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Old 05-21-2015, 03:43 PM   #1
piosenniel
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Shield Hard Winters RPG

Short general introduction to the Scarburg Mead Hall

Scarburg Mead Hall had had a stormy beginning. By king Eomer’s word, Eodwine was made Eorl of Middle Emnet to bring it under king’s peace. This was done because it was known in Edoras that some of the stronger and wealthier local landholders in Middle Emnet sought more to add to their own wealth than to rule well, show loyalty to the king, or work for the common good.

Finding only smoking ruins at Scarburg Hall, the folk who joined Eodwine began the hard task of rebuilding the old Hall and establishing the new Eorldom. Sadly, Eorl Eodwine took ill before he had time to see either task finished, and was deemed beyond healing.

Believing his loyal servant to be dying, king Eomer chose as new eorl for Scarburg, Athanar, a renowned hero of the War, battle tested chieftain, a man strong enough of fiber to make firm the King's rule. Although given to quick wrath, he was reliable, trustworthy, stern, and strong.

Eorl Athanar’s efforts at bringing the Mead Hall under his rule were doomed to failure from the very beginning, for the folk of Scarburg were loyal to Eodwine's memory and light-handed rule, and chafed under the more stern authority of Athanar. They had no wish to be ruled by the new eorl. Amid much mayhem, with great resolve Eorl Athanar did finish the mead hall, and by a set of bold moves brought the local landholders under the king’s rule – at least for the time being.

Then, unforeseen by all, like one risen from the dead, Eodwine came back.


Jumping to the present Mead Hall

Year 16 of the Fourth Age saw the finishing of the Mead Hall. Not all wounds were healed inside the Mead Hall but with Saeryn giving birth to twins even those ills seemed to be set aside by most people for the time being. The two eorls seemed to get along well enough and seemed content with a sharing of responsibilities. Eodwine still healing, and a father of the newborns, Athanar oversaw the daily life of the Mead Hall – but was hearing the counsel of Eodwine. Thus, most of those loyal to Eodwine came to trust Athanar a little more.

The summer was far busier than anyone could have expected. With king Elessar’s trip to lake Evendim, all the lands under his rule received many visitors journeying where they had never dared to go before. The Scarburgers built a two-story shed for visitors who were happy with a more modest bedding.

The local landholders, eager to line their pockets, set aside their dislike of the new masters in Scarburg.

As the spring of year 17 of the Fourth Age carried with it troublesome news. There were more raids of Easterling tribesmen and groups of orcs from Wold, East Emnet and North Marches.

King Eomer called a muster of eorlingas from the northern and north-eastern parts of the Mark. He called upon Athanar to be chieftains over all of the eorlingas from the Middle Emnet. He took with him most of his men and some of eorl Eodwine’s as well. Athanar's sons, Wulfric and Wilheard, were mustered alongside most of the local landholders and their sons.

Having not fully recovered from his illness, Eorl Eodwine was charged with sole rule of the Mead Hall once again – with only a handful of eorlings left to defend it.

A not so small group of easterling fugitives from the wars in the east, stumbled upon the Mead Hall. By lucky chance, Cnebba and his friends were puttering about amid the outskirts of the Scar, and spied the undisciplined rabble before they knew they had been seen, and well before the easterlings realized what kind of easy booty lay before them.

Cnebba brought the news to the Eorl, who mustered the few eorlings in his charge. They took their places in defense, and by means of a sudden rain of arrows upon the enemy, made it seem as if there were more of them than there were.

However, the easterlings' sudden losses did not lessen their desperate greed to take this prize and what loot it might have to offer. They laid siege. A sense of dread set in among the folk of Scarburg, for they were badly outnumbered.

Rowenna came to Eodwine and asked leave to gather any boys, girls, and women who were willing to be given quick and basic training in banditry, and do what damage they could. Eodwine thought the request odd, but given their dire straits, saw no reason to say her nay.

Between night raids, baiting, and other means, Rowenna and her makeshift gang of bandits picked off one, two, or three easterlings at a time. It was a mere few days before the easterlings were demoralized, according to the reports from Rowenna's well placed spies, and in the face of an eorling sally at dawn, the easterlings broke camp and fled, or sued for mercy.

Knowing that the Mead Hall could not feed and house so many captives, Eodwine charged them to leave the Middle Emnet, going he cared not where, and that any found within a day's walk on the morrow, would be killed on the spot. Whether Eodwine meant his threat or not, became a matter of debate among the folk of the Mead Hall, for he would not say.

The following day, search parties were sent out, and only one easterling was found within a day's march; this one was found sitting cross-legged, not two stone's throws from the Mead Hall beyond the Scar. His weapons were laid down and he rose, his hands held above his head. In broken Westernesse he said that the unmercy of the mead hall, whether death or imprisonment, was better than any other fate that awaited him elsewhere. Eodwine took pity on him against the heated objections of Rowenna. This one proved his worth over the following months and years. His name was Jian.

The riders of the Riddermark drove the scattered enemies away from the eastern parts of the Mark, but before they could return more serious news was brought to Edoras. King Elessar had come back from the north and was mustering an army to ride north-east, to Rhûn, to defeat the source of the raiders that festered the eastern borderlands of Gondor, of which the raiders to the Mark were only a small part.

Lord Athanar and his eorlings were mustered with the larger call to arms and rode beside king Eomer to the east led by the high king Elessar his Gondorian army late in year 17.

In year 18 of the Fourth Age the spring came late and the northern parts of the Mark missed the first sowing. Most of the men were waging a war in the east under the banners of king Elessar of Gondor. It was clear there wouldn’t be a good harvest this year. Many thought these were ill omens.

The eorlingas came back from the war in the east in early autumn. Their return brought hope, and there was a night of singing and dancing to celebrate the victory. The dead, including Athanar's oldest son, Wulfric, who was cut down in the closing battle, were honored and buried with song.

Eorl Athanar was awarded for his bravery and leadership in the war in the East with a chieftainship on the frontier of the Rhun, answerable directly to the Prince of Ithilien - a prestigious post indeed. Thus was ended the unhappy double leadership in Scarburg since seeing that Eorl Eodwine was whole enough to claim back his seat in Scarburg.

But the worst was to come. The men came back just in time to help with the second harvest, but just after two days winter came. It was October.

Biting cold settled in upon the Mark for many days. The ground froze. The crops died in the fields. Athanar deemed it wise to take leave, with his folk, so there would be fewer mouths to feed in Scarburg. He took with him a large party back to Edoras, vowing to ask king Eomer for any goods that could be spared. He left a few eorlings behind to help Eodwine, for their number at the Mead Hall had become thin indeed.

Then came snow. Athanar and his folk escaped the first blizzard in thenick of time. Wind swept fields, forest, and roads were covered. When sunlight finally glared over the vast white, the drifts were man-high. The Mead Hall was cut off from the rest of the Mark, even the nearest landholders..

The snowbanks hardened and were very hard to dig through. New snowstorms added more layers of snow. Walking on the face of the desert of snow was treacherous, for one never knew where one might fall through and land a few feet below. The folk dug narrow, high walled paths to their store of chopped wood, the meat shed, and the smithy. They were soon low on firewood.

In year 19 of the Fourth Age the winter took even firmer grip of the Mead Hall.

In February they tore down the sheds they had built just two years ago for firewood. They sent a few eorlings to find help during sunny cold days in March. The men made makeshift shoes of cross-cut wood, tied to their boots, so they could walk on the top of the man-and-a-half high snow. The men never returned.

In late March, the Mead Hall began to feel the pangs of starvation: the old and infirm were dying, first one then another a few days later, then another a day more .... until a pall hung over the Mead Hall, and it seemed that death and despair might win the day as well as the night. In April they tore apart the upper story of the guest wing, and used it for firewood, and ate bark from trees boiled in snow.

In May, spring came suddenly. Days and days of balmy sunshine warmed the air and melted the snow quickly.

Five days after the sudden warming of the weather the people of the Mead Hall heard a remarkable sound from far away: something very noisy was coming through the snow and the rising flood waters.

Carts trundling down the muddy road, filled with food, were spotted first by the children, who ran back to the hall screaming in joy. They were saved!

In the lead wagon was Athanar’s son Wilheard.

~*~ writen by littlemanpoet

Last edited by piosenniel; 06-13-2015 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:32 PM   #2
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The snow and mud were mixing into an ugly grey puddle under Bolt's hooves. The bad-tempered mare wasn't particularly enthusiastic about wading through the sloshy remains of the hard winter, and even less enthusiastic about keeping a pace with the slowest carts in the caravan. Wilheard couldn't really blame her. If it had been up to him, they would have galloped all the way from Edoras across the open lands and arrived in Scarburg days ago. He patted Bolt on the neck. ”We'll be there soon. Good girl.”

Wilheard shot an exasperated glance over his shoulder. The carts were rolling through the treacherous ground slower than Wilheard thought possible, and the horsemen accompanying them kept a leisurely pace as well. A couple of them were singing a bawdy song as they rode. They seemed to be quite enjoying themselves, and not in a hurry. ”I'm sorry,” he muttered to Bolt. He had just reminded himself that it was no one else than Wilheard, son of the lord and war hero Athanar, who had set this sluggish pace Bolt was suffering from. He was really not cut out to be a leader, he exasperated even his own horse.

”Hey sir, is it far yet?” a cheerful voice called from behind. ”The ladies would like a rest soon.”
Wilheard rolled his eyes. Ladies. And what ladies they had with them, even a spoiled little Gondorian seamstress for no reason he could fathom. A little belatedly, he realized it was he who had been addressed.
”We're not stopping until we're there,” he shouted back. ”If you looked ahead, you could actually see it.”

There it was, along the scar, the Meadhall from which these land were governed. And where I am supposed to learn my manners, Wilheard thought. How well it worked out the last time. The place was accursed, and there were many memories connected to it, both good and bad, that Wilheard tried to keep from his mind. He was ridiculously lonely, and in the brink of losing it all he knew. He gritted his teeth. Onwards, we have a mission, he told himself. He had once had a brother who had despised weakness in a soldier.

The caravan trudged on through the afternoon. It was becoming hard to tell which one was more unhappy and restless, Bolt or Wilheard. But slowly, Wilheard could make out individual buildings, then horses and people, and finally he rode onto the yard of the Scarburg Meadhall, Bolt splashing a fair amount of mud on a child that foolishly ran towards the approaching caravan. Wilheard cast a furtive glance around himself. The hall looked positively miserable, and so did the people streaming out to greet him. So many faces, both familiar and unfamiliar, all eyes fixed on Wilheard and those that came behind him. This leadership thing was definitely not for Wilheard. Nonetheless, he reined in his horse and raised his voice:

”Westu hal, Eorl Eodwine! We bring to you food and supplies from Edoras.”
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:47 PM   #3
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Scyld

It was with considerable trepidation that Scyld now returned to Scarburg. It had been just over four years since he left. He’d never meant to be gone so long, but one thing had led to another, and before he knew it, the time was just gone. His errand had seemed so urgent at the time. He fingered the letter in his pocket absently. It was a bit worn around the edges, for he had handled if often, wondering what would happen when (or if, he had eventually began to think) he would give it to the Eorl. Linduial, once he had finally found her, had been happy enough to write it for him. She had even offered to come herself, saying it would not be far out of her way the next time she came to Rohan. He had declined; he needed her testimony, but he did not need her to fight his battles for him. He would handle this on his own terms.

He had read the letter, before Linduial sealed it. “Don’t you trust me, even now?” she had asked. And he had mocked her for her trusting nature, to hide the shame he felt – shame which only grew after he read her words. The letter was an even more generous depiction of his nature than he thought he deserved. It did not hide the fact that he had aided in the kidnapping, but it emphasized the small ways he had helped her and his role in her escape.

“Thank you,” he’d said, and meant it.

“It is the least I could do, after how you helped me and after how far you came to find me. Will you stay long?”

He told her no, for though he was loath to begin already the long journey back (it had taken him nearly two months to get there, and truly had he recently told Rowenna that he did not fancy living out of doors), his task was achieved and he had nothing further to gain there in Dol Amroth.

Linduial had protested, saying that she herself intended to return to Rohan at the end of the summer, that he might travel with her, as part of her guard if he wished. He had laughed, less meanly than he once would have but not without scorn. “Perhaps the purses of Gondorian noble ladies run deep, but mine do not: I fear I cannot afford to stay so long without occupation. And you choose a poor man for your guard: a poorer swordsman you are unlikely to meet.”

“I have seen you throw a knife,” retorted Linduial, “and half the point of a guard is to dissuade bandits from attacking in the first place, so that they do not have to be fought. As for work…” she paused, and a light jumped into her eyes. “There is an envoy here, from Harad, recently arrived, seeking a trade treaty. It is a good offer, but we think they may be trying to trick us in some way. You are skilled at finding information out, I think – if you would see if anything might be found out from the sailors that came with the envoy, I would be grateful, and would pay you well for it.” He had tried to protest, but Linduial’s mind was made up and he was swept along by her plan. In the end, after talking to, eavesdropping on, and a couple times sneaking into the rooms of the Haradrim, he had been able to place a tip to Linduial that Dol Amroth stood to profit far less from the treaty than the Haradrim would have them believe, and the terms had been renegotiated.

Thus did Scyld spend the better part of a year in his journey to Dol Amroth and back. In that time, he had thought long on the letter from his brother, and eventually curiosity had overcome his bitterness. Upon his return to Rohan he did not go to Scarburg but followed the directions in Bedric’s letter, thinking to spend perhaps a few days or weeks there before bearing Linduial’s letter to Scarburg.

He’d realized, as he walked the last couple miles to his brother’s house, that he had no idea what he would say. Would they even be recognizable to each other? He asked for directions from a couple men he met along the road, and they pointed him toward a snugly built cottage with a smithy nearby. It was nearing dinner and the smithy seemed quiet, so he walked directly up to the cottage and knocked at the door. A young blonde girl, not even waist high, answered. “Who are you?” she asked, staring up at him with large blue eyes.

“Well,” said Scyld, who had never been comfortable around children, “I think I’m your uncle.”

She frowned at him, clearly not sure whether to believe this outrageous claim. A man came up behind her, and Scyld felt a jolt of recognition. His features had aged, but certainly this was his brother. “Who’s here, Agnes?” he asked.

“He says he’s my uncle,” said the girl – Agnes. She continued to talk but now Bedric’s attention turned sharply to Scyld, a disbelieving look on his face.

“Hello, Bedric,” said Scyld, a bit stiffly. “I got your letter, though it took some time getting to me.”

Then Bedric laughed, a joyful booming noise. “Come in, then! I couldn’t decide if you’d never gotten the letter, or if you just wanted nothing to do with us. Agnes, he most certainly is your uncle – this is your Uncle Scyld.” And then there were introductions all around: to Bedric’s wife and three other children – two older than Agnes and one a babe scarcely walking. They had just been sitting down to dinner and a seventh place was quickly prepared. Much of the meal revolved around the children, helping them with their meals and listening to their chatter, for which Scyld was grateful – a bit of time for him to watch the family without answering any difficult questions. Afterwards came the cleaning up, and just when Scyld thought the time might be coming for more serious conversation, Agnes approached him. “Can you tell a story?” she asked.

“Agnes, honey, I’m sure your uncle is tired from his trip - ” Bedric started to say, but Scyld made the quick decision that dealing with the child was immensely preferable than trying to explain himself.

“That’s alright,” he said. “Storytime, it is.”

With a delighted squeal, Agnes hauled herself up into his lap. Startled, he tried to figure out where to put his arms – having been the youngest of his siblings, he’d never held a child before. He did not notice the twitch of amusement on Bedric’s face. He thought of a story that his father had used to tell him, when he was a child. He began clumsily, but soon the rhythms of the tale began to come back to him. By the end of it, she had fallen asleep in his arms, and his heart was won.

Maybe that’s when his decision was made, that he would stay longer than just a few days – that his family was worth getting to know.

He started trying to find ways to help out during the days. He was worthless as an assistant in the smithy, but his oldest sibling, Aelfred, was a leatherworker, and Scyld found that the work intrigued him. Without formal arrangement, he began spending more of his time there, helping as he could. Learning a trade was an opportunity he’d never had while with Sorn, and he was pleasantly surprised to find how satisfying it was: he could easily lose himself in the tasks of piecing together the leather or detailing an intricate design. Aelfred, serious and quiet, was a patient teacher and seemed to appreciate Scyld’s companionship. They rarely talked except of their work, which suited Scyld as he began to lose his fear of prying and uncomfortable questions.

He continued to stay with Bedric, and it was not long before a glimmer of the easy rapport they had shared as boys began to return. Scyld told him as few details as he could manage about his life with Sorn, and eventually Bedric stopped asking, content to share the present rather than dwell in the past.

Adney, Scyld’s oldest sister, he saw seldom, for she had married a farmer who lived some ways away, but Gytha, the younger of his sisters but still three years his elder, seemed to see and understand him most clearly. He caught her, sometimes, looking at him intently. It made him uncomfortable: not the fact of her attention, but what she might see in him. She never pressed him, but it was she who came to him nearly three years after he had come to them, and said: “I still wonder, sometimes, that you are here with us and not dead, and I would be glad to have you with us until we all grow old and have grandchildren about us. But I sense there is still something you are searching for, some healing you have not yet found. I thought, when you came to us, that it was your family that you had been missing, but now I think it was not so – not wholly. If you know what it is you are missing, and where you might find it, you should go to it.”

She had smiled at him, but he had only nodded thoughtfully back. When he had gone there and then decided to stay, he had tried to put thoughts of Sorn and Scarburg out of his mind, to see if perhaps this was the place where he was meant to be. Then, unbidden, thought of Rowenna come to mind, and he thought of Linduial’s letter unopened, and he knew Gytha had seen more clearly than he himself.

Three years among his siblings, and still he had never told them. He was grateful to them, thirsty for the kind of simple joy they found in life together. He wanted to share it – to anyone who did not know him well, it would seem that he did. Still, there was a barrier between him and them. At first he had simply not wanted to explain to them his life with Sorn, and why he had stayed when his ten years were up, and how he had gotten mixed up with Linduial’s kidnapping. Then after a time, he had wished to, but had not known how. How could they understand? He did not know which he desired less: their pity, or their spite. Either they would somehow try to explain it away, say it wasn’t his fault, or they would hate him for it. He could imagine their revulsion as they tried to hide it, wishing that they had not invited him into their homes. He could not stand the thought, and would not take that chance.

He had met only one person who might understand, and knew of only one way to finally be free from his past. So, in the fall of the eighteenth year of the Fourth Age, he began to make preparations to leave and return to Scarburg. His brothers gifted him with his own set of leatherworking tools: knives, awls, needles, stamps. “Can’t have those years of learning go to waste,” Aelfred had said gruffly – like Scyld, he was uncomfortable with emotionally fraught moments.

In October he set out for Scarburg, but made it only as far as Edoras when a heavy snow fell across the land, unseasonably early. He found there also a delegation from Scarburg, and was able to find out from some soldiers he had known the news from Scarburg: the harvest destroyed and the hall in need of supplies, but the heavy snowfall preventing the delegation’s return. Scyld’s heart sank. The way back to Bedric’s cottage was likewise unpassable, so he took up lodging in Edoras, figuring that snow which had come so early would soon melt, and that he would make his way to Scarburg soon enough with the supply train. After several weeks, it became apparent that this was not to be the case, and he managed to put his newly gained skills to use, working on commission for another leatherworker in town who currently had more work than he could handle and earning enough to pay for his room and board while waiting for the weather to clear.

Over the long winter, he’d had plenty of time to think, to second-guess his decision. He supposed his welcome back to Scarburg would be lukewarm at best: he did not flatter himself that he had been well-liked. Tolerated would perhaps be a more apt description. He wondered if Rowenna had missed him; if she had been sad to see him leave, she had hidden it well. What if she had forgotten him? Or was gone? Or married? As the winter wore on, new worries began to set in as well. How low on food supplies was the Hall? Had they run out? Were they dying? Thus with great anxiety he had joined the supply train when the weather broke and the great thaw began. What would he find, when he reached the Scarburg?

He paid little heed to the other members of the caravan as he drove one of the carts (Sorn had had a cart much like it, once, that he had had Scyld drive now and again). He made polite conversation as necessary, introducing himself once again as Nydfara to those he did not know (he had resumed use of this name in Edoras over the winter). It would not do to begin using his right name until he should present his letter to the Eorl. Slowly they rolled into sight of Scarburg, and Scyld felt his anxiety rising further. He took deep, steadying breaths and allowed a placid smirk to creep onto his face. He belonged here, he told himself. Let no one doubt it.
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Old 06-21-2015, 05:44 AM   #4
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine

All the folk of Scarburg streamed out of the hall and outbuildings at the call. Eodwine stood in the thawing muck, a heavy cloak wrapped around his thinned frame, his bony hand holding it tight around his throat. Maybe it was not so cold as it was, maybe the frost was gone from the air, but the cold was in his bones even yet.

"Well met! Is that Wilheard?"

"Aye, it is I, eorl Eodwine."

"You have brought many -" mouths to feed, was his first thought, but if they brought food and new clothing and aught else, then maybe these brought more than they would take. "-many folk! All are welcome! Come! There is a fire in the hearth, and warmth enough within. Did you by chance bring wood? We have little left."
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Old 06-21-2015, 08:37 PM   #5
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Léof

Léof leaned against the fence, taking a break for a moment to watch the horses freshly released into the pasture. He found it necessary to take breaks frequently, these days: the effects of constant hunger taking their toll on him. He had always been thin, and though he had gained a few inches in height and his shoulders had broadened out since he had taken up his position at the Meadhall five years ago, he still did not have much in reserve to sustain him through these weeks of hunger. He’d found that keeping busy distracted him from his hunger, but that he was also losing the stamina to work for extended periods of time.

Finally, finally, it was warming up though, and he thought the horses were nearly as ready for spring as he was. He smiled as a pair of yearlings suddenly took off at a gallop, as if racing each other. He loved watching the young horses. Over the last several years, he (with plenty of help) had gotten a small breeding program started at the hall. Considering his near total lack of experience with breeding when he had gotten the whole thing started, he thought he was doing all right. With the combined knowledge of those at the Hall and some local horsemen who were friendly and generous with their advice, Léof had learned an enormous amount and was becoming ever more self-assured of his skills.

His first thought had actually been to breed Æthel, in large part because a foal might be worth good money. He had no coin for a stud fee, but instead had offered a share of the foal. That colt had been sold nearly three years ago, as a yearling, and had fetched quite a good price, leaving Léof’s pockets heavier than they’d ever been. One of the yearlings out there in the paddock now, in fact, was Æthel’s second foal, a lovely bay filly. Too thin, though – all the horses were, after this winter. One of the pregnant mares had lost her foal, and he was afraid that the others that would be born this spring and summer would be under-sized. Still, the horses were in better shape than their human counterparts: the first two harvests of hay had been unaffected, and since Athanar had left with most of his folk and their horses, there were sufficiently few horses that Léof had been able to make the hay last through the winter with the horses on reduced rations. He had estimated that he had less than a fortnight’s worth of hay left in the stable when the weather had finally broken earlier this week, rapidly melting the snow. The pastures were a soggy mess, and the grass was yellowed and sad-looking, but he thought it would provide ample nourishment to supplement the dwindling hay until more could be gotten.

Behind him, one of the children shrieked, startling him out of his reverie. He turned around and thought he saw in the distance a train of carts. His stomach twisted – could it be that finally they would have food again? He scarcely dared to hope, but made his way over to the front yard of the Hall to find out.

There were several carts, piled high with all sorts of supplies. He wondered how soon there might be food set out to eat. As he walked up, folk were already beginning to unload the carts. He realized with an unhappy start that attached to those carts were horses, all needing care and stabling. He hoped these newcomers were in a helpful sort of mood, because even the thought of handling all these new horses exhausted him. Nevertheless, he approached the nearest cart to get started.
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Old 06-22-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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Ladavan

It was an odd place to be, Ladavan thought.

He was riding an old grey horse that seemed not at all pleased to be bearing his weight for so long a time, slender though Ladavan was. Carts, wagons, and other horses filled out a long, dusty, and hard-bitten caravan that wound its slow, plodding way toward Scarburg Meadhall.

Most of his fellow travelers were, judging from the gold that adorned their heads, of the Horse-lords that until recent years Ladavan had been taught were bitter enemies.
The Great War had changed much, though. Ladavan had been on the wrong side of the conflict, though even now he remembered the enthralling speeches given by the lord Saruman to him and so many others of his people; words that spoke to their hearts. Saruman had railed against the wrongs done to the men of Dunland by the Strawheads over the years, in which they had been aided by the Men From the Sea. The latter were hated scarcely more than the Horse-lords, for it was by their hands that Men of Ladavan's race had been driven from their ancestral homes.
These memories Saruman had fiercely rekindled, saying he had the power to slay and drive away all the invaders, and great reward would come to those who would join his forces.
Thus, Ladavan was brought into war. His older brother Meryk, too, had volunteered. And both had found themselves fighting against the hated Men of Rohan.
At first, they had confidence in victory, though Ladavan and many others had not liked being near the filthy, violent creatures called Orcs that made the most part of Saruman's troop count.
Defeat had come so quickly to them though that Ladavan still did not know how it had happened. Their assault on the fortress where the Strawhead king was said to be, had been broken by some strange force of trees that walked, and Ladavan had fled in terror before them. It was the next day that he found Saruman's armies shattered, and he himself taken to a camp for those like him, where he expected to be killed by the enemy.
To his surprise, all his people had been released, on the condition that they first help to repair damage done to Rohan during the fighting. Ladavan had been amazed to find Meryk during that time, for he had thought him likely dead.
Meryk, though, would not return to Dunland. He had said he had news that there was a refuge in the North, up the ancient road past Tharbad, where Men could have plenty and rule lesser folk. He was setting forth with some dozen companions, and left as soon as the Rohirrim let them free.

Ladavan shook his head at the memories. Now he was going toward a new future. He had tried to go back to the old life in Dunland, but his parents were gone, no one knew where, Nor were they the only disappearances. Ladavan had known that even as some of his race had served Saruman as fighters, others, too old or unable to war, had gone to Isengard to serve as laborers and food-tillers. After Saruman was beaten and had left his old dwelling, Ladavan had gone there and found it changed greatly. The walls and mighty gate were in ruins, and fearful tree-men too like those that had menaced him at the Rohirrim's fortress had stalked the area. Ladavan saw no hope in searching, for no Men seemed to remain.
Dunland had been uninviting and dreary with so many gone, and he had been encouraged by the mercy of the Rohirrim toward defeated enemies. He thought to make a life in a new place, free from old hurts and grievances.

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Old 06-29-2015, 07:58 PM   #7
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Léof

The man’s accent was strange to Léof but thankfully not too thick, and his tone was polite. Léof smiled. “Of course. This way.” He gestured toward the stables. Before trudging off through the muck, he relieved a second newcomer of his horse, mindful of making as few trips as possible.

He led the stranger to the stables, chatting as he went. “To the right here is the main hall. I think most of the goods the caravan brought will be going in there for now. The kitchens are there, as are the sleeping quarters. There are a smithy and a woodworking shop on the other side of the Hall as well, away from the horses here. And these are the stables – there are paddocks for the horses in front of and behind the hall. Probably most of the new horses will have to go out into paddocks for a bit here, until stalls can be gotten ready for them. I’m afraid we’re a bit short on straw, so they won’t be very thickly bedded down, unless there’s some on one of those wagons.”

Léof broke off his monologue as they reached the tack room. He tied off the horse he was leading in the aisle and indicated for the stranger to do the same. He began untacking the horse, cautious for any tricks the unfamiliar animal might try to pull, but he seemed grateful to be at the end of a long journey and stood quietly for Léof.

“I hope that helps a bit,” said Léof. “I’m sure you’ll get it down quickly enough. Do you plan to stay long, Master …?” He trailed off, realizing he did not know the man’s name.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:50 PM   #8
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Ladavan

Ladavan followed the man, who obligingly pointed this way and that, keeping a steady stream of conversation.
He took special note of the woodworking shop, thinking he'd likely spend a good deal of time there, at least for a while. He was hoping to have his own shop eventually.

The man tied Ladavan's horse (a ragged beast he had not even thought to name) and turned, saying

“I hope that helps a bit. I’m sure you’ll get it down quickly enough. Do you plan to stay long, Master …?”

"I am named Ladavan,", he said. "My thought is to remain here a while. I have some skill with wood, and perhaps could make a living while I see what fortune brings. He paused, then added
"Your manner is helpful, and it is good to know someone to call upon in case of trouble or doubt."

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Old 07-01-2015, 04:42 PM   #9
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Léof smiled at Ladavan. “When folk on horseback come to the Hall, I am often one of the first they talk to. They ask many of the same things, and I am used to answering them.”

He stowed the horses’ saddles and bridles in the tack room, mindful of where each was placed. He had long since corresponded each rack in the tack room with a specific stall in the stable, and it had cut down on the clutter and confusion considerably.

They led the horses out to the small paddocks in front of the Hall (Léof would see to them more thoroughly later). “Stigend is our woodworker here,” he told Ladavan. “If you do not meet him on your own, ask me later and I will introduce you to him.”
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:24 PM   #10
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Ladavan

“Stigend is our woodworker here,” the man who'd named himself Léof said. “If you do not meet him on your own, ask me later and I will introduce you to him.”

Probably more skillful than I, Ladavan thought ruefully. Ah, well.

"Fine," he said aloud. "For the moment, I need know only two more things: where to find bed and board. I see too that our coming is very welcome, and there is much to set in order. I could perhaps help with the unlading before I see to other matters."
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:47 PM   #11
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Javan

Javan came strolling about the corner before Léof answered and interrupted without thought.

"Léof, Thornden told me to help you with the horses," he said. He glanced at Ladavan curiously. "You come with the rest of them?" he asked. "You don't look like..." He paused and shut his mouth. He squinted a moment and then turned back to Léof. "What would you have me do? Bring the horses in, prepare stalls, or groom them?"

Before Léof could reply, two more men entered, one leading two horses and the second bringing in one. Javan turned to glance over his shoulder at them. "Here are more horses now."
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:13 PM   #12
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Having calmed down her unreasonable anger, Ledwyn found her eyes returning again and again to the dark-haired lady. She was certainly beautiful. Her hair was artfully arranged and seemed unruffled despite her journey. Though Ledwyn could not see her whole dress, she judged her garments to be much richer and more elegant than anything the women of Scarburg ever wore. Ledwyn felt incredibly plain when looking at the newcomer - though beauty, like nobility, had its cost, she reminded herself. She would not want to be a lady.

Ledwyn realized then with a guilty pang that she and the woman were the only ones still unoccupied with any work. She darted towards a sack of grain left in a cart, but then changed her course. If this is truly a lady, she must be greeted properly. She is probably waiting for someone to show her to a room - ladies are like that sometimes. If no one else is here to do it, then it shall be my task. If I cannot feel gratitude, I can at least show some courtesy. Wishing that Eodwine or Saeryn were in her place, she walked over to the cart where the lady sat gracefully.

Ledwyn inclined her head. "My lady," she said somewhat uncertainly. She stammered slightly, and felt like a fool. Anyone else would do a better job than her. "Welcome to the Scarburg Mead Hall." She paused. She should probably say more - this was as sparce a greeting as real flour in their bread this last week. "Was your journey long?" No! That was just the wrong thing to say, that is why someone else should have said the greetings. Why did that forward question have to jump out of her mouth? That is no fit way to welcome strangers, and certainly no fit way to speak to a lady. This time Ledwyn did not try to correct herself for fear that she would blunder even further.
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:11 PM   #13
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Modtryth

"There, there," Modtryth said, wrapping her arm around Stigend. Her voice, she thought, had become a mere croak over the winter, and her hair too had grey streaks in it now. Maybe she would have eventually turned into a scrawny black and grey crow, had they been in the clutches of winter for longer, but now it looked like spring had finally taken over with a magic entirely its own. The children, it seemed, were already enchanted. Modtryth watched them run away, not as carefree as before, but full of life still.

"Come, let's sit down for a moment," Modtryth told her husband and led him toward the kitchens, where they sat on one of the many empty boxes that had contained food a lifetime ago. All the women had gone to greet their saviours, to cast their hungry eyes on what they brought, and it was the quietest Modtryth had ever seen the kitchens. "We will have to clear up here for all the supplies," she said, casting a critical eye around. "Maybe they even brought more people to work here. More mouths to feed too, then, of course."

Stigend nodded. He seemed a little distant still. Modtryth took his hand. "It's going to be alright," she said.

She was not entirely sure of that. To tell the truth, she was a little worried. Stigend was strong, but it was a man's strength Stigend had - strength to work, strength to fight an enemy - not the sort of strength to endure and endure, to hold on to whatever was left and wait. Winter is time for wolves and women, Modtryth's mother had used to say, and she had hard time arguing against that. She thought: Yet now it is spring again.
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Old 07-04-2015, 04:27 PM   #14
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Elfthain - and - Thornden

Mithalwen’s Post -- Elfthain

"Can't you get me out of it Uncle? I am your shield bearer? " Elfthain had asked on the eve of departure. The boy had looked hopeful but his uncle laughed but with a hint of sadness and shook his head. " You expect me to countermand both your mother and the king? You are still on leave and to risk such folly I would have to think it a bad idea. And I am sorry 'Thain but I don't".

The boy looked a little hurt and Elwin raised his hand to stem the budding protest. "You are my sister-son and I love you just as much as my own children - for your own sake, as well as hers, and that of your father who was my dearest friend ; but you are not a child anymore and the time for playing is over. I know your heart isn't in soldiering... and really I don't mind. You are lucky enough to have a choice.." Elfthain hung his head at this - he knew his father and uncle had been scarce older than him when they rode to Gondor in the great War, "but whatever you do, you should do it wholeheartedly. Your mother has worked very hard to keep the estate going for you - it hasn't been easy for her and she has sacrificed much. If you intend to take control when you are of age, you need to do things properly. She raised you better than to be the sort of landlord who gives a few orders to his steward and sits back and collects the rents"

"I do know uncle..and I do want to farm.. farm properly.. it was just mother took it the wrong way.."

His uncle grinned and commented that from what he had heard there wasn't a good way to take what had been said. Elfthain realised that further discussion would be fruitless. It was clear that his remaining leave would be spent sloshing through the mud to some forsaken place rather than in the restored comfort of Upbourn Grange, finally emptied of the many villagers and estate tenants who had taken refuge there during the worst of the winter for economy of fuel and other reasons.

Only the foundling remained and it seemed was unlikely to be going anywhere soon: In the midwinter a woman had been found in the woods at Upbourn, dying of hunger and exposure, and sheltering beneath her cloak was a young girl, a toddling thing, little more than a baby. The woman seemed to be of the Eorlings but the child's hair was as dark as a raven's wing and as healthy as the woman was ailing. Clearly all resources had been devoted to the little girl. They had done all they could for the woman but to no avail and she had died without giving much clue to their identity. The child had been no help, unable to provide even her own name she had been addressed as "poppet" so often that she had ended up calling herself Poppy and it has stuck. And Elfthain's mother, Elfride, had seemingly become besotted by the little girl to a point that worried her son. Some might have said he was jealous unused for many years to sharing maternal affection and attention but for the most part his concern was genuine... a strange light seemed to come into her eyes at times when she held the child, fierce and defensive as if she might never let her go. And he worried about her health too..she was thinner than Elfthain had ever known her. Elfride had put all her energy into getting the village through the winter, taking minimum rations herself to leave more for the still-growing young, the ill, women with child or nurslings. By and large she had succeeded. There had been deaths of course - cold could be helped but the toll of years could not yet few died who might ordinarily have been expected to see Spring and all from mischance in the extreme conditions rather than starvation or cold. Save the stranger...

So it was not to be wondered that Elfride, exhausted, had responded badly to her son both querying her attachment to the child and saying that things should be easier now the snow had gone. He had received a lecture as to how she was perfectly aware that Poppy wasn't hers, let alone her lost daughter returned and then a detailed breakdown of how parlous the situation still was - they had depleted the firewood stored to season for next winter and the portion of the crops reserved for seed, many animals had been culled to save feed and so there would be fewer eggs, less cheese and butter, rations would be short until first harvest and perhaps after since they should do all to prepare lest this Winter not be a one off. Thought would have to be given to preserving as much as possible and to repairing and refurbishing the villagers and tenants homes to insulate them better against the cold. It was not going to be easy at all.

And so it had chanced that this exchange had been vastly ill timed, early on the day his mother had been summoned to Edoras to report on what supplies they had left and what could be spared for the succour of the outlands. And since his mother had been raised at court and had known Eomer since childhood the audience had moved on from the requisition to comparing notes on the hazards of raising sons. The upshot had been that it had been decided it would be good for him to be part of the escort and to see first hand how much worse the Winter had been in the remoter areas and he had been despatched along with the waggons to Edoras with barely time to gather his belongings let alone change his mother's mind. And Poppy had formally been placed in his mother's care until such time as her kin could be traced.

"Mother, will be alright won't she Uncle?" Elfthain queried as he made his final preparations. "Cenric says women go strange and witless around her age..." Elwin made a noise between a choke and a snort and then erupted in laughter so violent his nephew feared he might injure himself.

"I strongly advise you not to repeat that in your mother's hearing... but if you do I beg you give me sufficient notice that I may charge admission to the spectacle". His sister was still only in her 35th year and was far from losing her wits, though she had lost her temper with her lackadaisical son. Cenric was another esquire and inclined to give Elfthain rather dubious advice based on his six months seniority in age.

"My horse knows more of the womanly mind than Cenric and would give you better counsel..." Elfthain ruffled his nephew's curly hair and became more serious. "My sister has more mothering in her than even the most demanding only chick could exhaust, Elfthain, and now you are almost fledged and away, do not grudge her the pleasure of having a child in the house - even if it is only for a little while". Elfthain gulped and focussed hard on the strap he was fastening. It was nearly time to go and the courtyard was full of loaded carts, horses, those who were to travel and those who were seeing them safely on their way.

"Tell mother I am sorry won't you?"

"You can tell her yourself," Elwin gestured and Elfthain saw his mother making her way through the melee on her grey palfrey, the child Poppy, seated before her.

"I had to bring her" Elfride stated, by way of a greeting, dismounting and settling the little girl on her own two feet "there was no time to leave her with anyone and I couldn't let you go with only the memory of hard words."


Elfthain's glib tongue nearly pre-empted his brain to say he was only going to Scarburg not war but he stopped himself just in time. Instead he crouched down and scooped up Poppy who was trying to hide behind his mother's skirts. "Will you look after Mother for me while I am gone?". The little girl nodded solemnly though he doubted she truly understood what he said. He planted a gentle kiss on her brow before putting her back down and addressing Elfride. "I am sorry, I will try to make you proud of me".

"I already am. Come home soon, come home safe!". With that the muster horn had sounded and there had been time for little more as he had made ready to ride. A salute to his uncle and a bow to his mother and he had taken his place in the convoy momentarily at least resolved to make good his promise.



Elfthain might have even enjoyed the journey over unfamiliar territory had its leader been more inspiring or even cheerful and the pace less glacial. Usually of a lighter hearted disposition, he had followed the example of his commander. His resolution failing in the lack of opportunity for pride inspiring valour, he had spent much of the slow trek mum-chance and brooding over his banishment. It seemed a hard fate to spend what was meant to be his free time plodding along beside a cart when he could have been schooling his new horse - a fine iron-grey colt he had coveted since it was foaled and which had finally become officially his on his recent seventeenth birthday - all just because of a couple of ill-considered remarks. His older horse, Safran, though less glamorous was ideally suited to this venture, barely fifteen hands and a quarter mountain cob, she was smaller and sturdier than most of the other riding horses but surer footed and sensible enough to need little guidance from her master whose thoughts were often elsewhere. The evenings were no better , Wilheard gave no greater impression of desiring conversation at camp than during the day and he was shy of imposing his company on the older soldiers who seemed to be having a more convivial time.


Yet if the journey had been dismal the destination once reached had presented a scene of quiet desperation. The people were thinner and more haggard than any he had seen in Harrowdale or Edoras and even the buildings seemed to have been butchered. They were right, he thought sadly. Others have had a much harder time of it. He didn't need to wait for orders. It was obvious the most useful thing he could do among these starvelings. He dismounted and loosened Saffy's girths before hitching her to one of the waggons, then fell to unloading

--------------------------------------------

Folwren's Post -- Thornden

The courtyard was in chaotic activity by the time Thornden arrived. He glanced about, noting the newcomers intermixed with the tired, hunger-worn Scarburgians. Eodwine was speaking with Wilheard (Thornden looked about quickly for Wulfric and saw him not before continuing to scan the yard), Léof was leading a horse into the stables, followed by a stranger, and Ledwyn was speaking to a woman, also just arrived. Others were carrying sacks of grains from the wains into the kitchen.

"Javan," Thornden said, addressing his brother as he passed, "run and help Léof with the horses. Leodthern," he said, spotting the girl running amongst the adults in delight and excitement, "find your mum, and ask her to direct things in the kitchen until Saeryn arrives. Garmund! Cnebba,” he said, spotting the two boys threading through the people. “Take those chickens to where they belong and make them comfortable.” He almost followed up with a more detailed list of ‘find some old hay to line their nests, and get them water,’ but realized before beginning that they were old enough to figure it out on their own.

He began to thread his way through the wagons and peering in each one to see what was brought and decide where it ought to be taken. Two were full of wood, and these he directed the drivers to turn the horses about and take them around back where the old wood piles used to stand. He sent two or three men to follow them and help unload and stack wood.

Another wagon held large barrels full of dried and salted meat. His pinched stomach quaked a little at the thought of supper that night. He had not been truly full for he knew not how long. Tonight there would be something of a feast, he reckoned. He bit his lip and turned his mind back to his task.

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Old 07-04-2015, 05:16 PM   #15
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Wilheard

"All are welcome! Come! There is a fire in the hearth, and warmth enough within. Did you by chance bring wood? We have little left."

"Aye, we did," Wilheard replied, dismounting. "And there will be more now that the roads are open. The King will send another caravan in a moon's turn."

Wilheard approached Lord Eodwine to greet him formally. The Eorl of Scarburg looked old and frail, he thought. He questioned, again, his father's decision to send him here.

"King Éomer sends his regards, as does my father, Lord Athanar." Wilheard was certain there was something missing in his niceties, but he had never been good at court manners. He was glad his mother couldn't hear him. "And my father also wishes you would find a place for his son in your household, for a time," Wilheard added, doing his best to keep his voice neutral. He produced a piece of parchment from his belt. "He wrote you a letter."

~*~

Brith

Brith sat on one of the wagons, a little reluctant to get up. She felt like an intruder here among all the people laughing and crying and rejoicing at their arrival. The folk here looked haggard and starved, worse than any Brith had seen in Arnor, even though the winters were often harsh there. Their relief felt very personal, it was none of Brith's business really.

"A little overwhelming, huh?" Caranthir asked.
Brith snapped out of her daydreaming. "A little," she admitted, and smiled at the sellsword she had traveled with for half a year. "Where's Fréa?"
"Took his horse, and yours."
"Oh," Brith said. "Do you think he's still mad at me?"
Caranthir shook his head. "He still disapproves, though. Anyway, I better see to my old lady here or I'll hear about it too. I'll catch up with you later."
Caranthir took the reins of his pretty grey mare and started leading her away. Brith sat and hugged her knees like a little girl.

Travelling with Caranthir and Fréa had been like travelling with a pair of uncles. Brith had come to greatly depend on the two old sellswords, and Caranthir's counsel and Fréa's cheerful spirits had got her through much. But Uncle Caranthir was sometimes a little too protective, and Uncle Fréa would always nag her about exercising her horse and taking care of him herself. Brith was a decent rider and she liked feeding her old gelding apples, but she preferred travelling in a wagon and she found taking care of her own horse tedious at times. Well, the Rohirrim sure loved their horses.

"My lady," said a voice in the rough but melodic speech of Rohan. Abruptly, Brith turned, realising she was being addressed by a waifish woman maybe half a dozen years her senior, a maid judging by the clothing. "Welcome to the Scarburg Mead Hall."

Brith smiled a little and nodded, acutely trying to remember what else than "thank you" she could say.

Then the other woman blurted out something, really fast, and Brith realised she had no idea what had just been asked. She looked around for Caranthir or Fréa, but neither of them was anywhere to be seen.

"Ummm... do you speak the common tongue?" she asked.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:18 PM   #16
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Wilheard

"She was more a brat than a woman."

She was neither, Wilheard thought. She was just a girl then. Not so much now. He had been with Aedre all winter and it seemed that somehow, when he hadn't been around, his little sister had transformed into a tall and beautiful young woman he hardly knew. The gangly girl he'd taught to ride horses and even played with dolls with when he was small and she was tiny, she was gone.

As Wilheard was thinking of his sister, Javan turned to go. "Well," Wilheard said. "Beating brats is a pastime you and I have in common, Javan. Except I only do it when a brat gives me a reason to. You better remember that."

He turned around and started grooming his horse. Bloody scarburgians, he thought. Here we go again.
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Old 07-16-2015, 08:23 PM   #17
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Rowenna

It is strange to have you back. No, she did not have him in any way; he was not hers in any sense, would she or not.

"What is strange about it? Come, the potatoes need to be in the hands of the cook."

She carried them in her apron into the Meadhall, expecting him to follow. Would he? She thought so, but a momentary pang of doubt clutched at her stomach. She did not look back.
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Old 07-16-2015, 08:30 PM   #18
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Saeryn

Stefnu offered the honey to Ruari before Saeryn had a chance to respond or even thank the young man.

“Has she been nice today, lady Saeryn?” Stefnu asked.

“Well, she…” Saeryn began, hesitant and somehow confused. Food should not be used as a reward or withheld as punishment. General good behavior should not be rewarded. It simply was what was expected. She knit her brows together and looked down at her daughter and then up at the boy. He knelt and held out his hand towards her.

“Hello,” he said. “My name is Elfthain.”

Ruari smiled and put her hand in his, as she had been taught. “I am Ruari,” she said. “Look,” she showed Elfthain the potato in her hand. “I found this out there. Are you hungry? I am hungry.”

Saeryn stepped forward at last. “Welcome, Elfthain. I am Saeryn, wife to lord Eodwine. You are welcome here. I thank you for your gifts.”
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:11 PM   #19
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Javan

Javan stopped mid stride and paused with his back to Wilheard. He knew better than to carry on the conversation – it is better not to answer a fool, Thornden had told him many times when Javan had tried to explain an argument or fight, for it simply encourages them and makes you a fool yourself – but how could he ignore such accusations and biting comments?

He turned around.

“I didn’t beat your sister,” he said. “She pushed me into it.” Actually, he had pushed her, but then she hit him. The provocation was indeed unendurable, and he gave her a bloody nose for it. He remembered it well, for his punishment had been long lasting, and much of the time he spent forging a chainmail shirt under the tutelage of the ancient Raban had been used in reflecting on his crime.

“I have learned much since then, Wilheard, and I would not strike a girl or woman, no matter how she scolded or carried on, the way your sister did. Something you may want to remember is that Eodwine is eorl here now, not your father, and you will not bully us as you used to.”
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:38 AM   #20
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Wilheard

As Javan talked, Wilheard kept his eyes on his horse. Then he turned, deliberately slowly.

"Don't be a fool, Javan. It suits you ill, a man almost grown."

With a jolt, he realized Javan must be the same age as he himself had been when he'd last stayed in Scarburg, if not actually older. He pushed that thought away, as well memories of all the foolery he had done with his brother, and all the lectures and punishments they had endured from their father and mother.

"We both know Lord Athanar was a much stricter eorl than your Eodwine."
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:38 AM   #21
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Elfthain hesitated between replying first to mother or daughter but remembered his manners and rose back to his feet, though retaining the little girl's hand in his own and giving it a gentle squeeze.

"I am honoured by your welcome, Lady Saeryn, but I assure you no thanks are necessary, at least not to me, I am merely the courier. My mother though will be glad to know they are well bestowed." He bowed again and dropping back on his haunches added, "and I am honoured to meet you too, Miss Ruairi. My mamma says I am always hungry and if I don't stop growing soon she will have to start feeding me hay like the horses! But I don't think I am as hungry as you are just now." He could see the little tooth marks in the potato and it broke his heart. Ruairi was surely no older than his little sister had been when she died, and he wondered .if the convoy hadn't got through when it did, might this little one also have failed to see her sixth birthday?

"I think your potato will give you a horrid tummy ache if you eat it as is. I like them best cooked in the embers of a fire so that the outside is nice and crispy and the inside all soft and fluffy but that takes a long time. So if the porridge is ready you could have that now and it will be nice and warm and gentler on your insides. And if your mama thinks a spoon of honey will do you good then it might make it even nicer." He couldn't really see how the child could be denied a taste now the jar had been waved under her nose but thought the idea that it was almost medicinal, like the foul tonic his grandmother had been wont to dose them all on through the winters, she would understand it could not always be expected. He looked up at Saeryn hoping he hadn't said the wrong thing, "but now if you kind ladies all would excuse me I feel I really must see to my poor horse, she is a patient beast but she has been waiting a while for attention now."

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Old 10-24-2015, 03:12 AM   #22
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Rowenna

Nydfara finished pushing the mud out the door and Rowenna got on her hands and knees and set to scrubbing the floor to rid it of that which the broom could not.

“So did you learn what you wished to know this morning?” asked Nydfara.

What was he asking? Rowenna paused, sitting back on her heels, and stared at nothing. Oh ... his talk with Eodwine. She looked up at him. His head was cocked in that way he had, looking down his nose at her, as if he were above her in more ways than mere height. It annoyed her and her face tightened into the beginnings of a frown.

But he was baiting her and she was not to be baited. "No, of course not." She began scrubbing again. "For you are full of untold stories. But your secrets are yours and I will not pry. If you bring the broom back to the kitchen you may get on with whatever it is that you have to do."

She kept scrubbing.
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Old 10-01-2015, 04:08 PM   #23
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Javan ate his breakfast in silence, listening rather glumly to the plans for the day. It was not that he disliked cleaning the tack and leather so much, it was more that another day within doors seemed unbearable. And then Léof questioned Elfthain about if he was to go soon, and Elfthain responded, and Javan's spirits plunged even lower.

What was the point of even forming new friendships if they were going to be broken so soon? He had felt better since Elfthain had come. The winter had been hard for everyone, and he had no more to complain of than others - less, in fact - but since Garmund's father had died, Garmund had behaved differently. Cnebba, too, had grown distant, and Javan had found himself rather lonely. Léof was there, that was certain, but Javan and Léof had never been very close. Javan often thought Thornden got on more with Léof than he did himself, although he and Léof were closer in age. Elfthain, then, had been a welcome newcomer.

If only he could stay.

Javan looked up. The gloomy look cleared from above his eyebrows.

"I say, Thornden, couldn't Elfthain stay behind and live here?" he asked impulsively. "He could join the men at arms, couldn't he? He's a soldier in training, after all!"

Thornden glanced over towards Javan and smiled at the idea. "That would be a question more fit for Eodwine. I would be pleased to take him, so I could put in a good word." He turned and looked at Elfthain. "Shall I?"

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Old 10-02-2015, 11:35 AM   #24
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Elfthain startled dropped his porridge spoon into his bowl with a clatter and stared at Javan and Thornden astonished, while thoughts tumbled over themselves in his mind like a torrent of meltwater down a mountain side crashing into rocks and carrying smaller pebbles in the flow.

It had never crossed his mind that he wouldn't go back. He was only there because he was effectively being punished, not that he would admit that to his new acquaintances, and his future had been planned out for him so far in advance that it hadn't occurred to him that he might change it. And he was content to know the farm was waiting for him when he came of age and in the mean time he marked time, training for battles he hoped he never would have to fight. There was no doubt that staying would be harder work. He would not be able to slip off back to Upbourn when he was off duty, and however much he might resent other squires' suggestions of nepotism he had to admit that his uncle probably was more indulgent of his failings than a lord who was not a kinsman would be.

Yet he had enjoyed these past few days and liked the people who he had met. And maybe it would be worth the harder work and harsher conditions to be judged on his own merits... it might be the only chance he ever got for that.

"I would like to stay longer.... but I can't not just go back.. I am indentured...though since they thought it would do me good to come with the convoy it must mean staying longer would improve me more" he said with a grin "so maybe Elwin would grant permission if Lord Eodwine were amenable". be Elfthain paused and frowned remembering two stumbling blocks"If I did stay would I be under Wilheard's command? And would you have space for another horse?"
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Old 10-03-2015, 06:32 AM   #25
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Eodwine

Eodwine meandered around the Burg, looking for Wilheard. The young man had not been at breakfast when he had left there, so he chose to look elsewhere. He was not in the smokehouse. He was not at the latrine. Eodwine passed by the stables and saw the ostler Léof busy at his work, and a few others among the horses with him, but not Wilheard. He thought of going out to the top of the first hills of the scar, but shook his head. He did not think that Wilheard would go there first in the morning. He made his way out to the road, checked the wagon, no Wilheard.

Eodwine was more puzzled than frustrated. Maybe he was finally at his meal. But no, he was not in the hall, breaking his fast. Nor in the kitchens, making a nuisance of himself among the cooks and serving women. That left only one place.

Eodwine mad his way to the men's sleeping quarters. Sure enough, there was one body at rest. Eodwine got a slanted grin on his face. He stood at the door and put his hands to his mouth.

"Everybody, up and at it! Time for work!"

A groan came from the one occupied bed. Hands reached for the pillow and thrust it over the head.

"Wilheard! It's time to get up!"

"Leave me be! I'm tired!"

Eodwine's smile now had about it a bit of the fatherly disciplinarian. He walked over to the soldier's bed, pulled the covers off, yanked the pillow away and chucked it over to the side, bent down, got within two feet of the shirker's ears and yelled.

"Wilheard! Up and at it! If you don't, Eorl Eodwine will hear about it first thing!"
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:47 PM   #26
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Thornden's expression sobered. It would be more difficult than he had originally imagined. He did not know the lad was indentured. Still, there could be no harm in asking.

The question about if Wilheard would be his superior made his smile disappear even more. Any reminder that Wilheard was not leaving was enough to make Thornden not feel very pleased at all.

"Léof will have to answer for the horse," he said, glancing at Léof, "but I can at least say that you will not have to be directly under Wilheard, if that is your desire. I am not sure what his position here will be, but he will not be over men." Not, anyway, he added to himself, if I have any say in it.

"Who is the man you are indentured to?"
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Old 10-03-2015, 03:34 PM   #27
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Balan

But the irises did not bloom for long, for by the time their petals opened, the ancient river has dried. Their blossoms withered, and their leaves lay flat, and their roots turned to dust. Too late their proud stems have bowed to the riverbank, this time to rest there and not rise. Thus went the river, and the irises, leaving no trace that they once ruled this land, and only the earth remained, for only earth is eternal.

The day was tired. It tried halfheartedly to hide it, but gave up the feeble attempt before midmorning. The sun’s beams were too weak to pierce the clouds. The clouds were too pale to cast darkness. The ground was covered with yesteryear’s grass, a sickly yellow hue. The day was weary and drained of colour, its eyes hazy with mist. It barely dragged its feet across the earth, hoping that night would come early to relieve him of that task. But night comes only at its own time. So the weary day must trudge on, its seconds counted by the rhythmic chomping of the ground at travelers’ feet.

For only the earth is eternal. Yes, that would be a good way to end that tale. And end without an end, as all tales should be. Balan liked his new story. He put it in a pocket of his mind, to pull it out when the right time will come.

As the mist ahead of him cleared, he saw a small figure in the distance: a man, making his way north. He must have been going since sunrise, for Balan was walking faster, and he did not see this man at the village where he spent the night. Last night this man must have still been behind him, but set out earlier this morning. One wayfarer is company to another, especially when both are going the same way. Balan quickened his pace.

As he approached, he noticed that the man was slender and short of stature for a man of the Mark. Looking closely, Balan thought that this was a young man, and he appeared weary or cold. Balan reached behind him into his rucksack, assuring himself of his provisions. He had enough food for two, and he would be able to get more food when he reached the next village, or possibly the Mead Hall, which he remembered to be nearby.

“Hoy there, lad! You have walked far this morning,” Balan called out.
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Old 10-03-2015, 03:48 PM   #28
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"Elwin son of Eldred, Captain in the King's Guard. He was my father's best friend" Elfthain felt himself colour as he omitted and my mother's brother, "He has other squires I am sure he can manage without me for a while if I write and tell him I could be useful here. I hope I could be useful here... especially if I wasn't under Wilheard's control... " he grinned at Thornden, "Though he spoke barely a handful of words to me all the journey through. There might be advantages to such a master" he added mischievously.

"It isn't the end of the world about the horse. Only I have a half-broken colt at home on the farm and I was schooling him myself...." he wasn't sure his mother would have resist the temptation to finish the job herself. It wasn't that she would do a bad job rather that she might do it almost too well and he dreaded the mirth it might provoke if his "pony" were replaced by a palfrey.

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