November 6, 3019

On November 5, 3019, Ceolwulf of Rohan, son of Elfwine, was tried for the slaying of Orc Guard #5,622,001 on October 6, 3019, before King Varyon I, King of Forogondor, the Northern Province of West Mordor, and Lord High Governor of Minas Artano.

Maugoth Vartang, Steward of Forogondor, was the prosecutor. Found guilty by King Varyon, Ceolwulf had been sentenced to hard labor in Mordor for the rest of his life. At the end of the trial, the only question that had not been settled was to which part of Mordor Ceolwulf would be sent, whether to labor in Forogondor itself, or to be sent to Mordor to work in the mines.

Vardamir, another of Frodo's servants, slipped through a little used gate in the wall around Shakh Baggins' townhouse and made his way stealthily to a tavern in Newburg, the Blushing Maiden Inn, where he hoped to obtain information.

A Citadel guard, whose lips had been made talkative by too much ale, boasted in the tavern that soon Shakh Baggins was to be made an even bigger fool, and that Maugoth Vartang had decided the fate of Ceolwulf was to be sent to Mordor to end his existence working under the whips of the slave drivers in the mines.

On the morning of November 6, Vardamir told Frodo of what he had learned and told him that he had a plan to rescue Ceolwulf. Frodo was opposed, fearing that Vardamir would waste his life uselessly in a futile attempt to save Ceolwulf. Vardamir told Frodo that if he could obtain the help of Aldir, his comrade from the Gondorian army, that he was certain of success.

When Aldir arrived in Frodo's quarters to begin his duties as Frodo's personal slave and scribe, Vardamir tried to persuade him to join him in the rescue attempt.

Aldir reminded Vardamir that he was married and could not leave his wife, but Vardamir reminded him that he was a soldier and had taken an oath to serve his country and his country's allies. Although still hesitant, Aldir said he would talk to his wife about it that day.

Aldir: *Aldir excused himself from Frodo for the rest of the day and departed to the kitchen where he knew his wife would be working this time of day*
Lilandra: *she busied herself drying and stacking plates and replacing goblet back in the cabinets..she talked little to others and as always let her mind roll and awaited the time she was able to see Aldir again*
Aldir: *Coming into the kitchen, Aldir looks around for the sight of Lilandra among the workers busy at their tasks*
Aldir: *Seeing her, he walks up to her quickly. His thoughts are a jumbled mix of emotions, one thought conflicting with the other for dominance*
Lilandra: *she was just about to pick up a stack of plates when she felt someone behind her*
Aldir: Lilandra *he says quietly* I must talk with you
Lilandra: *her eyes were bright as was her smile at first sight of him but that light soon left her features at his expression and words*
Aldir: Can you leave now?
Lilandra: *she pauses and she feels ill all of a sudden* ..i..i suppose
Aldir: Surely Mistress Finduilas would excuse you for a few minutes
Aldir: *he says very quietly so that only she can hear* Tell her I am not feeling well and that I must lie down and rest
Lilandra: *she breathes deeply and rests her palm on the counter top a moment as she listens to him and nods..worried* all right
Lilandra: *she wipes her palms on her apron and moves over to where Finduilas is and tells her she must leave for a bit, that Aldir was not feeling well. She asks her if this was all right and assures her it will not be long that she is gone. Finduilas smiles to her and tells Lilandra that she is able to leave, that she has done a good amount of tasks already this morning and was able to take a rest for a while. She nods to Aldir as she walks back over to him* Aldir..we can leave
Aldir: Come then *he says as he takes her by the arm and begins leading her out of the kitchen and to the hallway that leads to their room*
Lilandra: *she has always liked her chances to go and rest with him in between work. But her stomach was knotted and felt so uneasy*
Aldir: *his face is grim and set as he walks beside her and says little, his mind still not certain of what he must do*
Lilandra: *after closing the door behind them she moves over to him and places her hand on his*
Aldir: Lilandra.... I know this was most unusual to for me to come to the kitchen this time of day
Aldir: But this is a matter that could not wait.... a matter which must be resolved now
Lilandra: *her eyes are locked on his..searching and nervous*
Lilandra: w..what is it love?
Aldir: *he hesitates a long time before he begins to speak* Lilandra, I scarcely know how to begin
Lilandra: oh...i can see in your eyes and deeper love..what is wrong?
Lilandra: *her hand squeezes his tighter*
Aldir: *he looks into her eyes, his gray eyes solemn and tinged with sadness* Perhaps I must leave you for a while
Lilandra: *her can see the color leave her face and her mouth part*
Lilandra: ......*her voice hollow and scared and small*.....leave?
Aldir: Vardamir has an idea, a mad idea, one filled with folly
Lilandra: idea? what idea?
Aldir: And he says if I will go with him to undertake this, that he is sure of success
Lilandra: success in doing what?
Aldir: *he turns his head away and looks at the floor* Rescuing Ceolwulf
Lilandra: Ceolwulf?
Lilandra: i..i don't understand!
Aldir: He will be marched to the Dark Lands tomorrow before dawn
Aldir: There, to spend the rest of his life under the cruel taskmasters in the mines
Lilandra: *her eyes widen and her heart seems to freeze mid beat*
Aldir: *he looks back at her* He wants me to go with him
Lilandra: *she grips her chest and her stomach..feeling nauseous*
Aldir: *he looks at her with concern* Lilandra? What is it!
Lilandra: *she falls to a sitting position on the bed*
Aldir: *His face filled with alarm, he walks over to her and sits down beside her. He puts his arm around her shoulders*
Lilandra: *her nose tingles and her eyes sting as tears well up*
Aldir: *He takes his other hand and puts hers in his* Lilandra, I will come back. I promise you I will come back!
Lilandra: *her mouth opens to speak and struggles to slide the words over the lump in her throat..a slab of sickness weighs heavy there and in her heart...*
Lilandra: .......you...you cannot promise me that
Aldir: *He knows her words are true and that he can promise her nothing for sure. Suddenly he feels as though he is losing something very priceless to him, more priceless than life itself*
Aldir: I can promise you that I will try!
Lilandra: *she looks over his face and her tears fill her eyes to the edges of her lids and spill out*
Lilandra: you ask me permission to let you die?
Aldir: *He takes one hand up to her face and brushes the tears with one finger*
Aldir: I ask for your leave, for you to grant me your "yea" to this quest
Aldir: I am a soldier, Lilandra, and I have been on far more dangerous errands than this in the past and then you always bid me good speed
Lilandra: *her voice is a whisper* it was....different..somehow
Lilandra: *she places her palms on her knees and closes her eyes*
Aldir: I have never been released from my vow of loyalty to the army, and though the army is far away, yet I am still a member of it
Lilandra: oh Aldir..*she looks back to him* i know you have so much honor
Aldir: *Giving up at quenching the flow of tears from her eyes, he moves his hand away from her face and rests it on her hand on her knee*
Lilandra: we are slaves now though
Aldir: All that is needed for this are three good horses, food and weapons.... we have that in abundance
Aldir: And courage and a stout heart
Lilandra: that you have....but they will flee?
Lilandra: and you ride back alone?
Aldir: Slaves, Lilandra? Though I sometimes feel that I am a slave, deep down in my heart, I will always be a free man
Aldir: Vardamir and Ceolwulf can never return perchance, for Vardamir must lead Ceolwulf to safety. After the trial, I am sure the beating was swift and merciless. He will be weak and sore from this even on the morrow
Lilandra: *she shudders thinking of this to be Aldir's fate..or worse*
Aldir: If the Valar grant us success, I should be back either late tomorrow night or early the next morn
Lilandra: *she reels and breathes heavily* if...and if not?
Lilandra: *she stands quickly*
Lilandra: *walks to the other side of the room and leans against the wall*
Lilandra: *she presses her hand to her lips*
Aldir: *He rises from the bed and goes over to her* Lilandra, I know this grieves you; it grieves me too
Lilandra: *she faces him*
Lilandra: Aldir how can i lose you again?
Lilandra: how can i lose you here?
Aldir: *He sighs and looks at her sadly* I know it is a risk but I must, Lilandra
Aldir: Rohan was always a loyal ally to Gondor, and Ceolwulf is of Rohan. Our country has a vow to Rohan, to support it and aid it against its enemies
Lilandra: *she presses the back of her head against the wall and shuts her eyes tightly*
Aldir: But *he says and he looks to the floor* If you bid me not go, I will stay
Lilandra: every hour without you is going to kill me slowly
Lilandra: my nerves will chew at my heart
Lilandra: my brain will run with thoughts most unpleasant
Lilandra: yes i have faced this pain before
Aldir: My darling *he takes her hand in his* If.... I should not return... It is my belief that the shakh will take care of you as well as he can
Lilandra: *she sobs at the very mention of his not returning*
Aldir: I think he means good to us, not ill
Lilandra: he has no power
Aldir: I know he does not. No one does, my love
Lilandra: some do love and it is those i fear
Aldir: Perhaps it will never be discovered that I was even away if upon success I can return
Aldir: But they will know ere too long that Vardamir has gone, never to return
Lilandra: *she presses her hands to her temples and shakes her head*
Lilandra: i cannot even believe this is happening
Lilandra: i cant believe i have to give you up again
Aldir: If the Shakh can vouch for me and say that I am sick and must stay in my room, no one will know that I am gone
Lilandra: darling..i only care if you do not return
Lilandra: that is my worry, to be without you
Lilandra: this does not feel the same as when you went to war
Aldir: *He looks into her eyes as he holds her hand and then brings it to his lips and kisses it lightly* Vardamir called me a coward
Lilandra: we know you are not that love
Aldir: No man has dared do that
Aldir: And my love, *he kisses her hand again* he was right
Lilandra: *she places her hand on his rough cheek*
Aldir: I am a coward and so I shall remain if I do not go and do this thing for it is right. Ceolwulf should not die, forgotten, a shell of a man deep in the pit of a dark mine
Lilandra: *her hand slips from his face and falls to her side*
Lilandra: i cannot deny you a feeling that is strong within your heart
Lilandra: *she pulls her hand gently out of his grasp and turns her back to him so he does not see her cry*
Lilandra: *her mind screams to her to grab him by his shoulders and cry and beg him not to go*
Aldir: *he slides his hands around her waist and rests his chin upon her shoulder* My love, do not cry. You are trembling
Lilandra: *her inhales are deep* this time is harder than ever to let you go
Aldir: If I remain, I will remain a coward and in time you would grow to hate me for it, for I would not be the same man that you married
Lilandra: *his words were biting..she could never hate him no matter what...but it is the feeling that he would hate himself and ever regret it...how could she remain strong here? how? but she must..for she loved him far too much to have him feel any kind of hurt*
Lilandra: *let her lash be deep and cutting if questions be asked of her where he was...but it would not hurt as much as the pain of knowing he was gone forever*
Aldir: *he leans his head against the back of hers* Remember once long ago on our farm there was a horse that everyone said could not be broken to the saddle?
Lilandra: *she closes her eyes tightly and sighs at the remembrance of home* ..yes
Aldir: He almost killed one of the grooms and severely injured another. All were afraid of him, and I told you that night that I would have him trained and docile in a week and you said, "No, you will be killed!"?
Aldir: How you pled with me that night not to undertake this?
Lilandra: *barely audible at thinking of the past*...yes
Aldir: And I told you that I would do it or die in the attempt and you pled all the more? But by the end of the week, I had mastered the brute
Aldir: And he bore my weight and answered my commands. I chided you afterwards for having needless fear
Lilandra: *she turns and looks to him*
Lilandra: i always had faith in you but my fear of losing you is always so great for my love is so deep
Aldir: Chances must be taken, Lilandra, or nothing can be accomplished
Lilandra: *she falls into the wall of his chest*.....i know
Lilandra: *"i need you....don't leave me"*
Aldir: *His arms go about her and he holds her and feels how she trembles in his grasp*
Lilandra: i will not deny you what drives you in your heart
Lilandra: *" i cant breathe without you"*
Aldir: I cannot live bearing the title of "coward"
Lilandra: i know that my love...and i have always known you to be so far from that title
Aldir: I must ask you for more than your leave to go.... I must ask for your help
Lilandra: what must i do
Aldir: When they ask tomorrow where I am, you must tell them that I am ill and do not wish to be disturbed. I will help you roll a blanket to place in the bed to deceive any who come in the room
Aldir: And we need food from the kitchen, flour, dried meat and fruit, flasks of wine. Take them from the kitchen as you can unseen
Lilandra: *she can not even fathom this plan..that it was to happen...and the idea that the blanket might never be replaced with his warm body*
Lilandra: *she nods*
Aldir: There is plenty of food there. Go to the storerooms. You will find an abundance of these foods
Lilandra: yes Aldir
Aldir: And a few rags, old sheets, anything. Put those in the sack with the food
Lilandra: it will be done then
Aldir: Then all will be in readiness when the hour comes that I must..... leave
Lilandra: *at the word "leave" she sickens again*
Aldir: *He sees her face blanch* My love, I will be back. Do not fear
Aldir: *He looks over to the opposite wall and sees the sword he was presented in Mordor* I will need that too
Aldir: *His gaze is steady upon the sword* I have not even put the sheath upon my belt... thinking the sword was cursed, as would be the wielder
Lilandra: *she looks to it then she stares up into his face the suddenly pushes him out of the way and rushes over to a basin with water that rests on her table still from her wash and bends and vomits into it*
Aldir: Lilandra! *he shouts, his voice filled with concern* You are ill! *he rushes over to her*
Lilandra: *she steadies herself on her arms...her palms flat on the table*
Aldir: My love, I know that you are saddened but never would I see this drive you to illness!
Lilandra: *the stress seeming to take its toll*
Aldir: You must lie down. You must lie down now!
Lilandra: it's all right love...*she straightens and reaches for a cloth and dabs her mouth*
Aldir: *He looks at her back and feels helpless to help her*
Aldir: Shall I get the physician? He will be able to get you something for your stomach
Lilandra: i do not think anything would quell that now love for i doubt i will be relieved until you return
Aldir: Love, pray that you will not continue to let yourself become so alarmed that it makes you ill, and now, please lie down, unless you feel that your stomach will betray you again
Aldir: *He puts his hand on her forehead* You are very warm, my love
Lilandra: *she shakes her head and tries to force that familiar feeling of stone form over her insides as they always did before he was to leave her in missions and war*
Aldir: Lilandra, please, lie down whilst I go fetch the physician
Lilandra: but i told Finduilas i would return
Aldir: You cannot return, not now
Aldir: I will go and tell her that you are unable to go back, that you are ill. But first I will go get the physician, Sador
Lilandra: you were supposed to be the one ill
Aldir: Ah, my love, you have found a breach in our plans. It would look strange indeed if both of us were to fall prone to some malady
Aldir: But how can I ask you to go back when you are so obviously ill?
Lilandra: darling it was my nerves that caused me to get sick
Aldir: And I do not doubt that they would cause you to become ill again
Lilandra: i cannot say what at all will happen
Lilandra: only that i will not be right until you are in my arms for good
Aldir: Shakh Baggins, I believe, will tell any who should ask that I am unwell, for I believe that he favors this attempt to rescue Ceolwulf
Lilandra: *she sighs* i am sure he does
Aldir: Perhaps my love, I will be back tomorrow night, late, and if not then at the latest, the next day
Aldir: Try, love, if you can, to be brave and not to worry
Lilandra: *she can feel the coming again of sadness at thinking of him away from her..of sleeping next to rolled up material*
Aldir: I cannot take you with me and would not if I could
Lilandra: i know that
Lilandra: *she would be happy to die in his arms with him*
Aldir: My Lilandra, they will not always win. They cannot. Even they make mistakes
Aldir: Vardamir tells me that the Enemy grows overconfident and abandons caution to the wind, believing that there is no enemy for hundreds of miles to threaten their security
Lilandra: *nods...she wanted to fold herself into his arms but she might go into a fit of sobs and soon she must return to work*
Aldir: Perhaps they will not be so vigilant as they guard the prisoner and perhaps they will make mistakes, which we shall see and act upon
Aldir: I will return to you soon and take you in my arms once again. Do not fret for me whilst I am gone
Lilandra: *she felt she would break down at even touching him..and she had a duty to help him*
Aldir: After you go back to the kitchen, I will go and seek out Vardamir and tell him what I have decided. Then I will come back here, feigning illness and staying in the room until night
Lilandra: perhaps i should be going back to the kitchen now love...busy myself...and then return later with the provisions
Lilandra: *her jaw clenches so she will not cry again*
Aldir: We will have time then love, time to be together before I go
Lilandra: *she reels again and nods*...yes...before then
Lilandra: *she moves over to the door and hesitates there a moment*
Aldir: Tarry yet a while. I have not kissed you
Lilandra: *she grips the knob and squeezes it till her knuckles whiten*
Aldir: *He walks over to her, looks into her eyes, slides his arms around her, pulls her up to him* Lilandra, I love you
Aldir: Sick or well, happy or sad, angry or joyous, it matters not
Lilandra: *her teeth press so tightly together that they pain her gums and her temples...the pressure behind her eyes is great as tears fight to come loose*
Aldir: In wealth or poverty, even in slavery, I will love you, Lilandra, my beloved
Lilandra: *she trembles as her body tries so hard to stand tall...her mind screams to stay strong while her heart begs to bleed*
Aldir: *he bends his head and presses his lips against hers, kissing her tenderly*
Lilandra: *she becomes limp in his arms as every vein feels as it swells and will burst*
Lilandra: *her lips quiver*
Aldir: *his lips leave hers and he looks into her eyes* I will return
Aldir: *Then holding her more tightly, he rushes his lips against hers in a desperate kiss*
Lilandra: *her mind demands her..walk out!! her heart shouts to beg him "DON'T LEAVE ME!!*
Lilandra: *she wraps her arms around him and kisses back and all of her weight falls into his arms*
Aldir: *The kiss lingers as he thinks, will I ever see her again?*
Lilandra: *the tension and pain in her is enough to where she can rake her skin with her own nails*
Aldir: *he holds her body, now limp, tightly against him, steadying her. His lips leave hers and he says in a whisper* I will be back
Aldir: Now you must go, Lilandra, back to the kitchen, for there are yet many things that need to be done
Lilandra: *she lets her weight fall back on her own two feet*
Lilandra: *nods* yes
Lilandra: i...i *"LOVE YOU!"...but the words would make her wail* ...will be back later
Aldir: *he releases her slowly, his arms yearning to hold her, his lips wanting to kiss her again and again and drive away all of her fears*
Lilandra: *she spins around and opens the door quickly and steps out*
Aldir: *He watches her as she leaves, his heart aching for her, wishing that he could give her the peace and security that he once did, but he knows that it is far beyond his grasp now*
Aldir: *He goes out the door and closes it behind him, and as he walks through the corridors of the hall, he thinks to himself... what kind of fool am I to leave this woman whom I love beyond death and who loves me to go on a quest of a fool's folly?*
Aldir: *He makes his way across the courtyard to the stables where he must talk to Vardamir and make sure that all plans are firmly laid ere the night comes. He thinks... what will come with the night? Death and destruction.... or success... but if it is death, at least it will not be the death of a coward.*
Lilandra: *Lilandra walks through the halls but she doesn't feel as though she is.she feels detached from her body...this is because what makes up half of her is about to leave...and her mind prepares for this by letting that half go already..and it is proof as she walks down the corridor to the kitchen that she is nothing but the shell to house the tissues and blood and organs within her..but he is what makes them function...so she walks like a corpse to where the others bustle*
Lilandra: *Finduilas sees her and tilts her head and asks if she is all right..as best as Lilandra can she nods and smiles even and asks what she is to help with.. Finduilas gives her a list of duties and somehow she manages to get through the hours without falling to her knees in anguished cries of despair and worry of possible life without him and physical hell that might befall her in his absence.*
Lilandra: *When the night winds down, she keeps her mind on the task that needs to be done and she is alone in the kitchen and seizes the opportunity.... She grabs a large folded table cloth and starts filling it with fruit and bread..indeed there was plenty enough that what she took was hardly noticeable. She took napkin and folded them around pieces of dried meat. All inside the center of the table cloth...she filled flasks with wine and placed them inside as well. Then she folded the table cloth around the objects and carried it in her arms.
Lilandra: *Earlier in the day when she was fetching fresh laundry she had taken up fresh linens and went back to her room and put them under the bed. She heard silence in the halls and made her way back to the bedroom with the bundle of provisions quickly...her back aching. She could not open the door but she knew he was already in there and tapped lightly on the door with her foot*

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