22. Road to Lothlórien
After a day of riding and then tramping about the dusty streets and alleyways of Edoras with Éomer, Éowyn and Lothíriel had been delighted to take long baths. They lingered over details of their dress and fussed with each other's hair.
Éowyn chose a dark, emerald green gown and Lothíriel one of the palest blue, reasoning that the contrast of their raiment with their light and dark hair became them greatly. They giggled in front of Éowyn's mirror before agreeing, that in all of Rohan and Gondor, two fairer women could not be found. Lothíriel suspected that time spent on such frivolous nonsense, a familiar part of her youth, was a novel experience for Éowyn and the thought flooded her with tenderness for her sister-to-be, wishes for her happiness and an easier future.
Éowyn and Lothíriel entered the hall together still whispering conspiratorially. The last evening in the Meduseld had arrived quickly for Lothíriel. The hall appeared much less crowded than the previous night. And she knew more people now and had begun to feel quite comfortable here.
At the sight of the two young women, the entire coterie of northern rangers shuffled to their feet and nodded in their direction, a gesture of innate courtliness, which, to Lothíriel, represented as great a contrast to their simple, rough garb as did their classic, Númenórean fine looks. Éowyn and Lothíriel smiled at one another before nodding back.
Éowyn whispered, "Lovely men."
Lothíriel laughed softly and replied, "Well, you snagged yourself one didn't you? If a slightly more Elvish and better dressed one. But the type runs true. Where I grew up we heard Dúnedain still lived in the North, but never saw any of them."
Just then Lothíriel spotted Elladan and Elrohir entering the well-lit, hall from the kitchen area following two young kitchen helpers wrestling an huge ale barrel. Elrohir gave a self-satisfied point at the barrel and shot a broad grin in the direction of a table of Riders who broke out in whistles of appreciation, before he leaned to say something to Elladan who laughed loudly in response.
He certainly looks cheerful enough when he does not know I am around.
Scanning the long hall for Éomer, Lothíriel suddenly felt ill-tempered and annoyed. The entire visit had tantalized and frustrated her both with its brevity and the unanticipated wrinkles to her peace of mind she had encountered. She expected Éomer would be waiting for her, anxious that they spend every last possible moment together, but she did not see him anywhere. After they had taken their places at the main table a servant came up to Éowyn.
"My lady, Éomer King left word that you and the Princess should not wait for him. He was called away and will return shortly. Shall we serve dinner now?"
Éowyn exchanged a quick glance with Lothíriel and responded, "Yes, please, if you would. We are ready."
The dinner was served and eaten, although little of it by Lothíriel, who attempted to engage in conversation, smiling until she felt her face would crack from the artificiality of it all. But years in court left her well-prepared for just such eventualities. Once again Elrohir, as he had in the past, behaved in a solicitous, brotherly manner and attempted to distract her. Whether he did so on behalf of his absent friend, from his own innate generosity, or to make up for his brother's still firmly-maintained distance, she did not know or care, but accepted his attention gratefully.
Finally, late in the evening, after Éowyn had grown visibly aggravated and Lothíriel held onto to her forced, public amiability by a thread, a noisy commotion drew their attention to door. Éomer strode into the hall. Those remaining struggled to their feet as their king passed by them, motioning all to sit, grasping many Riders by the forearms in greeting and slapping others on their backs.
Lothíriel noticed with pleasure that Éowyn scowled outright at her brother. She herself presented him a narrow-eyed, tight-lipped smile that she hoped looked dangerous. His tall graceful form, handsome face, golden hair gleaming in the lamp light, his long athletic stride, and usual good-natured smile pleased her not at all at that moment, but rather added to her long pent-up annoyance.
"My love, forgive me," Éomer said, rounding the long table and taking Lothíriel's hand and kissing it in a gesture of ostentatious courtliness.
"Elbereth apparently looks after you. If you had arrived much later, I would have…" Lothíriel snapped, her words interrupted by his finger placed upon her lips.
"Shhh. I said I was sorry. I hurried as fast as I could," Éomer said, his azure eyes wide with, to her at least, an unconvincing display of innocence.
"Where have you been that was so important you left me here to sit alone at your table without any word and return sodden drunk?"
A lopsided grin broke across his endearingly comely face. "Nay, sweetheart, I am not drunk. And I am back now and completely yours. I went to see Hilda. She asked to have a word with me."
"How lovely for you. And how fortunate for her that you could rush off at her beckoning leaving your guests unattended…" This time Éomer silenced her with a light kiss and a consciously seductive smile.
"Has no one told the wench that drinking is ill-advised for one carrying a child?" she continued when he released her, refusing to be put off.
"I'm afraid I did the drinking, love. Be at peace. She leaves at dawn for the Eastfold with her family. You will be troubled no more by her presence."
"Nor you by mine, as I leave in the morning as well," she said, ruing the pout she could not control and her relief to have him back in whatever state.
"I know, love. We have wasted too much time already. Will you come with me?" He pulled her up guiding her away from the table and toward the staircase. It seemed pointless to resist. Her curiosity and desire overpowered her exasperation. Any niggling doubts about him were momentarily overwhelmed by his physical closeness.
When they reached his bedchamber, Éomer pulled an object from his pocket and thrust it toward her. She took it--a gold ring, resting heavy on her palm, set with a large red gem.
"She gave me this. It belonged to Théodred. He thought he lost it. She wanted me to have it and to apologize for treating me so coldly before."
"Indeed, and to behave more warmly?" Lothíriel said, feeling a keen stab of jealousy.
"Quite to the contrary. Simply to part on better terms and to return the ring. It is an heirloom to be passed from one heir to the throne to the next. I believe that if she thought the child was either Theodred's or my own she might have felt some right to it."
"That occupied four or more hours? Did you kiss her a fond farewell?"
"Self-righteousness is not pretty. Virtue based on lack of opportunity is virtue untested, Lothíriel," he said, his tone was no longer soft or patient. She wished she could start over again and guide the discussion in another direction.
"What will you do with the ring?" she asked, floundering for a response.
"I would safeguard it for our son--yours and mine. Do not try to change the subject so easily. Do you think I notice nothing? That I do not see the unresolved tension between you and Elladan?"
"I have done nothing. A stray thought here and there is not what matters, but what I do. You on the other hand have been out cavorting with the most bold of your seemingly numerous former lovers, while I sit alone at the head table in your great hall looking a complete fool." Lothíriel said, with more vehemence than she had intended. She felt both injured and dishonest. Although she had told no lies, she felt her protestations of innocence were less than forthright.
"I thought of taking you or Éowyn with me, but realized that would be cruel. I did leave word. You and Éowyn were bathing when I left. I was gone longer than I expected, but that had nothing to do with her or you…I just needed to be alone for a while. The whole discussion made me think of Théodred. I was not ready to face a crowded hall." His explanation contained no note of defensiveness.
"I am sorry if you believe I showed disrespect to you by my actions tonight. It was not taken that way here I assure you."
"I am sorry, Éomer..." He placed his fingers lightly against her lips, sparking a familiar flicker of desire in her. A crinkle around his eyes, a gentle lift of the corners of his mouth revealed his awareness of the unintentional effect on her of his touch. Although his voice turned husky, he continued to speak.
"Shhh. Just listen for a moment. The gossip in these parts--none that I know to be malicious--centers on how obviously smitten the king is with his pretty Gondorian princess. That I cannot keep my hands off of you. I do not appear to my people to have the upper hand in this match. Though it matters naught to me what any think. I regret nothing."
She could not resist a giggle "Then they apparently do not know what a hero all of Gondor considers you and how romantic a figure you present to every unmarried Gondorian noblewoman. I know who took the prize in this case."
"Nonsense," he said, capturing her in a kiss that seemed designed to undermine any vestige of remaining ire on her part.
Finally pulling free of his lips, she answered, "I love you, Éomer. I was so jealous and worried and I spent such a long time trying to look especially nice for our last night here." Her remarks sounded petty and childish to her and she felt herself melting into the heat of him as he pulled her closer again.
"Then you need only tell me how to behave in court--come to meals on time, that sort of thing. Even the cook tells me that I am hopeless. But I do learn quickly with suitable motivation," he said, smiling sweetly before beginning to kiss her, with no apparent intention of continuing the discussion. In that moment Lothíriel put aside the anxiety that Éomer's mention of his name caused her. Yet she knew this was a discussion they were destined to have again and again unless she could take control of her ambivalent feelings for Elladan.
As their party prepared to depart the following morning Éomer appeared cheerful, energetic and untroubled. Lothíriel fretted, uneasy and unsettled, that too much had been left unconcluded and unspoken between her and Éomer, but his light-hearted good humor caused her to throw her doubts aside. Finally, at the last possible moment she pulled him to one side.
"I could stay. I need not leave. I can return to Minas Tirith with you and Éowyn shortly after midsummer," she said.
"No, love, we discussed this at length and all agreed you would go to Lothlórien. You will never have another chance. Perhaps it is for the best that we have a few weeks apart. We have been together every day since you arrived at Cormallen. You need have no worry for me. I will be occupied entirely with affairs that are new and difficult for me."
"We could say I was unwell when the others needed to leave..." she began.
"Do not be foolish. Besides you have told us frequently that you are never sick. Kiss me and give me a smile to remember. The time will pass swiftly." And so she did and they were off.
The Road to Lothlórien
Two days out of Edoras, the terrain began to change, and the open grasslands gave way first to a sparsely and then more thickly wooded landscape. The weeks before Éomer could return to Minas Tirith stretched out before her in comparison to the short days she had spent in the Meduseld.
She missed the constant good-natured banter between Éomer and Éowyn that she enjoyed on the long ride from Minas Tirith to Edoras. Doubtless the visit to the legendary enclave of Lothlórien would distract her, make their separation easier to bear. She looked forward to meeting Aragorn's betrothed. If Arwen Undómiel resembles her siblings at all it is possible the rumors she is as beautiful as Lúthien are true.
As they rode she talked at length with Elrohir about his family and his earlier life, which also meant she learned details about Elladan that she had not known. Elrohir spoke of how he had been drawn to music while his brother shared his father's talent for healing, but they had both excelled at arms and events eventually led them to that pursuit nearly to the exclusion of all others. He did not speak of their obsessive seeking for revenge after the tragic events which led to the departure of their mother. But she knew of that already.
She rode silently next to Elrohir, who appeared to be lost in his own reverie—sleeping, thinking—she could not tell. The sun was strong, the road dusty, and the landscape grew monotonous. Hot, tired, and bored, she wished Elrohir would sing again. She loved it when he sang the old songs in his rich baritone. In Legolas's glowing tenor these stories lingered in one's memory as misty legends: heart-wrenchingly beautiful, but their protagonists remained untouchable and remote to her. Elrohir's renditions of the same adventures, sorrows, and ill-fated lovers took on drama and pathos. Heroes and villains of flesh and blood populated them. As a child she had loved the tales of the Elf-minstrels, who could bring their songs to life before the eyes of those who listen. She doubted the truth of such accounts, but Elrohir surely transmitted raw emotion, a sense of vibrancy and freshness to oft-told tales.
Elrohir's genial and comforting presence reminded Lothíriel of her easy closeness to her brother Amrothos. Yet, strangely, Elladan, so like his brother in appearance, elicited completely opposite and thoroughly disquieting emotions within her. Although she made an earnest effort to stop endlessly cataloging the differences and similarities between the two brothers, she failed dramatically.
Elrohir yawned softly in a very un-Elflike manner, turning his head in her direction. "You look dreamy and distracted, princess. Of what are you thinking?"
"Actually, I was thinking of you. Of how well you sing," she answered.
Elrohir laughed loud. "Elladan thinks you are enamored of Legolas's singing," he said with a smirk.
"Oh, your brother is quite a fool at times. Of course I like our friend's singing. He has a charming voice and loves to sing. I was speaking of a less definable quality that I enjoy in yours."
"Legolas's voice is clearer and purer than mine, a greater natural talent, and he had no formal training, whereas I have had," Elrohir said, without a hint of envy. "Reminds me of a funny story. My father once told me that my singing reminded him of Maglor."
"Seriously? What a compliment."
"I thought so. So, I asked him if my voice truly resembled Maglor's and he said 'Not at all. There is none that can compare. But you do occasionally capture a similar emotional intensity.'" Elrohir laughed again. "My dreams of being a great singer were crushed, but I also experienced my first, and I think only, moment of unmitigated Noldor pride."
"That is not such a funny story."
"Oh, there is more. Elladan teased me about it for months. Then when we next saw our grandmother, he asks, 'It is said that Daeron, minstrel to Thingol, was the greatest singer among the Eldar and Maglor second to him. You heard them both. What do you say?' Galadriel answers, 'There can be no argument. Macalaurë was far better.' Then grandfather chokes on his wine laughing."
Lothíriel let loose with a peal of laughter. She noticed that Elladan, several horses ahead of them down the path, turned to look back. But Elrohir did the voices and intonation of his grandmother and Elladan so well, that she could not spare her attention to fret over his brother at that moment.
"There is still more. It gets worse for me," Elrohir chuckled and continued. "So, Elladan still not satisfied said, 'Ada says that Elrohir sings like Maglor.' Then grandmother gives him this look she has, perhaps you will see it, and says, 'Well, he has not the voice, but he does have a certain vitality.' Ever since then, if he hears anyone compliment my singing, he cracks up laughing and says, 'He does have a certain vitality.'"
Lothíriel could not resist laughing but said, "Elladan is cruel sometimes."
"Not cruel. If one cannot trust one's twin to keep one honest about oneself, who can one trust? Lothíriel, if you wish to make peace with Elladan, you need only ride ahead and speak with him. He will not approach you, for fear of antagonizing you further. I think he will gladly accept any terms of truce that you offer."
"I want to be friends again with Elladan. I dislike this tension. But every conversation between us ends with one of us saying or doing something to anger or upset the other," she answered, surprised at the sadness she heard in her own voice.
"My brother often disturbs me as well." Elrohir laughed. "I know he regrets frightening you away. Being in the presence of the two of you together discomforts our entire party, especially now that it is smaller. Ignoring the proverbial mûmak in the room becomes tiresome."
"I will not apologize," Lothíriel said, looking directly at Elrohir.
"Oh, Lothíriel, when you raise your eyebrows and stick your chin out like that, you look exactly like Arwen when she was young and annoyed." Elrohir laughed and Lothíriel's sensitive Rohirric mare whinnied softly and shook her head as though in defense of her mistress.
Elrohir could not restrain another laugh. "I will not take sides," he said. "You match one another in stubbornness and testiness."
"Do you think that I should speak with him?"
"I think you should do what you want to do. I can assure you he will welcome an overture from you. I think both of you would be less agitated, and easier to be around, if you spoke to him. He is incapable at this point of approaching you—partially injured pride, or perhaps some self-deceptive concept of righteousness."
"Then I will," she said. Giving her mare a little nudge, she moved forward before she could change her mind. She reached Elladan quickly and slowed her horse to walk along side of his.
"Elladan, may I speak with you?" He stiffened. The princess gave a quick smile and what she hoped was a polite nod to the ranger who rode beside him. The Dúnadan returned the gesture and dropped back to permit them privacy, while Elladan and Lothíriel pulled ahead a bit.
"I am listening," he said, inscrutable. His voice rising, he added, "My brother sent you. He fancies himself a peacemaker and meddles in things he does not always understand. Those who love him learned that many yeni ago." The soft humorless laugh he released contained none of the undercurrent of mockery she feared, despite his harsh words.
"He did speak with me, but I am here because I want to be. It grieves me that we cannot talk."
"That is not true. I do speak with you, multiple times a day," he answered.
"Indeed. 'Good morning.' 'Good afternoon.' 'I beg your pardon, milady.' "Not exactly my idea of amiable discourse." After a pause, she looked directly at Elladan, trying to catch his eye. "This is utter nonsense. I want us to be friends again."
"Were we friends? I do not recall we ever truly were. Be at ease, Lothíriel. I do not need or welcome your sympathy." He returned her look, narrowing his eyes. When she did not look away, he finally sighed and spoke again in a lower and softer voice. "No one ever died of unrequited love—not even Elves—that is artistic drivel invented by minstrels to gain the regard of tenderhearted young women. In any case, I am no true Elf," he said, "Am only a Man, with all of the infuriating, but short-lived passions of one." His laugh already sounded lighter.
As he held her gaze, an errant breeze lifted several stands of black hair blowing them across his face. She resisted with difficulty the desire to brush them aside, to touch his lips. Nothing has changed for me, nor, I think, for him. "You never spoke of love, only of desire."
"No wonder you think so little of me, if you believe I would seek the attention of such a young woman on the basis of lust alone." His expression shaded into seriousness, but tender rather than grim.
Awareness of the controlled sensuality that first drew her to him, swept over her, along with painful memories of the adorable rascal, who had once used polite inanities with her to cover what she viewed as roguish purposes. She struggled against her quick responses to his seductiveness, recalling how easily he captivated her.
"I am not sure what I thought. But I know how I felt." Overwhelmed, terrified and utterly fascinated.
"Second thoughts already, Lothíriel?" he said, leaning closer to her, his silky voice entrancing her.
"No. I accept defeat. My fate is to be ever troubled by my responses to you, but I will accept that discomfort for the sake of your friendship, despite your fraudulent and impertinent denial of its existence," she answered, lifting her chin in defiance of his formidable charm.
"I lied, of course, another peredhil trick. Elves do not lie," he said and, to her surprise, winked. "Friends it will be then." The smile that finally entirely encompassed his pewter eyes was dazzling.
"Friends," she said without relief, but allowing herself a smile. Is this the same arrogant Elf lord, or some other kinder, easier being?
"So, my good friend, does it go well between you and your golden warrior king?" he asked obviously feigning heedlessness.
"Elladan, you do not give me even a five-minute respite." I am certainly not going to tell him now that they could be going better. That would be madness.
"Just testing the boundaries of our reforged friendship," he answered.
"As though you ever recognized boundaries!" she laughed.
"Maybe I can learn. I promise to exercise more self-control and not to pressure or beleaguer you as I have done in the past. However, you must hear me out in return. I still would love you if I could. If you should reconsider, any word or sign would bring me to you. I vow that I will wait for you."
She felt herself blushing, confused and ensnared. "What do you mean wait for me? You would remain celibate?" she managed to choke out. As usual, her curiosity won out over her better judgment.
"That was not what I said, my dear." He threw his head back in an unrestrained laugh. "You and Éomer must be doing well on one level at least. I confess to suffer with unrequited love of you, and your only reaction is to worry if I intend to live without the comforts of the senses: a rather transparent admission of the importance of those to you."
Another flash of heat colored her cheeks, but, relentlessly, she continued. "So, you will not? Do without, I mean." she asked. He laughed again. His laugh was more free and louder than she had heard from him before. He seemed to have tossed aside his ever-guarded pride and Elven reticence.
"Honestly?" he asked.
"No. I doubt that I will remain abstinent. You and I are more alike than you yet know in that regard." His open face and beseeching eyes held her spellbound.
"Ai, Lothíriel, can you still dare to pretend that you do not realize what you do to me? You turn away from me, but never leave me entirely without hope." His voice softened towards the end, making the last word into an almost tangible caress. She shivered and tried to look away.
"What say you to that?" he asked. His elegant, noble countenance was so endearing to her at that moment that it caused her to catch breath audibly. I must muster some self control, she thought.
"Honestly?" she asked, mimicking his tone when he had asked the same of her.
"Yes," he answered. He leaned more closely toward her. She turned her head and found her lips but inches from his own.
"Honestly," he said. She wished he would simply kiss her. But, aware of his brother and the Dúnedain who rode with them and her own weakening resolve not to be drawn quickly under his spell again, she turned her face forward away from his.
"You overwhelm me and cause me to feel most conflicted," she said. "Perhaps, I should not have opened up this communication again. I chose to take Elrohir's advice, although I doubted the wisdom of doing so. Do you remember in Minas Tirith, after the ball, you asked me to tell you that I desired you?"
"Well, I will say it now. I want you terribly, but, I cannot see where that leaves us," she said. "Is that wrong of me to admit that I want you and yet offer you so little?"
"Are we still playing the honesty game?" he asked.
"Yes," she said more cheerfully.
"Then I will not take advantage of the opening you left for me, melamin. Instead, though it may be to my disadvantage, I will tell you the truth," he said, his silver grey eyes tender. She viewed his slightly parted sensual lips with an agony of desire. Lothíriel's heart leapt into her throat. The truth to his disadvantage. Am I ready for this?
Taking a long breath, Elladan continued, "But, you must remember that the truth is rarely pure and never simple. I know I missed my opportunity to attempt to win your love by a matter of hours, perhaps a day… but that moment is gone and cannot be recaptured. I lost you."
"If I were Éomer, I would not wish to share your heart with another. What kind of hypocrite would I be to want to try to take what I myself would not wish give? I see when you look at him that you love him. Then, of course, there is duty, commitment, honor…I know the value you place on those. I cannot, would not, compete with all that, nor have anything from you that you do not freely give."
"What are you saying, Elladan?" she whispered, painfully conscious of a nearly irresistible desire to ease his heart, his mind, his body.
"I will take any small gift I can wrest from you: another stolen kiss, a hour in your arms," he paused and looked at her, making her aware of her flushed cheeks. "Or a night of making love to you, to prove to you, or perhaps to myself, that, despite everything, I could bring you ecstasy." His wicked smile both irritated and aroused her. "I would make you remember me at least."
"Oh." She shifted uncomfortably on her horse.
"Is that a yes, a no, a maybe?" he asked, his voice nearly a whisper. His eyebrows arched up and his eyes glinted teasingly.
"Stop it, Elladan," she said, trying to sound gruff, yet unable to stop a smile.
"Ai, melamin, again a tiny smile of hope," he said with a sinful grin.
With more determination she answered, "You are incorrigible. You bring us right back to where we were before, except that you are bolder now than ever."
"The difference is that I entertain no false hope. And we are now more evenly matched. You are more truthful now and no longer quite so innocent," he said.
"Fine then. Have it your way. I admit that I can never win an argument with you," she said laughingly, but she was suddenly terrified at the countless years he hid behind those engagingly youthful features. More evenly matched, indeed, if I ever permitted myself to draw any closer to his blazing glory, I would be burned to ashes in seconds. Could I ever have such courage?
"I insist we talk of other things. Tell me about Lothlórien. Tell me about Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel."
Elladan joined her laughter. "As you wish, fair lady."
He caught his breath enraptured when Lothíriel turned toward him at the sound of his voice. A completely ingenuous smile widened across her face. With her bright eyes shining, her straight dark hair falling loose down her back, he thought she looked less mortal than Elven. But mortal she is. She does not taste wholly Elven—though her lips are the sweetest I have ever touched. I am a fool to speak as I do. If she gives me half of what I ask, I will be lost. Yet ensnared by his own reckless impetuosity, his desire to push any small advantage, he could not stop himself.
"Lothíriel, before we speak of Lórien, I would ask just one question," he said.
"Of course, what is it?"
"Regarding your ears: they are rather Elvish in appearance. However, the ears of Elves …" he began lowering his voice. Her expressive face flashed acute embarrassment and irritation,
He continued, "… are extremely sensitive to touch. Unlike human ears, the sensitivity is more akin to …"
"No! That is enough, quite enough for now. I will not answer such a question," she protested.
"Ai! Sweet one, you just did and your answer will haunt my fantasies. Now, what would like to know about Lórien?" She shook her head as though to clear her mind.
"I have heard that Lothlórien has the power to enchant Mortals and leave them ever changed and never again wholly satisfied," Lothíriel said. Elladan noted with satisfaction that her breaking voice and flushed checks revealed she struggled for control of heightened sensibilities.
"Rohirric superstitions of the enchanted land of Dwimordene and its all-powerful sorceress!" He laughed. He then turned serious, looking down to catch her eyes. "Lórien has a powerful affect on everyone who spends time within its borders--Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit and Man--it is true. One departs with a gentle, indescribably lovely sense of loss. But I would not take you there if I did not think the pleasure would far outweigh the pain."
"Elrohir and I feel it as well, even though it is like a second home to us. Others who have visited feel compelled to describe in detail how it has affected them. Legolas is happy to talk--and sing--about it endlessly. I wanted to throttle him that night he was singing songs of the Galadhrim to you," he chuckled. "As for Gimli, do not even open the discussion with him," he snorted.
"I still do not know whether to be excited or terrified."
"Be filled with joyous anticipation," he teased. "I promise to do all that I can to ensure that you appreciate it fully."
Note: "the truth is rarely pure and never simple" belongs to Oscar Wilde, but sounded to me like something Elladan might say.
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.