Darkness in Gondor: The Rumor of War

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

Postby Myrdock » Sat Aug 03, 2002 8:25 pm

<i><b>Interested? Want to join? Look in at the Word Aside thread <a target=new href="http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=25&threadid=52685">here</a>.<BR><BR> Been here long? Thread title sound vaguely familiar? Read the <a target=new href="http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?catid=25&threadid=52685">disclaimer</a>.</i></b><BR><BR><BR>--------------------------<BR><BR> By a dying hearth in the darkest corner of the darkest inn, in the darkest bowels of the city <b>Minas Tirith</b>, beneath the cover of darkest night, there sat two men facing each other, speaking dark words in whispers, words that meant death for them if there were any to overhear. It was a cold night, and they were cloaked heavily in hooded tunics and thick garments that rustled softly with every movement, but the men could be silent as mist when they wanted to be. The shadows from the fire melted their features into a mass of unrecognizable blobs, but shaggy strands of dark hair could barely be seen sticking out beneath the hoods. The two appeared unarmed, but a pair of slender swords were concealed and readily at hand beneath the baggy clothes. The smoky black in the common-room made the men look as wraiths, and the few other patrons eyed them warily and kept their distance, which was exactly what the two men wanted.<BR><BR><i>"So,"</i> the first man began, <i>"It has come to this."</i> There seemed to be sorrow in his eyes as the flames danced within them.<BR><BR><i>"Yes,"</i> the second man said, <i>"He announced his ascension this very day. The whole city reels."</i><BR><BR><i>"And mourns. May the rightful King be blessed, wherever they put his body."</i><BR><BR><i>"You are sure it was murder?"</i><BR><BR><i>"Yes. It was murder."</i> A shadow seemed to pass over the first man's face.<BR><BR><i>"He must not be allowed to rule. Already he poisons the country. He is reckless."</i><BR><BR><i>"He is drunk on power, <b>Myrdock</b>, and gorged on greed. His decrees shall destroy us."</i><BR><BR>There was suddenly a terrific crash. The second man, Myrdock, turned his head to where a maid had dropped a tray of mugs. He watched idly as the contents spilled out over the floor through broken bits of pottery, and when he spoke it was softly, as though from a distance. <i>"He has ridden himself of the old guard, his father's guard. That alone will give him many enemies, especially amongst those who have been dismissed.”</i> He said this rather pointedly. <BR><BR>The maid mopped up the mess with a cloth, and scurried off to the kitchen, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. The first man stared after her. <i>"No one will oppose him. He has recruited new men, loyal to him, surely, and his holidays will silence any grumbling from the people."</i><BR><BR><i>"He fools us with games,"</i> Myrdock agreed bitterly. <i>"With holidays. He makes himself beloved to the people. If only they knew...they mourn for the King, but welcome his son, his murderer, with open arms."</i><BR><BR><i>"They know not it was murder, Myrdock, though there are many who suspect, I'll wager. But his plans for festivals and games already endear the simpler folk to him. They care little for who rules, as long as they have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over their heads. But what strikes me more is that witch--his Queen, his lover,”</i> he spoke this last word in a kind of scornful sarcasm, <i>“I cannot believe she rules beside him. They say she has orc blood in her, though I doubt that. But certainly there is more to her than meets the eye—“</i><BR><BR><i>“Cannot the same be said for all women?”</i> Myrdock interposed softly. <BR><BR>The first man continued as though he hadn’t heard. <i>“She poisons all those around her with honey-filled words that turn the weak astray and bend even great men’s wills to her own. She has convinced him to <b>cancel all ties with Rohan</b>, and I fear she may lead him into a war."</i><BR><BR>Flames burned in Myrdock's eyes, and they were not reflections from the fire, <i>"Orders were issued to <b>stop the watch on the Mordor-borders</b>. I thought we had learned that lesson years ago. I wonder if that witch is behind those decrees as well!"</i> <BR><BR><i>"She is behind all things that happen in the royal court. I fear her worse than I fear the new King."</i><BR><BR><i>"But,"</i> Myrdock said, <i>"they will have many enemies. We know that. It may take some time, but we will drag him down. We can use his recklessness to our advantage, I think, if we choose our ways carefully. But it will be a dangerous time for us, and you most especially.”</i> <BR><BR>The first man, slightly older, sighed, <i>"It already is dangerous enough. One thing is for sure, however--we have little time."</i> His eyes narrowed, <i>"We have</i> no <i>time. He must not rule."</i><BR><BR><i>"Agreed. Are there those within his ranks willing to turn against him?"</i><BR><BR><i>"There will be soon if there are none already. There are some under <b>my command as a captain in the Guards</b> who are willing to fight. Once the people know the extent of his perversion, there will be no stopping them. We will ride their rage. But not yet. Soon, perhaps, but not yet. Too many questions remain unanswered."</i><BR><BR>Myrdock nodded, <i>"I will spread the word. We must send messages to our friends in Rohan to see what can be done there, and to prevent any…trouble. There are distressing rumors about in their land as well. War must be avoided at all costs."</i><BR><BR>The first man’s eyes glinted. <i>“No, not at all costs. The King and his Queen cannot rule…and if it mean’s war against our own country, so be it. You’ve heard the rumors. Something sinister is afoot…I know it. How many others are discussing as we are tonight? We need allies. We need answers.”</i><BR><BR><i>“We need sleep,”</i> Myrdock muttered, eyeing another customer depart the emptying common-room.<BR><BR>The other man laughed, and the fullness of it startled the few other customers in the inn. A maid dropped another glass in surprise. Myrdock noted with some amusement it was the same maid as before. <i>"Just make sure you are not caught, Myrdock. I’ve already sent pigeons to some in Rohan. And remember--those who wear <b>the insignia of the eagle and fist</b> as we do are with us and may be trusted as much as anyone can be trusted these days. There are evil forces at work, my friend, and I fear the King and his wretched Queen are least among them."</i><BR><BR>Myrdock nodded, and with that they rose, shook hands, and departed. <BR><BR>All through the land darkness lay heavy on everything. As the two went their separate ways, there were eyes watching. And in the castle there were whisperings, and in the streets there was hushed talk, and carefully laid plans were set in motion. But above all, in the highest tower of the great city, washed in the soft glow of the midnight sun, the new King stood, his Queen at his side, and looked across his land, and a cruel smile split his face.
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Myrdock
Rider of the Mark

 
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Postby Myrdock » Thu Aug 08, 2002 7:23 pm

<b>Endaril</b> stood atop the crown of a shaggy green hill, looking down across the plains before him, his face troubled in the flickering light of the morning sun. Rohan stretched before him to the horizon, its roiling fields swaying in a soft wind, glistening with dew. The sky above was cloudless, and bright blue. Far away, a few birds twittered a light tune. It was very peaceful.<BR> <BR> Behind him, the bulk of his men were just waking, though an unlucky few (extremely sleepy, he noted, with bags under their eyes) already had breakfast cooking. There were nearly two dozen tents there at the bottom of the hill, and the sounds of life were just stirring within most of them. <i>It is late,</i> he thought, <i>they are still undisciplined, they should’ve been up at daybreak, I don’t care how long we marched last night.</i> But at the moment, truthfully, he cared little. His whole attention was focused on the five horsemen riding towards him across the plains, and the two among them who each had raised a slender flag, bearing the White Horse on Green of Rohan. <BR><BR> He thought back to the messenger who had come last night, riding hard on a frothing mare, bearing startling news and a new batch of marching orders…<i>skirt the edge of Rohan,</i> they said, <i>and make camp just inside their borders by daylight. Treat all the Rohirrim with suspicion, but do not attack unless attacked first. Avoid hostilities if possible. Await further orders.</i> <BR><BR> He had met the messenger with incredulity. The Rohirrim were brothers, friends! These orders sounded as though they were at war, or on the brink of it! He was sure there must’ve been some mistake, a mix-up, the King himself visited Rohan frequently—and he did not fail to point this out to the messenger. <BR><BR> <i>“Our King is dead,”</i> the messenger had replied between gulps of water from a wineskin, <i>“and his son now sits on the throne. Be sure you know where your loyalties lie, Captain Endaril…and it will go better with you…and your men…”</i> The man had remounted not long after and galloped off again into the night, yet his menacing words echoed long after in Endaril’s ears. <BR><BR> They’d marched all night and made camp just a few hours after mid-night on the fringe of Rohan. He was sure there must be some good reason for the orders…it couldn’t be what he feared…<BR><BR> But something whispered to him that it was so. He knew little of the late King’s son, not even a face. He’d heard rumors, of course, of his ill treatment of castle servants, of his womanizing and various other deeds, but all of it was just that—rumors. There were always those sorts of rumors told about the royalty, some true, most untrue. He had no reason to suspect, no reason to believe, and yet…<BR><BR> The horsemen were drawing close, and with a smile he recognized the man at the front of their formation, a man sitting atop a beautiful gray steed with a long tail and braided mane. He was tall and long-limbed, with long golden hair, and he had a proud face, stern and grave, yet pleasant-looking, as though he could laugh at a moment’s notice. In the horsemen’s hands were tall spears of ash, long swords were at their waists, and painted shields were slung across their backs. They were unmistakably Rohirrim. <BR><BR> <i>“<b>Rochann</b>, my good friend!”</i> Endaril laughed, and for a moment he forgot his worries and the messenger’s bewildering tidings.<BR><BR> The horseman he had called to dismounted, and Rochann came forward, grinning. There were great wrinkles of laughter at the corners of his eyes. The two embraced like brothers.<BR><BR> <i>“It is good to see you, old friend!”</i> Rochann said warmly, and clapped Endaril on the shoulder as they drew apart. <i>“What brings you to our good land?”</i> <BR><BR> The weight of everything came rushing back to Endaril as he remembered, and suddenly felt very sick.<BR><BR> <i>“There is trouble, I am afraid, brother,”</i> he murmured, and beckoned to his tent. <i>“We must talk—in private.”</i> Rochann followed without question, or another word.<BR><BR>-----------<BR><BR> Once alone, Endaril spoke carefully, slowly, feeling strangely empty.<BR> <BR> <i>“Our King is dead, Rochann,”</i> he said, flatly.<BR><BR> The rider’s face fell. <i>“I am sorry. I had not heard. I did not even know he was ill! We have been riding nigh on two weeks, and have had little news of events elsewhere. You will have to forgive me, brother, for not knowing. He was a great man, loyal to my people, our land, and our King. We loved him like one of our own. There will be much grieving in Edoras, you may be sure.”</i> He bowed his head.<BR><BR> <i>“That is not all,”</i> Endaril continued. He was coming to the part he knew would be the most painful, and as Rochann looked at him quizzically, he felt a sense of shame sweep over him. <i>“I have—I have orders…orders to occupy your land…”</i><BR> <BR> <i>“What?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“I-I don’t understand it myself, I….”</i> He showed him the written orders. Rochann read them with growing disbelief.<BR> <BR> <i>“This—this is madness! It is as though we are at war! Is this some sort of jest, my friend…?”</i><BR><BR> Endaril shook his head sadly, <i>“I don’t know. I hope it is. One thing I know for sure, brother, is that the people of Gondor would never allow war with Rohan without reason. Such a thing is beyond even imagination…we’ve always been the greatest of allies, Gondor and Rohan, ever more so since the Great War of the Ring of our fathers’ time, and all the way back through the pages of history. Wherever King Elessar rode, King Éomer was always seen at his side, and so it has always been. Remember the nights we used to spend, Rochann? Your éored and my men feasting on the fields beneath the stars? Laughing and jesting into the pale hours of the morning? Gondor remembers. My people are not stupid. Whatever this king is thinking, he will be ousted if he suggests any such thing as violence against our brothers.”</i><BR><BR> Rochann listened to this and smiled, faintly at first through a worried brow and worried thoughts, but by the time Endaril had finished, he was grinning widely, and the merry light was back in his eyes.<BR><BR> <i>“You are right, of course, Endaril. Whatever this means,”</i> he held up the orders, <i>“it means nothing when set against memory and history. Still, it is troublesome…”</i> a hint of shadow crossed his face for a moment, <i>“but no matter! It will be dealt with in all in good time. But for now, my </i>éored<i> is only a few leagues away and riding this way, and they are very hungry, I might add…”</i> There was a mischievous look in his eyes, <i>“I rode ahead at once to meet you on my fastest steed, as soon as my scouts informed me of your presence within our borders. I guessed you were traveling to one of the garrisons in the east, and had stopped to feast with us along the way, just as we used to. And though I may have been wrong, I think we shall set the feasting part right, if I am not mistaken?”</i> <BR><BR> And they both laughed, embraced once more, and stepped out into the sunshine.<BR><BR>------------<BR><BR> <i>“Captain!”</i> A man was running up the hill towards them, his face young and smooth, crowned with curly blond hair. The other Rohirrim had dismounted, and were mingling with his bleary-eyed men, laughing, sharing stories over breakfast, their lean horses already tethered and grazing happily. One of the Rohirrim looked up as they emerged from the tent, and shouted across the camp.<BR><BR> <i>“Endaril! Glad to see your camp is in such well order this early in the morning!”</i> Then he spoke in his own tongue something Endaril couldn’t understand, and all the Rohirrim laughed. Rochann beside him chuckled, and translated. <i>“He says your men are not very thoughtful hosts; though they prepared lunch for our arrival, it is true, there is no one to eat it with! They are all asleep!”</i><BR><BR> <i>“Captain, please!”</i> The man from before had reached them, and though young, he was panting and very red in the face. <i>“An army approaches, not ten minutes march away,”</i> he said breathlessly.<BR><BR> <i>“What?”</i> Endaril scowled, <i>“Fool! Why was I not informed…?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“A scout just came in now, sir. More than a hundred strong.”</i><BR><BR> Even his scouts were losing their disciplined touch. <i>“Their standards?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“No fear, sir. They bear our standards and wear black and silver armor. Men of Gondor, without a doubt. They are coming right to us.”</i><BR><BR> <i>“Get the rest of the men up and ready. We want to impress our visitors, don’t we? I want everything ready by the time they arrive, you understand? Hurry!”</i><BR><BR> The boy turned, still catching his breath, and hurried back down the hill. Rochann stirred uneasily at his side. <BR><BR> <i>“Do you think…?”</i><BR><BR> Endaril cut him off. <i>“No, stay. Perhaps they bring news from Minas Tirith.”</i><BR><BR> With that, he turned, clapped Rochann on the back, and saw to it that his orders were being carried out.<BR><BR>--------------- <BR><BR><BR> The other Gondor men arrived in grand style in two long columns of perfect synchronicity, armor shining in the rising sun. As Endaril waited, his men arrayed behind him, the Rohirrim all in a group to his right, he felt something tugging at his mind, something nagging him, troubling him, something Rochann had said….but he shook it away as the two columns came into view and their leader, the only one on horseback, hailed him from afar. It was not long before the two stood face to face.<BR><BR> <i>“Captain Endaril?”</i> The man before him was short, but muscled, with a gruff voice and long dark hair. He had a dangerous air about him—like a coil ready to spring. Endaril didn’t like the look of him. Rochann didn’t either.<BR><BR> <i>“Yes, that is I. Who are you?”</i><BR><BR> He didn’t answer. <i>“You’ve heard the news, then? About the king?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“Yes, that’s why we’re here. New orders came in with the news just last night.”</i><BR><BR> The man’s eyes lingered on the Rohirrim. <i>“Then what…what are they doing here?”</i><BR><BR> Endaril snorted. <i>“Are you serious? They are our allies and friends. No order changes that, not for me.”</i><BR><BR> The man looked suddenly very relieved. His face softened a little, and a bit of the gruffness disappeared, but he still retained the air of something very dangerous. <i>“Good—I, I wasn’t sure, you know…what to do…all this…I don’t understand…”</i> He seemed at a loss for words, or on the verge of tears.<BR><BR> Endaril felt bad, and not a little surprised. The man looked to be made of sterner stuff than that...yet he didn’t want him to lose face in front of his men, so he approached him, and spoke loudly, so all could hear. <i>“You are welcome here, for however long is needed. There is food and drink for all, and rest for your men.”</i> He lowered his voice, <i>“You and I, however, need to talk…”</i> And then Endaril dismissed his men, and the young captain dismissed his; the fellow seemed to recover somewhat as he issued orders for making camp, and by the time he and Endaril were alone again in Endaril’s tent, he was confident again. <BR><BR><i>“I’m sorry for how I acted out there…”</i> The man said hurriedly and looked at his feet.<BR><BR><i>“What’s your name, captain? What are your orders?”</i><BR><BR> The man didn’t answer, but he continued looking at his feet. <BR> <BR> Well, at least, he’d <i>thought</i> he’d regained his confidence. <i>“Listen, these are strange times. I’m still trying to sort out what to do, how to act. I need to know what happened in Minas Tirith yesterday. Do you have any information? Any idea why the King ordered us into Rohan? Speak, man!”</i><BR><BR> The other captain continued staring at his feet.<BR><BR> <i>“What is wrong with you? I need to know! How did you find us in the first place? Come on, man, is something the matter with you? I heard you speaking before, now have you suddenly been struck dumb--”</i><BR><BR> Endaril stopped as he heard hoof-beats approaching. One of the Rohirrim entered the tent, and spoke softly, eyeing the other captain warily. <BR><BR> <i>“My kindred approach, Endaril. Rochann and the others went out to greet them.”</i><BR><BR> The other captain raised his eyes. With a start, Endaril saw he was different somehow, changed. Green fire danced in his green eyes, and he noticed now for the first time the multitude of scars that covered the other man’s rugged face. Something twisted his lips as he spoke, and the voice that came forth chilled him…<BR><BR> <i>“Now,”</i> the man whispered, and placed a horn to his lips.<BR><BR> The sound was not loud, but it was harsh, lingering but a moment on the air.<BR><BR> Endaril felt his hand go to his sword and his temper rising. <i>“Now what do you--”</i><BR><BR> But he was cut short because abruptly, the other captain drew a short blade, whirled quickly, and promptly opened the Rohirrim’s throat. Without a sound, the man slumped to the ground, his golden hair spread tangled at the captain’s feet. Outside the tent, he could hear screams of men dieing, and a vision came to him—of a hundred men rising at the sound of a horn blast, and with quick, cruel daggers cutting a hundred unsuspecting throats. Somehow, he knew that this is what had happened. He backed away horrified, staring at the spreading pool of blood soaking into the ground at his feet, then back at the captain’s face. It was impassive, unreadable, but the burning green eyes stared intently into his own. After a moment, the man lowered the dripping blade to his side. The Rohirrim stared up at both of them with unseeing eyes. <BR><BR> Something snapped inside Endaril. He was surprised to hear his own voice sound so even, yet so full of quiet determination. <i>“You will burn for this, you know, whoever you are. Whatever you think you are doing….I swear, you will die for this…”</i> He drew his sword.<BR><BR> The man said nothing, but continued staring at him with those burning eyes. There were the sounds of fighting outside…<i>Good,</i> Endaril thought, <i>at least some of my men are putting up a fight.</i> The sound of hoofs drew ever nearer. But inside the tent, neither man moved.<BR><BR> Finally, Endaril struck. He thrust with his broadsword, aiming straight for the man’s heart, but the captain was quick, and danced away…Endaril slashed at him as he dodged, but the man ducked the blade, and struck. With astonishing speed, his fingers locked onto Endaril’s wrist and twisted, and with a cry Endaril dropped his sword. He felt the man slide in behind him and hold the bloody short blade to his throat. The man’s breath was hot against his neck. He was a hostage, powerless to move. They stepped out of the tent into the sunlight.<BR><BR> It was chaos outside. Most of his men lay dead, scattered among bloodied and overturned tents, the remains of a hundred breakfasts trampled in the grass beside them. There was debris everywhere—pots and pans, soldiers’ trinkets, clothes. A few of his men remained alive, however, many still in their night-clothes, fighting valiantly against overwhelming numbers, all of whom were dressed in black and silver armor. His men were fighting hard, but they were inevitably falling, slowly, but surely, one by one. Endaril saw they would not last long.<BR><BR> At that moment, over the hill, Rochann appeared at the head of his <i>éored</i>, and Endaril felt hope rising within him. He saw his friend’s face contort into a horrible rage as he beheld the horror before him. <i>It must not make much sense to him,</i> Endaril thought, <i>he was gone mere minutes…what a bitter surprise…</i><BR><BR> The Rohirrim yelled loudly, and the riders thundered down the hill, eyes ablaze, swords and spears out, vengeance and rage searing their blood. He saw Rochann scanning the scene, looking for him, finally finding him, and when their eyes finally met…<BR><BR> With a shock, Endaril remembered. <i>“No,”</i> he whispered to himself, <i>“he wasn’t ill…”</i> <BR><BR> Suddenly, the man holding him hissed into his ear. <i>“Will you testify, Endaril, man of Gondor and friend of Rohan?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“What?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“Look before you. Do you see what is happening? Will you testify, man of Gondor?”</i><BR><BR> And just like that, everything clicked into place in his mind. The Rohirrim rushing towards the traitors, the sudden news of a new king, his odd marching orders. It all began to fit together. He yelled suddenly. <i>“No! No! Rochann, turn back! You don’t understand! Tell your men to turn back! Do not fight!”</i> But his voice was drowned in the sound of battle.<BR><BR> The riders of Rohan fell upon the first of the traitors, and their fury was terrible to see. The first few men seemed surprised and did not even fight back. The Rohirrim cut through them without even slowing down. <BR><BR> Rochann was riding towards him, cutting a path through a group of the black-and-silver soldiers. They seemed to be just recovering from the initial shock of the Rohirrim’s attack, and were now just starting to fight back against them…<BR><BR> But Endaril knew better. It was a feint, a play… <BR><BR> As Rochann came closer, Endaril saw the last of his own men fall. He was the man who had warned him earlier of the approaching army, a new one, he didn’t even remember his name…his face was red, in a kind of stupefied disbelief, but he fought well with the sword—but not well enough. He fell with a cry. None of his men had survived. A few of the traitors lay in the dust as well, bloodied like those they had betrayed, but too few. He felt bitter tears burning in the corners of his eyes. It was all too horrible to believe…it was impossible…<BR><BR> The traitors had now turned their full attention upon the Rohirrim, and the battle was very fierce. Crashing armor, clanging shields, the glinting of swords and spears, split the very air itself. <BR><BR> The man whispered into his ear, <i>“You see, man of Gondor? Will you testify? They attacked us unprovoked…you saw it with your own eyes. Rohirrim killed our soldiers first. Will you testify?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“You killed the one in the tent.”</i><BR><BR> “There was no way they could have known that. He is hidden from their eyes…They attacked us unprovoked.”<BR><BR> It was true, in a fashion. Some sort of twisted fashion. <i>“You betrayed us—you know very well who’s side they’re on…they are truer than your kind! They were coming to my men’s defense, you traitor!”</i> He spat, his words coming fast and furiously, <i>“you will burn—"</i><BR><BR> The man silenced him. <i>“Will you testify?”</i><BR><BR> <i>“Never.”</i><BR><BR> <i>“A shame. But it is no matter. You see up there?”</i> He pointed with the blade to something on the crest of a far-away hill. Endaril could just make out the shape of men, standing beside some sort of large cart. They appeared to be watching. <BR><BR> The man continued in his ear. <i>“Merchants. A caravan. Completely innocent of our little drama going on here, I swear. Unwitting pawns, just as you are…but they have eyes to see, don’t they? And I wonder what it is they see? It’s so much easier to distinguish men from horses at that distance, don’t you think? Much easier to see when a rider kills a man than when a man kills another man…And make no mistake—Rohan struck first.”</i><BR><BR> <i>“They would’ve seen you killing my men! They will have seen your treachery!”</i><BR><BR> <i>“I'm afraid not, Captain. Not nearly enough of your men survived to cause a disturbance, not from where they’re standing…not when a hundred riders clearly galloped and attacked my poor, unsuspecting soldiers. We left only enough to provoke the Rohirrim. Besides, why would men of Gondor be fighting themselves, when Rohirrim were bearing down on them….? You fool. They suspect nothing of betrayal. It has been arranged, you see, set up…”</i> <BR><BR> Rochann was almost upon them. He felt the blade bite into his throat.<BR><BR> <i>“Last chance, Endaril…”</i> The man’s voice was like ice.<BR><BR> Endaril took his last chance, and screamed. <i>“ROCHANN!!! RUN!! YOU KNOW THE TRUTH! HONOR A DEAD MAN’S LAST REQUEST!!! RUN!! REMEMBER WHAT I SAID…… GONDOR WOULD NEVER ATTACK ROHAN WITHOUT--”</i><BR><BR> He never finished and never would. His body fell dead to the ground, unhearing, even as his final words echoed in the air all around, rising above even the great clamor of the battle, and lingering faintly on the wisps of a gentle wind…<BR><BR>------------- <BR> <BR> Rochann stared numbly as Endaril fell, and all else seemed to vanish. The battle, the grass, even the man who’d killed him…they faded as his body slipped to the ground. His friend’s last words echoed in his mind, reverberating, roaring, and then, in a flash, he was back to the present. The man who had killed him was gone.<BR><BR> He turned back to the battle, and to his horror, he saw only a dozen of his riders left. <i>What kind of men are these, that betray their brothers, and slay a whole </i>éored<i>? They are no normal warriors…they are possessed with a fighting skill I have never seen before…</i><BR><BR> He watched in mingled horror and awe as they parried (nearly) every stroke, met (nearly) every blade, and countered with amazing speed. His own riders were falling, but they made sure the price was high for every one who went down. He swelled with pride. He spurred his horse to join them, to fight gloriously alongside his brethren until all their deaths, and to join the ranks of heroes immortalized in song…but something held him back. He heard Endaril’s screams, echoing in his mind, and remembered…<BR><BR> He watched his men, utterly surrounded, utterly hopeless, and heard snatches of song waver in his head, conflicted with Endaril’s final words. It seemed like hours that he waited there, on the precipice of decision. The battle raged before him, within him, around him. Finally, his jaw set. He alone had seen what happened, he alone knew of Endaril's riddle. He would make sure they were honored. He would see to it that they were remembered. But most of all, he would make sure that those who did this would pay, and that the new King in Gondor, at whose feet he laid all blame, would answer for his treachery with blood, and fire, and pain…<BR><BR> Rochann turned and spurred his horse onward, down and across the wide fields of Rohan. He looked not as one who was running, but as one preparing for battle…the greatest battle of his life. <BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Fri Aug 09, 2002 8:36 pm

From her room high in the tower Seanera gazed across the wall that guarded the city she had spent her entire life in. Past these walls of stone she saw the fields cast in a shadow of evening light, this was her favorite time of day, when she could be sure no pathetic worm of a spy could report her comings and goings to the King. She knew by heart exactly what the King and his Queen were doing even as she stood by her window overlooking the lands she called her home. Seanera knew that the King and the Queen were passing the night away doing some devilish thing or another, plotting their next deed or deciding upon some new law, for it was still much too early to call it a night.<BR><BR>'Well it may be to early for the happy couple to call the night done, but I belive the night will not bring me any comfort. I might as well sleep it away.' Seanera thought to herself as she tore her sea gray eyes away from the night sky and turned back to face her plain room. Just the bare necessities for a "bothersome guest." As she was so well known to the Queen, 'prehaps she thinks of me as competition.' The thought of it was enough to bring a smirk to the normally saddned face of Seanera. Ever since the King's death there had nothing worthy of a smile, not to her anyway. Just thinking of her lost king was enough to bring tears to Seanera's eyes, she missed him more then any could possibly know.<BR><BR>Seanera moved away from the window now and made her way to her cabinet holding her few dresses and underskirts. Pulling off her dress and placing on a nightdress Seanera picked up a brush and began to carefully brush her long thick brown hair, thoughts deep on other matters and moving only in habit. Her eyes focused on her reflextion in the small mirror and she was surprised to see how old she looked, the strain of living in such conditions was taking its toll on the young woman of Gondor. Though still retaining much of her beauty, she looked older then her head lady in waiting. And that was really saying something. <BR><BR>Sighing Seanera placed the brush down harder then she meant to in her distraction, the loud <i> thump</i> of the brush handle hitting wood brought her back to reality, and even though her thoughts had been morbid Seanera had to admit that they were still more plesant then what was happening these days. She remembered suddenly a conversation she had overheard passing the throne room earlier that month.<BR><BR>--------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR><i> "My Lord, you sent for me?" </i> the young boy who often served as a errand runner for the King and his closest guards seemed scared, though he tried his hardest not to show it. It was the greatest honor to serve the King.... or so he had been told.<BR><i>"Yes I did, I have a message I need sent to one of my Captians, prehaps you know him, then again prehaps you don't. His name is Endaril."<BR>"Oh yes my King I have heard the name from many of the men. I would be honored to do such a service."<BR>"Very well,"</i> the King handed a sealed letter to the lad then the King's eyes flashed with malice.<i>"It is to be delivered to him alone. No other, or you shall have to pay a high price."</i> Seeing the look of fright in the boys eyes he smiled coldly,<i>"I see you are frightened by my words, to make you feel more at ease I shall give you the jist of what I have written. All I shall say is it concerns the people of Rohan."</i> With that the King dismissed the young boy who stumbled out of the throne room unsure if he should feel proud, or just scared. <BR><BR>----------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR>That had been all Seanera had heard that day, though it had been enough for her. She felt her heart cry out at the mention of the Rohan men, for she had kinsmen in that noble land. But surely the King would not do anything evil against them, for they were friends of the men of Gondor, had been for longer then most could remember.<BR><BR>Suddenly a knock came at her door and she hurried to it. A man stood there and cast his eyes downward at the sight of the Lady. Mumbling sadly words she could not make out fully he handed her a letter sealed with the crest of Rohan. Taking the letter dumbly she shut the door in the man's face not caring to hear anything eles he may have to say. She opened the letter with a shaking hand and read it carefully. A few moments later the halls echoed and rang with the sound of her cry. And the men who heard lowered their heads in grief.
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Fri Aug 09, 2002 8:36 pm

.......
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Postby Nessamelda » Sat Aug 10, 2002 6:08 am

She pushed open the door of the abandoned house with some trepidation. Although it was in one of the less fashionable parts of Minas Tirith, she could not believe that after all these years it was still empty. <BR><BR>For once, it had been hers. There was her desk. A quill still sat on it, covered with dust. There a letter, half written, long forgotten.<BR><BR>Alfirin paced on, her wet boots leaving tracks through twenty years of dust. On, up the stairs, across faded carpets, into another room. She frowned, deepening the scar across her nose and the lines about her eyes. Yes, she remembered this room. <BR><BR>In this room she had first kissed the young Duke Arren, her husband. In this room she had given birth to her daughter.<BR>In this room she had said her last farewells to Arren; and her last goodbyes to her children, both the living and the two that died. <BR><BR>For in this room, the old King in his youthful arrogance and pride had cursed her common blood, for daring to love one of his. He had doomed her to exile, and had taken her Royal-blooded daughter, and she had not seen the child since.<BR><BR>Yet Alfirin had not been without revenge. For Arren, in his love and pride, had given his young bride a gift that was not his to give; an heirloom of his House. And Alfirin on leaving had taken it. Although she knew it was not hers, and knew its value, she too was proud. While not Royalty, her scholar Father had always emphasised that she, unlike even the King was of pure Numenorean descent, a daughter of the men of the West. <BR><BR>So, on the great green stone that she had taken, Alfirin had sworn an oath, that she would see the King's house fall. <BR><BR>And now the King was dead. Alfirin had dared to return. She felt round her neck for the pouch in which the Elfstone sat and fingered it. And if the rumours that she heard were true, the breaking of his house might be arranged in a manner more complete than she had ever hoped.<BR><BR>Alfirin went to the window and threw open the rotting curtains. <BR>Suddenly footsteps ran past in the streets below. There was a shouting, and noise of pursuit. She drew back. <BR><BR>A noise downstairs. The door had banged open. She cursed her failure to bolt it in several languages. Then stood, poised for flight or talk, or death, at the head of the stairs.<BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Sun Aug 11, 2002 8:00 pm

After receiving the letter from Rohan Seanera paced the room like a caged animal, feeling trapped and anxious. Folding the letter carefully knowing somewhere in her mind it would be helpful for her to keep it on her person, as long as the King or his Queen didn't find it on her, that is. Finding she couldn't stay in the room, or the palace anymore she switched back into a traveling dress deciding that it would be less bother then one of her formal gowns, and much easier for her to slip through the now dirty streets of the city. Her stomach lurched thinking about the shabby conditions the people were living in, it seemed that nowadays the people either had more money then they deserved or nothing at all. She wished she could change that.. make things as they once were, as they were in other cities. As Seanera wrote out instructions to her maidens on what to do if she wasn't back in the morning she tried to think of any allies that would be able to help the people of her city. Rohan and Dol Amroth had always lent their support and friendship to the city, but would they still? She had no way of knowing. The letter finished she pulled on a tan peasant dress and plaited her hair into a loose braid.<BR><BR>Having finished that she made her way purposefully to the door. Placing a slender hand on the handle she turned it open and then turned to look once more at her room, the room she had spent every free moment in. It had been her haven and although it had seemed drab and lonely she felt a pang of sadness knowing she may choose never to return to it. Suddnely she dashed back to her desk and picked up a small gem turning it in her hand and smiling fondly at it.She found a long fine chain in her drawer and attached the jewel to it, slipping the chain over her neck she tucked it beneath her clothes so as not to have it stolen when she was distracted. Then she marched out the door shutting it firmly after her, not daring to look back.<BR><BR>-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR>She made her way out of the palace easy enough, she had snuck out many times in the past whenever she felt the need for seculsion, especially when she was younger. There were mysteries about her past, she knew that, everyone did, and the outside world had always seemed so secluded and detached from her. But now as Seanera made her way through the streets stopping only occasionally to peer inside the windows, streaked with dust and grime, she saw what she missed most of all. Family, in most of the old homes there was some form of a family inside, mothers and fathers with childeren of all ages. In a few there seemed to be only one parent but they seemed happy all the same. Even with new restrictions and leadership when people were in their homes none of that seemed important. Of course many of the homes in the inner circles of Minas Tirith were desertated. Some had been for as long as Seanera could remember, others were more frequent departures. She ran her hand over the stone and wooden sides of the houses as she made her way down the cobbled streets. <BR><BR>After several twists and turns she began to feel out of place and lost, she had never ventured this far from the high circle where the palace was situated, the futher she went the dirtier and more deserted the streets became. Soon there was little or no sign of any premanent dwellers. Suddenly the sound of many footsteps could be heard from around a corner, she cautiously edged her way to the corner and peered around it. It was dusky and she could not make out any details for it was some ways away, but it seemed to come from an old beat up looking home. Who or what the intruders were after she had no idea, deciding it would be easiest to wait and see what the commotion was about she watched in silence.
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Postby Ráca » Mon Aug 12, 2002 9:00 am

<i>The noise at the bottom of the stairs grew louder and louder, and eventually the steady beat of boots thumping up the stairs came to the ears of the woman waiting within, which themselves grew in intensity. A female voice yelled something obscene, and there came several bass male voices yelling in reply.<BR><BR>Suddenly, a heavily cloaked figure swung around the top of the stairs, and ran straight into Alfirin, knocking them both to the floor. She scrambled to her feet, cursing, and looked briefly at the person she had run into - looking apologetically at her, she muttered under her breath:</i><BR><BR>"Sorry about that - I would say hello... but I'm in a bit of a fix, so I imagine I'll have to deal with that first... Just do me a favour, will you? Back against the opposite wall..." <i>Her voice held a note of urgency, and Ráca turned before Alfirin could react, praying that she did as she was asked. <BR><BR>She only had a moment to think, however - a heavily-armed man entered from the same door that Ráca had, and turned to her. Drawing his blade, he caled out in a commanding voice,</i><BR><BR>"Renegade! You know what I'm here to do - make it easy for yourself, eh? You must be tired, having run from us all that way... c'mon - give up." <i>His voice was convincing and friendly, but his face was impassive - he was prepared to kill her on the spot if she resisted.<BR><BR>She resisted.<BR><BR>Glaring at him angrily, she pushed her cloak aside, bringing her hands in front of her, which were gloved - and had a few new 'accessories'. Each hand was equipped with a cruel-looking blade, their edges gleaming silver in the poor light. Underneath her cloak she seemed to be wearing dark clothing, and light, black boots. Her face should have been visible now her hood was thrown back, but her face was in shadow, leaving her anonymous to Alfirin.</i><BR><BR>"Well, funnily enough, I'm not going to drop my weapons and let you tske me away.... I'm having far too much fun." <i>Though what she said was sarcastic, her tone itself was icy, and altogether hostile. She grinned suddenly, her teeth white against the stark black of the room in the light of the evening. Her eyes gleamed black in the reflection of the fading light in her daggers, and she laughed softly, the rich sound rebounding off the walls - although it would have been friendly in any other circumstance, the sound chilled the guard's bones to the marrow, and he backed up a step.</i><BR><BR>"You c-can't run, murderer... there are guards downstairs, too..." <i>His voice quavered, and a fine sheen of sweat lined his brow. She had killed many times before, for that was why he was chasing her - he didn't doubt for a moment that she would just as quickly do the same to him. Ráca noted the fear evident in his voice, and grinned despite the predicament she was in.</i><BR><BR>"You're scared, are you? It's okay... everyone gets scared.... especially of me." <i>Her voice was mocking, and she took a couple of steps towards him - he didn't back off. She continued talking, taking his attention with the velvety tones of her voice, while all the time she was walking towards him, blades drawn.</i><BR><BR>"Some are scared of the dark, other are terrified of loneliness... me, I'm scared of... Death. Tell you what.. I'll kill you, then you can tell me what it's like - hows that?"<i> Her voice had taken on ominous tones, and in a show of dexterity she ducked, and knocked his blade aside as he lunged for her, bring herself up behind him, and placing her blade to his throat. He physically shook now, terrified - then the other guards arrived. She was about to bargain for the life of the guard, but then she felt something stir inside her.<BR><BR>Ráca went cold, and she felt a mist growing in her consciousness. If she hadn't gone through this before, the feeling itself would have been dehabilitating, but she got used to the feeling long, long ago.She looked up defiantly at the guards, one of whom had brought a torch - her eyes gleamed a bright, metallic silver in the firelight, showing off tremendously against her raven-black curls, pale face and elegantly pointed ears... she was an Elf.<BR><BR>The guards cried out in surprise, and Ráca let go of the guard, pushing him back to his comrades. Their attentions were taken with her for a moment longer, and then they were diverted to something completely different. <BR><BR>A figure appeared beside Ráca, seemingly from nowhere.<BR><BR>She was just as tall as the Elfess, andher skin was white. Her raven-black hair was straight, and down to her waist, with a belt of what looked like Raven's feathers holding closed a length of flowing black material that constructed a robe. She looked at the guards accusingly, and they cried out again - her eyes were as silver as Ráca's at that moment.<BR><BR>Pyratrien, Goddess of Darkness, glared at them. When she spoke, her brilliant bass tones resounded through the walls, making all who weren't used to it (everyone but Ráca) shudder involuntarily.<BR><BR></i>"<b>Why, men of Minas Tirith, do you insist upon pursuing she whom I favour? You should know better... LEAVE. If you fail to do as I wish, then you shall regret it - Middle Earth has yet to see a Goddess get angry.... and I am erfectly willing to start, if you do not obey.</b>"<BR><BR><i>The guards glanced at each other for a moment, then all unanimously decided that maybe they ought to leave. Ráca watched in mild amusement as they dropped their weapons, and ran back down the stairs - they weren't going to risk angering a Goddess.<BR><BR>When all were gone, Ráca looked around, to find Pyratrien also gone. <b>She only came when she was needed - she has yet to visit me when she wants a chat...</b> she thought wryly. Turning, she looked at Alfirin, whose face Ráca could n't read in the once again poor light. Shaking her head ruefully, she walked up to the window, and pulled the sash up, putting a leg through.</i><BR><BR>"It's a pity, whoever you are - I never even got to introduce myself... If you want my advice, I'd leave the house soon - news travels fast, especially about that of a 'Goddess'. I'll be on the street corner, watching the fun, if you want to introduce yourself."<BR><BR><i>The phrase seemed in itself to be an open invitation, and without a second thought, she climbed out of the windoe, jumping from half-way down the trellis framing the back wall, and landing silently on booted feet. Turning, Ráca looked once more up at the house, thenwalked to a street corner, leaning up against the corner of a building. </i><BR><BR><b>Hopefully the woman would have the sense to leave - for whatever she was doing there, it certainly wasn't bedding down for the night. She looked as though she had been... reminiscing...</i><BR>
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Postby Nessamelda » Mon Aug 12, 2002 5:24 pm

Alfirin stood stunned, for a second. She was not quite sure whether or not what she had seen was real or a hallucination. It had all happened so quickly, and besides, direct violence always made her feel a little light headed and queasy - she generally stayed well out of the way of that sort of thing if she could. Unless she had been very much mistaken that had been an elf-woman. But not like any she had seen before, in all her travels. And there had been something else. Something very peculiar. Whatever it was it had scared off the other intruders, and that at least was good. But the warning the elf had given was clear.<BR><BR>And besides, it tied in with her own thoughts. There were too many ghosts in this place. Sleep would not come easily. An inn would be pleasant. If she could find some means of paying for it .<BR><BR>Alfirin slowly went down the stairs. All clear. Then she quietly left the silent house by a more conventional exit than the elf. She was not sure that she wanted to meet that elf again; too dangerous, too unpredicatable. <BR><BR>The street was dark now. Night had fully fallen. On the corner a figure watched. Not the elf - too small and uncloaked. A peasant woman by the looks of it, nothing to be alarmed about. Probably some country girl visiting the big city.<BR><BR>But Alfirin's well developed sense of things being out of place made her stop. For a peasant woman, she looked very clean. Her hair shone in the light of the candle-lamp that Alfirin held to light the dark streets. And her hands. That was a real give-away. Those hands had never done a days manual labour in her life. There were no calluses or blisters, but long elegant fingernails. And, she looked lost and not particularly threatening - with any luck she needed shelter too, and could be pursuaded to pay for both of them.<BR><BR>"Greetings my lady" said Alfirin, with a small bow. "You look, if I might say so, as if you are need of some assistance, and shelter. As you can see, I too am looking for somewhere to spend the night. My house is a little cold and unwelcoming to stay alone. Would you care to join me at a hotel?"<BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Mon Aug 12, 2002 9:31 pm

Seanera watched as the guards rush out of the broken down house looking deeply shaken. More guards had arrived as backup and looked wary of their commrades. <BR><i> "What is this, what is this?"</i> came a deep voice coming from a tall well toned guard bearing the colors and sign displaying his rank as a Captin of the guards. The guard that had had the blade placed against his throat and had seen up close the sight that now made these full grown men quake as though they were young boys looked at the Captin and though he spoke with a steady voice his eyes betrayed his emotions. <BR><i>"There are strange things happening in that old place."</i> the man said pointing over at the home. The others nodded their heads in agreement.<i> "An elf, or a woman that strongly resembled an elf, engaged us in a small fight. Then out of no where another dark woman appeared beside her, what did she call herself men?"</i> he asked turning to them for support. A young slight man spoke up, <i>" I believe she was a Godess, sir."</i><BR><BR>The Captin nodded his head at this and seeing that the men indeed wished to leave this place behind them he gave them his leave and as they departed he glanced around once more, making sure none of his men were left straggling behind. For he was on a seperate mission, that is what had lead him to this circle. Seeing the one he was sent for he began to move, then another figure came towards the spot where his target stood. The Captin moved into the shadows, careful not to be seen or heard.<BR><BR>The woman came over to Seanera, slowly at first, then with more determination. Seanera was unsure the intentions of the woman, but before she could move the lady spoke,<i>"Greetings my lady; You look, if I might say so, as if you are need of some assistance, and shelter. As you can see, I too am looking for somewhere to spend the night. My house is a little cold and unwelcoming to stay alone. Would you care to join me at a hotel?"</i> She spoke sweetly and with no hint of malice so Seanera decided she was not to be thought of as hostile, at this point at any rate.<BR><BR>She turned to face the stranger more fully, as her eyes swept over this woman Seanera immediatly felt out of place, even in her peasant dress she knew this woman could tell she didn't belong any where near this lower circle. She felt a stab of pity for the woman and with a smile addressed her.<i>"You are correct madam, I am a little lost I'm afraid. I could do with any help you may wish to give."<i> The woman smiled at the naive manner. <BR><i>"Well then let us find an inn with open rooms, shall we?"</i> As they walked up the streets into the more populated circles of the city she said,<i>"Would you do me the honor of a name, lady, for I feel odd in the company of a stranger."</i><BR><BR>Seanera smiled faintly and said ,<i> "You may call me Seanera, and what of yours?"</i> <i>"Alfirin."</i> Was all the woman said.<BR><BR>They walked in silence through the city unaware that a dark shadow followed them at a careful pace. Hearing the name he wanted the stranger smiled in the dark and noting the inn they ducked into a few moments later the stranger ducked back into the dark alley and began to make his way back to report the information.<BR><BR>Back in the inn Seanera managed to talk the owner into giving up two rooms for a lighter price, and all it took was a charming smile and a few bats of the eye lashes. She took out a small pouch held on the inside pocket of her dress and handed the portly man the money. She then decided she could do with a small dinner and questioned whether Alfirin wished to join her. <BR><i>"Oh I suppose it won't hurt for me to sit at a table for awhile."</i> Alririn said smiling. Seanera returned the smile and they sat down at a small well scrubbed wooden table.<BR><BR>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR>Meanwhile at the Palace the Queen stood facing her errand runner with a devilish smile on her face. The man that had been following Seanera and Alfirin all the way the inn was none other then the Captin that had allowed his men to return after the run in with the Goddess. <BR><i> "So she has decided the palace no longer fits her has she, wants to live as a mere commoner with the rest of them eh? Well, so be it. If that is her way I will be happy to make sure she gets her wish."</i> The guard stood in front of her and he smiled ever so slightly at this news, then bodly he asked of her, <i>" What would you wish me to have done, my Queen?"</i><BR>The Queen shook her head at this, she ran a long hand over the guards cheeck and answered,<i>"Not a thing let her get into trouble like any other street urchin, then we will have all the right to kick her out of the city she cares so much for."</i> An evil smile twisted her mouth at that and she then turned from the guard and stared out the large window, she knew that soon her husband would join her, as he did every night.
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Postby Nessamelda » Tue Aug 13, 2002 1:05 am

The two women looked at each other across the half-finished meal. The food had been really dreadful, even by Alfirin's rather low standards, and it was clear that the younger woman could barely stomach it. <BR><BR>"I thank you for your hospitality Lady Seanera. I am sorry that we could not find a meal more fitting to your usual tastes."<BR><BR>The younger woman raised her eyebrow at the use of the title. Alfirin smiled again. <BR>"It is twenty years since I lived at court, and my mode of life since then has been rather less exalted; but I can still recognise the manners and the appearance of a lady. I came very close to being one myself...."<BR><BR>Her voice trailed off. The woman in front of her was younger than she first appeared. Probably not that much older than she had been when first thrown out into the wide world. Probably not that much older than her daughter would be now....... wherever she was, and under whatever name she had been taught to use. No doubt she had been taught the name to call her mother, the harsh name the old King had used that day.......<BR><BR>Alfirin shook her head. She must be losing her wits. The house had unsettled her badly, with both the old ghosts and the new. She could not let herself keep dwelling in the past. <BR><BR>Alfirin called the serving maid over:<BR>"Some more of this execrable wine if you will". She paid for it with her last coin, and then turned to Seanera again: <BR><BR>"We live in strange times my lady. I saw something today that I have never heard of before. My father was Keeper of the Records at the White Tower for many years. I can read both Sindarin and Quenya, and in some scripts that none but I on this side of the sea remember (although I am told I speak the elven tongues with a most appalling accent. ) And never have I heard tell in all the ancient book and papers I have read of such a dark vision as accompanied an elf that came into my house. Not in all the forgotten tales. It occupies my mind, and I apologise for being distracted."<BR><BR>Alfirin paused. If she had judged correctly this young lady had a reason for leaving court. Her name had a ring of the Rohirrim about it. She made a guess and decided to take a risk. If she was wrong it would be costly, because what she was about to say was treason.<BR><BR>Seanera drank a sip of wine and grimaced. Alfirin continued :<BR>"Strange times indeed. Strange, that an old King should be murderd by his son, and that son forget all old allegiances and abandon guard against the ancient enemy"<BR><BR>Seanera nearly spat out her mouthful of wine in a fit of coughing, for Alfirin's voice, though quiet, had fallen clear as shattering glass into one of those strange silences that can fall across the busiest gathering. <BR>The serving maid broke the stunned silence with the sound of breaking crockery. She had dropped her tray. Everyone in the busy place returned to their conversations, but a few curious glances were turned to the two women eating alone.<BR><BR>Some of the glances were very interested indeed. There was more than one watcher and they had very different motivations.<BR><BR>Alfirin shook her head in rueful astonishment. It had been a very bad day.<BR>
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Postby Ráca » Tue Aug 13, 2002 8:11 am

<i>It wasn't only The captain of the Guard that had followed Alfirin and Seanera to the Inn - Ráca had done so as well. Against all her common sense, she had decided that the opportunity of meeting a Lady of the Rohirrim had been too good to waste.... the mere accent of her voice had told her as much. Ráca didn't profess to being well travelled when in the company of others, but she had been to a great many places in her life - and Rohan had once been one of them.<BR><BR>The guard had travelled in the midst of a throng of people, careful not to be spotted - but evidently he wasn't as clever as he deemed himself. For one, he had not stuck to the shadows, as Ráca had done - for all he knew, the company may have been heading somewhere entirely different. Also, he was not dressed as a commoner - he was dressed as a captain typically would be, which was a dead giveaway.<BR><BR>She had heard the traitorous words of the woman she had met earlier, and came out with a wide variety of colourful curses under her breath. Now was not he place - didn't she know that? Evidently not, as most of the Inn had heard her comment, and nearly all were fierce royalists - even though it was spoken quietly. It seemed that her timing wasn't exactly perfect, either, as some of the slightly more infamous royalists were in there, too.</i><BR><BR>"Wonderful... and the last thing I wanted this evening was a fight, too..." <i>Ráca muttered under her breath, before once again acting on her instincts. Most in this Inn knew her face, if not her name - and they knew that most who opposed her were found dismembered or floating in a nearby river a day or two later. With that in mind, she stood up, and said very loudly and pointedly,</i> "I'll have an Ale, Bartender, <b>please.</b>" <BR><BR><i>At the same time she also removed her hood, revealing some very distinctive features indeed. A head of raven-black hair framed a pale face, with a set of darkly-lashed eyes, the irises of which were very nearly the same hue as her hair, and no longer silver. The feminine appearance of her face belied her true nature - for she was very dangerous, and used to combat since she was in her teenage years.<BR><BR>The pointed phrase caught everyone's attentions, and the smooth tones of her voice drifted upon the air in the room - all heard her speak, and turned to see who had dismissed the words. The Bartender himself turned to see her, and his already pale face dropped several shades further.</i><BR><BR>"Oh, it's <b>you</b>." <i>He said flippantly, trying desperately to sound unsurprised and dismissive - the very look in his eyes told Ráca the exact opposite. Smiling at him sweetly, she said loudly,</i> "And I'll also have whatever those two ladies in the corner were having, please." <i>Stupid, she knew, but if she didn't want to see them knifed in a back alley later in the evening, she was going to have to intervene.</i><BR><BR><i>That had not been expected - he started, and muttered,</i> "Fine... martyr yourself then..." <i>And then answered, </i> "Of course, m'lady."<BR><BR><i>He served the drinks quickly, and what felt like the entire Inn turned their eyes to Ráca as she took up the drinks, and walked slowly over to Alfirin's and Seanera's table. Setting the drinks on the tabletop, she glared pointedly at both of them, and then turned to glare defiantly at the rest of the establishment. They seemed to get the hint, because they all turned back to their drinks, and their conversations - it wasn't worth losing your life over the mutterings of someone who would undoubtedly pay the price sooner or later.<BR><BR>Ráca herself drank her Ale quickly,and urged the others to do the same with a small motion of her hand. They did, while under her watchful eye. Once done, she walked back over to the bar, and said in normal tones,</i> "Barkeep - I'll have a room with twin beds for the Ladies, and one seperate room for myself, please." <i>By then she had already mulled over what would happen, and what she would do to counter it - now all she had to do was set it all in motion. <BR><BR>The Barkeep nodded, and handed her three keys, proclaiming in his bass voice, <i>"Number four for the Ladies, and number six for yourself - suit you alright?"<BR>"Yes, it suits me fine, thankyou - I believe we shall go up now, so please can no-one bother us."<BR>"Of course, m'lady - no-one shall go to number <b>four</b> or six tonight... g'night, m'lady."<BR><BR><i>The stress put upon the ladies room number was barely noticable, but Ráca's keen elven ears picked it up immediately. On the way back to the table, she permitted herself a small smile - he had taken the bait, and now all she had to do was wait. <BR><BR>Placing a guiding hand on each of the other women's shoulders, she put just enough force on their collarbones to steer them upstairs, all the while making it seem like she was only making friendly gestures while she was talking to them - suffice to say, she wasn't.<BR><BR>Reaching the landing, she walked them straight past room number four, and installed them into room number six. Sitting them both down on the bed, she said ominously,</i> <BR><BR>"If I don't find you both right here when I get back, there will be serious trouble, understand?"<BR><BR><i>Ráca took it for granted that they did, and walked into room number four - she then proceeded to 'fluff up' the covers of the twin beds, using spare pillows to imitate a human form sleeping within each of them.<BR><BR>Finished, she walked back down the wooden floorboards of the landing, and back into number six, shutting the door behind her with a barely audible 'click'. <BR><BR>Once inside, she glared at each of the women, saving a special one for Alfirin. Her mouth retreated from it's hard line as she saw the fear and confusion on their faces, but her eyes remained stern. Turning without a word, she drew the curtains, and doused all but one candle, taking care to place that somewhere where it could not be seen from the unshuttered window. Turning back to them, she said harshly</i><BR><BR>"Have you not the wit to know that you should not mention such things here? <BR><BR>Certainly, it needs to be said - but by mentioning that one topic of conversation, you have ensured that you may not sleep easy while you remain in the part of the city - possibly not any of it. My name is Ráca - and before either of you ask, yes, it DOES mean 'Wolf' in Quenyan. <BR>I took a massive risk to side with you - and it has to be said that I don't usually risk my life for mere strangers. If you wish to see the evening out, do not leave this room - remain quiet, and don't castyour shadow near the window... the deception must be complete, for I cannot guarantee to protect both of you at once if we are attacked.<BR>Understand this, Ladies - I do this not because I want to, but because I must - there are few here who truly are with the cause, and those who do must be kept alive... though to eb honest, I'd rather I was being paid." <i>She stopped, and looked at each of them in turn.</i><BR><BR>"Sleep - you shall need it."<BR><BR><i>With that, she ignored them both completely, and settled herself in a large chair, her hand at her thigh. To anyone else, it would have seemed that she was doing it only to be comfortable... but under her hand was concealed one of her many cruel blades.<BR><BR>She was ready for a fight.</i>
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Postby Nessamelda » Tue Aug 13, 2002 5:45 pm

Alfirin stood, looking down at the Elf. She was extremely angry. The arrogance of elves made her want to spit. She could admire their scholarship, and their art, but their attitude of superiority irritated her beyond belief. And this one was worse than average. The stress of the day and night finally made her snap:<BR><BR>"Elf, I know the word for wolf in Sindar and in Quenya and in the language of the dark elves. In all the tongues of men I can say it. In the secret tongue of the dwarves. And even, in the darkest tongue of all, the language of the dark lord, can I say the word for wolf. So do not patronise me, elf. I know what I have done tonight. It was not well judged or well timed, but at least we three know what we are and what we believe. And if I had not said what I said we would still be fencing in the dark, trying to work out who to trust.<BR><BR>"I am no fighter, and I would not have had us discovered so openly. But these are perilous times and sometimes risks must be taken. Otherwise there will still be a dark queen and a dark king on the throne of Gondor when we are dead and buried.<BR><BR>"Do you realise just how hard the task is that we face? I am a scholar and I know things that many others have forgotten. Do not forget the words of the Elessar on taking his throne. While the White tree, the scion of Nimloth the fair, grows in the Court of the Fountain, his line will rule in Gondor. For a thousand years, it was foretold. Bearing the symbols of their Kingship, the crown with wings of a sea bird, and of course the elfstone, that gave the Elessar his name. And while we may hate him, this King is of the true line. I remember the young Prince when he was a small child. An unpleasant boy, spoiled by his father, who foolishly gave way to all the boy's many tantrums. He used to scream and spit when he couldn't get his own way and I gather that little has changed since."<BR><BR>She gave a half smile. "While we know that the elfstone is missing..." Raca raised her eyebrows. Seanera gave a gasp of shock. "Oh, is that not common knowledge?" said Alfirin, mockingly. " I know it . It was well known in the court twenty years ago, but I imagine it is not something that they advertised widely, and like so much else has been forgotten. But if we are to succeed in overthrowing a rightful king we are fighting the power of foresight and prophecy. Even the mighty Valar are bound by such things."<BR><BR>She smiled, not pleasantly, at Raca. "I gather however that Gods may be exempt, if your little pet is what she claims. You will be useful. And if I can claim my inheritance you will be paid, if that is the most important thing to you."<BR><BR>The elf was almost shaking wih fury at the woman's impertinence. But if what she said was true, she too would have her uses. <BR><BR>The two of them stared at each other. Then Seanera said softly. "Cease bickering. I heard a noise upon the stair"<BR>Raca resumed her watch.<BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Tue Aug 13, 2002 7:29 pm

A huddle of six figures gathered around the light of a small lantern. This would not have seemed odd in one of those poorer districts, but it did seem strange to see such a huddle in such a rich district. The six figures seemed to be planning something, and to add to the situation, it was rather late at night. All six pairs of eyes turned to look at the lonely shape of the house in front of them, and the fact that all the lights had been turned off. There were many things to do, no doubt, but to get the front door open was definitely important. <BR><BR>After a while, one of the shapes peeled off and disappeared down a side lane, which led to the stables. Next, two more shapes detached themselves from the group and headed to the back of the house. Being expert cracksmen, the two were supposed to open a window upstairs. The remaining three figures were supposed to create a diversion of some sort, and under the cover of the din, the two upstairs were supposed to look for the object. The three figures left sighed, but they would cause a good diversion. One of the three figures slipped a piece of metal into the lock, and after a few moments of twitching the metal piece in the lock, the door opened. Fortunately, the door did not squeak, and the three figures crept inside. Thinking about how they would create their diversion, one of the figures picked up a crystal vase and made as if to hurl it to the ground. The other two shrugged, and that figure threw it onto the ground, where it broke with a crash loud enough to wake the dead.<BR><BR>The figures got into their fighting stances and waited for the lights to come on. When they finally did, the appearances of the figures became far clearer. There were two boys and one girl, all in their early teens. The girl was clad in divided skirts and a common blouse, with a pair of gloves on her hands, while the other two were dressed in trousers and shirts. The girl had been the one who hurled the vase down, and at that moment another two men, probably the owners of the house, decided to make their appearance. One of the boys immediately ran towards the man and hit him hard in the stomach. The man keeled over and smashed into a table, and he stayed there, only twitching on and off. The boy kicked him again for good measure, and went off to help his comrades with their problems. <BR><BR>The girl’s name was Alayna, and at that moment, she was facing a man armed with a small crossbow. Small as it may have seemed, it was deadly, and she was treated to a demonstration of its power when one of his shots went wide and got embedded in the wall. She gasped and ducked as the man shot another of the bolts, which hit something metallic with a loud, resonant boom. She came up from underneath him, and kicked him hard in the shins. He doubled over, but soon regained his balance, and came at her with a vengeance. He grabbed her by the neck, and she kept trying to kick him, but he held her far enough, and started to squeeze. Suddenly the pressure around her neck loosened, and she wriggled free. A loud crash of porcelain was heard behind her, and the man collapsed, with about a thousand pieces of shattered porcelain around him. A loud whoop from upstairs followed, and the other two came pelting down, holding a small wooden box between them. The moment she saw that they had arrived, she motioned to the other two and all five of them ran towards the road to wait for the other boy to arrive with his stolen carriage. The moment he arrived, they all flung themselves into the carriage, and began to laugh over the incident, teasing each other.<BR><BR>The two boys, who had opened the upstairs window and done the most dangerous bit of the job, slowly opened the chest to reveal what they had risked everything for. In it laid a ruby, which seemed to capture the light around them and reflect it back, and to add on, it seemed full of abysses and hidden caverns. All the five in the back were transfixed by it, but they quickly shook themselves loose of the ruby’s spell. "Let these rich folks play their deceitful games with each other. We’ve done our job, let’s go get our pay." This proclamation was well met by the others, and they soon went off to pass the ruby to the man who had hired them, and collected their fees. "This gives everyone, let’s see, twenty gold coins." Once Alayna collected her share, she left the group, still unsure of where she was now headed. She had money in her pocket, not much, true, but enough to keep her alive for now. <BR>
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Postby Myrdock » Tue Aug 13, 2002 8:18 pm

The night was dark and the shadows deep, when Myrdock walked the streets again. He was tired, bitterly tired, and his throat hurt, which was most bothersome. His shoulders were hunched a little, his head slightly bowed, but his eyes were still sharp and his ears keen, and his face was grim, and impassive, as was usual.<BR><BR> He had spent the day talking--one of his least favorite things to do in the whole world, or at the least one of the things he was not terribly skilled in. Talking, sending messages, writing letters, meeting people, sometimes openly, sometimes in secret, sometimes in inns, sometimes in homes, walking up and down and across and all over Minas Tirith. The last day had been spent without pause, without sleep, without food, and more often than not without drink. He supposed he had accomplished much, yet somehow he felt dissatisfied. Troubled. Even a little angry. He rubbed his throat again.<BR><BR> It had all of it been just that--talk. Whispers, veiled councils--words of caution and wisdom, and encouragement--but all of it still cheap talk. <i>The pen is mightier than the sword</i>, they said; he lightly touched the sword at his side, concealed beneath a heavy cloak, and somehow doubted it.<BR><BR> But it was the beginning, at least. The fruit of his labors--of <i>their</i> labors, all of them--were ripening. It had not been in vain. He had known, He had guessed it, those years ago, ever since that witch the Queen began to hold sway over the royal court, and especially over the King's son. It had begun stealthily, of course, almost like the echo of a whisper at first, one barely perceptible, growing louder and louder, reverberating in a great cavern from wall to wall until finally, at the end, it had been transformed into a <i>shout</i> and then a <b>roar</b>! The King had been a ray of light, a firm rock, and she could do nothing to affect him. When he was near, she had seemed to diminish, and his laughter, and good humor banished her sway on those around him, if even for a brief moment. She had always been terribly afraid of him.<BR><BR> But He had seen it coming. Myrdock remembered Him. He had picked him up off his feet; given him a second chance, saved him from a fate he knew would have ended in pain, or in death, and for that Myrdock was forever grateful. It had not been long ago. <BR><BR> The streets were empty, though it was still early. Many of the inns were full, full of loud men and raucous laughter; a few women, though more often than not they carried blades beneath their clothes, and knew how to use them right quick. Or else they were out to make some money. There were exceptions, of course, as in everything, but he knew these streets too well; his blood had run in these same gutters, his tears in these same alleys.<BR><BR> But these inns were not the ones he was looking for--or more correctly, the One he was looking for. He walked dark street after dark street, past house after house and inn after inn. The way was mottled with light and shadows. Firelight flickered from windows and doors, sometimes-merry glows from cheery dwellings, sometimes-ominous flashes in deep alleyways. He paid both no mind. <BR><BR> Finally, he arrived. It was a fine looking place, two storied, bright, neatly painted and well-kept. There was quiet talk coming from it, a few laughs. He stepped in.<BR><BR> The light revealed his features. He had a shock of shaggy black hair, unruly, but it suited his face well. It was a stern face, grim, rough and weather-beaten, not unused to sorrows. But there was light in it, and a wisp of a smile at the corners of his mouth, no matter how faint. His eyes were dark brown, deep, and keen.<BR><BR> As soon as he entered, several eyes swept past him, lingered, just for a moment, then returned to conversation. Nonchalantly, he took a little something from his pocket, looked at it for a moment in the firelight, and then fastened it to the front of his cloak, quite openly. It glinted faintly silver--an eagle, perched upon a first, its wings spread.<BR><BR> A women in the corner sat facing the doorway, knitting constantly, not looking at her hands. He nodded to her. She nodded in return, but said nothing. The others in the inn paid him no mind, but he knew it was because of what he wore. No one else was wearing the insignia, though, not even the innkeeper, who he approached and spoke to, in a normal tone.<BR><BR> <i>"You wouldn't happen to have got any of that proper fourteen-twenty left now would you, <b>Baran</b>?"</i> he asked as he sat at the counter.<BR><BR> The man behind the counter was good-looking and obviously a merry fellow, if a little plump. He had a cloth in one hand and a glass in the other, and was using the one to clean the other. He answered slowly, as though racking his brain, <i>"Now, now, I was just thinking to myself, I wonder if I got any of the old stuff left, I was, just the other day. I said so, didn't I? Eh, Mary?"</i> The woman knitting, whom he had spoken to, said nothing, but nodded. The innkeeper continued. <i>"And wouldn't you know it! I plum forgot about it! Why, I'll go have a look now, if you don't mind, young master!"</i> He set the glass and cloth down, and looked about to bustle out from behind his counter and down to his cellar, come hell or high water. <BR><BR> Myrdock laughed, and waved him away with a hand. <i>"No, no, you stay, sir! I'll have a look for you, if you don't mind. There's customers here to look after, and I certainly don't want to trouble you."</i><BR><BR> The innkeeper seemed to think about it for a moment. <i>"Oh alright, I suppose it can't hurt. The cellar is just out the door and down the hall on the left, third door down. But I better not find anything missing, or there'll be a price to pay, let me tell you!"</i> And he shook his fist good-naturedly as Myrdock laughed and slid from his seat. <BR><BR> Behind him, as he exited, he caught the last snatches of a woman's voice, clear and beautiful, engaging the innkeeper.<BR><BR> <i>"What'll it be for you, Miss?"</i><BR><BR> The voice sounded very happy, enthusiastic almost. <i>"Oh, I was just thinking some Old Winyard would suite me well tonight. Maybe a plate of roast chicken also, I don't know..."</i><BR><BR> <i>"Hm, well, there ain't no Winyard up here, of any type. But I might have a look down in the cellar and see if I can't scrounge some up for you. You know, I was just saying--"</i><BR><BR> <i>"You know what? Don't bother yourself. I'd be happy to fetch if myself, if that's all right with you, of course."</i><BR><BR> <i>"Ah! We have a gentlewoman here, Mary, don't make no mistake! 'Course, young Miss, it's just down the hall, three doors on the left. Can't miss it--!"</i><BR><BR> Myrdock smiled as he slid into the hallway. Baran was good, there was no mistake; fortunate to have one of the most successful inns in Minas Tirith, very clean, the food was excellent, the service likewise, the wine always delicious. It was said the royalty frequented there sometimes, and merchants, too, of the highest class...<BR><BR> He slipped into the third door on the left, ordinary from the rest, nothing unusual about it. He heard a door open behind him, and soft footsteps on the carpet following his lead. <BR><BR> It was no cellar on the other side of the door, that was obvious. The room was spacious, lit by two fireplaces, each roaring. There were no windows, so the air was a bit stuffy, but the large table in the middle was laden with chill wine and other drinks. <BR><BR> There were about a dozen others in the room, both men and women, of a mixed variety. Some were dressed in rich gowns and elegant silks, pale, very fair; obviously they had never worked a day's honest work in their lives, though perhaps that wasn't their fault. Others wore plain trousers and skirts, loose shirts, none too fancy, but none too shabby, either. Still others were dressed in little more than rags, covered with calluses, scrapes, burns. And still others defied any generalizations.<BR><BR> As Myrdock stood there, looking at them, he smiled inwardly, something which did not show on his stony face. There was a cross-section of society, there, in that room, people from all occupations and walks of life, wealth, and status, and standing. Some could not be more similar to some others; some could not be more different. But three things, at least, they all shared in common, Myrdock knew.<BR><BR> One, there was more than meets the eye to all of them, great or small. Some that wore rags dined in the royal court. Each had secrets, and each had their own motivations. All were dangerous, in their turn. <BR><BR> Two, they were all here, in this room, joined in a single cause.<BR><BR> And finally three: all wore the eagle and fist in plain sight on the breast of their clothes.<BR><BR> Myrdock smiled again, and this time, there was no mistaking it touched his lips. There was some talk in the room, but more quiet. An air of waiting.<BR><BR> He leaned against the wall beside the door, sharp eyes playing over everyone there, and waited with the rest of them.
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Postby Ráca » Wed Aug 14, 2002 4:23 am

<i>Now it was Ráca's turn to spit fury. This woman had no right to lord it over her! She continued sitting in the chair, the mere look on her face enough to put off anyone talking to her. Though quiet, her mind was buzzing, and almost unconsciously she felt hurt - this woman that she didn't even know had hurt her feelings! She shouldn't let ignorant words get to her, Ráca knew... but what was happening was just another version of a long-repeated pattern...<BR><BR>This woman knew little of what she professed - for if she did, and she was as wise as she considered herself, she would have learnt by now not to assume <b>anything</b>!<BR><BR>Pyratrien was most certainly not Ráca's 'pet' - the word made her finger a dagger hilt and glare at the offending speaker - in fact, if anything, the case was the opposite. Pyratrien had decided that as a baby Ráca was perfect for her cause.... what cause, Ráca wasn't sure - and never had been. It had taken years for Ráca to come to terms with the 'visits', and in the back of her mind she considered the Goddess as a sort of curse.<BR><BR>She had lived on the streets ever since she could remember, until she was taken in by a group of Mercenaries who recognised the skills she possessed, and they trained her to be what she was - a ruthless contract killer and thief. What was more, whenever she experienced strong emotions, the irises of her eyes became silver - which meant she was shunned by all that saw her. <BR><BR>Indeed, the touch of Pyratrien had been a curse. And if it hadn't, the Goddess had a very strange way of showing her affection.<BR><BR>Which in some cases was by no means a bad thing, but everyone gets lonely sometimes - and Ráca had been lonely for several long, depressing years. She had continued her job as she always had done, but they lacked the zeal she had felt for it before, often preferring to remain a recluse. Eventually, hunger made her continue work - she had vowed when she became a Mercenary that she would no longer experience starvation, the way she had as a child.<BR><BR>Thinking again about the woman's words, the Elfess clenched each of her hands over a pair of Dagger hilts, feeling with comfort the soft leasther bindings in the palm of her hand.<BR><BR>'Risks', she had said - 'risks had to be taken'. That wasn't a risk, what she did back there - it was just plain foolish. She had no way of knowing that Ráca was in the Inn, and if she hadn't... Well, Ráca could do without coming across their mutilated bodies in a river or back alley in the early hours of the morning. Evidently, she wasn't that sure of the people - since the Inn that she had entered was mainly full of patrons of the devout royalist variety!<BR><BR>A soft creak caught Ráca's attention, and she sat up in the chair, listening hard. With a finger, she silenced the women, not bothering to look at them - they would see her eyes, then they would think her a devil or something... it always happened.<BR><BR>There it was again - a soft creak. Then there was a short, muffled thud, and what sounded like a smothered curse. Another voice answered, muttering something Ráca couldn't detect, even with her keen elven hearing. Then, she caught on a draught from underneath the door an ominous sound indeed... the grating sound of a blade being drawn.<BR><BR>Ráca stood, and motioned to the two women to move to the back of the room. Before she turned to face whatever would soon be entering through the door, she muttered to Alfirin:</i><BR><BR>"You're feisty, I'll give you that - but a quick mouth and slower brain will <b>not</b> save you now. Place your trust in the Elfess and her 'pet', eh? And believe me, I'm not callous enough to ask to be paid for doing something I believe in - but enough food to eat properly would be nice."<BR><BR><i>She didn't give Alfirin time to answer, becauseat that moment, the door opened - and twelve heavily armed men entered. Ráca didn't bother to keep quiet now, and came out with several incredibly rude words that would make the hardiest dwarf blush. <BR><BR>She pulled her hands up, showing off the fact that as if from nowhere her hands were equipped with blades - then the men attacked, silently.<BR><BR>They didn't know what they were in for.<BR><BR>In a flash Ráca moved, dodging the first blade, the knocked the next aside, and dealt a stinging kick to the chest of one man - he knelt, winded, and Ráca took the opportunity to prevent him from taking another breath ever again. <BR><BR>Leaving the first corpse, she turned to the next, all the time didging and striking - but she was always luring them away from the women in the corner, and further towards the door.<BR><BR>Like she said, she was going to protect them - or die trying. A stray blade caught her, raking down her left shoulder. Ráca swore as the blood began to flow into the wound, but continued fightint - to pause would mean death for all of them.</i>
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Postby Nessamelda » Wed Aug 14, 2002 5:09 am

At the sight of the body on the floor, Alfirin turned more than a little green. Death disturbed her. She would have happily, with not a spark of conscience, arranged for the death of any of these intruders. But not in her presence. <BR><BR>She was unarmed, and even had she had a weapon it would have been of little use - she was a scholar and scribe, not a fighter, and her reflexes had slowed with age. And by the look on her face the young girl wasn't anymore use than Alfirin. If that powder keg of an elf had not jumped straight in with those knives, there might have been a chance of talking their way out of it. Men usually didn't kill instantly, at least with women. They tended to want to have their fun first, and the younger woman was appealing to such as these; it would have given her a little more time to come up with something.<BR><BR>Raca was very good at this, Alfirin decided. There were now only ten assailants; but she still didn't favour the odds against the elf, particularly with that injury. And she didn't approve of her choice of rooms - the second floor was rather a long way to jump. She would always, as a matter of principal, have preferred rooms on the ground floor. As the elf lead the assailants towards the door, Alfirin looked around. There were just two candle lamps lighting the room. The intruders had brought no lights of their own to aid their secrecy. While they were rather a long way up from the ground, she decided, peering over the window sill, the stable roof was just below them. It ws probably OK, if she could put both lamps out together. <BR><BR>She looked at Seanera, and motioned to the lamps on the mantleshelf. Seanera's eyes widened and she nodded. The two women moved together, while the men were focussed on not having their more precious organs removed by Raca's flashing knives. The two lamps crashed to the floor in unison and darkness cloaked the room. <BR><BR>Without bothering to see if anyone else had followed her, Alfirin rolled out of the open window, hoping that there would be straw below, and no guards.<BR><BR>Well, she was lucky on one count. They had not thought to guard the rear entrance of the hotel. Not waiting to see if the others would, or could follow, she limped off into the night. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last. But she would be sore in the morning, after the fall from the stable roof. <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Ráca » Wed Aug 14, 2002 11:03 am

<b>Well, </b> Ráca thought, <b>The Woman has her wits about her, if nothing else.</b> The idea of putting the lamps out was a good one, but with every good idea there are pitfalls - the men, blinded and confused, were lashing out feverishly, and not bothering to check if there was Man, Elf, Woman or just plain nothing in front of them before they struck. She heard from behind her the 'thud' as Alfirin landed after leaping from the window, and Ráca resisited the urge to look - she couldn't take her mind of those lunging blades - not once.<BR><BR>Now, only one woman remained - the younger one. Ráca continued with her assault (which was becoming more and more on the defensive), but spoke in Quenyan to the young woman, hoping against hope that this one could also speak a little Elvish.<BR><BR>Her voice contained more than just a tinge of urgency, and her shoulder was becoming stiff - which sorely handicapped her. If she got the chance, she would attempt to explain her actions later - but there were far more pressing matters to attend to. It was only her Elven heritage that saved her that night - her naturally sharp eyesight applied to darkness also, as for the earlier part of her life night had been when she applied her thieving skills.</i><BR><BR>"<b>Nís - lelya si. Usin i tië i enwina nís carna usinrya - khilarya, ar nurta. LELYA!</b>" <i>she yelled the last word, while at the same time disarming a man in front of her, and kicking him down.</i> <BR><BR>(Translates as "Woman - go now. Escape the way the older woman made her escape - follow her, and hide. GO!" )<BR><BR><i>She heard the other woman go, and slowly put down her blades, re-sheathing them. The man stopped, wondering why all was so silent. Suddenly, they heard a smooth voice speaking to them in Elvish:</i><BR><BR>"<b>Tenna' ento lye omenta...</b>" <i>Then Ráca stepped backwards, ducking out of the window and going into a crouch to land all in one fluid movement.</i><BR><BR>(Translates as "Until next we meet..." )<BR><BR><i>Landing carefully in a crouch, she stood and looked around her - the women were nowhere to be seen. Sighing, she placed her hands on her hips, and began to track them.<BR><BR>She had privately known that they would run - it was to be expected, really. They didn't know anything about her other than her name, and Ráca knew less than that about them. She hoped that the men who had attacked in the Inn, in order to quieten the rumours that Alfirin had successfully provided more kindling for, had learnt from their battle - at least half of them were dead, and perhaps they would realise now that there was someone there to guard these two women from harm. Once found, Ráca needed to escort them to an Inn - one that provided a refuge for the 'resistance' against the new Monarchy of Minas Tirith while they massed.<BR><BR>Understanding that they needed to be found fast, Ráca set off on the trail that they had left behind, fingering something in her trouser pocket:<BR><BR>A brooch, in the shape of an Eagle perched upon a fist.</i><BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Wed Aug 14, 2002 6:37 pm

The night air was cold, colder then Seanera had expected. She had hit the ground harder then she had meant to and the wind had been knocked out of her. Her head and ached where they had hit the ground and tears sprang to her eyes before she could stop them. Looking up at the window she had jumped from she shook her head in amazement, she didn't know what she had been thinking. All she rememebered in that frenzied last few minutes was the elfess yelling in her elvish tongue and her getting the impression that it had been time for her to make her exit. <BR><BR>As she carefully pulled herself to her feet she winced with the slight pain then she limped as quickly as she could off into the darkness. She turned many sharp corners and ducked behind vendor carts before seatling herself behind a dark building. She sat down on the hard ground and pulled her knees up to her chest, she felt lost and alone. She didn't know why Alfirin had left her there, <BR><i>Probably because I'm too much trouble, just a tiresome child in her eyes."</i> she thought sadly to herself. And now Seanera had no idea what to do, she knew she could not return to the palace, the King would msot likely have her thrown into a cell for treason or something along those lines. Undoubtedly the news would get back to the royal family soon, if it wasn't already being retold as she sat there. And she had thought that a few eyes had widdened at the sight of her at the inn, she was known to many who visited the palace or had ties to it. And what about the Elfess, was she still alive, she had risked her life for the two of them. She owed her a great debt, if she would ever be able to repay it.<BR><BR>Just then a hand came down on her shoulder causing Seanera to jump and let out a cry of surprise,<i>"Don't hurt me, please release me!"</i> <BR><i> "Relax silly girl I'm not going to hurt you."</i> The familure voice of Alfirin came to her and she regained her composure. Alfirin smiled slightly and sat down beside Seanera, the two sat there for a few silent minutes until.<BR><i>"Alfirin, a question has been burning in my mind since we met. What exactly were you doing in that old house?"</i> Alfirin stared straight ahead her eyes becoming hard for a moment as she turned to look at Seanera, but Seanera was used to getting yelled at and having glares exchanged in her presence, it did not faze her. So Alfirin told her.<BR><i>"I used to live in that house, back when I was married to a Duke. We were very much in love, and then the unspeakable happened."</i> She broke off and placed her face in her hands. <BR><i> What?"</i> asked Seanera staring at her.<BR>Alfirin looked up at her in surprise,<i>"You cannot guess, are you really that naive? He died, died and left me alone. Two children died <BR>so young, the other was taken from me, I never got to see her grow."</i><BR><BR>Seanera felt a few tears for the woman begin to fall and she whispered her appologies. It always grieved her heart to hear tales like these.<BR><BR><i>"I'm not as naive as you think Alfirin. I know loss just like any man does. Just recently I received a letter from one of the Captins of Rohan informing me that my dearest, and only relation left to my knowledge had passed away. I..I hadn't seen him in over ten years, and the letters we sent to each other were few and far between. Still I loved him as a brother. I know my grief cannot hold a candle to yours, but I just wanted you to know your not the only person who ever lost someone. Someone who was dear."</i>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Wed Aug 14, 2002 10:14 pm

Alayna grinned as she made her way down the street. She now had money in her pocket, and another possible job waiting for her. Maybe she should head to an inn now, and drink the night away with the rest of the runners. Carefully, she started whistling. It sounded like a whistle anyone would have done, except that it was a way of communication for her. She knew that they would meet her soon, and headed to a dark alley to wait for them, like she usually would. This time, however, something would be different.<BR><BR>Suddenly she heard a noise behind her, and through experience, she knew that it meant that she would be attacked soon. She whirled around, and caught the descending truncheon on her left hand. A jolt of pain shot up her arm, causing her to wince. She immediately began fumbling for her knives, trying to jerk them out of their sheaths. The hand of the man had slithered its way around her neck, and his grip was slowly tightening. She kept trying to yank her knives out of her boot, but it seemed to be stuck. After what seemed like forever, the knife yielded and slid out of its sheath. Without waiting a moment, she grabbed her knife and violently kept shoving it into his hand. She was starting to feel light-headed from the lack of air, and she began to loosen her grip on the knife. She shook her head once, and tried to plunge the knife into his body. <BR><BR>The only problem was this. Due to the lack of air, her body had weakened, and her blows now were too weak to hurt even a kitten. Seeing a slight shape in front of her, she told him "It’s been fun, but now I have to go home." He had approximately one second to think she was mad, before a knife found its way into his body. He twitched a few times, and then lay still, staring up at her with eyes that would never see anything again. Gulping breaths of sweet, fresh air, she asked her rescuer “What took you so long?” He smiled and the two headed towards the nearest inn, where the food was said to be edible, and the wine good. The pair found an empty table near the door, and ordered a glass of wine each. Here the pair discussed their next run. <BR>"Are you sure that we should take this job? It seems wrong, somehow." She asked him<BR>"I know what I am doing, leave the planning to me."<BR>"The last time I did, we ended up starring in a program in a court featuring a broken window, missing silver, and a brick." The two of them were old friends, and this happened long before the gang was formed. He laughed for a moment, then replied,<BR>"It seems so long ago, you know, the time when we would live day to day, without having to worry about how to plan runs."<BR>"It seems, yes, it seems, but then, we never had half the pay we have now."<BR>"Yes, even though, but still…" He straightened up, and then asked her "Will you be leaving soon?"<BR>"Not yet. If you wish to leave, leave away."<BR>"Farewell then." He nodded at her and left.<BR><BR>She relaxed in her seat and began to observe her surroundings. Many a man and woman seemed to go upstairs, for what reason, she did not know. But it caught her attention, however, and she was curious. The thought of an inn like this having that many rooms for this many people seemed wrong, somehow, but she had no idea on how to get to the place where they gathered. Her staff was not with her at the moment, and she regretted it, for being without her staff felt wrong, especially after the incident earlier. Whatever it was, she would ask for a room here to spend the night, for that would be the only excuse to give her the chance to spend the entire night here. Moreover, there was a dice game going on quite near her table. She moved there, and asked to join. Doing that would give her an excuse to stay in the inn until she could successfully find out what they were doing in secret. There seemed to be something wrong, somehow, for all of them wore the emblem of the eagle and fist in plain sight on the breast of their clothes. With a sigh, she sat down and begun the game.<BR><BR>((Mrydock, that's my cue to enter your life. That is, if you don't mind...))<BR>
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Postby Nessamelda » Thu Aug 15, 2002 2:04 am

Alfirin smiled again. <BR>" This ground is cold and hard. I hope the elf does not take too long"<BR><BR>"Will she find us do you think? Will she have even survived? There were so many"<BR><BR>"Seanera, that Elf would survive anything ! And I do not think that she will let us go too easily. She will think that we owe her a debt, although I am not so sure of that. At the very least if she was listening to my words she will think us of some use."<BR><BR>Alfirin stood up and stretched. At least it was late enough now that they were unlikely to be bothered. Most of the drunks had already staggered to their beds. She had made mistakes tonight. The city had changed since she was last here, and, for all its familiarity it seemed a foreign country. Usually she preferred to control her own destiny, but for now at least, she felt badly out of her depth. And Seanera was even worse off Except of course for what seemed to be a reasonably full purse.<BR><BR>She would not tell the younger woman any more of her past just now. It would not do to let her know just who it was that took away her child, and sent her into the cold world, still grieving for her still-born sons. Most of the court had idolised the old King. To Alfirin he was her undoing and she hoped he'd burn forever in whatever dark place Mandos had prepared for him. <BR>But that was not the popular opinion, and if she was to bring down all his hated family, she must remain silent, and hide that secret.<BR>
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Postby Nessamelda » Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:42 am

He was a handsome man, the young King Enerdhil. Actually more than handsome; he bore an elvish name and his features bore the hint of elvish ancestry. A man of taste and culture, his study perfectly furnished, his manners polished, his clothes immaculate, yet there was something slightly unsettling about him. A slight petulant turn of the lip, a touch of a sneer, a look of disdain that passed across his eyes. The young page in front of him shuffled uncomfortably, while waiting for his command.<BR><BR>The young man settled back in his chair, his feet on the desk, and frowned. He had specifically ordered that no direct harm was to come to Lady Seanera. He wanted her followed – he would like to know just how low she could fall, but did not want her killed. Yet, anyway. And now, with their clumsiness, his incompetent guards had had lost track of her – well they would pay for this in the morning..<BR><BR>“Thank you for the report. Wait outside, and stay awake. I may have further use of you” The page bowed and left.<BR><BR>And what of the other woman, Alfirin. Now that name sounded a chord from somewhere in his father’s ever-so careful notes and journals. Turning to a stack of leather bound books, he pulled out the very first in the series. There it was. Eru preserve us, his father had been a sentimental fool. <BR><BR> It was indeed a strange story, written in the old King’s careful, crabbed script. He was a young King then, new to power and was the guardian of his young cousin, Arren, Duke of Alterion. Arren had angered him mightily, by refusing a politically advantageous match with a Princess of the Haradrim. They had parted in anger, and by the evening of that day Arren was dead, thrown by his horse. It had not taken the King long to discover the reason for the refusal of the marriage - Arren had set up a woman in a house in the lower circles, and fathered a child. In anger, and pride and grief at the loss of his ward, the King had found the woman. He had cursed her as a harlot and a corrupter of his much loved cousin, and exiled her. The child he had sent away, fearing that an illegitimate child of the Royal blood could be a threat to him or his children.<BR><BR>Then later, much later, to his horror, he found that he had been wrong. Alfirin and Arren were legally wed. The child was legitamate, the woman the legal Duchess. It was Arren, though not yet of age, that had pushed the young girl into marriage. <BR><BR>By then, all trace of both the woman and the child were lost, and the wrong he had done could not be corrected. Everafter, when the King felt tempted into a hasty or an unfair act, he would write in his journal, underlined in bold, Remember Alterion. And for the rest of his reign he was known as a wise King and one who never acted rashly, without due thought. Yet in his heart, and in his journals, he still felt the guilt of that misjudgement.<BR><BR>Enerdhil laughed out loud. He found it most diverting that this woman had been wandering around his land, festering in bitterness for all these years quite needlessly<BR><BR>Then another thought crossed his mind. The Elfstone. Around that time it had disappeared. Nothing was ever mentioned in the journals. Was it possible that this Duchess had taken the stone? It would be just like his idiot father not to pursue the stone because he felt guilty at his treatment of the thief.<BR><BR>He would dearly like to recover the stone. For he was named for its maker in distant Gondolin. – Enerdhil, who had caught the sunlight through the leaves in the morning of the world and preserved those rays in that great green stone. And the stone had its own power too – had not the witch of the golden wood used it before Cirdan had granted her one of the three elven rings?. King Enerdhil smiled. His own beautiful witch-woman surely could make good use of the power that lay secret in the stone. Surely with that in hand, they could do….well almost anything.<BR><BR>He called the page back in. <BR><BR>“Tell my lady, that I would appreciate it if she could spare me some time. I have found something that I think will interest her”<BR><BR>
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Postby Myrdock » Sat Aug 17, 2002 12:11 pm

The minutes ticked by, and still they waited. The room was filling slowly but surely as "patrons" slipped into the room quietly, though none appeared to be surprised in the least that instead of a wine-cellar, they had found a stuffy room half-filled and smelling strongly of burning cedar and cool spiced wines. No one spoke, or even made eye contact with one another. They were arranged about the room in a haphazard fashion, some sitting in chairs, some on the floor, others standing, others leaning against walls. The air was heavy with expectancy and waiting.<BR><BR> Myrdock maintained his position beside the door, eyes apparently closed, as if sleeping. He knew there were those who could not come, or would not come this time, but the deadline had not yet come and gone, though it was fast approaching. A simple clock on the mantle of one of the fireplaces ticked out the time. Another quarter of an hour more, he thought, and then he would speak.<BR><BR> His thoughts drifted. He looked forward to having a few hours good sleep afterward, maybe an hour or two just to relax, perhaps shoot the breeze with someone in the common-room, maybe have a drink. It wasn't likely. Not yet, at least. Events would be coming fast and furiously, he knew, and those who rested would be left behind. Vigilance; vigilance and determination, they were the key. There would be no time for relaxing, not for a long while. Not for him. <i>Not for most of those in this room,</i> he thought. Fear and danger hung over all of them like a shadow, as vast and inevitable as the sky is above the ground. For all their wisdom, for all their planning, now that the moment had arrived, their lives hung on a knife's edge. <i>So be it,</i> he thought, and his face hardened.<BR><BR> The footsteps outside the door continued in waves as more arrived to join their comrades. It was nearly time. Myrdock stirred, and straightened, preparing to speak. He ran the words over in his head; everything he knew, everything he had heard and done since the previous night, everything these good people would need to know and do. He glanced at the clock. A minute more.<BR><BR> At that moment, fresh footsteps were heard outside in the hall, but louder and harsher than any of the others before; the floorboards groaned beneath heavy foot-falls. It was as though someone were running towards their little room. Every eye turned to the door. Some had a horrified light in them, others a shocked, yet others an eager look, as though ready for a fight, still others appeared indifferent. Myrdock waited beside the door, hand at his sword-hilt, just in case.<BR><BR> A man burst into the room, a young man, very muscular. Fortunately for him, Myrdock recognized him, and he took his hand away from his weapon. The man looked around the room quickly, spotted Myrdock beside him, nodded, and spoke.<BR><BR> <i>"I-I think you should see this. Outside, something..."</i><BR><BR> Myrdock hissed at him, <i>"Fool. You nearly got yourself killed just now."</i><BR><BR> The man continued as if he hadn't heard. <i>"Outside...I think you should see for yourself."</i><BR><BR> Every eye in the room was on him. He looked at the messenger one last time, nodded, and made his decision. He turned to those in the room. <i>"Stay here, for just a moment. I will return shortly."</i><BR><BR> And with that he slipped out of the room, followed the young man back into the common-room, and towards the door. He noticed a face he didn't recognize in one corner, a girl, playing dice. Unbeknownst to her, several pairs of eyes followed her every movement. The innkeeper, Baran, was no where to be seen. Mary, his wife, had dissappeared also. Many of the "patrons" also seemed to have gone.<BR><BR> The reason for this soon became apparent. Outside, the streets were almost crowded, and filling with yet more people, undoubtedly just as curious, disturbed, and un-informed as he was. In the <b>distance</b> could be heard shouts, from a hundred throats, and a steady buzzing of a great many people talking.<BR><BR> He saw Baran, beside his wife Mary, who, for once, was not knitting. Myrdock made his way to them.<BR><BR> <i>"What is happening, my friend?"</i> he asked.<BR><BR> <i>"Merchants--news--it is all very confusing. A thousand rumors are flying already, and there shall be a million more by morning. Apparently, something has happened in Rohan."</i><BR><BR> Myrdock's face fell. <i>"So it has begun, so soon? He has made the first--or rather, the second--move already?"</i><BR><BR> <i>"I do not know,"</i> Baran answered, <i>"But there is something going on. Listen to the crowd! It is growing! There will be riots, tonight, I'll wager!"</i><BR><BR> <i>"We must find out for sure. I will be back in a moment."</i> He turned back to the inn.<BR><BR> Suddenly, the crowds before the inn parted, and a horseman carrying a torch stormed out of the night. The glow illuminated little but his face, and he appeared little more than a glowing head bobbing in the night, moving swiftly, nearly running down bystanders. From his lips, a voice boomed.<BR><BR> <i>"Rohan! Rohan! Our sister has attacked us, and our brother has plunged a knife into our backs! Weep for us, people of Gondor! Weep that we have seen such times! O! what sorrow! Weep, weep..."</i> And his face swept out of sight, voice echoing mournfully long after he had gone.<BR><BR> Myrdock spoke to the young man beside him, the one who had hastened to retrieve him from his meeting. <i>"Go back to the others, friend. Tell them what you have heard. If they wish it, they may stay at Baran's for the night, or they may go. No more than two at a time out the back way every five minutes, you hear? Tell them that. We will meet another time, they will get messages. Now! Hurry!"</i> The man nodded and hurried back inside. Myrdock noticed idly that he had to push by the strange girl he had seen playing dice.<BR><BR> The noise was swelling by now, so loud one almost had to shout to be heard. The streets were crammed to bursting, and a thousand voices were whispering, wondering, hatching a thousand different rumors, just as Baran had said. In the distance, the Great Noise, from where it had all began, grew in power.<BR><BR> Myrdock turned back to Baran. <i>"Stay indoors. Keep your entrances guarded. There will be trouble tonight."</i><BR><BR> And with that, he walked into darkness, melting into the crowd, his path leading to the very heart of the terrible noise.
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Sat Aug 17, 2002 7:40 pm

Seanera decided that she and Alfirin had spent more then enough time in the dark corners of the city. Even though noone was to be seen she had the distinct feeling that if they lingered there they may yet find thier futures looking grim. She still had a slight limp to her walk and the older woman glanced over at her when she tripped suddenly. But Seanera kept walking knowing that they had to get to a more populated circle; although, she thought, that may lead to someone of nobilty finding out where we are headed. And with only the limited training of combat(taught to her by her cousin in the land of Rohan) she was unsure whether or not she could take on a man of greater skill.<BR><BR>They stopped and sat themselves down on an old bench that sat in the deserted walkways of the city, the older woman was getting weary in such conditions and Seanera used this time to collect her scattered thoughts. She was confused now, for the first time in a long time her thoughts kept drifting back to her very early childhood, perhaps the letter informing Seanera that Ealrend had died had something to do with that.<BR><BR>----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR>"Seanera, you silly little girl, your not supposed to run. You said you want to be like the warriors? I'll teach you.....if you behave."<i> They had been running through the bare land of Rohan, away from the city and the walls that held the grand palace and its occupants from danger. Ealrend had promised to teach her sword skills, much to the displeasure of her maidens. With the sun shinning down upon them there was nothing that kept these two from spending the rest of their days there, except for the one fact that Ealrend knew only too well, this would be the last visit that Seanera would pay to his land. She did not know it, she was far to young to understand such things. But her cousin, being fifteen years older then she knew very well what fate was waiting for the ten year old. A life held in a stone city, in a stone palace with only stiff noble figures to keep her company. </i><BR>"Ealrend , stop daydreaming, I heard Mauirse call for us, we must go back in."<i> She ran to him and he bent to lift her up an involuntary grunt escaping his lips.</i><BR>"Your getting far to big to be carried Seanera, why do I spoil you so?"<BR>"Because you <i>love</i> me so!"<i> she answered without missing a beat; leaning her head on his shoulder as he carried her back to the gates. As he grew closer Ealrend studied her and thought to himself...'my only hope for this small child is that she is as happy when she is grown as she is now, that she has peace in her life.' Somehow though he didn't believe his wish would come true.<BR><BR>Their parting was bitter indeed for Seanera knew something troubled her kinsman though she knew not what it was. Instead of giving her an answer to his grief he took out a necklace with a beautiful blue gem and placed it around her neck.</i><BR>"This gem shows your alligence to our land, <i>your</i> land. Keep it close, you will never be denied our help if you ask for it."<BR><i> she had only looked at him with big gray eyes and then as Seanera's escort had left she turned slightly in her saddle to wave her goodbye's to her people in Rohan.</i><BR><BR>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR><BR>A loud commotion drew Seanera from her thoughts and glancing over at Alfirin who confirmed that she had heard the same noise by giving Seanera a meaningful nod toward the noise. She nodded and they rose from the bench and started making thier way to the inn where most of the noise could be heard. <BR><BR>They were shouting the word that attracted her attention the most, <b>Rohan.</b> And more voices shouting words that didn't make sense to her..... <i>"Rohan! Rohan! Our sister has attacked us, and our brother has plunged a knife into our backs! Weep for us, people of Gondor! Weep that we have seen such times! O! what sorrow! Weep, weep..." </i><BR><BR>Seanera stood in stunned disbelief, I could not possibly be true. The land that had stood in friendship and always offered its alligence could not have betrayed Gondor so easily, it had to be a mistake. Alfirin watched on but her face was a mask to those who saw them, looking up at the rider and then around at the people gathered at the rider went off on his way. Seanera's hand went to the chain around her neck without her knowing it, pulling out the small gem and fingering it lost in thought.<BR><BR>Suddenly she pushed her way forward, past big burly men and guards alike, she cried out at the rider as he rode past,<i> "You lie, Who is paying you to spread the lies about our sister city? Rohan would never betray us in such a way."</i> The rider turned for a moment a look that could not be read said <i>"Go home lady, the reality is we no longer have peace with Rohan, cut the ties that lie there now, before they turn you astray."</i> he then continued on his way unknowing of whom he had just addressed.
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Postby Nessamelda » Sun Aug 18, 2002 4:44 am

Alfirin turned to Seanera, and laughed. "Well my lady, it seems we have both put our banners up tonight clear enough for those that would read them.'' <BR><BR>Then she added more soberly: "I do not like the mood of this crowd; such mobs will turn to lynching and doing things that in their right minds they would not ever contemplate. We must both be careful; the city will tolerate no hint of treason on such a night."<BR><BR>Seanera replied, from between clenched teeth, with tears of anger burning her eyes: "If there was treason afoot, do not look to Rohan for it - but look to the top of the tower above us, where lights still burn. Who knows what illusions and deceptions King Enerdhil and that evil woman they call the Queen will practice."<BR><BR>Alfirin nodded. With that she did not disagree. But they were still in an awkward position. Both of them were tired, bruised and the heart of the crowd was getting closer to them. Turning round she saw that the path to the inn was blocked, and they were likely to get swept away. Then she noticed. Here and there were men, and some women too, who were trying also to avoid the grand sweep of the mob, trying to resist that monstrous tide of people that was building in the street. In pairs or alone they were coming from the rear of the inn and ducking down the alleys. All bore a badge, all wore the sign of an eagle and a fist.<BR><BR>Her instinct told her here was something she could use. A man stepped back into her, and turning, apologised. He had a shock of shaggy black hair; a stern face, grim, rough and weather-beaten. His eyes were dark brown, deep, and keen, and in the dancing light of the torches she could see the look of worry in them. She caught him by the arm, pointing to the badge he wore and said, on a wild chance. "How many will dare wear that sign openly after the events of tonight? Who will dare oppose a King who has been dealt such a treacherous blow in the first months of his reign. Are you such a man?"<BR><BR>She held her breath as she waited for his reply. Yet again she risked her life and that of her companion on a very slim chance. If she had gambled wrongly, the chances were the crowd would <BR>tear them apart.<BR>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Sun Aug 18, 2002 6:32 am

Alayna noticed something strange when the clicking sound of needles had stopped, and a crowd had begun to gather, and the sounds they made sounded like the sound of a gaggle of geese at a farm. The game carried on, the players unaware of their surroundings. Alayna casually noticed, out of the corner of her eyes, that a man with the insignia on him was speaking urgently to the innkeeper. In no time at all, he walked out into the darkness, quickly vanishing into the mess outside. This seemed to be a leader among them, and it was bound to be useful for her to follow him. There was no doubt that he would definitely be able to tell her more about what it was about, that is, if she could catch him. She swept up her winnings, and then quickly left, ignoring complains from the table. There was no doubt these men would be heading home to their families soon, in a desperate bid to protect them from all harm, and probably not succeeding.<BR><BR>She quickly shadowed him, careful to keep near to him, not going too near, but keeping him within her view, all the while playing the part of a curious onlooker. Snatches of conversation drifted past her ears. ‘Have you heard? We have been attacked!’ The speaker sounded like someone who thought war was all about fun and bravery and romance. He had been hearing too much tales from the traveling bards and the like. She ran a hand through her hair. This man she was following must be insane. He was heading right into the heart of the noise, a place she would have wished to avoid at all cost. There was no way she could turn to any of her street friends for help here, for they would all be in hiding in one of their various holes.<BR><BR>Suddenly he disappeared from her view and she let out a colorful jet of curses. She saw a statue of a man on a horse nearby and quickly shinnied up the pedestal, ignoring the irritated looks of people she had pushed past. Once she was up, she quickly scanned the crowd. Fortunately, his hair made him stand out in the melee below, and took a reckless jump off the statue, receiving a stream of suggestions of what she could do with her free time rather than such things. She pushed through the crowd, quickly trying to find her way to him. That is, until she met a burly seaman who blocked her route, and refused to move. She lost her temper and flashed him the glint of her knife. He immediately became far more understanding and politely allowed her through. By then, his figure had disappeared again. She saw a passing wagon swamped by the crowd, unable to move, and climbed that as well, in a bid to find his shape. When she found it, she climbed down again and took off in his direction.<BR><BR>It took a good hour to push and shove her way through, and the man had stopped, apparently finally tired enough to rest. Alayna sighed, and stopped rather near to him, so near that if he turned around, he would have seen her. In seeming no time, he moved again, and she followed, allowing some distance between them. She tensed at the way he moved, quick and urgent, almost like he knew where he was going. She shivered, even though it was rather warm, with the heat from the bodies and the warm summer night. It freaked her out, the way he did everything. She was tired, and this night alone had given her a far bigger adrenaline rush than anything ever. It was the first time she had so many interesting things occurring in one night, what with the run, the attack, the figure, and now the chase. Life was really dull when it was boring, but over exciting if it was interesting. He still had not stopped again, and she was not sure if he ever would. All her years in the street could not have prepared her for this night. Pushing all thoughts out of her head, she focused on her goal and followed him.
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Postby Ráca » Sun Aug 18, 2002 7:12 am

<i>Ráca appeared by Alfirin's side, the badge she had before had in her pocket pinned openly upon her cloak. Spotting the man she was talking to, and then his badge, she nodded to him, before muttering under her breath, </i><BR><BR>"They would not do this to us.... I had... <b>have</b>, the utmost trust in the Rohirrim.... tell me I am not alone, please..."<BR><BR><i>Her voice was disbelieving, her ears not willing to take in all that she had heard since the crying and wailing had begun in the streets. The Rohirrim would not do such a thing.... their brother's would not do it, and the whole affair raised suspicions in her already wary mind that clamoured to be heard.<BR><BR>Snapping out of it, she threw the man in front of herself and Alfirin an enquiring look, her eyes directing themselves towards his badge. She nodded curtly, believing what she saw - he was one of them.<BR><BR>The crowd in the streets was almost overpowering, and Ráca felt her head spin as she remembered her shoulder. Touching a hand to the injured area on her cloak, she was shocked to find her hands came away bloody. She thought the bleeding had stopped a while ago... evidently not. As soon as she paid more attention to it,she realised that her legs were weak, her reflection in a nearby water trough showing just how unnaturally pale her already pale face had become. Holding a hand out in front of her, she watched it waver from its place - she couldn't hold it straight. Beginning to feel lightheaded, she looked around for somewhere to rest.... there was no-where.<BR><BR>She had got herself injured for those women - Ráca hoped that they appreciated it. The bleeding was dehabilitating, preventing her from thinking straight - all she wanted to do was creep off somewhere and sleep.... but she couldn't do that. The only wary and conscious part of her mind screamed a warning immediately - it would kill her if she slept now... she needed help. <BR><BR>She looked again at the man, vying for his attention so she could get the message across that she needed help - in the end, her dark eyes eventually caught his own dark borwn ones, deep and thoughtful. Ráca's eyes, however, portrayed what was happening - the light and depth in them was rapidly failing, and her natural elven glow was dimming down to an almost invisible level.</i><BR><BR>"Help me...."<i>She murmured weakly, praying that he could lip read - there was no way he would hear her over the throng.</i>
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Postby Myrdock » Sun Aug 18, 2002 3:13 pm

The crowds were thick, filled mostly with curious common-folk out to see what the commotion was about. He felt like warning them, telling them to go back to their homes, to lock their doors, especially if what his gut-feeling told him would happen would come true. It seemed like he had walked for a long while, slipping through the crowd as one well-accustomed to such a practice, moving quite quickly, and yet when he looked over his shoulder, Baran's inn could be seen just a few hundred paces from where he'd stopped. Obviously, the heart of the noise was moving his way. For a moment he thought he caught a glimpse of the young girl he had seen in the common-room, but after but a moment's pause he pushed on. If she caused any trouble, she would be dealt with. He had not gone another twenty paces, however, when he stumbled into someone behind him, muttering a quick apology before hurrying on. However, the someone caught at his arm, and he turned warily.<BR><BR> It was a women, closely shadowed by another. They both looked somewhat worn and weary; he noticed their faces had lines age never gave them. The one who had grabbed him had a steely look about her, a quiet determination, perhaps even a bit of a vengeful light in her eyes, though hidden now beneath a sort of wild desperation. Through the years he had learned to size people up very quickly if need be, and all this he saw in but a few moments.<BR><BR> She spoke almost challengingly, <i>""How many will dare wear that sign openly after the events of tonight? Who will dare oppose a King who has been dealt such a treacherous blow in the first months of his reign. Are you such a man?"</i><BR><BR> Her bluntness surprised even him. <i>Here is a desperate one,</i> he thought, <i>more desperate than I thought.</i> Nevertheless he inwardly cringed to hear her say such things where others could hear, and he hissed something at her inaudibly between clenched teeth. <BR><BR> A moment of silence passed. He glared at her, as a multitude of thoughts strived against one another in his mind. Finally he made his decision, yet while on the verge of speaking, an elvish figure appeared suddenly from the crowd before him. With a dangerous flash in his deep eyes he noted the eagle and fist upon her breast.<BR><BR> He did not miss the glint of recognition in the other women's eyes as they saw the elf(ess). He did not recognize her, though she bore the insignia, and though that was more than a little odd, it was not unheard of. He would know her soon enough, he decided, or someone at Baran's would recognize her, and until then he would be careful. Myrdock quickly glanced from one woman to the other, and then to the elf. The latter mumbled something beneath her breath, and appeared to sway unsteadily on her feet, touching at her shoulder.<BR><BR> <i>"I don't have time for this,"</i> he grumbled, but nevertheless, with a sigh, he turned his back on the mob. <BR><BR> All this happened in just moments. The other two were still staring at him, at yet at the same time visibly shocked at their acquantances sudden appearance. Myrdock cleared his mind. A thought struck him momentarily, one he would have laughed at out loud under other circumstances. Some men dreamt about such things as this--three women, all apparently appealing to him for help, waiting for him to speak. They were by no means hard on the eyes either, he decided wryly, and the beauty of the elves was something of legendary. But these were dark times. Such thoughts had no place in his life, not now, not yet, perhaps not for a long while. He pushed them aside vigorously.<BR><BR> With a shock, he looked back to the elfess. Something was horribly wrong with her. Her hand was sticky with blood, her shoulder the same. She swayed on her feet, her eyes dimming as a mist seemed to pass over them. Her lips moved weakly, and it was obvious what she was trying to say. <BR><BR> She fell into his arms. A gasp went up from all those around them, and the two other women started.<BR><BR> His eyes flashed again, but this time more with worry and pity. He glanced up quickly at the other two and with a deadly calm spoke to them quite harshly, <i>"Hurry! You will follow me to that inn,"</i> he motioned with his eyes, <i>"and if you try to run, you will be dead before you go ten paces. Obey me now, and you will be unharmed, I promise you. Perhaps you can even help me with your...friend here. It seems to me she is deathly ill and wounded, though poor doctor that I am. Questions can be saved for later. If you do not obey, you will die. If you call out or make any suspicious motion or signal, you will die. Do you understand me?"</i><BR><BR> They nodded, and with a surprising tenderness, he bore the elf through the crowd and into the common-room. They followed quickly. With a start he saw the girl from the dice game in the crowd, there could be no mistaking it this time. She disappeared again, but not before Myrdock noticed one of the "patrons" tailing her. They were good, all right, he thought with an inward smile, but a half-moment later he was thinking again only of helping this poor elfess.<BR><BR> Once inside, he conducted her through the common-room and into the hall, where there were less pairs of eyes to see. Along the way he sent two messengers, one to fetch Baran, the other for a proper doctor he knew. The other two women were still following, he noted with satisfaction. Introductions were for later, but he hoped they would speak up if they knew what had happened, or if they knew anything else that would help her. He held the elfess gently; at least she wasn't struggling. He laid her very tenderly on the ground, still with his arms around her, and spoke softly.<BR><BR> <i>"Please, m'lady, if you can hear me...I will try my best to help you, but you have to trust me. I know you cannot have any disease, so it must be the wound that ails you. I will dress it, but is that all? Was it poisoned? If you can speak, tell me what is the matter, m'lady, or if you need any special treatment. I'm afraid elves aren't too common in Middle-earth anymore, but I will try my best."</i> He said this last bit with a quiet smile.
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Postby Nessamelda » Sun Aug 18, 2002 5:22 pm

Alfirin had followed, and pushed her way through the crowds into the quieter hall way.<BR><BR>"And indeed though elven folk are not so common as they once were, this one would be an exception in any age I fancy" Alfirin spoke. "She wears the same badge as you, and she is a sturdy fighter who defends those that she feel she owes allegiance to, even against mighty odds. Yet, I do not know whether I would trust her. She is arrogant as all the fair folk are; and she is also different. Very different. .. " her voice trailed off as she thought back to that scene at her house, and that strange apparition that had accompanied the fair mercenary. She was not sure whether it was good or evil. But there had been a taste of darkness and cold fear in its presence that she had not felt before. "Her name is Raca, and she will tell you that it means wolf. She speaks the high elven tongue, rather than Sindarin, and I am not sure what that signifies - usually that is known by those who came from over the sea, the High Elven folk. And she does not quite fit the usual type for that! The lady that is with me (she turned to see if Seanera had accompanied her) and I owe her our lives. (or at least she will think of it that way)"<BR><BR>"And what of you?" said the man. "Are you trustworthy too? At least I know she wears the badge."<BR><BR>"My name is Alfirin, Duchess of Alterion" she said. "And as for trust, well I do not know. But for the present I think that your cause and mine will lead us in the same direction".<BR><BR>She leant forward over the bleeding elf, and tearing a piece of her underskirt away, held it to her shoulder, applying pressure to slow the bleeding. "I am no healer, but I do not think the wound is deep, it is loss of blood that has made her faint. And from my purely academic knowledge of the fair folk, I would say that she will recover surprisingly quickly, given the treament for such injuries as you would give a man"<BR>
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Postby Ráca » Mon Aug 19, 2002 4:12 am

<i>Ráca had fallen as the man bearing the insignia had pushed past her - but instead of hitting the cobbles of the street as she had expected, she had found herself being caught by the very man who had made his way past her before. Looking up at him, she caught a pair of dark brown eyes watching her, worry and pity reflected within their depths. <BR><BR>She had felt herself lifted, pain lancing through her shoulder and encouraging herself to slip deeper into unconsciousness... but it didn't last long. <BR><BR>It was only a minute or so later when a voice broke through the fog in her mind, encouraging her mind to struggle against its bindings and to surface from the blanket of sleep that appeared to smother her, trapping her in its folds.<BR><BR>She eventually surfaced, and moved her head slightly, making it spin. Ráca clenched her fist feeling her fingers enclose upon a length of material - a cloak, maybe?<BR><BR>Then it hit - she was lying in the arms of someone, and it must be their cloak she had held.... then she struggled further from unconsciousness to listen to the voice that spoke to her. <BR><BR>Opening her eyes, she saw the blurry outline of Alfifin, and the man that was holding her she recognised as the one who had passed her in the street. She gasped for breath as pain lanced through her again, hot fire spreading across her chest and restricting her breathing. Her pupils had shrunk to pin-points, her originally dark, almost black irises taking on a silver sheen that was becoming more defined as time passed.</i><BR><BR>"Please, m'lady, if you can hear me...I will try my best to help you, but you have to trust me. I know you cannot have any disease, so it must be the wound that ails you. I will dress it, but is that all? Was it poisoned? If you can speak, tell me what is the matter, m'lady, or if you need any special treatment. I'm afraid elves aren't too common in Middle-earth anymore, but I will try my best." <i>The man said, and Ráca struggled to make sense of anything beyond the bass tones of his voice. <BR><BR>Finally understanding what he meant, she took a deep breath, and murmured,</i> "I shall trust you.... I know not if it.... was poisoned...."<BR><BR><i>She took another deep breath, and winced as the action brought new pain to her.</i> "I... was.... wounded by the royalists in the 'Black Stag' Inn.... A scimitar, or something like it.... jagged edges...."<BR><BR><i>She attempted to take another deep breath, but found herself unable to do so - her body was shutting down due to loss of blood, and now all she could do was take shallow gasps.<BR><BR>She wanted to sleep....</i><BR><BR>"Let me... sleep..." <i>She grumbled, then heard Alfirin's voice mutter that if she slept she may not awaken. At the time, Ráca didn't care.... all she wanted to do was sleep, then all the pain and blood would go away.</i>
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Postby Myrdock » Mon Aug 19, 2002 7:17 am

The elfess was fading, and fast. Her skin was bathed in perspiration, her eyes a silvery sheen, and she seemed to be drifting in and out of conciousness, sometimes limp in his arms, sometimes rigid. When she had spoken, it had been almost inaudible, but he had caught the gist of the words, and went to work immediately. Myrdock's brow was furrowed in anxiety and concentration. <BR><BR> His fingers moved deftly, tearing the clothing from around the shoulder wound, and, placing the scraps of Alfirin, Duchess of Alterion's (to be looked into later) nightdress more correctly on the wound. He had dressed more than his fair share of wounds in his lifetime, though still young.<BR><BR> <i>"More pressure, as much as you can muster,"</i> he commanded softly, but firmly, and Alfirin continued. The other girl still stood behind them, looking down almost wide-eyed.<BR><BR> Myrdock tore some strips from his own cloak, and sent the girl into the common-room to fetch a bowl of warm water. She returned quickly, and he took a vial from somewhere beneath his clothes, added a few drops to the water, and began to bathe the wound gently. It let off an oddly pungent odor, very strong, but not unpleasant. A little color returned to the elfess, but she moaned faintly as though in great pain. <BR><BR> He talked as he worked, trying to keep the elf concious. <i>"Well, M'Lady Elfess, yours must be a strange tale to hear! A speaker of the High Elven language, still in Middle-earth, and one bearing an insignia that I am very curious to know how she received! Ráca is the name, is it? Wolf? Curious, indeed...!"</i><BR><BR> Her lips moved as if trying to speak, but nothing more than a gasp came out. She sank back down into darkness.<BR><BR> The wound was cleaned, and finally dressed. He had found a few shards of metal, apparently from the jagged schimitar she had encountered, and he suspected there might be a few more slender ones still inside, but she would survive. Baran had arrived, and together the five of them--Baran, Myrdock, Ráca, Alfirin, and the other girl--were shown into a room upstairs. Myrdock placed the elfess gently on a bed.<BR><BR> The bleeding appeared to have stopped, and Alfirin and her friend were watching over her.<BR><BR> <i>"It'll take her sometime to recover, Seanera, but the fair folk have a surprising resillience."</i> She looked down at Ráca with thoughtful eyes, and looked troubled.<BR><BR> The other girl said nothing.<BR><BR> Myrdock spoke to Baran quietly, drawing him aside to one corner, <i>"How she got the insignia, I do not know. See if you can find anything out about them--all of them. Keep a watch on all of them. If any try to leave, or do anything foolish, have them brought back to me, but unharmed, if possible. The one calls herself Alfirin, a Dutchess of Alterion. See to it, if you will."</i><BR><BR> The portly man nodded, <i>"Your orders are already being carried out."</i><BR><BR> <i>"Good, good."</i> A cloud passed over him. <i>"Something troubles me. Before, the elfess spoke something of royalists, and the Black Stag. I don't know if it was delirium, but if it is true, we have done a dangerous thing by bringing her here--perhaps by bringing all three here. And her wound--such a wound I have seen before, and a wound like that has no business bleeding as much as it did. I think the blade was tipped in a form of poison--one to prevent the blood from clotting. She is all right now, I hope, in any case. We will wait and see."</i><BR><BR> The innkeeper bowed and left. Myrdock joined the others at the bedside.<BR><BR> <i>"Look! Her color is returning as we speak!"</i> The other woman said, the one he had heard named as Seanera.<BR> <BR> <i>"Now,"</i> he said, firmly, coldly, ignoring the girl. <i>"You will tell me who you are and what has happened tonight that you have come to me. You say our causes run in the same direction, for the time being. Why?"</i>
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