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Castles in the Sand (Free RP Thread)

Have you ever explored the Dark Lands? Has your character ever visited the famed vineyards of Dorwinion? Travelled to the southern lands of Near and Far Harad, Khand, or Rhûn? Climbed the Orocarni Mountains in the far east? Passed through the Grey Mountains, or the Emyn Muil? Visited the Ice Bay of Forochel? Have they sailed past, or landed on Tolfalas, Himling, or Tol Fuin?This is a free RP thread for places and time periods that do not exist elsewhere on the Plaza. You may RP in any age, in any location.

Rules:- All general Plaza rules apply.- Please include your location, and the year, at the top of your post- Please mark your RPGs with All is Welcomeor Private, according to your choice- The GM may sometimes post prompts, which you are free to follow or ignore.- Please white out OOC notes at the bottom of your post, like so: @Alma(this is an OOC comment)- Have fun!

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You can also use this map for the Second Age, and this is a fuller map of Numenor.
  1. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Why won't this Nightmare End?

    Under different circumstances, in a normal area like a park or a living room, Eärcúlinta would've happily agreed to the 'alliance'; freely conspiring against both parents to create a charade for the ages.

    This was not normal circumstances. A crazy cross-dressing elf, sitting on his bed, mocking his mother, throwing out his crutch, wanting to 'pet his turtle', in his bedroom of all places? With one leg disabled, he could not do anything about it utter than shout ignored protestations. A spike of pain ran through his injured leg as she "patted" her injured foot. Eärcúlinta gritted his teeth, not sure whether it was due to the verbal sarcastic haughty barrage or the raw tendrils of pain he still experienced from his leg.

    Fëapoldië represented the word 'unbearable'. From the way she intruded upon his privacy, to callously undermine and demean his mother and himself, it seemed she thought him as no more than a pet rock. To even think that he was the type of elf to wantonly fall in love with any shapely face and glossy hair showed her complete and utter delusion. Without her wealth, what person in their right mind would court such a selfish personality? Fëapoldië's mention of her lover went over the raven-headed elf's head, as Eärcúlinta focused more on glaring a hole through her skull; even as she gyrated in his room and bed.

    Something completely unexpected happened. Utter shock prevented him to dodge, as his cheeks suddenly reddened and warmed as Fëapoldië suddenly moved closer.

    She cupped his face.... touched him like he was her... her toy!

    "Y-you!" he squeaked in shock. Whie the red-haired brat explained her plan, a rising torrent of thoughts bombarded his head. Like a kettle underneath an open flame, Eärcúlinta felt his face grow hotter and hotter. His hands clenched into fists, as he could feel his anger rising like a torrent of boiling water.

    Once she released her grasp and bounced on his bed, Eärcúlinta instinctively unclenched his right hand, forming a tight open hand. Just as she was about to collide onto the bed, he threw his right hand as quickly as across as he could, attempting to slap the taste out of Fëapoldië's mouth.

    Whether or not he hit, Eärcúlinta would then shout, "don't you dare touch me! I'll do whatever is necessary to get you out of my bed and out of my life!"

  2. The Last Chapter

    A Note to the Constant Reader:

    This is truly the end of Flight to Rivendell; Calselda's journey will
    conclude in the upcoming and long-awaited Revenge of Rhudaur RPG.
    The next post I'll write here will be for The Bite of Winter so
    Veowyn, Moriel, and I can begin the quest to save Beren's life
    before the Hill Watch/Pirate RPG starts in the Bree area.

    If you're wondering about the Dunlending battle at Rivendell
    mentioned by Mara the Seer, please keep in mind that it was a
    Host of Imladris RPG nine years ago.
    I decided to tie that story to the Coven's history
    and the Revenge of Rhudaur RPG.
    You can read of the witches' old plan HERE and the links to the Imladris army RPs.
    I aim to continue the Invisible Hands private RP of mine, greatly expanding
    Aura Camlost's role as one of the principal archenemies of Eriador, in the months to come.

    Some of the Dwarves listed below I ran out of time to use
    so they will appear prominently in Revenge of Rhudaur.
    What Ellindale and her companions will discover in the Trollshaws
    related to the Prophecy of the Emerald Queen
    will be covered at the end of Revenge of Rhudaur.

    This private RP is set
    before and during the events of
    Revenge of Rhudaur RPG

    - Source Image: Janet Montgomery -

    "The name Calselda's father gave
    her was
    íra, which means Lionsong in the
    the High Speech of the Noldor."
    ~ Aimira Mordagnir - a sage of Oiolossë

    and the mother of
    Tavari, Arasoron, and Aigronding, c. Fourth Age 3194,
    from The House of Itanoeva: A Family History

    "Seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them. /
    The Eldar.... Some fell into pride, and self-will."
    ~ Tolkien, from Morgoth's Ring: The Later Quenta Silmarillion/Notes

    Themes (Roar)
    HERE , (Radioactive) HERE,
    and (Once Upon a Dream) HERE

    - (Source: Elle Fanning,
    HERE) -

    Dramatis Personae

    Calselda Dimrel / Raulira Mordagnir ~ An elf-girl, Aigronding's illegitimate daughter. Elmarya's best friend.

    Elmarya Ancalënóna ~ An elf-girl. Telkelion's daughter, Calselda's best friend.

    Anne Crown, called Melimakris ("Faircleaver," Sindarin) ~ A mortal Elf-friend and Nathan's wife.
    A bookseller and Hill Watcher. Accompanying the elven girls to Imladris.

    Nathan Crown ~ A mortal. Anne's husband. A ranch foreman and Hill Watcher. Accompanying the elven girls to Imladris.

    Matt Rogers ~ A Hobbit Bounder of Michel Delving and retired globetrotter.
    Friend of Aigronding and Telkelion. Accompanying the elven girls to Imladris.

    Tourmaline Haylock ~ Matt's cousin, A Hobbit Bounder.
    Accompanying the elven girls to Imladris.

    Gilnir, called The Oarman once upon a time in Noonvale - An elven frontiersman.
    Rilya's husband. Fostered Calselda for Roina.

    Rilya ~ An elf-woman, a healer.
    Gilnir's wife and Edan's daughter. Fostered Calselda for Roina.

    Gilnir ~ An Elf woodsman, Rilya's husband. Fostered Calselda for Roina.

    Edan Amrun ~ A High Elf. Rilya's father. A close friend of Roina and Aigronding.

    Annamiri - A Tar-Turwen healer of Adab Nestad. Aewruca's instructor.

    Lhaindir - An Elf-boy, Edan's apprentice.

    Aewrusca - An Elf-girl, a healer and Annamiri's apprentice.

    Aigronding Mordagnir ~ A High Elf nobleman counted among the
    Wise and the Tar-Taidron of the Halcyon Guard.
    Roina's lover and Calselda's father.

    Roina Nilthoron ~ A High Elf lady and construction magnate for Rivendell
    and the Halcyon Guard, counted among the Wise.
    Aigronding's lover and Calselda's mother.

    Telkelion Hender ~ The Arhesto of the Lindon Guard
    and the chief physician of Círdan's court. Elmarya's father. Searching for his daughter.

    ~ The wife of Telkelion and the mother of Elmarya, translating a curious document in Harlindon.

    Girion Coruben ~ An elven jack-of-all-trades. Accompanying Telkelion in pursuit of Elmarya.

    Aileen Camlost ~ A young Morgul sorceress.
    Beren's eldest daughter and the Princess of Rhudaur.

    Silvanas Olcha ~ A Fallohide Hobbit carpenter. Almandine's husband.

    Almandine Olcha ~ A Fallohide Hobbit seamstress. Silvanas' wife.

    Sphene Olcha ~ A Fallohide Hobbit healer. The daughter of Silvanas and Almandine.

    Ennis ~ A wealthy Stoor riverboat merchant.

    Voldar Goldenheart ~ A Firebeard Dwarf of Harlindon, a forger of weapons
    who sells his arms to Elves and Rangers.
    Gretchen's husband. Tanla's father.

    Gretchen Doveheart ~ A Firebeard Dwarf lass of Harlindon, a shoemaker.
    Voldar's wife and Tanla's mother.

    Waylon Ironheart ~ Voldar's brother, a dwarven
    blacksmith of Harlindon. Edith's husband.

    Edith Drakesoul ~ A surly, adventurous Blacklock Dwarf-lass from the Orocarni Mountains.
    Waylon's wife. The forger of Melimakris, the scimitar of Anne Crown.

    Tallis Owlfriend
    - A young dwarven sage of the Harlindon Mountains. The son of Edith and Waylon.

    Mara - A mysterious seer.

    Chapter Six: Moments of Revelation

    - Source Image: Elle Fanning -


    "Please don't run!" pleaded the stranger, desperately calling out to Anne and Nathan. She had this kind of musical, richly accented voice unheard in the Bree-land. Anne reluctantly gave pause and tenderly held her husband's hand, bringing him to a sudden halt as well. "You follow my lead, right?" she whispered smilingly, noticing his dubious look. When he nodded at her, they allowed the foreigner to approach closer.

    "I am Mara, a seer of Dunland," she introduced herself.

    "Dunland?" Anne asked, widening her vibrant blue eyes. "Varda's stars, I'm surprised you haven't tried to murder us by now."

    The woman tensed up, anger lighting her narrowing green eyes, but she relaxed moments later. "There's some good in this world," she said quietly but forcefully, "and I plan to ruin those who deny peace."

    "Fair enough," said Anne, feeling her cheeks warming, embarrassed by her unjust presumption. "Might I ask why you are clothed so elegantly though? The Dunlendings are not a civilized people. I hope you don't mind me saying so."

    "My father was a Ranger of the North who married a tribal woman named Baraschain
    . When her society fell into evil he brought me to Lossarnach, a fiefdom of Gondor, and I was fostered there among his southern kin. It's from there I've come to warn Lord Elrond and the Dunedain of an attack I've foreseen."

    Anne said nothing. She studied Mara intently as she would some shred of evidence beneath the magnifying glass Amelia Sugarplum had given the Hillwatch inspector for casework. "Are you telling us you've come north to find help against some kind of attack the Dunlendings are planning?"

    Mara took a deep breath and expelled it heavily. "Not only the Dunlendings, I'm afraid. They have very powerful friends now..."


    "What are these?" Calselda Mordagnir asked as she studied a couple tubular, honey-gold vegetables. Matt Rogers and his cousin, Tourmaline Haylock, bought them at the Ye Olde Market market on Bree-hill to eat at camp.

    "Taters!" he exclaimed, still assembling his ingredients for supper. The party already had dinner but the hobbits insisted they stop again for the last meal of the day. Weirdly, the terms dinner and supper were not synonymous for halflings of the Shire and Bree. "Po-tay-toes. You boil them -"

    "Mash them," added Toumaline around a mouthful of carrot.

    "And stick them in a stew like Matt's making," Elmarya put in, slowly roasting Silverbell marshmallows from Bree-town.

    "Are they better than asparagus?" wondered Calselda. She licked her lips, recalling the delightful taste of the bacon-wrapped vegetables Nathan lightly sauteed in butter and flavored with lemon zest the night before they left Archet.

    "Absoutely not," Elmarya answered decidedly.

    "It's debatable," Tourmaline challenged just as sharply, tossing back her yellow hair.

    "Hey, we've got company." Matt pointed out the tall, elegant woman who was walking to the fog-enshrouded camp with Anne and Nathan. "I hope there's enough food left," Matt commented, looking around frantically. "Hey, where's the watermelon?"

    "You ate it all for second breakfast, jeez," Tourmaline sulked and thrust out her bottom lip petulantly.

    "Well, you helped," snapped Matt. "I didn't enjoy it myself...though I'm sure I could have."

    "If y'all keep eating like this we're going to starve before we even get to Rivendell,"
    Nathan remarked with an amused shake of his head. He introduced both the Hobbits and Elf-girls to Mara of Dunland, a queenly woman he and his wife invited to camp.

    "You are graced with such immaculate beauty! I would have mistaken you for an Elf-maiden were it not for your ears which are not pointed as mine,"
    Calselda complimented the prophet. When Mara touched her hand softly in a familar way, Calselda searched her memory with an intense deliberation hoping to find some recollection of meeting her but, alas, the Elf-girl could find no remembrance of the refined lady. She, Rilya, and Gilnir had so few visitors in the Hills of Twilight. She glanced at her sentient wolfhound, Polodren, but he was staring at Mara just as curiously as his mistress. "Anne and Nathan tell us you're travelling to Rivendell. We'd be honored if you join our party. Elmarya wishes to serve with the guards of the valley and I wish most ardently to see my father for the first time. The Hobbits and the Crowns are protecting us on our journey. What business do you have in Imladris, if you do not mind me asking, Mara?"

    Her warm smile transformed silkily into a cold frown. "I must warn Elrond Half-Elven and Arwen Evenstar of a battle waged on their borders soon. Dunlendings, savages of the southern wilds, are mounting their second siege of Imladris. They assaulted the valley years ago but the Elves defeated the barbarians. Now they're emboldened to try again, supported by mages of Rhudaur." She calmly paused when Elmarya let out a gasp of fear. Even Nathan seemed distrubed, chugging a fermented cider made of Archet blue apples. Most Bree-landers were wary of unusual folk like Rangers of the North and ancient tales of Cardolan's war with the witchcraft of Rhudaur still frightened villagers of the modern era. "Many witches of bygone days fled the Angle and hid amongst their kin in Dunland," continued Mara . "Some remain living - gifted with long life like many servants of Mordor such as the Mouth of Sauron. Many descendants have inherited Morgul power and have grown strong in the ways of sorcery; many skills have been taught to some of the Dunlendings themselves in exchange for safety amongst the tribes. The Coven isn't as threatening as it was when it last engaged the Weather Hills and Rivendell but the arcane practitioners are still a deadly menace to be feared. That's why it's imperative I must speak with Elrond, his daughter, and their ruling circle."

    "I am told my father is a great warrior," Calselda spoke reverently of Aigronding. "Is he a witchslayer?" Anne had told her about mages, fell mortals who were given or inherited fearsome unholy power from demons. They mastered the dark knowledge for their own wicked designs for Sauron's greater glory.

    "Aigronding killed dozens a long time ago." Anne stroked one of her brown curls thoughtfully. "I suppose their suviving leader is still alive and wants revenge for Rhudaur. Whoever commands the sorcerers might have aimed to murder your father by sending the Dunlendings years ago but that plan was foiled. Perhaps now is a better time for barbarian and witch alike..."

    "I will defend him," Calselda said resolutely, her blue eyes twinkling like Nielluin's sapphire gleam.

    "You're just a kid,"
    Nathan disagreed, furrowing his brow.

    "She's fought before," shot Elmarya.

    "We'll discuss this matter later on," said Anne curtly.

    "She ain't gonna change her mind,"
    Matt chuckled with a toothpick between his lips, lounging on his bedroll with arms crossed behind his head. "The lass has that ole Mordagnir pomposity!" he declared with such forthright conviction even Elmarya and Tourmaline giggled.

    "Of course however," Anne replied through pealing golden laughter, "she isn't going to war without her parents' approval. Anyways. We need sleep. At first light we'll ride to The Forsaken Inn. Some Rangers or Halcyon Guards would be happy to serve as an armed escort for our trek towards Rivendell. This road is beset with danger and we'll edge near a troll-infested forest on our way. I haven't been this far from the Bree-land in a while but I know from experience that the more help we have out here in the Lone Lands, the better chance we've got staying alive."

    As they rested, Nathan gave his wife a loving smile, softly brushing aside an errant wisp of hair off her forehead. "You've got a hunch, babe." It was a statement, not a question. She kissed his hand. "I do, love. Mara has given us a pretty convincing explanation but something's off about her."

    "Can we trust this seer?"

    "Yes, we can. I have this sixth sense about folks, you know, but I don't think she plans to hurt us."
    She wriggled closer and rolled onto her back with small, joyful noises as her husband snaked his arm around her slim waist. "Funny...I've got this weird feeling that..."

    "You've known her for a while?"

    "No, more like...I'll know her for a long time to come."



    - Image Source: Nick Zano -

    "But the folk of Maeglin were drawn up in the same place,

    and sable was their harness, and they bore no sign or emblem,
    but their round caps of steel were covered with moleskin,
    and they fought with axes two-headed like mattocks. There Maeglin
    prince of Gondolin gathered many arriors of dark countenance and
    lowering gaze about him, and a ruddy glow shone upon their faces and
    gleamed about the polished surfaces of their accoutrement."
    - Tolkien, from The Book of Lost Tales II: The Fall of Gondolin
    "I don't know if the Road has ever been measured in miles
    beyond the Forsaken Inn, a day's journey east of Bree."
    - Strider, The Fellowship of the Ring: A Knife in the Dark

    "The Mole was a rough Noldorin Elf with an aloof demeanor and acted more like the humans he associated with
    more than a man of the Firstborn but he was a family friend and had treated the little girl kindly;
    she had taken a quick liking to him. Hatholdir, his lord, was taking some time away from the mainland and didn't
    need his bodyguard on the island which few people of Middle-earth dared to assail. He had allowed Astaro abroad
    for a short while. Beren had found him at The Forsaken Inn on his way to Rivendell; Camlost was on his way
    to warn Aigronding about Aura. Astaro had risked his life to help him rescue his daughter."
    - from Castles in the Sky, my upcoming thread in The Cottage of Lost Play

    Astaro was so captivated by the mysterious woman's regal bearing, he remained silent even

    for moments after she emotionally met his stare. "Are you lost, maiden?" he asked, holstering his
    weapons immediately. Somehow he had this distinctive feeling she was a harmless voyager.
    The Woman in Green stood rooted to the spot in the blood-stained room, slipping a large
    diamond key into a satchel as she looked at Astaro with a grief-stricken expression.
    - from How to Re-Civilize a Barbarian

    (Cassie, out of character): "Its an interesting question whether Astaro is just
    a nice guy advocating for justice for all free folk. Lol.

    Only he happens to work for someone who's actually
    done everything that people say he has lol."

    (Me, out of character): "Astaro is a nice bad boy who serves a sick,
    twisted rich person. He's like Han Solo working for Jabba the Hutt."

    "Kuruni: Witch, with a note: 'of the good magic.' "
    - Tolkien, from the Book of Lost Tales II: Appendix

    Astaro Torech handed Tindall two Bree-town silver coins for seeing to his horse. "Perhaps you could afford a month's supply of soap with that," wryly suggested the lone Mole. The elderly ostler often smelled like manure; whether or not this was due to his proximity to the beasts he cared for or if the reeking scent was his natural body odor, no one knew with any certainty.

    Tindall, usually a genial fellow, shook his fist at the Elf. "Gettin' real sick of your lot! Moles always got somethin' rude to say."

    "You should be thanking me," said Astaro with mock indignation. "I am helping, not insulting. There is no way you will catch the interest of rich, old Dale ladies passing through smelling like a donkey, sir."

    Tindall glared at him balefully but surprised the Mole when he suddenly made a wheezing laugh, slapping his knobby knees.

    Astaro, grinning, patted him on the back and crossed the short distance to the creaking floorboards of the inn's front porch. Backlit by the warm glow of the sunbeams streaming through the inn's glassless windows, Astaro sauntered toward the bar. Alerted by the musical jangle of the Elf's silver spurs, Amdir paused from working on his liquor display. He groaned deeply when he saw Hatholdir's bodyguard approaching the great oaken counter.

    "Can you ever say hello when you see me?"
    Astaro snapped at him moodily.

    "Can't you ever behave yourself here?"
    Amdir shot back, twisting his meaty hands around his dingy apron in annoyance.

    "I just walked in, not nearly enough time to cause a commotion. I'm afraid Hatholdir or Erfaron excell at that sort of thing instead. Me?"
    He shrugged his broad shoulders nonchalantly. "I like to make a ruckus at my leisure and I usually abstain from violence until after I eat my breakfast." Astaro chuckled after he said that; sometimes he amused even himself. People had asked him before Do you ever hear yourself talk? Of course he did and Astaro found himself quite entertaining. "I will be nice to you if you be nice to me. Let's practice." Astaro cheerfully smiled. "Hi, I hope you're day is going well!"

    "I think it just got worse,"
    Amdir gloomily responded, staring dismally at at the shelved bottles of ale, no doubt wishing he could have a drink.

    Astaro sneered at him. "You are not cooperating."

    "I always have a problem with Moles. You're a surly bunch. I won't forget what Erfaron did to that poor Dwarf."

    "Well, at least he had a bath; the little fellow might have waited until it rained otherwise,"
    predicted Astaro dryly.

    "The whole place got wet!"

    "Why do you have a problem with Erfaron whenever he makes a mess? You do that plenty often yourself."
    Astaro pointed at the holes in the inn's ceiling which was no good for business during spring showers.

    "What do you want to eat?" Amdir, seething, said through his clenched teeth. It hadn't been ten minutes but he was already fed up with the sarcastic fast-talking Elf.

    "Ah, ordering a meal, I was wondering if we'd ever get there,"
    Astaro commented with a sardonic air. "Chicken pot pie and a basket of fruit - fresh, mind you, none of those wormy apples you gave me the last time. A bottle of Skylord Cider, too; I hear it tastes like cotton candy."

    "We don't have anymore. Limited Supply, I'm afraid. First come, first served."

    Astaro pointed a finger at him with a menacing countenance. "I know you're hiding the Good Stuff somewhere. Don't make me get up and find it again."

    Amdir slammed down a bottle of the blue cider moments later and walked into the kitchen, grumbling. He reluctantly left the smirking Elf alone at the bar, fearing what he'd do to guests undersupervised. Most of the scars on his stern face were garnered by intervening in disputes Hatholdir, Erfaron, and Astaro had either viciously started or boldly finished.

    Astaro fanned himself with his black cowboy hat, cooling the summer heat from his tanned skin. While he waited for his food, he asked several customers if they had seen a beautiful elven woman travelling the Road. "Her eyes are as blue as summer skies," Astaro huskily mentioned with poetic flare, alluding to Veowyn Girarion, the lost love of his life, who seemed to be as elusive as Luthien Tinuviel. He frowned with a melancholy nod of his head, when they told him no. Perhaps I'll find her someday, he confidently assured himself with silent thought. Astaro could have told some of his closest friends of the young wild Elf-girl from Mirkwood he met briefly centuries ago. He could have spoke of his endless quest to discover her whereabouts, too, but he assumed they would call him a romantic fool so he asked journeying strangers instead.

    "You're a hard man to find, Torech."

    Astaro, sipping the contents of his tart drink, turned to face an unshaven mortal who had a dusky complexion. He leaned against the bar, a big hand resting on the pommel of his longsword.

    "I go where I please whenever I can,"
    said Astaro amiably with a glacial stare, "and have only one man to answer to."

    "Makes it hard for folks like me to track ya."

    Astaro tensed up though he remained seated very still like an indolent lion of the Rhunish savannahs. "Bounty hunter? I expect I may have broken some laws someplace down the Greenway," Astaro admitted casually, spreading his hands with an indifferent manner.

    Scruffy said nothing but his dark irises glinted with malice.

    Astaro sighed dramatically. "Look..." He got up and folded his muscled arms. "Is this about the boy in the South Downs?" The teenage human had been one of the Molehunters who pursued Hatholdir's subjects. Usually they were Elves but sometimes they hired sellswords to stalk Moles. Astaro had to protect himself, his king, and their friends.

    Scruffy's hand shook around the hilt of his weapon.

    "Ah. Related?"

    "His uncle."

    "Well. I'd like to give you an apology, sir,"
    said the Mole gravely. He took a long pull of his drink but he didn't let go of the bottle. He felt enraged. Astaro was sick of this nonesense, shielding himself and loved ones from the butchery of unforgiving people who couldn't get over something that happened eons before he was even born. "I'm sorry I had to defend myself against an unwarranted assault. I'm sorry that your nephew was brainwashed and was dumb enough to set aflame the camp I shared with some Hillmen you even call neighbors." His impassioned voice gained more strength as he inched forward until he stood a hand's breadth away from the vengeful Molehunter. "I'm sorry I tracked him down like a fox and scourged him as slowly as I did before I hanged the lad from a juniper tree." Astaro made a thin smile, brown eyes glinting brightly. "I hope this admission is sufficient. It's the thought that counts, you know."

    Scruffy started tugging the blade out of its scabbard but went down quick when Astaro harshly clubbed his jaw with the bottle. Several pubgoers - Hillmen, no doubt Molehunter pals Scruffy brought to the fight - stormed from their seats, hollering obscenities.

    Ignorning Amdir's strident protests as the innkeeper emerged from the kitchen with Astaro's meal, the Elf slid across the barcounter with elvish grace and a lopsided grin. Holding onto his beloved high-crowned felt hat, allowing the momentum of his slide to carry him over, he narrowly avoided a flurry of crossbow bolts. "You will never take me alive!" Astaro shouted pugnaciously, restraining a gale of laughter. It was a recurring cheesy line spoken by slick outlaws and charming antiheroes in penny dreadfuls which Miranda Lynn Clementine wrote. Snickering, he turned sideways to thwack Erfaron or Hatholdir on the arm comradely but alas neither of his fellow Moles were with him of course.

    Astaro removed the long daggers Sangwen poisoned from the silver velvet lining of his black dustercoat. He scrambled frantically toward the wall and flattened his back against it. Beads of sweat rolled down his spine and cheeks. A Mole travelling alone was dangerous. He was good at defending himself, of course, but Astaro knew he wasn't invincible and that without Hatholdir, Erfaron, and Hrango to back him up there was a risk he could be laid low....but today was not that day.

    Astaro blinked hearing the yells of triumph dissolving quickly into gurgling cries of pain. He wondered who was bailing him out of trouble this time. Hrango and Hatholdir would have left messages for him in Bree if they decided to have gone prospecting again on the mainland. Erfaron had remarked in his last letter he was serving the Halcyon Guard in the Angle which was days from here; there was a possiblity though his assignments had brought him far from the dreary forests and castled hills of that land.

    Astaro cautiously peeked over the bar...and jolted, mouth agape. Beren Camlost and his younger sister Bridgit moved fluidly in the sunshine, slashing down the Molehunters with vicious stabs and brutal sweeps of their bear-like claws. Tharmaras Isilherven - the father of Aigronding's daughter-in-law - and his son, Garavan who was Bridgit's husband, gallantly entered the fray along side Khallador Galerida, a Ranger and distant cousin of the Camlosts.

    "Yep, I think we're done here,"
    Bridgit surmised blithely with a giggle. Her fearsome claws and silken patches of tawny fur vanished, as she looked at the mangled pieces of Molehunters strewn across the bloodied floor.

    "Not quite, I believe we came here for some food,"
    Garavan disagreed, already moving toward the flabbergasted innkeeper with a merry smile. "Roasted pheasant, please, and tomato basil soup if you have it," requested the affable Elf in Breelander clothes. The yellow-haired gentleman handed Amdir a labradorite gemstone which beautifully flashed with iridescent color.

    "Peachy bread pudding with caramel sauce as usual,"
    said soft-spoken Khallador, doffing his cockel hat. "It's the only reason I come here, you know."

    "I must say I favor Emory's garlic herbed potatoes best,"
    Tharmaras remarked. Lindon's most devastatingly handsome Elf-lord took a seat at a rickety wooden table. He started polishing his sickle-shaped sword, a falcata of sad ancient history, which was slicked redly with Molehunter blood. He muttered to himself, confidently assuming Erfaron would thank him for something finally. "Ah, you sell cookies now, I see," Tharmaras observed, looking at the menu. "Are those arranged in decorative packaging?"

    Astaro choked back his laughter although Bridgit delightfully released hers. Tharmaras was out of his element here in the wild, always the center of hilarity in the frontier. "This is The Forsaken Inn, mellon," he said with a rueful shake of his head, "not the five-star inn of Cardhon Oaritsi!"

    "What's wrong with you people!"
    bellowed Amdir, waving at his fearful janitorial staff to clean up the mess and dispose of the corpses. "Y'all just strut in here-"

    "I do not strut,"
    Garavan protested.

    "You don't, sweetheart, but I do,"
    said Bridgit, her gleaming red lips curving into a wide brilliant smile.

    "- and kill people then sit down to eat like nothing happened!"
    Amdir continued to harangue them.

    "Really, you should be used to this sort of thing by now,"
    Bridgit said, twirling one of her honey-blonde curls around a finger as she studied the menu taken from Tharmaras without asking. She ignored his displeased expression with the slightest hint of an impish grin; seriously, the woman knew she was bad and she loved it. "If you're not, well, we are. For us, it's a Tuesday, no biggie."

    "It's not your place!" grumbled Amdir.

    "I'm grateful you arrived,"
    said Astaro, "though I probably could have handled this single-handedly."

    Bridgit rolled her blue eyes, snorting laughter
    . "Why do we have to keep saving your arse, Torech?" she asked in a dull monotone, crossing her legs as she turned to face him moodily.

    "Because I can't keep my mouth shut?" answered Astaro sunnily, flashing a roguish grin which melted every woman's heart except her own.

    "I hate Moles,"
    stated Amdir clearly although his voice had dropped an octave, walking back to the kitchen, but he smiled wanly at Beren who offered him several gold marks of the Bree-land.

    "Sorry for the mess, mate," he said with a chipper tone despite the sadness in his green eyes. He was unshaven and seemed melancholy, not his usual joyful self. "That's for the cleaning, the burying, the food, and the pleasure of doing business with ya gain, hoss. Oh...." He gave him another handful of the glittering coins. "Do something about that roof. C'mon, man-" he slapped Amdir on his back, winking "- fix this place up. What do you do with all the money ya get?"

    "Whenever I patch up the inn, y'all tear it down!"
    Amdir shot back, stuffing his trouser pockets with the coins and entered the kitchen once he angrily shoved the door open.

    "I'm surprised you are so generous with funds, Bear,"
    said Astaro, sitting on the reverse side of a chair at the table Tharmaras had chosen which the others had flocked to. "When this Elf-lord finally bankrupts himself with his expensive cleansing supplies and fragrant products, he will beg you for money."

    "Oh, stop,"
    Tharmaras laughed good-naturedly.

    Bridgit joined the fun and mocked her father-in-law's mellow voice obnoxiously, whirling her arms with desperate motions. "Beren, I have emptied Seagrove's coffers and I cannot pay my property tax! I have no place to live!"

    "Stop," Tharmaras insisted amiably although his blue eyes were glowing coldly now.

    "I bought too much Gondorian cologne,"
    Beren half-heartedly joked, "and there was that mithril amethyst necklace for Nariel..."

    Tharmaras tightened his jaw, blushing, as everyone belted out laughter so loud Nariel herself might have heard it in Lindon. "Enough. Seriously."

    Astaro, relentless, kept going. "Travelling around Middle-earth with a clawfoot tub in a covered wagon the size of an oliphaunt. Maeglin's steel gate! You're definitely her match, gwador. She's the only other friend I know who tramps about with a fancy sink."

    "She's probably just courting him to use his wagon so she doesn't have to make Erfaron or Aranadhel drag her luggage to Hildorien and back again,"
    mused Khallador, chortling around the stem of the long pipe he lighted.

    "Long journeys into perilous realms is no excuse for bad hygiene,"
    Tharmaras said acidly with a gimlet stare. "Admit it, Bridgie, you are thankful I was well stocked with soap and bottled water during this trip. You've been moderately washed and smelling like flowers instead of sweat and your own filth, much to your comfort...and ours."

    "If she's not thankful, I am, Ada," said Garavan, holding his father's shoulder anxiously, unnoticing his wife's displeasure for Tharmaras' caustic lecture.

    drawled Tharmaras, looking arrogantly victorioius, "how about a change of conversation? What are you doing out here, Astaro?"

    "I could ask you all the same thing."

    "You first,"
    Beren implored. "our story is longer."

    "And more exciting,"
    Khallador mumbled and blew smoke-rings through the air.

    "Wait a second," Astaro said, snatching his new drink out of a server's hand as their meals were brought from the kitchen. "What do you mean more exciting? I have led a storied existence!"

    "Don't flatter yourself," Bridgit replied in monotone, helping herself to a drumstick of Garavan's roast pheasant. "You serve a megalomaniac who's more obsessed with looking good than doing good and let's you off his leash whenever he doesn't need to go anywhere to watch his back. Boring, sorry." She smiled condescendingly at him. "That's why you're here, right? Because Hatholdir is safe on the island?"

    Astaro said nothing, just like a Mole. He wasn't only rankled by Beren's outspoken sister but didn't want to speak of Sangwen, his elven lover. She was a slave on Tol Noldare for whom he made occasional forays into dangerous corners of Eriador in search of poisonous flowers. Her true name was Edlothia however Hatholdir changed it to haughtily symbolize his ownership of her. Astaro couldn't remain on the island for too long too frequently or Hatholdir would discover his torrid assignations with his most prized poisoner and talented brewmistress. Astaro still yearned to reunite with Veowyn someday; until then, he enjoyed the soul-stirring passion shared with the blonde elleth with the startling blue eyes.

    There was a chance Astaro could have rescued the thralls Hatholdir purchased from the Umbarians, thus saving Edlothia from bondage, but it anguished him to forswear his allegiance and sully his friendship with Hatholdir. Hrango and Erfaron would probably find themselves embroiled in the civil war his trespass would engender with Lindon; they might be killed or would avenge Hatholdir by killing Astaro. So he said nothing...he had no choice. No one but Moles were permitted to visit or live on Tol Noldare; no one knew of the small population of slaves Hatholdir had based there and Astaro preferred to keep their existence a secret even from Erfaron. He was cool-tempered but the High Elf had more honor than the Mole King, that was for certain...there was no telling who he would tell if determined to bring an end to Hatholdir's slavery of Elves and Men.

    "Sooo about that long story," said Khallador and leaned back in his chair, nursing his beer, allowing someone else to debrief Astaro.

    "When I returned to Bree following the debacle at
    Angmar you may have heard about, Miranda told me she was pregnant," Beren explained. He didn't speak for half a minute, drinking Archet Acerglyn - a maple mead - from his lebethron tankard. Perhaps he was trying to get a grip on his emotions; Astaro didn't fail to notice how whitened his knuckles turned while Camlost firmly held the cup's handle. "I was finally ready to put down roots and would help raise our child. She wanted me to be sure that marriage wasn't just something I promised in the heat of the moment. So I came to Lindon, figuring I'd ask Tharmaras if he could take me to the Wethrin Isles so I can spend some time with Bridgit and Garavan; I hoped the solitude of Mel Lona could give me the peace of mind I needed to make this irrevocable decision, giving up adventuring for her."

    "And womanizing," Bridgit put in snarkily although she fondly smiled at him. Little sisters had to playfully rib their big brothers occasionally; she didn't get to see him often so she was, of course, trying to get in her digs as much as possible.

    "Anyways," Beren said through a fit of genuine laughter. "Tharmaras needed some time to think about his relationship with Nariel, too, so he staid with us for the autumn and winter."

    "I was also ashamed I couldn't tell her where I was going,"
    Tharmaras admitted with a brittle voice, miserably staring at his potatoes.
    Valion Mordagnir didn't want anyone on the mainland to know he lived on Mel Lona with his family, fearing Aigronding would leave Rivendell and forsake his heraldship.

    "So you two are ready to give the attention your women deserve?"
    assumed Astaro, accepting a slice of peachy bread from Khallador.

    "Well, yes, but..."
    Beren's words trailed off weakly. Knitting his brow, he glanced at Tharmaras who frowned rather gravely.

    Astaro washed his dessert down with the cider and grinned at Beren. "What's so embarrassing? I'm breathless with anticipation."

    "Not embarrassing...just unexpected. I met my daughter on Mel Lona."

    "You have a kid?
    I expect you have little ones in every town from Bree to Khand!"

    "She's a witch."

    Astaro barked out a laugh. "That doesn't surprise me either. So this child of yours is Kuruni?" Kuruni was a Sindarin name Elves had given good magic-users since the days of the Numenorean enchanters to signify their allegiance to the Free Peoples and not Sauron whom Morgul sorcerers of Rhudaur and Umbar served.

    "No, she is a Morgul adept but has my goodness,"
    told Beren clearly with a flinty gaze; it was obvious he cared for his daughter strongly. "although the lass, a young girl of eleven, inherited her
    mother's dark power which she has mastered potently. When I fought along side the rebels of the East, I fancied a freedom fighter and eventually married her. Tharmaras and Tarias discovered her ture name was Aura and that she was the Princess of Rhudaur, the Witchqueen of its Coven. She's descended from Cynwrig who was an evil lord of the Hillmen of Eriador. Not all of of his sorcerers perished centuries ago; plenty of them fled to Dunland where their kin lived. The Archmagus himself still lives and he commanded Aura to seduce me."

    "She fell for him instead,"
    said Tharmaras more to himself than anyone else, looking extremely puzzled. "Such a strange thing that someone so hateful could love so much."

    "When I realized her identity I broke it off with her, the whole thing. I forsook my vows. As you can imagine-"
    Beren huffed out a bitter laugh "- she didn't like that. Aura put me under a love spell and took me to Mordor once she had wounded Tharmaras and Tarias. One of the Blue Wizards, Pallando, who was one of our insurgent leaders came to my rescue in the Ash Mountains. He shattered the enchantment but I couldn't bring myself to hurt Aura since I still cared for her. The Istar nearly killed the witch but she magically fled from his wrath...and now I know why."

    "She feared for her unborn child's life," guessed Astaro correctly. "You didn't know she was pregnant."

    "I supposed she would have if given the opportunity. She was in such haste to reach Mordor and needed to protect herself from the wizard. It just never came up and I never knew where Aura had gone nor the place where the Coven had centered itself until recently."

    "So this girl of yours was searching for you?"

    "She and
    her mother were looking for a rebellious witch of the Coven in the Bree-land. It was there that my daughter felt my presence; although I was already gone some trace of my essence still lingered. Aileen extended her awareness of it toward Lindon and contacted me using a magical talent she calls astral projection. Aileen warned me of the Coven's meddling in the Angmar affair, its allegiance with the Umbarians, and their ties with the Dunlendings. Aileen doesn't know much of her mother's dealings with the Corsairs or Jadis but she is privy to Aura's plan to assault Rivendell with the savages, mages, and trolls." Beren gritted his teeth, his green irises flaming in anger. "Aileen tells me she's abused for not comforming to the Coven's ideals. Aura has forced our child against her will to attack the Rohirrim and the Rangers of the North. I have to save my daughter from her mother's monstrous evil."

    "That's why my wife, father, and I have come along with him,"
    said Garavan.

    "You are helping, too?" Astaro asked Khallador.

    "Yes. She's family and were it not for Aileen, Aura would have killed me at Annuminas. That's where I first met her a few days ago before Beren met me in Bree, coming from the islands."

    Astaro nodded his head quietly, trying to maintain his composure.
    He had met a mysterious woman named Aileen in the Trollshaws shortly before he met Veowyn many centuries ago. The Moleguard had this uncanny feeling they could be the same person. The thought bewildered him. The Aileen he knew had been an adult woman, not a child. I'm foolish Astaro mused silently. Aileen is a common name among mortals.

    "You're good in a fight, buddy,"
    said Beren, slapping Astaro on his back. "We could use you."

    "I would be honored to accompany you and your family," Astaro fervently replied, clasping Beren's forearm. "As you know, I promised your ancestor - Veren - that I would protect and serve his descendants if necessary. Hatholdir doesn't need me right now, my friend, but you do."

    "I hope we don't need you for too long," Garavan said worriedly, pushing fingertips over his tidy golden hair, "or Hatholdir might be upset." They all knew Hatholdir was a jealous king. If his chief servants like Astaro tarried far from home longer than anticipated, he usually considered it derelection of duty and dispatched searches to locate the offender. That was never a good thing...

    Astaro waved his hand dismissively with a smug grin. "Do not worry about me, Isilherven, I will clear the valley's borders of those fiends in a day or two," bragged the Elf, already fitting on his cowboy hat as he rose up. "Finish your meals. I will be outside." He sauntered onto the front porch...and seized the railing's edge to keep himself from falling.

    "Are we there yet?" griped Matt Rogers, falling asleep on his pony.

    "Matty, you know as well as I do we're a few yards away,"
    Anne Crown responded saucily to the saddlesore halfling. She steered her black thoroughbred stallion - Nightrunner - off the Road, leading the party on a dirt pathway toward the inn. "You might be the size of a ten-year-old but you're really a grown man. Quit whining. You'll get your bed soon enough, so hush!" The inn was just a day's ride from Bree but the Hobbits had been travelling all the way from the Shire nearly for the last few days, driven impetuously by the urgent demand of Calselda and Elmarya.

    "Look, Astaro and Beren are here," said Telkelion's daughter, pointing out the Elf and Man standing on the porch of The Forsaken Inn. Astaro clenched the balustrade, eyebrows raised and mouth agape, staring wide-eyed at Mara.

    "Do you two know each other?" Nathan asked the seer. She gave an imperceptible nod, shutting her green eyes for a moment, saying nothing.

    "Fancy seeing y'all here same time as us,"
    Beren said with a small laugh, exchanging hugs with the Crowns and the Hobbits. The Isilhervens and Khallador had also emerged from the inn. The Ranger gave Mara a scrutinizing look, perhaps because she was so finely attired and since she was one of two strangers in the party of close friends.

    "We're escorting the girls to Rivendell,"
    Anne explained, gesturing toward the Elves. "Elmarya you know but her friend, Calselda Dimrell, is Aigronding's daughter...we think. If we're correct, she's a Mordagnir."

    Beren gawked at the tall elven blonde speechlessly for half a minute before rolling a palm over his raven hair, sighing heavily. "Man, I got to sit down for this one." He sat on an aged wooden bench but the old thing immediately broke under his arse. As Beren rubbed his injured backside, Calselda gave an account of her journey. Distracted by the astonishing arrival of Mordagnir's illegitmate daughter who no one knew existed, Astaro led Mara around the back of the inn.

    "You must be the woman I met in the Trollshaws once upon a time and a witch like I had thought." It was a statement, not a question. "Your memory has haunted my thoughts for too many seasons," he softly mentioned behind her, nervously fiddling with the brim of his hat. "I have often wondered when I might see you some way. If you need my help, just ask me and I will serve you well."

    The mage turned around to regard him solemnly. "You may act tough, Astaro Torech, but you are one of the sweetest men I have ever known," complimented the good witch, hugging him with an almost daughterly affection. "Did you find the blue-eyed Elf-girl like I told you?"

    "Yes but she left Rivendell shortly after we met," he said despondently. "I have searched for her but to no avail."

    "You will discover Veowyn's whereabouts soon, possibly,"
    she responded with a voice so quietly spoken the Elf had to ask her twice to repeat herself.

    Astaro pursed his lips, holding the witch's lissome arms. "I need answers from you badly -"

    She pressed her fingertips against his mouth, quickly preventing him from speaking her name. "Call me Mara."

    "The Sorrowful Woman of the Sea?"
    Astaro translated the Dunlendish word into the Common Speech.

    "It's important you do so,"
    she immediately explained, not bothering to divulge why she had picked such a pecuilar monicker for her travels, "or I will not be able to change the grim events of the next few days. It is imperative that I keep my identity a secret for a little while, please."

    "Very well,"
    Astaro reluctantly agreed but he insisted the witch tell him what she was up to. Mara, as he feared, only gave him the abridged version of her journey. "So you're going to Rivendell with my friends to stop the witches and their allies from besieging it?" Astaro said summarized.

    "That is correct. I have mastered a magical skill known as
    wenanmancy. I am able to foresee many possible futures at once." Mara shuddered. "If Aura Camlost, the Witch Queen and Beren's former wife, triumphs then Eriador will fall to the Enemy," she said, her voice as cool as Forochel ice. "We must not allow this to happen."

    "What must I do?" Astaro asked readily, sweeping his arms graciously wide.

    Mara laid hands on his chest, the emerald of her Elf-friend ring brilliantly catching the light of the risen sun. "You must work with a half-elf Ranger, Moriel, to protect a child at Ost-Carloth. The citadel is located in the high moor of Rivendell. Get the lass inside the fortress. She has a very special task."

    "Killing the Witch Queen,"
    uttered Astaro, leaning his brow against hers as he tried to console her with tender rubs of both hands.

    "I have concluded there is no other way to end this fight, that no one but her is powerful enough to contest Aura's tyrrany,"
    Mara whispered, weeping already. "A greater tragedy than Aileen's must be averted or this world will be mired in brutality which it has never experienced before." She grasped him more tightly. Her green eyes glistened with hot tears as she miserably gazed at Beren whose brawny arms were reassuringly looped over the shoulders of the Elven women as they walked toward their horses. "I have foreseen the worst future for too long. A little girl who will not destroy her evil mother, a heroic, loving father who would sacrifice his life to protect hers. The mother lived, the father died, and Middle-earth suffered. The devastated child, wracked by guilt, growing up in Lindon, the last bastion of freedom in Eriador. Always striving to guard Arda from its most dangerous threat which she chose not to crush in her youth but always failing, always ignoring the root of the great problem....but no more. The path is ciruclar and destructive, burning hope away over and over. I have decided how to avoid that awful misfortune and make things the way they ought to be, not just for the girl's sake but for every good soul's. I cannot do it alone though..."

    She uplifted her wet face, clutching the sides of his neck with a desperate look. She did not ask for his help directly but he sensed she wanted to so Astaro kissed her forehead, swearing a wordless vow of unflagging devotion. For the moment, he was no longer Hatholdir's soldier...he was hers. Mara felt a small measure of peace
    as he brushed aside errant wisps of ebony hair stirring about her somber hooded face in the summer breeze.



    "The Wood-elves...were very fond of wine."
    ~ Tolkien, The Hobbit: Barrels out of Bond

    The Silvan Elves were hardy and valiant...also
    they were independent...Silvan folk were rude and rustic...

    ~ Tolkien, from Unfinished Tales

    "Not far ahead were dreary hills, rising higher and higher,
    dark with trees. On some of them were old castles with an
    evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people."
    - Tolkien, from The Hobbit: Roast Mutton


    Taurina Ithildinloch
    ordered Robert Evinwing to give her his report of the night's watch.

    "Perimeter scouting suggests there's nothing volatile in the area," he replied, taking a seat on the red Crystalpool rattan chair across from Taurina's, "except for a drove of wild swine."

    "What in Angband is going on?" Taurina swore under her breath. She took an urgent sip of her Mirkwood Elderflower wine and massaged her temples, trying to mitigate the pain of her worsening headache. Ever since
    Emerald Heights she had scoured the Trollshaws with the Halcyon Guard, Rangers of the North, and some companies of the Lindonese forces on loan from Lord Cirdan. She yet to find the giants which definitely had entered the gloomy towered forest. "How can a group of giants evade notice?"

    "Perhaps by magic?"
    he wagered.

    Taurina's silver hair whipped radiantly backward as she tilted her head to the rear with bursting laughter. "Evil Giants aren't Morgul Casters, Rob. They're deadly brutes but incapable of using sorcery."

    "I didn't suggest the
    Giants were using it," Robert said cryptically.

    Taurina blinked at him, taking a long taste of her drink, and regarded him thoughtfully in silence for several moments before answering the Gryphon's Claw. "You believe they were protected by the concealing sorcery of the Coven?"

    "The Angle is
    Rhudaur, yes?"

    "That is correct and Rivendell itself lies near it but the sorcerers are dead. They died a long time ago. I think you're being very superstitious, Bree-lander."

    A muscle tensed in the mercenary captain's jaw. He remained calm when he replied to her, accepting a tankard of melomel - an apple honey mead from Archet - which his quiet servant, Milneth, had prepared for him. "They lived here for a time and many of them were killed by the Elves and Dunedain but most of the Coven's mages faded into obscurity. I've heard Gandalf the Grey say the number of Sauron's most sinister agents are growing daily. Do you not think some of them may be witches who have inherited or studied the dark arts of Morgul?" Robert peered keenly at her as he drank his mead, ignoring her disapproval; speaking the demon's name was frowned upon usually in the company of Elvenkind but Robert didn't seem to care. "Bree-landers are usually considered to be country bumpkins compared to the civilized folk of Gondor but we are not stupid and know a thing or two about history, Taurina. It is said that the Messenger of Sauron became enamoured of evil knowledge and has learned great sorcery. You don't think others have done the same or have lived as long as he has? Will you truly ignore the messages we've been sent regarding
    Aura, the Marsh Witch?"

    "Thranduil's damned elk,"
    Taurina groaned, sliding fingertips through her bright hair in utter grief. "I hate it when you humans make sense."

    Aewrusca hurried randomly into the tent with the exuberance of a frightened squirrel pursued by a hungry wolf. The cutesy energetic Elf-girl was now a healer for the Host of Rivendell. She hoped military service would enable her to evade math homework and permit Aewrusca more time with her crush, Edan Amrun's page. Lhaindir was a brainy noble boy her age who knew every verse of the Lay of Leithian so well he could recite each canto backwards, it made her swoon.

    Elves were customarily reckoned to be graceful beings but there was, as they said in Bree, always a few bad apples spoiling the whole barrell; like Lord Salgant of Gondolin, Aewrusca lacked the flawlessness of Elvenhood. The klutsy Elf-girl tripped over her own feet and fell with a cry. One of her slender arms whirled, knocking over a gilded lampstand, while the other simultaneously swatted lemon loaf off Milneth's pewter tray.

    "I was really looking forward to eating that," said Robert, said unhappily, watching Liberty - his green Mirkwood riverhound - devouring the sun-shiney sweetbread, swishing her long furry tail with excited movements. He waved at Milneth to right the lampstand and arched a brow, giving Aewrusca a gimlet stare, expecting an explanation for her unexpected presence.

    "Just what are you doing?"
    Taurina hissed, hauling Aewrusca up, tightly gripping her arm. "Martial discussions are no place for a child." She was getting sick of so many pages and squires in the host. Most of the highborn teenagers were immature and Taurina had to wait an infuriating amount of time before the young elves of Rivendell and Tol Noldare became serious leaders. Now that healers Aewrusca's age were being sent to tend warriors in the field, Taurina's frustration had deepened considerably. Anyone can improve their behavior and make a difference but it didn't happen fast; it irritated her very much.

    made a small sound of discomfort, impelling Taurina to remove her fierce hold on the child. She felt a pang of guilt, noticing how mousy she appeared, withering beneath the authil's venomous stare. "Well, speak. You came here for a reason, didn't you?" Taurina remarked firmly. She would treat everyone the same way, including the children and she hoped her own acerbic nature would inspire them to toughen their own hearts. Middle-earth was a dangerous place. "You should be with Edan Amrun and Tavari Mordagnir. Did the taidron and Arahiril send you here?" Tavari's duties as Arahiril had been keeping her busy since
    Lord Elrond had commanded Aigronding, her brother and the Halcyon commander, to take a leave of absence.

    "Yes, they they wanted me to give a message," said Aewrusca, sobered by the authil's sternness. "Edan and Tavari encountered a caravan of Harlindon Dwarves fleeing an enemy force here in the forest. The stunted ones require aid to rescue their captured armorers from their powerful captors. Edan and Tavari fear they are either outnumbered or outmatched, perhaps both, and ask for your company here at the encampment to aid them. They're riding to Minas Baul."

    "A powerful enemy? What danger are they facing? A horde of trolls, I expect."

    Aewrusca said flatly. She trembled like a shaken tree bearing the onslaught of a Belfalas hurricane. "Sorcerers and Dunlending braves, authil."

    Taurina stood rigidly, her spine tingling with icy dread as she shared a look with Robert and Milneth. She knew viscerally somehow that nothing in their lives would ever be the same again.

    "Lhaindir and my friend, Dineth,are with their guards!"
    Aewrusca blurted, tears spilling from her big blue eyes, when none of the adults said anything. She latched onto Taurina, circling her waist tightly. "Will you not ride out to meet them?"

    Taurina rolled her palm over the Elf-girl's long brown curls, a rare gesture of affection. "Of course, dear."

    She asked Robert to ready his men and to tell Caranfindel to muster the elven troops. Time seemed to slow around Taurina, strands of silver streaming aloft in the summer wind, as she walked from her tent and whistled for her horse. She asked Camando to ride ahead of her as part of a group acting as advance scouts.

    A slow feral smile widened her lush red mouth. Taurina had never battled a witch before. This was going to be interesting.

    - Source Image: Asa Butterfield -



    I know how important this RPG is to several people
    - Ercassie, Moriel, and Nolewen just to name a few - so I look forward
    to GM'ing it. Revenge of Rhudaur is as important to me as Ages of Arda. Seriously.
    I care about it that much. The RPG is critically important to all of our characters;
    its events, although not yet written, has affected the lives of our
    beloved creations for the last three years and will continue to shape
    their destinies as time goes on. It'll be my deepest,
    satisfying pleasure to forge its story with you all.

    - Source Image: Eva Green -

    Last edited by Beren Camlost; 29/May/2017 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Typos and phrasing
    "There is no / Life I know / To compare with pure imagination."

  3. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Alqualondë, Years of the Trees
    Water and Ice

    Lunchtime in school typically occurred in the waning hours of Telperion, in the 6th or 7th hour or so. Today, Menelote's mother made her roast fish, with crispy skin yet perfectly cooked, and packed the small juicy delicacy with various fruits and vegetables in a small wooden box. The black-haired child thus experienced the early hours of her second day at school, with a constant reminder of what awaited her stomach by lunchtime.

    She was dressed in a light blue one-piece feathery dress, such as the fashion for Teleri girls at the time, with a light blue sash binding the dress to her waist, allowing the bottom of the dress to expand and flutter with the wind as she ran. Barefoot, Menelote was, allowing her to be quicker and more nimble than those with shoes. Though she longed to discard said dress, her parents told her that such an act would prove too distracting for the other students and teachers to learn and instill Menelote the knowledge of Arda, passed down from the Valar and their forebearers.

    Most of her classes were outside, where they learned such information as the language of the Teleri, and the early history of their origins. Then came storytime, where the teacher told the story of The Three Elves, in which the big bad Melkor threatened to blow apart their homes through dissonant singing. At this point, Menelote struggled to barely contain her laughter, and looked around for the reaction of others. Many of the other elf children were rapt with terrified attention. Then Menelote looked for a spot of white hair, to which her sniggers and smile ended, and a narrowed glare replaced her features. For Menellótë, the person the teacher often confused the black-haired elf with, was not terrified nor amused.

    The white-haired child had the most unreadable plain look that Menelote could not decipher. At all. This but furthered her desire to investigate her supposed white-haired 'doppelganger' when she had time.

    So during lunchtime, instead of eating with the other elves, the black-haired child quietly followed Menellótë, who appeared to be carrying something,at a distance. Whenever the latter appeared to look behind her, Menelote darted at once behind a convenient tree, bush, or shrubbery to hide. Then Menelote would slowly peer from the tree, bush, or shrubbery to check if the white-haired one was still looking.

    Once it looked like the coast was clear, the chase continued until finally Menellótë stopped at a certain place and unveiled... canvas and a brush?

    After some time, the black-haired child's eyes widened in shock, then quickly narrowed in another glare. Was she being drawn?

    Her bare feet stomped on the ground, in a fit of anger, as the birds who had perched themselves to her hair when she hid behind a bush stayed and continued serenading to each other.

    She stomped until she was barely two feet away from Menellótë.

    "Oi! Look at me!" Menelote squeaked loudly to her...
    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 25/May/2017 at 04:43 AM.

  4. Ercassie's Avatar
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    Nov 2002

    Water and Ice - Part 1 (Semi-Private with RivvyElf)

    ’So I've always lived like this, keeping a comfortable distance.
    And up until now I have sworn to myself that I'm content with loneliness.
    Because none of it was ever worth the risk.
    Well you are the only exception ..

    (The Only Exception, Paramore)

    Menellótë Lindesûl
    Alqualondë, YT

    The world was ever escorted by music. The trick was to detect it. Whether it might emerge from the playful squalling of dare-diving gulls, or the gentle moan of a teasing wind that tore about the pearly spires of the sea city. There were some melodies of course which were impossible to ignore, for the best of reasons. Day began in the Tower of Windsong, same each day as that before it. Praise to the almighty Ulmo carried in the laughter of bronze bells. These threw themselves from suspension and swang back upon melodious return. One day not yet come, those same bells would warn all Alqualondë of an assault at the harbour. They would peel with grief and horror in the tears thereafter. This day though, they knew not yet of terror or such need. They sang, and knew, only of joy.

    Menellótë, stood on the street, glanced back her smooth neck over one shoulder as her parents commenced with their longstanding musical custom. Her sister, in their lead, then forced to mirror the reluctant gesture, calling for the younger to keep up. They must to school, and Minuelira was charged with ensuring that both girls managed this small feat. Still Menellótë was loath to further herself from the song of their loving nest.

    You do like school ?Minuelira prompted, suddenly expectant and growing increasingly more concerned at the responsive pause. Confused, she closed in on Menellótë, and took up her hand. “You would tell me, sister,” she supposed, dubious. “If you were unhappy ?Menellótë drank of her beloved and popular sister and was hard pressed to dismay her. “You must find, each day, a thing to look forward to experiencing,” was the adolescent’s advice. “If you can do that .. ?

    I can do that,Menellótë decided. She clamped her shoulder bag across her chest, with both arms crossed before it, like a shield or comforting toy. “I can learn of strange new things at school,” she smiled, carefully.

    Minuelira took a moment to convince herself of this response. Then came the summons of her fellow Madrigals, and she was away. “Be happy !” she threw out the counsel as a well-meant compensation, even as she flew, with arms outstretched like wings in greeting to her flock, her friends. Those girls were Minuelira’s cause for happiness, that she looked forward, always, to being a part of. The acapella choir garbed in uniform white lace. Acolytes of all sounds fair and lyrical that they might raise in wonder and in worship of their carefree world.

    Menellótë watched them, in silence, as their talent muted gently into memory. She sighed in relief of the escape from attention, rallied her resources and found her way to the school alone. She could take her time now and she made sure to manipulate her stride so that the slender silver ankle-chain with tiny bells gave her a smile to accompany their song the whole journey there.

    It was a thing of ease to seat herself down quietly amongst the throng of other children. She smoothed down her hand-me-down white frock and glanced about her as they went about being themselves. Young boys hurling makeshift nets at one another, all in play, naïve still to the life lessons they were evolving and the skills that one day would shape their lives, as their fathers before them. Girls threaded precious shells all in a line to conjure necklaces, and compared the silk kerchiefs they had embroidered. She knew by now the names of those girls which were spoken the most often. She could not have aligned them with their keepers though. For there was but a one who had stood out and caught her interest. A discharge of mirth blasting above the fray. That was her. That was Menelote.

    Dark hair, bright eyes, vivid and lively and there were all manner of adjectives that she might use to describe the strange girl. What was more difficult to seize was how she dared to pick up her skirts, race the boys, and win ! How she could question what every other soul took for granted. How in all the stars was she to sit still for more than a moment long enough to be considered properly ?

    It came to the point of their break from lessons, meant for the taking of refreshment. Menellótë had thoughts toward replenishing her energy and interest another way. She would have to forego her lunch this day but the sacrifice would hopefully be worth it. She had, after all, already made sacrifices. To rise with her mother and gather enough oysters to trade for a stretch of canvas from the sail-makers. Now fastened taut over a small frame of wooden border, it awaited a subject. The small wooden brush which yearned to dance it’s creation across that backdrop had been finished with the finest hair bristles. A small wooden box held four small glass bottles. These had been the craft of her summer, trading for eggs, herbs and spices from the market, so that she might blend the yolk with intriguing seasoning for the best colour combinations. She had pleased her mother with the thought that she enjoyed their time collecting oysters together. She had improved her swimming also. Her mother had confided in Menellótë's father that the girl 'seemed to be finding herself' after all. This confused their daughter, who had been going out of her way to subdue herself. Sacrifice. They loved her of course, unconditionally. But they did worry so. Her childhood was not as theirs had been and they knew not what would come of it all, except that her life would like not be similar to theirs either ..

    But now, for present, the strange girl put her mind to a girl just as strange, resolved to make her illustrated record of this oddity, of Menelote, for further research. Calmly, Menellótë rose from where the bulk of children frolicked. Slinging her shoulder bag provocatively, to suggest the meaning of it’s heft, she laid eyes about her target and held there just long enough to engage. Before setting out some steps. She paused there, and glanced over one shoulder. Then made off anew. And so the same, over and over. She had hopes that Menelote might make chase, but at no point did she see the other girl behind her. At no point did she cease her game though. She knew better.

    The last time that she turned around caused it to be the last time. Menellótë’s impossibly pale eyes widened to the point of moons that eclipsed her whole expression. The girl was there, impossible to ignore. Between the stomping charge, and the serenading birds that crowned her dark hair …. Her prey fell into an unexpected smile that she looked not to dissuade.

    I am looking at you,” she observed, at length and matter of fact, when the girl gave up no further demand. “I have been looking at you, wondering of you.” The pale-haired girl beheld the dark-haired girl more (more ?) intently, as though to make point. And they two were like day first meeting night. “I would draw your likeness ..” she presumed, softly, to test the opinion of her muse.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 03/Nov/2017 at 10:39 PM. Reason: icon

  5. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
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    Sep 2004
    Alqualondë, Years of the Trees
    Water and Ice

    For a brief moment a victorious smirk appeared on Menelote's face, as she saw that finally her white-haired doppelganger expressed some emotion. She didn't know eyelids could appear that wide! The smirk quickly turned into a small frown, as the increased light coming from Menellótë's wide eyes strained the black-haired elf's eyes. Finally, after a minute or two, her eyes closed themselves and she shook her head, the birds departing from her head and flying elsewhere, still singing their song.

    Embarassed at losing the impromptu staring contest, Menelote gave a measured upward stare, her eyes inspecting the white-haired elf's likeness, as if she herself was also going to paint her likeness on the canvas. Menelote then locked eyes with her doppelganger again, as the latter finally spoke, making it known that she too wondered about the black-haired girl, and apparently wanted to draw her likeness.

    So the black-haired elf brought her index finger to rest at the bottom of her chin, her eyes narrowing in contemplation, as she considered her response, averting eye-gaze. She concentrated, thinking...

    Minutes passed.

    The birds returned to roost upon Menelote's hair.

    Then a small smile cracked and revealed itself on the black-haired elf's face, "Flattering, yes. But I shall permit you to draw my likeness on one condition," she responded, gesturing with the same hand the number '1',

    "that we be friends, forever and always."

    Menelote offered her hand in friendship, her twinkling eyes looking into Menellótë's own.

    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 31/May/2017 at 05:40 AM.

  6. Ercassie's Avatar
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    Nov 2002

    Water and Ice - Part 2 (Semi-Private with RivvyElf)

    I've been watching your world from afar
    I've been trying to be where you are
    And I've been secretly falling apart. Unseen
    To me, you're strange and you're beautiful ..

    (Strange and Beautiful, Aqualung)

    Menellótë Lindesûl
    Water and Ice
    Alqualondë, YT

    The stranger told a story first through the flicker of emotions. Menellótë calmly watched the evolution of the girl’s opinion unfold, before her very eyes. Now the dark-haired girl seemed to surrender her permission, which begged the question, how could she have honestly halted the artist ? Did she intend to hide forever in a shrubbery, camouflaged by songbirds ? The winged ones fled from the confrontation yet could not keep from spying out it’s conclusion. In truth, their presence made their hostess even more so of an inspiring muse. For the contrast between the scowling maiden and her obliviously carefree, feathered friends was begging to be etched to permanence. Would she dare to break Menellótë’s hand so that to conceive any illustrated image be too painful ? She might of course try .. Of all things, this girl did not seem alarmed by the frank confession.

    At some great length, Menellótë beheld the offered hand of Menelote. She appraised it’s intention, carefully, and somewhat dubious. She had not meant to flatter for it was not her way. The dark haired girl was smiling nonetheless. The pale haired girl marvelled at this fortuitous turn of events. Might be that she would come to learn something in school this day after all ..

    Friends,” she mirrored, softly. And then rolled her tongue about the foreign word a second time, though silent. Negotiations had begun. “I have never had a friend,” she confessed and wondered where they went from here.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 03/Nov/2017 at 10:38 PM. Reason: Icon

  7. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
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    Sep 2004
    Alqualondë, Years of the Trees
    Water and Ice

    "Truly?" Menelote asked, her smile turning into a surprised expression, her mouth forming into an 'o'. She withdrew her outstretched hand, placing it underneath her chin as her face scrunched and formed into a quizzical expression. Perhaps her white-haired doppelganger did not yet know the meaning of the word 'friendship'. Still, she had to make sure!

    "Not even with the birds, the trees, the flowers?" she asked. The birds perched on Menelote stopped their serenading, and began tweeting and flying towards the sea-foam white hair of the other Menellótë. They would try to perch themselves on the latter elf, if Menellótë allowed.

    "What about the conches, the turtles, the sand, the earth? Or the sea of grassy plains when Laurelin shines brightest?" Menelote continued, naming off objects that she considered being friends with. The turtles seemed to be the most receptive, as both the sand and the earth seemed rather unresponsive when Menelote greeted them years ago when she first learned how to talk. The dark-haired elf pondered again, then pointed at the canvas.

    "If you were not friends with the canvas, would the canvas allow you to paint on her?" Menelote asked Menellótë, hoping the latter was not confused about the question... Because to be honest Menelote wasn't sure of the answer to such a philosophical question.

    Fearing that Menellótë would be bored or insulted by the current questions on friendship, Menelote haltingly waved her hands in front of her head and squeaked, "wait, wait. I know!"

    She pulled out her small wooden lunchbox.

    "Friendship is like sharing food and drink, at least that's what father told me," Menelote said, fidgeting with trying to open the box as she began showing a little nervousness, "...I don't think I have any drink though. But anyways, friends share their food."

    At this point, she opened the box, and turned it around to show her white-haired doppelganger, "I speared the little fish by myself. You can eat it!"

    A slight pause later, and Menelote cried, "Wait, wait!"

    "First, we should shake hands. It is a sign that we trust each other not to break each other's hands, or... I don't know exactly why. But Mother always said that elf friends first shook hands."

    With that, Menelote stretched her open hand towards Menellótë, as the dark-haired child smiled again, then frowned, "did I tell you why I wanted to be friends with you?"

    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 08/Jun/2017 at 08:37 AM.

  8. Ercassie's Avatar
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    Nov 2002

    All's not Fair in Love and War - Part 7 (Semi-private with RivvyElf)

    ’I got you, I got you on my mind
    And its time to make you see (what I want)
    So I'll just make this a little more obvious
    'Cause I get what I want and .. (you want to get with me)

    Don't think you know how far I'm gonna go
    Can't stop this feeling, you can’t run away
    Baby I'm what's on your mind
    You can't stop this feeling, there is no escape
    No sleep tonight;
    You won't get no sleep tonight ..’

    (No Sleep Tonight, The Faders)

    Fëapoldië Aiwenáriel
    at the House of Eärcúlinta
    Years of the Trees, Aman

    She bounced, once, on the bed, her bright hair brandished like an inferno quite ready to consume him in chaos. She bounced once. And then the strange boy’s palm impacted with her lower cheek. Fea’s face turned aside, from the shock, but that did not save the petals of her lips. The glancing blow summoned a sensation there, that carried all about the elleth’s jaw, as she had never known before. Her countenance recoiled into the comfort of a quick risen hand. Her own this time. And it was a short moment before she turned back to face him again.

    In that short moment, Linta unleashed his second assault. An eruption of frustration. Fea frowned, spat at the floor and rose up from where she had been sitting. Still her hand cradled the glowing portion of her face. And whether the blush there was come from injury or else from anger, it was certain not from shame. For she knew not what she might have done to deserve such a thing.

    She had only ever been herself ..

    That,” she decided. “Does not happen. E-ver.” And encroaching back upon the patient’s personal space, albeit quite more cautiously this time, Fea leant in as close as she dared to, and unleashed a high-pitched scream close to his face. Then she pooled into a puddle on the floor and retreated under his bed where she lay on the floor, her whole pulled underneath the shadow of his sleep cot.

    Slowly her tongue explored her own mouth, as though to check if he had truly ‘knocked the spit out of her mouth’ as he had first considered. Her open hands found the cold floor, and she bored a glare through the bed above her, that he might feel her resentment.

    I am not leaving until you apologise,” she warned him. “And if you think this be now awkward and uncomfortable, then let me tell you a lifetime of unhappy marriage which is where we’re headed would be far worse so. My mother will not approve my own choice in husband, until I at least consider what she thinks be a more ‘suitable’ alternative. So we can put up a charade of tolerance until we’re old enough to act without permission, or else we can openly rebel. I do not know about you but I don’t intend to have all my privileges revoked just because I find you an ill fit to all my wants and desires ..

    The flaming maiden ran her hand along her jawline, thoughtfully, with one hand, as she now traced the other along the underside of the bed on which he lay. “Nobody has ever, EVER dared laid hand on me afore,” she admitted. Her fingers tapped a throbbing confusion against the bed frame.

    I venture you be brave enough to take this path with me.” He might not see the elleth’s shrug, but even she was surprised by it. “So whenever we wish to be from them, or where e’er else we would, then we simply say we are to meet together. There we have our alibi, though that be all it is. They are happy in the delusion of our courtship, and we are happy to be anywhere but together in truth.

    She reached out one hand, selected from the floor one of those stones which she had thrown through his window before now (and wondered again at how it had come to be there). Idly she turned it over in both hands, before flinging it across the room. Like her only hope to get out of this horrific ‘union’.

    You are as strange as they say of you, Eärcúlinta,” she decided. Her blue eyes narrowed then as she recalled the graffiti she had observed scrawled across the city streets, on her journey here. “Ought we bring your sister into our confidence ?” she pondered aloud, without even allowing for his refusal. As though all this time she had been in fact musing to herself, or to a household pet. To a turtle. Hard-backed, soft bellied little turtle. Fea twirled one particularly long tendril of russet hair that presented itself to hand.

    She thought about climbing out from beneath his bed, to make sure he had not walked off without her say so. But there, she would have observed his difficulty in doing just that. His walking stick she had, after all, retired … A small smile kindled across her jaw as she imagined what shapes his face was pulling into even as she spoke to him. With a kick, she jarred one leg of the bed so that it moved, summoning his attention. His response.

    She rolled her tongue along the wall of pearl white teeth, and recalled that strange feeling once again. Not that she was unused to encouraging reactions out of others. But not that. Noone had ever .. that. With another unseen shrug, she wondered if it were at all possible, that she might even let herself like him.

    Just a little bit. Just enough to convince people that she did. Just enough. She pulled her hair more tightly than intended, and unleashed a tiny wince, before releasing it.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 18/Jul/2017 at 07:08 AM. Reason: icon

  9. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
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    Sep 2004

    A Stroll on the Beach

    S.A 750
    Going Outside on the Beach

    He dipped his quill in the ink, affixing a period at the end of his journal entry. Unfortunately his grip was not precise enough, and even as his remaining left hand put pressure, the quill collapsed and broke, and what looked like a haphazard stroke across the page of his journal. The raven-haired elf sighed, as he dropped the pieces of the quill in a trash container next to his desk, then closed the journal entry with the same hand. He leaned back on his wooden chair, placing his hand to the back of his head, as he slowly exhaled a long breath, as if he had been holding it all day and night. He gazed to the ceiling, opened his mouth as if to ask for something, then shook his head. Eru did not usually grant requests for regrowing limbs, after all.

    At the very least he could practice his left-handed fencing literally without his right arm getting in the way. That was a positive, perhaps. He never was good wielding swords with his off-hand, and Faeleithel seemed to greatly enjoy reminding him during fencing spar. It did not help that she also used her off-hand whenever fencing with him.

    How in Arda did Ecthelion train all his Fountain Swordwielders to be that deadly?

    He rose from his chair, no longer covered in the uniform cloak with insignia signifying his rank of general, walking over to the open window on the side of his office. From it he had the perfect view of the sea, ever enveloping like a flexible giant fabric, as tiny crests ever rose and fell alongside the sandy beaches of Lindon. He would sometimes see elven couples at night, one holding a 'love-lantern' in one hand, the other clasped in their lover's grasp.

    Eärcúlinta would longingly look at the couple, as if he knew he would never be able to do such a thing again.

    The raven-haired elf looked up, smiling a little as tonight was cloudless. The moon shone brightly, its reflection creating a second moon on the waters. The stars in the entire sky were like a multitude of glimmering piercing the blanket of night, as if beyond its dark veil was everlasting light. There twinkling merrily was
    Eäraini's favorite star, or so he guessed. Maybe she was looking at it at the same time he was? Doubtful, but the thought granted lifted his spirits just a little. He wondered whether the letters were able to be sent to her, and if he would ever receive a reply.

    Before she left in the middle of the night, tensions between the two were escalating for what seemed to be the last thousand years or so, ever since he saved her from participating in the War of Wrath. He remembered the arguments, angry gestures towards each other, shouting that could be easily heard even through closed doors. There were even few points where he feared that Eäraini would reach a boiling point and strike him down, such was her wroth. The arguments were sometimes about the most trivial things, like perhaps polishing her armor a little more often. Then there were those other arguments. The ones about independence, of letting her be killed in the War of Wrath so long it as she could have had a chance to see her favorite star again, of not treating her like a child, and of Faeleithel.

    The so-called 'Fountain Girl' was another topic on its own. He did not want to dwell on what Eäraini spoke of her, for her daughter made sense in her reasoning. Faeleithel had ever been a thorn to both their sides, and for many years Eärcúlinta had to stay the strong temptation to gut her on the spot. Yet, at some point once he got a proper look into Faeleithel's eyes, he saw beneath the hate and wrath to find only sorrow and grief that all too often reminded him of himself. Faeleithel herself had suffered much loss, and would never experience many much of the same happiness other elves would experience in Middle-Earth. But to hear Eäraini 's ridiculous claim that Eärcúlinta would disown her and would rather have Faeleithel as his only daughter...

    He regretted his response, and that eve his daughter left.

    Eärcúlinta sighed again, rubbing his left hand on his temple in order to calm himself down. Hopefully walking outside along the coastline would do just that. Work stress had put a lot of pressure on his remaining shoulder literally and figuratively. Better do it while the moon was shining and the stars were twinkling.

    Needing no torch, he blew out the candles in the wall lanterns in his office one-by-one, walked down the stairs, and left the office building. He took his shoes off, leaving them and his general cloak in the building, as he walked barefoot outside, much like the days of his youth whenever he visited the hut of his grandparents.

    Soon he reached the coastline, hearing the sounds of waves greeting him, feeling the water through his toes when he walked closer to the sea. There he stood, closing his eyes, breathing the air, hearing the wind, the singing of night-gulls, and the continuing crashing of tiny waves along the coast. He released a long exhale, not departing his glance from the sea, his eyes still closed. But his voice issued forth, speaking to nobody in front of him,

    "I know you are there, though I do not see you," he spoke softly, yet somehow knowing every word of his was heard, "what do you desire of me?"

    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 15/Jun/2017 at 04:42 AM.

  10. Ercassie's Avatar
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    Water and Ice - Part 3 (Semi-Private with RivvyElf)

    Getting to know you, getting to know all about you
    When I am with you, getting to know what to say.
    Haven’t you noticed suddenly I’m bright and breezy
    because of all the beautiful and new
    things I’m learning about you day by day ?

    (Getting to Know You, The King and I)

    Menellótë Lindesûl
    Water and Ice
    Alqualondë, YT

    Surprise was not a reaction that startled her. Menellótë had evoked surprise in people before. What was different however was the contemplation. The intrigue. When she spoke, it was as though the other girl listened. Menelote even thought over what she heard. It did not tend to be that way with other people. They heard what the strange pale-haired elleth said and they recoiled, because it was not what they would have said. It was not what they expected to hear. It made them wish to be away .. where they did not have to worry that they did not understand. But they were both come to school, after all. And school ought to be an education. It was time for Menellote to put aside fears of things she did not understand.

    My sister has friends,” she allowed, carefully, drawing out thoughts like threads to examine them. Menelote had sparked her interest, as she might have imagined of such a subject. It was not so much that one of them taught the other, but that they rather muddled through the sense of things together. “Her friends all like the same, all dress the same, all do the same ..” the younger sister sighed. “Noone I have found counts things the same as I,” she clarified, or sought to, though she had never minded the honesty of the statement all too much. Neither could it be said that she minded the song birds who apparently now deemed her safe enough to perch upon. She extended one arm, and her shadow did likewise. The shadow girl had bird shadows upon her shadow arm. The shadow was the only one who Menellótë had ever felt attuned to. She glanced up now however, and saw a living shadow. Dark haired, wide eyed. Not demonstrating any wish to walk away.

    The two of them shared a name, more or less, at least in so far as their teacher would pronounce. “We are not so same, I think” she pondered, aloud but not dismayed. Menellote did not feel any less interested in Menelote, because of their differences. And if Menellote had considered the birds, the turtles or the trees at all, it was to observe the mystery of their world, beyond hers, that she might never fully comprehend. She was not a bird, nor a turtle nor a tree. She was however, a Menelote/Menellote ... so .. maybe ..

    The birds took to wing as she raised her arm, a flightless wing as it was. Sorrow to be so abandoned, glad to marvel at their movement, the young elleth paused, to examine now what was held up for her attention. Food. Food that Menelote had fished. Tentatively, she moved to accept the generous offering, and then hesitated. “Friends share,” she recounted quietly. “We share. I would like to learn how you catch fish”. She gathered forth her own small wooden box, although it held no substenance. “I gathered up oysters, to trade for the means to make my colours.” Excited, she held up her own offering, ready to offer a trade, of experiences. Though now Menelote had found a further rite of passage they might try.

    A vigilant hand found that of Menelote and pale eyes considered the risk of making such a contact between them. She doubted that this sort of negotiation could be retracted once it had been set. Once friends, they could never again be as strangers. The dark-haired girl queried if she had disclosed quite exactly why she wanted friendship. Menellote drew her hand briefly from their blend. Then glanced sidelong and decided that Menelote was no more a threat than she was, albeit for certain in alternate ways. “Tell me,” she invited the conversation, and the budding friendship, to continue. Curious and content all at once.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 03/Nov/2017 at 10:38 PM. Reason: icon !

  11. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
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    Sep 2004
    Alqualondë, Years of the Trees
    Water and Ice

    "I have seen you from afar. You are different from the others, and that is good, because my instinct says that together we can change the whole world," Menelote responded, giving a small pout as Menellótë no longer held her hand, but her face returning to a grin as she too withdrew her hand, "I want to be king, and I trust my instincts."

    Then the grin turned into a small smile, as Menelote's gaze softened,

    "But I cannot rule alone," she continued, "if we are friends, we can rule as equals; dual kings. I do not have a sister, nor siblings; I envy you a little. We can be different from them though. We can be sister kings!"

    "The way Valinor is now, they like elves not due to their actions, but due to their blood. But were the kings of the Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri born as such? No, they were chosen to lead. I think nowadays blood is being more favored than action."

    Menelote gave a loud sigh, and sorrowfully looked at the ground, the sound of birds a mere echo in the distance as she spoke,

    "Why must I live in Alqualondë, and not live in Taniquetil or Tirion? Why do we live separately if we are not wed? Why can't all the Valar favor us, equally?"

    Then the raven-haired elf's eyes brightened, as she turned her sparkling determined eyes back to Menellótë's, and declared,

    "If we become kings. Not queens, kings, then we can have every elf be treated through their actions, rather than their blood. We can trade our talents for others, like your oysters for paint, or your paint for my fish."

    "Speaking of that, I can teach you to catch fish. I use a spear instead of a fishing rod," Menelote, standing, walked a few steps backwards from Menellótë, turned to her side, and demonstrated. She twirled around an imaginary spear with one hand, and she jabbed downwards every so often with her right fist extended, and her left hand outstretched, palm up, in the opposite direction.

    "Quick little things, they are," Menelote said, then she stopped her little performance and turned back to face her white-haired counterpart with a smirk, "but I'm quicker."

    A moment later the raven-haired elf once again placed her fingers underneath her chin, as she asked, "what were we talking about again?"

    "Oh yes!" she said quickly, her eyes widening, "changing Valinor for the better. But baby steps first."

    The raven-haired elf once again extended a hand to Menellótë, "would you like to come fish with me in the next few days? I can teach you. My father has spare spears lying around."

  12. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Familiar Strangers - Part 1 (Semi-private with Rivvyelf)

    The scar I can't reverse
    When the more it heals the worse it hurts
    Made it through the maze to find my one in a million
    And now you're just a page torn from the story I'm building

    And all I gave you is gone, tumbled like it was stone
    Thought we built a dynasty that heaven couldn't shake
    Thought we built a dynasty like nothing ever made
    Thought we built a dynasty forever couldn't break up

    (Dynasty, Miia)

    Menellótë Silosse (remembering Sarnir Erondo)
    Leading to ..

    A meeting with Eärcúlinta
    On the Beach, Lindon
    750 SA approx

    The vast ocean was as much capricious as it was constant. Ever changing. Often churning. Elsewise lapping, like a satin blanket with a kitten’s tongue. The dazzling shore endured it’s unceasing attention whether their exchange was a velvet whisper, else a crashing battle of wills. This eve the walls of water but tickled the sand. Small stones shifted in the carry of the tide’s hem. And a lone figure made steps from sand to sea, enveloped slowly in the water which swallowed her pale form from sight.

    So long as she might and must, she would fulfil this honoured tradition. Silosse submerged, and a kingdom of unseen wonders stampeded her senses. There the elleth conducted her silent symphony of gesture, caught up in a dance where the strong current was her partner. Disengaged from the world as it was, beyond, she indulged, in a conversation of her own. But it was not the water she sought to share secrets with. There was but a one she found in reach within the roil and refreshing depths.

    The day that she had found his lifeless shell, he had been floating facedown in the harbour of Alqualondë. The tell-tale heads of arrows were burst through his back like barbed boils. His pale skin robbed of what small colour he had held in life. Without his unique family armour, absent of the mighty starblade sword, that tall, dark-haired Noldo might have been any Elf. There was naught to title him himself. Until she had dared to delve under the water for her own part.

    Then, with silver tentacles of tresses to assail her, Silosse had swum aneath and beheld her dear beloved husband. His stony expression spoke of a sudden and begrudging departure from this world. She had run one hand along his hard countenance, and found it unresponsive as his sculpting works had felt. They who had never livened. Their master had succumbed to their plight. And so she wept. Under the water, where she always went to cast forth tears. Where none might see. For her woe was her own, her feelings and her marriage to Sarnir no matter to anyone else. It was hers. Private. And so were these precious moments. He alone had ever seen her weep. Aneath the surface, where all emotions were tethered. Her business and no others.

    That fateful day in Alqualondë, Silosse had drawn the remnants of her husband from the clutch of Ulmo. Rain fell from the heavens and she felt it not. For she was that drenched from her swim and from her sorrow. There were no words to be made. Save for those others she had known to venture for that same beach, those others whose reunion might now assuage her grief. Her son .. she found no trace of. Though she strove amongst the known dead of the Noldor and the Falmari. The armour of both her husband and her son she discovered, discarded, though she could not reason why this might be so. For if such splendour might be scavenged, why then left in a small boatshed, as though it were scrap. And if worn at all, then why removed ? When the fine silver and blue, decked in that heraldic star .. it might have, should have saved the life of Sarnir.

    There was no one who might stifle the perplexions of the widow’s mind that sad, wet day. Her kin who had dwelt in the shore city had been boarded up in their bell tower, letting forth the roar to warn all those unwary, and rally defences to the water’s edge. They had seen naught. None of them knew naught. That is to say, they told her so, they told her naught.

    And her one friend in all that land, her childhood accomplice. The spear maiden had been found in a secluded passage, run through as though by one of the spears of her own fashion. At a time when Silosse believed her heart to be broke, it slipped further to shatters at that sorry reunion.

    One wet day. She had lost all that she had taken to her heart to care for. Her parents and sister she might never now be reaffirmed with, for the terror and troubles they had endured. Her husband, her friend removed of reach. And her son .. she knew not. She swore she never would cease seeking. For he might be the sole living soul who could console her with the truth, of his hand in her own, if naught else to be said might salve them.

    Silosse broke from her soundless refuge, her crown of silver a new pale glimmer for the blossoming moon to glint off watery reflection. For one moment she turned toward the endless horizon of dark deep and dauntless. Yearning grasped her hand, for all that was, for all that had been, for all that would never be again. There remained naught now for her in the West that she might claim. Sadness. Sorrow. Silence. But on the eastern shore, there dwelt yet hope, a slight and sneaking chance that she might yet know what remained. She might take that one remaining piece of her past into a new future. Into the West.

    Finding him was the difficulty. She had followed countless leads and rumours, half hoping that they would lead her to her lost Sarnirion. Half-hoping that all they said of him was meant of some other Elf. For the things they said … It was never her son at the end of each adventure. Tonight destiny teased her again. Though it was not her lost son who stood upon the beach, but the son of Menelote.

    Eärcúlinta, she recalled. His name was Eärcúlinta. And she would know him anywhere, so oft had she sought sanctuary in the memory of times spent with her friend, and her friend’s family. There was countless altered from the child she once knew to the grown Elf who stood afore her. Warrior. Veteran. Father ..

    It had scarce occurred to Silosse that her own son might be similarly altered from the romantic and lonely boy that she watched march off to war with his father .. so so long ago. Her child stood then on the cusp of adulthood, and since then, who knows what experiences had shaped him unto.

    It took the mother a great length of time to close the distance between her and Eärcúlinta. He acknowledged her and she marvelled. For focusing upon the one thing that assured her whom he was. Those eyes. Those same thoughtful and sad eyes. What have those eyes seen .. ?

    I have missed the seeing of you Eärcúlinta,” water fell away from the shimmering form that emerged of the water. No shoes anchored her feet, and the simple white dress which veiled her modesty achieved this goal ably, clinging only at her knees. Taking her time so that he may recognise the past standing before him. Silosse gradually gained focus and features as she made approach. “Though I believe you are missing something also ..” she did not look at the space where the Noldo’s arm should be. She knew his mind would go there first, and she would not encourage their wallowing together at his misery. He needed that not. “You are missing a child,” she corrected presumption of their subject.

    You know now what it is to be a parent,” the moon-maiden disclosed, with one finger risen to her lips, as though to suggest a conspiracy. She considered the height of him now they stood closer. The build of him. The eyes of him … “To crave of that soul that was sprung from your heart unto life,” she mentioned, apparently distracted. Yet not at all.

    Whether he dissected the desire from this statement was a thing she waited to observe. For she would have words with this familiar stranger. Upon many a subject she could broach with nobody else.

    You remember me” she expected, raising but a single silver eyebrow. Best to start slowly.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 01/Aug/2017 at 10:16 PM. Reason: tidying

  13. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Slowpoke the Baby Turtle

    A small fingertip-like head protruded from a tiny glistening dark-green shell, as Slowpoke slowly turned his head to the left and right, checking if the scary red-haired monster was still there. Then suddenly, he heard a sharp shriek from upstairs. This scared the turtle, his tiny neck quivered in fear, as he hid within his shell again.

    He did not like strangers. Strangers wanted to pet his sensitive shell. But they poked and prodded too hard sometimes, so the baby turtle often hid. Once they left, Slowpoke would peek out to see the enclosed world around him. The brown sky, the blue barriers holding in his little lake that he enjoyed swimming in, the sand on the ground, and a grey rocky basin in the middle where he curled his tiny legs to sleep.

    His beady eyes widened, as the door opened and closed, and smelled a very familiar scent. Her favorite elf in the whole world was here again! His head, arms, legs, and tail popped out and crawled as fast as he could to greet her.


    The Monster Underneath His Bed
    Years of the Trees, Aman

    The scream seemingly shook the entire room, and Eärcúlinta, still blushing from the proximity, closed his eyes. The image, forever burned in his mind, of a fire-haired banshee with eyes and mouth wider than a maw, causing his own ears to ring from the screech. His face curled in disgust from smelling her breath, and leftover spit scattered everywhere on his face. When the raven-haired elf regained his bearings, he hurriedly wiped his face and lips, as if trying to rid poison from his skin.

    Then his eyes opened, and she was gone.

    But before Eärcúlinta could even fool himself to think the Aiwenare bachelorette fled, an angry muffled voice from was heard. She now literally became the monster underneath his bed. If he were calmer, he also would have heard the footsteps approaching the outside of his room.

    However, Eärcúlinta was not calm, even as Fëapoldië proposed a quite reasonable ruse to fool their parents.

    "You want me to apologize? I am surprised you still have suitors!" Eärcúlinta exclaimed, "and you already have a choice of husband? How depraved or foolish he must be..."

    He shook his head, wondering who in all of Valinor would ever willingly court such an intolerable elf!

    "I am your first then, to stand up to you?" Eärcúlinta asked, more to himself as he grimaced at the unsettling tap tap tap sound from the bed frame, "you associate yourself with cowards, womanizers, doormats, and fools."

    The raven-haired elf took a deep breath, as he groaned, lying on his bed. He slowly blinked, and mentally counted numbers and imagined happy thoughts. He considered the more reasonable part of Fëapoldië's proposition. That when their dates were arranged, they'd separate to their respective activities, and pretend to have enjoyed their make-believe date. A compromise, though Eärcúlinta knew they could not do such a thing all the time; that indeed he needed to spend time with an elf he could not stand! He wondered if he could somehow fix all of this, change it so he never attended Fëapoldië's party. Or before then, when he had the opportunity to court others, like the elf who lived on the slopes of Taniquetil.

    His thoughts were interrupted as a stone suddenly was thrown from underneath his bed, colliding against the wall with a thump. He heard Fëapoldië comment on how strange he was, which caused Eärcúlinta to roll his eyes. Then he heard her wince.

    "...are you okay?" Eärcúlinta asked, and felt a little guilt. Her face did look a little red, after all. Perhaps he should not have slapped her so hard, "I'm sorry for... you know."

    But before he could then respond to the question whether to include Menellinda in the ruse, the door opened.

    There the younger elf stood, face redder than an apple, carrying his walking stick.

    "y-y-you threw your walking stick outside again, brother," Menellinda stuttered nervously, as she placed it on the nearby wall. She looked around rapidly, trying not to look at the bed. She gave her brother a confused look, "where is Fëapoldië?"

    Then an alarmed look appeared on her face, as Menellinda pointed at him, "brother you idiot! You tried things too quickly!" she squeaked.

    "...huh?" Eärcúlinta asked, completely confused.

    "I heard you from the door. You two were talking about 'marriage', 'wants and desires', 'taking paths with the other', 'courtship', 'being each other's first'. I'm not st-stupid, brother!" Menellinda cried, as she quickly ran to the glass-less window, trying to jump up and see the outside of the house, "she *jump* leaped *jump* out *jump*, didn't she?" the raven-haired girl asked, "you must have scared her!"

    "No," Eärcúlinta responded calmly, very confused, "believe it or not she is underneath my bed." But he wondered why Fëapoldië had not immediately leaped out and did Fëapoldië-things.

    Then a cold realization hit him. The manuals that he had taken from his sister due to her being... too young for them, were also underneath his bed. If they were now in the redhead's hands...

    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 01/Aug/2017 at 01:11 PM.

  14. Bite of Winter II: Aileen's Quest - Interlude of the Moles

    - This particular
    segment is Private -

    Source Images:
    Isabelle Fuhrman
    , Nick Zano,

    Sea Sunset

    "But the folk of Maeglin were drawn up in the same place,
    and sable was their harness, but their round caps of steel were covered with moleskin, and they fought with axes two-headed like mattocks. There Maeglin prince of Gondolin gathered many arriors of dark countenance and lowering gaze about him, and a ruddy glow shone upon their faces and
    gleamed about the polished surfaces of their accoutrement."

    - Tolkien, from
    The Book of Lost Tales II:
    The Fall of Gondolin

    "Then the warriors of the Mole being more
    numerous than those few of the Swan Wing, and loyal to their lord,
    came at Tuor, and there were great blows."

    - Tolkien, from The Book of Lost Tales II: The Fall of Gondolin

    "The sign of this people was the Stricken Anvil...
    and red gold and black iron was their delight."
    - Tolkien, from
    The Book of Lost Tales II:
    The Fall of Gondolin

    "Shields also they made displaying
    the tokens of many houses and kindreds
    that vied with one another."
    - Tolkien, from
    The Silmarillion:
    Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

    - Source Image: Ian Bohen -

    Frery (January) 13th,
    Forlindon, 10 miles from Mithlond

    It was the kind of winter day which was gorgeously sunny but fearsomely cold and Hatholdir was complaining about it.

    írdan has a Ring of Power as Elrond bears so why doesn't he make this place warmer for Nienna's sake?" Hatholdir grumbled, painstakingly walking his horse toward the Grey Havens. The Dwarves had already cleared their own roads and were slowly ridding the elven paths of snow (purposely, Astaro assumed, just for the sake of habitual annoyance).

    "He gave Narya to Mithrandir centuries ago,"
    Astaro stated matter-of-factly, tipping the brim of his black cowboy hat lower to keep the bright sunlight out of his hazel eyes. "You would know that if you visited his court regularly, milord, and saw the Shipwright for yourself."

    "Whenever I approach his gates every guard forbids me entry."

    - I can not imagine why - mimed Hrango, a mute Elf, with a shrug of his broad shoulders. He smirked at Astaro who barely managed to restrain a chuckle.

    "Even if he did have Narya still,"
    continued Astaro, "its power is different than the magic of Vilya or Nenya. It does not preserve the natural beauty of the earth but moves hearts to courage."
    Astaro was close to his mother, a seer of the Tower of Snow, who married a Mole. By her tutelage he studied the lore of the world's ancient past.

    "Your mother will be upset you are coming back later than expected," Hatholdir reminded him fussily for the umpteenth time. "Her disappointment should encourage you to return swiftly. You may accompany Aileen as far as the Sea of Rh
    n with Hrango then you both must immediately sail home from Lindon. I care for Beren Camlost's daughter, too however, I need you two by my side more than she does."

    "There is a Lindonese patrol ahead,"
    Astaro was quick to mention, hoping to distract Hatholdir's attention. A thin column of smoke rose into the cloudless azure sky above the forest.

    "Dwarves, I hope,"
    muttered Hatholdir. There were plenty of people on the mainland of Middle-earth who wanted to kill Moles and quite a few of them, refugees of Gondolin, lived in the coastal realm.

    Astaro and Hrango accompanied Hatholdir deep into the pine woods. To their surprise it was not an elven patrol nor a Dwarven hunting party but a small troop of heavily-armed fur-clad humans which awaited them. Their tents were up and wolves were being roasted for lunch. Hatholdir noticed wooden warning signs nailed to surrounding conifers, a message from Dwarven trappers alerting their people and Elves alike that the hungry animals were stalking the woodland pathways. It must have been slim pickings for the beasts this cruel winter.

    Hatholdir smiled cheerfully at the Men and they waved cheerily back. They wished the Moles a happy new year and the Elves replied merrily in kind, using the Common Speech as they dismounted, having been invited to the meal.

    "I'll be happy when I catch myself a Mole,"
    said a stocky, bearded man. He sighed warily, taking off his coonskin cap to run a huge gloved palm over the silver threads streaking his unruly jet-black hair. "Been huntin' Moles up north but the blizzard got so dang bad we couldn't get through the Chetwood." he explained. "We heard some talk three of 'em might be headed back to Lindon real soon." He flashed a broad grin. "We're gonna wait for the Moles right here and jump 'em!"

    Astaro and Hrango said nothing, continuing to energetically eat the meat offered to them unless Hatholdir gave the order to attack.

    The Lord of the Moles, startled, coughed around his chewed food and accepted a hearty clap on the back from Hrango whose chocolate-brown eyes glittered with amusement. "I wish Erfaron was here," Hatholdir mused in thought a little sadly; these days his dear old friend missed the funniest moments the Mole trio experienced ashore. They needed more adventures together in the new year or drag Erfaron back to the island against his will, bound in a sack!

    swallowed the steaming beef then washed it down with heated blackberry melomel of Archet from a horn cup. "How do you know what they look like?"

    "They wear black clothes and got axes,"
    said the Molehunter, munching his seared food vigorously.

    "Like I do?" Hatholdir asked with a small innocent tone, widening his flaming blue eyes like a naughty child who knows he's truly guilty.

    said the Molehunter, squinting at the High Elf suspiciously. "But that's just fortta-tose."

    corrected Hatholdir gently. "Are you positively certain I'm not a Mole? As you pointed out before I wear black and have an axe."

    "They glare like the Devil!"
    shouted a rawboned Molehunter with a lot of missing teeth and no nose, probably Erfaron's handywork. "You could charm the One Ring off Sauron himself though with a smile like that, Mister Elf!"

    "I have a basilisk's stare, so I've been told,"
    admitted Hatholdir. He gave his best venemous snarl, pale cheeks reddening brightly, as he narrowed his glacial blue eyes coldly at the mercenaries.

    The bulky Molehunter gasped aloud, grabbing No Nose's bony limb in astonishment. "They got red faces like that!"

    cried Hatholdir goofily but lost his mirth an instant later when they went for their weapons. He flung his arms high and demanded his friends do the same. "C'mon, let's honor the spirit of the season and discuss this without resorting to bloodshed," implored Hatholdir affably, surprising both Astaro and Hrango who were each going for concealed knives. "I happen to be a very rich Elf. I am sure I can pay everyone more than what was previously arranged. I consider myself foremost a businessman, not a killer." Astaro and Hrango shook their heads in exasperation. Hatholdir gave them a wink, smugly grinning, to assure them of his control of the situation.

    "I assume a Gondolin survivor with no love of Moles hired you all to kill us?" supposed Hatholdir. "I imagine it is a sniveling coward who doesn't like getting his own hands dirty."

    "Nenmor, elven crab fisher of Forlond,"
    answered Coonhat forthrightly. He kept his palm clutched tight around his broadsword's baskethilt.

    "You know him?"
    wondered Astaro.

    "I'm fairly certain I have a sordid history with every Elf who wants us dead,"
    guessed Hatholdir blithely. "I killed Nenmor's nephew, one of Tuor's guards in the Swan Wing, back in Gondolin. The boy tried to kill me so I had to defend myself, you must understand."

    "Of course,"
    Astaro fiercely replied. He was a young Mole who had not been raised in Gondolin but still he was forced, numerous times, to protect himself from those who would destroy him for his hated lineage.

    "His niece, the first Molehunter, stalked many us down and would have taken my head were it not for my wife - her own best friend - who guarded my life." Hatholdir's raven brows beetled together as he considered the situation grimly for a moment. "Nenmor is still holding a grudge and wants me murdered." He shot Coonhat a questioning look, asking how much he was worth.

    "Four hundred thousand gold sails,"
    said the sellsword, handing the crumpled contract over for the Moles to see.

    Hatholdir gasped...then he gritted his teeth, tearing the parchment in half. "Did
    Nenmor tell you who I am?" he demanded, throwing the shreds of paper into the campfire.

    "A M-molel-lord,"
    Coonhat stuttered, stumbling away, fearing the arrogant High Elf's sudden rage.

    Hatholdir yelled with hysterical stridency. He stared at the man through a scarlet haze clouding his smoking eyes until Hrango settled one mighty hand on his friend's shoulder soothingly.

    "His death should be worth at least five times that much,"
    said Astaro, likewise affronted, as Hatholdir gradually collected himself. "As they say in Bree, sir, you got suckered."

    "Only C
    írdan himself could afford as much besides myself and possibly Mordagnir," said Hatholdir, moleskin gloves laced behind back. "Sorry to disappoint you all," he said wryly, , "but I am a man of my word. Open an account at the Ravenwood Bank in Archet and I will compensate everyone for their trouble." Hatholdir's hard, glowing blue eyes gleamed like winter ice as he gave each man a handsome amount of money as a down payment. "Find others to serve and never stalk Moles again because my people will hunt you all to the edge of the earth and they will not let anyone die quickly."

    "I'm goan get outta this Molehuntin business fo sho!"
    declared No Nose to small grunts of approval. He latched onto Coonhat desperately. "Erfierang-"

    Astaro interrupted, correcting him properly, chuckling.

    "- said he was goan tear me apart real slow if I squared up with him again. If he hears I was goan kill the Lord of the Moles, Mr Lamp Eyes goan make me pay in spades! That Erfierang, why, he's meaner than an Orc and his bite's twice as bad as an adder's! HOLY COW!"

    "Don't I know it," said a barrel-chested Molehunter in a lame montone, looking pathetically at his left hand. Only two fingers were left on it, the pinky and thumb... No one could say Erfaron didn't have a sense of humor.

    "These Moles won't say nothin, I reckon, if we best light out of these here parts,"
    rumbled Coonhat finally, shaking Hatholdir's hand. "Thanks for the coin we get now. We'll need some of the money for a few nights at the Pony. It'll be a long ride back to Bree and we'll be travel-sore."

    The Moles continued their journey to the Grey Havens in silence. It was broken by Astaro, naturally.
    "We cannot allow Nenmor to continue hiring Molehunters."

    Hrango agreed as he struck the air with a big fist repeatedly, large nostrils flaring.

    "We will have a few drinks at Girion's inn and wait for my daughter's arrival."
    She was sailing into the bay aboard Halamorna, Hatholdir's flagship, to bring her father and his friends home. "I should have a talk with my little girl about the crab fisher..." Hatholdir smiled a devilish, conspiratorial grin at his chums. "Alagossel has been itching to prove her loyalty and usefulness for a long time..."

    Frery (January) 15th,
    Forlindon, Port Forlond

    Nenmor zigzagged almost drunkenly along the gravel lane of his family's beach cottage. The snow was gone and the rain had fallen heavily for days, changing to sleet this very evening. The temperature was unbearably freezing and the howling wind shrieked like a cat from hell. Black roiling clouds filled the skies above Lindon, shielding
    rdan's beautiful land from the fair sparkle of the silver moon.

    The radiance of the crab fisher's green eyes faded. He was thinner than an Elf should be, having not eaten in days. When his grieving wife urged him, weeping, to take his supper his stomach violently rejected it. He walked from his business near the quays with a listless tread. Nenmor
    hardly spoke to anyone inside the seafood restaurant he owned today, his commands curtailed by long melancholy pauses and shrill wails of abject misery. His lieutenant managers, teary-eyed, begged him to just go home.

    His precious daughter he had been planning a wedding for was murdered recently. Her betrothed had been foully killed, too. The Lindon Guard suspected evil Dwarves from the East or brigands up from the Greenway were responsible for the heinous crime; unlike Rivendell and Lothl
    órien, Lindon was not hidden from people and had vulnerable open borders. Honestly, Nenmor did not care who the culprits were...he just wanted his little girl back.

    Fumbling with his keys, Nenmor slumped against the cherrywood door but to his shock it was unlocked and gave way. He fell inside with a grunt and called out for his woman, Menelhiril, but she did not answer. Odd, considering the cozy living room was already lighted for the night. Pursing his lips, Nenmor quietly pushed the door closed and limped to the kitchen, smelling dinner.

    His fear mounted, heart beating wildly, as he heard the familar hymn of the Moles on his wife's flute, harp, and violin upstairs. The mournful, darkly majestic music of The Mines of Maeglin which Salgant and Meril Duvain composed long ago was a particular favorite of the Moles. It haunted him ever since the Gates of Summer; it was the song he heard just before minions, allies of Maeglin's house, had launched their fateful attack on the beloved city.

    Nenmor desperately flung back the carved sliding door and choked back a scream. Hatholdir, Lord of the Moles, was sitting beside Menelhiril who sat at the candlelit dining table, already dead. The blonde elleth's bright, sightless grey eyes were still open and her full lips were parted stiffly in a rictus of pain and astonishment.

    His wife's killler filled a pewter cup with the blood flowing from her white throat. Hatholdir took a long, satisfying sip and pleasurably licked the ruby liquid from his mouth. The imposing noble, whose emblem in the Undying Lands was a bat before his tokens became a hammer and a mole in Gondolin, exuberantly mouthed "delicious!"

    Hatholdir's low, demented chuckling destroyed Nenmor's sanity. He charged at the Mole Lord, wringing the air with maddened gripping movements, but he staggered to the carpet with a voiceless cry of defeat. Nenmor cringed in a fetal position and wept bitterly.

    "You killed everyone I have loved,"
    he accused Hatholdir between sobs that wracked his scrawny frame.

    "They were hunted down as my people were!"
    Hatholdir triumphantly retorted. He swept at the tiny crimson rivulets streaming down his chin and sneered at Nenmor. "As the Umbarians say, quid pro quo, this for that." The symphony of the Moles became stronger and less dreary sounding, embodying the strength and malevolence of Maeglin's house. "The threat your family poised against mine has now ended and soon you will die as well."

    "Make this quick,"
    rasped Nenmor, ridding stinging tears with a firm brush of his sleeve. He turned to look behind him as he heard the kitchen door opening. Three mysterious figures in black - Moles, no doubt - entered the room, their faces concealed by Dwarven warmasks built of luminous red-gold. Three of them played Menelhiril's instruments, making no move to assail him.

    "It will not be me, I had my fun."
    Hatholdir chortled faintly with a sly grin. "This is a training excercise for a little Mole...Nam
    árie, mellon nin." Hatholdir lazily pointed at a Mole with the slight build of a female child standing between the man with a lean wiry build and the other who had a wide, hulking stature.

    The small girl tossed Menelhiril's violin aside. She took a misericorde of red-gold and black iron from her cloak, the weapon lambently glimmering with a vermillion luster. With her other hand, she ripped the warmask from her face. Alagossel, Hatholdir's pallid daughter perhaps no older than twelve summers, rushed forward with a cherubic smile that was somehow terrifying. With a resigned expression he didn't stop the brutal thrust of her short-bladed weapon she drove though the side of his neck.

    "You are not finished, my darling,"
    softly chided Hatholdir when she looked up at him adoringly; this was her first kill. "Erfaron will not believe how ruthless you have become without evidence," Hatholdir assumed. "Choose what you wish to show him."

    She did not hesitate. Alagossel gouged out Nenmor's eyes and severed his pointed ears.

    uttered Hatholdir, caressing her cheek. "Most impressive, sweetling." He ordered Astaro and Hrango to burn the house, wanting this to look like a suicide; with the home destroyed and the elven bodies charred, no one would expect what had truly happened to the doomed couple. "We have to go," he murmured to Alagossel as the Moles put wood and cloth to the torches they removed from the wood-pannelled walls. He observed the Elf-girl's slender chest heaving with excitment as she looked haughtily over her writhing, mutilated prey. "Remember, for as long as you live, to always clean your blade."

    As her gaze matched his, she obediently tasted the scarlet juice slicking her dagger but the greedy thirst of the Mole Princess was not sated yet. Alagossel smoothly dropped to the floor and roughly yanked Nenmor's head back. She eagerly drank from the torrent spurting out of his wound, the guttering torchlight reflected as golden dancing specks in her pitiless ebony eyes.

    "Oh, my, you
    are Daddy's little monster," Hatholdir marvelled under his breath, rolling his palm over her silken onyx hair, as a tremendous surge of pride flowed through him.


    Last edited by Beren Camlost; 04/Oct/2017 at 06:07 AM.
    "There is no / Life I know / To compare with pure imagination."

  15. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    You Never had a Friend like Me .. (Semi-Private)

    Once I was seven years old, my momma told me,
    go make yourself some friends, or you’ll be lonely.
    Once I was seven years old ...

    It was a big, big world, but we thought we were bigger.
    Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker …
    Something about the glory, just always seemed to bore me
    ‘Cos only those I really love will ever really know me ..

    (Seven Years Old, Lukas Graham)

    Menellótë Lindesûl
    Water and Ice – with ‘the other’ Menelote
    Alqualondë, YT

    Words tumbled from the lips of Menelote as might fishes carry in an undercurrent. Her tirade stampeded her spectator’s roots of understanding and dragged at the bell-maker’s daughter, threatening to bear her out to some yet nameless fathom of the almighty ocean. Such an unknown entity of a thing, but what might she discover out there in that place she had never ventured before now ? Menellótë was not entirely horrified at the prospect. For how else was a soul expected to learn and grew than to believe what they already think to know behind them ?

    The fish-hunter’s daughter seemed though disappointed when Menellótë did not submit her hand hastily unto the bonds of friendship. It was a lot to ask, of one who had until now given so little of herself to others. Could she concede to merge in a shiny new blend of the two maids with so similar a name ? Compromise was not an option she usually addressed, and she did not make decisions in urgency. She had not taken the time to ponder these new notions and their worth. Yet. And so she turned over each word in her own head, recognising in her own time what the other girl was saying.

    The Vanyar are ever counted first in all things, not because they are our betters, but because their kind were the first to wake in Cuiviénen,” the silver-haired child perused what lessons she had learnt thus far. “Yet those born of Vanyar blood in the years after our conception will yet be counted as Vanyar; and the latterly born will yet be counted as first, before us.

    The principle of this, the more that she thought of it, seemed to make less sense. She sat back down from where she had stood up. The enormity of such an education was a thing of such a weight. Menellótë laid down her satchel and threw back her head that she might see the bigger picture, as though it were etched across the heavens, pin-pointed by stars.

    Olwë, Finwë, Ingwë,” she poked her tongue about the inside of her jaw, in contemplation. “They are ever counted as our Kings because they were the first to dare the perilous journey, the first to come unto the Blessed Land, the first to see and know and tell of all they had seen there. The children of Kings are counted to be Kings in their turn, and yet they have accomplished naught but to be raised up by those who did. If a noble raises up an Elf who is not born of their blood, that should make him equally as capable of leading, for he has been endowed with the same advantages and education as the true-born sons of that noble teacher. And yet we are held apart,

    The fish-hunter’s daughter seized back all attention from their interchange of thoughts. Menelote performed a feat of impressive co-ordination, demonstrating how she had caught fish. The dark-haired elleth summoned up intrigue in the heart of her silver-haired counterpart. Baby steps she spoke of. Baby steps come first. That word again. First …

    Menellótë recovered her feet, straightening in an ascent toward the sky so that she stood tall and proud. And sure. Her satchel she forsook upon the ground. The hand of friendship had been extended for a second time, following a further invitation of quite what it meant. Would she like to come and learn something she had not thought to learn before, but now was quite enthralled by ?

    I could like,” she allowed, completing the ritual of their new bond. The two hands swam about each pale wrist and secured the girls. A sacred oath to all that they might be together. “I believe I shall. Let us though celebrate our swear with the fruits of our labour. First

    She proposed that they dine together upon the fish and mark the occasion of their friendship with the blend of a painting – of two girls. It would be a depiction of their bond and a dream of the future to stand their promise. They might do that. First ..

    The bell-maker’s daughter was coming to like that word more and more. First. It implied there would be more to come thereafter.


    Menellótë Silosse
    Home of the Palestar, Tirion-Upon-Tuna, YT

    The domed tower rose aloft, mounting a majestic testiment to Aule across all the city skyline. Clad in the glorious livery of meticulously polished granite, the building was as durable as it was aesthetic; dominating all other establishments in that quarter of the Noldorin capital, save one alone. For its hardy foundations were laid in strict alignment to the tapering pinnacle of one spire from a seven-pronged, star-shaped manse - the heart of the Palestar dynasty. It was of this unrivalled nest of artisans which had hatched Sarnir, named often Erondo, who shared his epesse with the home his kin had erected, to keep him never far from where he had begun.*

    Beneath a lattice of ribbed rafters which were erected at some excessive heights, there traversed a passage, flanked by galleries of blind arcade on either side. The prestigious hall of welcome had been architected toward drawing marvel from all who spent but a moment there, the elaborately detailed frieze depicted the entire legend of his forefathers' journey from Endor to the Blessed Land, the origins of his people, and the undesguised result of many decades to produce the perfect rendition of stories he'd been raised on. Times were that he had stood himself about deep reflection, and knew great pride and contentment at crafting a piece of history himself. But not this day. This day he scarce afforded his illustrious labours a moments glance. There were other things upon his mind.*

    Menellótë had likewise relinquished her habits, not only by electing to wed a Noldo and relocate to his sequestered domain, far far from the ocean; but this day she had neglected her painting and collages. There was little in the walled city of artisans which might usually keep her from her glad vocation. Little save her son, and his father. For she saw so rarely others, lest they be her husband’s kin. And clients. Often there were clients. Sarnir sent away as many as he indulged with agreeing employment. They were thus less than willing to interact with her after such insult. It was an infuriating matter of some pedantic practice which the sculptor exercised, for the most part to incite demand. By declaring openly that only an elite few might treasure the exquisite works of his hand, such a store was set upon his masterpieces, that a great majority craved to be counted in that fortunate minority. As though to exceed in this assiduous ambition, Sarnir had taken a day from his work, allowing for the distraction of an unlikely visitor. His wife ought to have been relieved that he found a friend. At last. Except that she knew how Lícumorner crowed about his being so accepted and welcome in the tower of Erondo. She was not without doubt as to the candlemaker’s intentions. What he wanted with her husband she could only and did not dare guess at.

    The intrusion that had thwarted her own designs this day was not the same and unwelcome guest. It was, however, a friend. Whilst preying for supplies about their vast nest of various resources, Menellótë had come across a painting. It was of some years ago, and yet age could not marr the emotion that the childish portrait summoned. She had conjured this work with another, with Menelote, back in Alqualonde.

    Coming across it now, she felt guilt, naked, vulnerable. As though her old self might actually be observing her in all of her accusatory trappings. The engaging stare of the young, innocent, bell-maker’s daughter threw their silent allegations out at their wealthy counterpart.

    All of the significance of friendship now besieged her. All the aspiration and the ambition of two pure little souls who had dared imagine how their lives would turn out. Menelote had married too, she recounted, now prompted. Earcolante was one of the eldest Noldor, a Tatyar warrior of the old lands whose very existence pre-dated all of the gratifying splendour that the Elves born of Aman took for granted. It was no surprise that the fish-hunter’s daughter had come to find him such a mate of attunement. There had been talk back when both of their marriages were in infancy, that they should betroth their eldest children. The bond should have been held to the mutual descendants. But it had not come to be. Both of the little girls had grown to be a mother to a first-born son. And as they had each embraced this new role that their younger selves had never entertained, their oath of friendship by been usurped, by the bonds of blood, a love set apart.

    Obstinacy seized the reins of Menellótë’s intentions. Fleeing from that unearthed wonder, she vowed that the wealth of friendship ought not remain buried. Her son idolised his father, and the notion of his abiding through life, like the socially-inept Sarnir broke that mother’s heart. Nay, he should know friendship. He would know the arts in which his father AND his mother both might instruct him. She knew exactly where he might be found. The son and the father same. Now, with Lícumorner present as her witness and her alibi the both, she would broach the subject and find her husband hard pressed to deny her.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 03/Nov/2017 at 10:37 PM.

  16. The Bottom of the Pit

    "Its ruin was the most dread of all the sacks of
    cities upon the face of the Earth."

    - Tolkien, from
    The Book of Lost Tales II:
    The Fall of Gondolin

    “They, looking back...beheld
    Paradise, so late their happy seat,
    Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
    With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
    Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
    The world was all before them, where to choose
    Their place of rest...
    They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

    Through Eden took their solitary way.”
    - John Milton, from Paradise Lost

    He left it in thy power.
    - John Milton, from Paradise Lost

    __________________________________________________ ___________

    - Source Image: The Escape from Gondolin, the great Ted Nasmith -

    __________________________________________________ _______

    Just a young gun with a quick fuse
    I was uptight, wanna let loose
    I was dreaming of bigger things
    And wanna leave my own life behind
    Fit the box, fit the mold
    Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
    I was lightning before the thunder
    Thunder, thunder
    Thunder, thun', thunder
    Thun-thun-thunder, thunder, thunder
    Thunder, feel the thunder
    - Imagine Dragons,Thunder

    7,049 YEARS AGO

    A Note for the Reader:
    This segment will be included in Shattered Realms,
    the forthcoming RP in my long-running Ages of Arda RPG
    series, concerning two epic events of Middle-earth:
    The Ruin of Doriath and the Fall of Gondolin.
    Some material in this passage such as Hatholdir attaining
    Anguirel as the right to rule the Moles was suggested by Ercassie.

    Beleg chose Anglachel; and that was a sword
    of great worth, and it was so named because it was
    made of iron that fell from heaven as a blazing star;
    it would cleave all earth-delved iron. One other sword
    only in Middle-earth was like to it. That sword does not
    enter into this tale, though it was made of the same
    ore by the same smith; and that smith was
    Eol the Dark Elf, who took Aredhel Turgon's
    sister to wife. He gave Anglachel to Thingol
    as fee, which he begrudged, for leave to
    dwell in Nan Elmoth; but its mate Anguirel
    he kept, until it was stolen from him by Maeglin, his son.
    But as Thingol turned the hilt of Anglachel towards Beleg, Melian
    looked at the blade; and she said: "There is malice in this sword.
    The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it."

    - Tolkien, from
    The Silmarillion:
    Of Turin Turambar

    And from the blade rang a cold voice in answer:
    'Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, that so I may
    forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the
    blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly.'
    - Tolkien, from
    The Silmarillion:
    Of Turin Turambar

    Waking, the first emotion he felt was searing pain.

    Hatholdir gasped, arching his back. Blood spilled over his armored hand when he touched his wounded side. His head ached terribly. He remembered why. The mighty blow of Tuor's axe, Dramborleg, penetrated his mail. Mordagnir had taken advantage of Hatholdir's startlement, violently lifting him. As he was thrown over the battlements, Hatholdir saw Aigronding turn the glittering azure blade of Valadring above Erfaron's head...

    The ache in his chest now had nothing to do with his ghastly wound. "Not all of us," he rasped, rising shakily from the stony earth of Amon Gwareth. Suddenly, his frantic heartbeat quickened, recalling the reason for his impassioned charge at the Wing-lord's door. Maeglin fell. Maeglin burned. Maeglin died -

    No. It was inconcievable! He felt hot tears rolling from his sapphire eyes and knew their escape had nothing to do with the heat of the raging inferno. He called out for Maeglin, staggering down the slope. A persistent whispering voice, hissing with an almost snake-like resonance, drew him closer to a great pillar of fire. Hatholdir heard the honeyed voice of his lover, Miluiwen, over the din of battle and the screams of dying Elves...he ignored it. Again she called out desperately to him, closer now, and, spun him bodily around. She pressed her mouth fiercely against his own. Instead of responding with as much ardor he pushed her firmly away, snarling like a rabid animal.

    Miluiwen looked up at Hatholdir blinkingly for a moment before reaching out to him. "Let me take care of you," begged the small blonde elleth urgently, the softness of her melodic voice seeming at odds with the bloody iron-studded club she clutched right-handed. The doe-eyed woman flinched when Hatholdir slapped her tender palms off his injured chest.

    "I need to take care of someone,"
    he sharply retorted, emphasis on I.

    "Me?" she asked quietly, her sweet murmur nearly misheard in the pandemonium, as she nimbly leaped up to embrace him.

    "My chieftain,"
    snapped Hatholdir. He tossed her aside like a toy he was sick of playing with. Miluiwen, wailing, vanished in the black drifting fumes of the blaze and the wafting steam of the city's fair withered fountains. He stalked woodenly forward, obeying the summons of the mysterious sibilant speaker.

    Once guided to the huge towering flame, Hatholdir looked into the sparkling brilliance of the lone column of fire...and shivered, mouth agape. He fell to his knees in dreadful astonishment, staring at Maeglin's charred body.

    "No." One word he wanted to scream but uttered in a low, brittle tone. He pummelled the hard floor of the solitary hill with his strong balled fists in rage and looked guiltily over his shoulder. The Balrogs continued shooting fiery sinuous darts on elegant houses and picturesque gardens till every home was blackened and all the beautiful trees were smoldering. Flowers of imcomparable loveliness were scorched and the pale wonder of soaring colonnades resembled the darkness of the Timeless Void.

    "I can never atone for this,"
    Hatholdir muttered bleakly.

    "Taking all the credit?"
    asked a familar sardonic voice. It had a serpent's sibilance, the same wicked sibilation which had drawn him to Maeglin's pyre.

    Hatholdir slowly lowered his gaze on Anguirel, the sword of his lord. It laid near the Dark Prince's corpse, the edges of its black blade aglint with luminous pale fire. The weapon was of great worth, forged of star-iron like its mate Anglachel and the malice of Eo
    l's evil heart was in it. Maeglin had often spoke of Anguirel's sentience but never before had Hatholdir witnessed it speaking until now. With his attention absorbed by the marvel of Anguirel's sinister voice, cold as the vacuum of the ebony space beyond the Circles of the World, Hatholdir didn't notice dozens of surviving Moles surrounding him watchfully in a crescent line with Meluiwen and Hrango.

    "Alas for Maeglin, son of my master!"
    Anguirel cried mournfully. With a frightening suddenness, the voice of the strange blade regained its strength. "A new hand must wield me. Yours may be sufficient..."

    The hilt of the weapon shifted itself, the long handle facing Hatholdir expectantly. Taken aback, he was unaware of the Moles in reverence behind him, waiting to be commanded. Meluiwen herself appeared, taking a knee as well albeit uncertainly...

    When Hatholdir arose with the sword, Anguirel's mysterious white luster shone anew with a purple vibrancy.

    "Hail, Hatholdir, Lord of the Moles!"
    Maeglin's throng chorused in unison, the loudness of their joyful noise ringing off lofty disintegrating walls and rising high above the roaring of dragons.


    “Now the thought
    Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
    Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
    That witnessed huge affliction and dismay
    Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate."
    - John Milton, Paradise Lost

    "Devil with devil damned

    Firm concord holds."
    - John Milton, Paradise Lost

    “All is not lost, the unconquerable will,
    and study of revenge, immortal hate,
    and the courage never to submit or yield.”

    - John Milton, Paradise Lost

    Then Satan entered Judas.
    - Luke 22:3

    - Source Image: Ian Bohen -

    First things first
    I'mma say all the words inside my head
    I'm fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
    The way that things have been, oh ooh
    Second things second
    Don't you tell me what you think that I could be
    I'm the one at the sail, I'm the master of my sea, oh ooh
    The master of my sea, oh ooh
    My life, my love, my drive, it came from...
    Last things last
    By the grace of the fire and the flames
    You're the face of the future, the blood in my veins, oh ooh

    - Imagine Dragons, Believer

    Kids were laughing in my classes
    While I was scheming for the masses
    Who do you think you are?
    Dreaming 'bout being a big star
    They say you're basic, they say you're easy
    You're always riding in the backseat
    Now I'm smiling from the stage
    I was lightning before the thunder
    Imagine Dragons, Thunder

    "Better to reign in hell."
    - John Milton, Paradise Lost

    A Year Later
    The Mountains of Mithrim

    They [The Moles of Maeglin] were smitten and driven
    to fly into what dark holes they might, or flung from the walls.
    - Tolkien, from The Book of Lost Tales II: The Fall of Gondolin

    "The realm of Fingon was no more /
    To Hithlum came back never one of Fingon's host /
    The remnant of the Eldar of Hithlum were taken
    to the mines of the north and laboured there as thralls,
    save some that eluded him and
    escaped into the wilds and the mountains."
    - Tolkien, from The Silmarillion:
    Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad

    "The realm of Fingon is no more."
    "You are right,
    mellon, it belongs to us now."
    - Asgar (Astaro's father) and Hatholdir

    Now the number of women was few because of their hiding /
    They were burned or slain or taken and enthralled, and the
    rescue-parties found them too seldom; and it is the greatest ruth
    to think of this, for the maids and women of the Gondolithrim were
    as fair as the sun and as lovely as the moon and brighter than the stars."

    - Tolkien, from The Book of Lost Tales II: The Fall of Gondolin

    - Source Image: The exquisitely beautiful Anne Hathaway -

    When your dreams all fail
    And the ones we hail
    Are the worst of all
    And the blood’s run stale

    I want to hide the truth
    I want to shelter you
    But with the beast inside
    There’s nowhere we can hide

    No matter what we breed
    We still are made of greed
    This is my kingdom come
    This is my kingdom come

    Don’t want to let you down
    But I am hell bound

    - Imagine Dragons, Demons

    "You're doing it wrong,"
    said Hatholdir to Meluiwen with a cold tinge to his voice however shiningly the High Elf's blue eyes glowed with amusement. He laid his pickaxe aside and sauntered over to lay his rough hands softly on her toned arms. With a flirtacious smile ghosting across his lips, Hatholdir pressed his broad chest against her slim body from behind. He dexterously guided her motions, helping to pry the large glittering mauve jewel from out of the rocky wall of the tunnel.

    The Mole survivors who fled from the wrath of the Wing hunters were slowly rebuilding their lives in the Mountains of Ered Mithrim which Hatholdir discovered for them. Many of the elven citadels of Prince Fingon and High King Fingolfin were abandoned. The Moles commandeered these and search parties went forth from them to gather more refugees of Maeglin's house fleeing the wrath of vengeful Gondolindrim and prowling monsters of Morgoth.

    Plenty of Elves of Hithlum which escaped the mines of Ered Engrin were kindly received by the Moles and were welcomed to join their communities in the range they had taken for their own if they did not judge them for Maeglin's betrayal of Turgon's city. Caverns were explored and new tunnels were made by Hatholdir's order so the Moles would continue doing what they did best, teach new members, establish underground homes for themselves although their prowess never reached the granduer of Menegroth since there were no Dwarves to grandly aid their endeavors.

    They had neighbors, the mortals of Harmony Vale located in the southern slopes of Ered Wethrin. The Moles traded with them and had a rather pleasant friendship with the villagers. Its leaders - Harmmond Falconis the Burned Eagle, the Galerida family, and Gostir the bear skinchanger - were planning with him to one day help the Edain of Hithlum and the Haladin of Brethil overthrow the Easterlings someday if Aman never marshalled its powerful angelic and elven forces. "The Moles will provide training to the mortals so they may dethrone Morgoth," Hatholdir had merrily assumed. "They will have their revenge for the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and we will find forgiveness for the Fall of Gondolin." Having after declared this, Meluiwen tossed back yer yellow curls with a laugh. Hatholdir wasn't sure why still.

    "Milord, I have returned from patrol."

    Hatholdir paused, turning to look at the young, dark-haired Mole striding into the tunnel. The Elf-boy with sharp, aquiline features and arresting mossy-green eyes had been ordered to look primarily for Mole children in the wilderness and to bring them into the new realm of Maeglin's Elves. Balrogs had killed his parents. Asgar decided to stick with his own kind, afraid he wouldn't be accepted by the youth of other Houses who went with Idril and Tuor. Hatholdir had taken Asgar under his wing, becoming a surrogate father of sorts.

    He grew upset when he saw Asgar's sweetheart, Gwilbrin, trembling a step behind him, her lissome arms wrapped tightly around his muscular torso. She was a fragile beauty, pale and smooth as the marble of Gondolin. She had large, expressive hazel eyes which complimented her flawless ivory complexion and her full lips were as red as Echoriath rubies. It was summertime still and the Elf-girl seemed like she had been keeping well fed - Asgar had her bow and quiver in his possession - but she certainly hadn't been keeping herself clean. Her rippling alabaster hair was now lank and wet, clinging to her snowy skin. The diaphanous lavander gown of Nariel's she must have been wearing for weeks was tattered and filthy.

    "I found Gwilbrin bathing herself in the Sirion River,"
    Asgar calmly explained, his cheeks reddening. "She has no one but me. Her parents were killed by Orcs when they tried protecting Lord Penlod with other defenders of the Pillar and Tower of Snow." The boy was slowly flexing his white-knuckled hand around the pommel of his sword, a nervous movement Hatholdir had become accustomed to. He was afraid and for good reason; Gwilbrin - the quiet, unassuming daughter of a bookbinder and glassblower in Gondolin - had been Aimira's scholary apprentice for nearly forty years. Hatholdir's hatred of the Mordagnirs was well known.

    Hatholdir sauntered over, smiling wickedly, as he heard the pickaxes of the Moles silencing in curious fascination. What would their lord do with this outsider, a friend of their enemies? Undoubtedly many of them believed this sylph-like Elf-girl to be an omen of bad luck. Her father's Amanian symbol, an
    owl, embodied ill fortune as infamouly as it was praised as a token of wisdom.

    "What good is water without soap, my dear?"
    Hatholdir dryly remarked, leaning against a stalagmite. He touched several damp strands of her silvery hair and raised them to his nose only to flinch in utter repugnance. A flicker of dark amusement curved one side of his mouth as she latched desperately onto him. "We have that in abundance here, one of the goods we trade with the nearby humans for," Hatholdir assured her, lowering her small clutching hands. "You would find comfort and sanctuary among us, yes, if I permitted you to be sheltered here." He slowly walked around her like a shark circling its prey, his trim frame brightly illuminated in the light of golden lanterns hanging from the cavern walls. "Your survival now solely depends on the answers you give me for I have two very important questions to ask you, Gwilbrin."

    She meekly curtsied. "I will tell you anything there is to know," she answered in a sweet, trembling voice.

    "Is Erfaron alive and where are the Mordagnirs, child?"
    he demanded, straight to the point. The Moles, whispering to each other about the son of Silosse, crowded closely around Hatholdir and Gwilbrin. One of the quarrymen spat audibly, no doubt in loathing of Itanoeva's noble house, breaking the dreadful stillness which had descended over the passage.

    Gwenbril stared dumbly at Hatholdir, tears beginning to roll from her glassy pale-gold eyes. She was obviously reluctant to betray the Mordagnirs and Feapoldie's daughter; they had always been so kind, even Tirindo. She swallowed around the lump in her throat, beads of sweat trickling down the nape of her neck, took a calming breath, and forced a doll-like smile. "Erfaron is alive, Aigronding spared his life."

    Hatholdir's smug composure nearly broke. He visibly bit his lip, overcome with emotion, and gripped Meluiwen's hand tightly when he felt her loving palm holding his broad shoulder. "Thank you," he uttered huskily, briefly cupping the Elf-girl's cheek. She seemed to relax and for the slightest moment they both looked at each other warmly, seeming to think the better of one another for a split second. Hatholdir exerted a cruel pressure on her face. Gwenbril's delicate satin skin flushed darkly beneath the firm press of his hand. "You have one more answer for me."

    Gwenbril shook like a slender tree in a Falas hurricane, glancing at Asgar, and loosed a mousy squeak when Hatholdir gave her a shake. "Do not look at him. He will not save you; his loyalty belongs to me first. You should realize by now it was a mistake to leave the side of angels because instead -" Hatholdir's cackling, evil laughter echoed throughout the glittering tunnel "- you made the foolish choice of running to the Devil himself!"

    "Enough, melindo," Meluiwen insisted.

    Hatholdir snarled, viciously backhanding her. The resounding blow of his brutal slap drove her to the rocky floor. She cringed, delicately feeling her bleeding mouth. Meluiwen whimpered when he seized her yellow hair, glaring venomously. "You really need to learn when to shut up," Hatholdir warned Meluiwen through gritted teeth. He allowed Hrango to gather her into his comforting, brawny arms then turned his burning blue gaze on Gwenbril once more.

    I'm going to kill her, he mused darkly, stroking the hilt of Anguirel but the Sword of Maeglin forbade the hasty decision.

    Give her an ultimatum, she could be useful,
    counselled the blade wisely.

    Oh, very well. Hatholdir stifled a sigh and growled like a warg. "You have two choices," he told Gwilbrin flatly. "You tell me where they're lurking or-"

    "You let me wheedle it out of her!"

    Hatholdir blinked twice as the sound of a thunderbolt crackled suddenly. Watching Gwilbren being swiftly dragged away, he realized the startling noise had come from the ear-splitting snap of Idrisaith's silvery bullwhip of kine rawhide. Hrango's grinning wife entered the cavern with a catlike grace, pulling the squealing Elf-girl inexorably to her gleaming black tooled boots. She was an effervescent, curvaceous elleth with long dark hair and a lovely oval face. The Mole-lady wore a short black leather dress embellished fancily with black lace. Her gold teardrop ruby earrings and manicured red nails sparkled in the lanternlight.

    "I was going to throw her off the nearest cliff but a slow, painful death may be just what she deserves," Hatholdir admitted agreeably. He made a smug, evil grin noticing Gwenbril's full lips speechlessly moving. "What, dear? You thought those dead Elves crucified along the southernmost slope was my handiwork?"

    giggled Idrisaith, batting her long ebony lashes, "I can't take all the credit, milord." She blew Meluiwen a sisterly kiss. "Thanks for the carpentry lesson, mellon!"

    "Well?" barked Hatholdir, jostling Gwenbril's shoulder. "If you want me to trust you, I need something to prove your where your true allegiance lies. You could be spying for the Mordagnirs for all I know!" He released her, waving grandly at the grim Moles. "I must protect my people. I will not let you endanger their lives!" His voice took on a sharp edge. The High Elf's imposing figure glimmering now in snaking arcs of eerie carnelian energy and his piercingly bright blue eyes gleamed effulgently red. "We have been killed and we are still being hunted! This place is the last refuge of the Moles. You are not one of us but you are welcome to survive here and be with the man you love if something is given up." Anguirel hissed like a dragon, its black-and-violet blade flashing into the cool air from Hatholdir's red-gold scabbard. The pointy end scraped her weeping face, drawing a thin trickle of blood. "Your friends or your life!"

    Sheer delightment pulsed through his nerves, watching Gwenbril looking desperately at Asgar. He stood with a rigid stance with muscled arms crossed, expressionless. He wanted her but Asgar was a man of unflagging devotion to his lord and house; he wouldn't betray his sovereign or his brethren for a mere slip of a girl. Even Hrango who tried so hard to be the moral compass of the Moles, had literally turned his back on Gwenbril once he had nodded at with his wife as if allowing her permission.

    Idrisaith slid the tip of her tongue over her rouged mouth in anticipation, one beringed hand reaching out with the suddenness of a viper. She hauled Gwenbril up and slammed her against the stony wall of the tunnel. Idrisaith tightened her strong grip around Gwenbril's throat and let out a soft melodic laugh, watching the Elf-girl futilely struggle against the older woman's strength. She tried madly in vain to pry Idrisaith's fingers off her neck, prompting Hatholdir to order her release.

    Gwenbril dropped into a fetal position on the cavern floor, gasping for air. Her scream echoed throughout the tunnel when Idrisaith hurled the toe of her boot into the Elf-girl's stomach. "You wanted to talk, so you better talk and you're to do it now," commanded Idrisaith through her pearly teeth.

    "Miseries have been ours, colds and dreadful hungers," Gwenbril started to explain, taking small pauses intermittently to recover her breath, gingerly feeling her pained ribs. "The minions are on a rampage, pusuing us relentlessly so there's been ceaseless watches whenever we strike camp somewhere."

    "You're beginning to bore me, child,"
    warned Hatholdir, a muscle tensing in his firmed jaw, but the blue normalcy of his eyes returned. "Perhaps, she needs some encouragment to tell us where this camp is," he suggested to Idrisaith.

    "The great heaths and morasses above the Land of Willows,"
    Gwenbril said hurriedly, afraid of the Mole-lady's momentary caress of her whip's red-gold handle.

    Hatholdir clapped his hands together. "I knew you'd see things my way," he said sunnily, his voice smooth as silk. "I just wish you had been more resonable to begin with, Gwenbril." He heaved a dramatic sigh. "I hate resorting to threats and torture. This world would be a kindlier place without violence, don't you think?" Hatholdir tsked-tsked, shaking his head. "Idrisaith, please see to it that our new Mole is bathed properly. She smells like a troll. Rid her pockets of any foul vermin like dead rodents or grub to feed that dreadful owl of hers, will you, please?"

    Idrisaith marched Gwenbril out of the cave like she was a dog on a leash. She seized her arm without preamble, the tightness of her hand seeming jarringly at odds with her friendly smile. "If you ever hesitate to answer our lord again I'll flog you two hundred times, gouge out your pretty eyes, nail you to one of my crosses, and light it afire then I'll eat your roasted meat for supper," she said with the most pleasant of tones, patting the small of the Elf-girl's back. "Are we clear as Feanorian crystal, hmm?"

    Gwenbril bobbed her head dutifully, hazel eyes big as saucers, and time continued on.

    And now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit, right to the top
    Don't hold back
    Packing my bags and giving the Academy a rain check
    It's time to begin, isn't it?
    I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
    I'm just the same as I was
    Now don't you understand
    I'm never changing who I am

    - Imagine Dragons, It's Time

    Last edited by Beren Camlost; 30/Oct/2017 at 05:39 PM.
    "There is no / Life I know / To compare with pure imagination."

  17. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    And when Melkor saw that these lies were smouldering, and that pride and anger were awake among the Noldor, he spoke to them concerning weapons; and in that time the Noldor began the smithying of swords and axes and spears. Shields also they made displaying the tokens of many houses and kindreds that vied one with another; and these only they wore abroad, and of other weapons they did not speak, for each believed that he alone had received the warning.

    - Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor, The Silmarillion

    - Seven-pointed star sigil of the Palestar Family, credited to Greyfang

    There was a time I used to look into my father’s eyes
    In a happy home, I was a King, I had a golden throne.
    Those days are gone, now the memory’s on the wall.
    I hear the songs from the places where I was born ..

    On a hill across a blue lake, that’s where I made my first mistake
    I still remember how it all changed
    and my father said

    “Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child.
    See, the heavens have a plan for you
    Don’t you worry child ..

    (’Don’t you Worry Child’, by Swedish House Mafia )

    Menellótë Silosse with Sarnir Erondo.
    Also featuring Sarnirion (Erfaron). And Lícumorner (Herumacil)

    Courtyard - Home of the Palestar, Tirion-Upon-Tuna, YT

    Standing statues was a game that Erfaron had played at oftentimes, as a child in Tirion. Most oft when his father had been utterly engaged in conceiving a project, and the best means he could find to entertain an over-zealous only child was to engage the boy's sense of silence and of still. The distinct lack of other children his own age within the family estate had gone some great way to convincing a young Erfaron that this was the best game ever invented. Both Sarnir and Menellótë had persevered with pretending they could not tell their son apart from the lifelike, granite figurines which featured all throughout the yard, and he had fallen for some years and for the ruse which led the clever parents to share knowing smiles. Strange it had been when he was finally sent to 'play' with the offspring of his mother's friends, for these new acquaintances seemed less than enthused to undertake the ‘game’ for overlong. Which had only furthered Erfaron's belief that he must be far better at playing a statue than all other elflings in the city. They simply gave up upon it too easily.*

    This day, many years before he ever even became known as Erfaron, the child Sarnirion was playing ‘Statues’. His motive upon this occasion, however, was a deviation from the usual performance that he managed to observe. Usually, his Father would work such magic as all craftsfolk may, transforming a block of hulking and formidable stone into an elaborate shape of finesse and wonder. The alteration of such blunt, crass features of his resource into such a delicate and fine result was no less incredible for his young son than observing any thing of their earth come unto life and evolve through countless years of sentient existence. Sarnirion could scarcely await the day when he might be allowed to more than marvel at this wondrous pursuit, but partake of it himself. Every day though was the same. “Not yet” he was lectured. As though his enthusiasm was some obstacle to the patience and composure that he had yet to master. ‘Statues’ was a defiance then and also compliant demonstration; of quite just how patient and peaceful he could manage to be. It was more than play. It was practice. It was every single day.

    This day though, yes, it was different to all of those others come before it. Not merely because an outsider had been permitted to intrude upon his father’s workspace. Not even because the sculptor had consented to admire tools beyond his own treasured heirlooms. But it was more so the nature of quite what the two grown Elves were now involved in, inspecting this alien equipment. The lowly candlemaker, whose name the child had no real care to learn, had brought with him two almighty tools in a concealed case. Now Sarnir and Licumorner were appraising the quality of these devices, and also of one another.

    The child would later learn that it was known as swordplay. For this moment though, just what they were rightly attempting, he could not reason to any sense. The tools they each bore did not appear to compact anything upon the world, not to yield any worth or notable result. Both Elves manouvred about in what seemed a dance of elaborate footwork, with the candlemaker instructing the sculptor how and where to lean his weight. But the long knives which they bore sliced only at the air between them. And though they came against one another, it was not a blessed melody they composed, but a clash and clatter that rang through the courtyard with abruptness and alarm. The entire thing seemed not productive, but somehow still strangely compelling. Perhaps a game that adult Elves play ? Sarnirion continued to indulge his curiosity. It was not a wonder then that the child did not hear his mother creeping up behind him, but when she arrived, Menellótë did not look to be any more certain of quite what the Elves were up to.

    She tapped one hand upon her son’s shoulder, and he leant back against her, tilting his head back so that his eyes drank of hers, like recent dappled puddles mirroring some ancient moonlight. The Sculptor’s wife blinked once, and laid a single finger before her thin lips. Her son broke free from her hold. He recognised his mother’s plan to make an approach of his father, and he knew this was precarious at best. Noone interrupted Sarnir whilst he was working. Though the Sculptor did not look to be ‘working’ exactly, still the goings on within the courtyard seemed the sort best not to disrupt.

    Menellótë was not the type to pander to what others might advise. Furthermore, this was her home, and he her husband. She advanced unto the scene without a blare of warning, and yet with all of the confidence of an almighty general, ahead of his host. Sarnirion peered warily around the column of his mother, to gauge his father’s reaction. Licumorner was that engaged in his lesson that he noted not quite yet the pale amazon who stole unto their midst. Sarnir though was come to be incapable of ignoring her presence. He stepped out of engagement from his duelling partner, and lowered his sword at his side. The metal nose of the weapon hovered inches from the flagstones but the sculptor offered forth no greeting, nor explanation.

    The Elleth closed the space between them and snaked a long slender, vine of her arm about the arch of her husband’s neck. Her face came to his but did not ever make there contact, not in the traditional sense. Her lips trembled that close to his own that Sarnir blinked. His free hand rose high and met her’s draping down. There they two remained a good portion of time, fingers each convulsing where they interwove. The only sound that dared now in the courtyard was the Candlemaker, pulling back his presumptuous lunge with a hiss of surprise, and twisting unto as agile a save of balance as he might still make. The child, Sarnirion smiled, biting back a laugh as Licumorner straightened, stiffly, sheathed his sword, and waited. And was forced to wait longer than he understood the reason for. And then continued to wait yet longer still.

    Sarnir’s eyes were Northern Lights racing across a vast frozen lake, his wife’s eyes a deathly ghost of colour that drowned all who dared venture too long about their depths. This constellation of the palest stars met in a silent conversation neither of the others present were privy to. Then, with just as little warning as they had come together, the husband and wife stepped back, and the bond of their secrecy severed. They returned to that world where things other than their union existed.

    There is wine in the cellar,” the Sculptor announced, He turned upon Licumorner expectantly. “You must be in want to sate your thirst.” The Noldo’s slick hair sluiced from his brow down his back like a great, slumbering shadow. It painted his pale face that more severe in contrast, and ever more so now that the exertion of their swordplay was memory, the Sculptor’s ashen pallor grew more so with each moment spent. Menellótë yet possessed his free hand until he loosed it with no objection from his wife. She watched as he put the sword to bed, and then trained her eyes, along with those of her husband, upon the Candlemaker. Under such a powerfully silent tirade, Licumorner broke and eyed the door.

    I can show you how to find it,” the child made steps toward escape from the privacy his parents clearly craved. Light leaps carried him through the imposing mouth of a grandiose door, back unto the tower proper. There a pale glint of silver like a slender knife showed his awaiting across the great hall for the ‘guest’ to make chase. As the Candlemaker moved to do so, a sound from behind him demanded a hesitation. He caught the leather sheath that Sarnir had thrown him, in both hands. There was no need for the Sculptor to speak. His guest hastily retired his sword, and laid it down at the outside of the door before he too passed within.

    It was not long before he who followed was forced to take up the lead. Sarnirion perched upon chairs, and caught at the tail of long bannisters. He sauntered playfully in paths around each piece of the furniture that they had no need to traverse at all. The Candlemaker was soon torn between an exasperation of this fool delay, and reluctant envy at the showcase of great talent. There was not a vast parade of wealth housed in this homestead, some rooms held but a single chair or nothing at all. But the walls it was that were the real wonder. There was scarce an inch of wall, or floor, or ceiling that had not been remodelled, so that walls were oceans of stone faces, staring out at him, in each a story that some hours spent in staring still could not completely know. Floors were whirling patterns of painstakingly positioned shells. Ceilings were tapestries of stars, composed of bright blue jewels embedded in a canopy of onyx for a perfect reference of the outside sky, inside.

    By the time they had reached the wine cellar, Licumorner felt entirely exhausted by the rush of all that he had seen along the way, and yet excited to revisit such wonders on their return. The child was leant against the wall though here, watching for the moment when the guest saw quite how many bottle of wine there were to choose from. Their count was beyond number. Wary that to loiter would find him quite overwhelmed, the Candlemaker reached out and seized the bottle closest to his hand. It was not wise to keep Sarnir Erondo waiting, all knew so. And yet when he looked to depart, he found a concerned glance about the child’s eyes.

    Make your choice a good one,Sarnirion advised him, without ever stating that the Guest had failed so far in their goal. Still Licumorner thought it prudent to replace his choice and run his fingers along the line of bottles that came first within reach.

    Does he have a favourite ?” the Candlemaker asked, “I’m sure you know ..” he lowered to eye level with the child, and portrayed as hopeful an expression as he thought the boy might go for.

    Of course !” the child laughed, and with a running leap caught his hands at the hang of the door frame. He propelled himself back and forth there, playfully. Never quite coming close enough to kick the ‘intruder’.

    Of course he has a favourite , do you mean ? Or of course you know what it is ?” pressed Licumorner through his teeth.

    Sarnirion released his hold and the stolen height, coming to ground so that he could walk right up to the Guest and whisper, “Both !” Before the elder could grasp at the wilful sprite and shake a rightful answer from him, the boy ran from his reach and back through the many rooms that it had took to get there. “Whatever you do, don’t keep him waiting !!” he added, in a merry singsong that made the poor Candlemaker groan.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 25/Nov/2017 at 10:34 PM.

  18. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    S.A 750
    On the Beach

    He stood there still, and silent, as the soft crashes of waves colliding against the beachhead dispersed quietly through the night. No response yet given,
    Eärcúlinta did not blink, gazing at Silosse's face. His half-narrowed gaze on the white-haired elf was not hostile, however, yet wary.

    "Am I to be that easily read, Lady
    Menellótë?" he responded, confirming his knowledge of the tall elf's identity, "I suppose you could also I say I am missing my right hand, so to speak.

    "Yes I remember you. In the days of my youth, my mother would take our family to meet yours on occasion. I was little then," he sighed, "now I stand before you, a parent like my mother before me. Well met,
    Menellótë Silosse."

    He blinked, his eyes relaxing and a smile gracing itself on his face, the stiffness in his shoulders smoothed out.

    "I sense you wish to discuss more with me rather than simple pleasantries?" Eärcúlinta asked, raising his eyebrows, "what is it that you require? Have you found lodging and shelter? Are you transitioning to the food here?"

  19. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Familiar Strangers / A Friend Like Me - Part 2 (of both)

    How can I say this without breaking ?
    How can I say this without taking over ?
    How can I put this down into words ?
    When it’s almost as much as my soul can take ..

    I loved, and I loved, and I lost you
    And it hurts like hell.

    (Hurts like Hell, by Fleurie)

    Menellótë Silosse
    A meeting with Eärcúlinta
    On the beach, Lindon
    SA 750

    I suppose,Silosse regarded the warrior before her, turning over the exchange of etiquette, dissecting it’s worth. She held out her empty hand, disregarding whether she considered now where his missing might be. Or what her’s ought hold.

    Eärcúlinta clearly knew enough to expect a question in each answer. His patience revealed that he knew enough to wait. His alert to interaction suggested he knew that she never gave anything easy, or at all. Yet she offered the required responses. Though her eyes now fell to where the sky met sea. Where hope met ambition.

    I do, I have and I am certain I shall” she assured the other, of her intent, her new home, and her take on local cuisine. “There is but a single thing I might yet beg of your aide, for the sake of old acquaintance more so than duty. My child,

    The pale empress dropped her gaze unto the pools of Linta’s own eyes. As though hypnotism would grant compliance. She waited for him to make sense. For she had never called him ‘child’, even when he had yet been that small. She did not now patronise the veteran of war. She did not seek to belittle his age, in count to her own. She knew that a tremble toyed through her veins, as she clarified.

    I have read of you .. keeping lists ?” she confessed. She allowed him the chance to fill in the blanks …

    She had confirmations as far as her son had turned to the armies of Fingolfin, had even met one Elf who recalled a pale half-Falmari heading toward Unnumbered Tears. But since then, naught. And though she had scoured all the remnants of a ruined Angband, in the wake of Wrath, Menellótë had found but Herumacil. Or the remnants of Herumacil. The pieces left from years of torment were no help alas. She had given the ex-candlemaker a bed, a home. Still his fractured mind barely remembered who he was. Let alone what had become of one he had long left.

    She had naught to hold but hope of her long lost son. She had but a mother’s heart, and that told her that he was not dead. A mother knew. A mother would never give up ..

    "I'm not sure if Silugnir has told you, but he and I have been very close since the Years of the Trees. We were bosom friends in the Blessed Realm and I saved him from the fury of the Swan Wing in the Fall of Gondolin. When the Molefolk of Prince Maeglin tried to kill Lord Tuor, my people fought them and killed many. I pitied Erfaron. No one else would. Instead of punishing him with my blade, I told him to run. He lives today because of me ..”

    - Aigronding Mordagnir – in Beren’s post at the Starlight Inn.

    And Elves ! .. Some like Kings, terrible and splendid ..
    - Many Meetings, The Fellowship of the Ring

    Menellótë Silosse and Sarnir Erondo
    Home of the Palestars, Tirion-Upon-Tuna
    Aman, YT

    The bone white hands relaxed their hold upon the pale beauty, and the focus in those kyanite blue eyes melted from point. Sarnir did not give up words at first, but merely distanced himself seamlessly from his wife, as though some unseen storm racked their two ships further errant on an ocean of impasse. There was no doubt in the Eflord’s mind that he desired always to impress his glacial empress. Still this did so frequently rule out surrender. For she had not sought a mate whom she might dominate, any more than she would suffer one who strove to dominate her spirit. In their equal measure of obstinacy they were a perfect match. For he was Sarnir, the icestar of his seven celestial siblings.

    He was the lonely rock that Menellótë crashed her waves of compulsion against. His harsh rocky shore eroded unto compliance at her will. Sometimes. For his beloved family were his world. When together on a subject, the husband and wife were beyond any blow that sought to break them. When opinion sat as altered though, .. it was anybody’s guess who would triumph. They each enjoyed battle if the other were their foe. For to be vanquished by a one they so adored was to recount as ever how formidable a partner they had took.

    To this thing, I can not give assent.

    The Sculptor clasped his hands behind him, and raised like a war cry, the smooth slope of his defined chin. Menellótë declared her gaze for the wall furthest from her lover, eyes and temper adamant the same.

    My Lord means not that there might be some thing, he can not manage. But that he will choose not. Not even for the sake of his heart and blood ..

    She did not glance back over her slight shoulder but her pitch implied the mischief which turned her lord to regard her, sternly.

    It is for sake of my kith that I must deny your boon, Sarnir would correct his spouse. “Our blood remains safe within our halls. There is little to lure us beyond. Out where They are watching .. ever listening .. They have servants who share all beyond those ever intended to hear ..

    There was no doubt in either mind of whom were the ‘They’ that the Noldo referred to. The Elf was as sure in his assigning of repute as the elleth was unconvinced,

    Licumorner is permitted entry to our halls,” the lady mentioned, and one eyebrow rose at the injustice that gave the candlemaker access others were denied. “He is outside intervention,” she deemed, unhappily.

    The candlemaker is as my own eyes and ears about the court. That I need not leave my home and kin unguarded. He is necessary ...

    Menellótë took pause to digest this opinion. Granting no more words upon her husband’s closest friend. There were other avenues to gather his attention.

    Our son imagines that your statues are his friends,” the mother diagnosed dilemmas which seemed to go unobserved and trouble not the child’s father. “He speaks with them, whole and varied conversations I have bourne as sorry witness to. It is your family’s custom to govern the education of all children privately, I understand that. And he has studied at my side, as well as yours. But there are yet further resources that we deny him, outside of these halls. Now is time come ..

    The Sculptor found some purchase in what he deemed a chink about his wife’s armour. “What subject you truly broach is thus your own incompetence to manage his development at home.” His allegation saw his wife to widen the blizzard of her eyes. “I managed a well-rounded education in these wallsSarnir’s tone had adopted a smug jaunt when his wife injected objection.

    My Lord, you have three brothers and three sisters,” She delivered the fact as a blow to deflate his argument. “He does not”.

    We said that we would wait until the first was come to adulthood,Sarnir troubled, thinking that he had entered a whole other negotiation without realising, “before ever thinking to repeat the pro-creation ..” he had lost the carry of his refrain, as the concept derailed his motive.

    I know that a host of children would prove most distracting for your laboursMenellótë allowed, softly. She gained a step toward her husband that he noticed not.

    And surely too much for you,” the Sculptor threw out, on unguarded instinct, “if one child is already setting you toward concerns.

    It is quite the opposite,” she decided, steering the debate now down a mercenary dirtpath. “My Lord, do you toil at some project and then expect for none to regard your skill ?

    You believe that we have architectured such a soul as should now be exhibited,” the Lord began to pick up what notions his wife subtlely laid before him. The temptation of the challenge gathered at his pride, but still he was possessive. “Nay,” he muttered. “I have three brothers, three sisters. I have shared all that I ever was. I will have what is my own. Uncompromised.

    His wife visited her frustration with a hard glared all upon the lifeless masterpieces which bedecked the courtyard. Sarnir was stubborn as the stone he was named for. She would not have it else, and yet there were times …

    She took her leave. The battle at an intermission. He would come to her when he had come to senses. She was sure. She had known it so before this day.

    Turning to find his heart had took leave, the obstinate Lord released a gale of frustration all his own. He retrieved the sword that Herumacil had exchanged for the wealth that the Sculptor cast toward ‘the Cause’. Regarding the instrument, a symbol of the unrest in the city, in his soul, Sarnir slipped it from it’s sheath. He might wrestle his demons, as well as practice what the clandestine had shared with him.

    His wife observed the flurry of such a brutal dance from her seat aside the modest pond. He had constructed the small sanctuary just for her. Fingers dappled the cool water, and the elleth cast eyes to the fountain. A perfect depiction of two lovers, entwined. Recognition of their features tore at her resolve. She knew well how her husband attributed all order and control about his world. What she was asking of him went against all that he was. Still, the child was as much hers as his father’s. Still she did not turn, although she heard the exertion in his lonely dance.

    Sarnir, his limbs wearied, was yet plagued at mind. The Noldo laid his sword to rest, offering his eyes toward the sky in silent prayer for guidance. Should he allow his child to walk the wider world, and who knew to whom might the child then so innocently impart of the secrets he had already seen, and overheard. Fingers drummed the window sill, like a spilt first of small teardrops from the Sculptor’s well, escaping through mortar he had not foreseen as weak. As solutions that might soothe him failed to present themselves, the drumming of his digits grew more insistent. And his headache more pronounced.

    It was dangerous. In such dangerous times. Weapons were manifesting in secret. All that the Noldo wished was his beloved kin, all of them, fast and fine behind so mighty a wall as he might construct. The old ways were crumbling, the hierachy and order that Sarnir had ever put such store in now rocked unstable. The Valar themselves had fallen to an envy of the Crown Prince’s competency. And while this should have set a fire to the pride of all the Noldor, instead it had ushered in a fear, that any Elf beholden with such might as he who had wrought the fair Silmarilli, ought to see his reach denied. Why else had the Valar contorted the very nature of all existence, that a soul might choose more than one spouse ?? Why not if not to divide the King’s heart, and wrench influence away from their nation’s future ? It was a conspiracy. It was an unwarranted intervention into the laws and customs that all Elvendom had stemmed from.

    Sarnir had learnt of these things, he roiled about his supposed repose in the resting hour. He would safeguard those he loved from fell infiltration by the Gods who so craved mastery over them all. Were their people thralls ? Nay. They were Noldor. He, and his son the same. All these thoughts and contemplations tripped over each other, as the Father, husband, looked for some way to retain that small world where he still reigned without threat. Let his son venture beyond their walls ? Beyond the solitude of sanctuary ? It was a risk.

    Come in time to find his wife, he lowered to her side, his back to the tranquil lagoon. His hand smoothed the cool flagstones which made up it’s fence. Menellótë snaked her hand into his, without words. She would have her husband return to their conversation, they both knew it. Yet he dragged his heels against the ruthless campaign of her will.

    He is just a child,” the Sculptor begrudged. “And I should not unveil any of my works, much less my most precious, until it be come to full potential and flawless perfection.

    He shall come to reflect all that you are, in due time,” the lady appeared to agree. And yet did not see it to end there. “And more. For he is of us both, endowed with the gifts of such a marked union. But he shall require to negotiate with others, in the future. For the sake of brokering alliances and associations. Panion has already leant his daughter into the company of Erindan the merchant. When they come to adulthood, and she takes up with the mantle of her father who do you imagine that the elleth shall do business with ? Her lifelong friend whom she has known and trusted with confidences since their waking years ..

    If she held sense, she should choose the one who might best benefit her business,Sarnir grunted, even as his wife turned matters of affection toward subject of alliances. That was a thing he would be hard pressed to deny, more so than emotional development. “I know what it is that you do,” he warned his wife.

    Menellótë had nurtured such a smile as she knew delighted her husband. “You know me so,” she allowed, “and I you.

    You have laid your bricks a piece at a time,” the Sculptor shook his head, and took up his wife’s hand now in his very own. “At length do I understand your true ambition from the first.

    Menellótë turned to behold his thought given to voice.

    You are not beyond the moving of me,” the Sculptor sighed. “I shall make thus a concession. Our son may associate with the children of your friend.

    Excitement was not an emotion that featured so openly on the cool face of Silosse. She waited, though her touch tightened in his.

    Aimira you knew in Alqualonde,” the Noldo recounted, even as his partner puzzled. “Panion shall not wrest the mind and heart of Erindan towards his meagre construction. A merchant will prove an essential advantage. You may see to it. Introduce our son to the children of Aimira

    Silence marked the elleth overwhelmed. The Elleth recalled belatedly who else the children of Erindan and Aimira gamed with ...

    You have not thanked me,Sarnir’s amazement was sincere. “Are you not pleased with all that you have accomplished of me ? I must to my labours reconvene. Where is that infernal candlemaker ??!!!

    Menellótë remained where he had left her. A gift received but not that which she had meant or hoped for. Still, she could not halt the relief that accompanied her son as he ran to her. Leaping up to have legs dangle from the pool’s stone wall, Sarnirion mirrored his mother’s stance. Copied the way that she placed her lonely hand now to her lap. Her son his hand to his. Love broke the frosted lake of her expression into a smile.

    You have lost your father’s friend,” she chided the child, far from angry.

    He needs not the friend,” the young Elf laughed. “He has us.

    Menellótë found her feet and extended her reach to grasp her son up by the hand. She could not give him the friend that she had thought of, still a friend, a living friend of flesh and voice could be no bad thing.

    Come” she bade her youngling. “We are to the city.

    City ?!” the boy stumbled over the alien word. “What for we would go unto the city ?” he frowned.

    Menellótë tightened her hand and picked up even her stately pace.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 14/Dec/2017 at 02:08 PM.

  20. Aranadhel's Avatar
    Fletcher of Lothlorien
    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    Private with Feapoldie

    Time of the Two Trees

    The Sea Wind IV

    Look sister, look!

    Nolindil swatted Fea's arm a few times till she glared daggers at him. The Sea! He shouted at her and pointed to the waves. Both Noldor stood aghast at the sight of Ulmo's realm, both seeing the Sea for the first in their immortal lives. They had walked for the past few days from Tirion and finally they were here by the coast. The city of Olwe King of the Lindar stood majestically to their left and the Sea with its roaring waves faced their right.

    It's beautiful isn't it, Fea? Nolindil looked at her in awe. He was speechless, all this while thinking the rivers that runs by Tirion was enough proof of water flowing and now he knew the river was comparable to the Noldor city on the hill of Tuna and the Sea is the equivalent of the Pelori mountains. Feeling restless, excited and weary without waiting for an answer from his best friend he dropped his baggage and seized her hand tightly and dragged her, struggling in their boots over the sandy beach and walked into the sea for the first time in their lives.

    Aiii the water! It's warm, sister!
    he exclaimed excitedly as Nolindil felt the bottom of the sea with his now wet boots and slowly but surely led Fea deeper into the water, still holding her hand tightly.
    Last edited by Aranadhel; 19/Dec/2017 at 09:02 AM.

  21. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    The Scholar and the Scoundrel - Part 8 (Semi-private with Aranadhel)

    Just like fire, burning out the way
    If I can light the world up for just one day
    Watch this madness, colourful charade,
    Noone can be just like me anyway ..

    (Just Like Fire, by Pink)

    Fëapoldië Aiwenáriel
    with Nolindil Singaladion (Aranadhel)
    at the beach of Alqualondë, YT

    She stood with her back to all that she had ever known. She did not cast a thought now unto the world of such wonder which had been her cradle, and hosted all marvels she had ever took for granted. Fëapoldië laid eyes upon the sea, and in her heart she understood why her people had chosen to make the crossing to Valinor.

    There was a draw toward the unknown and the potential, all the vast uncertainty. Folk who had been raised up with all that ought to make them content; still the Noldor were inquisitive and curious. Ever did they seek to know more of the world that birthed them. It appeared that there was no end to their want to look deeper, to go further, to try harder. To be .. more ..

    There was a river that served as the fence to part of her family’s lush estate. Since the day that she had first peered across the barrier, Fea had desired to thwart it’s obstacle. She had thrust through the diamante waters until her brother had been forced to come save her from her own obstinate dare. But that was not the end of it. Each day she threw herself into the river until she had taught her limbs the practice of swimming. For there was naught that should keep her at a boundary. She detested limits. She did not like ‘No’. Anything that challenged her would be met, matched and duely defeated. She was Fëapoldië. She was unstoppable.

    The river stood but a blurring line, however, over which she could spy the far bank. The beyond which teased her with it’s unobtainable presence. She had come to that far bank. She had crossed over. This though .. was no river. There was no far bank that even Elvish eyes might see.

    The Sea !Nolindil named it. And of course of all the folks she knew, he would have a name for it. No doubt he had read and could recite all about it’s qualities and it’s contents from what was written in his precious books. But that word, that tiny word … ‘Sea’ did not seem half enough to title what they gazed upon. For the first time in (not her life, but still) the longest time most might recall, Fëapoldië was awestruck. What indeed might await her upon the far far side of this evermore ? Did she dare consider what it might take to know ?

    Her best friend was poking at her, doubtless jabbing for a reaction. Might be to have another assure him that they saw it too. That this was in fact real. Nolindil now called it beautiful.

    I have been called beautiful,” the elleth recounted, with no thought to modesty. She suddenly felt very small, regardless. Fea had been likened indeed to a wild, tempestuous thing. She had lost count of how many times she had accused Tirindo of dousing her with the severe cold water of his austere soul, and rules, so many boring, tiresome rules ..

    Water was what lapped at her feet, carried her boat, clung to her russet tresses so enviously. For it had no such vibrancy of colour itself. She had pitied water. She had never seen the sea. Of a sudden, she bridled before it. Startled by a thing she thought she knew, unearthing it’s true clandestine nature. Could she have underestimated a thing that was not she ? For she was fire. She was burning, dangerous, contagious fire.

    She looked at the ocean and felt no longer a bonfire but a flickering spark. So easily subdued.

    What items of burden she had bourne upon their venture, Fea had long dropped from her hand to the sand. Fingers numbed by a burning breeze, she did not shy from nature’s invisible kiss. Her clothes squatted near her feet, and she took off both of her boots. She could not not touch where she stood. She required more senses, more means to absorb all that was assailing her all at once. The sand, made up of small things, blended to the warm skin of this land which gave her feet hard ground for all that it was soft in hand. Fea had observed fine gems before this day. And she had known the finest jewels and silks of every which hue. When she had heard before now, of sand, her mind had likened it to dust, or grains, or something small. The enormity of the ocean was only countered by the magnitude of golden blanket which it swallowed but could not ever digest.

    Her friend, like a brother to her (if there were such a thing as a brother she would like to spend her time with); he towed Fëapoldië behind him, like a kite. She soared all the passage of their enlivened race, red hair like an inferno fanned by the wind that their speed conceived. Such tresses throbbed in great waves behind her, tied in two long tails which looked fit to burst their goldspun bonds. Their burn of colour sat all the more palpable about her pale face. And at the water’s edge, she – Fëapoldië – jerked her hand from Nolindil’s grasp.

    Against all experience and better judgement, her friend stole her hand away once more. Fea might have struck at him for all that he supposed to dominate her. The Sea yet sold her diversion.

    Aii ! The water ! It is warm sister !

    The ellon once again allotted words, mere sounds to what Fea could not. As ever , the genius was correct. She might have enquired whether the water was heated by the bronzing glow of Laurelin that bloomed across the sky. Or was it the coals of sand below which stoked such a welcome heat amidst the waves.

    But as much as Fëapoldië was typical of Noldor, and as curious and inquisitive as her keen mind may have been. She did not expel questions or studiously scrutinise their strange discovery. Instead, she drowned her free arm under the cavorting ripples of small waves. And with a sidelong grin that consumed her jaw entirely, the elleth reared her sodden wing and all it’s very expensive sleeve. A new wave of water dashed from the depths to flog her companion with a soaking coat of spray in his jaw-dropping face.

    How does it taste ?” she begged of him with a reckless laughter to indulge her mischief. As ever.
    Last edited by Ercassie; 20/Dec/2017 at 11:26 PM.

  22. Aranadhel's Avatar
    Fletcher of Lothlorien
    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    Private with Feapoldie

    Time of the Two Trees

    The Sea Wind V

    He licked his lips as his now soaked face felt Sea water for the first time in his life. Fea was laughing hysterically at the sight of him but he took it in good stride, knowing full well her moments of madness. It's salty! he spat out the content from his lips and tongue. It was a new discovery for him. He thought of how the water stung his eyes and he rubbed it vehemently when his vision faltered momentarily.

    Minutes earlier when he'd dragged Fea into the ocean she resisted his pull and fortunately she made clear of his firm grip as he'd intended to toss her into the deep end. He then changed his strategy and like a fisherman spearing a fish he'd quickly grabbed hold of her hand and she relented before pulling her trick on him. His boots were soaked as were his tunic no thanks to Fea's theatrical act.

    He rolled his eyes when she shamelessly noted her pretty face. Not for the first time has Fea's vanity get the best of her nor will it ever end while they both still live. And that was going to be for a very long time to come just yet. He trudged back heavily to the beach and let go of his boots and folded back his trousers.

    He called out to Fea. Are you hungry, vermin?

  23. Meltithenniel's Avatar
    Pickpocket of the Lone Lands
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Somewhere in Enedwaith, ~ TA 3014: All are welcome

    It was a cold night, and the crackling fireplace offered little warmth. Brac shivered, rubbing his hand together. Of course I am the night shift, he thinks, looking around him. The night was quiet, save for the loud snoring of a bearded man nearby and the soft whinnying of the horses. He stared at the man, as if it would stop the snoring, as if he could wake up and be anywhere else in the world but here. But no, I am here, in the pitch dark night. At least the stars are pretty, he thinks, looking at the east. Gondor. He unconsciously lifted his hand up.

    “What are you doing, Brac? Daydreaming again? Master Alden would box your ears for that” A deep sneering voice rang above his head. With an undignified thump, Geth sat down next to Brac, crossing his legs together. “Although, he is not much of a master. Nor is he much of anything.”

    “Watch it, that’s my leg you’re sitting on there.” Brac glared his eyes, but was only answered by Geth’s quiet mutterings - not that you use it much it anyway, with how slow you walk - and rolled eyes. “Besides, I wasn’t daydreaming.” He looked to the east anyway. “Where is Alf and Stig?”

    Alfis on the far end, taking care of the horses. Who knows where Stig is, probably recounting all the apples and tallying up the numbers for the fourth time.” He starts, eyes flashing. Oh great, another rant, Brac thinks dryly.

    “Who does he think he is? I really don’t know what goes on in his head, we’ve been on this deserted forsaken road for two weeks without anyone in sight and with nothing of real importance. And he thinks we might as well be in Dorwinion! We’re not in Dorwinion, we don’t have bottles of fancy eastern wine or silk or pretty wives waiting of what have you, just cheap cloth and pieces of scrap metal and a shell of a trade company, all because on master Alden insists on crossing these same roads over and over again. What is there to trade? Just miserable people with miserable lives and no money to spare. And yet he insists on these areas, obsessing over some village with a castle of gold. Hah. As if it exists.” Geth rambled on, seemingly oblivious to the now-dozing Brac. “Successor to the Grey Stallion trading company. Pathetic. What trading company? I’ve never seen a cent in my life. I bet I could do better.” He muttered the last sentence, the sentence softly lingering in the quiet air.

    lazily lifted his head. “No you can’t.You’re not allowed in Dunland, you’re not allowed in Bree. We all know why. Where else would you go? The wastelands?” Geth glared into the night, suddenly reluctant to acknowledge the boy. “You’re only here because you have to, I’m only here because I have to.” He finally answered. “Now don’t say a word or I’ll box your ears too.”

    Silence, broken by the crackling fire. That’s a good start. At least a line - maybe two - Brac was soon absorbed in his own world of thought. Geth rolled his eyes and stood up. These fools… at least Stig and Alf would leave soon. Probably to something more successful, he thought bitterly.

    “You could have too, if only you didn’t kill me” suddenly came the screeching reply of a man long dead, standing in front of Geth. Not again. The long trails of blood along his neck, usually a blue-red river along the transparent ghost’s body, faintly shimmered in the dark. “You could have had it all, if only you didn’t kill me. You could have had it al-”

    “Shut it!” Geth snapped, punching towards the man. He knew it was no use. His hand smoothly went through the ghost’s body, coating his hand in the blue-red blood, making his hand shine eerily in the night. He quickly shook his hand. In an instant, the ghost disappeared, leaving sunken eyes, boring deep into Geth. You could have had it all…Geth, shaking his head, quickly stood up. “The smoke is irritating. Don’t sleep.” He glanced at empty spot of the ghost before slowly walking towards the horses, whistling an old Dunlending tune.

    “Now who’s the one daydreaming?” Muttered Brac, slightly amused. He learned best not to interrupt Geth during his spells of insanity, or to be rewarded with a bloody lip. Silence, broken by the crackling fire. A man stands watching, talking to the open night sky…

    The piercing dawn brought with it a dark hazy fog. The kind that mother makes back at home after a hard week’s work, thinks Alf, checking the harnesses of the horse. How I wish I had that now. The horses, restless and irritated last night, seemed to be even more restless now, no matter how many times Alf tried to coax them into sleep throughout the night.

    “At least you got more than me, no, old
    Sue?” He cooed as he petted the neck of a old brown workhorse, the oldest in the caravan. At 20, she seemed to know these trails by heart, and stubbornly listened to no one. Well, she listened to one person, but he didn’t know who. He would occasionally hear the mysterious person's name from Master Alden when Suewas being particularly stubborn, some sort of Blasted Ada, or the like. No one knew a trader, though, one probably of the legendary Grey Stallion trading company, named Ada. Not even his father, seemingly knowing everyone in Bree. And everyone knows all trade goes through Bree. Once, he tried asking master Alden, but all he got in reply was a haunted look and no dinner for the night. So he stopped asking. For now, she remains Miss Ada. In his mind, she is fearless, as beautiful as the western girls Geth always talks about. Or perhaps she is hardy, used to the tough conditions of the waters down south. What would she think of master Alden?

    Sue shook her head in reply, breaking his trail of thought. As always, her black eyes seemed to look at him in perpetual amusement, as if to say you silly old human.

    “Good morning, young Alf. How are the horses holding? Well, I hope? We are behind schedule, we must make at least to the third village if we were to sell these cloths at a profit.” The accented voice of Stig, ever cold and seeming uncaring, appeared next to him. Despite his love of numbers and profits, however, he was kind, and would always answer the young apprentice’s questions.

    “I thought you said it was to the second village last night, master Stig, why do we have to go to the third?”

    “The Dunlending traders are most likely coming in from the south now, carrying goods from the east. They can afford to charge higher prices, and people are more likely going to buy the higher-quality cloth from them. Although the margin of quality is rather low. We must act now while the weather is cold and the need for new cloth, no matter from where, is high.”

    Alfnodded his head. “But then why aren’t we going down on the old Arnor route? Wouldn’t that be quicker?”

    Stig shook his head, glancing at the still-sleeping bearded man. “Tha is exactly what I proposed, however master Alden is still set on his ways - finding a castle of gold and the source of all magic. It’s statistically impossible - there are no routes to support such a castle, no army or barracks, not enough people. Just -”

    “Coins with a pretty lady on the front. But aren’t those magic? My father wanted to go find the village, but my mother said no, saying that she had 5 children and a husband, and she didn’t want to be a widow so soon. So my father send a messenger, and all that came back was a frightened horse and an empty, bloody saddle.”

    “The lands surrounding Lond Daer are highly dangerous, especially when alone. It is entirely possible that he was merely killed.”

    “By what though? Clearly it’s magic, master Stig, you have to believe me. I know Dorwinion is a long way from here but don’t you have your own magic too?”

    “I do not believe you have gold dragons in a lonely mountain in the vicinity, young Alf” replied Stig, waving at the flat, and foggy, landscape around them. “There is no need to be afraid. Fear is purely a symptom of ignorance.”

    “I’m not afraid!”

    “Oh be quiet, both of you, and let’s hurry up. What are our numbers, Stig?” The throaty voice of Alden cut through the conversation. Scratching his beard, he slowly stood up, shaking the sleeping forms of the two Dunlendings. “Brac, Geth, wake up. We don’t have time for sleep.”

    Stig cleared his throat. “All goods are accounted for, master Alden. However, we are behind schedule by two days. We must hurry or we will risk a loss, which we cannot afford. I recommend going east, towards the old Arnor ro-”

    Alden waved his hand, signaling forAlf and Brac to start cleaning up the site. “How many times have I told you, Stig, being a trader is about being first. Being first means -”

    “Master Alden, I believe that the old Arnor route is the quickest-”

    “You don’t understand anything, don’t you? We need to be first to find that source of magic. There is a castle, with a demigod, and more magic than anywhere this side of the Mountains, and I’ll never forgive myself if anyone goes there quicker than me. We just need to get their first, you see, it’s around here somewhere, I can feel it, can’t you? We’ll go in there, say we’re the legendary Grey Stallion trade company, and we’d like to trade. Maybe to Isengard. Then they’ll have to agree, then we we’ll be so rich that we can pay to expand, maybe to Harad, maybe to -”


    “Yeah, yeah, there too. Then we’d make the Gondor traders fall to their knees, I’d control everything. I’ll complete the goal of my late mentor, I’ll make him proud. Hah, if only Ada could see me now.”

    Stig quietly watched Alden’s ever-louder monologue. Clearly, he thought, the men of Eriador are not aquadate trading partners. I must report that when I return. Luckily, he was to return by next spring. Less than a year away...

    “Sleeping on the job, huh, Brac,” teased Alfas the pair scrambled to put away the sleeping rolls from last night. “Yeah, yeah, I bet you did too. Look how tired the horses look - except for you, Sue, you’re always the best.” Brac replied, stroking the neck of the old horse. “I wonder how far we’ll get today. What did masterStig say?”

    “Most likely to the first, maybe second village. He wanted to take the old Arnor route to the third, but master Alden wants to keep going south as it is.”

    “So no change, then - hey, can I have some food? I haven’t had breakfast and I’m starving. I’ll share you my water.”

    “Sure, on the road. It’s master Geth’s turn to walk with the horses, so maybe we can sit on the cart for a bit and share.”

    The noon sun blazed high above their heads, beating down relentlessly. The group of five slowly trudged along, their six horses slowly following. It was unusually hot that day, and the luggage and layers the men carried made the trek slower than usual. It was a week since Geth’s last ghost sighting, and he preferred to keep it that way. The meager breakfast the company shared seemed to be long ago, replaced now with a familiar, dull hunger.

    Suddenly, Alden stopped, startling the lead horse Sue, who replied with an annoyed snort. Pointing to the distance, he motioned for the two boys to come closer.

    Brac, Alf, we are here. The castle of gold. I can feel it. Now, you know how much I trust you boys, right?”

    “Yes, master Alden” came the reply in unison, their face hiding their disbelief. What is going on?

    Ignoring the pointed stares of Stig and Geth, Alden started to unload Sue's cart, the smallest of the six. “Come help me, now,” he ordered, watching as the boys quickly started to divide up the goods among the remaining five carts. Satisfied, he continued.

    “Now, I am going to entrust you with something I have never done before. I am going to send you to the mouth of the lion, to the heart of the power, for you to see the treasures and glory first. In short -” he pointed at the horse, “you are going to go to the castle yourselves.”

    What?” The usually composed Stig couldn’t help but exclaim, “that’s preposterous! That is a suicide mission! Master Alden, you must reconsider.”

    Geth, usually unsympathetic, couldn’t help but agree. You could have had it all, if only you didn’t kill me, he heard whispered in his ears. “There will be blood on your hands, and there is magic there. They are much too young. Why not send us instead? Why not send me?” He imagined the dead man looking straight into his soul, tortured and haunted. The last I need is two more.

    “No, it makes perfect sense. Listen to me! Alf and Brac, and not you two, are perfect. They are young. Who would suspect a pair of 15-year-olds of overthrowing a kingdom? You are far too old, Geth, 5 years too old, and Stig I still need to guide my way. Besides, he’s a foreigner, and that beard seems menacing, don’t you agree? Now myself, I would gladly go to the kingdom straight on, but alas, I know my duty. I will instead sacrifice myself for the good of the caravan! For glory! I will be the decoy, the great threat, that hides the enemy eyes and creates an opening. Then" he waved his arms in the air, eyes bright and wild, "when that opening is created, one fortnight from now, you will enter the castle. There, claim you are travellers, orphans who lost their parents - oh don’t look at me like that, you look similar enough, if Brac had blond hair and your nose was longer - then they’ll take you in, we’ll come in claiming to be some long-lost relatives, and then we will overthrow the king! Then I - or we - will be rich beyond comparison, fueled by the power of magic. But, in order to do that -” he pointed at the two terrified teenagers, smiling brightly, “you must do your part. Do you understand?” A pause.

    “Yes, master Alden.We are both dead the moment we leave.

    It was quiet. So this is what a executioner’s day must feel like, thought Geth. Ghosts everywhere.

    “Master Alden, I cannot allow this. It is clearly illogical. We cannot control five horses with the three of us, and one less cart will mean less opportunities for trade and profit. I cannot-”

    “Then don’t, Stig! I don’t care, you can do what you want, but if you object so much you can just leave! The hot sun will dry out your mouth soon enough. You may be wise or knowledgeable or whatever passes for snobbery in the east, but I have had enough of that, and remember that if you step a foot out of this caravan you will be an enemy of me, and I will make sure that you’ll return home in a shroud!” He shouted at the shocked man, jabbing his finger into Stig’s chest. “Now help me prepare the boys for their grand adventure.”

    He has gone mad, he has gone mad, he has - Brac stood frozen in his spot. I will never see Gondor. I will die here, in the wastelands, just to wait to see some people find my body, picked to the bone - His train of thought was soon cut off as he was roughly picked up and thrown into the cart. Struggling, he thrashed about, fear and terror blinding his sense of judgement. I hope the great demigod gives us a painless death -

    “What are you so afraid of?” murmured Geth. “There is a Dunlending encampment a couple of days from now, of Cadarn the Wild. Go east. And don’t you dare mention my name. Have you already forgotten the homeland so quickly?”

    Startled, he stared at Geth, mouth agape. “Are you showing kindness?” he quickly answered, “What has possessed you? Where is the real Geth? You hate all of us, I bet you want us all dead.” He paused. “The world has gone mad!”

    Geth flinched. The world has gone mad. The words felt too familiar. “Just don’t want another ghost following me, that’s all. One is already enough. Besides -” he ironically sneered, “this way I get all the treasure, and you have to leave the group.” He waited, slightly amused at the shock on Brac’s face. Alfdidn’t look much better, sitting still in the cart, clutching his sleeping roll. Maybe he’ll snap out of it. Clapping the shoulder of the still-shocked teenager, then walked away. “Don’t come back now,” he called over his shoulder. “Stig, let’s get going.”

    Stig, for his part, still looking - is that concern on his face? - mildly concerned, paced behind the grinning Alden. “The food levels, if split, will surely not last us the month. It is better if we combine forces together, while we still can. We will need more workers on the coming journey. I urge you to -”

    “Oh don’t worry about it! Look, they’re ready to go. This must be how my mentor felt, ready to go out into the world. He was so proud of me, far more than Ada, cur-”

    “We have limited water resources. I ask you to conserve your energy.” Aldenquickly fell silent.

    He keeps referring to Ada, thought Stig. Most intriguing. Perhaps she may be a better trading partner. He remembered the name for later.

    He glanced at the two teens. Brac, for his part, kept staring towards the east, opening and closing his hand. He saw Gren talk to the boy, but it was in a tongue he couldn’t understand.

    Alden quickly stood up. By then, the trade goods were tightly packed, and the horses horses itching to go. “What are we waiting for?”

    He motioned for the other horses to start again, watching as the caravan horses slowly started their slow trudge to the south. Satisfied, he turned towards the unusually restless horse.

    “Remember Sue, you’re carrying my hopes. Now go!” He slapped the horse’s rump, urging her to go on. She stood still.

    “Now, Sue, you don’t have all day you know.” She remained still.

    Cursed horse of Ada! Go on before you’re horse meat. Shoo!” He swatted her head away, pointing to the west. “It’s a couple of days’ ride from here, and we both know you know the way. Go!”

    She turning her head, attempting to bite his hand.

    “Oh you know what? Geth, stop for a moment and give me a rope and a pike. I’ll tie you down if I have to.” Geth silently Alden the rope. He watched the almost comical scene unfold as the old mare kept pacing and stomping around, attempting to bite Alden’s hand, futilely trying to avoid the rope around her neck. He snorted, reaching for the pike, when a sudden flash stilled his movements.

    On the horse sat the bloodied man, almost transparent because of the sun, looking straight at Geth. He was laughing, his crooked smile seemingly at odds with his sunken eyes and severed arm. “Truly the world has gone mad! Truly the world has gone mad! A killer showing kindness, a mentor showing death! The land turning into sea, the dead coming from the east! Truly the world has gone mad!” His screeching laugh crackled in the air.

    Geth blinked. Did he actually speak for once? Is he-

    The ghost disappeared before he could finish his thoughts.

    “What are you standing there for? Did you not hear a word I said? Give me the pike!” Alden interrupted his thoughts. He’s not real, he’s not real, he repeated to himself. Still, he found himself frozen on the spot, replaying the ghost’s words. The land turning into sea, the dead coming from the east…?

    Suddenly, the horse reared up, kicking Alden onto the ground. The rattling cart shook Alf from his stupor, but by then it was too late. In a bout of surprising agility, she turned the cart away - to the east, thought Geth, dumbfoundedly - then galloped off, the cart flying right behind her.

    “Cursed horse!” Wheezed Alden, grasping at his chest. “She listens to no one!” He shakily stood up, helplessly looking at the speeding horse, now far away.

    “You!” He pointed at Geth, “you bet I didn’t listen to what you said, didn’t you? Telling them to go to enemy territory! I knew I should have never trusted you, I bet you’re after the treasure yourself! Now we’ll lose them, but there is still time!” Stig looked at Geth, who shrugged in reply. “What are you two doing just standing there, go run after them!”

    “If I may interject,” stoppedStig, “I believe this may be a blessing in disguise. The two are heading towards the old Arnor route, which is in fact the quickest way across these lands. Let those two become the decoy, and maybe we can instead head directly to the golden castle. Since we are taking the coast, it will take us longer - enough time for the two to have reached the source.”

    “They were heading east through, weren't they?” Geth interrupted, “the village is to the west.”

    Stig pointed to the direction of the now-gone horse. “If taken, the old Arnor route eventually heads to Tharbad, upon which the river can be followed to Lond Daer. All the two have to do is listen to the horse and follow the trail - she is wise enough. We should continue heading south until the Isen River, which we can then follow until we reach the coast. From there, we can travel north. That will give us new markets to trade in, time for the two, and-”

    “And I can be at the castle with my own eyes!” Alden clapped the man’s shoulder, eyes shining. “A two-pronged strategy, like a real army! You are splendid, Stig, it’s a shame you have to leave. I’ll pay you double in gold when I become king, and you are welcome to come trade whenever you want.”

    “Of course.” Stig smiled, tight-lipped and annoyed. Alden’s spirits were still high, however, and he quickly rounded up the horses. “Well, what are we waiting for? South we go!”

    “How much food do we have?” asked Alf after a while. Sue’s gallop had slowed down to a slow walk, the two boys walking next to the horse.

    “Enough for a week, if we ration out well. I’m not sure about the water, but I think we can find a stream, or something, to make sure we have some water.”

    “That makes sense.” A pause. “What did Geth tell you, anyway? You sounded really shocked.”

    “What? Didn’t you hear?”

    “I can’t understand Dunlendish, none of us can. Well, maybe ma- no. Not master. He doesn’t deserve that name anymore. I think Alden can, though.”

    “I was speaking Dunlendish? I didn’t realize. Maybe I just got caught up in the moment.” Another pause. “Geth said that there is an Dunlendish encampment a couple of day’s journey from here, of Cadarn the Wild. Truthfully, I don’t know who he is, I live more towards the Mountains, and I’m slightly afraid. But it beats having to face the demigod. Have you heard of their power?”

    Alfstared, incredulous. “Geth? He told you that? I can’t believe it. I thought he was mean to the bone.”

    The two continued to walk in silence. Overhead, the noon sun slowly turned into a golden red sunset, shining bright before its disappearance. “I’m glad we’re going to the Dunlendings, though. I don’t think I’m ready to face imminent death yet.”

    “Imminent death?”

    “Years ago, my father also wanted to trade down south. You know, my father, the trader from Bree. Said that the black markets are black because they make profit, and the only way to do that was to go to new markets. Or something, I don’t really remember. He doesn’t like talking about this, I only heard from my older sister, and a little from my mother.” Who I’ll never see again, he thought bitterly. A sudden wave of despair washed over him.

    “Hey, it’s not that bad! We can take the old Arnor route to there, I think, it shouldn't be that bad! Master Stig said that it’s the quickest way. We’ll be there in no time. Besides, you have me, and I can at least speak Dunlendish.” Brac laughed nervously. “Although I haven’t spoken it in a couple of years.”

    “No, that’s not it. It’s just -” he stopped. “I miss my mother, that’s all.” Brac nodded in understanding.

    “Anyway, he wanted to go, like Alden. Lond Daer he’s been to before - ruins and all - but not exactly to that place. But my mom objected, she was a sensible woman from the countryside, she said, and she knew magic and she knew danger when she heard it. No one ever came back alive. They had a huge fight over that, my sister said she threatened to leave with the children. So my father finally relented, and sent a cousin of ours in his place as a messenger, with a beautiful brown horse and a message of peace.”

    “What happened to him?”

    “Well we didn’t hear anything for a long time, probably a couple of months. Then, suddenly, his horse showed up on the doorstep. The saddle was half-loose, and -” he stopped, suddenly choking up, “flecked in blood. My father stopped trading down south after that, only going to Rivendell or to Lindon. He still thinks it was his fault, I think.”

    “That’s why he was so against you joining, right?”

    “Yeah, I think so. I may be the youngest son, but I’m still his son. He made me promise that I would never go down south towards the village, and stick to sensible routes. So I guess in that sense,” he said, petting the neck of Sue, “I’m glad that I’m going to the Dunlendings. They don’t have magic.” He smiled cheekily at Brac, who couldn’t help but smile back. “Or do you?”

    By now, the sun had completely set. It was dark, and the waxing moon illuminated the grassy plains.

    “You look tired.” Brac said, noticing the drooping figure of Alf. “Why don’t we stop for a bit? I can take the first watch, and you the second. Not that we have much to guard.”

    “Good idea,” replied Alf, yawning. “Mind if I sleep inside the cart? I don’t feel like setting up camp.”

    “Be my guest.”

    Curling up inside the cart, Alf closed his eyes, quickly falling asleep. Brac quietly unraveled the rope and unhooked the harness from Sue, who started to graze on grass. Sitting down by a wheel, he steeled himself for night ahead. This time, I cannot afford to daydream.

    It was the sixth day. The noon sun was gracious on them today, covering its harsh rays with a blanket of clouds. The worn Arnor road, damaged and unsalvageable as it was, provided a useful guide for the boys.

    At least it’s still visible, thought Alf. He remembered finding it for the first time and being flooded with relief.

    It was the third day. The days fell into a lull - walking slowly, taking turns sleeping and watching guard, sharing water with the horse. Brac, confident as he said he was in his navigation skills, was starting to feel uneasy. Until...
    “Is this really the road?” Alf asked dubiously. “It’s in worse repair than I thought.”
    “It is, trust me. It has got to be. There is no way those pebbles got there by accident. Besides, I heard it’s worse in the south, since no one uses it. Anyway, we should head north. But which way is north?”
    “It’s to the left, I think.”
    “No, to the right.”
    “But the road looks better to the left.”
    “Trust me, I have the navigation skills, it’s to the right.”

    The boys were arguing for a while, until old Sue whinnied, as if to say ‘silly children,’ then walked away. The two boys looked at each other, paused, then scrambled towards the horse. And that was that.

    “Where are we, anyway? Are we even following the right path?”Alfwondered. “The road wasn’t this bad the last time I saw it, what do you think?”

    “I mean, we are following a river, I know that for sure.” He looked down. “It’s not much of a river though, more like a big creek. At least it’s providing us with fish. Speaking of fish, how much food do we have left again?”

    Alf looked at the cart. “Enough for about three more days, I think. You fish well enough, we can last longer. I’m glad we found those berry bushes, too, that gave us enough food for a couple of days!”

    “We would have had more if you didn’t eat it all.”

    “Hey! Your hands were stained red too!”

    A pause. “Really, though, I thought we would be at least near the Green Way by now. Are you sure Sue is trustworthy?” The horse shook her head. “Ok, ok, I understand. You’re trustworthy. But really, where are we?”

    “I don’t know, but there are no ruins” Brac pointed towards a small collection of trees along the creek. “So I definitely think we’re not in Lond Daer.”

    “... I think we reached the Greyflood river. But I don’t know where”

    “Why do you think that?”

    “Look.” replied Alf, pointing at the long-winding creek. A rushing sound of water was faintly heard in the distance. “It’s the river. And we have no way of crossing it.”

    “Well, let’s try to get as close as we can to the river and camp there. Maybe we can find something.”

    Geth regretted not pushing harder to leave the group. Ever since Stig’s most likely made up plan, Alden was ecstatic, pushing farther and farther south and claiming bigger and bigger things, certain that they would reach the Isen in a matter of days. Or so he thought. Geth had a sneaking suspicion that Stig was trying to bring the now-lucid captain closer to the shore and towards Lond Daer. Why? Because he could almost smell the ocean. And he hates the sea. So he always knows where one always is, so he can stay far, far away.

    And also because he had an actual sense of direction, which the captain apparently lacked.

    “Master Geth, a word.” Stig suddenly said, a week after the sudden farewell of the two. The captain was off at the front, urging on the horse ahead. “We both know that the captain is currently in not the most stable of states, and our profit margins are low. I have some contacts near Lond Daer, with whom -”

    “We’re in Lond Daer? That’s what I thought.”

    “Quiet now. No, but only a day away. But as I was saying, I have contacts near the area, around where we are currently located. They would be willing to pawn off the excess goods,” he said, motioning towards the man in front, “so we can be free of our obligations. As chief strategian, I believe that for the company, and for everyone else for that matter, to succeed, that is our only option.”

    Geth stared, startled, but soon smiled. “You’re really not from Dorwinion are you, Stig?” He chuckled. “From Umbar or somewhere else, no doubt. But why are you here, in this old rickety group? Oh, no matter. I probably wouldn’t be here either if I had a choice.” He held out his hand. “So, do we have a deal?”

    The two shook hands.

    “There should be a bay not very far. Look, where those trees are clustered in the distance. We should arrive by sunset. Look for a sea-lion.”

    True to his word, the sun was already starting to set when the trio reached the bay.

    “Where are we,Stig?” asked Alden. “This is not Isen.”

    “Indeed not, master Alden,” he stated, “we are at the mouth of the Greyflood river.”

    “What for? Near Lond Daer? You are going against plan, what is your reasoning?” Stig stood silently, looking around the bay.

    He actually knows something
    , thought Geth. Maybe I should help a fellow schemer out.

    “For your army, of course,” Interrupted Geth, “for how else would we charge to the golden castle?”

    “Then what are you waiting for? Start looking!” Well, that was easy, he thought, looking around. But what is a sea-lion?

    The trio stood, waiting, as the horses stood, stomping their feet. It would be sunset soon. Time to start camp again, thought Geth. But now we can at least have hope of a dead captain.

    Somehow, that phrase unsettled him. If only you didn’t kill me...

    Last edited by Meltithenniel; 15/Jan/2018 at 05:55 AM. Reason: Bolded some names

  24. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Near the Greyflood River Bay: TA 3014

    The Golden Tortoise and The Old Man

    Long he lived, his shell old yet still tough. His body covered more than 5 feet across the grass, and 500 pounds of golden shell, yellow skin, muscles, and other bones pit-patted across the ground in deliberate steps. 1 foot spanned between the earth and the round peak of his shell. The neck stretched upwards, eyes scanning the soon-to-be setting sun, then eagerly spot some of his favorite greens sprouting upwards. He would have to climb on top of a rock in order to reach, chomp, and drag the plants towards him; but his decades of experience gave him confidence and strength.

    His pace was deliberate, and at the foot of the giant rock overlooking the bay, he placed a paw on a threshold and lifted his giant body up.

    The rock tilted slightly, but that was expected. He wasn't as skinny as he was in his youth, after all. The Golden Tortoise steadied himself, climbing up, craning and stretching its neck to his beloved plant. He chomped, trying to drag the plant towards him. With a snap, most of a few of the long leaves now were in the process of being chewed by the reptile.

    His eyes peered downward, surveying to his surprise 3 humans and horses. He then slowly turned around, tilting the stone in the opposite direction as he slowly slid down the rock back onto the grass and earth. He began walking with more haste, as much haste as a 500 pound tortoise could exert, further into the woods, on ground flatter than the rest. A seemingly 'natural' road through the forest.

    At the end of said road sat a man with white hair longer than his height, and a beard that touched the ground. He sat in a lotus position, his legs criss-crossed underneath him, underneath a shining 7 foot statue of an armored female, whose helmet struck fear in all creatures, except for the various colonies of tortoises that wandered around the statue. The helmet had the eyes and mouth of a dragon, the fangs of a snake, the top a lion's mane, the sides more scaly than fish, and the back the visage of a screaming unearthly face. The statue's eyes narrowed in a glare, and in both arms held sword longer than a long-sword but shorter than a two-handed one. at the base of the statue were a multitude of chests, cleaned as if they were brand new on the outside. Yet who knew how long the chests were placed near the statue?

    The old's man's head faced downwards, the tips of his beard nestled in the grass and ground. He snored, oblivious to the tortoises walking around him doing whatever tortoises liked to do.
    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 19/Jan/2018 at 04:24 AM.

  25. Ercassie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    The Scholar and the Scoundrel - Part 9 (Semi-private with Aranadhel)

    Fëapoldië Aiwenáriel
    with Nolindil Singaladion (Aranadhel)
    at the beach of Alqualondë, YT

    Water tumbled the length of Nolindil’s countenance, grasping at his bold features like a desperate climber on a plummeting fall. If anything, it heightened the contours of his face, and his friend marvelled at the sight of mid-day dewdrops glistening about his pouting frown.

    I made rain,Fea delighted, oblivious to his displeasure, in a half-acknowledgement of wonder all her own. In so swift as her friend could wade safely back to shore, the elleth dared further there about the depths. It took moments afore she lay as a drifting spray of foam, floating on her back. The unsteady carpet of the ocean rocked her in it’s bouyant arms. The water was indeed .. warm. Salty … The taste and the smell of it soaked through her skin until she felt as much a part of it as of herself. She dropped one leg beneath the surface, steadying her form and raised the other high to pierce the sky above. She wondered, if she swam, might she swim forever ?

    Nolindil brought words unto her ear, that turned her mind. A mouthful of saltwater took her the rest of the way back to reality.

    You ask naught, but proclaim of your own hunger !Fea decided, slicing through the cake of ocean upon a determined stride. Her red hair now wept in bedraggled ribbons to trickle twin rivers down her back. She found the shore, and did not look to make exchange of her wet clothes for dry.

    What is it you have brought to sustain us ?” she poked through his bag, without regard for privacy. “No food,” she concluded with a frown. “Well what ever shall you do now ? There is naught in your bags except books and I would not dine on those. But come, you who knows all that there is to know at all. How do we obtain food out of naught ? You are the genius are you not ?

    She entirely forgot that she often declared herself the genius of their pair. For now she would have him solve their dilemma. The adventure had after all been his idea. He was therefore responsible.

    Removing her water-logged boots, the wet flame dashed one quota of ocean over her friend’s head, and the other splashed over herself, as she lost balance on one foot and fell on the fine sand.


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