Caravan to Khand ~ Please see OOC Thread First

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

Postby Ronnan » Wed Jun 19, 2002 5:42 pm

<b>This is a continuation on from the Inn of the Desert Moon thread, hosted by Eriu. Please see that thread for background detail and the OOC Thread to sign-up, ask questions, post comments - no exceptions to this request.</b><BR><BR>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<BR><BR>The sun shimmered over sands that danced and shifted with the weak wind. Sand rose and fell into the horizon, ongoing and seemingly endless. So much so that even the undulation seemed the same. The sky was a merciless, unclouded blue that seemed to sizzle. There were no trees, the only shadow cast by that of a neighbouring dune. The heat seemed to distort the vision, shimmering and shining. Through this unforgiving landscape traced a trail. It was packed hard by centuries of use. The desert sands may shift around it, but the trail remains. It is maintained out of necessity, for to loose the trail is to face almost certain death in the crucible of the desert.<BR><BR>Along this trail snaked a caravan, 25 camels in all. 15 were roped to each other and laden with carefully wrapped and secured burdens. Spices, teas, coffees, flour, material, oils, dried fruits, honey, and a store of gold. Haradrim men expertly tended the argumentative and rebellious beasts, keeping them moving in their smooth and rolling gait, ignoring the bellows and spitting of their charges. Another 7 camels bore the supplies of the caravan. Tents, carpets, cooking gear, fuel, water, food and clothing. Men rode these camels, resting from their shift of tending the laden beasts in front of them. These too were Haradrim, and as they rode, they maintained a steady watch on the dunes and horizons, watching for raiding nomads, sign of oasis, or desert storm. The dangers were many, constant and unpredictably random. The unwary died.<BR><BR>On one of the three camels at the front of the caravan rode a Haradrim, Kronar his name, Scorpion his tribe. The caravan was his. Like his tribesmen behind him, he wore the bright red desert robes. Gold gleams at his wrists, and charcol or brown eyes burned over the tops of the scarves acorss their faces. Beneath the cowls was black hair, oiled to keep the sand out, and heavily muscled bodies, forged strong in the battle for survival and conquest in their harsh environments. Their skin was heavily tanned and expressions grim, uncompromising. Their vivid red robes fluttered around them, keeping the sun from them, letting the air in to cool their skins. Weapons shone at their hips and back. Axes, scimitars, wickedly barbed daggers. Each Haradian walked or rode with their blades openly shown and easily to hand should nomads attack.<BR><BR>Behind Kronar rode two others, on camels like he, rode two other figures. One was taller than the other men, a Numenorian from Umbar, with long hair that fell in sun streaked brown dreadlocks down his back. His paler skin was tanned, but his eyes were a clear, strange, intense grey. Unlike the Haradrim, he wore the gear of his Black Numenorian people, the usurpers. A sword instead of a scimitar, and his desert robes were black instead of red. The men eyed his distinctive figure sullenly, quietly. Black Numenorians carried much power with the Dark Lord, and each resented it with a burning hatred that had been nurtured over the centuries since they first appeared in their strange ships along the coast. But this hatred was also carefully banked and concealed, brooding in the background, at the depths of their Haradian hearts and revealed only amongst themselves, around tribal fires.<BR><BR>The third figure was a starker contrast again. Indigo robes fluttered, pale blue sheer silk occasionally revealing a glimpse of pale and creamy skin. Despite the robes, the rider was unmistakenly a woman, her sleek, feminine form, curving beneath the fine linen and silk. A veil covered the lower half of her face, but above it the fine bridge of her nose was visible, high cheekbones, two wide eyes of swirling colour watched the desert pass, and a smooth and high brow disappeared beneath her head covering. Curls escaped the cowl, silver talismen attached to the ends of the luxurious copper strands that gleamed in the sunlight. Those talismen and the silver belt of beaten discs that girdled her hips marked her as a desert dancer. Silver bracelets, begemmed spoke of her exceptional talent, for only men well pleased with her services would bestow such rare and expensive gifts.<BR><BR>This dancer too drew the attention of the men. The Numenorian held her possession, his services to defend the caravan from attack purchased in large part by the dancer's presence. He rode next to her, and the occassional touches he allowed himself showed his ownership clearly. The Haradian men often examined the horizon that surround where she rode, noting the curves of her body as she rode the camel with her inherent grace. If she felt their attention, she gave no sign of it. Her eyes were properly downcast, she did not appear unsettled. She rode serenely, the epitome of a dancer's mysterious calm, physical presence, seductiveness and power. She carried no weapon, for it was forbidden for dancers to bear arms, but the woman needed none, for she exerted a powerful influence on those around her, including Kronar.<BR><BR>He would often shift and twist to look back at the caravan, dragging his eyes over the dancer. The sun rose to midday, and a halt was called for water and food. It was the first midday halt on what would be between a 3 and 5 day trek to their destination in Khand, and already the tensions were simmering, having started the night before. The dangers in the desert were many, but not all of them came from without, and the worst came from those with which you travelled...
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Postby elora » Wed Jun 19, 2002 6:16 pm

<i>Naiore was more than grateful for the called stop. Camels were very different from horses, and she was eager for the opportunity to loosen tight muscles. She slipped from the unusual saddle when her camel settled into a seated position and stood in the shade it offered. Lifting a hand to shield her eyes, she combed the horizon and looked back down the caravan. The men were busy securing the camels. One was working at the front of her own. He walked past her, too close, eyes raking her and she dropped her gaze as he passed. Once he had moved on, she swallowed an uneasy feeling and walked around to where Canamir stood. Better she reinforce that she was owned, repugnant concept that it was, by Canamir.<BR><BR>Tucking her hair back beneath the cowl, the rising wind chimed the silver discs at her hips and the Numenorian glanced down at her with his silvery eyes. She let her gaze meet his in a flash and then he looked away, his guard never dropping. Sitting still like this made them am attractive target, although she suspected they were too close to the city still for raiders to chance it. Kronar joined them, a broad hand resting on the haft of his axe. His presence jolted her, remembering the duties of a desert dancer whilst travelling in a caravan. She returned to her camel and retrieved a water skin which she brought back to Canamir. Offering it to him, her voice was smooth and calm.</i><BR><BR>My lord? Do you desire water?<BR><BR><i> After the night spent at the inn, Naiore knew she was very thirsty still. A smile tugged at her lips beneath her veil, the memory of Canamir's use of her services still burning within her and on her skin. She held the skin towards him, remembering such things and becoming thirstier by the moment. But her duty as a desert dancer was to offer water to each of the men before she slaked her own thirst. And a desert dancer she was, for if she was not that then she would be known for who she is and her work undone.</i>
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Postby Aurandir » Thu Jun 20, 2002 7:02 pm

Aurandir bared his face to the sun, soaking up the warmth. It felt good on his skin, the gentle rays caressing his tanned flesh. He remembered his first desert sunburn. It had not been pleasant. Inwardly he shuddered at the remembrance of the pain and impossibility of sleeping on a burned back and stomach. Turning to lighter thoughts, he listened to the chanter. Chanters usually were common people who sang to uplift their fellows on a trip or something of the like. The words clashed harshly on his ears, and he wished he was in his old homeland, Adanicille, with it’s softer language and more civilized customs. He was a far way from home though. Not that it really was home. Just a passing resting place. Nothing would ever compare to Beleriand. <BR><BR><i>Beleriand, Beleriand,<BR>lost beneath the waves,<BR>shall I ever walk your sands again<BR>or on your beauty gaze?<BR></i><BR>He ran over the words to the Lament of Loss in his mind, an old lay composed after the sinking of Beleriand and added onto ever since. No one had really contributed in a long time though. His brethren were all leaving, all going over the sea, away to their right home, from whence many had originated. Why am I in such a morose mood?, he asked himself. All his thoughts had taken a sorrowful turn. He smiled at himself. Stop wallowing in self-pity! Rudely, he was jerked out of his thoughts by the slowing of the camel. Caravan stop, he said to himself. Stiffly he got off the camel. Dreadful, nasty creatures. Horses were far superior in almost every possible way. He walked up to the head of the caravan and sought out Elora. By the Throne of Illuvatar he had been amazed when he had seen her! In a desert dancer’s silks, for all that. He did not doubt Elora’s intentions though. By no flight of fancy could she be imagined to have abandoned her senses and husband, no mind could conjure up the thought, and believe it, of the Guardian becoming a common exotic dancer, no matter what the barbarians liked to call them. He saw her tall form beside some other man, serving water. Her companion seemed to be a Black Numenorean. Quietly he sidled up to her. Softly he whispered quickly to her.<BR><BR><i>”Elora we must talk sometime. Tell me when, I shall be there.”</i> Stepping out in front of her, he raised his voice to a commanding tone. <i>”Woman! By the Dark Throne, give me water!”</i> As he spoke, he looked deep into her fathomless eyes, and accepted the water with a nod of thanks.
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Postby elora » Thu Jun 20, 2002 7:31 pm

<i>First Canamir accepted the water with a touch of her grey eyes, and then Kronar demanded his share, staring hard at her. Tempting though as it was to paint another expression on the Haradrim's face, her oath and overriding duty forbade it and so she compliantly turned to where Aurandir waited and swallowed. She nodded slightly, talismen chiming in her loose curls,</i><BR><BR>Tonight, by the camels as I ready for the meal and required dancing, if you will.<BR><BR><i>His voice thundered in a tone worthy of any in this land towards a dancer, and she smiled faintly behind her veil in approval that he would act so wisely. He returned the skin to her and she dropped her gaze, as befitting, and turned to work her way through the caravan. Hard voices, intent eyes, hands that seemed placed in such a way as to neither be proper nor improper. This gauntlet she ran, tamping back hard on the urge to permanently attach the tribesmen to the camels they so resembled in their behaviour. She did not speak, unless it was to offer a demure,</i><BR><BR>Water, my lord?<BR><BR><i>Very few actually trod over the tenous line of honour, but the questions concerning her patron were not rare.</i><BR><BR>I am retained, my lord, by the Lord Canamir for this journey.<BR><BR><i>And saying no more she would move on. The water skin was emptied, and no burden to carry back to one of the camels that bore their supply of the precious liquid. The wind tugged at her robes, peeling them back to reveal the dancer's silks beneath and the stares that brought were more scalding than the sun overhead. But, she maintained the dancer's serene gait and manner in sharp contrast to that around her. The camels were far from hospitible, and the light was sharp and glaring in the midday heat. But dancers were like a pool of peace and calm amidst this and she returned to stand slightly behind Canamir. He remained with Kronar and Aurandir, but she was concentrating not on their conversation. Instead, Naiore was concentrating on what would happen in Khand, and how to keep her cover on the way there.</i>
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Postby Ronnan » Thu Jun 20, 2002 10:54 pm

Kronar left the Numenorian to his search of the horizon, watching Naiore as she walked amongst the men and camels, the sway of her hips, the glimpse of vibrant hair, guazy cerulean silk exposed when the winds pried. He was not the only one who noticed her either. He saw the men, and the expressions on their faces as she passed them by. They had not had the chance to experience her presence before they left the inn. But now... now they could see and sense what he had in that dark alley the night before as she was scuffling with a soldier in the dirt. He settled a suspicious gaze on the other northerner, appraising whether he would be trouble or not.<BR><BR>The dancer made her rounds and returned to stand where she should. Kronar became uneasy sitting still for so long and he let a distinctive whistle go. The men behind him knew the signal and already looked to resume their work. With a sneer, he saw to informing the infidels that accompanied them.<BR><BR><i>We continue now!</i><BR><BR>Each settled into their saddles once more and the camels were soon plodding away in their curious gait. The newcomer continued to fight the roll of the beast. He would pay the price tonight when his muscles were too tight to allow him to walk. Like as not Canamir would not release his dancer to ease his discomfort. The dancer swayed with the beast beneath her, and Canamir maintained his steady silence as the caravan made its way through the afternoon. The sun was sinking fast, as it does in the desert, when Kronar permitted the caravan to halt. They had reached the first camp site.<BR><BR>It was flatter ground, and water had been tapped by a well that was covered from the stealing sun's fingers. He slid from his saddle as men started unloading the tents, picketing the camels and arranging for their fodder and water. No sooner had the dancer's feet touched the cooling sands did he speak in a commanding voice.<BR><BR><i>We will take food in my tent this night. Bring it to us there. The northerners will join me!<BR><BR>Replace the water also, woman, and keep us waiting not unless you wish to be left to be flayed alive by the sands!<i><BR><BR>He moved off, setting guards and watches as the camp started to take shape around them. His tribesmen would sleep together, in two tents. As leader, he had his own, a large and spacious tent with carpets to keep the sand at bay. On each side were pitched the tents the two men would use, and across from all those three was Naiore's.<BR><BR>Two individuals more than pleased to find the air at last cooling were Kert and Dulrain. The two had been wrestling with their hastily accquired transportation as well as trying to stay out of sight. Kert grumbled as he grappled with the camel that seemed possessed by Sauron himself. The loathsome creature hissed and spat a noxious smelling ooze at him as he staked it. Resisting the urge to knock some respect into the creature he muttered again,<BR><BR><i>How much did these demons cost us?<BR><BR>"Two silver coins."<BR><BR>Two silver coins too much, I'd say.<BR><BR>"They were cheap, sir."<BR><BR>And now we know why, don't we Dulrain.</i><BR><BR>Dulrain decided his commanding officer was not in need of a reply, as they'd had this conversation before. Instead, he staked out his monster and followed Kert to where he lay below the ridge. Below them a camp was springing up with remarkable efficency. Fires were light, figures walked about. The echoes of their voices and the calls of their own camels floated out to them. Those bearing the goods were picketed and placed under a heavy guard, archers and swordsmen taking up the watch over the profits. Kert searched those he could see, trying to pick out the troublesome woman that was the reason they were in this forsaken place. She was identifiable by her gait amongst the men, and the ripples she created as she moved about.<BR><BR>His sense of foreboding built. He knew camps of men. He knew how dangerous they could be for groups of women, much less a lone woman... and Elora was posing as a desert dancer which meant she had to be approachable and available and could not take refuge in the weight of custom, honour and law.<BR><BR><i>I don't like this, Dulrain.<BR><BR>"I don't think anything will happen tonight, sir."<BR><BR>We'll be fortunate indeed if that is the case, but our fortune will not hold indefinately. That camp is a powder keg, and the brand to light it is walking about down there.</i><BR><BR>Dulrain sighed heavily, watching Elora and his instincts agreeing with Kert.<BR><BR><i>I'll take first watch, sir. If anything amiss occurs, I'll wake you.</i>
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Postby Eriu » Fri Jun 21, 2002 11:11 pm

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Postby elora » Sat Jun 22, 2002 2:11 am

<i>Naiore departed to refresh the water, walking through the cooling night as stars blazed to life over the desert's canvas. The camp was coming into life behind her, and she pondered what this night may hold for her, Canamir and Aurandir. There were very much alone and surrounded here... and one slip against custom and honour could turn the entire situation into a disaster. She filled the water skins as she thought, the sound of men's voices and the protests of camels carrying to her clearly. Tempting as it was to remain longer at the covered well, there was a meal to prepare and a glance back to the camp showed that the tents were up and fires made ready.<BR><BR>She collected up the water skins, turning northward to gaze at the horizon. If Mordor knew what she was up to... if a tribesman saw through her guise... still, the best cover is sometimes in the open and she was certainly exposed and she could set this aside after what she had learnt. Upon returing to camp, Naiore found that the cooking gear and supplies had been left for her by the main camp fire. Men walked about, talking, stood guard or lounged in the shadows. Ignoring the press of their eyes, she began to ready the evening meal. Aurandir would hopefully find her and help her answer the riddle of his presence. She set the meat to absorb the rich spices that bubbled around it and the rice was soon plumping.<BR><BR>There was little else to do... but prepare herself for the meal. She left the food to simmer and chose the refuge of her tent to do that. It was large enough for her needs, and her pack had not been riffled through. She cast the desert robes aside, and replaced her sandy veil with a cerulean blue one to match the dancers silks that were beneath the darker robes. She smoothed her hair, ensuring the talismen had endured both Canamir during the night and morning, and the desert during the day. As she turned to go, she realised the dusky light within the tent cast her shadow onto a far wall and that was something to remember. When she emerged in the night air, she shivered lightly and returned to the fire for warmth and to check on the food.<BR><BR>Freed of the heavier desert robes, the bells chimed with the silver in her hair once again on the night wind, but not loudly enough to block the whispers. She sighed and concentrated on a dancer's duty. To comfort her patron, see to all his needs and those of his companions as he directed. The light of the flames rippled over her skin, silks and hair, and she watched the shadows for Aurandir.</i>
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Postby Ronnan » Sun Jun 23, 2002 10:12 pm

Kronar watched the dancer go about her duties with her smooth grace. She faded into the twilight as she went to retrieve water, and he was not the only one that looked after her, eyes drawn by the sway of her hips. Canamir bestirred himself, observing the preparations being made for the nightly stop. Nomads never attacked by night, so it was common theives, raiders and enemy tribes that were their main security concerns. The measures being taken were ample for that. Meanwhile the other northerner had kept to himself and could not be found. Kronar's tent was the first to be put up, and all was arranged in a matter of minutes. Once readied, he spoke tersely to the Numenorian,<BR><BR><i>We have things to discuss before the evening's meal and entertainment.</i><BR><BR>Entering the tent, he threw his meagre pack onto the bedding in a corner and watched as two men set a fire in a prepared pit. It was ringed by stones and carpets and cushions provided so that they could sit comfortably for the evening. Kronar assumed the cushion that held the prime position, able to view through the door and take in all the tent. Canamir settled his tall frame into one directly across from him. Without preamble, the tribesman began as soon as the two others had finished with the fire.<BR><BR><i>What will you do with the matters we discussed last night?</i><BR><BR>He made effort to lower his voice and Canamir sent an assessing grey gaze his way. Over his shoulder, Kronar saw Naiore return and begin work over the fire. As ever, she moved with an assurance and grace that was far beyond that he had ever witnessed in desert dancers, even those of his lords, and his lord's lords. Returing his attention to the Numenorian, Kronar saw that the man remained steadfastly silent, almost a challenge. That he would challenge him in his own tent before his own fires angered Kronar, but he could wait. They were too close to the city for him to act just yet. With a snort of disgust, he ended the tense silence.<BR><BR><i>Very well then, play your games paleskin. We will see what it wins you. Whatever it is that you are up to, fail in your duty and I will stake you out and leave you for the sun and ants to finish myself.</i><BR><BR>Kronar stood suddenly, watching with satisfaction as Canamir's hand instintively moved to his sword hilt with fluid speed. Smiling mockingly, he discarded his dusty robes and stalked to the door to the tent to pull the flaps apart. He saw that Naiore had left her fire, and a group of men were standing to the side of her tent, agog and staring at the silhouette she created within. He smiled, knowing what it was they were appreciating. He barked to those that waited idle and fascinated by feminine curves,<BR><BR><i>Find the other stranger and have him brought to my tent. He eats with us, and he is not permitted near the camels without a guard.</i><BR><BR>One nodded and with a wistful gaze at the tent, moved off to let the others know. The rest stayed there until Naiore returned to her fire, and the whispers that greeted her were loud. Depsite the offers and propositions to share their fires and warm their tents, the dancer remained silent, a cool elegance that was in sharp contrast to the fire of her pride, her dance and her temper that he had witnessed personally. Smiling, Kronar returned to his position on the carpets in his tent, lounging indolently back as he grinned at the Numenorian.<BR><BR><i>You had best watch your chattel's, northerner. It seems I am not the only one who appreciates the rare beauty that is your dancing woman. It would be best if she attended you in here rather than being left to the company of my men outside. To dangle her in front of them is a dangerous ploy.<BR><BR>She would be safer where you can see her, watch her, rather than out there... and the evening far more pleasant for her entertainment.</i><BR><BR>Canamir's gaze narrowed slightly, as Kronar had anticipated it would. The man was possessive with the woman he had named a "slut", and that was before he had passed a night with her. Kronar knew what he had heard, and it was not the sound of a man displeased with his dancer's comforts. That the man did not spring from his seat on the carpet and race outside to have at the other men was remarkable. It showed considerable restraint, a fact that Kronar noted. It always was wise to study the man you planned to kill. But where was the other one, the new damned northerner? He needed to study him too.
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Jun 25, 2002 9:01 am

Aurandir made his way to the middle of the caravan, where they, or Elora, were making the meals. Naiore, he reminded himself. That's what they call her. He ignored the looks the dark skinned foreigners gave him as he walked by. However much they disliked him, they would respect him if he ever fought one of the damn Mords. Little dark skinned barbarians. As he came closer, he smelled the savory spices flavoring the evening meal. Haradrim food was as hot as the desert sands at mid-day. As well as being extremely delicious. Aurandir soon espied Elora---Naiore that is, near one of the warm fires. How to get her alone was the question. He sat and thought about what he knew of desert dancers. <i>Fruitless thinking Aurandir</i>, he said to himself. What he did not know would fill a book. Then he smiled. It would obviously work. After all, that was what dancers were for, was it not? And her host, the Numenorian, would not be a problem. As long as he avoided the man, all would be fine. Injecting confidence into himself, he walked into the meal area. He had to tread carefully here, both literally and figurtively. In a few steps he was by her side at the fire. Smoothly he draped his arm about her waist and spoke to her loudly enough to let only the nearest of the Haradrim hear.<BR><BR><i>"Dancer of the Sands, your master has given you to me for the night in return for services done. Come with me, and do my bidding."</i><BR> <BR> Aurandir fervantly hoped that would do to satisfy customs about taking some other man's property. It sounded ritualistic eough. Naiore looked at him, but he did not return the glance. Instead he gazed ahead, steering her out of the area and toward his tent at the other end of the camp. Sadistic little Kronar probably hoped that if a party of raiders attacked he would get killed first. Such a pleasant host he thought wryly to himself. He said nothing to Naiore until he had reached his tent, where there was no fire to cast silhouettes. Then he turned and spoke to her in a mock solemn tone.<BR><BR><i>"Welcome, Lady of the Sands, to my humble place. Your master has given me you for the night. Let us... talk of many things."</i> He smiled and waved her inside. In hushed tones he talked to her. <i>"First, I will explain why I am here. Then I would ask you to do the same."<BR><BR>“How to begin? Ahem. Long ago, after the Downfall of Numenor, some Faithful went not with Elendil, but with a man called Romendil. Both had sought to be the de facto leader of the Elendili, and, in the end, Elendil had more support. Angry, in three ships Romendil set sail, with his closest friends and most loyal supporters. They headed south, to the uttermost south. Think of it this way. Take Mordor. Go south, to the Variags of Khand and the Haradrim. Then go farther south, where nomadic tribes roam and tribes swear allegiance and troops over to the Dark Lord. Father south still, where Sauron’s spies almost never go and his rule is weak. Then farther south, where that blackest of all names is never heard, nor whispered. Indeed, they have never heard of him. South of all that they went, and settled. They mixed with the local clans, civilized them, and a culture both North and South was formed. Adanicille is the land, and one day I came to it."</i><BR><BR>He stirred into a more comfortable position and continued.<BR><BR><i>"I had lived in the various Elven lands for roughly half of the Second Age when a desire to travel seized me. To the Farthest East I went, and there I saw many wonders, strange and beautiful. Afterwards, my feet turned south, where much was bare, and then east again. Thus I came to their land, making a large circle about this continent. It is a long story, but to make it short I eventually became the Lord Regent, until the ruling family decided to improve itself. By that time I had an excellent spy network all over the South. My friends like to tell me even the littlest things, and when I heard a pale skinned Westron had crossed the borders of Harad, I pricked up my ears. She was exceptionally wondrous and fair the man told me, and eyes that shimmered like the rainbow. So I left Adanicille, without any pangs, for the desire to be on my own again had once more tugged at my heart. As I came closer, my messanger hawks kept relaying information to me. Nothing was heard of you until I reached the prison town of Hazann, the logical stop as I was on a ship. There I learnt this woman was in the general area of Umbar. I sped my boat along and finally came to the Port of Umbar. After checking every inn, I finally came to the Desert Moon and spent a pleasant night there. In the morning, I signed up with the master of a caravan to go traveling. Needless to say, I was surprised in the extreme to see you."</i><BR><BR>Aurandir leaned back and settled his eyes on her.<BR><BR><i>"Now what brings you here, arrayed as an instrument of pleasure which satisfies the lusts of men? Not quite the usual dressing mode, is it now?"</i> He smiled at her, a twinkle in his odd eyes.
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Postby elora » Tue Jun 25, 2002 2:40 pm

<i>Elora actually blushed at the question, glancing down at the silks to reassure herself that nothing too dangerous was revealed by their precarious and treacherous cover. How on earth was she going to manage this? Aurandir was still smiling, and she let her veil fall to one side to smile back at him. So Turin had traded her had he, again! When this was done she would have a very long discussion with her husband over the matter of trading one's wife about like a second hand goat. But she did not have long before they would be missed and so, in a voice pitched for Aurandir alone she started as best she can.</i><BR><BR>I would think it no surprise that I need go quietly in these lands. My open invitation to anything south of Gondor was retracted some time ago. This is the only guise that allows me to move freely and without a keeper observing everything I do or see.<BR><BR>I am here to right a wrong, and I am seeking a way to those that suffer needlessly. I do this for I swore to, and I would see hope live in the south. There has been unrest amongst those that quest for that elusive dream, they pay a dreadful penalty. I will see it end or I am not who I am.<BR><BR><i>It was as simple as that. Khor's people suffered because they hungered for freedom. She had sworn to that man that she would do all that was in her power to deliver it. She could be nowhere else but where she was. Her grave expression lightened a litte with mischief.</i><BR><BR>Besides, I always travel so in the south... and I have a reputation now?<BR><BR>[I}She fixed Aurandir with a look that should have alarmed him, for she was up to no good.</i><BR><BR>Tell me, what value did my ... master... set on this night?<BR><BR><i>There was an awkward pause, and Elora pounced.</i><BR><BR>I knew it. He gave me away for free. There is much I need to discuss with Lord Canamir about the delicate art of trading dancers.<BR><BR><i>She smiled somewhat wickedly and then sobered.</i><BR><BR>You are expected to share the evening meal with my master and Kronar. You cannot miss it. There is something afoot with him... I cannot miss it.<BR><BR>So, my discoverer of this wondrous land in the south, you must inform me of what comfort may be given before the meal calls us both away. <BR><BR><i>Elora knew she really should not toy like this with Aurandir. Afterall, he was a friend and had done no harm and she was pleased indeed to find another friend on the trail. But her cover was crucial, and should Kronar discover just who she was then she could well endanger those she cares about. Aurandir's eyes had widened, and she smiled and softened it as she reattached her veil with,</i><BR><BR>And after the meal, I would know more of this land as I am given to you this night.<BR><BR>Please, my lord... how may I serve?<BR><BR><i>It was Naiore, desert dancer, that bowed fluidly before Aurandir, bells and talismen chiming.</i>
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Jun 25, 2002 4:53 pm

Aurandir's eyes widened a bit in surprise. <i>Naiore certainly enjoys her job</i> he thought dryly. He reflected though that it was wise. He did not trust a person in this camp, excepting Elora, out of his sword circle. Anyone could be spying on them. He raised an eyebrow at her and said,<BR><BR><i>"Desert dancer's are a rarity for me. Normally I do not partake of their many talents. Yet you are an exception. Dance then for me, and maybe later we may do more."</i><BR><BR>He grinned archly at her and added, <BR><BR><i>"And mind you don't hit the lights."</i>
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Postby elora » Tue Jun 25, 2002 5:35 pm

<i>She was tempted to thump him for daring suggest she could be so clumsy. The thought must have sparked in her gaze for Aurandir seemed a little uncertain. Instead though, she intoned in a smooth and melodious voice someting more befitting of Naiore.</i><BR><BR>I trust that I shall please you, my lord. I chose a dance of life, for I see life shines brightly from thee.<BR><BR><i>His brow furrowed and she smiled mysteriously before calling to her memory the dance she would perform for Aurandir. She let the feel of the dance wrap around her and the silvery chime of bells shimmered through the softly lit tent. Sending her senses questing towards the dunes, Elora sensed the very rhythm and pulse of life and let it speak through her in movement. Delicate blue silk hung suspended in the air as she moved, swaying and undulating like the shifting dunes that stretched for miles around the camp. Like a palm tree that shaded the oasis, the soothing balm of water on hot lips, the cycling of day and night, winter and summer, the chase of life through the sands amidst all this...<BR><BR>Naiore moved around the tent and Aurandir, hips, legs, arms executing a dance that was as liquid in it's grace as it was filled with the exuberance and energy of life that fueled it. He was surrounded by a storm of silk, hair, silver and skin and she filled the very tent with her presence as her feet and hands found their way through the ancient forms. Through it all, she kept her ever swirling gaze locked on Aurandir, compelling him to experience that which she told of, drawing his senses into the dance with her. She did not knock the lights, and her shadow danced over the tent walls, chasing her as she danced lightly over the sand and carpets.<BR><BR>As with all things, dance and life, she had to end. The tent had filled with the scent of her perfume as her skin had heated, so that even though the dance had ended, she still lingered in the smallest of corners like a memory or a ghost of what was. Outside, men muttered about the Black Numenorian who only saw fit to share his dancer with another northerner. Naiore came to rest as proper before Aurandir, kneeling and bent forward, hair splayed in copper tumbles across the carpet. Custom dictated that she could not rise until she was given leave and so she remained, skin damp and gathering her breath as she awaited Aurandir's bidding. </i><BR><BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Jun 25, 2002 6:08 pm

Aurandir watched as Naiore danced, enchanted at the sight of her. She was truly beautiful, in every sense of the word. Her fluid grace and true passion enhanced her already beautiful qualities. She was... remarkable. It was hard to explain. Eventually the dance ended and she knelt before him, her copper colored hair spilling over the carpeted floor, breathing hard after the exertion. By Eru's Throne! He could not stop admiring her beauty!<BR><BR><i>"You may rise Naiore."</i><BR><BR>As she stood up, her chest slightly heaving, he got off the floor and stood also. <BR><BR><i>"Thank you", </i>he said softly. <i>"Now let us go to the evening meal. Our respective hosts are waiting."
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Postby elora » Tue Jun 25, 2002 6:51 pm

<i>Getting her feet, she smiled from behind her veil and nodded in agreement. Emerging from the tent, the coolness of the night air struck her skin and pushed through her silks.</i><BR><BR>Thankyou, my lord. I will see to the meal now, with your leave.<BR><BR><i>They walked back towards the main tent and the fire, Aurandir making for the tent and she for the fire. A tribesman trusted enough by Kronar had already readied the plates and crockery within. A final check of what simmered over the coals showed it to be ready. Elora ladeled it into exotically glazed dishes. There were three in total. One held the plump rice, another held a spiced meat dish thick and rich with coconut milk and the third held a range of vegetables, tomatoes, raisins, zuchinnis and the like shrouded in spices. The one entrusted with seeing to Kronar's personal needs stepped forward to cast a critical eye over what she had prepared. He nodded and set each on a tray that he bore into the tent.<BR><BR>Upon following him in, Elora noted that in addition to the hot dishes, a range of fruits fresh from the city markets awaited. Oranges, grapes, apples sat nestled between more tropical varieties of banana, passionfruit and pineapple. A small dish of rare yoghurt, mixed with mint to cool the palate, salt, and most curious of all the fermented mare's milk favoured by the tribesmen. She bowed in respect to the tent's master and her own, her gaze falling over Turin and flicking briefly to where Aurandir had settled. Turin's grey gaze met her, filled with questions and concern, but none of this was noted by Kronar. He was busy perusing the meal.<BR><BR>She straighted and Turin raised a commanding finger, commencing the serving. She first catered to Kronar, filling his plate as he bid and ignoring the unaccidental brush of his hand against her bare back. She set the plate before him, quashing the urge to tip it over the seat of his pants and meekly enquired, eyes downcast,</i><BR><BR>Is that sufficient, my lord?<BR><BR><i>The tribesman grunted, and she rose from where she knelt beside Kronar and moved next to Aurandir. His plate soon filled, though she added a little more fruit should he wish to cool his palate from the assault of the heavy spices.</i><BR><BR>Is that sufficient, my lord?<BR><BR><i>The gracious inclination of his elven fair head gave her his consent and she rose once more to see to Canamir. She knelt a third time, and it occurred to her that if she was to have her revenge for her trading by him, now would be a good opportunity. There was a tenseness between Turin and Kronar that she had not failed to miss, and this was more important than the score between herself and her husband. As she had for Aurandir, she filled his plate and set it before Canamir.</i><BR><BR>Is that sufficient, my master?<BR><BR><i>At his nod, she bowed her head.</i><BR><BR>My honour to serve, I shall attend from that corner and this night obey your wishes regarding who it is I am given to.<BR><BR><i>Canamir concealed his surprise well, nodding in austere approval of his dancer's obedience. Elora rose fluidly and sat on the edges of light, between Canamir and Aurandir. As she did so, Canamir cut off the protest likely from Kronar.</i><BR><BR>The woman is mine to bestow as I wish.<BR><BR><i>As he spoke his hand settled on the haft of a dagger, his grey gaze darkening somewhat menacingly at Kronar who glared at Aurandir but subsided uneasily. Again the tension was building, and the meal had not yet started. It would take a great deal more from her to relieve this than it had in the store room. Elora sat preparing herself for the call to entertainment, knowing that much rested on her skills to soothe and comfort hot tempers with a desert dancer's arts.<BR><BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:04 pm

Aurandir kept his face a neutral mask, devoid of all emotion. He disliked dinners like these where each tested the other, seeking his strengths and weaknesses. It would not be a nice chat over a meal tonight it seemed. He nodded his head appreciatively as Naiore served him, and stole a quick glance at her warder as she arranged to spend the night with Aurandir. Curious, Aurandir picked up a nati, an apple like fruit, and bit into it. Instantly the tart taste flooded his senses and he swallowed the fruit, then spoke. <BR><BR><i>"By the Dark Throne I greet and thank you. Let me introduce myself. In the high tongue of my clan I am Aurandir and in the common I am Nichoran. How many leagues to Khand, and what do we bring?"</i><BR><BR>Kronar stirred, and then spoke sullenly.<BR><BR><i>"It is half a dekin, and we bring spices and bronzeware to trade in the markets of the Variags."</i><BR><BR>Aurandir accepted the savage's curt reply with a non-commital noise, and silence reigned for a few minutes. If things kept going this way it would be an uncomfortable night.
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Postby Ronnan » Wed Jun 26, 2002 3:29 pm

Kronar was rigid with outrage. How dare the Numenorian bequeath the woman to the other northerner when it was his gold, his, that purchased her. The one who named himself with two names, a mark of treachery if ever there was one, interupted his brooding and Kronar was minded to make no more than a curt reply. He other things to ponder, such as how to kill two northerners. Canamir and Aurandir had not exchanged the barest of words, and a seething look passed over Canamir's features as he flicked the other a brief look. Perhaps he was buying Aurandir's favour. Kronar found the meal to his liking, but the heat and spices did little to soothe his temper.<BR><BR>He flicked a long glance to where Naiore sat, sleek and desireable, and he was minded that if the other two would enjoy her delights, he would take what he could get now. It was his tent, in this place he was master. Kronar set down his bowl, plucking up a ruby plum and bit into it as he considered. A devious plan was shaping behind his hard black gaze and he bestirred himself to commence it upon finishing the sweet fruit.<BR><BR><i>Desert dancer, this meal requires entertainment. Dance, unless you masters say otherwise...</i><BR><BR>If they forbade her, then he could call blood price for the insult. If they did not, then he would have her dancing until she dropped from exhaustion and noone would get any other satisfaction from the woman that night. Either one would be an enjoyable diversion, and he sat back to see what would unfold.
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Postby Aurandir » Wed Jun 26, 2002 4:59 pm

Aurandir glanced quickly at the barbarian's eyes. They were coal black, and they held the faintest trace of mailce in them. It was easy enough to know why. The tribesman had reacted as if he had been slapped after Naiore's master had given her to Aurandir. Could he be plotting revenge? Most probably yes. Although the Harad barbarians were virtually useless, he had never thought of them as stupid. They were sort of cunning, in their own way. However, he saw nothing wrong with the request, although he didn't have a say in the matter. He flicked a glance over at Naiore's master. He nodded his head to Naiore, and she arose gracefully with a rustle of silks. Aurandir lay in his side, enjoying the well cooked food, as Naiore began another sensuous dance.
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Postby elora » Wed Jun 26, 2002 5:16 pm

<i>Canamir looked sharply at Kronar, suspicious of the tribesman and still angered at the events between Aurandir and Naiore. There was much confusion here, and confusion lead to danger and it could consume them all if he was not careful. Elora however sensed that unless something was done, the meal would end in violence. Turin glanced to her, and she held his gaze hoping her beloved could understand her mind in this matter. Though he did not agree, he consented with a flick of his hand, and smoothly she rose from the shadows. Her dance for Aurandir had served to lossen muscles tight after a day on a camel's back, and so she was able to begin without delay.<BR><BR>Soon the tent was filled with spinning silk and chiming bells as she danced around the gathered men. She used the energy sizzling in the air to fuel her, and she danced with a sense of wildness and chaos simmering beneath the surface of her liquid movements. It was that or watch the caravan dissolve into bloodshed. There were a range of dances developed for just such tense occassions. They beguiled the senses with light and shadow, air, silk, hair, flashes of silver, glimpses of skin, all in a ceaselessly moving symphony of dance. The rhythm created by her movements was a sensuous, lulling one, pulling at those who watched, exhausting their eyes with what they saw.<BR><BR>Dance flowed into dance, as the meal passed. Curls started to cling to her spine, silks damp with her efforts, yet still she danced and would do so until she was instructed to cease or perform a different service. All Elora knew was that should they see the other side of this evening encounter in one piece, she would sleep well that night.</i>
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Postby Ronnan » Sun Jun 30, 2002 1:25 am

<BR><BR>She was a joy and pleasure to watch, a jewel amidst the desert sands. Enticing, beckoning, and yet unattainable whilst the northerners were about. Kronar settled back after finishing his crock of fermented mare's milk to enjoy the sensual delights of Naiore's entertainment. His tent would smell of her. The way her muscles rolled beneath creamy skin, her perfect form swaying and dancing before them, those things would remain in his dreams. He let his eyes feast upon her, and he had to refill his crock when he found his mouth drying with desire. She was damp now, and every movement drew his gaze. Kronar broke out into a sweat, just as he had at the inn.<BR><BR>Canamir was torn between watching her and watching him and that made Kronar smile inwardly. Aurandir seemed torn between watching her and staring at his food. Most women, alone in the desert, dancing in a tent before three men that watched her with fired gazes, would feel threatened. But Naiore seemed energised by it, feeding from them as dancers do, building it almost like a challenge. In the end, Kronar could bear it no longer. Either he ended it or he would have her and damn her Numenorian owner or the other strange paleskinned man.<BR><BR><i>Enough! The meal is ended. We leave at dawn. Be ready then!</i><BR><BR>His voice was a little hoarse, and he clapped once loudly. Two tribesmen sprang through the tent flaps with astonishing alacricty, unless you knew that they had hovered transfixed to watch the shadowed form of Naiore dance. She had entertained more than the three in the tent that night. It was midnight, and the camp was still awake to a man. Some maintained a watch, but the most gazed with naked want for the dancer within Kronar's tent. That too served a purpose, for it reinforced for each man the rightness of Kronar's proposed plan. By midnight, any doubts secretly harboured, had faded. The meal was cleared and Kronar got to his feet as the other two rose. No words were spoken, and he watched as they shephered Naiore out bewteen them, Canamir the last to leave.<BR><BR>It would be an interesting night, thought Kronar. After that performance, the northerners may take care of themselves, for Canamir did not seem to be the sharing type when it came to perilously beautiful dancing women. The tapers were doused, leaving the small fire they had eaten around burning low. The coals would warm the tent. With a malicious smile, Kronar settled in to watch and listen to what would unfold, for the fire without painted the shadows of Aurandir, Naiore and Canamir on the tent outside. He could see the two men standing tensely, facing each other, and their words were a low hiss. The taller one had a possessive hand set upon the dancer's upper arm. There was an aggressive set to his stance. His gaze slid lingeringly past Naiore's silhouette's curves to the one he guessed was Aurandir. He too seemed determined, perhaps less aggressive but in no way submissive. Interesting to see how the matter of the dancer's ownership this night would be resolved.<BR><BR>Men had died over conflicting claims. His gaze resetteled on Naiore, her form clear through the damp and clinging diaphonous silk. Men would have died surely to possess that woman, and if they had not then they would by the time Kronar was done with it all. A profitable caravan this would be, after the trading's profit was reckoned there would be the acquisition of the dancer that all of Harad whispered of in awe. Profitable indeed.<BR><BR>
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Postby elora » Sun Jun 30, 2002 7:17 pm

<i>The bite of the cold desert air was a striking contrast to the heated air within Kronar's tent and it washed over Elora as they emerged into the night. Groups of men splintered and moved away from the trio, and Elora started to shiver in the wet silks. She stood between Canamir and Aurandir, and she wondered just what would happen now. Canamir cast a wary gaze around them, wrapped a strong hand easily around her upper arm and leaned towards Aurandir to whisper,</i><BR><BR>We will settle this in your tent!<BR><BR><i>Aurandir nodded, struggling to keep his hand from his sword at the implicit threat in Canamir's voice and casting a worried glance to Elora who stood in the Black Numenorian's grip. Conscious of watching eyes, his shoulders squared and his retort was fitting,</i><BR><BR>My tent it is then. But if you hope to settle this, you had best come with the right to sell the Dark Lord's throne from underneath his unholy rump!<BR><BR><i>For good measure, Aurandir set his hand to Elora's other arm and she found herself escorted towards his tent, thoroughly perplexed by what was going on. No sooner had they entered tent did Aurandir and Canamir release her arm. Aurandir moved to tend to the tapers he had let burn low to create more light for them. That seen to, he turned to find the Numenorian standing ready for anything, hand tight on his sword hilt. Alarm flared in Elora's gaze, and Aurandir straightened to his full height. His eyes narrowed as Elora sent her attention from one to another. It was Canamir that spoke in a low rumbling growl.</i><BR><BR>I'll give you nothing, for no deal was struck. The woman is not bartered to the likes of you! The slut was bought for me and I claim her as mine.<BR><BR><i>Elora was grateful for her veil, for she hated that word even if she knew the reasoning behind his decision to use it. To betray any hint of affection would betray them, and so Turin restorted to the contempt of a man using a dancer for her comfort alone instead. Still, it rankled and Aurandir stiffened in response, his own hand not only going to his hilt but partially drawing his sword at the insult before Elora could impose herself between the two men. She sent an imploring glance to Aurandir, spitting her words with proper dancer's pride.</i><BR><BR>The blood of any man who insults me is mine to take as, when and how I choose. I need not look to another to claim my blood price lest I be dead, and that I am not!<BR><BR><i>To that, Canamir rumbled a distinct "Yet...". Aurandir looked doubtfully at the Guardian, letting his sword settle back into its scabbard and shooting a deadly glare at Turin in objection.</i><BR><BR>I will not insult the dancer, as you so freely choose too Canamir. If you want her so much, then take her. It matters not to me. I have had my entertainment and I release her to you.<BR><BR><i>Canamir nodded slowly and reached for Elora again. He walked backwards towards the door with her in hand, and turned to push out of the tent flaps as Aurandir whispered to her,</i><BR><BR>It was just cover!<BR><BR><i>She frowned as she was pulled through, managing only to call back,</i><BR><BR>Rest well and wary, my lord!<BR><BR><i>Canamir strode across camp, still holding Naiore until he arrived at her tent. Once within he released her and a frown was etched on his brow. Elora, still a little unsure of what had actually occured only offered what she knew. She spoke to her beloved softly in the dimly lit tent.</i><BR><BR>Trust him.<BR><BR><i>There was a grim smile to form his response as he pulled her towards the warmth of the fur blankets and out of her wet silks. They fell into them and spoke not for a very long time. It was not until Turin was sure the possession of the rights to the dancer were clearly known by tribesmen and passengers alike that he chose to respond. He gathered her to rest atop him, her fingers were smoothing back his sweat soaked hair and her softness pressed against him to cover him. As they gathered their breath in the stillness that followed their passion, he whispered,</i><BR><BR>There is one only I trust, and she dances like no other and sings such songs to the night stars.<BR><BR><i>Elora smiled against Turin's broad chest, sleepily murmuring soft words of love in reply and they both fell headlong into sleep for the remaining few hours of night left to them. Tomorrow would be a long day and they both had much work to do to achieve their goals, or even survive the treacherous sands and the caravan that threaded across them.</i><BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Mon Jul 01, 2002 11:43 am

Aurandir flicked his dagger at the tentpole again, wishing it was Canamir’s face. He was angry and extremely insulted. For a few moments there he had felt like murdering the outrageous fool. Did Canamir think he could insult Aurandir and then expect him to treat it like a favor? To thank him? Eru’s teeth! That was how he had acted, the imbecile! His case was perplexing to Aurandir. On the one hand he had been offended greatly, and in his present mood he would like nothing so much as to beat the man senseless with a mace. On the other hand, there was obviously a connection between Elora and Canamir. As much as he would like to murder the most arrogant man that ever walked the shores of Arda, he did not want to hurt a friend. Perplexing indeed. Eventually he calmed himself down and began to think rationally. First off, he had to figure the connection between Elora and her host. He pulled out a blank book, sharpened his quill, and began to write in his particularly unintelligible shorthand.<BR><BR><i>Elora is with Canamir. Why?<BR>1. Sold<BR>2. Captured<BR>3. Undercover<BR>4. Previous acquaintance/ bond</i><BR><BR>The first two he could instantly dismiss. They were not remotely possible, not in this day and age. The third was probable, yet there was something lacking in their relationship if she was undercover. She would be more… subservient, doting. In his opinion at least. He stared at the paper and slowly circled number four. Previous acquaintance… That included friendship and marriage. Either one had a good chance of being true. He wasn’t even sure if the man was a Black Numenorean! He was obviously of a Northern race, so he could be of Gondor or a refugee of Arnor. He being a previous acquaintance or even a husband was a reasonable solution. Which meant he could not hurt Canamir unless he called Aurandir out. He sighed. What a pity. <BR><BR>Aurandir snapped the book shut and walked over to the tapers. He snuffed them all out and then went to lie down on his bed. In minutes he was asleep, oblivious to the cares and worries of the night.
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Postby Ronnan » Mon Jul 01, 2002 8:24 pm

Kronar did not have to wait long in the darkness to learn the outcome of the northerner's scuffle. A tribesman slipped almost soundlessly into the dark tent and whispered that the Numenorian had left with the dancer and made for her tent. He whispered a few short words and sat back to wait for the others arrived. They did so in dribs and drabs, moving through camp silently and entering his tent. Soon the requested 5 had gathered. The camp was quiet, and the sounds that drifted from the dancer's tent fell over each. Some smiled in the darkness, white teeth gleaming. Some frowned at each other, looking to Kronar to put a stop to the Numenorian's mockery of them all. It was too soon to act, and once all had settled, their counsel began.<BR><BR><i>"It is obvious that this Numenorian must be dealt with. He insults us, he insults his countryman, he spits in the face of honour."<BR><BR>"Aye. It's plain to see that the dancer is poorly given to the paleskin."<BR><BR>"He lets her run almost free! Any other man would have had her whipped by now for her insolence."<BR><BR>"You should never have let him claim her."<BR><BR>"Yes, and Kronar is twice a fool for ever buying her in the first place! It's plain to see he was not thinking with his head at the time."<BR><BR>"But how do we keep our own honour? She was offered and taken, foolish as that is."<BR><BR>"Are you suggesting we abandon our plan, craven dog!"<BR><BR>"I am not suggesting we abandon anything, our plan or our honour."<BR><BR>"You're weak. You always have been."<BR><BR>"I'll spit you like a pig for that!"</i><BR><BR>There was the sound of daggers being drawn, and into the midst of that Kronar hissed.<BR><BR><i>Silence!</i><BR><BR>The bickering simmered down, and Kronar fixed the two that had drawn daggers with a glare that send the blades home to their sheaths. Only then did he continue.<BR><BR><i>There is nothing wrong with the dancer that some correction will not attend to. I fancy a camp full of men could see to that.</i><BR><BR>There were some malicious chuckles that also sprinkled into silence, as they considered the possible methods to remove the pride from the desert dancer.<BR><BR><i>I have two plans, neither of which will not breach honour, not true honour.</i><BR><BR>Kronar went on to elaborate his ideas in turn, and soon the gathered tribesmen were smiling in appreciation of the cunning. The group broke up after the breathless passion of Naiore's tent had fallen silent. One of the last to leave turned back to Kronar, appreciative smile in place at first before he sobered,<BR><BR><i>She certainly has stamina. Once suitably mannered she will make a fine addition to the tribe's wealth, and the Numenorian's lands will fatten our tribe's purse further.<BR><BR>But should you fail, the dancer, the Numenorian's power and wealth, your own ambitions for chieftan will not be the only things cheated. The men will have your head on a stake, for they hunger for this as much as you do. Large promises are dangerous, Kronar. Think hard on your gamble.</i><BR><BR>Kronar remained impassive, watching the older man shuffle off through the sands. He stood, staring at the tent across from him. So simple, to just walk in there, put Canamir to the sword and take his dancer. Both would be vulnerable now after their exertions. But such an approach would only make his own position open to challenge later. No, his plans were better, would consolidate his position of power better. He spun on his heel and returned to his furs to fall into a sleep haunted by a copper-haired dancer that remained just out his reach and the mocking face of her host that seemed to remain outside of his aze's swing.
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Jul 02, 2002 11:41 am

Aurandir groaned out a half-felt oath as he rolled out of bed. His sleep had been anxious and unrestful at best. At worst, it would have been better to just stay awake. He walked over to the small stand in the corner where a bowl of water was kept. As the water splashed over his face the drowsiness of sleep was dispelled though he was slightly disgusted at the tepid quality of it. Aurandir pulled on his boots mechanically as he thought of last night's dreams. They had been so... portentous. Yet even if the dreams were fake they served to remind him of something. The tribesmen were not to be trusted at all. He did not need a dream to figure out that. He sighed to himself. Things were so muddled! There were too many people being secretive. They were in a foreign country, with upwards of twenty tribesmen who would like nothing so much as to kill the Northmen. It was a precarious situation, not helped by the fact that those who should help each other weren't. Aurandir shook his head slightly as he settled his sword belt on his shoulders. Nothing to do but play this little game be ear. He exited his tent and emerged into the bright desert sunlight.<BR><BR>The day had already started and he mentally cursed himself. He did not need these tribesmen seeing him as a weak Northman, as they probably did already. He could imagine tonight's muttered talk.<BR><BR><i>"That Northman and his slut. Insulting us every night!"</i><BR><BR><i>"The other one is just a lazy scoundrel. Nothing to fear from him."</i><BR><BR><i>"We have nothing to fear from any of them! Why does Kronar hold back his hand?"</i><BR><BR>He could only imagine the contempt they held him in. It wasn't his fault though. All thoughts aside, should he redeem himself? He considered the issue carefully. On the one hand, it was conceivable that if they did not hold him in contempt, the trip would be easier. On the other, they were just a pack of savages, who hated him and all his kind. Also, he had no ideas on how to win them over. It would be worth more trouble than it was worth. By this time he had made his way to the kitchen area. The thought ‘What now?’ came to him, and he had no clue as to what he should do. <i>You can’t just stand their gawking like an idiot. </i> Mentally he agreed with himself, but what should he do? Go to Kronar? Out of the question. Go to Elora? If I visit her it will probably look like we’re plotting something. Finally he just sat down in the shade of the tent and watched the goings of the men. <i>Please let something happen,</i> he said to no one in particular. <BR>
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Postby elora » Wed Jul 03, 2002 8:37 pm

Turin's hand in her hair woke Elora as light filtered through the tent. Water was sparse, and it was used carefully to wash away the night's effort and sleep. It becoming trickier for her to locate silks that did not bear the mark of Turin. Her husband and her chosen line of work was habitually punishing on her clothing, but Canamir was going through a small fortune of the diaphanous dancing silks, the delicate fabric no match for his strength. Whilst Elora saw to locating garments in an appropriate state of repair, Turin sat wrapped in though, methodically packing away the possessions they had travelled with. By the time Elora had found a dancing silk fit to wear, this one a pale rose hue that had a pearlescent shimmer to it, combed her curls out and reattached the silver talismen that sleep and Turin had dislodged the night before, the camp had burst into activity.<BR><BR>She stood, wrapping the heavier indigo desert robe about her and cross to wrap her arms about Turin and rest her head. He remained silent, holding her to him as his fingers traced now smooth curls as they fell down her back. She sighed and lifted her head to gaze up at his grey eyes,</i><BR><BR>Walk carefully, beloved. We have yet to see the end of this path, and I would that we see it in one piece.<BR><BR><i>Turin held her stare a moment, nodded almost to himself, and bent to kiss her softly. He could see her concern, but there were other things to worry about. He needed to wrest from Kronar information, and the tribesman had not been forthcoming. Something needed to be done to loosen his tongue. There was Aurandir to consider as well. His wife trusted him, but then Elora trusted people more easily than he would. Aurandir bore watching, of that much he was certain. And then there was the woman in his arms now. She was establishing a reputation for being an unruly dancer, and unruly dancers often met with cruel fate. The tribesmen expected Canamir to be an arrogant northerner, but they also expected their dancers to be well behaved, compliant, agreeable, soft, yielding. While ever he was delivering to Kronar what he expected of a Numenorian, then he had room to move. But the leash was tightening on Elora.<BR><BR>He pulled back from her, hands on her shoulders, and looked earnestly at his wife,</i><BR><BR>Beloved, if you are to emerge at all, you must heed custom better than you do your pride. Otherwise, the tribesmen will strip everything from you, possibly your life. Will you follow my will in this?<BR><BR><i>Turin searched Elora's face, unsure of what she may say. She returned his gaze, eyes swirling with mesmerising colour and he felt her sigh,</i><BR><BR>Very well. I will follow your will, as a dancer must her patron. But your will, and no other!<BR><BR><i>He nodded, held her tightly again, and the sound of tribesmen calling to each other penetrated through the tent walls. Reluctantly he let her go, realising that he had no time to speak to her further. She wrapped her belt of chiming silver discs about her hips and pulled her veil into position before pulling the hood over her head. The occassional tendril tumbled out of its confines, a talisman catching the filtered light. He picked up their gear, and with a final glance that would their last until the night, Canamir barrelled out of the tent. Naiore followed as proper, behind him, head bowed. No sooner had they emerged was the tent dismantled and packed away.<BR><BR>He walked to where the men were getting breakfast, consisting mainly of dried fruits and nuts and some bread. He retrieved an amount and chose a shady place to consume it whilst Naiore waited patiently. Giving her a sideways flick of a glance, he dropped what seemed to be his remnants into her hands. They were, in fact, what he had taken and set aside for her. His voice was casual, hard and matter of fact, and his gaze flicked away to settle on those pulling apart the camp.<BR><BR><i>Wait here until the camels are ready. Wander off and I'll have you whipped and led raw to the Throne of the Dark Lord.</i><BR><BR>With that, Canamir strode off to speak to those that had been posted to the last watch. Naiore watched him leave from where she stood off to one side and out of the way of passing traffic. The tents were disappearing at a rapid pace and the camels were being loaded and saddled with remarkable efficency. Their voices were loud on the still morning air. She sighed and tore at a piece of bread, more to occupy her hands than out of hunger. She spotted Aurandir and smiled across to him, unable to move now that she had sworn to follow Canamir's will. Again she sighed and watched him walk away to speak to three tribesmen.<BR><BR>Glad for the shelter of her hood, she looked out from underneath it's rim at the sky. Cloudless, peerless blue, and yet she sensed the building of a storm. Naiore waited, unsure of how they would withstand it when it finally broke, eyes seeing signs of aggression thinly masked. It was in how they walked, the way they looked at her, Aurandir and Turin. She dropped her gaze when she noted one older tribesman approaching her. He neared, looked to where Canamir stood and smiled a calculating smile that made her shiver. The rippling of the silver at her hips brought his attention sharply to her once more. He looked hard at her, almost like he was trying to see past the robes and barked a single command,</i><BR><BR>"Come!"<BR><BR>I cannot, my lord.<BR><BR>"COME!"<BR><BR>Please my lord, I have commanded to stay here.<BR><BR><i>His charcol eyes narrowed at her refusal and instinct had her drop to her knees in appropriate supplication. He growled something in his own tongue and stalked off as she stared at the sand. Canamir observed the encounter, tempted sorely to run the man through where he stood. But Elora did well to kneel and the tribesman prowled off. The older tribesman he marked as a threat, and one that he'd deal with harshly if he so much as laid a finger on his wife. He turned his attention back to the men he was questioning about the night watch, his eyes darkened and stormy and they fell silent under his gaze.<BR><BR>Camels bellowed as they were led out and positioned for their passengers to mount. Canamir dismissed the men with a curt wave of his hand and headed back to where Kronar had emerged to stand, admiring the dancer's curves evident despite her robe. Dispensing with the morning's greeting, Canamir tossed his report to the other man.</i><BR><BR>The night was quiet, no rumour of nomads noted. Still too close to the city, I think. Today and tonight will be different though. Have your men ready to act should they need to. There will be no stops today. We're sitting targets whilst we're still.<BR><BR>And if one more of your tribesmen even think to call up my woman, I'll extract his gizards through his nose.<BR><BR><i>That said, Canamir, stood by Naiore, arms crossed over his chest, watching the men about him like a hawk.</i><BR><BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Wed Jul 03, 2002 9:49 pm

"What illiterates."<BR><BR>It was this thought that kept running through Aurandir's head as he talked to a few tribesmen. Yet he had to look like he was doing something. Sitting on his lazy rear would not get him any points. He also admitted that Elora had prompted him to do something. If he did nothing his gaze would obviously roam, it would obviously come back to the only friend he had in the camp, and some barbarian who thought himself clever would obviously construe this as violation of custom, intent to plot against the tribe, and so forth, which would land him and Elora into a very nasty mess. Which was how he found himself in his present situation, talking to these cretins. As he talked with them, they validated his opinion of their tribe. Scorpions, like most Haradrim, were simple-minded and reckless, cunning after a fashion. They loved whores and strong drinks. Feasting was an enjoyable activity, as both former likes usually accompanied the latter. Analyzing them was so easy.<BR><BR>Aurandir laughed silently as Canamir warned the tribe about Elora and the questions one could ask her. Why not warn me? Why not warn Aurandir? He's the only one excepting Kronar who might do you harm. Internecine wars are always the worst he thought with a nasty inward smile. <BR><BR>Canamir... He however was different. He wasn't so easily analyzed, mainly because Aurandir didn't have much data on him. But he could draw conclusions. <BR><BR>Both were very dominant, powerful males. Canamir obviously wasn't as open as his wife, and was arrogant. They both watched each other with feral eyes, ready to respond instantly to any move the other might make. For both their sakes Aurandir hoped he didn't meet with Canamir today. Or at least right now. The events of last night still shone vividly in his memory, and sparks of anger were still there, waiting for someone to blow on them. Which I musn't let happen, he told himself. He walked to his tent and packed his bags, then proceeded to knock the tent down and pack it up by himself. It felt good to do something with his hands again, after they had been idle so long. He checked his unruly camel and then hoisted himself atop it. They would move soon enough. Nomads tended to dislike people camping too long in one spot.
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Postby Leslie-ElfWarrior » Wed Jul 03, 2002 10:41 pm

<i>The heat bore down on the two travelers, as the sun began to make the desert blurry with the heat of the early morning. The air was already hot and sticky, and made the two companions traveling clothes cling to them. Their clothing black and dark brown in color, soaked in the heat. Both had agreed not to enter Umbar/Harad as anything in particular, the best choice was to dress as mere travelers. They had stopped the night before to rest in an Inn, and had picked up some supplies before leaving for Khand before dawn. To many they were assumed to be two men nothing more. Which is what they wanted to be thought of. Soon they were leaving the city and heading towards Khand over the hot desert. Once the City was far from the two travelers view, and none could see who the two were, one of the travelers pulled back her hood. Her dark red hair lightened in the bright sunlight, and her crystal blue eyes gleamed brightly in the suns hot raze. She cleared her throat, for earlier she had deepened it to sound like a man’s voice, and to hide that she was female. Her voice now came out soft as she spoke to her companion.</i><BR><BR>"Wooohhhh Did you see the way some of those men treat the women? It makes me sick! Ooooh well it's okay Leslie I think we're far enough away now."<BR><BR><i>The other companion sighed in reply to the way some of the women were treated. She was glad that they had posed as men, for she would’ve hated the idea of being treated as nothing more then a slave. However they were lucky no one bothered them, and Declynn curbed her age old hot temper. Leslie pulled back her hood her black hair shined in the sun’s hot glare.</i><BR><BR>"I’m glad you didn’t let your temper get the best of you, Firecracker.” <i>Leslie said with a smile as she looked at Declynn. Declynn looked back at Leslie with a glare she had always hated being called ‘Firecracker’ besides she never thought the name fit at all; she was more used to being called ‘cold blooded heartless Ice Witch’ by most men. Declynn glared at Leslie for the use of the other nickname her guardian Drake had given her.</i><BR>“Now don’t you start calling me that nickname.”<BR><BR>“Very well.” <i>Leslie said in a neutral tone as she sighed. She looked down at their rides with disgust.</i>“You know Angel and Demon wont like us leaving them back in Gondor, and they especially wont like us leaving them out of this."<BR><BR>"Yeah, but Lord Elrond was the one who suggested we leave them in Gondor. He wouldn't even let you tell Edain were you were going, would he?"<BR><BR>"No he wouldn't. I think because he knew my love would disapprove of my traveling in these lands. Which is why I didn't tell Edain were I was heading." <BR><BR><i>Declynn sighed as she nodded in thought then saw the look of regret on Leslie’s face, but ignored it and thought it best to change the subject. </i> “So could you please tell me again, Why Lord Elrond is sending us all the way out here to Khand? I’m still a bit confused as to all of this.”<BR><BR><i> Leslie gave an glare at Declynn for her short memory. She had already told Declynn of the mission twice now before even entering Umbar/Harad. She sighed in annoyance at this, and rolled her eyes. Before answering her friends questions.</i><BR>“For the third time, Lord Elrond believes that someone in Khand is in league with Mordor in some way, or another. He, Lady Galadriel, and Lord Thranduil has sent us to find out anything strange that might link Khand to Mordor. All they know is that something is happening in Khand, something very big, and they want answers. We are being sent in to basically ease drop in on Khand, and find out what may be happening there. Ok???” <BR><BR><i>Declynn nodded. She still did not like this plan, and it was clearly apparent on her features. She didn’t like the idea of just herself and Leslie riding into Khand dressed, and posing as men. It all seemed to dangerous, especially for young women in these lands.</i> “I still don’t like this. It sounds too easy!”<BR><BR>“Perhaps it is, we’ll just have to wait and see, but may I remind you that if we are discovered. The story we give is that we are fugitives from the Northern part of Middle Earth, and that we are loyal subjects of Sauron. We’ve come here and are heading to Khand until we receive further instruction from the dark Lord. We’re also going there to escape capture. Your fake name is Morgan, and mine is Darien Ok???”<BR><BR>“What if we’re discovered as women???”<i>Declynn asked a little too seriously.</i><BR><BR>“The story does not change.”<i>Leslie said solemnly. She looked over at Declynn and knew the particular look in her eyes. It didn’t take long for Leslie to catch onto what Declynn was asking, and what the hidden question was, and she quickly added.</i> “We’re not dressed as desert dancers, Declynn. If a man wants to try something then let him try, for I know you too well, and he will not like the consequences. As for me I will not give myself to any other man other then Edain, therefore any man tries anything, and he’ll learn the consequences as well. Besides if our story serves us correctly, we're supposed to be servants of the Dark Lord! So many will think along the lines of, ‘if they mess with us, The Dark Lord will not be pleased, and that they’ll probably regret it!’”<BR><BR><i>Declynn nodded again with a cold smile that always sent a shiver running down Leslie’s spine. She was certainly not the type to let men treat women like prized possessions, or like animals, and that was what worried Leslie so. Declynn’s hot temper was at times a very big problem, and she hoped it would not be here. The two continued their long journey acrossed the hot burning desert beneath the torturing sun’s raze. The silence began to grow between them now as they went on their way, and the morning soon became very apparent. Both Leslie and Declynn looked down at their camels, already missing their horses. Declynn’s camel suddenly spit onto the desert sand, for which Declynn gave an even more disgusted look as she spoke.</i><BR><BR>“Eeeew! That’s sick! If it does that on me, this ‘camel’ wont be living very long!”<BR><BR><i>Leslie tried to hide the smile that was caused by Declynn’s look of disgust, but it was near impossible as she gave a small laugh. It was too amusing to see the particular look of disgust Declynn gave, as the girl’s nose wrinkled in utter disgust. Soon Leslie broke out into a good laugh over the matter. Her laughter musical, but suddenly her laughter was cut short when she heard the noise of another camel. Not her camel, not Declynn’s camel, but someone else’s camel. Leslie looked over at Declynn and both shared a knowing look. Their eyes locking as they knew someone must be ahead of them, and very close for that was where the sound had come from. Both women slide from the camels quickly and easily. They slowly pulled their swords, and pulled up their hoods incase they would be spotted, and together they creped closer towards the small dune up ahead, and dared to peek over it. Over the small dune was two men camping, their camels not far away. The two men were already up and getting ready to travel on. Talk went on, but could not be heard from where Leslie and Declynn where. They watched carefully as the men packed, and readied their camels, for the long journey ahead.</i><BR><BR>“Great.” <i>Declynn muttered as she watched the two men,</i> “Now what do we do, Leslie?”<BR><BR><i>Leslie looked closer, but could not tell anything more then that they were two men. She suddenly wished she and Declynn had taken more time to learn of this place, and the people here. But she hoped what she knew should be enough. She looked around, but saw nobody else in sight. Her voice was but a small whisper.</i> “Ok I’m just guessing here, but their just a couple of travelers like us. That one appears to be a Nomad, but they appear to be alone.”<BR><BR>“Hmmm good point, but we don’t know them. And as for the one that looks like a Nomad, what do we know about Nomads? Besides what if they aren’t alone? What if their companions behind one of these sand dunes?” <i>Declynn’s points were well made, and Leslie nodded as her words followed. Her eyes narrowed at the two men below.</i><BR><BR>“You’re probably right; we shouldn’t take any unnecessary risks in this mission. We’ll need to go around and avoid them. C’mon lets get out of here.”<BR><BR><i>The two women were getting ready to leave when the sand beneath Declynn gave way, and she slipped over the side of the small dune, and into the two men’s camp. Declynn rolled down the other side of the dune. She tried to stop her descent, but couldn’t grab anything to stop her fall, for the sand was not solid at all, and gave way beneath the slightest touch. Declynn fell on her stomach hard, her hood still covered her to conceal her face, but sand had found its way into her eyes and mouth, for which she rubbed her eyes, and spit the hot sand from her lips. Her sword had landed just in front of her. She soon came to realize that the wind had been knocked out of her when she landed rather harshly on the hot desert floor. Slowly Declynn was just starting to rise, she got up on her hands and knees, and was getting ready to sand up. She shook off her dizziness and spit some more sand that had gotten into her mouth out, but she still felt a bit dazed as someone grabbed her and pulled her to her feet the rest of the way rather roughly. She gasped as she was pulled upright. Almost immediately she began to struggle to escape, as her hood was yanked back revealing once again her dark red hair, and face.</i><BR><BR>“Don’t touch me! Let go of me!”<i>Declynn screamed as she came face to face with the man whom she struggled with. Her eyes gave an icy glare as she looked up at the man. Meanwhile, in the instance that Declynn fell. Leslie turned to see her friend fall and ducked back down behind the small dune before anyone saw her. All Leslie could do was curse beneath her breath, and wait a few moments before peeking over the side of the dune into the camp site. Leslie wetted her lips as she thought fast on how to get Declynn out of there, and waited a few more moments before peeking over only a little to see her friend. She saw Declynn struggling to escape one of the men’s grasp. Being extra careful, Leslie looked around the desert sands but saw no one else step forth. Only the two where there from what she could see, and soon she was thinking of how she and Declynn could take them on. Two against two was never good or bad odds for it would be an equal, and fair fight.</i><BR><BR>
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Postby Ronnan » Wed Jul 03, 2002 11:42 pm

Kronar emerged with business on his mind, only to find the dancer there and business faded in light of the pleasure her sight offered. The camp was a hive of activity, Canamir off speaking with three of his men, the other one, Aurandir, trying not to look at the dancer or show his contempt of the tribesmen about him. Kronar didn't understand why he bothered. It didn't matter that he thought the tribesmen lowly, they were planning to kill him no matter how well he thought of them. As for the dancer, well it was to be expected that men would lust after her. Aurandir carried himself off to his tent and Canamir sauntered proudly up to him. Well he might, given the way he had passed his night wrapped around Naiore. Kronar was in a magnamious mood. Let him enjoy her delights, while he still could. Kronar could wait until the hand was played.<BR><BR>The terse report delivered to him, however, pricked that bubble of largess. Kronar cast a glance to where Solain hovered like a wiley old fox. So he had tried to order the dancer into his tent and bed had he? Well, that was no surprise. Solain had employed such tactics many times and with considerable sucess. He covered his smirk and met the challenge thrown down by the over-proud Numenorian.<BR><BR><i>My men are ready for all eventualities, Northerner. They do not fear any thing, be they nomad or Numenorian.<BR><BR>But none of that is your concern. The slut is yours until you are no longer fit to own her. It seems you were so blinded by your lust that you failed to consider that perhaps other men would want her as badly, if not more so, than you.<BR><BR>Look rather to your countryman, if you look for betrayal. He tries to hide what Solian here honestly declares. That is more troublesome indeed.</i><BR><BR>Canamir cast a dark glance towards the tent that had been Aurandir's and then levelled his stare back at Kronar. Kronar swallowed his glee at the seeds of distrust he was merrily sowing and adopted a solicitious expression that was almost believeable.<BR><BR><i>Tonight we will dine together again, yes. Your woman will come with you for it is not safe to leave her in her tent. After last night, perhaps we will let the dancer rest, so that she is more enjoyable later, yes?</i><BR><BR>The Haradian chuckled, slapped Canamir on the back in an almost friendly fashion and then strode off, bellowing,<BR><BR><i>The caravan moves out now!</i><BR><BR>Echoes of his call carried up to where Kert and Dulrain had bunked down for the night. Dulrain was watching the morning activity of the camp as his commander slept, trying make out Elora and the Black Numenorian amongst the others. The Haradians were easy to spot in their vivid red desert robes, like splotches of blood on the sand. But there was another northerner, the one from the inn. He watched them mount the camels, Elora easily identified as the only woman moving amongst men, Her gait was different, smoother and more fluid, occassionally a long tendril of copper curls would shine in the harsh sun, and the indigo of her robes set her apart.<BR><BR>Kert had started to stir as the camels below were saddled and readied. Whilst Dulrain observed closely, it was Kert that noticed that a person had fallen right behind them. Dulrain leapt a little as she hit the sand. Kert kicked the sword out of the way, and hauled the stranger up by their shoulder to yank back the hood. His eyes widened as he noted it was a woman, and not a local woman. Another northern woman, wandering about alone, in the deserts of Harad.<BR><BR><i>By Eru's beard! When are you women going to start excercising some caution!</i><BR><BR>Kert was really speaking to Elora, who was running a pretty dangerous gauntlet below, but Elora wasn't here and this other woman was and besides, she probably wasn't a sorceress unlike Elora. Dulrain picked up the sword, and in a gentler tone added,<BR><BR><i>It will go better for you if you tell who you are. If you mean no harm, then neither do we.<BR><BR>"But if you mean to go wandering through the desert, alone, you can turn right back around and go back home! You'll get killed out here, by men down there in red desert robes who can think of nothing finer than toying with a northern woman!"</i><BR><BR>Kert had a naturally gruff voice, and matters weren't helped by his bad temper. Women were trouble out here, especially lone women. He already had one he was following without trying to follow her, curse the wretched Guardian. When all this was finished he'd have such a score to settle with that woman. Dulrain again tried to soften his commander's bluff manner.<BR><BR><i>Your name and why you're here would go a long way to easing you out of trouble, depending on why you're here.</i><BR><BR>Dulrain caught the sound of another camel bellow, and frowned. They had better quickly resolve this before the caravan got too much of a head start. In a desert like this, it was astounding how easy it was to lose things, like your way home.<BR>
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Postby Leslie-ElfWarrior » Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:30 am

<i>Declynn struggled to break free of the man's grasp. Her hot temper was already beginning to boil at the one whom she struggled with. She noticed the other pick up her sword, and was trying to be nicer then the older man. Declynn tried hard to control her temper as she heard the older man talk of yet another group, down below dressed in red robes. Her memory trying to figure out who those men could be. But realizing all too well what he meant when he said 'who can think of nothing finer than toying with a northern woman!' Declynn suddenly went silent from her screams to be released, but did not stop struggling to get away. She bit back the idea to curse the older man, but looked from one to the other taking note that they where both northerners. Unfortunately it made no difference to her, a man was a man, and she didn't like men period. She looked from one to the other with an ice cold glare, her eyes speaking defiance for her voice.</i><BR><BR>"What I'm doing here is none of 'your' concern! As for me going home, you can jump off a cliff! Now let go of me!!!"<i>Declynn looked directly at the older man as she spoke the last two sentences. She looked at both men with an equal amount of defiance, and anger. On any other occasion she would have given her name, and purpose for being there, but just because they were northerners didn't mean that they weren't from Mordor. Leslie had already told her, she had to be cautious of everyone no matter who they where. Declynn looked out of the corner of her eye at the younger man holding her sword no less. She swallowed hard swallowing as well as curbing her hot temper. Guessing it would make no difference if she told them her fake name for when she was here she started to speak to the younger man, but stopped herself, and made sure to remind herself not to speak of her purposes here. It might put her in a worse situation or even get her killed. She also frowned at her name, it was more of a boys name then a girls.</i><BR><BR>"My names Morgan!"<i>Declynn's voice came out as a mere whisper, for she was still trying to curb her temper. When asked again what she was doing here, Declynn closed her mouth and refused to speak. Her eyes telling both men that they would get nothing else out of her.<BR><BR>Leslie rolled her eyes, at seeing the look of pure defiance placed on Declynn's features. She shook her head annoyed with the entire problem. Declynn's mouth and attitude was the two biggest things that would get them in trouble on this trip or killed, and Declynn did well to express them both. Finally Leslie sighed.</i><BR><BR>"Well I can't leave her down there with those men. They'll want to kill her in less then two seconds flat!"<i>Leslie mumbled as she readied herself. She waited for her chance to surprise the two men.</i>
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Postby Ronnan » Thu Jul 04, 2002 4:17 am

Kert muttered a number of names that he thought might fit the willful woman that had just happened to tumble onto their position. None of them were crude, but then none of them were exactly becoming either. The older commander fixed upon her haughty highness a stern glare that had reduced recalcitrant rulers into biddible, rational individuals and terrified more than one uppity recruit before today. Having seen his way through a life beset with battles bloody and terrible, wars neither clean nor winnable, and the death of his wife and unborn child gave Kert the sort of unflappable, grounded air of a rock that had been in place well before you were born and would be in place well after you no longer graced the earth. The woman tried valiantly to out stare him, but in the end there were only a select few that could out stare the remarkable Commander Kert. Dulrain could count them on one hand. They were Gandalf the Grey, Elrond, Galadriel, Turin Turambar and Elora Starsong. A few more could last as long, Celeborn for example, but only those five could out stare him. Of course, those 5 did consist of two mighty elves, an Istari wizard, the mighty Black Sword and the Wielder of the Flame Imperishable. Dulrain consoled himself with that fact whenever he lost a stare-off to Kert. He, like Turin, couldn't out last him.<BR><BR>Below them, the call of the Haradrim signalled that the caravan was moving out. A glance from Kert was unneeded as Dulrain was already on his way to bring the camels to them. The commander remained absolutely unruffled, absorbing the patent disapproval rolling from the woman like a sponge. After all, with his gruff manner, all the rough edges on his social graces and tact, Kert was used to women not liking him much. As Dulrain pulled the camels closer, Kert spoke to the still unnamed woman as though he were speaking to a small, wayward, wilful child, for that was how she was acting.<BR><BR><i>Well then </i>my lady,</i> you had best hope that your "business" as you call it has not interferred with ours. If it has, and we loose that caravan, you will find your arrogance will earn you little grace and no respect.<BR><BR>Dulrain, secure that sword to my camel please and you take this young </i>lady<i> up on your camel. Keep an eye on her. I'd imagine that a swift blow to the back of the head would not be something she'd consider inappropriate if that head happened to be a man's.</i><BR><BR>There was a distinct note of annoyance in his commander's voice which Dulrain knew there was no arguing with. Hopefully the lady, as Kert drolly pronounced it, would pick up on that too. There were ways around Kert, but tackling him head on was a very big mistake. He tied the woman's sword to the commander's camel and mounted his own. Kert escorted her to stand beside Dulrain's camel.<BR><BR><i>Now, we'll not search you for more weapons on the likely stupid assumption that you have honour if not common sense. Pull any stupid stunts and you'll not be pleased with the outcome. <BR><BR>We'll not bind you either, but you even attempt to bring any attention to us, and I'll not only bind you, I'll gag you and tie you across the rump of my camel! Now, up you go.</i><BR><BR>Between Kert and Dulrain, their improptu travelling companion found herself settled in front of the captain. Dulrain tugged her hood back in place, to prevent the sun from taking too much toll though all he got for his efforts was a scowl. However, Dulrain was not at all like Kert. Dulrain simply smiled, amused with the reaction and shrugged it aside. By now, the caravan was well and truly moving off in a swaying line that inched inland. Kert gave them enough time to allow safe trailing and then moved off, using the cover of the dune and the plume of sand kicked up by the caravan's passage to keep them in touch.<BR><BR>Within the caravan, tribesmen and camels quickly fell into the rhythm of travel. There would be no stops this day, so they paced the speed accordingly. Occassionally, the camels would bunch together so that water could be passed from camel to camel, but they would then stretch out to avoid kicking up dust into the eyes of those riding behind. Once again, Kronar rode in the lead, Canamir and Aurandir behind him and Naiore between them. The two men were trading glances that were far from congenial, when Canamir took his gaze from the horizons at all. Naiore rode with her customary elegance, silent and submissive, a palpable presence behind him. He could hear the chiming of silver faintly, almost smell her feminine sweetness, spices, cinnamon, honey... Beneath the red cowl that filtered the air to his nose and mouth, Kronar smiled as he reviewed plans for that evening. Things would go smoothly indeed, particularly if the two northerners were not speaking to each other.<BR><BR>Divided they could be picked off one at a time. The Numenorian had to die immediately, regardless. But perhaps the other one, the one with two names who was doing his best not to look at Naiore and not always suceeding, perhaps he could be useful. Certainly he would be amusing to keep alive for a little while, so that he could learn just how powerful men of south were. He'd learn that the Scorpion Tribe had such power that they could topple a Black Numenorian, possess his chattels, lands, riches, power, and even his woman. Yes, perhaps Aurandir could be kept alive for a little while, for to die in ignorance was a terrible fate that not even a Northerner deserved.<BR><BR><BR>
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Ronnan
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Postby elora » Thu Jul 04, 2002 8:04 pm

<i>Canamir was worried, and gravely so. There was something feral to Kronar's smile and offer of a meal. It smelt of treachery to him, and if it smelt rotten it probably was. Yet to refuse would be to add tension unneeded and so he had acquiesed. His grey gaze never wandered far from the horizon, but when it did it centred on the woman beside him and Aurandir opposite. As it was, it was difficult to determine just how far Aurandir could be trusted for there were hardly the opportunities to settle the matter. Elora said he could be trusted... all he could do was trust in her and hope she was right. Aurandir glanced across at Canamir as he noticed his regard. Many things could be read in the other's eyes. Still, if Kronar thought that he hated the other man, saw him as competition, then that would perhaps provide some leverage when necessary. <BR><BR>And so Canamir made no sign that there was anything other than simmering hostility between himself and Aurandir. Let them think that it was jealousy, even though Turin knew where his wife's heart and soul lay. It was in his keeping alone. His gaze slipped to Elora and lingered there as it softened in a way that spoke of desire but also other things that Kronar and his ilk could not fathom. His camel altered it's gait and he shifted his attention back to the horizon, one hand on the reins and the other on his sword hilt. Tonight may be his chance to learn what he sought.<BR><BR>Elora remained suitably quiet. She maintained a peaceful serenity about her, in direct contrast to the masculine aggression that sat over the camp. It was like a tinder box, and she was not going to spark it off. Instead, she passed water when it was called, did not react to the jeers and calls of the other, kept her eyes dutifully downcast. Just to make it to the vineyard, that's all she had to do. Until then, she had to be sure she gave noone due reason to look beyond dancing silks to there find a Guardian. Turin was worrying about what may happen to a willful dancer. Elora was worried about how she'd manage to evade capture if identified without killing a Child of Illuvator. Certainly, there were at least two in the caravan she would like to maim, but not kill. That was forbidden. Her eyes flashed with something akin to wrath for a moment, a fire forbidden to one of her station. She banked it, remembering her place, and was fortunate that only Aurandir noted it before it was put away.<BR><BR>The desert seemed to stretch forever to her sight as she gazed out from over the top of her veil. She shifted in the saddle, allowing the camel's rolling walk to flow through her, not fighting it but flexing with it. It meant she swayed with the beast. If she walked away from this at all, at least she would have mastered the art of camel riding. What a skill, she mused as a wry smile curved her lips. She cast a glance about and wondered what indeed her allies would say if they could see her now. Aurandir had seemed somewhat stunned to find her in dancing silks. For good reason had she remained sketchy on how she moved through Harad before the White Council. She'd need to speak to Aurandir so that he'd know what not to say to any that asked of this.<BR><BR>Endless desert, endless sky, the roll of the camel, it could all very easily blur if you let it.<BR><BR>
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