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Old 11-22-2006, 09:57 AM   #31
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Location: The 1590s
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Though the discourse between the Elvish delegation and Ulfang was one thwart with awkward silences, the restive Ulfing court was not over concerned with precedence, and a gradual hum of talking, drinking, and quarrelling reasserted itself throughout the hall. Guards and petty nobles alike came and went, both through the main gates and through entries at the side, without any fuss. None of the lordlings bothered bringing weapons, and by the same token none of the guards bothered searching them, though occasionally one of the hopeful circleted incomers, out of favour, would be roughly turned away without an explanation.

Among the new arrivals was a group of young bloods, seventeen years old at most. Their regalia was bright with polish, their voices were loud, brash, and confident, and their developing beards waxed into as coherent a form as possible. The young men were the very acme and exaggeration of the insecurity that characterised the cowed nobility as a whole.

Among this band was Drenda, son of Drenduld, and last hope, all-absorbing love, of his mother Gausen. Of the gang he stood tallest - indeed he was among the tallest men in the hall - but his features betrayed definite unease, and he seemed made self-conscious by his height. He spoke but rarely, leaving it to more comfortable, more powerful, companions to prattle and waste words.

The truth was, Drenda was a nobody, and standing in this assembly of ragged chiefs was a potentially vast risk. He possessed no land. He ruled no tribe. He was a chieftain's son, but not a full chieftain, by order of Ulfang's decree; but so were all manner of base-born men, if they could buy the title.

Yet he was his father's heir by right! A right robbed, he thought with hatred, by Ulfast, son of Ulfang, who sat yonder; the slayer of his father...

That was why he was here. That was why he paid not a whit of attention to his companions, and kept his gaze fixed on the lofty Elves, the scowling Chieftain, the tentative politics. Drenda was mortal, he well knew; but he meant to build his fortunes if war came; to win distinction, reclaim his lands and settle a long over-due score, on behalf of a father he had never known.

Ulfang was a dotard, Ulwarth a frowning fool. Ulfast was his foe. That left Uldor only, even if Drenda distrusted him, and disapproved of the attentions Ulfang's heir occasionally paid to his mother. He would enter Uldor's service, and set himself upon a path that would make the name of Drenda great.

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