In Search of the Past

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

In Search of the Past

Postby nienor-niniel » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:13 pm

It was no more use to deny the evident: Nin needed a break. She had been on the road for days now, hardly ever stopping, only for sleep, eating roots and berries only, barely taking the time to light a fire. She had slept under trees, beside hedges, anywhere where the grass was thick enough to make the bare earth comfortable enough. She wanted to get to Rivendell as quickly as possible. So, she had taken the Old Road across Mirkwood, Greenwood as they called it since the War, followed the ancient trails, crossed the Misty Mountains on her own, which had been perilous at moments. But she had never doubted, never worried, never hesitated. The goal was clear, and she wanted to get there before the fear would overtake again.

Nin was not exactly sure how many hours of road there were left for her to walk, how close she had come, now that she was on the other side of the mountains. But even without horse, she had moved quickly, as it was her habit and the last homely house, as it was called, must be getting closer every day. And with that, she became nervous. Very, very nervous. If for every other creature in Middle Earth, Rivendell could be a homely place, a home of peace and rest – for her it could not. In fact, she had thought that in all her life, she would never put a foot there again. But time had changed, the elves had changed and maybe even Rivendell had changed. Maybe. She tried not to hope for it.

Shortly after reaching the plain, she found the source of a small river, quickly growing. It had to be the Bruinen, she concluded. So she was after all, really, really getting close. A few hours of rest would do no harm.

She put her clothes on the shore and swam a bit, also to wash herself. Her leather clothes were worn out by the road and nobody would have suspected that a few weeks ago, she had worn the proud cloak of a Mithril Knight.

When she started washing her long, blonde hair, she heard a whistle from the shore. And when she turned, a rather young man was kneeling where her clothes had been. He had brown hair and looked like a better peasant and he was smiling all over his face.

“So, little lady, careless you have been. What will you do now to get your belongings back?"

Impatiently, Nin was rolling her eyes. Was he really so you he thought, she was shy of coming out of the water unclad?

“I will get out and take them.” She answered and her acts followed her words within the second. The young man surely had not expected this and hid his face in his hands in the moment he realised that in fact, he was staring. Nin, stern, acted as if was the most normal thing on earth to take her clothes from his hands before putting them on.

“You can look now. But right you are: had I known that these lands are inhabited, I would have been more careful,” The young man was astonished that she showed no signs of anger whatsoever. His joke had fallen short.

“I apologize. But yes, the lands are inhabited since King Aragorn watches over the safety of the roads and wishes people to meet again. There is even an Inn now, “At the sources of the Bruin” for travellers, and rooms are taken, quite often.”

Nin smiled inwardly at the now so eager young man who wanted to repay his silly joke. Little did he know about offences. Never Nin would have taken it for an offence that she had been too silly to watch over her stuff while bathing. The consequences were only her s to bear, after all.

“The Inn is mainly for travellers from Rivendell to Lorien.” He continued and now he caught her ear. “People now come to see the elves before they all leave Middle Earth.

“Rivendell…. So the last homely house is not far?”

“Oh, two days or something like it, but then you have no horse.”

“I am quicker by foot than many you have seen ride, let me tell you that much. But if you let me clean myself completely, I shall have a look at your Inn.”

While mumbling, “it is not my Inn” and stumbling away, he looked at that strange woman again, in order to describe her well before she reached “At the sources of the Bruin”.

Nin kept her word and set foot into the Inn less than one hour later. She was expected, as she had expected. Even if the roads of Middle Earth were more open now, a traveller who had come over the Misty Mountains was rare. Moreover a woman. Moreover such a young, tiny woman. Seen closely, she was not so young any more, by the way, but still so tiny – in fact even skinny.

Nin sat down at a table and not more than a second later, the Innkeeper, an elderly, solid but not greasy man, was at her table.

“Be welcome fair and wise lady. What may I serve you?”

Again, inwardly Nin chuckled. Or she would have chuckled, had she not smelled the roast, She had eaten on the road and she could just leave the inn, catch a beast and cook it. But how nice it would be to eat from plates. With knives and forks. And maybe drink a glass of wine… but she had no money for it. Of course not.

“I am neither fair nor wise, nor prone to flattery. And you may serve me nothing for I don’t have as much as a piece of copper to pay you.”

The Innkeeper seemed disappointed. And Nin, thoughtful.

“But I have a gift. I play flute quite well. I shall play in your inn, if you let me, for three evenings. I tell you there will be more people coming every evening. And if I am right, you offer me a meal. If the inn is empty, I’ll go hunting and bring you back the prey. I’ll give the proof of my talent, if you allow me.”

The innkeeper thought briefly, What did he have to loose. So he nodded.

“But I cannot play with such a dry mouth. Give me just one glass. It can even be tea.”

One glass was little, so it was quickly thought over. And after drinking it, Nin took out her flute. She had not played since the days before the battle. Not once on the road. She looked at it, as it was shimmering in the light of the afternoon sun. The silver seemed perfect without any scrape, She had been through rough times, battles, wilderness, drunkenness, childbirth; but she always protected and polished her flute. It was like carrying her soul in her hands. And then she played. She played and tired to remember Rivendell in the morning, when the sun was raising over the balcony of Liudares room, when she still had a home and a love. She remembered the paintings on the ceilings when she woke up, shimmering in the morning sunlight as if they were alive. She remembered the voices of the elves, soft and yet strong, voices that seemed to sing in every word. And her own voice, lost, now, forever. And she played all of it.

When she put the flute down, there was a moment of absolute silence. And the Keeper as well as the few other guests, swallowed. It took a while before the elderly man spoke.

“You can play indeed. I have been only once to Rivendell, but tell me, you have been playing about it haven’t you? Or was it Lorien? It was elvish, anyway.”

And touched by the height of the feeling of which he was capable through this music, he offered a meal right ahead to this skinny blonde lady. And he assured himself that she would play three evenings before taking the road to Rivendell. He was a businessman after all and he knew that she would attract people if they heard of her.

Thoughtfully, Nin ate her earned meal; it had a taste of bitterness in her mouth. “So this is what you have become,” she thought, “ a beggar selling herself for food.” She tried not to be ashamed.

For years, she had not thought of Rivendell, and the vivacity of her memories had been a surprise, Suddenly, she was more afraid than ever about the road to take and three days before going on just seemed like the perfect deep breath before the jump.
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Postby erinhue » Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:31 pm

The sound of a flute drew his attention the clear notes floating on the air carried the tune of memory. He knew the songs well, they spoke to him of home. Long had it been since he had left Rivendell, first to fight in the Great War and then lingering to help clear up the remnants of Mordor’s hosts that roame the coutry side causing no end of troubles.

Bandar listened to the distant music and found himself following it to the Inn that the land’s new found peace and prosperity allowed for the comfort of weary travelers such as himself. He continued on to the Inn, curious to see who was playing songs of home.

He could tell by the sound that the instrument was fruit of the craft of his people. About the player he could not be so certain. He was already later than he had anticipated so indulging his curiosity would not make much difference to the time of his arrival in what was often called the Last Homely House.

When he entered the inn what little activity there was came to a halt as those in the inn stared impolitely at his entrance. His slender but athletic build, long blond hair and slightly pointed ears marked him as one of the Eldar and that was fast becoming an uncommon sight in Middle Earth. There were far less of his people left upon this shore and Bandar was aware that at least some of the Inn’s patrons were there in hopes of catching such a sight as he now presented.

Ignoring the continued stares, his dark eyes quickly picked out who had been playing the flute. She sat alone at a table finishing her meal. He walked up to her table and inquired “Who was it that taught you to play the home songs of the Elves?”
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Postby nienor-niniel » Thu May 01, 2008 2:51 pm

It was a simple meal – potatoes, bacon, some lettuce – but it was good and Nin was hungry. She had not taken much time for food on the road and the days when she had enjoyed starving were definitely belonging to the past.

An elf entered the inn and Nin could hear the few persons who were present whisper. Even here, close to Rivendell, an elf was an unusual sighting. Since the War so many had left Middle Earth. How did he know that it had been her who played? Nin had no idea. Yet, he went straight to her table.

Had he been warned? Had she been watched by any spy of Rivendell already? Maybe had he come to arrest her for breaking the ban. Nin felt that her hands were shaking. Of course, she knew that going to Rivendell implied all those possibilities. She had even wondered if Elrond might simply have her killed when she arrived. Like the death sentence she had deserved.

But no, the elf did not seem hostile. And he had only one question: “Who was it that taught you to play the home songs of the Elves?”

Nin looked up to his face. It seemed to her that she not seen an elf for such a long time – but it was not that long, in fact. Only a few weeks since she had left Anorast. But Anorast had been so different from this elf. Nin thought of his long silvery hair and his enigmatic eyes. It seemed already as she had never loved him, after so little time. This elf was less stern, seemed less powerful – but his voice had the melody of his people, the melody of her youth, when she had been surrounded by elven voices and the slight accent of Rivendell in his Westron.

She looked at the elf, in her slow, thoughtful manner, wondering how to react. And then she spoke, softly in the beloved Quenya of her youth: „I shall not tell more about myself than my music.“ The elf seemed surprised to be answered in quenya, even if obviously he understood. He looked at Nin again, intensively. And she did not avoid his glance. There would be more inquiring glances to come, once she had reached Rivendell. She did not even dare to imagine how Elrond would look at her.

And then, the elf, to her surprise bowed.

„You play beautifully. Who was it that taught you to play the home songs of the Elves?“

Nin got a bit off her guard.

„I taught the flute myself. And I just played the notes that came to my mind, not any tune I knew. But I shall play again, tonight and two more nights. So you can hear me, then. My music speaks for me.“

„I shall then come and hear you.“

When Nin brought the fork to her mouth again, she saw that it was completely folded. During the brief exchange with the unexpected elf she had pushed so hard on this poor fork, it had broken under the pressure and become useless to finish her meal. But she was not hungry any more.
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Postby erinhue » Sat May 03, 2008 8:02 pm

An unchanging even expression hid Bandar’s real surprise to hear the woman respond in Quenya. That language was seldom spoken now, especially in this part of the world. Middle Earth had changed and outside of Rivendel, Lorien and a very few other places the Eldar had departed from this shore

There was mystery on mystery in this one Bandar thought with piqued curiosity as he moved towards the table’ other empty chair. Dropping his pack beside it, Bandar sat down on the slat backed stool. He signaled the table wench to bring more of the same.

“It is a shame to let good food go to waste in these or any times”. Bandar offered a rare but honest smile. “Perhaps the meal would taste better to you if it were shared. I know that company would add much flavor to mine.”
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Postby rwhen » Thu May 08, 2008 1:20 pm

It had taken quite some time to traverse the Misty Mountains and now he sat at the edge of the Bruinen River, enjoying a seldom found respite from his travels. Almost lulled into a sleep he could not afford, splashing and a man's laughter startled him into a sitting position. There he witnessed a thin blonde lady emerging from the river, without shame to her nakedness. A young man on the bank held her clothing, obviously trying to shake her modesty or worse. Neither happened as the woman dressed while the young man told of a new Inn, not that far from their present location.

As it turned out, she passed him by and Journey decided that an Inn would suit him just fine. He waited an appropriate length of time so that he would not be noticed following the lady and soon enough the Inn came into view.

He thought to wait outside and rolled over a curious chance meeting he had had on the way, it almost caused him to be noticed. A man on the other side of the river had called out to him asking if there was an inn or stables close by. Journey returned the query by shouting that there was one at the Ford. The stranger gave him a thumbs up and said he would look for him there. After waiting a half hour for this unknown person, his stomach and the fresh enticing aroma's from the Inn ruled in favor of entering.

The woman he had seen earlier had just finished playing an elvish tune on her flute and she was excellent by all accounts. He could do no better on his multipipes and wondered if this creature could also sing. He would have to find out at another time as a very handsome elf had just approached her table.

As luck would have it, the barkeep was an old friend of the family. Journey had heard many a time the tale of Tannikin and his marvelous ale.

“Good sir,” Journey was always polite, “may I have your finest ale, I have a powerful thirst and I would bet my good boots your brew will quench it.”

Tannikin passed over the requested quaff and responded with a smile and question, “you have heard of my little pastime?”

“If you are the Tannikin originally from Bree, then I most certainly have. Do you recall Joran of the old mill?”

“Indeed, how is ol’ Joran? You a friend?”

“Sadly, he has sailed to his final shores and I am his son.” While Tannikin shook his head predictably, Journey tasted the brew and it was every bit as good as he would have expected. “Tell me, do you have a room for the night?”

“For a son of Joran, you will stay warm and comfortable tonight.” Tannikin checked his log and marked a room for the traveler. “What did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t say, but it is Journey.”

The barkeep looked a bit startled at the unusual name, but made the appropriate notation and passed over a key.

“I do not intend to abuse your kindness, I have money to pay for the room. However, if you could give me some insight on the lovely lady who just played that flute so well, I would be grateful.”

Tannikin shrugged his head in her direction without looking. “She be a stranger. That I can tell ya for sure and she’ll be here for three days.”

Journey rubbed the stubble on his chin. “Three day, you say?” The man affirmed. “Looks like you might have me for company then as well. How about a refill and I will take no more of your time, good Sir.”

The rustic mug was again filled and a warm loaf was pressed into his hand. Munching on the fresh bread, he wondered how he might meet the lady and find out if she could sing. They might make great music together.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat May 10, 2008 7:57 pm

There was an observer hidden in the woods watching the travelers. First, a woman who bathed in the Brunien, who came out unashamed of her nakedness, then an elf, a rare sight in these days. Then another, heading the same direction.

He himself had made the long journey over the Misty Mountains to see the Last Homely House of Rivendell, and none came near him on his travels. None wanted to molest so large a bear, even if he wanted to be seen.

Brondgast was curious as to the intention of these travelers, and padded after them, keeping out of sight. In bear's form, he could do that easily. One of the Beornings, it was natural to him. He listened outside the inn, out of sight, to the haunting flute music and other sounds of the inn. He decided to go in.

Soon, a large man walked into the inn, leaving a heavy club outside, that few could lift except for him. His clothes were rough, he was big and with a thick brown beard with hair to match.

He sat in a table, listening to the conversation. When asked what he would like, he just had some bread and wine.

He had brought some of the fabled honey-cakes of the Beornings, with which he bartered with. He parted with some of them to the barkeep, who gratefully accepted them. He listened quietly to the conversation.

"So where are you going, sir? Here to see if any elves are left?" one said.

"Not really." said Brondgast. "I was on my way to Rivendell and stopped here for a little bit before I go on." Short and to the point, and he didn't care who heard it.

He saw some of the newcomers looking at him.
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Postby Belle~Lorgan » Sun May 11, 2008 11:48 pm

~

The moment of silence was gone, broken by the scraping of a chair as someone behind Belle rose and it wasn’t long after that before the murmur of voices began to rise in pitch. The goosebumps that had appeared on her arms as the first notes coming from the flute had drifted in the air were disappearing too, but the music remained in her head and in her heart.

Balancing a short stack of empty platters in one hand Belle brushed the crumbs from the rough surface of the table with the corner of her apron for something to do while she stole a glance at the woman who had played such wondrous music. Belle wondered who she was and where she had learned to play.

Belle had never heard anything like it before. It was different than the music she had grown up with, softer, more subtle in its nature. Yet there was an underlying strength woven throughout that spoke of beauty and love just as passionately as she remembered coming from the violin her father had played late at night around the campfire when all that were left were himself and her mother. It was the first time in so very long that music had touched her so.

She glanced over at the woman again. She was talking to Tannikan and he looked unusually subdued, as if the music had touched him also. Belle wished that she could go over and talk to the woman and ask her about the music, but it was too busy and besides Tannikan had already signaled to Leondra, the other serving girl, who was making her way over to the table. Belle sighed and went about clearing another table.

Turning to head back to the kitchen with her arms full of dirty platters, Belle glanced over at the woman one last time. A man had joined her, a man with the slightly exotic look of the people of the twilight Belle had heard so much about in the years following the war, but had rarely seen, Bree not being a place where many of them actually stopped and stayed.

The man saw Belle looking their way and signaled for her to bring him a plate of food as he sat down. Quickly nodding to show she understood, Belle turned and headed for the kitchen.

Edytha, the cook, was standing next to the long trestle table that divided the kitchen in half. She was busy carving thick generous slabs from a roast and barely glanced up as Belle walked past her to the sideboard near the window. A tub of steaming water was waiting there and she carefully placed her stack of platters next to it. Bertyl, one of the scullion maids, set to work almost immediately scrapping the scraps of food left on the plates into the slop pail on the floor near her feet and dropping the platters into the water. Taking the top platter from a stack of cleans ones Belle carried it over to the trestle table.

“Who was playing such music?” Edytha asked as Belle began to spoon potatoes mixed with crispy bacon onto the platter. “It grew so quiet out there,” she gestured with her hand, waving the long, sharp bladed knife in the air so close to Belle’s face that she felt the air move past her cheek. Belle stepped smoothly aside, used to the cook’s sudden movements with her hands whenever she talked. “I could hear it plain as if it was coming from Bertyl.” Then she snickered as a picture of Bertyl playing a flute popped into her head and called over her shoulder. “Hey Bertyl, can you play the flute?”

“No, but I can whistle,” Bertyl pursed her lips and a sharp, off-key sound issued forth. That set the two women to laughing and Belle couldn’t help but laugh along with them.

“It was a woman,” Belle answered when the laughter finally died down. “Thin, with long blond hair.”

“Is she Elvish?” Edytha asked, her eyes widening slightly as she turned and looked at the door leading to the common room.

“I don’t think so. Tannikan might know, he was talking to her,” Belle replied, shrugging and trying to sound uninterested. “But, the man who joined her might be elvish.”

“What’s he look like?”

“Slender, with long blond hair.”

“Pointy ears?” Edytha asked eagerly.

“Mmmm…perhaps. I didn’t get that close a look.”

A smile kept tugging at one corner of her mouth when she saw the woman’s eyes grow even wider. It wasn’t long after coming to work at the Inn that Belle had learned of Edytha’s fascination with the Eldar race. Belle knew she wanted to take a look for herself and the only thing stopping her was the preparations yet to be done for the evening meal.

The platter done, Belle reached for a plate of greens and a few pieces of fruit and then stepped out of Edytha’s reach before saying with a wink and a grin, “I’ll let you know after I deliver this plate to him.”

“You better not be teasing me.” Sternly Edytha pointed the knife in her hand at Belle, but she wore a huge grin. “Hurry back,” she called as Belle was half way through the door.

More people were entering now that the day was drawing to a close. Weary travelers seeking out a hearty meal or a bed instead of the hard ground to rest on for the night and a few people who lived close by were stopping in for a refreshing pint of ale after a days work. Deftly Belle wove her way between the crowded tables, nodding to people that she knew and avoiding the hands of those she knew too well.

She was nearly halfway across the room when Tannikan waved her to over to the bar. She looked over at the table where the woman with the flute sat and pointed to the man seated across from her to let the barkeep know she’d be over as soon as she served the man. Tannikan nodded and went back to talking to the man standing next to him. Belle gave a quiet sigh as she continued across the room. There would be no time for small talk with the woman.

Bandar, his arms resting on the table as he leaned slightly forward while he talked quietly to Nin looked up as someone approached the table. It was the serving wench with his plate of food. He leaned back in the slat backed stool, moving his arms to make room for the plate. Nin glanced up, smiling as the woman set the plate down in front of Bandar.

“The music was wonderful,” Belle said as she flashed a friendly smile in Nin’s direction before turning to leave.

Tannikan had just served a fresh mug of ale to the man standing at the bar when Belle walked up. A traveler, she guessed as she noted the day or two growth on his chin and the travel stains lying lightly along the folds of his cloak. Tannikan leaned his arms on the bar. “The lady over there,” he nodded slightly in Nin’s direction, “will be playing here for a few nights in exchange for room and board. The Inns near full an’ there’s a spare bed in the room you share with Leondra so I’m gonna let her sleep there.”

“Fine with me Mr. Tannikan. Have you told Leondra yet?” Belle grinned and watched as Tannikan winced visibly.

Leondra was a hard worker and had worked for Tannikan for the past year or so. But she could also be a pain. For some reason he’d yet to fathom, she thought herself better than any of the other serving wenches who had lived and worked at the Inn. She wasn’t very friendly toward them and tended to lord over them and boss them around whenever she thought Tannikan wasn’t within earshot. He suspected that she was one of the reasons none of them stayed in his employ for very long.

“No, not yet,” he said with a heavy sigh and then saw Belle’s grin widen.

One eyebrow lifted as he regarded Belle. Easterlings were not looked on kindly by some people and he had been reluctant to hire her at first because of her heritage. But then she had shown him the letter she carried from her former employer and he had relented, for he knew well the reputation of the Inn and recognized the name of the woman who had signed it. He had not regretted hiring her for Belle proved to be a hard worker and the people who frequented the Inn, both travelers and locals alike, seemed to genuinely like her easy going manner and friendly attitude. Better yet was the fact that so far, Leondra’s attitude seemed not to bother Belle, even though Edytha had told Tannikan that more than once Leonda was unusually spiteful towards Belle because of her heritage.

“Would you like to?” he asked wondering if Belle would like the chance to have the upper hand.

Belle laughed and her eyes lit up. She recognized the chance Tannikan was giving her and answered, “Of course Mr. Tannikan, I will let her know.”

Journey couldn’t help but overhear the short conversation between them as he sat quietly sipping his ale. When Belle left, he turned and watched as she walked across the floor. Her step was lively and the brightly colored skirt she wore lightly swayed back and forth revealing brief glimpses of nicely turned ankles above her sandaled feet. He started to brink the mug of ale up to his mouth when he paused. He cocked his head and listened. What was that sound. He noticed a few other men pause to listen. Some of them looked around looking for the source, but a few just looked at Belle and smiled.

Journey watched Belle until she disappeared through a door at the far end of the door then turned back to the bar. Tannikan had a slight smile on his face too. “It’s the bells she has sewn to her petticoat. When she’s happy, or in a really good mood, they’re easier to hear. Must have somethin’ to do with the way she walks.”

~
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Postby erinhue » Mon May 12, 2008 8:11 pm

Bandar knew several things about one of the newcoming customers the moment the man walked into the inn. That he was a big man and solid in his size was told by the sound of his step. That he was one of the Beornings was tantalizingly heralded by the scent of the fabled honey-cakes made only by the heirs of Beorn. That he was one of the Beornings told much more about the man.

Bandar let his senses scan the patrons eating or drinking in the inn’s main taproom. The woman sitting across the table from him had not answered him but she had not declined his offer of company. The fare was nothing fancy and a bit heavier than what the elf would have preferred but traveling was depleting and he was more than slightly hungry.

He kept his eyes on his food when the serving girl brought his plate. It was amusing to watch her try to get a look at his ears. He could have accommodated her curiosity with a slight turn of his head but it was much more entertaining to let her continue her efforts. The tinkle of bells sewen somehwhere in her skirts was a pleasant curiosity She was an Easterling and that was more than interesting.

The girl had something in common with another of the patrons. A certain young man also seemed to have great interest in his table companion. This one kept shooting covert and over long glances at the woman seated with him at the table.

This was certainly a attention-grabbing mix of personalities the sort of mix that fate would make at some point of great portent.

“An intriguing audience your music has attracted. It would seem you have more than a few admirers.” Bandar attempted to engage the silent woman in some lighter conversation. There were heavy burdons weighing on this one’s spirit and she was too young to know that the best way to view one’s problems was to get out from beneath them.

“Your songs. I learned them long ago and they have been passed among my people for more than an age. I would still like to know where you heard them enough to teach your self to play them, but if you would keep the story to yourself I will honor that. Long have I hunted in the wild and the sound of solitary silence is no longer pleasing to me. The road that leads from this inn runs forward and back. If you find that we move in the same direction I would be honored to have you accept my company and save me from the same. My name is Bandar.”
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Postby rwhen » Tue May 13, 2008 2:05 pm

Journey enjoyed the warm bread and also got to order something more satisfying from the female who worked for Tannikin. He would have to get her name before the evening wore on to a new day. Something about those tinkling bells. While he waited for the victuals shortly to come, he regarded the latest person to enter the Inn.

Not knowing anything about the person, other than that he was large, Journey decided that he would focus his interests on the flute player. He rolled over many ideas, but decided that if music was her gig, he would gain her favor by also playing a song.

Getting the attention of Tannikin, he asked and was given permission to take the platform for performers. His multipipes were secured to his belt loop and easy enough to retrieve. When he passed by the table with the elvish man and the blonde woman, he stopped and made his acquaintance.

"Excuse me, I certainly do not mean to intrude. My name is Journey and I must say," he turned to the lovely lady, "your performance on the flute was amazing. Might I offer a pitiful tune to thank you?"

The woman looked at him with eyes wide and nodded in agreement. "My name is Nin. I would like to hear your tune." She smiled only slightly and in her eyes could be seen a depth of sorrow, it vanished as soon as it was noticed by her tablemate.

"Good Sir, I hope you will also enjoy the tune." Journey smiled to show that he was no rival.

"Bandar's the name." The elf stood and put his fist over his heart and then reseated himself.

"Bandar? I don't think I have had the pleasure for certainly I would not have forgotten meeting one of the high born." Journey bowed his head and made his way to the proper area.

The song he chose was one of his own making. Raising his multipipes to his lips, he first ran a trill up and down the reeds clearing any dust that might have accumulated inside. Taking a deep breath he began. The music was light and jaunty at the beginning but turned more forlorn at the middle. While playing he looked around the room and saw that everyone had stopped to listen to the song. Including the saucy serving lady in the doorway to the kitchens, she was keeping time with her foot.

By the crescendo, the music had returned to the happy melody as intended and ended on a long G variation in harmony, like waves gently coming to shore, which was intended. Before anyone could make response, Journey broke into the melody that went with the tune.....

As in the days of old
It has often been foretold
Of the old man and the sea
With promises meant for me
Always green, blue and gold.

Waiting for the cry of the gull
Unworthy the mighty will cull
Take me upon your crested breast
Of foaming treasure in your chest
Reaping harvest ore' and ever full.

But crashing and gnashing was how it came
Forgetting face, hand and name
No glory, no song nor fame
Just posturing in an old mans game.

Too soon my days will end
No bounty he will send
The waves come silently in
and flow back out again
My heart to ne'er mend.


The multipipes picked up on the final verse and played the song to its conclusion. Journey was not satisfied, his voice was sore from nonuse and he quickly made his way back to the bar, hoping that the food and more fine ale would be waiting for him.
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Postby Rodia » Tue May 13, 2008 4:27 pm

"You have no right to do this!"

Lennet ducked as a small pot flew through the air. It was the two-handled one, he noticed, the one with a hole worn through the bottom, but still Beckel's wife wailed after it. Thrifty creature. Before the man freed himself of her stingy grasp, Lennet splashed away through the shallows, and from a safer distance, resumed his protest.

"You have no right!" he repeated, shaking a fist. Beckel returned the gesture.

"You're lucky I don't drown you!" he screamed. The woman added something of her own, but the barge was quickly drifting away, and Lennet could no longer make her out. The broken pot followed with the current. It bobbed on the water for a little while, then just as the boat disappeared behind a bend in the river, it sank.

Lennet was left alone, standing in the shoals of the Hoarwell with mud seeping into his boots.

"No right," he announced, just so the world would be well-informed of the injustice. He stared at the flotsam of leaves and foam that ran past him. Come with us, they seemed to say. Lie down on the water, just like we do, and let the current take you South.

Lennet spat into the swirl with a rusty, spicy colour. He watched the speck of foam disappear.

If he waded to shore and waited until sundown, he would likely see the barge return upstream, pulled by a hard horse that should have died years ago, but was clearly too stubborn. Beckel would not sulk for long, and his wife had a heart of gold. In all truth, Lennet suspected she had been flattered.

The injustice was fact, and Lennet ranted inwardly all the way to the bank. He had meant no harm, and if Beckel had only let him explain...

Sulking, Lennet clambered onto the bank and pulled off his boots. To his disgust, he discovered a leech had wriggled its way down to his foot, where it latched on just above the ankle. He ripped it off and sent it flying into the water- it made a small 'plop'. Lennet's gaze was once again caught by the river's bend.

"Well, drown you both," he exclaimed, and turned the other way, looking up the current. What lay there, in the North? Mountains, he knew. Forest. And the legendary Elven valley he had so often threatened to visit.

"No time's better than right now," he decided, and began a brisk march upriver, soon leaving it behind to curve East. If he had gone straight on and kept West, he would have soon found himself back at the village. The choice to walk away from the known path was thrilling- and so enthusing that Lennet marched on with no pain in tired limbs nor rumble in empty stomach. Sundown seemed to come too early, he had plenty of stride left, and more than enough thoughts to take him all the way to the Ford.

"All the way to the Ford," Lennet told himself as he fell asleep that night, the river humming lullabies of Elves and other pleasant things. Hunger woke him up early the next morning, but his stubbornness would not give in to it. In any case, he told himself, it was just as far to the valley now as it would be to go home. This was not a very accurate judgement, but as Lennet had no map, it made little difference. He set off to follow the Bruinen.

"All the way to the Ford, the Ford..." he began humming, but the rhymes that came to him didn't quite scan, so he abandoned amateur songmaking for a cheerful whistling. This made the march more pleasant but dried the mouth terribly, so Lennet turned down to the water to wet his lips. By some odd coincidence, there was a man on the other side. Lennet squinted to see him better- he was not an Elf, but he was polite. The nearest inn, he shouted over the water, was at the Ford.

"All the way to the Ford and the Inn,
Pastries and stew and ale at the Inn..."

He could smell them even across the river. The sun had fled from the sky by the time Lennet had wet his feet in the Ford, and he was very, very hungry.

He stepped through the door just in time to catch the last two verses of a tune, and so joined in the applause that followed, adding in a stout 'Whoo-oo!' when he noticed the man singing had been the same who had given him directions to the inn.
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Postby nienor-niniel » Wed May 14, 2008 1:39 pm

„My name is Nin. I would like to hear your tune“

If the young man who had offered in his friendly and innocent way to play did recognize that she had hesitated a second, maybe even less to say her name, he did not show it. He was, after all, young and seemingly polite. And eager to be listened.

And while her ears followed the music, her eyes first glanced briefly at the elf again, then drifted off following the dark path of her thoughts. Would he have known the name of Nienor-Niniel? Or would it sound only like a name of a legend of old to him? If he had been to Rivendell, was her name still spoken there? Or had it been forgotten under the waves of the War and the silence of Elrond?

Bandar was the elf’s name, he had told and Nin had not known to which of the elvish family he belonged, not even if he was rather from Mirkwood or Lorien. Where else were elves left these days?

But then, she listened. The music was played nicely, a tune of rhythm and dance and indeed did one of the serving girls tap with her foot. But the musician himself did not seem happy. As soon as he had played the last notes, he went away without any further word, seemed to be heading for ale and food and did not pass their table again. Nin was not happy to see him go – first she did not feel comfortable being alone with the elf and then… he had well done. It was a different music than her own, it was a learned song, a tune he knew before playing it but it was well done and nicely presented and she would have wanted to tell him.

For a short moment, she only stared at the table, the fine lines the woods had drawn in growing, at the marks the knives, forks and plates had left over the decades. It was a good solid table in oak wood, one which would become an heirloom in a family, and could survive in a busy inn. It was not beautiful or fancy, but well done, a table to sit down and feel well, feel welcome. But she only thought if there was a way out of her promise to play for three evenings. The elf had been right: her music or maybe just the conjunction of spring and roads and safety and gossip had attracted some people here tonight and she did not feel comfortable with them. They were too many. It was too quick. This was too close to Rivendell, And the elf was watching her.

“I appreciate that you offer me company. My road will go further in three days. And then I shall decide where to go. “ On these words, she smiled one her shy, awkward little smiles and bent her head “I need some time before the evening, time to gather my thought on what to play. So, forgive me to tell you farewell for now.” Before the elf could say a word, she slipped away already, heading to the young man, Journey he had named himself.

“It is a shame that you left so promptly after playing. You are a good musician and you have a beautiful voice, strong and yet tender, able to reach heights and depths, I enjoyed your music.”

As Journey had his mouth full, he could not answer, but Nin saw his eyes shining and in fact, she was happy to avoid an answer for a while.

“There is one thing you should learn: you breathe the same way when you sing or when you play the multipipes. For singing, you should breathe differently. In a different rhythm, you know. Singing is quieter and it closer to your body. The air is not sent out into an instrument again, it goes directly into the tune. Just try to breath through your entire body before you sing, so that your song is full of a melody and not full of air… You will find your way of breathing the music, in the end. Just think about it.”

Journey nodded and by now, he had swallowed his mouthful and was able to answer.
“Thank you for your advice. You seem to know a lot about singing. Maybe one day, you can sing while I play… “

Nin could not see herself, but could she, she would have understood, why he interrupted his sentence so suddenly. She had not only become pale, but white, not like a sheet but like a dead, as if in second death had fallen upon her and she had carried it with her for years.

“No.” she said and her voice was ashen, strangled. “I do not sing. You shall have to sing yourself tonight.”

Nin bit on her lips, lowering her eyes. She felt like suffocating and for a second feared she would be vomiting her meal… so close… so close already. But nobody knew who she was. She could still just turn around, walk away, live a few more years alone and die alone.

But those days were over.

At the bar, Tannikin was listening while drying a glass in his hand. One musician, now two and he did not have to pay them.. and look how people seemed to be attracted. He was a good businessman and this was good business. This man, coming in a bit earlier, he was quite huge and on his second ale already and he looked like he might support more. Another one had entered while Journey was playing and by the looks knew the young lad from Bree at least a bit. The news of an elf would drag the curious farmers from the surrounding wood, so there was right now only one little thing to worry about. The flute playing lady had just said the wrong words.

“Three evening it shall be. But if I can ask you for a moment of rest, now, before the evening starts, a moment to breathe through, maybe wash my face – my bath was disrupted in the morning…”

He wiped over the glass again. And again and again. Then sighed. And he explained to Nin, that he did not have – or not really have a room for her. That his serving maids - he pointed at the pretty one who had said a word to Nin before and who seemed to carry music in her feet and the other one, who looked more tired and concentrated and made a commanding gesture with her hands – in Tannikin’s back so that, surely by pure chance he could see it – would have to share their rooms for the night with her. It was even more than what Nin had expected – her thoughts had been a well and the stables.

“Belle can show you the room.” He said, finding a way to turn around the question that Leondra did not yet even know. And Nin nodded.

When she turned around to leave the – not yet crowded but slowly filling – common room to follow Belle to the room where she would sleep - a room under a roof, a bed with shirts, for the first time in weeks, she bumped into the tall man, at whom the elf had stared a short moment. While both apologized, she caught a quick look into his eyes. They were dark and somehow… wild. Like a beast. She could feel herself shiver as if she would have to defend herself from a wild animal, a predator. And then, it was over. “Music tames the Wild.” She thought, wondering, where her own thought were coming from and how she could put this short encounter into notes the very evening
Thus, she followed Belle with a last shy nod to the elf Brandar and Journey. Just for a short moment of rest and loneliness.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed May 14, 2008 6:39 pm

Brondgast looked up from his simple repast to notice he was being watched. First by an elf, who named himself Bandar, then Nin, who looked at him somewhat afraid. He had that effect on people.

He smiled and said "Well met." She scurried away with the one who was wearing bells, an Easterling by her bearing. For the most part, he avoided them, but this one was different.

But, he listened to Journey's song and the pipes he played. A good song, though he seemed nervous. If he could sing, that would probably be what he would, but he left such matters to the Elves and Bards who could do such things better.

It would be a sad and dreary world when the last of the Elves left for the West. That was a reason he made the journey to the Last Homely House where some of the last of that kin dwelt, to meet them one last time before they forsook Middle-Earth forever.

He got up from the table, noting that Bandar was following him with his eyes. He nodded to the elf, but he was making his way to Journey at the bar. He brought his plate of bread and jug of wine with him.

Setting it down beside Journey, he said "A good song. Brondgast is the name."
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Postby Jaeniver » Thu May 15, 2008 6:55 am

“Will you not stop for a moment?”

Digging the heels of his boots further into the horse’s flanks he urged his brown mare to keep up with its black companion who had already started to climb the steep hill. Behind it he knew would flow Loudwater, what had she called it? The Bruinen.

“I am sure the horses would oblige” He called again and this time the black horse slowed down. Its rider, the elf turned sideways and looked at him with the same agitated frown on her brow as when they first met in Minas Tirith. As a young diplomat on his way up he was given a fabulous assignment namely discuss future plans with a Rivendel emissary. He had expected an elderly looking fellow , an elf of respectable age but instead he faced a haughty she-elf who clearly thought listening to his plans were of little importance.

‘Don’t know why she cares how her time gets spend, she’s got plenty of it.’ He muttered under his breath as he approached her half way on the hill. He had made the mistake of saying: “You are not quite who I was expecting.” Everything had gone down hill from there. Because neither would relent nor offer solutions the other would agree to it was decided he would give the partitions to the lord of Rivendel himself. Grudgingly she had finally agreed to that and had even offered him to ride back with her. There ended the gallantry.

Having finally caught up with her he smiled kindly and they continued to decent the hill on a slower pace. “There, no harm done in slowing down right.” He flashed another smile but received only silence. The entire decent was silent with the elf focused only on what was in front of her not once did she blink. He knew as he took regular peeks at her, staring at the points of her ears and the way which her eyes would never close for a second. ‘Such peculiar beings elves are.’

Suddenly he realised they must have gotten down already for he could hear the river. Yes he could hear it but barely lay eyes on it. Surprised he realised night had set it. The last few rays of the sun were creeping behind the hills. “I hate to pry but should we not set up camp somewhere. You know, stay somewhere overnight?” The elf reigned in her horse “ It’s not too far now, if we speed it up again we’ll reach Imladris before all goes pitch black.”

Riding in the dark wasn’t something to look forward to. She might have eagle eyes but he didn’t nor did his horse. He could slip on loose pebbles and fall down a ditch. She’d have a right laugh then. “Yes, yes we could do that or,” he added hastily “we could unwind a bit and reach Rivendel well rested and refreshed first thing in the morning. I happen to see a Inn right there.” And he illustrated his proposal by pointing at the wooden building just a few yards down the road. “It would all be on me of course.” And he flashed another charming smile.

It had taken a bit more persuading but finally she had agreed in letting the horses rest and get some food and a bed for the night. The common room of the inn was well sized with plenty of tables,chairs and stools for guests of all sorts and sizes to accommodate themselves. Having left Caberion in the care of a young lad Jaeniver took her seat at a table near the bar where a pretty southern looking girl attended to the many customers . Had it been up to her she would have preferred the comfort of her own room but as she took off her dusty cape and stretched her legs she came to agree with the decision to stop here for the night. “Well not bad for a road side inn. “ The Gondorian had caught up with her after settling matters with the innkeeper. He took the chair opposite of her and motioned the southern girl with a smile. “Good evening my dear. Could you revive of us with some ale and perhaps a platter of some cheese, some meats and bread? Thank you ever so much”. He turned to Jaeniver “If that is fine by you of course.” She nodded “Sounds just perfect.” He turned back to the waitress “you heard her, the ale and the plate of foods it is. Now what’s your name my dear? You strike me as far away from home...”

As she let the young man converse with the waitress her eyes wandered about the common room. More elves, men and women. Most were happily engaged in conversation, some drank alone quietly. A flash of gold caught her eye. A blonde woman in the company of an elf.
There was something familiar about her. Suddenly the woman rose. Jaeniver narrowed her eyes to discover what it was about her that was so familiar but the woman had disappeared. Only now did she realised her Gondorian companion was talking to her. “You are miles away. Are you alright? Perhaps it’s dehydration here, have some of your ale. It’ll do you good.” Jaeniver nodded absentmindedly not even having noticed ever receiving the ale and took a sip of her jug. Through the entire meal the golden colour of the woman’s hair danced around in her head. She ate thoughtfully
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Postby Arassuil » Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:45 pm

Another day at this inn, and another cup of tea. Each day for a week now, Malvagil had gone out back to cut, split and stack dry windfall to fuel the fires of this fine inn. For this the innkeeper paid him in meals and allowed his use of a cot in the storeroom. But this day the woodstores were filled. His job for the innkeeper was done. Good thing too, for to stay now he would have to pay. His work this day got him the days meals and one last sleep on the cot. He would be on his way in the morning.

Usually he would just sit and eat his meals, sip tea, smoke his pipe, and watch, keeping to himself. The few at the inn let him be, knowing by his rough appearance that he was a war veteran. Yes, he was feeling it was time to move onward. This would be the last day here. But he would enjoy the coming meal of roast cooking on a spit over the fire, bacon, with fresh vegetables and leaf lettuce... it would be one of the best this week!

A young man came in and eagerly approached the innkeep, whispering excitedly. The innkeeper's eyes lit up and a couple other patrons within earshot seemed to get excited as well. Malvagil turned his head slightly to get his left ear keen to hear what he could. Something about a lone traveller from afar approaching, a woman. Malvagil turned his head back and exhaled, not sure what the excitement was about. It was an inn, and people come and go. Its likely the young man like what he saw of her and was eager to tell. Yes, it will be good to have some new folk come to the inn. He tamped out his pipe and leaned back against the wall to rest, waiting for the meal to be ready, and see who arrived and what the excitement was all about.

It was awhile before the door opened and in came a small woman. She conversed with the innkeeper, and like himself, made some sort of deal with him for his services. It wasn't long before she began to play a flute. It had been long since Malvagil had heard music so fair. After the war there had been too many dirges played in honour of the fallen. Too much sadness and grief. It seemed the music he'd heard had fallen too long into despair.

But now... this woman playing. The sounds seeming familiar yet distant. Filled with life and love and the freshness of the morning dew, yet to him, a vague feeling that something was missing. Malvagil sat motionless, his pipe un-moving in his palm. The song ended, and he remained in far away thought, remembering his days in Rivendell so long ago. Maybe, if she will play again, that he would have to linger here some more, for he wished to hear beautiful music again. He drained his cup of cold tea and again lit his pipe, contemplating the song he had heard and watching without looking the woman eat the meal brought to her. His own meal was brought not long after, the payment for the days work.

The door opened and an elf entered, looking about the common room quickly. Spotting the woman finishing her meal, he went and sat down near her. Malvagil had not seen too many elves the last few years unless they were passing quietly in the night. It had been in Gondor at the wedding of Aragorn and Arwen that he last saw many elves. Rumor had it that Elrond's sons still lingered about, but he had not seen them since leaving Minas Tirith. He watched the elf as the two engaged in old elven conversation. The din of the patron's voices had again picked up after the awe of the woman's beautiful flute playing and then an elf entering the inn. Malvagil finished his meal and sipped his refreshed cup of tea

Having been a ranger, it was a common skill to watch past where you wished to give attention. Malvagil's eyes watched the innkeeper and Belle, one of the table wenches who worked there. An interesting one her. Had the looks of an Easterling, of which he had fought hand-to-hand in the war too many times to account. But she had a fair look, and her step had something extra. He hadn't talked with her much if at all over the last week, but then she was kept quite busy. She did know he only drank tea and seemed to go out of her way keeping him supplied with it.

All the while he watched elsewhere, he kept the majority of his attention on the table where the woman and the elf sat. Another man entered and engaged the innkeeper, and an air of familiarity seemed to be between them. His drink was the house ale, likely a fair drop. Malvagil had pondered having one more than once, but remembered the incident at the Prancing Pony shortly after his return. He used to be able to drink, but after the war, no. Maybe something happened to his head from one of his wounds? No matter, he had since then, became unpredictable when drinking. No, not today he thought to himself.

The door opened again and a rather large man entered. He could have made short work of those knotted logs he had sweated over splitting. 'Yes, this was turning out to be an interesting evening!' He thought to himself as he noticed the man who knew the innkeeper move to the performing stage with an instrument. Malvagil tamped and lit his pipe again while listening to the man sing and play. It sounded nice, but did not compare to the magic that had come from the flute of the blonde woman. Still, Malvagil could tell this man could do better. Nevertheless, his playing seemed to bring a few more in through the door. It also drew the blonde woman musician from her seat to where the man stood by the bar. Unable to hear what was said, he guessed it had to do with music. Such talent they had. What useful talent did he have? None really, unless it was writing and map-making. But mainly he knew how to fight and kill. He knew battle tactics and the strategies of warfare. He knew how to evade, conceal, silent sign, maneuver, infiltrate, attack, defend, withdraw. All things that have little use in a time of peace. He continued to watch the interaction by the bar.

Malvagil decided he had had enough to smoke for now and would like to have a word with the innkeeper, so he emptied out his pipe on the table. Making sure all the embers were out, he brushed the ash to the floor and put his pipe inside his coat as he watched the blonde musician leave the common room with Belle, leaving behind the sound of talk, banter, and the occasional outburst of laughter. He was pretty happy that he had gained little to no notice from anyone who had entered the common room. The art of concealment was second nature to him, and sitting still at a small table away from the candles and lamps, blending in to the wood and activities seeming a part of an inn's common room while others drew eyes. He decided he would give away his presence and stood up. A serving wench moved in to clear away his empty plate. Malvagil stepped across the hardwood floor toward the bar holding his empty tea mug. The large man had also gotten up, and it seemed they both were heading toward the same spot at the bar. Malvagil hesitated and let the large man go first, and he followed. Hearing him talk to the man who played and sang, introducing himself as Brondgast, Malvagil stepped up on the other side of the musician and nodded to Tannikin before saying,

"I've finished with the wood cutting, and you should be set for some time."

"I thank thee for that."

Tannikin replied offhandedly. Malvagil went on,

"I'll be foregoing your cot this night and sleep outside, for the weather is fair and you may need the room. Unless you can tell me if the two fine musicians that played this night will indeed play again. I will likely be on my way in the morn."

Tannikin looked at the man beside Malvagil then off toward where the blonde woman and Belle had gone, and said,

"The woman will play for three nights, and this guy I believe may accompany her playing with his own and sing as well?"

Tannikin's gaze had shifted to Journey, who had began conversing with the large man Brondgast. Malvagil answered,

"Well, being things have been pretty ordinary here these last few days, it was good to see some people, even a couple elves finally come by here, and better yet, it was a treat to hear such beautiful music being played. I think I may stay a day or two more. But worry not, I will pay for my meals and drink, and will sleep outside. Now, I'll have some more of that spicy herbal tea you have."

Tannikin nodded as he tapped a requested ale that was hurried off by one of the barmaids, then poured Malvagil's cup afresh. The scent of cinnamon and jasmine wafted out of the cup and Malvagil breathed it deep before taking a small sip. Good stuff this. He then turned and leaned his back to the bar, taking a good look around the common room.
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Postby nienor-niniel » Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:35 pm

Belle was walking in front of her and Nin tried to listen to her chit-chat about the inn and Tannikin, the other servant, whose name she did not distinguish, the weather, the elves or whatever. In fact, Nin did not listen. She just realised that the woman’s voice was friendly, inviting, without any agressivity, the voice of someone who could be a friend. Intriguingly enough, the voice reminded her of Eolynd, and thus of Haleth. Haleth.... he must be ten now, or eleven...

What was it in this evening that brought back all those memories which she tried to close in for years? Was it Rivendell being so close, and being on her way, that she did not know if it might bet he last station on her road? Would Elrond let her leave a second time? Ort his time sentence her to death? So, how about the threads of her live which were not finished, not over? Would she be able to pick them up? Would she meet her friend again? Or her son? No answers, except he soft, melodious voice of the Easterling girl walking in front of her like a living proof that friendliness can be found everywhere and does not look for origin or race or wealth.

The elven woman who had arrived, Nin had not seen her. She would have recognised her immediately. Of course, she had changed in all those years. But the elves she had left behind, they were still almost the same. Maybe the eyes a bit deeper. But no change of features, no aging, nothing of the endless agony of mankind.

All of a sudden, Nin realized that there was an unusually long break in the flow of conversation from the woman. In fact, Belle was looking at her with questioning eyes and although she tried with all her strength, Nin could not remember the last words, even lest a question from the young woman. Seeing no other escape form the questioning look, Nin sighed deeply.

„I am sorry and I apologise. I was lost in my thoughts.“ Nin tried to smile bravely, uneasy about being so impolite.

“Oh.” Answered Belle. “I wondered if you will play with the singer later?”

Nin hesitated for a little moment, wondering if the girl hoped or resented to see and hear the young lad again.

“Journey? Let’s see… I do not sing. But I’ll need breaks to drink and catch breath, so he will surely be heard again tonight.”

Nin still smiled, still uneasy, although she hoped that the young girl would leave her alone for a little moment now. She felt the need to gather her thoughts. The hours spent in company – more than she had been used to than during the weeks of her errands – had made her tired and thoughtful. Just a moment of rest, of silence…. To think about the tunes she would play, the words she would say and the days to come.

With one gesture, Belle had showed her the room where they would sleep tonight.

“This is my bed, this shall be yours for the night and this… is Leondra’s.” Nin noticed a slight hesitation in her voice.

“You don’t like her very much, don’t you?” But the girl did not answer.

“I am sorry.” Hurried Nin to say. “That was most indiscrete. I am very grateful for your friendliness. I shall now need some silence to think about the music for the evening. But after playing, maybe we can speak a bit.”

Then, the door closed and Nin took a deep breath. She could still hear the voices form the common room raising and she knew that tonight it would be rather full. She had seen the satisfied look an Tannikin’s face, a proof of the success. Slowly, she tried to prepare herself for a number of persons, for noise and talk tonight, for the smell of pipe weed and of drinks. She must not let herself drink. So much was clear. Another deep breath. She would be able to make it.

After a little while in the room, Nin took a little walk outside, breathing deeply. She walked back to the river again, wetting her face with cool, soft water. It was still so clear here, close to the source. She even kneeled down, not paying any attention to the traces of mud and grass on her knees to drink a bit of the water. It was quite cold and had a light taste of iron.

When she raised on her feet, a very light smell of pipe weed told her that she had been watched. A man was sitting there, following her with his eyes. A man, not an elf. Again, she tried to smile.

They did not talk. But Nin watched his face, a hardened face, a bit like leather, marked with years of grief. Not a young face, not a peaceful face. A face of war or fights, a face which told a story. When her sad eyes met his, both nodded, finding in the expression of sadness an echo of their losses and of being lost. This short exchange of glances calmed her greatly.

She then went back, to pick up her flute, to bring the first evening behind her, to make them laugh, cry, eat, drink, dance – she knew she could all do it. And she wondered if the elf was still there, but no longer with fear. But of course, not all men in the world could have taken Nin to the inn had she seen the arrival of the elvish woman earlier.
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Postby erinhue » Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:22 pm

Bandar watched the woman get up from the table and follow the Easterling serving girl out of the main taproom. Very interesting that one, full of secrets and fears, the elf thought to himself as he finished his meal Those songs did not just happen to drift upon the air like so many fallen leaves. There were only a certain few now that knew the songs well enough to pass them along with the richness found in the woman’s playing. She was afraid to say where she had learned those songs, Bandar concluded. He nodded slightly at another revelation. She was afraid of him.

In most situations, like the ones that had found him lately, that was a good thing. A reputation that inspired fear was an additional tool to be used in the field. Her fear could have found justification, Bandar knew himself to be a very dangerous individual when warranted but he had done nothing, made no move of overt aggression to frighten the woman. Perhaps he had been too long in the wild but he did not intend to inspire fear in his dinner companion. It was not him personally, the elf decided, for some reason she had a fear of the Elves.

As the ranger contemplated this new puzzle his senses called him to a more alert attention to his surroundings. An air of mystery and great power charged the atmosphere. A woman, an elf woman of considerable status, had come into the inn.
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Postby Jaeniver » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:52 am

The meal was simple yet tasteful, the inn warm and inviting. Her companion by force shared pleasantries over mulled wine and tankards of ale. She knew that if he kept up his drinking pace he’d suffering the consequences tomorrow. No doubt he’d whine even more. So far she had heard his academy stories and his idealistic views on politics, the long and sad history of his dog named Wold and he was currently retelling a tale of his childhood. The elf had managed to block out the man’s voice a while ago, only turning her ears and eyes to him whenever he’d laugh out loud or spoke forcefully. Surely he was a very animated person to be around when one liked drinking and hanging around bars. She did neither.

Her travelling cloak was cast off and her were muscles slowly relaxing after days of riding but never did she let her guard down. Still the voice of the Gondorian was penetrating her ears and she found herself getting tested. Her patience ran far but not endless. “Excuse me, please, I shall get us more refreshments.” With an agitated frown on his face he let the interruption pass and nodded somewhat sheepishly.

With lean strides she made her way to the bar with alert eyes she observed the common room as she waited for one of the maids to take her request. There, sitting at the table she caught another elf looking at her. They were growing low in numbers and it made her sad. So for the sake of kinship she inclined her head and granted him one of her few little smiles. She too had considered leaving Middle Earth and go west but as long as Elrond remained so would she and maybe even then she would never leave the only placed known to her as home.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:22 am

Brondgast turned around to see a rare sight in these days. An elf! Some were still around to grace this world. That was one thing this Beorning had traveled so far from home to see. Most had gone to the West, leaving Middle-Earth behind, and the place was duller for it.

It seemed Journey was not in a talkative mood, as the minstrel had not answered him. This would indeed be the beginning of an unexpected adventure in these places since the Dark Tower had fallen so long ago, and the hated orcs were few and scattered now.
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:16 am

Bandar tapped his fist to his heart as he nodded in response to the lady elf's acknowledgement. He waited with no little hope that she would ask him to join her or come and join him for even just a moment. They were a dwindling race in Middle Earth and it would be very plesant to speak with one of his kind and see how she faired in this world of Men.
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Postby Arassuil » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:50 pm

Malvagil had gone outside to find a decent place to spend the night, and found a spot atop a grassy knoll overlooking the river. The sound of the water trickling would be soothing and he could use that.

Sitting there silent on his bedroll, he finished his tea and let the mug drain in the grass while he loaded up his pipe. He struck his flintstone to light it, and mellowly smoked and listened.

It wasn't long before the sound of approaching steps were heard. Malvagil sat silent as the silhouette of a woman against the sunset could be seen. He soon recognized her as the flutist from the inn. She walked down toward the river to wash and drink, Malvagil thought about the music she played, and the feeling it gave him. He sat silent, smoking and watching. She looked his way but words were not spoken, No words were needed, for the brief moment's gaze spoke more than any words could say. Unlike from her music, he could feel her pain. He answered with pain of his own, and somehow, their pain met midway and gave each some comfort. She walked on back to the inn while Malvagil sat. His pipe gave off one last gasp of smoke before it was spent, and he tapped it out on the back of his mug. Standing and setting his bedroll by a nearby oak tree, he then picked up his mug and walked back toward the inn. If this woman was going to play again this night, he would want to hear it.
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Postby nienor-niniel » Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:16 pm

The evening had come. Spending the afternoon partly in, partly out of the room Tannikin had given her, Nin had tried to get rid of her fear. Not fear of tonight and how and what she would play, but fear of who might listen, if there were elves listening and if there were would they know her? Would someone from Rivendell dwell here or travel so far for a night out? And if not today, tomorrow or the morrow after it? What had taken her to delay so close to her goal? He could not think of the persons she had met throughout the day, she could not think of the music she would play tonight, all her thoughts were turned towards Rivendell. So close, so far.

As she had predicted to Tannikin, the inn had filled. Nin entered on her tiptoes, seeing the young servant maid – she remembered her name, Belle – chatting vividly at one of the tables with a few costumers. She saw the elf – Brandar – sitting in a corner, talking to a woman, elvish too, but besides that, she could only see her back. Then there was Journey, who had sung earlier in the morning, and who looked like he had taken a good walk in the woods during the afternoon, his cheeks fresh and rose and hi face joyful in anticipation. How young he seemed. Nin smiled at him, an inviting smile, for she liked his eagerness and would want him to sing a few songs in the evening, while she took something to drink or just a breath, for he was worth listening to. Or maybe…

“Journey.” She called for him “Do you know a song of Nimrodel? Which one in which harmony?” Quickly, they discussed which song he knew and if Nin could play it – then she promised him a duo after a while of playing.

Nodding to Tannikin, Nin walked to the empty square prepared at one of the walls, almost like a small stage. Her flute was already out, she had warmed it by blowing some warm air inside, it would sound good. Nodding once more, to the Inn-keeper, she cleared her throat and raised her voice.

“Ladies and gentlemen, by the grace of Tannikin, I shall play for you tonight. I hope you will enjoy my music and if you do, you will sing or hum and be thirsty and drink many a glass on the health of Tannikin.” Nin wondered how easy this was to her, selling herself. But she remembered the evenings in the Rohirrim village and their cottage – hers and Theadon’s cottage - filled with people who had come to listen. This was not so different.

During the first part of the evening, she played rather joyful tunes, songs of Rohirrim dances, tunes telling of summer days and harvest, of the smell of ripe apricots and the flowers in the yard. And she could watch how it made people happy to listen. The faces around her were smiling, as if lit by an inner fire, or as if tanned freshly from the summer sun. It was not necessary to listen carefully, you could drop the music out of your ear for a few minutes and then still be caught back, you could easily eat and drink while listening. All went smoothly, and in the edge of he r glance, she could see Tannikin smile. It must be a good evening for him.

After a while, Nin announced her need for a break. She smiled at Journey to see if he was still ready to go for it and the young man nodded. So she started the tune of Nimrodel’s legend and after a few measures, he started to sing. People were listening more carefully now, and Nin thought how brave it was of him o sing with a player he barely knew: how could he have been so sure that she would accompany him rightly? But, their song worked fine or at least fine enough for the public in the inn, although Nin heard a few dissonances and she was sure, the young man – and of course the elves in the inn had heard them too.
During her break, Nin walked over to Belle, ordered a tea with honey. Some costumers tried to pay her a drink, an ale, but she knew that if she took one drop, she would not stop. An ale was not an option. Not tonight.

In the corner of her eye, Nin could see the elf from the morning, leaning over his table, in what seemed to be an animated discussion with the elven lady. But she could still not see the face of the lady who turned her back on Nin. And of course, being short-sighted did not help in crowded place with steams of smoke. Among the costumers, Nin recognised a few other faces she had seen during the day; like the tall man who smelled honey and the one with sad eyes. Had they stayed to hear her? Nin felt flattered.

Journey’s interlude came to an end and Nin trailed her way back through the clapping hands. Now, in the second part of the evening, she planned to give them something different for their ears. Now, she would not play summer tunes and known music and legends. Her fingers would play their own way, she would let them glide, play, speak and breathe by themselves. Slowly, she sat her flute back on her lips and started to play.

In her mind were the images of the War. Even of the recent battle. She thought of the men screaming while they rode to battle, of the grim and closed faces of the knights, waiting for the attack. She thought of herself, in the cloak, her hand clutching to the Sickle. And of Orthanc and the room of speechless beauty, where they had found this weapon, so fair. Her notes which had been harsh, almost brutal before, then became sweet like the smell of honey in the pan on a winter’s eve. One could hear that she was playing beauty. Then again, the call of the battle and even her light flute seemed to resound from the call of horns and drums, summoning the soldiers and the fear of the battle, mingled to excitement. Many of those people had seen a part of this war which had affected all of Middle Earth, They would hear her. They would understand. And then, silence. The walk over the battle-field, among the dead, the wounded, hearing them call and seeing the torn bodies where used to be proud, young men, ready for a promising life, powerful elves, all united in the mud of the battle be their victorious, be they vanquished, in the end all the dead looked alike.

There, she ended. The room was dead silent. Everybody looked at her. Some had tears in their eyes, some of the women, maybe widows of those who had not come back. Nin sighed. For tonight, enough played. Her body and mind needed a rest. She smiled weakly: “If you want more, come back tomorrow.”

Already the sound of the hands, clapping, applauding, she heard like through a glass wall. The elvish woman sitting with Bandar has risen and even with her short-sighted eyes, she seemed familiar to Nin, who was not yet sure, though.

Her mind was still filled with music. But after a moment of break, would she be able to escape people wanting to talk a little.

As long as she was not sure about the elf, Nin was not sure either, that she could face people.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:40 pm

Brondgast watched and listened as Nin and Journey did their songs, and it evoked an uncharacteristic smile from him. He had desired to go to Rivendell, and he still would, to hear such songs and see if the Elves had not totally deserted Middle-Earth. He was also friends of the Eagles who were still around, but fewer than during the War. Many had gone with the Elves into the West.

The Beorning couldn't sing worth anything, but he enjoyed listening to it. "Well done!" he said. He didn't know that soon, he would be accompanying these very people to a common destination, and protecting them from perils that still existed even after the War.
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Postby Arassuil » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:19 pm

Malvagil returned to his preferred seat inside the inn, and a fresh pot of herbal tea was set before him. Sipping it slow, he sat silent and watched as the inn filled, and with a certain peaceful feeling, let his eyes slip closed. Soon flute music was playing. Was it in his head or in the common room? Joy and merriment could be heard, and Malvagil opened an eye to see the woman playing. A tune had a similar sound as one played in camp by a Rohirrim soldier at Dunharrow. Then, it was a last gasp of forced merriment before impending doom, and Malvagil and the other Rangers rode forth the next morn, accompanying their Chieftain through dark paths of death on their way to war.

But now it filled the room with the scent of fresh harvest and the sounds of tankards and plates mixed into it. The air was joyful and relaxed. Malvagil sat, leaning against the wall, letting the music relax him. When she finished, applause erupted when the woman announced she was in need of a break, but she quickly quieted the crowd down with words to the young man who had earlier been by the bar. The tune of Nimrodel flowed forth, and the two seemed to play off each other through the rendition. When it ended, the young man took up and played some of his own music.

The sound of the music, with the low sound of eating and drinking, with voices talking made for a general melodic din typical of a crowded inn common room. It didn't subside any when the woman returned to play, but with the first sound of her flute, the room grew silent in anticipation. Malvagil sat forward as if to hear words whispered far away, and the music filled the room. It was different than earlier. It carried Malvagil back... back to Pelargir and the Pelennor Fields as he closed his eyes. Back to the clash of swords and singing bows, and the screams and cries of men. Visions of memories buried surfaced, of seeing the Easterling's axe cutting down Halbarad, and Malvagil's own sword slaying the Easterling too late to save his captain. The tune softened into a sweet melody, and the aftermath could be felt.

Silence.

Malvagil opened his eyes to see the room still. Beads of sweat gathered and dripped from his face, and he wiped it with his sleeve. She was finished, and he was back in the inn. Looking around, it was obvious that her music had affected each one in their own way. He sat, motionless, trying to regain his composure as he heard her say,

"If you want more, come back tomorrow."

Slowly, applause started, growing in its intensity. One of the high elves stood, and soon others followed suit. Malvagil forced his legs to stand, and he too joined in the applause. Orders for food and drink were taken and delivered, and Tannikin was evermore happy with the business. Someone jumped upon a table and called for a toast to him, his inn, and the entertainment. Malvagil lifted his tea mug in quiet agreement and the applause in the room became deafening. He wanted to make his way to the woman and tell her how much her music, especially the last, had touched him, but the crowd was beginning to move, and shee seemed focused on the high elves. No, he would stay in the fringes, and would stay as long as she stayed at this inn playing. He would hope to be able to tell her later, when things quiet. Right now, he had to get outside. and he made his way through the people to the door.

Stepping out front, the chill breeze of the night cooled him. He never liked crowds, and even less so since the war. It was something he tolerated, usually out of necessity. But here, now it was by his own choice. He again wiped his brow of sweat beads, and his hand shook. He grabbed it with his other hand and it stopped. Twisting his fingers together, he then let his hands slap his legs. A deep breath of the night air calmed him, and he leaned against the wall. After a short while, the door opened and the sounds of the common room grew loud. Malvagil grabbed the open door and nodded, then went back inside.
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Postby Belle~Lorgan » Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:21 am

~

”Whoa Belle, calm down!” Edytha exclaimed. “It was an accident!”

“Accident my foot!” Belle exclaimed slamming down her tray and grabbing a wet cloth. She dabbed at the dark stain splashed down the front of her blouse and skirt. “She knew I was behind her!”

“Let me help,” Bertly offered, walking over to Belle with another damp cloth. She gently dabbed at the skirt while Belle worked on her blouse. The stain, bloody meat drippings from the roast, was gradually disappearing from the light woolen skirt under Bertyl’s deft hands but the stain on the light colored fabric of the linen blouse was another matter. No matter how much, or how quickly, she blotted at it with the cloth some of the stain still remained. The blouse was ruined. Belle’s shoulders slumped dejectedly. She had only one other blouse.

“Take a break and go outside for a moment or two. Give yourself a chance to cool off,” Edytha said going back to the rows of bread dough she was readying for the morning.

“Think I will.” Belle patted Bertyl on the arm, thanking the scullion maid for her assistance and walked out the door in the back of the kitchen. The moment she was outside she let the tears of anger she’d been holding back slide down her cheek. Then taking a couple of deep breathes of the cool night air and wiping her cheeks dry, she walked over to the old well set back in the yard. She sat down on the stone rim, picking at pieces of the crumbling mortar around the rim until she had a small handful. Then one by one, she held them over the black hole and dropped them, letting go of her anger as each one left her hand just as Popi had taught her when she was young. ‘Think of each stone as a piece of your anger, drown it quickly before it eats away at you.’

One…two…three… Leondra had known Belle was behind her, she had spoken to her just a few moments earlier, telling the woman that Tanniken wished to speak to her. Four…five… It will do no good to complain, Mr. Tanniken will say that was an accident- but Belle had seen the flash of triumph of her face - and try to placate Belle. Six…seven… That would only make matters worse. Any favoritism shown her only seemed to irritate Leondra even more. Eight…nine… All the pieces were gone, her anger with them. With a sigh, she looked eastward. The mountains were there, hidden by darkness now, but still she could feel their immense presence. Would her family’s clan have traveled over them she wondered, once more as she had so many times since coming within their shadow. Or were they somewhere in the wilds of Rhudaur? Or southward among the foothills of the Misty Mountains? Or had they, she thought with a sinking feeling, returned to the distant lands of the East now that peace reigned over the land? If that was the case, it would be a long time before she found them, if ever. One day soon she would have to decide which way to go next in her search of them, she nearly had enough coin saved up from her wages to buy a fair amount of stores for a journey.

With another sigh Belle stood up and started back toward the kitchen. The last meal had been served and cleaning up would come next. ‘At least, I can sleep in a bit,’ she thought with a note of satisfaction as she opened the door. ‘It’s Leondra’s turn to help Mrs. Tannikin with the morning meal.’

“Leondra’s gone up to her room now Bell. Mr. Tannikin told her it was okay since she has the early shift,” Edytha said over her shoulder when she heard the door open.

“I know,” Belle said, coming over and picking up the tray from where she’d left it. She smiled at Edytha. “I’ll gather up the rest of the platters and such and then help Mr. Tannikin serve up drinks until the crowd thins. Then I’ll come back to help Bertyl clean up in here.”

“Good. I’ll be off to find my own bed just as soon as I cover this bread and set it near the hearth to rise. Don’t forget to check these when you finish up Bertyl,” she said without turning around.

“Yes ma’m.”

In the common room some in the crowd had begun to wander off after the announcement by Nin that to hear more of her music they would have to return on the morrow. Word had circulated during the afternoon that there would be music this night and those who lived nearby now left to return to their own homes. Belle brought Nin another cup of tea laced with honey as she relaxed at a table apart from everyone else. So far during the course of the evening the woman had kept to herself, more by choice, for there was no lack or of offers from some of the patrons wishing her to join them at their tables. She looked tired, or was it sad? Belle couldn’t tell. She told Nin as she set the tea down, “Leondra has gone up to bed. She must rise early so be quiet when you go up. There is usually a lamp left burning low outside the door.”

“Thank you,” Nin murmured as she gave a tentative smile. “I’ll remember that.”

“Leave the lamp outside again and the door cracked abit for me before you go to sleep, I won’t be up until late. It’s my turn to help clean up,” Belle smiled back at Nin and then turned to leave. She had a tankard of ale to deliver to the large bearded man before she started clearing tables. As she set his tankard down, he grinned up at her. “I detect the touch of honey in this brew. Am I right?”

“Yes,” Belle grinned back at Brondgast. “Brewed with wheat from farms in the Angle and honey from a bee keeper in the same region, or that’s what I’ve heard Mr. Tannikin say before.”

“But not as sweet and fine as the honey from east over the mountains I’d wager.”

“That I would not know,” Belle said with a swirl of her skirt as she turned from his table. Next she stopped at the table with the Gondorian. She served cleared the empty platters from the table onto her tray asking him when she noticed his tankard was empty if he cared for another. “Most certainly I would. My companion has gone to fetch us both one, but she hasn’t returned yet.” He said with a leisurely wave toward the bar. “Would you see if she has ordered yet and bring me mine? Then perhaps you could sit with me a moment…I have a feeling my talk bores her,” He added with a friendly smile.

“I’ll do that sir,” Belle answered brightly, but gave a small shrug as she bent over the tray. “But the talk will have to wait until I’ve finished clearing away the rest of the plates.” Mr. Tanniken did not mind if she sat with one of the customers for a few minutes, as long as she didn’t neglect work. Picking up the half-loaded tray, Belle balanced it atop a hip as she cleared a few more tables on the way over to the bar. When she reached a spot near the woman, Belle noticed that she was of the Eldar race. She made a note have to hurry back to the kitchen and tell Edytha that when she left for her room to go through the common room instead of taking the back stairway. That way the older woman might get a chance to see not one elf but two.

“Pardon me,” she said quietly to Jaeniver, who was half turned away from where Belle stood. The elf frowned slightly, and nodded slightly in acknowledgement she had heard, but didn’t take her gaze from Nin. “Your companion wishes me to bring over his ale.” Placing one edge of the tray on the bar, Belle arranged the dirty platters with her free hand to make way for one of the mugs Tannikin was just setting down near the woman’s elbow. “If he wishes,” Jaeniver replied with a reserved shrug, glad to be spared for a few more moments of peace before obligation forced her to return to her companion. Then she noticed it was Belle who was speaking to her, not the other serving woman. “Excuse me a moment, but can you tell me about the woman who played the flute earlier,” she asked turning around to face Belle.

“Her name is Nin, that’s about all I know. She just arrived here today and has bargained with Mr. Tannikin for food and a place to stay for a few days in exchange for the entertainment she provides.”

“Thank you,” Jaeniver said, looking down thoughtfully at the fresh tankard in front of her. Nin.
“You’re welcome. She’s quiet and doesn’t talk much…but the music…” Belle stopped, it was apparent the woman wasn’t listening to her anymore. She shrugged and picked up the tray.

She stopped for but a moment to deliver the ale to the Gondorian, telling him she would be back after bringing the loaded tray to the kitchen, then hurried off hoping that Edytha hadn’t left yet. As she turned around to push open the kitchen door with her back, she saw the man who’d been splitting firewood for the past week or so enter the common room. She’d seen him around before at different times and was surprised a little to see him at such a late hour, for he normally kept to pretty much to himself. Perhaps the music had drawn him in, as it had others? She smiled when he looked her way before turning around and disappearing into the kitchen.

~
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Postby Jaeniver » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:36 am

Without too much effort Jaeniver had managed to get to the bar and ordered her Gondorian companion an ale and herself some sweet honey mead. Those near the bar readily made room for her when they caught sight of the tips of her ears pointing through the dark strands of her nearly untied braid. With fewer elves, she suddenly realised, her kind was becoming a rarity. Maybe that is why they treated her with respect now. Because she was one of the last of a near extinct race.

Her heart seemed to quiver to this note of sorrow when she caught the eye of the elf a few paces away, who inclined his head slightly in her direction. As she returned his greeting she managed a slight smile. “Mae Govannen. The sight of fellow kinsman truly lifts my spirits.” Leaving her drinks she gratefully took the vacant seat at his table. “Well met. I was surprised to see you in the crowd. A pleasant surprise I must add. Have you come from far?” The soft tone in which he uttered the words in elvish made her smile. He did not need to explain. Never had she been more aware how few conversations around her were spoken in their tongue. “Not far at all. If my companion had not been so persuasive I would have ridden home tonight and I would feast my eyes upon Rivendel as we speak. It’s a shame he prefers to spend his evening here for there is now place more soothing to me than Imladris.”

He was about to utter a reply when suddenly the gentle notes of a flute drifted through the inn. Both elves turned their heads to one of the walls where a woman had took up her instrument. Jaeniver’s eyes were transfixed on the woman. That face, that flute, those songs! Joyous songs from the Riddermark danced through the inn and many a customer clapped in encouragement. Even the elf beside her sat listening with a smile curling his lips. “Well, it isn’t Imladris but you must admit the evening entertainment is far from poor.” Jaeniver managed only a nod and muttered “You’re quite right, not poor at all.”

She could be mistaken of course. If the woman she thought she was seeing performing here she would have to be out of her mind. ‘She would be mad to return here.’ But before she had time to utter anything more the melody had changed from cheerful to soulful. But the song no longer filled her mind. It were memories of a time long ago that whirled like a storm crashing down the doors of the past that she thought had long been closed.

“Pardon me.” A soft voice came from behind. Barely able to tear herself from her thoughts Jaeniver turned to face the lovely looking bar maid who had been sent by her travelling companion. Of course, he wanted to know what took her so long to get his drink. The girl was about to turn and head back to the gondorian with his drink when she got an idea. “Excuse me a moment, but can you tell me about the woman who played the flute earlier,”

The answer that was given drowned out the rest of the words. So she was here. The question that remained unanswered was why.
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