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Old 03-07-2016, 10:41 PM   #297
Galadriel55
Blossom of Dwimordene
 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
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Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Balan

It was not courteous to order a guest to do housework. The people of Scarburg were too courteous for these rough times, Balan decided. And he was a guest who intended to earn his living with more than words, if need be.

Noticing some people leaving the Hall, Balan quietly went back to the room to get his canvas. He slept in the room with all the other men, and it took him a while to find his bed among all the mattresses. By the time he returned to the Hall, people who stayed inside swirled around the Hall like dust on a light wind, picking up here, landing there, clumping together and then falling apart again. He slipped around them, draped the canvas over himself - he usually used it as a tent, and it hung awkwardly on him, but it would keep off the worst of the water - and stepped outside the doors.

At first he could not see anything. There was a wall made of water and darkness in front of his eyes. For a moment, he was lost; he did not know where to head. Then he chuckled at himself. For someone who can invent such clever characters, you are a mighty fool, Balan. He cocked his ear this way and that, straining to hear voices. Almost nothing could be heard over the rain, but Balan thought he heard a snippet of conversation. He followed it, making sure that the water did not come up too high; he did not want to end up in the trench he helped dig just a few hours ago.

He knew he found the right place when he nearly collided with another man.

"Watch your way! Don't walk here like a wraith in the dark!"

"Wraiths in the dark we must be now if we are not to be wraiths in the light when morning comes," Balan retorted cheerily. He could not see the man's face to tell if he was angered or amused. "Tell me," he said, possibly interrupting the man's thoughts, "what task is to be done?"

"Nothing you and I can do until the horses come. The wagons are stuck too deep!" the man shouted back. Another man's voice sounded, asking what was happening. Balan carefully guided himself to a wagon, where a lantern sat shielded from the rain. Its flame barely lit the edges of the wagon, but it was clear that the wheels were buried deep.

"Do you have a strong, flat piece of wood?" he shouted to the man. He did not hear, so Balan repeated again.

"Unless you make a raft of it, how will wood help you drag the wagons out of the mud?" the man asked.

"As long as the wheels are on the ground, they will keep sinking, and the horses would be exhausted pulling them even a single arm length. But if we place the wood beneath the wheels, we will make a road for the wagons to drive on. Not a very good one, but better than this mud!"
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