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Old 11-24-2011, 12:50 PM   #1241
Folwren
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Thornden and Saeryn danced for some little while in silence. It frequently is easier to dance in silence and just take enjoyment in the movement and the interaction between couples. The fast pace of the tune and the lively mood of the dancers called for quick feet and many steps, and Saeryn felt herself soon tiring. Thornden sensed her premature weariness and to help her to not to feel awkward in dancing slower than the rest, he began a conversation to draw her attention away from how he slowed down his own dancing to match her ability.

“I give you joy for Eodwine’s return,” Thornden said, smiling at her as they turned by two hands. “Things may be easier for you, now that he is back.”

“I hope so,” Saeryn said. “But. . .” she paused. Thornden looked quizzically at her but they had to turn away from each other for the dance. When they rejoined again, her forehead was knit. “I don’t know,” she said, clumsily amputating the sentence she was about to say.

“I think perhaps you expected things to be different than what they ended up being after his return?” Thornden ventured. Saeryn nodded. “You hoped that Eodwine would take something close to his old place as eorl, and that the men would treat him with more respect.”

“Yes,” Saeryn answered. “I can accept Eodwine’s will to give up his place as eorl to Athanar, but I cannot – I will not accept an insult to my husband.”

“Generally it is the husband’s duty to protect his own honor,” Thornden observed mildly.

“Don’t start,” Saeryn snapped.

“I was just saying-”

“That’s what he thought, too, which led into him believing that Eodwine had sent me instead of coming himself.”

“Scyrr?” They parted briefly again. “What did you even get into it about?”

“I was tired of him insulting Léof and I went to tell him so.”

“You should have left that to Eodwine, too,” Thornden said. “Or to me.”

“Did you ask me to dance to call me to task?” Saeryn demanded.

“No. I’m sorry. I am glad that everyone has turned so quickly from the fight and to dancing. Everyone is very lively tonight.” He smiled, and Saeryn rolled her eyes and chuckled. Their talk flowed on and as they danced slowly down the line and back up, they continued to smile and laugh in merry discussion.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:21 AM   #1242
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.Legate of Amon Lanc has passed beneath the Argonath.
“Well,” Quin stammered, “I had been looking for Tyrdda here. I had no idea... Well, perhaps I can have the next dance, then.”

Hilderinc did not let it show, but truth be told, he was about as bemused as Quin was. He had not actually asked Tyrdda to dance with him, but apparently both her and Quin had interpreted it that way. He felt slightly sorry for the young Rider, but promised himself that he will give him the chance to have the next dance with Tyrdda after their dance.

For now, mustering all his rusty knowledge of dance, he led Tyrdda to the crowd of others. Inside the Hall was warm, lit, merry and full of music. He spotted Eodwine sitting with the rest of the musicians and marveled briefly at his skill with the harp; he also noticed Thornden dancing with Saeryn, and Fearghall nodded at him from next to Lilige, mimicking the words with his lips: “About time.”

Then Hilderinc caught the glance of Léof dancing with the young woman who came with Eodwine, and Hilderinc briefly smiled and gave a small, inconspicuous salute to the “stablemaster” as the woman turned her back to them.

He felt suddenly rather happy. However falling out of the rhythm and messing up a several times, he enjoyed dancing with Tyrdda, and as far as he could say, despite his clumsiness, she enjoyed it too. It must have been, for sure, better than being outside or in the kitchen. When the dance ended, however, Hilderinc felt that it was enough for him, bowed courtly to Tyrdda and led her towards Quin who had been already waiting on the edge of the ring of dancers.

He followed the two young people with his gaze and then, after a while, slowly left the room without anybody noticing. He was in a good mood, but felt like he could go to sleep, too. He headed towards the Riders' quarters, passed over sleeping Scyrr who was snoring with his mouth open just by the door and reached his own sleeping spot.

He had a good feeling about the day, despite its strange beginning with Crabannan and building the sheep pen. And despite the somewhat awkward air of Eodwine's return, he had felt that in the end everything was all right. The people dancing in the Hall seemed happy and undisturbed. Hilderinc crawled into his bed, not remembering when he had last felt this great. It was as if there had been no trouble whatsoever, he was pleasantly tired, the place was warm and before he knew it, he fell into a deep and untroubled sleep.
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:42 AM   #1243
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Rowenna

"I think that most of Athanar’s soldiers think far too highly of themselves," said Léof. "And until you asked me to dance, I was also thinking that they were getting all of the women to dance with, which is hardly fair since they didn’t bring any of their own.”

Rowenna laughed. "I am graced with two opinions instead of just one!"

By extension, Léof was saying that Athanar's soldiers had too low of opinion of him, which did not surprise her. But the second opinion had carried an unopened insight. Why had the soldiers of Athanar had no women? Had they no wives? Where were their families? Were they all orphans? What of sisters?

"And when you came you did not bring a young lady with you either," she winked. "Indeed, there must be a story to tell there. You are young to be the head of stables, though surely able enough! How did that happen?"
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:03 AM   #1244
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Eodwine

Eodwine was enjoying himself. It had been a long time since he had played his harp. The slow song that he knew so well had been a good beginning, and as he played with the others the old skills came back little by little. It helped that the others were quite good at the rhythm and melodies, leaving him to add harmony as he found his fingers.

He became comfortable enough with the chord repetitions to look up from his fingers at the dance. Thornden had Saeryn out on the dance floor. Eodwine smiled. They make a good couple. Now where had that thought come from? Mildly chagrined, he watched them, wondering if he had taken a woman away from a likely match. But no, they talked like brother and sister.

There was Rowenna with Léof! Eodwine couldn't help smiling, at first at the seeming incongruity, then at the surprisingly good dancing partnership they made. And somehow they were able to talk and dance without missing a step. He shook his head in mild wonder.

That was nothing compared to his surprise when into the hall walked Harreld and Ginna, arm in arm, looking at each other as if nobody else existed. Out they walked onto the dance floor and started dancing in a rhythm of their own, a good deal slower than the 'reel' the musicians were playing. Apparently they had made up. From the look of it, they had far more than made up. Eodwine broke out in a broad grin.

Eodwine looked to the other musicians and mouthed, "How about a slow one next?"
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:28 AM   #1245
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Léof did not particularly care to share his story with Rowenna, and fortunately he was given a moment of reprieve to compose his answer when Rowenna twirled away from him.

When they had danced their way back together, Léof replied, “I fear that it is too long of a tale for the dance floor.”

“Some other time, then,” Rowenna said, flashing him that smile of hers.

“Perhaps,” Léof replied, and he could not help but smiling back. They finished the rest of the dance without conversation, just concentrating on the rhythm and steps of the dance. Before too long, the song drew to a close and the pair stepped apart. Léof sketched a bow, and they parted with friendly words. Léof made his way back over to the wall, feeling much more kindly inclined toward Rowenna than he had before the dance. Perhaps he had misjudged her; she really was quite fun, and a talented dancer at that.

Last edited by Firefoot; 11-26-2011 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 11-26-2011, 07:25 PM   #1246
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The Next Morning

Saeryn woke slowly. She was comfortably warm – warmer than she had been while waking for a long time. The room was still dark, but she could see a dim outline of Eodwine’s face on the pillow beside her. She smiled sleepily, wishing she could lie there all day. It could not be. There was work to be done – more work than all the ladies of Scarburg could keep up with, even with Saeryn’s help. But she didn’t have to get up just yet. She allowed herself the luxury of waking slowly in the dark warmth, looking at her husband as he slept on. Then she lifted herself up on one elbow and leaned over to kiss him once before slipping silently out of bed and then dressing herself in the dark.

She shivered as she hurried down the dark stair and into the kitchen. One of the men was just leaving, a roaring fire built in the fireplace behind him. Frodides was busy mixing some flour and Ginna and Kara came in through the door with water, flushed and puffing with cold.

“Good morning,” Saeryn croaked. She coughed and cleared her throat and tried again. “Good morning. I see you are all hard at work already.”

“We didn’t expect to see you so early,” Frodides said, glancing up. “We thought you’d stay abed longer.”

“I wanted to stay abed longer, I assure you,” Saeryn said. “But I wasn’t going to leave you all the work.” She went to the barrel of salted meat and took out several large pieces.

Ginna and Saeryn

Ginna had already filled a basin with water, and together they rinsed the meat first in a bucket and then laid them to soak in the basin.

As they bent over it together, Saeryn said, “I saw you and Harreld dancing last night. I noticed you two seemed. . ." how could she put it? They had been more companiable, happier, even joyful. "As though you were celebrating something."

"Yes, Saeryn. We were finally able to talk last night. It went well."

Ginna tried, she really tried, but she failed to suppress the wide smile that threatened to form in her lips. She knew she was holding much back, and felt a slight pang of guilt for doing so (especially to Saeryn, who had always been there for her!), but Ginna was in such a good mood that she couldn't help being a little mischievous. And, she thought, it would make for better storytelling to give details a little at a time, as they were demanded.

Saeryn waited expectently a moment, and then seeing that Ginna was not going to open up without prodding, said, "So. . .what did you decide?"

"I did not decide on anything," Ginna said as she carefully dropped a strip of meat in the basin. "Well, nothing new, anyway. You know what I wanted to happen all this time. Harreld, on the other hand..." And she stopped there, letting a grin fill out the missing words.

Saeryn stared at her, her eyes wide. "You mean, he changed his mind? He is going to pursue you, despite what your father said?"

"Yes!" Ginna exclaimed, breathless with joy. "Harreld did not tell me what Eodwine had said in its entirety to help sway him, but it seems I owe much of this to your husband. I do not know what I would do without you two. Thank you, Saeryn."

Saeryn almost put her arms about Ginna in an impulsive hug, but she stopped herself from using her cold, wet hands, and instead just flashed a huge smile that said more than words could about how she felt.

"Eodwine's return will set to right many things, I hope," she said. "I am so happy for you, Ginna! Will you write your father? When. . .did you talk about when you might marry?"

The smile did not leave Ginna's face, but she felt that her happiness was tempered by a sense of sobriety. "We have not gone that far. I guess we are taking things a step at a time. But you are right, I do have to tell my father about this."

Saeryn gave her an encouraging smile. "I think your father will understand, especially if Eodwine sends a letter to tell your father that Harreld is a noble young man and that he approves of your choice."

"He does not have to do that," Ginna replied. "Eodwine has already done so much for us. I shall inform my father myself. Whether or not he understands, Harreld and I have already decided and it will not change."

Saeryn looked admiringly at her, but also with a little sadness. It would not be easy on Ginna if her father did not change his mind. His disapproval could cause the marriage to go forward with difficulty, or perhaps not at all.

They finished putting the meat they needed to soak and as they washed their hands together, Saeryn said, "I will still have Eodwine write. I think it will be best."

Last edited by Folwren; 12-30-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:39 AM   #1247
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Rowenna washed and dressed. It was chilly, she could see fog from her breath. She threw on an extra shawl and went to the kitchens. Frodides and Kara was already there.

"Glad you're up and about at last as you had more fun than is good for a gal last night," said the head cook.

Rowenna merely smiled. "What needs doing?"

"Ready the place for breaking fast. Ginna and Saeryn are readying the bacon. Go get eggs."

Rowenna nodded. She exited the kitchen with a large basket, walked past the roaring fire, and clutching the shawl around her shoulders, went outside. Why did the hen house have to be so far away from the kitchen? Well, because of the stink, of course. Frodides was not doing her an unkindness by sending her to the hens, it was the last job and Rowenna was last up.

She wondered when the men would be getting up. It would be a good hour or more from now, she supposed. They drank more and ate more and stayed up later than the women, at least those who could hold their mead. She wondered if Nydfara had stayed up late. When would he be to breakfast? When would she have time to talk to him? Did she want to talk to him? If she did, what would she say?

She went into the hen house and found a couple dozen eggs. This was going to be a good day. They needed more hens. Frodides would have to spread the eggs pretty thin, as usual.

By the time she got back to the Hall, she had not seen any of the men up and about. Of course not. There was no reason to expect Nydfara up this early. Why had she even bothered to look for him? Silly. She went inside.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:09 PM   #1248
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Léof roused as early as ever, though for once he wished he had not. He cracked open his eyes and could see out his small window that the sky was just barely beginning to lighten. He shut his eyes again, flipped over to face the wall, and burrowed deeper into his blankets. Just for one morning, the horses could wait… why did they have to eat so often, anyway?

But there was no help for it. This was the hour his body was used to waking up at, and though his scratchy eyes begged otherwise, Léof soon gave up on trying to go back to sleep. Bracing himself for the chill, he threw back his blankets and jumped out of bed before he could change his mind. He splashed some water on his face from his small basin and got dressed, his movements somewhat more sluggish than usual. After a moment of fumbling with his breeches, he realized that he'd pulled them on backwards. Ugh, he really was tired. How late had he stayed up last night, anyway? He wondered as stripped them back off to put them on right, then sat down to tug on his boots. It hadn’t seemed so late at the time, with laughter and tales in his head, mead in his veins, and dancing in his feet.

All of his clothing properly in place, he stood up, unlatched his door, and let himself out into the stable aisle. He drew in a deep breath, smelling the wonderful mingled scents of horseflesh and cold, crisp mountain air – and breakfast beginning to cook. He shivered, and wondered if the women might oblige him with something warm. He could sure use it this morning.

The horses were only just beginning to stir; they could wait a few more minutes. His mind made up, he set off for the kitchen. As he emerged from the stables, he saw the kitchen door open and shut as someone went inside, briefly splashing the yard with a rectangle of light. He made his way quickly over and opened the door wide enough to stick his head in. “Good morning, ladies,” he said. “Might I bother you for something warm before breakfast?”

Last edited by Firefoot; 12-03-2011 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:10 PM   #1249
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Laerdil

He had walked through the night. The stars had been clear in the sky all night. One could see from horizon to horizon on these rolling plains.

He was used to trees, tall as towers, his vision limited by them, and that was home. He had known that it would be different, and had not been sure he would like it. So he was glad when he could see them arcing across the sky in their nightly dance.

The sun had risen. There was smoke rising in the distance, just beyond an abrasion in the land. It was not a rolling hill, but a scar on the land, something left behind by the first Dark Lord, perhaps, ages ago. There were humble trees there, too, beyond that rough and rocky terrain that seemed to stretch as far as even an Elven eye could see. He was reluctant to go there.

You have meant to see humans. This is your first chance. Why skirt it?

There were many reasons. But the purpose of this journey had been from the first to transcend those many reasons, to see these Fourth Age humans as they were, foibles and failures and weaknesses and all. He turned toward the scar.

He came to a stop at the crest of the first rise. They will think it cold. The mist of his breath sped on the wind south, away across the rough rises. There was a woman trudging from a hen house to the great room from which the smoke rose. She was fair to look upon. He allowed a sad smirk. No, he would not be tempted to play at bringing Half Elves into the world. That had been done, and no need anymore.

He walked down the slope, up the next, down, up, and came to the final crest. He knew he could not be seen because of his cloak. He parted it and cast it back over his shoulders, and doffed the hood from his head. Let one see me first. Then I will go in.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:00 AM   #1250
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Eodwine

He woke up, opened his eyes. The sun's light was shining in through the small window. Eodwine watched the dust particles floating in the air. He yawned and stretched, and could see the vapor from his own breath. Brrrr!

Get up? You must be joking. He sighed. He threw the covers off, hopped around the bed, splashed icy water on his face, felt completely awake, and hurried into his breeches and tunic. And vest. And woolen socks. And shoes. And overcoat. And cloak.

He hurried out of the room, his teeth chattering, down the stairs, to the Hall, and in, and stopped.

"Ahhhh!"

Warmth.

He shuffled over to the hearth and held his hands out in a silent benediction to the fire. Finally he could think about something besides being cold and wanting warmth.

"Drat," he murmured. He had just remembered that buffoon, Scyrr. He would have to go to the Eorl and discuss redress for the injury sustained. It almost put him in a sour mood. He would just have soon forgotten the whole thing if it hadn't happened before them all. Ah, the pains of leadership. He griped to himself, went to the kitchen, bid a quick good morning to all the women working there, grabbed some bread and a wooden cup of water, and made off to see Athanar.
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:28 PM   #1251
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Morning always came earlier than Javan wanted it to in the winter. In the winter, morning came before it was light. It meant getting up in the dark and clutching around in the twilight trying to find your clothes before you froze to death. It meant a sore jaw from trying to keep your teeth from chattering together to breaking point.

He tumbled out of the room where he slept with some of the other boys and men of the hall and stumbled to the fire made up by some blessed person. Eodwine was walking away as he came out, and it took too much effort to force a good morning between his tense jaws. So instead he replaced Eodwine before the fire and rubbed his hands up and down his arms until he felt warmth flowing back into his limbs.

Another thing Javan disliked about mornings in the winter was performing outside duties. He turned his back to the flames and stood thinking about the empty wood-box in the kitchen that had to be filled. And the buckets of water in the stables that Léof would need help breaking the ice in. He shivered with the thought, but there was no escaping it. So he reluctantly left his station at the hearth and went to the kitchen.

He entered just as Léof was coming in through the outside door and he stood to one side, hoping that if Léof got something warm to eat, he could share in the bounty. But all that was offered was a bit of bread from last night. Kara handed Léof a piece and when Javan stepped forward, she gave him one, too, and holding it in both hands before him, he hurried outside to bring in the wood.

He stuffed the piece of bread into his mouth and then began stacking wood into his arms. When he turned away from the pile, he paused, his eyes attracted to an approaching figure. He stopped chewing the chunk of bread and he squinted to see clearer in the growing light. It was a stranger, certainly, and like one he had never seen before. He walked bareheaded, with his cloak thrown back over his shoulder, ignorant of the cold. He had dark hair, like Modtryth and Cnebba, but his skin was pale and fair as the Rohanians’ and he was taller than any man Javan had seen before, except, perhaps, Thornden.

As he drew nearer, Javan waited for him, stamping his feet and shifting the wood in his arms. He swallowed the last bit of bread as the stranger came within speaking distance, and then greeted him.

"You must be freezing! Will you come inside? There's a fire in the Hall and in the kitchen."
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:56 AM   #1252
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Laerdil saw a boy come into view. As he slowly approached the settlement, he watched the boy work. He wondered what this boy perceived of Arda; no doubt far less than a boy of the Eldar. The edges of Laerdil's mouth turned down as sadness rose like evening tide in his chest: there had been no children, boy or girl, among the Eldar for hundreds of years now, and there would not be any now.

He came to a stop. The boy was staring at him, chewing on something, and swallowed.

"You must be freezing! Will you come inside? There's a fire in the Hall and in the kitchen."

He smiled gravely at the boy. "A fire would be welcome. I give you greeting. I am called Laerdil of Lorien. How are you called?"
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:51 AM   #1253
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“My name is Javan, son of Thaldon.” There was a momentary pause while Javan wondered if there was some other form of polite greeting he was supposed to give. He could think of nothing while he felt the wood in his arms grow heavy, so he instead turned while saying, “Come on in,” and led the way into the kitchen.

“Lady Saeryn,” he said as he pushed open the door. “There’s a guest who’s come.” He edged towards the woodbox, keeping his face towards Saeryn as he went and indicating the door where Laerdil appeared a moment later. “His name is Laerdil, from Lorien.”

Saeryn straightened. She had a large knife in one hand and her other was holding a slab of meat she’d been cutting into strips for frying. She laid the knife down and wiped the cold blood on her apron as she stepped around the table.

“You are welcome here, Laerdil of Lorien,” she said, making her courtesy. “I would offer you something to eat, but as you see, breakfast is only half prepared.” She indicated the work in process. “My husband, Eodwine, and the other men are probably in the hall. If you wish, Javan can show you the way.”
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:40 PM   #1254
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"Lead on, Javan," Laerdil replied, and said his thanks to the human woman called Lady Saeryn. He noted that, at least at this moment, in this human habitation, this high born lady chose to humble herself with servant's work, and she did so with child. She must be young, for she was fair as an elf woman. The other women were glancing at him as they worked, but the one that he had seen while outside was off in the corner, watching him openly with unhidden curiosity. He nodded to her and left the room.

There was a large fire in the hearth, but there were as yet few others in the Hall. Laerdil thanked Lady Saeryn and sat near the fire. He took out his harp and began to play a song from Lorien.

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Old 12-18-2011, 03:35 PM   #1255
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Eodwine

The door to Athanar's rooms was closed. Eodwine stood before it, pondering. After a few moments he decided not to waken the eorl for the silly matter of the buffoon. Time enough for that later. Besides, the bread was gone and his wooden cup empty, and he was hungry. He made for the hall.

When he came into the hall he heard a harp, playing a song he did not know, coming from over by the hearth. There was a man there, with long dark hair, sitting before the fire. The music was dreamy and sad. The stranger knew well how to play. He was doing things with that harp that Eodwine wanted to learn. He was about to walk over when Rowenna came out of the kitchen and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Who is that?" she asked, wide eyed.

"I do not know. Let us make his acquaintance."

They walked over to him, Rowenna keeping behind Eodwine, as if she were bashful. Odd, coming from Rowenna, he thought. They stopped by the fire and stood listening. The stranger looked up and nodded with a kindly smile, then looked down again, continuing to play. Eodwine sat down and Rowenna followed suit.

Rowenna

Listening to the music, Rowenna felt coarse, as if she were not well born, not beautiful, not clever or refined in any way. This music, coming from those long, sensitive plucking fingers, was at once complex and imbued with simplicity. There was something about it that pulled at her heart, and she could not understand it. The stranger was so quiet, so at one with his playing, with his music, so .... she did not know how to name it! .... 'full of mystery' was as close as she could come.

The song came to an end, and glad as she was to be able to speak to the stranger, she was sad that the song was done.

"I greet you," Eodwine broached, "I am Eodwine of Scarburg, counselor to the eorl here. How are you called?"

"I am Laerdil, from Lorien. I go to the sea, to cross over, but before I do, I am walking in the lands of Men to see to whom Middle Earth is bequeathed." He turned to Rowenna.

"And how are you called, fair maiden?"

Rowenna blushed to be addressed so kindly by an Elf. Take me with you! Teach me! Let me bask in your presence! Such thoughts and others like them flitted through her mind. "I am Rowenna of the Folde. I am the ward of Eodwine."

"How have you found us to whom you have bequeathed Middle Earth?" Eodwine asked.

"In truth," smiled the Elf, "you are the first I have seen since I left my home. Though it is early to say anything of worth, I am welcomed warmly."

"How old are you?" Rowenna asked, then put her hand to her mouth, coloring. "I am sorry, I am being rude."

"No, child, you are so young, I would expect nothing else from you," Laerdil smiled sadly. "Indeed, you are both so young. I am old. I have lived in Lorien all my days, and seen little of Middle Earth; but I was old when Numenor sank into the sea. Indeed, I was old when the Kingdom of Numenor was founded."

"The First Age, then," Eodwine breathed in wonder.

"You do not look old at all," Rowenna said.

"We do not age as you," he answered. "It is said by your kind that our age is seen in our eyes. When I look in your eyes, fair maiden, I see the brightness of youth. It gladdens my heart that there is still such youth in this old world, and that it ever will be so. But not for me, nor for my kind."

The sadness in the Elf's eyes was so profound that Rowenna felt tears coming to her eyes, and blinked them away. What was this that was happening to her? She felt as if she were undone by merely being in his presence, but in a completely different way than in her dealings with Nydfara. He was a challenge between equals. This Elf was far beyond her. She could not take her eyes off him.

"I also play the harp," Eodwine said, "but your skill is great and I feel a simpleton with it after hearing you play. Would you show me what you do to make the sounds you make?"

Rowenna listened in silent awe as the Elf taught Eodwine a smallest piece of his knowledge.

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Old 12-21-2011, 10:58 AM   #1256
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Scyld roused with the rest of hall, neither early nor late. He stretched and dressed, mentally reviewing the night before and planning ahead for the day, as he did every morning.

Unlike every other morning though, his review did not begin with a larger survey of the hall but jumped straight to the personal details. He still was not sure what Rowenna had meant by leaving him to dance with Léof, if she meant anything at all. Somehow she must have read in his tone or face his less-than-honest intentions. He did not like being so easily read. It was unnerving. Dangerous.

Perhaps he ought not to spend so much time in speech with her.

But he had no will to follow through with such a plan. If he simply said nothing of his past, she would hardly guess it.

These thoughts were driven from his mind as he descended the stairs by the sound of harp music. Nor was it music such as Eodwine played; it was fairer, deeper, sadder somehow. It made Scyld feel as though maybe there was hope for him yet, as if a promise was hidden in those fair notes.

The music ended, the spell was lifted, and Scyld realized that he had stopped on the stairs. He shook his head slightly, as if to clear the queer mood from his head. Unsettled, he made his way to a table near the harpist.

“Who is he?” he asked the men seated there.
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:06 PM   #1257
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Thornden glanced up from wiping the last of the eggs from his plate with a piece of bread to look at the stranger. “I don’t know,” he answered Scyrr. “He came this morning before very many people were astir. I have not met him yet, but I think he is an elf.”

At this, several of the men, including Quin, turned their heads to look at Laerdil. Thornden’s eyes dropped again to his breakfast and allowed them to make what they would of it.

Quin turned back to the table after casting a swift glance up and down the figure by the fire. “That would explain his music, then,” he said, finding nothing else to say. Thornden nodded, but found it unnecessary to say anything else. “And no one knows why he’s here?” Quin continued. “I wonder what his name is.” He looked again over his shoulder at the elf.

“I met him first,” Javan said, coming up to the table with a full plate. He squeezed in between Léof and Thornden. “His name is Laerdil, and he’s from Lorien. He came into Scarburg as though he did not feel cold at all, with his cloak open and his hood back and everything. He did not talk much, and said nothing to Lady Saeryn when he met her.”

“He speaks freely with Eodwine now,” Thornden noted, with another brief glance across the floor.

“Did he happen to say what he’d come for?” Quin asked Javan.

Javan indicated that he did not with a shake of his head, but his mouth was too full to say anything.

“I’m sure it would not be a difficult matter to find out,” Thornden said, rising. “He will probably answer anyone’s questions, and he has probably heard them all, if what I have heard about elves’ hearing is true.” And as he stepped out from the bench by the table and walked away, the others cast abashed looks amongst one another.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:18 AM   #1258
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Saeryn had been at work over the hot stove for at least an hour already. In the winter, the warmth was welcome and she didn’t mind the job close to the sizzling frying pan. She fried the strips of bacon that she had cut that morning while Kara scrambled what few eggs they had. They put some milk in the eggs to make them go farther. Frodides and Ginna saw to the bread and the cooked oats.

As soon as enough food was prepared to feed the earlier risers, the women filled great bowls and platters of food and took it out to the Hall. A handful of men were up, but the hall was still mostly empty. Eodwine sat with the elf by the fire still. Lord Athanar and his wife were not yet out, nor were any of their children. Most of the soldiers were still abed.

A while later, Saeryn came out again, carrying another full tray of food. One of the tables was filled now with men, but Eodwine still sat by the fire with Laerdil. She set down her burden and came towards them. She laid her hands on Eodwine’s shoulders while smiling over his head at the elf.

“Eodwine,” she said, “I just brought out some bacon, hot off of the stove, and there is hot bread, too. Let our guest rest harp a while and break his fast.”
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:14 PM   #1259
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Rowenna

Rowenna heard Saeryn's words and it suddenly came to her that much time had passed without her noticing. She felt guilty that she had left so much work to the other women. She got up and walked quickly toward the kitchen.

As she did, her eye drifted over the men at table, and she found Nydfara among them. He had been watching the Elf, and he glanced at her. She nodded once, and felt that she must talk to him. She wanted to find out his reaction to the Elf and compare it to her own. She passed through the door into the kitchen, apologized for her prolonged absence, and busied herself as she was told by Frodides, who wanted her taking food to those who were breaking their fast.

This sent her to Nydfara's table. She stopped between him and one of Athanar's men, and placed a plate of bread on the table.

"Good morning, men," she said. "What do you think of our guest?"

Eodwine

"Of course, you are right, Saeryn." He turned to Laerdil. "This is Saeryn, my wife."

"We have met," Laerdil replied with a slight smile. "Bread and water will suffice."

"Would you like to meet some of the men?" Eodwine asked.

A mysterious smile came to the Elf's lips. "I am not sure they want me so near," he said. "They seem to want to keep their distance. Instead, please tell any who wish to sit with me near the fire that I welcome their company."
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:36 PM   #1260
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Scyld was content to sit and listen to the others speculate about their visitor. It was interesting, certainly, but not in a sort of way that was likely to affect him directly. Nor was it his way to sit fawning over a person, be it king or commoner – or Elf.

Movement near the fire caught his eye and he saw Rowenna standing up. Funny – until that moment he had not even realized that she sat near the Elf. That was the sort of thing he ought to have noticed.

His gaze followed her until she disappeared into the kitchen for a few moments. Then she made her way over to their table and said, “Good morning, men. What do you think of our guest?"

Evidently, Scyld mused, the Elf was interesting enough to make her forget or disregard the poor ending to their conversation last night. That was fine with him.

“Not having met him, I can hardly think anything of him save to wonder why he is here,” Scyld replied. “But you were sitting near him; perhaps you ought to tell us your thoughts instead.”
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:42 PM   #1261
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Ledwyn and Theolain

“Oh do move faster!”

The boy did not reply, - or quicken his pace. He was too busy examining a thick muddy stick that he found somewhere along the road to pay heed to his mother. He did not realize that he was pulling down on Ledwyn’s arm, making it more difficult for her to walk.

Halting briefly, she swung her sack or clothing onto her other shoulder and picked Theolain up. He seemed to be getting heavier by the day. She could not now be more thankful for the miles that a generous farmer let her ride on the back of his wagon. But the sight of chimney smoke heartened her; she could not have been far away now. The scene promised a fire and a shelter to escape from the bitter wind.

The Scarburg Meadhall turned out to be even bigger than Ledwyn imagined it to be. She walked anxiously toward it, as if she was going to see King Elessar in his high city of Mundburg instead of the Lord Athanar. She didn’t see a single person around, and the dim din from withing the Hall suggested that breakfast was not over yet. She was almost at the doors when she noticed Theolain’s stick, and put an end to his entertainment, cutting him off with a sharp word when he tried to object.

She knocked. Once, twice. No one seemed to hear. It is no wonder they cannot hear me, if so many men are talking at once, she thought. After waiting for a few more moments Ledwyn pushed at the door to open it just wide enough for her, came inside, tugging Theolain behind her, and almost ran into a man who was walking somewhere.

“My apology, sir,” she said. “I am looking for the Lord Athanar. I wish to speak with him.” The man hesitated. “I am Ledwyn,” she continued when she realized that she did not introduce herself, “from the West Emnet. I would speak with the Eorl. I come to live here, if he allows. With my son.”

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Old 01-15-2012, 11:28 AM   #1262
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Thornden looked down at the woman and then glanced at the toddler clinging to her hand. The boy turned his face away and hid in his mother’s skirts. Thornden looked again at Ledwyn and he bowed his head a little.

“Welcome to Scarburg,” he said. He gently guided her within and shut the door behind her. “Athanar has not yet been seen this morning, but we are just breaking our fast and you are welcome to join us while you wait for him to rise. But you must be very cold. Come, stand by the fire. Lady Saeryn is there just now, and she will make you comfortable.”

He led the way across the floor to the large fire where Saeryn stood by Eodwine and they were speaking with the elf. Eodwine was about to take his leave to get breakfast as Thornden and Ledwyn drear near.

“Lady Saeryn, lord Eodwine,” he said, “this is Ledwyn. She has come in search of lord Athanar and seeks a home here. I brought her here to put her in your care, Saeryn, until Athanar comes.”

“Of course,” Saeryn said, turning and smiling at Ledwyn. “You are more than welcome here. Stay by the fire, and let one of us get you something to eat; you look half frozen.”
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:46 PM   #1263
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“Not having met him," said Scyld, "I can hardly think anything of him save to wonder why he is here. But you were sitting near him; perhaps you ought to tell us your thoughts instead.”

"He says he is going over sea. He is passing through the lands of Men to see for himself -" She paused to recapture his words. "- to see for himself to whom the Elves have bequeathed Middle Earth. He has lived in Lorien for thousands of years. He says he was old before Numenor was founded, can you believe it?"

"What of your thoughts?" Nydfara asked again.

"I - My thoughts hardly seem to matter, I suppose; but if you would have them, he makes me feel very young, like - like a child. He is - so sad."

Eodwine came to them, stopped and greeted them. "Laerdil has asked me to fetch him bread and water. He will eat where he sits. He invites any who would share his company to go to him, by the fire."
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:27 PM   #1264
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Ledwyn did not know what to do. At home she never saw anyone with a "Lord" or "Lady" in front of their name, except from afar. It seemed as though the hall was packed with important people. She remembered a time when her grandmother, long gone now, told her tales about the lords of the land. Always do what pleases them, she always ended off, if you want to live peacefully.

"You speak truly," Ledwyn said. "The wind is especially cold this morning. I broke my fast already, but I would not mind some food again." She glanced around the room restlessly before turning to her companions again. Only then did she notice that one of them, the one who has not spoken yet, was an Elf.

Ledwyn has seen Elves before, from Lorien and Imladris, when they came through the Mark on their way back from Mundburg. The Queen Evenstar was of the Fair Folk, and it was said that King Elessar and King Eomer both enjoyed the company of Elrond Halfelven, and Celeborn and Galadriel of Lorien. But it was also known that, fair as this folk may be, they were also perilous. It was for a reason that all good men shunned Dwimordene: it was known that the sorceress ensnared travelers in her webs of deceit. Whatever the kings have done, no common people would be willing to walk right in to one of their traps.

Ledwyn edged away from the Elf, keeping her eyes down in fear that he will read her fear and mistrust. To busy herself she pulled Theolain close and ruffled his hair. I have naught to fear here, she told herself. But the old tales spoke stronger.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:57 PM   #1265
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When Ledwyn had answered, Saeryn and Eodwine held quick discussion together. Eodwine said that he would bring Laerdil what he requested and Saeryn could bring something for Ledwyn to eat. They parted ways, Saeryn going immediately to the board laiden with food while Eodwine stepped over to the table where several men sat.

Saeryn fetched a platter and filled it with hot bread, bacon, and some eggs. Upon second thought, she filled a second trencher for herself and took both of them again to the fire. She left them with Ledwyn to return and fetch some drink for herself, Ledwyn, and the little boy. In a moment she returned, handed the cup of milk to the child and some warm brew to Ledwyn. Eodwine came at the same moment and gave to Laerdil what he requestd. Saeryn stood for a moment, one hand pulling hestiantly on the other before her waist as she considered Laerdil and his meager fair.

"Eodwine," she said, her voice quiet and slightly constrained, "Surely our guest would like something more than water. Some mead perhaps?" She looked again towards Laerdil, concern etched in the crease between her eyebrows. She did not want to seem inhospitable.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:38 PM   #1266
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Eodwine

"Do not worry, my dear. I expect he may have some of that Elvish waybread with him and hardly needs anything from us at all."

She frowned and stared up into his eyes in that way she had, which meant that she wanted a more agreeable answer. He smirked.

"Though it is early for the mead cup, I will ask him if he would like one, if that pleases you. Yes?"
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:28 PM   #1267
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"Yes," Saeryn said. "It may not be too early for him. He could have been walking all night, from what I have heard of elves and their. . .ways. Mead may be refreshing for him."

And so saying, she turned away and joined Ledwyn by the hearth. She picked up the trencher she had filled for herself and sat down. "Will you tell me where you are from, and what you hope to find here?"

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Old 01-17-2012, 08:45 PM   #1268
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The Lady Saeryn interrupted the chain of unpleasant thoughts that were going through Ledwyn’s mind: “Will you tell me where you are from, and what you hope to find here?”

“I come from the West Emnet,” Ledwyn replied. “My husband was killed in an accident, by no fault of his, leaving me and our son Theolain to fair on our own. My young brother fed us and kept us warm for a year, but now he has his own family to feed. He would not abandon his kin, even if it meant for him and his wife to go hungry. I thought that… I mean, we shouldn’t have... I could not continue like that… We…” Ledwyn was unsure of where to procede. “If I could live here, I would not be a burden for him,” she finished.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:05 PM   #1269
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Léof had contributed little to the discussion of the Elf, instead listening to the others and occasionally sneaking glances over at him. He had never seen an Elf, much less spoken with one, and he was more than a little intimidated. But when Eodwine came over to the table and said, "Laerdil has asked me to fetch him bread and water. He will eat where he sits. He invites any who would share his company to go to him, by the fire,” and none of the men seated there seemed inclined to move, Léof’s curiosity finally outweighed his nervousness.

“It’s not right that a visitor should sit by himself,” said Léof, standing up. It took a great deal of will power not to look back as he made his way over to the fireplace, and only the thought that he would make a total fool of himself if he backed out now kept him walking as he drew nearer.

The Elf was even fairer to look upon up close, and for a moment Léof’s tongue seemed to stick to the roof of his mouth. His mind scrabbled for words, and seized upon the first that seemed appropriate. “Welcome,” he said. But of course, the Elf had already been welcomed by far more people than him! Foolish word. “I – I am called Léof.”
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Old 01-21-2012, 06:38 AM   #1270
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“Welcome," said the young man who had approached Laerdil. “I – I am called Léof.”

To the Elf, it was completely natural to observe the young man with all the percipience at his disposal. He read Léof's facial expression, his stance, his verbal hesitation, and the perimeters of his mind, where he found a mix of fear, and a deep well of courage that overcame fear.

"Thank you, Léof, for your kind welcome," the Elf smiled. "I am called Laerdil. "Please sit here close to the fire, if you like."

As Léof sat, Laerdil observed his hands and considered the scents of hay and leather and horses that were in the young man's - the boy's (he was so young) clothing. In truth, most of these Eorlingas had the horse smell on them, but not like this one.

"You are a lover of horses, I deem, and horses love you as well, Léof. How is that so?"
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:07 PM   #1271
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Léof

Léof looked at the Elf, startled. Did he read minds? Some of the old tales spoke of sorcery in the Golden Wood, and Léof was now much closer to believing them than he had been only minutes ago. But he saw no malice in Laerdil’s face, only honest interest, and his tone, too, had been neutral, so Léof tried to take the question at its face.

“It is true,” he answered. “I am the ostler here, and a better post I could not hope to have. I find horses to be… more dependable, and more honest, than most people – and I can be honest with them in return.”


~*~*~

Scyld

Listening to the various comments of Rowenna, Eodwine, and the others, and seeing now how Laerdil looked at young Léof, Scyld was beginning to formulate his own opinion of the Elf: he felt more than a bit like a bug in a jar such as young boys sometimes liked to collect, and he did not care much for the feeling. Given Thornden’s remark on the hearing of Elves, however, Scyld felt strongly inclined to keep his opinions to himself in such a public space.

He was also still uncomfortable with the queer emotions Laerdil’s music had caused in him, and with the emotions Rowenna had described. Then again, perhaps there was something about this Elf that opened people up. If that was so, perhaps he could use it. He just wasn’t quite sure how, yet.

“Well,” he said to Rowenna, resuming their conversation, “Middle-earth has seen enough sorrow just in our short lives; I can hardly imagine all of the sorrows he has had the chance to live through.” Personally, Scyld could not see the lure to live so long. Already, after just a quarter century of life, sometimes he wearied of the games and manipulations. But perhaps there were not bad Elves, as there were bad men. Though he had a difficult time imagining an Elvish Sorn, he doubted it. Better, he thought, to have a life miserable but short than long and sad.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:12 PM   #1272
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Laerdil

“I am the ostler here, and a better post I could not hope to have. I find horses to be… more dependable, and more honest, than most people – and I can be honest with them in return.”

Most people, Laerdil noted, as the words tethered themselves to memories he could see in Léof's thought, played out almost as if they were happening before his own mind's eye, of a father from whom harsh words came, of soldiers treating him as an afterthought at best, or worse, a troublemaker to be beaten down. Set against them, warm beasts whose hearts he had won through his care of them, who knew his sure hands with riding gear and brush and feed. To them he was as one of them.

"Aye, that is maybe of Elves and Men. Beasts are true and whole. There is no guessing or second guessing with them."

Laerdil saw somewhere in Léof's mind that there were important exceptions among Men.

"Long have the Elves struggled to find trust in Middle Earth, not least among ourselves. Have you found any folk worthy of trust?"
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:11 PM   #1273
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“I come from the West Emnet,” Ledwyn replied. “My husband was killed in an accident, by no fault of his, leaving me and our son Theolain to fair on our own. My young brother fed us and kept us warm for a year, but now he has his own family to feed. He would not abandon his kin, even if it meant for him and his wife to go hungry. I thought that… I mean, we shouldn’t have... I could not continue like that… We…” Ledwyn was unsure of where to procede. “If I could live here, I would not be a burden for him,” she finished.

Saeryn laid a hand gently on Ledwyn's, expressing through her touch and look that she did not have to try to explain herself further. She waited until Ledwyn raised her eyes to meet hers before she smiled, and answered.

"Of course you will be welcome to make your home here," she said gently. "We do not turn away the fatherless and the widows." This, at least, she assumed. This had been the rule under Eodwine, and since Athanar's coming, no one had come unexpectedly into the camp to ask for a home. But surely - surely, she thought - they would not turn away this mother and her child. She looked down at Theolain and could not resist running her hand over his ample shock of hair.

"Tell me what you do and how you hope to fit in here."
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:34 PM   #1274
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Ledwyn’s mind was set at rest when Lady Saeryn assured her that she would be able to stay. The Lady was soft-spoken and kind-hearted, Ledwyn deemed. She did not grudge her motherly gesture to Theolain – and Saeryn herself would become mother as well soon enough – though the boy shied away bewilderedly from the strange touch. Ledwyn smiled slightly. This young woman was of high birth and probably the Eorl’s wife, yet she spoke with Ledwyn as if she was a lady too instead of a homeless village girl.

"Tell me what you do and how you hope to fit in here,” the Lady Saeryn asked. A question fit for the Eorl’s wife, Ledwyn thought. She has to know whom she is bringing to the hearth.

“I fear I do not know any trade or craft, if that is what you mean, my Lady,” she said, talking a piece of bread from the trencher that Saeryn brought her. “I am like all the womenfolk of my village: we were not taught skills beyond our necessity. I kept the house while my husband laboured. I can cook, sew, wash, and do all the things that a woman must do, but little beyond that.” Ledwyn bit off a piece of the loaf, gathering her daring. She knew she should not speak out of turn with any Lord or Lady, but Saeryn was gentle and invited conversation. “Are there other women in the Hall? What do they do?”
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:43 PM   #1275
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"There are a few of us," Saeryn replied. She looked up and turned towards the table where the men sat eating. "There is Rowenna, speaking with the men there. You no doubt saw her as you came in, but maybe you did not notice her. And there," she went on, turning to look over her other shoulder, "is Kara, bringing out more bread, as you see. Ginna, Frodides, and Modtryth are in the kitchen. Lady Wynflaed is Lord Athanar's wife, and she does not take as much part in the running of the household as the rest of us. She has a couple hand maidens who help her, Lelige is the head of these. Aedhel, is the healer.

"There are a couple girls. Leodern is Garstan's daughter. And Aedre is Athanar's and Wynflaed's daughter. And that is all," she said. "As you can surmise from the telling, we are sadly outnumbered by the men." She laughed.

"You're coming will be more welcome than you know!" she said. "We are overwhelmed with the work that must be done to keep so many men from going hungry! You have exactly the skills we need, so do not worry that you will be a burden to us. You cannot be, trully. You will not be. Here, as soon as you are finished, I will take you to meet the other women in the kitchen. We will get you settled in directly and find a place for you and your son. It may be rough at first, we don't have very good quarters yet, being still in the process of building, but we'll make do."

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Old 01-28-2012, 07:46 PM   #1276
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Theolain

Theolain quickly finished off the food and milk that Mother gave him, scattering crumbs on the floor. Mother did not seem to hurry, and Theolain was becoming impatient. When will she finish her food? And they already ate this morning, so why is she eating again?

And that other woman, the fat one. Who is she? Why is she talking to Mother, when Mother could be doing something? She touched his head. She is not allowed to touch his head. There are only three people who are allowed – Mother, Uncle, and Aunt. No, Aunt is not allowed. She always wants to do something with his hair. Only Mother and Uncle. Not some fat woman. Why does she never stop talking? Leave Mother alone!

Theolain looked around in search for a muddy stick to play with, like the one Mother took away from him before they came to this strange place. He saw no puddles. But he saw a stick lying near the fireplace. He knew that fire is warm, but it hurts when you touch it. It doesn’t like to be touched, just like Theolain. The boy wished he could bite everyone who touched him just like fire. But the stick wasn’t in the fire. It was on the ground. Does that mean it won’t bite? It was red and glowing on one end. Strange. Sticks are brown, not red. And they only shine when they are wet from a puddle, they don’t glow. Theolain went to investigate.

Ledwyn


The names Lady Saeryn called flew right by Ledwyn. She could not remember so many at once. Only one caught her mind – Lady Wynflaed, Lord Athanar’s wife. How could that be? If Saeryn was not his wife, could she be his sister?

"You're coming will be more welcome than you know!" Saeryn continued. "We are overwhelmed with the work that must be done to keep so many men from going hungry! You have exactly the skills we need, so do not worry that you will be a burden to us. You cannot be, truly. You will not be. Here, as soon as you are finished, I will take you to meet the other women in the kitchen. We will get you settled in directly and find a place for you and your son. It may be rough at first, we don't have very good quarters yet, being still in the process of building, but we'll make do."

“I thank you, my Lady,” Ledwyn said. She took the last bits of egg from the platter and put it aside. “Is the kitchen -” she begun, and then noticed her son reaching to a hot coal that somehow fell out of the hearth. “Theolain!” He looked up innocently. Ledwyn took him by the hand and led him away from the danger. “I thought you knew that fire is hot.” Theolain looked back longingly.
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:35 PM   #1277
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Saeryn looked on curiously as Ledwyn snatched her son out of danger and scolded him mildly. She reflected that soon she would be having the same cares as this woman had. And the same fears. She smiled as Ledwyn took the boy away and then stood up and picked up the trenchers from the breakfast.

"You were about to ask about the kitchen?" she said. "Come, I will show you." She led the way down the corridor a few steps to the door of the kitchen and went in ahead of her. "Kara, Frodides, and Ginna," she announced. "This is Ledwyn, and she's going to stay with us. This is her son, Theolain."
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:24 PM   #1278
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Ledwyn inclined her head to each of the women in turn, exchanging some words with each. Work was soon found for her, and, sitting Theolain down in a corner, she got about to doing it.

Theolain did not like sitting in the corner. He did not like sitting at all, unless it was when someone told him stories. He watched Mother and the other women run about, cutting, boiling, frying, cooking, baking, washing, and doing all the other chores around the kitchen. But Theolain got tired of them soon, and seeing that Mother was concentrated on the food and more talking he stood up and went to explore the world behind the kitchen door.

Men were sitting around tables, eating. They all eat too much. Theolain did not need to eat this much, or this long. Was eating the only thing they do at this place? Eating, cutting, baking, frying, and eating?

But they also have a red stick.

It was still beside the hearth, where he had first seen it, though it did not glow as brightly. He came to it, tripping over his legs twice in his haste. No one wanted to stop him. Why didn’t Mother let him take it? The stick is not in the fire. He kneeled before it on hands and knees.

Slowly but surely, savouring the moment – sweet as fulfilled curiosity was, it was made sweeter by the knowledge that if Mother had been there she would never have let him get so near to the forbidden stick – he brought his face closer to it, examining how the light shifted slightly whenever he breathed. Eyes shining, he muttered something inaudible in his own language, as if talking to this strange stick that responded to his words with a renewed redness. Finally, he lifted his hand and took hold of the living creature inside the stick . . .

. . . and immediately jerked it back, as pain shot through his fingers. This is not fair! Why did the stick bite? Sticks do not hurt Theolain. Fire hurts, but fire is in the fireplace. Fire does not live in sticks; the sticks live in the fire, and the fire lives in the fireplace! This was a trick! The stick tricked him! This is not fair!

Theolain loudly let the world know about his distress. Angry and indignant at the red stick, he took it and threw it at the wall. He wailed again as the red creature bit his hand once more.
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:24 PM   #1279
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Léof nodded, not looking the Elf in the face. The intensity of Laerdil’s gaze and the depth in his eyes was… not frightening, exactly. Awe-inspiring, in a way. Thinking back on it later, Léof would find that he had no word to describe the emotion the Elf evoked in him. But just now, Léof found it easier to think without making eye contact. “Yes, some,” he said, thinking of his sister Cerwyn, and Quin, and to slightly lesser degrees Eodwine and Thornden.

His train of thought was cut off by a sudden loud wail just behind him. Léof jumped with a shout, startled nearly out of his wits. He turned in time to see an unfamiliar young boy pick up a red-hot stick and hurl it with all the might in his small arm against the wall.

Léof hastened to the screaming boy’s side and knelt beside him, drawing him close with one arm and using his other hand to turn the boy’s burned hand palm up. Sure enough, the entire hand was already bright red.

“Someone bring a pail of cold water!” he said.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:43 PM   #1280
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Theolain let the strange man look at his hand. As long as he was not touching his head, he was allowed. Theolain’s palm became redder by the second. The creature that lived in the stick somehow entered his hand.

It hurt when the creature entered, just like fire hurt. He watched the redness spread and darken. What if the creature will make him red head to toe? Theolain waved his hand to shake the creature off, but that only made it more painful.

He tried to tell the man about the treacherous red stick. He pointed at it and showed exactly what it did. Then he said a word, one of the few words that big people seemed to understand. “Why?”
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