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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 14th, 2018, 12:44 pm 
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Rie-Zunic, startled by the knock on the door did well to keep his composure. Mostly. Once he heard the voice of the Shieldmaiden he sighed and hurried over to the door. This night had seen enough troubles without one more. He yanked the door open, reached out to grab the shieldmaiden's arm, and pulled her in. The door clicked softly behind her not seconds later and Rie-Zunic looked her in the eye.

"We must be silent!" he said urgently, his voice low but stringent. "We have reason to believe that this kidnapping may have high level people involved. Until Amarwen is safe at the palace, we can not afford anyone else knowing her location."

Helda seemed to eye him questioningly, then looked to Amarwen. Amarwen said nothing but her gaze attempted to confirm Rie-Zunic's words.

Almara, still calm in face, stepped forward to the door. "We need to go. Who ever is behind this kidnapping will only find us all the easier as light comes."


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 14th, 2018, 9:19 pm 
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Helda's sword bumped off her leg as they walked streets still quiet in this early hour. It annoyed her when it did that but there was nothing to be done until she could replace the tether that secured it. In any case, the bounce of her sword was hardly as annoying as her unanswered questions.

There was nary a soul to be seen. If indeed those behind the attack were powerful, surely they'd be taking measures to silence any that might expose them. Particularly if they were so bold as to attack their target in the palace itself.

Why would Amarwen be voluntarily returning to the palace? One look at the aristocrat confirmed she did not wish to. Not in truth. She walked as if a woman condemned but why she'd squander the opportunity presented by this attack was beyond Helda. No one, however, was inclined to speak and so they made their way back to the palace in silence.

As soon as they were sighted at the palace gates a shout went up. Guards converged and it was not long before Amarwen was whisked away. Helda watched the noblewoman twist about to look back at them. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears and echoed on the face of the young man Rhinnin had arrested earlier that night was an expression of inestimable sorrow. Amarwen vanished from sight, swallowed whole by the palace.


Last edited by Elora Starsong on May 16th, 2018, 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 16th, 2018, 12:46 pm 
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The event happened so quickly that Almara hardly had time to process things. She almost wanted to rethink their position. Should Amarwen really return? The look on her face... in her eyes. That was a look she herself knew all too well. A look she swore she would never see through again. A look her eyes never wished to return towards. Seeing Amarwen like that, it only brought back the harsh reality of the man who stood next to her, and their history. She didn't care for the guildsmen's plan to usurp the throne, but she couldn't argue with their logic. The bloodlines were weakened when mixed. It was a simple fact. Now... seeing this. She was all the more certain that her questions as to the crown were legitimate. Would they force this young woman? Against her will?

"This is wrong..." Almara said softly, under her breath.

She was quickly silenced by Rie-Zunic as the captain of the guards approached. They would no doubt have to give a full accounting of their stories. Hopefully they all had things straight.

"Rie-Zunic!" the man called. "Seems there is no small confusion to this night." The man sighed and shook his head. "I'll need a statement from each one of you, separately."

"Of course," Rie-Zunic said with a salute. "I can go first."

The man nodded and took Rie-Zunic aside. Rie-Zunic gave his account, and soon the man was back for the next. Once they had all given their accounts, the man gave nothing away as to his opinion, but he did tell them, "Be sure none of you leave the city until this is all over and done. We may have more questions."

Rie-Zunic gave a weary nod as the man walked away.

"We should have clarified better on our stories," Almara stated. "He suspects something."

"You don't know that," Rie- Zunic countered. "It's standard to be sure no witnesses leave the city until the matter is settled."

"I could see it in his eyes Rie," Almara came back. "It's only a matter of time before we are all called to come... Answer More Questions. The next time... we may not be allowed to leave the palace at all."


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 20th, 2018, 9:25 pm 
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The Captain of the Palace Guard stared at the reports before him. Three pieces of parchment, each containing the accounts of three different individuals. The longest of these came from one of his own. A senior officer, Rie-Zunic had mastered the art of giving a report and it showed. Crisp detail, thorough accounting. One possible slip, in that he had not escorted the Lady immediately back to the palace, but that was understandable. Perhaps.

Shuffling this report aside, the Captain considered the next two side by side. One came from a woman who identified herself as hailing from Pelargir. She went by the name of Almara. The other came from the son of Lord Calimir himself. Another from Pelargir. Their reports, by contrast, were brief. Almara confirmed that she had been taken with the Lady in the attack. She said that she did not see those responsible. That warranted further inquiry, he thought. Halvarin's involvment was more by happenchance. Glancing coincidence, if he believed in such things still. But, were it not convenience then the line of investigation it suggested was fraught with peril. Investigating Lord Calimir's son for involvement in such a serious incident as this would make the sort of waves that could drown a man.

Almara claimed that the attack took place within the palace. Under his nose, as it were, though she'd not made such a statement. He’d viewed the supposed location for himself and still he could not understand how it had been done. If his men were lazy, he might understand it, but he knew very well that they were not. They were skilled, diligent and vigilant and yet not a one had seen nor heard anything amiss. Boots in the hall outside his door lifted his gaze to find Prince Ornedil in his door. The Captain blinked, not sure if he should trust his stinging eyes, but the prince was still there.

”The arrests have been made,” Ornedil declared, “The Captain, his First Officer and the Master At Arms. The Guild Chapterhouse is cooperating in full with the investigation underway.”

The captain looked down, briefly, to the reports on his desk, ”And Lord Therald?”

“I am sure he is most anxious to see his daughter,”
the prince replied, ”Have him released immediately.”

”I’ll see to it personally, m’Lord,”
the Captain replied and looked up to the prince. Ornedil nodded to him and withdrew without anything further. He looked down to the reports again. There was something there. He knew it. He just needed to find it. Right after he liberated a ropable noble from his cell.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Therald’s mind was a blur as he hurried through the palace. He almost collided with one of the palace’s healers as he gained his daughter’s apartments. The presence of a healer only propelled Therald through the door like a plummeting hare. There, warmly wrapped and looking so very wan was his only child. Her eyes widened as soon as she saw him and the next he knew his daughter was in his arms. She clung to him, trembling, in such a way as to remind him of the time he had saved her years ago from a treacherous, powerful riptide off Edhellond’s shore.

Amarwen buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around him as if she were that child still. There was silence for a long while before Therald eased his only child back into the chair he had found her in.

“It is not safe here,” she told him in a fearful whisper, her grey eyes distraught, ”Please, do not leave me here. I do not know what will become of me if you do. Please, Adda, take me with you!”

“Hush,”
he said as tears spilled free and he pulled her to him again. He held his daughter in his arms and gently rocked her.

Princess Farien drew back as she took in this scene. Yes, it was touching to see the tenderness with which the Lord of Edhellond embraced his daughter. But, more to the point, what made more of an impact was the way in which his daughter used circumstances to her favour. Young though she was, and assuredly sheltered in that oceanic alcove far from anything remotely important, Edhellond’s scion was not to be underestimated. This was an error Farien would not make twice.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Down amongst the rushes that lined the shallows of the river bank a scuffle broke out. Growling imprecations and curses, Old Nan was forced to wade in and separate the combatants. Two girls, old enough to know better, spat and hissed at each other over what a pile of sodden, muddy rags.

”I saw it first! It’s mine!”

“Shouldda swum out and fetched it then!”


Old Nan gave both girls a twist of their earlobes, driving shrieks from the owners of each.

”If you’ve time to squabble over rags what washed up from the river, you’ve time to fetch fresh reeds for me floor!”

She twisted their earlobes again for good measure, planted a foot on the rags and pushed the girls away as hard as her ageing bones allowed. The two girls, her daughter’s ken but hers after the last winter took their mam from them, continued to grumble as they loped away. Old Nan knew this would not be the last of it. Once the girls had gone beyond earshot and she could be confident, Old Nan removed her foot from the rags and pulled them up.

Wasn’t uncommon for the river to deposit detritus amongst the rushes from time to time but never a bundle as significant as…the old woman paused as she unplucked the sodden folds. Not rags but a dress. A fine one at that, what’s more. Laced at the back…a noblewoman’s dress. As if the fine embroidery and fabric weren’t proof enough. Picked out in scarlet thread were tiny leaping stags over what was probably a lovely shade of gold linen once it dried. Old Nan didn’t know House colours aside from that nobles had them. Next time she went up to market, she’d keep her eyes peeled.


Last edited by Elora Starsong on May 23rd, 2018, 8:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 23rd, 2018, 4:57 pm 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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Calimir had set order to the docks and gave authority for ships to leave once again. He would face the King for his decision, and so he walked back over the bridge, wondering where in the chaos Amarwen was, and for that matter, his son. When he arrived at the Guildhouse, he was met with armed Guildsmen standing at the steps. He paused and asked one of them,

”What happened here?”

A guard was about to answer when Girdean came out the door and said.

”There you are sir. We were worried something may have happened to you.”

“No, nothing that a calm head and some direction couldn’t sort out. Why are guards standing watch?”


Girdean looked around at the quietness of the city and said,

”There was a raid. Four of the Rhovanion shieldmaidens came in and tore up the place. The night guards managed to retreat behind some heavy doors. They couldn’t break in and eventually they left.”

“Rohvanion shieldmaidens? Eldacar’s?”

“Yes, the two who look alike, the one with darker hair, and one with red hair. They were quite angry.”


Calimir squinted as his hand came to his chin. Was this sanctioned by Prince Eldacar? Has he learned of his wife’s indiscretions with him? He needed to go see the King immediately.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 23rd, 2018, 11:16 pm 
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Lord Therald's boots creaked as he strode for the palace gates. He needed air to think. What was he to do? Perhaps it was best to bring Amarwen back home to Edhellond, though he suspected by now even that was likely too little too late. In seeking to protect her and their people, it seemed to him that they had only brought still greater peril.

She was, for now, safe. Tucked into a warm bed, resting and secure. He'd closed the doors to her bedchamber himself and seen the two Shieldmaidens assigned to her security detail. Considering the palace guard had failed to prevent this vicious attack, Therald was more than a little pleased that his daughter's protection had not been returned to their keeping. Though, it had been one of their number responsible for her return. He couldn't remember the officer's name now but Therald knew he'd have to thank the man himself. The young woman that had placed second in the archery had been caught up in this too. She was owed recompense, he thought, and if the crown did not see to it then Edhellond would.

Head bowed, Therald trudged for the gates only to espy a familiar face.

"Halvarin!" Therald hailed the young man but he did not turn about. His attention was fixed elsewhere and Therald looked to sight a second familiar face. Calimir took in the presence of his son and Therald in swift order.

Lounging against a wall watching all of this was a flame haired Rhovanion woman.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: May 25th, 2018, 7:44 pm 
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When Rie-Zunic heard the news that he was to receive a promotion, he could hardly make his consious make ends meet. He had nearly... He had, committed treason. He was ready and willing to help Amarwen escape. If nothing else for Almara's sake. Only by the choice of Amarwen herself had she returned to the palace. He took a deep breath and sighed.

"You're over thinking," came Almara's voice, soft and sweet.

"I betrayed my cause," Rie-Zunic replied sharply. "I don't know if over thinking is possible."

"No..." Almara came back with a calm demeanor. "You were willing, but you did not."

"My mind was made," Rie-Zunic replied. "It's no different than if I had done the deed."

"For a.good cause!" Almara raised her voice now. "You saw that poor girl..." Her voice softened and she hung her head. With but a whisper she added. "There is nothing worse for a free spirit, than to be caged."

Rie-Zunic had to nod in agreement. He had always appreciated being attached to duty and a "calling." He knew Almara wasn't like that. She could understand Amarwen better than he.

"So either way, we lose?" Rie-Zunic dismayed.

"I don't think so," Almara countered. "I think we can still work things out. We can-"

"Almara... Please, stop," Rie-Zunic said, shaking his head. "No more plotting. I think it best if you stay out of this situation from now on."

"Rie, I can't just-"

"If they find out your involvement you would be thrown in prison! I can't let that happen." Rie-Zunic reflected on Almara's earlier words. "Otherwise we will have two caged free loving birds... Not just one."

Almara's face softened to a loving gaze and she stepped forwards, kissing Rie-Zunic tenderly. "I don't think you have to worry. It seems my suspicions were unneeded. The crown has offered me compensation for aiding you in rescuing Amarwen. I don't think they suspect anything. Do not worry."


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 1st, 2018, 10:54 pm 
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In the north quarter, Vinyarion had spent the night playing cards with the local merchants. His luck was better, and he didn’t end up giving it all back this time. He was on his way back toward the palace, he noted soldiers of the Gondorian Royal Guard walking the streets with the City Guard, and their presence. Not being adorned in his royal attire, he didn’t stop any of them to ask what was happening. He turned and went back and into a narrow alley, trying to make for the gardens. He thought he had avoided all eyes, but as he neared the hedge, the touch of cold steel against his neck had him move quickly. The sound of steel rang out as he countered the sword with his knife. Vinyarion found himself face to face with Vilmaith who said,

”This is not the tournament, Gondorian. What are you doing lurking about this hour?”

Vinyarion pushed back his hood and answered,

”Is it not allowed to walk the streets of Osgiliath in the early morning these days?”

Hearing and recognising his voice, Vilmaith stepped back and gave him a bow before sheathing her sword,

”My pardon m’lord, I did not know it was you.”

“It is good I can still go about unrecognised. Tell me what is happening, and then I must get inside the palace unnoticed.”


Vilmaith sighed and shook her head. She said,

”You go. You will find out what has happened soon enough. The Royal Guard was called out by Prince Eldacar to search for the Lady of Edhellond. It was said she was kidnapped.”

Vinyarion paused and looked back at Vilmaith for a moment. He looked solemn, and with a nod, he disappeared through the hedge.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Halvarin heard Therald call his name, but he headed straight for his father. Calamir saw Therald, then saw his son as he stepped up to him.

”Father!”

Halvarin didn’t wait for an answer. His fist struck Calamir’s jaw causing him to stagger back. He wasn’t going to get a second hit. Calamir had a slug go straight to Halvarin’s gut as Halvarin charged him, and it sent him reeling. Calamir turned and stepped toward Halvarin and held him down.

”You have much to learn on the high seas Ensign.”

Calamir knew he could have Halvarin arrested and sent to the brig for striking a superior officer, and there were plenty of witnesses. As Calamir rubbed his finger by his node, knocking off the drip of blood that started to ooze from it, he considered his position. Looking like he was going to strike Halvarin in the face, her moved quickly, then shifted to take his forearm and help Halvarin stand. Calamir looked to those around, stopping his gaze on Lord Therald. He said,

”This be strictly a family affair, and Naval rank will have no part in it. I think many here in this palace, especially my son, has wanted to do that for some time. I will not say that I deserve it from most, but I likely did from my son. Now, I ask again, I wish an audience with King Valacar!”

“And you shall have it Lord Calamir.”


The voice was rough with age yet lacking not the strength of old. King Valacar walked out from the shadows with his great grandson beside him. Valacar went on as he stepped closer,

”Yet before I speak to you privately I will say in front of all here that the opinion of my choice of a wife will lead to the ruin of Gondor is on you, not me. I regret not my decisions as a young man. You, Calamir, listen too much to that racist agitator grandson of my uncle. Know that a strong Gondor lies not in the blood of men, but in the hearts of men. His heart’s desire for power will tear this kingdom asunder, and you know this.”

Calamir bowed his head to his king. He said,

”I will agree with you my king that Castamir’s desire to rule is detrimental to Gondor and all who live here. Yet it is the thought of many that the Rhovanion blood you brought into the royal line of Gondor makes your descendants ineligible to rule…”

…”Yet the line of Romandacil is the elder line of Anorien, not the younger line of Calimehtar. You know the customs of our kingdom. It will not change now.”


Valacar stood now before Calamir, their eyes holding each other’s. Calamir finally looked down and gave Valacar a nod. He said,

”It is only because you m’lord are wholly Numenorean that this kingdom holds together. But know the cracks are set, and the fissures widen with each passing day. I no longer need to speak with you privately.”

He bowed and turned to leave, motioning to Halvarin to accompany him. Halvarin turned his head and looked the other way, toward Lord Therald. Calamir paused and said in a low voice.

”She is beyond your reach. Be careful where you throw your lot, for a day will come when you will have to stand with one side or the other.”

"...or stand against one side or the other sir."


Halvarin answered. Calamir looked long at his son before turning again to Valacar. He bowed, looked to Lord Therald, then left.


Last edited by Hanasian on June 1st, 2018, 11:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 1st, 2018, 11:26 pm 
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Amarwen was propped against her pillows when Princess Farien slid through the doors of her bedchamber. Not a hair on her golden head was out of place and, clad in a gown of delicate mint silk, the princess had a distinctly regal air. Amarwen, by contrast, knew she presented anything but in her present state. The healer and her attendants had used words like wan, drawn and pale to describe her. Though she had remained abed, she could not sleep. She could not close her eyes and lie still.

The Princess closed the doors with a gentle click. ”I hope we are alone.”

“No one lurks in my bedchamber,”
Amarwen replied and met the Princess’ gaze levelly as she turned about, ”But you can check under the bed should you wish.”

Farien favoured Amarwen with a cool smile. The princess selected a chair and settled into it with a rustle of silk. She set about smoothing the lustrous folds one by one.

”You have done well to turn this to your favour,” she stated at length.

”I have done nothing of the kind!”

“We are both well aware that you were not set upon in the palace.”


Amarwen’s eyes narrowed, ”I have to come to be aware of a great many things, your Highness.”

“I do not appreciate your tone, child,”
Farien declared and Amarwen, exhausted and distressed, could not stop herself.

”I am NOT your child!”

“No indeed,”
the princess snapped, ”For such insolence would see you over my knee if you were!”

Amarwen went very still and Farien arched a golden brow, her icy composure returned as swiftly as it had fled. It was like a hat, Amarwen thought to herself, easily taken on and off as best suited.

”Your mother would be appalled at your poor manners, I should think,” Farien said smoothly, ”But under the circumstances…”

Amarwen thought there were a great number of aspects to life at court that would appal her mother but she kept that sentiment to herself.

”You must know that you would never have been allowed to fall into the hands of the Master of Ships,” the Princess said.

”As you must know I returned of my own volition,” Amarwen replied low and terse.

Farien inclined her head, ”In interesting company.”

There was something about the princess’ tone that troubled Amarwen. She looked up to find the princess favoured her with a small smile. Had she made a mistake? Had she miscalculated?

“Calimir’s son is rather dear to you,” Farien murmured and Amarwen’s breath caught in her throat. She had made a mistake.

”But I came back,” Amarwen whispered, almost pleading.

“Come now, you have nothing to fear from me,” the princess all but purred as she reached out to pat Amarwen’s hand, ”I have no quarrel with you, dear child.”

The pressure of Farien’s fingers tightened before she withdrew her hand and leaned back, ”And nor shall I provided all unfolds as it should. As it must.”

The princess rose, smoothing the silk folds of her skirts, ”He has a promising career, I am told…and his life is ahead of him. You are an intelligent girl, Amarwen. I know you will choose wisely to protect and defend those you love.”

The doors closed behind the princess with a soft click. Amarwen stared at the handles for a long moment and then drew in a shuddering breath as it all came together. Compliance and silence was the price Farien had extracted from her. Amarwen’s hands tightened into fists, clawing the bedclothes into her grip, her rage mounting.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 2nd, 2018, 8:28 pm 
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Helda peeled herself off the wall she had leaned against during the confrontation at the palace gates. There was a wrongness pervading all of this that she could not reconcile herself to it. She had an obligation, a debt of honour that she could not set down and walk away from. Not just yet. The Shieldmaiden turned for the palace and left Lord Therald and Halvarin at the gates. This time she’d speak to someone who just might be able to make a difference.

Helda found Aldamir easily enough. He was a man of routine, even on days such as this. Perhaps especially on days like this. The prince was precisely where she expected him to be – at his desk impatiently reading through the morning dispatches. Despite the disruptions of the night before, nothing seemed able to stem the flow of dispatches. Gondorians loved their paper, Helda observed as she eyed piles of it. Aldamir had not lifted his head at her arrival and she had not waited on the threshold for an invitation.

Helda rolled her shoulders. She was ready to knock heads if that is what it required. Even princely ones. ”I must speak with you,” she declared flatly, ”Now!”

At this Aldamir looked up and took in her presence. His brows drew together at once but Helda was unbowed. It would take more than a mighty scowl to save him.

”I was told she was safe. Unharmed!”

It was her turn to frown, surprised by the lack of ire in Aldamir’s voice. It was…concern. Worry.

”Tired, cold, utterly wretched,” Helda replied. ”But safe, I suppose. Tucked up in bed behind doors that are locked and now doubly guarded by my sisters.”

The prince’s gaze rested on her for a moment longer before his eyes dropped back to his reports. Aldamir picked up the dispatch he had been reading and then pushed it away with a sigh. ”Say your piece and have done with it.”

“Release her,”
Helda replied plainly, ”You said that you would remedy this. You gave me your word, and I gave mine to her. I will not be foresworn.”

Aldamir’s hand closed into a fist on his desk. He pushed himself from his seat, strode past her and closed the door with a slam.

”Do you think I derive any pleasure from this?” he hissed as he turned about, his expression livid. ”Loathesome as this is, her fate will be far worse if I cut her free now.”

“Worse?!”
Helda eye’s narrowed as her temper rose, ”Worse than being dragged to the marriage bed? My Lord, that can only mean one thing and one thing alone! Ra-”

Aldamir surged forward, his eyes flashing, and Helda eased back a step. Instinct drove her hand moved to a nearby hilt for never had she seen the prince as wroth as he was now. He radiated danger but then, with deeply resonant growl, he turned aside to skirt around her.

His voice was hoarse with effort, ”There are powerful forces at play, bigger than any of us.”

The prince's statement brought the exchange between the King and Lord Calimir to mind again. Helda frowned as their words bounced around her head. ”Who you marry cannot alter the blood in your veins.” Helda shook her head and lowered her gaze to the floor, ”The die is cast. Our Rhovanion blood will never be…enough.” When she looked up again, she saw that the prince appraised her frankly. Helda repeated what the King himself had said, "It our hearts, not our blood, that determines our quality. Good men do not do this, my prince!"

Aldamir raked his fingers through his hair and pressed out a sigh. ”My father must shore up support from those deemed…” The word he searched for made him grimace, ”Untainted. Lady Amarwen’s House traces its lineage to one of our greatest Kings. Of all those that support the Line of Kings, there are few as powerful.”

”A powerful foe to make, then,”
Helda’s bafflement showed on her face, ”And were I her, I’d loathe you.”

Aldamir nodded, and his voice was soft with regret. ”It turns my stomach. But...I cannot halt this betrothal. Her House has come to us for aid. If I release Amarwen now, it would be perilous for the realm and the Lady herself.”

“More perilous than last night?”
Helda challenged, sceptical.

“Amarwen’s fate should Master of Ships seize her will be far crueller, Helda. Of that I can assure you. And if there is anything to be learned from last night, it is how far he will go to take that which he wants.”

“How are you any different from him?”
the shieldmaiden demanded, jabbing an accusatory finger at Aldamir.

He lifted his head to meet her eyes, ”The betrothal proceeds but there will be no marriage. That can wait and it will.”

Helda frowned at that for it made little sense to her. ”You agree to wed all the while intending not to?”

Aldamir rubbed at his face, ”I will not allow anyone to force Amarwen of Edhellond to marriage.”

The shieldmaiden rocked on her heels and slowly nodded. ”Nor will I.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 2nd, 2018, 9:13 pm 
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Therald rubbed at his chin, his beard bristling his fingers, as he studied Halvarin. He was worried that the young man would go after his father. Clearly, if he read Halvarin’s posture correctly, he was sorely tempted to. Well could Therald understand such inclinations…though Halvarin’s outburst had startled him. He’d always been a quiet boy. Studious, attentive to his duties, determined to make his father proud despite how distant Calimir was. The young man that had swung at his father was different to the boy Therald had come to know over the years.

Aware of the staring crowd, Therald edged closer to where Halvarin stood. As best he could tell, he was the only person left that Halvarin knew.

”Don’t do it,” he urged the younger man in a low voice pitched for his ears and his alone, ”Don’t give him what he wants.”

Halvarin’s head swung at that and Therald found himself face to face with undisguised anger. He lifted a brow at it and braced himself. The lad needed somewhere to calm down and gather himself. He could not stay with his father and Therald knew Halvarin had few other places to go.

”You need a place to stay. Come, I’ve room for us both.”

To say his offer fell flat was an understatement. Halvarin’s eyes narrowed and Therald reached out to set a steadying hand on his shoulder.

Halvarin yanked himself back, ”This is all your doing too!”

Therald saw his fists ball and he stepped back. Stood to reason, he thought, that Amarwen would have turned to her dearest friend to seek solace. He held his hands high and open, ”You’re a loyal, Hal. I won’t fault you for that.”

Slowly he lowered his hands and he soberly regarded Halvarin before he looked to the palace itself, ”We both want the same thing.”

“I very much doubt that,”
Halvarin replied in a low growl.

”I care for her, Halvarin, in a way you cannot yet imagine,” Therald said softly as he looked back to the young Ensign, ”But she is important to you too. I know that you want her safe, Hal.”

Halvarin’s jaw bunched and Therald nodded to him, ”You know where to find me should you change your mind. My offer stands. You will always be welcome under my roof.”

Carefully, Therald stepped back, and took his leave. He did not know if Halvarin would take him up. He hoped that he did for Halvarin's sake. Amarwen's as well. For if he were able to convey the necessity of this to Halvarin, he knew that the lad would prove to be a powerful ally in swaying Amarwen. She listened to Halvarin. Trusted him. The two were as thick as thieves in each other's counsel. Halvarin could well be the key, Therald thought to himself.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 4th, 2018, 7:53 pm 
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As Rie-Zunic was called away to his daily duties, Almara was left in uncertainty. She had not contacted Calamir since being assigned to escort Amarwen out of the castle. She knew not what her standing was with the guildsmen at this point. It seemed her loyalties were shifting, without her will involved, from the guildsman to the crown. She only had throw her lot in with the powers that be, and she would be seen as loyal citizen without a blight on her record. Now that she was one of those who helped "rescue" the Lady Amarwen.

Rie-Zunic, on the other hand, felt his loyalties shifting as well. His own will aside, he knew not what turmoil was going on inside of him. The more things progressed the more questions he had. He remembered Amarwen's face when they left her at the palace. That dismal look of utter despair. The look haunted his mind, though he would not show it or tell it.

Rie-Zunic was walking through the palace as suddenly he heard voices.



”Don’t do it,” he urged the younger man in a low voice pitched for his ears and his alone, ”Don’t give him what he wants.”

Halvarin’s head swung at that and Therald found himself face to face with undisguised anger. He lifted a brow at it and braced himself. The lad needed somewhere to calm down and gather himself. He could not stay with his father and Therald knew Halvarin had few other places to go.

”You need a place to stay. Come, I’ve room for us both.”

To say his offer fell flat was an understatement. Halvarin’s eyes narrowed and Therald reached out to set a steadying hand on his shoulder.

Halvarin yanked himself back, ”This is all your doing too!”

Therald saw his fists ball and he stepped back. Stood to reason, he thought, that Amarwen would have turned to her dearest friend to seek solace. He held his hands high and open, ”You’re a loyal, Hal. I won’t fault you for that.”

Slowly he lowered his hands and he soberly regarded Halvarin before he looked to the palace itself, ”We both want the same thing.”

“I very much doubt that,” Halvarin replied in a low growl.

”I care for her, Halvarin, in a way you cannot yet imagine,” Therald said softly as he looked back to the young Ensign, ”But she is important to you too. I know that you want her safe, Hal.”

Halvarin’s jaw bunched and Therald nodded to him, ”You know where to find me should you change your mind. My offer stands. You will always be welcome under my roof.”


When the exchange had finished, Rie-Zunic still unnoticed by anyone present, he remained still on the other side of a doorway. He heard footsteps leaving.
The tensions between Halvarin, the crown, Therald, and even his own father... it just accentuated to Rie-Zunic how messed up this situation was.

He sighed and went on to his work. Now that he had received his promotion, most of his work was in the castle, and less out in the city. He was to see to all the security of the palace, make his rounds, question the other guards on their daily reports etc... He found it terribly dull, to be honest. He much preferred being out in the city and pursuing more... active tasks.



Almara, growing weary of being hold up in Rie-Zunic's small house, made her way towards the palace. She thought to find him and inform he that she would be taking a trip to the orphanage where she grew up. In all this madness it had been too long since she visited. Given instructions from a guard as to where Rie-Zunic was headed, she started through the palace.

A strange feeling came over her as she walked, and she realized she was following a very similar path as she had that night... the night she took Amarwen from the palace. She heard cold, if not hostile, voices coming from a nearby room, and she realized it was Amarwen and princess Farien. As the conversation seemed to come to a close, Almara hid herself, not even sure why. Farien walked past her as she stood motionless in hiding. Once the woman was gone she approached Amarwen's door and knocked softly.

"I thought we had concluded the matter," a cold response came from inside the room.

"It's Almara," the reply was sent.

Silence settled in for a long moment, but then the doors slowly slid open. Almara stepped inside the room, glancing behind her to be sure no one was watching.

"I can't go." Amarwen seemed to think Almara was here to take her away again.

"I- I'm not here for that..." Almara gave pause with her reply. "I heard... voices. I thought to see if all was well."

Amarwen's face fell with that question and she turned her back. Almara couldn't hear her crying, but she would swear that she could feel the tears and emotion sliding from the young woman's eyes and down her cheeks.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 6th, 2018, 4:41 pm 
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”All is…” Miserable…wretched…futile… Amarwen closed her eyes and clawed for composure. As she did so, she could feel the weight of Almara’s study at her back. Amarwen’s eyes opened to settle on the chair where the clothing in which she had arrived in had been set.

”Your nightdress and Rie-Zunic’s cloak will be returned to you once they have been laundered and repaired.” To her own ears her voice sounded flat, the edges frayed.

Almara’s hand came to rest gently on Amarwen’s shoulder.”I did not come to discuss the laundry either,”

Amarwen’s head turned and the two women silently regarded each other for a moment. ”Perhaps I should go,” Almara murmured.

Amarwen’s hand reached for Almara’s. ”Please….please don’t,” she whispered. ”Not yet. Can you stay?”

The woman nodded and Amarwen realised just how tightly she clung to Almara’s hand. She nodded, so grateful her throat had closed on her, and withdrew her hands to tuck her unbound hair behind her ears. Once that was done, Amarwen pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes.

”I am so tired…my skin crawls. It will not be still and nor can I.”

“How did it come to this?”
Almara asked.

Nodding to the chairs, the two women settled in. Almara selected a richly upholstered armchair whilst Amarwen perched on a chaise. She sat in thought as Almara looked about the rooms. There was little remarkable to note for Amarwen’s possessions were yet scant. She took it all in easily, noting the glass filled with water nearby.

Amarwen pressed out a sigh, ”My duty is clear. The more I struggle against it, the worse it becomes…Two heirs, and I am told my life will be mine again provided that I am discrete.” She shook her head from side to side. ”I cannot live that way and I cannot ask Ha…”

Amarwen’s voice trailed off as Princess Farien’s warning came to mind. It wasn’t just her people she was protecting, it was Halvarin as well. And to protect him, she would have to give him up. If she didn’t he’d be dragged down under the grinding weight of all of this, to his ruin. Grief welled within her anew and her head bowed as she struggled with it. She pressed out a shaking breath that was more of a sob. She heard movement and when she cracked her eyes she found a glass of water was held out to her.

”There must be a way,” Almara said quietly as she pressed the water into Amarwen’s hands.

The water shivered in Amarwen’s grip. Her whispered reply was bleak as a midwinter blizzard, ”I do not see it.” She sipped the water as Almara squeezed her shoulder, ”Why do I not see it?”

Another sip of water, ”I have been raised to serve my people. It is my life. My purpose. Why do I fight it now?” The water was half gone when it occurred to Amarwen to ask a more pressing question, ”Where did this water come from?”

Almara gestured to the table by the bed and Amarwen blanched. She looked down to the glass still in her hand. She could feel it creeping up on her. Slipping through her limbs and making short work of her empty stomach. Almara peered down at her in consternation. There was nothing to be done as Amarwen felt herself slip faster to the darkness.

She pressed the glass back into Almara’s hands with a warning, ”The healers…”

Almara’s brow furrowed at this cryptic message and she lifted the glass to sniff it. Her confusion eased as she detected the scent and there was a soft thud as Amarwen slipped from the lounge to the floor. She stared down at Amarwen, glass dangling from one hand, uncertain what to do next. Then she started when she heard movement at the door.

Aldamir frowned as he pressed in for a better vantage. He saw Amarwen folded on the floor at another woman’s feet, one arm outstretched and her hand limp. The woman was vaguely familiar.

”What is this? Who are you?” he asked as he pushed forward. The woman edged away as he came around the lounge.

”I’m her friend,” Almara said, ”I didn’t realise. I-“

Aldamir stooped to gather Amarwen up. She murmured something soft and indistinct as the Prince stood. He turned for the bed and carefully set Amarwen down upon it. She shivered and he reached for bedding to pull over her. The prince studied Amarwen for a long moment before he renewed his scrutiny of the woman he had found standing over her. Half a glass of water dangled from her hand still as she stared back at him.

He nodded to it, ”The healers, I take it?”

The woman’s head moved up and down in fervent agreement, ”I am her friend.”

“Yes,”
Aldamir said slowly and the prince looked back to Amarwen, ”Were you captured with her?”

“Yes.”

“Then you are to be thanked for assisting in her safe return.”

“Am I? The Lady does not seem pleased to be here.”


Aldamir’s attention returned to her and the woman swallowed as he raked a hand through his hair. ”Nor am I,” he admitted softly, as if concerned by who might overhear.

The woman he spoke with blinked at him with some surprise. “You do not want her?“

The prince sighed at the question, ”Not like this.” Saddened, Aldamir looked back to where Amarwen lay, ”I have no desire to be the Lady’s jailer.”

What might it be like, he wondered, to have Amarwen look into his eyes smile freely. For sheer joy and pleasure? What might her laughter be like to hear, having won it from it? She was young, yes, but he knew that she had a keen wit, a sharply curious mind, an untrammeled spirit. And she was beautiful. There was no denying that. He adjusted the covers slightly, pulling them down so that her feet were covered. Lost, momentarily, in his own thoughts, the prince rubbed at his aching jaw and reminded himself to unclench his teeth. He would put this to rights, somehow.

He and stepped away and turned to consider the woman, ”What is your name?”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 9th, 2018, 4:31 pm 
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"Almara," she introduced herself in a confident, yet soft voice. "My name is Almara."

"Almara..." Aldamir repeated. "I know that name. Where have I-" suddenly his gaze paused on her for the longest time. A look of wonder, then fear passed over his eyes. So briefly, though, that one might have missed it if they but blinked.

"You... know my-"

"Yes," Aldamir cut it quickly. "I must recall it from the tournament." This was clearly a lie, as his composure was far too casual given his original reaction.

Almara's interest was peaked now. Her mind drifted back to what Calamir had told her. Her mother. Her mother's name had also been Almara. According to what they had told her, Aldamir and her mother had been visiting each other and having an unsanctioned relationship. She wasn't sure whether to fear the topic, or to pursue it. Even as an adult, one could never stop asking themselves, "Why?" Why did her mother not want her? Why was she sent to the orphanage?

The awkward bit of silence thickened as Almara's thoughtful expression revealed that she knew more than Aldamir wanted her to.

"I... uh, should probably be on my way soon. I have duties to tend to," Aldamir announced. He walked to the door of the room. "Next time, do let someone know you are here. Just as a precaution."

"I will," Almara gave response. Aldamir turned to walk away, but Almara stopped him with yet another question. "How long will she sleep?"


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 10th, 2018, 12:14 am 
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His mind racing, it was difficult for Aldamir to attend to Almara's question properly. He was distracted and he knew it.

"Difficult to say," he replied and turned back to consider Almara. Her name was an uncommon one, but what could he mark in her features? Was it possible her mother was not whom he thought she may be? Was it mere happenstance that her path had crossed with that of the woman he was to wed? Aware that he was staring, the prince looked past Almara to the bed.

"I have to ask, did you see who your assailants were?"

Almara blinked at the sudden shift in topic but shook her head from side to side, "It all happened so quickly."

"Here,"
Aldamir pressed.

"Yes," Almara returned.

Word for word, uncannily so, matching Amarwen's account. It served to confirm for Aldamir the claim that Almara was indeed known to Amarwen. So well known that Almara had been here in Amarwen's rooms twice in as many days and the two had obviously conferred on the account to be given.

"I would expect the Lady to wake late afternoon. Some hours from now," he replied, a sudden return to the topic at hand. The prince rubbed at his jaw as an idea formed, "The Lady will soon be surrounded with companions. Ladies in waiting, all selected by my mother. Shieldmaidens chosen by my father." He eyed Almara and then turned away once more, "I would be more than pleased to sponsor a position at court for someone the Lady can trust."

Aldamir strolled out into the hall and hoped Almara would consider what had been dangled before her. His footfall rang over the polished marble underfoot slowly. As his thoughts coalesced into something of a plan, the prince picked his pace up. First, he would speak with the King and then it was time for a long discussion with his mother. He could sense her hand in much of this but if he was to keep his footing he would need to set a few things out with his grandfather. The one person in the realm his mother could not, yet, entirely overrun.



Meanwhile, Halvarin stood in the doorway of the room he had taken at the dockside inn. He'd intended to leave yesterday and the innkeeper was eager to collect the additional payment. But he had no further coin to rub together for another night. If he wanted, he could find passage on a boat headed south Pelargir. Return to his studies. Put Osgiliath behind him. Somehow. Or he could remain another night. Take Amarwen's father up on his offer. Somehow.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 11th, 2018, 8:36 pm 
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Almara was in a tizzy by the time Aldamir left, and it wasn't easy to do so to her. For a brief second it seemed like Aldamir knew her.mother somehow. How? But then he turned to more casual conversation and the topic at hand.

Then, to offer her a job? There at the castle, as one of Amarwen's ladies in waiting. She considered the situation carefully. She didn't wish to be tied down by such duties. She was too much of a free spirit. Yet, at the time, she was hardly free. If discovered by Calamir there would be pointed questions and harsh consequences for what had happened. Perhaps switching her allegiance to the crown would be the safest play. For what it was worth, Aldamir seemed to genuinely care for Amarwen. The other royalty, however, seemed nothing but political expedience.

Almara draped a soft sheet over Amarwen and said a silent farewell to her sleeping friend. Then, she continued on to find Rie-Zunic.

When she did find him, she was troubled by what she found. He wasn't at his post. He was listening in to a private conversation between Princess Farien and some other place official. Almara had enough sense to hide before any of hem saw her.

"It must be done," Farien stated flatly.

"I understand," the man replied.

"If she will not accept it," Farien continued, "There are ways of... Convincing her. It seems a certain young man is of interest to her. One whos relatives oppose the crown. Accidents happen. I pray it does not come to it, but we must be prepared. Just in case."

At that the two moved to another side of the room. The conversation lingered but could scarcely be heard. When it was over Farien walked out and went her way, followed by a man a short time later. Not just any man. A guildsman. A guildsman Almara knew as Girdean.


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