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Old 11-06-2006, 12:56 PM   #18
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
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Anguirel's post - Gausen/Drenda

The quietness of the hovel was disturbed only by the recurring circles of Gausen’s distaff. She span the greyish flax, and watched it form, coagulate, like some eerie shadow of a marsh. Once brought out of this dim room, peered at by her narrowed, unadulterated glance, it would become a garment like any other. It would be given, along with the rest of the batch, to the horse-trader’s wife, and the horse-trader would in turn allow Gausen’s son to retain his steed for another month.

Any service that could be done for him was worth any length of gropings upon a darkened loom. She would have worked outside, for the day was bright – she could see that from where she sat – and it would have allowed her eyes more rest. But that would not, in this instance, do at all. Only lesser women worked outside, where the female art, the feminine struggle, for illusion failed them; where tears and stains and lines were mercilessly revealed. Better by far to shroud herself in propriety, Gausen knew.

She had not seen the subject of all her toils, the redoubt of all her hopes, for above a week. Gausen did not consider blaming her son for this; far from it. She had brought him up now; he was a man, in all, she wryly thought, but his extravagance. But that too was Drenda’s affair, not hers. He was by right, she thought in fury, a chieftain’s son; a right confirmed in oath by Ulfang himself! Why should he not live like one? It was reasonable, then, that he dwelt at Ulfang’s hall, burning with the splendour of his youth, and kept his horse, two hounds and a falcon. How her pride blazed for him then. For Drenda was beautiful, not merely to her, but to all others. He towered already among the tallest of the Ulfings. His features, which were her features, shone with grace and power. And if she had to labour in the dirt to maintain that power? Then by the gods, labour she would.

And then she heard the word, its unenthusiastic tone belying its enchanting significance, at the entrance to the hut.

The word was “Mother”.

Like a lapdog Gausen leapt from her seat, throwing back her veil, her eyes gleaming with anticipation. He had come. He never came here now, never usually. But he made an exception now. What filial piety... she ran to the threshold and embraced his tall, thin, figure, like a sapling still, she thought fondly, a handsome sapling, but no tree yet.

“Drenda...” she cried, but he endured her clutches with an ambivalent glance, and stepped uneasily out of them.

“Mother, we should talk.”

“Come in, then, come in!” But still Drenda hesitated upon the wooden doorstep. The look in his eyes moistened his mother’s. He is ashamed, now he is a great man, she thought, to enter the room where he lived as a boy.

“Drenda,” she said, summoning some of the sternness she reserved for all but her child into her voice, “it is not the feeling of a nobleman to quail at his mother’s house.”

Drenda bowed his head, surly but not wishing to argue, and stepped in. At once Gausen reproached herself. Had she been too sharp with him? Would he leave more quickly now? Had she squandered minutes with her son over a point of pride?

“Mother,” Drenda said, “have you got Father’s things? I need them.”

“Your father’s things?” Confusion mingled with relief in Gausen’s mind that Drenda had not taken offence. “The circlet of his lordship and the sword-belt of his authority? Are...are you certain you need them, my dear?”

“I’m not going to pawn or sell them, if that’s what you mean,” Drenda answered sullenly. “Yes, Mother, I need them. Things are happening fast outside your hut. There’s...there are going to be opportunities, Mother. I need all the dignity I can muster.”

But Gausen had shrunk back further into the darkness of her dwelling; partly to find the relics of her husband she had stored for fourteen years, but also to conceal the fear that spread across her face.

“Will there be war, then?” she asked quietly, her back to her son.

“I do not know for sure,” Drenda answered without emotion. “But an envoy has come from the Eldar. Whatever happens...”

“Oh, Drenda, Drenda, my boy, be careful with your life,” Gausen exclaimed, the sobs starting to conquer her soft voice, “which I have preserved with all that remained of mine.”

Drenda coughed, embarrassed. “Have you the circlet and the belt, mother? I should be present at the Hall to watch the Envoy’s reception.”

“Ay, my son, ay, my good lord,” Gausen whispered. “Take the emblems of your right, my boy, and stand tall in the hall. I know you will have no equals there.”

She passed over a bundle of black silk, laid her hand on her son’s shoulder, and stole a swift kiss from him before he left, laughing at the bristles of his fresh beard. He did not give her another look, but she listened, rapt, to the beating of his horse’s hooves as he made his way to the hall.

When they died away, she considered the news he had brought. If war was to come, she had but little time. She must see Uldor, must convince him to accept her, must solemnize their bond, before the men of the Ulfings left for the north. That way lay glory and preferment for her son.

Last edited by piosenniel; 11-11-2006 at 06:40 PM.
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