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Old 04-16-2004, 08:06 PM   #102
Vice of Twilight
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Shield ROHAN: Liornung at the close of Dec. 14

As evening came Ædegard and Amroth began murmuring to each other and had soon settled on where they would camp for the night. When Liornung undid the girth and slid the saddle of his steed's back a regretful frown came to his face. The bay was very exhausted, and as his eyes moved to the packhorse he realized that that horse was even worse off.

"Ædegard," he said, his voice strangely quiet and full of compassion, "I do not wish to exert authority where I have no right, but we have been riding hard these past few days and for the sake of our steeds I would suggest that tomorrow we ride but a few miles at a slower pace."

Ædegard hesitated and glanced at Amroth, but the latter had not been listening. "It highly depends on what Amroth says of it," Ædegard replied. "Looking at our mounts I see there is some sense in what you say, indeed very much sense, but we will discuss it further in the morning."

"We need not decide until then," Liornung assented with a nod. "That is when the problem will arise. For now we should give these horses good care." And so they did.

Liornung did not go to bed immediately when night came, nor did Bellyn. Both sat silently, gazing up at the stars, a look of puzzlement upon the girl's face, for the sound of music and singing was reaching her ears. "Liornung, do you hear those voices?" she questioned.

"Yes, I do indeed," he replied.

She hesitated. She had expected him to say more about it but he had said nothing. "Who is it that is singing?"

"Fellow travellers," he replied. "Those who wander along the hidden paths of Rohan, those who have no fixed home but go here and there, sometimes lingering for awhile and sometimes for only a night. They live a life much like myself, only they are not welcomed into homes as a fiddler is. Rather they are turned away, scorned, and I fear even hated." He paused a moment as if to dwell on this sorrowful thought, but soon continued. "They are called the travelling people.... often they are called wayfarers. No one will feed them, is it any wonder they steal to live? I have travelled with their kind often, at least before the War. Few of them are left now, and so I am enchanted to hear them sing once again."

"What are they like?"

Liornung laughed inwardly. Bellyn was such a curious little thing, but no wonder, as she had never seen or felt the good and bad of the road but only yearned for it. He enjoyed answering her questions. "They are like other people," he replied firmly. "Some of them are good, some of them are bad. They enjoy being together, they love song and dance, and the road delights them. That is why they chose the road. That is why I chose the road." The expression on his face changed to a dreamy look and Bellyn realized that he was no longer talking to her but himself. "I often regret I have chosen the road, especially when I am about my nieces and nephews. I would have liked to get married to some bonnie lass, and have children, and a home, and never travel the road. Alas then... no, but what am I saying? I am young yet! Can one who is not yet thirty years of age be called old? But then... I fancy I would do not to any lass I might marry but make her miserable. Such is my fate. I will be wed to the road." He gave a short laugh, but it was lacking in humor and was tinged with bitterness. "I can do nothing but bring lads and lassies who love each other and don't realize it to realize, and help good Amroth find his lost love. She must be fair indeed....."

He began speaking to Bellyn again. "Now, Miss Bellyn, I would advise both of us to seek some sleep. It may happen that we will ride as hard tomorrow as we have the past few days. I have no doubt that Amroth cares much for the welfare of our horses but I do believe that sometimes he forgets.... At least Ædegard has been in a good mood these past few days. I wonder what has caused it?"

Bellyn's voice was quiet as she replied. "It has struck me more than once these past few days that perhaps Ædegard was only in a bad mood when we first encountered him."

Only in a bad mood when they first encountered him... A look of awe came to Liornung's face and he took Bellyn's hand, placing his lips softly on her fingertips. She blushed in confusion and he laughed. "Miss Bellyn, you cannot expect me to let such good as you have done me to pass by without showing you my gratitude somehow? I have been thinking ill of another and you have very gently and truly led me back to thoughts of kindness. I thank you for it. Now if those gypsies are still about tomorrow we'll seek them out and you can see what they're like for yourself." He released her hand with a gentle squeeze, saying, "Good night, Miss Bellyn," and then he stood and tripped lightly over the ground to where Ædegard was. Bending down he sang a few lines in the young man's ear until he growled and tried to wave the fiddler away. Laughing softly, Liornung lay himself on the ground and stared wistfully in the direction of the wayfarers until sleep closed his eyes.

Last edited by Nurumaiel; 04-19-2004 at 10:26 PM.
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