February 7, 3020

On November 11, under threat of torture to his wife, Lilandra, Aldir gave a confession of his duplicity in aiding Vardamir to escape, and then with Vardamir to assist in the escape of Ceolwulf. Eleven orcs were killed in the fighting at Osgiliath. Vartang determined that a confession was sufficient evidence and that no trial was needed. Therefore, he condemned Aldir to work with the labor force building roads in Minas Artano and around the Temple.

Since that date, Frodo has repeatedly gone to the Citadel and pled that Aldir and Lilandra be released, but each time he has been denied, told to come back in a month, and if King Varyon I, King of Forogondor, the Northern Province of West Mordor, and Lord High Governor of Minas Artano, found sufficient reason, he would hear the case. No such grounds have as yet been found by Varyon.

This day, February 7th, 3020, King Varyon sits in the Citadel working on important affairs of state and discussing matters with his brother and his lords.

Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
King Varyon portrayed by Eowyn
Vartang and Narrator portrayed by Wraith

King Varyon: Which wine do you think is of better quality, brother... that of Dorwinion, or that of Nurn?
Vartang: Dorwinion is much to my liking, although Nurn is quite light and refreshing
King Varyon: I like both varieties myself, though at different times. Different moods call for different wines, I always say.
Vartang: That is quite true, brother. If the meal is light, perhaps one should choose Nurn, but if the meal is heavier, I think a more robust wine like Dorwinion is better
King Varyon: A very good philosophy, brother; the different wines would help digest different foods, and aid in balancing the humors of the body.
Vartang: Correct, brother *he says as a servant brings him a goblet filled with Dorwinion wine*
Frodo: *Swathed in a hooded black cloak, Frodo almost resembles a small wraith as he hurries through the snowy streets of Minas Artano, up the levels until he reaches the King's House*
Vartang: Brother, after we have finished these papers filled with weighty matters of state, what entertainments do you have planned for us tonight?
Frodo: *This is the appointed day of his petition for Aldir and Lilandra. Every month Frodo has begged for their release, sometimes even two or three times a month.*
Frodo: *Frodo expects to be refused again...but there is always the hope that things will be different this time, he tells himself, not really believing it.*
King Varyon: Minstrels and dancers aplenty, brother. I daresay that the talents of some of the lovely maidens are almost equal to those of the Dancers of the Moon.
Frodo: *What else can he do, though, but continue to plead for Aldir and Lilandra? He cannot go on a mad rescue attempt of his own. This is all he can do.*
Vartang: Nay, brother! None could be compared to the Maidens of the Moon. I have seen them in their superlative dances and you have not *He says as he takes a hefty gulp of his goblet*
Frodo: *He sighs as he once again walks down the long halls of the King's House*
King Varyon: Alas, but I was not so lucky as you to see them dance before the Nine in the city of Minas Morgul.
Frodo: *The guards let him into the throne room and he bows curtly from the waist.*
King Varyon: *He thinks: That accursed Shire rat is back, come to bother me again. He smiles a feigned smile of warmth* Greetings, Shakh Baggins. What brings you to the Citadel today?
Vartang: *Looks at the Hobbit and curses out loud* Urk! Why are you here?
Frodo: *Frodo's smile is just as feigned as he looks from Varyon to Vartang*
Vartang: *A scribe walks up to Vartang, whispering in his ear.* The Halfling has an appointment here today. It is right here on the calendar
Frodo: Your Majesty and Shakh Vartang, I come to ask for the release of my servants Aldir and Lilandra from their punishments.
King Varyon: *Deciding to have a little fun with the halfling, he says* Which slaves are those? There are many in Forogondor, you know. I cannot afford to spend all my time concerned with their fates.
Vartang: Nay, brother, you have matters far too important to which you must attend, and you need not be bothered by the lives of two trifling slaves.
Frodo: *Frodo fails to stop an eyebrow from arching in frustration and annoyance. Quickly he pulls his face into another smile*
Frodo: Why, Your Majesty, they are the servants whom the Shakh Vartang interrogated last November.
King Varyon: *Varyon lifts both hands and waves them about before him* Maugoth Vartang interrogates so many slaves... do you expect us to keep track of them?
Frodo: These were thought to be involved in the escape of my servant Vardamir.
King Varyon: Oh, you mean the slaves Aldir and Lilandra. What about them?
Vartang: Brother, I think you have spent more than enough time with this today. Dismiss him!
Frodo: *falls to his knees, a familiar but infuriating position* Your Majesty, I beg you to reconsider their case.
Frodo: After all, it has been almost three months now. Even the Dark Lord confined his disciplines for me to three months.
King Varyon: You are the servant of the Dark Lord. Aldir and Lilandra are slaves, and their sentences will remain the same.
Frodo: *"I am not the servant of the Dark Lord!" He wants to shout it, but bites his tongue.*
Vartang: Now dismiss him, brother, and let him weary you no more
King Varyon: Aye, the halfling can be most vexing at times with his endless pleas.
Frodo: Your Majesty, Aldir's constitution is such that he will wear out quickly in hard labor
Frodo: He will be much more useful back in my household and Lilandra is no good to anyone shut up in prison.
Vartang: Your Majesty, the man looks stout enough to me. We should be able to get ten or fifteen years out of him until he dies
King Varyon: *He looks down at the halfling* Maugoth Vartang is a wise man, and he speaks well. You do not know as much about your slaves' constitutions as you would think.
Frodo: *rises and smooths his hands over his cloak, letting out a long sigh. What else can he do?*
Vartang: Next time, Friend of Sauron, have better reasons for imploring us to release him
Frodo: *Frodo's hatred for Vartang has tripled since the interrogation. The hobbit's eyes automatically narrow at the vile snake of a man*
King Varyon: Come back in a month. Maybe I will reconsider their cases then.
Vartang: Nay, brother, he cannot come back in a month!
Frodo: What?
King Varyon: Why not? The celebrations do not begin until the 15th, and this will be before that date, so he cannot vex us then.
Vartang: Brother, have you forgotten! *he says and then takes a drink from his goblet*
Vartang: Save for only the most urgent matters, your court will not meet until after March 25.
Frodo: *listens intently, fingering the folds of his cloak*
King Varyon: Oh, yes, yes, I almost forgot. The matter of the Shakh's slaves is not a pressing one and it can wait.
Vartang: Nay, it is not a pressing matter in any way. During the day.... you will be occupied with our.... guests
King Varyon: Indeed. I know. Perhaps the Shakh should come near the end of the month.
Frodo: Wait...what is on the 15th? And what is on the 25th?
Frodo: *Oh no, not again, please not again! Every upheaval results in horror and destruction. There is hardly anyone left for them to destroy this time! he thinks desperately*
Vartang: Have you forgotten, brother, all the planning that is involved to entertain our honored guests?
King Varyon: No, no, of course not. There will be no time to talk to the Shakh until at least the end of March.
Vartang: I am sure, brother, that they will want to see you at least once on a day before the 15th
King Varyon: Yes, I would assume so.
Vartang: You know how they are; they will come in, unexpected as they always do, and will want to talk to us in private, as they always do
Frodo: Oh....are.....are they coming back? *his face softens* Elfhild and Elffled, and Arnasa?
Vartang: Great Friend of Sauron, what are you muttering about a few slaves now?
Frodo: *Frodo's hood falls to his shoulders as he moves impulsively towards the throne* Who are they? Are the girls coming back from Minas Morgul?!
Vartang: *Vartang throws his head back and laughs sardonically*
King Varyon: *Varyon chuckles and looks to Vartang* Indeed, brother, he is quite amusing, the Dark Lord's jester!
Frodo: *Frodo masters his agitation, remembering that it is exactly what these fiends want to see. He assumes an expressionless mask, pulling his hood back up*
Vartang: Aye, he must have brought much merriment to the Master when he was in Lugburz. He says the most amazing things!
Frodo: *bites the insides of his cheeks and waits patiently*
Vartang: Great Friend of Sauron, are you demanding of me, a general in the army, and the Steward of Forogondor, to discuss with you three inconsequential slave women? That is too humorous *he laughs again*
Vartang: Aye, indeed, brother, he is the Master's jester!
Frodo: *humbly* Yes, but perhaps in your greatness you will deign to humor my request *oh Valar strike me down right now...or better, strike them down.*
Vartang: *looks at Frodo like a snake looking at the quivering prey in front of it and takes another hefty drink from his goblet* Yes, Dorwinion is often best.
King Varyon: I was just thinking that, brother. *he, too, takes a hefty drink from his goblet and thinks, the halfling's slaves all must be winebibbers, driven to drink by his endless whining!*
Frodo: Your Majesty *he tries again* what would you consider sufficient reason to review their case?
King Varyon: Your three slave women, or your other slave woman and her husband?
Vartang: Brother, it is past time you dismissed him. He is no longer amusing.
Frodo: Both of the cases *inclines his head submissively*
Vartang: *He motions to a servant to fill his goblet*
King Varyon: *The king yawns loudly, then stretches in the chair, groaning. Repositioning himself, he replies* One is not in my hands, and I have already told you my decision on the other.
Vartang: Brother, your wisdom is everlasting
Frodo: Then I suppose I must wait another month *he mutters to himself*
Vartang: Yes, sometime after March 25. No, not then. It will take them a while to leave
King Varyon: At the first the 30th, or maybe even longer.
Frodo: *Frodo feels about to burst with curiosity about who "they" are*
Vartang: Friend of Sauron, you do not need to concern yourself about making another entreaty until at least April 7th
King Varyon: Brother, that is even better. I think things would be calmer then.
Frodo: *his shoulders slump in spite of himself*
Vartang: Aye, brother, you know how riotous it will become
King Varyon: Ah yes... *he chuckles, grinning*
Frodo: *How can he make Aldir and Lilandra wait that long?....but there is no other argument he can give that would possibly make sense to Varyon*
Frodo: *Frodo knows the Variags are enjoying taunting him, so he stifles his questions and stands there emotionless.*
Vartang: Now Friend of Sauron, you should be satisfied with our answers to your questions.
Frodo: Thank you for seeing me again *he says mechanically and with another curt bow, he turns and walks down the length of the Citadel*
Vartang: *Vartang looks at his brother and exchanges knowing looks*
King Varyon: Curious, isn't he?
Vartang: Aye, perhaps too curious. The little black-hearted traitor!
King Varyon: Accursed son of rats... may his end be an evil one!
Vartang: Aye, brother, aye *then he drinks from his goblet and laughs, a deep menacing laugh*
Vartang: Brother, I think I and my men should make another search of his hall soon, very soon
King Varyon: *A wicked smile slowly curls over Varyon's face* Aye, that would be a good idea. Search it well... perhaps we shall find something of interest.
Frodo: *In his anger, Frodo walks briskly through the streets of Minas Artano. He does not notice his surroundings until he reaches a marketplace where many vendors sell their wares. He catches a familiar scent; could it be that someone is selling pipeweed?*
Frodo: *He goes to the booth to investigate. Sure enough, it is pipeweed...much inferior to Longbottom Leaf, but passable. Frodo takes out his coin purse and buys some*
Frodo: *He looks for a spot to smoke, unwatched for once. At the side of the square is a great sculpture of Melkor fighting Fingolfin. Frodo settles in and leans his back against Fingolfin's knees.*
Frodo: *Underneath Melkor's upraised mace, Frodo sits and smokes, uttering heated curses under his breath until his anger subsides. The smokes wreaths the hobbit nestled in the sculpture as though he were engulfed in Melkor's fires. Even Frodo's breath is visible in little puffs on the cold air*
Frodo: *He sits there, deep in thought, until the icy wind penetrates his cloak and makes his shoulder ache. He leaps down from the sculpture's raised platform and reluctantly starts back for Baggins Hall.*

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