Morning of October 3, 3019

In the King's House I
The King's House, Minas Artano
By Hobbitness

Frodo walks through the corridors of the King's House in Minas Tirith--now Minas Artano--with his head hung in shame. To think that all this destruction happened because in Mordor, he dared to take a drink of water, and the orc saw him lift the flask, and thus he and Sam were captured.

The guards who escort him show him into his room, and a welcome sight rouses him from his melancholy. "Ceolwulf!" Frodo cries joyfully, rushing to the bed where his friend lies. But Ceolwulf shows no sign of having heard him. Frodo begins to worry. Why were the men so weary throughout the journey from Minas Morgul? And why won't Ceolwulf wake up now? If only Frodo could remember aught of their stay in the City of the Dead!

"Ceolwulf? Ceolwulf!" Frodo reaches up to shake the man's shoulder. Still no response. Frodo paces the room, frustrated. Perhaps this was the dark powers' design in giving him these servants--Frodo would become attached to them, and then would be powerless to help them in any trouble. Indeed, there has been trouble from the beginning, but suppose it is to grow worse now! What can he do if Ceolwulf is sick, or enchanted? What will he do if some doom is planned for Ceolwulf, and he loses the best friend who remains to him?

That thought brings a new reality to Frodo with such force that his knees go weak. He HAS lost two of his best friends. Elfhild and Elffled are still in Minas Morgul! He may never see them again! He trembles as the loss hits him like a blow. "I've lost them! I've lost my girls!" he whispers over and over.

Ceolwulf moans in his sleep, and Frodo is reminded of another trouble upon them: Ceolwulf is in love with Elfhild. Frodo had hoped to see them married someday. He sighs and returns to the bedside.

He pulls up a chair and climbs onto it, then sits on the bed next to Ceolwulf. He studies the man
intently, searching for any signs of mistreatment. But Ceolwulf looks the same as always. "Ceolwulf likes to say he is my elder brother," Frodo thinks with a smile, "but he is really more than 25 years younger than I am. Why, he is even younger than Pippin. His hair is almost the same color, too..." Frodo sighs wistfully, remembering his young cousin. A lock of hair has fallen into Ceolwulf's eyes; Frodo moves it out of the way. "It is growing back," he muses.

Soon he remembers the task at hand: waking Ceolwulf to make sure he is all right. Frodo tries again, coaxing and gently shaking him in hopes of seeing his eyes open.

In the King's House II
By Wraith

It was sometime before dawn, March 15, and the Rohirrim had just saddled their horses in the Grey Wood for the day's ride. Brightmane's ear flicked back as Ceolwulf stroked his shoulder and bent down close to his ear, whispering a word of endearment... No dawn again this morning; only a mirky glimmer of light would touch the eastern horizon.... He could feel the skin rippling as he stroked the horse's neck.... Brightmane's powerful muscles bunched up as Ceolwulf signaled the horse to break forward into a charging gallop.... Ceolwulf could hear the angry cries of battle all around him... Now Theoden King had been felled and lay crushed under his horse... A dark, dread shape approached and Brightmane panicked.... Ceolwulf could feel the sickening sensation as the horse rolled down the sheer wall of a rock strewn slope.... and then summersaulted head over heels into a chilling mountain stream....

Ceolwulf woke and sat up with a sudden start, finding himself eye to eye with Frodo, who had been peering down at him. He leans to his right, bringing his right arm up and holding his forehead in his hand, supporting himself with his elbow leaning on his thigh. "That was a bad dream, and the pain in my head is even worse! Frodo, did I drink too much ale last night? Only that would explain why my head feels like a shooting star has burst loose inside it."

He closes his eyes for a long while, and then opens them and shakes his head from side to side as though clearing some unwelcomed thought. He opens his eyes and looks around, alarm rising in his voice. "Frodo! Where are we? What is this place? The only things I can remember are riding through a gate into Minas Morgul, two feasts, at least I think it was two feasts, but it could have been more, and then next being here." He looks at Frodo. "Frodo, I do not like the look in your eyes. Something is wrong, isn't it! Tell me! What is it?" he asks as he pulls himself out of the bed and sits on the edge.

In the King's House III
By Hobbitness

Frodo is filled with relief to see that Ceolwulf is unharmed. But his relief soon turns to agitation when Ceolwulf seems confused and upset and complains of a bad headache. "You didn't drink any ale last night," Frodo smiles wryly. "We were still on the journey from Minas Morgul. You, Vardamir, and Aldir seemed weak and half asleep the whole time. But I can't tell you why; I do not remember our stay in Minas Morgul either. I was hoping you would." He shudders a
little. "It is like when they took me back to the Dark Tower. I remember leaving Nurn and flying off on the fell beast, but nothing of my stay there. Sometimes I have nightmares about it, but I cannot tell if they are real memories or not."

Frodo falls silent when Ceolwulf leans his head on his hand and closes his eyes. Frodo's eyes search the room for a medicine cabinet. He half hopes to find some sort of painkiller. "I don't know where they keep anything around here," he sighs under his breath.

Suddenly Ceolwulf looks up and fearfully wonders where they are. "Frodo, I do not like the look in your eyes. Something is wrong, isn't it! Tell me! What is it?"

"Well," Frodo replies slowly, "we are in what once was the kingdom of Gondor, but now it is a territory of Mordor." He can hardly believe the words, though he has seen their reality with his own eyes. "What is more, we are in the King's House, the dwelling place of the old Kings of Gondor. But Mordor has put its own pretended king here. His name is Varyon, and he is Vartang's elder brother!" Frodo scoffs.

"But that is not are right, there is something wrong, which touches us more closely...I don't remember why or how it occured, but..." He hesitates, hating to be the bearer of such bad news. Finally he takes Ceolwulf's hand and meets his eyes sadly. "Elfhild and Elffled did not come with us. They must still be in Minas Morgul."

Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Narrator, Ceolwulf and Vartang portrayed by Wraith

Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf is silent as he looks at Frodo*
Ceolwulf: What do you mean? *he says, his voice building in intensity*
Frodo: I don't remember leaving Minas Morgul, but when we arrived here, the girls were not with us!
Ceolwulf: What are you telling me?
Frodo: I don't know where they are...but they are probably still there
Ceolwulf: They can't be there!
Frodo: *moves back a little from Ceolwulf, nervous*
Ceolwulf: *he gets off the side of the bed, turns and looks to Frodo*
Ceolwulf: I do not believe it! *he says and shakes his head* You left them there!
Ceolwulf: No... no... *he says* I do not mean that
Frodo: *Frodo's jaw drops, he looks completely stricken*
Ceolwulf: What of the others? *he says, his voice full of alarm* Where are they?
Frodo: *in shock, he cannot bring himself to speak for long moments*
Ceolwulf: Are they all here? Where are they, Frodo? *he says his voice rising now and becoming irritated*
Frodo: *his eyes fill* I...I...I don't remember what happened....but I wouldn't have LEFT them there...but if Vartang and the Nine insisted what could I have done?!
Frodo: The others are here, except Arnasa!
Ceolwulf: Arnasa, too *his shoulders seem to sag*
Frodo: What could I have done? Tell Vartang and the Nine I insisted on bringing them? They would have laughed in my face
Frodo: Maybe that's what happened
Ceolwulf: No, Frodo *he says* I know you wouldn't have left them. I wouldn't have left them!
Ceolwulf: What will they do to them? What is their purpose for keeping them?
Frodo: *Frodo's face is bright red and his chest heaves with his agitation* I don't know!! I don't remember it either!!
Ceolwulf: No... no... *he says* I have spoken out of turn. You could do nothing. I can remember nothing! I must think on this *he says and sits down on a nearby chair*
Ceolwulf: *He puts his right elbow on his knee and supports his forehead on his hand*
Frodo: *still sitting on the edge of the bed, Frodo leans his elbows on his knees and lowers his face to his hands*
Ceolwulf: *Both of them sit there a while, lost in thought*
Ceolwulf: *Finally, Ceolwulf looks over to Frodo* You know what I am going to say, don't you? You know
Ceolwulf: You and your accursed Ring know... *he says and looks directly over at Frodo*
Frodo: I can is not as strong as before....but why do you speak this way? You cannot think me in league with them!
Ceolwulf: I know you are not, Frodo, that has always been apparent to me
Frodo: But all the same you are beginning to resent me...*trails off*
Ceolwulf: You are not with them, no, never, but the power of this Ring is strong. It makes your mind intrude into my thoughts, as I find sometimes that I can read your thoughts! *he puts his hand back on his forehead*
Frodo: *thinks: They made Sam turn against they probably work on him to the same end*
Ceolwulf: You know what I must do.... *he says, his voice now a whisper*
Frodo: *jumps off the bed* Oh! Ceolwulf, no!
Frodo: That is madness!....You cannot take on the Nine alone! It would be suicide!
Ceolwulf: *He gets up, goes over to Frodo, looks down at him, puts his hand on his shoulder and looks into his eyes*
Frodo: It would be impossible to rescue them!*
Frodo: *fights back tears*
Frodo: You must not do promised not to endanger yourself
Ceolwulf: Impossible.... but I cannot stay here.... not when.... Elfhild..... all of them.... are captives!
Frodo: Yes, they are, but you cannot do anything about it!
Frodo: Even if you go you will not succeed!
Ceolwulf: Relieve me of my promise, small brother!
Frodo: *Frodo pauses, agonized, staring into Ceolwulf's earnest eyes*
Ceolwulf: *He looks into Frodo's eyes intently*
Frodo: You will be killed and you will not be able to get them back!
Frodo: Can you not see that?
Ceolwulf: I cannot stay here idle!
Frodo: You are not idle! Ceolwulf, if you go away...! If I lose you too....!
Ceolwulf: *He exhales, and his body sags as though all the breath were taken out of him*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, I am torn.....
Frodo: *Frodo reaches up to squeeze one of the big hands on his shoulders*
Ceolwulf: Torn between my duty to you and..... my concern for her... for them...
Frodo: I know. I'm concerned for them too. They are like daughters to me
Frodo: But don't you see? How can you expect to stand against the Nine AND an army of the living and those with eternal life in the shadows?
Ceolwulf: *He relaxes his hold on Frodo's shoulders* I had hoped... *he says hesitantly* that perhaps.... things would be different... would be better......
Ceolwulf: Nurn was not so bad after a while.. I liked your fields, your herds, the horses. I thought perhaps I could learn to live there
Frodo: *softly* So did I *but he feels guilty for this thought of getting used to Mordor*
Ceolwulf: But now, after this... *he pulls away from Frodo and holds out the palms of his hands and looks at them*
Ceolwulf: *he drops his hands to his sides and looks back at Frodo* Have you learned anything of this place where we are? Have you been outside this room?
Ceolwulf: *He turns and looks at the door* Is this door guarded?
Frodo: Yes, I think it is
Ceolwulf: Tell me what you do know, Frodo, tell me about our captors
Frodo: I have been to the Court...remember, Vartang's brother, I told you about him?
Ceolwulf: Yes, I remember you said that, even though I was still drowsy
Frodo: *nods* They have planted Vartang's elder brother Varyon here as a king
Frodo: Varyon has given Vartang the title of *flinches* Steward of Gondor
Frodo: They seem to live in luxury here....there were maidens giving them their attentions.
Frodo: It was disgusting.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf shakes his head as though in disbelief* So the Easterlings take all... *he says*
Frodo: *bites his lip and nods*
Ceolwulf: And they have won, after all these years that my people have fought them! And now they bring their hordes here, to feed off the land like locusts!
Frodo: *hangs his head, then shakes it slowly* I'm sorry *he whispers*
Ceolwulf: So Varyon is king and Vartang his steward
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: And the fiends of Mordor must laugh in glee!
Frodo: *sighs*
Ceolwulf: *he sits back down in the chair* Frodo, we must ponder
Frodo: *goes to stand beside Ceolwulf, afraid to go too far from him now, for fear he will flee*
Ceolwulf: Rohan is 200 leagues north... Two hundred leagues to Freedom!
Frodo: You want to run away to Rohan...?
Frodo: *thinks for a while*
Ceolwulf: *he looks over to Frodo* Yes, I do!
Frodo: If you did, I would ask to come with you....but what of the girls?
Frodo: *sighs heavily* I cannot leave the others here. They depend on me
Ceolwulf: I can leave none of you *he says in a low voice*
Frodo: *his eyes widen*
Ceolwulf: One man, perhaps two could escape, but not all, nay, not all, especially not you, Frodo. They would be watching you day and night
Ceolwulf: The rest of us are of no consequence. They are interested in you, not us
Frodo: *that reminds him of his ring and he looks down to it with a gasp*
Frodo: You are right, they DO watch day and night....
Frodo: ...and maybe even right now....
Ceolwulf: They watch... do they listen too?
Ceolwulf: What power DOES that ring of yours have!
Frodo: Sometimes....I do not know...but I think *lowers his voice* He can see me, and hear me, whenever He wants
Ceolwulf: Then He must laugh at my boastful words!
Frodo: He laughs at us all.
Ceolwulf: But this ring that you have given me, what does it do, besides give you access to my mind?
Frodo: I do not think either of us know the full powers of these rings, mine and yours
Frodo: ...but mine has...*swallows hard knowing Ceolwulf will not like this* some control over your...wills.
Frodo: Or it did, when it was stronger.
Ceolwulf: Frodo, this is a dire thing, this Ring that you have
Frodo: Sam gave it to me the day he forgot everything from the hand of the Dark Lord
Ceolwulf: And where do these Rings we have, where do they come from?
Frodo: *Frodo frowns, becoming confused...he mumbles, but his words are cut off by some unknown force*
Frodo: *Then his eyes glaze over and he says in a low monotone* I got them from the marketplace.
Narrator: *Vartang walks down the hall, his two bodyguards behind him. He reaches Frodo's door and bids the guards open it for him*
Vartang: *Vartang walks through the door, takes a comfortable seat, his two bodyguards standing side by side*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf barely nods to him in a bow*
Vartang: Shakh.... marvelous morning, is it not?
Vartang: I trust you slept well... *he says as he puts one leg over the chair arm and rests it there*
Vartang: *He looks around the room* Where is the wine cabinet?
Vartang: Quiet this morning, are you Shakh? Lads! See if you can find the wine and if you do pour me a goblet
Vartang: The slave man looks sick. I think he drank too much ale last night *he laughs and his orc bodyguards laugh with him*
Frodo: *Frodo blinks and looks around confusedly, then groans when he notices Vartang*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Vartang, pure hatred filling his eyes*
Narrator: *The orcs find the wine cabinet, take out a bottle, pour Vartang a goblet of wine, bring it to him. Vartang takes it and sits there slowly swirling the wine around in the goblet, then brings it to his nose and smells it*
Frodo: *moves closer to Ceolwulf's chair, angry at Vartang and wary of him, but grateful that at least Ceolwulf cannot run away while he is there*
Frodo: Indeed he is not well.
Frodo: But he drank no ale last night.
Frodo: *narrows his eyes at Vartang*
Vartang: *He takes a drink from the goblet* Yes, I understand he was quite ill on the trip. *he grins and laughs*
Vartang: But his kind are lesser men, weak
Vartang: *He takes another drink of his goblet*
Frodo: *hisses* You will never even comprehend the nobility of his kind
Frodo: *agitation makes him lose his guard over his speech*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf sits in his chair, his hands clenching and unclenching, visibly angered by what Vartang says but is determined to hold his peace to avoid trouble*
Vartang: Shakh, I have good news for you this morning
Frodo: *looks sadly at him riding his horse with the Rohirrim, proud and free....maybe he should let him go? But he probably would not even make it*
Frodo: *looks to Vartang with dread*
Vartang: *He looks at Frodo, his brown eyes savoring some secret jest* Your lodgings have been readied, Shakh
Frodo: *wary at Vartang's obvious pleasure* Where are we to lodge?
Vartang: You and your slaves will be moved to a residence on the third level of the city
Frodo: *A little of the weight is lifted from least they will not be staying in the King's House*
Vartang: This will be your lodgings as long as you remain in the city
Frodo: Very well...*wonders what the trouble in store for them will be*
Vartang: It has a pleasant view Shakh. It should be restful for you, quiet
Vartang: The King wants your sojourn here to be a good one
Frodo: *swallows* A view of what?
Vartang: *he takes another drink of his goblet* Why, shakh, on the level above you are the Hallows
Vartang: Quite a peaceful place you know... *he smiles, his perfect white teeth gleaming*
Frodo: The Hallows? Is that where the tombs are?
Vartang: Aye, Shakh, it was once an honored place among the people of Gondor
Vartang: The Houses of the Dead *he says and laughs*
Frodo: And....and I suppose your people have....completely desecrated it....
Vartang: Perhaps you would care to see them? *he takes another drink*
Vartang: Nay, Shakh *he looks at him, feigning an innocent look* Desecrate? Would we ever desecrate? Nay!
Vartang: Preserve, is the word
Frodo: *glares, thinking of the statue of the king at the crossroads*
Vartang: My people have been known for thousands of years to honor the cultures of the people whom we have conquered
Frodo: *scoffs*
Vartang: Always a benevolent people, the King and I as his humble servant, will mantain that tradition
Frodo: *spits the words out, dripping sarcasm* He certainly honored me when I was first captured
Vartang: *He finishes his goblet and passes it to an orc to be refilled. The orc goes back to the cabinet and refills it for him, then comes back, bows and gives it to him*
Vartang: A toast, Shakh *he says* to the Dead and to the traditions of this city
Vartang: The bodies of the Kings will be.... suitably honored
Frodo: *draws in a sharp breath*
Vartang: And, perhaps... *he says as he savors the aroma of his second goblet of wine* the bones might stir once again
Frodo: What are you saying?!
Vartang: *He takes a drink from the goblet and a small droplet runs down the side of his mouth and he takes the back of his other hand and wipes it off*
Vartang: Good wine, shakh *he says and nods* Have you tried it yet?
Frodo: No. What is your answer? What are you doing to the bodies of the Kings?!
Vartang: It is not us, Shakh.... Would you like one of my lads to pour you a goblet of wine?
Frodo: No, no thank you *waves his hand..he wants to go back to his talk with Ceolwulf and dissuade him from his mad plan*
Vartang: *He nods to one of the orcs who goes over to the cabinet, fetches a goblet, pours it full and goes to Frodo and hands it to him*
Vartang: *The orc stands there, waiting for him to take it*
Frodo: *takes it with a curt nod to the orc*
Vartang: Drink it, Shakh. It is from the vineyards of Dorwinion near the lake of Rhun, finest vinyards in all of Middle Earth
Frodo: *pauses with the goblet half raised*
Frodo: What is in it?
Vartang: *the orc bows to Frodo, then returns to his position beside Vartang's chair*
Vartang: Wine, Shakh, wine
Frodo: Is there a spell on it?
Vartang: Shakh, surely you know I am no sorcerer
Frodo: You would not tell me to drink it if there were not some purpose behind it...
Vartang: Did I not drink from the same bottle?
Frodo: *glances to the bottle, then back to Vartang* Yes...
Vartang: That should be proof to you that there is no potion in it
Frodo: *hesitates, glances to Ceolwulf, then takes a sip*
Vartang: Do I look like I am bewitched? *he says and rolls his lips back from his perfect white teeth in a smile*
Frodo: No
Vartang: There is no potion, Shakh. My word guarentees that
Frodo: *Your word? Frodo scoffs inwardly*
Vartang: I can understand your curiosity about the Hallows. Perhaps you would care to see them some night.... *a malicious smile comes over his face*
Frodo: I suppose we will have to see them soon, when we move there
Vartang: I am sure that.... they.... would be happy to see you
Frodo: *pales*
Vartang: Nay, Shakh, the only entrance to the Hallows is from the 6th level
Vartang: I am sorry, Shakh... *he says and takes another drink* I cannot stay with you but my brother has urgent business for me this afternoon
Frodo: Very well
Vartang: He wants me to meet one of his new slaves, a lovely beauty, part Elvish I understand, from among the Northmen's tribe, from near Mirkwood
Frodo: *closes his eyes just in time to hide the fact that he is rolling them*
Vartang: They say she is a redhead, a rarity among elves, and that her eyes are as blue as sapphires and that her hair is silken
Frodo: Very well, I was not finished talking with Ceolwulf either.
Vartang: *he closes his eyes* Ah.... yes... urgent business, Shakh. We must tend to matters of state
Frodo: We will.
Vartang: You and your slaves will be taken there this afternoon, so be prepared
Frodo: *his heart jolts, then races....Ceolwulf might use the opportunity to run away*
Frodo: *breaks out in a cold sweat*
Vartang: This is one of the last remaining houses that will be......... occupied... by those who are still.......
Vartang: Still like us, Shakh *he gives him a meaningful glance and finishes his wine*
Vartang: *He stands up. His orcs stand up with him* Good afternoon, Shakh. May your new lodgings prove most....... restful....
Frodo: *breathless with horror* Gondor has become a city of the dead?
Vartang: It will be a city of the Enlightened, Shakh, those who are above time and the limitations of the physical
Frodo: *closes his eyes in despair and turns away from Vartang*
Vartang: Those who can see where our limited vision cannot, those who can hear the sounds that we cannot.. *his look becomes distant, as though lost in contemplation or anticipation*
Frodo: *stands shaking his head in disbelief, then chokes* Leave us!
Vartang: *He closes his eyes briefly, then waits until the orcs open the door for him and then goes out with them*
Ceolwulf: Sometimes, Frodo, I beleive Vardamir is right. They are all mad here
Frodo: *chuckles bitterly*
Frodo: It would seem that way
Frodo: *stands in front of Ceolwulf looking at him half worriedly, half hopefully*
Ceolwulf: So you are to have a house once again, but this time in the city?
Frodo: He was very vague, but it seems that is so
Ceolwulf: Have you seen any of those left remaining to us today?
Frodo: ....No......not today....
Frodo: But they were there on the way here
Ceolwulf: Then, Frodo, that means they are keeping us all under guard. Let us hope that they become more lax
Frodo: *Let us hope that they don't so you do not run away*
Ceolwulf: I would say they do not wish us to be loose, to wander through the new king's house
Frodo: *nods*
Frodo: *After a pause* Perhaps they have a plan we do not see
Frodo: Perhaps they will bring the girls back someday, and if you have gone, you will not be here to see them
Ceolwulf: *at the mention of the word "girls" Ceolwulf starts*
Frodo: If you are dead....*swallows hard* you will not marry her, ever
Frodo: If you run and are caught it will be much worse than the whipping
Ceolwulf: *he looks to Frodo* Then you know..
Frodo: *smiles sadly*
Ceolwulf: I had hoped... that if things had been different.... that I could.... *he begins to turn red*
Ceolwulf: *he stammers* Ask your permission as their..... guardian..... to pay court to Elfhild....
Frodo: *softly* I would have given it with all my heart
Frodo: Perhaps there will be a chance....someday....
Frodo: *sighs*
Ceolwulf: *He sighs* Perhaps... *he says wistfully*
Ceolwulf: Someday....
Frodo: Then you will not run away?
Ceolwulf: *he hesitates and looks down at the floor* I cannot answer that question but you know my answer already
Ceolwulf: How can I answer, when my heart tells me one thing and my mind tells me another? When everything that is in me tells me to go, to at least try
Frodo: Tell your heart what your mind knows
Frodo: ...that there is no way you can possibly rescue them from Minas Morgul
Ceolwulf: *he looks back at Frodo* I am afraid... *he pauses* that I am in love with Elfhild and I cannot help it, and if I could, I would not!
Ceolwulf: But my mind knows tis a foolish quest, a venture into death
Ceolwulf: I know I cannot rescue them. No army that now exists upon the face of this earth can take that dread city
Frodo: Then do not throw away your life and any chance of ever seeing her again!
Ceolwulf: But what am I to do? Leave her there to die? To suffer unbearable indignities at the hands of merciless fiends without at least trying to save her?
Ceolwulf: For *he says, his voice hesitating* I would rather be dead than be without her!
Frodo: *His hands rest on Ceolwulf's shoulder and tighten anxiously*
Ceolwulf: Frodo *he says, his voice becoming wistful* have you never been in love? Tis a wonderous thing, but a torture too
Ceolwulf: Wonderous when you are with her, but torture when you are not!
Frodo: *Frodo thinks for a while* No, not like that, I do not think I have been in love
Ceolwulf: *he looks at Frodo* I do not know whether you are to be accounted among the lucky or the unlucky
Frodo: *his full eyes overflow a little* Sam was in love, though...
Frodo: There is a lass in the Shire with all her hopes bent on Sam's return
Frodo: ....but he is not coming back
Frodo: Would you do that to Elfhild?
Frodo: If she comes back and you are dead, what then?
Ceolwulf: *he ponders, and rubs his hand over the stubble on his face*
Ceolwulf: Dead? *he bends over and puts his face in his hands* I am dead without her
Frodo: No, you are not!
Frodo: She is not the only person in the world! She is not the only one who holds you dear.
Ceolwulf: What if they never free her? What if they keep her, her sister and Arnasa, the wretched thrall?
Ceolwulf: How they must be afraid and with no hope!
Ceolwulf: For it is a hopeless city, a city of the dead!
Frodo: *Frodo looks down, trembling at the thought of the girls in such a situation...and it must be true*
Frodo: *How grievous for them all!*
Ceolwulf: *he holds his head in his hands, shaking his head back and forth* My poor Elfhild
Frodo: *squeezes Ceolwulf's hunched shoulder*
Ceolwulf: *He stifles a sob and sits up straight*
Frodo: It seems like you cannot go on....but you do, even when all is taken from you
Frodo: We have to
Ceolwulf: *Then his eyes are drawn across the room to a sheathed sword hanging on a hook on the wall*
Frodo: I learned that when my parents died
Frodo: We have to go on without our loved ones when they are taken from us
Ceolwulf: Frodo, look at that!
Ceolwulf: A sword! *he says and gets up* What can this be? *he walks over to the wall*
Frodo: What are you going to do, kill Vartang? It WILL be fifty lashes the next time, and you will die
Ceolwulf: *He takes the sheath and sword from the wall and pulls the sword out, holds it up and turns back to Frodo*
Frodo: *irritated* What are you DOING?
Ceolwulf: They have left it here for a purpose. The pitiless fiends have a purpose in everything!
Frodo: If you are even seen holding that you'll be beaten.
Ceolwulf: What should it be? To fall upon it? *he runs his fingers along the side of the blade, over the runes*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes widen and he pales* You can't be serious
Frodo: *holds out his hands* Give me that sword!
Ceolwulf: *He reads out loud* "He who wields this sword serves Mordor"
Frodo: *frowns, confused*
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo* What is the riddle here?
Ceolwulf: I do not believe, my friend, that this sword has been overlooked by them
Ceolwulf: It is some treachery
Frodo: Perhaps there is a spell on it that will take effect if you use it to bind you to Mordor...perhaps their eyes are not only on me
Ceolwulf: *He looks thoughtful* Perhaps you are right, perhaps I should put it back where it came from
Frodo: *nods*
Frodo: *sighs with relief*
Ceolwulf: But still... *he says and looks at it, touching his finger on the sharp edge of the sword* it is a fine sword
Frodo: If you use it at all it will be your death
Ceolwulf: *he holds it back up in the air and swings it* Good weight too and the finest of steel. Hear how it sings? It sings of death
Frodo: Ceolwulf! *cries in desperation and anger* Why do you have such a death wish!
Ceolwulf: Do you hear its song?
Ceolwulf: With this blade, I could slay many. It is as fine a one I have ever seen
Frodo: *strides up to Ceolwulf and grasps his arm* I know I do not look it anymore, but I am old, and you are the prop of my old age. You are all I have left
Frodo: What man does not care for his brother? Or should I say you are like a cherished firstborn son? The only hope of his father?
Frodo: I believe your death might kill me. Have you thought of that?
Ceolwulf: *He looks up at the sword as though spellbound* Its name shall be.... Awiergan!
Frodo: Give me that sword! Its spell is working on you already!
Frodo: *tries to wrest it from him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks down at Frodo, a fey, angry look upon his face*
Frodo: Would you wield this and serve Mordor, as it says?
Frodo: Ceolwulf, it's FRODO, why are you looking like that?!
Ceolwulf: Nay! *he says a voice a whisper* It would drink the blood of Mordor!
Frodo: And yours too!
Ceolwulf: *His eyes go blank for a moment and he shakes his head* Aye... *he says slowly* a good sword...
Ceolwulf: Frodo... let me go to her!
Ceolwulf: Let me try *he still looks down at Frodo and then looks back up at the sword*
Frodo: You know better! You cannot slay an army even with a good sword! And you cannot slay the undead with any sword! You cannot stand against a lesser wraith, let alone the Nine, with that sword!
Ceolwulf: But, perhaps, perhaps, it has a bewitchment of its own.....
Frodo: It came from THEM. It works for THEIR purposes, not yours.
Ceolwulf: Awiergan, the cursed!
Ceolwulf: *he looks away from the sword again, torn with conflicting emotions, uncertainties*
Ceolwulf: *Then his shoulders sag. He puts the sword back in the sheath and hangs it once again upon the wall*
Frodo: *sighs with relief, trembling, rubs his hands over his face*
Ceolwulf: I will stay, Frodo..... as long as I can... but if she does not return within a week, I do not know!
Ceolwulf: I will stay one week, and then I will go
Frodo: You shall not go!
Frodo: You shall not go to your death
Frodo: What would be the purpose?
Frodo: It would do nothing!
Ceolwulf: To die perhaps with honor as I should have at Pelennor!
Ceolwulf: And then I can go to the Halls of my Fathers, cleansed of the cowardice!
Frodo: Are you not yet satisfied? Have you not punished yourself enough?
Ceolwulf: And no longer the name of "coward" be upon my head!
Frodo: You are like a cruel master to yourself
Frodo: Beatings, threats, blows, whippings, is that what you want?
Frodo: Do you want to make us all watch you endure more of that?
Ceolwulf: I want to regain the honor that my family has always had, that I have lost, and stained the name!
Ceolwulf: It is better to die with honor than to live as a coward!
Frodo: You give that name to yourself, no one else does, and you can take it away from yourself
Frodo: Is it not a kind of cowardice to run to your death instead of enduring the adversity upon us?
Ceolwulf: One week, Frodo, and if she is not back.....
Ceolwulf: Then I will die in the attempt to find her!
Ceolwulf: *The fey light still burns in his eyes*
Frodo: *grabs his arm, looking at him intensely*
Frodo: *tries desperately to think of a way to dissuade him...but what else can he say, that he has not already said?*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, could you ask me to remain here and not even try?
Frodo: Yes...I hate to cause you this pain, but I could ask you that because I know it would do no good to try
Frodo: *his head droops and rests against Ceolwulf's arm...he stifles a sob*
Frodo: *If my ring has the power to change his will, to stop will!*
Ceolwulf: I will take their accursed sword with me when I go, for a sword does not know the hand of its master
Ceolwulf: It will serve me as well as it would another
Ceolwulf: I feel in my heart that this sword is meant to be mine, for what purpose I do not know. My death perhaps, but let it be!

Return to Third Age - The Aftermath

Return to Index