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 The Tale of Camus Locksley

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PostSubject: The Tale of Camus Locksley   Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:44 pm

Young Camus tore through the grain fields, blinded with fear. The boy could not feel his legs, except that they were hot with effort, and all his body was tensed with the stress of his retreat. His back felt as if ablaze, and the torn shirt glistened red in the dusk-light, sticking wetly to him. Camus had felt the tip of the bad Man's sword part his flesh deeply...and yet he ran, the cut too shallow to lay him low for good.


He was too close, still. He could hear the cracking, spitting timbers of his home as they were eaten by the flames. He could hear screaming...his mother's screaming, his sisters, screaming...and the howls of the bad Men, delighting in their savage murder. Too close, still...he fled on, a nine year old coward who had played dead on the floor even as they had run Lily through. Even as they took his mother and...


The sun disappeared behind the rolling hills in the west, stolen from the sky too early by the fingers of the nearby Dúnadan ruins. As the shadows grew long, Camus stumbled along the road. The muscles in his legs were tortured by the run, and cried out for rest. He blinked over and over, attempting to focus his bleary eyes, but the world only blurred more before him. A creeping cold spread in his back and shoulders.


His toe caught a rock jutting skew from the road, and he fell forward with a yelp of dismay. The stones met his jaw hard, and a blossom of dull pain surged through him. Distantly, he thought that it didn't hurt as he imagined it would have. Darkness ate at the corners of his vision. The boy tasted the dust and blood in his mouth and gazed sidelong over the far hill. The land dipped there to cradle the Midgewater, where he had been told never to go by mother. He could no longer hear flames or screams, but as his eyelids drooped and unconsciousness came to claim him, the terrible scenes played out in silence again and again. He saw the bad Man's blade carve down and across father's face, even as he roared in defiance...and then, nothing.

On the trade road south of the marsh, half a day's walk from the Bree-Town gate, Camus Locksley, who thought himself the last of his family, lay dying in dreamless sleep.

Last edited by Camus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: The Tale of Camus Locksley, Part 2   Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:48 pm

On the golden, dusty road of Annulos, the only road of that place, a solitary wagon and its three keepers rolled along unhurried. Each Man had seen much of life, and on two the white dust of old age had appeared in the hair on their scalps. The heavier third was not so fortunate, and was quite bald. It was he who was displeased this afternoon, as the sun began its patient descent behind them.

Albrand was the name of this last man, and he glowered down at the sleeping boy, half-sunken in the hay they'd brought for the workhorses. He shook his head, and called up to the driver.

“Ey Leof! It's been two days now, you know!” He prodded Camus with the toe of his boot, pushing the flesh on his cheek a bit. “The lad isn't about t'wake and he's clearly made a foe out of someone. We ought t'leave him, you know it!” His voice was deep and full, and carried a weight to it.

Leof brushed his beard idly with two fingers, sighing. “Enough. No one breathing deserves to belong to the gore-crows so young. Leaving folk to die is not how Old Heartwood would wish things.” He snapped the reins as his horses took their argument as a sign that they could slow. Eadwig, who sat on the rear of the wagon, grunted his agreement, the smoke from his pipe twirling on the breeze.

“He'll be another mouth, if he does wake! You know we've not the food to feed him in the mountains.” Albrand lamented, resting a hand on his rounded belly. The wagon's stores were already strained thanks in large part to his appetite, and the dried fish from Halecatch were looking awfully meager. “I'll say it again - he looks like a useless little clump, anyways.”

It was then that Camus stirred, lifting his face from the dry grasses. He struggled a moment to focus on the Man before him, too weak to care if he was a bad Man or not. His throat burned with dry, dusty thirst, and when he opened his mouth to speak he was dismayed to hear only a rasping, hollow noise. The cart found a bump in the road, and the boy grimaced as a familiar fire lanced across his back. He clumsily reached back to touch the slash at its middle, but found his fingers meeting strips of fresh linen.

Albrand raised his massive brow. “Ah...! Well, there's no helping it now. Welcome back t'the land of the waking, little one! ...You'll not want to touch that wound just yet. The leeches hardly found any blood t'suck in the first place, and you've been fevered, y'have!”

“Wat...water.” The boy managed to rasp, letting his head fall to the straw again. With his senses returned, the memories of his flight rushed to the front of his mind anew. Violet, pleading to the bad Men to spare her sister...

“Ah...if it'll quiet you, then.” Albrand uttered. “Sound like wind in a dead tree's knots.” He unceremoniously took a waterskin from his hip and dropped it before Camus. “Ey Leof!”

“I can see, Albrand.” Leof turned at his hip, smiling with kind eyes down at Camus, who had meekly brought the skin to his lips. The Man nearly chuckled, seeing a piece of straw clinging to the boy's dirty cheek. “Do you have a name, lad?”

“...Cam.” Camus whispered between draws at the water. The sound of his voice unnerved him; it wasn't his, it was someone else's. He picked a strand of his hair from his mouth.

“You're a lucky boy, Cam.” Leof said, one eye to the road ahead. “An inch from death, when we found you. But I suspect you'll be alright now.”

Eadwig grunted his agreement once more. Camus said nothing. The wagon rolled on at its lazy pace across the land, a guest only of the lynx and wild wolves. In the north, the ruins of Weathertop looked down on the four, silent and watchful.
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PostSubject: The Tale of Camus Locklsey, Part 3   Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:42 pm

Time marched alongside Leof's wagon. Weeks came and went on the dry expanses of the Lone-Lands as the trio of Dale-Men and the boy they had found made their way east. Camus was tasked with caring for the horses, and did his work in near-silence. The beasts were old and knew the road well, and they did not protest when Camus would lift their hooves and search for shards of rock. Albrand, in seeking to make the boy useful, gifted him with a beaten and notched dagger with which to prepare food. When night fell and the boy would fall fitfully asleep, the Dale-Men would set around the campfire and speak of him in quiet voices; for young Camus had so far been the only excitement on this journey home, on the road they each had traveled west and east a dozen times before.

In time, the brown and gold grasses surrendered to ancient trees, and a chill wind gusted out of the north and east. The wagon timidly crossed into the Trollshaws, a place of great wonder and danger for a boy of nine, even so crushed by the losses he had suffered. A man in the Bree-Town had once told him of the Elves who make the forest their home, and his subdued green eyes would drift along the canopy of the great pines by day, searching for signs of the Fair Folk.

No troubles found Leof and his fellows here, for in that time the forest had not yet darkened under the shadow of Angmar, and the defenders of Rivendell busied themselves with dispatching brutish and clumsy trolls. The party arrived on the ridge overlooking the valley of the Elves some days into the forest, and the beauty of it quieted even Albrand's grumblings as he walked out in front. Sighing heavily in relief, the bald Man called back to the wagon.

“We've arrived then! Let us rest a night and drain a cask of Faelind's wine!” The Man chortled, well pleased by the prospect of such a respite from travel.

Eadwig grunted. Leof couldn't help but smile. “And you'll drain a third of our profits in that venture, friend!” He smiled down at Camus, who sat alongside him today. “Not many of your season see the lands of Elves, Cam.” he intoned, resting a weathered hand on his shoulder. “But don’t be alarmed – they’re fine companions, and we will walk with one over the mountains to the east.” The boy looked up at his keeper with wide eyes. He did not find words to speak, but his mind wondered well on the nature of the companion he had yet to meet.

As night fell over the valley, the Men and the horses of Leof’s wagon took their rest outside a guest house of the Elf-lord Elrond. They were greeted there by an Elf-maid, seated at the door with an elegant harp of maple. As the Men approached, her fingers left the strings to rest delicately in her lap. Leof bowed and Eadwig brushed his beaten hat away from his head. The boy looked on at the harpist in awe; for she was by far the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and she was presently gazing into his eyes. Fair-skinned and dark-haired, her features curved smooth and slender, as if cut of polished gemstone, and the light of a distant power danced behind her eyes, the color of storm-clouds. After what seemed like a very long moment to Camus, she spoke.

“A child, Leof? Surely the boy is young for the places we will walk.” Without waiting for the Man’s answer, she addressed the boy. “I am Faelind Grey-Eyed, young one. That you will walk with me across the mountains is a boon indeed.”

Camus looked on in stunned silence. The Elf simply smiled, her stormy eyes searching his.

Last edited by Camus on Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:37 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: The Tale of Camus Locksley, Part 4   Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:31 pm

The band set out from the valley two days after they had come into it. Faelind captured the boy’s attention all the while; she was not yet seasoned by the standards of Elves, but she was old enough to know of ancient things. In the early mornings, Camus would watch secretly as she spoke softly with dusky birds in the raven-tongue, and sent them off above the trees. By day he would watch her step lightly and swiftly, marveling at the subtle grace of her stride. Leof would smile and chuckle to himself. Albrand would mutter. Eadwig did not say much of anything, for he never did. The wagon rumbled onward, up though winding and rocky passes.

It was late Summer then, and by all rights early Autumn, but the wind was unusually warm. Camus found his eyes drawn to the grasses that lined the path, where sweet-scented lilies grew in stubborn defiance of the season. Their petals were a rich red, like those that grew beneath the Yellow Tree in Bree-Land. Camus was far from home, and to sight the familiar flowers brought him unexpected grief. Their scent would have filled his house, in kinder times. He plucked one from the earth and closed his eyes, breathing of the blossom deeply.

Inzil, his mother would call it in her tongue. He spoke it softly. “Inzil…”

The Dale-Men took no notice of Camus, whose work for the morning was finished and whose work for the evening had yet to begin. But Faelind Grey-Eyed was keen of hearing, and turned her head to the boy as he spoke. He walked absently, twirling the stem of his lily between thumb and forefinger. She approached him fluidly, her interest piqued.

“You speak the tongue of Númenór, young one. How curious.” She smiled at him, a gesture that both shook him from his memories and turned his cheeks crimson. “Tell me, where did you learn this?”

“M-My mother taught me the speech of her homeland.” Camus stammered.

“Indeed. And yet Leof tells me you were found in the Bree-fields. Far from the lands of your mother – and your eyes are not of the South, to be certain. You are well learned, for a boy of nine, little bird.” She smiled sweetly, deciding that she liked the pet name she had granted him. “I would have you tell me of your mother, if you would like.”

And so that night, as the Dale-Men supped by their fire, the boy told the Elf a great deal of his family, from as early as he could remember. After all, it is a poor thing to deny an Elf who requests something of you, or so Camus had heard. Faelind was fond of listening more than she was of speaking, and when Camus had finished, she bowed her head slowly. He was surprised by himself, for no tears fell when he spoke of the attack that had shattered the life he had recounted. Something about the Elf calmed him greatly, and he barely trembled as she laid a willowy hand over his.

“You are faced with such a trial, little bird. It is a poor lot for one so young. It is important, as you are a son of Man, and prone to forget many things…that you never forget the joy of loved ones, and the memories they offer you for safekeeping.” Camus listened solemnly, entranced by the gentle voice of his keeper and the hand holding his. “For without this joy, the sorrow of the world will grip your heart and make you bitter.”

She drew out her harp from its case then, and sitting again with the boy, wordlessly began to play a gentle lilt. The notes hung on the air thick and sweet, and blanketed young Camus in their warmth. The boy soon felt drowsy, and before long he had laid himself down to slumber at her feet. Faelind watched him for a time, her expression distant and saddened. For the memories of Elves are without flaw, and to many, sorrows and joys walk hand in hand.
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PostSubject: The Tale of Camus Locksley, Part 5   Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:44 am

The day came to pass that Leof's wagon escaped the treacherous trails of the Misty Mountains, and came to complacently travel the low hills on the far eastern slopes. The Dale-Men relaxed then, now that they were farther from the threat of goblins, and the warg packs had long since been driven higher into the mountains by hardy Men of the nearby settlements. Young Camus walked with Faelind Grey-Eyed each day now, having grown further comfortable and curious about her. He asked her of Elves and of Dwarves, and of how the two speak of one another, and of Men. He asked of her home, the dark Mirkwood, and of the lands beyond. In the mornings, he listened as Faelind spoke to her raven-friends, and she in turn laughed in gentle amusement at his attempts to mimic the curious speech, which is altogether a thing a boy of nine should not attempt.

One day, a dense fog rolled down the mountains and surrounded the wagon. Leof decided to camp on the spot, for they neared the river ford where they would cross south of Mirkwood and over the dry plains, and the dangers of that crossing were great in poor weather. While the Dale-Men sat and smoked that night as they did, Camus sat and listened to Faelind's harp. The melodies brought him wonder and great comfort, and he finally thought to compliment her.

“Miss Faelind...your music is beautiful. It is not like the harp-song of Bree, I think.” His green eyes had reclaimed their sparkle since the days of the Trollshaws, and he watched her fingers ply the strings with great interest.

“Just so, little bird.” Faelind's voice was as a breeze in heather, and drew the boy's complete attention with ease. “There is great virtue in these songs, and one need only listen to know this for truth.” She played a lilt for him, and as time swept on a strange wind whispered through the camp. The air seemed to cut away patiently at the fog, and at last Camus gazed upon the brush at the top of the far hill. It was not the first strange occurrence of its nature on their trip, and the boy then realized something important.

“...You did that, didn't you?” He asked, amazed.

“Yes. It is known, among my kind, that the world itself was laid for us in song. It is in song that you will find the grace of powers more ancient than the Elves.” Faelind smiled, allowing herself a small pleasure at the young boy's awed expression. “You wish to play of my harp. It is plain in your eyes.”

Camus blushed. She had pierced his thoughts effortlessly. “Ah...well...”

“You may. Sit by me, and I shall teach you how to hold your fingers, and my names for each string.” The boy did so, and so began to learn the art of his Elven companion. Faelind would teach him by both evenings and mornings, and more than once Albrand scolded him for waking the Men with clumsy plucking and discordant melody. The Elf would simply smile, for her patience was great, and the sight of Camus at his task proved pleasing to her.

The young harpist's fingers grew calloused and strong with his effort, and Faelind would tell him stories of virtuous music. She spoke of songs that brought form to the Valar of Middle Earth, who were offered the choice to live within its melody, and she shared with him the tale of fair Lúthien, an Elf-maid whose singing overcame the power of the Dark Lord in an age long past. Camus was enthralled by these stories, and resolved to master his playing.

So it was that the boy from the Bree-Fields became an earnest musician, on the lonely stretch of land that would bring Leof's wagon to the southern edges of the Dale-Lands, along the River Running. The journey east neared its end, and by way of harp-song drifting on the wind, the deepest traces of Camus's sorrow began to lift away.
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