4. Looking for Escape
Pippin gazed anxiously at the Forest that now accompanied their march to Isengard. In the early morning light, the dark woods that ran along the length of their path appeared less forbidding than in the midst of night. Chewing on a crust of bread, Pippin contemplated whether the Orcs would take them through the forest and wondered how long it would take to get to Saruman's stronghold. They had already been in the hands of the Orcs for four long days. Reaching that tower could take many more - and since he hadn't paid much heed to all the talk of maps and such in Rivendell, he had no way of knowing. Only two days earlier, he and Merry had convinced their guards that they must eat if they were to be brought to Saruman alive, resulting in occasional bread and water. But it was no hobbit breakfast he ate, first or second. How long must they survive on these crusts?
He had to admit he was worried. The thongs about his wrists were as tight as ever, wearing the skin beneath them raw, and the scrutiny they were under rarely wavered. Though the disquiet in his heart had eased somewhat the previous day on seeing three of their friends alive and hale, it was not quite the meeting for which Pippin had hoped. Strider, Legolas, and Gimli were bound up, prisoners just as they were. And though he had managed only rare glimpses of them since, he had thought they looked unwell. Perhaps they had not succeeded in convincing the Orcs that they, too, needed food to survive.
Pippin had insisted on keeping hope for their friends, hope that they lived. But neither he nor Merry had counted on their capture. How would they get out of this mess now? Pippin sighed as he felt the weight of the burden they had placed upon themselves. Only he and his cousin might have the strength or the opportunity to make an escape. Perhaps Elrond had been right and this was no place for young hobbits. Well, sitting among enormous, smelly, constantly quarrelling creatures such as these seemed no place for anyone - unless you were an Orc.
There was no one left now. Frodo and Sam clearly hadn't come with them. That the pair had begun the doomed trek with the others but had not made it to this point was a notion Pippin could not consider. What he did consider was that either of them may have continued to Mordor on their own - a dreadful prospect that brought on such anxiety Pippin had to quickly push the idea aside and return to his original train of thought.
No Frodo and Sam. No Gandalf. No Gandalf ever again. Another pang seized his chest as his grief surged again. It then doubled as he pondered the fate of Boromir. He tried to keep a hope for him, but it was like a candle against a gale and all but flickered out.
The Fellowship was dead.
In all likelihood, their Company was down to the five of them now captives of Orcs bound for Isengard, to be delivered to Saruman. The wizard would undoubtedly demand the Ring and then torture them when he learned they did not have it, demanding they reveal its location.
Pippin looked over at Merry, who nibbled at his bread on occasion but seemed otherwise lost in thought. What he contemplated, Pippin couldn't say and wondered if he intended to devise an escape. 'Well, someone must,' Pippin thought. 'And might not that someone be me?' He was looking to every other for his rescue but himself. He might wait a long time.
Pippin's musings were interrupted by a harsh laugh. "Ah! You shoulda been there!" Two Orcs were walking by, one carelessly swinging a dirty sword. "It was a good time. Never played with a dwarf before. Fagrod's the lad to talk to, see if you get a piece next time."
"I'll be sure to. Though I can't complain about the sport with the man. Only thing was we couldn't get too carried away. He was bleeding plenty afore we started. And we weren't allowed to let him die. Kinda spoils the fun if you ask me."
Pippin stared, frozen for a moment. He felt that if he moved, his entire body would revolt against him. His stomach threatened to upheave what little lay there; his eyes were suddenly moist with tears ready to flow; and many, many words quivered on the tip of his tongue, straining for release. Instead, he sat entirely still, afraid even to look at Merry to see his cousin's reaction to the overheard conversation.
"Yeh, well, Saruman didn't ask you, so make sure you remember that. Didn't ask Uglúk, neither, and he was right pissed!" Another raspy guffaw. "Did you see him? Glaring and grumbling about having to keep mortals alive! I heard he went over and had some good sport with the elf after that."
"Sure I heard. Wouldn't wanna be that elf!"
"You got that!" The Orcs settled down on a nearby rock, chortling and joking about their fun.
Suddenly Pippin needed to breathe, and he broke the spell over his body. Forcefully releasing a breath, he threw his crust of bread to the ground in disgust. "Merry, we've got to do something," he said, strangling his voice into a whisper.
Merry looked at him strangely, as if he'd said he really didn't care for mushrooms all that much. "Do something?" he said in a harsh whisper. Merry's face was red, but that was the only sign of his anger. "And just what did you have in mind?"
"Well, nothing yet - but if I manage to have a good think on it, I bet I could come up with something."
"A good think on it?" Merry's face reddened further. "And what do you think I've been doing since we've been let off those stinking Orcs? It's not a matter of simply coming up with something, Pippin. This isn't like sneaking into the farm to steal some mushrooms."
"But Merry, didn't you hear them? The longer we take to think of a way out of here, the more our friends suffer! Besides, the Orcs are going to watch them much more closely, thinking that Big Folk are more dangerous and such. There's got to be something we can manage."
"Of course I heard them! You don't think it cuts me to the quick to hear it? Do you think I feel nothing, Pip?" Pippin didn't answer him. He hadn't meant to anger Merry or cause a fight. "They'll be in no shape to help us or to escape themselves now, either," Merry continued quietly. "Although, those beasts will have to keep them in condition to march. But that may be all they'll be up to managing."
"Which is why it's up to us. There must be a way. We just have to figure it out." Pippin couldn't understand Merry's seeming reluctance, when just the day before he'd agreed with Pippin that escape would have to come from them. After what they'd just heard, he had expected a bit more eagerness from Merry.
In a harsh whisper, Merry answered, "Just like that, is it, Pip? We're simply going to walk away? Our hands are bound. We're miles from any village. All we've had to eat for days is this crust of bread and some foul water. And someone's always guarding us. Do you see any way out of this? Unless there's another spectacle like yesterday to distract them, I certainly don't."
"Haven't you noticed, cousin, how bored the guards have grown with minding us? They watch us much less closely than they did at first. They don't think we're up to anything. We've just got to keep giving them that impression, and soon they'll stop being so careful with us."
Merry turned a close eye to Pippin, wary interest showing. "And then?"
"Well, there's always the Forest."
"Fangorn Forest? Have you forgotten the Old Forest? Old Man Willow?"
"I'd rather wrestle with Old Man Willow than these Orcs. Besides, we've dealt with Old Man Willow, and now perhaps we'd know how to handle any ill-meaning trees." Merry simply looked at him as if he thought an Orc had hit Pippin one too many times on the head. "Fine, Merry, we'll keep thinking. There's got to be something we can do." He sat back against the rock they leaned on for support, retrieving his discarded bread as he abandoned the argument. He was still convinced Fangorn Forest was a perfectly acceptable escape plan. All right, a sufficient one. It was certainly worth considering, which was more than Merry seemed inclined to do.
"Just lie down and try to get some rest," Merry said finally. "We'll be marching again soon enough." He laid himself down, turning his back to Pippin.
Pippin took advantage of his cousin's brooding and looked around. Sure enough, their guards were now chatting with another Orc, only glancing at them on occasion. Well, Pippin couldn't imagine sitting here without any possibility of escape. He laid himself down to give the impression he was going to sleep. They'd surely stop watching him then. He needed only a short while. He would show Merry he could reach the edge of camp and return without notice. He would show him escape was still possible.
After a few minutes, he cracked open a lid. The pair watching them had wandered away, engaged in some sort of gambling game. Here was his chance.
There had to be some chance, hadn't there? This was not the end for them. It simply could not be.
He remained low to the ground, scurrying slowly backwards towards the bushes behind a rock. Soon enough he was behind the bushes. Out of sight. No one had noticed. He only needed to crawl around this bush-
Pippin bumped directly into a pair of thick legs covered in dirty leggings. A short blade hung from a belt, next to a whip. One grey hand clenched into a fist.
Pippin looked up to see a snarling face. He supposed he had made a mistake about nobody noticing. Merry would really get him for this one.
"Uh, hello, I was just looking-"
"You were looking for some trouble, you were!" The uruk grabbed Pippin by his cloak and dragged him back to his place.
"Pippin, what are you doing?" Pippin was dismayed to see the horrified and angry look on Merry's face as he rose from his bed of grass.
"He got it in his mind to wander." The Orc bent down close to Pippin, giving him a big sniff of rancid breath. "Didn't we tell you no tricks?" he hissed. He turned to the Orcs that had been gambling. "Weren't you supposed to be watching these two?"
Pippin looked up with wide eyes at the beast. He hadn't thought of getting caught. He hadn't thought of something to say. He hadn't thought much at all, he supposed. He glanced over at Merry. His cousin looked more angry than anything else. Pippin looked down at the ground, overcome with disappointment in himself. He hadn't shown Merry anything hopeful.
"Well, I just have to teach you what happens when you play tricks on us!" The Orc cackled as he pulled out his whip. Pippin's eyes grew wider and he leaned as far away as he could while still in the Orc's grip. He shoved the whip in Pippin's face. "Now you'll think twice before trying to wander!" He pulled the whip out its full length. Still holding onto Pippin, he cracked the whip across his legs.
Pippin felt the sharp sting of the whip across his legs and bit down a yelp, wishing Merry weren't there to see it. His legs felt as if they were on fire, but thoughts of what Merry would say to him burned hotter.
"What's going on here?" a deep gruff voice came up behind Pippin.
"I'm teaching this halfling about tricks and wandering. As in not doing it!"
"I caught him in the bushes over there. I think he was going to make a run for it."
"Well, that's enough of a lesson. Any more and he won't be able to march and then you'll have to carry him again. How's that for a lesson! Next time, you bring him to me, you hear?" The Orc holding Pippin took one look at him and dropped him with a snarl. Both Orcs stomped away without another word.
Pippin looked down at his legs, a bright red welt growing across them. He couldn't bring himself to look at Merry and instead watched his cousin's approaching feet. After some moments of silence, Merry crouched next to him.
"What were you thinking?" The harshness in Merry's voice brought Pippin's eyes up. The anger he saw was greater than he had ever seen in his cousin's face, and words failed him. Words were useless anyway; Merry wouldn't understand what he'd tried to do - what he'd failed to do. He bent his head once more.
"Pippin, look at me." Pippin sat there in silence. "Peregrin Took, look. At. Me." There was nothing for it. He wouldn't let this go until he'd had his say. Stifling a sigh, Pippin looked up at his cousin. His eyes were blazing, but Pippin thought he saw more than annoyance there now. His cousin's eyes bore into him silently for a moment before he spoke. "I know what you were trying to do. I understand. But what you seem to have forgotten is that this isn't the Shire. This is the world of the Big Folk. Everything's bigger out here. Getting caught isn't like Farmer Maggot telling your Da you were sneaking mushrooms again. This is life and death."
Pippin couldn't keep the words from springing from his mouth. "Well, you seem quite ready to die here, Merry! I'm not ready to die and I'm not going to let them kill me so easily!"
Merry smiled, in a slow, queer way Pippin couldn't quite figure. "That's good, Pip. Neither am I. But we've got to be smart about this. That means we think through whatever plan we come up with, make sure it's going to work. And we work together. One of us can't escape on our own, but two of us just might manage. Do you understand now?"
Pippin found something of a smile for his cousin. Mayhap his cousin still held onto his hope. He nodded. "Right. No making plans without you. We think it through. We'll find a way out."
Merry's smile grew, but too broadly, so Pippin could see how it was forced at the edges. His chest constricted again. "That we will, cousin," Merry said. "We must - how will the others escape? They have no one else. Now lie down and get some rest. When the time comes, we must be prepared to act, and then no rest will be had."
Pippin considered that. Did Merry have a plan in mind already? He would have shared his thoughts with Pippin if he had. Perhaps Merry's lack of action was preparation for a time when they would need to act without hesitation, and he wanted Pippin rested and ready for flight. Unsure of where Merry's thoughts truly lay, Pippin was tired, his legs ached, and he'd lost the last of his bread. There was nothing left to do but sleep. And so he laid his head down in the grass, ignoring the Orcs, the high sun, and his empty stomach.
Legolas felt the collision through his entire body as the uruk dumped him on the ground in their corner of the camp. He gazed at the low eastern sun as he lay still, allowing his muscles to release the tension in his body. The uruks were crueler each time they had their sport, keen to see what he could endure. When in the hands of Norgry and his band, Legolas was surprised at their skill in drawing blood without inflicting a fatal wound. Their commander Uglúk, however, surpassed their viciousness. He was not content with fists, whips, and knives. He had been the one to start with fire. Legolas shivered as he remembered.
Weary as he was of the treatment, thoughts of escape grew rarer. The notion of death was no comfort, though. If he were to die, he had always envisioned falling in battle. This torment was no way to end one's time in Middle-earth. But as they drew nearer to Isengard, the likelihood of avoiding that fate waned.
Legolas turned his gaze slowly to Aragorn and Gimli, who lay nearby bruised and battered as he was. He thrust aside his growing fatigue, knowing what he felt was but a fraction of what they must feel. Pushed to the limit already by their race to catch the Orcs, tormented no doubt much as he was, and given no food or water, he grimly wondered how long his two mortal friends would last.
Legolas forced his body into a sitting position, shutting his eyes until the world about him stopped spinning. His body resisted the movement; bruises ached, cuts reopened, burns pulled and stung. His cuffs shifted with a heavy clunk, chafing wrists already scraped by the metal edges. He willed away his pains with deep breaths, but the throbbing of his head persisted. He had lost count of how many times his head was hit with weapons, boots, or the ground. Those injuries were the source of his nausea as well. With nothing to be done for it, he would simply have to distract himself.
Looking about the camp, the same scene greeted him as when they had first halted: vile Orcs defiled the plains of Rohan, which had grown into rolling downs, and the lush trees of Fangorn Forest beckoned him just beyond them to their west. Despite Celeborn's words, he longed to explore those woods and learn the songs of such an ancient forest. Any escape they might find would likely send them beneath those branches, but without an opportunity to linger as he would. He idly wondered if they might be welcome.
His gaze wandered back to the camp, sliding from Orcs and uruks, to dirty weapons and rancid meat, to swaying grasses and the far off wood. He longed for silence, or at least enough quiet to hear the trees. Indeed, sleep called to him, but all about him were grey-skinned, gnarled, scowling beasts. The Orcs marked with the badge of Saruman proudly called themselves uruk-hai, but were as prone as the others to bickering at the slightest provocation. None relished the task of looking after them, either, as it seemed none had appeared for the duty. Though Legolas could not muster the concentration to assess how well they were guarded, he knew it made no difference, in any case.
After allowing his eyes to wander aimlessly for a time, he spied the small curly head of a hobbit. While assuring himself he truly saw it, another head popped into view. Though they were hunched over, Legolas could see the two talking animatedly. His heart eased to see them hale, but regret and guilt lingered. Their own captivity would have been worthwhile and bearable to have seen the hobbits free. Perhaps they could yet.
Merry and Pippin continued talking intensely. Merry's face, lit by the early sun, revealed some distress. Pippin's back was to him, so Legolas could see only his shaking head. Soon, glancing about at their guards, they settled down near a large rock. After a few quiet moments, followed by quieter words, the hobbits lay themselves down to rest.
Legolas's eyes remained on them as he ignored the arrival of his own guard. He pondered how only months ago he had known little of these creatures, but after a short time, he had readily trekked across leagues in pursuit of an army of Orcs in an effort to save them. A failed effort, Legolas reminded himself. Their endeavor had ended in their own capture, while the hobbits continued to endure their imprisonment. He thought again of the resilience of which Gandalf had spoken so often regarding hobbits. They had shown a true measure of that hardiness these past days, and Legolas thought fleetingly that Gandalf would have been proud of them, though he wondered if they had been fed. Seeing that his mind was wandering and that the hobbits had lain down to sleep, Legolas began to turn to the two lying beside him. Then he saw Pippin rise once more and move slowly around the boulder beside them. Stunned, Legolas watched as, bit by bit, Pippin eased himself away from Merry until Legolas could barely see him through the bushes under which he hid.
Legolas was riveted to the scene as he realized what Pippin aimed to do. Naturally, the hobbit had given up on them, his would-be rescuers. Now Pippin attempted his own escape. He closed his eyes as Pippin disappeared behind the bushes.
Legolas's eyes shot open at the sound of yelling from an Orc in the hobbits' direction. A large uruk was dragging Pippin by his cloak and shouting at him, then at another Orc, likely an incompetent guard.
"What's happened?" Gimli asked. Legolas had not noticed that the dwarf had risen, but he heard weariness and worry in his voice.
"It appears Pippin has attempted what we failed," Aragorn said before Legolas could give an answer. "An Orc found him seeking an escape."
Legolas kept his eyes on the hobbits, watching as the angry uruk tore the bread from the hobbit's hands and pulled out a whip from his belt. As the Orc thrashed the hobbit's leg, the uruk Norgry approached and hollered at both Orcs. They all stomped away then, leaving Pippin with the one lash apparently as a warning.
Despite the whipping, Legolas breathed a sigh of relief that Pippin did not receive harsher treatment. He dreaded the thought that the hobbits might be treated as cruelly as they had been themselves. Perhaps the hobbits could withstand it; they had proven themselves stalwart, but he had sworn to protect them. His failure to do so meant that the hobbits' suffering was also his responsibility.
With his eyes yet on the hobbits, Legolas said quietly, "Aragorn, time runs short for us. We must choose a course of action and soon."
Aragorn nodded. His cheeks had hollowed and his lips had cracked from thirst, amplifying the weariness in his face. In a gravelly voice, he said, "I agree, but our first concern remains the same. If we do not have water today, this will all be in vain."
"Then we shall ask for some," Gimli insisted. He was pale, his beard stark against his skin. "Their orders were to bring us alive. If they do not bring us water, they shall not be able to obey their master."
Aragorn was silent as he looked about him much as Legolas had. The Orcs gathered in knots, gambling or trading, quarrels erupting randomly. The man shrugged with one shoulder. "It is worth the attempt, at the least. They cannot kill us, can they?"
"Not if they intend to deliver us to Isengard," Gimli said wryly.
Legolas frowned at the mention of their destination. If they reached Isengard, their chances of escape all but vanished. To flee that tower would be far more difficult than to escape here on the plains. If they arrived at Isengard, there would be no hope left.
Aragorn stood suddenly, wobbling on his good leg, struggling for balance with his bound hands. He immediately had the attention of a nearby Orc.
"What you think you're doing?"
"I must speak to your captain, if you have such."
"You don't have to speak to nobody!"
"I want to know why you are disobeying Saruman's orders."
"Disobeying-" Legolas tensed as the Orc grabbed Aragorn's tunic. "What're you talking about, you stupid tark?"
Aragorn kept a steady gaze with the Orc. "He ordered you to keep us alive. But we are going to die, and soon."
"No, you're not! You're not even bleeding, not much anyway. You're just fine!"
"We are not dying from injury. We are dying of thirst." That got the Orc's attention. "Mortals - even Elves - must have water - clean water - every day. We have had none for more than three days." Legolas understood that if he failed to include Elves in his request the Orc would likely deny him any water. Before the Orc could respond, Aragorn added, "And whatever it is you drink will not do. It must be water. Or did your captain not tell you?"
"My captain?" the Orc sputtered. "Norgry? What does he know? He don't know nothing we don't tell him." He narrowed his eyes at the man. "You're bluffing. You're just trying to play a trick, thinking you're smart."
"Well, you will know we were not bluffing when you have to carry our dead bodies to Saruman. What do you think he will do to you then?"
The Orc was silent, breathing heavily in his frustration. Legolas could see Aragorn's references to his leader made the Orc want to act on his own, rather than having to check with another. It was a shrewd strategy. They were more likely to get what they needed if the Orc decided himself to grant them their request.
The Orc grunted. "It is just water, I reckon. But where do you expect me to get that?"
"If you carry none yourselves, then we will have to find a nearby stream. We still have our waterskins; they can be filled quickly."
After a moment longer of deciding bluff versus truth, the Orc released his hold on Aragorn. Looking behind him as if to check for observers to his questionable behavior, he put out his hand. Aragorn looked down at the hand for only a moment, then to his own waterskin where it still hung from his belt. The Orc grabbed it from his belt, then took Legolas's and Gimli's as well. He looked at them with a fierce scowl, then to the Orcs beyond them, who were oblivious to the conversation as they prepared their own meals or engaged in yet more bickering. Checking behind him once more, he took off with a warning to stay put.
Aragorn dropped limply to the ground, his exhaustion amplified by his efforts. He had waited too long to ask for water. As they awaited their first drink in nearly three days, Aragorn looked wistfully at the trees that abruptly ended the open plains of Rohan with Fangorn Forest. Between the trees was murky and grim, but would make for excellent hiding. He had assumed the Orcs would use the Forest as cover by day, rather than skirting the border as they were. Opportunities for escape were as rare as ever.
The Orcs had kept a more manageable pace since Saruman's visit, likely an effort to keep their captives alive. They continued to take regular, short halts on the march, bringing a brief respite and a chance to catch their breath. The fewer, longer breaks to take a meal or rest often ended in bored Orcs looking to play with their captives, as they had this morning. The torment of the Orcs, with their beatings, whippings, and disturbingly careful slices with their knives compounded their injuries from the original fight. Their punishing trek across Rohan, both before and after captivity, strained their reserves of strength, leaving them nothing with which to make any escape.
His fear was greatest for the hobbits, but Aragorn could do little for them as of yet, so he turned to his own circumstances, troublesome enough in themselves. Their thirst was sapping their stamina more rapidly than any injury. He knew his own limits and he feared he was fast approaching them. Gimli had proven his great endurance, but he, too, was tiring. He spoke less, walked slower, and had begun to stumble, needing Legolas's aid on occasion.
"How fares your leg, Strider?" Gimli asked, moving closer to the man that they might speak and not be overheard.
Aragorn sighed. "The same. None of our injuries will begin to heal until we have water, though food would be better." He looked to Legolas, who sat gazing into the Forest lit by the early sun. "This is true even for Elves, is it not?"
"In time, lack of food, and water especially, would make it so, yes," Legolas answered carefully. "Nevertheless, as of yet, I fare better than either of you."
"Please, Legolas, do not deny what is plain to our eyes," Aragorn said brusquely. "Having gone without provender for so long, your injuries linger as ours do. Even Elves need water, if not as often as mortals do." Having little worry over an Elf's survival, the Orcs had spared him nothing in their sport. From what he could see, Legolas bore more bruises, and his cuts were deeper, causing him to bleed more. None of these injuries healed as expected. Without food or water, even an Elf would falter.
"Regardless, I will heal," Legolas said curtly.
"But not quickly enough," Aragorn added, then lowered his voice. He was pleased the Orc had opted to go for the water himself, offering the double advantage of leaving them without a guard nearby to overhear them. "I apologize, my friend. I am afraid any plan of escape I may devise relies on you - at your full strength. You are the best hope we have of any escape or survival. I regret to put that responsibility on you, but you will likely be the only one to find freedom from this."
Legolas held Aragorn's gaze but betrayed nothing of his own thoughts. "And so I am to rescue us all single-handedly?"
Aragorn allowed himself a faint smile, but shook his head. "I know not how we might escape on this march, bound and under guard as we are. But if we do not find an opportunity to liberate ourselves before Isengard, fate will not be kind to us."
"In that you speak truly. And you will be the first to suffer at the hands of Saruman, if he learns what destiny holds for you. But I fear they will see no further use for Gimli." He looked at the dwarf with anxiety he had not before revealed. "He must escape first."
Gimli grunted, but Aragorn interrupted any response he aimed to give. "I must disagree. While your reasoning is sound, it is also true that if we flee, they are likely to use arrows. Only you can hope to avoid or outrun an arrow - if you are strong enough." Aragorn looked about, checking on the attention of nearby Orcs before continuing. They prepared to break camp and were sufficiently occupied to not bother with their prisoners, who made no trouble. "I thought perhaps you could run into the Forest. It will make pursuit more difficult and perhaps the Orcs will hesitate to enter Fangorn."
"Fangorn!" Gimli cried then quickly lowered his voice. "Of course they would hesitate! As should Legolas! Celeborn warned us of those trees. Who knows what will befall him there!"
"No worse than what will befall us here," Aragorn answered crossly. "It is not without its flaws as a strategy, but after much thought, I deem it the safest chance to take. Think you differently, Legolas?"
Legolas merely shook his head, gazing into Fangorn in the distance. Aragorn was troubled by the doubt he saw in his friend's eyes. If Legolas doubted he could escape successfully, he was more wearied than Aragorn had suspected. If he were fully hale, there would be no question; Legolas could make the eaves before one arrow fell. When he answered Aragorn, though, the man heard more hope than doubt. "Think you that we might free me of these cuffs?"
Aragorn's doubts eased a bit with the glimpse of elvish mettle. "We will try."
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.