Mithril Knights: Guardians of Middle-earth

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Mithril Knights: Guardians of Middle-earth

Postby Mithril Knights » Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:07 pm

Sir Aglanor, Steward of the Mirkwood Guildhouse, was comfortably ensconced in the house's taproom, ruminating about the last three months. He had been working tirelessly sheltering, feeding, arming, and healing Mithril Knights and those who fought with them against the Red Hammer at Laketown.

The Mirkwood Guildhouse was home to the Sylvan Elves of Mirkwood who wore the Mithril Cloak; and had not seen such commotion since the end of the War of the Ring. In fact, since the Fourth Age began, it was little more than a way station for Mithril Knights traveling to and from Dale, Erebor, and Thranduil's Halls.

It has been quiet around here for a week now, thought Aglanor, scanning the room to find only a few other Knights having a nightcap or late meal, finally. Most of the Mirkwood Guildhouse's full-time residents were either at Laketown or Erebor aiding in the reconstruction, which was now going easier since Spring had begun.

He sipped wine from a silver chalice, glad that the Mirkwood Guildhouse no longer served as headquarters for the whole Guild, since Lord Elbren and his contingent left for Edoras. He was proud to serve, as any Knight would be, but he was also very weary.

No longer were the scouts returning to Mirkwood with their reports; they would now head for Edoras. Very little had been found of the Red Hammer since they were routed. The Knights that were sent far eastward to determine their origins and to glean what they could of their current disposition had not had time enough to reach their destinations.

Councils had been held, with those of the Wise left in Middle-earth coming to Mirkwood to hear the tales of those who had encountered the Red Hammer. Each Mithril Knight, particularly those that had split from the main contingent, was debriefed; and the whole story pieced together and recorded by scribes.

The Wise had departed just before Lord Elbren, now a week thence, thought Aglanor, to digest what they had learned in order to make determinations about the affair and if anything should be done about it. The only solid decisions that had been made were thus: Mithril Knight resources, men and materials, would be used to help rebuild the parts of Laketown, Dale, and Erebor damaged by the siege; Lord Elbren would take his apprentice and the other Knights in Training to Edoras for their initiation, as well as to counsel King Eomer and King Ellesar (messengers were dispatched to both immediately after the councils of the wise, apprising them of the situation); and Lord Anorast should, if he chooses to accept the responsibility, continue as Guardian of the Sickle of Vanyar, holding and wielding the relic in the name of the Mithril Knights and the peoples of Eru, if it is ever needed again.

Sir Aglanor gulped the last of his wine as he thought of those who were lost in the senseless siege. The fallen had been honored, each according to his or her culture, with many loaded into wains and escorted to the homes of their birth.

As he folded his napkin and slid his chair back from the table, Aglanor saw the Guildhouse's chief physician sitting nearby and sipping a steaming mug of fragrant herbal tea. He noticed that the healer looked as exhausted as Aglanor felt. He too had seen an immense flurry of activity, from which he was just now beginning to recover. The wounded were nearly all fully recovered and were now off doing their duty once again. Only Lord Erinhue remained in the healers' house. Two months after the emergence of the berserker, Illuvator's bright spirit remained darkened, and the starbright smile veiled behind the coma's shroud.

Sir Aglanor left the Guildhouse's informal dining and drinking space thinking about the next morning's weather and the possibility that he might get away for stroll amongst the newly-budding trees of the forest. However, his pleasant thought was unceremoniously interrupted by a saluting Knight.

"My Lord," began the Knight, who was one of the sentries currently on duty, "We found a man in the forest, very near to the secret entrance of the Guildhouse. His horse was dead and he was very nearly so, apparently starved."

"Where is he now?" asked Aglanor.

"Near the main gate, Sir. I wanted to ask your permission to bring him in and help him."

"Of course, it is our duty to help those in need, whenever we can. Why did you feel the need to ask permission?"

"Because he bore this," said the sentry, holding out an object with both hands.

Aglanor's eyes widened as he took the object, "Did he say anything?"

"Yes, sir. He seemed to know us as Mithril Knights. He said that he recognized our Cloaks, and began weeping. He said that he had traveled to many lands looking for us, that his people are in great danger and need our help. He barely finished his sentence before passing out."

"I see," Aglanor stroked his chin in thought while staring at the thing now cradled in his arms. "The physician is in the taproom, tell him quickly about his new charge and then go see that this aid-seeker is brought to the healing house."

Aglanor strode quickly in the direction of the armory, in order to lock away the object the stranger had brought with him. The armory was always locked and under surveillance and therefore was the safest place for such a thing until the man regained consciousness and told his story.

~~~~

Several days later, it was reported that the stranger who had collapsed on the threshold of the Mithril Knights' Mirkwood Guildhouse was awake, able to walk, and taking solid food. Aglanor bade the reporting Knight to summon all Knights currently in the Guildhouse to the main council chamber the following afternoon, and to tell the stranger that he would be allowed to come before the council and tell his tale.

So much for peace and quiet, thought the Guildhouse Steward as he left his study for the armory in order to check on the security of the object the stranger had nearly died to deliver to them.
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Postby Tempest » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:27 am

War had taken its toll on Tempest. Every battle, every bloodied face, every ally she had lost along the way came back in whispered dreams to torment her. Worse yet, the betrayals of long ago haunted her waking steps, filling her mind with regret and questions that she had no answers for. Erinhue had not returned to them, his body still slept at the Guild house in Mirkwood, though no amount of wisdom from the elves seemed able to wake him. The other Knights agreed that the act had been justified, and had saved many lives, but she blamed herself for his condition, for giving him the order to allow the Berserker to gain control of him.

She had followed the trails of the last of the Red Hammer until such trails grew cold. Elbren had sent her to the South, knowing that her skill in language and culture from her work under Sauron would be invaluable in the darker regions where the dwarves had dispersed. She had wanted to journey Eastward with the other Mithril Knights, but Elbren had insisted, so she turned her eyes toward the South grimly. She was a relentless pursuer, but she found little of value in her search. It seemed as though the remnants of the Red Hammer army had simply vanished. Reluctantly, after two months of travel, she had returned to Edoras to report to Elbren.

”It was fruitless, Elbren, as I told you it would be. The survivors fled East, as I suspected, and there were few that had any connection to the South. I suppose the Knights you sent eastward have not yet returned?” she inquired.

”No, the time has been too short, though I am surprised at the distance you managed to cover in so brief a time.”

She shrugged. ”That is because I slept little, and changed horses often. No lingering in inns except for information purposes.”

When she had first entered, Elbren had noted the paleness of her countenance and the hollowness of her eyes, trying to conceal his alarm. Indeed, she looked worse than when they had parted two months prior, though it seemed she had not encountered much resistance in her travels to give her so ragged a look. He suspected that much of her discomfort had to do with guilt and grief than any physical malady.

He smiled gently at her. ”Well, you shall get the rest you need now. Most of our brethren found healing in Mirkwood, but you were too eager to continue the search that I knew you would not find rest until you were done. Surely now….”

”I am perfectly fine. Perhaps it is not too late for me to follow those who have gone East. There is still work to be done.”

”Yes, for others, not for you.” He took out a parchment and scrawled a few hasty lines on it before rolling it up and handing it to her. ”Give this to the main physician at the Guild house in Mirkwood. You are to stay there until he releases you.”

Anger flashed through her dark eyes. ”This is ridiculous,” she snapped. ”Why send me to Mirkwood? As you can see, there is nothing wrong with me.”

”All Knights who fought for Esgaroth and Laketown were required to be cleared by our chief physician before they could return to active duty. There are no exceptions.” He held up his hand to stifle any further protest. ”Besides,” he added, ”An old friend of yours still resides there.”

She caught his eye and held it. ”He has not awakened these past months?” she asked quietly.

”No,” came his reply, though it pained him to see a shadow cross her face at his words.

She sighed and departed with a nod.

_______________________________________________________________________

The chief physician also sighed when he read Elbren’s letter. He knew enough of Tempest’s temperament to know that she would be a most difficult patient. What made her case especially trying was the fact that she had no physical sickness, and such wounds cannot be so easily healed, for some sicknesses are not of the flesh.

The healers found her a restless patient, uneasy in their care and unable to benefit fully from their treatments. And though the wound from Clarion had left nothing more than a slight scar, it troubled her at times with a dull pain that could not be relieved even with the most skilled hands.

They would find her often in the hallway outside of Erinhue’s room, watching the gently rising and falling of the bard’s chest as he slept, with a look upon her face that they did not understand. Finally, a letter was written to Elbren explaining the lack of progress in her condition and recommending that she be allowed to travel to Lothlorien, for it was understood that her son was residing there under the care of Elbren’s wife, Carnimiriel. Permission was granted, for Elbren secretly hoped that the healers in Lorien would be more successful.

”Finally released from your cage?” Aglanor noted with a tired smile as he observed her checking her horse before heading out.

”What Elbren doesn’t realize is that it is all this sitting around doing nothing that is making me ill.’ she snapped. ”I’ll be returning here in a few weeks, and by then I hope he’ll come to his senses and let me go East to help the Knights there!”
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Postby Guruthostirn » Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:02 pm

With a frown, Anorast stared up at the tiny window high in the southern wall. A beam of sunlight pierced through into the dark room, striking the northern wall. The only other illumination was a single small candle, slowly burning away in front of the old elf. Between himself and the flame rested a letter, almost complete, yet a torture to finish.

There is little more to be said, I found few remnants of the Red Hammer, and no trails left to follow. It appears you and I finished them, there upon the lake.

Above those last lines were Anorast's tale, starting just before the defeat of the Red Hammer before Erebor. Anorast had headed a small force of knights and elves charged with following the foul dwarves, but found few traces of them. Up and down the wilds east of Dale they'd searched but to no avail. East of the Iron Hills all sign of the Red Hammer disappeared, even the telltale signs, broken armor, discarded trash. Finally they'd turned back, first stopping in Dale, checking on the security of the survivors, and finally returning to the Guildhouse. Their elven commander had remained beside the lake, and only arrived in the Greenwood the last morning, where Anorast had immediately retired to the small room in which he'd stayed before. After a brief nap the old elf had started his letter.

When you read this letter, I hope it finds you in good health, and I hope I am the one who handed it to you. If not, I need not say my feelings, for you know them.

Anorast


Looking over towards a small leather bag hanging beside the door Anorast sighed. This letter was the closure he'd been dreading. He wasn't sure why he'd written it, a simple description of his actions after she'd left. There were no private thoughts, no wistful thinking, no regrets, only the events afterwards. In his heart Anorast knew no future awaited him with her, and when she'd left he'd closed that chapter of his life. Before him, written in ink, was his final statement. Sometimes, during the long days of searching the wilds Anorast had fallen silent, thoughts of 'what if' crawling through his mind. What if she came back, what if he never saw her. Finally Anorast had come to the decision to write one letter, and move on. At least, this time, there was a chance she'd get to read it, unlike the last time the old elf had lost a love.

With quick movements Anorast folded the letter and slid it inside the waiting envelope. Anorast had spent enough time dwelling on this subject in the wilds, now it was finished, and no more time would be spent upon the past. Now another subject needed to be addressed. Standing quickly the old elf strode to the door and grabbed his sword. With a swift movement Anorast slung the belt across his chest, and wrapped himself again in his mark of the Mithril Knights, his dark blue cloak, still covered in dust. Next to the pegs where his cloak and sword had hung was the dark leather bag, hiding the awesome power resting within, asleep. Anorast still wondered at the wisdom of keeping the Sickle so close to the sword he carried. At the Lake Battle the two showed a kinship, a connection of power that still awed Anorast, and troubled him. Yet during the search afterwards no signs of conflict between the weapons showed, and the Sickle seemed content to sleep quietly. Now that Anorast had returned to the Mirkwood Guildhouse he could relinquish this responsibility, and burden, to the armory of the Mithril Knights Headquarters.

Taking down the Sickle bag Anorast left his small room, his letter in one hand, the weapon in the other. Quietly the tall elf strode through the halls of the Guildhouse, unerringly finding his way towards the armory. Beneath his cloak Anorast wore the armor he'd claimed at the Lorien armory after his initiation, only months before. The fine chainmail coat and vambraces, crafted from the Guild's signature metal, had served him well in the battles with the Red Hammer. Long white hair flowed behind Anorast as he passed by closed doors and through quiet halls till he stood before the heavy door to the armory. From across the hall the Master of Arms came out to greet Anorast.

"How may I help you, Lord Anorast?"

"I have something to lay to rest here, Giliath" Anorast raised the leather bag. "This needs to be locked away."

The Master of Arms looked at the bag, then looked back at Anorast. That he'd heard the tale from Lake Town was evident in his face, and he knew what lay before him.

"Yes, Lord Anorast, I can find a place for it." Producing a large key from some hidden pocket the Master of Arms opened the door to the armory. "We don't have much left here, Lord Anorast, I'll be honored to guard the Sickle of Arda."

A frown crept across Anorast's face as he followed Giliath into the armory. During his last visit to the Mirkwood Guildhouse Anorast had visited the armory, finding it full of the items of war. This armory was larger than the other armory he'd visited in Lorien, and previously had been packed with the finest of the extended Mithril Knight arms collection. But now the cavernous room echoed with emptiness. The stockpile of standard weapons and armor was little changed, but beyond that the racks and tables of rare weapons were nearly empty, and the vast vaults for special artifacts stood open, their contents gone. Only one was closed and locked. During Anorast's time away something had happened.

Motioning for Anorast to follow, Giliath approached the first open vault next to the locked compartment. Behind him Anorast halted. Against the wall something had caught the old elf's eye. Before the great battle on the shores of the Long Lake Anorast had taken up a Dale shield, and before it was destroyed the heavy wooden defense had saved his life several times. Now those moments of chaos on a grand scale came back to Anorast, and slowly he approached the item.

Noting the elf's movement Giliath looked over at Anorast, and then looked beyond him. "That's a rare thing, that shield."

"Noldor Captain of Infantry design, isn't it?" Anorast asked over his shoulder, not taking his eyes off the shield.

"Yes, borne in several battles against the forces of Angband. Since the fall of Beleriand it was only used once, against Sauron. A lieutenant of Gil-galad bore it to victory in the corridors of Barad-Dur. I can't remember his name now, but he returned the shield to the Mithril Knights, and now it rests here."

"May I take it up?" Anorast turned to look at Giliath, who nodded in response. Taking up the shield Anorast was surprised by the lack of weight. It was broad and tall, covered by bright steel, backed by dense, polished oak. Fine designs covered it's unmarred face. "It's not mithril, but it's so light."

"They made things well, the Noldor."

The old elf turned to see the new speaker. At the door of the armory stood Sir Aglanor, Steward of the Mirkwood Guildhouse. Anorast nodded to Sir Aglanor.

"Yes, they did." Anorast turned to place the shield back against the wall, but was stopped by Giliath.

"Lord Anorast, I've heard what you did against the Red Hammer. Use this shield well."

"You may need it soon, Lord Anorast," said Sir Aglanor, walking towards them, carefully sliding past tables covered in armor. "Have you received the summons?"

"Summons? No, I missed that."

"Of course not, you've been gone in the east and missed quite a bit." Aglanor frowned at the tall elf. "You missed the Council of Wise, and missed telling your tale to them. You've missed the departure of Lord Elbren to Edoras, and the moving of the Mithril Knight Headquarters along with him."

"Well, that explains a few things." Anorast gestured towards the empty vaults behind him. "I was wondering why this place was so empty. Except for whatever is in this vault, the Sickle won't have any companionship."

"That's another thing you missed, Anorast," Aglanor said with a slight smile. "You've been offered the responsibility of the Sickle."

At this Anorast paused. No one knew the full power of the Sickle, and only one other than himself had experienced it's entire story since the Mithril Knights had discovered the relic within Orthanc. Anorast alone knew the risk of bearing the Sickle, and the danger for one not accepted by the weapon. The old elf wasn't even sure it would be safe for him to carry the Sickle.

"For now, I will carry it, Sir Aglanor, but I won't promise anything. There will be another who is destined to carry the Sickle of Vanyar."

"Good." Smiling now, Sir Aglanor turned to Giliath. "Open the vault."
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Postby Vanaladiel » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:50 pm

Vana stood staring out the window of her room, looking up to the full moon. Her chin resting upon her hands, a slight breeze whispered of the changing seasons, a fresh smell of earth and new growth. Slowly she dropped her gaze as she lowers one hand upon the window sill. The feel of the cool stone brought her back from her wandering thoughts. She remembered her years of living within these palace walls of King Thranduil of Mirkwood. Years of playing in the hallways and running through the woods, but now she is grown and such things, though great memories, would never be again. She remembered how hard she fought to leave Mirkwood and be pledged to the Mithril Knights. How her Uncle, the King, had fought it trying to hold her to her station as if he could hold the sands of time within his hands. Slowly his hold was failing and he soon accepted that Vana was not meant to be held as a prisoner to the station of a Lady of the Palace. So with a sorrowfilled heart he allowed Vana to leave and seek her place amongst the Knights.

Vana never knew how he fought within himself about his fears for her. How deeply he loved her as his own child, though he could never verbalize it. It pained him to see her fight so hard to be free of him when all he wanted was to keep her safe. She never saw the nights he paced the floors and halls of the Palace when word came of the great battle with the Red Hammer and a report reached his ear of her being injured. Till she returned to the guildhouse with the other knights he didn't know if she lived or died. He had aged or so it seemed to Vana when she looked upon his face when he first came into the guildhouse after their arrival.

"Lord Thranduil!" She exclaimed as she approached his open arms and hugged him.

"Child, I am so thankful that you are back even if you can not stay long." spoke the King. Vana could have sworn that he sobbed into her shoulder as they embraced there. "Let me look at your girl!" he stated as he pushed her to arms length. Her long blonde waves still falling to her slender waist and her green eyes flashed with excitement and life. "I heard that you had been injured, yet here you stand and seem just fine."

"Yes, I was not diligent as I should have been and received an injury to my shoulder but it has healed nicely with the herbs and medicines of the houses of healing." She smiled but she could see his concern. "Honestly I am fine now."

"Very well then. How long will you be staying and will you stay here in the guild house or come to the Palace?"

"I will stay here for a while but then I will come to the Palace for a time as well. It is still my home I hope?"

"But of course it is!" With that she smiled to herself.

Now here she stands at the window in her old room. So much had happened in the time since she had first left. The training had been long and intense with the initiation as the prize attained. She glanced over her shoulder now to see the cloak of the Mithril Knights hanging upon the foot of her bed where the maids had placed it after having it cleaned. They had also brought in many of the dresses she used to wear when she was home. She wondered if they would still fit.

Vana had been called, as had all the other Mithril Knights, to the council of the Wise to recount her own memories of the battle with the Red Hammer and what followed. Much of it was just routine but they didn't know if any of the Knights might remember or recall something that would add to what was already known and becoming known by the Wise of the battles. Most of the Mithril Knights kept to themselves during their time of respite at the guildhouse. Though once in a while you could find two or three at the houses taproom. Laughing and seeming much like they did before the battles.

Once or twice as Vana walked the gardens she would find herself standing at the house of healing. She would step in and inquire about the one who had not awoken yet. Vana felt concern and compassion for a man that she thought she had known but with the appearance of the berserker knew she probably never really knew him. She had been unconscious from her shoulder injury when the berserker had been released. Fear for what that had meant had escaped her since she had never seen him that way. But something about his helplessness as he lay there touched her heart and the healers were perplexed with his continuing coma. Vana decided to became a frequent visitor sitting beside his bed and talking to him about anything and everything she knew. She would take the cloth that they were using for him and rinse it carefully in the mix of Athelas and lavender, careful to ring it out and then place it to his brow. Telling him about the trees that were in bloom and the animals that were wandering by outside his window.

"Today as I was walking up to visit you I saw a red fawn beneath your window. It is rare to see a red fawn, for usually they are brown with tan spots. She must have sensed my approach for she darted off back into the woods." She paused a moment then added. "You know I dont think I have ever seen a red fawn in these woods. It must be a good sign."

Vana dabbed the cloth again across his brow then rinsed it once more. She knew that nothing she did was any better for Lord Erinhue then what the healers themselves had done for him but it made her feel as if she were doing something for someone else.

On this particular day just about the time Vana was thinking of leaving the houses of healing, a commotion erupted. Then the door swung open and a group of people brought in another patient to be tended. It wouldn't normally have interested Vana but this time there were members from Lord Aglanors personal guard amongst the people. They carried a man who appeared to be unconscious or dead to a bed in the far corner. Vana tried to listen to all that was said but they spoke in such soft whispers that all she could make out was that he had collapsed at the door of the Guildhouse and that he arrived with something of importance for the Mithril Knights.

A few days later as Vana was arriving to visit the houses of healing she is approached by a knight walking hurriedly through the Guildhouse.

He hands her a note that she reads hurriedly, "Lord Anglanor has summoned the Knights to a council!" He stated.

"So we are summoned on urgent business already? I will come!"
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Postby erinhue » Tue Sep 25, 2007 7:59 pm

*It was late evening in the golden heart of fall and the sunset sky was a match for the warm glow beaming from the windows of the Lucky Fortune Inn. The remnants of a well attended wedding had flowed from the reception to the Inn, where the crowd filled every table and crowed three heads deep around the polished mahogany bar.

“This is supposed to be a wedding celebration…” a rough voice called out above the buzz of conversations. “…but this party is getting as dull as an old troll’s back teeth” The responding laughter encouraged the wag. “What we need is some music. We need a song. Someone said there was a famous bard in attendance at the wedding. Where is he now we need a song?”

“And what would you have me play?” The good natured shout came from a back corner of the tap room that had curiously collected all the tavern serving girls and several female patrons of various ages. Following a high pitched giggle, the knot of women parted and the tall man seated in their midsts rose to his feet. As he stood he had to disentangle himself from a rather plump wench who had one arm wrapped around his neck while the fingers of her other hand trailed through the tight curls of his close cropped beard to trace the hidden dimple in his chin.

“Flora, girl you’d best ta let me go now” Erinhue said and flashed his famous smile at the clinging vine. “You heard the man, it’s time I went to work.” Flora squeezed him closer and planted a kiss loudly on his cheek. Her fingers brushed through his dark curly hair and lingered a little at salt flecked temple before the bard disentangled himself and gently moved the girl aside. “Agarak, you old worm, I know you heard him too. Wake up, its time to earn our keep.”

From its comfortable niche above and behind the tavern’s mahogany bar the sculpted head of the dragonharp shifted almost imperceptibly when its bard called its name. Agarak’s jeweled red eyes flashed brightly; its golden scales took on a glittery sheen and a faint jangle of notes floating from its strings. The sound contained a more than noticeable trace of annoyance... and was accompanied by a small tongue of flame that briefly flared from one of the dragon's tiny nostrils.

Erinhue wore the full dress version of his Mithril Knight uniform when he stood up but he was dressed in his usual grey/green traveling clothes, tunic, vest, trousers, knee high boots, by the time he reached the raised platform that served as the stage. He nodded his head in acknowledgment of his audience, his love of performing sparkled in his sea grey eyes like noonday sun upon the waters at the shore in Belfalas.

“Thank you, Agarak that is more comfortable.” Erinhue said when the dragonharp appeared hovering near his chest. He plucked the instrument from the air and held it close, prepared to play, He laid his left hand flat against the strings, cleared his throat and began to sing. As his talented baritone rolled out into the room Agarak began to play the melody. The notes floated up like almost visible butterflies and filled the Lucky Fortune with the opening strains of the rollicking, multi versed and ever growing tavern song Morgan’s Joy.*
Last edited by erinhue on Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby erinhue » Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:03 pm

MORGAN'S JOY

Now Morgan had just one true love
But that was not his wife
He loved a brew
Of golden hew
And loved it all his life

Say Morgan was a wealthy man
With ships in every port
And all his due
Went to the brew
His life, his love, his sport

For its ale, ale and by the pail
And that be Moran’s joy

The tavern’s all know Morgan’s name
They raise it up in song
Of how he’ll drink
Right to the brink
And then sleep all day long

When Morgan brings himself to town
You’d better hide the lasses
‘Cause when he’s drunk
Worse than a skunk
He’s bound to make some passes

And it’s ale, ale, and by the pail
For that be Morgan’s Joy.

When Morgan met a pretty girl
He was a love struck gander
She took his heart
Then thought she’d start
To teach him better manners

When Morgan took the girl to wife
She tried to tone him down
She hid his brew
He said “Adieu”
And made his way to town.

For it’s ale, ale, and by the pail
Now that be Morgan’s Joy.

When Morgan came into the bar
His friends were all astounded
He left his bride
To join their side
But why? They were confounded.

“Why Morgan, what could bring ye here?”
His friends wanted to know
“The lass did think
I’d give up drink
For that she had to go”

For its ale, ale and by the pail
And that be Morgan’s Joy.

Mrs Morgan was a clever girl
Not one to take a loss
She’d get her man
Back under hand
And show him who was boss

Mrs Morgan took herself to town
And straight into that tavern
She called for drink
And made them think
Her stomach was a cavern

When Morgan saw the ale go down
He kissed his blushing bride
She loves the brew
As much as you
The tavern goers cried

Well she and Morgan made a bet
To see who was more able
We’ll match our drinks
I’ll win, he thinks
She drank him ‘neath the table

“What Promise” Morgan asked the girl
To mark your winning stride?”
“No more brew
For me or you
Unless we’re side by side”.

Then Morgan turned and shouted out
“She’s sharper than a cleaver
With such an oath
I would be loath
To ever ever leave her.”

And its ale, ale and by the pail
For that be Morgan’s Joy.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby Tempest » Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:06 am

The change of scenery had done Tempest good, as did seeing her son and taking long walks under the trees of Lothlorien with Carnimiriel, Elbren’s wife. As much as she did not like to admit it, the quiet and rest had done her good. Here, amidst beauty and cool waters, it was hard to believe that evil existed in the earth.

But when she was alone within her chambers, the old shadows returned. Memories flooded her dreams, harkening back to her service for Mordor. She had been taken from Rohan, her homeland, as a small child, and it had been Sauron’s delight to fashion her into a spy against them, and Gondor, in the last years of his reign. So she had grown up, one of the few fair things amongst the filth of Mordor, her beauty seemingly untainted by her surroundings, though her dark eyes betrayed the hardness of her heart. She had hated Rohan, hated the West, hated all that belonged to the West mostly because no one had come to rescue her, no one had even cared. It had not been until after the War that she had discovered that her entire village had been razed to the ground on the day of her capture, and therefore there had been no one left to know she had been taken, no one left who remembered the bright little girl she used to be, no one who even knew her name.

She often wondered even now what her true name had been. She could not remember it, though she tried to recall those distant memories time and again. No, no matter what her life might have been, the one known as “Tempest” was who she had become. And though she regretted the suffering that had been inflicted on her, which in turn she had inflicted on others, she had grown to value the knowledge she had gained, the uniqueness of her position. Though she had hated the West, she hated Sauron even more, for what he had created her to be. She had not been there the day he fell, but she had not mourned his passing---indeed she rejoiced more than the others because she knew the greatness of his evil, having seen him face to face.

She was haunted by regret and her road to redemption had been steep and painful, but she had determined to undue as much of the evil she had caused, despite her nature. Her history and friendship with Elbren was the only reason she had joined the Mithril Knights to begin with, for she was mistrusted and resented in most places she had gone, and rightly so. However, as time passed, no one could doubt her sincerity, and the relentlessness with which she sought to purge Middle Earth of Sauron’s shadows.

”You are lost again in your thoughts,” Carnimiriel’s voice interrupted her reverie gently. ”I fear I cannot join you there.”

Tempest shook her head with an apologetic smile. ”I am sorry.”

The elf smiled in return. ”You seem to be feeling better than when you first arrived.”

”It is seeing Ronin again that has reminded me of what is left in the world that is good.” Tempest paused and then added, ”As well as all our talks. You are a most patient listener.”

Carnimiriel laughed. ”I don’t know if Elbren would agree with that, but I am glad for your company.”

The woman stopped and leaned against one of the ancient trees, looking upward into its branches, which were just beginning to bud again. Winter had seemed to last for an eternity and the freshness of Spring was a welcomed change. She sighed, breathing in the clean air and turned to her friend again. ”I must return to Mirkwood soon. I need to feel of use again to ease my mind.”

Carnimiriel was silent for a moment. ”I suppose that is true enough. But ere you go, there is much you have not spoken of, that weighs heavily upon you. To bring it to light will ease your mind better than simply keeping yourself busy.”

Tempest turned and studied her. Her own temper had been softened in recent months because she lacked the strength to give it its full measure, making her more willing to seek guidance and accept counsel. Carnimiriel was wise enough not to push her, but had gently offered a willing ear or reminisced with her about better times and happy adventures. When she had first arrived, Tempest was very quiet, content simply to walk underneath the trees with her and Ronin, or watch him play with Elbren’s children. But with patience, she slowly began to reveal more and more of her thoughts; the bitterness, the anger, the guilt, the darkness that clouded her reason and poisoned her heart. It was Carnimiriel’s hope that such revelations would free her friend, but she was beginning to suspect, as Elbren had, that some wounds were too deep for mending.

”What would you have me speak of?” Tempest asked quietly.

”The one thing you failed to mention these last weeks: the battle for Laketown where Lord Erinhue fell. You are careful to avoid the mention of it.”

Tempest looked away. ”Aye,” she muttered softly. ”It is ever foremost in my mind.”

”Yet surely you see it was the only way.”

”No, I do not see that.”

”You take too much upon yourself.”

”And who else should take responsibility?” she flashed back angrily. ”It was I who ordered it, and he is now dead. Or least as good as dead. I had no idea what would happen when the Berserker was released. He could very easily have killed us all!” She rubbed her shoulder where Clarion had struck her and winced at the remembrance. She could still see his face before her, the friend she knew changed into something of horror at her command.

”It is no use, Carnimiriel. I know you would seek to help me, but you cannot. However, I am much recovered from when I first came, and that I owe to you. It is time for me to return to Mirkwood. I hope you understand.”

”Though it grieves me, I believe I do. And your son will be safe in my keeping. Do not let your heart be troubled on that account.”

Tempest clasped her arms in gratitude. ”I fear that, to your family, I owe a debt that I can never repay. May we meet again under happier circumstances!”
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Postby erinhue » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:51 pm

And its ale, ale and by the pail
For that be Morgan’s Joy.


The song ended, the music faded, along with the merry laughter, the wedding party and the Lucky Fortune Inn itself. Erinhue found himself alone standing in the red mist of a place that didn’t really exist. Completely confused the bard tried to remember where he had been moments before and came up with a jumbled mix of fast fleeting images.

One moment he was dancing with his darling wife, the elfin healer, Aerin Clearstream. She was laughing as they were waltzing around the floor of the Splintered Chamberpot, the bards’ guild’s magical songhouse. At the speed of memory, the location shifted. An arrow arched through the sky headed directly towards him, but split seconds before it sank into his chest seeking his heart he was standing with Raghnildur explaining to the young knight in training how he could appear to be so cheerful before a battle.

Battle? The word hung in the red mist around him echoing as if beckoning him to recall. Battle, yes that was it, that word was the key to understanding what was happening. Erinhue struggled to pierce the clouds and shadows playing over his memory. Faces came floating to him now, Raghnildur only faintly but Teltasarwen’s face came clearly enough for him to see the fear behind her eyes. Fear? He had known Telta for some time and she did not frighten easily, but there was no mistaking what was frozen on her face.

“Leave Us! Slay the Dwarves. Erinhue heard the urgent command in Anorast’s voice before his face swam up from the mist, The elf spoke again “You shall not touch us” Those words brought even more confusion. All became distressingly clear when another face surfaced.

“Tempest!” Erinhue cried out as he remembered. Tempest had given him the order to call up the Berserker. That was what put the fear in Telta’s eyes. That was what Anorast was ordering away. That was what stood over a fallen Tempest with sword raised for the kill. “Tempest! No!” the full power of Erinhue’s voice was behind that anguished cry.

The snippets of memory faded back into the red mist. All the visions were gone now replaced by distant music, the faint tinkle of harpstrings.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby SmaugsBane » Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:00 am

Dirk emerged naked from a calm eddy in the swollen Forest River a few miles upstream from the Mithril Knights Guildhouse and Thranduil’s Caverns. The snowmelt from the Grey Mountains had transformed the normally peaceful, meandering stream into a deep and bitterly cold torrent. The icy water ran in rivulets over pale skin stretched taught over sinuous muscle. It matted the young man's raven mane to his head and shoulders; and settled in beads upon the raised stark white scar-tissue that traced the young man's body like a map leading to the memories of past battles. The warm early-spring sun glinted through the droplets like tiny prisms, bringing to life each individual scale on the body of the tattooed dragon on his back.

He strode up the bank and laid himself on a patch of grass on a sun-bathed knoll between the massive trunks of Mirkwood's trees. His raiment and weapons hung neatly over the lowest branches of the nearest oak. Dirk was chilled to the bone, but did not shiver. Through controlled breathing and concentration, he was able to master his reflexes and control his body's reaction to his cold bath.

The young Dúnedan began to relax as the water dried and his skin warmed. He hadn't slept much in the last two fortnights; instead he took what time he could to meditate, to gather himself, before getting on with the business of war and its aftermath.

Slowly, less and less concentration was necessary to stifle the urge to shiver and he began to divert it towards reflection upon past events. He began at the point in which he joined Anorast's foray towards Dale after the battle for Esgaroth...

After routing the last remnants of the Red Hammer's siege army, several of Anorast's group had split off in order to clear the surrounding lands of any hidden remnants of the Red Hammer. Dirk and Endlómë, his sable mearas-bred stallion struck out alone and scoured every vale surrounding Erebor and all of the lands to the north and west, from the eves of Greenwood to the foothills of the Grey Mountains. Although he encountered many small platoons of stragglers, no tale will ever be told of their horrific slaughter, save what their hacked, carrion-fowl-cleaned bones may tell to whomever may stumble upon them.

After exacting his grisly revenge for Dale, Laketown, Erebor, and their inhabitants and defenders, he finally made it to the city of his childhood. Dirk could see the smoke for many miles before the Long Lake finally came into view. At first, he was relieved for the smoke he had seen came from the intensely burning death pyre of the enemy, which the dwarves were keeping hot in order to burn away the bodies of the Red Hammer utterly.

But his relief was short-lived, for once he walked his warhorse across the bridge and entered into the city-proper of Laketown, he fell to his knees in anguish at the sight of the large part of Esgaroth that had burned.

"Do you weep for the town?"

The resonating boom of the voice Dirk heard was unmistakable as that of his foster-father, Drake, though its usual mirth was replaced with fatigue.

"Towns can be rebuilt, scars can heal. But men cannot return from the dead," Dirk looked up from his knees into Drake's eyes, "I weep for the people whom I was too late to help."

Drake reached out a meaty, calloused hand and lifted Dirk to his feet.

"You have no blame in their deaths, son. That lies squarely on the burning shoulders of yonder army," he indicated the gigantic pyres.

Dirk looked into his foster father's eyes which were blue like his five foster brothers' and so unlike his own.

"But you are here, now, and there's much help still needed,” Drake stepped back and looked at his foster son, “If you're strong enough to work. Have you not eaten nor seen the sun in the last two years?"

It was true that Dirk no longer indulged in food or drink as he did in the days prior to departing to find his fortune; and he had become very thin and pale since he left Drake's house and place of business, the Golden Dragon Inn, nearly two years before. But any questions as to his strength were answered by the force of the heart-felt embrace that Drake received after his quip elicited the first smile Dirk had managed in recent memory.

For the rest of the month following the final battle before the walls of Dale, Dirk worked tirelessly to rebuild Laketown. Though Dirk had no expertise in building with wood or stone, he lent his strength to the effort, doing what those who did know told him. He began where he felt he was needed most: by helping to rebuild the homes of those who had lost fathers and husbands in the battles. Eventually, he worked on the rebuilding of the above-water facade of the Mithril Knights Guildhouse.

During that time, he stayed at the Golden Dragon. Although he used his bed very little, he took all of his meals there, exchanging many stories with Drake, Derek his eldest brother, and his other brothers. Though there remained many things he could never relate to them.

It was during one particularly happy supper that a young Mithril Knight came into the Inn’s bar bearing a summons for Dirk to the high chamber of King Thranduil. The Wise of Middle-earth, or such as could be gathered in so short a time, were hearing the testimony of many eye-witnesses to the dealings of the Red Hammer. Dirk was to give his testimony in two days' time after the noon meal.

Last edited by SmaugsBane on Sun Jan 06, 2008 8:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:37 pm

As the afternoon sun warmed the little knoll in a clearing upstream from the Greenleaf Wood Guildhouse, Dirk rose and dressed in his black clothing: new breeches, strategically reinforced for the saddle and made from a lightweight but exceedingly strong fabric similar to that of the Mithril Cloaks, but much less opulent - his old leather breeches had become thin from riding and had been repaired a few too many times - and a handsomely-tailored linen shirt.

After dressing and eating a few bites of the bread and fruit he had brought from the Guildhouse stores, he once again lay on the pungent grass and continued his ruminations upon the last few weeks:

The Wise, such as were left at the beginning of the fourth age, had been invited to stay at King Thranduil's subterranean palace; and it was there that, one-by-one, the many eyewitnesses to the atrocities of the Red Hammer told their tales, so that the events may be recorded and the Wise may attempt to learn from what had happened.

As Dirk sat on a stone bench outside of Thranduil's throne hall, he was glad that it had been decided that the Wise would meet here and not at the Mithril Knight Guildhouse. The halls of the Mirkwood elves were as familiar and comforting as any surroundings upon Middle-earth, for Dirk had visited there many times in his youth. Here he had received his training in language, history, and martial lore from many elves, including Legolas, Elrond's sons when they were visiting, and even Thranduil himself.

But there was another reason beyond its homely feeling that he was glad to sit before authority within that rock instead of beneath a Mithril Knight roof. He shuddered as he thought about the atonement for his actions that surely awaited him, once the more pressing matters of the battles had been settled; and that would surely only be handled within the sovereignty of the Mithril Knights.

"Sir Dirk of Esgaroth, Mithril Knight of Lore?" inquired a Sylvan warrior, in the livery of Thranduil's personal guard, to those gathered in the antechamber.

"Yes," Dirk stood.

"Please enter the throne chamber of Eryn Lasgalen and be seated before the council," the guard turned on his heel and Dirk followed.

Inside the room that Dirk had visited on many occasions, several seats had been arranged to either side of the central highly-carved wooden throne. A single chair sat in the middle of the room, facing the semicircle of high seats. It was to this chair that the guard beckoned Dirk.

"Sir Dirk," began Lord Elbren, who was seated at Thranduil's right hand, " you are summoned to this council to recount all that you have witnessed as it relates to the invasion of the Red Hammer, the recovery of the Sickle of Vanyar, and your travels during that time."

Dirk shifted uncomfortably at the last phrase. He had known that he would need to tell his full tale, but prior knowledge did not lessen his discomfort.

"Gathered here for this testimony are representatives of the many peoples of Middle-earth," continued Elbren as a Sylvan scribe recorded his words upon parchment at a small desk to Dirk's left, "King Thranduil and his son, Legolas, for the elves, King Thorin Stonehelm and his cousin Gimli, elf-friend, son of Glóin, for the dwarves, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Master of Buckland, for the hobbits (Merry had been visiting Rivendell with Legolas and Gimli when the call came and so was near enough to come and represent his people), and King Bard II, for men. Here also is Radagast the Brown, for he is the last of his order known to us within Middle-earth and had some dealings himself with the Red Hammer."

These were all seated nearest to the center. Elbren motioned to the seats furthest from Thranduil's throne away on Dirk's right.

"Also gathered here are some whom you have requested to hear your tale: Elrohir, Elrond's son, Lady Tempest, Mithril Knight of the Lidless Eye," she held her gaze upon Dirk and showed no reaction to the quiet murmur her title had caused, "and Drake of Esgaroth, proprietor of the Golden Dragon Inn."

These people Dirk had asked to attend for he felt it was important that they hear his tale. Elrohir had been witness to each of Dirk's trials as well as the council two years before of which Thranduil spoke. Tempest had witnessed glimpses of Dirk's true nature and he felt that she might be able to offer insight to the council, and maybe to the young knight himself. And finally there was his foster father, who was also present when Dirk was given his inheritance. The man had given Dirk a home and his love for eighteen years and he felt that it was right that he witness his youngest son's testimony and hear firsthand of his deeds.

One other Mithril Knight was to be summoned to Dirk's testimony on his behalf, but Lord Anorast had not yet returned from searching out the last vestiges of the Red Hammer. When Anorast's group split up to ensure that no Red Hammer survived their siege of Erebor, Esgaroth, and Dale, Dirk had not gone with Anorast's main detachment which hunted down the runners who went east. Rather, the young Knight went alone and took his toll out of the remnants that hid in the Lonely Mountain's vales. It was two weeks since Lord Anorast's prey had been sent running directly into a marching column of dwarves from the Iron Hills and was utterly decimated; and after that final skirmish he sent the rest of his troop back to the Guildhouse for reassignment. But he himself did not return with them, and was presumed to be scoruing the lands east of the Running River for any that might be hunkered in holes or hidden knolls or stands of trees.

"Finally, I Lord Elbren Galadrim, Mithril Knight Guildmaster, represent our order in these proceedings."

Elbren sat and King Thranduil spoke, "Sir Dirk, it has been nearly two years since you sat exactly where you sit now and received the blade that hangs now at your hip and heard your true heritage. That day, you sat before many of the same people who are assembled here now. But I see a different man before me, not only in appearance, but in spirit as well. I am glad that you have survived the trials that followed the receipt of your inheritance, but I also mourn for the loss of innocence that was the young boy who used to stow away with wine deliveries in order to explore my wood." Elrohir, Legolas, and Drake smiled widely at the memories that the King's comments elicited.

Thranduil continued, "However, to my eyes it appears that wisdom now lives where innocence has vacated. I admit that I am surprised to see such wisdom so soon, for when you left these halls with Neleg Amlug, the Eye of Ancalagon, and the Mantle of Angmar, the three-part legacy your birth father left to you, you were a rash and foolhardy boy. And you nearly succeeded in doing what we had all feared. But a fortunate stroke by an unlooked-for opponent saved you, and Middle-earth, from a terrible doom."

At these words, Dirk winced visibly and reached to cover the stump of his left index finger with his right hand. Phantom pain seared where the finger had once been, and the jagged scar across his throat felt as though it were fresh-cut.

"But those transgressions are past and have been repented. Likewise, the amulet and the mantle are destroyed. The purpose of this gathering is to hear about your dealings with the Red Hammer and our travels to the north during that struggle. We ask that you take your time and try to remember the remotest detail. From time to time, we may ask questions to help clarify a point. But know that we have surmised enough about your actions to deem that you have committed no crime upon the people of Middle-earth; and you are not on trial. So there is no need to feel defensive."

It was as though the King had read Dirk's mind, for he was beginning to feel as though he was being judged even though he had not uttered a word. He took several deep breaths and forced himself to master his senses and his reflexes. He seemed to relax visibly.

"Please begin your tale above Rauros falls, and your part in the battles that happened there."

Dirk remained silent for a moment, gathering his thoughts. He attempted clear his throat, but as always, to no avail. His voice sounded like the grating of granite boulders upon one another under tremendous pressure.

He told what he remembered of the battle upon the shores of Nen Hithoel. When he came to the part where he stood upon the Seat of Hearing and beseeched the retreating Tempest to return, the Lady Knight spoke.

"Sir Dirk, sorry to interrupt," she said, "but could you please explain how it is you speak the language of Sauron's orcs?"

"Oh, yes, you see I'm not sure where I learned it." Abashed, Dirk fumbled for the words.

It was Elrohir, the only one there who was also present at Dirk's trial for his actions during that dark time, that answered for him, "Over a year ago, Dirk came to possess a Ring of Power, or a very close facsimile thereof. It destroyed itself when the hobbit, Juwel, (Meriadoc sat up in his chair) cut the ring from Dirk's hand and therefore we were unable verify its origin. However," the tall elf continued, "during the months that he wore the ring, he traveled to many dark places that shall go unnamed and acquired knowledge, among other things, that he carries still."

Along with some of the others, Tempest became wide-eyed at the mention of the Ring. She had guessed this fact about Dirk before, but was startled to hear it confirmed openly.

"Did you, 'acquire' anything else during that time that you can not explain?" said Gimli wryly.

"Yes," again it was Elrohir and not Dirk that that answered. "Dirk, please show them your back."

With the help of the guard, Dirk disrobed to the waist and turned his back on the council.

"Ancalagon the Black," stated Elbren flatly. Though many others, including Tempest, recognized the tattooed serpent spread across Dirk's shoulder blades, the Guildmaster was the only one present who had seen the father of Winged Dragons in the flesh, in the currents of time created by the Giliath Londe murals.

"Thank you, Dirk," said Thranduil, "this, too we will ponder along with everything else we learn here. Please dress and continue your story."

Dirk put his things back on and continued his tale. He recounted his actions at Helm's Deep, Orthanc, and travels to Lothlórien. He did however keep the details of his vision quest during his initiation as a Knight to himself, and no one pressed him further on the matter. He continued, describing his short travels with Arwen_Sol, his first Knight in Training, and their parting of ways. Though no one asked questions, Dirk felt a pang of guilt in describing his sending Arwen_Sol back to the Lórien Guildhouse with her quest unfulfilled.

From there he told of the ambush that had resulted in broken ribs, a deep flesh wound to the thigh and the injury of Endlómë, including the period where he seemed to lose consciousness, only to awake after apparently slaughtering the seemingly overwhelming enemy.

When Dirk told the council of his time with, and training he received from, the shade of Eöl, it was Elrohir who cleared his throat.

"Excuse me, mellon, but when did you acquire the glavorn armor?" asked Elrond's son. The entire council craned their necks to get a better view of the vambraces and hauberk Dirk wore. Even Elrohir, Radagast, and Legolas were to young (or came to Middle-earth too late) to have ever seen these treasures before they were lost in the downfall of Gondolin. The Dwarves were awed by rare metal and equally rare metallurgy. The young mortal felt himself shrink before the gaze of the elder races and suddenly felt an intense desire to disappear.

"It is the Mithril Knights' tradition to allow a Knight in Training to equip him- or herself for travel and battle in the armory of whichever guildhouse from which the initiate's first quest is to embark," answered Elbren.

"But," asked Legolas, "Is it not forbidden for them to choose relic objects such as these until they are initiated."

"You are correct," continued Elbren, "but after deliberating the matter with several trusted senior Knights," the guildmaster inclined his head almost imperceptibly towards Tempest, "it was determined that such items as these would not allow themselves to be utilized by just anyone." He paused, gazing out the window unseeingly for a moment, "No, we decided that the Dark Elf's armor could only be bourne by those whose destiny it was to do so, and no other. We allowed Dirk to keep the pieces on a loan basis until his initiation, at which time they were gifted to him."

"I see," said Elrohir. "Thank you for indulging me. I thought the connection between various black arms you carry, along with the reappearance of at least a part of Eöl's spirit to guide you, seemed significant; and therefore so too was this acquisition. Please continue, Sir Dirk."

It was for this part of his testimony that Dirk had wanted Anorast's presence; for during a brief respite between battles, Dirk had learned that the old elf also possessed at least one piece of Eöl's smithcraft, but had run out of time befire he could tell the Elf Lord about his armor.

Dirk continued, telling of his travels to the north and his encounters with the orc-tribes he found there. But no one interrogated him about any of that part of his story. Instead, at many points, they nodded their heads as if he had confirmed things they had already learned elsewhere, perhaps guessed. Not even his use of the title, Zaugoth, "Black Master," to gain entry into the orc encampment was questioned.

It wasn't until he told them of his encounter with the Knights of the Silmaril were any in-depth inquiries made.

"You did not interrogate them?" asked Tempest.

"No."

"Did they say anything of their reasons for being there?" asked Radagast.

"No, I made assumptions based upon the evidence I had seen and decided to send them away as quickly as possible. I thought that if I entered into parlay with them, or even allowed them speak at all, that I could lose my hold over the orcs and would no longer be able to disband the army that had gathered there."

"Do we know which direction they went?" asked Bard.

"We could not tell," Elbren said, "Our scouts said that there was such a trampling of thousands of feet that it was impossible to find the Silmaril Knights' trail at all."

"And what of the orc-army?" asked Thranduil.

"There was evidence that upwards of two thousand died in inter-tribe fighting and the rest scattered in every direction."

"Sir Dirk, I believe it was after this time that you crossed over the Hithaeglir and re-joined with Lord Anorast?" asked Bard.

"Yes, my Lord, I found them on the night before they attacked the siege towers at the gates of Erebor and Dale."

"I think then, that we have gathered all that we need from you, Sir Dirk, thank you," said Thranduil, "You are dismissed."

As Dirk rose, he noticed that the others did also and, with a glance to the tall windows hewn into the living rock, saw that it was after sundown; he had testified before the council for over six hours. He surmised that his was the last testimony for the day.

As everyone was milling about and murmuring, slowly making there way to the doors, several people shook Dirk's hand, including Drake, who had been silent but attentive during the entire proceeding.

"Thank you son," he checked the tears that welled in his blue eyes, "I always knew that there was more to you than the naughty boy I raised at the Dragon. But even when I was here two years ago when they gave you that sword, and Glorfindel spoke to you about great deeds with terrible tragedy and all, I never thought it would be so tough for you."

Then the burly barman embraced his foster son.

When Drake had stalked out of the room, Dirk was left nearly alone. It took several seconds for him to notice that Tempest and Elbren were still in their seats.

"Sir Dirk," began Elbren, "Please feel free to stretch your legs and clean up if you like; however I need to see you in the chamber the Thranduil has graciously allowed me to use for a little private supper. I am leaving in the morning for Edoras with the Knights in Training and there is one other matter which we need to discuss. Tempest, I'd like you to join, as well, please."

The lady Knight nodded in ascent to the Guildmaster who strode purposefully from the room. For a moment, Tempest looked as though she was going to speak, but then only clasped Dirk's shoulders firmly and locked eyes with him. She didn't need to speak for Dirk to know that she was communicating to him her understanding and support. In the space of a heartbeat, she broke her gaze and her grasp and stalked from them room.

Minutes or perhaps hours later, Dirk could not tell, he too left the hall.
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Postby GandalfStormcrow » Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:28 pm

Raghnildur ambled through the halls of the Mirkwood Guildhouse aimlessly today, as he had so many days since his arrival there what felt like years ago. Wear and exhaustion, though long since healed physically, seemed to hang over him as a nearly tangible pall.

Tempest narrowly dodged the business end of an axe and quickly informed the knight that it was time, she had ordered Erinhue to succumb to the rage of the berserker.

There were so many thoughts echoing though his mind that it became increasingly difficult to keep one foot moving in front of the other as he turned the corner at the end of the hallway, completing the circle he found himself walking hour after hour each day, unable to escape the images that had haunted him since...

Finally it happened. The berserker's rage had reached its pinnacle and there was no way for Raghnildur to continue his defense. In one tremendous blow Raghnildur's parry was swept to the side, and Clarion sang in immediately to give the deadly stroke. It was only the providence of Eru Ilúvatar Himself which caused Raghnildur to trip over the axe of a fallen dwarf, and Clarion merely sparked against the falling man's breastplate.

Erinhue wasted no time, the berserker would not be denied this kill. He stood over his gosling and friend and brought his sword down full force onto Raghnildur's left vambrace, as the fallen man tried desperately to fend off the deadly stroke.

Raghnildur's scream echoed across the plain as the brace cracked and the bones in his forearm splintered.

The berserker brought Clarion to his chest and rared back to serve the final blow.


Chill sweat began to roll in fat beads down the Knight in Training’s neck onto his shoulders as the memory of his mentor and greatest inspiration bearing down on him with a fury that belittled that of the entire Red Hammer army. Raghnildur stopped and leaned against the wall, slowly sliding to the floor and clutching at his long-since healed forearm. It had been a pain as he had never experienced. The physical pain was no greater than he had felt each time a horse he was shoeing kicked him, but there was a different pain that eclipsed anything he’d ever known. It had been as if the Berserker was rending his soul from his body as well. Straining to keep his mind in the present and avoid the vision he knew was coming next as it always did, he began to rock back and forth while trying to find some elvish song to sing that would occupy his thoughts…

She spoke the words. "Let's go."

Eyes knotted shut as tightly as he could make them do so, he desperately tried to push the memory from his consciousness. His hair was sopping wet, an onlooker may have thought he had just emerged from the bath house.

All doubt and hesitation vanished when Tempest gave the word. Her command echoed across the field. Even if Raghnildur had wanted to renege, the opportunity was gone. He tossed his sword in the air as he ran forward, catching the hilt with the blade facing downward. The berserker heard Raghnildur’s approach and began to turn. Raghnildur swung with every ounce of strength that remained in his weary frame.

The pommel of his sword hit Erinhue square in the temple with jarring force. The connection made a sickening thud. As if all the world had stopped, the body of the Mithril Knight and master Bard very slowly went limp and crumpled to the ground. As he fell, Clarion slipped from his fingertips and lay on the ground beside him.


From that moment on, his mentor and friend had lay in a deathlike slumber from whence no one had been able to awaken him. He had been following orders, he knew he had no choice. The fact remained however that the great Erinhue fell at the hands of his own apprentice, and each day that eclipsed made less likely the possibility that the dear bard and friend of so many would return to the Bards or the Mithril Knights that so relied on his mirth and wisdom.

Realizing he had been sitting there for quite some time longer than planned the tall, broad Knight in Training stood and made his way to his quarters to change out of his sweat soaked garments before one of his peers could realize he had been missing for so long. He remained determined as ever to avoid eye contact with Tempest, as he could not shake the feeling she placed some amount of blame on him for failing their friend.

As he made his way to his quarters, he forced himself to remember his first mission to Rhosgobel where he had, in fact, not failed at his task.
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Postby Tempest » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:42 am

For Tempest, the ride back to Mirkwood has been uneventful, though the parting from her son grieved her heart and occupied her thoughts for most of the day. He was growing up without her, which she had determined was better for him, for she feared that he would somehow be tainted by her darkness, as if it were some sickness that could spread. This time, he had not cried, but stood there looking at her forlornly, with those fierce little eyes that mirrored her own.

Yet another thing to add to her regret.

_______________________________________________________________________

"As you can read in the letter from Lothlorien, I have made an excellent recovery," Tempest said matter-of-factly, pushing the parchment into the chief physician's hand. The elf looked even more haggard than last time she had seen him, and she frowned a little and decided that she would try to soften her tone a bit.

He shook out the letter and perused it quickly, drawing his hand a few times across his forehead, which was damp and creased with worry. Several times he lifted his head and stared into space for a few moments before returning again to his reading.

Tempest was beginning to wonder what terrible things Carnimiriel had written about her when the physician finally sat down and tossed the letter carelessly to the side. "Very well," he murmured. "Everything seems in order. You can return to active duty at your earliest convenience. I'll write to Elbren and inform him of my decision."

Though Tempest was pleased at the prognosis, her eyes narrowed slightly. "What did Carnimiriel say of me?" she asked, standing by the door.

In a tired voice, he answered, "She said you are as well as can be expected, given the circumstances. Furthermore, to keep you any longer under lock and key would be a 'cruelty beyond endurance' for you as well as for the healers in Mirkwood," he smiled.

She tossed her head at his last words and pushed open the door with more force than was necessary. Then, even though everything within her told her to leave before the elf changed his mind, she ventured another question. "Has anything happened since last I rested here? I did not think there were many other patients left besides Erinhue, yet you look as exhausted as before. Have the Knights from the East returned with a bad report?"

He shook his head. "I am not at liberty to speak of it, though there has been a summons sent to all Knights residing in the Mirkwood Guild House."

"A summons? Regarding what exactly?" she said sharply.

"Lady, you can ask Lord Aglanor. It concerns the stranger found seeking out the secret entrance to the Guild."

"Stranger! Of what people?" she closed the door again and leaned forward expectantly.

"I cannot say more. His condition was very grave. Indeed, he nearly died in my care."

Ever suspicious, Tempest probed further. "Fortunate for him that he stumbled into our reaches then. Has he spoken at all? Has he given an account of himself?"

The physician smiled weakly. "You will not succeed in gaining information from me, for I am under strict orders. But now that you are restored to active duty, you can investigate the matter yourself by going to Lord Aglanor. The council will be held tomorrow."

"It seems, then, that I have arrived at the opportune time."

"Indeed."
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Postby SmaugsBane » Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:25 pm

Dirk shifted on the grass of the little sunlit knoll, an island of brightness amidst the darkness of Greenwood. His ruminating had taken him to a particularly uncomfortable hour within Thranduil's halls.

After the long hours of testimony before the Council of the Wise, Dirk strode the familiar halls of The Elven King's subterranean palace. He needed to stretch his legs and his mind after the ordeal in which he had been subjected to the physical pain of sitting still for six hours as well as the emotional rigors recalling his ordeal.

He knew every nook and cranny of the underground city that was open to visitors - and some that weren't. He had explored them extensively during his teenage years. It was this familiarity that allowed him to roam about, even returning the greetings of familiar faces, whilst retracting into the recesses of his mind.

He told himself that he needed to relax. He was able to erase any outward sign that his heart was racing and was able to slow his speech and forestall perspiration; but he needed more than to just mask his nerves - he needed to truly quell them.

He had been summoned to appear before Lord Elbren, with Tempest of all people, as his lieutenant, to answer for the dereliction of his duty as a Mithril Knight and the abandoning of an apprentice in lands that were unfamiliar to her. What's more, he had been summoned earlier than he expected, and in a location where his disposition afterwards, whether he remained a Knight or not, or perhaps he would even be hauled off to prison, would be seen by many folk whom he cared about.

"I must not allow myself to be anxious," he told himself, "What's done is done and there is no question as to my responsibility for my actions. Therefore, regardless of what they decide, I will accept my fate calmly and with dignity."

Dirk was able to steel himself against the worst they could do to him; and as he approached the open doorway to the small dining chamber, he was serene, both within and without.

He crossed the threshold and smiled at the Elf and the Rohirrim lady as if he were about to sit down to a pleasant meal with old friends.

"Ah, right on time, Sir Dirk," Elbren returned the smile, "Please have a seat."

As Dirk crossed to the table, Tempest met his gaze and nodded in greeting. She did not smile, but Dirk understood her fathomless eyes nonetheless: tell the truth, and there will be nothing to worry about. They sat simultaneously, and moments later elves entered bearing food and wine. Once the table was laden and glasses were full they retreated, closing the door behind them.

Elbren started, "Dirk, I take it you understand what you are here to discuss?"

"Yes."

"Good, if you please as briefly as possible, explain the circumstances surrounding the parting of ways between Lady Arwen_Sol and yourself while she was in your charge as a mentor Knight. We have heard from her already and only need to know the details that could only come from your point of view."

While Elbren and Tempest dined, Dirk outlined the days prior to his sending Arwen_Sol back to the Lórien Guildhouse. In particular, he tried to explain his growing need to continue north, to Laketown, or so he thought at the time; and that he felt that he was surely driving himself towards his death and did not wish to endanger the elf maiden as well.

"But you did not go to Laketown," said Elbren between bites, "and neither did you go to Erebor, whence you were tasked to go."

"No, sir. It was a day or two after we parted ways that I was attacked," replied Dirk matter-of-factly, "and when I came to, I found myself in the presence of a long-dead elf, as I recounted earlier. I realized after my training with Eöl that I wasn't being drawn to fight in Laketown or Dale, as I had told Arwen_Sol, but was directed to the Dark Elf's shade, and then to Carn-Dûm afterwards, by a combination of destiny and the armor I acquired in Lothlórien."

"So when you sent the Knight in Training back across the southern plains below Mirkwood, you believed that she would have been in greater peril had she stayed with you than on a dangerous road alone?" asked Tempest, pointing at Dirk with one finger of the hand that held her wineglass, the crimson liquid swirling within the crystal goblet.

"Yes."

"And do you still believe that you did the right thing?"

"Yes."

"Why? Explain yourself."

"Although my reasoning turned out to be incorrect, I believe that Arwen_Sol would have perished along with the orc ambush that I apparently destroyed. I was not in control of myself at that time." Dirk added the final sentence in a lower voice which quavered slightly, "Even if she could have escaped me, she would have remained in mortal danger. I do not believe that Eöl's shade would have revealed itself to me in anyone's presence; and I know now that if I had not learned what I did, then in a matter of days, I would have succumbed completely to the voices of Neleg Amlug and the galvorn armor. Their influence was what allowed the false voice of Saruman to enter me as it had Idril at Edoras, before the Sickle was found. Before Eöl's training, I had no defense against those voices from the abyss."

Dirk took a deep breath, and reached for his wine. He took a sip, keeping eye contact with Elbren over the rim. Both the Guildmaster and the Dark Lady had stopped eating and were waiting for Dirk to finish. This apparently was what they had wanted to hear.

"My Lord," Dirk said to Elbren, putting the goblet down. Then turning to the lady he said, "and Lady Tempest, had I kept Arwen_Sol by my side, not only would her life have been forfeit, but mine would have been as well. For had I not met with that ghost under the leaves of this forest, then the Mithril Knights, and all of Middle-earth would now be at war with a new wraith seated upon the throne of Angmar."

They sat in silence together for an expended moment, allowing the words to sink in.

"Sir Dirk," began Elbren with a smile, "please eat and drink," he indicated Dirk's untouched plate, "while we step out for a moment to talk this over."

The two senior Knights rose, and Dirk followed suit, with a small bow. Tempest and Elbren exited through a door opposite the one through which Dirk had entered. When they were gone, he sat and stared after them at the oaken door, then, with a sigh, picked at the excellent food that sat before him.


Meanwhile, Elbren sought Tempest's opinion in the adjoining apartment.

"There is no doubt that he is blameless of any crime in sending away his charge. That is not what troubles me," began Elbren, "My concern is his continued loyalty. Given your, um, unique experience, milady, is there any danger of his falling back onto the dark path? Speak honestly, for here we have perhaps our only opportunity to send him away from us before he does any damage."

"No, our young Dirk traveled much further than to Carn-Dûm and has returned bearing more darkness within him than any orc or Red Hammer Dwarf. But in a way I cannot describe to you, and you probably wouldn't understand if I could, he is stronger now by far than before."

"Try to explain, perhaps I am not so thick."

With a mirthless smile, Tempest sought the simplest explanation for a complex question.

"Because Dirk has endured such trials, and despite the fact that the darkness will always dwell within his soul, his existence can only be wholly given over to that of Illuvator's Light."

"And this darkness within him, is it such that he could be subverted into smaller acts contrary to the defense of the Light? Sabotage or spying perhaps?"

"No," Tempest's exasperation was only barely audible, "The black power within him cannot be satiated with small acts, just as it cannot be partially held at bay. Either Dirk controls it completely, or it will consume him utterly, just as it nearly did before he met Eöl. If he had not passed the trials that the Dark Elf put him through, the galvorn armor would have rejected him, ending his mortal life." seeing that Elbren did not understand, she added, "Therefore, he is as 'good' a Mithril Knight as has ever worn the cloak."

"How can you be so sure about that dark power you say lies within him still?" Elbren was still not convinced.

"Because I hold the same power within me."

Elbren asked no more questions.

Elbren and Tempest returned to the room and he was told that they had determined his actions to have been for the greater good of the Order, the individuals involved, and for Middle-earth; and that since the mission to return the shards of the Arkenstone to Erebor had been fulfilled, he would not be punished for dereliction or desertion.

The day after his testimony to the Wise, Elbren and Tempest were gone to Edoras and Lórien, and Dirk finally felt as though he deserved to be amongst his fellow Knights. From that point on, he took up residence at the Laketown Guildhouse and continued his work in rehabilitating the town.


Dirk opened his eyes and stared up at the azure sky. After a moment, he stood, took a cleansing breath, and crossed the knoll to the nearest white-barked birch, where his armor and weapons hung.

He pulled on his tall, supple, black leather boots and buckled on the black vambraces and hauberk. Over which he donned a black tunic and simple black leather belt with a simple silver buckle; and tucked his gauntlets into the belt. Lastly, he donned his black (OOC: what else? :p ) leather baldric, with Neleg Amlug, the Dragon's Tooth, the sword that his birth father, the Witch-king of Angmar, while at his peak just after the defeat of Arnor and the sack of Fornost, had imbued with a piece of his black and withered soul, positioned across his back.

He made a final check to ensure that he left nothing on the little knoll, nor at the river's edge; and then summoned Endlómë and rode along the river's northern banks until he arrived at the Greenwood Guildhouse just as the sun began to set. He dismounted before the gates and set Endlómë free with a whisper in the great warhorse's ear. As Dirk approached gate, the sentry saluted.

"Hail, Sir Dirk," said the elf.

"Hail, Sir " Dirk returned the salute. Then he added conversationally, "What news?"

"Lady Vanaladiel, Lord Anorast, and Lady Tempest have all arrived just in the past days. And a while back, we found a man half dead, trying to ride a dead horse into a house that he could not find - this house. Now we have been informed that Sir Aglanor has called for all Knights present at the Guildhouse to convene at council tomorrow afternoon. Apparently, the stranger is going to explain himself, and the..."

"The what?" Dirk's question had been rhetorical, just a customary greeting. But now, it seemed that something new was afoot and as the sentry gave report of the news, Dirk's casual demeanor changed. Not only had his interest been piqued, but his senses were suddenly alive with purpose. He was positively tingling.

"Well, sir, I can't explain it, because for one thing, I don't know what it was; and for another, we were ordered not to discuss it until more was known."

"Well, my friend, I had only intended to dine here, then ride under the stars to Laketown; but it would appear that I will be staying at least for the night. Please inform the house staff that I'll need a room."

"I will, sir."
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:46 pm

The red mists brightened as he move in what he supposed was a forward direction. With each step Erinhue felt himself walking into heat. Soon the red mist around him became a flaming inferno. Erinhue knew the heat of it, but felt it not. There was only one explaination for that. Agarak.

At thought of its name, it appeared. Erinhue turned a corner and there it was, a great golden dragon that towered above him. Its huge wings were neatly folded at either side and its long arched neck bent low so that it might look more closely at its charge with its glittering red eyes.

“You have slept long, Bard” The dragon’s voice was deeply resonant yet pitched higher than the bard’s own baritone. “I have waited for you.”

“Where am I?” Erinhue asked.
“We met here once before with Carnimiriel’s help.” Agarak replied “Do you remember?”
“Yes,.. um no.. I don’t remember.”
Agarak tilted its great head so that one of its red orbs stared into Erinhue’s sea grey eyes. “Where are you?”

“On the battlefield out side of Laketown” Erinhue began to speak in a mechanical trancelike tone “Tempest gave the order for me to unleash the Berserker. I began to think of the horrors rained down upon the people of Laketown and I let my anger have full sway. I fought the enemy, the dwarves of the Red Hammer. I….” his voice faltered. When he spoke again it was hesitant, tentative, almost fearful of the words to come. “ I saw Telta and she was afraid. She was afraid of me. And I saw Anorast and Raghnildur faintly… and… and Tempest….. Tempest! Tempest, No! Blessed Eru, No!!”

That broke the trance like state but there was no comfort in it Erinhue was horrified at where his memory led. “Agarak! Did I kill her?”
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:49 pm

“The Bard was not on the battle field” the dragon responded coolly.

“Don’t play at words with me” Erinhue was shouting to cover the growing dread that he had unknowingly done something horrible. “Tell me is she dead? Is Tempest dead? Did I kill her?”

That one still lives as do the other faces in your mind. “Agarak continued, “ I remind you once again the bard was not on the battlefield.”

All right so it was the Berserker on that field” Erinhue was unaware that he was still shouting. “ If one of them had died it would have been me killing them.” The truth of his own words slammed at him and Erinhue groaned as if he had taken a blow. “ I could have killed them, I could have killed them all. It would be just like Nyland all over again only two, three, a dozen times worse.” The bard’s voice was now a wail of pure despair. “ I could have killed every last one of them and never even felt a thing, I would not even hav known it until after it was all over.” He stood speechless for a moment as the real horror of what he could become washed over him.

‘Never again!” he cried out “Never! I will break that cursed sword myself to see it never has the power to…

“You cannot” Agarak interrupted the rant “there is need of the sword and its work is at hand.”

But I cannot…
Again Agarak interrupted

“Yes you can, you can and you will, it is your destiny and in the end there will be need of the Berserker, there will be need for both the Darkness and the Light.”
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:53 pm

The harp began to play a lullaby the same bit of childhood memory Erinhue heard earlier only this time played in full rich tones that conjured pleasant images in the man’s shocked mind.
“You are Illuvatar’s Bright Spirit. This you have known for many years but do you grasp the signifigance of that appellation? This world is made of Light and Shadow and only Light and Shadow can protect it. You dear bard are light and shadow. You know, this although you have chosen to follow the Light the work set out for you needs also the balance of Shadow. You are both the Bard and the Berserker. You are the one and must learn control over the other. The sword’s time is at hand and its spirit will be redeemed in this or it will be forever condemned. This was promised when it accepted its punishment and time has come for that promise to be fulfilled. You must gain control of it before that time comes or else what might be will not be. You saw their faces, that is the key, the spell of Carnimriel holds true you simply need to learn to gain control of it. The key to one is the key to all.”

Erinhue sighed and settled back into the mist that now would support his weight in comfort. He yawned greatly and lay back to sleep. “The key to one is the key to all. I have no idea what you are talking about you old worm.” With those words sleep again clamed his senses.

Agarak looked down at its charge. After a series of attempts Erinhue had finally heard the music and made his way here, back into the Light. This was good. The Man was stronger than previously believed. The sword had almost claimed him permanently, Carnimiriel’s spell alone had not been enough to contain it but some store of power within the man himself had checked the actions of the berserker and held it at bay until it had spent its rage and lay dormant once again within the confines of its imprisoning sword.

Two months and a little more as the man would reckon time had passed. It was time the bard awoke lest he should fade and die in the state of dream he had retreated to for the protection of one and all.

The bard must awake but there was no way the spirit of the dragonharp could accomplish this on its own. While Agarak was a being of immense power, it was confined to the shape and dimensions of the dragonharp while in Middle Earth and as such it could do little to minister to the bard in any effective manner. It would need help. These Mithril Knights were friends of the Bard, he counted himself one of them and trusted them completely. The bard had an open heart but Agarak did not give its trust so easily. Most of these Kinghts were unknown to it and the spirit did not trust them with its most hallowed task.

The one Tempest would have the power yes, but the harp neither liked nor trusted her the way the bard did. There was one other, she had been touched by the necessary power although she seemed to be unaware of this gift within her. Unaware or no, it was there sleeping inside her, and she had the harp’s trust, it knew her from a happier time and a happier place. She was one its bard had taken in, unaware of her connection to his true purpose. That was good.


In the halls of the Healer in the Mithril Knight’s Mirkwood GuildHouse the strains of an ancient lullabye wafted through the rooms and hallways and out the windows to float over the grounds. While the clouds seemd to move along with it and the warmth of the sun rode along its melody there was only one set of ears that could hear the song. Only one pair of ears was meant to hear it.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby Vanaladiel » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:28 pm

Vana was busy making a string for her bow and fletching new arrows when she thought she heard something. She paused and listened closely...... Nothing! So she went back to her task at hand. Details of keeping ones weapons in ready order was something that all Mithril Knights took to heart.

Once again she thought she heard something. This time it was like music or tinkling of some sort. With a puzzled look upon her face she moveed to the window and gazed out. Trying to hone in on the sounds that were catching her attention. Her handmaid came in with some clean linens for her room and spotted her moving toward the window. The look on Vana's face worried the maid.

"Are you alright?"

"I think so..... do you hear anything?" Vana asked with a strange look.

"No! Do I need to call the guard!"

"No that is not necessary! I just thought I heard something ......... but its nothing."

"Are you sure? I can get the guard and they can check to make sure that there is no one in the garden?"

"No I don't need the Palace guard!" Vana sort of snapped at the girl. "I'm sorry, I don't think we need to bother them with something so silly. Please, it is alright!"

"Okay, if you say so, then I will not worry."

"I thought that I heard music but I am not sure cause it comes and goes." Vana remarked as she moved once more to the window.

The handmaid moved to Vana's side at the window. She looked out and strained to listen.

"No I am sorry I don't hear anything!" She states

"That is weird! I think I recognize the sound but............. it's as if from a far away dream!" Vana states as she heads to the door and reaches for the knob.

"Where are you going, M'lady?"

"Stay here, I am just going to look around."

"Its late out and you shouldn't be running around the grounds alone at night!" Her friend and handmaid reminds her.

"Well, then come along but don't say anything." Vana opened the door and headed down the hallway and out to the garden outside. Once there, she stops and listens intently again. Soft sounds of music are drifting in the air.

"Do you hear that?" Vana asked again.

"Sorry I don't hear anything! Should I go get one of the Palace guards?"

"No! I have to go someplace and I don't need you coming along. I will be fine. I promise I won't go too far." Vana stated then took off into the darkness. She soon found herself at the stables though she wasn't sure how or why, and asked the handler to saddle her horse. He complied with her requests and sent his young apprentice to notify the Palace Guard that the Lady was going out at night on her horse alone.

Vana started off and found soon that she was no longer alone. A Palace escort soon rode up to her. Vana rolled her eyes then smiled to herself but didn't slow to talk with the man. She just rode on following something that she found very familiar.

Soon she found herself riding up to the Mithril Knights Guild house. Quickly she jumped off her horse and asked the escort to stay with the horses, then she headed off again to the door. The guard at the door called out to her as she approached.

"Who comes at this hour?" Stepping up with his sword drawn and his shield forward.

"I am a Mithril Knight! Lady Vana and I must enter!" She stated almost as if she was on urgent business and yet with fear in her voice.

When she stepped out of the shadows and into the light he replied, "Yes, M'lady!" He pulled the gate open and allowed her to enter. "May I announce your arrival to the Lord Aglanor?"

"No I am not here for him!" She snapped as she took off down the hallway. Still she was following a sound that no one else seemed to even hear. Her single mindedness leading her on. Leading her down a familiar hall and out to a garden and across the grounds to the Houses of Healing. There she stopped a moment to be sure that she was still hearing the call.

Slowing her advance she suddenly felt that she knew who was calling her. It was someone she had known for some time though they had never spoken. She opened the door to the houses of healing and entered. Sure enough the sound called her to a bed she was so accustom to visiting. It was the Lord Erinhue's bed and there sat the dragon harp it's red eyes glowing.

Vana knelt down and looked at the harp. "Did you call me Agarak?"

Vana heard a sound as if a string was plucked and yet she swore she heard it as an answer. She understood and spoke again.

"What do you want me to do?" She asked as she started to reach out to the harp. A sharp sound popped in her mind. "Okay I wont touch you but what do you want me to do?"

Softly the tones changed as if the harp was carrying on a conversation with Vana. If anyone had walked in they would have thought she had lost her mind responding to the harp that glowed and no one else could hear.

"Close your eyes child of the elves!" Agarak spoke to her heart. "Do it now!"

She obeyed though she wasn't sure why.

"Listen with your heart and nothing else child! Do you hear it?" He asked her.

"What am I suppose to hear? Wait........... I hear a call!"

"I need you to go to him!"

"But how?" Vana stated as she opened her eyes.

"Close your eyes and use your heart! You will find who you seek. Now go to him!"

Vana sat as if in a trance as she went deep within her heart and mind seeking the lost one. She still wasn't sure where she was going to seek him but suddenly she found herself in a dark tunnel like hallway. Walking scared but steadily onward. Slowly a faint light came to the end of the tunnel. She headed towards it. Slowly still, as her heart beat faster and she began to breathe hard. Fear was creeping into her very being.

"Fear not child for you are in no danger but you are needed desperately!" Agarak spoke softly, "Now go in and seek the lost."

"Who is it Agarak?" Vana asked with her mind

"One you should know on sight! He is your friend and needs you to help him!"

Vana walked on and into the barely lit room. She looked around but didnt see anyone. As her eyes seemed to become accustomed to the faint light she saw a man. He was laying on a bed. Hard and cold. Slowly she reached out for him. He looked to be almost made of ice and rock. Her hand reached out to touch his cheek.

"Erinhue!!" Vana exclaimed. "Is he lost already? Have I come in time? He seems dead!" Vana almost cried though she knew not why.

"No I think you are in time." Agarak told her. "Now I need you to place your hand upon his heart!"

"Why?" Vana asked

"Don't ask child, just believe! Seek deep within yourself the powers of the ancients. You must find within yourself the healing of the spirit and soul that only the ancients could do."

"What are you talking about? Powers of the ancients?" Vana puzzled "I don't have any powers of any kind!"

"Listen child, you came when I called you, did you not?"

"Well, yes but...."

"Did anyone else hear my call?"

"I don't know but..... I don't think so."

"You have a power that is connected with the ancients, the Valar, the same ones who instilled the powers that I have, gave other powers to those who were to follow. Then they who were given the power was forgot to teach those that came after so the powers were lost or so it seemed."

"Why me?"

"Because child you were chosen before time. Who do you think your father was? Have you not wondered why he came to your woods?"

"Well yes but I....."

"You were destined for this and you know it, subconsciously you always knew it! You have always felt that you had to do more..... that there was a purpose for your life. This is part of that. You just have to believe and get in touch with what I am telling you. Now.....child, put your hand upon his heart and be quick about it."

Vana reached out her hand and placed it upon the heart of the stone man. Great pain suddenly hit her. Tears welled up in her eyes as pain shot into her hand and down her arm. She gasped as the pain seemed to almost split her heart apart. A cry escaped her lips. The room seemed to spin and then light up as if the moon and the sun were shining in unison to fill the darkest places within it. An aura of light shone round about her.

"Hold on child, you are finding what you have!" Agarak called to her. "Now! Call him to yourself!"

"Is this ........... Erinhue?" Vana cried since she did not recognize her friend in this state. "He is so cold!"

"Yes it is Master Erinhue, your friend and fellow knight!"

Vana cried out in her mind first in fear to her friend, "Come to me Erinhue! Follow my voice and come home!"
After a few moments Vana cried out again only this time, out loud. "Erinhue come! Find your way home! Come to me!"

Suddenly the man seemed to gasp and catch a breath. He seemed to change from stone once more to human. His breathing slowed as he seemed to go into a more restful sleep.

"I have failed!" Vana cried out, her heart almost breaking from the thought of losing him.

"No child you have called him back and saved his life."

"But he is still asleep! How did I change anything?" She cried.

"Look child, for he is awaking! You have called him home. Now you must lead him back to consciousness."

"How? Just tell me what to do!" Vana spoke with more confidence, as if she was awakening within herself, to the powers of the ancients. Her tears had stopped and she seemed to almost glow there in the unconsciousness of time.

"Take his hand and lead him back through the tunnel! He must find the warmth of life again and you are the one to take him home. He came to you, now lead him back."

With that Agarak went silent. Vana would have appeared to be sleeping, to anyone who might have come into the room at the Houses of Healing. Actually, she was deep within a realm that she was totally unaware of, until Agarak had opened the way.

"Erinhue!" Vana spoke softly to her friend as she took his hand. "Come now it is time to return home!"

His hand closed about hers as his form stood up... his eyes still closed but he followed her obediently as if he were sleep walking.

"Come on let's return home!" Vana smiled to herself for he was coming with her. Her heart still ached for him because he still would not open his eyes, though she lead him on.

With a gasp Vana came out of the trance, opened her eyes and realized she was holding Erinhue's hand. She stared down at the quiet form of Erinhue. Slowly his eyes flickered open.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:48 pm

Dirk began to walk away from the gate guard.

"Sir, with everything that has happened in the last days, I had forgotten some of the other news," said the sentry, "It is said that Lord Erinhue has awakened."

Dirk's face lit up as if a lantern was set ablaze beneath it; and he began to speak excitedly, "That is wonderful news indeed! How long has he been awake? Why wasn't a message sent to me? I shall visit him at once, even before supper."

"They say he was awakened late last night, with the help of Lady Vanaladiel," the guard cocked his head wistfully, "She stormed up on horseback some time after midnight. I was on watch and challenged her as is my duty, but she was in such a hurry and didn't seem to be really aware of anything except her business." He shook his head slightly and his eyes came into sharper focus. "Messages were sent to King Thranduil, and to Laketown, Erebor, and all the Guildhouses after breakfast this morning."

Dirk had not heard about the Bard's recovery because he had been in the forest alone since before sunrise.

"As for visitation, I'm afraid, sir, that the Lord Physician has ordered that he is not to be disturbed. Lady Vanaladiel is the only one allowed to see him until the council tomorrow, by which time his is expected to have recovered sufficiently for walking and talking."

"I see that I shall have to exercise patience," said Dirk, "Are you sure that's all the news you have?"

"The only other thing is the black man we brought in."

"Black man?"

"Yes sir. His skin is as black as your tunic. We found him nearby a few days ago. He was looking for the guildhouse, as he had heard that it was the temporary headquarters of the Knights. We told him that headquarters had moved, but gave him no other information."

"Go on," said Dirk, a hint of his old impatience seeping through his new stoic facade, "Did he say more?"

"Yes, sir. He claimed that he was here to offer himself as replacement for Baran." Seeing Dirk's quizzical look, he added, "Sir Baran was Mithril Knight from Gondor. He's been missing for many years after an assignment in Harad. This black stranger, this Djazi he calls himself, claimed to have known Sir Baran as a slave fighter in Harad - and that he is now dead. On orders, we took him in. He's here in the guildhouse now and will be allowed to speak..."

"...at the council. Ha!" Dirk's laugh was genuine as he had mastered his emotions once again and was calm, "I might have guessed. It seems that this council is not to be missed! If that is all, then I am going to go and see about that supper. Don't forget to tell housekeeping that I'll need a room."

"That is all, and I haven't forgotten, sir," the guard smiled, catching Dirk's infectious mirth.
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Postby Tempest » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:03 pm

Moments later, the same guard who had spoken with Dirk relied nearly the same message to Tempest, except this time, with more disastrous results.

”A man of Harad? And you let him into the Guild House!” Tempest demanded of the messenger before her, almost with a shout. The elf’s face grew several shades of red as he withered under her imperious gaze.

”Lord Aglanor said that the man would be able to present his case before the council, when it met later.”

”But, a man of Harad!” she repeated emphatically.

”He was not a threat. He spoke of another Mithril Knight who…” the guard continued before he was rudely cut off again.

”Not a threat? Not a THREAT? How could you POSSIBLY know that? I have known men of Harad, and treacherous they were, every one. There is nothing good in Harad, not even the sand from which crawls all manner of vile things. And now, this man of Harad is allowed to enter to state his case? Have we learned nothing from our experiences with the Knights of the Silmaril and the Red Hammer? Our enemies will stop at nothing to infiltrate our ranks and destroy us from within!”

”Pardon me, lady,” the messenger said, his tone growing angry. ”But I was under orders from Lord Aglanor, and the man is under guard until he is able to present himself before the council.”

”Aglanor must be losing his head! Are we allowing all manner of riff-raff through our doors these days? I suppose if a mountain troll showed up requesting an audience, we’d show him right in too!” she growled, proceeding to rant for the next few minutes as she paced around the Guild house halls.

”So, I gather you have heard of our new guest,” a voice commented dryly from behind her. Tempest turned sharply to find the steward of the Guild house gazing at her with raised eyebrow.

”I’ve been looking for you all day!” she said accusingly. ”You’ve been as elusive as a mouse.”

”As you have heard, we have been very busy, what with our two visitors and Erinhue.”

”A message must be sent to Elbren.”

”It will be, once the situation is assessed and the council has heard the cases brought before it.”

She looked about to object again, but then she asked quickly, ”What do you mean, about Erinhue?”

Aglanor seemed taken aback by the question. ”You have not heard?”

”I only arrived back yesterday, and I have been occupied since, having little interaction with anyone from the Guild.”

”Well then, I should imagine your heart will be much relieved to know that the jovial bard has awakened.”

To Aglanor’s surprise, a strange look of fear crossed Tempest’s face. ”Awakened? Is he…is he himself?”

”If you mean, has the Berserker left him, it would seem so.”

She did not seem so convinced.
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Postby Guruthostirn » Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:35 pm

Idly Anorast ran his hands over his new shield. Slender fingers traced intricate high elven designs. Upon close inspection of the surface the twin trees of Valinor could be seen. Ships and mountains were also represented, and the three Silmarils could be found hidden near the upper edge. Shaped roughly as a leaf, the shield was smaller than a standard Noldor shield, yet still broad. The design was directed towards freedom of movement and attack, as compared to the taller, heavier infantry shields better suited to fighting in a line beside equally equipped soldiers. Anorast preferred acting alone, so the shield matched him perfectly.

"Ever seen one of these, Lord Anorast?"

The elf turned to see Sir Aglanor standing in front of the vault, now open. In his hands Aglanor held a wide, flat object. Slightly curved, it was strangely shaped, an oval with one end flattened, similar in shape to an egg. About the size of a man's head, it was thin, barely as thick as an arrow. Light gray, it was smooth and shiny. Slight ripples covered the surface, matched to a grain, stripes of darker material visible beneath the polish. Anorast had never seen anything quite like it, but instantly knew what the Guildhouse Steward held.

"Where did someone find such a well preserved dragon scale."

"This is why, Lord Anorast, we are meeting shortly. It's fresh, not preserved."

Silently Anorast stared at the scale. He had seen dragon scales before, on a living worm. They had been larger, wider, and black. The old elf was unfamiliar with any gray dragons, let alone any still alive. When he'd returned west shortly before the fall of Sauron and the crowning of King Elessar Anorast had been surprised to hear the tale of Smaug, surprised that any of Angband's foul drakes still survived. Yet here before him was evidence of another dragon, alive, healthy, and inevitably irritable.

"Do we know where it came from?"

"Judging by the clothing of the one who brought it here, I've guessed that the dragon is in the north. At the council the messenger shall tell us more. Speaking of, we should proceed to the meeting hall."

"We have a visitor?" Anorast loosened the black leather shoulder strap attached to his new shield, and slung it over his back. The shield rested comfortably across his back, and again Anorast marveled at the design and craftsmanship. Nodding to Giliath Anorast lead the way back out of the armory.

As soon as the armory door was locked, and Giliath returned to his quarters on the other side of the hallway, Aglanor spoke again. "He's not doing well. He was nearly dead when we found him. He was looking for the Guildhouse. He woke this morning. You returned just at the proper time."

"I would guess others would say I returned far too late, Sir Aglanor," Anorast laughed. There had been a letter sent, but those assembled to hear the tales of the Red Hammer, and the Sickle, were sure to have been disappointed by Anorast's absence.

"You'll get no argument from me." Sir Aglanor turned and motioned down the hall. "Come, let us meet our fellow Knights, and see what our guest has to say about this dilemma he's given us."

Quickly the two knights moved through the Guildhouse, Anorast following Aglanor's lead. They moved through several rooms the old elf had not seen upon his earlier, shortened visit. Anorast could see why Aglanor had agreed to stay at this place. Rich wood paneling covered the walls, and beautifully woven carpets covered wooden floors. Perhaps he would stay here, the old elf thought. Perhaps his tale would end here, a place where he could wait out the years, till peace finally claimed his life. Many of the elves he'd known had done the same, finding their final resting places, and waiting, inviting Mandos to come, and take them into the West. Such a fate was beginning to appeal to Anorast, particularly since his most recent loss.

"Plan not for endings, Child."

Anorast froze, his breath stilled within him. Unmistakable, unforgettable, the voice stopped him instantly. Ethereal, with no visible source, it was a woman's voice, patient, timeless. Tones of power, strength, and understanding shaped each word. Anorast had heard it once before, the night after Lady Nienor-Niniel left the Mithril Knights.

"Worry not, Child, you shall not carry me long, for you have no need of my power."

Already motionless, Anorast turned cold. Thankfully no one else could hear the Sickle, so no one could wonder at it's words. The tales were already spreading of the Siege at Helms Deep, where the Sickle's power was first unleashed, and of Laketown. No one would wonder why an old, weary elf would have no need for such power. No one would trace his trail to the east, to green hills, surrounding a barren valley filled with memory, ash, and the traces of a dreadful conflict. No one would connect the terrible destruction of a beautiful city to him. No one would remind him of anger, betrayal, hatred.

"There were two of us, Blade," Anorast shouted silently, calling out into silence. "I lost that life that day."

"You wield my brother, Child, and you cannot lose yourself."

The words struck deep within Anorast. Quickly his hand went to his left hip, to the long gray blade hanging beside him. Forged of star metal, reforged and hidden for many years, Anguirel had reawakened, still in it's new form, but with it's old spirit alive and strong. Upon the shores, surrounded by dead and dying dwarves it had burned with the fire of the Sickle, and the fire of Anorast's own hidden power. Deep down, it was still there, the chaos, the maelstrom of energy, wanting to be touched, recognized, let loose. Sealing the power within him were images of smoking valley walls, and memories of love and loss. Yet in the star-born sword the key slept, and now Anorast was wary, not knowing when Anguirel would unlock his dark secret.

"Fear not, the time of your purpose has not come, and soon another shall take my temptation from you."

At the Sickle's final words Anorast smiled bitterly. Temptation was the proper term, though fear fitted as well. The eastern hills still haunted the old elf. Just as he feared his own power Anorast feared the Sickle, but feared that he might eventually desire that power beyond reason and control. To wield the Sickle would, for certain, loose the elf's own bound powers. Anorast had watched Nin unleash destruction on a scale unheard of since the First Age, and if Anorast took up the Sickle himself, he feared what would follow. Into the silence the old elf sent a silent thought, a hope that the new bearer of the Sickle would come soon, before he took up the weapon and released it's full power.

"Lord Anorast?"

Shaking off his thoughts Anorast saw Aglanor, who had turned and was looking at him. The old elf forced a smile. "Nothing, just an idle thought."

"The meeting chamber is just ahead."

A moment later the two knights entered a long, low chamber. Dominating the room was a massive table, stretching down between the paneled walls. Padded chairs lined the table, several of which were already occupied by Mithril Knights. Immediately Anorast recognized several of his fellow knights, including fellow veterans of the Red Hammer battles. Nodding to them, not yet trusting his own voice, Anorast quickly found a seat near the head of the table.
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Postby Claymore » Sat Oct 06, 2007 1:42 pm

The spear did not leave his back during the whole journey. After an hour they stopped and blindfolded him.
-Until now you have proved yourself to be trustworthy so we will not bind your hands. But only try to remove the blindfold without our consent and the retaliation will be swift. The spear is still there.
Djazi nodded.
-Now come, it’s still a rather long way.
They went on for what felt as another hour and tough Djazi stumbled a few times it was not as often as one would have expected. As a hunter he had learned to rely on his other senses as much as on his eyes.
‘Annael! What are you bringing us this night?’ a voice suddenly hailed. Through his blindfold, Djazi could see a bit of torch-light.
‘This one was searching for the Knights.' the elf who had blindfolded him answered. The sound of footsteps told Djazi that the guard was approaching.
-Wait a second....
Suddenly a hand grabbed Djazi's face and turned it to the light.
-Hey! He's a Haradrim! Annael are you mad? What went through your head to bring a Haradrim here?
-He says he knows Sir Baran.
'Sir Baran? He disappeared six years ago!' another voice said.
-Exactly, if he truly has news about Baran I will give him the advantage of doubt.
'I don't like this,'the first guard growled after a pause.' The Steward must know about this. You! Follow us! And no tricks.' He more or less spat out the last phrases and began to walk away.
- May I remove the blindfold?
The footsteps of the man suddenly stopped. ' y-yes,' the rather startled answer came back. Djazi smiled.
He probably didn't expect me to speak westron, he thought a bit wryly. He undid the knot and handed the blindfold back to Annael.


The guard entered the dark Guildhouse, followed by Djazi who was again closely followed by the second guard. It was dark and almost empty and Djazi couldn't see much of the interior. They finally stopped before a door where-under a thin ray of light escaped. The man respectfully knocked on the door.
-Yes?
The guard entered the room and bowed.
- Lord Aglanor excuse me to derange you this late,but this stranger arrived a few minutes ago and I think you should decide about his fate.
Djazi entered and found himself face to face with the Steward. Sir Aglanor's eyes widened a bit when he saw the color of Djazi's skin.
-Well that's quite a surprise. What does an Haradrim seek in Eryn Lasgalen?
-The Mithril Knights, sir.
The Steward raised an eyebrow.'Why so?' he asked.
-I came to offer replacement for a friend, Baran of Minas Tirith.
-Sir Baran! How did you meet him?
-That's a rather long story, sir.
- I have time.
Djazi drew a breath and began to tell his tale. When he had finally finished Lord Aglanor looked Djazi in the eyes. Djazi sustained his gaze without blinking. Then the Steward sighed and said: ' I believe you. But the decision to accept you as a Knight in Training is not mine to take but that of all the Knights. If they are willing to accept you then you will be appointed to a Knight who will be your mentor. However you will have to plead your cause before the council first and it's probably not going to be easy. Some of our members have had unpleasant experiences with Haradrim and you look quite like one. But the council will only be held in a few days. I advise you to take some rest.'
Djazi bowed.
-Thank you, sir.

After his audience with the Lord Aglanor he was given a room. It was not very big and very simple but for Djazi who until now had always slept in a simple hut or in the arena's cells it was more than enough. He spent the following days there, waiting for the council. It made him a bit edgy to have to stay inside but the guards near his room didn't allow him to stray too far. As much for his own protection as for that of the other Knights, he guessed. It was on the fourth day after his arrival that a Lord Aglanor came to take him to the council.
-Ready?
-Ready? I don't know, sir. Nervous ? Yes.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:47 pm

The morning of the council, Dirk sat bent over a small writing desk near the open window of his room in the Guildhouse. The scents and sounds of spring wafted in through the window, the newly-open first buds of Spring's blooms, the chirping of birds and the chattering of a pair of amorous squirrels taking turns chasing each other through the tangle of branches above.

Within the room, the only sounds were Dirk's self-regulated breathing, the coos of the cage carrier pigeon on the window sill, and scratching of quill against paper.



My dearest beloved,

It has been many months since I plumbed the depths of your eyes, since my heart danced to the music of your sweet voice. I write you now to tell you that I am well. I have been initiated into the Mithril Knights and have traveled many lands, both with them and alone. During those months, I have been through many tribulations that I will not describe here; but know that I have not been harmed permanently by any weapon. I am currently splitting my residence between the Mithril Knight Guildhouses of Esgaroth and Greenwood. Though I feel that I have tarried far too long and soon must continue upon my quest to fulfill my destiny.

Which brings me to the other reason for this letter. When I met you at the Lucky Fortune so long ago, I told you my name was Smaug's Bane. I had taken such a name in order to find my own fortune without prejudice, good or bad, due to my origins. Or so I thought.

However, fate has given it a new significance. I took the name believing that it referred to Bard, a great warrior of pure virtue who slew a dragon. But now, I realize that Smaug's Bane wasn't the man who bent the bow, but the arrow itself: a black thing that had to be released and ultimately lost forever in order to do the most good.

I have come to realize, that in order to find what it is that I am to do for Middle-earth, I cannot live in fear of losing home, family, or love. I am utterly black now, and must be released.

Recently, I fought against a terrible foe that threatened Laketown, my boyhood home. My sentimental attachment to the place nearly caused me to turn aside from my purpose, to near disaster. Therefore, I will no longer have a home, but will live wherever the road and fate take me. Likewise, I cannot bear allegiance to any one land. Hence my service will be devoted to the Mithril Knights only and therefore to the whole of Middle-earth.

Lately, I have spent many days with Drake and Derek, my foster father and brother, who would have me stay in Esgaroth and settle down. I was sorely tempted. However, such a life cannot exist for me. So, though I will continue to bear the name that he gave me in honor of the sacrifices he made in order to raise me, I must leave Drake and his sons behind and claim my true heritage without shame or regret, at least within my own heart. For safety, I will necessarily have to keep my true parentage to myself; revealing the truth of it only to those I can surely trust. but nonetheless, I am Dirk of the Dúnedain, son of the Witch-king of Angmar and Minya of the Rangers of the North. My blood is wholly Numenoréan, and it is high time I own up to that fact and all that it entails.

Over these many months, my dearest, my thoughts have trailed to better times, like when we ran through flowered meadows in Hollin in the summertime. But also, I have feared for you. I have feared losing you. I can ill afford to hold such fear. I hope you understand now why I cannot return to you.

I will always love you. I gave you a piece of my heart that night at the festival. It will always belong to you. Live your life well. Be happy. If the opportunity arises, marry and raise a family.

Perhaps fate will allow me to survive the great but tragic deeds that Glorfindel foresaw. If so, then perhaps the hooves of a black warhorse may be heard once again upon the cobbles of Ithilien's roads, in search of my beloved troubadour. But do not hold out hope. For my own heart tells me that, like Bard's black arrow, I too must be lost forever in order to do the good that is my destiny.

May Eru comfort you and bring you joy for the rest of your days,
-Dirk




The young Knight folded the tear-stained letter and sealed it with the crimson wax and Mithril Knights signet from inside the desk, then crossed the room, tied the letter to the pigeon's leg and released the bird, who was trained to fly by the straightest way possible to Guildhouse at Minas Tirith, where the Knights there would be able to dispatch a messenger to carry the letter across Anduin and to his beloved.

He watched the bird until it was no longer visible in the cloudless blue sky. When the tiny black speck had finally disappeared, he lowered his eyes to see a pair of sparrows building their nest. They had found a mass of bright blue and gold thread to add to the twigs, leaves and other materials that will soon hold and warm their eggs.

Dirk looked down to the breast of his tunic, where the tiny holes in the shape of an embroidered shield and bow, were already beginning to disappear. He was now completely clothed in black, save for the Mithril cloak, which he took up and slung over his shoulder as he left the room to find lunch before he went to the council that would most likely reveal where his next road will carry him.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:12 pm

Vanaladial took a deep breath as she shook the trancelike state from her waking senses. Once again she was seated in the Healer’s Hall of the Mithril Knights’ Mirkwood Guildhouse, seated at the bedside of the bard. As she looked down at his face, Erinhue’s eyelids fluttered.

“Tempest!” The frayed baritone cry was steeped in anguish. “Tempest, no! NO! Nooooo! The last word of overwrought denial trailed off in a broken wail. It ended when Erinhue’s eyes snapped open. Panicked, his eyes darted swiftly around searching for a point of easy reference. When they settled on Vanaladial’s face, recognition replaced the confused yet wary alarm. The performer in him took over and formed his facial features into a covering smile.

“Vanna, darlin’, we gotta stop meeting here like this, what’ll people say?” The smooth voice was full of cheer that did not reflect in the stormcloud gray of his eyes. “Bye the bye, I seem to have one stone troll sized headache and I can’t remember much around it., would ya mind telling me just where and when here might be?”

“Lord Erinhue,” Vana began “we are in the Mirkwood Guild house of the Mithril Knights, in the Hall of the Healer to be more exact. You…” Vanna paused to search for the right word. When she found it ,she continued on, slowly. “…fell outside Lakewood in the Battle with the Red Hammer Dwarves. That was about 2 months ago. You have lain here eversince.”

“Here?” Erinhue started to sit up and instantly regretted the attempt.. “ I’ve been here the whole time?” he asked as he laid back down.”

Yes, Lord Erinhue, you have been right here. Nothing the healers could do would revive you.”

The concern in Vanna’s voice was mistakenly read as something else.What was she thinking behind those lovely eyes? What did she see now when she looked at him? Erinhue stared into her eyes in an effort to discern her hidden thoughts. He was serching for something, some change he wasn’t even certain that he would recognize if he should find it.

“Lord Erinhue, huh? “ he muttered softly, “ I thought I told ya a long time ago to just call me ‘Hue, or Erinhue at least. If I wanted to be a Lord I could have stayed in Belfalas.” More of his own emotions seeped into his voice to be magnified by his talent. When he saw the look on Vanna’s face he again tried to cover that as well

“I’m just a bit confused. I thought I was someplace else.”

“You were, that is where I found you” Her own confusion was plain in Vana’s response” I was here and then I was someplace else and I was able to find you and lead you back to us.”
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
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Postby erinhue » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:13 pm

“Was that you I heard singing?”
“I think it was Agarak. I heard it, him, it singing, that is I heard music, an old lullaby. I was not even here in the Guildhouse but still I hear it.. I am certain I was the only one that could here it”

That’s the way it is with the old worm” All trace of talent or color was blanched from Erinhue’s voice, “if it will speak to you at all, it speaks directly to you. Agarak does not like eavesdropping.”

“What is Agarak?” Vanna’s natural curiosity surprised her when she heard the question asked in her voice. Something deep in Erinhue’s grey eyes made her sorry she had asked the question.

“Agarak is a bit more than a harp.” Erinhue began. His voice was flat and tired devoid of all suggestion of the bard’s usual showman like manner “There were two of them, dragonharps I mean. The other, Egerak, belonged to Darius, bard to the court of King Thiengol. It was corrupted along with its bard and was sent across the sea long ago. Agarak sings in my earliest scrap of memory. Where and what it was before that time, I suspect, but do not know.”

Until this time Erinhue had been looking off into the distance, now he turned his gaze back to Vanna’s face “What did Agarak say to you?”

“Well praise Eru, Mistress Vanaladial you seem to have brought about what none of us leanred healers could do. You have wakened Lord Erinhue from his entrancement.”

The healer’s voice interrupted them. Vanaladial read disappointment mixed with some indefinable something in the bard’s eyes. She had no time to analyze it because it vanished with the bard’s next breath.

“Now Halfidel you should have known that it would take Beauty to wake the Beast” Erinhue’s left eye winked along with his voice.

“And a right fair one it took at that” the healer smiled in Vanna’s direction, letting his relived pleasure flow into his voice. The chief healer waved his hand at one of the young apprentices that followed in his wake. The young man ran off to find Lord Anglor and bring him the long awaited news. The healer turned back to his recovered charge. “The Mithril Knights have been called to council. It will be better than good news for them to hear that you are awake.”

Erinhue pushed himself up on one elbow as the first stage in sitting up. His head was close to exploding but he had had enough of laying on his back. He swung his long legs over the side of the bed and completed the motion of sitting upright. The room was shifting around slightly and he was hungry enough to eat an ox and thirsty enough to drink the Anduin dry but that was only to be expected.

He put both hands to his head as if to help keep it from expanding and used the considerable discomfort he felt to cover what really pained him. In as offhanded a manner as he could currently muster, Erinhue asked “And how are my comrades in arms. How is the Lady Tempest? What word of our Knight of the Lidless Eye.?”
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Postby Vanaladiel » Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Vana reached up with her sleeve to wipe away a tear that was running down her cheek as she caught her breath. Her joy at seeing Hue awake again was interrupted by the sudden appearance of the Head Healer. Her questions would have to wait. Erinhue was insistent upon sitting up, yet he was still weak so she moved to his side to help him and steady him as he reached for his head.

"Here let me help you! Are you sure you should be sitting up so fast?" Vana asked since he seemed to be getting dizzy.

"Listen child I have been through much worse in the past and nothing is going to be keeping me down now." He said as he raised her chin to look into her eyes with reassurance. "Now help me to my feet!"

With that remark Hue tried to stand with Vana's and Halfidel's help but he was too unsteady and returned to his sitting position upon the edge of the bed that he had been laying in for so long.

"My, I have been gone a long time when I don't have the strength to stand upon my own two feet." Hue joked but Vana could hear a small tone of alarm in his voice.

"Just give it some time old friend and you will be good as new!" Halfidel said as he grabbed a bottle with some amber liquid in it from his pocket and offered it to Hue to drink. "Here this will get you on the right road again, now drink it all!" Hue downed the entire bottle.

'You mentioned a council being called of the Mithril Knights?" Hue inquired.

"Yes!" Vana responded to Erinhue's surprise. "We have been called together, well.... at least those that are here in the guild house. It seems that there is some business that Lord Anglanor wishes to discuss with us. But it isn't till tomorrow afternoon! So rest for tonight!"

"I say this headache seems to be easing a bit. What did you have in that bottle there Halfidel?"

Halfidel responded with a smile. "Now if I told you that I wouldn't be the healer would I?"

He flashed him a smile and then a stern look. "It was a simple compound made for the bark of a tree that we have found is so useful for pain. I am glad to hear that it is helping!"

They spent most of that evening talking. They spoke of the battle with the Red Hammer and Vana's getting injured. She never spoke anything about the Berserker and that puzzled Hue but he never asked. He found in later conversation that she had been unconscious so she never saw what happened to Hue or the others in the battle. She was totally unaware of what he had become or if he had killed anyone besides the enemy. "No wonder she doesn't fear me!" he thought to himself.

Vana retired late that evening to her own chambers to sleep while Hue rested. Questions danced into her dreams. She saw the dark room again, listened intently to what Agarak had said to her. It played over and over again through out the night. She awoke the next morning tired but smiling knowing that Erinhue was awake and back in the land of the living. She hurried to dress and dashed off to the houses of healing where she met Erinhue anxious awaiting for her arrival, as she had promised she would.

"Well, shouldn't we be about the business of the Mithril Knights then?" Hue asked as he stood up.

Hue stood for a moment and got himself accustom to the feeling of being upright and standing before he reached out to Vana."Okay darlin let us be off to this meeting! I don't want to keep everyone waiting. Besides that we can talk as we walk!"

Vana moved closer and let Hue lean upon her shoulder though she could tell he was getting stronger with most every step. After they left the houses of healing Hue started asking more questions about where he had been and how Agarak had her find him. He was most curious about that later part. Vana was greatful for the chance to talk about what had happened the day before since her questions had been plaguing her all night.

"Well, he called me with the song. I guess he knows something about me that I don't know about myself. I still don't understand it and I don't know how to find out what all he was talking about. I am so confused about what he did say." She stated as she looked off down the hallway they were now traveling down.

"Why what has you so confused? What did the old worm say to you?"

"He kept talking about some power of the ancients that I possess. I dont know or understand how I could have anything like that....you know what I mean? He had me go deep within myself to a dark place to find you. You were so cold and seemed dead as stone. I thought I was too late to reach you!" She stated as she looked up into Hues face, another tear rolled down her cheek.

With a gentle hand he reached up and wiped the tear away as he gave her another reassuring smile then looked at her as if he was puzzling something out in his own mind. "What else did he say to you?"

"Something about my father........ the magic of the Valar and something about himself too." She went on, "But I don't understand any of it!"

Hue stopped then and looked into her eyes again. "Well perhaps we can help each other find the answers. Now tell me since I asked before......what of Tempest?"

"I...I don't know Erinhue!" She stated sadly. "I haven't seen many of the Mithril Knights since we got here. I don't know many of them by name yet."

They continued down the hallway in silence, Erinhue deep in thought as Vana lead the way to the hall she had been told was the council chamber.
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Postby Mithril Knights » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:50 pm

Sir Aglanor sat with his hand folded upon the gleaming oak tabletop; waiting patiently for the murmur caused by the entrance of the last of the Knights currently present in the Eryn Lasgalen Guildhouse to die down. There was a commotion because it was the first time the newly awakened Master Bard had been seen upright in two months. He strode in with Lady Vanaladiel in tow, and the two seated themselves at the left hand of the Steward.

While the whispers continued, Aglanor shifted his gaze from his hands to the table itself: massive, highly-polished, and hewn from the trunk of a single ancient oak tree. He ran his eyes across the intricate forest-themed carvings on its foot-thick edge. According to the history of the Guildhouse, when the house was being built, only one tree stood in the way of construction, otherwise it had been built to flow within the living wood, making it easier to conceal. While the elves and men debated whether or not to cut down the old tree, it fell on its own. According to legend, the tree’s spirit laid down its life willingly so that the noble order could make its home in the forest, and in return, the timber was fashioned into the honored meeting table.

He scanned the long, low-ceilinged room: Mithril Knights filled less than half of the tufted crimson leather chairs. With a nod to a high-helmed guard, one of three lining the room’s mahogany walls, the main entrance to the room, tall heavy double wooden doors that stood on the east wall, were closed and locked. The saw that the rest of the room was in order as the guard re-took his place between the tall windows on the south wall to Aglanor’s right. Turned thus, he saw Lady Tempest, sitting directly to his right with her back to the windows. She was the loudest of those still talking to Erinhue, but catching sight of Aglanor, she finished her sentence, to which Erinhue flashed a beaming smile in answer and fell silent. Beside her, Lord Anorast followed suit and looked apprehensively from Aglanor to the second set of doors in the room, which stood behind Aglanor’s seat at the head of the table and were guarded by yet another spear-wielding elven guard.

Then the Steward of the Mirkwood Guildhouse took his chance, for the talking had momentarily ceased and he knew who and what waited in the anteroom beyond the west door behind him and was anxious to begin.

“Ladies and Lords,” he began, masking his impatience as best he could, “Thank you for coming to order. I have called this meeting of only those Mithril Knights present in this Guildhouse because at least one point of business that we must discuss requires a measure of urgency that precludes waiting for a muster of the officers of the Guild. Though I fear that it may still require such a call before all is said and done in order to resolve the matter.”

He took a deep breath and looked into the Knights’ faces. They were all now intently waiting for him to continue.

“However, before we get to that, there are two other points of order for us. First,” he indicated with a sweep of his arm the Chief Healer, who was seated at the midpoint of the table on his left, “I would like to recognize Halfidel, our esteemed healer. On behalf of the Mithril Knights, we thank you for bringing recovery to the Knight of the Runed Sword.” The elf half-stood and half-bowed simultaneously to the cacophonous banging of gauntleted fists upon the table and shouts of “hear, hear!”

Soon, the noise died down and Aglanor turned in his seat and signaled the guard behind him, who moved fluidly to the door on the west wall and opened it, admitting a man with skin the color of stout ale. He bore himself proudly to a spot just behind Aglanor’s left shoulder and stood with his head up and his hands at his sides. There was not a sound within the room, and it seemed that even the birds and the wind in the leaves hushed as all eyes locked on the stranger’s face.

“This is Djazi. He hails from Far Harad, far to the south of the land of the Haradrim that our king has now begun to forge new ties with. He wishes to petition the Mithril Knights for an apprenticeship. I have heard his tale and believe that it deserves audience in this council. Further, I have deemed that, in the absence of Lord Elbren, our Guildmaster, or Lady Parador, the Knight Marshal, we shall take a vote after his testimony as to whether or not he should be appointed a mentor and undertake a Knight-in-Training quest. This vote will be by roll call, and each Knight will have the opportunity to ask questions of Djazi and express their reasoning for voting one way or the other, should they wish.”

Aglanor stood and moved his chair to the side so that Djazi could stand at the head of the table alone.

“Should it be determined that Djazi will go on a quest,” Aglanor said retaking his seat at the side of the table, between Tempest and Djazi - a purposeful placement not lost upon Erinhue and others at the table that knew the Dark Lady well, “and his mentor judges his actions worthy of Knighthood, then we will send for Lord Elbren and Lady Parador. For, though I feel that we can take on an apprentice in their absence, no Knight can be initiated without the consent of the Guildmaster and the Marshal.”

He turned to Djazi, “Please tell this council all that you related to me in my chambers the night you were brought into the Guildhouse.”
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Postby Elenath » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:21 pm

Elenath sighted the Mirkwood Guildhouse with relief. The last few months had been wearying, even for her, and she was looking forward to resting here for a few days before continuing on. She intended to follow Lord Elbren to Edoras, though she had little to report.

After the battle, she had gone with one of the bands searching for remnants of the dwarves. When the rest returned to Dale, she had continued on her own. Not so much from a desire to hunt down the last of the dwarves, but more a desire for solitude. It had been too long since she had journeyed alone. Her horse had gone back to Dale with the others, for she could travel farther in a day on foot than on horseback. Horses, after all, needed to sleep, while she could walk through the night if she wished. She had traveled north, and east, and west, gathering what information she could, noting things that might be of interest.

Finally, though, a vague unease had sent her back south. She couldn't pinpoint what it was, yet, but she suspected that the few months of quiet might be drawing to a close. And if something was in the air, she needed to be back with Lord Elbren, not wandering in the wilds.

The sentry who challenged her backed down quickly at the sight of her cloak. "Welcome, my Lady. Forgive me, I did not know who you were."

Elenath nodded. "Thank you. I would like to request a room for a few days. If you will, please inform the Steward of my arrival."

"Of course, my Lady. You come in good time. Lord Aglanor has called a council for today."

"A council?" She straightened slightly. "I heard of no summons."

"Lord Aglanor only summoned the Knights that were here at the Guildhouse, my Lady. He felt the matter was too pressing to wait for others to arrive. They will be meeting in two hours time."

She frowned, but refrained from questioning the sentry. He was not likely to be able to tell her much, and she would hear what it was about soon enough. "Very well. Please have hot water and a small meal sent to my room, and tell Lord Aglanor that I will attend the council."

Elenath washed quickly, then brushed and re-braided her black hair. She had sent her traveling clothes to be washed, so she dressed in a borrowed robe. Luckily, being in Mirkwood, they had plenty of clothes that would appeal to her. She had chosen a deep blue gown almost the same color as her eyes, loose, flowing, and touched here and there with silver elven embroidery. After eating the fruits and bread that had been brought, she lay open-eyed on the bed, resting her thoughts. She wanted to be alert as possible, just in case.

Soon, she made her way through the halls to the council chamber. Most of the Knights were already there: she entered quietly, and selected an out-of-the-way chair. Perhaps, she thought, she was about to discover the reason for the disquiet that had been plaguing her. Whatever was happening, if Lord Aglanor had decided to call a council so quickly, it was not likely to be easily dealt with.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Tue Oct 09, 2007 8:13 pm

There had been a flurry of activity in the guild house that day as the many knights prepared themselves for the council meeting.

Vana had been one who was ready but still a bit innocent of the goings on in a council meeting of this nature. Being a new MK had its advantages she supposed but she was nervous none the less for what was to be told to them.

As she and Erinhue approached the last hallway and could see the council chamber door, several other MKs were also going in. The large door was braced open. Erinhue took a deep breath and looked to the young elf maiden.

"Well darlin shall we join the company?" He winked at her and smiled, she could swear there was a twinkle in his eyes.

"I think I am ready!" She stated and they stepped up to the door but hesitated in the doorway. Her eyes scanned the scene noting the beautiful massive oak table with its many chairs and where some of the MKs she knew were seated. She had heard tales of the tables origin but was amazed at its size.

In a moments time a silence fell over the group gathered there as all eyes went to the doorway. Vana blushed to have everyone looking their direction. She almost wanted to run or to check to be sure her dress was appropriate and that she wasn't showing anything off she didn't want seen. Her mouth went dry and she could barely breath.

A sudden squeeze and a nudge reminded her that Erinhue was with her. She looked up to him as all the voices broke the silence almost at same time,
"Erinhue!"

Then many jumped up from their seats at the sight of the Bard awake and in attendance.

"Where do you think we aught to be seated?" Erinhue asked as more and more of the knights came up to pat him on the back and welcome him back to the living.

A woman stood not far from them next to some empty chairs near where Lord Aglanor sat patiently with his hands folded. She looked as if she was about to cry, her mouth open as if to speak, her eyes locked on Erinhue, so Vana walked with the Bard to the seats and she stepped aside to let them talk as Vana sat down quietly. Lord Anorast nodded across the table at her as if in approval for what she had done.

Vana continued to look about the room noting many MKs that she didn't recognize. A few faces were some she had seen on the battle field but she wasn't sure of all their names. She didn't realize that so many knights were at the guild house. She marveled at the idea of how many knights there must be if this were just the ones at the guild house at this time.

There were chairs around the table and chairs along the walls. Banners hung over the walls, banners from every realm that she knew about and some she had never seen.

Lord Aglanor stood up, quickly the voices silenced to hear all that he said while he pointed to the large doors just beyond the head of the table. An armed guard stood at the ready.
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Postby Tempest » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:04 pm

All day leading up to the council, Tempest had been plagued with uneasy thoughts. Her history with the Mithril Knights had taught her one thing, that evil never passed away , though perhaps it slumbered for a time. She was unsettled by the amount of items for the council to consider, especially since the time since their last trouble had only been a few months prior. She did not believe in coincidences, and therefore viewed the stirrings within the Guild with much suspicion, even when they were good stirrings, as it was in the case of Erinhue's awakening.

She had not yet seen the Bard, having been prevented from doing so by the chief Healer, but also because of a nagging fear that caught at her heart, that the bard may be somehow changed from his long sleep, or that the Berserker lurked just below the surface, waiting for her voice to summon him again.

So, it was with a heavy heart that she entered the chamber and took her seat next to Aglanor. He gave her a slight nod, and she sensed his apprehension about her state of mind. He had nothing to fear, for she could keep herself under control when she desired, and she wanted to hear everything spoken in the council before she let vent her true feelings.

Then, a whisper seemed to ripple through the gathered Knights and she turned her gaze toward the door, from which Erinhue himself came forth, with Lady Vanaladiel on his arm. Tempest stood up quickly, her eyes searching the face she knew so well, looking for something she could not explain. The bard was laughing, and greeting each Knight who called out to him, thanking them for their concern. His laugh was warm, as she remembered, but there was a quality in it that she did not recognize, and it seemed to Tempest that his voice had a hint of sadness that she had not known it it before.

As she considered this, his eyes turned and met her own. She did not understand the look that crossed his face at that moment, but she sensed a deep relief in his gaze. "He wondered if I was dead," she realized silently. "He does not remember the battle." She managed a slight smile, nodded at him, and then strode forward in greeting.

"It is good to see you again," she said, trying to maintain her composure. "I had feared that..." she began, but could not finish.

"I, too, had feared..." his voice trailed off.

"But you are returned to us. Fully returned?" the last spoken as a question, her eyes dark fixed on him.
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Postby erinhue » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:36 pm

Ah Tempest darlin’, I have fully returned to fully pursue the object of my longtime and most sadly unrequited love”

Erinhue winked the very best version of his starbright grin at the concern he saw in Tempests eyes. He read something more in those depths and his voice dropped to a more confidential level. “’Tis only the one who made a fool of himself at your long ago wedding. As then, the Bard stands here alone.” He reached out to touch her arm but hesitated within fractions of an inch as if he knew not to touch the place where his sword had struck her flesh.

A deeply apologetic expression joined the pleased relief in his eyes as they searched deeply for its mirror image within hers. They both nodded slightly as if some agreement between them had been reached. “This is not the time or place but we shall find a time and place that is and then you can buy me a beer. “

A hint of a smile toyed at one corner of Tempest’s mouth.

“So Bard, are you saying you think I need the luck?

Erinhue’s grin changed just a little. “We may all need to buy me a beer before long?”
Last edited by erinhue on Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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