EARLY BIRTHDAY PRESENTS
Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Elfhild portrayed by Eowyn
Lilandra portrayed by FreeFall
Narrator, Vartang, Vardamir, Aldir and Ceolwulf portrayed by Wraith
Narrator: *September 15, 3019....
The follage on the trees are beginning to turn to shades of russet,
orange and yellow on this autumn day.*
Narrator: *Breakfast at Baggins' Hall has just been finished, and Frodo sits drinking a cup of tea, and Ceolwulf drinks a goblet of wine, an old habit from Rohan which he has taken up again.*
Frodo: *jokes* Wine in the morning, Ceolwulf? Make sure you don't end up like Vartang!
Ceolwulf: *laughs* Master Frodo, I doubt that will happen. The thing of it is, that I simply do not like tea at any time
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo *Ceolwulf looks at Frodo* Do you know that actually you have spent most of your time here without ever having looked over your vast holdings?
Ceolwulf: You have scarcely even ventured into the garden. What say you that I have a horse harnessed to your cart, and we drive about and look at some of your farm land? The sights of your land might make you feel better
Frodo: Well, Ceolwulf, you know it is not really mine...*shifts in his chair* and all this wealth reminds me of my failed mission. *looks out into the garden thoughtfully*
Frodo: But...it is a beautiful day.
Frodo: Perhaps that would help to raise our spirits
Frodo: *I may as well see it before leaving it, he thinks*
Ceolwulf: Let us at least give it a try, Master Frodo
Ceolwulf: *With that, he bows and leaves the room, goes to the stables and tells an attendant there to harness the horse to the cart and bring it around to the front courtyard of the hall.*
Ceolwulf: *A short while later, he is back with Frodo on the walkway* Master Frodo, the cart will be ready in a few minutes and he excorts Frodo out to wait for him until the cart is brought round.*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf helps Frodo into the cart, takes the reins from the attendant, then gets in the cart himself.*
Narrator: *A half-hour's drive takes them to a broad expanse of farmland, where they can see vistas of pastures, fields, livestock, vineyards, or orchards, and in the background, the Mountains of Shadow*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf wraps the reins around the brake handle on the cart, gets out, helps Frodo down, and says* I have no idea how many hectares (2.5 acres) that lie within the bounds of your property, but I understand they are vast.
Frodo: How can this be Mordor! It is such beautiful country, I almost think I'm in the Shire again
Ceolwulf: The soil is excellent here, much of it volcanic
Ceolwulf: Crops can grow in such soil
Frodo: *His smile is sad. Over the past few days he has grown progressively quieter and more pensive*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf senses that Frodo feels weary this morning*
Ceolwulf: Here, Master Frodo, let me carry you
Ceolwulf: *He goes around behind him, picks Frodo up under the armpits, hoists him high in the air over his head, and lets the hobbit's legs hang around his neck*
Ceolwulf: Now hold onto my neck, Master Frodo, and we shall walk over to yonder fence and look upon some of your land
Frodo: *gives a startled laugh when Ceolwulf puts him on his shoulders*
Narrator: *After they have reached the broad fence of stones laid together and fastened with mortar, Ceolwulf takes Frodo from his shoulders and puts him on the ledge, so that Frodo will have a good vantage point.*
Ceolwulf: *He leans against the ledge and looks with Frodo.* Look over there, Master Frodo *he points with his hand* See the sheep field? And right beside it, seperated by another fence, the horse pasture?
Ceolwulf: And far in the distance, the kine, tended by herders, and beyond that, your orchards and vineyards? Is it not fine land?
Frodo: *softly* Very fine land! *except for the horses, it is so like the Shire that Frodo's eyes begin to sting*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks far into the distance* You know, if this were not Mordor, I could be happy here the rest of my life
Frodo: Thank you for showing me all this. I am glad to have seen it *before being dragged to the depths of Lugburz, he thinks*
Ceolwulf: There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of hectares in your estate, some for the use of your own keep, but by far, the mast majority, I understand, to feed the armies of Mordor.
Ceolwulf: Is this not strange?
Frodo: Not only strange but disturbing that such beauty could feed such evil
Frodo: If you ever see the Shire, it is like this, only as you would wish it
Ceolwulf: The beef and the mutton are dried and given to the orcs and men in the army
Frodo: *shakes his head and mutters under his breath*
Ceolwulf: Truly this is beautiful, but there is evil unseen here
Frodo: *angrily* There evil seen and unseen everywhere here
Ceolwulf: And much evil you cannot see, nor can you hear the screams of your own slaves as they are lashed by their taskmasters
Ceolwulf: I have seen the fieldworkers and I have heard them cry out in pain
Ceolwulf: Their lot is the hardest of all
Frodo: But as Sam would say, the Sun still shines. He would see this as a sign of hope...*falls deadly silent as Ceolwulf describes the slaves' torment*
Ceolwulf: Aye, the sun shines upon the faithful and the wicked both alike
Frodo: Why has no one told me of the slaves' treatment? Perhaps I could have made it easier, at least while I was here!
Ceolwulf: But truly the beauty seen here in these fields is beyond compare
Frodo: I should have guessed it on my own...but I suppose I was preocuppied
Ceolwulf: I did not learn of it Master Frodo, until just a day or so ago, when I went walking, and I saw and heard for myself
Ceolwulf: MIsery in the midst of peace.
Narrator: *Behind them, they can hear hoofbeats and they know that a rider is approaching*
Narrator: *The approaching rider reins in his horse and hails Frodo. It is one of Frodo's servants* Master, you are to go to the keep as soon as possible!
Frodo: *whips his head around with a gasp at the hoofbeats, an instinct still there from the Black Riders*
Frodo: What is the matter?
Narrator: *The servant says* Shakh Vartang awaits you there
Frodo: *groans* Oh no
Narrator: *The servant says* He says his business with you is most important
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf shakes his head* It looks like our peace and quiet have been cut short
Frodo: Well...*looks ruefully at Ceolwulf* I suppose we have no choice but to go.
Frodo: There is no real peace and quiet here anyway
Frodo: *feels very homesick*
Ceolwulf: *goes around behind Frodo, picks him up, holds him high in the air, slides him over his head and holds the Hobbit's feet* Hold on again
Frodo: *smiles* I will
Frodo: *his small arms wrap around the top of Ceolwulf's head*
Ceolwulf: *He carries him back to the pony cart, puts him on the seat, unfastens the horse's reins from the brake and gets in with him. He clicks to the horse and sets off back to the keep*
Ceolwulf: *Upon arrival, Ceolwulf reins in the horse, ties the reins around the brake, gets out, helps Frodo down and escorts him back to the walkway. He pulls out a chair for Frodo and helps him get seated*
Narrator: *Frodo and Ceolwulf are puzzled about what the "important business" can be, for Shakh Vartang is no place to be seen on the walkway*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, what do you make of all the fuss?
Frodo: Ah, how can we know? One of Vartang's plots, undoubtedly.
Ceolwulf: We shall see
Narrator: *Down the corridor, they can hear footsteps of what sounds like many people*
Frodo: *Please, do not let them take me early...not yet! Please! Frodo prays silently*
Narrator: *The doorway to the walkway is open and in walks Vartang*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf stands behind Frodo's seat as usual. When Vartang comes in, he turns and bows*
Frodo: *looks to Vartang nervously*
Vartang: *Vartang walks across the walkway, sits on the bannister* Hail, shakh!
Vartang: I understand you were roaming about your grounds today. Did you enjoy yourself?
Frodo: Aye *he is sure Vartang will produce some sinister twist to their enjoyment of the trip*
Vartang: You have vast holdings granted to you as a reward for your services to Mordor
Frodo: *narrows his eyes*
Vartang: *he says sarcastically* I am sure you appreciate it
Frodo: *glares defiantly at Vartang, unblinking, but says nothing*
Vartang: The Great Eye is thankful for all you have done in His servicea. It is only fitting that rewards be heaped upon you, rewards without number
Vartang: I understand your birthday is a week from today, is it not?
Frodo: *his fists clench and his glare becomes darker, but he tries not to give Vartang the satisfaction of seeing him upset*
Vartang: *he looks around for the servants, sees one Elfhild waiting to the side* Wine, maiden, wine. I have traveled far and I am thirsty
Frodo: Yes, it is in a week.
Frodo: *smiles to himself thinking of the celebration he and the servants have planned*
Elfhild: *elfhild leaves her place in the shadows beneath the walkway, goes to the wine cabinet and fills a goblet of wine... then returns and presents it to vartang*
Elfhild: *she bows to vartang then turns to frodo* my lord, do you wish any wine?
Vartang: *Vartang takes the goblet from Elfhild, nods at her and begins drinking*
Elfhild: *she goes back to the cabinet, pours frodo a goblet of wine, comes back and puts it on the table before him, then bows and steps a few feet away*
Vartang: For this joyous occasion of your birthday, to honor you, Shakh, I have a surprise for you
Frodo: Thank you Elfhild *smiles at her*
Elfhild: *she smiles sweetly at frodo*
Frodo: *looks to Vartang, raising his eyebrows and trying not to show his fear*
Frodo: *wonders if he will even be here for his birthday*
Vartang: Ah, pleasant days lie ahead for you, Shakh. You will be greatly pleased at the surprise
Frodo: *cannot hide a scoff*
Vartang: *He takes another drink, then says* Bring them in!
Frodo: *His eyes widen with dread*
Vartang: *They can hear in the corridor leading to the walkway the shuffling of feet, and soon six orcs usher in three people, two men and a woman*
Frodo: *frowns, confused*
Vartang: Behold your gift! *takes another drink and laughs*
Vartang: An early surprise for you, Shakh, for your birthday!
Frodo: *Not more slaves! He sits back heavily in his chair. His eyes protest to Vartang, then look over the men and woman apologetically*
Frodo: Who are these people?
Narrator: *The orcs, armed with spears, prod in the people. One, a young man in his early 20's. The other two are a man and a woman, the man in his late 20's and the woman about 25 or 26. All three have dark hair and gray eyes, showing they are of Numenorean descent*
Vartang: Three new slaves, Shakh. I just bought them this morning
Vartang: I paid for them with the money from my own pocket and I present them to you as an early birthday gift for your 51st birthday
Narrator: *Soon the orcs have them herded into the walkway. The hands of all three are bound behind their backs. They are taken in front of the table so Frodo can see them*
Frodo: *addresses the men and woman* Respects to you, sirs and madam...I am sorry for your treatment; I did not order it...*glares at the orcs and Vartang* You are from Gondor, by your hair and eyes?
Narrator: *The orcs guard them and what seems to be the leader says to Vartang* They give much trouble, Great One
Narrator:: *The leader says* You must keep them guarded. Should we take slaves to dungeon, let them think about things for a few days?
Vartang: *Vartang says* Yes, take them down below
Frodo: Vartang, no!
Vartang: Shakh, did you not hear what he said? They need to be put in the dungeon for a few days until their heads cool down
Vartang: *Vartang gets up and walks to the side*
Frodo: You said much the same thing about Ceolwulf, Elfhild and Elffled and they have been wonderful without any of your harsh treatment!
Narrator: *The two men glare at all, the woman looks confused and frightened*
Frodo: Well, Elfhild has endured some of your cruelty but she has come through admirably.
Vartang: You cannot let them just go, Shakh. They will either try to escape or kill you
Frodo: *Then let them escape, Frodo thinks*
Narrator: *The young man glares at Frodo*
Frodo: *Frodo tries to meet his gaze with understanding, respect and dignity*
Narrator: *The orcs prod him a little closer so Frodo can see him*
Vartang: Shakh, this arrogant cur would make a good field hand, as would the other. They are both young. The woman possibly would, too
Vartang: *He speaks of the young man* This one is called by the name of Vardamir. You should have him whipped, then taken to the dungeon
Vartang: He fought the orcs all the way from Minas Artano to here
Frodo: *does not dignify that with a response*
Frodo: Hail, Vardamir
Vardamir: Hail, slavemaster *he says mockingly*
Frodo: I am not a slavemaster. That is your slavemaster *nods to Vartang* and I am his prisoner.
Vardamir: I would say you both are slavemasters!
Vardamir: You do not look to be a prisoner. You look to be a dwarf who has obtained great wealth and wants more slaves
Vartang: Silence, man, or you will no longer have a tongue in your mouth!
Vartang: Show respect to your master!
Frodo: *to Vardamir* If you spend much time here, you will see that almost nothing is as it seems
Frodo: Stop, Vartang, stop this!
Vartang: Take him down below and whip him, for insolence!
Frodo: They are from Gondor *he says almost with reverence*
Vartang: They are dogs, Shakh, rebels against Mordor
Frodo: The people of Gondor have the noble blood of Numenor, and honorable character
Vartang: *He turns to the orcs* Take him away as I said but leave the other two
Narrator: *The orcs begin to drag Vardamir away*
Frodo: Do not harm him!
Frodo: Do not harm any of them!
Vartang: *again with his patient tone as though to a child* Shakh, they are barbarians! Savages!
Frodo: Vartang, you cunning snake! A "gift" indeed *sarcastically*
Vartang: They would sooner cut your throat than look at you. *The two slaves glare at Vartang*
Narrator: *Two orcs take Vardamir away, kicking him and cursing him*
Frodo: I did not want anymore slaves. I did not want ANY slaves. I never wanted to be here at all *he says so the slaves can hear*
Vartang: Shakh, he needs to be disciplined. They will do that
Vartang: Do not worry about it
Frodo: *runs after the orcs and Vardamir*
Frodo: *scuffles with the orcs trying to pull them away from Vardamir*
Ceolwulf: *Alarmed at Frodo's actions, Ceolwulf runs after Frodo*
Narrator: *The other four orcs guard the other man and the woman*
Vartang: *Vartang moves to the bannister, sits there and laughs and says* Maid, more wine
Narrator: *The orcs look at Frodo in dismay. They are not allowed to touch him or harm him in any way*
Frodo: *Much yelling and even a few curses in black speech Frodo picked up at Lugburz are heard from the corridor where Frodo and the orcs are*
Frodo: *Soon Frodo, Ceolwulf and a confused and angry Vardamir return*
Elfhild: *elfhild, who had been watching the scene unfold along the edges of the walkway, steps forward, goes to the cabinet and brings a bottle of wine. she refills vartangs goblet and sets the bottle on the table*
Vartang: *Vartang takes the glass from her, sits on the bannister and smiles his usual smug smile*
Frodo: And stay out! *Frodo shouts back at the orcs, then returns to the others*
Vartang: Shakh, you have made a spectacle of yourself again
Vartang: Then what would you have done with these arrogant slaves?
Elfhild: *elfhild retreats to the other side of the table, closer to the wall*
Vardamir: *Vardamir thinks to himself... They are all mad in Mordor*
Frodo: I would have them shown to their rooms...and let Ceolwulf, Elfhild, Elffled and Rian speak to them. I would speak to them too if they would hear me, but in the position you have put me in...
Vardamir: *They bring me here as a slave, then the one who brought me here orders me whipped and put in the dungeon, and the other one, the short one, retrieves me from the orcs. Truly, they are mad*
Frodo: ...there is little chance they will believe that I am not what I look like
Vartang: *Vartang, sitting on the bannister, yawns, an air of total boredom about him*
Vartang: *He calls to the orcs* Free them!
Frodo: *breathes a sigh of relief*
Narrator: *The orcs are quick to comply and untie the ropes from the three slaves' hands*
Vartang: Stay, lads, with your weapons at the ready in case they cause trouble
Narrator: *All three of the slaves rub their wrists where the ropes had cut deeply*
Frodo: *notices the cuts on their wrists and feels a sharp pang*
Aldir: *The older one stands beside the woman says* Small one, I will introduce myself and my wife
Lilandra: *her wrists and hands on pain from where the binds were and shivers and looks around with upset and nervous eyes..her breathing is rapid... her bottom lip trembles and as soon as she is able to she rushes to Aldir's side*
Aldir: I am Aldir and this is my wife, Lilandra
Frodo: *whispers to Elfhild* Can you go find Sador and see if he has anything for their wrists?
Frodo: *looks sympathetically at both of them, especially the woman*
Frodo: Hail, Aldir and Lilandra
Elfhild: *elfhild nods to frodo* yes, my lord, i shall fetch something. *she scurries off to find sador*
Frodo: I am Frodo Baggins of the Shire.
Vartang: Shakh, it appears that you do not need me, so the lads and I will attend to more important business. Tame your slaves yourself!
Lilandra: *she does not know what to make of any of them..only trusting her husband and Vardamir...only gives small nod to the little one*
Vartang: *he sets down his empty glass on the bannister, gets up, walks out and motions for the orcs to follow him and they go through the walkway door and down the corridor*
Frodo: *ignores Vartang, continues to Aldir and Lilandra* I am sorry for your misfortune...and sorry for the fate of your noble city
Aldir: *He looks at Frodo* I can see you are a lord of some importance.
Lilandra: *she presses her lips tightly together...stunned at thair fate*
Aldir: The city fell in March
Frodo: *shakes his head* No, though Vartang has made it appear that way. The power truly lies with him.
Frodo: *lowers his head in respect at the mention of the fall of Gondor*
Elfhild: *soon, elfhild returns with a jar of translusent salve with a greenish tint and a vegetative scent... she enters the walkway and approaches the three new slaves*
Frodo: Ah, thank you Elfhild
Frodo: She has brought salve for your wrists.
Lilandra: *looks to the woman who appraches with sad eyes and she looks her over*
Elfhild: *she approaches the woman first, smiling at her reassuringly. she takes the lid off the jar offering it to her and says* this will make your cuts feel better
Elfhild: *elfhild is twenty, with golden hair and blue eyes, a dash of freckles across her nose. she wears a pink dress and a yellowish apron*
Lilandra: *nods and takes the salve on her fingertips and rubs the ointment on her wounds*
Frodo: Aldir, Lilandra and Vardamir, this is Elfhild of Rohan. Her sister Elffled is here as well
Lilandra: *lightly* thank you
Elfhild: *when the woman is through with the salve, elfhild hands it to aldir, then to vardamir*
Aldir: *He takes the jar* Thank you, maid *and applies it to his wrists. When he is finished, he hands it back to her*
Vardamir: *Vardamir eyes her suspiciously* What is this? Some potion of evil?
Vardamir: I want none of it! It will probably make my hands fall off
Lilandra: *she watches the woman as her mind rolls the thoughts and sadness of the people of proud lands now reduced to this low status of slave in a forsaken place*
Elfhild: *her eyes widen and she looks a bit taken aback* sir, it is just an ointment, it will do you no harm and will ease the pain of your cuts
Frodo: It will not hurt you, Vardamir. It is really medicine.
Vardamir: *He looks at Frodo* I care not what you say. I am a prisoner in this hateful land and I will take nothing, nothing more than it takes to keep me alive. I will have none of your foul ointment!
Frodo: I wish you all no harm! I am from the West too, and I am not loyal to Mordor! During the War, I was captured, and now after a long imprisonment, they seek to make me a traitor.
Elfhild: *she nods at vardamir, understanding, and puts the lid back on the jar... then bowing to frodo, she goes to return the jar back to sador*
Frodo: As you wish then, Vardamir.
Aldir: *He looks at Varadmir, then looks at Frodo* I must appologize for my younger companion
Vardamir: I do not need another to make appologies for me, Aldir
Lilandra: *her reddish purple marked hand shakily reaches for Aldir's...wishing she had the same ability to be composed as the others for her mind was a horrible mess of emotion*
Aldir: Someone must make appologies for you, since you make none for your own. Go down to the fountain yonder and sit a while and calm yourself
Vardamir: *Vardamir turns and leaves the walkway and goes to the fountain, fuming to himself*
Elfhild: *elfhild soon returns to the walkway and waits by the side of the wall*
Frodo: *almost asks Elfhild to get Vardamir some wine, but then considers Vardamir would think it was poisoned*
Aldir: *Shakes his head as he watches his younger companion leave* He is a hot headed one
Frodo: It is understandable
Narrator: A good soldier, but a hothead
Frodo: *thinks of Boromir*
Aldir: He will cool off soon enough
Aldir: Now since we are your slaves, what would you have us do?
Lilandra: *she looks over the Master in front of her..feeling sick of the very thought of a Master and thinks he does not look threatening..but all here was a threat*
Aldir: I am a soldier, I have been one for years. My wife *he looks at her lovingly* can cook, sew
Aldir: *He fears that he must resign himself to his situation. He fears most of all that harm will come to his wife*
Lilandra: *bites her lip hard as she looks up to him...her husband..her noble brave husband*
Aldir: You must understand that it is difficult for free people to accept slavery
Frodo: I marvel at your composure, Aldir! I hate this situation as well. I cannot think of you as slaves either
Elfhild: *elfhild lurks in the shadows, agreeing with aldirs words silently, the old resentments coming back with renewed intensity*
Lilandra: *looks to Frodo with a small glimmer of hope that he is not cruel*
Aldir: So what will we do here in our position as... *he hesitates as he says the word* slaves?
Frodo: There is another lady from Gondor here. Her name is Rian. Perhaps she and Elfhild can help show you around later since you have been brought here...but right now after such a hard journey...
Lilandra: *squeezes his hand as she hears him speak*
Aldir: *He looks to her, sadness in his eyes*
Frodo: Why don't you go and rest for a while, and settle in as best you can *looks at them with great awkwardness, sadness and sympathy*
Aldir: Show us around? Do you mean show us to the slave quarters?
Lilandra: *her eyes well with tears and looks down*
Aldir: *He looks to Elfhild, wondering if she will be the one to escort them to wherever slaves are housed*
Elfhild: *she looks to frodo* my lord? where do you want me to take them?
Lilandra: *words seems to be lost to her...what would she say..opening her mouth might just expel a wailing sob*
Elfhild: upstairs, downstairs...?
Lilandra: *looks to Elfhild...perhaps in time i will be adjusted as she is.....seems forced to be*
Aldir: *He looks back and forth between Elfhild and Frodo, puzzled, trying to understand why this small man is treating them with kindness*
Frodo: Elfhild, are there any empty rooms down the hall where your room is?
Frodo: Perhaps they could stay there
Elfhild: yes, my lord, there are many. your hall can hold hundreds, as it did when lord lorthang visited.
Frodo: Good, then you can stay in one of those rooms *to the three Gondorians*
Frodo: There will be room for Vardamir to have a separate room
Elfhild: *she knows frodo has never looked over his complete estate, even all of his hall, preferring to stay in only a few rooms*
Frodo: Would you like to go see the rooms and choose which ones you want?
Aldir: Choose? Slaves choose here? Is this Mordor or a figment of our imagination?
Aldir: Whatever it is, we will accept it. Thank you for your courtesy
Frodo: This is Mordor, but we try to rebel against Mordor as much as we can *smiles* You are very welcome
Lilandra: *she was confused at Frodo's behavior. nods with a small* thank you
Elfhild: *she looks to aldir and lilandra* i shall show you your room now, if you wish. *she looks towards the garden, where varadmir still waits*
Lilandra: *perhaps this was the deal given to her when she called out to the sky..."i will do anything to find him alive" as she searched for Aldir's body she thought would be dead on Gondor's ground*
Aldir: *He takes his wife by the arm* Come, Lilandra, let us follow her
Lilandra: *clutches his arm like a life line and walks*
Elfhild: *she smiles reassuringly at the two slaves, then walks slowly towards the doorway to the inside, waiting for them to follow*
Frodo: Elfhild, may Ceolwulf and I come too? I know it is mostly women in that area, but it would not be for long.
Elfhild: *she turns to frodo* yes, my lord, of course.
Aldir: *He still cannot understand what is going on in this strange place but he knows that all he can do is let no trouble come to his wife*
Lilandra: *she knows the evil treachery of Mordor and wonders how long this good treatment will last...she fears it will not be for long*
Aldir: *Aldir and Lilandra follow Elfhild*
Frodo: *Frodo and Ceolwulf follow behind them*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf walks side by side with Frodo, following Lilandra, Aldir and Elfhild*
Elfhild: *she takes them through a corridor, lit by torchlight, and then to a staircase. she begins to climb and is soon on the second floor*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf holds Frodo's hand as they begin to climb the stairs behind the others*
Lilandra: *possibly a brutal form of torment to let them think they will be treated with kindness then at the time of comfort (as much that can be felt as slave) would be ripped from their ideas*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, do you want me to pick you up and carry you around my shoulders as I did earlier? Can you hold on? You won't fall now, will you?
Frodo: Thank you *Frodo has started to wheeze a few stairs up*
Frodo: I would hold on...*but how embarassing!* but you can carry me whichever way you prefer
Elfhild: *the stairs lead to a great hall in the upstairs, with antechambers and corridors leading to many seperate rooms. light pours in through tall narrow windows*
Elfhild: *elfhild waits in the hall for frodo and ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, hold on tightly. I will not drop you. *He goes behind him, takes him under the armpits, hoists him high and puts him over his shoulders* Now do not look behind or you will get dizzy!
Lilandra: *but she was...though the situation was terrible..that she was with her husband...would make any of this bearable*
Frodo: All right *holds onto Ceolwulf's head again*
Aldir: *Aldir holds his wife's arm as they walk up the stairs together and come to the hall*
Frodo: *hopes the Gondorians will not turn around until ceolwulf puts him down*
Aldir: *When they get to the top of the landing, they look around*
Lilandra: *her eyes scan her surroundings*
Aldir: *he whispers to his wife* They are strange here, very strange
Lilandra: yes my love...very much indeed. this unbalance frightens me
Elfhild: *the walls have been plastered white and painted midway from the floor with bright designs... tapestries of battles of mordor adorn the walls*
Frodo: *overhears Lilandra's words* The imbalance is because Vartang is truly of Mordor and I am not. I will try to make things easier for you, but Vartang is cruel. Avoid him if you can
Elfhild: *torches in their holders provide light where the narrow windows cannot. the floor is made of polished marble*
Frodo: But we have been able to evade him so far, mostly *smiles to Elfhild*
Aldir: *Aldir and Lilandra follow, looking around at the tapestries as they go*
Frodo: *They will see him on Ceolwulf's shoulders now, but oh well.*
Lilandra: *Fodo's voice is heard as she looks at the tapestries*
Aldir: *he listens to Frodo's words* Thank you for telling us this
Frodo: You are welcome. It is good to keep in mind. He is not to be trusted
Lilandra: *clings to his arm tighter at the warning of Vartang*
Elfhild: *elfhild goes down a corridor and stops at a door... the door opening to a suite of rooms. she says to frodo, lilandra and aldir* this is where lord lorthang stayed recently, so it is clean and prepared
Lilandra: *wonders what would be if she can not avoid him..she prays she will not bo torn away from her husband*
Elfhild: *she opens the door and motions for them to follow*
Lilandra: *tilts head a bit confused to Elfhild*
Elfhild: *sees her confused look* lord lorthang is the lord of the southern province of nurn.
Lilandra: Aldir and I do not have to be parted?
Elfhild: *realises what she meant by her confused expression* oh! nay, you do not.
Lilandra: *turns to Frodo* Lord...
Lilandra: i pray you do not torment us with trickery
Aldir: *Aldir walks into the room with his wife*
Frodo: Mr. Frodo, my name is Frodo. No, of course you and your husband can stay together.
Frodo: Don't worry, lady, I do not deal in trickery!
Lilandra: *her eyes are sad and hopeful*
Aldir: *he releases his wife's arm so she can look around the rooms*
Aldir: Lilandra, it is far better than the slave quarters which I had feared
Lilandra: *she follows him inside and has a look*
Frodo: *thinks of the slaves Ceolwulf spoke of earlier and wonders how they are housed, and if he can do anything for them*
Lilandra: no Aldir...they seem very suitable
Elfhild: *she looks to lilandra and aldir* lord frodo is a kind master, and houses his servants in fair quarters, not pens as animals are kept
Frodo: *smiles gratefully to Elfhild*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf holds Frodo, thinking that that they will not be there long*
Lilandra: *to Elfhild*... have you been with him long?
Elfhild: four months, lady.
Lilandra: and he treats you kindly still?
Aldir: *He turns to Frodo* You are letting us stay here, in these rooms?
Frodo: *nods* Yes, will this room do, or do you wish to look down the hall?
Elfhild: *she nods* aye, he is very kind. *then in hushed voice* but avoid the one called vartang, for he is not.
Aldir: No, Frodo, this is fine. Thank you for your generosity. We will not forget it
Frodo: *smiles at Aldir*
Lilandra: *smiles for the first time to the lady*
Frodo: Thank you for your understanding in the most trying of situations
Elfhild: *she returns her smile and waits by the doorway for frodo and ceolwulf*
Aldir: But Frodo, when do we go to work in the fields, as the other lord said?
Lilandra: *moves closer to her husband and Frodo where they speak*
Frodo: I will not let him send you to the fields if I can help it
Aldir: We have never worked in fields before. We know little of agriculture and the ways of farming, but to repay your generosity, we will do it
Lilandra: *nods* yes Sir we will
Frodo: *his eyes widen in shock at their generosity*
Frodo: I don't know what to say! But I do not want you to have to work in the fields. Perhaps you can stay in the house and help to manage the estate, especially after I am g--*cuts himself off*
Aldir: We lived in Minas TIrith and owned our own house. I was a soldier of the Citadel. We both can read and write
Lilandra: *To Frodo*.. Lord..i mean Mr.Frodo... from warning given..
Lilandra: of the other man here...Vartang...i ask you bid me do any favor that keep us out of harm's way..
Lilandra: to avoid complication and to upset him
Frodo: I will try to protect you from him as best I can, as I have tried with Elfhild and the other ladies
Aldir: Lilandra, stay away from the man. He appears to be evil, very evil
Lilandra: *hopes she is not being duped by him...for even 4 months that Elfhild was there might not be time enough for a torture yet to be endured*
Lilandra: Mr. Frodo... with all due respect...
Lilandra: i am a slave and cannot have choices in matters of "staying away" from anyone here, for i would stay away from all and this whole place
Lilandra: *trembles again*
Frodo: I know. I am sorry
Aldir: Aye, Lilandra, we would both do that
Aldir: Mr. Frodo, since you wish to be called that, where is the best place where she could be to avoid his notice?
Elfhild: *elfhild clears her throat* he never comes to the kitchen...
Aldir: Mr. Frodo, perhaps she could sew. Where is that done?
Elfhild: in an annex to the castle, where crafts are done.
Lilandra: *nods to Elfhild* that sounds...suitable
Elfhild: *she elaborates* the right annex to the hall
Aldir: Thank you, Mr. Frodo
Lilandra: yes indeed thank you
Frodo: You are most welcome
Aldir: She is a good seamstress. She can weave wool, make tapestries
Lilandra: *so far he had shown good character*
Frodo: *smiles appreciatively at Lilandra at the mention of her skill*
Lilandra: *smiles up gratefully to Aldir who speaks while her tongue seems to fail her at this moment*
Narrator: *Frodo tells Lilandra and Aldir that they should rest and get used to their rooms before afternoon tea. He, Ceolwulf and Elfhild leave the room, Ceolwulf still carrying Frodo. They make their way down the steps and back to the walkway*
Ceolwulf: *Frodo, still seated on Ceolwulf's shoulders, is carried to the walkway, where Ceolwulf puts him down and helps him into his chair*
Elfhild: *elfhild follows, then stands near frodo's chair*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf goes and stands behind Frodo's chair*
Vardamir: *He sits on a bench, looking at the fountain, waiting until darkness, when he plans to escape. He would sooner die in an escape attempt than to live in this place*
Frodo: Ceolwulf, why do you stand back there when Vartang isn't here?
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I was told by Finduilas that it is appropriate for servants to stand behind their masters' chairs in attendance
Frodo: But remember, we have all changed the names of "master" and "servant" for "friend." Please come around and sit at the table
Frodo: Elfhild, please come and sit too...but could you call Vardamir in first? We should show him to the rooms soon
Ceolwulf: *He hesitates, then and goes and sits at the table near Frodo*
Elfhild: *elfhild nods to frodo and walks over to the bannister. she looks out into the garden, spotting varadmir still by the fountain. she calls out* vardamir! please come. lord frodo wishes a word with you
Vardamir: *He pretends not to hear her, and curses under his breath. He thinks to himself... Now they will try to capture me and take me to the dungeon*
Frodo: *looks to Ceolwulf, confused at his hesitation. Why does Ceolwulf feel awkward around him? Sam never felt that way.*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks to Frodo*
Elfhild: *elfhild calls again* vardamir! please come here!
Vardamir: *He turns away from her and looks to the distant mountains, wondering how far it is to the mountains then over them, then to Ilithien*
Elfhild: *becoming impatient, she goes to the gate of the walkway and marches towards vardamir*
Vardamir: *Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her coming and gets up, thinks to himself... if I can only delay them until darkness, I can be away!*
Elfhild: *she stands in front of vardamir* please, sir, lord frodo wishes to speak with you, to show you to your room.
Vardamir: *He looks at her* Room? *he says suspisiously* What kind of room?
Elfhild: your chamber, sir.
Vardamir: *Chamber, he thinks.... a chamber in a dungeon*
Vardamir: *He decides though to stall* I will come and talk to your........ master
Elfhild: *she motions for him to follow and heads towards the walkway*
Vardamir: *He follows her, contemptous of her willingness to be a slave*
Elfhild: *soon they are on the walkway... she approaches frodo's table and bows to him*
Vardamir: *He looks from side to side, searching for guards that might be hidden in the shadows*
Frodo: *thinks: and I must talk to Elfhild, too, about how she bows to me when Vartang is not here*
Vardamir: *He walks up beside Frodo's chair* What do you want of me, slavemaster? *he says defiantly*
Elfhild: *elfhild says coldly* lord frodo is not a slavemaster.
Vardamir: *Not seeing anyone lurking in the shadows, he relaxes, but moves to the bannister and stands by it*
Frodo: To show you upstairs, Vardamir, so that you can choose a room to stay in. Aldir and Lilandra have chosen their room; perhaps you can stay near them.
Elfhild: *elfhild stands in the space between and behind frodo and ceolwulfs chairs. she looks to vardamir*
Elfhild: *she bends down to frodo, whispering in his ear* my lord, the women and children sleep upstairs. twould be best if he were downstairs.
Vardamir: I do not need to stay inside! It has been months since I slept in a bed. I do not need a room. I prefer being outside *He thinks... if only he lets me stay outside...I will be gone as soon as darkness falls*
Frodo: Oh! *flushes* Elfhild is right. The women and children are upstairs, so you should stay downstairs.
Frodo: *raises his eyebrows when Vardamir asks to stay outside*
Vardamir: No matter, Lord Dwarf, I would prefer staying outside *sarcastically* if the Great Lord of Mordor will allow it
Frodo: I know you must think of escape, and I wish you could return to your homes. But there are guards and spies everywhere in Mordor, and you would be caught. Vartang would torture you and I do not want you to be hurt
Vardamir: *He is surprised that Frodo has seen through his ruse so quickly, decides the dwarf must have some degree of intelligence*
Vardamir: Then I suppose I will stay inside, but I prefer being outside. I have camped for months under the stars. But why your great concern?
Frodo: Because I am from the West and I hate Mordor as well. I do not see any of you as slaves, and I have particular respect for the men of Gondor after my acquaintance with the Captains Boromir and Faramir, sons of the Steward
Elfhild: lord frodo's words are wise and true, vardamir, and you would be too if you heeded them.
Frodo: *smiles to Elfhild again*
Vardamir: *He thinks, Boromir and Faramir! How can this dwarf know their names?* How could you, a Lord of Mordor, know Captains Boromir and Faramir?
Vardamir: I suppose you will tell me next that you shared a glass of wine with both of them
Frodo: I was in the Fellowship of the Ring, that was to journey into Mordor, with Captain Boromir
Vardamir: Boromir, what do you know of Boromir?
Frodo: He was...*awkward pause..he tried to kill me* a strong soldier and a man of noble character
Vardamir: *Wonders how much the madness will increase. He feels like laughing and surpresses the urge*
Frodo: I was proud to know him. I met Faramir after the Fellowship broke, later in my journey.
Frodo: And I admired him greatly as well
Vardamir: So it seems you have many friends in Gondor. How can that be?
Vardamir: And what is this Fellowship of which you speak?
Frodo: No, I have only met Captains Boromir and Faramir. I have not seen the White City
Vardamir: *He becomes convinced that the dwarf and everyone else in this place is totally mad*
Vardamir: Speak on, Dwarf
Frodo: It is a long story, Vardamir, and I doubt you would believe it. Perhaps later would be a better time to tell you
Elfhild: *looks to vardamir and says quietly* he is not a dwarf, sir. he is a hobbit or a halfling
Frodo: Let us go downstairs now and see the rooms
Frodo: *After Lorthang, Frodo is used to being called a dwarf*
Vardamir: *Definiantly he says* I will look at the room
Elfhild: *elfhild walks to the door leading inside and waits for frodo, ceolwulf and vardamir to follow*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gets out of his chair and assists Frodo in rising from the chair*
Frodo: Thank you
Elfhild: *she goes through the doorway and motions for them to follow her*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf carrying Frodo, goes along behind her, but Vardamir hesitates, lingering behind and looking at his surroundings, remembering all the corridors and the way back to the walkway so when darkness comes, he can find his way back. He decides it is better to go along with them and wait for his chance to escape*
Elfhild: *she leads them through the hall to a corridor on the side, leading to a large narrow room with doors on either side. torches light the plastered walls, which are decoratd much the same way as those upstairs*
Elfhild: *she comes to a door and pushes it open and waits for the others to catch up*
Vardamir: *He still hesitates behind them, wondering about the manner of the dwarf who lives in such a rich hall. He thinks to himself... Dwarves of old always had vast halls and many priceless jewels. This one is just like his ancestors*
Vardamir: *But I never knew before of dwarves allying themselves with Mordor*
Vardamir: So, Lord Dwarf, how did you come by these halls?
Elfhild: *she stands by the door waiting and sighs heavily* i told you he was not a dwarf. he is a hobbit, some call them halflings. in the language of the riddermark, he is called a holbytla
Vardamir: I have heard of such, but I think he looks more like a dwarf, though without a beard
Elfhild: *elfhilds eyes narrow slightly*
Frodo: The Fellowship I mentioned earlier was sent on a mission for the West into Mordor, but it failed. I was captured and imprisoned in the Dark Tower a long while, but then I was put here to make me look like a traitor to the West
Vardamir: *Decides to humor the dwarf* You have an interesting tale
Frodo: Lord Vartang is the real master here. The power lies with him and he is cruel
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf puts Frodo down*
Frodo: he will try to harm you
Vardamir: *He thinks... One cruel lord calls another cruel? Indeed, they are all mad*
Elfhild: aye, you should avoid angering lord vartang if you value your life.
Vardamir: All right, Halfling, I will remember your warning, but did you ever once in however long you have been here, think of telling them just no?
Vardamir: Why do you quake in fear? Rise up and kill your masters!
Frodo: I have been rebelling the entire time I have been here, but it is not that easy...
Elfhild: *elfhild bursts out into laughter, and leans up against the wall near the door*
Vardamir: Die in honor like men and not like boot licking dogs! *He is trying to test the sincerity of what Frodo says*
Frodo: There are far too many of them, and their power is great. I myself, obviously, cannot stand against anyone in a fight!
Frodo: being so small and ill as well.
Elfhild: *she puts a hand to her mouth, stifling her laughter* you would have more luck escaping the dark tower than you would this place.
Frodo: But if I could bring about their overthrow I would
Frodo: *bites his lip and digs a toe into the floor*
Vardamir: *He looks back and forth between them, pondering them*
Elfhild: do you know what happens to those who get near the borders? *she asks, her eyes a bit wild* they get beheaded.
Vardamir: How would I know what happens at the borders? I have never been in this accursed place before
Frodo: *to Elfhild and Ceolwulf* Tell him what happened those first times you tried to stand against Vartang, before I made you promise not to endanger yourselves again
Frodo: The time he called in his orcs
Elfhild: *she looks to frodo then to vardamir* i defied vartang many times, until i was locked in the dungeon. then later i witnessed him kill seventeen men.
Ceowlulf: I knocked Vartang to the ground shortly after I arrived here. His orcs beat and kicked me in the face and Vartang threatened me with death
Elfhild: *her eyes widen* ah! ceolwulf! i remember that. i joined in the fight, and got a black eye. but first i got the pleasure of holding vartang's own sword to his throat, ere the orcs came upon me again *she speaks enthusiastically*
Frodo: A host of men and orcs stand at his call. That is why we cannot stand against Vartang
Ceowlulf: Take my advice, Vardamir. Never defy Vartang
Vardamir: *Filled with the arrogance and impetuosity of youth, Vardamir looks scornfully at the other man*
Vardamir: Perhaps you are all thralls and are telling me this to persuade me to become as you are *he says defiantly*
Ceolwulf: No *he looks at him and smiles, then laughs* No, we are not thralls
Ceolwulf: But guard your tongue, Vardamir, my friend, because Frodo cannot save any of us from Vartang
Vardamir: All right, I will see the room
Frodo: Nor can I save you from being whipped if Vartang decides to insist on it...if...*trails off*
Vardamir: *He thinks to himself, thralls all of them. I will be all right if the room has a window*
Frodo: *If you escape, he almost said*
Elfhild: *she walks into the doorway, motioning for frodo, ceolwulf and vardamir to follow*
Elfhild: *the room is a fine one with tapestries and torches, a bed, trunk, table and chairs and a few stools*
Vardamir: *He walks into the room, looks around, and sees a double window. Ahh.... a route of escape!*
Vardamir: Halfling, it is indeed a fine room. I will stay here tonight *he thinks how cunning he must be*
Vardamir: *Now he decides he must work to convince them that he will stay. He goes over to the bed, tests it* Yes, it will be good to sleep once again in a bed *he smiles*
Frodo: *notices Vardamir stare fixedly at the window with a gleam in his eye*
Frodo: *shares knowing looks with Elfhild and Ceolwulf*
Vardamir: You are most kind..... for a slavemaster
Frodo: *starts getting exasperated with him, but tries to hide it*
Elfhild: *she catches frodo's gaze and crosses her arms in front of herself, raises an eyebrow*
Frodo: Well, I am glad you like it.
Vardamir: *Besides arrogance and impetuosity, Vardamir is a man with a stubborn personality and prides himself on never giving into anyone*
Frodo: *looks meaningfully at Elfhild and Ceolwulf signalling he wants to talk to them privately*
Vardamir: *But in circumstances like this, he knows it will be to his advantage to go along with him*
Vardamir: Yes, yes, this will do fine. Very kind
Frodo: *nods, smiles and steps out of the room*
Vardamir: *Through the window and out into the garden, I will be miles away before they ever notice*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says to Vardmir* I would not try it, if I were you, friend
Vardamir: *Vardamir thinks.... I will see, my friend*
Frodo: *just outside the door but out of Vardamir's earshot he waits for Elfhild and Ceolwulf, to hold a small conference*
Narrator: *Vardamir walks around the room, pretending an interest in the furnishings. He lies down on the bed. Ceolwulf follows Frodo out of the room*
Frodo: *whispers* You saw him looking at the window?
Frodo: Thinking of escape, no doubt, poor lad
Elfhild: *elfhild follows frodo and ceolwulf, but turns back to vardamir and says* seventeen men beheaded by one man.... watch your step lest you lose your life, sir. *she closes the door behind her*
Ceolwulf: Yes, Frodo, he longs to escape, but if he tries, he will be dead before morning
Ceolwulf: Should I keep a watch upon him outside the window tonight, and *he chuckles* persuade him of his folly?
Frodo: I was thinking, however, that locking the window from the outside might be a good idea, though I suppose if you did that, he could just go to the next room and exit that window
Ceolwulf: I think he is determined to escape. I admire his boldness
Frodo: Perhaps you should keep watch, but then you should go to bed early so you get some rest tonight
Ceolwulf: He is like a young rooster before his first fight
Frodo: Yes, he is courageous, but to the point of folly. He will get himself killed
Ceolwulf: He is cocky and arrogant
Ceolwulf: But he will learn that there are foxes that lurk, that have far more wits and cunning than he has
Frodo: Yes, he will learn that. I wish it were not so
Elfhild: his daring is an admirable quality, but it will get him nothing but trouble in this land. *i know, for i have discovered it myself, she thinks*
Frodo: and I hope the lesson will not be too...painful for him
Ceolwulf: Frodo, I cannot tend to you if I keep watch upon him. Let me talk to Derufin later. He comes and goes at will
Ceolwulf: Perhaps he will keep watch. He is a wise old man
Ceolwulf: If he cannot do so for some reason, I pity Vardamir
Frodo: *smiles, remembering how Derufin healed Ceolwulf, and who Derufin really is*
Frodo: He may be just the right man for this watch
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