Darkness rising - Mods, please lock -

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

Darkness rising - Mods, please lock -

Postby Hades » Tue Mar 23, 2004 1:34 am

Please for any comments, questions or joining requests, go to the Word aside thread.
Last edited by Hades on Sun Dec 05, 2004 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hades » Tue Mar 23, 2004 1:36 am

<em>It was cold. Ever, since she had moved to Ithilien, Eolynd could not remember such a cold spring. It was almost may now, and yet in the morning, the soil was still frozen. Like many of the Rohirrim who had chosen to follow the king’s sister to Ithilien after the War, she had always loved the temperate climate favouring the luxuriant vegetation, which filled the air with the scent of Ithilien. <BR><BR>It would be ten years soon that she had packed her bundle, taken her nephew and left the Rohirrim plains of her youth to start a new life without those whom the War had driven apart or killed. Haleth had a light Gondorian accent on his Rohirrim now and it made her think of his mother, more than he would ever know, even if her accent hat yet been different. A small Rohirrim colony had followed the Lady Eowyn, and together with those arriving from Gondor given life again to a hurt and devasted land.<BR><BR>The first years after the War had been blissful. Hope almost seemed to be touchable in the air; many times Eolynd surprised herself humming in the street. The clear laughter of children filled the air, and just like the White Lady bore a son to Faramir, many women were carrying their heavy wombs in triumph.<BR><BR>Then, slowly things had changed. A slow, sneaking change, so that none could really tell, when it had happened. Two years ago, for the first time, there had been snow falling and the whole summer had been like under a veil of clouds. Many women had miscarriages, and rumours were spread about the queen’s poor health. And people became different: more silent, less friendly. It was at the end of this summer that something dreadful happened. Bedold, the baker, a man known by all, one night took his axe, tore his wife Idreard out of her bed and right in front of their house, made her kneel down and cut her head off with a single stroke, lifting it then high in the dark sky, holding the red curls in his blood-covered fingers. He was screaming in some strange language of which she was later told that it was Numenorean. Nobody dared to approach him, as he held his wife’s head like a sacrifice while his own face was sullied by the blood streaming from the stump. Only once the sun had risen, he fell on the ground weeping. A voice in his head had told him to do so, the voice had asked for the sacrifice of the witch, had asked him to be his priest and to show him the offering. His eyes were like those of a madman, and he was still holding strains of the curled hair of his dead wife in his fist. Soon after, in prison, he was found dead, as if he had been strangled, he was pale and seemed bloodless, but nobody really wanted to know. And this had been only the beginning. More and more people were talking about voices, rows broke out for nothing and the streets were empty. Even the sweet essence of Ithilien seemed poisoned. <BR><BR>Rumours were spreading ancient names of a Shadow in the East; tales of a man or a ghost among them, tall like a Nazgûl, thin like a skeleton, deadly like fire. Everybody seemed to have seen him, yet nobody could tell where or when, and none really wanted to know. They were acting as if Ithilien was still a safe haven and a friendly place and fears stayed behind closed doors. Crimes committed were forgotten the next day, names of the dead never spoken again, memories lost.<BR><BR>For a long time, Eolynd had felt untouched by the changing. She mainly lived for and with the boy, and as long as he grew healthy and happy, the rest of the world mattered few to her. But of course, Haleth had grown and he was close to manhood now and on this cold spring evening, without any warning or reason, he had not come home. His aunt was worried. Only last week, travellers from Minas Tirith had reported a strange storm over the White City, which had frozen the hearts and blinded the yes of those taken in it. <BR><BR>And Eolynd knew that some of the young men performed strange rituals in the nights when<BR>the moon was dark, rituals of scarification, sacrifice and blood tests, commanded by the Shadow they could not name. It seemed that sometimes they had taken a girl. But no names were ever said and the two girls who had died in the winter had suffered beforehand from a mysterious flue. Yet, they had been very fair, almost like elven maids, the blossom of Ithilien. <BR><BR>The wind was howling in the empty street through which the Rohirrim woman walked, calling loud the name of her nephew, loud enough to cover her own fear. There was only an echo answering her, no voice from the closed windows, hardly any lights shining in the evening, it was almost as if she was walking through a dead city already. Eolynd drew her scarf closer around her, trying desperately to shake the feeling of cold off and to ignore her thoughts. ‘What if something had happened to Haleth – if he was hurt…’ But there was another thought on her mind: ‘What if the precious baby has grown and does not need you any more? What if he has gone, maybe to find the one who gave him life, and then you will be alone without the illusion of a family that the boy has given you? Look at you now, who is at your side? Where is the child? Your brother? Your husband? All have forsaken you… and all have forsaken Ithilien…”<BR><BR>Facing the wind, she just tried to keep on walking, even though through the tears in her eyes, she did not see any more where she was heading. Her voice had become silent in the end and it could not cover any more the words inside her head – thoughts, words, she could not tell any more. One foot was set before another, mechanically, as if there was still a trail to follow, as if there was still any hope to find a way to escape the loss. Had it not all been just an illusion? All her life? And all the love that she had given to this child that was not hers? Would the cold wind be the only embrace she would know for the years that were still left of her life? Were there any years left? <BR><BR>When she touched her cheek, Eolynd felt one of the teardrops she had cried – or she had tried to convince herself that only the wind had driven them in her eyes. It had frozen. There, in panic she lifted her eyes. Her walk had taken her out of the village, close to the boarder of the forest. No lights at all were left, even the moon was dark and the stars seemed bleak and empty. The woman, although neither easily scared, nor tender or defenceless, shivered. More than that, she was frozen, just like the teardrop on her cheek. <BR><BR>And out of the cold, out of the dark, she felt suddenly a touch on her face, something that would have been a caress, if it had not felt like a knife of bones on her skin. It was nothing like an illusion; it was very real, very cold, and very, very close. But in the black night, she could not see anything. Not the glimpse of an eye, no trace of a smile or a breath in the air. It was just as if the cold had taken a shape that could touch her, as if out of the nothingness had stepped the incarnation of her fears. <BR><BR>And when she felt the strange fingers closing her lips, Eolynd knew that all the voices over the last months, all the visions had been nothing but the encounter she was experiencing now. And all of them had been real. Ithilien was doomed. And it was only the start. <BR><BR>Hades had not meant to follow the woman on this evening, she was just one of them, just another one, and he knew that he would be bored even before she was dead. He had not even meant to leave the White City so quickly again after the fight against the elf, or whatever the entity had been. He knew his strength now, and a little province like Ithilien had become like a playground, like a training session for something else that expected him. More than a fight, or a quest, or just a duel. Time for War had come. He was ready now, sure of his newly gained strength, no more limited by the ancient powers that the Rings had held within them. He was free. <BR><BR>Free as a bird, and in his case free as a vulture, slowly turning in circles above his prey. He had not meant to follow the woman, he had not meant to scare anybody tonight, but just as a man cannot choose to breath, he could not choose to stay aside, to remain hidden, not to hurt or to let the desperate live. The woman had been walking through his Ithilien, to the region that he had decided to use as a stable for his cattle. She had been sad and afraid – there was no way that Hades could have let her step away with that and let her believe for another day in her illusions. The time of illusions was over, and now he would claim what he wanted, openly, loud, fighting. The time of hiding and hunting was over. He would want to step out, gather allies at his side, and reign not only over the death of his victims, but over their lives, over each and every of their steps which they would be taking for him. <BR><BR>His fingers were gliding over the woman’s face like thin blades… She stared at him, her eyes wide open, unable to scream, to utter a word, her tears, her fears frozen on her face. Once she must have been quite pretty, but the short years of a human existence had left traces on her features and she seemed tired and worn out, like a blanket which had become to thin over the years to cover and shelter. It was so easy to torture her poor mind, with the truths that men did not want to face: the reality of being useless, small, abandoned, and granted with life-spans so short, that they only were candles in the wind in the end. <BR><BR>And he was not only the wind; he was the Storm to come. <BR><BR>The woman managed a small scream, almost a moaning, probably a begging to let her life like they all begged in the end to keep on with this miserable charade, with the illusion. Eolynd was sobbing and while the tears froze before even they reached her lips, she still felt the taste of blood and salt in her mouth. She did not know what it was, what she had met there but she knew all of a sudden that the world as she had known it would never be the same again, that she was facing someone – something that had stepped out to change it and to impose its law, its bite, its hatred on this world. Nothing meant anything to this creature; there was no expression in the tortured mask that must have been a face once, there was no expression in the holes where once its eyes must have been set, just a dark emptiness, an abyss of something that she could not understand, and that the creature would not share.</em> <BR><BR>“Let me live” – <em>she wanted to beg, but even before the words came to her broken lips, she felt the grip tighten around her throat. This one needed no language. The minds of lesser creatures like she was were for him like an open book, and he had known that she would want to live. At some time this creature must have been human to understand so easily the ways of the human mind. And in the same moment, Eolynd knew that there was no escape. Why he had chosen her tonight – she did not know, but it was that way and this cold spring of Ithilien would be the last she would ever see, a spring without flowers, bleak and cold and without any hope left… Had it only been ten years since they thought that Evil had been defeated entirely? <BR><BR>Hades did not even try to let the woman speak, knowing her words, before she said them, probably even before she thought them. His attention was already gone, and his fingers closing only mechanically around the throat of the sobbing female. This was not any more what he was looking for – he had done it often enough to know that he could kill without thought, without trace, without remorse or judgement. It had become useless. The fight against the Dark Knight had shown it, and the appearance of his opponents was his proof: time for a something else had come. He heard the bones of her neck cracking under his fingers, and the motionless body fall on the frozen ground as if it were a piece of flesh only and not a living human being instants ago. The sound was dry like a funeral drum. It would be the last time that he would kill so needlessly, and so few – just one dead, like this for nothing, another one that they would not even mourn – he would not waste his time on this kind of children’s game any more. <BR><BR>And in the morning after, a young man, still almost a child, who had just drank a bit too much with his youth friends, would find the bruised body of his aunt lying in the woods. At the grave already, he would be almost alone. And with the years to come, the pain and the grief would become hatred and in the end, he might just play at his enemy’s side. An enemy who would not even remember this victim. <BR><BR>At the boarder of the forest of Ithilien, turned towards the lights of the village in the dark and cold night, Hades raised to his full height. The body of the woman who had been named Eolynd lay at his feet, forgotten. Like a bird of prey he had returned to his nest after the feast in Minas Tirith, but only to find that his former food did not nourish him any more. He would have to lift his own army of hunters to find for him the taste of power, dominion and fear that he was looking for. He was ready now, not only to haunt, but also to hunt and in the end to find his prey, the one he was looking for, and no more cheap substitutes. <BR><BR>He knew now, what he wanted: he wanted them to kneel in the dust and to claim his name, like a God, like the Easterlings had done in the ancient times. But this time, he wanted the blood of Numenor spilled on his altar, the last drops of the precious gift of the Valar, finally destroyed by him. So, where would he find hatred for mankind, for Numenor, more than anything else, desire for war and knowledge how to dominate? Everywhere… <BR><BR>Stepping on the cold body on his feet, about which he had already forgotten, he sent out his call in the night – a call for crebain, bats, vultures and words flowing with the wind in the ears of those who had waited for him. <BR><BR>It was time now. Time for War.</em>
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Postby ElPolloDiablo » Sun Mar 28, 2004 9:37 pm

The rabbit squealed inaudibly as iron hands closed about its neck. Teeth pierced its skin, drawing forth the blood within as the animal struggled without hope against the predator. Soon, drained of its precious life-blood, the empty carcass was discarded upon the cold stone. Taarisilme's hunger was barely appeased, the blood of an animal not enough to fill the pit within. And yet, for years he had survived on little more than the creatures of the far north of the Forodwaith near Forochel. <BR><BR>He had fled here after the fall of Sauron and the destruction of the Ring; fleeing north towards his ancient homes of Udûn and Angband. There, in the darkened bowels of the earth, he had been bred for his master's use. There had his spirit dwelt for countless centuries in service to his ancient master, Melkor. <BR><BR>Still his spirit yearned to return to the depths of those fortresses, now long destroyed and gone from Middle-Earth. Therefore, he had come as close as he could, facing the frigid north and sparse prey. His strength was much diminished by lack of proper nourishment. Even the men of the north never came here, and he would have to leave his caverns to find human blood upon which to feed. He had not been prepared to do that until now.<BR><BR>With no master to serve, no succulent flesh upon which to feed, Taarisilme's spirit had waned within him. His human soul now skimmed just beneath the surface of his being, testing the weaknesses of the vampire's will to keep him subdued. Taarisilme, however, yet held control. He would not relinquish his host so easily.<BR><BR>Taarisilme sat at the entrance to his lair and gazed out upon the darkness of the night. His eyes followed by senses beyond human ability the small creatures that scurried about the land in search of some scrap of food. They would themselves become meals for stronger predators, and they, in turn, would fall still to others. His tongue slid over his pale lips as the hunger burned within him for human blood. If he waited much longer, he would lose his hold on this mortal's body and his spirit would fade entirely.<BR><BR>In the depth of the long nights of the north, he passed like a shadow from his lair and began his journey south to find the fertile feeding grounds of human settlements. He could smell the faint scent of their blood on the winds, countless miles away yet still it called to him. <BR><BR>He spent the daylight hours hidden in what shelters he could find, pressing onward with the darkness until he had reached the most outlying villages of the Lossoth people. There, in the stillness of their sleep, he snatched a child from its bed and feasted upon her life. <BR><BR>In the morning, the Lossoth found only her lifeless body, drained of blood and cast upon the cold earth. Fear swept through them that the ancient beasts of the night had returned. But Taarisilme had not lingered there. Strengthened by human blood at last, he could hear the call. It whispered on the winds and caressed his spirit. "<em>Come</em>," it called to him. "<em>Come</em>," it urged him. He knew now it was this call that had pulled him unknowingly from his lair. It was this call that had caused him to seek the strength that human blood provided so that he could answer. <BR><BR>"I come," he whispered back to the winds and now set his feet towards the south.
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Postby Nindalf » Mon Mar 29, 2004 11:45 am

The sun beat down on the ancient roadway, the sound of bird song and cricket was sporadic but it always was in the heat of the day in this part of Ithilien. In the distance, the sound of children playing and the loud bellow of a cow being milked added to the overwhelming sense of security. It was so very different from the first time he had ridden through here. At least superficially.<BR><BR>Then he had been part of an army of two thousand militia from Pelargir and Lebennin, led by a hero from the Pelennor and they had crossed the mighty Anduin, and marched to take the crossings of the Poros. There they had held off a bands of Khand riders, and Southrons fleeing from the north when Sauron fell. Now, the ruined town was built anew, surrounded by the tents of the Haradrim and Easterlings, where trade was important not allegiance to a King. Elessar had arranged this; he had set this town as a place for old enemies to meet. So now Athrad Poros was one of the great trade towns, more so even than Dale. Where a man could by whatever he wanted, even a woman if he so wished. The slavers of the south did not operate with the King’s licence, but they did under the Kings guard, just over the river in Harad.<BR><BR>“So there is the great city of Athrad Poros, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. But the King has built there a peace between us and the Harad; even traders from Khand and the deep south come there. They have Mûmak to pull carts, even seen a Mûmak, boy?” He stared at the driver, who was oblivious to him. Secretly Nindalf smiled. “They have tamed them, the Haradrim, a great people. Not wise, and tricky, so watch yourself with them and do not drink anything they offer.…..” <BR><BR>The day’s business had been good. He had delivered his cargo of rare Umbarian dinnerware, and arranged to meet with a trader who needed to get wines to Minas Tirith. It would be lucrative, and as ever a good cover to allow him to trade in luxuries, fine jewellery. Like the Noldorian necklace and chain of Mithril that he had bought off a camel herder for a few gold coins.<BR><BR>“Are you Nindalf of Pelargir?” said a tall, distinguished and hairless Haradrim.<BR><BR>“I am, are you Nassout of Bozish Dah’mal?”. The other man bowed and smiled. “Good, then I have to collect six crates of Khand Brandy, and six boxes of Umbarian sweets”<BR><BR>“Not just Sweets, Nindalf of Pelargir. Umbar Delight, the sweet that was only to be eaten by the Sultan of that city. It was so rare, so precious that my people once went to war over it”. The tall desert man was still smiling, but behind it was history and pride.<BR><BR>“I will take care of it then Nassout, and deliver it safely to Lord Telemnar.” Nindalf bowed, in the manner of the desert folk.<BR><BR>“I am sure. Your reputation precedes you. And your trust.” The trader handed over a chit which Nindalf cut. When the two were reunited by Lord Telemnar, he would be paid.<BR><BR>“ A safe trip, Nindalf. Beware of a band of men who travel as archivists. They will cut your throat at night”. The tall man bowed deeply, in the western fashion, and then was gone letting Nindalf and his driver Hanif load the cart..<BR><BR>“You have the wines then Nindalf, good. I will take the chit from Nassout to Lord Telmnar,” snapped Godfrey de Celos, the local broker for the Gondorian concerns. “And remember, if you come across a decent bard for this wedding on your trip, tell them to contact me or my offices in the capital. I will pay you a good stipend.”<BR><BR>“I will my Lord de Celos. And if I may be so bold, I believe I have found a gift for his eminence. A piece of Elf jewellery, from far off Valinor, brought to these shores before the sun rose and hanging on a chain of ancient Mithril. It is truly beautiful, and would grace the neck of his bride.”<BR><BR>“I expect you require a King’s ransom for this jewel?” said the broker. His mind twirled, the gift would be exactly what he required and the profit on the trade would excel his expectations of the trip.<BR><BR>“And what about the delivery. Will you do that as well Nindalf?” asked the broker<BR><BR>“It will cost you five thousand Gondorian gold coins Godfrey de Celos”, said Nindalf, checking a small notebook.<BR><BR>“And you can get it to Minas Tirith without any official searches?” Nindalf looked at him questioningly. “Let's just say we'd like to avoid any Royal entanglements.”<BR><BR>“Well, that's the trick, isn't it? And it's going to cost you<BR>something extra. Ten thousand in advance.”<BR><BR>“Ten thousand? I could almost buy my own ship for that!”<BR><BR>“But who's going to sail it, broker! You?”<BR><BR>Godfrey de Celos looked at the trader, and smiled. He knew this was the safest way, the viable way. He sighed and nodded. He was planning to charge Lord Telemnar twenty thousand gold coins for the wedding gift anyway.<BR><BR>“I haven't that much with me. But I could pay you two thousand now, plus eight when you reach Minas Tirith. And I will arrange for a contract on arrival to any city in Western Arda.” The broker held out his hand. Nindalf looked into the man’s eyes, then shook it.<BR><BR>“It is good doing business with you Godfrey de Celos. I would like to visit the North next. Bree or Fornost I think” The broker bowed, and wrote out the chit. Snapping it he gave half to Nindalf, and kept half for his courier, and watched as the trader walked off.<BR><BR>Six hours later, Nindalf, his driver, a cart and a pair of hired guards set off North towards Ithilien, and a wonderful profit. Nindalf smiled at that, the profit margin on this trip was on the up. One of the guards was a bard of some repute. Why this Erinhue had approached him, and why he had ignored the broker was a question he would have to ask later, when the contract was signed with Lord Telemnar. And why he glared at the other guard was a question that he hoped would not bring conflict into their little group.<BR><BR>Sighing deeply, Nindalf swished the back of the oxen pulling his cart. He should buy a Mûmak. This would be a long trip.<BR>
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Postby erinhue » Mon Mar 29, 2004 5:53 pm

A shroud of silence had fallen over the tap room. the patrons sat as if stunned, many of them weeping openly, all visibly struggling with their overwrought emotions. The proprietor looked at him and smiled but Erinhue just shook his head and returned to his table in the tavern’s darkest corner.<BR><BR>What was supposed to have been his signature piece, the ribald drinking song, “Morgan’s Joy, had rolled off his fingers and and over Agarak’ harp strings and come out” Nienna Ever Sorrowing”. The bard’s own mood colored his talented voice and produced a most heart-wrenching version of the tragic melody. It had obviously effected the audience deeply, and made them thirsty. The silence ended in cries for ale and wine that brought on soft, sad reminiscences that needed drink to wash away the bitter memories. <BR><BR>The tavern owner didn’t care why his customer’s wanted drink, he only cared that they did want it and more because of the bard’s performance. He had worried when the jolly tune requested was ignored in favor of the maudlin ballad but it seemed that people drank just as much when they cried as they did when they laughed and he smiled at the bard for the increase in revenue. <BR><BR> He didn’t know why the famous Erinhue had taken up residence in his pitiable establishment. The master bard would have been welcome in the most upscale of parlors. Any of his more wealthy competitors would have paid to have the bard come entertain their customers and any price would have been paid. <BR><BR>Instead, two weeks ago the Warrior/Bard of Belfalas had come into his small establisement, announced that he would play to pay his tab if that was at all agreeable and then taken to the smallest table in the darkest corner of the tavern, where he remained unless he came to stand near the bar and sing. Finished for the time being the bard had gone straight back to his table. The innkeeper was happy to see it and sent over another pitcher of ale.<BR><BR>A young girl with the sea grey eyes of the south had jumped to fetch the ale. She brought it to the table and tried her best to catch the bard’s downcast eyes. When that failed she hurried to the kitchens and fixed a bowl of the fresh stew and the last of the morning’s baked bread and returned.<BR><BR>When she set the food upon the table her fondest wish was granted when grey eyes met their like.<BR><BR>“Thank ya much there darlin’. I woulda forgot about eating all together if ya hadn’t brought that round.” Erinhue held up his hand and plucked a delicate Rhomer orchid from thin air. “A pale token against your beauty which flows from the depths of a generous and thoughtfull heart.”<BR><BR>The girl took the rare blossom which would have cost a fancy fee in the market. It was something she would treasure for a long time to come. The bard had taken no notice of any of the serving girls until just now and she smiled when she thought how jealous the other girls would be. She tucked the flower behind one ear so the bloom showed in her hair. <BR><BR>She smiled at him again, offering more than just the smile, but he had returned to his pre-occupation and was staring into his mug. He would sip at the ale slowly until the mood hit him to sing. He sang only sad songs, no matter what tune was requested and even when he began a happy tune, it became something else soon after beginning.<BR><BR> She didn’t care that his songs were sad, they were lovely and his voice was more than beautiful. His reputation was well earned, and she thought she was in love.<BR>
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Postby erinhue » Tue Mar 30, 2004 11:04 pm

Nienna Ever Sorrowing. Erinhue sighed into his mug at the thought of what had to be the universal anthem of melancholy wretchedness. He had never cared for the tune which is why it had surprised him when he heard himself singing it. A building gaiety had been the mood when someone began the call for “Morgan’s Joy.”<BR><BR>Buoyed by their high humor, the entire tavern quickly picked up the chant and there had been no choice but for him to get up and play. When he set his fingers to the harp strings he had every good intention of complying with the raucous request, but from nowhere came the dirge. His baritone fairly throbbed with palpable emotion and before he was half finished the tavern was awash in tears.<BR><BR>He felt nothing. Raw emotion brought the poignant lyrics heartbreakingly home, for such was the talent of his voice. The sound of pure sorrow and regret reached out to find itself in every heart and burst forth then again in stifled sobs or choked weeping. The ache of grief and anguish filled his rich baritone, but Erinhue felt none of it himself.<BR><BR>Nothing to do but finish the song, he thought, though he abandoned the final stanzas and the last refrain. He was thirsty again and went back to his table. There in the dim light of his chosen corner he let his thoughts drift back to nothing and sough solace in the gentle humming in his head.<BR><BR>When the girl came with more ale, he hardly took any note of her presence. When she came back with the food, he responded almost automatically with some bit of flattery beyond his conscious thought. He looked at the bowl of stew, which the girl assured him was beef and made that morning fresh, and could not remember the last time he had eaten.<BR><BR>He finished the contents of his mug and licked the last drops from the moustache hairs curling over his top lip and teasing at his mouth. It needed trimming as he was certain did his beard. He raked his fingers through his unruly mop of dark hair, now covering his ears and tickling at the back of his neck. He looked at the stew again as he re-filled his mug. Perhaps he would eat it later. For now he looked about the tavern as if seeing it for the first time and wondered how long it had been since he had left Dol Amroth.
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Postby Alandriel » Wed Mar 31, 2004 3:00 am

~~~ Minas Tirith ~~~<BR><BR><BR>“Brandy from Khand… Umbarian sweets?” <a href=' http://www.epilogue.net/cgi/database/ar ... 04&genre=2 ' target=_blank>Telemnar</a> shook his head. “I can understand the necessity for Dorwinion wine, red and white, even the luxury of ordering pipe-weed from Longbottom, brandy…. but……..Umbarian…What does it say here? Umbar delight?”<BR><BR>“It will greatly please the ladies, my lord. Trust me on this - as you have trusted me so far in managing all details concerning your forthcoming nuptial.”<BR><BR>Telemnar sighed exasperatedly and put the order on top of one of the many stacks of parchments that littered his table. <BR><BR>“I wish this could be a quiet affair….”<BR><BR>The young procurer chuckled. “That, my lord, is hardly possible, considering….”<BR><BR>“Yes, yes, I know! I’ve been lectured enough on the subject.”<BR><BR>The official involuntarily took a step back. Why the man could not bring himself to look forward to his own wedding remained a mystery to him. In a short time Lord Telemnar would be most fortuitously allied to the Steward’s House, have a beautiful young bride, move into a large house newly refurbished close to Imloth Melui and then, soon, he would even take over the management of the ancient fiefdom of Lossarnach. Him; a simple man, who - after the war - had mysteriously appeared in Minas Tirith one day. He had been granted apartments amongst those of the nobles on the seventh level. Why? Because no other than King Elessar himself had appointed Telemnar into the royal council. It was a mystery. <BR><BR>Telemnar did not like the way the official regarded him. Far too arrogant, condescending even for one so young in years. Young nobles! He would be glad to see the back of them and soon. <BR><BR>“What about the bard? Erinhue? Have you confirmation yet that he’s been hired?”<BR><BR>“No word yet, my lord. Messengers have been sent out but they have not yet returned. I don’t see a problem though, for one as famous as Erinhue will be recognized in many places and surely will be located swiftly. He is known to be in and around Dol Amroth a lot.” <BR><BR>Noting the somewhat stern glance Telemnar afforded him, he quickly cleared his throat before continuing: <BR><BR>“You need to sign those, my lord,” he said, pointing to one of the lesser stacks on the crowded table, “so that the treasurer can pay out the dues. The good news is however, tomorrow – most likely that is - the very last chits will arrive via courier from Athrad Poros. Our man there, Godfrey de Celos, is ever so reliable and efficient. Then, all will be done.”<BR><BR>Telemnar moved a large stack of maps he had drawn up earlier aside to reach for quill and ink while raising his eyebrows at the sudden reassuringly smooth tone the young man had adopted.<BR> <BR>“Anything else?” <BR><BR>“No, my lord that will be all…and… it does not have to be right now. I can collect those in the morning.” <BR><BR>Menodher was anxious to leave before Lord Telemnar would explode into another tirade as to why all of this was necessary. <em>Those</em> were the bills for the many lordly types of attire the Lord’s future mother-in-law had insisted upon and for which measurements had been taken only some days ago. An episode he remembered all too well. And so, rather hastily, he added:<BR><BR>“With your leave…?”<BR><BR>“Yes….. yes… see me in the morning again, Menodher,” Telemnar mumbled absentmindedly, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to focus on the scrawny lettering. <BR><BR>Reading had never been his forte. He was not looking forward to what would amount to another two hours of painful toiling over yet more tightly scribbled orders. Concentrating hard, he did not hear he young man leave. After taking a last gulp of his mulled wine that had long gone cold he set the parchments aside. It was no use. He was tired. The entire day he had squandered over papers. This could wait until morning. A new sun would rise and bring him yet another day closer; closer to getting away from all of this. <BR><BR>He rose from his high backed wooden chair and made for the balcony that clung high above the sleeping city. Deeply he drank of the cool night air and let his gaze roam across the wide, dark plains stretching far to the horizon. Would that the whole affair was done and over with and he could finally settle to a quiet spot in the country. He would spend his days outdoors as much as possible and return to a homely house in the eve; a home that would be as efficiently and warmly run as that of Eluidas, the lady dowager of Lossarnach. Best of all, once installed, he would have a full staff of clerks at his disposal to take care of all the paperwork he so loathed. It had been agreed. All he needed to do was to ride south and officially sign the contracts to the estate.<BR><BR>He smiled. Ride he would and soon. Alandriel would join him on this trip south. They had agreed to that only last week. ‘Strange,’ he thought. ‘I have not seen her since that dreadful storm last week.’ But then he shrugged. He had been buried in work. ‘No wonder she stayed away. Besides, if she did manage to find the histories she was interested in ….’ He chuckled as the mental picture of his usually fiery niece emerged, her proud nose stuck deep in some books. Still chuckling, he shook his head and returned to his chambers. No! They both were unsuited to studiousness – certainly in the long run. True, they shared a love for tales and chronicles yet neither would ever turn into a decent scholar, let alone a scribe.<BR><BR><BR>***************************************************<BR><BR><BR>~~~ some distance to the North of Minas Tirith ~~~<BR><BR><BR><BR>“Is she in that deep sleep now mother? That particular state you told me was most beneficial for healing?”<BR><BR>Concern and weariness clearly rode on Elora’s voice as she answered with a sigh: “I certainly hope so child.” <BR><BR>“Will she be well again when she wakes up?”<BR><BR>Elora smiled. So much innocence, so much hope… so much hunger for life! <BR>How she wished she could be young again, forget the pain and suffering she had seen; the knowledge that sometimes death was preferable to living. In this moment where the child once again showed her pureness of innocent spirit, her uncorrupted virtues, she envied her grand-daughter. To be able to roam for days the blooming plains and valleys again, to explore the woods with nothing but care-free curiosity and wonder on mind…… the only concern being where to find the right herbs for the various concoctions this place, her place now for a long number of years, was known for. Not that the small house tucked away behind a grove on one of the southern foothills of Amon Dîn received many visitors. Sadly, that only happened rarely these days. The world was much changed and their location was only known to a few: those that were herbalists and healers in the ways of old; and the number of those with such knowledge seemed to dwindle year by year.<BR> <BR>The few who had come, visited either to stock up on rare plants or leaf through the quite extensive volumes of leather bound books which had been carefully assembled here over many ages; which would, in a few years time hopefully, pass into the hands of yet another generation. The child who, all too soon, would come into womanhood certainly showed aptitude although she did struggle with their lonely way of life.<BR><BR>Occasionally though, visitors did come, as had happened just a few days ago. But never in her long life had Elora experienced anything like this. <BR><BR>In the dead of night she and the child had been rudely torn from sleep by the loud noise of urgent pounding at their door. Only someone familiar with their hidden place, someone in great need would act thus and so Elora had wrapped a shawl around her shoulder and had, apprehensively, answered the knocking. <BR>Seeing just who the party was - a rough looking Rohirrim supporting a fair woman whose eyes held but an unseeing, blank stare, at their side a fierce looking Easterling, strands of red hair spilling onto his chest and shoulders from the wrapped, unconscious form he held tight in his arms like tongues of witch fire - Elora had almost doubled back in fright. Their apparition had sent Mara, who had peeked from behind her night-dress, running for cover with a shriek of terror. Only the burning urgency in the fair woman’s rapid speech, her mentioning the name of Ani-la, the healer from Les whom Elora knew and the Eastron’s intense eyes had made her open the door fully to let them in. Bardhwyn, Menon and Moujhadin, for so they had introduced themselves in hushed voices, had stayed for only an hour and then ridden off at break neck speed. Where to they would not say. Bardhwyn had been adamant: to protect Elora’s safety and that of the child. <BR><BR>“Mother?”<BR><BR>Mara’s hopeful and insistent voice brought Elora back to the present. She sighed deeply: <BR><BR>“My knowledge fails me here…..I do not know child. All my herb-lore and healing craft so far has had no effect. I wish I knew what that powder was the woman……“ <BR><BR>She did not want to mention Bardhwyn’s name in front of the child, nor any of the others, for she had given her word to keep their identities utterly secret. <BR><BR>“I wish I knew what it was the lady mixed with water and insisted we drip in her mouth on every sunrise and sunset. But - it seems to be working. At least her breathing has become easier, her skin feels more normal. The ugly mark on her hand, strangely enough, is fading also. If….” The old woman quickly corrected herself. “<em>When</em> she will wake up however, I do not know.”<BR><BR>‘Her’ was Alandriel, the fine boned woman of middle years with fiery hair the unlikely trio had left behind in their care. Elora had learned her name only accidentally. <BR><BR>She had been just about to set another candle next to the cot Moujhadin had lowered the unconscious woman into when she overheard him utter strange sounding words. Elora had not understood the foreign, guttural speech. Her intuition however told her that it had been some kind of incantation, a ritual. To her ears, ‘Alandriel’ had been the only repetitive word, pronounced with even more fervour than any of the others. Quickly she had removed herself. Just thinking of the incident now, she could still feel the Eastron’s eyes burning into her back. <BR>Alandriel seemed to have ‘responded’ to whatever it was he had done; if it could be called that. For shortly after she had stirred, the only time she had ever done so; even opened her eyes. That sight Elora would not easily forget: wide, dark pupils of a dull grey, almost the colour of burnt out embers, a few bright crimson spots dancing like hell fire in the black orbs. Involuntarily she shuddered, glad that the child had not seen it for Mara had remained hidden throughout and had only come out of hiding well after they had left.<BR><BR>“You are tired mother. Go to sleep. I will take the first watch.”<BR><BR>Elora shook her head. “No, my dear child. I’ve had a long rest in the afternoon and besides, old people like me need little sleep. Go along and don’t nod over your books.”<BR><BR>“I will never forget the candle again, rest assured mother. Having to redraw all those parchments of the many different Lawadalas *) is a lesson I won’t forget so easily.” <BR> <BR>It had been the only time Mara ever had seen her grand-mother truly angry; and not because of the singed pages. <BR><BR>“Good night then, mother. You will wake me at first light?”<BR><BR>Elora nodded and drew her shawl deeper over her knees. “Losto a no mae **”, she whispered as Mara softly padded over to her chamber. She meant it as much for the child as for the woman who lay motionless in her bed, deathlike were it not for the slow and fait, yet steady rising of her chest.<BR><BR><BR><BR>*) Sind.: Warming plants<BR>**) Sind.: Sleep and be well<BR><BR>
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Postby Culanir » Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:57 am

He watched the missile arc through the air, spinning as it went, before falling gracefully and vanishing into the Anduin. Culanir reached for another cherry from the basket and popped the succulent fruit into his mouth. Then, squinting high into the sun, he spat the redundant stone in pursuit of its fellow, towards the approaching eastern shore. <BR><BR>The late morning sun danced across the little white-tipped waves that rippled in the wake of the ferryboat, belying the danger of the dark unseen currents driving the fëa of the great river beneath its surface. The knight stared down into the murky jade depths, releasing his mind into the flow. Culanir's childhood memories were wreathed in this river; in its smells and sounds and spirits. <BR><BR>Idly he wondered if the Limlug still dwelt amidst the rocks and swelling sands of the river bed. This half-mythical creature was as old as the stones and as impossible to catch as the water through which it swam, but that had not halted the keen fishing trips of children ardent for glory. For the ring leader of a small war-band of younger siblings it had been an undeniable challenge, for all that their mother had told them the tales of the <em>Ómalóra</em>, the voiceless ones, who had gone to watery graves. And even now, half a lifetime after leaving the land of his birth, the Gondorian could not resist the customary urge to placate the Limlug with offerings. <BR><BR>"You'll be wanting a guide on the other side, sir?" the ferry-master's voice, thickened by the throaty tones of Pelargir, intruded on Culanir's reminiscences. "If you're travelling up stream to Athrad Poros, there's a company of King's messengers going that very way."<BR><BR>Culanir shook his head, perhaps a little too defensively and abruptly to be polite. "No. No thank you. I know these parts well enough."<BR><BR>"Alright sir. I wasn't to know." The ferry master backed off, looking quizzically back over his shoulder at the strange man with red-gold hair. He'd plied these waters for nigh on a decade, ever since the end of the War and would have sworn on oath that this was a stranger. Old insecurities still ran deep in this stretch of the world; although time was a great healer and Yavanna's fruits had wiped out many a stain, men's minds remained scarred.<BR><BR>Culanir felt his stomach clench and he took a deep breath to calm himself. The boatman's nosiness and indignant attitude offended him, as it had ever since embarkation. There was a dearth of boats at this ancient crossing point from Pelargir to the Ithilien bank and, as is so often the way when competition is lacking, the daily ferry could milk customers for more than a fair share of their purse, endeavouring to divine their purposes as well. Whilst Culanir had left his guardsman's uniform behind, having no official purpose to his journeying and no desire to attract attention, there was nevertheless something about his confident stance and the set of his broad shoulders that seemed to excite curiosity. Notwithstanding the fact that the cold fire in his eyes should have kept all but a few hardy souls at more than arms-length. <BR> <BR>He was left to his own devices as the ferry master took his meddlesome self to the task of helping his crew tackle the strongest rush of currents mid-stream. Perching himself atop a cask, Culanir reached inside the tooled-leather pouch at his belt and withdrew a thick square of parchment. Casually he unfolded it and spread the letter out on his lap, attempting yet again to decipher the swirling script. He could make out his name of course and some of the simpler words but the rest was a blur, if a strangely comforting one, and he had to rely upon memory to fill in the gaps. <BR><BR>The missive had arrived some time earlier; only the second received by the knight from his homeland in all the long years since he had marched through with the host sent to subdue Near Harad. But it had taken several days until he was off duty at the same time the public clerk was working; his impatience had almost worn him through. And then even once he'd had the contents read, it was another week before he could confirm the leave necessary to travel back. <BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Impenitent » Thu Apr 01, 2004 5:45 am

Sfâtha sat on her haunches, gnawing her fingernails as the sun descended behind the crest of the ravine in which she was hid. The dusk was the time for the smaller foraging creatures to come out for food and she watched for their telltale movements under the darkening sky. Rabbits soon crept from their burrow, the cue for Sfatha to reach into the fur pouch tied around her waist for the hollowed out reed and the tiny blow-darts she had crafted. She fished out a hollowed out nut and unstoppered the hole in its side to dip the tip of a dart into the milky liquid within, sealing the vessel afterwards. She dropped the dart inside the tube of the reed, careful not to prick herself with the point.<BR><BR>She crouched lower, slithering over the treacherous rocks with the extreme silence learned over eons of hiding and surviving. Her fine ears, delicately leaf shaped, were pricked for any sound, her slate grey eyes wide for any movement. She was too close to a settlement of the two-legged ones for her comfort and she would not be taken unawares while she hunted.<BR><BR>Her bare feet felt their way silently without disturbing the loose shale on the rocky outcrop. She took careful aim and with a sharp exhalation the dart flew. It found its mark as she knew it would. The rabbit barely squealed for the paralyzing toxin Sfâtha had painstakingly milked from the desert asp worked quickly. She picked it up and made her silent way back to the deep crevice that afforded her a view of her surroundings – she could not know that the Lossoth people did not often come here, for it was too desolate of forage and of prey. She eased herself through the narrow opening into the shadows. It was a squeeze few others could have managed but there was little meat on her bones.<BR><BR>Safely hidden, she set to work on the rabbit with her knife, expertly skinning and gutting it – ensuring the liver came out whole as the asp’s toxin always made it bitter - and boning it on a flattish rock. Finally, she patiently sliced the flesh into paper thin fillets. Using the flint from her pouch, she built a small fire at the very back of the nook over which she half smoked, half cooked the fillets. They were not quite raw when she ate them hungrily, dousing the fire as soon as her meat was done. She could not afford to keep it alight despite its welcome heat; she had learned over the eons that it always attracted the two-legged ones.<BR><BR>She shivered, a fleeting instant when her body’s animal reflexes overcame the deeply ingrained caution that ruled her, but it was cold here in the north. Many moons she had walked, following the great river, hiding, avoiding the settlements by circling far out of her way. She had still a quite a journey to reach her goal - the icy waters of the northern Forochel beyond Forodwaith, as close as it was possible to get to the place of her ancient suffering. Why was she here? The question did not truly form in her mind, but there was an animal restlessness about her, fighting still against the urge that drew her north.<BR><BR>Sfâtha hugged herself for warmth, wrapping arms briefly around her knees then running lean, long fingers through her white hair to push the tufts out of her eyes. The soft skins she wore, finely tanned albeit the garment was crudely constructed, were designed for the warm southern lands. The chill wind caused the fine hairs to stand on her bare arms and legs. The garment was scant to ensure unimpeded movement, being little more than a primitive suede shift with a fur pouch and scabbard tied at the waist with tanned animal gut. <BR><BR>She had taught herself much in the ages since Morgoth had released her, living alone and far from inhabited places, but the civilised and refined arts which she learned in her youth before the Valar sent up the sun she had forgotten; indeed, even in the furthest reaches of her mind all that was left to her were the echoes of the tortures and cruel twisting of her mind and fëa in that darkness. She was ignorant of how much had been erased; ignorant of how much had been hidden; ignorant of the Door.<BR><BR>For many years after her meaningless release, somehow surviving, alone, lost, terrified, savage as an untamed beast, she had thought she had been actually created by Morgoth in his black pits. She had come to know it was not so, but there was no awareness yet in her of who or what she was before Morgoth. <BR><BR>Perhaps he had been inspired to cruelty by her refined features, fine-boned, delicate, even fragile. She had been a toy, his play-thing, and he crafted her to be a key to his far-sighted revenge. She became Sfâtha – “crawling thing” - unknowing, unfeeling, a fall so low and so distant from her noble origins that three ages of the world later, she still did not know herself. And she feared all; all that walked on two legs or on four. <BR><BR>She wrapped her arms tightly about her knees again, bundling close against the cold. She was homesick for the desert; it had become the only place she knew in the vast loneliness. She missed the heat of it and the evocative hiss of the sand blown on the wind, the ever-present sussuration of the waves, the salt on her lips. Her face buried in her knees, she felt the animal urge for the familiar and the safe. Her hand was already in her pouch, reaching for the crude reed pipe she had crafted which allowed her, with the breath of her body, to make the sounds of home, when she heard it. She froze to stillness.<BR><BR>It was a sudden sound out in the gathering darkness. A small sound, inconspicuous perhaps to ears less used to isolation. An unnatural sound for this desolate place.<BR><BR>Sfâtha wanted to melt into the stone and slate and dark that surrounded her, safe in her little niche until it went away - but what was the sound? It called to her loneliness. She moved toward the entryway to her hiding place, though her instincts screamed silently against doing so. Her thin body unfolded itself as she moved towards the sound that had beckoned and warned at the same time. <BR><BR>There it was again, beyond the rocks, just there, almost beyond hearing. Stealthily, silently her feet moved as her reluctant animal instinct gave way to the inexplicable need to satiate her curiosity. It outweighed the heavy burden of fear.<BR><BR>Her body inched out, peering down over the edge of rock to see the maker of the sound. The figure was a mere black silhouette, a two-legged one facing slightly away from her. The head was in complete shadow and her elven sight could not make out any features. She watched the figure in mesmerized silence, famished for the sight of it, straining her neck beyond her hiding place in the shadow of the rock. The robed figure was unmoving, infinitely patient.<BR><BR><em>Approach, Sfâtha; you may approach. You want to. </em><BR><BR>Did she? The coaxing came not from her will! But her feet moved, not of her volition though she did not prevent them. One silent step, two, closer to the standing figure, still motionless. <em>Move a little towards the rising moon,</em>came a thought, <em>the light of the moon will shine upon the face. One step more and a profile would be visible.</em><BR><BR>Whence came the coaxing?<BR><BR>By ill-fortune – or a fateful slip of her concentration – the shale beneath her right foot gave way and she lost her footing entirely. A shower of pebbles and stones rained down the drop and the figure below her moved instantly to the side. Sfâtha could not save herself; she fell, desperately trying to cling to the scattering shale and rocks, heedless of the bruising or injury to her body from the cruel edges of stone.<BR><BR>It was a fall of only 10 feet or so and Sfâtha was flexible as a cat. Immediately she found her feet, but to no avail for her right ankle had twisted horribly during her fall and would not take her weight. She collapsed to the ground, her face twisted into a rictus of anguish, fear and pain as she whipped out her knife to hold desperately in front of her.<BR><BR>The two-legged one was right before her; she was at his feet. Eyes wide with terror looked up at him yet he smiled mildly at her. Pale of face, seemingly black-haired and black-eyed in the light of the rising moon, there was nothing alarming in him other than he was closer to her than any man had been in three ages of the world. For an instant her curiosity won over her desperation and she searched his face in the moonlight – it had been long since she had looked into a man’s face. It was fair of features – or, at least, the features seemed pleasing enough to her inexperienced eyes.<BR><BR>He seemed not at all surprised to see her.
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Impenitent
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Postby Elendúath » Thu Apr 01, 2004 8:53 am

<BR><BR>She made one or two steps to stretch her legs and looked to the city of Edhellond that was a couple of leagues away; the forest bordering the Ringló was definitely a good place to stay. Close enough to the sea for which the hearts of the Elves had and would always yearn and yet still surrounded by the trees that had almost been part of the life of the Eldar, since their awakening in Cuiviënen in the Age of the Stars; the perfect place indeed. <BR><BR>The she elf turned around and looking down at the man who had laid beside her, smiled; it had been a long time since she had felt such a pleasure. Who would have thought that this could still happen after so many years? It was long since it had awaken more in her than just the desire for it to finish quickly. But then he was no mere man, but one of the rare Noldor who had remained in Middle Earth after the departure of the Golden haired witch. And that had made all the difference for her. His dark hair were tainted in red, which, she thought, was the perfect color for him and his eyes were closed, as if he were sleeping soundly. <BR><BR>But should someone look closely to the Noldo’s face, they would see that the corner of his lips were contorted with pain and fear. And should they look closer to his head, they would see that the red hints were made of blood, flooding from a wound behind his ear, made by a thin blade, but that had gone directly to the brain; nothing could have saved this elf.<BR><BR>Elendúath, as she was sheathing her blade, recalled with an evil delight the events of the past hours and the resistance of the Noldo. There was something that she both hated and liked about the elves who had seen Valinor; they were so arrogant, so sure of their strength when they talked of the Moriquendi and called themselves Elves of the Light that they always felt they would win against any of the elves of the darkness. And yet, that was what made killing them so interesting; unlike Mortals it always took time to make them understand that they would die and that before they would beg for their lives. Their spirit was stronger than that of Men and so they fought longer; but breaking them was then an even more pleasurable experience.<BR><BR>Though she was wearing a hooded cloak, the elf had recognized she was a woman from the way she had hold her blade and he had thought she was just trying to have a lesson in sword fighting; but soon he had realized she wanted to actually fight and maybe kill him. Then he had laughed at her, thinking she was a fool to fight against him. But she had not answered his mockery by words, only by getting closer to touch him every time. And soon he had seen that she would not be easy to beat; yet he had continued for he was sure that he would win. But she had proved to be the fiercest opponent he had ever fought against in his long life. Her silence had disturbed him; she had fought as if they only were some playing some childish game, though it was not. She had seen with an evil pleasure the elf abandoning his arrogant voice, and soon his face showing some deep concern; he was not sure anymore. <BR>And there she had started to win the fight, cause being disturbed in his assurance, the elf had started to make mistakes. He had not seen some of her feints and she had wounded him a couple of times, though never to kill him; she had wanted to see fear in his eyes before she would send him to the void. After some time he had understood he could not win and he had lost hope, which had, surprisingly, given him more strength to parry and attack her. But he had attacked to quickly and she had brought him down bringing her boot on his blade to prevent him from using it. <BR><BR>For a moment the blade had moved under her heel – like a rabbit would try to escape the grip of a hawk – as its owner tried to free it from her grasp. But she had increased her weight on the blade to stop it and it had broken under the pressure exerted by both of them. Consequently the dark haired elf was laying on the ground unarmed as his blade had broken and as he looked up to her, she saw what she had wanted; the realization of the elf that this dark hooded woman would be the one to kill him. She had kneeled upon his chest and removed her hood and set her eyes in his and now fear distorted his face, as if he had seen death itself. <BR><BR>Her tongue ran on her lips pleasurably as she recalled his shiver of fear and the change in his voice when he had talked again, when, eventually he had asked her to spare him; she had won then and the rest was all but formalities. The act of killing itself had never really been her favorite part, and only once in all her long life serving the darkness the strike to kill had been like reaching the skies in the embrace of a lover, but that was a long time ago, when Melkor still ruled over the dark forces of this earth.<BR><BR>She abandoned the body where it was; if the faith of that elf was true he did not need any tomb since – from what she knew – his feä was already in the halls of Mandos and he would be provided with a new body should he want too. And she was not to loose time which such trivialities; if the Noldo was here that probably meant that there were others, and they were the only interesting preys since the end of the war. Under the protection of the Numenorëan, people had forgotten what it was like to be threatened and fear was visible in their eyes almost as soon as a sword was drawn; stupid creatures. Yet, she was walking towards Edhellond - where Mortals were crawling like ants that she only wished to walk on - when something in the wind made her stop; suddenly it changed. The soft breeze that had been blowing from the sea disappeared and a strong wind took its place, coming from the East. The scent of the foaming waters was replaced by that of the trees of Ithilien; and the wind was cold, like one announcing death. <BR><BR>She stopped tense, all her senses in alert, listening, looking to all possible details, like an animal that has heard the sound of a prey and is about to attack. The wind was carrying words… no it was more like a sound but one she had heard already; or at least one which was similar to that she had heard long ago when the darkness had gathered again. The call seemed to grow louder as if it had been looking for her and was now delivering its message to the one which it was destined to; she closed her eyes as her all body was listening to it: <em>"Come"</em>, it said. When her eyes opened they were lit with a cold pleasure and if anyone – should that someone be the simplest mind of this world – had passed by and saw the light in the elf’s eyes, he would have known that something was amiss. In her eyes, this woman was carrying the lust for chaos, darkness and war. And though he feet were first carrying her towards Edhellond, she turned away from the sea and took the path that would bring her closer to the land where she actually belonged; the darkness and for now they were in Ithilien.<BR><BR>
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Postby Rhowaín » Thu Apr 01, 2004 11:39 am

Through the swaying trees the late morning sun shone rays of light on the people gathered and on the stones randomly scattered over the field. The ground was dusty, but with green knollsof grass here and there where the shoes of people hadn’t trodden. <BR><BR>Not far from the centre of the field a small group, all of them clad in black or grey tones, stood silently around a grizzled standing stone while one man spoke, with his eyes closed, of a “better world for Shamus.” A few women with worn out faces nodded at these words of promise and looked almost as if they envied the man who now lay in the ground. <BR><BR>“Now is the last opportunity for us to speak to our dear friend before he departs to a place where he will be happy for evermore and reunited with family and long lost friends. Let his passing be encouraged by one of your kind words.”<BR><BR>But as none came forward the speaker shrugged. “Or not,” he mumbled. <BR><BR>Before long the silent ceremony was done. Some returned home and had only come to pay the old man their last respects. Others remained to share their grief, for these times were times of confusion and sadness. Shamus was not the first who had died recently.<BR><BR>A bit further away from the gathered group stood a young man who had just straightened his head after a respectful bow to the last resting place of the man and he now tucked a few of his straying blonde strands behind his ears. Small groups of passers by shot him enquiring looks. He was a stranger here. He moistened his lips which felt dry because of the dusty air while he tried to explain to himself how he got here in the first place. Had he been too foolish again?<BR><BR>Back in the streets of Edoras he was pulled aside by his father, a man he hardly knew, who gave him a short message: “Rhowaín, an uncle of mine died, lovely chap will miss him terribly..” Here his father’s lips had curled with a smile as if he remembered old memories between his uncle and him, perhaps a fishing trip or a victorious day in hunting season. “Well he died like I said and left me his house. I do not need it.” Rhowaín had rolled his eyes; of course he didn’t need it. The man was a rich merchant; he had everything a man could dream of! “If ya want it then ride to Ithilien for his funeral and ask for the deeds.” With that said the merchant had let go of the rider’s shoulder and turned around the corner disappearing out of sight, leaving Rhowaín utterly confused and surprised in the street. He had never addressed Rhowaín in public before, let alone let him in on family issues and now he was asked to pay the last respects to a man he didn’t even know?!<BR><BR>‘It’s still family’, he had tried to convince himself while shrugging, and the thought of a house in Ithilien didn’t sound so bad either. And so Rhowaín left for the realm of Gondor the very next day, taking only a few provisions for the road and his regular pack with him, with clean clothes, blankets and some weapons and tools. <BR><BR>So here was visiting his great uncle for the first and the last time and Rhowaín suddenly felt like a vulture. He knew he wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t for the house. He stepped aside letting the others who had remained pass by. He ignored the frowns and the whispers as he noticed the man who had lead the ceremony. A tall somewhat bony faced man now desperately tried to stop the drops of sweat from running down his brow with a piece of cloth. Perhaps he knew who Rhowaín had to turn to for these deeds. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his dark grey woollen coat he approached the speaker who was now giving following orders to three men were heavily leaning on shovels and didn’t seem to care much about the authoritative tone the speaker used in his voice. <BR><BR>“Excuse me sir.” Rhowaín began and he tapped the man gently on the shoulder. “I wonder if you could help me.”<BR><BR>Started, the man spun around and nodded hastily “Them workers never pay me any respect, they forget who’s paying their fees I tell you! Yes yes, what is it fellow?” <BR><BR>“I was told to enquire about the deeds to Shamus’ house.” And he gave a nod in the direction of the grave. He eyed the man who was again busy furiously fighting the drops of sweat. “Ah yes, relative are you then? The only one who showed up.” <BR><BR>With a frown Rhowaín looked at the fading sight of the group that left last. What about them? Are they not relatives then?”<BR><BR>The man sniggered” They? Oh no, you don’t know your family member very well do you. How can I put it eloquently….Shamus was an old scam, always gambling and loosing. Got him in some nasty situations. Most of those people he owed a lot of money to, they’ll be looking for a scapegoat you know.” <BR><BR>Rhowaín swallowed. He knew this was too good to be true, inheriting a home in a quiet village. He sighed inwardly and promised his father he’d get even with him for this. “I just need those deeds. I am not planning on being anybody’s scapegoat.” He replied forcefully “Now where can I go?”<BR><BR>The speaker nodded as he tucked away his cloth. He apparently had given up the fight against the drops and nodded. “Alright young man I didn’t mean anything by it, and look no further for them deeds. They’re in my pocket for safe keeping, wasn’t sure if someone would claim them.” <BR><BR>Suppressing a grin Rhowaín held out his hand. The man had hoped he could turn the place into his own private office perhaps. He hadn’t thought of distant family to drop by and claim his private goods.<BR><BR>After being given the parchments and a direction Rhowaín was well on his way to his new home. The house wasn’t far away - it lay on the border of the village and was no more than a ten minute walk from the graveyard. <BR><BR>Holding his faithful grey by the reigns he stared up at what was suppose to be the house. The grey colour looked old and showed the many layers of paint.The little garden-a spit of land with a fence surrounding it- was nothing more but soil and some dead flowers and remains of plants. It sure didn’t help the ramshackle look of the house. <BR><BR>“Well it sure survived the test of time.” He mumbled while shaking his head at the moss that was growing out of the grooves on both sides of the building. The man had called it ‘antique’, Rhowaín simply called it the remains of a pile of bricks.<BR><BR>After tying his mount to the unsteady fence Rhowaín finally opened the front door after he finally dared to have a look at the inside of this ruin. A fuggy smell filled his nostrils and he sniffed a few times and tried to breathe through his mouth so the stench would be less. Unfortunately it didn’t help much. Shrugging it off Rhowaín threw his pack near a small wooden table as he looked around. <BR><BR>A fairly large room with a large wooden table and chairs, one sofa with frayed pillows covered in dust. There were some doors missing from the cubboards in the kitchen and the tap in the bathroom was rusty and seemed to have trouble giving actual clean water. The bedroom was the only place that looked in a good state he soon found out as he entered his sleeping quarter. The soft bed with cool sheets and two thick feather pillows sure looked appealing at this moment. The window was bursted and there were no curtains. His ‘uncle’ hadn’t cared much for his privacy apparently. <BR><BR> A little discouraged by the state his house was in Rhowain let himself sink on to the bed, letting his head lay on one of the soft pillows. A faint smile appeared with the softness of the bed beneath his weight. At least one thing in this house was not falling apart.<BR><BR>“This is going to be hard work.” He mumbled to the cracks in the grey ceiling and he let out a deep sigh. The cracks were the last thing he saw before the rider drifted off to a deep sleep, wearied by this dissapointment and the long ride.
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Postby Hades » Sat Apr 10, 2004 6:01 am

It was like a dance. Like a last dance, when the young maid understands that the handsome stranger is maybe not as friendly and charming as she had thought. He could walk in her memories almost like over an open field, share them all, seek in the moments of her life, that had brought her to their encounter. The physical distance did not matter any more, once he had found the entry into her mind, the door was always there, somewhere waiting for him. She must be cold, wherever she was, cold like stone, cold and dead like the thoughts that Hades sent to her. His thoughts –and his memories, those which he had buried under centuries of hatred. <BR><BR>Memories of Numenor. He could almost see the island of gift again, the sun rising over the peeks of Westerneese, when the voice of the herald was echoing in the morning over the port of Ròmenna while the first rays of sunlight were shimmering on the clear surface of the water. This land of perfect beauty, the Valar had stolen it from him, his home, the only place to which he would go back if he could. And the traitors who had made his island fall, their descendants still lived in this boring, hideous copy called Middle Earth from where he could not escape. They would have to pay now, pay for betraying their country and calling themselves faithful and true Numenoreans! They were nothing but puppets in the hands of jealous elves, eager to doom the isle. The elves.. They should pay too. <BR><BR>Memories of the Easterlings… Could she hear in her deathlike sleep the voices of the crowd as he had heard it, the words that they were screaming. He remembered the joy to see them move to every thought of his mind, to see them slaughter wife or mother at will. He could almost feel the thick liquid of blood running over his fingers in his memories. <BR><BR>All this he shared with Alandriel – just as much as he hid to her. No memories of the fear in his victim’s eyes when they saw his face or what was left of it. No thought for Sauron whose arrogance had failed him in the end, whereas the creature that he had thrown from his side, outlived his realm to rise in strength where none expected him. Alandriel… Did she only know why the centre of the storm had closed in over her, why she found herself in the eye of the cyclone? <BR><BR>But in this state, beyond the futile pleasure of torturing her with nightmares, she was of no use for him. She had to live, to come close to him, to give in, slowly. But first of all, she had to live. It was time to free her from his grasp – oh not entirely, but enough to make it only a shadow on her memory, one he could let grow, slowly. So she could recover physical strength, be healthy enough to travel and come to him. All the other pieces on his chessboard were already on their place, ready to play their part. It was only a question of time now; until the game would start and each pawn would play the role he intended it for. <BR><BR>And to place the pieces of his game, they needed security – or at least something that looked like it. So, finally within hours, spring invaded Ithilien. The vague of cold seemed over and the flowers were blossoming, quicker than they used to as if they wanted to catch up with the lost time. Hades found an abandoned house and took his quarters there, but even if he was sometimes walking openly in the streets of Ithilien, he held his wrath and hatred inside himself to give the weak humans what they needed most: the illusion of safety. Of course, he could have easily murdered or chased a family from their house, lived there, and dissipated wealth while appreciating comfort. But then, the funerals might have delayed the wedding in the name of another of those empty human values: decency… His universe had no place for such a value, but he had to count with it, as long as he wanted to play with men. Although, he doubted it: at the last service of his last victim, hardly anybody had shown up and the boy whose name he had forgotten like the one of the woman had been the only to cry. Forgetting is easier than remembering. <BR><BR>But the merrier they would prepare now the great feast of a member of the royal family, the deeper they would fall, the more they would fear – and the more pleasure was to get for him- if chasing the ultimate emptiness and despair for moments can be called pleasure. It would be his feast, after all, a welcome for his allies whom he could feel approaching. Darkness was rising in all parts of Middle Earth and coming together here. <BR><BR>Not all pieces of the puzzle were chosen, and some had fallen into his lap without intention. Some night, somewhere behind the veil where he did not hear any more like the human he had been ages ago, he heard a voice singing, a full and beautiful baritone voice. His thin lips formed something that was like a smile – he had recognised it, a memory from this festival where he had stirred up a little wasp nest of partying bards. He could not remember the Bard’s name; for names were meaningless for him, but he remembered the pathetic seeming victory he had given him. Maybe this bard would think he could defeat Hades! Another illusion for the weak mind of a doomed man. Another chance for the fallen Numenorean to prove his value. <BR><BR>Not all pieces of the puzzle were ready, but Hades still knew that they existed, slowly approaching and that they all would be in place for the final game. Soon enough, a trail of blood, death and tears would lead over Middle Earth to him, and those whom he could use should be rewarded with whatever they would desire – or whomever they would claim. When he was walking in the streets, sometimes so close to people that they could have touched him if only they had been strong enough to overcome their own fear to see him, he heard some rumours. One was speaking of a murdered elf, which was so rare that the news had crossed all of Middle Earth – and Hades felt as if a smell of fire and ashes lay in the air and he knew that this was true and somewhere, someone was approaching quickly. <BR><BR>But not only the village had to hum in wedding preparations, he had to get ready too. And as much as he had enjoyed the grasp on Alandriel’s mind, it was time to release it now, to let her take her breath again, for however brief it was. She could wake up now and feel free. And he could test his power on men, on their weak minds of which he understood so much and so little at the same. He was more often outside, just watching and listening than he had been in centuries, yet letting the villagers untouched, unharmed, unprepared for the celebration that he expected just as much as they did. <BR><BR>The house, which he had chosen, was empty and dusty, and although unworthy of what he wanted to become, it was perfect for his actual purpose: Lull their fears, make them dull, make them weak. Make them ready to fall. One day, a young man had moved in, disappointed apparently, tired and carrying his own share of demons with him. First, Hades let him arrive without giving a sign of his presence, and sure that among the spider webs of his unwanted heirloom the youngster had just seen another shadow. Then, when the man was sleeping, Hades bent over him, studying, scruting his face. It was astonishing how fair humans could be, especially in their sleep, when they were unaware of their own beauty. The young man’s face was harmonious, without any trace of age or grief beyond the usual. For a moment, Hades remembered when he had been a human, so long ago, at which others did look, tall and fair as he was, with the dark hair and the grey eyes of the Numenoreans. This one was a Rohirrim, as to be judged by his garment, his flaxen hair and beard and his beautiful horse. He knew so little of this people, which was not an echo of his isle of doom, but born and bread in Middle Earth. And he decided to let him life, yet for a while, if he did not disturb his plans and presence, and eventually the Rohirrim could serve him, a trainee for his will of slow corruption or a reward for one of his future allies – or just a hostage… <BR><BR>But in his sleep, Rhowaìn knew not that he was watched, nor knew Erinhue that he was expected or Telemnar that he was not the only to prepare his wedding. And Hades did not know of the Gondorian Knight, navigating on the river, or of Nindalf and his business, or of Taarisilme and his newly met companion on the road. <BR><BR>And of other missing pieces of the puzzle, none of them knew yet.
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Postby Nindalf » Sun Apr 18, 2004 6:20 am

“Papers” muttered the bored looking guard. He stood before the clumsy barrier across the Men Harad, his dusty countenance proportional to the sullen grin his comrades held in their tired little shack. Nindalf sighed, and held out his travel permit.<BR><BR>“And do these three travel under your care Neendilf?” the guardsman asked, squinting at the ornate writing.<BR><BR>“Yes trooper…err, I am sorry. You have not given me your name” <BR><BR>The guard looked up from his reading, and stared at the trader and met his cold friendless eyes. “Why would you need to know my name?” he said sullenly.<BR><BR>“If you read the document, you will see that I can requisition members of the King’s Army to escort me in Ithilien should I fear my cargo is in danger. I just wish to know the name of my potential travelling companion.” Nindalf stared at the man, who squinted back at him. He looked at the guard, who sighed.<BR><BR>“I could take you as far as the Calm-Bridge, after that you will need to find a new rider as my jurisdiction ends. Or I could have you spend half a day filling out requisition forms. There is no danger on the road today, and a caravan passed through half an hour ago. You will be safe with them. Or you can wait for me to find the forms. Your choice trader”<BR><BR>Nindalf smiled at the man, and bowed “I will join the caravan. Thank you for your time.” Smiling he threw a wineskin at the man. It was poor travel wine, but the six dusty men on a way station in the middle of the road would appreciate it. Besides, this happened every time.<BR><BR>The Calm-Bridge was named for the raging torrent that flowed beneath it. In years past bitter fighting between the Haradrim and Gondorians had cost many lives, but this was the only place to cross the river. It was a small stone bridge, and always bottlenecked. As Nindalf drove his cart close he could see the mess where a north and south bound caravan had met and spilled either side of the walkway.<BR><BR>“Now you sure this is the best route Nindalf” Muttered Erinhue from his perch.<BR><BR>“I had thought you asleep bard” said the trader roughly. He snorted, and pointed ahead “At least we get to meet up with that caravan.”<BR><BR>The group on the south of the bridge was mixed. Three carts similar to Nindalf’s, a pair of mules, oxen weighed down with crates and two camels as well as a muddled hoard of men, and others. Grimacing, Nindalf stepped down and walked to where the two caravan masters were arguing.<BR><BR>“-AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!” bellowed a hulking man in dark green. He walked with a limp, and his scabbard was worn, but cared for. He wore an angry snarl on a tanned face flushed with crimson. He was facing a slight pale looking man, his clothing northern, his face as angry and cold even under a thin miasma of sweat and the first hints of sunstroke.<BR><BR>“Now now Cardilian, you should not be so rude to our northern visitor” said Nindalf as he walked up. The larger man turned and took a deep breath-<BR><BR>“Nindalf. When all the lights of the heavens go out, you always arrive to blot out the moon. How are you my old friend?”<BR><BR>“I am well Cardilian. But I must hurry north, what is the issue here?”<BR><BR>“Your friend here found my party halfway across the bridge, insisted on not waiting and pushed them back. I of course refuse to let him pass” said the Northerner. “I am Gorlim Willow of Bree, trader in fine weaponry” The man bowed, his eyes constantly on Nindalf’s. Who smiled. <BR><BR>At first.<BR><BR>A day later, as the caravan neared one of the small nameless villages that clung to the Men Harad like lice to a dog they saw the first of the war beggars. Tiny battered forms, missing arms, legs or ears, some still clinging to the tattered remnants of black tabards. Once proud symbols of the red eye or the twisted moon had been ripped away or painted out so that in the sun they blazed like the cries of a lost youth. And under the sun these veterans - forgotten, discarded, wasted and universally loathed - waited in the burning sunlight that caused them pain. They had crept from the holes in the mountains or pits in the hills of Ithilien, hoping for scraps of bread or meat from passing trade. The villagers threw rocks at them, the Gondorians hunted them like vermin and their own people cannibalised the dead.<BR><BR>Orcs; Saurons forgotten army. Not everyone had died in the slaughter at Morannon.<BR><BR>“I look forward to the day when we see the last of these vermin” muttered Cardilian.<BR><BR>“The rangers are thinning the herd, and besides, they can be of use” smirked Gorlim. Nindalf turned to look at the Northerner they had invited to join them. The Northerner had weapons to sell, and between the two of them, they had arms deals in this region pretty well covered. Gorlim had taken to wearing a hat at Nindalf’s suggestion, and was better for it. But had he known what the man was like the suggestion would not have been made. Cardilian looked behind them at the cart the Northerner had brought. It was covered, but the sounds of its two hulking guardians could be heard as they snored.<BR><BR>Nindalf turned to look at Cardilian, who shrugged. He wanted no part in it and had told Nindalf he would head west along the next road they found. So he turned his eyes to his guards; to Erinhue who was a singer and to Otari who lied about even his name. He could not rely on either. So he looked back at Gorlim.<BR><BR>“You know, you will never get those two Uruks past the guards at Osgiliath. You can smell them from here”<BR><BR>“Well that is the least of your problems Nindalf of Pelargir. Because unless my two guards get into the house of my lord Telemnar, I will haunt you down and drown you in your own offal”. The Northerner’s smile was not pleasant, nor was they way he cast bread to the broken Orcs as he watched Nindalf.<BR><BR><BR><BR>Later that night, as the campfire burnt down to am amber glow, Gorlim awoke suddenly. His bed was soaked, his eyes covered, his arms bound out to the side, his legs splayed.<BR><BR>“Wha-“ he tried to call, but a rough rag was stuffed in his mouth, and a hard fist struck his temple making him dizzy.<BR><BR>“Do not speak Gorlim of Bree, do not cry out to the night you have fostered. It is too late” said a voice he recognised, but he could not place. “Drink deep of the darkness you have rejoiced in and hope that your soul will be accepted in Mandos’ citadel.” With that, the blindfold was torn away and Gorlim saw, inches from his head the terrified face of one of the Uruk Hai. Its mouth was stuffed but the fetid breath still hissed out. A knife flashed out, slashing the Uruk’s throat, causing black blood to spill into Gorlim’s shrieking mouth. The knife slashed again, and the sodden gag fell letting the death bellow of the Uruk split the air, before it died.<BR><BR>Gorlim lay terrified. He looked out of the corner of his eye at the three figures. They were dressed in black robes like the acolytes wear, but on each breast was a single four pointed white star. Through the orc’s blood and his own tears Gorlim saw one of the men bend close and whisper into his ear.<BR><BR>“May Mandos have mercy for you transgression, and may you find repentance in the blessing of his Halls” Then there was intense pain, a burning sensation across his neck. Then, nothing.<BR><BR><BR><BR>“So did the trader move on in the night?” Said Erinhue next morning as Nindalf cooked breakfast. Nindalf looked up, and rolled his eyes. <BR><BR>“Yes, he must have decided to try and take the market before we got to Minas Tirith.” In the pan bacon sizzled and the scent filled the camp. “Damn him, we were going to go in and corner the market once I had delivered to Lord Telemnar. He didn’t even tell his travelling companions, they will stay with us. Damn fool.” Nindalf turned back to the bacon, heedless of the look Cardilian was giving him, or the distant plume of scavenger birds who feasted in the early morning light.<BR>
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Postby TheDean » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:20 am

There was an ethereal feeling to the forest as Uliandor walked towards his little house. Where once was a violent summer storm, now calmness prevailed. He could hear the gently tapping of raindrops from the leaves to the floor and the prevailing smell of putrid mustard stone. The ground was littered with plants and bushes in flower, bringing in an array of yellows and blues to the scene. As he walked on the dirt-trodden path, he disturbed a pile of damp leaves and earth which released an earthy and rich smell. He signed. Living here had brought him peace…here in his forest, strangely comforting and familiar. <BR><BR>Soon, the path led to a small clearing by a river and a group of massive ancient oak trees, whose trucks were solid and round, covered in lichen that varied from vivid green to rust red. Amidst all this, one tree stood out. It was here that Uliandor made his home – a living, hollowed-out tree. A gift of Nature he thought. He smiled and exhaled the cold air. Suddenly, he heard a small crunch and turned his head around, though he could not see who had made the noise. The forest here was dark and all the greens and browns mottled together made it hard to see anything. He narrowed his eyes and soon began to make out a figure moving towards him, trying not to be seen or heard.<BR><BR>As Uliandor continued to watch, the figure emerged from the forest. Ah…young Ghen-Rado-Ker. He had not seen the youngster in many moons and was surprised to see him here. On the whole, there was never much communications between the Druaden and himself, except in times of danger but none had come to him since the attack of the Orcs eighty years past. The young man walked towards him, slowly and stopped before Uliandor and lowered his head.<BR><BR>“Greeting from the Clan-Chief”.<BR><BR>Uliandor smiled and said, “My blessing upon your clan and a good ‘morrow to you as well. What brings you here?”<BR><BR>Ghen-Rado-Ker narrowed his eyes and slowly said, “Last night we held the dance of the rain. The shamans danced in honour of the clouds and were sacrificing the lamb when the Great-Shaman cried out.” He stopped…almost unwilling to continue and Uliandor saw fear and uncertainness in his eyes. He bade the young man to continue with his tale.<BR><BR>“Ummm…the liver was blackened and poisoned. The elders said that this was a bad sign…that hunting will be bad this year and that our livestock might not fare well. They speak of a dark power arising, of seeking dominion. Why would anyone want dominion over life? Is it not better to exist alongside each other? Thus, I was sent to you, to see if you know what all this means”. With this, Ghen-Rado-Ker looked up in expectation.<BR><BR>Uliandor narrowed his eyes and wondered at what he had heard. Over the last few days, he had been feeling unsettled and his sleep had often been broken by images. He remembered…<BR><BR>= = = = = = = = = =<BR><BR>...as darkness covered all. Suddenly a beam of light appeared and the great Tree of Gondor was illuminated. It lay uprooted, and desecrated. Before it, an alter had been erected and it was covered in blood. In the middle lay a still beating heart. Quickly, images formed…of burning cities, of looting and rapine, of utter desolation. <BR><BR>It faded and before Uliandor rose a figure cloaked in mystery. It extended its hands, as if to embrace him and in a voice filled with sadness and despair bade him go to the city…to leave his hermit-like life and to seek the defeat of what was to come. The figure began singing a song of loss and pain and Uliandor remembered…<BR><BR>= = = = = = = = = = <BR><BR>Uliandor’s eyes suddenly opened. Could it be? Was it she? But so long had passed…so many suns, moons and stars since he had heard that voice. He looked to the east and the forest faded…<BR><BR>= = = = = = = = = = <BR><BR>Uliandor sat amidst a grove of trees and was playing the “guida”, enjoying the peace that prevailed over the island. He was singing a song that he had dedicated to the fire-maiden, a song of passion and desire. Suddenly he heard a crashing sound and he quickly stood up, running out of the grove into the wider world. He gasped in horror at what he was seeing…the island began trembling…the sea was rising in anger and he could see fires…the great fires…destroying everything in their path. Screams and shouts were coming everywhere and he saw the warriors rush towards what sounded like confrontation. He dropped his instrument and as he was about to start running, he heard a piercing shout. He looked up…<BR><BR>= = = = = = = = = = <BR><BR>Watching the old man, Ghen-Rado-Ker wondered what was happening. He was seeing Uliandor’s face undergo so many emotional changes. As he was wondering whether to enquiry after him, Uliandor spoke:<BR><BR>“I do not have answers to the questions you seek. However, I too have become concerned at the evil signs that are appearing. There is merit in discovering more about this evil that is coming. Tell your leader that I shall endeavor to discover the truth and shall keep you abreast through dream messages. Now, I must go and prepare. Farewell”.<BR><BR>And with this abrupt farewell, Uliandor arose and went into his dwelling. He went to his herb-covered table and swiftly began collecting various medicinal extracts he felt might be useful in his forthcoming journey. He placed them within a wooden box which he took to the bag that lay open on his bed along with some other objects which he carefully placed inside. He closed the bag, and picked up his mace. It felt weird to bear it once more. He stared at it for some time as he remembered its forging – a gift it was from the most unlikely of sources. He placed it behind his back and with nervous smile, he left his home.<BR><BR>As he stood by the river, he glanced around, taking in the nature and the peace that prevailed. It would be a long time before he felt so at peace again. He whistled in a deep bass voice and before long, a pony emerged from the glade. It was black pony, with a rich white mane and quizzing eyes. It walked towards him and nuzzled Uliandor’s hand when it reached its master. The old man smiled and fed the pony a lump of sugar he had in his pocket.<BR><BR>“Come my friend…it is time I broke with my past and leave this place, for a challenge awaits me and I must be ready to face it.” <BR><BR>He smiled once more, and mounted the pony. He breathed deeply and bade the animal move. As they were moving, Uliandor settled back in comfort, and began to drift away. The pony, confident in its journey, began to trek along the worn out path, with enjoyment and confidence not shared by his master. <BR><BR>From afar, Ghen-Rado-Ker stood watching as the duo made their way out of the forest. He grunted and wondered what the old man hoped to accomplish…with this in mind, he turned back and started walking towards his village.<BR><BR><BR><strong>Darkness was coming...hoping to cover Middle-Earth once more</strong><BR><BR><strong>Light prepared to meet the oncoming danger.</strong><BR><BR>Yet neither side had realised that a new player had entered the stage.
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Postby Culanir » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:36 pm

The harbour was remarkably bustling, considering its limited size. Cormorants wheeled screeching in excitement and revelling in the stench of fish which emanated from the barrels on the quayside; salmon throve upriver in these renewed days and the price was good for those fisherman who took the trouble to preserve their catch with smoke for the delight of the delicate palettes at court. A fair number of merchants stood on guard beside their trade carts, protecting goods from the temptation of slippery wharf fingers. <BR><BR>Undercurrents of tension forked like lightening between the rival gangs of dock-workers. The ship repairs yard downstream had been devoid of work for the past fortnight and, so early in the season, the ghosts of hunger were already burning brightly in their eyes. Each was hoping there would be work flowing off the boat from Pelargir.<BR><BR>As soon as the rope had been cast ashore and fastened and the plank laid across for ease of transit, Culanir gathered up his pack and ambled onto dry land. He went relatively unnoticed against the vigorous backdrop of sailors' calls and the hastening to unload. The knight had travelled light, with coin to spur his way in place of a mount of his own, so his first port of call was naturally the nearest inn where he hoped to inquire about horse hire.<BR><BR>Pushing open the door of the 'Wizard's Web', Culanir was met by a sea of faces, all turned towards him with the same vacant look of hostility on each. If this was what it meant to be 'home' he was wondering why he had come. Shifting his pack uncomfortably on his shoulder, the soldier pushed through the crowd towards the publican, who leant resentfully on his elbows across the bar.<BR><BR>"You want something". It was a statement rather than a polite question.<BR><BR>"Do you know of anyone with a horse for hire?" Culanir replied, sounding more relaxed than circumstances would advise.<BR><BR>"No, nothing in these parts Mister" the landlord sighed, wagging his stumpy beard. The echoes of "No" came at Culanir from all sides, as though he were shouting futilely into a cavern. <BR><BR>Shrugging he turned to leave, but was halted by the soft sensation of a plucking at his tunic sleeve. The knight turned to look down at the upturned face, being nearly bowled over by the fetid stench of his breath. Involuntarily Culanir recoiled. The stranger grinned up at him, revealing a broken row of yellow teeth.<BR><BR>“I know a man who’d be glad of a few bob to see the back of his horse.”<BR><BR>Culanir obviously looked hesitant, although giving his full attention, so the man went on.<BR><BR>“Oh she’s no donkey. A good enough riding animal these days and during the War did her fair share of military duty”. The look in his eyes dictated that Culanir would be a fool to refuse to inspect her. <BR><BR>The knight’s heart had sunk though. He never rode mares, not even if it were the last horse in Arda would he chose to ride a female beast. Women and their kind were all imbued with the same evil, the same ill luck and he had been warned in his dreams to steer clear. The apparitions in his dreams had been appearing more vividly of late and, ever a superstitious man, he was inclined to heed them. But the small hooded eyes were beckoning and so Culanir swallowed the painful lump of fear in his throat and followed the stranger outside.<BR><BR>“So… why’s she for sale then, if she’s so good?” asked Culanir as the unlikely pair walked side by side down a narrow alley which acted as a cut through to the town’s market place. He was trying his best to make small talk.<BR><BR>“Ain’t got no use for her now” came the unhelpful reply, followed by the pungent odour of what may once have been eggs. <BR><BR>“Why not?” Culanir probed, thinking that it would be less effort trying to spin flax into gold than it was trying to strike up a conversation. <BR><BR>“Ever since his old lady shuffled off her mortal coil”, the man replied, a tone of mock doom inflecting his voice, “he doesn’t need the horse. It were only kept for her to ride, and besides….”, he tailed off.<BR><BR>“Yes?” Culanir stopped and peered at him.<BR><BR>“Well”, the man rubbed his feet together uncomfortably. “It’s bad luck isn’t it. Given that it were the horse as killed her right enough.”<BR><BR>“And so you want to sell me a murdering animal?” <BR><BR>“No… no…” he was backtracking now. “It wasn’t as if the horse actually killed her itself. She just went out one day into the hills and was found two days later, senseless and cold, on the beast’s back.”<BR><BR>They were outside the horse owner’s property now. A fair and substantial stone built merchant’s house, a little knocked around the edges where time and battle had left their scars but with an air of permanence and prosperity that was perhaps more akin to the ancient port of Pelargir than this side of the estuary. <BR><BR>“I’ll leave you here then.”<BR><BR>And before Culanir could say another word, the man from the inn had tugged on the great iron door chain and scrambled off back up the road. There was no opportunity for debate, for the door swung open and Culanir found himself, dusty and travel stained as he was, face to face with a middle aged burgher dressed all in rich black woollen robes. He duly explained himself.<BR><BR>“You wish to look at the animal?” the request came deep and sombre as the grave.<BR><BR>“Indeed. I’m not in the habit of buying horseflesh untried” Culanir replied faintly indignantly. If truth be told, he wasn’t used to buying horseflesh at all. His Countan, left behind in the White City, had been his only true friend and companion through the years of soldiery, though he had known and borrowed other steeds fleetingly along the way. <BR><BR>“Oh but she’s not for sale!” the man told him as he unbolted the stable door.<BR><BR>Culanir blanched, rapidly coming to the conclusion that he was being taken for a ride.<BR><BR>“Truly. I wouldn’t take money for Sindawen. Her curse would pass back through the coin. I should as a matter of fact be paying you for offering to take her off my hands.”<BR><BR>The knight didn’t know what to say. He could hardly mock the old man in his grief. Nor did he feel he could with all honour back out of what seemed to be a foregone deal. “Well the least I can do is give you a token” and he reached for the pouch at his belt with the intention of handing over a least a silver coin or two to ease his own conscience.<BR><BR>But the merchant grabbed Culanir’s hand as the hand grabbed at thin air and both men looked startled at the loose straps of leather thong flapping impotently in the breeze where the purse had previously hung.<BR><BR>“The thieving whoreson of a….. ” Culanir hissed through clenched teeth, his eyes piercing behind him whence the wretch who had led him there had vanished. <BR><BR>“I’m sorry….. so it’s settled” said the merchant, gladly handing over Sindwen’s red leather veins and closing the startled soldier’s finger over them. “May she bring you luck”.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>‘Luck’ Culanir thought to himself as he and his new found lady-friend trotted together in rhythmic harmony down the sandy river-path north-east. He rubbed the chain at the back of his neck, where the heightening sun had made it hot, and then kissed his fingers propitiously before laying them back on Sindwen’s neck.<BR><BR>
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Postby erinhue » Thu Apr 29, 2004 7:29 pm

Dol Amroth. The world was bright with new color when the House of Elitan saw its foundling son return from the wide world. The Mithril Knights had pressed on to Dale and the mission beyond after the battle for LakeTown and the rout of the Red Hammer Dwarfs. When the champagne came to its conclusion and his “goslings” had been fully initiated into the Guild, Erinhue considering the call of duty answered, went South to seek the sea, and home.<BR><BR>The one person he wanted to see was not there when he arrived. Beliran was in Gondor, camped outside Minas Tirith with the Swan Knights awaiting the Prince’s return from an audience with King Elessar. The weary bard remained at home long enough to see his aging foster father and tell the news of all the activity in the North.<BR><BR>The tale was a short one, far shorter than Erinhue was want to tell and to hear it he played little to no part in it at all. Eliran did not always understand this man that was his son in all but blood but he knew the boy that he had been well enough to know that he was troubled. Erinhue would offer only a weak smile and some faint attempt at humor at any innuendo. Direct questioning brought a look of fleeting panic and a hasty change of subject or location. Eliran recognized the haunted look. He had seen it only once, years and years before after poor Hagen had been killed. That once was more than enough and he asked no more questions.<BR><BR>The old man knew that he would leave days before Erinhue came to say good bye. Find your brother he suggested. I will, his son replied but he rode off in the wrong direction. Elrian stood on the roof and watched him out of site, whispering a prayer that Eru help his loved as blood son to find his way.<BR><BR>Struggling with his memory Erinhue calculated that it had been a month since he left the house he had grown up in. There was no comfort for him there. Perhaps Aerin he thought ..but then drove the thought of her from his mind. What right had he to go to her? She had no idea what he was, how could she when he was no longer sure himself? No, he would not go to Aerin nor to any of the friends he had in the West. The Lucky Fortune and all it represented was lost to him now.<BR><BR><em> You are wrong, Bard, but it will be so until you see that for yourself. </em><BR><BR>Agarak was right, some part of him did know that, but that part wasn’t strong enough to fight the darkness and the doubt. Erinhue shrugged off the wise advice and emptied his mug again. The harp complained, again, about his drinking and urged him North, to Minias Tirith, again.<BR><BR>“There’s only one way to drown out all your nagging” Erinhue muttered as he rose from his corner. The tavern hushed to see it and waited to see what the bard would sing. Erinhue had no idea, he only wanted Agarak to go back to its humming and leave him alone and free of its opinion. The way to do that was to sing. A mournful version of “Treebeard’s Lament” was what he planned to sing, but, perversely to his mood, the tune for “ Lilly ProudFoot’s Problem “ came dancing from the strings. The bard sang the cheery tune with the nudge and wink impudence it called for and soon the patrons were blissfully singing along, refreshed and now returned to the high and happy mood of the earlier hour. None of that good spirit touched the Bard.<BR><BR>A full pitcher after he had finished the song, newcomers entered the bar and spoke with the proprietor. The man cast a covert glance in his direction and understanding the silent language of the taverns, Erinhue made the smallest motion of his head to indicate he did not want to be found. <BR><BR>Relieved that he was not about to loose his star attraction, the tavern keeper was full of care and assurance that he would indeed send the bard called Erinhue to Minas Tirith IF he should see him. The man was very pleased, but when the evening melted into night and that drew to its mid point, Erinhue rose from his table in the corner one last time. He shook the tavern keeper’s hand, thanked him for his hospitality, and left the tavern as suddenly and as mysteriously as he had come.<BR><BR>The tune now gently humming at the frindges of his mind was from way back in his childhood. Erinhue was humming it himself when he went to sleep in the open air beneath the stars. He was humming still when he came to the camp site of the traveling merchant who had sent word out for a guardian and guide for his tiny caravan. <BR><BR> The trip to Minas Tirith would not be an arduous journey but it was still better to travel in numbers and perhaps he might do better to try and earn his keep with his wits and knowledge of the wild than with his untrustworthy voice and argumentative instrument.<BR><BR>In the morning Erinhue introduced himself to Nindelf saying he could kill two birds with one stone and get a guard and guide to Minas Tirith and a bard for a royal wedding.<BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Alandriel » Fri Apr 30, 2004 5:26 am

Merciless, Hades had driven her.<BR><BR>~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~<BR><BR>Alandriel fell… into a timeless void, into utter darkness. Yet the fall was not arbitrary. It had one single, cruel purpose: to drive her to a point outside time and space, right into the very core of the web of the great weaver and yet not to be part of it; to be cast out….. to truly see. <BR><BR>And see she did: out of the deep black, myriads of luminous interconnecting strands materialized, pathways of time forking and bending, disappearing into an endless past, weaving constantly changing patters of the now, stretching into infinities of possible futures yet to be. <BR><BR>Her mind reeled at the impact of this immense vastness. There was no way to comprehend. She could only experience.<BR><BR>In all this apparent chaos of luminescent threads there was, however, one strand that stood out and it was along this pathway of light that Hades drove her, mercilessly. He took her through nexus after nexus - cross-points of what had been her existence - forcefully back-tracking her to moments in her past where she had denied herself certain possibilities simply by taking certain actions, or by not taking any action at all.<BR><BR>Realizing her faltering the ancient creature proceeded to uncoil different threads; brutally showing her ways of what could have been; of what should have been.<BR><BR>She saw herself at the side of the man she once had loved, the fantasy she had dared dream of now playing out as a vivid, disparate reality in her mind. Her heart cried out in agony: this is the way it should have been! She …. at Elessar's side!<BR><BR>Hades had found her one weakness to break through the last shreds of her defences. Ruthless he drove deeper into her pain; letting her feel and taste the bliss and love fate had denied her - she had denied herself through her choices.<BR><BR>The anguish was too much to bear. The last of her defences came crashing down. <BR><BR>Dimly she felt her mind being driven ever more backwards, forced to cross innumerable strands threading through countless lives spanning centuries. <BR><BR>She felt violated. But it was even worse than that, for she was the perpetrator, passing where no mortal had ever passed. Whether of her own will or not it was her spirit that broke the unwritten laws of the maker and it was her presence meddling with and defiling the secret and innermost workings of the fabric.<BR><BR>Helpless, Hades dragged her through life after miserable life. They were not her yet they were part of who she was. Image after image slammed through Alandriel with ever increasing speed. <BR><BR>And then, suddenly, the onslaught slowed. Hades had arrived at a point in a past that was so dim as to be hardly recognizable. He dwelt on it, probed, prodded. An island, a mighty empire on many shores….Numenór. <BR><BR>The flow of energy suddenly reversed and she felt being push forward once more, back down the long path from whence she had come; a moment ago? Lifetimes ago? Vast expanses of sand, a battle with nightmarish creatures, and then a woman. Alandriel saw her face clearly for just an instant. It was like looking into a mirror. <BR><BR>The speculum shattered into a myriad of pieces when another face came into focus: a man, dark skinned and with burning eyes like embers……….. feelings, indescribable, overwhelming feelings of love, hate, despair and elation …….. She knew him, just as he knew her – and their emotions became hers.<BR><BR>Just when she thought the core of her being could not withstand the tormenting knowledge and sensations any longer there was a sudden shift as Hades’ grip on her lessened. Desperate beyond desperation she groped for her lifeline, the one thing that still held her to the reality she knew yet would never be the same again. Her body was moved yet she did not know it; nor was she aware that it passed into a different set of hands.<BR><BR>The only thing that held her, made her cling onto the thinning spider-thread that was the bond to her life she would have rather let go, was an echo; the echo of a voice that, by rights, should not have been present: Moujhadin.<BR><BR>She could not let go, she would not let go. Hades’ grip was abating. Somewhere……there was still hope. <BR><BR>Onto that she held, precariously, throughout their desperate flight away from the White City, unaware of anything but that single, feebly pulsating fibre of light. <BR><BR>~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~<BR><BR>"The worst has passed. You are in a safe place now. Darani knows. Her medicine will help you. His hold on you is lessening." <BR><BR>"I must leave. We cannot stay. She cannot stay. I need to take care of her. You are in a safe place now. The Gods will protect you."<BR><BR>Long it took for Moujhadin's words to filter through to her spirit. When they finally did, her lifeline quivered violently. The light almost went out. Noooooo! Alandriel's mind screamed in desperation. Unconsciously, her tormented body responded. Her eyes flew wide open. <BR>That was the beginning. Doorways to this reality slowly unfolded anew. <BR><BR>~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~<BR><BR>Darkness surrounded her spirit; a vast, forsaken emptiness… and one thread of light she held onto. She let go.<BR><BR>But it was too late.<BR><BR>The Eastron had forged a new pathway. One made of shards of pain, of fibres of desolation, of filaments of abandonment – only, in reality, forsaken he had her not. It had been the only way. Bardhwyn's medicine Elora had trickled down the unconscious woman throat steadily worked its magic, droplets of pure light strengthening the bond to life. Days passed; days and nights where Alandriel's spirit slowly regained its strength, finding the way back through the quagmire of bleak memories and sombre premonitions to a reality she neither wanted nor cared about any longer.<BR><BR>~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~<BR><BR>Early morning light streamed through the east facing window of the small chamber. Alandriel stirred, averting her face from the light. A white haired woman, her face creased with countless lines of a long life, dozed nearby on an armchair. A blanket lay at her feet. Hanging on a peg near the shut door, Alandriel recognized her cloak. Clean and mended. With trembling arms she pushed herself upright and swung her legs over the cot. Her head spun.<BR><BR>"You're not strong enough yet to be going anywhere my dear."<BR><BR>Blinking, Alandriel turned her head to face the woman.<BR><BR>Elora smiled: "Welcome back to the living. You had us terribly worried…. especially since you took the last of the medicine only some hours ago. We thought you would never wake."<BR><BR>Alandriel's brow furrowed as much in an attempt to focus better on the woman as in puzzlement. Us? Who was 'us'? What medicine? <BR>'Where am I and who are you' she thought, yet the words would not form.<BR><BR>"You need rest – and proper food. You haven't eaten in days." <BR><BR>Seeing bewilderment clearly painted on her patients face Elora quickly added: "Forgive me, I have been remiss. You probably don't know or don't remember. They brought you here, near Amon Dîn that is, ten days ago." After a short pause she added: "I am Elora from Minas Tirith. I live here with my grand-daughter Mara. We are healers. Don't worry, child, you're in good hands."<BR><BR>Amon Dîn? Alandriel's still foggy mind dwelt on the name until she felt herself being gently pushed back down into the cot.<BR><BR>"You must rest … please. You are very weak." <BR><BR>Alandriel offered no resistance. The woman's gentle face and smile were comforting; besides, she simply had no strength left to object. As her head sunk back on the soft pillow bathed in a pool of light a sharp pain shot through her head. Her eyes snapped shut tight.<BR><BR>"The light bothers you? I'll close the curtains."<BR><BR>Once the room was dimmed Elora re-arranged the cot's covers, tucking a corner here and there. Alandriel's features somewhat relaxed as the pain ebbed away. Elora quietly left the room. Her faint murmur – something about food – washed over Alandriel like gentle waves on a lake's shore. <BR><BR>Some time later, faint cluttering noises disturbed the silence through which she drifted, soon followed by muted sounds of a new voice, higher pitched than the first. A quickly hushed outcry of joy latched onto her consciousness. <BR><BR>'That must be ………' With tremendous effort she forced her mind to concentrate. '……. Mara, Elora's young apprentice. She is happy that I'm not dead yet,' drifted through Alandriel's head. 'Why?' <BR><BR>She opened her eyes and her gaze settled, unfocussed, on a point at the beamed ceiling.<BR><BR>'Why am I here? Why was I not allowed to pass on? What holds me here?' <BR><BR>There was no answer, no thought that would fill the terrible emptiness she felt inside.<BR><BR>'Meltara! Why will you not answer me?' <BR><BR>Her mental cry was in vain. She knew - her mentor's voice had been stilled long ago. Meltara would only appear in her dreams or when she had walked the spirit ways -and then only rarely. Dreaming, walking the spirit ways – she knew what lurked there now. She was afraid – afraid as she had never been before. A violent shiver wrecked her body.<BR><BR>"Bonds of blood are what hold you….."<BR><BR>Her head shot to the side. Renewed pain stabbed and pounded her head as the curtain billowed momentarily in a non-existent breeze. Bright morning light flooded over her face Despite the agony she forced her eyes to remain open. There was nothing there, only the light. The drapery flowed back and soft shadows once more settled over the room. Alandriel blinked.<BR><BR>'Telemnar!!!'
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Postby ElPolloDiablo » Sun May 09, 2004 6:24 pm

Through the frozen north and into the barren lands of Rhudaur, Taarisilme had tracked his prey. Invisible tracks led him on. The voice called to him, never ceasing, never ceasing. At last he had found the one who possessed it. She was very close now... very close... he could see her in his mind, see her as she listened and crept closer to the edge.

The fire flickered and cracked when he added another log, silently calling her forward. Standing, he stepped back, out of the light as her eyes crested the edge of the cliff and fell upon his form now bathed in shadows. Closer she crept as he softly called to her, caressing her mind with gentle waves of prompting. Closer... closer...

The loose shale gave way. She fell to the ground and faster than mortal flesh he was beside her. She could not run now for she was hurt. He did not touch her but knelt before her, her eyes pierced by his gaze. Almost trance-like he held her as he peeled back the layers. Beyond her mind, beyond her flesh. He penetrated her memories, her past... there it was. Hidden, hidden so far down she herself could not know it was there, but there it was indeed.

A smile crept over his lips. Yes, it was there, he could see it, but he could not yet reach it. No.. he needed the power of another to reach it. The power of one who could reach but not see. Nodding, Taarisilme returned the many layers covering it and returned her mind to her. But not entirely to her. He held a sliver of it like a leash he would lead her with. Standing, he turned and retrieved the animal that lay roasting over the fire and threw it to her. Its blood had been drained and he cared nothing for the meat, but he knew she required such things.

Her hand darted out and snatched it where it lay, pulling it close and warily eyeing the surrounding for any hint of danger before taking a few bites and hiding the rest away in a rough pouch. She was an animal. Yet he, too, was a creature. To know her thoughts did not even require his 'sight.'

'Come,' he called her silently. 'Warmth,'. He watched her crawled forward to the fire, never taking her eyes from where he sat, still as stone. Stopping just short of where she truly desired to be, he watched her hold her hands out; watched, taking in every movement, every breath, every flick of her eyes. He continued to silently caress her mind, the threads of his thoughts surrounding her and weaving a web that she would not soon escape.

'Sleep,' he now told her. Sinking to the stone, her eyes closed. Removing the cloak that was his only covering, he draped it over her. Years of exposure, only his skin to hold him, had not harmed him any, nor was it likely to. But this creature was frail. She was out of her habitat and vulnerable. He cared little for her as a being, but he would not dare loose what she possessed. Pausing, he inhaled the scent of her blood as it pulsed gently in her neck, but he returned to sitting across the fire from her and considered the journey ahead.
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Postby Hades » Tue May 11, 2004 1:48 am

Hades hated using orcs. Of course, they were useful, sometimes, when you just needed a killer, closer to an animal without thoughts or feelings than to the children of Illuvatar, be it the Eldar or the Edain. An orc would do anything he was asked for, just for a bit of food, or some cruelty. There was no struggle, no inner conflict, no torture between desire and reality, no awareness of their own briefness, and no search for any higher motive or power. Orcs were practical, of course, but they were boring, sometimes even repulsive, and most of all, they were not what he was looking for. But like any other evil creature, he used orcs. If only he had the power one day to create a slave to his liking? He would be much more cunning as the orcs, more elegant, and more deadly. The power, he would find it one day. And for the moment, he’d have to use the orcs. They were good for him, ideal and usual suspects, the ones to blame by all the villagers, when another dead body had been found. And the ones against whom they would ride out, kill a few, think that they had conquered a victory and prepare the feast with even more joy and eagerness. Thus, they would be blind for the other signs of power and darkness and unprepared to meet more than a few hungry beasts. Could he lure them all? And win the domination over men?

Men were much more to his taste. He knew them, knew their doubts, hopes, fears and loves. And the moment he was longing for, each time over each prey: the moment, when they admitted they were defeated, when the resistance ceased, when the man in his hands started in fact to joy the suffering. No other race could find pleasure in pain like the humans could do. And he could give it to them. As easily as the wind blows in the willows and drives the scent of Ithilien over the river, to the horse of the unknown knight in the tent of the nuptial party that was prepared now, over the face of the sleeping Rohirrim, who had arrived in his chosen hut.


" Awake. " he whispered out into the room, wanting this young man to wake up, to walk out of the house and to meet other people in this city to find someone with whom to share the despair and the hatred of their fathers and then, when maybe they had chance for redemption and forgiving, throw it away like a used handkerchief. He would have no chance for happiness, for love or just for rest. Why should he have any? Had the Valar ever given any real chance to mankind for anything else but the seeming echo of an existence that he wanted to scatter in pieces?

Once he had woken up, the young man should walk out, hear of Ithilien, the rumours of the change in the air, feel that something was amiss on the road. He would have to stay yet, and then meet the nephew of the woman whose name he did not remember, and together they could feed their despair until it reached the point where he could use them at will. Already in his slumber, he started to move, within a blink he would rub his eyes, sit up and start to try to live what he would think his own decisions.

It had been difficult to let Alandriel go back to her normal life and he felt almost like an emptiness that he wanted to fill with a new distraction, a new illusion, something to occupy him and keep him from walking in her mind again. It was too seductive to be there and to look for the remnants of the past she had hidden in her blood and the future that he would create for her. But she must live, and in the name of some honour or some other empty shell word, she would not decide to live if she was aware of the role she might play. It was important to keep her alive and at hand, usable for his own, evil purpose and now that the Easterling had left her unsheltered, without any protection, the prey should be easy to reap. She would arrive alone, unprotected, and even if without the Easterling her power was lessened, it would be easier to grip it and still enough for him. No opponent would stand on the ladies side – not that she needed any, her shere presence was enough a sign of might that he needed. But she would not forget – he had been to deep into her soul, maybe she would accept the illusion that the immediate threat had gone, that the Easterling had saved her by taking her away. Yet, when she would be here, hiding from her would not be so easy. Now, his presence was always recognisable for her, and she could not be fooled like the others, not be just another pawn.

The Rohirrim muttered a few words in his sleep, and Hades watched him once more, one last time carefully. When the boy woke up, he would put more distance between them, even if it was so easy not to be seen. This house was so full of shadows of the present for the young man, and in the webs of the spiders, he would see his hopes of a future trapped like flies. The dust he would rise would feel like ashes to ashes, and there was not even a necessity to hide. Hades would be just another shadow, just another cloud of dusts where the Rohirrim had hoped for flowers and sunshine.

Still, distance was safer. He had not forgotten what had happened to the woman – and he did not want to kill this young man so easily, so needlessly without getting any use or profit from him. It was safer for both – he might no resist the appeal of this young and innocent blood, safer for the young man, if he did not want the thread of his life cut so early.


“Awake” – but while he whispered, another word reached his mind… “Sleep”. This was not meant for his ears, but an answer he could feel in the very core of his bones in the remnants of life that were left to him. He ordered to wake – and something else ordered to sleep, somewhere out there in the world that would come to him. It was still far, but behind the word so powerful that it crossed the mists of reality to reach him, there was something hidden. For a moment, he could feel an echo of the utter void, like in the moments, when the waves of Numenor had closed in over his body and all breath was gone and he had been falling into an abyss of darkness whose ground he had still not reached. And in the same moment, the echo was gone, and Hades was not sure what he had been allowed to witness, but he knew that he had to be ready to receive his soldiers, those whom he wanted to obey and to pay them. What better way than the wedding to give them their reward and unchain the war he desired so much? He remembered the trail of ashes and the rumour of the murdered elf – at a party of such magnificence surely elven guests would be invited and he would serve them to his ally. The bard would be there and in the deep pits of his soul he had found what he wanted him for. There was a power, he wanted to use.

The Rohirrim was slowly sitting up now, still have caught in his sleep, maybe remembering a dream or a nightmare or not knowing any more what was a nightmare and what was life. He rubbed his eyes and for a second stared into the corner where Hades was standing. Maybe in this moment, he felt a shiver, a little bit colder than in the seconds before, but if it was so, he did not show it, or not pay any attention to it.

Another pawn was on his way now, and it was time for the Numenorean to leave his lair for a moment, to walk over the spring blossoming fields of Ithilien and to count his cattle – to have them well prepared and fed for the butcher. Rhowaìn saw the door swinging and took it for the wind in the ruined house, but soon on his way he would find the storm raised by the wind that Hades had seeded.
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Postby Alandriel » Wed May 26, 2004 5:58 am

A bright and fresh spring morning dawned over Minas Tirith when Telemnar wearily climbed out of bed. It had yet been another night where sleep had all but eluded him. 'This whole wedding hubbub is really getting to me,' he sighed. Donning his heavy cloak over his small clothes he relit the fire and then sat down heavily at his desk.
He grabbed the last remaining stack of papers. 'The sooner I get this done and over with the better', he thought as he reached for quill and ink. His movement however was suddenly arrested when he took in the first item on the list: 25 gold for a new tunic!
His hand balled into a fist and slammed down onto the table, sending the inkpot into a precarious spin. "25 gold!" he exclaimed disgustedly. The inkpot clattered to the floor. "It's an outrage. A tenth of that would feed a family of six for weeks."

"And now that same amount will have to be spent, my lord, to clean the silk rugs. Ink is so hard to remove," came a voice from behind him.

Telemnar's head shot around, furious at having been so startled but then he broke into a wide grin.

"Cemendur!" he exclaimed. "What brings you to my chambers so early?"

The old Gondorian chuckled. "Still haven't given up on your old Ranger customs to be up before the crack of dawn?"

Telemnar rolled his eyes, retrieved the almost empty inkpot, set it next to the stack of papers and then stood: "They're turning me into a Scribe Cemendur. Have pity with me old friend. You of all council members should know how much I loath that task."

"Then you will be pleased to know that another awaits you."

"Not more maps? You can't be serious. I finished the last ones but yesterday. The drawings are detailed enough to keep the scholars busy for at least ……."

"You've never had a clear hand and probably never will; aye, it's true," Cemendur cut in, his tone half serious, half amused "Undoubtedly it will take them a good amount of time to decipher your scratches. But no, I have something much more pleasant in mind."

"Another fitting then perhaps?" mocked Telemnar. "I seem to remember you took great pleasure in the last one."

Cemendur laughed out loud. "A fitting of sorts it is. Finish what you have to do and then come and see me in the stables."

"The stables? What is it now? Saddles and tackle to match the new breeches I'm supposed to wear? I won't have any of it….!"

"Calm down. It's not anywhere near as bad as that, although the Lady Eluidas does seem determined to see her future son-in-low decked out to match the splendour of a peacock." The remark earned the old soldier a glowering look but unerringly he continued: "Late last night they brought in your new mount, the one you are to ride on your trip south. Giving you a descendant of Forlong's steed is a great honour as is granting you the old Lord's saddle."

"And soon they'll have me stuffed to match the man's infamous breadth of girdle," muttered Telemnar, "…….continue the tradition."

Cemendur shook his head. "Finish your papers and then let's go for a ride. You need to take your mind off these matters, see the open plains…"

Telemnar's glower eased. "The first words of sense I've heard in days," he exclaimed. "Let's head to Osgiliath. They have some good taverns now I've heard and besides, I would not mind to see how the last repairs have been progressing. Perhaps we can even catch some fish, cook it without any of those heavy sauces full of butter. Too long have I eaten nothing but heavy fare. Roast fowl and stuffed pigs, pha!"

~~~~~

Telemnar was still smiling at the thought of spending a good part of the day far away from procurements and orders – all with the very valid excuse of trying out his new horse – when a startled maid brought him breakfast. Never before had she seen the Lord finishing off paperwork at such speed and with such apparent good humour. 'Strange old man' she thought when she saw his countenance turn sombre all of a sudden. He turned his head to look at her yet his gaze was empty, unseeing. Goosebumps made her skin crawl violently. For a moment it was as if a shadow passed through the chamber but then it was gone again as quickly as it had come. He blinked and turned back to his papers with the same fervour as before, the cry that had echoed in his head all but forgotten. Clutching her tray, the maid hastily left the room. Back at the kitchens, she relayed the newest quirks of Lord Telemnar to another girl, an extraordinarily pretty one who had only recently joined the staff serving the council members. "I'll swap duties with you," she offered. "I'll clean up his room if you take Lord Cemendur's. No one will notice." So relieved was the girl she did not question why her friend would offer to clean a room that was double as large and triple as messy.

~~~~~

To Menodher. Will be back by late afternoon. Gone to Osgiliath. Finish with the papers. Make ready to leave on the morrow.

'That will interest him' the stunningly beautiful girl thought, her luscious ruby lips twisting into a cruel smile as she put the hastily scribbled note back atop the stack of procurements she had just rifled through, 'and also that a large shipment is on its way from the South. Many opportunities, many possibilities … why?! Anything can happen on such a long trek.'
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Postby Elendúath » Fri May 28, 2004 7:48 pm

After more than 10 days, she was finally about to reach the shores of Ithilien; Osgiliath was less than an hour away now. As she looked at the newly rebuilt city, she could not help an annoyed sigh. She remembered how the army had taken the Eastern shore of this city a moment ago – at least a moment considering the span of her life – and now it was back into the hands of the Numenorëan, in the hands of mortal men, buzzing with their laughs, and their trades. This last thought brought her back to her own travel and the troubles she had faced to get here.

Almost a week it had taken to find a boat that would bring her to Osgiliath; or rather a captain who would accept to take a woman on board. They weren’t keen on having one with them “bad luck” they said. Stupid mortals!! Elves, women or not, had roamed the sees long before they ever did. How she hated them, and yet for now she needed them, because she couldn’t lose more time: the call in the air was slowly vanishing and she didn’t have the time to walk to where she wanted so she had turned back to the sea again.

Eventually money and threat had paid her the trip to Ithilien without a long stop at Pelargir. The sailors had groaned for they had probably expected a night in the pubs of the city but the elf had only sneered at them and ordered a short stop. They didn’t want women on their boats but they didn’t mind them in their beds. But she would not accept any delays: she had paid and would pay more than was necessary for a quick trip. She would pay half the price the moment they arrived and only if they arrived on time. In fact, she would pay all of them with death if she wasn’t in Ithilien at the time she wanted to. The Captain had understood this apparently for they only remained a couple of hours in the great port of the South. And they were now close to her destination.

Apart from the fact that darkness were calling her again, she wanted to meet the one who had cried that call; for it had sounded like one of the Nazgûl somehow. Cold as their presence and biting as their voices. She had heard the cry of the Nine so many times before she could recognize it. She shuddered with pleasure as the name rolled over her mind; they had been the symbol of the dark power for a long time. Ring Wraiths, neither alive nor dead, at the same time in the visible and invisible worlds; though they used to be Mortal Kings their powers had grown beyond hers. Was it possible that one of them was still alive despite the destruction of the Ring or was there somewhere someone whose power was the like of them? Questions in her minds as she was standing on the bridge of the boat. She ignored the scenery that was flowing beside her; she had seen this place many times before, it held no interest to her anymore; only the potential preys were interesting. And for the moment she could see none that were worth blowing her cover.

As they were going up the great river, the call seemed to be more present, as if she really was getting closer. And when they finally reached the city of the Stars and she set foot on the shores of the gardens of Gondor, she heard it precisely, as if it had been whispered in her ears Come; yes, not so far away, up in the North someone was calling her, someone needed her.

“I’m coming,” she whispered back. Yes, soon very soon she would reach the eye of the cyclone that would wash over Middle Earth.
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Postby Culanir » Tue Jun 01, 2004 9:42 am

The sun beat down on Culanir’s head making it ache, yet his skin was as chill to the touch as though he was out for jaunt in the brisk early morning air under feeble lemon rays. The knight’s hand uncharacteristically slipped off the reins and he realised with some astonishment that it had gone quite cold, as though he’d been out in snow and ice, so that he could no longer feel the leather straps and was fumbling numbly to get a grip. He shivered inexplicably, feeling a chill wind whistle down the back of his tunic, yet seeing no movement in the branches of the trees.

He irritably thrust the hair back from his forehead and urged Sindawen on and away, but she baulked and danced skittishly back and he noticed in open-mouthed horror what he had neglected to see on the river side. There was a wooden stake standing tall in the soft mud banks of the Anduin, its lower length weathered and water marked and wrapped with weeds. It had perhaps been used to tie boats or to demark the currents. Lashed tight to its length was the decomposing body of an Orc, with three arrows protruding from his chest. As Culanir forced the terrified mare closer, he could see that the fletchings had been discoloured by rain and river, rendering them beyond recognition. He could also see that though the rusty armour had been left on the putrefying carcass, the boots had been removed along with their feet, leaving nothing but stumps anointed with cloying clumps of blood.

The knight shivered again involuntarily and hastily nudged his mount away from the scene. It unsettled him more than he would care to admit and more than it ought. He had seen plenty of bodies in his time, their souls long gone to seek the halls of their fathers or makers, but the way that this poor creature had been left almost as a token – or a guardian – left him unsettled. Was the Limlug turned so hungry in her old age?

He spurred Sindawen onward away from the stench of rotting flesh which carried even in the stillness of the air. Thus far his return to the land of his birth was proving less than comfortable and were it not for the fact that he had recognised the veracity of his father’s seal and understood the rare urgency that had forced him to call his sons thither, Culanir would have turned back.

When the soldier finally drew rein, the evening was already dragging its blanket about his shoulders. The courtyard was deserted and looked as though it had been so for some time; muck and straw was strewn rather than being neatly heaped and the barn door hung at an angle on its hinges. But there was smoke emanating from the chimney of the homestead and that Culanir took to be an encouraging thought.

Ever dutiful, to the point of pedantry, Culanir dismounted and before venturing towards the battered front door, first found fresh straw and feed and a dry corner of the stable where the roof didn’t need quite so much repair in which to lodge Sindawen. When he left the stable the sky had turned from dark grey to black, not even pricked by a solitary star. And the courtyard was still deserted as Culanir crossed the cobbles in pursuit of the sole amber light gleaming from an upstairs window.

His heart in his mouth, he raised a hand to knock, and felt the unfastened door swing open at his touch.
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Postby Impenitent » Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:10 pm

Sfâtha slept.

Being of the Quendi, she had need of sleep but rarely and in the south her perpetual habit had become to snatch an hour or two at those times when she felt least at risk – in the middle of the day, usually. At that time the heat and glare of the desert was at its greatest and those who would threaten her, whether on two legs or four, were least likely to stalk her. During her journey north, constant fear meant she had given in to her need for rest less and less, stopping only when her body’s fatigue demanded it but rarely giving up her conscious state. Now the exhaustion of her animal mind was great.

And she slept without dreams, though in truth her sleeping mind could not be said to dream. In sleep her consciousness wandered, in realities more real than sunlit day, as urgent and powerful and compelling as hunger, or cold, or fire. It was a world of experience that encompassed pain and terror and panic. And fear. With her thinking, intelligent mind banished behind a locked door, she could make no sense of those memories of fear. To her animal consciousness the experiences of sleep were so tortuous and terrifying that she avoided the sleeping state as much as she could.

Yet now, she slept and the terrors which habitually haunted her did not intrude.

‘Sleep,’ he had said, and sleep descended like a warm, protective coccoon, shutting out the tortures of both conscious and unconscious self and her tormented mind rested as it had not in three Ages of the world.

She woke as the grey light of pre-dawn moved to its morning blush, kissing the landscape into rosy shades which lent the desolation around them a stark, golden beauty. The rocky bones of Middle Earth were laid bare up here in the deserted north but first light of morning sun lent them the semblance of a living glow of warmth.

She saw the two-legged one was seated on a rock with his back to her, seemingly watching Arien reveal herself on the horizon bearing Anar, last flower of Laurelin. Black hair fell half-way down his back, a sharp contrast to the pale skin of his body. Sfâtha sat up silently, allowing the cloak which blanketed her to slip to the ground. She shivered slightly in the early morning chill but the two-legged one seemed unaffected by the cold though he sat unclothed and completely exposed to it.

There was a tranquility about that seated figure which soothed her, whereas her normal response to such close proximity to another would be to flee. Not in eons had she knowingly been so close to another living being without panic. Yet she did not question her lack of fear; indeed, she had not the capacity to question. She felt no threat; she felt rested as she had not felt in longer than Men could remember. It was as if a switch had been pulled, over-riding the constant impulse to fear and caution which pervaded every fibre of her being – at least, insofar as this being was concerned.

The golden light of Laurelin rose slowly, majestically over the rim as they both watched. The two-legged one remained impassive, showing no sign that he knew of her wakening, though indeed, ingrained habit ensured she had made no sound that was out of place.

On impulse, homesick perhaps, she took out her reed pipe - selected from those growing in the dunes of the south so far away; dried, cut and carved with painstaking care – to use the breath of her body to recreate familiar sounds. The soft hiss of sand rasping against itself; the voice of the morning wind through the reeds of the dunes; the rhythmic sussuration of the water lapping the shore; the cry of distance gulls.

Often she had welcomed the morning and its warmth thus, at home, in the south where she was free of the burden of fear, where living beings did not intrude. She did not think of it as an ode to morning; but by it she joined the sand, the sky, the wind; she escaped her hunted self and became one with that which made her feel safe. Never yet had she blown her reeds since her journey north had begun.

But this place was far from home. She had come so far from that place that had become her own, following a compulsion she could not understand. At least that itch that drew her north was gone.

She sighed and put away her reeds in the pouch at her waist. The two-legged one rose from his seat and approached her without a word. His shadow was long, for he was tall, his frame slight though strong-looking. Now that the rosy flush of first light had dissipated, his skin appeared unnaturally pale, contrasting with the deep glow of her own sun-drenched complexion. But his face was fair and pleasant, his eyes deepest black when he came close enough to look into hers with strange detachment.

He said nothing and she felt nothing – no fear, no caution, no wariness. His presence seemed natural to her as the morning breeze. Some inner reflex caused her to find what was left of the roasted rabbit and eat it; she felt no hunger but a voice within urged her to eat, to ensure her strength for a long walk ahead. She did not question; she ate.

When she had eaten, she buried the bones, using her knife to dig a small pit, then covering it expertly with the thin turf. A long, long lifetime of caution would not be denied. Her ankle, sprained in the fall the evening before, was still tender and she favoured it when she stood to follow the two-legged one. She would have tied it for support but there was no time to do so for he had already started to walk south. She followed him. She did not decide to do so; it seemed…natural.

They had walked only a short distance when he noted her limp, for she had fallen behind. He came back to her, a small frown crossing his fair features as he noted her injury. As he bent to look more closely at her ankle a quick thrill of animal fear infused her and he pulled back instantly, as if he knew her panic though she had shown no sign other than the quickening of her pulse and the widening of her eyes. But he did not come closer. He squatted on his haunches, inspecting her, then sat casually down before her, legs crossed, his arms resting softly upon his knees. Sfâtha sat also, her hand delving into her pouch to find the long strip of wound suede she carried. It was most useful, doubling as rope, as carry-handle, lever, tie, as bandage at need. She wound it quickly and expertly around her ankle – over the ages she had discovered myriad ways of treating her own injuries and illnesses. She tested the tension and support, then stood again, ready to be led.

He led her south, seeking cover as they went, avoiding the few habitations. He set a quick pace but was mindful of her injury, knowing just how much pressure it could stand against. They stopped to rest, briefly, when the sun was high and then proceeded again until evening. Sfâtha followed without doubt, without question. The restlessness which had beset her these many years soothed as if with balming oil. It was as if he had always led her; always been familiar, yet this was not a conscious awareness.

And so they proceeded in rhythm. They moved together through the landscape but they were not companions. Days of walking, resting at night in what cover he selected, eating what they could take. Often he brought back small animals so Sfâtha’s hunting skills were not required, and these were roasted over the evening fire. Other times, Sfâtha found fruits, berries, once even she recognised the leaves of a plant and she dug up the sweet roots to roast over the fire. He did not partake of these meals and she never saw him eat but no questioning arose in her mind.

They went south, almost retracing her route north. She did not know why. She was content, with an animal contentment that came with adequate food and a feeling of safety. For she did feel safe and that was enough.
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Postby Nindalf » Sat Jun 12, 2004 10:32 am

The sun beat down on the Men Harad; the hot air sending swirling dust devils along the beaten track. In the hot afternoon, the lazy spectacle of swallows chasing insects and avoiding the clumsy efforts of the Blue Tipped Hawks that filled this part of Ithilien with their piercing cries.

In the shade of a stand of Cyprus oaks, a group of Orcs squatted in what little cool they could. Hot bodies, broken in war and retreat, hid in rags that they had once worn with pride in the army of Mordor. Now with the red eye long since torn free and scattered like the rusted amour of the dark land, the torn remnants rotted in the sun. Coarse stitching of pillaged rags gave some respite from the harsh gaze of the sun, but under them flesh blistered as the days passed.

Karzduk looked and despised. He stared at the humans with their carts and pack beasts as they crawled carefree along the road. He remembered that day, not so long ago, when he had stood beneath the walls of Bardh Kûtot (1) and smelled the overwhelming stench of fire and fear. He had feasted that day on man flesh, and expected more when the horse demons had ridden through his company and driven those that remained towards the river. He remembered the rout, the slashing blades that had cut him and left his severed arm on the fields and him for dead, and the swim across the Gurz Lum (2) amongst the chaos of the black ships.

And he remembered the homecoming. The gates of the city of the Witch King closed against him, and the few others who escaped the carnage. The long walk through the spiders pass had been harsh, the burnt out remnants of Vozagogrujâtkul (3) had chilled him. He had hidden in the worm holes cut into the side of the Morgai, and lived on carrion. The madness that had torn through the Orc community when Sauron fell did not affect him, he was already crushed. He had survived where stronger Uruks had died, and when the armistice had allowed his kind to beg on the roads, he had crawled back into the sun to wait for a reason to keep on waiting.

It had arrived, the previous night. A new force was gathering in the ruins of Murmkarmaz (4), a leader amongst the dispossessed. And they would claim their land. The Human king, he who had come so close to slaying Karzduk, had given Murmkarmaz to slaves, most of who had fled. Now Orcs would take what was left, it was time for him and his compatriots to return.

He looked at the battered forms around him; tonight they would start the long trek back. One of them, a snaga called Buruk, was coughing and green flem clung to the side of his mouth.

“Looks like you have the ‘green breath’ Buruk.” Snarled Karzduk

“What of it one arm.” The goblin threw back like a curse.

“I was thinking that in humans that becomes plague. Your cough will kill them in droves. I am thinking that a little detour for you into the human village will clear it in a week if you cough over drunks. I am thinking that you will be a weapon for claiming back our land”. The smaller Orc looked up at Karzduk, and nodded. He knew the bigger Orc from long acquaintance, and had been beaten by him five times. He would be again if he tried to say no.

“I will go, but I want somebody to watch my back” Buruk
snarled, “someone I can trust”.

“I will go with you, and we will meet the others at the Mangathkaf (5)” said Karzduk looking at the sick snaga and smiling as he patted the small mace at his side. The smaller Orc knew he could not win and nodded. A knife in the back when the bully slept would rid him of Karzduk.


*** *** ***

On the road below, Nindalf tried to sleep. Behind him Erinhue sang a song of love to boost the spirits of the little caravan, and kept the trader awake. He looked at the thin strand of trees where the beggar Orcs started to move away as the day turned to afternoon.

They probably knew the local militia would chase them away before night fell and wanted to be away from here. Nindalf sighed, and looked ahead to the village they would spend the night, already smelling the scent of fine roasted lamb on the wind. Maybe twenty homes and a small market square where trade from the river made its way up to the central Ithilien plain.

He could see the small blue pendant of the custom house, but knew the proprietor. A fat lazy man called Hunlith, who lived off bribes and preyed on the young women of Harad who tried to look for work in the North. He had three wives, and six children all of whom he treated like the finest gems and loved. Nindalf did not agree with the man, but he loved his company and his fine table and never begrudged the bribe.

After all, this small market saw more trade in specialist goods than the great market of Minas Tirith. And judging on the small sea of brightly colored tents, there was a brisk trade to be had.


Some hours later, when dusk had become night and the days successful trading had led the travellers into a happy relaxed state of inebriation, the body was found. It could not have lain in the well for long, maybe a few hours, but it had successfully poisoned it for the season. There was the river for now, but the effort of pulling the dead Orc from the water, with its head broken by blunt force trauma, had needed the help of all.
Then, drawing up the water and scattering it on the rough fields and letting it flow back into the water course. They did not know, but the coughing started in the early dawn.

“What do you mean we cannot leave?” said Nindalf to the militia man who had woken him.

“Plague sir, we have plague in the village from that Orc in the well. My orders are not to allow it to get out of the village, and that means keeping you here until it dies back, I am sorry.”



Orkish translations-
1- White City, Minas Tirith
2- Death River, Anduin.
3- Spy Watchtower, Cirith Ungol
4- Grey Lake, Nurn
5- Ghost Pass, Cirith Ithil the road from Minas Morgul into Mordor
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Postby TheDean » Sun Jun 13, 2004 1:58 am

Uliandor stood at the edge of the water, staring into the distance. Staring at what he once called home. What he saw left him sad, angry but above all, helpless. He clenched his hands as his gaze took in the environment. Everywhere the land sickended and died, rich black earth turned to dust, grassy plains withered away and forests become huge strands of deadwood. Even the air had begun to turn foul.

The old man signed for his loss - for the world's loss. He had abandoned Middle-Earth and its denizens a long time ago but still the very air, the very earth made him aware that the wheel was turning, as the cold, frigid tentacles of evil extended. He was old now, the last of his kind. He grieved at the oncoming darkness. He did not grieve for himself; he was beyound that. He grieved for the elves, the humans, the dwarves and the myriad of creatures that existed in Arda and at what they must now face. He forced his despair away...hope would come again. A new generation of heroes would arise.

Uliandor closed his eyes momentarily. As the pony continued its trek, the songs of birds, the fragrances of the flowers and warmth of the air soothed the old man.

Uliandor

The whisper of a voice in his mind jerked him back from the dge of the black pool he was sliding in. The source of the pain was still there. He closed his eyes once more, willing it to disperse and disappear yet he lacked the strength to command it. It was seven days now since he left his forest, seven days since he felt the pull towards the city of the king.

Uliandor The word echoed soundlessly, a memory that taunted and teased. The voice was that of the vampire; the wretched and insidious spirit responsible for the scars that dotted the old man's body. He tightned his mouth and forced the voice away. His own dying did not trouble him. He knew that it would come one day. It could not be averted and Uliandor looked forwards to it. For most, there was a past, a present and a future. For the old man, only the past and its memories remained. Sometimes, moreso whenever he felt a burst of anger, his emotions transformed themselves into energy. When that happended, he could move things away and break them apart without touching them. It rarely occured but it always left him extremely tired. He signed. He soon started drifting into a slumber and the pony continued its slow trek towards the great city. It nodded its head in pride, shook his mane and with increasing confidence trod upon the dusty road.
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Postby Hades » Mon Jun 21, 2004 4:27 am

She was coming... she was close already, far closer that he had thought, so close that their minds almost could touch each other if he would be ready to open his thoughts for anybody. Unlike him, the approaching elf could walk among the living and be seen, without the screams rising from those who crossed her paths, without dragging the cold around her, without hiding. Even to humans, she might seemed fair, at first sight, when you did not look into her yes and see the bleak cruelty stare out of them. And Hades knew that he would have to meet her - meet her in person, not as an enemy, but as an ally for the forthcoming war in which he would need all allies he could gather. And for that, she would see him from face to face.

For ages, Hades had not even dared to look at himself. He had seen his face, or what was left of it after the drowning of Numenor. Numenor - it all came back to it, in the end, to this moment, when Westerneese should have ended and to those who had escaped like himself. He could still remember the morning of the day of doom. The sun had risen in the sky, the bright blue sky over the sea; not any cloud in sight, but as always wind was floating over the island. Could there be any place as fair and majestic as the isle of Westerneese? The light grey stone in which the houses were built made them shimmer like silver in the rising morning sun... The air had in every moment this taste of salt and adventure, floating in the wind like a call from distant worlds and times.

He had to leave the arms of his Assyraya early that morning for he knew that Ar-Pharazôn was making the ships ready to land on the shores of Valinor. He had been in the secret forever, since Sauron had talked of it the first time, in the circle of restricted men who were his admirers, followers and obeyed to his will. He looked at the ring on his fingers... Sauron had given it to him before Asyraya's eyes and with a smile on his face, the Maia had told him, that now he had already joined the ranks of the immortals, by the power that he had given to him, not like the miserly Eru, who favoured the elves and only threw crumbs to humanity. His wife's face had been glowing with pride and greed. He would not even wait for the landing on Valinor, he was chosen by the Maia before his own king to be a lord among his servants.

On this last morning, his mission was to see if the stupid bunch around Elendil still knew nothing of the sailing ship, but he did not really doubt that they would be able to discover the king's plan - it would seem like blasphemy for them, inconceivable for their limited minds. Only later, he had understood that they had known, but by what means he had never understood it, and his ignorance, Sauron had taken it for treachery and taken the Ring from.... But it had been too late to die.

None could escape from the wave that Ulmo sent over the peeks of Numenor. Hades saw it rising on the sea, like a wall, no more as if all the water of the world had flown together on this one and only place, gathered there to rise and fall. And fall it did. He remembered running - already bearing the powers of the Ring he could run quicker than all the screaming folks around him. Assyraya.... It was the only thought in his mind. Never before he had thought even the singing of birds could be a sign of panic... within the approaching roar their small voices seemed lost… Somehow he remembered them better than the screams of the people. Soldiers trying to give orders, vain commands sent out into the void, and the decomposed faces of the women, holding their beloved around them, and mostly their children… All of them had understood that there would be no escape while the water was approaching. And most of those men, women and children did not even know what crime they were punished for. They only knew that the wrath of the Valar was upon them.

When he reached his house, his feet were already wet and it was only a question of seconds until the water would close him in. Assyraya was there: her red curls were lying on her bare shoulders like an ornament and she saw him arriving like this, running, the wall of water risen behind him as if he had brought it to her. She grabbed for his hand- and as soon as she held it, tried to tear off the ring that he was bearing, knowing that it was the only thing that could protect her from dying. Her beautiful features were torn in hatred and fear. And while the salty water already filled his mouth, he could hear her voice.
»Be cursed. My death shall be your curse. »

After that, there was nothing. Not even blackness or despair fear or struggle. But only nothing. The next thing he remembered was the seagull sitting on the decomposing body to his left, picking the eyes out. The smell in the air was unbearable… and yet he still had days to float on the water, before he would land on the shores of Middle Earth, little more than a wreckage memory of a human being. He could see the reflect of his face on Sauron’s armour when the Maia was taking the Ring off him. But there was no face any more left, only something that vaguely resembled a blinking hole in the existence of Arda, he himself shuddered and wanted to run away from what he had become. But even the Dark Lord could not kill him any more. There was no escape.

Now the elfess was coming and she was only the first. For the first time, Hades knew that he would have to stand the look of others, and of those to whom he did not want to inspire fear, but submission and obedience. She had heard the call and followed the trail of death, and he wanted her to stay. How close was she? Osgiliath? Ithilien already? Somewhere in the sunny forests of the countryside where the growing herbs filled the air with the scent of Ithilien that Frodo had felt coming back from Mount Doom? Just there, standing in front of him, turning her back on him tensed like a feline, feeling his approach?

In the second when his bony fingers touched her tensed back, she had already turned around, quicker than any human could do, but slower than he could move. His grasp caught her quickly moving blade, and almost in delight he let the sharp weapon glide trough his closed palm. The he opened his hand and showed the elf his unharmed hand. Meanwhile in the other hand he had risen his own blade, and then pushing her sword back, he rose his own and their weapons met with a clinging sound. For a short while they fought, merely for the pleasure to proof their own speed, valour and determination. It was a pure delight to find a matching opponent, someone who could answer stroke for stroke, without any fear of being hit, hurt, killed. None of them tried to aim for the other, only to be the quickest, the wittiest, to proof that if it had been serious…

Then, in a sudden agreement, they lowered their weapons and stood there, face to face. The silence was heavy while each of them tried to understand of which lair of the remnants of dark the other one had been crawling out.


« So you have come » hissed at last Hades in his unearthly, broken voice

« You have called. » answered Elenduath.

« I have called for you, and yours and my liking. » Then he stared deeper at the elf, still hidden in his hood.
« Alike and yet different… » His words had become a whisper. Then, all of a sudden, he lifted his cloak, making it twirl around the elf and himself and took her under it, where she was close enough to him to get a glimpse of his face… And in his mind he rose the images… « Elenduath, look and see why I have called you. » And in front of her mind she saw the memories of the past as well as the plans that he had for Middle Earth and its cattle inhabitants. Now already, she was a part of those plans, left without any choice but to follow the Master of doom, and for her too that would be on other escape from Hades than failure in death or reward in victory.
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jun 27, 2004 8:58 am

==================================
“What do you mean we cannot leave?” said Nindalf to the militia man who had woken him.

“Plague sir, we have plague in the village from that Orc in the well. My orders are not to allow it to get out of the village, and that means keeping you here until it dies back, I am sorry.”


Erinhue listened to the dooming words that came as further confirmation to something he already knew. He knew when first word came that the body had been discovered. He had known something from Agarak’s state of agitation, which began the moment it was carried through the village gate.

When the little caravan first rolled into the village, a crowd gathered to watch, as the arrival of the trade carts was something of an occasion in the sleep burg. Someone recognized the bard and called his name. On hearing this, the crowd took up the shout and the caravan was halted by their demand that he should sing for them.

Never one to pass up on an audience, Erinhue obliged and called out his price, a mug of ale. As usual that brought a good response and the beverage was quickly fetched. Smiling, the bard reached for the pewter mug, which burned his fingers the moment he touched its carved handle.

Flashing his starbright grin, Erinhue joked that if he was to last the night, it might be prudent to defer his payment until later in the day. Again the crowd was moved to laughter and the bard began to play “Merry Was Their Meeting.”


When the crowd had been appeased and the caravan on the move again, Erinhue called the attention of the others to him.

“I cannot tell you why, indeed I have no explanation other than that I know. Drink only what was brought in with us. I don’t know why, but drinking is not safe here.”


Nindelf and the driver looked at Erinhue with odd expressions that did not quite accept but did not totally reject the vague warning. The young Gondorian******** who also traveled with them as guard began to snort in derision.

“Are we supposed to be guided by some feeling that you can’t even explain to yourself? I hear the finest wines from all over the world can be found in market towns like this. I mean to have my fill.”

Erinhue shrugged and spoke in an even, earnest voice. “That might be alright to do, I cannot really say. I will tell you what I know, ’though you might not believe. There is a danger in this village, Agarak tells me so. I did not take that mug of ale because to touch it burned my fingers. That was the harp’s doing, it was a warning not to drink.”


The brash young man had laughed at that reponse and he chided the bard about it throughout the day. The chilling words now spoken by the guard were a final confirmation of the council in that caveat .
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Postby Haleth_of_Rohan » Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:38 am

Slings of mist covered endless rolling hills and making it almost impossible to see the road. Rocky hills on both sides rose to the sky and the pine trees reached for the moon with their tops as claws in the night. The eerie sight had Rhowaín shiver, almost as much as the cold. The icy wind that blew chilled him to the bone despite his warm gear. With one hand the young rider held the reigns of his nervous mount and the other held his woollen cape tightly wrapped around him in the hope to shield him if only a little from the wind and cold mist.

A junction appeared ahead. After what seemed hours this was a welcome interruption of the endless view he had had so far. He squinted his eyes to read the half rotten road signs. The paint barely readable and with the darkness surrounding him he gave up and decided he would rely on his instincts. Left the road seemed lighter, and lead to what seemed a rising sun, far ahead. To Rhowaín’s right the road remained dark and hard to discern where the road ended and a small muddy trail began.

‘Difficult choice to make.’ He sniffed sarcastically and pulled the reigns of his horse to take the right path. But no matter how hard he pulled and told his four legged friend to go right he took the road that lead left. The path into a darkness that seemed even thicker, even more concealing and the air felt even colder then Rhowaín even had thought possible in these lands. It felt as if hands of ice closed around his throat. His eyes widened his blue eyes turned to the sky where dark and grey clouds flashed by.
“Breathe…. must…Brea…”

Snapping up his head, gasping for air, the young Rohirrim clutched his throat with one hand while he tried to stay in balance on the bed. Swallowing painfully a few times Rhowaín raked through his blond hair. The dream had been so real and it was so not like him to have nightmares. He hadn’t had them since he was a kid. But then never did he have them like this. But now he was up and he better use what was left of the day.

Getting up a bit unsteady Rhowaín walked back into the living room going right for his pack. Telling himself he’d have to find some way to wash his clothes he grabbed one of his spare sets and dressed casting the pile of old clothes into a corner for the moment. Then he looked around hands pressed in his side and knew that if he were to finish all the repairs by himself he’d be busy for months. He did not have such free time. Inwardly he groaned at the thought of coming out here for a rotten house that would collapse with the next winter storms.


“And that’s why I won’t be doing it alone.” He mumbled as a little smile curled his lips. Quickly he grabbed his belt and pouch and left the house determined he’d find what he was looking for in town…

The tavern was half empty when Rhowaín pushed open the doors. Just an occasional lonely drinker trying to find what ever he was missing in his life on the bottom of his glass, lifted their heads to look at the entering patron. Slipping on to a bar seat he ordered an ale and began to observe the people present. None looked like real workers; old, balding men who looked like only holding a hammer would make them collapse. Rhowaín sniffed and began to wonder what plan he’d come with if this idea of his didn’t work out. His own pondering got brutally interrupted by the crushing of glass from the kitchen behind the bar. Both he and the maid who was pouring more ale turned their heads to the back. More crashing and a furious growl. At that same moment the kitchen doors flew open and a blond kid ran out, as fast as his legs would carry him. Behind him was the raging cook and his face looked as if he was about to explode.


“Stop him!!!! Stop that little thief!!! I said stop!!!”

Almost automatically Rhowaín pulled out his hunting knife and threw it a few inches before the feet of the boy who stopped just in time before he’d stumble over the lemmet of the knife.

The Innkeeper just got in time to snatch the young boy, who had recovered from Rhpwain’s sudden surprise and was on his way to the door.


“Now I have you you little stealing brat!”

he bellowed in the boy’s face but he just gave him a fierce look and showed no fear while he struggled to get the pressing hand from his throat.

Rhowaín, who had stayed impartial, was watching and even though a small voice said he should not meddle in business that wasn’t his own a new plan, rose. He watched the boy more closely now. A strong Rohirrim lad as far as he could see. Blond hair a bit unruly and blue eyes that showed confidence. ‘He could do well.’ He mumbled and banned the little voice in his head as he got up and approached the Innkeeper.


“Excuse me sir.”

He nodded to the still furious man.

» what’s the price of the what he stole?”

The Innkeeper looked at him as if he did not understand what the rider was saying.

“He stole half of my food supplies! He…”

“That is not true!! 1 I only took a break and some cheese!!!!”

the boy yelled back while he struggling again with the hand.

Quickly Rhowaín pulled out his pouch and gave a part of its content to the Innkeeper.

“Here, this should cover it. Please, let him go, I’ll take it from here.”

And he threw a glance at the boy.

(OOC: Until here post written by Jaeniver/Rhowain)

And the boy threw a glance back – a look in which was no fear or any seeming form of regret, but a look of anger, almost hatred, full of wrath. Maybe the stranger whom he had never seen before in the village expected some kind of gratitude from the kid, whom he had just saved, but had he known Haleth, he would have known that he would not get it so easily. The foreign Rohirrim grabbed the kid by his collar and tore him out of the inn. Outside, in front of the sloping door of the inn, they stood for a moment, face to face, the boy still heavily breathing after having run with all this strength.

“What’s your name?”

asked Rhowaín trying to sound impressive,

“and why have you been stealing?”

“Me name is Haleth. Haleth from Rohan.”

Although he tried to stand upright and to make his words sound proud, the kid seemed less sure of him now in the sunlight, as before in the inn.

“And I was not stealing! I had worked for this Inn-keeper sometimes and he never paid me, so it is only justice, if I take, when I’m hungry.”

Rhowaín interrupted the youngster

“Should you not have parents feeding you?”

Haleth snorted almost arrogantly

“Oh, can’t you just imagine that some people just have no parents and have to stand on their own feet. And I can stand on my own feet – without parents, aunts or generous benefactors.”

His head proudly risen, he tried to look taller as he was, to look like a grown-up but his features were clearly still those of a lad of appreciatively 15 years – strong already, but still young, in fact too young to be left alone. But in the last weeks, the life of this young boy had been turned upside down – after the mysterious death of his aunt Eolynd on one of the last cold days of spring, before finally all of a sudden, warmth had covered the land, which had seemed like scorn for Haleth. Only of all this, he would not talk to the tall, unknown man. He did not want any pity, or whatever in his youthful proud despair he took for it.

But the man did not offer charity:


“I am Rhowaín. But I will not be your generous benefactor. I just paid you in advance – for a job you can’t refuse any more. Come with me.”

While they were walking side by side through the streets, Rhowaín told Haleth the most important things about his unexpected heritage and the state of the house. He had the need for a helping hand, and if he could not pay him a lot, he could provide food and shelter for the boy and seeing the light rising in Haleth’s eyes, he could be sure that it was enough for him, more the kid would feel rewarded and somehow recognised by an adult. And for all this, he would work until his hands were tired. Rhowaín knew too well the feeling of being an orphan to let this angry, lonely lad by his own. Of course that not yet mean he told something of his own experience of loneliness. Maybe, if time would draw them closer, one day.

Back at the house, Rhowaín showed him the most urgent things to do – the holes in the window pains, the pillars threatening to crumble down shortly, and of course most of all the spider webs, invading the place. He asked then for information about market places, where he would be able to buy wood, nails, ropes, saws, but also food and drink. While the Rohirrim left, Haleth stayed alone in the house, with the task to start cleaning.

It seemed to him that he spent hours in a dust cloud, coughing. His face, his hands, his clothes turned grey. But when he saw the smile on Rhowain’s face, when he came back a few hours later, Haleth knew that he had done a good job, and even more when the Rohirrim warmed water for a bath for him even before taking care of the dinner. They ate silently, none of them being of the race of easy words and confidences, and feel asleep swiftly. If Haleth sobbed in the night, Rhowaín had the delicacy of not talking about it. And if they both had dark dreams, they did not search for any other reason than their recent past.

In the next weeks, the work in the house progressed day by day, under the admiring eyes of the rest of the villagers, and quickly the two Rohirrim, whom a lot of people took for cousins, gained a reputation among the other villagers. And on this reputation, they were chosen to prepare for another task: Make some furniture for the party guests of the wedding to come, just simple tables and benches to sit outside.

Rhowain’s purse had grown thinner and thinner, although he did not have to pay for Haleth’s errors any more and he gladly accepted. But the closer came the event, that made the village hum with anticipation, the more silent grew the boy. It was too early for him to settle his grief and take part in joy and celebration.
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Postby Ilyda » Thu Jul 15, 2004 7:23 pm

The massive grayish gates of Minas Tirith opened, and Ilyda looked east toward Osgiliath and the ruin of Mordor. The Ranger gazed out over the old battlefield, where the races of Middle Earth came together in victory and loss. It seemed like so long ago, especially compared to the peace and prosperity that followed. Ilyda nudged Foy out beyond the gates, and suddenly, the feeling returned. It was a sensation that she had experienced many times throughout her long life, but it had not been this severe since the War of the Ring.

The magic Ilyda held inside her had never been her own. It was a curse upon her mortal life, thrown upon her by a dark wizard in his final breath. The magic had been evil before, and in the hands of someone with good intentions, it yearned to return to its original purpose. Every evil in the world made it pull inside her, attempting to escape from the integrity it encountered in its current host. Ilyda sighed, trying to suppress the feeling. It was familiar in all aspects except its ferocity. She pulled Foy to a halt, and for a few moments, she struggled internally with the magic, her magic. Eventually, the pull subsided, as it always did, but she remembered when it had last resisted her like this, and she was frightened.

Finally, Ilyda nudged the roan again, and Foy trotted once again toward the distant Osgiliath. Now she knew, without question, that she should not have agreed to this. No sooner had she arrived in the White City, for the first time in several years, than Strider sent her out on another grand mission. An old Ranger turned noble named Telemnar was getting married, and Ilyda was to accompany a shipment from a town in Ithilien to the wedding in Lossarnach.

While she was preparing to leave, she finally remembered the name Telemnar. She hoped he would not remember her. When Ilyda first arrived in Arnor, one of his cousins became her mentor. The dark wizard who cursed her had killed him first, before he even had a chance to draw his sword. To the family, her failure to return was a sign of guilt, and they alone blamed her for his death. If Telemnar recognized her, she would be exiled from his land. Strider was unaware of this history, but he still knew that she despised the excess and glamour of the aristocracy. He did as well. Why did I agree to this?

“Sir!” The call came from up ahead. Ilyda pulled herself away from her thoughts and saw the Anduin quickly approaching. The awakening call was from a man on the docks, clearly a sailor. If he had not said anything, she surely would have directed Foy straight into the driving current. She found a ferry to take her across the river and boarded hurriedly. As soon as she settled a bit, the ferry cast off.

The river pushed the ferry southward, as though the water itself were running away, and the sailors struggled to continue their path eastward. The waters were gray and murky, like all rivers, but to most people, nearly everything about it had a mystic quality. To the old Ranger, it was home, the closest she had come to returning in many years. She made a point not to come South in her travels. Her father had lived on an island in the Mouths of the Anduin, and their parting, so long ago, had been unpleasant, to say the least.

Ilyda turned around to look at the once-glorious city. Osgiliath, ruined during the War, had, in large part, been rebuilt, and gray towers were once again beginning to dot the skyline like the isolated teeth of the monster of civilization. However, the many of the ancient stones still lay on the ground, and the pride of the historic settlement had yet to be restored.

Soon enough, the ferry hit ground on the east bank, and it was time to move on. She jumped off the creaky boat and into the muddy river. Her boots filled with water and made a despicable squishing feeling with each step. She pulled Foy off the ferry and onto the dry land of Ithilien, marking her first return to the place since the battle march to the Fields of Cormallen. Pushing the thought from her mind, Ilyda mounted the roan and prepared to head north. Before she left, Ilyda felt the pull on her magic once again. It was stronger on this side of the river. Whatever was causing this rift within came from the north. Her fears doubled, but she knew that if the feeling was this strong, she needed to discover the source before evil took advantage of Gondor’s increased contentedness. With a new goal in mind, Ilyda rode north into the gaping hole of malevolence.
Last edited by Ilyda on Thu Nov 18, 2004 4:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Hades » Fri Jul 16, 2004 10:12 am

First Elenduath saw a vision of the past only, of this moment of submission he had enjoyed. Hades was standing on a mountain, rather on a temple, risen in pyramide form over a city from which noises of Eastern voices rose. The steps leading up to the temple were sullied with blood. A man was lying on the ground, in front of Hades, hidden in his cloak just as the elf had seen him not a second earlier, as if not several thousands of years had gone by since. The man was begging in stuttering words. Only, unlike what Elenduath had thought first, he was not begging for his life, or for his daughter to be spared or for any kind of mercy. The man lying on the ground like a crawling insect was begging to be the next to die, to be killed, if possible slowly and publicly. And she understood better what made Hades different from other outskirts of the darkness. He made them enjoy it, longing for their torture, where suffering became pleasure and desire for those who obeyed to his will. And on this desire, on this joy and pleasure, he fed his disgust of life. How could you love life if those to whom it was given threw it away so willingly, as if it was meaningless.

It was meaningless to Hades – killing, taking, giving, granting life, he did not care. And there, Elenduath and he joined each other again, in the complete lack of consideration, comprehension even of what existed beside themselves. And then, then only she got an idea of what he wanted now. There was a woman in his plans, but of her, nothing he would show, and if the void of existence, in the emptiness of his desires, she was maybe the only fixed point, the only aim he would admit, whatsoever. And there was the island … glittering in the sun, like a goal to which they were travelling. Of course; they could reach it. And around both of their features played a cruel smile, at the image of what they could achieve.

Now Hades had become stronger than before, unlike himself, Elenduath could mingle with the living folk on the streets, speak without rising immediate fear, she was still in touch with the breathing world, where he was little more to them than a nightmare until the moment when he decided to be seen – which was always the last moment and the last sight. Except for Alandriel.

Sending Elenduath even further into Ithilien and the village of the Rohirrim settlement, Hades halted for a while with the taste of her name in his mouth. She was awake now, he knew it so far, guarded by an innocent soul, someone unaware of the treasure she kept under her roof. Oh how he longed for the delicacy of her memories and the smell of her life. But he would have to wait… She had to come to him, even without knowing and the trap just had to be ready. So long had he waited for this moment, and once had it slipped through his fingers. He would not let it happen again, not let her escape. Only, her sheer presence on the earth, moreover so close to him, was almost irresistible. She must not remember him, must not forget him either. And on this afternoon ,when she heard the healer’s name called by Mara, it seemed to her that a cruel, cold voice somewhere in the back of her mind spoke to her: “Elora…. Like your mother…”. She should doubt all the time, that she was not alone any more and would never be again. Not know it, but doubt.

For the moment, other questions needed to be settled. He needed a new place now, and something that was more likely to be used a headquarter, a place also to summon the orcs which he planned to use whenever animal cruelty was needed, and no reward but raw flesh demanded. Elenduath’s arrival was only a start too, and he knew it, and he would somewhere to be found and feared. Ithilien was still party a wasteland, and there enough places to hide, but only one came to his mind, which was a place to stay, where he could hide and yet be found, especially by the one, whom he wanted to find him. Even when the shadow of the War of the Ring had been close already, Ithilien still had hold the detachement of Lord Faramir, and several caverns had been equipped for the troops, secret places like the forbidden pool, known of none than some soldiers, where even guests were led blindfolded. One of those would be a fine affair. Only a soldier would know it… or a ranger. For he could not go back to the abandoned house which he had haunted so far; not that the dead of the Rohirrim would have laid on his mind. But in the very moment, when this innocent fool paid the stealing of another young man, convinced of his nobility and sure to make a fair deal, another one of Hades’ traps closed over a prey. Two desperate minds do not find hope together – and if they think they do, in fact they feed each other on their mutual losses, and in the end, nothing but hatred and despair rises from it – and both of were much to Hades’ taste.

One last time, he let his thoughts wander towards Alandriel again… not too close, not too long that she could flair the danger. And then he set off to collect the news from what he considered now as his domain. Ithilien…

Only a few days of peace would be left now, and somewhere old orcs and greedy men had already started his war.
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