Evening of November 7 - Morning November 8, 3019

Around 5 o'clock in the evening, November 7, the ten orc guards and their corporal, Pizgal Burzash, made their way with their prisoner Ceolwulf to the ruins of Osgiliath. All along the twenty miles of the route, the uruk-hai guards and their corporal had viciously whipped Ceolwulf, prodded him with spears, struck him blows and taunted him. Already weakened by the whipping that he had endured two days before, Ceolwulf was no longer able to keep pace early in the journey and was carried the rest of the way by two burly uruks. When at last they reached Osgiliath, the orcs made their camp and built a roaring fire to keep warm during the night. They had a raucous time in the camp, drinking orc draught and tormenting Ceolwulf. After enduring much, a thick rope was wrapped around Ceolwulf, binding him to one of the ruined columns.

When at last the revelry of the orc camp had quieted, Aldir and Vardamir, screaming Elvish battle cries, charged their horses into the camp. Much to their amazement and dismay, as soon as they touched their hands to the hilts in battle fury, both their untested blades had begun to glow with a fierce red light as the lettering on the sword blades stood out in orange contrast, "He Who Wields This Blade Serves Mordor." At first touch, the hilts burned their hands with unseen fire, as though the blade itself willed them to yield. Enduring the pain, both Aldir and Vardamir clenched their sword hilts firmly and watched as their blades hewed down the orcs with lethal vengeance.

While Vardamir fought with the orcs, Aldir was pulled from his horse by an orc, and both fell to the ground heavily with the orc on top of Aldir. As they fought, the orc sank his dagger into Aldir's left side. Aldir groaned in pain and the sword fell from his hand. As the orc raised his dagger again to strike the killing blow, Vardamir raked his back with the sword. Then, turning his horse, Vardamir quickly rode back and impaled the orc the point of his sword.

After regaining hold of his sword, Aldir struggled to his feet and stood with his sword in his right hand and his dagger in his left, his legs braced apart. An orc, seeing that Aldir had been wounded, thought him easy prey and lunged at Aldir. Although taken by surprise, Aldir's sword arm came out, striking the orc in a cutting blow on the side. As the orc fell into him, Aldir caught him in the stomach on the point of his dagger.

Now seeing most of the orcs either dead on the ground or fleeing, he lied to Vardamir, telling him that he was unhurt and ordered Vardamir to go after the two fleeing orcs. Vardamir soon caught up with him, trampling one of the orcs to death under the galloping hooves of his horse. Only Corporal Burzash still lived and he raced frantically back the way the orcs had come. Vardamir cut off his head at a gallop, silencing the orc forever, and denying the colony of lice that had infested his body another meal of warm black blood. Vardamir turned his horse and raced back to the scene of the battle. He found a wounded Aldir and a badly injured Ceolwulf. Aldir, weakened by his blood that stained the white snow, had driven the point of his sword into the ground, and placed his hands over the hilt, he rested his head there for support.

Vardamir quickly dismounts and ties his horse's reins to a sickly shrub that grows near a piece of the jagged rubble. Aldir greets him with a wry laugh. "The Witch-King's gifts are gifts in word only, for they carry with them a curse."

Vardamir portrayed by Eowyn
Ceolwulf portrayed by Hobbit
Narrator and Aldir played by Wraith

Vardamir: *Vardamir walks over to Aldir and looks to him with concern* Are you badly hurt, my friend?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf sits on the ground next to Aldir, leaning against the pillar where he was tied. He stares dazed at Aldir and Vardamir, overcome with gratitude, surprise, and worry for them*
Aldir: *The wound in his left side had felt numb for some time after the fight, but now it begins to throb with a nagging intensity* Only a little, Vardamir, only a little
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's brow furrows suddenly. He can feel the pain from Aldir's wound, even though he himself has no wound there, and he can see into Aldir's mind. He can see Aldir's fear and desperate need to return to Lilandra, and he sympathizes with it, for he feels the same way about Elfhild*
Vardamir: How is your side? The pain from the sword hilt is wicked indeed, but we must endure it. *he walks over to the fire and stirs it up, kicking in charred pieces of wood to the sides*
Aldir: *He laughs* My hand hurts far more than my side *he straightens his back out and sheaths his sword and puts his dagger back into its scabbard on his belt*
Aldir: I could use some warmth by the fire for the rest of my body *he says as he walks towards the fire, staggering as he goes*
Ceolwulf: Aldir,
Aldir: *he thinks... oh my side aches. I fear that the blood must cover the handkerchief that Lilandra had placed there for me as a memento*
Vardamir: *Vardamir rolls over three chunks of rock or column near the fire so the three men can sit upon them*
Aldir: *He stumbles towards the fire, leaving a trail of blood behind him in the snow*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf frowns at the blood and feels the increased pain from Aldir's wound along with all his own injuries*
Aldir: *he walks to the fire and sits down heavily on one of the pieces of broken column that Vardamir had moved there*
Vardamir: *looking to his two comrades he says* Ceolwulf and Aldir, let me tend to your wounds
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf uses the pillar to pull himself up, then stumbles toward the campfire, almost falling along the way. He reaches one of the stones and sits with his head in his hands, resting, for a moment, then gestures toward Aldir* He's bleeding. Tend him first, Vardamir
Vardamir: *Vardamir looks over to Aldir* I thought you said that you weren't wounded badly...?
Aldir: I am not wounded badly. Neither my liver nor my spleen has been punctured.....
Vardamir: Let me have a look *he walks over to Aldir*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf is still trying to make sense of all this*
Aldir: No, it is too cold. Let me alone
Vardamir: My friend, you protest too much. You must be wounded badly. Here, let me look, so I can get an idea of what all I will need.
Aldir: *he moves his hand dismissively* No, it is a small matter. I am more likely to freeze to death than bleed to death
Vardamir: While you talk on incessantly, Ceolwulf is in pain and wears rags. Permit me to look and then I shall leave you alone.
Aldir: Tend to Ceolwulf first. He needs your care far more than I do
Ceolwulf: I am not the one in danger of bleeding to death. You won't freeze. If I haven't frozen, you won't *wry laugh*
Vardamir: Well, take some wine anyway, my friend. *he walks over to the horse and pulls a flask from the pack, then returns to Aldir and hands it to him*
Aldir: *He looks up at him as he takes the wine flask* At least you could have taken the cork out, couldn't you?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's mouth waters. He had an old custom of drinking wine in Rohan, and had enjoyed Frodo's wine in Nurn, but has not had anything but bread and water and orc draught for a month*
Vardamir: *he pulls his hand back and uncorks the flask, then hands it back to Aldir*
Aldir: *He takes a drink and then hands the flask to Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: Thank you, my friend *he drinks deeply from the flask. As he hands the flask back to Vardamir, he stares intently at them both* Why have you done this?
Vardamir: *He walks over to Ceolwulf and bending down, he looks at his back, where he has been whipped, speared and prodded*
Aldir: *he takes the flask back from Ceolwulf and drinks from it and sighs* Ah, Ceolwulf, we had nothing better to do on a cold winter's day than rescue you
Ceolwulf: *grins* But we don't even know each other very well, and you have risked your lives for me this night
Vardamir: *he steps back and looks to Ceolwulf* Mostly cuts, scratches, scrapes and bruises, some deep, some not so deep. Let me go and get some salve and bandages.
Ceolwulf: *nods to Vardamir* Thank you, Vardamir
Aldir: *He hands the wine flask back to Ceolwulf, then wipes his mouth off with the back of his hand. Then he pulls his hood down low over his head and sits hunched silently before the fire*
Ceolwulf: But you should really tend to Aldir. We do not know if his wound is deep or not. I can wait a while. I do not have any deep wounds, but an orc-knife, that can be different
Vardamir: *he strides lightly through the trodden snow and ground up earth to his saddlebags and fetches salve, bandages and blankets, then returns to Ceolwulf*
Vardamir: *He looks between the two of them* Whom should I tend? Will you two argue all night over who is the more wounded?
Aldir: *Aldir sits silent, his face resolutely set, looking into the fire. His left hand clasping over his wound and the pocket with Lilandra's handkerchief*
Ceolwulf: I can settle that easily. I have many more wounds. *he jokes* But he might have a serious one
Vardamir: *he takes a few steps towards Aldir, placing his supplies on the ground. he looks to him and speaks imploringly* Please, my friend, let me tend to you, as Ceolwulf has bidden me.
Vardamir: Perhaps he has more sense than you - anyone would, though...
Aldir: *He shakes his head and remains silent. His body begins to sway precariously as he sits on the column*
Vardamir: Aldir! *he cries and swooping down, grasps his friend by the arms and eases him down upon the ground*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's voice rises in alarm, for he still feels Aldir's wound* Vardamir, he IS seriously wounded! Help him!
Vardamir: *he pulls his feet away from the fire and repositions him so that he lies near the fire and parallel to it* Ceolwulf *he looks up* gather some sticks and make a torch, if you can, so that I can see what I am doing *he gently pulls Aldir's cloak away from his body and his hands work on unfastening the belt around his tunic*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf is not sure if he can, but he tries. He sees some pieces of wood among the rubble, crawls over to them, then returns to the fire. He holds the sticks in a bundle together and lights it*
Ceolwulf: *He tries to hold the torch straight, but he reels with both his own and Aldir's pain by this time, and his hand trembles. He tries to keep it from the others*
Vardamir: *having unfastened the belt, he eases Aldir's tunic up to his upper chest. By the light of the torch, he can see a gaping wound down his left side, about ten inches long*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's lips part in dismay*
Vardamir: *he looks up to Ceolwulf* This looks bad. Wait here, and let me get a pan to melt snow for water to clean the wound
Aldir: *Aldir groans* Tell Lilandra... that.... I might not be home... tonight...
Vardamir: *Vardamir runs across the snow back to his horse and takes a pan from the saddle bag. He returns to the campfire and gathers up handfuls of clean snow, dumping them in the pot*
Vardamir: *He holds the pot by its handle over the fire until the snow melts. Then returning to Aldir, he takes a rag from the pile of cloth, wets it, and begins cleaning the wound*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf continues to hold the torch with increasingly shaky hands, perplexed and fearful*
Vardamir: I have to stop the blood or he will die. *he looks up to Ceolwulf and then back to Aldir, picking out pieces of dirt and cloth that had entered the wound*
Vardamir: *When he has finished cleaning the wound, he reaches over into the pile of supplies and retrieves a jar of solve, a mixture of yarrow and lard*
Vardamir: I will have to sew this, but first I must stanch the flow of blood. *he says as he uncaps the jar and begins spreading the minty smelling balm upon the wound* At least it is not an artery. Hold the torch closer, Ceolwulf... look how pale his face is!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf crawls closer with the torch, seeing splotches of bright color appear and fade before his eyes*
Vardamir: *the flow of blood soon slows until it just oozes a bit, and some of Aldir's pain is relieved*
Ceolwulf: *The torch's shaking becomes less violent*
Narrator: *The snow begins to fall heavily again and soon the dark forms of the nine dead orcs around them are covered with a layer of snow*
Vardamir: *He reaches into the bundle and takes a needle and wooden handled tongs. He holds the needle into the fire, cleansing it of impurities. Then he pulls it out of the fire and holds it up in the air, letting it cool off. After that, he pulls a coil of thread from a spool and threads the needle*
Vardamir: *he bends over Aldir's wound* Ceolwulf, bring the torch lower and closer. I will need more light for this
Aldir: *Aldir stoically endures the pain, certain that he is about to die*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf inches even closer, and his hands lower the torch. He prays that he will not drop it on either of them*
Vardamir: *After knotting the thread, his hands move to one end of the wound, and he eases the needle into the skin, so the knot will rest beneath the fold of flesh. He sews one layer inside the wound, bringing the two edges of flesh together, and then stops at the other end of the wound, sewing it from the outside*
Aldir: Vardamir *he moans* It is no use, for I am dying. Go away, both of you. Let me die in peace
Vardamir: *After tying the final knot, he breaks the thread with his teeth* Aldir, you talk too much. You might think you are dying but you are not dying. It is a shame you cannot see the marvel of my craft! If I had already sewn up two men, you would make my third!
Aldir: Let me look at the brightness of the stars as they shine through the snow. I think I can see the stars.... Vardamir, can you see the stars?
Vardamir: *The sky is dusky shades of pink, grey and black* No, I cannot see the stars. No one can see them, for the snow obscures them. You drank too much.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf lets the torch fall towards the campfire*
Vardamir: Ceolwulf, help me get him into a sitting position. I fear he is too heavy for one man to lift.
Aldir: I don't want to sit up! Go away and leave me alone! I want to die and your voices are like the buzzing of irritating insects!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf does not answer, for he has quietly fainted*
Vardamir: *he notices that Ceolwulf has fainted and he groans, muttering under his breath* Aldir, you REALLY need to stop eating so much.
Vardamir: *Grunting, he struggles to pull Aldir into a sitting position, propping him up against the section of ruined column. His weight is heavy and dead for his body is limp - making him seem to weigh more than he actually does*
Vardamir: *After getting Aldir into a sitting position, Vardamir takes another glob of the yarrow salve and smears it over the wound. Then, folding a cloth into a pad, he places it upon the wound, and begins to wrap strips of cloth around his middle and back, securing the pad in place. Vardamir ties the ends of the wrapping together, pulling the tunic back down. from the bundle, he takes a blanket and spreads it on the ground and gently eases Aldir on top of it, beside the fire*
Vardamir: *He pulls Aldir's cloak around him and taking a blanket and a folded up towel from the supplies, he places the blanket atop him and props his head up on the towel* Now sleep, my friend and may Elbereth be with you.
Vardamir: *he rushes over to Ceolwulf and shakes him gently, trying to rouse him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf opens his eyes and tries to raise himself* It's so strange, Vardamir...I don't understand it.
Vardamir: Aldir will be all right *he tells him* but he is weak from shock and loss of blood. Now, I must tend to you. Can you move any closer to the fire?
Vardamir: *He aids him as he struggles to move closer* What is strange, my friend? *he helps him over to one of the column chunks that he set by the fire and eases him against it*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf inches back the way he came, toward the fire, grimacing* I can feel Aldir's mind...I can feel what is happening to him
Vardamir: *Vardamir moves over to the forgotten pot and dumps out the bloodied water. Taking more snow, he wipes it out and puts in several handfuls of fresh snow. He holds it over the fire to melt* So you can read his mind now? There isn't much there, it must be dreadfully uninteresting.
Ceolwulf: *smiles weakly*
Vardamir: *He sets the pot on the ground after the snow has melted. moving over to Ceolwulf he says* Here, let me help you get that rag you're wearing as a tunic off.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf straightens from leaning to the side against his column chunk* Thank you
Vardamir: *Vardamir eases off the tattered remains of the tunic. bending down, he takes a rag and dips it in the water, wringing it out. He begins to gently cleanse the wounds upon Ceolwulf's back*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf tenses and draws in a few sharp breaths, but tries not to think of his wounds*
Vardamir: *reaching over, he reaches into the jar of yarrow-salve and takes a handful out. he begins smearing it upon all of the whip marks and cuts, scratches on Ceolwulf's back*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf tries to start a conversation to distract himself* This was all your idea, wasn't it, my friend? You must have had a time convincing Aldir to leave his poor wife. I still can't believe you have done this for me
Vardamir: *The herb soon staunches the flow of blood and eases some of the pain* Aye, it was my idea, to come out here to rescue your worthless pelt. How badly injured are your sides and chest and legs?
Ceolwulf: *laughs at Vardamir's joke, then tries to remember exactly what the orcs did to him* My chest is not so bad. Most of the lashes went on my back and sides but my legs are pretty well sliced up and they struck my head once or twice...I have a terrific headache
Vardamir: Try to move a bit away from the column and I shall tend to your sides and legs.
Ceolwulf: *scoots away from the column to allow Vardamir to continue his work on him*
Vardamir: *Vardamir takes the rag, wetting it once again in the pot and wringing it out, and cleanses the wounds upon Ceolwulf's sides and chest. Then, taking more of the salve, he treats the worst looking of the whip marks and scratches. He reaches over and and takes long strips of fabric, cut up sheets, and begins wrapping them around Ceolwulf's middle*
Ceolwulf: So what possessed you to come out here and risk your most valuable pelt for my worthless one?
Vardamir: *He shrugs as he once again dips the rag in the pot and wrings it out* There was nothing better to do, and we were bored.
Ceolwulf: *laughs again* You are incredible, Vardamir. I believe you'd face an army of charging wargs with a jest
Vardamir: *he laughs* Perhaps... I would entertain the wargs while I slew them. *he cleanses the wounds upon Ceolwulf's legs, puts salve on the worst looking of them, and bandages them up. He eases the shreds of Ceolwulf's tunic back down and hands him a blanket* You will freeze to death in those rags... I shall have to pilfer the dead orcs for new ramient.
Vardamir: *He rises to his feet and retrieving the wine flask, he hands it to Ceolwulf. Then he goes to Aldir to check on him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf huddles in the blanket and drinks from the wine flask again* I feel much better already.
Vardamir: *He takes his pulse and listens to his breathing, putting his hand on his forehead.* His breathing is steady, his pulse is firm. He is a strong man. He will live, but let him sleep.
Ceolwulf: *nods* That is good! I was worried at first that he would not survive
Vardamir: Now I must relieve our silent friends *he gestures towards the dead orcs* of any unnecessary possessions. Twould be a pity to let anything go to waste.... There is plenty of draught here, food, weapons and clothing, leather armor, daggers, swords, and a good bow, though short in range.
Vardamir: *He walks over to one of the dead orcs and fetches a flask of orc draught. Then he goes over to Aldir and holds the lip of the flask to his lips, pouring some of the liquid down his throat*
Aldir: *Sleeping lightly, Aldir wakes up when the burning draught starts going down his throat, choking him* Who is trying to kill me! *he snorts*
Vardamir: *he moves the flask away from Aldir's mouth* No one's trying to kill you. Just thought you would need a little refreshment after so trying a time!
Aldir: The taste is foul in my mouth, but I know that this hateful brew is said to have curative powers. Give me some more of it Vardamir, for I feel that it strengthens me
Vardamir: Take the whole flask. I will get another. There is draught aplenty!
Aldir: *He pushes himself up into a sitting position and takes the flask from Vardamir's hands and begins drinking the burning liquid*
Ceolwulf: *Strangely, Ceolwulf feels better along with Aldir...he would almost say because of Aldir's improvement*
Vardamir: *Vardamir strides over the muddied snow and goes to each orc, pilfering flasks of draught, food, and weapons. He comes back with each load of supplies and places it near the campfire, then goes off again, pilfering from their dead enemies*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf reaches over, takes a piece of dried bread, sits back with it, and begins eating it*
Vardamir: *After holding the orcish garments over the fire to drive away the nits, Vardamir throws Ceolwulf a tunic, breeches and cloak. Then he is off again on his quest*
Aldir: *Refreshed by the orc draught, Aldir reaches into the pocket of his cloak and finds the handkerchief of Lilandra a sodden mass of cloth and the lock of her hair. He reaches inside his tunic for the parchment that Frodo had given him and he feels the blood soaked fragments of it begin to disintegrate in his fingers*
Aldir: Vardamir *he calls* See if you can find a tunic that will fit me. Mine is soaked. And bring me a cloak, if you will
Vardamir: I shall! But it will be very hard indeed to find an orc as large as you! *he laughs merrily*
Ceolwulf: *Stiffly, Ceolwulf puts on the clothes. He grabs another flask of orc draught from Vardamir's pile and places it next to him. He wraps the blanket around himself again, then drinks the draught*
Aldir: *he takes two quick swallows of orc draught, flinching as the fierce liquid burns his throat, but which each drink, he feels strengthened*
Vardamir: *After a short while, Vardamir returns with a large tunic and cloak, gathered from a particularly heavy orc. Breeches there are also in the stack of foul-smelling garments, and Vardamir places the bundle beside Aldir*
Ceolwulf: *His guards never allowed him enough of the draught to truly revive him, only enough to allow him to keep going for the moment. But now he downs enough to restore much of his strength*
Vardamir: *Breeches there are also in the stack of foul-smelling garments, and Vardamir places the bundle beside Aldir*
Aldir: Vardamir, you fool! Hold these over the fire on a stick and let the creatures inside be heated up so that they jump into the flame!
Vardamir: Aldir, you always have SOMETHING to complain and grumble about! *He fetches a stick and drapes the tunic over it, holding it above the fire. The heat from the blaze makes life uncomfortable for the nits and they begin to jump off, landing in the fire and making popping noises*
Vardamir: I do not see why you complain so much, my friend. Here we are, on a pleasant journey, listening to music around the campfire.
Ceolwulf: Quite a lively accompaniment it is too *listens to the nits crackle in the fire*
Vardamir: *When the popping sound has died down, Vardamir tosses the tunic back to Aldir and puts the breeches upon the stick, holding them above the fire. More popping can be heard in the stillness of the night*
Aldir: *He stands up and takes off his cloak, then his tunic and replaces them with the tunic that Vardamir threw at him*
Vardamir: *When the breeches are done, he throws them to Aldir and then puts the cloak on the stick and holds it over the fire*
Aldir: *He takes off his breeches and tosses them on the fire and puts on the set that Vardamir obtained* These things garments have a reeking stench
Vardamir: *he laughs merrily* The nits did not seem to mind it that much...! *he tosses him the cloak*
Aldir: Vardamir, the cloak that you have given me is soaked with as much blood as my own. I will keep my cloak
Vardamir: Very well, ingrate!
Aldir: And his tunic was almost as bad as mine and smells far worse
Vardamir: You complain too much, Aldir. That was one of the drier ones.
Aldir: Yes, it is, my friend, a bit drier *he throws his own tunic on the fire* I cannot see the stars for the snow that falls. How long have we been here?
Vardamir: It is eight o'clock now I believe.
Aldir: No, my friend, it cannot be so early. I estimate it is ten o'clock now. See, you do not know everything
Vardamir: Nay, but perhaps it is nine o'clock.
Aldir: No, it is ten at the earliest
Ceolwulf: Whatever time it is, perhaps they are on your trail
Vardamir: Thirty minutes after nine.
Ceolwulf: Perhaps we should be off soon, if you are able, Aldir
Aldir: Perhaps thirty minutes after nine
Vardamir: Aye, we should be off soon, if we can keep Aldir from talking all night and stalling us!
Aldir: Talk? Me? I am as silent as a speechless bird compared to you, a chattering magpie
Vardamir: A magpie, is it! Ha! You sound worse than a gaggle of noisy geese!
Aldir: Geese, is it? You sound as a cawing crow
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf pulls himself up with the help of his chunk of a column*
Vardamir: Ah, but you sound like ten cawing crows. But crows or no, I need to tend to the other two horses, and prepare for our journey.
Ceolwulf: I suggest you continue your argument as we walk. Do you need me to carry anything?
Aldir: Tend to the horses? Where are the horses?
Vardamir: I am going off to find them, but your incessant chatter prevents me!
Aldir: Go! Go! Begone! And look for the horses!
Vardamir: Gladly! Anything to be away from the constant hum and drone of your words! *he laughs merrily and disappears into the dusky night, running lightly through the snow*
Ceolwulf: You seem to be feeling better, Aldir
Aldir: Aye, the wretched orc draught lives up to its reputation, both as being a fiery brew and of being a restorative
Ceolwulf: It must be the only thing that keeps the wretches going, that and fear of their masters
Aldir: I will be able to travel, but we must be away from this place, and soon
Ceolwulf: Yes, I hope Vardamir returns quickly.
Vardamir: *A short time later, Vardamir returns, leading the two horses. He ties them to columns and what brush he can find near the fire*
Aldir: I must travel twenty miles ere dawn
Vardamir: *he begins to pack the pilfered supplies and weapons upon the two horses*
Ceolwulf: You must...?
Aldir: Yes, Ceolwulf, I cannot remain with you two, for I promised my wife that I would return, and I can never break a promise to her. You two take all the wine, all the food that we have left, and that Vardamir has pilfered from the orcs. I need only a skin of orc draught to see me home
Ceolwulf: Aldir! You cannot go back there! There are too many, guarding, probably on your trail, too many for you to st--- *he trails off, realizing he is saying the same things Frodo said to him*
Aldir: *He calls to Vardamir* Look in my saddlebags. Master Frodo has sent a gift for Ceolwulf
Vardamir: *Vardamir goes to Aldir's saddlebags and finds the scroll meant for Ceolwulf. He then walks over to Aldir and hands it to him*
Aldir: *He takes the parchment from Vardamir's hand and turning to Ceolwulf, he gives it to him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes the parchment, unties the ribbon, and carefully unrolls it. He gasps softly in appreciation of the calligraphy and the drawings of Rohan's horses and plains. He smiles sadly, then looks back up at them* Frodo made this?
Vardamir: *Vardamir walks back to the two horses and readies them for the journey*
Aldir: There is a bundle on the spare horse.... my wife prepared things. Take the bundle with you. You will need all the food and supplies that you can get
Vardamir: I'll get it, Aldir, but I'll leave some behind for you.
Aldir: Nay, I need nothing but this flask of orc draught
Ceolwulf: *For the moment, Ceolwulf has sat back down on his stone to study his parchment*
Aldir: My friends *he looks at them* the time has come for us to part
Ceolwulf: *He looks up at Aldir, rolls up his parchment and puts it down, then walks over to the man*
Vardamir: *Deciding that there is not enough time to get into a lengthy argument with Aldir about whether or not he needs food, Vardamir takes the bundle from Aldir's horse, but leaves a small loaf of bread in one of the saddle bags.*
Ceolwulf: *He shakes Aldir's hand* My careful and thank you
Aldir: *He shakes Ceolwulf's hand* Nay, my friend. A handshake will not suffice for such a situation *He looks to Vardamir*
Vardamir: *After securing the bundle upon his horse, Vardamir walks over to Aldir*
Aldir: We have a custom in Gondor upon saying farewell *He walks to Ceolwulf and embraces him. Then putting his hands upon Ceolwulf's shoulders, he bends down, since Ceolwulf is shorter, and kisses him upon the forehead. Then he steps back and does the same to Vardamir*
Vardamir: *Vardamir bends his head down, for he is taller than Aldir*
Aldir: Farewell, my friends. Go with the good will of all good men. *Reaching down to the ground, he takes his cloak and puts it on*
Ceolwulf: And you, my friend
Aldir: The blanket I lay upon, good Vardamir, though it is bloodied, it will still hold you in good stead. Take it
Vardamir: *he reaches down and grabs the blanket and packs it with the other things* Farewell, my friend. May our paths cross again someday, in better times, preferably.
Aldir: May the Valar be with both of you!
Ceolwulf: May the Valar protect you
Vardamir: *He walks over to Aldir's horse and unties it, leads the animal over to him and hands him the reins*
Aldir: *He holds the reins of the horse and looks to both of them* I will miss you both. Now you must ride north along the road north. Take heed and avoid any patrols that might be upon the road
Vardamir: *he nods* We shall.
Ceolwulf: I know a place, away from the road, about twenty miles away
Aldir: *he looks questioningly at Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: We came that way when we went to Pelennor.
Aldir: Then may you find the road, for it is dark and you might lose your way
Vardamir: I think not, friend Aldir. My eyes are sharp and I can see for miles!
Ceolwulf: Aldir, if you see Frodo, tell him... Tell him, "May the spirit of my horse that mayhaps dwells in the statue that I carved live within your heart and guide you someday to freedom."
Ceolwulf: And tell him that...if Elfhild comes back.... Let him tell her that I love her *he turns away, hiding his face*
Aldir: Ceolwulf, my friend, I will tell him that, should I return back safely. Now you two must be away. Do not be caught here!
Vardamir: *he quickly springs upon his horse* Aye! And you must begone as well.
Ceolwulf: *turns back to Aldir* Thank you, Aldir *clasps his shoulders, then returns to Vardamir*
Aldir: Ceolwulf, can you mount your horse by yourself? Drink some of the orc draught. It will bring strength to your limbs
Ceolwulf: *He bends and picks up his flask of orc draught and drinks quickly, then puts it in the saddle bags. He mounts his horse on the second try. Once again I ride through these lands, he thinks*
Aldir: *He slings the orc draught by its strap over the pommel of his saddle and then on the second try, he mounts his horse*
Vardamir: Farewell, my friend! Good fortune to you, and may the Valar protect your paths!
Aldir: *He sits on his horse, holding its reins with his left hand, reluctant to go* You go into freedom..... I go back to slavery. Farewell *then he wheels his horse quickly and knees it into a trot, then soon into a gallop and he is away west on the road to Minas Artano*
Vardamir: Farewell, Aldir, my friend! *he calls to Aldir's retreating form. then he looks to Ceolwulf* Come! Let us ride north to that place you spoke of!
Ceolwulf: I fear he rides to his death!
Vardamir: Perhaps we ride to our death as well. Either way, whether to life or to death, we ride to freedom.
Ceolwulf: *nods to Vardamir, then gently kicks his horse and leads the way to his hiding place*
Vardamir: *he knees his horse forward and soon flies by Ceolwulf, laughing merrily all the way*


By three o'clock in the morning, Aldir sees glowing torches and a huge bonfire off to the side of the road. He reins in his horse, pausing to look at it. Then he draws out the flask of orc draught and uncorks it and holds it to his lips, pausing to look at the fires. The night is still and snow still falls. From the camp, he can hear the howling of dogs. "The alarm must have been sounded. Hunters are on their trail! May the Valar protect them and guide them!"

He knees his horse into a slow walk, leaning slightly to the left, his hand resting over the blood soaked handkerchief of Lilandra in the inner pocket of his cloak. "And may the Valar guide me away from the nets and snares of the Enemy!" he thinks as his horse walks slowly down the road.

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