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Old 11-20-2006, 04:02 PM   #29
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Caranthir's ambassador watched the Easterling leader with an impassive face, but in his mind he could not help feeling contemptuous towards the human ruler. Perhaps, as he had suspected moments before, the old Adan was in his dotage; but even so, it did not do to reveal such an indignified rage with a subordinate to an envoy of one's overlord. Lachrandir kept his features immobile as Ulfang raved at the hapless guard, the Elf's eyes fixed, staring without deviation at the empty stone chair. He saw, with a hint of amusement, that young Tathren had adopted the same tactic.

When the choleric old barbarian appeared to have settled down, muttering his apologies, Lachrandir inclined his head slightly.

"Very well, friend. May we proceed to business? You were right to remember the accord you signed as a vassal of the Lord Caranthir. The time has come to fulfil your vows."

Ulfang's greying brows brindled slightly. It was unlikely, perhaps, Lachrandir reflected, that he enjoyed being referred to as a vassal in front of his nobles. He decided to make a more deliberate effort towards courtesy.

"You must be aware that our armies have been strained for some time by the onslaught of the Enemy," he continued. "My master has determined that the security of all our lands, the lands of Men and Elves, must be defended, likewise, by Men and Elves. I come with a summons, my lord Ulfang, a summons to muster your forces directly you can prepare suitable numbers."

Lachrandir produced Caranthir's missive, a roll of silvery vellum bound with a loop of grey Elven-twine; he had previously transferred it from his other possessions and slipped it inside his cloak. The eyes of Ulfang as he saw the letter seemed to encapsulate contradictory emotions; a little excitement, even lust in its sharpest form; but weariness also, the Elf thought. If mortals curdle in age, then this one is surely nigh on rotten and beyond use.

A pause hung for half a minute or so, before Lachrandir pressed a little further. "Shall I read it to your lordship?"

"I can read it for myself," the old man answered, half muttering, half growling.

"Of course," Lachrandir said carefully, "but it is the custom for the herald of a lord to read it to the lord's vassal first." Vassal. Again he had dropped a dangerous word, but in his irritation he had felt the Man could profit from such a reminder.

"I know the custom," Ulfang said quietly, "but in any case, we ought to wait."

Lachrandir was puzzled now, and nigh on exasperation. Was this some absurd superstition among the Easterlings, that a letter could not be read before twilight, or something similar? Tathren glanced at him, and to his annoyance it seemed to him that the younger Elf was attempting to calm him.

"You see, this empty chair," Ulfang explained, faltering somewhat, "and these two full ones. You can see that my third son, that my son, my third son, is not yet here."

Silence settled again, before the chieftain continued to elucidate.

"Uldor. My son Uldor. I will not have Lord Caranthir's letter read until he is here,"

"I see," Lachrandir replied. "Well, could it not be arranged that..."

But the chieftain was unexpectedly rearing himself up off his leaden throne. His head was still scarcely on a level with Lachrandir's, but in his moment of uncharacteristic decision he seemed altogether taller and firmer.

"Ulwarth!" he barked, and the corpulent occupant of the left-hand throne got up. Ulfang nodded with a grim smile.

"That's more like it. Go and find Uldor, lad. We can't keep Master...Lachrandir here waiting, can we?"

"Ay," Ulwarth muttered, and retired, his mail clanging, from the hall, swiftly loping out with bitterness on his unsightly face. The Elves refrained from watching him go.

"You have been standing for too long," the chieftain remarked, his tone now measured, even merry. "Guards! Stop idling and bring Caranthir's messengers some seats, now!"

Last edited by Anguirel; 11-22-2006 at 09:56 AM.
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