Frodo played by Hobbitness
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian played by Eowyn
Narrator, Ceolwulf and Frodo's Ring played by Wraith

Narrator: *It is the night of August 23rd and Frodo lies sleeping upon his bed in Baggins' Hall. His servant Ceolwulf sits dozing in a chair beside him*
Narrator: *Frodo's rest is not a peaceful one, with his sleep coming in fits and spurts between dreams of the Dark Tower*
Narrator: *In his dreams, once again, he can feel himself before Sauron, the Dark Lord. His Eyes burn into Frodo's soul. Frodo begins to perspire in his sleep*
Narrator: *Wild images assail him and he can feel the gaze of the Dark Lord as it brands his shoulder with the insignia of the Great Eye*
Frodo: *Disjointed moments from his long captivity become reality again--the stabbing of Sam, hanging in his cell being tormented by the Nazgul, lying in a haze of pain and hunger...*
Frodo: *The Shire flashes before his eyes, and Pippin in particular, but not as Frodo remembers him. He sees Pippin crying, Pippin in pain, in the grip of the Nazgul*
Frodo: *He sees Merry being crushed by a large mace, over and over, and Legolas and Gimli falling in battle*
Frodo: *Over all the eyes of Sauron blaze, and his laughter turns into fire that burns all to ash*
Frodo: *Frodo sees Aragorn being crowned King of a ravaged realm. Aragorn glares at him with utter hatred.*
Frodo: *Slowly the remaining Western kingdoms are rebuilt--he sees vague images of peaceful homes and marketplaces. But in the East the full horror of Sauron remains, ever growing, and more real than the scenes of peace*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf sits in the chair near Frodo, having his own dreams, but they are far more peaceful than Frodo's. He sees his favorite horse when it was first foaled and how its mother licked it dry as he watched*
Ceolwulf: *He thinks of halter breaking it, teaching it to be led, and how soon it followed him around with no halter. He remembered how the colt nudged him for apples*
Frodo: *The eyes of Sauron lock Frodo's gaze, mesmerizing him, pinning him there with terror, and threatening to burn away his soul as the morgul poison almost did. Sauron extends his hand with the Ring*
Ceolwulf: *And how when the stallion was two years old, he trained it to the saddle and bridle and soon it bore him proudly into battle*
Frodo: *And Frodo hears its siren song once again, almost imagines he has it again, listens to its promises and feels its might...but then Sauron laughs*
Ceolwulf: *He moves a bit in his sleep as he dreams of the battles with the orcs, the Fords of Isen, when brave Theodred was slain... but in his mind, Theodred is still alive, talking to him. He hails Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *Still asleep, he says softly out loud* Theodred, hail, King's Son!
Ceolwulf: *The dream is suddenly broken off. Ceolwulf awakens to find that his eyes are moist. He rubs his eyes, and tries to remember the dream, but he cannot*
Frodo: *In Frodo's dream, Sauron's laugh is cut off by a deafening Nazgul screech, but when he looks for its source he sees Sam's frightened face*
Ceolwulf: *He yawns and stretches, then tries to settle back in the chair. He looks at Frodo and in the light of the candle by Frodo's bed, he sees that Frodo is perspiring*
Frodo: Sam! *Frodo yells suddenly, sitting bolt upright*
Frodo: *His wide eyes dart wildly around the room*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf is instantly on his feet and rushes over to the bed* Frodo! Are you all right? You have had a bad dream, I think
Ceolwulf: *He takes a hankerchief and wipes off Frodo's brow* You are very warm!
Frodo: *He looks confused at first, then realizes where he is* Ceolwulf *he sighs*
Frodo: Am I? *asks absently*
Ceolwulf: Perhaps some wine?
Ceolwulf: Yes, you are quite warm. Your face is flushed. Do you want some wine?
Frodo: I did have a bad dream, I admit. *he is still breathing heavily*
Ceolwulf: Perhaps you would rather have some cool water drawn from one of the wells here, one of which is in the kitchen? I can summon one of the servant maids
Frodo: All right, thank you
Ceolwulf: Ah, but then you have never been to the kitchen *he grins to Frodo*
Frodo: *attempts to return the smile* No, I suppose I haven't
Ceolwulf: *He walks to the door, opens it, tells the guard outside to summon one of the maids with a goblet of freshly drawn water*
Ceolwulf: *He shuts the door and waits until the guard goes to the kitchen with the message*
Frodo: *His panting has subsided to shivering. He folds his arms around himself*
Frodo: *It was only a dream, he tells himself.*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf turns back to the bed and sees Frodo shivering. He pulls the blanket up around him*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, indeed I am perplexed. I do not know whether to give you wine or water with your medicine
Frodo: *No, it wasn't, his mind protests. Those things really happened, I know it. And soon it will be real again*
Frodo: Oh, Ceolwulf, this is not that malady. Don't go to any trouble. It does not matter
Ceolwulf: *He stands there looking confused, perplexed, as to whether to give Frodo wine to warm him up, or water to cool him off*
Ceolwulf: I am more concerned, Master Frodo, to give you your medicine, for you have a fever
Frodo: I do? *feels his own forehead* Ah, so I do.
Frodo: Well, thank you, Ceolwulf, it does not matter, either one. *he lies back down*
Elfhild: *there is a servant on call at all hours to answer any request from frodo.... tonight, it is elfhild's turn. the guard comes to the kitchen, and informs her that frodo requests a goblet of water...*
Ceolwulf: I think, Master Frodo, I will temper them both, by giving you wine mixed with water. Neither one will be a shock to your system this way
Frodo: *nods with a small smile to Ceolwulf*
Elfhild: *she goes to the well in the kitchen, takes the bucket, attached to a rope and frame, lowers it into the well. the bucket has some water remaining in it to give it ballast, to make it sink...*
Frodo: *As soon as Ceolwulf's back is turned, Frodo allows his immense sadness to creep into his face. How long before he never sees Ceolwulf again?*
Frodo: *And Pippin, how could he dream of Pippin? He will not see him either*
Elfhild: *she feels a tug as the bucket goes down the well, then it sinks under the water. when she feels it is filled, she turns the crank to draw the water back up. she then pours the water into a waiting pitcher*
Frodo: *And Merry! What a horrid dream that was! Is Merry dead? Frodo draws a sharp breath and prays it is not true*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, they were dreams, nothing but dreams. You should pay no heed to them
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf, they were more than just dreams
Frodo: Some of it has already happened
Frodo: Some of it will happen
Elfhild: *she puts the pitcher on a tray, and two clean goblets. she brings them back to frodos room... nodding to the guard, she holds the tray aloft by one hand, and opens the door with the other*
Frodo: Some I am not sure...only the Valar know
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, if we paid attention to every dream that we had, we would soon get nothing done except worry about them!
Elfhild: *she smiles to frodo and ceolwulf* hello, my lord, and ceolwulf. *places the tray down on the table near frodos bed*
Ceolwulf: *He bows to Elfhild, then he says* Please, if you will, mix half a goblet of the wine from the bottle over there *points to the table* and the other half with water. Not too full though. I must mix the medicine
Frodo: Do you really expect me to forget? To pretend nothing happened, nothing is going to happen, everything is fine, we are not all here imprisoned in this horrid place, and that I am not go---- *cuts himself off*
Frodo: *sighs* I am sorry, Ceolwulf, I did not mean to be short with you.
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, it is nothing. I do not take offense at everything that is said to me
Frodo: *nods and smiles to Elfhild* Thank you
Elfhild: *she nods to ceolwulf...gets the bottle of wine, pours some into the goblet, then water from the pitcher, not too much, to allow room for the medicine. she hands the goblet to ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: *He goes to the shelf where the medicine is kept, takes it down, pours some of into the goblet, and mixes it with a stirring spoon. Then he takes it and hands it to Frodo* Now drink this, I know it tastes like water from a swamp, but you must drink it. *He smiles at Frodo*
Elfhild: *elfhild remains beside the table, lingering.... for kitchen-work is indeed boring and hard on the feet*
Ceolwulf: It smells foul enough, like vapors from a swamp filled with dying plants and old tree stumps. Ach!
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, sit down, rest a while, unless they need you straight away back at the kitchen
Elfhild: *she smiles, and says softly* i certainly hope not... thank you. *she goes to her usual bench and sits down*
Frodo: *Frodo smiles at Ceolwulf's jests, then begins to drink the mixture. Immediately his face puckers in a grimace*
Ceolwulf: *Watches sympathetically while he drinks it*
Frodo: It DOES taste like it came straight from a swamp!
Ceolwulf: Who knows where it came from, or what is in it? *waits until Frodo finishes his goblet, then takes it from him and puts it on the table*
Frodo: Ugh, I don't want to think about what is in it!
Elfhild: *at least she doesn't do as much kitchen-work as she once did. twas always embarassing when she burst out in uncontrolable crying from cutting so many onions for the large household*
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, when you can, please take the goblets that were reused during the night back to the kitchen so they can be washed
Elfhild: *she nods* yes, sir.
Frodo: *Frodo is calmer now, happy that Ceolwulf and Elfhild are here. But he is pale, and his brow is faintly creased, and his breathing is still uneven.*
Ceolwulf: *Content that Frodo has had his medicine, Ceolwulf sits in his chair again*
Ceolwulf: You must wait until the medicine has a chance to work its way. It always helps, so far anyway
Frodo: *He cannot shake the terror that has gripped him ever since he found out he is going back to the Dark Tower*
Frodo: Yes, it does help.
Elfhild: *she looks at frodo's palid face, and any attempts to pretend that life is calm and peaceful are broken.... if the hobytla dies, then.... who knows what evil will befall her and them all*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, tell me about your dream
Frodo: *sighs softly* It was about the Dark Lord
Frodo: and what happened when I was his prisoner.
Ceolwulf: Then it sounds more like a nightmare than a dream
Frodo: *nods* Yes, a nightmare. I'm used to nightmares, but this one seemed worse than usual
Frodo: I almost feel as though I am still in it
Elfhild: *she shudders at the mention of "dark lord"... how all those in the west feared the evil land, and dared not say its name out loud*
Frodo: Has that ever happened to you?
Ceolwulf: That is the way with dreams. You think you are really in them until you wake up, and then you wonder if you really were *a sad look comes over his face*
Frodo: *furrows his brow in concern at Ceolwulf's sad look*
Ceolwulf: Yes, I dreamed just tonight that I was back at the Fords of Isen, in the battle with Saruman's orcs back in March, early this year
Elfhild: *she looks to ceolwulf* you were in that battle, one of the first attacks upon rohan this year?
Frodo: *awed look* You fought Saruman's orcs?
Ceolwulf: Aye, Master Frodo and Elfhild, that I was. We tried to hold the fords, but the outcome was most disasterous
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo* Aye, that I was
Ceolwulf: It was a mistake to attempt to hold them in the first place! We should have fallen back to the Deep and not wasted men in useless combat at the Fords
Ceolwulf: There fell Theodred, son of the King. Luckless man that I am to have seen both father and son fall in battle!
Elfhild: indeed *she says softly* a grevious fate
Frodo: I am sorry
Ceolwulf: In my dream, I saw Theodred, just as he was, the last time, wounded, with a comrade standing over him to guard him. He hailed me and just as I reached my hand out to aid him....
Ceolwulf: *he looks away*
Frodo: *Frodo looks at him sympathetically, unsure what to do*
Elfhild: *she listens with sadness as ceolwulf recounts saurman's first attack upon rohan... how much had their people suffered!*
Ceolwulf: We fought off the orcs that slew him, then we mounded the dirt upon his body and placed his standard upon the apex of the mound. We had not time to take him back
Frodo: A sad tale indeed
Frodo: It must be terrible to be in such a battle
Ceolwulf: It is terrible to see your comrades fall, but battle itself, I do not quail before it
Frodo: *nods*
Frodo: There was a time when I wished to fight for the Shire but I do not think it will be my part to strike any blow again.
Ceolwulf: Then, with what men we had remaining and what horse herds that we were able to salvage, we retreated in good order to the Deep
Elfhild: *she enjoys hearing tales of battle, whether they be tales of sadness or tales of triumph. she is reminded of listening to her father, and the male members of her family, sit around the brazier in the center of their house and tell stories of the mark, and the old country up north.*
Ceolwulf: But your dream was not of battle. Perhaps yours is more terrifying than mine
Frodo: Perhaps, but perhaps not
Ceolwulf: But Master Frodo, do not think that all honor lies in being in battle and in doing great deeds. Sometimes small acts of courage can be the greatest of all. For there are many to see a battle, but sometimes the gravest battles of all are fought when you are all alone and far from friends
Elfhild: *elfhild silently nods in agreement*
Frodo: *He is reminded of the Council of Elrond, and of Sam's insistence on coming with him on his solitary journey, and of the long trek through Mordor...of Sam rescuing him from Cirith Ungol*
Frodo: *He seems very touched but says nothing*
Ceolwulf: And if you fall on the battle, at least some of your friends will go home and tell about it, and your name will be praised. But few there are to tell of the secret battles of the soul
Frodo: *He nods in fervent agreement*
Frodo: Do you speak from experience?
Elfhild: *as they talk, she looks at the candle upon the table, its flickering flame illuminating a small part of the darkness with a soft amber glow. she is hit with a profound sense of homesickness and loss*
Frodo: Have you an unlauded act of courage, like the ones of which you spoke?
Ceolwulf: I can speak from experience of battles. I can tell of the exhultations of hearing the captain cry out "Forth Eorlingas!"
Ceolwulf: But battles of the soul? Aye, I know of them.... now...
Ceolwulf: I know of things that would seem of little import to many but which to some of us brought shame and disgrace
Frodo: You have been very quiet since you came here--both of you, actually. You have never spoken of yourselves
Elfhild: *their words mix into each other, a soft, musical sound of sadness. the candle becomes hazy... suddenly, she is back in her house, in the cold months of winter, with her father and brother once again*
Elfhild: *but then the vision changes, and she is back in nurn, an orphaned slave. but at least she had that second... alas, if it was only possible to turn back time and go into the past..*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, there are some things of which it is best not to speak
Frodo: *He sees the grief on Elfhild's face and feels great sadness for her and Ceolwulf*
Frodo: *nods to Ceolwulf* Yes, that is true
Elfhild: *she turns her attention back to frodo and ceolwulf, and wonders if she missed anything*
Ceolwulf: *Under his breath, he says in Rohirric....* I have no dignity left, for they have shorn my hair and my beard, and this is a grevious thing to bear. *Elfhild can understand his words*
Ceolwulf: *A look of unbearable shame comes over his face*
Elfhild: *she looks to ceolwulf* i am sorry... *she says softly in rohirric*
Frodo: *Frodo looks even more concerned at Ceolwulf's distress*
Elfhild: *she feels pity for him, pity for herself. but the old embers of resentment flare up. she says under her breath in rohirric...* foul fiends, every last one of them.
Frodo: *Then he sits up* Ceolwulf, every moment of your life here has been one of the unlauded acts of courage that is greater than battle heroics. Yours, too, Elfhild
Frodo: You need not feel any shame.
Ceolwulf: *He replies back in Rohirric.* Someday, someday....
Ceolwulf: *He says in Common* Master Frodo, do not credit me with heroism, for I have none
Frodo: Do not lie to yourself, for you have much
Elfhild: *her eyes catch ceolwulfs, and suddenly there is understanding. her eyes darken and narrow, and she nods*
Frodo: *watches the silent exchange, wondering what it means*
Frodo: You saved my life
Ceolwulf: *His next words are said patiently, as though explaining something to a child* Master Frodo, I was a coward in the midst of battle and I ran. I abandoned my king to his fate!
Ceolwulf: And I, a King's Knight, there is no greater disgrace than that!
Frodo: But consider what you ran from.
Frodo: I have a feeling I know what it was
Elfhild: *she looks down at her hands upon her lap, resting upon the stained apron. indeed, cowardness was a shame*
Frodo: and I believe I have fled from him as well, or tried to
Ceolwulf: Perhaps my fate now is just and I am being punished for my act of cowardice
Frodo: *shakes his head*
Frodo: None of this is just
Ceolwulf: Perhaps I no longer deserve to have a beard and the hair of my people
Elfhild: *she does not know what to say, for she fears she would bring further shame and embarassment to ceolwulf. for, she, a woman, fought the orcs that attacked her family's homestead, until the very last*
Frodo: *matches Ceolwulf's patient demeanor* Do not blame this on yourself. Remember, I have already told you, and you heard the ranger say this is because I failed my mission and gave the Dark Lord back his power
Frodo: albeit unwittingly
Ceolwulf: *He begins to feel that Elfhild thinks him a coward and his ruddy face begins to turn red in shame*
Frodo: just as you fled unwittingly
Frodo: The shame here lies with me and no one else!
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I WAS a coward!
Elfhild: *she does not see his face, for at the moment she looks at her apron and her hands*
Frodo: *almost stern now* Ceolwulf, it was the Witch King, was it not? It was the Lord of the Nazgul
Ceolwulf: I could control neither my horse nor my own fears, and if I could have, I would have outraced him to a safe place!
Frodo: He is a powerful sorcerer. I have told you of the spell he put on me when he wounded me
Ceolwulf: It was a dark and fell presence, which came from the sky upon wings of death
Frodo: It must have been a wraith then
Elfhild: *she looks up at this, being frightened of evil spirits*
Frodo: and I would not be surprised if it were him
Frodo: *begins to shiver again*
Frodo: It was only a little thing for him to strike you and your comrades with terror
Frodo: You had no control over it
Ceolwulf: The King's horse had risen up on his hind legs and lashed the air with his forelegs. Then he fell back
Ceolwulf: That was all I saw, and that was when I looked back
Elfhild: *the eorlingas had always been plagued by foes, but it was especially worse if they were of a supernatural nature... fell spirits, dwimmer-gasts*
Ceolwulf: And, I, in my fear, left him to die alone!
Ceolwulf: I am condemned for this!
Frodo: *his eyes widen*
Elfhild: *her gaze drifts back to her lap, for she does not know what to say*
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf *he says quietly but intensely, and shakes his head*
Ceolwulf: So you will hear no tales of heroism from me, for I have none to tell
Ceolwulf: Then, in my wild retreat, I was pulled from my horse. I laid there in a daze and they captured me, and of all else, you know
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: If you would hear tales of heroes, you must talk to them and not to me
Frodo: *reaches out and grasps Ceolwulf's arm, then meets and holds his gaze sternly* Such self torture does no good. You must allow yourself to see good within you.
Frodo: Even if you deny yourself your own respect, you have mine, and I hope that you will allow yourself to realize that you deserve it.
Ceolwulf: *He meets Frodo's gaze* There is no good left in me!
Elfhild: *after contemplating upon words, she finally says* you have an honorable heart, sir. perchance the fear was not something you could master...
Ceolwulf: *He sighs, as though he is a schoolmaster giving lessons to pupils who are slow in learning*
Frodo: *Valar, Ceolwulf! Frodo wants to say. Only one man died because of your "weakness." I have entire kingdoms on my soul. But after many thoughts such as you are thinking...*
Frodo: *...I found that they do no good and are not true, however true they may feel.*
Ceolwulf: Neither of you understand. Neither of you can understand what it means for a soldier to flee a battlefield in the midst of battle
Frodo: Neither do you understand what it means for the Ringbearer to fail his Quest! *vehemently* It is the most grievous fault possible! It is the reason for all this destruction!
Elfhild: *she bites her lip nervously. what to say, what to say?*
Frodo: I have berated myself as you berate yourself now
Frodo: but it only destroys you slowly
Ceolwulf: However, Master Frodo, did you shirk from trying?
Ceolwulf: Did you turn back? Did you run? Did you flee in terror?
Elfhild: *a young woman who stood up against the foes that attacked her home in the midst of two men who are failures.. she wonders at it all*
Frodo: ....no.....but neither did you refrain from trying. You were already a brave soldier, and the Nazgul cast a spell on you.
Ceolwulf: *His sad blue eyes look into Frodo's* There is no excuse for me
Elfhild: *she says softly, hopefully* perhaps it was dwimmercraft, sir...
Ceolwulf: I know naught what it was. All I know was that I ran
Ceolwulf: But aye, Master Frodo, it is as you say. I have learned one thing, that to reflect upon past mistakes does little good
Frodo: *Ceolwulf seems intent on insisting that he is a worthless coward. Frodo is at his wit's end.* I have tried to show you another side to it, but you will not listen to that. What do you want then?
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, your words reminded me of the dreaded Dwimmerdene, a thought which I would rather not think
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I listen, but my own deeds speak louder than do your words
Frodo: *Ceolwulf is forgetting all the times he did not run, Frodo thinks. He remembers putting on the Ring to flee the Witch King, but he did not run from all Nine at Bruinen Ford*
Elfhild: *she shudders* ah! dwimmerdene, the enchanted forest, filled with evil craft and a wicked sorceress.
Ceolwulf: *He exchanges a knowing look with Elfhild, and starts talking excitedly in Rohirric*
Frodo: *Nor did he run from the orcs in Moria or the cave troll. Those acts are not nullified by his terror at the witch king*
Elfhild: *she responds with equal furvor, loving a good tale that sent a shiver down one's spine... and there were many about dwimmerdene*
Ceolwulf: Aye, the evil elfwitch!
Frodo: *No, the other side of him replies, the side connected to his new ring. Your courage was nullified when you lost the Ring. When you became a cowering, grovelling, terrified thrall.*
Elfhild: *in a low voice she says in rohirric* no one goes into her forest and comes out alive.
Frodo: *notices that they are talking in Rohirric, but he understands a few words which sound like Common*
Elfhild: *she remembers telling her little brother that the elfwitch would eat small children who came near her realm*
Frodo: What do you speak of?
Ceolwulf: *He seems to have forgotten about Frodo in his exchange with Elfhild but remembers himself* My appologies, Master Frodo *he says in Common* It is good sometimes to talk with someone from my own country
Ceolwulf: But we forgot our manners. Elfhild, we shall not do it again, shall we?
Elfhild: *she looks to ceolwulf then to frodo* forgive me, lord. it is just sometimes i like to pretend for a moment that i am back home.
Frodo: Why don't you speak of your country in the Common Tongue, then so I can understand?
Ceolwulf: Because it is not our native tongue, Master Frodo. Surely, you understand that. We will in the future, and my appologies for our lapse
Ceolwulf: But you ask of the Forest
Ceolwulf: And the ones who dwell in it
Frodo: *nods*
Elfhild: *in low voice again* an evil witch, they say, who has legions of fays and mighty dwimmercraft at her hands
Ceolwulf: Indeed, she is a terror, they say, but I have seen naught of her
Ceolwulf: Even Eorl the Young feared her!
Elfhild: *nods* and he was the bravest of our people.
Frodo: *becoming more and more interested as they tell the tale*
Frodo: *he is reminded of Bilbo telling him stories of ancient lore and elvish legend*
Frodo: *His eyes begin to sparkle and he leans forward to listen*
Ceolwulf: When he led the Eotheod to the aid of Gondor in 2510 of this age, they had to pass from the north near Dol Goldur
Ceolwulf: There was no other way, for there were orcs in the mountains on the western side of the Anduin, and no roads
Ceolwulf: And a great fear and terror were upon them, for the shadows from the mountain of Dol Golgur were dark and menacing
Ceolwulf: Even brave men quailed at the darkness
Elfhild: *she says slowly, each word pronounced, her voice still low* but some, wanting to look at the dwimmerdene, cast their eyes across the river and beheld a mist coming
Ceolwulf: *He becomes excited and animated again at her words*
Ceolwulf: *He stands up in his excitement* The mist came across the river, and surrounded them!
Ceolwulf: And for three days they rode in its unnatural light
Ceolwulf: And to each side, the shadow was held back!
Elfhild: *she shudders slightly, feeling prickles of cold on her neck and spine*
Elfhild: *though she had heard the story told many times, and in many variations*
Ceolwulf: Then suddenly, after three days, the mist was gone, and they beheld the valley plain, and the forests of Mirkwood were far behind!
Ceolwulf: But Eorl, being a wise man, and still had misgivings. He relied upon the sense of his horse, Fealof, for he knew that Fealof's heart was high and his spirit was bold. The horse was eager to set off and Eorl took courage from his mount
Frodo: *grins, absorbed in the story*
Ceolwulf: But whatever the mist was, they did not know, only that it was some strange dwimmercraft put upon them by the Witch of the Forest
Frodo: How strange!
Elfhild: *she says excitedly* yes! yes! *then her voice becomes low and secretive* they say she is an elfwitch who dresses in shimmering white *shudders*
Frodo: I have never heard of her
Ceolwulf: Aye, aye, it is as you say, Elfhild
Ceolwulf: Some give her a name *his voice becomes low* they say the name of the accursed witch is....
Elfhild: *she exclaims* do not say the name! perhaps it would bring her greater power of evil!
Ceolwulf: *He laughs* What power could the witch hold here in this place? There are enough powers here to sway her course
Ceolwulf: But perhaps she should be with them here for she is evil beyond knowing
Frodo: *wonders if it is Lorien they speak of...the hidden enchanted kingdom, perhaps thought by some to be evil*
Frodo: *perhaps not though*
Ceolwulf: I hesitate to speak the name, for I fear that alone will bring a curse, but we are cursed enough anyway
Ceolwulf: Galadriel *he says, and his voice is a hiss*
Frodo: Oh! *he cries in surprise*
Elfhild: by Bema! *she whispers, shaken*
Frodo: My friends! *he begins to laugh* You need not fear her! She is not evil at all! There is no evil in her. It turns out I have heard of her
Ceolwulf: By Bema, may she never join her darkness with the darkness of this place!
Frodo: I have even met her
Ceolwulf: *he looks increduiously at Frodo* You have seen the witch!
Elfhild: *her eyes widen and she gasps*
Ceolwulf: And by greater stroke of luck, lived to tell it!
Frodo: She is not a witch. She is an Elven queen. Her realm in the forest is secret so as not to mar its beauty
Frodo: The Fellowship passed through her realm on our way to Mordor
Elfhild: but, master, elves are all witches. they are said to be skilled in arts of magic and devilry
Frodo: ....but the Fellowship was broken before we ever reached our destination
Ceolwulf: You looked upon this... this... this.... mirror of evil and lived to speak of it!
Frodo: *incredulous and bemused* Where did you hear that? There is not a bit of truth to it, Elfhild!
Elfhild: *in low voice she says* she put a curse on you! that is why your fellowship was broken
Frodo: No. Our Fellowship was already cursed, by the burden I bore
Ceolwulf: There are many evils in this world, Master Frodo, and not the lesser of which is Dwimmerdene
Frodo: and it drove them apart
Elfhild: *she looks at frodo surprised he does not know* tis common knowledge in the mark, my lord.
Ceolwulf: *Shakes his head in pity* Master Frodo, indeed, if you had been cursed by her, you are truly cursed!
Frodo: Well, Elfhild, I thought so too, before I saw it. You will not convince me that she is evil, now that I have seen her
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf, she did not curse us!
Frodo: She helped us. She gave us all gifts to aid us on our journey
Elfhild: *low voice* i heard that the evil fays there kidnap small children and eat them, my lord.
Ceolwulf: *He becomes excited again* Aye, aye, they eat children!
Frodo: *outraged* Who spreads such terrible lies?
Elfhild: *her eyes widen then narrow slightly* my lord, it is common knowledge! all men know that!
Ceolwulf: All men know of this witch and avoid her forest!
Frodo: To me she gave a phial with the light of the star Earendil. It saved Sam and me when we stood against the great spider Shelob
Ceolwulf: She is evil beyond any thought. There are none more evil, save the Dark Lord
Frodo: *shakes his head* No, no! There is no evil in her
Ceolwulf: And some say that they work together!
Frodo: If men go to her realm and never return, it is because they do not wish to leave for it is so beautiful
Frodo: But they desire it to be kept secret so perhaps I should not have spoken so of it
Elfhild: my lord, she gave you a thing of dwimmercraft. it was probably hexed with evil signs
Ceolwulf: I have known of her name since I was a lad. All of our people know of her deeds but do not like to speak of them
Ceolwulf: So you say she gave you gifts? *he looks disbelievingly*
Ceolwulf: And what were the benefits of these gifts?
Frodo: May the Lady forgive me if she finds out! I hope she will attribute my loose tongue to my illness, if she does hear of my words here
Ceolwulf: She will hear naught of what you speak in this place unless she truly is in league with the Dark Lord
Frodo: *nods sadly*
Ceolwulf: *he looks around* I think sometimes that the walls have ears and that some listen in keyhole to our every word
Frodo: I wish she could hear me, though...how I wish I were still in her realm!
Frodo: *holds up his ring and raises his eyebrows as if to say, here is your keyhole*
Elfhild: perhaps it would be better than this land, though both are wrought with peril and evil.
Elfhild: as for me, i would not step foot in the accursed place, nay, not even a foot within ten leagues of it
Narrator: *Two hours pass by while they talk but engrossed that they are, they are not aware of the passage of time. It is now 3 o'clock in the morning*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf finally sits down in his chair again*
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, the candle burns low. Could you fetch us another?
Frodo: *Frodo is actually enjoying himself. He has not enjoyed himself in...how long has it been?...he cannot remember!*
Elfhild: certainly, sir. *she goes to the cabinet table by frodo's bed and gets out a new candle... taking it out of its holder and lighting it with the other*
Frodo: *He has the feeling that he is forgetting something, however. He tries to remember what it is*
Elfhild: *she snuffs the old candle and replaces it with the new one in the holder, then returns to her bench*
Ceolwulf: Thank you, Elfhild. See, there is still light here *he smiles*
Frodo: *His face falls as she remembers---they are going to take him back to the Dark Tower!*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, if you say that this elf is not a witch, I will believe it, but only because you say it to me
Frodo: *but he brightens again at Ceolwulf's words. How like Sam he is* Yes, there is light even here
Frodo: *smiles*
Elfhild: *mutters* as for me, she is still a witch and the forest is still a place of great evil!
Ceolwulf: *He gives Elfhild an understanding look*
Frodo: *smiles almost pityingly at Elfhild*
Frodo: Well, our tales have been of darkness, battle, and terror
Frodo: but have we not enough of that here?
Ceolwulf: Aye, that we do
Frodo: If you are not too tired, let us tell tales of light
Ceolwulf: Surely there is something of which we can talk that brings more hope?
Frodo: *nods eagerly*
Elfhild: *she had always enjoyed hearing the darker tales of elfwitches and evil spirits, but then she was in the safety of her home with father and brother to protect her...*
Frodo: Tell me of your lives in Rohan, before the war
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, I have told a tale of the Mark, of Eorl the Young, on his way to the Field of Celebrant. Perhaps you can tell us a tale of your home
Frodo: Very well, I will tell a tale of my home, but I would like to hear of yours as well
Ceolwulf: No, Master Frodo, I can talk for hours about the tales of the Mark and the brave deeds of my people
Frodo: But I have never heard those stories before
Ceolwulf: Then what shall it be? A tale of your home or a tale of the Mark?
Frodo: Why not both? But let us have your tale first
Ceolwulf: All I know are the tales of valor of my people
Ceolwulf: I could tell you of the Oath of Cirion and Eorl, but Elfhild, can you tell one of our people?
Elfhild: *she nods* a moment, for i must think of a good one!
Elfhild: *she is silent for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face. then a look of enlightenment comes across her face and she looks to frodo*
Elfhild: ah! i could tell you a tale of the old country, of fram the dragon slayer.
Ceolwulf: Aye, Elfhild! Tis a good one! Tell it, tell it!
Frodo: Ah! Please tell it!
Frodo: It reminds me of my uncle Bilbo, who slew a dragon too!
Frodo: But tell us your tale
Ceolwulf: The telling of tales brings back memories of Medsuled and drinking mead with the King and his knights
Frodo: *listens eagerly*
Elfhild: many long years ago, our people lived to the north, above the forest of mirkwood. the land was wrought with danger, and dragons and fell spirits plagued us.
Ceolwulf: Ah, the dragons, the great evil with their fiery breath reeking of smoke and flame
Elfhild: the dragons came from the gray mountains to the east and attacked our people, then called the eotheod. fram son of frumgar was the chieftan of the people in those dark years
Elfhild: *in a low, dramatic voice she continues* there was a mighty dragon, scatha the wyrm he was called. he had a great horde of stolen treasure, which he guarded. anyone who dared get near it was roasted alive...
Frodo: *gasps as he used to at Bilbo's tales*
Elfhild: treasures of the slain he collected, much gold and jewelry. many brave warriors tried to slay him, but none were successful... all met their doom by his fiery breath
Elfhild: but! *she exclaims, her voice rising* fram son of frumgar took the great wyrm by surprise in his lair, and slayed the devil-spawn!
Elfhild: all of the treasure became his, and he became very rich. *she pauses for breath* however...
Frodo: *is on the verge of crying, "What?"*
Elfhild: *she continues in a low voice* dwarves lived in the gray mountains, as well as great wyrms. an evil lot of people are dwarves, deformed and slight in... *looks to frodo, face turns a bit red*
Elfhild: .....very greedy sorts, they are, and full of treachery. they claimed that part of the treasure of the dragon-horde was theirs
Elfhild: a group of dwarvish brigands came to fram, demanding to have part of the treasure.... perhaps all. they cannot be trusted, as you know
Frodo: That's all right, Elfhild. I'm not a dwarf. My uncle knew many dwarves, though
Elfhild: but fram, being a wise man, would not give them as much as a golden coin.
Ceolwulf: *chuckles at Elfhild's embarassment*
Elfhild: however, he made for the dwarves a great necklace of the great wyrm's teeth, and presented it to the dwarves, and told them that naught could match such a gift in their treasuries for it was gained by much peril. *she pauses again*
Elfhild: but! *her voice gets low once more, and she says heatedly* the dwarves, their hearts consumed with greed and lust for the treasure, slew fram for his words
Frodo: *gasps again*
Elfhild: the memories of our people are long, and we have never forgotten this crime, though it happened many years ago in the old country up north.
Ceolwulf: *Says in a low voice* Dwarves cannot be trusted!
Elfhild: and that is my tale, my lord. *looks to ceolwulf and nods vigorously*
Ceolwulf: *he applauds her* A good tale!
Frodo: *applauds* Very good!
Elfhild: *she gets up and bows, then resumes her seat*
Ceolwulf: It is good to hear the old tales told once more!
Ceolwulf: Perhaps one day to be back in the Golden Hall....
Ceolwulf: But we all have our own "perhaps" do we not, Master Frodo?
Frodo: May the Valar grant it someday! May you return to your Golden Hall, and may I find my cousins and return with them to the Shire!
Ceolwulf: But we cannot live upon "perhaps"
Elfhild: *she looks down and says sadly* i was told that rohan was defeated, and the king now is forced to pay tribute to the dark land
Frodo: What else can we live upon? It is good not to give up hope. Though sometimes....*thinks of his impending trip...pictures the fell beast coming for him and falls eerily silent*
Frodo: Oh, that is horrible. I hope it is not true.
Ceolwulf: A sad day indeed, Elfhild, when our ears must hear news such as that!
Ceolwulf: Who told you of this, or perhaps we can guess?
Elfhild: *looks up* lord.... vartang *she hisses his name* said these words
Frodo: *narrows his eyes* I thought so
Ceolwulf: But do you think it is true?
Frodo: The fiend lies through his teeth. It may not be true.
Frodo: Let us hope it is not
Elfhild: *sighs heavily* my sister and i were captured from our home in the eastfold. if the army of the dark land can get that far... doubtless it is true.
Ceolwulf: Blazes!
Elfhild: though doubtless some still fight, but there is no hope
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, would you like a goblet of water?
Ceolwulf: Though I think it must be tepid by now
Frodo: *chuckles* It's all right. I would like some water, thank you
Ceolwulf: *he gets out of his chair, goes over to the pitcher on the table, waits for Frodo's reply*
Frodo: Why don't you and Elfhild have some too
Ceolwulf: Elfhild, would you care for some water too?
Elfhild: *she nods* yes, sir. my story was quite long *she laughs*
Ceolwulf: I thought perhaps your throat must be dry *he pours two goblets of water, gives the first to Frodo, the second to Elfhild, then goes back and pours himself one. He resumes his seat*
Elfhild: *she takes the goblet of water* thank you *she takes a sip*
Ceolwulf: You are welcome
Frodo: I did not know your people had such tales
Frodo: They are wonderful!
Ceolwulf: They are tales of valor and courage, passed down to us by our foresires
Ceolwulf: And if we shall ever see the Golden Hall, our bards will sing and strum the lute as they tell of the tales and sing the songs of Rohan
Frodo: *smiles wistfully*
Elfhild: *under her breath she mutters darkly* though perhaps now they must sing the songs of the dark land, if vartang's words are true
Frodo: You remind me of the Elvish bards in Rivendell and their songs of incredible beauty
Ceolwulf: Elves? *he says questioningly* Elves?
Frodo: *nods* Yes, Elves!
Ceolwulf: I have never seen an elf!
Elfhild: neither have i, but the stories say they are all skilled in magic. our people do not take too fondly to that. *looks to ceolwulf*
Frodo: When my friends and I started on our journey, we met with a company of elves. They lodged us for the night and gave us advice
Frodo: Then after I was stabbed *gestured to his shoulder*, Lord Elrond of Rivendell healed me and I stayed with the elves there for a long while
Frodo: That was where the Fellowship was formed
Ceolwulf: And *he says pensively* I am not sure that I ever want to see one!
Ceolwulf: They are strange indeed, practiced in dark craft
Frodo: They are other-worldly but their magic is pure and beautiful...it is like realizing things you didn't know were true
Frodo: and they are wonderful, beautiful things! *becoming animated*
Ceolwulf: The Rohirrim are grounded in this world and give little thought to other worlds, save for the Halls of our Fathers, where our spirits go when they leave our bodies
Frodo: Ah, but there is another world, across the Sea.
Elfhild: *she nods* aye, we shun the strange ways of elves, a queer lot they are
Ceolwulf: I shall be content enough if I am granted entry to the Halls of my Fathers. I have no need to go to strange places
Frodo: *feels pity for the people of Rohan who know nothing of the beauty and magic of elves*
Ceolwulf: Though *his face becomes thoughtful* I had a strange dream when I was wounded... *His voice breaks off*
Frodo: I was just thinking of that too *smiles*
Ceolwulf: Ah, this is a night of dreams!
Frodo: *tries not to remember his dreams this night*
Elfhild: *she has enjoyed this night of talk and tales with frodo and ceolwulf - if she tries hard, for a moment she is back home on her family's little farm... she thinks of the nearby village of Grenefeld.... and the young smith whom she fancied....*
Ceolwulf: But now, Master Frodo, tell us a tale of the Shire
Ceolwulf: And let us talk no more of dark dreams
Elfhild: if there is another tale to be told, let me go fetch us something to eat.
Frodo: Thank you!
Frodo: *his appetite is coming back too, hobbitlike. What a marvel these two are.*
Elfhild: *she gets off the bench, bows, and goes to the kitchen. she prepares a tray of food and brings a bottle of wine... as well as elffled and rian*
Ceolwulf: Something to eat would be good right now, for it looks like we will get no more rest tonight *he laughs*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *soon, the three girls enter the room. elfhild puts the tray on the table by frodos bed. she then hands a plate of cheese and bread to frodo, then walks over to ceolwulf and hands him another plate*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild smiles to frodo and ceolwulf* all of us like a good tale *then the three go to the bench and sit down*
Ceolwulf: Thank you, Lady, for your kindness
Frodo: *grins broadly when the other girls enter*
Frodo: *thanks Elfhild as she hands him the plate*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild smiles* a pleasure. would you like some more wine, my lord and ceolwulf?
Frodo: Good morning, Elffled and Rian! Though it is still dark outside *laughs*
Ceolwulf: *He puts his tray on the table nearby, then takes some bread and cheese and eats it*
Ceolwulf: Yes, some wine would be good. The water is too warm and good morning to both of you ladies
Frodo: *He takes a few tentative bites of bread and cheese. Lo and behold! It does not hurt so much to eat! He eats with much more of an appetite than usual*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian smile to frodo and laugh* good morning lord! *elfhild nods to ceolwulf, takes his goblet of water on the table, goes back to the pitcher and pours it back in. then she gets a bottle of wine from the cabinet and fills the goblet... she returns to ceolwulf, handing him the goblet. then she looks to frodo* my lord? did you want any wine?
Frodo: *nods* Please
Ceolwulf: Thank you, Lady. You should have some for yourself
Frodo: Yes, you should *blushes having already asked for some...but there should be enough*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild takes frodo's goblet, pours out the water, and refills it with wine. then hands it to frodo. upon the tray there are also goblets for rian and elffled... she pours some for herself and the others. taking one for her sister in one hand and one for rian in the other, she goes to the bench and hands them their goblets. then she goes back to the table and gets hers*
Ceolwulf: *When all have been served their wine, Ceolwulf stands up, raises his goblet into the air and says* A toast!
Frodo: *raises his goblet and looks to Ceolwulf*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *taking her goblet, she returns back to the bench and seats herself. they all look to ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: To good stories! To good friends! And to no more bad dreams! *he laughs a good natured laugh*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls giggle, and raise their goblets too in the toast, then take sips from them*
Ceolwulf: I think we can all drink a toast to that! *he drinks from his goblet*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild says with a smile* aye, a worthy toast indeed!
Frodo: *cheers and takes a long drink from his goblet*
Ceolwulf: And now to Master Frodo's story!
Ceolwulf: *he resumes his seat*
Frodo: Yes! I will tell you a tale of the Shire
Ceolwulf: *He takes another drink* To the Mark and to the Shire!
Frodo: Yes! The Mark and the Shire! *drinks*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the twins raise their glasses again* to rohan and the shire! *yet rian says softly, almost a whisper*...and to the memory of gondor
Ceolwulf: *He hears her words and looks at her with a look filled with sympathy*
Frodo: *Frodo's hearing, heightened by the morgul wound, pick up Rian's whisper and he flushes* I am sorry! We should have included Gondor.
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian catches ceolwulf's look and nods slowly, her eyes filled with sadness and loss. but she tries to enjoy the good company*
Frodo: I am sorry...*he trails off, wanting to apologize for the downfall of Gondor, for it happened because he failed his quest. But how can he apologize for the loss of Rian's entire country?*
Ceolwulf: *He says* It has been a long time since I had a goblet of wine, and I had forgotten how good it can taste *he drinks again*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild looks to ceolwulf and smirks* ah... perhaps, sir ceolwulf, you would like kitchen-duty? for then, when no one is looking... *she trails off and a devilish smile crosses her face*
Frodo: *chuckles*
Ceolwulf: Kitchen duty? *he laughs*
Ceolwulf: I admit that I can be found sometimes there, but only to have some of Findulas' cakes and a draught of water
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls giggle. elfhild says* ah, but there is much benefit in being a scullion, for when no one is looking, you have a treasure-trove of food, almost bountious enough to rival the wyrm's horde of jewels!
Frodo: *laughs*
Ceolwulf: *he chuckles*
Frodo: Which brings me to my tale!
Ceolwulf: Hear! Hear! A tale, a tale! *drinks again from his goblet*
Frodo: My uncle Bilbo was the oddest hobbit in the Shire for he went on many adventures
Frodo: He helped slay a dragon, as well--Smaug, who dwelt on the Lonely Mountain and he had many dwarves and elves as friends!
Frodo: This was unheard of in the Shire for hobbits like to keep to themselves
Frodo: Few travel into or out of the borders of the Shire, for it is our own country, peaceful and green and quiet and nothing unexpected ever happens....
Frodo: Well, rarely. *smiles*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the three girls listen to frodos tale intently*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf listens and drinks his wine, and is quite surprised when he has drunk the last draught of it*
Frodo: When I was twelve years old---ah, I have not told you that hobbits age more slowly than Edain
Frodo: We come of age at 33
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild notices that ceolwulf's goblet seems to be empty. she looks at him* more wine?
Ceolwulf: Aye, Lady, if you please
Frodo: *continues telling of hobbits and the Shire*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild gets up, goes to the table and gets the bottle of wine, refills ceolwulf's goblet. looks at frodo questioningly, to see if he may want more*
Frodo: *shakes his head, in the middle of his tale*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *she nods and returns to the bench, refilling her goblet and those of the other two. returns the goblet to the table, then she resumes her seat on the bench*
Frodo: ...so 12 is quite young, like a small Edain lad. I am 50 now. Have I told you that?
Ceolwulf: *feeling very happy to have a glass of wine after so long, he turns his attention to the wine glass earnestly*
Ceolwulf: Yes, Master Frodo, I believe you have
Frodo: *nods* Very well. My memory must be slipping. *smiles*
Ceolwulf: *drinks his wine* Now, back to your story. That is still a young age, Master Frodo
Ceolwulf: *he takes another drink of wine* comparatively speaking
Frodo: Anyway, when I was 12 I was orphaned.
Ceolwulf: A sad fate indeed
Frodo: I lived with my relatives in Brandy Hall, many hobbits all together in one large dwelling
Ceolwulf: *begins to relax more into his chair, his earlier dreams forgotten for the time. He drinks again*
Frodo: My uncle Bilbo did not live there, but he visited often
Frodo: And did he ever tell stories!
Ceolwulf: Then he had that in common with the Rohirrim!
Frodo: Yes! I thought he knew everything! *grins*
Frodo: We became great friends
Frodo: We have the same birthday, September 22
Ceolwulf: *takes another drink, a strange thought comes to him. I wonder what has become of my steed?*
Frodo: And when I was 22, he said, "You had better come and live here, Frodo my lad, and then we can celebrate our birthday parties comfortable together."
Ceolwulf: Then indeed birthdays must be quite a thing in the Shire
Frodo: Oh, yes. The person who is having the birthday gives gifts to all his friends.
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls drink their wine and intently listen to frodo's account of his life back in his home far away*
Frodo: But Bilbo's parties were of special magnificence
Frodo: He would bring in all kinds of fancy foods and decorations from all parts of the Shire
Frodo: Hobbits love food. We eat many more meals than you Edain usually do
Ceolwulf: *he finishes his wine and looks at Elfhild with hopeful eyes*
Frodo: *lists the meals, counting their number* First breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, dinner, sometimes tea in the afternoon, and supper
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild feels his gaze and nods. she gets up and refills his goblet of wine and returns to her seat*
Ceolwulf: *He looks up at her and smiles* Thank you
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, how can you eat so much!
Frodo: But there was enough food at Bilbo's parties to satisfy--indeed, amaze the hungriest hobbit
Frodo: Oh, we manage
Frodo: We are able to go without food, of course, as well, but it is a sore trial indeed!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild flashes ceolwulf a smile. she says* a pleasure, sir
Frodo: Perhaps that is why we love our food so much
Ceolwulf: I counted at least six meals, Master Frodo!
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: *Their eyes catch for a second*
Frodo: I was very surprised when I first learned that edain eat only three meals a day!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild smiles again, the slightest flush of rose coming to her cheeks. she looks to frodo, and listens to his tale*
Ceolwulf: We think three meals a day is plenty! *He drinks from his wine again, flashes Elfhild another smile*
Ceolwulf: How can you hold so much food?
Frodo: *notices the furtive smiles between Elfhild and Ceolwulf*
Frodo: *smiles to himself*
Ceolwulf: *looks back at Frodo, then his eyes seem drawn back to Elfhild*
Frodo: *Yes, yes, Frodo thinks. A good match indeed! His smile brightens*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *she returns his gaze, blue eyes staring into blue, like the cloudless sky in midsummer*
Ceolwulf: *With his ears, he hears Frodo, but his mind thinks of a golden morning and a blue eyed girl riding upon a steed the color of golden strawflowers*
Ceolwulf: *he drinks again*
Frodo: Well, you see the six meals...*trails off, realizing they are not listening to him*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian notice ceolwulf and elfhild, and giggle softly*
Frodo: *but watches the intense gaze between them and waits to see what wil happen*
Ceolwulf: *The words slip from his mouth* Golden as the sun...
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, my pardon. What were you saying?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the color of palest rose upon elfhild's cheeks deepens and she looks away, a soft giggle escaping her lips*
Ceolwulf: Ah yes, food, food, you were speaking of food *he looks at Elfhild*
Frodo: *grinning from ear to ear by now* No, continue, Ceolwulf. I'm sure Elf---the girls would like to hear the rest of that
Ceolwulf: Tell us more of food
Ceolwulf: *he sits up straight in his chair, almost at attention and concentrates on Frodo's story but his eyes cannot help straying to Elfhild*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the softest sound of giggling, escaping any attempts to stifle it, is heard from the bench*
Ceolwulf: *He smiles and drinks from his wine*
Ceolwulf: The story, the story *he says and shakes his head*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *more giggling can be heard from the bench*
Frodo: Well, then, Bilbo's birthday parties were the greatest events of Hobbiton, our village in the Shire
Ceolwulf: *Listens intently*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls attempt to regain their composure and listen to the rest of frodos tale*
Frodo: But the year when he turned eleventy-one and I turned thirty-three, we had a special visitor
Frodo: Gandalf, the wizard who had set my uncle off on his adventures in the first place and who would be the one to send me off later
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *her giggling subsided, elffled listens to frodo's story. gandalf? she wonders. she had heard that he was a horse thief and a bearer of ill-news*
Frodo: and all the children cheered when he arrived, for they knew he brought a rarity to the Shire....
Ceolwulf: What about this Gandalf? *he says through clenched teeth*
Frodo: Fireworks! His fireworks made that birthday party the most magnificent of all
Ceolwulf: And what manner of thing are "fireworks"?
Ceolwulf: *He thinks to himself... probably some kind of devilry. He reaches back to the table and takes his half filled wine glass*
Frodo: *sees Ceolwulf's frown* Oh, you have heard that he is evil too? I shall be very sad if you say so. He was a dear friend of mine.
Ceolwulf: I know naught of him, save his dealings with Theoden King
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled says calmly* the wizard, gandalf stormcrow, stole the king's horse, shadowfax. everyone in the mark knows it
Frodo: Gandalf would never do a thing like that!
Frodo: Would never have done a thing like that, I should say. *looks down*
Ceolwulf: He came to Theoden King and there were harsh words. The King told him to take a horse, any horse, and leave the land. Gandalf took the King's horse, which only the King was allowed to ride. It was an act of supreme arrogance
Ceolwulf: Though, I must admit, he did help the King later
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled looks at ceolwulf and then frodo* aye, shadowfax was descended from fealof, the horse of eorl.... it is said that the blood line came from the steeds of Bema in days of old.
Frodo: I am sure whatever he did was necessary. And Gandalf was not just a man. He was more. He was powerful, a wizard who used his strength for good.
Ceolwulf: We of the Rohirrim do not trust those who have hands that turn to ways of magick that hold dark secrets
Frodo: But he did not consider himself above making fireworks for the hobbit children
Ceolwulf: But Master Baggins, pray, why do you speak of him as though he were no more?
Frodo: Because he is no more *sadly*
Frodo: He fell in Moria fighting the Balrog, a great demon of shadow and flame
Ceolwulf: We last saw him on the fifth of March
Frodo: He stood against it, but it pulled him with him as it fell into the chasm
Ceolwulf: He looked well enough to me
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: i have never seen him *says elffled*
Frodo: *His head snaps toward Ceolwulf, and he stares in shock for a few moments*
Frodo: *Then he manages*.........What did you say?!
Ceolwulf: I said, Master Frodo, that we last saw him on the fifth day of March
Frodo: But that is impossible!
Ceolwulf: He took a halfling and went south towards Gondor, upon what business I know not unless it would be to warn them of the peril that was to come
Ceolwulf: He was alive, as alive as I am!
Frodo: *scrambles over towards Ceolwulf and almost falls off the bed in his excitement* A halfling!! What was the halfling's name?
Frodo: *holds his breath*
Ceolwulf: I do not know that. They were there but a short while
Frodo: *groans*
Frodo: Well, it has to have been Merry or Pippin
Ceolwulf: But the halfling was quite small and looked like a child. The color of his hair was light brown
Ceolwulf: He caused a commotion in camp, and then Gandalf took him away to Gondor
Frodo: Was it a very light brown? Almost blond?
Ceolwulf: Aye, that it was, the color of corn, as golden as wheat, it was said
Ceolwulf: But what is this small wonder to you?
Frodo: *Frodo's hands fly to his mouth and his eyes fill with happy tears*
Frodo: That is my cousin Pippin!
Frodo: He was alive in early March then!
Ceolwulf: There were two of them, two halflings
Ceolwulf: One stayed behind. Theoden King befriended him
Frodo: *Frodo is laughing and crying at the same time. Gandalf is alive, and Merry and Pippin too!...or at least they were in March*
Ceolwulf: I last saw that one at Dunharrow at the muster. But I do not know now, if Rohan has been taken... what has befallen him
Frodo: *nods sadly*
Frodo: *softly* I suppose there is no way to know if they are still alive now
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls are happy to see their master so happy. they smile at him and share in his joy*
Frodo: *thinks: But even if they died in battle, it is a far better fate than Sam's.* *sighs wistfully, remembering all the pleasant times with the Fellowship*
Frodo: *feels the girls' eyes upon him and returns their smile*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring on Frodo's finger begins to throb warmly..... your manservant is such a simpleton*
Frodo: *tries to ignore the voice of the ring*
Frodo: *His mind pushes it aside angrily*
Frodo: *How dare it intrude upon his joy! Even He cannot deny that Gandalf is alive, and that there is hope for Merry and Pippin!*
Frodo's Ring: *Such a willing fool to speak so many words. Do you not know I hear them all? Enjoy your moment of false hope. There is no real hope, only darkness*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring continues.... Rejoice in the news that you have learned*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian notices that frodo has a troubled look on his face. she asks* my lord?
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks perplexed at the lapse in the story. He looks at Frodo questioningly*
Frodo: *The voice of Sauron has pulled Frodo into a trance. He struggles to bring his eyes over to Rian*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf gets up, goes over and puts his hand on Frodo's shoulder* Master? Is something wrong?
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring says... It was already known that the old babbler was alive, but it was news to you. But what matters is they know you have deserted the West, and they hate you and will hate you forever. The Ring laughs at him and then slowly ceases throbbing*
Frodo: *The voice reminds him of his return to the dark tower and his terror returns...but it does not stifle his joy at at least knowing Gandalf is alive, and his hope for Merry and Pippin*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf shakes Frodo* Frodo? Frodo? *he says in concern*
Frodo: *Frodo's eyes lose their glassy look. He finally lifts his head to Ceolwulf*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls get up and approach frodos bed, standing beside it. rian takes one hand and elfhild takes the other*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, Frodo *he says* What about your story?
Ceolwulf: Are you well or has another evil spell come upon you!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhilds eyes widen... she knew they should not have mentioned the name of the elfwitch out loud!*
Frodo: *As the girls take his hands, he sees love in their faces. Who is right? he wonders. Am I a traitor, or am I still Frodo Baggins? Is Mordor right, or are these friends of his right?*
Ceolwulf: *gently shakes him again*
Ceolwulf: Frodo? These spells disturb us. Can we do aught for you?
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elffled and rian gently stroke the back of frodo's hands with their fingers* my lord...?
Frodo: *The hand that bears the ring is still warm, and the ring still glows faintly*
Ceolwulf: *His voice rises to a shout* FRODO!
Ceolwulf: Don't you leave us now!
Frodo: *jolts*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rians eyes begin to fill with tears* master...? *elfhild notices the ring is glowing.... she stares at it for a moment, mesmerized*
Frodo: Shh, shh, I'm here. *he finally looks up at them*
Frodo: Don't worry, Ceolwulf, I won't leav---
Frodo: *realizes that he will leave them*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf's right hand goes down to Frodo's. He touches the Ring, thinking to pull it off, but he jumps back, clenching his hand with his other*
Frodo: *pulls the hand with the ring away in fear*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls eyes widen. elfhild exclaims* ceolwulf!?
Ceolwulf: *His eyes become angry. He reaches into his tunic and pulls out his small knife* Let me rid you of it!
Frodo: *clutches the hand to himself* No! No!
Frodo: Please, Ceolwulf!
Frodo: You will kill me!
Ceolwulf: Let me take this thing from you and cast it into the sea of Nurn!
Frodo: I wish you could
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian begins to sob. elffled is at her side, trying to comfort her*
Ceolwulf: There is a demon inside this ring! I could hear a shriek when I touched it and it burnt my hand as though fire had lashed me!
Frodo: *nods sadly*
Ceolwulf: *Extends his blistered hand towards Frodo*
Frodo: *takes the hand* It did that to you? You must have Sador take a look at that
Ceolwulf: Aye, it is an evil thing *he flexes his fingers*
Frodo: Rian, dear, don't cry. Think about the tales! Tonight we fight the darkness
Ceolwulf: What else could have done it? And I will not go to Sador. He is a sneak!
Frodo: Tonight we let light in here again
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *rian sniffs and tries to smile at frodo. elfhild whispers...* dwimmercraft, ach, dwimmercraft
Ceolwulf: With a bit of tallow from the kitchen it will heal well enough
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild goes to ceolwulf and looks at his hand. she turns to her sister* ah.... that plant, the one with the fat leaves, that grows in the yard. it will help burns
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild talks to her sister* you know the one, finduilas showed you? *elffled nods* aye, we shall get him some of that to ease the pain
Frodo: Good, good
Ceolwulf: Yes, the light has come again, through our tales and I am hurt little by this dwimmercraft. See, I touched the Ring and lived!
Frodo: *shuts his eyes tight and grits his teeth, thinking of a different Ring*
Ceolwulf: My ladies, it is nothing *he beams*
Frodo: *lies back, tired, trying to think of the talk and the tales*
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, if I put my mind to it, I will find a way to rid you of this thing
Frodo: *sighs* I wish you could
Ceolwulf: let us think of good things like a birthday party, the parties you and your uncle had
Frodo: Yes, yes *nods*
Ceolwulf: I propose a celebration on your birthday. Would you like that?
Frodo: Oh, yes! *smiles*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *after the commotion is over the girls return to the bench... but they know that soon they should leave frodo and ceolwulf. they exclaim* aye! a party!
Frodo: I will think of something to give you all
Ceolwulf: Aye a party, and we will give the Master presents!
Ceolwulf: Nay, you have given us relief from our servitude, gift enough in itself
Frodo: *smiles* That is a kind thought, Ceolwulf, but in the Shire I would be giving you presents on my birthday
Ceolwulf: Nay, Master, we will give you the gifts!
Frodo: *chuckles, a little embarassed* Well...if you truly want to!
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *each of the girls think of things to give or make to frodo*
Frodo: but I will try and think of something for you as well
Ceolwulf: I have coins enough to buy a gift
Frodo: Oh, no, do not spend your money!
Ceolwulf: You reward me far too much. I have no place to spend coins anyway
Ceolwulf: Master Frodo, it is not my money
Frodo: Well, in that case it is not my money either
Ceolwulf: Shakh Vartang gives us a few coins in your name
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: And if you will give us leave to the marketplace for your birthday, I shall see what can be found
Frodo: But it is for you to spend on yourselves
Ceolwulf: Coins, he says, "Alms for the slaves"
Frodo: Besides, in the Shire it is unheard of for the birthday person to be given gifts
Frodo: *scowls at Vartang's words*
Ceolwulf: It is the custom in our country to give gifts on birthdays
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the twins nod... as does rian*
Frodo: Perhaps we will honor both customs then
Ceolwulf: Yes, strike a bargain.
Frodo: Maybe I will also go to the marketpl......*thinks better of it, remembering his last trip to the marketplace*
Frodo: What is your bargain, Ceolwulf?
Ceolwulf: But on second thought, I have something else in mind, something better perhaps, or worse, depending on how you take it. I propose we make things, according to our own talents to give to Master Baggins
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls nod in agreement* aye, a splendid idea!
Frodo: *clasps his hands together in joy* Oh! How wonderful!....but of course you don't have to do it.
Ceolwulf: So we will observe both customs, the giving and the receiving
Frodo: *nods*
Ceolwulf: And now, Master Frodo, you have had quite a night of it. Much news and many tales. We shall resolve to share tales again, and maybe at last, we can find out what was the end of your story *he smiles*
Frodo: *smiles back*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *elfhild says* aye, a wonderful night *they all smile*
Ceolwulf: Now you must sleep
Ceolwulf: My ladies, take your leave. Give poor Master Frodo a chance to sleep
Frodo: *looks at all of them, smiling, but struggling to keep his eyes from filling. How soon before he must leave them! And who knows if it will ever be like this again?*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *the girls get up and bow, and begin to take away the trays and empty goblets. they smile and thank frodo and ceolwulf for a wonderful night of stories and tales*
Frodo: *thanks them all for their tales and company*
Ceolwulf: And perhaps, Elfhild, you can tell us another tale? *he looks at her and smiles broadly*
Frodo: *grins at Elfhild and Ceolwulf*
Elfhild, Elffled and Rian: *she looks to ceolwulf and returns his wide smile* aye, another tale.

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