1. Western Duty, Eastern Desire
Western Duty, Eastern Desire
The road sped away from them, rising and falling with gentle cadence until at last it collided with the far horizon. The well-trod soil beneath their feet seemed to hum—beckoning. The East called to them, fiercer now than ever before, and who were they to resist the seductive summons?
"We should not tarry here," said the taller one, in flawless Valarin.
"No, we shouldn't," agreed the other.
But neither of them moved. In silence, they bent their sharp eyes to the East, and to the promises hidden beyond the edge of the horizon. Yet still the pressing of obligation and doom clung to them, pulling them back to the West, where dwelt their brethren: white, grey, and brown. Their resolve weakened. Desire and duty—of these, which has the greater claim?
The stale scent of forgotten intent that had long-since affixed itself to their hröar eked into thoughts.
Still wordless, the first let his ill-used staff clatter to the hard earth. A moment later, the other followed his lead.
Dust rose in the air.
Said the tall one, "I do not command you to do this."
"My staff is laid down," replied the companion. "I will follow you to whatever end."
Thus bereft of their oaths and staffs, Alatar and Pallando set out into the unknown East, blue robes flapping in the exotic breeze.