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Old 02-25-2005, 04:11 PM   #326
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,534
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Tinar awoke early; the fire had died down to a faint glow, and he shivered in the chill of the morning air. The sky was beginning to lighten up, almost imperceptibly as yet, but as he looked over to his companions, he could tell that Hasrim’s bedroll was empty. He had disappeared the previous evening without saying why, but he had flown in the direction of the Eagle encampment. Tinar walked to the southern edge of the oasis and peered into the sky so intently that he did not hear the whirr of wings behind him. He jumped in surprise when a familiar but unexpected voice spoke.

“Are you looking for me, little brother? I’m afraid that is the wrong direction!” Kumat sounded amused.

Tinar spun around, more delighted to see his brother’s face than he ever thought he could be. “What are you doing here?” he exclaimed.

“Did you really think our mother would let her youngest disappear without notice and not send out a search party?” Kumat said with a touch of sarcasm.

“I’m not sure it’s whether she cares or just because she needs to keep us all under her control,” Tinar commented with unwonted insight. Kumat looked at him closely; he realized suddenly that the child to which he was accustomed had changed during the past days and weeks since he had last seen him. “Tell me, what is happening at home?” the young man continued.

“Well, the wall is finally growing,” Kumat answered. “Halfr’s soldiers were ordered to help with it; they grumbled, but obeyed.” He lowered his voice, glancing over at Korpulfr’s prostrate form. “I was glad to get away – it feels too much like a cage to me.”

“You were never very good at staying in one place more than necessary,” Tinar laughed softly. “No woman, not even Mother, was able to keep you for long.”

Kumat grinned. “She is wise enough not to try to make me do the same tasks as our elder brothers, but make no mistake about it – she uses me, and she will find ways to use you unless you can free yourself from her web. But not just yet, I think – she has sent me to bring you back.”

Tinar sighed. “It doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere here, so I may as well come back with you, I suppose.” A slight movement in the sky toward the horizon aroused his attention. “If I am not mistaken, that is Hasrim coming back.”

They waited for the black bat to alight and resume his human shape before greeting him, but he interrupted them with hurried words. “We must pack our things and leave immediately,” he exclaimed. “Kor!” he called, striding over to the fire and quickly kicking sand on the remaining ashes.

Within minutes, they had packed their things and were ready to mount their horses. Tinar wondered that Hasrim and Korpulfr hesitated, apparently engaged in a heated debate, though they had lowered their voices and he could not hear what they spoke. Finally they joined the two brothers and Kor said, “Tinar, I’m sorry, but you cannot go with us. You are known to the Gondorians as Wyrma’s son, and Hasrim says that the Eagles are very hostile to all that concerns your mother. They may have influenced the Northerners against you.”

Tinar groaned, protesting. “Just when something finally happens, I have to leave?”

His friend was firm in his verdict, and Kumat agreed with him. “It is better that you come with me; if they are indeed coming to our city, you will be able to get all the excitement you want there. But can you keep up with me, little sparrow?”

Tinar lifted his chin with a hint of his mother’s stubbornness and pride. “Do you think a sparrow would have made it this far?” he retorted. “Take care that you keep up with me!”

“That is good,” said Kor. “We can keep your horse and baggage; then it will look like we have been trading.”

As the horses and their riders left, kicking up dust from the sandy desert ground, two birds arose in flight. Had an observer watched, he would have wondered at the fact that a desert owl and a falcon flew together.

The horses were well-rested; Korpulfr and Hasrim made good time. When they arrived at the watering place, there was no sign of the other travellers. Soon Kor was taking care of the animals while the black bat flew southwards to see if Fador’s information had been correct. He did not have to fly far before he saw the cloud of dust and counted five riders. Satisfied, he returned.

It was nearly dusk when they came. A fire was burning, and it smelled of food. They dismounted, glad to stretch their weary limbs. The two strangers who sat at the fire arose and greeted them cordially. Mithadan and Airefalas looked attentively as Korpulfr introduced himself but said nothing. They gratefully accepted the offer of hot coffee to drink, a southern custom they had come to appreciate.

Later, wrapped in their blankets to ward off the chill of the desert night, they spoke softly. “That man was our host for the dinner in Umbar!” Airefalas exclaimed. Mithadan nodded. “Do you think he recognized us?” the first mate continued.

“I’m sure he must have – we don’t look like desert dwellers,” the captain replied. “I wonder why he said nothing – more games?”

Airefalas shivered slightly. “It is possible,” he mused. “Things are getting complicated; I hope we can see our way through clearly enough to survive.”

“As do I,” Mithadan agreed. “The new day will show more – it appears that our new friends travel with us. I wonder, is it only chance that they take the same way at the same time?”

Last edited by Estelyn Telcontar; 03-08-2005 at 02:26 PM.
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