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Old 01-06-2016, 12:23 PM   #246
Firefoot
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Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
Cerwyn and the Twins

The twins remained perfectly still and stared across the table at Cerwyn, their eyes baleful and their lips tightly pressed shut. They both knew their silence was disrespectful, and Eoghan felt a little guilty for it, though Ruari had no qualms about making Cerwyn feel uncomfortable. Cerwyn looked from one to the other, and Eoghan saw her confidence slipping. He felt even worse.

"Yes," he finally said. A pause, and then, "I wouldn't have fallen in if Ruari hadn't pushed me."

Ruari's eyes narrowed. She did not look towards her brother, but her head did tilt slightly in his direction. "I would not have pushed you if you had given me a turn," she reminded him.

"It's never alright to push someone," Cerwyn chided gently. "And just because your shovel broke, it doesn't mean Eoghan must share his with you. You should have gone and found one no one was using."

Ruari looked at her, trying to express with just her eyes how much she thought Cerwyn should not have put her opinion out. Eoghan smiled at her, liking very much that she took his side of the argument.

"Well," Ruari said, putting on as much haughtiness as she knew how, "you don't know. There aren't shovels for everybody. I couldn't find another one."

Cerwyn had not known till now that such a small child could produce such an evil look and did not know whether to recoil or laugh. "That still does not give you a right to your brother's," she said. "And if there aren't shovels for everyone, what are the others who have no shovels using to dig?"

Ruari huffed and looked away.

"Actually," Eoghan said, spreading his hands in a conversational manner, "there are not very many shovels at all. Many...no," looking serious and thoughtful, "I would say most of the people don't have any yet. But Papa has told the Smiths to make more. Ruari never had a shovel. It was really some bark from a log. I had a stick, so mine was stronger."

"Was not," Ruari muttered.

"Was so."

Cerwyn wondered if there was anything these two didn't squabble about - Ruari especially seemed to enjoy it. Had she and Leof ever quarreled so much? She did not think so. The Leof of her early memories was her leader and her protector, rather than antagonist - perhaps it was only natural for a younger sibling to feel so about an older. What fun they had once had. A memory long forgotten came then unbidden to her mind, of how they would make up and enact the most outrageous stories, and she grinned.

"Well, never mind the shovels now," she said. "Why don't we play a game, hmm? I'll tell you about one Leof and I used to play. You take turns making up parts to a story. Anything can happen that you want, but the only rule is that you can't disagree with anything someone else says. This story can be about... a pony, who lives in a land far away from here where the sun always shines. Now it's your turn, Eoghan; tell us something about the pony."

Eoghan paused a moment, looking at her as he considered this sudden turn in the conversation. After a pause he seemed to accept the idea as a good one, and at length, he began. "The pony...belonged to an eorlinga," he said. "And her had to go to war," he ended with a grin and turned to Ruari.

Ruari frowned thoughtfully. "They were going to fight in a place where the moon always shone," she said. Then her face lit up excitedly. "And the sun was the leader of the pony's army, and the moon was the leader of the enemy!" Eoghan looked as though he were about to object, probably to point out that neither the sun nor the moon could lead armies, but Cerwyn continued the tale.

She said, "Well, the pony was very scared of the fight, because he did not like the dark, and the moon was the ruler over all the dark places of the world. The moon's soldiers were creatures of the night, and their faces were black and terrible."

Eoghan's and Ruari's eyes grew large and they stared at her. The story had taken an unexpected and sinister turn. They paused, breathless, waiting for her to continue. She nodded and prodded Eoghan with a gentle, "Your turn."

Eoghan drew a breath, and an apprehensive smile slowly spread over his face. He shifted on the bench, lifting himself up to sit on his knees. "They had...long snouts that pointed, and long teeth like this!" He curved his fingers by his mouth and leaned towards Ruari. She screamed and skidded away to the edge of the bench. He imitated the moon army's snarl and bared his teeth as he continued, "And when they attacked the pony's army, they were going to eat the pony!"

"No!" Ruari cried. "They can't eat the pony!"

"Your turn!" Eoghan said, his face returning to its accustomed cheerfulness.

"The pony ate the moon's army!" Ruari shrieked with laughter.

"That doesn't make sense," Eoghan said. "The pony can't eat things like that."

"Alright," Ruari agreed. "The pony's eorlinga picked up his sword and started chopping off their heads." Ruari raised her hands in fists, imitating a knight with a double-handed sword, and made several wild swings over the kitchen table.

Cerwyn laughed. "And when the pony saw how brave his eorlinga was, the pony felt braver too. He kicked and bit his enemies, and the moon's army fell back in fear of the pony and his eorlinga."

At that moment, the door opened and Saeryn entered. She pulled the shawl from her head and wiped the rain from her face with it. She walked towards the fire and draped it on a chair nearby before turning and surveying her children. "Did they behave alright, Cerwyn?" she asked.

"They were just fine," Cerwyn said, smiling at the children.
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