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The Voices of Stone
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Fourth Age

Middle-earth, the coast between Edhellond and Dol-Amroth, the fourth age of the world

Three riders had made their camp in the small dell at the little spring.

The leader of the group was a dark haired warrior with a thin face lined with grief and suffering. His companions were a young woman with strangely piercing eyes and dark hairs and a hobbit woman with curly dark brown hair and a stubborn chin.

The woman with the fierce gaze was obviously delighted that they would stay in this spot for the night. She walked around the hollow and looked longingly out to the sea and yet she seemed grateful for the shelter offered by the bushes of blooming yellow broom that surrounded the dell. The ground of the hollow was not cliff-rock, but dark earth covered with heather. She nodded to herself. This was perhaps not quite as comfortable as the beds of an inn, but it was cosy compared to other resting places in the wilderness. She turned her back to the sea to investigate the back of the dell.

When she found the small shrine built around the spring at the back of the hollow, she gasped with astonishment and awe. The spring did not hold much water anymore, but it was enough to water the horses, make tea and allow the travellers to clean themselves up a little.

In the tympanum of the shrine was carved a ship with a star above it. The ship and the star were still easily visible, even though they had probably been carved thousands of years ago. But beneath the ship soft shadows flickered across the stone. The shadows echoed the memory of elvish runes engraved in the stone. The runes had not withstood the wind and the weather as well as the ship and the star. Worn and faded with age and weather it was impossible to read them or to recognize the language they had been written in.

Nevertheless the young woman seemed to feel comforted by their presence, because she sat down in front of the spring and listened for a while to the soft sound of water dripping from a broken spout that might have been formed like a leaf once upon a time. At first her face was quite drawn and pale. But after a time of listening to the sweet, clear drops of the spring’s water and of looking at the ship and the star that were slowly sinking back into the grey stone of the tympanum, a hint of peace returned to her eyes. Some indefinable tension left her lips, softening her appearance to a tender and vulnerable beauty.

There was hope for whatever purpose was driving her and her companions.


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