A Night in Nurn

Frodo played by Hobbitness
Arnasa, Elfhild and Elffled played by Eowyn
Narrator, Vartang, Ceolwulf, Sador and Orc Guards played by Wraith

Narrator: *The night of June 26 came cold and clear in Nurn*
Narrator: *The house was quiet, lit by a few torches and some candles on tables. All were sleeping. The slaves had become accustomed to their new situations, as much as slaves can be accustomed to anything. Vartang was sleeping in his cottage near Frodo's*
Narrator: *Frodo was asleep in his comfortable featherbed, his mind deep in dreams. His servant, Ceolwulf, slept in a cot nearby*
Narrator: *The young man from Rohan, his head shaved now of his mane of golden hair, had been a rider of the Mark since early manhood. He had once not served anyone except his King, but now he served Frodo Baggins. He resented his servitude but since his lot, he supposed, was better than some slaves, he would serve the halfling as best he could*
Arnasa: *in front of the cottage, arnasa dances in mad circles in the moonlight, praying to sauron in long, wailing chants, and cutting herself with a ceremonial dagger*
Narrator: *The sound causes Vartang to turn in his sleep and he mumbles*
Arnasa: *she wheels round and round, going faster, now going slower, her wails high then low, tapering into silence, then rising again, like some wounded beast*
Narrator: *The continuing sounds from outside finally rouse Vartang from his sleep. He gets out of bed, opens his door, walks out on the threshold, and watches the scene by the moonlight*
Frodo: *The eerie wails wake Frodo too*
Arnasa: *she continues her frantic dancing, her dagger making new scratches upon her arms, and bright beads of blood well up from the marks of her knife*
Frodo: *He raises himself on his elbows, his heavy breathing turning to coughing.*
Vartang: *The familiar sounds of the chants to Sauron please Vartang, and he speaks* Wench, you do rightful oblation to the Master
Frodo: *He is not sure yet what the noise is---is it the wails of the prisoners in Lugburz? But then he looks around and remembers where he is*
Arnasa: *she stops dancing, her arms going to her sides, still holding her dagger, and looks towards the voice... vartang*
Vartang: Nay, wench, do not stop! Spill your blood to the Master and beg His mercy to grant you what you wish
Arnasa: *she bows low to vartang, and resumes her dance... her cries shrill, percing through the cold night air*
Frodo: *He presses his handkerchief to his mouth and finishes coughing, then lies back*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf hears the coughing and is instantly on his feet* Master!
Ceolwulf: *He puts a hand on Frodo's feverish brow*
Ceolwulf: Master, I will summon Sador
Frodo: *Frodo is embarassed to have woken him*
Frodo: No....it's all right, I'll be fine....don't worry
Ceolwulf: He can soothe the coughing fits you have with his medicine
Ceolwulf: No, master, you need him
Frodo: *tries to stifle the coughing in an attempt to prove otherwise*
Frodo: *He hates the sight of Vartang*
Frodo: *and is worried about the women*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf turns quickly to the door, opens it and leaves the room. Soon Sador comes back with him, pulling a blanket around himself to guard against the chill. Sador is half asleep, and rushes to the bed*
Sador: *The two men surround Frodo*
Frodo: *involuntarily shrinks back*
Sador: *Sador wails* Where is the girl, the maid who make the tea! Summon her now!
Sador: Where is she?
Arnasa: *wails, shrieks and beseechings to sauron waft in through the open window*
Sador: *Forgetting himself momentarily, Sador begins to chant with her, then remembers his mission*
Sador: *He walks to the door, opens it, looks out and calls to the maiden* Come here! You must make tea for master! Sador help master! Sador help master now, but must have tea!
Frodo: *Frodo widens his eyes. What if Sador turns out to be as bad as Vartang? And he had been relieved that it was Sador instead*
Arnasa: *she hears sadors voice and stops her wailing and dancing... she comes back to the cottage and enters through the door and comes into frodos room*
Frodo: *So he is surrounded by Sauron worshippers. What if they are really poisoning him? He feels worse instead of better*
Arnasa: *bows low to frodo*
Frodo: *He sees her through a swirling blur*
Vartang: *Standing on the stoop of his cottage, Vartang is displeased when Arnasa stops the dark ceremony*
Arnasa: *after bowing she straightens up... blood oozes from cuts on her arms. she wears a short sleeved dress* sador, come with me to the kitchen and we will make master tea
Vartang: *Disappointed, Vartang walks back through his door and closes it behind him. He goes to his wine cabinet, takes out a bottle and holds the bottle aloft and drinks from it*
Vartang: *Sador goes with Arnasa to the kitchen*
Frodo: *notices blood all over Arnasa's arms and furrows his brow in bewilderment. Is he dreaming?*
Sador: Mistress, mistress, you must hurry! He sick. Master is sick!
Arnasa: *quickly arnasa and sador make the tea for frodo... and then return to his room*
Vartang: *Satisfied for the time with one gulp, Vartang wipes his mouth off with the back of his hand*
Frodo: *He is vaguely aware of the commotion around him and burns with shame to cause so much trouble again. They do not get much sleep due to his attacks*
Sador: *Sador stands before Frodo's bed with the steaming cup of tea* Master, this help! Drink!
Arnasa: *arnasa stands by sadors side and looks upon the bewildered frodo lying in his bed*
Frodo: *tries to sit up but falls back*
Sador: *An aroma of unknown herbs and spices comes off the steaming tea*
Frodo: *The impact heightens the pain in his chest and he stifles a cry*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bends by the bed and props Frodo into a sitting position with pillows behind him*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, you must drink this tea that the physician has prepared!
Ceolwulf: *He takes the tea from Sador and takes a spoonful out and lifts it to Frodo's lips*
Frodo: *manages to swallow the tea with a grimace*
Frodo: *trying hard not to cough*
Ceolwulf: Perhaps this will help *But Ceolwulf's expression is grim*
Sador: *Sador says* This is beyond my skill! You must get Master Vartang!
Frodo: No!
Sador: You must get him now before it is too late! Little Master die!
Frodo: Please...please not him...*begins to cough again*
Arnasa: i shall summon him ... *hears frodo's "no" and looks to him with confusion*
Sador: Little Master die and Great Master be angry at Sador! Get him now, quickly!
Arnasa: *looks to frodo and then to sador, back and forth. decides to get vartang. bows to frodo, then leaves the room.... heading for vartangs cottage*
Frodo: *looks to Ceolwulf and Sador pleadingly*
Sador: Little Master, how are you? *Sador's voice is loud, his beady eyes stare at Frodo intently*
Arnasa: *arnasa reaches vartangs cottage and knocks on the door* my lord? master is ill.
Vartang: *Vartang has gone back to his wine bottle and sits slumped in a soft chair. The wine bottle is held by one limp arm which hangs over the side of the chair*
Frodo: *his eyes sting* Please let it end *he begs Sador*
Vartang: *His breath reeks of wine and he is in an unpleasant mood*
Sador: No, no, little Master! You must live, or Big Master might kill Sador! Poor Sador! I good physican. Back where I come from in Harad many live from Sador's care
Arnasa: *arnasa knocks louder on vartangs door* my lord? it is urgent ...
Vartang: *Vartang shakes his head groggily and he relinquishes his grasp on the wine bottle. It falls to the floor, breaking noisly*
Frodo: *trembles, flushes then pales* You don't understand!
Arnasa: *hears the bottle breaking from outside the cottage, causing her to fear that vartang is angry. she cringes, waiting to be hurt in some way*
Sador: I do understand, Small Master, you must be well! Or poor Sador not live much longer
Sador: *He falls to his knees by the bed and clenches Frodo's hand*
Sador: Don't die!
Arnasa: my lord, master is ill.... he suffers from a coughing fit.
Frodo: *looks to him with confusion and pity*
Frodo: I'm sorry....
Sador: *Sador clenches Frodo's hand tighter and his eyes seem to plead* No, Master, good Master, you live! Sador live! All live, all be happy!
Frodo: *lowers his voice to a whisper* I'm afraid...you don't know. They will hurt me
Frodo: They will hurt me again, I know it
Arnasa: *still no response from vartang... she bangs on the door and yells* MY LORD! MASTER IS ILL
Sador: *Sador gives one last look at Frodo and then rises to his feet, his head bobbing up and down, his large stomach jiggling in time* Master live! All say Sador good pysician! Give Sador good food and treatment.
Sador: *He bows repeatedly, his bald head bobbing up and down with each bow*
Vartang: *Vartang begins to stir from his chair, rubs his hand over his face*
Frodo: *manages a slight nod, then closes his eyes despairingly*
Vartang: *Vartang gets up from his chair and goes to the door. He opens it* What do you want?
Frodo: *another tremor shakes him and he turns a shade paler*
Arnasa: *she bows to vartang* my lord, master has a coughing fit. he needs medicine
Vartang: *He looks her up and down* Is it necessary to disturb my rest for this trifling matter?
Vartang: Instead, why don't you come in and we will share a glass of wine? *He looks at her with a gleam in his eye*
Frodo: *The night seems filled with stifling heat. It chokes him and adds to the fires in his chest. He feels the blood rise in his throat again but fights the impulse to cough because every movement hurts*
Arnasa: nay, lord, he is ill, and he shall die if he does not receive help.
Arnasa: and if that happens you will be praying to the Great One *she bows her head reverently* for mercy
Vartang: *He sighs and shakes his head, a resentful look on his handsome face* As you will then
Vartang: A moment, so I can dress
Vartang: *He turns from her and goes into his bedroom. Muttering to himself, he hastily dresses*
Frodo: *the coughing overtakes him against his will. He retches while Ceolwulf holds a bowl to catch the blood*
Vartang: *To Arnasa, he says* Let us go then
Arnasa: *she bows when he comes within sight, and waits for him to head for frodos cottage*
Vartang: *He walks past her and heads towards Frodo's cottage. He opens the door and goes in. He reaches up to the shelf where he left the medicine for Frodo, then goes into Frodo's room*
Frodo: *After minutes of violent coughing, he falls back in Ceolwulf's arms*
Arnasa: *she follows behind vartang, to frodos cottage and then to frodos room*
Vartang: Wench, I need wine!
Frodo: *his head hangs back, his lips parted and his eyes closed. He seems unaware of his surroundings*
Arnasa: *she leaves him, fetches a bottle of wine, comes back and bows to frodo and vartang. then she hands the bottle to vartang*
Vartang: A goblet, wench! What am I supposed to do! Pour the whole bottle down his throat!
Arnasa: forgive me lord. *she leaves, and comes back with a goblet this time... bowing to vartang and frodo again*
Vartang: You should be whipped for your delay! *He snarls at her*
Frodo: *Ceolwulf wipes his mouth with a cloth and lays him on the pillow. He notices Frodo's lips are moving slightly. Bending over, he can understand nothing but the repeated name "Sam"*
Vartang: *He takes the goblet from her hand, pours the wine into it, and mixes in the brown liquid*
Vartang: Give this to him! *He commands Arnasa*
Arnasa: *she takes the goblet from vartang's hands, and walks to frodo's bed* master? *she asks softly*
Frodo: Where is Sam?
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, who is Sam?
Arnasa: i do not know who sam is, master. here, you must drink this *she holds the goblet closer to his face*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, you must drink this. Lord Vartang says you must
Frodo: Why he is...he is my...*moans as he is lifted again to the goblet*
Arnasa: *gently nudges the rim of the goblet to his mouth, hoping he has strength enough to drink*
Ceolwulf: *He supports Frodo with his strong arms*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, there is no Sam here
Frodo: *starts in fear as the goblet touches him, beginning to lose awareness of where he is*
Arnasa: *softly* you must drink this, master *gently nudges the goblet to his face again*
Frodo: *tears start to his eyes* But there must be
Frodo: He promised!
Sador: *Sador moves to the center of the room where he falls down and bows. Then he lifts his arms up into the air and starts chanting*
Sador: *He chants* Great Master of All! Bring healing to this one! *Then he pulls a knife from his robe and slashes at his arms*
Arnasa: *still arnasa holds the goblet to frodo's lips, trying to coax him into drinking the medicine*
Frodo: *attempts a sip of the goblet but coughs a little as the liquid touches his throat*
Frodo: *turns to Ceolwulf hoping he won't have to drink anymore. He just wants to rest. Why won't they leave him alone?*
Arnasa: *bows her head and begins to chant as well....... a low sound at first, bearly audible, but gradually rising in pitch*
Sador: *Sador continues to hold his arms high in the air as the blood runs down from the gashes* Great Master of Darkness, spare this one! *he intones*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gives Sador an angry glare* Do not use the name of that foul one around me!
Arnasa: *stops her chanting momentarily* master, you must drink it all, or you shall die
Frodo: *Frodo realizes who Sador is talking about and begins to tremble*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf bows his head* By the Valar, may he be healed!
Sador: *Sador screams in anger at the words*
Sador: *Ceolwulf and Sador glare at each other as Frodo trembles*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes widen at Ceolwulf's words. The agonized expression vanishes momentarily, and he meets Ceolwulf's eyes with immense gratitude*
Arnasa: *she looks down at frodo, her voice more persistant* master, please! drink it all
Frodo: *For Ceolwulf, he attempts more painful swallows of the tea*
Sador: *With one last glare at Ceolwulf, Sador raises his hand again in supplication*
Frodo: *shrinks against Ceolwulf in fear at Vartang's shouts*
Arnasa: *arnasa raises the goblet to frodos lips, helping him drink it*
Vartang: *Vartang moves away from the scene and lounges against the wall*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says softly under his breath* Accursed words from an accursed man in an accursed land!
Frodo: *feels the goblet against his lips again and finally manages to finish it*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Sador and thinks... he is too pathetic to kill*
Arnasa: *arnasa moves the empty goblet away and puts it on a nearby table. then she returns and stands by frodos bedside*
Vartang: *Vartang continues to lounge against the wall* Master Sador, it appears that some do not appreciate your chant *he laughs*
Vartang: You are dismissed, Sador. Go out and give your entreaties to the Master outside. We must not disturb the great shakh
Sador: *Sador bows up and down repeatedly, the gold earring in his ear bobbing as he bows. He goes out the door and dances in the moonlight, shouting chants to Sauron*
Frodo: *exhausted, he leans against Ceolwulf, the only one of whom he is not terrified, still shuddering*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf reaches over with a cloth and wipes the perspiration off Frodo's face*
Ceolwulf: *He bows his head* To the Lady of the Stars, I entrust his care!
Ceolwulf: May the Valar protect him in the dark land *he says softly*
Ceolwulf: *He looks at Vartang with defiance. His defiance is met with a caustic laugh from Vartang*
Frodo: *It touches Frodo deeply to hear Ceolwulf's prayer*
Arnasa: *arnasa looks at ceolwulf, yet she says nothing*
Frodo: *After enough time in Lugburz he had stopped praying it even for himself*
Frodo: *He clings more tightly to Ceolwulf, afraid to let the followers of Sauron touch him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf continues his prayer* May Manwe, lord of the winds blow freshly upon his face and may Ulmo send the curing powers of the sea water to heal him. O Valar listen to my prayer
Arnasa: *arnasa feels uncomfortable. she looks down, and scrapes one bare foot aimlessly against the floor*
Ceolwulf: *His voice grows louder and he looks again definantly at Vartang* Send comfort to strangers in the dark land, bring healing and peace *he bows his head*
Frodo: *hides his face against Ceolwulf's shirt and gives a little sob, but it is of intense emotion at the prayer*
Vartang: *Vartang sends him a look that would burn through steel* Slaves can speak anything, but they are still slaves *His voice rings with sarcasm*
Arnasa: *looks up, and then to vartang*
Vartang: *He says under his breath* Before morning, this fool's back will feel lashes!
Frodo: *That is one word that Frodo can always catch, no matter what. His eyes fly open*
Vartang: *he says louder* And snaga, that is what you are, that is all you are. Remember that, dog of Rohan!
Frodo: *He feels Ceolwulf stiffen*
Vartang: *Vartang clenches one fist and walks silently through the door*
Vartang: *He thinks: The fool will pay for this. He will pay dearly before morning*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's voice is low* He is an evil man, master, and plots evil. All the days of his life are spent in evil
Ceolwulf: This one will come to a bad end
Frodo: *Frodo nods*
Ceolwulf: *He says something in Rohirric that Frodo cannot understand*
Arnasa: *arnasa looks down again, feeling ackward*
Ceolwulf: I have fought in battles, master.... If I could, I would slay this one!
Ceolwulf: His kind are a blight!
Frodo: *The medicine is helping him a little, and he is more aware. He realizes what has just happened*
Arnasa: *she looks up* and you would be slain yourself, for that is the penalty for striking out against your lord
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Arnasa* Then it would be a worthwhile fate, for slaying the enemy!
Arnasa: do not let speak so loudly.
Arnasa: nor let your words be so bold...
Ceolwulf: What does it matter, if should I die and one fiend die with me, poor deluded Arnasa?
Frodo: No! *it bursts forth before he can stop it*
Arnasa: *she sighs and shrugs her shoulders* as you wish, i suppose
Ceolwulf: *He wipes Frodo's forehead with the cloth again* Does the medicine help you, master?
Ceolwulf: *He looks at Arnasa with pity*
Ceolwulf: *shakes his head and says under his breath* Hopeless, a thrall of the enemy
Frodo: *his speech is slow and very quiet* A little *he sighs*
Arnasa: *the cuts and scratches on her arms have begun to clot, and no longer bleed freely. she looks to ceolwulf with little expression on her face, overhearing his words*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf falls silent and looks down at Frodo, compassion in his eyes*
Frodo: *raises his head with great difficulty and meets Ceolwulf's eyes* Thank you...thank you
Ceolwulf: *A contemplative look comes in his eyes* Somewhere, far above stars shine as they ever have
Ceolwulf: They shine on Rohan, they shine on the place from whence you came
Ceolwulf: And even here, in this dark land, fair Arien will cast her gaze on the morrow
Ceolwulf: These people are dark of heart, master, but they cannot put out the light. You must rest, let strength come to you
Arnasa: *sighs, and shifts uncomfortably*
Frodo: *He relaxes with a little sigh. Opening his eyes, he glimpses the nightmarish image of Arnasa with cuts covering her arms, her face hard and expressionless. Perhaps she is less fortunate than he, for she has no hope*
Ceolwulf: I am just a simple man, a rider of the Mark, but I know this, somewhere out there far beyond, honest men of the West battle the evil of the East
Ceolwulf: And while they fight can we do less?
Ceolwulf: Live, master, and show them you can fight them
Ceolwulf: Live, master, for all that is good in Middle Earth! *His voice rises louder*
Frodo: *nods, then whispers* Oh! I have fought them. You don't know....but you are right.
Ceolwulf: Then, master, do not give up now!
Frodo: *becoming choked with tears* I am so tired
Ceolwulf: These poor people who have come to you through chance or fortune, your slaves, need you. You are all their hope. It matters not about me. I would sooner die in a fight with one of them than live
Frodo: *raises a small hand to clutch Ceolwulf's arm* No!
Ceolwulf: And in this torment of my life, so far from my home, they need you, master! You must protect them
Ceolwulf: *His eyes look down into Frodo's* for there is nothing here but torment
Ceolwulf: My life is worth nothing to them. Look at Vartang's face. He would sooner kill me than look at me
Ceolwulf: I would kill him if I could, if I had a sword I would challenge the dog and make Middle Earth free of at least one fiend
Frodo: *whispers to Ceolwulf earnestly* I will try my best
Frodo: ...not to die...but you must not die either
Ceolwulf: But if I killed the fiend, there would be a hundred more to take his place, but at least I would have the satisfaction of his death
Frodo: No, no! Do not try anything
Arnasa: *looks to ceolwulf* they would behead you in a public spectacle.
Ceolwulf: Then my lips would curse them to the very last!
Arnasa: *shrugs again* tis folly, but as you will.
Frodo: Ceolwulf....listen to me
Ceolwulf: *he looks at Arnasa and shakes his head in pity*
Ceolwulf: Poor maid *he says under his breath*
Ceolwulf: *He continues to support Frodo's back and head on the pillows*
Frodo: *Frodo casts a quick glance at Arnasa, but he still sees anyone who worships Sauron as one of his tormentors, and he was beyond feeling pity for them long ago*
Ceolwulf: Master, are you any better?
Arnasa: may i get you anything?
Frodo: *quietly to Ceolwulf* You are the only one here....*he still finds it hard to speak*...do you understand? They all....they do not...
Frodo: But you, you prayed...and you come from the free lands
Ceolwulf: Aye *a look of pride comes over his face* From Rohan!
Frodo: *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *He shakes his head* I was bested in battle, and they took me captive
Frodo: Perhaps I am selfish...but do not risk your life
Arnasa: *frodo does not respond to her question. she feels ackward... and wishes she were back out in the yard praying to sauron*
Ceolwulf: Bested in battle at the last *he says with determination* But not at the first!
Ceolwulf: And I do not know the number of the enemy who fell at my sword
Ceolwulf: And may the Valar someday give me back my sword!
Frodo: But not Vartang! They will kill you. I am so tired *he repeats* I can no more, alone. Please.
Arnasa: *clears her throat uncomfortably*
Frodo: *Frodo did not notice her question, and looks to her as she clears her throat*
Ceolwulf: Vartang? *he looks down at Frodo* Vartang is a coward. He struts about with thousands at his back!
Arnasa: *looks down at frodo* master, do you need anything further?
Frodo: No...thank you.
Ceolwulf: Vartang? It is easy to see his measure. He is a coward. He reeks of it. He delights only in mistreating the weak and helpless
Arnasa: then may i humbly take my leave of you, master? for i was not through my reverance
Ceolwulf: *He looks at Arnasa and shakes his head in amazement*
Ceolwulf: *he eases Frodo back on the pillows and takes a seat beside his bed*
Frodo: *inwardly groans at the prospect of listening to more wailing*
Ceolwulf: Master, tell me about Sam, your friend
Frodo: *he sighs and gives Arnasa leave to go*
Ceolwulf: Was he a soldier too?
Arnasa: *she bows low to frodo* thank you, master. *she straightens up, walking backwards to the door... bows again, opens it and leaves*
Frodo: *Frodo grows very solemn, a sorrow too deep for words in his eyes*
Arnasa: *soon, her voice joins sador's in their loud, wailing incantations to sauron*
Frodo: In a way, he was...*smiles faintly*
Arnasa: *the unholy, eerie sounds are blown in through the windows by a faint easterly wind*
Ceolwulf: Listen to the fools, master! They chant for naught
Ceolwulf: They worship only demons
Frodo: *the wails remind him of nazgul cries, deepening the pain of Sam's fate. He covers his ears as the wails crescendo*
Ceolwulf: And if they cut themselves until they die, he will not hear them, nor will his dark master in the void
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf sits quietly by the bed, waiting for any commands from Frodo and dreaming of a bay horse galloping across the East Ement, the other Rohirrim galloping by his side. Then he thinks a dark thought. One word: Pelennor*
Ceolwulf: *he softly begins to hum the Song of Eorl*
Frodo: *Frodo stares up at the ceiling thoughtfully* There are no words...no words for his evil
Vartang: *Vartang sits in his cottage, a wine bottle and goblet on a table by his side.* Perhaps I should go see about the shakh.... he might die *he laughs to himself*
Frodo: *The ring on his hand seems to hear his angry words and begins to vibrate*
Frodo: *His eyes widen as taunts echo through his mind, taunts about being worthless and powerless, a failure, beyond contempt. A vision of Sam bowing before Sauron flashes before his eyes and he winces*
Elfhild and Effled: *the three girls are awakened by horrifying screaming and wailing... they rise from their bed, draping mantles about their chaineses... the twins tell rian to stay behind and they shall see of the matter. they rush to frodos room and knock upon the door...* master? what is going on?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf rises from his chair, goes to the door and lets them in, bowing as they enter* Ladies, my countrymen of Rohan!
Frodo: *gives an involuntary gasp of fear at the knock, and he has a brief spasm of coughing, but it is soon over*
Elfhild and Effled: *they look about the room... frodo lies in his bed, but he seems well. elfhild nods to ceolwulf and asks* why is there wailing? what is happening?
Ceolwulf: My ladies, the worshippers of demons wail and cut themselves outside
Elfhild and Effled: *elfhild says* oh... the servants of the great enemy. *elffled listens to her sister and ceolwulf speak and casts a worried glance at frodo*
Frodo: *has closed his eyes and attempts to rest despite the wails while the citizens of Rohan talk*
Ceolwulf: *After greeting the maidens from Rohan, Ceolwulf resumes his seat by Frodo's bed*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo has been very ill this night and the shrieks of these rabble do little to soothe him. Tis a foul thing to be captive in this dark land
Elfhild and Elffled: *elffled looks to ceolwulf* aye, indeed
Ceolwulf: *He looks to the ladies* From whence do you come in Rohan?
Elfhild and Elffled: *elfhild says* we are from the eastfold.
Elfhild and Elffled: *elffled turns to her sister and tells her* rian does not know the source of the mad wailing, and doubtless she is very frightened. i should go back and tell her that all is well
Ceolwulf: I come from the East Emmet, and I was once a soldier before *his eyes look down* before I became a slave
Frodo: *half-opens his eyes and looks sadly at them*
Elfhild and Elffled: *elffled would like to stay and her ceolwulf's story, but she knows rian waits in their room, fearing the worst... she turns to frodo* my appologies, master, but rian waits in our room for word
Elfhild and Elffled: may i have leave to reassure her that the wailings do not bode ill?
Sador: *Outside, Sador gives one final wail and falls exhausted on the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth*
Frodo: Yes, but you can come back and listen if you want...he may tell us an interesting story *smiles gently*
Frodo: *casts a troubled glance at the window*
Elfhild and Elffled: *elffled smiles and bows to frodo, then leaves the room, to reassure rian*
Elfhild: *elfhild stays behind, walking over to a nearby bench and taking a seat*
Frodo: *He feels desperately tired, but still in too much pain to sleep. He hopes Ceolwulf's story will be a distraction, if he decides to tell it*
Ceolwulf: An interesting tale? *Ceolwulf says* Nay, it is not interesting, master. It is a tale of failure
Ceolwulf: Failed hopes and failed honor
Frodo: I'll wager I could tell a greater tale of failure...but let us hear your tale
Ceolwulf: I was in the charge with Theoden king
Ceolwulf: At first the Rohirrim charge was successful and then a dart struck Snowmane, the king's mount
Ceolwulf: But then the fell spirit descended and I.... I... *his voice breaks*
Ceolwulf: *A wretched look comes over his face* I fled
Elfhild: *elfhild intently listens to ceolwulf's tale of woe*
Frodo: *When Ceolwulf meets Frodo's eyes again, he finds only compassion in them*
Ceolwulf: I spurred my horse and fled. I am a coward. There is no honor now on my house. When I go to meet my fathers, they will look upon me with scorn
Ceolwulf: I put spurs to my horse and did not allow him to stop until he had galloped halfway across the field
Ceolwulf: Then I tried to turn back but failed
Ceolwulf: There were too many. They dragged me down with their halberds
Ceolwulf: I would have died, had not the Rohirrim made a counter charge
Ceolwulf: But I did not ride with them. I lay dazed upon the ground
Ceolwulf: My fathers will look upon me with shame and mark me for a coward
Ceolwulf: After the battle was lost, they sent men upon the field looking for captives to take
Ceolwulf: Though I tried to fight, I was one of the captives that they took that day
Ceolwulf: That is my story
Ceolwulf: The story of a coward
Ceolwulf: But I will stand and look any man in the eye for I was not the only one who fled that day!
Ceolwulf: Many fled with me from the horror from the skies
Ceolwulf: My comrades in captivity say that I was lucky, that I did not suffer from the shadow they cast
Ceolwulf: many died of it, but I did not. Who were the lucky ones and who are not? Better to be dead than captive
Elfhild: *elfhild nods grimly*
Vartang: *Vartang walks past the exausted Sador and the still dancing Arnasa*
Vartang: *He winks at Arnasa as he swaggers past and hopes that she will see his wink in the moonlight*
Frodo: Yes *Frodo says quietly but bitterly* better to be dead than captive
Vartang: *He goes to Frodo's door and opens it, kicking it shut with his heel*
Vartang: *He surveys the whole room disdainfully before sitting in a chair*
Vartang: Wench, bring me wine
Vartang: No... better still, let the slave man bring it *He looks at Ceolwulf sarcastically*
Frodo: *tenses when Vartang enters, then grimaces in pain*
Frodo: *glares at Vartang*
Elfhild: *she looks to vartang and then to ceolwulf, her heart beating a bit faster now*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gets up from his chair, and his look at Vartang is pure hatred*
Ceolwulf: Get it yourself! *he shouts*
Frodo: Ceolwulf, no!
Vartang: *Vartang has a satisfied look upon his face, knowing that he has pressed the Rohirrim soldier too far*
Vartang: *Vartang rises to his feet*
Vartang: The slave man's mouth is big *he says and spits on the floor*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf clenches his fist and moves towards Vartang*
Ceolwulf: Give me a blade! That is all I ask
Frodo: Ceolwulf!
Elfhild: *she, too, wishes for a blade, to show this arrogant easterling the valor of rohan*
Frodo: This won't do any good! Do you want to be whipped, or killed?
Vartang: *He looks arrongantly at Ceolwulf* What does a slave man need with a blade? *he says to him with disgust*
Ceolwulf: A blade, master! That is all I ask. A blade and a few minutes alone with this dog!
Elfhild: *clenches her fists and looks at the two.... the air seems to tingle with electricity*
Frodo: You don't know what they can do to you, Ceolwulf
Frodo: It is not worth it
Vartang: *he laughs coldly at Ceolwulf* A blade! You shall have a blade. *He puts his right hand on the hilt of his sword and draws it forth*
Frodo: HE is not worth it
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf lunges at Vartang, grasping him around the ankles and pulling him down, and knocing the sword out of Vartang's hand*
Frodo: *starts with a cry*
Elfhild: *rushes forward and grabs the sword and holds it at vartang's throat*
Vartang: *Vartang screams* GUARDS!
Elfhild: *presses the sword into his neck a bit further, drawing a small droplet of blood* silence!
Ceolwulf: Nay, maid! Do not endanger yourself! I can take care of this braggard
Vartang: *Vartang moans in pain and grabs his neck*
Frodo: *His heart races and his breathing speeds up, bringing on more coughing. He stares at them in wonder and terror, already hearing their screams in his head*
Elfhild: *keeps the sword still, embedded ever so slightly into the flesh of vartangs neck, dispite his writhing*
Vartang: *He looks up at her with hatred* You will pay for this, wench, and pay dearly!
Elfhild: *looks down at him in disgust* i slayed a few of the orcish rabble that tried to capture me... aye, my mother, sister and i all did.
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf keeps a tight grasp on Vartang's legs*
Ceolwulf: *He smiles up at the maid of Rohan as he sees the sword in her hand*
Frodo: *slowly struggles to sit up* Vartang, you have all called me master and shakh since I came here
Orc Guards: *But soon the orcish guards rush into the room, see what is going on. One of them knocks the blade from Elfhild's hand and slaps her to the floor*
Frodo: Perhaps that means I can truly give orders here. You gave me the title yourself
Elfhild: *cries out as the blade is suddenly knocked from her hand, and falls to the floor when she is roughly slapped down by orcs*
Orc Guards: *The orc guards lay hands on Ceolwulf and Vartang barks out the order* Kill him!
Vartang: Whip him until the flesh falls off his bones!
Vartang: He has dared lay hands upon an officer of Mordor!
Frodo: Guards! Are you going to obey this man or your shakh?
Vartang: *He gets to his feet, brushes his clothes off* Shakh, the scum tried to kill me!
Elfhild: *quickly rises to her feet, and glares at vartang and the orcs*
Frodo: I know. *his voice drips venom* And because of that, I think it is not safe for you to remain here
Frodo: I am the master here, so I will deal with them. But you are not safe here, Vartang. They are a danger to you.
Frodo: You should let the guards escort you away
Vartang: *His eyes narrow to slits* The impertience of the slave man and woman have jeapordized their lives!
Vartang: Shakh, I have much patience
Vartang: Let filth of Rohan die for their insolence
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf fights against his oppressors until they knock him to the floor, plummeting him with their fists and boots*
Frodo: Stop, all of you!
Elfhild: no! *she screams, and rushes to ceolwulf's side, kicking and hitting at the orcs who attack him*
Frodo: *to the guards* I am still master here while I live and I order you to stop
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf finally breaks free from them and wrenches the blade of an orc from his hands and plunges it deep into the orc's arm. The black blood spatters his tunic*
Elfhild: *stands by ceolwulfs side glaring definantly at vartang and the orcs*
Vartang: *screams* KILL HIM!
Frodo: *sinks back to the pillows with a groan. Why must Ceolwulf do every possible thing to endanger himself?*
Vartang: *he turns to Frodo* Shakh, you are master of many things
Vartang: But not master of this man's fate!
Frodo: I am master of this man's fate
Frodo: I am his master, not you
Frodo: The trader gave him not to you but to me
Vartang: *Vartang clenches his fists and looks to Frodo*
Frodo: *he can hardly believe he is saying such words, but uses their logic against them*
Vartang: He has wounded a soldier of Mordor! Shall he go free without a price?
Frodo: Should you not leave that up to the....
Frodo: the...
Frodo: *coughs* Friend of....your lord...to decide?
Vartang: *Vartang's fists are tight as he listens to Frodo's words*
Vartang: *he starts to say* But.... *then thinks better of it* It shall be as the shakh says! *his look is pure hatred*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf lies under the pile of orcs, their fists continiously beating him*
Elfhild: *elfhild, too, wrestles with the orcs*
Orc Guards: *The orcs lash out at her and pull her down too*
Frodo: *once he has Vartang's assent he turns back to the orcs and shouts at them with his last strength* DID I NOT TELL YOU TO STOP!!!
Orc Guards: *Finally the orcs' minds are dragged back to sense and they slowly stop plummeting Ceolwulf and Elfhild*
Orc Guards: *They rise to their feet and bow to Frodo*
Frodo: *he clutches his throat and swoons from the effort, not noticing the orcs*
Elfhild: *lies panting on the floor, bruised and bleeding*
Vartang: *Vartang says slowly through clenched teeth* Lads, the Friend of Sauron is Master here, and I am but his servant *he says sarcastically*
Vartang: Go! Get back to your huts and leave us!
Orc Guards: *The orcs do as they are told, bowing as they go to the door and leave*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf lies unconscious*
Elfhild: *unsteadily sits up and looks upon ceolwulf's prone form. shakes his shoulders gently* ceolwulf..?
Frodo: *slowly regains consciousness. There were orcs, he remembers, many orcs. He is exhausted but he does not think he was beaten this time. Who was it then? He hears Elfhild calling Ceolwulf*
Frodo: *his heart twists at the blood and bruises he sees on them*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf does not hear her for he has been knocked unconscious from the blows of the orcs*
Frodo: Oh no *he sighs*
Ceolwulf: *Slowly he begins to hear someone call his name. He finally looks up from the floor*
Vartang: *Vartang looks at him with contempt* Let the slave man talk!
Frodo: *Vartang is still here! Frodo seethes. He spits out the words* Vartang, leave my sight NOW!
Elfhild: *looks up from ceolwulf and glares at vartang... the skin around her eye beginning to darken and swell*
Vartang: Shakh! I must first deal with your slaves
Frodo: Get out! Now!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf staggers to his feet, wiping blood from his face. He walks over to Vartang, bows in a low mocking bow* Your excellency! *he says, his voice dripping with hatred* You are a puffed up blowfly that feeds upon rotting flesh of good men!
Elfhild: *puts her arm around ceolwulf and helps him walk*
Frodo: I will...*he pauses to gasp for air*...I will deal with them!
Frodo: *shakes his head. Ceolwulf must have a death wish*
Vartang: *Vartang stifles the urge to hit him and silently turns and walks out the door*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf stands there breathing heavily, blood flowing down his face* They will not call me coward again!
Elfhild: *spits out the words* i should have plunged that sword into his neck when i had the chance!
Ceolwulf: Yea, maid, but it would have brought only your death
Frodo: *sinks back into unconsciousness as soon as Vartang leaves, turning white as the sheet*
Ceolwulf: Let the maggot go back to his carrion and his bottle
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, you are indeed a valiant maiden, as are all the maidens of Rohan *He bows to her with a flourish*
Elfhild: *she blushes slightly* aye, when need calls for it, and certainly there was a need. *she surveys his wounds* your wounds should be cleaned and bandaged... *she thinks upon herself a moment* as should mine
Ceolwulf: Nay, maiden, do not bring unnecessary trouble upon yourself
Ceolwulf: *He takes a step towards her and stumbles*
Elfhild: *rushes forward and prevents him from falling further*
Frodo: *opens his eyes and watches them*
Ceolwulf: *He catches himself from falling and stumbles to the chair beside Frodo's bed* I am sorry, Master Frodo. I should not have tried it, but his taunts proved too much
Ceolwulf: *one of his eyes begins to swell*
Frodo: *sorrowfully looks Ceolwulf up and down* You're hurt
Ceolwulf: I will try to be a better.... *he pauses* servant
Frodo: ...worse than I expected
Ceolwulf: though it is difficult for a man of Rohan to be a slave to anyone
Frodo: I do not need a servant, but you may consider yourself a friend if you so desire
Elfhild: *she leaves the room, and comes back shortly with some wet rags and shreds of cloth to use for bandages*
Frodo: *smiles wearily at him*
Frodo: But don't do that again!
Ceolwulf: Then I will trade the name servant for the name of friend
Ceolwulf: And I will not be so foolish as to try that a second time
Frodo: *sighs* Thank you
Frodo: If I have to confront him again....
Frodo: I don't know what will happen
Elfhild: *gingerly washes his wounds and bandages them, not taking heed of her own hurts*
Ceolwulf: *He looks up at her and his eyes smile into hers*
Ceolwulf: Mas- Friend Frodo, you shall not have to confront him again on my sake. I shall keep my words hidden, lest it bring more undue worry to you
Frodo: Thank you. I do not want to see you hurt again, any of you! And I fear I would not survive the next time
Elfhild: *she smiles back at him, and when she is done, she takes a seat beside him, and tends to her own wounds, wincing at the pain a touch brings*
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, can I help you?
Ceolwulf: *He rises from his seat*
Elfhild: *she looks up to him* ah... but i am almost done. still, i thank you for your offer
Frodo: Child, you need to be tended too *he says gently to Elfhild*
Ceolwulf: You need not thank me, Friend Frodo. I acted foolishly
Elfhild: nay, all is well now, save for my hurts to heal.
Elfhild: though perhaps i shall sustain more, should that pig act foolishly in my sight
Ceolwulf: Pig indeed
Ceolwulf: Fit only to drink of the swill
Frodo: Aye. But it would grieve me to see more harm come to you as well, Elfhild. He is not worth causing yourselves so much pain
Ceolwulf: *he looks down at Elfhild* Yours are the hands of a lady, and should not be used as a soldier
Elfhild: *she nods* aye, but when need arises, they must turn to that
Ceolwulf: Aye, sometimes need demands
Ceolwulf: Nay, Friend Frodo, the vermin is worth nothing, but he is a fly that should be swatted
Elfhild: aye, and his filth washed from the surface upon which he landed
Frodo: Of course, but we cannot swat him
Ceolwulf: Someday, mas- Friend, someday
Frodo: *sighs* I hope so
Ceolwulf: His kind will get what they so richly deserve
Frodo: *nods* The Dark Lord should have fallen long ago
Ceolwulf: Now, friend, my purpose is to be your servant, until time come when you no longer need servants
Frodo: *a dark shadow crosses his face, then lightens at Ceolwulf's words*
Ceolwulf: What would you have me do?
Frodo: Thank you, friend *smiles* Only what you have been doing
Elfhild: *she gets up and walks over to frodos bedside* and i am a servant as well.
Frodo: *to Elfhild* I would prefer to change that name for "friend" with all of you
Vartang: *Over at Vartang's cottage, he is in a black fury. He commands the orcs who serve him to bring him wine*
Vartang: *When they are slow, he lashes at them with his tongue*
Frodo: You have all helped me a great deal
Elfhild: *she smiles at frodo* then i shall try to call you by that title
Frodo: *smiles back at her*
Vartang: *Vartang drinks himself into further rage and finally commands that his horse be brought to him*
Vartang: *he mounts his horse, and rides off into the night*
Frodo: I ask no more of you than what you have already been doing for me, though it shames me to ask that much of you. You have worked hard day and night to care for me.
Frodo: *laughs quietly* I think I will sleep most of tomorrow. You should get some rest too!
Vartang: *When at last he arrives at his favorite tavern, he saunters in the door, seeking the eye of every tavern wench who will look*
Frodo: Where is Sador? He should give you some of his medicine to dull your pain
Vartang: *Finally, he drinks himself to a drunken stupor*
Ceolwulf: You ask for Sador? Let me go awaken the deluded fool from his reverie
Ceolwulf: *he goes out, shakes Sador, who wakes from his exhausted sleep mumbling about the Great Eye*
Ceolwulf: Go back into the cottage! Your master might need you
Sador: *Sador walks into the cottage bowing* What does master want?
Ceolwulf: I want none of your medicine, but the great dog has commanded that it be given to Frodo
Frodo: Ceolwulf, it was to be for you and Elfhild
Ceolwulf: I want none of the draught of serpents and scorpions
Frodo: but if you do not want it I understand
Ceolwulf: Master, I will take nothing from these dogs, unless it is forced down my throat
Sador: *Sador protests, saying over and over how his every potion is blessed by the Great Eye*
Sador: *And will be sure to heal every ache, pain and malady known to Middle Earth*
Elfhild: *like ceolwulf, she, too, denies the healing potions and draughts of their enemies*
Sador: *Sador looks at them both with confusion* Do not want good medicine? Sador make you well. Heal all disease
Elfhild: nay, we wish none of it.
Sador: But lady, it taste good. I made it myself
Sador: Drink of Sador's elixir
Elfhild: thank you for your offer, but we do not need it.
Frodo: You are indeed brave, my friends
Sador: *He looks at Frodo with confusion and holds his hands down, palm forward*
Sador: What can Sador do master? They will not drink
Frodo: They will not drink, Sador, it is all right
Sador: *Sador bows repeatedly and leaves*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks over at Frodo* It was not bravery, my friend. It is what any man of Rohan would do
Ceolwulf: *He hesitates* For a friend
Ceolwulf: *He leans over, extending his hand to Frodo*
Frodo: *reaches up and clasps Ceolwulf's hand*
Ceolwulf: *In a gesture of friendship, a handshake*
Frodo: *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's strong, young hand shakes Frodo's and he clenches his forearm*
Ceolwulf: *In a universal gesture of brotherhood*
Ceolwulf: We are friends, until the stars cease to shine and the sun sinks forever into the west
Elfhild: *she smiles, looking to ceolwulf and then down at frodo*
Frodo: *smiles wider and his eyes sparkle at them*
Ceolwulf: *he releases Frodo's arm*
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Elfhild* And we are friends too, with the same bond
Elfhild: aye
Frodo: *he says earnestly to them* Aye, you are. I am honored to call you friends...but there are some things you should know before you swear such a pledge to me.
Frodo: I will tell you later, after we have all rested, of my failure...
Elfhild: *looks to frodo, questions in her eyes*
Frodo: it was far greater than yours, Ceolwulf, greater than you can imagine.
Frodo: I did try my best *his voice breaks*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf rises to his feet* Nay, master, no one could feel worse than a coward that runs from battle and leaves his friends behind
Ceolwulf: *his head bends down in shame*
Ceolwulf: But ma-friend, what did you fail?
Ceolwulf: What guilt can be laid at your door for anything?
Frodo: *Frodo takes his hand when he pauses in shame*
Elfhild: *concern is in her eyes* yes, what happened?
Frodo: Have you heard of the Dark Lord's Ring?
Ceolwulf: *His face turns grim at the name* His ring?
Frodo: *a strange light akin to madness lights his eyes, but another light fights it even as it appears*
Elfhild: *shakes her head* nay, i have not
Ceolwulf: The ring of the demon lord? What do you mean?
Frodo: Tell her, Ceolwulf. I am weary *he closes his eyes but tears seep from the corners*
Frodo: Yes, his Ring of Power
Ceolwulf: The dark lord's ring? Yes, I have heard tales on the journey here
Ceolwulf: How he has it upon his foul hand and wields power immeasurable
Frodo: *nods gravely*
Frodo: Did you hear of anything before that?
Elfhild: *thinks for a moment* i think i recall some of the filth talking about it, but i did not undrestand
Ceolwulf: Hear of it? There are legends, come down through generations
Ceolwulf: But they are legends. The Ring was said to be lost
Frodo: Aye, it was lost
Ceolwulf: And washed to the sea
Frodo: but it was found again
Elfhild: i know naught of the legends... my family lived far from other homesteads, and we traveled little
Ceolwulf: Found again? By whom? How did this come to be?
Frodo: The Dark Lord's power is bound to his Ring, Elfhild. It is....*he shudders* I cannot speak of it
Ceolwulf: *His expression is confused*
Elfhild: *her brow furrows slightly* but how... how did you come to be connected with it?
Ceolwulf: Yes, my friend, how would you come to know of this?
Frodo: It is a strange tale
Frodo: but it came to my uncle. He knew not what it was
Ceolwulf: Then it did not wash to the sea
Frodo: *shakes his head*
Frodo: You heard nothing, then, of a Ringbearer?
Ceolwulf: how could it come to your uncle?
Ceolwulf: Nay
Elfhild: *she shakes her head*
Frodo: Nothing of a halfling who travelled to Mordor to destroy it in Mount Doom where it was forged?
Ceolwulf: I am but a soldier of Rohan. We do not hear of such matters
Ceolwulf: Nay, nothing
Frodo: *nods*
Elfhild: i heard naught of the matter either
Ceolwulf: We left Rohan five days before the battle of Pelennor. We heard nothing on our journey save that what we heard from the Wild Men of Druedain Forest
Elfhild: as i say, my family lived far away from any others, near the eastern border of rohan and gondor
Ceolwulf: We came upon the enemy the day the sun was reborn
Ceolwulf: And after that, there was nothing but the sound of battle, foul cries of the orcs, and then the lashes of the slavemasters as they drove us here
Frodo: *nods to them, sadness crossing his face at their misfortunes*
Elfhild: my father and brother were killed at pelennor. they brought no tidings back concening a ringbearer
Ceolwulf: *He looks at Elfhild with a sympathetic look*
Frodo: Oh, child, I am sorry
Elfhild: *she manages to smile sadly* do not be. they died in honor and glory.
Ceolwulf: Then you know much of sorrow, as do I. What were their names?
Elfhild: ealbald was my brother and eanfrid was my brother
Ceolwulf: *A look comes on his face as though his heart were pierced by an arrow. He staggers and catches himself on Frodo's bedpost* Ealbald and Eanfrid, you say?
Frodo: *looks worriedly to Ceolwulf*
Elfhild: *she nods* tidings were brought back to us after the army was driven back to rohan
Ceolwulf: My lady *he gasps* I knew them. We rode together in the charge
Elfhild: *her eyes widen* you did?
Ceolwulf: Aye *he looks down*
Ceolwulf: I saw them when they fell
Elfhild: *she looks down, fighting tears* my mother, too, is dead. pierced through the stomach by an orcish blade
Frodo: *Frodo reaches out and presses her hand*
Ceolwulf: The Rohirrim have suffered much at the hands of the enemies and they still suffer
Frodo: I am sorry *he repeats*
Elfhild: *she sniffs* aye, we all fought the orcs, my mother, sister and i, but they were too many, too strong. but tell me of my father and brother
Ceolwulf: My lady... *he pauses and looks into her eyes deeply* it will bring you too much grief to know of how they fell
Elfhild: *she manages to smile, though her eyes well up in tears* i heard they died with honor, killing the enemy
Ceolwulf: *he nods to her* Aye, they died valliantly. Your father.... *he hesitates, fearing to bring her pain*
Elfhild: go on *she says gently*
Frodo: *Frodo's hand still lies on top of hers*
Ceolwulf: *He looks her fully in the eye* Your father was pulled from his horse by the orcs and they... *his voice chokes* took his head
Elfhild: *her face turns pale and she staggers and falls back*
Ceolwulf: *he rushes over and catches her by his arm*
Ceolwulf: Lady, I have brought you grief. My sorrow is great
Elfhild: nay. it is the enemy who is at fault, not you *she manages to say*
Ceolwulf: *holds her around the waist and supports her*
Ceolwulf: Are you well, lady?
Elfhild: *she regains her footing* i think so, well enough.
Ceolwulf: Let me take you to a seat
Frodo: No, it is I who am at fault for all of this. If I had fulfilled my quest, none of this would have happened. You would both be back at your homes
Ceolwulf: *He assists her to a nearby chair and helps her down*
Elfhild: *she accepts his assistance and smiles up at him* thank you
Frodo: I am sorry *he says sadly but sincerely to them*
Ceolwulf: My lady, it is your forgiveness I need for bringing you distress
Ceolwulf: I shall speak no more of Pelennor
Elfhild: do not worry yourself over me. my kin died with honor, though their deaths were horrible
Ceolwulf: *He walks back over and takes his seat by Frodo's bed* Not your fault, master
Ceolwulf: There is some strange working of fate to all this
Ceolwulf: Though it was your doom to fail at first
Ceolwulf: but it is not the last, nay until the last word is recorded upon the page of our lives and written on the tapestries of the Valar
Elfhild: *feeling a bit better from the tragic news of the way her father died, she looks to frodo* but you say that this is all your fault. how can this be?
Frodo: If the Dark Lord's Ring had been destroyed, his power would have been broken
Frodo: My uncle found the Ring in his travels and left it to me
Frodo: I took it to Rivendell
Ceolwulf: Only the Weaver can tell what the true tale is of the tapestry of your life
Frodo: with many...adventures along the way
Ceolwulf: but it is not for me to say who is a failure and who is not, for am I not the biggest failure of all?
Elfhild: *listens to frodos tale with interest*
Frodo: of course not
Frodo: *resumes his tale*
Frodo: In Rivendell the Elves decided to send it to Mordor
Frodo: to be destroyed in Mount Doom where it was forged
Frodo: and I volunteered to do it *he says ruefully*
Elfhild: *raises an eyebrow* you were sent to destroy it?
Frodo: Aye
Frodo: They sent eight companions with me
Frodo: All are probably lost by now
Elfhild: but could not its power have been used to advantage of the west?
Frodo: No!
Ceolwulf: *Shakes his head in puzzlement*
Frodo: The Ring is more powerful than any man of the West, no matter how noble
Frodo: *the mad light is returning to his eyes*
Frodo: It is utterly seductive...it weakens even the surest resolve
Elfhild: so it could not have been controlled by anyone save the dark lord? a pity indeed!
Frodo: but it turns their purposes to evil
Frodo: Aye, a great pity!
Frodo: But so the Dark Lord made it
Ceolwulf: *Listens to every word and ponders it*
Frodo: I lost all my companions along the way until only Sam was left with me
Frodo: We made it to Mordor
Frodo: but we were captured
Elfhild: if it were my decision, i would have given it to someone of the west and used it against the enemy, but you say that no one could control it... only the evil one
Frodo: That is right, Elfhild. It would have taken anyone of the west and turned their purposes to ruin
Elfhild: *obviously it proved great folly for the west for the ring to be sent to mordor, she thinks, but says not outloud*
Ceolwulf: *Wonders at Frodo's words*
Ceolwulf: But friend, did you flee and leave your friends to fight all alone?
Frodo: No, I failed and left them all to die and fight against impossible odds
Ceolwulf: How do you know they died? Have you received word of this?
Frodo: No, but Gondor has fallen and Rohan is falling. They could only have fled there
Ceolwulf: Nay, think not that of valliant men. They will stay and fight until the last and not run as do cowards
Ceolwulf: ...as did I
Elfhild: *she nods* the dark lord would have sent his armies to conquer all free people ring or no
Frodo: Aye....*he shakes his head and stares at something invisible* but his power is so great now...it cannot be imagined
Frodo: I have seen him
Elfhild: and how could his great power be wrapped up in a small thing such as a ring?
Frodo: I do not know why he did it, but he chose to create such a tool for himself
Ceolwulf: Because, lady, he put the essence of his evil power and much of himself into the Ring, so the legends say
Ceolwulf: And by doing this, he lessened his inate power, giving much of it into his ring
Elfhild: *ponders this* ah, i see
Ceolwulf: But say on friend. I see the tale is not yet done
Frodo: *tears begin to stream out of the corners of his eyes* He can conquer the stoutest heart, break the strongest resolve, kill the noblest spirit
Frodo: My friend Sam was all these
Ceolwulf: And what was his fate? Do you know of it?
Frodo: Aye *he whispers* I was there
Frodo: His heart was pierced with a morgul blade
Frodo: and he faded from the poison
Ceolwulf: *he looks down* I have heard legends of the foul dark blade
Frodo: Even when he was a wraith he fought it valiantly
Frodo: He even defended me and suffered horribly for it
Elfhild: your friend.... he became a wraith, a ghost?
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: They say it pierces the spirit and binds it to the dark lord
Elfhild: oh! i am so sorry!
Elfhild: *she rises from her seat and rushes to frodo's side, and holds his hand tenderly*
Frodo: Thank you *he smiles sadly at her*
Ceolwulf: Master - friend, I am sorry
Frodo: It must have been so horrible for him *he whispers through his tears*
Elfhild: *she nods sadly* as am i. we have all known great loss
Ceolwulf: And now he is... *his voice hesitates* as they are?
Frodo: Yes
Frodo: He has forgotten everything
Frodo: even me
Ceolwulf: Then you have my pity, master
Frodo: Thank you. You have mine as well
Elfhild: *such strange tales...... of rings of power and magic blades... she is but a humble peasant from the country. but times are strange indeed*
Ceolwulf: Did you then run from him and leave him to his doom?
Frodo: *Frodo looks as though Ceolwulf has just struck him* No!...or, I hope not!...
Ceolwulf: It is no shame, my friend
Ceolwulf: To flee from great evil
Frodo: Most of my imprisonment, they kept me in a cell and I barely saw him
Frodo: They took me out only to torture me
Ceolwulf: *he shakes his head, trying to comprehend things unknowable to him*
Elfhild: *she squeezes his hand gently and looks at him with sadness*
Ceolwulf: My friend, did you want to leave him?
Frodo: The last time I saw him, it was Sam who flogged me. He had no idea what he was doing. He is still there. Of course not, but he was no longer himself.
Ceolwulf: Then your friend does not know what he is doing
Frodo: I miss him...but even if I were to see him again, it would not be him, if you take my meaning.
Frodo: No, he does not, not at all
Ceolwulf: Your tale is indeed a dark one
Ceolwulf: I know your meaning, my friend
Ceolwulf: but do not blame yourself. Yours were not the hands that struck the blow
Elfhild: such horrible fiends they are *she says in a whisper* to inflict such pain
Frodo: Perhaps they can still be broken
Frodo: I hope so
Ceolwulf: Pity your friend, for he is a thrall, as are we
Ceolwulf: A slave
Ceolwulf: but yet a way might be found to set him free? *he asks with a question in his voice*
Frodo: He is more than a slave. He is a powerful spirit now, a servant of the Nazgul, a great lord of the enemy. To destroy the Dark Lord would mean destroying Sam too
Ceolwulf: *he sighs, a long deep sigh*
Ceolwulf: Then it is better if he is destroyed
Frodo: The only way to set him free is to kill him! And even then I don't know if he still has a fëa, or what would happen to it
Ceolwulf: I know naught of these matters. They are beyond my knowledge
Frodo: *He covers his face and weeps softly*
Elfhild: *she nods in agreement*
Ceolwulf: *he rises to his feet* It is better to be dead than to be slaves!
Elfhild: *rubs frodo's shoulder gently*
Ceolwulf: We are captives, same as he, save we live. I know not his fate
Ceolwulf: but perhaps he would thank the man who slew him
Frodo: *shudders with a louder sob at that*
Frodo: *lies back and tries to compose himself*
Ceolwulf: as I would thank the man who freed me from my bondage!
Ceolwulf: for no man should live as a slave
Elfhild: *she looks up at ceolwulf and slowly nods in grim agreement*
Frodo: *wipes his eyes* No, no one should
Frodo: We shall see if our captors let me free you
Frodo: but if I did it here, you would become someone else's slave quickly
Ceolwulf: And should I, by the breaking of whatever unholy ties might bind him, would do it gladly
Ceolwulf: Freedom, master? *He shakes his head* There is no freedom, save death, in Mordor
Frodo: Perhaps someday we will leave Mordor
Ceolwulf: I will be freed only at my death
Ceolwulf: Only by death do we leave
Frodo: I am sorry for you both, truly
Ceolwulf: But let it be death with honor
Frodo: But in my eyes you are not slaves
Frodo: If you still wish it, you are friends.
Ceolwulf: Friend, do not feel pity for me, for I am free in my mind
Ceolwulf: Let me serve you and these slaves
Ceolwulf: and if by my death, I free one of you, let it be
Ceolwulf: and by serving, prove I am worthy
Frodo: I would pray rather, that the Valar would bring us all to a happier fate, a fate we were meant to have, not one enforced on us by dark powers.
Ceolwulf: Friend, we are many miles from home, surrounded by enemies
Frodo: But there is more than one of us
Frodo: That gives me great hope
Ceolwulf: Our hopes are few. The days are dark
Ceolwulf: but I vow before you both that by my hand shall Vartang die!
Elfhild: *her eyes narrow slightly* and if i had been born a man, i would have fought on the fields of war as well, and slain as many of his kind as i could and helped rid the world of such filth
Frodo: *Frodo grows solemn* You promised not to risk hurt to yourself and the others anymore, Ceolwulf
Ceolwulf: Friend, my promise... I stake my life upon a promise
Ceolwulf: But not now. I will stay my hand, and should the moment come I will take it
Frodo: Good.
Ceolwulf: Think no more of it, my friend. My oath is strong
Frodo: *smiles warmly at them*

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