Frodo played by Hobbitness
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian played by Eowyn
Narrator, Ceolwulf, Sador, Vartang and Algund played by Wraith

Narrator: *After the embarassing fiasco of the wedding feast earlier the night of August 16th, Vartang instructs Frodo and his companions - Elfhild, Elffled, Rian, Ceolwulf, Sador and the three wain drivers - to be up and ready before dawn.*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf, who has spent a sleepless night, awakens Frodo an hour before dawn August 17th and helps him prepare for the journey ahead. The other members of Frodo's household dress hurriedly, eager to leave Lorthang's hall before dawn.*
Narrator: *Soon, they are waiting at the stable area for the wain drivers to come around and get them. The drivers halt the teams and wait for their passengers to get inside.*
Narrator: *The wain of Frodo, Ceolwulf and Sador leads the procession, with the wain bearing the ladies coming second, and the supply wain at the rear of the procession.*
Narrator: *The gentle fingers of dawn stroke the land but the procession does not move out. All wait for Vartang, who is late this morning. The sun is well up before he finally joins the assembled members of the entourage.*
Narrator: *He gives no explaination for his absence. An attendant holds his horse for him and after mounting the stallion, Vartang beckons to his two Easterling companions to join him as they take their place alongside the wain of the women.*
Narrator: *"Ukh! Ukh!" he commands, and the three wain drivers crack their whips, and long past their appointed hour of departure, the wains slowly make their way towards the north.*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, what do you think is going on? Now the Great Vartang has broken his own orders!
Narrator: *Sador sits in the built in bench on the side of the wain across from Frodo and Ceolwulf. As the journey progresses, his head begins to nod and he folds his hands on his broad stomach. Soon the sound of snoring is heard*
Frodo: *Frodo is still nervous after hearing that he would be "removed" last night. There is still a chance that this means he, and possibly all of them, will be killed*
Frodo: Let us hope it is only another of his drunken bouts
Ceolwulf: That is probably it, Master Frodo. He was probably drunk all night, and suffering the after-effects of his inebriation, he was unable to get up early
Frodo: Very likely, I think
Ceolwulf: But he was not at all hesitant to make us wait while he attempted to sober up
Frodo: When has he ever thought of anyone other than himself?
Ceolwulf: Aye, he seems to be the primary center of his attention and he looks to that first of all
Frodo: *nods* The only other thing that is important to him is the dark religion of Mordor *darkly*
Ceolwulf: That and his attempts to aggrandize himself with his superiors probably
Frodo: *smiles wryly and nods*
Narrator: *The three wains make their way slowly on the main road back to Baggins' Hall*
Narrator: *The hours of the early morning drag by as the passengers are jostled about when the wains hit ruts on the bumpy road*
Frodo: *Frodo holds onto the side of his cot to keep from being thrown off it when the wain jostles*
Narrator: *By the time the sun is high overhead, the wains have covered over three leagues (9 miles) and Vartang calls a halt for a meal and rest*
Narrator: *The wains come to a stop and the drivers unhitch the horses from the wains, and then let them drink from the small stream nearby*
Narrator: *The women come out of the wains and go to the supply wagon to bring out the refreshments for the noon meal*
Frodo: *Frodo steps out of his wain, remembering his first journey in it and his first sight of Nurn*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls prepare the noon-day meal, taking foodstuffs from the supply wagon... wine, cheese, bread and fruit*
Frodo: *It seems a very long time ago. He had had no idea of all the strange twists of fate in store for him*
Frodo: *or the many other paths his own would cross. He watches the girls prepare the meal and wonders what will become of them*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks over to Sador, who is still sleeping and shakes his arm to awaken him. He then follows Frodo out of the wain*
Vartang: *Vartang and his comrades ride over to a small grove of trees and tend to their horses and then return to the group*
Vartang: *Vartang's companions go to where the girls are preparing the food but Vartang walks up to Frodo and Ceolwulf*
Vartang: Hail, Shakh! A fine day for a trip, is it not?
Frodo: *tenses as soon as he notices Vartang coming towards them* Aye, a lovely day.
Frodo: *thinks of the events of the previous days and wonders what repercussions they will have*
Narrator: *To keep things simple, the women do not spread blankets upon the ground for a picnic lunch, but instead one stands at the bottom of the steps of the wain as another girl hands her food to be distributed*
Vartang: Shakh, what an indignity to make us wait in line while they dole out the food! What do they think we are!
Frodo: *shrugs* They are probably tired from the trip
Vartang: *He leaves Frodo and goes to the steps of the wain*
Frodo: It does not bother me at all
Frodo: *groans at the impending confrontation*
Frodo: *shares a look of dread with Ceolwulf*
Elffled: *elffled stands at the bottom of the steps. she bows to vartang when she sees him approach her*
Vartang: Women! Is this a way to treat your lords? To make them stand in line like simpering dolts!
Frodo: *with a sigh he follows Vartang over and leans against the girls' wain*
Frodo: It is truly not a problem, Vartang.
Frodo: *folds his arms and fingers the folds of his shirt, looking down and glancing up at Vartang periodically*
Elffled: *elffled silently groans and fights rolling her eyes at this usual display of vartang's arrogance. she hands him a goblet of wine and a platter of bread and cheese*
Vartang: I refuse to be served in this manner! I am not an orc standing in line to receive military rations! You will serve me in the style to which I am accustomed! *Angry, he turns on his heel, shoves Frodo out of the way, motions for his men to follow him and walks over to the grove of trees and sits down. He shouts back at the women* Bring three blankets and food! Here! Now, wenches!
Elffled: *as vartang turns his back on her, elffled rolls her eyes and sighs in disgust*
Frodo: *The shove knocks Frodo to the ground. He sits there seething for a moment, then gets up and leans against the wain observing the scene once more*
Frodo: *scowling at Vartang*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf picks Frodo up, brushes him off and takes the offered food from Elffled*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild and rian stay behind in the wain, attempting to give out food to their fellow travelers. elffled goes to fetch three blankets and food for vartang and his two louts*
Frodo: *Frodo thanks Ceolwulf but protests that he is fine*
Ceolwulf: *He holds a goblet of wine and a platter of bread and cheese* Come, Master Frodo, let's sit down at that tree over there. We do not need deference and preferential treatment
Ceolwulf: *He walks over to Frodo, gets him seated, gives him the goblet and the plate of food, then goes back to get his share*
Frodo: *Frodo settles under the tree and puts some cheese on a piece of bread, then begins eating it*
Narrator: *Sador comes up, gets his food and goes back to the wain. There, he eats the food, drinks the wine, then burps several times, rubs his stomach, looks down at the tray and puts it down beside him. He folds his hands across his stomach and starts his afternoon nap*
Ceolwulf: *Ceowulf returns to Frodo with his own food and sits down under the tree with him*
Frodo: *He eats slowly as the food is dry and unappetizing to him. He can't help but think of the slave fight, which makes him want to refuse the food entirely*
Elffled: *elffled takes three blankets and a large platter of three trays and goblets for vartang and his men. elfhild and rian take their food and sit near frodo*
Elffled: *elffled hopes that she can return quickly to her sister and friend and that vartang will not want to speak with her*
Elfhild and Rian: *as they sit elfhild and rian smile to frodo and ceolwulf. elfhild asks* my lord may we eat with you?
Vartang: *He motions to Elffled* Stay, sit by us
Elffled: *elffled says* but my lord, wouldn't my master wish for me to sit with him? for the others do so already *she looks and points*
Vartang: *He ignores her words* Stay. I command you!
Vartang: Come and sit by me *he pats a spot on the blanket and motions for her to sit there*
Elffled: *elffled does not trust vartang nor his companions despite the fact that frodo is nearby. she looks towards the wains desperately*
Frodo: *Frodo snaps out of his thoughts and beckons Elfhild and Rian to sit with him and Ceolwulf, greeting them with a smile*
Vartang: Sit, maiden, by me and hand me my goblet of wine
Frodo: *Frodo periodically casts dark glances to Vartang and his friends, keeping an eye on Elffled, and wondering if the men will turn on them and attack them now that they are alone*
Elffled: *elffled does not want to be anywhere near vartang nor his ill-bred companions.... having already been tormented with them riding beside her wain. but she feels she has no choice and does not wish trouble..... she hands vartang his goblet and sits beside him... a good distance away*
Elfhild and Rian: *elfhild and rian sit near frodo and ceolwulf*
Vartang: Closer, maid! *He points again to the spot on the blanket beside him. He sips his wine and waits for her*
Vartang: *His two companions begin to laugh at the scene*
Elffled: *with resignation she silently moves to the spot he pointed to and sits there*
Vartang: *Vartang leans back, drinking his wine, a smug look upon his face*
Vartang: Now maid, a piece of bread
Frodo: *Frodo, Ceolwulf, Elfhild and Rian eat quietly, with Ceolwulf attempting to joke with the maids a bit, but no one really feels like making conversation today*
Elffled: *elffled is hungry herself, and now she must hand this lazy braggard his food? trying not to show her resentment, she reaches to the tray, grabs a piece of bread and hands it to vartang*
Vartang: *He takes the piece of bread, chews and swallows it*
Vartang: Now the cheese, and a bit of fruit
Elffled: *she hands him a piece of cheese and some fruit, trying to ignore the hunger pangs in her stomach and the resentment in her heart*
Vartang: *He takes a bite out of the fruit, then the cheese and washes it down with wine* Ah, Elffled, don't you think the combination of cheese and fruit is a delightful one? *he looks at her with half-closed eyes*
Elffled: *elffled looks to vartang* yes, i suppose.
Vartang: *One of his companions laughs* Almost as good as having a Gondorian wench and two Strawheads the same day! Eh, Vartang?
Vartang: *all three join in riotous laughter*
Frodo: *Frodo finishes his first piece of bread and cheese, then stares ruefully at the other piece. He takes a while to talk himself into eating it, then takes a small bite*
Frodo: *Frodo takes a sharp breath and hisses it out when he hears the man's words*
Frodo: *watches the men now through narrowed eyes*
Elffled: *elffled blushes, not liking the way this conversation is turning to. she quickly rises to her feet* if you excuse me, i think my master needs something.
Vartang: Your Master! *Vartang convulses in laughter, almost dropping his wine goblet*
Frodo: *The piece of bread crumbles in Frodo's clenched fist*
Vartang: *One of his companions says* Aren't you going after the wench? *Vartang replies* Nay, later...
Vartang: *Then they all laugh merrily and finish their food*
Elffled: *while the three fools are braying like donkeys, elffled silently slips away and back to frodo and the rest*
Frodo: *Frodo looks at Elffled apologetically as she approaches* Are you all right?
Frodo: You handled that beautifully
Elffled: *elffled bows to frodo* yes, my lord, i am fine. they are fools and act as such
Frodo: *nods*
Frodo: *picks up a crumb of bread and lifts it to his mouth, then puts it back down* Did you hear what happened?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled takes a place on the ground beside her sister. the three girls share their food with elffled*
Frodo: *He has not seen the girls since before the fiasco in Lorthang's hall*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled looks to frodo, wondering what he means* nay, my lord. what happened?
Frodo: They tried to marry me to Lord Lorthang's daughter
Frodo: but I would not sign the contract
Frodo: now we leave in disgrace
Vartang: *Vartang and his companions finish the bottle of wine. Vartang calls* Another bottle, Elffled!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls eyes widen at frodos words.... rian says* they tried to marry you to the daughter of lord lorthang? what happened?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled grits her teeth* excuse me, i must tend to the squealing of the pigs. *she gets up and goes to the supply wagon to get a bottle of wine*
Frodo: *sighs and shakes his head, staring off into the distance* I ate with them, talked with them as though I were one of their own. *shudders in disgust at himself*
Vartang: *Vartang's voice becomes more demanding* Elffled! Bring me the wine, or do you want me to come over and fetch both it and you!
Frodo: *turns to Rian, but waits for Vartang to stop shouting before answering*
Elffled: *elffled quickly goes to vartang and his companions, handing vartang the bottle of wine, then stepping back and bowing*
Vartang: No, wench, you pour! *his eyes begin to show anger*
Elffled: *elffled takes the bottle of wine and refills vartangs goblet, silently handing it to him*
Vartang: My companions' goblets are empty too. Fill them! *his friends laugh*
Elffled: *she shuffles to the two other men and refills their goblets.... then looks back at the others under the tree*
Frodo: *looks to Rian* Twice they put the contract before me and the lady--in front of all the guests too--but both times I refused to sign it
Vartang: Perhaps you would like to join us in a drink, Elffled?
Vartang: *He stands to his feet, holding his wine glass, not spilling a drop as he gets up. Then he bows in a low sweeping bow*
Elfhild and Rian: *rian says to frodo* that is good, my lord - do not give into their desires!
Frodo: The first time Lord Lorthang was too drunk to know what was happening, but the second time was last night, and he was sober. That is why we leave today
Frodo: *smiles at Rian*
Elffled: *elffled looks to vartang* nay, my lord, for i was eating with my master and the others.
Vartang: *He walks over to her, grabs her by the arm, holding her and looking into her eyes. He says in a low voice* Have you not yet learned who is your real master!
Frodo: *Out of the corner of his eye he notices that Vartang is threatening Elffled. His head snaps around to watch them worriedly*
Elfhild and Rian: *rian says to frodo, a concerned look on her face* i hope that all goes well for you - for us... life is perilous, in this dangerous land.
Frodo: *looks to Rian, then back to Elffled in Vartang's grasp* *quietly* Yes, yes it is.
Elffled: *elffled recoils at the heavy scent of wine upon vartang's breath. she tires to back away from him even though he holds her arm*
Vartang: *He increases the pressure on her arm and pulls her towards him* Stay a while and drink with us. *His friends laugh uproarously*
Elffled: *quietly elffled says* it was not you to whom the slavetraders gave me. it was lord frodo. therefore, i am his property and not yours.
Vartang: It matters not *He pulls her to him and wraps his other arm around her waist*
Elffled: *elffled begins to intensify her struggling* please, lord, let me go
Vartang: Nay, maid, I told you to drink with me, and you refused. He wraps both arms around her waist, pulling her to him as he tries to kiss her*
Frodo: *Frodo and Ceolwulf gasp and rush over*
Frodo: *Frodo cries* Stop! What are you doing? Stop this at once!
Elffled: *alarmed, elffled brings her foot down hard upon vartang's foot. then she brings her knee up violently, taking advantage of that moment to wrench herself out of vartangs arms and break into a run*
Vartang: *He gasps as a sudden look of shock and disbelief crosses his face. Then he bends over double in agony and groans*
Frodo: *groans, covering his face. This is even worse than when Elfhild struck Vartang.*
Vartang: *Slowly, he sinks to the ground. His companions rise to their feet and rush over to him*
Frodo: *turns to see which way Elffled is running*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled joins her sister and rian and the three girls talk amongst themselves nervously*
Frodo: *breathes a sigh of relief--temporary relief--when Elffled rejoins the other girls*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *after hearing the story of her sister's predicament, elfhild looks over to vartang, moaning on the ground, and starts snickering to herself. she puts a hand over her mouth*
Frodo: *Frodo stands quietly wringing his hands, breathing heavily and looking between Vartang and Elffled. He wonders what Vartang will do this time*
Frodo: *He looks up to Ceolwulf who is torn between stifled laughter and worry for Elffled*
Narrator: *All that can be heard from Vartang are groans as he sits on the grass*
Ceolwulf: *A laugh cannot escape Ceolwulf's lips* Seems like the great lord got himself into a bit of trouble on that one, eh, master Frodo?
Frodo: *smiles up to Ceolwulf and whispers* Yes...but what will happen to Elffled now, I wonder!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls approach frodo hesitantly. elffled nears the small hobbit, and kneels before him, in a whisper* please, my lord, protect me from vartang's wrath, if you can..
Frodo: *Frodo places a gentle hand on Elffled's shoulder* My dear, of course I want to protect you
Frodo: but I don't know if I can
Frodo: I will try
Narrator: *After some time has elapsed, Vartang attempts to get up to his feet, but when he tries to put weight on his right foot, his leg buckles on him. With one companion on either side of him, he limps back to the group, and with assistance, he goes into Frodo's wain. Angered at seeing Sador asleep in the wain, he tells him to get out and ride in the wain with the others*
Frodo: *his hand still protectively on Elffled's shoulder, he watches Vartang enter his wain*
Narrator: *One of his companions ties Vartang's horse to the back of the wain. Then they mount their own steeds*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled smiles grimly at frodo* thank you, my lord. the pig tried my patience a bit too much today, i fear.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf has a wicked grin on his face as he says to Frodo* It appears that Vartang is feeling a bit indisposed this afternoon
Narrator: *The drivers complete their meals, then hitch their horses back to the wagons and await until all the passengers are loaded*
Frodo: *unleashes his desperation for a moment to the twins* Why must you continually put yourselves in danger? Look at me! I'm half your size! I cannot stand against Vartang! I cannot protect you forever!
Frodo: Each time he pushes a bit farther. Soon will come a time when I can do nothing
Frodo: I do not want to watch my friends suffer again *thinks of Sam* I will do what I can to protect you but he does not listen to me
Frodo: I fear for you
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled gets back on her feet. both sisters look down at the ground at frodos words. elffled looks back up, says quietly* i am sorry my lord.
Frodo: It is for your sake that I say this! You have no idea what they can do to you. You have no idea what I have seen them doing to you in my dreams. Do not make those nightmares a reality!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled says softly* i try not to anger vartang, but there is just so much that one can take!
Narrator: *Vartang calls to one of his comrades, tells him to have Sador come to the wain and attend to him because he thinks his foot is broken. Sador complies, goes back into the wain*
Frodo: *pointedly to Elffled* The only way to survive here is to learn to take it even if it be unjust
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled* i bring him wine, i bring him food. i do all the things a servant does. but he wishes more, i fear. and.. *trails off looks away*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes sting* I know, I fear it too
Narrator: *Time passes while Sador is in the wain examining Vartang's foot. When he comes out, he goes to Frodo, bows*
Frodo: If I can protect you by my presence I will. I will do what I can...but there is only so much I can do
Frodo: and it is not much, I am afraid
Sador: Good Master Frodo, great shakh, great lord *bows again* Mighty Shakh, he say Frodo and his slave man ride with women rest of way
Sador: *he smiles, his teeth showing and the gold tooth flashing*
Sador: Mighty Lord Vartang not feel well this afternoon
Frodo: *nods* Very well, we will ride with the women
Sador: I will ride in wain with Mighty Shakh. It will be honor *he bows again and returns to the wain, enters it and closes the curtain*
Frodo: *cannot resist a wicked smile* *to the girls* ....Well, I don't think you will have to worry about Vartang for some time, at least
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls smile at frodo... rian says* t'will be wonderful for you to ride with us, my lord
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and elfhild begin snickering then burst out into laughter*
Frodo: *Frodo grins at them* *to Elffled and Elfhild, trying to keep from laughing himself* Shh! *to Rian* It will be my pleasure
Narrator: *The drivers wait for the rest of the company to enter the wain*
Frodo: *Frodo climbs into the women's wain with Ceolwulf's help*
Narrator: *The horses begin to stamp their feet in impatience to be off. The air is hot and heavy now in the early afternoon and flies begin to buzz around the food that had been left on the ground*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *after returning all trays and platters, goblets and blankets, to the supply wain, the three girls enter their wain and sit upon the bench along the side*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the interior of the wain has a bench with inlaid soft cushions on either side. the backs of the benches are cushioned in leather, packed with soft padding. a carpet is on the floor.*
Frodo: *Frodo hoists himself up onto the man-sized seat and settles on the cushion*
Narrator: *When everyone has entered the wain, the drivers crack their whips and the procession sets out again for the afternoon journey*
Frodo: *Frodo wants to enjoy this turn of events, this time with all of them back together, but he cannot shake his fear of Vartang's anger*
Narrator: *Because of the lengthy interval for the noon meal, the travelers are behind schedule. Endless hours go by during the long, muggy afternoon*
Frodo: *The girls and Ceolwulf do not seem to be as nervous, though, and Frodo soon joins in their chatter*
Narrator: *Because of the lateness, the drivers encourage their horses to make faster speed, and whip them into a trot, then slow them to a walk and then to a trot again, alternating between the two speeds. The travelers are jostled as the wains bump along the heavily rutted road*
Frodo: *Vartang's loud cursing wafts over to them from the other wain*
Frodo: *Frodo tries to stifle a smile as the girls begin giggling again*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the conversation turns to the party at lorthang's hall.... elffled smiles and says* though we did not get to attend the dance, still we enjoyed ourselves during our stay.
Frodo: You did? What did you do while we were with the lord and his guests?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled says* the servants of lord lorthang had their own dance, far from the nobles
Frodo: *beams* That sounds splendid!
Frodo: I wish I could have gone to that dance *laughs*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls smile and laugh as they talk for they did have fun on this outing, for once in this wretched place*
Frodo: *turns to ceolwulf* See, you could have left and gone to that dance! I would not have minded. You must go and enjoy yourself if this ever happens again *he teases*
Ceolwulf: My place is with you, Master Frodo
Narrator: *The journey continues, and the afternoon seems to grow hotter and hotter until suddenly, the sky seems to turn slightly darker as though a storm is approaching*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian says softly* we went on a journey in this land, and for once nothing bad happened. *elffled and elfhild look to her* shh, never say that! for then something indeed bad SHALL happen!
Frodo: *chuckles*
Narrator: *Then the wind which has languished all afternoon in sulleness begins to stir.....*
Narrator: *The sky grows increasingly darker. The wind picks up and the air seems to be suddenly cooler, almost icy and chilly. The drivers rein their horses quickly to a halt and cry out* Hail!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls feel the sudden change in the weather and look out the window of the wain*
Frodo: *Frodo pulls his cloak tightly around himself and looks out with them*
Narrator: *Sador wakes up, stumbles to his feet and fumbles for the latch to the door. Finding it, he rushes outside*
Frodo: *begins to feel afraid*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls also get their cloaks, which had been lying folded upon the bench. they put them on and shudder, wondering what this new change means*
Narrator: *Outside, the drivers are off the seats on the wains and standing beside their teams with bowed heads. Sador bows low to the ground, his head bobbing up and down as he bows. They hear Vartang's voice, commanding them* Get out and look, snagas, and behold!
Frodo: *Frodo's brow is furrowed. His shoulders move up and down heavily*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls look to each other and then to frodo, their eyes wide with uncertainty and fear they try to repress*
Frodo: *He tries to guess what is out there but he thinks he has an idea already...few things are powerful enough to cause changes in the weather*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled says* my lord? he has commanded us. so we must follow... *she sees frodos distress* are you well?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild and rian go to the door of the wain and waits... elffled hesitates* my lord? you should go first..
Frodo: *gets up, with a resigned expression* *faintly* I am fine. *He grits his teeth and exits the wain*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls follow frodo hesitantly.*
Vartang: *Vartang is already outside, his arm bent at the elbow, his fist clenched over his heart in a military salute as he looks skyward*
Frodo: *begins to shake as he reluctantly follows Vartang's glance skyward...*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild, elffled and rian notice everyone is looking skyward. they look skyward too, wondering what they may see. they pull their cloaks tighter about themselves*
Vartang: *Up above them, circling lazily in the sky, they see Nine dark shapes mounted on huge fell beasts*
Narrator: *They call to each other* Krankluku, kul-izubu tal guth!
Frodo: *Frodo stands frozen in fear, staring up in a trance*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls eyes widen. they draw closer to themselves, trembling. elfhild gasps, and wails* dwimmerlaiks! *she begins speaking unintelligibly in rohirric*
Frodo: *They have come for me, Frodo thinks. They have come to take me back and I will find the same fate as Sam did*
Frodo: *The thought numbs him*
Vartang: *Vartang calls out in greeting* Broshan, Shakhu slaium-ob ukil!
Frodo: *Nothing seems real but Ceolwulf's heavy breathing behind him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *when the nine riders swoop lower, terror fills the girls and they throw themselves upon the ground*
Frodo: *Frodo falls to the ground too*
Frodo: *He cannot help screaming in pain as his shoulder hurts unbearably. His hands clench fistfuls of dirt*
Narrator: *Their beasts swoop low over the group, then rise up again, circle once more and fly northwest*
Narrator: *With their departure, the wind gradually dies down, the icy feeling leaving and the sky begins to brighten*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *when the nine riders leave, the still-shaking girls get up off the ground, dust themselves off and go to frodo, who still is distraught and try to comfort him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild asks frodo, her voice filled with fright* my lord, what were those?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild continues* works of dwimmer-craft, i know, gasts of some sort, but... oh... what ARE they?
Narrator: *After the riders had passed, Vartang calls his companions to come over to him, and they talk briefly. Then Vartang gives the order* Ukh! *He climbs back in the wain*
Frodo: *Frodo is still too stricken to speak*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, we must enter the wain again
Frodo: *nods vaguely to Ceolwulf and stumbles to his feet*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes him by the shoulders and steadies him, then begins to assist him into the wain*
Ceolwulf: Steady now, watch the steps. Don't fall on us now
Frodo: *enters the wain, supported by Ceolwulf, but favoring his left side*
Frodo: *struggles to push himself up onto the seat using only his right hand*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf waits for him to take his seat, then sits down beside him. The van is crowded now with the addition of Ceolwulf and Frodo*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, your shoulder troubles you again?
Frodo: *nods*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls sit on the opposite side of the wain from frodo and ceolwulf*
Frodo: *explains softly, glancing out the window* They did it
Ceolwulf: Does anything ease the pain?
Frodo: *shakes his head, biting his lip*
Ceolwulf: *A look of concern comes over Ceolwulf's face* Surely, something must relieve this pain!
Frodo: There is an herb called athelas, but I doubt that it grows in Mordor
Frodo: but there is no cure
Ceolwulf: *shakes his head sadly, and winces a bit when the wain hits a rut* I have never heard of it!
Frodo: *cries out when the wain hits the rut*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls look at frodo with concern, worrying about their master, the only one who can protect them to some degree in this foul land*
Ceolwulf: I, for one, will be glad when we get home *he braces himself as the wain hits a deeper rut and all of them bounce slightly into the air*
Frodo: Ceolwulf, this is not a normal wound. It is a malicious dark spell of the nazgul
Ceolwulf: You would think the nameless enemy could at least keep his roads in repair!
Frodo: *bites his lip and squeezes his eyes shut tightly as they bounce. When he opens them they glisten*
Ceolwulf: Surely there must be a better road than this in this foul land!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild mutters* everything in this place is foul, the people, the roads, the dwimmerlaiks in the sky. oh how i hate this place!
Ceolwulf: *The road begins slowly to improve and the ruts are farther apart* Tell me about this spell, Master Frodo
Frodo: *A strange look is on Frodo's face, his mind sinking into ever deeper darkness*
Ceolwulf: *He begins to relax into the cushion with the improvement in the road*
Ceolwulf: Can you speak of this thing that plagues you? Perhaps Sador has a remedy? *he asks hopefully*
Frodo: *laughs bitterly* No
Frodo: There is no remedy
Ceolwulf: No remedy, no cure? *he shakes his head*
Frodo: *takes a deep breath and turns to Ceolwulf, preparing to tell the story out loud for the first time*
Frodo: The wraiths carry a blade marked with a potent poison
Frodo: It is called the morgul blade
Ceolwulf: *He reaches down to a crate over to the side, pulls out a water flask* Water, Master Frodo?
Frodo: *waves the water away*
Ceolwulf: *looks to Frodo uncertainly and drinks deeply from the flask, caps it and puts it back*
Frodo: If this blade stabs you, a piece breaks off and remains within your body moving ever closer to your heart
Frodo: while the poison courses through your system
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Frodo in wonder*
Frodo: *takes a moment to still his heavy breathing*
Frodo: If this happens to you and you receive no help...
Frodo: You become a wraith like them
Frodo: *he looks down and shudders*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the two rohirrim listen to this dark story with grim curiosity.... their people always having told stories of ghosts in the long nights of the winter*
Frodo: When I was on my journey carrying the Ring...
Frodo: the wraiths attacked me and my companions
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's gaze is riveted on Frodo and involuntarily he shudders too*
Frodo: at an old ruin called Weathertop
Frodo: and I was stabbed with this blade
Frodo: A piece remained in my shoulder for weeks...
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls shudder too, and lean forward in their seats towards frodo as he tells his tale*
Frodo: until I reached Rivendell, the dwelling of Lord Elrond and the elves of Imladris
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf puts a comforting hand on Frodo's right shoulder*
Frodo: I was almost gone into the wraith world by that time
Frodo: but Lord Elrond was able to remove the shard of the morgul blade from my body and so I was saved
Frodo: but it has never really healed
Frodo: My friend Sam was stabbed with the morgul blade when we were captured
Narrator: *The teams are trotting now. The road turns to ruts again and the wain sinks deeply into one. Ceolwulf's hand is bounced off Frodo's right shoulder*
Frodo: but no help came to him *grits his teeth as they bounce*
Frodo: and he is a wraith now *he whispers*
Frodo: He remains there in the dark tower
Frodo: He does not remember me or who he is at all
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rians turns pale and whispers a prayer to the valar... the twins shudder, hoping this fate will never come to them*
Frodo: When I was a prisoner in the Dark Tower, I was brought before the Dark Lord many times...
Frodo: One of those times he ordered two orcs to hold me before him and he reached out, and with nothing but his hand, nothing but the sheer malice that burned within him
Frodo: He branded me right over the wound with the sign you all have seen
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I have heard such tales when I was a lad and the family gathered around the fire on cold winter evenings and our elders told us tales of dwimmer-gasts and bloody deeds done in the light of the full moon
Frodo: *smiles weakly at Ceolwulf's words*
Frodo: I am bound to their dark magic by these wounds
Ceolwulf: And you tell me now that these tales have a word of truth in them?
Frodo: Every word of these tales is true!
Ceolwulf: *he speaks hurriedly to the girls in Rohirric and watches as their faces blanch*
Frodo: *watches Ceolwulf worriedly. It would be awful if Ceolwulf did not believe him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *their eyes widen* oh no! *they say, and speak in their own language*
Frodo: I do not know Rohirric
Frodo: what are you saying?
Ceolwulf: *his head nods up and down and a look of fear comes on his face as he talks with them quickly in Rohirric*
Ceolwulf: The Dwimmerberg......
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the twins nod gravely*
Frodo: *waits impatiently for an explanation*
Ceolwulf: I mentioned to them about Baldor, the son of King Brego, who went into the Dwimmerberg, the Haunted Mountain, and never returned, his boasts remaining with him, but remembered by our people
Frodo: I do not know of this haunted mountain
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild nods* twas a foolish boast made at the feast when the golden hall was completed. alas for baldor!
Frodo: *nods to her*
Frodo: I swear that what I have said is true
Ceolwulf: It is near Dunharrow and is the home of the dead
Frodo: Alas that such evil exists in Arda
Ceolwulf: Isildur the Great called upon the men of the mountain long ago to aid him in the War of the Last Alliance. They refused and he cursed them to remain forever there until such time as they would answer the call to aid Gondor in its need
Frodo: I would not have believed your story of this mountain when I lived in the Shire, but I will believe it now!
Ceolwulf: They haunt the mountain and let none of the living pass
Ceolwulf: Surely, your tale must be true, for this one is
Frodo: *listens wide-eyed to their tale*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls nod in agreement... elfhild says almost in a whisper* i dreamed of the mountain, when i was in the dungeon. they were all around me, evil shades.
Narrator: *The journey continues on throughout the afternoon. About 6 o'clock, the entourage enters a dark forest, filled with tall trees and underbrush*
Narrator: *The drivers halt their teams and cry out* The road is blocked!
Frodo: *Frodo and the others look at each other fearfully*
Narrator: *The passengers are jolted to an abrupt halt*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, what is going on!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls hover around the window and look out, trying to see what has caused the sudden stop*
Frodo: *stares out the window* I don't know
Vartang: *Vartang gets out of his wain, limping slightly, and goes to survey the scene*
Vartang: *Then Vartang barks out the orders* All of you! Every last one! Out of the wains! The drivers need assistance!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks over to Frodo with questioning eyes*
Ceolwulf: I guess we have to do what he says
Ceolwulf: *He gets up and opens the wain door, climbs down the steps and latches it open*
Frodo: *nods and exits the wain again*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls follow ceolwulf and frodo out of the wain*
Frodo: *goes to see what is blocking the road*
Narrator: *As they walk up ahead, they see Vartang, his two companions and the drivers looking at a large tree that blocks the road*
Vartang: Put your backs and muscles to it! Let's drag it out of the way
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild, elffled and rian go to the tree and aid the drivers try to drag the tree out of the way*
Frodo: *stares at the tree that is many, many times his size*
Narrator: *They all strain and tug at the tree and try to drag it to the left under Vartang's direction*
Frodo: *Thinking that there is nothing for it, he pushes against the tree with his right hand*
Frodo: *leaning all his weight into it....though that is not much weight*
Narrator: *The tree resists strongly and they strain to move it out of the way*
Narrator: *The tree finally begins to budge, when.....*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls tug at the tree with all their might, puffing and panting as they strain. a spark of hope goes through them when they feel the tree begin to move*
Frodo: *Frodo is not really doing much to move the tree, though he is trying. He smiles at the girls when the tree begins to move*
Narrator: *.....A strange man comes out of the trees* Hail travelers! Well met
Frodo: *Frodo straightens and looks to the man, wondering who he is* Hail
Algund: I advise you to stay in your places and drop your weapons, lest an arrow find your spine *he laughs arrogantly as he says this*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild, elffled and rian freeze in their spots, still hunched over the tree. they look to each other, their eyes wide with fear*
Frodo: *An irrational thought comes to his mind: If only Rian hadn't said that nothing bad had happened yet! The irony of the situation strikes him as he freezes where he stands*
Narrator: *Vartang straightens up slowly and the drivers and his companions follow suit. They keep their eyes turned in the direction away from the stranger. Vartang says with gritted teeth* And who might you be?
Frodo: *He almost has to smile at the way misfortune follows them even in the most unlikely of places*
Algund: My name is not important. What is important is that my men surround you, their arrows notched and ready. Drop your weapons *he says coldly*
Frodo: *Well, he thinks, if I am killed now, hopefully it will be quick and I will go to Mandos and be free of this evil place*
Vartang: *Vartang curses loudly and his hand unfastens his sword belt and he lets it drop and fall to the ground. His companions follow his lead*
Algund: Now turn around and step five paces towards me, all of you
Algund: *he taps his foot impatiently on the ground*
Frodo: *does as the man says*
Frodo: *looking over to the girls and Ceolwulf*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls slowly straighten up, turn around and walk five paces towards the man*
Frodo: *He hopes nothing will happen to them*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bristles and curses under his breath and does as he is told, although he has no weapon to drop*
Frodo: *Frodo remembers how Ceolwulf took an arrow to save his life and prays that he will not have to suffer the injustice of feeling an arrow's sting again*
Algund: *The man seems to relax. When they have turned around and come closer, they can see the man... He is dressed in travel-worn green and brown and is hooded and masked*
Algund: *He points towards Frodo and gestures with his hand, the fingers of his left hand curling and beckoning as he holds a long sword in his right hand* You, Master Dwarf, come hither
Frodo: I am not a dwarf. I am a halfling *Frodo says softly, then goes to the man, offering no resistance*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three frightened girls look at the man, not daring to speak or make any sudden movements. they watch frodo as he walks, praying silently for his safety*
Frodo: *It would be a much better fate to be killed by this man than to go back to the Nazgul and the Dark Tower*
Algund: Step lively, dwarf, or you will find that you have two mouths on your face!
Frodo: *quickens his pace and soon stands before the man*
Algund: *He bends down, and extends the point of the sword to Frodo's throat*
Frodo: *gasps and shrinks away*
Algund: Master Dwarf, my men and I have been watching you long
Algund: Our eyes were upon you at the Great Festival
Algund: We saw how you were willing to sacrifice your slaves to the unholy gods of Mordor!
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes close in despair, then open with a glassy, expressionless sheen*
Algund: All too willing!
Frodo: *The spark comes back into his eyes at these words*
Frodo: What do you mean?
Algund: And we hear that you bear the mark of the Nameless Enemy himself and are hailed as "Friend of Sauron"!
Frodo: I tried to save the girls from being sacrificed!
Frodo: I said they were not fit
Algund: We have come to wreak vengance upon you, traitor to the West!
Algund: You have sold your soul to the evil one!
Algund: For that you shall pay!
Frodo: *Frodo trembles, then whispers vehemently* I have not sold my soul
Frodo: I have resisted at every turn
Frodo: but if you want your vengeance so then take it
Frodo: it will be better than living as I am
Frodo: *sinks wearily to his knees and bows his head*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls want to come to frodo's aid, to defend him against this man's words, but they know they are surrounded and would be shot with arrows as soon as they spoke*
Algund: *He prods Frodo with the tip of his blade* On your feet, Dwarf! Face your punishment like a man!
Frodo: *Frodo stands up stiffly*
Algund: Look me in the eye!
Algund: First, are you are a dwarf or aren't you?
Frodo: *looks the man in the eye* I am not a dwarf
Frodo: I am a hobbit of the Shire
Frodo: My name is Frodo Baggins
Algund: Strange that you are so far from home. We know the Shire, for long have we protected it, and for this, to be betrayed by such as you!
Algund: Is this our pay for years of protection when you slept in your soft beds and drank your ale in the Green Dragon? When you enjoyed your Shire Fairs and celebrated your birthdays under the Party Tree?
Frodo: *For the first time since they have met him, the girls and Ceolwulf hear an anguished sob burst from Frodo*
Algund: I know what you are!
Frodo: *hisses* No you do not!
Algund: And I know who you are!
Frodo: Who am I then?
Algund: Traitor to the West is your name
Frodo: No
Frodo: Prisoner of Mordor is my name
Algund: I taunted you earlier to see if you would lie about that too, foul thrall of the enemy
Frodo: *His voice rises to an angry shout* I am no thrall of those I hate most
Algund: *He puts the tip of his blade back on Frodo's throat* I should slay you now, disgrace to the West!
Frodo: *Frodo looks down at the blade and stands still, finding no words, but not resisting either*
Algund: Speak now, tell me your tale, and make sure you do not lie for I know all. I am one of the Dunedain. You cannot trick me!
Frodo: Frodo Baggins. I told you, my name is Frodo Baggins
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls silently despair, their hands twisting the fabric of their skirts nervously. this is somehow more frightening than the nine riders who flew by earlier, in a way*
Algund: I knew your name long ago. At least you do not lie about that!
Frodo: I lie about nothing!
Algund: Men! Come out! Bind his companions to the trees, but do not bind the two goldenhairs!
Frodo: Please do not hurt them
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls eyes widen and they look at each other*
Frodo: Go ahead, kill me, you will be doing me a favor *Frodo weeps* but do not hurt them
Algund: I should kill you right now! *He takes his blade and pushes it against Frodo's neck, the tip drawing blood*
Algund: Leave you punctured through the throat, bleeding and gasping your last! Foul traitor!
Frodo: *The familiar feeling of death weaving its net around his heart and lungs returns. Perhaps it will really come this time...but then, it never comes, does it?*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf, Vartang, his two companions, Sador, the three drivers and Rian are tightly bound to different trees*
Frodo: *He cannot decide whether or not he wants to die now, so he says nothing, but does not move from the sword*
Narrator: *Some of them try to fight but their resistance is met with cuffs to the head. Ceolwulf is knocked down as he struggles with one of them*
Frodo: *turns his head instinctively when he hears Ceolwulf cry out* Don't hurt them, please!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian looks at elffled and elfhild in horror as she is taken away and tied to a tree. the twins hold each others hands and stand closely together*
Narrator: *Finally, they are all bound and two of the outlaws grab Elfhild and Elffled by the shoulders and hold them*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian, now tied to a tree, begins to sob, fearing for the worst. elfhild and elffled gasp as they are roughly grabbed by the shoulders*
Frodo: *Frodo turns back to the man and says* I am not what you say I am. This has been forced on me against my will, since I was a prisoner in the Dark Tower.
Frodo: I am not a traitor
Frodo: ...but....I suppose I should not expect you to believe that
Algund: *He moves his sword away from Frodo's neck* How much did the Dark Lord pay you for your treachery? Do not attempt to lie, for we know all
Algund: Your reputation has spread far and we have come from Ilithien across the mountains. There are still a few of us loyal to the King!
Algund: We now do the bidding of King Elessar himself
Frodo: There was a great deal of gold...I do not know how much it was. But I did not know of it until I saw it. There was no bargain between me and the enemy! Oh, no! They only tortured me
Algund: How the people of the West have endured sufferings because of your Dark Lord!
Frodo: *When he hears that this is the order of King Elessar, Frodo covers his face and sobs quietly, then looks back up*
Frodo: Oh! He is not my lord!
Frodo: But...if it is the will of the King...I am loyal to the King as well and I will not refuse his will
Algund: Our people slain by the plague or the sword, our strongest and best who survive taken into slavery
Frodo: I will not argue with you anymore
Frodo: *looks over to the twins, Rian, and Ceolwulf*
Algund: It is the will of the King, Master Baggins, that you should pay for your dark deeds
Algund: That you should suffer as you have helped cause the peoples of the West to suffer
Frodo: I was captured against my will. I did not hand over the Ring willingly! But I know I am responsible for their suffering, because of my failure
Frodo: I am ready to pay
Algund: After hearing word of you and how you betrayed us, we came across the mountains looking for you
Frodo: *He thinks, I have paid, but not enough, it seems. Oh, Elbereth, please let this be over soon*
Algund: We have watched you and your deeds these weeks
Algund: It was my men who attacked you in the marketplace of Thagurzgoi and paid with their lives for their attempt to slay the puppet of Sauron
Frodo: *draws a sharp breath*
Algund: They were taken to the Durubkala, the Dark Fortress, and rumor says that they were roasted alive over hot coals while lying upon grids of metal
Algund: This is your doing. You ordered it. Master of Slaves, they call you
Frodo: Oh Elbereth! *he cries out in horror at the men's fates*
Frodo: I knew nothing of that!
Algund: Now if you want to see these two women alive, you will pay us!
Frodo: How horrible!
Frodo: What do you want?
Algund: But you can never recompense the West for what your dark deeds have caused
Algund: A hundred thousand gold coins for their lives!
Algund: *He motions to the strawheads* 100,000 gold coins
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild and elffled look to frodo, pleading, fearful looks upon their faces*
Algund: Men! Bind their hands in front of them and put them on horses. Then blindfold them!
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild and elffled struggle with the two men who were behind them, holding their shoulders*
Frodo: I have little money with me now, but I think I have enough to pay you at the hall where they put me after taking me from my cell in the Dark Tower
Frodo: But why them? Why should they suffer? It's me you want
Narrator: *Algund's men slap the girls across the faces when they offer resistance*
Algund: Them? Because we know they are dear to your heart, Master Baggins. They are two of your best slaves
Frodo: They are women of Rohan!
Elfhild and Elffled: *their cheeks sting and they become a bit more passive*
Narrator: *When the girls have ceased to struggle, Algund's men bind their wrists in front of them. Then while two hold the reins of two horses, others cups their hands so that the girls can use them as a mounting block to reach their stirrups. Then the men push the girls up into the saddle*
Narrator: *Then two of his men ride by and tie blindfolds around their heads and pull the girls' hoods tightly over their heads*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls mount their horses, wondering what fate will befall them now. suddenly, they are plunged into darkness, when they are blindfolded*
Algund: They are thralls, their minds corrupted by your cunning arts of darkness!
Frodo: No, no! They are loyal to the West! One of them injured our guard, Vartang, just this morning
Algund: Just being in your presence these past weeks has pushed them beyond hope of redemption. They are your thralls, and thralls of Mordor, and will be until the end of their days. Their bodies, hearts and souls are branded with his mark, and it is your doing!
Frodo: But against their will! Does that mean nothing at all??
Algund: Master Baggins, their wills? Their wills are your will. They are your slaves *he spits on the ground*
Frodo: *looks to Vartang*
Vartang: *Vartang, tied to a tree, looks sullenly at Frodo*
Vartang: Do as he says or he will kill you where you are
Frodo: Vartang, who is their real master?
Frodo: Who did you say this morning is their real master?
Frodo: and my master too, as you have told them many times
Vartang: I am not the master of these men. We will not bandy words in the presence of highwaymen
Vartang: What do you think I am, an idiot!
Algund: *Algund laughs at Frodo and Vartang* Silence! *He commands one of his men* Silence the one with the loud mouth *One of his men rushes over and hits Vartang over the head with the hilt of his sword*
Frodo: *gasps*
Vartang: *Vartang slumps into unconsciousness, his body sagging against the ropes*
Algund: I commanded silence!
Frodo: *looks fearfully to the man*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls feel a bit dizzy on the horses, being blindfolded and not being able to see in front of them. they hold the pommels of their saddles with bound hands*
Algund: Take the women away! *The two riders holding the reins of the girls horses kick their mounts into a trot, pulling the other horses along with them*
Frodo: *Frodo calls after them brokenly* May the Valar protect you! I am sorry!
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls gasp as they feel the horses begin to move into a trot. they turn their heads in the direction where they think frodo is and scream* master! help!
Frodo: *Tears stream down Frodo's face but he can do nothing*
Frodo: *Or perhaps he should run after them, even if the men do kill him?*
Algund: *He turns his head slightly as his men lead the women away. When they are out of sight, moving towards the west, he speaks again*
Algund: They call you master. If I had not evidence enough before, this is all I need!
Algund: You are convicted of your crimes, traitor to the West. You sold the West for riches!
Frodo: No! Never!
Algund: I am judge, jury and executioner of your sentence
Frodo: I am sure that Rohirric servants call their masters "Master"
Frodo: In the Shire, my gardener called me "master"!
Algund: We have come to this wretched land to seek revenge in the name of King Elessar and we will have it as fully as we can
Frodo: Then take it if you must, but only on me
Frodo: They have done nothing wrong
Algund: *He sheaths the sword in the scabbard, then picks Frodo by the cloth around his collar* Now listen, traitor, I do not have all night!
Algund: To help in the restitution of Gondor and to aid its suffering citizens, we will hold these two women as hostages for ransom
Frodo: I will gladly give you all I have
Frodo: You need not threaten, I would be glad to help that effort
Frodo: You need not hurt the women
Algund: I have an estimate of your worth and this would not even begin to make a dent in it. Therefore, I increase the price. 500,000 gold pieces
Frodo: You can have all of it, however much there is, I do not know
Algund: I should make it 1,000,000!
Algund: That will be the new price. Will you pay it?
Frodo: If I have it, I will pay it
Frodo: and I probably do have it
Algund: Either that, or you will find their bodies in front of your gate with their throats slit!
Frodo: *shudders* I will pay it!
Algund: *He shakes him by the fabric around his collar* Here is what you are to do. Have your slaves *he spits again* pack the bags of coins upon the best packhorses
Algund: Then you and your slave man will meet my men and me on the banks of the river near the bridge at the stroke of midnight tomorrow
Algund: I your word proves true, you will see your women at your gate three days hence, alive and unspoiled
Algund: I give you my word as Algund of the Dunedain
Frodo: It shall be done
Algund: *he lowers him to the ground slowly* Now you will come with us for a while
Algund: *he commands one of his men* Cegund, bring me my horse!
Frodo: *walks shakily next to the man, looking back over his shoulder at Ceolwulf*
Algund: *One of his men brings up Algund's horse and he takes the reins and mounts it* Throw up the traitor behind me!
Algund: *The other man takes Frodo and tosses him up behind Algund. Algund digs his spurs into the horse's sides and the horse breaks into a walk then a brisk trot*
Frodo: *manages to steady himself on the horse behind the man*
Narrator: *They travel back down the road towards the West for about a fourth of a mile, then Algund halts his horse. Another man dismounts and takes Frodo and sets him on the ground*
Algund: *Algund looks down at Frodo* We will meet again tomorrow. Bring no one with you but the slave man or the women will die
Frodo: *nods*
Narrator: *The riders leave Frodo there and spur their horses and ride off into the night*
Narrator: *Meanwhile, far down the road by this time, their captors take Elfhild and Elffled farther and farther away towards the west*
Frodo: *Frodo looks around frantically to find which way they came*
Frodo: *He starts following the path back the other way*
Frodo: *but his knees go weak and he slinks back into the woods like a criminal at night, to regain his strength among the trees*
Narrator: *The riders are all silent and say nothing to the women. Soon, Algund and the rest of his men catch up with them. He tells them* The traitor kept me long. Now he will pay
Narrator: *Back at the scene of the fallen tree, Vartang wakes up, curses, struggles against his ropes*
Frodo: *They are right, part of him screams. The other half of him cries out in protest, but the condemning part wins. The people, the lives taken, the homes destroyed!*
Frodo: *Even his own servants are suffering this fate because of his failure. Even Sam is a wraith because of him*
Frodo: *He digs his forehead into the ground and dissolves in tears, passionate wails emerging almost as shouts of despair*
Frodo: *When he has composed himself he stumbles down the road blindly. He walks forever, it seems, until he finds Ceolwulf, Vartang, Sador, and Rian*
Frodo: *He sees them from a distance, unharmed, it seems. He calls to them* Ceolwulf! Rian!
Frodo: *breaks into a run, desperation giving him strength*
Frodo: *runs up to them* Are you all right? *he pants*
Ceolwulf: *When Ceolwulf sees Frodo, he exclaims in joy* Master Frodo! You are a sight for sore eyes
Ceolwulf: I never thought these eyes would see you again!
Frodo: *Though he is still bound to the tree, Frodo embraces Ceolwulf tearfully*
Vartang: *Vartang, having regained consciousness sometime back, looks at Frodo sullenly* You surely took your time!
Frodo: *though Ceolwulf is still bound to the tree, Frodo embraces him tearfully
Sador: *Sador says* Master, Master good Master, please free Sador! His feet are asleep from standing so long!
Frodo: *works at Ceolwulf's ropes and gets them untied*
Frodo: *then goes to untie Sador*
Frodo: *unties him quickly, anxious to get to Rian*
Rian: *rian, who had drifted into a fitful sleep from waiting so long, wakes up and sees frodo. her face lights with joy* my lord! master! what news of elfhild and elffled?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says* They bound us so tightly, to make sure we could not work the ropes loose on our own
Frodo: *tries to keep his voice from breaking as he unties Rian* Elffled and Elfhild...they have taken them hostage until I pay ransom
Frodo: but we will get them back
Rian: *her eyes widen* i hope so, my lord! *when she is untied, she rubs her arms and sides, hurt by the ropes*
Vartang: *Vartang glares at Frodo*
Frodo: *Having forgotten about Vartang in his joy over the others, Frodo goes to Vartang*
Frodo: *He is reminded of Gollum...Vartang deserves death, to be left there to die...*
Vartang: Shakh... *he says, his words a hiss* I do not need you to free me!
Vartang: Free my men. They will cut my bonds
Frodo: *But Gandalf's advice returns to his mind: many that live deserve death, and many that die deserve life*
Vartang: No favors from you, Shakh. Free my men!
Frodo: *He begins to work at the men's bonds...hoping this will not endanger Rian or Ceolwulf at all*
Frodo: *soon the two men are free*
Ceolwulf: Here, I will help you, Master Frodo *he goes and picks up a sword and cuts the bonds of the three drivers*
Ceolwulf: Now what about Lord Vartang? Shall I free him too?
Frodo: His men will free him
Frodo: Do not hinder them
Vartang: *Vartang's men pick up their swords and rush over and cut Vartang's bonds. Vartang moves away from the tree and rubs his arms* Bring me my sword!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, still holding the sword* Lord Vartang, is this your sword?
Ceolwulf: By the weight of it, I can tell it is a worthy one *He tosses it up in the air and catches it with his left hand*
Ceolwulf: *Then tosses it back and catches it with his right*
Frodo: Ceolwulf...don't try anything...it's the last thing we need now!
Ceolwulf: *Then he turns, goes over to Vartang and presents the sword to him, hilt first. He thinks to himself... I would like to cut his gizzard out! He says* Your sword, Lord Vartang
Frodo: *goes up to Ceolwulf and stands on tiptoe to whisper to him* I need to talk to you privately. You must help me free the girls
Vartang: *Vartang notices Frodo talking to Ceolwulf and scowls*
Frodo: *quickly moves away from Ceolwulf to avoid looking suspicious*
Vartang: First, we must move this tree! *he commands one of his men* You, Androg, ride back to the fortress and bring a company of cavalry back with you to Baggins' Hall. Bring two orc trackers mounted on wargs! I will meet you there before dawn
Narrator: *Androg, one of Vartang's companions, says* It will be done *He goes to his horse, mounts it, and commands it forward. Easily the horse jumps over the tree that blocks the road, and Androg gallops off into the night*
Vartang: Now, let's move this tree!
Narrator: Unimpeded this time, the three drivers, Ceolwulf, Vartang's remaining companion, Vartang and Rian drag the tree off the road*
Vartang: We will not make camp here tonight. Instead, we will press on through the night *he barks out orders* Load the wains! Bring me my horse!
Frodo: *Frodo stands in a daze, hearing only the man's words echo over and over in his head...traitor to the West...lives and homes lost...death on hot coals...the men who were killed in the war...*
Frodo: *Sam's scream as the morgul blade entered him...Aragorn being crowned king only of Arnor because there is no more Gondor...the destruction he has wrought is endless*
Frodo: *I did not mean to, part of him cries out. But you did! his ring taunts, laughing maliciously, ceaselessly*
Rian: *rian goes to her wain and gets in.... hoping frodo and ceolwulf will ride with her on the return journey instead of in frodo's wain*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf goes over to Frodo, takes him by the shoulders and guides him gently into the wain with Rian.*
Narrator: *He offers him a flask of water. Sador takes his place in Frodo's original wain and after all have settled, the wains move out, the horses trotting briskly*
Narrator: *It is ten miles to Baggins' Hall. The horses make it long before dawn. Waiting outside Frodo's gates are Vartang's comrade, Androg, a company of cavalry, five troops of infantry (50 men), and two orc trackers mounted on wargs*
Narrator: *Through the night, the outlaws lead their prisoners, until by dawn they are into the foothills of the Mountains of Shadow*
Narrator: *As dawn approaches, Algund orders them to take cover in the trees and make camp. Their hoods are pulled back and the blindfolds are taken from the women*
Elfhild and Elffled: *they look around fearfully and uncertain*
Narrator: *Two of the outlaws dismount, and go over and aid the women in dismounting. When they have dismounted, Algund says* Walk around a while
Narrator: *He orders one of his men to bring them water and food*
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls walk around a bit stretching their legs, and accept the food.... but they have trouble eating and drinking for their bound hands*
Algund: *Algund looks at them and a look of pity comes to his face* Cut their ropes. Let it not be said of the Dunedain that they torture their prisoners!
Elfhild and Elffled: *the girls look to the man and say quietly* thank you, sir.
Algund: *After they have finished eating, Algund commands his men* Tie each one to a different tree!


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