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Thread: Another Story: The Quest for the Straight Road

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Aragorn had just returned to the casket when Roths cry was heard, but only AmariŽ heard it all and she felt like her heart had been pierced by a dagger of ice. Aragorn made a move to run towards Roth but AmariŽ stopped him. "No My Lord, let him be. The help he needs is not that of weapons and force. I will do what I can, but nothing of this world can heal his wounds.. I feel his pain. Maybe later he can tell us what terror lies ahead."

AmariŽ went towards Roth, but stopped out of sight. Then she started to sing. She sang of Valinor, pure and free. She sang of rest and healing water. She sang of freedom and blinking stars. She sang of tall, grey ships setting sail.
So soft her voice was that it could barly be heard, but like the morning mist it surrounded every living thing around her. The healing powers softly caressed their hearts. But most of it was directed to Roth. Invisible arms held him and let him cry. Soft hands on a wounded heart stired the undying fire inside. He was not alone anymore.
Minnet ran on silent cat paws up on the small hill to scout ahead. The horses made the groupe move faster, but they also had to take more care as they became a lot more visible in the terrain and the paths had to be chosen carefully to make sure the horses could make it.

They had enountered several band of orcs, but Belethcrist, Firedhel, and Gorisil where great warriors and the orcs had so far travelled in small groupes, so far the injuries where few.

Sonnet had so far acted like any young cat, easily distracted and playfull but alert. Now he became more watchfull as he reconized where him mother was leading them. Only pain had he experienced there, and there he had lost his father, Minnet lost her mate and they both had lost their beloved leader Valedhelgwath.

The three elves had no knowledge of these mountins, but trusted Elronds advise to follow the chetmig cats. They repected eachother, the elves and the cats. Gorisil was Sonnets favorite tug-of-war partner and and Firedhel made sure Minnet got a a piece of bread soaked in Miruvor when her old bones got tired. But never did the cats speak to them, it takes a lot to gain the trust of a chetmig.

Sonnet came and sat by Minnets side, and they looked as the elves rode around the hill they were sitting on. They would help get revenge over the trolls. Elrond wanted to know what happend to Val too, the elves would let him know. Then they would lead them to Lothlorien.
Minnet squinted her eyes towards the wind. She could smell them. They where near.
Roth hacked his way through the undergrowth searching for whoever had attackked him....
"i know yer out here and when I find you.....you will regret ever findin' me again"
As he walked he heard a soft melody bein' carried over the wind....."more of yer trickery is it,well not this time. Soon my blade will find you and cut out whatever beats in that chest."
a shadow passed over Roth as he came upon a ruined graveyard. His back arched and he slowly gripped his axe....."Wraiths!!!!"
And slowly several wraiths came through the shadows. Screams of fallen souls howled in the air as they grasped for escape.
"You shall not take me spirits...I will send you back to yer rottin' graves" and slowly they floated towards him and roth was ready for death.
The wraiths came nearer and nearer and then passed Roth by. Roth was surprised at this but followed the wraiths to where the others were standing. The wraiths were floating in the air surrounding Arkantos' casket.

"Who are you?" asked Aragorn.
"We are the spirits of the people who lived here," answered one of them, "We were killed by the Dark Lord's forces in the war. But our spirits were not freed."
"So why have you come here?" asked Amarie
"I believe that the person in the casket is our kinsman Arkentos. We've come to take him."
"You are from Arkantos' clan?"
"Yes he was the son of our leader. He had gone off west for an expedition but never returned until now."
One of the wraiths moved towards the casket and opened it. Arkentos was lying inside.....dead. The wraith took his hand and seemed to pull at it. And what happened next amazed everyone present there. (Of course only those who were still alive!) Arkantos' soul departed from his body and was now floating among the wraiths. He looked at each of the members of the company and gave a weak smile. His eyes shone as he beheld Amarie.

"Come on Arkantos, come with us." said one of the wraiths.
"No, Sergius. I can't and I won't. Not yet at any rate." replied Arkantos.
"But why?" enquired Sergius.
"I had promised to fulfil the quest with them and I will not rest until I've completed it."
"But you are now a wraith. You can't fight now."
"But I can guide them. This is my country and I know it very well. They will need my guidance even though I am a wraith" answered Arkantos.

The wraiths looked at each other and then turned towards Arkantos.
"Fine then. Do as you wish. But we would like you to lay back in your body."
"But that will capture my soul again!" said Arkantos.
"Yes it will. And that's what we want." said a wraith. "Come on folks lets put him where he belongs"

At this the wraiths grabbed hold of Arkantos' soul. He tried to free himself but he was powerless. They put his soul back in his dead body. One of the wraiths took out a flask from his robes and spilt its contents over his body. A moment later, Arkantos opened his eyes and stood up from the casket.
The wraiths converged on the company. The dwarves were white with fear and fled into the undergrowth. Only the elves and Aragron endured the fear with the strength of their herritage. At least until another wraith approached. This one was wreathed in white flame and had eyes like great stars. So much power eminated from him that even his hair crackled like an angry flame.

"Let the one called Arkantos be comforted," came his voice like howling wind through stone crags. "It is at my request that you must return to life. The company needs you to fulfill the quest and save the young lords from Imladris, home of Elrond the Halfelven."

Amarie gasped. Roth trembled. Aragron sank to his knees, whether in shock or as a sign of respect was unclear. Arkantos bowed.

"My Lord, you should not have revealed yourself," Arkantos said.

The wraith sighed, a sound that could barely be distinguished from the wind in the trees.

"It matters not, Arkantos. The old life I had in Gondolin is long gone. So few remember it now. Most believe me long dead. And I am dead, now. My body has long been consumed. But I will serve the cause against evil in whatever way I can. Go, Arkantos. Complete your quest."

With that, the wraith faded from sight, as did the other wraiths, leaving the company in a state of stunned bewilderment.


Roth stood bemused in the graveyard......
"I thought I had left this all behind me....." he thought to himself.
"the spirits of dead folk always cause problems...there dead and no need of them is wanted."
suddenley a chill ran down Roths spine......
"try not yer tricks on me spirits or you will understand why no gods have shown their faces recently".
Arkentos groaned and tried to take a few step forward, but his leg wouldn't carry him. Aragorn and Amarie quickly rushed to help him up and away from the path, and placed him leaning towards a tree.

Arkentos felt like he was slowly waking from a dream. Why did it hurt to move? Why was it so hard to see? He felt something cool touch his lips and he heard AmariŽ speak softy, asking him to drink. He did, it was miruvor and it helped. Slowly his eyes began to see again, and through the haze he notices his hands. Cracked and full of blisters, how could these hands grasp around a sword? What had happend?

He tried to speak, but his face hurt. He touched his face and realized in horror that his face must look like his hands. Then two deep blue eyes met his. "Welcome back brave Arkentos. Just be calm and I will do all there is in my power to make the pain go away. You saved me, remember?" Well if she could look at him without any disgust, then he couldn't look as bad as he feared. Luckily he didn't know that he actually looked worse than he could imagine.

The dwarves slowly crept out from the bushes and stood by the now empty casket.
Mori shook her head as she watched the others help Arkentos. "What life has he been brought back too? A mutilated, dead body. Why? And (nodding towards Roth) what kind life does he have? A tortured mind indeed.." They watched Roth walking back and forth mumbling intensly about graveyards and tricks and spirits, obviously beliving he was somewhere else. The sight of the Gondorian Lords gost had been too much.

AmariŽ left Arkentos to talk to Aragorn. "Lord, we have lingured here far too long. We need to get to Lothlorien. There is not much more I can do for Arkentos, but I belive he should be aible to stand up and walk soon. His wounds are deep, If only I had Roths magic to help me, but he appears to need the healing of Lady Galadriel maybe even more then Arkentos does. How did the road ahead look?"
"I found the orc lair, it was reasently abandoned but they seem to have been there for some time. " Aragorn replied. "It appears they were waiting for others to join them befor they moved on. I fear they are gathering an army. But the road ahead looks safe, they dare not tread to near Lothlorien. Yet anyway.."

Roland came to hear what they were talking about. "So we are moving on then? Good, I've had enough of this place. Wraights of elves and men, it's not natural." Then he nodded towards Roth. "He seems to have calmed down a bit now, he gave me a dark look when I tripped over his axe. He looks tired though.. And I wonder where Valedhelgwath is.." And once again his eyes sweapt around the area as hoping he would suddenly appear.

The dwarves where now sitting on top of the empty casket apparently discussing battle wounds.

"You don't suppose they will take the casket and go back to Moria now that there is no longer need for it?" AmariŽ said with a faint hope in her voice. Arkentos were now already on his feet, humming an old rager tune while searching for something to eat. Aragorn smiled grimly. "No, they would have said something by now. They have their orders to escort us and the casket to Lothlorien, and that is what they intend to do." In his head he could picture Haldirs face when he saw Aragorn had brought two armed dwarves instead on one this time.. "Please let Harldir be on the other side of the woods this time."

---

Then they where on their way again. AmariŽ went first along with Aragorn in case she would spot something suspicious befor Aragorn did. Further back came the others led by Arkentos, he and Aragorn had agreed on with path to take so they wouldn't get separated.

The walk was surprisingly uneventful and then, to everyones relief, the glory of Lothlorien shone towards them. The thought of safety, rest and soft beds to sleap in made their feets move lighter. AmariŽ smiled at the thought of seeing her uncle again. The dwarves however made several displeased "grmph" noises, but they had Brodas orders and Brodas orders they would follow.

Then suddenly a familiar voice called from the top of a tree. "Well well, what do we have here? Two of each kind this time, but no halflings. Did you use them up on your last visit perhaps?"
On a branch high above the ground stood a tall and pround elf. Aragorn sighed. It was Haldir of course. What trouble would he cause for them this time? "Mae govannen Haldir." he said politely.Haldir swiftly climbed down to meet them face to face.

"You and your companions travel a road full of persils. As you might know Gildor Inglorion has stayed here for some time as the road home to Rivendell was to dangerous to travel."

"We have come to seek Galadriels council... " Aragorn began, but was suddenly interrupted by Dorin. "Pardon me Great King and .. heavily armed mister elf, we have no time for pleasentries. Both my companion Mori and I have heard the story and we know the drill, so just blind fold us and get it over with."

Then the woods became still as they awaited Haldirs responce to the dwarfs interuption.
... a cool breeze rustled through the wooded glade, an ominous foretelling of the proud, stoic Elf-warrior's laboured response. Haldir's indifference toward the dwarves seemed to be borne out in the manner in which he gently motioned two of his comrades, hitherto unseen, to approach the visiting company.
"Do as our guests have so gruffly suggested, we need not tarry here long if they are keen for us to move on."
With that, one of the Lorien guards moved silently and with deft precision made ready the dwarven pair for their passage into the depths of the ancient realm of Lothlorien.
Without complaint, the dwarves allowed themselves to be bound and blindfolded, and subsequently were led along the secret trail.
Haldir with an amused look in his eyes whispered to the king, "tis the second time you have brought the Naugrim beyond the boundary of the Sacred Realm, this is becoming something of a habit is it not?"
"Do not be perturbed my old friend"said Aragorn, "this pair like the other before them, are to be trusted and are faithful to me, and besides the Lady Galadriel has come to expect some rare guests of late."
"Indeed she has" conceded Haldir...
"She would want us to treat them as our friends, but to let them see our secret paths I will not." Then he suddenly changed the topic, he was not so fond of dwarves as Lady Galadriel. "So why are you bringing a casket on your journey? Granted one of you seems to need it, (he looks in Arkentos direction) but I would say the roads are dangerous as it is."
"It is a long story my friend" Aragorn replyed. "but now is not the time to tell it, we have urgent need to see Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. Maybe later we'll have time for stories."

AmariŽ saw Aragorns frustration over Haldir and decided this was the time to ask about what she knew was Rolands mind too. Haldir would probably take the a female interuption kinder, and she had met him on her earlier visits to Lorien to see her mothers kin.

"Lord Haldir, when we left Imladris we were accompanied by our friend Valedhelgwath. But our paths took seperate ways, we hoped he would meet us here.."

Haldir heard the faint hope in her voice.
"I am sorry, AmariŽ of Imladris, no other unexpected visitors or tresspassers have entered our woods."

"Then he must be dead. It is as we feared.."
Roth had fallen behind from the main group. His thoughts were shadowed by the pain of the past....
"Arkentos I remember him.....but from where. Why am I plagued once again by these memories........"
Suddenly a voice spoke to him but from what lips he could not see....
"you carry your woes well Roth of the Change and your secrets even better."
Roth was shocked by the voice and whispered quietly.....
"You are mistaken my friend I am just a simple farmer...."

"And what of the one who strays behind Aragorn. He seems lost in his own thoughts."
"You ask of Roth...and I cannot tell you much. He came from the darkness one night and joined us...but his mind is troubled and holds memories of pain and suffering."
"and again I question your taste in travelling companions Aragorn." smiled Haldir
"And so you should old friend." replied Aragorn.
Nilgaerien fumed in the overload of emotions and thoughts. Too have come this far....twisted cubes of malice, spiked nerves, chords of uneasiness - they all combined to make it seem as if she were going through all of them.

Voices reached her ears from far away, voices she knew....her eyelids parted to reveal ice-blue orbs that chilled anyone who looked too close. In her fury, they were raging close to an icestorm. Her slim legs, bent underneath her body, straightened, bringing her to her full height. The voices were still far away - a product of her training for she could hear conversations from abnormal distances.

The elf began walking then hurried into a run until she was flying through the trees, looking and sounding like little more than a whisper of wind. Suddenly, she was upon Caras Galadhon and shoving her way through the guards lingering there. The thoughts swirled faster in her mind, building to a crescendo the closer she came to the owners of them. Yes, Gandalf and Galadriel had taught her too well.

She glided up the stairs and reached the platform where merry making came to a dead standstill as she entered. Her cold, angered mind stopped all elves in their tracks while her eyes pinned anyone less sensitive. Any male elf in the vicinity was quick to overcome his fear, to which she responded with more chill. Her eyes swept over the gathering. Yes, there they were. All of them.

Another mind touching hers made her cast her gaze to Galadriel, who resided over the food table with Celeborn. Neither seemed shocked - they were used to her fits - but seemed to be waiting for her move.

Nilgaerien looked again to the travelers. The dwarves were desperately trying to avoid her frigid glare while Roland kept dropping his fork every time he met her eyes. Aragorn was studying her with a wisened eye; obviously, he still remembered her. Amarie was staring with a look akin to amazement and Arkantos couldn't seem to decide whether to meet her gaze or discreetly study his food. But it was to Roth Nilgaerien's gaze was most attracted. His thoughts had twisted and retreated from her mind the moment she had burst out of the stairs. His evil glare unnerved her, which unnerved her more - no one but the greatest wizards and elf lords had been able to tear apart her nerves. She quickly found Aragorn's eyes again.

"Val? Is he...dead?" Aragorn asked, sensing she knew the answer.

Her chin sank slightly then rose as she realized she was showing weakness. "He has traveled to Mandos and his dark halls." Sorrow was palable among the group. She waited and when no other questions seemed forthcoming, she made another announcement. "If this fellowship is finished passing the time under Lorien's bows and can conjour an image of their missions out of their slow brains, two elves are lying near to Mandos' doorstep and I cannot keep them from leaving."

"And how do you propose we continue our mission?" Amarie demanded.

Nilgaerien smiled, a hard, unpleasant smile caused by grief untold. "I know where your gem lies hidden."
Galadriel had spoken of this elf Nilgaerien. She seemed to scare people, feeling their thoughts and their feelings. But looking into her ice blue eyes didn't scare Amarie. Underneath the frost was a singing river of her own emotions, hidden away.

Amarie was a healer and Nilgaerien was a hunter. Where AmariŽ saw a strong mind and a good heart for her to revive and heal, Nilgaerien saw the weakness and doubt like a wild animal would look for in a prey. Wild animls often hunt i packs, Nilgaerien was alone.

"I know where your gem lies hidden." she said
"Lady Galadriel said you would." Aragorn replyed. "Will you lead us to them?"
Nilgaerien was quiet for a second then said in clear voice. "Yes, I will. We shall leave befor nightfall." A lot of murmur filled the room and she turned around to leave, but AmariŽ called out. "Wait lady Nilgaerien! We can not leave so soon, Arkentos needs his body to heal befor we can move on. He was not brought back from the dead to be left behind here."

Nilgaerien pierced at Amarie with a displeased look, still Amarie didn't flinch.
"How long will it take?"
"It is only damaged skin, with the help of lady Galadriel and her maids he should be well enough after two day, three days to heal him completly, but that can be done while travelling."

Then she suddenly realized something. She didn't know if they wanted to leave her here. What if they felt it was best for her to stay? She looked at her travel companions around her and added with her heart pounding
"...that is if i am still allowed to accompany the fellowship further on this quest.."
Nilgaerien barely heard Aragorn's affirmative answer to Amarie's question. She was turning, pushing aside a trio of elf servants, marching down the winding stairs. Three days! Might as well be an eternity!

Above, Amarie's emotions swirled in concern. Nilgaerien's lips tightened and her eyes blazed. Any elf to look at her was quick to move many feet away. Why should she be concerned?? Ah, yes, she was a healer. Nilgaerien didn't see the need to heal. The world had too many hurts to heal and healing would not keep the sons of Elrond from leaving Middle-earth. She stopped and bowed her head. She had watched Celebrian slip away until, pale and worn, she sailed over sea and now her sons suffered the same fate. Every passing minute, Nilgaerien's deeply attuned connection to the twins waned. She could feel the life leaving their bodies...they would not last long. Her balled fist made contact with the tree she stood against, leaving a deep groove.

Two days later, Nilgaerien sat atop a high bluff, overlooking the scurrying travelers through the trees, preparing for their next journey. Her own emotions were worn thin from their heightened ones. Suddenly, she felt a prickle from Aragorn and made her way to the company. Walking up to them, she noticed that only Amarie and Roth met her eyes - one with concern, one with hatred. She knew why Roth hated her, knew he had good reason...she also had her own private reasons for hating him.

"Are we ready?" she asked. She winced as Roland turned too quickly and fell. Her head buzzed with his pain and she pinned him with an icy glare.
Aragorn was quick to help Roland up and supported him as he tried to put weight on this foot. "Ayay. I think I sprained my ancle.. again. Eheh. Ouch." Nilgaeriens head buzzed again, and she left with a annoyed "aargh!"
"Oh Roland.." Once again Amarie gently removed his boot and put her hands around his ancle. He felt the now familiar gentle warmth streaming from her hands, so different from the chill Nil had given him. "That new girl, she hates me." he said. "No she doesn't hate you" said Aragorn. "It is frustration. There is just so many of us and so many emotions that she has to feel. She is used to solitude, I fear it will be hard for her to guide us."
Amarie stood up. "There, put your boot back on Ro. Yes, I fear our emotions will drown out her own..." She looked at Nilgaeriens back as she once again went out of sight.

Dorin and Mori had spent hours with Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn who were very interested in the rebuilding of Moria , and the dwarves were eager to tell. With a brighter view on elves they sharpend their axes and where eager to help save the twins everybody was so fond of. A bond between Lothlorien, Rivendell and Moria would mean trading like in the old days, and being part of acchiving that would put Dorin and Mori in the history books for sure.

Arkentos was practicing sword fighting with an invisible enemy, very happy about being able to use his sword agian. A few blisters and cracked skin could still be seen, but they would heal with Amaries care. He didn't mind the blisters much. If blisters would keep Amarie close to him, to touch him with her soft hands, keeping her so near he could smell her skin, then he wished they would never go away. Wham! Invisible enemy got a deadly stab, and Arkentos put his sword away. He would have time to impress Amarie with real enemies later, he was glad she was coming with them.
Nilgaerien leaned against a tree and gripped her head with her hands, gasping for air. "Gandalf, why did you take me as your own? Why did you insist on training my mind? I wasn't ready...the orcs came too soon....they drove my kindred too far....too much blood was spilled..." Her thoughts went wild with held-back emotions and memories. Her eyes regained a hint of their old warmth until she felt the others a few yards away responding to her wayward mind. Quickly, she closed it down and her eyes grew cold again. There was nothing but the twins and the safety. That must be her focus. Afterwards, she could rest...her eyes closed. Yes, she could rest, forever safe from all others' emotions...
Nilgaerien headed back towards the company when she stopped suddenly, her ears catching a sound. It was not a sound close by; in fact, it was hundreds of miles away. Her heightened senses grabbed the scream of pain out of the air surrounding Rivendell. She gasped and stumbled forward, doubled over in the pain radiating off Elladan and Elrohir.

She became aware of the others looking oddly at her; the elves seemed to sense something but their senses had never been taught to hear something from such a far distance. It was a curse and a blessing.

She felt a hand hesitantly touch her shoulder and Amarie's thoughts intrude on the twins'. "Nilgaerien?"

She tried to open her mouth, felt Elladan's scream try to push its way out, clamped it shut. Feeling it pass, she croaked, "We have to go - now. Right now. Quickly."

Galadriel's voice entered all minds and ears. "Nilgaerien has been taught to feel beings far away. The twins are calling out - you must hurry for their time is drawing short."
"An uneasy feeling I have from that one....elf she may be but he has fooled others before....."
His mind was a swarm of thoughts and faces from long ago as he wandered along a dirt path having left the others shortly before hand. The wind shot past him and then he noticed a small dust devil darting around the trunk of a nearby tree..he stepped towards it but suddenley took off and wandered towards a set of steps. Having got his awandering attention Roth picked up his speed and walked after the mischievous devil.
Meanwhile......
"Dorin have you seen Roth?" asked Roland who had noticed Roths disappearance.
"No I haven't and I am quite glad of it. I do not trust him and us dwarves have long memories; and I have seen his likeness before but ask me not from where."
"I only asked if you had seen him Dorin." replyed Roland

Haldir spoke softly to Aragorn...."Your wayward friend has taken it upon himself to leave again Aragorn!!!"
"I know this Haldir but what am I to do...tie him to a tree like some mule. His will is his own and I do not question it."
"But to wander in Lothlorien can be..." but Haldir was cut off
"He walks where he must; and must go unhindered. But none can walk unseen from the Lady of Lorien so worry not Haldir."
They looked to Galadriel who smiled to them as she took her leave from the discussion..
"She is wonderous is she not Haldir?"
"She is the Lady of Lorien, Aragorn." replied Haldir.





Nilgaerien impatiently waited as the others gathered their things. Roth's distaste radiated in her mind and punctured her defenses. Why it should was a mystery to her. She had every right to hate him right back, but that particular emotion was fading fast. It had to be his powers.

She heard someone call out that all was ready and she turned, making her way back among them, her head aching from all the emotions. Suddenly, another burst of pain from Elrohir hit her and she stumbled...right into Arkantos' arms. Emotions exploded from the physical contact. It surrounded her very being, closing out who she was, who she had been. She was drowning in it when suddenly, she was pulled back and deposited away from all contact. This had happened once before, when she had betrayed Roth...Her mind spun crazily and, vaguely, she heard someone calling her name. "Amarie..." she whispered, trying to find a foothold, anything to find herself again.
"Nilgaerien!" AmariŽ threw her bags on the ground and ran to Nilgaeriens side grabbing her just befor she tumbled over.

Since she was a child AmariŽ could feel where pain came from, what caused it and how to calm it, like a burning flame lighting the way. This time she didn't even have to consentrate to sense it, thouching Nilgaerien felt like an explosion pushing all air out of her loungs. As she gasped for air, thousands of images flew trough her mind, souls screaming, dying, a young Nilgaerien crying. A glimps into Nilgaeriens mind. All the pain mixing togehter in a blase of light. She had seem pain befor but never so much at once.

The a light caught her eye. It was from outside. So strong. Familiar, she had touched it befor. Oh yes of course!

Nilgaerien screamed and broke free and crawled backwards away from AmariŽ and hid her face. What had just happend?

AmariŽ sat bewildered trying to patch together som meaning from what she had seen, but only one thing was clear. "Aragorn!" she grabed hold of his shirt as he bendt down and pulled him close.

"She is wrong, they are not dying! They are so closely connected that they sometimes feel like one person with twice the pain, but I know them and I saw they where two. Elrond still has the situation under controll. They are still safe. We still have time."

"AmariŽ, you are rambling. You say the twins are like they were, not worse?"
"Yes"
"You are sure?"
"Yes!"

Aragorn sighed in relief. She had grown up in Elronds house and healed arrow wounds and cuts on the twins as well as Aragorn from the day her gifts had been discovered. He belived her.
Nilgaerien gasped for breath as emotions subsided and left her feeling drained and weak. Her vision cleared, allowing her to see the frightened faces staring at her. Carefully, she picked herself off the ground and walked towards Amarie. She stopped only a few inches from her.

"Don't ever try to heal me again...even the power of the three Elven rings combined could not undo the damage." Her voice was low and cracked on the last word. All that power...she shuddered then felt another shudder close by and looked beyond Amarie. "You may want to look to Arkantos. I can't stop my power when physical contact is made." The healer turned quickly and ran to Arkantos, who was kneeling on the ground, stunned.

Nilgaerien heard a rustle and turned to see Roth peering at her through the trees, his eyes accusing. She blinked and the vision vanished into thin air. Aragorn cautiously stepped next to her. "I'm sorry," she said. And for the first time in years, her eyes were not cold when she looked at another living being. "I would not have stumbled if I knew I was to hurt him." Turning, she picked up her gear and took the path that would lead her out of Lorien, ignoring the stares aimed her way.

All is not lost, came Galadriel's gentle thought, a cooling stream in the heat of emotions Nilgaerien could not contain. But Nilgaerien pushed aside this love and did not look back as she walked. Behind her she heard Amarie call her name but Aragorn's gentle reprimand said everything for Nilgaerien: "She will not go far - she has promised to guide us."
"You search for answers which have eluded you for many years Roth. Answers which our held in the vastness of time; it is difficult and within me to show this but....." Galadriel then paused and anguish then passed over her face.....
"The truth you seek is a terrible burden. It was for your forefathers and for you I fear it would destroy you."
"Lady I am strong of will and heart and have suffered great pains; please tell me of my past. I must know."
"I know you our strong. The deeds you have been submitted to prove this, and I wish I could ease your pain but none in this age or the ages before could. And if you travel down this road it will lead you to your doom, as it did those who came before."
Roth stood with Galadriel and was troubled by her words.....
"Do not fret Roth you had to know the truth sometime in your days and that moment is know....so if you wish it look into thw mirror and all shall be revealed to you."
And so Roth stepped forward and gazed into the mirror.
Amarie sighed. She hadn't tried to heal Nilgaerien, she only tried to prevent her from falling. Nil had called out to her, even if she wasn't aware of it. Or maybe she wouldn't admit it.

Arkentos had recoverd but acted strange and glased at her when he thought sh ewasn't looking. Did he think she had become a mind reader or something? "Everybody has got secrets, Aragorn" she said. "It wouldn't surprice me at all if is the same secret. There is a reason we all got together like this. I sense Roth is with Galadriel, maybe that will reviel some secrets." Amarie sighed oce more. "I'll go see my uncle again, being with him makes me feel close to my mother. Sitting here doesn't do much good."
""What is this I see before me; can this be true..."
"It is true Roth; I was still young and so was this land. "
"But what has this to do with me..it was long ago and that evil has passed.."
"Evil never passes; sometimes it fades and at other times it hides in plain site. Unfortunately Roth the path you walk now will take you down the same path walked by him." spoke Galadriel softly as she turned and walk towards the steps.
"So my fate is sealed Galadriel."
"You can leave them now and go elsewhere but it will follow and you will fall." a saddeness came over Galadriel as she spoke.
"Then I will fall as he did and not as some frail old man cowering in the shadows." a renewed energy flowed through Roth.
"Thank you Galadriel...now I know that my torment was not my own I can continue on this journey and..." but before Roth could finish Galadriel spoke....
"You will and you can but I cannot ease your pain. This must be carried by you and you alone."
"Fear not it was carried before and I will carry it again."
And with that Galadriel ascended the steps and vanished into the forest. But before he left to return to the others; Roth gazed once more into the mirror and before him he saw a lone figure first gazing upon the shining city and the wonderment he felt.
"So he spoke the truth all of those years, and he suffered the same fate as me."
And so Roth left the mirror and returned to the others who were preparing themselves for the journey ahead.
AmariŽ returned to the groupe feeling a lot more cheerful. Her unckle had given her a new quiver for her arrows, so light she hardly felt its weight at all, and a silvergrey travelling cloak to replace her old one. But this time he handed her a small wooden box. "I am glad you came back" he said "I was just about to go and see if i could catch you befor you left. I want you to have this."

AmariŽ gasped. Inside was a silver brooch shaped like an open flower with a deep blue sapphire in the middle. It had the same blue colour as her eyes, the same colour as her uncle and her moms eyes. "It had been in the family for many generations, made for our bloodline. Now it is yours. Wear it well."

Then Aragorn called to her that it was time to come back. Her uncle fastend the brooch to her cloakt. "Wear it well."
Nilgaerien shivered in the cold of her self-imposed exile. She sat cross-legged, arms folded inside her cloak, facing away from Lorien. She was just outside the boundaries of that land so was also just out of Galadriel's protection. She had to be completely alone before the journey the next morning, had to erase memories and emotions.

A wolf howled far away, adding to her loneliness. If she could be with people, she would be, but her untaught mind could not stand the close contact. A tear slipped down her cheek. She remembered the time before, when she could still control how many things came through to her sensitive mind. That was when she loved, was loved in return...Nilgaerien stood and paced. The purpose was to get rid of her memories, she reminded herself. Not to dwell on them. That was time long past - she could never have it back, could never be comfortable around people again. This was the doom she had brought on herself....

Back in Rivendell, Elrond caressed the cheek of Elrohir then looked across the room to where Arwen sat next to the still body of Elladan. No better, no worse. They had stabilized, but only just. Elrond closed his eyes. Hurry, he urged those on the quest. Hurry, before we lose all hope.

Nilgaerien tossed and turned on the hard ground. Her cloak was still wrapped around her but that did not hinder the cold. She was asleep, dreaming...dreaming of the time before...her mother, her father....suddenly, a face loomed before her and she screamed, running for her parents too late....from the face's eyes came a darkness that covered her family, her friends, her life....and then it was gone and nothing was left but Roth, accusing her for their deaths....she struggled, but her cloak was wrapped so tightly now that she could not move and she could not wake up, could not get away from the accusations she deserved....
The rest of the groupe stood patiently and waited for Nilgaerien. They had said their goodbyes and where now finally ready to leave Lothlorien, but no one wanted to intrude on her. Finally Mori got fed up. "Fine! I'll go find her!" she grabbed her axe and barged her way through the trees in the apporxamatly direction Nilgearien had left. Argorn opend his mouth to object, but changed his mind.

Mori wouldn't drown Nil in feelings as much as the others would, dwarves keep these things to them selves. They had never met the twins, they were here on Brodas command, so they weren't filled with worry. Not much symapthy would she receive either. Aragorn smiled a sad smile. It seemed the best way to be nice to the girl was to send a grumpy dwarf..
Roth arrived just as Mori had left to search for Nilgaerien.
"I am sorry if I kept you waiting I had some business to atke care of."
Aragorn approached Roth "We were getting ready to set off...but Nilgaerien has disappeared. Mori is away to find her. So if you want to gather your belongings then we can begin as soon as the two return."
Roth set about gathering his possessions. "So did Galadriel help you Roth?" asked Aragorn
"Things are much clearer now Aragorn...and still some elude me but now the path is clearer."
And so the others waited for the return of Mori and Nilgaerien.
(okay everyone here is Nil's piece!!! Enjoy!)



Nilgaerien groaned as a hard boot found her side. She had been lying in a semi-conscious state for hours now, unable to move, unable to sleep. Slowly, she turned her head and cracked her eyelids. A dwarf? Sitting up too quickly, she groaned as her head whirled and squinted at the dwarf whose hands gripped an axe lifted above Nilgaerien's body.
"Rise and shine, Mistress Elf. I hate to disturb you but it's late and our quest is waiting," said - Mori? Nilgaerien thought that was her name - sarcastically.
The elf carefully rose to her feet, waiting for the dwarf's emotions to hit her own but nothing happened. She could have hugged the dwarf! Their emotions were buried to deep to affect her! She giggled and Mori looked at her like she had lost her mind. The dwarf started back towards the trees but Nilgaerien stood her ground, suddenly serious. "I will not go back with you." Mori turned, startled at this announcement. "I'm sure they are ready. Bring them here."
Mori just stood there. Nilgaerien sighed. She had forgotten the stubbornness of dwarves, especially the females. "Look, Mori..." the pretty elf looked crestfallen at having to tell of her own feelings. She rarely even felt her own, much less shared them with others. "I...I can't go back into Lorien. It is too powerful for my mind. I will do better leading the quest if my mind is unbroken..." she paused. "Well, at least no more than it already is," she added under her breath. Mori nodded solemnly and made her way back to the others. Nilgaerien sighed and toed the grass. This was not going to be fun for her mind but it was a small price to pay for the sons of the elf and his wife who had done so much for her.
Roth was swinging his axe...."How much longer shall we wait" he growled.
"Shall we sit and wait until we're called or shall we get movin'." he gripped his axe tightly.
Aragorn noticed..."Roth my friend we wait because we must. The journey ahead is full of shadows and if we go on alone we shall fall." he placed his hand on the axe and lowered it.
"This is not the time Roth....calm yourself and keep your anger for our enemies."
Roth lowered his axe...." I shall Aragorn."
"Good my friend" and Aragorn started to walk to Haldir but was stopped when he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.
"But never touch my axe" said Roth quietly.
(okay Nil is working on a respons to Dar's post)
(Hey here is Nil's part but she wrote it before Am posted her's :0 sorry its late)






Her mind now calming, Nilgaerien was patiently waiting by her tree when an image exploded in her mind's eye. She groaned and buried her head in her lap. "Roth, noo...." she complained.

Mori arrived where the others were waiting just as Aragorn hastily stepped away from Roth's rigid glare. His hands had tightened on his axe and he looked ready to swing the heavy weapon. Mori shook her head. These humans and elves! "It would not be wise to kill the King of Gondor before his time, Master Roth. Allow me to suggest placing your weapon in a safer position like so," here she touched her own axe across her back, "and following me to begin our quest."
"You found her?" a worried Amarie asked. Mori nodded and even in that abrupt gesture, Amarie sensed something. Or perhaps she had felt it straight from Nilgaerien. "In what...state...did you find her?"
Mori pinned her with a glare. "Let her tell you that, Amarie. It is her place and hers only." Before turning, she looked straight at Roth. For no reason he could think of, he squirmed under her gaze. Then Mori turned and led the way back to Nilgaerien.

Nilgaerien felt them coming and quickly stood, picking her long bow from the ground. They stepped out of the trees and flooded her mind. She winced and stood a moment, eyes drooping, adjusting to the emotional chaos. Finally, she felt strong enough to look at them. Unfortunately, she had glanced at the exact spot Roth was standing in. Their gazes locked and she felt the coldness seep through her body again, the same that had covered her own identity so long ago...she quickly averted her eyes.

"I'll place my axe where I see fit dwarf." sneered Roth as he hooked it to his side.
His gaze then met with that of Nilgaerien. She squirmed for a moment and then quickly looked away.
'This isn't gonna be easy' he thought to himself
Roth gathered his thoughts and belongings when......"So what is going on between you and her?"
Roth looked up and saw Roland before him...."What??" asked Roth
"It does not take an idiot to see something is wrong between you two. So what is it?"
"Come over here friend" and Roth and Roland walked to a nearby outcropping of trees.
"So then Roth what is wrong?" Roland asked with concern.
Roth swung round and with great speed and lodged his right arm in Rolands neck and held him up against a tree.
"It's not yer concern....friend what business their is between me and her." He gritted his teeth as he spoke and his eyes burned with anger.
"And if you want to surivie this journey I suggest you stop asking stupid questions." he slowly moved his arm and Roland fell to the ground.."Did that answer yer question Roland?" as he helped Roland up.
Roland gathered himself and went back to the others.
Nilgaerien led the way down the grassy slope. It was nearing the end of their first day of the journey and the setting sun was forcing her to search for night cover. She would rather forge on but they would have no strength left after three days of this pace. She glanced over her shoulder, again glaring at Roth. He glared back, having no qualms about hiding his malice - nor did she have any about hers. She had felt Roth and Roland's encounter, had seen the fearful way Roland had kept his eyes from Roth's all day. Even now, his emotions screamed the loudest.
Aragorn suddenly called out, "Up ahead - a good shelter!" She looked, instantly knowing where he was pointing and nodded half to herself, changing direction to make her way to the small overhang of rock. She reached it then looked at the others, still some yards away. Nilgaerien had carefully distanced herself from the others and kept it all day. Though the feelings weren't muted, they were certainly taken down a notch. She sighed, weary beyond physical pain. If one day had sapped so much of her mental strength, what would the entire journey do to her?

Later that evening, Nilgaerien watched those around the fire from her perch on a wing of the rock. They were chuckling quietly, having their fun. Her shoulders slumped. She remembered a time when she, too, had friends. But so long in the wild, alone, had taken most of the people skills she had acquired...a rustle sounded and she flipped around, already raising the black dagger hidden in her leg sheath.
"I would just as soon love to plunge that dagger into your side as you would mine, but this may not be the right time." It was Roth. She slowly put the dagger back and tried to edge away from the dark face before her, careful not to meet his eyes. "We may as well get one thing straight, Nilgaerien, if we're to be traveling together."
"We made our personal boundaries long ago," she muttered, still trying to find her escape, "after you killed my village..."
Suddenly her mind screamed in pain and she looked up into his eyes, now only inches from hers. "I killed your loved ones?" he seethed. "What about mine? You could have stopped the cycle, you could have done something but you didn't."
She wanted desperately to move, to get away from the searing eyes but the pain didn't allow her to even flinch. Suddenly, he raised one hand as if to grab her and in that moment, pain or no pain, she cowered away, terrified of what physical contact would do to her...
The others were being amused by the dwarves' endless stories about the people and dwarves from Dale. Colourful descriptions of their battles with the orcs on their way to Moria made them burst out in laughter several times. AmariŽ listen only halfway as she studied the brooch her uncle gave her. She had hidden it while they were walking but now she could hardly take her eyes from it, there was something about the stone she couldn't quite grasp. Something it should help her with, if only she saw deep enough..

Arkentos sat next to her, he joined in with a few jokes and laughs, but his eyes were drawn to AmariŽ, like they always were even if he tried to hide it. Usually she would laugh and smile with them, her laugher was so beautiful. He tried descretly to see what was so facinating with the brooch, but he couldn't see anything. He sighed to himself. "Even a stone is more interesting than me.."

AmariŽ was brought back to reality as Aragorn touched her shoulder. "I need your elven eyes, my friend, if you don't mind. It is to dark now for mine." As her eyes moved from the stone to his eyes he say a unknown glow that went away as soon as she blinked. It was probaly nothing.
"Of course I don't mind my lord." she smiled. "What shall I look for?"
She suddenly got serious and lowered her voice. "I have patched up your bruised knees since you where a little boy, Aragorn, I can tell when something is troubbling you. It is not the twins you are thinking about now, is it?"
Roth glared at Nilgaerien..."The village was a mistake I tried to help....remember your people came to me." Roth tried to calm the storm building within but it was taking over.
" I wanted nothing to do with any of you but they came and pleaded....even the great Gandalf asked for my assitance."
Roth breathed deeply...." I did what i thought was best and I will will not be damned for my actions by you or that bearded fool!!! Do you know he shunned me from that day and we have never spoken since then....." Roth began to walk off when he turned to Nilgaerien..
"I should have left you and the wizard to them blasted orcs."
"Damn you Nilgaerien for bringin' this upon me....your father could have stopped the easterlings the day they took me and my loved ones to Mordor but he didn't.....this is on yer familys head and yer own."
Roth then left the shooken Nilgaerien and walked off into the night.
Shaking viciously, Nilgaerien watched Roth disappear into the trees. "A curse was laid upon you," she managed to whisper, teeth clenched. "'May you and yours be damned until the very return of Morgoth himself!'" she spat the quote. Carefully, she stood to her feet, almost falling as the shaking wouldn't go away. From experience, she knew the tremors wracking her body would not stop for another day or so and neither would her emotions release Roth's. Tomorrow would be nothing short of torture. She laughed, an unpleasant sound in its bitterness. "I've been through nothing but torture for years," she told herself. She started down the slope then stopped, pulling the dagger out of its sheath. She would not hesitate to use it this time.

Aragorn had just opened his mouth to answer Amarie's question when the elf saw a shadow beyond the fire. She stood quickly, causing the others to whirl around, hands reaching for daggers. But it was only their guide.
"You too?" Nilgaerien said in a low voice. "I just can't get away from those who want to kill me this night."
Amarie stared in astonishment. The ice in her eyes that had seemed to melt over the day of journeying was now back, colder even than when they had first met and their was an uncontained wildness now filling them that sent chills up Amarie's spine. Nilgaerien's voice was like a winter river: brittle, untamed, and dangerous. Something had happened. Nilgaerien looked straight into Amarie's eyes, hearing her thoughts and for once, allowing hers to come through. Amarie saw Roth and Nilgaerien's encounter through Nil's eyes but something was wrong...oh...Roth's emotions were somehow part of Nilgaerien's, something that had happened many years ago had linked Nil to him. Nil's eyes burned frost as she realized she had let Amarie see this portion of her past.
"One thing only - keep Roth away from me until our quest ends." Only as Nil walked away did Amarie notice the afwul shaking grabbing Nil's body.
Nilgaerien walked away the best way she could. All laughter was gone and the crackling noice of the burning fire suddenly sounded really loud. AmariŽ slowly sat down in her place by the fire and wrapped her cloak tight around her. She felt cold.
"Aragorn" she said in a low and toneless voice. "If there are any more secrets that have been kept from me, this it the time to tell." She turned slightly and pinned him with a dark look. "No matter which of the two stabs first, they will erase eachother and we will loose them... and then we will loose the twins..."

She turned away again and looked into the fire. "I will no longer sleep like the mortals do. We can't afford to leave them alone.."
The others went to sleap without saying much, and the noice from the night and the crackling of the flames mixed with AmariŽs darkened thougths and dreams. But as the dawn lightened the sky, an idea had come to AmariŽ. Silently she found some of her herbs, boiled some water and mixed them as she wispered spells only her bloodline knew. Then she brought two cups and walked to where she knew Nilgaerien were.

Nilgaerien hadn't gotten much rest that night, the shakings came in waves and one was just passing as AmariŽ came and intruded on her mind again. Nilgaerian glared at her with distrust.

"You know what happens if you touch me, Healer. You can't heal me, only hurt me."
"Yes I know." replyed AmariŽ as she sat down next to Nilgaerien. "I just wanted to bring you some tea. Galadriel gave me some." And she handed Nilgaerien a cup and began sipping from her own. It smelled like it should and Nilgaerien was very thirsty so she drank it with shaky hands.

For a while the two just sat there and watched the sunrise, when Nilgaerien suddenly she realized the big shakings hadn't come back yet. And AmariŽs mind seemed dimmed. She tried to look into AmariŽ thoughts to find out how, by all she got was a vague hint. How could that be?
She jumped up. "You have slowed my mind!" she yelled furiously.

AmariŽ pinned her icy eyes with her own deep blue and all her emotions flowed into Nilgaeriens head again. She felt very insulted. "I would never do that! How can you even think I would? I am trying learn how to block you out! I've got your pain in my mind. It is not my pain so I should be able to trace it. If I can find where you got in, so I might learn how to keep you out. One less mind to torture you, so you can focus better and help us and the twins, and maybe yourself."

She tossed a water can into Nilgaeriens hands. "Drink this when you feel the tremblings are returning. It is herbs against fever cramps and some of my own magic. You lead us to the gem and I'll keep the tremblings at bey. Pack your things, we leave as soon as we have eaten."
How dare she order her around? Nilgaerien fumed and almost let loose what would be a deadly string of emotions into Amarie's mind. She couldn't control much of her mind but she could keep back the dangerous overload. At the last moment, Nilgaerien hesitated then allowed her mind to retreat. It was not her fault - she was a healer, after all. Nilgaerien's shoulders sagged and she rammed the water can into her pack. Her mind felt the others' readiness but she waited....waited...there. Roth's emotions had joined the group. Now she could go down. She had commanded Amarie and Aragorn to keep her and Roth apart but it did not all have to rest on them. Indeed, it was hardly their fault they had two murderous souls among them, even if the two were only murderous towards on another.
"Come," she said when she had made it to the group. "We need only to reach the river by nightfall. I have extra provisions and horses waiting. The dwarves can ride behind whomever will have them." She ignored Mori's look of disgust and began to stride through the trees.


Amarie watched Nilgaerien and Roth's movements carefully out of the corner of her eye. It was sundown and they were only a small ways from the river but Nilgaerien had insisted they stop here. She had been stiff all day, answering in monosyllables, dividing her attention between Amarie and Roth. Amarie suspected she now distrusted them both.
Now Amarie warily watched the two converse. Five men could have fit in the space they kept between them and Roth's hand was white around his axe but they seemed tame enough, if not cordial. Amarie knew Nilgaerien was asking Roth's advice - this land had been filled with orcs and foul things in the past months and only Roth had recently traveled through. By Nil's deadly cold eyes, Amarie saw that this was a stretch for her to ask for Roth's help but she was doing it. That, at least, was a start.
Suddenly, Nil's head flipped about to face the patch of rocky ground yards away. Almost in the same moment, she and Roth raised their weapons and almost at that same instant, a huge troll lumbered over the top of the hill, shrieks and calls warning them all of orcs. Nil's emotions suddenly filled Amarie's mind and through all the others', alerting them to the danger. Weapons jingling, shouts as they looked for solid positions from which to fight, and all turned to pandemonium as hundreds of orcs swarmed around the troll's legs and over the hill.


Nilgaerien's arrows hit three orcs at once but hardly had they fallen than three more were down beside. Outward emotions subsided as Nil's mind divided itself among keeping track of enemies and friends. Roth suddenly jumped up beside her and slew five of the nasty creatures. As he was bending to meet another, she shot over his shoulder at another orcs coming up behind him. Turning, she saw Amarie with many dead already around her and Aragorn 's bright sword not much farther away. Arkentos was keeping himself near ot Amarie. Roland, in his element, was not at all clumsy and the dwarves...Nil allowed a tiny smile. The dwarves were having the time of their lives.
As the battle surged on, and more and more orcs came pounding down the hills, Nil's strength began to subside. She had been weakened and was not yet strong enough for this. Juist then, the troll was before her and his heavy hand swung down to bat her body aside. Tumlbing, she came to rest a few feet away, her body screaming in agony. She tried to rasie herself as the toll came nearer but her body would not respond. Groaning, she watched as the heavy mace the troll bore raised above her. Then, suddenly, a sword blazed beside her and the troll roaored in pain. Someone grabbed her limp body. Her mind still in battle sense, the physical touch did nothing as she was carried to where Amarie waited, bandaging a nasty cut on Roland's leg. Whomever it was laid her carefully down and Nil caught a sight of black clothing - a stranger - before her mind closed down and she was left to the blackness herself.

(Your window, Aelric...jump in and save the day please.... Animated Wink Smilie )
Roth watched as the shadowy figure helped Nilgaerien....." you should have left her to that troll Fool" shouted Roth as he spat on a orc which gropped at his leg....."Move yer filthy hand" and with that he thrusted his axe into the back of the orc.
The hand shaked then fell to the ground and black blood trickled from the wound.
He pulled out his axe and watched the blood flow down it....."Blood has been spilt and more shall follow" roared Roth as he shouted into nothiness.
He looked to the others who had gathered round the still body of Nilgaerien.
"Is she dead or am I not that lucky....."
Nilgaerien's body convulsed beneath Amarie's light hand. But still nothing entered Amarie's mind. That was what worried her. Even in Nilgaerien's unconscious moments - sleeping, etc. - Amarie had still been able to feel the other elf's distressed mind. But not now. Now there was...nothing...just a black hole. As Roth asked his question, Amarie pinned him with a glare. "Stop it! Maybe you were lucky this time! Or maybe it's worse!"
Roth grinned. "What could be worse?" he asked sarcastically.
Amarie stood. "Her mind is blank," she said in a low tone. His eyes widened and the grin slipped. He glanced down at Nil's again still body then back at Amarie. Just then, the black-clad stranger pushed past and carefully knelt beside Nilgaerien, staring intently at her.

Nil couldn't find her way out. Everything was grey and murky and had no shape. She struggled against something, something heavy....a scream - who's scream was that? It sounded close. She tried to see past the gloom, see anything that would pull her out. Then, something...her old home! How could that be? It was destroyed! Then, out of a familiar house...."Mother," she whispered. And her father and brother and...and her betrothed. The one that had accepted her despite her fragile mind. She reached for them but just as their fingers trailed hers, they turned into gruesome creatures, creatures she had only seen once before....she screamed and cowered low to the ground....then saw herself cowering...herself as a child....as the broken adult that had left the tattered village never to be the same....

Amarie started as out of Nilgaerien's mouth came words: "No, no! Stop! I'm sorry...I'm sorry I failed....Roth, don't...please believe me....I never meant to...." But it wasn't Nilgaerien's voice. It was that of a pitiful child's who has lost her way from her mother.
Back at the High Pass:

It soon became obvious that this was troll territory. The horses where uvilling to go there, but Minnet led the way with firm steps. Sonnet was more nervous and let out a little wimper, the place and the smell brought back bad memories. The three elves had no choise but to follow with their wapons ready and their senses scanning the area.

Minnet led them the same path Valedhelgwath, Tennor and herself had taken to the place overlooking the valley. It was strangly silent. At a safe distance she signaled for them to stop. The elves told their horses to stand still and they obeyed despite their natural urge to run away from this place.

The cats were already at the edge, but befor the elves could join them, the cats cried out in agony and ran down to the cave. Startled the elves ran after them as fast as they could. The stench was getting stronger and more unbearable. Entering the valley they stepped over the rotting body of a orc Valedelgwaths arrow still stood firm in its throat. Several more bodies met them, Belethcrist counted at least six of what seemed to be Dunlendings. They didn't pay much attention to them as the cries of pain hurried them on.

The stinking corpse of the troll blocked the way, but behind it they found the cats pacing between Tennors body and that of Valedhelgwath, crying of sorrow. The bodies were decomposing and had been eaten on by birds and animals and the skin there was moving from bugs still feasting underneath. "So this is how the brave Valedhelgwath was to end his days in Middle-Earth.."

Firedhel gave the troll a disgusted look. "At least he brought a great number of enemies with him into death." Belethcrist kneeled down besides Valedhelgwaths body. Weapons, clothes, nothing had been removed. "It seems he got all of them, Elrond was right about his warrior skills." Then he stroked Sonnet and gave Minnet a respectful look. "But we must not forget that he had great help."

-------------

They burried Tennor next to his master Valedhelgwath, far away from the stinking valley. They placed Vals weapons in the grave and left the graves unmarked so they would be left alone. Minnet nuzzled her son. They may not have gotten the revenge they wanted, but now they knew their loved ones rested in peace. Minnet nudged Gorisils legs, it was time to move on. To the nice lady in the golden woods.
A beautiful, yet ghostlike blanket of mist settled at the base of the foothills, from whence the orc assault had first issued. All now was peace, save the groans of the dying and the screeching of excitable carrion birds swirling in the thermals above. Amid the scene of carnage and despair a tall, rangy fellow garbed in heavy black plate and mail, stooped low over the stricken body of an elf maiden.
As yet, his looming presence remained undetected, the survivors of the orc raid being more concerned with the tending of their injured. The stranger, moving calmly away from the party, let out a high pitched whistle and shortly thereafter, the sound of heavy hooves could be heard approaching his position. To the south came a huge black warhorse, laden with the gear of travel and war. The large, menacing beast nuzzled its master's chestplate in supplication, "Ye are a noble and obedient friend, Zhukanaic." said the man to the horse, then plucked a lance from the saddle and proceeded toward the body of the dying cave-troll to afford to it the coup de grace. This he did with matter-of-fact precision, the lance held in both hands, high above his gilted helm, then with one swift motion, brought down into the remaining eye of the troll striking its elusive brain and with a heave of its great chest, it expelled its last breath.

With this deed done, the stranger turned his attention back to these wayfarers who had come upon the orc ambush, he noted the presence of dwarves, elves and men, it seemed to him an unlikely companionship. Then he espied a face familiar to him, he could barely contain his first instinct - unbridled hate, Elessar was here - the Usurper King!
Gathering himself together, knowing these travellers were for the moment preoccupied, he strode back to his mount and leapt with relative ease into the saddle, the horse uttered a complaint as the mass of flesh and metal descended upon its back. Swinging about to face the bloodied group he hailed them in the formal tongue of the Men of Westernesse (Adunaic), "Greetings and well met, seems I have arrived in time to lend my sword to that of a royal company?" he uttered the words with forced civility, and were it not for the closed helm he wore it would be apparent that a dark scowl crossed his proud face.Then in Westron the commoner's tongue, "I would assist in your attempts to heal your comrade, but my art is with sword not herb, and my path that of a humble knight. Providence, it seems, compels me to offer my services if they are needed..."
Just as he finished speaking, Nilgaerien let out a harsh cry and flew to a sitting position, right into Amarie's arms. Amarie gripped her forearms tightly but her heart twisted as she saw there was no expression in the cool blue eyes, no hint of Nil behind their blank pallor.
"Nil! Don't do this! Come back to us! For Elladan and Elrohir!" But still nothing could be seen and no emotions could be felt.
Roth, disgusted though he was, could not allow the twins to fall away simply because of an unfortunate - be it fortunate for him - accident. He sighed and strode over to Amarie, pushing her roughly aside. Then he knelt and, steeling himself, gripped Nilgaerien's shoulders, looking deep into her eyes.

The fog began to melt away, her family's panicked voices going with it. The fog melted into distinct shapes and sounds and colors....the members of the quest! Wait, something was blocking it....dark, hard eyes close to her. Emotions suddenly flooded in - not the quest's but....Roth! Her own eyes went wide and she tried to push away, panicked as her own emotions began to melt but Roth pulled her back to him. "Rememer this," he hissed so that only she cold hear. "I saved you this once but it was only for the twins and their fate. When next you fall into ill luck, and they are not at risk, I will not risk myself again." He let go and she scrambled back a good five feet away.
Yes, he had risked his own emotions by taking hold of her...she was too powerful to contain her hatred towards him - it could have easily destroyed him. She gulped and steadied her breathing. She would refuse to feel indebted, however. As he had said, this wasn't exactly his choice.
Nilgaerien cameto her wobbly feet. Amarie was right there, willing to help if she fell but Nil shook her head then performed one of the first acts of goodwill she had in a long while: "In my present state, I could rip your mind apart if you touched me. I would rather fall." Amarie looked surprised but a warmth stole through her eyes. Probably thinks she's healed me, Nil thought without humor.
After righting herself, she saw the dwarves glowering at Roth, who was now nonchalantly cleaning his axe. Even so, she saw his hands trembling very slightly, a product of contact with her. She tried not to smile. Arkentos was cautiously trying to move towars Amarie without touching Nilgaerien. Her mind suddenly picked up something....eyes drawn to Aragorn, she saw the stranger, the stranger that she had not hesitated to save her...her blue eyes took a sudden warmth that had not been there for a long time. If he had only known what could have been done to him...not knowing, he had only stepped in to save her. She had not received that in a very long time.
Nilgaerien stepped around the dwarves who had suddenly tried to block her way and closer to the Southren mounted on his horse. "I thank you for my life," she said, using his own language, a language she had learned long, long ago. A bit rusty but it seemed to come out all right. And there was his nod - it must not be too bad. She glanced at the others, unsure of her next move then back at him and his expressionless helm. Ah, there were the emotions she hadn't felt at first...hatred towards Aragorn and all of them for traveling with him and also....his offer to help. Her brow furrowed. Maybe she shouldn't...Nil's chin came up and her shoulders squared. She was practically the leader of this mission! At least until they found the gem. Again, in his language, "We would be honored to accept your services." She hesitated then decided she couldn't betray what tattered honor she had left. "I, especially, am deeply indepted to you."
"Tis your good fortune that I happened upon the tracks and clamour of this treacherous war-party, at first I thought your group surely dead when they came upon your camp. But, to my relief you fought bravely and with skill, I only thought it necessary to intervene when some of your number were spent or hurt, it seemed you needed some help with the troll,"he sighed audibly, then continued "My Lady you speak well in the Old tongue, but then you are a speaker - one of the Eldar children, tis your gift. For my part, I have travelled many leagues from the south to meet with the new King of Gondor," there was a moments hesitation as if he meant to clear his throat, "so that I may have audience with him. My name is Aelric, Lord of Umbar."he bowed from atop his steed and steadily removed his tall gilted helm to reveal a mane of long raven-black hair, that framed a face at once handsome, yet eerily pale - and eyes that shone bright blue grey like an ocean stone.
Looking steadily at the host of folk before him, he casually noted the spirited elf-maid's posture with a mixture of amusement and curiousity, "So who leads you? and where is it that you're bound? If I am to be of service then this much I must know."
Roth cleaned his axe and watched the stranger....."and so another misbegotten fool steps in to save that witch.." Roth then laughed at what he had said.
"and what is so funny?" barked Dorin
"I was just thinkin' how much fun it will be when I rip you apart...." smiled Roth
"Were you laddie...well it shall be fun to see."
Roth left the others and walked to a nearby treeline..."now ta find some food" he put away his axe and produced a small elven blade and went in search of food.
Nilgaerien opened her mouth, but was interupted by Aragorn.
"I am." he said. "This fair elf maiden is our guide, we thank you for comming to her aid."
His spoke firmly, leaving no room for discussion. He didn't appreciate Nilgaerien asking stangers to join their quest without his permission, especially THIS kind of strangers. Nilgaerien gave him a cold glare, "Just a guide am I?" she thought.

AmariŽ was sitting with her eyes closed, bur she was still listening. She was tired; fighting, healing and trying to learn to use mind skills she wasn't born with was very hard. But Roth had come to Nilgaeriens aid, as she had expected he would. She had seen bits of both their minds. They were linked together and the one was the others key to peace of mind and healing. If only she could make them realize that.

She opened her eyes as she heard Nilgaerien asking the stranger to join their quest. His kind was part of those who had killed her father, and their hate towards the King was know to everyone. What did she think she was doing? AmariŽ sighed, a total stranger she would trust, but not the ones who put their own lives and the lives of the twins in her hands, trusting her to guide them well. She sendt Aragorn her support, he was the leader and she would follow his moves.
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