Mithril Knights: Guardians of Middle-earth

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

Postby Ari-Anna » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:45 pm

Ara had arrived many months before, but had kept a very low profile, listening mostly and learning and knew that most would not even notice a she-elf with golden hair working as a handmaid if she kept her tongue and mind right, she could easily pass as a Sylvan Elf of Mirkwood.

Ara then wondered why Vanaladiel’s handmaid could not hear the subtle music but decided it was better to simply keep back in the shadows a bit. Ara had made it a point to help Vanaladiels handmaid, of course she also had made it a point to become trusted by the healers. She looked and listened in the background, knowing full well her kind would never be invited to a council of the Wise as they had been long forgotten. She kept this secret to her self, knowing she would be mistaken for a simple handmaid, which suited her. This had a great advantage for her to find out the secrets that she needed to know, besides she had seen great warriors at other councils before and only once did she get noticed and that was by someone many long years ago. She knew if she was stealthy enough even these great Mithril Knights would just interpret her as a simple handmaid. And because of this she was able to feel, albeit not hear, Agarak’s guidance to Vana to wake Erinhue. Of course Ara had many times checked on Erinhue, but did nothing more, no it would not be wise to play that hand yet, patience…patience if at all would that hand be played. What amazed Ara was how everyone was in a much lighter mood after finding out that Erinhue was awake. There was a great love for this one Knight that perhaps one day she would understand in time.

Ara had also noticed the arrival of Tempest. There was a darkness in Tempest’s eyes that Ara had only seen one other time in a land far away from Mirkwood. Ara felt a deep sadness for Tempest, as it was obvious Sauron had deeply wounded her soul, and a deep remorse that Ara could not do more for Tempest.

Ara was a bit dis-heartend by many of the Knights, they seem so tired and so worn, battle weary, it showed in their eyes from time to time. The feeling of regret once again over came Ara. If only we could do more, Ara thought. There was no way she could be convinced this was Eru’s way, but she realized there must be something greater at work here, the arrival of Djazi proved that greater forces were at work. Ara smiled to herself thinking of what the Ents had once said, indeed the world was changing and went back to her handmaid work, hoping no one would notice her.
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Postby erinhue » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:11 pm

The red jewels that were Agarak's eyes were dull but the dragonharp was not asleep. Covertly it was watching the small she-elf that was trying very hard not to be noticed. She appeaered to be a Sylvan Elf but there was something more to her. Her reactions earlier had given her away. She had heard its voice, even though it had not been speaking to her. This was something new, something the old worm had not encountered before.... and it was intrigued. She wanted to stay in the shadows and there was no reason to force her into the light, not yet. As far as Agarak could discern she presented no immediate danger to the Bard and therefore was of little real concern to it... but still she had heard it sing and Agarak was curious.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby Ari-Anna » Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:03 am

Ara had an uneasy feeling about Agarak. She thought she could have reveled too much, which could have been noticed. As the day wore on she could not shake the uneasy feeling about the harp, and wished she would have paid more attention to stories the older ones told when she was younger. A smile crossed her lips as she shook her head I was always in a hurry, never time to slow down, no patience for these enchanted stories and now it had cost her. She hurried through the remaining work and snuck into the room where Agarak was and gently placed her hand in the harp.

‘Please do not reveal me, not yet, it’s too soon’ Ara thought
Agarak could see a pleading in Ara’s tear filled eyes .
‘They will only send me home, but there is no home to go to’ Ara whispered.
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Postby erinhue » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:18 am

Curiosity was one thing but this affront was simply too much. Agarak could see that this young female was upset, but it too was upset. It would tolerate and at times even welcome the touch its bard... but no other especially some stranger,would be born without exacting reprisals.

The dragonharp's red eyes flashed annoyance and its surface temperature suddenly increased to the point where Ari-Anna yanked back her hand and nearly yelped in pain. She stuck the tips of her fingers into her mouth in an attempt to soothe them and quickly stepped away from the harp.
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Postby Claymore » Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:12 pm

Djazi let his eyes wander over the assembled council. There was a broad scala of different emotions. Some faces showed interest,like the Knight with the salt-and-pepper beard, other surprise. A few where neutral and there were also a number of brooding and scowling expressions. One Knight in particular didn't seem to be happy with his presence. From her appearance he guessed that she was one of the Rohirrim. He had heard from Fíriel that they had lost many Riders to the Mumakils. He scraped his throat and began to speak.
-Well, as Lord Aglanor just said , I come from far in the south. To reach the savannas of my land one first has to cross the lands of the Haradrim and survive the harsh southern desert that lies between. My tribe is a tribe of hunters and the Haradrim slave-hunters long left us in peace. We were a small but fierce tribe and they would most probably lose more men than they would capture slaves. It was only eight years ago that they dared to attack us. The Haradrim were preparing to go to war against the north and there was a great need for slaves.
He briefly closed his eyes when he remembered the fateful day that the Haradrim had come.
-It happened when I was away on my initiation hunt. When I came back with the tokens of my success I only found my tribe murdered and the Haradrim feasting and looting the corpses. They captured me but not before I killed or injured a number of them. I would probably have been killed too if the leader of the slave-traders hadn't thought that I would fetch a handsome price as fighting slave. I was only fifteen then. I was sold to Fahlan ibn Yazar and for three years I was trained as a fighting slave. After those three years I was deemed ready to perform in the arenas. Pit slaves fight in twos and I was paired with Baran. He had been captured a year earlier and had been sold to Fahlan because he was too rebellious to be fit for anything else than the arena. Fahlan though it could be funny to pair a black man with a white one. At first we couldn't understand each other. He did not know the tongue of the Haradrim and I knew no other than the tongue of my tribe. Baran was rather distrustful at first but fighting together day after day shapes a bond. He began to talk to me inwestron to drive the loneliness away and I listened. I rather surprised him I think when one day I answered back.
Djazi smiled faintly when he recalled that particular moment. Baran had looked as if it had not been him but a horse that had answered.
Someone suddenly asked:'Why wasn't Baran released when King Elessar signed peace with the Haradrim? One of the conditions was that all northern slaves had to be set free.' Djazi did not see who asked the question.
-Fahlan's arena was situated far in the south and though the message reached him, no-one came to see if he had obeyed. Baran and I had become a feared duo by that time and I guess that Fahlan didn't want to lose that income. I only learned that after my escape.
'How did you escape?' another knight asked. It was the bearded one.'Arena slaves are closely guarded, I remember.'
-Baran fell ill. He would probably have lived if he had been taken care of properly, but he was left to his fate. After he died I took his place under the blanket. They took me instead of Baran to the common grave.
He shivered slightly. His stay among the corpses, covered with quick lime, still haunted his dreams sometimes.
-After my escape I fled to Minas Tirith. I had promised to Baran that I would tell Fíriel about his death. He didn't want that she would remain unsure about his fate.
'But why did you not return to your own lands after that,' yet another voice asked.
-I have nothing left there. Only memories and empty plains. But I'm young and I can fight. I can still do something useful. That's why I would like to replace Baran among your ranks. He told me much about you and I would be greatly honored to become one of your numbers.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Oct 12, 2007 2:12 pm

Tempest listened with narrowed eyes to the young man as he spoke. His face betrayed little emotion, so the truth of what he said could not be easily read in his dark eyes. His story seemed straight forward enough, but one that could easily have been put together by a creative mind. She had known many Haradrim in her days, and they had all been good at one thing: following someone else's orders. She wondered who's orders this man was following now, as he tried to infiltrate their ranks.

Under Sauron, Tempest had often been sent West to spread her poison among the cities of Rohan and Gondor. She had been an effective spy for several reasons: first because she was woman, and second because there had been few who recognized the growing power of Mordor, and therefore were not on guard against it. She had not been well-known in the West simply because those who discovered her usually did not live to tell their tales, or they extended a willing hand in service to Mordor, perceiving a chance for profit and power, thus keeping her secret securely.

Among the denizens of Mordor, however, she had been infamous. It was in the areas of negotiations and strategy that she was invaluable. Many of Sauron's lieutenants were rather stupid creatures, good at following orders and little else. Tempest, however, had shown great aptitude for languages, and her skills grew in time. She spoke several dialects of the languages of both the East and South, asd well as mastering the common Black Speech spoken among the orcs.

So it was that she was sometimes sent South, into Harad. Her dealings with the Haradrim had given her a distaste for them, as she saw them as little better than the orcs, of whom she had utter contempt. They were savage people, willingly becoming slaves to Sauron in return for promises of power and wealth. She had hated them, as she had hated all men, all the peoples of the West, and even Middle Earth itself. Her memories of that time were filled with bitterness and deep anger, which she had used to fill the void she had felt deep within.

If she had been honest with herself, her distrust of Djazi was rooted in the memories of these experiences, and more importantly, the emotions they evoked within her. His very presence in the Guild, in this Guild where she had poured her life, shook her and stirred old hatreds long buried.

"How much did they pay you to come here, to come this far North, to lie to the Mithril Knights?" she asked in a quiet, even tone, when all the others had ceased speaking.

"What do you mean?" the man replied.

"Who sent you?"

Djazi met her gaze squarely and shook his head. "As I have stated, I have come of my own accord."

Tempest stood up, causing Aglanor to also rise, fearing her intentions. This time, when she spoke, she spoke in a Haradrim dialect she was certain the young man knew, and which no one else in the room could understand. "I know your kind. Always willing to sell yourselves to the highest bidder. Who is it this time? The Red Hammer? Another dark lord risen in the South? So, I ask again: Who sent you?"

"Lady Tempest," Lord Aglanor intervened sternly. "You will address the council in Westron."

She turned cold eyes on him. "It will make little difference what language I speak. He is lying. The Haradrim care for no one but themselves."
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Postby erinhue » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:25 pm

“Simmer down there,Tempest, darlin’ I’ll filet him myself if your mistrust is proven to have merit,” Erinhue called out “but you can’t always judge a keg by its label, and I have tapped enough of them to know.”

Erinhue threw his talent into his voice and the projected humor had nearly everyone in the room give a good chuckle if they did not laugh outright. The dangerous tension building in the room lost its momentum.

The bard rose to his feet and knew without looking that he held all attention and every eye. He smiled broadly first at the fuming Tempest and then at the bristling Djazi. He winked at Anglor’s apprehensive alertness as he strode over to the young man.

“ I have spent enough time in the Southern Lands to see that this man is no blood born Haradrim. I have dealt with some of the very tribes he mentioned and they have no love lost over the fall of the Shadow.” Erinhue paused and looked around to be certain everyone was listening as he continued. “ I’ve met this Fahlan ibn Yazar,” here he snorted derisively, “ the best crafted piece of dung I’ve ever had the displeasure of shaking off of my boots. To pair Djazi with Baran, to match black with white, would suit his particularly twisted sense of what is funny.”

The bard had crossed the short distance to the front of the assemblage. He was standing directly in front of Djazi. The previous smile was gone from his face but his expression was still friendly. The truth of that sentiment rode in his voice and peeked from his sea gray eyes. The talent of his voice was set to soothe and encourage trust. He held the look until he saw a change in the young man’s eyes before he spoke.

“Give me your arm.”
Djazi glared at him for a moment and made a decision. His dark eyes fixed suspiciously on the eyes of this tall Knight as he extended his left arm. Erinhue nodded slightly but never broke eye contact as he took Djazi’s arm and shoved back the sleeve of his shirt. Satisfied with the faint markings of healed burns on his skin,Erinhue nodded again and turned back to the gathered Mithril Knights.

“His skin has been burned by chemicals, if asked, I’d say it was quick lime.” ” Erinhue announced “The part about hiding in a grave has the ring of truth to it, if you're asking me.”

The bard nodded at Djazi as the young man pushed his sleeve back to cover his arm. It might have been his imagination but Erinhue thought he saw a flicker of something new in the dark eyes of this young man of the South. The bard winked at whatever it was as he reclaimed his seat.
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Postby Tempest » Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:43 pm

Don't be a fool, Erinhue, Tempest thought to herself as she watched him return to his seat after examining Djazi's arm. She bit her tongue to prevent a stern remark, but she gave Aglanor a warning glance that conveyed her displeasure at the proceedings. She reluctantly sat down, but not before turning again to the Knights around her. "This man speaks of Baran, and he may know much indeed from fighting side by side with him. But consider also that it is possible that Baran fell into his hands, suffering cruelly until he divulged information about the Mithril Knights. Erinhue has a good heart. He would seek to advise us to give this man a chance to prove the verasity of his words. She motioned toward Djazi where he stood before them. "And I will concede that he may be right, this man may very well be speaking the truth. But I ask you this: is it worth the risk? Is this the time for idle chances? We may possibly stand on the brink of another war, should the Red Hammer reveal themselves again. And if that time should come, I certainly want to take up arms with those I trust, those proven in battle, and not be afraid of the spear in the back from one who I do not know, from a people whose hands are stained with our blood already and who have proven themselves treacherous in the past!"

With this last statement, and with a parting glance at at Djazi, Tempest sat back down.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:36 pm

After seeing the carrier pigeon off with his letter to Leoba, Dirk had lost his appetite; but sought out lunch nonetheless. It could well be a long meeting behind closed doors, he thought, and I'll need the sustenance in order to maintain concentration.

He ate a light meal consisting mostly of roast venison, hard cheese and cold milk at the rough-hewn table inside the large kitchen, rather than in the dining room or taproom. He needed to be alone in order to begin his exercises.

Dirk had lived inside of his own head for the better part of a month, pausing in his reflection only for mundane, day-to-day interactions with the world. But for this meeting, he felt it would be best to turn his full attention outward; to bring his full sensibilities to bear.

Once he was done eating, he deepened his respiration and began to tune his mind in to each of his senses. As he did so, they became sharply focused. Eöl’s training had not increased his ability to see or hear or smell. Rather, the shade of the ancient dark elf had taught Dirk to concentrate so deeply that he heard and saw and smelled and felt and even tasted every stimulus that his relatively weak human senses could collect; and to take them all in simultaneously. Further, his training allowed him to analyze the information while he continued to receive further sensations. This distinctly elvish ability, though hampered by human limitation, would eventually become second nature to him. Or so he was told by the dark elf, for though it had been months, it still required considerable conscious effort.

Once he had completed the exercise that brought him into full awareness of his surroundings, Dirk headed to the Main Meeting Hall.



He entered the low-ceilinged chamber, sat in the closest open seat to the main exit, and took stock. He was one of the last to arrive, just prior to Erinhue and Vanaladiel. In a flash, he noted who was there, where they sat, and their mood according to body language and breathing pattern. He was only able to discern the heart rate of those closest to him, Anorast, sitting two seats away and seemingly placid, and the guard at the main door through which he had just entered, who was getting more anxious by the second, though he showed no outward sign.

Dirk leaned back in the plush chair and found that his chosen seat, combined with the afternoon sun streaming golden through the high windows, afforded him a nice shadow in which to lurk.

He remained silently obscured within the shadow as Erinhue and Vana entered amid hushed but excited fanfare.

Aglanor gave his opening statements and still Dirk did not stir. He sat; countenance veiled in that providential shadow until the face of the one called Djazi entered his heightened sensibilities.

He leaned forward with a lurch and reached out to hold the thick edge of the magnificent oaken table as the stoic man with the black skin strode slowly forward, revealing his features to the assemblage.

While taking in and noting every word of Aglanor's speech, Dirk searched his memory.

Dirk listened intently, as the man told his tale, for some clue that would help him connect this visage to the memory he held deep within.

Where have I seen this man? he asked himself.

Then it dawned on him, The vision, at my initiation. My father, my REAL father. He hadn't yet taken up the ring. It sat there in his lap. And there, standing before the throne in that southern kingdom...

Dirk had allowed himself to retreat into his own thoughts. He cursed himself silently, for now Tempest was on her feet, and so too were Aglanor and Erinhue. He scanned the room once more. Tension mounted on every face and in every breath. Every one, except the Bard's and Lord Anorast's, that is.

The Bard was a very adept performer. He was extremely talented at manipulating his audiences' emotions with the inflection of his vocal tone, as well as his subtle mannerisms.

This is no over-actor, thought Dirk.

But despite the calming effect of Erinhue's silky baritone voice, and the uneasy mirth with which the room responded to him, three hands now rested upon the hilts of swords beneath the table, not counting his own, which had strayed to the black pommel of Neleg Amlug on instinct alone, without the slightest thought. The guards, too, had stepped forward off the walls a pace and had reached for, but not drawn, their short swords.

"...And if that time should come, I certainly want to take up arms with those I trust, those proven in battle, and not be afraid of the spear in the back from one who I do not know, from a people whose hands are stained with our blood already and who have proven themselves treacherous in the past!"

Tempest's words echoed in the close air of the chamber as she regained her seat. The guards stepped back and Aglanor retook his seat between Tempest and Djazi. All the while, the southern tribesman stood firm, never once allowing his features to betray any apprehension or fear.

In the thick silence that followed, Dirk stifled his old inclination to quick and rash words. He could no longer afford to be the imprudent, impulsive boy that he once was. The young Knight leaned back within his comfortably concealing shadow and gauged the reactions of the others.

Dirk thought that he could reasonably guess the decisions of his fellow Knights, even before any of them spoke - except, once again, for Lord Anorast. It was as if the old elf was concealing himself from the others emotionally, just as Dirk was attempting to do with the shadow across his seat.

The unbearable silence lasted for what seemed an eternity. Then Dirk, having now weighed the situation, both as a whole and within the Meeting Hall, decided to speak.

Without standing, or even leaning forward, so that his face remained obscured by the shadow, Dirk said, "I am inclined to trust this man," he began in his hoarse whisper caused by a knife-blade across his larynx, "but if the Lady is not, then perhaps she should keep a close eye on him, as his mentor. As for a task, perhaps something will come up later in the council that will point us to where Djazi's spear might be of the most use."

As he nodded respectfully to Aglanor, then to Djazi, Dirk became acutely aware that Lord Anorast had let down his guard, if only for the merest fraction of a second. A nearly-silent sucking of breath between the elf’s teeth told Dirk that he had touched a nerve. Dirk's mention of the latter business of the council had caught him unaware. It was just enough to tell Dirk what he needed to know: Sir Aglanor wasn't the only one who knew what else was in store at this council. Lord Anorast knew what wait in the wings for later, and it made the otherwise inscrutable elf squirm.


(ooc: dark red is a quote from Tempest's post)
Rest In Peace, Dirk. 2002-2013
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Postby Elenath » Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:32 pm

Elenath watched the man closely as he stood at the head of the table. She knew the source of her reactions. However, that did not mean they were wrong. She stood up, drawing the eyes of the assembly.

"I am not one to judge without knowledge," the elf said evenly. "Lord Erinhue may very well be correct. This man may be worthy of our trust." She turned slightly. "But the Lady may be correct as well. This is not a time to give such trust lightly. It would be better to wrong him than to compromise the secrets of our order."

She paused, her eyes on the dark face across the room. "I am not inclined to accept such a risk at such an uncertain time, and in the absence of Lord Elbren. However, if this council decides otherwise, I would ask that he be watched by those who know what to watch for. Whether that be the Lady, as you suggest," she nodded toward Dirk, "or another, they must be mindful."

She was aware that a few of the Knight shifted uncomfortably as she sat down. Her mind was still pondering the questions revolving around this young man. Was his arrival now merely coincidence, or was he involved in whatever matter it was that Lord Aglanor deemed so urgent? She was not inclined to trust him, but she knew that had little to do with the man himself. He was a man of the South, and though she could tell herself that they were as different from one another as the elves, it was only to be expected that she would wish to have little to do with any of them.
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Postby Guruthostirn » Sun Oct 14, 2007 1:21 am

Silently the old elf sat, looking around the council chamber, watching. When Dirk entered the hall Anorast looked at the young man. They had shared words, and shared a bond. Yet Anorast, from their previous conversation, knew that Dirk now walked a road that the elf would not follow. Dirk was now a student of the Dark Elf, where Anorast was only the wielder, and master, of one of Eöl’s weapons. The ancient blacksmith had been easily the greatest artisan of Middle Earth, and as such had known much of the powers given to the elves. In the silence and focus surrounding the young man Anorast recognized the elvish influence, and once again wondered what Dirk had learned so far. The two of them would need to continue their conversation, interrupted by the battle for Erebor. The bond, between the mortal's armor and training, and the old elf's unique blade, could not be ignored, and judging by the bond between Anguirel and the Sickle of Varda, might be more than either individual imagined.

Within seconds a great commotion filled the room. Master Erinhue and Lady Vanaladiel entered the chamber, and were greeted by nearly all the assembled knights. While waiting for the knights to assemble Anorast had been told that Erinhue, after being taken by the Berserker, had been knocked senseless, and been unconscious ever since. Only the day before had Lady Vanaladiel woken the great warrior from his sleep. The Berserker was another question for Anorast. After the battle at Laketown he had heard tales of the Berserker, utterly reckless, without control, knowing neither friend nor foe. Yet in the battle the Berserker had heeded Anorast's command. When Erinhue sat and looked his way Anorast nodded his head, offering a faint smile, now a rare sight.

When Sir Aglanor started the council, Anorast was surprised that the House Steward did not immediately reveal the scale, now wrapped in fabric, resting upon the table. Instead the other visitor came forward. Anorast had heard nothing of the arrival of the southerner. Introduced as Djazi, the man seemed to match his story. Though his movements were few the old elf recognized highly trained muscles, the smooth confidence of a proven fighter. The story itself, though interesting, mattered little to Anorast. Being so new to the Mithril Knights the old elf had not met Beren. Instead he listened to Djazi's tones, inflections, and body language. Yet they revealed nothing, only a high degree of control, and again, a match to his story.

As the knights began to discuss the new arrival Anorast felt tinges of amusement. Though he'd never ventured to the south Anorast had traveled far east, meeting strange cultures, odd people. The man's ancestry and origins meant little, but the possibility that he was a spy was worth a concern. However, the other knights seemed to address the situation most excellently, and Anorast felt no need to speak. Then, beside him, Dirk spoke.

"I am inclined to trust this man, but if the Lady is not, then perhaps she should keep a close eye on him, as his mentor. As for a task, perhaps something will come up later in the council that will point us to where Djazi's spear might be of the most use."

Instantly Anorast recognized a change. He was the only one beside Sir Aglanor who knew what rested under the cloth in the middle of the table, knew what it meant. Dirk did not know what he was suggesting. A journey, battle, and death awaited all assembled within the chamber, yet none knew it yet. Well intentioned as Dirk was the young knight had no idea what he was suggesting. There was a bond of battle between all the knights, and bringing along another, a stranger, would be a weakness, and Anorast doubted they could afford it. However, this stranger might be worth the risk. It was time to speak.

"Only time will tell whether or not Djazi is to be trusted," Anorast said, his voice quietly filling the room. "For now, he offers no reason not to trust him, other than his origins. We all know that a person's past is not always the person, otherwise there would be far fewer of us here."

Around the room many bodies shifted slightly. Even if Anorast's words did not directly touched each knight, they all knew of fellow knights who's past had been left behind, only reminding them of the path not to follow.

"I say we invite him to stay, be taken under the guidance of a mentor."

As Anorast fell silent he felt around the room that little had changed. There was still mistrust and anger. The old elf could not let things lie. Turning his head he looked directly at Djazi.

"Besides, even if he turns out to be false, we shall have little trouble dealing with him."
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Postby SmaugsBane » Sun Oct 14, 2007 7:49 am

Dirk realized his mistake once Elenath spoke. Her wise words rang true immediately and the young knight saw the error in voicing his trust for Djazi, though not for the same reason the others were likely to perceive. They all knew him as quick-acting and -speaking, with little forethought. Therefore, everyone, save one, in the room was likely to think that Dirk had cast his lot in with the dark man rashly and without knowing of what he spoke.

But Dirk knew better; and somehow he thought that Anorast knew as well. Dirk's observance of the man proudly standing at the head of the table yielded the clues that led him to his conclusion: that he harbored no fear in the face of the Mithril Knights.

It wasn't arrogance. It wasn't that he thought he could take them all on and prevail. Rather, he did not fear them because he knew that he had done nothing to warrant their distrust and anger. He did not fear them because he knew that they an Order based on honor; and could not kill a man without just cause. He had done nothing to give them just cause. Djazi could be trusted because he spoke the truth: he knew Baran and befriended him, which is where he learned of the Knights' honor. All this Dirk perceived in the man's language, verbal and non-verbal. Eöl would be proud.

But, Djazi had not revealed his entire story, which was obvious to all. Though what he had said was entirely truthful, he held back much. So had Dirk. So had every single Knight in the meeting hall. Even Tempest had many secrets deep within the well behind her eyes. She should understand as much as any of them. But Dirk knew that nothing could slake her suspicious mind, even if his entire history and knowledge were laid bare by necromancy, she would mistrust the man until he proved himself through trial in battle.

Dirk noticed that Anorast was now reading him as he had tried to read the old elf. There were things unspoken between them. Things that Dirk knew were necessary, but also knew were likely cause him to reveal himself to Anorast, so he had avoided the general since the rout of the Red Hammer siege army. His grey eyes, burning with the encased fire that had threatened to engulf him, locked on those of the ancient elf. He resisted the desire to turn away, lest Anorast find what was hidden there. Then the moment passed and the elf relented, casually turning his attention to the head of the table.

Dirk willed himself deeper into the shadows of the winged armchair as the Guildhouse Steward began again to speak.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:56 am

The Lady Vanaladiel sat listening to those around her. Once or twice she thought that someone might rush the table and go for the dark skinned man. Her hand rested upon the dagger that she had strapped to her leg beneath her skirts. She had not felt a need to bear arms such as her sword to the meeting. Now she was beginning to regret that course of action.

Many spoke and many had grim faces nodding now and again with the different knights as they spoke out on the situation at hand.

Tempest had been so angry and the venom in her voice was unmistakable. Yet Erinhue had stood and calmed the storm before it could explode.

Suddenly a voice from behind her spoke out of the dark shadows and almost made her jump. It was Dirk with his raspy deep voice who spoke calmly yet so directly. She had not heard his voice for some time and didn't remember seeing him in the room when they first arrived. She knew she needed to be more observant then she had been. Perhaps she had felt safe within the guildhouse so she didn't find it necessary to be on full alert but these matters reminded her that no where was absolutely safe anymore. Even here there was this stranger who seemed to have come within the walls of this safe haven and could be a potential threat to the very survival of the Mithril Knights.

Across the table Lord Anorast spoke. His voice quiet but not revealing anything yet causing many to wonder at his insightful reminding. Glances passed between Anorast and Dirk and between Dirk and Aglanor. Something was up! They all knew something that no one else did. She could feel it within her skin that something else was going on or about to, though she didn't know what. Slowly she crossed her leg and at the same time pulled her skirt hem up to loose her dagger and bring it within her hand upon her lap.

You could almost feel the tension growing and the air of suspicion becoming unsurmountable. As Vana sat there the Bard gently placed his hand upon hers as if he could feel her growing apprehension. He flashed her one of his famous smiles. The sparkle in his eyes was an amazing contrast to the task at hand. She could tell he was calm and believed this man of the south.

Vana then realized she must have been holding her breath because she made a noise as she took a deep breath to help release the tension. A few heads turned as if expecting her to add to the conversation but she would not. The smile that was upon her face suddenly gone. She hadn't even realized that she had responded in kind to Erinhue. She sat back quietly into her chair for she had learned long ago to sit and just soak up what others said finding it more profound and more educational then to open her mouth and try to add further fuel to the fire.

Then Lord Aglanor spoke out again to the congregation gathered there.
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Postby Mithril Knights » Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:53 pm

Sir Aglanor half stood in the silence that followed Lord Anorast's speech; but sat again when it seemed that Lady Vanaladiel, the only Knight left at the council who had not expressed her opinion, would speak. But it appeared that she thought better of it and settled back into her chair.

"Lady Vanaladiel," the Guildhouse Steward rose and moved to stand beside Djazi at the head of the table, "we have not yet heard from you, do you wish to address this council, as is your right, or do you defer to the majority who have already spoken?"

With a silent sweep of her hand, the Lady from Eryn Lasgalen indicated the latter.

"It seems then, that in the absence of our Guildmaster and Knight Marshal, it comes to me to decide Djazi's fate," he placed his hand on the southerner's shoulder, "at least insomuch as your continued presence in this Guildhouse and further participation in the business of the Order."

Sir Aglanor motioned for Djazi to stand aside and allow him to move his chair back to the central position. Aglanor sat and folded his hands again in front of himself on the table. He spoke slowly, so that the scribe was able to record every word.

"In light of the majority of those present who deem it right to do so, Djazi of Far Harad will be taken on this day as Knight in Training in The Mithril Knights Warrior's Guild." He shifted slightly in his seat so that he could look Lady Tempest in the eye, "Also, I would like to add that I see wisdom in some of Lady Tempest's protests, namely whether it is prudent to take on a new apprentice in these trying times. To this, I would reply," he took a deep breath, "should her intuition prove true and those of the rest of us here gathered false, then I deem it wiser to keep the enemy in plain sight and within reach, as Lord Anorast implied. Better to have him walking beside us under the care of a mentor Knight, than haunting our steps, lurking in our shadows, unbeknownst until a trap is sprung.

"Djazi, please take a seat," he indicated the chairs against the north wall, opposite the windows. "As a Knight in Training, you will be present for the rest of this council, however, unless you are called upon, do not speak. Your role among the Knights, from this point until you are initiated, should that be the will of Illúvatar, is to listen, observe, learn, and do as you are instructed."

The proud hunter/warrior nodded in acquiescence and sat where he was bidden. There was no trace of affront upon his countenance. If any emotion could be discerned, it was the smallest hint of relief. He had succeeded in what he traveled so far to do: gaining the chance to prove himself and gain a Knighthood in the Guild, as he had promised Sir Baran.

"We have nearly settled now our first order of business. The last item of concern before we move on to the second order of business, is the matter of Djazi's mentor," he smiled in the direction of Elenath, then again towards the shadowed Dirk. "It has been suggested that the Lady Tempest fill this role, and I am inclined to agree, it would be good for both of them. However, according to tradition, Knight-in-Training mentors have always volunteered for the opportunity to take on an apprentice. Therefore I ask," He turned to speak directly to Tempest, "Lady will you guide Djazi on the road between here and Knighthood? Or must we find another amongst these Knights?"

In anticipatory silence, the gaze of everyone in attendance searched the face the defiant Rohirrim woman, looking to read her mood as she weighed her options before deciding.
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Postby erinhue » Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:15 pm

Erinhue was not too surprised to hear Aglanor's pronouncement. He had a sixth sense for the Darkness and those who served it's purpose. There was none of that in this man. To be sure he had not answered every question that could arise and there was more to his personal story that lay hidden still, but what man doesn't have a secret or two. This one had not been claimed by the Darkness and his presence in the Guildhouse, his efforts to seek it out said that he did not seek to serve those that would snuff out the Light. That was enough for the bard to adopt a "we'll wait and then we'll see" attitude.

What did surprise him was when Aglanor suggested that Tempest serve as Djazi's mentor Knight. The obvious mirth in the situation cost him his balance and Erinhue made a rather undignified scramble not to spill himself out of his tilted back chair.

A dozen clever things to say, several of which would really test the Stormy One's temper, came swiftly to mind, but he sensed that Tempest was only a hair or two from stabbing him already. Erinhue deciced that in this case, the better part of valor was to keep his mouth shut.
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Postby Tempest » Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:24 pm

Erinhue was not the only one who nearly lost his balance when Lord Aglanor turned to Tempest and said "Lady will you guide Djazi on the road between here and Knighthood? Or must we find another amongst these Knights?"

With an incredulous look on her face, Tempest glanced from the impassive face of Djazi to Aglanor, to Erinhue (who was struggling to compose himself again) and back to Aglanor.

"You can't be serious," was her first response. "The last thing I need is someone around to distract my attention from the task at hand." Her mouth twitched with a look almost of amusement, except her eyes did not betray any mirth. "Besides, I have not the temperment for such things."

One of the Knights coughed at this, but Tempest could not locate where the sound originated. Looking at Djazi, it seemed to her that the young man appeared relieved at the decision, though his face remained emotionless, his body relaxed slightly. She crossed her arms and continued to watch him.

Aglanor raised his hand and continued. "Since the Lady declines, we must find another mentor. Who among you is willing to take on a Knight in Training?"

However, before anyone could answer, Tempest stood up again. In the brief span of time that passed, a thought had occured to her. She felt the vote of confidence in Djazi revealed a certain amount of naivite on behalf of her fellow Knights. It was one of the things that troubled her about the Order in general. Though they had proven themselves wise in many ways, she felt they were too trusting, too willing to give the enemy the benefit of the doubt. She could see that Djazi would be assigned to a Knight who had voted in his favor, and she wondered if that Knight would be on guard against him the way she believed should be.

She cleared her throat and fairly glared at the rest of those sitting around the table. "I have reconsidered. I will take the Haradrim under my watch," she said shortly.

Stunned silence followed this declaration, though glances were exchanged throughout the room.

Aglanor cleared his throat. "He is to be treated as a Knight in Training. It has been voted upon by the Council," he reminded her, as though suddenly fearing that she might injure Djazi when no one was looking.

"I understand that," she snapped.

"If he passes his training, then he will follow the initiation process as usual." He paused for a moment. "Djazi is to be given a fair chance."

Tempest's eyes darkened. "Do you think me unfair?"

"No, but remember that the council has voted in his favor," he warned.

"I realize that! I was present for the vote! Or did you not see me?" Her voice rose, but then came back to the eerie calmness that was worse than shouting. "I will honor the Oath we took. You shall see for yourself whether or not my fears are confirmed. " She sat down again with her arms crossed, as if to signal that the discussion was over and they should proceed to the next item on the agenda.
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Postby Mithril Knights » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:29 pm

"Well then," still standing after the confrontation with the Lady Knight, Aglanor proceeded without breaking eye contact with Tempest, "that question is answered.

"Djazi," he turned toward the newcomer, "I trust you read the Westron tongue as well as you speak it?" Djazi nodded curtly. "A copy of our Oath, as well as the names and ranks of the Mithril Knights will be placed in your room this evening.

"Finally, there is a tradition, a courtesy that the Mithril Knights extend to new Knights in Training."

Since Aglanor did not turn away from Djazi, he heard, rather than saw, Tempest's displeasure in what she knew the Steward was about to say: a low growl like a cornered beast and a violent re-crossing of her arms. Aglanor's only acknowledgement of the display was a slight over emphasis of his next word.

"All new Knights-in-Training are encouraged to visit the Guildhouse armory and choose what they will, in order that they be adequately armed and supplied for their quest." He lowered his head slightly, "As you are aware, this Guildhouse recently served to provide arms and supplies for a large battle, and I am embarrassed to say that we are sorely depleted. Nonetheless, you should be able to find well-made, if not fancy, weapons and sturdy armor, as well as other gear for travel and battle."

Aglanor sat once again in his chair at the head of the table, and added with an air of authority, "Lastly, know that it is strictly forbidden for Knight in Training to choose relic items, that is any piece of gear with historical value, as is the use of mithril arms or armor by any but initiated Knights who have earned them. Is this understood?" Again, the dark man nodded once. "Excellent, Lady Elenath, as Master at Arms, would you please find time tomorrow to escort Djazi to the armory?"

She too nodded in the affirmative.

As if to lend finality to the subject, Aglanor allowed the silence to deepen, like the dark outside the windows, for it was just after sunset. The guards and the scribe lit candles and torches.

Then Aglanor stood silently, motioning for the physician to follow him to the rear door of the room. The two disappeared for a moment, and then returned, supporting a man by his arms between them.

The man was bent as if with extreme old age. But as they made their way to the center of the table and sat him in an empty chair with his back to the windows on the south wall, they saw that he was not elderly at all. He appeared frail and thin, like a man who had just risen from his sick bed after nearly starving to death, which of course was the case.

Vanaladiel gasped audibly when the man sat and lifted his head to look at those who were gathered about him. His eyes bore no weakness whatsoever. But rather they were the very same grey eyes with the very same unfathomable fire as the King's. Though she wasn't the only one to notice the resemblance, she was the only one to express aloud the reaction that every one of them had felt, including Anorast. For even though the old elf had seen what was hidden under the cloth that Aglanor now handed to the Ranger, he had not known anything about the one who brought it to the Guildhouse.

After placing the bundle on the table before the man, Aglanor strode slowly back to his seat, speaking as he walked, "My fellow Mithril Knights, Guild physician and guards, and Knight in Training, may I introduce to you Haldad, Chieftain of the Dúnedain of the North, brother of Halbarad, who fell at Pelennor, and cousin to King Ellesar." Aglanor sat and inclined his head towards Haldad, indicating that the floor was now his.

"Mithril Knights," Haldad's voice belied his frail looks, "I have come, flying before starvation and death, to deliver this." He reached down and removed the cloth from the gleaming grey scale. This time more than one gasp came from the assemblage. "I have also come to tell you our tale and to implore the Knights to help us."

He looked into the eyes of each of them before asking a question, "Does any of you know what this is?"

"It is a dragon's scale," said Anorast. Then he added less matter-of-factly, "but I confess I have not seen its match. I have seen dragon scales before, on a living worm, but they had been larger, and black."

"Cold-drake," a voice whispered.

"What was that?" asked Aglanor, "If someone can give us insight, please speak up."

"It's from a Cold-drake," it was Tempest more clearly, but she was no longer the fiery creature who'd railed against Djazi only to volunteer to teach him. She was quiet, introspective, "In," she paused searching for the words, "my previous travels, I have seen such a beast. It is a Cold Drake that dropped that scale. And you are nearly right, Anorast, a Cold-drake is a dragon, the least of dragon-kind, without the ability to make fire. However, they have wings and long talons and fierce fangs, and are not to be trifled with." She drew a breath, "Although I saw one," another pause, "elsewhere, they were supposed to have been driven far out of Middle-earth, into the northern wastes."

"Well, my Lady, it seems that my people have been visited by one of these Cold-drakes." The Ranger sat up taller than he seemed capable of moments before, "The time has come for me to tell you my tale. I pray that you listen."

Once again, the air in the room grew close and the only sounds to be heard were the night animals, coming alive in the deepening shadows outside the windows.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 15, 2007 5:23 am

On a shelf in the healer's hall, Agarak's red jewel eyes flared brightly.
Something had disturbed its slumber and the dragonharp was fully awake.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 15, 2007 5:45 am

Cold Drake.

Erinhue eyebrows shot upward and the front legs of his chair thumped to the floor. His relaxed posture became one of complete attention.

Cold Drake.

That was something from the tales nurses told to frighten children in the halls of Dol Amroth. At first sight of that dark scale warning prickled across Erinhue’s scalp. The instant the words Cold Drake were spoken he felt Agarak wake up. The harp was apprehensive and that was never a good sign.
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Postby Elenath » Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:26 pm

Elenath had tensed the moment she laid eyes on the dragon scale. A cold-drake. It would be easier to face than a fire-dragon, at least. A memory rose clearly in her mind, unbidden, and she saw again the battle of Dagor Bragollach, as Glaurung wreaked havoc among the elves. She blinked it away with some difficulty, re-focusing on the Ranger.

Yes, it would be easier to face than an urulóki, but that was not to say it would be an easy task. She had fought off a cold-drake before, but that had been with a force of elves, trained to perfection. Her fellow Knights were all skilled, but many of them were human. None of them, that she knew of, had much knowledge of fighting dragons. And there were few Knights here at all.

She sighed, leaning back a little as she waited for the Ranger to speak. If a cold-drake has ventured south, she thought, no wonder the land felt uneasy.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:01 pm

Dirk did not need to hear Aglanor's introduction to know who he was. He did not need anyone to tell him the man was Halbarad's brother to know his own uncle. Even though they had never met, and Dirk did not yet know his name, he knew he looked into the eyes of the brother of Minya, the Dúnedan woman who had died giving birth to him. He knew the moment the man looked up, for looking into his eyes was like looking in a mirror.

Dirk lost concentration for a single point in time, a widening of his eyes and a clenching of his jaw. The lapse was short enough that his reaction was not seen or heard by anyone, even Anorast, for their attention was wholly on the man; and thankfully, Lady Vanaladiel's reaction was enough to divert any eye that was on him. But it was long enough to cause alarm in Dirk's mind.

Dirk heard Sir Aglanor's brief introduction, confirming what he knew, and giving a name to the familiar face. The young Knight then tightened his grip on himself and studied Haldad, even as he saw and heard about the Cold-drake scale.

He took several deep breaths and refocussed on the task at hand. He would have to meditate later on the complication of Haldad's presence, on how the Ranger would take to the spawn of his sister's murderer, the result of the necromancy that caused Minya to carry the son of a monster. The son she lost her life for, bringing him into the world.

Dirk appreciated very much the concealing nature of the shadows cast by the dancing torclight, the flickering candles. In the full dark of night, his face was hidden even better than the by fortunate shadow of the afternoon.

Dirk was now fully in control of himself again and glanced about the room, with special attention paid to Anorast, Tempest, and Djazi, and saw that all were completely enthralled as Haldad told hs tale. Dirk turned his perception now on the Dúnedan Chieftain, taking in everything he conveyed, verbally and non-verbally.
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Postby Mithril Knights » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:37 pm

The Ranger lifted his voice to speak, attaining a strong pitch and dynamic that seemed detached from the frail body from which it emanated. His voice and his eyes told those who looked into them and heard him that he was a proud man, strong in spirit as well as in arms.

"As Sir Aglanor has told you, I am Haldad, son of Haldan, and I am Chieftain of the Dúnedain of the North. Before I begin the tale of the drake, it is necessary to tell you of the Rangers and our duties since the War of Ring.

"Soon after King Ellesar and his friends from Rohan, Lórien, Belfalas, and other lands were victorious and the business of clean up after the battles was done, the King vowed to rebuild the North Kingdom of Men, Arnor of old, a reuniting of the three lesser kingdoms, Arthedain, Cardolan, Rhaudur. And for that task, I was appointed Chieftain, an office that has only been occupied during the time since the last kings died. It will cease to be when the city is rebuilt and a new King is crowned to govern the rebuilt Arnor as a province of Gondor, under its King."

During these words of kings and kingdoms, Haldad bore a wistful, far-off look. As Aragorn's close kinsman amongst the still-sparse Dúnedain, he was the likely successor to the crown of Arnor. But then the mist cleared and his brow furrowed, his countenance hardened as he began to tell of the hardships of rebuilding Arnor's capital.

"I arrived more than eight years ago at the ruins of Fornost with a band of men and some dwarves from the Lonely Mountain, sent by the King's friend, Gimli, to aid in the construction; and knew immediately why, even after the Witch-king was defeated, (Dirk shifted a bit in his seat) Arnor was abandoned. Much evil was wrought there in the year of its dark occupation; the smell of it permeated every fallen stone. It became clear to me that before it could be rebuilt, the ruins had to be unbuilt so that we could root out the old evils. It was tough work; the spirits that dwelt in and under the stones had taken root for thousands of years and didn't give in easily. But we persevered, cleaning and reshaping the stones that could be reused, and grinding the others into dust."

He sat back and relaxed a bit, "But eventually, much of the city was cleared and we were able to begin building permanent structures. Today, there are a thousand residents in Fornost, mostly carpenters, mason, and wrights, there working on the rebuilding; but there are also farms, dairies, inns, mills, smithies, and the like to support the construction and the people doing the work. All the remained was to rebuild the city's wall and keep, and the palace where its ruler would dwell.

"We have made remarkable progress on the wall, it is now nearly complete. The main city is protected now from all directions, and the last elements: parapets, towers, and the gate are all being built now."

His voice lowered, "But the keep and the palace are a different story. It took until three months ago to remove the last stones of the deepest parts of the old structure's foundation. The deeper we went, the worse it was. The unspeakable acts that the Witch-king must have performed in those dungeons have left them full of his malice and hatred. The air was black in the deep places, and fear threatened to master anyone who ventured into them. Fortunately, the sons of Elrond came to help us and with their aid we eventually reached the last stones."

He leaned forward, the leather creaked as he moved slowly and deliberately to lean on the table, "Once the bottom-most rooms were made safe to enter by the Elf-lords, they took their leave and returned to Imladris. We continued to remove every stone, until we got to the last, the cornerstone, the first to be laid down in ancient times and now the only one left in place."

The Ranger smiled and stared at the ceiling, "As we wrenched that final stone from its place, we felt the last vestiges of Angmar lift from the realm. The air was sweeter, and the fear was gone utterly. I knew then that we could reuse the stockpiles of masonry that the demolition had yielded, saving possibly years of quarrying for new stones."

He leveled his eyes to those of his audience, settling on the face of each for a moment, and stopping on the darkened countenance of Sir Dirk, "It was with those joyous eyes that I first beheld the thing that has since brought so much woe." He returned to staring at nothing in particular, "We stood there upon the bedrock in a hole seven fathoms deep and breathed air so clean that it could have come from the top of Mindolluin when a south wind carries the sea breeze up from Pelargir." The Chieftain’s eyebrows came together with deep furrows on his forehead, "But that breath stuck in our throats for there, in a cleverly cut chamber sized and shaped to match it, sat an object like to nothing any of us had ever seen. It was a sphere, but not perfectly round, more oval in shape and twice the size of a man's head, steel-grey, smooth as glass, and hard as diamond. It had been hidden there for over three thousand years, yet it had no mar of any kind, not even a speck of dust interrupted its shining surface. I reached down and lifted it. I was heavier than it appeared for it was not hollow, it seemed to be solid stone or metal, though not of any metal or stone that we had ever seen, and the Dwarves that Gimli had sent had gone back to their home after rumor of war there came to us.

"I had the object, which we began to call 'the egg' simply because of its shape, taken to our strongest building, an armory and guardhouse built just inside the main gateway. It was mostly empty as only a small garrison had been stationed there from Gondor. The egg was locked up for, although we did not know what it was, it was clear that anything either the former Kings had so hidden, or that the Witch-king had horded in such a manner, was extremely valuable, and possibly dangerous. We then sent for Elladan and Elrohir to return, to help us decipher the riddle of the object; as well as sent messengers to Minas Anor so that the scholars there could try and find the answer within what few records still exist of the North Kingdom."

Momentarily looking tired, he sighed, "But the sons of Elrond had left the last homely house for points south, and the messengers wouldn't return for many months, so I decided to cease worrying about the egg and get on with the task at hand."

Haldad paused to drink from the goblet of wine in front of him, and seemed slightly invigorated.

"We progressed further over the next week than any other single week since we had arrived. The foundation for the new keep was dug and a new cornerstone, a piece of white marble pulled from the citadel of Minas Anor itself, was dedicated and laid."

His voice became a low growl, the barely contained rage of a frustrated hunter kept just out of reach of its prey, "One week after we found the egg, came the first attack. It was during the utter darkness of the new moon two months ago, when the sky was especially dark because of the loss of several stars." The low growl changed to soft breathy words carefully spoken, "It descended upon us from the sky, a black thing, or so we thought, that came on wings from the north. It swooped upon the armory and tore it open with its talons and great jaws. By the time the alarm was raised, it had done its business, and I only saw a glimpse as it flew away. Immediately it reminded me of a dragon, only much smaller than the tales I've heard, perhaps on the height of two or three men. And it used no fire."

Again he paused to drink deeply of the wine.

"In the morning," he continued with an effort, "we found that twenty of the guards had been butchered and the egg was gone.

"For a month, we neither heard nor saw any sign of our attacker. Then reports started to come to us from the outlying farmers to the north of sightings of fast-moving shadows that could blot out the moon and terrifying shrieks in the night. And each time one of these things was seen or heard, the slaughter of livestock or large game animals was found in the morning.

"Three weeks ago, a small delegation of dwarves returned to help us again. They told us of the Red Hammer and the siege of Erebor."

He paused and seemed to be reflecting upon something, then continued, "I told them of our plight and it was in then that I first heard the name Cold-drake. Dragons are found many times in the history of the Naugrim, since they often occupy the same spaces and covet the same gold. That night I learned much lore of Dragons. We learned of Glaurung, and Ancalagon (Dirk shifted for the second time since the man began to speak), and of Smaug, the most famous dragons in history. But then they told us the story of how in the Grey Mountains, Dáin I, King of Durin's Folk, and his second son Frór were slain at the gates of their halls by a Cold-drake. They said the Cold-drakes were used by Morgoth in the battles against the Noldor in the first age, and led by Glaurung and Ancalagon. But that for thousands of years now, as the Lady has pointed out," He nodded to Tempest, "it was thought that after they were driven from the Grey Mountains into the northern wastes that they must have died out."

For a third time Haldad paused and drank wine. This time, the physician got to his feet and started towards Haldad, who waved him off, "I am nearly done, my dear healer, and then you may take me back to rest."

He turned again to the faces of the Knights, "Only days after the dwarves returned and we learned what we were up against, a cottage on the outskirts of Fornost was attacked and its occupants rent to shreds. This," he indicated the scale on the polished surface of the table, "was found in the ruins of their stables. The next day, I decided to go for help. I've ridden all the lands between Mithlond and here, and there is precious little to be found, save counsel. Círdan suggested that I seek out the Mithril Knights, for, he said, they are strong, and are steeped in knowledge of ancient artifacts and ancient enemies. I rode here with all haste, the nearest known Guildhouse of the Mithril Knights, and on the way stopped only to check the situation at Fornost. At that time, no more sightings or killings had been reported. But Círdan told me that the drakes may now perceive the city and all the lands between as their territory, and that they will not stand for anything to live within.

"I rode directly from Fornost, over the pass of Gundabad, where I was set upon by Warg riders (Dirk grunted audibly). I managed to escape, but hurt and without provisions. In the interest of speed, forewent a stop in the newly built villages of the Rohirrim, in the old lands of Ëorl that were returned to Éomer King by Ellesar. I am afraid that was the death of my poor horse, a borrowed steed of one of the fallen soldiers of Gondor. That is the end of my tale. I am sure in my condition I have forgotten many details. Nonetheless, you have the bulk of it."

He stood feebly, and this time did not stave off the healer, who rushed to support him, "My friends from many lands, who all fight under the banner of the Mithril Knights, I ask in the name of the King that you aid us in any way that you can in eliminating this threat."

He sat and silently downed the rest of the wine.

"In the name of the King, and of Lord Elbren, our Guildmaster, who is away south in Rohan, we will help in any way that we can, Lord Haldad," said Aglanor.

"Haldad, forgive me, I know that you are tired and in need of rest," said Lord Erinhue, "But has anything else happened since you have been at Fornost? Anything unusual that you might have dismissed and perhaps seemed completely unrelated to the Cold-drakes?"

Haldad raised his hand as the healer began to protest any further talking by the Ranger, forestalling the physician's words. He then placed his hand under his chin.

"You know, yes, there was. Before the sons of Elrond came to aid us in rooting out the deepest evils of the ruins, we were visited by two very strange elves." He paused, trying to recall the details, "They were tall and blond and, er..."

"Pretty?" Dirk spoke for the first time. "Did they approach from the East and have strange heraldry of three stars and a crown upon their tunics?"

Haldad winced at the grating quality of Dirk's voice, and strained to see his face in the shadows, "There is no need to hide from me, Sir Dirk. You forget that I was in the company of Elladan and Elrohir for some time. I know who you are and what you have done. And you have nothing to fear from me." Dirk leaned forward, an odd half-smile on his face as smoldering grey eyes locked on smoldering grey eyes, the resemblance was not lost upon the others in the room. "And yes, they did. You know these elves?"

"Knights of the Silmaril," interjected Erinhue, "I thought as much. What can you tell me of their time with you?"

"I have never heard of such an order. But then again, in the last few months, there have been many things out of ancient times that I did not know about come forth into my life." He paused thoughtfully, "When they arrived, they were fair enough, like all elves. They did not impose upon us, and even invited us to their tents for supper. We told them of the effort to rebuild Fornost and the difficulties with the last vestiges of the Witch-king's occupation. They told us that they were on their way to Mithlond to take the white ship West."

"I think I know what happened, but please, sir, pray tell did anything," the Bard paused while searching for the right word, "interesting happen whole they were in your company?"

"Yes, I remember now," Said Haldad brightly, a sudden burst of energy taking him, "In the evening of the third day of their visit, we spotted them climbing up out of the dark pits beneath the ruined keep. There was a man with them that we did not recognize. None of us had been able to enter those spaces yet. Not until later, when Elrond's sons arrived, as I've told you. Next morning, they were gone. And no trace of the strange man was ever found either."

"Thank you, Lord Haldad," said Erinhue.

"Yes, thank you, please go and rest. We will decide on what we can do to help." He reached out to clasp the man's shoulder, "We will keep you informed of anything we decide or any new information. In the meantime, avail yourself of any and everything here that you may need or want."

The Ranger nodded in thanks to the Guildhouse Steward, and to all those in the room. Stopping last on Dirk.

"Sir Dirk," he said quietly, "if I am allowed by the good Healer, perhaps you'll join your kinsman for luncheon tomorrow?"

"I certainly will, Lord Haldad," rasped Dirk, "Good night."

"Good night to you all," he said and disappeared on the arm of the Head Healer out of the main doors of the meeting hall.

Once the doors had shut with a resounding thud, Aglanor spoke to the room, "Our resources are depleted. The Knights are scattered. Of those of you that remain, many are recovering from grave wounds yourselves." He turned to Anorast, "Lord Anorast, it is clear to me that you have some knowledge about these Cold-drakes, as do you," he turned to his right, "Lady Tempest. Please enlighten the council as much as you can. But first," he turned to Erinhue, "What's all this business about the Knights of the Silmaril?"




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Postby Tempest » Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:47 am

Cold Drake.

Now, that was an unpleasant memory.

If the people of Arnor had stirred up a nest of those nasty brutes, it did not bode well for them. Tempest listened with a growing sense of dread as the Ranger continued his tale. Her own experience with the drakes had been brief, and she did not know much about them. What she did know, however, she would not keep to herself, so when Aglanor turned to her, she readily gave her answer.

”I know little of the creatures, but I did have one encounter, though very brief. As you may know, as the power of Mordor was growing, the Dark Lord was looking for allies to solidify his power in Middle Earth. I had been sent to Saruman as an emissary, in the early days of the white wizard’s turning. It was from Saruman that we learned of the last remnants of the dragons, those known as Cold Drakes, who made their homes in the frozen Northlands. These lesser dragons did not have quite the destructive reputation as their fire-breathing cousins, but they were just as deadly when it came to relentlessness and cunning. Also, they tended to fight in groups to overwhelm their enemies, a trait not shared by other dragons.

They were the last vestiges of Morgoth’s servants, and the Dark Lord had hoped to convince them to join Mordor’s growing armies. But the dragons declined the offer of power, preferring their frozen caves and secluded life. Also, there seemed to be a kind of war between the orcs and drakes as the orcs traveled deeper and deeper into the mountains and beyond, invading the dark places under the earth and driving the Drakes further North. There was no love lost between them, and I had assumed that the dragons cared little to fight alongside the orcs, who had disrupted so much of their lives.

At least, that is what I thought at the time. Now I wonder if there had not been something or someone else at work.”


She shuddered involuntarily at the memory again. She had just barely escaped that time, and Sauron had lost several of his best warriors. Of one thing she was certain: Tempest was in no hurry to ever meet one of those creatures again. There had only been two, and they had come further South in answer to Sauron’s summons, but had returned as quickly into the shadows once their “position” was made clear.

After that, Sauron sent no more messengers to them.

Tempest almost sat down again, but then she paused, as if another thought had occurred to her. She looked undecided as whether to speak, but then with resolution, addressed the Knights one last time. ”I remember thinking, as I observed their movements, the way they attacked and interacted with each other, I remember thinking that they reminded me of another foul creature that Sauron held closely to his heart. I speak of the winged mounts of the Nazguls.” Several members of the audience winced as she spoke Sauron’s name aloud.

”You think they were related?” Vana asked.

Tempest’s brow furrowed slightly. ”I do not know. But it has been suggested that the orcs themselves were corrupted elves from long before remembering. If Morgoth could do that, perhaps Sauron shared that power as well.”

”But, if that were the case, why would the Drakes in the north refuse to join Sauron’s army?”

”I cannot answer that question. Perhaps they hated what the Dark Lord had done to their brethren, or perhaps someone else was at work in their midst. Or perhaps they simply wanted peace and quiet. I do not know. I am only recounting my impressions at the time.”
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Postby erinhue » Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:06 pm

"What's all this business about the Knights of the Silmaril?"

Erinhue nodded to acknowledge that he heard Lord Aglanor’s question but he was not yet ready to answer. Very little thought had been spared for the scouting mission abandoned just prior to the start of the Red Hammer campaign. Haladad’s report reminded the bard of the snippets of information discovered,and what scraps of conclusions he had begun to form. The answers to his own pointed questions unearthed a new suspicion.

“Elbren and I first ran across them perhaps two years ago give or take a season. They took the name Knights of the Silmarill as an attempt to mock the Mithril Knights. We were able to thwart their poisonous intentions but we were unable capture any of the group or to learn anymore than the little we knew about them. Sign of them resurfacing came in the weeks before the Red Hammer attacked Lakewood”


“I don’t know if anyone remembers but prior to Lakewood” there was a break in the smooth flow and rhythm of words that only one who knew him well would have noticed or understood. “the goslings and I were sent from Rivendel to Rhosgobel with messages and a parcel for Radagast.”

The tale was begun and Erinhue’s butter baritone carried it on with the art of a storyteller, which indeed he was, but the bard’s mind was adding hunches and weighing probabilities much as he would at a gaming table. His voice carried on the tale but his mind was busy elsewhere.

“We followed a few hard won leads to Carrock, which is little more than an over grown rock in the northern reaches of the Anduine, to the north of the Old Ford. We uncovered a nest of KoS supporters and captured one of them. After some interrogation he told us what little he knew. Put that with other honest information and the talk and tales of countryfolk and I had enough to report back to Elbren. We were called to hurry back and we went off on the campaign. The matter seemed less important with the Red Hammer menacing Lakewood. I see now that as Elbren suspected, the two are connected. I fear that there is even more cause for concern in regards to the KoS than he had considered at the time. I will give you the conclusions of that report.

The Knights of the Silmarill are skin changers, and they have no love for the Mithril Knights or any other servant of the Light.”

Here Erinhue wisely paused knowing that his next words would have been lost in the tumult his last had caused. As he waited for the general upset to settle down he weighted the other conclusion that jumped into his mind. There was no real base for that idea and yet he felt strongly that he was correct in the assumption.

The idea itself was incredible yet it would explain much. His mind went back to the images culled from the henchman’s mind, images of the dark shape hidden back in the shadows at the frindges of the fire among the gathered Silmarill Knights, the dark shape that was almost familiar because it haunted the very edges of his thoughts.

Yes it would explain much but it could not possibly be true, could it? No it was too fantastical. The Mithril Knights had been entrusted with that secret. No other could know about it or the power it represented.

The bard had learned long ago to trust that prickle now inching across his scalp. Fantastic or not, that was enough for him to consider the vague idea as a real possibility but would it be enough for anyone else. Erinhue sat down having decided against speaking further.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:32 pm

The more Haldad spoke, the more Dirk slipped away from his training. He was able to maintain full sensory concentration. But there was another element, as well. He needed to control his own emotions, his own outward sign of distress. He hadn't practiced this side of the Dark Elf's training as much as reading the signs his ears and eyes and nose gave him.

With each successive strike, his nerves gave in more and more. The appearance of Haldad nearly undid the young Knight on its own. Dirk was not prepared to face his kinsman, a thing he had avoided thus far by traveling south and east. Then Haldad mentioned the Witch-king, and Dirk was sure the Ranger was looking at him when he said the name. Then, at the name of the Dragon whose likeness was etched indelibly into his back, it felt to Dirk as though the tattoo of Ancalagon was trying to rip itself from his skin. He could barely contain himself at the thought that the very Warg Riders he had used as his guard in Carn Dûm had waylaid his uncle; and he nearly cried aloud. Dirk was certain that these must be the same; they were exactly where he had ordered them to be, even if they hadn't obeyed him.

But the Knights of the Silmaril were the last straw. The possibility that he had not acted correctly when he encountered them had not ceased to gnaw at his mind, despite what seemed to be an acquittal by the Council of the Wise in Thranduil's Hall and the smaller meeting afterwards with Elbren and Tempest. Now they appeared again, and with them, more innocent deaths.

Dirk knew his mistake before he finished his first word. Now the first confrontation with his true family would be a public one. He had hoped to go unnoticed by the injured Ranger. He had hoped to find Haldad alone in the halls of the Guildhouse or perhaps in the Healer's house abed and introduce himself without the eyes and ears of the Guild upon them.

In the end, as Haldad exited, Dirk breathed a sigh of relief. Elrond's sons had forewarned him that the child his sister had died giving birth to was grown, was now a Mithril Knight, and was likely to be at the Greenwood Guildhouse. They had apparently told him enough about Dirk that he was not angry, or at least forestalled his anger before the council. Either way, Dirk was glad that they had had few words; and that those words were amicable.

After Haldad left the council with the Chief Physician, Dirk returned to full concentration. He assimilated the information Tempest gave the council. Particularly the part about the fell beasts of the Nazgûl. If they were of similar stock, or perhaps even the same animal, then Dirk was at an advantage. He would not speak of this, however, for none, not even Elrond's sons, not one living soul remained alive in Middle-earth who knew that Dirk had once also taken one of the foul winged creatures as a steed, just as his father had.

When the Bard launched his tale, Dirk gave full attention, as did everyone in the room. The sheer skill in spinning a yarn that Erinhue was possessed of allowed nothing less. But again, as more information about the Knights of the Silmaril unfolded for Dirk to consider, he was unable to contain himself.

The Bard's abrupt silence hung awkwardly in the air for several moments. Then Dirk made up his mind to confess his mistake to the council. He stood, stepped forward to the edge of the table, placing his youthful, but gaunt, face into the candle light. He reached into his cloak and removed a small leather purse and slid it across the table so that it stopped in front of Aglanor; who opened it and stared for a moment at its contents before passing them to the next closest Knight, Tempest, to inspect.

"These are the brooches of the two Knights of the Silmaril that I encountered. You'll notice the mockery of our Battle Captain insignia on both of them." Dirk's lip curled into a sneer of disgust, "Although I told the Council of the Wise about my meeting with the two Knights, I had forgotten I had these."

Dirk's broken voice lost its ferocity as he sat, "The wise must have deemed it unnecessary to correct my misinformation regarding the Knights of the Silmaril. When I came across them, impossibly ensconced above an encampment of six thousand orcs of every breed, I drew quick conclusions based on what little I learned of them in over heard conversations and in paintings on the walls at the Lórien Guildhouse. When I saw these two tall, fair, Noldorin lords, I assumed that they were of the house of Fëanor, and sought the actual Silmarils, as the name of their order implies." Dirk got up and began to pace. The brooches had made their way around the table and were now resting in front of Aglanor once again. Dirk took up one of them in his four-fingered left hand.

Standing there at Aglanor's side at the head of the table, Dirk's face twisted into embarrassed rage, like a child who had just been caught in an obvious ruse. "Skin shifters!" He clenched his fist around the brooch. "Of course, why did I not see this? When I was outside their overly-large, all-too-impressive pavilion, I overheard conversation in Quenya, when I entered and beheld them; they were impossibly tall and fair."

He stopped short, seemingly mid-thought, and then raised his voice even louder, "But their voices!"

He banged the fist holding the brooch upon the solid table with a sickening slapping noise. Blood oozed from between the still-clenched fingers; but physical pain did not register on the enraged features of the young man's face.

"I only heard their exclamations when I startled them by rushing into their tent." Dirk did not mention the orcs that were with him at the time. "I did not allow them to speak any more after that."

He began to pace again, then stopped to throw the blood-stained brooch into the grate as the passed the fireplace, then continued walking, "But it was enough. Their voices were all wrong. Like a toad's croak from the throat of a minstrel-maid. They are not elves, and I should have seen it." He stopped then before his own chair, turned to face the table and lowered his head. He stared at the blood that trickled onto table's wood grain in the space between his hands; and spoke, seemingly to himself, "Everything was so overwrought. They were too fair. No elf, but especially none of that house would use Quenya in casual conversation. Their clothes and tent and food, all just too opulent for travelers overseeing orcish work. It's so obvious to me now."

Dirk sat and shook his head, "I assumed they were there doing the bidding of the Red Hammer. But now I see, it was the Silmaril Knights who did all of the promising. It was the Knights who held the reigns."

He growled, "I had them. And I had the means to either slaughter them on the spot, or bring them to the Mithril Knights to mete out their doom."

There was another long pause; the room seemed to Dirk to have lost its energy and appeal. He was suddenly exhausted. There was no longer any rage in his eyes or in his voice, only melancholy and fatigue.

"They probably laughed at me the moment they were clear of..." he trailed off, stopping himself just before mentioning the Warg Riders, who had escorted the Knights out of Angmar, "...clear of me."

He took a deep, slow, deliberate breath and lifted his chin to address the room once more, "For my part, I would think that we should travel west and north, across the pass of Gundabad, eliminating the threat there that attacked Haldad, then on to Fornost at once, in order to help defend the people there and to track the Knights of the Silmaril, beginning at the last place they were known to have been. In my newly-opened eyes, I see no coincidence that those two appeared, only a little before the Cold-drakes attacked."

Dirk sat, humbled by his naivety, and pressed himself once again as deep into the plush chair as possible, hiding his face in the shadows.
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Postby Guruthostirn » Sun Oct 21, 2007 5:40 pm

Quietly Anorast sat, watching the outburst of Dirk. In the young man's voice hatred and self-loathing competed to rule. Clearly Dirk was still struggling with his demons, his heritage, and his recent past at Carn Dum. A part of the old elf yearned to reach out, to help the scarred mortal, but the rest remained cold, calculating, refusing to accept any bond, other than the one that already existed, a connection where power and knowledge existed, waiting to be learned and used. Anorast's own scars were too new to allow him to reach out to Dirk.

When Dirk sat down, hiding within the shadows, trying to escape, Anorast stood up. From a pocket within his gray robe Anorast drew out a white cloth, and carefully cleaned up the blood still staining the polished table. Quietly he folded up the cloth, then tossed it into the flames of the fire. For a moment the elf stood, looking into the flames, the familiar dance of energy and chaos, waiting for him to reach out and touch their powers.

"There are two problems facing us," Anorast began, still facing the fireplace. "A third if we count the vanished Red Hammer."

Turning back towards the table Anorast looked over at Dirk, his gaze piercing the shadows. "As Sir Dirk tells us, there is a problem of the Knights of the Silmaril. His tale, and that of Master Erinhue, shows us that there is still a very pressing need to pursue the mystery of that evil order, with the intention of destroying every last one of them."

Anorast did not say his other thoughts, that the Knights of the Silmaril might also have much to teach, much that a suitably merciless interrogator could learn from the order. That lure of power would not be spoken of, and the elf himself did not want to follow the thought to it's source, his own dark desires.

"There is our second problem, the cold-drakes," continued Anorast, now looking around the council table. "From Haldad's tale it is clear there is at least one in Arnor, and possibly more. We also know that there are more to the north, in the Grey Mountains, and beyond in the Forodwaith. Let us also remember that it was only a few centuries ago that Smaug came south. To the north we may find more than just the drakes that have come to our attention."

"The third problem I mentioned, the Red Hammer, may not be as pressing, but it's clearly connected to the first, the Knights of the Silmaril, in a way we still do not fully understand. Until all our questions are answered we cannot ignore the red dwarves.

"However, for now, let us look at the claimed connection between the Knights of the Silmaril and the Cold drakes in Arnor. From Haldad's tale there seems to be a reason for the drakes to have attacked without the influence of any others. However, his tale also gives us reason to believe that the Knights of the Silmaril were looking for something in Fornost. I do not know whether they knew of the drake egg, for they have access to knowledge that has surprised us in the past. But they did not take the egg, though perhaps they found something else."

Suddenly a thought struck Anorast, and he fell silent. Quickly his eyes moved to the scale, still resting atop the polished council table. His eyes flickered towards Dirk, before rising.

"Do we know for sure a Cold-drake attacked Haldad? Exactly how much power to change shape do these Knights of the Silmaril have?"

Murmurs around the table signified that Anorast had indeed touched upon a deeply troubling question.

"If the Cold-drake is genuine, and the Knights of the Silmaril are connected to it's appearance, we have to ask what gives them a power over the worms that even Sauron was unable to wield." Anorast nodded towards Tempest. "Or did the knights take the form of the Cold-drake to take the egg to gain that power, and even now are traveling eastward?"

Returning to his seat Anorast looked around the table. "These are questions that need to be addressed, and not all the answers wait in Arnor. I believe at least some of us should travel north, into the Grey Mountains, to investigate our second problem, the Cold-drakes, directly."

Finally finished Anorast sat down, leaving unspoken a final question. Sir Dirk's reaction to Haldad, both verbal and silent, kept his mouth shut for the present. But the elf could not help wondering why the Dúnedain chieftain had traveled so far when there was still a large presence of Mithril Knights in the western lands. Why was Haldad here, where so few knights could help him?
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Postby Elenath » Sun Oct 21, 2007 10:23 pm

Elenath stood as Anorast returned to his seat. Before he had spoken she had hesitated in her own mind over which course the Knights should pursue. She might have suggested the northern route, if he had not. But not now. A Mithril Knight he had become, and she would of course give him the respect due a comrade in their Order. She was not, however, required to give him her trust.

There was also the tempting trail of the Knights of the Silmaril. Those last adherents of the vows which had destroyed so much. No effort would be too great if it led to their destruction. And she would be lying to herself if she did not admit a certain savage joy at the prospect.

"I must agree with Sir Dirk," Elenath said clearly, nodding toward the shadowed figure. That man, she told herself, will bear watching. "It is true that we would perhaps find some cold-drakes by traveling north of the Grey Mountains, as Lord Anorast says. But the drakes that concern us most are the ones that have attacked at Fornost. If we found cold-drakes in the far north, who is to say they can tell us anything of their marauding kin?

"It seems to me that the trail is best pursued in Fornost. The trail of the cold-drakes, and the trail of the Knights of the Silmaril. Should they prove to be either separate or similar, both, I believe, should be pursued. The so-called Knights have caused our Order much trouble, in many times. We ignore them at our peril."

She paused, her gaze sweeping the gathered Knights.

"The last reason to travel to Fornost is the most pressing. If the drakes continue their attack, the people there will need our aid most desperately. I do not favor splitting what small force we have, for we will need all our strength to fight off even one cold-drake. Luck has brought about many a dragon's fall, but we cannot place our trust in that. I have fought these beasts before. Unless the council decides against the western course completely, I will go to Fornost to give my aid."
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Postby Tempest » Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:19 pm

"I tend to agree with Elenath," Tempest voiced her opinion. "The people at Fornost must be protected. As for our other option, venturing blindly into the Grey Mountains and beyond is not only perilous, but perhaps fruitless. We do not know where the Drakes are originating from.

But we do know where at least a few of them are and we should adjust our strategy accordingly. As Elenath has said, our numbers are few, and we should not divide them further. I recommend sending word to Elbren immedietly about the situation, while those of us here head towards Fornost. If Elbren wishes to assemble more Knights and head North through the mountains, then perhaps both areas will be investigated. But as Haldad has revealed, our aid is desperately required elsewhere."


She frowned slightly. "These Warg Riders also need to be taken care of. I do not know if they are somehow connected in this whole business, but if they are waylaying travelers or blocking roads in and out of Fornost, then the people there may be in grave danger on multiple fronts. As Mithril Knights, our oath demands that we respond. They must be rescued."
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:38 pm

As Mithril Knights, our oath demands that we respond. They must be rescued."

Tempest’s last words brought Erinhue back to the council and the assembled Mithril Knights. He did not rise when Tempest finished, he made no gesture indicating that he would take the floor and when he spoke his voice was flat and diminished, sounding more as if he were talking to himself than to the gathered Knights.

“Yes of course they must be rescued. As the Lady Tempest says it is our duty to protect and that duty should dictate our direction. We needs must go to Fornost….to protect those people.”

The bard paused a moment. His head tilted and quickly straightened as if he had considered something briefly and then come to a decission. He made a formal gesture and stood to take the floor.

“I do not know that all the Knights of the Silmarill are skin changers but some of them or those associated with them do indeed have that capability. From what I know of them to appear as a Cold Drake would be far beyond their skill...” Unaccustomed gravity weighted his voice ",..beyond what they could accomplish on their own. Such animated imagery would take great power to create and then maintain. I fear these Knights of the Silmarill, who or what ever they may be, I fear they may have access to such power.”

Erinhue stopped talking and yet there was much in his momentary silence. Many of those that knew him had never seen such deep concern shading the bard’s amiable features His voice sounded thin and hollow when he finished

“I can offer you no proof of its existence but I myself need none. I have seen it in the shadows of my dreams those past and many days I slept and it is there at the very edge of my waking conscious.

There is merit in going to the North, and fate might lead us northward yet,but I cast my vote for Fornost, though my heart would turn another way” The bard would look no one in the eye as he sat down.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:23 pm

After the man left the room with the aid of the healer, many spoke out what they felt led to do. Many spoke of going strait way to Fornost to aid the people there while others spoke out about going to the Grey Mountains where the Cold Drakes were originally from.

Vana broke out in a cold sweat seeing that scale upon the table. How could it be? Could one still be alive? What about others? This was a thing of legends not something one should be considering dealing with today!! She remembered back to her childhood and the stories that she had heard. Even years ago they were suppose to be dead! How did one or more survive and why were they attacking now?? Were there more to deal with besides these in Fornost? Also to think of the Knights of the Silmarils and them as skin changers! There was so much to consider and so much to think about.

Erinhue spoke out and calmly made his stand. He knew there might come a time to go North to the Mountains but he was for going to Fornost first.

"Excuse me but I thought that Smaug was the last of the dragons, even though it was a fire breather? How did a cold drake survive all this time with no one knowing about it?" Her puzzled look mixed with fear shown opening to the group. Many turned to face her. Slowly she stood to her feet and continued to speak.

"I mean if they still exist do they not provide a greater problem than just that to those they are hurting at the moment? Should we not find their lair and root them out once and for all. The legends of old said that they were from the Grey Mountains, The Withered Heath! I see an urgency for going to the aid of the people of Fornost but I also see a reason to seek where the Cold Drakes come from so that they can send no further aid for the others attacking there." Vana took another breath and continued. "For years there were those who kept watch over the Grey Mountains to warn any if the Cold Drakes should arise against the people. There came no word thus far from these! What about them? Can we be so sure that they have no need or our help. No word does not mean there is no trouble. It just means that we have not received word of the trouble. Can we not send a small contingent to check it out and if there is no need we can then join with the rest of the Knights going to Fornost?"

Mumbling came from the group at her words. Some heads nodded in agreement and others scoffed at her words. Lord Aglanor raised his hand to silence the group.

"Child what are you saying exactly?" Lord Aglanor asked.

"I....I guess I am volunteering to go with Lord Anorast to seek out this league of guardians and find the Cold Drake lair and destroy it, if need be. If they still exist there." She could not believe that she spoke these words. Her heart was racing. She could barely breath. "I grew up here in Mirkwood and played about the grounds, I have heard many things of the business of the realm so I know about where the guard station should be. It was held and guarded by men, dwarves and elves. I can lead others to find the way there if they truly wish to go. I know the hidden pass to the mountains and through them."

As Vana said this Lord Anorast nodded her direction. She wasn't sure if it was a wise thing for her to volunteer for, but she had done it whether her aid was accepted or not. She would go where she was told from this point on. If the council forbid them to go in seeking out the Cold Drakes and their guardians in the Grey Mountains then she would go where Lord Aglanor sent her. As was her duty and her pledge! She quietly took her seat again as the discussions continued
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We mourn the loss of another wonderful man from TORC! oldtoby we will always remember you and your wit and smile! Love you my friend! RIP 1/20/18

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Vanaladiel
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