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Thread: Middle Earth: Many Meetings

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Meanwhile, inside the Prancing Pony:
Halo looks up from staring at the man who landed at her feet and spots Alynna looking in her general direction. Out of habit her hands clench into fists, but relaxes them before (she hopes) the stranger can notice. Standing, she stretches and wanders over to the stranger.
"Hmmm, about time someone taught that fella some manners" She grins at Alynna in what she hopes is a friendly and reasuring manner. Its not, it just exposes a mouth full of unpleasently sharp and pointed teeth. The stranger seems to have tenced up a lot, Halo just can't imagine why, she can't help feeling hurt, most people have this reaction to her. Halo doesn't realise how alarming her appearence really is, the sharp teeth and red eyes are enough to put anyone off.
For a moment an uncomfortable silence takes over, then Halo desides to try again.
"You might have to watch out for him when he recovers. Doesn't like half-breeds like up you see. Wouldn't put it past him to try and stick a knife in yer back while you slept. M'name's Halo, mind if I join you?"
And she flops down into the seat facing Alynna and grins, pulling out some money. "Hey, you want a drink."

[Edited on 29/7/2002 by Halo_Black]
The inkeeper noticed the mess on the floor:

Inkeeper: Darn, one of my best customers. Hey Bob, didn't you say one of the guests was a healer? Cant have my patrons bleeding all over the place.
Nob dissapeared for a few minutes, and returned with a young redish haired woman carrying a white satchel.

The woman knelt beside the fallen man, and checked his pulse and breathing. She wrinkleed her nose in disgust. She does not like this kind of man. She knows his type all too well.

Allyssa: He will live. Probably have a headache in the morning, but its hard to say if that is from the drink or the fall. I suggest you put him in his room and let him sleep it off.

The Inkeeper and the two hobbits dragged the senseless man towards the rented rooms.

Allyssa noticed two very unusual people sitting having a drink together. One she knew already, Halo. She had not met the other yet. She bought herself a drink and joined them...

Allyssa: So who was it sorted out Bill Ferny? I'd like to thank them.
Silent, almost invisible to prying eyes, a figure perched motionless on the eave of a great branch of a tall beech tree on the edge of the Chetwood. Five hours he had sat there, observing the East road into Bree, his keen eyes picking out movement on the torch lit streets.
He did not know what had drawn him once more from his hidden home with the Woses in a forest many leagues away, but he doubted it would be good. Instictively he ran his fingers through the feathers of the arrows in his quiver.
"Valedhelgwath stalks the shadows once more," he whispered to himself.
Content to let his fate come to him, he patiently waited in his perch, sure a sign would come to him before the rising of the sun.
Alynna: That was me.(Alynna knew that there was something different about Alyssa, like they shared some type of bond) Halo: Where are you from? Not for anywher near here, I'll bet Alynna: Well, you'd defintily win, Mirkwood, thats where I used to live. Halo: Why did you leave? flashback
Biegrid: Alynna, you are your mother's child, a half born. You are unworthy to live here among the immortals. Only for your mother's sake did I allow you to live here. But since she has fallen to the Doom of Man, I cast you from my side.
Alynna: Father...our years together...they have meant nothing? Biegrid: I regret on you being born
End flashback
Alynna: I have my reasons (then to Alyssa in elvish) What about you? Where are you from?

[Edited on 31/7/2002 by onceatoaster]
Halo frowned at Alynna. Did this stranger think she was stupid? That she didn't understand elvish? You don't spend most of your life running around the local cauntryside without learning a thing or two you know! "Hey, I'll buy next round yeah?" Without waiting for an answer Halo left the table. Allyssa watched as Halo slunk over to the bar, knowing full well that the half Orc's feelings were probably a little hurt. Turning back to Alynna, she began to awnser her in the human speech. By this time Halo was almost near the bar, but it was crowded and she was having trouble pushing through all the people.
"Ai. S'cuse me mister, comeing through, stand aside. Oh, hi Mr Thargson! *snigger* What? Am I laughing at your name? No, why would I do a horrid thing like that? *crosses fingers behind back* So, how's things? Oh? Really? Strider trampled all your runner beans? Well, I'm sure it was an accident. Must rush."
10 minutes later Allyssa and Alynna looked up from their empty pints to see Halo comeing towards them with three new ones. "Hey, guess what! Strider's been stomping on Mr Thargson's vegetable patch again!" Alynna looks confused, while Allyssa and Halo drink their ale, sniggering at the idea of the ranger stomping around Mr Thargson's veggie garden...
Alynna watched Halo get up from the table to go get more drinks. She leaned foward and rest her chin on her hand with a smirk on her face
Alyssa: Whats so funny?
Alynna: Oh nothing, that orc thinks I used elvish to be rude(Alynna sat back in her chair and looked over a Alyssa) but I didn't. Alyssa:oh
(halo came back over carrying the drinks)
Halo: So miss me? Here you go!
Alynna: Thanks(She took a drink from the mug, but as soon as she did she knew something wasn't right. The draught had a funny taste and then she felt her throat closing up. A pain arose in her chest, like a knife.Alynna's hands clutched the table and her eyes were shut with pain
Halo: What the?!? Hey some one help her out!

Allyssa immediately recognised the symptoms of Mordor Bramble Poisoning. Fortunately, she had brought her medicine bag with her. She reached in and produced a small intricately patterned bag. She pulled out a few dried ahtelas leaves which she crushed into another partrons hot tea. She passed the cup under Alyna's nose and then made her drink a small amount.

Alynna's breathing immediately calmed, and she came back to consiousness.

Alynna: "That was quick thinking, Allyssa."

Alynna then regarded Halo coldly. She was rather upset that someone would try to poison her over a supposed insult. Halo looked worried and confused...

The three of them noticed a strange metallic object with two slots in the top and a long tail with a pronged barb at the end, that had suddenly appeared in the room. They wondered what it was, or what it had been, since it no longer appeared to be operational. It was such a curious looking thing, that they wondered where it was from, who sent it, and most importantly, what was it doing here????

[Edited on 1/8/2002 by Allyssa]
From his vantage point close to the road, Valehelgwath peered down at the few travellers who were still arriving at the quiet town. He watched as the last, a merchant by his apparel, argued with the gateman to allow him and his wagon through the gate after dark. After a long arguement, the merchant appeared to win and he slowly trundled his laden wagon through the entrance.
Curious, the elf held his gaze on this lone traveller when he came into view once more beyond the thorn hedge. Pottering along the main thoroughfare, the elf had almost dismissed this trader when his keen vision noticed a sudden movement from the back of the wagon. Just a sudden flash of dark shadow, a shape slipped from beneath the tarpaulin and slid effortlessly up the wall of the nearest building. On a balcony it rested just a moment as a window slipped open, and then it was gone from sight.
Valedhelgwath shuddered. He had met their type before, but that had been a long time ago in mortal years. He had been numbered among their prey back then, and he had been lucky to survive. Surely they did not seek him still. He had seen four generations of Woses born and die since that time.
Searching the road for more of their kind, he contemplated slipping back to the forests from whence he had come and where he had found safe refuge. A muted cry of pain from the same building caught his attention, though, and again the elf kept his vigil, his bow now strung.
Halo looked at the strange metal object. She didn't know what it was, or what was going on, but the thing gave her the creeps. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed somebody moveing aways from the door. Quickly. And he kept glanceing in their direction. Being half orc may seem worse than a curse at times, but it does have its perks. Like a really good sence of smell for example. The person headed for the door reaked of fear and Halo caught his scent on Alynna's tankard.
"Allyssa? Look! Bill Ferny, he was behind the bar! Quick, look, he's heading for the door!"
Allyssa frowned and looked at where the halfbreed was pointing, Alynna looked as well. Slowly she looked back at the poisened ale then back at Bill Ferny. Halo reached out and tapped her on the sholder.
"The tankard, I can smell him on it!"
Alynna looked from Halo to Allyssa. Allyssa nodded "If Halo says his scent is on the tankard, then his scent is there. Halo's no killer, despite her what her father was. But Bill Ferny? I wouldn't put anything past him, especialy where halfbreeds are conserned." She turned to Halo "Don't you touch that ale. I don't need you poisened aswell!" she turned back to talk to Alynna.
While Allyssa talked to Alynna Halo took another look at the metal object. It looked like somekind of arrow-head, but...
"Guys?! That metal thing, d'ya think its supposed ta be GLOWING LIKE THAT?!?"

[Edited on 1/8/2002 by Halo_Black]
Allyssa: Dear Lord! What is going on now?

The metal box with the two slots in the top was glowing an eerie green. Allyssa, with her experience in chemistry, had seen this sort of thing before.

Allyssa: Get out of here, its going to explode and kill us all!!

Allyssa grabbed her medical bag and ran for the door, her elven speed and dexterity putting her outside before any of the human patrons had taken a step. The thing that was once a toasting device, began to pulsate. What in Middle-Earth was it doing here??? As yet, no explanation for its presence had been forthcomming...
Halo's eyes widened as Allyssa's words struck home. Allyssa and Alynna were gone and the rest of the people in the Inn were rushing out of the door, pushing and pulling. Halo figured she's never get through the mob and flung herself out of the window without putting any thought to where she might land. She landed in a horse trough full of stagnant water. Halo dragged herself out of the trough and looked around. Her eyes widened in horror as what looked like a living shadow seperated itself from the darkness and, slipping up the wall of a nearby house, dashed over the rooftops and into the night. Halo's blood had run cold as she thought of the tales the grey wizard had told. What was his name? She couldn't remember. But he'd told tales of adventure and monsters, elves and dwarves, great citys and mordor. Proper adventures, with real monsters and the thing she's just seen? The wizard had said The Nine had fallen with their master, Sauron. So it couldn't have been one of those, but what was it? Halo turned and ran to find her conpanions, maybe Allyssa would know what it was, she knew a lot of things. As she ran she heard the explosion behind her and felt the heat against her back.
Halo ran faster.
"Now this is more like it," Valedhelgwath thought to himself as a dozen people crashed through the windows and doors of the building he was observing. And then, behind the chaos flames poured through the windows and he heard a loud explosion. Someone staggered across the street, his back aflame. The elf ignored his dying screams, however. Something else had caught his attention.
A black robed figure charged past him along the road on a dark horse, a second mount following after. They turned off the road a short distance from the gate and pulled to a halt beside the hedge. Almost immediately a second figure, unseen by the elf, leapt from a rooftop overlooking the hedge and landed on the spare horse. Even though they were a hundred yards away, the elf slunk behind the trunk of the tree, his forehead beaded with sweat.
"Brotherhood of the Blade," he cursed silently.
As he watched the two assassins ride hard into the night, he wondered why his fate seemed entwined with Minas Tirith's darkest and most secret guild.
Dazed, soggy and freezing cold Halo trotted round the front of what had once been the prancing pony. Her foot nudged something and she looked down. Messy. Gingerly she felt for a pulse, nothing. she moved away from what had once been a man and paused to take in her surroundings. The Inn in flames. She spotted Allyssa doing her best to heal the wounded. People who weren't hurt or dying were attempting to get the blaze under control. She spotted Alynna and a group of men and women dragging the wounded to safety.
She spotted an elf hiding behind a tree
It didn't look very happy.
Halo searched her memorys of what happened before the explosion. Nope, she hadn't seen the elf inside the inn. She waved at Alynna, to get her attention, then pointed at the elf. Alynna looked at him and scowled. Both she and Halo started to head towards him...
Valedhelgwath kept his eyes focused on the fleeing as_sassins until they had disappeared from sight. Confident they had accomplished their mission and gone, he peered back at the carnage he guessed they were responsible for. Flames poured out of the building, an inn by the looks of it, where the wounded and the dying lay in the street. Rising to stand on the branch upon which he perched, he scanned the distant faces, wondering if one of them had been the intended target. The two members of the Dark Brotherhood may have disappeared for now, but he was sure they would be back sometime soon to ensure they had successfully killed their target.
One figure suddenly caught the elf's attention. Rising from behind a water trough was a half-breed orc.
"Stinking toilets!" the elf muttered. "What's he doing here?"
Had he been in bow range Valedhelgwath would have slain him where he stood, but the thousand paces that separated them was too much for even his bow. As he stared at the half-orc, however, the stinking half-breed appeared to sense his presence, his red eyes looking directly at him.
"He's good," muttered the elf, checking the orc had not observed something more visible behind him. "And what's this? He's in league with another half-human breed."
The elf pulled his hood over his head and faded almost into shadow. The two figures appeared to be walking down the road towards the gate. Surely they were not heading to see him.
Could these two be the reason he had been drawn away from the safety of his distant forest. An half-orc in the company of an half-elf, now that was something rare, unheard of in fact. But Val wasn't sure.
Nimbly running along a wide branch of the tree that pointed in the direction of the heart of the Chetwood, he acrobatically leapt from its end and caught hold of a similar branch in another tree. From there he swung to the ground and lightly dashed deeper into the forest. Like all elves he was at home in the trees. He would lead this two deeper into the woods, try to separate them from each other, and then from the treetops slay them if they gave him reason.
Halo narrowed her eyes as the elf dissapeared. She certanly wasn't stupid enough to try and follow, she liked her head where it was, firmly attached to her neck.Putting a hand out to stop Alynna she turned to speak. "Leave it for now. He'll be long gone and its no good to search for him in the dark." Halo sighed and turned back to the Prancing Pony Well, its been a strange night, no doubt about it. Poison, bombs, elves and shadow creatures...
Valedhelgwath observed the wood from his vantage point on a wide branch. The Uruk had spotted him earlier, which was worrying. Valedhelgwath was renowned for being almost able to disappear when he wished to.

With his bow strung and an arrow notched he waited... and he waited some more. A jackdaw landed in the tree less than a couple of arm-lengths away, blissfully unaware of him. After an hour, a squirrel began to forage beneath him... But still the Uruk did not come.

"Damn, I'm just too good," the elf thought to himself. "I lost them without even trying."
Lowering his bow, he skewered the squirrel with his first shot. He'd have prefered rabbit, or better still venison, but squirrel would do.

Lightly jumping from the tree, barely leaving prints where he landed, he picked up his kill and sought a safe camp for the night. He wandered with his mind preoccupied though. An Uruk with a half-breed elf, he kept thinking to himself. Most unusual.

So unusual, he could not rest. Cautiously, he crept back to the edge of the woods where they overlooked the town's thick, thorn hedge. It was dark now, but he could still see clearly by the starlight. The burned timbers of the inn still glowed a dull amber but the flames had died, and the street was all but empty. A glance at the road showed the gate to be firmly closed. He'd wait here until morning, he decided. See who left the town... see if the Uruk or the half-breed were among them.

Something strange was afoot, something that he felt drawn to. And the Dark Brotherhood too. What was their involvement in all this? Come dawn I shall find out, he decided.
Tom pops her head around the corner, but sees it'll be impossible for her to follow all this, so she disappears again as quickly as she came. Winking Smilie

[Edited on 11/9/2002 by TomBombadillo]
OoC-Look I've returned mostly thanks to Mr. Valedhelgwath. For a long time my darn login thingy didn't work. I'll try to get on more often now Cool Smilie

Alynna was puzzled a bit at the event s of the Prancing Pony that evening. As was Halo. Alynna headed back toward Alyssa to see if she could help with anything. There was something not right here and she could feel it in the air.
Allyssa's spine tingled, and the hairs on the back of her neck quivered.

Something evil was near. She could feel it.

It was comming closer.
Welcome back, Arwen. Good to see you got the problem sorted Smile Smilie

Valedhelgwath, meanwhile, hung back in the shadows of the wood, conflicting thoughts pulling him to and fro. Curiosity said, "Go into town... Find out what is going on..." Caution, however, warned him of the dangers of such rash actions.
Then he saw the tall, slim stranger again. She had passed through the gate earlier that evening, before the trouble had started. And what was this? She appeared to know the half-breed elf, and the Uruk.
He would keep his eye on this trio, and if they should leave town, he would follow.
Halo reached out and tapped Allyssa on the sholder.
"Hey Allyssa, you okay?" Halo frowned "I didn't freak you out when I mentioned that shadow creature thingie did I? Don't worry, its gone now, went hopping off across the rooftops."
As Halo mentioned the shadow creature Allyssa's head snapped towards her....
"Yes, Meneldir. I don't like the fellow much but I'm forgetting my manners. Lain at your service," said the dwarf as he bowed low.

"At yours and your family's," answered Halo appropriately. Evidently, Halo picked up the correct ettiquette on dealing with dwarves. "What, if I might ask, are you doing here in Bree?"

Lain: "I'm actually stopping over on my way towards Amon Sul but I figured I'd see what kind of money I could make while on my way. It's a sad bussiness with the Heathertoes girl but I could use the silver shillings."

Halo: "Would you like to join us? I was just going to find my friends and set out but I hesitated because of Meneldir's little mischief. We're not in any desperate need of money and the others would probably accept the help of a warrior such as yourself."

Lain: "Ah, that would indeed ease my mind, seeing how the Brotherhood of the Blade is afoot..."

Halo, who had been looking out the window whipped herself around instantly at the mention of the assassins. "What are they doing this far North?!" she yelped. "Those detestable whelps are vicious!"

Lain: "I should guess that with the incident at the inn that they were after someone. Perhaps you or one of your friends?" he asked gravely.

Halo thought about this as if it had never occurred to her. Indeed, a half-orc and a half-elf did tend to stand out as unusual company...
Valedhelgwath watched the road for many hours. Nothing stirred. Deep within himself, he felt urges pulling him away from the small town before him. He had witnessed something strange the previous evening, but though something was afoot here, he was not convinced that it involved him. From deeper in the Chetwood he heard one of his chetmigs call the other. They were restless, and so was he. This is not my calling, he decided, lightly dropping to the ground. After his brief foray into the world once more, he again felt ready to spend another age with the Woses.

OOC... Okay let's try to get this show rolling Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie

The first rays of dawn broke the darkness, its thin rays dulling the dying embers from the wreckage of the Prancing Pony. There were few in Bree who had not heard of the previous evening's events come morning, and those who had not were soon told. Most were unaware of another strange event that had occurred that evening, however, but very quickly it became the talk of the town.

Melendir, the sergeant of the Town Militia, pushed through the crowds in the market place, a pair of his soldiers flanking him. He climbed the steps of a small wooden stage, from which the local merchants often hawked their wares. One of his soldiers blew a short, sharp blast on a horn to attract the attention of the gathered crowd.

"Friends of Bree," Melendir shouted, his trained voice reaching the far corners of the market, and into the streets beyond. "The events at the Prancing Pony last night were just a diversion.... Burgomaster Heathertoe's daughter, Serene, has been kidnapped, the Burgomaster has been attacked, and his possessions stolen." He scanned the crowd, searching for likely volunteers... "The Burgomaster has offered a substantial reward for the safe return of his daughter and his possessions.... You, Sir... You appear to be a fighting man. Would this reward interest you?"

A rough appearing man of Dunnish stock, wearing a black leather breastplate and a sword in his belt shook his head. The caravan he had been escorting had not long arrived... His pay was burning a hole in his purse.

"Well if anyone is interested," the sergeant shouted, hammering a poster to the wooden stanction, "Meet at the gaol before the sun reaches half-noon. My scout, Eriban, shall lead the expedition once he returns from finding the trail."

As he cut his way back through the crowd, muttering to himself, the locals gathered around the notice.

1000 silver shillings reward for the safe return of Serene Heathertoe, and items of family value. Further reward of 100 silver shillings for the head of each bandit.
Halo hummed a little turn to herself as the glanced over the content of the notice
1000 silver shillings reward for the safe return of Serene Heathertoe, and items of family value. Further reward of 100 silver shillings for the head of each bandit

She grinned to herself and glanced at the dagger. It was time to go home and sharpen its blade. Though maybe she should find Alynna and Allyssa first, after what had happened the night before she suspected they might be interested in the notise. She looked around, her two friends were nowhere to be seen, but she remembered that after the inn had burnt down, Allyssa had been invited to stay in a house further down the road.
And, with one last glance at the poster, Halo ran to find her friends...
After running around for half an hour Halo discovered that not only was she compleatly out of breath, but she couldn't find her friends either. As a result she spent at least ten minutes standing around panicking before she realised she had been looking for her friends on the wrong side of town Dunce Smilie
"Oi, you, Orc-breath!" came a shout from down the road. "Whata you doin' here, loitering outside the houses of good folks? Begon you beast of darkness, lest I chain you up on suspicion for last night's fire."

Halo glanced to where the voice was coming from and saw Melendir, sergeant of the town militia, striding angrily towards her. She had always tried to be good, just like all the other citizens of Bree, but certain people, the sregeant included, had never given her the chance. Everytime anything had ever gone wrong, fingers had invariably pointed in her direction.

Could rescuing Serene Heathertoes be the break she had been waiting for? Could it finally make her accepted in this town, whatever her parentage?

She looked again to where Melendir was bearing down upon her, his picket club drawn.... Would he even listen to her?
Moments later, Halo noticed a strange looking man approaching her door. He seemed short for a man and thought he might be one of the dark men from the West. He came right up to her and pounded on it three times, shocking her to silence. He knocked again, but this time, a bit softer than last. Halo didn't know why, but she knew she had nothing to fear from the stranger. She slowly opened the door and peered at what looked like a VERY large dwarf.

"Morning lady..." he said gruffly as he trailed off as he looked at her closely. He took a quick look behind his shoulder. Halo was startled to see his gaze towards the poster Melendir had put up. Before she could close the door, the dwarf let himself in, and slammed the door behind him. "Don't be alarmed, I was going to ask for help but it seems as if you yourself could use some help, eh?"

Halo was astounded. Here was a dwarf, a dwarf, who was willing to help her.
Halo grinned at Melendir, the man really was an idiot. Infact rumors were going around that the village goat was smarter than he was. Halo turned, bowed to the man and seemingly dissapeared.
Melendir, who had been takeing a swipe at her with his club, fell flat on his face. He staggered to his feet, brushed the dust from his clothes and looked around in shock. He couldn't see the orc girl anywhere...what he could see however was two old ladys moaning about "that nasty young man picking on the poor little orc lass" and about "how the widow Aislan would be upset at her 'daughter' like that."
He got up and stalked off home to sulk, wondering where Halo had got too.

Meanwhile, in a house across the street, the village idiot (an ex-warrior by the name of Yohan) looked up in surprise as a rather stunned orc fell down his chimney.
He frowned at Halo "Bl**dy hell girl, your aims getting better." he grinned and offered her an apple and a chunk of cheese. Halo grinned back "Thanks Yohan. Could have been worse though, the fire could have been lit."
Yohan nodded "You heard about the missing girl?"
Halo took a big bite out of her apple "Serene Heathertoes? Who hasn't. If I can find my friends I hope to join the search. If not, I'll just leave. Nothing holding me here now." She turned away, frowning and turned her gaze to the window.
Yohan patted her on the sholder before going back to washing his clothes "Not everybody hates you Halo. Elsbeth raised you well and most of Bree knows that. But you'd not be safe elsewhere."
Halo turned back to him, he had her full attention.
"You saw that elf when the pub went down Halo, if you'd followed him any further you'd have been nothing but a carcass. The only places outside Bree where you'd be safe is the Shire or Moria." Halo grinned again, remembering how shocked the dwarves had been when she'd asked them to make her a sword...and how their jaws had dropped when she asked to stay for dinner and drunk their leader under the table. The hobbits had been surprised too, but not knowing much about orcs they excepted her, she repayed them by helping in their gardens and by fixing things. "There are others who might take me in," she said and stood up "I have friends among the rangers and then theres that old wizardy type guy...oh and I have many friends at a village near here..."
Someone banged at the door and Halo's hand went to her dagger, then fell to her side. She smiled as the door creeked open and Alynna's head popped through. "There you are, I've been looking all over for you! You really are gonna have to teach me that dissapearing trick of yours."

OOC: Who says orc's are unpopular, Halo isn't! Orc Smiling Smilie As for the 'old wizardy type guy,' his name is Bowen. I wanna try and introduce him to the plot at some point so I'll put some info on him in the charicter bit. I may also draw a picture of him and put it on my elfwood site. And no, Halo didn't use the one ring to escape...she doesn't even know much about the d*mn thing, she dissapeared due to a magic trick she learn't from Bowen. Like my friend Mitch said "She can't have travelled a lot without picking up a lot of trick on the way." Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie

[Edited on 7/10pm02/1984 by Halo_Black]

[Edited on 7/10pm02/1984 by Halo_Black]
That evening, a shrill scream pierced the still calm of the midgewater. Amidst the rushes Tolgar woke with a start. The cry in the night had woken him from his long sleep. Stiffly and slowly he raised his shaggy head from the flattened grasses at the back of the small cave tucked close to the eastern end of the Chetwood. A second cry that blew the tiredness away in an instant was ominously cut short, replaced with only the sounds of midges and frogs gently croaking. He stood up and looked out into the red evening sky. The last rays of daylight still peeking above the bows of the woods.
the second cry had been closer. He could now smell something... Human.... and horses......and something he could not recognise.... He looked hard in the direction that the sounds had been coming from, and could now see something moving towards him at great speed. He took cover in the shadows of his cave, the only protection for many leagues, and essential for a stop over on his long forays away from the greenwood.
The little light that was left of the day became suddenly obscured as a shadow drew over the mouth of the cave, all became still and a dread crept into Tolgars usually unshakeable heart. The thunder of hooves and the faint breathing of something exhausted is all that the large man could hear. He drew further back into the cave, until finally the shadow passed and he crept back to the entrance.
He stood and looked out into the early night sky. The last wisps of daylight had now dissapeared behind the woods and all was dark, but in the cold distance he could dimly percieve an area darker than the rest.
He did not know what had passed, but the dread that had filled him warned him not to follow, at least not until more was known of the events in the night, He would wait til morning.

[Edited on 1/11/2002 by Cirdan]
Night had eventualy come and Halo had returned home. She was sitting at the desk in her bedroom, staring out into the lamplit streets and holding the letter in her hand. It had arived while she was at Yohan's and had been left with the lady next door (an old maid who owned far too many cats and insisted she was the queen of Gondor). Halo had collected the letter and had read it.
Then she read it again.
Then she got the lady next door to read it just incase her eyes were playing tricks on her.
Halo had tried to get to sleep, but her dreams were haunted by moveing shadows, screams and what apeared to be a Balrog in a tutu.
She glanced at the letter. Strange dreams, the pub burning down, elves, moving shadows...and now this? If Bowen was comeing to town then it couldn't be coinsidence. It was never coinsidence when Bowen turned up. He knew something. She was sure of it.
Crossing the room she pulled back a rug and removed a loose floorboard. Removeing several pouches she plcaed them in a bag but her bed, then returned to the lose floorboard and removed two more objects before putting everything back as it should be. She opened the last two packages, one a present from some dwarf friends in Moria and one a present from Bowen.
A light, chain-mail shirt from the dwarves of Moria, she supposed it must be made from a kind of silver, it glittered as it caught the light. She put it on and slipped a loose shirt over the top of it, hideing it well.
The next...she unwrapped it slowly, wondering why Bowen had ever given it to her. A present for her 16th birthday, he'd designed and forged it himself, taught her how to fight with it. As far as she knew there was no-one better with a sword than her in Bree, though she had a gut feeling that Alynna and Allyssa were probaly more skilled. She stared at it a moment before unsheething it, it shone in the candle-light, elven writing clearly visable on the blade, but hiden when sheethed. It never nneded cleaning and the blade never needed sharpening, it anything it seemed to get sharped every time it was used. She draged she thumb along the edge of the blade.
No cut, no blood, she could never hurt herself with this sword.
Halo made a mental note to ask Bowen what he'd done to make the sword so weird when he arived. Putting the sword belt on and sheething the sword once again, she sat but the fire and started to toast a few marshmalows.
Dawn broke to the sound of hammering, the noisy chorus repeated in each of Bree's main streets. Melendir had his militia out in force, nailing wanted posters to notice boards and doors. Eriban, the scout, had left the previous noon and not yet returned. The previous reward had tempted no one, forcing Melendir to send two of his own hard-pressed men. Now the reward had been doubled for the safe return of Serene Heathertoes and the family heirlooms.

Halo squinted through her partially opened curtain and noticed Melendir staring towards her house. He glared intently for several long moments before continuing down the road. Glancing at the reward poster he had nailed on the board opposite her window, a cold shudder ran down her spine. In addition to the reward, Melendir had added a reward of his own.... A 10 silver piece bounty on Orc ears.
Halo gawped for a few minutes then grinned nervously "Heh...well at the moment yeah. Its not so easy being a half orc...with Melendir around."

OOC: Or Val for that matter Orc Grinning Smilie Help, he's gonna nick my ears.
"Yeah, I never did get the chance to go after Bill Ferny. I wouldn't be surprised if her had anything to do with this." Halo commented, but seeing Lain's curiouse look reminded her that her probaly didn't know what had happened on the night of the explosion. "Bill Ferny picked a fight with Alynna, she beat the tar outta him. But later that night, when Allyssa, Alynna and I were having a drink...somebody poisoned her ale. I spotted Bill Ferny making a sharp exit, but with all the fuss going on I lost sight of him in the crowd, next thing we know theres a weird metal thing on the table...looked a bit like an arrow head." Halo paused for breath before continueing "It started glowing, Allyssa said it was going to explode. I couldn't get out the door, so I flung myself out the window," Halo shrugged "landed in a horse trough." She grinned as Lain laughted at her last statement, she was beginning to like the dwarf already. She'd always had a soft spot for dwarves. A group of them had passed through Bree when she was only a little girl and the leader had saved her from being trampled under the hooves of a spooked horse. She had hung around the group for days, listening to their tales about their home in the mountains and about how many Orcs they had slaine. She smiled at the memory and continued with her story "When I was outside, before the pub exploded...I saw something." Halo frowned and hugged herself "It wasn't an assassin. Assassins, wether they be human, elf or otherwise always have a scent. This was scentless and looked like some kind of living shadow. I think it has something to do with this and I think Allyssa knows what it was, but I can't find her."
"Glowing metal thing, eh? That sounds awfully familiar. But before I explain my theory, how about we go find your friends? I would be very much interested in learning all I can before setting out against unknown foes" Lain just kept stroking his beard and looking out the window while thinking what he would do if he found the culprits.
Halo smiled. "I think my friends would like you. Let's head on down where the action is! " By the time Lain and Halo got to the charred remains of the inn, Alynna was already there, cautiously picking her way through the crowd to avoid drawing attention to herself. Halo walked right behind her and hissed her name softly. "Alynna, what are you doing" Halo asked.
"What do you think I'm doing!? she hissed back. I'm trying to find Ferny and make him shorter than a dwarf!
" I take offense to that", Lain said with a raised eyebrow. A sniveling scoundrel like him would be an insult to the Father of Dwarves himself! But Aule became the last thing on their minds.
Although the road had several people still tundling along it, one of them lightly flicking a knotted cord across the rump of his stubbern mule that was refusing to budge another inch, Halo recognised a familiar scent. Glancing up, a slight hiss escaped her lips as she spotted Ferny several buildings away down the road. Their eyes made contact and immediately Bill turned in his tracks and ran between two buildings, out of sight.
Having seen Ferny disappear Halo hesitated, unsure whether to give chase or not. By the time she had made a decision it was too late anyway, he would be long gone. Whatever scent he might leave would quickly be covered by that of the other passers-by.

But why had he ran from her if he was not up to no good?

"Ah, I thought I might find you here..." a voice beside her suddenly spoke. It was old and quiet, but seemed kind.

She looked round to see the muleteer had stopped beside her. Garbed in a ragged grey cloak, the old man swabbed his sweating brow with the back of his sleeve, but he appeared to be looking in the opposite direction.

"Excuse me?" she asked, wondering what the old man had meant, or even if he had been talking to her.

"My, my..." she heard him say. His voice repressed a slight chuckle. "Ten silver pieces for orc ears... How anti-social."

He turned to the two companions, the unlikely duo of a half-uruk and a dwarf. He pierced them both with a gaze that lasted for a few seconds and then he smiled kindly.

"Come on Ned," he muttered, flicking the notted cord across the flank of his mule. "We've much to do" Slowly he moved away, joining the other passers-by. "Meet with me on the South road, a mile from town at dusk tonight."

The last was said as a whisper, but it filled Halo's thoughts liked a stern command. She was confused, and suddenly felt dizzy. She took a step towards the old man, but when she looked for him, he appeared to have gone. The street was not so crowded that he could be lost among the other travellers and merchants, but he had gone.

"You alright?" she heard a voice. It was Uruk Slayer. "You fainted... Come on, let's get you inside."
out of the murk appeared a newcomer. "who are you?" questioned uruk slayer suspiciously as he drew his weapon.
"You for now may call me Elfman for i am half man and half elf." he looked at uruk slayers gleaming blade and said. " please put that away i wish not to fight you but to help you. i've been following you all for some time now and i now geuss you have something of great importance."
"We have nothing" growled uruk slayer.
" that is what you claim but it is not so. i know more than you think i do. well now i brought some pipeweed shall we share it and talk about what you hide and i can see if i shall help?
Halo eyed Elfman up before speaking
"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm confused, I have a headache comeing and some creepy fella on a mule has just asked me to meet with him a mile outta town on the south road tonight. Right now some pipe weed sounds just fine." Alynna opened her mouth to say something, but Halo spoke again " I wanna hear what he has to say, lets go back to my place. I think I've got some wine hiden around there somewhere."
Lain looked at Alynna, then nodded. As the group turned and headed for Halo's home Lain suddenly spoke up "That man on the mule wants to meet you somewhere? You can't seriously be planning to meet him alone!"
Halo glanced at her friend "Well, I was rather hopeing I could count on you and Alynna for company, I think he ment for all of us to meet him."
Lain stared ahead of them "I will go with you. But there was something funny about him, we should'nt go unarmed."Halo nodded "I'll take my sword...but...he seemed familier..."Finaly they reached Halo's home and went inside. Halo left her guests in the livingroom while she fetched food and drink. Sitting down with them she turned to Elfman " Now then friend, if you know more about whats going on then speak." She reached for a pot and helf it out to him "And would you like a cookie?!"
They traveled down the road and finally elfman looked closely at the ground with the little bit of morning light to help him find what he was looking for. He motioned them to follow him and they cautiously came forward eyes darting looking from side uneasily.
they pushed through some shrubs for a few moments and finally came to a clearing where there was a smouldering fire and some logs to sit on. there was a pitched tent no more than two meters away from the fire and the mule he had come waited there expectantly.
" Welcome to one of my homes". he said breaking the silence. "would anyone care for something to drink? ale? Tea? Some food? Cheese? Cakes?" The members of the little party all agreed to some ale and muttered among themselves what they should do while their mysterious geust got them some ale. "so I know you are all wondering what you are doing here. Well here's the answer. I'm a friend of the grey wizard you know of him i expect?" he asked and they nodded their heads." I'm also a long time friend of strider. A king now. isn't that funny."
They all looked at him curiously. Where is this going they thought well they would soon find out.
Suddenly out of the thicket step a beautiful auburn-hair colored elf. All stop whatever they are doing to look at her. But she only looks at one of them, Elf-Man.
When he first see's her he wonders how he could've not
heard her, but as she draws nearer he sees that is as if she floats, for not a blade of grass is stirred as she passes over it.
She speaks to Elf-Man in Elvish even though she knows others understand it also.
'There is a greater danger here than you realize.
Beware of whom you speak to and to whom you listen to"
Then she turns to Halo and seems to whisper in her ear, even though she is on the other side of the fire.
"The time has come for you to prove yourself"
And with that she vanished.

Halo shakily: Who, who was that? (but did not say anything to what she felt had been said only to her)

Elf-Man murmering: She is called Eglaviel by some, and LadyofLegolas by all. It is said that she comes in times of need and issues words of warnings. Some also call her the Guardian Angel of Mirkwood for when she is there it is said that all pass through safely."

[Edited on 22/1/2003 by ladyoflegolas]
Lain put aside his suspicion and humbled himself to take heed of LadyofLegolas. "Maybe she's warning us not to meet with that scoundrel on the mule. I'd pity the mule."
In the shadows he sat waiting like an wolf stalkings it prey.
He watched as the figure vanished and then made himself known to them. He stepped from the shadows
"Greeting my friends, you know it is not safe to travel these roads at this time of year?"
Elf-Man steps forward "and who might you be my friend, hiding in the shadows like a thief?"
"My dear friend you wound me. I come here to offer my services and you treat me like this, I shall take my leave."
"Wait friend" Halo says "forgive my friends abrutness but he is weary of strangers."
"Well let us be strangers no more. I am Darous and I offer my services and my sword."
"Then let him join us" shouts Uruk "another blade will come in handy"
So Darous lit up some pipeweed and the company continued on.
Elf-man was still not too thrilled about having someone stalk the party as they were journeying. "Lain, do you suspect the newcomer of mischief?"

"I don't know whether to trust my instincts or my heart. My heart tells me he's a good and trustworthy person but like you, I also don't like the idea of a stalker in the woods" Lain said.

"Wonderful" grumbled Elf-man, "we've become a rag-tag company of misfortunate, ill-begotten vagabonds."

"Hey, watch who you call ill-begotten" laughed Lain. "This is turning into an interesting little partay"
The two strangers entered the inn, and all fell quiet. A burlish man approached them. "What is your business here,answer me now?" The stranger removed his hood "You would be wise to watch your tongue sir, lest it be cut from thy mouth." And like a flash the other figure was behind the man with a small dagger hovering below his nose. "We are looking for a group of strangers they may have left not so long ago?" They approached the barkeep, "Tell us little man where did they go and be quick or face the consequenecs. We have no time for folly" "I think they took the eastern road." stammered the barkeep." Not that it that he has joined them, their trail will be easy to follow." and then they were gone into the night. "What was that about?" said the burlish man. "I'm not too sure but they were Dark Elves and them strangers best watch out."

The company were walking along when the wind changed
" We have company behind us" said Darous "Two of them and they will be here soon."
Elfman looked are Darous. "are you sure of this? and how would you know? why should we trust you?" elfman demanded harshely.
Darous stepped up defensively only reaching up to elfmans grizzled chin. " because my entire family was slaughtered by the dark elves. i was saved to be grown up as a slave, but as i grew older i realised what had really happened and killed them all in their sleep" the company fell silent " i'm sorry" elfman murmured" but how do you know of them coming" " i stalked the dark elves learned everyhting there is to know about them and killed many of them in return" Darous replied.
There was silence for seconds that seemed like hours.
"so" piped up halo " what do we do now?"
"now we hide. elfman do you know any good hiding spots with a lot of stone?"
" i think i may know a place" elfman replied.

An hour later they crested a ridge where they saw a large rock pit with some short small caves. " here we are" announced elfman.
"good " said darous "now we prepare for them."
"But now you must trust me like you have never trusted before" he said with a glint of madness in his eyes. "For if this is too work my friends I must face them alone and then we can continue upon this road." Elfman looked amused " You little man against these Dark Elves do you take us for fools." Darous hand reached for his axe. "You would most likely turn on us and lead them to our place of hiding" A rage took over Darous and he lunged at Elfman.... but Uruk blocked the attack. "Companies no one will turn anyone in and no one shall fight alone." Uruk smiled knowingly. "Now instead of fighting each other lets fight the foe who comes behind us..................
Uruk looked up and sniffed the air. " They are close" he advised the company. Darous inhaled deeply and sighed as he exhaled. "There is something strange about these dark elves they seem... i don't know more clean or far i suppose." "What are you saying?" demanded Elfman harshly. "what i'm saying is that they may not be so dark as we percieve" Darous replied a little embarassed. " great!" bellowed elfman his voice becoming different from the fair voice he had before. " just great we maybe running from the same people who are trying to help us" He whistled sharply and a black horse burst through the bushes. "this my friends is Shadesfax. Shadowfaxes son. Please all stay here and await my return if i do not return continue on to the rivendell and talk to the sons of elrond they will help you." with that he left and rode toward the rode and galloped down it towards Bree. Shadesfax grew nervous and halted and Elfman sensed a presence but before he could remove his hood he caught an arrow that just missed his head and strung his bow as quick as lightning and strung the arrow to face glorfindel. There they were at a stand off until they realised who they were and realised their bows and embraced eachother.
"Well Glorfindel it is good to see you!" Elfman said in elvish " The same to you my friend" Glorfindel replied and then elfamn turned and saw the lady " well Glorfindel i think you have some explaining to do!"
"Something strange is afoot here. The scents keep shifting as if they are being masked and then the true scent is revealed."
The fool we have been tricked we are being tracked but by a foe with is far more evil. Friends be weary for the great evil is near."

Tolgar absentmindedly swatted away the midges that were trying to make brunch of his shaggy face. He was lost in thought as to the events of last night, the more he thought about it the more it seemed to him it must have been a dream. but there was still the faint scent of horse on the ground and the occasional print sunk deep into the wet mire "grrr, what do I think i'm doing!" growled Tolgar under his breath.
He had not slept well this night, ever since his possibly imagined encounter he had been left feeling strangely uneasy.....surely it must have been a dream....what else did he have to be scared of? The scent on the wet leaves in the morning had belied this feeling though, so he had gotten himself up, stretched out his aching body and began following the trail...
....bent almost double, like a hound, he sniffed out the trail. After what seemed like hours (the sun was now full in the sky) he caught a glimpse of something caught in tree. It was perhaps 200 yards away to the south. To most eyes (except perhaps the elves) it would have been passed unnoticed, but Tolgar had an unusually keen sense for a human. Tolgar made his way cautiously to the tree, not sure if any dangers were ahead of him. The scent of horses had now become mingled with that of others...not animals but possibly dwarf....and there was Elf too. Strange he thought. BUt strangest of all there was the unmistakable smell of Orc. "grrrrr..tree hewers and land spoilers!" he mumbled. "there must be some trouble ahead"
Cautiously he approached the tree that grew on the top of a high steep bank which followed alongside the great east west road. He could now see a piece of fine sky blue cloth, ragged on one side where it had evidently snagged and torn itself from its owner against the thorny branches of the tree. He sniffed at it a few times and then yanked it free.."woman" he said ..."This must be from th.....!!!" with that word frozen on his lips his feet gave way beneath him as the lip of the bank he was standing on gave way and slid towards the road. With a gasp Tolgar plus a large mound of earth collapsed the 10 feet to the ground.
With the cloth , amazingly, still grasped in his large hand he puffed dazed and winded amongst the roots and soil. looking up he saw standing around him in a shocked circle the stragest group of travellers he had ever seen in his life............