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littlemanpoet 01-04-2008 11:06 PM

Scarburg Meadhall
July 8, Year 15 of the Fourth Age - (see Time Line for play up to this opening post HERE)

(2 weeks later)

It had been a difficult two weeks, and Eodwine was weary. He rode at the front of the procession of his House, made up of an assortment of horses and wagons laden with the possessions of many. Trips would have to be made back to Edoras to reload the wagons with yet more items, for much was deemed unnecessary for the immediate needs of them all. The trusty Thornden rode at the back of the procession where he could keep an eye out for any signs of trouble from this unknown region, as well as an eye on any signs of trouble amongst the travelers; such as Javan.

The boy had not taken his punishment well. Eodwine had finally decided to bring him before the court, even had Thornden stand by his side and the entire House arrayed before them so that the he would get a sense of the seriousness of his misdeed. Eodwine had laid out the charges, giving them the sound of the full weight of the law.

"You have cost this House nearly a hundred Thengels of gold coin in wood, nail, thatch and rope, as well as seven days' labor of five grown men; so runs the estimate of my master carpenter, Stigend. Javan son of Thaldon, you are guilty of the crime of burning down my stables. You shall be under watch of those of my House whom I shall appoint, until such time as I deem that you no longer are a danger to my House. Further, beyond the normal chores of a lad of your age, you shall work each day in my House until you have paid seven days for each day spent in labor by each man rebuilding my stables."

The boy's jaw had dropped and his eyes had widened in astonishment. Then his face had turned sullen and he had mumbled something, which Eodwine had read on his lips: "That's not fair."

"Boy, I could have you flogged instead."

Javan's head snapped up and fear came into his eyes. "Yes, sir," he mumbled. But even then the lad could not hold himself in check. "Why don't you just send me home?"

Eodwine had smirked. "You need punishment, not escape and further spoiling."

The boy had scowled then, and had dragged himself around, under the watchful eyes of different members of the House betimes, doing what he was told, but as reluctantly as one could.

Eodwine looked back at the boy now; he was staring off into the distance looking miserable. Eodwine shook his head. It would be a long, long tutelage.

They rounded the final curve and came at last to the edge of Scarburg, formerly known as the land of Sorn. There was a line of tall trees the trunks of which grew tall, unkempt bushes, blocking the view of the holding itself. So it was not until Eodwine came to the gate, which was leaning off its hinges between two tall oaks, that he saw the buildings and lands within.

"Oh no." Eodwine reined in Flíthaf.

Garstan rode behind. "What is the matter, lord?"

"It's a wreck," Eodwine replied hollowly. Garstan came up beside him and saw for himself. The main house and all the outbuildings had been put to the torch. Their walls leaned in blackened sooty shambles, the roofs collapsed in. The grass all around the ruined buildings had been burned away.

"Who has done this evil deed?" Garstan cried.

"Who can tell? Maybe our neighbors. I doubt we'll ever know for certain."

Harreld drew up beside them. "At least we have canvas with us for tents."

Next came Stigend. He blew a winded sigh. "There is much to be done, no?"

Eodwine hung his head and laughed weakly.

Folwren 01-05-2008 09:43 PM

Javan rode in complete silence the entire journey from Edoras to Scarburg. Even had he been in a talkative mood, he doubted there would be many who would have his company. Since that day two weeks ago the behavior towards him had changed. Some had grown cold, scarcely giving him a glance the entire day. Others treated him distantly, as though they were afraid he might do something dangerous suddenly. A couple, he thought, pitied him. But it was the sort of pity he detested. He didn’t want pity. He didn’t know what he wanted.

The journey was lonely, therefore, and altogether miserable. He was glad when, late in the afternoon, they were finally drawing near to the end of their journey. He knew that they must be getting very near. Thornden had told him about how long it would take, and surely they had gone enough miles. . .

When Eodwine drew his horse to a stop, the entire procession stopped behind him. A murmur passed through the people and some of the men rode up beside him. Javan, his curiosity not-surprisingly roused, urged his horse forward as well. He halted in time to hear Harreld say, “At least we have canvas with us for tents.”

The carpenter, Stigend rode up on the other side of the Eorl. “There is much to be done, no?”

Javan’s eyes fastened onto the burnt ruin. His lips pressed together as a strange, ironic thought whipped through his mind.

“Seems as though fire’s your bad luck, my lord. At least I didn’t light this one,” he said, before he could think twice about his words.

Thinlómien 01-10-2008 12:43 PM

Lord Eodwine halted his horse and Modtryth managed to stop Snowstreak, who was distressed because of the sudden halt. "Hush, good girl, we've arrived", Modtryth said, stepping down from the wagon and caressing the horse's big head. During the journey, the old mare had been more nervous than she had ever been. Modtryth suspected it had something to do with the fire. No Man could forget such experience, why should a horse?

"Mum, look!" Cnebba cried out. He and Garstan's children were sitting on the wagon, eyeing around. "Mum?" Cnebba asked again, anxiously. Modtryth lifted her gaze from the horse to the scenery before her.

This was the great Scarburg for which Lord Eodwine had left the homely, newly renovated Mead Hall. The estate of Scarburg would have been grand, Modtryth reflected, had it been anything more than a ruin. Someone had been there before the Eorl's folk, someone who had had no good in his mind.

"Why are we stopping here, Modtryth?" Léodern asked.
"What is that ruin?" Garmund asked, "Shouldn't we be in Scarburg already?"

"I'm afraid we've arrived," Modtryth said, keeping calm, "the house just needs some renovating." She smiled weakly at the children who were watching the remains of Scarburg, their faces plainly showing both horror and interest.

The Eorl had exchanged a few words with the men riding behind him. The wind had muffled their words, but now Javan's voice rang clearly, audible to all. "Seems as though fire's your bad luck, my lord. At least I didn't light this one."

"Did you hear what the bad boy said?" Cnebba asked Garmund and Léodern, in a gossipy tone.
"Hush now", Modtryth said sharply, "and don't you call him names, it's rude."

She would need to think about this and talk to the children. It was not the first time Cnebba or Garmund expressed disapproval of Javan, but now it was more clear than ever before. Modtryth would not see them bullying the older boy in such manner - even though he probably wasn't aware of the younger boys' attitude towards him. But she could not make them think such idiotic carelessness as burning down the stables would be forgivable either. Not every lord was as lenient as Lord Eodwine, and neither of the boys was a brother of a lord's right hand man. The issue would have to be treated with care.

"Look!" Léodern interrupted her thoughts, "what's that?"
Modtryth glanced at the direction she was pointing to. "Probably just a stray dog, scavenging the ruins and looking for food," Modtryth replied, even though she wasn't sure.

Firefoot 01-12-2008 09:34 AM

It had been a long ride, though not necessarily in terms of distance. It had been long because the whole time Léof had had little else to do except think. Occasionally the silence had been broken by conversation, in which he gladly took part, but the rest of the time he was left to think.

He had tried not to think much, these last two weeks. He had kept himself busy, sometimes with inane tasks sheerly for the sake of doing something. Nights were the worst; his sleep was plagued by dark dreams, dreams of burning, of horses shrieking, of him unable to help – sometimes forcibly restrained by Thornden or some faceless entity, sometimes mired to the ground for no apparent reason, sometimes unable to find the horses. The horses always died. And Javan – Javan was normally somewhere in the background, standing mutely or, worse yet, laughing manically and triumphantly crying, “Try to teach me now! Try to boss me around now!” Most nights he would wake, then close his eyes again only to fall back into the same dream. It helped, he had found, to sleep outside near the horses. After that first night in Eodwine’s own room, it had occurred to him to sleep out in the Hall with the footmen, but he had been uncomfortable there and usually rose in the small hours of the morning anyway to assure himself that the horses were alright, all except Herefola.

Scarburg had represented a new hope to him, a chance to start over without having that burned down stable leaving a gaping hole in the scenery every time he went out to the paddock to tend the horses. As the ruin of Scarburg came into sight, his hope fell.

From one burned stable to the next – except now, it wouldn’t be any sort of priority; the main hall would have to be rebuilt first, he imagined. As the procession stopped, he turned to Thornden, near whom he was riding, and commented weakly, “At least Eodwine will be able to build the new hold up just as he wishes – I doubt much will be salvageable from that wreck.”

littlemanpoet 01-13-2008 07:47 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Eodwine led the party into Scarburg and had them tie up their steeds and livestock and gathered them around in a large circle. They sat together under the shade of the tall trees that fenced Scarburg from the road, for it was hot.

"We have much to do. First we must learn the land. I will teach you what I know. To our south, across the road, is the only other land holder nearby. He is our neighbor and we must befriend him. I do not know who he is yet. To our north is the Scar, which Garstan and Thornden already know about. It is a scar of hill and rock that runs from east to west across the fields of Cormallen. Beyond it is unclaimed fen. To both our east and west is unclaimed fen as well. I will claim these lands for the Eorl of Middle Emnet, and some day not far from this we will begin to tame those lands.

"But for now, there are three tasks that must be performed. First, all must set their hands to preparing shelter that will last until the hall is built; that means the kitchen first. I place Thornden in charge of that labor. Second, we must secure the horses and livestock. I place Léofric in charge of that labor. Third, I will send us out in parties of two or three to learn every inch of Scarburg between fens and scar, so that we may know what kind of land we own, what needs to be done.

"Garstan and Stigend will form one team, to seek building materials. The rest of you form teams of two or three as seems fitting, and learn what you can. We will not search through the ruin yet. Leave that for tomorrow morning. When today's tasks have been achieved, we will sit down to a meal that Frodides and Kara will prepare for us. Rowenna, you will have charge of Javan.

"But as I said, first we make shelter."

Nogrod 01-14-2008 04:37 PM

Garstan turned to Stigend for an approving nod of the shared task but he found Stigend busy staring at the line of tall trees like he was measuring the distances.

"Stigend?" Garstan asked quietly but needed to poke him before he realised he was talked to. "Did you get the briefing?"

"Mhhh... ahh..., yes?" Stigend turned to face his mate. "Do you have the measures of the canvases?"

"What?" Garstan began but then fell silent for a second until there suddenly was a light in his eyes. "You're thinking of a lean-to?"

"I am, or rather a baker. A large one if there are enough canvases. It will take time before we sleep under the roof of a new hall so why not make it right the first time? I do prefer doing things only once if possible." Stigend smiled to Garstan.

"You're right. They might fit here. So what else would we need?" Garstan asked and returned the good-willing smile with a nod.

"If the ridgepole of the earlier hall survived the fire we only need a few peeled trunks and some rope to begin with...", it felt like Stigend had gotten lost into his thoughts until he shrugged his shoulders and continued now with a wide smile. "We can upgrade it little by little you know... We might have some dull evenings ahead of us..." Stigend chuckled.

Garstan couldn't help it but bursted into laughter with Stigend following. The disappontment of the sight and the realisation that most of the task of rebuilding the hall laid on their shoulders were eased a bit with the open laughter.

But the open laughter didn't pass unnoticed and in the end Garstan had to poke Stigend again, this time to calm him down when most of the eyes were fixed on them.

Stigend turned to face lord Eodwine. "Excuse the demeanor of your servants my lord. We were just..."

"Adjusting our spirits to our duties", Garstan added smiling.

Stigend was not sure what lord Eodwine made out all of this but at least after Garstan's remark he smiled widely. "It's always good to have men who fulfill their tasks with joy" he remarked and laughed heartily, somewhat relieved from the gloomy athmosphere that had taken hold of the entire party.

"With your permission my lord...", Stigend put in while the general merriment still lasted. After Eodwine had nodded him to continue he went on.

"It will take a moon or two until we sleep under a solid roof and at least a week or two before we cook over a real hearth. So I was thinking if I myself and Garstan should build a large baker for us and a steady fireplace in front of it. It would take a few hours to construct the baker and a few more with the fireplace. We'd manage most it twosome but for spreading the canvases and carrying the stones for the fireplace we'd need a few able hands for a short while."

Folwren 01-17-2008 09:43 PM

Eodwine had originally placed Thornden in charge of the labor of building the shelter and kitchen. So the young eorlinga listened carefully as Stigend, with a few words added by Garstan, explained the process of making a baker. Javan ambled close to him, his arms folded moodily and his lower lip protruding a fraction. It had been an insult to hear Eodwine dealing out jobs to the others and then get assigned, not to work, but to Rowenna’s apron strings.

As Stigend came to a close of his explanation, he glanced upwards towards Thornden, and his eye fell almost immediately on Javan.

“You’re brother can help us,” he said. “He’s small and nimble enough to climb up and lash the cross beams in place more easily than a man.”

“That should be alright, hey, Javan? Better than being stuck with a woman,” Thornden teased. Javan gave him a hateful look and turned away. He didn’t answer Stigend. Thornden looked at him disapprovingly a moment. “He will be glad to help,” he said, turning to the carpenter. “Just tell him what you need when you need it. For now, how do we get started?”

Stigend, always polite and never overstepping his place, began to make suggestive sounding orders. Thornden very quickly turned them into direct orders and before long, everyone was at their proper work, gathering and preparing the materials to build the baker. The wagons had to be unloaded, the horses eased of their burdens. Stones could be gathered and proper trees for the baker located and cut down. The canvas and ropes were unpacked. The place was as busy as a beehive, just as it should be.

Javan wandered halfheartedly along with everybody else, filling his hands with whatever work came conveniently with no real spirit in it. His expression was angry and fierce thoughts flew about in his mind. He had been insulted and humiliated twice before everybody. Well. He’d show them. They’d be sorry. He didn’t deserve this sort of treatment.

He paused on the edge of the active group. His eyes swept the landscape, barren and mostly wild. Before him he could see the scar of rock that the eorl had spoken about. It looked intriguing and dangerous, somehow.

It took Javan less than ten seconds to decide to go explore it. Eodwine had said he wanted the new lands explored, had he not? There were helpers taking care of the other jobs that needed to be done. Javan, with a quick look behind him, started off at a run and concealed himself behind the burnt ruins. Then, keeping them between himself and the others, he started off for the scar.

littlemanpoet 01-19-2008 12:08 AM

To Javan's surprise he heard someone's feet running hard behind him. It was Rowenna, and she was catching up to him. She was fast!

"Boy," she huffed angrily, "some men may dismiss the Eorl's command," she stopped talking to run harder, her gown forgotten in her headlong chase, and she tackled him! Before he could find words to say what was in his mind, Rowenna had him face down on the ground, her knee in the small of his back. She was panting, but her grip on each of his two arms was like iron.

"As I was saying," she said, still breathing hard, "some men may dismiss the Eorl's command with a joke, but I do what I'm told, and I've been watching you, never too far away, and lucky for you it was so, for if you had escaped from my attention I would expect just punishment from the Eorl for failing of my duty; and you ~ you can be sure that I would have made you pay for that. As it is, you will now be punished for your own misdeed, silly little fool, and I'll get reward for doing as I was told."

She brought both his hands behind his back, and lifted him to his feet from the back, making his shoulders feel like they would burst form their sockets. He screamed and tears came to his eyes.

"Cry all you like, rascal, for your punishment will be harder from the Eorl than what he's given you so far. I'll see to that." With that, Rowenna holding his hands vise-like behind his back, she pushed him back to the work area, heading straight for Eodwine.

Folwren 01-19-2008 07:51 AM

She kept up a smart pace, even after that run, Javan noticed bitterly. He blinked back unwanted tears, tears he was ashamed of, but couldn’t help. His eyes were quickly dry and his anger swelled up bitterly within him.

“Let go of me, you disgusting witch! You have no right to come tackle me like that and drag be back to Eodwine!”

“Of course I do,” was the curt rejoinder.

They were drawing nearer. Javan tried to twist his wrists free from her hands, but he couldn’t get enough leverage with his arms behind him. People were sending curious and dark glances towards him.

“Let me go, Rowenna,” he hissed. “Let me go. I won’t be dragged to Eodwine like this.” Rowenna’s hands, if anything, only tightened and she gave him a sharp nudge, quickening his pace, until they came right to Eodwine.

littlemanpoet 01-19-2008 01:02 PM

"He tried to run away, my lord," Rowenna answered quickly, her grip still tight as ever on Javan's trapped arms.

"I wasn't-!" he blurted.

"Quiet!" Eodwine cut him off. "You were assigned work and a guardian. At least she did her job. You have earned yet another day of work to pay off your debt. We have no dungeon or I'd put you there. In the meantime, you will be bound and tethered between those two trees until you learn obedience. Once you have become sorry for your deeds in stead of merely sorry that you got caught, then we will see about you paying your debt.

"Garwine, take the boy and tie him up." Garwine stepped forth, chose another man at arms, and between the two of them tied the boy securely but not painfully at wrists and ankles, then took him to the trees Eodwine had pointed out.

Eodwine turned to Rowenna, his face unreadable. "I saw you there. You were ruthless."

She bowed her head. "I am sorry, my lord."

"No, you should not be sorry for having no ruth for doing as you were told." She raised her head, more hopeful. "You have done well."

Eodwine looked around at the others, who were now standing silently, watching. "That is all! Let us keep up the work for there is much to do!"

Kath 01-19-2008 01:54 PM

Kara had watched the whole sorry affair with Javan from a distance as she, Frodides and Ginna sorted through the things they had brought from the Hall. It would be a while before space for a kitchen was created but there were still things to be done in the meantime and some of those could be done on the cart.

Frodides had set herself up in the centre of the small wagon and was sorting through the various things needed to make an impromptu meal, calling out instructions as she went. In fact she kept up such a steady litany that it was only when she fell silent that Kara and Ginna looked up and saw that there was to be yet another confrontation between young Javan and Eodwine.

It seemed that everyone who had come from the Hall had stopped whatever they were doing to watch as Eodwine's usually generous nature, already stressed from discovering his new holdings to be a burnt out shell, finally snapped and he ordered Javan to be trussed up. The boy struggled all the way but got no sympathy from the kitchen crew, who fully agreed with Eodwine that he needed more punishment than he was currently receving if he was still breaking the rules.

"That boy is going to have to learn fast." Frodides stated, casting a critical eye over the furious form of Javan. "He asked to stay, he'll have to take the consequences. Now," she continued, switching right back into her job, "we're going to need some firewood if we want anything hot tonight. You two go and see if you can find some and I'll get everything set up here."

Kara and Ginna nodded and moved off, searching the immediate area for something to burn.

Firefoot 01-20-2008 02:05 PM

Placed in charge of securing the horses and livestock, Léof was at first at a loss. The stables looked unusable, and he wouldn’t be able to tell whether the fencing around the pastures was sound until he walked the whole perimeter. Trying to hobble them all would be impractical, especially if this arrangement lasted very long. So what to do? Then the obvious answer hit him: he could set up a picket line. There were enough trees standing nearby that it shouldn’t be too difficult, and Stigend and Garstan would probably have extra rope that he could use. At least, he hoped they would – builders used rope, right? He would be able to do it on his own, too, if no one lined up to help him out.

He waited until Thornden was finished conferring with Stigend and Garstan before approaching Stigend. “Say,” he said, “would you have enough extra rope for me to use for a picket line for the horses? There doesn’t seem to be any better way to secure them until I know whether the fencing in the pasture is in good repair.”

“How much do you need?” asked Stigend.

Léof glanced over the number of horses and decided there were too many to really fit comfortably on one line. “Two lengths of thirty or forty foot rope if you have it,” he said, hoping he wasn’t asking for too much.

Just then his eye was caught by Javan streaking off toward the scar, and Rowenna in quick pursuit after him. What ever is the fool boy trying to do now? He watched the struggle dumbfoundedly, his request for rope temporarily forgotten. When Eodwine ordered Javan tied up, Léof was not surprised, nor did he feel any pity for him. After everything he had done, he more than deserved it. There was work to be done here, and plenty of it, but not only was Javan not helping out, he was distracting others from theirs – which reminded him of his own duties. He turned back to Stigend expectantly.

Folwren 01-21-2008 08:34 AM

Furious has been used to describe Javan’s behavior, but the word nearly falls short of the feelings and emotions that pounded through the boy as he was bound, arms and legs outstretched. His body was rigid and he kept trying to pull his hands free of Garwine and Grimlin. But despite his struggling, he was soon tied up and left alone.

There anger and something akin to hate raged inside his head. With clenched jaw and burning eyes he looked out at everyone setting back to their work. His entire body was hot with embarrassment and anger. It never occurred to him that he had brought the shame upon himself. All he knew was that they could have made it ten times better, had not that woman gone after him – tackled him – Javan – to the ground! A tremor of contempt passed through him, for to be overcome by a woman was humiliating beyond anything Javan could dream of, just now.

And then Eodwine himself had treated him abominably. He didn’t allow him to speak at all - simply took that outlaw’s word for what had happened – and sent him away to be tied up like a regular criminal! In bitter sarcasm, Javan asked himself if later, when it fit the eorl’s convenience, he would come and have Javan beaten like a regular criminal. With how Eodwine had behaved, Javan thought it wouldn’t surprise him. Well, he’d bear it - and pay them all back for it in time. But what may have galled him more than all this being bound and tethered between two trees was that, as Javan was dragged off, Eodwine commended and rewarded Rowenna for her actions – actions that he himself had judged ruthless.

Javan turned his eyes from Eodwine and almost immediately latched onto Thornden. Thornden…the older brother who was Eodwine’s own right hand man. He had not said anything, hadn’t even stepped forward to begin to try to defend his younger brother. He had sat back and, like all the others, simply watched.

As Javan looked at him, Thornden lifted his head and turned toward Javan. Across the long space between them, their eyes met. Javan narrowed his eyes and Thornden could clearly see the pinched, angry look in his face before he turned away again and bent to continue working.

Thornden was silent. The talk that had flowed so freely between everyone before the scene caused by Javan had partially revived, but Thornden took no part in it. Although Javan was not aware of it, Thornden partook of his shame. But unlike the younger brother, Thornden put the blame on Javan and did not consider Eodwine or Rowenna at all wrong.

’Why, Javan?’ he asked inside his head. ‘Why did you do that? You act like an uneducated street urchin who has had no upbringing, not like the son of our father.’

Nogrod 01-21-2008 10:23 AM

Stigend shook his head and turned to face Léof again as Javan was getting dragged out from the fast trial.

"Oh, sorry Léof, how much did you say you needed?"

“Two lengths of thirty or forty foot rope... if you have it”, Léof answered.

"Hmm... that's a lot. I'm not sure how much we have it. The kids should have the ropes unpacked though...", Stigend glanced backwards only to notice the children following the incidence with Javan with a keen interest. There were only two bunches of rope unloaded in the grass at their feet.

"Cnebba, Garmund! Did you guys have something to do?" Hesitantly the two boys turned away from the tying of Javan and went back to the carts searching for the ropes peering backwards every now and then.

"I can't promise you that now but we'll soon find out." Stigend regretted. "But would you like to join me and Garstan while the kids search for the ropes? We'll be going to check the ruins for the ridgepole."

Léof looked surprised. "But hasn't it all burned down?"

"It looks like it did. But in longhouses like this the ridgepole is normally supported from under with slimmer deal planks which tend to burn fast thus letting the ridgepole to fall down early giving it a chance to survive the fire. They are valuable things as long, straight and thick trees are hard to find. And it would save us a lot of work if we could use a ready carved ridgepole to our baker without needing to fall, peel and carve two or more shorter trees from around."

Firefoot 01-24-2008 04:24 PM

“Well, alright,” Léof replied. His first instinct was to say that he really shouldn’t, he should work on tending the horses. But it was not as if they needed immediate attention; many of them had been tied down somewhere, and none of them would go far – it had been a long ride from Edoras and they were tired enough to stay put and graze. He couldn’t do anything until the kids dug up the ropes he needed, anyway. “That sounds fine,” he added, warming to the idea.

“Great,” said Stigend. “Between the three of us, we ought to be able to carry it back here, if we do find one. Now, where did Garstan get off to…?”

As if summoned by the mention of his name, Garstan promptly walked up. “About ready to go look for that ridgepole?” he addressed Stigend.

“Quite ready,” Stigend answered, “and Léof’s going to come with us while he’s waiting on the boys to unpack the rope.”

“Great,” said Garstan. “Let’s go, then.” As they started walking toward the ruins, Garstan turned to Léof and asked, “What do you need the rope for?”

“Yes, you do need a fair amount of it,” said Stigend.

“I was going to set up a picket line,” Léof explained. “I don’t know what kind of condition the fencing here is in, and until they can be released into some kind of pasture or housed in stalls, they need more space from other horses and more room to move around in than just tying their leads to the wagon will allow.”

Nogrod 01-25-2008 06:10 PM

The three; Stigend, Garstan and Léof walked towards the burnt hall.

”I see... but I think they will stay calm for a while after the journey as you said”, said Garstan as they approached the ruins.

The grass underneath their feet grew suddenly darker. First only the tops of the grass were charred but soon it was all black and wasted under their feet.

”But we need the lines before the sun sets... Who will go after the horses tomorrow if they’re left free to roam themselves overnight?” Léof insisted.

Garstan nodded fully knowing he had no answer to Léof’s concerns.

They walked over the charred grass. Stigend’s pace was resolute like he had his mind set only to the goal they had.

”This will just take a moment...” said Stigend who had now reached the stone structure and jumped over it landing on a pile of burnt debris. There was a burst of ash that spread over them all forming a kind of a cloud that denied them any view around for a while.

”Okay, c’mon! It’s just a ashes!”, Stigend yelled to his companions in the middle of the cloud of dust. After it started to settle down at the edges he called them once more. ”Do yo see anything. I can’t?”

”There, to your left! It looks like a pole that goes under the rabble!” Garstan called to Stigend.

“Good!” Stigend yelled. “Garstan! Go and check it! And throw away any stuff on top of it! Knock it then and listen if it’s firm or hollow!” He then turned to face Léof. “Follow me Léof, we’ll check the middle... that’s the most vulnerable part...”

A cloud of ashes bursted upwards as the three made their way towards the ridgepole. Many eyes turned to stare the phenomenon even if their own duties called them otherwise.

Finally Stigend and Léof reached the center of the earlier hall and started to pull away the debris. Even more ash was dusting around as they pulled charred planks and burnt grass fallen from the roof to clear the way.

“Here it is! It looks good!” Léof shouted as he had pulled the trash from on top of the ridgepole. “It must be this! It goes from there from where Garstan is standing to the other end.”

“Go to the other end of the building and find the other end. I’ll check if this is good enough” Stigend told Léof and turned towards the part of the ridgepole they had just uncovered.

He fell down to his knees and placed his ear towards the ridgepole knocking it with her wrist first. Then he took his hatchet and knocked the log with the backside of it listening intensly for the sound.

“Okay guys! It’s good! It has not burnt into the core! We can use it!” He looked at Garstan who was at the other end of the pole. “Just bring the debris around you down... we’ll lift it in a minute”

Stigend turned the other way seeing Léof struggling over the debris every now and then through the cloud of ashes his advence created.

Just waiting for Léof to make it to his end and to call for a lift-off Stigend looked around him.

There was a skull there just a few feet from his feet. He fell to his arms and started shoving away the burnt mixture of earth, grass and wood. It was a burnt skeleton of a child. And there was another one right beside the first one, an adult figure clinging to the child. Even if he hadn’t revealed all there was to it he had seen enough.

“Ready?” called Garstan when Léof had actually reached the other end of the hall and waved for him.

Stigend came to his senses soon enough and waved both ways. “With my call... one... two... three...”

The ridgepole emerged from under the debris and was hoisted above it. A cloud of ash bursted from the debris dropping down on the charred ground.

“Can you make it?” Stigend yelled hearing only groans and puffs of the others at first while wielding all the strenght he had himself to hoist the ridgepole up.

The ridgepole moved upwards but it was encircled by a cloud of ashes around where the pieces of charred debris tumbled off from it. Stigend felt his friends were up to the task as the weight of the pole lessened even if he couldn't actually see them.

“Let’s bring it out from here... Slowly... Slowly” he called.

The ridgepole started to move forwards. Slowly but steadily it moved... everyone bringing it on feeling the way the others carried it.

“Feel the pressure and act likewise!” shouted Garstan as they came towards the stony structure.

“I’m at the corner! Wait!” called Léof as he reached the actual corner of the house. “The corner is still intact here as it has not being burnt down! I need help! I can’t hoist this over it myself”

“Thornden!” Stigend yelled out aloud wishing to hear a reply.

"I'm here!" came the answer from near enough and from the direction Léof was in. "I'll help him..." Stigend couldn’t see Thornden from behind the cloud of ashes their advance had produced but he realised he was near Léof.

Hoisting the ridgepole over the higher corner required some effort from the four but eventually it came over.

Still panting Stigend turned to Léof and Thronden “Would either one of you take the middle? You three will easily bring this one to where we will build the baker..."

“What?” shouted Garstan.

“Just bring this ridgepole to where we will build our baker. I need to see lord Eodwine... there's something he needs to know. Let’s discuss this later” Stigend answered.

After Léof came to take his position Stigend rushed away from the burnt hall to meet his lord.

“Lord Eodwine!“ Stigend yelled as he ran out from the ruins and finally reached his master.

Eodwine turned to his carpenter and looked at him with a curious expression but he had already caught the tone of his retainer’s voice.

Stigend came close to Eodwine and then whispered. “There’s a child and an adult there... They’ve been burned inside.”

littlemanpoet 01-25-2008 10:22 PM

Stigend could not know how his news would affect Eodwine. When they had first arrived only to see the place and a fired ruin, Eodwine had been of a sudden brought back to fourteen years ago when he had returned from the War to the Gap of Rohan and his farm, only to find his own lands laid waste by the Dunlendings, and his wife and children burned inside the wreckage. The emotions were hardly less raw these many years later, and Eodwine had had to hold himself in check as he sat bestride his horse as the others gazed on the wreckage.

Now Stigend brought him news that a woman and child; no, an adult and child, had been found in the burnt ruin. Eodwine knew absolutely that it was a woman; he was simply sure of it. It was as if he was suddenly back in the Gap of Rohan confronted by all the horror of it once more.

Stigend saw his lord's face turn suddenly ashen, his shoulders slump. Perhaps he thought that his Eorl was unusually compassionate toward those who had died.

"How - how many?" Eodwine's mouth was dry and his tongue seemed unwilling to work. "Two children, did - did you-" Eodwine swallowed and shook his head absently. "No, you - you said one child, did - did you not?"

Folwren 01-26-2008 08:16 PM

Thornden lifted the ridgepole above the corner. Léof helped until it went above his head, and then he ducked beneath it and was ready to help lower it again as it came down the other side. Once it came down and rested again in Léof’s hands, Thornden scrambled down through the ruin to where Stigend had left the center of the pole. Once there, with a shout to signal each other, they lifted it again and at a stumbling gait, carried it out of the burnt ruins.

In two lifts - for the burden was very heavy, and Thornden was concerned for Léof’s slight build - they brought it to the place where the baker was to be built. There they set it down and the three of them panted for breath and dusted themselves off.

“Garstan,” Thornden said, walking towards him. “You will need more beams than just this…a couple posts, right?” Garstan took things into stock and nodded. “Then I think I shall go hunting for some trees to chop,” Thornden continued. “I’ll be back when I’ve got some to be hauled.”

He nodded and passed Garstan, intent on finding an axe. He crossed the lawn towards the wagons. His eyes wandered over the group, saw Rowenna helping Frodides, and Ginna and Kara wandering off on an errand of finding firewood, and then Eodwine and Stigend. Stigend’s back was to Thornden, but he could see Eodwine’s profile, and he stopped in his tracks. Something was obviously wrong. Even from ten yards away, Thornden could see from his very posture that Eodwine was badly affected by something.

Thornden momentarily forgot his quest to find an axe and his course changed. He hurried towards Stigend and Eodwine. “My lord?” he said, concerned. Eodwine looked pale and slightly disoriented. “My lord Eodwine,” Thornden said again, stopping opposite Stigend. Eodwine did not look at him, he was staring at the carpenter.

Nogrod 01-27-2008 07:59 AM

"How - how many?" lord Eodwine looked agitated. "Two children, did - did you-" Eodwine swallowed and shook his head absently. "No, you - you said one child, did - did you not?"

Stigend was not sure how he should react to the way his master took the news. Surely he hadn't said anything about two children anyway. There was something here he couldn't quite grasp.

"Yes my lord", Stigend managed to answer. "There was one child and one adult clinging to the child... like trying to protect the child. I saw no others." Stigend felt uneasy facing lord Eodwine's empty stare. He tried to wipe his face clean with the sleeve of his coat only to realise his coat was also covered with ash and thence only spread the dirt in his face.

Eodwine blinked hard once and cleared his throat. "I am sorry, Stigend. Your news has brought back nightmares from the War, if you understand me."

"I hadn't time to look further... I don't know if there were others there... Should I go and take another look there? They were quite in the middle of the hall near the hearth and the duct."

"My lord!" It was Thornden approaching them fast. "My lord Eodwine!"

Thornden looked at them both slightly disturbed. It looked like lord Eodwine had just came back from some dark inside journey somewhere far away from the here and now. He still looked frightfully concerned about something.

"What is it?" Thornden asked his uneasiness coming openly through his voice.

"There were charred bodies inside the house... an adult and a child...", Stigend answered cautiously glancing at his lord as he spoke.

Folwren 01-29-2008 08:45 PM

Thornden looked again at Eodwine. It was bad, certainly, very bad news, but was it such to elicit such a reaction from Eodwine? Had he known those that had died? Was there something else that disturbed him about this?

“Stigend,” Eodwine said, he need not have addressed him by name, for the eorl could hardly have had anyone else’s attention more firmly fixed upon him. “You say you did not search farther?”

“No, but I can,” Stigend answered.

“My lord,” Thornden said, interrupting gently, but quickly. “My lord, there is nothing that can be done now. The work must continue. Stigend’s skills are needed. You would not want your own people to sleep without a roof tonight, and go to bed with empty stomachs. Let someone else search the ruins, if they must be explored at once.”

‘Not you,’ he nearly added. He did not like how these tidings affected Eodwine. Something wasn’t right. Sure, it was startling, and yes, perhaps the extra strain added to Eodwine being in the status of lordship had made the shock worse, but even so. . .

He ventured to make a suggestion. “Perhaps today, to keep the rest from becoming too excited, no one should go there.”

littlemanpoet 01-30-2008 09:57 AM

Eodwine blinked, apparenlty for the fist time in a minute or so, for his eyes stung. Thornden spoke sense.

"So it shall be. No one goes to the ruins today. Stigend, you will be needed to oversee the building of the baker. Thornden, you and Garstan and Harreld should aid him, with the help of others. I shall oversee the doings of the rest of us. Go now."

The two bowed their heads slightly and with a quick glance to each other, which communicated volumes of their misgivings nonetheless, they returned to the work.

Eodwine saw the Léof had gotten the rope he needed, and was about to try to do all his work on his own. Eodwine caught up and joined him.

"You will need more hands to help you. How many do you want?"

Folwren 01-31-2008 10:15 AM

Thornden and Stigend turned away from Eodwine together and quietly walked away. “I was on my way to find an axe when I saw you,” Thornden said. “Stigend. . .” he plucked his sleeve lightly as he stopped. The carpenter turned to face him. “Don’t go talking about what you saw back there. Not yet. I don’t think it would be good to spread such news.”

“Yes, I agree,” Stigend said, nodding. “But what if Garstan or Léof, who were nearby when I found them, what if they ask me? I would not lie to them.”

“No,” Thornden replied. “No, I would not have you do so. If that happens, do what you think best. I’m off to find an axe and to hunt for trees to work as beams and poles.”

The two parted company. Thornden soon found an axe and headed off towards the belt of trees. He passed near Javan on his way. The brother’s exchanged brief glances, but nothing else. Soon, Thornden was nearly out of sight from the others, searching for a properly sized tree to fell. The silence of the woods and the country settled about him, and he slowly felt tension leave him. He found a tree about three inches in diameter, glanced up and down the entire trunk. He decided that it would work and set his axe to the base.

Firefoot 02-01-2008 11:50 AM

By the time they had returned with the ridgepole, Cnebba and Garmund seemed to have gotten the rope situation figured out, so Léof left the business of the ridgepole to the others and headed over to them. He counted out the lengths of rope with some help from the boys, but in the meantime he became aware of the discussion Stigend was having with Eodwine some ways away. It only registered vaguely with him until he saw Thornden hurry over, and Léof then realized by their stances and gestures that something was not quite right. Had Stigend noticed something back there at the ruins? Well, it wasn’t any of his business, and hardly his job to interrupt, but maybe he would ask about it later… if it came up.

Now it was his job to secure the horses – and the other livestock. Of course, how had he forgotten? The four cattle would be easy, he could tie them up with the horses. And the pigs could be roped down somewhere… but what did one do with chickens?

As he was pondering this Eodwine approached him. "You will need more hands to help you. How many do you want?"

Help, he had forgotten about finding some help. He would have remembered it shortly enough, once he figured out what he was doing. “Two ought to be enough,” he said. He paused. “Two people, that is, not two hands.” Was that supposed to be a joke?

“Yes, of course,” answered Eodwine, who didn’t quite seem to catch it.

“I was thinking that Lys should be available,” Léof offered.

“Yes, find him. And I will find someone else for you,” said Eodwine.

“Thank you, lord,” said Léof, and they parted ways. He looked around for Lys, spotted him in short order, and headed in that direction, wondering how long it would be before this place found some semblance of order.

littlemanpoet 02-08-2008 10:14 AM

Eodwine picked out one of his newer men at arms and told him to help the ostler set up things for the animals. That done, he walked around a bit, here and there, to get a sense of everything everyone was doing.

There were Stigend and Garstan busy with the baker. Garmund and Cnebba had gotten all the rope needed and were bringing it to Léof. Frodides was busy giving orders left and right to Kara, Ginna, Rowenna and Modtryth, all of whom were staying at least up with her orders if not running ahead of her. It was impressive to watch. There was Javan sitting where he'd been put, looking miserable.

Where was Thornden? Eodwine looked here and there. Maybe he had headed off scouting out the grounds. Eodwine walked around to the back side of the ruin, but Thornden could not be seen from there. Eodwine peered into the mess, wondering where the dead mother and child were in the midst of it all. He forced down an urge to go look.

He cast his eyes out over the distance, to the borders back out front, and saw a tall sapling quivering amid the dead calm of the other trees. What? He looked closer. Somebody was trying to chop it down! No! Eodwine didn't want any of those trees chopped down! Who was doing it? Eodwine ran; maybe he could stop him.

But no, the tree started to fall before he had gotten halfway there.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" he yelled.

"My lord?"

Eodwine stopped. It was Thornden, of all people. Eodwine started walking toward him.

"Thornden, please don't chop down any more of these trees. Look around you - there are so few here abouts. I want all the rest of these to stay where they are."

Nogrod 02-11-2008 09:02 AM

Building the baker I
Building a baker was something Stigend had learned when he was about the same age as Cnebba was now. His father had built one with him back then showing every trick there was to making it good. After that Stigend used to build bakers every youthful summer he had. They were his own hide-outs, the places he could call his, where he could be on his own. But this one had a bit different proportions. It was going to be a huge baker. Stigend had to sit down and make some calculations before he was ready to start dealing instructions.

Finally he stood up and called for everyone around to come closer.

"Okay people. Let's begin with this ridgepole for it's the toughest one." He glanced at the huge log that lay on the grass. "The rest should be quite easy."

He turned to Garstan and Harreld. "How's your climbing?"

Harreld nodded but Garstan seemed a bit insecure. "I'm not a squirrel but... I'll make it."

Stigend gave his friend a short laugh even if he was a bit worried. Fitting a ridgepole of this size high up there was no laughing matter and Stigend knew it. Suddenly he saw Léof and Lys walking past them.

"Léof!" he called him. "Do you climb?"

Léof stopped and turned. "I do, why?"

"Could the lines wait yet a few moments? We'd need someone to take the third tree. And we need confident climbers..."

Léof glanced at Lys. They nodded to each other and came forwards.

"Good. Garstan you should be the overseer down here. That's okay to you?"

"That is fine." Garstan looked openly relieved.

Then Stigend turned towards the two boys standing idly around. "Garmund and Cnebba! You should take the first round though. Take three of the longest ropes, one to each of us and also one shorter for me as well."

As the boys went on picking the ropes Stigend told the others what they would do. "Garmund and Cnebba will take those two where we can use the locks of the lowest branches and will carry the rope over them. I'll take that one where we need to let the pole hang on a rope. Meanwhile you should tie the ridgepole to the loose ends of the ropes we're carrying up so that when the kids are back down here you can pull the pole up. When it's high enough tie the ends somewhere and then you Harreld and Léof should both climb your own trees. We'll fit the pole to it's place up there. Any questions?"

littlemanpoet 02-14-2008 09:54 AM

Falco Boffin
It was useful being half the size of all these Big Folk, and twice as quiet into the bargain when he chose to be. It was easy to ignore hobbits, especially when they wanted to be ignored.

Falco had put away his pipe and kept out of the way. Once everybody was set to some sort of work or another, none had thought for him, especially with that silly Javan around to draw everyone's attention away.

Hobbits are good climbers as a rule, but this was heavy work these Big Folk were doing up in the trees, and it would have been more than he could manage with his small size.

So he strolled nonchalantly out to the front of the land, this place called Scarburg, and had a look-see. It was quiet. The breeze was mild, blowing from the west across the land. If land you could call it. It reminded Falco of the part of the Shire just west of the Brandywine, the land all swampy and the roads built high so they wouldn't get flooded. Except this land was swampy without the roads being high, and Falco bet that they did get flooded when there was enough rain. Then again, was there enough rain? It seemed a dicey place to try to make a go of farming and what not. He started down the lane with an eye to scouting the perimeter. He would have to be extra careful when he came to where Thornden was chopping down that sappling, as Eodwine had headed that way, and Falco did not want to be seen. Not right now.

Folwren 02-20-2008 11:21 AM

Thornden stayed his axe and looked up. The eorl’s voice was at first almost unrecognizable. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Thornden turned and rested the axe head on the ground, waiting until the man running towards him came fully into view.

“My lord?” he said, not quite sure of it.

“Thornden,” Eodwine said, slowing his pace and walking forward. “Please don’t chop down any more of these trees. Look around you - there are so few here abouts. I want all the rest of these to stay where they are.”

Thornden looked at him, still confused, and feeling slightly exasperated. Eodwine was acting very oddly today and now his order made no sense. “What do you want me to do, then?” he asked finally. “What would you have us build with? Dead sticks?”

littlemanpoet 02-20-2008 10:02 PM

"With stones. The Scar is filled with stones, large and small. I fear we have no stone hewer by trade, and it would help if we did, but I want the new Hall to be made of stone. We can cut our wood from out of the swamps. I know it will be harder, but I would not have this land be more desolate than it already is."

Thornden looked at him questioningly, almost as if he was not certain his lord was in his right mind.

Eodwine heaved a frustrated sigh. "This is not something I have dreamed up in the last hour. I have given thought to this much since the King first commanded me to come here."

Folwren 02-22-2008 09:53 PM

Thornden was sorry and a little ashamed of his shortness with Eodwine. He finally looked down, away from the eorl’s face and stepped back, relaxing his posture slightly. But he still didn’t know what to say.

“I suppose,” he said slowly, “if you have thought of it for so long, then you must have some plans for how it is to be carried out.” He personally could not see it, though – not with the people they had. To build a house of stone would take masons, men who knew how to carve the rock and lay it. “But we will think on that later. I am cutting this for what Stigend is building now, my lord. To house us until your hall is built. You will forgive me this tree, at least?”

He knew Eodwine would, but in the back of his mind, he was wondering what he would tell Stigend and Garstan when he returned to tell them that he could only get this one tree. Would it be enough? What else would they use for beams across the roof? Would this and the main ridgepole be enough? Well, they would decide. Thornden knew little about building and he was there merely to be told what to do and to put his hands to use when he could.

littlemanpoet 02-23-2008 09:32 AM


"You will forgive me this tree, at least?”

Eodwine smiled. "I have done so already. I will lend a hand with the carrying, if you wish."


Falco had overheard the conversation, and now moved on. Once beyond their hearing, he spoke aloud but quietly to himself.

"A house of stone, he wants, not of wood. Better to burrow underground, needing neither stone nor wood overmuch, just good solid earth; but the earth is not solid hereabouts, and I suppose it would not take much digging before one came to soggy ground."

Falco continued walking along the borders of the land, as well as he could make them out.


Rowenna kept busy with Frodides, Kara, Modtryth and Ginna now that the responsibility for Javan had been taken from her. She was very pleased to have received the lord's praise, and her eyes followed him as he walked hither and thither across the grounds. He was turning out to be a more interesting man than she had perhaps credited him with.

She wondered what had been the matter before, when Stigend had brought news of the charred bodies in the ruin? It was as if he had been lost in an evil memory. Had he said that it was something to do with the War? She had been a mere child, running around the farm, missing her pa, who had also been at the War but had returned. She had heard stories, many stories, of the heroic deeds of King Éomer and Lady Éowyn, and of King Elessar and the Wizard Gandalf, now gone over Sea, they said, and of Holbytla, four in number, one of whom had saved them all from the Dark Lord. Rowenna's mind strayed to Falco Boffin, and she found it hard to believe that such a small, silly creature could do such a deed. She wanted to know more about it, especially from Lord Eodwine. He was like her father, but also unlike, and she found him interesting.

There he was, talking to Thornden yonder by the tree he was cutting down. Did he notice her at all? Or did he not think of her unless she did something to draw his notice? She had started to wonder what it might be like to be the Lady of the House of Eodwine.

Harreld Smith

Harreld didn't like heights, but he was not about to seem weak in front of these others; not in front of Ginna, whether she cared for him or not. He kept a vice-grip on the rope for which he was responsible, hanging on to a tree limb with his other hand, trying to wrap his legs against the chafing trunk of the tree. He tried not to look down, and was very ready for this part of the baker building to be over.

Folwren 02-24-2008 06:50 PM

“I will lend a hand with carrying, if you wish,” Eodwine offered.

“Certainly, my lord,” Thornden said. “Thanks. Let me trim away some of the extra branches and leaves that we won’t need and the task will be easier.” He bent again to work, taking off smaller branches and useless twigs and things which would cause discomfort and provide no use. He wanted to ask Eodwine about why he had acted so strangely about the bodies in the ruins. He wanted to ask him how he intended to build a house of stone. He wanted to ask him other things, too, but he kept quiet as he worked. He wished above all else not to encroach upon Eodwine and his personal thoughts and feelings.

“There,” he said finally, standing up. He slipped the axe into his belt. “I think we can drag it now.” He went to where the lowest branches forked away from the trunk and he took one in his hand and lifted up. Eodwine positioned himself directly opposite Thornden and they started off.

The task proved easier than Thornden expected. They progressed quickly out of the belt of trees and across the clearing towards the burned house and the people working about. They passed nearby Javan, tied to his trees. Once more, the brother’s caught eachother’s eye. Thornden turned to Eodwine.

“How long are you going to keep him tied up? Javan, that is.”

littlemanpoet 02-29-2008 09:41 AM

"How long are you going to keep him tied up? Javan, that is."

Eodwine glanced at Thornden to see what expression could be read in his face: he was giving away nothing. But Eodwine understood brotherly concern. The tree trunk dragged between them, not even cutting a ditch in the hard, rocky ground.

"I will talk to him at sundown, after the others have eaten. He needs, I deem, an empty stomach to help his thinking. If he sees sense, and swears to do what he is told, then I will see about untying him.

"Do you wish to be involved in the talk?"

The sound of the tree trunk, and their footsteps, was the only sound for a moment.

Folwren 03-01-2008 11:15 PM

Thornden dragged his burden along in silence for a moment, his eyes skimming along the ground ahead. He wanted to, yes, but on the other hand, he did not. He did not think that it would be entirely appropriate.

“No,” he finally answered. “In such a case as this, the fact that I am his brother should be entirely disregarded.” He felt Eodwine looking at him. “My lord, if he were anyone else, I do not think I would want to, or that I would seek to interfere on his behalf. And I won’t allow myself to act so, simply because he is my brother. He has acted badly.” He glanced up and met Eodwine’s eyes briefly. “Very badly.”

They trudged on again without saying anything. Thornden wanted to ask him if Eodwine thought he would really take anything Javan swore seriously – if he believed that Javan would actually hold to his word - but they were drawing too close to Stigend and Garstan to ask such a question.

littlemanpoet 03-02-2008 12:56 PM

Well that hadn't turned into much. Falco had an urge to assuage his disappointment by having a good smoke on his pipe, but decided that would give him away, so he just continued moving through the brush beneath the line of trees.

He came to marshland, which stretched out before him from the Scar to his left, and to right as far as he could see. What a miserable stretch of land! Behind him and to his right lay the land of the neighbor whom they did not yet know. It was well tilled and therefore seemed prosperous enough, raised a foot or so, and sloping gently up toward the center of the holding where the landholder's home and outbuildings were located.

Falco considered following the border of the neighbor's land, but decided to wait on that until another day. He turned left and discovered a low and somewhat ruined stone wall. It was built of many large stones, uncut and rough; in many places at one or more stones had fallen and lay derelict in the mud of the marsh or as loose rubble just inside the land Eodwine now called his. The stone wall stretched all the way to the Scar, and Falco followed it that far.

The Scar itself was apparently not one ridge of rough and stony hill, but three separate ridges with rough brambly valleys between each one. Not a nice place at all! Falco wondered how it had gotten there, and thought back to a talk he had had with Mayor Samwise Gardener, who had explained to him that Mister Frodo had it from the Elves that a Dark Lord from many ages past had marred all that had been wrought by the Valar; whatever they were, some kind of creatures who were good folk and could put earth and sky and tree and water where they wished. Falco decided that he would not want to meet up with such folk; surely the would be bigger trouble than any Man he had ever met, no matter how 'good'.

He scrabbled up the first low rise, stones and brambles creating a maze every step of the way. He worked his way back down the uneven ground to the stony and uncomely valley beyond, and saw footprints that appeared to be recent. Falco's curiosity was piqued right away. Who could this be? Was it friend or enemy of Eodwine's House? Was it a thief or robber? He followed the footprints, going more quietly and cautiously than ever.

littlemanpoet 03-15-2008 10:48 AM

At long last, the sun was setting. Much had been accomplished. The "baker" was set up and Frodides and her helpers had started preparing a big repast to make up for a cold and sparse luncheon. Eodwine had ordered that two kegs be readied and that folk be encouraged to consider this supper their celebration, for after the baker had been completed and the animals situated to Léofric's satisfaction, two big tents had been erected, one for the women and one for the men with a promise from Eodwine to Stigend and Modtryth that families would be set up with their own tents on the morrow. The only other project Eodwine could think of that could not be delayed past the morrow was to set up Harreld with a temporary smithy. He talked with Harreld about what would be satisfactory for the next couple of days while they worked on a real smithy, and having gotten a good idea from him and an idea how to accomplish it, Eodwine felt that all was about as good as he could hope before sundown. But one thing remained to be done: Javan.

He walked slowly over to where the boy sat, looking sulky and as if he was feeling very sorry for himself. The ropes had been left with enough slack in them so that Javan could pick up a jar of water and drink from it, so he was not thirsty. But he had watched all the others eat while he did not. Eodwine came to a stop and stood before him.

"Javan, can you tell me the wrong that you did?"

Javan looked at him. The angry fire had died hours ago, but hot coals still remained, smoldering. He shook his head. "Not until my lord tells me the wrong that you did."

The boy's response felt like a kick in the face. Eodwine was unable to control a momentary flinch and scowl, but quickly brought his face back to calmness. He crossed his arms in front of him involuntarily. The boy's insolence was astounding. This was going to be a hard battle of wills. Eodwine was tempted to answer him abruptly with a punishment of all night on the ropes to think on his foolishness, and call it done, but held himself from it. Then he thought of the best response he could make.

"You are not in a position to bargain, Javan. As your Eorl and lord of the house you are given to, I may do with you what I deem best. Take thought and answer again, only this time with care."

Javan looked back down away from Eodwine's face. He considered for a long pause, and then he shook his head again. "I don't understand why I should be treated so when the first fault lies with you. I do not mean to be rude, sir, and I am not bargaining, but I am being treated and punished unfairly."

The boy was being serious! Very well. "Tell me what you think would be appropriate punishment for a boy who has proven that he cannot be trusted when out of sight because he burned down my stables and owes me one hundred days of labor, and who knows he is to do as he is told and stay where he can be seen, yet runs away at his first chance?"

Javan felt a slow heat spread up his neck and into his face. He answered with clipped tones. "I would not have gone if you had not so humiliated me by saying before all the others that 'Rowenna, you can take Javan-'" his voice altered slightly, bordering very, very near mockery, to make the quotation "- after naming all the jobs that had to be done. Besides," he grumbled, "you wanted the place explored."

The boy was making poor excuses and needed to be caught out on his own thinking every bit as much as on his misdeeds. "Think less on how you look to others and more on how your misdeeds hurt or harm others." If his words did not sink in with the boy now, and Eodwine was not sure they did, then he would have to speak more plainly yet. "Your duty is to do no more and no less than you are told, to your face. Javan, will you do your duty?"

Another long pause followed. Javan's eyes and face drooped farther until he was looking at the ground just before the eorl's boots. He thought of Leof and how he had been hurt when the stables burned. Slowly, Javan nodded his head. "Yes, lord. I will do my duty. But..." he looked up slowly. Eodwine waited. "Will you be fair to me?"

Just a little while longer, Eodwine, he schooled himself. "You did not answer my earlier question, and I cannot answer your new question until you do. So, again, what would be fair punishment for a boy who has proven that he cannot be trusted when out of sight and who knows he is to do as he is told and stay where he can be seen, yet runs away at his first chance? Answer straightly now."

Javan squirmed slightly, uncomfortable with the question. He wanted to say 'I don't know', but he somehow knew Eodwine would not allow that. His mind cast about for different answers. Almost unwittingly, he thought back on home. He shot a swift glance towards Eodwine. Why must there be any punishment just now? What he wanted was to be let off, but that's not what the eorl had asked.

"At home," Javan began quietly, and then stopped. He shifted on the ground again. "At home, if I disobeyed or ran off instead of doing the chores, father would thrash me," he mumbled. "But you've already punished me!"

His father's punishment did not work, thought Eodwine, for punishment wrought in anger heaps a double revenge back on the punisher. Eodwine had thought the boy spoiled for lack of punishment, but here it turned out that it was for foolish punishment. "I will not and would not thrash you or anyone. I do not punish in anger but toward an end. In your case, one end has been to relieve my men and women from having to run after you again and again. Had I a room to lock you in, I would have done so. Another end has been to get you alone and still long enough in body to make you think. I have also seen fit to make you hungry, which is little pain though no joy, I know. I made you hungry to help you think carefully, for if you still answer poorly, hunger will stay with you.

"So now you know my ends in how I have punished you. Do you still think them unfair? And if so, I ask you yet again what punishment deserving of your misdeeds would suit it better? Or has your punishment been meet?"

Javan did think carefully, for he was very hungry and the thought of going without any supper at all worried him. Besides that, Eodwine's reasoning seemed perfectly solid, there were no holes or cracks to squeaze through and escape. He wanted to think of something, an excuse, a delay, something that proved him not quite so guilty as Eodwine thought. But he reconsidered everything that had just been said and came out with nothing.

Finally, feeling himself defeated and being half resentful therefore, he answered. "No, sir. The punishment was not unfair." Further words lingered on his tongue - 'But you should not have allowed Rowenna to treat me so' or 'But you might have not done it in front of everybody' - and only a twinge from his empty stomach stopped them.

The boy's words were the right ones, but said sullenly, which belied that he thought differently than he spoke, in some unknown way. Eodwine knew that his goal was to conquer the boy's insolence into submission, and the temptation was to allow him to save face; but there was a better goal, which was not only to get the boy to see what was right, but to convince him to want to do what was right.

"I will see that you have supper. You will stay here, though. We are not finished with this." Eodwine walked away toward the makeshift kitchen.

littlemanpoet 03-23-2008 02:46 PM

When Eodwine arrived at the kitchen, he ordered Kara to give Javan something he could eat in his current predicament. Given her nod and "yes lord", he moved on to where the others sat at supper. Falco appeared to be the center of attention, especially of the children. Where had the hobbit been all day? He couldn't remember seeing him anywhere all afternoon. Eodwine began to listen to see if the hobbit would provide an answer himself.

"I got as far as the Scar off northeast away, and there I found tracks, so I followed 'em."

"What kind of tracks were they, Master Falco?" asked Cnebba, full of interest.

"They was human tracks, booted no less."

"Did you find who it was that made them?" asked Garmund.

"Maybe I did an' maybe I didn't," the hobbit answered with a grin, and would say no more, but busied himself with his ham hock, black bread, and ale.

Folwren 03-23-2008 09:13 PM

Thornden saw Eodwine return from speaking with Javan and immediately moved nearer him. When he heard Eodwine’s order to Kara, he waited until the eorl had passed on to listen to Falco and then he went after Kara.

“Can I take it to him?” he asked her as she cut some bread and laid it on a trencher. She looked up over her shoulder at him.

“I didn’t know you had followed me,” she said. She turned back to the food. “You would know better than I if you could take it. Let me cut some ham for him first, so that he can eat it…” She picked up a knife as she spoke and carved generous slices off for him. Then she rose and handed the plate to Thornden.

“Thank you,” he said.

The distance from the baker to where Javan was bound was several yards. Thornden had many seconds to study his brother as he approached, and Javan had just as much time to scowl back at him.

“Here is your supper,” Thornden said, setting it down within reach of Javan’s hands.

“Thanks,” Javan muttered.

Thornden expected the boy to act starved and set swiftly into the meal, but Javan did not seem in a hurry and he picked up the meat and began to eat at a regular pace.

“Aren’t you terribly hungry?” Thornden asked.

“Yes. Or, I was,” Javan replied. “But lord Eodwine is going to come back when I’m through and talk to me again.”

“That is not such a bad thing, is it?” Thornden asked. “He hasn’t yelled at you, nor done anything worse than tie you up, and done it so you can be somewhat comfortable. He could have been harder.” Javan did not answer. Thornden sighed and sat down in front of him and waited.

After a minute of silence, beside the noise of chewing, Javan glanced up. “Can’t you untie me, so I can eat properly?” Thornden shook his head. “You people are ridiculous.”

“Your own foolish childishness got you here.” Javan gave him a black look. “I was ashamed of being your brother today,” Thornden told him.

“And I was not happy to be yours!” Javan burst out. “You didn’t say a word! Didn’t stand up for me at all! I could just as well have been a complete stranger, for all you did about it!”

Thornden got up. “I am not going to interfere with Eodwine’s orders on your behalf. Not when you so obviously deserve it. I hope lord Eodwine knows what he’s doing when he comes back and talks with you again. You obviously haven’t learned any lesson from this.”

“And you’re scolding me does teach me something,” Javan said bitterly.

“I don’t know what will teach you anything,” Thornden replied, his voice quieter this time. “I just hope something will.” He turned and walked away.

piosenniel 03-24-2008 10:14 PM

This thread is now open for play.

All players need to familiarize themselves with the Scarburg Meadhall Discussion Thread.

Please get the Abbreviated Character Bio form shown there done for your characters and posted to that thread in a timely manner.

Any NEW players to this continuation of The Eorling Mead Hall game must post their character bio(s) on the Scarburg Discussion Thread prior to posting to this game.


~*~ Pio

will remove this once every one has posted to the game.....

littlemanpoet 03-26-2008 05:56 PM

Having finished his supper, Eodwine walked over to Javan again. The boy looked none the happier for having eaten, but Eodwine did not expect more.

"Did you get food?"

Javan nodded. "Yes. Thornden brought some for me. Are you going to untie me now? He said he could not, I guess you hadn't told him to."

"Not yet. There is still something that has not been dealt with between you and me." Eodwine looked for a comfortable place to sit, but decided that being at eye level with the lad would not be wise at the moment; seeing no rock or branch close by big enough to hold his weight, he remained standing. "You are too full of how you appear before others. Why is that?"

Javan wondered what the eorl was driving at. What did this have anything to do with it? What did he want? Why did he have to stay tied? In the time that it took to ask these questions in his head, he remained in what probably appeared to Eodwine to be obstinate silence. His answer confirmed the assumption. "I don't know what you mean," he said. He saw Eodwine draw a breath and open his mouth, probably to explain more clearly, as quietly and gently as he always did. "I mean," Javan pressed on a little more loudly, "I don't know what you intend me to do - be happy with humiliation?"

"No. I intend to teach you not to get yourself into scrapes that bring about your own humiliation. The problem with you, Javan, is that you think first of yourself, whether to bring yourself pleasure, or to avoid pain and humiliation. You need to stop thinking first of yourself, and start thinking first of others. What if you had thought of others' needs before your own desires when you went running off this morning?"

Javan felt frustrated, and stubborn. He still did not understand how his behavior earlier had harmed anyone. He knew that burning the stables had been wrong, even if it was an accident, and he understood the consequences for that, but this had not hurt anyone, it would never have hurt anyone, and if anything, it would only have freed one person of having to keep an eye on him. He therefore kept his mouth shut - more than shut, he clenched his jaw - and he kept his eyes fixed steadily on the ground in front of him.

Javan was saying nothing. Eodwine was ready for this. "Javan, you must answer or you must remain here for the night. Make your choice."

"You can't leave me tied up all night!" Javan blurted out without thinking, alarmed at the threat. Javan stopped, recoiled and tried to recover his calm. "I mean, I don't know how to answer! Running off wouldn't have caused anyone any harm or inconvenience! Honest, it wouldn't've!"

"Think, Javan! Did not Rowenna have to chase you? She was inconvenienced. Everyone who has been charged to look after you has been inconvenienced. Having to look after an irresponsible boy because he cannot be trusted to look after himself is an inconvenience. Begin to show some responsibility and you will no longer be an inconvenience to others. Do you understand, Javan? Think carefully before you answer, for I most certainly can and will leave you tied up all night if I think it will do you good."

Javan shrank back into himself further. Eodwine meant all that he said entirely, and Javan had no reason in the world to doubt it now. His words were piercing and humbling and Javan hung his head in shame.

When Eodwine was done, Javan answered quietly, almost too quietly to be heard. "Yes, sir," was all he said.

Eodwine got down on his left knee, his right elbow resting on his raised right knee. He brought new intensity to his voice, not with the hard will with which he had been speaking, but with hope in his tone. "Very well. You have a choice now, Javan, whether to become a man or forever be a boy no matter how many years you live. To become a man is to be good for your word, to be the first one to question your own behavior, to seek to do right by all, and thereby to do right by yourself. It is to be a man of honor, an Eorling, like your brother. Like the King in Meduseld. Or-" Eodwine paused for effect. "-or you could choose to remain one who must be looked after and not trusted. Would you rather be a mounted knight of the Eored, or a mere vagabond?"

Of course the answer was obvious, put in those words. "I want to be a man," Javan replied, glancing upwards briefly. "I'll try. I will try." Then doubt confronted him suddenly. "But what if I forget to think first? Like when I lit the fire or ran off? Then you will never trust me, and you will always think I am nothing better than - than a vagabond."

Eodwine smiled. "Mending one's ways takes time. I have time and so do you. I want one vow from you and one only, that you will never give up trying to become a man of honor, and in return I make this vow to you, that I will treat you as if you are my son; for I have begun to do so already. If you will so swear, so will I. Will you?"

Javan finally looked up at him and met his eyes. Although the light of day was almost gone and dim shadow covered lord Eodwine, Javan still saw the earnest gentleness in his face.

"I will swear," Javan said after a long pause.

Eodwine smiled but did not allow his expression to show too much elation. This was serious business, especially for this boy. "Very well. I will untie you. Walk with me, and you and I will swear in sooth before witnesses." Eodwine loosed the boy's bonds and stood up to wait, for the boy to shake loose his limbs and walk with him, or get up, turn tail and flee: this was the first test.

Javan first rubbed his wrists, for although the ropes had not been tied tightly, they had chaffed against his skin all day. Then he rose, wincing as his cramped muscles were stretched. Pressing his lips together in attempt to conceal the discomfort, he nodded to Eodwine, indicating he was ready to go.

Eodwine nodded. "Come, Javan, walk beside me." They walked side by side back to the others.

Kath 03-27-2008 02:23 PM

Kara smiled to see Eodwine finally untie Javan and head back towards them, with the Eorl looking happier and Javan at least less mutinous than he had earlier. Those events had only been on the periphery of her awareness for most of the day however, as helping to build a makeshift kitchen and then getting a meal ready for all the hungry people that had been labouring all day had taken most of her attention. In addition, once she and Ginna had returned from fetching what little free wood there was to find they had been given the extra duty of keeping an eye on Leodern, who was too little to climb the trees and help like the other children but was sure to get in the way and get hurt if she wasn't watched.

Surprisingly though it was Frodides who took over care of the little girl, leaving Kara and Ginna to deal with dinner. It seemed that the older cook had decided to give her two proteges a little more responsibility after their move to Scarburg, something that both girls had taken on happily though they doubted it would last once a real kitchen existed for Frodides to reign over again.

In the meantime they had taken the advantage of a distracted supervisor to have a good old gossip. It was something Frodides would likely have enjoyed, but without the usual soundproofing offered by the thick walls at the old Mead Hall there would have been no way to stop everything she said being heard by those that shouldn't hear it. As well as that, Kara wanted to talk to Ginna about a certain master Harreld, and she knew the girl trusted her to keep anything she heard quiet than she did Frodides. Ginna hadn't known the older woman as long as Kara had, and didn't yet realise that despite Frodides’ love of a good chat, she would take a confidence to the grave.

“So,” Kara started quietly, “have you thought any more about Harreld?”

Ginna gave her friend a startled look, her head then shooting to the side to check that no one else had heard.

“What do you mean?” She replied, hoping this wasn’t going where she thought it might be.

“Well, last I heard you’d given him the brush off.” Kara continued. “I thought perhaps he might be discouraged from coming here because of that and yet here he is, so I was wondering if maybe you’d said anything more to him?”

Ginna shook her head slowly, a slight frown on her face as she concentrating on her work.

“I thought … I doubted that he would come to Scarburg, I thought I had, well, it doesn’t matter.”

Now it was Kara’s turn to frown. She had thought this would be a rather light conversation, having assumed that Harreld’s appearance had been due to words between him and Ginna. She was obviously mistaken, but now wanted more information if only in order to help stop her friend looking so despondent.

“It matters if it’s upsetting you.” She said gently, hoping to draw Ginna out a bit but not wanting to push. She thought that perhaps Ginna felt that she had said enough as she didn’t reply for a long moment, but eventually she put down what she was doing, stared down at her hands and began to speak.

“It does upset me, but it’s my own fault. I led him on Kara, I … I knew how he felt and I knew that my own feelings didn’t stretch as far and yet I let him think that they did. I feel so guilty for that. I just, I was in such a new place with so many new people and it was nice to know that I, well that I had a little bit of power I suppose, and that was just cruel of me. And now I don’t know how to talk to him or even if I should because I know that I’ve hurt him and I want to make it better somehow, but I just don’t know how.”

The words came out in a jumble, she had obviously been holding all of this in for a long time, but the feelings behind them were clear. Kara was saddened to see the glint of tears in Ginna’s eyes and went to comfort her. Putting an arm around Ginna’s shoulders she pulled her friend close and stroked her hair, just as she’d have done with Leodern.

“I’m sorry.” She said. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s alright.” Ginna replied, voice tight as she tried to control the desire to cry. “I think maybe I needed to talk about it. I did a horrible thing and I want so much to make it right but I’m scared that I can only make things worse.”

“You haven’t spoken to him at all since …?”

“No. I want to, but every time I imagine what I might say to him there’s just a blank. I have no idea what to do for the best so I decided to just leave it and hope that maybe with time and a new place he might forgive me. I’m not sure I deserve it but I hate that I feel scared every time we pass each other.”

“Scared?” Kara asked, surprised. “But Harreld would never harm you. He might be hurt but – ”

“No!” Ginna cried. “That’s not what I mean at all! It’s just, when you hurt someone and you know that it’s your fault you feel afraid to be near them because, well, because you’re scared that by being near them you’ll just hurt them again. Or because if you try to talk to them that might be the wrong thing for them. It’s, oh it’s impossibly to try and explain Kara, I’m sorry.”

“Oh no it’s alright, I think I understand.” Kara said, shushing Ginna gently for she had become quite agitated as she failed to find the words to explain what she meant. “Though I’m not sure I can help at all. It’s a very sticky situation, but maybe just leaving it isn’t the best idea? I know that you’re worried about how he’ll react but perhaps explaining or even just apologising to Harreld might make things easier? You’re carrying around so much guilt and he so much hurt. A conversation would be very difficult on both of you but it might help afterwards.”

“I don’t know.” Ginna replied, sounding lost. “I just don’t know how to deal with this at all, and that makes me not want to deal with it all the more. Can we just, please let’s just leave it for now? Maybe when everything is more settled here we’ll talk about it again. Until then I think I’d rather we didn’t talk about Harreld anymore.”

Kara was about to agree to that when the conversation was interrupted by a clear little voice piping up from behind them.

“Why wouldn’t you want to talk about Harreld? I think he’s lovely.”

The two girls turned to find Leodern, perched on Frodides’ hip, right behind them. Glancing around quickly Kara was relieved to find that no one else had heard the comment, indeed most people were now concentrated around Eodwine and Javan. She opened her mouth to try and distract the little girl from her line of questioning, but found herself interrupted again by Frodides who had scented gossip and was now determined to have some.

“Yes.” The older cook said, settling herself in next to Kara and Ginna. “Why ever not?”

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