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Old 09-18-2003, 09:01 AM   #161
Bęthberry
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Belin Ibaimendi's post

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Don't mind him," said Wingesith, with an attempt at a reassuring-but not too familiar- smile, curbing his alarm at the woman's upset face. He had to calm her down before she decided to make a fuss. He wasn't sure whether it was Fremman's zeal for cabbages, change, or women that had done it, but in any of these cases, they could hardly afford to get in trouble now. He shot him a single evil look before assuming his most pleasant face and voice to explain matters to the woman. "I apologize for my colleague," he said, "he has certain difficulties, you see. It makes the company of the unfamiliar difficult to him. I do not think it is his intention to be impolite."

The woman eyed him skeptically. "You mean he's drunk?"

Wingesith bowed, quickly and almost involuntarily. "Many have speculated along those lines," he murmured politely and vaguely, unwilling to speak of his colleague's faults to an outsider.

"They might by thinking of the smell," she suggested in a dry voice. Was that a shade of amusement in her voice? Wingesith grinned broadly. "Oh, no, you don't understand. We're performers, we do this for our show. Fremman here is the Drunken King himself. perhaps you've heard of us?" The woman shook her head. Fremman chose this moment to giggle loudly, ignoring his colleague's glare. "Sometimes, you see, people have don't look at me like that. Fremman, there's no reason they shouldn't have. We've been everywhere, somebody must have heard of us by now. Certainly their 'tokens of appreciation' suggest as much."

The woman's face had composed itself into unreadable politeness. Wingesith took this as an encouragement and continued. "Fortune and fame, you see, ma'am, fortune and fame. The life of a traveling actor is a not a dull one. Why, I've been places and seen things you wouldn't believe if I told you."

"Oh, I have no doubt of that." She was definitely smiling now, just a little, just a little, but she was smiling.

"You should hear them," he pressed on eagerly. "Why, in the town of Htirit, where they throw crockery out the windows to celebrate their weddings, the square was so full they had to close the shops. Not that anyone minded, you see, they were all pushing and shoving to see the show. Ah, the coin we gathered that day? I take no credit, of course," he added quickly, "but the worth of the show itself is indisputable, and they just had to see it. Fremman helped me design it, you see. You do not know him until you understand his genius."

Fremman nodded in agreement, blinking slowly at the woman and failing to brush off a large fly that had settled on his brow.

"You should come to our show next time. You would like it, I can tell. It's in your face."

"I'm sure it would be a delight," answered the woman, "but I'm afraid I'll be up in the inn for several days, longer than you'd care to stay in town, I'm sure."

"I like inns," put in Fremman.

"The inn?" said Wingesith, with a sudden eagerness. "There'd be no jugglers in the inn, and the audience wouldn't be so obssessed with vegetables and with keeping the ways clear. "That's an idea. I'm sure they could use a bit of entertainment up that way, couldn't they? We'll accompany you, you don't want to be out here with the cutpurses, you know."

"Oh, I don't think that will be?"

"For company then. Everyone can use some company, don't you agree? My name is Wingesith," he added, as he took a few steps to show that he was in earnest. "Er... and you do know which way it is, correct?"

[ September 27, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 09-18-2003, 10:14 AM   #162
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The inn was starting to fill up when Aldhelm entered. A quick glance showed him that the regulars were there as well as several new faces. He wondered how many would settle here and how many were passing through. Maybe there were some new friends in the crowd..and new customers as well.

Whatever the status of the newcomers, he had no time to meet them now. Aldhelm's scan of the crowd had not picked up on Bethberry, the object of his search. He would have to look further abroad than the front room to offer his invitation.

He found her coming down a hallway from what he remembered as a door to the garden. She had a small, strange-looking man with her who sniffed at Aldhelm and then said nothing, clearly unsure what to make of the miller.

"Good evening Miss Bethberry," he started. "I wonder if you would accept an invitation to the mill tomorrow. Maedlyn's not up to the drive into town, what with her condition and all, and I know she has missed having some female company. She asked for you, especially."

Bethberry smiled back. "I would love to come, but I do need to check with Alwyn before I say for sure. After all, the inn doesn't run itself. Have a seat in the main room, and I will be with you soon."

Aldhelm nodded and backtracked to a small table in the hall. He waved away the offer of dinner, but ordered an ale. It had just arrived when Bethberry reappeared at his side.

"It seems I have a day free for visiting. I would be happy to spend some time at the mill tomorrow," Bethberry smiled at him.

"Ah, I'm glad to hear it, and Maedlyn will be too! Lathyn will be thrilled to have someone to try her new honey cake on, as well. Shall I send Deol for you in the morning?"

"Spare him the trip," she laughed. "I can make my own way there."

"Splendid! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow then."

"And I you." And with that the innkeeper faded back into the crowd.

Aldhelm finished his ale and walked back out to his cart. Deol was waiting for him. The boy had declined to come into the inn, saying he had something to check in the kitchen. His face was a mask of confusion at the moment. Whatever was bothering him, though, he quickly hid it when he noticed Aldhelm looking at him. The miller knew that something had not gone as well as the boy had planned, but knew better than to ask his apprentice. He remembered being 16.

"Back to the mill, Deol. Market day is over, at least for us, and we have women waiting for us."

The comment earned a sharp look from the apprentice, but no comment in return. Aldhelm was too busy looking forward to getting home to notice.
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Old 09-19-2003, 01:50 AM   #163
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Sting

Lachlan watched with a great smile as Reen enjoyed playing with all the food set in front of him. His younger brothers and sisters all squealed and played around him, and his mother slowly herded them back to their food.

Leaning towards Lowfel he said 'They have found a new play thing! They will be entertained by his eating for a while!' Lowfel laughed and said 'It certainly seems so'

Lachlans mother served more food out to all with cheer 'Eat up! You all need your strength by the looks of things! Theres plenty to go around I assure you.'

Lachlan enjoyed the warm comfort of the large dining room, and laughed at the sight of Lowfel playing hide and seek with one of his sisters. Shrae also watched with much amusement.

'Your brothers always been this bad at this game?' he said with a laugh

'I remember so' Shrae chuckled.

'Ach! I canna' compete here!' he said falling into his chair and reaching for his mug of ale.

The night continued long and the three retreated outside as the children were being put to bed.

'I told ye Reen would be taken away by Mother' he smiled at Shrae. 'No doubt she'll be wanting to see more of him, if youre willing'

'That would be helpful' smiled Shrae

Lowfel turned to his sister and grinned 'Well, your welcome to Edoras seems complete sister'

'Ah yes! I hope this makes your stay all the warmer' said Lachlan with a great smile, lifting his mug.
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Old 09-20-2003, 05:15 AM   #164
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Lowfel eyed Lachlan playfully. "You make it sound as if she were only visiting. If that were the case I wouldn't be building so much," he finished with a chuckle.

Shrae felt a little blood rush to her cheeks and she urgently tried to supress the blush.

"Lowfel, if I am to start on engravings I need to get some sleep. I'm sure Reen is getting tired himself," she hated breaking up the wonderful night, but practicality had set in her mind.

"Engravings?" Lachlan's eyebrows rose.

"Ah," the carpenter lighted. "In addition to her wonderful company she is going to be providing her talents of engraving on my pieces. So, if you need anything marked with a pretty design or a practical one, like perhaps a family brand on your finest kegs or a new sign post for your ale shop, she's the girl. First thing I'm going to have her do is make me a new sign," Lowfel finished with a wink at his sister.

Shrae just stood up with her eyes pierced together at her brother in a jest he only knew too well. Just then Lachlan's mother came in carrying Reen who immediatly stretched out his arms for Shrae to grab. She obliged the little tot and promptly kissed his squirming head.

"You must bring him over to visit, young miss Shrae," the mother bubbled.

"I will," Shrae smiled in return and turned to her brother to see if he was leaving as well. He grunted as he stood.

"It was a lovely meal, thank you for having us," Shrae smiled again at her host, with her brother nodding at her side.

"It was wonderful to have you. Make sure you come back."

Lachlan and his mother walked them to the door and waved them off with more goodbyes.
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Old 09-22-2003, 02:43 PM   #165
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Idona lifted her skirt while climbing the few stairs before taking a firm grip of the doorhandle belonging to the heavy door. She dropped her pencil down on the ground in the attempt. The door slapped shut again, in her face. 'Typical,' she muttered picking the pencil up. She went for the door again, this time, succeeding.

The cosy atmosphere was impossible not to enjoy. The Inn was filled with people and Idona felt the different smells of food, the fire and people stream into her nostrils. She had entered a whole new world. Outside, the sun had been shining and it was way too warm for what Idona herself thought she could handle. In here, on the other hand, it was cooler than outside. However, there was this friendly warmth, which made Idona feel comfortable, even though she didn't know anyone . The Innkeeper, Bęthberry she had greeted a couple of times when she had spent her afternoons at The Horse drawing but Idona did not recognize anyone else.

Idona stepped forwards taking her brown hood off.

'A bowl of soup,' she said drawing the attention of the serving maid. 'And some bread to go with that, please,' she added before settling herself by the fire, her favorite place. Idona caught the eye of the cook Froma, who was very skilled in the kitchen the Rohan woman thought. Every time Idona had been here, the food had always been better than expected.

She took her drawing out; it was almost finished. Until now she had mainly focused on the architecture. However, today she would do her final preparations before giving it to her grandmother for a birthday present. Therefore it was natural that her eyes were laid upon people, both young and old.

Idona's grandmother, Eir had told her granddaughter so many stories about her youth and how she would sit at this Inn talking to complete strangers, getting to know the history, politics and other events about Rohan and the distant lands beyond. 'When I was young,' Eir used to say, 'I was always here, having a splendid time!' Eir would talk on and on about the place.

Idona heard her grandmother's words ringing in her ears, while trying to concentrate at the drawing. After Eir grew ill, she had not been able to visit the Horse, something that bothered both grand-mother and grand-daughter.

On the drawing, the figure of a man was soon formed, by the many lines Idona quickly made. She placed him at one of the benches drinking his ale, while talking merrily to another man just beside him. Thereafter, the nose and the plain looks in his face appeared. Idona was sketching eagerly.

'Your soup, I believe.' The serving maid Theora sat the bowl of hot soup in front of Idona.

She thanked the maid and gave her some silver coins. Theora gave a smile before she trudged on, probably going to serve another customer. Idona realized how hungry she was and laid her pencil and paper away. 'Hot,' she muttered, making a grimace as she tasted the soup. She ate her bread in a hurry, taking up her unfinished drawing again.

~-~ ********************* ~-~

'And what is the lady drawing?'

It was a friendly voice coming from someone Idona thought looked vaguely familiar. She stared into the man's face, gazing, trying to figure where she had seen him before. An analysis of the man ran through her head causing an explosion in there. Ah well, she couldn't figure out who it was. Maybe it was just her imagination.

'Sorry,' she stammered. 'I am trying to make a drawing of the Inn,' she said, looking around. 'A present,' she added. Idona explained about her grandmother loving this Inn so much and how pleased she would be to 'experience' the Horse, after so many years.

'Oh, I see. May I?' Without reply from the lady he took the pencil, gave it a wave and ran it smoothly over the paper. 'You see? The man gets a bit more 'alive'.' He said showing it to her. Idona couldn't do anything but smile; it was clear that this man was good.

'Very nice,' she assured him. The man gave a nod.

'Oh, how rude of me. I haven't even introduced myself. I am Idona,' she said while sighing. How could she forget such an important thing?

He stretched out his hand to take hers. 'And I am your cousin, Hallam'

[ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: Writer of The Mark ]
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Old 09-24-2003, 08:14 PM   #166
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Manardariel's post about Mia:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The sun was setting over Rohan. The last rays of the spectacular evening sun shone right into into Froma´s clean kitchen, and also into Mia´s face. She blinked, letting herself be carressed by the warm light for awhile. Dierna had fallen asleep in her basket. Everything seemed warm and peaceful, and it would have been- were it not for that nagging feeling in Mia´s stomach. She was worried. Her anger at Bethberry had gone off in a haze, she understood the Innkeeper perfectly. But she was still worried. Very worried. Her request for a time off, it had been utterly stupid. She wouldn´t blame the misstress if she missunderstood it- it had seemed like an excuse to get herself fired. And what would she do then? Besides the fact that she really liked her job- she needed the money. Better no birthday party in one year than going hungry forever.

Mia leaned outside of the kitchen windows. The cildren were huddled together, maybe playing a guessing game. But then she noticed Fianna´s shining eyes, and the piece of candy with a feather sticking in it. With tears in her eyes, Mia watched as Fianna filled her cheeks with air and blew out the 'candle'. Fianna was beaming. And suddenly she realized that it wasn´t entirely in her hands if the kids were happy. She could only do her best, but she didn´t have to do it all. Some things were out of her hands. But what mattered most now was her job.

"Froma, is there anything I can do?" she called over. He shook his head. "Not in the moment. I´ll let you know." Perfect . She walked across the kitchen, luckily finding one of the slates the servants sometimes used to remind themselves of their tasks. She quickly took it and a piece of chalk. When she had been a child, an old lady had told her writing. Her letters were wobbly, but she knew what to say, and her spelling wasn´t all that bad. She put her tounge between her teeth and wrote a letter.

Mistress Bethberry,

I hope you get this note. I just want to let you know that I´m sorry about this afternoon. I understand why you didn´t let me go home for Fianna. Please don´t think I don´t want to work at the Inn. I do, very much. Thank you for having me. It´s a good thing, and a blessing for us. I know the children and I sometimes cause trouble, but that's not meant badly, ma´am. I think you know that though. Like I said, I´m very sorry I was so cheeky this afternoon. I meant no harm, and I wasn´t really using my head. It won´t happen again.

Your humble servant,
Mialynn (Mia)

There, that would have to do. She hoped Bethberry would understand, but right now, all she could do was wait. She slipped the 'letter' in Bethberry´s pile on the front desk as the Innkeeper was chatting with a guest. Then she returned to the kitchen, where Froma kept her busy for quite awhile.

But for all that time, her thoughts were with the front desk- and with her letter.

[ September 28, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 09-26-2003, 06:45 AM   #167
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The second post about Hallam and Idona, from Writer of The Mark.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He stretched out his hand to take hers. 'And I am your cousin, Hallam.'
Idona gazed at him making big eyes. As if time had stopped, she slowly tried to digest the heavy load of information she had just been given by this... this...this, Stranger?

"Oh noooo," she started making the words just float in the thin air. She shook her head from side to side, trying to imagine this being some kind of a hoax. Idona repeated herself still letting the words float and not letting the man speak. Who was he really? And if he was who he claimed to be her cousin Hallam, why did he then introduce himself to her with such pride?

She waited a moment; she had no words, only thoughts, memories and.... Hallam didn't say anything either. He hadn't really expected this kind of reaction towards his introduction.

"Why do.." Idona started. An embarrassing silence filled the air again. "Why do you introduce yourself with such pride?" she asked. Her thoughts were making words, floating out of her thin lips, now sealing themselves; she wanted to say no more.

Hallam tried to find words too, but it was obviously just as hard for him as it
was to her. "If you are who you say you are, I do wonder why you are here. What business has you here when you are unwanted?" Idona spoke in a cold and bitter voice. She was bitter. Hallam stood unsympathetic to the lady's reply. Idona grew frustrated by this attitude, if she could call this an attitude at all. This man seemed so ignorant, and he acted as if he was a hopeless little child.

You shouldn't be here," she said having a tendency of anger in her voice. "You
shouldn't be anywhere," she continued, pressing her lips tight shut. "But," Hallam started. Idona interrupted him eagerly, taking her drawing under her arm and the pencil safe in her pocket. "But, what? There shouldn't be any 'but', if you are who you claim," she raised, but her cousin took a firm grip of her arm: "Will you not listen?" Idona grinned at him. "I doubt there is anything worth listening too," she said, making the young man's fingers slip her thin arm.

She started walking with in great speed hurrying away from the table the man still sat by. He walked after. "I've come to make up," he cried after her. The lady didn't stop. She would never stop to listen to this fool, who had ruined her life and now he was back; tearing up her wounds which seemed finally to have healed.

Idona rushed out of the door, having a crowd looking after as she walked out. The warm air hit her. It was alright now; she was out of there. She could breathe. Hallam, however, didn't seem to give up that easily. "Idona!" He hurried down the stairs and after the Rohan lady. Inside, she felt her rage grow. Her cousin caught up with her as she was just to explode. "Hallam, I never wish to see you again. I want you to leave and never should you be seen by my eyes again." Her cousin let her go. Idona's cool voice and the look in her eyes had made it clear to the man that this statement was real; she would never take it back.

However, she did feel sorry for the man; he had taken a life, and now he had no life.

Idona walked slowly away from the man, turning her back towards him. As she went, she never turned around to see what became of her cousin, Hallam. And he neither, tried to catch up with his childhood-friend, Idona ever again.

[ October 26, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 09-26-2003, 07:40 AM   #168
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The sun had long since set in one of those glorious early summer explosions of colour. The White Horse Inn was quiet with the muffled noises of very late evening.

Talan had started his check to ensure that all the doors of both Inn and stable were locked and windows closed. Guests were tucked away safely in their rooms--Etheldreda had taken one of the smaller rooms on the third floor as she wished to conserve her small bit of coin, Aiyanna was in her room at the back, where few knew her whereabouts; Madi had disappeared somewhere; Ruthven taken her leave of Bethberry long ago; Shae had returned with her little charge; Leofan's family were sleeping; all the maids were abed as well.

Froma was rolling out the dough for tomorrow's bread and buns and pastries; the scent of yeast wafted through the air. The roaring flames of the great fireplace in the meadhall had been dampened but not extinguished. The two innkeepers, Bethberry and Aylwen, were taking tea, sitting by the front desk and making plans for Bethberry's absence.

"I shan't be gone long, several days at the most," Bethberry informed Aylwen.

"Do you think you will stay for Maedlyn's laying in?" asked the younger Innkeeper.

"I'm not sure when her time is due, but if necessary, yes. She's lost two earlier babes and I'm sure it preys upon her mind. And if the bairn arrives, well, she will need extra hands around to help."

"What needs attending to here at the Inn?"

"Just the usual things. We have a good supply of ale, produce, flesh. Remember to check with Froma daily, though, to see if he needs anything. He likes a bit of attention and respect shown to his domain."

Aylwen shook her head, almost yawning.

"I bid you good night, then. I'll be up early and away, so don't look for me in the morning. I am thankful Ćlfritha left me the gelding. It is faster to ride than to sit atop a rumbling wagon."

With those words, the two innkeepers parted, Aylwen off to her room and Bethberry carrying the dishes to the scullery, where she bid adieu to Froma as well.

"Aylwen's in charge while you're gone?" he gruffly inquired.

"Yes, but she will keep an eye on your needs. Don't worry; she knows what she's about."

"That she does. You'll come back and find yourself not needed."

"Likely. It is the way of the world, Froma. All things pass."

"So they do," he replied.

[ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 09-30-2003, 01:09 PM   #169
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“Hey, Froma, have you seen Frodides?”

The cook frowned. “I think she was helping clean the windows outside...and NO you can not go see her. I need you here.” Mia rolled her eyes slightly at this and walked back to the basin, resuming her job in drying the breakfast dishes. She needed to talk to Frodides. It was about a plan, a plan she had developed, and she need Frodides´ help with it. Froma left the kitchen for a moment, and Mia half-considered sneaking out of the kitchen while he was away. But then, she still wasn´t sure if she still should be working here. Yeserday evening, she had left the Inn without a message from Bethberry, and today, the Innkeeper had left; without a sign if she had recieved Mia´s note. At least you´re not fired yet! she thought grimly.

But the plan, yes that was another thing. Yesterday night, she had put Fianna to bed. After a goodnight story, she had asked Fianna if she had another, big wish- afterall it was her birthday.
“Well,” the girl had said slowy, her young eyes full of earnesty and hope. “I´d really like to learn how to read!” Mia had smiled sadly, given her birthday girl a kiss and wispered the ritual goodnight-blessing.

Later that evening– it was around nine, and Mia was sitting outside the house, mending socks- the idea had struck her. Why, she COULD fulfill Fianna´s wish. And more than that, she could grant a whle bunch of children the oppurtunity of an education. True, her own spelling wasn´t best, but she still could write.

It´s a big task, but it´s doable- with Frodides. Mia concluded. She dried up the last tin cup, and looked around for an excuse to leave the kitchen. A delivery boy had just appeared with a large box of something-or-other. “Can someone bring this outside by the desk? We need some decoration!” Froma called. Mia grabbed the plants and dashed outside. She put the box down, made sure it was in no ones way- nearly stumbled over Frodides.

“Frodides, hello! I was just looking for you! Look, I have an idea, what would you say to this? I was thinking, wouldn´t it be neat to set up a little school in here for the Inn and the village children? But I´d need your help, and Bethberry or Aylwen´s permission of course..what do you say?”
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Old 09-30-2003, 07:00 PM   #170
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Frodides paused in her work and hesitated a few moments before answering. The idea was good, but before she agreed she had to consider the possibility that it might not work. The only obstacle seemed that two teachers wouldn't be enough for all the children in the village. But if they could get some other guests at the Inn to act as teachers as well, there would certainly be enough. It would provide the children with a chance to a good education, and that was worth the work that would need be put into it.

Smiling encouragingly, Frodides spoke cautiously, trying to keep the idea open that it might not work. "I think it's a wonderful idea, Mia," she said. "However, there are some slight problems that no doubt can be resolved with ease. I will not speak of those yet, until I give the matter enough thought to make certain that they are problems. Why don't you ask Bethberry or Aylwen about it now? I'll go to the kitchen and take over your work while you do so."

Mia gave a smile of thanks and hurried away. Frodides watched her go with a fond expression. Mia was still so young, but look how responsible she was for her young sisters, and how she wanted to help them and the other children of the village. "Hopefully my little daughter will be like that someday," she murmured as she went to the kitchen. "And if she is, there will be some young man who is very lucky to have her as a wife. And a few years forward, Mia will make a good wife and mother."

Frodides thought back to her own days as a young woman, when through her mother's constant eye ever watching and thorough training, she had been one of the most sufficient housekeepers in Edoras. And she remembered a conversation that she was sure she had not been meant to hear, where a certain young man's father had said, "By all means, Leofan, marry the girl, if she'll have you. She's sweet, gentle, and innocent, and above that she'll make an excellent wife and mother."

Thank you, Mother, for what you've done for me, Frodides thought, the words coming from her heart. You died so soon after I was married, but I know you were happy when you did. And I hope that I will raise my own daughter the way you rose me, so she will someday be a wonderful young woman, as you yourself were.
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Old 10-02-2003, 04:38 PM   #171
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OOC Announcement

Rohan Game Players and Owners, please welcome two new Game Players to Rohan, Ealasaid/e and Nerindel, whose skilled writing brought such strength to The Shire game Dark Seduction.

Their names have been added to the list of Rohan Game Players.

Glad to see you here, Ealasaide and Nerindel!

Bęthberry,
Moderator for Rohan

[ October 02, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 10-05-2003, 01:24 PM   #172
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Bethberry reigned in Cailleach to a slow walk and then turned to look back. The chestnut mare was a good horse, fast when haste was needed, intelligent, and responsive both to her mistress and her mistress's falcon, Wyrd. The mare was happy to stop and rest a bit, enjoying the treat of fresh grasses on the plain rather than the dried hay and mash of the stable.

The early morning sun glinted off the gold roof of Meduseld, a proud sign of Eorlingas workmanship amid the rounded foothills of the mountains. It was all Bethberry could make out of Edoras, that plus a few thatched roofs and the dark, thorn-covered pallisade which surrounded the town, a sharp backdrop for the white flowers which bloomed amid the two rows of barrows which marked the tombs of kings past. Bethberry wondered if any of the travellers arriving at Edoras remarked upon the contrast of the golden roof with the white flowered barrows.

For the first time in all her days in Edoras, the sound of the gate swinging open, to allow her passage out of the town, had given her mixed feelings, perhaps because she had had to argue with the guards to let her leave. Strange that they had been loath to open the gate for her. Perhaps it was their resistance which had made the barrows of the kings auger more than usual.

She was pulled out of her revery by Cailleach walking over to the stream, now running in a wide rutted track amid the uplands. She let the mare drink and then nudged her onwards towards the copse of willow trees which marked the ford of the Snowborne. Wyrd flew leisurely overhead. She would be at Aldhelm's mill within the hour and was looking forward to some tea and honey with Maedlyn.
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:29 AM   #173
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Sting

The next morning dawned crisp and clear in Edoras, and Aylwen had slept in later than she had planned. Bęthberry was long gone, but everyone save Froma and Delia were asleep when Aylwen finally made her way downstairs shortly after sunrise. Aylwen found Delia rummaging around in the supply closet and Froma was preparing his kitchen and getting his ingredients in order for the coming day. Yawning Aylwen went to help Delia find what she was searching for before she went to check the registry to see who would be staying another night.

It was not long before staff and customers began to filter out of the rooms. Talan came out and kindly unfastened the latches on the windows to let a cool morning breeze float through the main hall of the Inn. Iswyn, Mia, and Frododides soon entered the kitchen one by one to help Froma prepare breakfast while Leofan led a tired young Anwir out to the stables to feed the horses. Aylwen remembered Bethberry’s warning about Froma, and went back into the kitchens to speak with the cook.

“Do you need anything back here for today, Froma?” Aylwen asked the man when he was done barking out orders to Iswyn, Mia, and Frododides. He turned back to the Assistant Innkeeper with a thoughtfully grim look upon his face and a finger to his chin.

“Not that I can think of at the moment miss Aylwen, thank you,” Froma finally said before turning away to pull the fresh loaves of bread from the oven. He looked over at Iswyn yawning, and sighed. “But I could use some help who are actually awake and doing their job!” Froma added loudly, trying to get Iswyn’s attention. When the girl realized Froma was talking of her, she mumbled a weary apology and got to work chopping vegetables.

Aylwen smiled and went back out to the main hall in time to see Windheneb flirting with Delia, who was trying to sweep up around the stairs and tables. Aylwen rolled her eyes before noting that several customers were up and waiting for breakfast. The Assistant Innkeeper called for help from some of the maids and began taking orders for Froma from the hungry customers. Talan helped Delia get rid of Windheneb, which would have been a sight for Aylwen to see as Talan got Windheneb to actually sit down next to Castar and stop bothering Delia.

"I thought you said you'd never flirt with the wrong girl, Windy!" Aylwen laughed when she got to his and Castar's table to serve their breakfast. Castar had, indeed, found it quite funny when Talan calmly forced Windy not to bother Delia, and was stifling his laughter when Aylwen continued. "Now Talan's got his eye on you and the door!"

Windheneb proceeded to mumble about something or other and Aylwen went about her serving duties and kindly greeting sleepy customers as they came into the dining hall.
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Old 10-07-2003, 04:47 AM   #174
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Reen woke up right as the sun hit him, and naturally he made sure that Shrae was awake very shortly after. Attempting to hold in a yawn the young maiden carried her small charge down to one of the tables to get something to eat. Looking around it seemed that Shrae wasn't the only one who didn't like to rise early.

"What can I get you?" a nice young waitress asked.

"Oh," Shrae looked at Reen who was trying to climb onto the table from her lap. "Just some bread, milk and fruit I think."

The serving maid smiled warmly. "I'll have those right out for you."

After a somewhat messy breakfast and quick clean-up, Shrae was off into the city, heading toward her brother's home and workshop. By this time it was getting on in the morning and even late-rising Lowfel had gotten up and was munching on some ill-made breakfast.

"What is that?" Shrae scrunched her nose as she put Reen down so that he could investiagte the floor and chair legs.

"Eggs. What did you think it was?" Lowfel shoveled some more of the apparent eggs into his mouth.

"I reserve comment, besides, weren't you going to show me that board you wanted made into a sign?"

Leaning back after consuming the last of his meal, Lowfel rubbed his hands on his pants earning him a dissaproving look from his sister which he dutifully ignored.

"This way," he said as he snatched up little Reen and gently tossed him in the air while leading the way out to the shop.

The sign he wanted turned out to be a inch thick, huge board that could easily take precedence on an entire wall. Shrae eyed it in her special way.

"What do you want with it exactly?" she commented as she felt the wood, testing it out before she took a tool to it.

"Well, I was thinking about perhaps a list of things that I make and you can do. So the customers can see what they can buy and what you can do to it. Understand?"

"A list of what you can specialise in with another list of all the details I can put to it? That'll take a good while."

Reen made a squeeling noise, gaining laughter from the adults.

"Well," Lowfel said after a moment. "It looks like Reen loves the idea."

"Just wait until I'm working too much on the sign and not giving him enough attention, then he'll really let loose," Shrae retorted as she gathered the baby back into her arms.

Lowfel smiled, gave thanks, and left to work on some barrels in the construction part of his shop.

"Well Mr. Reen, shall we?"
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Old 10-07-2003, 06:53 PM   #175
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Sting

Anwir yawned and woke with a start. Where was he? He looked around and saw a nicely-decorated room, where the morning sunlight was filtering through the thin curtains on the window. Slowly the events of the previous day came back to him, and he remembered what had happened. Anwir rubbed the sleep from his eyes and hopped out of the bed. He walked around the room and nearly stumbled upon a sleeping figure that was curled up on the floor. Upon closer inspection, he realized that it was Aleia.

"Miss? Miss? Are you awake?" he called quietly. Aleia simply groaned and rolled over, pulling the blanket further over her head. Anwir resorted to poking her gently, but to no avail. He gulped, for he was hungry but he didn't want to go downstairs alone and eat by himself. But after trying for fifteen more minutes to rouse the snoozing hobbit, he realized that eating alone was the only way to avoid starving.

He left the room, shutting the door softly, and padded down the hallway towards the staircase. He stepped carefully and slowly down it, peering every so often at the crowd of people in the inn. Mustering up his courage, he stepped up to the bar and said softly, "Can I please have a bowl of porridge?"

His answer was "Have you got any money, lad? Food won't pay for itself!"

Anwir swallowed and looked down, embarassed. As he turned to step away, he heard a voice say loudly, "I'll pay for the boy's breakfast! And bring me some sausages and a nice cup of coffee, please!"

He whirled around and, much to his surprise, saw Aleia grinning at him blearily. "Miss Aleia? But you were sleeping, hard as a rock!" he said, bewildered.

She rolled her eyes, and said "Were, boy! That's the key word!" Their breakfast arrived and Aleia carried it to a table, where they began to eat. Anwir gobbled down his porridge as if he hadn't eaten in weeks. Aleia chewed her sausage thoughtfully, and then swallowed, asking "So, Anwir. How did you like working in the stables yesterday?"
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Old 10-08-2003, 11:24 AM   #176
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Sting

Etheldreda had been awake since before dawn, but she had been reluctant to leave her room. She had always been afraid of new people, preferring to stay out of everybody's way. The smell of breakfast wafted up the stairs, seeping through the gap under her door. She had spent the last few minutes being driven wild by the scent, and knew she could resist no longer. Her empty stomach suddenly rumbled so loudly the whole of Edoras could hear it. She quickly dressed in a pair of slightly too-big trousers that had once been her brother's and a faded brown long-sleeved tunic, pulled on her boots and hurried downstairs.

In the dining room there was already a hububb of chatter as the other half-awake guests of the inn worked their way through breakfast. Etheldreda never usually ate much in the mornings - she was far too busy tending to the horses - but she felt strangely ravenous that day. It was unlikely that she would be able to eat again until she returned to the Horse that evening. Today was to be her first day of seeking work in Rohan's capital city.

Aylwen smiled a kind greeting at Etheldreda as the young woman walked over to the bar and placed her order for a bowl of porridge and a cup of hot water. When Etheldreda's mother had been alive, she had professed that drinking hot water was the cure for all ills, starting every day with a cup of the stuff. The girl smiled at the memory of her fair-haired mother - the fair hair that had marked her as not being a blood relation to Etheldreda.

She ate slowly, thinking of where she could seek work as she did so. Maybe she could hire herself out, running odd jobs for people in exchange for a few coins. Or perhaps there would be a peasant family somewhere in the city, looking for a girl to care for young children or look after horses. For a moment Etheldreda's face softened as she thought of her father's stables and the gentle doe-eyed beasts that he was famed for breeding. The warm sweet smell of straw wafted to her nose and she wished with all her heart that she could be back there now.

No. Those days were over; she must put them behind her, for her own good. But at the same time, a doubt was nagging at her. It was more than likely that she would be forced to return to the inn with less and less money for some evenings yet. Although she had taken one of the cheapest rooms, the silver she had left wouldn't last her much more than five days or so. She doubted the innkeepers would let her stay rent-free; it was tough to eke a living in these times, even in such a traveller-frequented city as Edoras.

Of course, that was it! The innkeepers would know of any jobs going. No doubt they would hear plenty of news, both from locals and strangers, and some of that might concern a vacant position somewhere. She drained the last of her water and walked over to Aylwen.

"Excuse me...Aylwen, isn't it?"

Aylwen turned to see a young woman with short-cut black hair and blue-grey eyes standing behind her. The girl was dressed in dark peasant's boys clothes, and her face and hands were like those of one who has worked hard and lived an outdoor life.

"Yes?" said Aylwen, not unkindly. "How can I help you?"

"My name is Etheldreda," the girl said, only glancing up from the floor once or twice. "I was wondering...well, that is to say...do you know of any work going in Edoras? I can clean, cook a little, run any odd jobs that want doing, look after children, and I have lots of experience with horses."

Aylwen thought for a moment. She liked this girl, even if she did seem a little shy. "I might," she said. "But I think I can do better than that. There's been word that a scullery maid has been wanted up at Meduseld for some time now. It's not much, but there's plenty of opportunity there. So what do you say?"

Etheldreda's heart felt as though it was going to burst with joy. It was all she could do not to hug the innkeeper.

"Thank you," she said, and she meant it. She turned on her heel and hurried out into the streets of Edoras, making her way up to the Golden Hall.

[ October 11, 2003: Message edited by: Airerűthiel ]
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Old 10-08-2003, 11:44 AM   #177
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Sting

The sun was getting strong and Aldhelm had long before started on the grinding for the day when Maedlyn finally made it out of bed. She had been awake for hours, listening to the snoring of her husband and then watching him as he gulped down a cold breakfast and hurried to the mill. Before long she had heard the tell-tale creaking of the gears and rumble of the stones as they crushed grain into flour for the local farmers. The day after market was always a busy one. Work stacked up while the mill was idle.

Maedlyn was not a lazy woman by nature. In fact, watching her husband and daughter as they moved about the house, being unable to care for them, gnawed at her a bit. The midwife had made it clear, however, that she was only to get up from the bed when absolutely necessary. Fear for the child she could often, now, feel moving inside her kept the advice in her mind. She would not lose another baby, not if anything in her power could prevent it, and so she endured the nagging sense of uselessness.

Still, some things could not be ignored. She struggled to right herself and grimaced a bit when Lathyn silently moved to her side to help her to her feet. She was so proud of her daughter. Never much of a talker, the young girl had taken over most of the running of the household with never a complaint or whimper. She seemed to enjoy the work, to an extent, and smiled richly when she accomplished something well. She had help, of course, from some of the farmer's wives who sent food with their husbands when the grain was delivered. The wives themselves never visited, being far too busy in their own households, but the breads and simple meals were much appreciated by Maedlyn, at least, who hated to see her daughter work so hard.

On her way back from the privy, a trip she had been making far too often for her liking, she paused to feel the sunshine on her face. It was a fine day, and a good one for bearing a child. Maedlyn hoped her time would be soon. Not too, soon, however, because she still had a visitor to prepare for. It wasn't often that people from the city came to visit the mill. Aldhelm usually went there for business and, when in full health, Maedlyn sometimes accompanied him. She loved her life at the mill, but had been longing for more social contacts recently. Confinement had been difficult.

Lathyn had taken the opportunity of her absence to change the linens on the bed and Maedlyn was proud and thankful to have such a helpful daughter. She washed and tidied herself and her clothes, sighing at how tired she felt, and decided against going back to bed. She picked up her knitting, instead, and sat in one of the large and comfortable chairs in the kitchen where she could still be off her feet, but talk with Lathyn and be able to greet Bethberry when she arrived. Lathyn was humming as she started to mix a honey cake, her only real concession to her youth in the way she occassionally sampled the batter.

"Are you excited about our visitor, Lathyn, dear?" Maedlyn enquired.

"Oh yes! I love seeing Miss Bethberry when I go to market with Papa." She glanced back at her mother, as if realizing that her words might be contrued as a complaint. "Not that I mind staying here and taking care of you, Mama!"

"I know you miss going to the market, so do I. You're a good girl, and hopefully, when your new brother or sister gets here, you'll be able to go again. I know your papa sure appreciates your company. He's been jealous that I have kept you all to myelf for so long."

Lathyn smiled and began to hum again. When the batter was mixed she wiped her hands.

"It needs to set. Can I go and get some flowers for the table? The animals are taken care of and I think it would be so pretty for Miss Bethberry when she arrives."

"Of course, sweeting. Just be sure to leave some flowers for the bees," she winked back. Maedlyn smiled as her normally stoic little girl rushed out the door to gather some wildflowers for the house. She felt the beginings of an ache in her back and knew it wasn't just from sitting up. This was far too low. The ache was still faint, just a presage. Still, she was glad her new son or daughter was finally getting ready to meet her.
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Old 10-08-2003, 04:07 PM   #178
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Sting

combination of ElentariGreenleaf and dragoneyes

The sound of two horses' hooves came floating up the road on the breeze. Soon enough two riders came into sight. They both had light blonde hair, as was common to all Rohirrim and both were tanned due to days spent working in the sun. One was slightly taller than the other, and he was riding a large piebald cob. Its mane was long and thick and the forelock fell over its eyes, it was a wonder it could see where it was going some of the time. The other, shorter man rode a strong dun stallion named Braelin, whose mane, tail and fetlock were neatly trimmed compared to the cob's. They were moving at a brisk trot and neither face looked too happy. As they closed the distance between the inn and themselves, they slowed their pace. The piebald stallion tossed up head its in defiance and earnt itself a hard kick from its master, who certainly didn't look like he needed a disobedient horse.

The two men came to a halt in front of the inn stables and dismounted swiftly. Both walked their horses briskly, and with little patience to a spare stall. There didn't seem to be anyone around so they untacked their horses and shut them into their stalls with some fresh hay. The piebald immediately reached over the door with his head and began chewing and working away at the bolting, hoping to undo it and escape, which earnt it a smack on the nose.

"Don't even think about it Byrn!" said its master, Aldor. "And if you think I don't know your tricks then you're sorely mistaken!" he continued, sliding the bottom bolt with his foot. Aldor waited a while for his companion who was whispering some calming words into his horse's ear. Both horses were excited from the long night's ride.

"I'll never understand how you can calm him down doing that," said Aldor. "But come, let us go to the inn."

Aldor absentmindedly swung a thick leather glove, which anyone could recognise as a falconer's. Findur joined up with him and they walked around to the front of the inn together and through the door. Aldor was too flustered to enjoy the day as he should have done, as young as it was. He walked up to the bar and sat at a stool.

"Blasted bird!" he muttered, "And I don't care what time it is! I'm having an ale!" but his will faltered as he thought of his wife berating him if she saw him drinking this early. He sighed, he'd lost his kite, been chasing it half the night and was still not allowed a drink. Findur sat down beside him and put a hand on his shoulder.

"We'll find them soon enough friend." Findur sat, one hand supporting his head, the other occupied by a small blade. "I hope Peregrine is alright. He's a good hunter, as is your Bromwyn. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a kite quite like her. It puzzles me that they did not return." His words trailed off, as he had said them to himself.

"You would think," said Aldor loudly, "that at least one of the flaming birds would have the sense to come back. All we can do now is wait and see if anyone sees them." then he added as an afterthought, "She's lucky, Bromwyn. Nearly forgot to remove her jess and what a terrible pickle she'd be in then! This is only her second season." He sighed, getting agitated as his hair got in his eyes.

"Stop worrying, they'll be fine. But we should let the barkeep know that we are searching for our dear hunters." Findur rose and walked over to the counter. "Excuse me miss," he said to Aylwen. "Do you know where I might find the barkeep?"

Aldor walked up behind his friend an added, "We have lost our hunting birds and would like to know any news of them as soon as it arrives."

"Bethberry is the Inn keeper," started Aylwen.

"Where might we find her?" interrupted Aldor.

"She is away at the moment," Aylwen continued. "I am taking her place while she is gone. I am sorry to hear of your birds' disappearances, and promise I will tell you first thing I hear of them."

"Thank you kind lady," said Findur graciously

The two Rohirrim returned to their table and continued to talk. Nothing of much interest was passed between the two, but the idle chat, and later a loaf of bread and a little drink, was enough to keep their minds away from their long night of searching for Bromwyn and Peregrine.

[ October 08, 2003: Message edited by: dragoneyes ]
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:50 AM   #179
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Bethberry said good-bye to Aldhelm and ducked under the low beam of the door as she left the mill. The sunbeams caught on the dust particles in the air, making the entire place shimmer. It looked fascinating, but the heavy dust always made her sneeze. After one particularly strong sneeze, she wondered if millers were likely prone to chest ailments.

Walking Cailleach with the reigns in her hands, she trod the well-worn dirt path up to the small stone house. She could hear Deol scolding the cows in the barn and then, as she neared the house, she caught sight of Lathyn picking flowers.

"Ho, hello Lathyn," she called out and waved. The girl looked up, surprised and happy, and ran to meet her mother's friend.

"I've picked a nice posy for you Miss Bethberry," the girl burst out happily.

"So you have, so you have. They are beautiful."

Bethberry sniffed at bouquet of foxgloves and fleeceflower, primrose and lupins. They were fresh and sweet, but the scent of the honeysuckle vine covering the house overpowered them. She sneezed once, twice, and had to return the bouquet to Lathyn or she would have dropped them.

"I'm sorry," she said to the crestfallen girl. "I stopped by the mill to see your da and the dust there made me sneeze. I don't know how he can stand it in there. Let's see how lovely these look on your table, shall we?" She smiled cheerfully at the girl, a smile which brought happiness once again to Lathyn's face.

"How's your ma? Is she well? She's had a hard confinement. I've missed her and am so looking forward to this visit."

The girl nodded. "She's tired often and doesn't like being so bed or chair ridden. I think she's getting pains and cramps now, more often. She's waiting for you in the kitchen. Come."

The two left Cailleach with Deol in the barn and then walked up to house.
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Old 10-19-2003, 07:47 AM   #180
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Sting

The warm embracing air of the inn was a comforting contrast to the cool morning dew that laced Lairwyn’s ankles. As she opened the large door to the White Horse, she unconsciously loosened her grip on the old, yellow shawl her mother crocheted for her before her wedding day. The smell of frying bacon stimulated her nostrils and her stomach rumbled a reply. Several folk sat in the common room sipping coffee and nibbling on toast and eggs. The rattling of pots and pans could be heard coming from the kitchen. Froma is hard at work already. Lairwyn smiled as she pictured the cook slaving over a hot fire, tasting rich sauces and adding pinches of seasonings.

Shaking the image from her head, Lairwyn crossed the room. After her unexpected departure from the market, the day before, she was hoping to catch a few of the local merchants who frequented the White Horse in the mornings. Yesterday had ended with unforeseen excitement. One moment she was looking over produce, and the next she was caught up with a couple of colorful performers and on her way to the inn. The actors had insisted on putting on a dinner show for the patrons, and their audience’s reaction was positive after the initial surprise. When she’d returned home, Lairwyn had to tell her disbelieving husband the tale three times before he’d let her be. Each time Mayhew would question just how she found herself with them, and then when she would describe the act, he would sit back in his chair with his hands behind his head and close his eyes picturing the whole ordeal. Honestly, he was more than a little uncomfortable knowing his wife spent the evening with strangers, but he wished he could have seen the show.

Lairwyn sat on a tall stool at the bar and ordered a cup of coffee and some bread to munch while she waited. Hopefully, she hadn’t missed the men this morning. They typically assembled early to talk about how business was going and the politics of the day.

“Lairwyn, how nice to see you.” Crumbs flew from Lairwyn’s mouth as she spun around on the stool to greet the voice. Her eyes widened when she saw Frodides smiling broadly. Lairwyn’s hand instinctively shot up to cover mouth, and she chewed quickly and swallowed a large lump of bread so she could answer her friend.

“Frodides, thank you. How is Mćrcwen?” Lairwyn had served as midwife when Frodides had given birth to her little girl and the women had remained relatively close since. Close relationships with the families Lairwyn has served are common because of the bond formed when people share an emotional experience like that of birth. Lairwyn wiped her mouth with a cloth napkin from the bar, and turned just as Frodides began to answer…

[ October 19, 2003: Message edited by: alaklondewen ]
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Old 10-20-2003, 09:55 AM   #181
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Sting

Maedlyn heard the excited laughter of her daughter, punctuated by a lower, smoother voice, as it got closer to the house. Bethberry must have arrived. She smiled to herself. Bethberry was one of the few adults she knew who would engage Lathyn in something approaching adult conversation, something she knew the girl appreciated.

Putting a hand on her abdomen, Maedlyn turned in her chair to survey the small house. The living area, which was really just an extention of the kitchen, was neat and tidy. She had, herself, gotten up to clean the higher reaches of the room when she knew for certain that Bethberry was coming. Aldhelm had offered, but was hopeless with cleaning, since he was surrounded by dust all day and didn't seem to see it anymore. The kitchen area itself, where she sat now, was, perhaps, a trifle too warm, but cheery and bright with windows overlooking the river.

Through the heavy oaken furniture of the living area, Maedlyn could see directly into the two bedrooms. The doors to both bedrooms stood open as usual, and, pushing back the chair a bit, Maedlyn was able to see that her daughter had put her favorite multicolored quilt on the foot of her small bed. A welcoming gesture for the guest, who would be staying there. Lathyn herself would be sleeping with her parents for the duration of the visit.

Meadlyn knew that the house was humble compared to Bethberry's normal surroundings. It was well made and had more windows than most regular farmhouses, but was not much compared to the White Horse or the lovely houses in Edoras. Still, Maedlyn was pleased with the way the house looked when neat and ready for a guest. She was less happy with her own appearance, and knew that she looked ungainly and heavy with the last stages of pregnancy. Still, she had done her best with comb and dress to make herself presentable and realised there was nothing she could do about the rest. She was as ready as she could be for her guest.

Just at that moment two things happened. The baby made its presence known again with a movement and another low pain in Maedlyn's back, and the door to the house swung open, admitting Lathyn and Bethberry. Maedlyn smiled warmly at them as they entered, but gasped slightly at the pain before speaking.

"Bethberry, my friend, it is wonderful to see you again. Welcome, welcome. Are you weary after your ride?"

"I am not weary, but I would gladly sit with you. Lathyn was just showing me her bounty of flowers. They would look well on the table."

Maedlyn nodded to Lathyn, who chose a glass to display the flowers in. The girl could not reach the vase and saw nothing wrong with using a drinking glass, which brought a smile to both women's faces as Bethberry took a seat at the table.

"They are lovely flowers, Lathyn," her mother began. "Would you like to offer Miss Bethberry a drink?"

Confident that her daughter could handle to social niceties for the moment, Maedlyn let her mind wander to the pain fluttering in her back. She pressed her hand to the ache to relieve the pressure and saw that her guest was watching her.

"So soon?" Bethberry inquired with raised eyebrows.

"Not soon enough," she laughed. "This is just a little warning. Still, I would think that before the end of the day, Deol will ride to town for Lairwyn."

She hoped her nervousness would not be too apparent, but could see that Bethberry, always perceptive, could sense her mixed feelings. She put down her knitting and reached across the table to lay her hand across her friend's.

"I am glad you're here!"

[ October 20, 2003: Message edited by: The X Phial ]
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Old 10-20-2003, 01:52 PM   #182
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"Oh, for goodness sake Briga, it´s only a cat!” Mia snapped at her younger sister. Briga was staring at a dead cat, watery-eyed and refusing to move another inch. Briga looked up at her.
“You´re mean, Mia! You´re mean and wicked, like an ugly spider. Go away!”
“Fine!” Exasperated, Mia moved a few steps away, catching up with Deor and Fianna; who were fighting over a wooden bear. As soon as she reached them, Briga broke into loud howling behind her, still refusing to move an inch and; of course, waking up the baby who had been sweetly sleping in Mia´s arms up to now. Dierna joined her sister, followed by a sobing Fianna with a red mark on her cheek that looked suspiciously like a slap-mark.
“DEOR!” Mia thundered. “Deor, did you just hit your sister? Deor, answer me!”
The boy shrugged. “She deserved it, the stupid cow. She started it!”
“No!” Fianna shrieked, hiding behind Mia´s skirt for protection. “Mia, he took my bear, and when I wanted it back he hit me!”
Mia stopped in her tracks. What was wrong with the kids? They´d been cranky and moody since dawn. “OK, you lot. Enough is enough.” She knew she sounded fierce. She wanted to sound fierce. “You kids stay right here. I´m going in there,” she pointed to a street to their left, “and when I´m back I don´t want to here a single cry, complain or fight. Understood?” She turned away.

The street was small and dark. Mia cooed Dianna back to sleep, then leaned against the wall for a moment. The kids weren´t the only ones in a bad mood. She was, too. A day of waiting for a reply from Bethberry, and making plans that were beating themselvesd in there abstruseness had worn her out. She had gone to bed later than usual, and a nightmare had shaken her awake long before morning. She couldn´t remember what she´d dreamed, but it had been horrible, and she didn´t sleep afterwards. Mia smiled grimly. She should be going. They were needed at the Horse, bad mood or not. She walked to the kids. They hadn´t gotten into mischief, on the contrary, they were behaving nicely. Briga and Fianna were playing with a doll, Deor standing aside. She gently ruffeled his hair and pecked her sisters on the cheek. The group set out again.

Arriving at the Inn, Mia watched the kids run out of site, and walked in. Frodides caught her off before she could even enter the kitchen.
“Morning, Mia!,” she said cheerfully. “I´ve been thinking about your idea. About the school. You know, we should talk to Aylwen about it. If we have her permission we can all organise it as a suprise for Bethberry when she comes back.”

Mia smiled. Some suprise that would be! But it was a good idea. She gratefully smiled at Frodides. “You know,” she told the older woman as they walked towards the kitchen. “I was wondering, maybe we should post a notice at the board to find somemore teachers. These people are bound to be good at something, be it herbs or history.” She nodded her head towards some of the guests. “Some of them have business here that holds them in Edoras for more than a month. That´s time to teach these kids enough for a lifetime!” She laughed. All her troubles seemed far away, now that there was something to do, something to organise.

She left for the kitchen, and while she worked, she sang aloud. Well, she would have untill her suffering “audience” bade her to silence. This she did, though unwillingly. At some point, she walked over to Aylwen. This was it. She looked at the bard and took a deep breath.

“Aylwen? Do you have a moment?” The bard nodded. Mia stept forward, forcing her hands to stop wringing.
“The thing is...I was thinking...see, I thought it would nice if we –well, I, I suppose- maybe organised a little school here. For the village kids. It´s just...I mean it would be good for them if they knew how to spell, to count. And they´d get out of mischief. We could find teachers among the teachers, and maybe some of the staff. It wouldn´t cost, we could do it in that little room off the big hall. The one that´s not used often. We could even go outside if the weather´s good! The children would be good, I´m sure. It would work perfectly...”
Her voice trailed as she looked into Aylwen´s face. So? what was her answer?

[ October 20, 2003: Message edited by: Manardariel ]
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Old 10-20-2003, 07:31 PM   #183
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Anwir headed out to the stable, nodding to a man as he passed by. As he stepped into the stable, he was greeted by the pungent smell of horse and the sweet scent of hay. Mihtig looked up from munching his fodder and nickered softly.

"Hello there, fellow. How are you doing?" murmured Anwir, rubbing the stallion's velvety nose. Mihtig searched Anwir's hand, looking for treats, but he found nothing. Anwir chuckled and said "Sorry, boy; nothing for you at the moment."

He left Mihtig and went to grab a broom to sweep the aisle. Beginning at the far end, Anwir was soon hard at work. When he was halfway there, he stopped to wipe the sweat from his brow and leaned on his broom. Suddenly his nose detected a sharp smell, something he recognized but couldn't quite put his finger on. He heard a horse neigh shrilly and saw a light flare up at the other end of the stable. As he realized what it was, he ran towards it, screaming "Fire! Fire! Help, someone! Fire in the stable! Fire!"

Anwir ran out of the stable and into the Horse, still yelling. The people enjoying late breakfasts and drinks looked at him like he was a lunatic. Aleia had been sitting at a table enjoying a mug of ale, and she jumped, twisting to look at who had burst into the room. When she recognized Anwir, she lunged towards him and gave him a smart slap.

"Snap out of it, boy! What are you screaming about?" she cried, shaking his shoulders.

Anwir wrenched from her grasp and ran towards the door, crying "The stable! It's on fire! Help me! You must help! The horses!"

Suddenly his face went stark white and he croaked, "The horses." He whirled on his heel and sprinted out of the inn and back towards the stable with Aleia and a host of others in hot pursuit.

"Stop, Anwir! Stay out of there!" screamed Aleia, as Anwir disappeared into the now-ablaze stable. The shrill cries of the trapped horses that were still inside pierced the hearts of the onlookers and they started moving into action. Anwir reappeared leading a chestnut horse with rolling eyes. Someone ran forward to grab it and Anwir ran back into the stable accompanied by a handful of brave souls. Water was now being thrown onto the hungry fire, and suddenly a torrent of horses streamed from the stable doorway. They neighed shrilly and galloped away, terrified. A few of their owners cried out and began moving back towards them, but Aleia shouted "Leave them be! They'll not be lost."

Some of the boys that had run in after Anwir appeared from the stable with sooty faces and terrified eyes. Anwir reappeared for the last time from the groaning stable shortly afterwards, this time leading Mihtig and leaning on one of the lad's arms who went in with him. Anwir coughed and collapsed onto the boy who had been helping him. Mihtig cantered off, glad to be free of the fiery building. Anwir was swept up into Aleia's arms, while the rest of the crowd worked to quench the flames.

[ October 21, 2003: Message edited by: Horse-Maiden of the Shire ]
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Old 10-21-2003, 04:08 PM   #184
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Aylwen’s usual smile was turned downcast in contemplation and concentration as she stood at the registry and began a list of things needed the next time they went to the market. Delia had asked for a few supplies, and Froma had come back to Aylwen recently to ask about ingredients needed for some such food he had in mind. People bustled all around her, latecomers just waking up and coming downstairs to join the rest of the customers ordering breakfast and drinks. In the booth behind her Aylwen could hear a local muttering curses and insults at the engraver, who shouted flourished and seemingly rehearsed retorts back at him, but Aylwen tried her best to think over that controversy and the sounds of other guests. Aylwen hardly noticed when Mia walked up to her and tapped her shoulder for attention.

“Aylwen, do you have a moment?” Mia asked, and though her voice was wavering slightly with nerves, Mia was doing well to compose herself. Aylwen nodded kindly, looking up from her papers and putting her charcoal pencil down.

Mia continued. “The thing is...I was thinking...see, I thought it would nice if we –well, I, I suppose- maybe organized a little school here. For the village kids. It’s just...I mean it would be good for them if they knew how to spell, to count. And they’d get out of mischief. We could find teachers among the teachers, and maybe some of the staff. It wouldn’t cost, we could do it in that little room off the big hall. The one that’s not used often. We could even go outside if the weather’s good! The children would be good, I’m sure. It would work perfectly...”

Aylwen grinned, but thought before answering. The Assistant Innkeeper’s memory flashed back to just two days previous, when she had been speaking with the bard, Child. Child had asked about the children running around the Inn when they had been preparing for the celebration, and Aylwen remembered what she had said in answer. Their parents have a hard enough time making ends meet. They might have a few spare pennies one month but the next be scrambling for food to feed their little ones. In any case, many of them see no reason why their children should spend time learning their letters or numbers. It just doesn't seem to be part of their life. Aylwen sighed, wishing that it wasn’t so. This was the chance to make her previous statement untrue.

“I see no problem with it,” Aylwen replied slowly, making sure she worded her answer correctly. “So long as work in the inn is not forgotten about, and people are not called away from necessary duties, I don’t see why we can’t make this idea work. It would be a wonderful opportunity for the children – “

“Yes, it would!” Mia interrupted excitedly. She was smiling broadly from ear to ear, and from the look on her face Aylwen could tell Mia was already planning what she would teach first and who could teach what. Mia had quite a future ahead of her, Aylwen could feel it.

Aylwen had little chance to think about that, for mere seconds after Aylwen had approved of Mia’s idea, a little boy came running through the door of the Inn, flailing his wire-thin arms about frantically and wildly. He jostled patrons walking by, and was only stopped when the hobbit Aleia grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Oh, Anwir!” Aylwen sighed to herself, politely excusing herself to Mia as she left the desk and went to see what was wrong. Aleia had asked the thief boy something, but Aylwen couldn’t quite hear it in time. It didn’t matter, since she was able to hear Anwir’s reply quite clearly, though what he said was much to her dismay and shock.

"The stable! It's on fire! Help me! You must help! The horses!" was his first cry, but before he left the inn he was able to wheeze out, “The horses,” weakly before he ran out towards the stables.

At first Aylwen didn’t believe him, and thought it was a prank made by the little trickster she recalled from after the market day. When she went outside, however, and saw the orange-red flames licking at the wood towards the back of the stables, Aylwen was filled with shock and intense worry. For just a split second she was frozen, unsure of what she should do. But she snapped out of it just as quickly as she had fallen in and ran into the inn to get help from the staff and hopefully the patrons. It was a community problem, after all.

What will Bethberry say? Aylwen asked herself frantically as she recruited the people of the inn to help with the fire.

[ October 25, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 10-24-2003, 07:34 AM   #185
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As Sigrid trudged up the road toward the inn, she raised a hand to push a stray strand of ash blond hair away from her face. She had noticed a thick cloud of smoke rising from some distance away, but, now, as she drew closer to the White Horse Inn, she saw that the smoke came from one of the inn’s outbuildings. The stable, perhaps. People crowded the inn’s yard, some running back and forth with water buckets, while others did their best to calm the panicked horses. Sigrid glanced over her shoulder at her dog, a black and white border collie. The dog stood very still, her blue eyes staring in the direction of the fire, her ears cocked attentively forward. Sigrid gave a low whistle. The dog’s plumy tail waved twice then stopped as her nose continued to sniff intently at the breeze that blew toward them from the fire, carrying with it the pungent odors of smoke and horses.

Sigrid stopped walking and shifted her small bundle of clothing from one hand to the other. This was bad luck, indeed. She had hoped to find work at the inn, something perhaps in the kitchen, but, if the place burned down... what would she do for work, then? She couldn’t go back to the farm. And, even if she could find work at the inn, with the stable burned down, where would she sleep? What would she do with the dog? She glanced again at the dog, Kajsa, and sighed. She hadn’t meant to bring the dog at all, but by the time Sigrid had noticed her trotting along at her heels, it was too late to send her back. She had walked too far. If she turned back, there would be no getting away again. So, the dog stayed.

As it turned out, Sigrid had been grateful for the company, as the journey down from the hills had been a long one. She turned her attention back in the direction of the fire. If there was no work at the inn, perhaps she could find work in the town. That would probably be better for her, anyway. After all, she wasn’t without skills. Anxiously, she touched the pocket where she carried her purse. She could afford a room at the inn only for a short while unless a job materialized rather quickly, but it was worth the gamble. She couldn’t very well sleep in the meadow and expect to have any luck applying for a respectable position in town with muddy hems and grass in her hair. But, for the moment, she would see what she could do to help the people of the inn extinguish their fire. Clutching her small bundle to her chest, she began to jog in the direction of the inn.

Just then, three horses broke from the confines of the inn yard, taking off across the adjacent field at a full gallop. The dog, Kajsa, dropped to a half crouch and emitted a low whine. She glanced anxiously between Sigrid and the horses.

Hearing the whine, Sigrid looked back. Then, guessing at the dog's instincts, she gave a short, sharp whistle and pointed at the oncoming horses. The dog took off like an arrow across the open meadow on a trajectory that would carry her right across the path of the frightened horses. Sigrid stopped to watch as the small black and white body of the dog hurtled directly in front of the lead horse, almost under its hooves. The horse, a large bay, stopped and reared, its hooves beating the air. The other two, following the first horse's lead, shied as well. Sigrid bit her lip, watching as the dog darted back and forth between the three horses, nipping at heels and barking, until finally the three horses stood shoulder to shoulder in a nervous bunch. Slowly, Sigrid approached them, cooing softly as she came. The dog crouched in the grass nearby.

"Shhh....that's a good boy," Sigrid whispered, holding out her hand to the bay stallion. "That's a good boy..." The horses eyed her nervously. They all wore halters and one, a small gray, even had a fairly long lead rope attached. Sigrid decided that if she could lead the three horses back to the inn, at least she would have an opening through which she could approach the stable master. She was sure, in his position at the inn, he would know most of the townspeople. Perhaps he would be able to tell her where in town a good position could be had. She had great skill as a spinner and weaver, having been taught the skills at her mother’s knee from a very young age. Maybe the town’s weaver could use her.

Gently, she stroked the nose of the bay. Still speaking soothingly to the frightened animals, she reached over and detached the lead rope from the halter of the gray horse, reattaching it to the bay. She knew the other two horses would follow their leader, especially with Kajsa trotting along behind. Clucking softly to the horses, Sigrid gave the rope a firm tug and began to walk toward the inn. To her relief, the horses followed. Sigrid smiled to herself. She had difficulty understanding people sometimes, but animals? With animals, she was just fine.
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Old 10-25-2003, 05:45 AM   #186
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Sting

Findur woke up to find his head hurt and his neck ached from sleeping with his head on the table in an awkward position. For a moment sleep kept him in its clutches, but he sat bolt upright when he heard shouting and smelt the repulsive smell of smoke. He elbowed Aldor sharply in the rips.

“Wake up!” said Findur urgently. Something’s on fire. I think it’s the stables!”

“What?” shouted Aldor.

Both men ran to the door and on to the stables, where a thick wall of smoke instantly blinded them. Findur ran to the nearest person and grabbed them by the shoulders.

“Are all the horses safe?” he shouted above the roar of the flames and shouts of the surrounding people.

“All the horses are safe, but I don’t remember you bringing one in.”

“I took him into the stables myself. He’s a dun stallion. Is he safe?”

“I’m sorry, but we haven’t seen a dun. He could have-”

Findur ran to the stables before the boy could finish his sentence. The heat from the flames was intense, and smoke was so thick he could barely breath, so he took a kerchief from his pocket and covered his mouth with it, tying it at the back of his head to keep his hair out of the way. He took a few deep breaths before he ran through the flame-engulfed doorway.

“Braelin!” Findur shouted his horse’s name over and over. “Braelin, where are you boy?” He heard a frightened neigh close to the stall Findur had left the stallion in. He knew the neigh to be Braelin’s and ran to his horse. Suddenly, a support beam from the roof crashed to the ground only metres in front of Findur. The impact caused flaming part of the beam to go flying, setting even more wood and straw alight. The beam now blocked Findur’s path to his stallion.

Braelin reared in fright, as a clump of burning hay fell from the smouldering hayloft above, burning his back and singeing some of his mane. The terrified stallion bolted, leaping over the beam that blocked the path, and nearly knocked Findur flying. Findur caught hold of Braelin’s mane as the horse ran past, and was dragged along, though he managed to stay on his feet. With great effort Findur swung himself onto Braelin’s back.

“Whoa boy,” he said, leaning close to the stallion’s ears. “Calm own boy. Whoa Braelin.”

Braelin slowed and came to a halt right in front of a wall. He tossed his head wildly, but did not bolt again. The whites of his eyes were showing and froth ha formed at his mouth. Findur hated to see his faithful steed in such a state. Dismounting, Findur untied his kerchief and tied it round Braelin’s head, covering the horse’s eyes. Braelin’s ears twitched nervously, but Findur stroked him on the nose until he calmed down completely. Putting his arm around Braelin’s neck, Findur led his horse to the nearest exit then away from the flames and smoke. He shouted for Byrn, Aldor’s horse, but heard no neigh, saw no frightened cob horse.

A cheer went up from a crowd of people as Findur led Braelin out of the building, but it soon subsided as part of the building collapsed.

“Findur!” Aldor ran up to his friend. “Findur, did you see Byrn? Is he safe?”

Findur looked away from his friend’s hopeful face. “I did not see or hear him.”

“He must have got out then,” said Aldor hopefully.

Findur looked at the ground. He too hoped Byrn, so ironically named, had escaped, but none of the stable workers had known of their horses being in the stables.

Aldor watched his friend’s expression. “No. He got out! I know he did. You… you didn’t look hard enough!”

“Aldor, I-” but Aldor was gone before Findur could finish speaking.
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Old 10-25-2003, 05:13 PM   #187
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Drip.

Drop.

Drip.

Drop.

Aredihel Danwedh watched with rapt interest as blood dripped out of the shallow incision several inches below her left wrist. It was scarcely an inch long and shallow, but it served its purpose. The life giving crimson liquid slowly seeped out of her wound and gathered into a large droplet before plummeting into the metal cup on the table. She would have preferred leaches, but her husband had not found an apothecary that stocked the slimy critters. Aredihel didn’t blame him—after all they had only arrived in the city yesterday. As the Judicial and Military attaché to the Gondorian ambassador, he had been obligated to spend the day learning the ropes. Adjusting to their new home would certainly take longer.

Satisfied that she had drawn the prescribed amount of blood, she quickly cleaned and bound the wound. From her twelfth birthday, she had suffered from an ailment that all the doctors were at a loss to explain. Sunlight scorched her, causing her skin to break out in rashes and blisters. Wine and beer had the same effect, marring her pale white skin with ugly red blemishes. It seemed that the curse ran in her families—her aunt and her grandfather had both suffered the same problems. Over a few decades of experimentation, her grand father had discovered that drawing a small amount of blood each day would greatly lessen the curse.

Later, after nightfall, she would dispose of the blood in the garden and clean the defiled vessel. There were so many things for a new arrival to accomplish, and most would have to be accomplished in the daylight. They still had several days of travel rations remaining, but there were a few small things she would have to purchase. Furthermore, she would soon have to find somewhere to procure food for her two dogs, Marco and Sinco. The wolf and the hunting dog lounged in front of the fireplace, exhausted after the long trip up from Gondor. It was reassuring to know that, despite the move, something was getting rest.

After straightening her simple black dress, the Gondorian woman pulled on a matching pair of gloves. A simple white wooden mask sat on the table, devoid of any markings or decorations save for two slits to allow vision. For all intents and purposes, it was simply a wooden plate that protected her features from the scorching sun. A heavy scarf tied around her neck and a brown traveler’s cloak with a hood completed her attires. As long as she didn’t look directly at the sun, she probably would not suffer any symptoms. Anyways, the light had begun to fade, and soon she would not need her elaborate protection.

Aredihel paused inside the foyer of her home. Her uncle, who had been a rich merchant while he was still alive, had built the house. Success had made him paranoid, and he had built his house with half-foot thick stone walls. Still, it didn’t take a bat to figure out that something was going on in the streets outside. She sniffed, sensing the harsh presence of smoke. Was there a fire?

The sudden influx of noise and smell caused by the opening of the door woke Sinco, the wolf. He stumbled into the foyer, still half asleep, and yapped anxiously at the owner. Aredihel smiled at him and gently shooed him back into the common room. While her family had trained their dogs to track and hunt, Sinco had never been city broken. Anyways, a fire was not exactly the best time to introduce him to the city. The horses certainly wouldn’t appreciate it either. With a wince, she stepped into the sun and shut the door behind her.

She didn’t feel the burning itching that indicated the burning rays of the sun touching her skin. Despite the shouting and smoke billowing down the street, her mood lightened considerably. Her uncle had enclosed his property with an eight-foot high stone wall, so she could still not see what was going on. But, at the very least, she would be able to move freely now. The two horses the couple owned, a black warhorse, and her chestnut riding horse, moved about uneasily in the small stall near the gate. Aredihel didn’t blame them—the sound of the screaming horses was beginning to unnerve her as well.

Closing the heavy wooden gate behind her, she began pushing her way down the street to get a better look. The stables of the inn at the end of street had caught fire, and the crowd had begun to form a chain between the burning building and the nearest well. Others had begun dousing the neighboring buildings. In a city made of straw and wood, an out of control fire could quickly devastate the infrastructure. She joined the crowd in cheering as another horse was freed from the burning building. However, as time passed, fewer and fewer of the creatures emerged. Those that did often sported burns and bruises. Aredihel hoped the slowing rescue rate meant that most of the horses had been rescued—the alternative was not something she wanted to think about.

[ October 25, 2003: Message edited by: Ransom ]

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Old 10-25-2003, 06:23 PM   #188
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Leofan had been outside, walking one of the horses to give it some exercise. He had decided it would be safe to leave Anwir in 'charge' of the stable for a few minutes. When he heard the cry of 'Fire!' from the young boy, his mind flew immediately to Mihtig, but concern was building up inside them for all the other horses, as well. He had experienced two stable fires already, and in those two fires hardly any of the horses had escaped.

Turning, he saw Anwir run out of the stable and right into Aleia. Leofan took a sharp step towards them, but the lead rope in his hand grew taut as the horse he was leading stiffened in fear. "Anwir!" he cried. "Come hold this horse for me!" His voice was drowned in the shouts that came from the guests as they came pouring out of the Inn. Anwir disappeared into the stable.

With a little cry of rage, Leofan caught a man who was running past him by the shirt and shoved the lead rope into his hand. "Hold that, and don't let it get away." Glancing down, he saw that the man he had stopped was holding a bucket of water. Taking it from his hands, he went forward to Aleiea. "Where's the boy?" he demanded. His eyes were flickering dangerously and his body was tense.

"He went into the stable," Aleia said. She hesitated for a moment, and then added, "Please don't be angry with him, Leofan. He's still just a boy and I don't think he realizes..."

"I'm not angry with him," Leofan replied. "I once did the same thing. I'm frightened for him, that's all. I think I should go after-" He was never able to finish, for Anwir came running out of the stables, leading Mihtig. Leofan felt gratitude for the rescue of his stallion springing up inside him, but there was no time to thank the boy. There were still horses in the stable. He stepped forward to go into the stable, and his eyes sprang to the Inn. Frodides was standing there, watching him, and Leofan remembered that the last stable fire he had been involved in he had narrowly escaped with his life, while he and Frodides had just recently been married. Hopefully she would forgive him for what he was about to do. He went into the burning stable.

Inside, he could hear the shrill whinnies and panicked eyes of horses, some frozen with fear and others plunging back and forth in their stalls. It was no easy task to bring them out, but he had to try. He fought the painful memories that arose in his mind... all those horses that had been killed by the merciless fire. He would do what he could to save them.

Opening one stall, he quickly put a halter onto a bay mare's head and whispered some soothing words in her ear, running his hand up and down her neck. Then he began to walk forward. She refused to move. "Come on, lass," he murmured. "It's all right." Still she would not move.

Leofan always kept a dagger with him, for while stablekeeping was generally safe, there was always a chance that someone might try to steal the horses. Withdrawing it now, he cut off his right sleeve and, still speaking softly to the mare, covered her eyes with it. Perhaps that was the reason for that look of intense concern on Frodides' face, he thought with a grim smile. She must have known I had no handkerchief on me, or anything of the sort. Never ceasing in his kind words to the mare, he slowly led her out of the stable. He shoved the lead in a boy's hand and went back into the stable and soon returned with a jittery dapple-grey mare. Picking up a bucket of water that had been set down, he began working to put out the fire, trying to divert his mind from the horses still inside. In a few moments he would go back in. He would save neither horses nor himself if he went in again now. The smoke was overpowering him.

Sinking to his knees, he bent his head low, shutting out the whinnies of the horses. A gentle hand touched his shoulder, and he knew without looking up that it was Frodides.

[ October 25, 2003: Message edited by: Nurumaiel ]
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Old 10-28-2003, 01:53 PM   #189
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Etheldreda wrinkled her nose as a sickening stench writhed in her nostrils. What was that smell? She stopped halfway through the motion of scrubbing the floor and took a deep breath. It wasn't coming from inside the Golden Hall, that much she knew. Her years of stable work had given her a keen sense of direction when she'd had to look for horses that had wandered too far whilst grazing the plains. She stood up slowly, abandoning her bucket and cloth, and took careful steps towards the scent. It grew stronger as she neared one wall. Her eyes travelled to the window.

Fear chilled her blood to ruby ice as she stared out in horror. Ravenous flames licked at the wooden thatched buildings, setting them alight. She wanted to cry out in horror. It was only then that she realised where the fire was coming from. The stables of the Horse were burning down!

She thought of Tycyn instantly, remembering the manner in which he had become hers. The blaze at her father's first stables, when she was a girl of seven or eight summmers. The bay foal had been the only survivor of the horrible fire. Even now the terrified cries of the horses echoed in her mind, swallowed up by the crackling of charring wood and straw. She would not let her best friend meet the fate of his mother.

Ursa, the head of the servants, turned at the sound of running feet. She only caught a glimpse of long dark hair rounding a corner as the steps faded into nothingness. Shaking her head, the woman went back to her work. Many of the girls who had done the scullery maid's duties before this maid arrived had complained about the work, but she certainly hadn't expected the new lass to just run out of Meduseld without even saying goodbye after less than a day.

Etheldreda raced through the streets of Edoras, her heart slamming against her ribs. Several irate peasant women chided her as she knocked into their shoulders. Her ears were deaf to their reprimands; she could hear nothing but the fear pulsing through her body. Every part of her ached with fright. Terrifying images flickered across her eyes for fractions of seconds, merging into one scary vision that seeped like poison into her every thought.

Out of breath and panting heavily, she reached the inn in a matter of minutes. It felt as though she'd been running since the First Age. A crowd of black figures were flocking towards the stables, some trying to put the fire out, others leading horses away from the blaze. She could hear the cries of those who had whipped themselves up into a panic. These faded in and out of her mind, replaced by one repeated phrase: got to find Tycyn, got to find Tycyn...

For a moment she started forward, taken over by the desperate desire to find her horse. The heat that hit her was that of a thousand forges. Her throat was tightening, constricted by the noxious fumes. She had to fight it. Saving her horse from the destiny of his foalhood stable-mates was, for a minute time, more important than her own life. She did not care whether the fire consumed her. Let her sacrifice become legend among the Rohirrim! The tale of a woman dying for taking such pride in the traditions of her adopted people would not lie for a thousand years.

It was then that she saw a young woman of about her own age stroking the nose of a bay stallion. One glance at the horse was all that she needed to break down. The tears that spiked her eyes like a hundred needles were almost as hot as the flames. She ran across the courtyard, calling out to Tycyn in Rohirric. He turned towards her voice and whinnied softly. The girl who was leading him and two other horses gave his halter a slight tug.

She reached her horse and threw her arms around his neck, burying her face in his soft brown coat. The tears trickled from her clouded eyes, dripping down Tycyn's shoulder. She did not want to let him go. Her head and heart felt as though they would explode with despair and worry and relief and joy. No job mattered more than the safety of her stallion.

"I presume he belongs to you then," the girl said, her eyes smiling behind her blonde fringe. Etheldreda smiled back, nodding.

"Thank you for rescuing him," she said gratefully. "He's the only thing I've got in all the world. My name's Etheldreda." She held out a still-soapy hand and laughed nervously.

"Sigrid," said the girl, shaking Etheldreda's hand warmly and firmly. "Come on, let's help the rest of these horses!"

As Etheldreda ran for more water, her mind wandered to the cause of the fire. She was sure it was no accident. Who would think of doing such a thing to the inn, to Bęthberry and Aylwen? Perhaps she could ask Sigrid what she thought about the blaze. She allowed herself a slight grin. Maybe, just maybe, she had finally found a human friend she could trust.
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:43 PM   #190
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Sting

Leading the three horses, Sigrid had only walked a few paces in the direction of the inn when the horse whose lead she held abruptly shied and half-reared, lifting Sigrid's slight figure completely off her feet. Behind her, the other two horses shied and danced nervously as well. She could hear Kajsa, the dog, bark and growl in the attempt to keep the horses under control. When her feet touched down again, Sigrid looked back at the inn just in time to see the stable's roof collapse under a cloud of black smoke. Orange sparks billowed skyward followed by tongues of bright flame. She winced as the sound of screaming horses struck her ears, the terrified voices of the animals trapped inside.

The bay reared again. This time, Sigrid loosened her grip on the rope and let it feed through her fingers. When the bay stallion came down again, she turned him away from the inn and whistled to the dog. What she was doing was not going to work. She was going to have to blindfold the horses and try to put a lead rope of some kind on the other two, not just the bay.

Still holding the rope in one hand, she bent down and opened her bundle of clothing, taking out two shawls and a long apron. Having retied the bundle, she left it and the garments she had taken out of it on the ground and turned her attention to the lead rope. It was long, much longer than she really needed for a single horse. With a little ingenuity, she could fashion it into a tether with which she could lead all three horses. She should have done that in the first place, she knew, but it was better to have the idea late than not at all.

Speaking soothingly again to the frightened horses, she drew the rope out between her fingers until about five feet existed between her hand and the lead horse. She tied an overhand knot in the rope, then, approaching the small gray, slid the end of the rope through the hardware of the mare's halter. Pulling the rope through until the knot touched the hardware, she tied a second knot to hold the rope in place. She secured the third horse in the same fashion, tying the end of the rope with a solid knot she had learned from her father. She didn't know what the knot was called, but was certain it would not come undone. Still speaking softly to the three horses and gently patting their necks, she went back to the lead horse and tied one of the shawls over his eyes. Then, in turn, she tied the other shawl and the apron over the eyes of the remaining two. With their blindfolds in place, the horses seemed calmer, but their ears twitched nervously at the tortured sounds of the horses trapped and dying in the stable ahead.

Picking up her bundle of clothes, Sigrid hesitated and glanced back in the direction of a large liveoak tree she had passed a few minutes earlier by the side of the road. Her temptation was to lead the horses over there to wait in safety until the fire at the inn was under control, but decided against it. She did not want her arrival at the inn for the first time to be tainted by an accusation of horse-thieving. Reluctantly, she turned and made her way to the inn yard. The heat was intense and people still ran to and fro heaving water on the fire, trying to subdue the blaze, their faces grim and streaked in soot.

Sigrid whistled Kajsa to heel, then led the horses to a quiet corner of the yard as far as she could get from the burning stable. The bay whinnied loudly and shook his head. The shawl Sigrid had tied around his eyes came loose and fell to the ground. Sigrid stooped to pick it up and, as she straightened, saw a dark-haired girl of about her own age running toward her across the yard, crying out in Rohirric. The horse whinnied again, softer this time. Sigrid stepped out of the way as the girl flung herself on to the neck of the bay horse, weeping as though her heart would burst from joy.

Watching, Sigrid instinctively dropped a hand toward Kajsa, and smiled as the dog's cold little nose touched her palm. She understood what emotions the dark-haired girl was experiencing. Animals had a way of getting under her skin, sometimes more than people. To lose one that was loved the way this girl loved her horse.... well, she didn't want to think about it. People here had lost horses.

"I presume he belongs to you, then," Sigrid said softly to the girl.

"Thank you for rescuing him," the girl said gratefully. "He's the only thing I've got in all the world. My name's Etheldreda." Laughing nervously, the girl held out a soapy hand to Sigrid.

"Sigrid," answered Sigrid, smiling warmly and shaking the girl's hand. "Come on, let's help the rest of these horses!" she added, as a pair of loose horses wandered over to join the three in Sigrid's charge.

Etheldreda nodded and ran off for more water. Sigrid watched her go, smiling at the girl's back. She hoped she could become friends with this girl. The soap on her hands said that she was probably not just a guest at the inn and most likely worked somewhere in the neighborhood, if not at the inn. Sigrid hoped that was so. She would like very much to have a friend her own age, especially one who would not be leaving again immediately.

As Etheldreda disappeared into the crowd that filled the courtyard around the well, Sigrid looked around at her surroundings. It seemed such a busy place, so many people and horses, so many different accents in the sea of voices. Surely there would be room for one more.
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Old 11-01-2003, 03:37 PM   #191
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Sting

Aldor pushed and shoved his way through the crowd to the end of the stable that he hoped Byrn had escaped from. Every so often he was passed a bucket of water from behind and he pushed it onward to the poeple in front of him. Then an empty one would come from the front and he would shove it aimlessly behind him. Everyone was yelling, either to each other, to the horses, or just out of shock and adrenaline. Aldor tied a scarf around his head, following the example of some around him. He could see the faces of everyone that surrounded him, their eyes were wide and most were covered in soot and sweat. Some faces were hot and red, others were pale with grief and Aldor wondered for a brief moment what his own face looked like.

Aldor then broke through the front line, not many people went any further for the heat was terrible. Aldor was handed another bucket of water, but heh didn't throw over the fire just yet. He ran down the front of the line searching desparately for the right stall. In his panic he couldn't find it he ran up and down twice until he came to what he rocgnised as the right stall. It was shut.

"Please Byrn," He muttered to himself, "Please have escaped, just say the door shut behind you as you fled. You can be as much of a nuisance as you want when we get back home and you can stamp and kick and bite all you want, just don't be in there." Aldor ran to the door. The top bolt was undone and hope flashed through his heart, but it was soon to be extinguished when he saw the bottom bolt still bolted firm.

Aldor kicked aside the bolt and put his hand on the door to open it but it burnt and sizzled. He would not be put off by a hot door. He grabbed his thick leather glove that was tied to his belt and used that to open the door, he almost immediately wished he hadn't.

"Byrn!" he yelled at the trapped form on the floor. Even though Aldor's voice was muffled by the scarf, the horse screamed in response and struggled to get up but he was stuck firm underneath a heavy beam. His mane was ablaze and his fur was turned to cinders. Aldor's own skin felt as though it was bubbling and his eyes felt like they should melt at any moment. He remembered the bucket of water he still had in his hands and poured it over his horse's head. Byrn looked up at him on last time with tortured eyes and his head fell to the floor, his glassy eyes reflecting the flames and smoke on the ceiling.

"Get out of there!" Aldor heard faintly over the roar of the fire and he turned away from the devastating sight and stumbled out of the stable. He made it back to the safety of the crowds just as the roof fell in. There was a collective gasp and everyone drew back as fumes, smoke and unbearable heat was pushed outwards.

Aldor pushed his bucket into waiting hands and pushed his way back through the crowd.

"Your hair!" he heard someone yell and he felt that same someone hitting the back of his head, relieving some of the heat but his face was still burning. He turned to face that someone but they had moved on already. Buckets were still being passed back and forth as Aldor broke out of the throng of people and collapsed on the ground.

He ripped the scarf from his face and threw it away from himself. Tears carved their paths in his blackened face as he crawled away from the commotion. He was at a loss for what to do in an unfamiliar place, he didn't frequent the streets of Edoras much and desired something that he knew. Findur! He would find Findur. And he hoped he could be recognised with his blistering face.
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Old 11-02-2003, 01:14 PM   #192
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Sting

A trembling voice rang in Linnea’s ears. She had awakened from what she thought, and imagined, was a bad dream. As she jumped down from the bed, she noticed her father, who was currently still asleep. It was awkward how he made such funny faces when he slept. His red thin lips were curled together, just like a circle. And when he breathed outwards, you could hear the sound of whistling. It had never been his intention to do this, while sleeping; it was just something he did automatically. Linnea advanced over the floor, making her way to the end of his bed.

As always, his toes peeped out and up from the blanket. And every time snorting, he made a wave with them. The little girl laughed, but took heed; her father was after all sleeping. She knew how cranky he would get if he didn’t get his ’beauty-sleep’, as her father called it.

Linnea shook her head as she muttered something about how impossible her father was. Would he ever wake up? She felt her impatience grow as the white figure of hers moved towards the window, where the screaming voices had come from.

She watched how the red sun climbed over the hills, and lit up Rohan with its' golden light. The girl looked downwards, where her eyes wandered towards the stable, a small building with a dark roof. A mixture of colors; red, yellow and orange seized her, as she at once understood that the stable was on fire. “Fire in the stable!” she heard a woman call. Linnea repeated this sentence to herself, meanwhile trying to get her father to wake up. He snorted as he waved with his toes again. “Never mind,” she muttered, now being irritated.

The girl remembered how her father had led their horses into the stable, the previous day. Her horse. She took a hold of herself, thinking that the horses would be okay. As far as she was concerned; people had already gathered around the stable, trying to put out the fire by having buckets filled with water thrown at the flames.

The girl grabbed a pair of hand made leather shoes before she opened the door, and slipped it quietly shut behind her. She tried to make as little noise as possible, hoping her father wouldn’t wake up.

Linnea tripped on in the long hall, wearing only the shoes and her thin white night-gown. She turned her head in every direction, looking for the staircase. Linnea froze as she heard a door slam shut. If her father noticed her, sneaking around at an Inn all by herself, he would never take her on Horse riding to her Uncle, ever again. Her Uncle Garth lived on the western border of Rohan, and Linnea had always enjoyed being his favourite niece. The girl turned, expecting to see the angry expression in her father’s face. What am I to say? she thought as she hesitated.

Nothing could be done; if she was caught, it wouldn't exactly be a pleasant moment, and her father would be cranky all day, even though none had actually disturbed him in his sleep.

[ November 02, 2003: Message edited by: Writer of The Mark ]
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Old 11-04-2003, 12:43 PM   #193
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OOC: Writers of The Mark, please welcome the following Shirlings into the list of Game Players for Rohan:

Tinuviel of Denton 7130
Elora 7611
Imladris 8304

I hope to see you joining us here at The White Horse while we wait for some new games here.

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Old 11-04-2003, 01:55 PM   #194
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Sting

Once Etheldreda had disappeared into the crowd, Sigrid found herself again at loose ends. The fire in the stable still raged despite the better efforts of the many who worked at dousing the flames with the line of water buckets being handed down from the well. At least, the horses had stopped screaming, but the smell of singed hair and burning flesh now filled the air. She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye as she watched a man rush from the very mouth of the flames, his hair on fire. His face was a soot-streaked mask of grief. Someone from the line of bucket handlers stepped forward and beat the fire from the man's head, but he pushed his way onward into the crowd. Sigrid watched him as he ripped the scarf from his face and vanished into the throng of people.

Turning, she looked down at Kajsa, her dog. "I should make myself useful," she said softly. "Not just stand here like some village's missing idiot. You, stay." She pointed to a spot on the ground near the fence that seemed to be both out of the way of traffic and of danger. The black and white border collie whined softly, but lay down, resting her nose on her front paws.

Sigrid looked back in the direction of the fire. Not knowing what else to do, she tied the horses she had collected to the fence and placed her small bundle of belongings under the protection of the dog. Then, she turned and trotted in the direction of the bucket handlers. Pushing her way into the line, she found herself between two young men, both grim-faced and smelling of smoke. The one on her left had light hair and looked to her like a farm boy, a big strapping fellow, with bulging forearms and broad pleasant features. The one on her right had longer, dark hair and a slimmer, more wiry build. As he kept his face turned in the direction of the blaze, she was unable to get a good look at his features.

"'Ere ya go, sweet'eart," said the blond one behind her, passing her a full bucket. She handed it on the dark-haired man in front who took it without a word. "Coming back," the dark one said a moment later, passing back an empty bucket. She had no sooner let go of it into the hands of the blond than he handed her a full bucket in its place. In no time she fell into a rhythm, handing the full buckets forward, the empty ones back, all to the ongoing chant of the two young men: "'ere ya go", "coming back." She quickly lost count as the buckets became a blur. She was a strong girl, but soon her back and arms felt like so much deadwood. Nonetheless, she continued dutifully handing the full and empty buckets back and forth. "'Ere ya go." "Coming back." She had a feeling she would be hearing that chant in her sleep.

She wished they could slow down just a little bit, but the fire seemed to be growing hotter. People had begun to shout that they should start a second bucket line to wet the roof of the inn's main building so that the fire wouldn't spread there next. Nervously, she glanced over her shoulder toward the inn itself. So far, it seemed safe, but she could see the cause for concern. A breeze had picked up and sparks were now swirling freely around the courtyard. As she watched, a stray spark ignited a pocket of dry grass in the courtyard. A man quickly stamped it out, but Sigrid felt a chill race down her spine in spite of the heat. All it would take would be a single stroke of really bad luck and the whole place could go up in flames.

"Coming back," came the steady voice in front of her, but she barely heard it. She was looking anxiously in the direction of Kajsa, hoping that the dog was still safe and out of the way.

"Coming back!" the voice repeated. This time, she felt the empty bucket pressed into her side. Instinctively, she grabbed it, but when she looked up, she saw the dark-haired young man glowering at her with a pair of very blue eyes.

"Sorry," she murmured and passed the empty bucket back to the blond, who grinned as he took it from her hands and replaced it with a full one.
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Old 11-06-2003, 06:06 PM   #195
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Sting

Faran swaggered easily down the dirt road with puffs of golden dust popping from underneath his sandaled feet. A crude hammer swayed from his leather belt, occasionally knocking him upon the thigh, while a soft leather pouch full of iron nails tinkled merrily beside it. His blonde hair was tangled and fell in a snarls to his shoulders, but his pale blue eyes smiled pleasantly as he looked eagerly about him, admiring the fields and pastures of Rohan. Upon his shoulders a cat crouched, his gold fur glittering in the sun. A white diamond of fur glimmered brightly upon his swarthy chest, and his grassy eyes, shot with gold, were narrowed in extreme contentment. Reaching up and stroking the cat’s back, which arched with pleasure, Faran said in a smooth voice, “How’s the view up there, Goldwine?”

Purring in reply, Goldwine softly nipped the young man’s ear. “Look, do you see that?” Faran asked. Billows of black smoke rose tumultuously into the blue sky, bright red flames licked hungrily at the wood of some building. Sprinting forward, he saw that there was another building, The White Horse Inn nearby, and, concluding from the presence of terrified horses, Faran concluded that the stable was the unfortunate receiver of the bad luck.

Goldwine, leaping from the shoulders of his master with a hiss that showed his yellowed fangs (one of which were missing), he quickly darted away into the underbrush. “Oh, you coward,” Faran called back as he went towards the line of people carrying buckets of water that were dumped onto the flaming building. “What can I do to help?” he asked a man who was busy filling the buckets with water and handing the then sloshing vessels to the men and women in the line.

“Find a place somewhere,” the man grunted, jerking a thumb. Raising his eyebrows, Faran, thinking that any simpleton would have been able to figure that out without having to ask, slipped between two people and began to pass the bucket. He shortly began to wonder if the fire would ever be doused.

[ 8:27 PM December 01, 2003: Message edited by: Imladris ]
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Old 11-06-2003, 06:19 PM   #196
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Sting

"Sorry," the blond girl murmured, taking the empty bucket from Ragnar and handing it on to his cousin behind her.

He realized as she turned away that he probably should not have glared at her the way he did, but she was holding things up. When one person slacked in a situation like a bucket line, it could hold up the entire works. You either had to take part and keep up or get out of the way. He and Olav had built up a good rhythm, handing the buckets back and forth and, for a while, she had kept up pretty well. He turned and took the full bucket from her hands.

Passing it on the man ahead of him, Ragnar looked forward into the smoke. Anybody could see that the stable was a lost cause. They should just let it burn and concentrate instead on keeping the fire from spreading to the rest of the inn’s grounds. Whoever it was back there yelling about starting a second bucket line had the right idea.

He took an empty bucket from the hands of the man in front of him and handed it back to the girl. Then, shaking his head, he stepped out of the line and pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket, which he used to wipe the sweat and soot from his face. He could see the stable master from where he stood. The man had tried valiantly to save what horses he could, but now just stood there with his face in his hands.

“Poor guy,” Ragnar said to himself. “Wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.” Nonetheless, he was grateful that he had left his own horse well away from the inn’s grounds.

He walked a short distance away and, finding a spot against the fence, leaned back and watched the chaos. He could see Olav’s blond head and broad shoulders as his cousin worked away still on the bucket line. He knew that he should be helping as well, but, being the practical sort, he saw no point in wasting his strength on a lost cause. Idly, he watched the loose sparks swirling on the hot breeze in the courtyard. Those sparks were the truly dangerous part now. Turning his gaze in the direction of the inn’s roof, he saw precisely the sight he had been dreading. A gust of wind had carried some of the sparks upward over the inn’s main building. The roof had begun to smoke.

“Ah, confound it...” he muttered under his breath and crammed his handkerchief back into his pocket. He pushed himself away from the fence and began to sprint in the direction of the inn.

“Olav!” he shouted over his shoulder. “Olav - the roof!”

He watched just long enough to see Olav’s soot-streaked face turn in his direction, then turned his full attention to the problem of keeping the inn’s roof from catching fire. Looking ahead, he saw that a large tree grew just adjacent to the inn. He could easily reach the roof by way of the tree, but getting water buckets up there was another matter. Nonetheless, as far as he could see, it was the only way. Reaching the tree, he grasped the rough bark of the lowest limb and pulled himself up.

“Here,” said a voice behind him. “Take this. You can haul the buckets up with it.”

Ragnar turned and saw that a man, a stranger to him, had followed him to the tree and was offering him a rope. Ragnar grinned and, taking the rope, slung it over his shoulder. It tickled him to be handed up a rope by one of the good townspeople. He’d always seen himself as more the type to be dangling from one. He and Olav would have a good laugh about that later. In the meantime, he had work to do. He went back to climbing and gained the roof in no time. Stepping out on to the inn’s roof, he found it in much better shape than he had feared, smoking mightily, but only in a few places. He went to the edge of the roof and dropped the end of the rope down.

By then, Olav had joined the man who had provided the rope. He held a full bucket of water in each hand. The blond girl from the bucket line stood behind him with a third. The stranger took the end of the rope and tied it to the handle of one of Olav’s buckets. When the knot was secure, he gave the rope a tug. Ragnar hauled it up and dumped its contents on smokiest spot. They repeated the procedure over and over again. Each time an empty bucket went down, the Olav or the girl ran to the well to refill it. Finally, when the roof was thoroughly doused and no longer smoking, Ragnar tossed the rope down.

Exhausted, he sat down on the edge of the roof, letting his feet dangle over the side. From his vantage point on the roof, he could see that the bucket line over by the stable had finally begun to contain the fire.

[ 11:52 AM December 01, 2003: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:32 PM   #197
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The heat of the flames was almost enough to blister her skin and singe her hair. Try as she might to enter the small lean-to at the rear of the stable, Ruthven could not, driven back as she was by the flames, the heat, the smoke and betrayed by her own aged body which refused to move as fast as she had wanted it to.

She looked with fearful apprehension as the flames spread through the stable, the screams of terrified animals mixing with the calls and cries of the humans as they attempted to contain the fire.

She watched the water brigade with some relief as they dowsed the Horse's roof with water to cool it down, but every timber from the stable that fell shook her frame. Fear mixed with hopeless despair shadowed her face.

A small hand placed itself in hers.

"What's wrong, lady? Why are you worried?" asked a young girl in a billowing nightgown.

Ruthven looked down at the earnest face, so smooth and soft and then at the small hand, so plump and tender in hers.

"Why, you must be new here. I don't know you," the old junk dealer replied.

"I'm Linnea. I'm visiting here with my dad. We're going to my uncle's so I can ride the horses again."

Ruthven nodded, wondering how many of the horses were freed from the fire.

"Don't be worried about the horses. I saw the people helping them."

Ruthven half smiled but there was no joy in her face. "It's not the horses I am worried about. It's my little friend. I couldn't find him in his room. I'm worried he chose to climb around the stable. I'm worried he is trapped inside."

Linnea squeezed the old woman's hand. "What's his name?" she asked.

"Madi," whispered Ruthven. "Madi Codex."
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Old 11-07-2003, 11:18 AM   #198
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Sting

Luckily, she had been wrong this time; it wasn't after all her father. She had run down the staircases, in a hurry, in hope to reach the stable before it would have been up in flames. She hadn't been taking heed to all those who looked at her, suspecting that she was doing something she originally wasn’t supposed to do, or allowed.

As she found the door, just there with the reception she looked over her shoulder, assuring herself one last time; there was no one to stop her. Taking the door handle, shaking with excitement, she opened it and slid out. A breeze swirled around her, making the leaves fall and fly upon the waves in the air. She shivered as she realized the coolness in the air, but she didn't complain. Linnea approached cautiously. She closed her eyes tightly shut, as the heat increased. A woman, marked by the years, stood in front of Linnea. The girl saw her opportunity at once. She went over to the woman, who seemed both worried and confused. Linnea slid her hand, smoothly into the woman's, making it seem natural. Hopefully, no one would stare at Linnea now, wondering what a so young girl at her age, would be doing out here alone.

Linnea looked innocently at the woman, Ruthven, she was named. The woman stared down at the girl, who had just moments before taken Ruthven's hand.

The five years old little girl saw the expression in Ruthven's face, and decided to ask her, why she looked so troubled: "What's wrong, lady? Why are you worried?" The sound from Linnea's voice disappeared into the ocean of voices, coming from the people who were trying to turn out the fire. Nevertheless, Ruthven heard Linnea's question, and answered respectfully.

"You must be new here. I don't know you," Ruthven said, and made Linnea introduce herself.

"I'm Linnea," she said and pointed with the other hand at herself. She counted her fingers, showing the woman how old she was. "5," Linnea whispered. "I'm visiting here with my father. We're going to my uncle's so I can ride the horses again," she continued, being slightly pleased and feeling some sort of pride sneaking up on her. Linnea grew red, and turned towards the stable again. There they stood, not knowing each other, but still, hand in hand. She heard herself saying, in a thin voice when thinking about this, that the horses would be okay. "I saw the people helping them," she said, giving a faint smile.

The woman didn't seem less worried by this statement from the little girl. Linnea halted, what was it she didn't understand? She was okay with this, they would manage to take out the fire anyway. This was simply just an adventure for the young girl, who grinned, still not understanding the woman's issue. Linnea continued staring at the brave people, having the flames so close, but still standing there, doing everything in their power to prevent the fire spreading.

"It's not the horses I am worried about. It's my little friend. I couldn't find him in his room. I'm worried he chose to climb around the stable. I'm worried he is trapped inside," Ruthven assured Linnea, keeping a straight face, showing the seriousness in this whole affair. The girl couldn't understand this either. Her little friend? she asked herself and also the woman, standing next to her.

"His name is Madi Codex," Ruthven answered silently. Linnea took an extra firm grip of Ruthven's hand, her father was here.

[ November 10, 2003: Message edited by: Writer of The Mark ]
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Old 11-08-2003, 04:36 PM   #199
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Boots

The Miller's Wife's Tale

"Ah ha, I've got you now!"

Lathyn's voice rang out as she jumped over Bethberry's spot but she landed awkwardly and fell in a heaping, puffing and shuffling and humphing.

"We made the snail too small," she proclaimed.

"Did we now," replied the older woman. "Should we make a new snail for a better game then?"

"Yes, yes. It's impossible to jump on such small shells."

"As you wish, my lady Princess," intoned Bethberry solemnly. Lathyn giggled.

"Do my bidding, Lady-in-waiting," Lathyn announced, putting on her best voice of regal command.

Bethberry curtsied and, with the tree branch, erased the too-small outline. This time, she took two giant steps for each 'shell' segment as she drew the spiral outline of the snail on the soft, sandy ground. Each 'shell' of the hopscotch game was now large enough for her to sit in.

"Will this do, your Highness?" she asked.

"It shall," Lathyn decided. "Proceed."

Jumping on her right foot, Bethberry hopped into each shell until she reached the centre of the snail. Then, jumping in little circular motions, she tried to turn herself around and begin the return journey to the outside of the snail, this time on her left foot, but switching feet muddled her balance. She made it to two shells before she fell.

"You forfeit your space! My turn, my turn!" Lathyn announced, with far less regal aplomb than her previous announcements.

The young girl was much more proficient than the older Innkeeper and soon had three spaces in the spiral reserved as her own before she fell and the game returned to Bethberry.

This time Bethberry did not falter despite having to jump over the two conjoined spaces which Lathyn had claimed. She had finally won a space of her own and chose the one next to the centre.

"There! That one's mine, fair and square," she cried, and started on her return, hopping now one her left foot.

"I can't see what fun you find in childish games," intoned a male voice. Deol had come up behind the two unannounced and his sudden words made Bethberry turn, awkwardly on one foot, and she fell again.

"Tut! I pronounce you Spoil Sport and Sneaky Grouch!" Bethberry decried, with as much dignity as she could muster to recover from her chagrined spill. "Speak more respectfully in front of the Princess."

"Princess Schmincess," he retorted. "There's so much work to do and you spend time getting nothing done."

"There'll be work enough when the babe is here, Deol. No need to deny Lathyn some fun."

"All she has is fun. She's just a silly child still," he unkindly retorted.

"And you're a miserable stinker," Lathyn cried, "always moping around me like you didn't like me."

"It's not that," Deol impatiently replid. But Lathyn's feelings had already been hurt. She ran at Deol and pushed him over.

"There! That's where you belong in front of me! On your bottom, knave."

Deol breathed a heavy sigh before Bethberry interposed. "Come, Lathyn. Let the knave get on with his duties while we attend to Her Majesty your mother."

Deol shook his head as the two walked haughtily off, whispering to themselves and dismissing him with nary a glance back.

"Will there really be so much work once the baby has come, Miss Bethberry?"

"Yes, for a time. Lots more laundry and your mother will never some help at first while she recovers. And the baby will require attention and care."

"Is is scary to have a baby, Bethberry?"

"Yes and no, Lathyn. There is a physical danger, as much as any man's work can endanger him, for it takes endurance and strength, courage and patience. Both bairn and mother are at risk at the birth and for some time after. And, as well, there are many dark worries and sombre fears that can take hold. Yet there is also great awe and wonder at the marvel of new life, for this is neither art nor craft but the only true creation."

Bethberry's more philosophic musings were more than Lathyn was interested in, however. The girl stuck resolutely to more direct issues.

"Have you ever had a child? People around here sometimes wonder about you. Why you are here and where you came from."

"Me? Simple and plain me arouses their curiousity?" Bethberry chuckled and Lathyn looked perturbed at the laughter. "No, my lass, I have not."

"Why not?"

"My, you are in a questioning mood today, Lathyn." The Innkeeper pondered for a few minutes as they walked the short hill towards the house. "I think perhaps Middle-earth has greater need of me these days than I could give if I had a wee one."

With that remark, the two entered the stone house, only to be brought to attention by Maedlyn's call.

"Lathyn? Bethberry? Have you returned? I think it's time," the Miller's wife called.

"You have pains? How close?" Bethberry inquired, as both came quickly to the woman's side.

Maedlyn shook her head. "No pains, no contractions. But my water brought. Yet all is still." The woman was calm, in control of herself, yet worry and concern showed clearly in her eyes.

"I know not what to do in this case. Lairwyn is needed now. Lathyn, run quickly back to Deol. Tell him that Bethberry bids him make haste, double-time, to bring the midwife from Edoras. He must stop what he is doing immediately and get her. Tell him to tell Lairwyn that the water has broken. This is important; he must tell her this. She will understand."

Lathyn looked scared, rooted to the spot. "What's happening? Is it dangerous? What's wrong?"

Maedlyn spoke kindly, lovingly to the girl, and took her hand in hers. "Nothing is wrong, my daughter. It is time, that is all, and we are unprepared, for the bairn is early." She smiled bravely at Lathyn, not wanting her concern to show.

Bethberry spoke up. "Your mother needs your help now, Lathyn. Be quick about it; it is not the time to play hedgehog, but fox. Send Deol off and tell him not to linger talking with your father. Then return to us, for we can ease your mother's labour with our words and attention."

Lathyn hung back a moment and then turned and ran, perhaps not as swiftly as a fox but fast enough.

[ November 09, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 11-12-2003, 03:39 PM   #200
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Sting

"Linnea?"

Her father came running towards Linnea and Ruthven, who were still standing, looking at the fire and how the flames developed greatly. The girl let go of Ruthven's hand, eyeing her father's expression, which implied that he was very angry.

"Where have you been, girl?" he said being furious with her. Was it only out of worry? Linnea didn't know. Ruthven, still being quiet, gazed at Linnea's father. "I am sorry for my daughter's behaviour," he continued, having quite another tone. "Up now, your room!" the girl?s father said angrily. Linnea saw the seriousness in the affair and started her way back. Ruthven gave a faint smile, telling the father that his daughter had done nothing wrong. "I was worried," Linnea heard her father excuse himself, in front of Ruthven. She shook her head, eyeing her father out of the corner of her eyes, asking to help with the buckets.

She sprang towards the Inn, not wanting to let her father down again. "Always," she muttered, being slightly disappointed that she couldn't be there when the flames would be under control. She grew angry with this thought, but slid inside the door, like she had just slid out of it half an hour before.

There were more people inside now than there had been earlier. Linnea passed the reception desk, which, higher than she was tall, hid what lay beyond it. She grinned as she thought about her father's worst mistake: letting his daughter wander to her room, alone. Why does he need to be the hero, when she discovered the fire first? It was unfair and totally out of character, from her father's side of course. She climbed the last stairs, still being angry, not wanting to forgive her father. "If that's the way he wants it, then he sure shall have it," she said with determination, pondering about her sweet revenge, which she would have one day.

Linnea halted as she heard someone coming, only around the corner. She stepped backwards, waiting for the person to appear right in front of her. She took a breath, and waited.

Linnea stood, still waiting. No one appeared! Had she imagined the foot steps? She shivered as she felt a breeze take her. Inside? Windy? The little girl opened her eyes wide, wondering where this cold air came from. She forgot all about the footsteps and went looking for the source instead. She turned on the corner, following the red carpet, which was placed in the hallway. Linnea stopped to look at one of the pictures, hanging on the wall. It seemed to be very old, and very valuable. She slid her finger on the golden frame. The picture was a portrait of a man, holding a sword.

"He looks brave, doesn't he?"

Linnea jumped backwards, noticing a boy, sitting in the corner by a window. The girl nodded in agreement, turning the other way to leave him. "You know," the boy said, taking a pause as he seemed to concentrate, while looking out of the window. "There's a fire out there, in the stable."

"I know," Linnea replied proudly. At first she wanted to tell this boy everything she knew, and that she had been out there, where the flames were. But then she remembered, she didn't know this boy. In fact, she had never seen him before.

The boy introduced himself, showing his teeth. Two of them seemed, strangely but true, to look like tusks, both in his bottom jaw. Linnea swallowed, still looking at him, and then she paced over to the window herself and settled in the chair ahead of the boy. His big round eyes followed her, as she moved, but she ignored them and stared out of the window.

Madi, she thought, while introducing herself. She thought it awkward, that this boy's name was oddly familiar.

[ November 13, 2003: Message edited by: Writer of The Mark ]
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