Frodo played by Hobbitness
Kitchen Staff of Hall, Poor Folk of Nurn, Haleth, Firiel, Frodo's Household Servants, Finduilas, Elfhild and Elffled played by Eowyn
Narrator, Vartang and Ceolwulf played by Wraith

Narrator: *It is the early morning of July 31. Ceolwulf has taken Frodo to the covered walkway behind the hall. A cool breeze blows from the west, bringing a scent of flowers, still moist with the dew of night.*
Narrator: *They wait now for breakfast, but Ceolwulf seems strangely quiet*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, did you sleep well?
Frodo: Well, yes...but I admit I couldn't stop worrying about Elfhild.
Kitchen Staff of Hall: *maids from the kitchen bring out trays of food to the walkway... a breakfast of bacon, eggs, cakes, bread and tea. they set the trays down on the table near frodo and ceolwulf, and begin to put the plates of food before the two*
Frodo: *smiles and thanks the maids*
Frodo: And you? Are you well, Ceolwulf?
Ceolwulf: My sleep was unsound when I slept at all. At one point, I rose from my cot, went outside to the garden. I stood there a while and thought of all that has befallen us
Ceolwulf: My thoughts were on Elfhild in the dungeon, and they were troubled thoughts indeed *he nods to the maids and thanks them*
Kitchen Staff of Hall: *they smile and bow, acknowleding the thanks of frodo and ceolwulf, and go back to the kitchen*
Frodo: *nods as Ceolwulf speaks*
Frodo: Well, we may have Vartang's lewdness to thank in this case...
Frodo: I don't believe he will hurt her, because he will not want to "spoil" her
Ceolwulf: *He spears a piece of bacon with his knife, and chews on it slowly*
Frodo: The more I think about it, the more this seems to me to be the case
Frodo: But I do wish they would let her out *sighs*
Ceolwulf: He is a foul man, Master Frodo
Frodo: Aye
Ceolwulf: *He tears off a piece of bread and sops the bread through the eggs, then drinks a little tea and pushes his plate back* I have no appetite this morning!
Ceolwulf: My thoughts are ill indeed
Frodo: *frowns worriedly*
Ceolwulf: But I will not spoil your breakfast with talking of it
Frodo: No, go on, talk of it. It is infuriating to have to pretend that all is well
Frodo: and now no one listens or constrains us
Ceolwulf: Elfhild is not all. More saddening things have come upon us today. Before Arien was fully up, they were there
Ceolwulf: Scores of them!
Frodo: What?
Ceolwulf: They cluster there, around the main gates, piteous creatures, cripples, blind, orphans, those maimed. They hobble about on crutches and canes. Some are swathed in bandages about their limbs
Ceolwulf: Some are poor and dressed in beggar's rags. They cry constantly now... Alms, alms
Frodo: *his face falls, greatly saddened*
Frodo: Where is this?
Ceolwulf: It is indeed a tragic sight to see them. One of the guards of the gate came here earlier and told me to advise you this, and to ask if you want them driven away with flails
Ceolwulf: Outside of the great walls that surround your estate
Ceolwulf: The guard said, "The only way to deal with such a motley lot is to drive them away with whips!" They are beggars from the city, he said, those unfit for field work
Frodo: *shakes his head with a frown*
Frodo: Well...what happened to all those records of the crops?
Frodo: If we have so much produce, we should be able to help at least some of them, don't you think?
Ceolwulf: I asked the guard about that, and he said all produce belongs to Mordor
Ceolwulf: And none can be given to them
Frodo: *curses in elvish*
Ceolwulf: What shall we do about them?
Frodo: *thinks for a while while eating a cake*
Ceolwulf: I told the guard that I would speak of this to the lord. He looked at me and shook his head dubiously
Frodo: *thinks for a while, eating a cake
Frodo: Yes, I wonder if they will listen to me at all
Ceolwulf: They will listen if you order them to drive a poor lot of folks away
Frodo: Well of course I'm not going to ask them to drive the people away
Ceolwulf: This is a grave and most unpleasant matter and considered with the plight of Elfhild, this bodes to be an ill day
Frodo: *sips his tea thoughtfully* There is that store of gold they gave me for "returning" *he grates the word* the Ring. I don't want it or need it.
Frodo: I hear it is a vast store
Frodo: I do not think that belongs to Mordor
Ceolwulf: Would you have me go down and see them and report back to you or would you want to go see them yourself?
Ceolwulf: There must be 20 or more of them gathered at the gates
Frodo: I will go and see them, but I will need help handling the gold.
Frodo: We should give it to them after all, or at least some of it.
Ceolwulf: Are you able to walk or shall I carry you?
Frodo: I can walk, but stay close in case I stumble
Ceolwulf: Ah, I have it. I shall go to the stables and have a horse and cart brought for you. Then while the cart is being prepared, I will tell the guards at the door to the lower level to bring up such coins as I think would feed these poor folk for months!
Ceolwulf: If you will excuse me, Master Frodo, I will do this *A smile appears on his face, and he rises and bows and leaves the room*
Frodo: Thank you, Ceolwulf, that would work perfectly
Narrator: *While Frodo finishes his breakfast, Ceolwulf walks down the corridors to the door to the lower level, tells the Orcish guard there to order some of his lads to bring up gold coins. They mutter at this request and look at him in wonder.*
Narrator: *They attempt to argue, but he tells them* This is by order of the Great Lord *At that, they go to do his bidding*
Narrator: *He waits for them, and when they have brought two bags of gold, he tells them to follow them to the horse and cart that now await and unload the gold in the back*
Narrator: *They transfer the coins and stare at him in disbelief. He tells them to stay and guard until he and the lord return. Ceolwulf comes back to the walkway and Frodo* All is in readiness
Frodo: *eats quickly, heartened at the prospect of seeing the poor folks' happiness when they see the coins. He smiles and nods to Ceolwulf*
Frodo: Let us go then
Frodo: *He rises and walks beside Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *They down together through the corridor and through a side entrance to the waiting horse and cart. Ceolwulf helps Frodo get into the cart, takes the reins, shakes them, and the horse begins to walk down the hill that leads to the gates*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *outside of the closed gates, the gathered poor people beg and plea for alms.... money to feed themselves, their loved ones, each has a sad story to tell*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *some are upon makeshift wooden and cloth stretchers, those who cannot walk.... all are wearing rags*
Frodo: *The sight strikes deep into Frodo's heart, but he is comforted by the prospect of helping them*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, they will not open the gates for me. You will have to order them to open
Ceolwulf: Only you and Vartang have that power
Frodo: Open the gates *gestures to the guards*
Narrator: *The guards grudgingly open the gates and before them is the sight of 20 or so people, men, women, children, all with their hands outstretched begging for alms*
Poor Folk of Nurn: alms! alms! alms for the poor! please, master, alms! *they cry*
Frodo: *He wonders...should he simply throw the coins at these people? But that would force them to scurry for them like animals, and the crippled will not get any*
Narrator: *Many of them are little more than skeletons in human form, starved, because they can no longer work in the fields and masters, either through pity or spite, have allowed them to live but have cast them from the fields to beg*
Frodo: *He smiles and nods to them, gesturing to them to quiet down* Yes, yes, we will give you alms in a moment
Frodo: *turns to Ceolwulf* How shall we do this?
Frodo: It is not all evenly divided...
Poor Folk of Nurn: *gnarled, bony hands reach out, begging for alms, a piteous sight to look upon. a woman and a small malnourished child come up wto them* i am from gondor lord, i have worked 20 years in the fields,
Poor Folk of Nurn: but i am no longer able *she coughs, obviously sick of some malady*
Frodo: but I am afraid of being trampled if we get off the cart
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, order the guards to keep them in order! Or they will maul you. Make them come to you one at a time in orderly fashion
Poor Folk of Nurn: *an old man, starving, halt and weak, leaning on a cane, stumbles up to the wain* good master, i am from gondor. i have been here 30 years, and have the misfortune to live
Frodo: *overwhelmed by the rush of people talking to him and reaching for him from all sides, Frodo tries to speak encouraging words to them but ends up telling the guards to restore order and have them approach him one at a time*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *small children, their skin covered with grime, their bellies swollen from starvation, look at him wiht dark hollow eyes, pleading for food*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bows his head, close to tears at the sight. He goes back to the back of the cart, hoists a bag of gold over his shoulder*
Frodo: *Frodo grips the side of the cart and leans out impatiently while the guards get the people in line*
Ceolwulf: *He comes back to Frodo and puts the bag beside him, and opens it up*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *the poor folk are herded into a line, and all wait eagerly in hopes of getting alms*
Frodo: Here, Ceolwulf, hand them to me and I will give them to the people.
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, the bag is quite heavy, and I think two bags of such weight will provide for this crowd
Frodo: *This barely feels like a good deed. He is glad to get rid of this "reward" for his failure in the Quest*
Frodo: *nods to Ceolwulf*
Frodo: Can you manage them? How is your arm?
Frodo: and you haven't slept.
Ceolwulf: For something like this, Master, my arm is very strong!
Frodo: *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf smiles as he looks at Frodo then back at the crowd. He reaches down and grabs a handful of coins and as each one comes up to Frodo, he puts the coins in the hands of the poor ones*
Frodo: *He tries to hold small conversations with them though there is little time, and soon he is chattering happily with them like a hobbit in the Shire*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *each person in line comes up to the wain and gets their handful of coins. their faces light up with joy and they bow low to the ground in homage. choruses of* thank you shakh! thank you! *are heard by the crowd. each one wants to kiss frodo's hand in gratittude*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *as the coins are put in their hands, they kiss frodo's hands, and the woamn from gondor with the small child clings to his hand crying softly*
Frodo: *He puts his other hand on her hair and smiles down at her*
Ceolwulf: Well, Master Frodo, that is one way to make the Enemy spend his money!
Frodo: *laughs*
Haleth and Firiel: *the woman from gondor, overcome with emotion, falls to her knees by the cart still clinging to frodos hand* oh thank you master! let me stay with you, please, master....and my child. my master cast me out. my husband is dead, and i have no one
Frodo: *his eyes widen in surprise and he looks to Ceolwulf a moment, but Ceolwulf seems to hope that he will take the woman*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at the woman with pity in his eyes.* It seems your household ever increases
Frodo: It seems so
Ceolwulf: Soon you will have all the poor of Nurn at your doorstep!
Frodo: *nods silently worrying about this*
Frodo: *but for the moment he turns to the woman* Lady, I am sorry for you and your child, and yes I would be glad to have you. There is another lady from Gondor with me already
Ceolwulf: There is room for her and the child to ride in the cart. It seems that the cart has been quite lightened now!
Frodo: *sits back so Ceolwulf can help her into the cart*
Haleth and Firiel: *she kisses his hand over and over* oh thank you master! thank you! ever shall i be in your debt for your kindness
Frodo: *embarassed by this extravagant display of gratitude, he continues smiling awkwardly*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf lifts the lady into the back of the cart, and then stoops and picks up the child, and puts her beside her mother*
Frodo: *He can't help but remember that awful mantra...Gondor and Rohan would still be free had I not failed.*
Frodo: *to the woman* What is your name, and your child's name?
Ceolwulf: *He then gets into the cart and takes up the reins*
Poor Folk of Nurn: haleth is my name, master, and my daughter is firiel
Ceolwulf: Shall we go back now, Master?
Frodo: *bows from the waist* Well met, Haleth and Firiel. My name is Frodo Baggins
Poor Folk of Nurn: *they bow to frodo* thank you master
Frodo: *looks back and sees that they have given away all the coins they brought from the hall. He sits back with a satisfied smile* Yes, let us go, Ceolwulf.
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo* Now I suppose you will have to order them to close the gates or the fools will leave them open!
Frodo: Ah, I forgot
Frodo: *orders them to close the gates*
Poor Folk of Nurn: *the other poor people disperse singing praises of thanks to the great lord frodo, ruler of the western province*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf shakes his head, but still smiles. The guards close the gates, muttering to each other* The shakh is mad!
Frodo: *overhears the guards and starts laughing*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf shakes the reins against the horse's neck and the beast is off at a slow walk back up the hill. Ceolwulf decides to take them for a small drive around the estate. Frodo has never really seen it*
Narrator: *He goes up the road a little way, then turns the horse to a side path, lined with cedars*
Haleth and Firiel: *the child claps her hands with wonder at the sights of such a fine estate*
Frodo: How old are you, Firiel?
Narrator: *They go by a huge pond sparkling in the early morning sunlight. Swans swim about the pool and some have young ones swimming behind them*
Haleth and Firiel: *firiel says* i am 8 summers old, master
Frodo: *Frodo finds this mildly amusing. She is only 8 and she is taller than he is--quite an old hobbit, over 50*
Frodo: *Perhaps not so old, he has to remind himself, but he certainly feels old--most of the time. Not so much today!*
Ceowulf: *Ceolwulf hums a glad song in Rohirric, then begins to sing snatches of it in the common tongue in a deep voice.* The Riders upon their steeds race out to face the enemy, reckless and bold are they, daring
Ceowulf: Matchless in valor, they sang the songs of our ancestors as they ride to either victory or death... *his voice trails off*
Ceowulf: *He guides the horse on the road around the pond and they soon leave it and head back towards the Great Hall. He reins the horse in at the side door* We are back, Master Frodo
Frodo: Thank you for that tour! I did not know these grounds were so lovely
Frodo: I cannot believe such a place could exist in Mordor!
Ceolwulf: Aye, Master Frodo, they are extensive. I often wonder who lived here before you
Frodo: *nods*...and what happened to him...*trails off*
Ceolwulf: *his voice goes low* I understand from the other servants that he was...... "removed".... and he was never heard of again
Frodo: *pales*
Frodo: Though this place is lovely, we are still in Mordor *he says quietly*
Ceolwulf: But, Master Frodo, there is something strange about this place. It does not seem quite real... there is something not natural about it... *his voice goes lower* I am beginning to believe it is not really here, that this is some enchantment, but when I think thoughts such as this, I know I must be going mad
Frodo: It does feel that way *nervous smile*
Ceolwulf: *he shakes his head, then ties the reins around the brake pedal handle and fastens them* Do you need help getting out?
Narrator: *Another servant soon runs up and holds the horse's head*
Frodo: It is an ephemeral place for us...I do not think I have told you this, but after I recover they will give me a "choice"...
Frodo: Vartang told me. The alternatives will be, to be a lord of Nurn, or something else that he would not reveal
Haleth and Firiel: *the child becomes frightened at these dire woords and begins to cry, her mother tries to comfort her*
Frodo: *His look becomes dark and he whispers to Ceolwulf, noticing the girl is afraid* We will not be here forever, or at least I will not
Ceolwulf: *He gets out of the cart, goes over to Frodo's side and waits*
Frodo: *He turns to the woman and girl and smiles reassuringly* Do not fear, little one, we will take care of you now.
Ceolwulf: And I believe, strange though it might be, that if you are gone, this place will vanish!
Haleth and Firiel: *the child nods slowly and clings tighter to her mother*
Frodo: *smiles, then places his hands on Ceolwulf's shoulders to be helped down*
Ceolwulf: But it is a foolish thought. Think your own thoughts. Perhaps I see it differently. They say the Rohirrim are superstitious and perhaps so it is with me
Ceolwulf: *He helps Frodo out of the cart. Then when he is safely on the ground, he goes back and assists the woman and child*
Haleth and Firiel: *soon, the woman and child are out of the cart too..... the women of the household staff rush out to welcome frodo back. seeing the new slaves they look in wonder*
Frodo: This is Haleth and Firiel *he introduces them to the staff* They are from Gondor
Frodo's Household Servants: *the staff welcomes them*
Frodo's Household Servants: *one of frodos many servants asks* do you wish us to show them to a place to stay?
Frodo: Please
Frodo's Household Servants: *the woman nods* as you wish, my lord. *haleth and firiel are taken into the house and shown around, and to their new quarters*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I don't know about you, but I think I feel more like eating now!
Ceolwulf: Let's go back in
Frodo: Well, we go out to give alms away and come back with two new house guests. *grins* I think Anborn and Targon will like having Firiel as a playmate!
Frodo: Yes, so do I! *follows Ceolwulf back into the house*
Frodo's Household Servants: *the servants hold the doors open for lord frodo to enter the house*
Frodo: *stops* Wait, what about Elfhild? Has she been let out yet?
Frodo's Household Servants: *one of the servants says* no word of her yet, my lord.
Frodo: *angrily* Where is Vartang? Has he completely forgotten about her?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says ruefully* Perhaps I am not so hungry now afterall
Frodo: No, no, Ceolwulf, go eat
Ceolwulf: Let's go back to the walkway. It is a peaceful place
Frodo's Household Servants: lord vartang is still in his cottage lord and no one has seen him yet today
Ceolwulf: Probably sleeping off another one of his drinking bouts
Frodo: *rueful sigh* Thank you *to the servant* *he follows Ceolwulf to the walkway*
Frodo's Household Servants: *the servant looks down modestly...*
Ceolwulf: Someday the bottle wine bottle will win that man! *They go down the corridor to the walkway. When they arrive, Ceolwulf holds Frodo's chair out for him*
Frodo: *climbs into the chair*
Ceolwulf: *Pushes his chair in behind him. Frodo's head is lost behind the great back and his feet not able to reach the floor hang down and dangle*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes a chair to Frodo's right* Now, Master Frodo, I suppose that we are required to wait until the great lord is able to regain his feet again *he laughs*
Elfhild: *down in the dungeon, elfhild sleeps by the door, wrapped up in her blanket. her candle went out in the late afternoon of the previous day and she was refused another one*
Elfhild: *strange, it seems, that she sleeps by the door on the cold stone, instead of on the pile of hay nearby in the corner on the opposite side of the cell to her*
Frodo: *chuckles* I wish we never had to see him again
Frodo: but I do wish he would free Elfhild. What is taking him so long? He said she would be freed at dawn and it is well past dawn
Elfhild: *her dreams are vague and fitful........ in them she wanders in a dark place.... it appears to be a cavern of some sort....
Elfhild: *her footsteps are soft, she does not want to be discovered. what had the man at the door told her? she tried to remember, but his words had slipped out of her memory
Elfhild: *the way........ it was...... it was..... shut, he said. that was what it was, shut. but......why? she continues walking furtively through the passage..... vague forms seem to be around her yet when
Elfhild: *she tries to focus to discern a figure, a face, all she sees is quickly fading mists vanishing into the darkness.... she walks into a cobweb, struggles to get it out of her hair....
Elfhild: *then the dream fades and changes..... it is no less haunting, but she pays it little heed as she sleeps....*
Narrator: *In his cottage, Vartang slowly begins to wake up, roused from his sleep by a pounding, throbbing sensation in his nose.*
Narrator: *Sleepily, he reaches up to touch his nose. The swollen tissue seems to be twice the size and spreads over his face. Then he exclaims* Urk! The wench has ruined me!
Narrator: *He drags himself out of the bed, then sits upon it and calls to his orderly who waits outside. When the orderly comes in, he commands in harsh tones* Bring me a bowl and a pitcher of water!
Narrator: *He takes a cloth and gingerly dabs at his swollen nose. Then he catches his image in the mirror and winces at the sight of his black eye and his injured nose.*
Narrator: *Finishing, he turns back to his orderly and commands him to bring him his shirt, tunic and braies. He finishes dressing and sits in a chair and begins to tie his chausses to his braies*
Narrator: *The orderly brings him his boots, and Vartang pulls them on. Then he goes to his table and begins to eat the breakfast that awaits him there*
Narrator: *His swollen nose causes him to breath with a whistling sound and he has difficulty eating because of the swelling in his face* Urk!
Narrator: *He gives up on the food and contents himself with his wine. He looks at the morning dispatches. Before he is finished reading, two glasses of wine have passed his lips*
Narrator: *He rubs the back of his neck, then stretches back in his chair. He gets up and the orderly helps him don his cloak. Vartang is ready for the day*
Narrator: *The orderly opens his door. Vartang goes out and blinks at the light of the sun. His two bodyguards flank him as he walks towards the hall*
Vartang: *Soon he arrives in the walkway* Ah! Shakh! Good morning! *He says with a whistle to his nose and his accent seems more pronounced today than usual*
Frodo: *stifles laughter* Good morning!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf rises and bows, then takes his place behind Frodo's chair*
Vartang: *He takes his usual place leaning against one of the columns on the walkway* Where are those serving wenches when I need them!
Frodo: *This would be funny, except Frodo remembers what being bruised and swollen feels like...he stops his mocking thoughts with this reminder*
Vartang: Wine! Wine! What is a day without wine!
Frodo: *groans inwardly. Not another standoff with the ladies!*
Frodo: *looks around for the girls or Finduilas, not sure where they are*
Elffled: *elffled had been quietly waiting in the walkway for orders, unnoticed and in the shadows near the wall of frodos house*
Vartang: Wine! Wine! I need something to help me forget the ruin that has been brought to my nose
Elffled: *elffled goes to the wine cabinet, gets a bottle and a goblet, and pours vartang a goblet of wine. she comes back and gives it to him*
Frodo: *Elffled's presence reminds Frodo and Ceolwulf of Elfhild's plight even more*
Frodo: *Frodo waits impatiently for Vartang to finish drinking so he can ask about Elfhild*
Vartang: *He barely nods at her and takes the glass from her hand. Then standing, leaning back against the column, he begins to sip it*
Elffled: *she clears her throat softly* my lord, what news of my sister?
Vartang: Your sister? *He asks coldly* I presume she is still in her new lodging
Elffled: you said you would release her at dawn! dawn has come and dawn has gone, and still she has not returned.
Frodo: *glares at Vartang*
Vartang: I had not seen my nose when I said those words!
Frodo: Nonetheless you said them!
Vartang: Perhaps I will let her rot in there
Elffled: *her eyes widen* please, lord, do not. let her go, as you promised.
Vartang: What does it matter what I said? We have a saying in Khand, "Yesterday's words are forgotten. We know only today."
Elffled: *her eyes narrow slightly* ...and in rohan we keep our word as best we can.
Frodo: She was given to me, have I no say in this at all? Even if she was taken by force, can not her master's pleas *stresses it angrily* have any effect for her?
Vartang: *He yawns* It might take a while for the maid to learn her lesson, so perhaps she will stay there
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf grips the back of Frodo's chair tightly*
Vartang: *He drinks his wine* Shakh, why is this woman of any concern to either you or me? Whether she stays or goes, whether she lives or dies. She is a slave. They are cheap
Vartang: I say sell her on the slave market!
Elffled: *she gasps* no!
Frodo: No. Absolutely not.
Elffled: you heard lord frodo's words. he wishes her to be released
Vartang: *He yawns again, then drinks from his goblet*
Vartang: There is plenty of time. We do not have to decide anything right now about her fate
Vartang: How will my nose ever be avenged if she does not feel punishment?
Frodo: Ceolwulf, take me below! If Vartang does not want to release her now, then I will. The guards should listen to me.
Vartang: I am the third son of the King of Khand. If this were my country, I would have dealt with her more thoroughly. Yes, more thoroughly than you could ever imagine *his nose whistles as his voice rises*
Frodo: *ignores Vartang and waits for Ceolwulf's response*
Vartang: Ceolwulf! If you move from your place, I will have you lashed 20 times!
Frodo: *turns open mouthed to Vartang*
Vartang: Guards! *The orcs rush up to Ceolwulf and hold him by the arms. Ceolwulf struggles*
Frodo: Stop!
Elffled: *looks frantically around, at vartang, then at frodo, ceolwulf behind the chair, and the orcs that surround him*
Frodo: All right, all right, I take it back, don't hurt him!
Elffled: *elffled rushes over to vartang and falls to her knees, looking up at him* please, my lord, just let my sister go. there is no need for violence in the hall, nor to imprison my sister further.
Vartang: *He finishes his goblet and sets it on the balcony, then looks down at her* Ah, the stiffnecked lady of Rohan yields at last!
Frodo: *seethes with hatred for Vartang*
Frodo: *and his heart twists with pity for Elffled*
Elffled: *her eyes narrow but she bites her tongue* please lord, must you insist on provoking us to anger? there is no purpose to this.
Vartang: You begin to learn wisdom in your youth, fair one, but you need yet to learn a bit more
Frodo: *while they are arguing Frodo slips out of his chair and down the walkway back into the house, looking for a staircase that leads below*
Vartang: For both you *his anger begins to rise, and his nose whistles louder as he speaks* provoke me beyond limits
Vartang: *He sees Frodo leaving the room. He calls the orcs to bring him back*
Frodo: *He finds a staircase and descends it, but the going is slow. The stairs are huge for him and he hangs onto the railing as he climbs down*
Elffled: *she settles back on her knees, sitting on her feet.... she might have to be here a while. she sighs. she looks up at him* i am sorry, lord, for my part.
Narrator: *Frodo is no match for the orcs' speed and they quickly catch him. One of them picks him up and holds him*
Vartang: Maid, I will deal with you later, but I note your words, and if you truly mean them, perhaps....
Vartang: *He walks briskly out of the room and finds Frodo*
Vartang: Shakh! How you exert yourself for nothing! You overtax yourself! We do not want that! Your condition is severe
Frodo: *Frodo is shouting at the orc to listen to him, he is his master, let him down below*
Vartang: You must rest more and not think so much about things that are trifling in nature
Vartang: Don't strain your voice *he says and the whistling sound in his nose seems to intensify* It will hurt you
Elffled: *she gets up, straighting out her blue skirts..... she follows vartang*
Frodo: *stops struggling and glares at Vartang, panting and clenching his fists*
Vartang: How it saddens me to see you so overwrought!
Vartang: I will have the lads take you back to the walkway. Unless..... You wish to go below
Frodo: *Frodo is rapidly entering a state of panic from being held by an orc..it brings back memories. He seems to be getting more upset but tries to control himself*
Vartang: Yes, you are the lord here. I am but your advisor *he says mockingly*
Frodo: Let us go below then and release her
Vartang: Ah, indeed, I am saddened to see you in such a state. You should not let any ill news disturb your delicate constitution
Vartang: One of my lads will have to carry you then. The steps are too much for you
Elffled: *elffled catches up to vartang and frodo who stand and talk outside of the door to the dungeon. she quietly approaches, bowing, and stands by the wall near the door*
Frodo: *through gritted teeth as the orc still holds him* Let us go then
Narrator: *The orc begins to carry Frodo down the steps, according to Vartang's order*
Vartang: Maid, why do you stand there? Do you wish to trade places with your sister?
Elffled: i followed because she is my sister and i love her, and i desire to know what befalls her.
Vartang: Then wait here. Content yourself with that
Narrator: *They start down the stairs and come to the landing, then go down the second set of steps until they are in the corridor... "Down Below"*
Elffled: *elffled waits by the door, upstairs, wringing her hands nervously*
Narrator: *The corridors are lit by torches along the wall and they cast their flickering flame on rows of cells along the corridor. The jailer rushes up and bows to Vartang, scarcely noticing Frodo*
Vartang: Keeper of the Great Shakh's Dungeon, lead us to the lodging of the maid!
Frodo: *This is almost as bad as going to the dark fortress...maybe worse, because this is an actual dungeon. Frodo's eyelids flutter for a while and his breath comes in labored gasps, but he composes himself by the time they reach the jailer*
Narrator: *The jailer leads the way, Vartang behind, the orc carrying Frodo, and the other bodyguard behind. Soon they reach the cell door. The jailer takes a key from the ring of keys on his belt and begins to turn it in the lock*
Frodo: *Frodo starts to cough in the dank air. He has to keep telling himself he is going to see Elfhild, not Sam as a wraith*
Elfhild: *elfhild lies asleep on the other side of the door..... lost in fitful dreams*
Vartang: *The door creaks inward, slowly moving on its hinges, groaning as it opens*
Frodo: *wriggles and asks the orc to put him down*
Frodo: *straining to see inside the cell*
Elfhild: *the door hits elfhild's body, causing her to wake. she stumbles backwards, half crawling, half falling, yelling in her dazed state* stay away!
Frodo: Shh, shh, it's all right
Narrator: *The jailer takes a torch from the corridor wall and then peers inside the cell. The orc holding Frodo looks to Vartang, who nods, and the orc slowly lets Frodo to the floor*
Elfhild: oh! *she exclaims, realizing that frodo, the jailer, the orc and vartang are here, and not the shades in her dream. she scrambles to her feet, then bows*
Narrator: *The jailer walks inside the cell, puts the torch on a sconce in the wall. Vartang walks in*
Frodo: *enters the cell, feeling a searing rush of emotion, hanging onto the door, and tries to reassure Elfhild*
Frodo: *Entering this cell is the hardest thing he has done in a long time*
Vartang: *He looks at the two of them* Maid, did you enjoy your visit? *his lips curl back in his wolfish grin, the light of the torch reflecting on his gleaming teeth*
Elfhild: *she backs up against the wall, then scoots closer towards the door. she looks to vartang.... studies his face for a moment, then whispers...* you did not say that it was..... well.... *she trails off*
Vartang: *He looks at her and says questioningly* "Well"?
Elfhild: well..... um.... *she shudders, and says barely auidable* haunted.
Frodo: *his eyes widen*
Vartang: *He looks at her with a puzzled expression on his face, then throws back his head and laughs* Haunted!
Elfhild: *her eyes narrow at vartang, whose laugh seems more like a mule's braying than a man's laughter* yes. inhabitted by fell shades. gasts. spirits.
Frodo: What?
Vartang: *Vartang laughs harder, the laughter causing the whistling sound in his nose to be exaggerated*
Vartang: Maid, you are most entertaining
Elfhild: it is the truth! *she says with desperate resolution, wishing to prove herself* i saw strange things in the darkness, shades. gray they were, like mists, changing, disapearing.
Frodo: Ohhh *Frodo says with understanding* That is normal, it does not mean it is haunted
Vartang: Aye *he says* The whole place is populated with Elvish wights *he slaps his thigh at the humor of it*
Frodo: The terror of being here will do that to you....the same thing happened to me.
Elfhild: *she begins to get exasperated* but it IS true! i did see.......things! in the darkness. this whole place is like the dwimmerberg!
Vartang: Aye, companies of Elvish wights. Nay, legions, all leering and grinning and casting spells beyond belief!
Frodo: Well, then let us all get out of here. *Frodo trembles and his voice is faint but he turns to Vartang* I'm not leaving this cell until she does. *He has a firm grip on the door in case the orc tries to pull him out*
Vartang: Maid, your mind plays tricks on you in the darkness
Vartang: Why shakh *he says* Her visit was over two hours ago *He grins evilly* Certainly she may go. She should thank the jailer though for providing such extraordinary hospitality
Elfhild: *eyes narrow slightly and she tells the jailer and vartang* thank you. now can i leave this haunted place?
Vartang: It is not haunted, maid. You imagine things! Now we will go
Vartang: *He commands the orc to pick up Frodo and lead the way. Elfhild behind him and Vartang behind her. He says a few words to the jailer, who bows to him as they leave*
Elfhild: the place is filled with fell shades! by Béma, i saw them with my own eyes. *she mutters under her breath*
Vartang: *The orc and Frodo go down the corridor. Vartang tarries a little behind, then catches up. When he approaches Elfhild, he slaps her across the back of her hips and laughs*
Vartang: Elvish wights *He says and grins at her when she looks back at him*
Frodo: *curses loudly in elvish*
Elfhild: *she jumps and screams, then turns around quickly. seeing vartang, she gives him a look that shoots fiery daggers, tempted to knock his nose off his face this time. but she holds her temper and storms ahead*
Vartang: Aye, wights, wights, they are everywhere. Certainly you must watch them, or they might play tricks upon you
Elfhild: may Béma's horse trample your worthless carcass first before taking you off to the darkness beyond the world! *she curses loudly in rohirric*
Vartang: *He cannot comprehend one word that she has said, but he laughs just the same*
Narrator: *The party goes up the steps and onto the landing, then turn and go up the last set of steps*
Frodo: *is busy trying to find an insult harsh enough for his anger, but he can find none. He sputters all the way up the steps*
Vartang: *Vartang laughs all the way as he walks up the steps*
Vartang: Shakh *he says when they get to the main floor* Do you wish to go out to your pleasant spot along the walkway? I am sure your slave man must be worried by now
Frodo: Fine *he lapses into a sullen silence*
Frodo: *then begins coughing again*
Elfhild: *when they get to the main floor, elffled sees her sister. she rushes up to her and the two hug and kiss each other, joyous at the reunion*
Frodo: *begins to smile again when he sees their reunion*
Vartang: *He orders the orc to carry Frodo and put him in his chair on the walkway* Ah, such a touching reunion he says
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls follow them to the walkway, talking to each other in hushed tones in the language of the rohirrim which few can understand*
Vartang: My ladies, my gentle maidens of Rohan, I have words to speak with you in private *The tone of his voice leaves no mistake that he demands their obedience*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the two exchange worried glances swallowing slightly and slowly and hesitantly approach vartang, bowing when they get close*
Frodo: *Frodo is placed in his chair, where he sits coughing into a napkin. He is very pale and still trembling. When he finishes coughing he sets the napkin down, leans back and closes his eyes*
Ceolwulf: *Frodo meets the worried Ceolwulf on the walkway*
Frodo: *but he opens them immediately with a gasp, as scenes of untold horror form in his memory*
Ceolwulf: *He rushes to get him his medicine. He returns soon, and fetches him a goblet of wine from the ever present filled wine cabinet, mixes the medicine in it, takes it back to him and sets it in front of him*
Vartang: *Vartang motions for the girls to follow him and he walks ahead of them down into the garden*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls slowly follow vartang*
Vartang: *He waits for them by a fountain*
Elfhild and Elffled: *soon they reach the fountain and stand a few feet away from him, looking at his face, trying to judge his intentions*
Vartang: *He bows to them both, then looks to Elfhild* My dear lady, do you see what you have done to my nose? Are you repentant of this deed?
Frodo: *Frodo barely notices Ceolwulf's flurry of activity, but Ceolwulf touches his arm and that rouses him from his trance. Frodo drinks the medicine, then sits quietly looking down at his clenched hands*
Elfhild: *elfhild looks at vartang's swollen face and pride surges through her... she remembers the orcs that she wounded, the ones who attacked their homestead. she stops the smile that threatens to appear on her face, and tries to look emotionless, calm. she says, untruthfully, looking down...* i am sorry my lord
Vartang: *He walks towards her* I saw deceit in your eyes, maid *He suddenly reaches out, grabs her by the wrist, and pulls her up to him*
Elfhild: *gasps as she feels herself being pulled towards him, her wrist hurting by his grasp*
Elffled: *elffled takes a step closer*
Vartang: *He reaches out and puts his other arm around her waist*
Vartang: Look at me, maid
Elfhild: *she looks up at him, focusing on his chin rather than his eyes* please lord, let me go
Vartang: Look at me, maid *He commands*
Elfhild: *she wimpers slightly and looks into his eyes... she is frightened*
Vartang: *She can see his eyes are beginning to burn with fury and he draws her closer to him. He speaks to her in a whisper* Strike me again, my lovely maid, and I will have you whipped to death!
Elfhild: *she swallows and stammers* y..yes... my l..lord, it won't happen again. i s...swear!
Vartang: By what do you swear? *He says through clenched teeth*
Elfhild: *she panicks. why is she in such a bargaining position with vartang? she swallows again*
Elfhild: *she does not want to swear by Béma, the oath would be too powerful, and binding, permanent. and if she broke an oath, perhaps she would end up like those under the Mountain, the shades*
Elfhild: upon my dead mother *she whispers*
Vartang: *He looks at her and smiles evily. He releases her slowly* Leave me now. Tend your tasks, and do not let me see either of you again this day, lest I change my mind and cast both of you in the dungeon!
Elfhild: *she stumbles away from vartang, her sister rushing to her side. she mumbles* yes, lord, you won't see us again, thank you. thank you!
Vartang: *He looks to the East, and thinks to himself... By Melkor! A fire burns in her!*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the two girls quickly walk up the walkway, eager to get away from vartang, talking in hushed tones in rohirric all the way. they retreat into the house*
Vartang: *He waits until they have gone out of sight and walks up the steps to the garden and back up to the walkway*
Frodo: *Frodo still sits quietly looking down, lost in a living memory of what Vartang just threatened to Elfhild*
Frodo: *His eyes are half closed and his breathing is shallow. He shudders from time to time*
Vartang: *Vartang goes onto the walkway, nods at the two orcs that guard the door* Shakh, shakh. You were foolish to jeapordize your health in such a way!
Vartang: You must rest now, take the air
Vartang: Have a glass of wine
Frodo: *hears Vartang vaguely, his eyes open more but bear a fearful, confused expression*
Vartang: *He looks to Ceolwulf accusingly* Did you give him his medicine?
Ceolwulf: Aye, master, but it seems to do him no good
Vartang: Then give him more!
Ceolwulf: But he just had some medicine. Must I give him more?
Vartang: If he does not respond to that which you gave him within a few minutes, aye
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf waits and looks at Frodo*
Vartang: *Nonchalantly resumes his position, leaning against the column, one foot braced behind him ont he railing. He yawns*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, what is wrong?
Ceolwulf: Does the medicine not help you? *he puts his hand on Frodo's shoulder*
Frodo: *looks even more confused and jolts when Ceolwulf puts his hand on his shoulder*....Sam?!
Ceolwulf: *Remembers that Frodo has often said that name* I am not Sam. You speak of another, your friend, from the Shire. The one you told me about. Your gardener and your cook
Vartang: *Vartang closes his eyes, rubs his nose gingerly*
Frodo: Oh...*this voice does not sound like Sam, but perhaps that is because Sam no longer remembers who he is* *Frodo begins to weep softly*
Vartang: *Wonders to himself... How long, oh Melkor, must I endure this miserable dwarf?*
Ceolwulf: *He draws a clean hankerchief from his tunic and hands it to Frodo* Here, Master, use this It is clean *he laughs nervously*
Frodo: *A handkerchief? But that is not right, there are no handkerchiefs in Mordor. He frowns for a minute, then realization dawns on his face and he looks profoundly embarassed*
Ceolwulf: You said Sam was the best gardner in all the Shire. I know nothing of gardening
Frodo: *sighs heavily* Thank you, Ceolwulf *wipes his face with the handherchief*
Ceolwulf: I am taught the art of the soldier to ride a horse, to use the lance, and the sword, but I always remember to do as my mother told me, and carry a clean hankerchief with me *he smiles nervously*
Vartang: *Vartang listens to them and yawns prodidiously*
Frodo: *manages a smile too*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, are you all right? Would you like to lie down?
Ceolwulf: Honestly, Master Frodo?
Ceolwulf: You do look a bit under the weather *he laughs uncertainly* little down at the corners of your mouth, but other than that you are in fine fettle
Frodo: *If Ceolwulf says "Master Frodo" one more time he is going to start crying like a child. He smiles with a great effort* All right, take me inside then.
Ceolwulf: *He knows he is lying, but can't help it*
Frodo: I should be fine...in fine fettle as you say in a minute.
Ceolwulf: Yes, fettle.... *his words break off and he chokes, fearing he will begin sobbing*
Frodo: *looks up at him, astonished*
Ceolwulf: Yes, fit as a fiddle *he looks down*
Frodo: Ceolwulf...what...?
Frodo: Are you sick too?
Ceolwulf: I am fine. Something caught in my throat *he coughs*
Ceolwulf: nothing really... *ahem*
Vartang: *Vartang moves away from the column and begins to walk. He goes over to the orcs, talks to them and soon all three are laughing*
Frodo: *nods, then stands on the chair and tightly clasps his arms around Ceolwulf's neck so he can carry him inside*
Ceolwulf: *In spite of himself, Ceolwulf sniffs as he lifts up Frodo and begins to carry him back to his room*
Ceolwulf: *as he carries him, he says* Yes, I had a choking spell there. I think... I think it was something in the garden that did it
Frodo: *nods with a little smile, silently deciding that Ceolwulf is the next best thing to Sam*
Ceolwulf: Whenever I see a snake I begin to feel a choking fit come over me and I think I saw a very large snake down in the garden today. If you understand me
Frodo: yes...yes I take your meaning *his voice breaks in spite of himself*
Ceolwulf: *When he is sure they are out of hearing distances of Vartang and the Orcs, he says* This was a very strange snake. Its head was all swollen and whenever it hissed, it seemed to whistle *he laughs softly*
Ceolwulf: Some sort of viper I think it was, if you understand me *he winks*
Frodo: *laughs too, and winks back*
Ceolwulf: *He takes him in his room, places him on his bed in a sitting position, fluffs up the pillows behind him and then spreads a blanket over him*
Ceolwulf: Now, sleep, my friend, I will stay in the chair beside the bed
Frodo: Thank you, my friend...*half to himself* It's easy to mistake you for Sam *smiles*
Vartang: *Vartang finally notices Frodo's absence and tells the orcs to follow him. He strides jauntily down to Frodo's room*
Vartang: *He enters the room, leans up against the wall, yawning sleepily*
Frodo: *tenses as soon as Vartang walks in and glances over to Ceolwulf*
Vartang: *He tells one of the orcs to bring him a draught of wine and he is soon standing there with a goblet in his hand drinking. He swallows the drink, then stretches back and says* Ahhhhhhhhh
Frodo: *watches him with trepidation*
Vartang: Good wine! *he smacks his lips and stifles an urge to touch his nose*
Frodo: What is it, Vartang? Why are you here in my room?
Vartang: Shakh, I realize *He says with mock sympathy* that you have overexerted yourself today, worrying about minor things when you should not have
Frodo: *Oh, so it's my fault, is it, he thinks*
Vartang: My business will not take long, though I would stay and sample the resources of your wine cellar a bit longer, but urgent business calls me elsewhere
Vartang: Aye, shakh, I tried to persuade you not to go down below but you would not listen to your advisor, the one who has been sent to you from Lugburz to suggest to you the things you should do. Suggest, I say
Frodo: *urgent business at the tavern, Frodo thinks*
Frodo: *repeats with bitter sarcasm* Suggest
Vartang: Never command, but for what am I, but your servant in a way, but most of all, your humble advisor
Frodo: Who does not hesitate to use physical force to override my will
Vartang: Shakh, sometimes force must be used to meet force. You must understand that. The people of Rohan hate my people, and bear spite against us
Frodo: Oh, I UNDERSTAND that
Vartang: The hate is of long duration. I consider that when I must deal with the maids *He smiles evily*
Vartang: But I shall handle them. Now I need to bring up an important matter that requires your attention
Frodo: *exhausted, he leans back and sighs* Well, she is safe now so that is over
Vartang: Your prospective bride
Frodo: *his eyes fly open* What?!
Vartang: On your behalf, I wrote to her father yesterday and told him that you were willing to meet the lady
Vartang: I thought you would be pleased with that
Frodo: You...you.....*sputters*.....when?
Finduilas: *finduilas comes in, carrying a large plate of food - the noon meal. frodo had missed second breakfast, for he had been down below seeing to elfhild*
Finduilas: *she puts the food on a tray and puts it on frodo's lap.... she pours him a cup of tea....* lord vartang and ceolwulf, would you like some tea?
Ceolwulf: Yes, Mistress Finduilas, if you please
Frodo: *He frowns at the tray, trying to decide if he is too tired to eat or hungry enough to eat anyway*
Finduilas: *she smiles, pours him a cup of tea and hands it to him* and you, my lord? *she thinks she already knows the answer*
Vartang: More wine would suit me quite well
Frodo: *as he is a hobbit, hunger wins out and he eats some of the food*
Ceolwulf: *not being hungry, Ceolwulf drinks his tea. He is too worried to eat*
Finduilas: *finduilas takes the nearby wine bottle and refills vartang's goblet. later, she excuses herself and leaves the room*
Vartang: *Vartang nods at her, and starts drinking the wine*
Frodo: *He takes a few sips of tea and soon pushes the tray away*
Vartang: Now Shakh *he says after he swallows*
Vartang: The meeting will take place in two weeks
Frodo: *He burrows into the pillows and is on the point of falling asleep when Vartang speaks*
Vartang: It will take a day's journey to get there, and you and your slave man will ride in one wain and perhaps I will allow the ladies to go on the journey in a wain
Frodo: *narrows his eyes*
Vartang: But it is very important that you keep this appointment and meet her
Frodo: It would be better if we all rode in the same wain
Vartang: I think not, Shakh, I will ride beside the ladies to protect them
Frodo: *narrows his eyes even more*
Vartang: I am pleased to tell you that the father has offered a generous dowry
Frodo: You do not really expect me to marry this woman!
Vartang: He also says that the lady is beautiful beyond compare, has the eyes of a doe, is as graceful as a Valie, sings and plays the harp, and is of nearly pure Numenorean blood
Vartang: He emphasizes what a rarity this is
Frodo: *thinks, well, then it shouldn't be so bad to meet her if I have to...but that is as far as it will go!*
Vartang: All the father asks is that you see her for yourself
Frodo: I suppose I have no choice but to see her
Vartang: Of course, I might be interested but I can only wed if my father deems it well that I do
Frodo: *Frodo tries to imagine the character of Vartang's father, but cannot picture anyone much worse than Vartang*
Vartang: She is far beneath me. Her father is but the lord of a province and I am the third son of a king
Vartang: I realize my inability to marry is a loss to all the fair maidens in Nurn and it is a pity that I can take no wife, save one whom my father choses
Frodo: *shares furtive smirks with Ceolwulf*
Vartang: So it is settled. You will meet her
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Frodo and smiles knowingly*
Frodo: I guess so *yawns*
Vartang: Now I must be about my business. Let me once again compliment you on the excellency of both your wine cellar and your dungeon. I will be back in the evening. Until then, aarsh zark
Vartang: *He turns, walks out the door. The orcs flank him and they hear their footsteps going down the corridor*
Ceolwulf: Everywhere he goes, he brings trouble *he shakes his head* What this time!
Frodo: I don't know, but I can't worry about it anymore *he sighs wearily*
Frodo: To think it is only still morning!
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild and elffled approach frodo's door hesitantly. they peer inside and say* my lord? can we come in?
Frodo: I have been from the Shire to the lowest pits of Mordor to here in my mind today *small smile*
Ceolwulf: Now my friend, you need to sleep
Ceolwulf: Vartang, the snake, couldn't have gotten much lower than he did today!
Frodo: *to Elfhild and Elffled* Come in, for a little while
Ceolwulf: *He turns to the doorway and says to Elfhild* Did the soundrel hurt you?
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls bow and thank frodo and come into the room... standing near frodo's bed.*
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild turns to ceolwulf and says* the foul knave smacked me when we were leaving the dungeon! *she looks down and blushes slightly* but he was mostly just his usual loathsome insulting self, thankfully.
Frodo: *has to smile at her way of putting it*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf tries not to show that he saw her embarassed blush* He says he is the son of a King..... A king of what?
Ceolwulf: An Easterling! Thralls of Mordor!
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild hisses* a king of rats! and things that crawl upon the ground.
Frodo: *feels better now that Vartang is gone...he tries to keep his eyes open long enough to talk to Elfhild and Elffled*
Ceolwulf: Lady Elfhild, my fear for you was great and I am relieved to know that at last the lout has released you
Frodo: *nods, seconding his words*
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild* thank you, sir. but... *her eyes widen* down below, it is a horrible place... *shudders* filled with spectres and ghosts!
Ceolwulf: *He looks at her, his eyes widening* I knew it! I knew it! This place has a strangeness about it! I have felt long that there are things here that we cannot see
Ceolwulf: Though it may be beautiful on the outside, there is an evil here. Perhaps some spell cast by the enemy to delude us into thinking that something is one way when in truth it is the other
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild says in hushed tones* it is like the dwimmerberg. it is filled with shades, filled with dark things, that are summoned forth into greater power by evil times.
Frodo: The evil is the power that allows all this to exist...and how it maintains its power. Through force. All this is built on dungeons
Ceolwulf: *Before he can catch himself, he begins to talk excitedly to them in Rohirric, and then he catches himself and goes back to the Common Speech*
Frodo: All of Mordor is built on blood and bones *he whispers darkly*
Ceolwulf: Outside, all is white and beautiful but I feel that it is but a sham that hides somewhere deep within the bones of dead men
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild moves closer to her sister, almost cringing at her side*
Ceolwulf: *The supersitcious nature of the Rohirrim begins to run wild in Ceolwulf* It is like a tomb! Covered with white outside, but deep and dark within. I will talk to Derufin about it, when I see him. Perhaps he can calm our fears
Frodo: *Frodo nods. He has firsthand experience of their words. Hobbits are not superstitious, but it IS like a tomb.*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says* Perhaps it is OUR tomb
Frodo: No!
Frodo: I will not allow that!
Frodo: *then his face falls as he realizes he has no say in anything here*
Frodo: *He looks at them all...the girls look to him for reassurance, but the same fear is in his eyes and he cannot conceal it*
Ceolwulf: Well *he says* If it is to be our tomb, let us go to it fighting!
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls nod in agreement* aye, fighting.
Elfhild and Elffled: *elffled says* and perhaps when we reach the halls of our fathers, we can drink the mead of happiness with no fears, far away from the evils we have known.
Frodo: No! You must not start any more fights! Unless you WANT this to be your tomb
Frodo: Whatever they weave around us, we must keep our integrity and our courage. The stars still shine...*his eyes begin to glisten again as he hears Sam in his mind singing the Elvish song in Cirith Ungol*
Frodo: But we are all here now, and safe
Frodo: *yawns* and now please let me sleep, unless you want to be putting me in my tomb tomorrow *chuckles*
Frodo: *After the girls leave, Frodo falls asleep after a last glance to Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks to Frodo, and sees his closed eyelids and settles back in his chair and thinks of horses galloping across the plains of the Mark*

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