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 SilverScribe » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:55 pm

ooc: earlier that afternoon, in the regular Archives . . .

Guilhendar headed for the public Archives of Imladris when he parted from the Scribe at the quiet pool. He expected that Elladan would have finished putting together the information he had for the Scribe, and that Amras would undoubtably be looking for him to pass it on. The Archives would be the most sensible place for them both . . .

He arrived at the Archives and found it as it usually was at this time of any typical day, quietly occupied by a few elves and of course, the Master Archivist. Since Lord Elrond had sailed West, the building saw far less activity, but there were still a substantial number of Eldar that yet delayed leaving, and found the Archives an ideal place for quiet research, study and reflection. Guilhendar found the Master Archivist standing by a document covered table in his alcove, a booklined room off to one side that while open to the central section of the Archives, yet retained an air of privacy. He was not surprised to find Amras standing at the table as well.

"Ah, Master Guilhendar," the Archivist smiled, "do come in. We've been expecting you and here you are." Guilhendar bowed respectfully to the Master Archivist, then nodded a warm greeting to Amras. "I hope I have not kept you waiting overlong?" he asked quietly.

Amras shook his head. "Not at all my . . . Master Guilhendar, I only arrived a short time ago myself. Lord Elladan asked me to deliver this to the Master Archivist, and so I have." He tapped a thick leather portfolio, tied with a thin leather thong that was lying in pretty much the only substantial clear space on the table. "Master Celemtar and I were merely catching up, more or less. I really should get back to Lord Elladan." With this, he sketched a shallow bow and left.

The Master Archivist smiled at Guilhendar. "So, what is all this and where am I to store it?" he asked, the light of eternal curiosity sparkling in his dark eyes. Though he had been at Imladris as long as Guilhendar could remember, no trace of grey marred his sleek dark hair and few, if any lines appeared at the corners of his eyes when he smiled.

Guilhendar smiled and reached for the thick portfolio. "All this, as you put it, is some information that Lord Elladan wishes to store here so that it is accessible and doesn't get lost in the shuffle in his office," he answered lightly. "It's boring stuff really, troop movements in the East, clan activities in the northern and western parts of Rhudaur, that sort of thing."

The Archivists eyes narrowed. "Ah, and no doubt a good bit of information on that black-hearted scum of a Noldorian mage, unless I miss my guess," he said softly. "Oh, don't look so surprised, there is very little that escapes my notice," he added with a smile. "Lord Elrond relied quite heavily on me in his day, to keep things straight and moving apace and his son is no different. Do not worry, I know what is afoot and what the stakes are, as well as the rules of the game. But you never heard it from me." His eyes twinkled again.

Guilhendar chuckled softly, the old rogue was actually enjoying this bit of cloak and dagger. "Of course, I suppose I should have known," he replied. "And you're right, Lord Elladan did promise some recent intelligence on Delkarnoth as well. So, my next question is, where will you store this so that it is not obvious to anyone but the Scribe?"

Master Celemtar chuckled in his turn. "Oh, the Scribe has a favourite alcove here, in what most everyone else considers the absolute most boring, useless and thus absolutely unfrequented part of the Archives. I doubt nothing but the odd carpet beetle ever visits it besides her."

"The Dwarven section," Guildhendar laughed, "of course."

"Of course," agreed the Archivist. "We'll review the material and then arrange it so that no one but the Scribe will notice the new additions."

"But the Scribe will notice that this has nothing to do with the Dwarves or their history," Guilhendar objected. "I don't see how . . . "

"The Scribe has her own bit of personal reasearch storage there," the Archivist interrupted. "We've had 'an arrangment' for many centuries now. I'll just slip this in with the rest and when she asks, because she will, I'll simply tell her I came across it in a pile of other stuff that got sent here for storage and knowing her interest in Delkarnoth's movments, I figured she'd want to see it. I will, of course, plead ignorance as to the source. One advantage to being a practical fixture here is that she respects me far too much to question my word."

"So you'll lie to her?" Guilhendar asked, mildly shocked but not entirely surprised.

"Indeed. However, I like to think of it less as 'lying' and more as 'protecting' her from a truth she is not supposed to know anyway. I would also venture to guess that the end in this case, will more than justify the means, if you get my meaning."

Guilhendar nodded. "Aye, I do," he answered heavily. "But I really cannot wait until this business is concluded, one way or the other."

The Archivist patted his arm as he nodded at the portfolio. "As do I. Now, let's see what we have and then see about putting it in the Scribe's way."

***

Guilhendar was impressed with the amount and depth of the information Elladan had gathered and supplied. There was material on Clan activity, clearly documented in both concise reports and on well-marked maps, along with every kind of information on still suspicious activities in the East. There were also several documents that contained a wealth of reported observations relating to Delkarnoth the Black and all that he was suspected of having his hands in, and his movements to date. The latest of these reports confirmed that he had taken to his Citadel some months back and had not moved from it since. Guilhendar sighed. The Noldorian probably knew the long wait was over as well.

He left Celemtar to his "filing", knowing that the Master Archivist would arrange the material perfectly to catch the Scribe's attention without, hopefully, arousing too much suspicion. And it was getting late, if the setting sun was any indication. He decided to see how Elmissir had fared with the Scribe's company and then see if he couldn't lure her way from all those pesky Edain long enough to have a proper dinner in the Hall. Whistling softly to himself, he made for the Ivy Gardens and quietly let himself into her rooms . . .

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Postby Rodia » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:10 pm

If Garia was surprised, it was because the kiss missed his lips. Still, he smiled, careful not to trouble the lovely Elf. "Do you thank your garden for smelling sweetly when you visit it?" he borrowed and mangled a verse from a ballad he had once heard. "Or the sun for shining brightly on you? My lady, you bring out the best in all that you touch." With that he let his free hand wander until it found a pleasant resting place on the Elf's lower back.

Elmissir's hands dropped from Garia's cheeks to his shoulders. "And you never fail to say just the right thing," she answered, the smile on her lips reaching up into her eyes. She felt the gentle pressure of his free hand and leaned against him. "Tell me, just how long is the trail of broken hearts behind you?" she asked playfully.

Garia laughed, but there was a nervous note in his voice. "So like a healer, to be concerned about aching hearts," he teased Elmissir in return, wishing she would stop talking and bob up for that kiss. No girl before her had made such a fuss of walks and talks, and of playing with words as if they were pawns on a board. Still, she was delightful, and worth a hundred of those that kissed without asking for a name. A little patience wasn't much to give, Garia decided, and so kept on smiling. "But there's a heart right here, aching very much, and in dire need of your kindness. Don't you care about that?"

"Of course I care about that," Elmissir answered. Her expression changed from playful to perplexed. "But tell me, why is your heart aching? Don't worry about your friend the Hillman, he is healing very well and will make a full recovery. The same can be said of the Southron too, though he doesn't appear as robust as Master Radesh, he has a wiry strength that will see him through very well." She paused, her brows drawn slightly together, then suddenly her expression cleared. "Ah, I know! It is the Easterling, Htiet that you worry for. Again, though his wounds are grievous he has already responded well to Taradeath's ministrations; another of your company that has shown remarkable strength and resilience . . ." She ran down, then looked up at Garia with clear surprise. "Surely, you are not concerned for the Scribe?" she asked.

"Uh..." Having the whole party named put Garia in a state of suspicion, and he glanced over his shoulder as if expecting to see them standing there, Radesh up front with a frown on his face. He gave a nervous laugh and ran his hands up to where they could fiddle with the threads of Elmissir's collar. "I, uh, worry, naturally, I worry about all the men...and, hm, women, in the party...but not at all while they are in your good hands," he wrought the words around with some difficulty, barely keeping in a comment about Scribe's resilience resembling that of a sturdy doorstop. Elmissir, meanwhile, had a mind that forever strayed to the wrong trail. Garia was beginning to feel restless. "There are other worries to have, my lady. Other...well, hopes," he smiled. Would she take the hint? Of course she would, the proper question was, where? "Hopes that concern only the two of us," he added, just to be sure.

"Hopes . . . that concern the two of . . . us?" Elmissir echoed as the Scribe's oft repeated mantra went through her mind . . . "Care for any mortal at your peril." A sobering and saddening thought, to be sure. "Garia . . . " she began then paused, biting her lip. How to put such a delicate matter? "Oh bother," she murmured, then put her head down against the brigands chest for a moment. When she looked back at him, her eyes were sad. "There is so little time, a matter of weeks before the Scribe will leave Imladris," she said. "What hopes can there be for you and I, a mortal and an Eldar, in such a short span of days? Hopes that if fulfilled, would not ruin the honour of us both . . ." she trailed off, blushing.

"I don't have to go with the Scribe," Garia was happy to put in. The Elf looked puzzled even when he smiled to reassure her. "She doesn't even count me as one of her party! It's all a bit of a wild coincidence, Elmissir...but I can stay here." Still she frowned, as if she didn't believe, so he pouted to mock her. "Mortals and Elves, good grief, the world has seen stranger things. Chin up! Are you worried they'll run me off? Look, I'll behave. No more breaking furniture. They won't find a spot on me."

Elmissir sighed and kissed Garia gently again, this time on the lips. "No, I am not worried about Lord Elladan or Elrohir running you off," she said softly, "for I would not allow it." She sighed, one part of her relieved at Garia's claims regarding the Scribe. However, the other part of her still nagged. "But Garia, it is . . . complicated," she continued. "You see, the Eldar are . . . well . . . you see . . . " She took a deep breath. There was nothing for it but to be honest. "Please understand, these are not matters usually discussed outside Eldar circles . . . but well, when an Elf becomes . . . serious, involved . . . you know what I mean . . . it means . . . well, it means we would be considered 'mates' . . . and you see, well, the Eldar mate for life . . . " She swallowed, feeling the heat in her cheeks rise once more. "I am not so sure that is something I could enter into lightly . . . with another Eldar much less an Edain . . . and, and, well . . . it's just . . . it's not an easy thing." She stopped, embarrassed and at a loss for anything else to say.

While she spoke, Garia was already readying himself to comfort her. Having barely listened to what she said he gave her the kindest of looks and drew her closer to plant a soothing kiss on her forehead. "Of course it's not an easy thing, darling." He sighed and made a miserable grimace over her head, realising that there would be no more than kisses that day. When he drew back to face her again, he was all smiles. "They're never easy, these things. They take time...you've got a lot of time, don't you?" It was not a good joke. Elmissir looked troubled. Garia cleared his throat. "We...uh...Edain...we mate for life, too." He couldn't give his face a convincing expression, twisting it around the other half of the truth: for life, but not always on the first try. And worse, as soon as the words were out of his mouth a dreadful fear began to grow in his heart, a little voice screaming in disbelief at what he had just said. "But we're just...there's no harm in a bit of fun, is there? You don't have to make any decisions just yet!" Garia found himself pulling away from the Elf. He still tried to smile but was feeling his grin growing stale. The little voice screamed louder and louder. What did you just tell this girl?

"A bit of fun? No, of course there's no harm in having fun, I mean, even my brother tells me that to work non-stop is not good for anyone," she answered with a cautious smile. "There's always something going on in the practice arena, if you feel like drawing a bow in friendly competition . . . and every few weeks someone holds an evening of tales and songs in the Feasting Hall, and there's horses if you feel like riding and, well, plenty of other things that aren't 'work'." Even as she spoke, she felt a definite cooling in Garia's demeanor. She decided to keep it light. "I'm glad you understand . . . things . . and you're right. There's no rush, at least, not for the moment." She reached for the other basket as another thought occurred to her. "So, will you ask to see Lord Elladan and request an extended stay here?"

Tales and songs in the Feasting Hall, she said. And there was no rush. Garia tried to give her a smile, but it came out crooked and insincere. "Well, when I said fun, I meant..." He gave up on the rest of the sentence. The herbs of the garden no longer smelled as sweet and the dizzying moment was gone. Holding back a sigh, Garia reached for Elmissir's hand and pulled her gently along one of the paths until they fell into a leisurely stroll. "I think I might need you to put in a good word for me. I don't think Lord Elladan is as fond of me as you are."

A feeling of panic washed through her at Garia's suggestion. Elladan! How would she be able to 'put in a good word' for Garia without arousing Elladan's curiosity or worse, his anger. A sinking feeling followed, she was in a pretty pickle now. If she pleaded Garia's case with Elladan, he would undoubtably think the very worst of her, and if she refused, Garia would likely think a whole lot less of her as well. She walked with him for a few moments in panicked silence, trying desperately to think of something, anything to say that wouldn't come out sounding lame or an outright lie. She decided honesty was the best policy, no matter how uncomfortable it made her. She kept her eyes on the path in front of them.

"I suppose I could," she answered, "but I think Lord Elladan's fondness for me, as you put it, may present its own sort of difficulties."

"What? Do you mean to say he doesn't think that you are the jewel of this dwelling, and that the Sun and Stars shine only for your pleasure? Well, I don't want to insult the good Lord Elladan, but there are no compliments I can pay him if that's the case!" Garia teased, but he was curious and secretly delighted to know that at least one Elf in Imladris would not be his rival. He smiled at the mischief. "You must have scorned him very badly, my lady. Or is he just that much of a fool?"

"Scorned him?" Elmissir answered. "Oh, no no, I haven't scorned Lord Elladan at all, and while he may be called many things, a fool isn't one of them. What I mean is, well, he's expressed rather keen interest in my company as well, and . . . um, I think that's what may cause the difficulties . . . " Suddenly, the air seemed too close and the path too rough, the basket bumped painfully against one shin. She pushed a strand of hair away from her face. "Oh bother it all, I should have just stuck to my bees," she muttered.

(OOC: As usual, Elmissir by Scribbles, and she has also done the grand honour of dividing up the BAP into...er...smaller BAPS.)
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Postby SilverScribe » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:44 pm

ooc: . . . and the last half of the smaller BAP . . . :P ;)

IC:

Garia stepped around to face her. "I will not share you with either bees or Elladan, my dear," he declared, perhaps a bit more emphatically than was necessary, "and if the Lord disagrees with this I will happily discuss it with him on beaten ground. I'd rather not have to challenge the bees, though. Stars, Elmissir, don't look so forlorn, or I'll think you want me gone yourself."

Elmissir's free hand flew up to cover her mouth for a few breathless moments. "Oh Garia, no!! You musn't ever challenge Lord Elladan, not ever! He's a superb swordsman, and, well, I'm sure you're wonderful yourself, but he's Eldar and he's trained just forever and he won't tire and well, I would be absolutely desolate if either of you got hurt on my account. Oh dear, promise me you won't be so rash . . . please?" At the look on Garia's face, she tried to recapture some of the earlier light hearted mood. She gave him a brave smile. "As for my bees, well, they're all back in Ost-in-Edhil so you needn't worry on their account."

As much as Garia was pleased that Elmissir cared whether he got hurt or not, to hear her say so plainly that he was no match for the Elf lord put a sour look on his face. "I would take on an swarm of bees," he insisted, "and, stars, the whole of the Last Alliance, if they stood between us. But," he raised a finger to stop her anxious protest, "if your Lord Elladan keeps himself civil and your bees stay in their hive, then we shall have no trouble at all. Ost-in-Edhil," he leapt to the subject she offered. "That's right. You look so fair in these gardens, I forgot they were not your home. See now, perhaps we do not need to ask Lord Elladan for all that much of a favour. Imladris will become a dull place once you leave it, and what reason would I have to stay if you go? My dear lady Elmissir," he grinned as he bowed to her, "will you allow me to ride with you to the Swan's Anchor and see you safely home?" Running before the cart, did Radesh say? Couldn't hope for much luck? He would eat those words.

She smiled at Garia's brashness. "How generous of you Master Garia," she responded. "Of course, we shall have to broach the subject with my brother." They approached a fork in the path and turned up the broader lane that led back to the Ivy Gardens. The sun had sunk down in the sky and was now resting just on the edges of the mountain slopes beyond the valley. "We shall see what he says, I dare say he can have no objections to your offer," she added, knowing full well that Guilhendar would have no end of objections, and loud ones at that. But she didn't want to trouble Garia with that, their outing had been too pleasant and she was loathe to spoil what was left of the late afternoon.

By the time they returned to the Ivy Gardens, Elmissir's blush had faded, and Garia's mind was roaming. He carried both baskets now, full to the brim, and his fingers were tangled in a bundle of mesh bags. A sprig of some foul-smelling herb had fallen on the path from the gardens, and Garia was sure he had lost more than one pepper. A bundle of nettles which Elmissir had wrapped in a cloth concerned him as he watched it unfold threateningly.

She led the way down the hall. Garia nodded regally to the guards at the door as he passed by.

They arrived at the doorway to her rooms. Elmissir turned the latch but spoke over her shoulder to Garia. "If you could just put those baskets on the table over there, under the window Master Garia, I would be . . . most . . . " She stopped in the middle of the room, Garia right behind her. Sitting right there in the chair next to the table was her brother.

"On the table by the window," Garia repeated, staring right at Guilhendar. "Of course, my lady Elmissir," he said, a little bit louder than was necessary. "As you wish." He moved past both Elves to deliver the baskets, his heart pounding. There would be trouble. He could feel it. Brothers were always trouble.

'Eru's Teeth!' Guilhendar swore silently to himself. 'What is that scruffy cur doing here of all places?!'

"Guil!" Elmissir chirped nervously, clearly surprised. "What are you doing here?" Rising to his feet, Guilhendar nodded at the brigand as he deposited the baskets on the table, then turned to his sister. "I could ask the same of Master Garia, could I not?" His gaze flicked to the mortal then back again.

"Oh Guil, for Eru's sake, Master Garia has been so very kind, he's helped me gather a ton of herbs and other things that I've been needing. Honestly, you really could be more civil." Her brother flushed slightly at the rebuke, but was careful to mind his manners. "Of course," he murmured, turning to Garia. "Do forgive my rudeness and thank you, Master Garia, for rendering such kind assistance to my sister." Though nothing showed on his face, inwardly Guilhendar seethed. He had a deep suspicion that the edain's motives were far less noble that he would have it appear. The man bore watching, that much was certain.

"It was all my pleasure, lord Guilhendar," Garia replied cheerfully, brushing stray seeds from his hands. Once done, he held one such hand out to the Elf in a gesture that was more challenge than greeting. "And no apology is necessary, it is quite understandable that a brother should look out for his sister. Especially a sister blessed with so many virtues." He looked the Elf up and down. Sure, the lines of his face were not quite alike that of a mortal man, and he had a manner of speaking that invited respect, but though Garia looked hard, he could see nothing in the Elf's eyes that proved him superior.

Guilhendar looked down at Garia's hand, then back at his face, deciding not to bother correcting him on the 'lord' thing. Yes, there was a definite slyness in the mortal's look that set the hairs on the back of his neck dancing, but he would never deign to let any of his private misgivings show in his face, or his manner. He took the brigand's hand and squeezed just hard enough to let Garia know that he didn't disdain the handshake, but also to let him know that he could have broken every bone in the mortal's hand without effort. As he released the handshake, he smiled. "Then we understand one another," he answered evenly. He kept his body facing Garia but looked over at his sister. "And I came to find you, to see if you would like to join me for a quiet dinner, once your duties here are discharged. After all, the Scribe's party will not need you at their beck and call while they have their own supper, no?

"It is true the lady Elmissir has paid a particularly kind attention to my wounded friends," Garia answered before Elmissir could speak. He very badly wanted to wipe his hand on his shirt. "That is why I decided one of us might return the favour and assist her in her duties, so that she may sooner seek rest and leisure." He winked at Elmissir as he spoke, so briefly that he was sure Guilhendar would miss it. "I remain at your service, my lady."

Elmissir smiled back at Garia, knowing very well it would irritate her brother to no end. "Why thank you Garia," she answered, purposely leaving off the 'Master' for much the same reason. "I would appreciate your help to store some of this away, if you don't mind?" She was rewarded by a quick flicker of annoyance that passed so quickly over her brother's face that none but herself would see it. However, Guilhendar was not to be so easily put off. He shrugged and lowered his tall frame back down onto the chair. "Well, I guess I'll just relax while I'm waiting then," he said with a wicked smile.

"I don't mind at all," Garia replied to Elmissir, and as soon as he was certain Guilhendar could not see his face he twisted it up like a jester. What a pain, this brother of yours, he seemed to say as he handed her the herbs, I can scarcely believe you're related. "Your brother has no interest in herblore, then, my lady?" he asked, wishing he could see Guilhendar perk up his Elvish ears.

"Her brother," Guilhendar piped up, somewhat amused at the brigand's rudeness, "has only a passing interest." Then again, Guildhendar thought, Garia was Edain, after all, so some measure of impertinence was probably expected. Elmissir shot her brother a nasty 'oh please, pipe down' look, then smiled sweetly at Garia's antics. "As my brother said, he has only a small interest in herblore, mostly that which has to do with mulling wine or flavouring ale," she said, carefully placing the net bags Garia was handing her on a shelf above the sideboard. "And to be honest, I quite prefer it that way, then I don't have someone naysaying or contradicting me at every turn." She glanced meaningfully at Guilhendar as she said this, but he was absorbed in the patterened tile of the floor. Garia moved to retrieve the second basket, the one filled with carefully tied bunches of fresh herbs.

"Wouldn't that be tiresome," Garia agreed, "to have someone hawking over everything you do."

"Indeed," Elmissir agreed, laying the tied herbs out on the top of the sideboard. She would wash and hang them to dry later. "I much prefer it when I am mistress of my own affairs." Garia had now gotten to the bottom of the basket, to the paper packets of seeds and flower heads. He handed them to her dutifully as she stowed them in a drawer and when the basket was empty, she took it and pushed it under the worktable then dusted her hands. "There now, that went very quickly, thank you Garia." She paused, pursing her lips. "I suppose I should let you get back to your friends . . . I need to tidy up and . . . "

"Come to dinner," Guilhendar interrupted, finally looking up.

Eyebrows raised, Garia looked at Elmissir. "Well, if we are done, if there is nothing more I can help you with, I will go find my friends. And you, my lady," he winked again and lowered his voice almost to a purr, "should go have your dinner. Your brother is asking so nicely."


Garia adorableness provided by our own Rodia . . . ;)
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Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:11 pm

    "Perhaps I am, yes...half daft," he babbled, taking Radesh's arm for support. "Half daft...half blind...but fully terrified of that...that ..thing!" Harah pointed towards the hidden door in the solarium. "That wasn't orc poison - you saw it, too Radesh!"

    Somber again, Radesh rose to his feet and helped Harah up. "I saw nothing," he said softly. "But neither did I dream it. There was... Scribe, we were looking for you. Things happened that you should hear about."



"Well, you have found me," the Scribe answered, then her eyes narrowed. "Things? What sort of things, Radesh?" She glanced back down the hall to where the rear guards were standing, knowing that they listened closely, even though they stood as still as statues and their faces betrayed nothing. She turned back to the men, her expression less cold though Radesh's words and the tone of his voice sent a chill down her spine. Lowering her voice, she spoke softly. "And should I hear about these things somewhere more private?" she asked.

Radesh did not glance at the guards, knowing from hard experience that it was a sure way to attract attention. Cursing himself for forgetting the Elvish fabled hearing, he replied without lowering his voice any further. "It may be best. Harah wished to speak to you about himself, although after his show here you may be less inclined to hear him out." He met Scribe's eyes, his expression saying as plain as words that there was more.

Scribbles sighed softly. "Let no man say that I am unwilling to be fair," she said quietly, then gestured down the hall towards her room, where the door yet stood ajar. "Come, we can speak privately in my rooms." She led them back down the hall and ushered them into her sitting room, then turned to the guards that yet stood impassively to either side of the open back entrance. "Have someone clear up the mess," she ordered quietly. "And see to it that I am not disturbed, unless it is Guilhendar."

Entering the room, she closed the door behind her and mumbled a few quiet words whilst she traced a sigil in the air. Then she gestured at the chairs that flanked the banked fire. "Please sit, be at ease. No one outside this room will hear what is said until I wish it."

Radesh guided the Southron to one of the chairs and took the other. He threw an uneasy glance over his shoulder, as if the traces of sorcery still hovered above them. "Vai, where to begin!" he said, with almost a plaintive note that rang strangely in his deep voice. A moment's thought, and then, without him willing it, the hillman's tone took on a measured storyteller's cadence. "Well, Scribe. I will begin with what Harah told me, and what I did not believe at first. If you heard that two Elves entered the solarium where the Southron rested, and yet did not pass through the doors, what would you say?"

Scribbles brought the straight back chair from under the window and set it down with the back facing where the two men were seated. Straddling the chair, she sat down and crossed her arms across the top of the chairback. She was careful to keep the surprise off her face at the Hillman's mention of one of the best kept secrets in Imladris. Who would have been so careless, so stupid? Inwardly she seethed with annoyance, but outwardly, she kept her face impassive, neutral. "I'd say someone used the hidden entrance behind the tapestry," she said evenly, "though it's existence is not common knowledge. And," she stressed, "it should stay that way." She raked one hand through her hair, a casual gesture. "Why do you ask?"

Again, the hillman hesitated. With his next words, he would put all their lives into Scribe's hands. How far would the Elves go to keep their secrets? Would they imprison the mortals for the brief time it took for their deaths to ensure silence, or perhaps not bother waiting and simply kill them all outright? But there was no safety in silence, and Radesh had always believed that no harm could come from speaking the truth. "Because this knowledge is not as hidden now, since those who entered the room used it to drop a bunch of keys into Harah's bed. My friend may be half-blind, but he has keen ears, and he understands the working of the stone. I was sure he was wrong, that he pointed me toward a blank wall. But I found a door, and I opened it."

"We opened it!" Harah interjected. "I discovered how to manage the door's stone work latch..."

"Keys?" echoed the Scribe. This was getting more and more curious by the moment. She turned to the Southron. "What keys, Master Harah? Do you yet have them?"

"Why, no," Harah answered. "I thought it best to take them back where they came from and lose them. In the end we gave them to the Elves we met in the tunnels, the ones who saved us after we got lost looking for Garia."

"Elves in the tunnels? Looking for Garia?" Scribbles asked, then scowled; she sounded like a parrot. "I suggest that one of you tell me exactly what happened . . . and when."

Radesh ground his teeth. He had never intended to bring up Garia's part in the story. It would be enough to say that the two of them went into the tunnel to return the keys. He would have to speak to Harah about this unfortunate habit of blurting out other people's secrets, Radesh decided, remembering how he barely managed to stop the Southron from telling Elmissir about the mines. In the meantime, he intended to do the talking.

And so Radesh, with many interruptions and interjections from Harah, told the Scribe all that had transpired, from Garia's attempt to search for Elmissir, on to his and Harah's venture into the tunnel, the encounter with the evil presence, the flight in the dark, the fall, and their rescue by the Elves.

"And they bound our wounds afresh, and gave us food and drink, and that was all good and kind of them. But they also told us to keep quiet, because, they said no one would believe us, or if they did, then the lord of the place would punish us for trespassing," the hillman finished.

"They gave us a most delicious cordial," Harah added. "I felt quite relaxed after drinking it. Didn't you, Radesh? It eased the pains of my injuries as well. They were very kind. They led us back through the tunnels as if walking on a daylit path, back here and... and... 'the end'," he said with a feeble grin and a shrug.

Scribbles had been gazing thoughtfully at the banked fire while Radesh and Harah relayed their tale. She shivered involuntarily at their mention of the "evil thing" that both of them had trouble describing. When they had both finished, she looked up at Radesh, then at Harah, her face calm but her eyes troubled.

"Those tunnels are ancient and have gone unused for more years than either of you could imagine," she stated quietly. "They are full of sinkholes and other dangers, as you discovered."

"And that . . . thing?" Radesh ventured. "We did not imagine it, did we?"



SilverScribe by Scribbles, Radesh by Frelga - naturellement!
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:21 am

"No," Scribbles replied, then held up a hand as Harah opened his mouth, "but neither should you be concerned about it. It will be unable to leave the tunnels." She didn't want to tell the men exactly what she had learned about it from Luinil, her mentor had said he would take care of it and she had no reason at all to disbelieve him. In all likelihood, Luinil had already dealt with it, so she had not really lied outright. She was more intrigued by the keys, hadn't she heard Taronwe had lost some? And had these "tunnel elves" returned them, or not? She decided there was no point in even trying to unravel how the keys had come to be planted on Harah, and why anyone in Imladris would have gone to such lengths to return them in such an odd manner. Undoubtedly, Taronwe himself would be investigating, she had too many other problems to bother with this one.

"No?" Harah asked. "It cannot leave the tunnels, you say?!" With visible relief Harah began to recite something quite extravagant in Southron. "That is wonderful news, Mistress Scribe..."

"Just 'Scribe' will do Master Harah," Scribbles replied gently.

'Ah, of course, 'Scribe' and please, call me Harah!" the Southron said with a slight bow where he sat. He glanced nervously at Radesh who sat looking expectantly at him. Harah wriggled uncomfortably in his rather comfortable chair. "Radesh has something to ask of you, do you not, Radesh?" Harah nudged one of the hillman's long legs with his bare foot. "Remember, what we were discussing, before the closet..." he waved in the general direction of the mess in the hallway. "You were going to ask the Scribe if I...", Harah gestured again, pointing to the Scribe, then to Radesh and to himself. "Go on, Radesh, don't be shy!"

Radesh recoiled, as if the tunnel beast just defied Scribe's words and left the tunnels after all. "You want me to ask? No, Harah, no. I only speak for myself. Whatever road you take, will be by your choice and not my asking."

A cloud gathered over the Southron's head for a brief moment, and his dark eyebrows knitted together in a quick scowl but both dissipated quickly for it was not in Harah's nature to hold onto anger.

"Hillman, you haven't changed!" Harah said with an exasperated wave of his hands, "When in the mines, Scribe, he'd do this, he'd make me stand on my own feet when it was required of me but," the Southron leaned forward, as if to tell a secret, "when I was in genuine need, when I couldn't stand on my own feet, he was always there for me, Scribe. Always! And may the Great Gods be praised that our paths should cross again. Perhaps now I can repay him for those times." Harah clasped his hands together, in supplication. "I wish to travel with you, with Radesh. I know it is into great danger but I care not. Hire me, SilverScribe. I will prove my worth and Radesh will vouch for me, yeah," Harah nudged the hillman's leg a second time. "I am quick-of-hand, if need be, there is no pocket I cannot pick and I can scale heights, walk along rooftops like a cat. I was an acrobat and a juggler, you see. I can cook if called upon and I make good coffee. I am also a decent shot with a bow too, thanks to the Harpy...

"Harpy?" Scribbles put in.

"The Barding witch, The Harpy," Harah replied with a grimace. "The only good thing that came out of that time," he said with a shudder.

"I told him not to come for my sake," Radesh said quietly.

"And I told him," Harah interrupted, "that I choose to do this for my own sake but the truth is, Scribe," he leaned closer to the Peredhel, "I do this for the sake of friendship, yeah?" Harah patted the half-elf's hand in an absent minded show of fondness. A look of terror quickly overtook his face when he realized what he'd done and he sunk back into his seat. "Ah, forgive me, I .... I.."

"Overstepped the bounds of propriety?" Scribbles asked archly, then waved the recently patted hand in a gesture of dismissal before the terror in the Southron's eyes caused them to roll right out of his head. The Southron's mention of Bardhwyn and friendship in practically the same breath had nettled her, but she let none of the annoyance show on her face. Instead, she focused on Harah, even though she knew his sight was still imperfect. "While cooking and making good coffee are admirable enough, as are the other skills you mention, how are you with a blade?" she asked. Might as well cut to the chase sooner as later.

"I work better with a shorter blade," Harah replied. "Fast, quick work." He mimicked a few sword thrusts with his left hand. "But with my right hand, of course," he added sheepishly. "Oh, and knife throwing, of course, with the right or left. I beat the Harpy one night," Harah grinned. "She didn't like that."

"Undoubtedly," Scribbles mused, thinking that if Harah had beat the Archer in knife throwing, he had to be more than just 'good' at least at that. She had not forgotten her recent conversation with Guilhendar and her own recent thoughts about taking on more men . . . it was just that Harah was about as far from what she had in mind as it was possible for a man to be. Then again . . .

She regarded Harah's slight frame. "I have no need of a pickpocket, nor a juggler, an acrobat and least of all, a human cat," she replied. "But I do have need of someone who can get into tight places quickly and silently. Can you do that?"

Harah looked thoughtful and only Radesh could see his old friend's confidence waver.

"He can," Radesh answered. "Do you remember cave in, Harah? In the mines? You were the one who managed to get through with water skins and a rope. There were sixteen men trapped that day, Scribe. Harah brought them water, food. He kept them alive until a passage was cleared."

"But Radesh," Harah stammered, "I simply did what I had to do."

"And with how much noise?" Scribbles pressed. "Tell me, could you do the same and make no noise? Or at least not enough to be noticeable? I ask because where we are going will require stealth as much as anything."

"Ah, well," Harah said with visible relief. "I can be as stealthy as a Ousayar."

"What is a Ousayar?" Scribbles asked. Is it any relation to a sandcat?"

"No!" Harah chortled. "Though sandcats are quiet. A Ousayar are from the old days. They've left the deserts a long time ago. Our tales speak of the Ousayar who stand half as high as a man, with large webbed feet for walking in deep sand and they are as quiet as a windless night."

'Or a Hobbit or one of the River Folk', Scribbles thought to herself. Outwardly, she nodded, glanced at Radesh and then back to Harah. "If you are half as good as you both claim, then there may be a place for you." She bit her lip, mentally calculating and relieved to find that she had prepared sufficiently in the money department. "Half payment just before we leave Imladris, the rest on completion of the job. Of course, this will be dependent on the complete recovery of your eyesight. Agreed?"

"Payment?" Harah stuttered. "I get paid?" The Southron's eyes glazed a bit.

"Done," Radesh cut in. "And we will ask the healer. She said he should recover. He will do right by you, Scribe. I trust him."

"Yes, yes, I will, of course. Tell me, how much? How much do I get paid?" Harah asked, excitedly.

"Later, Harah...."

The hillman held up a quieting hand and Harah bit back his excitement, reluctantly.

"There will be time enough to discuss that," Scribbles put in, smiling at Radesh as she rose from her chair and placed it back under the window. "In fact, it will work out quite well if I only have to go over all the details once."

"Then we shall wait until that time, Scribe," Radesh said, rising to his feet. "Harah, I hope you will not regret your choice. I know, Scribe, you will not. Harah is a true man and a brave one, although..." Radesh frowned, catching the look on his friend's face, "he does sometimes get all worked up over... What is the matter now, Harah?"

Harah's face, no longer excited, had paled and he stared intently at the door opposite the room, presently charmed to all outside it. Noise may not escape beyond it but the charm did not prevent sound from coming in.

"SHhhhhh, listen!! Do you hear??!!" The Southron's faced paled even more. "No... no, it can't be!!"

Scribbles' keen ears had already picked up the sound of running feet and a voice, crying something in a hoarse baritone. She cocked her head to one side. "Jihiyn?" she repeated, puzzled. "I'm not certain of that particular word . . . " She looked at Harah.

Harah , now terrified, could only mouth the word silently: 'GHOST!'


Radesh by Frelga, Scribbles crafted the Scribe and yes, I wrote Harah but really he writes himself. I just channel.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:40 am

Meanwhile, high in the Coldfells….

The pain had returned. It coursed down the length of the scar she bore on her left cheek, sharp and hot, and on this occasion searing, like some sinister echo of the torment she felt the moment the traitor’s brand was burned onto her arm…
    ”Not on the face! I cannot do that to her. Place it on her arm.”

    “But Your Majesty, she can conceal the mark if made on her arm…”

    “HER ARM!! And only her arm. And mind your place!"

Bard walked away, despite her cries for mercy, and he did not look back. The Royal Gaoler obeyed, burning the mark onto her inner right forearm, sparing Bardhwyn’s face from disfigurement - only for it to be marred shortly thereafter by a Southron’s curved blade on the road to Dorwinion.

Bardhwyn pressed a cold hand to her left cheek in a vain attempt to press the pain away, and the recollection of the Haradrim’s wild, black eyes as he struck.

In the end he died on her blade but she was left with the scar, long and pronounced, down the left side of her face, tracing over the far corner of her eye leaving its lid misshapen. The eye’s sight was saved by a healing woman and as for the scar; the healer imbued it with a power to foreworn.
    “Now you will see danger before it comes,” she announced. “Only fair! Danger sees you before it strikes! Now you will be warned of danger!”

    “But why with pain?” she had asked.

    “Would you be put on your guard with a caress, child?!”



The woman was ancient when they first met and treated Bardhwyn like a daughter, with warmth and care, yet with firm expectation - most likely as her own mother would have done, had she lived. The Archer brought her hand to her heart, where, under numerous layers of clothing, hung the locket the old woman had pressed into her hand so long ago, filled with a strange, dusty substance that held miraculous qualities, and on the same chain the gemstone that sparkled black, long since fashioned into a ring. The gem was imbued with its own power, which proved too burdensome for the Archer. The truth of men’s hearts would press upon her when she wore it and the hearts of the clansmen were often dark and heavy.

A third gift given to her by the Healing Woman of Les, a pristine silver cube but had long ago served its magical purpose and was lost in the East.

These things, plus a few, precious tokens she kept secure and hidden in a saddlebag, was all she carried of her past; a pair of vambrances emblazoned with a white horse, a shard of pottery, a small journal, a lock of hair curled in a tiny wooden box and a small empty jar. Also on the same chain as the locket she’d hung an odd and curious stone she’d come by in Harad - a memento of that strange journey. It too was black but oblong in shape, smooth and flawless with a symmetrical hole in its centre. She was drawn to it when she saw it, thinking it the work of ancient elves, and kept it close ever since.

Such were all pieces from her other lives in the past. She prized the old woman’s gifts the most, however, perhaps because she had been happy then.

“Are you still alive, Ani-La?” she whispered to herself while looking south-eastward. “Are you still spoiling the little children of Les? Somehow, I think you are…”

…another searing flash down the length of the scar… danger, soon….

Once again she pressed her hand hard against the left side of her face and blinked the pain away, breathing, slowly. They were becoming more intense.

She’d grown used to the dull ache that continuously throbbed down the scar since joining the Clan Harlond - for every day with the clan was a dangerous day. When deep in her cups she’d amuse herself by keeping the incessant rhythm’s beat, rapping the table at which she sat with a steady tap - tap - tap. When asked by her clansmen what she was doing, she’d smile and say she could hear their dead beating their knife hilts on the feast tables of the War Gods. Her audience toast and cheer but quietly murmur that the Harpy, Harlond’s Number One had The Sight. How else could she know such things? They came to respect and fear her.

As time passed, Bardhwyn soon recognized that the old woman’s gift was changing, strengthening and when greater peril neared the scar’s pain intensified, alerting her not minutes before the event but sometimes hours. The blinding flashes burned longer and brighter, so brightly at times she lost the power of sight and would stop and stagger where she stood.

…another surge of pain …followed by a second and her sight was occluded by a vicious white light and distinct images...

Of arrows flying…
Of the Highway’s entrance…
Carnad’s clansmen, raging with drawn swords…
A black shield..
A rush of Harlond orcs and Thar crying out with a brutal scream…



“PICK UP THE PACE!” a voice cried out, Thar’s voice.

Bardhwyn broke back into the present, gasping as if coming up for air. Images! She’s never before seen images!

“Are you all right, Number One? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Thar said, sliding his mount up next to her. “You’ve gone pale.”

“I’m fine. It’s just an injury plaguing me. I’ve been in this saddle too long,” she lied. Her mind worked quickly, looking for a useful deflection. “We’ve got to watch the rear, make sure they don’t fan out. They’ll get picked off by wolves, or Carnad scouts.”

“Better wolves than scouts. I’ll send Rishnack back. Here,” Thar held out a wineskin. “That will ease the pain.”

Bardhwyn took several swigs of the liquor, not bothering to think what it could be – it certainly wasn’t wine for it burned - and watched her ‘Second’ ride down the line. He was such a complicated, yet simple, man. She turned Courage northeast and rode towards the column’s vanguard, mulling over what the scar had brought while listening to the orcs murmur and chant their dirge; it was a new song they sang, low and gravelly, the incessant beat droning as they jogged along. She recognized one of the orcs from her vision loping along, unaware of her attention. She saw this orc dead.

Thar arrived at her side, pulling his mount back from its quick trot. “Done, Rishnack has the rear.” Thar stopped and listened to the gnashing sounds of their orc clansmen.

“That’s new,” he commented. “What are they saying?”

“You’ve been with the clan for how long now? You still haven’t learned orcish? Harlond’s favourite lieutenant?” Bardhwyn chided.

“Why should I bother when you understand the blighters, Harlond’s Number One? What are they saying?”

“They’re singing about the knife fight with the Scribe,” she replied wearily. The Archer listened for a few moments and began to recite:



The Barding Traitor had pinned her,
held her life in her hands

Clan Harlond’s Defender,
At knifepoint had held her,

Silver She-elf,
White nightmare,
No more shall we fear ye…



“…or something like that.” Bardhwyn shook her head with confusion and mild disgust. “I effectively lost, yet they sing.”

“You challenged their most feared enemy, pinned her and lived. You’re their hero,” Thar replied. Bardhwyn gave him an incredulous look.

“To some,” she said flatly.

“To enough. Arkash’s friends won’t dare to move against you, not for a while at least. And as for the half-elf’s little trinket, I started a rumour that the Mitrhil’s already with Harlond, sent back with one of the scouts without his knowledge… YOU THERE, KEEP IN FORMATION OR I’LL MAKE NEW BOOTS OUT OF YOUR BLACK HIDE…damn goblins. What was I saying?”

“You started a rumour.”

“Right,” Thar wiped his runny nose on the back of his sleeve. “It will fool some, maybe all, I don’t know.” He gave a shrug. “It helps that several of the scouts never returned. None’s the wiser. But I have you figured out.”

“You do?”

“Aye. You don’t have it on you, the Scribe’s trinket. You hid it somewhere along the trail.”

Bardhwyn grinned. Thar was lifting her mood, something he did quite often without trying. “I did?”

“Yes, you did and I hope you remember exactly where. The thought of a minor fortune being stuffed and forgotten in the crack of some tree in Rhudaur…” Thar glanced over at Bardhwyn hoping for some reaction, any reaction. The Archer returned his look, impassive and silent.

“You’re not telling?” he asked. She shook her head ‘no’.

“Damn, you’re hard, Barding. You know that?”

“Yes, I know,” she said with a grin. “What more do you want from me?”



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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:33 am

... cont.


Thar shook his head, for he was at a loss for words. They rode on, side by side, each mount easy along side the other, kicking the snow up as they trotted at a quick pace.

“I’ve been thinking,” Thar said, breaking the silence.

“A rare occurrence,” Bardhwyn quipped.

“Now it is my turn to say ‘your mother’s balls’!”

...Were fine and big... but she passed them onto me, you Chetwood chubb.”

Thar burst out with a loud guffaw, “That I do not doubt!” He laughed again, smiling broadly. “That was good, Chetwood chubb. I'll take it as a compliment.…”

“You said you were ‘thinking’?” Bardhwyn asked with a genuine smile, "About?"

“Just now?" he asked cheekily, "Or before your compliment?" Thar smiled.

"Thar! You're a tedious sod, sometimes..."

He raised a hand to stop her rant, "I was thinking about what lay ahead,” Thar angled his head away from the column and trotted out of hearing distance. Bardhwyn followed, keeping Courage at a slow walk.

“What about ‘what lay ahead’?” she asked, bringing her mount to a stop. Courage stamped in snow to inform her of his displeasure.

“Firstly, Raisha and this alliance…”

Bardhwyn laughed aloud, cutting him off. “What alliance, Thar? Where are his men? Do you see any of his men? ‘The Great Man’, Raisha, Bandit King of the South,” she said in a mocking singsong voice. “The great pain in my arse. He’s a liar, we knew that the moment we laid eyes on him. You hear the same rumours as I; he’s allied with Carnad as well, playing off both sides. He’s liar but he’s smart. He’s got a ringside seat at this dogfight and he simply waits to see who is left. He’ll lie more easily then for he need only lie to one clan, not two.”

“You never did like Raisha, did you?” Thar asked simply to irk.

“Same in kind, he never liked me,” Bardy quickly retorted. “Or Harlond. Or any of us – any of this,” she waved over to the vanguard, marching in good order, numbering close to one hundred, the other two-thirds of their force being with Harlond, on the eastern slopes of the Misty Mountains. “I think it was too much like work to him.”

Thar smiled broadly, “He liked me.”

She glared. “Don’t think about Raisha, Thar,” Bardhwyn said with a shake of her head.

“Then what about Carnad’s men – if they attack from a stronghold in the tunnel they’ll have higher ground, the benefit cover and retreat. They could hold up inside that tunnel forever, with no want of water thanks those underground streams. And if they find our food stores…we’re at a disadvantage.”

“Your thinking is correct,” Bardhwyn said. "I have some ideas."

Thar sucked on his teeth and shook his head, “Damn, I wish we knew more.”

“We know enough.”

“It burns me, burns me deep. It may all be for nought, everything we’ve worked for, everything we’ve sacrificed.” Thar swept his arm, waving it over the column of clansmen.

“We don’t know that, Thar. This could be the fulfillment of all we’ve worked for. We simply do not know. The Gods know, but we do not.”

Thar looked at ‘Number One’ and smiled. “Beautiful, deadly and a philosopher, too?”

Bardhwyn grimaced and gave him a dismissive look. They sat in silence and watched the column pass, the rear not far away keeping a tight formation, as ordered.

“Do you remember what we agreed?” Bardhwyn asked.

“If one of us dies,” Thar began.

“The other carries on and sees that Dale pays,” Bardhwyn finished. “And Dale will pay.”

“Yes, it will. But if we both die?”

”Dale will still pay. I have made arrangements.” With a soft click of her teeth she urged Courage onwards, bringing up the rear with Thar following.

“Of course you have,” Thar called out, chuckling to himself. “Why am I not surprised? Old friends in dark places?”

“Dark enough but not so dark to be shunned. This ‘friend’ goes wherever she likes. She sups with Kings and has the trust of thieves. Aye, she’ll see it through. I would trust her with my life.”

“Who is it?” Thar asked. Bardhwyn gave him another impassive look. “Come now, Barding, we’re facing our deaths and we know it. Who? I may take it to my grave.”

Bardhwyn smiled ruefully. “All I can say is she’s a better shot with an arrow than I.”

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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:09 pm

...cont and finis


“Better than you? Don’t believe it.”

“Its true. And its been rumoured she’s walked the halls of the Dark Tower though she never spoke of it to me.”

Thar laughed in disbelief. ‘Walked in The Dark Tower! Nonsense! I’d like to meet her though, she sounds my type.”

Bardhwyn gave a chiding laugh. “She’d eat you for breakfast. Besides, her heart was taken long ago by a Drow…”

“A Drow?”

“A dark elf, that’s what they call themselves,” Bardhwyn explained. She then looked askance “You didn’t get out of the Chetwood much, did you?”

“I got out plenty, I just haven’t met many Drows or any Drows, for that matter.”

“Pity. They are different to the Silvan, dangerous and unpredictable and this Drow – he would disappear for weeks at a time then suddenly reappear, finding us in time for a battle or skirmish of some kind. He was a magnificent fighter.” She grinned and chuckled at a private memory before glancing back at Thar, “So, yes, she’s taken and she's to be trusted.”

“If you say so. Its always the way; I am drawn to women who have hearts either taken or altogether absent.”

The Archer smiled and leaned in close to Thar, slowly teasing her top lip with her tongue. With a low and husky voice she said, “I can think of one thing she’d be likely to give you, Thar.”

He grinned lasciviously and leaned in as well. “What’s that?” he asked with an equally husky edge.

Her knuckles were quick, rapping Thar hard against his skull with a satisfying crack. “That,” she announced with a cold smirk.

“OW! That frackin’ hurt, Barding!” Thar massaged the small lump that was rising on his scalp and Bardhwyn rode on, chuckling to her self, knowing the woman in question would have approved. Thar quickly trotted him mount along side her.

“Well to hell with meeting her then,” Thar said into his arm as he wiped his nose again, “Who needs women like that when the doxies have always been plentiful with this job? That’s been a sincere consolation, I’ll have you know.”

“You’re whoreson, you know that?”

“Yes, I know. What more do you want from me?” Thar replied with a smile while still massaging his skull. He looked at the tree line, which seemed to darken against the early evening sky as he watched. ”The sun is fast waning and I don’t fancy meeting any of Elrohir’s elves just yet. Do we press on into the night?”

Bardhwyn shook her head. “And run the risk of fighting Carnad in the dark? No. We need light if we’re to have any chance at all with him – so much is against us as it is.” She drew the tightly rolled parchment map from inside her outer coat and unfurled it across her saddle’s pommel. She studied it silently as her mount walked. Thar walked along side.

“It is a gamble,” she murmured ” but the payoff would be great…”

“I am in a gambling mood. Say more.”

Bardhwyn angled the map so Thar could see from where he rode along side. “We split our force, send a company of orcs and half orcs ahead; they prefer to travel in the dark, and have them position themselves above the tunnel entrance.”

“Split up?! Split up?! No, no…I don’t see…”

Bardhwyn rapped on the map with her hand, silencing him. “No, Thar, you don’t ‘see’ because you don’t care to listen!” She shook her head with a tired sigh. “You’re a good leader, Thar, but a terrible follower. To both follow and lead one needs to listen. So listen!” She rapped the parchment a second time. “Do you recall the entrance to the tunnel? It is a broad flat expanse that gently slopes up to the tunnel’s mouth.”

“Yes, I recall it.”

“It was once the bed of an ancient waterfall. Our tunnel was made by that same force of water ages ago. The entrance flat is a good place to fight; we can use horse and archers, make a shield wall. If we arrive as a force far smaller than expected we may be able to lure the majority of them onto that expanse. With a second force positioned just above the tunnel, here, “ she pointed to a slight ridge line that sloped southward from the tunnel’s mouth, “We can attack on two fronts and we may gain the upper hand.” Bardhwyn looked up and surveyed the column marching tirelessly ahead of them both leaving behind a wake of trampled snow. “We may be able to keep this vicious ball rolling a while longer. ”

“And if we meet their force before then, we’re even worse off.”

“They’re holding the tunnel, I am sure of it.” She recalled her painful vision. ”Think about it Thar, how did Harlond get that message to us?”

“Through the tunnel.”

“And where did he send the message from?”

“The field of parlay, south of Rhosgobel,” Thar answered. He then fell silent with thought. “And we’ve heard nothing since. The messenger may have been followed once the talks failed and the tunnel taken shortly after.”

“Or the clan was ambushed and someone was coerced into giving the tunnel’s location, “Bardhwyn added. “Harlond knows the clan will fight to the last and he knows this tunnel is its lifeblood. By sending that note through he was giving the clan a chance to win and take all. Or die trying. “ Bardhwyn uncorked Thar’s wineskin and took a mouthful, though wine it was not. What ever it was, it burned the back of her throat. “As for Elrohir and his elves,” she said with a slight gasp, ”if we win, we get through the tunnel and hold it against him, as any good clansman should.” She took another mouthful and swallowed fast – it still burned. “If we lose, Elrohir gets to take on Carnad all by himself and will end up burying all of our bones. As I said – the winner takes all.” She offered Thar the wineskin back. He swiftly poured a mouthful and swallowed with a gasp.

“This is why Harlond chose you, ‘Number One’. Canny, you are. Cork?” He caught Bardhwyn’s toss and jammed the cork into the skin’s mouthpiece. “All right, I’ve listened and heard enough. Let’s proceed as you suggest. We split our force.”

“Good. Go and put an orc company together and give them their orders. Take Rishnack with you, he’s proven loyal and he has a sharp orc nose as any.”

“Take Rishnack with m… wait, you want me to go?"

“I wouldn’t’ trust anyone else,” Bardhwyn replied. Thar began to bluster, making every excuse he could dream up and the Archer considered waiting for him to finish but quickly lost patience, choosing to speak over him.

“That’s an order, ‘lieutenant’! “ she barked. “What did I just say about listening?” She pointed to the map. “You’ll need to travel, non-stop due east up the mountainside into thicker snow before you can veer north and west. No sleep for you this night. Here,” Bardhwyn quickly rolled the parchment and handed it to Thar, “take the map. I have it memorized. The rest of us will press on until dusk. We’ll camp with no fires, set up a perimeter and hazard a few more scouts, good ones, those we know will return. We’ll advance on the entrance at dawn. Watch for my signal from the ridgeline and then mount your attack. And tell the clan to pass the word; they’re to sharpen their weapons for tomorrow we’ll have a fight on our hands.”

…searing pain, the blinding flash; her scar felt as if lightning had struck it..

“What is it?” Thar asked. “Bad tooth?”

…there was danger, much danger, images of frenzied men followed by an overwhelming blankness, heavy and oppressive, senseless…

“Its nothing,” Bardhwyn replied with a shake of her head. “As I said, tomorrow we’ll have a fight on our hands. And don’t concern yourself with me; I can watch my own back. Move out.”

Thar nodded, not caring if he looked concerned. She was in pain, had made enemies and she was speaking of her past. He had said it himself, though – they were facing their deaths. That has a way of opening a heart, any heart: hers, his. He nodded in acknowledgement of both that thought and her order. “Understood. I will watch for your signal. Until tomorrow.”

Thar took up his reins and wheeled his mount around. “For the man we serve, ” he said. The salute he gave was casual but a salute not the less and it touched the Archer. They respected one another, despite all that had passed between them, most likely because of all that had passed between them.

She nodded and returned the salute and offered a wave in response to Thar’s own as he rode up the line.

“For the man we serve, though I may not serve him for much longer,” she whispered.

The sun had dipped low behind the trees, illuminating their edges and turning them black to the eye. High above and to the north the evening star glimmered in the deepening blue. Dusk. Bardhwyn called the troop to a halt and gave the order to make a fireless camp. She then turned her horse due east and, with hand once again on her heart, she closed her eyes and whispered lowly, as she had done every night since joining Clan Harlond, as if in prayer.

Dusk fell and to defy it the evening star rose ever higher, a bright light in the gathering gloom.






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Postby Jiyadan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:14 pm

Khiran cracked one eye open, his face pressed against the pillow was working to keep his other shut for the moment. With a little sniff, he noted a few things. The blanket that was pulled over his head was preventing him from really seeing anything. He was in a very warm, very comfortable bed, but had only very vague recollections of getting there. And, he confirmed with some small displeasure, he was alone in said warm, comfortable bed.

Rolling a little further over, he rubbed at his eyes and yawned before reaching his arms far over his head, his toes curling as his feet pushed out the opposite direction and his entire body was stretched out as far as he could go before rapidly recoiling in on himself.

He hadn't slept this good in years, he was certain. No dreams came to his memory as he peered out from under the blanket at the room in which he had slept. It was comfortably, yet conservatively, furnished and decorated. The majority of elegance was to be found in the details carved into the wood or woven into the fabrics. A very clean, simple elegance that suited the elves quite well, he felt.

Having no real idea of how long he had stayed up last night talking with Taronwé, he could not begin to guess at what the time was now. Elves don't need sleep, and he had been falling asleep quite unwillingly when Taronwé at last apologized that he was being thoughtless of his mortal needs and took his leave, allowing the Corsair to fall quickly into a deep, untroubled sleep.

Now, the barest hints of light were eeking through the window, shuttered and curtained, yet unable to entirely resist the power of the sun to make itself known. Khiran's stomach betrayed any thoughts he may have entertained as to staying in bed longer and he was soon up and pulling his boots on.

Unlike his companions, he had not spent much time traipsing and tramping through door and hall of the place, and knew only a few areas. Since food was not going to come to him in his room, he would go to the only other place he knew food was to be found, and that was the place they had all been so carefully tended the day prior. He only hoped the others had left him anything!

There was no one in the main large room, and, much to Khiran's disappointed hopes and stomach, no food to be found either. He cast a dejected look about the room as if looking put upon enough might cause food to be conjured out of thin air. The room stayed stubbornly bereft, however, and at last he decided he needed to go find the others, or at least find the food.

He wandered back down the hall and opened the first door he came to. Then he set himself to screaming at the top of his lungs.

"JIHIYN*! JIHIYN!!" He was frantically hopping up and down, pointing an accusing finger at the figure in the chair. "Why have you come back to haunt me?? I did nothing to you! Leave me be, spirit of the deceased! Go back to the other-world and warm yourself by their fires, but leave me be!"


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Postby Cock-Robin » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:54 pm

After being shown where he would stay while in Imladris, Boartooth went out to the stables and the falconry to check on Thunder and Lightning. Now, it was true that elvish care of all good beasts and birds was legendary, but the Beorning loved them as if they were children of his, and wanted to make sure. So he missed out on the hubbub in the halls. His introduction to the Scribe and her group would have to wait until the next day.

As he saw his horse and falcon were well tended, he did not notice a dot circling far up in the sky, which only elven eyes could make out. It was watching, searching for something only he would know. He saw the Beorning exit the stables far below.

Many were the names of his kin. Messengers of Manwë, Scions of Thorondor, Great Eagles. But those who knew him called him Landroval, brother of Gwaihir the Windlord. He was the last of the Eagles to remain in Middle-Earth, his brethren having departed for the West after the Ring was destroyed and Sauron fell. They departed to go to their home in Taniquetil, where their lord Manwë awaited them, and where they would remain until the Last Battle, the Dagor Dagorath when the deeds of Melkor would be finally vanquished.

But Landroval remained behind, troubled by strange dreams, of one calling to him, one of the Edain. Calling frequently, and he was driven to answer, wherever the call was coming from. He saw many things in the lands as he searched. Bandit clans going here and there, and mustering for a great battle. An elven troop, led by Elrohir, going to counter them. And far to the north, another bandit clan.

But the call did not come from there. Now, he circled above Imladris, though he knew Elrond was long departed. But it was possible others remained behind, even as he had. As he rested his mind in the paths of his thoughts, he heard the call again. Now he knew where the call emanated from.

He slowly circled ever downward, not knowing what adventures the call would bring him.
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:18 am

    "JIHIYN*! JIHIYN!!" Why have you come back to haunt me?? I did nothing to you! Leave me be, spirit of the deceased! Go back to the other-world and warm yourself by their fires, but leave me be!"


As both SilverScribe and Radesh made for the door, Harah sat firmly rooted in his chair. His heart began to pound fiercely. Hearing frantic words cried out in his own tongue overwhelmed him. It was the Corsair! And he was terrified... a Corsair... frightened?! By the Great Sands, what new evil had befallen them?!!

The events of the recent past piled upon the man; his wounds and escape from the clan, the frightening ordeal in the elven tunnels, the unexpected assault by the closet, and learning he's going to be PAID!!

It was all too much for Harah.

He fainted where he sat.









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Postby SilverScribe » Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:27 am

.

She reached the door of her chamber first, paused only long enough to mutter a few words then yanked the door open. When she looked back she found Radesh following but Harah, well, Harah appeared to have decided on a sudden nap.

Radesh stopped, turned and followed her suddenly frosty, and clearly displeased, gaze . . . they both returned to where the Southron slumped in his chair.

"He resembles a sandcat more than an Ousayar now," Scribbles remarked drily, folding her arms across her chest. "The cat family is inordinately fond of their nap times." She looked over at Radesh with a scowl.

"You said he would do right by me Master Radesh. Does this include the tendency to faint? Or is that an added feature I am getting at no extra cost?"

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Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:46 am

Meanwhile, at the entrance to the Ivy Gardens

The edain's voice grated on the ears of both the guards, causing them to visibly flinch and grimace.

"Oh, for the love of Eru, what is it NOW?" Laecia groaned. He glanced to partner. "Its your turn, I went last time."

Rilyan pressed his eyes shut for a moment before speaking. "Are we being punished for something? I keep asking myself this." He grimaced again. "And I didn't realize how badly men smell."

"Are you going, or not?"

Rilyan bit back a caustic remark, tugged down his scale armour and moved off. He took a long, deep breath and held it as he entered the solarium and marched in the direction of disturbance.

Definitely, this is punishment... there can be no other explanation.... he grumbled to himself.

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Postby Frelga » Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:54 pm

"You said he would do right by me Master Radesh. Does this include the tendency to faint? Or is that an added feature I am getting at no extra cost?"

The hillman frowned at the slumping body. "He never usually does that," he muttered, annoyed more than a little with Harah, and a touch with his employer. "Be fair, Scribe, the man got nearly skewered through only days ago. No wonder he is not up to strength! He didn't faint when he stood between me and that she-warg's arrow." Outside the room, the screams abated. Radesh's frown vanished and his eyebrows rose when he realized who it was that must have done the shouting. "The Southrons do seem to see ghosts everywhere. That was the Corsair, wasn't it? I wonder what attacked him. Are there any more closets in this wing?"

He held back the childish desire to ask Scribe for reassurance that there were really no ghosts. She told him the... the thing could not leave the tunnels, and who should know better than the Elven witch. Instead, he kneeled next to Harah's chair, and rose with the wiry Southron over his shoulder. "I will put him into his bed," he said. "I don't suppose there are really any ghosts out there."
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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:41 pm

" He didn't faint when he stood between me and that she-warg's arrow."

Scribbles nodded thoughtfully. "Aye, true enough. Though that may have been only by accident." At the hillman's dark look, she decided to answer his questions rather than debate Harah's strengths or weaknesses.

"No, the only other closet I know of holds linens, and is in the bathing room. As for ghosts?" Here she chuckled as they moved to the door, Harah slung over the Hillman's shoulder like a sack of oats. "I do not think any live in Imladris, I doubt they would care for all the singing," she remarked, indicating Radesh should go ahead into the hall.

All evidence of Harah's prior close encounter with the storage closet had been removed. As they started down the hallway, she heard Elmissir's door behind them open but she didn't turn around. Ahead of them, one of the Elven guards had just appeared in the archway, his halberd held at the ready.

The door to Htiet's room stood open, the sound of men's voices drifting out into the hall. As she passed the Easterling's doorway, Scribbles held up a hand to the guard and waved him back. "There is no concern here, return to your post," she told him in fluid Sindarin. " 'Tis merely the way these foreigners greet one another." The guard looked uncertain at first, but then shrugged and spun on his heel, his face betraying no hint of the relief he must have felt at not having to deal with yet another mortal crisis.

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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:41 am

Rilyan returned to his post and quickly scanned the darkening surroundings. His comrade flashed him an expectant look.

"Well?" Laecia asked.

"Well 'what'?"

"What was the disturbance about?"

Rilyan gave his helmeted head a brief shake of disgust. "Apparently two of the men were greeting one another. The Haradrim, I think. The Scribe is there." He gave his shoulders a shrug.

"That was a greeting?" Laecia asked, unconvinced.

"So says the Peredhel."

Laecia looked quizzical. "If that was a greeting, I'd hate to hear what they sound like when they're truly terrified."

Rilyan began to chuckle, soon followed by Laecia. They rolled into hearty laughter which rang out into the dusk, each elf trailing off into a broad smile.

"Ah, well...it could be worse," Rilyan added.

"Yes, it could," Laecia agreed.

****

With a head swirling and a face full of Radesh's shirt Harah returned to consciousness. He groaned quietly as the hillman deposited him back into the bed he had left only a few hours before. Pain rippled down his side.

"What happened?!" Harah asked with a voice dry and rough.

"You passed out," Radesh replied. "And the Scribe wasn't happy to see it."

"I wasn't happy to do it," Harah answered, "but I did. The Jihiyn?!"

"There is no ghost," Radesh replied with a shake of his head. "Just Khiran."

"Ah! Thank the Bright Sands," Harah said with slight tremble. "Radesh, I ... I..." He peeled away the loose, elven shirt he wore and looked down at the bandaging laced about his upper chest and right shoulder. A patch of bright red seeped out onto the white cotton like some grizzly flower blooming. He turned his dark, rheumy eyes up to his old friend, who stood before him in a tall blur.

"I need the elf maid, Radesh."



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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:21 pm

Northeastwards, near the snowy Coldfells....


"Here! Here, my lord, I found it!" Oronsar loped awkwardly through the deep drifts of snow holding a black leather satchel aloft, Elrohir's satchel, its strap shredded by a wolf's claw. The attacking wolf had died on Elrohir's blade, along with several others and the satchel had dropped in the melee. Around where Oronsar stepped the snow was spotted and flecked with black-red and the bodies of many beast lay lifeless, some gutted, others riddled with elven arrows. The battle was a bloody one, but a rout; only a few stragglers of the wolf pack escaped, wounded, into the stretch of deepening forest.

Oronsar fell to his knees before the bier that Elrohir crouched over. Camthelion lay upon it, bleeding and barely hanging onto the life Eru had blessed him with. The remainder of the wounded had been collected together and were ready to depart for Imladris. Elrohir leaned in closer, so his second could hear him.

"Cam, I am sending Taradaeth with you. He has great skill with such wounds. You will live to see the Havens, I swear it." Camthelion nodded, almost imperceptibly and his grey lips moved, voicing an unheard word. At his feet lay the severed head of the pack's Alpha Male as a trophy, for it was in battling the fell beast that Cam came to such grievous wounds. Elrorhir rose to his feet as the bier was raised. "All right, move out. With a full compliment as guard," Elrohir ordered.

"My lord, a full compliment?" Oronsar echoed, clearly not in agreement with his Prince's order. "Can we spare that many warriors? We have information from the scouts...the clan's increased numbers" He released the satchel as the Prince grabbed it from him.

"Yes, Sar, a full compliment," Elrohir repeated with a voice steeled with patience. "Praise be the Gods," Elrohir said, clasping a hand firmly on the Master's arm. "Well done for finding this. We shall be reinforced in quick time," he added, withdrawing from his satchel a velvet drawstring bag. "Elladan will come himself. Aye, you'll be surprised at how quick, Oronsar."

"How, my lord? How save by the wings of a Great Eagle can we send for aid?"

Elrohir moved off, away from the clump of his officers with Oronsar following. The Prince pulled the opening of the drawstring bag wide and withdrew a crystal orb, flawless, colorless and the size of a ripe plum. Oronsar gazed upon the small stone in wonder.

"A gift to me from my father. Elladan has one, as does our sister," Elrohir explained. "Not all the wonders of the craftsmen of Hollin were lost to us, Sar. With this I can contact my brother Elladan will know of our need and he will come, bringing warriors, arrows, horses. Now leave me, this takes great concentration. See our warriors regroup and reclaim what arrow shafts we can and you can tell them Prince Elladan will join us soon."

Oronsar gave a quick, shallow bow and withdrew leaving Elrohir to the demanding task of using the small stone. He sank to the ground, sitting waist deep in snow and held the crystal before him, summoning up what strength was left to him. The stone lay brightly on his blood soaked hand despite the waning light, for it was illumined from within.

Many leagues away, in Elrond's brightly lit library, his son, Elladan, found his mind had wandered and he felt a momentary chill, despite the brisk fire that burned on the hearth. He wiped his hand on his tunic, absentmindedly, in an attempt to wipe it clean of the blood upon it. Elladan looked down, understanding there was no blood, not on his hand at least. He reached for the now dark crystal orb that sat recessed in a velvet lined box, lifted it free and gazing upon it, he began to concentrate.


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Postby Frelga » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:25 am

"I need the elf maid, Radesh." 

Radesh clicked his tongue in concern at the sight of blood, but he answered lightly. "Vai, Harah, is this any way to be a guest? You find the doors that your hosts think are a great secret, you fight their closets. And now you demand a maid?" 

As he spoke, the hillman opened Harah's shirt and pressed a piece of clean linen over the damp bandages to stem the flow of blood.

"Hold it like that. I will go ask if Elmissir has returned yet. She ought to be back. Garia went with her, she must be ready to be rid of him by now."   
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Postby Bardhwyn » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:58 am

Chuckling, Harah's head fell back onto his pillow and he did as Radesh asked, placing his hand on the cloth the hillman had placed over his wound.

"Maybe, maybe not. An unlikely couple but stranger things have happened," Harah said dreamily, "Like the marriage of the Kefhal and the Laryx; a creature of smoke falls in love with a rare water nymph." He glanced over at Radesh, "A Haradrim tale for children. I will tell it to you someday, not now though." Harah's eyes fluttered shut.
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Postby SilverScribe » Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:42 pm

"Come to dinner," Guilhendar interrupted, finally looking up.

Eyebrows raised, Garia looked at Elmissir. "Well, if we are done, if there is nothing more I can help you with, I will go find my friends. And you, my lady," he winked again and lowered his voice almost to a purr, "should go have your dinner. Your brother is asking so nicely."


Guilhendar stood. "See, even Master Garia agrees," he said with a wide smile. "You can tidy up later, I doubt any of your afternoon's harvest is about to sprout wings and fly away."

"I suppose you're right," Elmissir mused, reaching behind her to untie the work apron. Tossing it onto the worktable she smiled at Garia. "It appears there are no other demands I can make upon you . . . "

"JIHIYN! JIHIYN!!"

She was interrupted by a sudden commotion out in the hallway. Guilhendar was already at the door, pulling it open and stepping out. Elmissir followed him with Garia close on her heels. Her brother's form blocked out most of her view, but she manaaged to catch a glimpse of someone disappearing into a room with something slung over their shoulder and the tall figure of the Scribe standing down at the end of the hall with one of the guards.

"Guil?" she called at her brother's back. "Guil! What is going on?!"

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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:58 pm

OOC: Not to post on top of myself, but this is being put up for our dear, temporarily absent Fool . . . ;) ))


"JIHIYN*! JIHIYN!! Why have you come back to haunt me?? I did nothing to you! Leave me be, spirit of the deceased! Go back to the other-world and warm yourself by their fires, but leave me be!"

Htiet half-rose from his seat, but a hot, warning flash of pain forced him back into the chair. "Ritsay!" he swore, then coughed before calling out, "Khiran! I am no Spirit!"

The Corsair finally stopped shouting but stood in the open doorway with his eyes wide and one hand clenched white-knuckled on the door frame.

Htiet drew a careful breath and let it out slowly, willing himself not to cough again. "Aaiiee, ko komat, if there are any dead here, surely you have awakened them all! But trust me, I am not one of them."

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Postby Cock-Robin » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:53 pm

As Boartooth re-entered the rooms, he either didn't hear or disregarded all the hubbub. He was weary from his journey and had much to do in the morning. Especially getting the Scribe's attention in the practice arena.

So he went to his room for the night. He ignored the bed, which probably wouldn't hold him up as he slept, but found a nice,comfortable rug on the floor. As he settled down, he began to change. He became more furry and finally the transformation was complete, and he was a bear as he lay down to sleep. A rather large black bear.

If any came in on him, they would be quite surprised, if not terrified. But he didn't care. He curled up and went to sleep.
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Postby Frelga » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:58 pm

There wasn't much Garia could or wanted to do to help the Southron. Elmissir had her hands full, and even if her brother hadn't remained hovering nearby, Harah's pains were enough reason to keep distance. Garia watched the fuss for a while. He caught Radesh's eye- the Hillman looked as grim as usual, but only half as much as Guilhendar who had also sent a stare in the same direction. Garia shrugged, and removed himself from the commotion by stepping out onto the veranda. The air outside was fragrant. He even fancied he could find the scent of Elmissir's herb gardens on the breeze that ruffled the trees of Imladris.

Radesh glanced from the healer to the retreating strawhead and decided that the former did not require his services. Garia, he knew, would be bursting with impatience to tell him all about his adventures with the Elf lady, be they real or not. On the other hand, the hillman was tiring of the sickroom misery. He could bear with Garia for a while.

Decision reached, the hillman gave a small bow to the brother and sister and followed the strawhead to the veranda. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the sun-gilded valley he was forbidden to enter.

"Is he dead yet?" Garia joked as Radesh came out, never bothering to turn around.

Radesh did not bother to frown back. "No," was all he replied. An amusing tale of Harah's tussle with the broom closet was on the tip of his tongue, but the Southron's friendship commanded secrecy. He kept his peace.

There were other things Garia had to know, Radesh realized. "Look, Garia, I spoke to Scribe, about last night. The whole story. So don't bother looking innocent if she asks."

"What are you talking about?" Garia needed a moment to find the memory among the pleasantly distracting thoughts that filled his head. "What, the tunnel? Bother that, I'm not the one who opened it first. Did you tell her that?"

"Of course I told her that," Radesh snorted. "Were it up to me, I would not mention you at all. But Harah, well, he must tell every tale in full detail." He shrugged. "Scribe did not seem too upset. Perhaps it will all blow over."

"Don't worry, hillman. I'm in the graces of at least one Elf, if you gather my meaning." He smiled brightly at Radesh, his recollection of the walk with Elmissir already better than reality had been.

"What, even after she walked with you?" Radesh quipped, but he grinned back at his friend even as he feigned surprise.

"You're jealous," Garia pointed out smugly. "And you should be, cooped up here all day, alone with the sandrat. I'm sorry we couldn't take you along," he said with a shrug that implied that he really, really wasn't.

"Do you know, Garia," Radesh began pensively, "I was waiting for you to say just that ever since you walked in. It's good to know I can rely on you." He grinned and slapped a hand against the strawhead's shoulder. A hillman's gesture and perhaps unwelcome to the lowlander. He was forgetting himself. Or, rather, he was remembering. But these were not his Hills. Radesh stepped back.

"By the Great Eagles, Garia, I don't grudge you the Elf girl. But the free air, that I envy you," he said with a sigh.

"Oh, starssake, do me a favour. I thought for certain you'd have talked your way out to the waterfalls by now! This Scribe of yours wouldn't have hired you if she didn't trust you, would she? You know what the problem is, hillman...you're too honest. No, I don't mean that as a compliment, Radesh," Garia raised his eyes to the sky and sighed. "By the stars, if you want to see the gardens, go see the gardens! Do I have to beg Elmissir to find you an escort?"

They had gone down that path before. "How can a man be too honest? He is honest or he is not, and if he is half honest, he is not honest, Garia," Radesh replied, as he had every time. "A man may be too proud, I suppose," he added with his lopsided smile. "They put me under guard for something I didn't do - for something you did, mind. I will ask no favors from them."

"There's a line in the verses they wrote about the war," Garia leant on the railing with a mischievous smile, "that says grim men from the hills came down to fight the darkness. Whoever wrote that must have met you. Only I wonder why he didn't put them down as grim, sulky men from the hills who'd rather be hanged for being honest than argue for the reward they deserve. Damn it all, Radesh," he suddenly slammed his fist against the carved wood, "you deserve a visit to those gardens and I'll get you one. I may not be as honest as you'd like, but I'm your friend."

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Postby Bardhwyn » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:00 pm

... meanwhile, inside...


Elmissir arrived a dozen steps behind her brother, who was pointing at an open doorway, one that the hillman had just exited. She glanced at Radesh, who nodded politely and then left to follow Garia out into the Solarium and out of view. Sighing, she hurried into the room Guilhendar had indicated and was distressed to find the Southron Harah lying on his bed, one hand resting over a patch of linen and his eyes closed. A presence loomed and she looked up to see the Scribe standing beside her.

"He was fine a few minutes ago," the peredhel murmured. "Well, he's not fine now," Elmissir snapped in return, then immediately regretted her tone as the Scribe raised one eyebrow.

"Forgive me Scribbles, but it upsets me to see all my work undone," she apologized. "Could you please fetch my bag from my rooms? I don't want to leave him . . ."

Scribbles nodded and left. Elmissir left Harah's side only long enough to fetch the water jug and basin from the sideboard. She gently moved Harah's hand and lifting the linen, bit her lip at the bright red stain.

"Ah, the touch of an angel," Harah whispered. "I'm afraid I've ruined your excellent work, Mistress."

"Indeed, it seems you have Master Harah," she replied softly. "But not to worry, we shall have you right as spring rain very soon." She tossed the soiled linen to the floor and looked around. She needed that bag, where was the confounded Scribe anyway?!

The Southron dragged his rheumy eyes around the room. "Has the sun set, Mistress Elmissir or has my eyesight failed me once and for all?"

She turned back to the Southron, her gaze flicking to the windows where the brilliant last rays of the sun were turning the treetops and the far mountainsides to molten gold and orange. "The sun is not quite down, Master Harah," she answered, then frowned slightly as an uncomfortable suspicion bloomed. "How dark is it for you?" she prompted gently.

"Hmm, dark," he replied. "I thought it was midnight..." He glanced down at his wound which appeared to him like some dark smear on his shoulder. "It stings..."

"Midnight? Hardly," came the response from the doorway, as the Scribe re-enterd the room with Elmissir's healing bag in one hand. A quick gesture from the healer however stopped her from saying anything further. Instead, Scribbles placed the bag on the bed near to hand and with a shrug, left the room.

"Who was that?" Harah asked, his body suddenly tense.

"Relax Master Harah," Elmissir assured him. "T'was only the Scribe, she brought my bag and has gone again. Now, let's have a look at your shoulder, hmmm?" She found her sharp little knife and deftly cut away the soiled bandaging, then lifted the herbal pack away. The wound had started to close, but had been aggravated, probably by too much movement. She clucked her tongue. "Master Harah, you must promise me that you will rest more. Arrow wounds do not like exercise." She smiled to take the edge off her tone and began preparing some ice bark.

The Southron groaned. "The Silver She-Elf?" He mumbled something unintelligible in Haradrim and blinked forcibly, his head craning up towards the elf-maid. "Rest?" He allowed his head to fall back onto his pillow. "After this evening I think I shall too much of it." Harah swung his head from side to side. "She'll change her mind, now... I know it."




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Postby SilverScribe » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:07 pm

.

"Change her mind?" Elmissir echoed as she carefully bathed the wound. "About what?"

Harah took a sharp intake of breath as the water seeped into his wound. "She hired me, this very night and now," he tried to focus on the wound on his shoulder. "I am weak, wounded. She'll not want me now. But Radesh," with his good arm he reached out and clasped the elf-maid's arm. "I must follow Radesh, Mistress. I cannot explain it, I just know... it is my fate. Please, help me, Mistress Angel." Harah lifted his hand and reached out, hoping he could brush a strand of the elf's hair but his blurred vision betrayed him, causing him to reach wide.

Elmissir caught his hand and gently pressed it back to his side. "I will help you Master Harah, but you must lie still," she reprimanded him gently. She smeared ice bark on a clean linen pad and placed it over the wound. "This will sting only for a moment, then it will feel cold, then it will go numb," she reassured him. "Then I shall re-bind your shoulder and command you to rest for the remainder of the day. As for the Scribe changing her mind, well, I cannot speak for her, but might I remind you that most of her present company are also wounded and she will not leave until they are fit. If she has given her word, then you will be going with them."

She watched the Southron manage a feeble smile. "May it be as you say," Harah whispered.

"Now, while that ice bark works, I want to take a look at your eyes. They should be better, yet they are not and it concerns me . . ." She leaned forward and lifted an eyelid very carefully. "Hmmm, there's redness . . . there's not supposed to be redness . . ." Reaching for her bag, she took out a small notebook and began to flip through it. She stopped at a page and began reciting softly to herself . . . "Aloe, palm oil, camomile . . . "

"Camomile?" Harah repeated. "Is that the little white flower with a wide, yellow center?"

Elmissir looked up and nodded. "Yes, that's the one. Why?"

Harah managed another feeble smile. "My mother, bless her soul, she once gave me a tea made from that flower. We call it kami-lel in Harad. I was plagued by nightmares and she thought it would soothe; I must have been no older than eight or nine. I broke out in red blotches, all over my body. My mother, she was beside herself. I've made sure never to take any infusion or remedy with kami-lel since."

"Oh bother it all," Elmissir said, tossing the notebook back into her bag. "That's it then, the salve I used had a very tiny bit of camomile in it, which was the one thing Lord Elrond added to increase it's effectiveness." She grinned at Harah as she began to wrap his shoulder. "Not to worry though, I happen to have some of the original remedy made up. We'll try that tonight before you sleep and see if there's improvement in the morning."

Harah sighed with relief as the pain subsided; the ice bark was taking hold. "Ah! Come morning I may be graced with the pleasure of seeing your beauty clearly, for the first time? Garia may have a rival, I must warn you." Another feeble smile spread upon the Southron's face.

Elmissir chuckled softly as she carefully tied off the bandages and then patted the Southron's cheek gently. "Master Harah, your silvery words will make me blush. Now, do get some rest. I shall allow you to join the others in the Solarium later for the evening meal, but no more exertion than that, please?" She wound the soiled linens into a ball and began putting things away in her bag.

"A meal? Alas, I am not hungry, Mistress. Perhaps I will just stay here; the beds are so comfortable. You'll return? With this new remedy?" he asked, expectantly.

"I will indeed Master Harah," she answered. "I shall leave your door slightly ajar and return this evening. You have my word." She gathered up her things and smiled at the Southron.

"Thank you, Mistress," Harah whispered. "Were it my choice, my door would be more than just 'ajar', it would be wide open, always. Perhaps I'd have no doors at all. I will rest now, as you ask." Harah allowed his eyes to close and his body to relax and sink deeply into the soft, elvish sheets.

"Rest well," Elmissir whispered, then slipped silently from the room, leaving the door open just a crack, as she had promised.

.

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Postby Cock-Robin » Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:12 pm

As Landroval circled down to Imladris, the call came to him again. He was able to pinpoint it this time, as there were two below on a veranda outside a building. One had the look of a hillman. Now he would get some answers.

The sounds of elvish singing came to his ears, though some paused and pointed up. Songs began of Thorondor and his kin. It pleased Landroval to hear them again. But back to business. He cried out, and more looked up as he descended further.

Down on the veranda, Radesh bent his head to acknowledge Garia's offer. "I suppose..." he began, slowly, because every word caught in his pride like on brambles. He wouldn't ask favors from the Elves. But...from a friend? "I suppose there is no harm in you asking your lady friend to speak for me."

The hillman turned away, then. Garia would gloat and tell him how the pretty Elf would do anything for him. And there wasn't much Radesh could say to that, after he called the fair Elmissir a lady friend to a brigand. He looked up instead, to the clear sky where an eagle circled.

The bird flew so low - but now, the eagle cleared the treetops easily, yards and yards to spare, and the eye corected its error. "Garia?" the hillman broke into the flow of the strawhead's speech. "Does that bird look a little to big for you?"

"Bird?" Garia's mind was among the clouds. "Who knows, it's Elfland. Everything's special here. Bigger birds, bigger...heh. Don't worry, Radesh, Elmissir is a very generous lady, and she is very fond of me. You will be walking these gardens by this time tomorow, my friend, and more than that. I'll make sure you have a guide as pretty as mine. She might even know about your birds! Just don't let her talk too long." He gave Radesh a knowing look, nad not seeing the reaction he expected, followed up with an expressive gesture. "Try a kiss if she doesn't shut up," he finally explained.

"Kiss an Elf?" Radesh looked startled rather than tempted. He had not always been chaste and faithful on his lonely journey - it's been only a week since he spent the night in a fragrant gypsy tent - but Elves? "Don't get me wrong, they are as pretty as flowers, but...well, that's just it. I don't go kissing flowers either. they are not like - they are not - they are Elves!"

The hillman shook his head, and the eagle caught his eye again. It was turning, leaning on the wing. "I am sure that eagle should not be that big," Radesh muttered.

"Yes, kiss an Elf. First of all. Then you kiss her again, and when she's had so much kissing she's purring like a cat in the sunshine, you take her out of sight into the bushes...why do you think these gardens grow so wild? Radesh, of course they're not like our girls, that's why it's so much fun! If you go on with that fool of a Scribe and some swinenosed half-orc sticks you with his blade, the last thing you will ever think to yourself will be," here Garia did his best to mock Radesh's mountain accent, "Vai, Great Eagles, how I wish I had kissed one of those Elves."

"No," Radesh sighed. "I wish only for one last glance at my Hills. But speaking of Great Eagles - look! Look, Garia!" Grasping Garia's shoulder, the hillman spun him round so he had to look at the spiraling bird.

Garia opened his mouth but no words came out. The bird was huge, it was...it wsa Great, and an Eagle, and for one terrible moment the brigand wondered whether it had heard his jeering and would now swoop down to punish it. "That's a..that's..." was all he managed. Some legends were more difficult to believe than others. "It's the size of a horse! And the cart!"

"A Great Eagle!" Radesh whispered. "I never knew, I thought it was just...look, it's coming this way!"

Landroval again heard the call, increased in urgency. One needed his aid, something he hadn't seen or heard since the fall of the Dark Tower. Not even Radagast the Brown had called for him since, and his kin had left fro the West.

His descent increased and went almost into a dive. Some foe, some scion of Morgoth still haunted the land, and even dared to assault Imladris, something that had not happened since the first rise of Sauron when the Ring was first forged.

The gust of his wings blew against the surrounding trees and against the two men. He saw they were frightened as none shoudl be in his presence except orcs and servants of Melkor.

He landed before the veranda. "Fear not! Landroval Wide-Wing, brother of Gwaihir, scion of Thorondor is here," he said. "I have come in response to your call. What is the great need?"

Garia opened his mouth, then shut it tight. He fought his own feet, who wanted badly to take a step back, and nuged Radesh with his elbow. "I think he's talking to you,' he hissed between his teeth.

TBC

Radesh by Frelga, Garia by Rodia
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Postby Frelga » Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:04 am

The thing was too large even to be fearsome. It simply could not fit into the daylit world. Yet it was, without a doubt, an eagle, not unlike the golden eagles that some in the Hills trained to hunt foxes. Only this one could never fit on any wrist. And... it just spoke, didn't it?

Garia's nudge brought Radesh back to life and proved that at least his friend was hearing what the hillman heard. "He is?" Radesh muttered without taking his eyes off the bird. Then, propelled by some sense that it was discourteous to discuss this creature in its presence, he addressed it directly. "Are you?"

Landroval was perplexed that they were talking about him in his presence. Didn't they call him for some great need? That was the reason he remained behind while all his kin left for the West. And didn't these two have any manners? Fixing his gaze on the hillman, he said "Yes I am, for you have called me, and repeatedly. I have come, delaying my journey to the West, to Taniquetil, where Manwë and Thorondor await me. I ask again, what is your great need?"

"My need?" The need that Radesh felt a that moment was to get inside before the spear-sharp beak struck at him. He stood his ground, too proud to run, but also because his heart thrilled to the sight of the great bird. It was the sight granted once in many lifetimes and he would not run from it. "You came - to me? How can that be? I am Radesh of Fahn, a hillman from under the Three Mountains, and my only need is to return home to my people." The last words came of their own accord, his longing for home being always on the hillman's mind. Then the same pride that kept him rooted despite the bird-bright eyes trained on him made him add, "Although I promised to fulfill a quest before I turn back to my Hills. But surely it must be some great Elf-lord that you came to visit."

"Radesh," Garia hissed, once again putting his elbow to good use. He could not take his eyes off the Eagle, but somehow he could not accept that the bird was real, and that it spoke to them, and that it could hear and understand what they said, even if he breathed it in a panicked whisper. "Radesh, you son of a molehill, why didn't you summon this bird when they were marching us off to hard labour? Radesh? Is he going to take you home? On his back? Like the...skies damn, hillman, you never said you could call on a bloody Great Eagle for a favour! Radesh! I'm not drunk, am I?" he suddenly doubted himself and gave the hillman a quick and fearful glance. The bird hadn't vanished- if anything, it seemed bigger. "I'm not, and neither are you, so..."
His voice drifted off into a mangled curse. He had looked at the creature's talons.

Radesh did not turn - he could not take his eyes off the eagle, not for anything, not even if a platoon of orcs were sneaking at him from behind. He just stretched out a hand to the strawhead's shoulder. "Garia, my friend," he said, "I ask you, please be quiet."

"Radesh," Garia replied levelly, "I can't. There's a giant eagle talking to us."

Landroval by Cock-Robin, Garia by Rodia, Hillman by me. :)
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:56 pm

Landroval waited while they discussed. "Nay, Hillman Radesh, it was your voice I heard calling to me, the voice that has troubled my dreams, not the voice of some elf-lord. I have seen those, a son of Elrond far in the north, going off to fight some bandits. But the call came not from there. And your call had great urgency. 'Great Eagles!' was your call. Was it only to be borne home? Was there not some other need? Some attack of orcs or worse? It is to aid the children of Illuvatar against the evils that Morgoth has sent in Middle-Earth that my kin was sent to these lands by Manwë long ago. Fear not that I would strike you, only evil ones need fear me. But to be borne home, would not a horse bear you better?"


"Great... you heard that? I never thought..." Radesh was about to say that he never thought the words were anything but a small vent to his frustration but he caught himself. When faced with an eagle of that size, perhaps there was such as thing as being too honest. "I never thought anyone was listening," he said instead, which was still perfectly true.

Landroval's feathers fluffed for a moment, then he calmed himself. This age, the Age of Men, was already forgetting the great tales, of which he was a part. This was the reason why his brethren had already left. The time for Great Eagles, even of the Elves was part of the past, though some still lingered for a while. This hillman obviously called on him in ignorance. Maybe it was part of Manwë's design that he remain in Middle-Earth for a while until the last vestiges of Melkor's, then Sauron's evil were dealt with, and foes fitted to Men were all that was left.

"Then, hillman Radesh, that will teach you wisdom, not to call on those you do not believe in, unless you wish them to appear. I will not deal with you according to your folly, it is not our way. But maybe there is design in our meeting."

He bent and plucked a feather from his breast, then laid it at the hillman's feet. "Call on me when you have a real need then, and I will come. I shall remain in the circles of Middle-Earth for a while, for it seems that I am needed. Farewell wherever you fare, until your eyrie receives you at the journey's end." said the Eagle.

With that, he spread his wings, and leaped into the air, the gust of his wings blowing against them. He ascended into the skies that he loved. Maybe it had not been in vain after all. Soon, he was again just a dot in the skies, fading into the evening. He did not wait for the elves who were singing the lore of the Great Eagles.

Radesh by Frelga, Garia by Rodia
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Postby Frelga » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:16 am

The Eagle was a golden speck between the clouds. Radesh stood still, watching the distant flight, cradling the feather in his hands. At last the Eagle vanished in the glow of the afternoon sky.

"Big Bird," the hillman said thoughtfully. "Do they show up often?"

"Every morning of the week for the last forty years," Garia replied calmly, staring after the bird, then turned to Radesh. "I don't know! How should I know? You're the one who summoned him!" He grabbed for the feather in Radesh's hand, but the hillman pulled it out of reach. "Let me see. How big is that feather? Look at it!"

The hillman warded off Garia with a shoulder. "I don't think you should touch it. I don't know if I should touch it, either. Does it call him back? Is that what he said?" The feather trembled slightly in Radesh's hands as if longing to join its brothers in the flight. "Did he say how to not call him back? I don't think we want to see him back, not yet at any rate!" He considered this. "He did say he was a he, didn't he?"

"I believe being a brother to Gwahair automatically makes him a 'he' . . ." came a dry reply from behind the two men. "And Master Radesh, you are indeed full of surprises. I had no idea you were a Friend to the Great Eagles." There was a hint of disbelief in the peredhel's voice, tempered with a cautious respect.

"Few people know that," Garia piped up, neglecting to mention that even Radesh was excluded from the lucky number. "It takes more than a ride through the woods to know Radesh of Fahn."
Radesh flinched slightly when Scribbles spoke the words... well, those words aloud and glanced at the Eagle-free horizon. "That's right, he did say 'brother', did he not?" the hillman said, looking slightly dazed and ignoring Garia out of habit.

"Well you can't expect the Windlord himself every time," Garia gave a knowledgeable laugh. He glanced at his friend, but Radesh had not changed into a hero of legends. Even the feather in his hands seemed somewhat smaller.

"I did not," Radesh assured him fervently. "I did not even expect his brother to turn up here."

"I'm surprised he fit on this porch," Garia grinned.

"I'm surprised," Radesh began, then shook himself and went on with more vehemence. "I'm surprised he... there is nothing about him that did not surprise me!" Dala's elbows, he wanted to cry, but the words stuck in his throat. He had enough visitors for one afternoon. "Vai!" he said instead, which seemed safe enough. "First I meet a tame wolf, now a talking eagle. What is next, a dancing bear?"


"I doubt the Lords of Imladris keep bears," Scribbles replied, "dancing or otherwise. So, what do you owe the surprise visit of an Eagle to then, I wonder?" She fixed Garia with a cool gaze. "Unless he sensed someone was needing assistance, or protection perhaps?"

"He said he heard me call him," Radesh replied truthfully. "He said that I may call on him again, in great need."

"That's mountain folk for you," Garia gave Radesh a pat on the back. Too honest- there was such a thing, and the hillman was a prime example if he didn't see how being in a Great Eagle's favour could put him in the Elves' good records, too. "Brothers to the birds and beasts. That's true about the wolf, you know, and another favour Radesh can claim in an hour of great need, for he helped the toothy beast at great cost to himself. If a dancing bear did come through here he'd stop to shake my friend's hand with his great paw, you can be sure of that." Now, he thought, hand on the hillman's shoulder and eyeing the feather, don't go pouring your heart out to her, Radesh, it won't impress her or do you either of us any good.

For once, the hillman's thoughts ran along the same lines as Garia's. It dawned on Radesh that the remarkable thing was not the Eagle turning up - if such birds existed, it was clear they could go anywhere they wished. The remarkable thing was that it had come to him. "Hush, Garia," he said, eyes still fixed dreamily on the horizon. "I don't want a bear any closer than an bowshot. But yes, it's really true about the wolf."

Unknown to them, and unseen, Boartooth had heard some commotion as well as some singing about Great Eagles. He had thought they had all left Middle-Earth, in fact, he once saw some of them depart. He got up from the mat he had been sleeping on, and still in bear's form, padded to the window of his room, just in time to see the Eagle fly off. His ears perked up as he listened to Garia and the Hillman. He growled to himself, almost laughing at the mention of not wanting a bear closer than an bowshot. He thought of showing up, but thought better of it. He had promised Elladan. He turned around and went back to the mat and curled up to rest. He would need it for the events of the next day.

* meanwhile back at the veranda ;) *

Scribbles folded both arms across her chest as she watched the fading speck. "A wolf too, Master Radesh?" she asked with a slight smile. "I wouldn't mention that to Htiet if I were you," she added wryly. "At least not just yet." She groaned inwardly as she caught sight of Elladan's secretary, Amras, hurrying up the main path. 'Now what?' she thought to herself.

Garia by Rodia, Scribe by Scribbles, and the non-dancing bear by Cock-Robin. Go SOMA!
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Postby SilverScribe » Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:07 pm

Guilhendar watched the hallway empty out, his sister and then the Scribe disappearing into the Southron's room, the hillman and his friend moving into the Solarium and then out onto the front veranda, while the Corsair moved into the room where the badly injured Easterling had been put the night before. With a sigh of relief at the relative quiet, he contemplated going back to his own rooms to freshen up before the evening meal, but found the idea singularly boring. Instead, he moved into the empty Solarium and leaned against one side of the arched doorway to the hall, watching out the wide front windows where the two edain stood at the front railing, talking. Though he could see them clearly through the elaborately embroidered, gauzy window hangings, they were far enough to one side of the doors to be out of earshot. This suited him fine, though he wanted to observe the blond edain, he had no desire to eavesdrop on their conversation.

The appearance of the Great Eagle brought his shoulders off the wall in shocked surprise. Thorondor's kin had been scarce even before the War and more so after, yet here was one of them, landing on the manicured lawn right in front of Radesh and Garia. Guilhendar moved to stand just inside the double front doors and a glance at the guards showed them to be as surprised as he was. Fascinated, he moved to one side of the open doorway and silently watched the exchange.

When the Scribe arrived, she arched an eyebrow at him in a silent question. He could do no more than spread his hands and shrug wordlessly. When the Great Eagle launched himself skywards once again, she sauntered out onto the veranda to speak to the men.

"I do not believe what I just saw or heard," the younger of the guards said in hushed Sindarin. "Agreed," put in Laecia "but I cannot deny the evidence of my own eyes. This duty may be boring, but I am not dreaming."

Guilhendar chuckled. "It appears that our guests are far more than they seem," he interjected, spotting Amras. "I cannot wait to hear what Elladan will make of all this."

"Hopefully, enough to relieve us of this particular duty," replied Rilyan grimly. "I have had quite enough of these edain and their strange smells and disruptive customs."

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