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Minas Tirith Forums » The Green Dragon » Writer's Block (Page 2)
Author Topic: Writer's Block
Cernunnos
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 652

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The old women looked ever more alarmed as she spoke.

Zâmilgibâl started talking when Arra had finished. Sirri translated for her.

'Zâmil says: who are you, and what have you to do with our House? Who are these red horsemen?'

Arra explained as best she could. She added that she had been having waking dreams about the riders for some days.

'The spae-wives of Shazûr-dûm are alarmed,' Sirri told her. 'They believe you to be a true seer, therefore your visions in the Mirror must reflect at least the shadow of truth.'

Old Izikhâshta now spoke.

'Izikhashta says that council must be taken upon these matters - and at once. Come, let us return to the great hall and consult with my father and King Elessar.'

[ 09-07-2003, 06:38 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cernunnos
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The women hastened together back through the passages of Shazûr-dûm. When they came to the Great Hall of the the dwarf-mansion, they saw King Elessar and his chief officers taking wine with Fandhûr and the most important dwarves of the underground dwelling.

Sirri hurried over to her father and spoke in his ear. The old dwarf's eyes widened as he heard his daughter's tidings.

'Lord King!' he said to Aragorn, 'Here is most startling news! It seems a True Seeing has taken place, and it is even this child of men, Arra, who was with Orlin and his sons upon the road, who has had this vision. We should at once repair to the Chamber of Council, and there attempt to establish the import of this seeing. The Mirror of Ulukhânda is not to be ignored, nor the advice of the spae-wives of the Khazâd neglected.'

'I bow to your wisdom in these matters, son of Ziggathûr' King Elessar said. 'Let us proceed.'

Fandhûr spoke rapidly to his chief counsellors in their own tongue, and they led the King and his officers through a door in the inner side of the Great Hall to a second chamber, like but much greater than the Chamber of Seeing, with stone carved seats ranged in two ranks around its walls. Ushered by Sirri, Arra and Melyanna followed the King. The three spae-wives came after them.

[ 09-21-2015, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Roll of Honor Arra
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Once seated in the chamber Arra was asked to give a full acount of the vision in the mirror. When Arra finished speaking, King Elassar spoke. "Have you had any other such visions?"

Then Arra told of her nightmare and the waking dreams. "I don't understand it but every time I get this urge to go to the tower and rescue my brother. And don't ask me how, but I know he's there in the tower." Arra figeted nerviously, for she had no idea how she could be a seer. She felt that somebody had made a big mistake.


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Cernunnos
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'The Seeing chooses its own time, and often the Seer does not relish the Gift,' said Sirri. 'Do not be afraid, Arra. We understand that these visions must be disturbing to you. Take this thought for your comfort: ofttimes the Gift fails when some great chance has come to pass that was foreseen. Your sleep may not always be troubled.'

Arra smiled at the dwarf-woman in gratitude for her kind words.

'I believe that we must treat these signs with all gravity,' Elessar said. 'It seems plain that some peril hangs over Shazûr-dûm, and that this child, her brother and these red horsemen must in some way be caught up with it. But how they are connected defeats me at this time. Let me hear your counsel, friends.'

Ruthu daughter of Fandhûr now arose and spoke.

'If I may, Lord King, I would suggest that the key to this mystery may lie in the tower that Arra has seen these several times. If we knew where it lay . .'

'A good thought.'

Elessar turned to one of the men in his suite and said:

'Artamir: tablets and a stylus, if you please.'

The man, one of the King's scribes, handed him a set of wooden writing tablets inlaid with wax and a metal scriber.

'Arra, I would like you to try and draw the tower if you can.'

Arra came forward and took the tablets. She sat down with them on her knee and shut her eyes, trying to remember the appearance of the tower as exactly as possible. When she had inscribed its outline as well as she could, she handed it back to the King. He studied the drawing for a moment and then handed it to Fandhûr.

'I myself know most corners of Arnor well, having travelled these lands over many years in my youth. Yet this tower does not seem familiar. Perhaps somewhere here beyond the Lhûn? I have seldom crossed the river before.'

Old Fandhûr studied the tablet, then handed it to his daughters.

[ 09-21-2015, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Cernunnos
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No-one among the dwarves seemed to recognise the tower in Arra's drawing, however. Last of all the tablets came to Melyanna, who glanced at them casually. She gasped.

'I know this place!'

Everyone's eyes were suddenly upon her.

'That is,' Melyanna said, embarrassed, 'I think I do. It is in the hills to the north-east of Rivermeet. There are ancient ruins among them which I have seen while out hunting. No-one lives there now, though . .'

'In the Emyn Uial? Could enemies be lurking so near to Arminas? Indeed so near to Annúminas?' said Elessar. 'Still, those hills are, as you say, unpeopled and desolate. I had not considered . . Yet any towers there must be long roofless and abandoned. Some buildings made by the Men of Westernesse in the first strength of the North Kingdom there were in Emyn Uial, if memory serves. If they have been re-entered could their restoration have escaped our vigilance?'

'Well, My Lord, hardly anyone ever goes up into the Hills from Rivermeet. The country is trackless and difficult,' Melyanna said. 'The last hunting trip was perhaps two years since.'

'Nor do our folk have cause to visit them,' Fandhûr added.

[ 09-21-2015, 04:11 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Celedaen
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The only elven member of the King's Guard, Vanyon of Imladris looked at the tower. "My lord king," he began respectfully. King Elassar turned to look at him. "My lord, six months ago I passed through the lands you speak of. I did see people at work rebuilding some of the fortifications, but as I was travelling on an errand and with friends who had cause for haste, I presumed that their settling there was lawful, though I did not like the feel of something there that I could not name then, nor can now." Vanyon frowned. It disturbed-but did not surprise him that even after all the many wars and skirmishes new evil might arise.
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Cernunnos
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'One might discern a certain bold cunning in enemies forming a stronghold in the Emyn Uial,' Vanyon continued. 'The Evendim Hills are seldom visited, as we have heard. Yet they are, as has been said, within only a few leagues of Arminas and Annúminas - within striking distance, might one guess?'

'Indeed,' Elessar replied. 'And they are situated near the western borders of Arnor, facing the friendly dwarf-realms of the Blue Mountains whence no danger is expected. It may be that the abduction of Arra's brother, deplorable as that is, has served to warn us of a conspiracy. It must be looked to.'

[ 09-21-2015, 04:13 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Roll of Honor Arra
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"Not meaning to seem rude or anything, but what do we do now?" Arra asked in her confusion.

"I say we finish up here and investigate this strange tower." The King said looking around at the nodds of approveal. There were scattered shouts of "Here! Here!"


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Celedaen
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All of us?Vanyon wondered. It would be far easier for a small group to make an unnoticed reconnaissance. If the King went, these outlaws might be warned in advance and leave without a trace, to start again elsewhere. However he said nothing. He would wait and see if someone else thought the same way and only if no one else did would he say anything.

This message has been edited by Celedaen on 07-21-2001 at


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Cernunnos
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Almost as if anticipating his thought, the king turned to the Elda and said:

'Vanyon, your recent knowledge of the Hills may well prove invaluable. Select a party of woodcrafty men who can seek out this tower without risk of detection. We must know with what we are dealing before we move larger forces.'

'My Lord.'

Vanyon smiled as he bowed. Plainly the King had not forgotten his long years as a Ranger of the Wild. He remembered how he himself had helped to train the young Estel in herblore and woodcraftiness when he was still a boy in Elrond's House - and had had no finer pupil.

'Melyanna,' Elessar said, 'Your experience too may be of great service. Consult with Vanyon if you please.'

'Certainly, My Lord,' Melyanna said, delighted to be considered useful.

Old Fandhûr now arose, along with the other dwarves.

'I have but one request, King Elessar. When the battle comes, let the axes of Shazûr-dûm shine beside the swords of the Dúnedain!'

'Granted full willing,' the King replied.

'Please let me come too!' Arra said.

'If I understand rightly all that has been said, Arra,' Aragorn replied, 'I think there must assuredly be some part for you to play in this affair.'

'Yes. I feel it somehow,' Arra replied.

'Then, friends, let us at once to business.'

[ 09-21-2015, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Celedaen
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Vanyon decided against adding more people to the small group, the less of them there were, the less likely they were to be noticed. His plan was to observe first to get numbers, how many men, out of those how many fighters and the like, then attempt to infiltrate the group and free the girl's brother. He could not plan more until he knew more and was ready to leave at first light the next morning. Arra and Melyanna, though their intentions were good, were less ready.
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Roll of Honor Arra
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At dawn Arra rushed out of her chamber with her pack on her shoulder ready to begin. Half way down the hall Arra skidded to a halt, turned around on her heel and raced back to her room, where a puzzled Melyanna was dressing. "Forget something?" Melyanna asked the red head who was busily ramsacking the dresser.

Arra let out a triumphant cheer as she held up the item she had almost forgetten."Rope!" The young girl grinned, then impacently waited for Melyanna to pack her things.

The two girls grabbed a quick bite, then went to the stabbles. Melyanna had to hold Arra's hand to keep the girl from running off. She was practically skipping at the idea of saving her twin. They found their horses saddled and ready.


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Celedaen
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Vanyon had already been up for an hour and was pleased to see the girls looking more awake than he expected them to be. This was a good start.
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Cernunnos
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The two scouts Vanyon had selected to accompany him entered the stable a moment later. Weather-beaten men in grey cloaks, well-armed with sword and dagger, they looked quizzically at Arra and Melyanna.

'These are Amaranth and Dúathuin, Dúnedain of Arnor and Rangers of the Wild,' the Elf said by way of introduction.

'Are these girls to go with us, Vanyon?' asked Dúathuin in surprise.

'The King has given his permission,' the Elf replied. 'On condition, as I will now remind them, that they do exactly what I ask of them when I ask it. Young Arra's brother was stolen away by the Red Riders I told you of, and Melyanna here is the Captain's daughter of Rivermeet. She knows the Emyn Uial better than most.'

'This is not to my liking, Vanyon,' Amaranth said, frowning. 'What are we, scouts or nursemaids?'

Arra flushed with annoyance. She had got herself out of difficult situations more than once in the past, during the years in which she had wandered over the wide leagues of Middle-Earth.

'I need no nursemaid, Master Ranger!' she exclaimed. 'My twin Barin has been stolen away by these Riders, and is even now lying alone and afraid in their stronghold! I intend to do my best to rescue him, and if you do not like it, you will have to chain me in the deepest dungeon of Shazûr-dûm if you want to stop me setting out with you!'

Dúathuin grinned and glanced at his comrade's face.

'Whoa now!' he said. 'Plainly we should let you take the lead, and set you on any enemies we come across. Assuredly they will fly before you, if you come at them in that mood!'

[ 09-21-2015, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Cernunnos
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'Our present need is for secrecy and stealth,' Vanyon said. 'The courage of these young women is not to be doubted, but they are not trained to arms. Therefore, though I have no doubt Arra would take on a host of orcs to rescue her brother, we should not come to blows unless we are ourselves attacked. I hope to avoid this, but it will be wise to prepare for all eventualities. Here,' he said, throwing leather-sheathed dirks to both girls. 'For defence only.'

Arra and Melyanna caught the weapons and bound them onto their belts. The double-edged daggers were almost long enough to act as short-swords. Arra drew her blade and whistled.

'Real dwarf-make!' she said. 'How much can they be worth!'

'Sirri daughter of Fandhûr gave them to me to lend to you. Bear them to good fortune!'

The Rangers had swiftly checked their horses and loaded the small amount of gear they were to carry. The five led their mounts out of the stable. Beads of dew dripped from the ends of the thatch. Middle-Earth was still wreathed in mist although a glow in front of them foretold the rising sun in the distant east. Arra shivered and drew her cloak over her head. The songs and cries of the dawn birds sounded loud in a world where most things were still asleep. Arra looked back at Shazûr-dûm on its terrace below the cliffs of Zûrukhinbar. A single yellow light glowed from a rock-cut window high above the great arched entrance. All else was still. But now some figures muffled in cloaks came through the wicket in the huge bronze-bound doors, four small and one large.

'Look,' Arra said, 'Sirri and the three spae-wives have come to see us off.'

'And so has the King,' Melyanna added.

The cloaked figures stood silently before the door. Aragorn held up his sword Andúril in salute, and the first ray of the rising sun glanced from its edge. The five scouts lifted their hands in farewell. Vanyon spoke softly to his horse in the Elvish tongue and he trotted forward, the others following. The five riders soon vanished into the mist.

[ 06-08-2016, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Cernunnos
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Vanyon's plan was to strike north-eastwards and cross the Lhûn some distance northwards of Rivermeet. He knew of a place where the river spread wide among long shoals of water-rounded pebbles, shallow enough to ford with care.

At first the travellers passed through the lowlands of the dwarf-kingdom - ploughed fields, paddocks and orchards. Occasional forges or wooded houses of the families of the men the dwarves employed to tend their fields were to be seen. With the rise of the sun some bustle began to be seen about the homesteads, and the riders waved to sleepy faces who looked at them in surprise as they trotted past.

The first stage of the journey through this friendly country was easy going for the horses, as the land gradually fell in long slopes from the Blue Mountains down towards the valley of the Lhun. Going at a brisk pace, Vanyon hoped to arrive at the river at the end of two days journey.

The travellers spent a comfortable night on straw in a barn beside the way, and got to know each other a little better. The Rangers Amaranth and Duathuin were civil companions, if inclined to be taciturn. Vanyon, on the other hand, had a wealth of old tales and songs at his command, the heritage of the lore-masters of Imladris, to which Arra and Melyanna listened with delight.

'It would be wonderful when all this is well over, Vanyon, if you might lend me some of your word-hoard,' Arra said. 'My brother and I are travelling entertainers, as you know. The more tales of old days we know the better.'

'That would be pleasant, Arra,' Vanyon said. 'You should come to Rivendell, where all ancient lore is treasured. Although Master Elrond has departed, some of the High Elves remain with his sons Elladan and Elrohir, and the Lord Celeborn has crossed the mountains from Lórien to make it his abode. You would be welcome, and there could learn all that your heart desires. Do you remember Imladris, Melyanna?'

'No. Mother told me I was born there, of course, but I left it too young to remember anything.'

'I think I remember you - at least, I recall a gaggle of young men-children, and no doubt you were one of them. Many of the Dúnedain of Arnor took refuge with my lord Elrond during the War of the Ring. I met your father the Captain then. He was eager to go south with your grandsire Halbarad to the aid of Aragorn - but we must remember to say King Elessar now, mustn't we? - but Halbarad bade him stay in the North to help defend the families left behind.'

'Yes. It was so sad Grandfather never came back. I don't think Father has ever really got over his death.'

'Be sure, Melyanna, that you grandsire died well,' Amaranth said. 'I was in the riding of the Grey Company from the north. He was a true heart, and a true friend, and bore the banner of the Lady Arwen to great glory.'

Melyanna asked the Rangers what else they could tell her about her ancestors, and they talked together for some time. Arra listened with fascination. Strange to think that she did not even know what her grandparents had been called, but these Dúnedain could trace their longfathers back for century upon century.

She smiled to herself. She was obviously among the gentry now!

The next day passed without incident, and as evening was falling the travellers came down the last slope through a fair open country of grassland and scattered trees, haunted by deer, to the western bank of the Lhûn.

[ 06-08-2016, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Celedaen
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"We're being watched," Vanyon said quietly as they made camp. "I count two, distant, but they are here." Amaranth said, not taking his eyes off the fire that he was starting. Arra felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up and her hand crept toward her dagger. "No. Not now. Let them think they have found us unready. I do not think they wish to fight, yet." Vanyon said.
"And when they do?" Melyanna asked.
"Then we shall see."

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Cernunnos
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'Where are they?' Arra asked.

'Some distance along the bank to the south - no, don't turn round to look. We can talk freely, if not too loud - the river will cover our speech,' Vanyon replied. 'How long till nightfall would you say, Amaranth?'.

'An hour or less - and the Moon is five days waned from the full,' the Ranger replied.

'Yes, and He will not rise till late. Good, good. Dúathuin and I will pay these visitors a visit in the darkness - to establish their credentials.' The Elda smiled grimly. 'In the meantime, girls, make camp as if nothing has happened. Picket the horses close by. Arra. Melyanna. Draw water from the river as if all were well.'

The girls nodded and went about their tasks as casually as they could, trying to avoid the temptation to look over their shoulders every minute. It seemed to take a long time for the sun to fall at last below the Mountains. Great flaming bands of scarlet showed above the peaks - a glorious sunset.

'Red sky at night . .' Arra said, half to herself.

'Betokens a fight!' Dúathuin the younger of the two Rangers said unexpectedly. He winked. 'So long as there are but two out there, however, I don't fear as much. Vanyon could take a coney from between the paws of a wolf were the night as mirk as the abyss of Moria. I have more care for what may lie on the other side of Lhûn, where the thickets are denser. Many could lie hidden in the coverts yonder, and not even the Elven sight would discover them.'

'Yes, but it's a risk we will have to take, isn't it?' Arra said.

'That's as maybe,' the Ranger replied. 'In the meantime, sit round the fire - but not too close. Vanyon and I will be gone shortly.'

The first stars began to peep out in the velvet curtain of night above. Earendil shone in a gap between two of the peaks of Ered Luin. Arra and Melyanna watched them come out one by one overhead. A shooting star flamed across the sky for an instant and the girls gasped with delight. Arra had always felt they were lucky omens. Amaranth sat on the other side of the fire, resting against a tree. He had his pipe out, and was blowing smoke-rings apparently without a care in the world.

Presently, Melyanna said:

'Vanyon when will you and . . Vanyon?' there was a muffled chuckle from Amaranth. The two scouts had slipped away without their even noticing.

'Stay sharp, girls,' he said. 'Now we shall see.'

[ 06-08-2016, 03:30 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Roll of Honor Arra
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Arra grew impacient for the scouts to return and twiddled her tumbs nerviously in the growing darkness. Melyanna sensing her friend's tension suggested with mock cheerfulness, "How about a song Arra?" The red head looked up startled then nodded.

"Don't sing too loud now." Amaranth cautioned in a hushed voice. Arra simply nodded again.

"When evening in the Shire was gray,
His footsteps on the hill were heard.
Before the dawn he went away,
On journey long without a word.
From wilder land to western shore.
From northern waste to southern hill.
Though dragon lair and hidden door.
In darkling woods, he walked at will.
With dwarves and hobbits, elves and men,
With mortal and immortal folk,
With bird on bow and beast in den,
In their own sercret tongue he spoke!
A deadly sword, a healing hand.
His back was bent benieth its load.
A trumpet voice, a burning brand,
A weary pilgrim on the road.
A lord of wisdom throned he sat.
Swift in anger, quick to laugh.
An old man in a battered hat,
Who leaned upon a thorny staff.
He stood upon the bridge alone.
And fire and shadow both defied.
His staff was broken upon the stone.
In Kuzadum his wisdom died."

Arra finished her song as she heard footsteps draw near.


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Cernunnos
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Amaranth signalled to the girls to be silent and arose. He slipped into the shadow behind the tree he had been leaning on. The footsteps were soon revealed. Vanyon and Dúathuin came back into the firelight, leading a third figure. Its hands were tied behind its back and there was a hood pulled down over its head. Dúathuin stood holding the bound figure while Vanyon gestured to the girls to come aside with him.

'Don't speak for the moment,' the Elda whispered. 'There's no reason why this one should know of what kind we are, or our numbers. Let the Rangers question him. The other one out there is safe for the moment - I will explain later.'

The girls nodded and sat down again.

[ 09-07-2003, 06:37 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Cernunnos
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Dúathuin pushed the captive's shoulders down so that he sat in front of the fire. Amaranth and Dúathuin came and sat silently on either side of him. There was a moment of quiet. The man seemed to be muttering something to himself inside his hood.

Amaranth spoke abruptly in his ear and he started.

'Well now, brother. The hunting's good round here, I see. A fresh coney caught without your drawing breath. But what was it doing straying out of its hole, I wonder?'

'Best answer like a good bunny what my brother asks,' Dúathuin replied. 'He has none of my sweet nature, and has a short way with liars. If they lie to him they end up shorter.'

The captive cast nervously from side to side.

'Now,' Dúathuin went on, 'It may be you had a good reason for sneaking behind tree-trunks. But next time choose one that's thicker than you are. Who are you and what is your purpose?'

'I . . I friend,' said the man under the hood in a strange accent. 'I working for dwarves, herd cows. Cows get lost, I coming to river, look for cows.'

'Cows? A cowherd?' Dúathuin asked.

'Yes, yes! I cow-herd! I see strange peoples, robbers maybe, I hide trees!'

'What need has a cowherd of this?' Amaranth growled, taking a long knife from Dúathuin's hand. He jabbed the point, none too gently, between the wretched man's ribs.

'Chase off the wolves, the bears!' the man said.

'This is a fighting knife and you know it,' Dúathuin said. 'If you are a cowherd, where is your staff, your sling, your horn? Where for that matter are your cows?'

'I losing cows, all gone . .'

'Not the best cowherd in Middle-earth it would seem. So you work for the dwarves do you, Master Cowherd?'

'I working, yes, long time!'

'Indeed? Then you must know the name of their dwelling?'

'Err . . I know, of course! It is . . Shazi-dum!'

'Very good. And of course you know the name of the Lord of Shazi-dum. The dwarf you work for?'

'Of course, he is, err, he is Fanaddar the Dwarf.'

'And naturally you know what he looks like?' Dúathuin went on softly.

The captive was making sounds remarkably like weeping inside the hood.

'Yes, err, yes, he is good dwarf, he is black hair, he is rich clothe . .'

'Ah, I see you do know . . Fanaddar. And you remember of course, the golden sword he always wears, and his three sons?'

'Yes, yes, I knowing all, is good friends to poor people like I . .'

'I don't know, brother,' Dúathuin said. 'I just don't know. I try to be reasonable. I try to let them know how important it is not to get on your bad side, but do they listen? I think our friend here wants to lose some of his extremities. I think he's saying to himself that he'd manage fine with one hand instead of two. Feet? Who really needs them? And as for that thing between his legs . .'

There was a low and evil chuckle from Amaranth.

'Just think of the shining future that awaits him in the harems of the South. Eunuchs can be great men in the courts of the Haradrim I hear.'

'Oh please, mercy on a poor man, kind sirs,' the captive babbled. 'Not to cut off any part of me, please!'

'I grow weary of this fellow's whining,' Amaranth said fiercely. He got up, and pulled the captive to his feet. 'Now you will tell us who you are or I will sit you in the fire!'

The watching girls gasped involuntarily. Vanyon shushed them with a gesture.

'Quick, quick, friend coney!' Dúathuin said. 'Speak now, I won't be able to hold him back for long!'

'Oh mercy, mercy!' the man said, almost screaming. 'I tell all, all truth! Please not to burn!'

'Who are you?' demanded Amaranth, still holding the man barely upright, close enough to the fire so he could feel its heat.

'I am Rafkhîsh! I am from Umbar! I sail north to serve the Great Master!'

'Who is the Great Master?'

'Mercy, sirs, mercy! I cannot say! It is oath! It is death!'

'I am going to count to five,' Amaranth said grimly, 'And them I am going to let go. One. Two . .'

The man screamed in fright and babbled: 'Mercy! I tell, I tell! Only you must protect I, kind masters, they will come in the night, they will steal my soul away . . !'

'Talk, and then we will see about protecting you,' Dúathuin said.

'I tell all, truly!' Rafkhîsh replied. 'Some water, I beg! I cannot speak . .'

Dúathuin nodded to Amaranth. Plainly the wretch was cowed and would talk.

[ 09-07-2003, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cernunnos
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Amaranth pulled him back from the fire and let him go. He collapsed in a snivelling heap. Melyanna brought over one of the water-flasks, and Dúathuin let the captive have a slurp from it.

'Thank you, thank you, kind masters! I tell all. I sail from South, from Corsair city, as I say. Long, long voyage.'

'When was this?' Amaranth asked.

'Is many months. I is not want to come to Northland. Is always cold. The White Demons live here. But I must come, to serve the Great Master, with many others. I was servant in the Temple of the Lord of the Dark in Umbar. My father gave me to Temple when I child. When I live in Temple six summers, then is time of Great War against the Blasphemers of the Stone-land and the White Demons of the North. Many go north to fight: men, ships, mûmakil. Most is not come back. We hear that the Lord of the Dark is overthrown, that his Tower in the Black Land is fall down, that he is vanish forever. The Priests of the Temple are afraid - who will pay tribute now, who will make sacrifice? The people murmur against the Temple, they say: what has the Lord of the Dark brought us but ruin and death? We will throw down the Temple, make friends with king of Stone-land-men, King Alazaar.'

'King Elessar,' Dúathuin said.

'Yes, yes, King El'saar! But then the Great Master came to Umbar. He was chief servant of the Lord of the Dark. He said: I know that the Lord of the Dark is not gone, he will return! Then Faithful will have great reward, but those who turned their backs on their Lord will perish and their souls will go into the Dark and be tormented forever! There was war in Umbar between the followers of the Great Master and the rebels against the Lord of the Dark. Long war, but in the end Great Master and the priests and their servants and warriors were thrown out of the city of the Corsairs by leader of rebels. And this Shanâsh calls himself King of Umbar now.'

'Ah yes, King Sannis. There was an embassy to Minas Anor not long since - but continue, Rafkhîsh.'

'Yes, kind sir. Great Master now arises, He says: follow me. I will take you to new country where we will have revenge on all enemies. We thought we would go east, or south. But Great master says: no, we will go north and establish ourselves in very heart of Northland. He says: I know all the counsel of the Lord of the Dark. The Blasphemers are weak in the far North, for their Wizards and the greatest of the White Demons have lost their power and departed forever, and in the North the Stone-land-men are few. And he said further: I am of the kin of the Stone-land-men, and I know all their lore, and in the North in a secret place is a great treasure with which we can summon back our Lord, and His enemies will perish before us. Then many were afraid. But the priests supported the Great Master, and constrained us to follow him, and those who would not follow were slain and their souls cursed to Darkness forever.

'So in the end we gathered all the weapons and horses and food we could and we took ship. We went far out to sea, so the ships of the Stone-land-men and the ships of the White Demons who live beyond the Mountains there would not discover our sailing. And we sailed so far to the North that the sea turned to stone and many perished from the cold. But at last we came to land in the Bay of the Snow-men. The Great Master said: let the ships be sunk, for there will be no returning, we will conquer or die. And so we came down through empty lands - for the Snow-men fled before us - into the hills above the big lake. And the Great Master said: look across this water. Those lights you see are the lights of the chief city of King Alazaar in Northland. So close, yet they do not know we are here. Here we make our strong place and lay our plans.'

[ 06-08-2016, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Celedaen
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Arra was growing impatient. When would he explain the attack? If he even knew about the attack. Too many questions and just not enough patience!
From: Somewhere in Arda | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Arra
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The captive is set to the side and the group gathers for council. "They know too much to be realised." Amaranth spoke in a whisper.

"And yet they are not corrupt enough to kill out right." Duathuin hastened to add.

"They?" Arra thought ther was only one captive.

Amaranth growled, "We tied another one to a tree to keep him out of trouble."

"So what do we do?" Melyanna asked anxiously.

"The only thing I can think of..." Vanyon suggested, "Is that we separate. One group takes the captives back to Rivermet and the other continues on the journey." The elf waited for his idea to sink in.


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Cernunnos
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'I am in doubt, Vanyon,' Amaranth said. 'It would be prudent to sent two back with the captives, yet it seems to me that three is too small a number to continue into unknown dangers, especially as - forgive my plain speaking, girls - you do not have our training and experience.'

'I am inclined to agree with Amar, Vanyon,' Dúathuin added. 'This Southron has already told us much. With a little more persuasion, even more might be forthcoming. Also, this news of a host of foes in the Hills must come to the King's ears without delay. The whole of Arnor is in peril. The dwarves of Shazûr-dûm and Círdan's people are also threatened.'

Vanyon thought for a moment, then spoke decisively: 'You are right. What we have learned is too important for us to imperil. I am sorry, Arra, we must return to the King with all speed. I know it is hard. I hope your head can see it even if your heart cannot.'

Arra was not so besotted with the idea of rescuing Barin herself that she couldn't see the sense in what the scouts were saying, especially as any rescue would probably have to involve much larger numbers of people, if Rafkhîsh was telling anything like the truth. After a moment's struggle she bit her lip and nodded.

'Good. Then we will start for Rivermeet before the dawn. The King and his party should have reached the town by the time we arrive there. One of us should ride for Shazûr-dúm at the same time. Amaranth?'

The Ranger nodded.

'Good. Go and bring that other wretch along here where we can keep an eye on him, Dúathuin. I've a question or two more for our Southron friend, and I've a shrewd idea of how to squeeze the answers out of him, even without Amar's winning ways. Bring him over to the fire, would you?'

The Ranger grinned and lifted Rafkhîsh up, holding his hands behind his back.

'Now take his hood off.'

Amaranth pulled the hood off to reveal a thin, black-bearded face. The Elda looked into the Southron's eyes as he blinked in the sudden firelight.

'Do you know who I am?' Vanyon asked.

For a moment Rafkhîsh looked puzzled, then suddenly frightened.

'You . . you are shebhîr-kish!' he replied, trembling.

'Yes. I am a White Demon. And what do they say of the White Demons in Umbar, little Southron?'

'They . . they are live forever. No souls. Suck spirits of Faithful out with evil eye. Oh, mercy!'

The man was plainly terrified. Suddenly, Vanyon laid his hands on either side of Rafkhîsh's face. His eyes popped wider than ever.

'Now, you will tell me exactly what I wish to know, or I will feast on your soul, Rafkhîsh.'

The man struggled, but was helpless in Amaranth's strong grip.

'I tell! I tell!' he said.

'That other fellow. What is his name?'

'He is Ukhtîm. Is servant of temple like I. But he is not speak Westeron, only Umbar.'

'Very well. How many are hidden on the other side of the river?'

'I not knowing - truly! - but all hills, all passes watched. Only Ukhtîm and I on west side river. Watch for dwarves, for King's men.'

'And what are the plans of this Great Master of yours?'

'Oh sir, I am but a servant, only to obey, not to ask questions. They tell me nothing!'

Vanyon studied his face for a moment.

'There is no lie in your eyes - which is as well for you. Very well. You will be let live, if you cause no trouble, and so will your fellow there.'

'Oh thank you, thank you, merciful master! Kind sir . . !'

'Enough. Amar, tie him against a tree for the night.'

Dúathuin now brought up the second prisoner, stumbling over tree-roots as he came. He was tied to another tree-trunk, and Melyanna was asked to give them some water and food.

'Get some sleep, girls,' Vanyon said when she had finished. 'I will take the first watch.

[ 09-07-2003, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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