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  1. #1

    Post [RP-Story] The Bringer of Fire - The Blade and The Blind [Newly written chapter: 1.]

    The Bringer of Fire
    The Blade and The Blind

    Shouldst Thou fall in the wild, lift thy voice to the Cloud Realm. The one who answers will be thine salvation.
    - Ælbdís Gaomee of the Cloud Children



    The Story
    Summer dawns in the lands of Middle-Earth as Ælbdís Gaomee sets out alone to reach the lands of the North, those of her birth, her true home. But as at the sky darkening clouds approach and she passes the Anduin to the west of Dol Guldur, Orcs break from beneath the undergrowth and assault the blind maiden. Alone her cunning and a twist of fate rescues her from certain death and she can drag herself, wounded by an arrow many miles south to the village of Stangard. As she arrives, Ælbdís meets one she had not expected. Edstan, a boaster and womanizer and to that Greatest Knife-fighter who ever lived as he claims, can persuade the guard to let the wounded elf enter the settlement in order to rest. Edstan realizes quickly that this meeting had not been by chance but that their path are now bound to lead next to one another. Helping the Elf to recover she offers him to accompany her to the lands of her since long lost kin: The Withered Heath. Undaunted does the boaster agree, proves Ælbdís his abilities in a training session. Therein does the Elf lead the Man on the secret Elven-Path, beyond the plains and hills of Rohan, over wild lands and up to Esgaroth; Edstan's home. Soon however it is clear that the situation is far more dire than the two had expected, for the Erebor as well as Lake-Town are greatly endangered by the Easterlings. Soon the friends find themselves between two fronts, for in the Withered Heath is a fiery evil at work, weaving its plot to take power.



    ~Author's Note~
    To the beginning I will only post a sort of prologue, the training fight mentioned in the forword, before I then start to write chapters and to update this thread once in a while. Of cause will the story also be on the Laurelin Archives, chapter for chapter, progressing as my RP with Edstan does. Until Rohan is here, or any other lands to the North we will most likely use already given loactions as settings. Who knows, maybe if you look out, you will find us! The Story here will be made mostly of the RP of course that Edstan and me will perform. Some things I might change in form and/or order so that I do not just post a chat-log here. I will prepare it into novel-form. The upcoming prologue and fighting scene was barely re-worked, the following chapter will most likely hardly to be perceived as from chat-log written. Some scenes I might add, as well as fictive characters or antagonists in order to have many perspectives.
    I hope you enjoy the reading! Your Ælbdís Gaomee



    Prologue




    Edstan brushed himself off.
    "Alright! Any rules? Or are we just going to duke it out like brawlers?" he asks as politely as he could to which Gaomee smiled. She took up her helmet of ancient craft. Some of the Rohirrim eyed them already, interested, some suspicious. Her red hair fell down the sides of her face unto her chest, the winged helmet of her kin, adorning silver her head.
    Edstan however said nothing, merely watching Ælbdís strap her ornate helmet to her head. His eyes were not focused on the eyes of the men, nor was his head set on other problems. Right now, it was Ælbdís, and his blades. Nothing more. With hands draped over the pommels, he cocks his head, waiting for a sign of confirmation.
    It took Gaomee a moment to think as she drew 'Aldoreel', her ever loyal sword.
    ''Rules? Alas, no deadly manoeuvres of course. This is no battle of foes, but one of friends. Speak the word 'end', if thou wishest to end this combat. For whatever reason.''
    '’Are you ready?'‘ was what Edstan announced. It was cold and calculated. Enough that any trained combatant would know that this was not going to be a fight of friendship, but rather a lesson to be learned.
    Gaomee nodded and raised 'Aldoreel', grasping the blade with both hands. She slightly spread her feet on a stabile position, the blade perpindicular to the horizon next to her. An easy stance. ''I am ready,'' she announced in return.
    Edstan had a sudden look come over him, like a hood being drawn over his eyes. "It" had surfaced. In the blink of an eye, Edstan was gone, replaced by something that was way, way out of Ælbdís league; or so Edstan would claim. He blurred, strafing around his opponent, his knives drawn so quick that Ælbdís would have little time to imagine how he had managed to unsheathe them. Already, he was closing in on his friend, knife being plunged towards her wounded area. Cruel. But in a fight, there were was no sympathy, and Edstan did not fight with honour, though he blatantly lied about such.
    The Elf was unlike the man called Edstan, who claimed many a thing of which everything held a true core. As he assaulted her like a storm, with his blade known as 'Tempest', it was her who was calm. A faint breeze within the eye of a great wind. Ælbdís stepped forward, evading the thrust of the first knife closely. Turning on her heel, she launched herself a counter. She had heard the man, knew where he stood. And while Aldoreel perform a wide arc towards her opponent, her own foot rushed forth, aiming for the sensitive spot of Edstan's heel.
    Edstan caught the arc of her attack as she whirled from his strike. His foundation, ever moving, stepped with her and his foot barely missed the stomp. He didn't allow the change of her counter to allow an opportune for yet another strike. His offhand, with blade gripped tight, spun towards the opposite side of the wounded Ælbdís, while Tempest carved up in a staggering wave towards the bottom of her chin. He was precise in this action, making sure that his wrist was flicked properly and if anything were to come in contact with that, it would be the hilt of the blade, and not the end of the line, which would be difficult to explain to anyone why he had 'accidentally' murdered someone.
    Ælbdís had no chance but to retreat from this assailment. Aldoreel flew up, crossing the path with Tempest and the sound of their meeting was bright. The blades left no carves in one another, for they were both forged in the North, both in a way akin to each other. They knew that there was no true danger for the lives of their masters, alas for their pride there was. By having met Tempest, Ælbdís found her opportunity to jump back. The pain from the arrow wound in her side stung like a wasp and it made her draw sharply breath as she landed on her feet, took to her own safety another step back, so that Edstan could not launch an immediate attack on her. She had to make air between them for a moment.
    The man’s lunge was properly executed and while still caught in the momentum of it, he tucked into a front roll and screeched to a halt there on the soft dirt. He'd not allow her the chance to gather her composure. She was where he wanted her to be. Had her eyes not been blinded already, he would have dared scuffle some of the loose soil to toss as a diversion. Alas, that trick was not his to use. Darting towards his opponent again, he waved both arms towards his mid-centre, making use of his toned limbs as he lashed out both blades in a stunning slash that crossed towards Ælbdís in two long forty five degree angles. Striving to her sides would be ludicrous and so too would advancing towards him be ill advised. As a last act to ensure he had his opponent where he wanted, he brought his leg up in an attempt to smash the blunt of his heel against her waist. A gamble.
    Gaomee had thought of the same as Edstan, as she let Aldoreel circle in order to prevent his knives from striking her. His storm began to push her to a cornered position, made her unable to counter. Her initial plan had it been to kick Edstan as soon as he would have reached her. Now both opponents seemed to have had the same thought. Foot rushed against foot, while the blades of the North clashed together in a quick melody of bright tones.
    Edstan had expected retaliation, but not of the same technique. His foot connected with hers, causing him to stagger and lose his pace. Edstan allowed her this chance to gather her footing as he too had to do the same by tucking back into a crouched stance. He took a deep breath, his eyes analyzing her weaknesses. Many came to mind, but ever changing was a body in combat. He hurled himself forward, his left arm striking down towards Ælbdís hip, while his main arm swung as though he aimed to strike the elf across her chin, only to flip the grip of the blade inwards to carved at her midsection. It was a simple manoeuvre that would have tricked someone that used their eyes. This was his disadvantage and he knew the sound of the shifting blade might be all persuasion he needed to perform his next act, but it too was just a gamble.
    Ælbdís had regained her footing quickly. Balance she had in her blood, in her being and few brought her too loose it. Hence she was prepared when she heard the noise of Edstan's bracers move, the blades shifting their position, cutting the air to a slightest. From below Aldoreel came up to be her shield. First the blade to her midsection was deflected, while a backhand blow fended off the other. Taking that Edstan was attacking her so easily, she thought him to be still recoiling from their impact. Aldoreel shot forth, between the knives like a hawk towards the source from where Edstan's sound of breath issued.
    Edstan however smiled. The back hand blow was exactly what he had wanted. He went in rhythm with her deflection and spun around in a dangerous twirl. The sound of his cloak shifting in the wind and action to come around her lunge. He had moved from her line of attack to whip around the elf. Her back was exposed now and he lunged in for yet another blow. A killing blow, which of course was going to be strictly the ends of both knives coming into contact with her lower back less her hearing caused her to make what had been done in the confusion of the flurry of Edstan's movements.
    Gaomee’s thoughts spun, as she heard the steps and felt how Aldoreel met nothing but air. It dawned her too late. In that moment Ælbdís let herself fall. The knives she might have evaded, but the quick movement caused her arrow wound to shriek up. Both hands were needed to take the impact of her short fall, letting go off Aldoreel. The moment, she landed, the moment that the pain shot in an arc up her spine to her head, robbing her momentarily of her orientation, Ælbdís raised her hand and spoke the word.
    ''End,'' she said.
    Last edited by Gaomee; Jun 04 2012 at 09:37 PM.
    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

  2. #2
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    Re: [RP-Story] The Bringer of Fire - The Blade and The Blind

    not sure if I should respond here, as I reckon you like this thread reserved for your stories. But I just wanted to say it was nice reading. Very nice writing and good depictions. Started to read and kept my attention to the word 'End'
    Keep up the good work
    -ACHAZIA-
    Songwriter in The Shades and my music at Soundcloud
    Contributer at Lotro Players
    The Shadows

  3. #3

    Re: [RP-Story] The Bringer of Fire - The Blade and The Blind

    Thank you Achy! Though praise goes also to Edstan, because of the prologue he wrote at least 50%
    And of course people may comment in between the chapters, tell their thoughts, what they liked or didn't like, their expectations or a short rating of the chapter!
    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

  4. #4

    Re: [RP-Story] The Bringer of Fire - The Blade and The Blind

    Chapter I.
    Indebtment




    We stood before the Secret Grove
    Yonder thousand stars did we behold
    A firestorm upon the place beyond.

    The skies were struck with fire,
    The Bringer burned the clearing.
    The Bringer then consumed it,
    It burned all trees to ash;
    Reduced them - to Dust.

    - Last Tellings of Ljósálf, Lord of the Cloud-Children


    The smell of mead was in the air surrounding the patrons of the tavern. It was an old building, the wood already brittle, the counter stained with the spots of ale and plonk that the men were drinking here.
    Edstan smirked. "It's uncommon for someone like you to be found in such places." he said, pulling back the hem of his hood. "Yet here you are. I expected to find you somewhere outside. What's the occasion?"
    Gaomee received a large piece of dark bread from the man behind the counter as Edstan appeared next to her. She turned her head into his direction and smiled lightly. ''I am indebted to these people,'' she said and wrapped the bread into a rugged piece of cloth. ''I will and they will not let me depart ere I have paid that debt. They have tasked me to do them a favour in return for their hospitality. Here I stand and prepare to venture into the wild.''
    The man nodded.
    "Well now," he said and looked to the bar keep and shook his head. "I have quite a few debts myself, of course they are to be given out when I return. And it's always," he held aloft a single finger. "Always, after I help them. But being a hero, well, I promise to aid them if ever they are in trouble. So when I come to some town, village or great city, half the time I hope that I will not be approached. Alas, I usually am and the cycle begins anew." Brushing his hands off, he tosses Gaomee a glance before looking towards the door. "So what is in the wilderness?"
    ''I have hoped thou wouldst ask. I am certain thou couldst not wait here idle until my debt is paid and we can finally depart to the north. It is thy undertone that gives it away, friend.''
    She smirked into his direction and adjusted the belt over her chest that held her quiver. A broad band of leather that seemed too large for her scrawny appearance. The Elf put the bread away into her backpack as she spoke. ''Orcs have troubled lately these people. And they say at the last skirmish the captain would have spotted a large one. I am to bring this orc's head to the Keeper of this village. Then I can leave.'' She held up her hand in defense before Edstan could come to word. ''It seems a high price, but the expectations are high for one of my kind.''
    Edstan groaned. "You agreed to kill some confounded orcs?" he snorted. "I like a challenge but all you're going to get out of a few slain orcs is their stench over your armor. Takes weeks to come off."
    He brushed his large hands over his weathered breastplate. It was ornate for being fashioned from leather, with interesting patterns that scaled down his broad chest to his waist where a few spare knives decorated an otherwise simple few buckles and straps. "Well, not that I am indebted to you as of now and seeing as I am free, I'll come along as you expected."
    The immortal being smiled at him by his words. She did know Edstan's lust and ambition for adventures. He would never become one who would sit all day about and do nothing but to drink and stare into the empty air. This man was a man of the road and deeds.
    ''Then I am glad. I would advice that we leave now. The camp is a few miles away from here in the thick forest of Thinglad,''
    Gaomee explains to him. ''I prefer to do this assassination in quietness and shrouded by the night that approaches us. The orcs are thick and numerous. There is no need for us to take a risk.
    The Knife-fighter cocked his head, a look of anxiety crossing his rugged features.
    "Good! Meet me out by the west gate, be sure to have your belongings in order and take whatever precautions you need for departure. The closest I will get to this town again after this assignment, is the outskirts. For I tire of it and need to see the other side of the horizon. I do recall a certain tree stump I enjoyed nestling under. The wind was sweet there and the bushes ripe with wild blueberries." With that smile still spread across his face, he turned and left the tavern without another word.
    Gaomee remained a few more moments after Edstan had left. The elf thanked the man behind the counter, received an extra something that felt quite like a horn filled with mead; then she made for the door.
    She stepped out of the tavern and took a deep breath. Rain, fresh and cool air was what she met this early evening. She could not see it but the sky was clouded by a thick grey layer. It was her element and exactly the weather that she liked the most; It was so likely to this feeling that she experienced. A mixture of nostalgia and ambition.
    Ælbdís Gaomee raised her hand before her chest as she slowly and carefully made her way towards the stables. Edstan had wanted to meet her at the west gate and today the wind was coming from the east. Orientation was something the blind elf lost seldom and only under special circumstances. But as long as she had the chance to concentrate and not too many noises about her, she felt save. The Elf smiled as she came upon her companion. Sora, a fine steed from the northern regions. Carefully she brushed over the horse's nostrils, letting it issue a strong breath. Despite her blindness, Gaomee mounted Sora with a practiced precision. Patting the horse's neck she gave a silent command that it was time to make their way.
    The village they passed now through, Sora carrying her friend, was small, maybe a few dozen houses with a large mead-hall upon a hill. However, Stangard was highly fortified, with a tall wall of strong wood and several towers overseeing the surrounding lands. Nothing would come near the settlement without being surely spotted. The hills were too flat in order to serve as good hiding spot for groups of enemies that would actually pose a threat to Stangard.
    Miles to the north, one could spot in the dim twilight the outskirts of Mirkwood and the woods of Thinglad. That was Gaomee's destination.
    She raised her head at the sounds of hooves.
    ''Edstan?'' she asked into the empty air.
    "Good. You are ready then." he smiled, looking to Ælbdís as he approached. "It is I." he responded. He had made certain to give Aisling, his mare, her share of spiced carrots. Edstan could go no where without her having her share. Patting the back of her mane, the horse buckled and kicked. For it was always a sport to try and kick her new master from her saddle. Ever would he be her "new" master for she was earned through thievery.
    "Make way then. It is your bounty."
    Gaomee nodded as she pulled the cloth over her nose. It concealed half of her face. More a tradition by now than an actual use. The Elf took then a deep breath and listened into the night that had now come. The sun was glistening only to the slightest over the horizon as the two companions made their way. A faint line of a bright green mixed with the dark blue of the blanket that was thrown over the land.
    ''Let us seek first a vantage point,'' she said to the sound of the hooves hitting the ground. ''I like to have a point of return should something go as we had not planned.''
    Edstan did not answer to that. He would leave it to her to lead them. For a few miles they followed the road, until Gaomee was moving upon the plains, covered in high grass to the north. The hills became here higher, more steep and from time to time they had to dismount in order to lead their horses by the reigns. More and more upwards led the way and shortly before it became tiring they stopped.
    Ælbdís tilted her head about. The sharp wind broke itself by the rough edges of the rock they were standing now next to. A hill with a top of stone, adorned with several gaps and holes. A perfect place to hide horses and equipment. The hill was to that very steep and nothing and no one could make a swift approach upon them. Ælbdís dismounted.
    Also Edstan dismounted Aisling, although quickly, knowing that she was going to try and rear him off. He had grown accustomed to this and always kept one foot in the stirrup. Just as he expected, she raised up and Edstan held tight to the reins holding her and waited for her hooves to meet with the soft hills before leaping from the beast. "It amazes me each time you lead yourself somewhere Ælbdís. You must recite the number of footsteps you make or use your keen senses far more than I. I am envious of your hearing and scent tracking which are likely far above my own and believe me when I say that I make a great scout all boasting aside."
    Gaomee smirked as she led Sora towards a gap in the stone. With her fingers she began now to search for a good spot, where she could bind the horse unto, so that if the wind would become loud, the beast would not run astray. ''I hear very well. The wind here tells me the form of this rock. Each gap and each cleft. How large or how tall it rises into the sky,'' she elaborated.
    Edstan nodded. Leading Aisling behind Ælbdís, he whispered into her ears; Promises he intended to keep. Whether she recognized what he had to say or not was beyond him, but his knowledge of elven lore seemed to soothe the beast when he spoke as one of them. "Must be quite an experience. One that I likely will not share in as you do. I've been blinded by wicked men left in the dark for days due to some powder or potent mix of a sort. It's very interesting to say the least." Finding a nice area within the cleft, he reached his large hand between a crevice and grasped a strong root. Giving it a tug or two, Edstan was convinced that this would hold Aisling in place. He tied the reins to the roots and made his way around her to his saddlebag. He took out an apple, holding it out for her and whispered: ''Agoreg vê.''
    Ælbdís had not the luck of Edstan nor the strength. She found no suitable gap for the reins and the rope to be bound at. But the elf relied not much on luck, she was a being that came prepared for any situation. She had to, for being unprepared would likely mean her end as a blind. Turning around, Ælbdís as well reached into her saddlebags and after a short time of searching in them, brought a weird metal hook into vision. It appeared like a little ship anchor, though of course a lot more filigree and obviously old. Rust had been setting itself upon the device. It even made a slight screeching sound as Ælbdís moved a small pipe wrapped around the lower end and brought with that the teeth of the anchor into movement. A fine mechanism, but such things were left unregarded by the Elves of the West. It was due to heir kin's friendship with the dwarves that enabled her to such knowledge. The Elf bound the rope around the lower end, squeezed the anchor into a gap and adjusted the metal pipe until the device set strong between the stone. Nothing could move it now by force.
    She nodded. ''There,'' she said more to herself and turned into Edstan's direction.
    Edstan simply smiled. "Anchors." he said with a shake of his head. "I've a story or two to tell on those, but now is not the time." Pulling his hood back over his head, he checked his bracers and trappings to make sure they were secure. Ælbdís had mentioned assassination and that meant silence. Looking around the entire area, he could spot figures moving in the darkness barely, but not enough to identify whether it was an orc he was staring at, or just a goat. They roamed these parts and were infamous for eating the food stocks and during a time as such, they were worth more dead than alive.
    "Are you aiming for one particular orc or a whole charade?"
    The Elf stepped forward until she had reached the steep edge, where she kneeled unto the ground.
    ''One particular is the target. I believe the Keeper of Stangard means a strong and large exemplar, thinking it the orc's leader. They want to cut the snake's head of, us being the blade they wish to use.'' She laid her head unto the ground, remaining silent for short. Few people, especially those in towns who were not familiar with the wild, could barely imagine how far the vibration of a single step could be felt and in Gaomee's case even be heard. ''It might be even the same orcs that wounded me. So the debt is extended. But I fear for us being terribly outnumbered.''
    Edstan smirked. "You're actually wondering whether we are going to be outnumbered? We already are technically. Two against many and had I not come, you would have been alone so the thought is silly, Ælbdís. " Not bothering to mock her actions to see if he could find a better read out of what she was scouting for, he instead looked to the dark horizon again. He could see the thicket of trees and began treading down the hillside. "You said it was near Thinglad. We are not exactly near it. Let's make for the forest."
    Ælbdís nodded at his words without responding and followed his steps. They wandered down the steep, careful not to set small stones loose and to betray their location to a possible orc party. The abomination were now most active, now that the sun had gone and they dared coming from the thicket, haunting the game in the night with their crude bows and poisoned arrows.
    The man whispered just above the breeze. "Be wary of the wildlift. Orcs are just as easily riled by a simple doe's stirr." he warned.
    With hands resting on both hilts to his blades, he continued carefully into the forest. The ground was littered with dead branches, loud enough to crunch if barely any weight was pressed on them. With a gentle nudge of his foot, he skid them from his path and crouched over, keeping himself as small as he could. His eyes scouted what could be a lead on an orc party. Orc filth, blood, their intricate arrows or other foul things would be a dead giveaway and given the borders of Lothlorien lay near, he doubted even orcs would be that careless.
    Gaomee's steps were silent. Wherever she tread no sound issued and that was her greatest weapon. Due to her blindness she preferred the night and the approach in a stealthy manner. She sneaked right behind Edstan, taking her large bow from her back. An arrow rested on the weapon. The elf sniffed the air, trying to determine anything that would help them to locate their prey.
    On and on went their way through the thicket. It was quiet. Only the foliage of the highest trees sometimes rustled up by the wind. But no animal stirred and nothing seemed to move.
    Edstan's eyes had been scanning the undergrowth and while he could spend time scouting the areas, he had learned long before that if anything lie dormant, it was certain to come to him if he lay in wait. There, in the north, something had stirred. Creeping towards the sound, he moved as silently as he could make of it, lowering his eyes, he saw naught but a squirrel. That was when he heard the sudden break and out leapt an orc. Drawing both his blades, he managed to parry the overhead swing and called out back to Ælbdís.
    The blind Elf heard the shout as quick as it had issued. The sound of the orc breaking through the thicket, the rough leather which noise lay in the air as Edstan's knives were freed. Ælbdís drew the tendon back and let fly - the arrow missed and flew further into the night as it then vanished. A curse she let go over her lips. The sound of metal grinding on metal wasclearly echoing through the forest as the man battled the orc. The second arrow hit its target. Howling up in pain the orc stumbled to the side as the long projectile pierced his crude armor, broke a rib and let dark heart-blood gush forth through the wound. Edstan's blades brought the howling to an quick end.
    The knife-fighter took a deep breath, lifting his eyes to Ælbdís with a wild grin spread over his face before turning to look back in an alarmed state of being. The last he wanted was to be taken by surprise yet again, and he circled around the corpse of the orc to avoid that issue entirely. "Well," he pointed the end of Tempest towards the slain creature. "There is an orc. One of many and likely not the one we are looking for. That would be too easy."
    Ælbdís knelt down to the dead creature, taking the shaft of the arrow with a hand. It was stuck as she found and had pierced deeply. But she would not leave one of her precious projectiles behind; each one of them were valuable and one she might have lost already in the woods. Ælbdís hence drew the knife Anghigil, set the blade by the wound and with a crunching noise she cut the orc open. Its stinking entrails with a wave of black blood laved forth upon the forest ground as the elf bend the ribs apart and retrieved back her arrow. ''This was a solitary orc. If it were not so, the howling would have attracted even more of them,'' she said and then began to let her fingers roam over the still twitching hands and fingers of the monster. ''Now tell me something ...'' she apparently asked the orc. Her fingers continued their search.
    Edstan said nothing more, allowing Ælbdís the time to search her foe. The kill had been quick, but had he been more alert as he claimed to always be, he'd have caught the orc in midswing and slit its throat. A simple and clean kill by all merits. It ran through his mind smoothly and he silently cursed himself for not have made that sweet kill a reality. It would have to wait for the next orc. That was when the first whiff of the orc blood filled the air and Edstan scowled. No one, not even orcs, could have become accustomed to such stenches. Stepping away from the corpse, the man made use of the time to look from whence the orc sprang. Perhaps something could be found there if not on the orc iteself, or maybe Edstan was giving the orc too much credit on it's intelligence.
    Gaomee stood up and came up to the man after searching the dead foe. With her hand stretched out she held but a faint piece of skin, that she must have cut loose. A symbol was burned into it, probably many years ago, for the burned edges had healed and had left a crude scar.
    ''What dost thou see here?'' she asked Edstan offering him what she held.
    Edstan looked to what was being offered and he simply eached out and took it. Any normal being would have been content with seeing such things from a distance, but not him. Sniffing it, he furrows his brow and hands it back to Ælbdís. "Nothing. The orc was stupid as they are known for." he says quietly. "This is your scout, Ælbdís. I can find you a camp of orcs but to find one above the others?" he blinks and turns to face her. "I don't even know exactly what we are looking for. You told me not any real details. Was there something you wanted the men in the tavern not to hear?"
    The blind let the piece of skin simply fall. It was of no use after her and Edstan's judgement.
    ''It must be the camp's leader we are looking for,'' she told him. ''Probably guarded heavily, but also easily discovered. If we find the camp, we will find its leader and once we located him we can plan of how to dispatch him.'' Ælbdís walked a bit further into the forest, taking cover by a stone. ''What could prove hard is to take the leader's head, as requested for proof.'' Turning her head to Edstan she smirked. ''That is why I brought thee.''
    Edstan corrected her. "No, you did not bring me. I offered myself and came. Even had you said no, I would have stalked your footsteps if but only to look at your lovely rump. It is very provoking you know ..." Flashing a wink to Ælbdís, though she would not catch it, he rested his calloused hands on the rough surface of the boulder and looked out from behind it.
    The pace they were making was slow, but Edstan knew that such recklessness, especially at this moment, would be unfruitful. Sucking on his index finger, he held it up to catch the direction of the wind. The trees made it difficult to detect, but he could feel it brushing from the west. Edstan began to think of life as an orc, even as foul of an idea as it was. If he were to make a camp, it would have been deep within to shield from even the slightest of breezes. That would make striking a fire more simple, but of course, he was overthinking again, or so he kept telling himself.
    "Where would you have us go?" he asked. "The wind presses against us here and I feel the orcs would be further within the cover of trees."
    Ælbdís Gaomee had already a handful of leaves in her hand. Smelling on them she let them fall again. On Edstan's comments she had learned not to respond. It was who he was.
    ''These orcs are little different from their brethren to the north, they might be even from the same tribal order,'' she explains like a scholar. ''They cover their armor in rancid tallow. Blades of Men often find no hold to strike true on such surface. But the stench of it is far to be perceived. There is tallow on these leaves and surely on the bushes ahead. We follow the way our orc took. His path will be ours.''
    Edstan gestured to the open paths in the forest and scoffed. "Well take flight then. My ways will not be sufficient in the manner of which you wish to find your orcs. I go in, blades flashing and dispatch those that are riled to flee with a knife to the back of their head. Works every time."
    The Elf however held her hand aloft as she began to venture through the thicket. ''Be wary, friend. Let us dispatch them quietly. A storm of the camp unleashing upon us could spell a bad doom.''
    It took not long until they found something. The forest here was more or less open, mighty trees giving each others space to let their crones grow further and further, while anything smaller than themselves began to suffocate.
    Gaomee stood suddenly still. ''We are closing in. Dost thou smell it?'' The elf drew her face to a mask of disgust as she sniffed the air. It smelled burned, a thick stench of smoking flesh and fat.
    The man actually didn't find the smell of smoked flesh to be so bad. It was the fat however that had him heaving if he focused his mind on it. He succeeded. "Smells like a wonderful cookout. Not like lovely trout or salmon back in Esgaroth, nay, but still something of which we will catch offguard." he says happily. "Let us move closer. Collect this head and be rid of this stalking. I prefer a battle."
    The Elf prepared her bow. ''Let the four winds guide us in silence,'' was her short prayer and then suddenly she ran in total quietness in between the thicket. She manoveured quickly around the rocks that stood tall between the bushes and trees as if she could still see. Her perception relied however since long time not anymore on her eyes. Fast Ælbdís sat over a fallen treestump, then took cover behind a rock. They had found what they were looking for. Not a hundred steps before them lay the encampment of the creatures they had been hunting. The light of the fires were clearly shining through the night and they were bright although it was raining. Grunting, gnashing and other despicable sounds were finding their way through the air to the two companions.
    Edstan whispered: "Well that was easy enough a track." he said with a shrug. From the distance, he couldn't tell how many were within the camp, but with fires like such he assumed at least twenty. Those were high numbers, even for him. It would need to be quick and he knew that he might be called to use his bow...which Edstan still lacked proper training for. He merely carried it for intimidation purposes. "So what are we waiting for? Let's move closer!" he bloated, biting his tongue to keep himself from howling like a wild animal. He drew closer, keeping his broad form along the sides of the various boulders. Falling to his waist, he crawled the rest of the way until he was nestled quite neatly. Again, he looked to see whether he could catch sight of any orc, only to be met with quite a plummet and he caught himself just in the knick of time.
    Gaomee tilted her head from side to side.
    ''Dost thou see anything?'' she asked the man in a low voice. She herself had already perceived something like a wall before her. It must be rocks in the forest that had been forming a circle around the encampment. The echoe of the sounds and the wind brought her the image to her mind.
    Edstan shook his head. "No." he muttered. "Just a bit of a drop. We ought to circle the crevice. I am sure you can hear them rummaging about." he said, standing back up. His eyes were alert for anything but luck happened to be with him this time. Up ahead: a lone orc-warrior. Stalking his prey more carefully this time, he prepared to make one clean and killing jab to the creature rather than being caught off guard yet again. As he closed in, slowly at first, he knew that the sound of his approach would become more and more apparent until at last the creature turned to meet Edstan's outstretched arms being held high in the air. His hands carried both knives and with all his might, he struck down on the creature ...
    Ælbdís had caught the approach that Edstan had made. And while he was about to engage his foe, it was a whisper in the wind that spoke: ''I climb the other side.'' In that moment, the Elf had jumped already, falling a few meters to the ground and catching herself lightly. Then she darted forward, out of sight up unto the boulders. She had to learn the exact location of her target.
    The knife-fighter lay his belly flat against the boulder to catch his first look at the orc encampment. There it was in all it's terrible keeping and with so little defence and population that Edstan had the nerve to take his horn that slung across his shoulder and blow into it to alert the nearby foes of the impending danger.
    Looking up above him, he caught sight of Ælbdís lithe form sulking the light storm. Transcending the boulder, he weaved his way around the tents and barricades and waited, waited for Ælbdís to make her move.
    Whether it be by bow or her leaping forth, he'd wait before moving in.
    Ælbdís Gaomee turned her head as the orcs had been alarmed by the sound of the horn. She heard them rummaging, preparing and growling, howling, seeking for the foe that would come. The loudest and most deep in voice must be the one she was stalking over all the time they had set out.
    Ælbdís knew now where her target stood. Her heart began to quicken in pace, for she was aware of that she had only a single shot. One attempt and Edstan would join the fray of battle, would engage the foe and the orcs would do so as well.
    She took an arrow from her quiver, set it silently upon the tendon and drew it back to her chin. The elf didn't breathe. She focused long, her arm holding strong the force with which the bow was bend. Everything she blended out. The sounds of the orcs, the clashing of their crude metal equipment as they ran about, went into formation for a possible attack. The voice of the Anduin in the far background vanished from her mind. Edstan's breath. And then there it was. Thirty steps in front of her, Ælbdís heard the dumb pounding of the orc heart. It became quicker with every passing moment, that seemed like a small eternity to the Elf.
    Then she let fly. The arrow shot forth, cut through the air and split rain drops falling from the sky into thousand wet splinters. The sound of its flight was a short screeching whistle until its journey suddenly ended. Biting through skin, flesh, it found its target's heart. The orc issued a defeated howl as all power had gone from it.
    Edstan had followed after the orc the moment the arrow let fly to pierce the Orc's heart. Rushing out from behind the tent as the beast approached the now visible Ælbdís, Edstan thrust both blades deep into it's sides and before the beast had a chance to swat him away, he used all the muscle in his arms to tear the blades up, through vital organs and flesh until both blades were nestled right beneath the armpits. Pulling the blades free, he brought Tempest, his fabled knife, back full swing and decapitated the orc.
    It's head slammed into the rocks ahead and the body going limp slumped to the branches in a thick coat of stench and blood. Stepping around the corpse, Edstan rummaged through the sharp branches, scraping his arms and fingers despite his best efforts to avoid such trivial injuries and took up the head.
    Stepping back, he didn't bother to signal towards Ælbdís and simply made his way back between the pass and waited for her there while inspecting the lifeless eyes of that which was slaughtered.
    Gaomee was now discovered and it was clear that the time had come to make their way back to safety. An arrow flew past her quite close. Drawing back her tendon a second time she answered the attempt and turned immediately. She had no time to make sure that she had hit. As fast as she was able to she jumped down rock for rock, until a cackling laughter interrupted her. A long thrusting weapon bit after her; would not have been for her reflex, she would have been seized by it. Thrusting her bow forward, she hit the flat nose of the orc. That gave her the time to draw Aldoreel with one hand, letting it strike over the creature's chest. With a snarl, followed by a squeak it fell, alarming the others of her location.
    Edstan took deep breaths. Their job was complete but there was still the issue of making it back to the horses and then even still before, making it through the forest with the orcs pursuing them. It was not many that were on them, but still one orc meant many were near. Holding the head up, he wanted to be reassured they had the right orc and asked if that were so. That was when a large thud came from behind as an orc leapt down to try and cleave Edstan in two. To his advantage, the orc had not thought of the height and landed quite recklessly into the ground with a sickening crack. It still alarmed the man and he drew one of the many knives lining his waist and let it free to become lodged in the skull of the orc, where it lay dead and twitching
    His elven companion turned in surprise. The orc that had jumped down had been not the only one. To several they came from the thicket, from behind the trees and swung their crude weapons, ran against the man and the Elf, certain to overthrow them with their sheer number. Ælbdís held Aldoreel ready, a shout in elven came over her lips as she parried a heavy blow, the axe of her foe sliding overher own sword. Her leg flew up, crushing the creature's jaws with her knee.
    ''Up the steep! Quick!'' she called out and made for retreat, another arrow missing her sharply.
    Gaomee ran as quick as she could, taking leaps over rocks and thick bushes. In her flight she switched to her bow. Edstan barely avoided an arrow shot, sending him rolling across the floor. As he fell to the ground she stopped, covering him by sending off two arrows which one earned her a painful squeak of one of their followers.
    Edstan stood, brushing himself off and avoiding giving any thanks until they were completely out of the mess. Noticing he had dropped the head, his eyes quickly scanned the hills until he found the lovely trinket and took it up to take it under his arms while making yet another run for the exit of trees. Such was his momentum that his hood flew back, exposing a sweat coated face as Edstan breathed raggedly, doing his best to keep himself composed and calm.
    Gaomee breathed in deeply as they reached their vantage point. It was a run that had drained her and the orcs had surely gotten up to them, but since the edge of the forest their advance had gone slow, finally had ceased. Time had gone beneath the notice of the two companions and the first solitary rays of the sun had driven the orcs off. They dared not wander beneath the bright light on the open fields. They retreated back yonder the black shades of the forest, leaving the Elf and the Men.
    Ælbdís rested her arms against her knees and took down the mask from her face, breathing in the fresh and cool morning air. ''That was too close, good friend.''
    Edstan panted and dropped the head near Ælbdís feet. "There." he said, spitting flem onto the grass. "There is your prize. Mine waits for me in the tavern despite me stating that I'd wait for you outside the gates. I think my um" he pat his thick neck. "Throat requires substance and what better than a good mead?"
    He could see one of the watchtowers in the distance from Stangard. It was only a bit away and that was refreshing. "And I'll not hear about how it is not well for me to drown in such things. It's how I celebrate." he said before she had a chance to scold him. "And what did the men of Stangard do for you that I did not that you owed them an orc head?"
    Gaomee closed in to stand aside him, cleaning Aldoreel on the grass from the orc-blood.
    ''They shared their food with me, gave me a bed and to drink whenever I would wish for it. Mistrusting these men are,'' she said and sighed. ''But good in the end.''
    For a moment she was quiet. A faint rumble in the distance calls as harbinger for the thunderstorm that was approaching them.
    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

  5. #5

    Re: [RP-Story] The Bringer of Fire - The Blade and The Blind

    Best screenshot of Edstan and me during our session: Telling stories at the Tavern. A winking Edstan and a slightly annoyed Gaomee.
    :-)

    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

  6. #6
    Chapter II. Presage


    Rohan, village of Stangard, about 30 miles west of the Anduin
    Mid-Summer, T.A. 3018



    Edstan glanced to the lovely Ælbdís and said softly: »Why not go back to that tavern? I saw that you were with someone the other night. Who was it?«, he asks curiously, flicking his wrist to lead Ælbdís to follow alongside him. »It feels like weeks since we last talked, does it not? You are so secretive, even for a woman.«, he chuckles. »Do tell!«
    Gaomee smirked at the man. She found it amusing when he tried to stick his nose everywhere he could, not taking into regard what could come of it.
    »A mere girl«, Ælbdís said. »I told her about Manwë and the belief to him.«
    Edstan snorted. »Indeed? That is all? You did not learn her name, find out her purpose as to what she was doing here; Better yet, introduce her to me?« His hint was very obvious in his disappointment in meeting a lovely lass, especially in a post where vagabonds were ramped and men a plenty.
    »I could have even had a simple drink! You could have told her about what we were planning, even have invited her to come!«
    The Elf rose her eyebrows at that and tilted her head ever so slightly to the side.
    »My point is, without me, things are just not said.«
    Gaomee held her hands up at the playfully ranting Edstan. Wind came up and played with the white-golden hair of the priestess. It was certainly one of the last strong breezes this day, because the year had come to its half. Midsummer it was and albeit Ælbdís knew that many people would celebrate these days, there had been no great mood for a festival here in Stangard. The rations were still short, the man tired and the general morale was low as the swallows that flew over the ground at the now coming summer thunderstorms. The occasional trader that passed through brought a bit change into the monotony of the village.
    »I know her name and much more about her«, the priestess said before Edstan could start again. »Her name was Creowyn, a wandering bard, so she said.«
    Ælbdís stroked a bit of her hair behind her ear. »Her mother is a servant at Edoras, her family throughout villeins working for the nobles of the land. That had provoked my interest.«
    Edstan raises a brow. »And you thought this wasn't something you should have brought to my attention? You didn't think«, sucking in his chest, he tried to imitate the rich accent of Ælbdís, even catching the attention of some of the wandering men on the road. Enough to give them something to laugh at over their drinks when their shifts came to an end. »You should meet my friend Edstan!«, he said, fluttering his eyes. »I cannot see him, but he's right brave and handsome! You'd like him!«
    Gaomee felt quite a bit rebuked at the open and direct disrespectfulness of the knife-fighter. But she could not be mad at him. That was who Edstan was and despite all that and the incredible huge ego, the priestess liked the man. She decided to reply as sharp. »I intended to talk with her, not to scare her away.« The shrewd smile appeared again on Ælbdís' lips.
    Edstan grinned. »Scare her? By having a drink and conversing? Now you're just trying to justify your simple mistake!« he chirped. »I personally and honestly believe you sincerely forgot I was even travelling with you. That our trip into the forest earlier was ill forgotten and you went off on your way without a care as to: Where has my companion gone?« he cocks his head, smirking. »I do not enjoy being dismissed without a proper farewell, and I certainly don't like missing introductions. I am offended.«
    Ælbdís threw her arms into the air. »I did not dismiss thee!«, she defended herself hissing. »And neither have I forgotten thee. I merely did not notice thee when thou enterest. I just spoke to the girl.«
    Now the priestess did indeed appear quite offended herself. She did not, could not see the smirk in Edstan's face and so knew not that he did mean it more in jest than anything else. Ælbdís crossed her arms before her chest, stood a bit side-ways and turned at him with a frown. The shrewd and cute smile had been exchanged against a pout.
    Edstan snorted. »Dear, you need to get a sense of humour.« he finally laughs. »And I thought you knew me! Oh well, anyway, it would have been nice had you grabbed me for some simple talk is all I am saying.«
    The Elf was looking quite perplexed at his words. The indignation she had felt fell slowly off of her. »Fine«, she said after a few moments in which she grasped the situation a new. Her voice had still a faintly hissing tone swinging with it. »Next time, I will search all town after thee only to drag thee to a conversation with a local.«
    Edstan couldn't help but laugh. »I didn't say that you have to go around like a pup searching for it's master!« he says, rubbing his waist. »I meant that if you happen to know I'm about, actually bring me up! I guarantee that you didn't even mention me to this lass. Now if ever she sees you, it's going to be odd stares and I don't like introducing myself to someone that is going to be queer about what should have been told.«
    Ælbdís had taken out a brooch and brought it upon the two edges of her mantle, that held them together before her chest. As she then crossed her arms beneath the white cloth, the picture of a foreign cleric was complete.
    »Next time then«, she promised half-hearted. »Though thou didst not even come up in the conversation, nor did the girl ask if I travelled alone or with someone.«
    Edstan scoffed. »I'm certain that the question: 'what are you doing in these parts' was brought up«, he says. »You're starting to sound like some Breelander wishing to weasle their way out of a mistake that they know was committed.« Pursing a lip, he shrugs. »Anyway, none of that matters. Here we are, still. I put extra emphasis on still«, he says.
    »Why are we not off on the horizon? Some pressing matter still has you here?«
    Gaomee nodded hesitatingly. »Actually, no«, said the priestess and brought forth a small sachet with coins. »This is your part of the orc-hunt. I am free of my debt and have gotten a few coins that I wish to share.«
    She hoped to be able to change with that the topic entirely. »Our horses can be made ready in a short time and we can leave within an hour if you like.«
    Edstan raised a brow. »And what of your friend in the tavern? Will you be departing without her now?« he asks. »You see? You leave me in the dark and I know not what is left undone.« he says. »Aye, we can be on our way, but only if you are ready. Aisling and I are ready to get out of here and see some far off sights, particularly Mirkwood."
    He brushed his hand over his rugged face. »Alright, alright. Words won't say anything.«
    Ælbdís frowned again as the man is able to bring the topic up once more. »I never planned to take the girl on a journey perilous as our«, she commented. The priestess turned towards the direction where the gate would lie.
    »We will go through Lothlórien and they will blindfold thee.« Wondering about Edstan's reaction she waits for him to answer.
    As expected Edstan waved his hands defensively. »Now hold on! Blindfold? I've snuck around the Golden wood plenty of times and I've even had the privilege of navigating down the riverbank on my way out of Mirkwood!« he says. »What would make it any different now? Just have a word with them and vouch for me and I ought to get through! It isn't as though I am visiting the heart of the place!«
    Ælbdís had feared for such an answer and she bit her lip. The realm of Lothlórien was closed to foreigners especially those who were not of elvish blood. The first time, Ælbdís had tried to enter, even she was stopped and interrogated. But by now she was known to be harmless. »Not thee, but I will have to visit the centre for a few hours or a day.« Her face formed into a encouraging smile towards Edstan. '
    »They will only blindfold thee for a few hours and I will walk beside thee. Once we reach the inner lands thou may receive back thy sight,« she tried to assure him. »I can vouch for thee, but it might be futile.«
    »So why can't I grace the outskirts for a while? You go conduct whatever you feel you need to do in Caras Galadhon and I'll just mind myself! I know how the elves are in the Golden Wood. They will not have anything slain nor shall I make work of a fire with the trees that linger there.« Finally though, he let out what was bothering him now more than the idea of being blindfolded. »What do you have to do in there anyway?«
    She remained quiet for a moment. The priestess was not too sure if she should and could initiate Edstan into the business that was actually not appropriate for mortals. »I must speak to someone about my travel to the old ruins of my home. I need advice for the road through Mirkwood«, she finally said. It was not lie that she told Edstan but she did certainly withheld quite a few information. Ælbdís hoped that her talent of orating would have let the words sound convincing enough for Edstan.
    Edstan didn't fall for the ornate words. He was a silver tongued trickster and he knew all the manner of sugar coating vague answers and he'd not be blindfolded, despite the charm he'd experience in living blind as Ælbdís was for every second of her life.
    »We already know the road within Mirkwood, you and I. Like the back of our hands and you far more than I.« he said. »What business have you with those elves of old? Especially with rumour of the powerful witch of the wood?« That too was but a rumour he had been warned of in the cold, black depths of Moria. A warning of the Golden Wood. »I think I deserve that, far more than I deserved to be excluded from the conversation but yesterday, Ælbdís.«
    Gaomee knew that Edstan was right. She nodded at his words. »True, that thou art. Prepare thy horse and leave with me to the north and I will speak to thee of what business carries me entwined with fate towards the Golden Wood and further into the north.«
    With that she turned and walked up to the stables. A fresh breeze danced again around her and it brought the smell of the approaching evening with it. A slight coolness of gathering water lay in the air, the heat of the day was gone. She gathered her belongings quickly. A mere backpack was enough to contain what she needed. A spare set of clothes, old and worn and a number of tools. Her longbow of course that made her general appearance as cleric rather incredible, for the weapon was certainly not usable by someone who did not learn the mastery of archery.
    The priestess mounted up on Sora as soon as she had everything together. The mare welcomed the near of her elvish mistress with a neigh. Perfectly the horse manoeuvred itself and the priestess out of the open stables.
    Edstan still did not entirely enjoy the idea of riding off without word of what was to be had, but he'd not question his friend either. Without words or rebuttal, he followed after Ælbdís, even still with his sly smirk on his face masking his true concerns. With his horse long packed and visibly disturbed by lack of haste, Edstan leapt onto the saddle, grabbing hard to the reins as Aisling kicked once to try and throw him off for good measure and he patted her mane, reaching for a spiced carrot to give the beast.
    "Damn horse, I hate you too." he muttered.
    Pulling alongside Ælbdís, he clicked his tongue and led his way towards the far gate near Stangard's tavern. It was time to be rid of this place.
    Ælbdís turned her head at a voice. Wulfwine, a man of Stangard waved at her, then remembered and said his farewell. If any man but Edstan had been polite to her, then it had been Wulfwine. They had often sat together and exchanged their words. Wulfwine had even gone so far to build a shrine to Manwë in Stangard. A bit downcast did the man look after Ælbdís. Heart-broken one could say.
    She was silent for a good while after Wulfwine had given his farewell to her. Then the priestess turned around her head to Edstan. »The reason, why I must speak to Grandmaster Yarilyión'', she began, »is because the Dark Time is only one step away from its return.«
    Edstan had no words to offer. He was still unsure about what they were on about. His only reason for following along with Ælbdís was because of what he had learned on his last stay in Bree-town. Rumors of ill tithing to his home, and more. Now there was reason to actually commit to such a journey. A companion made it easier, yes. But one such as her was far more precious a thing.
    »And you think that mortals are not to be swept away by such a thing? Or that we have no word of it?«
    Ælbdís shook her head. »The Dark Time is an ancient occurrence«, the priestess said. »Seek Eärendil at the sky and thou wilt find him shine weak these months.«
    Indeed, Eärendil's star was dull in its shine as if it had been clouded by a jealous entity. »There are many prophecies about the Dark Time to return after the Master of Angband was cast from this world. In my old home, we will meet such a prophecy, a part of it.«
    Gaomee raised up her head as they were halted by an imperious voice. »Do not step any closer, vagabonds of the south!« The voice was definitely elven and came from the front. Ælbdís turned her head to Edstan then to where the voice had come.
    »I am Ælbdís, servant and priestess of Manwë, Lord of the Winds and Knowledge!«
    Edstan cocked his jaw and just sat still. He knew that any words he spoke, even in the elvish tongue, would be disgarded. Reaching for his pipe resting in his saddle's side satchel, he struck a chalk of flint against his bracer and lit the bowl.
    »We should have just gone around the damn river...« he muttered, giving a glance to Ælbdís. Despite what she had told him about prophecies and events of the past and those that had not yet come to be, Edstan cast aside all notions of such a belief in exchange that everything was not determined by the written or spoken words of some seer. No, his life was in his hands as well as his destiny.
    »What of the man? Thee we know, Ælbdís, but no man may enter Lothlórien.«, the guardian replied.
    The priestess frowned slightly and raised her voice to give a countering answer: »I remember days when this was not the case! Wouldst thou doubt this man, thou wouldst doubt me and is such thy intent, Guardian of the Golden Woods? To insult a priestess of thy highest patron?«
    One with good ears could have heard a second voice speaking to the first. Obviously Ælbdís' words had shown effect and the guard was getting his lesson taught in politeness. The priestess smirked at Edstan knowingly.
    »I vouch for this mortal who is named Edstan. I take the full responsibility of any of his action.« Acting impatient she moved her reins.
    They waited for good a few moments in which the guards most likely held council. To reject the priestess would have been an audacity for which they would have been punished. Letting the man in, could mean a punishment too. Finally one of them spoke. »Enter ye may, priestess Ælbdís and man Edstan. Rooms will be prepared in the citadel of Caras Galadhon, but make sure the man stays with thee priestess, else he will be hung with heavy chains and brought into the dungeons.«
    Ælbdís turned to Edstan with the shrewd cute smile of hers. »It went better than expected.« She gave Sora the sign to continue the travel.
    Edstan bit down on the end of his pipe, smoke bellowing from his flared nostrils. Indeed, it had worked and they were both aimed to enter Caras Galadhon, which was not expected. He had snuck around the Golden Wood many times and even been on it's outskirts, but never had he thought to enter it's midst. For all the times Edstan had wandered, he was now truly catching sight of what most mortal men never did. His eyes glimmered with excitement, taking in the sights of such splendour and grace. His smile, broken and formed into a wide grin. Even Aisling his mare, seemed content with the ride. »Aye...« Edstan finally responded, looking to the ornate statues. »This place is magical. But what ever happened to blind folding me? And what of the witch?«
    Gaomee laughed loudly and with the sound of silver bells. »Obviously they trust me enough as priestess. Or they did not dare to offend me«, Ælbdís answered.
    »The witch is a queen. Do not forget that.« The elf's voice warning and determined as she addressed Edstan clearly. »One wrong word and thou wilst never leave the dungeons again, so think twice of what thou sayest.«
    Edstan snapped back into attention at the word of 'dungeons. »What? Oh right, words«, he said softly.
    »Right now I am not a man of words. Just let me look around.«
    That was all that mattered to him. The experience of it all. He was thankful that there would be no blind fold but he was not at all expecting any sort of warm welcome in the realm of this Queen. Many scribes had he read in her regards and not much was there to be found other than she was a powerful and wise person. As they both approached the stables, Edstan leapt from Aisling, surprised that she had not tried to toss him aside and he smiled at the mare, rewarding her with a pat to her nuzzle and few share of spiced carrots. Stepping forth but a few feet, he cast his gaze to the great city.
    There it was, immortality's achievement. He imagined what he could have shaped with his bare hands had he the time to spare on such things. Alas, his rugged state proved the futility of a man rising above that which most men could bear to attempt. »Magical indeed...«
    Ælbdís dismounted Sora as they reached the walls of the capital city. Time seemed to stop and go quicker in Lothlórien to the same time. While the ride from the gates to the city had actually taken many hours, it felt as if it was just briefly that she had spoken to the guards. Now only a bridge was between them and Caras Galadhon. Ælbdís smiled, for she heard and smelled, perceived many things. She did not need to see the city. ''Dost thou like it?'', she asked the astonished Edstan.
    He waved his hands towards Ælbdís and said softly. »May it be that I am blind, deaf and mute and I'd still feel and taste what you perceive and more.« he responded. Falling to one knee, Edstan pressed the end of his nose close to the blades of grass and the bushes scattered and adorn with flowers. The air was sweet and the breeze itself seemed to nourish his otherwise filthy self. His hands traced and felt the soil, rubbing the specks of it between his fingers before he stood. Deciding that he had explored the stables long enough, he turned to Ælbdís and said: »Will I need to discard my trappings and weapons before the gates or shall you hold onto them for me? I care not.«
    Ælbdís waved dismissively her hand and began to place the quiver into the backpack.
    »Keep them. This is not Imladris where the lord of the house demands every weapon to be placed away from one's self. No, this is the realm of the Woodlandkin.« The priestess loosened the tendon of her longbow and set everything down on the ground. »But thy packs thou may leave. They will be brought for thee into our rooms.«
    At last she put on the cloak again, clasped the edges together with the brooch and had done her transformation from battle-maiden into the cleric. Only Aldoreel the sword she kept.
    Edstan loosened the straps to his pack and let it fall to the ground beside him. Latched to his worn and weathered pack, his longbow, which Edstan found little significance of carrying but to simply intimidate the ideal that he knew how to use it. Within, various rations and a set of different clothing, which at this point, was pointless anyway. »I should have bathed in the Great River before coming here.«, he mutters. »These elves will certainly be looking sharp to my actions and I have need to taste their liquor and explore their treetops before my time here is spent and I am above that of a wanderer to become a master ascender to the land and it's barren seas.« He grinned crookedly.
    »I think they'll like my cloak!« With that, Edstan took a deep breath and announced himself to the realm of elves with a loud howl. Yes, he was finally here, and announced.
    Ælbdís turned at Edstan by the howl and was quite irritated at it. But she decided not to ask at all. May it be a queer thing of Edstan. Slowly she ascended the steps and was soon greeted by an elf, clothed in garments that appeared to be rather important. His face was masked and first he smiled.
    »Suilaid, Priestess!«
    Ælbdís smiled as well and embraced the warden. »Farodir«, she said and her eyes were gleaming. Farodir opened his mouth, but hesitated as he saw a mortal next to Ælbdís.
    »Thou hast brought a visitor?« Carefully Farodir eyed the man. Latent hostility was in the air.
    Edstan knew not to speak. His howl had been enough indication of his presence. When they had finally arrived to the gates to the city and been approached by what appeared to be one of the guards, clamped in fine leather like Edstan had never seen and a mask of such splendour, he listened to their exchange and despite the hostility in their tones, Edstan spoke: »Peditham hi sui vellyn ?«, he said.
    »Ada nîn a nana nîn pedannir edhellen, gîl síla erin lû e-govaned 'wîn.« He clasped his hands together, resting his hand on his breastplate above his heart and said: »I eneth nîn Edstan.«
    Gaomee heard the words of Edstan and had to smirk, while Farodir's face was covered with obvious surprise. For a few moments, the warden failed to speak, then he nodded simply to Edstan and addressed the priestess.
    »We will speak later, dearest Ælbdís.« He turned to Edstan and said: »Behave mortal and please do not give me reason to bring thee before a judge.«
    Edstan thought that it was well enough a welcome than any other and simply tipped his head in respect. Nudging Ælbdís, he whispered: »I don't think these elves would enjoy hearing about how I earned the largest dagger in all of Arda.«
    Ælbdís nodded friendly and walked through the gate. As she was within the city, she couldn't hold back a giggle that was so very likely to a chicken. Something had amused her. She laughed then up. »No, he at least wouldn't.« Ælbdís was hardly able to control her giggling and laughter anymore.
    Edstan couldn't place his finger on what had caused his friend to muster such laughter and he found himself laughing beside her. »Look, I know a few phrases! I'm not too elaborate on the elvish tongue! In fact, I think I might have even pronounced some things a bit wrong, but it wasn't that bad!«
    She shook her head. »No, thou hast not been bad. But Farodir was overly jealous of thee. Not of thy skills in our language however.«
    Edstan looked perplexed. »But in the company that I was in more or less aye? Or was he perhaps thinking what any other hot blooded male seems to think when they see both you and I side by side, my friend. It is not too far of a cry in terms of being a fantasy, but alas tis' but such a thing and that alone.«
    The priestess smiled at Edstan and waved her hand. »In the past me and Farodir shared adventure and romance, but I ended it after a time«, she said. Her head turned from side to side as she tried to orientate herself. »It was a long time however and I am surprised and amused that he obviously still feels like in the past. He has a set mind about things.«
    Edstan grinned. "Perhaps I can do the both of us a favour and have him be more jealous of the company that you keep. It could be called something fortuitous when in fact it would be terms of endearment in secrecy«, he teased. Looking around him yet again, he felt the nerve to run ahead and scout the entire area but resisted such a thing in fear that it would be considered a hostile action and he'd have an arrow lodged into him.
    Ælbdís smirked and raised a hand. »No, my friend. I rather do not heat on the jealousy of Farodir. He might do so himself, even.« With these words, Ælbdís began to set foot before foot, trying to find where they would live for one or two days.


    Rhovanion, Old Watch-Tower, Halls of Thranduil,
    Mid-Summer, T.A. 3018


    »The months of the inter are still the best if it is about astronomy. The nights are clearer, brighter, I think.« Farron, a young scholar with white-blond hair and silver grey eyes, gathered up the folded parchment rolls, balanced the scribbling pad with the paper, ink as well as quill on his head and went carefully for the door, behind which he would find the observation-chamber.
    Onehundredninetyeight steps he had ascend with his burden, before he would reach his destination. That he practiced this daily for already some years, it brought him seldom out of breath.
    »Mh, agreed, Farron.« At the table sat Ollkas, his elder scholar-college, who was a few ranks further in the schooling. Also he had white-blond hair, that he however now hid below a warming hat. The coif was richly embroidered, the symbols of a master in astronomy gleamed shortly up in the lights of the candles. »The reason is certainly the cold.« He browsed through the last observations, that brought however nothing new. Yet he wished to discover a new star at the sky, as did was it the wish of all astronomers.
    He stood up and went for his sparse bed. »I will rest for a while. The stars have made me tired. He threw himself unto the straw-mattress, crossed the hands behind his head and closed his eyes. »And do not forget to re-calculate the path of Betos and Ketos. We had in the last constellation a deviance of an eighth degree«, he ordered his college. »Should it have been thy mistake, be sure to correct thyself. Otherwise thou wilst never become a master of astronomy.«
    »Yes, Ollkas. I will check on it.« The young scholar turned around and began to climb up the stairs.
    Higher and higher went the circling stairs, every few steps hung an oil-lamp at the wall and illuminated the granite stairs.
    Mechanically his feet rose and descended, while in his thoughts he was within the discovery of a new star, the greatest occurrence for every observant.
    But the sky over Middle-Earth was perfectly catalogued, ordered into areas, tropics and cycles that nothing, but really nothing remained unnoticed. And that since good two millennia.
    Having reached the top, he laid down the scrolls on a large map table, placed also down the scribbling pad and other utensils and strode though the room. The stone walls were adorned by uncountable maps of the stars and their wandering in the passing of years, other decoration were sought in vein.
    Determined did Farron walk to the complicated seeming pulley, moved in a certain sequence chains, levers and winches, until the round wooden ceiling above him had opened itself and gave free the huge twelve steps long telescope, in the middle of the chamber.
    The scholar prepared paper, ink and quill, sat down on the chair before the telescope and looked through the lens. Forty-two differently shaped glasses were responsible for different views, from very close to a full size look on the sky.
    Farron looked first in the full size view for rough obtrusiveness’s, like comets or shooting stars. Then he began as ever, to search the solitary areas, checked on the position of the biggest planets and suns with the help of the maps within the room and corrected the paths if there was a mistake.
    After three hours his eyes hurt from the looking and comparing, but everything was in its order. The firmament followed its summer-cycle.
    Does not want a single new star appear for me?, he sighed in his thoughts, while he moved the telescope from one side to the other.
    He had just passed the tropic of a few planets as something caught his eye. It was more suspicion than actual knowing. He felt that something had changed upon the sky in rapid time.
    His interest awoke. Let’s have a closer look at this. Elbereth, grant me a good perception. Carefully he chose another lens-combination and began to search, although he knew not quite for what.
    Then he saw it.
    That cannot be. I am maybe too tired. Farron rubbed his eyes, splashed a bit cool water into his face and looked again through the telescope.
    But he saw the same as before.
    That must be an illusion, a wronged adjustment to the lenses. Quickly did he check on the mechanics, but could not find anything that appeared wrong to him.
    »That cannot be,« he said half whispering. »Impossible! That contradicts every rule of the Astronomy!«
    He sank unto the chair. Absent-minded he stared into the empty air, until he suddenly jumped up and ran down the tower to wake up Ollkas.
    »What?«, muttered the scholar still sleepy. »I hope it is more than important. If not thou wilt clean every lens. With thy tongue, wild friend.«
    »Come and see thyself, what I cannot and will not believe myself.« Farron dragged the master out of the bed. »It contradicts everything what I have learned.«
    Now Ollkas was worried. His young college was maybe not the best to juggle with numbers, but the rest of the knowledge about the stars he remembered without any mistake.
    Heavily breathing he hastened after Farron and sat down before the telescope.
    After the first look he drew back his head, blinked several times, rubbed unbelieving his eyes and threw the remaining water that Farron had kept in a glass into his face.
    »Dost thou see Ollkas, what I have seen?« Only with a great amount afford he could hold down the triumph in his voice. Finally he had discovered something, that no one before him had seen. »It is ... totally out of the question, is it not?«
    Without taking his eyes from the lens did Ollkas point towards the door. »Go and bring me from somewhere a book about the history of Middle-Earth. Quick!«
    »Of course«, said Farron and ran off. After half of an hour he returned, in his hand The History of Our Land. The cover showed deep prints.
    »Why did that take so long?« morosely did he look at the young scholar. »And how does this book even look like!«
    »I have used it as support for the map-cabinet«, admitted Farron without a great deal of repentance. He was too excited for that. »And? Did anything happen?«
    Without answering the question, Ollkas took the book from him and began browsed through the pages, until he seemingly had found for what he had been looking.
    »There! There it stands! O Manwë, help us that we understand.« His eye returned to the lens, while the other scholar read the passage out loud.
    »And Gil-Galad and Elendil came upon the slopes of Mount Doom, where they fought against the Lord of the Black Land. But albeit the host of men and elves was great and gleaming, it was a dark time and no stars were lit over the skies. And so they fought within void, in blackness.«
    Slowly he raised his head and looked towards the south-east, but Mordor was too far away as that he could have spotted it with the mere eye.
    » ... it was a dark time and no stars were lit over the skies«, Farron repeated the words quietly from the legend. »But there are stars now.«
    Louder he addressed to the master: »There are no stars over Mordor, Ollkas, are there? I have not been falling for an illusion.«
    The observant looked at him. »Yes. But not only that. The stars seem like they have vanished. Simply gone and leaving nothing but a black hole.«
    »O Elbereth, what could that mean?«, the young scholar asked and sat down upon the table on the maps, that he pressed and crinkled through his weight.
    »I do not know«, said Ollkas who had lost colour from his face, »I do not know. But I wager it is nothing that we should be happy about. I will inform our history-scholar immediately.«

    Lothlórien, Caras Galadhon, Fleet of Telain Galadhrim,
    Mid-Summer, T.A. 3018



    Gaomee was obviously excited. Steps carried the blind priestess from place to place, from one side of the large fleet in Caras Galadhon to the other. Her hands were crossed behind her back. She had not said a word why they would wait here. And as much as Edstan would press her, the priestess had remained silent.
    Edstan let out a sigh of contempt. While Edstan was certainly just as thrilled of being within the gates of Caras Galadhon, his limited access had been a disappointment.
    During the long hours of the night, Edstan pleaded with his friend to allow him the right to go exploring every crevice and tree top of the fabled city only to be shunned. Now they both stood here, quiet and awaiting something. There was nothing more to ask or anything to do but keep to patience, a trait which Edstan lacked. He bit his tongue for good measure, stepping around in mindless circles, his eyes falling to every twitch and movement that came to his eyes.
    Ælbdís turned her head from side to side and placed a hand on Edstan's shoulder to halt him as he passed her. »Not long anymore, I am sure« she said, though that was what she had spoken an hour ago. The priestess felt how impatient Edstan was and could not blame him for that. While an hour was nothing within her world, it could mean a small eternity in the mind of a man.
    Edstan scoffed in response. Indeed, it had been long past the hour since last she had spoken and it was only that which she had said. »Couldn't you turn to look at me? Perhaps have some words with one another? Anything but just stand around idle like some cattle on the range somewhere far off?« he said tossing his arm into the air, his wrist snapping back. »If I had known it was going to be this long, Ælbdís, I would have broke out a nice campfire and cooked us up some tomatoes, sausages and nice crispy bacon.«
    The priestess laid an arm over her chest, the other on her chin. »It is a question of etiquette«, Ælbdís answered and nodded. »And patience is still no virtue thou didst acquire. I thought thee to have earned it on thy travels, since we last met«, she rebuked him friendly and amused.
    Edstan begged to differ. »I am patient enough, but if you expect me to be like a damn ent and stand idle long enough until roots dig deep into the earth, you've yet to learn a thing about men, much less about a real man such as I!« he proclaims proudly.
    »I could have been sharpening my knives or perhaps looking to the elves here for perhaps some fine leathers! After all, while my armour is sufficient, I could be running along in elvish armour!«
    Gaomee was about to reply, her mouth already opened as the door to their opposite opened. Two very tall elves with long white-golden hair came out and walked the short distance up to them. They wore a odd looking, many jointed armour made of shimmering metal, wood and leather parts, that appeared very light and thin. On their back hung two swords for each of them. On those places where no armour covered their body, white floating and soft cloth was to be seen. Pride was set into their faces, the eyes that were of the same colour as of Ælbdís' looked down even on the other elves of Caras Galadhon with a certain arrogance. The two elves gave their greeting as they had reached Edstan and the priestess, by showing their empty hands and bowing for but a few inches. One could have interpreted that movement rather as swaying forward than a true bow.
    Edstan was no fool and despite his own selfish goals, found it quite easily within himself to bow low to these elves. He was a guest and he was only within the city because of Ælbdís' negotiating. He'd not taint her name.
    Silence on his lips, the only indication of defiance could be read from Edstan's eyes, but only discipline was the foremost thought on Edstan's mind as he awaited to hear this conversation of great importance.
    The priestess greeted the two armoured elves, that were good a head taller than her in the same manner. She showed her open and empty palms to them. »I greet ye both, Tobaar the Elder and Símar, the Younger.« Surprise made its way on Tobaar's and Simar's face and the Younger gave Edstan a long look. Now that they were close, their armor could be better expected and it was quite similar to what Ælbdís wore. Hair, eyes and even the colour of their skin seemed only to differ to the slightest by these three elves. And Tobaar and Simar were not either fitting into the setting of Caras Galadhon.
    Edstan clasped his rough hands behind his back and looked at the exchange between these elves and Ælbdís. He even gave a bold look to Simar when the long look was pressed onto him. A mere mortal man would have shrinked away in fear but Edstan feared not these elves and his belief was by returning that which was being given to him, they too would know that he was friend and not foe to an estranged Ælbdís.
    The look was noticed between Simar and Edstan and Ælbdís decided to quickly interfere. »This is Edstan, one of the greatest warriors of his kin and saviour of my life«, she said quickly what caused also Tobaar to look at Edstan. The Elder turned then to Simar. »I believe thou owest this man an apology. Thy starring had been most impolite.« Tobaar's voice was deep, imperious and there was now no doubt left about his authority over Simar.
    »Forgive him, it is usually not our manner to do such things. A friend of Ælbdís is a friend to our clan«, he said and displayed his teeth that appeared spookingly sharper than by other elves. Infact also Simar's and Ælbdís' teeth seemed to be sharper than those of her brethren.
    Edstan shifted his gaze between Ælbdís and the two other elves and replied in his best elvish response: »Gîl síla erin lû e-govaned 'wîn.« It was all he would allow himself to say and if ever Ælbdís cared to wager whether Edstan was not a precise man with rational thinking, this display of patience and nobility would cast away any doubts that ever plagued her mind.
    Tobaar's eyebrows went up. »That may be not our tongue but it also well to meet thee,« he replied to Edstan before looking at Ælbdís. »Then this is thy companion?« The priestess nodded slowly to the question. Innerly she was relieved that Tobaar and Simar had taken Edstan's presence as something that did not disturb them. The time in which their kin and men had been bound in friendship were over since many millennia. All too often it were now men they had to fight against.
    »Yes, that is him.« A short break followed until Tobaar's took up the word again. »I take it that ye both know that the way to the Withered Heath is as perilous as never before? The Kingdom of Dale is at war with the men of the east after a wrong reaction upon an all too obvious provocation from the side of the Easterlings.« Tobaar's teeth shimmered up again. »After the ultimatum had been reached, troups were send. We have our misgiving that they will surround the Erebor to the North. That we cannot abide. We must intercept the warriors before our old borders which would mean battles on dalish ground.« He threw a look at Edstan.
    Edstan grit his teeth behind sealed lips. It was not the talk of war that bothered him, no. There was little to come from battle in Edstan's experienced eyes, especially fear. But the idea of having to return to Esgaroth and it's surrounding regions brought a wave of memories back into his mind. There was freedom that Edstan longed for his whole life in his hands, now his, but the responsibility of his original point in life still rang true. Protect your people, son, Edstan remembered the words of his father. Give onto them the courage which only a noble like you could offer. Make them believe. Shaking his head, Edstan rested his troubled brow into his palm, his eyes lowered and his mind pulsating with intentions, promises and his own stance in this revelation. What could he say that couldn't be said better by Ælbdís?
    She turned her head at Edstan, tilting her face to the side and placing a hand on his shoulder. »Is everything well?«, she asked, despite this would interrupt her talk with Tobaar for a moment. The tall warrior would understand. Indeed, Tobaar and Simar just followed the scene quietly, waiting patiently for Ælbdís to return her attention to her brethren.
    Edstan shook his head. »It matters little Ælbdís. There is duty and there is opinion. Speak now with your kin. Leave my worries on my heart.« he says softly. He would reach his hand out to pat at Ælbdís hand. A sign of reassurance that he would overcome what troubles plagued him.
    Gaomee smiled faintly at her friend and was only interrupted by the friendly coughing of Tobaar who tried to get her mind back to what lay before them. Ælbdís rose her head. »Forgive me, friend Tobaar. Please do continue.« The tall elf bowed as thanks and continued: »Thy task is it Ælbdís, so it was decided, that thou and thy companion speak before the king of Dale. Inform him of our coming and that of our swords, should the Easterlings come too close to our borders.« Ælbdís understood.
    »That will prevent any fear of the king that unknown warrior might join the ranks of the men of the East.«
    »Exactly«, answered Tobaar. »I am certain thou wilt accomplish this task with ease, Ælbdís since thou hast a mortal with thee who might verify thy story.«
    Again Tobaar's look rested on Edstan as if he was looking for a reassurance of the man.
    Edstan shook his head and finally spoke up. »I am a deserter of my post.« he said. »The King of Dale will be no more thrilled to learn my name some years later as my peers will be to finally lay out punishment for my actions.«
    »If I were to come hand in hand with Ælbdís, the bearings of you and your kin would be frowned upon but taken all the same if the situation is indeed as troubling as I have come have word of.«
    Ælbdís tilted her head at the words. Tobaar and Simar looked at each other and the Younger spoke finally to the first time. »Then take up a new name for this matter?«, he suggested friendly. »Men do not look the same through years and their eyes go not as far as ours. They are easy to be deceived.«
    Ælbdís smiled encouraging to Edstan. »This we can try, can we not? To claim thee to be a wanderer, a farmer's son, from the outer villages?« she asked.
    Edstan shook his head. »I can attempt it but there are too many distinguishing things about me«, he said softly. »I'd have to abandon more than my name. It would need to be my blades, my beard...« Cutting himself off, he smirked.
    »If anyone can do it, I can do it. But I don't like the idea of it.«
    Tobaar spoke before she could reply. »The Cloud-Children would be grateful for thy sacrifices«, he said, oddly understanding.
    Especially Tobaar as warrior understood the importance of carrying a weapon as a symbol of strength and honour. Someone who would tell him to lay them down spoke blasphemy, insulted the warrior's honour, had to count with an act of gratification.
    »As compensation thou mayest utter what thou needst for the journey. Caras Galadhon is rich and despite that we are only guests as well, our word has much weight in these parts.« Tobaar said and Ælbdís was thoroughly surprised by the generosity of the tall warrior. »Take from the goods that we can offer freely.«
    The man rubbed his chin in thought. It was an offer, yes. But spoken in haste would prove to be ill for them both.
    Instead, Edstan replied: »I need time to think. For I already have what I believe is essential, and I am a man who is content with what he already owns.« Bowing politely, he stepped back and gave Ælbdís a polite nod.
    Ælbdís Gaomee bit her underlip. It was no rejection from Edstan's side, but with his words he had made clear that he might be declining the service and offer after all.
    Tobaar and Simar exchanged looks, recommended themselves and left Ælbdís and Edstan. Through the door they had come, the two warriors left again. Ælbdís sighed up.
    Edstan rolled his eyes. »What are you sighing about?«, he asked Ælbdís. »You spoke to your kin and now I know that we are headed into Dale sooner than later. What would you have me ask of them that I do not already own? A set of shining mithril daggers from the Noldor elves of the first age? Or perhaps a cloak from these very woods?« he asked.
    »Any answer would be selfish and I will not be made to play the part of what is already spoken of when it comes to men. I am my own being and I cannot attest to the whole race!«
    The white-blond haired priestess turned her head in surprise at Edstan, raising her hands in defence to his hard words. »I was not implying any of that!«, she said and her eyebrows raised up. The priestess took even a step back. »I was merely sighing for what all had happened upon the world and how my kin's relation with the men of Dale have broken.«
    Edstan shrugged. »That is not my dispute. The forefathers of my people are to blame for their dalliance and ill tempers, not I.«, he says. »And as far as I am concerned, I am one of very few that took the time to deal and trade with the wood elves neighbouring my home. Now I have word of war, strife and my return? It shall not be met with any cheers of admiration or words having been wished to be spoken for years! It shall be met with a tongue, sharp on both ends, ready to place judgement on me.«
    Ælbdís waved her hand. »Not if they do not recognize thee«, she said. »I do need thy help on this.«
    Ælbdís stepped closer to Edstan and smiled faintly at him. »And it is also thy birth-land that needs thee. A warrior of thy skill is more worth than a hundred soldiers on the field.«
    But Edstan only scoffed. »And do you not think that I have not already made it so that I have never once hidden my face in a manner that does not involve a hood or cloak? I have many faces, many alias«, he answered.
    »But in that land, it is Tempest which will reveal me for who I am and I care not for my identity, I will not forego without her at my side or hand in both combat or exploration. It is selfish but it shall be as such. If you feel there is something you could acquire from your kin, then speak and take it, but I do not see what I could profit from them that some greedy man would not ask themselves.«
    Gaomee frowned now. Despite Tobaar's rational thinking she knew the offer had been made of friendliness and understanding. »It was a compensation!«, she said quite indignant. »The warriors of my kin know how much a weapon means to its master. Tobaar wanted to show his concession to thee and thou namest it in the same breath with greed?« The friendliness of the priestess was as if blown away. Anger marked the beautiful and freckled face, the silver eyes glowed up.
    »I do not force thee to do anything of what was just spoken and neither do Tobaar and Simar«, she said after calming down a bit. »It was a symbol of thanks, wouldst thou decide to take up the burden on thyself.«
    Edstan snorted at her words. »I don't wander these lands and happen upon such lavishing gifts, Ælbdís. Should you find something you think I require other than manners, then by all means speak it now so that I may bargain and then peddle my goods to someone.»
    There was a flare of anger on Edstan's face, not because it was something offered in kindness, but because he felt he had to earn everything. A sacrifice of which he was to return home after deserting should not have been met with pity and a reward, but with harsh words. Instead, he was offered something entirely from his thinking. He had no idea what he could ask of these elves and he'd rather not begin to give off sporadic lusts.
    Ælbdís' lips formed a thin line. She had expected the presence of her kin entirely different. »I will go before the king of Dale and then continue my way to the Withered Heath. Wilt thou come with me?«, she asked Edstan, all anger seemed to have gone.
    Edstan groaned. The moment of truth had surfaced and he knew that there was no backing out. Certainly, he had a choice but to give into his instincts on straying far from the path, he'd live the rest of his days in his own self perpetuated cowardice and all joy would be soaked from his feats. Indeed, he had no choice but to follow through.
    »It's my destiny, I'll follow it«, he snapped in response. He felt the urge to leave Ælbdís there alone to converse whatever else needed to be said to her brethren, and he being free to wander the rest of the fabled city. But he knew the law and instead, he turned away from her, arms crossed over his broad chest, disgust written over his rugged face.
    Gaomee came up to him. Her feet made no sound as she stepped behind Edstan, placed a hand on his shoulder and bend forward to give him a slight kiss on the side of head.
    »I thank thee,« she said and was about to turn and to walk after her brethren. Through the same through which they had left.
    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

 

 

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