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Old 05-21-2006, 06:46 PM   #23
Riveting Ribbiter
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Assigned to Mordor
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Celuien has just left Hobbiton.
Garstan was left alone in the courtyard, half bowing, his face flushed.

If only one of us must return to the mead hall, that one shall be you and not me. I will keep you safe with my life. So had spoken Lord Eodwine. The words echoed through his head, an incessant rattle to trouble his thoughts. He wandered into the Mead Hall, only half aware of what he was doing, and shut the door of his room behind him.

So I have spoken. Do not say me nay. He could not refuse the oath. Though in a way, it seemed too much to ask. For was Garstan not the servant, Eodwine the lord of the Mead Hall? It should be the place of the servant to defend his lord. Or so thought Garstan. Yet, how could he have refused, even had Eodwine not commanded it? It was a generous deed, and to check the kindness so freely offered to him would have been a grave affront. Garstan bent his head downward, deep in thought.

Then he looked up. There was only one way to repay Eodwine's kindness, though he knew he could not speak of it to the Eorl. Secretly, he vowed to see to Eodwine's safety. If the Eorl could vow to protect Garstan, so Garstan could vow to protect his Eorl. With the resolution made, his mind could rest at ease. Eodwine need not know. He smiled. Surely if they watched for each other's welfare, no harm would come to either of them. There was no need for either to fall in this task.

A battered canvas bag came out from a corner of the room, and Garstan busied himself with packing it with clothing and provisions for the journey. His eye fell on a small kit of tools. He thought for a moment. They wouldn't add much weight to his pack and might be useful. He added them to the bag's contents. Then Garstan opened a small wooden chest. From inside, he withdrew a long dagger, sheathed in a plain leather scabbard. Removed from the scabbard, the blade shone brightly in the room. His eyes glinted as he resheathed the dagger and slipped it into his bag. Let the kidnappers try what they wished, but no harm would come to Linduial, Eodwine, or himself. Not while his arm had strength left to strike a blow.

The door opened behind him. "Father? What are you doing? Are we leaving?" The voice was his son's.

"No. We aren't leaving. I am."


Garstan hesitated. How much should he reveal to the child? He decided to tell Garmund everything. He would, after all, have to take a father's place to his sister while the mission lasted. It was only fair that he understood why.

"The Lady Linduial is held for ransom by traitors. I go with Lord Eodwine and the company from Meduseld to recover her."

The boy's eyes grew wide.

"Do not fear! I will return. We all shall return. Justice shall be done. But say nothing to your sister. That burden should fall to me. Now I charge you, Garmund - take care of her! For you must play the part of father to her while I am away. Saeryn remains to look to the folk of the Hall. You must aid her too, for she will be guardian to the both of you until my return."

Garmund nodded solemnly. "I will do as you say." Then, with a sudden swelling of emotion, he cried out, "But hurry back! We will miss you while you are gone."

Garstan's hands rested on his son's shoulders. "It won't be long. I promise. Now, where is your sister?"

"Away with Kara."

"Then let us go to them."

Garstan allowed his son to lead him to Lčođern. He dreaded to tell her the news, first of Linduial's disappearance, then of his imminent departure. But the task could not be avoided, and he thought of what to say, his heart sinking within him.

He told her, fumbling for words, struggling to speak past the little girl's tears and puzzled stare. With a final assurance to her - to both of the children - that everything would be solved, that everyone would come home safely, he took Lčođern on his hip with one hand and held Garmund's hand in his other, and brought them back to their room for their last night together before the journey.
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