A NEW KEEPER FOR THE HALFLING
May 7, 3020
Finduilas was in the kitchen heating a vessel of water to brew tea when suddenly one of the servants barged in, exclaiming excitedly, "There is someone to see the master! Please come quickly!"
Finduilas goes to the great hall, where a strange man stands, looking at one of the tapestries. After exchanging words with him, she bids him wait yet a bit longer while she fetches Frodo. She quietly opens the door to Lilandra's room and looks to Frodo, a frown upon her face. Her voice is soft as she says, "My lord, I know this is not the best time, but there is a man here who demands to see you... Come to your sitting room and I will send him in."
Lilandra portrayed by Madurz
Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Finduilas and Rian portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator and Pizdur Guntha portrayed by Angmar
Frodo: *Frodo's smile vanishes.
I knew it! he cannot help thinking. This happiness could not last.
They would not let it. Oh, no, what now?*
Frodo: *He nods to Finduilas, then turns to Lilandra* We'll be back to look after you as soon as we can. *Then he follows Finduilas to the sitting room*
Lilandra: *The expression of worry comes to Lilandra's face as she looks to Finduilas who rushes in with news of a visitor. Her breathing increases and she pulls the blanket around her tighter..eyebrows furrowed.......despair...it never leaves*
Finduilas: *Leaving Frodo in the sitting room, Finduilas leaves to summon the visitor.*
Frodo: *Frodo climbs into a chair, settles himself in it, then nods to Finduilas to send in the man*
Finduilas: I am sorry about this interruption *she mutters and then leaves to summon the visitor.*
Pizdur Guntha: *A man, obviously an Easterling, is ushered to Frodo's room by Finduilas. Greatly resembling Maugoth Vartang in looks and coloring, the man saunters in through the door. Sitting down on a chair, he takes a pouch of strong-smelling tobacco from his belt, fills his pipe and lights it with a nearby candle, sucking in air to get the pipe started.*
Pizdur Guntha: Ahhhh.... *he says at last* Finally I meet you. Let me introduce myself. I am Pizdur Guntha. I am here..... ahhh.... how do you say it in the Westron? *he squints up in the air and waves his pipe around* ....to see to your good fortune. *He smiles at Frodo and then puffs on his pipe.*
Finduilas: *After seeing the man to the sitting room, Finduilas bows and leaves them, going back to the kitchen to make at last the tea for Lilandra.*
Frodo: Captain G...Guntha, is that it?.....Ah. Hail. *He is overcome with dread and loathing at the very sight of the man. Another Vartang. Possibly even worse!*
Pizdur Guntha: Does the..... *he says, haltingly* woman see to your door, shakh? That is not suitable. Yes, that is the word. No, it is not suitable. No, no, women do not do that, yes?
Frodo: *raises his eyebrows*
Pizdur Guntha: You allow women to handle your household matters, shakh? This will not do, no, no, never do. Yes, yes?
Frodo: Finduilas is in charge of the household staff. She has been so for a long time. She is most intelligent and capable.
Pizdur Guntha: Shakh, you must excuse. The Westron tongue does not come easy to my face. I believe that is the way you say it, is it not?
Frodo: *stifles a laugh* No...you just say it does not come easily to you, is all.
Pizdur Guntha: Intelligent? *he looks questioningly* What means that word?
Frodo: It means smart. It means she knows what she is doing.
Pizdur Guntha: Smaaart. What means that? You mean she is capable? Is that what you mean, shakh?
Frodo: Um...yes, yes. That is it. She is very capable.
Pizdur Guntha: Forgive, forgive *he carefully forms the words* Guntha has not learned this tongue long. *he smiles, proud of himself* But it will come easy, I think, when I speak it much. No?
Frodo: Probably. *In spite of himself, he wears a little encouraging smile*
Pizdur Guntha: *He puffs on his pipe and blows a few smoke rings, forming them carefully with his tongue*
Frodo: *The smoke rings remind him of Bilbo and Gandalf....that other lifetime.....suddenly longing pierces through him like a blade.*
Pizdur Guntha: You, shakh, must.... ahhh..... remove the woman. Replace her with chamberlain. You understand?
Frodo: *indignant* Why? She does a very good job!
Pizdur Guntha: No, no, no *he shakes his head vigorously* She must go! You get good man to take her place. Let her cook, things like that.
Frodo: You want someone else to run the household staff, while she only cooks and cleans?
Pizdur Guntha: Ah, shakh *he says and closes his eyes, drawing on his pipe* we do well together. Guntha makes your household right. Yes, yes, that is what I want.
Frodo: It is right as it is now...or it would be, if everyone were here.
Pizdur Guntha: Oh, no, shakh. You must understand *he waves his pipe in the air* Guntha here to make all things right.
Frodo: *shifts uncomfortably* And what do you call "right"?....How do you want to make things right?
Pizdur Guntha: Correct, you understand? That is the word. Correct *he stumbles over the words* Here, here. This paper will explain it all *he says as he draws a scroll tube from his cloak and hands it to Frodo*
Frodo: *takes the scroll tube with trepidation, unrolls it and reads it*
Pizdur Guntha: *The scroll says: "By order of your Master, Sauron the Great, this man is to replace Maugoth Vartang as your mentor and guide. You are to obey his every word." The paper is not signed, for the One Who wrote it needs no signature.*
Pizdur Guntha: This paper explains, does it not, shakh?
Frodo: *Anger flares up in Frodo. Sauron is not his master!!! Who knows what horrors this new man will instigate? Oh, no, this is terrible.*
Frodo: *His voice is deadly quiet* Who is this paper from?
Pizdur Guntha: *His pipe finished, he looks around for a place to place the ashes.* Shakh, I need a.... ahhh... receptacle. It would not be as they would say here.... ahh... good manners to throw the ashes in floor.
Frodo: *gestures to the fireplace* Who sent the paper?
Pizdur Guntha: Ahh, good, one of them, yes, yes. *He gets up, walks to the fireplace and taps the ashes out of the bowl of his pipe against the edge. Then he replaces his pipe inside his cloak and walks back and resumes his seat.* Shakh, *he smiles* our Master!
Pizdur Guntha: Now where am I to sleep? Or do you not understand? I am to take my lodgings here so I can.... ahh.... look after you.
Frodo: *At first Frodo is confused, then his eyes widen in terror. His voice hitches in his throat at a sudden sharp pain in his shoulder.* I don't know...wherever Vartang stayed. Listen... This paper says I am to obey you. Did...He say what happens if I do not?
Pizdur Guntha: Shakh *he looks at him sadly* is it necessary for me to say what would happen if you disobeyed?
Frodo: No, but I must know to whom it would happen. To me, or to the others?
Pizdur Guntha: The Maugoth had his own quarters up the hill. You shall be glad I will be close by to help *he smiles again* To everyone *he waves his hand dismissively* to all! For what is the difference between the master and his household? When one fail, the other fail, no? And so all must equally share the guilt. *he smiles*
Frodo: *His whole body tensed in fear and fury* I suppose so. *his failure ruined all their lives, did it not?* Well then *he says icily, sliding off the chair* Go up the hill, where Vartang stayed.
Pizdur Guntha: No, I stay here, with you. Not on hill, no never. I brought few things. My horse is tied outside. My belongings are in the saddlebags. If you would be so.... ahhh.... well... as to have someone care for my horse, I will go out and get my belongings, sleep here tonight.
Frodo: Kind. That's the word you're looking for. If they ever use it in Mordor!
Pizdur Guntha: Kind? What means this word?
Frodo: It means being good to other people, putting other people before yourself.
Pizdur Guntha: I go out of bed very early in morning. I like tea, hot and spiced, with herbs from Khand. A bit of cheese, bread. Meat. Nothing much for Guntha
Frodo: *nods with a sigh*
Pizdur Guntha: Good, good, yes, that is the word. But we have no word for this "kind" in our tongue.
Frodo: *Why am I not surprised?* Well....suppose you had a son, and he hurt himself, and you comforted him. That would be kind. Or if he wanted something expensive, and you bought it for him anyway, that would be kind. Or if you knew that all was coming to darkness, that cruel hands held your life and the lives of those dear to you, to try and make their hard fates as easy as possible would be kind.
Pizdur Guntha: Ahh! Ahh! *A sudden look of understanding comes over his face.* You mean as when we kill our enemies to get them out of misery, shakh? Most often, we just let them die.
Frodo: *sighs heavily* No, no. That's not it. Look....why don't I be so kind as to get someone to show you to your room *awkward smile*
Pizdur Guntha: Shakh, that would be good But first I eat! Journey long way, stomach growl. Must have food. Get your women to bring me food!
Frodo: There is probably something in the kitchen...Finduilas knows everything that is prepared there.
Pizdur Guntha: Where is kitchen? Why they not bring it to me? Women wait upon men. That is the way it is done in the East, and now that I am here, that is the way it will be done! *he says arrogantly*
Frodo: *Frodo gets out of his chair, walks across the room, and peers around the corner* Finduilas? *he calls*
Pizdur Guntha: If woman do not come soon, you should go beat her.
Frodo: *Bites the insides of his cheeks. That's exactly what Vartang said when he brought Frodo to Nurn.*
Rian: *Rian, who had chanced to be coming down the hallway in which the door to Frodo's sitting room was located, overheard the call of her halfling lord.*
Frodo: *Frodo stays around the corner to intercept Rian before Guntha sees her*
Rian: *Espying Frodo's curly head as he peered from the crack of the door, she walks over and asks him* Do you wish for me to get Finduilas, my lord? Or can I be of help?
Frodo: *whispers* No, if you could just get this man some meat...*sighs*....He is...*he hates so much to say it* Vartang's replacement.
Rian: *Her grey eyes widen with fear* Ohh.....! Very well then, *she says hurriedly* I shall fetch him something to eat right away. *She makes haste to the kitchen.*
Pizdur Guntha: *He sits there waiting, looking around at the tapestries lining the wall. Finally growing impatient, he gets up, goes over and stands by the fireplace*
Frodo: *Furious that Guntha has caused Rian distress already, Frodo stalks back into the room* She is bringing some food for you now.
Pizdur Guntha: Good, good! Some tea too, with much spice.
Rian: *Soon, Rian returns carrying a tray of meat, cheese, breads, and other savory foods. Entering the room, she sets the tray down upon the table and steps back, bowing.* Is there anything else, my lords?
Pizdur Guntha: *He leaves the fireplace and goes over and takes a seat at the table.* Tea, tea with much spice. From Khand. I would like.
Rian: Very well, lord. *she smiles nervously and leaves the room once more, on yet another trip to the kitchen.*
Pizdur Guntha: Shakh, have you drunk the tea that has been.... ahhh... saturated, mixed, with spice?
Frodo: No, I don't think I have.
Pizdur Guntha: Very much with flavor, it is.
Frodo: That's nice. *his tone is leaden*
Rian: *After a few moments have passed, Rian returns, carrying a cup of tea upon a small tray. She sets it on the table in front of Pizdur Guntha and steps back, bowing again.* Anything else, lord?
Frodo: *His back turned to Guntha, Frodo winks encouragingly at Rian as she comes back with the tea*
Pizdur Guntha: *He picks up the cup and smells it, and then looks at her sadly* No spice?
Rian: Er... *she begins nervously* the tea does have spices... but would you like it to have more?
Pizdur Guntha: Yes, yes *he nods his head up and down* much more *He picks up a piece of cheese and smells it before eating. Then he takes a piece of bread and meat and smells them first* Too bland *he says*
Frodo: What kind of spices? *remembers the discussion about "kind" earlier and tries again* Er, what is the name of the spice you want?
Pizdur Guntha: I think the name they call here... ahhh.... what you say... ahh... ginger, maybe, ginger, is that it?
Frodo: Ginger. *to Rian* Do we have ginger?
Rian: Aye, we have ginger... Perhaps you would also wish cloves, or bergamont?
Pizdur Guntha: I wish the bergamont, make please
Frodo: *Good, good, Frodo thinks. Make him like you, and you'll be safe.*
Rian: Very well then - tea with bergamont, lavender, cloves and spices imported from Nurn. And I shall see what I can do about the food. *she takes the tea and puts it on the platter with the food, and turns to leave.*
Frodo: *mouths "thank you" as she leaves*
Pizdur Guntha: *He points at the woman as she leaves* What is the woman to you? Slave, or servant?
Frodo: *Friend and daughter, actually, but...* Um, servant?
Pizdur Guntha: Do you own her, shakh?
Frodo: Well, aherm, uh, yes...I suppose I do.
Pizdur Guntha: Is she as they say, as I think it is said, your..... property?
Frodo: Um...if you...uh, put it that way...but....*sighs*
Pizdur Guntha: Can you sell her?
Frodo: Sell her? No, no!
Pizdur Guntha: That is property *he says happily, satisfied that he has mastered the use of this word*
Frodo: *relieved when he realizes the man does not want him to sell Rian*...yes, that is what it means.
Pizdur Guntha: I do not wish to buy her.
Frodo: *Frodo nods to him. Good, he thinks.*
Pizdur Guntha: What is name of woman?
Frodo: Her name is Rian
Pizdur Guntha: Reee-aaan? *he asks questioningly*
Frodo: Yes, that is right. Rian *says it slowly*
Pizdur Guntha: Ahhh yes *he says, a realization coming over him* she is one of them!
Rian: *Soon, Rian enters the room, carrying another tray of food, heavily laden with spices with a cup of strong, steaming tea upon it. She sets the tray once again upon the table.*
Pizdur Guntha: *He takes the cup and brings it to his nostrils, smelling it* Good, good, bergamont!
Pizdur Guntha: Sit now with us, Ree-aaan
Rian: *She looks to Frodo questioningly but does as she is bidden. Glancing over to the strange man, she asks* Then it is to your liking?
Frodo: *Frodo smiles reassuringly at Rian...but feels he cannot offer any true reassurances. At least this man seems more civil than Vartang. But what if it is an act?*
Pizdur Guntha: Ah, yes! *he exclaims* I have word for you, lady. Your friends....... they stay away. I bring word of them
Frodo: *leans forward* Who?
Rian: *Her eyes widen and she gasps, leaning forward* You mean... Elfhild, Elffled and Arnasa? *she exclaims, not even daring to hope, for little good happened to those who know the Halfling Frodo Baggins...*
Pizdur Guntha: *He blows on his tea, cooling it, and then drinks* Ahhh, good tea. Very good!
Frodo: *his voice rises uncharacteristically* Whom do you speak of?! Who?
Pizdur Guntha: Yes, those. Those are the names. They be good.
Frodo: *looks to Rian, amazed, then back to Guntha* What of them? *waits with baited breath*
Rian: Oh! *she cries, joy filling her heart* How do they fare? Where are they? Will they be returned to us soon?
Pizdur Guntha: I am to say to you..... they fare well, and are not ill. *He shakes his head* Return to you... *he says quizzically* not know that.
Frodo: *He soared to the heights of ecstasy when the man said the girls were well, then back to the pit of disappointment when he said he did not know if they would return.*
Rian: That is wonderful! But - *her brow then furrows* is there no one you could ask, to find out when they will return?
Pizdur Guntha: Ask? We do not ask questions there! *he says excitedly. He shakes his head again* Good tea. I want more.
Frodo: *tenses again at the reference to "there"*
Rian: Oh.... *she murmurs softly and bites her lower lip. Then she reaches over to the pot of tea upon the tray and refills his cup.*
Frodo: *Afraid to disobey him, Frodo looks at the tray to see if there are any extra teacups*
Frodo: *unable to stifle his questions* Where are they now? Are they still in Minas Morgul? Is there no one we could ask about their return? You are sure they are well? Have you seen them?
Rian: *Rian looks to Frodo and then to Guntha* I only brought one cup... please excuse me; I shall go to the kitchen and fetch another. *she rises from her chair and leaves the room*
Frodo: *Frodo feels bad that Rian has to make a third trip...but he is already afraid to go against Guntha' wishes*
Pizdur Guntha: *He drinks from his cup, glad of the strong, spicy taste* Shakh, I was told they were well. Perhaps they bring great satisfaction when the Nine Lords summon them in the night to share their beds. How am I to know such things? *he shakes his head* I do not ask questions. No one asks questions there. No, I have not seen them.
Frodo: *his face falls*
Pizdur Guntha: I do not walk among the Lords.
Pizdur Guntha: I take word of one who told me.
Frodo: Who told you?
Pizdur Guntha: Shakh, have you not learned! I can say no more, shakh. Not this.
Frodo: *Fear clutches at his heart* You cannot say who told you?
Pizdur Guntha: Now I come to west. I learn many things. I listen to words of superiors. I do as I am spoken. Spoken, spoken, no, no, not word I want. *he looks puzzled*
Frodo: Told *he corrects absently as he runs his fingers over his face and up through his hair*
Rian: *Rian returns to the room with an extra cup for Frodo. She fills it with the strong, spicy tea and places before him. Returning to her seat, she hopes to hear more of the fate of her friends - for whilst leaving the room, she had overheard some of Frodo's pleading questions concerning them.*
Frodo: *Frodo smiles to Rian and thanks her for the tea*
Pizdur Guntha: Now shakh *he says after drinking more of his tea* will you be.... no..... ahhh..... friend? Yes, friend. Friend, you be not friend?
Frodo: *frowns confusedly* Friend? Friend to whom? *oh no, he thinks. I can already guess to whom.*
Pizdur Guntha: *He struggles to think which is the right word. He has just mastered the Common to an extent, but still forgets the words.* We will not be enemy *he says finally* you and I *and smiles* We be what you say.... "kind"
Frodo: *awkward smile*.....I see. *Could this man be....kinder than Vartang? Frodo doesn't dare to hope that. Besides, this is how Vartang first presented himself, as well.*
Pizdur Guntha: I know much about your household. I know about the Nine. Yes, that I know
Frodo: What? *astonished* The Nine? What Nine?
Pizdur Guntha: *His look is puzzled* The Nine servants!
Frodo: Ohh...the ones who wear the rings. *nods sadly*
Pizdur Guntha: Ree-aan, Aaalfheld, Aaafled, Fin-do-las, Ar-naasa, the Strawhead, the Tark, the man and his wife.
Frodo: Yes, they are the ones.
Rian: *Rian listens to Frodo and Guntha speak, bewildered as usual and slightly fearful, but who would not be, when Mordor controlled everything*
Pizdur Guntha: I come to take care of all of you! *he says excitedly*
Rian: *She prays that this is not a foreshadowing of doom and inadvertently shudders at the man's words.*
Frodo: *Frodo's demeanor is no comfort, as he is just as fearful and does little to hide it in his agitation. He manages another awkward smile to the man*
Pizdur Guntha: Hmm *he says and strokes his beard* Vartang was not good man, not good at all. But we talk of that later. Now I finish tea. Want to see room. Take please. *He finishes his tea and sets the cup down on the table*
Frodo: *Shares a puzzled look with Rian...not good man? Not good to us, or not good enough to keep Ceolwulf and Vardamir from running away?* Ah...is there a room where the Captain can stay?
Rian: *Her confusion is equal or perhaps greater than Frodo's, but she says naught about it. Looking to Frodo, she replies* Aye, my lord. We have plenty of room. The guest chamber should do nicely.
Frodo: Thank you *he says, relieved that she rescued him from his memory lapse.*
Pizdur Guntha: Someone give orders that my horse is to be stabled in your stables. He is to be rubbed down after his saddle has been removed, given a measure of oats and hay.
Frodo: *nods* All right, I will go tell the stablehands.
Pizdur Guntha: And this afternoon, shakh, we shall talk of the..... ahh..... affairs here. There must be changes, shakh. Many changes.
Frodo: *looks down to hide his expression of absolute dread*
Pizdur Guntha: This keep has been bad mismanaged!
Rian: *Rian swallows, fearing what evil this portends.*
Frodo: *He is silent, disagreeing, of course, but unable to do anything about it, as usual.*
Pizdur Guntha: Many horses stolen not long ago. Guards not...ahh...suitable. They are to be dismissed. I will have others sent.
Frodo: Oh! *he wonders if this means he will be unable to communicate with Ceolwulf and Vardamir now. They had been sending messages for a time, but the last one he had received was back in March and now it was May.*
Pizdur Guntha: You must be protected shakh, at all times, from the....... um.... evil.... that could come upon you.
Frodo: What evil is that? *skeptical*
Pizdur Guntha: You call them in the common, I believe, intruders? Brigands who come upon you at night, these lawbreakers will not be back.
Frodo: Oh....oh, yes...the intruders.
Rian: *Rian's eyes widen slightly, but she tries to keep a calm expression. "Vardamir!" she thinks, remembering of the secret tryst in the market place.*
Pizdur Guntha: *He rises to his feet* Now take Guntha please to room. And *he says* I wish bath. Been many days in travel.
Rian: *Rising shakily from the table, she steps away and pushes her chair back in.* Very well, I shall show you the guest chambers, and order a bath drawn for you. *she says, evading the gaze of the Easterling, her gaze cast downwards to the floor.*
Pizdur Guntha: Show room to me, and then I go get belongings from saddlebags. Bath to be hot, must wash dust of trail from myself. Thanks please. *he says, waiting*
Rian: Follow me, lord *bowing to Frodo and smiling nervously, she leaves the room and guides the man down the hall and to the guest chambers.*
Frodo: *So this new captain is polite, but inflexible. Which is worse, Frodo wonders, a lout whose will could sometimes be bent, or a gentleman whose word controls everyone with an iron hand?*
Pizdur Guntha: My room? *he says and looks to her*
Frodo: *manages a smile at Rian before rising and heading for the stables*
Rian: Aye, lord *she says and opens the door for him, stepping back away from the doorway, her hands clasped in front of her.*
Pizdur Guntha: My name, Ree-aan is Guntha, and do not forget it! Now go from me. I wish to look over my room!
Rian: Yes, my lord! I will not forget, my lord! Good day to you, my lord! *She says timidly, and bows to him twice, retreating quickly from his presence.*
Pizdur Guntha: Bring bath quick *he says as he goes into the room and closes the door behind him.*
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