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Old 06-29-2006, 05:17 PM   #385
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
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After all the worrying and tension before the audience with Lord Eodwine, everything seemed to happen in a blink of an eye. Stigend was both relieved and astonished by the quick outcome of things as he followed the Lord and the Lady towards the kitchen. For a moment he felt like he was out of the time and place, just not believing what had happened, but then Modtryth’s fingers that pushed him gently but sharply to his side awakened him to reality. “I told you so!” she whispered between her teeth, throwing a wide smile to him after it. Her smile and her gaze were at the same time warm and triumphant. Stigend managed to smile back as he was recovering to the here and now. Quickly he focused on Eodwine and Saeryn who were already taking their seats on a big table and nodding them to take seats opposite of them.

The table was quickly laid with bread, a couple of cheeses and sausages and different sorts of fresh vegetables. There were even some fruits available. As a crown to this “light” evening meal, Kara served them all full pints of cider. Stigend and Modtryth were used to second quality food and cheap ales. So even if this was no feast by any normal standards, but just a plain simple and good food to bite in hunger, to both of them it was a special treat they had afforded themselves seldomly during their wandering years. Fresh and good quality food with excellent cider, not the all too familiar watery porridge, or those last year’s taters served with cabbage and the shabby yeast-tasting ale. Well, the occasion seemed special to them in other ways too. Added to this, they had only enjoyed some light provisions on that day, of which most had been offered to Cnebba. So understandably, it was hard for them both not to attack on all the things laid before them immediately and to try to behave decently, waiting for the Lord and the Lady to start.

Lord Eodwine opened the discussion. "Court is over and I need a carpenter who can work with my stoneshaper and the others of my Hall. And I welcome families. The girl and boy playing with your son are the stoneshaper's children. A seemly omen, if you heed such things. I will take you on for one month to see how you fare with those who are the folk of my Hall, and then we shall see about longer. But tell the Lady and me about yourselves."

After that they toasted with the cider and Stigend thanked both the Lord and the Lady for the generous offer, setting the pint carefully back at the table. He glanced quickly to Modtryth who smiled to him heartily, seemingly happy. Stigend then turned his face towards their new masters and addressed them.

“Thank you again your Lordship, ... Lady”, he nodded also to Saeryn. “Thank you for your kindness and for your confidence. I do see the omen as a promising one. It’s a rare thing Cnebba is taken to play with others without a fight or other show of force”, he said and again found himself at loss with words. He felt he was bent on totally wrong way of putting things in words. Just too rash and blunt. He wasn’t used to discuss with people of high rank and the beautiful sentences they talked with. He wavered for a while about how to continue when Modtryth broke in.

“We believe we can prove ourselves worthy of your confidence, my Lord, ... my Lady”, she said with perfect North-Rohanian accent, looking both of them to the eyes and nodding to them with respect, but also with confidence.

Eodwine and Saeryn seemed somewhat astonished by her fluent speech. Stigend nevertheless was quite accustomed to this kind of reactions and hurried to explain, being more confident now as he faced a situation he had faced so many times before. “You asked us to tell of ourselves. I think we should begin with her. My wife Modtryth, she is a Rohanian.”

Both Eodwine and Saeryn glanced at each other questioningly and then turned their faces towards the newcomers again. “She was born in Rohan and has grown and lived in Rohan all her life. Her father was a Rohanian freeman, just a boy though, at the time.” Stigend sipped some cider to let his words sink in. He had done this so many times in so many different circumstances that he knew when to pause and what to say.

“Her mother was a Dunleding. A maid in a rich household, or a slave to say the truth of it. I think you know the end of the story, ... of every story like that”. He continued. The poignancy of his tone was getting too easy to hear.

Stigend wasn’t particularly a man who wanted to make his points heard everywhere or to aggressively argue his views. Just on the contrary. But of this matter he felt really deeply about and had been drawn into actual fights over it many times. Oh no, calm yourself now! We have been treated well by these people and Modtryth seems to be right, these people really feel open-minded and good-hearted. Just don’t follow that track now, you have no reason for it! He thought to himself while sipping some cider to get an idea how to make good the situation.

Once again it was Modtryth who actually managed to made a try to save the day: “I’m sorry about my husband’s language. He feels too deeply about these things, especially when it comes to his son. But I hope you to understand the pressures and the disdain we have to face on daily basis. It has made us both quite defensive.”

“Yes, my wife speaks the words of wisdom. I apologize the tone of my voice. I promise it won’t happen again”, Stigend put in, looking both Eodwine and Saeryn to the eye as he spoke. “I’ve just have had to defend my wife and child so many times against people of my own kin that it has somehow become my second nature to be suspicious of every kinsman as they seem all to be malicious towards me and my family. I’m deeply taken by the way you have treated us and in no way intended to implicate anything on your Lordship or the Lady.” He bowed to both of them in open shame of himself. He had been brought up well. He knew exactly well, that the ways in which he argued with other commoners were not suitable in this kind of company. He knew it just too well himself.

Before Eodwine or Saeryn had time to answer the many questions that were in the air, Modtryth continued, just to get over with the issue. “My husband has told you about me. I can tell you about him. He is a hardworking and honest man, a man true to Rohanian spirit. And he’s a brave man too. He has courage to ignore the scorn and ill-will of others to stand for things that are right as he doesn’t make judgements over looks but on deeds.”

If Stigend was used to defend his wife and child against certain kind of scorns, then Modtryth was also pretty professional with her defense of her husband. They both knew just too well of what things the other was looked down upon and how to defend the other.

Stigend welt his cheeks starting to redden. He always felt uneasy when her wife defended him. But especially now he was more than ashamed: in front of their new Lord and Lady he was being defended vehemently by his wife. Forgetting the keen eyes and ears of Eodwine and Saeryn, he suddenly took Modtryth’s shoulder by his right hand and hissed to her: “Now stop it! Who’s getting a bit carried away here?” Immediately he realised that they had been both heard and seen by their new masters.

More than a bit embarrassed he took one more piece of bread and rolled it in his fingers, looking genuinely apologetical, but he was not brave enough to open his mouth at the moment. Modtryth took a sip of the cider to veil her face.
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