often? ‘What do I need to do’, he asked himself his glance lingering on a stray wisp of Elmissir’s hair, ‘to make you see what I feel?’ A trace of shadow threaded through his mind; perhaps she does see and my suit is already lost; perhaps there is another? And why shouldn’t there be? Someone more suited than I, perhaps? Someone who can tend bees and dry herbs...

He pushed aside a wave of disappointment and decided to act; she’d made a request - he had to reply and he chose to be selfish.

“Forgive me, my lady, but no,” he leaned forward, taking her hand firmly in his, “it is this hand I wish to kiss; this hand that shows the traces of elven blood and the stains of the many different cures that have benefited my brethren. It is a strong hand. Celeborn’s foresight is to be commended but your efforts have been foremost. On behalf of my warriors, as well as for my own sake, I thank you.”

He pressed the back of her hand to his lips and he kissed it, sending his gratitude and blessings to the Valar for the grace of this unique elven woman. He then released her hand and with it released any expectations he held - he sent those to the Valar, as well: Their will be done.

He eased slowly back onto the large mound of cushions set up behind him and looked to his secretary: “Amras please escort Elmissir to the washroom; provide her with what ever she needs. I’ll prepare for your inspection, my lady” he said with slight nod to Elmissir, “and perhaps you can tell me how your bees fare? The three new hives I installed for you? It was a pretty spot you chose, if I recall, with a large sycamore nearby.”

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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:36 am

. . . con't


Elladan’s words and gracious manner caused Elmissir’s cheeks to flush an even deeper pink. When he also insisted on taking her hand and even touching it to his lips, soiled as it was, it was everything she could do to remain outwardly calm and even return his honest concern with a proper degree of decorum.

“My lord, you are as always, most gracious,” she answered softly, “I am only too happy that I was here and able to repay your kind hospitality by tending your company. Rest easy now, and I shall not be long.” She took the opportunity to gently extract her hand from his and escape quickly to the side room Amras indicated. There she set about scrubbing her hands clean, re-tying her hair and turning the stained muslin apron around to show, at the very least, a less offensive surface.

When she returned to Elladan’s chamber, she was relieved to note how clear his grey eyes were, a sure indication that he was well on the way to a full recovery. He smiled as she arrived at his bedside and it was impossible not to return it, not to mention noticing how beautifully those same grey eyes were set off by his dark hair. ’No wonder the Ladies Alatariel and Linwë are so anxious to see him’, she thought idly and had to squash a surprise pang of jealousy. She reminded herself that she was here to tend him as a healer, not a flirt. The thought of the latter was, however, not so unpleasant . . . the contrast between Elladan and Garia was so amazing, one dark, the other fair, one so controlled and elegant, the other so roguish and full of surprises . . .

She pulled herself up sharply and reached for her healer’s bag. Elladan had removed his robe and further obliged her by pulling up the silken shirt to show her neat bandage. She smiled her thanks and bent to her task.

“I am more than happy to report that the three new hives you set up are thriving,” she said, her voice light. She snipped the long wrapping strip of linen and pulled it gently free. “I had opportunity to check on them only recently, and the new Queens seem quite content in their new homes.” Again, she had to push the previous night's delicious memories of Garia and those very hives under the starlight away, determined to concentrate fully on the task at hand.

“And what of your medicinal honey?” Ellandan asked. ”Have you any to spare for me, or have you rationed it all for my brother?”

She flashed him a quick smile. “All for your brother, my lord? Nay, there will always be enough for both the Lords of Imladris. I shall ensure some is sent along to you smartly.” Something about honey tweaked in the back of her mind but she couldn’t place it and so ignored it, instead returning her attention to Elladan’s side as she carefully peeled back the linen pad holding the poultice in place. The herbal paste was heavily discolored, but the line of Taradѐath’s neat field stitches was now smooth, the flesh to either side a healthy pink.

Taradѐath had come alongside and bent down beside her to inspect the Prince’s injury as well. “The poultice was a complete success, my lord,” he told Elladan as he straightened. “I think the Mistress Elmissir can remove the stitches and as long as you promise to do nothing more strenuous than a brisk walk, it should be safe.”

“And thus be discharged from the Mistress Healer’s apt care?” Elladan said with a start. “No, I refuse. I shall bear these stitches for weeks, if I must.”

“My Lord Elladan, you think my care inept?” Taradѐath asked in mocked surprise. Elmissir chuckled at the easy banter between the two.

“No, no, Taradѐath,” Elladan replied with a laugh, “you’ve been most expert in your care, heroic even. I may even institute the Edain custom of awarding medals and give you one. Remove them if you must,” his eyes fell upon Elmissir, who in her brief time away had neatened her appearance. She no longer appeared discomforted, which pleased him.

Taradѐath grinned, seeing how the Prince’s attention followed ‘the pretty healer’ as she was known among the company; he turned to collect his cloak. “I shall let the Mistress Healer decide. With your leave, my lord, I shall go to the barracks and carry on with my heroism.” He sketched a short bow, which was acknowledged by Elladan and, as Taradѐath left, he took Amras by the arm, leading him out the door while asking him a question about his invitation to the feast and how many guests he was allowed to escort...

The door closed, leaving Elmissir and Elladan alone.

“The feast, I’d almost forgotten,” Elladan looked down at his wound, thinking.

“We leave them in, Elmissir and remove them after the feast. Please, replace the bandage. A day or two will matter little. I’ll have a scar, that much I’m resigned to,” Elladan said. “I’ll better perform my duties and fulfill my function knowing there is no risk of this wound reopening - I’ll need to stand, walk, perhaps even dance, and were I, I’d want to dance with you.”

Elmissir flushed anew. “Only a day or two then,” she agreed in her most clinical voice, re-winding a light length of linen around his ribs and deftly tying it off. “Otherwise the flesh will cling too tightly to the stitches and removing them will hurt more than necessary. But if leaving them for now will ease your mind and aid your dancing . . . ” Suddenly, her hand flew briefly to her mouth. “Oh, I am so sorry my lord, I have completely forgotten to tell you . . . We met the ladies Alatariel and Linwë in the foyer on our return from the barracks and I promised to pass on their warmest wishes for your complete recovery! And, their most fervent desire to see you as soon as you are possibly able. They even sent along some honey cakes for you. Amras had them . . . ” She trailed off as she looked around but couldn’t see the delicately covered tray. Puzzled, she turned back to Elladan, remembering the positively possessive look of both of the ladies. “Undoubtably my lord,” she added, “they will each wish more than one or two dances with you for themselves.”

“No doubt they will,” Elladan said with a thin smile, ”and then Linwë will wish to speak to me at length about Elrohir and Alatriel will wish to speak to me at length about nothing at all,” Elladan’s smile had turned mischievous and Elmissir tried unsuccessfully to hide a grin of her own. “Ah,” he said smiling, “you know of what it is I speak...” Elladan mimicked the stately tone of his father, “tis a force more dreadful than the pitiless hand of the Dark Lord, a force that will shrivel the heart of any First Born - tis the force ...of... boredom!” Elladan elegantly rolled the ‘r’ consonants of the final word and drew his eyebrows together, doing his best to capture his father’s baleful look.

Both Elmissir’s eyebrows went up in momentary shock, before her display of proper decorum dissolved into light laughter. Elladan’s mimicry of his father was perfect, even to the way Lord Elrond’s mouth would turn down at one corner. She covered her mouth with one hand to stifle an un-ladylike fit of much louder laughter.

Elladan broke down into his own laughter and brought his hand to his forehead, massaging his eyebrows; “Elrohir tells me to be careful when I mimic father, my eyebrows may stick in place - which wouldn’t suit me,” he added with a shake of his head.

“As a healer my lord,” Elmissir replied, still smiling and shaking her head as well, “I can assure you that your brother’s theory is completely untrue and unproven. You have naught to fear.”

Elladan took her in; she was, in that moment, wonderfully herself, free from all courtly formality - and she was beautiful. He recalled his prayer; ‘Their will be done...’ He fervently hoped Their will was to his favor for he knew then, without a doubt, he was in love.

He took her hand for a second time, this time more gently and, turning her palm upwards, pressed it hard against his lips; he held her eyes as he did so, the brightness of his own intensifying.

Were this thy lips, but nay, ‘tis only thy hand, he murmured into her palm, lightly kissing it a second time. He continued on with his verse...
If your hand it must be,
I shall place my heart upon the place
my lips hath kissed and bid thee
be gentle with it.


Still holding her hand, Elladan reached up and gently eased free a strand of Elmissir’s tidy hair, positioning it so it softly framed her face. “There, that’s better,” he said with a smile.

She shivered and caught her breath, realizing of a sudden that they were alone; here she was, in the Prince’s bedchamber, sitting at the Prince’s bedside unchaperoned and unescorted. The sound of the door opening jolted her away from Elladan’s intense attention and as discreetly as possible, she withdrew her hand and rose to her feet. She turned to see Amras hurry in, flustered anew over something or another. Perhaps now was a good time to take her leave . . .

Amras awkwardly bowed, aware in himself that he’d entered at an inopportune moment. “Forgive me, my lord, I just remembered you have a message from Lord Elrohir, it arrived early this morning by hawk. You were, of course, indisposed earlier...”

“Yes, thank you,” Elladan said thinly, watching with some sadness as Elmissir collected her few things. “I shall remember your promise of honey, Mistress Elmissir,” he said quietly.

She turned at the door. “And I shall most surely keep it, Lord Elladan,” she replied softly and with a last, fleeting smile, slipped out the door.


ooc: Elladan, Amras and Taradѐath supplied courtesy of our own Bardhwyn . . . ;)
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Postby Cock-Robin » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:14 pm

As Boartooth finished his breakfast and got up from the table, he was met by two elves. One he recognized as Malbeth, the bird-keeper of Imladris. He looked bruised and slashed, and Boartooth guessed why.

"Elanor, I just have to tell him about merilin raug.

"Shush, Malbeth, he can hear you."

Boartooth chuckled. You're talking about Lightning, my falcon friend, aren't you."

"Uh..yes." said Malbeth. "I can't do a thing with him, he hates me, and I thought I could make friends with any bird."

"Actually, merilin raug, demon bird, is a fitting nickname, and he wouldn't be displeased." said Boartooth. "I don't think he hates you. He's not angry with you, he's just angry at being cooped up. Let me guess, you tried to hood him or tie him to your glove, like most falconers. Right?"

"Right." said Malbeth.

"That's the problem." said Boartooth. "Lightning is a very proud bird and values his freedom. He doesn't like being tied down or cooped up. You should have seen him glaring at Elladan when he insisted he not be allowed to roam free."

"In other words, he's a lot like Shadowfax, the horse Mithrandir had when he was here. He was quite proud as well." said Elanor.

"That's right." said Boartooth. "Let's go see him. Show no fear, and don't try to tie him down."

They accompanied the Beorning to the falconry. Lightning was perched aloof from the rest. The others eyed him cautiously. Lightning had already shown who was master here, and they knew it.

"Hello, Lightning, or Merilin Raug as they call you."

The falcon was amused at that name.

"How'd you like to get out of here and stretch your wings?"

The falcon hopped onto Boartooth's shoulder, quite willing.

Malbeth stepped up. "Merilin raug, I'm sorry I tried to hood you or tie you down. I didn't know. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Go ahead, touch him. He's quite friendly to those who don't try to imprison him."

Malbeth reached out his hand, and Lightning stroked it with his beak. The elf stroked his feathers, and then Elanor did the same.

"A beautiful bird." said Elanor. "And Shadowfax would have liked him as well."

Malbeth realized then he had to treat this falcon as an equal. He followed Boartooth and the falcon out of the rookery.

Lightning didn't waste any time, but shot off from Boartooth's shoulder into the sky, and soon was a little dot, hard to see even with elf-eyes.

Boartooth laughed. "It would be easier for you to tame one of the Great Eagles than him. He's just that way."

Soon, the falcon dived down, a blur to everybody, crying out for joy at his newly-gained freedom.

"Merilin raug," Malbeth called out. "Would you do me the honor of alighting on my shoulder, noble bird?"

The falcon buzzed the elf, then landed on the bird-keeper's shoulder. Lightning stood up proud and tall.

"I don't think you'll have any more problems with him as long as you remember what I've told you." said Boartooth. "Remember, he is his own bird, I don't even own him. He agrees to go with me, and leave when he pleases."

The elf laughed at last. "I usually train the birds, but this one seems to be training me."
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:08 pm

Many, many miles eastward...


The morning waxed into the afternoon but the rain did not abate; it pelted down, drowning all, soaking Edain and Eldar to the skin.

It was a cold rain and it battled with the snow that remained clinging desperately to the ground despite the spate of warm weather of late. The rain, at first threatened to melt the veteran snow, but it cooled and created a thin layer of icy crust over the rounded mounds. Everything else it turned to mud – a sign that spring would come, eventually, once winter had its turn.

The elves had thrown a cloak over Bardhwyn’s shoulders but it made no difference: she was drenched to the skin and she made no attempt to hide her shivering; she earned none of the elves’ pity. She sat astride a strange, roan horse that ignored her, her hands were securely bound behind her back and tied across her mouth – a gag; one too many Khuzdul insults uttered for the Prince’s liking, it seemed. Courage was out of sight - perhaps at the end of the column. Hopefully groomed and unburdened. Elrohir’s last words to her still stung in her ears: “Perhaps I shall lay claim to this beast after you’ve swung, Barding. It would be a shame to see him languish in some Dale stable, only to be turned into glue.”

The Prince rode ahead, leading the column, looking as drenched as she. He also looked ill. It had been years since she’d had opportunity to see a First Born up close – but he, and several others were definitely ill.

Hushed voices spoke in Sindarin around her – oblivious to her, for what was she? Edain offal. She caught some of their conversation, but not all. ‘Will we be riding out again?’ ‘I imagine not, we have his prize.’ ‘We will miss the feast.’ ‘We’ll make one of our own, far better.’ ‘Alethar will sing, won’t you Alethar?’ That elf didn’t reply; he looked over his shoulder with what looked like a sneer. It was difficult to tell – elves always looked the same and they all looked alike to her, at least of late.

And the Sindarin; it felt like course gratings upon her ear. After speaking and hearing Orcish, Haradrim and Eastron for so long, hearing these languages thrown and bantered about, mixed pell-mell with Westron while with Clan Harlond, the gentle speech of the Elves shredded her ear. She could hear Cyrion and Calmacil speaking low some ways behind her: the cadence of their Westron contrasting against the elves. She could not make out what they said but Cyrion, typically, spoke the most often. She chose to ignore them, ignore everything.

It was done.

She was done.

As she rode, bound and gagged, shivering with the cold and wet, she forced herself to sink into the knowledge that she could do no more. Her future held a cell, then a long trip to Dale; bound – most likely. Gagged; perhaps she could curb her acerbic tongue and spare herself the ignominy of eating elvish linen for five hundred miles. Then, in Dale, yet another cell. There were black, desperate moments astride that dullard horse when she also thought ‘Yes, I’ll welcome the rope. Bring it.”

The idea she was now captive, now facing months of being bound and of facing bars drained her of any life she had left. She rode on, head bowed, resigned to waiting.

A high, piercing cry cut through the cold rain; a hawk, magnificent and proud, circled over the troop, alighting as if expected onto Elrohir’s arm. She watched him croon to the bird and speak to it with care and respect as all elves do with bird and beast. It presented its leg and she watched as Elrohir freed a small cylinder. A few more caring words and the bird alighted, taking to flight despite the pelting rain. With a departing cry it vanished beyond the treetops.

She almost felt touched by the sight.

A few moments later they halted abruptly, this followed by a flurry of activity.

‘Will the horses withstand it?’

‘They must.’

‘Cremanëar, you go. You are more ill than I.'

‘No, Selwyminàe, you ride on.’


A third elf: ‘You both are to ride on, with the Prince. To Imladris, where there is a remedy in hand. You leave immediately.’

So, he was leaving and there was a sickness.


Elrohir rode down the line, stopping before Bardhwyn. He was gray and his eyes were flat, as if he’d been walking the mists while riding – an unlikely thing. He drew his dagger from his belt, leveled it at Bardhwyn’s throat and tapped the underside of her chin with its point.

“Mark me, I’ve given my men orders to kill you if you so much as make a sound or an untoward move. Do you understand, Barding?”

She nodded her head, her faced pulled into a fierce grimace thanks to the gag.

“Good,” Elrohir said with a sardonic smile. “I like my captured bandits to be compliant. Makes things run more smoothly.” With a flick of his wrist the gag’s fabric was sliced free.

“Better?” he asked.

Bardhwyn moved her stiff jaw. “Why do you care?” she asked in reply.

“We’re not heartless, Barding, but we’re not fools either. I meant it; act out and you'll regret it. You’ll be traveling on to Imladris,” he said loudly enough for the other two Edain to hear, “I will ride ahead and meet you there, do not tarry. You see,” Elrohir said, motioning with his blade at Bardhwyn, “you may take your time and savor your last semblance of freedom. Generous of us, isn't it?”

The Twin Lord spurred his horse and he was followed by a contingent of five, all wounded, all clearly in need of this remedy on offer. Across his shoulder Elrohir had slung the hard-won satchel, its leather stained a pitch black by the rain. Bardhwyn watched them ride off, at a speed that could only mean their mounts were elven trained, like her own. They’d most likely arrive by nightfall – but as for them it could be days.

She shivered once again and reminded herself; it was done. She was done.






Post number 5000! Thank you, SOMA!
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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:39 am

. . . later that day, in the bowels of the First Homely House's kitchens and storerooms . . .


"Please!! Mistress Elmissir!!" Amras yelped and ducked as a delicate silver fork flew over his head to bounce off the oaken cask behind him.

"Salad fork, fish fork, fruit fork, dessert fork, seafood fork, fondue fork, olive fork, pie fork, pickle fork, crab fork, relish fork, oyster fork and lest we forget it, the ever so humble yet ever so important REGULAR OLD EATING fork!!"

"You forgot the meat fork," Amras offered, and had to duck once again as yet another fork cut the air above his head.

"Oh yes!! And no doubt there's an egg fork, a parsnip fork and a fowl fork lurking about here somewhere! Hah! They're ALL fowl forks as far as I'm concerned!!" Elmissir blew a stray curl from out of her eyes and glared at Elladan's secretary.

Amras straightened and held up his hands in genuine surrender, if not a bit of fear. "Please Mistress Elmissir, please! I did not invent all of these merely to torment you. They are honestly all designed for their specific function and . . ."

"What specific function?!" Elmissir snapped. "Ferrying food to one's mouth is ONLY ONE FUNCTION!"

"Ah yes, of course it is," Amras was quick to agree. "However, in polite society one uses a specific fork for a specific course . . ."

Elmissir's cheeks began to flush again. "But," Amras put in hastily, "I am sorry that I neglected to mention that for our purposes, we will not be needing all of these, no, not at all."

"Then why have you just spent the better part of an hour trying my patience and lecturing me on all of these?!"

"Because it's useful knowledge," a stern voice cut in from the doorway. Elmissir whirled to see the tall figure of the Scribe leaning in, a faint, crooked smile turning up one side of her mouth.

"Then YOU make use of it and do this!" Elmissir fairly shouted.

One eyebrow climbed high as the Scribe stepped into the room. "Ah, but I am not the one who promised Lord Elladan that I would help organize and manage this banquet, now was I?"

"Well, had I known 'helping out' meant learning the names and functions of half a hundred forks, I might have thought twice," the healer grumbled.

"Half a hundred? Bah," Scribbles shot back. "It's only 15 at the outside, and all of the fish and seafood forks are simply the same fork with a different name, depending on the course being served."

Amras smiled broadly at the Scribe. "Yes, yes exactly Scribe!" He turned a pleading look to Elmissir. "Please Mistress, I have the menu from the kitchens, we will only need oh, perhaps four of these forks. Yes, we can make do with four . . . now the spoons . . . we'll have to have a soup spoon and a tea spoon for sure, and maybe a . . ."

Elmissir made a loud sound of disgust and plopped down on a chair, defeated. "Amras," she pleaded, "just get them all out, show me what order and side of the plate to place them and spare me the rest, hmmmm?"

Scribbles laughed. "I think that's the best you'll get Amras," she chuckled. "I'd take it if I were you."

Amras sighed. "I agree. Time will not allow much else."

Scribbles leaned over and put her mouth close to the secretary's ear to whisper, "And be grateful that Mistress Elmissir throws like a girl." Chuckling, she started for the open doorway. "Oh, and Scribe?" Amras called after her, stopping her the door. When she turned he hurried over.

"You did remember to extend Lord Elladan's invitation to your, ah, company?" he asked anxiously. "I have assured him that it was all taken care of."

Scribbles dropped a hand on the secretary's shoulder. "Then you have assured him correctly. I looked after it personally quite some time ago."

Amras beamed. "Ah good, very good . . . now, um, if you'll excuse me, the Banquet is tomorrow evening and with so much left to do and, erm . . ."

"Oh, of course," Scribbles answered. "I can see both you and Elmissir have your hands full, I'll leave you to it."

.

((ooc: I shamelessly "borrowed" Amras from Bardy . . .))
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Postby Frelga » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:46 am

Still far to the South and some weeks ago

"Come inside," Raisha's throat clenched. He was not listening to what she said, hearing only the shortness of her breath. "Come, some ill breeze went through you, I will have them build a fire…" He scooped her up like a lost child and hurried back to the old broken mill that had sheltered them quite comfortably for the last nights. A skin over the empty window kept the night chills out, and the boys had piled stones for a fireplace in the corner.

Sarina sunk every finger into Raisha's shoulders. She did not release him even after he set her down. She would hold on to him for ever and ever if she had to. "Raisha?" the gypsy asked, trying to catch his eye. "Did you hear what I said? We won't go North, will we?"

"Not today, love, no." He sat her down on the cosy pile that made their bed, then turned away to roar for firewood. A cry from one of the men he saw outside assured him the command was being followed; he mellowed again, turning to Sarina. She might have had claws, the way she clung to him.

"Not today, perhaps not even tomorrow. But I am taking you to the town, if you are pale like this, my poor dove."

The gypsy's hands fell back into her lap. He would not listen. He would laugh at her, just as her husband had when she warned him against a gajo lordling in the North. If her own Vaida did not listen to his wife, why would the gajo? He would go, and like Vaida, he would meet his doom.

"We must not go," Sarina repeated, but the hope was dim.

"I don't know if I can bear to leave you behind," Raisha smiled at her, caressing her cheek. Some colour had returned to it. "What will it look like, hm, if a Linden man goes traveling, and his Gypsy love stays home? That's not the way of the world, is it."

Sarina shook her head. "Raisha," she said, taking his face between her palms again. "We must not go North. None of us. We will die if we do. Do you hear me?"

Raisha smiled still, but there was something in her eyes. He placed his palms over hers; her fingers curled until they were all twined together, tight, never to let go. "I am listening, love. What have you heard? And where?"

"Just now, in the garden. I saw it. There is death there, Raisha." As earnestly as she spoke, Sarina heard herself with a gajo's ear. How silly did she sound!

"In the garden! Who's talking with you in the garden?" Raisha leapt up. He poked his head outside and drew yet another man away from his duties, quietly ordering him to walk a round of the camp and sniff for intruders.

"In the garden. Wait, now. Stars, Sarina, is this a thing you dreamt? Love…" He sighed. Sitting down next to her he took her hands in his and spoke patiently, as if to a child. "I can't turn and spin and change my plans all for a bad dream you had. You fret, and I love you dearly for it, but this has to stop. Only last week, you asked to take the long path to the bridge instead of fording the river- I agreed, and my men had to ride a whole day longer for your whim. Last month you did not want to stop at Clearspring, I will never know why. But I agreed. We went to the village, instead. But now, Sarina…I am due North and North I will go."

"Then we die," Sarina said bitterly. "I will go with you, regardless, but Raisha, we will not come back, if we go. Please, won't you believe me? I see these things, you know I do."

"I know you…see things," Raisha conceded. "And what will I tell my men? What word will I send to the clan chiefs I am bound to deal with? You will make your Raisha look like a coward."

"It doesn't matter what you tell the chiefs," Sarina returned. "They will be dead, or running for their lives. There won't be a fight, Raisha, it will be a slaughter."

The laughter froze in his throat. "Sarina, don't talk like that, it's chilling my blood. What slaughter? There is no army in the North to take on the many clans, that's how they prosper there. A lawless country, too lawless even for my taste. What did you see?" he became curious. "Betrayal? Who?"

"I don't know, Raisha mine! I don't know. I'm sorry, my sweet, I wish I could tell you enough so that you would believe me, but I can't. I just saw..." Three birds flying over a garden; wind rifling through the dry leaves. And the sure knowledge of what that meant. How could she explain that to a gajo? "I know it, here." She pressed her hand over her heart, with Raisha's hand still pressed in it.

Raisha could have melted in her frightened eyes. "Sarina," he sighed and brought her close. He could hear her heart thumping madly as he held her. "Do you think I cannot see ahead of me? I won't take you North if you fear it, but you will see me back and safe before you can dry your eyes."

"If you go, I'll go," she replied stubbornly. "Oh, Raisha, won't you believe me? I know. I knew when you fought the redhead in the barn, and that was when II hardly knew you. I even knew when Alder was bleeding out in the river - I knew to find him. I knew..." Now her voice shook and the tears crept close. She clenched her teeth and raised her eyes to the sooty ceiling. This was not the time to start bawling. "I knew when Vaida... He wouldn't believe me either. I told him we must not go to that lord."

Alder in the the river, an arrow through him, and no one the wiser save the gypsy who ran to his rescue. She was right about that- though a stubborn thought of coincidence clung to Raisha's mind. But this…this was ridiculous. It was a woman's fear, a snivelling. "I believe that you fear for me, love, but know this- fate is not my mistress. I cannot cower under a rock because of a dream you had. No, Sarina, no," he said sharply as her lip quivered. "This is nonsense. We will ride carefully, but we will ride. But I will take you to town, first, you look feverish."

Sarina fixed him with a bitter look. "That's just what Vaida said. I can't stay in the tent because of your dreams. And he of all people should have known better." She clasped his hands again. "Please, Raisha, my heart, just this once, listen to me. If I'm wrong, if no ill news comes from the North, I will never speak of my sight again. I will light no incense, make no charm, tell no fortune for as long as I live. Just listen to me now. I can't bear to lose you, Raisha mine."

"Ah, you will tell no fortunes, and how will that help me looking like a coward? Do you know what they will say? They will say I did not come because I was afraid, because I have so little hope for my name and my men that I trembled at the thought of facing Harlond and Carnad both at once. Do you think I will live long after word spreads that Raisha is a yellow hare? They will come here, and you will have your slaughter. And, Sarina, you do not know this perhaps, it's none of your concern, my love, but we are the smallest of the clans. We hold this land because when other chiefs bark at me, I bite back. I will go. And you will stay," he hardened his voice, disappointed at the long and lonely journey ahead.

"I will not stay," Sarina snapped back. "If you go, I will go with you, and if you die, so will I. But Raisha," she turned to cajoling again, "put it to your men them. Let me tell them - just a few - what I saw and let them say if they want to go."

"Put it to my men!" Raisha cried out. "After I have already decided? After the news has taken to the road and all is ready for us to leave? Stars, you want to tear my reputation to shreds, one way or another. Don't you dare spread fear among my men, Sarina, not one word or you will regret it. " It was not so bad an idea, he thought, to ask the boys whether they feared a gypsy's dream, but as she went on Raisha grew angry with her. No, and no again. What did the men have to say on the matter when clan chiefs waited up North?

Starssake, Sarina, why must you make this so difficult? There is no danger here, if you stay with Alder."

"You can't leave Alder. He's the only one with any sense. The rest of them have wits at best, and it's not the same." She dipped her voice into honey again, though she was scraping the bottom of the honeypot. "But Raisha mine, if it were not for fear of what others say, you would listen to me? Then let us ride slowly. If we are delayed by a day or two, well, things happen on the road, no one would think less of you, and it may be life or death to us." And things would happen, she vowed, even if she had to poison all the horses and half the men.

Raisha looked carefully into her eyes. I know you, he seemed to be saying; I know that look and I don't like it. He melted quickly. "We are already delayed. I won't leave until Dolfe gets here. You may well have your wish, my dear. Would I listen to you? Stars, and why should I? What do you know of my affairs? But I can hear your heartbeat, love. " He came closer and took her in his arms. The storm was passing. "I told you, we will not leave today. Likely not tomorrow…but very well, we will go slow to please you. As slow as we may without catching a burr of Rana's men on our tails. Hm?" Was it enough? He leaned closer, but did not kiss her on the lips just yet: only on the forehead.
Sarina threw her arms around Raisha's neck and held on, as tight as if they had already escaped the disaster, but barely. A sudden silence fell in the room, and with a shudder the gypsy recognized the clamor she no longer heard - distant screams, hoarse cries, and horns ringing. "I think it will be all right," she whispered.

"Of course it will," Raisha smiled, satisfied at having calmed her down. It could have very well ended in screams and slamming doors. The fellow with the firewood finally showed up, and turned right back out when Raisha sent him a glare. He never let the gypsy go, but began to rock her gently. "My dear silly goose," he nuzzled the top of her head. "If you come with me, there must be no more talk of slaughters and danger, unless you see
it on the road. If it's a dream, I don't want to hear about it."

OOC: Raisha by Rodia.
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Postby Harah » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:34 am

“OUCH!” Harah spun in his spot and glared down at the Elven tailor, kneeling at his feet - in his fingers, a slender dressmaker’s pin. “You did that on purpose!” Harah cried.

“Master Harah, you keep moving…”

“Because you keep sticking me with pins! Radesh! Radesh come in here and tell this…this tailor-elf to stop pricking me like I was some stradish’s doll…”

“A what? A what sort of doll?” The Hillman hollered. He chose to stay comfortably in his own room across the hall as Harah’s dialog with the tailor providing good enough entertainment from where he was.

“A stradish… they cast spells… OUCH!”

The Elven tailor sighed. “Please, Master Harah, I must ask you again: stand still.”

“Radesh!”

“No, I am not going in there, Harah, radish dolls or no radish dolls,” The Hillman called out. He stretched his legs in out front of his small fire, enjoying the comfort. Absent, Radesh noted, were the inevitable contributions Garia made to such goings-on. The man was too quiet.

“Ah! You’ll see, Radesh!” The Southron balled his fist and shook it at Radesh through the walls. “He’ll fit you next and prick you until you call for help and I, I will not come to your aid when you… OUCH!”

“That’s the last pin, Master Harah,” the elf said wearily, rising to his feet. He now towered over the short Edain, despite the man standing on a fitting pedestal. “Please, take a look in the glass and tell me what you think,” ‘And for the love of Eärendil,’ he thought to himself, ‘please like what you see…”

Harah looked. Reflected back to him he saw a healthy man, trim, fit with good color in his cheeks, his beard and moustache were neatly trimmed in the Haradrim style, and his eyes were sharp and bright. He wore loose, flowing trousers of finely woven cotton into which he had a loose, flowing shirt of the same material tucked and around his waist a brightly red and yellow colored cummerbund. A long coat of fine golden fabric finished off the ensemble; Harah looked like a Haradrim Chieftain.

“It’s splendid, truly splendid,” he replied.

“And your headdress, you asked for black cloth,” the Elf commented, holding a swathe of black cotton. “Are you sure about the color, white would far better compliment…”

“Ah, tsk, tsk,” Harah tutted, “My good-tailor elf, no, no, no. Only the Prince of Harad and his El Zikher – his Commander in Chief - can wear the white keffiyeh – but how are you to know, yeah?” He took the fabric and with amazing speed wrapped, twisted and tucked it about his head until there was no sight of his graying hair, just a clean, tight headdress of black, wound and knotted. For effect, Harah allowed the end of the headdress to drape down, just over his left ear. “A bit of fringe, right here? Hmm?” Harah asked, pointing at the unfinished edge. The Elven tailor nodded in agreement.

“The guests shall think you a dignitary from Harad, Master Harah,” the tailor said with a smile.

“For which I shall have the Scribe to thank, and you my tailor friend – despite your evil pins.” Harah chose to ignore the Elf’s roll of his eyes. “You’ll have this ready by tomorrow morning, yes? The feast is tomorrow evening…”

“Yes, Master Harah, I am well aware of that fact – as all of Imladris is - and I shall be certain to finish your jacket before all my other charges, of which I have many so, please, if you allow me….” the elf turned Harah about and eased the jacket from his shoulders. “Your headdress? The fringe?” he said, expectantly. Harah unwound the fabric and delivered it with a smile.

As the Elven-tailor packed his things, Harah carefully changed out of his fine attire and back into his daily garb. He looked once again into the mirror; the fit, healthy man was still there, just dressed more modestly. The tailor left, sketching a shallow bow before exiting and Harah returned it. He looked again into the mirror…

“Your Majesty, Prince Elladan, it is a great pleasure,” he said, bowing low. Harah straightened up, a skeptical look upon his face. “Ah, Harah, don’t be a silly fool,” he said aloud to himself, “Its enough to be called ‘Master’, more than enough to be given such clothes, but meet Elvish Royalty – pppffffbbtt!” He dismissed himself from his own reflection with a wave of his hands.

He walked to the window, which he had closed due to the light rain that fell, but he could still see without, into the small garden that sat along side their quarters. It was the middle of winter, he was sure of it, but here in the Last Homely House, it still appeared as if the autumn had yet to arrive in full.

They would be leaving this place in three days time, he, Radesh, Master Boartooth and the Scribe to meet what ever adventure lay ahead. They’d say farewell to Garia, to Mistress Elmissir and to all the other friends made during their stay… was it three days? Harah counted on his fingers…

“…banquet tomorrow evening, one… the Scribe said we leave two days after,” Harah counted on his fingers in succession, “… two, three. Now did she mean that we leave on the morning of the third day or the morning after the second full day after the banquet, because that would be ‘three days’, not two…” he counted on another finger. “And do we leave at dawn? What did she say… think, think… ah, dawn, noon, what does it matter.” He dropped his fingers with a grunt. Time in Rivendell seemed to flow at the strangest pace, regardless of how much effort he made to count the days. The weeks they’d spent in the care of the Elves had felt like years, yet the days sometimes felt like weeks and his time with Clan Harlond, being sick and close to starving seemed a lifetime ago. He watched a sycamore leaf fall from a tree and recollected all the clansmen and women he’d ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.

“What’s become of you all, you poor, poor souls?” he murmured.


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Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:38 pm

The light was fading but Elladan resisted lighting a candle. He sat abed, a small lap desk in front of him and he was, of course, writing; writing, writing and more writing – letters, replies, responses, orders, clarifications, directions. Things he could delegate to Amras but the poor Elf was far too busy preparing for ‘this damned feast’ as Elladan had come to call it. Still, his secretary had given him glowing reports about Elmissir and her abilities to organize and manage the many elements involved – but for some reason Amras mentioned that ‘her aim was a bit inaccurate’ which Elladan didn’t quite understand.

He’d been trying not to think about Elmissir all day, and would, no doubt, try not to think of her all night, as well. Elladan picked up another piece of correspondence, eager to find something to push the elf maid from his mind. Lying at his side, the small tight scroll sent to him by his brother.


‘I have the Barding traitor. We make for home today, expect me late tomorrow. Please inquire Calmacil and Cyrion, sons of Lord Colwyn, Earl of Gilrain, Lebennin, two new guests.’

“Guests,” Elladan said aloud with a laugh, “you mean prisoners, don’t you? All will be revealed, in time” he said with a sigh. There was a firm knock on the door – Amras’ knock. With a word the secretary entered.

“A thousand pardon’s my Lord, it took me some time but I found the tome in the Library you asked for – Peerage of Southern Gondor, last updated…” Amras quickly thumbed to the title page, “Ah, here, in your father’s hand, last updated a year and a bit ago.” He placed the book carefully next to Elladan on the bed. “Now, my lord, your tailor – he sent word, he’s running a bit late, something about a difficult fitting taking more time than he planned.”

“Do I need another suit of clothes, Amras? I have so many.”

“My lord, you cannot be seen wearing the same thing twice,” Amras objected.

“And why not?”

“It’s simply not the done thing, my lord,” Amras replied, as matter of fact as if asked ‘does the sun rise every morning?’ “I’ve taken the liberty of ordering something for you – I placed the request many days ago, for you and for Lord Elrohir, but he most likely will not attend..."

“He’s coming, he’s on his way." He picked up the tight scroll by his side. "He thinks he shall be here late this very night. I think a bit later."

“Is he!? Ah! Oh, no…” Amras fell deep into thought.

“Is there a problem, Amras… no, let me guess, the seating plan?” Elladan watched as Amras nodded, his face furrowed with concern. “Please, spare me the drama, Amras. You’ll resolve it, whatever the dilemma. Add another table, if you must.”

“Brilliant suggestion!” Amras exclaimed. “Of course! Another table! Thank you, my lord.”

Elladan shrugged, accepting the praise. “Send the tailor in when he’s here, Amras – I’ll acquiesce to your superior understanding on such things as dress etiquette.”

“Seeing as Lord Elrohir will be attending, may I ask you a small favor, my lord? Would you allow the tailor to fit Lord Elrohir’s new clothing as well, with you modeling?”

Elladan smiled and nodded, pulling the heavy book onto his lap and he dismissed Amras - who left, quite relieved. Elladan thumbed through the same pages his secretary had, smiling at his father’s long, elegant hand. He found the pages relevant to his brother’s request.

‘Lebennin, Dukes, Lebennin, Earls… Ciril, Erui, Gilrain.
Earl of Girlain, Lord Colwyn, married Eluthil, daughter of Scarthlough, Esquire of Dol Amroth, sired son Calmacil, daughter Cerys, divorced…’


“Divorced,” Elladan commented aloud. Interesting,” he continued to read.

‘…married Darvinia, daughter of Duke Freshet, Tolfalas, sired son Cyrion. Holder of the Stantonhead, estate on the banks of the Gilrain…” Elladan read on, about the lands held, the number of men the Earl could call to muster, the record of his participation in the war. The daughter met a tragic death in Harad, which was interesting, Calmacil served with the Tower Guard and there were no comments about the youngest son. Why Elrohir would think these two sons were of interest was unapparent, lest the traitor had some part to play.

“Your prisoners are unremarkable, brother,” Elladan said.

There was another knock on the door. Amras again.

“These just arrived, my lord. I’ll leave them here, on your bedside table.” Amras carefully placed two pots of honey next to where Elladan sat. He left a small card, as well : “For Lord Elladan Only” written in Elmissir's hand. Without a word, Amras turned and left.

Elladan smiled, and taking up a jar, carefully removed the small lid. Like a naughty child he dipped his finger into the sweet honey and tasted it. “This will do,” he murmured with a smile, “for now.”



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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:43 pm

ooc: later in the evening, after the "fork incident" . . . ;)

IC:

It was nearly time, a mere matter of days now. She had made as many notes as she cared to, all the maps of the intervening mountains were committed to memory (as well as copied into her leather-bound journal), and arrangements for provisions had been made. All that remained was to pass the strongbox and the notes owing to Guilhendar, stow her things in her pack and be off. Of course, there was "that damned Feast" to get through as well. She sighed. At least the food and drink would be memorable. One thing you could count on in Imladris was the excellent quality of Elrond's table, she was certain Elladan would have continued where his father had left off.

She flopped into one of the armchairs by the low fire when a muffled knock sounded on her door. "Come!" she called, too lazy to get up.

Guilhendar entered, his arms filled with what looked like an explosion of some Elven ladies laundry. Elmissir hurried in after him, her eyes sparkling.

"What is all this?" Scribbles asked, instantly suspicious.

"The Feast of Rhîw, Scribe! You should dress up, just this once," Elmissir remarked.

"No," Scribbles answered bluntly.

"El, I told you, this will be just another lost battle," Guilhendar put in.

"Aye, listen to your brother," Scribbles agreed.

Elmissir drew herself up. "Don't give me that 'listen to your brother' nonsense. Scribbles, a dress doesn't bite, why are you afraid to even try one one?"

"I am not afraid," the Scribe replied.

"I think you are."

"I think you're wrong."

Guilhendar carefully laid his burden across a low stool. "And I think I know when it's time to leave." He sketched a bow to the two women and without a backward glance, hurried out. He had an errand of his own.

"Well, I think I'm right," Elmissir smoothly continued the argument. "Otherwise, you'd try one on."

"There is no need to 'try' anything on. I will not wear a dress, Elmissir. Period."

"Ah, you are afraid."

"Very well, oh wisest of the wise. Tell me what exactly I'm afraid of."

Elmissir thought for a moment. "Looking . . . pretty."

Scribbles burst into laughter. "Oh, yes, I completely forgot about that. How stupid of me."

Elmissir flushed, but turned to the pile instead. "How about this one?" she asked sweetly, holding up a ruffled frock of deep crimson, with a scandalously low neckline edged in black beadwork.

Scribbles snorted. "No."

"Fine, something less . . . heavy. How about this?" The next offering was a sleek, body-hugging cream coloured silken dress with a high collar but no sleeves, and slit up one side to mid-thigh.

Scribbles rolled her eyes. "Great Eru's beard. No."

Elmissir sighed. "Fine, something less . . . constricting. Then what to you say to this one?" She held up yet another exquisite creation, a slightly looser, flowing velvet number, black as midnight and set with tiny seed pearls around the moderately low neckline.

Scribbles scowled. "No."

"Well, what then?" the healer asked, dropping down onto the chair opposite to the one where the Scribe sprawled with one long leg stretched towards the fire and the other braced with the knee bent.

"I will not wear a dress," Scribbles answered bluntly. "I have never worn a dress, and I am not about to start now. Besides, I have perfectly serviceable clothes."

"Travel woollens!" Elmissir blurted. "Scribe please, you cannot attend the Feast of Rhîw in your travelling clothes!"

The Scribe chuckled. "I know, I just like to see you attempt this, every time there's some fancy affair in the offing. I never tire of your enthusiasm, not mention your creativity. The dresses are beautiful but you know I will not wear one, so why do you do this to yourself?"

Elmissir pulled a face. "Because I live in hope that someday, you'll change your mind."

Scribbles pulled her legs up and sat up in the chair, then put her arms over her head and stretched. "Not in both our lifetimes," she said, then dropped her arms and pointed to the end of her bed, where a dark, silvery-blue tunic was draped over a straight back chair. "Besides, you have already provided me with something suitable. Remember?"

Elmissir rose, went to the chair and lifted the tunic off, carrying it back to the fireside. She held it up against herself. "Yes, I remember . . . it doesn't look like a mourning shroud." She smiled. "It is quite lovely, are you really going to wear it?"

Scribbles smiled back. "Yes. And I've had Linwe run me up a new set of trousers to match."

"Oh pooh, trousers? Why not a nice long skirt?" Elmissir answered, running her fingers over the delicate embroidered vines and leaves that adorned the wide neck of the tunic.

"Because a skirt is just half a dress," Scribbles shot back, "and . . . "

"I don't do dresses," Elmissir chimed in, grinning. "Ah well, at least you won't look like you're about to rush into battle or hike up the side of a mountain."

"I am so glad you're pleased," Scribbles laughed. "Now do be a love and put that back over the chair so it doesn't get all creased, hmmm?" As Elmissir nodded and moved to comply, Scribbles stretched her bare feet back towards the fire. "What about you?" she asked. "Have you had something new made up, or are you going to annoy your brother again by wearing something painfully plain?"

Elmissir returned to the chair opposite the Scribe and sank down, her eyes dancing. "Actually, I think I'll be annoying my brother yet again, but not with anything 'plain'."

"Oh?" Scribbles asked, one eyebrow rising. "How so?"

"You'll see," Elmissir answered demurely. "But I will tell you that Guil will likely regret all the times he told me to splurge and have something 'new and expensive' made up. Wait until he sees the bill!"

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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:31 am

Elladan stood tall in his full-length mirror, admiring the work of his tailor, Golradir. He stood in a long coat of deep emerald green, delicately embroidered with mithril – taken from his family’s treasury – in patterns of climbing ivy, with a high tab collar and long, bell sleeves and underneath a complementing floor length tunic bound at the waist with a mithril belt

“A little looser across the shoulders, please,” he asked. The Elven tailor moved in, quickly adjusting the fit. Elladan felt a prick of a needle but said nothing. He scanned the elf’s face quickly in the mirror’s reflection. He looked weary, as weary as his warriors looked after a week’s march.

“You must be very busy, Golradir?” These occasions put extra demands on you, I know.”

“I am quite in demand, yes, my lord, but I shall be sure to put my lords’ garments completion ahead of all my other charges,” he replied congenially.

“Of course,” Elladan replied with a smile. “This is a piece of art, Golradir, as all your garments are.”

“You are too kind, my lord,” Golradir said, finishing the adjustment. “There, is that now a better fit?”

Elladan moved his arms, nodding. He turned to the mirror once more. He then cast a glance out of the corner of his eye to a stool near by on which draped a robe and long tunic in deep purple, also worked with mithril but embroidered with stars. It was equally exquisite as the one he wore.

“Yes, its fine. I think however, I shall wear the green and Elrohir the purple,” he said with a tone of finality.

“Excuse me, my lord?”

“I am wearing this,” Elladan repeated. “Ro, I mean Lord Elrohir can wear the purple.”

“But my lord, Master Amras was very explicit, he ordered garments of green for Lord Elrohir and the best purple velvet for yourself. He will be most annoyed with me if…”

Elladan turned and faced the tailor. He arched an eyebrow then forced one corner of his mouth drop. He struck his father’s ‘we are not amused’ pose. Golradir stopped speaking in mid sentence and hastily bowed.

“Of course, my lord, as you say, you look resplendent in the green and my Lord Elrohir will wear purple.” Golradir quickly and silently helped Elladan to change, leaving after giving the Elf Lord another low bow.





Meanwhile, as the hour of the feast approached, all the fine ladies of Imladris were busily preparing and had made note of Amras’ carefully, and verbally, circulated report: Lord Elladan shall be in purple, Lord Elrohir in green…’
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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:31 pm

ooc: Warning . . . BAP Alert . . .

IC:

Guilhendar left his sister and the Scribe to their verbal sparring, knowing full well that his sister would lose, as always, any argument with the peredhel when it came to "dressing up". More than likely, the Scribe would show up at Elladan's big do in her travelling clothes and armed to the teeth or worse, in her black battle leathers. Now, wouldn't that send a few of the more old-fashioned Eldar into fits . . . he chuckled to himself. He should lay a few quiet bets, undoubtably he could turn a handsome profit . . .

So tomorrow night there would be Elladan's "Feast". The day after would see the Scribe's company packing and preparing to leave and at dawn the day after, they would be gone . . . she would be gone . . . His hand went to the breast pocket of the shirt he wore under his belted tunic where the neatly folded page lay, burning the proverbial hole in his pocket. Tonight. It would have to be tonight. He would seek the mists and call for Luinil. He wanted an explanation. No. He deserved an explanation, and he meant to have one. Along with answers to far too many questions . . .

He banked the fire in his room and after changing into a comfortable dressing gown, laid down on his bed, the folded paper carefully tucked into the gown's pocket. Closing his eyes, he let the mists gather.

*****

He waited on the grassy shore of the quiet pool in the mists for what seemed like hours, though he knew it was nothing anywhere near so long. That the Istari would come was not in doubt, but what he would say certainly was. Guilhendar dimpled the water surface idly with the ripe seed head of a long length of dried grass and tried once again to order his thoughts and frame his questions, but to no avail. He could make no sense of what he had learned, and he had a sneaking dread that he was not going to like it any better when or even if, it did make sense.

Luinil finally arrived, a blue mist that coalesced over the water and drifted to the grassy shore as it solidified into the figure of the Istari. A low rock materialized and Luinil sank down upon it, his eyes bright under their shaggy white brows. He pulled a packed but unlit pipe from a pocket in his robe and brandished it. "You've called me away from a particularly good ale-tasting, you know," he said. "The hobbit innkeeper was particularly disappointed when I had to excuse myself and leave."

"But you undoubtably made it up to him by ordering several kegs to take with you on the morrow," Guilhendar shot back with a smile. "Didn't you?"

Luinil chuckled. "Ah, there is no fooling you any more. The consequence of long acquaintance, I suppose." He sobered. "So, tell me . . . why have you called? What is so important, last I heard all preparations for the Scribe's departure have gone well and she hasn't suspected either the Twins or your involvement."

"All has gone well and to the best of my knowledge, the Scribe suspects nothing," Guilhendar agreed. "I, on the other hand, suspect much and understand little. I have called because I want an explanation."

"An explanation?" Luinil echoed. "What of?"

"The Scribe's 'errand'," Guilhendar answered.

The Istari frowned. "But you know as well as I what that is," he replied.

"Humour me," Guilhendar pressed. "Recite the text for me again."

Luinil's eyes narrowed, but he complied. "So shall the last heir, from the line of Valandil, carry the seed and the means of destruction for the one who walks behind the Great Shadow."

"The last heir," Guilhendar stressed. Luinil nodded.

Guilhendar reached into his pocket and drew out the folded page. Wordlessly, he handed it to the Istari.

Luinil stuck the unlit pipe in his teeth and with a quizzical look, took the parchment, unfolded it and scanned it quickly. Guilhendar, watching closely, saw a quick flash of alarm and dismay pass over Luinil's features before his face once again returned to its former mild expression. "Where did you get this?" the mage asked quietly as he refolded the parchment.

"Does it matter?" Guilhendar replied. "Is that what I think it is, and if so, what in Morgoth's Hell is going on?!!"

Luinil turned the folded paper over in his hands several times, then sighed deeply. He reached up and took the pipe from his mouth, returning it to a pocket, still unlit. "Elrond was supposed to destroy this," he said quietly, waving the paper in the air.

Guilhendar gaped. "Then it IS what I suspect it is!" he grated. "WHY do I not know of this??!!! It changes everything!!"

"It changes nothing!" Luinil snapped.

Guilhendar rose to his feet, both hands clenching into fists at his sides. "Doesn't it?" he shot back. "When my parents were killed and you called me to Imladris to meet with you and Lord Elrond, you told me that the one to meet Delkarnoth is the 'last heir' of the Scribe's line. But the closing paragraph of that document clearly says the last MALE heir of the Scribe's line. In case you haven't noticed, she ISN'T MALE!!! She is not the one!! You send her to her death!!!"



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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:42 pm

.

Luinil sighed again and motioned for the tall innkeeper to sit back down. He suddenly looked older and more tired than Guilhendar had ever seen him.

"I know what the document says," he began softly. "And your suspicions are right, it is a true page from the Book of Sauron's Downfall, the original text of the prophecy linked to the Scribe's family. And I noticed right away that the Scribe was not male, the very instant I heard of her birth."

"Then what . . ." Guilhendar sputtered.

Luinil held up a hand, then rose and began to pace the stretch of green grass on the pool's shore. "Her birth was the signal that Delkarnoth's destruction was soon at hand. In all the hundreds of years since Isildur's time, her forefathers always bred a single heir, a single male heir. Never more than one, at least that was named and recorded, and never anything but a son. Just as the text stated. So when she was born, it was obvious. She was not only not fully Númenorean, but she was also certainly not a son. Her birth made her father Telgorin the last male heir. It would fall to him to gather a Blood Hunt, challenge and hopefully defeat Delkarnoth the Black."

"Her father! An Edain . . ." Guilhendar muttered..

"Yes, but Númenorean," Luinil answered, the meaning behind his words clear. "The Scribe comes by her skill honestly, Telgorin was a formidable man with a blade. We were quite confident that with the proper preparation and certain . . . help, he would be more than able to complete the task."

"Then why didn't he?" Guilhendar asked. "Or did the Scribe kill him before he got the chance?"

Luinil shook his head. "No. His death came long after things had begun to fall into ruin." The old man's eyes seemed to turn inward, remembering. His face reflected an old, deep sadness and regret. "He refused," Luinil finished softly.

For the second time, Guilhendar gaped. "He what?!"

Luinil came out of his reverie. "He refused," he repeated. "Oh, he came to Imladris willingly enough when called, but when Lord Elrond and I revealed all to him, he would have nothing to do with it. Said he didn't give 'a flying owl's fart for all that Elven mumbo jumbo and hedge-witch nonsense' and nothing Elrond or I could say or do would convince him. Still, we weren't terribly alarmed at first, we thought that perhaps he'd come around eventually. Unfortunately, before that ever happened, the Scribe did put a sword through his nasty black heart and that was that."

"But how . . . I mean . . . why didn't you or Lord Elrond just gather an army and finish Delkarnoth yourselves?" Guilhendar asked.

"Because that had been tried many times a very long time ago and it always failed utterly," Luinil answered. "Hence the change in tactic, a method of destruction that would be quiet and sharply focused, not large and noisy. A single, highly trained assassin to do the job no army could, which is get inside Delkarnoth's guard and strike with the element of surprise, when he least expects it." Luinil scrubbed one hand over his face. "The very same type of prophecy that was laid on certain other family lines, one family for each of Sauron's farther flung minions." His voice became softer and softer. "Only a very few are of the Edain . . . Aragorn Elessar was not the only one of Númenorean descent with a destiny . . . Gandalf had a hunch, way back . . . almost a vision he said . . . we tried to prepare . . . as much as anyone could, so long ago . . ." He trailed off and came to a halt in his pacing, staring off over the gently steaming waters of the pool.

"And for those "certain" family lines . . ." Guilhendar prompted after a few moments of silence.

"What? . . . Oh, yes," Luinil continued, turning back to face the innkeeper. "For each family line of the Edain, a matching one was chosen from the Eldar . . . to provide a Watcher. Your family was matched to the Scribe's."

"Yes, I know," Guilhendar said, raking one hand through his hair. "But I've always wondered, how was it done?" he asked. "Father never spoke of it."

Luinil shrugged. "It was pure luck really. I believe we all drew straws . . . " he chuckled at Guilhendar's shocked look. "Oh all right, there were hints and suggestions all laid out in a bunch of ancient documents that no one cares about any more, much less could dig up without a lot of trouble. We matched the Eldar based on a whole lot of reasoning and logic that completely escapes me now. Elrond suggested your family watch the Scribe's. Your father was impeccably diligent and came to know most of the Scribe's ancestors quite well. However, with the Scribe's father . . . he was ever appalled at Telgorin's treatment of his own daughter . . . to curse your own flesh and blood . . . " The old man shook his head.


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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:54 pm

.

Once again the silence began to stretch out as Luinil seemed lost in the past.

"But with Telgorin's death . . ." Guilhendar prompted gently.

Luinil sighed, then returned to the image of the rock and sat down heavily. "Yes, yes. All hope was dashed, or so we thought. I went to Minas Tirith to search the Archives for some way, some 'thing' we could do to fix things, while Lord Elrond returned to Imladris to do much the same. You know most of the rest . . . your parents were killed and things seemed to grow even darker. After killing Telgorin the Scribe returned to me and resumed her studies for a time. But she became restless and when she left, she then had the filthiest streak of luck and unfortunately ran into Delkarnoth before . . ."

"Ran into?" Guilhendar interrupted.

"Yes," Luinil answered.

The tall innkeeper snorted. "More like you steered her in his direction, figuring maybe she'd kill the old spider in spite of everything and save you any more lost sleep."

Luinil bristled. "I did nothing of the sort! You know how stubborn she is! She left against all my arguments and advice, before she had truly mastered the sword I gave her!"

"Celebamarth," Guilhendar murmured.

Luinil nodded. "Yes, Celebamarth. I admit, I gifted her with the charmed blade that was to be her father's, I even set it on the hilt of Angamarth, the sword he had given her. I trained her up in the ways of the Istari, the very training her father had scoffed at and refused. But at the time, I did not know . . . not for certain anyway, that it would come to anything. And indeed, when she escaped Delkarnoth and returned to me . . . " Luinil paused, his voice became sadder, quieter . . . "she was . . . like a broken, wild thing. I could think of nothing good that would come of all that had happened. Nothing at all." He fell silent for a few moments, then cleared his throat and continued. "Understand, my concern was for her, not for any damaged prophecy. Her body healed quickly and though her mind and spirit followed, it was much more slowly and painful to watch. Luckily, she eventually threw herself back into study and then, when I had to travel to the East, she disappeared, popping up occasionally in Imladris, which pleased Elrond immensely. Then I heard she'd married and settled in the Greenwood, and we thought that was that."

"Then how did we come to be where we are today?" Guilhendar asked, frowning.

"After Brilhennion was ambushed and killed and the Scribe exiled, she returned to Imladris more often and for longer periods, sometimes staying for decades at a time. She was focused on the need to find her husband's betrayers, avenge his death and clear her name and spent many long days in the Archives. Then one day Elrond sent me an urgent message and when I arrived at Imladris, I understood why." He paused, pulled his pipe from his pocket and lit it, drawing deeply until it caught.

"You see, he had been watching the Scribe whenever she'd take a break from the Archives and spar in the practice arena. He'd heard from his Master At Arms that once she had mastered the halberd, she was now winning every contest of arms, no matter what it was. And while she excelled at everything, it was her bladework that had caught Elrond's attention. So, I went along and watched for myself. I knew right away what Elrond was thinking . . . and it didn't take much for him to convince me that there was still hope, that the Scribe's family line could still be the one to mount the Blood Hunt and destroy Delkarnoth. And after the years of war that followed, when she made a name for herself as one of the most deadly and efficient killers alive, well, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that we were being presented with one more chance to see this done."

"But you didn't tell her, because you were afraid she'd refuse, just like her father," Guilhendar stated, his voice flat.

"In a way," Luinil agreed. "We decided that we may have made a mistake in approaching Telgorin, instead of simply guiding him to the necessary confrontation. But even so, he had no personal stake in seeing Delkarnoth destroyed, whereas the Scribe . . ."

"Has every reason to want him dead," Guilhendar finished. He looked up at Luinil angrily. "Why didn't you tell me all this?" he growled. "Why have you left me unaware of this game you play, this . . . this . . . cheap trickery! All the years I spent at her side in war; all these decades we've believed she was the actual one . . . only now to learn she is a stand-in? A piece on a board, being moved about and used, like a pawn . . ."

"Because if we had told you, you would have had to add yet another lie to your tally," Luinil interrupted gently. "Which you will have to do now. She cannot know any of this Guilhendar, though I fear she already suspects more than I am comfortable with. To know the full truth of this would only enrage her and destroy her motivation utterly. She would curse us all for blackhearts and disappear into the wastes of Rhudaur, and then any chance of seeing Delkarnoth destroyed would disappear with her."

The tall innkeeper stopped to mull this over, his face stony. "I think you're wrong. I think she'd still go and try to kill the old spider for revenge alone . . . for what he did to her, for what he forced her to become. Just as she killed her own father for the death of her mother and how his curse had forced her to a solitary life. Though, for all the good it did her . . . " he trailed off.

Luinil remained silent. There were still so many things that had to remain secret. He cleared his throat before speaking up again.

"Yes well, judge me for a meddlesome old fool if you will, but the fact remains that the Scribe, for whatever reason, has taken up the Blood Hunt of her own volition and Delkarnoth's end is truly within reach. I will do whatever I must to see this through."

"Do the Twins know of this?" Guilhendar asked bluntly.

"No," Luinil answered. "They believe as you did and it would be best for all concerned if it remains that way. Lord Elrond felt that it would be wisest all 'round if the alternative the Scribe presented continued to be seen as the "genuine" fulfilment of Delkarnoth's destruction. That is why Lord Elrond was supposed to destroy this." Luinil held up the paper and in the next twin heartbeats, it burst into flame and fell into ash. "Nor can you tell your sister any of this. It must remain between you and I alone."

"And Master Celemtar? Surely the Master Archivist . . ."

"No," Luinil bit off sharply, then his tone softened. "No, not even he. Truly, only myself, Lord Elrond and now you know the whole truth of this, and it must remain this way. Trust me, Guilhendar. Absolutely everything depends on it."

Guilhendar's broad shoulders slumped as he closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. Somewhere, he could hear birds singing. A freshening breeze stirred the surface of the pool. Back in Imladris, the sun was preparing to rise.

Finally, he blew out the breath and nodded. "I understand," he said heavily, "though it does not make my burden any lighter."

"Knowledge like this and the responsibility that goes with it rarely does," Luinil answered gently. "I am relying on you Watcher," he added. "Do not fail me now."

Guilhendar looked up, his eyes haunted. "Have I ever?" he asked softly, then turned and left the mists, and the Istari's already fading image, behind.


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Postby Bardhwyn » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:50 pm

Perhaps it was weariness or perhaps it was just a momentary lapse into weakness - Elrohir chose to sleep in his rooms at the Main House rather than on the hard cot in his barrack quarters. He walked slowly, his leathers and clothes still quite sodden from the daylong rain that now, in these small hours of the morning, had finally ceased. The air was cool and the grounds quiet save for the hooting of a white-faced owl that called out into the dark, as if welcoming him home – and he was pleased to be home.

His warriors had been tended to, to the last elf. Taradѐath’s group of healers worked quickly, efficiently, administering the last of Celeborn’s timely cure and within an hour of returning to Imladris, Elrohir had seen to each, ensured they were resting comfortably and he clasped each by the hand before taking his leave, thanking them for their commitment and service.

He looked down at his right hand as he paced the distance between the barracks and the Main House. He recollected the day his father grasped his wrist and held the self-same hand up firmly into Elrohir's face saying: “This is the tool of leadership, Elrohir but this,” his father released his grasp and lightly tapped the center of Elrohir’s forehead, “this is what guides it. Use this first, always.” His father then jabbed the center of his forehead forcefully, as if willing the point home into his son’s mind.


The healer, Taradѐath accompanied the Prince, walking silently behind, leaving the Elf Lord to his thoughts. Yet the flexing of Elrohir’s hand concerned him.

“Are you in pain, my lord?” he asked.

Elrohir stirred from his thoughts. “No, Taradѐath. Just recollecting something my father told me.”

“Forgive me then, I disturbed your thoughts.”

“Nothing to forgive. You’ve spared some of Celeborn’s remedy for me, I warrant?”

“Aye, my lord, a sufficient quantity to see you fit and hale in time for this evening.”

“This evening?”

“The Feast of Rwîh, my lord…”

“Oh, yes.” Elrohir shook his head slightly. A party. “With all the demands of chasing down bandit hoards and securing the safety of our people and our Edain cousins, why … the importance of the occasion had escaped me…”

“Yes, my lord,” Taradѐath replied, smiling.

Elrohir adjusted the black leather satchel that hung at his hip; the unexpected prize lifted from the Barding Traitoress. Like him, its leather was soaked but the contents inside were dry and waiting to be translated, deciphered, studied. What portents did it contain? The Barding clasped it to her like a child and was prepared to ride through an ambush to deliver it - and now the Elves had it.

Elrohir resisted the urge to begin immediately, once in the Family Quarters, lay all the papers out on his desk, piece together what was inside; he knew, however, he was in dire need of rest and cure. “Once in my rooms, I think a bath is in order, first Taradѐath. You’ll have to wait before you can begin supplying your cure.”

“Yes, my lord, I wholeheartedly encourage you in that.”

“What? Do I smell?”

Taradѐath kept pace with Elrohir, with eyes down. He said nothing but smiled ever so slightly.

Elrohir gave a bark of a laugh. “You’ve missed your calling, Taradѐath! You should be in governance, like my brother; you know how to say much without saying anything at all!”

“Ah, thank you, my lord, I think…”

To his extreme pleasure a bath was waiting for him. Elrohir took his time and allowed the hot water to soak into his muscles and bones and only left at Taradeath urging; he was eager to administer Celeborn’s cure.

Having drank the potion and allowed the poultices to do their work, Elrohir noticed an almost immediately improvement. While Taradѐath worked, he’d also plied him with questions about the return trip and any news from the other Elven scouting parties, and of course, he asked after Elladan’s health.

“He fairs well, my lord,” Taradѐath replied, “remarkably well, all things considered, though I fear he shall forever bear a faint scar where the battle axe fell. The poisoned water did its work.”

“It will intrigue the ladies…” Elrohir said wickedly and watched as Taradѐath stifled a laugh. “Is there ‘a lady’, Taradѐath? When I left he was somewhat interested in the sister of Guilhendar.”

“I think his ‘interest’ has grown a pace, my lord,” Taradѐath replied, tying off a fresh bandage on the Prince’s arm “it is now grown into a ‘strong partiality’.”

“Hmm, well,” Elrohir replied, “we’ll see how long this one lasts. Next month, it will be someone else, mark me…”

“Duly noted, my lord. Care to place a wager on that?”

Elrohir laid his bets, confident he’d make good, for Elladan was always changing his ‘partialities’ as often as his shirt - he bid the healer good night.

As for Guilhendar’s sister – she certainly deserved better than a life in an Edain watering hole in the middle of nowhere, but becoming consort to his brother? Somehow he just couldn’t see it.

Elrohir opened the door to his wardrobe and groaned. There hanging prominently was a beautiful, new tunic and robe in deep purple, worked meticulously with mithril stars.

He hung his robe, slammed the door shut and threw himself onto his bed.

“Elladan, damn you, you know I dislike the color purple…” he murmured before drifting into the mists.


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Last edited by Bardhwyn on Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:17 pm

On a distant mountain overlooking the valley of Rivendell, two sharp, far-seeing eyes watched the party enter the valley. He had seen everything, the sons of Elrond, the traitoress, the elves and their companions. And he pondered what it all meant.

Darkness was gathering again, too soon after the fall of the Dark Tower, when all evil was to be vanquished, or so it was said. The shadow was not to rise for another age, but it was. And his bretheren were already afar off, enjoying the company of their ancient kin in the eyries of Taniquetil, where he wished he had gone.

If not for the call of that wretched Adan. Who had not intended to call him.

But Landroval, the last of the Great Eagles to remain in Middle-Earth, thought hard about this. Was it, after all, the decree of the Valar, that he should remain behind, to do the deeds that the Last Eagle would be remembered by? He wondered.

He didn't know why he had given the feather to Radesh, but it seemed destined. A token, by which he would be called again in time of deep distress. A time the Eagle knew was coming.

He would watch, and listen, but out of sight, not too close. Not until the time.

And he thought, that time would come sooner than any dreamed.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:05 am

BAP! BAP! BAP!

Meanwhile, somewhere in the wastes of the north, in the few dark hours still before the dawn...



Harlond threw another log onto the fire. He rocked it gently with his booted foot, grinding it into the embers underneath, causing sprays of sparks to dance and flit up the wide chimney.

He was alone, something that happened more often than not since ‘the battle’; he’d lost so many men. What few Clansmen that were left stayed clear of him and he didn’t fault them; he’d been a right son of harridan. Miserable, even – and they didn’t fault him, he as still the Chief - but thanks to some rotten luck and host of elves everything they’d … no, he’d built … it had all gone to hell.

Yet this deserted post-station and stable of his still stood; the horses were gone but the Harlond-stablemen didn’t torch the place when he left - which was a boon – and the emergency food stores were untouched – another boon. The dregs of Clan Harlond had taken refuge in it and every day one or two more stragglers would stumble upon the place. Harlond now had a Clan of twelve. Just twelve.

He dropped into the hardback chair he’d set before the fire and leaned over, dropping his face into his hands. So many careful plans, now in ruins. He pressed his dark grey eyes hard, as if trying to force his thoughts into a coherent stream but it was useless. He was exhausted and he knew they couldn’t stay there for very much longer. They were on the run and they were beaten. What now? Where to next?

Seyden, the Gondorian bandit and Harlond’s only ally, had spent the better part of the day and evening urging Harlond to go south, where Harlond’s wits would be appreciated, where his subtlety could be put to good use. “You know how to maneuver in and around people and organizations, Harlond,” the man had said. “You would do very well for yourself and your own down on the coast. You could give ‘The Great Man’ a headache and a half. We could work together, Harlond – you and I.”

‘The Great Man’ – Raisha’s epithet, that cowardly dog. The notion of giving Raisha more than just a headache was growing in its appeal the longer Harlond sat alone in front of his fire. With every passing hour Seyden’s words seemed to make more and more sense. Go south, pick a town, and build again. But Harlond was missing one important thing - the Barding’s advice. Were she there she’d been at his ear already, speaking her calm, clear words. But she wasn’t there. Harlond was alone.


Seyden had arrived the day before, battle weary and with only four men of his own left; Harlond embraced his ally and they drank to the dead, the fallen and the missing. “Your Number One?” Seyden asked quietly. Harlond could only shake his head. “The Barding, she… ah, she hasn’t been seen,” Harlond finally said, croaking his words hoarsely. “Thar?” Seyden then asked. Harlond shook his head a second time. Seyden took hold of Harlond’s arm and gave the man a grave, but knowing nod. “I lost my second, as well,” Seyden replied, “damn Elves.”

“Damned elves,” Harlond repeated. Seyden then went to great lengths to describe the battle – what he could remember of it; his recollection of the beginning was hazy but he was very clear in recalling the end: how Carnad had fought – almost defeating the Clan, how Seyden’s men rallied and pushed them back, how Carnad fell – then the Elves came.

“Damned Elves,” Harlond muttered into the dark.

The cottage was quiet – Seyden and one of the women were upstairs, Harlond had set a watch, on both a close and far perimeter, and he ordered the rest of the clan to sleep in the barn. No drinking, either. They might need to leave in a hurry so anyone found drunk would be left where they lay.

The log burned and crumbled to chunks of thick red embers but Harlond’s thoughts were no clearer; just a jumble of regrets, frustrated plans and winsome hopes.

One of his men rushed in, throwing the door wide open as he entered. He was winded, having run the entire way from the outer watch post.

“Chief! It’s Thar! He’s coming up the path… as sure as my mother’s a whore in hell! Thar’s alive!”

“Who else? How many has he got with him?” Harlond was on his feet.

“Eight, nine maybe…one other on horseback…”

“Is it Number One? Is it?”

“No sir, no… it’s Gravar, the Southron.”

Harlond turned his back rather then let his man see his disappointment. He pressed himself upright, put on a scowl and turned back ‘round. “Go on, get back to your post and keep a sharp eye out, in case they’re being followed… stay sharp! Run, you arse-hat, go!”

Harlond followed the man out, walking out into the small morning hours and the lifting gloom. Down the darkened path he could make out the shadowy forms of his men approaching; they walked slowly, some staggering as they slumped along. Thar pulled up in front of his Chief and dismounted slowly.

“Harlond,” Thar said with some surprise, “Gods, you’re alive….”

“‘Course I’m ALIVE. You think I was dead? Me? Think I’m that stupid?”

Thar shook his head. “No, no…its just our camp, there was nothing left…”

“Yeah, I know – burned. Everything! The dim-witted, peon toads! After all we gave those people? Those stinking, peat-hole villagers! They had nothing! NOTHING until I got there and then they go burn us out. And you,” Harlond took hold of a fistful of Thar’s tunic and backed him to the cottage wall, “what have you got to say for yourself, eh? What the hell happened? WHAT?!”

“We lost, that’s what happened,” Thar barked, pushing Harlond off him.

“I know that, you think I don’t know that!” Harlond hollered. “Stinking Elves and Carnad, that skunk…”

“He got his in the end, he’s dead…”

“I know that too…” Harlond retorted.

“Well, if you know every damned thing, why are you asking me what happened?” Thar yelled. He walked a few paces away, dragging his hands through his hair. “Morgoth’s balls, Harlond! I’ve been looking for you bloody every where, thinking you’re dead and when I find you, you jump me?”

Harlond held his hands up, and took a few deep breaths. “I don’t know everything. Only the end… tell me the beginning. I need to know what happened from the beginning.”

“You really don’t know?” Thar asked, amazed. “What? Are we the only ones who made it back? … Are we?”

“No, but I don’t get much sense from the ones here…” Harlond replied.

Thar dropped himself down on a sawed tree trunk and buried his face in his hands. “Sweet Eru… this is us? How many are we?”

“Twenty, maybe.” Harlond answered. He walked to where Thar sat, put a hand on his arm and stood him up. “I won’t ask again: Tell me what happened.”

Thar rubbed his face with his free hand and brought the words together in his tired mind. “The plan was working – we knew it was risky but it was working! She had it just about right. We split our forces - Number One attacked the tunnel, I took the rear - and we did it, we had him by the balls, Harlond,” Thar looked directly into Harlond’s grey eyes. “We had won – Carnad was as good as done for! But there were these men, black clad fighters, trained assassins, almost - they were bloody demons. They just didn’t die… Then the damn Elves came out of nowhere…”

“And Number One. Where is she? What happened?”

“She’s gone,” Thar said quietly.

“What?”

“Gone,” Thar repeated, angrily.

“Is she… dead? Tell me!”

“I don’t know, I don’t think so…”

Harlond pushed his lieutenant back against the same wall. “What do you mean you don’t know – where is she?”

“I got her out of there!” Thar barked. “I put her on her horse and sent her off - I saved her, yeah?! I couldn’t just let her… She was hurt pretty bad, one of the black warriors just wouldn’t stop - he’d picked her out, practically killed her but she kept her feet… she fought back… gave as good as she got. Then I saw it, he clipped her good on the head with his sword hilt and she dropped… a group of us rallied round her… I dragged her out, got her on her horse and sent her off. She wouldn’t have survived if she didn’t go, she was too beat up – I had to get her out, Harlond. I couldn’t let her die there.” Thar fell quiet, remembering every moment: the noise, the blood, and Bardhwyn semi-conscious, barely able to stay seated on her horse.

“No. You did what I would’ve wanted you to do,” Harlond said. His lips curled into a sneer. “And you? How is it you live and breathe, Thar?” Harlond’s tone had changed from conciliatory to snide within seconds.

Thar jerked his arm free. “Just did what you taught me, Chief – he who fights and runs away – yeah? Lives to kick arse another day? Isn’t that right? I ain’t ashamed to say it - those Elves showed up and a bunch of us, we ran. Ran for our ever loving lives. They came out of the trees; horns blaring like something out of a damn history book – armor, helmets. They were fighting all of us and they were fresh! We weren’t! Stars! I didn’t realize how they could fight – before we were always the same side, fighting with, not against! It was over as soon as their horns started. And Seyden’s mercs, those black warriors, thank the Gods! They lost interest in us and damned if they didn’t swarm two of those Elves! Just two! Damnedest thing I ever saw…

“What? What did you say?” Harlond asked, his voice like ice.

“That scum, Seyden, and his mercenaries – those black clad demons, they turned on the Elves after they’d turned on us - Elves took them on and freed us up so we ran…”

Wait – those fighters, they were Seyden’s and they turned … on you?

“Damn right – he turned on us – had turned Number One before I even got there. She was fighting Carnad - and had him! And then Seyden turned on her – I got there just in time - he turned on her just as she got the upper hand on Carnad - damn close thing. The skunk turned on us…”


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Last edited by Bardhwyn on Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:12 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:07 am

cont...


Harlond took a few staggering steps back. Everything Thar said helped Harlond piece together all he had heard from his surviving men, who, in their fear and delirium, could only relate their small part of the battle, their fear-ridden and fight driven memories. Seyden’s smooth words earlier in the day had set everything he’d heard at odds. None of it made sense to Harlond, until now – and he knew Thar to be a lot of things, but a liar wasn’t one of them – but Seyden, on the other hand…

“He lied to me…” Harlond murmured.

“Who, Seyden? Hell, yes! She always said he was a skunk…”Thar added. “She warned me, warned you… said he couldn’t be trusted.”

“He lied…every word,” Harlond murmured again. “He was with Carnad the whole time…”

“Harlond - I saw his men take down the last of Carnad’s men! No, no! He was on his own side the entire time! And Raisha, that southern pig, he never showed…for all his slimy promises…”

“Yeah, I know… that’s it – he was working with that southern weasel!” Harlond said, speaking through clenched teeth. He walked off into the center of the small path, both hands atop his bald head, muttering: “Seyden, that little maggot… that little scheming hack! What game he played… what a gamble… us against Carnad- who’s ever left standing fights Raisha and whose ever left after that… takes the prize, everything… what a breath taking, huge effing gamble.”

“But the Elves came …” Thar tossed in.

“Yeah, then the pointy eared motherless paps showed up! Yes! And they had to have been tipped off? How else would a troop of Rivendell elves just show up? They had to have set off a week before. How the hell did they know?"

Thar shook his head, the dizzying realities of all that transpired clouding his exhausted head. He dropped back down onto his tree-trunk seat. “I dunno, I dunno… maybe one of Carnad’s people, or one of Seyden’s…they got word to the Elves…”

“Or maybe Seyden himself,” Harlond said, looking into the cottage through the open front door. Thar lifted his head and stared in disbelief.

“Or myself what?” Seyden asked, sauntering into the cottage’s doorway, a half dressed clans-woman under his arm, her hair tousled. “I heard my name. Is there any ale, Harlond? I’ve been worked into a mighty thirst…”

Thar pushed back onto his feet, his face betraying both his shock and his abject fury. Seyden stopped in his tracks.

“Thar!” he said with a smile of relief. “You’re alive, man! I thought you’d been captured or worse…”

“Oh, no, I am very much alive, as you can see – no thanks to you,” Thar said, “you snake…” He tried to lunge but was held back by Harlond’s firm hand on his shoulder.

“Thar was just telling me about what happened, Seyden, the whole battle – the real one, and how we were double crossed – and maybe it was you who double crossed us, you piece of crap,” Harlond said coldly. “Maybe even you brought those damned Elves down on us…”

“Now Harlond, hold on my friend – don’t jump to hasty conclusions,” Seyden faltered slightly as the clans-woman abandoned him, her eyes wide with confusion. “Carla, wait…now don’t think…Thar is tired, it’s been an ordeal for us all…” Seyden stepped from the door, into the yard, the picture of friendship; he smiled, he held his arms wide.

“You turned on us,” Thar barked. “I saw you… and those black warriors, those demons… who were they?” He pulled on Harlond’s hold like a mad dog on a lead.

“No, no! I was the one betrayed, my man turned on me,” Seyden said pleadingly. “He hired those mercenaries, it was his doing… I was trying to regain control…those black warriors fought my men as well, you know…”

“Regain control? You were regaining control?” Thar was almost shrieking with rage, “When you hacked through Arvel where he stood? Was that ‘regaining control’?”

“Arvel? I don’t know any Arvel. Did I kill one of yours? I didn’t realize! One of your own? I was in the midst of the fighting! It was chaos when my man turned against me! I didn’t realize…”

“And when I got Number One on her horse, was it a ‘regaining control’ when you ordered two of your men to ride after her? I dropped them both, myself! With an arrow in each of their backs…”

“That was you!? Thar! I was sending an escort with her! To keep her safe!” Anger flashed across Seyden’s face, almost as if on cue. “Right… I see how it is. You’re trying to blame me for your bad planning and failed efforts… you hypocrite! You accuse me of your man’s death then you murder two of my men without provocation....”

“Your men, your ‘escort’ were stabbing their blades at her!” Thar growled. “Come on then, you two-faced slime! I’ll rip your lying throat out…”

It was Harlond who swung, clipping Seyden firmly on his chin with his balled fist. The man’s head snapped ‘round and he staggered backwards, tripping over a pile of rubble and debris.

“Nobody crosses me,” Harlond snarled.

Seyden face hardened, his eyes were stone. There were no more words left to lie with. He turned tail and ran. His men heard his horse gallop off and dashed out from the abandoned stables in time to see Seyden, barely keeping his seat, sitting bareback astride his horse as he fled down the overgrown path. That was the last thing they saw; with a word Harlond set his few remaining men on them.

Thar was mounted within seconds, prepared to give chase, but Harlond grabbed hold of his reins.

“He’s getting away!” Thar cried.

“Let him go,” Harlond barked.

“He’s got to pay!”

“He will, in time – I’ll see to it,” Harlond said. “Long game, Thar! LONG GAME!”

“You’re effing crazy, you are,” Thar said trying to calm his horse. “Long game? Are you serious? We’re done, Harlond – you’re done!” He felt Harlond’s large hand grasp his tunic front and then felt the hard ground underneath him as the wind rushed from his lungs. The hard right hook across his face was a little added extra.

“Don’t talk to me like that, you Chetwood piece of crap,” Harlond snarled. “I’m still your Chief, always your Chief.” Harlond pulled Thar to his feet. “Now you are going eat something and then go find the Barding,” he snarled. “Dead, alive, I don’t care – find her. Bring her back to me, Thar. ”


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