The Hunt for the Bride

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

Postby prmiller » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:13 pm

Final Journeys

Parm had not anticipated a message from Silvertongue.
The crow, that often accompanied him, had heard news twittered from sparrow
to sparrow, sparrow to wren, wren to lark, and once the larks understood the
news, the crows were not late in knowing it as well.

Arahn was alive. Arahn was free.
Parm felt tears well up in his eyes and as he sat in Tharbad, working hard to finish
a letter to the new king of Rohan, that he might have permission to visit their
archives in the Golden Hall.

The urgency of his journey was transported into something like a blessing. It was
as if he had received an embrace from Eru, or that the Valar had come to him
to restore his health and remove the new burden of his aging.

Silvertongue, however, was more than a messenger. He was also profoundly wise.
"Maaasterrr Paaarrrm," the creature croaked characteristically.
"You arrre now in dirrrrect line of Leorniiiirrrr's wrrrath."

"I know, my friend," responded Parm, musing more and more on this matter.
Parm knew that Leonir's rage upon discovering Arahn's escape and flight to
Rohan would imperil the King's house as well. Even so, the king of all Middle
Earth, protector of Gondor, Arnor, and Rohan, would not brook any such stroke
of vengeance without dire consequence. Nevertheless, Parm recognized the truth
of Silvertongue's words.

"He will not assault us directly out of wrath. No. We can expect, however,
a storm of fury of some kind. When it will come and how it will come is up to
that servant of the Great Shadow, though denials that any such allegiance
existed would sputter indignantly from Leonir's lips," continued the bard.

"We must make sure our scarecrows do more to alert us to danger than merely
ward off errant birds!" exclaimed Willum.

"Indeed!" Parm replied
"We do not fearff the scarecroooows..." croaked Silvertongue. "We fearfff the men
behind them. We areeee not that simple-miiiinded."
"I am well-rebuked," Parm smiled.
"Wherrre will you meeeet yourrr chiiild?" Silvertongue queried.
"At Rohan, " Parm answered with curt but not necessarily unfeeling replay.
"There is much to be answered for."
"To be true!" Willum enjoined. "At lease for all the troubles he caused in
Imladris."
"Yes...." trailed off Parm, "Much to consider. so very muuuch....".
Then Parm felt the tug of drowsiness pull on him, and he allowed his head to
nod and he was soon asleep.
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Postby prmiller » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:47 am

Final Journeys

Eofor was used to open country, to wild winds, and the steady beat of
horses hoofs -- Arahn was not. He did not know which was worse:
the drugged stupor or the stomach-wrenching shifts that his horse
made as it kept up with Eofor's well-trained steed. Happily, for Arahn,
Eofor had anticipated this possibility, and had made sure Arahn had
a patient and good horse beneath him. It was of the same line as Shadowfax
of old, and had been given a name which meant, Windwalker. It was almost
true: Arahn's horse seemed almost to fly along the ground as gallop upon it.

There were nights of bewildering encampments. It was life almost wholly
new to Arahn. Eofor's skill helped them both. At dawn's breaking, they were
off again. Finally, as they crested a familiar hill, Arahn's heart leapt in him:
it was Edoras -- the Golden Hall. It was a place he had heard of only in tales
and ballads. Now, here he was, ready to be greeted by its wise king, distantly
related to Eofor.

The horses no longer galloped, but slowed to an easy walk. Arahn was surpremely grateful for the change in speed, not knowing that this was almost a law in
Rohan. One did not race up to the gates of Edoras, unless the message was dire
and the mission urgent.

Eofor sighed and turned to gaze at Arahn, who seemed more at ease on his
horse. "We will be given rooms, a meal, a bath, clothing, and fresh horses to take you to Tharbad, for word has reached us that your father is there, Arahn."
"Yes," Arahn responded with a flat, dull voice.

"You are not happy that you shall be re-united with your beloved father?"

"I will be re-united, but what love there is between us has yet to be seen."
Arahn was surprised at the formality and weightiness of his words. They were
true, though, nonetheless.

"I still do not fully understand... ."
"...and this is not the time to explain, " Arahn broke in.

"Well, you have been through much, and expect it will take you longer to
find yourself on a good road again."

Arahn simply nodded agreement. He knew that he had much to answer for, but
he wondered, still whether there would be a welcome for him in his father's heart.
Parm, he knew, was swift to forgive, but not as swift to return to old alliances and
pick up business where it had been left. In that, Arahn knew, it would be unwise
to guess which direction his father's heart would go. He would have to see.
*************

Willum was being silly.
He had learned how to imitate a number of voices, thanks to the innkeeper's
daughter, who had a rare gift of voice mimicry, and now they were trying to
figure out Parm.

The two of them laughed each time they tried to sound austere and solemn...
it sounded too formal to be believable until they heard the actual voice, which
said,
"I trust that this diversion will have some value in our futures?"
"Ma...Master Parm!" squealed Willum. " Just some innocent fun, sir, all innocent!"

Parm raised an eyebrow and his normally inscrutable face began to show hints of
bemusement. There was no smile...yet.

"And are our bags packed and bundles ready for our journey to Minas Tirith?"
"Oh, all ready, Master Parm. All the horses need is us."
Willum excused himself from the innkeeper's daughter, and pulled Parm
away to a side booth, his voice lowered.
"There is a letter here for you. Came with the morning supplies. You had not
returned from your walk when it got here. So...here it is."

Patting Willum's head paternally, Parm took the carefully wrapped message,
and noticed the seal. It was one he had not seen in many years: the King of Rohan.

After the expected salutations and pleasantries, Parm read on...and his face
went pallid.
"...For some days, we have been host to your son, Arahn. Our ward, Eofor,
risked many perils to rescue him from the lair of Leonir, to bring him here
to us. He is not well, Master Parm, though his body looks hale, thanks to our
air, mead, and good food, but his spirit is all but broken. I have tried to
elicit from him what had transpired between you and what had taken place
after you had parted, but he could even muster the words, almost choking on
them as if they were loath to be formed.

"You must come, as soon as you are able, to help him. I know he is under severe
chastisement from Rivendell, but all imprisonments must end, and the convict
released into the now forgiving world, knowing that all debts have, in some
measure, been paid. Make haste, Master Parm. I sense that a new quest lies
before, and that you will have begun it once you come to our doors."

Parm had read in mutters and half-whispers, so that Willum could barely
distinguish what Parm had read. Thus, when the Master Bard raised his face
to look at Willum, the Hobbit started at how profoundly agonized Parm looked.

"Is...is it as bad as all that?"
"No. Not bad, but difficult, very, very difficult." Parm went silent, and then
taking a deep sigh, spoke again.
"Willum, we will still need to travel, but we are bound for Edoras. The King of
Rohan has called for me to come to him. Arahn... is... is...found."
"Glory be!" Willum whistled. "After all these...".
"Yes...after all this time." Parm interrupted, knowing full well what time had passed and how it had lashed at him with each passing hour and day.

"Take care of our bill with this," Parm instructed, placing a heavy, jingling bag
into Willum's hands. "Take three silver pennies as well, and give them to the
boatman for his care. I will meet you at the stables."

Parm strode off. Suddenly the air became wintery chill...his mind seemed
pierced like the thrust of a sword... He knew that feeling and he heard the
voice within him.

"Parm. Parm. Parm.
You are not free of me yet. I may have allowed my prize to have been
mislaid, but it is not lost...at least, not yet...nor shall it be, given my powers...
vastly greater than your own. Go. Travel. Be a father again. Enjoy the briefest
of tender embraces...but it will all be snatched from you again...mark me."

Parm reeled from this invasion of his soul, and barely recovered himself
upon reaching the stable, so that he could ready their mounts for a journey,
that would be, far more perilous upon arriving than the journey itself.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:48 pm

Betrayed.

She knew as soon as she saw the filthy, snaggle-toothed matron leering at her that this was no call for help. How could she have been so easily deceived by Nimuen?

In the blue hue of the moonlight, Nimuen smiled bitterly as she slid her hood from the black curls that encircled her face. An amulet, formerly hidden by the thick tresses, was revealed and burnished by the flames of the torches newly lit by the townspeople.

Ah, she has been practicing the Dark Arts, Lurea/Lucinthe mused.

"Lucinthe of the Dark, your reign of terror ends tonight," Nimuen read, looking up occasionally at the mob to gauge their reaction. "No more shall you cast your spell upon our menfolk, nor shall you collaborate with our enemies--the Orcs." At each point, the uneducated, dirty mob raised their torches and shouted.

Lucinthe's arms were bound with leather and thorn straps, so tight that they quickly drew blood, which ran down her hands and colored the dirt below. Unwavering, her gaze remained steady upon these simple folk. The only crime she had committed was that of laying with one of their husbands--the snaggle-toothed's--and that had taken no spells.

Berenthal had freely given his heart to her and she had gratefully accepted it. For several months, this affair continued, and he continued to beg her to use her skills as a sorceress to remove his wife, who had been chosen for him by his father, now long-dead. He had never loved his wife, he said, and Lucinthe chose to believe him, since her heart was ensnared in his web of lies. But death was not a wish she would ever grant--her gifts were strongest in those of illusion and protection, and she had promised her ancient mentor that she would never destroy. This she told him day after day, and each time he would reply, tears trembling in his clear blue eyes, "If you do not, one day she shall destroy you instead."

So, that day has come, she thought wryly, watching the men pile up the wood that would be her funeral bier. Looking away for a moment, she caught the eye of Berenthal...he had refrained from building the fire, but by his silence, he was condemning her as much as the others. His eyes still shone with his love for her, but in the midst of so much hatred and fear, he knew that by protecting her, it would only confirm to the others that he was under her spell.

Taking a deep breath, Lucinthe stepped onto the unsteady pieces of dry wood, guided by shaky hands...her guards were afraid that by touching her, they would be cursed...but right now, they were more afraid of Nimuen and what would happen to their families if they did not comply with her orders. Lucinthe felt strangely calm, though she knew that her end had come. She locked eyes with Berenthal, her eyes burning with the flames that would soon engulf her, and he looked away, ashamed and afraid.

"End this!" Nimuen screamed. Three burly men laid their torches on the wood and quickly scrambled away from the sorceress, lest they hear her curses. But none issued from her lips...she had only treated the townspeople with gentleness, creating salves and potions to soothe their pain. She had often been cold and aloof, but that was her nature.

The flames crept up to her feet and as she imagined them as cold as ice, so they became. She could not stop the flames with her hands bound, but she could, to an extent, influence her body's reaction. Mortal as she was, she would eventually become engulfed, her mind scorched beyond repair, and then she would succumb to death. Until then, though, she could minimize the agony.

The scar on Nimuen's face seemed to jump with the flames, pulsing with her anticipation. Lucinthe had refused to heal it--she had received a visit from a nameless Maiar in a vision...he told her that she should not, lest some evil be released upon the village. This refusal incited Nimuen, likely leading to this day. Lucinthe wondered what could be worse than practicing such evil and condemning another to fire, but she had to have faith in the Maiar's wisdom.

Too quickly the burning reached her neck...it would only be a few more moments before her golden locks transferred the flames to her skull, leading to an agonizing death. Her green eyes closed, but she could still see the orange light burning through her skin. Mouth open, she silently screamed, her body convulsed...and all became silent and dark.

Lurea awoke, her body tingling. Looking down the best she could, she strained to see the damage from the flames, but she saw nothing, nor did she smell burned flesh.

"Who is Lucinthe?" she asked the stone ceiling. Suddenly, the darkness returned, and Lurea became unconscious again.

"I have saved you," a disembodied voice in the onyx darkness reverberated.

"Where am I?" inquired Lucinthe, feeling cold and damp. She rubbed her arms, where goosebumps had pricked through, and was surprised to discover that there was no damage.

"It matters not. But now that you are saved, you shall serve me until the end of your days," the Voice, emotionless, coldly continued. Lucinthe shuddered. She did not recall asking for help...and now she was the servant of this Thing. Until she knew what it was, there was no hope of fighting it, or escaping. Who knew the extent of its powers? After all, it had pulled her from the licking flames moments before her destruction. She would have to bide her time and learn all that she could about it...assuming it did not destroy her first.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:46 pm

Hobbituk’s doubts were like rotting meat, pervasive and unwelcome to Lucinthe. Why could the hobbit not trust Lurea—was love not enough for him? He at least had his love…unlike Culanir, broken by the peredhil. She had a vague feeling that there had been someone in her life as well, but the diaphanous memory shimmered but a moment before her and then disintegrated. She could not pursue the memory, lest it break the tenuous link between her and Lurea, so she grudgingly returned to the present.

Cursing Leonir’s attempt at realism for a battered Lurea, she was tired of the orc’s jostling…her bruises were not in need of reinforcement. Yet, she knew, it was better that the hobbit not be too close, nor touch her too much, otherwise it might cause a ripple in the illusion. It would take much at this point to cause such a distortion, since the link between the two female creatures was relatively strong, but Lucinthe could not take any risks.

Trying to restore the connection with the hobbit, she smiled faintly, as she imagined Lurea would have done in such a situation. Lucinthe was no fainting maid, but she knew that Lurea had used it as a device to get her way, as well as succumbed to it in her extreme surprise or dismay. It might have to be used later on, but for now, she needed to seem at least strong enough for a journey to the Bard.

There was one more obstacle to the outdoors, she knew…it couldn’t seem too easy for the hobbit and orc. Shuddering slightly, she prepared for the beast thundering above them, stalking them as its prey.

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

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

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

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

Suddenly, the beast fell from above, blocking out the daylight behind its enormous bulk. Belching fire from its cavernous mouth, its eyes burning like smoldering coals, the creature slowly advanced upon them, blocking their exit.

“Back down the tunnel!” Hobbituk yelled

“Then where?” Morg snorted. “It’s not like there’s another way out from here, unless we want to have a nice chat with Leonir in his grand ballroom.”

“I don’t know,” Hobbi moaned. “All I know is that we can’t fight that creature without a weapon of some kind.”

Bouncing harder over Morg’s shoulder, Lucinthe figured that she might as well help them get through this challenge…Leonir wouldn’t care if it was completed more expeditiously, especially if it meant that her mission was completed successfully before the next full moon.

“Down the tunnel to the right—I can hear water trickling,” she choked out as she impacted Morg’s shoulder once more.

Morg raised an eyebrow at Hobbituk, who replied, “It’s at least an idea…and it sounds better than waiting here for that creature.”

They ran down another flight of stone stairs before arriving at the water source. The area was dark and humid, but they could barely make out that it was not a room after all, but an underground cave with a fathomless lake.

“What now?” asked Morg, dropping Lucinthe onto a flat rock. She moaned, prompting Hobbi to grab her hand and stroke her pale brow.

“Don’t be so rough with my wife, Morg, otherwise you’ll have to deal with me!”

Morg laughed. “We don’t have time for this, little hobbit. Besides, what would you do to me?”

“Well, I might push you into the lake and watch you drown--“ Suddenly, Hobbituk stopped his angry words and his eyes lit up. “That’s it! It’s a fire creature…I’ll bet that it doesn’t like water.”

Morg looked around the cave, squinting in the twilight darkness. “What are we going to use to lure it in?”

Hobbituk’s shoulders drooped. He hadn’t thought of that. Then he noticed a large bucket next to the dripping wall.

“Maybe we don’t need to drown it, just get it to back off, so we can get ahead of it. Let’s fill the bucket and throw the water when it comes near.”

“And get close enough for it to turn us into roast meat? I don’t think so,” Morg grumbled.

“What other option do we have?” Hobbi nervously watched the entrance of the cave, which had suddenly become more illuminated as they discussed.

Still grumbling, Morg snatched the bucket and, with three long strides, made it to the edge of the pool. Filling the bucket with the freezing cold water, he shuddered, whether from the cold or from fear, he would never admit.

Lucinthe watched silently from her rock, her eyes clear and bright. Thankfully the hobbit had some brains in his head…he had quickly taken her hint and would end up winning this “battle” with his strategy. She wondered if he would rise to the challenges that he had yet to face.
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Postby Leonir » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:40 pm

Leonir did not have time for the ineptitude of his staff, and he was growing impatient with the explanation of Arahn's former guard.

"How could we have known that the maid was in on it?" growled the head guard, his head still swimming with the brew he had imbibed earlier that evening. What were the chances that I would have been the "on-duty" guard at the time of the escape? he wondered. If only I hadn't joined the others for a quick swig, I might have seen them.

Suddenly, his back stiffened and a tingle went down his spine. Too late, he remembered that Leonir could read minds and cringed in anticipation.

Had he looked up, moments before being charred to ashes by the fire beast (the twin of the other that Hobbi and Morg were battling at that same moment), he would have seen a momentary flicker of fury, then a complacent, emotionless mien.

Leonir slowly cocked his head toward the rest of the guards, who trembled at the sight of the blank face and the smoking remnants of their friend. What was he thinking? Were they next?

Do not be distracted by petty revenge, the Voice rasped within him. Your pride has cost us one lure, but there are still others upon our hook. Now we have given Parm of Imladris a moment of hope, and he may burn all the more brightly when we destroy him, but destroy him we shall. His time grows shorter upon MiddleEarth--I can feel his moments flying past us as if they were bees who had newly discovered a forgotten field of flowers.

With one meaningful look at the guards, who still watched over Lurea, Leonir strode back into his throne room.

The walls grew colder at his return, as though the stone lived and shuddered at the evil within him. The thin trickle of light that dared to creep into the chamber was quickly devoured by the oppressive blackness and received no reinforcement from the few torches that adorned the blank stone walls.

Sitting upon his chilly throne, Leonir felt no more cold than he normally experienced. Without even a moment of love, his heart had never learned warmth, and his gray eyes chilled even those with the warmest of hearts. His eyes were the one constant to his ever-changing disguise--they revealed what little of his soul existed, invoking extreme dread in whoever dared to look directly into them.

"Regarding Parm, what shall we do now?" Leonir calmly asked. The Voice would have a plan--it always did.

"Wait. He is traveling toward Arahn, who may yet be influenced. There are others now who threaten your path toward ruling the kingdom of Diadron, creatures that must be grounded."

Leonir nodded. Lady Heather had gotten too close to Lurea in her vision--she must be slowed in her journey.

Standing stiffly, he strode over to the crack in the western wall, where the light, shuddering, tried to break the wall further. Blowing through this small crack, he lowered the atmospheric pressure until a large-scale storm began to brew. The storm traveled rapidly toward Lady Heather and the dragons, gathering debris and sand in its ascent, promising to remain for several days around them, relegating all travel to that of foot and claw.

Meanwhile...a lone ebony-haired figure on a horse descended a hill. The "Fighting Artiste" was weary, but Berrog continued to plod forward--he knew when his master was needed and never ran from the blood-smeared battlefield.

Suddenly, the horse lifted his magnificent head and sniffed the air. Marius sat up and looked around them. Something was amiss, but what?

Within seconds, the clear blue sky and glaring sun had disappeared in a stinging, grit-filled cloud that beat upon skin and coat relentlessly. Coughing, Marius covered his mouth and nose with his kerchief, so that he could breathe again. Blindly he dropped from Berrog and grabbed one of the blankets upon the horse's back, tearing it with his knife. He kept his back against his friend's shoulders to prevent losing his bearings.

Soon he had a tolerable "kerchief" for his horse as well and he placed it over Berrog's muzzle and eyes.

"Well, boy, it looks like we're not going anywhere until this sandstorm is past," he yelled over the roar of the wind. Horse and master slowly dropped to the ground, trying to take advantage of the lower wind speeds near the earth, where they would be less battered.
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Postby Hobbituk » Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:46 am

The creature burst into the cave, dislodging several rocks around the entrance as it did so. The floor shook and the temperature increased instantly. It was a kind of beast Hobbi had never even heard of before, let alone seen, and as it lunged forward with a menacing growl: the flames, which seemed to engulf it without consuming the charred flesh, licked against the floor and ceiling.

Hobbi stood apart from both Morg and Lurea, their plan rested entirely on them being able to distract it long enough to get by. It was a hopeless plan, this seemed obvious, yet he could not clear his mind in order to think of another. The beast turned its bestial head from Hobbi to Morg and back again, carefully choosing who would make the finer beginning to its meal. Hobbi glanced sideways at Morg. The Orc held the large bucket full of water and Hobbi could not help but notice that the water was already steaming from the sudden heat. They needed to move quickly,

“Hey!” Hobbi shouted, “Over here, you big… burny… thing!”

Silence followed this. Even the creature ceased its growling as it turned to consider the Hobbit.

“Big burny thing?” came the flat voice of Morg. His capacity for sarcasm seemed undimmed by their impending doom.

“It was the best I could do given the circumstances,” Hobbi muttered, trembling as the monster advanced on him. His legs shaking, he began to back away slowly.

“How about ‘Go back to the shadows foul demon of Morgoth!’” Morg suggested in the exact same moment as he leapt forward with the bucket and emptied the contents over the fire beast’s back. The creature’s roar turned to a howl as it writhed suddenly in pain.

“Actually that’s not bad at all!” agreed Hobbi, taking his opportunity and circling past the creature towards where Lurea lay upon the rock. As careful as he was he still had to pass uncomfortably close to the flames. Sweat ran down his forehead. He could feel a drop of it on his nose.

"I always liked it when humans yelled that at me in their final moments," the Orc said, acknowledging Hobbi's compliment.

Morg reached Lurea before him and was about to pick the elf up once more when Hobbi noticed the fire beast had ceased its howling. It charged at Morg with a sudden burst of speed. The Orc rolled away in time but only just; the bandage on his left hand bursting into flames as the creature got too close. As soon as he had completed his roll, the Orc bashed his fiery hand against the floor to extinguish the flames. Hobbi could only imagine how painful it must have been, but Morg showed no sign of discomfort other than snarling with anger back at the fire beast. Hobbi stood in front of Lurea in a futile display of protection, though it was clear now the fire beast only had eyes for Morg.

Draw your sword, you damn fool! he thought, yet Morg made no attempt to prepare himself for battle. He stood still and proud, glaring at the monster. The beast charged once more and this time it seemed as if the Orc had no hope of survival. The creature barrelled into Morg, engulfing the Orc in its flames as the two of them rolled backwards. At the last moment, Morg’s plan dawned on the Hobbit. He had been standing directly in front of the large underground lake. Orc and fire beast plunged into it with a huge splash and ear-achingly loud hiss. Water turned to steam and there was so much of it the cave was soon filled with smoke so thick that Hobbi could see nothing at all. The splashing continued until it was replaced by a terrible shrieking which seemed to shake the very ground. Something unseen burst forth from the water and rushed past the Hobbit, almost knocking him to the ground. The shrieks and screams then grew farther into the distance until they disappeared.

Silence returned. It was followed soon after by the gradual clearing of the steam. At the water’s edge, Morg sat alone and untroubled, industriously wiping a bandage along his sword.

Hobbi cleared his throat, “Are you…well?” he asked.

Morg did not look up,

“Well enough. I hate big… burny… things.”
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Postby PatriotBlade » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:37 am

Again, it was a youngling that spotted the storm, and again the dragons and Dragon master sought shelter on the ground.
As the grit and debris struck them, carried on the strong winds, the younger dragons displayed their first signs of discomfort during the journey.

Using their bodies to shield the half elf and the three younger dragons, the two eldest created a circle around the others, with their heads inside. It helped, but there was no escaping the abrasive wind. They still conversed through thought-speak, fearing to open their mouths only to have them be filled

This is no natural storm. Cerna stated.

I know. I feel the dark magic reaching for us. I don't know what to do, other than to wait it out.

Lady Heather, do not fret the moment. Rest. We will discuss this later.


In-spite of herself, she felt the insistent pull of sleep draw her into unconsciousness.

We can not travel in this, and our errand grows more urgent with every delay. Carna thought-spoke to Tryn.

The eldest dragon growled. Yes. I know! he snapped. Rest. Let our minds have a chance to catch up with our bodies.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:20 pm

Since Lucinthe's and Lurea's memories had been reversed, the double could not recall exactly why she was shuddering each time the fire beast lunged closer to her, yet shudder she did.

Keeping her eyes mostly closed, so that the beast's glaring light could not singe her sensitive pupils, she opened them briefly when Hobbi tried to distract the creature by shouting "Over here, you big... burny... thing!" She found herself trying to stifle her laughter with a weak cough, presumably from the smoke that lazily clung to the creature. This hobbit was quite humorous!

Closing her eyes once more, she anxiously awaited the end of the fire, when it would be quenched, or at least snuffed temporarily, listening to the thuds and splashes of Morg. Why did this Orc protect such a little hobbit and bride? she wondered curiously. What blackmail or bond holds them together?

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the fight was over...the creature fled into the dark bowels of the stronghold. Lucinthe sighed. Her work had just begun.

After drying his sword, Morg sheathed it and heaved Lucinthe back upon his shoulder, knocking the breath out of her temporarily. Hobbi glared at the Orc, who shrugged.

Soon they were following the taunting flickers of sunlight that danced through the cracks of the crumbling stronghold, moving ever upward on the stone stairs. Lucinthe knew that it would only be a few minutes before they broke out of the stone and were surrounded by trees once more, but the other two were poised to react to any noise, to instinctively lunge toward or run away from any threat that appeared.

But there was something that Leonir had not told Lucinthe...

A slender, dark figure crept along the shadows, silently trailing the three travelers, moving as though it were a shadow itself, not the subject. Without notice, a sharp glint of steel pierced the darkness, throwing light upon the terrified Lucinthe's face for a split second, then was gone...the only indications of the figure's presence were an anguished cry from Lucinthe and blood dripping down her face, in a slash that had been perilously close to her right eye. From the top of her brow to her high cheekbones, the blood attempted to clot.

Hearing her cry, Hobbi turned toward the peredhil and took a sharp intake of breath, holding it for a moment as his heart leapt in his chest. Lurea had been wounded by some unseen force!

Morg rolled his eyes and grunted, "Let's get out of here before you tend to her, hobbit. If we wait much longer, who knows what else might find us?"

Hobbi opened his mouth to protest, but knew that Morg was right. Tentatively, he gently stroked Lurea's hand to soothe her as she softly cried and held a torn part of her dress to the injured face, then the two walkers climbed up the final flights of the staircase.

Lucinthe, this is your warning...do not fail me, lest you find yourself at the end of your short mortal life, Leonir's voice reverberated in her skull and she cringed further.

***************

Meanwhile, just outside of the stronghold, Kuti scrambled out of sight, into some dense bushes where he could keep an eye on whomever was about to exit.

The three tired creatures were immediately blinded by the mid-day sun, which would have been a perfect time for Kuti to attack his nemesis, the little hobbit. But this man was patient and knew the time was not yet right to exact his revenge, so he remained still and observed the others as they sought a way off the darkly enchanted island.

****************

"How did Tinu, Anorast, and Leslie arrive on the island?" Hobbi mused aloud as he tenderly dabbed at Lurea's wound with the dress scrap. He had awoken from his death, to see their three friendly faces looking at him worriedly. With a pang, he wondered what had happened to all of them...the last he had seen of Anorast was down in Leonir's trap, hypnotized by the visions of a Lucky Fortune Inn that had not been burned down. Had he escaped? Or was he still reliving the old days?

As Lucinthe gratefully accepted the hobbit's ministrations, she inwardly seethed. It was bad enough that she was the Evil One's pawn, but did He really have to resort to such cheap tricks? Her head now throbbed, making it more difficult for her to focus on the illusion...why would he jeopardize her mission?

Suddenly, she knew. This had been his plan all along--to reduce her powers, her defenses, so that she would remain his servant and not be able to fight the darkness that kept her prisoner. Gritting her teeth in pain and fury, she sent a fierce look toward the castle and its owner.

As Hobbi looked around them for any herbs that might help ease the pain, he caught her glance and was taken aback. What was she thinking as she looked that fierce and wild?

Morg stomped around under the trees, nervously watching the darkest parts of the wood (all but where they were, in the sun-dappled entrance). "They probably arrived in some tiny elven boat that would sink if I placed one foot upon its bow," he growled, kicking at a large stone and sending it flying into the trees.

A loud clunk! emanated from the same direction, where the rock had impacted a structure of some sort. Curious, Morg ambled over to the object and moved away a few loose branches and leaves that had withered due to being severed from their life-limbs for too long.

"Hey, hobbit...you won't believe what I found..." he shouted and heaved the giant metallic rowboat upon his shoulders, remnant leaves fluttering to the ground. "Nothing like a good solid boat for a short ride across the 'moat' of this castle!"
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Postby Hobbituk » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:34 am

Kuti lay silent in the undergrowth, content to merely watch and listen. The thick leaves and branches hid him from sight, although his breath caught in his throat at one point when the huge Orc appeared to stare directly at him, his gaze piercing directly into the Gondorian’s hiding place.

Can he see me? Can he SMELL me?

He felt relief as Morg looked away and kicked a rock, by chance discovering the boat which had been hidden amongst some other scrub and bushes. A root was digging into Kuti’s side which prevented him from getting comfortable in his hiding place, but his hand gripped the hilt of his sword so tightly that comfort was far from his mind. Yet he remained hidden.

At first he was not sure what was stopping him from leaping out and attacking the Hobbit. That Halfling had killed Nilrem, his best friend. He had done it coolly and without mercy.

They all think you’re so sweet, so kind, so innocent. But I know who you are, Herbert Took. I know WHAT you are…

His hand gripped still tighter on his sword, the fingernails of his hand biting into his palm. Even with the huge Uruk present, Kuti did not think Hobbi would be safe if he decided to attack. Kuti thought he knew Morg well, he was someone who did nothing without a chance of profit and what profit could there be in defending such a sad pathetic creature? Yet even so Kuti did not leap from his hiding place, he remained hidden.

There was one thing stopping him from taking his revenge.

Her…


Lurea lay on the ground, injured and seemingly in pain, the Hobbit gently stroking the back of her hand. The last time Kuti had seen her, she had been chained in Leonir’s dungeons and the Gondorian had been charged with watching her. He did not know she had managed to escape or how she had been rescued, but the guilt he had felt as he watched her… as he had stolen a single kiss and then fled from the room in terror… all came rushing back. The malice he held for her was less than nothing, he felt only sorrow.

Kuti remained hidden.


-


Hobbi glanced around desperately for anything that might help him sooth Lurea’s fresh wound, but he was no great healer or herbalist. It would be simply too cruel if after all they had gone through Lurea were to succumb to this injury. He looked back at her, every time he looked upon her face his heart raced a little as he remembered all those nights on the journey here where he had dreamt of seeing her again, trying desperately to hold her image in his mind and clinging to it as a child to a doll.

This time, however, Hobbi very nearly gasped when he looked at Lurea and saw a look on her face he had never seen before. It was a look of pure hatred, vicious and spiteful, it looked completely out of place passing across the countenance of such a beautiful elf. The look vanished as quickly as it arrived, leaving Hobbi to wonder if he had merely imagined it.

Morg stood over them holding aloft a boat,

“Nothing like a good solid boat for a short ride across the 'moat' of this castle!"

Hobbi frowned,

“We can’t move on yet, Lurea is hurt.”

This answer did not sit well with the Orc. He growled, a dark and menacing noise, yet Hobbi had come to learn that this was but an expression of mild annoyance. He doubted that Morg even knew he was doing it. The Orc dropped the boat with a clatter, grabbing it by the stern.

“I am not waiting here,” he said, “I have been thwarted in my desire for revenge,” he held up the hand with its missing finger, “I have travelled far from home, had my army destroyed, been maimed and inconvenienced. I have been constantly attacked and forced to share my company with imbeciles. All in all, it made me want to kill things.”

Morg bared his teeth in a curious expression. It could have been a grimace or it could have been a smile, Hobbi had no idea,

“Do as you wish,” Morg growled, “But I am leaving.”

With that he turned, his right hand holding onto the boat. He strode off into the trees, dragging the boat behind him, flora and fauna brushed aside as he passed, until he was out of sight.

Hobbi turned back to Lurea who still appeared bleary and struggling to maintain consciousness,

“Looks like its just you and me,” he said, gently kissing her cheek.
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Postby Hobbituk » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:20 am

Morg broke out through the thick undergrowth and onto the beach, still pulling the boat beside him. He looked out across the sea and took a deep breath. The salty air which persisted across the entire island was at its strongest down here by the water. Something about the smell made him feel more alive than he ever had before. Endless battles in the Far East had involved much in the way of sand and sun, but little of water and especially this strange undrinkable water of salt. For his entire life, Morg had struggled to control his anger. He was an Orc and this was normal but the cool sea breeze on his face seemed to sooth his temper. He could almost say that he… liked… it.

Morg’s keen eyes could just about make out the mainland in the distance, it would be no time at all before he would be back on the mainland and where then? The natural thing to do would be to head North again, to where the remnants of his people held the pass in the Misty Mountains. But that had never been home to him and there few enough of his people left there if any at all. He had brought the best and strongest with him on this foolish trek and they had all been slaughtered. Weak fools, he must find new soldiers… stronger… clevererindependent.

Even Morg could acknowledge that was the problem with Orcs. Yes, they could march for miles on little food. Yes, they enjoyed nothing more than inflicting pain and suffering, fighting against weaker enemies in the service of their lord. But they could rarely think for themselves. They needed a master to dominate them, or else they scattered and fled to the deep and dark places, to cower like insects under a rock. Morg knew he was different; he had a strong will and could think clearly with or without some Dark Lord in his mind. His next troops must be more like himself, he decided.

After basking in the sea air for a short while longer he made to grab the boat once more and make for the distant shore, but then he heard a twig snap in the bushes and he could ignore his hidden watcher no longer,

“I know you are there, Tark,” he spat, “Cease your childish hiding game.”

Kuti the Gondorian had been following him since he had emerged from the darkness with the Halfling and the Elf. Morg had smelt him at once and seen him several times, but had made no comment. He knew there was little love lost between the Hobbit and the Tark and a showdown between the two seemed to be a hassle best avoided. By now, however, it had just become annoying.

Kuti emerged looking slightly embarrassed and surprised,
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I was about to say something, but I didn’t want to startle you.”
Morg snorted, “I have never been ‘startled’. I am Morg the Merciless, of the Uruks.”
“Ah…erm…yes, of course. Sorry.” Kuti replied feebly.
“What is it you want, Tark? A lift across the water on my boat?”

Morg may have never been startled, but he was somewhat surprised when in answer the Gondorian smiled and merely answered,
“Call that a boat? I can show you a real boat…”


-


By the time Lurea opened her eyes, Hobbi had managed to get a good fire going. Over the fire he had improvised a tripod of twigs from which a metal pot hung. He was quite pleased with the pot. It was in fact a goblin’s helmet. Hobbi had found it in the courtyard of the castle, its owner clearly having no more need of it. He had drawn water from the well to clean it thoroughly and then drawn more water to fill the helmet with. The water was now bubbling away nicely.

By his side was a large pile of stinging nettles and dock leaves which he had gathered. He had looked everywhere for mushrooms or even some wild-growing potatoes, but had been disappointed. Still, Dock Pudding was one of the first things he had ever learned to cook and he could have made it with his eyes shut.

“Hobbi?” Lurea murmured quietly.

“Oh! You’re awake!” Hobbi said, looking up with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. The water looked to be boiling nicely now, so he thrust the nettles and dock leaves into it, “I don’t know much about herbs for healing, but cooking was always more my thing,” he said, in answer the unasked question, “So I thought you might feel a little better with some food inside you.”

“Are those… nettles?” Lurea asked uncertainly. Hobbi wanted to take her in his arms and hug her, but despite their proximity there still seemed to be some distance between them. A distance Hobbi hoped to cross by talking,

“Oh yes. Nothing like a nice Dock Leaf pudding, the nettles add to the taste. Don’t worry, the sting soon vanishes in the cooking leaving only tasty herbs and vitamins. We’ll have you on your feet in no time.”

He finished with a smile. It was a smile of bravado;; whilst he knew that he needed to get Lurea able to walk before they would be able to leave (he lacked the strength Morg had and he knew he wouldn’t be able to carry her all the way to the beach), he also knew that at any time Leonir’s minions could fall upon them and carry them both back to captivity. Staying where they were was a risk, but Hobbi could see no viable alternative.

And then what? Morg had taken the boat. How would they reach the mainland? Hobbi only hoped that a solution would present itself if they got as far as the beach. It seemed as if they had escaped, but until they left the island properly, that was simply not true.
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Postby Turelie_Lurea » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:42 pm

With Lurea's memories swirling within her head, Lucinthe couldn't help but feel tenderly toward the hobbit. When the orc left them, and Hobbi kissed her softly, wisps of the past brought her back to the wedding of the hobbit and elf, when he had kissed Lurea with the same tenderness.

For a moment, she felt so very cold and alone...this love was not meant for her--it was meant for a far less-deserving creature, selfish and self-absorbed. How can he still love her, after all that she has done to him? Lucinthe wondered as she lightly dozed.

Awakening to the scent of dock leaves and nettles, Lucinthe tried to sound as pitiful as possible, "Hobbi?"

She was a little hesitant to try the nettles--some half-recalled memory of Lurea's reminded her of an incident of improperly boiled nettles in Lothlorien, when she was trying to survive after the attack on Diadron. But Hobbi soon allayed her fears with his matter-of-fact words.

Another memory...Hobbi at the Lucky Fortune Inn, cooking his famous Stew, his curls tightening as he leaned into the steam cloud that billowed from the enormous pot. He smiled at Lurea--a genuine, friendly grin that had not yet been tainted by Lurea's poison. At that time, they hardly knew one another, and yet, Lurea knew even then that her heart was no longer her own. For the first time since Culanir, and only the second time in her long life, Lurea was in love.

And Tinu--Lurea's adoptive sister...blonde hair and soft blue eyes--sat in her customary corner at the LFI, hoping to catch the eye of the hobbit, but knowing that her quiet demeanor was not enough with the vivid presence of Lurea. Compared to Lurea's vibrant rainbow, Tinu was in shades of faded gray...who would ever choose gray monotony over the glory of color?

Lucinthe held onto this memory of the LFI, savoring the thought of a stew she had never actually tasted, clinging to the friendships and conversations she had never experienced. So much love and kindness around Lurea's past...it hurt Lucinthe, who had been empty for so long, devoid of feeling other than misery.

Leonir had instructed her to listen to these memories that would wash over her as the waves upon the beach--that she would learn information that might be useful to her mission. One of these pieces, Lucinthe recognized, was the relationship between Lurea and Tinu...there was still a weak link between the two from their time together in Lothlorien. Reaching out to the other side, using Lurea's thoughts, she touched Tinu ever so slightly and saw where she was located--out in the open, under the beating sun...with Erinhue.

Opening her eyes again, slightly pallid from the encounter and the knowledge that the Bard of Belfalas was progressively drawing nearer, she knew that soon she would need to convince Hobbi that she was well enough to travel.

She returned his smile with one that showed weariness, but less pain. In truth, her face throbbed with every heartbeat. Lurea's limited knowledge of herbs told her to place one of the boiled dock leaves, still steaming, upon the wound. But before she could experience any relief, she needed to further strengthen the bond between the hobbit and herself.

"I remember your cooking, my love," she said softly, tears shimmering in her eyes. "I remember the first bowl of stew you cooked, how every ingredient melted upon my tongue...and how I desired and hungered for more." She looked meaningfully at the hobbit, love radiating from her weak limbs and core. Reaching out her long, slender arm toward him, her palm was held skyward in a gesture of openness, beckoning him to draw nearer.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:46 am

Hobbi almost teared up at her words. Tender words of love and longing, such as he had not heard in a long time. How he wished they were now safe, how he wished they could stay in one place. Together… forever. The distance between them still remained, but Lurea reached out her arm towards the Hobbit and in that one simple gesture Herbert Took felt as if he were being summoned back home… back to the Lucky Fortune Inn, his place of happiness.

Hobbi shuffled forward on his knees, almost knocking over the pot as he did so but not much caring. He took her delicate hand between his own small but rough fingers and then held her palm to the side of his cheek,

“I knew I’d find you,” he whispered to her with a tired but genuine smile, “Even when it looked hopeless… I knew I would see you again. Everything that has happened… all we went through… it was worth it just for that.” He leaned in closer and planted another kiss on her forehead.

“Oh, Hobbi,” she replied, returning the smile, “I must look such a mess…”

Hobbi was both touched amused by his wife’s sudden vanity,

“Lurea, my darling Lurea… you have never looked lovelier.”

They continued to talk for a little while longer, though their conversation quickly turned to more trivial matters as if there were subjects that neither still dared breach. They shared the food Hobbi had prepared and spoke of how fortunate they were that the weather had remained clear, how lucky they had been to find such splendid tasting plants and a little of their immediate plans. They agreed to make for the beach quite matter of factly, yet all the while they looked into each other’s eyes. Their eyes appeared to be having a conversation of their own, one quite different to the words on their lips.


-


“There, look!”

Kuti pointed down into the small enclosed bay surrounded by a rocky cove.

“That is a boat indeed.” agreed Morg.

And it was. A black boat bigger than any he had ever seen. It was huge, with three enormous masts sprouting from its deck; it was more than 80 feet long and almost thirty feet across. It had six sails, although these were down in the calm of the bay and the anchor weighed.

“How did you know this was here?” Morg grumbled suspiciously.

“I found it by accident,” Kuti quickly responded, “I knew our host had such a ship, he likes to do things in style, but I was wandering around earlier… my mind on other things. I nearly fell off this cliff and right into the bay. Would have gone right through the deck and broken my neck no doubt.”

“No doubt,” Morg growled, but he had made a decision, “Yes. I believe I’ll take it.”

Kuti seemed taken aback at the speed of Morg’s certainty, “Just like that? It won’t be so easy. You can see from here it is guarded, the crew…”

Kuti was right. There were half a dozen Orcs wandering about above deck, with more sure to be below. Each one was an armed and nasty looking brute. But Morg was a nasty looking brute too,

“I am sure you know well the ways of treacherous Tarks and disgusting elves,” Morg replied, “But these are Orcs. I know their ways… their ways are mine.”

Before another word could be spoken, Morg took a step back and then suddenly leapt into space. His body seemed to hang in mid-air for a second and then gravity took hold. A monster he may have been, but as he fell through the air he turned his body into a graceful dive. He flung his right arm out to his side, heavily muscled flesh rippled as he caught hold of a mast as he plummeted beside it. His dive turned into a swing and within seconds he was landing on top of a rather scrawny goblin that had had the misfortune to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Morg’s sword flashed in the midday sun, creating an arc of black blood as it bit through the creature’s neck.

The other Orcs quickly saw what was happening and in moments Morg was surrounded by the entirety of the ship’s crew, about a dozen of them, their weapons trained on him, watching him carefully as if he were a trapped animal. He snarled at them,

“I am Morg the Merciless. Who is your leader?”

A Goblin stood forward. He was tall and thin, with a thick scar that ran from the centre of his bald head down through the middle of his face, his chest, ending above the loin cloth that covered his groin,

“I am Garbag the Great, Captain of The Black Bog,” his voice was high pitched and screechy and his teeth were as black as his boat, “I suffer no creature to step foot on my boat without my perm…”

Morg spoke no words. He made a simple movement, a flick of an arm. No-one had time to blink before his dagger sprouted from Garbag’s forehead. Garbag toppled over backwards, hitting the deck with a thump. At last Morg spoke again,

“I am Morg the Merciless. Who is your leader?”
This time a short Goblin stepped forward. This one was squat and broad faced, with a wide toothy smile and small beady eyes full of cunning,

“I am known as Porridge, First Mate of The Black Bog… and YOU are our leader.”

Without prompting, the others spoke up, speaking as one,

“All hail Captain Morg the Merciless! Hail!”
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Posting for Marius

Postby Turelie_Lurea » Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:30 pm

The sands stung man and horse like millions of dive-bombing mosquitoes, taunting them to scratch their already parched skin. But just as quickly as it had arrived, it abated.

Shaking sand from his usually ebony hair, now lightened by the pale particles that clung to it, and gently brushing the sand from Berrog's eyes and nostrils, Marius stood and looked toward the east, where the storm had continued to climb in altitude. Grains of sand still fell around them, but the stinging had ended.

After carefully checking his horse for any sore areas, he mounted and continued to follow the sun on its path toward the west.

Just as the sun began to set, as the daylight white turned golden and the stars anxiously awaited their awakening, the prince from Rohan came across a curious sight: five dragons--three young, two old--shielding a lithe, dark-haired maiden. Pausing for a moment, squinting his brilliant aquamarine eyes, he assessed the situation. Were the dragons truly protecting the woman, or was he in time to save the maiden from an unnecessary sacrifice?

He rode closer, aware that the dragons would now be able to catch his scent. Drawing his mithril sword, Laikemuil, from its sheath, he prepared for the potential attack from the dragons. Berrog snorted, shaking his dark head, his blood pumping with adrenaline. Finally, a fight!

The dragons lifted their heads in unison as the scent of the Rider reached them. Marius knew that it was only a matter of time before they either charged or welcomed him...if it were the former, Laikemuil should be sufficient to dispatch or scatter them. To ensure a friendly encounter if they were protecting the lovely woman--he could tell from a distance that she had a fine figure--he shouted out to them:

"If you be friends of the Rohirrim, I greet you in peace. But if you wish harm upon the lady, let the first of you rush upon my sword of righteousness!"
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Postby PatriotBlade » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:15 pm

Dragon Quest

When the storm finally drifted on, the six companions shook the sand from themselves, and began discussing what to do next. One of the younger dragons flew around until he found a stream, while the two youngest chased and caught several rabbits and large lizards for dinner.

Heather, Cerna, and Tryn decided that they would try traveling by foot for a few days.

As the odd little group was about to eat their meal, all five dragons' heads snapped to attention, their reptilian eyes on a spot in the distance. Heather stood up and shaded her eyes against the glare of the sun and watched the rider approach.

As he neared, the healer heard the ring of a sword being drawn. The sound and light color of the metal made her wonder if it was made of mithril. A rare and odd thing, she thought.

Tryn growled and made ready to pounce while Cerna gathered the little ones under her wings.

Heather thought that there was something familiar about the rider, though she could not place it. "I sense no ill will from him Tryn. Please keep a level head." she whispered to the dragon.

"If you be friends of the Rohirrim, I greet you in peace. But if you wish harm upon the lady, let the first of you rush upon my sword of righteousness!"

A bit full of himself. Tryn thought spoke to her. May I eat him now?

"No, Tryn. Wait here." She reached over her right shoulder to touch the hilt of the ornate dragon katana as she stepped forward and called a greeting in the Rohirrim language. "I greet you, rider, who comes with sword drawn, yet speaking of peace."

The silver blade dropped slightly. "You are of the horse lands, then, Maiden?"

A rueful smile came to her lips at the memories that rushed through her mind.

For the benefit of the dragons, she switched back into the common tongue. "No, but I spent some time there long ago and learned a little of the tongue. If you truly mean no harm to us, then I must ask you to sheath your sword before drawing any nearer, for these dragons have sworn to be my protectors and you are making them uneasy."

She left unsaid that she really didn't want to be bothered with the mess if he didn't heed her.
Last edited by PatriotBlade on Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby prmiller » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:33 am

Final Journeys

For several days, Parm and Willum traveled safe roads and
swiftly arrived at the great carved gates of Edoras, and the much
refurbished and beautified Meduseld. As the pair cantered slowly up the path,
Parm noticed a hooded figure among the barrow-field. The sound of horses up the path
caused the head, bowed in contemplation, to turn to see the source of the early
morning sounds: it was Arahn!

Parm swiftly dismounted and ran, as best as he could, to catch up and embrace his son!
Arahn turned and his face was filled with astonishment, and then a brief dawning of gladness. As soon as this sunshine had shone out from his face, it all too-swiftly clouded. Arahn bowed his head. Parm slowed his run, but moved swiftly to Arahn,
and reached out to lift his chin. Arahn did not resist. When their faces met, both were
wet with tears; Parm out of joy, Arahan out of shame.

"My son, my son!" Parm softly spoke, and doing so embraced a body far less sturdy than when they had last parted.

"You...you are so frail." Parm whispered.
"It is...a long story." Arahn replied, his voice hoarse with emotion.
"Master Parm!" Willum called out. "Are we expected here? Are any waiting for us?"
"Ride on ahead, Willum! Announce to the door wardens that Parm, Bard of Imladris,
has come to reclaim his son, Arahn."
"As you wish, Master Parm." Willum replied, with a eagerness in his voice that hinted
at more joy to enjoy the hospitality of the Golden Hall, than with the joy of the meetings.
"That is Willum, from the Shire." Parm explained.
"I think we have met...briefly. At my...at the...," Arahn's voice trailed off.
"Yes. There." Parm finished the thought, but swiftly changed topics.
"We'll be needing to rest here for several days."
"You'll be more than welcome to stay at Edoras, father." Arahn responded, with a
tremor of anticipation.
"Very well. Edoras it shall be. And Arahn? What is past...is past. Let us enjoy the
day before us. It is the only gift of which we can have some assurance of enjoying."
"Yes." Arahn remarked, and then, more brightly, "Yes! It is a gift, and I, for one,
want to enjoy it with you. They have excellent new beverages in the Hall, Father,
and I warrant you will be one of the first few guests to enjoy other changes to both
the decor and the menu. We have ... good, hot baths."

Parm's face lit up. The thought of a long, warm soak, with an excellent meal to follow was a pleasure he could not deny savoring.
"I think this day has begun well... and it is barely mid-morning."
"Let's go meet the Master of the Hall, Father."

With that, Parm walked alongside of his mount, his arm around Arahn's frailer shoulders, and returned to the road that would lead them to a place of many happier meetings.

Deep in his mind, however, Parm thought he heard laughter. Sharp, derisive laughter.
With a focused sigh, and much practiced bent of mind, Parm silenced the sounds...for the present. They would return, of that Parm was sure, but for now, they were stilled.
Even so, there was still a dark path ahead which Parm knew he would have to travel.
But not today. Today, there would be sun...a father and son had been reunited. It was worthy of a song.
Variations on a theme: winter here in Calgary...and elsewhere?

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Posting for Marius

Postby Turelie_Lurea » Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:32 pm

"I greet you, rider, who comes with sword drawn, yet speaking of peace."

Ah, a melodious voice, he thought. It melds well with her fine figure. He dropped his blade ever so slightly at the accent tinged with the land of Rohan. She at least knew his tongue.

"You are of the horse lands, then, Maiden?"

Even from a distance, he could see that her memories of his land were not altogether pleasant. I will change that, he chuckled inwardly.

Suddenly, she switched back into the common tongue. "No, but I spent some time there long ago and learned a little of the tongue. If you truly mean no harm to us, then I must ask you to sheath your sword before drawing any nearer, for these dragons have sworn to be my protectors and you are making them uneasy."

"Gladly, m'lady," Marius replied, his eyes twinkling. Sheathing his sword, he mounted Berrog. Within moments, he could feel the dragons' breath upon him, but he was unafraid. How many of these beasts had he slain during his youth, when his strength was not a quarter of what it had become?

Gallantly doffing his traveling hat, which was still shimmering with grains of sand, he dismounted and bowed before the lady, sending a shower of sand over his shoulder that fell lightly in front of the snout of one of the dragons.

As he stood straight again, he gave the lady one of his most rakish and charming grins, dimples deepening in each of his well-carved cheeks.

"Marius di Brendar, Prince of Rohan, younger son of King Eomer and Queen Lothiriel, wanderer, warrior, and artist, at your service, beautiful lady." He gently took the dark-haired lady's soft hand and ever-so-slightly brushed his lips upon its back. As he did so, his eyes flicked upward to catch her expression, and the aquamarine in his eyes deepened with his natural sense of mischief.

He could feel her muscles tense at his gesture, gripping her katana even more tightly than before. She began to draw it from its sheath, but with one swift move, he slid it back in, still retaining her hand.

"Beautiful, but deadly. I understand, my fair one. But remember, he who wounded you in the past is not before you now." He was serious for a moment, looking down into Lady Heather's green eyes, eyes that were vibrant with life, yet as ancient as the stones beneath their feet.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:44 pm

A foppish cad, Lady Heather. They usually are quite tasty. Tryn thought spoke, grinning.

Yes, quite full of himself, but no, you may NOT eat him until I say so. the healer replied silently. Aloud, to the rider, she spoke very differently. "I am quite unaccustomed to such proximity, Sir." She gracefully slipped her hand from his as she simultaneously took a step back. "You'll have to forgive me if your sweet words and grand manners are a little much for my sensitivities." the smile that twitched at the corner of her mouth told him that she was truly unmoved by his charms. This woman was not so young and innocent as she looked. She had seen much of the world.

Behind her, Tryn huffed disappointingly as he lowered himself to spread out on the ground.

Cerna snorted her opinion of the Rohirim as she lifted her wings so that the three younger dragons could tumble about.

"Well, I suppose I should introduce you to my party. I am Lady Heather, Journyman Bard and Healer of the Wilds. The grumpy, black watchdog there that wants to eat you is Tryn. The calm one is his sister, Cerna. The two middle sized ones tussling in the dirt are the twins, Serun and Cadri. And last but not least, the littlest one is Rhys."

Upon hearing his name, the youngest dragon bound toward Heather, looking as much like a puppy as a large, winged lizard can. "Did you call me, Lady Heather?" he churruped in thickly accented, but perfectly understandable Common Tongue.
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Postby Hobbituk » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:12 am

“I don’t trust these Orcs…” Kuti said nervously, glancing about the deck of the boat. Following Morg’s unnaturally swift takeover of The Black Bog, having not much else to do, Kuti had taken the long way down the cliffs to the bay and joined the Uruk onboard. Neither the crew of The Black Bog, nor Kuti himself, were happy at this arrangement. The only Gondorians they were used to as passengers were prisoners; to be robbed, ransomed or killed. Although Kuti had spent the best part of the last few months in the company of gruesome Orcs, he knew he would never be comfortable in their presence and as they scurried around the ship on their various tasks he could feel treacherous eyes on the back of his neck.

Morg appeared to be utterly unfazed. In the centre of the deck, several feet behind the wheel was a large wooden chair with a canvas back. This was the Captain’s chair and now belonged to Morg. He took his place without ceremony, as if he had sat there for years. Kuti stood next to him, hoping Morg’s presence would deter the other Orcs from testing the Gondorian’s chain mail with a quick knife in the back.

“You do not need to trust them, Tark,” Morg growled,

“They need only fear me and they will do my bidding. This is the way of my people. Strength and power are our tools; we leave weasel-words and false-valour to Elves and Men.” Morg said this quite matter-of-factly, yet Kuti detected a hint of disappointment in his tone.

Kuti knew that Morg was unusual for an Orc, he had travelled far with him yet even the legends about the Uruk told the same story. Cut off from Mordor and apart from the main strength of the army, Morg had single-handedly kept his troops together when the Dark Lord fell. Whilst all across Middle-Earth the legions of Sauron had scattered and fled to the darkest roots of the mountains, Morg’s Orcs had somehow held their nerves. Morg had then led them far into the East and whispers of the Uruk’s ‘Merciless’ serving as mercenary forces for Eastern Kings had even reached the White City.

Kuti reflected that perhaps Morg wished for minions with backbones.

“All is in order Captain, the ship is… ah… ship shape…” the First Mate Porridge had sidled up. Kuti felt he was the very worst of The Black Bog’s crew. His tiny pointed eyes set in to his large round face were constantly darting around, taking in all around him. His mouth was large and wide, lined with small pointy teeth which seemed to be permanently set in a grin.

That one would gut us in our sleep without a second thought…

“Very well, Mister Porridge,” Morg replied without so much as a glance in his direction, “Why then are we not yet moving?”

“Ah, the Winds, Captain… forever we are at the mercy of the winds. Cruel and treacherous, they are, they are. And…well…”

Morg did turn to look at him now, a glare of quiet rage, “Well what?” he snapped.

“The crew… most marched with Leonir, they did, they did… Garbag…” Porridge turned and spat as he spoke the name of his former master whose body had only been thrown overboard so recently,
“…he gave orders we wait until they returned, he did, he did…”
“Garbag the Fool would have been waiting a long time,” Morg said, “The blood of his former crew now decorates his liege lord’s hall.”
Porridge showed no sign of surprise or remorse; he simply gave a curious nod, bobbing up and down as he did so,
“We shall move as soon as the Winds favour us, Captain…” he said, scurrying off.

Morg turned to look at Kuti, “Do you wish to remain aboard or will you stay on this accursed island? The choice is yours.”

Kuti looked around hopelessly at the strange new company they had found themselves in. Monsters, the lot of them. Unrepentant killers and thieves who would kill and rob him as soon as look at him. Then he looked back at the cliffs of the island, Nilrem’s resting place.

“I shall remain aboard. For a little while.”
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Re: The Hunt for the Bride

Postby prmiller » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:08 am

Parm had travelled from the edges of Lond Daer to Nurn, from Lindon to Rhudaur.
The southern climes of Harad and the wintry wastes of Forodwaith bore Parm's imprint.
Parm had excused himself from one perplexing and knotty adventure
and had been drawn into another. This latter one had drained him of life energy
so profoundly, that a work of elvish wonder was necessary to protect, heal, and
revive him. Near Esgaroth was such a wonder. Protected by a group of caregivers
so secretive, not even Gandalf or Sarumen knew of its existence. It was but
one corner of the labyrinthine mind of Celeborn the Wise and Galadriel,
entrusted to Elrond who had overseen the care and raising of Parm the foundling
to Parm the calligrapher and master poet. It was a chamber of such power,
that it was only to be used in the direst of circumstances. Not even Faramir
in his darkest shadows, nor Lady Eowyn in her grimmest sleep were taken there.
For the elves, though, Parm, and his tale of poignant woes, had held a place of
compassion, and it was Arahn and Willum who pleaded for Parm's life and
renewal in That Most Secret Place, for that was all it was called.

After three long years of waiting, Willum had been alerted by a signal,
deep in the crypt, that Parm was awake. With great eagerness, Willum
sped to find Arahn, the once estranged, and even poisonously rebellious
son, now reconciled and restored to sonship and a responsible position
by the Dalemen. He was a Warder of the Lake. Any and all disturbances
in its great expanse was under his purview. Arahn had only recently
returned from a two-week stint, circling around the Lake. He was
resting a hall that most Dalemen enjoyed. It was into that hall that
Willum sped.

He quickly checked himself, and walked with official briskness, but
not undue haste to stand by Arahn and request a moment of his time.

Arahn excused himself from his companions, rose with Willum, and
stepped into a corner of the hall that dampened any raised voices.
"He is awake, sir! Your father is awake!" Willum spoke in hushed,
but excited tones.

Arahn grasped a beam as if he were about to faint and tears glinted
in his eyes. "At last," he whispered. "Take me. Now." Arahn ordered
quietly but firmly. They both left the hall and the business and
fellowships within it resumed as if only a pebble had disturbed
the expanse of an ocean. The waves of conversations washed over
the sudden interruption as if nothing had happened. For the Dalemen,
it was not unusual to see Arahn come and go. Today was no different.
But not for Arahn.
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The Search for Parm

Postby prmiller » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:56 pm

Arahn had grown into a great man of wisdom and daring. It was to his benefit,
though, that none knew of his grimmer past nor of his relationship to Parm,
the heralded Bard of Imladris. Parm's disappearance had shocked many,
disappointed far more. Many believed he had died; all save, Willum and
Arahn. Willum knew the true extent of the tale of Parm's Passing and Arahn
knew only enough to keep hope alive, however dim.

Willum's appearance itself gave Arahn a renewed joy he had not felt in...years.
It did not take Arahn long to excuse himself from council meetings and civic
responsibilities to take a brief leave of absence along with Willum. The chief
councilman of Dale, a distant ancestor of one of the Wise Ones from
days before the Desolation of Smaug, peered at Arahn long and hard.
"I do not sense your ... leave of absence ... as you call it, is unnecessary,
nor inconveniencing, merely, shall we say, "hasty." A word that Ents
often describe for taking a day, rather than three, to introduce themselves."

Arahn listened, but let no concerns wrinkle brow or eye.

"Very well. We grant you leave. Return to us upon the first blooming
of the apple blossoms in the Shire. That should be a signal to you
to return to us as swiftly as you left. May skies above and the ground
below aid you well."

Arahn bowed, as did Willum, and they left the hall, swiftly swept
down the steps from the Great Hall, mounted horses, and were
off...to a destination that Willum would only reveal upon leaving
the city gates.

The clouded skies broke and sunlight poured on them and around them.
It encouraged both riders greatly.
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Re: The Hunt for the Bride:Arahn's Quest

Postby prmiller » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:12 pm

Without Willum, Arahn might very well have starved. Arahn was handy enough; strong enough, too.
He was misguided muscle, however, as Willum watched him hack branches fruitlessly for
fuel, carry great stones for a fire pit, and attempted to roast meat over an overly-smoky fire.
It was probably the poor-roasting meal that most roused him from playful chuckling to
reluctant rebukes.

"Oh, Arahn, lad. Here. Let me give ya ma seat and then, mark you,
see what ought to be done." Guiding Arahn to a nearby stump, Willum
grasped Arahn's well-muscled forearm and helped him to sit, and not
without protest and glowering looks. Then Willum took over. Arahn
was astonished by Willum's careful tending of the coals and the
patience he had to gather firewood and use well-aimed strokes
of his fair-sized axe to split logs and deftly bring down well-dried
tree-limbs. Willum took advantage of his height and strength
to work wonders. Arahn sat in silent awe. It was a good lesson for
him to set aside whatever remaining doubts he had about Willum's
ability to be a travelling companion. In fact, Arahn swallowed enough
pride to ask Willum questions that were answered without disdain
nor pride. Willum simply...knew.

From meal to well-laid mattresses and then welcome sleep,
Arahn smiled in dreams...good dreams. Dreams that beckoned him
to future hope and present encouragement. It has been so very long
since Arahn had ever known such restedness. When he awoke he
felt as though decades of dreariness had fallen from him. He felt
both refreshed and restored in soul. What a good friend Willum had
become.

The journey ahead was not without some hazards. Mainly misteps
by the horses along paths that saddened Willum because of their disrepair.
"I once saw these in their glory...if ever that were possible," Willum sighed.
"Were these important roads, then?"
"Not important, but valued. Wagons of wares ta towns yonder traveled
these ole roads."
"...and armies."
"Aye," Willum shook his head remembering, " them, too. My distant
cousins and uncles could coax out a song or two about this here place.
I'm more of the one who'll clap, cheer, and call fer anither round."
Willum laughed. It was a good belly laugh. Hearty and full of happy
memory.
Arahn simply smiled broadly and noisely chuckled along. He was
also eyeing the gathering storm clouds and wondering. Willum was
already several steps ahead.
"Here we are," he announced, as though he had happened upon this
place as a plan. "This spot looks perfect for the night. It was a
well-sheltered cave. To Arahn, though, the sight of it caused him
to shudder, not out of fear, but out of remembrance.
"Look," he pointed. On a nearby rock, was the mark of a "P" rune,
and three wavy lines. "That is Parm's sign," Arahn swallowed.
"It ain't fresh, that's fer certun. It looks old and well-worn."
"I would venture a guess that Parm travelled these parts, but whether
coming or going, alone or with others, I don't know."
Willum frowned at the runes. "They are the old and angry Parm.
The lines aren't deep, but aye, so sharp...as though he was stabbing
the earth...angry at life...hatin' it and fearin' it at the same time,
it looks like."
"This must be a good place, then for Parm to settle here. He was not
one for roughing it or forgoing creature comforts," Arahn commented.
"Truer words never spoke, young sir. Lookit there," Willum noted.
Further inside, was a long cot, fashioned out of twined branches
and laid with what looked like fur. The fur was well-beyond giving
warmth, but the leather beneath stretched tightly across the bed.
"Parm did like to have his beds," Arahn observed straining his eyes
to see as the afternoon light was dimming from gathering clouds.
"We'd best get horses, packs, and provisions near us. We are in
for quite a storm, I think. Yessir, quite the storm," Willum warned.
It was, indeed, a most excellent cave and superior shelter.
It was also a great gift for what was to come.
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The Search for Parm

Postby prmiller » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:54 pm

Willum had seen lightning of many kinds.
Arahn had known ship-wrenching storms.
Neither had seen a storm of this type before.
It was almost as if the entire sky was enraged
and in mourning. Their cave was sheltered from the
nova-bursting brightness of the lightning bolts that
broke in the skies above. Their ears, however,
we not so protected. At one point, Arahn found
some fur and cloth and fashioned some protection
for both of them. The rain that followed underscored
the sorrow that rippled through the night. Willum felt
as if a thousand thousand tormented souls had gathered
their keening voices together and wept and cried through
the night. Had they looked into the sky, they would have
been shocked to see what looked to be a myriads of faces
in torment and despair. It was also the stunning brevity of
the storm that made it memorable. When the dead of night
had passed, so too, passed the storm.
"Willum," Arahn framed his questioned tentatively, "could that
have been...a...sign?"
"There are so many ancient and unfathomable mysteries about
this part of Middle-Earth young Arahn, that even the wisest of
the Istari called it "the Imponderable Place. You will remember
that not far from here, the Necromancer was first discovered,
and the fountainhead of evil that poisoned Mirkwood."
"So many years ago, and yet...still fresh."
"I doubt we shall ever really be free of it until the end of all days."
"Willum, have you ever met anyone linked to those tales?"
"Ah, dear Arahn, your own father, Parm, is one of those links.
You know his lineage, his dark legacy. He is as much a child of
those bygone years as the name "Baggins."
"Well, after that storm, I feel the need of rest more than ever."
"And feel the need to fill some corners."
With that, Willum surprised Arahn once more as he coaxed out
a fire from dried bracken and bits of unsoaked tree limbs. It was
not long before a generous fire was going, and more embers
prepared for a spit and a bit of mutton Willum had stashed into
their stores." Good old Willum," thought Arahn. Who better to
join you on an adventure than a woodlands-seasoned hobbit.
As grim a night as it had begun, it then slipped with gentle grace
into a restful and healing one. Well-warmed, well-fed,
the two settled into wraps and blankets for much-longed for
rest. The blessings of Galadriel seemed to settle on them, for
it became a night they would long remember as the night of
the Good Rest.
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