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Subject: One final duty

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Date Posted: 14:00:01 03/02/03 Sun

The stables were quiet as Aragorn entered, his newly filled saddlebags over his shoulder. Ringbearer whinnied softly as the king pulled open the stiff iron latch with a grunt. The stable boys had neglected to oil it once more, when he returned he would have to speak to them about it. A ghost of a smile touched him. War was upon them. When he returned there would be more important things to worry about than rusty door hinges.
Swiftly, proffesionally he saddled his horse and lept into the saddle, the old worked leather of the reigns as soft as a youth's hand under his corse fingertips. His heels touched flank lightly and Ringbearer sensing his need to be off cantered from the stable. Iron shod hooves clacked against the flag stones of the courtyard and Aragorn nudged his horse into a gallop.

"Aragorn, wait!"

The horse's ears pricked at this familiar voice and Ringbearer brought himself to a hault to the king's frustration. He turned but did not dismount as Legolas drew closer. In his hurry to leave he had forgotten that the elf too was leaving the city in search of somebody; Gimli had to be rescued just as Arwen did. Guilt nagged at him over this forgetfulness but he had no time for it. Instead he brought the palantir from his pocket.

The dwarf's bruised face stares up at him through the glassy stone. Behind him are the walls of a cave and at least a battalion of orcs. Through the caves mouth lies a broken city surrounded by trees and dominating the horizon a black tower stands over seeing the chaos.

"He is being held in one of the caves near Dol Guldur."
The elf's face betrayed his shock. "Mirkwood?"
"So it would seem," Aragorn replied distantly as if they were perhaps discussing the weather.
"Then, who guards him?"
"The palantir reveals only orcs but the tower of the Necromancer still stands and with war so close at hand I do not know what else may be out there."
Legolas looked as if he were about to comment but Aragorn merely whisphered, "quel marth" before turning Ringbearer's head and galloping through the city gates.

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