Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Sirana portrayed by FreeFall
Elfhild, Elffled, Rian, Arnasa, Frodo's Servants and Lord Lorthang portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator, Vartang and Ceolwulf portrayed by Wraith

For days, Shakh Baggins' household staff has been in preparation for the arrival of Lord Lorthang and his retinue of Shakh Lorthang and his entourage. It has been 23 days since Frodo left Lorthang's Hall in disgrace.

Lord Lorthang's letter had said:

Shakh Baggins, Great Lord and Friend of Sauron, in an effort to propitiate felicitous relations between the two provinces, West and South, I, Lord Lorthang, Lord of the Southern Province, will arrive at Baggins' Hall the afternoon of September 10. Accompanying me will be my daughter, the Lady Sirana; her two handmaidens; my personal bodyguard of of ten men; a company of 100 men-at-arms; 50 servants and 250 horses.
Signed, Lorthang, Lord of the Southern Province

Vartang had responded to his letter thus:

Shakh Lorthang, Shakh Baggins will be honored greatly to herald the arrival of you, your daughter and your accompanying troops, servants and beasts. Shakh Baggins extends you his warmest regards, and looks forward eagerly to your arrival.
I can personally assure you that the food and drink in Baggins Hall will be of the highest quality in keeping with the traditions of this fine hall. All will be in readiness.
Signed, Vartang, Adivsor of Shakh Baggins of the Western province

Narrator: *Finduilas, the housekeeper, was concerned that Baggins' Hall could neither feed nor hold 161 people, but her fears were greatly relieved when Vartang told her that the company of soldiers and their mounts would set up pavilions in a pasture near Baggins' Hall.
Still, Finduilas had to plan great meals for two nights that the guests would be there.*
Narrator: *The day of September 10 comes, the day of Shakh Lorthang's arrival. Frodo and Ceolwulf have just had breakfast and now sit at a table on the walkway overlooking Frodo's garden.*
Narrator: *Finduilas is still busy in the kitchen with last minute preparations. Elfhild enters the walkway with a tray of after breakfast tea and cakes.*
Narrator: *Arnasa, whom none of the household except Finduilas has seen since she was rejected as a sacrifice, is with Elfhild. The effects of self-starvation are evident upon Arnasa's thin body and her face is clouded with sadness.*
Arnasa and Elfhild: *elfhild enters the walkway, carrying a tray of cakes and tea for frodo and ceolwulf. arnasa follows behind, her head bent earthward in total despair.*
Arnasa and Elfhild: *elfhild puts the tray upon the table, handing a cup of tea to frodo and ceolwulf, as well as cakes upon saucers. she smiles* good morning, lord frodo and ceolwulf *arnasa bows and mumbles something*
Frodo: Good morning, Elfhild and Arnasa, thank you
Ceolwulf: Good morning, Elfhild and Arnasa *he takes his cup of tea*
Ceolwulf: Arnasa, have you been unwell? We have not seen you for a while
Frodo: *gently* You do not look well at all, Arnasa.
Frodo: Is there anything I can do for you?
Arnasa: *arnasa looks up at ceolwulf and she fights tears that swell up in her dark eyes. her bottom lip trembles and she looks more despairing than usual. a plain headrail is upon her shaved head*
Ceolwulf: Yes, Arnasa, can we help you in some way? You look very unwell
Frodo: *frowns, feeling a twinge of alarm*
Arnasa: *she wears a dress of dun colors, very plain and unadorned, not her usual embelished garments, showing that she is in mourning* nay. there is nothing anyone can do for me, for i am a failure.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf stops in the midst of drinking his tea, pauses, looks at her. He takes another drink, puts the cup back on the table and looks at Frodo*
Elfhild: *elfhild looks to ceolwulf drinking his tea and wonders if perhaps he needs stronger drink to stomach this*
Ceolwulf: *Gets up from the table, goes to the bannister, leans over it, placing his elbows on it and looks out at the garden. He says* I never really liked tea
Frodo: You are not a failure, Arnasa! Is this because I did not want you to be sacrificed? I did not want you to be sacrificed because I consider you...of very high value! *tries to put it in terms she would understand*
Frodo: I was only trying to save your life. I did not even mean what I said. It was only to preserve your health
Frodo: *drums his fingers nervously, watching Ceolwulf and Arnasa during the awkward silence*
Arnasa: *she looks down at the ground, trying to keep from sobbing violently again. in a shaky voice* all i ever wanted was to be sacrificed to the Dark One *she bows reverently* it would be the best thing that could happen to me in my useless life.
Arnasa: but alas! i was unworthy. all arnasa will ever be is someone's servant.
Ceolwulf: *Leans over the bannister, shakes his head and turns around* Arnasa, I do not understand you at all!
Frodo: *For a second Frodo wishes he could send Arnasa to Lugburz in his place, but it is a fleeting thought born of frustration and he pushes it aside. He wonders how to convince Arnasa that she has worth*
Ceolwulf: Why do you want to die?
Arnasa: tis a great honor for a maiden to join the Dark One in the eternal darkness beyond, to be united in eternal peace.
Ceolwulf: *shakes his head again* What good do you think that would do? For there is only death in the darkness!
Frodo: *grits his teeth, wanting to blurt out protests but knowing it would do no good to convince her*
Frodo: *has an idea* Arnasa, I have seen the Dark Lord myself. He is not benevolent. He does not give you peace!
Frodo: He gave me only torment. You are much better off alive!
Frodo: That is why I wanted to save you
Arnasa: *the strawhead's words confuse her, he must talk to elfwitches. she looks at him bewildered experession on her face, then looks at frodo with shock*
Ceolwulf: *He has an idea* Then, Arnasa, why don't you save all the effort and kill yourself?
Frodo: *jaw drops* Ceolwulf!
Frodo: *whispers angrily* She might do it! What are you thinking?
Arnasa: there is no reason, but i would do that willingly should i be commaded
Ceolwulf: *Deciding that his attempts at shocking her into sense have failed, he turns and goes back to looking at the garden*
Ceolwulf: Arnasa, no one here is going to command you to do anything so foolish!
Arnasa: *arnasa sighs heavily* you are men of the west, and do not understand the ways of the men of darkness.
Frodo: *He in turn has an idea* It appears that you are starving yourself, Arnasa, and that is killing you. If you do consider me your master, then I...*uncomfortable doing this* command you...
Frodo: ...to take better care of yourself and eat. *holds out a cake to her*
Frodo: Would you not rather live in light and happiness than in such darkness?
Arnasa: *she looks at frodo* master, arnasa does as she is commanded, so i shall eat as you request *she takes the cake from frodo and gives it a small bite*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf stares at the fountain far down the hill below the hall. He considered the day has gotten off to a foul start and will only get worse*
Frodo: *Do you really expect to undo what she has believed her whole life? Frodo asks himself. He sighs and takes a sip of tea*
Arnasa and Elfhild: *arnasa takes a few small bites of the cake and swallows them.... wallowing in self pity. no one understands her. elfhild has taken a seat at the table near frodo*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's reverie is halted by the sound of blaring trumpets. He starts at the noise, turns around. He says* Master Frodo, I think they are here
Frodo: *his eyes widen and he groans*
Frodo: I cannot believe we have to do this again!
Ceolwulf: I know when the day begins...... well, we will just have to wait and see
Narrator: *Down the hall, they can hear the familiar footsteps that they have learned to recognize so well*
Vartang: *Vartang saunters into the walkway, his two orc bodyguards following him. Perched upon his left arm on a protective shield is a falcon*
Arnasa and Elfhild: *elfhild hears the sound of vartangs boots upon the marble floor and a shock of terror goes through her. she quickly stands up and bows to him. arnasa bows to vartang as well*
Vartang: *He scarcely notices them, gives them a cursory nod* Hail Shakh!
Frodo: *Frodo's glance toward Vartang contains its usual hatred, but it is now mixed with great fear that he tries to conceal*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bows to Vartang, a scowl on his face*
Frodo: *quietly, restrained* Hail, Vartang.
Vartang: The trumphets proclaim the arrival of your guests, shakh. How excited you must be! *His lips curl up into a sarcastic smile* I shall greet them in your name
Frodo: *avoids his eyes* Go then
Vartang: The guards know your guests are coming so the gates have been opened for them
Frodo: *nods*
Vartang: Shakh! How can you tear yourself from my presence so easily? But I shall go, welcome them and tell them how eager you are to see them
Frodo: *Frodo turns an equally sarcastic, mocking glare on Vartang*
Vartang: *The falcon on his shoulder squawks. Vartang goes to the main entry hall, where Lord Lorthang and his daughter have just been ushered in by guards*
Vartang: *He walks up to Lorthang and shakes his hand. He smiles at Lorthang's daughter* Welcome, Shakh and Lady Sirana
Sirana: *Sirana's handmaidens hold the back of her long black velvet dress, trimmed with gold...her head raised and she seems not as timid and vulnerable as she was in the past meeting. her dark wide eyes shimmer a bit*
Sirana: Captain Vartang. Good to see you again
Lord Lorthang: *sees the falcon on vartangs arm. a great sense of pain and loss hits him but he forces himself to smile warmly at vartang. he shakes his hand vigorously* Hail Shakh vartang!
Vartang: *He turns to Sirana* My lady, may I kiss your hand in greeting?
Sirana: *tilts her head to the side as her lips curl into a smile and extends her hand*
Lord Lorthang: where is shakh baggins? i would like to see my dwarf friend once again!
Vartang: *He takes her hand, his lips brushing lightly over the top of her hand, then he slowly releases it*
Sirana: *looks to her father* yes...where is Shakh Baggins
Vartang: Lord Lorthang, the shakh is resting on his walkway, as is his custom, but first, perhaps you would enjoy a draught of wine to refresh yourself after the journey?
Sirana: That sounds wonderful. Thank you
Lord Lorthang: *he slaps vartang on the back almost dislodging the falcon* of course my boy! *he laughs heartily* my throat is quite parched after such a long travel.
Vartang: *He watches as the falcon frantically grasps its claws into the leather shield and then rights itself* Lord Lorthang, if you will follow me into the great hall, you will find an abundance of drink for both you and your bodyguard. Your men-at-arms will be shown to their place of quarters by my..... I mean the Shakh's men
Vartang: Welcome to Baggins' Hall. I trust your stay will be a good and profitable one
Sirana: *her handmaidens whisper lightly to themselves behind her and she looks over her shoulder and they quiet and smooth out her dress..Sirana orders them to keep some distance for now till needed*
Lord Lorthang: thank you my boy! now we shall all go in and quench our mighty thirsts! *he chuckles again, takes his daughter's arm and almost drags her into the hall... his bodyguard follow*
Sirana: *her steps are quickened by her father's pull and she shoots her gaze to him*
Lord Lorthang: *perhaps a heavy draught of wine would make the sorrow of seeing his prince (female falcon) in vartangs hands diminish for the time...*
Vartang: *Vartang has a look of great disappointment on his face as he leads them into the hall*
Narrator: *Vartang takes them inside the hall, servants wait at the sides in attendance to serve them. Lorthang is given a place of honor at one end of the large table, and Vartang takes the other. Sirana sits by her father*
Sirana: *she squeezes her father's arms and runs her hand over his..signaling he can let her go now*
Lord Lorthang: *he lets her arm go and smiles at her. then he goes to the end of the large table and takes a seat, wondering where the dwarf is... for he had made a point of reading some old scrolls of dwarflore... sure to impress the dwarf after the previous...unpleasantness*
Lord Lorthang: *the bodyguards take seats near lorthang*
Sirana: *she knows this will be another almost embarassing drunken display of her father's and she smiles to him almost with sadness then quickly lifts her chin*
Vartang: *Vartang says to Lorthang* My lord, what will you have to drink? And you my lady? What would you like? *In all this, no one seems to know or care where Frodo is*
Sirana: a nice full goblet of rich wine
Lord Lorthang: *he looks to sirana and nods in agreement* aye, wine for me too. the best of the house!
Frodo: *Frodo stays on the walkway with Ceolwulf, Elfhild and Arnasa, glad not to have to deal with the guests yet*
Sirana: *this visit is a much more relaxed meeting and she can carry out the day with ease*
Vartang: Vartang raises his hand, signaling for the servants to bring the guests their preferences. He says* A goblet of wine for me too
Sirana: *she looks around and smiles with satisfaction at the display of scurrying servants*
Frodo's Servants: *at the signal from vartang, frodos servants begin to bring the guests their wine. rian holds a tray of wine goblets and serves lorthang, sirana and vartang*
Frodo's Servants: *the bodyguards at the table are also served as well by rian and frodos other many servants*
Sirana: *nods the woman and looks her over a bit and smiles*
Vartang: Maids, keep their goblets filled at all times! Show the hospitality of Baggins' Hall!
Frodo's Servants: *rian nods to vartang and goes to serve the next group of people*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang takes a sip of his goblet of wine, his eyes following rian's graceful features as she goes to the next person*
Sirana: *brings the goblet up to her nose and inhales deeply then takes a sip and smiles* very good
Narrator: *Frodo and Ceolwulf sit on the walkway, wondering if they are to be summoned*
Frodo: *listens to the bustle inside the house and enjoys the comparative quiet of the garden*
Sirana: Father, is not the wine delicious?
Vartang: Lord Lorthang, truly it is an honor to have you and your daughter here *he takes a drink of wine and smiles at both the lord and his daughter*
Sirana: *looks to Vartang over the rim of her goblet*
Lord Lorthang: *he takes another sip of wine, and turns back to his daughter, momentarily distracted* aye, the wine is quite good *he thinks... but it could be better. feels slight resentment*
Vartang: *Putting his goblet down, he reaches into his tunic and pulls out a piece of dried meat and feeds the falcon* My princlet must not go unattended
Sirana: *she looks to her father knowing the sting he wil feel at the sight*
Lord Lorthang: *sees vartang making over his bird.... HIS bird. he turns his head from vartang and takes a heavy drink from his goblet*
Vartang: *He takes the bird's hood off and puts the hood on the table. Then he tears off a piece of the meat, puts it in his lips and leans towards the bird. The bird eagerly snatches the meat from his mouth*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang had momentarily turned his head back towards vartang and saw this extravagant display of affection to the bird. disgusting! he thinks, turning his head away again, smiling broadly at rian as she goes by*
Vartang: A fine falcon, she is, my lord!
Sirana: *she watches Vartang's actions and takes a long sip of her wine and clears her throat...wiping her mouth of almost spilt wine*
Vartang: I must condition her to being amongst the people here. You understand that, being a fancier of falconing yourself.... *An arrogant look is upon Vartang's face*
Sirana: *she can feel the air heavy with tension and it is pleasing to her in a twisted manner*
Lord Lorthang: *looks into his goblet of wine and then takes another drink* yes, yes, i know you must weather her to the folk at baggins' hall.
Vartang: *Vartang smiles smugly then puts the hood back over the falcon's head*
Sirana: *Sirana looks to her father whose cheeks are a bit reddened*
Vartang: Perhaps we will have the opportunity to go hunting while you are here
Lord Lorthang: i have business with you... or shakh baggins, but perhaps we can hunt some other day. first, i have a present for the shakh
Sirana: Is not Shakh Baggins going to join us?
Lord Lorthang: yes, where is the dwarf?
Vartang: My lady, it grieves me to tell you that Shakh Baggins is indisposed today and cannot come and join us. He was feeling quite ill last I saw him
Sirana: *feeling comfortable now with the halfling's presense now that the matter of marriage is over* oh...that is unfortunate
Vartang: A gift you say? Is that what I saw in the wain?
Lord Lorthang: aye! a mighty gift it is. shakh baggins will love it *he chuckles heartily*
Vartang: I will accept it in his name
Lord Lorthang: ah, good, good. my men will begin unpacking it so that you can see it
Vartang: *A smile is in Vartang's eyes as he takes another sip*ay
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang tells one of his own servants to alert the men to unload the gift from the wains*
Vartang: What is the nature of this gift, shakh?
Sirana: *she had worried at the time that the refusal of Shakh Baggins..Friend of Sauron would disgrace her in her place for long to come. But after it was he who was the subject of snickers and disbelief all was quiet and things were just as normal for her*
Lord Lorthang: a mighty statue, my boy. ten feet tall, and made of the best marble. my stonemasons worked long in its carving
Vartang: *A mock look of concern comes on his face* Tis a great pity that he is too ill to see it
Lord Lorthang: ah, perhaps the sight of it shall cheer his spirits!
Vartang: Ah, shakh *the false concern still on his face* he is very feeble you know. But if you insist.... I will have him summoned *calls to a nearby servant* See if your Master feels like coming and joining us
Elffled: *elffled nods to vartang and quickly leaves the great hall. she finds frodo, ceolwulf, elfhild and arnasa upon the walkway. she bows to frodo*
Frodo: *smiles as Elffled approaches*
Elffled: my lord, your presence is requested in the great hall.
Sirana: *she dabs her napkin on her lips and looks over to Vartang with darkened eyes and a smile* Captain Vartang...how have you been?
Vartang: My lady, I have been most grieved of late.... I have missed your fair presence since last I saw you
Frodo: *The smile vanishes, then is replaced with a polite mask* Very well then *gets up and follows Elffled*
Sirana: *chuckled lightly* grieved i think not...but flattered i am nonetheless
Frodo: *Well, he thinks, Lord Lorthang is the least of my worries now. Perhaps the wine will help me forget about my impending trip*
Vartang: Yes, my lady, most grieved. I enjoyed our visit at your father's hall greatly
Elffled: *elffled takes frodo to the great hall. elfhild and arnasa follow, but go to the kitchen instead of the hall to report for duty*
Vartang: My lady, I had hoped to visit your father and you soon but my responsibilities here have prevented it. That is why I am so pleased to see you
Frodo: *Frodo enters the great hall. The long table and all the seated guests and servants tower over him. He bows* Lord Lorthang and Lady Sirana *a slight flush rises in his pale face*
Sirana: *takes another deep sip of wine, emptying goblet and looks over to him and raises her eyebrow* I know you are very busy Captain Vartang
Frodo: Please forgive my tardiness
Lord Lorthang: *sees frodo coming. he rises to his feet and bows clumsily* hail shakh baggins, my good friend!
Sirana: *sees Frodo enter* ahh! Shakh Baggins
Frodo: *suprised at their comfortable reception of him*
Vartang: *Looks to Frodo* if you felt too ill, you should have stayed in your room. *His eyes narrow*
Lord Lorthang: *he settles his heavy girth back on the seat. one of frodos servants come by and refill his goblet. other servants refill the goblets of those on the table*
Frodo: *under his breath to Vartang* If I was requested here, I did not have much choice in the matter, now did I?
Sirana: *She notices a look of declining health on him*
Vartang: It was your prerogative, Shakh, to stay or to come here
Frodo: *walks past Vartang, looking for a seat since they all seem to be taken...*
Vartang: *he had finished his first goblet of wine, and now he begins to drink the second*
Frodo: *feels Sirana's eyes on him and gives her a little smile*
Vartang: Shakh, have a seat *he says nonchalantly, waving his hand*
Lord Lorthang: aye, master dwarf, sit down and rest your weary legs! *takes a drink from his newly filled goblet of wine*
Sirana: *smiles back* Thank you for having us Shakh. How are you feeling?
Sirana: *remembers well him passing out at the slave fight*
Lord Lorthang: *one of lorthangs bodyguards gets up and offers frodo that seat*
Frodo: Oh, I am fine, my lady
Lord Lorthang: aye, thank you for paying us such a great courtesy, master dwarf!
Frodo: *longs to correct Lorthang that he is a halfling, not a dwarf, but refrains*
Vartang: Shakh, it is good to see that you are feeling well enough to join us *he says sarcastically*
Frodo: *thanks the bodyguard and struggles into the high seat, pushing himself up with his right arm*
Sirana: *she smiles to herself of all the falseness going around*
Vartang: Shakh Baggins, Lord Lorthang has a great gift for you *takes another gulp of wine*
Sirana: *the lies and deception were deep here....circulating*
Frodo: *draws in a sharp breath as he is forced to use his left arm to push himself up too*
Lord Lorthang: *he nods vigorously* aye, my men are unloading it fromt he wain as we speak now.
Vartang: *looks to Frodo and smiles as he sees him struggling to get on his chair*
Frodo: Oh? *his heart speeds up* Why...thank you, Lord Lorthang.
Sirana: *she looks to Vartang who seems to enjoy just that*
Frodo: *How uncomfortable that will be! Another gift from Mordor for his failure!*
Lord Lorthang: *the guard who had offfered frodo his chair was sitting on lorthang's left, sirana on his right.* you'll love it, my boy! *he laughs loudly and slaps frodo on the back*
Frodo: *Frodo narrowly escapes falling off the chair. He smiles and thanks Lorthang again*
Rian: *rian, who was passing at that time with an empty tray, stops and rights frodo in his chair and departs once again on another frantic trip to the kitchen*
Frodo: *cannot help a chuckle at the absurdity of this scene*
Narrator: *By this time some of the nobles have consumed enough quanities of wine to make them feel good, but yet they quickly empty their goblets and take more when offered*
Lord Lorthang: *one of lorthangs own servants comes by and informs him that the present to frodo has been unloaded. lorthang looks to frodo, his expression one of great glee* master dwarf, the present has just been unloaded. would you like to see it now?
Vartang: *Vartang finishes his goblet of wine, a smile on his face*
Sirana: *she looks to her father and shakes her head lightly as she calls him a dwarf but think sit is useless to inform him that he is a halfling..he was never much for details*
Lord Lorthang: *he slaps frodo on the back again* and after we see it my boy, i would like to talk a bit about dwarflore. i have been studying some old scrolls and would like to discuss history with you
Sirana: *looks over to Frodo who was as usual his silent self*
Frodo: *Frodo sways when he is slapped again, then tries valiantly to smile* Very well, Lord Lorthang, let us see it
Vartang: *He drinks from his goblet, a smug smile on his face*
Frodo: *tries to remember the dwarvish history Bilbo taught him, but it is all forgotten*
Lord Lorthang: my boy, i understand now why you do not have a beard. but that shall wait! first, we must see your gift. *one of lorthangs servants pulls his chair back at an unspoken signal, and Lorthang gets to his feet*
Frodo: *wonders what in the name of Elbereth Lorthang means*
Lord Lorthang: come, master dwarf, and sirana my dear! shakh vartang, come along too and see if the gift meets your expectations
Frodo: *Dwarves have beards! It is halflings who do not have beards! Frodo wonders too how young Lorthang thinks he is*
Sirana: *she places her goblet on the table and looks up to her father who asks her to come but does not extend his arm for her*
Vartang: *He rises from his chair and looks to Sirana* My lady, my I have the honor of escorting you to see this great gift of which your father speaks?
Sirana: *she smiles to Vartang and raises her head with wide grin* My pleasure Captain Vartang
Frodo: *slides out of his chair and follows Lorthang*
Lord Lorthang: *lord lorthang and his personal bodyguard are already on their way out of the hall and to frodos front courtyard*
Vartang: *He takes her left arm with his right arm, the bird squawking at being disturbed from its sleep*
Lord Lorthang: *soon lord lorthang waits impatiently upon frodos lawn, wondering where in the name of melkor is the dwarf*
Sirana: *places her right hand on his arm and walks with him*
Frodo: *Frodo walks as quickly as he can behind them, but it is not very quick. He finally arrives, breathing heavily*
Vartang: *Vartang escorts the lady to the front courtyard and looks to the gift, which is has a large canvas over it, tied with ropes*
Frodo: *nods and smiles to Lorthang and Sirana, then looks to the large thing covered with canvas*
Sirana: *smiles back to Frodo with raised head*
Lord Lorthang: *in frodos front courtyard stands a pillar, ten feet tall in height, still wrapped with canvas coverings. lorthang looks at it with pride* ah my boy! here it is!
Lord Lorthang: Men! cut the ropes and tear away the canvas!
Frodo: *wonders if it is a new fountain or column for the garden*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthangs men cut the ropes that bind the canvas to the statue and tear away the wrappings. it is a statue, carven from pure marble, glistening in the sunlight*
Lord Lorthang: *the statue is of frodo baggins, a perfect likeness of him. the statue's left hand is thrust deeply into its waistcoat, while the right arm of the statue is lifted high in the air, the index finger, adorned with a carving of the ring upon it, pointing skyward. the feet of the statue are slightly apart, and its chest is thrust out in a proud bearing. a look of determination is on its face*
Lord Lorthang: *upon the statue's base is written in Black Speech "Shakh Frodo Baggins Narish Sauron Ob" and in common "Lord Fordo Baggins Friend of Sauron"*
Sirana: *she squeezes Vartang's arm*
Frodo: *Frodo's jaw drops. He turns bright crimson*
Sirana: *just her eyes look down to Frodo and her smile widens*
Vartang: *He feels her arm on his and looks over at her and smiles, his white teeth gleaming*
Frodo: *his face remains frozen in its shocked expression as burning fury courses through him, along with great embarassment*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang exclaims* how do you like it my boy? *he slaps fordoo on the back*
Frodo: *is knocked to his knees by the slap, but he gets up and sputters for a while*
Frodo: It is...um! ah!...very...impressive, yes, it is very impressive!
Frodo: *his fingernails dig into his palms*
Sirana: *she looks to Vartang and whispers* what do you think Captain Vartang?
Vartang: *he whispers back to her* A good tribute to the fool *out loud he says* A worthy tribute to the friend of Sauron!
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang looks in awe at the statue not noticing that frodo had fallen down* my stonemasons worked long and hard to carve this marvelous likeness of you, shakh baggins!
Frodo: *nods and stammers* I am sure they did, I'm sure they did!
Lord Lorthang: *just as soon as frodo gets back up, lorthang slaps frodo on the back again and laughs, beaming* i knew you would like it shakh!
Sirana: *her finger lightly grazes over his arm before she leaves his side and moves over to Frodo and bends* Are you all right Shakh?
Vartang: Lord Lorthang, the nobility of his countenance can be seen clearly in the work of the masons. My admiration for this excellent gift!
Frodo: Oh, I'm fine, my lady, fine, thank you! *laughs nervously*
Lord Lorthang: *every curl of frodos hair, the creases of his waistcoat and jacket, all are carven into the stone, in almost frightening realism*
Sirana: *she smoothes her hand over his arm and smiles sweetly*
Vartang: Truly a marvel, Shakh Lorthang! The statue will grace Shakh Baggins' courtyard at his new residence
Frodo: *Rationally, he shouldn't, but he finds Sirana's gesture reassuring and regains some of his composure*
Lord Lorthang: *looks to vartang* new residence, shakh?
Frodo: *echoes, shocked anew*....New residence?
Vartang: Aye, shakh, soon Nurn will lose the great lord
Lord Lorthang: *he looks crestfallen* a pity indeed to lose such a noble lord of mordor!
Sirana: *her hand remains on Frodo's shoulder as she stands straight again*
Frodo: *looks meaningfully to Vartang, wanting to speak to him privately, but it would be impolite to leave Sirana at this moment*
Vartang: The statue, this great tribute to the Friend of Sauron, is greatly appreciated
Lord Lorthang: it shall be his going away present, though i had not thought he would be... removed... so soon
Sirana: *her mind ever spinning with questions of it all...she knew there was much more to everything but so little she knew...ever curious and quiet she silently observed all words and reactions*
Frodo: *has a dizzy spell and sinks to his knees once more, one hand clutching his chest for he is having trouble breathing.... removed...to the dark tower.... and is that to be his "new residence"?*
Vartang: *he thinks to himself: Perhaps that will not be all that will be "removed".*
Sirana: *she crouches and holds Frodo* something wrong Shakh?
Vartang: Aye, Lord Lorthang, this will truly be a fine memorial to Sauron's Friend
Sirana: *runs her hand over Frodo's forehead*
Vartang: You are truly a man of genius to devise this gift
Frodo: No, no. I have been unwell, is all. *stills his heavy breathing*
Frodo: *straightens with another polite smile to Sirana*
Lord Lorthang: ah, thank you shakh. *he beams* now it seems it may have a twofold purpose *he thinks: as both frodo's going away present and his standing stone*
Sirana: *she looks down to his face and can see his quick pulse in the hollow of his throat*
Vartang: Shakh Lorthang, I have been planning to visit you and your family. I have business with you
Vartang: Perhaps we can take care of everything while you are here
Lord Lorthang: i had also brought other gifts for shakh baggins, but perhaps you would like to have the first choice...?
Vartang: *He smiles smugly* Ah! I could never do that.... what is the choice?
Sirana: *she runs a fingers over his cheek and smiles* well if you are well to stand now Shakh.. i will release you from my grip *she removes her hand and moves closer to Vartang and her father, wanting to hear a bit of it*
Lord Lorthang: many slaves, gold and treasures from gondor, and many fine black horses, some of mearas descent
Frodo: *nods to Sirana and stands a little distance from them, half listening and half contemplating the statue*
Vartang: Shakh, is this an attempted bribery?
Frodo: *looks to Vartang and Lorthang at those words*
Lord Lorthang: of course not, shakh! you are a great lord, highly esteemed, and very powerful. twould be only fitting for you to have first choice in the treasures.
Sirana: *she stands next to her father and stares at Vartang*
Vartang: Ah, I see. Of course, a man of your quality would never stoop to such as that. We shall discuss this in private, later though
Sirana: *a bit disappointed at Vartang's request*
Lord Lorthang: of course, of course *face begins to turn a little red, wishes he had a glass of wine in his hand*
Vartang: But now, you must both be very tired from your journey. You should perhaps rest a bit?
Frodo: *The huge statue, the titles they call him, though false, all remind Frodo of the One Ring and its powerful promises. His surroundings fade and all that is left is a cosuming need for the Ring*
Frodo: *He looks down at the Ring he wears now and imagines for a moment that he has the One again...then he hears the familiar cutting laughter and Sauron's voice reminds him of his foolishness, and guilt washes over him anew*
Vartang: I shall have the servants show you to your rooms and then, after you rest, we shall talk
Sirana: *looks over to Vartang and nods* very kind of you all
Lord Lorthang: *he nods nervously* good, good, i was feeling a bit tired.
Sirana: *looks to Frodo who seems pensive*
Vartang: Provisons have been made for both you and your daughter. You will each have a suite. Your bodyguards will be quartered nearby at your call
Sirana: *turns to her father and places her hands on his forearms* are you well father?
Frodo: *surprised out of his thoughts by Sirana's glance, he dons his mask of politeness again*
Lord Lorthang: many thanks and much gratitude to both the hospitality of shakh baggins and shakh vartang
Lord Lorthang: *he looks to sirana and smiles at her reassuringly* yes, my dear, all is well *beads of sweat dot his forehead and between the hairs of his receeding hairline*
Sirana: *there is constant wheezing in his words. she looks to him..the picture of ill health*
Sirana: *looks to Frodo..who shares that image in a differnt way..then to Vartang...perfect health*
Frodo's Servants: *frodos servants, always waiting nearby for summons, hear vartangs words and go to escort lorthang, his daughter and the bodyguards to their rooms*
Frodo: *forces himself to do this...perhaps it is the polite thing to do, though he feels like a traitor. He bows* Thank you, Lord Lorthang, for your gift *he says as they leave*
Lord Lorthang: *as lord lorthang leaves, he calls back to frodo* an honor my boy to give the friend of sauron such a worthy gift!
Sirana: *she meets up with her handmaidens who as always chatter quietly and then meet her excitedly and fuss over her and she orders them to her quarters*
Narrator: *During the afternoon, pitchers of water and basins, towels and cloths are brought by servants to the rooms of Lord Lorthang and his daughter and the bodyguards. Then they are brought food and wine.*
Narrator: *An hour before the meal, servants come to Sirana's door and tell her that Shakh Baggins would like to see her before the meal. A message is also taken to Frodo telling him that Sirana will be seeing him soon. The servants escort her to Frodo's walkway, where he is attempting to have afternoon tea.*
Narrator: *A feast has been prepared in honor for Shakh Lorthang and Lady Sirana for that night, but first Vartang has business to discuss with Lord Lorthang. A message is sent to Lorthang by one of the hall servants to meet with Vartang in an anteroom off the main hall a half hour before the meal.*
Vartang: *By this time, Vartang has gone back to his cottage and turned over the care of his falcon to a servant. He sits down at his table, reads his afternoon dispatches and writes replies for those that are needed. Then he turns the letters over to a courier to take back to Lugburz*
Vartang: *After a few draughts of wine, he is ready for the appointment with Lorthang. Vartang then leaves his cottage, goes to Baggins' Hall and sits at a table in the anteroom, waiting for Lorthang*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang follows the servant through the corridors of baggins hall, his heart pounding in his chest. what business did the variag want with him? he soon reaches the anteroom and comes in, bowing to vartang* shakh, you wished to see me? *he asks hesitantly*
Vartang: *Vartang keeps his seat and motions to Lorthang to take a chair* Aye, shakh, we have things to discuss. Sit down
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang swallows hard and takes his seat. he looks around nervously*
Sirana: *she was a bit curious about the request to see Frodo..she then was brought to his walkway and to his room and called lightly* Shakh Baggins?
Vartang: *Vartang folds his hands together, fingers intercrossing* As you well know, shakh, I have need of neither slaves, gold nor horses
Lord Lorthang: *tries to surpress the urge to babble senselessly out of his nervousness - that will always get one in trouble* ah... shakh...
Frodo: *sees Sirana coming, gets up and bows* Good afternoon Lady Sirana. Please sit down and have some tea *pours some for her*
Vartang: What are you saying, Lorthang?
Frodo: *wonders why Sirana has come to see him*
Lord Lorthang: *swallows* why did you request my presence, shakh?
Sirana: *she lowers her head in a bow to him and smiles* Good afternoon Shakh. *looks around and then sits and takes the tea* thank you
Vartang: *He looks down and studies his fingers* You tried to bribe me today, Shakh. That is a crime as you know, to attempt to bribe an officer of Mordor
Frodo: What can I do for you, my lady?
Lord Lorthang: *begins to sweat again* but my lord - i really had brought many gifts to give lord baggins. i merely offered you first choice.
Frodo: Is there something you would like to talk to me about?
Vartang: *He looks up from studying his fingers and stares Lorthang in the eye*
Sirana: *she raises an eyebrow, confused* i thought you wanted to see me
Vartang: I understand, shakh, I understand completely
Lord Lorthang: it was not a bribe, my lord!
Vartang: You know the penalties for this, do you not?
Frodo: Oh...*confused as well* I thought you wanted to see me. *blushes, then smiles good naturedly* But, you might enjoy tea here in the garden nonetheless.
Frodo: *puts some of the cakes on another plate and slides them over to her*
Lord Lorthang: *a look of terror crosses his face and he says in a hushed voice* my death and the death of my family
Sirana: *she brings cup to her lips...how they order things without him knowing...not that powerful a Lord indeed as she already knew...oh the plots she knew nothing of and wished she did...smiles* yes i shall enjoy it very much....*takes a bite* delicious
Vartang: Indeed, indeed, Shakh, that is the penalty. Your brain laced with fat can surely comprehend that, can it?
Vartang: However, lest you think that you shall be rendered over a fire, I will say that I admire a man of your abilities and arrogance
Frodo: Findulas, the housekeeper, makes these cakes. She is from Gondor. She has two boys, only 4 and 6 years old. They are quite sweet
Sirana: *her hand tenses on the cup and she clears her throat*
Sirana: *looks up and smiles* i bet the children are lovely
Lord Lorthang: *he pushes his chair back and falls on the floor, grasping at vartang's boot* no my lord! please have mercy! *the sound of his body hitting the floor makes a loud thud*
Sirana: if i may Shakh?
Frodo: Oh, they are. *at her question* What is it?
Vartang: Do not grovel, man! On your feet. As I said, I admire a man of your abilities, but you have been in Nurn far too long. You have grown too comfortable and your girth almost exceeds your arrogance
Sirana: what ails you...what is the failure of your health?
Sirana: i appologize if i am too blunt
Lord Lorthang: *he struggles back to his feet and resumes sitting* thank you my lord, thank you
Vartang: But you think as a petty government official and do not aspire to loftier things
Frodo: *a grave look passes over his face. He flushes and pales, thinking of the long journey and all that he must not say. He tries to figure out how to answer truthfully*
Vartang: I know you would sell your family to slavery if your life depended upon it. A worthy quality, shakh
Lord Lorthang: *he nods, his head going up and down rapidly in his nervousness* aye, lord. but what do you want of me?
Vartang: *the finger of one hand starts tapping on the table* You know my power, shakh
Frodo: Well, my lady...it was partly long troubles. But mostly now it is a disease of the lungs.
Sirana: *sips the tea and looks over his features*
Vartang: You know I could have you killed at any moment, but no, I will use you
Sirana: *places her hand on his* i hope you recover soon and well
Lord Lorthang: thank you, my lord! indeed you are very powerful, and your mercy is exceedingly great.
Frodo: *surprised, she actually seems sincere...he feels touched and gives her a sincere smile* Why thank you, my lady.
Sirana: *she knows in her mind..that this meeting of theirs was a planned distraction*
Vartang: But your place here will be taken by another more worthy and you, petty lord, will remove your family and yourself, one tenth of your men at arms and such belongings as you will need in reason
Frodo: *Frodo wonders what the purpose of this arranged meeting was*
Vartang: You have ten days to prepare to leave. Then you shall journey to Minas Artano and take up residence at such place as I direct. Now get out of my sight!
Lord Lorthang: *he gets up quickly, bowing repeatedly* thank you my lord, thank you! *almost stumbles out the door*
Vartang: *Vartang waits until the man leaves the room, then gets up, goes out the door. He thinks to himself: the man is a fool to think he could bribe me but I had planned to remove him for quite some time. His coming here has saved me the journey to his keep to inform him*
Sirana: *takes another bite of the cake and looks around his grounds...where she would have stayed if he married her*
Lord Lorthang: *he walks through the corridors of frodos hall, frightened footsteps pounding on cold marble. he spots one of frodos servants walking by and demands to know where is the lady sirana. the servant tells him that she is having tea with lord frodo upon the walkway. lorthang leaves and goes to find them*
Frodo: *Frodo continues their oblivious conversation* How have you fared since our *coughs nervously* last encounter?
Sirana: *she looks over him* Well Shakh..well
Frodo: I am glad.....I did not want to cause you distress, truly
Sirana: *places the cake down, her stomach feeling uneasy all of a sudden*
Lord Lorthang: *some time passes before lorthang finds the walkway, having forgotten in his panic to ask the servant for directions. he finally gets there and sees fordo and sirana sitting at the table, he pulls up a chair and sits down. smiles at them nervously* greetings dear and shakh baggins
Sirana: *she turns suddenly and sees her father*
Frodo: Lord Lorthang, are you well?
Sirana: *her eyes widen and she stands. he is out of breath*
Lord Lorthang: *he smiles at frodo, a big, nervous false smile* quite well, shakh *whispers to sirana* we need to speak
Sirana: *she wrings her hands together and turns to Frodo*
Frodo: *Frodo frowns worriedly*
Sirana: please excuse me Shakh
Frodo: *nods to Sirana*
Sirana: *she walks out with him and stares to him*
Sirana: what? what is it?
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang leaves the table and goes over to the bannister in a corner far from frodos hearing. he says to her* my dear, we have ten days to leave nurn and go to minas artano
Sirana: *she eyes him and she grits her teeth*
Sirana: what did you do? *her voice raised*
Lord Lorthang: *in hushed voice* we shall not discuss it here. but when we get back home we must make preparations to leave
Sirana: *spins him around..her eyes blazing*
Sirana: how weak and stupid do you think i am?
Frodo: *watches them argue. He wonders what subtle but deadly maneuver Vartang has made now*
Lord Lorthang: *he sighs heavily* i tried to bribe the variag.... twas a folly, i know, but.... *he trails off*
Sirana: *she shoves him hard in the chest*
Sirana: blinded and greedy bu nothing but food and drink!
Lord Lorthang: *he stumbles back slightly, looks at her with hurt expression. he says between clenched teeth* don't make a scene, daughter!
Sirana: *moves in close to him*
Lord Lorthang: would you rather us die? he offered me that option.
Sirana: you leave yourself open to it all. you have no power!
Sirana: no conviction!
Lord Lorthang: don't raise your voice so loud, shakh baggins will hear you
Sirana: Shakh Baggins?!
Lord Lorthang: i am still living and you are still living, that is all that counts.
Sirana: do you jest?
Lord Lorthang: *he hisses* don't embarass me in front of the dwarf!
Sirana: oh *laughs* i am living!
Sirana: he is a halfling. a halfing! all right?
Sirana: listen! for once in your failure of a life
Frodo: *watches them, catching a few--important--words. His eyes are wide and his lips form a thin line*
Lord Lorthang: i don't know what he is, but if we do not watch our steps, we shall all die, both you and me and all of the family
Sirana: no no... not me. the family cares nothing of me, nor do you
Lord Lorthang: *he looks offended* of course i care for you! if we stay in nurn, we shall die. if we go to minas artano, we shall live, though perhaps our lives might be harder.
Lord Lorthang: don't acuire the wrath of the variag! or he shall kill you too!
Sirana: maybe, but i will not be a coward
Sirana: how can a man so big be so....weak and small. you are small father
Lord Lorthang: a man must do what he must to gain power - and to stay alive.
Sirana: the only one gaining power is Vartang!
Sirana: you are just simply staying alive
Narrator: *At that moment, Frodo's servants come on to the walkway and announce that the feast is ready and that they should go to the great hall*
Lord Lorthang: do not speak so loudly, daughter, especially when you speak of the variag.
Sirana: *leans in closer to him*
Narrator: *Ceolwulf, who has been trying not to listen to the heated conversation, says to Frodo* Come, Master Frodo, it is time for the meal
Sirana: always worried about what others think
Frodo: Aye, Ceolwulf, let us go *they walk slowly out, with Frodo casting a furtive glance back at the argument as they leave*
Lord Lorthang: it is not a case of what others think. you have lived in nurn for eighteen years, you know that even sometimes the walls listen.
Sirana: come father, time to eat
Sirana: *she walks off*
Narrator: *The great hall has been prepared with the addition of two tables. In addition to Shakh Lorthang's bodyguard, 30 of his officers have been invited and the hall is filled*
Frodo: *Frodo and Ceolwulf try to find seats at the full tables*
Frodo: *Frodo insists that Ceolwulf is his bodyguard and should have a place too*
Lord Lorthang: *he sighs heavily and watches as she leaves. women! always so demanding. impossible creatures! never understood matters of state!*
Narrator: *Frodo's servants see him and escort him to the head of the table. Ceolwulf takes his usual place behind. Lorthang's seat has been reserved at the other end of the table. Ceolwulf assists Frodo into getting into his chair*
Narrator: *Frodo's request for Ceolwulf to take a seat beside him was sadly denied by a servant. The servant says* Slaves do not sit at the table. I am sorry
Frodo: *Frodo smiles sadly at Ceolwulf as he helps him into the chair*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang sits at his seat at opposite end of the table from frodo... sulking. indeed, this day had gone ill for him*
Narrator: *One seat remains empty, the one to Sirana's left, but all the rest of the seats at the table are occupied by Lorthang's bodyguards and some of his officers*
Sirana: *she went to her quarters and debated going to dinner...she dismissed her handmaidens..and places her head in her hands*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang thinks of the pretty serving girl, the one with the dark hair and gray eyes, slender form and ivory skin, of numenorean descent. perhaps frodo would wish to sell her? she would make a nice consolation prize*
Narrator: *Vartang is late when he finally comes into the hall. He sits down two chairs to the left from Lorthang. Frodo is far away at the end of the table and looks very small and forelorn*
Sirana: *she lifted her head and more darkness filled her eyes and she fixed her gown and hair and made her way to meet all the others*
Sirana: *she keeps a proud posture and makes her way to her seat and nods to everyone and sits*
Lord Lorthang: *his wife had died, and he had been very lonely of late.... perhaps lord baggins would be willing to part with some of his lovely slaves*
Vartang: *He looks down to the end of the table at Frodo* Shakh, announce the commencement of the feast. For surely we cannot begin without your word *he laughs to himself*
Frodo: *looks at Vartang with surprise, then thinly veiled scorn, then turns to the guests* Let us begin the feast
Vartang: *Vartang claps on the table* Here, here, a speech from the Great Shakh!
Lord Lorthang: *he points his finger into the air* aye! a speech!
Frodo: *He is supposed to say more? He silently curses Vartang. He prays for guidance. How to make a speech without saying anything traitorous, or anything that could get him killed?*
Frodo's Servants: *frodos servants begin to bring out platters for the evening meal. several hogs had been roasted for the occasion, and many large turkeys were brought out, glistening in the light of the torches*
Frodo's Servants: *several beeves have been slaughtered and cooked in various ways. soon the table begins to fill. however the fare at frodo's hall is much plainer than that of lord lorthang's*
Frodo's Servants: *there are fewer courses with no entertainment between. instead, in the background, hidden by curtains, lute and harpists play gentle meldodies*
Frodo: *He clears his throat* I thank you all for gracing us with your presence, and I hope you enjoy your stay here. May the night be a happy one. A toast to Lord Lorthang and Lady Sirana
Frodo: *cringes inwardly, but drinks his toast and hopes they will all start eating*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang looks with disappointment at the food that is brought out. he feels he is among rustics.*
Vartang: *Vartang rises to his feet* An outstanding speech Shakh!
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang and his men stand to their feet and clap exuberantly* aye! outstanding speech!
Frodo: *tries not to roll his eyes at Vartang*
Frodo: *marvels at these men and how far they will go to protect themselves from the ones they think are in power*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang plops back down into his chair, takes a sip from the wine almost as soon as the servant puts it down on th etable. he begins to eat, very messily*
Frodo: *It was the shortest, plainest speech Frodo had ever made or heard in his life*
Sirana: *she looks over to Vartang...the look of satisfaction on his face...the overseer of fates in a part of a tale that is bigger than is let on or noticed by some*
Frodo: *just the type of speech a hobbit party would like, Frodo muses with a little smile*
Lord Lorthang: *he frets slightly that the first course of the meal had ben omitted - the appitizers and light meats - the foods served in that course always aided in digestion.*
Vartang: *Vartang begins eating a piece of roast beef and washes it down with a swallow of wine*
Sirana: *she looks over Frodo who obviously heard her quarrel*
Frodo: *tries to hide his agitation and curiosity as he returns Sirana's glance*
Vartang: Shakh Baggins, truly you provide very good fair
Frodo: *narrows his eyes at Vartang for a split second* Thank you
Lord Lorthang: *thinks the meat could have been more tender, it is a bit hard to chew. he swallows and announces loudly* aye! very good fare, very good
Vartang: *Vartang smiles in amusement at the irony of the falseness of the whole affair*
Frodo: I am glad you enjoy it. *he eats as well, not caring much about the food, absorbed with the tense atmosphere*
Sirana: *she plays with the food a bit and takes small bites..her level of comfort not as high as it was before*
Sirana: *she tastes the food and looks to her father who she knows is critiquing it in his head*
Sirana: *the expressions on everyone..made her lose her appetite*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang turns his attention back to the food.... smears of grease adorn his face and particles of food are stuck to his beard. he drinks from his glass and soon only a drop remains.*
Sirana: *she drinks deeply and looks to Vartang*
Lord Lorthang: *the lovely serving girl with the dark hair comes by with a tray of goblets - he takes one and beams at her, a piece of food stuck between his teeth*
Frodo: *Frodo drinks his wine more quickly than usual, savoring its calming powers, trying not to think about Sirana or the Dark Tower*
Vartang: *Vartang looks over at Sirana* My lady, you grace this table
Vartang: *He finishes his beef and potatoes, pushes his plate back and drinks deeply from his goblet of wine, one of many of the day*
Sirana: *he was smart and cruel...he knew what he was doing...at least he displayed power...though silent and secret power*
Sirana: *yet a tool of a greater cause and a greater cause it must be...for there is no other reason to tamper with a title of Friend of Sauron when indeed that is false...at least displayed as false*
Rian: *the serving girl - rian - immediately notices the piece of food stuck between lorthangs teeth, but smiles at him nervously and continues her rounds*
Vartang: *Vartang thinks to himself.... look at the fat hog, how he swills from the trough*
Vartang: My lady, I think you and I will be seeing much more of each other in the future *he smiles at her and takes another drink of wine*
Frodo: *Frodo notices Lorthang watching Rian intently*
Frodo: *pales and bites his lip. Never!*
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang puts his hand to his mouth, taking his fingernail and picking a piece of beef out from between his teeth. much too stringy, he deems. he takes a heavy drink of wine*
Sirana: *and while she thinks too much...her father just eyes a servant*
Narrator: *The servants take heed when the guests have finished eating, because they know it will be another night of drinking bouts and toasts, wild singing of songs*
Frodo's Servants: *the older servants, those who had worked for the former lord, remember his wild parties before he was... removed*
Frodo's Servants: *they know they must be on their feet all night serving draughts of wine and ale. alas, no rest for the weary. indeed, many feet would be sore after this night*
Lord Lorthang: *as time passes lorthang continues to drink and make eyes at rian, ever drinking more wine*
Lord Lorthang: *he turns to his daughter and smiles drunkedly* excuse me my dear. i must speak to the good shakh baggins *his servant helps him out of his chair and he staggers over to frodos side*
Frodo: *Frodo has drunk two goblets of wine, more than he is used to. Mostly is has made him feel more tired and lightheaded*
Frodo: *He notices Lorthang staggering over to him*
Vartang: My lady, it appears this will turn into a night of drunkedness. Perhaps you would like to walk in the gardens for a while?
Frodo: Hail, Lord Lorthang.
Sirana: *she leans back in her chair a bit and drinks as her ever darkening eyes lose their innocence a bit more every day..continually surveying the crowd and then to Vartang as he speaks and grins*
Sirana: yes Captain Vartang
Sirana: i think i would like that very much
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang slaps frodo on the back* my boy! glad to see you look so well. *the bodyguard who had sat beside frodo had passed out and fallen to the floor. lorthang takes his seat*
Sirana: i think it is much needed
Vartang: Then come, my lady, the air is heavy here and will be fresher in the garden *he helps her up*
Frodo: *Frodo blinks confusedly and almost topples out of the chair, but Ceolwulf puts him back*
Sirana: *she stands and takes his arm and looks to her father*
Frodo: *coughs* And you too, Lord Lorthang.
Lord Lorthang: my boy, i would like to speak to you. i wish to buy some of your slaves, or perhaps trade some of mine for them - the dark haired maiden especially.
Frodo: *his eyes widen, completely awake now* I am sorry, my lord...they are not for sale
Frodo: Perhaps something else?
Lord Lorthang: *lorhtang feels siranas gaze. he turns to her and says, waving his hand* go, my dear
Sirana: *she grits her teeth at his careless signal*
Vartang: *He takes her arm, smiles at her, stops at the door of the hall, says a few words to his bodyguards and escorts her to the garden*
Frodo: Perhaps we have a horse or a fountain from the garden that you would like? Or this gilded goblet? *holds up his goblet*
Lord Lorthang: *he slaps frodo on the back again and laughs heartily* a good jest, shakh! how much do you wish for them? i can pay you many gold pieces, and some horses for them, for the dark haired one especially
Sirana: *she inhales the air and still holds onto his arm*
Frodo: I was serious. They are not for sale. But I am willing to part with anything except the slaves
Vartang: *The great fountain the garden makes splashing noises and the scent of many flowers permeate the air*
Frodo: *Frodo wonders if he will have a bruise on his back after today*
Lord Lorthang: i only desire the dark haired maiden.... she could comfort me, a widower, in the long hours of loneliness.
Frodo: Oh, I am sorry for your loss, my lord.
Sirana: *she welcomes the fresh scents that cleanse her senses from the stuffy air inside*
Vartang: *he turns to her* My Lady Sirana, indeed the Shakh's gardens are beautiful
Frodo: But she is not for sale. She is very dear to me. As you can see I am not well, and her companionship is a great comfort to a dying man such as myself. Surely you understand
Sirana: they are *she looks deeply into his eyes and smirks* 10 days eh?
Lord Lorthang: *he looks at frodo sadly* aye, the dear woman has been gone for many years now. i wish to to buy the dark haired maiden, and perhaps take her as my wife..
Vartang: *He looks into her eyes and smiles* I see your father told you
Sirana: he did
Frodo: *Frodo is sympathetic to Lorthang's loss but adamant about Rian* I am sorry.
Lord Lorthang: i have other maidens i can give you, it would be a good trade *he had brought many slaves and much treasure to give as a gift to frodo, but he decides to try to offer it now as payment or trade for rian*
Vartang: My lady, how does the news suit you?
Sirana: he told me what he did...i am disappointed
Lord Lorthang: if not the dark haired maiden, perhaps the twins of golden hair? they might make good... companions..
Frodo: *sighs. Lorthang is so stubborn, just as he was with the marriage contract* No, I have told you, they are not for sale.
Vartang: Sirana, your father made a grevious mistake
Sirana: he is an easy mark and he makes many mistakes
Lord Lorthang: *his eyes almost plead with frodos, the impact of the events of this ill day hitting him anew* but shakh! i have endured many hurts, my wife long years ago, and my falcon mere weeks!
Lord Lorthang: humor a fat old man in his days of dearth
Vartang: Then pray he makes no more, for the next one will be his last, still he can be of use
Sirana: *she swallows hard as she looks to him* you are smart Captain Vartang
Frodo: *Frodo feels sorry for the man, but knows such a fate would be torment to any of the girls*
Sirana: i do not know how to help my father
Vartang: *He takes her by the shoulder* and I perceive, my lady, that you are smart too
Sirana: he would never listen to me and never has
Vartang: Far smarter than your father
Frodo: I am sorry for your losses, truly. But I cannot sell them. I hope you find comfort in your daughter, or in...some other source
Lord Lorthang: *first the loss of his falcon - then the loss of his province - and his wife died many years ago as well. he sighs heavily, wallowing once again in the pools of self-pity*
Lord Lorthang: *he looks to frodo hopefully* but i can give you many horses and much gold! *he planned on giving it to him anyway as a gift of friendship, but still.... it would look a handsome price for the slaves, and frodo knew naught of lorthang's original plans*
Lord Lorthang: treasures from gondor! horses of mearas descent! anything your heart desires.
Sirana: *she tilts her head to the side and smiles to him* smart enough to know that my life is expendable and not thought of by anyone
Sirana: not him as he says...not you...just myself
Vartang: *he holds her shoulders tightly* I have given your father another chance
Sirana: i have only myself to rely on...my knowledge and wit
Vartang: And it is your job now to make sure he does not fail again. If you understand me
Sirana: i live for that and the Dark Lord and no one or nothing else
Vartang: Keep your father out of trouble and keep his head upon his shoulders, and we will do well
Frodo: *smiles half sadly, half indulgingly at Lorthang, and says with studied patience* My heart desires the girls' friendship. They are dear to me. I will not part with them.
Frodo: Anything other than servants, I will part with
Sirana: *feels the pressure of his hands on her shoulders*
Sirana: i will do my best
Lord Lorthang: *he studies frodos face trying to understand his thoughts. he thinks it has become clear - an understanding smile crosses his face* ah, i see, i see. they are.... dear to you. i understand now
Vartang: *he releases the tension on her shoulders* Aye, I think you will
Frodo: *turns crimson* Oh no, not like that, but...but...yes, they are. *blurts out in embarassment before he can stop himself*
Lord Lorthang: *he chuckles at frodos embarassment* ah, you have taken the ways of the easterlings. i understand - you need not be ashamed. they are a noble folk! *laughs again*
Sirana: but what if he does slip up...what happens to me..do i join in his fate?
Vartang: Sirana, if your father blunders again as he has today, not even I can save him
Frodo: No, no, they are not married to me! They are good friends! I would not do that to them!
Sirana: i said...what happens to me
Frodo: They are like daughters
Lord Lorthang: *he waves his hand and smiles knowingly* i understand, i understand. have no worries, shakh.
Vartang: Perhaps my lady, just perhaps.....
Sirana: *her hand moves to rest on his that is on her shoulder*
Vartang: Even if the fool who is your father is lost, I can save you, but do not let him press his luck too far
Frodo: Well then...thank you for understanding *though he is still scarlet and thinks that Lorthang has quite the wrong understanding*
Lord Lorthang: *hoping to impress frodo he says... though he had planned to give him the gifts all along and it had only been an afterthought to claim they were payment or trade for rian* i shall give you the wain of treasures and many horses and a few of my slaves anyway as a gift in gratitude for your fine hospitality!
Sirana: i can do only so much...Captain Vartang...as you know...daughters do not hold much persuasion. perhaps to those fathers who care but he does not
Frodo: Oh, my, that is not necessary...but thank you for your offer *turns redder*
Vartang: Your father will have a position as a petty bureaucrat in Minas Artano. His problem is that he has tasks beyond his ability
Lord Lorthang: *slaps frodo on the back again* nonsense my boy! i shall leave the wains and horses here
Frodo: *small whimper of pain this time*
Sirana: Then how can i possibly help him? or myself?
Vartang: Keep the old fool quiet, my lady, and keep him doing his job. Then both of you will be well
Frodo: Well, thank you then, my lord. *drinks more wine*
Lord Lorthang: *he suddenly grabs frodos goblet of wine and drinks deeply. he turns back to frodo, wine dripping down his face* i am going on a journey and cannot be burdened with excess goods...
Lord Lorthang: so what i have is yours!
Frodo: *startled and amused when Lorthang grabs the goblet as soon as he sets it down*
Lord Lorthang: it is a token of my enduring friendship to you, shakh. accept it with gladness! *he feigns happiness*
Frodo: *polite smile* very generous *wishes he were back in his room away from this deception and treason*
Sirana: i am not on his private meetings..but i will try to see he keeps his mind more focused
Vartang: *he takes her arms again* And my lady, soon I will be going to Minas Artano myself. Your father will be reporting to me
Lord Lorthang: *after finishing frodos goblet of wine, he takes another goblet of wine, belonging to the noble who has been assleep unde the table for some time*
Sirana: *chills are sent through her a bit at his touch* then i shall look forward to your visits
Vartang: *He smiles* And perhaps together, we can keep your father out of trouble
Sirana: he does need all the help he can get *smiles*
Vartang: Indeed, my lady, my duties will necessitate my visiting your father often
Sirana: i should probably reconcile with him soon then but not now
Narrator: *Out in the peaceful garden, echoes of the raucous laughter inside the hall can be heard. Choruses of drinking songs are sung loudly*
Lord Lorthang: *after a few moments of silence, he turns back to frodo and begins to engage him in conversation* so shakh, did any of your kin fight in the great dwarf and goblin war?
Narrator: My Lady Sirana, I advise you to reconcile with your father as soon as possible
Frodo: Ah...well, actually, no, because I am a halfling. We have not fought in wars for many long years.
Frodo: But we are close to the height of dwarves, I'll grant you that
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bends over and whispers in Frodo's ear* Are you becoming tired at all this?
Frodo: *whispers back* Extremely tired, and I'll bet your feet are killing you
Lord Lorthang: *he slaps frodo on the back again and laughs* ah! halflings, dwarves that are smaller in stature! *he takes another sip of the wine*
Ceolwulf: *He laughs* My feet are quite used to this, although sometimes I think I too am turning into a statue
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, shall I take you to your room?
Frodo: Yes, please, Ceolwulf *turns to Lorthang* A pleasant evening to you. I must retire
Lord Lorthang: *he looks to frodo with a sudden expression of sympathy, not realizing that frodo is leaving* so, shakh, who do you mourn for? for it is the custom among the dwarves to tear off the beard when in mourning
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf helps Frodo from his chair and begins to take him out of the hall*
Frodo: *answers Lorthang over his shoulder, deciding it is better not to argue* For an old friend
Lord Lorthang: *lorthang looks disappointed when he realizes frodo is retiring* a pity, shakh! i would dearly have liked to talk with you about dwarf lore. but go and take your rest!
Lord Lorthang: and indeed, i am sorry for your loss. goodnight, my boy!
Frodo: Good night! *he and ceolwulf leave the hall*
Ceolwulf: *As they walk out of the hall and down the corridor to Frodo's room, Ceolwulf says* I told you any day that started out bad will end bad and this one started out ill enough
Frodo: Aye, but you must admit that was at least a little amusing at some times *he is a little tipsy*
Frodo: Such as all that talk of dwarvish lore!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, who never drank anything at the feast, says* Ignore the man. He is fool and fools babble senselessly
Frodo: *nods and follows Ceolwulf down the corridor*
Lord Lorthang: *he finishes the goblet of wine, and requests more when a serving girl goes by. he drowns his sorrows in heavy drink and soon is asleep on the table, snoring loudly*
Frodo: Are you well, Ceolwulf? You seem to be in an ill mood today
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf nods to the guards at Frodo's door and opens it for him, waits until he goes into the room and closes it behind*
Frodo: *waits for Ceolwulf's answer as he enters the room*
Ceolwulf: *he sighs deeply and closes the door*
Frodo: *frowns in concern*
Ceolwulf: I think, Master Frodo, that there is an ill wind blowing. It is September. Soon it will be autumn
Frodo: What do you mean? All the plots behind our backs?
Ceolwulf: Yes, there are plots afoot. I cannot help overhearing
Ceolwulf: Perhaps it is the season so close to autumn. I worry how my people will fare in wintertime, and what has become of them? We hear no news here
Narrator: *Out in the garden, Vartang says to Sirana* Do you wish to go back in or stay a bit longer in the garden?
Frodo: *Frodo had been so caught up in the problems of Nurn that he had not thought much about the people of Gondor and Rohan. He feels awful* I am sorry...but the King will help them if there is help to be had
Frodo: King Elesar will, if Rohan is still free
Sirana: i would like to stay out here...the air is refreshing and i suppose all are in their stupors now or asleep
Ceolwulf: The King? There is no king. There will not be a king until horses sprout wings and fly
Vartang: Then let us stay in the garden, for surely, they have all fallen into drunken sleep by now
Frodo: But, Ceolwulf, you heard the ranger say he acted in the name of King Elessar.
Frodo: I know this man. There is still hope for him.
Ceolwulf: I know not how to judge them
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: If the king's men must resort to kidnapping slaves for ransom, I wonder what sort of king he is?
Frodo: *feels his face grow hot--he had not thought of that. What if Ceolwulf is right? He feels great fear for all the Free Folk*
Ceolwulf: A king of robbers and bandits? Then such a king as that will not have my loyalty
Frodo: When I knew him, he was of noble character...but...maybe...well... *falters and sits heavily in a chair with a sigh*
Ceolwulf: Better by far that this king had stayed in anonymity for he will be as vexatious as any war lord
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, it is time for your medicine
Frodo: No, no. That is not true, I know it.
Frodo: King Elessar is the promise of the Free Folk
Ceolwulf: We will speak no more of kings who come out of silence and make pretentions to thrones
Ceolwulf: Rohan, if it still exists, will not serve such a king!
Frodo: *the atmosphere between them is awkward and somewhat tense*
Ceolwulf: I would fight against him myself
Frodo: *unusual for these two friends*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, how can you honor a king who employs outlaws in his work and kidnaps slave maidens?
Frodo: *pointedly* That would be a grave mistake. You would do better to fight for him, and if you knew him you would do it willingly
Frodo: *thinks for a while* Well...it certainly does not seem like him. Perhaps they were not really in his employ.
Frodo: We are in a thick web of plots, are we not?
Ceolwulf: ah that we are *he pours a goblet of wine half full and watered down. Then he goes to the shelf, takes the bottle of brown medicine, pours some in and stirs it with a spoon, then goes back and gives it to Frodo*
Frodo: *drinks the medicine, grimacing at the foul taste*
Elfhild: *elfhild manages to sneak away from the hall... many of lorthangs men are either passed out or too drunk to make requests for more wine. she walks quietly down the corridors of frodos large manor hoping she will not be noticed*
Ceolwulf: *He takes Frodo's empty glass, puts it back on the table for when the servant girls come in to take out the dirty vessels. He takes a seat near Frodo* Frodo, do not believe every tale that strangers bring so easily to their lips
Frodo: *raises an eyebrow, wondering to which of the many tales that surround them Ceolwulf is referring*
Elfhild: *she finds her way to the corridor that leads to frodos room. she smiles cordially at the guards at the door and knocks upon its heavy wooden surface*
Ceolwulf: *To break the mood of tension and make things lighter, Ceolwulf says* Now our main problem is what to do with that statue. Do you want it to stay where they placed it?
Frodo: *Frodo chuckles and shakes his head, then hears the knock* Who is it?
Elfhild: *elfhild calls* elfhild, my lord.
Frodo: Ah, come in, Elfhild!
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, it is truly amazing how the masons captured your likeness so perfectly
Elfhild: *elfhild opens the door and walks through... closing it behind her. she bows to frodo*
Frodo: *downs the last of the medicine* Unbelievable.
Ceolwulf: Your statue is the talk of all the servants. Elfhild, have you seen the thing?
Frodo: My dear, why do you bow to me like that when nobody is around? You know you don't have to do that.
Elfhild: *she looks to ceolwulf* aye, ive seen it. its resemblence is realistic, it is almost uncanny
Frodo: ...nobody like Vartang, I mean *smiles*
Elfhild: *she blushes slightly and says to frodo* i... i am sorry, my lord. courtesy, i suppose.
Narrator: *In the garden, Vartang has escorted the Lady Sirana to one of the many benches near the fountain*
Frodo: That statue reminded me of the falsity of this whole charade. I am not a lord. I am just a gentlehobbit from the Shire. And all this acclaim is for my worst failure, so I don't want to mix you up in it
Sirana: *led to the bench she sits and looks to the fountain*
Ceolwulf: Then, Master Frodo, if you think this is a statue to your failure, perhaps there should be one made for me *he laughs* A statue to failures
Elfhild: *she laughs nervously and looks at the floor.... again with the talk of failures. and she had fought so desperately and valiantly against the orcs who tried to capture her*
Frodo: *looks reproachfully to him* That is not funny, Ceolwulf. Don't say such things about yourself.
Ceolwulf: You suppose you will be cursed with the thing from now on?
Frodo: I suppose so. Valar, I hope not, though *sighs*
Vartang: *Takes one of her hands in his* Will you miss Nurn so much?
Elfhild: *she walks to the bench in frodos room and sits down, her feet and legs aching*
Ceolwulf: *He sighs* Perhaps moss will grow on the statue and it won't be so...... *he catches himself* apparent
Frodo: The likeness, you mean?
Sirana: *she squeezes his hand a bit and looks to him* It is all i know of. I suppose i will at first, all i am accustomed to.
Elfhild: if you ask me, it reminds me of one of the statues going to dunharrow. i have heard of them in tales... hideous statues of pot bellied men, their features lost to many years of rain and wind
Frodo: Why thank you, Elfhild, I'm flattered *laughs*
Vartang: My lady, you will miss Nurn for only a short while. There are great wonders now in Minas Artano!
Elfhild: *she throws her hand to her mouth and turns bright crimson* i am sorry my lord!
Elfhild: i... was describing the statues, my lord. i was not describing you!
Sirana: *her eyes brighten a bit as she looks him over* yes i am sure there are
Frodo: I know, I couldn't resist. Don't worry *waves a hand dismissively*
Elfhild: *her face turns redder and she looks at the floor, suddenly becoming very, very warm*
Sirana: but i am just concerned with my task at hand to keep my father in line as best i can
Vartang: Even now, the Great Temple is well nigh completed
Sirana: then i look forward to laying my gaze upon it
Vartang: And it is a mighty work, so I am told. Six hundred feet tall with a dome of silver, built on the same model of the temple at Numenor
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, your statue is not as bad as that of the Woses of Dunharrow. The wild men built the statues many years ago
Frodo: *stops his laughter* Thank you...tell me of these statues. Let's have another Rohirrim tale *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf welcomes that invitation*
Elfhild: *elfhild looks up and smiles at frodo and ceolwulf*
Sirana: *her thumb involuntarily moves over his palm as he describes it and she smiles* it sounds magnificent
Vartang: *Vartang holds Sirana's hand* Soon will be the dedication ceremony of the Great Temple. Surely you would not want to stay in Nurn when that event transpires?
Vartang: Nurn is a backwoods place, given totally to agriculture. You must see the city, my lady, and the wonders it holds
Sirana: *her back straigtens a bit as her eyes shine and her smile widens*
Vartang: Perhaps I will show you around *he smiles at her*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf settles in his chair, prepared to tell a tale of Rohan, but he thinks how dry his throat is and how long it has been since he has had even a drink of water*
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, could you get me something to drink?
Frodo: And have you two had anything to eat? Maybe you could get some food too?
Elfhild: certainly, sir. *she gets up and looks to frodo* and you, my lord? would you want a goblet of wine as well?
Frodo: No thank you. Perhaps some water though, to kill the taste of that medicine
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I am not hungry, but I am thirsty
Elfhild: *she smiles at frodo* nay, my lord. i am not hungry.... for there are certain.... benefits.... to working in the kitchen. if you understand me..... *her smile widens mischeviously and she goes over to the cabinet. she gets a goblet, pours wine into it and brings it back to ceolwulf. she turns back to frodo* i shall go to the kitchen and get you a cold pitcher of water
Frodo: *laughs*
Ceolwulf: Thank you, Elfhild for your kindness
Frodo: Yes, thank you!
Elfhild: *she smiles to both frodo and ceolwulf* always, my lord and sir. *she bows and leaves the room, heading to the kitchen to get a pitcher of water*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, perhaps we should wait until she comes back before I begin the tale? *he asks with a question*
Frodo: It is up to you, Ceolwulf. Perhaps; she would enjoy it too
Elfhild: *in the kitchen elfhild once again draws water from the well, pouring the contents of the bucket into a pitcher. she puts the pitcher and a goblet upon a tray and heads back to frodos room, humming softly a tune in rohirric under her breath*
Vartang: My lady, I cannot describe the wonders that await you. I will simply have to show them to you
Sirana: *she tilts her head and raises her brow...he was indeed mischevious...she couldnt trust him..but she couldnt ignore him..his sharpness was admirable*
Sirana: then i hope you will
Vartang: You will soon forget the sting of leaving Nurn *He touches her face with his hand*
Sirana: *she leans her face just a bit into his hand* perhaps i just might
Vartang: Yes, my lady, I think you soon will *he laughs*
Sirana: *she keeps her eyes on him...he was wicked*
Vartang: *He puts his arm around her shoulders and pulls her close to him*
Sirana: *she can feel his breath on her and can smell the scent of wine and speaks in a low voice* you are very cunning...do not ever think i am ignorant of that....*raises eyebrow and grins* i know what you are all about...yet, knowing this, i will not withdraw myself from you
Elfhild: *she reaches the door to frodos room, opens it with one hand, balnacing the tray upon her other outstretched palm. she enters the room and places the tray upon the table beside frodos bed*
Elfhild: *she hands the goblet of water to frodo and steps back, bowing slightly and smiling* your water, my lord *and returns to her bench*
Frodo: Thank you, Elfhild
Frodo: *wants to tell her to stop calling him "my lord"*
Ceolwulf: Now a tale of old Beleriand!
Ceolwulf: Master Baggins, have you ever heard of Haleth?
Frodo: No, I don't believe I have
Elfhild: *she was not from the harrowdale valley, indeed she had lived many miles away in the eastfold. she asks hesitantly* the king....?
Ceolwulf: Ah, you have not heard of Haleth of old
Ceolwulf: Haleth was a brave warrior chieftan and led her people in many battles
Frodo: A woman chieftan!
Ceolwulf: Her people were strange enough in their own ways. They did not speak the same language as the other edain
Ceolwulf: The elves regarded them as strange but friendly. She was accepted as the leader of her people in both war and in civil duty
Ceolwulf: In addition to strangeness of having a language different from the other edain and having a warrior who was a woman for a chieftan, they were friends with the Druedain
Elfhild: *she listens intently to the tale of old beleriand, the lands of middle earth under the sea*
Frodo: *Frodo listens carefully, taking in the tale*
Ceolwulf: The Druedain, strange people in themselves. They were very short, about the height of dwarves
Ceolwulf: But they were not dwarves and the elves counted them as among the edain. To their friends, they were the most devoted and loyal but to their enemies they were deadly
Ceolwulf: They would go to war with their friends in small local battles, but they would not go far from their homeland
Ceolwulf: They had a conclave amongst the people of Haleth in the days of old Beleriand, the land now under the sea
Frodo: They sound much like halflings
Ceolwulf: I shall tell you a tale of one of them
Ceolwulf: Nay, Master Frodo. They were nothing like your people. They were short, squat, pot bellied, with little hair upon their heads
Frodo: Ah *grins, remembering Elfhild's earlier comment*
Ceolwulf: Others thought they were ugly but their friends looked to their spirits and found beauty. Some thought them grim and foreboding but at times they would laugh merrily in a jest
Ceolwulf: They did not live long, which was a shame, because their numbers dwindled in the wars
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, do not ever think they were halflings, for they were not
Frodo: *nods to Ceolwulf*
Elfhild: their people made statues on the stairs of the hold, which lead to dunharrow, a fortress of our people
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo and wonders if the day's stresses have been too much for him and instead of listening to the tale, perhaps he should go to sleep* Master Frodo, I can tell the tale another time
Frodo: *though he has been listening carefully, it has been an effort to keep his eyes open. He smiles gratefully*
Elfhild: *she looks to frodo* my lord, i shall leave you, if you wish to rest
Frodo: *He looks at them with a sudden grave expression*
Frodo: *He stammers strangely, as though he cannot decide what to say*
Ceolwulf: *looks to Frodo with concern*
Frodo: I.... I..... I hope that I can..... no.... I hope that you.... well...
Frodo: Soon...
Elfhild: *her brow furrows* yes, my lord.....?
Ceolwulf: Frodo? *he says questioningly*
Frodo: *The tension resolves into an infinitely sad smile* I enjoy your tales...let us have it soon, before....well, soon. Good night, my friends.

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