Letters to the Shakh

Frodo played by Hobbitness
Finduilas, Elfhild, Elffled and Rian played by Eowyn
Narrator, Vartang, Ceolwulf, Orc Bodyguard, The Jailer, Frodo's Ring and Derufin played by Wraith

Narrator: *It is the early morning of July 30, 3019. Ceolwulf has taken Frodo to the walkway around Baggins' Hall*
Narrator: *It has been almost two weeks since Ceolwulf was wounded but he has progressed to the extent where he is able to resume his duties*
Narrator: *A table and chairs have been set up in the enclosed walkway so that Frodo can sit and take the air and look out upon the spacious gardens behind Baggins' Hall*
Narrator: *Facing westward, the walkway catches a breeze that blows over the mountains. In the garden, the waters of the fountains splash over rocks and run down a slight incline into a series of pools*
Narrator: *It is almost beyond conception that such a place of beauty could exist in Mordor, but a pleasant clime must exist in order to produce the bountiful crops that feed the armies of Mordor*
Narrator: *And Sauron withholds the dark clouds that sometimes blow across the mountains and cover the site of the great temple under construction*
Narrator: *Frodo has just breakfasted upon quantities of bacon, eggs, sausage, bread, fruit and tea. Now Finduilas has cleared the table and brought cups of tea for Frodo and Ceolwulf who sit to his right, looking at two huge stacks of parchment*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, did you ever see the like of this!
Frodo: *looks over at the stacks of parchments Ceolwulf is looking at* What is that?
Finduilas: *eyes the large stacks of parchments* what are they bothering you with now, my lord?
Ceolwulf: *Stares at the stack in wonder*
Frodo: *to Finduilas* I have not had a chance to read them yet
Ceolwulf: The pile to your left is the records of the crops *It is a very large pile*
Frodo: *stares at the pile that towers over his head, wide eyed*
Ceolwulf: The pile to your right is your official correspondence, as lord of this province *It is a smaller pile*
Ceolwulf: Which do you want to work on first?
Frodo: Ai Elbereth! *he sighs*
Frodo: Well...I will tackle the larger one first.
Finduilas: *looks over their shoulders at the stacks in wonder.... lord frodo has quite a lot of reading to do*
Frodo: Let me see the crop records
Ceolwulf: I have looked over some of them, Master Frodo, but not all
Frodo: *mutters under his breath* I can't believe they actually send me these records, as though this charade were real!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gets up, and walks over to Frodo's left and hands him a sheaf of records of pomegranate production*
Frodo: *leafs through the sheaf, wondering what he is supposed to do with the records. In the Shire, all he had to do was discuss the crops with Sam*
Finduilas: well, my lord, i think i shall leave you in peace, for quite a bit of rreading is on your hands. i will be in the kitchen having a cup of tea if you need me
Frodo: Very well *nods to Finduilas*
Ceolwulf: Nay, stay, tarry, Mistress Finduilas. Perhaps you can help us on the records of fig production
Ceolwulf: Pray take a seat, and have a cup of tea with us
Frodo: Oh, that would be wonderful *brightens at the idea of having help with all these records*
Ceolwulf: I never thought I would be reading records of such exotic crops. Back in Rohan, all we had to be concerned with were the oat, barley and other grain production
Finduilas: *she smiles* all right then *takes a seat, and pours herself a cup of tea*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes a stack of the paper and then goes back and sits in his chair to Frodo's right*
Ceolwulf: *He looks down at the papers and reads* Well, at least they put them in common tongue and not that foul speech they use!
Finduilas: *she reaches over and takes a few sheets from the records stack and reads them... after a bit she looks up to frodo* well, at least the citrus production is coming along well..
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf pours intently over the papers, then throws his head back and laughs*
Ceolwulf: Why are we reading these things!
Frodo: I know, I have no idea
Finduilas: *after shuffling through more papers she looks up* i have not even heard of some of these crops!
Frodo: *laughs a little with Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *Thinks to himself: That is the first laugh I have had since coming to this accursed place!*
Frodo: Neither have I!
Ceolwulf: They seek to play a trick upon us, Master Frodo
Frodo: This entire charade is a trick on us
Finduilas: *laughs* perhaps to drown us under cascading waves of records!
Frodo: *laughs again, surprising himself*
Ceolwulf: Now I read about the gross tonage of beef that was produced and how it was dried. Then I read about how much wheat was harvested and how much was made into waybread for orcs. It appears they have introduced a new crop here, pipeweed
Frodo: *leans his head on his hand, still chuckling at the absurdity of it all* Oh my
Finduilas: we shall never have a lack of reading material, that is for sure
Ceolwulf: Note, Master Frodo, all the signatures that are already on these papers. Signed by farm overseers, and then by lesser nobles, and finally by army officers
Frodo: They don't want me to sign them, do they?
Ceolwulf: And the space down at the bottom of all with your name printed neatly beside a blank. "Signed by Lord Baggins"
Frodo: *groans*
Ceolwulf: Yes, they want you to sign ALL of them!
Finduilas: *gasps* oh my!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf groans* How do they even know your signature!
Frodo: Well, one, I don't want my name on any official correspondence of Mordor. Two...
Ceolwulf: Have you signed anything for them yet?
Frodo: *he begins to laugh again* This is the strangest form of torture I've ever seen!
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, as much as I do not like it, the consequences of your not signing might be too grim to consider
Frodo: What do you mean?
Finduilas: *nods* aye, torture indeed
Frodo: and no, I have not signed anything for them before
Ceolwulf: *Remembers the fortress not too far away, and what Derufin told him about it. He shudders and an icy chill runs down his back*
Frodo: *furrows his brow* Ceolwulf...what is the matter?
Ceolwulf: One thing you can say for them Master Frodo. They are methodical and keep excellent records
Ceolwulf: The consequences, Master Frodo, of not signing them......
Frodo: Yes?
Finduilas: *a feeling of dread hits her, reminding her that though life seems peaceful and pleasant on the outside, they are still in mordor*
Ceolwulf: Derufin told me about the things he saw at the fortress, Durburzkala
Frodo: *pales*
Ceolwulf: About level on level of underground dungeons and torture chambers
Frodo: He told me as well
Frodo: *turns several shades whiter and seems to withdraw into himself*
Ceolwulf: I cannot help feeling that there is a grim purpose to everything that happens here, though we cannot see it at the time. But it is true that the enemy's mind is one of order, not chaos. He seeks to rule, not destroy
Frodo: Ceolwulf, tell me in plain Common what you think will happen if I do not sign these, and what you think will happen if I do
Finduilas: *she would like to forget that she is in mordor and a thrall whose life is in the hands of her enemies, they all would. but the knowledge always comes back somehow*
Ceolwulf: *he bends his head and reflects on the words Frodo has spoken before answering*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I have seen the scars you bear upon your body....
Ceolwulf: And I suspect I know where you received them
Frodo: *looks down and flushes, then looks back at Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: They would do it to you again!
Finduilas: *she blanches, and her eyes widen*
Frodo: *desperate look, then sits back heavily in the chair with a sigh*
Ceolwulf: Now they try guile and subterfuge and cunning instead of force
Ceolwulf: Here, sign your name. Let me see how it looks, and perhaps I can turn my hand to forgery *he smiles*
Finduilas: *she smiles* maybe i could help too, and join in this game of crime *laughs*
Frodo: *smiles at both of them*
Ceolwulf: Aye, Mistress Finduilas! You can read and write!
Frodo: Well...I still hesitate to put my name on such documents as these
Ceolwulf: I doubt very much that it matters if you read them with much care. They make a mockery of this. They just want his signature upon all this, for foul purposes, I would say
Frodo: It would be acknowledging that I am what they say I am, a lord of Mordor. And Ceolwulf is right, who knows what they would do with my signature!
Frodo: What if they use it to bring harm on others?
Frodo: *wrings his hands*
Finduilas: your assumptions of what would befall lord frodo if he failed to sign these papers i suspect to be correct, ceolwulf, but perhaps it would relieve lord frodo's conscience if we signed rather than he
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, there is no way I can see that any harm other than boredom at reading these reports can come to anyone because of your signature
Ceolwulf: Whoever the next is to read all this will indeed be taxed at the endless records of fig, date, orange, vegetable and beef production
Frodo: Thank you, Finduilas, but consider...if they do find out you forged my signature, you and Ceolwulf could suffer the same things I have.
Finduilas: perhaps he shall give the eyes of the next recipient some strain as well!
Frodo: *smiles at Ceolwulf* Well, then, I guess I will begin this endless task
Ceolwulf: Nay, Master Frodo, let me help you
Frodo: *begins signing the papers, still uneasy about it*
Frodo: *looks pointedly at Ceolwulf* I am not going to risk harm to you again!
Ceolwulf: *He gets up again, and walks over to the end of the table where a parchment, ink and scrolls are*
Ceolwulf: *He hands a piece of parchment to Finduilas and then picks up the inkwell and quill, carries them over and sets them in front of Frodo* Here, write your name on this, so I can see how you sign
Frodo: *writes his name*
Ceolwulf: Who knows, after living in Mordor a while, I might be forced to turn to a life of crime *he grins*
Frodo: I don't want you to forge my name...*looks at the huge stack* but maybe halfway through this pile I will want you to *chuckles*
Ceolwulf: *Looks at Frodo and how he writes his signature*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, hand me the quill. Let me set my hand at this!
Finduilas: *observes the way frodo writes his name, then looks back up to him* aye, and i also wish to try as well
Frodo: *keeps the quill* You know Vartang is always looking for ways to harm you, especially you, Ceolwulf
Frodo: He might figure out that you signed my name on these documents
Ceolwulf: But please, let me try!
Ceolwulf: if I prove good at this, perhaps I can become a forger of documents someday. Who knows when the trade might come in helpful
Ceolwulf: *His look of merriment changes as a thought comes to him and he remembers words from his father about being honest... What am I thinking of! Now I think of crime as easily as I think of taking a drink of water!*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf thinks again: And what next am I to consider? A pickpocket, a common thief! Then a murderer! I will not let this foul land sway my judgment!*
Frodo: *holds the quill to his chest* No, Ceolwulf, and you too, Finduilas
Frodo: Thank you for the offer, but I can manage these
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I would do this to save your strength, though it is a matter I would never consider in the West, but this land brings changes. I can see all too well now that we become forced to do what we would not do otherwise
Finduilas: *nods gravely* we are indeed in the land of darkness
Frodo: *looks down and says quietly* I watched my dearest friend endure unspeakable torments in the Dark Tower. It was almost worse than what I endured myself. I will not risk that again, for any of us
Frodo: *continues signing the documents*
Finduilas: *notices that there is not much tea left, either in the pot or the cups* let me get you both some more tea, my lord and ceolwulf, as well as some cakes
Ceolwulf: *Thinks how he almost did something he would never do in Rohan and wonders at the prevailing presence of evil that is always unseen*
Frodo: Thank you, Finduilas *signing*
Ceolwulf: *And wonders yet more if the only reason he never thought of such a thing in Rohan was because such temptation and need never came to him there*
Finduilas: *she nods, scoots out her chair, gets up and heads to the kitchen to get more refreshments*
Frodo: *burns with the frustration of having to pretend that all the horrors of the Dark Tower never happened, having to go on with life as though it were normal...as normal as it can be here*
Ceolwulf: *He says under his breath* Sometimes the easiest thing proves the most difficult in the long term
Frodo: *looks questioningly at Ceolwulf*
Rian: *rian, who has been in the garden picking flowers, walks toward frodo's table, and bows when she nears him. she holds a basket filled with flowers. she smiles to frodo* my lord, i picked these for you
Frodo: *His eyes widen with surprise, then he grins at Rian* Why thank you!
Ceolwulf: *He ponders a while before he answers* It was easy enough to run at Pelennor, there at the first, but then it proved the worst choice of all. The easy road is not always the best road
Rian: let me go to the kitchen and put them in a vase
Ceolwulf: For near the middle, the road can turn rocky and treacherous
Frodo: *nods smiling to Rian*
Frodo: Yes, Ceolwulf, that is very true
Ceolwulf: Or turn to a mire hidden in darkness which you come to unawares, and suddenly, it catches you and drags you to its depths
Ceolwulf: *He turns to Rian* Good morning, lady!
Frodo: *shakes his head and laughs softly* It reminds me of how I was captured, too
Ceolwulf: *He sighs* Master Frodo, you must sign them then!
Frodo: Sam and I were traveling to Mount Doom...we never made it there. We fell in with an orc army--we were disguised as orcs--but we escaped
Frodo: To think of it, we had already escaped! And then I took a drink of water from the flask...
Rian: *rian takes the basket of flowers to the kitchen. soon she comes back holding an ornate vase filled with the flowers from the garden.*
Frodo: The orc commander saw my head and shoulders above the rock where we were hiding
Frodo: and that was how we were captured...because I took a drink of water!
Ceolwulf: *shakes his head*
Rian: *places the vase on the table, away from the parchments, not wanting to soil them by a stray droplet of water*
Frodo: Yes, the easy road is treacherous! If I had waited to take a drink, we would have made it to Mount Doom...and so many fates would have been different
Frodo: *smiles at Rian*
Ceolwulf: Aye *he says in a low voice, and continues shaking his head*
Frodo: Thank you, my dear, that is very sweet of you
Rian: *she smiles back at frodo* i thought you might like them, my lord
Ceolwulf: *Sighs deeper* Then after that.... your correspondence
Frodo: *He sees her as very young, for though she is taller than he is, he is over thirty years older than she is*
Ceolwulf: Lady, their fragrance is sweet, of a purity that I would have thought unknown here. Strange, how the eyes can deceive and the senses play you for a fool sometimes
Frodo: It is a grace of the Valar that we see beauty even here
Rian: *she nods* yavanna blesses even this land, though it is tainted by the nameless enemy
Ceolwulf: And the enemy uses even that grace for what reason we know not
Ceolwulf: For is he not a maia?
Frodo: Aye, but a maia who uses his power for evil
Narrator: *Reluctantly but resolutely, Frodo begins signing the papers. He is still not finished after a half an hour. Finduilas comes back with tea and refreshments, but then leaves. Frodo's hand grows tired and his hand trembles as he signs his name*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf reaches his left hand out to steady Frodo's*
Frodo: *smiles wearily at Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: Not too many more left, Master Frodo
Ceolwulf: You can do it!
Frodo: *rubs his hand, then continues signing*
Ceolwulf: Come on, just a few more
Narrator: *Finally, after 45 minutes, Frodo finishes signing his name, and Ceolwulf takes the papers away. He will later roll them up and put them in parchment scroll holders and tie them, ready to be given back to the messenger who brought them*
Frodo: *Frodo sits back, clenching and unclenching his fist and flexing his shoulders, stiff from bending over the table*
Ceolwulf: *He looks at Frodo and shakes his head* Now the correspondence, but I have read much of it already
Frodo: *sighs* Oh, I forgot that there was still another pile!
Ceolwulf: Many of these letters are not worth reading. They are messages of praise for you. These are obviously would-be courtiers who seek to gain favor with you
Frodo: *narrows his eyes* Spare me!
Frodo: Thank you for reading them instead
Frodo: If I have to hear "Friend of the Great Eye" one more time...*trails off with a threatening look*
Ceolwulf: So far, there is only one letter of importance. It is from a lord who offers his daughter to you in marriage. The lord writes *he chuckles* that his daughter is beyond the goddesses in beauty, grace and virtue, and he adds, has a generous dowry
Frodo: *throws back his head and laughs*
Ceolwulf: Probably a homely lass whom he can marry to no one else *he grins*
Ceolwulf: He also requests your presence and the presence of your "advisor" Lord Vartang at a party in two weeks
Frodo: *smiles, though he considers if he wanted to marry, it would be impossible for him too, scarred as he is*
Frodo: Oh no. Don't show that to Vartang! I hope he has not seen it!
Ceolwulf: He is a lord of the Southern Province of Nurn, but he says his family is originally from Umbar and is of the finest of the Numenorean line
Ceolwulf: Vartang? *he laughs* I wager he has read every last one of these letters!
Frodo: Oh....how strange.
Frodo: I wonder how he came to be a lord of Nurn!
Ceolwulf: I daresay this lord is a Black Numenorean! For Umbar was first a colony of Numenor before it plunged beneath the waves
Frodo: Black Numenorean...that sounds familiar, but I seem to have forgotten much.
Ceolwulf: He also says that he will provide for all the servants you need to attend to you and they will be housed in the servants' quarters at his hall
Frodo: *nervous* Then you would not be coming?
Ceolwulf: Black Numenoreans, Master Frodo? These were once enlightened ones, part elven, who fought in the War of Wrath
Frodo: None of you? Only myself and Vartang?
Ceolwulf: No, he will provide for all of your servants, so we would be staying with the lord's servants
Frodo: Oh...but I do not wish to be alone with Vartang! *shudders*
Frodo: But tell me of the Black Numenoreans
Ceolwulf: Then these Numenoreans fell. They turned to sorcery, attempting to forestall death or even evade it entirely
Ceolwulf: They practiced arcane arts. Some say necromancy, and other foul devices. They became great in knowledge, but fell from wisdom
Ceolwulf: I know of these things because I had kin in Gondor, through my great-grandmother on my mother's side
Frodo: Do you know if they have survived the war?
Ceolwulf: All I know of the war save for rumors happened on March 15, and I know nothing else
Ceolwulf: But the Black Numenoreans have been here and practiced their evils for many ages of men and now, in this dark age, I would say they increase in number and power
Frodo: *sighs* I suppose they do
Ceolwulf: Since you are lord here, I think it would suffice for your scribe to write letters of acknowledgement for these trivial letters, but you must write to this lord himself, I ween
Ceolwulf: I would advise to turn down his offer of the daughter tactfully but not his offer of the party or else Lord Vartang would have words with you
Frodo: Ah, I have words with Lord Vartang all the time
Frodo: It would probably be worse to go to the party
Frodo: I will tell him I am not well enough to go
Finduilas: *finduilas comes back to frodo's table, carrying a large tray laden with food - second breakfast. she sets it on the table and smiles to frodo and ceolwulf*
Frodo: which is partly true, because I certainly do not feel like playing the lord at a party. Why, I would look even more like a traitor to the West!
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, that is for you to decide. I know I do not care to spend time at this lord's hall
Frodo: *thanks Finduilas*
Ceolwulf: Thank you, Mistress Finduilas. Always you attend to our needs like a mother
Finduilas: *she smiles* i see that lord frodo has finished signing all those horrid papers
Frodo: Yes...*thinks of his own mother. He has not thought of her in a long time*
Ceolwulf: *Thinks of his mother in Rohan, and wonders if she yet fares well, and of his father who stayed behind to guard Edoras. Where is he, he thinks? Does he yet live or has he fallen?*
Frodo: *looks at Finduilas strangely for a while, then catches himself* Yes, finally, and my hand is still on!
Frodo: See? *shakes it, smiling*
Finduilas: *she laughs* a good thing! a wonder it didn't fall off
Ceolwulf: *he chuckles* Aye, yet indeed your hand remains!
Frodo: Though you had to hold it on for a minute there
Frodo: *laughs*
Frodo: I wonder if they will make me sign another stack tomorrow
Finduilas: *pours them both cups of tea.... cakes and fruit adorn the tray*
Frodo: Then my hand probably WILL fall off *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *He laughs* Perhaps, but let us hope not, Master Frodo!
Frodo: Finduilas, how are your boys? I have not seen them in a good while
Ceolwulf: *He reaches over and takes an orange from the tray and bites into it, his face twists at the bitterness and he spits it out in his hand*
Ceolwulf: What is this? *He says with a puzzled look*
Frodo: Oh--Ceolwulf, I think you are supposed to peel it first
Ceolwulf: Peel? *he says questioningly*
Frodo: Like this. Finduilas has shown me how to eat them already. *tears a piece of the peel off the orange and hands it back to Ceolwulf*
Frodo: *turns back to Finduilas*
Finduilas: *nods* you must peel it first. it is quite sweet
Ceolwulf: *Takes it from Frodo's hand and looks down at it, then hesitantly bites into it*
Ceolwulf: Aye! *he smiles* it is indeed good!
Frodo: *smiles*
Finduilas: *turns back to frodo* ah, to answer your question, my lord. i am teaching anborn, the eldest, how to read and write
Frodo: *brightens with interest* You are? How is he progressing?
Frodo: *is reminded of having lessons with Bilbo*
Finduilas: *laughs slightly* well, it is a bit of a struggle. the poor dear thinks he can never master it, but he will in time.
Narrator: *At this moment, the door to the walkway opens. In swaggers Vartang, reeking of wine and flanked by two orcs, part of his bodyguard*
Frodo: If there is anything I can do to help, I would truly enjoy it. *he is cut off by Vartang's entrance*
Finduilas: *smells the scent of wine of lesser quality, then looks up.... vartang approaches. she bows*
Ceolwulf: *Ceowulf rises and bows and then goes to the back of Frodo's chair*
Finduilas: *says softly to frodo* i am sure the boys would enjoy your company... but we shall talk of this later
Frodo: *nods to Finduilas, then struggles to keep the edge out of his voice* Good day, Vartang
Frodo: What brings you here?
Vartang: Ah! *He stands and looks at the table* What do we have here, shakh? Another charming domestic scene I see
Frodo: *faint smile as though at a bothersome child* Yes, we were having second breakfast.
Vartang: Good morning to you, Shakh, and a good morning it is indeed *He reaches across the table, picks up two oranges and tosses them back at the orcs* Here, lads, a treat for you!
Frodo: *flushes momentarily. He was going to give those to Finduilas for the boys*
Narrator: *The orcs catch them in their hands and cram them into their mouths, liking both the taste of the sweet and sour. They chew them quickly, orange juice dripping from the corners of their mouths*
Finduilas: *stands by the side of the table* lord vartang, would you like a cup of tea?
Narrator: *They grunt their approval and then bow to him in appreciation*
Frodo: *grimaces at the orcs' messy eating habits*
Vartang: Tea? I thought perhaps wine
Frodo: *shares half annoyed, half knowing look with Ceolwulf*
Finduilas: *she had guessed that that would be what he wanted.* i shall go to the pantry then and bring back a bottle and a goblet for you, my lord *she bows and goes back inside*
Vartang: *Vartang lounges against the low balustrade and props his foot against it* Industrious, I see, Shakh
Vartang: Finished all the work?
Frodo: *a tense atmosphere reigns as Frodo and Ceolwulf wonder what Vartang plans for them today. It is never good*
Frodo: Yes, they are all signed. I have only to write a letter.
Finduilas: *finduilas comes back to the porch, sets the goblet and bottle on the table, fills the goblet. she then picks it up and hands it to vartang*
Vartang: *He takes it from her hands and nods, then stands, drinking*
Vartang: Housekeeper, bid the fair maids come out. They will fill my morning with great delight
Frodo: I believe they are busy this morning.
Finduilas: *she sighs* as you wish, my lord *she bows and leaves the walkway to find the girls*
Frodo: *loudly so Finduilas will hear* She may not be able to tear them away from their work
Vartang: Shakh, I strongly advise you to accept the invitation of Shakh Lorthang. Attend this party
Frodo: Why?
Vartang: Who knows? Perhaps you will come away betrothed *he throws his head back and laughs*
Finduilas: *finduilas thinks as she walks through the house..... always that vartang wants to gawk at those poor girls like some baseborn wretch who lurks around the docks near minas tirith*
Vartang: Perhaps Lord Lorthang's daughter might have Dwarvish blood in her and suit your size better *he laughs harder*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf glares at the indignity at the words of this blackguard*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls enter the roofed walkway and approach frodo's table. frodo and ceolwulf are seated... vartang stands nearby. they groan inwardly at the site of the man they loath*
Vartang: Ahhh... *a long sigh escapes his lips at the sight of the girls*
Frodo: *Frodo has been staring at Vartang with narrowed eyes, not giving him the satsifaction of seeing him upset*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild wears a dress of pink, elffled is clad in green and rian in blue. they bow before frodo and vartang... giving greetings of good mornings... then stand near frodo's chair*
Frodo: *leans slightly toward them protectively*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *finduilas remains in the kitchen, tending to the preparation of the noon meal... more meals than the usual have been ordered to be prepared, to suit frodo's hobbit appetite*
Vartang: *he nods to them, and over the top of his wineglass he looks at them appreciatively* Aye, Master Baggins, indeed perhaps you will come back betrothed to a maid with a generous dowry. You grow rich in Mordor
Vartang: *He looks at the three girls* Perhaps it is time *his dark eyes narrow over the rim of the glass* Perhaps it is time I take a wife.... or wives
Frodo: *swallows his anger and continues to be silent, knowing Vartang seeks only to infuriate him...but his glare becomes darker at the mention of the girls*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild and elffled glare at vartang, rian looks away, wishing she were back in minas tirith, where life was normal and folk were decent*
Vartang: *He finishes his goblet in one gulp, then extends it towards the girls* More wine, my doves
Frodo: *wonders what he will do if Vartang presses the issue of taking a wife of his own*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled hesitantly steps out from behind frodos chair and picks up the bottle of wine. then she refills vartangs glass*
Vartang: *He nods to her and smiles, then drinks*
Vartang: But none of you maids have dowries. I shall have to take you as you are *The orcs leaning against the inner wall behind him laugh a low evil laugh*
Frodo: *with weary indulgence, as though reminding an oft-reprimanded charge* Vartang. Remember these girls were given to me and I am not willing to give them up.
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled had quickly retreated to her sisters side behind frodo's chair. now both sisters from rohan glare at the man from the east with hatred simmering in their eyes, their fists clenching*
Vartang: The penniless foundlings of defeated countries taken in by Mordor. Perhaps to be elevated as wives of a Lord of the East
Frodo: *thinks: They would rather be penniless than rich wives of such a man, and they are right*
Vartang: *He takes another drink and says slowly* Give them up, shakh? Give them up, you say? *he throws back his head again and laughs loudly and the orcs join him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild stomps her foot* none of us shall be your wives willingly!
Vartang: Maid, when I want your words, I shall ask you for them!
Vartang: And until that time, keep your peace! *he gives her a menacing look*
Frodo: *has great difficulty controlling his rage. Of course he knows he does not really have authority, but he is their master for now and it is their main defense*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *she gets ready to say somethin really insulting, but notices vartang's look and bites her tongue, her eyes narrowing*
Vartang: *he sets his goblet down on the bannister* Step away from your master's *he grates the word "master"* chair
Frodo: *rises* Why?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild grasps the back of frodo's chair and clenches it tightly* does lord frodo command us to do so?
Frodo: No, I do not!
Vartang: *He looks Frodo up and down, his dark eyes laughing* Aye, you command *he laughs*
Frodo: *the scene is almost comical: a small hobbit before his chair, and three normal sized girls behind it. But Frodo knows there is more strength in himself than Vartang guesses*
Vartang: *he bends his head down, and then raises it back up* Then I shall rephrase it. Pray, lovely flowers of the desert, move away from his chair
Frodo: *perhaps he is a worthy match for Vartang, in wits at least*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild says* our master did not command us to do so
Frodo: *sighs* Why do you want them to move away?
Frodo: *perhaps he can avoid another fight if he just lets them move aside*
Vartang: *he puts his hands out palm up and says in a mock humble voice* I but wish to think of them when they wear their new gowns at the great lord's party, to envision their loveliness as I dance with them. I can see nothing when they hide behind the tall back of your chair, and I shall dance with them!
Frodo: *weary, pained, annoyed look at Vartang*
Frodo: Perhaps we shall not even go to the party.
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian's face blushes scarlet, and elfhild and elffled simmer with hatred and repressed anger at being thralls, forced to be in the nameless land far away from their homes*
Frodo: *sits in the chair again*
Vartang: Ah, shakh *he takes another drink from the goblet and swallows* I shall dance with them and perhaps come away betrothed to one of them
Vartang: *he chuckles evilly* Or perhaps all of them, and even the lord's daughter too
Frodo: I doubt that. They would need my permission and I would not give it. But perhaps you may become betrothed to the lord's daughter
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled whispers to her sister in rohirric* perhaps it would be best if we slipped out from behind the lord's chair, ere vartang become wroth
Vartang: Ah, poor man that I am, no lady graces my hall, back in the East
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled touches her sister's hand, and takes it, pulling her gently from behind frodo's chair to its side... rian follows hesitantly. elfhild continues to glare at vartang*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *under her breath, elfhild mutters* that's because no lady deserves to live with you
Vartang: But I have been a soldier for years and no time for a wife. Perhaps now is the time
Vartang: *He watches as they come out from behind the chair*
Frodo: *ignores the complaint, takes a fig and begins to eat it* *smiles sadly at the girls when they move out, signaling that he approves their peacemaking move*
Vartang: Come, turn yourselves, let me see you
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild halts and says between clenched teeth* and let you gawk at us? never vartang
Frodo: *fidgets, but considers there is really nothing he can do to stop Vartang from doing this*
Vartang: *His eyes flash with anger at the words* I will gaze upon what I wish!
Frodo: Ladies, please...I do not want to have another of you harmed.
Frodo: I am sorry...but...*trails off*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *fear stays elffled's anger, and rian feels helpless and silently despairs. but the coils of wrath begin to tighten around elfhild's mind, choking out all caution*
Vartang: Be glad that I would look upon the cast off foundlings of the storm, of defeated countries!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild leaves the sides of the others and takes a step towards vartang* if you wish to win our favor, do not speak ill of our countries!
Frodo: *rises and walks over to Vartang, trying to lead him away from the girls while talking* So...why is it that you advise me to attend this party, other than the possibilty of becoming betrothed...
Frodo: which you now know I do not desire?
Frodo: *looks over his shoulder and mouths "leave now" at the girls*
Vartang: *Vartang brushes Frodo's hand off his sleeve and takes a step closer to Elfhild*
Frodo: *throws up his hands with a groan*
Vartang: *He looks aside at Frodo* To please one of your vassal lords, shakh
Vartang: *he laughs at Elfhild* Your countries are defeated. You are penniless!
Vartang: Rohan surrendered, its king begging terms of us! Eomer, King, sold his sister as part of the terms of peace. She will wed one of our chosing!
Frodo: Vartang, stop this!
Frodo: This is to no purpose!
Frodo: Now tell me why you are here, other than to insult the ladies!
Narrator: *Ceolwulf moves away from Frodo's chair as though to go towards Vartang. His fists clenched, anger rising in him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild whispers in rage* why, you, you...! you...! *she quickly strides over to vartang, makes a fist, brings her fist back and punches him in the face*
Frodo: *moves beside Ceolwulf and takes his arm* Ceolwulf, no---oh Valar. *turns white as Elfhild strikes Vartang*
Vartang: *The look of shock crosses his face as the momentum of the blow strikes him in the nose, driving him back. He catches himself before he falls into the bannister*
Frodo: *quickly he and Ceolwulf pull Elfhild away from Vartang*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *slowly the red mist before elfhilds eyes begins to clear, and she realizes her fist is stinging and vartang seems to be hurt. oh... oh.. what have i done? she gasps, and turns on her heels, breaking away from frodo and ceolwulf and begins to run*
Frodo: Elffled, Rian, you go too, quick *he whispers to them*
Vartang: *Vartang reaches out a hand behind him and grasps the bannister. With his other hand, he wipes the blood that flows freely from his nose* GUARDS! *he shouts*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian fearfully nod to frodo and run after elfhild*
Vartang: *The orcs leave their stations and pursue Elfhild, while Vartang bellows curses in Black Speech after them*
Frodo: *looks desperately to Ceolwulf, wondering what to do. Frodo knows he is no match for an orc*
Frodo: *commands the orcs to stop and prays they will*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian step aside for vartang and the orcs, and follow behind them.... elfhild runs panicked through the hall, trying to get to her room to lock herself inside*
Vartang: *The orcs ignore Frodo and race after the girl, Vartang behind them all*
Elfhild: *she gets to her room, slams the door behind her, locking it. she scoots a trunk in front of it, in desperation*
Orc Bodyguard: *The orcs rush to the door, but trying to open it and finding it locked, they wait panting for Vartang*
Elfhild: *her thoughts are scattered, and she trembles from fear. what next? what will happen when they get the door opem? she looks to the window... but there is no escape in this place*
Frodo: *sighs. This is going to take drastic measures again. He makes his way to Elfhild's room and stands in front of the door...hoping it may do some good*
Vartang: *Vartang stops, panting and says to the orcs* Scum! Fetch me a cloth for my nose. I am bleeding like a poleaxed ox!
Frodo: *hopes the orcs will only see his "station" as a shakh and not a tiny hobbit whom they could easily lift aside*
Vartang: *Vartang holds his hand to his nose and blood runs between his fingers*
Frodo: *stands leaning against the door*
Vartang: *He looks to Frodo and glares*
Frodo: *Frodo's expression is weary and almost nonexistent*
Vartang: Shakh *he says between clenched teeth* Move aside!
Elfhild: *inside her room, elfhild paces in a state of terror. what should she do? should she go out the window, or perhaps lock the shutters?*
Frodo: *beginning to feel afraid, he cannot think of a retort, but he does not move from the door*
Orc Bodyguard: *The orc rushes off, goes down the hall, comes back with a piece of cloth. Vartang holds it to his nose*
Vartang: Scum! Pick up your master gently.... oh yes gently, very gently *his voice is a hiss*
Elfhild: *elfhild decides to close the shutters to the window and lock them... now she waits inside for death, she fears*
Frodo: *How will he get Elfhild out of this? Will he even be able to get her out of this? Why did she not listen to him?! Will he have to watch her go to her death?*
Vartang: Never would we let harm come to the Friend of the Great Eye!
Frodo: *scoffs at Vartang*
Elfhild: *well, she thinks..... my mother, father and brother now are dead, at the hands of the enemy. perhaps soon i shall join them*
Frodo: I know your ways. You know where you found me, and how you found me.
Vartang: Slug! *he says to the orc* Fetch a chair for the Shakh and place him in it gently, gently. Let no harm come to him *he thinks: Kill the Halfling, cut his throat! Kill them all! But then he thinks again... if he dies, I die*
Orc Bodyguard: *The orc comes back with a chair, puts it across the hall, picks Frodo up, places him in the chair and holds him there*
Vartang: *Vartang thinks.... the Shire-rat is not worth my head, so he will live, and thus so will I*
Frodo: Let Elfhild suffer some other punishment than...mine. Let her find some other way to repay you...and let us both decide the discipline as we are both...shakhs
Vartang: *His voice moderates, and he wipes at his nose* Shakh, see what she has done. Shall I let such treachery as this go!
Frodo: *feels guilt and a rush of terror as the orc holds him. He knows he is not to be tortured now but he cannot help but fear it*
Frodo: I do not ask you to let it go
Frodo: I ask you to find some other form of discipline than death or torture
Frodo: *prays silently for aid to the Valar*
Vartang: *He takes one hand and reaches into his tunic, pulls out a ring of keys attached to his belt. He selects one and goes to the door*
Frodo: *struggles against the orc and again feels its claws in his shoulders*
Vartang: *He ignores Frodo and unlocks the door, and then commands the orc to push against it*
Elfhild: *she hears the sound of the key in the lock and terror anew surges through her. she rushes to the trunk that she pushed against the door and sits on it, hoping to add to the baricade, yet she knows her weight will not be that much of an impediment*
Frodo: *winces as the claws find his shoulder wounds and stops struggling*
Vartang: *The orc is unable to push the door open with the trunk behind it. Vartang puts his shoulder to the door and shoves hard, causing his nose to bleed furiously and saturate the cloth, blood dripping once again through his fingers*
Frodo: *a venomous edge to his voice* Vartang, do not strain yourself
Vartang: *Ignoring Frodo, together they force the door open and rush into the room. Frodo hears a scuffle, then screams*
Elfhild: *when they push the door open, elfhild falls off the trunk but quickly gets back up.. struggling wildly with the orc and vartang*
Frodo: *sits in stiff, shocked horror as he hears them seize Elfhild*
Vartang: *Soon they come out, the orc holding Elfhild about the waist as she kicks and struggles against him, her fingernails digging into the arms that hold her*
Frodo: *his lips part and sweat runs down his face as he sees Elfhild brought out of the room*
Elfhild: *she sobs and cries, hitting and kicking, and screaming desperately for help*
Frodo: *begins to struggle against the orc that holds him, forgetting that any hobbit, much less a sick one, cannot possibly tackle a man and an orc*
Vartang: *The orc clasps Elfhild tightly. Vartang walks beside them*
Vartang: *He commands the orc to halt and he looks at the girl* Now, my little spitfire, do you wish to walk or be carried?
Elfhild: *she stops struggling and looks up at vartang with fear-filled eyes, tears streaming down her face. she sobs, and coughs*
Vartang: *He laughs, the effort making his nose bleed more. He stands and looks at her*
Vartang: It is your choice, lady. Walk or be carried
Frodo: *horrified whisper*...Where?!
Elfhild: w-where......a-are we going? *she asks timidly*
Frodo: *fears he already knows the answer and prays, no, no!!!*
Vartang: *A pleased look in his eye, glad to see her fear, Vartang says softly* Below
Frodo: *struggles fiercely*
Elfhild: *she wails, new tears coming to her eyes*
Frodo: *his mind racing...how can he stop this? What can he do?*
Vartang: *He throws down the blood stained cloth, pulls out a dagger from his tunic and begins to cut a piece of cloth from it. Finished, he holds it to his nose*
Elfhild: *she tries to answer vartang's question* i... i..... i do not know.
Vartang: I do not wish to bleed to death while debating the matter with you, vixen!
Vartang: True it be that the accomodations are less lavish than you have become accustomed to of late, but you will find them good enough
Frodo: Vartang! Don't hurt her!...Let us find another way to deal with her!
Frodo: *his own voice beginning to rise with fear*
Elfhild: then put me down and let me walk with dignity *she swallows and says with resolution*
Vartang: Dignity! *he laughs* She-wolf, you have little enough of that left *The orc lets her down*
Vartang: Now, shakh, she will not be harmed. She will just.... have different quarters for a while. Not to her liking, I would say, but adequate. We do not want her... hurting herself, now do we?
Elfhild: *she hangs her head and sobs quietly*
Frodo: She would not hurt herself!
Vartang: I do not think, shakh, that you need to go with us. It is chilly and damp below, not good for your health. Twould jeapordize it
Vartang: But she is young and strong, and since she acts like a soldier, she should suffer the same fate as a soldier
Frodo: No! She acts like a lady far from home who loves her land and her people
Frodo: She should be treated like a lady
Elfhild: *her thoughts lead her back to when she was captured, her journey with the orcs through occupied gondor and the nameless land, horrible memories of being tied by the neck and wrists, and feeling the cruel whips of the slave drivers*
Frodo: You miserable scum! As if all the strain you have put me through did not jepoardize my health!
Frodo: And now you may jepoardize hers too
Frodo: Confine her in her room, if you must confine her!
Vartang: Lady! Lady! I think not. All know the reputation of the Rohirrim of being half-wild savages whose children roll around in the reek with their dogs. It is probably better than that which she is accustomed
Vartang: No, shakh, she has injured a lord of Khand and an officer in the Army of Mordor. To strike an officer of Mordor is to offend the dignity of Mordor! She has treated me in a foul way. She must learn her lesson
Frodo: Vartang, you have done the same to me!
Vartang: Shakh, stay here. The orc will take you back to your room
Frodo: and you do not suffer for it
Frodo: Yet you say I am a lord of Nurn
Vartang: I have done nothing to you, great shakh, I have seen to your care, your feeding
Vartang: *He turns from them, motioning to the maid and the orc bodyguard to follow. The other orc picks Frodo up and starts going towards his room*
Elfhild: *elfhild follows meekly, her head bowed slightly, still weeping*
Frodo: *Frodo sputters but can find nothing to say*
Frodo: *he blurts out as he is carried away* I'm sorry!
Vartang: *Vartang leads the orc and Elfhild back inside the hall, then goes down a corridor off the main part of the house, then comes to a door leading to a set of stairs. He tells the orc to strike a flint and light a torch just inside the door and to lead them down the stairs by the light of the torch*
Vartang: *He motions for Elfhild to go in front of him*
Elfhild: *she walks in front of vartang, dreading what fate will befall her*
Narrator: *The orc carrying Frodo takes him to his room, places him on the bed, goes back and tells Ceolwulf to assist his master. Ceolwulf comes in soon after and says only* I am sorry *He bows his head*
Vartang: *The set of stairs goes on deep into the earth, and then they come to a landing*
Elfhild: *elfhild is aware that she is trembling uncontrolably, but there is naught she can do about it. hesitantly she looks around... the torch cuts through some of the darkness, yet most of her surroundings are as black as the night*
Vartang: *They pause on the landing and see below them the flickering light of other torches*
Vartang: *He tells her* Go on!
Elfhild: *she walks forward slowly, waiting to be directed to whatever doom that waits*
Frodo: *Frodo sits up and returns Ceolwulf's solemn gaze a moment, then leans against him and closes his eyes with a small shudder, trying not to think about what is happening below*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf sits on a chair beside the bed and begins to hum a faint tune in Rohirric, hoping to calm Frodo*
Vartang: *At the end of this long set of stairs, they come to a long corridor. Orcs stand at guard along the walls*
The Jailer: *The jailer, a man of short height and yellowish hue, showing his part orcish descent, comes to Vartang and bows* Master, ye have a little business for us today? I'm sure we can find accomidations for the grand lady *the corners of his mouth turn to an evil leer*
Elfhild: *she looks down at the floor*
Vartang: *Vartang looks at the man* Aye, indeed I do! Do you have accomodations worthy of one of such high dignity?
The Jailer: *The man replies, flashing teeth that are more fangs than anything* Does it have to be clean straw, master, for there have been none here for many months
Vartang: *Vartang laughs* Nay, the grand lady is used to moldy straw upon the floor. It is more than she is used to back in Rohan
The Jailer: *the man laughs* Then we can set her up good and proper, master!
Elfhild: *she gives a little cry, and begins to weep again*
Vartang: Then, lead us away to her new lodging!
The Jailer: *The man grins and motions them to follow him. Soon they arrive at the door of a cell. He opens it, then backs away*
Vartang: *The orc with the torch walks in and sets the torch in a sconce on the wall. Vartang says* After you, my lady
Elfhild: *elfhild slowly walks into the cell, her head bent, sobbing with renewed passion*
Vartang: *Vartang and the jailer follow* This will be your home for a while. How do you like it, lady of dignity?
Elfhild: *she squeaks slightly and her shoulders shake from crying, but she does not answer*
Vartang: *He turns to the jailer* Keeper of Shakh Baggins' dungeon, fetch me a scorge!
Elfhild: *her head shoots up and her eyes widen* please, no, not that! *she wails*
The Jailer: *The jailer, a pleased expression on his face, bows, leaves them and goes to another room, and soon brings back a cat-o-nine, bows and presents it to Vartang*
Vartang: *Vartang holds the hilt in his hand and cracks the whip*
Elfhild: *terror seizes her, and she falls to her knees before vartang* please, lord, not that, not again, not after the orcs --- *she babbles incoherently*
Vartang: *He bends the whip down, lifts it up and places it under her chin, forcing her face to look up at him*
Vartang: *He stands there looking at her* You have attacked an officer of the army of Mordor. Why should I be lenient?
Elfhild: *he can see the fear in her eyes when he forces her to look up at him. she stammers* i... i... i'm sorry... i... *sobs again, and coughs*
Vartang: Maid, do you know it is within my rights as both a nobleman of Khand and an officer in the Army of Mordor to whip you senseless?
Elfhild: i..... i.... *she sniffles, then brings up a hand to wipe her nose*
Vartang: You what? *He pushes the tip of the whip upward, lifting her head more*
Elfhild: *she closes her eyes* i... i... i... don't know... i.... i'm sorry
Vartang: Speak! Don't stammer like a rustic!
Elfhild: *tries to speak* t...the... people of my land, they are.... they are proud people. we ...... we..... do not take well to ... to... thraldom, lord.... *she swallows*
Vartang: *he lifts her head higher* Maid, know this. I will have obedience!
Vartang: Your country shall know obedience and order for the first time in its history and you will learn it too! Do not try such a thing again!
Elfhild: *she swallows again, her neck hurting from forced into this position*
Elfhild: *stammers* i... i... will learn *more tears escape her eyes*
Vartang: Then consider this your first lesson. Pray there are no others! *He lowers the whip slowly as he looks into her eyes. He then turns to the jailer* Give her a candle, and a blanket, a flask of water but nothing to eat until tomorrow
Elfhild: *she lowers her head, and rubs her neck with her hand*
Vartang: *he replaces the whip with his other hand and forces her chin up so she will have to look at him once more*
Vartang: Remember your dignity, my lady. Keep it well, and we will have good dealings. Forget it, and there will be no mercy next time!
Elfhild: *swallows, again having her head forced up to look at vartang* i understand
Vartang: Understand it well! *He slowly lowers his hand and then backs away from her. He bows and motions for the orc to take the torch and follow him out* I bid you enjoy your night in your new lodgings! Farewell!
Frodo: *Despite Ceolwulf's humming, Frodo has been listening for screams from below. He is relieved to have heard none but is still on edge*
Vartang: *The jailer follows behind them, and they walk out of the cell. The jailer takes the key from the hook on his belt and locks the cell door. Vartang says to the jailer* Make the lady feel at home, keeper of Shakh Baggins' dungeon!
Vartang: *He motions to the orc with the torch to follow him and they go back up the stairs. The jailer laughs*
Elfhild: *before vartang, the jailer and the orc with the torch leave, elfhild takes advantage of the dim light and surveys her cell. she crawls over to a pile of moldly hay and throws herself upon it*
Elfhild: *soon, she is plunged into darkness. she curls up into a little ball, grabbing a fistfull of the hay and clenching it angerly, sobbing a few last times*
Narrator: *The jailer comes back to the door, unlocks it, opens the door and walks through. He places a candle in a candle holder on the floor, strikes the tender and lights it. Another orc follows in behind, bringing a blanket and a flask of water.*
Narrator: *He pitches this to the floor and then they both turn and walk out, the jailer locking the cell behind, then silence except for the faint sound of water dripping somewhere*
Elfhild: *she quickly rises to her feet, and grabs the blanket and the water flask and takes them back to the pile of straw, thankful for the small light of the candle*
Vartang: *Reaching the top of the stairs, Vartang walks through the open door, the orc following him. The orc extinguishes the torch and puts it back in the sconce on the wall*
Vartang: *Vartang turns and goes down the corridor, leading back to the main part of the house, and then goes to the section where Frodo's room is*
Vartang: *He walks down the hall, comes to Frodo's room and opens the door* Truly, shakh, you keep a good dungeon!
Frodo: *jerks his head up, panting*
Vartang: Shakh, perhaps Ceolwulf should give you your medicine now
Frodo: ....There is a dungeon HERE?
Vartang: Aye, shakh, I thought you knew of it
Frodo: *shakes his head*
Vartang: Though there is only one guest there now. Feel free to cast any of your slaves who are disobedient in there
Frodo: *tears start to his eyes against his will* Let her out!
Frodo: Please let her out
Elffled and Rian: *hesitantly, elffled and rian approach frodo's room. noticing the door open, they bow and stand hesitantly in the entryway* lord frodo, may we come in?
Frodo: Of course, come in *he beckons to them*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring on Frodo's finger begins to pulse and only he can hear the words.... You wished to be Me. Now you have your own dungeon. The Ring seems to laugh at him*
Frodo's Ring: *Go ahead, it says, have the girl beaten. Chain her to the wall by her neck. Let her suffer the same torments you did*
Frodo: *Frodo covers his face with a hand and begins to tremble*
Frodo's Ring: *Then she can learn of your pain, of your suffering, what you have endured. Perhaps, she, too, would like to be a Ring lord. The Ring seems to laugh wildly*
Frodo: *His shoulders rise and fall slowly as he struggles to control the wild emotions the voice in his head arouses*
Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian hesitantly walk into frodos room and sit on the bench near frodo's bed*
Elffled: *elffled looks to vartang and asks* what... what will happen to my sister?
Frodo's Ring: *Ring Lord! Ring Lord! The voice says, and then in Frodo's mind bursts a searing red of a Great Eye. Then the voice dies away, and it is all gone*
Vartang: Your sister, maid? She will come back to you, if she learns her lesson. She will stay there until the light of dawn
Frodo: *The look in Frodo's eyes frightens Ceolwulf. Frodo slowly comes out of his stupor*
Vartang: It is the will of the Friend of Sauron, not mine. It is his dungeon, not mine
Frodo: What!
Elffled and Rian: *elffleds eyes narrow slightly at vartang* will any harm befall her?
Vartang: Shakh, I but carry out your orders
Frodo: *clenches his fists* Nonsense! *he bursts out in anger* I just begged you--BEGGED you to release her!
Vartang: *He moves to the wall and leans there, propping his foot against it. He says* Wine!
Frodo: Did I not place myself between you and her? Did you not have to order the orc to hold me back to stop me? How dare you say it was my orders!!!
Vartang: Begged? But Shakh, but before you ordered me to take her to the dungeon. I do not understand.
Frodo: I never told you to take her to the dungeon!
Elffled: *elffled quickly goes to a cabinet, gets out a bottle of wine and pours vartang a goblet. then she comes back to him and hands him the goblet* my sister, lord, will she be harmed?
Frodo: I said, "If you must confine her, confine her in her room!"
Vartang: My lads say you did, and what am I but your advisor? I have no power here
Frodo: Vartang, you spawn of orcs! You were there!!
Vartang: The Great Friend of Sauron holds power here, not me
Vartang: *His nose finally ceasing its bleeding, he throws the blood soaked cloth to the floor. Then he takes the goblet from Elffled's hands* A toast to the Friend of Sauron!
Vartang: *He drinks deeply and looks at Frodo*
Frodo: *shaking with rage, he clenches his fists and breathes hard, then begins to cough, hating the satisfaction this must give Vartang*
Elffled: *elffled bends down and picks up the bloodied rag... wishing vartang would tell her about her sister*
Vartang: Ah, shakh *he says in feigned resignation* No blood of orcs flows in my veins. My blood is of the purest, going back to the Great Kings of Old
Vartang: No harm will come to the maid who rests in your dungeon
Vartang: *Amused now, he drinks again*
Elffled: how long are you going to keep her there?
Frodo: *Ceolwulf hands him a handkerchief and he presses it to his mouth*
Vartang: Ceolwulf, his medicine! You have my permission to give it to him as needed
Vartang: Until the dawn, maid. Perhaps she will have cooled off by that time
Elffled: *elffled continues* and then what? will she be allowed to go free?
Vartang: Your sister must learn to keep both her dignity and her temper *he chuckles* Maid, you tax my patience. I have already said until the morrow. Keep your tongue, lest you wear it out with too much use
Elffled: *elffled falls silent and moves back to rian on the bench. she wrings her hands nervously*
Vartang: *Finishing his wine, he says* Now, shakh, I will take the liberty, since you are unwell, to write to the lord. You will accept his invitation and travel to him in two weeks, bringing such of your staff as you need
Frodo: *shakes his head, though he knows it will be useless*
Vartang: I have already given your housekeeper orders to have her seamstresses sew appropriate garments for the gentle maids. They must look their best
Vartang: Shakh, you will enjoy it. Traveling is good for you. The air will benefit your health. Bring your slave man too. It will be good for him. Perhaps take out some of his simpleton ways and show him a world unknown to him
Vartang: I will give your reply to the messenger to take to the lord. I must go now and see the physician Sador. My tunic is torn and bloodied, and I think the wench has broken my nose! I will return at the eve
Vartang: And shakh, my compliments to you. You keep both an exceptionally good wine cellar and a good dungeon
Vartang: *He bows to Frodo and turns on his heel, walks out the door, goes down the hall, followed by the orcs who are his bodyguard*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bows to Vartang before he leaves, then goes to the shelf and takes the brown bottle. He then walks to a cabinet, takes out a goblet and bottle, sets it on the table by Frodo's bed*
Ceolwulf: *Then he opens the bottle, pours out a drink for Frodo, puts in some of the medicine and hands the goblet to him*
Frodo: *Frodo drinks it as quickly as he can and hands the goblet back to Ceolwulf*
Elffled: *elffled turns to frodo and says nervously* i hope what vartang says is the truth, that my sister will not be harmed
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes the goblet and puts it back on the table by the bed and goes over and resumes his seat by Frodo's bed* This is a wretched place
Frodo: *to Elffled* I hope so too. But I think it is true. If it were not, he would want to taunt me with it
Frodo: So take heart, my child
Elffled: *elffled nods* i suppose. but i hope she doesn't get hurt!
Elffled: ....or provoke vartang enough to get a worse fate
Narrator: *Derufin has been out since early dawn, walking in the gardens. He looks at some roses and then his attention is caught by something in the West, over the mountains*
Frodo: *holds out a hand to Elffled* She will not be hurt, don't worry
Derufin: *he leaves the garden and follows it, his journey taking him farther west along the river*
Elffled: *elffled takes frodo's hand, and attempts to smile at him*
Derufin: *He thinks to himself... No man seeks to lay hands upon me. Perhaps if I keep on walking, I will travel across the mountains until Ithilien. He stops. Something calls him back, and he turns his head towards the way he came*
Frodo: *He covers her hand with both of his* It will be all right...she will come back unhurt. You will see her tomorrow. It will be all right
Elffled: *elffled looks up at the ceiling, trying to avoid crying*
Derufin: *He hesitates, then smiles. Back then it is. Back to Mordor*
Derufin: *He turns and walks back, casting glances at the river to his right He thinks... Ossë, even here? He smiles, and then laughs*
Frodo: Don't be ashamed, it is natural to be distressed for your sister.
Derufin: *he says to himself* So it is, it seems, Ossë
Elffled and Rian: *effled pulls her hand from frodo's hands, and takes both her hands and holds her face and begins to sob. rian looks at her with concern and sympathy and pats her shoulder gently*

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