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Old 06-24-2006, 12:23 PM   #57
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littlemanpoet's post

Eodwine stared at the fire. It had been a pointless day. He knew that they wouldn't find anything out in Edoras. The kidnapper would not be so careless. Not as if he had put his whole heart into it, he confessed to himself. His wife was alive! She was a captive of Dunlendings, probably forced to wife to some ill-begotten rat-herder, no less. No. She had only come in dreams, but so vivid! Her sweet and beautiful face, her expressive eyes, even her slight overbite lent to her winsomeness, and it had all been there in his dream. But she had not appeared to him as the winsome young wife of fifteen years ago, but as a woman of forty years, gray in her blonde tresses, lines of sorrow outlining her face, crows' feet at her eyes, and other signs of the passage of time. Surely his dreaming mind was not that creative! She must be real, and alive!

Eodwine looked up. Visitors. Asking for the Eorl.

He let out a breath of resignation and stood up. "I am the Eorl. How may I and my Hall host you?"


Alcarillo's post

Osfrid bowed to the Eorl. "Thank you, lord, for your kind hospitality. My name is Bertwald, and this is my wife Hilda-" here Muriel curtsied, "-and we seek a good meal and lodgings for the night. We've traveled a long way, you see, we're on our way to visit my dying mother-in-law, and we would appreciate it if you could spare us travelers a room here…"

"That I can," the Eorl told them. "I will see that Kara brings two meals to you." Osfrid and Muriel sat down at his table, and the Eorl walked to the kitchens. Osfrid smiled encouragingly at Muriel. She sat uncomfortably in her chair, casting glances all around at everybody, acting nervous. "Don't worry," he whispered to her, "Just let me do the talking and nobody will suspect us of being anything more than a farmer and his wife on their way to a dying relative."

The Eorl returned, and soon after came plates of breads and cheeses and meats, and mugs of frothy ale. Osfrid dug in immediately. The picnic lunch by the roadside had hardly been enough to tide him over till dinner. He made conversation with the Eorl as they dined, hoping to probe his mind about the kidnapping.

"Lord, something has been troubling my mind ever since I entered the city. Now, I pass through this town often, always on my way to sell my goods at faraway markets, but today was different. There were guards at the gate this time. They stopped my cart, had to ask numerous questions and whatnot, gave my wife quite a scare, you see, and I've never had to be troubled like that before. Has something happened lately?… I've heard rumors something's happened."

"I would that you not worry overmuch. The guard on the gates is tripled at the order of the queen. I am sorry that your wife has been frightened, but it would be worse that she came to harm at the hands of those we would find...."

"Yes, my wife thought they were robbers at first… These guards don't have to do with the abduction of that princess, does it?" Osfrid said, hoping the change in subject would help him learn more. "I've heard rumors that she was kidnapped at the fair, but I was skeptical. Could've been false. I live far from Edoras, you see, and most of the news we get is mostly hearsay, usually twisted in some way or another. But when I saw the soldiers at the gate, I knew it must've been true! Isn't it true, lord?"

The Eorl seemed unsure what to say. "You have guessed right, though I wonder that your wife thought the guards were robbers, wearing Eorling markings at the gates of Edoras! Be sure that we are doing all we can to see to the matter. Excsue me, please, and I'll have a word with the guards; we do not want them to be overzealous in their duty..." He stood and bowed to his guests and left the table.

"What's he telling the guards?" Muriel asked when the Eorl was gone. "What if he knows we're spying? What if the guards will kill us in the middle of the night?"

"They're not going to kill us!" Osfrid told her. "That'd be ridiculous…" He reached a hand out to squeeze her shoulder comfortingly. "He doesn't know…at the worst he'll tell a guard to keep an eye on us. And I wouldn't blame him after his most important guest was kidnapped." Muriel nodded, and resumed dining, feeling a little better.

A little blonde girl came running around the table, giggling madly. A boy a few years older chased her around and around the tables. Osfrid watched the race, and couldn't help but smile at how adorable the little blonde girl was. As the little girl ran near, Osfrid reached out and caught her in his arms. "Gotcha!" he said, and she shrieked gleefully as Osfrid swung her into the chair next to him. She giggled again and squirmed in her seat. "Well, well," said Osfrid, "Who do we have here? What's your name, little girl?"

"Lčođern," she told him, "And that's my brother Garmund."

Her brother came and tried to share the chair with his sister, causing more giggles and mirth. Osfrid sent him away with a special task. "Here, Garmund, I must send you on a special quest." The boy's eyes grew wide. "You must venture deep into the blazing hot kitchen and fill my ale mug with the cook's secret elixir! Go, be swift!" He gave the empty mug to the boy and pointed him in the direction of the kitchens. Garmund saluted like a soldier and bravely marched off to achieve his quest.

Alone with Lčođern, Osfrid could begin questioning. "Well, Lčođern, my name is Bertwald, and this is my wife Hilda." Muriel waved and Lčođern waved back.

"Have you been to the horse fair yet? That's why my wife and I are here: to see all the horsies and buy things from the vendors." Osfrid told her.

"Yes! I went there. The fair was fun."

"Really? I think it will be fun when I go there, too. Who'd you go with?" He thrust a hand into a pocket to see if he could find some candy to loosen the girl's lips.

"With 'Egas and Linduial," she said, carefully pronouncing Linduial's name.

Osfrid nudged Muriel. "You might want to hear this!" he whispered. "Now, Lčođern, you went with Linduial, eh? And who's Egas?"

"Degas!" she said, correcting him. "He's my friend. I rode on his shoulders."

"Rode on his shoulders, eh? Like on a horsie? He must be a lot bigger than you, then, to have carried you through the fair like that."

"Oh, yes. He's Linduial's size!"

Osfrid found some candies in a pocket. He had bought them for Muriel the last time he was at the fair, the same day they abducted Linduial. He passed one to Lčođern. She giggled and swung her short little legs joyfully through the air. "So, it was just you, Linduial, and Degas at the fair?"

Lčođern nodded, preoccupied with sucking on her candy. Her brother returned carrying a full mug of beer. "Kara didn't have what you told me to get, so I just got beer." Osfrid smiled and patted the boy on the head. He gave him a candy, too, and the boy took the seat next to his sister, eavesdropping casually on the conversation.

"Now, Lčođern, does Linduial have other friends?"

"Oh, lots. Like Saeryn and her grampa."

"What's Linduial's grandpa like?"

"He's old. He's sitting over there." She pointed to an old man sitting by the fire. Osfrid thanked Lčođern for her delightful conversation and told her and her brother to run along. They did, probably to tell everybody about the nice man with the candy, Osfrid realized with chagrin.

"Come, Muriel, let's go pick out a room for the night." She was unhappy to stand, being more comfortable sitting. To pass by all those guards and friends of the Eorl made her nervous. Osfrid smiled at her and wrapped an arm around her waist, and she forced a smile back. Osfrid would keep her safe. They walked together toward the hallway at the end of the hall, but Osfrid paused a moment beside a guard, and asked him quietly, "Who is that man by the fire? Isn't he Lady Linduial's grandfather?"

"No, sir, that's Marenil. He's a guardian of some sort. He came with her when she traveled from Dol Amroth."

"Thank you, lad," Osfrid said, and he and Muriel disappeared into the dark hallway beyond.


littlemanpoet's post

Eodwine reached the gate of Edoras and found Deren with the other guards.

"Greetings, Deren! I hope your thankless chore at the gate has paid you in some bit of news. What know you of this Bertwald and Hilda?" Eodwine smirked. "The wife seems to have mistaken your King's Markings for robbers' crests, if you can believe it! Do you remember the pair?"

"I remember the pair," Deren replied, walking forward. He placed his hand on the horse's shoulder and looked up at Eodwine. "They came through not long ago, just after dark. Said they were on their way to see the woman's dying mother and had to stop here on their way. Why do you ask? Has something come up?"

Eodwine wondered at that: the woman had spoken nothing of a dying mother. Had the man? Eodwien could not remember that he had. It was suspicious. Then again, anything and everything seemed suspicious these days. Eodwine scowled, not liking that he was suspicious first.

"They have come to the Mead Hall seeking shelter for the night. What think you of the pair? Tell me all your mind about them."

“Well, I do not rightly know, sir,” Deren replied. He knit his eyebrows together, wondering if something had happened and asking himself all the while why the Eorl had come all this way to question him on the matter. “This job has made me question everybody, for real and in my mind. I did wonder that they came so late, but I do not suppose we can really hold that against them too much. He spoke strangely, sir, to tell you the truth. All day we had people coming through here and they did not know why they were stopped by guards and most of them didn’t say much. They just answered the questions straight and went on. He. . .well, he talked, but without making his point quite clear. But maybe it was only my imagination.”

Deren scratched his head. He was talking in circles and that certainly would not help in the matter. “I would just keep an eye on him, my lord,” he finished. “If he fails to leave tomorrow morning early, then there would be real cause to worry. He told me that they were only stopping for the night, and when I asked him if he’d be leaving tomorrow morning, he said ‘I imagine so!’ and I let him pass."

"My thanks, Deren. I will watch these two and see if they leave early tomorrow. If we could spare men, maybe we should have them followed. I will give the matter thought. Good night to you!"


Firefoot's post

Upon his return to the Mead Hall, Eodwine went directly to Haleth and asked him to his own rooms for a talk in private. Once there, Eodwine went straight to the point.

"I know not if you heard Bertwald's own words as to the greeting he and his wife were given at the Gate. I spoke to Deren who was the very guard this Hilda claims to have mistreated her; or I should say, this Bertwald claims that Deren was, shall we say, overzealous. Deren told me that it seemed this Bertwald talked more than need be. That suggests to me that he may be crafting a bed of lies, as they say. I admit that I have no other call to think ill of the man, but these are bad times. So I would ask of you that the couple be watched. Maybe they will lead us to the fiend who has taken Linduial."

Haleth hesitated. Where did one draw the moral line? "In normal times, such would not even be thought on," he answered slowly. "As like as not it is simply an innocent couple staying here the night. Would not watching them be near the same as questioning those nobles on our list simply because they meet our guidelines?" But then what had been the point of guards at the gates of Edoras if Haleth was not going to take their word when someone seemed suspicious? "I would be loath to have them followed in the case that they are innocent people. But if they do not leave the Mead Hall in the morning, then yes, have them watched. If they leave, let them go."

Eodwine was unsure of Haleth's thought, but Haleth was the ruler in this matter. He nodded, "Aye, that is well."

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 07-10-2006 at 03:29 AM.
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