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Old 05-23-2010, 09:36 AM   #9
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
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Artamir Wainrider

Mir’s house was situated in the quiet suburbs which bled affluence and tranquility like a gutted pig, a place where the cream of the crop of the elite citizens of Rhun resided. This house bespoke of modest ease-of-livelihood, even if it was dwarfed by the sprawling and luxurious mansions that surrounded it. It was characterized by clean whitewashed walls and a leaf-green roof that sloped in an easy incline; it was also complete with an enclosed yard where shy marigolds peeked through the gaps between low-slung garden fences, as well as a sinuous earthen path that led to the lantern-lit front porch. A couple of straw armchairs and a lean-to sunshade lazed in the afternoon sun.

As they trooped to the porch, a middle-aged man waved cheerily from the courtyard of the house next door to Mir’s. He was a plump red-faced man who sweated prodigiously and beamed a jolly smile. He brandished his garden shears with all the passion and might of an overweight tame rabbit, somehow managed to clip the edges of his hibiscus bush without accidentally cutting his sausage-like fingers in the process, and waddled over to Artamir.

“‘Tis nice weather, cap’n Mir, isn’t it? ‘Tis rare to see you bringing around your guard chums for dinner, or having ANY other friends than myself for that matter, heh. I almost writ you off as a loner. My kid says you are a fair superior, but that’s where it stops - thanks for keeping an eye on that troublemaker, by the way - fair, and cold. ‘Cap’n plods on and on like an oxen yoked to a plow’, says my son, ‘no sense of mischief at all!’ He’s right, too. You SHOULD enjoy life more, Mir. I mean, you wouldn’t even consider buying a good buxom Gondorian wench – I saw one the other day on the slave market, gosh, what shapely legs, too bad I’m happily married – why, I sometimes wonder whether you’re not made half out of ice and half out of stone!”

The plump man took a ragged gasp, having spilled out too many words at a gallop, then plunged on, dabbing his sweating forehead with a dainty lace-lined handkerchief. “So, dear chap, how about it? Me and me wife’s holding a harvest ball tomorrow at sundown in my manor, see, lots of pretty gals from the neighborhood will attend to sip wine and dance. The handsome cap’n of the guards, with an illustrious career that spans half his life and supplied us stay-at-home folks with more slaves than we know how to deal with, well, not many suitors can beat that, you know? Even with that sour look of yours, gods, would it kill you to smile more often? Anyway, if you’d just come out into the social life once in a while, mingle with folks, then I can fix you up in no time.”

He beamed and clapped Mir on the back. “I can help you, old chap. Just say the word.”

Artamir disengaged himself with difficulty from the grip of this plump man, whose name was Kiln Blackwater, his longtime neighbor and friend. He was an amiable man who sometimes intruded himself into the affairs of his friends when he was not wanted; loyal and genial, but wearying at times. Mir usually did not mind when Kiln shouldered himself into his life. Kiln was no fool, but a shrewd observer and a good judge of both men and circumstances; he usually had a good reason for anything that he did. But this… No. This mess was his to deal with, not Kiln’s.

“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” Mir said dryly.

“A pity, there might not be a next time.” Kiln looked disappointed as he waddled off to his house.

Mir watched his neighbor’s retreating back for a moment, and then opened the front door for the Gondorians, giving a half-mocking bow of a gracious host. “Welcome to my humble abode.” He said wryly, as he heard the door creak shut after their entrance as well as the dull sound of the door being barred and chained from the inside. For better or for worse, there was no going back.
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