The Guilds' Journey II: Impostor in Mirkwood

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The Guilds' Journey II: Impostor in Mirkwood

Postby Elfkin » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:11 pm

The woods had been grey and chilly in the early spring; the birds had sung and the sun had shone down upon the stone marker. It sat upon a heap of well-tended earth; on its smooth side was carven an epitaph.

Oh Larkspur fair, upon her hair, how gold the blossoms lay!
Oh Larkspur fine, I saw her shine, upon a summer's day!
Her eyes were bright, her limbs were light, her voice was cool and soft!
Above her head, how bloody red, the sword she bore aloft!

My heart now gone, I suffer on, as baleful as a wraith...
She was my love, she was my joy, she was patience and faith…


Johnny Flett, who had written the verse for his departed love, had stood with bowed head beside the grave. He stared down upon it, his face in shadow.

In time the others had found him: they had come to pay their last respects to their companion. Lark had been one of them in their quest for the Blue Wizards; and she had been one of those to pay with her life. She would never be forgotten.

Now it was summer, and the evermind grew lush and green upon her grave.


((OOC: the OOC thread is here.))
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Postby lark » Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:24 pm

Dulin and her brother Thalion had traveled far across Middle Earth delivering sealed scrolls to the most important leaders of the land. They had already passed through Gondor and Rohan and had circled back around toward Mirkwood.

Dulin considered the small scroll in her hand with the words King Thranduil, Elvish Lord of Mirkwood written on it in fancy gold letters. She had no idea what was in it. They had merely been told that it was of the utmost importance that they be delivered directly into the hands of the leaders to which each was addressed. As of yet, that had not received any response to take back to Rivendell. Dulin had imagined that they contained some offer of good will to reestablish alliances since Elrond had gone West, but she wasn’t sure. She dropped the scroll back into her pack and urged her horse to a faster pace.

Though Dulin was actually the elder by thirty minutes, Thalion usually led the two. Throughout the trip, Dulin had almost constantly lagged behind him, collecting herbs and significant flowers as they rode, but now that they were nearing the Greenwood, she wished to hurry. She had rarely ever been there, but always found the ancient trees and hidden dangers of Mirkwood fascinating.

As the trees came into view, they spotted an individual form walking in they’re direction. Dulin could tell he was an elf, but not like any she had seen. He was thick and muscular almost to the point of being stocky, with broad shoulders and what appeared to bee stubble on his jaw line. The two dismounted to greet this strange elf, but just has her feet hit the ground, something shiny on the ground caught Dulin’s eye. She bent and picked it up and found it was a ring, with a plain gold band and a single purple stone, surprisingly warm to the touch.

Before she could comment about it, she heard Thalion start to call out a greeting which was cut short by the strangers odd appearance. His face was twisted into a scowl and he had the look of one who is not in his right mind. As he reached them, he narrowed his red eyes and reached to his side where a sword once hung, but finding nothing there, he merely clenched his teeth angrily, and turned to walk around them. As he passed her, Dulin suddenly held the ring out in front of him and asked, “Is this yours?”

The strange elf blinked at the ring in her hand, and his expression changed for a moment. “That was my wife’s ring.” He said grimly. He looked at Dulin’s face. She tensed, not knowing what he would do next. “Keep it.” He said and walked on past them, calling back, “It’s a life ring.”

Dulin and Thalion watched him walk away, then looked at each other. Neither knew what to say. Dulin closed her hand around the ring and suddenly felt great compassion and sympathy for the stranger, though she knew not why. She slipped the ring into her pocket and the two remounted and moved on.

As they reached the edge of the trees, yet another strange sight met their eyes. Two figures sat near a large rock at the edge of a stream that ran from the woods. Both were female, but one appeared to be a young human and the other, like a hobbit only with finer features that reminded Dulin of the Fallohides of old. Again the twins looked at each other.

They once again dismounted and approached the two, hoping to fare better then they had with the last stranger. As they got closer, they could see that the rock was in fact the a grave marker, and wondered if this was all connected somehow. This time, Dulin did the greeting.
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Postby balrogthane » Mon Mar 21, 2005 3:57 pm

Halda drew his cloak tighter and pulled his hood down. Things were getting bad, worse than he ever remembered-- since when did Minas Tirith's most successful thief hide in an alley, freezing?

Since *TOS violation* Elessar started his crackdowns, he answered himself grimly. A gust of colder wind blew down the alley and threatened to throw his hood back; he clutched tighter at it and waited.

Only two days ago, his fence, <Q>, had gone missing (they never used anyone's full name-- only two people knew his). With no fence, he had no way to sell whatever goods he managed to steal. With no way to sell his goods, he had no reason to steal any. And he wasn't about to resort to becoming a common pickpocket, living day to day.

Some inner sense, sharpened by a decade of constant use, warned him to press back against the wall. A moment later, the sound of a marching file of men became audible-- he waited, and a double column of soldiers appeared in the main street, winding past him. He silently cursed the soldiers, but stayed, watching them carefully. Sometimes this sort of maneuver was just drill, sometimes they were moving prisoners around.

Sure enough, after the first 5 pairs of soldiers, it was a double line of manacled prisoners, flanked with more soldiers. Gondor had a reputation for decency, and the prisoners were chained humanely, but they had not a chance of escape. Halda waited, watching each face.

He almost missed him-- <Q> had suffered more than most of them. His face had been so bludgeoned it was all but unrecognizable: black eye, bright red welt down one cheeck, split lip...

Halda suppressed the alien feeling of sympathy. <Q> was a business associate. His arrest meant things would be harder, until Halda could locate a new fence, but it meant nothing more.

But would he be able to find a new fence? With the crackdown, that was looking more and more unlikely. No-one was going into the thieving business; on the contrary, almost all were fleeing it.

The line of prisoners was ended now; the last soldiers marched past him. Halda watched them recede, and glanced up at the buildings around him.

Something caught his eye... a banner. It was hanging on the balcony across from him. He cocked his head; it bore an unfamiliar crest. He realized it was the emblem of Esgaroth, the somewhat famous city on the Long Lake.

Halda was not a well-traveled man. His most extensive voyage yet consisted of moving from the Pelennor to the third circle of the city. He had always harbored some slight interest in seeing other lands, but his life didn't really lend itself to running off at odd times. Now, though, he had less and less of a reason to stay here.

The wind picked up again, and the banner fluttered out. Halda was not a religious man, but he was deeply superstitious. He determined to go to Dale; perhaps it would prove to be a rich city.

The next day found him on a horse out of the city gates, with a map under his cloak and expectation in his heart. The horse and the map did not belong to him, but their owners would never miss them; Halda considered that his last job, and felt oddly free, oddly happy to be leaving Minas Tirith behind. He rode north, along the new road Elessar had rebuilt and maintained.

-(----
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Postby Riot » Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:06 pm

Riot sat on a rock hunched over, her left elbow resting on her thigh, and a pipe in her right hand. She gazed pensively at Elfkin and Flinke and then back at the stone marker in the fresh turned soil. She had watched Johnny Flett fade into the distance. She had known that his mind was maddened in grief, that he was lost to reason, sense, and hope. Not that this was anything out of the ordinary, but with Larkspur gone...

She had let him go. As he slowly left the grave, she had contemplated nocking her bow and ending his misery. She was certain Elfkin had as well, but it was a rash thought born of excess emotion.

In the distance, she thought she heard horses. Riot glanced at Elfkin and Flinke, but they were deeply absorbed in conversation. Yes, there were other funerals to attend. Riot looked at her own horse who stamped impatiently and glared back. Reaver was restless.

Elves, Riot thought idly as she watched two strangers approach. They led horses and the ranger smiled idly in self-satisfaction. Elves were relatively peaceful creatures, and she wondered if they had encountered J_F. Her bow leaned against a nearby tree, unstrung.

They were almost identical, and Riot found it rather surreal to be watching two sets of siblings. Unwilling to really get involved, the ranger continued to sit and observe.

"Hello," Elfkin greeted tentatively, trying to seem intimidating to the two much taller strangers. Flinke hung back, unsure.

"...Greetings," Dulin began, equally uncertain of how to address the pair. She looked to the tombstone and felt a deep pang of sorrow.

"She was your friend..." Thalion began.

Elfkin nodded, touching her scar.

"You have our sympathies..." Dulin managed to free the words from her throat. Unable to stem her curiosity, Dulin inquired, "Was she the wife of the elf that wandered through here?"

"She was," Flinke stated, shooting a look at Elfkin.

Riot was content to avoid the awkward scene. She only watched, occasionally lifting her pipe to her lips, as the sisters struggled for the appropriate words.

How funny, she thought idly. They have no trouble coming up with inappropriate ones...
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Postby Elfkin » Tue Mar 22, 2005 5:22 am

There was a strained silence; even the birds seemed to have been temporarily struck dumb. The only sound came from the loud puffing and smacking noises coming from Riot’s pipe.

“Do you… um…” was Elfkin’s rather pathetic attempt at breaking the uncomfortable mood. She fiddled with the hilt of the dwarven knife tucked carefully into a hilt at her belt. The hilt was tough leather on the outside, but soft on the inner side so as not to risk taking the edge from the blade.

“Well. Er…” came Dulin’s reply.

“Where are you going?” Flinke asked suddenly, looking up from her shoes. The two elves stared first at her, then at each other.

“We carry a message,” said Thalion carefully.

“Who for?” asked Flinke.

The two elves exchanged glances again, as if wondering how much to tell. Neither of them knew how secret this delivery was – but, if it was a matter of secrecy (unlikely now that a time of peace and trust was before them), surely they would have been told as much?

“King Thranduil of Greenwood,” Dulin told them at length.

There was a thudding noise and a groan. Elfkin had banged her head on the tree behind them.
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Postby Aralana_Greenleaf » Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:07 pm

Ara, who had been sitting in a corner reflecting on her beloved Lark and her death, lifted her head at the name of her father and approached the twins.

"Did you say King Thranduil?" she asked and both the twins nodded

"I am princesses Aralana, his daughter." both twins bowed "May I see the letter?" she asked

"No, I'm sorry princesses, this letter is for the King only." said Thalion

"Very well." Ara said "Then I shall accompany you back to the palace."

Ara
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Postby Elladan_Elfhelm » Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:26 am

"Very well." Ara said "Then I shall accompany you back to the palace."

“Begging your pardon mi lady, but what is the King’s daughter doing out here in the middle of nowhere?” Thalion had a bad feeling that something was not as it should be. “And why is your friend banging her head on that tree?”

“We have suffered a great loss in our company, my young elf lord.” Ara replied. “I go where I wish to go, and now I wish to go to my father’s courts. Even if he isn’t there.”

“What do you mean, even if he isn’t there?” Thalion questioned.

“Did I say that?” Ara asked.

“Yes you did.” Thalion replied. “What is going on here? You all seem friendly enough, but why all of the strange words and actions.”

“We are sorry for your loss.” Dulin quickly added. Her brother sometimes lost himself in his duties and would fail to see all that was going on. “Please forgive my younger brother, he is very concerned about getting this message to your father in a timely matter.”

Thalion let out a slight grunt, and Dulin picked up on his almost to low to hear voice. “Younger brother. Younger by thirty minutes.”

“No need to apologize.” Elfkin said as she stopped banging her head on the tree and walked back to them. “You did not know our friend, nor did you know you would be meeting us here at this her funeral.”

“Then would you tell us about what your company is doing, and if you area all going to Thranduil’s courts.” Dulin requested.

“And also if the King is not in Mirkwood, then where is he?” Thalion quickly added, and the twins then waited for a reply.
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Postby ElvenChild1292 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:56 pm

Kirra had just finished her favorate meal - sausage, mini-hotdogs, and of course lembas - and was lying down to sleep. She was in the Greenwood -or Mirkwood as her fellow elves back home in Rivendell called it. She was tired from riding all day, and was listening to the sounds of the forest which was her ideal way to get sleep. But something was heard she did not recognize. Voices. They could be heard faintly, but still heard.
Then it happened. Her vision came rushing to her. It showed some elves, though their faces weren't clearly seen, a woman - her face not seen at all hidden by a cloak - and something she didn't want to see - a grave. It couldn't be read so there was no use in trying. In the background trees could be seen, and in the foreground, a plain - looking as if it was in the middle of nowhere. Then it was gone. Nothing more could be seen but trees, her campfire, and her horse.
She recalled the setting. That's it! She thought. It's here in Mirkwood. Though it seemed to be on the edge. And whose grave was that? All of this she wondered, and could no longer sleep. She had to see what was going on. Maybe, if I follow those voices, they can lead me to the place of this - grave. She shuddered at the thought. No - elves didn't really mind death, but she wanted to know if it was her own, or someone else's.
Kirra put everything back on her horse, including her pots & pans - though there were very few of them - and rode towards the sound.
As the voices grew louder, she seemed to peice together the vision. She could barely see out of the trees, towards the plain and studied it. That was definately it, but no on could be seen.
As soon as she realized she was in the presence of another elf - in fact it looked as though there was more than one - she stopped and looked at them. When she turned to see an elf standing next to a grave, it seemed familiar. This was her vision, yet whose grave it was she could still not tell.
"Um, have I interupted? I did not mean so." She looked at the elves, wondering the same thing as them - What are they doing here?
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Postby Riot » Wed Mar 23, 2005 5:49 pm

Riot surveyed the growing crowd. Had J_F sent out invitations or something? She shook her head and hopped to her feet.

"Well, now that we've paid our respects, and Aralana has an escort back to the castle, I can be going." She absentmindedly reached out and patted Elfkin's head, only to have the halfing halfing sink her filed teeth into her hand.

"Wait..." Flinke glared at Riot then the newcomer. "I did not know Lark that well, but why don't you find out who this person is to Lark?"

Riot shrugged. "It didn't occur to me?"

Dulin coughed and Thalion repeated his question. “And also if the King is not in Mirkwood, then where is he?”

Elfkin shifted a little uncomfortably under Dulin's inquisitive gaze. Aralana seemed to be trying to recall the last time she laid eyes on her father. Riot chuckled.

"I...Please, pardon my interruption and unpredictable ESP, but can someone please tell me what has happened here?"

Flinke opened her mouth, but Riot had already begun to answer Thalion's question.

"Thranduil's whereabouts do not concern us. He went on a journey, and according the last reports we heard from Johnny Depp and Tom Petty..." Riot trailed off, uncertain about the names... "Well, from elven subjects, he has returned. We might have encountered him in these very words while the elves have sworn he was on his throne, eating bonbons and taking collagen injections, however, if that were the case, there would have to be two Thranduils...and Illuvatar help us, one is more than sufficient!"

"...You're garbled tale is baffling, ranger," Dulin admitted. "Though I am not unconvinced that this is not the fault of the teller."

Riot did not bother to translate that.

"-it's obviously a coincidental meeting at the grave of an old friend who happens to be recently dead and because of the common topic of Thranduil, portends to be foreshadowing." Elfkin snorted.

Kirra stared at her dumbly.

"There, there," Flinke soothed. "It's not like the girl is psychic or anything."
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Postby balrogthane » Wed Mar 23, 2005 11:23 pm

Why, oh why did I believe that peasant.

Halda wiped the rain from his eyes and peered ahead. He'd crossed the river, like he was supposed to, and now found himself in a trackless wilderness. Things had not gone well since Minas Tirith.

They'd been easy enough while he could see the well-tended fields of Gondor. Rohan had begun to test his survival skills, though-- he learned that urban survival and wilderness survival were two fundamentally different things. But he had adapted; it was that or be killed. His horse had gotten spooked by something on the wide plains of the horse-lords, and run off, leaving him to continue on foot. Yesterday he had reached a sizeable town and gotten information from the fellow who seemed to be the resident patriarch; it had seemed quite plausible then, to cross the river, head east and north, and reach Esgaroth from the south.

Now he was sore, wet, hungry, tired, confused, and angry. Not frightened, though; not yet. But he was royally ticked off. Mostly at Elessar, for being such an uptight sonuvanorc.

He squinted into the driving rain; something was looming up ahead. He stumbled closer and realized it was a forest-- possibly the first cover he'd encountered in a week. He hurried ahead, eager to be at least somewhat dry.

He paused at the forest's edge. The hair on the back of his neck was rising, slowly. He looked as closely as he could, but the forest was too twisted and dark; he listened intently, but could hear nothing that would alert him to danger. Still, he hesitated.

An overflowing leaf somewhere above him dumped water straight down his back. He swore softly and moved into the trees.

---------------------------------------

Something woke him from a very pleasant dream involving a warm tavern and an excess of ale. His hands moved automatically to protect himself-- one hand to his dagger hilt, one hand to his money pouch; the rest of his body remained utterly motionless. He tried to open his eyes but discovered they were already open: the forest was too dark to see anything.

Robbed of sight, he listened: there was the incessant dripping of rainwater from the continuing deluge as it filtered down, the little creaks and groans of tree branches, and the occasional muted clap of thunder. He smelled leaves, centuries of leaves, soggy and rotting all around him. But something was sending goosebumps up and down his arms. He listened closer, smelled more carefully.

After a few moments taking in his surroundings he was able to filter out what should and should not be there. There was an alien sound: a sort of voiceless hissing, a burbling mutter, and a sinister creak as of dry wood rubbing on itself. There was also a smell like scorched fletching.

And there WAS something visible, two points of light. Only now did he notice them. They were small, seemed vaguely globular, and glowed pale blue in color. Without a reference point, it was hard to be sure, but they almost appeared to move...

The hissing grew louder, closer. The twin blue lights grew larger, closer. The smell intesified. Halda loosened his dagger in its sheath.

Suddenly, the lights went out, as if a wall had dropped between him and them. But the sounds and smell remained. Now he could hear something like twigs moving through the leaves, advancing on him and moving to his left.

He remained completely still. The sounds moved forwards, then stopped short. He focused tightly-- he could feel the thing before him, by some thieves' sixth sense. It was, as he had suspected, a spider, roughly 6 feet in diameter from foot to foot. In one swift motion, he pulled one of his throwing knives out and hurled it at the creature's head.

A meaty crunch, a dry scream, a momentary flailing about in the leaves, and all was quiet. Halda pulled his dagger and crept towards where the spider should be. Sure enough, his outstretched hand encountered one of its slick, hard legs; he shuddered and pulled away. Trusting in the corpse to serve as a deterrent, he returned to his nook and tried for some more rest.

-(----
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Postby lark » Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:57 pm

Dulin looked the group over again. There seemed to be more to this Thranduil story then what was being told, but she couldn’t blame them for not opening up to strangers. Trust is something that takes time, and must be earned. Besides, it was an excellent excuse to travel along with the group which she found fascinating. She had spent most of her life among other elves, but here was a lovely assortment of the peoples of ME. Dulin smiled to herself at the thought. Their trip so far had been quite mundane, but now, a mystery seemed to be unfolding before them, and she very much wished to get to the bottom of it.

One of the elves looked familiar, and Dulin was sure she had seen her in Rivendell. “You’re Kirra, aren’t you? I’ve seen you before though I believe you left Imladris some time back. Was this also an acquaintance of yours?” She asked gesturing to the gave.

“No.” Kirra said warily. “I just heard voices.” She added.

Thalion leaned closer to Dulin. “That’s an odd coincidence, don’t you think?” Dulin nodded.

“Perhaps we should all travel to Thranduil’s courts together.” Dulin said brightly. Thalion furrowed his brow but Dulin avoided looking at him. “My brother and I would love some traveling companions, and we can sort this whole thing out with the King together.”

Glances were exchanged among the group. Aralana broke the silence. “We should really get moving. The sun will soon be westering and this is not a good place to camp. I know of a talan not far from this place that my Father and his men would sometimes use on hunting trips.”

With that, the company gathered up packs and horses and followed the princess into the forest. The path was overgrown and difficult to follow, yet Aralana leaped easily over rock and root as if walking a well worn road. The growth was much to thick for riding, so the uneasy horses were led by their reigns, causing the company to move along slowly. After names were exchanged politely among them, Dulin and Thalion fell back to the end of the line and spoke quietly to one another.

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?” Thalion asked, frowning at the group in front of them.

“Why, do you sense some danger?” Dulin said, plucking a dark leaf from a bush as they passed it and examining it distractedly. “Two of them are elves. Surely we are safe among our own people.”

“What of the others? The Ranger seems almost…sinister.” He said quietly. “This whole thing just seems awfully strange to me. We know the way to the home of Thranduil. We would be safer on our own”

“Yes, but then what? What if there really is an imposter in Mirkwood. How would we know?” She stopped for a moment and looked her brother in the face. “I trust your judgment, brother, but I think, for now, we should follow the princess.” She started walking again. “Besides, with such a group as this, perhaps a grand adventure will find us.”

Thalion smiled knowingly. “And there, my sister, lies the real reason you wish to follow them.”

Dulin laughed quietly. “Perhaps. But seriously, what could happen?”

Just then Aralana called back to the rest. “Here we are! The talan is above.” She gestured to a thin rope dangling from the canopy above. The group looked up, but the flet could not be seen from the ground, so thick was the foliage. “There will be room for all of us, but there is no way to bring the horses up. They’ll have to be tied here. We can take turns guarding them through the night”

“Guarding them from what?” Flinke asked a little nervously.

Riot chuckled grimly. “You don’t want to know.”
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Postby Elladan_Elfhelm » Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:58 pm

"What do you mean we don't want to know?" Thalion asked as he looked at the Ranger.

"Mirkwood is filled with many wonders, such as Thranduil's halls, but it is also filled with many dangers." Riot paused. "Dangers." She said nodding her head.

"Spiders, I would imagine." Thalion said guessing more than knowing.

"They are part of the dangers of the forest, yes." Aralana added as she grabbed the rope with one of her hands. "They are a problem to say the least, but I don't think we will have any trouble here. They mostly stay away from our hunting grounds."

"I'll go check out the talan landing." Aralana stated, as she quickly climbed up the rope to the flet above. The others waited impatiently for her to call down to them, and Thalion was about to climb the rope himself to see what was taking so long, when they heard Aralana's voice echoing from above. "The talan's clear, and we are in luck it has been stocked recently."

Soon the others started climing up the rope, some easily, and some not so easily. Thalion, Dulin, and Riot were soon the only ones left on the ground. Dulin looked at the Ranger, and then spoke to her. "Are you sure you want to take the first watch?"

"Yes, I probably won't sleep much anyway." The Ranger replied.

"You don't care to watch our horses do you?" Dulin asked.

"No, but I won't die for them." She said as a matter of fact, and the twins knew she wasn't joking.

"Just call if there is trouble. I will relieve you at the next watch in two hours." Thalion said as he handed the rope to his sister, and she began the ascent up to the talan. "Grand adventure huh?" He said more as a statement than a question. Dulin could tell he wasn't thrilled with the "adventure" so far.
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Postby Riot » Mon Mar 28, 2005 4:12 pm

"Who's my beautiful ickle demon-possessed bloodmare?" Riot cooed, her nose touching Reaver's. In a flash, the horse snapped forward to bite her, but Riot shifted just out of the horse's range. This continued a few minutes. Finally, the frustrated mare just snorted and stomped, and Riot tossed her an apple, bored. It fell a few inches out of Reaver's reach and the horse strained to reach it. Riot surveyed the forest, oblivious.

From above, she could hear the whisper of leaves, voices, and elvish farts. Mirkwood evoked nostalgia, and Riot almost wistfully decided that she was growing fond of the spider-infested forest. And then there were the badgers... Riot looked around wildly, remembering the fun they'd had with those furry, cuddly, bloodthirsty subterrenean mammals. If she didn't already have Reaver, she could totally go for a new pet...

She eyed the elvish couriers' horses as they inched away from Reaver. Snickering, she settled against the tree trunk and procured her pipe. Quietly, she smoked, listening to the usual sounds of Mirkwood. Birds chirping, foliage rustling, and the occasional bloodcurdling scream.

Riot decided not fall asleep. Normally, it did not matter, she was perfectly capable of waking up before a spider ate her, and the badgers made too much noise...but there was the mandatory reflecting to be done, after making new acquaintances. Riot sighed, wishing she could skip over the thinking and such and go kill something, but the bedamned spiders did not seem to be very hungry. And the badgers....they were probably hibernating, or something. It had been rather chilly lately.

Ara, Elfkin and Flinke had accompanied J_F to Lark's grave. Windwalker had managed to get lost somewhere... Elfkin and her innumerable inexplicable kin. Riot shook her head. She wondered if Elfkin and Flinke were behaving themselves...well, not destroying the talan. As if on cue, the ranger heard a familiar cry, probably Flinke. It was followed by a cackle...Elfkin. Riot exhaled slowly, not wanting to know.

The newcomers were standard elves, though it had been awhile since Riot had seen fraternal twins. Thalion seemed rather sensible, she had noticed Thalion's social apprehension. Yes, it was very sensible. Considering present company. Dulin would get them into trouble, Riot decided. The she-elf wanted adventure. They seemed like good citizens. Riot shook her head sadly. What a waste.

Her perked up at the hiss of whispers. No, her ears were not that good...perhaps it was the wind. But yes, they were couriers and couriers always carried important news. It would be worthwhile to find out what they were doing...Riot decided she would have a look at the scrolls before they reached Mirkwood.

Yes, she would just have a little looksy...after all, it was not as if the real Thranduil was there to receive them. In Thranduil and Legolas's absences, Riot was willing to recognize Ara as ruler of Mirkwood, and surely Ara would not mind her peeking...

And speaking of interloping, this new elf, from the Rivendell Reefer Community... Riot sighed. As if Celeborn's Crackhouse wasn't enough... Yet another motley crew of half-baked adventurers...

A twig snapped, and Riot rose to defensive crouch. The shadows shifted, and the brush rustled. Pipe still clenched firmly between her teeth, she drew her hunting knife and waited...
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Postby Elfkin » Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:23 am

Flinke was having great fun swinging from branch to branch and keeping everyone awake. She waved to her sister and the four elves from her position balanced upon the uppermost, slimmest limb of the tree their flet was in.

"How is it," Ara asked her, "that you cannot stay on a horse for even a few seconds, and yet you have been balanced on those wispy little branches for all of ten minutes?"

"Horses are too jerky," Flinke informed her, bouncing the branch (barely more than a twig) up and down and making Elfkin -- who had had to be carried up the flimsy ropeladder -- groan. "This tree is -- woah!" she added as she slipped off.

Elfkin gave a cry and they all leapt to their feet, only to be greeted by helpless laughter. "You should have seen your faces..." Flinke was perched on a rather thicker branch just below the lip of the flet, her face creased up in giggles. "You thought... and I was just..."

She laughed for a moment more as the five looked disgruntled. "Right," declared Elfkin, who had retreated to a safe distance from the edge. "Come onto the talan before you hurt yourself."

Flinke sighed theatrically. "Don't worry. I'm fine."

"Up. Now."

Thalion, Dulin and Kirra looked to Ara. "Are they always like this?"

"No," admitted Ara, and the other elves looked relieved. "It's usually the other way around," she continued.

In the background, the two sisters were still squabbling.

"Up."

"No."

"Yes."

"Just because you don't like heights..."

"It's not the height, it's the distance to the ground that worries me..."

Kirra, looking rather confused, decided to try to get some sleep. Ara joined her, and Thalion and Dulin moved to their own corner to talk quietly.

After a while, they heard a low moan. Looking around them in alarm, they saw -- Kirra! She was tossing and turning, muttering in her sleep.

"Someone coming..."
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Postby ElvenChild1292 » Tue Mar 29, 2005 2:59 pm

Kirra finally managed to fall asleep, after what seemed like forever with the sisters bickering on and off. She was dreaming silently when yet another vision came. She tossed and turned, whispered in her sleep. It wasn't what she wanted to see, either.
Something - someone was coming near. Near to what? She saw a talan with a few people on it - four elves and two humans - at least it was what it seemed to be, their faces ceasing to exist. She looked down from the talan, seeing another person - their face covered by darkness - holding a dagger. Near to the person were a few horses. Then something jumped from the bushes. What was it? All she could tell was that it was dangerous somehow, or was it?
Then it was over. Her heart raced as she shot up yanking her dagger hiding behind her hair. She looked around to see the people around her staring blankly at her. She almost looked embarrassed, when she realized her vision could come true. Turning to look away from the others she stood up and walked to the edge, looking down. There was Riot, dagger at hand. A few people tried to speak, but each time they spoke she hushed them. Riot, the horses, the bushes - this once again was her vision. She slid down the rope gracefully barely to be heard. Riot didn't even bother to look.

"Get back up in the tree. Now!" She whispered it, yet it was heard.

"No." Kirra answered back. "Someone is here." Riot looked at her strangely and she caught herself, "I heard the twig snap." She said no more for fear she would say too much.
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Postby Aralana_Greenleaf » Tue Mar 29, 2005 7:01 pm

Ara climbed down from the talan onto forest floor. Which might prove to be a very dumb idea, but she did it anyway. She looked into the blackness around her. The thought that it might be a spider sent chills through her. If that was the case, this was a dumb idea indeed but, somehow she didn't believe there was a spider. She walked forward then heard something move behind her; she turned then felt a blade on her throat.

"Who are you and what is your purpose in Mirkwood?" said a voice

The voice sounded very familiar, wait...

"Le-Legolas?" she asked slowly

"I'll ask again who are you and what is your purpose in Mirkwood?"

Ara thought for a slip second then punched the person behind her in the stomach then whipped out her blade and held her attacker to the ground.

"Turn you face so I can see it" she said

Then, in the stifled moonlight, she saw it was the face of her brother.

"Legolas! It is you!"

"You never answered my questions and how do you know my name?" he asked

"Legolas it’s me! Ara!" she said

"Ara!" came J_F's voice from above on the talan, what are you doing down there! There's someone lurking about, it’s not safe for you to be down there!"

"It’s Legolas! I'm bringing him up" she cried back. Ara let Legolas stand up and put her face where Legolas could see it.

"It is you! Your back.."

"Yes, come up the talan with me, we need to talk..."

Ara led him pass Riot and the others and up onto the talan.

Those that were awake sat around and listened as Legolas explained what he was doing this far into the forest alone.

“Ara, you can’t go home. I came in search of you to tell you that. I have to go back, but I forbid you too.”

“You can not forbid me to do anything Legolas. I’m going and you can’t stop me. I have to talk to father. You know as well as I something isn’t right.”

“Yes, but it’s too dangerous for you.” Ara looked away and Legolas got up to find a place to sleep, as did everyone else, go back to bed.

He did act odd when we met on the ground. I wonder if he hadn’t found out it was me…would he have killed me? Why was his voice so cold...
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Postby lark » Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:52 pm

Dulin and Thalion stood near the edge of the flet with bows bent, straining to see and hear what was happening below.

At length, Ara called up to the others, “It’s Legolas! I’m bringing him up!”

The twins looked at each other. “Perhaps he will have some information about Thranduil, and we can finally get to the bottom of all this.” Thalion said. Dulin shrugged then nodded.

After a moment, Ara and Legolas appeared at the opening in the floor of the talan. Kirra followed, leaving Riot alone on the forest floor once more. There seemed to be a strange tension between Ara and her brother as they spoke that Dulin didn’t understand.

“Ara, you can’t go home. I came in search of you to tell you that. I have to go back, but I forbid you too.”

“You can not forbid me to do anything Legolas. I’m going and you can’t stop me. I have to talk to father. You know as well as I something isn’t right.”

“Yes, but it’s too dangerous for you.” Ara looked away and Legolas got up to find a place to sleep.


As he passed her, Dulin nodded politely and inquired, “Do you not remember me, Lord Legolas?”

The elf prince stared blankly at her. “Remember you?”

“Yes.” Dulin said looking him squarely in the eyes. “We met in Imladris at the time of the great council held by Lord Elrond. You and I had a lengthy discussion about the waterways flowing to and from the Greenwood, and the meaning of their names.”

He stared at her for a moment before replying. “yes, of course. I remember you, but the hour is late and I am in great need of rest.” He turned and retreated to a secluded corner of the flet.

Thalion leaned in close to his sister, speaking so only she could hear him. “We weren’t in Imladris at the time of the great council.”

“I know.” Dulin answered without looking at him. “What do you think it means?”

Thalion considered for a moment. “Either something is seriously wrong with the prince, or…”

“Or…he’s not really the prince.” Dulin finished quietly. They looked at each other again. “Should we discuss this with his sister?” The two looked at Aralana where she sat looking concerned and confused.

“Not yet.” Thalion said. “She looks as though she may already suspect something, but we need tread carefully. I’m going down to relieve the Ranger of her watch. Keep a close eye on him.” He finished. Dulin nodded, and made herself comfortable where she had a good view of the entire flet, then watched as her brother descended the rope.
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Postby balrogthane » Sat Apr 02, 2005 12:21 am

Halda settled back in his copse. He had stumbled across the trail of this Elf-- not too difficult, really, it was quite plain to see. He wondered idly, if all Elves were so easy to track and so clumsy, why were they viewed with such awe?

Now the blundering Elf-- 'Legolas', apparently-- was up in the treehouse, with several others. Halda had tracked him to here and listened to what parts of the conversation he could catch; even his hearing missed some parts of it. Those two richly-dressed ones would probably be good targets for a night-time adventure, but he had to make sure they were all asleep first.

The two potential targets chatted together, then one of them slid down the rope. A bedraggled Ranger who had been standing guard greeted him; there was a short, quiet argument, apparently centered around whether or not the Ranger would climb into the treehouse, and the two separated.

From the argument, Halda gathered that the Ranger was Riot, seemingly a female; the other was Thalion, probably a male. Something was strange about him, though-- he seemed too deliberate, like he was holding himself back all the time.

Thalion walked to the horses and talked quietly with them. Try as he might, Halda couldn't catch the words. He realized after a minute that the fellow wasn't speaking Common anyway, but some more sibilant tongue. Elvish, perhaps.

Was Thalion an Elf?

He shrugged. Elves supposedly had extraordinary hearing, sight, and reflexes; it would be a challenge to see if he could lift anything from this one.

Slowly, silently, he shifted through the copse in Thalion's direction. No-one in the flet above would be able to see him as he investigated the contents of his prey's pockets. He crept stealthily closer. Thalion continued his monologue to the horses. Halda carefully leaned out on one arm, stretched out the other, and ever so steadily lifted the flap on Thalion's belt pouch.

There was nothing visible inside it; judging from the slight resistance it made to Halda's probing fingers, nothing else accompanied the scroll-- certainly nothing as heavy as gold coins or other money. With a mental sigh, he let the flap close slowly again. Thalion shifted slightly, moving to one of the other horses; almost without thinking, Halda kept perfect pace with him.

On to the opposite side of the belt. His fingers met a small, round, hard object at the bottom of the leather pouch; he slipped his index finger and middle finger around it and silently lifted it from its owner.

Thalion suddenly froze. Halda froze too-- his breath ceased, his heart almost stopped for a moment. The Elf then gave a miniscule shrug and went back to chatting with the horses.

Halda knew better than to give a sigh of relief as he pulled the coin all the way out. Not a lot, but it was enough to have stolen from an Elf. He glanced momentarily at the coin, then slid it into the sole of his boot for safekeeping.

Seeing no further opportunities for investigating anyone else's purse, he slipped back and found a place to sleep a good 500 feet from the party. No sense in getting caught in the middle of the night.

-(----
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Postby Elladan_Elfhelm » Sat Apr 02, 2005 10:30 am

Thalion slid down the rope and landed quietly on the floor of the forest. Riot was there, she was wide awake, and she greeted him. “See your horses are safe and sound.”

“Thank you Riot. I’ll take over the watch now, and you can climb up and rest for a while.” Thalion replied.

“Climb up there?” Riot said disgustedly. “Don’t they have baskets or something to pull me?”

“No baskets.” Thalion paused and smiled. “Just pure muscle.”

“Muscle. I would show you muscle if it wasn’t so late.” Riot grabbed the rope, but then turned and spoke softly in the Sindar tongue to Thalion. “We are being watched. I would say he is a thief, be on guard, he will try something.”

Thalion was impressed that the Ranger knew his own tongue, so he replied very softly back to her. “Tell Dulin to be alert, but only attack if I give the signal.”

“Climb he says.” She spat in Common speech as she hoisted herself up on the rope, and began to climb. Thalion could hear her muttering to herself all the way to the top. “So they weren’t alone after all”, he thought to himself. Strange were the events in this forest, and he would be glad when he was finally able to return to Imladris. Much more peaceful was that land, than this.

Thalion picked up on the sound of the thief approaching him from behind, so he walked over to his and Dulin’s horses, and began to softly speak to them in elvish. “Ok Mormith if this thief pulls a weapon on me, kick him below his belt, but not too hard.” Thalion continued to mutter to his horse, as the thief ran his fingers through Thalion’s belt pouch. Thalion was about to whack the guy, but for some reason he did not fell threatened, so he decided to test the thief to see how good he was. He moved to Dulin’s horse, Celebglin, and gave the horse the same instruction as he did Mormith.

He felt the thief’s fingers in his money pouch then, and Thalion could tell that the thief had lifted one of the gold coins in the pouch. Thalion suddenly froze, to again test the thief. The only sound Thalion could hear was the sound of the thief’s heartbeat. “He’s good.” He said to Celebglin. The thief then withdrew back into the forest, and Thalion went back to keeping watch. He followed the sound of the thief, and he marked where he had laid down. Thalion guessed that the thief would be back, most likely when someone else was on watch. Thalion decided that then would be a good time to set a trap for the thief, and get his coin back too.

The rest of his watch passed uneventfully, and it was time for Elfkin to relieve him. He waited for about ten minutes, and then he hurriedly climbed up the rope. He found her off in the corner asleep, so he shook her gently, and told her it was her turn at the watch. “She mumbled something about breakfast, but Thalion ignored her, and she clumsily slid down the rope.

Thalion went over to where Dulin was sitting, and he knew the question was coming. “Why didn’t you whack that guy? He could have killed you?”

“He wasn’t going to kill me.”

“How do you know that?”

“I didn’t sense it.”

“Didn’t sense it?”

“Yes, do you remember the thieves we ran into on the way to Gondor?” Dulin nodded and Thalion continued. “Those guys wanted us dead, you could sense it.”

“That is the most stupidest thing I have ever heard. Of course they wanted us dead, they were shooting arrows at us.” Dulin shook her head in disbelief.

“Ok, bad example. Anyway, I don’t think he meant me any harm, plus Mormith and Celebglin were ready to...”

“Never mind.”

“Anyway, he will be back, probably why the hobbit is on watch. We can catch him then.” The two kept their eyes on the little hobbit below, being elves they could go without sleep, plus Thalion wanted to see if his suspicions were right or not.
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Postby Riot » Sat Apr 02, 2005 5:32 pm

Riot did not care for the treetops, but being a lazy ranger, she could sleep there. She relayed her message and then settled in a corner and drew her cloak close. She shut one eye, but the other focused on Legolas. Besides the fact he was such feminine eyecandy, there was something amazingly wrong with him. This was the great prancing prince of Mirkwood- rumored to be able to high-step and jig throughout the forest without making a sound. The fact that he had made such a clumsy approach... Riot sighed, the git had even managed to alert Ara and Kirra of his presence. How the Hell was she supposed to stealth attack intruders when maidens kept climing down trees pointing out the blatantly obvious? She cast a shadowed glare at the "elf prince."

Ara looked upset as she feigned sleep. Whatever had transpired between them was a mystery to Riot. Ara would have announced that Thranduil was dead, and she could not picture Legolas coming all the way out here to insult the princess.

Dulin shifted. Riot caught the movement and followed the she-elf's gaze. Yes, Legolas... While it was completely plausible that Dulin was admiring Legolas's green-pantyhosed behind, Riot was not so sure that was the case.

He was watching Ara with disturbing intensity.

Kirra moaned loudly, and Riot "nudged" the elf with her boot. The sleeper did it again and then let out a stridulous snore.

While she was slightly concerned about the new interloper, Riot figured it was Thalion's problem now. Reaver could take care of herself. There was the princely one and his eerie obsession with Ara. And the scrolls. She needed to take a look at those scrolls before they passed further into Mirkwood.

Well, this was not quite the time to do it, with rampant paranoia and such. She would wait.

Confident that Dulin would watch the princeling, Riot shut her other eye and fell into a light slumber.

Her less than pleasant nap was interrupted by Elfkin's moans of protest at getting up. While Riot could be sympathetic, Elfkin could have done it a bit quieter...

Riot opened one eye and lazily focused on Thalion.

“Why didn’t you whack that guy? He could have killed you?”

“He wasn’t going to kill me.”

“How do you know that?”

“I didn’t sense it.”

“Didn’t sense it?”

“Yes, do you remember the thieves we ran into on the way to Gondor? Those guys wanted us dead, you could sense it.”

“That is the most stupidest thing I have ever heard. Of course they wanted us dead, they were shooting arrows at us.”


Riot had a difficult time suppressing her snickers. Perhaps Thalion was not as wise as she thought. Ah well, it reassured her that he would not be to punitive if she managed to get caught lifting the scrolls.

“Anyway, he will be back, probably why the hobbit is on watch. We can catch him then.”

Riot yawned and stretched.

The twins turned. Riot pulled herself to her feet.

"Can't sleep- that one moans incessantly." She paused. "So did you gut the trespasser and put his head on a stake as warning?"

Thalion made a strange face.

"He let the thief go," Dulin replied with some disgust.

"Well, at least it's only a thief," Riot chuckled lightly. "And it's a good thing you didn't make a big mess- just about all the fauna in Mirkwood is attracted to the scent of blood."

"Elfkin is on watch," Thalion murmured, peering down through the trees.

Riot took a sideways glance at Legolas. He now sat beside Ara, still staring. Of course he was wrapped in his cloaks, but it was so obvious that he was awake...but then again, elves did sleep with their eyes open. The princess shuddered slightly. Then his gaze would glide around the talan to see if anyone was watching him. This happened several times. Their eyes met briefly and Riot smiled a bit savagely. Legolas nodded coldly and went back to his vigil.

"E's hay eepy cray," Riot muttered to the twins in Sindarin. "It's a bit out of character," she added in the Common Tongue. "Normally he's just annoying. Maybe he finally got a girlfriend or something."

Dulin shrugged, wondering if she should share their suspicions with the ranger. She too had noticed his obsessive watch of Ara. If he was an impostor, there was a good chance he was here to assassinate the princess. Thalion only looked down, watching Elfkin mutter vitriol to the horses.

"Do you think he will risk coming out again?" Riot wondered aloud. "Either way, he will not go far. Wandering through Mirkwood at night is less than intelligent..." And she spoke from experience. "If we were careful, we could search for him ourselves."

"That could alert him about our knowledge of his presence," Thalion retorted.

"Pfft, but if I were a thief, and I did contemplate the profession, I would not think Elfkin, Flinke, or myself to be worthwhile marks. It's not THAT brash. My mad acquaintance, Johnny Flett would have set the woods aflame and galloped through sans pants, decapitating trees and all that stood in his way...of course, as I said, he was a bit mad."

Dulin looked down at her ring. "The same elf who bestowed this upon me?"

Riot nodded. "Of course, I must clarify, he would have done that before Lark's death... Now, I'm not quite sure I want to get into his head."

Thalion continued to watch, rather bent on catching this thief. Riot wondered how much he'd lost. The damnable interloper could not have taken the scrolls...! No, he would have spoken to Dulin about it. Carefully she phrased her question, "What did you let him take?"

"A gold coin," Thalion answered simply.

Riot refrained from commenting on that matter. "If he does not come out before the next watch maybe we should do a preliminary search for him..." She looked questioningly at Thalion.
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Postby lark » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:30 pm

“I know roughly where he is.” Thalion stated. “It sounded as if he had settled down to rest in that area.” He said gesturing out into the darkness.

The three sat together quietly for a time, listening and watching. Eventually, Dulin spoke quietly to Riot again. “The mad elf you spoke of…Johnny Flett….You say he’s mad, yet you speak so fondly of him.”

Riot smiled a little. “Let’s just say he kept things interesting.”

Dulin considered the ring again. “He said it was a Life ring. What does it do?”

“It’s the Life Ring of Solace and Comfort. It comforts people.” Riot said flatly.

“That doesn’t seem very useful.” Dulin commented. Riot shrugged. Dulin looked at her brother sitting tensely as he watched the forest below them. Concentrating on the ring, she placed her hand on his arm. The ring glowed warmly. “Do you feel comforted?” She asked.

Thalion let out a small sigh and closed his eyes for a moment. “Yes… Now stop it! I’m trying to listen for movement.”

Dulin looked at Elfkin on the forest floor, and thought she looked very small and defenseless from their vantage point in the tree tops. “We need a way to have one of us on the ground without anyone knowing.” She thought for a moment. “You should have the human girl lead you down through the trees.”

Thalion looked a bit taken aback at the notion. “Flinke?” He said quietly. Dulin Riot and Thalion all looked at Flinke sleeping contently at the edge of the flet near them.

“You saw her jumping about in the tree tops earlier. She has a natural talent for climbing. Have her lead you across the tree tops and down at a further location. Then work your way back quietly. Kirra will be on watch next. Her clothing and gear are quite fine. If the thief intends to strike again, she would be a good target.”

Thalion considered for a moment. “What about Legolas?” He asked glancing discreetly at the sinister, yet feminine form of Legolas who was now hunkered down like a buzzard, watching Ara.

“Riot and I will keep an eye on him.” Dulin said confidently, smiling at the Ranger, who merely shrugged again.

The plan was agreed upon and Thalion went to wake Flinke and ask her assistance.
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Postby Elfkin » Wed Apr 06, 2005 5:01 am

Flinke had never been known to betray what she was dreaming, often leading people to assume that she always slept deep and dreamlessly.

In fact, right now, she was having a nightmare.

Over and over again, the jagged spikes – lengthened many times by her imagination to looming, fifty-foot stalags – flew through the air before her, easily within reach… but she was frozen, trapped as if by invisible bonds, unable to halt their course as flames of witchfire erupted from them, illuminating the cave with a ghastly ghost-light. She did nothing but watch as a small, bright figure tried to duck out of their way, simply stared as they pierced his body, slamming into and through the solid rock wall, not even giving Guido time to yelp as they stuck into him like a grotesque pincushion.

He looked at her as he died. He watched her with dulling eyes, as she finally managed to move and run to his body – but someone was grabbing her shoulders, shaking her, pulling her back –

“We need your help,” said Thalion as Flinke opened her eyes. “There is a thief about.” Quickly he explained what she had to do.

“All right,” she agreed, surprised that an elf of all people needed help travelling through trees. The two stepped into the tight-packed branches, noticing with satisfaction that this was a slow-growing forest. The trees’ wood was tight-packed and strong. Silently, the two slipped away in the direction indicated by Thalion.
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Postby Elladan_Elfhelm » Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:05 am

Thalion had to admit Dulin’s plan was good. No wait he hated to admit it. Even more he hated the fact that this human girl was going to help him get through the canopy of the trees. Thalion was used to climbing in trees, but he was nowhere near as good as this human. The two plunged into the high tree branches, and moved as silently as they possibly could.

Thalion had directed Flinke into the general direction of where he thought the thief had gone. Their plan was to move that direction for a short distance, and then veer off to the west. Thalion would then work his way down to the forest floor, and Flinke would head back to the flet.

The two got to the point where they wanted to veer west, so they stopped to make sure that they had not been spotted. Thalion held up his finger to his mouth to Flinke, and then concentrated on trying hear everything that he could. His mind began to wonder slightly, and the memory of Dulin touching him with that ring came to the forefront. Suddenly Thalion’s eyes got slightly heavy, and he had to shake himself awake.

“Something wrong?” Flinke asked quietly.

“Its that ring that my sister found.” He began. “I think Riot said it was called the Life Ring of Comfort or something. I think it just makes you want to go to sleep.”

Flinke’s mind went back to the many times that Lark had used that ring, and a tear formed in her eye. “I’ve seen its effect many times, but I never have seen it put someone to sleep. Maybe you just need a lot of comfort.”

“What?”

“Never mind. Just rambling.”

“Whatever. Let’s move.” The two then veered off through the trees, and finally they came to a point where Thalion could easily make his way down to the ground. “Thanks Flinke. Now you be as quiet as possible as you head back to the flet.”

“I will. Don’t worry.” She said, and then she headed off back in the direction that they had just come from.
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Postby balrogthane » Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:22 pm

The torchlight flickers mockingly on the wall in front of him, on the seductively half-open door, across my own face. It shows, dim and incomplete, the faces of the two guards-- brutish, devoid of intellect, driven by fear of pain to themselves and drawn by the promise of pain to others.

But the man directly in front of me is only a shadow: the light behind him and the hood he wears conspire to hide his face entirely.

He speaks, this shapeless tormentor, but the words are indistinguishable-- or blurred by memory. Only they create a growing sense of helplessness and terror. I struggle, but my hands and feet are chained tight, leaving me suspended in mid-air. The terror grows. The man pauses, addresses one of his brutes. The guard's face cracks into a mindless, sadistic grin, he pulls a club from his belt, he steps forward-


The prison, the guards, the torchlight vanish as Halda's eyes snap open. Something was wrong. There was no sound out of place, no suspect shadow moved around him, but he could feel it: something was wrong.

His eyes, now used to the dark, swept the trees around him slowly. Nothing. But the feeling, rather than disappearing, grew slowly stronger.

Halda pulled his dagger slowly. Mirkwood was said to be home to many highly unusual and lethal creatures, beyond spiders; perhaps this was some sort of camouflaged predator...? But no. This stalker was sentient, he was sure of it.

Possibilities: errant Mirkwood soldiers, scavenging Orcs... or a vengeful Thalion. The moment he thought of the Elf he knew it was he. He swore, silently. I should have known better than to rob an Elf...

But where was he? Halda's knowledge of Elves was grossly scanty: they represented a nearly completely unknown quantity. He ran through everything he knew of them and remembered a curious fascination for trees they were said to possess. Might they be liable to creep through the branches above him?

He scanned the canopy. There was nothing directly above, but south, back towards the treehouse the travelers were using, something was approaching. It was quiet and surefooted, but Halda could hear it.

Options? Run, fight, talk. He couldn't run-- if the Elf had tracked him here, he could track him anywhere. Fighting an Elf was probably a bad idea. Trying to reason with someone you've just robbed isn't usually the best choice, either.

Leaving him with a very unpleasant option indeed: being taken prisoner, tortured, and likely executed. Halda grimaced. He'd take his chances fighting the Elf. But he wouldn't do it cold.

As quietly as he could, he moved from his sleeping place to behind one of the nearby trees, leaving his pack and cloak behind as a decoy. A few moments work and he was all but invisible. He pulled a handy coil of rope from his pack and prepared a rough noose, then balanced this precariously in the branches above him. With a flick of his wrist, he could now drop the noose down around any victim who entered the copse.

He waited. His hunter paused, then turned and started back for the rest of the party. What?

He listened intently. Wait... there was something else. Something much quieter, that was moving... west. Maybe the Ranger had accompanied Thalion thus far, and now left him to his own devices? Halda nodded, pleased with the explanation.

So Thalion was still after him. Halda listened to him scramble all-but-silently to the forest floor, then move stealthily towards his hiding place. The Elf was truly a master of secrecy.

Now was the hardest part: when Halda began wondering if he still had time to escape. Could he avoid the Elf? What if his ambush failed miserably? What if he ended up killing Thalion, and the rest of the party hunted him down? His window of opportunity was shrinking rapidly-- it was run now or never.

And then it was over. Thalion was too close. Halda settled himself; his course of action was settled.

The Elf appeared behind a tree opposite Halda. He held his hand on his sword hilt, but it was undrawn-- that was a good sign. He looked intensely suspicious, though-- that was a bad sign. When he saw the cloak-covered pack, he froze momentarily... then Halda saw one corner of his mouth twitch in amusement.

Thalion's eyes swept the area once, again, again. The smile faded, and he moved forward cautiously. Halda waited...

His target drew closer-- closer. He was almost under the noose. One foot slipped under; a leg; half his body. Now the entire Elf was within the noose's reach. But Halda waited, still cautious...

Thalion moved a little farther forward. Suddenly, he stiffened. Halda dropped the noose and several things happened very quickly.

The Elf's sword swept out, the noose fell around him, he jumped back, Halda pulled the rope, Thalion jerked in surprise-- and the noose drew tight. Better than Halda could have hoped: it bound his arms bent upwards against his body. Thalion stumbled backwards and fell.

Halda burst from his ambuscade in a blur. He struck the astonished Elf's sword from his hand, whipped the dagger under his chin, and touched the point to his skin.

"Don't call for help."

-(----
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Postby lark » Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:47 pm

Riot and Dulin sat by the edge of the flet, talking quietly, and keeping a close eye on the suspicious elvish prince. Flinke had returned and managed to go back to sleep. Kirra and Aralana also appeared to be sleeping.

Dulin tilted her head and listened to the forest below, trying to keep track mentally where her brother was. Though she could not see or hear him at the moment, she knew the general area where he suspected the thief to be and the rout he was taking to get there. She heard a slight stirring. It was in the right area, but she knew it was not Thalion. It had previously been her desire to stay in the talan watching Legolas, and getting to know the surly Ranger, but now she began to worry about him. He was, after all, her little brother.

“Something is wrong.” She whispered to Riot. “I need to go find Thalion.”

The Ranger looked below. “Do you want me to go with you?”

“No. Someone needs to keep an eye on Legolas.” Riot nodded, and Dulin slid silently down the rope. Though Thalion was much stronger then his sister, Dulin was by far the quieter of the two. At least when she wasn‘t talking.

Elfkin looked up at her from where she sat against a tree and opened her mouth to speak, but Dulin placed her finger in front of her lips, and the hobbit closed her mouth again . She moved lightly in the direction of the sound she had heard, pausing now and then to listen. At last she heard what she believed to be her brother, though his movements were cautious, almost impossible to detect, but there was something else…a tenseness. It could be felt more then heard yet it was unmistakable. Dulin adjusted her grip on her quarter staff.

There was a sudden rush and a thud. Swiftly and silently, Dulin followed the sound and was upon it in a heartbeat. With horror, she beheld a strange man on top of her brother with a knife held to his throat. “Don’t call for help.” The man said in a low voice.

Thalion, though trapped, kept his composer. Narrowing his eyes, he spoke through clenched teeth. “I don’t need to call for help.”

Dulin had to act fast, but cautiously. The undergrowth was to thick for her to get a clear shot with her bow, and if she came at him with her staff, Thalion could be killed. Silently, she drew a dagger from her belt and advanced on them.

She knew Thalion could see her as she came up behind the man, but he did not betray her with his expression. Slowly, gently, she pressed the point of her dagger into the side of his neck and in almost a whisper, spoke into his ear. “Release him now, or I swear I will kill you.”

For a moment, the three of them were frozen where they were. Each considering what they’re next move should be. Each trying to think of a way to walk away unhurt.
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Postby Riot » Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:58 am

Riot could hear nothing, and that bothered her. All these stealthy beings in the forest made her rather suspicious. She could be categorized as a stealthy being and she knew from experience that when beings were being stealthy, they were up to no good.

Those silly elves and their pet thief. Riot shook her head and glanced warily at Legolas who was looking less pretty than he was reputed to be. In fact, if she cocked her head to the side, and the full moon hit him just right...he looked...different. Scary even. Riot couldn't find a way to describe it, but she did not care for his sorcery one bit. He seemed to be asleep, but Riot was not sure. She glanced back down through the canopy and debated who to help. Thalion and Dulin were newcomers. They were also elves and should be able to handle one simple thief. Ara, Elfkin, and Flinke had been her traveling companions for quite some time now. Riot had been around them long enough and frankly, those three could take care of themselves. Besides, she was wide-awake and rather bored.

But then there was that whole protect the princess silliness. Riot sighed and pulled back her foot to give someone a flying kick. If she kicked Legolas out of the flett, the problem would be solved. If she kicked Flinke awake, she could keep watch. But then if she wanted her to do her a favor, she probably should not kick her.

Sighing she glared at Legolas's unmoving form. Muttering curses, she knelt by Flinke and pinched her nostrils. Eventually the Rohirric maid awakened gasping.

"I'M GONNA SAW OFF YOUR EARS AND FEED THEM TO-"

Riot grinned widely and clamped her hand across Flinke's mouth.

"Dulin and Thalion went down and I haven't heard a thing. So I'm going to go down and have a lil looksie. Plus Legolas is creeping me out. So if you could keep watch and make sure Ara doesn't somehow hurt herself, I'd be much obliged."

"Yes, you would," Flinke muttered, flicking a nasty looking dagger in Riot's face. "I want a hot breakfast, and another favor for this!"

Riot rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She leaned a little closer and whispered in Sindarin, "Egolas Lay is cting ay eirder way an thay sual uay. "

"...He can probably speak Sindarin, too Riot." Flinke sighed. "Though I don't believe I do?"

Riot twitched. "That isn't my point. Just watch him and stick that toothpick in his head if he starts acting weirder."

"I'll keep watch," Flinke muttered, rather annoyed at being disturbed for the second time.

Riot cheerfully climbed down the tree and stepped over an inert Elfkin. The twins had gone somewhere west. Or east. That way. Riot did not bother with stealth. She moved quickly, occasionally having spider hallucinations. Less than five minutes had passed and it was then she came upon the awkward trio.

"Well isn't this an amiable party. Why wasn't I invited?" Riot put her hands on her hips and scrutinized the situation. Well, it did seem to be one of those cliff-hanging stalemate things.

Thalion was standing on his toes, a rope wrapped precariously around his upper body. The human thief had his dagger point pressed against the elf's larynx. Dulin, in turn had her forearm around the thief's neck, and her dagger pressed tightly under his chin.

"If three's a crowd..."

"Disarm him, Riot!" Thalion said a bit annoyed by her slow reaction.

"Don't you mean de-arm him? After all, the suitable punishment for a thief usually involves losing a limb or two." Riot winked at Dulin who did not seem as amused.

The thief stayed still, though Riot was certain his eyes were searching for an escape route.

"Drop the knife," Dulin hissed a bit viciously. She tightened her hold on the thief.

Seeing no other option at the moment, he obeyed, letting Thalion exhale in relief. Riot sidled up to Thalion and retrieved the knife before using it to cut his bonds. The elf bent to retrieve his sword and several things occurred.

The thief had managed to get one arm between Dulin's and the dagger. With his other, he elbowed her hard in the gut. She made an "OOF" noise and her grip loosened enough for him to get away.

Riot lunged, but Thalion was faster. He tackled the thief and the pair rolled around on the ground. Grappling was quite hard with a sword. The slippery little thief managed to get to his feet and delivered a hard kick to Thalion's left knee.

Dulin had rapidly recovered from the blow. Enraged, she charged the thief. Momentarily stunned by the she-elf's ferocity, only later did he realize that he never had a chance. Dulin delivered a swift kick between his legs. The force would have had an Uruk singing soprano, so it really was no surprise when he fell over. Dulin had her foot on his throat and Thalion had his sword against the side of the thief's neck.

"You crossed my little-"

"You struck my big-"

Riot snickered as the pair stopped to look at each other a bit sheepishly.

"What a let down. We took you down and I didn't even have to raise a finger," Riot said with mock (?) arrogance. "So what do we want to do with him? Spider bait? Glue? I think drawing and quartering might have some merit."

The twins exchanged looks and began binding the thief.

"You can't hold me," he said finally, and with some smugness.

"So we'll kill you," Riot declared cheerfully drawing her sword.

"Riot!" Came Elfkin's panicked voice.

The ranger paused, her sixth sense manifesting far too late. Something was amiss. Something bad was about to happen. Riot winced as she thought of Flinke and Ara...

"RIOT!!!"

Riot turned in time to see a large shadow drop from the canopy. Of all the things... Shaking her head, she laughed a little to herself. OK, it was few seconds of precognition, but Riot knew the call before Elfkin made it.

"SPIDERS!!!!!!!"
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Postby Elladan_Elfhelm » Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:15 am

Thalion’s head shot up to the skyline when he heard Riot’s scream. Thalion’s sword was at the ready, as the shadowy shapes plopped onto the forest floor all around them. Dulin was holding the thief’s cords behind his back with one hand, and her quarterstaff in the other. “Let me go.” The thief hissed. The spiders were advancing on them, and there wasn’t much time for debate. Dulin looked over at her brother who was preparing to fight off the spiders.

“What do we do with him?” Dulin quickly asked.

“Throw him to them.” Riot suggested. “Maybe he will fill their bellies.”

“I can fight.” The thief yelled again with a slight bit of panic. “Let me go.”

Thalion knew that was the best course, and that there was no time to argue. “Let him go.” Dulin quickly cut the ropes with her dagger, and then backed up next to her brother. “How many are there?”

“One is too many for me.” Thalion replied, and the closest spider swung one of its legs at him. He raised his sword and caught the leg on the flat of his sword. He flicked his sword around quickly, and the leg was sent flying twenty feet away. The spider hissed in pain, and then charged at him head on. Thalion quickly pushed Dulin away, and stood there holding his ground. The spider was almost on top of him, and Dulin cried out. “Thal!”

Thalion suddenly leaped with all of his might, and flipped in the air. He sliced down with his sword and ran it along the back of the black spider. The elvish blade bit deep and clean through the hideous creature, and it slid to the ground dead. Thalion landed on his feet, and ducked immediately under the blow of the next spider. He swung his sword quickly with one hand and severed the front two legs of this spider. Before this spider had a chance to howl in pain, Thalion brought his free hand up with his dagger and plunged it into the spider’s grotesque head.

“Two down.” He said, and then ran back to his sister, who was fighting with two of the beasts.
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Postby balrogthane » Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:24 am

Halda had to act fast. He was surrounded by spiders, without his best weapon, and in the midst of a trio of people who were likely to want him dead-- and had proved they had the ability to do it. Best option?

Leave.

He leapt up and caught a nearby, spider-free branch. He scrambled up, pulled two scalpel-sharp throwing daggers from his left boot, and looked for the best escape route. Looked like west-- only one slow, fat spider was approaching from that way.

The spider hissed something unintelligible at him and started picking its way through the branches. Halda spread the daggers in his right hand slightly and threw them; with the accuracy of Elven arrows, they plunged straight into the spider's two largest frontal eyes. It screamed and toppled to the side. Halda darted forward along the branch, jerked his daggers out before it hit the ground, and continued.

Now he was out, but without his pack or his dagger. The best way to get them back... would be to ensure the little band of warriors lost their battle with the spiders.

Halda turned and pulled his bow, strung it quickly, and selected a venom arrow. The venom was of his own design: a long, very thin arrow, with metal blades making a slight spiral down half the length. It was highly accurate and long-range; although it made a smaller wound than most arrows, it traveled fast and penetrated deeply. It was a precision arrow, making head and heart shots possible, and easy, even with a short bow like his.

The ranger, Riot, was nearest, having fun chopping off bits of her spiders' legs. He drifted the arrow towards her-- but no. The she-Elf was on the opposite side of the glade, fighting off two more spiders. I want you. Halda could not forgive her for sneaking up on him.

He aimed the arrow carefully. It would fly straight through the unprotected back of her head. He guessed he would be able to get another arrow and take Thalion out before he noticed, and Riot should be easier.

He pulled back on the string. His target kept bobbing, as the Elf ducked and weaved in her combat. For a moment she paused, preparing for a death stroke-- her head stilled. Halda

aimed at the other spider and let fly. The venom crossed the intervening space in a millisecond and went right through the spider's ugly forehead, through the neck, and out through the abdomen before plunging into a tree.

Why? He didn't really know. Self-analysis could come later. Now he pulled another arrow, aimed, and felled another spider, all in less than five seconds.

"RIIIOOOTTT!!!"

Someone back in the treehouse was screaming. Halda turned and snuck that way, hoping to find something to redeem this night.

-(----
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Postby Aralana_Greenleaf » Tue Apr 12, 2005 10:39 am

Ara shot up with the sounds of a fight down below and the screaming of Riot's name. She grabbed her knives, bow and arrows and kicked Legolas, who for some reason was still sitting in the same place, watching her.

"Get up, I'm surprised your not already down there" she said and hurried down to the forest floor.

This was his chance; it was the perfect opportunity for him to finish the job he'd been sent to do. He got up, picked up his bow and arrows and left the flet.

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

It seemed no matter how many spiders were killed, more kept coming from the forest around them. Because her brother did not seem like himself Ara tried to watch his fighting style every chance she got, and it was indeed, different. Her brother was always a confident archer, but now, he didn't seem too sure of his skills, of course this was well hidden, but being and Elf helped her see it. Soon her attention was brought back to the battle at hand and she stooped watching Legolas.

Which was a mistake. He had been watching her waiting for the right time to make his move. He watched her fight with her knives, and she was very good. But not seeing him as a threat, she didn't pay attention to his fighting, or lack there off, when he could, he stayed back, but now he saw his chance, he readied his bow like he was going to shot some far off spider...
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Postby ElvenChild1292 » Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:15 pm

Kirra stood the moment she heard the scream. Grabbing her bow and arrow she began to fire arrows and most csught her enemies of guard. Although a huge spider began to climb a tree next to the talan. Kirra hadn't noticed it until it gave a shriek and fell to the bottom of the floor. Apparently, she hadn't been using her senses too well. Her fighting was good though.When most of the spiders she had just killed were lying around her feet when she noticed Legolas behind a bush. He didn't see her staring at him, so she walked right behind him. Without noticing her, he raised an arrow to - what it seemed like.....ARA? His own sister. This is wierd, she thought. I have to do something. Then she felt her dagger sheath rub against her leg. She unsheathed it slowly and put it to Legolas' neck.

"Shoot and die," She began "put it down, and live. Your choice. I won't let you kill your own sister. Unless she's not your sister - and you're not Legolas." He tensed.

Legolas put the aroow down and turned his head to her.

"Good. Now get out there and fight." He stood warily and hobbled over to Ara and Ara looked at Kirra. "Just keep fighting!" She hollered to Ara.

Then, out of nowhere, a spider came running toward Kirra. She jumped, landed behind it and cut its back legs. But there was another one waiting right behind it and without even Kirra noticing it ran up behind her and pushed her. Pushed her past the dying spider on the ground and straight into Legolas. She stopped immediatly and looked at her left arm.

"Ow." She whispered warily falling to the ground on her knees. One of Legolas' knives had been stabbed in her arm. She glared at Legolas. With a slight smile she said "I didn't think you'd get revenge that quick." And she fell to where she was sitting up against a tree. Ara shot a questioning look at her. "No! Keep fighting." She pulled herself up the rope easily. (She had strength from a while back.) Atop it was her bag. She rummaged through it with her hurt hand (only the arm was hurt) and found bandaging. She wrapped her arm in it and leaned on a branch. Great, she thought, what goes around comes around.
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