May 7, 3020

Since Lilandra and Aldir had been imprisoned by Maugoth Vartang on November 11th, 3019, the little creature had traveled up each level of the city of Minas Artano on the seventh day of every month to beg King Varyon and his Steward Maugoth Vartang for their release. Every month, the halfling's pleas had been unheeded and he had had to turn back sorrowfully and travel back down the four levels to his house.

The day of May 7th would probably be like every other day - he would try and again he would fail - but still the halfling resolved in his mind to journey once more up to the Citadel where King Varyon and the Steward Vartang held court. The line ahead of them was a long one, but it usually was, and Frodo resolved to wait patiently until each ahead of him was seen in his turn. Two guards stood outside the building, and when it would be the turn of the next man in line, he would ask the guard to ask the doorman so that he could be granted admittance. However, each time one of the guards took the request to the doorman, the guard came back and either spoke a few words or nodded his head back and forth in a "no." So far, no one had been granted admittance to the hall since Frodo had been waiting and all had been turned away without being granted entrance.

When it came Frodo's turn, he stood humbly outside the gates to the Tower of Guard and asked the guard to inquire of the doorman if the King and the Steward would speak to him. The guard, who by this time had become accustomed to the monthly pilgrimage and the ensuing disappointments, usually laughed at the halfling, but today the guard must have been feeling ill because his countenance was grim when the usual request was made.

"Wait here," he said curtly, "and I will go inside and inquire of the doorman." It was some time before the guard returned.

Lilandra portrayed by Madurz
Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Guard and Finduilas portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator and Annosh portrayed by Angmar

Guard: *When the guard returns, he looks at the small Halfling before him and asks gruffly* Is your business the same as usual?
Frodo: *Stifling a sigh, Frodo nods to the guard* Yes, to speak to the King about my servants.
Guard: *The guard sighs heavily, feeling much put upon. Then turning, he nods to the other guard and tells him to allow the halfling entry.*
Frodo: *Frodo brightens considerably and actually smiles at the guards*
Guard: *The other guard opens the door for Frodo, glaring at him. His cheer is unwanted and unappreciated.*
Frodo: *meekly walks past the angry guard into the Tower*
Narrator: *Inside the door, the doorman says to Frodo* Be quick with your business!
Frodo: *It will probably be all too quick, Frodo thinks sadly*
Narrator: And I assume that you have no weapons, or should I have you searched?
Frodo: No, I have no weapons. *he holds up his hands to show they are empty*
Narrator: Hmmm... *the doorman looks at him* perhaps a hidden weapon. Guard! Search him!
Frodo: No, really, I don't have any. Vartang doesn't let...
Guard: *Two guards from inside rush upon Frodo and lay hands upon him. Quickly and roughly, they search him, dragging him off his feet and shaking him rudely.*
Guard: We will see about that! *one of the guards exclaims as they rip Frodo's shirt open*
Frodo: Hey!!
Guard: *They drag his coat off his back and turn it upside down, shaking it and feeling the pockets*
Frodo: *He wonders if this is a trick...what if they imprison him again? He stands there disheveled, shaken, and very upset, holding his shirt closed as they search his coat.*
Guard: *The other guard pats down the halfling's trousers and then inspects his foot hair with disgust*
Guard: *The guards look at each other* No hidden weapons. He can pass
Frodo: *He holds out his hand, glaring at them* Can I at least have my coat back?
Guard: *The guard who had been searching Frodo's coat throws it back at him, hitting him in the face with a soft thud*
Narrator: *The doorman yawns and says* He can pass
Frodo: *Frodo sputters as he bends and picks up the coat. He buttons the coat to hide his torn shirt which now hangs open. He walks up to the doorman and silently waits for him to open the door, as these doors are much too heavy for a halfling.*
Guard: *The guards open the door for him, glaring at him suspiciously*
Narrator: When Frodo is ushered into the hall, he sees that the King's Throne and the Steward's Chair are vacant, unoccupied, but a man who looked something like a scribe sits on a stool near the king's chair. A small, portable desk is before him, and on it is an inkwell and a sheath of parchments. He sits writing on another parchment with a quill, and along the walls sit other scribes writing at their desks, tended by servants who, after one scribe is finished rolling a parchment and inserting it in a tube, take the tube and leave the building. Other men stand around the sides of the room, talking in hushed tones and shaking their heads. Although all talk and all business in the hall is conducted with the hush that comes to solemn public buildings, the hall seems charged with unspoken excitement and alarm.
Frodo: *Frodo stops a little way into the hall, wondering is going on. He looks around at all the scribes, the people talking with quiet urgency, but is afraid to ask anyone what is happening.*
Annosh: So you are Shakh Baggins. *the gray haired man said more as a statement of fact than a question.* I am Annosh, Chamberlain of the King. I regret to inform you that Varyon, King of Forogondor, the Northern Province of West Mordor, and Lord High Governor of Minas Artano, left last night with his household and his escort to go to his summer home on the sea. The date of his return is not known.
Frodo: What?! *his palm flies to his forehead. He squeezes his eyes shut and breathes heavily, trying to compose himself* What...why? Why did he go, and without any plans to return?!
Annosh: Shakh, I am sure he will return.... sometime, someday. But you are to deal with me until such a time that he does. The King's Steward Vartang was called to the north... to inspect the troops. Well? *he asks and looks to Frodo*
Frodo: *He feels a great burden lifted and a great worry descend at the same time. Vartang and Varyon are gone! But why? What are they plotting now?* Well...well, have they told you about my servants?
Annosh: Now *he says, looking down at his desk* I have a paper here somewhere that I am supposed to read
Annosh: *He looks over the scroll tubes on his desk and finding one, he takes the end off the tube and shakes out the scroll. He runs his finger under the seal, opening the scroll, and begins to read*
Annosh: "To all those who are concerned in this matter: let it be known that the slave Aldir and his wife Lilandra have been pardoned by order of the military commander at Newburg. The woman is to be released to the care of her master, Shakh Baggins, and the man Aldir will be released as soon as he can be brought from his work party at Osgiliath. Signed, Captain Delath, Military Commander of Newburg."
Annosh: *Annosh looks at Frodo* I shall have the woman brought forth. *He turns and looks at the guard* Go to the Steward's quarters and fetch the woman!
Guard: Right away, my lord. *the guard says, bowing, and leaves the hall.*
Frodo: *Frodo gasps in absolute delight* Oh! Thank you! How...? I don't believe it! *He has to keep himself from jumping up and down for joy. He wrings his hands, rocks on the balls of his feet, and looks where the guard left, torn between worry and joyful expectation*
Annosh: Now *Annosh says, tapping the scroll tube up and down on the desk top* that concludes the matter and you are free to leave at any time, shakh.
Frodo: I'll wait for her to come. I want to take her home! How will I know when to come and fetch Aldir?
Guard: *Soon, the guard returns to the citadel hall with Lilandra, touching her on the arm to guide her.*
Annosh: *Annosh looks down at his papers. Then he dips his quill point into the ink and begins writing again*
Frodo: *Frodo forgets about his question when the guard brings Lilandra in. Frodo feels about to burst. He wants to run up to her, but he feels frozen where he stands. He takes slow steps towards her, wanting to say a million things, not knowing what to say.*
Lilandra: *Lilandra held her breath when she heard the door open as she always did...though she always expected anything...but this time she was taken aback as she saw the guard and was led out with him through paths she did not expect at all to take and she felt a knot in her stomach as she waited with nervous anticipation and then she gasped when she finally saw Frodo standing before her. Her eyes were wide and filled with tears as she looked around in disbelief*
Guard: *The guard guides Lilandra over to where Frodo stands, and then steps away from them, waiting for them to finish speaking.*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes glisten with unshed tears as he walks up to her. He smiles up at her for long, awkward moments, then tenderly touches her arm*....I've come to take you home!
Annosh: *Annosh looks up, almost absentmindedly at them, and then waves them aside* You may leave the hall now. Guards! Open the door for them!
Lilandra: *Her mind races as he says he is to take her home...the tears spill down her cheeks but she says in small voice*.....Aldir?
Frodo: *Frodo shakes his head slowly when Lilandra asks for Aldir* Not yet, but they said he is coming back too!
Lilandra: *She could not believe this was possible...she had almost lost all hope...though she would always despair..this was a sliver of light... she places her hands on Frodo's which rests on her arm and she nods..wanting to leave his place...hoping so much this was the truth about Aldir and that he was safe after all...and well...if possible*
Frodo: *Frodo's lip trembles and his forehead crinkles slightly, but then he takes a deep breath. He takes her hand, smiles reassuringly, and begins to lead her toward the door*
Guard: *The guard who brought Lilandra into the hall looks to her and Frodo, saying* I am to escort you home.
Frodo: *Frodo nods to the guard, then turns to Lilandra* Are you ready? Can you walk that far?
Lilandra: *her heart pounds as she moves towards the door with Frodo..her hand shakes and looks to the guard.....home*
Guard: *The guards standing on either side of the large doors that lead to the citadel open them before Frodo, Lilandra and the guard.*
Lilandra: Frodo...*she sniffs and she places her other hand on her stomach* yes..I can make the walk home. Perhaps slowly though
Guard: *The guard looks Lilandra up and down and sneers* You look stout enough to walk by yourself.
Lilandra: *She looks away almost seeming unaffected by the comment*
Frodo: *He cannot believe that she is really here, that it is really her voice. He looks to her hand on her stomach, where her baby is, then coldly to the guard* She is with child. We must go slowly!
Guard: They do not go slowly when they work in the field. *he says gruffly* Come on now with you. I do not have all day!
Lilandra: *she holds onto Frodo's hand...she has not known a friendly touch save for some of the women who have come to check on her while she was held*
Guard: I am tired of listening to the both of you. Make haste, make haste!
Frodo: *Frodo follows the guard, but does not try to make Lilandra move quickly.*
Guard: Come on, come on, unless you want stay here all night, and whilst you might like my company, I do not like yours!
Frodo: We're going as fast as we can *he snaps at the guard, then touches Lilandra's arm again to gently urge her to go a little faster.*
Lilandra: *She walks at a steady pace..leaving her cell (as she felt it was) filled her with enough motivation to walk with haste*
Guard: *He thinks to himself: "Why did I get this duty, to escort a Tark woman and a dwarf back to their home?!"*
Lilandra: *She rubs her stomach assuring herself and in a way the child that this exertion was worth it for she would be leaving the torment she knew......for now anyway*
Narrator: *The guards hold the doors open for them and Lilandra, Frodo and the guard who is escorting them pass through. Then the guard leads them down the four levels of the city to Baggins' Hall. Upon reaching the hall, the guard commands the doorman to let them enter.* All right, you are back. My duty is done. *The guard says and leaves them.*
Frodo: *Frodo eyes the guard suspiciously, then sighs with relief when he leaves. Looking up at Lilandra, Frodo tries to read her expression...does she need some time, or should he take her to her room?*
Finduilas: *Finduilas hears the commotion at the door and rushes out of the kitchen. Upon entering the hall, she sees Frodo and Lilandra. Her mind goes blank a moment and she stands there, staring. Then she shrieks in surprise and joy, barely believing what her eyes see. She rushes over to Lilandra and hugs her gently* My dear! My dear! You are home at last! *she cries with tears in her eyes*
Lilandra: *Suddenly...when she had forgotten the smells and sights of what she knew as home...they all come back in a rush and she can feel a lump in her throat of emotion... She is hit with relief and a sort of comfort of the things she knew and also a sadness...for she was missing the one thing she needed and thought of most...the arms of Aldir...his secure embrace...*
Lilandra: *But there was the familiar warmth of a woman she did think of while she was away...she she held her tightly and closed her eyes...it was almost strange to her to feel again... she had built up a numbness in her...outside..inside...and with the months she almost willed herself to forget the things that would make her crumble if she dwelt on them too long... safety for the baby....hope for Aldir....but this seemed to be the day when she maybe could let the barrier come down a bit and in the house now...with the smell of bread...and the arms of Finduilas.. Frodo beside them....and knowing she was without her husband still....but that maybe soon, he too would be holding her...she wept*
Finduilas: We were all so worried *she cries, her voice choking up with emotion* we feared you would not return. The winter was very dire and we were so afraid. But here you are, with the master! Oh my dear, my dear! *she gasps, and then whispers* We must get you to your room, so you can rest, for both you and the little one have been through quite an ordeal! *she steps back from her slightly, taking her hand.*
Lilandra: *Lilandra feels a bit weak...exhausted from walk and release of emotion...her hand trembles in Finduilas'*
Frodo: *When Lilandra starts to cry, Frodo bows his head, bites his lip and drops a few silent tears on the ground. He has memories of his own that he tries not to remember, but they come back now... and tell him what Lilandra has been through. His heart just breaks to think of her suffering like that... He cannot help but think of Elfhild, Elffled and Arnasa, still in Minas Morgul...if only they were here, and if Lilandra had her husband, the reunion would be complete... But the unthinkable has happened. Lilandra is back, and she is safe! Perhaps he has succeeded in protecting at least one of his dear friends... He takes his place beside Lilandra, smiling as Finduilas embraces her, ready to follow them into the house.*
Finduilas: You are safe now and there is no more need for fear *Finduilas says as she leads Lilandra towards her room. Ever since Frodo had told her that Lilandra was with child, she had worried constantly about her, for Lilandra.... was helpless and in the hands of cruel and merciless enemies.* A baby, think of that. A little one! *she murmurs softly, to try to distract her friend from thinking about what evils befell her whilst a captive of Vartang* Tis been so long since Anborn and Targon were little.
Finduilas: You are trembling! *concern and worry is in her voice* Here, We are almost to your room... *she opens the door for Lilandra, and guides her inside.* Sit, sit. *she commands gently* How are you feeling? Do you need anything?
Lilandra: *Those who came in to check her and tend to her, said little...emoted nothing...only did their duties. Now she was with a woman she adored very much and felt a bond with even more now... She always respected Finduilas and marveled at how hard she worked and how well she raised her children in such a situation. She envied her for a time as she watched Aldir with her children.. never thinking she would bear her own. And she was glad to have her now when she needed her most. Understanding between women... She sits and she looks over to Frodo then into Finduilas's eyes which are filled with something she has not seen in a while.... genuine concern and care. Her own eyes are glazed over with a dull darkness...hollow...her whole appearance was one of months of distress. She stares deep and long and then says something she could not admit to anyone in some time* I am scared.
Finduilas: *The deep worry upon Finduilas' face is apparent as she hears Lilandra's quiet admission* Oh, no, do not be. *she says comfortingly, squeezing her hand as she stands by her chair* you are safe now. No one will hurt you!
Lilandra: *Lilandra wraps her other arm around her stomach and shudders*
Frodo: *Concern for Lilandra blocks out all other emotions. But Frodo feels strangely out of place. He senses the bond between the two women and feels somewhat of an outsider. What should he say to her? How will he avoid making her even more uncomfortable? He feels a strong responsibility towards her, as towards all of them. He wanted to protect them from the horrors of last year, and since that crisis, he has done all he can to try and repair... the damage, but how can he repair someone's heart? He remembers how she risked her safety and that of her baby to protect him, and he wants to thank her...but that would bring back bad memories, and she should rest now. He almost wishes he were the same height as she is, so his reassurances would be more convincing. He folds his hands over her knee. His expression is one of understanding as he smiles to her.*
Frodo: You don't need to be afraid. We're here now. Whatever you need, we will do. We'll look after you.
Lilandra: *she removes her hand from her belly and places it on Frodo's and her lips curl into a small smile and she says in low, breathy voice* Thank you. I know you both will
Finduilas: *Seeing that Lilandra shudders, Finduilas says* Oh dear, you are cold... *she takes a blanket from the bed and drapes it gently over her lap* This should make you feel better. *She smiles reassuringly* Nay, there is no longer anything to fear. You are safe now, and among friends.
Lilandra: *She holds the blanket around her...her eyes flutter closed after she looks around the room and thinks of the last time Aldir and her were together in it. She opens her eyes and looks to Frodo* Frodo... what exactly was said about Aldir?
Frodo: The King's scribe said that Aldir was pardoned, and that he will be released from his work in two days.
Lilandra: *She emits an exhale in relief and shivers still under the blanket from anticipation and places her hand to her mouth* Oh! *her eyes fill again. Could it be real? In two days she will be in his arms again?!*
Finduilas: Oh, that is wonderful! *Finduilas cries, squeezing Lilandra's hand gently* Soon he will return to you! But - now - let me make you some tea... it will help warm you up and calm your unease. I will not be long.
Lilandra: *she smiles up to Finduilas* Tea would be very good indeed. Thank you Finduilas. I...I have always felt so much comfort around you. I am very happy and grateful that I have you to care for me.... at this time *her voice seems strained and breaks a little*
Finduilas: *Lilandra's words warm her heart and bring a smile to her face* I am glad that I could be of help, and I will help you in any way I can. I will not be long with the tea and will bring it right away! *she says, and leaves the room.*
Frodo: *Left alone with Lilandra, Frodo is overcome with the urge to thank her for protecting him...but he is still afraid to awaken bad memories. He takes her hand and squeezes it... but does not say anything, knowing she can probably guess his meaning through their strange....connection.*
Frodo: *Then he pats her hand and brightens his voice and manner* Perhaps you would like to lie down? You must be very tired, and your little one. *nods toward the bed*
Lilandra: *Lilandra looks over Frodo's face and squeezes his hand...so glad to be among those who mean her no harm. She, now, for the first time beamed with joy of carrying her and Aldir's baby as Frodo and Finduilas referred to it with a sweet tone and a smile....rather than a tool used for threat* I am a bit tired....overwhelmed really at the day's events. After the tea...I hope to find a restful sleep
Frodo: You will, my dear. I think you will sleep better than you have in a long time *his smile widens*
Lilandra: *She thought so too...but the most peaceful sleep will come when it is wrapped up in Aldir's arms*

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