The Cry Of Havoc

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

Postby Aurandir » Sun Oct 13, 2002 6:45 pm

For five hundred years, since the death of Elessar the Renowned, the United Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor has ruled the world, with naught but an occasional weak rebellion to challenge its omnipotence. However, beneath the shining panoply of the kingdom, the land rots. The absence of all threats, all dangers, to the kingdom have made the people stagnant and leaden. The supposed glory of today is nothing but a mockery of what the Kingdom once was. There are some who would not have it so. <BR><BR>These men and women will not see their nation fall into decay and ruin, will not watch helplessly as the Kingdom sickens and dies. To them, there is but one way to fend off the coming death, and they will not shy away from it. For, diseases desperate grown by desperate appliance are relieved, or not at all.<BR><BR> ~<BR><BR>Trumpets blared as the glittering procession wound its way upward through the streets of the Minas Tirith. The army had returned from quelling a rebellion in the East Marches, and the people were out in full force, cheering with all their might, though that may also have been due to the holidays and festivals that were occurring this week in honor of the King’s magnificent victory. At the head of the procession rode Albancil, King of Gondor and Arnor, Lord of the East Marches, Victor over the Romenildi and the Haradrim, Descendent of Elros the First, Elendil the Valiant, and Elessar the Wise. Behind him rode half a dozen others, all members of the royal family, and all equally basking in the vainglory of a false victory. <BR><BR>From the boarded over window of the old Astronomer’s Tower, the archer watched the party advance up the street. He was dressed incongruously, and watched the king with a passionless eye, as if what he was about to do mattered not.<BR><BR>‘They come. Ready yourselves.’ His voice was gruff, and used to command. The men around him nodded silently, somber as they checked they bows and arrows once more. <BR><BR>‘You know what will come of this, and know too what failure entails. No need to go over that. But remember what we are to do. Do not loose the shaft until you are sure of your shot, until you can see them clearly. After loosing, we go to the assigned hide holes. The men downstairs will run away as soon as they hear the commotion. Some will wait until they know guards are near, then run, to try and draw more attention from the tower. After a few days, we can leave.’ His gaze was steel, his voice full of an iron resolve. They had gone too far to go back now. ‘Are you ready to do your duty?’ The men nodded silently. ‘Then go, and remember, we do this for the Two Kingdoms.’<BR><BR>The archer took his place by the shuttered over window. Two slats were broken, allowing him to see his quarry. What he was going to do went against his nature, but long ago he decided it was for the best. He nocked the arrow, training the thick shaft on King Albancil. Slowly he pulled back the bow, the pauses between his breaths a tiny window to shoot. He pulled back upon the bow with all his might, his fingers close to his eye. Praying, hoping, willing the arrow to find the man’s chest. Then he sped the arrow on its way. <BR><BR>Albancil shuddered, and then everyone saw the clothyard shaft protruding from his chest, saw him fall sickeningly onto the stone pavement. A moment, and it became apparent that all of the royalty were dead, as well as the King’s closest attendents. Pandemonium erupted, with people screaming and pushing to get out of the area, soldiers stolidly keeping them in, and healers seeking the king and his retinue frantically. The archer watched only for a moment, then fled to his safety, to wait out the soldiers. <BR><BR> ~<BR><BR>Thus did the War of Succession start, and it soon grew to something far larger in scope, far more cruel and magnificent. In it, tears were shed and then forgotten forever, fathers fought their sons, and in all men’s minds dangled the vision of the Winged Throne.
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Postby Naiore » Mon Oct 14, 2002 4:27 pm

My apologies. Apparently I was not a quick to that stop button when I spotted an error as I had thought. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0>
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Postby Naiore » Mon Oct 14, 2002 4:27 pm

<BR>On a shaded terrace, an elven face serene watched the panic on the streets below. Screams and shouts, voices strained high in fear reached upwards that bright day. Yet the woman who watched did so in utter silence, a stark contrast to the chaos that had been unleased around her. The primal surge of emotion from those gathered below flooded Naiore's senses, sending them spinning and whirling like those that were carried with the crowd to crash against the soldiers hemming them in. This fruit had been ripening for some time now. The peach had been shaken free of the bough by an impudent breeze and it was falling. Into whose hands? There would be a number outstretched for it. This question hung unspoken in her mind as Lady Naiore Dannan observed.<BR><BR>Her emerald gaze rose from the crowd to the abandoned tower from whence the arrows had fallen like deadly rain. Accurate, timed, precise. Who had sped those shafts? Another question only Naiore heard. She instantly dismissed the fanciful notion of speeding towards that tower to find the answers. The archers were either dead themselves or safely hidden away. One did not assassinate a king and his immediate family and simply idle away time clutching the murder weapon in the place the crime had been committed from. Regicide was a serious business. Her eyes left the Astonomer's Tower and returned to where the king and his family lay sprawled on the cobblestoned streets. Healers were working feverishly, but the cant of heads and limbs spoke all Naiore needed to know. Albancil, his heirs and his closest lackeys were dead. Would the hand that first reached for this delectible, juicy peach be able to hold it?<BR><BR>Summer had ended, war had begun. Interesting timing. Few chose to spark a war at this time of year. Winter was something armies from across the continent assiduously avoided whenever possible. Naiore's mind twisted and turned down pathways few aside from her trod in these latter days. A memory of a voice, one that had purred to her nearly 1,000 years ago now by mortal reckoning, brought a smile that curved Naiore's lush lips. A blonde brow rose elegantly as she stared at Albancil. She was right, that voice. This was indeed a decisive way to put an end to the rumours that her only function at court was to warm the King's bed. He'd need a great deal more than Naiore Dannan to warm him now. Something darker, redder, blacker permeated the panic that assaulted Naiore's empathic senses. Anger, rage, violence was starting to permeate the fear. Her gaze turned with new curious interest to the hemmed in people. It was like watching a pot boil on the hearth. A hand at her right elbow pressed upon Naiore's musings. She turned her head to find some lordling, who's name escaped her for good reason, standing by her side. Concern painted his voice.<BR><BR><i>"Lady Dannan, it is not safe!"</i><BR><BR>Indeed it was not. A woman's high pitched scream punctuated his statement of the blindingly obvious. Naiore supressed her more immediate reply and deferred instead to something seemly for a woman ambassador caught up in a royal assassination. Her voice was low, musical and rich.<BR><BR><i>"Indeed, my lord. So kind of you to see to my safety."</i><BR><BR>A child wailed in the crowd below as they turned and left the lordling's terrace. It took Naiore further time to disengage herself from his solicitious undertakings to escort her through the streets to the apartments. Her patience was thinning by the time she won free. This lordling was getting too insistent... too demanding by half. With Albancil dead, she no longer needed to humour his attentions. Naiore made a note to disengage herself as she departed the luxurious sprawl of his compound. At an unhurried pace, she glided through streets that were as familiar to her as her own home. For 500 years Naiore had been present in Minas Tirith. The sunlight gleamed on bright golden hair that fell in a thick, smooth array down her back. It was no troublesome thing to loose the poorly trained men who blundered after her, released by that wretched lordling to "secretly" escort her home.<BR><BR>Despite the inconvenience, it was best to loose the men than to allow them to follow her and then deal with them. Some things Naiore guarded closely. Thus, later than she had preferred, the Ambassador arrived in her apartments within the palace complex. The halls rang with voices and boots. News spread fast. By the time they would seek her, Naiore would need to be ready. She settled at her desk, a finely crafted, delicate piece of elven design, and began. She had not waited for 500 years to be caught unawares now.<BR><BR>------------------<BR><BR>By the time the sun had set in wrathful red ball on the western horizon, the missives had been sent, reports memorised and destroyed, preparations made. Naiore stood, watching darkness fall over the gardens that teemed with men, impassive. Her senses rose with the moon to stretch through the streets. War was howling. An evening breeze, still soft with summer's warm embrace, ran gentle tendrils through her hair and the emerald gown she wore. No jewels bar her gaze caught the star's shimmer as she stood in the window. Her face was shadowed, and the silk of her noldorin gown gleamed.<BR>
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Postby Arwen32315 » Mon Oct 14, 2002 7:45 pm

********<BR><BR>Faran nodded ascent after his commander had given his last orders. They had made plans, changed them, and reached final conclusion in this endeavor to rid middle-earth of a growing plague. His green eyes glittered with hatred as he took aim at the only living son of the king. The other had had unfortunate "accidents" over the years. <BR><BR>Faran and the others fired their arrows as one from the high reaches of the tower. Upon making sure they had hit their targets and that everyone that needed to be dead was dead, each took his planned hiding place. Faran slipped into his niche, a small hidden closet in the second room of the top floor. <BR><BR>Confusion reigned in the streets below. The king and his entire family was dead! This thought crossed every mind. Women fainted, and men drew their swords in search of an invisible enemy. Faran was tempted to take a peak, but he knew that would compromise the mission. He had been ordered to hide for the next few days and to escape when he had the chance over the next few days. <BR><BR>The meeting place was a small grotto in the caves of the Anduin River. It had formerly been used as a secret weapons hideout, placed there by the Kind Elessar. But, he had been dead over 500 years and the place had been forgotten. <BR><BR>Faran decided to make the best of his "free" time, so he curled up in his bedroll on the floor and took a nap. He awoke to the tramping of feet. Had they been discovered? Shouts of "Keep searching!" and "They have to be nearby; this is wear the arrows were fired from!" reassured him that the royal guards were still searching, and they were searching in vain. <BR><BR>Each hiding place had been carefully chosen, and some of them had been carved out of the rock walls. They had even gone to the risk of changing out the official blueprints of the castle grounds to keep the guards from finding the old hiding places that had been built into the walls of Minas Tirith in the days of King Elessar.<BR><BR>"Oh, Elessar," thought Faran, "if only you could see what ruin your beloved kingdom has fallen into. You would thank us for this crime. "<BR><BR>Everything of value to this once great city had been done by the great king, but most of his efforts had been long forgotten by the insolent generations that came after him. <BR><BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Mon Oct 14, 2002 8:53 pm

Due to a change in profile after the fact I will post below last post, sorry.
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Oct 15, 2002 7:04 pm

Lord Né Eanáire bent over the map, soberly tracing lines with his finger. <BR><BR>'I'll burst through here, take the Iron Tower in the south, and maintain constant guard along the river. Perhaps even build a few fortresses. What do you think of it, as a preliminary plan?'<BR><BR>Lord-Lieutenant Bregolas glanced at the map appraisingly. 'Your enemies are not foolish. They have some good generals. They may expect that, and if they caught you in there, there would be a massacre. As for the southern army, no one yet has taken that place by force. You have a ruse in mind, then?' Corin nodded.<BR>'Good. The great problem though, is Rohan. We do not have the strength yet to fight them, and we would lose the war if they threw their weight onto the other side.'<BR><BR>Corin nodded again. What the man said made perfect sense, but he had already thought of it. It was reassuring however, to find that the grizzled oldster concurred with him.<BR><BR>‘I’ve already sent emissaries, ambassadors, etc. They should arrive soon in Rohan. I’ll come too if it seems like they turn to me. Or if it seems they turn away to whatever rival I have in the south.’<BR><BR>Corin was silent for a few minutes, then spoke again.<BR><BR>‘Bregolas, what if no one contests my claim of Steward?’<BR><BR>At that Bregolas laughed mirthlessly. He shook his head. <BR><BR>‘If that particular doubt is bothering you, put it to rest. They will scheme and plot in the south, and all will seek the Winged Crown like a drowning man clutches at a lifeline, but none will let you be Steward of the Reunited Kingdom. It has only been a hundred and fifty years since the Princes of Ithilien were stripped of the title Steward of Gondor, but Halindor will claim that he is the rightful Steward of the Kingdom, by right of his family being the Steward of Gondor. Perhaps Adrahil of Dol-Amroth will want to have that honor. I have heard that he seeks to test his wings and soar. One does not know anything for sure. But worry not. There are more than enough players of this game, more than enough that will not see you head Gondor and Arnor. When will your proclamation arrive in the South?’<BR>‘I do not know. Perhaps two weeks? Three?’<BR>‘And one more thing. My intelligence agents have had trouble with a few nobles at court. If it seems to get worse, or the situation gets odder, I will tell you.’<BR>‘Thank you Bregolas.’<BR>‘My pleasure to serve, my Lord.’ <BR><BR>~<BR><BR>The High Prince glared murderously at the men who bound him, then checked the strips of cloth to make sure they were tight. Glare was all he could do, for the first thing they had done was gag him. They worked efficiently, and were quickly done. <BR><BR>‘Ready? One, two, three.’ <BR><BR>On that last count he was lifted up, gently, but strongly all the same. Like some extremely valuable parcel he was settled into one of the long steel chests popular at that time for transporting valuables, the padded interior perfectly molded to fit his body. Tiny pinpricks in the sides let in whispers of air and light, and after trying for a few minutes, he found he could not shake or rock the case he was in. <BR><BR>With another count he felt that the chest he was in was lifted up and carried out of the room, down long halls and elegant stairways. After a few twelves of minutes he lost track of the turnings they took, and ran over stories in his head to keep himself from going mad. As he was envisioning Elendil’s last stand before Sauron, he heard the voices of the Guardsmen stopping his captors. <BR><BR>‘Stop there man. What do ye guard and carry?’<BR>‘It is not of your business Sergeant. We come from the governor of North Rhovanion, and what is in here is to be seen only by him, and the one he sent them to.’<BR>‘Step aside now. I must see them.’<BR>‘I cannot let you do that sir. He charged me to let only the recipient see the contents. Is your curiosity worth my right hand? For that is what he will take if he sees the seals broken.’ What Anathor supposed was one of his captors, seeing the Guardsmen weakening, pressed his case harder. <BR><BR>‘And I believe they are of a personal nature. Mayhap they are gifts sent to a lady friend, a noblewoman at court?’<BR><BR>The Guardsmen grunted. ‘These provincial governors! Pretentious fools, thinking they are nobles and going after the noblewomen here! Pah! Go along, and a pox be on your master!’ He waved them angrily on, and his captors instantly complied. <BR><BR>Anathor cursed a blue streak as they left the Palace grounds. When he became King, everything would be checked, and that sergeant would wish he had never joined the army. If he ever became king. He wondered why he had been taken at this particular time, and sank into brooding, moody thoughts as his prison was lifted onto a horse-cart.
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Sat Oct 19, 2002 8:42 pm

<i> Amalthea plaited her long golden blond hair into a braid coiling it up into a bun at the top of her head, she had woven a golden strip into it and it glittered now as the sun hit it at various angles. She had also attached a headress made out of a fine mithril chain and a deep burgendy colored gem hung from it, adorning her brow, for she was known as the gem of her land, or what was left of it at any rate. <BR>Amalthea scoffed as she pulled on her light satiny ridding cloak, there was little left of Ithilien these days, it had been like that ever since it was plundered, when she was but a child. When she returned to it nine years later, hoping against hope that her father or mother had been spared, had escaped only to find they had been the first to perish, well Amalthea had lost hope in her people. Though she still had hopes for them, but few remained, and now she was going to depart from the land that had not shealtered her enough, had allowed her to be carried off without even coming to search for her. Yes she was bitter, any would be, but she was going to move on, for otherwise the bitterness would overcome even her hard soul. A hand upon her shoulder brought Amalthea back to the presant with a start,</i><BR>"Where will go little gem?"<i> he asked a mix of emotions on his face.</i><BR>"Wherever I need to, brother, whever I need to."<i> <BR>But where<b> would</b> she go? There were certainly many options open to her, Dol Amroth,no even though she did have kin there she didn't trust the prince(her kin) completely. Rohan, no her kin link was weak at that now, and she had never longed to live in that land. She had to smile at this though, from the ties of marriage hundreds of years ago Ithilien had linked many lands, Rohan, Dol Amroth, and even Gondor had some ties to her home. Out of all of them Gondor seemed the best choice, so as she mounted her black steed she smiled at the few that were gathered there, she knew not when she would their faces again. Without another thought she rode off, not bothering to look back.</i><BR><BR>~~~~<BR><BR>As she rode through the gates of Gondor her face, which had begun to shine with the anticipation of seeing the King and the people once more, fell and as she saw the confusion and the weeping she didn't know what to think. Then she saw his body on the cold ground and all went blank, she wanted to run to him, to force him to waken, say it was in joke, but her feet would not follow the order. Instead she walked in another direction, away from the scene, she kept her lightly scarred face down, for she would die before letting the people see her with tears, and yet there they were. Falling from her green eyes as she departed without a word.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Oct 20, 2002 12:03 pm

Autumn had come early this year, even in the plains of Udûn, and a low fog clung to the ground in the early morning chill. As he left his gust quarters and made his way across the yard to the Lord Lieutenant’s headquarters, Elladan stopped to look around and recall, with a grin, that it had not been so long ago that this had been a wasteland and that he had slept many nights on its rocky ground.<BR><BR>The world certainly had changed, he mused as the armed guards stood by to let him pass. Voices were audible in the dining room, and upon entering, he found his brother with a mug of steaming tea already in his hands, breaking his fast with Libor and Milos, aides of Lord Sirnus, Lieutenant of Udûn and the Morannon.<BR><BR>“Hoy Elladan, old age has set in at last!” called Libor as they all glanced up at his entrance. “For you have never been such a slug abed in my memory. Why, it is a full half hour since Elrohir joined us.”<BR><BR>He chuckled along with them as he settled down on a bench across from the small, dark Gondorian. “Too fair a dream to exchange for your uncharming visage,” he ribbed. “And Elrohir becomes an early-riser only when his lady is abroad.<BR><BR>The men’s laughter was raucous, and Elrohir grinned as he sipped his tea. “A good enough reason to steal another hour from the day, you must agree.”<BR><BR>“Especially since Elladan has only dreams to keep him abed,” Libor snickered.<BR><BR>“I see no comely ladies hereabouts,” quipped Elladan. <BR><BR>The banter was arrested by the entry of Lord Sirnus, and silence fell when they saw the grave expression upon his face. Tall, gaunt, and gray-bearded, Sirnus had a stern countenance, but today, he was unusually serious.<BR><BR>“What is it?”<BR><BR>Heavilly, he sat down with them. “A messenger has just briefed me on and urgent matter from the Citadel.” He cleared his throat. “The King has been assassinated.”<BR><BR>A moment of stunned silence gave way to basic questions “What?” “How?” And “When?”<BR><BR>“The details were sketchy enough, and I don’t think we shall know much of the truth this far away.” With a deep sigh he shook his head. “There is no mention of who, if anyone, is currently in charge in Minas Tirith.”
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Postby Arwen32315 » Sun Oct 20, 2002 12:36 pm

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*<BR><BR>It had been three days since the assasination of the King and his family. Faran had almost been discovered as he left the Old Astronomers Tower. Guards were racing around helter skelter trying to locate the assassins. They had put up extremely tight barriers around the castle and the Tower. Sneaking through alleys and hiding in trash piles wasn't his ideas of a walk-in walk-out job, but it was for the good of the United Kingdoms. <BR><BR>"Halt!" the guard who uttered this command was fat and dumpy. He looked like he had been taking a nap on the job. <BR><BR><i>"Perfect!" </i> though Faran. "Let us pass, Captain!" he replied. The man was obviously just a Foot Soldier placed on guard duty due to the sudden havoc. <BR><BR>"Show me your papers, Sir." said the soldier in a haughty tone that he thought fit the rank of "Captian."<BR> <BR><i>"Pinhead." </i>Faran first reaction was to snear(sp) in disgust at the man, but when did papers become required. "We have no papers. Let us pass.<BR><BR>"Go" the "captain" replied, after realizing he wouldn't have any fun with these two. <BR><BR>Faran road out through the East gate of the city. It had been a narrow for him and the one other assassin who was assigned to travel with him. Two leaving the city was less suspicious than one. <BR><BR>"You know," Faran said to the man who rode on his left, after they were out of earshot of the watchgates, "This job was almost to easy!"
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Postby Mataisi » Sun Oct 20, 2002 2:06 pm

<u>Far Harad, a day after the King's assassination...</u><BR><BR>" Ledt?"<BR><BR>" Yes, sir?" <i>The young attendant sprang up from his chair as suddenly as if his seat had been lit aflame.</i><BR><BR>" Do you know if the Lady Mirihar is present here today?" <i>asked the General, a large, dark-skinned man with three gold earrings in one ear and two in the other, seated behind a magnificent red wood desk.</i><BR><BR>" I believe so, sir."<BR><BR>" Would you send her to me?"<BR><BR>" Of course, sir." <i>Ledt bowed respectfully and hurried out of the room on his errand.</i><BR><BR>______________________________<BR><BR>" Yes, Lehjan?"<BR><BR>" Ah, Lady Mirihar." <i>said the General by way of greeting to Lady Mataisi Mirihar, who had appeared in front of his desk.</i><BR><BR>" You sent for me?"<BR><BR>" Yes, I did."<BR><BR>" May I ask why?"<BR><BR>" Well, Lady, I received some rather interesting news today."<BR><BR>" What of it?"<BR><BR>" News from Minas Tirith." <i>General Lehjan carried on as if he had not heard Mataisi, casually inspecting his fingernails.</i> " You see, it seems the King has been assassinated."<BR><BR>" Assassinated?" <i>Mataisi looked up sharply.</i> "By whom?"<BR><BR>" Well, we really don't know. The culprit's still at large."<BR><BR>" And who reigns at Minas Tirith?"<BR><BR>" Ah." <i>The General looked up from his hand and smiled at the woman before his desk.</i> " It seems the throne of the White City is... vacant."<BR><BR>" And you want me to...?" <i>she asked knowingly, one auburn eyebrow raised as it often was.</i><BR><BR>" Precisely."
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Postby Rohan_of_Rohan » Mon Oct 21, 2002 1:49 am

The two shadows stirred restlessly within the mouth of the sewer entrance. A pungent odour eminated from within, a mixture of human filth and the smell of week old pig slop. Bard shifted his weight to his other foot and spat to his side.<BR><BR>Bard broke the silence,<BR><i>"This smell is making me nautious. I say next time we arrange a meeting place of a more pleasant sort."</i><BR><BR><i>"Aye. How long must we wait amongst this filth? I don't care too much for descretion if this is what it smells of."</i><BR><BR>They were no more than four feet in the entrance but Bard couldn't make out the features of his companion. As Bard spoke, the sound echoed somewhat, discerning that this sewer system was indeed long.<BR><BR><i>"Patience, friend. I'm sure he'll arrive soon, and then we can vacate this forsaken sewer."</i><BR><BR>As he finished these words, in what was moments ago a pitch black tunnel, came the red flickering light of a torch. Within moments he was before them, accompanied by a smell which could only have come from the deeper and ranker parts of the Gondorian undercity system, if ever a smell as bad existed.<BR><BR>The new stranger spoke as his face was luminated with the torch light for Bard to see. <BR><i>"Hello gentlemen, lovely night for a strole, isn't it? First things first, whats the word?"</i> <BR><BR><i>"If by that you mean the PASSWORD, then the answer is 'Edoras'"</i><BR><BR><i>"No, Bard, for you are not to pass by anywhere, therin it is not a password."</i><BR><BR>Bard sneered his unseen face. <i>"What news from the masters?"</i> <BR><BR><i>"Well, the masters are most displeased with the current turn of events."</i><BR><BR><i>"Was it not their eventual plan to assassinate the king anyway? It seems to me that this is a most advantageous outcome, they get what they want without any legwork."</i><BR><BR><i>"No. They may have wished the king dead, but now there is no sucessor to the throne, they never plotted for the whole family to suffer this unfortunate incident. This small talk is besides the point, I am to issue your new orders. The masters have plotted and have found a way to turn this to our advantage."</i><BR><BR>Bards interest grew, his companion stayed silent, preffering to leave all the talking to his superior. The messenger continued....<BR><BR><i>"You are to pose as High Nobility from Rohan, an embassador from an Influential House, here are all the papers and documents that you need"</i><BR>He reached into a bag and handed over to Bard several rolled up scrolls of paper.<BR><i>"It took quite some effort to gain these, it seems that you are to assume the identity of one 'Eorthalion', a distant blood relation to the king himself, Don't worry, it has been rigourously checked out. Eorthalion keeps a generally low profile and there should be none in Gondor who shall recognise you as a fraud. Meanwhile, the real Eorthalion has been urgently called away on a secret business venture, and is completely unaware of the current situatuion here in Gondor. His fate is still being decided."</i><BR><BR>Bard took all the information in, pondering about the plot and noting in his mind that the masters had truly outdone themselves this time. It took them mere days to arrange this. Bard commented sidelong to his companion. <i>"It seems the Arauke spynet is branching farther and farther these days"</i><BR><BR>Placing the torch down and subsequently putting it out in a puddle of some unknown liquied, the messenger dug his hands into the front of his breeches, making a crude looking fool of himself. <i>"There is one other thing..."</i><BR><BR>With a heavy breath he whipped out a ruby that glowed a beautiful red even in the pitch blackness of the dank sewer.<BR><BR><i>".....this is to finace the venture, you are to use this to pay for some presentable clothing for you and your men. You will also need horses, and by evening tommorrow, you are to make your entrance through the gates and establish your visade. The orders for what to do once you have infiltrated the nobility of Gondor are written on that scroll."</i> <BR>The messenger pointed to a scroll that he had previously handed over, shoved the ruby into Bards hands, and with that, made his way into the depths of the tunnel, striding headlong into the billowing stench without so much as a mumble at the rank odours.<BR><BR>For the first time since the messengers arrival, Bards companion spoke.<BR><i>"I guess we had better assemble the others and get to studying what we are to do, and it seems we have some shopping to do."</i><BR><BR>Bard didn't respond to the words, instead he turned and led them out of the sewer into the streets under the night sky. <i>"Lovely night for a strole."</i>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Mon Oct 21, 2002 6:51 am

Alayna trotted along silently beside her mount, her soft, low-cut boots barely stirring the grass around her. She kept the cowl of her cloak pulled low over her ebony tresses and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought her to be no more than an illusion in the grassland. Soon, owner and mount reached the gates that led into Gondor. Once they arrived, the few guards on duty gave them a dismissing look, and turned their attention back to their dice game. However, her overobe had caught the eye of one of the guards. He looked closer at her, and his guard went up. Peering closer, and even venturing down from his post, he went to speak to her personally. In truth, her pverobe was made by the remaining Silvan elves in Mirkwood, and given to her as a parting gift two years ago, after she left them after fourteen years. Now she was back to claim what was rightfully hers, and nothing was going to get in her way. Fixing the man who had just come down with an icy stare, barely visible beneath the hood, her voice was soft but commanding as she asked him to let her in. Without a second thought, he ordered for the gates to be opened, and bowed low as he allowed her in. However, when she moved in, he gestured for one of his men to follow her wherever she went. As she passed him, he said,<BR>"Go to the Red Dragon inn. They’ll be glad to have you."<BR>She nodded to him, apparently acknowledging his advice.<BR><BR>She steered towards the inn, an ancient-looking buildings building covered with moldy black shingles. A sign over the door proclaimed the name of the establishment. Candlelight and raucous conversation wafted from inside the building. As she tied her horse to a hitching post, she gazed through the grime covered windows, observing out of the corner of her eye that the crowd inside resembled a convention of outlaws. Nevertheless, she pulled open the door and stepped inside.<BR><BR>The interior was bright, crowded noisy, and absolutely filthy. Coarse, grizzled men had packed themselves around rough hewn tables under an open-timbered ceiling that sagged visibly in the center. They sat feasting on freshly killed meat and cups of ale or hard cider. The walls were stained brown with smoke and the plaster was flaking. The innkeeper, a fat old man with his arm in a sling, did not skimp on candles. He kept scores of them burning in wall sconces, on tabletops and in the wagon-wheel chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. But they were made of tallow, the cheapest material available, and filled the air with smoke and the rancid odor of burning animal flesh. However, none of the patrons seemed to mind.<BR><BR>The innkeeper turned his attention to this strange cloaked figure standing in front of him.<BR>"We don’t need no Elves here," he growled, his eyes fixed on the cloak she wore.<BR>"What makes you think I'm an Elf? Besides, do you offer hospitality to worthy travelers?" she returned in rather heavily scented Common.<BR>"Them that has the money to pay for it."<BR>"Best board you can offer for one. Private room to myself. A clean blanket. Oats, water and a rubbing down for my horse."<BR>"I’ll see the color of your silver now."<BR>No silver. The coin that appeared in her hand was gold. She flipped it at the innkeeper, who grabbed but missed it. It rolled under the table, and the man dived for it as if frightened his customers might beat him to it. The cloaked lady hid a sardonic grin, and threw back her hood. Shiny ebony locks danced gaily about her shoulders, the intense sparkle of her dark blue eyes enough to bind any man hopelessly within their depths. More than one man in this room had felt himself drawn towards this strange young lady, who tamed the innkeeper with gold.<BR><BR>Immediately, Alayna found herself escorted to a table by a grimy window, and a platter of venison was placed in front of her, along with a mug of hard cider. Looking disdainfully upon the venison and cider, she raised a slender hand to summon the innkeeper, who came to serve her. She requested for a cup of water instead, to which he willingly complied, also whisking away the cup of cider to serve another patron. Pushing the platter of meat away from her, she reached into a bag and pulled out a packet of lembas, which she began to tentatively munch, enjoying the taste. The innkeeper apparently noticed the untouched meat as well, and cleared that away, leaving her with a glass of water. Running a finger along its rim, she was disgusted to see dirt. Finishing off the bit of lembas, she headed upstairs to her room.<BR><BR>At least the linen was clean, she observed, as she removed the overobe that lay around her shoulders, revealing the fact that she was clad in browns and greens, the color of the woods, not unlike the kind the Mirkwood elves wore. She had come to discover who she really was, but nothing could prepare her for the shock to come. As she leaned back on one of the graciously provided chairs, slinging her bag into a corner of her room.
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Postby Naiore » Tue Oct 22, 2002 2:54 am

Naiore walked with a serene gait through the ornate halls, looking not left nor right at the guards that dotted the corridor. They were set, like the delicate and rare objects of art, amidst the opulance accrued over the long years. The wealth of plundered lands, and wealth regained by a people once plundered themselves, drifted past the elven Ambassador. She paid it the attention it merited. Nothing was out of place, no new pieces or missing pieces. Certainly it was nothing to compare with the artistry of her own people. Not that that had availed them of much as time had marched on. A smile curved her full lips, slight, and her skirts and hair trailed on the air as she passed art, doors and guards by. Each, by now, knew well the Ambassador of Belfalas she was not hindered.<BR><BR>From time to time, Naiore would catch the gaze of a guard in her own emerald one, and from them rolled wariness, readiness and no small amount of fear. Not of her her. No, the stench of riot was redolent on the city air. Unquiet stalked the city streets, barely kept in check. It built like the storms that sprang up at the end of summer. The air smelt now of newly loosed rains, unleashed upon Minas Tirith with nature's urgency. Yet even that had not managed to cool the panic that was building. Much rumour had come to Naiore. She knew of some that were even now moving, and she knew that there would be others of which she has no knowledge of, yet, also drawning close. A critical juncture always drew hands hidden forth.<BR><BR>She drew closer to the High Prince's apartments, mind spinning with what she knew and the possibilities that lay in what she did not. Behind her, the one assigned to trail after her in what she gathered was a parody of covert surveillance slipped around the corner. He was a mere annoyance. There were far greater threats to concern her... and even moreso much to secure. The peach was tumbling. Naiore drew to a stop before the Corin's doors. The guards impassively stared ahead. Naiore raised a delicate hand to knock on the doors. One of the guards eyed her and eased the door to the Prince's outter chambers open. She nodded graciously and glided through, murmuring as she passed.<BR><BR><i>Do be sure the spy is able to hear well enough.</i><BR><BR>He sighed and closed the door after her, perhaps a little more firmly than he needed to. It would make the third tail she had eluded that day. Naiore wondered if they were enjoying this game as much as she was bored by it. But, let them think that she was diverted with such petty issues as being followed by a spy. Let them think she was nomore than a well dressed play mate of the dead king. It worked well enough for her purposes, for now, and what she was able to feed back to those who sent the spies suited her well.<BR><BR>As the doors clicked shut behind her, Naiore noted an usual lack of attendants. A minor lordling emerged from the inner room and was confronted with the sight of the elven ambassador in her full glory. Naiore had chosen carefully. She wore an elegant gown of her people, the beauty of the silk and the way it skimmed over her a powerful reminder of who she was. It was simple, but inherently elven. He scowled at her very presence as Naiore smoothed the pale rose panels of her skirt, rising from her formal curtsy.<BR><BR><i>My Lord of Pelannor, what an unexpected pleasure to find you here.</i><BR><BR>Laughter faintly sang in Naiore's voice as she straightened to her full height once more, hands clasped across her hips as she regarded the man with arch amusement. His disposition further soured, not at all perturbed by the Noldorin Ambassador that stood before him.<BR><BR><i>Perhaps, my lord, you would be so kind as to inform his majesty the High Prince that I have arrived. There are some matters of import that I must discuss with him at his earliest convenience.</i><BR><BR>He made to reply, and she anticipated his response with an amicable statement.<BR><BR><i>I understand that he is likely to be beset with many matters of importance. I am a mere Ambassador. I am well pleased to wait upon his leisure.</i><BR><BR>That said, Naiore removed herself to a satin couch and folded gracefully to sit upon it. Her eyes were intent upon the lordling, as he considered how best to deal the troublesome elf that had taken up residence in the Prince's outter chamber. Her smile grew slightly, and she pushed a golden strand that had fallen over her shoulder back to join the rest of the hair that tumbled to her waist. The man was a delectible mix of emotions that would easily entertain one such as Naiore for some time. She sat quietly, considering him as he considered her. Silent, he stiffly walked from the outter chamber, presenting his proudly tall back to her. Naiore arched a blonde brow in amusement and made for the inner chamber.<BR><BR>As she had expected, it was empty of the High Prince. The dead King's son was poorly matched agaist his father's assassins. Naiore sat on a divan at the foot of the High Prince's bed as she considered, in no rush to remove herself from the scene of the abduction. The wheels were spinning quickly, as they tended to with mortals. Her sources had told of an abduction plot and hinted at those behind it. She had much to determine before the plays were made. She rose smoothly and glided once more from the High Prince's apartments. The spy, a young man no more than 20 if she had to put an age to him, nearly tripped over himself. Naiore gathered his arm to her, placing her own upon it.<BR><BR><i>How kind to offer to escort me, young sir. I go to my apartments. It is not safe even here for a lone maiden to wander.</i><BR><BR>By the time the spy made his way from Naiore's chambers, he carried a clear message in his mind and the fervent wish to never again earn the displeasure of Naiore Dannan or her ilk. His hands only trembled slightly, but his eyes were wild and breathing light. It was as though the Ambassador had delved into his very soul, running her fingers through his heart and turning up what she would see, examining it for anything of interest. She asked strange questions, and there were no safe or correct answers. The emerald blaze of her eyes still filled his mind. His masters took one look at him when finally he arrived in the dusk and cursed the elven witch responsible for it.<BR><BR>Naiore had two choices... ally herself with the rightful heir, and locate him, or see what those who would be rulers offered. Afterall, she was Ambassador. Elves do not meddle in the affairs of men. Her skin freshly bathed and a light robe wrapped around her, Naiore wondered where in all this were her supposed kinsmen and women. Bregolas and Corin were one matter, Ambassadors from Harad another... but elves, they represented the greatest allies and foes for Naiore, and she would know if any were in the city.<BR><BR>A twisted man, unpleasant to look upon, made his way to Laday Dannan's chambers. He was a common sight in the palace grounds and guards saw no need to harry the wretch. He limped to the doors, knocked with surprising gentleness using battered and tangled fists and was bidden to enter. He emerged again minutes later. The Ambassador was pleased, and his misshapen face formed a smile that was difficult for others to see. She had entrusted him with a new task, and given him a prize. In a huge fist, he carried a strand of silken gold hair. He was to seek all elves, and give them the greetings of the Ambassador of Belfalas, a single strand for each. By midday he was to report, and if he did, she would give him something better that the length of hair he had tucked into the grotty tunic that stubbornly clung to his body.<BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Thu Oct 24, 2002 12:27 pm

Corin surveyed the men and women about him, his cousins, their Lord-Lieutenants, and various ducal vassals. Now was the time for action, now he would step into the fire. And, with the help of the Powers, he would return unscathed. Taking a deep calming breath, he arose gracefully from his carved oaken high-backed chair and strode to the center of the audience chamber. Assuming a stance in the middle of the emblem of the House, he threw back his cloak and began to speak.<BR><BR>'Nobles of the House of Beradan, my cousins, I greet you. A terrible event has occurred, one that is, even as we speak, straining the threads that bind Arnorhim and Gondorhim together into a single, united whole. You know that I speak of the death of Albancil, Tenth King of the Reunited Kingdom. Brutally murdered, he was cut down in the high noon of his life. His death would not be incredibly devastating, for, in normal circumstances, there is always an heir to take over. But at this present time, that heir, the High Prince Anathor, is missing, abducted on the very day his father died. <BR>This momentous event will envelop our land, nay, the whole continent, in war. If nothing else, grasp that fact, for it is unavoidable. Princes, great and petty, lay claim to the Winged Crown daily, as if my cousin was already dead and in his grave. There will be, or already is, strife and discord widespread throughout the land. Those fell harbingers forever run before their brothers, Famine, Sword, and Fire, the Hounds of War. But to bring an end to the coming war quickly, a firm hand is needed, one that can capture both the land, and the spirit, of the Reunited Kingdom. <BR>And now to the point, to the crux of this discourse. From this point on, I am, by all but law, named the Steward of the Reunited Kingdom, and granted the powers that go with the office. You may ask yourselves, what precedent do I have for this? What justification do I give for my actions? I answer you, by right of blood, and by right of wisdom. I am the direct descendent of Beradan, brother to Eldarion and son of Elessar. In my veins flows blood pure as the King's. As I mentioned, I also claim this office by right of wisdom. The Southern court is besotted with the notion of age. It seems to them that an old head is better than a young one. Not true I say, and I add that their false notions have contributed to the stagnation of this country. Old men are the only counselors in the south, and ever they counsel caution, and prudence. I am young, as you all see, but wise.<BR>Yet my path will not be easy, will not be as a smooth road with nary a stone on the surface, seamless and enjoined. It shall be fraught with the agony of human strife, yet such is the price we pay. All here would pay it, for I know none here are faint of heart and weak of spirit. But, with wise planning, and your help, it will be done. <BR>Therefore, let us marshal our puissant forces, and set the hearts of our countrymen aflame, so that all the nation follows where we lead. Omit no happy hour that may further our expedition, for we have now no thought in us but Gondor, and the returning of the High Prince to his rightful throne.' <BR><BR>His uncle Mhaedrin stood up. 'I have watched you grow through childhood to manhood Corin, and knew you were destined for greatness. Now you surpass my expectations, and I solemnly attest before all in this hall, that none are as well suited as Corin Né Eanáire for the task he has claimed.'<BR>'My Lord,' said another,'No King ever had such faithful or wise servants and counselors as do you. Your - our - success is assured.'<BR>'Lord Beradan,' said his cousin, using the respectful term for the Head of any house, 'Today we stand in a hall in the Tower of the Hastening Star. Tomorrow you shall sit on the lowest step of the Dais of the King, inside the Tower of Ecthelion.'<BR><BR>Corin smiled at his cousin's enthusiasm, then addressed the assembly once last time. 'Now let every man take thought to this endeavor, that this right and just action be brought to fullness. I leave you now, but I beg my Lords Mhaedrin, Hirin, Phaegril, and Galdor, and the Ladies Aerel and Selephin, along with their respective Lords-Lieutenant, to meet me in the Painted Room in a quarter hours time.' <BR><BR>Punctual, Corin entered the Painted Room at fifteen after the hour, and not a moment before. It took its name from the famous historical scenes painted on the four walls. Cirion and Eorl were present, as was the battle of the Pelennor fields. On the wall behind the head of the table was a picture of Beradan as he fought in the Three Days Battle. It was there he had acquired the name the Fist of Anger, and from that point on, it had been the emblem of his House. As he took his seat, all conversation stopped.<BR><BR>'Lords-Lieutenant, I would have a private word with your liege-lords for a while. I beg you excuse yourselves.' As soon as the door shut, with rather more force than needed, he began to speak.<BR><BR>'As you know, you compromise my High Council. We are, hopefully, to soon have a new addition: a hobbit, from the Shire. Letters have been sent out already to the Master of Buckland, to another Halfling leader called the "Thain of the Shire" I believe, to the Mayor of Hobbiton, and to the Warden of the Westmarch, asking for a suitable man to fill the long defunct position of Counsellor to the North. With luck, they will send an ambassador of sorts soon. Later, we may have an envoy from Rohan, or the Lord-Lieutenant of Angrenost. But it is all conjecture, hypothesis.<BR> This will cause a repercussion of sorts. I have no wish to involve, or inform, our new arrivals of the deeper dealings we partake of, and so those present will now form the Senate of Arnor. Occasionally, new members will be added, if I deem them trustworthy, but I do not see that happening soon.<BR> First, the issue of force. If I was to tell you we must march by the end of the week, how many fighting men could you give me? Fighting men, mind you, not pathetically frightened peasants pulled of a farm and given a spear.'<BR><BR>Mhaedrin looked thoughtful. 'A thousand, perhaps. In additon to two hundred fifty of my personal guard.' The others stated very much the same figures, except Galdor, who surprised everyone and raised more than one set of eyebrows when he said he had two thousand soldiers and five hundred Guardsmen. Corin, though he showed no surprise, mentally filed away the fact that Galdor needed watching. <BR><BR>'So we would have around eight thousand then.' He seemed to be musing to himself, and the assembly could almost see the wheels turning inside his head. 'We could have ten thousand by the end of this week if need be. A not inconsiderable number, by any means. Though it is not nearly enough. Not nearly.' He snapped out of his reverie and, his eyes holding the newly formed Senate's, began to address them. 'Very well. Cousins, out of all our Lords-Lieutenant, who is best suited for command?'<BR><BR>They all glanced at one another at this. 'Truly, it is hard to measure skill or strategy in these times, yet I would say Bregolas is first among them, and Mhaedrin's a close second.'<BR>'Turgelio? Then listen. In four days, I take five thousand of the best soldiers we have, especially pikemen, and march down to Orthanc. I leave Mhaedrin in charge, and Mhaedrin, mark my words carefully. Open negotiations with the elves of Rivendell, such as that remain. It would be good if they were friendly adherents - supporters like them command respect, and improve our cause. Also await a reply from the Shire, and if a Hobbit comes, treat him with all possible courtesy. I, for my part, go to Rohan, to open negotiations with the King. <BR>Bregolas and Turgelio are in charge of raising and equipping a new army. I care not if the army they levy learns its trade in the Northern Wastes, fighting the Ice Fiends, as long as they know their trade, so be it. Good day now, and I shall see you in Orthanc next, or not at all.'
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Postby Nessamelda » Fri Oct 25, 2002 6:06 am

<b>The evening of the day of the King's assasination. In a disreputable tavern on the outskirts of Minas Tirith</b><BR><BR>Daruin's hands were shaking. He was shaking so much that he could hardly hold his drink. And for once, even though it was 11 o' clock at night he was stone cold sober. He ran through the day's happenings in his mind.<BR><BR><i>The day had started well enough. His brother had suddenly appeared from wherever his latest jaunt had taken him, and requested they meet on the walls overlooking the inner circle of the citadel. <BR><BR> It was cold, and his breath showed in the Autumn air as he waited. Daruin's head ached and his stomach churned. Too much cheap wine last night. He fingered the bruise on the back of his head. And there had been, he vaguely remembered, an altercation with a heavily built blacksmith who had taken Daruin's interest in the barmaid rather personally.<BR><BR>No doubt Barahir had called him here to give him yet another lecture on his behaviour. Not that the elder brother could speak with much authority - after all, although they were more discreet, he also had his affairs, and unlike Daruin, Barahir was married, even if it was to that witch Marianna.<BR><BR>"Brother, how's your head today?", came a deep voice from behind him. Daruin turned in some surprise. This did not sound like the start of a tongue lashing.<BR><BR>An onlooker would have had no doubt that the two men on the battlements were kinfolk, yet their appearance and manners were very different. The older brother was slightly shorter perhaps, inclined to fat, yet holding himself in the stance of a trained swordsman. The younger was slender with similar features, but his skin was less sallow and his eyes were almost blue, rather than his brother's determined steel grey.<BR><BR>The two embraced, the older then pulling back, standing regarding his younger sibling with amused affection. "Well brother, your red eyes and bruises tell the story. Was she worth the trouble?"<BR><BR>Daruin laughed and poked Barahir in the belly. "You are getting fat old man. And besides if the rumours are true you have been playing a much more dangerous game with...."<BR><BR>The crowd below errupted into applause, drowning his words as the King and his court passsed by in procession. Barahir stepped to the parapet , gazing intently. Their father was in his usual position, directly behind the King.<BR><BR>Then it had happened. It wasn't the flying shafts from the astronomer's tower that had shocked Daruin so badly - they all knew in the corrupt and dissolute court that death by assasination was an unwelcome possibility. It wasn't the fact that the fourth shaft had impaled their father, although as the youngest who had been kept at home after his mother's death, Daruin was very close to him. <BR><BR>What had rocked him to the core was the fact that Barahir was not shocked, was not surprised. He had been expecting it</i><BR><BR>Taking another slow sip of his drink, Daruin shook his head again. He thought of his mad rush down the dangerously narrow steps of the wall, to kneel helplessly at his father's side as the narrow trickle of blood wound through the litter of horse droppings and straw on the street. And he thought of his brother standing still on the wall above him, just looking down, showing no emotion, not even surprise.<BR><BR><i>Daruin's next thought had been for the High Prince, now by rights the King. He had gone sprinting up the long winding road to the inner courtyards, where the guards were milling in confusion. He cursed knowing how vulnerable the boy was at this time. And when he reached the Royal Apartments he was already too late. Anathor had vanished. <BR><BR> His frame of mind was not improved by the presence of the elven "ambassador" in the Royal apartments. That idiot Pelannor had been totally unable to dissuade her from entering, so she too knew of the Prince's disappearance. Even Daruin who was no great shakes at politics could understand that the fewer people who knew of the Prince's abduction the better - a power vacuum in Gondor with no King and a missing heir did not bear thinking about, He thought of the tales of the Kinstrife so long ago and shuddered. Now the Northern houses would take their chances - Corin Né Eanáire would be claiming the stewardship that his house had for so long wanted, then there were the other Royal houses .....<BR><BR>At least the House Alterion that his brother was now lord of was so far removed from the succession that there should be no problem in Daruin retaining his head upon his shoulders. They had no great lands nor a large force of arms to call on, and posed no threat to anyone. </i><BR><BR>Except his brother had known. Except his brother had been expecting it. And he would have known that his own father would have been one of the first to die.<BR><BR>Daruin gulped down a large mouthful of the harsh, burning liquor, and then abruptly stood, and threw down his glass onto the rush-strewn floor, where it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Mataisi » Fri Oct 25, 2002 2:32 pm

<i>The White City. It stretched night to the heavens, it seemed to the Haradrim caravan, its pinnacle reaching with snowy arms to touch the fair, blue sky. It stole Mataisi's breath from her lungs and her words from her lips, her purpose here notwithstanding. Seven circles of strenght... honour... power... and yet within those circles, a traitor lurked in the shadows. <BR><BR> The caravan came to an abrupt, shuddering halt, and Mataisi was thrown forward rather unceremoniously. Ledt, her travelling companion, opened the door for her and stepped out, offering his hand. Mataisi ignored it, stepping daintily out with her skirts in one hand and her other on the doorframe. <BR><BR> The Pelennor Fields, the historic site of battle and vicory, stretched away behind her, and before her loomed the imposing gates of Minas Tirith. In front of the gates waited a figure, clad in the livery of the Tower, the crest of Gondor embroidered on his breast. He strode quickly forward to meet them, the ambassador and her entourage.</i><BR><BR> " Lady Mirihar?" <i>he asked. Mataisi nodded curtly.</i> " Hail, and welcome to our fair city, the city of Minas Tirith. I am Anatar of the Guard, and I have been asked to take you to your residence."<BR><BR> " Thank you." <i> said Mataisi, her voice undoubtedly lower than most of the northern women's. She walked quickly, having no difficulty keeping up to the guard's lengthy strides. He seemed eager to have her safely withing the city walls.</i><BR><BR> " I do not doubt you have heard news of the King's assassination?" <i>Anatar asked suddenly, startling Mataisi out of a quiet revery.</i><BR><BR> " I have." <i> acknowledged the Lady.</i> " Have they discovered the perpetrator of the crime?"<BR><BR><i>Anatar said nothing, but shook his head, and gave the password to the guard at the gate, and for the first time in long years, a Lady of the Haradrim entered the White City. For the first time, southern shoes with heels no larger around than a copper piece assaulted the cobblestones of the first circle, alongside the hobnailed boots of the Tower Guard. <BR><BR> At length, Mataisi was safely delivered to her residence with no attempts on her life, much to the guard's relief. She thanked him for this by way of a few silver pieces, and bid Ledt bring in her things. She herself settled onto a bed of deep, familiar red wood, with intricate workings upon the posts and the spread, and lay out a piece of parchment, an inkwell and a pen on the bedside table, and began to write her first letter to the General.</i>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:08 am

Alayna left the inn she had been staying at after resting a while, feeling refreshed, and headed into the town's streets, which were still busy, despite the late hour. As she moved among the vendors, who sold everything from flowers to swords of lousy craftsmanship, she found herself subconsciously drifting away from the busy marketplace and into the richer part of town. Here, the houses, if they could even be considered houses, were beautiful; no common roofs here, everything seemed to be carved out of marble at the very least. But her attention was being drawn to the strange manor which had caught her eye, and stood out like a queen among her subjects. As she approached it, she realized that this building was made of rose-colored marble, and there was no visible joining of the marble blocks, giving the manor the appearance of being hewn out of a solid block of such marble.<BR><BR>Upon reaching it, and opening the creaking gate, which squealed a protest of being jolted out of a deep slumber, she moved towards the main doors, which had some rough wooden planks nailed across it. Curious as to what lay beneath it, she used a sheathed rapier as her lever, and forced the boards away from the door. When she entered, she found herself in a huge room with portraits of the manor's many previous inhabitants staring down upon her. However, after a while of looking around the room which she now stood in, she realized that it was a ballroom. <i>How long since music and dance had graced this place,</i> she thought to herself. She then ascended the wide stairway, and opened one of the doors that lay in the corridor in front of her. Even though it was so late at night, she still felt as if it was just midday.<BR><BR>This room she had just entered was the room of a wealthy young woman, probably even the daughter of the manor's last owner. There was no portion of the wall not covered by paintings or tapestries. Time had taken its toll though, and dust had gathered on the portraits themselves, masking their subjects beneath the layers of dust, A great canopied bed stood a dagger's length off the floor,and a few cushions were strewn haphazardly around the room, and the rug was crumpled, as if a struggle had taken place. Then she opened the door to an adjoining room. This was a nursery, by the appearance of a few toys that lay around the room. As she ran her fingers lazily down a mirror that lay in a corner of her room, she gazed in it, and saw a glimpse of her past. A man was holding up a girl about five, and was swinging her around. In a moment, that image disappeared, leaving Alayna confused and slightly shaken.<BR><BR>Shivering, she reentered the ballroom, and some moonlight had apparently managed to filter into the room, showing Alayna how beautiful the place really was. Thick rugs covered the shiny green and black marble floor, and the room was held up by eight marble pillars which were ornately carved to resemble trees, complete with roots and branches, all carved to the finest detail. These brought back memories of Mirkwood, and she began to regret her choice of leaving the place she had called home. Just standing there, gazing out of the window, into the garden below, left her with a feeling of extreme calm.<BR><BR>Suddenly a figure materialized on the stairway, and he yelled,<BR>"Stop! Who are you?!" <BR>Alayna, now scared, began running wildly, and soon found herself with her back to a wall.<BR>"Turn around." The man ordered.<BR>Slowly, cautiously, she turned around, feeling for her rapiers. Once she fully turned and was facing him, the man gave a gasp.<BR>"Ianthe! You've returned, after so long. Do you remember me?"<BR>"I'm not Ianthe sir. My name is Alayna."<BR>The man, now looking closer at the girl who had materialized in the manor, realized with a heavy heart that this girl and the Ianthe that he knew were different people altogether. Where Ianthe was frail, this girl was muscular, despite her appearance, which was exactly similar to Ianthe's.<BR>"Come with me," he beckoned, then moved down a passageway.<BR><BR>"Tell me about yourself. Who are you, and where you came from."<BR>"My name is Alayna, and I have been raised by the Mirkwood Elves since I was five, and I am an orphan, the sole survivor of a bandit raid upon a village."<BR>"This is not true. You are Alayna, daughter of Lady Salome and Lord Iain, I know who you are. I am your family's steward, and know everything there is to know about you. Twelve years ago, your parents asked me to bring you to the Silvan Elves in Mirkwood for safekeeping, as they have heard of an assassin group which target nobles. I left you there, in their care. When I returned to the manor, late at night, I realized it was deathly quiet. When I walked around the area surrounding the manor, I saw your parents and sister's bodies. I have since given them a proper burial, and they are now sitting in your family crypt."<BR>Alayna had sat still throughout this whole retelling of a past she never knew. <BR>"Then...I am a Lady? But I don't know how to be one; I don't even have a staff to help me keep this place in order!" <BR>"Leave everything to me. Come back tomorrow, and you will see this place truely come alive once again."<BR><BR>Alayna returned to the inn, and threw herself onto an empty bench. She had come for no real reason, and instead discovered she was a Lady of a royal house. The innkeeper, seeing her ashen face, placed a glass of liquor in front of her. Smiling up at him, she drank it, letting the smooth, bitter liquid slide down her throat like a tiny bit of molten lava, and it started a small, warm glow as it hit her stomach. That done, she headed up to her room, where she slumped on her bed and fell into a sound, dreamless sleep.
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Postby Naiore » Sun Oct 27, 2002 7:12 pm

Hoss dragged through the cobblestoned streets, clutching the strands of silken hair in a twisted hand. To those that watched his progress, it looked to be a painful and frustrating thing. But for Hoss, it was all he had ever known in the 38 years of his life. Those 38 years had been dismal, spent beneath the weight of disgust or curse or poverty. Grinding years, that had been lifted one confusing, death filled day by a person the likes of which Hoss had not dared even to conceive of in the small part of his mind that he allowed to dream. She did not call him Hoss, called it uncouth and instead named him Harold. It sounded noble, upon her tongue, and he liked it for she had given it to him. But in his mind, he remained as he had been, a discarded syllable his name as it had always been.<BR><BR>People looked away, and children started agog as he shuffled past. Despite his physical limitations, Hoss was capable of covering much territory. He knew the back streets better than he knew himself, and his wits were sharp enough to keep him alive upon those streets as well as organise his route. Into the last Inn that he had to visit, Hoss shuffled. A man growled an oath of disgust as he labouriously limped his way past. It was getting late in the day and Hoss was keen to report back. He maneouvred his bulk towards the barkeeper and his gravelly baritone voice made an inquiry that was now well practised. Hoss was pleased he had paid attention to his instructions this morning.<BR><BR><i>"Pardon Barkeep, I am sent on an errand by the Ambassador of Belfalas."</i><BR><BR>The Barkeep's brows rose, and an amused smile creased his worn face at the mention of Hoss' mistress. The rumours plied their thickest in inns and taverns. Now he knew that the rumours concerning the Ambassador's pet were true. Much beer would be drunk as he relayed to the patrons just how loathsome the man really was. Hoss ignored the smirk, for it wasn't the first time he'd seen it and he knew why they smirked. But it was true. He was the Ambassador's man and he held that fact close to his heart with the name she had given him.<BR><BR><i>"She wishes to send her greetings to the elven guests that lodges with you. Will you please send this up to the representative from Lothlorien, and with it an invitation to attend the Lady Dannan at her convenience within the Royal Palace."</i><BR><BR>The delicately wound strands of golden hair passed to the Barkeep, who stared at the softness he now held. When he looked up, Hoss had already shambled towards the door again, keen to return and report. The Barkeep ran his fingers over the hair, still somewhat bewildered. It wasn't every day he got to receive, on someone else's behalf, the characteristic invitation of the Ambassador of Belfalas. Such things were rare, and valuable. He lifted the strands to his face, catching the scent of lavender and feeling like a schoolboy who was stealing. Hastily, scratched out a note in his rough writing and followed the young lady that had retreated upstairs. She did not answer the tap at her door, so the note was folded over the woven hair and slipped under the door.<BR><BR>Hoss was easily spotted by the guards. They called in greeting, some in mock and some genuine.<BR><BR><i> "Good eve, Harold!"<BR><BR>"Hie, Harold, what's that mistress of yours got you up to now?"<BR><BR>"Is your tongue as twisted as your spine, Harold?"<BR><BR>"Harold!!!"</i><BR><BR>Hoss ignored them too. He nodded at the genuine ones, and kept his gaze bent on the ground for the others. His mistress would keep him safe from their malice, and she knew things to make it worth their while to keep away from him. Hoss had discovered that years ago. His mistress had uncovered him after days of going to ground, finding him battered and bloody. She had coaxed what had happened in the Guard Room earlier from him, and such rage, icy and violent had spun in her eyes that Hoss was scared. Yet her hands had been gentle, and she did not speak a word of reprimand or anger as she washed blood and dirt away and bound him. Hoss had not learnt of what had happened as a result until much later, when he was on his feet again. His mistress did not speak of it, ever. But some of the guards still whispered of it when the nights were dull and their tankards too full. Such wrath had fallen upon that Guard Room from the throne, the King himself, and now they only jeered Hoss.<BR><BR>Hoss entered through the servant's access, winding his way into the more luxuriously appointed sections of the palace with building haste. He was breathing hard by the time he tapped lightly on his mistress' door, his legs and back aching, head pounding as his lungs laboured. The finely carved door blurred before his vision in the twilight dusk, the swans swimming in unsteady ethereal circles before the door was opened. The last rays of the day caught in her hair, and it was as though she wore firey sunlight itself. Hoss' voice caught in his throat. Her eyes flicked to the empty hall behind him, and a cool hand was placed on his forearm, bringing him through the door and closing it lightly behind him once more. Her skirts sang a gentle song as she walked past him once more, towards a low table where a silver pitcher and a goblet waited. She poured water into it, and Hoss stared at his forearm as though he expected to see her hand still there, such was his shock.<BR><BR><i>Drink, Harold.</i><BR><BR>Deep brown eyes blinked at her, his head swinging up. Was she displeased? He was late. He could not tell. Her face, as it usually was, was serene and betrayed no secret. For a long time, Hoss had thought the rumours concerning his mistress had been true, that she was indeed made of ice. But Hoss learnt quickly. He knew that it was not so. His mistress felt, she felt more than any other. She could even know how another felt. Which was why she was so calm, for to give in to that would be her undoing. It was on rare occassions that her true heart slipped free of that hold. Sometimes, she even laughed, and when she meant it Hoss thought it was the most wondrous thing he had heard. He accepted the goblet, a fair thing in his twisted hands, and slaked his thirst. Competing between stopping from spilling the water and the demands of the fire that burnt in his lungs, Hoss soon drained it and looked almost bashfully at his mistress.<BR><BR>Naiore collected the goblet from his grasp, her own tension relieved by the reduction in Harold's discomfort and returned it to the table. She straightened, but Harold spoke before she could turn. His boldness prompted her to turn faster than she may have, her skirts flicking about with her to settle once more in flowing drapes around her.<BR><BR><i>"My Lady, your goblet!"</i><BR><BR>She waved a hand, dismissing the matter without further comment and surveyed Harold carefully.<BR><BR><i> Whom did you find, Harold?<BR><BR>"I found only one, my Lady. I am sorry. I could not find any others."<BR><BR>One only? Did you manage to uncover their name?<BR><BR>"Aye, that I did, my Lady. She is the representative of Mirkwood. Her name is..."</i><BR><BR>Naiore watched Harold's face assume the blank expression she knew meant that he was sorting through his mind for this detail. His face had brightened at her last question. She held her growing frustration in check.<BR><BR><i>"Her name is Alayna, my Lady. She is come from Mirkwood."<BR><BR>Indeed. Anything else?<BR><BR>"Nay my Lady."</i><BR><BR>Again, the crestfallen expression took up residence on Harold's face. He could not know how pleased she was. A representative from Mirkwood, with a distinctly non silvan name. She should be easy to identify and trace information upon. Added to that was the arrival of the Haradrim Princess. Already an invitation had been sent to her chambers. Mirkwood and Harad both converging on Minas Tirith just after the assassination of the king. Her network would be busy tonight. They had best bring results, for the inspection of the Astronomer's Tower had proved fruitless. Harold's gaze had fallen to the bowl of fruit nearby. He had not eaten all day, and his stomach growled abruptly, cutting short Naiore's musings. She turned away from the man, waving him towards the fruit and walking towards her balcony. The tenor of the city's mood had not changed. It sat, belligerant, violence held barely in check. It would not wait forever.<BR><BR><i>Harold, draw me my bath. You will remain here this night. It is not safe on the streets.</i><BR><BR>Hoss, with a half eaten apple wedged in his mouth nodded and mumbled his assent around it. His mistress wished to think, evidently. The marble bath filled with hot water, piped from a spring. He added the required cold water to cool it, sprinkling her preferred scent over the water's surface. Clouds of lavender scented steam filled the room. Through the steam, Naiore passed Hoss and discarding her light robe sank into and beneath the waters. Hoss watched her silently, holding her robe and turned to depart as she broached the surface and called to him.<BR><BR><i>Harold, watch the doors. If anyone tries to enter without leave, kill them.</i><BR><BR>Hoss once more mumbled his assent around his apple and returned to the main room. Seating his bulk by the fruit bowl, the apple disappeared and with it an entire hand of bananas as he pondered why his mistress would be unsafe, in the palace of all places. His wits were mercurial quick, but he did not understand. Another of her secrets. He set his watch on the door. He may not understand, but he did understand that he would crush anyone who came to do harm to his mistress. The sound of water moving formed the backdrop as night fell and the light of candles came to their full glory. Snatches of a song, elven he guessed, and melancholy came to him from behind the woven screen where Naiore lounged in her bath, thoughts racing as the water caressed her skin. When she emerged, the sun had faded and the moon once more was sailing through the sky.<BR><BR>She settled at her desk once more, wrapped in a pale green robe, just as the first tap came. A long, elegant finger rose from the desk, and Hoss admitted the first visitor. He would be the first of many that came and went, men and women, old and young. Each Naiore spoke with and each she dispatched on their way once more. The moon had reached his zenith when the last left. Hoss shut the door after them and a door closed behind him as Naiore entered her private chambers and sought what rest she could before the coming day. Hoss settled himself before the doors as she settled into a wide bed lit by splashes of luminous moonlight.
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Postby Nessamelda » Mon Oct 28, 2002 4:26 am

<b> The House of the Kings, several days after Albancil's death</b><BR><BR>In the House of the Kings under the dark shadow of Mount Mindolluin, Albancil had been laid with his ancestors. The dark room was lit only faintly by flickering torches, which rippled the shadows around the room in a rather disconcerting fashion.<BR><BR>Only one live figure stood in that room, only one tall guard stood in the position of honour, carrying out the final watch before the room would again be sealed until next needed to farewell a king.<BR><BR>The tall Lord in the mithril and sable of the White Tower stood at the foot of the stone table where lay the King. Barahir's uncovered head was bowed, his hands clasped on the hilt of the unsheathed broadsword that he leaned on in front of him. Despite his silence and outward calm, inside his thoughts were in turmoil.<BR><BR>This was a position of honour, and an unexpected one for such a minor member of the nobility - although with his father's untimely death he was now the Lord Alterion. And his wife was the Lady, and he feared that it was to her family's influence he owed this unexpected duty - now her pressure on him to support that idiot cousin of hers in his ludicrous ambitions would become intolerable. Yes, something would need to be done about Marianna and her family, if other cards were to fall correctly on the table. He thought of Corin's sister and smiled. Now there was a lady.....<BR><BR>Another train of disturbing thoughts ran through his head. Daruin! Now that was something he hadn't foreseen. He had not predicted Daruin's reaction to the events of two days ago (was it really only two days ago?). Up until now Daruin had followed Barahir in everything, and to be honest the older brother had been counting on the support of the younger. His sudden disappearance, probably into the depths of yet another drunken binge had been a shock. <i>The boy will probably turn up when he gets sober again</i>, sighed Barahir. But still, he hadn't counted on this unexpected friendship with the young Prince. That could prove very complicated - or useful, depending.....<BR><BR>Meanwhile there were yet other issues to deal with. Their father's funeral must be arranged, once he finished this ridiculous vigil.<BR>He skirted the last matter, the one that he was trying so hard to avoid. He thought of Daruin's look as he cradled their Father's body. And the words he had mouthed voicelessly up at him on the wall.<BR><BR>"<b>You Knew. You Knew and did nothing. You killed your own father</b>"<BR><BR>Barahir's head bowed further. <i>It was no plan of mine</i> he told himself <i>I was not responsible. It was not of my doing</i><BR><BR>But he had known.<BR><BR><BR>Then in the darkness of the far doorway, where one of the torches had flickered and gone out, a silhouette of a figure appeared, tall and slender, heavily cloaked, breaking this sacred rite.<BR><BR>Barahir stepped forward, the habit of duty too hard to break, despite his lack of faith in the ritual or the man he performed it for:<BR><BR>"Who is it that comes to this holy place and disturbs the rest of the Kings? Reveal yourself!"<BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Mon Oct 28, 2002 3:23 pm

<BR><BR>The slanting rays of the afternoon sun silhouetted the White City from behind as the small group of horseman was permitted to pass through the first gate. Unlike their Rohirric neighbors, the citizens of Gondor were not keen horsemen. Within the city, horses were rare, and the massive warhorses were a striking sight even without the tall, twin Elven-lords who rode with the men at arms. The gatekeeper and his men eyed them with frowns as they passed. <BR><BR>The winding road lead upwards through the city, and the squalor visible outside the walls lessened with each ring of the city. The inhabitants in every neighborhood stopped what they were doing to watch the small party go by. Some of the fountains at the lower levels were not working and seemed to be choked with creeping weeds and vines. After the third gate, however, things were much more pleasant, and by the time they reached the Citadel and clattered into the Court of the Fountain, things were remarkably unchanged. The White Tree, an ancient and massive symbol of Númenor, had not yet begun to lose leaves, and the liveried attendants who took the horses were impassive, as always. Some renovations had been made to the Tower of Ecthelion, and the site of the royal court was as striking as ever.<BR><BR>Leaving their escort, Elladan and Elrohir entered the tower with Captain Libor, who had been sent by Sirnus as his representative. The ranking noble in the city at that time, six days after the assassination, they discovered was Lord Taronel. The man was a petty noble who had been in the right place in the right time and had moved decisively to take control and set order to the chaos that had ensued after the deaths of the King and all his ministers. There was no need to speak their thoughts aloud: Taronel was not a leader who would hold power and his position would be temporary and probably short-lived. As expected, (and hoped) he was too busy and would meet them the next day. Thus, when the Gondorian captain went off to seek out some of his cronies, the sons of Elrond went up from the Hall into the tower to pay a visit to the widowed Queen Serena.<BR><BR>The door to the Queen’s chambers was bolted from the inside and after knocking, they were asked to identify themselves before being permitted into the ante-chamber. A petite, elegantly clad lady-in-waiting who let them in stood and stared for a moment at them before closing the door behind them. <BR><BR>“Is it necessary for the Queen to keep her door locked?” asked Elrohir with a frown as he gazed intently at her.<BR><BR>“It is as my lady wishes,” replied the woman sharply. “Who am I to judge the necessity?”<BR><BR>“Is she able to receive us?” Elladan pressed, wondering if her mourning resulted more from the dictates of tradition than from deep grief. Arranged marriages had become common among the nobility of the <i>Atani</i>, and although such things did not happen among the elves, understanding of and acceptance of the phenomenon had developed over the centuries. <BR><BR>“She is” the woman answered as curtly as before. “Follow me.” <BR><BR>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Tue Oct 29, 2002 6:44 am

Alayna awoke to the early morning sunlight streaming in through the gauzy curtains, bathing the room in gold. Rubbing the sleep out of her deep blue eyes, she made her way to the wash stand, where a chipped basin and a pitcher filled with clear, cool water awaited her. Splashing her face and drying it, she noticed a note slipped under her door. Curious, she reached for it and picked it up, her eyes trying to discern the writing that lay in front of her. She could read Elvish easily, but Common was slightly more difficult, and in this case, the Barkeep’s messy scrawls were enough to make her fume. As she made out the words, her eyes widened slightly. So she was a representative from Mirkwood? In a strange way, however, it was true. In addition to that, she was required to attend a meeting at the Royal Palace, with the Ambassador of Belfalas. Accompanying the note was a lock of woven hair, that had a hint of lavender fragrance to it. Since her company was so politely requested by a Lady of such stature, with the Royal Palace as the venue, it would be her greatest pleasure to accept it.<BR><BR>Somewhere, in the back alleys of Minas Tirith, someone else was getting ready. This one was an assassin, a professional, possibly one of the best in the entire realms of his dark craft. He was good indeed, and now he was hired by a man, to kill the last of the House Iarcal. His target was supposedly a young woman who went by the name Alayna. He had given much for his skill, and he was considered a man without peer. He fastened his dagger and sabers to his sides, sweeping a black cloak over his form. He would pay her a visit soon enough. He even knew where she stayed, from his connections in the guards, and had learned from the innkeeper that she had an appointment with the Ambassador of Belfalas. He would set an ambush for her in a dark alley she would have to pass in order to reach the main road.<BR><BR>Alayna had finished, and did rather resemble a representative from Mirkwood. She had attempted to do up her hair in the fashion common among the Elves, and her gown was of the same earthy shades the Silvan elves who resided in Mirkwood wore, with a narrow skirt that did allow her freedom of movement, despite its appearance. Before throwing a simple overobe of a woodland brown over her, she strapped her two rapiers to her sides, where they would be within easy reach, but out of view. As she descended the staircase, she heard the barkeep telling a story of what had happened the night before.<BR>"...and then the Ambassador’s pet came, handing me a message and a lock of hair for the Representative of Mirkwood who dwells here with us!"<BR>Alayna shook her head and left, smiling to herself as she made her way out of the inn. Let him have his fun, she thought, as she started on her journey to the Royal palace.<BR><BR>The assassin lay in wait, silent, waiting for her to pass...<BR><BR>Alayna entered the alley where the assassin was waiting in, and as she entered, she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, a shadow drop down from a ledge above. Her muscles tensed; one hand immediately went to her rapier.<BR>"Who are you?"<BR>"A man sent to kill you."<BR>In a blur, they came together, the man’s saber and dagger matching the speed of Alayna’s whirring rapiers. One appeared the reflection of the other, ad the only thing that kept them both aware of the reality was the constant clang of steel against steel, saber against rapier. They moved in and out of shadows, both trying to seek some advantage in this fight of equals. After a while, Alayna came in again, the rapiers cutting from impossible angles, but deliberately leaving an opening for his blade to find her heart. She watched his dagger cautiously, knowing one wrong move would mean death for her, and victory for him. As he came in, her rapier caught his arm in a reverse swipe, causing his to bellow in pain at the blood gushing out of his wound. Then, knowing he could not continue the fight in his common state, the assassin disappeared into the city’s slums.<BR><BR>Alayna breathed hard, and her breath came in short, ragged gasps. It was nothing much to her, and hardly any sweat had formed on her during their brief exchange. She walked into the busy streets and towards the royal palace, having to stop and ask five different people for directions there. When she reached the palace, she could only gasp at the architectural wonder that lay before her eyes, for it was a thing of true beauty, and it stood out among the city’s buildings like a flower in a snowfield. As she approached the guards, they stopped her. She raised a hand, and told them of her business there. They let her pass without a word at the sight of the woven hair, and directed her towards the Lady’s chambers. When she arrived, she knocked on the door before entering, then dropped a curtsy then straightening again.<BR>"May I ask what is it that your Ladyship might require of me?"
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Oct 30, 2002 1:55 pm

<BR><BR>The brethren shared a look before following the servant through one of the adjoining doors into an opulent lady’s drawing room. The Queen Serena stood waiting for them by a window. She was a tall, handsome woman in her prime, dark haired and eyed, but now very pale and ill-looking with the dark smudges of sleeplessness under her eyes. Her pallor was emphasized by the black brocade over-gown, and she was twistinga lace handkerchief in her hands.<BR><BR>“Good afternoon, lady.” With elegant, courtly bows, they greeted her, and Elladan did the speaking. “We would like to offer our deepest condolences at this difficult time.”<BR><BR>For a moment, she stared at them with rounded eyes, but she recovered quickly. “Thank you,” said she in an even, well-modulated voice. “How good of you to come. I trust you are well? And Lord Elrohir, your lady-wife and children?” She looked from one to the other of the identical twins and back again.<BR><BR>“All are well,” answered Elrohir, and the lady seemed slightly relieved at knowing at who to look. “They have all gone to visit her family and know nothing of your tragedy as of yet.”<BR><BR>At his words, Serena’s eyes fell and she fidgeted with her handkerchief. “I am glad to hear it. Your children – they are all adults now, I think?”<BR><BR>“Yes, it is quite a while since our youngest turned fifty,” he said with a kind smile, not certain whether or not the lady knew that elves and half-elves matured much more slowly than mortal men.<BR><BR>Again, there was an uneasy drop of her eyes and a nervous twisting of the scrap of lace. “Pray, gentlemen, be seated and take a glass of wine with me.” She nodded to the servant who went to the sideboard to pour them each a glass from a long-necked crystal decanter. <BR><BR>“It has been many years since we have both been in Minas Tirith,” remarked Elladan as he held a chair for the lady. He sat to her right and his brother sat to her left with a low table between them.<BR><BR>“My last visit was for the coronation,” said Elrohir.<BR><BR>“And mine was only four years ago,” added Elladan.<BR><BR>The lady-in-waiting brought them the glasses, and the Queen was forced to leave her handkerchief in her lap to accept her glass. “Thank you, Mara. That will be all.”<BR><BR>With a sharp glance of disapproval at the Elf-lords, the women departed and closed the door behind her. Once she was gone, both men turned to Serena, Elladan doing all the talking. “My dear lady, is there any way we can ease you?”<BR><BR>“No,” she said quickly. “Nothing. Unless…” She looked at him with pain keenly felt reflected in her expression. “It is not yet widely known, but my son is missing.”<BR><BR>Elrohir’s eyes narrowed in a slight frown and he stared hard at her. Elladan blinked, shocked and then his mind raced. “No King, no Prince left alive in the city, no Regent or Steward…”<BR><BR>“Who would do such a thing?” she whispered, dabbing at the corner of her eyes and then taking a large sip of the deep red wine. “Why did they not kill him as well?” <BR><BR>The twins shared a look and Elrohir raised his eyebrows then nodded at the lady. After clearing his throat, Elladan turned towards the lady. “I am not quite well-versed in the current political machinations in the kingdom, but I am of the opinion that your husband had many enemies. Still, it does not explain the disappearance of the prince.” <BR><BR>“Is such a young boy really a threat?” she asked bitterly. “Yes, yes, I know he is, or will be – would be – would have been.” A little laugh and a shake of her head as she dabbed again at running tears. “He is not dead, so at least there is some hope. Not much, but some. What could they be doing with my boy? Why did they not just slaughter him along with the rest? Do they wish to ransom him? Set him up as a puppet? What?”<BR><BR>“It is difficult to say,” Elladan said gently. “Maybe none of those things.”<BR><BR>She nodded slowly. “When I first came to Minas Tirith to be wed, I was overwhelmed. To be Queen! How romantic it all seemed. And now?” A deep sigh escaped her. “No woman should have to give birth to a child who will be King. Never will she have a moment’s peace in her life.”<BR><BR>“Why do you keep your door locked?” prompted Elladan. “Do you imagine yourself in danger? They must know you have no political ambitions.”<BR><BR>“I know not,” she said, then swallowed some more wine. “But to men who would kill so many, what is one more?”<BR><BR>Again, the brothers shared a look and some communication seemed to pass between them. Before either could speak aloud, however, the lady went on.<BR><BR>“If it were you, Lord Elrohir, and it were your son who was missing, what would you do? If your lady-wife were in my position, having lost her child, what would you have your brother or other men do for her?”<BR><BR>Imagining such a situation, one corner of Elrohir’s mouth turned up in a grin. The Queen frowned at him. “Forgive me, lady. My wife is rather ferociously protective of her children.” <BR><BR>“Can you help me?” she pressed. “Is there any way to find my son?”<BR><BR>“Perhaps we are not the best aid to enlist to make inquiries,” said Elladan. “For men are suspicious of elves and it is not possible to hide our heritage.”<BR><BR>“I know not whom else to trust,” she admitted. “Even with my own life.” There was a pause as she took another sip of wine. “By custom, I must now return to my father’s house either to find another husband or to live out my days as a widow. Is there nowhere else I can go?”<BR><BR>“Rivendell is very far from here,” Elrohir said, causing his brother’s eyes to swing to look at him in shock. “More than a month’s ride, and not all the roads are easy.”<BR><BR>Very pale now, her lips almost colorless, Serena stared at him, and her eyes were huge and dark in her pale face. “Where else will I be safe?” she whispered.<BR><BR>Elrohir got up and went to her, and she rose at his approach so that Elladan was forced to get up as well. Gently taking the wine glass from her, he set it aside and kissed her hand. “Lady, your fretting will solve nothing. You must take supper and some rest. I imagine your servant you can trust.”<BR><BR>“Mara has been with me since I was a child.”<BR><BR>“Good. Do as I have asked, and perhaps we can learn something useful. If you mean to travel soon, you will need your strength.”<BR><BR>The lady bit her lip as she nodded and a tremulous smile appeared.<BR><BR>“There is no need to speak,” he assured her. “We must take our leave now. Farewell, lady.”<BR><BR>“Farewell,” said Elladan, bowing.<BR><BR>They left the Queen standing, looking still pale but a little more hopeful. The same woman let them out and bolted the door as soon as they were gone.<BR><BR>“Is she really so frightened for herself?” Elladan asked as they walked towards the broad staircase. Even though they were speaking in Elvish, he kept his voice down. “And why go all the way to Imladris? What did you see?”<BR><BR>“There was a little fear for herself, but she was mostly grieved for her son. The loss of her husband was less potent, for she did not love him, but she was accustomed to him and her life, so she is anxious about the future.”<BR><BR>“I do not understand why she would go so far away when she is keen on finding her son.” <BR><BR>Stopping and turning to look at his twin, Elrohir reached out with his mind and told his brother, <i>There is something more, something she is hiding. She has told no one, and there are now two who know. She and I.</i> <BR><BR><i>What?</i><BR><BR><i>She is with child.</i><BR><BR>
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Postby ~Lady_of_Ithilien~ » Wed Oct 30, 2002 6:48 pm

<b>The Night of the assasination. </b><BR><BR>Amalthea had wandered the cobbled streets for some time after finding the King lying dead among his advisors, her mind was a tangled weave of thoughts and emotions. Amalthea had seen death before, it was not new, even to her young eyes, the true shock had come from seeing so many vital strong men shot down in such a heartless manner. Lifting her chin slightly Amalthea had given herself a mental shake as if riding the thoughts and pictures from her memory. Passing several older homes each looking well cared for and homely, behind some of the windows small children could be seen sitting beside thier mothers or playing upon the floor with scraps of cloth or homemade toys. Protected from the reality that awaited them. Amalthea was hardly aware of the presance of her hand-maiden and the two guards that had joined her from Ithilien. They followed behind her respectably keeping thier silence, which was a relief to the Lady, for she did not wish to speak to any. In all truth she knew not why the King's death had struck her so hard, the people of this land had never cared much for Ithilien, and they hadn't cared for countless years. This much was made clear when they failed to assist Ithilien in her darkest hour, and Amalthea would not, no, <b>could</b> not forget the feeling of abandonment. As she made her way to one of the inns, not the most respectable dwelling for a Lady of importance, but she had no place eles to turn to, she found herself nearly being tossed to the ground by a grubby young woman who looked around with wild eyes darting to and fro before setting sight upon the Lady, her eyes remained on Amalthea's golden hair a few moments longer then Amalthea was comfortable with.</i><BR>"Your one of them noble woman aren't ya?"<i> the woman asked eyeing the noble woman. A quirky smile playing on her lips, before she could respond the older woman's gaze had fallen on Amalthea's escourt, her eyes narrowed at the weaponary the guards carried and then even more so at their uniform, dressed in the colors of the Ithilien guard of old. Suddenly she burst into a laugh ending in a hacking cough causing Amalthea to bristle at the lack of respect and she spoke tensly</i> "And, pray, what is so funny?"<BR><i> the old woman rose a weatherworn dirty hand to Amalthea's fair face and followed the trace of the scar down her cheek causing the maiden to shudder.</i><BR>"Tis not much young child, do not fret."<BR><i> The woman made to leave but turned before getting far and spoke one last time to Amalthea.</i> <BR>"I cannot recall the last time we had a visitor from the shadowed lands of Ithilien, let alone one with such stunning golden hair."<BR><i> That was the last she saw of her, and together the esscourt made their way to the inn to seatle for the night.</i><BR><BR><BR><b>Several Days Later out in the High Circles of Gondor</b><BR><BR>Dressed in a fine full dress of a deep gold hue accented with fine stiching done in various shades of blues, purples and reds Amalthea walked slowly through the street high in Gondor ignoring the halfhearted stares sent her way by some of the men and women as they passed on their way to and fro. Amalthea's hair was down, it curled as it reached down her back stopping just abover her waist were a belt of deep sapphire blue and silver leaves adorned her waist. The long flowing sleeves came to a point slightly above the wrist and upon her head she wore a mithril chain contaning a blue gem of deep depth, which lie on her brow and brought out a blueish tint to her green eyes. The maiden had been debating with herself on whether she should pay her last respects to the King, he had never given her reason to hold a grudge and had been in fact fond of him in a way. She knew that ritual was most likely being upheld even at this moment and to just enter inside the House of the Kings without notice would be wrong no matter who she was. But if she was covered enough prehaps she could enter and exit without trouble, she decided it was worth the risk. Over her golden dress she had opted to wear a rather heavy cloak for mornings were always cool, no matter what the month or season and she had not returned to her rooms at the inn to return it. So she easily pulled up the hood of her cloak and made her way to the opening of the House of the Kings. She noted a man standing looking down at the fallen king and she saw that indeed she had arrived during an inopporune time. She made to retrace her steps back out but the billowing heavy cloak had made her clumsy and she ended up knocking out a torch lighting the Hall, she quietly cursed her movements. Then a commanding voice came to her ears.</i><BR>"Who is it that comes to this holy place and disturbs the rest of the Kings? Reveal yourself!"<BR><i> Amalthea slowly lowered the hood of her dark blue cape revealing her face and she stated loud enough for him to hear...[/i "I am Amalthea, Lady of Ithilien, I mean no harm, I only wanted to pay respects to my King." <BR><i> Bowing her head low enough to show respect but not low enough to show humility she quietly turned and made her way to the door.
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Postby Naiore » Tue Nov 05, 2002 3:28 am

At a nod from Naiore, Hoss opened the door to admit Alayna. His head was bowed as she entered past him, and he slipped sliently out the door after her, closing it gently behind him. Naiore stood before the carved glass panels of the door to the wide balcony of her chambers. The morning light fell brightly over the delicate rose silk of her gown. It caught on the intricate, elegant stitching. Golden vines swirled over the bodice and trailed down the flowing sleeves. Her hair, as ever, was loose. Only a seemingly fragile gold chain of elven crafting caught back soft tendrils of impossible gold from the elven face that regarded Alayna. Naiore smiled, lips curving into a welcoming grace as the young woman curtsied. She was interestingly clad. Certainly she bore the garments of Mirkwood. But unless things had very much changed in that northern realm since Naiore was last there long mortal years ago, women did not normally go about with a rapier swinging on each hip.<BR><BR>As Alayna rose, her emotions a curious blend of many flavours, Naiore carefully sifted to confirm the young woman's race. Definately mortal, for the nature of her emotions, how they ebbed and flowed were inherently different to that of her own elven kindred. Alayna found Naiore's gaze serenely yet most definately upon her and for the moment the Ambassador was silent. Then, she lifted a hand and gracefully waved Alayna towards a nest of chairs gathered around a table already laden with refreshments. That movement broke the still quietness of the morning.<BR><BR><i>Welcome, Alayna of the forest realm of Thranduril. I had received word of your arrival. Please, will you not sit a moment with me?</i><BR><BR>She had not answered Alayna's question, and the woman knew it, yet she consented and both settled into a chair. Naiore reached for the ewer to pour into two silver goblets a sweet liquid. Offering one to Alayna, Naiore continued on.<BR><BR><i>The palace kitchens have become competent in the blending of forest fruits into a refreshing cordial. If I am not mistaken, you seem already to have had a demanding day, Lady Alayna. Please, be at your ease here.</i><BR><BR>Behind the courtesy, Naiore's mind was spinning with possible alternatives to her intended tactics for the woman who sat beside her. Obviously, she was unsettled, more so than mortals were normally given to. Something had disturbed the woman. She would have to be patient, subtle... she would have to confirm her reports received last night in a different manner. But confirmed they would have to be.<BR><BR><i>You come to this fair city at a difficult time, Lady Alayna. The streets, I have heard are unsafe. The people are frightened, and mortals ever fear that which is unknown. I fear our kindred falls into that unfortunate group, so few of us remain.<BR><BR>I had asked you here so that you may know that you are not alone in this city. It is my hope that my aid will not be needed, and that the strife of this place does not sully your days. But should it be as I fear it may be, then as Ambassador of Belfalas it is my duty to offer you succour and assistance, hailing from Mirkwood. We are too few of us to let the ancient differences of Silvan and Noldor come between us.<BR><BR>Tell me, Lady Alayna, how have you found your journey to this place? It is some time since last I ventured northward.<BR><BR>"Kind of you to take such concern, Ambassador Dannan. The journey was long, yet uneventful... I was pleased to at last make the bright walls of the White City out on the horizon."</i><BR><BR>It was an innocuous enough question. Naiore knew that she had arrived alone. It was most unusual, to say the least. And once Alayna had danced her way around that one, Naiore followed it up with another innocuous question. It was met with the same dissembling as she had noted with Alayna's earlier response. The girl was hiding something.<BR><BR><i>A glorious sight, fair indeed in this latter age of Men. And since arrival, how have you found the city?<BR><BR>"I can feel the uncertainty, but it has been safe."</i><BR><BR>Alayna's emotions told Naiore of secrets. Naiore's reports told of assassins. Not the best in the business, for most of them were employed by the court. But certainly the one rumoured to be contracted for Alayna's life was more than competent. The rapiers that she had adjusted so that she could sit told Naiore that the woman expected trouble. Her unsettled wariness that had prickled her empathy told of an imminent sense of danger. In light of that caution, pressing the woman would only build suspicion, a rigid barrier that would have to be later overcome if the other reports were correct.<BR><BR><i>You ease my heart to make such a report, Lady Alayna. You would do well to maintain your wise course of care. Even in this city can that which would wish you harm creep. Doubtless, such concerns little daunt you. Afterall, you have journeyed alone over such great distances.<BR><BR>I have delayed you this bright morning long enough. Perhaps, if you are disposed, we can speak further. I would know much of the doings in Mirkwood, and of your family. Not since the Third Age have I ventured there.</i><BR><BR>Alayna was nodding, seemingly relieved that the interview was over, murmuring polite and safe agreeance. She twitched at Naiore's mention of her family, and it was duly noted. Once again, the prickle of wariness was raised. Naiore rose smoothly, and curtsied.<BR><BR><i>Until then, Lady Alayna, may your time in this city be all that you wish for it to be. My thanks, and fare thee well.</i><BR><BR>Alayna dropped another curtsy and made for the door as quickly as she could without appearing in unseemly haste. Naiore eased the doors to the main antechamber shut gently and smiled at the polished wood grain, the texture rich and warm. Yes, Alayna was more than some waif. Mortals were not just taken in at whim. Perhaps the suggestions on her parentage were correct. Perhaps... in which case how was she placed as a claimant for the throne... and just what sort of threat or ally could she be. It was just one of the interesting riddles that Naiore found her days and nights filled with in the wake of the assassination. Rumour on the palace grounds was rife. Everyone from the dead King's Kennel Master to the newly arrived representative from Harad was a pretender to the throne. She would look into the latter later this day, if she was minded to agree to Naiore's request for an interview.<BR><BR>In the chaos, Naiore was enjoying the ease with which she could approach those which in a more ordered and less distracted court would require days, weeks or possibly months of intrigue and subterfuge. The Queen was still closeted in mourning. Noblemen and women locked in their own political machinations. It was like walking through gallery. Naiore was able to pick and choose with great freedom, relatively speaking, now that noone was watching from the throne or the throne room. Naiore sat herself at her desk, and drafted out some obscure notes in a system she had developed that was based on aspects of Tengwar and Aduanic alphabets. Hoss, meanwhile, had made use of his free day.<BR><BR>It was a gift, a rare and precious thing given by his mistress for she was pleased with him. He lounged at the end of the long trestle in the palace kitchens, a regular feature there, for Hoss loved his food almost as much as his mistress. Right now, he thought, he just may love his apple pie more than Naiore. It was a playful thought and his crumpled face formed his version of a saucy grin as he contemplated the pie he had half devoured. Two guards ambled in with the usual list of requests from the Officers. Less cabbage, more meat and wine... Hoss ignored the predictable negotiation that ensued between the guards and the Keeper of the Larder. As the exasperated man rushed off to check the larder, the guards leaned against the table and resumed their conversation about two Elves that had ridden in, to see the Queen. Hoss' appetite disappeared. <BR><BR>Sometimes, those that hadn't seen elves mistook those that weren't for the rare race. But the more the two men chattered about the recent arrivals, Hoss was able to confirm. By the time the men had gotten around to noticing Hoss, he was rushing as fast as he could back to Naiore. Their normal jeers were interrupted as Hoss collided with a kitchen boy laden with trenchers. Amidst the cursing he disappeared. He burst into Naiore's antechamber without knocking. Annoyance guilded her face as she looked up from the parchment and it stalled as she took in Hoss' features.<BR><BR><i>What is it, Harold?<BR><BR>"Elves, M'lady. Here. With the Queen."</i><BR><BR>Naiore laid the quill down, emerald gaze glittering.<BR><BR><i>When?<BR><BR>"Last night."</i><BR><BR>Hoss watched her sigh and gather her papers.<BR><BR><i>Thankyou, Harold.</i><BR><BR>Hoss nodded, and took his place by her door. His mistress would be doing something. She always did when other Elves were about. Hoss waited for instructions patiently, a half eaten apple pie forgotten. Would she pack and say that they would leave? As time stretched, it became apparent that she would not.<BR><BR><i>Harold, you are to remain here. I am going to review the petitioners that have gathered this day.</i><BR><BR>With that, Naiore swept from the room in a cloud of rose and gold and traced a familiar path down the halls towards where those who would speak with the Throne amassed. As she walked, a serene and graceful pace, she noted the faces that passed and the expressions on them. Familiar and otherwise, she worked at sifting the various puzzle pieces with a mind honed for such things as a matter of survival through the Ages, in many courts and spheres of power. The Elves had already seen the Queen, and had been within Minas Tirith for a whole night. But she could not find another place to be now. Things were too precarious to abandon. And on the basis of what? Their presence? Her reluctance to mingle with her own kindred? The influence that they may exert? Naiore lightly shook her head, hair swaying at her waist. No. She had nothing to fear and had worked for too long in this court to defer to her own caution. Naiore's senses were alert and honed, and within herself she detected a far less logical motivation. Perhaps she had shunned for too long contact with her own kindred.
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Postby Aurandir » Tue Nov 05, 2002 1:28 pm

‘Should we let him out now?’ <BR>‘We might as well. We are out of the city, and no one looks at two youths talking in the back of a wagon, traveling with two older men.’ The men spoke in low voices, glancing at the chest as they talked. ‘Amandur, open the chest.’<BR><BR>The youth who had been lounging in the back of the wagon sat up. He had dark eyes and dark hair, with a somber countenance that tended to make him look perennially serious. That impression was instantly broken when he smiled though. Casually he flipped up the latches, and opened the prison of Anathor. ‘Hello there. Hold on a moment while I remove the gag.’<BR><BR>The light blinded Anathor for a moment when the door was flipped up. While his eyes were squeezed shut, a voice spoke to him, telling him to stay quiet and wait for a moment. When he ventured to open an eyelid, a youth around his age was sitting by the side of a chest, looking down upon him. His gaze reminded Anathor unpleasantly of the way a hawk looked upon his prey.<BR><BR>‘I would like to let you loose, my Prince, but I won’t unless you give your parole; your solemn word of honor that you will not try to escape by any and all means possible. You must also promise that you shall obey both letter and spirit of this stricture. Now, will you grant my request, and swear by your honor as a descendent of Aragorn II Elessar?’<BR><BR>His first immediate impulse was to say no, to spit in his face, to strike him. Then his situation struck him with full force: All were impossible actions, in his current state. He was helpless, utterly in this youth’s power, and if he did refuse, what then? Exercise every half hour, un-gagged for meals only, and sitting in this wagon back for hours on end, bound hand and foot. It would all be a useless effort that would gain him nothing.<BR><BR>‘ Very well. I submit to you, and my honor is in your hands.’<BR>‘Your hands Anathor. Your honor is in your hands alone.’ Thus saying, he began to unbind Anathor. After he was done, he handed him a misshapen bundle of clothes, telling him to change, and then he lay down again, watching his charge with a lazy demeanor, though Anathor doubted his observation would hold true beneath the surface of that gaze. After Anathor had changed into his new garments, he sat chafing his wrists and ankles for a few minutes, then ventured to speak.<BR><BR>‘What is your name?’ The lad looked musingly at Anathor before replying.<BR>‘Amandur, I am called.’ He gave Anathor a searching glance, as if trying to decide something, before continuing on. ‘I was sent to be your escort, but I would rather be your friend. Will you take this offer of friendship? Or must we be unfriends, or even enemies?’<BR>Anathor hesitated a moment. Amandur’s simplicity appealed to him, and he had long known how to spot a lie. One did not grow up in the royal court without having that skill. Or most did not grow up without having it; there was one who lacked it. There was no sign of falsehood in his face, but if Amandur was lying, he could vie with Morgoth for the title of being the most accomplished deceiver ever. ‘Friends we are.’ He held out his hand, and Amandur, grinning, shook it with goodwill. <BR><BR>After this benevolent overture, after the constraints of situation had been loosened, though not destroyed, the pair talked of light-hearted matters, though the ghost of the sense of one being in the power of the other remained. Amandur finally took a nap, and then Anathor sat by himself, thinking about the events that had occurred before he had been taken. He had argued greatly with his father, and had his mother not separated them, they might have come to blows. He shook his head; they would of a surety have come to blows.<BR><BR>He remembered the occasion quite clearly. His father had been taking “counsel” with one of the many supercilious fools who considered themselves counselors when Anathor had walked in. Beaming satisfaction, the King had introduced him to the man, a Lord Taronel by name. When the idiot had left, Albancil had been extolling the man’s virtues. <BR>“He is a minor noble right now, but when I come back, I will raise his status.”<BR>Anathor had made some snide remark then, to the effect of, “I learned in the colleges that fools attract fools, but until today, it was unproven.”<BR><BR>From there the tone and content had gone steadily up, Anathor growing colder and colder, his father getting redder in the face and more wroth each minute.<BR><BR>“How dare you insult me like this! You base child! You are no better than that ice picker who calls himself Lord of the House of Beradan! A more arrogant pig than he was not seen before you came along!”<BR><BR>He had picked up an inkwell, and Anathor had laughed at the sight of him, his royal robes contrasting with a red-faced fool, holding an inkwell threateningly. At that point his father had thrown the well, splashing blue ink all over Anathor’s front. Anathor had been looking at his shirt, contemplating seven different ways to kill his father, when his mother rushed in, trying to hurry Anathor away and calm him down. Meanwhile, Lord Leculne, another one of his father’s most trusted “advisors”, scurried in, seeking to lead the King away. It had not been a pleasant affair, and time had not lessened the animosity. <BR><BR>And now forward to the present matter. What to do about this vile oath?
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Postby Arwen32315 » Tue Nov 05, 2002 6:48 pm

Faran watched the commotion around him. For a small town just outside the White City it had a pretty good vintage of intoxicating drinks and that was all he wanted, at the moment. The doubts about his actions that had been plagueing him for the past few hours now convered upon his mind all at once. Questions like, <i>"What made me do it?"</i> or <i>"Was the King really so bad?"</i> <BR><BR>Shrugging his shoulders and taking another drink from the flagon one of the barmaids had just refilled, Faran tried to reason that it was his background as a Ranger that made him so sensitive. The Ranger Credo had been drilled into his head and one part just kept repeating itself. <i>"I will endeavor to uphold the honor of the Ranngers"</i><BR><BR>He shuddered as he thought about the death cries from the men and women he had just help assassinate. <i>"But, it wasn't just an assasination."</i> his tired mind told him. <i>"It was murder."</i> <BR><BR>Murder. He had sought out and killed many murderers in his 30 human years. There was also the fact that if he now decided to return to Mirkwood, after all these years, King Thranduil would know something was troubling him. <i>"That can't happen. I would be exiled. There has to be some other way."</i> He thought to himself.<BR><BR>He stood up to leave and reached in his pocket. Throwing down the bills (and a tip) for his drinks, an idea struck him. If he could find the man who had headed all this up, he could give him the money he had been paid. <i>"And probably be killed in the process. One like you knows too much to simply let go out into the wide world of eyes and ears again."</i> but he pushed that thought away.<BR><BR>Faran wasn't really supposed to be involved anyway. He was a replacement for a man who caught a strange disease on his way to the White City and his last request had been for Faran to take his place. It had taken a lot of convincing on the man's part, but it was his last wish so Faran agreed. <BR><BR>Walking quickly he exited the inn and mounted his blood bay stallion, Isfahel, and rode off toward Isengard.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Nov 06, 2002 8:15 pm

<BR><BR>Within the sixth circle of the city, in a comfortable manse on a court off the main thoroughfare, the candles had burned low in their holders and three men reclined on low, cushioned couches about the hearth as hounds snored at their feet. The crackling fire provided light against the depths of the night, and heavy cups of ale helped to chase the chill away.<BR><BR>The Sons of Elrond had dined with Belion, one of the few powerful nobles left alive in Gondor. Great-grandson of Cemendur, Eighth King of the Reunited Kingdom, grandson of his second son, Prince Minastir, Belion was a soldier and huntsman who was well-known for his dim view of the monarchy. Drinking now with his Elven instructors from his days as a ranger, Belion laughed at the danger and his own fate.<BR><BR>“Odd luck,” he told them with a sigh. “That my life was spared for views that have made me contemptible among my peers.”<BR><BR>“If it is worth dying for ones beliefs, is it not also worth being left alive for them?” remarked Elladan, grinning, and Belion snorted.<BR><BR>With a little chuckle at his brother, Elrohir shook his head. “What will you do?” he then asked Belion. “Support Taronel? You know he won’t last a fortnight. The predators smell blood, and you can bet that Halindor and Adrahil will be here within a week, and don’t think that Corin is not weighing his options.”<BR><BR>“Ah, what does it matter? Some dunce to make new laws, devise new taxes? It won’t affect me any differently than any other.”<BR><BR>“And what of Anathor? Think you that he is still alive?”<BR><BR>“I don’t know.” Belion got up and went to pour himself more ale from the earthenware jug on the floor in a cool corner far from the fire. Tall, he was, and broad with a mane of light brown curls and a trimmed beard of a slightly darker hue. He took a sip and stood musing as he swirled the contents in his cup. “Probably. Why would they go to the trouble of carrying him off if they were only going to kill him?<BR><BR>“Who would have done it?” Elrohir continued. “And why? For ransom? The abduction of the boy must be related to the assassinations.”<BR><BR>“It would be quite a coincidence were it not.” Belion began to pace, taking sips of his ale as he did so. “If this had been an assassination alone, I would have said that you would have an impossible task in discerning the guilty parties. Everyone would be a suspect. Adding the abduction of Anathor narrows the field considerably.”<BR><BR>“Can the boy be used politically?” asked Elladan. “He’s –what? Thirteen now?”<BR><BR>“Sixteen, if I am not mistaken,” answered Belion. “Still a bit of a brat, but clever and fearless. It is Serena’s doing that he has turned out so well, for he has little of Albancil’s spiritless incompetence.’<BR><BR>“The Queen is sick with worry for him,” said Elrohir slowly. “It is a curse of our history that parents must be parted from their children.” He turned his head to look at the Mortal. “She wants help to find him, and she fears for her own safety.”<BR><BR>Belion looked at the Elf-lord and soon dropped his eyes. “How fares your lady-wife?” he asked, then laughed softly. “Why do I ask? I know she is well.” The cup was quickly raised to his lips and drained. “Why in blazes would anyone want to harm the Queen?”<BR><BR>Elrohir smiled. Few Mortals had ever seen his lady, but Belion was one who had. “Political reasons, of course. She may not have been a voice before now, but were she to speak out now, she could sway many an undecided heart.”<BR><BR>Perplexed, annoyed, Belion mused for a few minutes, then went and fetched the jug to refill all their cups. “Women and children have no place in politics,” he said in a voice laced with disgust. “Kill me or you and I won’t care. Kill a woman for what she <i>might</i> do? Nay, that’s the cowards way. I’d slit any man or woman’s throat if it needed doing, but not before the fact.”<BR> <BR>“Then come to terms with your definition of what needs doing,” said Elrohir with dark seriousness. “For I feel the time is coming when swift action will be needed and reflection will come afterward.”<BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Sat Nov 09, 2002 2:48 am

Alayna was far more careful when she returned to the inn which she now called home. She would lie low for a while, but when the problem was past, she would reclaim what was rightfully hers. In the meantime, however, a good disguise was needed, for the clothes she was wearing now were far too obvious and made her stand out. The inn of the Red Dragon was a perfect place to start out, and at the same time, a place where she could attempt to create her own underground network. First though, she would have to win the respect of the bar patrons. Her mind was in overdrive now, and in no time, she came up with an idea.<BR><BR>Walking into a street corner, Alayna entered one of the shops. No doubt it had more shadowy business besides the selling of clothes, but it would have to do. Carefully selecting a shirt and trousers, politely declining the shop owner’s insistent offers that a traveling cloak would match better, and what did she mean that she didn't want a better shirt. After less than half an hour, Alayna, just outfitted to match the scum in the inn where she stayed at, left the clothes shop. Her purse felt slightly lighter, but it meant little to her. She exited the shop, appearing to the world like a girl who was slightly above gutter scum, carrying a strangely large bundle.<BR><BR>When she returned to the inn, she entered her room and dumped her clothes back into the saddlebags, then found some charred remainders of the wood she had burnt last night, and rubbed that under her nails, to further enhance her new appearance. She had long since let down her distinctively dark hair from its elaborate prison, and now, only a leather thong kept the strands away from her face. As she entered the inn's common room, many picked her out as the famed Mirkwood ambassador, but none were willing to point her out, especially since she seemed to be deliberately trying to blend in. <BR><BR>However, that day, the inn had a new patron. Not the assassin, of course, for he was getting a scolding from his employer, but a common rogue, who saw Alayna not as a Lady of some kind, but a girl from the streets. He made his way over to her, and made a suggestive motion. Her eyebrows raised, Alayna gave him a once over. He was drunk, and visibly unkempt. She moved away from him in disgust, but he continued his approach. As she reached a hand onto the table to pick up her drink, his hand reached out to grab her hand.<BR>He never got close.<BR>Faster than he could think to react, Alayna snapped her hand onto the rogue's reaching arm, slamming it down to the table and holding it fast. In the same fluid movement, her other hand, holding a common dagger came, and Alayna plunged it hard into the wood right between his fingers. The blood drained from the man's ruddy face, and he sent out a signal to his friends, beckoning them to come to his aid.<BR><BR>Alayna saw his move, and also noticed a man coming towards her. Guessing, Alayna spun suddenly, stepping inside the other's reach. Alayna whirled around, and bloodied her knuckles on the man's nose. She was not exactly keen to fight against practically the whole inn on such a mere incident, in which no one, save the man holding his bleeding nose, had been hurt. Smiling to everyone in the inn, she called out,<BR>"I shall buy everyone here a drink!"<BR>That proclamation was well met, and though the potential brawlers didn't know it, more than half of them had escaped from being beat up.<BR><BR>Once many of the inn's patrons had gone, the barkeep turned to Alayna. In her stay here, the barkeep had discovered that he had a soft spot for her.<BR>"Child, what happened?"<BR>"Nothing much. Do you have a spare job for me?"<BR>The barkeep stepped back, slightly shocked.<BR>"Do you need money?"<BR>"No. It's because, well, I'm wanted by some assassin, so a job might make me less conspicuous. Besides, what better place to hear the news of the city than your inn?"<BR>"Well, you've put me in a difficult position. We have enough barmaids here, but wait..."<BR>"Yes?"<BR>"I think I could do with someone to break up the fights. I saw how you broke up the last one, and I think you fit the bill."<BR>"I need to change my room as well."<BR>"That is easily done."<BR>"Thank you then."<BR><BR>All too soon, he showed her to her new room, which was considerably less well furnished than her last one. However, she was pleased. Now she had a new identity, probably enough to keep her safe for a while. Once settled, she grinned. Now, or rather, soon, it would be time to carve out her potential network of eyes and ears. But first, she would have to earn their respect. That was simple enough. Start a brawl, then show off some of her prowess. It should win her enough respect. She felt a slight tinge of guilt. She had promised to meet her family's steward today, but being so caught up in the events, she had forgotten about it. Throwing open the room's windows and allowing the cool night air to embrace her, Alayna fell back to her obsessive plotting of how to reclaim what was rightfully hers. The world of politics was a dangerous one, and now she was a player in it. What would happen to her now, or anytime soon, she didn't want to know.<BR>
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Tobias_Red-tail
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Postby Nessamelda » Mon Nov 11, 2002 12:09 am

Barahir stared at this newcomer who had disturbed both the final rest of King Albancil and his own troubled thoughts. <BR><BR>"I am Amalthea, Lady of Ithilien, I mean no harm, I only wanted to pay respects to my King." <BR><BR>As the heavily cloaked woman turned to go he vented his own frustration and guilt on the interloper. <BR><BR>"How dare you come to break this sacred vigil? Do you not know of our sacred traditions? Do you dare thus to dishonour the King?"<BR><BR>Amalthea turned, certainly not humble, and pulling her hood from around her face looked straight into the eyes of her accuser.<BR><BR>"I have as much right as any noble of this land to pay my respects to the King. It is true that this is not the time appointed, but in this trouble and turmoil I have had no other chance, the streets have not been safe....."<BR><BR>Barahir stepped back. This was indeed not one of the simpering court butterflies that he was used to dealing with. One of the usual ladies (excepting of course the Queen) would have run off in tears at his outburst.<BR><BR>The Lady of Ithilien, he thought. Not much of her lands and fortunes left! But he wondered where her loyalties would lie. As she had said these were times of trouble and turmoil. Nothing was safe, even in quiet streets and dark halls; even in whispered coversations in secret places death could lie in waiting.<BR><BR>The woman's fine gold dress rustled softly as she moved. He noted her finery as she pulled straight her cloak and reassessed her possible usefulness. If she could afford to dress in this fashion, she was not entirely destitute, and if she could command the loyalty of the scattered remains of the dwellers of Ithilien, then indeed she might serve a purpose to the man who could persuade her to loyalty. But finding out her sympathies would be difficult, and he must tread carefully.<BR><BR>"I am Lord Barahir, and have been entrusted by Lord Taronel with this final vigil". He paused. "I apologise for my hasty reaction - I have been awake for many hours, and with this duty I have had no time to address my own grief. For while my duty lies with the late king, I have also lost my own father and I have other calls on my energy. It has been a trying time. You knew the King well? I have been frequently absent from court and I do not know your face."<BR><BR>Amalthea brushed a strand of blonde hair away from her face and shook her head sadly, but gently evaded his direct question, answering with one of her own: "Little enough of late my lord. Indeed Lord Barahir, we live in trying times. My own people are scattered, and now all our lands are left uncertain with the death of the King. And what of the new King? He is a mere boy, and nothing has been heard of him since the old King's death. "<BR><BR>Barahir nodded. He knew of the Prince's abduction, but did not intend to be the spreader of that piece of news until he had found out more about who was responsible. There was enough panic at the moment. Although he thought that Taronel was an incompetent, trying to keep the Prince's abduction secret was one decison that he did agree with.<BR><BR> And there lay another problem. Taronel was one of his wife's kinsmen and he had, no doubt on Marianna's urgings, recognised Barahir and included him as one of his advisors - and Barahir did not want to be associated with him when everything collapsed. He wished to be on the winning side, and at the moment Taronel did not seem to be a likely candidate.<BR><BR>Barahir thought again. Perhaps he could kill two birds with one stone here. Keep an eye on Marianna and her cronies, and do a favour for a friendless dispossed woman who might be useful later...<BR><BR>"Perhaps my lady, if you know few here at court, you would do myself and my wife Lady Marianna the honour of visiting for a few days, in this time of turmoil? We could provide a temporary safe haven for you."<BR><BR>He resumed his vigil as he waited for her answer. <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Nessamelda
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Postby Mataisi » Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:48 pm

<i>Soft, slender hands gripped the hilt of the dagger with such ferocity that golden knuckles turned deathly white. Honeyed eyes sparkled with fear, anger and anticipation, all rolled into one glittering stare. Her breathing was hard, drawn in heavily. Her stiff, tense stance indicated that, although her expression was intent on the coming attack, her instruction in the use of the gilt-handled dagger had been minimal, if at all. She would be an easy kill, her inexperience binding her stronger than steel chains ever could. <BR><BR> She was clad in an elaborate gown of burnished red, the mark of a noble. She would be perfect, the golden flame to light the fuse of chaos in Far Harad. He couldn't have made a better choice.<BR><BR> Suddenly, he was startled out of his triumphant daydreams by a loud scream, and realized that the furious blur of red and brown and gold flying towards him was his perfect victim. The dagger flashed in the light of the torches, and he raised his sword to parry the stroke aimed for his heart. <BR><BR> She cried out once, and fell back, blood seeping through the fingers clutching the right side of her face. Blood, bright and red, shone on the edge of her dagger- his block had been too forceful to merely stop the knife, it had hurled it back at her face, now marred forever. Her breath was still heavy, but now it came in shuddering gasps. Her sun-gilded face was white from shock, and her eyes wide and blank. The dagger fell from her fist and clattered to the ground, the arm not held to her cheek slack at her side. <BR><BR> He circled around to the back of her, and hit the flat of his blade against the back of her knees. She fell to the ground, her eyes now closed and tongue licking her bloodless lips, trying to bring moisture back to them. It was all over, he thought smugly, she is mine to do with what I will. She will give the underlords power over the oppressing lords of this country, Far Harad, power they had never dreamed of before. And he- why, he would be a hero, and for ages to come have praises showering upon his head like a sweet, silver rain.</i><BR> <BR> BANG! <i>The sound of a heavy door being forcefully thrown open interrupted his thoughts, and he could do naught but gape in surprise as the Guards of the House rushed in and grabbed his arms, one comforting the Lady. He was rudely shoved out of those same, wooden doors with the brass handles and thrown to the dungeons. Now, he knew, it was truly, truly over. <BR><BR> Treason. The sound of it rang in his brain for the months as he waited for his trial. Treason. The lords would never trust their honey-tongued propositions again, the image of the golden lady on her knees before a Near Haradrim's sword, awaiting her certain death, would be burned into their mind like a hot brand. Treason. Treason. Treason... </i><BR><BR>_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _<BR><BR><i>Mataisi awoke with a start and a shout, her hand held to the side of her face, breathing heavily. As her breath slowed, she closed her eyes and traced a finger down the scar on her face, down over her temple and around her cheekbone to where it ended in a jagged slash, like she had so many nights before this.</i><BR>_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _<BR><BR> " Good morning, milady." <i>Ledt was already up and moving about the kitchen, impossibly bright-eyed and alert for the time. Mataisi nodded sleepily in his direction and yawned.</i> " I've a letter for you."<BR><BR> " Letter?" <i> She suddenly snapped out of her morning daze and walked quickly toward the table. A letter? From who? Her note to Lehjan had been penned and sent only the last evening... and she wasn't expecting anything from the officials here- not yet. <BR><BR> Her letter opener still in her bags, Mataisi broke the seal with a long, well-conditioned fingernail, and eagerly tore the letter from it's envelope, and began to read.</i><BR><BR> " What is it, milady?" <i> asked Ledt, trying unsuccesfully to hide his curiosity.</i><BR><BR> " An invitation..." <i>said Mataisi slowly and thoughtfully, </i> <BR>" From the Ambassador of Belfalas, Lady Naiore Dannan. Hmm."<BR> <BR> " Will you accept the invitation, milady?"<BR><BR> " Certainly, Ledt." <i>She smiled.</i> " Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?"
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Mataisi
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