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Old 06-01-2015, 11:56 AM   #1380
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
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Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Four years from now, at the coming of winter

“Hello, Theolain!”

Fiddlesticks! Caught.

“Good morning, Mother,” Theolain nodded politely.

“Why out of bed so early?” Ledwyn asked cheerily. He did not know what to say that would not be a lie, and he would not ever lie, especially to his mother. He shrugged.

“Well, off you go, then,” Ledwyn said with a smile as she ruffled Theolain’s hair. I will need to cut it again soon, she thought. Theolain pulled away gently. “Good morning, Mother,” he added again with a brief smile, and walked away.

He was going to sneak a small loaf of bread from the kitchen, but now he dared not risk meeting his mother again. And if she was awake, so was Frodides, and he did not want to face her either. He could wait an hour and break his fast with everyone else. But that was precisely why he woke up early – he did not want to break his fast with everyone else. Or with anyone else, for the matter. He preferred rocks to most people. And to his rocks he went.

Looking around to make sure no one was watching him closely, he strode out of the Hall. He walked straight through the fields, the grass long dead and lying flat. There was a trace of frost on the stems. The cold was coming in early, bringing with it a rough wind.

Then the rocks began. First small rocks on smooth hills. Then larger rocks and sharper crevices. Many of the rocks are too big for him, but he finds ways to go around them. These rocks, that are closest to the Hall, he knows well. One day, he might climb the rocks until the end of the world. But not for a long time. He will return today, before lunch. No one would know where he was.

Twenty minutes down the Scar, Theolain climbed on top of a large slab of rock and walked to the edge. He turned around and lay flat on his stomach. This was the tricky part. He slid down slowly, until he was hanging by his hands. With his foot, he felt for the hidden step in the steep stone. Finally finding it, he lowered himself down to the next handhold. Repeating this operation twice, he jumped the rest of the way. Jumping was quicker, but falling was not. He knew that better than anyone.

He stood on a ledge in the side of the stone wall. On one side, the rock dropped off steeply again. On the other, there was nook in the surface with an overhanging roof – a hole, Theolain decided once, that was carved out by a giant spoon. It was not big enough for a grown man to sit in, but for him it was a cave. A cave full of treasure.

Out of its hiding place, he brought out a small bundle – a collection of gems tightly wrapped in cloth. Theolain untied the knot holding it together, and out rolled the gems: a wooden knife, several sticks and tree knots of unlikely shapes, a blue feather, a few special stones, and a toy bird.





“Theolain!”

Fiddlesticks! Twice in one day! Now there are definitely going to be questions.

“Theolain, you get back here right now!” Ledwyn shouted from the doorstep. Theolain obliged dutifully.

“The wind has gotten colder, and you are traipsing about without a care about falling ill. Now go inside and get dressed properly. Where have you been wandering in this state?”

And here come the questions.

“Mother, I won’t be ill. You shouldn’t worry about me so much. Why are you here? I thought you were making lunch still.”

Ledwyn came down the stairs towards Theolain. She was about to reply when a gust of wind, unfelt before in the shelter of the Hall, threw her off her balance. As she struck out her hands to regain her step, the wind whipped her shawl off her shoulders. Up and away it flew, until it caught on the thatch almost at the top of the roof. Theolain watched Ledwyn wring her hands. He knew what she was thinking – she did not want to lose the shawl, but she could not retrieve it and would not ask for help. That is how she was all the time, Thaolain thought; she would always be silently upset and do nothing, not for herself and not for others. We can always manage, she always taught him. Well, so could he.

Ledwyn was surprised by the sudden wind. She shivered from the cold, without her woolen shawl. It was a good shawl, and she would be loathe to part with it. But there was no way to get it back: what has happened, has happened. What the wind carries off, only the wind can bring back. Even if she were to call a man from the Hall – and it would be extremely foolish to distract them from their duties for some shawl that she lost so embarrassingly – it would likely be gone by the time he arrived, with the wind tearing at it so. She resigned herself to making a new one and was about to reach for Theolain when she noticed he was not there. She looked around. He was pulling himself up atop the wood stack by the guardroom. Once there, he could reach the edge of the roof over the kitchen.

“Theolain, get down here now! You’re going to fall!” he heard Ledwyn cry as he pulled himself up over the edge of the roof. No, I won’t, he thought. He knew what it feels like to fear to fall. But he did not fear to fall this time. He was not going to fall.

He crawled carefully to the top on a wooden support beam, to avoid damaging the thatch. Reaching over, he grabbed his mother’s shawl and jerked it free. He struggled for a minute to tie it tightly around his waist as it flapped in the wind. Then he climbed down.

“Over here, lad! I’ll give you a hand!” a man’s voice called. Theolain turned to look. It was Baldwic. He caught Theolain as he swung down from the roof and placed him firmly on the ground. “You shouldn’t be doing that, you know,” he said, though not unkindly. Theolain knew it was well-meant, but he did not appreciate it. He did not respond.

Ledwyn ran over. She busied herself over Theolain’s clothing, brushing off the straw that stuck to his breeches. She took her shawl with words of both thanks and reproach. Then she turned away to thank Baldwic. When she turned back, Theolain was gone again.
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