October 6, 3019

Life in Gondor Begins
By Wraith

Upon their arrival in Minas Artano the night of October 2nd, Frodo had been separated from his servants, with Frodo's servants Lilandra and Aldir, Rian, Finduilas and her two sons, Ceolwulf and Vardamir being taken to the King's House for the night. Frodo had been granted an audience with King Varyon I, King of Forogondor, the northern province of West Mordor, and Lord High Governor of Minas Artano, and had spent what Frodo considered an unpleasant evening with the King, his younger brother Maugoth Vartang, and three of King Varyon's beautiful concubines, Alanna, Ladiel and Brennil.

Frodo had been shocked and grieved at the Easterling occupiers of Gondor and their strange, alien customs of concubinage and slavery. He was even more grieved when he had learned that King Varyon had named his brother Vartang as Steward of Gondor as a jest. Frodo was relieved when the King dismissed him for the night, but he was greatly concerned about his servants, Ceolwulf, Aldir and Vardamir, who had all three been in a strange, trance-like state of semiconsciousness since the group had left Minas Morgul.

When the guards had escorted Frodo to his room in the King's house, Frodo found that he was sharing a room with the unconscious Ceolwulf, who lay in a deep sleep. Frodo did not know the fate of his other slaves, but at least he knew that Ceolwulf was alive.

The next morning, Ceolwulf finally awakened much to Frodo's relief. Ceolwulf could remember nothing from the time that Frodo and his servants had gone to Minas Morgul except for two feasts, and after that, his memory had been erased, and Ceolwulf surmised that he must have drunk too much ale the night before.

Seeing the concern on Frodo's face, Ceolwulf sensed that there was something dreadfully wrong, and when Frodo told him of the captivity of Elfhild, Elffled and Arnasa, Ceolwulf determined to go back to the City of the Wraiths and try to free the maidens, even though that he knew that such a course would avail nothing but his swift death.

Frodo was able to extract a promise from Ceolwulf to wait for a week and then if the maidens had not been released, Ceolwulf said he could make no promises regarding what he might do.

Maugoth Vartang made his apperance and announced to Frodo and Ceolwulf that that afternoon, Frodo and all his slaves would be moved to another house just on the level below the Hallows, the tombs of the Kings and Stewards of Gondor. Vartang had remarked that Frodo would be one of the last among the living who would take residence in Minas Artano before the city would be turned over to the Nazgul.

Aldir and Vardamir soon awakened after Ceolwulf, both thoroughly convinced they had too much wine to drink the evening before, and neither knowing that instead they had all three been drugged by potions that had been slipped into their drinks.

Frodo's servants had been taken from the King's House early in the afternoon and sent under an escort of guard to Frodo's new residence to make preparations for Frodo's arrival. Frodo and Ceolwulf were left to spend the rest of the afternoon alone waiting.

The house that Frodo and his family of servants were to occupy was set on the third level of the city. As the evening drew on, Maugoth Vartang and his two bodyguards came to Frodo's room to escort him and Ceolwulf down the levels to his new house. The first thing that Frodo saw was a splashing fountain and a familiar, if odious and hated, reminder of his life in Nurn, the huge statue of Frodo that had been presented to him by Lord Lorthang.

The statue was a perfect likeness of Frodo, carven in glistening marble. The left hand of the statue-Frodo was thrust deeply into its waistcoat, while the right arm was lifted high in the air, the index finger, adorned with a carving of the ring upon it, pointing skyward. The feet of the statue were slightly apart, and its chest was thrust out in a proud bearing. A look of determination was on its face. Upon the statue's base was written in Black Speech, "Shakh Frodo Baggins Narish Sauron-Ob," and in common, "Lord Fordo Baggins, Friend of Sauron."

Frodo hurried by the statue and into the house, dreading the next time he would have to leave the house and walk by the statue. "An exceptional piece of workmanship, Shakh, and a worthy tribute to Sauron's friend," called out Vartang as he looked upon Frodo's retreating form. "Generations to come will remember you always." Vartang and his two bodyguards soon caught up with Frodo before he could escape into the sanctuary of the house. "Shakh, I appreciate your eagerness to embrace your new life in Minas Artano, but first I feel that it is my duty to show you about the new Baggins Hall."

The house itself was set far back from the road with a large green in front. It was very large for a townhouse and occupied a place along the northern wall. The great hall was the first room that a visitor entered. To its left was the kitchen, and to its right were Frodo's sitting room, chambers, and several guest rooms. The slaves were to have rooms behind the kitchen, the men being housed in one dormitory style room, and the women in another. Married servants were given private rooms.

"Shakh," Vartang said as he lounged in one of the fine chairs in Frodo's great hall, "You should have no worries whatsoever and enjoy your soujurn in the city. As I have done in the past, I will continue to serve you faithfully as your advisor and confidant if you will consider that. Care to join me in a pipe?" Vartang laughed at the sour expression on Frodo's face, as he lit up a pipe and began smoking.

Vartang looked around the room from floor to ceiling. "A most worthy residence, Shakh, a fine one which is reflective of your nobility. I plan to visit you frequently and I trust that the quality of your wine will be as good as it was in Nurn. However, there is one thing you are sorely lacking, Shakh, and that is readily apparent: comely women. Perhaps that could be changed...."

The irritation on Frodo's face at that was obvious. "Ah, well, Shakh, there is plenty of time for that," Vartang said and waved his left hand dismissively as he blew a burst of pipe smoke in Frodo's face. "I will go to the slave market my first opportunity and see what goddesses of love might be offered upon the block. Perhaps you would like to go with me and choose for yourself? There might be some Rohirrim maidens for sale to replace..... those who had been borrowed..."

Ceolwulf's face flushed in anger and Frodo looked at him with an imploring look on his face and sent him a message in thought, "Please, Ceolwulf, please..."

Ceolwulf replied in thought through the power of his ring, "When this one meets his end, I want him to be mine!"

Frodo implored by thought, "Please, please, Ceolwulf..." Frodo waited for the reply back, but the inquiring fingers of his thought were met only by silence.

Vartang got up from his chair and stretched, yawning profusely. He tapped his pipe against the heel of his boot, knocking the spent ashes of his pipe on the floor. "When there is the opportune time, I will show you the wonders of the old city and the beginnings of the new city, Minas Artano. Fine dwellings will be built, suitable for the new king and his court and residences for the new Masters of the city. Ah, yes," he said, as though in an afterthought, "your purse is quite ample to buy whatever you wish and whatever is needed to run your household. Your slaves may go to the marketplace in Newburg to buy such provisions for your hall as might be needed." He looked back at Frodo. "Even your slave man may go freely to and fro from the city of Newburg." Turning to Ceolwulf, he taunted, "Perhaps even your dull-witted Rohirric slave man can find a comely wench at one of the new taverns."

He turned back to Frodo. "Oh, yes, Shakh, since you are fully recovered now, as your most trusted advisor, I have relieved you of the responsibility of assigning tasks to your servants. Now since you are fully recovered from your most unfortunate illness, you no longer need the strawhead as your personal valet, so I have taken the liberty of assigning both him and the bright-eyed Gondorian, Vardamir, to stable duty. Both of them have grown far too corpulent with the easy lives that they led in Nurn. They will tend your horses and share living quarters over your stables. The man, Aldir, will be your scribe and valet. I trust this is to your liking," Vartang said and flashed Frodo a mouthful of perfect teeth, with the lips laid back in a wolfish grin.

"Ah yes, another matter. I have noticed that your slave men's hair has once again begun to grow. That is not permissible for the slaves of a great lord. They must all be shorn again, and their heads shaved as befits lesser men. Do not let this happen again in the future, Shakh. You do not want to be embarassed among the other lords of the city by allowing leaniency towards your slaves. The women, however, may allow their tresses continue to grow back, for I do favor a long, untamed mane on a maid."

Ceolwulf's face again flushed with anger, but he kept his silence. Strangely, Frodo could not read any thoughts coming from Ceolwulf's mind. A thought came to Frodo... "Is this some new trickery of the enemy, or is Ceolwulf learned to master his ring in some way?"

"Shakh, I am surprised at this. There is a most unpleasant look upon your face. Pray, do not let another discussion sully the pleasantness of the day. Now, Shakh, I bid you a good afternoon." He turned, walked towards the front entrance of the hall, flanked by his two orcish bodyguards, and so Frodo's life in Gondor began.

The days of early autumn passed by uneventfully for Frodo and his servants, and the household soon settled into a routine. Portending colder days ahead, a chilly rain began to fall October 6th, the anniversary of Frodo's wounding on Weathertop.

Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Lilandra and Bronash portrayed by FreeFall
Rian, Lorgag and Orc Guards portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator, Aldir, Ceolwulf, Vartang and Lorgag portrayed by Wraith

Narrator: *At dawn, Aldir leaves his room and goes through the central hallway in the western section of Frodo's house*
Narrator: *He knocks on Frodo's door*
Frodo: *On October 6, Frodo awoke feeling a great heaviness upon him. His mind seemed too burdened with despair to think, and he felt a strange chill*
Frodo: *As the morning wore on, pain grew in his old wound on his left shoulder, then spread down through his arm and side.*
Frodo: *He stared at the ceiling trying to make sense of this, then remembered it is the anniversary of Weathertop, and the heaviness deepened*
Frodo: *Aldir's knock breaks into his thoughts*
Frodo: Yes? *he calls wearily*
Aldir: Master? *he calls from outside* Is all well?
Frodo: *Frodo closes his eyes and sighs*
Aldir: Master? *he knocks again* May I come in?
Frodo: *It is such an effort to speak...he tries to form the words but the weight on his chest is so heavy*
Frodo: *He mumbles something incoherent*
Aldir: *Aldir hates this duty and feels that it is degrading to him but Vartang was specific, "You must serve him, attend to as his personal servant."*
Aldir: *He had never been a man-servant, he had always been a farmer and then a soldier*
Aldir: *He hears a sound from inside the room and assumes it is permission to enter. He opens the door and walks into the room*
Frodo: *Frodo still stares at the ceiling*
Aldir: *He sees Frodo lying on the bed* Perhaps I came here too early? You have not yet arisen from bed, but my instructions were to be here promptly at dawn
Frodo: *He tries to process Aldir's words, unsuccessfully*
Aldir: *he closes the door behind him and walks to Frodo's bed and looks down at him* Are you ill? *he says when he sees Frodo's expressionless face*
Frodo: I am wounded
Frodo: will never really heal
Frodo: *closes his eyes*
Aldir: *Aldir looks at him in dismay* Wounded, master? How could you be wounded!
Frodo: It was a long time ago. *quietly*
Aldir: You are here, in your own house, in your own room. There is no mark that I can see upon you, no blood, nothing
Aldir: *Thinking that Vardamir was indeed right that everyone here was mad, Aldir wonders if he should send a servant to summon a physican*
Aldir: Shall I call a phsycian?
Frodo: *sighs, frustrated* I doubt it would do any good.
Frodo: It was a year ago today that I was wounded.
Frodo: Perhaps this will not last long.
Aldir: *At that time, two servants come in bearing a pitcher of water, a basin, a bowl and a towel and place it on a table*
Aldir: Perhaps the rain has brought out some aches and pains from old injuries? *he asks questioningly* It is a chill day
Frodo: Yes, it is very cold *his voice lowers to a whisper and breaks almost with terror as he shivers*
Aldir: Your personal physcian will not be here for several days, but perhaps in the new city they have built, one could be found
Aldir: Are you able to wash up for the morning?
Aldir: *The servants put the things down on the table, bow and leave*
Aldir: Are you able to get out of bed?
Frodo: *Frodo tries to rouse himself out of his stupor. He props himself up on his right elbow, then grimaces*
Frodo: I could try, though I would prefer not to.
Aldir: *Aldir thinks of his farm back in Lassarnach, his fine horses, his cattle, his sheep, his pleasant evenings spent with his wife by the fireside as she sewed and he read his books and smoked his pipe*
Aldir: *He wonders at what cruel fate has relegated him to such a lowly position as a man-servant, but he determines he will try his best, but he hates it and would rather be cleaning out his pig sty than reduced to such a state*
Frodo: *If Frodo could guess Aldir's thoughts he would be sympathetic, but his mind is fully bent on dealing with the darkess upon him today.*
Aldir: Perhaps then it would be better not to try to get out of bed
Aldir: Should I look to your clothing for the day as to what you wish to wear, master?
Frodo: *Is it really necessary to get dressed? he groans inwardly* If you wish...whatever you choose.
Aldir: I am not the master in this place. If you do not wish to get out of bed, then perhaps you should stay there
Frodo: All right *he mumbles absently*
Aldir: *He walks away from the bed and goes to Frodo's wardrobe, opens the door and looks inside*
Aldir: *He sees before him endless rows of ornate waistcoats, little shirts, cloaks and breeches, all in shades of black and red with gold trim*
Aldir: *A somber sort, he must be, Aldir thinks, and shakes his head*
Frodo: *All the loss, guilt and despair of the past year, that he has tried to surpress, especially in order to help the servants, press insistently on his mind*
Rian: *rian, carrying a tray of breakfast food for frodo, comes to frodo's door and knocks upon it* your breakfast is ready, my lord.
Frodo: Oh, thank you, Rian.
Aldir: *He wishes that his wife were here, but when last he left her, she was upstairs reading a book*
Rian: *holding the tray with one hand, she opens the door with the other, pushing it all the way open with her foot. then entering, she closes it behind her with her foot*
Frodo: *Perhaps he should let Rian talk to him...he knows her better than Aldir, and maybe her presence could distract him from this strange illness.*
Rian: *she walks over to frodo's small table and puts the tray upon it.. then stepping back, she bows to frodo and aldir*
Frodo: *He wonders what his happening to him, and how long this will last*
Frodo: *smiles weakly at Rian*
Frodo: Thank you my dear. *If only I didn't have to move to eat it.*
Rian: *she smiles back at frodo* good morning, my lord.
Frodo: Good morning
Lilandra: *she closes her book and waited for the time when she was to make her way to collect any laundry to be brought to be washed. Her duties were that and some sewing that was necessary. Figuring Frodo had already risen she left her room and walked with light footsteps to his door.*
Aldir: Master, what would you have me do? You do not wish to get up
Rian: *she hears aldir's words and looks to frodo with concern* oh? is something wrong? would you like for me to move the tray to your bed?
Frodo: Yes, Rian, that would be much appreciated.
Frodo: Aldir, I suppose there isn't much for you to could help me sit up to eat this...and then get Ceolwulf
Lilandra: *she hears the voices inside and opens the door, beaming to see everyone...her husband especially*
Aldir: *Why had he been named man-servant? Of all the positions that could have been chosen, this was the one for which he was least suited*
Aldir: *He turns away from the wardrobe, walks over to the bed. He positons the pillows behind Frodo's back and helps him into a sitting position*
Lilandra: *walking in slowly and with soft words* excuse me master
Rian: *she takes the tray from the table and gently places it upon frodo's lap*
Aldir: *He looks to the doorway and his face brightens when he sees his wife come in*
Lilandra: *she tilts her head with concern when she sees he is still in bed*
Frodo: *clenches his jaw as Aldir helps him sit up, then thanks Aldir and Rian for their help*
Frodo: Good morning Lilandra *greets her as she enters*
Aldir: Lilandra, my dear, master is not well!
Lilandra: not well?!
Lilandra: what is wrong?
Aldir: No, he says he is wounded
Lilandra: *she moves over to the bedside*
Aldir: *He looks to her with an expression that says... he is having a fit*
Rian: *she stands near frodo's bed and looks at him with concern and worry, waiting to hear what is wrong*
Lilandra: *she smiles lightly to Rian..glad they are together and looks back down to Frodo*
Aldir: Master is.... He was... wounded and he is recalling his wound I think
Frodo: all remember the Nine, do you not? *figures he should explain this as best he can*
Aldir: *He still stands beside Frodo's bed* We understand, Master. You are distressed, distraught about something
Frodo: They flew over our wain once...oh, Aldir and Lilandra were not with us at that time, though, I think.
Aldir: Surely it shall pass. This is a product of the foul weather we are having. It makes old wounds ache
Aldir: Sometimes my joints ache when the weather is like this
Frodo: Perhaps.
Aldir: *Aldir is visibly embarassed at what he considers to be ravings of someone whose mind is hanging at a balance and is ready to be upset at any moment*
Lilandra: surely there must be something we can do to aid you?
Aldir: Lilandra, he needs a woman's touch, not mine. *He turns away and walks over and stands against the wall*
Frodo: *It is frightening to even say this* I should explain...a year ago today I was journeying into Mordor with the Ring of Power, in order to destroy it...
Frodo: The Nine, the servants of the Dark Lord, pursued me in order to reclaim the Ring.
Frodo: A year ago today they overtook me and wounded me with a morgul blade.
Lilandra: *her eyes move to Aldir as Frodo speaks...she looks to her ring as he speaks of his Ring...she feels uneasy*
Frodo: But I made it to Rivendell, and so survived through the help of Lord Elrond.
Frodo: *sighs* You can believe it if you is true but it doesn't sound that way.
Rian: *rian had heard frodo speak before of the ring and of the nine dreaded kings, and of his failed quest.... many of the other servants did not know quite what to make of frodo's tale*
Frodo: The wound was poisoned, and has never really healed, but it is especially bad today.
Lilandra: *she moves over to the table and moistens a cloth with water and wring it out and moves back to Frodo and swipes it over his forehead as he speaks*
Rian: *some believed it in its entirity, while others thought that he either broke under torture and aided sauron, or aided sauron willingly and then felt guilty about it. in either case, he seemed to have
Rian: been rewarded greatly*
Frodo: And when I was in the Dark Tower, I was branded by the hand of the Dark Lord right over the wound...that was before they started this charade of "Shakh Baggins" *says the name bitterly*
Aldir: *A stern and quiet man by nature, many think him to be remote, aloof and cold. Perhaps that is true. He shares his thoughts with no one except his wife*
Aldir: Master, indeed, that is a strange tale, but I question little here
Lilandra: *she looks upon Frodo...from day one not knowing what to make of him and his tales...his words..he has seemed sincere all this time..but with all the events...she just didnt know what to make of anything...but....she and her husband...they remained unharmed..and that was the most important thing*
Frodo: *sees Lilandra's is understandable.* The proof is on my can look, just be careful. *nods toward his left shoulder*
Lilandra: *she swallows as her fingers hesitate at his collar and then move to seperate the material..slowly...she could not fail her curiosity*
Aldir: *What did he care of this halfling, this "master" whom had been imposed upon him by Vartang? He had been born a free man, and he hoped that he and his wife would die free. Lossarnach was not so very far away from MInas Tirith*
Aldir: *He looks over to the bed while Lilandra is inspecting Frodo's wound. His eyes shift away, disinterested*
Lilandra: *as she looks upon it she remembers her own branding and that horrible time...she closes her eyes and places the material back together* i see Master
Aldir: *What do we care? This halfling is nothing but a pawn of Mordor and we are forced to be servants to him*
Lilandra: *she turns the cloth over and swipes it again over his brow*
Frodo: All right, does that explain it enough for everyone?
Rian: *rian nods.... she believes frodo's story, most of it anyway*
Lilandra: *she nods and closes her eyes then looks him over*
Aldir: *He shifts restlessly on his feet, hoping how soon another session will be over for the day*
Frodo: *tries to smile reassuringly at Rian, then leans back, tired*
Lilandra: *she found this way of existing almost unbearable unlike the other servants who he seemed to favor...they almost all seemed happy together..she was only happy with Aldir*
Rian: *sensing an uneasy silence, rian looks to frodo and asks* master, do you need anything?
Rian: you have barely touched your food....
Frodo: No, Rian...but Aldir, please do get Ceolwulf. I know you would rather trade places with him anyway.
Aldir: *He had seen the wound once before when he had assisted Frodo in dressing. He thought it was unimpressive. He had seen far worse scars from wounds on the battlefield*
Frodo: *forces himself to eat at Rian's request*
Lilandra: *she looks to Aldir...knowing the order came from Vartang...and he was the one with the real power here*
Aldir: *He looks back to Frodo* No, master, I know my duty. It is to stay with you and attend your needs *he says, a tinge of bitterness in his voice*
Frodo: Well, then I suppose I'll be fine...Rian, you can stay if you want.....but can't SOMEONE get Ceolwulf? *feels embarassed for insisting*
Frodo: *suddenly alarmed* Is he even still here?
Rian: *she feels a bit uneasy, sensing that neither aldir nor lilandra have the affection for frodo as do the other servants... but it was very understandable, for they had not known him long*
Lilandra: *she looks down and away at his tone*
Aldir: *He sighs* Master, if you insist, I will fetch him
Lilandra: *she looks up at Aldir*
Lilandra: are you sure?
Lilandra: allowed?
Aldir: *He turns away without a word, goes to the door and opens it and tells the guards he is on a task for his master to go to the barn*
Lilandra: *she sighs*
Lilandra: Master forgive me
Lilandra: *she becomes nervous not knowing what here was allowed and what was not...what she could and couldnt do without punishment*
Lilandra: *watches the door close as Aldir leaves*
Frodo: *looks to Lilandra..he hadn't thought to worry that Vartang would punish Aldir...he feels bad for her*
Narrator: *He goes to the barn, where he finds Ceolwulf grooming one of the horses.* Ceolwulf *he says to him* The halfling is ill and wishes for you to come to see him
Frodo: For what, Lilandra?
Frodo: I understand you are worried about your husband...I should have thought of that
Narrator: *The curry comb still in his hands, Ceolwulf rubs the horse's shoulder and leaves the stall*
Frodo: *Having eaten all he can manage, he pushes the tray toward Rian with his right hand, with another polite smile*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf says to Aldir* That is not allowed while I am tending the horses, but perhaps...*he looks to a stable boy* if Damrod here will finish this grooming, I can go for a bit
Narrator: *The stable boy nods in agreement and Ceolwulf gives him the curry comb and leaves with Aldir*
Lilandra: *she takes the cloth and places it back in the basin...staring into the water*
Frodo: *Then he leans back and closes his eyes. If only this fit would pass and he could be himself again.*
Lilandra: *Master wishes for his conflicted with other orders it seemed*
Rian: *rian steps closer to frodo, smiling nervously. she takes the tray* i shall return this to the kitchen... *she leaves the room, opening the door with one hand, holding the tray with the other, then turning and closing the door when she goes out*
Frodo: *Everyone is gathering in his room...everyone is awkward around him. They needn't be; all he wants is to rest quietly....and Ceolwulf.*
Narrator: *Aldir and Ceolwulf leave the stable grounds and walk to the servants' entrance and into the main hall*
Narrator: *Then they go to Frodo's room. The guards grumble a bit as they open the door for them*
Lilandra: *she smiled as she saw Aldir return..thankful nothing happened*
Aldir: Master, I have brought him *feeling his duty has been completed, at least for the moment, he goes back and stands against the wall, wishing his duties were over for the day and he could be with his wife*
Frodo: Thank you so much!
Aldir: *Lilandra, he thinks, Lilandra... What cruel fate has brought us to this!*
Lilandra: *she moves over to Aldir and stares at him with a hard, concerned stare*
Frodo: *he smiles to Ceolwulf with palpable relief*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, seeing Frodo looks wan and weary, rushes to the bed* Frodo! *he exclaims* Is your old wound acting up!
Frodo: I'm afraid it is.
Ceolwulf: Will anything soothe this vexation?
Frodo: *to everyone else* I'll be fine...if you could leave us alone, please, and....oh, go do whatever it is you want.
Ceolwulf: Hot compresses? Cold compresses? *he thinks of any medical knowledge that he posesses*
Frodo: *sighs, then smiles to try and cover his weariness and bad mood*
Frodo: *turns back to Ceolwulf with another grateful smile* A hot compress might help.
Frodo: *He hadn't wanted to ask the others, knowing they wanted to leave*
Frodo: *and frankly he wanted them to leave too*
Aldir: *At hearing Frodo's word, he looks to Frodo* As master wishes. Do we have your permission to walk through the city?
Frodo: Yes, enjoy yourselves *to Aldir*
Lilandra: *she leans in close to Aldir and whispers low* my love!
Lilandra: what orders are we to follow here?
Aldir: My wife and I enjoy walking in the rain *he looks at Lilandra and smiles*
Aldir: Come, dear *he says* let us revisit the city we know so well
Lilandra: *she takes his hand and looks to him sadly*
Lilandra: *she looks to Frodo...he can see her pain*
Aldir: Master Frodo, if you should wish us again, send a servant for us. We will be on the third level of the city
Lilandra: *she had asked for his friend against orders of Vartang and now asked them to leave...truely they were undersirables to him*
Frodo: *Their pain sends a pang through his mind and he flinches slightly, less able to cover it up than usual. He meets Lilandra's look with great sympathy*
Aldir: We will not go far *he takes his wife by the hand, opens the door for her, and then follows out behind her. He tells the guards that they have permission to leave for a while. He is sure that wherever they go and whatever they do they will be watched and followed by the spies of Vartang*
Aldir: *At the door of the room, they turn and walk back to the western section of the house and go out the servant's door*
Frodo: *nods to Aldir and Lilandra and bids them farewell as they leave*
Frodo: *thankful they are leaving and he will not have to try to put them at ease anymore, in no mood for that today*
Frodo: *once they are gone he leans back and groans, then closes his eyes*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, should I try hot compresses?
Frodo: Please
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf knows that this will be a wicked day. He feels his spirits sink*
Ceolwulf: *He wonders about the three captive girls on this foul rainy day. When he had been assigned to the stable duty by Vartang, he had been almost happy to be once again with his beloved animals*
Ceolwulf: *Still his loyalty to Frodo was deep and he would not ignore a summons, no matter if answering the summons brought him trouble*
Frodo: *Frodo tries to rest, glad that Ceolwulf is here now, but trying not to think about the probability that he will run away to his death soon*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf walks to the window, looks out at the rain falling lightly now. He thinks, a cold day, an evil day*
Ceolwulf: It is still raining, Frodo *he says*
Ceolwulf: Perhaps you are coming down with some malady
Frodo: I hope not.
Frodo: I think it is the old wound, not a malady. Hopefully it will not last long.
Frodo: No more than a day or so...a few days at most....*then his eyes dart to Ceolwulf, whose back is turned, and fill against his will....Ceolwulf will only last that long here, too*
Ceolwulf: Would you like some wine, perhaps heated?
Frodo: *nods to Ceolwulf* All right
Ceolwulf: *He walks to the door, tells one of the guards to go to the kitchen and request that one of the maids bring Frodo heated wine*
Ceolwulf: *Then he comes back and stands by Frodo's bed*
Frodo: *Frodo cannot meet Ceolwulf's eyes for fear of tearing up...he feels like begging Ceolwulf not to leave*
Rian: *soon, rian comes back to frodo's room, carrying a small tray with a goblet of heated spiced wine... she knocks at the door*
Frodo: *lifts his head and looks toward the door, sniffling*
Rian: *rian waits on the other side of the door, wondering if something is wrong... she calls out* my lord? i have your wine...
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf calls* Come in!
Rian: *rian opens the door and walks over to frodo's bed, handing him the goblet, and smiling at him*
Ceolwulf: Rian, when you go back to the kitchen, fetch cloths and have another servant bring heated water. Frodo's old injuries ail him this morning
Rian: *she nods to ceolwulf*
Frodo: Thank you Rian *sips the wine and smiles to her as its warmth helps his chill*
Rian: *she takes the tray with her, going to the kitchen... soon she returns carrying clothes... another woman servant brings a bowl of heated water*
Rian: *they come in the room and place the items on the table near frodo's bed*
Ceolwulf: Now Frodo *Ceolwulf says* that night shirt has to come off
Rian: *rian blushes* ah.... i think that our duties call us in the kitchen. *nervous smile*
Frodo: *looks reluctantly to Ceolwulf, but then obediently sits up more, using his right arm.*
Rian: *rian and the other servant quickly retreat from the room....rian slightly embarassed by the prospect of seeing her master minus his nightshirt.*
Ceolwulf: I know this might hurt you. I will try to be as careful as possible *he says as he assists Frodo in pulling the nightshirt over his head*
Frodo: *a small cry escapes him but it is not as bad as he feared. What will he do without Ceolwulf?*
Ceolwulf: *After helping Frodo with the nightshirt, Ceolwulf goes over to the basin of hot water. He dips cloth into it and wrings it out*
Ceolwulf: *He walks back over to Frodo and slowly lowers the wet heated cloth over the wound on his left shoulder*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, tell me if this is too hot
Frodo: No, it's not too hot.
Frodo: Thank you!
Ceolwulf: *Trying to take Frodo's mind off this wicked day, Ceolwulf begins to tell him a story about his horse, Brightmane*
Frodo: *Frodo listens with pleasure to Ceolwulf's story, but cannot stop thinking about how dear Ceolwulf is to him and how much he will miss him*
Ceolwulf: My horse was as fine a steed as any that was ever foaled in Rohan
Ceolwulf: He was a gangly colt when he was born, all legs, and you would have thought that he would never gain his feet, but he soon did and his mother seemed proud of him as she cleansed his coat with her raspy tongue
Ceolwulf: He grew quickly and was soon racing with the rest of the horse herd across the plains
Ceolwulf: I trained himself, taught him the bit and saddle when he was young
Ceolwulf: *he breaks the story when he notices the heat has left the cloth, and then he takes it back to the bowl, plunges it in the water, brings it out again and puts it on Frodo's wound*
Frodo: *listens intently, watching Ceolwulf's face, trying to impress it indelibly in his mind...he cannot remember Sam's face exactly anymore, it was so familiar*
Frodo: *smiles* I wonder whatever happened to that carving you made of him for me. I have not seen it yet
Ceolwulf: My carving? It must still be with the baggage train
Ceolwulf: But I am sure it will arrive with the rest
Frodo: I hope you will be *his voice cracks* able to present it to me when it is found.
Ceolwulf: The first day I rode him was a proud one for me
Ceolwulf: Frodo, I... I will be here then... I think
Frodo: *looks down, biting his lip and trying to hide his agitation from Ceolwulf, but a small sob escapes him*
Ceolwulf: *And then he can no longer continue with his story. A wave of emotion hits him as he thinks of what he has lost, his family, his friends, his beloved horse, and Elfhild*
Ceolwulf: *He looks over at Frodo, a far away look in his eyes* He was a good horse. May his spirit roam free at last
Frodo: *nods solemnly*
Narrator: *Three figures walk down the hill from the top level towards the third level. Vartang and his two bodyguards*
Narrator: *They pass through the many gates until they reach the street where Frodo's house is*
Narrator: *Then they turn and walk up the lane and through the gate to the main door. The guards bow to them and they pass through*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf goes back again to the bowl and dips the cloth into the water and once again places the cloth on Frodo's wound*
Narrator: *Then the three go through the great hall and the sitting room and soon to the door to Frodo's bedroom*
Narrator: *The guards open the door for them and close it behind them when they walk through. His cloak dripping with water, Vartang walks in the doorway*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf turns to him and bows. Vartang takes off his cloak* Here, slave man, take this and hang it on a peg, and then go back to your tasks!
Vartang: I will excuse you this time but do it again.... *his voice has warning*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Frodo with sad eyes, bows to Frodo and Vartang, opens the door and goes out and back to the stables*
Frodo: *presses his right hand to his eyes, mouthing inaudibly, "Come back!"*
Vartang: Shakh..... *his voice seems to hiss* not feeling well today?
Frodo: *completely ignoring Vartang, Frodo bursts forth with a desperate cry* No! Ceolwulf!! *but Ceolwulf is already gone*
Vartang: Where is your man-servant, Shakh?
Vartang: Are you now being attended to by a stable boy?
Frodo: *rubs his hand over his face, in no condition to deal with Vartang today*
Vartang: *He takes a seat, tells one of his bodyguards to fine the wine cabinet and bring him a goblet*
Frodo: I let him go. I didn't need him. *he replies wearily to Vartang*
Vartang: *He smells the wine, closing his eyes as he does* As always, Shakh, your wine is the best
Frodo: Vartang, I am not well today. Please let me be.
Vartang: *Then he takes a drink* Shakh, what seems to be wrong today?
Frodo: I'm sure you know exactly what is wrong. It's my old wound.
Vartang: Perhaps I should look at it then. *He gets up, still carrying his wine glass in his right hand*
Vartang: *he walks over to the bed, picks up the cloth, tossing it aside and looks down*
Frodo: *Frodo blanches and his chest tightens as an enemy from mordor once again has total power over his physical vulnerabillity*
Vartang: Shakh, is that is all that is wrong with you? This small scar? Your brand almost obscures it
Vartang: *he takes his hand and moves over the outline of the brand* How you have been favored, Shakh
Frodo: Ai! *swats Vartang's hand away
Vartang: Shakh! I am surprised. I was concerned at your plight
Vartang: You say it hurts here? *he pokes the scar with his finger*
Vartang: This is inconsequential!
Frodo: *cries out again, turning red with rage and embarassment*
Frodo: You know what it is *through gritted teeth*
Vartang: Now one of the lads yonder has a REAL scar *He says as he increases the pressure with his fingers*
Frodo: *beads of sweat appear on Frodo's forehead*
Vartang: Lorgag! Show him your scar! *Vartang moves aside as a leering orc walks up to the bed*
Lorgag: *Lorgag smiles at Frodo and shows his yellow teeth.* Me guts were almost cut out
Lorgag: *He pulls up his tunic, revealing a hideous, jagged scar across his stomach*
Frodo: *grimaces, pressing his right hand to his mouth*
Lorgag: Matey, that scar on your shoulder is nothing. *The orc walks over to Frodo, looks down at him and studies the wound*
Lorgag: *He takes a taloned finger and probes the scar*
Lorgag: *The orc blows his fetid breath in Frodo's face and shows his teeth again, displaying several of the bottom teeth, which are rotting snags*
Frodo: *cries out again when the talon probes his scar, which from the beginning has been much worse than it looks, once even prompting Sam to ask Aragorn what was wrong with such a little scar*
Vartang: That is enough, lad. The shakh is impressed
Frodo: *Holds his breath and mentally balls into himself, trying to remember the skills he learned in Lugburz for enduring this kind of situation*
Lorgag: *Lorgag lowers his tunic and walks back and stands against the wall*
Vartang: Shakh, you should not cry about such a trifle
Vartang: Take your wounds like a man!
Frodo: *concentrates on ignoring Vartang*
Narrator: *Outside the rain begins to slacken and the sun casts a rainbow in the clouds*
Vartang: Shakh, the rain is slowing down
Vartang: I had come here for a purpose today, not merely to cheer you
Frodo: *Frodo's face is still contorted, his mind racing*
Frodo: *He tries to listen to Vartang*
Vartang: *he lifts his wine goblet to his mouth and downs the rest of it. He walks back to the table and pours himself a goblet and sits down in a chair*
Vartang: Shakh, if the weather should clear, I thought today would be appropriate to take you for a tour of the city
Frodo: Oh no! Not today!
Vartang: Shakh, the fresh air would do you good
Vartang: You cannot lie about all the time and give into every ache
Frodo: Vartang, I'm sick, I can't do it today.
Vartang: Nonsense, Shakh! Have some determination
Frodo: What about tomorrow?
Vartang: No, today *he says, his voice filled with laughing malice*
Vartang: Lads! Dress the shakh! Dress him in his finery!
Narrator: *The orcs smile and lumber over to Frodo's wardrobe, where they paw through his clothing, finally selecting black breeches, black shirt, black waistcoat and a black cloak and hood and black boots*
Frodo: *Frodo's anger lends him an adrenaline rush that helps him steel himself for what he knows is coming*
Lorgag: *lorgag throws the clothes down on the bed and moves closer to frodo, smiling at him with a sadistic leer*
Vartang: *Vartang drinks his wine and watches with a malicious smile on his face*
Lorgag: *lorgag reaches down, grabs frodo's leg and hoists him up, then pushes him down on his back, making sure frodo's legs jut up in the air*
Lorgag: *the orc pushes the breeches down over frodo's legs, then grabbing frodo by the left shoulder, hoists him up again, pulling his breeches all the way up and fastening them*
Bronash: *Bronash moves on the other side of the bed and holds Frodo still as he struggles. He laughs a bit*
Frodo: *Frodo tries to detach himself from this process as much as possible, but cannot help some cries at the worst parts*
Lorgag: *lorgag moves back for the other orc, looking at frodo with a triumphant expression*
Bronash: *he spins Frodo around roughly and breaths on him with foul breath as he looks at the wound and then presses it for fun to watch him shout*
Bronash: *he laughs with Lorgag*
Frodo: *He has a strange sense of surreality, as this seems like part of his Lugburz imprisonment, not the charade that has been his life for the succeeding months*
Lorgag: *lorgag laughs with sadistic glee at the hobbit's pain and struggle*
Bronash: *he forces Frodo's shirt on over his head, puposely entangling and ripping strands of his hair out as he does so*
Bronash: *he bends Frodo's arms in painful awkward angles as he pulls on his waistcoat and fastens it*
Lorgag: *how strange it is, he thinks... the lads usually rip the clothes off their captives and torture them... now they are torturing frodo by putting his clothes on him*
Bronash: aint he 'andsome?
Bronash: *laughs loudly*
Frodo: *Frodo is alternately rigid with tension and limp with exhaustion in their hands*
Lorgag: *he looks frodo over* aye, mate, e sure is andsome! a dapper little fellow, if i do say so meself! *he laughs*
Bronash: such an easy task to dress the lil fellow
Frodo: *Frodo lies prone on the bed, his hair plastered to his forehead, panting and half conscious*
Lorgag: *he reaches over on the bed and picks up frodo's boots. he grabs frodo's leg roughly and jams the boot on his foot... then grabs the other foot and jams that boot on*
Lorgag: e must be mighty popular with all the lasses of the land of the rat-folk! *he chuckles*
Bronash: *he laughs* aye indeed
Bronash: 'e mus not like the lasses ere...they be too tall for 'im me thinks *laughs*
Lorgag: *he laughs wildly and slaps his thigh* aye, e's a short little bugger, ain't e?
Bronash: *he takes the cloak and sits him up on the bed and puts it over his head*
Bronash: i take em no matter what...short...tall
Bronash: *laughs wildly and elbows his mate*
Lorgag: ah, mate! e's all ready to go now! *he chuckles... takes a step closer to frodo, and roughly smooths down his shirt and waistcoat*
Lorgag: *he steps back and admires their work* good show, mate!
Bronash: indeed! well done!
Vartang: That is good, lads
Frodo: *Frodo scoots backwards to avoid falling back onto his pillow...that would incite them to manhandle him more. He leans back against the headboard, paling and flushing, shock bursting in his head*
Vartang: Shakh, since your new manservant has proved unsatisfactory, perhaps he should be replaced by Lorgag and Bronash?
Bronash: *he beams with a leer*
Bronash: a promotion!
Frodo: *unable to speak yet he shakes his head*
Lorgag: aye, a promotion!
Vartang: Aye, lads, you are coming up in the world
Vartang: *He finishes his wine* Bronash, another
Lorgag: *his task of dressing frodo completed, he goes and stands by the wall*
Bronash: *he hurries and refills the goblet*
Frodo: No....please....*he pants, reduced to begging for mercy frightens and infuriates him*
Vartang: *He takes the goblet from Bronash's hand and drinks it and then looks out the window*
Vartang: The sky is clearing, Shakh
Bronash: *he moves next to Lorgag* aww we be not celebratin a promotion *he laughs again*
Frodo: *Frodo's shock is wearing off. He starts to tremble from the rush of emotions that flood into its place*
Vartang: *He takes another drink from his goblet* Aye, the lads will make fine assistants to your manservant
Vartang: They have had a hard lot in the war. It will do them both good to have house duty
Lorgag: *lorgag grins wickedly*
Frodo: A! Elbereth! *groans under his breath, wanting Ceolwulf even more*
Vartang: Lads, by all the authority that has been placed upon me, I promote you now to Pizgal
Vartang: There will be an increase in both food and pay
Bronash: *he shouts triumphantly*
Lorgag: thank you, shakh! thank you! *he bows*
Bronash: *he bows* Aye Thank you
Frodo: *They seem to be finished with him so he lowers himself back to the bed and lies there wishing they would all go away*
Vartang: Now lads, let us show him the city
Vartang: *He finishes the rest of his goblet and stands up*
Vartang: Pick him up and carry him!
Lorgag: *rushes to frodo, grabs him and throws him over his shoulder like a sack*
Bronash: *he moves behind Lorgag and looks to Frodo's face*
Bronash: you will get the best treatment
Frodo: *blinks hard and squints at the orc*
Vartang: Go before me and open the door
Lorgag: *he walks towards the door and opens it for vartang and bronash*
Bronash: *he steps through with them*
Vartang: *He walks through and the guards outside the door bow to him. Then he walks down the hall, through the sitting room and into the great hall*
Frodo: *is carried, slung over Lorgag's shoulder*
Vartang: *Then he, the two orcs and Frodo go out the main door of the house, walk down the lane and onto the street*
Lorgag: *as they walk, he begins to sing a drinking song in black speech, peppered with many interesting expressions*
Bronash: don't you feel better already Shakh?
Bronash: Aye! that is a good one lad!
Bronash: *joins him*
Lorgag: *he sings more robustly than ever, beaming with pride*
Frodo: *is still trying to detach himself from all this. He tries to picture Bag End in his mind*
Bronash: *spit flies from his mouth as he sings with enthusiasm*
Vartang: *Vartang leads the way on the street to face the east. There are stairs going up to the wall, and he directs them to follow him up the stairs. Soon, all three and Frodo stand upon the city walls*
Vartang: Lorgag, put the Shakh down so that he can turn east and see
Lorgag: *lorgag grabs frodo around the waist with both hands, rips him from his shoulder, throws him up in the air, catching him, and then drops him about a foot from the ground*
Frodo: *lands heavily, then sits there dazed*
Vartang: Bronash, help the Shakh. He is weak
Frodo: *He tries to think which way is east...*
Vartang: Brogash, the Shakh is so impressed by this moment that he has no wits about him. Get him to his feet and point him east!
Bronash: *he hoists him up and steadies him by the shoulders, facing him east*
Frodo: *obliged to lean heavily into the orc's hands, he lifts his head slowly and looks to the east*
Frodo: *It takes some time for things to stop swimming before his eyes*
Narrator: *Down below them on the plain, there arises a huge structure of black stone capped with a silver dome*
Narrator: *No other building is built near to it. Broad avenues from all points of the compass lead to gates*
Vartang: Shakh, behold the Temple
Vartang: It will be completed by the spring solstice
Frodo: Temple...?
Frodo: *his head is still clearing*
Bronash: *his grin widens upon his face*
Vartang: Aye, Shakh, one of the great works of my Master. A Temple to Melkor and Sauron
Frodo: *gasps, then falls silent as he gazes toward the temple in sadness and grief*
Vartang: And you shall be present at the dedication ceremony as an honored guest hailed by all
Frodo: What!
Vartang: Exactly as I said, Shakh. The temple will be completed by spring
Frodo: Oh!
Vartang: It shall be five hundred feet in height, a marvel rivaling only the one on Numenor
Frodo: *desperate, he turns to Vartang* Oh, Vartang, I cannot do this. I'll do anything to avoid going there!
Vartang: You shall be one of the favored ones at the first sacrifice
Frodo: Sacrifice! *sways in the orc's grip*
Vartang: Those deemed worthy to be offered have already been selected
Bronash: *he pulls him up and holds him still*
Vartang: The first sacrifice shall be kindled by the wood of the White Tree
Vartang: Appropriate, don't you think, Shakh?
Frodo: *The increased pain of being pulled up and Vartang's news combine to shock him into a swoon*
Lorgag: *takes a flask of orc draught from his belt. with one hand he pulls frodo's head up, with the other hand he leans the lip of the flask to frodo's mouth, forcing it open, and pouring orc draught comes to coughing*
Frodo: *sits up slowly*
Vartang: *He turns to Frodo* Perhaps, Shakh, you would like to be the one to kindle the blaze? *he laughs sarcastically*
Frodo: Never *he hisses*
Vartang: As you will, Shakh. You can decline the honor, but you will be there. Make no mistake
Frodo: *He felt utter despair at the orcs and man towering over him, but Vartang's taunt rekindled his rebellion*
Vartang: One of your women shall be among the dancers in the Temple on this first day of celebration. Then she shall be returned to you
Frodo: Arnasa!
Vartang: Aye, she is worthy of the honor
Frodo: What about Elfhild and Elffled? *asks half hopefully, half terrified*
Vartang: *His eyes beam with malicious glee* They have another purpose, Shakh, another purpose indeed
Frodo: But they are safe?
Frodo: Will they be kept safe?
Vartang: Shakh, would those of Mordor ever lie to you?
Frodo: Will they be returned to us?!
Frodo: When will they be returned to us?! *his voice rises in intensity*
Vartang: In time, Shakh, and in a bettered condition
Frodo: They will be returned?!
Vartang: In the spring
Frodo: Do I have your word on that?
Vartang: At the solstice
Frodo: Oh! *his eyes fill and he closes them, clasping his hands in joy. Wait till he tells Ceolwulf! He will not run now!*
Vartang: Certainly, Shakh... I give you my word *he laughs*
Frodo: *puts his left arm down immediately, sensing the strain of lifting it*
Vartang: At the solstice, they will be given back to you
Frodo: *Despite his recent torment, Frodo is radiant at this news...he has temporarily forgotten the temple before his eyes*
Vartang: Lads, take the Shakh back to his hall
Vartang: *He turns from the wall and starts down the steps*
Bronash: *he lifts him up and tosses him to Lorgag and laughs*
Bronash: catch!
Lorgag: *catches frodo and laughs even louder, then throws him over his shoulder and starts for the steps* good throw, mate!
Bronash: Thank you
Vartang: *He leads them down the steps and back to the street walking west until they reach the lane to Frodo's house*
Vartang: *They walk up the lane and into the great hall, through the sitting room and back to Frodo's bedroom*
Lorgag: *he walks over to frodo's bed and roughly deposits the hobbit upon it.* oh! pardon me, i almost forgot. *he grabs the cloak and yanks it over frodo's head, then throws the cloak over a nearby chair*
Bronash: are we not the best servants you can ask for Shakh?
Lorgag: *chuckling to himself, he walks over to the wall and waits*
Bronash: we sing...we treat you well..carry you
Frodo: leave me alone! *he moans*
Bronash: not a scratch
Vartang: Lads, he doesn't like his new servant, but I am sure he will learn to appreciate the two of you
Bronash: *laughs and moves over to the wall*
Bronash: it takes true servants of Mordor to serve Shakh
Frodo: *ponders how to speak privately to Ceolwulf without getting him in trouble*
Bronash: that is what Shakh wants
Narrator: *Ceolwulf bends down and picks up one of the horse's forelegs. He puts the leg between his knees, holding it there with one hand, and with the other, he uses the small pick to clean the horse's hoof*
Narrator: *Finishing with that leg, he goes to the horse's other foreleg, picks it up, and begins to clean the hoof with the pick*
Vartang: Shakh, I must be leaving you now. You will be in good hands with the lads
Frodo: I...don't need them now. not send Rian in?
Lorgag: *he looks over to frodo, his eyes gleaming. a small rumbling noise issues forth from his stomach. he licks his lips hungerly*
Bronash: *grins as he looks to Frodo* heh yes...why not?
Vartang: Shakh, I am sorry that your other servant did not prove suitable, but these are good lads
Vartang: They are very loyal to their master, aren't you, lads?
Lorgag: aye, shakh! quite loyal!
Bronash: very loyal, unlike the man
Bronash: *shakes his head* failed his duties he did. we wont
Vartang: No, you two lads never fail your duties
Lorgag: aye! we is always loyal, we is
Bronash: always *grins wider to Frodo*
Vartang: *Vartang walks over to the door, takes his still wet cloak off the peg, folds it over his left arm*
Lorgag: *he rushes over to the door and opens it for vartang, bowing low*
Bronash: *bows to Vartang as he readies to leave*
Frodo: *Frodo wonders how to get rid of the orcs*
Vartang: *Before going out the door, he turns back to them and says* Be gentle with him, lads. Be gentle *he laughs*
Bronash: Aye! We will
Vartang: *he walks out the door and down the hall*
Frodo: *He won't get any rest with them here, and he certainly won't be able to talk with Ceolwulf*
Lorgag: *lorgag's stomach growls louder, and he rubs it... his eyes turn towards frodo... a smile slowly spreads across his face*
Bronash: *He looks around his room* your room be still a mess
Bronash: you should have your lady servants come by... tidy up a bit
Frodo: *stares warily at the orcs, too afraid of them to feel the total effect of his ordeal yet*
Lorgag: aye! ave yer she-snaga come by! we like she-snaga, we like them a lot!
Bronash: *looks over to Lorgag and grins*
Narrator: *Up on the third level of the city, Aldir and Lilandra look at the spot where their house once stood*
Frodo: *Frodo ponders this. He would like Rian to be here, but he certainly doesn't want her leered at by these monsters*
Narrator: *Now there is only rubble in this place, tumbled stones and burnt timbers. They look at the rubble sadly and then Aldir says* We should be going back
Narrator: *He holds her by the arm as he guides her back on the street and to the lane going to Frodo's house. Both of them are silent as they walk and think of old memories that lie heavy upon the minds of both.*
Narrator: *They go through the servant's door, through the Great Hall and then to Frodo's room*
Narrator: *The guards at the door laugh at them and say* There have been a few changes since you went on your walk. Go in and see for yourselves!
Narrator: *The guards open the door for them and they walk through*
Frodo: *It is apparent that Frodo is much worse than he was this morning, and he still watches the orcs fearfully*
Lilandra: *she gasps a bit and moves in closer to Aldir*
Lorgag: *lorgag looks over at the man and woman who come in the room* 'ail snagas! you've been replaced!
Lilandra: replaced?
Lorgag: *he slaps his thigh and laughs loudly*
Lilandra: *looks over to Frodo*
Lorgag: aye! the shakh appointed us as is personal servants!
Frodo: *looks to Aldir and Lilandra with sadness and desperation, still traumatized*
Lilandra: *her mouth parts and no words escape*
Aldir: *He holds Lilandra's arm tightly* By the order of Vartang, I have been replaced?
Lorgag: aye, you are inadequate *he laughs again*
Lilandra: *her eyebrows furrow as she becomes angry*
Aldir: *he looks at the orc* Perhaps I am *he says carefully*
Frodo: *closes his eyes, sighs*
Frodo: *Did he have to put it that way?*
Lilandra: my husband is not inadequate!
Aldir: Lilandra *he says and moves her back towards the door* you should leave
Lilandra: he was greater than any of you here!
Frodo: Indeed he is not. I much prefer him to you fiends *he hisses at the orcs*
Lorgag: *he glares at her* watch your mouth, she-snaga, or else you won't ave a tongue to speak yer foul words!
Aldir: *He opens the door behind him, dragging her with him*
Aldir: *The guards outside are taken aback. He whispers in her ear* Run
Lilandra: *through grates teeth she hisses* what is going on here? no!
Aldir: I will attend to them
Lilandra: i will not leave you!
Lilandra: no Aldir! please!
Aldir: Yes, you will!
Aldir: Now do as I said, run!
Frodo: *He hears them plotting something. Not another one with a death wish!*
Lilandra: then leave with me *she clings to him*
Aldir: No!
Lilandra: i will not have you seperated from me again
Aldir: Let me deal with them!
Lilandra: you will be punished...*she nearly begs him*
Aldir: I think not *he says as he releases her arm and pushes her gently*
Frodo: Aldir! *he calls* What are you DOING? Please don't do anything desperate!
Aldir: Have confidence in me. Run
Lilandra: *she pants with wide eyes and her skin pales*
Narrator: *The guards at the door laugh at them again*
Aldir: *He says to the guards at the door* I just wanted to celebrate with my "replacements"
Aldir: I did not like the duty anyway and they would be better to it than I
Aldir: *he whispers to her again* Run
Frodo: *His turmoil is heightened if that is possible. Another man trying to get himself killed!*
Lilandra: *she looks to Aldir with tears in her eyes and hesitantly moves fast down the hall*
Aldir: *He watches as she runs down the hall, then goes through the door. The guards offer no opposition and close it behind him*
Lorgag: *lorgag looks the man up and down. a big brute he is, would provide good sport and a good meal. he smiles* oh? so you've come back, matey?
Lilandra: *she runs to her quarters and opens the door fast and shuts it and falls to her knees with wailing sobs as she stares at the door....waiting*
Frodo: *watches Aldir nervously*
Aldir: Yes, how could I turn down an opportunity to talk with two such intelligent uruks as you are
Lorgag: you speak mighty fine words for a thrall. well... come and entertain us! *he laughs*
Aldir: Indeed, I am a thrall and know my place, and I am also quite lazy
Frodo: *sensing that there is no danger at the present moment, he closes his eyes, but keeps listening*
Aldir: And there is nothing I enjoy more than a bottle of wine. Let's celebrate
Lorgag: alright, snaga!
Lilandra: *she scolds herself for letting him go through with this..but she had to trust him...oh! if he never came back to her! she clenches her dress and feels the object in her pocket*
Lilandra: *she had not worn it for fear what it might do...but carried it with her in case she needed it...she takes out the necklace she received in Mias Morgul and cries harder at her dealt fate and screams and throws it at the door*
Aldir: The Shakh has an ample supply of wine in his cabinet. He is generous
Lorgag: *his beedy yellow eyes look at the man* then go over to the cabinet and get a few bottles, and we'll ave a good ole time.
Aldir: Soldiers, weren't you?
Frodo: *Frodo is infinitely grateful to Aldir for distracting the orcs so he can rest, albeit briefly*
Lorgag: aye, snaga, we was soldiers
Frodo: *But Aldir is up to something, so Frodo continues listening intently*
Aldir: *He goes over to the wine cabinet, takes out two goblets, fills them up, then walks to the orcs and extends the goblets to them*
Lorgag: *he takes the goblet* many thanks, snaga, finally you do something of use.
Aldir: Glad to be of service. Perhaps the guards outside would like to join the party
Aldir: There is plenty here for all
Lorgag: aye, there is. invite em in!
Frodo: *wonders what in the name of Elbereth Aldir is doing*
Aldir: *He goes to the door and opens it, wonder how he should address the guards*
Aldir: Worthy masters *he says and bows to them* Come in. The others are celebrating their promotion. Come in and join them
Narrator: *The guards come in the room, look around at the others and see them with wine goblets* Ai! A celebration!
Lorgag: aye, the snaga wants to celebrate our promotion!
Lorgag: *he sits down at the table*
Bronash: *he sits and leans his chair back on two legs*
Narrator: True enough, master, for I did not like the duty
Bronash: See Shakh...unworthy
Aldir: And I would rather you have it than I. Who wants to be slave to a dwarf?
Lorgag: *he scowls a bit*
Aldir: Let me get you some wine
Bronash: *glares at Aldir*
Frodo: *Frodo frowns too, but lets it pass*
Aldir: *He goes back to the cabinet, pours two more goblets and takes them and hands them to the guards and bows to them*
Lorgag: *begins drinking his wine*
Bronash: *he lifts his goblet and looks to Lorgag* to our promotion!
Aldir: *he goes back and looks inside the cabinet* There are many bottles here. Perhaps each one of you would like your own bottle?
Frodo: *wonders how Aldir manages to treat orcs this way, the orcs who probably helped conquer his homeland. Frodo is sure it is an act, but marvels nonetheless*
Bronash: Aye! these goblets be too small
Lorgag: aye! make yourself useful and bring us all a bottle!
Aldir: *he takes a corkscrew from the cabinet and opens four bottles and brings them over to the table*
Aldir: Drink up, masters!
Frodo: *grins when he realizes what Aldir is doing: getting the orcs drunk!*
Bronash: Shakh *looks to the others in the room* yer company improves
Lorgag: rrrmm thanks! *he downs the remainder of his goblet of wine and picks up a bottle and begins to drink*
Frodo: So it seems!
Frodo: *looks gratefully to Aldir*
Aldir: If you want more, good masters, there are plenty of bottles. I can even go fetch more if you wish it
Bronash: *he drinks deeply and fast and sloppily*
Lorgag: *he swills the bottle of wine*
Bronash: *he burps and glares to Aldir* heh...have yer wife deliver em
Bronash: *he laughs and looks to the others*
Bronash: pity she had to leave us so soon
Aldir: I am sorry, worthy master, but my wife is ill and had to lie down
Bronash: *he grins wickedly* yes...she better lie down then
Bronash: *he clangs his bottle with Lorgag's*
Aldir: but you would find her most unworthy to be in such illustrious company
Lorgag: a toast to shakh baggins! *he laughs as the bottles clink*
Frodo: *opens his eyes halfway to glare at the orcs*
Bronash: Lorgag! sing us that one...about *laughs and makes lewd gestures*
Bronash: you know the one!
Aldir: *he wonders what Frodo has done to bring this upon him*
Lorgag: ohhhh that one! *he laughs and begins to sing, loudly and off key*
Bronash: aye! that be it!
Bronash: it just...popped in my mind
Bronash: *he looks to Aldir and smiles*
Lorgag: *takes another swig of the bottle and sings louder*
Aldir: *He bears all their taunts silently* Drink up *he says*
Bronash: *sings along with him and wine spills from his mouth as he joins in singing*
Aldir: *The four bottles are quickly consumed, and Aldir gets them replacements*
Aldir: To your promotion!
Bronash: to our promotion!
Lorgag: *he clinks the new bottle with brognash's and the guards* aye! to our *slurs* promotion!
Aldir: Do you any of you fine specimens know how to read runes?
Lorgag: aye.... ive written me runes on many a prisoner's worthless carcass! har har!
Bronash: *he lets his chair fall to all 4 feet and laughs*
Bronash: 'e thinks we be stupid
Lorgag: they never appreciate me writin on them though... *he looks saddened*
Lorgag: *takes another drink from the bottle*
Bronash: that because you be carvin it in*laughs*
Frodo: *Frodo remembers the time an orc who tortured him tried to write his name on Frodo's stomach with a dagger as a wicked jest*
Aldir: Then if any of you can read, perhaps you can read the writing on this worthless ring I have on my finger?
Lorgag: i reckon i could, and write some more runes on yer finger!
Lorgag: *he laughs and drinks some more*
Bronash: *drains the rest of his bottle*
Aldir: *He looks to Lorgag* I am quite sure you could, but before you do, could you read the writing? I cannot read it
Aldir: *he extends his hand*
Lorgag: *he peers down at the ring* it says yer master is frodo baggins, the friend of sauron
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes open at that*
Aldir: I am an ignorant man. What does it mean?
Lorgag: *he looks the man in the eye* that your master is frodo baggins, the friend of sauron.
Frodo: *Frodo realizes Aldir is hinting that Frodo should use his ring*
Frodo: *He sees Aldir giving him meaningful glances about the now partly oblivious orcs*
Aldir: Majesties, would you like another bottle?
Lorgag: aye, snaga, more wine for all!
Bronash: keep em coming!
Frodo: *Frodo concentrates on his ring and tries to make the orcs pass out from all their wine*
Lorgag: *feels suddenly very drowsy*
Bronash: *he places his elbows on the table and rests his chin in his palm*
Lorgag: *he leans back, belching loudly and then yawning. then he scoots down in the chair, his belly protruding. he scratches it lazily*
Bronash: *he practically holds his head up now with his hands*
Narrator: *The guards from the door begin to get sleepy and nod, one slumps back in his chair, dropping the wine bottle in the floor. His head rolls back, exposing his gaping mouth*
Lorgag: *he tilts his head back, resting it on the back of his chair and begins to snore loudly, dreaming of biting into the juicy leg of a fat gondorian*
Bronash: *his arms fail and his forehead slumps to his fallen arms on the leg sliding out in front of him*
Lorgag: *his leg jerks in his sleep and he mumbles something unintelligible*
Narrator: *All the guards appear to sleep soundly*
Aldir: *He walks over to Frodo* Sleeping like babies
Aldir: *he looks down at him* What did you do to cause this?
Lilandra: *she stayed on her knees, waiting, looking at the door for some time and crying..listening to the silence and wondering if that was a good sign..but what was happening inside that room?*
Aldir: Master, did you really want them to replace me?
Frodo: Of course not!
Aldir: I go for a walk with wife and when I come back, I find I am replaced by orcs
Frodo: It was Vartang's doing
Aldir: Then I would suggest if you do not want to keep them that you pen a letter begging Vartang to dismiss them
Frodo: *Frodo laughs bitterly*
Frodo: That would do no good. I already begged him not to keep them with me
Aldir: But now at least you are safe from them a while
Frodo: Yes. Thank you so much, Aldir, I cannot thank you enough!
Aldir: Then since I am dismissed and you are safe, I will go back with my wife and go to our room
Frodo: Wait...could you do me one favor before that, or get someone else to do it so you can be with your wife?
Frodo: I need to speak to Ceolwulf
Aldir: Master, what is the urgency?
Frodo: but these orcs have been tormenting me and I'm too tired to walk that would be a wonderful help if someone could carry me
Frodo: It is...a mad plan he has, that needs to be stopped.
Aldir: It is a mad plan to leave you alone with four orcs, drunk though they might be
Frodo: Then take me out of here, please!
Lorgag: *snores loudly, then makes soft snarling sounds, snores some more*
Aldir: They might wake up at any moment
Bronash: *his teeth grind in his sleep*
Aldir: Perhaps I should take you instead to the King's House
Aldir: So you can beg Vartang's pardon
Aldir: But have it as you will, I will take you to see Ceolwulf
Frodo: Beg his pardon? For what?
Aldir: Master, if you do not wish to keep those brutes as your servants, you will tell him anything
Frodo: *ponders this*
Aldir: *he goes over and picks up Frodo, putting him on his shoulders*
Frodo: You are a very intelligent man, Aldir, but my mind is foggy, and I am not following you. What do you mean?
Aldir: *Then he walks across the room and ducking under the doorway, he takes him through the building and out to the stables*
Aldir: Master, all I know is I go for a walk, I come back, I find I am replaced by two orcs
Frodo: Vartang prefers them because of the roughness with which they treated me.
Aldir: You have angered Vartang
Frodo: When is he ever not angry with me?
Aldir: They are all angry at anything
Aldir: So we buy a little time so you can see Ceolwulf and bring more misery to us all
Frodo: No, Aldir, I will not be long. But if I do not do this Ceolwulf will run away *lowers his voice* and that will truly bring more misery on us all.
Narrator: *Ceolwulf now brushes the coat of another horse and turns around as Aldir and Frodo come in the door. Aldir sets Frodo down*
Frodo: *whispers* He will surely die if he carries out his plan. I must dissuade him.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf turns away from the horse and looks at Frodo*
Frodo: *Frodo leans against the stable wall*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, why are you here? *he shakes his head*
Frodo: I must talk to you
Ceolwulf: What is so important that you must come to the stables?
Frodo: Please let us talk privately for a minute *to everyone but Ceolwulf*
Frodo: This is important, very important
Aldir: *Aldir excuses himself and goes outside the stable door*
Frodo: *sits on the ground, leaning his back against the wall*
Frodo: *lowers his voice* We must talk in secret
Ceolwulf: *he finishes brushing the horse's coat, pats it on the shoulders and walks over to Frodo*
Ceolwulf: There is no one now to hear us but the horses and they talk only to each other
Frodo: *smiles*
Frodo: I have news from Vartang
Ceolwulf: Nothing of good report, I wager
Frodo: No, this is good....there is sadness in it but also joy
Frodo: Elfhild and Elffled will be returned to us at the spring solstice!
Frodo: And Arnasa before that
Ceolwulf: Frodo, that is five months away
Ceolwulf: Five long months
Frodo: And if you are dead in five months, you will not be here when she arrives.
Frodo: If you wait five months you have a chance at finally winning her
Frodo: If you go to your death you have no chance.
Ceolwulf: *he looks up and studies the barn rafters intently*
Frodo: *watches him earnestly*
Ceolwulf: *Then he looks back at Frodo* I promised a week
Frodo: The week no longer matters, now that we know for sure she will return
Ceolwulf: That I would wait for seven days... *his voice tapers off*
Frodo: It would now be complete madness to throw your life away meaninglessly, to forfeit any chance of happiness with her, for nothing!
Ceolwulf: Seven days and three have passed, and you say now spring?
Frodo: Thank the valar you are still here, and thank you
Ceolwulf: And then they will say the summer, and then the autumn
Frodo: Spring, or never
Frodo: If you carry out your plan, you will make SURE you never see her again.
Frodo: Here, you have hope!
Ceolwulf: Do not hold me to my promise after seven days
Frodo: *growing irritated* Why do you not see this!
Ceolwulf: I do not believe them. They will break their word
Frodo: Even if it turns out to be the autumn, what am I to tell her...
Ceolwulf: I would rather perish in trying than trying not at all
Frodo: when she returns and you are not here?
Frodo: You would kill her, Ceolwulf! She returns after long months of imprisonment, hoping for a sight of you
Frodo: The image of you in her mind has sustained her all that time
Frodo: and I must then tell her you are dead?
Ceolwulf: Frodo, I have work to do.....
Ceolwulf: *He turns away from Frodo and walks to another stall*
Frodo: If you love her you will stay and await her return!
Frodo: *struggles to his feet and follows him*
Ceolwulf: I will do what I must *he says*
Frodo: You must stay and wait for her!!! You must endure this suffering in order to comfort her when she returns, to avoid breaking her heart!
Frodo: You must love her enough not to die!
Ceolwulf: My heart is already broken *he says as he begins to brush another horse*
Frodo: Oh, Ceolwulf...*he sighs, and slides down the wall again*
Ceolwulf: You see this fine animal? *he asks*
Frodo: *dully* yes...I see it
Ceolwulf: All I need is one such as he, some food and a good sword
Ceolwulf: I will be all right, Frodo.
Frodo: Yes, and all that will vanquish not only the fiend who frightened everyone at Pelennor but his Eight servants and all their lesser wraiths, orcs, and men.
Ceolwulf: *he brushes the horse's already glistening coat*
Frodo: Why if he wounds you like he wounded me, you could end up as a wraith yourself!
Ceolwulf: *He rests his arm on the horse's back and then turns again to Frodo*
Ceolwulf: There are worse things, Frodo, but the worst thing of all is to die without honor. Let me have at least that
Frodo: Do you know what lack of honor is?
Frodo: Lack of honor is breaking Elfhild's heart because you would not wait for her!
Frodo: Why do you still call yourself a coward? You saved my life, and you almost died in the process!
Frodo: Everyone else cowered including me but you leapt in front of me and took an arrow
Ceolwulf: Elfhild and her sister are probably doomed already
Frodo: No, they are not, there is hope, they will return, but if you go, there is no hope.
Frodo: You cannot survive this attempt
Frodo: You cannot!
Ceolwulf: Frodo... *he says I must do what my own code of honor say sfor me to do*
Frodo: *leans his head on his right hand and slumps, exhausted*
Ceolwulf: Frodo... *he says* I must do what my own code of honor say sfor me to do
Ceolwulf: Seven days, and then.....
Frodo: Any true code of honor would bind you to stand by those you love
Frodo: You love Elfhild---wait for her
Ceolwulf: *He looks at him with an angry look on his face* I am standing by. That is why I am going!
Frodo: *shouts angrily with tears in his eyes* You will be no good to her dead! You will be no good to anyone dead!
Ceolwulf: I will not die! *he begins to shout*
Frodo: There are things even one as brave as you cannot stand against! No man no matter how strong can stand against an entire army!
Ceolwulf: At least if I die *he says* there will be others who die with me!
Frodo: What?
Ceolwulf: I will kill every last one I can between here and the city
Frodo: You will kill yourself too, and her, and me!
Ceolwulf: Do not try to stop me, Frodo, for nothing can!
Ceolwulf: Do not try to dissuade me! My ears are stopped
Ceolwulf: Let us talk no more of this
Frodo: *pauses, hiding his face and starting to cry, but trying to hide it from Ceolwulf*
Frodo: No, I must tell you another thing
Frodo: Vartang has replaced Aldir with two orcs
Frodo: Great brutes they are
Ceolwulf: Why? *he asks and starts brushing the horse again*
Frodo: They tormented me today, probing my wound and treating me roughly.
Frodo: To torture me, why do you think?
Frodo: Don't leave me here with them!
Ceolwulf: Then go with me Frodo
Ceolwulf: Leave with me tonight
Frodo: *sobs openly*
Frodo: And leave Rian, and Aldir and Lilandra?
Frodo: Leave Elfhild and Elffled to a master like Vartang when they return?
Frodo: Don't do this to me, Ceolwulf!
Frodo: Stay! Please, please!
Ceolwulf: I can't, Frodo
Ceolwulf: Four days. I will leave silently
Ceolwulf: No one will know I am gone until morning and perhaps there will be two less orcs... or more
Ceolwulf: They will soon miss you back at the house. Go with Aldir. Go to your hall and stay there
Ceolwulf: These orcs would not dare hurt you
Ceolwulf: Aldir *he calls* take him back, my friend
Frodo: They would not dare hurt me? That's what they have been doing all day. But not nearly as badly as you hurt me!
Frodo: *Frodo gets up and stumbles over to Ceolwulf. He takes Ceolwulf's arm, gently this time, and leans his forehead against it again for a short moment*
Frodo: *Then he releases it and looks up to Ceolwulf with infinite sadness as he backs away*
Frodo: *He makes his way outside, to Aldir, and speaks to him in a low voice*
Ceolwulf: *He brushes the horse's broad hips*
Frodo: Aldir.....*agonized* Ceolwulf has gone mad!....and he...he....
Frodo: *wipes his eyes*
Ceolwulf: *Then down his legs and finishing that, he pulls a curry comb from his tunic and starts to comb his tail*
Frodo: He needs to be put in a....cell....for his own good. Otherwise he will hurt himself
Frodo: I need you to call the take him.
Frodo: But he is to have the best treatment there
Frodo: He is not in trouble; he is sick.
Frodo: No moldy bread for him! He must be fed well and be warm at night and have light during the day
Aldir: *Aldir hears Frodo's words and he quietly walks over to the guard house nearby*
Frodo: *loses his strength and sits down again sobbing*
Aldir: *He tells the sergeant on duty* One of my master's slaves has gone mad and he needs men to restrain him
Frodo: Make sure the guards know to treat him well! *calls after Aldir*
Narrator: A little sport? *the sergeant says*
Frodo: *recalls Ceolwulf's punishment back at Nurn, and the horrible sights of dwimmergasts he described afterward*
Aldir: No. The master said he should be treated kindly and the master means what he says
Orc Guards: very well then *the sergeant says and summons several orcs and they go towards the stable to apprehend ceolwulf*
Aldir: *Aldir walks behind him, firmly convinced now that the whole world has gone mad*
Aldir: *As they go in the stable, he waits outside*
Frodo: *remembers Gollum's terror at being Faramir's captive. Frodo couldn't stand Gollum but even that was agonizing, for he pitied the wretch. This is much worse, though, for he loves Ceolwulf as a brother*
Ceolwulf: *He combs the long wirey strands of the horse's tail and gently separates the tangles*
Frodo: *Frodo feels he couldn't bear to watch the guards seize Ceolwulf, so he stays huddled in a ball outside the stable*
Frodo: *to the orc guards as they enter* Now you treat him gently! Don't hurt him at all
Frodo: Ever!
Orc Guards: *the orc guards walk into the stable and spot ceolwulf* mate, you need to come along with us, come along peacefully and no one gets hurt.
Ceolwulf: *His back stiffens as he hears the orcish voices*
Ceolwulf: *He turns to them*
Orc Guards: *they enter into the stall he is in and approach him, meaning to lay hands on him and escort him to the guardhouse, but gently, gently of course*
Frodo: *summons his courage and peeks in; sees Ceolwulf facing down the orcs*
Frodo: *prays fervently*
Ceolwulf: *He drops the comb and moves to the other side of the horse*
Orc Guards: ey! don't make it ard on yerself! *three orcs move towards him, two come in from behind*
Ceolwulf: *He draws a small dagger from his belt* Then come on, you stinking filth!
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf! *desperately tries to stop him through his ring*
Orc Guards: *one of the orcs lunges for him, trying to wrest the dagger from his hand. antoher orc dives for his feet*
Frodo: If you hurt him you are dead!! *to the orcs*
Ceolwulf: *he shakes his head and ignores the pull of the ring. He dives for one orc and thrusts his dagger deep into the orc's stomach*
Frodo: *screams* No!!!
Orc Guards: *the orc screams in pain. the other orcs rush at ceolwulf, angered now, attempting to tackle him*
Frodo: Just hold him! *shouts over the commotion*
Frodo: Don't hurt him!
Frodo: *concentrates as hard as he can on his ring, to stop Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *He pulls the dagger out of the orc's stomach and backs against the side of the stall, his blade held pointing outward*
Orc Guards: *the orcs close in on him... some go for his feet, while others go for his hand to wrest the knife from it or to his upper body to pin him to the wall*
Frodo: *His eyes dart around the stable frantically. His ring is not working! Ceolwulf will get himself beaten again, or killed! What of when Vartang hears of this?*
Ceolwulf: *He slashes out at his attackers but he is soon pulled down by their weight*
Orc Guards: *they plummel him with their fists a bit until he is sufficently dazed*
Ceolwulf: *He lies on the stable floor, panting, using his hands now to strike out at orcs*
Frodo: *His eyes light on a utility knife and he grabs it*
Frodo: Ceolwulf, look to me *holds the knife to his own throat*
Orc Guards: *one orc grabs him by one arm, another by the other. they hoist him to his feet and begin dragging him towards the guard house, more orcs in front and orcs in back*
Frodo: Don't struggle.....please
Frodo: *follows them still holding the knife to his own throat*
Ceolwulf: *There is a wild look in Ceolwulf's eyes and then he sees the knife Frodo holds to his own throat. He slumps down in resignation*
Ceolwulf: *He mumbles* They have won. They always win
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf, this is for your own good....this is so you can beat them in the end
Orc Guards: *the orcs take him to the guardhouse and throw him into a cell. they close the door and lock it behind them, then disperse throughout the building*
Frodo: *Frodo follows, adrenaline giving him strength*
Ceolwulf: *He sits sprawled in the middle of the cell floor, then pulls himself to his feet*
Frodo: *He sinks to sit on the ground just outside Ceolwulf's cell*
Ceolwulf: *He walks over to the door, puts his hands on the barred window and looks out* By Béma! I'll kill them all!
Frodo: I am so sorry *he says tearfully* I hate this so much. But you made me! I will not let you die
Ceolwulf: *He looks out the window* Why, Frodo, why? *he says softly*
Frodo: Because you are my brother! Because I want you to live until you are an old man and die surrounded by your and Elfhild's grandchildren!
Ceolwulf: And you put me in a cell like an animal? *his hands clench the bars* Frodo, I will never see her again now
Frodo: Because if I didn't you would go to your certain death, and I cannot allow that
Frodo: You will see her again BECAUSE I didn't let you leave!
Frodo: You would not have seen her again if you went!
Frodo: But now you will, when she returns!
Ceolwulf: *He turns from the cell window and begins pacing his cell along the sides*
Frodo: *a tense pause ensues*
Frodo: Are you hurt?
Ceolwulf: *From inside the cell he can hear* No!
Frodo: By Elbereth if they try to whip you again I will kill them all for you
Ceolwulf: How long will I be here? *he calls out*
Frodo: *the question makes Frodo's heart twist in excruciating pain* Until I am sure you will not run away....I suppose.....*sighs heavily*
Ceolwulf: Then you must plan to keep me here a long time, for if I ever get out I will not stay!
Frodo: Please, come to your senses, so I can let you out!
Ceolwulf: My resolve is firm! *he calls out* But I will not lie
Frodo: *Frodo hesitates for a long time, then whispers sadly* So is mine

The Messenger
By Wraith
Night of October 6, 3019

Out of breath from his rapid ascent of the Mundburg, the orc messenger begs admittance of the doorman to the throne room of His Majesty, King Varyon I, King of Forogondor, the Northern Province of West Mordor, and Lord High Governor of Minas Artano. A goblet of wine in his hand, King Varyon sits upon his throne, his concubines Ladiel and Brennil, sitting on cushions by the side of his throne. His younger brother, Maugoth Vartang, now Steward of Gondor, sits in the Steward's chair. His right hand clasps a goblet of wine as his left hand idly toys with a lock of Alana's hair as she sits on a cushion beside his chair.

"Brother," Vartang says, "You have done well for yourself here. You are to be admired!"

King Varyon says, "Soon the lesser men of this province shall know of the worth of the Easterlings.

"Aye, brother, indeed," Vartang says as he moves the goblet of wine beneath his nostrils and savors the aroma. Then, drinking, his tongue slowly moves the wine inside his mouth before he finally swallows it.

The messenger rushes in, bowing low before them. Upon being given permission to rise, the messenger says, "'Igh One! There has been a bit of a disturbance down the 'ill." He looks at Vartang. "Your lads that you made servants to the little Shakh seem to have gotten drunk, along with the two guards at the door. When one of the lads took the guards a message, 'e found 'em sprawled all across the floor, goblets forgotten in their drunkeness."

Vartang looks at him. "I will write an order commanding them to be lashed until they no longer can walk, and then if they live from that, they are to be confined to the guard house for thirty days." A bored look upon his face, Vartang drinks again from his goblet as he brushes his hand lightly across Alana's cheek.

"But that ain't the 'alf of it, Maugoth, not by a long shot it ain't."

King Varyon yawns and looks down at his signet ring before giving Ladiel a meaningful look. "Go on, lad, tell us the rest."

Pushing out his chest in pride. "Oh!" he says, "Garn! That manservant of the little shakh, that arrogant one, name of Ceolwulf.... the little shakh, 'e 'ad 'im locked up in the guard 'ouse, locked up good and tight, 'e did." The orc looks up at both of them, his own self-importance growing. "But that ain't the 'alf of it, not the 'alf of it. The manservant stuck a maggot 'ole in one of the lads, 'e did. Killed 'im right there in the stables."

His goblet forgotten in his hand, Vartang leans forward on the Steward's chair, sudden interest dawning upon him at the news. "Killed a lad, did he.... Anyone killing a servant of Mordor..... that carries the death penalty!" He looks over to his brother, Varyon. "What say you.... shall he be executed? Or..." Vartang suddenly begins laughing. "Will you graciously pardon the murderer?"

King Varyon says, "Brother, you know we cannot do that, not now anyway, not until it is time.

King Varyon tells the messenger, "Go back, Pizgal (Corporal) and tell your commanding officers the orders of my brother concerning the drunkards, and my ruling about the prisoner. In thirty days, I will give my judgment on the matter of whether he is to be executed or not. Until then, he is to be confined to the guardhouse. Ah yes," he says, "with the best of treatment, only the best of treatment in Forogondor."

"A wise decision, brother," Vartang says as he leans back in his chair and slowly sips his goblet, his eyes half-closed. "Now pray let me borrow a scribe of yours so that I may send a message to the small shakh. Peradventure now the small shakh will accept his new manservant as his personal attendant." Vartang chuckles softly.

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