Frost and Thaw: 1. Despair

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1. Despair

White, not dazzling nor blinding but all-consuming, swallowed sky and rocks and trees. The low hanging clouds, the knee-deep snow, all seemed alike, and Arvedui's only indication that they were - most likely - still following the line of the Blue Mountains that now lay hidden behind the clouds was the icy wind that blew right into his face, as it had done all day, biting at his nose and ears, driving water into his eyes.

Half to seek reprieve from the stinging wind, half to see how his men fared, Arvedui turned around and gazed at the bent, dark figures with growing concern. Not a single word of complaint had any of them uttered, neither during their flight from the North Downs at break-neck speed, riding to ruin their horses, nor during the weeks of anxious waiting for any signs of pursuit, or lack thereof, in an abandoned Dwarf-mine. Worsening weather and dwindling supplies had driven them out of the shelter of the mine five days ago, and since then they had ever followed the line of the Blue Mountains, or what appeared to be that direction, in the dim hope of finding food and shelter with the strange people who dwelt at the inhospitable shore of the Bay of Forochel. The Snowmen, rumour had it, they called themselves; the Lossoth they were called by the Dúnedain. But little more than their name was known, for they were a secretive folk and not known to be friendly towards strangers. Yet they were no allies of the Witch-king of Angmar either - none of them had been among the forces that he had rallied and that had ultimately driven the Dúnedain out of their homeland and out of Fornost.

The memory of defeat still left a bitter taste, but Arvedui told himself, not for the first time, that they would not have been able to hold the North Downs throughout the Winter, at least not without reinforcement either from their southern kin or from the Elves of Mithlond. But as the timely arrival of such help before the unset of winter had been highly unlikely, they had been forced to abandon their position. Arvedui himself and the most trusted men of his personal guard had covered the retreat of the main troop and then had made off northward, which had seemed like an excellent plan at the time. In hindsight, however, with hunger gnawing at his innards and wearying his limbs, it seemed to Arvedui like nothing but an ill-fated endeavour from beginning to end.

That they would not escape the Witch-king's forces without loss had been predictable, that they would be stuck in a hole in the far end of the Blue Mountains until hunger and despair drove them further North had not. But they had found their way to the South blocked by early snow and land-slides and fell beasts at the Witch-king's command. To seek help with the Lossoth now was their only choice - ill-advised though it seemed given their hostility towards strangers - or to die trying. And die they would should they not find help soon. So many had already lost their lives. Not even a fortnight ago, Hirion, Arvedui's beloved brother, had breathed his last in Arvedui's arms, had finally succumbed to illness and the wounds he had suffered during their retreat, wounds that had never fully healed. Arvedui closed his eyes against the tightening in his throat and chest that came with the memory and against the sting in his eyes that was not solely caused by the biting wind. Only this morning had they discovered that Eäréd, battle-hardened soldier though he was, would not wake to see another day. Even though he had survived the summer's battles unscathed, survived the flight and the long weeks in the mines with nary a scratch, hunger and exhaustion and the icy wind had been too much for him in the end. Gazing at the bent forms of his men, hunched shadows against the bleak landscape, Arvedui wondered who would be next to follow Hirion and Eäréd, Galworn and ...

A harsh cry ended his musings, and his sword appeared in his hand without conscious thought. As one the Dúnedain warriors straightened, their swords gleaming dull in the greyish light, and pulled together in a close circle, shields raised, each trying to discern the source of the cry in the shapeless white. Thus they stood and listened, but the howling wind that had picked up in strength drowned out every other sound.

"Show yourself!" Arvedui cried at last, at the end of his patience and near the end of his strength. But only the wind answered, whirling up fine-powdered snow.

The waiting was maddening, but none of the men dared move, until, after several long minutes, Turandir bent closer to his King and whispered, "I can see something or someone ..."

"Where?" Arvedui whispered back without turning his head, eyes strained on the shapeless landscape.

"Almost ahead of us and a bit to the left," Turandir hissed in reply, and then Arvedui saw it, a small speck above the snow, like the tip of an arrow or spear. Arvedui let his eyes roam over the snow, and now that he knew what to look for, he could discern more such objects, to their left and right, to their front and back. They were surrounded.

Arvedui stifled a sigh as he pondered their choices. If those surrounding them were under the Witch-king's command, they would have long since attacked, for Arvedui and his men were clearly discernible as Dúnedain with their armoury and bright weapons and their finely woven, if somewhat worn, thick, grey cloaks, pinned above the left shoulder with a star-shaped brooch. Mayhap they had found the Lossoth, or some other folk that was not in league with the Witch-king. Arvedui took a deep breath, swallowing hard to fight down the urge to cough as the ice-cold air burned his lungs, and lowered his sword, fully aware that by this gesture, he put his fate and that of his men in the hands of those faceless opponents who had them surrounded, well concealed by the deep snow.

"Lower your weapons," Arvedui ordered without averting his eyes from where he deemed their opponents hidden. By the rustling of clothes and the soft clinking of weapons he could tell that they obeyed his command, as they had always done, without question. A pang of guilt surged through Arvedui as he once again felt the burden of command, and was reminded that by his word alone men would live or die.

He cleared his throat. "Show yourself! We mean you no harm!" he called out again.

Nothing happened. Just as Arvedui pondered whether the cry and the shapes in the snow had been nothing but a trick of the howling wind and his tired eyes, the sound of a whispered conversation drifted to his ears. He could not make out the words, for the language was strange, its sound harsh as the icy wind. Then a shape emerged from the snow, about ten paces ahead, a man, short and stocky, clad in thick garments made of fur, a short spear in one hand.

"Tall Men mean no harm but don't put away weapons," he said, in a halting and heavily-accented version of the Common Speech.

Arvedui regarded him closely. It was hard to tell whether he wore some sort of armoury beneath the thick garments, but the single spear he bore rather looked like a hunting-device than a weapon made for war. Deciding to take his chance, for they had no other option, Arvedui sheathed his sword and motioned for his men to do the same.

"I did not lie when I said we mean you no harm," Arvedui said wearily, and with growing dread he realised that the meagre daylight had begun to wane. Swallowing his pride, he added, "Rather we would ask for your help, for we are ill-equipped to survive in the cold and our supplies of food and firewood are running low."

His opponent remained quiet for a long while, then turned to his right and spoke rapidly in his own tongue to a comrade who lay hidden from Arvedui's eyes. The conversation went on for a time, while Arvedui stood listening, only too aware of the fading daylight, the dropping temperatures, and the increasing wind. He more felt than heard his men shift behind him, testimony to their weariness and increasing discomfort.

Just as Arvedui thought about repeating his plight, a second figure emerged from the snow, the one to whom the King's opponent had spoken. The second man was slightly taller than the first one, but older and had an air of authority about him.

"Tall Men ask for help but do not give their names," the second man chided.

"Forgive our lack of manners," Arvedui replied and bowed to the second man, who seemed to be the leader of the group they faced. "We have travelled far and are wearied by hunger and hardship. I am Arvedui son of Araphant, King of Arthedain, leader of the Dúnedain of Arnor. We were driven from our lands by the Witch-king of Angmar and had to flee North and hide in the mountains. But winter came upon us, and our path to the south is blocked, so we turned North to seek aid."

The sudden stiffening of the other's posture at his mentioning of the Witch-king had not escaped Arvedui's notice, but he could not yet tell whether that was a good sign or not, for even the Witch-king's allies feared him above all else. For now, the two strangers were again talking urgently among themselves.

At long last, the older man spoke again. "I am Nansen, grandfather of the clan." He paused as if seeking for the appropriate words, then spoke again. "Arvedui, foe of Hekskonge, the one you call Witch-king, asks great favour of the Snowmen."

"I am aware of how much we ask of you," Arvedui replied. "We cannot offer you much by way of payment, but your help will not go unrewarded." With these words Arvedui withdrew from the purse at his belt a golden ring that held a crown of six emeralds. Holding out the ring on his outstretched hand, Arvedui cautiously approached Nansen, trying to ignore the spear that Nansen's younger companion aimed at him.

With a bow he offered the jewel to Nansen, who took it and examined it thoroughly. To Arvedui's surprise, Nansen presently returned the ring. "Ring is pretty, but gives not warmth and fills not belly. Ring has no value to Snowmen."

Arvedui fought hard to not let his shoulders slump in defeat, but met Nansen's eyes squarely. "This and a few like jewels is all we can offer."

"Snowmen risk the wrath of Hekskonge if we help Arvedui. Hekskonge can make frost and thaw at his will."

"I do not think the Witch-king followed us this far," Arvedui replied. "Hopefully, he deems us long perished."

"The arm of Hekskonge is long, the eyes of Hekskonge see far. Snowmen will not risk his wrath," Nansen said, and there was something final to his voice and his stance as he folded his arms across his chest. "Arvedui, foe of Hekskonge, must seek help elsewhere."

Arvedui let his head drop with a sigh. This was it. This was the end. He was cold and exhausted, and his tired mind refused to provide alternative tactics to convince Nansen to aid them. If Nansen and his people would not help them now, they were doomed. Already the sky was darkening and they had no shelter for the night, no more wood for a fire to stave off the worst of the chill. Arvedui turned to his men and what he saw ate at his heart. Defeat and utter hopelessness was written upon every face, for they all knew that they would stand little to no chance to live out the night.

A sudden howl broke the pregnant silence and sent chills down Arvedui's spine. Before he could react, however, Telion, in spite of unhealed injuries, had whipped out his bow and set an arrow to the string, aiming at something behind Arvedui's back. "Wolves," the young man hissed, and Arvedui turned around with a feeling of dread. Would their ill luck never end?

What he saw made him freeze in his movements. Next to Nansen, less than four feet away the heads of three wolves had appeared. "Nansen, do not move!" Arvedui called out, his eyes never leaving the fell beasts.

"Young man must not shoot dogs!" Nansen cried, leaping in front of the beasts and reaching out with a thickly gloved hand to pat the head of the largest one. Arvedui could not believe his eyes. Who were those Snowmen that they were in league with wolves? Mayhap luck had not eluded them, and the Snowmen's refusal to help was a token of good fortune after all.

But then his sluggish mind registered Nansen's words at last. "Telion! Don't shoot!" he yelled in desperate hope that Telion's mind would work somewhat quicker than his own. "Those are dogs, not wolves!"

Telion stood poised to shoot, then blinked at long last. With a sheepish grin he lowered his bow and bowed to his king, his shoulders sagging as the tension left his body. Arvedui released the breath he had been holding. He was just about to apologise to Nansen for the overstrung behaviour of his men, when Telion's pale face turned even paler and his grey eyes rolled in the back of his head.

"No, not the young one!" Gildur called in dismay, catching the slumping body ere Telion could hit the ground. Arvedui reached his company with a few long strides and dropped onto his knees next to Gildur, who held the young man cradled against his chest. Arvedui quickly pulled off his glove and reached for Telion's neck, desperate to convince himself that the young man still lived. He found Telion's skin too clammy and his heart beating too fast for comfort, but the heart still beat after all.

Arvedui felt someone step closer and to his surprise found Nansen standing next to him. The Snowman leader leaned over the unconscious figure of the young soldier, closely scrutinising every tear and rent in the other's clothing until his eyes came to rest upon the blood-stained bandage that was wound about the young man's left leg. He turned questioning eyes to Arvedui. "The young bow-man is hurt?"

Arvedui nodded by way of an answer. "Yes. Some of my men were attacked by wolves while hunting, about a week ago. Two were killed and two were injured, only one escaped unscathed." He sat back on his heels, head bowed with weariness and defeat. "We cannot seek help elsewhere," Arvedui said, speaking more to himself than to Nansen. "We no longer have the strength. I no longer have the strength ..."

Another urgent debate in the strange tongue of the Snowmen brought Arvedui from his stupor. The younger man had followed Nansen into the group of Dúnedain and the two were again locked in a heated discussion. The younger man gestured emphatically, pointing in turns at the Dúnedain and at the darkening landscape, while Nansen remained calm, arms folded across his chest, shaking his head ever so often. Arvedui could only guess at the topic of their debate, but after several minutes, the younger man raised his hands in a gesture of defeat, shouted a command in the howling wind and folded his arms across his chest as well.

Arvedui raised questioning eyes to Nansen. The older man looked down upon the kneeling king and studied him closely before he spoke at length. "Daughter's husband Reidar does not trust Arvedui, foe of Hekskonge. But Arvedui and young bow-man will be dead by morning without shelter. Nansen does not know if the Snowmen can help Arvedui for the entire winter. The clan must decide. For tonight, the Snowmen will help Arvedui. Come." With those words Nansen turned and called something to the other three men who had emerged from their hiding places at Reidar's command.

Arvedui rose stiffly, swaying as a bout of dizziness assailed him. A hand on his arm steadied him, and he found Boracuil, trusted Captain of his guard, at his side. "You heard what he said?" Arvedui asked, and Boracuil nodded, not releasing the grip on his king's arm. "Someone has to carry Telion," Arvedui went on, letting his eyes sweep over the ragged band of men that had once been the pride of Arthedain's army, trying to determine who had enough strength left to bear the injured young man.

"Snowmen will put young bow-man on the sliding cart. The dogs will pull the cart back to the camp of the clan," Nansen said, then called out something to his men. The wolf-like dogs sprang forward at the command of one of the Snowmen, pulling a strange looking structure - a frame made of bone with a covering of skins - easily over the snow and the low rise behind which they had lain hidden. At once Reidar and the other busied themselves with the load of the sliding cart, clearing space for the injured Dúnadain. Shooting mistrustful glances at Gildur, they took the young man from his arms, wrapped him in a thick fur blanket and secured him on the cart. Then the driver picked up what seemed to be the reins, stepped upon the back of the bone structure and called out to the dogs. Immediately they sprang forward, barking and yelping and eager to go home.

"Come, Arvedui, foe of Hekskonge," Nansen called, laying a hand upon Arvedui's arm. "The camp of the clan is not far." Still not quite believing that his ill fate seemed to have come to an end at last, Arvedui wrapped his cloak tighter about him and followed Nansen and his men into the gathering dark.

***

The sight that greeted Arvedui less than half an hour later was not what he had expected, to say the least. Not even Rivendell had evinced such a peaceful beauty as the assembly of softly glowing mounds did that lay in a shallow dale before them. Their warm light promised warmth and shelter and proved a comforting contrast against the darkening sky that spread like a shroud of dark velvet over the contourless landscape. The dogs, too, sensed that home was near. Their barking and yelping increased, as did their speed, and soon the sliding cart bearing Telion had reached the flat area surrounded by the glowing mounds. The men on foot reached that place only a short time later, and Arvedui heard more than one of his companions sigh in relief.

But the sense of peace and comfort did not last long. One of their guides gave a shout and presently the place came alive with people. At first glance, they all looked alike, clad in the same thick, fur-covered garments. Only the children stood out, being less tall than their parents, and less hostile as well. Arvedui found himself under close scrutiny of several pairs of dark, curious eyes, and while a heated debate broke out among the adults, the children whispered among themselves before breaking out in fits of giggles, pointing unconcernedly at Arvedui and his men.

Arvedui knew not whether to be amused or offended at the children's antics, so he gave them a lopsided grin in reply, which send them off into more fits of giggles. So enraptured was he by the children's delight that he failed to notice the hostile glares shot at him by the elder Lossoth. One of them gave a shout, and with drooped shoulders and disappointment clearly visible on small faces almost hidden by fur-lined hoods, the children vanished into the glowing mounds.

Arvedui sighed. When Nansen had agreed to help them for the night, he had thought that the affair was settled. Since Nansen appeared to be the leader of the Lossoth clan, Arvedui had thought that the decision whether to grant the Dúnedain shelter or not was his to make. But the commotion around him gave ample proof that the situation was far from being solved. Nansen, who stood next to him, was engaged in a heated discussion with several members of the clan, among them two of the hunters.

So Arvedui chose to listen, for he deemed it unwise to interrupt the debate, and tried to gauge the course of the argument by other signs than the words that were exchanged. But he found it increasingly difficult to discern the faces of the opposing parties, since night had come at last.

Arvedui unconsciously shifted his weight for the third time since the debate had started. Catching himself in the act, he cursed under his breath for giving away his growing impatience. That he was unable to hide it was probably the most noticeable testament to his exhaustion, even more so than the ache in his legs and back. For as one considered not unskilled in the art of diplomacy and statecraft, mere instinct should have prevented him from revealing emotions that might hinder the success of negotiations. But he could not help it now, and since the Lossoth would be well aware of the Dúnedain's desperation, he might as well act upon it.

As soon as Nansen ceased to speak, Arvedui cleared his throat in an attempt to gain his attention in as polite a way as he could think of. "Pray excuse my interference, but if there is a problem ..."

Nansen turned around, away from the exchange between one of the hunters and one of the other members of the clan. With a cock of his head, he said, "Of course, the Snowmen have a problem, Arvedui. The hunt has not gone well and winter has come early. Giving food to ten and four more men is not easy for the Snowmen. Snowmen children are hungry, too."

Arvedui nodded, trying to mask disappointment and growing despair by the gesture. "We do not require much. A warm place for the night would be more than we could hope for."

Nansen gave a sigh. "Another problem. The clan is small, has only nine snow-houses. Not much room for ten and four more men."

For a moment, Arvedui thought his ears had deceived him. Had Nansen really described their glowing homes as snow-houses? "Your homes are made of snow?" he asked, not quite able to hide his disbelief.

Nansen chuckled at Arvedui's obvious astonishment, "Yes, the homes of the Snowmen are made of snow."

Arvedui was not quite aware that he utterly failed to hide his disappointment, and was startled as he felt Nansen's gloved hand upon his arm. With a twinkle in his dark eyes, Nansen laughed, "Our homes are made of snow, but the Snowmen need warmth as well. You will see."

With a shake of his head and a somewhat sheepish grin, Arvedui said, "I am sorry, I meant no offence ..."

Nansen was clearly amused by Arvedui's reaction and turned to his own people again, speaking in his own tongue. There was a ring of humour in his voice and Arvedui felt somewhat embarrassed.

Whatever Nansen said was answered with chuckles in return that spoke of genuine amusement rather than of gloating at Arvedui's expenses. Not that Arvedui could tell the difference, but the tension among the members of the clan that had been tangible only moments before seemed to dissolve into the chilly night air like the steam of breath from Arvedui's mouth.

Yet the sudden outburst of mirth did not replace a certain wariness, and some hostile glares remained as well. As he stood there and studied the assembled Lossoth clan, trying to ignore the cold creeping from his numb toes up his legs, Arvedui became aware that the wary glances were not directed at him or his Men themselves. It was the weapons they wore that were the object of the Lossoth's concern.

Arvedui could have slapped himself at the realisation. Ragged though they were, they were still clad in the garb of the King's guard and were armed for war. That and their superior height should be enough to unsettle most people, even those known to be more friendly towards strangers than the Lossoth.

Turning again to Nansen, Arvedui asked, "Would it settle your concerns if we handed over our weapons?"

Nansen regarded Arvedui with a raised brow, pondering the offer. After a while he turned to his people and spoke again. One by one they gave a curt answer, though Arvedui could only guess whether they spoke in the Dúnedain's favour or not. Once they had all voiced their opinion, Nansen looked up at Arvedui, cocked his head and said with a small smile, "The Snowmen prefer Tall Men without their weapons."

Arvedui replied with a polite nod and an inward sigh. Had he been more alert, they could have settled the entire affair half an hour ago and would by now be safely settled and thawing their frozen limbs. Turning to his men, he said, "You heard what he said. Remove your weapons and put them down before Nansen. But do so slowly and deliver them one by one. We would not appear to pose a threat to our hosts." And with deliberately slow movements, Arvedui unbuckled his own sword and laid it in the snow at Nansen's feet. One by one his men followed his example, putting down swords and bows and spears, occasionally shooting cautious glances at the members of the Lossoth-clan that stood around them.

As the last half-filled quiver was placed upon the ground, Nansen again addressed his people, but whatever he had said, he received no answer. He waited for several moments, and Arvedui silently marvelled at his patience. Then Nansen spoke again. This time his request was answered, but Arvedui doubted that Nansen had received the answer that he had expected. Two of the hunters had spoken and both now stood with their feet apart, arms folded in front of their chests, glaring at Arvedui and his men with open hostility. But then, after a few moments of hesitation, another of the hunters spoke. His words elicited quite a response from the other two, for they barked back at him as if they had just been slighted. Yet Nansen only chuckled softly at their replies, and Arvedui thought he had seen a glint of appreciation in Nansen's eyes directed at the one who had provoked the other two.

While the three hunters argued loudly among themselves, Nansen spoke in a much quieter voice to the remainder of his clan. After another short exchange of words, though much less emotional than the previous one, Nansen turned to Arvedui with that familiar cock of his head and announced with an open smile, "The Snowmen have agreed to allow the Tall Men into their homes. Arvedui can stay in Nansen's home, and the young bow-man as well. Savea, my wife, is the healer of the clan. She will know how to help the young bow-man. And Nansen has room for one more man."

Arvedui felt his knees grow weak with relief. He bowed to Nansen, then said, "I thank you for your kindness. If you agree, I would ask Dinuir to stay with us as well. He is the healer of our group and I fear Telion will need all the aid he can get."

"So be it," said Nansen in reply, and Dinuir who knelt next to the sliding cart bearing Telion, and acknowledged his King's request with a nod.

"Two men will stay with Markku, my son," Nansen went on. "Two will stay with Reidar and two with Egli. But Egli wants to chose his guests."

Arvedui nodded in agreement, and Nansen motioned for one of the hunters who had openly opposed Nansen's offer to the Dúnedain to step forward. Arvedui wondered how he had been persuaded to allow not only one but two of the strangers into his home, and made a mental note to ask Nansen about it at some later time. For now Egli swept his gaze over the assembled Dúnedain, then pointed at Gildur, who knelt next to the sliding cart as well. "You stay with Egli tonight," he declared, then continued his search for a suitable companion.

"And you," Egli announced at length, pointing into the crowd of Dúnedain. Arvedui could hardly stifle a groan.

With a hopefully indiscernible nudge he tried to silence his chuckling second in command, but Boracuil only whispered, "He could hardly have chosen a better pair."

"Gildur, Romendil, a word, if you please," Arvedui called to Egli's guests of choice. Of course, Egli could not have known, but he had picked with unfailing certainty the two among his men who were known to be like fire and water and hardly managed more than half an hour within each other's company without breaking into a battle of words.

Switching to Sindarin so as not to offend their hosts, Arvedui hissed, "I would not have put the two of you together, as you well know. As it is, I have no say in the matter. But refrain from your usual quibbling! If only for this one night."

The looks he received by way of an answer spoke for themselves. Neither Gildur nor Romendil were well pleased at the reminder, but they had the good grace to keep quiet. With a bow to their King, they turned and followed Egli to the snow-house that was his home.

Turning away from the most troublesome among his men, he found himself under Nansen's scrutiny. "Is there a problem?" Nansen asked, amusement sparkling in his eyes.

Arvedui tiredly rubbed his eyes, then shook his head. "Nay, there should be no problem. It is just ..." he paused for a moment, then shook his head. "Never mind. Are there more who wish to chose their guests for themselves?"

Nansen accepted Arvedui's change of subject without further comment, but spoke in his own tongue again. The hunter who had stood next to Egli - Reidar, Nansen had called him - stepped forward next and repeated Egli's spectacle of choosing his guests. So as not to let Gildur and Romendil stand out, Arvedui repeated his earlier actions, calling those that had been chosen. "Boracuil, Lhaeghen," he said, again switching to Sindarin. "You know what I expect of you."

Sketching a bow, they acknowledged the unspoken command, then turned to follow their host. Arvedui did not fail to notice Nansen's relieved sigh as the two hunters had disappeared with their guests in tow. "Dividing the rest of your men is easier. Two men will stay with Markku, and two with Kirk. Stian and Ingo will sleep with the family of Stian, so two or three men can sleep in home of Stian and Ingo."

"Good." Arvedui let his eyes sweep over the rest of his men who stood behind him. "Turandir, Angahûn, Thalanur," he called, then waited until the three approached. "Will you be fine on your own?" he asked in Sindarin.

As the three nodded in answer, one of the Lossoth who had not been among the hunters stepped forward. "I am Stian," he said in the same halting and heavily accented speech as Nansen. "Come, I show you the way." With a bow to their King the three turned and left, following Stian into the night.

Arvedui regarded the remaining men, then chose Belegond and Lhandiriel to stay with the hunter Nansen had called Kirk, and Formendacil and Manomir to go with Markku, Nansen's son. But before Arvedui could summon his men to continue with his impromptu ritual, he found Nansen's hand upon his arm. Once assured that he had Arvedui's attention, Nansen beckoned him to lean closer, and whispered, "Arvedui, please tell your men not be offended. Kirk has a wife but no children. He is very ashamed because of that. He does not want the Tall Men to know ..."

Arvedui blinked, not quite understanding Nansen's obvious concern but nodded to appease him before calling Belegond and Lhandiriel to him. In Sindarin he told them what Nansen had said about Kirk's predicament, and asked them to act with caution lest they humiliate their host. Like the others before them they bowed and turned, following their host without further words.

Arvedui repeated the procedure one more time, bidding Formendacil and Manomir good night, which they acknowledged with a grin and a bow, before following Markku into his home.

Which left only Arvedui, Dinuir and Telion among several Lossoth who presently busied themselves with unloading the sliding cart and releasing the dogs. "Come, Arvedui, foe of Hekskonge," Nansen said, "this night you will learn the comfort of a snow-house."

***

To be continued ...

*******

A/N:

Hekskonge: Witch-king in the language of the Snowmen.

Written by Wolfwind & fliewatuet
Posted: 2004-11-23

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: fliewatuet

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/10/05

Original Post: 11/23/04

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