What Fans do to other Fans

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Postby Eicys » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:59 pm

It was an execution.

Eredolyn’s first clue? The huge-chested man carrying a wickedly curved scimitar. Her second? The six other men dragging a blubbering prisoner behind them. Although she coldn’t understand the language, it was too easy to hear the excitement suddenly infusing the surrounding merry-makers.

The booming voice, his tone no different than when the fire dance was announced, droned on in Haradrim. Eredolyn turned to Good-Arm.

“What is he saying?” She demanded. The pirate glanced towards the announcer, who held up high a black box wrapped in chains. The drums resumed a steady boom…boom…boom reminiscent of Moria’s deep.

“He’s proclaiming this man has stolen from the gods in heaven and must now be executed for the pleasure of the God on earth.” The small entourage of captors and victim stopped in the dead center of the floor.

“Stolen?” Eicys’ strangled question went well with her strained expression. Eredolyn noted that the younger girls bangles all quivering.

“Yes.” Good-Arm continued as the drum tempo picked up. “I’m not entirely sure of the translation, but it appears he was found in possession of the Goddess Amciel’s most treasured and sacred relic.” Suddenly, everyone except the king leapt to their feet, tracing large Xs in the air in front of them, like Catholics crossing themselves. The chain holders dropped their burdens to the floor and marched ‘off-stage’. The executionee made no move to escape, but fell to the ground.

"Amciel? Which one is she?" Eredolyn asked, still staring at the prisoner. He had both arms desperately stretched out towards the king, sobbing and screaming by turn. Good-Arm turned and signaled one of the servers. Within seconds, the man was at the pirate’s side. Good arm asked a question in Haradrim, but the man quickly raised a hand.

“I some of your tounge speak.” He whispered, bowing respectfully. Eredolyn quickly turned around to him, tearing her gaze from the terrified prisoner babbling in the center of the room.

“Can you tell us more about what’s happening?”

"This man has stolen from the gods of heavan and must be excecuted to entertain the—“
“We got that part. Which one is Amciel?” Before responding, the server again traced an X.
“She is our most favored goddess. By your language, I think she becomes Goddess of Fortune." He paused "A more accurate speak would be Goddess of… Unexpected Death or Overwhelming Victory."
"What is the artifact he stole?" Ere raised her voice slightly as the drums began to beat in loud double time.
"The source of the Goddesses power! Straight from her altar!"
"Indeed. Strange he should have survived this long."
"Is the King usually quick to catch thieves?"

"Amciel should have killed him herself within days of touching the object. He has hidden it for five years! It must meant she saved something for his death!”

“What do you mean?”

"Look around us. Everyone undoubtedly wishes know how is he going to die." Eredolyn let her eyes sweep the room. All had fallen silent, each starting intently.
"Um...isn't the big guy with the sword kind of the obvious choice?" Ere timidly pointed out.
"Ah, but that would too obvious be!" He smiled placidly.

"Oookay." Eredolyn had seen enough blood in her time. She decided to stare at her plate until the drums stop. However, Eicys shifted nervously with a sudden jangle, starting to stand. "What are you doing?" Ere hissed.

"He...there's been a...they can't--" Eicys' disjointed protests broke off as Adremis leaned towards her, grabbing her wrist and pulling her back down.

"I wouldn't try for any heroics." He whispered. "In this country, royalty's whim is law. You don't want to offend the king." The audience gasped in surprise as the man hurled himself towards an open door leading into the gardens. As he passed the delicate archway, the escapee turned back, the moon eerily lighting him up from behind. No one had moved to stop him—in fact, everyone sounded even more excited. His face held the wildest, most terrified expression Eredolyn had ever seen. He raised a shaking hand to point…at Eicys? Disregarding Adremis’ grasp, the youngest immie suddenly leapt to her feet with a deafening tinkle. In the time it took Ere to look from one face to the other—

A statue fell from the sky and crushed the man where he stood. The audience leapt to their feet, cheering. Eredolyn couldn’t turn away. It was so grisly, so horrible, so…just like a cartoon. She was barely aware of the server whispering in her ear.

“And you don’t want to offend the Gods.”
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Postby Tuima » Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:02 am

You WROTE! *Glomps Eicys*
Hooray, hooray, it's a wonderful day, for I have found my... uh, Eicys! Yah!
Now I feel justified, and I will post, despite the fact that it is two in the ay-emm and "groggy" doesn't even begin to cover my mental state. Onwards, Immies!

When Dann got back to camp, Robin ambling good-naturedly behind him, Marhaz found herself slightly taken aback by the expression on his face. Up until now, she hadn’t seen much from Dann beyond frustration, in its various incarnations from long-suffering to homicidal rage. But now… Dann was smiling.
It wasn’t a nice smile. It was decidedly grim. But it also held an edge of suppressed triumph, faintly modulated by terror.
Marhaz didn’t need any of her usual tricks to realize she was in serious trouble. But that didn’t stop her employing them, anyway.
Her result was exactly… nothing. Dann ignored her completely, shaking her off in a kind of absent reflex. He built up the fire, rummaged through his pack, and started cooking breakfast. For one.
Granted, it was about the size of a breakfast for three, but Marhaz knew the way Dann ate. There definitely wasn’t going to be any left for her. This was bizarre: no matter how annoyed he was with her – and she’d driven him to the very brink on numerous occasions – Dann never seemed able to bring himself to outright rudeness. He offered her food, bit down on the worst of his angry retorts, and slowed the pace for her (usually not until she was staggering in circles, but still. Void, he’d even bought a horse for her).
And nothing she could do got through to him. He just sat there, making sausages and toast, humming slightly to himself while the wind played with his hair. Eventually, a shocked and frustrated Marhaz retreated to the opposite side of the fire, where she sat watching him in sullen silence.
Still humming absently, that grim little smile still playing around his lips, Dann dug through his pack and produced an apple and a long slender knife -- one of Marhaz’s… acquisitions… from the barfight. With the sausages sizzling brightly in the background, Dann made himself comfortable on a rock and began peeling the apple in one long, slow spiral.
“So,” he said.
Marhaz eyed him uneasily.
“A funny thing happened this morning,” he said.
Marhaz bit her lip. “Oh?”
“Yeah.” The end of the apple-peel spiral was almost down to Dann’s boot. “I woke up awfully early, an’ I couldn’ get back t’ sleep. I thought I’d like to break camp, but there you were, sleepin’ like a rock…” Dann nipped the apple peel away from the stem in one quick dig of the knife. “…With your eyes open,” he finished. The spiral collapsed into the dirt by his foot.
Marhaz opened her mouth, but Dann spoke lazily over her. “Now, I’ve only known one other person t’ sleep like tha’, an as far as bein’ irritating you two could practically be sisters – but apart from that, I’ve got t’ tell you, Marhaz, you don’ look anythin’ like an Elf.”
He began to cut the apple into wedges – slowly, without even looking at her.
“So I thought the only sensible thing t’ do would be t’ drop by your old village an’ ask them wha’ they knew about it. An’ you know, it’s amazing how easy th’ place was to get to. Couldn’ve taken more than three hours. Funny how much trouble we’ve had, isn’ it?”
Marhaz swallowed.
“But here’s th’ really amazing thing,” said Dann. “I went t’ th’ headman an’ told him you’d run off after me, an’ tha’ I was offerin’ your father a horse as payment and hoped never t’ see you again – ”
Marhaz winced.
“An’ y’ know wha’?” Dann took a bite of apple.
“…What?” asked Marhaz, when the silence had stretched unpleasantly. She was sweating. This was ridiculous. What was wrong with her head?
“He’d never heard of you,” said Dann.
After a certain amount of panic, Marhaz managed to pull her expression into a look of shocked and injured innocence. She knew Dann was good at watching and waiting and putting pieces together – but it didn’t mean he’d got it right. She’d been so careful.
“Kind of strange, don’ you think?” asked Dann. He turned away and began carefully checking the sausages for doneness. Marhaz wanted to scream at him.
“So I asked aroun’ some more,” said Dann, busily turning the sausages. “Not a single person in tha’ village remembered ever layin’ eyes on you. They did, however, tend to come over all headachey and vague whenever I brought up th’ time my friends an’ I were with them.”
At last, he glanced up and met her eyes. Marhaz was gratified to see he was sweating, and a muscle was jumping in his jaw with the stress. But his tone was perfectly pleasant as he said, “You seem t’ be feelin’ a bit headachey yourself… ‘Marhaz’.”
She opened her mouth, shut it again, and glared at him.
“So,” said Dann, and now the pleasant tone was reinforced with steel. He held the sausage spit in one hand and Marhaz’s little knife in the other. “Which one are you?”

The skinny Dunlending girl sighed, and allowed the eerie ink-colored blankness to creep across her eyes. When she spoke, her voice was overlaid with a dozen declaiming echoes.
“I am Calliope,” she said. “Chief of the Muses.”
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Postby Eredolyn » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:51 pm

What happened exactly was this:

A surplus of Goddess of Fortune statues had been shipped to the King of Harad.

The excess number of statues was deposited on a balcony one story above the King’s Dining Hall.

One of the statues was jiggled to the balcony’s edge by all the booming of the execution drums.

So the Goddess of Fortune stood, barely balanced on the precipice, and toppled over just as the executionee passed through the archway, crushing him to death with the solid granite of her judgment.

-Not that Adremis cared.

He watched as the entire Hall burst into applause. The crowd was not let down; the criminal’s death was certainly unexpected. Even if the statue didn’t happen to fall at that moment, some descending palm tree would have done the job. Or spontaneous lightning. Or a misguided hippo from the menagerie three flights above. That was how the Goddess of Fortune worked. It didn’t matter if you believed in her or not, she believed in you. Or rather she believes in killing you unexpectedly if you so much as lay a finger on her property.

It was strange the executionee, a nobody jeweler from some run-down district, managed to steal an artifact from the Goddess of Fortune. Adremis was certain he was the only one who ever got away with it. He had prided himself in that. And just how many Sources of Power Trapped Within a Sacred Relic can a goddess have?

The pirates, since they were the primary consumers of the evening’s alcohol, were applauding the most wildly at the spectacle. The immies, however, wore expressions that looked very out of place amidst all the cheering. Eredolyn had turned a sheet of white. Brenz and Wlore didn’t look much different; they no doubt had witnessed gruesome death before, but there is only so much randomness a mind can take.

Eicys, meanwhile, was fixated on the granite rubble and going “B—b—b—b—.”

…The Captain wisely decided it was time for them to leave.

A nod to Good-arm was all Adremis needed to give. The Quartermaster curtly nodded back and began collecting the pirates from their seats: the inebriated and the mortally shocked alike. The audience was still clapping as the little group of pirates made their way down the long table towards the great double doors. And just to the left of said doors was the gold-plated Swertic throne, on which sat the King of Harad.

The King of Harad was fat. He was a big, rolly, fat man. With that label Adremis knew everything about the fellow; he was lazy. He wanted jobs done without having to go anywhere near them himself. He was in a position to have a man killed and only hear about it at the comfort of his breakfast table the morning after. The sight of a man’s guts splattered across his dining room tiles would, therefore, leave him rather squeamish and undesirous to finish his meal.

Adremis looked up at the throne but didn’t break his stride. Three…two…one…

And up the king went, looking a little green in the face. But he managed to get up with dignity. Some of the guests saw him rise and began to respectfully rise themselves, but the king gestured them to stay in their seats; no need for the entire Hall to watch their queasy king take a breather. With a couple stately-looking officials and a few guards, the king made his private exit amidst the cheering through a private door to the atrium.
-Just as Adremis and his party reached the main exit to the atrium themselves.

Adremis smiled. He got some fulfillment in accurately pegging men and cutting through corners. It made his career worthwhile.


Well, High and Esteemed King of Harad, if you aren’t in the mood for your dried fish and kumquats, perhaps you’re in the mood to talk business.
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Postby Eicys » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:54 pm

Hoorah! Just one comment--

Adremis couldn't have stolen the butterfly. It came from the Twin Sisters Bloody's cabin. I thought it was something they stole, all of his loot sunk with the last Black Greed. I didn't think Adremis even knew what it was...
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Postby Tuima » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:55 am

Oh, he did. :twisted:
Remember Ere's idea for Adremis' extremely unexpected death?

'Kay, I'm gonna post here, but I have an appointment with my thesis mentor in a few hours and I'm supposed to have read the entire Materia Medica of Dioscorides by then, plus a hefty amount of Galen and Apuleius. :shock: :cry2:

Hurrah for incomprehensible Greek medical treatises. I thought I was writing this thing on ENGLISH medicine?

I'll be back soon. Cheers, all!
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Postby Eredolyn » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:23 pm

Yeah, Adremis needs to be the man who stole the pendant one way or another. We'll have to figure that out later. Thanks for pointing it out though.
Oh, and I still need to congradulate you on your post! Hooray Eicys! We may not have to gnome you after all! :wink:

Okay, finals are *over* which means I have a lot of time on my hands (a very rare thing). On we go!

“Business?” The official sniffed. “What kind of business? I have not heard it.”
“I would not worry about it if I were you; even with all his divine and infinite powers the king cannot possibly relay these things to the witless.”

Here we go again, Good-arm sighed. The lad enjoyed creating situations that could give him praise and an order to be shot at the same time. Thanks to Adremis’ tongue the pirates had been given their weight in gold by the Other Side and a warrant for their heads on pikes by Gondor. It was a toss-up what Harad would do.

Fortunately, now that the King of Harad was sitting down in the airy atrium far away from gut-splattered tiles, he was in a lighter mood. He spoke with a voice like a rich, lush carpet being unrolled.

“The Captain Adremis is a seller of birds, Kankun,” He said to the official. “-amazing birds that perform amazing tricks. Such pleases the King of Harad. Tell me Captain,” The king leaned forward with avarice creeping into his eyes. “Is this the little bird you wish to sell me?”

The king was looking at someone past Adremis’ shoulder and everyone followed his gaze. It was not Terpsichore he was watching, who stood further back hiding in her shawl, but rather it was…


The pirates looked back and forth, to make sure they understood exactly who he was looking at. To all intent and purposes his eyes were locked on the little immie. Even from his position behind her Good-arm could tell she paid the king no attention; she was still staring blankly at her bell-tipped shoes with a face as white as a mainsail. Poor thing, for some reason she took the death of the criminal very, very hard.

The king’s greedy little eyes made Good-arm instinctively step towards the young girl.

“…Eicys?” Adremis said, the bafflement having knocked loose his smooth patter. “No. She is a mere deckhand, Your Majesty.”

“Oh is she? Pity.” But the king’s look did not wane. “…Would this bird happen to be for sale as well, captain?”

“…Eicys?” Was all Adremis could really say, and Good-arm couldn’t blame him. “You want Eicys?

“Why ever not? The bird has eyes of sapphire and feathers of dazzling gold!” The king gestured to the immie’s hair. “She is truly the semblance of the lost child of Sephroth the Sun and Amciel of Fortune! Why would you not sell this bird to me?”

Good-arm noted Wlore, with her pale eyes and dry, bleached-white hair, give a quiet huff. Then he watched Adremis glance back at the forlorn Eicys.

“My lord, I am afraid Eicys is under the care of my employment.” He firmly replied.

“I will pay 200,000 gold din.”

“I mean it would simply not do to sell her off-”

“300,000 gold din.”

“-To any man with for whatever price, your esteemed majesty included-”

“400,000 gold din.”

“Because it would not be honorable for me, as her captain, to simply did you just say 400,000?”

Good-arm knew he had to step in before the other immies, particularly the enraged Eredolyn and the sharp-fingernailed Wlore, could.
“It is not a matter of money, your most gracious Highness,” He chimed in with a generous bow. He was sweating, but the Quartermaster plowed on. “If the crew saw their master willfully selling his employs, the captain would have an outright mutiny on his hands.”

That did it. Adremis snapped up like a pulled-back twig. “Quite right,” he said swiftly.
“Nonsense!” said the man who was not at all used to being denied. “With the amount I shall pay, Captain Adremis would no longer have to be a captain! For this golden sparrow I will give him any size of land along with-”

Something interrupted him. Something loud, sweet, and tremulous. Something Good-arm had not heard since his younger days in the bars of Dol Amroth by the sea. It was the voice of-


A perfect duet of violins echoed throughout the atrium. Then, even more surprising, one of the king’s guards balanced on his tiptoes and fluttered forward. With a look of pure shock the burly man sashayed to and fro before the crowd like a butterfly.

The pirates stared as the heavyset man danced in time to the violins with gentle grace.

A dark, hooded woman, the source of the soulful music, stepped forward as the guard involuntarily delivered a perfect pirouette.
“Excuse my intrusion,” she said blandly. “But this is supposed to be about me.”
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Postby Tuima » Fri May 02, 2008 6:54 pm

Ha! How utterly Muselike of Terpsichore. :rofl:

As the Jagers would say, "Dot's goot schtuff!" Go, Immies!

Dann jerked backwards, stared at Marhaz/Calliope, and finally sat down with a thump.
“You’re what?”
The Muse blinked. “Er,” she said. “The… Muse of Epic Poetry… Er. You – what did you think I was?”
“A priestess!” Dann yelped. “One of th’ leaders of tha’ crazy cult tha’ sprang up aroun’ here a few years back! You’re a Muse?”
“You didn’t know. You didn’t know?! And I just told you! By every river in Hades, I hate running blind! Where did you learn to shut people out of your head like that?”
Dann pulled himself together slightly; his eyes snapped sparks at the Muse. “Saruman,” he said.
“…Oh,” said Calliope. “Ah. Yes. Yes, I can see how that would do it. Not quite the same thing, really, but... Styx, I should’ve been prepared for that. I think acting stupid for so long has had a dampening effect on my brain.” She put her head flirtatiously on one side and gave him a Marhaz-style stare, the adoring idiocy of which was slightly impaired by the fact that her eyes were still black as ink from edge to edge. “Do I look dampened to you? Be honest with me, Dann.”
Dann made a strangled noise, comprising too many emotions to be comprehensible. Horror may have had the upper hand over shock, bafflement, anger, and a certain sense of impending apocalypse – but only by a slim margin. His reaction, however, went completely unregarded by the Muse, exactly as it had always been by Marhaz. In that moment, Dann felt he should have recognized Marhaz for a Muse ages ago – very few real people were completely immune to the reactions of those around them.
Calliope shook her head. “What I can’t get over is that you called me out on the wrong thing. You thought I was a cultist?”
Dann wearily ticked off points on his fingers. “Weird, dirty, skinny, an’ single-minded; goes into trances; leaves people headachey, confused, an’ scared t’ talk abou’ her. Most of them get burned as witches, like they were goin’ t’ do wi’ Tuima, but there’s enough of them still aroun’ t’ cause problems. They worship some goddess from tha’ country south of Gondor, an’ they usually –” He broke off. “Stop tha’.”
“Stop what?” Calliope asked innocently.
“You’re… digging. Stop it.”
“I’m only encouraging you to be talkative about something I’m interested in. It isn’t as though I’m actually reading your mind.”
“Y’ know,” said Dann, “when most people are interested, they nod and say things like ‘go on,’ instead of giving them little mental shoves.” He reflected that it was no wonder he’d been in such a bad mood lately: Marhaz must have been “encouraging” him all along, the nudges too subtle and impersonal to put him on the alert.
“I am not most people,” said the Muse. “Styx – I’m not even people!” She grinned at him.
“Ho, ho,” muttered Dann. “Ha, ha. My aching ribs.”
“Oh, don’t be like that, Dann! Aren’t you glad things worked out so neatly?”
Calliope put on her best Wheedling Marhaz face. “Not even a little teensy bit?”
“I’m a little teensy bit tempted t’ throw you into next week,” said Dann. “If you’re a Muse, an’ you know th’ world is in trouble, an’ you know how much I hate this Void-cursed place, why in Morgoth’s name have you been draggin’ me in circles for th’ last three weeks?”
The Muse shrugged. “You insisted on returning me to that village, and that would’ve blown my cover,” she said blithely. “I thought you’d give up after a few days, and just head to Osgiliath like I was trying to get you to do. I never expected you to be so stubborn about the whole Influencing thing.” Calliope examined Marhaz’s filthy, ragged nails, and idly gnawed on a hangnail. “Besides,” she added, “It was a great opportunity for characterization. And that barfight scene was priceless.” She frowned. “I have to admit, though: other than that, things have been quite dull.”
Dann stared at the mischievous, alien eyes in Marhaz’s face, and said, “Why do I get this horrible feelin’ that tha’s abou’ t’ change?”
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Postby Tuima » Fri May 02, 2008 6:59 pm

“Well, at least one good thing has come of this,” said Dann, as the two of them wearily made camp that evening. Or while Dann made camp, anyway. The Muse was eating an apple and staring at the sky; clouds scudded across the obsidian mirror of her eyes. “We can finally get out of this Valar-forsaken country. I still don’ understand why you couldn’ just tell me what you were, instead of actin’ like…”
Calliope’s face creased up into an expression of doglike adoration.
“Yeah, like tha’,” said Dann.
The Muse took a bite of her apple. “I already told you. Characterization.”
“Tell you what. Pretend I’m not stupid enough t’ be put off by a chipper answer jus’ because it makes no sense.”
Calliope sighed and set about licking apple juice off her fingers. “Frankly,” she said, “you’ve never been very well developed, character-wise. First you were a stereotype, then you were a love interest. Good angst, but not much more. So I wanted to see you on your own – you know, push your character into new shapes. It didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. You are so infatuated with that Eicys that it’s frightening.”
Dann gave her a slow look, the kind a dormant volcano might offer a team of miners. “Do I want t’ know wha’ in th’ Void y’re talkin’ abou’?”
“It’s not that complicated,” said Calliope. “You see, half the point of dragging the Immies in particular through this quest was so that you could all grow. As characters.” She caught Dann’s look, and the thought behind it as well. “ – Or as ‘people’, fine, call it what you like. I say tomayto, you say tomahto.”
“No,” said Dann, “I don’. I’ve never had a tomato; they’re native t’ Gondor. Stick t’ th’ point.”
Calliope gave him a strange little smile. “It’s a failing we Muses have. Of course we know that to you it’s all real, but for us… it’s just a story. You’re like…actors, but actors we can move around and manipulate. How will Eredolyn reconcile her idealism with real pirates? How would Taras react to being thrown in a dungeon again? How would Dann and Eicys grow as characters without their romantic crutch to lean on?”
“Y’ got Taras thrown in a dungeon?” Dann demanded, aghast. “Marhaz, are y’ crazy?”
“It was quite amusing, actually – or so I hear from my sister in Dol Amroth. Very dramatic.”
“A’righ’, tha’s it!” Dann grabbed Calliope by both her skinny arms and hoisted her up so that their faces were level. “Now listen t’ me – ”
All at once, like someone tearing cobwebs away from a painting, the only whole thing left in his head was a memory: he was holding Eicys exactly like this, his face stinging from her slap, and his chest was filled with a roiling, thorny mess of fury and betrayal and wanting… and then…
Dann almost threw the Muse away from him, stumbling backwards. “Tha’s mine!” he snarled.
“How about that?” said Calliope, getting to her feet. She sounded absurdly pleased. “All it takes to crack you is a physical trigger to the memory. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Besides, it’s not just your memory; it belongs to the story. So it belongs to me, as well.”
“Yeah? Well, you can take your Void-cursed story an’ – ”
“Dann!” cried the Muse, backing away. “By Father Zeus -- will you calm down?”
“Calm down?” he fumed. “All th’ trouble we’ve had – all our problems –”
“Not all of them,” said Calliope. “Just the more dramatically satisfying ones.”
“You use us,” snarled Dann. “Not jus’ to save you, an’ save th’ world; you use us for your own entertainment. Because you can!”
“Pretty much,” agreed the goddess.
Dann took a deep breath. “So in this story of ours, th’ Muses are th’ villains?”
Calliope blinked. “We are not villains,” she snapped, looking slightly ruffled for the first time. “We are beyond that. We are the movers and shapers of the story.”
“You’re villains,” said Dann flatly. “Isn’ it th’ mark of any good villain tha’ they think they’re beyond th’ rules? They hurt people because they can. Because they’re powerful an’ selfish.”
The Muse was looking seriously unnerved. “That’s not right,” she said. “We can’t be villains; we’re not involved. The story is about you, not us.”
“Are you insane? Of course it’s abou’ you! It’s been abou’ you from th’ beginning! The Immies only stayed in Middle-earth because one of your sisters told them they had to save you – an’ jus’ see how much happiness that’s brought us.”
“But you’ve grown so much,” said Calliope earnestly. “Let’s take you and Eicys for example – ”
“Let’s not,” growled Dann.
“But if Melopomne hadn’t encouraged you two to separate – ”
Too late, she realized her mistake.
“That was your fault?” Dann asked, his voice terrifyingly quiet.
“Oh, come on,” said the Muse, hiding her uneasiness with flippancy. “You ‘didn’t want her coming to Dunland because it wasn’t safe for her’? You both bought that excuse?”
“She looks jus’ like a Rohir,” Dann growled.
“So does Cebu.”
“I didn’ have any right tellin’ Cebu where t’ go. I’m in love wi’ Eicys.”
“Yes,” said the Muse, looking long-suffering, “I know. Now think, Dann. Why would Eicys be any safer heading off with Taras to confront a cunning traitor and a bunch of pirates than she would be going with you to confront Dunlendings? You were manipulated, quite neatly.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I truly am. Melopomne has never really learned to be impersonal about the stories she’s in.”
“Impersonal?” echoed Dann, looking dazed. He touched his chest, where Mel’s sword had gone through him.
Then he shook himself. “Taras will keep her safe,” he said, as though willing it to be true. “He’s a better fighter than I am – an’ he’s a prince, besides. She’s probably stayin’ in tha’ palace of his righ’ now, which is a long shot better than this howling wilderness I’m stuck in.”
Marhaz just looked at him sympathetically.
Dann’s eyes widened.
“Tha’ dungeon thing…” he said. “He’s still in there?”
Marhaz nodded.
“Then where is Eicys?”
The Muse looked more sympathetic than ever. “I’m not as good at communicating with my sisters over such a long distance…”
“Where is she?”
“Far Harad.”
“Far-- Is she safe?”
“I told you – Terpsichore is too far away to – ”
Dann swore. “Get on th’ horse,” he said.
“Get on the Void-forsaken horse!” roared Dann. “An’ it had ghaltin’ well better be able t’ keep up with me!”

Yahoo!! Dann is finally, finally moving again!
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Postby Tuima » Sat May 03, 2008 4:06 pm

Everybody send a hug Eredolyn's way: she just graduated from college!! Yeah, Ere!
:!: :clap: :drink: :thumbsup: :bookworm: :!:
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Postby Eredolyn » Wed May 07, 2008 9:21 pm

Aw, thanks Tuima! :)

At last! Plot drive! Referral to our purpose and all that jazz! It was brilliantly crafted, Tuima!
...Too bad there's hardly any immies left to enjoy it. :cry2:
Ah well. Time to add a few twists of my own. On we go!

The king stared. “This is-?”

“-The Witch of Dance, Your Majesty,” Adremis said weakly.

“Ah.” That was really all that could be said at a fat guard springing about
like a young fawn.

“I have watched all of you play your parts,” Terpsichore continued as she advanced on the king. “And believe me, it was just barely entertaining. Now it is my turn to play. I am the Witch of Dance, it is I who you have waited so long for and unless you feel like doing the Virginia Reel it is I who you will purchase today. ” She cast a dark glance in Eicys’ way and added in a steely voice

“No. Distractions. Please.”

Both the king and his men cowered under the muse’s hollow glare. Everyone, even Captain Adremis, even the pirouetting guard, flinched at the weight of her voice and the darkening of the violin duet. Then suddenly the darkness that was Terpsichore was spirited away and she said happily “Now, shall we begin the bargaining?”

Everyone sighed and the guard fell flat on the floor.

“Yes, yes! Captain,” The king said eagerly. “How much for the little raven here?”

Being in a position where the muse’s glare did not have so much potency, Good-arm keenly watched Terpsichore as Adremis and the king quickly negotiated prices under her supervision. There was a hidden depth to all this oddity; the day the pirates first found Terpsichore on the Greed, she wouldn’t shut up about her witch-like talents and the enormous price tag on her head. But when the immies came aboard she was as still as a painting and when they reached A’Malik she was barely a shadow. Why now, after weeks of reclusion, did she suddenly speak out? And why did she encourage the king to buy and enslave her?

…And why, beneath a fearsome, gods-smiting voice, did she sound out of breath?

“450,000, Captain?” The king continued wearily. “That is over double the amount we had agreed upon, Master Bird Peddler.”
“True,” Adremis replied. “But this price includes the carrying charges. Travel from Gondor to Harad is not cheap, Your Highness.”
“It is not expensive either,” The king pointed out darkly. “You know what I do to swindlers who dare sell me trinkets at prices beyond their worth.”
“Care to repeat that last part again?” Terpsichore held her nose as if the whole business stank. “Why do I bother wasting my precious time with you mortals when I could simply-”

“Just what is going on here?”

All eyes turned to the door. A handsome, clean-shaven man in a prestigious robe stepped from the Hall into the atrium.
“Your Highness?” The man said. “You had not returned to the feast, my lord. And then I heard strange music and a threatening voice. I feared that-”
“Worry not yourself, Eliace,” The fat king said amusedly. “Your master does not walk into mortal danger whenever he leaves a banquet. I am bartering with this young peddler of birds here.”
“A bird peddler, my lord?” Eliace glanced down at Captain Adremis.

…And stared.

No one knew why, but the entire hall became silent. Even the king grew quiet as Eliace and Adremis stared at one another. They stared for the longest moment two men had ever stared, as if they had turned into statues in a forgotten museum.

Good-arm, meanwhile, was sure his blood had frozen over.
No, it couldn’t be. Not him. It wasn’t possible.
Yet there he was. Cleaner maybe, more respectable-looking perhaps, but still Eliace. There were few faces that could bring back memories in such a nightmarish way.

A smile slid across Eliace’s face and he said “A bird peddler. How interesting.”

One of the officals became pressured to break the unspoken tension. “Eliace, you are the Master of Treasury. Perhaps you can advise the king to avoid this imprudent purchase with a sordid pirate.”

Now the man looked at Adremis as if he discovered a shiny novelty. “Really? You turned pirate, Adremis?”
“Do you know the captain, Eliace?” The king asked with heightened curiosity.
“In a different life, my lord,” Eliace said, but he wasn’t paying the king any particular attention. He now stared at Adremis with a look of dark contentment. “Of course, a captain too. I should have guessed. You always wanted to be a captain, didn’t you Adremis?”

Good-arm felt like a white-hot ball of lead, aching to be launched from the Twin Sisters’cannon. Desperately he turned and looked at the young lad standing before the king. Adremis’ fists were clenched tight, but they bore no anger. Even from behind, Good-arm could tell the boy’s every muscle was gripped with sheer horror. His body slowly began to rock back then forth, as if it was on a ship in a high storm.

“Master Peddler,” The king said pointedly. “If you do not care to speak with the Master of Treasury then I suggest we return to our bargaining. Will you go no lower than 450,000?”
Adremis didn’t answer. Good-arm didn’t expect him to; he wasn’t in the atrium with the King of Harad anymore. He was on a deck of many years ago. It was dark. And it was raining.

“Captain Adremis,” There was a tone of warning in the king’s plump voice. “You will answer my question.”
Good-arm caught a glimpse of Adremis’ face. It was ghostly white with frozen beads of sweat. He still rocked back and forth, riding with the stormy tide. Back and forth. Everyone watched him with bafflement. All except Eliace, who was clearly enjoying every moment of this.
Then Adremis rocked back too far-

Good-arm caught him, just in time. He held a firm grip on the lad’s shoulder to keep him upright. One look at his captain up-close made Good-arm nearly sick. The boy had faced down a ship armed to the teeth with cannons and didn’t break a sweat, but now he was crumbling like rotted wood. For Adremis, facing Eliace was facing legion of old ghosts that would no longer remain buried.
“I got you boy,” Good-arm whispered. “The king’s waiting. You’ve got to say something.”

Eliace now squinted at Good-arm, and then gave a smile of recognition that made Good-arm’s stomach churn.
Ithilos?” He laughed “You old fool! You’re still alive? What happened to your arm?”
Good-arm shut the name, the words, everything out. Adremis unfortunately was not so apt. Good-arm could hear his mind reeling back to the time of a frightened child.
“Ithilos…” He groaned.
“I’m here, lad. Now keep going, the King is staring.”
“I can’t do it.”
“Steady, boy. Steady.”
“No I can’t do it, I can’t, help me Ithilos, I can’t-”
Good-arm looked to the little group of pirates and picked out the nearest face.

He watched as Eredolyn jumped at the sudden hiss of her name. She looked at him and Adremis as if she had been ripped from the backdrop of a swirling, unreal scene. “Yes sir?”
“Steady him,” Good-arm ordered.
She blinked. “Er-”
Now, please.
Adremis wasn’t the only one with a voice that made one dare not disobey its command. But Good-arm saved the voice only for when people were acting completely senseless. Eredolyn quickly stepped forward and lightly gripped Adremis’ arm. He was still tottering back and forth like he was lost inside a storm. The Quartermaster, meanwhile, stepped before the king.

“There, my lord. Do you see what weeks of travel across sea and desert can do to a man? The poor captain is swooning with fatigue! He should deserve no less than his proposed amount. And knowing my master he will demand no less, either.”

“…Very well,” The large man grumbled sourly. “But if you expect me to part with such a sum, I expect to keep the witch for a day first to test her abilities.”
“Of course,” Good-arm conceded. “Take her to another of your feasts, my lord. If there is one thing she is apt at, it is entertainment. Isn’t that so, witch?”
“Hm? Oh yes. Sure,” Terpsichore quipped, still holding her nose.
“We shall see,” The king replied. And that was that. He stood and all his officials rose with him. The band of pirates bowed cordially as the royal procession began filing back through the private door and into the Hall, where the celebrations still carried on. Terpsichore was roughly escorted out too, the guard who played victim to her choreographed whim saw to that. Eliace glanced pleasantly over his shoulder and said in parting

“Goodbye, Captain Adremis, Ithilos. Hopefully we shall not have to meet again.”

Good-arm did not reply and naturally Adremis did not either. And so these words were the last to vibrate through the lofty atrium before the door was slammed shut and the pirates, immies, captain and quartermaster, were left alone.


As Terpsichore was forced into the luminous Hall she felt herself grow a little stronger. Music that was pleasing to the ears laced the edges of the banquet like thick ribbon. There was nothing more helpful than good music. It helped one think straight. It calmed one’s fears…

She shook off the guard escorting her and dabbed gingerly at her nose.

Droplets of blood ran down her fingers.

Quickly she covered her nose again with as much dignity as she could. She shouldn’t have made the fat guard dance. She felt the air being knocked out of her as soon as she made him pirouette. But she had guised her lack of breath with a tone of voice dark enough to make even Melepomne proud. Then she took her place beside the king and that’s when the bleeding began. That never happened before. She was growing worse.

Let’s see…did anyone know? Was anyone smart enough to figure out why she had never displayed her skill before, why she had become a recluse, why she wanted to be shuffled off to the king and get away from this side of the Story, away from her sisters, as quickly as possible?

No, of course not. As long as she played the snob and held her nose like all mortals stank, the fools hadn’t a clue.

…She was losing her powers.

Um, yeah Tuima. We'll talk later. :wink: Toodles!
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Postby Tuima » Mon May 19, 2008 1:07 pm

The good thing about fighting a nearly undending sea of enemies, Kad decided, was that no matter where you swung, you were practically guaranteed a hit. He was a quite capable swordsman, thanks to the Ithilien Rangers and a fair bit of natural talent – but hanging around forty-something Dunedain would probably make Zorro feel inadequate with a blade, and so Kad felt pretty smug about the steadily growing pile of orcs at his feet.
The smug feeling was tempered by a certain amount of raw terror: Kad knew perfectly well that the only reason the Immies had survived this long was that the orcs were so disorganized. The crowd in back, eager to get to the fight, shoved and jostled their fellows in the narrow corridor. The little space was choked with the sounds of infighting: the yowls of orcs who had tripped, the screams of the fallen wounded, and the curses of the orcs who were left to stumble and sprawl over said fallen. And through it all came the steady, unrelenting hsscthunk, hsscthunk of Erestor’s blades, lending the chaos an added dimension of uncertainty and terror.
Still, all it would take was a brief retreat and a good volley of arrows, and the Immies would be as full of holes as Kad’s ego after a verbal duel with Erestor.
Kad wondered, as he blocked an incoming scimitar and kicked its owner in the stomach, what would happen back in the real world if one died in Middle-earth…
“Erestor!” That was Tuima, her voice sharp with the same terror that was gnawing at Kad. Erestor spun toward her so fast that his cloak hem whirled up nearly level with his shoulders. “They’re retreating!” Tuima cried.
Erestor, seeing Tuima in no immediate danger, kept right on turning, back to the fight. Kad caught the muted snarl of an Elven curse as the Councilor saw for himself what Tuima had pointed out. Incredibly, his throwing knives began zipping into the orcs even faster than before. But they were hitting backs and sides now, instead of throats and faces: the orcs were indeed retreating, regrouping. Someone in the back was bawling orders.
The smug feeling turned to cold grey ashes in Kad’s chest, leaving a dry, sour emptiness.
Tuima again. Her braids had come loose: Kad could see where a thick chunk of hair had been cut cleanly away. She seized a limp, blood-smeared orc in both arms, and pulled it frantically toward the back wall, just beneath the half-collapsed vent near the ceiling. “Help me!” she snarled at him.
“With what?” asked a bewildered Kad. He pushed his filthy, sweaty bangs away from his eyes, and became aware of the most intense, bone-buckling exhaustion he had ever experienced in his life. Lambing season had nothing on this. And his hip was bleeding rather heavily, although the pain was making itself felt only in fitful spurts. He could ignore it.
He staggered over to Tuima and helped her stack another dead orc atop the first. “What are we doing?” he asked hoarsely. Erestor’s knives continued to zip and whine somewhere in the background.
“We can… stand on them…” panted Tuima. Her left sleeve was wet and dark, but it wasn’t until Cebu came hurrying over with the torch that Kad realized the blood soaking it through was bright red.
“You’re hurt!”
“I don’t have time to be hurt!” Tuima shouted into his face. She kicked a straggler orc in the chin, snapping his head back with her boot heel. Kad noticed Erestor notice. “Help me!” Tuima howled. “If they get organized before we reach the vent – ”
“They won’t,” said Erestor over his shoulder. His chest rose and fell; black orc-blood outlined the ridges and puckers of his mangled cheek. “Get out of here; I’ll be right behind.”
Tuima glanced up with a dead orc still in her arms, and her face settled into sharp, pinched lines. “Don’t try anything heroic,” she said.
An elegant black eyebrow arched upwards. “Heroism was designed for better-looking people than I,” said Erestor. “Which therefore includes you, if only just barely.” He turned, to look Tuima very briefly in the eye. “Can you get them out?”
For answer, Tuima heaved the final corpse onto the heap, climbed atop it, and balanced there with feet spread. “Kad. Climb on my shoulders.”
“Are you insane?” Kad shouted. He rammed his sword into a feebly-stirring orc. “Let me go on the bottom.”
“You’re human!” snapped Tuima in the voice that had always made the Immies feel like small, irritating schoolchildren. “You can’t balance worth spit, and your jumping is even more pathetic than that! Now stop arguing!”
Kad reflected, as he clambered atop Tuima’s shoulders and heaved himself into the narrow opening, that it was utterly like Tuima to temper bravery and self-sacrifice with a racist (or was it speciesist?) diatribe. He wriggled around in the tiny space until he was facing out again. “Hand her up!” he shouted over the orcish howls, and Cebu wedged her torch into the macabre stepping-stool they had created, and set her foot in Tuima’s cupped hands.
Kad threw a brief glance over the rising copper curls. Erestor had advanced halfway down the corridor by that point, driving the goblins ahead of him in a blur of clockwork death. Kad cheered and reached down to grab Cebu’s arms.
But then, beyond the crowd of panicky, retreating orcs, another regiment of enemies appeared at the end of the corridor. These, however, approached warily, cautiously -- as befitted people who had just met Erestor.
Well, not met, obviously. Those that had actually met him were in no position to be cautious (or, frankly, anything else) ever again.
Kad hauled Cebu into the vent, flattening himself against a wall to allow her room to wriggle past. “Tuima!” he yelled, straining to grab at the elleth’s fingertips. But Tuima hesitated, turning toward the Councilor.
“Erestor! Erestor, there are too many – come on!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming! Get the mortals out!”
“Erestor!” Tuima screamed. The scarred Elf spun sideways, and the black-feathered arrow zipped past to bury itself in the pile of bodies at Tuima’s feet.
“Will you idiots get out of here?” Erestor howled over his shoulder.
“Tuima, come on!” yelled Kad. A jumble of echoes behind him signified Cebu’s added exhortation.
Tuima’s mouth pressed up tight and thin. She leaped off the pile of orcs, backed off a few paces, and then ran – step, step, step; an extra step to plant her foot squarely on the chest of the topmost orc; and… leap…
Elves are graceful, and fast, and strong. They can jump much higher than a human, and land with much more accuracy.
None of this does them any good when the orc they were using as a stepladder turns out not to be dead after all.
Tuima’s soaring leap jerked in midair as the orc’s claws closed around her ankle. She let out a brief scream and slammed hard against the wall, her head and shoulder crashing into the stone just beneath the vent. The injured, gasping, grinning orc jerked her cruelly downwards –
-- And found himself puzzled when she didn’t fall.
Kad hung onto Tuima’s arm with all his strength as she swung the other wildly and managed to get her hand over the ledge. The orc pulled again, his claws digging into her leg. Tuima clawed her way into the vent, helped by her friends’ clutching hands, and as the orc rose up after her, she lifted her unencumbered foot high over the ugly face and smashed it down again. There was a horrible crunch and a gurgling shriek of agony, and the orc dropped away. Tuima scrabbled and kicked and finally slid into the dark, narrow, suffocating safety of the vent.
“Go!” she shouted at the Immies. They needed no further urging – simply set off into the blackness as fast as they could crawl. Behind them, the dead-end corridor echoed with the sudden twang and buzz of archers, firing in unison.
Erestor’s brief shout vanished under a hundred howls of orcish triumph.
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Postby Tuima » Mon May 19, 2008 1:21 pm

The Immies froze. Out of the pitch-black obscurity ahead came Cabu’s whisper, quavery with shock and horror: “Erestor!”
“Keep – moving,” said Tuima.
“But – but we have to go back, we have to help – ”
“Yes, wouldn’t that be a nice slap in the face to him?” said Tuima. “He said to get you out, and I’m culang well going to do it!” Her voice rose; this was as close to hysteria as Tuima was ever going to get. “Move!” she barked. “Now! I am not going to die down here, and I have no intention of allowing either of you to do so either!”
“But Tuima --” Kad began.
“It’s one dead already; do you want to make it four?”
Kad didn’t move. “That’s a bit heartless, don’t you think?
“Heartless it may be,” said Tuima, “but at least it’s not brainless. Or lifeless. Now move.”
The Immies finally obeyed – though it had more to do with Tuima’s tone than with her logic. Her voice sounded like a prisoner in a straightjacket: tight, calm, controlled – but raving and screaming somewhere underneath. Tuima, the Immies remembered, had never dealt well with even the idea of death.
Kad stumbled forward, blindly, his eyes squeezed tightly closed to keep the suffocating darkness out of his brain. Just in front of him, Cebu’s deep, shaky breathing told him she was trying to do the same thing. He reached out and put a hand on her leg; she jumped violently and he heard her head crack against the ceiling.
“Sorry!” he whispered.
“No – no,” said Cebu. “I’m okay. I’m okay. Thanks, Kad.”
A faint smile tinged his voice. “This is me nodding in a concerned way,” he said.
A pause. “This is me looking incredulous that you’re cracking jokes right now.”
“Heh. This is me looking wounded at your incredulity.”
Tuima would have liked to shout at them both. She wanted to scream; she wanted to run and run and never stop; she wanted to be able to close her eyes and stop seeing Erestor’s face. But she knew from the breathless, wobbly quality of her friends’ voices that this banter was the only thing that was keeping them sane right now. It would take a crueler person than Tuima to take that away.

The Immies crawled. Sometimes, when the vent narrowed or had been damaged, they got down on their stomachs and squirmed.
Kad hated it.
His grandfather had been a coal miner, just like the ancestor of nearly every Welshman alive, and the old man had taken Kad down into the pits and tunnels and cramped black underhangs a few times. It had been fun: exploring together, getting dirty, terrifying the life out of his mother. But there had always been signs, iron struts, hard hats – precautions. And his grandfather, who could navigate the place blindfolded, who knew every trick in the book and a fair number in no book at all, had always been there with a tight grip on Kad’s hand.
A Welsh coal mine was to a ventilation shaft in Moria what a house cat is to a starving lion.
Cebu wasn’t enjoying it any more than Kad. She was behind him now – as soon as there had been enough room to slide past each other, Kad had insisted on this. Cebu was not going to go disappearing into unseen holes ever again. But every time he had squirmed free of a particularly narrow passage, he had to crouch in the darkness and listen to her quiet, panicky struggles. The cut on his hip throbbed and his head ached from banging it so many times.
They all got stuck a few times, which was most hideous of all. It happened most rarely to Tuima, who was Elven-slender and flexible as a snake, but she managed to wedge herself into a few awkward spots right along with the mortals. She never said anything when this happened, but her breathing grew so fast and hoarse that Kad experienced an irrational longing for a paper bag to give her.
He was convinced this would go on forever. At the same time, he felt a thrill every time they turned a corner: maybe this would be it; maybe they had found a way out… The cycle of anticipation and disappointment was a slow, grinding torture.

And then…
“Stop!” said Kad hoarsely.
“What is it?” asked Cebu from behind him. The unspoken plea was heavy in her voice: please not another blockage…
Kad took a few deep breaths, and lifted his chin to be sure he was not mistaken. “A draft!”
A tiny noise of profound gratitude escaped Cebu’s throat. Tuima spoke for the first time, her voice as raw as if she had been screaming for hours: “Praise Elbereth,” she said. “Hurry.”
Kad shuffled forward as fast as he could manage, his bruised, battered knees protesting with every move. His hands swept the passage in front of him.
The only warning the others got was a yelp that sounded like “blwdi – ” and then a thump and clatter of stone. Cebu could feel nothing in front of her but the faint touch of air on her face.
“Kad? Kad!”
There was a groan and a string of muttered Welsh. “Well, I found the exit,” said Kad. “There’s a bit of a drop it is, ie?”
“Are you all right?” Cebu called anxiously. Kad’s grammar always slipped back to Welsh constructions when he was tired, hurt, or agitated.
“Na, there is good with me. I mean – ah, uffern. I’m fine, Cebu.”

The others made it out without further mishap – although Tuima flung herself free of the vent so fast that nothing short of a miracle could account for her landing rightside up, Elven agility or no. She didn’t stay upright for long, though: she laid down flat on her back with her arms and legs outstretched, and gulped air like a dying man. When Kad fumbled their third-to-last torch out of his pack and lit it, he could see that Tuima’s face was white as new snow, and her eyes were screwed tight shut. None of the Elves had ever cared much for caves.
Cebu crept close to him, drawn to the torch like a moth, and Kad reached out a shaking hand. Cebu flung herself at him abruptly, and the two of them stayed wrapped close together, rocking quietly back and forth beneath the bright-burning torch.
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Postby Eredolyn » Mon May 19, 2008 1:50 pm

Bwa-ha-ha! Brilliant Tuima! And what happened to poor Erestor? Only time will tell...
In the meantime, here's this!

“Two cinnamon sticks, a dash of ground cloves, one cup of orange juice, a squirt of lemon, and the juice of six apples.”

The Head Cook stirred the contents of the mug as it sat on a red-hot grill. Then, satisfied the liquid was hot enough, he lifted the mug and set it down before his guest. The guest raised the mug to her lips and carefully took a sip. The little group of cooks and kitchen boys watched curiously as the girl savored the taste and smiled broadly.
“...So?” Asked the Head Cook in broken Common Tongue. “What is it that I cook?”

Eredolyn beamed and proudly raised the mug and its swirling contents. “This, my friends, is apple cider.”

Her audience, however, was not impressed. “Sounds like a concoction of foolery to me,” muttered one cook to another in Haradric. “Why in Basra's name would someone want a hot drink in this heat?”
“Thanks for the special order,” The immie put two gold coins on the table. “I know you don't get such odd requests in the middle of the night, but hot cider always helps me sleep.”
“Yes, yes,” The Head Cook's sole attention was on plucking up the coins. “My pleasure, my pleasure. Come back any time.”

Eredolyn had to stop and shudder slightly at the words “my pleasure,” then she pushed open the kitchen door and kept on walking. She could never hear that phrase again without her stomach taking a nasty turn.

As she padded down the hall towards the Main Commons, she turned the day’s events over and over in her mind. She tried to figure it out, but none of what had happened that afternoon made sense. It was part of the reason she couldn’t sleep. Adremis had been relaxed and self-content at the feast, and then he nearly fell to pieces in the atrium, and then what happened after they left went something like this:

“You can get off me now, Miss Eredolyn.”
Eredolyn stared at the captain as the pirates were escorted to the Guest House. “I was never ‘on’ you to begin with,” She said as she let go of his arm. “You were about to faint.”
“Faint?” Adremis gave her an incredulous look. “Do I
look like the sort that would faint?”
“You were about to do
something along those lines,” She said tetchily. “What happened back there? You were all pale.”
Adremis waved the nightmarish event away with an idle hand. “Fatigue, as Good-arm said. All this travel has taken its toll. And I haven’t been sleeping well-”
“Why do you always have to make something up?” She said irately. “Why can’t you say ‘It’s none of your business, Eredolyn’?”
Adremis stopped and stared at her. “Miss Eredolyn?”
“It is most certainly none of your business, Eredolyn.”

And that was that. By that time they had reached his room and he slammed his door shut. She hadn’t seen him since. She knew she shouldn’t waste her time feeling concerned; it was his decision to drop the subject like a sack of old meat and turn his heel on her. Whatever happened to him in the atrium, he would sort it out later in some cool fashion. He was Adremis, after all. It was pointless to worry about him. And it was none of her business anyway.

And yet…she couldn’t sleep.

Eredolyn’s mind went back to keeping her hot cider from spilling over. She had managed to make it to the Main Commons without losing a precious drop. Now she just needed to cross the great expanse (harboring its statue of the recently deadly Lady Fortune) to reach her room. Then it was a long draught of cider and a dreamy night’s sleep for-

She froze at the sound of glass shattering.

Slowly the immie glanced upwards. It sounded like it came from the room directly above her head. Glass or something like it had been broken. That sort of sound this late at night only meant one thing: a burglar was in the Commons.
The pirates had drunk enough at the feast to fall into a week-long coma. No one, therefore, was awake right now. Eredolyn was sure of it.

Should she do something?

-Which is a silly question because this is Eredolyn we’re talking about. She infallibly had to do something.

Cautiously the immie made her way up the nearest stairs. She tried counting the doors until she reached where the sound took place, but soon saw there was no need; among the row of doors one was slightly ajar with a soft light seeping out.
Eredolyn quickly realized that walking into danger with nothing but a mug of cider was not the best way to do things. But perhaps there was nothing dangerous at all. What if a vase had tipped over in the wind? Or what if a drunken pirate just dropped his wineglass? Admittedly drunken pirates could not be omitted from the category of dangerous but still-

As she reached the door her mind was aware that it needed to shut up.
The girl reached forward and gingerly pushed the door wider. Just a peek. She would just take a peek. It was probably nothing anyway. It was probably just-

Smashed furniture, torn curtains, and shattered porcelain strewn about a thoroughly demolished room. Sheer horror forced her to open the door wide open and take in the massacre of what once were tasteful living quarters. There was nothing in the room that wasn’t broken, smashed in, or twisted out of shape. Whoever the burglar was, he was also a maniac.

And in the middle of it all, sitting against the side of the bed, was Adremis.

All right, Eredolyn thought, this burglary just got personal. She immediately rushed in and crouched beside the sprawled captain.
“Adremis! Adremis, talk to me!” She cried. “Are you all right? Who did this to you?”
Her captain didn’t respond. His eyes were dark and lifeless. If it wasn’t for his chest rising and falling Eredolyn would have sworn he was dead. His room had been destroyed by a madman and he didn’t seem to notice. He didn’t even blink when he was carefully lifted off the floor by the young girl and seated on the bed.
Eredolyn, with some reluctance, took her mug of hot cider and pressed it into Adremis’ hands. “You need this more than I do,” She said.

The immie then rose and looked about the room. All right, the thief couldn’t have used the door because it didn’t look forced open and Eredolyn would have seen him if he escaped that way. That left the window. Whoever did this was a raving, insane-
She stopped. The window hadn’t been forced open either. The glass was intact and it was still locked from the inside. Now that she got to looking around, nothing of value had been stolen from the room either. And the twisted debris revealed the room had been destroyed not in eccentric vandalism, but in a violent rage.

Eredolyn looked down at a bottle by her feet. She picked it up. It was a whiskey bottle, nearly empty.
She watched Adremis in disbelief. He stared down at the untouched cider, still looking completely lifeless.
“…You did this?” She whispered.
Last edited by Eredolyn on Mon May 19, 2008 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Eredolyn » Mon May 19, 2008 1:53 pm

This was a nightmare, but the sort you couldn’t wake up from. It was the sort of nightmare where you either stuck out your chest and went with it or broke under the pressure.

Eredolyn chose to avoid committing the latter, as Adremis would have laughed her into humiliation later if she did that.

Taking a deep breath, she held the bottle in front of the pale man. “Do you drink, Adremis?”

Adremis said nothing.

Eredolyn accordingly went to the window, opened it, and threw out the bottle. There was a tinkle far below as it made contact with the stone veranda.
“Answers can't be found inside a bottle,” She chided him. “Do you understand?”

Adremis didn't answer. His whole concentration was on the little mug of cider. Eredolyn became aware that she was acting like a disapproving mother. Scolding Adremis about alcohol wasn't going to help him. Before pursuing the crisis any further, Eredolyn banished all thoughts of lecturing and carefully took a seat beside him. The mattress shaped around her like a feathered dream; the only reassurance in face of the crumbling, haggard man sitting a foot away. He looked like an injured animal that would either submit or lash out, depending on the mood.

“What happened?” She asked gently.
Adremis stared deep into the cup and said “Ghosts.”
Eredolyn's eyes went from Adremis to the destroyed room, then back to Adremis. She chose her next words very cautiously. “...You see ghosts, Adremis?”
The young man squeezed the mug and fiercely bit his lip. It looked as if he was going to fall to pieces, but he managed to regain enough composure to give her an exhausted look.
“What are you doing here?” He demanded.
“Considering you're the one with the wrecked room, I think I should be asking the questions.”
Adremis looked about his quarters, then waved away the strewn glass and broken furniture with a shaky hand. “It was just an accident. That is all.”
“You said it was ghosts.”
Once again he stared into the cider. He made no motion to drink it, but he held onto the mug as if it were the last rung of the ladder before a yawning abyss. “I am…a little haunted, Miss Eredolyn.”
“Haunted.” Eredolyn felt she was walking down a long corridor of eggshells here. “Can I ask what you're haunted by?”
Now he looked like a vile taste jumped into his mouth. “Oh, will you go away?”
“Adremis, you're not well,” Eredolyn spoke as calm and plainly as she could. “If I leave, you could end up hurting yourself.”
“Oh, and you think I couldn't hurt you?” He asked with a black glare. “Do not tempt me, Miss Eredolyn. I did it before and I could do it again.”

There was silence, this time interlocked with ice-cold fear. As Eredolyn looked at the dark holes in his eyes she felt her senses shut down and wind up all at the same time.
“I am sorry,” He said when he saw her terrified look. “That was bad form. I wouldn't hurt...I didn't mean....I would never...”
His breathing quickened again and his color drained. Apple cider spilled over the rim of the mug as his hands began to shake. His chest heaved so tumultuously it looked as if his heart was about to explode.
“Adremis, don't,” Eredolyn felt a new, hot panic overwhelm her cold dread. “Come on, stay with me. Talk to me. What's happening? What's haunting you?”
No answer. Now his whole body was shuddering.
“Look at me. What is it?” Without realizing, she cupped Adremis' face with her hands in an attempt to calm him down. She held firm, but all her efforts to help felt utterly useless. Then she said
“This is about the mutiny, isn't it?”

A couple moments passed of pure terror. Then, like the calm drifting in after a raging storm, Adremis' breathing slowed and his muscles gained control. Eredolyn watched with growing relief as he slumped over and the color restored to his face. After a while he had enough strength to wipe his mouth and the sweat off his face. He blinked as he took the room and Eredolyn into focus.
“...I am sorry, Eredolyn,” He said shakily. “You should not have seen me like this. Oh dear, look at my room.”
“Does this happen a lot?” She was still shaking a little herself.
“Now and again,” He said honestly. “I was just remembering…someone I miss. Did I do all this?”
“You must have been very close to your father.”

Adremis swallowed down his ragged breath and smiled a little. “…I see I do not give your astuteness enough credit, Miss Eredolyn.”
She brushed the weak, dark rim under his eye with her thumb and realized her hands were still on Adremis' face. She also realized they didn't want to lower away just yet.
“It's obvious you're not coping with his death.” Eredolyn plowed on. “And you're having problems with the mutiny too. Please Adremis, tell me what happened.”
“I told you talking will not help.”
“If you don't talk about it, even just a little bit, it'll keep eating at you. And it’s not going to stop at a destroyed room, we both know that. Please, please tell me before it gets any worse.”

He looked like a man with one foot suspended over a ragged edge. He stared at her for a long time, apparently struggling with making the step. Then, having reached some internal decision, he looked up at the ceiling in a picture of painful recollection.
“...When the mutiny began, my father and I were so preoccupied with keeping the ship off the rocks that we didn't even see it coming. The mutineers descended on us like wild crows. We stood back to back and for a time and we fought them off. I did my best, but it wasn't enough. As hard as I tried, it just wasn't enough. They overwhelmed me, and they tied me to the mizzenmast and they...they decapitated my father. They killed him right there, before my eyes. Even now it’s hard to get the picture out. My father has been dead four years, and I keep thinking...if I had fought a little longer or a little harder, things could have been different. My father could be alive. The possibilities haunt me to this day...like a pack of ghosts that will not leave me in peace.”

Eredolyn could only gape as he took a sip of the hot cider. So this was it. This was Adremis; not a tyrannical cold-blooded captain, but a hurt, confused young man. A man who witnessed his father's murder, powerless to stop it, and tormented so much by unattainable “what-ifs” and imagined guilt that he strayed to a withering life of piracy. He was just trying to be a hero in a world where heroes fail.
“What did you say?” Adremis asked her.
“I said I don't think you failed,” Eredolyn murmured, her face turning into one giant blush. “To me...you are a hero.”
There was silence, and then her hands felt his cheeks turn very warm. Between her thumbs and fingers he looked away in embarrassment. “There are no such things as heroes, Eredolyn. There are no knights invincible to blows and no princes with spotless swords. You are just the girl to get caught up in such illusions-”

She kissed him.

Later Eredolyn would wonder why or how it happened, but would come upon no conclusion. One second she was looking up at him, the next her lips was against his. She did remember everything turning soft and tender, like a world of gauze or watercolors. She wished she could make such a world last a little longer...
She slowly pulled away and everything gradually refocused. Her hands were still cupping his cheeks, his eyes were still lowered and he still gripped the little mug of cider. But...something was different now.

Something was wrong.

It was a mistake to kiss him, she realized. A very, very big mistake. The way his teeth clenched and fingers tightened it looked like he was refraining from hitting something.
She drew back with a feeling of hurt perplexity while he looked up with a face of sheer annoyance.
“Eredolyn, I need you to leave.”
“But-” She began.
“You want so desperately to fix everything.” He rebuked. “Go back to bed, Miss Eredolyn. This is something you cannot fix.”

The girl gaped. She tried to make words come out of her mouth, but she felt that even the slightest sound would seize her throat and squeeze out the tears she was trying fiercely to hold back. She did her best not to look at him as she rose from the bed. And then, with as much dignity as possible, she left Adremis in his dark, ruined quarters.

She strode through the Commons at lightning speed. How dare he say she couldn’t fix it? Eredolyn prided herself in fixing all sorts of problems back home. She could even open up her own practice! Family problems, friends’ problems, relationship problems (others’ relationship problems, of course), she had fixed them all. All right, when it came to her own life she was an idiot, but when it came to solving other people’s problems she was the best. She could help. She could fix this too if only he’d let her.

Why did she get stuck with someone like Adremis? Why couldn’t she wind up with someone frustration-free like Dan--
Like Taras--
Well some man had to be living in Middle Earth without mind-numbing angst so why couldn’t she end up with him?!
But no, instead she gets a bratty pirate. A bratty pirate who’ll snub her til the end of time but snap and tear up his room over the king’s stupid treasurer-

That was it. Suddenly everything fell into place. Eredolyn nearly cursed at herself for not seeing it before. The answer to all of Adremis’ problems had been staring her in the face, in the eyes of that man Eliace.
Well then, Captain Adremis, Eredolyn thought. If you don’t think I can fix things, I’ll just have to show you that I can.

The End! For now...
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Postby Tuima » Mon May 19, 2008 2:18 pm

YIKES!!! Go, Ere! Post soon, or I may not have any fingernails left that are not gnawed down to the quick. That was incredible! *Does a dance of frustration, angst, and glee* (a very confusing dance; do not attempt at home).

Perhaps twenty minutes passed, though it felt both shorter and much, much longer. Tuima finally got a grip on herself, though it was a lot less firm than she would have liked. She roused the other two, reached an arm back into the vent to retrieve her pack (she had dragged it behind her until the last few feet, at which point she had abandoned everything in her hurry to get out), and set about cleaning, bandaging, and bullying. The straightforward tasks did a lot to calm her. It wasn’t enough, but she hadn’t expected it to be. There would be time to panic, grieve, and recover once they were out of Moria.
The trouble was, getting out of Moria did not look very likely at the moment. After all that crawling around in the dark, all those blocked entrances, all the curves and jinks and rises, the Immies could be anywhere. In fact…
“Give me the torch,” said Tuima.
Kad’s knuckles whitened around it for a moment before he reluctantly handed it over. He and Cebu’s eyes followed it, hungrily. “What is it?” he asked.
Tuima raised the torch to the wall carvings. “These are the same as the ones in that hall where we fought,” she said.
“We were fighting for our lives against a huge horde of orcs and you took time to notice the décor?”
Tuima gave him a caustic look.
“Elves!” muttered Kad.
“The carvings are rarely the same for more than four or five hundred yards,” said Tuima, with aspersion. “And I can smell orc-blood… We must be quite close to the room we left from.”
“About sixty yards away, in fact,” said a voice. The torchlight abruptly outlined a tall, elegant figure in the passageway. “I do apologize,” it said politely. “This must be my fault. What part of ‘get out of here, you idiots’ did I not make sufficiently clear?”
Kad’s jaw almost hit the floor. Cebu’s eyes threatened to pop right out of her head. And Tuima was alarmed to discover that her heart was performing a trick midway between melting and frantic, brutal pounding. She felt as though her whole chest had seized up. She also felt a crazy urge to burst into tears, or laughter, or some such asinine display of emotion.
How utterly annoying.
Kad found his voice first. “You’re alive!”
“Yes, Kad,” said Erestor, “I noticed. But thank you for pointing it out.”
“But you – you didn’t come out! You said you’d be right behind us…”
“Well, the fighting went on for some time,” said Erestor. “And besides -- I wasn’t going to leave all my knives there.”
“We thought you were dead!”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Erestor!” said Cebu. “You saved our lives!”
And she gave him a hug.

She might as well have shoved a steel rod down his spine. Erestor jerked to rigid attention, every muscle stiff, his arms held awkwardly over Cebu’s head to avoid any further contact. After a minute he unbent enough to pat her tentatively on the head, looking about as enthusiastic as a visitor to the Scorpion Petting Zoo. When she didn’t let go fast enough, he gave her another pat, looking desperate.
She seemed to interpret this as encouragement. Cebu was a firm believer in hugs, and she was very good at them. Most people melted right off. She could get Eicys or Eredolyn to practically dissolve on her shoulder if she put her mind to it.
But Erestor showed as much inclination to melt as a stone pillar.
“Cebu?” said the Elf, his voice strangled by shock and tightly gritted teeth. “Is this… really necessary?”
“Oh. Sorry.” She let go. Erestor hurriedly backed off a few steps and began to breathe again. He was staring at Cebu with eyes that were a little too wide, and his hands opened and closed uneasily.
Tuima made a mental note that the Councilor found physical touch disconcerting. Could come in handy, that. In the meantime…
“All right, let me see the wound.”
“What wound?” asked Erestor, turning to her with obvious relief.
“The one I’ve been longing to give you since the day we met,” she drawled. “Don’t act stupid, Erestor; it doesn’t suit you. I saw you jump in front of that knife.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The knife heading for Cebu,” snapped Tuima.
“What knife?”
The Councilor folded his arms.
“I saw you,” said Tuima. “There was a knife headed for Cebu, you dove in front of it, and Cebu walks off completely unharmed. Now you are going to let me treat the wound.”
“There is no wound!”
“Wait a minute,” said Cebu. “You did stop that knife! I thought I saw – why did you say you didn’t?”
Erestor tugged his cloak a little tighter around his shoulders. “I didn’t say anything of the sort,” he said. “I simply told you I wasn’t carrying a shield, and allowed you to jump to conclusions. You’re good at that.” In the privacy of his head, he added, Most people are. It was amazing what people would believe of him just because half his face was a mangled mess. He’d learned to use the fact to his advantage.
“You weren’t carrying a shield,” Cebu pointed out, looking alarmed and a bit ill. “How bad are you hurt?”
“Oh no! Really?”
“No. I was correcting your grammar. ‘How badly were you hurt.’ And in answer: I am not hurt. Haven’t you ever been taught that loose, heavy fabric can be used to block missiles?”
“Um… no.”
“It’s a useful piece of information. It doesn’t work for heavier weapons or direct blows, of course, but most of the Imladris Guard wear long heavy cloaks for exactly that reason, and Tuima can tell you how few arrow wounds – ”
Cebu gave him an anxious smile. “You’re trying to distract me from the fact that you saved my life. It’s not working.”
Erestor opened his mouth, shut it again, and finally muttered, “observant little thing, aren’t you?” Something in Cebu’s expression must have alarmed him, because he took a long step backwards, gave her a menacing look, and said, “Cebu, if you try to hug me again, I swear I will let the next knife hit you.”
“Yes, Erestor,” said the redhead.
Erestor looked suspicious. “I mean that,” he said in a voice with snow on it.
“All right, Erestor.”
Erestor’s suspicious look condensed into frustration. “You’re trying preemptive meekness on me, aren’t you?”
“No, Erestor,” said Cebu, radiating innocence.
The Elf blinked at her a few times, rubbed the back of his neck uncertainly, and said, “Well. If you’re all fit to travel, we shouldn’t stay around here. Er. Shall we get moving?”
As Cebu opened her mouth, he lashed out: “Don’t say ‘yes, Erestor’.”
The redhead gave him a saucy little smile. “Okay.” She bounced ahead to walk next to Kad, but then curved around again and said, “By the way – Thank you, Erestor.”
The Councilor stared at her retreating back. After a while he shut his mouth and muttered, so quietly that even Tuima barely heard it: “Why do I get the feeling I just lost that round?”
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Postby Tuima » Fri May 23, 2008 1:36 pm

Fine, Ere, fine. But now it really IS your turn to post, got it?

Tuima’s mouth curled faintly upward. “No one ever wins in a round against Cebu,” she said. “They would feel too guilty.”
Erestor strode ahead without looking at her. “I’m fairly sure I’ve managed to reduce her to jelly on a few occasions,” he said.
“Yes,” said Tuima, “and you were always very cautious with her feelings for days afterward.” Her mouth quirked a little more at the sight of Erestor’s stiffening shoulders. “Yes, I did notice,” she said.
“Mandos,” muttered Erestor. “Why isn’t that girl ruling the world by now? If she walked into danger I think the Last Alliance would be upstaged by the armies of people rushing to her rescue.”
Tuima’s small attempt at a smile faded. “We could use an army rushing to our rescue right about now,” she murmured.
Erestor threw her a brief glance. “I have not expended this much energy in keeping you idiots alive only to have some army thunder in and take all the credit.”
Tuima paused. “Erestor…” she began.
The Councilor stiffened a little more, very subtly. Tuima interpreted this correctly and subsided, her gratitude unvoiced. But she thought it strange that if she hadn’t already known just how little Erestor cared about credit, she would have seen that last comment as further proof of the Councilor’s insufferable personality, rather than as… Well, not a joke. The day Erestor cracked a joke, Sauron would paint Barad-dur bright urple. …But an attempt to lighten the mood, perhaps.
…Valar above. Erestor was trying to cheer her up.
How tragic was that?
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Postby Eicys » Sat May 24, 2008 9:15 am

So, help. I'm kindof lost, and don't know what to post. You both are doing amazing! So I wanted to do something to kinda' help out...

Broke into Cebu's account and got the admin passwords from nen.


Happy un-Birthday.

Oh, and for the record? ERE, you wrote the BEST first kiss I have EVER read!!
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Postby Eredolyn » Fri May 30, 2008 8:45 pm

Aw, thanks Eicys! You're so sweet. Great story on immiechat, btw. I'm very intrigued.

On we go!

Come on, come on. Almost there…

As the wind from the sea grew stronger, Dilly carefully placed a grey blob on the window sill. She strained her hand through the bars and aligned it perfectly with on the very edge, and then she leaned back and admired her work with the pride of an innovator. Before her was a flawless line of little grey blobs. They were all shaped like dominos.

It was a mistake to give Dilly mushy food for her meals, because mushy food was sculptable. It only took a third of the lunch the guard had slopped on her tray before she had enough to create her own dominos set.

Now all she needed was the right wind.

Gusts blew generously through the window; the ruffles of an incoming storm. And they were getting stronger and stronger.

Come on, come on….

The wind was now howling through the bars. The blob on the very edge wobbled a little, but held its position.

Almost there…

Suddenly a blast of wind hit the room, causing Dilly’s matted hair to whip wildly into her face. But she managed to see, just in time, the domino blob tilt and crash into the one behind it. It caused a chain affect and was the most perfect domino play Dilly had ever seen.

I win! I win!

Dilly grinned fiendishly and gave a little victory dance. This was a very good day. The fresh storm was driving the stink from her cell, she was victorious in the ultimate domino challenge, the prison door had been blown open--

Dilly stopped. Then she stared. She dared the sight before her to reveal itself as just a trick of the mind. But the door remained wide open.
Willing herself to move, Dilly gingerly stepped forward and touched the doorframe. Then she gave the row of bars that acted as her cell door a push.
Her imprisonment was now swinging freely on old hinges.
Dilly stepped cautiously into the hall, as if the very floor could give way beneath her. She peered a dozen times around the corner and down the hall. Not a soul could be seen.
She paused, looked back at the room where she had memorized the chip of every brick for weeks and weeks-
And ran for it.

There was no particular plan going through her head right now. She just ran and ran. She hoped that some sensible and seamless idea would suddenly formulate in her head as she went. That always seemed to work for Tuima.

She hit a long staircase and started climbing. The air was growing fresher, the stink of the dungeons was receding, and she could see light. The need for a plan was no longer so urgent now, she just wanted to get out.

She pushed at the door to the prisons and, like the door to her own cell, it easily swung open. Light spilled from an airy and massive hallway. She was in the palace now; marble columns stretched from the floor and swan-laced arches yawned into the ceiling. The hall looked like it could hold a private army, but there wasn’t a soul in sight.

Not that it mattered to Dilly. She concerned herself wholly with running. As she ran she noticed dozens of doors lining the great hall. They were all identical, all shut and locked. The dozens turned into hundreds of doors as the deserted hallway stretched to infinity.
…But one door was open.

Sheer curiosity compelled her to stop. She could hear sounds coming from this one. Something like a clang, clang, and metal scraping.
She reached the door and slowly around it. Beyond was a great room, equally flourished as the hall. A great crowd was pressed around all sides, so the only view Dilly was offered was the backs of noblemen. But something was happening in the middle. The clanging was growing louder. And someone was laughing.

Dilly didn’t think. She pushed herself into the mass of people and made her way deeper into the room. No one seemed to notice the prison mate push and shove past them. She squirmed her way through the sea of rich lords and ladies until she nearly fell into the great empty space at the room’s center.

Two men were dueling with swords. As Dilly suspected from the laughter, one of them was Maenadan. He looked calm, fresh, and thoroughly amused as he thrust and parried the opposing sword. The other dueler was an infuriated man in prison rags. The chains of his shackles spun wildly as he lunged at Maenadan in a perfect fit of rage.
It was a sort of rage Dilly knew all too well.

“…Taras?” She said.

Taras didn’t hear her. He continued thrusting his sword at Maenadan, who easily warded off the blows. Each strike from Taras was apparently a source of great enjoyment for the Prince’s Advisor.
“Taras!” Dilly cried.

Again, Taras didn’t seem to hear. Maenadan laughed again, only kindling Taras’ wrath; his strokes became spurred more by hate and less by skill.
“Taras! Stop!”

Taras charged at Maenadan like a fiery bull. But before he could make his righteous stroke, Maenadan circled out, cut Taras’ wrist, and coolly knocked the sword away. Once this was done, he made no hesitation of plunging his own saber deep into Taras’ chest.
Dilly’s whole body froze as she stared at the sword tip glistening out of Taras’ back.


Prince Amrothos slumped over. He fell to his knees and his last breath escaped soundlessly. Maenadan looked at his beaten foe with a satisfied smirk before casting the body aside like rubbish.
He looked directly at Dilly and delivered a polished smile.
I win.”

Dilly shot up from her cot. Her face was beaded with sweat and her heart thumped violently in her ears. She spun about in the darkness uncomprehendingly. Then, like bubbles escaping from the depths of a pool, all her memories resurfaced.
There was nothing reassuring about waking from a nightmare to the darkness of a dungeon. But there was one crucial factor that made reality far better than the dream: Taras had not been killed.
Dilly reached into her shirt and pulled out the latest letter he had written; another page to the book on their upcoming escape. Taras’ letters were smuggled to her every day by the dutiful Beren. And at the end of each page was written with hard, desperate ink “I love you.”
He was still alive.
Dilly should have spotted the dream from the beginning. She didn’t have a window, to start with. Fresh wind from the sea? That’s a laugh. And dominos made out of lunch mush? Ha!
…Actually, that wasn’t such a bad idea.

There was the door, too. It was heavily bolted and made of solid metal, not a row of bars that could be opened with a breeze. That was a dead giveaway that it was all a dream and Dilly still fell for it.
She walked to the door to prove her point (even if the only person she was proving it to was herself). If wind came from a “window” in the opposite wall, it would have to be stronger than all the force she could put against the door, which was-

A grinding creak made Dilly’s senses shut down. At the slightest push from her fingers, the door groaned open.

Dilly stared. She begged, pleaded the sight before her to reveal itself as just a trick of the mind. But the door remained wide open.

How long? How long had it been like this? How long had the door been unlocked, just waiting for her touch?

She stepped out and looked around the corner. The ice that had built up in her stomach now climbed into her chest. There were no guards. Once more, the hallways looked completely abandoned.
She had to think now. She didn’t think in her dream and it had cost her. She didn’t want to repeat the actions of her nightmare, but refusing to act altogether could be a mistake too.
Reaching a decision, Dilly left her cell at a brisk yet guarded pace. She wasn’t going to escape. She and Taras had already selected the day of their escape through their letters. It had been carefully planned, and it would come soon enough. She wasn’t going to escape.
She just wanted to see Taras.

The dungeons were built as a maze, but she had been paraded past Taras’ cell everyday for so many times that she knew all the turns by heart. She was cautious when going around every corner but, as she feared, there were never any guards in sight. There weren’t even signs of any prisoners in the cells. Her stealth felt completely fruitless.
She turned the last corner and came upon Taras’ cell.
The ice in her chest now seized her throat.
The cell was empty.

The urge to run blindly that had seized Dilly’s senses in her dream was seizing her now. Her feet took off running before her brain could even decide. Her mind didn’t question where her body was going. It already knew. It was looking for stairs.
She knew better than to question the accuracy of her dreams. Back home she had all sorts of dreams that came into eerie fruition. What made Middle Earth any different?
Dilly’s mind was about to bring up a dozen points that argued that Middle Earth was indeed utterly different from home, but then she realized that her feet were already climbing a set of stairs.

As she frantically climbed the air grew fresher, and the light at the top was growing. Dilly finally reached the summit and was greeted with a very unwelcome sight: the Prison Door was wide open.
What was going on here?
Slowly, walking back into her nightmare, she entered the great hallway with its stretching columns and swan arches. There were dozens, hundreds of doors lining either side. All were dark and shut tight.

But even from here Dilly could tell one was open.

She bolted. Every muscle and membrane was spinning like a pinwheel in a hurricane. She tried to think, tried to come up with an idea of what she could possibly do next, but she was too busy absorbing this horror as it unfolded neatly before her. There was nothing more horrible that realizing what you dreamed.

She slid to a halt across the polished floor when she came to a door that stood conspicuously open. She hesitated a moment; there was nothing but the silence. She waited for it, dared it to happen…

Then she heard the clanging of swords.

She burst around the corner and met the pit of her nightmare head-on. She wasn’t going to let it happen. She’ll dive in front of Taras, she’ll drive Maenadan flat into the floor, she’ll do anything but-

Stare dumbly as two complete strangers tackled their fencing practice.

Dilly blinked. She tried to do something else, but found her body only had the ability to gawk at the fencers and the sparse training room. After a while the two fighters raised their headgear and gave her the same puzzled regard.

“…Erm,” She eventually mumbled. “Sorry, wrong room.”

With trembling hands she closed the door and backed quickly into the hall. Her heart slowed down, time returned to normality, and the fearful ice gradually receded.
It didn’t happen. Taras wasn’t there. He didn’t die. It didn’t happen…
What did her dream mean, then?
Dilly looked about at her sudden, newfound freedom. What did all this mean?

These questions suddenly became quite irrelevant as a hand leapt out of the shadows and clasped Dilly’s mouth shut.

For the second time that day she could only blink stupidly. Then she was a fraction of a second away from screaming and thrashing when someone hissed into her ear.

“No, don’t. It’s me.”

Dilly froze at the familiarity of the voice beyond her shoulder. She knew it all too well. She couldn’t decide if she was going to be relieved, shocked, or sick.

It was Taras.
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Postby Eicys » Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:49 pm

Ta da! Dramatic, angsty postage! Blood--swear--tears! Enjoy!

Eicys sat stiffly on the floor near her bed, at least a dozen feet from anything potentially deadly. For some time, she had been concentrating on steadying her breathing. Some time…how long had she been frozen here? How many hours had passed since the banquet? How many days since she had touched the butterfly? Her panic welled up once more—Eicys could feel every muscle in her body tense as she fought to breathe. Her eyes could only take in the two fists in front of her, shaking. Blood ran down her palms, courtesy of her fingernails. Her hands were shaking—all of her was shaking—clenched so tightly she couldn’t breathe. Her lungs didn’t seem to be working at all. Trying to inhale deeply only produced a few short gasps followed by a heart pounding pause and a pathetic, whimpering exhale.

Eicys was going to die. Unexpectedly. Most likely violently, with lots of blood produced. She had faced deadly situations before (and recently) but this…certain, cursed death with no hope of evasion. She was going to die.

Gasp—gasp—gasp--… … *whimper*

Would the Immies be around to see it? Were there people who were going to laugh about her death...or worse, applaud? Something unexpected…what if one of the Immies murdered her!?! That would be unexpected--

Gasp—gasp—gasp--… … *whimper*

Her muscles seized up again. She hurt everywhere. Her heart seemed unable to decide if it should beat fast or slow. Each pulse meant another shudder of wild fear, one more second of life. Eicys had never been this terrified—-petrified—perrified-she was going to die, shewasgonnadie---

Gasp—gasp—gasp--… … *whimper*

The others had to be sleeping but Eicys couldn’t close her eyes. Bloody pirate. Cursed pirate treasure. Laughable. Of the dozens, hundreds of un-cursed objects in Adremis’ possesion, why did she have to pick up the one trinket that would kill her?!?!

Gasp—gasp—gasp--… … … …. …. ….


Adremis’ possession?

“EREDOLYN!” Eicys leapt to her feet, shrieking. “EREDOLYN!” She made one step forward before falling flat on her face. Both of her legs were asleep. Trying to prop herself up on her hands, the girl discovered her arms were useless as well. Her tension had cut off the blood flow to her limbs. For the first time in hours, her lungs expanded to their full capacity.
“EREDOLYN!” She howled, face down in the beautiful carpet. “Get in here NOW!” Eicys heard someone scrambling towards her. She shook her shoulders, trying to jolt some feeling back into her arms.

“Eicys?” The girl on the floor could not look up, but she knew it wasn’t Eredolyn who had come over.

“Wlore, where’s Eredolyn?!”

“Brenz, get in here!” Wlore hollered. “I think she’s snapping out of it!” She heaved Eicys into a sitting position, and stared. “I take it back. She’s just snapping.”

“Wlore, where’s Eredolyn?” Eicys gasped.

"Eicys, I can't understand what you are saying. Slow down. Speak up."


“I don’t know. I've just woken up.”

“She went to the kitchen some time ago.” Brenz suddenly towered over the two of them. “She passed me in the hall.” He must have been there all night. Eicys suddenly thought. Suddenly, she remembered her epiphany.

“Is Adremis still alive?”

“What? What sort of question is that!”

Is Adremis alive?

“Yes, Eicys, Adremis is fine! Would you please explain what--?” Eicys didn’t answer, instead trying (rather unsuccessfully) to stand.

“Eicys, talk to us!” Wlore grabbed Eicys’ arm, shaking her. Violently shrugging Wlore’s hand off, Eicys again tried to get off the floor. This time, she made it to her feet, swaying dangerously. Her eyes darted around the larger room the girls shared. She caught a glance of herself in the mirror—Her eyes were blood shot, and her face shone with tears. Odd. She didn’t remember crying.

“EICYS!” Eicys stared at Wlore's face in the mirror. "Look, we're friend's, right? Can't you--"

“STOP TALKING TO ME!” Eicys' expression reached a new level of terrifying—Wlore stepped back. “I…just let me figure this out.” Eicys began staggering around the room—a pitiful attempt at pacing.

“Why isn't he dead? Adremis had to have touched it he had to! I mean it was pinning down a corner of the map in his cabin but maybe it was taken by a crewman of the Twin Sister’s Bloody but it would have fallen to the floor during the battle he’s touched it he has why is he still alive how come he isn’t dead yet Hah-if you call what he does living,scaredoutofhiswitseverymomentafraidofmutiny. Hemustwakeupeverymorningshockedtobealive…CRAP!”

Wlore and Berenz could only stare. Eicys had spewed the entire paragraph in one breath. She paused, spinning around to face the other two.

“That’s it! This curse can’t kill Adremis! Unexpected death…he’s always expecting to die! Just like I was…am! Crap! Crap! Does that mean he feels like this all the time? How? Who could...I can’t do that. I can’t!” Eicys looked from the confused Wlore, to the bewildered Brenz, and then back to the mirror. Trying to wipe away the tears, she ended up smearing blood from her hands onto her face. She looked dead. “I can’t…” She whimpered. "Dann.” A new tear streaked through the blood smear.

Eicys gave a strangled screech of fear as someone knocked on the door. In the stunned silence that followed, Brenz hurried to answer. Wlore hurried over to Eicys, grabbing a random silk scarf from the floor, and handing it to her friend. Wlore’s mouth opened and shut, but she couldn’t find anything to say. Eicys also remained silent, only because she had too much to think about. She scrubbed the cloth across her face.

“The King has sent us with a beautiful gift, an apology for the audacity against the bird with golden hair!" Both girls spun towards the door. Five men in strange robes had crowded into the room, pushing a bewildered Brenz aside. The man in the front knelt, offering up a thick black chest.

“Apology?” Wlore gaped. “What…he’s the king!”

“He was so swayed by her beauty that his hospitality deserted him, making our noble king act as any man would! Please, honored guest would you accept this gift?”

Slowly, Eicys stepped towards them. Each time her foot hit the ground, she felt the needle points of her limbs waking up. It was a focus that kept her moving forward. Eicys noted the man’s hands shook. He was sweating. So was she. She knew what was in the box.

That didn’t stop her screaming when she opened it.

Edit: As an afterthougt, I thought I should point out Dilly is halfway through with her mission, and next month Cebu will only have a year left. Hoorah!
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Postby Tuima » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:15 pm

Bwa-ha-ha! Eicys, you just get more and more brilliant with every post. That was GREAT. Nail-biting, funny angst. Seriously impressive.

My turn! See, Ere? Now you can post, just like I know you're dying to do.
That's a hint: I really, really want to see what happens next -- with you and with Dilly.
Yeah, okay, subtlety isn't my strong point. Deal. :wink:

The Immies stumbled along the corridor in a fog of exhaustion. Their breath sounded in raspy, uneven gulps. Tuima clutched her arm against her chest, ignoring the spreading scarlet stains, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. It was difficult: most of her concentration kept slipping away, trying to block out memories of that vent and the fact that countless tons of rock were still looming over her head -- and showed no signs of going away.
A suspicion she had held from the very day she'd gone back into Moria after her friends was slowly gaining ground, developing into an ugly certainty in the back of her mind.
They were going to die down here.

“Is there any water left in your pack?” asked Erestor in an undertone.
Tuima glanced up in alarm. “Have you run out?”
“Would I be asking you for a drink, otherwise?”
For once, Tuima ignored an opportunity to leap into the verbal fray. Slowly, wordlessly, she pulled out a canteen and handed it over. Erestor accepted it with a slightly baffled nod, careful not to brush Tuima’s skin with his own.
“…Oh,” he said, weighing the waterskin in one elegant, long-fingered hand. Tuima noticed black orc-blood caked under his fingernails, and griming the fine lines of his palm, and remembered he had been fighting harder and longer than any of them.
“I think there’s a sip or two left,” she said unhappily. “If you wring it out.”
Erestor’s fingers twitched, and a knife appeared between them. He slit the leather waterskin into pieces with a few deft flicks, and the knife vanished as quickly as it had come. Then the Lord Councilor put a damp and gritty square of leather into his mouth and bit down.
“I’m sorry,” said Tuima, which very nearly caused Erestor to choke on the leather square. “I would have saved some more, but I thought… you were dead.”
“I hate to keep disappointing you like this, but I really have no intention of dying for you, Tuima Orophiniel.”
Tuima toyed with the carved wooden cap of the waterskin, turning it thoughtfully between her fingers. “How did you survive?” she asked, apparently of the cap.
“In the same way Kad and Cebu managed to,” said Erestor. “Taking advantage of infighting. I think the Balrog's death threw off the orcs' heirarchy; this whole mine is a warzone right now. That second group, the archers who showed up in the middle of the fighting – they were from a different clan.” Erestor’s maimed eye glowed a dull scarlet in the torchlight, matching the brighter glint of the ruby ring he always wore. “Judging from the immediate barrage of arrows they leveled at one another, the two clans didn’t get along very well. That made things considerably easier.”
They walked in silence for a while, both taking care not to stumble into the other. Erestor's normally ramrod-straight spine was slumped forward, and he tucked his hands into his surcoat and walked with his jaw clenched and his eyes distant.
“Do Kad and Cebu know?” he asked after a while. “About the water.”
Tuima twisted her hacked-off chunk of hair between two fingers. “I think Kad suspects.”
“And Cebu?”
Tuima shook her head.
“Well,” said Erestor. “That’s something, then.”
Tuima smiled, very faintly.

They didn’t make it very far. Fighting for one’s life is just about the most grueling activity in existence, and when it’s followed up by a crawl through a space that would make metamorphosizing caterpillars feel claustrophobic, the body is not going to be content with half an hour of rest.
When Cebu tripped on a pebble and fetched up on her hands and knees, sobbing for breath, Erestor decided enough was enough, and called a halt.
He wanted to extinguish the torch, but Kad and Cebu overruled him – vociferously. At length a compromise was reached, and Erestor tore his cloak – originally Tuima’s, and by now so ragged and bloodstained that it was barely recognizable – into strips, and burned them in order to save the torch for traveling. The black stains on the material smoked and stank, driving Erestor and Tuima several yards down the corridor in order to avoid it. And there they sat.
In silence.
As silences go, this was a strange one. It was dense and weighty as the mountain overhead -- but against all the odds, it was not uncomfortable. It was a silence born of exhaustion, suffering, and an enforced companionship that had turned out not to be all that bad after all. …All things considered, anyway. Of course the other party was still absolutely maddening, argumentative, arrogant, and ugly. But all that was, you know, bearable.
The silence wrapped around Erestor and Tuima like a thick, heavy comforter, settling in deeper as the minutes ticked past without their looking at one another.
A slight sound drew their concentration away from the careful not-looking, and both of them glanced involuntarily toward one another, pretended they hadn’t, and turned hastily toward the source of the noise.
Kad and Cebu had managed, against all anatomical probability, to each fall asleep on the other’s shoulder. Now they were sinking slowly toward the cave floor, curled up around one another in what they would have described as a yinyang symbol.
Erestor broke the silence with a wry observation. “They do like touching one another, don’t they?”
“It appears to be a comfort mechanism,” said Tuima. “You should have seen them right after that vent; I could barely pry them apart long enough to treat Kad.”
“He’s injured?”
“A nasty little hip wound,” said Tuima. “And his face and arms are all chewed up from the vent. He’s broader across the shoulders than Cebu or I, and he was on point.” Tuima shook her head. “He looks like he went diving in a gravel bed.”
“And Cebu?” asked Erestor.
Tuima shrugged tersely. “Scrapes and bruises. That mithril shirt is a miracle.”
“We’re owed a miracle or two, after this week,” said Erestor.
“Let’s hope for the ‘or two’,” said Tuima grimly.
Erestor didn’t argue. After a minute, he said, “You’re injured, too.”
Tuima stretched out her arm. “A flesh wound. I haven’t gotten around to stitching it up yet.” She shivered, so slightly that Erestor never would have noticed had they not been sitting so close together.
…How had they gotten so close together, anyway?
“You planned on stitching your own arm back together?” he asked.
“Well, Kad is fine with a broadsword, but I don’t exactly trust his needlework. And Cebu…”
“No,” Erestor finished.
“No,” Tuima agreed.
It took Erestor a while and certain amount of queasy swallowing to say, “I suppose that leaves me.”
“You,” said Tuima with the ghost of a smile, “cannot even thread a needle right now. And the sight of blood makes you nauseous. I don’t want to take the risk of you being sick in the middle of the operation.”
Erestor scowled at her, but Tuima just continued: “I’ve cauterized it, anyway. It should be fine until… we get out of here.”
If Erestor noticed the uncertainty in the last five words, he did not comment on it. He didn’t really need to: they both knew the loss of the Bridge had reduced their chances of escape to almost nothing. What Tuima really meant was that a small, untreated wound didn’t matter much when you were unlikely to survive long enough for it to grow infected.
“Cauterized it with what?” Erestor asked instead. “Not the torch?”
“An orcish torch? You must be insane. No, I used capsicum.”
“That’s a pepper,” Erestor objected. “For seasoning foods in the South.”
“It’s also good for sealing small wounds,” said Tuima. “I used almost half my supply, and it’s stopped the worst of the bleeding.”
Erestor twisted to pin her with a stare. “You are certain you will be all right, then?”
Tuima didn’t look up. It would have brought their faces unconscionably close together.
“I’ll be fine,” she said.
Erestor didn’t move. Erestor had always been difficult to lie to.
“I’ll be fine, Erestor.” Tuima glanced up and discovered she had been right: the movement brought their faces into alarming proximity. Erestor’s breath stirred her hair; his mismatched gaze burned into hers. Tuima met it with the customary defiant tilt of her chin, even though her breathing had gone all wobbly for some reason.
They stared at each other for just long enough to see the challenge in one another’s eyes start to melt into something… else…
Tuima stopped breathing altogether. Erestor leaned forward, very slightly.
Time stretched…
And snapped. The moment passed.
No one said anything, and slowly, slowly, the familiar silence crept back around them. Both Elves relaxed gratefully into its depths, drawing away from one another. Erestor tipped his head back against the wall and stretched his long legs out in front of him, careful not to brush Tuima by accident. Tuima hugged her knees against her chest, and went back to not looking at Erestor. They did not touch, though they sat close enough that touch seemed almost superfluous.
The stillness grew thicker, filling up with everything the two of them were failing to say.
For most people, this would be a bad thing. But for Tuima and Erestor, words had only ever been there to hide what they were feeling.

And so they sat, and enjoyed the silence.
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Postby Tuima » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:49 pm

It ATE my post! Argh, argh, argh!
Humbug. Well, here's a rewrite.

“You should probably go to sleep,” said Erestor at last, when the final shreds of cloak had burned down to almost nothing.
“I can’t,” said Tuima, her voice a low, murmuring hum in the darkness. “I’m too tired for sleep.”
After a while, she blinked up at him. “Why aren’t you going to sleep?”
“Someone has to stand watch,” he said.
“Erestor, you’ve been fighting for hours. You can’t lose half a night’s sleep on top of that.”
“Only half?”
“Well, presumably you were going to wake me up for the second watch,” Tuima said with biting sarcasm.
“You are in no condition to…” Erestor trailed off. “Ha,” he said. “Well done. I can’t win this one, can I?”
Erestor made a noise that was disconcertingly close to a chuckle, but ought probably to be classified as a snort, for safety’s sake. “Don’t you ever stop fighting?” he asked.
Tuima’s eyes caught the last flicker of firelight and reflected it fiercely. “Never,” she said.
Erestor settled back against the wall, closing his eyes against the pain and weariness.
“Good,” he said.

The next morning, Cebu opened her eyes, saw nothing but blackness, choked on a primal, visceral panic, and thrashed her way fully awake with both eyes screwed tight shut against the dark. “Kad!”
She heard him choke as well as the darknes struck him. “Where’s the light?” he asked wildly. “Cebu, where are you? Where’s the torch?”
The two of them groped madly until they found Erestor’s flint and the stock of torches lashed to Tuima’s pack. Kad muttered frantically to himself in Welsh, a long string of garbled, panicked syllables. “Hurry,” moaned Cebu. “Kad, hurry!”
“There!” A flicker of sparks. Another. A third. “Come on,” hissed Kad.
The torch caught. Sullen, smokey light washed over their pale faces.
Kad slumped. Cebu wiped her eyes with shaking hands.
They looked at each other.
“…Awkward,” Kad declared at last.
The two of them scooted closer together, the torch held firmly between them. “Scared of the dark,” said Kad. “My little sisters will never let me hear the end of this.”
“I’m going to have to dig out my old nightlight and everything,” said Cebu with a wobbly smile.
They sat there a while, forcing the panic back into its lair in the pits of their stomachs.
Suddenly Kad sat up straight. “Blwdi diawl,” he said. “Look at the Elves!”
Cebu turned to look. Her eyes popped. Erestor and Tuima were sitting against the stone wall, both of them fast asleep.
Very fast asleep.
Not only were their eyes closed – which, Cebu knew, Elves only did when utterly exhausted – they were both in a position that neither would ever, ever adopt when conscious.
Tuima had snuggled down against Erestor’s shoulder. Erestor’s cheek rested against the top of her head.
They both looked awfully comfortable.
Kad looked like he might explode from not laughing. “What I wouldn’t give for a camera right now!” he lamented. Cebu stuffed a fist against her mouth, stifling giggles. Kad formed a square with his fingers, and made clicking noises as he took picture after picture. “Talk about your blackmail potential,” he said.
“Should we wake them up, do you think?”
“And disturb this precious moment?” Kad asked incredulously.
“I’m enjoying it just as much as you are,” said Cebu, “but we really ought to get going.”
“What’s the rush?” asked Kad. “I’m still hurting all over. I say we get as much rest as we can before heading off into the unknown again.”
“Yeah…” said Cebu unhappily. “But Kad – we’ve only got two torches left.”
There was a nasty little silence as they thought about the implications of that one.
Then Kad shot to his feet. “Oy, hey! You two! Up and at ‘em! Wakey, wakey! Time to get going! Hup, hup, hup!”
“…really am going to kill him,” groaned Erestor, his eyes flickering open.
Despite the encroaching panic, Kad took time to savor the moment of dawning realization in the Councilor’s eyes.
And then the echoing realization as Tuima woke up, lifted her head, and found herself nose-to-nose with Erestor.
And then the moment of undignified horror as both of them hurled themselves away from each other as hard as they could.
“I want a camera!” Kad moaned to himself, while the two Elves brushed themselves off and attempted to look composed and dignified. Considering Tuima was rubbing her neck and wincing, and Erestor had red marks from Tuima’s braids imprinted on his unscarred cheek, they weren’t having a lot of success.
Predictably, Cebu came to their rescue. “Come have breakfast, Kad.”
Kad made subtle shushing motions, and went back to grinning at the Elves.
“Oh, come on, Cebu…”
“Breakfast, Kad. Right now.”
Kad grumbled his way over to her and helped himself to a few of their meagre supplies.
Behind him, Erestor and Tuima finished smoothing their rumpled clothing and their very rumpled composure. They looked at each other.
“Well,” said Tuima awkwardly. “Er. Good morning.”
“Two fallacies already,” Erestor observed without thinking. “That is a new record, even for you.”
Tuima felt a rush of relief. “Two ungrounded accusations already,” she shot back. “And I am sure that is nowhere near your record.”
Erestor’s good eye gleamed, and he squared his shoulders in anticipation. “My accusations were completely grounded,” he said. “It is neither good, nor morning.”
“We are waking up. That makes it morning.”
“It’s pitch black!”
Tuima forged on without acknowledging the comment: “And the phrase ‘good morning’ is not an observation; it is a greeting or a hope for the future. Besides this, you claim two fallacies first thing in the morning is a record, a statement for which you have no evidence, not having known me for a sufficient period of time.”
Erestor stepped closer: tall, dark, and intimidating. “I have known you for a period of time that has long since transcended ‘sufficient’ and reached the realms of ‘torturous’,” he told her.
“The pain works both ways,” Tuima said, tipping up her chin to glare at him. “And I would like to note that it is utterly typical of you to drag someone down with you into your suffering.”
Erestor leaned in. “Since my suffering stems from your presence,” he said, “I can hardly drag you down into said suffering, now can I? Unless you annoy yourself as much as you do me, in which case my respect for your patience has just reached phenomenal heights.”
“Good. I clearly deserve it; there is certainly no other way I could have borne your – ”
She was interrupted by a shout. “Stop it!”
Tuima and Erestor paused. They both turned, with agonizing slowness, to face Cebu.
“I beg your pardon?” asked Erestor, wielding each word like a knife.
“I can’t take it anymore!” cried Cebu. “You can be nice to each other when you’re asleep – can’t you try it while you’re awake, too?”
Erestor looked at Tuima. Tuima looked at Erestor. The events – and non-events – of the previous night presented themselves for consideration…
“No,” they said simultaneously.
“Well, try anyway!” Cebu shouted at them. “All you do is fight! It’s making the rest of us miserable!” The two Elves stared at her in astonishment. Cebu glared back at them. “Look,” she said, “All I want is one day of civil conversation. That’s not too much to ask, is it?”
“What do you expect us to talk about?” Tuima asked a bit desperately. “The weather?”
“The weather would be a perfectly acceptable topic,” Cebu said icily.
Tuima spread her arms and stared around the dark stone passage. “But there is no weather down here!”
“Talk about that, then!”
Erestor and Tuima turned to each other, both of them looking a little shell-shocked. Having Cebu mad at you was a very strange experience. It was like being savaged by a butterfly.
Tuima coughed. Erestor fiddled with his coat.
Cebu folded her arms.
“So,” said Erestor hastily. “Er… very dark, isn’t it.”
“Oh,” said Tuima. “Er, yes. It is, very.” The two of them shifted uncomfortably and shot glances at Cebu, whose mouth set in a tight, demanding frown.
“Your turn,” said Kad to Erestor. He was watching the whole thing with obvious fascination.
“Er,” said Erestor. He threw Tuima a pleading look. She racked her brains, seized triumphantly on an idea, and turned to Kad. “Don’t you think it’s dark?”
Kad stared, caught between a mad desire to laugh and the certain knowledge that even Cebu wouldn’t be able to save him if he did. “Very dark,” he said blandly. “Dry, too. Perhaps we are due for some rain.”
Erestor made a noise of frustration. “Has it escaped you mortals that we are in a mine? Weather is not a viable conversation topic underground!!”
“Then pick something else,” said Cebu.
Erestor stopped with his mouth still open. “…Something else?”
“Oh, brilliant, Erestor,” Tuima said bitterly. “Thanks so much.”
Cebu’s hands went to her hips. “Tuima!”
The elleth covered her face. It was going to be a long, long day.
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Postby Eicys » Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:24 pm

Wlore had no idea what was going on, and deeply resented it. Yes, much of the time she spent with the immies had been utterly confusing, but she had never before found herself is such a state of absolute bewilderment. Glancing over at Brenze she was pleased to note his blank expression. She wasn’t alone.
After Eicys had shrieked, she had slammed shut the lid of the chest and shoved it back at the kneeling man. He had done a full back summersault and scattered the men standing behind him. Of course, his grip on the chest had been lost, and it’s contents spilled onto the floor.
At the moment, all the men were pressing themselves tightly to the walls. Eicys had scrambled atop the small table in front of the mirror, and there remained, precariously perched, joining in the frightful stares of the Haradrim men.
They were glaring at a hand-sized, pink jeweled butterfly.
Some of the men were crying with terror.
Wlore despised being confused.

I hate to put up such a short post, but I'm being chased to bed. However, I won't have the internet again until 6:00 tomorrow evening! Sad story= Our computer room window got left open, our newly installed sprinkler sprayed the modem box thingy, ergo my internet no longer works. I had to steal my dad's laptop (our wireless is fiiine) so I can type the rest during the day and post it at night. Be happy--it will be quite long!

Oh, and Cebu has been asking me to send her the newest Muse Quest posts--If you could add in a note to her at the end of your next posts, she would die from delight! Good night, everybody!
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Postby Tuima » Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:07 am

Cebu, I humbly dedicate this post to you and the powers of Niceness.

Three hours later, Kad sidled up to Cebu and whispered something in her ear.
“What?” she said. “Why?
“Because I think they’re going to spontaneously combust if you don’t.”
“Being nice never made anyone explode!” Cebu objected.
“Until now,” said Kad.
Cebu folded her arms. “No,” she said. “It’s good for them.”
“But see, Rhudd, that’s just it. I don’t think it is. Look at them.”
Cebu peered through the gloom ahead. Tuima looked about half the size she usually did; she had her arms wrapped around herself like a straightjacket and her shoulders hunched up around her ears.
“And you should see Erestor’s face,” said Kad. “I’ve never seen him so jumpy. They both hate it down here, Rhudd. Really hate it.”
“How does shouting at each other make it better?”
“I don’t know,” said Kad. “But every time they start arguing, they get all flushed and excited and smug.”
Up ahead and unnoticed by the humans, Erestor took a rapid step to one side and held a hand in front of Tuima’s lips, as close as possible without actually touching her. “Don’t,” hissed Erestor.
“But we don’t!” Tuima whispered ferociously, her breath hot against his palm.
“For Mandos’ sake, don’t contradict them! Now go back to looking miserable before they notice anything!”
“This is ridiculous,” muttered Tuima.
“Just be grateful they never seem to catch on to the fact that our hearing is so much better than theirs,” said Erestor, taking his hand away again.
“They like fighting?” Cebu asked despairingly from behind them.
“I think they just like the challenge,” said Kad. “I mean, think about it. No one’s stood up to Tuima in about a century – that’s got to get annoying, right?”
“I don’t see how,” Cebu said mutinously, at the same time that Erestor muttered, “Oh, poor Tuima. A century. I haven’t had a decent verbal challenge in three millennia.” A pause. “Don’t look at me like that, you ridiculous elleth – that in no way implied that you constitute a challenge.”
“So you take back your accusations that I am insufferable, impertinent, and endlessly frustrating?”
“That makes you an annoyance, not a challenge.”
“You’re fighting again!” Cebu cried. The two Elves glanced back guiltily, held her gaze for a while, and then drooped.
Cebu hesitated. A spark caught in Tuima’s eye. “Good!” she hissed out of the corner of her mouth. “Keep up the misery!”
Erestor nodded sharply, then heaved a sigh, glanced uneasily at the roof, and turned away, his coat pulled tight around his shoulders. Tuima looked pleadingly at her friend. Cebu winced.
Tuima stared unhappily at the floor.
“Oh, all right!” cried Cebu.
Tuima nearly hit the ceiling. “Thank you!” She whirled on Erestor.
He turned, looking almost gleeful. Two caustic, witty diatribes met in midair and rolled over and over in the verbal equivalent of a tavern brawl.
“They do like fighting,” said Cebu.
Kad stared at the two Elves, who were practically nose-to-nose at this point, for the second time that day. “I think,” he said slowly, “that fighting isn’t the only thing they like.”

It took Cebu a minute. But when the realization arrived, it was like being hit by a train. “Oh… no,” she said. “That can’t… they’re not… I mean, it just doesn’t work!”
“Trust Tuima,” said Kad, “to wind up in the most unbelievably dysfunctional relationship possible.”
“Are we allowed to count shouting at each other as a relationship?” asked Cebu, watching Tuima’s emphatic gestures and gleaming eyes.
“We are when we’re talking about Tuima and Erestor. I mean, I’m pretty sure Tuima likes us, but she never actually says anything nice.”
“That’s true,” Cebu conceded.
“And if Erestor hated us half as much as he claims to, he’d definitely have killed us by now.”
Cebu touched the bruise on her chest. “Not to say he hasn’t tried.”
“Point,” said Kad, nodding. “But look at him now.”
Cebu tipped her head and assessed the Councilor, who was currently mid-insult and sneering horribly.
“Um…” she said. “Not seeing it.”
“Okay. Think of it this way. Remember how he reacted when you hugged him?”
“And whenever somebody walks next to him he edges away...”
Understanding dawned. “So why does he always stand so close to Tuima?”
Kad surveyed the hairline space that was all that prevented the two Elves from full bodily contact, and grinned wickedly.
Cebu giggled, and it sounded just as wicked. “What would happen if we shoved one of them?”
That mischievous little smirk did very interesting things to her lips. Kad tried to focus on the question. “We’d be disemboweled on the spot,” he said. “Verbally, at least. Maybe physically, too.”
They looked at each other.
“Oh no,” said Cebu. “Forget I said anything. Kad! Kad, you’ll be killed! Kad!”
So worth it,” said the Welshman, quirking a grin at her as he wandered innocently toward the Elves.
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Postby Tuima » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:57 pm

So, in the complete and utter lack of postage, and in the face of all the homework I am supposed to be doing right now, I present... yet another Moria post!
*Rolls up sleeves*
And now, Eicys and Eredolyn...
*Brandishes oversized gnome*

POST!! :cavetroll: I mean it!

For once, Kad was almost grateful for the darkness. Between that, the Elves’ preoccupation, and Erestor’s blind right eye, it wasn’t as difficult to sneak up on them as it should have been.
Not that it wasn’t still difficult. The threat of disembowelment, even if it’s only the verbal kind, does a lot to discourage a person. But Cebu was watching.
Kad edged carefully behind Tuima. He took a deep breath and held it. Then, with an expression of wide-eyed innocence plastered all over his face, he kicked her in the back of the knees.
Tuima never had a chance. She succeeded only in jerking herself slightly sideways, so that she hit Erestor’s chest with her shoulder instead of plunging into him face-first. Erestor himself wrenched his entire torso sideways, angling backwards to avoid her.
Kad caught a glimpse of the Councilor’s face, stricken with shock, and congratulated himself on a prank well pulled.
A little prematurely, as it turned out.
Erestor turned the prank on its head – and upended the foundations of reality in the meantime – by wrapping Tuima tightly in both arms and pulling her face against his shoulder.
The universe froze, stunned by such a blatant disregard for… for… everything. Kad had just enough time to notice Tuima’s bizarre expression before Erestor’s shout shattered the newly frozen universe into a million tiny shards.
The two Elves hit the floor together, their faces shielded in one another’s shoulders. Kad followed half a second later, when the first arrow stirred his hair in passing. The rest of the volley zipped harmlessly overhead, heading for the torchlight…
“Cebu!” Kad howled. “Drop the torch!”
Their only light source guttered and hissed as Cebu flung it to one side.
“Erestor!” came Tuima’s muffled yell. “Let me up!”
From Erestor came an equally muffled swearing. “Get off!”
The two of them managed to extricate themselves from one another and stagger upright. Erestor was already reaching for his throwing knives, but Tuima grabbed his arm. He tensed under her fingers. She spared a moment to hope desperately that she wasn’t as red as he was.
“We can’t fight archers!” she screamed at him, over the orcish orders to reload. “Come on, run!”
So the Immies ran. Leaving the torch flickering behind them, they sprinted into the thick, choking darkness of the tunnels ahead. Within seconds, they were hopelessly lost.
“Gosh,” said Kad, raising his voice to be heard over the pursuing orcs and the thrumming pulse of his panic. “This seems familiar.”
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Postby Eredolyn » Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:55 am

Look, look Tuima!
I'm free of the troll ban, yes? (Can't say the same for Eicys, poor dear). So anyways, here's the continuation of something I wrote a month ago. :roll:


“Dilly, be quiet.”


“I won’t release my hand until you pipe down.”


“I told you it’s just me. Why won’t you calm down?”

Dilly forcibly wrenched Taras’ hand from her mouth. “I know it’s you,” She hissed. It seemed even whispers vibrated off the walls with resounding force. “What are you doing here?”
“Actually, I should be asking the same about you,” He said with puzzlement. He looked as though his road had taken a seriously bizarre turn. “But I’ll go first: I’m escaping, Dilly.”
“…Escaping.” The word came out flat as a tombstone. “Do you mean to tell me-”

Dilly couldn’t finish her sentence because Taras suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled her into the shadows of the corridor. It wasn’t long before a handful of stately-looking men passed by. They were abuzz about something, but Dilly was quite relieved to know it had nothing to do with them.

“Taras, we had a plan. Remember the plan?” Dilly whispered earnestly when the hallway was clear. “All the notes? All the routes? All the study of guard shifts? We still have another week before Beren gets you out-”
“He got me out a little early.”
Why? Darn it Taras can’t you see how dangerous-”
“It’s Lothiriel,” Taras cut her off. “Her condition is worsening.”
Dilly blinked. “Lothiriel is sick?”
“Not sick,” He shook his head grimly. “Dying.”
Dilly felt she was floundering in a sea of utter confusion. “…Since when?
“About a week or so,” He answered. “Maenadan told me she was dead, but I got Beren to look into the truth of the matter. She has indeed been starving herself, as Maenadan said, but she’s still alive and-”
“And you actually believe that.”
“Come on Taras, really. Lothiriel starving herself?”
“It’s true. Beren told me.”
“What if he’s wrong?”
“And what if he’s right? Should we just wait and see?” Taras snapped back. “I can’t wait any longer, not with her life at stake. I have to get her out of here, we all have to get out of here, before it’s too late.”

She understood his rash actions, she really did, but that last statement made her irritation spike to a new level. “All right, you want to save your sister. I understand. But what was I supposed to be doing during all this?”
“Ah…” Here Taras reached to loosen his collar which was in fact nonexistent. “You were…to get out a different way. …With Beren.”
Dilly had transcended through shock, worry, confusion, and anger. Now she could only stare at Taras dumbstruck.
“I don’t believe it…”
“Now Dilly-”
“You did it again.
“You really shouldn’t-”
“You tried leaving me behind to gallivant into danger again!
“I think perhaps that-”
“I’m not a little princess who swoons at the first sight of blood! I’ve broken about five major bones since I got here, you may recall!”
“Perhaps you’re not a princess, but I’m a prince, Dilly. I can’t be ordered to take the woman I love into peril. It goes against every grain of my nature! It’s like telling you to stop…to stop injuring yourself or something!”

Taras realized, all too late, that he had said that last part a mite too loud. Dilly quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and pushed him deeper into the shadows as the previous statesmen wandered back and peered along the corridor curiously. The two prisoners waited with bated breath until the men finally turned away and resumed their walk. The statesmen’s suspicion, however, wasn’t alleviated in the slightest. They hustled back the way they came in very worried whispers.

When they left, Taras and Dilly both exchanged a heated look.
“Fine,” He whispered. “Come with me. But we must hurry.”
“What about Beren?”
“He’s not with you?”
“No, I haven’t seen him. My cell door was just-”
“Then something must have happened. We’ll have to be even swifter. If you can run we must reach Lothiriel’s quarters by the changing of the guard.”
“Of course I can run,” She quipped. She tried to ignore the fact that, only days ago, her ankle would not have permitted such a feat.
Taras peered around the corner and held up a hand. He waited, then without so much as a nod he began bolting down the corridor and Dilly scrambled to keep up.

As Dilly ran, she couldn’t help noticing the halls were completely empty. Aside from those statesmen, she hadn’t see a soul. There must be some sort of public event going on which has drawn away the usual courtly throngs. Whatever it was, it was providing the perfect chance for their escape.
It was crazy that she and Taras were suddenly free. It was crazy that Dilly was finally in daylight and fresh air only to be rushing it by. It was crazy that two prisoners were racing through the heart of a palace to nab a princess surrounded by royal guards.
But the craziest part of it all was that it actually might work.

Yes, I know it's not finished. It will be soon, only one more post to go. Must have time, precious!
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Postby Eredolyn » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:47 pm

“You know, this might actually work.”
“You say that now, when we’re six feet away from Lothiriel’s rooms?”

Dilly peered around the column once more to survey the situation. The hall was empty, just like all the halls before, except for three burly guards standing at attention before Lothiriel’s doorway.
Dilly frowned. “There’s only three of them.”
Only three?” Taras hissed. “This is the way it’s always been. There are always three guards at Lothiriel’s door.”
“Yeah, that’s my point. There are two escapees from prison on the loose; surely someone’s noticed by now. Wouldn’t they double up the guard to Lothiriel, or something?”
“Let’s just stop speculating about such things and be grateful they didn’t,” was Taras’ final word on the matter.
Geez, is there anyone except me who thinks something is wrong here? she wondered. Instead she said “Okay fine. There’s still the matter of three guards against us. And we have no weapons-”
A whistle from down the corridor made the guards look up. They groaned with relief beneath the weight of their armor and trudged down the hall, away from their post.

Dilly blinked. “…What just happened?”
“Change of the guards,” Taras smiled smugly. “Beren arranged a two minute window for us. Now hurry.”
Before Dilly could speak, Taras leapt up and bound across the corridor. He stood flat against the door, looked this way and that, and then motioned for Dilly to come.
She wasn’t as fast or as stealthy in her crossing, but she reached Taras’ side just as he opened the door and slipped in.
“Wait Taras-”
As she stumbled into Lothiriel’s quarters herself, a fearful image from Star Wars flashed in her mind. She could just see Darth Vader at the end of a white banquet table, surrounded by storm troopers waiting to spring their trap. This of course was not Star Wars, but it was a world of fiction nonetheless, and Dilly was still not completely settled with it.

When she looked about she did not see anything even slightly resembling her dread. It was a well kept drawing room. And it was empty.
Taras and Dilly exchanged looks before separating to inspect the other rooms. The search didn’t take long before they realized that Lothiriel was nowhere to be found.
The dread Dilly had been feeling was beginning to-
Dilly yelped and jumped into Taras’ arms, which she concluded later was not a very dignified way to handle stress. There was another boom, this time with the sound of cheering. Taras put Dilly gently down and inspected the scene from the window.
“What-?” She started.
“Parade,” was the answer.
“Oh. Guess that explains the empty corridors, then.”
Realization dawned on Taras. “Yes. And the empty room.”
“Lothiriel would have to be down there, officiating the parade! Come on!”

“Wait!” Dilly managed to grab his sleeve before he could make for the drawing room. “Could we for once think about things before rushing in?”
“Think? There’s no more time to think!” Taras cried as he dragged Dilly towards the exit. “We have less than a minute before the guards arrive, so come on! We have to get my sister out of here before that monster gets to her-”

Blocking their way was a squadron of fifteen knights, donning white armor and glistening spears. Dilly and Taras stood in horror as all the knights pointed said spears in their direction. The only thing preventing these giant metal beasts from skewing the two immies was an official with a lazy, raised hand.
It was Maenadan. He stood in front of the squadron donning an intense blue cloak with an impressively polished swan brooch.
“Good morning,” He said pleasantly. “Now, exactly what monster were you referring to?”
Last edited by Eredolyn on Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Eredolyn » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:49 pm

This was worse than Darth Vader.
Or storm troopers.

Maenadan smiled at the two fugitives as he took off his white gloves.
“Sirs, here are your villains,” He said with a loud voice. “It is just as I predicted. If you hadn’t hearkened to me and my insurgent the Lady’s life would not have been spared.”
Dilly didn’t know what he was talking about nor did she care, because at that moment there appeared in the throng of helmets a familiar and welcome face.
Dilly had the urge to rush to Beren and beg for help, but she refrained. He was their last bargaining chip. He must stand by quietly now, but once they were back in the dungeons he could-
“I believe you deserve the majority of thanks for this arrest, Commander Beren,” Maenadan suddenly said. “You are truly the finest man an employer could ask for. You may arrest the scoundrels now.”

Dilly didn’t hear that right. She was quite sure she didn’t hear. But Beren approached her with a face that made her half-believe that what she heard was true.
He avoided her eyes, but she could see the guilt scrawled across his face.
He then he produced a pair of shackles.
Dilly could only stare.
“I’m sorry, Dilly,” He murmured as he put the shackles on. “He got to me about a month ago.”
“He made me an offer,” He plowed on. “I have a wife and child and I can scarcely support them, you know that. But he offered me enough money to-”
“Now we won’t be thrown on the streets. It was the only way I could…. I’m sorry, Dilly. Taras. But…you’d do the same if you were as desperate as me.”
He shackled Taras also. Then, still unable to meet their gaze, he turned his back on them. He turned his back on them for good.
Beren!” Dilly screamed at the man, but the pleading call was as empty her faith. And as empty as his trust.

“Fugitives of the Law,” Maenadan now addressed them. “You are charged with the abuse of your prison term, with the abuse of officers and fellow inmates-”
Dilly cast a sideways glance at Taras. He didn’t look beaten at the sight of Maenadan. Instead he looked incredibly tense. Dilly could see his joints gather together at the prospect of settling some scores with his old foe.
And she quickly remembered her dream.
“Taras don’t,” Dilly hissed. “Please please don’t.
Taras took one step-
-and was brought down by the smashing force of six guards.
He groaned into the carpet as the men doubled the bound on his hands. Without even noticing, Maenadan neatly finished. “And, lastly and chiefly, you are charged with the attempted assassination of the youngest member of the royal family, namely the Lady Princess Lothiriel.”
“What?!” Dilly cried.
“You did willingly plot to end her life while incarcerated and you did willingly escape to act upon this plot, as is evidenced here today. You shall receive punishment suiting ones who are murderous to the innocent and treasonous to the Throne. Guards, fetch the General and the Master of Arms to relocate the prisoners.”

As the squadron became a bustle of activity, Maenadan knelt down by Taras as his face was still being crushed into the floor. Upon seeing him so near Taras struggled and his face burned a fiery red, but Maenadan’s reaction proved indifferent.
He drew in closer so only Taras could hear him. “Comfortable?” He asked.
“Where…is…Lothiriel?” He grunted.
“She’s safe,” Maenadan whispered. “But she’s in a frightful state. I’ve done everything I could to comfort her, but no matter how tight you hold the wench she just won’t-”
Taras let out a scream that nearly knocked half the men off him. One of his shackles lost a link under pressure and he was able to hurl three more men off. Five more guards threw themselves on him, but they seemed like mere trifles to his rage. It took an additional five knights before the battle looked to be in their favor.

Dilly could only watch in a dumb stupor. She was so engrossed in the madness that was Taras that she didn’t notice Maenadan approach her.
He looked down at her with all the interest of a butterfly collector.
She then jumped at the sudden sight of him. “What?
“I suppose you’ll have to do.” He sighed. “I was hoping to unfold everything to Amrothos, but words would be wasted on his present state. Oh my, I do believe he’s frothing now.”
Dilly couldn’t turn her head, but she could hear the screams and the sound of metal bending backwards enough to paint a picture. All of this was quickly shoved to the back of her mind when Maenadan leaned dangerously forward.
“…Go ahead,” He said with a pleasant smile. “Ask me how I did this.”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit irrelevant right now?” Dilly snapped.
He stared at her, and then shook his head disappointedly. “I expected more from you, but I see you’re just like Amrothos. You’re so concerned with the end result, with either winning or losing the game. You fail to see the beauty and the complexity of the board in front of you. I won this round, but do you realize how difficult it was? Don’t you know how many advantageous pieces you had, and all that I had to do to snatch them away?”
“What are you talking about?” Dilly was just about sick of this. “You had us locked in a dungeon! We would have rotted forever in there for all you cared! How advantageous was that?

Again, Maenadan gave a disappointed look that would make a pupil cry. With the flick of the wrist he gestured the guards on either side of Dilly to lift her up. Then suddenly he was down the hall and, to Dilly’s surprise, so was she. The guards shoved her along as Maenadan strolled leisurely away from the chaos that was Lothiriel’s quarters. She tried to call out to Taras, but it made no difference. He was lost now, lost deep inside the sun of his rage and hatred. All the hurt and betrayal and frustration of his life were coming out in one long scream.
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Postby Eredolyn » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:51 pm

Eventually the tumultuous noise was drowned in the silence of the expansive corridor. All that could be heard was the soft tap of footsteps across the marble floor. Apart from the two guards, it was just Dilly and Maenadan now.
Alone with Maenadan, her frazzled mind mused. That’s interesting.

…What was she thinking? She was alone with Maenadan!

“Years ago I told Dol Amroth their prince was dead,” The man started as they walked beneath the swan pillars and ivory beams. “So naturally when Amrothos strolled into the city alive and well, I panicked. I had you both thrown into the dungeons, hoping to conceal you and still use Amrothos as leverage against Lothiriel. This of course was a grave, grave mistake.”
“How?” Dilly hated feeling bewildered.
How?” Maenadan’s stroll came to a dead stop. “How many prisons have you been to?”
Dilly tried to count. “Three…”
“Obviously not enough.” He continued his stroll. “Had you been more observant during your stay, you would have noticed that everyone, everyone entering dungeons is written down in the palace records.”
Dilly stopped, or she tried to stop, but the guards pushed her onwards. “But…that means they wrote Taras down-”
“As simply Taras,” He cut in. “Few know that nickname to be Amrothos’, but even if he shouted to high heaven that he was the prince, it wouldn’t have mattered. You get many people down there of a delirious and fragile nature. Like Nina, for instance.”

Again Dilly stopped, only to be rammed by the guards. “How do you know about Nina?”
Everything is recorded down somewhere,” He smoothly replied. “Several torn ligaments versus a few bruises? Not at all impressive.”
“She’s insane,” Dilly muttered. “The kind of insane that’s deep and dark and doesn’t have a bottom.”
“Yes, well, Taras did not look much better,” Maenadan replied. “He could have said sworn himself a Valar and not get a second glance from the men in that place.”
Dilly just about lost it. “Then why was throwing him in a dungeon such a big mistake? And why are you acting like you just gained a huge victory when you had us under your thumb the whole time?!”
Maenadan looked surprised for a brief moment, and then quietly understood. “I see. They obviously don’t hold trials where you come from.”
“Of course they hold trials-”

Once more Dilly stopped, but not just in walking. She stopped mentally, emotionally, everything in her body just stop and froze there. “…We were going to get a trial,” she realized.
Everyone gets a trial,” Maenadan sneered as if it was the most obvious statement of the year. “To lock people away without one would be tyranny, which is a more refined system that Dol Amroth has yet to achieve.”
Dilly’s insides groaned. She remembered the doctor once spoke about trial dates, but she never fully investigated the matter.
“In a matter of days you would have been held on trial and allowed, to some extent, to have your say,” Maenadan continued. “The prison guards would have ignored Amrothos’ rants, but what about court officials? Many used to be close friends with the royal family. If one nobleman actually considered the prince’s protestations and recognized him, all my work would be undone. If Amrothos had a trial at court I would surely lose the game. I, therefore, had to stop a trial from ever happening.”
“You didn’t have to do anything,” She muttered. “We would have escaped and totally missed the trial by ourselves.”

Maenadan spun about. Like a wall of night he drew in close to Dilly, until she could see nothing but the bottomless holes of his eyes. For some reason she felt she had stared into those eyes before.
“Are you sure?” He pressed. “Even if you weren’t escorted past Taras’ cell every day? Even if there was no Beren to deliver letters and keys? Or no dying Lothiriel in urgent need of her brother? Are you sure you would have been able to escape?”
Dilly could scarcely believe what she was hearing. “You…you set all of it up?!”

“Down to the last jot,” was the tickled answer. “You really had no clue, did you?”
Dilly’s mind was dead silent except for the fizzing as everything became connected. “So, you plotted everything so we could break out and try to rescue Lothiriel. Then you planned to catch us near her quarters and then what? Claim we were trying to assassinate her?”
“Weren’t you?”
“Of course not!”
“But my dear,” Maenadan wore a face of innocent surprise as he pulled out a wad of papers. “I have letters written in your own hand expressing such sentiments.”
“I never-!”
Dilly paused mid-rant to focus on what was held before her face. The papers were hers, hers and Taras’ both. They contained all their scribbled plots of escape…and a few unwarranted threats against Lothiriel’s life as well.
“…Beren gave you those,” Dilly said weakly.
“Clever girl,” said Maenadan.
“And you mimicked the handwriting and added threats against Lothiriel.”
“What?” Maenadan inspected one of the pages closely. “Why? Does it look like that? Does it show?” He looked at the flawless handiwork with pride and shook his head. “No, all I see are the schemes of two inmates who desired to end the life of our beloved princess. Everyone will see that too. Believe me.”
“Whatever,” Dilly had just about enough. “We’ll see how that holds up when Lothiriel joins her brother on the witness stand, you jerk.”

Maenadan sadly shook his head. “I thought you understood. The purpose of all of this was so there wouldn’t be a trial.”
“Oh right! What are you going to do then, line us up before the firing squad?”
The marble hall fell back to its accustomed lofty silence, but this time there was a chill in the air. Maenadan only smiled.
“Something like that,” he said.

A hollow wind blew through Dilly’s head. “No…”
“First you write a plot to kill our princess, and then you’re caught in the very act? Law and blatant evidence calls for speedy execution.” Maenadan looked at the ceiling thoughtfully. “A public hanging will do nicely. During dawn at the latest.”
“You…you’re going to execute the Prince of Dol Amroth in public?!
“Isn’t that nice?” Maenadan clapped his hands jovially. “That way everyone can see the beginning of the end to the royal family! Only they won’t know it’s him, of course; anyone who could possibly recognize him will only see a dirty criminal, gagged with a noose about his throat.”
That did it for Dilly. In a burst of fiery rage she shook off the guards and lunged for Maenadan. Like an alert cat he spun about and grabbed her wrists in one motion. Dilly screamed and thrashed, but his grip was cold steel.
“I gave you a choice, you know,” He muttered as he strained against the girl’s wild tugging. “All I did was unlock your door. It was you who decided to be implicated with your lover instead of staying quietly in your cell. Don’t act like I never gave you a chance.”
She could barely hear him. All she could see were the gaping pits in his eyes. Those deep, dark pits from which something would lash out and
“What?” Maenadan asked when Dilly suddenly stopped struggling.
She now stared at the bottomless eyes and knew.
“Nina is family isn’t she?”
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Postby Eredolyn » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:52 pm

Maenadan’s face, which was always sculpted high with confidence and disgust for mankind, suddenly fell. “…You cannot prove that.”
“You’re insane! You’re insane just like she is!”
“How dare you try to compare me with that psychotic-”
“You both want to burn the world down and sit on its ashes! The only difference is that you’re patient about it!”
The sound bounced wildly down the hallway. Then there was only silence. Dilly gingerly cupped her jaw but couldn’t feel anything save a slight tingle. The guards could only stand helplessly in shock. Maenadan remained composed but practically breathed fire through his nostrils.
It seemed like the whole world was now waiting for Dilly. She slowly unfolded herself and looked Maenadan dead in the dark pit of his eyes. Then, against all expectations, she simply smiled.
“Is it sad that I know a girl who slaps harder than you?”

Maenadan sneered. “Get her out of my sight.”
The guards regained movement and rushed to either side of the prisoner. Practically lifting her off her feet they spun around and began down the corridor, back the way they came.
The guards froze and fearfully turned Dilly about.
“…Dilly, was it?” Maenadan looked at the woman with a hate that transcended all levels involving pits and darkness. “I’ve explained everything to you so you could grasp the full breadths of your stupidity, Dilly. Tomorrow, you will die first. Oh, and Amrothos will watch you die. I will see to that.”
Even if Dilly could think of anything to say, she didn’t have time to. The guards whisked her away again, as if fearing that they would fall under the same condemnation themselves.

Dilly’s mind became flooded with dark thoughts. She was going to die. She was actually going to die. And Taras was going to watch her die. They had gallivanted into too much danger and now they’ve dried up all their luck. The worst part was there was no one, no one who was going to help. All the immies thought Dilly safe, pursuing her quest. They didn’t know she and Taras were about to be executed. Did anyone know? Is there any hope left now?
…Is there even any reason to have hope?
For the first time in a long while, Dilly wanted to break down and cry.

...Your turn, Tuima! :D
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Postby Tuima » Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:15 am

There are certain aspects of life that the brain is not really equipped to deal with.
Death, for example. On a superficial level, of course, everyone knows they are going to die. It’s one of the few facts the human race actually agrees upon. (This does not, ironically, mean that most members of the human race actually believe it until their late eighties, but still. It counts).
Dilly’s life had been fairly bizarre for the past several months, and there had been a higher-than-average number of instances in which she might die.
But the brain is equipped to deal with might. Its answers are fairly simplistic, generally being limited to “hit it!” or “run!” – but they are answers nonetheless.
When you take away the might and hand the brain a situation in which death is no longer a possibility or even a promise, but a genuine, immutable, looming fact… as, for instance, when one is walking up the steps of the gallows, and a not-very-friendly-looking man in a black hood is eyeing your neck and muttering calculations to his assistant… the brain runs out of answers.
Dilly put one foot in front of the other because she wasn’t entirely certain of how to stop herself. The sound of her footsteps was a slow, booming thud. It got mixed up with the solemn rhythm of the execution drum and the frantic hum of her own heartbeat.
She heard a clink from behind her. That would be Taras, so loaded down with chains he could barely walk. He was going to be hanged right after her. This, Dilly understood, had a double purpose: Taras got to suffer that much more, and Lothiriel was given extra incentive to agree to Maenadan’s proposal as she watched her brother being prepared to join Dilly’s twitching corpse. Your brother or your body, as Maenadan had put it to her. He assured her, with a trace of surprise that she even needed to ask, that it wasn’t a matter of treason: he would rule her city either way. It would just be so much neater all round if he could rule it with the Princess at his side.
Dilly could see Lothiriel now, leaning out the window of the royal carriage. Maenadan was right beside her, one hand curled around her shoulder and another around her wrist in a tender, posessive gesture.
It would be so easy for the crowd to misinterpret the Princess’ pale face and shaking hands, or the stiff, eager set of Maenadan’s shoulders.
A shuddery little inhalation behind her told Dilly that Taras was looking at the same thing she was. Dilly refused to look around. She couldn’t stand to see the look in Taras’ eyes. Whoever had coined the phrase “fate worse than death” must have been looking at a face like Taras’: Dilly would much rather look at the noose.
Not that she had much choice: she was standing right in front of it, now. A few hundred miles away, someone was reading her crimes to the mob of Dol Amrothians.
“…to be hanged by the neck until dead.”
That had always been a nasty, ominous phrase, in Dilly’s opinion. It was the “until” that did it. It presumed that things were not going to be quick, and that no one really cared.
She became aware that the crowd had suddenly gone silent.
Oh. He was finished. So that meant that now…
The noose settled over Dilly’s head. She felt hands take hold of her braid and free it from the loop of the rope. Very considerate of them. It would be a shame if the rope were to muss her hair.
The drum stopped.
The crowd held its breath.
Dilly closed her eyes.
And the executioner pulled the lever.
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Rider of the Mark

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