Evening of September 22, 3019

Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Lilandra portrayed by FreeFall
Frodo's Servants, Elfhild, Elffled and Rian, Arnasa and Finduilas portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator, Ceolwulf, Vartang, Sador, Frodo's Ring, Aldir and Sauron the Great portrayed by Wraith

Narrator: *The late September sun has passed the high point of its arc and is now beginning its descent into the West this day of September 22, Frodo's birthday.*
Narrator: *Shakh Vartang has just left a bewildered Frodo in his old room with Ceolwulf. Vartang has set the time of their departure for dusk.*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf had just been given a draught for his pain and now lies sleeping on his stomach. Frodo is now alone with his thoughts.*
Frodo: *Though he cannot remember it, his mind has just been assaulted by the Lidless Eye this morning, and now he has been greeted with shock after shock upon returning home.*
Frodo: *The potion Sauron gave him has further dulled his senses and powers of reasoning. Now Frodo can hardly think straight, so he curls up on the bed next to Ceolwulf, happy that he is finally back with his friends and tries to rest*
Narrator: *The door opens and Finduilas comes in, bearing a large tray with a birthday cake. The other servants come behind her, bearing plates, eating utensils and wine*
Frodo's Servants: *there is a large table in frodo's room that can seat six, as well as benches along the wall. finduilas sets the cake upon the table*
Frodo's Servants: *the other servants set their trays upon the table as well, then stand behind it, bow and look to frodo expectantly*
Frodo: *Frodo sits up and grins at Finduilas as she brings the cake in*
Frodo: Hello! Is that a birthday cake? Thank you! *he greets them*
Frodo's Servants: *finduilas looks to frodo and beams* aye, my lord, tis a birthday cake in honor of your special day!
Frodo: *Frodo returns her smile and slides off the bed*
Frodo: *He casts a quick glance at Ceolwulf, who is still sleeping, then walks unsteadily over to join them at the table*
Frodo's Servants: *elfhild and elffled hold a large tapestry, but it has a covering and frodo cannot see the subject of the work*
Frodo: Oh my! What is that?
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild says* a tapestry for you, my lord. all of us worked on it - elffled, rian, finduilas, haleth and arnasa....and myself *she smiles*
Frodo: *Frodo's jaw drops. He is delighted and touched* I...I don't know what to say!
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild says* we have worked on it for the past month and just got it finished a few days ago.
Frodo: Thank you!
Rian: *rian approaches elfhild and elffled, who hold the tapestry. she removes the covering and steps back so frodo can see the subject matter of the heavy embrodried cloth*
Rian: *the tapestry shows a collage of scenes, representing what the ladies felt a hobbit birthday party would look like, based upon the stories of the shire which frodo had told them.*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes widen. He takes a few steps closer to the tapestry and contemplates it, his grin growing ever wider*
Rian: *at the center of the tapestry is a large tree, resembling a beech and looking very elvish, which represents the party tree. around it are scenes of a hobbit party*
Frodo: *He laughs and clasps his hands together in joy* Oh, it's wonderful!
Frodo: It's beautiful! I didn't know you were so skilled
Rian: *there is a green circle embroderied in a design of a large hill - bag end, though the ladies had never seen a hobbit hole before. on the top left corner are brightly colored designs, fireworks*
Rian: *written around the left and bottom borders is this message: "to our beloved lord frodo baggins, on his 51st birthday"*
Rian: *rian blushes and says* we did not know exactly what your land looked like, so we had to guess.
Frodo: *Frodo runs a hand along the message, then turns to the girls with shining eyes. He embraces them one by one*
Frodo: It's perfect. I shall treasure it always.
Frodo's Servants: *each of the ladies, even arnasa, beams with happiness*
Narrator: *At the sound of the voices, Ceolwulf begins to stir in his sleep*
Frodo: *He smiles even more, if that is possible, when he sees that Arnasa is happy. He bows to her, grinning, and thanks her*
Frodo: *He hears Ceolwulf stirring and turns toward him*
Arnasa: *arnasa, sensing that her master looks upon her with favor, bows low and respectfully to him*
Ceolwulf: *He awakens and rolls over on his back, but then, feeling the pain from the lash marks, attempts to sit on the edge of the bed*
Frodo: *Frodo stumbles over to him. His dizziness feels like giddiness from joy now*
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild and elffled put the tapestry gently upon one of the will be placed in one of the wains when all are ready to depart*
Ceolwulf: Happy birthday, Frodo *Ceolwulf says* and may it be a better day than many you have seen in a while!
Frodo: *smiles* Thank you! And I wish the same for you all
Frodo: Did you see what they made for me?
Ceolwulf: I had a glance of it before they put it away
Ceolwulf: It was quite beautiful. They are accomplished
Frodo: It is a tapestry of the birthday parties I used to have back home! It is amazing
Ceolwulf: I have a gift. It was in my trunk.... *he looks around* but I see that is gone
Frodo: It is all right, Ceolwulf
Ceolwulf: It was a worthy gift for you, Frodo, what I saw of it, and I am sure that what I did not see equalled what I did
Frodo: *smiles and looks down a little remembering the failed quest...but even that cannot lessen his joy much at being back home to such a lovely welcome*
Ceolwulf: But I wish that my trunk had not been removed before I had the chance to show you what I had made
Frodo: What was it?
Ceolwulf: A carving
Frodo: Ah, yes, you are a woodcarver. I remember the swords you made for the boys
Ceolwulf: Yes, a carving of a horse
Frodo: *excited* A horse of Rohan!
Frodo: Thank you! I hope they let me see it
Frodo: I was planning to make gifts for you all as well. Hopefully, I will have time during our journey when we stop to rest
Ceolwulf: It is of Brihtmanu, my horse
Ceolwulf: I do not know what became of him. I rode him into Pelennor
Frodo: Your horse! A precious gift it is then!
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild says* ah, brihtmanu, a good name...meaning "bright mane" in the common tongue.
Ceolwulf: Aye, Elfhild! That is his name in Common
Frodo: He must have been a beautiful horse.
Ceolwulf: Aye, that he was, a descendant of the Mearas line. He carried me long and faithfully, but I fear he might have perished in the dread battle
Frodo: I am sorry
Ceolwulf: He was as golden as the sun and his mane was the color of straw
Frodo: *smiles, picturing the horse in his mind*
Ceolwulf: I have tried to depict him with his head turned and a proud look in his eye, standing proudly upon a small knoll, his nostrils flared, smelling the wind
Frodo: Oh! I cannot wait to see it.
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild and elffled sigh peacefully, lost in memories of their old land*
Ceolwulf: But when my trunk is returned to me, you will see it and you will have it
Frodo: I thank you in advance for this gift you have made for me
Frodo: It must have taken a great deal of time and effort
Frodo: Yours, too *he smiles to the girls*
Ceolwulf: It is but the work of a simple woodcarver, but it will be presented to you with all the affection of an elder brother
Elfhild and Elffled: *all of the ladies look to frodo and beam at his smile*
Frodo: *Frodo stifles the impulse to embrace is possibly too familiar, and anyway it would hurt him*
Frodo: Though I am older than you, you are as an older brother to me in some ways. It will be received with the affection I would have given to my brother, had I had one. *he smiles at Ceolwulf*
Finduilas: *finduilas says* my lord, do wish to eat the cake now?
Finduilas: *the large cake sits waiting for all upon the table*
Frodo: Very well! *he replies to Finduilas*
Finduilas: *all of frodo's servants wait for him to walk to the table and take a seat at the end*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf smiles back to Frodo*
Frodo: *He sees they are waiting...with some embarassment he totters over to the table and sits at the head*
Finduilas: *finduilas begins cutting pieces of cake and placing them upon small frodo the first piece.*
Frodo: *looks awkwardly to Ceolwulf, wondering if he wants to stay resting on the bed or join them at the table, and if he needs help walking*
Elfhild: *elfhild takes a saucer with a piece of cake upon it and walks over to ceolwulf. she asks him* does your back hurt you greatly, sir?
Ceolwulf: It pains me some, Elfhild
Ceolwulf: I will go to the table to eat *he rises from the bed and begins to walk unsteadily over to the table*
Frodo: Be careful
Elfhild: *she studies all the places where ceolwulf had been wounded, whether by whip or by knife, and notices that the bandages are oozing a bit through his tunic*
Elfhild: *she walks with him over to the table* ceolwulf...your wounds...they should be redressed.
Ceolwulf: *He walks over to the edge of the table and pulls out a chair, then sits down on it with a few inches to spare from the back*
Frodo: *watches him with some concern*
Ceolwulf: The condition of my wounds was the least of the talk of the guards, Elfhild
Elfhild: *she puts the saucer down in front of ceolwulf, and looks to him with concern* perhaps sador could redress them, ere we leave?
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, this is neither the time nor the place to attend to them, but I do realize that I must look very forelorn
Frodo: She is right, Ceolwulf. Maybe I will refuse to budge until they redress them *smiles thinking how much stronger he is now, and able to struggle more*
Elfhild: *she takes a seat beside them* really, sir, you should get them redressed ere we leave.
Ceolwulf: *He looks around to them* It would not be a pleasant sight to see. Perhaps I should leave
Elfhild: no, no! let me get sador.
Frodo: Well...join us for some cake at least, quickly, then we will fetch Sador. You can eat while he is coming
Frodo: Go ahead, Elfhild
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo, dreading the thought of their seeing what his back must look like*
Elfhild: yes, ceolwulf, eat while i go and fetch sador.
Frodo: *Frodo sees his anxiety* Don't worry, Ceolwulf. I am quite used to it....remember?
Frodo: And we can spare the girls by sending them to pack.
Frodo: Or, we can all leave if that is what you prefer
Ceolwulf: *he breaks off a piece of the cake, puts it in his mouth and eats it*
Elfhild: *elfhild scoots out her chair, gets up, bows and goes to fetch sador*
Frodo: *Frodo eats the piece of cake Elfhild cut for him*
Frodo: The cake is delicious *he says to Finduilas*
Finduilas: my lord, all has been packed and in readiness, save for a few things.
Ceolwulf: Very good cake. I am grateful for it!
Frodo: My you are all fast....but then I hardly remember what time of day it is
Finduilas: *she beams* thank you, lord frodo and ceolwulf!
Frodo: I cannot remember this morning. Is it afternoon?
Frodo: *He rubs a hand over his eyes*
Finduilas: it is going on to three o'clock in the afternoon now, my lord.
Ceolwulf: *He picks up a knife and slices off pieces of cake. Then he eats one piece at a time*
Frodo: *watches in amusement as Ceolwulf wolfs down the cake* Didn't they feed you down there?
Ceolwulf: Bread and water is the fare of the dungeon. The bread was moldly, the water stale
Frodo: Oh. I am sorry. Well, I am glad you are out then
Frodo: *finishes his piece of cake*
Ceolwulf: I was not able to catch rats or mice but if I had been able and had stayed much longer, I should have been reduced to that!
Frodo: *His smile fades, replaced by surpressed anger...he shakes his head and sighs*
Ceolwulf: And they were in abudnance and scurried about my cell
Frodo: If only I could take you all far away from here, away from Mordor and out of its reach
Ceolwulf: Their skitterings and munching on stray crumbs that had fallen was a minor thing. The thing that was most disturbing were the noises and the sights... *he looks down*
Elffled: *elffled's eyes widen* dwimmergasts.....? *she says in a whisper*
Ceolwulf: Aye, I saw them!
Frodo: *frowns confusedly* What do you mean? What did you see?
Ceolwulf: Shapes, Frodo.... that came upon me during the night. They rose like mists from the floor
Elffled: *elffled leans forward slightly, gripping the table. she wishes her sister were here to hear this!*
Ceolwulf: Then rising from the floor, they grew to monsterous shapes, greenish glowing phantasmagorias
Frodo: *even more confused, widens his eyes*
Elffled: *elffled gasps auidibly...rian stares with wide eyes and looks pale*
Frodo: What were they?
Ceolwulf: And even when I closed my eyelids as tightly as I could, I could still see them and hear their low moanings
Ceolwulf: Dwimmergasts *he says in a low voice*
Frodo: I am not sure what to think. I have never heard the like
Elffled: *elffled whispers* fell shades.
Ceolwulf: Frodo, there are more than the living that occupy the dungeons here
Elfhild: *elfhild returns with sador...they bow upon entry and enter frodos room*
Frodo: *He listens, fear growing in him. The room seems a blur of color to his spinning head. He can almost see the dwimmergasts himself*
Sador: *Sador comes into the room, his head bobbing up and down as he bows*
Frodo: Ah, Sador, can you tend to Ceolwulf here?
Sador: Shakh, so good to see you again and looking so well!
Frodo: *smiles uncomfortably* Thank you
Sador: Sad Sador could not heal you. So sad *his fat oily face gleams with perspiration and his gold tooth flashes*
Sador: How Little Master were you healed?
Frodo: *At the mention of his healing he sways and hangs onto the table...his eyes glaze over as the potion takes hold of his mind*
Frodo: I was healed by the hand of Sauron *he replies in a low monotone*
Sador: *As though a ray of sun had pierced the darkened sky, so does a look of rapture spread over Sador's face. He bows, then raises his hands high in the air above him*
Sador: The Great One! The Great One! Ever is He merciful!
Frodo: *watches him in utter bewilderment and sudden turmoil*
Arnasa: *arnasa, who had been sitting at the table, looking listlessly at an uneaten piece of cake, raises her head, then stands up and bows reverently*
Sador: *Sador begins to chant in a loud voice* Hail Sauron, Ruler of the World!
Arnasa: *arnasa too begins to chant, her voice, higher in pitch, rising above sador's, then falling, and rising once more*
Frodo: *impulsively his fist hits the table* Be silent!
Arnasa: *arnasa slows her chanting slightly, not wishing to obey the command, but feeling she must, for frodo is her master, and for another reason, of which she does not comprehend*
Sador: *Sador continues to chant and then looks to Arnasa, who has slowed hers*
Frodo: *apologetic for his outburst* Sador, Arnasa...please
Sador: Little Master, do you not like to hear praises to the Great One, you who are called the Friend of Sauron?
Frodo: is....I am weary from the journey.
Arnasa: *arnasa falls silent, biting her lip... she looks to frodo with confusion*
Frodo: *He knows it would do no good to argue about Sauron with Sador and Arnasa*
Sador: But Little Master, if not to praise Great Lord, why you call me here?
Sador: *He looks around at the table, his glutionous appetite aroused* Ah to eat cake! Thank you Little Master!
Frodo: Because Ceolwulf's wounds need to be redressed before we leave
Frodo: Yes, you can have some cake too *smiles*
Sador: *He sits down at the table and looks to Arnasa's uneaten piece of cake hopefully*
Arnasa: *arnasa passes sador the piece of cake, not wishing to eat anyway*
Frodo: So you will tend to Ceolwulf then?
Sador: *He takes the plate and puts it on the table, takes the piece of cake with both hands and crams it into his mouth, chewing and spilling crumbs as he does*
Frodo: Perhaps you can give him a pain reliever beforehand. I am sure it will not be pleasant
Sador: Yes, yes Little Master *he says with his mouth full* will tend Ceolwulf soon as finish cake
Frodo: *smiles wryly to Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: Sador, this is not the place to dress these!
Ceolwulf: Let us go to the antechamber to the side and tend them there
Sador: As you wish *he wipes his mouth off with the back of his hand, gets up from the table, rubs his stomach and then looks back at the remaining cake*
Sador: *he bends down, picks up the chest that carries his medical supplies*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf rises from the table, goes to the door leading to the anteroom and Sador follows*
Frodo: Wait, the draught. Has the first draught you had worn off yet, Ceolwulf?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf pauses and turns back to Frodo* I will be all right *he goes with Sador into the anteroom*
Frodo: *Frodo shudders a little as he turns back to the table, memories of savage beatings awakened in him*
Frodo: *It takes him a little while to work up the appetite for another piece of cake, but being a hobbit he succeeds and eats another slice*
Elfhild: *all of frodo's servants who are present - elfhild, elffled, rian, finduilas, arnasa and haleth - continue eating, with the exception of arnasa.*
Frodo: *He remembers the scars that used to adorn his wrists, indeed his whole strange that they are gone now, and he cannot remember how*
Elfhild: *they keep looking out the window, to see the course of the sun as it moves ever towards the western horizon*
Narrator: *From the anteroom, they can hear Sador saying* Very bad, very bad. Maybe now you learn respect for masters, fellow slave
Frodo: *Frodo grits his teeth and fidgets, twisting his napkin*
Narrator: *After about a half an hour, they come out of the anteroom*
Narrator: *Sador has a sour expression on his face. Ceolwulf's wounded left arm has been dressed and now rests in a sling. He wears the same tunic he had before*
Sador: Now we leave soon *Sador says* and Sador go see great city! Bigger than any in Harad!
Frodo: What city? Where are we going
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes his place back at the table, but looks out the window at the sun, now making its slow descent into the west*
Sador: Why, you not know?
Sador: Master Vartang, very good master, he tell Sador that he go across the river
Frodo: The Anduin?
Sador: You will like it there, Little Master. Big place! Many things to do *he thinks to himself...many things to eat which Sador has not tried*
Sador: Yes, the Anduin. Big River
Frodo: What is the city called?
Sador: *he looks at Frodo with a puzzled expression* They did not tell you?
Frodo: *shakes his head*
Sador: *he looks around at all of them, wondering if he said too much*
Elfhild: *the assembled ladies look to each other, the knowledge of their destination finally made known*
Sador: Sador must go now. Many things to do
Frodo: Sador, what is the name of the city?
Sador: *He grins widely at Frodo, flashing his golden front tooth* Little Master see soon enough. Sador be your doctor there
Sador: Sador must go, must go *he says and begins to back out of the room, bowing repeatedly*
Frodo: I am not finished talking with you yet
Sador: *Sador turns and almost runs out of the room, his fat stomach jiggling as he goes*
Frodo: *sighs*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gets out of his chair and goes over and looks out the window* Frodo, the day hastens to its close
Frodo: *looks out at the setting sun...shimmering colors that bleed into each other, mix and change before his eyes*
Frodo: *turns back to Ceolwulf and blinks* I suppose we must go soon
Frodo: Thank you all for this birthday party *smiles and for the tapestry and the cake and your horse, Ceolwulf
Frodo's Servants: *when everyone has finished their food, the ladies begin to clear the table*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, would that we only had a horse as good as Brihtmanu and we would soon be over the mountains... *his voice tapers off*
Frodo: *Frodo closes his eyes. All the movement of the women scurrying about makes his head spin until he thinks it will fall off*
Frodo: *opens his eyes and smiles wistfully at Ceolwulf*
Frodo's Servants: *soon, the table is completely cleared, and the ladies return to their seats*
Narrator: *Peace falls upon the room as each thinks his or her own thoughts.*
Frodo: *Frodo is loath to leave this homelike room until they absolutely must*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf turns away from the window and looks back at Frodo*
Frodo: *Who knows when they will have this again?*
Ceolwulf: I will be glad to leave this place
Ceolwulf: *He thinks to himself... somewhere near the Anduin. That could be many places, but only one city*
Frodo: *Frodo thinks of where they are going...across the river...Gondor was across the river. It will be awful to go there, knowing he caused the city's destruction*
Ceolwulf: *He thinks... do I now go back to the place of my humiliation? The place of my cowardly retreat*
Narrator: *The door opens and into the peaceful scene nonchalantly walks Vartang*
Frodo: *his eyes close tightly, then open to narrow slits as he looks to Vartang*
Frodo's Servants: *the asembled servants rise when vartang enters*
Vartang: Shakh! *he exhales robustly* I see that there has been a celebration
Frodo: Aye, there has.
Frodo's Servants: *frodos servants look to him...for he has forgotten to give them leave to sit once again...*
Frodo: Oh! *remembers at their looks and gestures hurriedly for them to sit*
Frodo: *his face flushing*
Vartang: And I also see that the wine upon the table has been scarcely touched. How fortuitous!
Frodo's Servants: *all of the ladies sit once more, wondering what ill event vartang brings this hour*
Frodo: *Frodo watches Vartang...the bottom of his beard ripples as the blurry room swims*
Vartang: Wine! *he commands*
Elffled: *she takes an extra empty goblet on the table and fills it with wine... then walks over to vartang and hands it to him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceowulf, who was standing at the window, turns and bows to Vartang and then turns his back to him*
Frodo: *Frodo feels the tension in the room heighten*
Vartang: *He takes the wine goblet and winks at Elffled as he does*
Frodo: *The last time he saw Ceolwulf and Vartang in a room together was when Ceolwulf tried to kill Vartang*
Elffled: *she walks back to her seat, hiding her disgust*
Vartang: Shakh, this is indeed a great day for you! Laden with many honors and acclaimed by all. You will soon be across the river
Frodo: *does not meet Vartang's eyes*
Vartang: *he turns and goes up to the wall, and leans up against it, one leg propped back against the wall, looking very satisfied with himself*
Vartang: *He smiles broadly towards Frodo*
Vartang: Shakh, there is one small matter
Frodo: *raises his eyebrows and looks to Vartang*
Vartang: We must make haste and the wains encumber us
Vartang: They must travel the slow plodding pace and cannot keep up with our horses
Frodo: *glances at Ceolwulf, who must travel in a wain...*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf turns back at those words from Vartang* I do not need to ride in the wains *he says*
Ceolwulf: I am fit to ride *he says, looking at Vartang*
Vartang: Then, Shakh, the slave man will ride with us *he looks around at the servants* They must travel by wain
Frodo: *looks skeptically at Ceolwulf...just the type to make himself sick by pushing himself to far, he is*
Frodo: I am not sure that is a good idea, Ceolwulf.
Elfhild: *elfhild looks to vartang, then to frodo, and back* but who shall be with us, leading our procession?
Ceolwulf: I have ridden upon a horse in worse condition than I am now and I can do it agian, and since the Great One *looks at Vartang* is willing...
Vartang: My good friends, Androg and Ulfast, will lead the procession of wains
Elfhild: *she looks to frodo* but could we not ride with lord frodo...?
Vartang: Maidens so fair and tender as you should ride in the wains
Frodo: I shall travel with the women, whether on horses or in the wains *he says, protective anger rising in him*
Elfhild: i am from the riddermark! i have known how to ride a horse almost since i was born!
Vartang: Shakh... *he says in a low, amused voice* I thought you were afraid to have them in my company *he looks directly at Frodo*
Frodo: I am. *he says bitterly*
Vartang: The journey by horseback will take seven days. Those with the wains will be 17 days upon the journey
Frodo: That is why I want to be need not be with me.
Frodo: *lowers his head to his hand, elbow resting on the table, and groans*
Vartang: Shakh... *he says with mock sadness* that is not possible, sadly to say
Vartang: We must make haste. The horses are saddled and ready
Frodo: *His eyes widen and his heart races...he looks back and forth between the women and Vartang with nervousness and anger*
Elfhild: *she continues to look at frodo desperately* please, my lord, please! we can ride with you.
Frodo: *remembering what Finduilas said happened only last night*
Frodo: Yes, yes! They will ride with me!
Frodo: Come....Elfhild, give me your hand *he reaches for her hand as he makes his unsteady way out of the room*
Vartang: Let me explain to you *he says to Frodo, as though he were talking to a slow lad in school* your presence, Shakh, is required, but theirs is not
Elfhild: *elfhild follows frodo, uncertain what is going on now*
Frodo: *whirls around, then almost falls* My presence is required WHERE?
Vartang: *Vartang laughs at the confusion of the halfling*
Elfhild: *she stands beside the hobbit near the doorway, bracing him so he will not fall*
Vartang: So eager, Shakh.... I had not realized your zeal to leave *Vartang says sarcastically*
Frodo: *He leans against Elfhild and glares up at Vartang, waiting for an explanation*
Vartang: Shakh, why, at several places is your presence required, but the time to leave is now, Shakh. You will ride your pony, your gift from the men at the fortress of Durburzkala
Vartang: You will ride in the company of me and an armed escort
Frodo: *looks to Ceolwulf, glad that he is riding now, and hoping he will ride with them*
Vartang: Your slaves and your posessions will catch up with you
Frodo: Except Ceolwulf...he is riding too.
Vartang: There will be other servants waiting for you, where you are going
Frodo: *I do not want other servants! Frodo thinks*
Vartang: The women, your other two manslaves, such slaves of your household as I chose, and all your goods and posessions will go by wain
Elfhild: i wish to ride with frodo! and so does my sister and rian... *she looks to them and they nod, still sitting at the table*
Frodo: *Frodo is having trouble playing this intricate game of manipulation...he can hardly follow Vartang's moves and their implications*
Vartang: But eight more horses *he says with a grin* would be needed
Elfhild: lord vartang *she says determinedly* there are plenty of horses in the stables here.
Vartang: Aye, indeed there are, Elfhild... But the women with the children... surely they would wish to ride in the wains?
Frodo: I have not even seen the children yet!!
Frodo: *He suddenly wonders why they were not at the party*
Finduilas: my children can ride with me upon the horse
Frodo: *nods vigorously*
Vartang: Shakh, do you want this? *he says*
Elfhild: *elfhild continues to stand behind frodo, a determined look upon her face*
Frodo: Yes, Vartang! Yes, I want them with me
Vartang: But what about the prisoners, Shakh? The two men are dangerous. They should walk with guards
Frodo: They should ride as well. They are noblemen of Gondor!
Vartang: Come, Shakh, with me. See them for yourselves
Frodo: *Frodo lets go of Elfhild and follows Vartang, sliding along the wall*
Narrator: *The Ring on Frodo's finger seems to spring to life at Vartang's words. Yet it causes Frodo no pain nor discomfort*
Vartang: *Vartang walks out of Frodo's room, tossing his empty wine glass in the air behind him for good luck. He walks down the corridor and to the front doors of Frodo's hall*
Frodo: *Frodo follows him, dodging the tossed wine glass*
Narrator: *Before him, Frodo can see waiting horses in the courtyard, many wains assembled, guards of men and orc. Servants still go to and fro through the doors, carrying things they have forgotten to pack*
Narrator: *Chained with their hands behind their backs and guarded by orcs, Aldir and Vardamir see Frodo and look at him. Lilandra too is chained and guarded*
Frodo: *Frodo's heart lurches at the sight...he thinks of Faramir*
Frodo: *Faramir...and poor Boromir...he looks to Lilandra with pity*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf slowly walks behind Frodo now*
Frodo: Vartang, they must be unchained! This is intolerable
Narrator: *Hatred is in the eyes of Vardamir*
Lilandra: *She was skeptical of all things and the behavior displayed by most and the recent events, but she was a little embarrased as she looks to the others and Frodo. her eyes still sad but appologetic for the eruption earlier and she smiles lightly*
Vardamir: Now I see the two mad lords of Mordor!
Lilandra: *She was relieved that Aldir was alright and released from dungeon..but nervous about the coming departure. Still..they were the same situation. She prefered it to being apart.*
Vardamir: Now, Master of Slaves, where am I to be taken?
Frodo: Vardamir...*he says apologetically, then cuts himself off and turns back to Vartang* Unchain them!!
Narrator: *Strange, random thoughts begin to enter Frodo's mind, foreign to him*. He thinks that he hears another voice in his mind, the voice of Vardamir, cursing him. And then he hears the voice of Aldir, who is concerned for his wife, Lilandra*
Lilandra: *she shivers as she feels the orcs leering eyes and unkind hands as they guard her*
Frodo: *frowns, bewildered...he hears their voices yet they do not speak*
Narrator: *And then it seems that thoughts of many begin to fill his head, almost drowning out Frodo's own thoughts*
Frodo's Ring: *And then it seems that the Ring begins to are mighty now... it says. The thoughts that come to your mind are of those connected to you by their Rings...*
Frodo: *He draws in a sharp breath*
Lilandra: *she looks to Frodo...the master who is a supposed help to all the others ignores the three of them now....gazing off*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring continues. It is a simple thing, O Great One....*
Frodo's Ring: *Use the powers that you have been given..... Command these two unruly slaves of yours to obey you*
Frodo: *Frodo bites his lip and looks to Vardamir and Aldir*
Vardmir: *Vardamir looks back at Frodo with hate and Frodo can hear his thoughts.... mad one! mad one! If I were free and your head were a bit further off the ground.... I would cut it off!*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring says... Great One... indeed it is true that you resisted the One, but can you bear the continual thoughts of your nine slaves?*
Frodo: *Frodo is shocked by Vardamir's plans against his life...he is drowning in a swirling sea of chaotic voices*
Lilandra: *struggling against her chains..rusty..pulling hard then leave cruel marks about her wrists...he favors the others...they all roam free and have feasts in his honor...we are chained*
Frodo: *He can no longer tell who is who...or what they are saying....he feels he will go mad*
Frodo: *The ring's voice rises above the tumult...he clings to it as a drowning man to a lifeline*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring says softly, sympathetically.... use your powers....*
Frodo: *Frodo's mind screams. WHAT powers?!*
Frodo's Ring: *Change the thoughts of Vardamir*
Frodo: *looks to Vardamir, torn between horror and the temptation....change his thoughts?!*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring becomes more convincing in its speech... Frodo, think of your Ring and then command all of them to obey you. Vardamir truly is dangerous. He will kill you if he can. You know that*
Frodo: *Frodo clenches and unclenches his fist with the ring...he takes a deep breath*
Frodo: We are leaving on our journey now...let us all go peacefully and quietly
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring says... proclaim yourself to your minds. Proclaim what you are truly!*
Frodo: *He stops midway, shuts his eyes tightly and breathes hard*
Frodo's Ring: *You will feel their thoughts in your mind, Frodo. Direct them*
Frodo: *opens his eyes and continue* Unchain them...but my friends, do not cause a fuss. We must all go peacefully
Vardamir: *Vardamir continues to glare at Frodo...Perhaps.... if I can gain his confidence.... I will slay him*
Frodo: *Fear overcomes Frodo and he slips into the temptation....all right....I do not want to die*
Frodo's Ring: *What a pity that would be, when the power is within your grasp!*
Frodo: *What are you saying...* *oh Valar, he is in the grip of a Ring again. This cannot be happening!*
Frodo: *He concentrates hard on Vardamir...and finds he can now communicate with him via thought*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring says... Great Master.... you are the one with the power now. Use it!*
Frodo: *He sends him a message: You shall not kill me!*
Vardamir: *Vardamir looks to Frodo, unbelievingly, and thinks.... what is happening! Am I going mad too?*
Lilandra: *she searches Frodo who seems in long silence and watches his almost twisting expression...she closes her eyes and looks down*
Vardamir: *Then his thoughts towards Frodo become confused, almost random to Frodo, and Frodo can read his thoughts saying.... why would I kill you?*
Frodo: *Because you are are a prisoner. But I shall not let harm come to you if you can help it. You shall not kill me...if you value your own welfare. Vartang is a far worse master*
Vardamir: *Why are you in my mind! What are you?*
Frodo: *I do not know....neither why I can do this nor what I am, soldier of Gondor.*
Vardamir: *Frodo can feel telepathically that Vardamir's will begins to waver before Frodo's And then the thoughts say... I will never harm you*
Frodo: *Frodo is relieved...and horrified*
Vartang: *Vartang looks at the scene with blatant amusement on his face* Shakh, it is time to go
Frodo: *startled, he jolts and looks to Vartang*
Vardamir: *Vardamir's body seems to sag and his head is bowed*
Frodo: *Frodo is overcome with pity for Vardamir, and remorse*
Lilandra: *she twists and wrings her hands together..chains grinding on her wrists and forearms and she feels her ring....such confusion! much undetermined darkness and terror ahead she feels*
Frodo: *Lilandra's thoughts suddenly drown out the cacophony in his head, just as he was about to try and reassure Vardamir*
Frodo: *Tentatively he focuses on her...and reaches into her mind: Be still. Be at peace*
Lilandra: *her eyesbrows furrow when she feels the mental suggestions and she breathes heavily..hearing the voice...wh..what? how?*
Vartang: *Vartang notes the subdued look of Vardamir*
Frodo: *I shall not let harm come to you. Be at peace, be still*
Lilandra: *her heaving shoulders, which match her deep breathing, begin to slow...her eyes widen before they relax*
Frodo: *Frodo smiles at her...some apology remains in his face*
Aldir: *Aldir looks to his wife and sees that she is beginning to relax, but he still feels great concern for her*
Frodo: *Frodo feels the urgency of Aldir's worry for his it drowns out the other voices*
Aldir: *What will become of her, he thinks*
Aldir: *She is chained, how can they allow that?*
Frodo: *He reaches into Aldir's mind reassuringly: Do not worry, Aldir. I shall not let harm come to her*
Frodo: *I will have them unchain you all...just go peacefully, and do not worry*
Frodo's Servants: *while frodo had been exerting the power of his ring over vardamir, aldir and lilandra, the servants of frodos household who would embark upon the journey prepare for travel*
Aldir: *What is this voice I hear in my mind? This horrible, echoing voice, what is it!*
Frodo: *It is only Frodo, Master Frodo. I will not let harm come to you or your wife*
Aldir: *What trick is this? the thoughts rush to Frodo*
Aldir: *Frodo, my friend? Your lips do not move!*
Frodo: *I know friend but be at peace. I will take care of you*
Aldir: *What will you have me do, my friend?*
Aldir: *Aldir slowly begins to feel that the voice is not so horrible, but really is the voice of his friend, Frodo. He relaxes*
Frodo: *I would have you go quietly with the guards, because then they will not chain you. And I would have you be comforted about your wife*
Vartang: Shakh, you certainly have been quiet. *he grins at Frodo*
Aldir: *Your words comfort me, my friend. I will cause no trouble*
Frodo: *Frodo snaps out of this strange mental connection and whips around at Vartang..Horror fills him at what he has just done*
Vartang: Shakh, what would you have me do with these prisoners? They seem to have had a change of heart *he says mockingly*
Frodo: *Frodo's expression is one of dismay and turmoil....but he struggles to master it*
Vartang: They no longer have the fire in their eyes that they once did
Vartang: Indeed, your presence must have a calming influence on them *he says with a wicked grin*
Frodo: *He feels guilty...has he taken away their wills? Their spirits? What has he done? Valar! What has he done?!*
Frodo: Unchain them! *he manages*
Vartang: As you say, Great Shakh. Your will shall be done!
Vartang: *He orders all three prisoners unchained and horses saddled and brought for them*
Lilandra: *she nods to Frodo as she is being unchained* Thank you Master
Vartang: The five others, Shakh.... what do you wish for them?
Frodo: Let them ride with me
Vartang: So as you wish, Shakh. It shall be done
Vartang: *He walks aside, over to an officer and gives him brief orders. Soon, eight more horses are brought out, saddled, bridled and ready. The number of packhorses and remounts are increased to fifteen*
Vartang: Shakh, all is in readiness now
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks to Frodo* I see a pony and a very fat one at that!
Frodo: *Frodo smiles and looks to the pony*
Frodo's Servants: *the other ladies come out of the keep, now clad in traveling clothes*
Frodo: *Ceolwulf's audible voice breaks through the thoughts Frodo senses from Ceolwulf's mind*
Frodo: Yes...*Frodo smiles awkwardly*
Frodo: His name is Raulik. It means "Beerbarrel"
Ceolwulf: *he almost laughs in spite of himself* Since this is the only pony in sight, I assume it must be yours
Ceolwulf: Frodo, shall I help you mount this fine beast? *he laughs*
Frodo: *At first he almost gladly accepts...then remembers Ceolwulf's injuries*
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf, thank you
Vartang: Mount up, all of you! The journey begins!
Frodo: I will manage it
Frodo's Servants: *at vartang's command, the ladies (and finduilas' two sons) mount their horses*
Frodo: *Frodo mounts the pony. His mind is somewhat clearer now, and his body is much stronger than before his departure*
Aldir: *Aldir goes to his wife and kisses her in joy, then he goes to the horse that an orc brings for her and aids her in mounting. He gets on the horse beside her*
Lilandra: *she smiles in the kiss and is eased on the horse and looks to him adoringly*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf goes to the horse that he is given, puts his left foot of the stirrup, his hand on the pommel and reins, and gets on the horse*
Ceolwulf: *He looks down at Frodo and smiles. In a low voice he says* At last, we are leaving!
Frodo: *Frodo smiles up at him*
Frodo: Yes...I wonder to what we go
Frodo's Servants: *the ladies look around them, taking in the sights of the keep and surrounding grounds, knowing that they shall never see nurn again*
Ceolwulf: To the unknown... *he says as he holds the reins of the horse, preparing for the order to leave*
Ceolwulf: *He feels the powerful horse beneath him and somehow once more, he is riding the plains of Rohan once again*
Frodo: *Frodo can sense that thought...and it makes him smile genuinely*
Vartang: Take your last look, Shakh. We ride now *he laughs* for the river!
Frodo: *Frodo looks around his temporary home for the last time...trying to ignore the voices in his mind*
Frodo: *O Valar, he prays, do not abandon us though we are in the clutches of the enemy*
Frodo's Servants: *their emotions are mixed.... both sad yet joyful to be leaving*
Frodo: *Stay with us on our path and guide us*
Vartang: *Vartang touches his horse's sides with his spurs and the animal begins to walk*
Vartang: We will travel through the night and stop only briefly to take nourishment and water
Frodo: *nods*
Frodo: *looks quickly to Ceolwulf, wondering if he can handle it but forces himself to stop worrying*
Frodo's Servants: *arnasa looks longingly at the keep, for she has never been out of nurn, and is sorrowful to leave the land of her birth behind*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf wonders if he can hear Frodo's voice in his mind, for some strange reason, and thinks... it takes more than a whipping to defeat a man of Rohan*
Frodo: *If Ceolwulf thinks he feels a strange thought message from Frodo, it is a strong feeling of pride in his Rohirrim friend*
Narrator: *The group of Frodo and His Nine Riders, twenty bodyguards and the baggage horses, follow behind Vartang*
Narrator: *As the last rays of the sun go behind the western horizon, so the journey begins*
Sauron the Great: *Back in His Dark Hall.... the Dark Lord gazes out at Mt. Orodurin through the Window of the Eye*
Sauron the Great: *He begins to chuckle softly, until his laughter grows into a rushing burst of sound and he strokes his ring*
Sauron the Great: Let him now be his own Ring Lord! *Sauron laughs again*

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