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Old 11-07-2009, 01:03 PM   #561
Nienna
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“Lord Eodwine is the eorl, and almost everybody is descendent of Aldor the Old,” Javan replied. “Now you mind your own business and quit yelling at Cnebba.”

Ædre was in shock that this boy, who seemed no older than herself, would even dare to speak to her that way. Now she was furious.

“You vile rascal you! I’ll yell at who ever I want! My father is the Eorl around here now; appointed by King Eomer himself. Look around. Whose belongings are being unloaded from the wagons? Is it Eodwine’s? No! It is my father’s belongings, my belongings. Eodwine is not here. We are, and we are here to stay so you better get used to it.”

Javan looked like he was about to reply but Ædre cut him off.

“You have no right to come over here and yell at me and disrespect my family. At least I know who my ancestors are; you probably don’t even know your own father,” she said scathingly.

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Old 11-07-2009, 10:45 PM   #562
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Brawling? Already? This was no good news indeed. Soldiers especially should know to obey orders and changes in command seamlessly. She hoped that few of her husband's men were involved, and filed the thought away for future thought.

"You flatter me, Lilige," she said. "I am all too aware of age's encroachment. But thank you, nonetheless. I fear it shall be my duty to outshine all others at the banquet tonight." She thought a moment. "Green, I think, to stress the common bond shared by those of the Riddermark. Perhaps the dark one, with the slits in the sleeves? I think that will be fine enough."

Again she opened the wooden box and drew forth a single pendant with a dark green stone. She had only been to the Glittering Caves once, when business had called them to Helm's Deep, but she had been entranced with the strange beauty of the caves and the stranger folk who delved them. Athanar had bought it for her right there, "on a whim," as he had said. She smiled at the memory. "Yes, I think that will do quite well."
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Old 11-07-2009, 11:25 PM   #563
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Coenred made his escape and looked for Hilderinc in the courtyard, soon finding him speaking to one of his men. The soldier walked away quickly, and Coen raised an eyebrow to himself. He said nothing when he approached Hilderinc. The man showed great promise, naturally taking leadership among the soldiers and demonstrating great responsibility. Coen hoped that he did not seem as if he did not trust the man, but he was not about to give any of his men too much freedom without supervision - especially not yet.

"Sir, everything is proceeding well, the horses have been stabled and men are unloading the rest of the supplies. We should be done in no time. There have been no problems."

Coen nodded to the soldier. "Thank you, Hilderinc. When the supplies are unloaded -- " Coen cut off as he saw the man from the council, Thornden, approaching him purposefully.

“I can show the men where they’ll be staying so that they can finish the unloading.”

"Thank you, sir," Coen responded, turning back to Hilderinc with a crooked grin. "Well, have the men report to me."

When all the soldiers had saluted and formed up in front of Coenred - including Hilderinc, whom he thanked - he scanned them briefly. "Where is Áforglæd?" he asked, observing their faces again.
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:40 AM   #564
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Javan's quick temper rose swiftly as Aedre made her scathing, false remarks about Eodwine's loss of eorldom. It hurt to hear her speaking about him as though he were dead and her father had taken his place. A reply rose instantly to his lips, but this girl spoke before he could even utter a word.

"You have no right to come over here and yell at me and disrespect my family" ("I wasn't yelling at you!" Javan interjected, ignored.) "At least I know who my ancestors are; you probably don't even know your own father."

He looked at her and blinked, and then the meaning of what she had said struck him.

"Why you filthy little wretch!" he cried, his face turning pale with anger, and then red with fury. His hands clenched hard by his side. "You take that back!"

"You apologize for calling me a filthy wretch!" she screamed at him. She stepped closer to make her demand more demanding.

"You insulted my father!" Javan yelled back, using his right hand to push her away. She stumbled back, and then came forward again, swinging her fists. Javan jerked to avoid getting hit, but her left hand caught him beneath the jaw, and without thinking, he swung in return.

--

The commotion at the edge of the courtyard caught Thornden's eye. Shrill, angry voices rose above the general hubbub of work. Children's voices, no less. He turned and looked sharply in their direction. The boys had not had a quarrel since Eodwine's marriage day. What would make them fight now?

He caught sight of them the instant that Javan struck out. To his horror, the one his foolish little brother hit this time wasn't Cnebba or Garmund. It was a girl, and he sent her toppling straight to the ground.

The child looked no older than Javan, and she was a pretty thing, all told, though now she was covered with dirt, her hair was tousled, and her nose was bleeding.

Thornden heaved a silent sigh of frustration. Coenred had called the men to attention and they were all standing there, and he was not free to move. He suddenly realized how unused to strict discipline he had become when it occurred to him that under Eodwine's rule, he could have left immediately and dealt with it. He looked at Coenred and waited.

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Old 11-08-2009, 01:42 PM   #565
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As Coenred called him to assemble all men, Hilderinc briefly wondered what is the commander going to say to Áforglæd's visage. It was possible, though, that he might not notice – but that option became highly improbable after Áforglæd was not found.

"Where is Áforglæd?" Coenred asked.

Hilderinc was wondering about it himself. It was improbable that the soldier went to hiding, it would make no sense to hide away completely, mainly, there was really nowhere to hide in an unfamiliar place. Hilderinc initially expected Áforglæd to be by the well or in the stables, but since all the men from the stables came, it seemed illogical that Áforglæd would have remained there, especially as the order to assemble was clear.

Hilderinc opened his mouth to reply to the captain when he caught Scyrr's eye. The guard's expression was the one Hilderinc knew, Scyrr looked like this always when somebody did something he disapproved of. Right now, his gaze piercing Hilderinc seemed to suggest something like "if you cause trouble to Áforglæd, you will have me to answer to". Hilderinc shrugged. He would not cause any more trouble than what Áforglæd already did to himself. And if Scyrr was worried that Hilderinc would report Áforglæd's brawl now, he was foolish. Why would he? The commander was not asking about it, and Hilderinc had no reason to mention it, as it would not help finding the place where missing soldier was now in any way.

"I don't know, sir," Hilderinc said to Coenred. Nobody else seemed to know either. "He hasn't been in the courtyard nor in the stables. Should I look for him?"

At the same moment, he noticed that one of the soldiers, the local who has joined them a few minutes ago, turned his head, looking at something back in the courtyard. Hilderinc did not turn, but heard raised voices. Áforglæd, again? No, these were children fighting. The commander must have spotted them as well.
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Old 11-08-2009, 03:39 PM   #566
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“No, Degas,” Saeryn tried to say, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper. She cleared her throat and tried again. “No, Degas,” she said, her voice stronger. “We must not have an uprising, of all things. That would be treason against the crown, if the nobles rose up for the reason you have said. Too many men would die. It would be better for Eodwine and I to step down.”

“It won’t to come to that,” Degas said. “And you and Eodwine should never have to step down!”

“I know.” She swiped at her tears and drew a shaking breath. “I know. But what am I to do, Degas? He has more men-at-arms than I do, not to mention that he has brought some of the guards from Edoras. I couldn’t fight him, even if I wanted to. And I can’t argue with him! He’s so. . .he’s so. . .commanding.”

She slipped down from the back of the horse and walked a few feet away. Degas dismounted and followed her, holding Gleowyn’s reins.

“There’s more, immediate concerns, though, and we can’t stay out here much longer. There is to be a banquet tonight and Athanar plans on presenting himself to the people. He said Thornden or I may speak then, too. And he said that if we had any concerns to speak to him about, we can beforehand. But, Degas, I don’t think it would do any good. He says he’s just acting for the king and that Eodwine himself would have it this way. Don’t get angry, Degas, but don’t you think it would be better if we all agreed and worked the same way, together?”
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:12 PM   #567
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"Perhaps 'rise' was the wrong word to use," Degas murmured, pulling his sister into his arms. He hated how weakly she allowed herself to be moved. "I would not dream of an uprising. However we live in a civilized place, ruled by a just king. Surely if the troubles at Scarburg were brought to his attention, he would realize the error of the situation and rectify it."

He smoothed her hair back behind her ear, and kissed her forehead. "Saery, while none would rise in arms, many would raise their voices. You do not stand alone, and I will not hear of you stepping down. This a matter to be handled diplomatically. And while our family is not the greatest of noble families, we are allied with many who would support your rights.

"Saer, the cornerstone of a successful kingship is to respect the rights and properties of nobles and peasants.

"I am not saying that we should rise against anyone in arms. I am saying that we should seek counsel, and that we should not merely let this matter rest.

"Sister, this is not about you alone. Think of your husband, who, if you gave up your lands and nobility, might return, healthy but weak, to a loss of everything he owns and deserves. Think of the child in your belly that was conceived as the heir to title, lands, and alliances. You cannot let this matter drop, for the sake of the stability of Rohan's hierarchy, and for the sake of the babe that grows inside you."
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:48 PM   #568
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Lilige smiled. "A good choice," she said, retrieving the gown. "My Lady, you look as stunning now as when I first came to your service."

Now admittedly, she had only entered Lady Wynflaed's service five months ago, but the remark sounded flattering anyway.

"My Lady, you will certainly outshine all the other ladies at the banquet. You always do," she added, not without a certain trace of humor in her voice as she remembered one night in particular at Edoras.

"Have you anything more for me to do?" Lilige asked. The trunks were unloaded, and she did not wish to be idling while there was so much to do.
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Old 11-08-2009, 06:21 PM   #569
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Ædre didn’t know what she was doing. She had never been in a fight before. She only knew that this boy infuriated her and that she just wanted to make him stop. She started swinging her fists without remembering that she was fighting a stranger. She usually only had these sorts of outbursts with her brothers and they were much older and bigger than her. They usually laughed at her and picked up which would make her more mad.

Finding herself on the ground in the dirt was a surprise. Her jaw hurt and she realized that this boy must have hit her. She got up, not wanting to seem the weak one, and lunged for Javan a second time.

“You hit me!” Ædre screamed.

Javan quickly tried to back up after he realized that she was coming after him again. He didn’t want to lose control of himself and hit her again.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:08 PM   #570
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Coenred was about to respond regarding Áforglæd, when he followed Hilderinc's gaze to a fight in the courtyard. There were two children, and one of them... Ædre! Oh no... She was screaming at the boy, looking worse for wear.

"Áforglæd will have to wait," he said quickly, speaking to no one in particular anymore as his eyes were locked on the children. "If you find him before I do, tell him it would be best to be ready to report to me in the barracks before I have to look for him all over the Mead Hall." Coen was growing steadily more frustrated.

"Follow Thornden if he does not mind taking you to the barracks right now. I expect the rest of the supplies to be unpacked as quickly as possible, then keep to the barracks until I can have a word with you all."

His words came out in a rush, and he had no time to worry about whether Thornden wished to take the soldiers without their captain, or if he wanted to leave the problem of the children to Coen. He wondered why the young man had not stepped forward to deal with it in the first place - he seemed to be one used to running things around here. Perhaps he was waiting for more of an answer from Coen, but...

"Ædre!" he called as he stepped quickly toward the brawling children, all at once angry and worried - worried both for Ædre and what Athanar might think. "What is going on?" Coen grabbed Ædre by the shoulders - not roughly - and looked at the boy, presumably a local.

"I don't think your father would approve of you striking a girl," he said gravely to the boy, not waiting for an answer from either of them. He then glared silently, still expecting answers. His only experience with children he had was with his younger siblings, and he felt a little silly, but he knew that he should protect Ædre, and indeed all of Athanar's family.
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:26 PM   #571
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The girl came back at him, still wanting a fight. Javan had to stave her off, but after that first blow, his temper had suddenly cooled and he would not strike out again. When she had fallen, crumpled in the dirt, realization of what he had done dawned on him.

Then the captain came rushing towards them, calling out sharply. Javan’s heart leaped into his throat for a brief instant. The captain snatched Ædre back and held her off Javan. Javan stopped and stood upright. “What is going on?” he demanded. He fixed Javan with a keen, disapproving glance. “I don’t think your father would approve of you striking a girl.”

“My father’s not here,” Javan said. His eyes flashed menacingly in Ædre’s direction, “But I do have a father, and I know who he is.” There was a silence. The two children glared at each other and Coenred remained silently in the dark about what he just said. Javan collected his wits and answered Coenred properly. He did feel a little ashamed for hitting her, but it wasn’t really his fault, after all. “But, no, you’re right. He wouldn’t be pleased about it at all.”

--

Saeryn

“I think of the baby all the time, and I know that whatever happens now is probably going to affect it. I know. I have to do something, but I don’t know what. He makes me feel like a little girl, like I’m being foolish to put up a fuss, and that I’m throwing a sort of child’s tantrum. I don’t know how to not let the matter drop without making things miserable for everybody.”

“If you can’t argue it with Athanar, you must take it to the king.”

“I’ve taken it to the king!” Saeryn cried, stepping back from him. Her voice was shrill with vexation. “I spoke to the king while Eodwine was in Edoras, and he insisted that he send a man to take Eodwine's place."
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:12 PM   #572
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"Then we beseech him on your behalf." Degas ran his hands through his hair in frustration. "He must see reason. He must see that there is difference between granting Athanar Eorldom and granting him your husband's lands! Yes, in this instance now Eodwine - you - would be a landlord under Athanar's rule, but that is not the same as giving all of your things and the allegiance of your household to the man!"

Degas let Gleowyn graze on her own, reins draped over his pommel. She would not wander far.

"I know exactly how you feel though," he continued. "The man is insufferable. I would say it is like being around Father, except father would never have spoken to a woman - or even a little girl - with the same condescension Athanar directed at you. And he has the most galling way of making everything we say or do seem childish, simply by suggesting that it is. It's as if he can only see the reality he permits to exist! How to you speak reason to a man that prefers obedience to justice? He treats us like unruly children, never mind that he was lord by my age, just as I am. Never mind that his wife was with child at a younger age than you. Never mind that!"

Degas ranted now, because he would not let himself later, around anyone but Saeryn. He knew that here, in the outer fields, no one could hear him, no one was near enough to read his lips. And he did not betray his emotion with physical motion; they would not see his agitation from afar.

"I intend to summon Lin's brother Farahil. He is older than us, and he is the nephew of Imrahil. He is level-headed, and will be able to advise us. And unlike summoning Adragil, who is as loud as he is huge, Farahil's presence will not raise suspicion, since it is well known that he and I are close. There are marital matters that need to be discussed with Lin's family at any rate, and I would have needed to travel to Gondor. Two birds, sister. I'll make arrangements for my wedding, and we can see what Farahil thinks should be done about... about all this. And if he passes through Minas Tirith, he would bear news of your husband. Without a father or brother, Saery... I wish I was better placed to help you now. I wish I wasn't so..." He clenched his fists hard enough that his nails dug into his palms. "I can't fix it, Saer. I don't know how."

He realized he was shaking, and took a deep breath to try to calm himself. Had Eodwine known? Had he guessed this would happen when he asked Degas to protect Saeryn and their children as her dowry? Had he known even then that he was falling ill? But somebody would have noticed... If he had known, and never mentioned it... It would have been just like him, working through, not complaining, giving all of his time to others.

Degas was angry. If Eodwine had foreseen his own failing, he should have warned them. This could have been averted. Degas didn't know how, yet he was sure...

This was all wrong.

Every bit of it.

And he was helpless, being treated as a spoiled child.
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:18 AM   #573
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Saeryn looked down thoughtfully at the grass and listened while her brother made his plan to ask Farahil to come. That would be well. She felt another ally would be good.

“Without father or brother, Saery. . . I wish I was better placed to help you now. I wish I wasn’t so. . .” Saeryn looked sharply at him. Was he blaming himself for something? “I can’t fix it, Saer, I don’t know how.”

Hot tears suddenly pricked her eyes. She swallowed at a lump at her throat. Quietly she moved over to him. He was looking at the ground, his hands balled up into fists by his side as he stood lost in thought.

“It’s alright, Degas,” she said. He looked at her. She smiled a little. “I didn’t expect you to fix it for me. I have to figure out my own problems someday. You mustn’t blame yourself. You are here, and that is everything to me right now. I do not know what agonies I would be in if I were alone in all this, but your very presence comforts me.

“We will confront this more on the morrow, if that is what we must do. Now, let us gain control of our emotions and go back, and prepare ourselves for the banquet. Speaking with you has helped to harden my resolve and my feeling that I am right. I will fight. If not for myself, then for my child.”

They turned and went back to Gleowyn. After they had mounted and Degas had turned her back towards home, Saeryn said, “You really think that Athanar is trying to take both eorlship and our lands and household for good? That’s not what the king sent him here for. He’s just here until Eodwine comes back. I think that’s why your so mad and I’m only half so. You think it’s permanent and I think it’s not. I’m just worried about the short-term, but you raise fears that he will never leave.”
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:27 AM   #574
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Degas steered Gleowyn with his knees, letting his hands rest on the pommel lazily. "I think that if Eodwine does not live, you will be hard-pressed to oust a family that has comfortably settled in your home. I think they would give you what they call 'special treatment' and allow you to stay, and they may not even mean it as an insult. I do not think they are malicious or manipulative, and I thought Athanar's wife was quite charming. I merely think that they mustn't be allowed to treat you as an inferior. You are graciously allowing them to stay in your home, on your lands. It is not the reverse."
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:45 PM   #575
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Garstan and Stigend heard the cries and as fathers immediately recognised them as voices of children. They dropped the loads they were carrying and ran towards the screaming. Harreld followed them.

They saw Coenred holding the young daughter of the new eorl, her nose bleeding and her clothes all messed up. And Javan was there looking both guilty and firm, and they heard his words: “But, no, you’re right. He wouldn’t be pleased about it at all.”

Stigend sighed first from relief realising that Cnebba was not the culprit this time... but it didn't look good either. He could not make out Coenred's expression in reaction to Javan's words and had it hard to come to grips with the situation. But he felt a need to act before things could take a turn for worse.

"Javan! What is it? Now go back to your work and let us settle this thing... and don't think Thornden will not hear of this." With a commanding wave of hand Stigend hushed Javan away from the situation - aided with the grave looks of Garstan and Harreld. Javan had no intention to disobey but ran away with relief.

"Sorry about that, Cap'n... Coenred it was?" Garstan addressed the Captain.

Coenred nodded - looking like he was not quite sure how to react to the sudden interruption.

"Javan there is a bit hot-headed lad, we should know that, but in no way would he have assaulted a young girl unprovoked..." Harreld voiced firmly looking at Coenred to the eyes.

"So what happened?" Stigend queried.

Garstan had observed Coenred's expressions closely and then went for the real issue: "I'm afraid there is no way we can keep this little incident secret to the benefit of all... but what's your bet on not making a mountain out of the molehill?"
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:53 PM   #576
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"No, Lilige," said Wynflaed, "I should like some time alone, in fact. You are dismissed until the banquet."

As Lilige turned to go Wynflaed held up her hand. "You will, however, come and fetch me if you think there are any matters that need my attention? I fear my husband might be difficult to find."

Lilige curtseyed and left, closing the door behind her. She paused for a moment outside, wondering what to do next. She headed toward the courtyard. Hopefully there would be something to do there.

As she left the Meadhall, she stopped for a moment to take in the view of the bustling courtyard. Her gaze moved casually over the scenery. Then she frowned. Coenred was standing near two screaming children. As she watched, three other men ran over. The young boy was dismissed, and Lilige shook her head. Evidently brawling is common here, she thought disapprovingly. Still, it was just between children this time. No harm done. Then she saw who was standing with the four men.

Lady Aedre's face was covered in blood. She was scowling furiously. Lilige wavered a bit on her feet. "Lady Aedre!" she called, horrified, as she ran up. "My Lady, what's happened to you? We must get you to your mother."

This would never have happened in Edoras, Lilige thought. Oh, poor, poor Aedre! What will her mother say? And Lord Athanar! They will be furious.

"Come, Aedre," Lilige urged. "Let's go to your mother. I'm sure she'll know what to do."

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Old 11-11-2009, 06:13 PM   #577
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Saeryn and Degas

“Yes, that is how I think of it, too. But now that they have come, I have been reduced to a visitor in my own house.” She paused. They were coming near the Hall now. Degas was riding towards the stables from the back entrance, so they could avoid the prying eyes of all the people in the courtyard. “How long will you be able to stay, Degas?” she asked.

“As long as you need me, sister,” he said. She hugged him around the waist.

They rode into the stables and Degas stopped Gleowyn. Saeryn slid off. “Thank you for coming to get me,” she said, looking up at him. “It eased my mind a great deal to speak with you.” She turned and walked away. She paused and turned again. “Degas...promise me one thing. Don’t start an argument tonight. Whether we feel that I am being treated right or not, we have to keep a single front before the people.”

Degas smiled a strained smile and hugged Saeryn around the shoulders. "For a moment there I thought of saying, incredulously, "Who do you take me for?" until I remembered that it's not so long ago that I probably would have challenged the man to a duel as a matter of foolish pride. He weighs more than me yes, but I'd bet a great deal I'm faster and could win..."

He shushed Saeryn with his hand before she could say anything.

"Don't worry, sister. The troubles of nobles should never be made the troubles of commoners, and this Emnet has enough problems without our revealing to the people that we question our superiors." He swore. "Really, Saer, it would be a nightmare if commoners got it into their heads that it is acceptable to talk back. We protect and govern them in return for their loyalty and obedience. As long as we are good rulers, commoners absolutely must remain good subjects. No, we can't show them by example that they may question or refuse. Upon both of our honors, Saeryn, I swear that I will not fight with anyone tonight, no matter how I am baited to do so."

"Thank you," she said, her voice hushed. She smiled up at him. "I love you." She hugged him one last time before turning, at last, and leaving him alone to put Gleowyn up.

--
Javan

The courtyard was not an ideal place to have a fight. Everyone swooped down on them almost instantly, like vultures to carrion. He felt less and less sure himself with each new bystander.

“Javan! What is it?” Javan turned to face the carpenter and lifted his shoulders and hands in a slight shrug, giving the impression that he had little answer to offer. “Get back to your work and let us settle this thing.” Javan turned away, and Stigend sent after him, “And don’t think Thornden won’t hear of this!” Javan dug his hands into his pockets and his shoulders slumped forward. Several paces away, he turned his head to look over his shoulder. The men were talking, and then up came the maid, Lilige, running across the courtyard with her petticoats flashing about her knees.

“Lady Ædre!” Javan grimaced with disgust. He could hear her shrill voice from where he stood, and as she came nearer, he could hear her even better. “My lady, what happened to you?” My lady? She’s a rude girl! He paused, though, to hear what else she said. “Come, Ædre. Let’s go to your mother. I’m sure she’ll know what to do.”

Javan ducked his head lower and slunk away into the stables. The place was filled with the sounds of horses eating, slowly moving in their stalls, and sometimes nickering to one another. Léof was no where in sight. Silently, Javan let himself into Flíthaf’s stall. The horse turned his head from the manger and looked at him, then returned to his hay. Javan went to the farthest corner from the door and sat down.

He had not been there for long before he heard Garmund’s and Cnebba’s voices outside the stall. They were whispering to each other, not as though they did not wish to be heard, but merely because no one else was near and for some reason, to speak quietly seemed most appropriate. Then Garmund’s face peered over the door. His eyes met Javan’s and he turned back out.

“He’s here.” Cnebba came up to the door and looked over. “Can we come in?” Garmund asked. Javan nodded. They both came into the stall. Flíthaf flicked his tail and went on eating. Javan stood up and leaned against the wall, folding his arms in front of him.

“Well...am I wanted?”

Garmund and Cnebba shook their heads no.

“Listen, you two. Just ‘cause she’s the daughter of the new eorl doesn’t mean she can boss us around like she was trying to do to you, Cnebba. She’s just a girl and she isn’t any older than me, and she’s new here. You don’t have to take everything she gives you without speaking up for yourself.”

“But she’ll get mad, then, and hit us, like she did to you,” Garmund said. “And we’re not allowed. . .we’re not supposed to hit girls back.”

“Cnebba told you, huh?” Javan asked, giving him a keen glance. He stood up right and let his hands come down to a more relaxed position.

“Yes.”

“Do you blame me?”

“I don’t think so. You were just sticking up for Cnebba.”

“Well, sure,” Javan said, a spark of fierce loyalty lighting his eyes. “If I didn’t say anything, she’d intimidate him so much he’d do whatever she asked whenever she asked it! Then she’d try taking you down, and I’d be next. She had to be stopped.”

“Lord Athanar is going to be very angry,” Cnebba said in a very small voice.

Javan folded his arms again and leaned back once more against the wall. “I don’t care,” he said defiantly.

“He might throw you in the dungeon,” Garmund said.

“We don’t have a dungeon,” Javan reminded him.

“He might tie you up.”

“Eodwine did that much.”

“He might beat you.”

Javan’s chin tilted upward slightly. He pressed his lips hard together before answering. “I’ll bear it.”

There was a heavy silence among the three of them. A sound drew all three pairs of eyes towards the door. Footsteps walking down between the stalls. They froze, waiting for it to pass. But the footsteps stopped outside the stall.

After finishing speaking with Degas, Saeryn headed through the stables to the courtyard. On her way past, she looked into Flíthaf’s stall to make sure that he had been put back into his rightful place. To her surprise, the stall not only contained the horse but also the three boys of Scarburg.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

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Old 11-12-2009, 03:57 PM   #578
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Cnebba

"What are you doing here?"


The boys exchanged glances.

"We are talking, my lady," Cnebba said brightly and in his most courteous manner. He smiled unsurely, he didn't know if this was a sufficient reply. He added:

"About kids' things."

His smile turned smug. He remembered the dozens of times when adults had dismissed his questions by answering they were talking about adults' things. Now the adults could get a taste of their own medicine.

~*~

Modtryth

Modtryth had hung the meat to dry and was about to go back to fetch more stuff to the kitchen, when a bruised-looking soldier popped in. He looked around suspiciously.

"Food," he said, looking at Modtryth suspiciously.

Modtryth crossed her arms on her chest. "The cooks are currently working on the dinner, which will be served soon enough. I trust your lord has given you sufficient provisions to manage for the earlier part of the day."

The man's eyes narrowed a bit. "Heartless cow," he mumbled and turned to leave.

"Wait," Modtryth said, more out of duty than out of any willingness to help the stranger. "Here's water and a clean rug. Those bruises could do with a cleaning."

The man glanced at Modtryth. "I can take care of myself, woman," he said and left the kitchen.

"What a nasty man," Ginna exclaimed empathically as the door closed after the newcomer.
Modtryth waved the complaint away. She was used to such behavior, any person with more experience in the serving jobs than the young noblewoman would be.

Soon the other door opened. In stepped another newly arrived soldier. Undoubtedly asking for food like the previous one. Sighing, Modtryth took a step forwards to meet the man. She clenched her jaw. A quick look at the soldier told her that he was not of the type to be bossed around by kitchen women like the previous one had been.

Modtryth offered the man just enough smile not to be impolite. "Good day to you! How can I help you?"

Last edited by Thinlómien; 11-19-2009 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:54 PM   #579
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Crabannan waited in the Hall with an enormously heavy trunk, waiting to be told what to do with it. This was his fifth trip from the wagons to the Hall and they were making significant headway. Trying not to think about the weight, he looked around, admiring the rough timbers and clean, gray stone - and suddenly he realized how much of his own sweat he had poured into the construction of the edifice. It took him aback for a moment. He frowned in surprise.

Curses, he thought. I think I enjoyed it. I may have even made a friend or two.

The notion made him uneasy for some reason he could not pinpoint. For weeks on end his sword and bow had lain dormant, his hands more frequently taking up the harp at the end of a long, satisfying day of labor. They would sit around the fire, drink, play music, and sing of actions bold and violent. But their weapons had been the hammer and chisel, the plow and the scythe.

He dropped the trunk.

"Mordor take it," he muttered, "I'm hungry." He stomped off towards the kitchen, reflecting grimly that if these fine new nobles from Edoras continued as they had begun, he might need his sword and bow very soon indeed. There had been two fights already today among the children and he guessed that those same tensions were present in the adults, only held back behind the mask of manners.

Crabannan shook his head. No, if it came to trouble, he'd clear out right away. He had no desire, indeed, no right to get involved.

He strode at a swift pace into the kitchen, buried in his thoughts, and ran smack into a large soldier. He jumped back in surprise, and the soldier stumbled, regained his feet, and turned around looking very irritated. Crabannan winced for a moment, thinking he recognized the soldier, but then realized the fellow was new.

"Pardon," said Crabannan. "Apparently I'm not the only one looking for something to eat." He raised an eyebrow hopefully at Modtryth.

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Old 11-13-2009, 01:24 AM   #580
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Wynflaed had finished arranging her personal effects just so on a sideboard--Lilige would see them there, remember their exact positions, and ensure they were always where they were supposed to be--when she heard the scuffle of swift footsteps coming down the hallway.

It was Lilige, looking moderately flustered, and--AEdre? Her daughter had dust on her dress, and--her mothering heart surged in her--blood upon her fair face. Wynflaed could not stop the look of horror on her countenance.

"AEdre, what happened?" she said. Then, more calmly, "Lilige, a basin of water and some soft rags, please. I shall, when you are finished, wish to know how you learned of this."
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:00 AM   #581
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After the rest of the things have been unloaded, the soldiers followed the tall guy - Thornden was his name, if Hilderinc remembered correctly. The barracks were but one room, not too big for all people to fit in – Hilderinc could tell that many of the soldiers disliked it on first sight. Well, this is where we are going to live, he thought, we need to cope with that. Given the overall state of the Mead Hall, it was nothing that could not have been expected. Of course, Hilderinc was used to all kinds of places from his long life as a soldier – some better, much larger spaces, furnished almost luxuriously for everyone. But he had seen also many barracks far worse than this one. It was not that bad for a soldier's taste – it would probably score among the average ones. Maybe in the top of the lower half. At least it was clean. And Hilderinc also noticed that it was easily accessible, and all parts of the Hall were easily accessible from here, it was easy to get to the courtyard, to the stables, to the kitchen...

Kitchen... that reminded him of how hungry he was. He really hoped that the meal will be ready soon. And he was probably not the only one, he thought, looking at the rest of the soldiers moving around the place and unpacking their valuable possessions. Even Áforglæd said...

Now the idea struck Hilderinc. Áforglæd spoke about food. Was it possible that he would go to the kitchens, and that was why they could not find him? Inspired by the idea, Hilderinc immediately turned around and went to confirm his theory. He walked outside into the great hall, where he stopped. Another sudden stroke of inspiration flashed through his mind. The kitchen outbuilding was set next to the Hall itself. Wouldn't it make sense that there was another entrance from inside the Hall? He looked around curiously. Small door in the corridor on one side seemed to confirm his thoughts. Encouraged to test his theory, he marched to it and dauntlessly opened it.

He was right! It was the kitchen, warm and full of steam and smoke. Air was filled with pleasant smell of food being prepared. To Hilderinc's slight disappointment, though, there was no sign of Áforglæd, only four women busy around the fireplace.

"Good day to you!" one of them welcomed him with a smile. She was about as old as him, he noticed, or maybe a bit younger. She did not look like most of the Eorling women, her hair was even darker than Hilderinc's, but her eyes again slightly lighter than his. Despite being far from the image of a perfect Eorling woman as most of the soldiers would see it, she had some dark beauty about her. "How can I help you?" she asked.

"Good day to you too," Hilderinc replied politely, looking down at the woman; she was slightly shorter than him. "I am sorry to disturb you, I was hoping to find here one of our soldiers who has gone missing, he... oof!" At that moment, something heavy bumped into him from behind and he lost his balance, but quickly regained it again and turned around. The man standing in the door seemed vaguely familar. Hilderinc did not manage this far to get into much contact with the locals, but the man's dark hair and eyes were once again something not completely usual here. Was he perhaps one of those who were in the courtyard with that Lithor fellow?

"Pardon," the newcomer said. "Apparently I'm not the only one looking for something to eat."

"Well, I was not strictly looking for something to eat, as I was just saying to the lady here before I was interrupted," Hilderinc said in a calm tone. "Although I am also looking forward to some meal, that's for certain." He turned to the kitchen-woman and then back to the newcomer.

"But I was looking for one of our men, about as tall as you, long blond hair, actually you might have seen him in the courtyard, didn't you?" he finished his question with an implication. If the man was indeed one of those who were with Lithor, he would remember Áforglæd.

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Old 11-13-2009, 12:04 PM   #582
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It was Hilderinc, Crabannan realized - the fellow who had come in with the new lord. He smirked."Tall with long blond hair? You're going to have to give me a little more to work with than that, since you described your entire race to me. Though - I can't say I've made a point of trying to get to know any of your men."

He started to walk past Hilderinc.
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Old 11-13-2009, 02:01 PM   #583
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Despite the awful day, Cnebba’s answer amused Saeryn. She grinned broadly and under normal circumstances would have laughed, but matters had been too disappointing so far today for that. Still, Cnebba always said something funny with his attempts to sound grown up.

“Very well. Talk about kids’ things, but not in Flíthaf’s stall. I think he might get tired of so much company.” She unlatched the stall door and opened it to let the boys file out. As Javan passed her last, she grasped his shoulder and held him back while she fastened the door again. “Alright, Javan, tell me what’s up.” She hadn’t missed his downcast expression. The two younger boys huddled at the corner of the aisle, peeking around the stall corner to watch.

“If it please you, my lady,” Javan said, “I’d rather not tell you. You’ll probably hear it from someone else soon enough. You’ll be angry, like everyone else, and you won’t understand.”

“Try me,” Saeryn said. “If you’ve done something wrong, I’m the first person you should tell because I can help you more than anyone else. Plus, I can understand a lot. Trust me.”

“You can’t help me with this. Lord Athanar will be very angry and I doubt anyone will be able to stop him from doing whatever he decides to do.”

Saeryn looked quizzically at him and he looked at the ground. “Javan. . .what did you do?”

“I punched Ædre.”

Saeryn felt her heart beat a little harder just for a second. “Who’s Ædre?” she asked, but she had already guessed.

“Athanar’s daughter,” he said, meeting her eyes fleetingly, just to get an idea of her reaction. She had no reaction but shock for a moment, her mouth open a fraction and her eyebrows raised in surprise. “She was bullying Cnebba, see,” Javan said, “and I came up to stop her and she wouldn’t stop and . . . it just happened. She hit me and then I hit her. And now the whole mead hall knows, ‘cause it happened in the courtyard, where all the new men were, and captain Coenred came over, then Garstan and Stigend, and then Lilige, the maid, came and took Ædre to her mother. . .”

“Oh, no,” Saeryn finally breathed.

“I know. I’m sorry I caused trouble today. I was doing so well, Eodwine would have been so proud of me, and then I did this.” Neither said it, but they both knew how disapproving Eodwine would have been. “What will Lord Athanar do?”

“I don’t know. But I’ll see to it that it’s not terrible, or anything. Don’t look like that, Javan. Athanar won’t kill you, anyway. You’ve hit his daughter, you’re going to have to take the consequences.”

Javan squared his shoulders. “I know. I will.”

“That’s it, lad. Now come on. It’s best to meet the trouble halfway, rather than hiding and making them look for you.”

“I wasn’t hiding.”

“No, I guess not, but it’ll be best if you make a clean breast of it to the lord and lady.”
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Old 11-13-2009, 03:02 PM   #584
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"Tall with long blond hair? You're going to have to give me a little more to work with than that, since you described your entire race to me. Though - I can't say I've made a point of trying to get to know any of your men."

"Well, I can't say I would know any of the men here, either," Hilderinc replied. "But I guess that will come in time," he added more calmly. "Maybe even knowing you."

He looked more closely at the man as he tried to move past him. Now that it came to it, Hilderinc was pretty certain that he was one of those who have been in the courtyard.

What was occupying Hilderinc's thoughts now, though, were some of the man's words. What did he mean by "your entire race"? Was he not an Eorling? Well, when it came to that, he didn't really look like one. But what was he then? A Dunlending? No, not that, Hilderinc was certain. Hilderinc knew a Dunlending when he saw one, yet this man had no features resembling a Dunlending. In a way, he did look like an Eorling – some of his features were like that, but no Eorlingas Hilderinc knew had such hair, skin-colour or even the overall build.

"Are you a Woodman?" he asked suddenly without thinking.
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Old 11-15-2009, 10:04 AM   #585
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After Coenrad had generally dismissed the soldiers for now, Lithor and the soldiers of Scarburg huddled around each other (Wilcred, Osmund, Matrim, Balvir). “We are not going to let them punish Matrim, are we?” Osmund asked hotly. The instinct of the group was protect their own. Both had been wrong in the fight and it seemed unfair that any one of them should be punished again.

“It’s not that simple,” Lithor responded. “Your actions Matrim were unacceptable for a soldier and Athanar might want to make an example of you and Áforglæd.”

“I won’t shirk from reproach, if it comes, but you heard Áforglæd, his words called for someone to correct them!”

Lithor frowned and then turned to see what had become of the fight between the children. Thankfully some adults were on hand. “As they say, one ill turn deserves another.” Lithor pointed angrily at the scene between Coenrad and the locals. “How are we to reprimand our own children (by our Lithor meant Scarburg. Everyone claimed responsibility for the three boys) when we act little better?”

“Arrogance is fitting for a fool,” Wilcred said. “And much less fitting for those who claim to be our betters.”

“Let it pass. How are we ever to get along with Athanar if both parties act like they are above justice? It is our first day together with these newcomers and I don’t want any more brawls!”

Lithor was piping mad. He seldom got mad, but he could not stand the stupidity that had led to these circumstances. The Scarburgians needed to learn how to accept this new lord graciously. Likewise, the newcomers needed to respect the rights of Scarburgians and stop looking upon them as peasants to man-handle. Nothing was worse for a group of people than to be considered collateral for the success of an ambitious lord. Lithor did not hold any special rank now that Coenrad had arrived, stripping him of his second in command for the soldiers, but he was oldest soldier. More than once Lithor acted like he was in command and asserted his experience.

“Sorry,” he said a bit embarrassed. “I, uh… I didn’t mean to preach.”

“That’s a first.” Balvir noted dryly. At this, Lithor smiled again. Balvir’s grim moods always brought him more amusement than the liveliest court jester.

“What do you say to this, Balvir? After all, Matrim has been your friend for longer than mine.”

Erbrand

The bags had all been unloaded. Nothing was left to do now but sit and wait to be ordered what to do, but sitting around was not what Erbrand wanted. He had a lot on his mind. Maybe a walk would clear his mind. As he walked over the scar his mind turned to the pressing matters on his mind.

Oeric. So that was his name. What where his intentions? But Erbrand had already gone over those questions a dozen times over in his head. Now he had to decide what to do with the knowledge that Scarburg was being watched? His pace became a brisk walk as idea became clear in his mind. Erbrand did not like the thought of these strangers coming in and taking over, so he would postpone telling lord Athanar until after the celebration tonight. That is, if Athanar was someone to be trusted. Thornden could be trusted, but, of course, Thornden was a man driven by duty and might tell Athanar anyways.

Around a month ago, on the eve of lord Eodwine and lady Saeryn’s wedding, Erbrand had asked Stigend on how to impress a woman. In short, Stigend had to save his wife to win her heart. Since, then Erbrand had been bent on impressing Kara (his sweetheart), but to little avail. Erbrand was a clumsy man when he tried to be a charmer. He was a working man, not a courtier. As a leather craftsman, Erbrand could bend and cut the leather into the most beautiful decorations, the hardiest of saddles, and the most useful of protection but he could not shape Kara’s heart in the same way. He could bend his bow with great ease and pluck a bird from its perch at a hundred meters but Kara’s heart was a harder target to hit. Nevertheless, Erbrand still had not given up on trying to impress her. Maybe this Oeric fellow was his chance.

Erbrand started back towards the hall. However, upon reaching the top of the scar he came across a soldier. Erbrand did not recognize him and assumed that he was one of the new soldiers.

“Hey there,” Erbrand called to announce his presence. The man turned to look at him without a word. Erbrand walked up to the man and extended his hand.

“I am Erbrand and although I might not be the first to bid you welcome I offer it anyway. Welcome to Scarburg, sir.” The man looked at the extended hand and siezed it with enthusiasm. It was a very strong grip.

“I heard that some of our soldiers got in a brawl with yours. Sorry about that. However, it is only natural that there should be some slight tensions. It will all go away tonight I am sure.” Erbrand casually sat down on a rock. “It is not that you newcomers are unfriendly, that is, but we do not like strangers much around here. Lord Eodwine was a very caring in his rule over us and he will still have many friends even after this new lord takes over.” The man’s eyes showed some interest at this remark.

“What do you mean by that?” The man’s voice contained some curiosity in it. Erbrand had forgotten that this might be someone very important in the administration.

“Oh, of course I did not mean it like that?”

“Then how did you mean it?” The man was becoming more interested.

“Well, you see we are common folk out here in the Emnet, plain spoken, hard working, and down to earth people. Even lord Eodwine and our lady Saeryn are very humble when it comes to asserting authority over us and that might all change with this new lord, Athelwyne or Athelrod, I forget his name. We do not like to change once we have found a good thing and what Eodwine founded here was good. This new lord is from court and will doubtlessly bring his ‘improvements’ but we need no improvements. We are true laborers: we earn that we eat, get that we wear; owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness; glad of other men’s good, content with our harm; and the greatest of our pride is to know that we are ruled by a just lord. We could say as much about Eodwine. What about Athanar?”

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Old 11-15-2009, 03:46 PM   #586
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"That remains to be seen my friend... for I am lord Athanar indeed" lord Athanar said with a smile backed with authority. He was in his field of expertise now. Studying the man before him he finally continued.

"Do you think we were not looking at the common good at the Pelennor Fields fighting Sauron, or that we are people estranged from reality when we drove the last orcs off from the lands? I was there when those things happened. But where were you, master...?"

"Erbrand" Erbrand answered in confusion of the knowledge of whom he was discussing with.

"Erbrand... a good name... Anyway. Excuse me, but you seem to have a widely shared but crippled view of the nobility in Rohan I must say. In king Eomer's court there are no slackers or "Wormtongue friends" any more... actually lord Tancred is one of the last vermin whom I'm here to root out."

Lord Athanar looked at Erbrand to the eye and continued firmly.

"Now listen, we have a common goal and I hope you guys can see it. What you told about the tensions is understandable and we need to work on it. And forget it not, that I will be plain-speaking as well and will not tolerate any splitting of loyalties." Lord Athanar raised an eyebrow and looked at Erbrand intensively.

With a nod he made his way from Erbrand back towards the Hall. Turning back to Erbrand a few meters away he added: "And by the way, improvements are a relative issue, Erbrand. Oftentimes people do not like changes. But when the old order has crumbled, things just have to change... it's up to you guys how they will change..."
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:03 PM   #587
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His face grew red with embarrassment. Stop running your mouth off! You talk like an old goat bearded cripple! For a second, Erbrand imagined that Athanar’s cool, understanding expression might transform into a glare. The man’s hands were strong, not a worker’s strength but a warrior’s strength. Fortunately, Erbrand was the best runner in Scarburg. He wondered if he would have to use his skill.

It became clear that Athanar was not a bullying man, nor was he the type to be bullied. Indeed he showed some similarities to Eodwine, even fighting in the War of the Ring. Erbrand wanted to explain that he was but a boy of thirteen at the time of the war, not yet strong enough to wield a sword and not rich enough to have a horse. Is he challenging my honor or asking question?

Athanar was certainly as courteous as lord Eodwine had been and was a man of vision. Erbrand could hear the enterprising words spring from Athanar’s lips with a confidence that only experience can give. There was, however, a look in Athanar’s eyes that made Erbrand shudder. This was a man of great vision, that he could tell, but he also sensed the determination behind those words and to Erbrand it did not seem gentle. It would be a new Scarburg within a month, transformed in the image of its new lord. This was a man who would be brutal if given the proper excuse for it. He must be marvelous on the battlefield. Erbrand had been too honest thus far to stay silent at Athanar’s last words.

“Not so my lord,” Erbrand said as he jumped from his position and neared the distance between them. “I admit that you may have better experience on the matter, but it has been my observations that change, when unwanted, comes best slowly. The people of Scarburg have been through a lot together in this settlement’s short existence. Now, we have lost our lord to a sudden illness, we fear for our lives when the sun sets because of hostile neighbors, and soon lady Saeryn will be bed laden because of…” Erbrand stopped himself quickly. It occurred to him that Athanar might not know of Saeryn’s pregnancy. If so, then it was not his place to reveal such information. Erbrand breathed a hard sigh before continuing.

“I am tired, my lord, of all this. I am tired of being pushed around by nobles who think they can bully us and…,” Erbrand almost did not say it but he had to be honest. “And strangers who can come in and bully us around by means of rank and office. I pray you, be slow and patient with us.”
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:20 PM   #588
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“I admit that you may have better experience on the matter, but it has been my observations that change, when unwanted, comes best slowly. The people of Scarburg have been through a lot together in this settlement’s short existence. Now, we have lost our lord to a sudden illness, we fear for our lives when the sun sets because of hostile neighbors, and soon lady Saeryn will be bed laden because of…”

Erbrand followed lord Athanar and what he said really stroke a nerve. So that's the way things are! Well... it explains some things... and changes the situation. Hmm, I need to see Wynflaed... and lady Saeryn before the speech...

“And strangers who can come in and bully us around by means of rank and office. I pray you, be slow and patient with us.” Erbrand went on. Lord Athanar halted and turned to face the man.

"Listen now Erbrand... you may not be of noble birth but you look and feel like an honest man with a stern heart." Athanar studied Erbrand's expression while saying that. "When on a battlefield you suddenly lose your captain and the enemy is pressing... you don't go slow into thinking whether things should be changed or not - and on what speed, even if the change is unwanted..." lord Athanar actually smiled... but then re-focused himself in a wink of an eye.

"King Eomer's plans on Scarburg have not gone as he might have wished them to go and lord Eodwine's sudden illness is an unwelcome surprise to him... but that kind of crisis calls for strong measures and those king Eomer has taken... and I have pledged to him personally to fulfill them. Lord Tancred and all those around him will finally obey the king and I'm here to see for it."

Lord Athanar eyed Erbrand a moment before continuing. "Some changes are abrupt and unwanted by many, but they must be faced head-on, don't you think?"

He let his last words hammer down, not actually waiting for an answer though, before making a last remark. "I know lord Tancred... personally. He's probably the last rotten apple in the whole of Rohan - with his apprentice lord Alboin... and I fear young lord Faramund so much a distortion of his father - put in charge of his lands by that cursed Wormtongue himself. I do appreciate the guts of young master Thornden and lady Saeryn, but with Tancred... you need something more than just a good heart."

With that he turned around, but halted half-way. "But thank you for your words Erbrand... I hope I will be wiser this evening because of them..." Winking an eye to Erbrand he turned around and went towards the Hall...
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:46 AM   #589
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Erbrand thought for sure that his words would provoke an unfriendly response from Athanar, but to his surprise Athanar stayed civil. It seems that not everyone was as short tempered as Erbrand. Athanar is indeed a lord. However, the response from Athanar was unyieldingly committed to the idea of change. What that change was Erbrand could not guess, but from what Athanar was saying about Tancred and these nobles, it did not sound all positive. Erbrand felt like snapping back: you are not on the battlefield! This is my home! He was not angry, but he was getting a little frustrated.

The conversation had gone on long enough. Erbrand knew that he should be silent and let his lord have the last word. However, something inside of Erbrand was screaming at him to press the matter further, not to let Athanar think that he could simply come in and change things without resistance.

“What of our lady?” Erbrand called after him. It was extremely rude Erbrand knew that and his impotence could be punishable if he continued much more. “You will, of course, respect her position over us as our lady?”

“I will respect her, yes, but you forget Erbrand, Scarburg has a new lord.”

Athanar was solemn. Erbrand was at least thankful that he did not show any signs of glee in what he had just said, but still. Erbrand felt downcast. Poor Saeryn, does this mean that Athanar has ousted her from the hall? No, he cannot be that cruel. If he is, however, Scarburg should stand up against him, but he cannot be that cruel! He will make a good lord.

“My thanks to the king that Scarburg has an honest lord,” Erbrand replied with a bow. “I wish you good faith in your rule.” Athanar smiled and returned the bow before turning and heading back to the hall.

He is honest and humble in his dealings whether cruel or no, I will give him that. Erbrand watched his new lord until he disappeared inside the Meadhall. He will do.
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:32 PM   #590
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Modtryth

Before Crabannan could answer the stranger's question, Modtryth cut in: "There was one such soldier here just a while ago, but he left. He seemed to be a bit bruised." There was a hint of question to the tone of her voice.

"What's going on?" asked Ginna, suddenly appearing behind Modtryth's shoulder and leaving just the two cooks to prepare the food. She wiped her fingers on her apron and eyed the two men questioningly.

"This man here is looking for his friend, and Crabannan - well I understand he just came to beg for food," Modtryth told Ginna, and threw a quick smile at Crabannan.

"I know, I heard that," Ginna said. "But what's up with bruised and disappeared people?"

~*~

Wilheard

Oh, Wulf would never catch him. He was a better rider, he had a better horse and he had got a head start. Wilheard shook his head. It was almost sad, some more excitement would be in order. There hadn't been any excitement for days, just dull riding across the fields and plains. Willheard didn't mind spending time or horseback or in open air - in fact he enjoyed it a lot - but it was incredibly frustrating with dozens of people and wagons that moved slower than snails.

His steed was breathing heavily, so he let the animal take a slower pace and looked around. The Scar was quite a beautiful place with the rough rocks and cold autumn sunlight reflecting on them. There was marshland on the other side, and forest formed dark green patches here and there. Wilheard could feel the wind in his hair, and he couldn't help urging his horse to gallop again. It felt good to be here.

He grinned. If Wulf had heard him say that! It was true this was uncultivated countryside and away from the inns and barracks of Edoras, but there was something else here, a wild and savage spirit, the feel of earlier times and heroic deeds. Something he could not quite hunt down and catch, but something he could feel even after such a short while on the scar and something he could let take him over.

He started looking for a way down the scar with the horse. There was swamp, true, but not all of the ground was so wet and it definitely merited a look. Maybe, after all, this would be an adventure instead of an all too long sentence in a boring faraway prison.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:40 PM   #591
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Balvir’s response was uncommitted to praising or condemning Matrim’s action. The discussion went on for another fifteen minutes before the soldiers decided on the “forgive and forget” approach to the matter. After which Lithor promptly left, followed by his usual companions Balvir and Matrim, to change into his good uniform.

“I have not worn this since lord Eodwine’s wedding,” Lithor stated as he strapped his leather tunic on.

“It hasn’t been long enough,” responded Matrim, hopping up and down while trying to pull a boot on.

“I rather like it.” Lithor fastened his prairie green cloak on his shoulders and sarcastically stroked his hair producing a grin from Matrim and Balvir.

“I wish I was rich enough to afford a looking glass.”

“You should have seen the one that I unloaded from the wagon train, Lithor. It must have been three feet high!” Balvir whistled and Lithor raised his brows in surprise. “This Athanar is sure rich. Perhaps you could ask his wife if you could borrow that mirror of hers.”

“Never mind that, just so long as everyone else can see me I am fine.” They laughed and Balvir opened the door leading to the main hall.

The long tables were all joined together to form an unfinished three sided square. The kitchen maids had begun to decorate the tables with the berries and plants that best represented the wintery time of year. The scent from the kitchen suddenly made Lithor realize how hungry he was.

“Frodides!” Lithor called after the old cook. “Are there any samples for a few hungry soldiers?” Frodides simply shook her head knowingly and the three soldiers laughed.

“My my, someone sure looks good!” Erbrand said coming through the hall door, closing it behind him. The light was beginning to fade in the evening sky and the freezing night winds were beginning to pick up. Erbrand was dressed for the occasion in a sheep skin cloak, covering his shoulders, and mostly butternut colored clothing. His clothes were the best that he had, but they were worn by the weather and months of hard work. However, his face was merry and his hands were busy tuning the cords on a fiddle

“Hey there Erbrand.” Matrim said “My! What happened to you? You look worse than I do.”

For a minute Erbrand was confused and hurt. He examined his clothing and brushed at it. Erbrand thought that he had dressed quite well for the occasion. However, when he looked up Matrim was pointing at Erbrand’s forehead, not Erbrand’s clothing.

“That is the longest, nastiest, looking bruise I have ever seen. Where did you get it?”

“Oh that! Never you mind, it does not matter where I got it.”

“Say, Erbrand,” interjected Lithor with a big smile on his face. “I did not know that you could play.” He pointed at the fiddle in Erbrand’s hands.

“Something my grandpa taught me from his experience in Aldburg’s taverns. There has not been the proper occasion to bring it out and I thought now would be a good time. Perhaps Crabannan and I could combine our talents to make some proper music for our guests.”

“Indeed, and speaking of our guests, I am most anxious to hear what Athanar will have to say.”

“He has a good character. I do not think that he will be a bad lord in the least.” Lithor looked at him surprised. Erbrand was the last person in Scarburg, with the exception of Scyld and Crabannan, who Lithor expected to hear this talk from.

“You sound awfully sure of yourself, Erbrand. Is there something you would like to share with the rest of us?” Lithor’s lips curled in a large grin, but Erbrand simply winked and returned the grin.

The hall was beginning to fill up with people. The great fire was lit and filled the great meadhall with a warm, glowing, light. After wishing one another a merry night, Lithor, Balvir and Matrim left to find what their duties would be for the night, leaving Erbrand alone. Erbrand, however, soon left the hall for the moment to the kitchen to see if he could find Kara. But he would have to hurry, the feast was about to begin!

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Old 11-19-2009, 06:02 PM   #592
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"There was one such soldier here just a while ago, but he left. He seemed to be a bit bruised."

Hilderinc looked at the cook, forgetting the question he had just asked the man. So Áforglæd was here, after all. Hilderinc felt kind of satisfaction inside once again - so his guess has been correct. Apparently the missing soldier did not stay for long, but there were not many places where he could go - and at least it was clear now that he was not "lost". Well, surely, Hilderinc thought, there won't be many places for Áforglæd to get lost. He might already be in the barracks by now as well.

"What's going on?"

Another woman, considerably younger than the one who spoke to Hilderinc in the first place, came to them. She was very pretty, Hilderinc realised on first sight, with long, very light hair and clear blue eyes. A beauty worthy of a king's daughter, Hilderinc thought, and somehow reminded himself that he should not make his opinions on Scarburg too fast. This girl certainly did not fit the image of the place he formed for himself during the last few hours. Automatically, his eyes flicked to the remaining two women in the kitchen, as to confirm his thoughts. Well, he thought, there is still a lot to learn about this place.

"This man here is looking for his friend, and Crabannan - well I understand he just came to beg for food."

The dark cook's voice made him return back from his thoughts. All right, so this non-Eorling man's name was Crabannan. Another useful thing to remember.

"I know, I heard that." The young woman not only was very beautiful, she had also a pleasant voice. "But what's up with bruised and disappeared people?"

Hilderinc looked at her, shaking his head slightly.

"There is nothing 'up', I think," he said. "It looks like Áforglæd did not really disappear after all, he was just looking for some food - and we could not find him. I was thinking he might be here. He was bruised because - well, men. Sometimes they fight," he added in a kind tone.

"Anyway, thank you for your help," he nodded towards the dark-haired woman. "I won't hinder you from your work anymore, I will go outside and most likely meet our missing man there. And we are probably going to see yet tonight," Hilderinc looked also at Crabannan this time. Then, he walked across the room, past the two other cooks, towards the outer door.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:23 PM   #593
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*ding* Erbrand plucked at his fiddle string in his hand as he walked towards the kitchen. He plucked at the string again and the then sawed his bow along the chords. It had been awhile since he had played it but it should be like swinging an axe--you never forget. Erbrand would never forget the way that he had learned to play. Listening to his grandpa saw the same fiddle he was holding was as good as it got. The great fire that had been lit in the hall contrasted the quaint fireplace that his parents had in Aldburg. Erbrand's mind swiftly brought him back to that room and he could picture his parents and grandparents sitting together around the fire, while he and his brothers lay on the floor listening... just listening.

Erbrand's thoughts, however, were cut short when he walked right into a soldier coming from the kitchen. Thankfully, his fiddle avoided injury but the impact knocked Erbrand back.

"Whoops, sorry!" Erbrand exclaimed once he saw that it was not someone he knew.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:04 PM   #594
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It was for the second time in a few minutes when somebody ran directly into him. Hilderinc looked at the man as he apologized. He was dressed like a peasant, but he was holding a fiddle. Some local bard, perhaps? But then Hilderinc looked into the man's face and noticed an unmistakeable feature.

Ah, so this one was the brawler, he thought. Áforglæd probably showed him quite a lot, though. The bruise on this man's forehead looked really bad. Somehow, Hilderinc started to think about the fight that took place among the men from a different perspective. Áforglæd in the end escaped with very little consequences. No punishment from the authorities and also the marks of the battle afflicted upon him were not as bad as what he himself had caused to this man. He was luckier than he deserved. And especially taking into account that this man was probably bigger than him, and he looked strong enough too.

"No harm done," Hilderinc forced his gaze away from the man's forehead. For a moment, he looked into his eyes. Then he moved past him. There was still probably some time before the meal, but there were all sorts of minor things to do before it started, surely lord Athanar has prepared something big for tonight and Hilderinc did not want to miss anything.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:02 PM   #595
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SAVE

For any posts that deal with things happening before the banquet begins. See the discussion thread for details.

----------

Wynflaed, Aedre and Lilige


Ædre spent the sort walk to her mother’s room ignoring Lilige’s ramblings and trying to figure out what she was going to say to her mother. She knew that she couldn’t get away with as much with her mother as she could with her father. She needed to tread lightly.

"Ædre, what happened?" Wynflaed said. Then, more calmly, "Lilige, a basin of water and some soft rags, please. I shall, when you are finished, wish to know how you learned of this."

"Yes, my Lady, of course!" Lilige said, and backed out the door. "Right away, I won't be long," she added as she turned and hurried away.

As she left, she heard Ædre and Wynflaed start to speak:

“This local boy… he… he hit me…” Ædre began.

"That was a very dishonourable thing for him to do," said Wynflaed. "Did he give any reason for doing so? Did you give him any cause?"

“No!” Ædre yelled as she really didn’t think that she gave him any cause. “I asked this other boy to help me because I don’t really know my way around here. After he helped me this other boy came along and told me that I had no business being here and that Papa isn’t the real Eorl.

“Papa is the real Eorl isn’t he? I thought that is why we came to this terrible place because they need a strong leader. Like Papa.” Ædre said bringing the conversation from herself to her father.

"Ædre," said Wynflaed, "this place is not terrible. It may not be Edoras, but it is not terrible, and I suggest that you talk to your father or any of the soldiers who weathered the War if you want to know the true meaning of 'terrible.' You should be grateful that this is all you or any of us have to worry about.

Ædre bowed her head and nodded somberly, glad that she was only getting a mild scolding.

"Not," Wynflaed continued, "that there are no problems. The people in Scarburg may have trouble accepting Papa as the new eorl, but if they are to take that out on those who clearly had no choice in the matter..."

She sighed. "Thank you for letting me know of this matter, Ædre. You--all of us--will have to be patient and kind with these people until they accept us. I will speak with those who are more familiar with the hall to determine what is to be done with the lad who struck you--a good leader always listens to all sides of the story before passing judgment. Did you catch the name of the lad who struck you? Do you know who his mother and father are?"

Ædre realized her mother was done talking about boring matters and that she was asked a question and was expected to respond.

“No… he never said his name… I… I think he mentioned that his father isn’t around though. He seemed about my age with darker hair than mine. Maybe Lilige knows…”

"I do wish she would get back here soon..." She sighed, and found a linen cloth--much finer than should be used for the tending of scrapes, but it was better that than letting the wound fester unwashed any longer--and the ewer of water provided for general refreshment. Dipping the cloth in the water, she began to dab at Ædre's cut.

"I dislike the idea of your going to the banquet with your face marred so. And depending on how the rest of the Hall perceived this fray, it may not go well to have you there. It is not your fault, mind, but I should still feel better..." She sighed. "Never mind. If you do not feel up to attending the banquet, you shall not. But if you do, I shall expect you to be on your best behaviour. We must set a good example for everyone else. Your father and I shall see to it that no one else lays a hand on you, but I would feel better if you only spoke at the banquet when spoken to. If you hear anyone speak out against your papa's rule, you will to tell us, before things get beyond control and you get hurt."

“Yes, Mother” Ædre replied wincing both from her words and her touch.

She was now trying to decide if she should go to the banquet or skip out and maybe get a chance to see her horse. If she went to the banquet she would be able to see her father’s reaction to his baby girl being assaulted on their first day here but she would also be under the watchful eye of her mother and under strict instructions not to have any fun. If she went to the stable she wouldn’t have to deal with her mother any longer but she also wouldn’t get an immediate reaction out of her father. She decided that she has had enough meeting new people for today and would rather just go calm down with Leta. She could see her father later.

“I… I think I’m not feeling well enough to go to the banquet. Give Papa my love.”

Lilige hurried back into the room, nearly tripping over the doorsil in her haste. "My Lady, here you are," she said, breathless. "How is she?" She set the basin and damp rags on the floor beside her Lady. "I brought a new gown for Aedre to change into for the banquet. Oh, what will they say? What will Lord Athanar say?" Lilige put her hand to her mouth to stop herself from rambling.

Wynflaed squeezed the bloodied linen into the basin, then rinsed it out a few times.

"Lord Athanar and I will determine what is to be done with the lad who struck our Aedre. But Aedre herself has said that she does not feel up to attending the banquet--and I honestly cannot blame her. Would you mind watching over her and making sure she does not come to any more harm in this new place?" She smiled. "I would do so myself, but unfortunately the Hall requires me to be elsewhere."

She rose from where she was kneeling. "The banquet is soon, and I must find Athanar and speak to him of what has happened before it begins." She bent down and kissed her daughter's brow. "Be a good girl for me, Aedre."

“Yes, mother.” Ædre responded.

Now I just have to get rid of Lilige and figure out how to make it back to the stable without trouble. Everyone should be at the banquet so I shouldn’t run into anyone. Mother would be really mad if she found out I disobeyed her.

"Of course, My Lady," Lilige said. "I would not dream of letting anything more happen to your daughter." Lilige closed her mouth again as she realized that Wynflaed could not hear her, as she had already left.

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Old 11-20-2009, 05:03 PM   #596
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Lord Athanar's speech.

The Hall was filled to the last seat. The first jugs of wine were served to the tables and Erbrand and Crabannan performed a few songs with a fiddle and a harp.

After the two settled down to their table lord Athanar rose up.

”Ladies, gentlemen, soldiers, workers, household… well, all you people of the Scarburg Hall!” Lord Athanar’s words echoed loud in the Hall like the words of a man who was used to address large crowds. The discussions in the tables died down and everyone turned their attention towards him.

“Any man in Rohan should mourn the fate of a man of lord Eodwine’s calibre. Sadly we can only bring you ill tidings. The king’s messengers came to Edoras from Minas Tirith the day before we left… They told us that the physicians in Minas Tirith’s Houses of Healing seem to think his condition is what they call “the dead man’s life”… it means a condition where the body barely keeps the light of life alive but the spirit has ceased to exist. It was even rumoured that after king Eomer’s request king Elessar himself had visited him… but to no avail. He has been unconscious for over a month.”

Lord Athanar fell silent and laid his head down to honour lord Eodwine and the feelings of those who loved him. There was a total silence in the Hall.

Saeryn, too, turned her head away from Athanar. She clenched her jaw tight, trying to keep from crying, and her eyelids pressed hard together. Then she felt Degas' hand reaching for hers. She opened her clenched fist and grasped his hand. She gained control of her emotions and then drew a deep sigh and turned back again to Athanar.

Finally lord Athanar raised his head and eyed the people around the Hall. And he continued.

“Let me assure you, the king himself took his illness heavily. But he had also heard of your plight with the local lords here – them being the first reason he decided to set up a Mead Hall into Mid Emnet…” He glanced at the people, especially those on the tables of workers and household staff as he was not sure they understood all the politics involved.

“I’ll make this short, but I do think you need to understand this, everyone, so that we can start building a working relationship between all of us… to fulfill the king’s will and not need to witness the kind of incidents I’ve heard have already taken place earlier today.” He laid his eye to the table where Javan sat and then to the soldier’s tables.

“The king wishes to establish his rule and the rule of common law to all corners of his kingdom. And there still are areas around Rohan where this is not the case… and Mid Emnet is one of them. Establishing the rule of the king means that the local lords will have their law-given deal of the taxes from the peasants, but not more. They will then pay the rest to the eorl as the king’s representative in the region who deals the law… and the eorl will pay to the king his share in turn. And establishing the rule of law puts to an end any high-handed methods of local lords dealing their own justice by giving the right of fulfilling the law to the king’s representative, the eorl, who is then responsible for his decisions to the king himself. This way the same laws are used all around the country and people are given a right to live under the prosperity of their king instead of the arbitrary rule of whoever lord they happen to live under.” He let the words hammer in.

“And this, all this, king Eomer has seen as an urgent task enough to nominate a new eorl to the Mead Hall at Scarburg when hearing of lord Eodwine’s condition.”

Suddenly he produced a parchment from his sleeve and rolled it out, showing it to everyone.

“This is the decree signed by king Eomer appointing me to take over the Scarburg Mead Hall as the new eorl. It is a similar decree like the one handed to lord Eodwine back in spring.” He paused to check if the people had gotten what he had just said.

Saeryn felt the blood leave her face and she jerked unintentionally from the shock. She felt Degas move in his chair, too. She laid her hand quickly on his knee and held him back, despite her own violently beating heart.

“Now that you all understand the situation… I will not tolerate a single incident questioning this decree and my authority following from it in this place. Any such disobedience will be handled as a high treason against the king himself. Do I make myself clear?” Lord Athanar had decided already beforehand to make that point as firm and clear he could. The acceptance of that point by the original Scarburg-dwellers was the founding of everything. But now he was a bit embarrassed of the fire in his words - while realising seeing his bruised daughter with his mind’s eye like she was, sobbing, just an hour ago. But he realised he had to calm down… and he did.

“I will be both straight and fair with you. Those of you who have lived under my rule I think know that already.” There were several nods and “ayes!” from the tables of Athanar’s soldiers and his household.

“And that means… I will reward those who do their duties and work for the common good… and will have no toleration for those doing the opposite. Be honourable and I will honour you, be dishonourable and I will punish you with a strong hand. That is the base of all good government. I have been brought to believe in it, I have followed it all my life and I have seen it work all my life... all the way from the Pelennor Fields to my recruitment into this Mead Hall. So I’m not going to change my ways.”

Lord Athanar paused, grabbed the goblet in front of him and took a sip of the wine. It was clear he was trying to remember what other things he had to state his position on as he had gotten a bit carried away once again. The air in the Hall was heavy with expectancy as so many things dear to the original Scarburgers were still not spoken of, and the newcomers were not too clear about their status in comparison to this other staff.

“You should all meet Coenred, he’s the commander of my guards – and will be the commander of all the soldiers at Scarburg Mead Hall as the highest ranking officer… Coenred, please rise up!

Coen rose up and nodded to the crowd.

“I have complete trust in him and wish to see you all follow my example there as soon as possible… He’s a fine soldier, an experienced commander and of true Rohanian blood… And let it be announced right away: all the soldiers will have a light training session tomorrow after breakfast… just to get to know each other... you know.”

There was a reaction to the announcement of rehearsals in the soldiers’ tables but after the explanation - and the accompanying smile from lord Athanar - it died off fast.

“What comes to master Thornden…” Lord Athanar waved his hand showing that he should stand up as well. The air in the hall turned tense. Stigend, Garstan and Harreld leaned closer to hear the next words closely – with so many others.

“Thornden will be second in command with the soldiers after Coenred… but also my special advisor, my seneschal… if he accepts the offer. I do appreciate his openness and straight-talking ways... and his guts. And he knows many of you and this Mead Hall better than I do. I would appreciate his counsel.”

There was cheering with the people of the Mead Hall even if the feelings were clearly mixed – and Athanar’s praise also caused cheers among his own soldiers; they knew Athanar would not praise anyone that much without a reason.

Athanar waited for the applauses to die down before going on.

“You should also meet my family… Will you please?” he nodded to his family to rise up.

“Meet my lady Wynflaed, my sons Wulfric and Wilheard! My sons I do hope will earn their places in the ranks of the military, which I think them perfectly capable of doing in here as they have done in my earlier households… Then there is also my youngest daughter, Aedre, who unfortunately does not attend this banquet..." Everyone saw the storm cloud gathering over Athanar’s forehead but he held it at bay, with some noticeable suffering.

“Aedre is young and she is your eorl’s daughter… I expect you to behave accordingly…” His words were poignant and it was clear lord Athanar forced himself to stay calm of the events that had happened earlier which most of the people had already heard of.

“My wife, lady Winflaed, will naturally be the lady of the Scarburg Mead Hall…” A murmur rippled through the old Scarburgians. Angry glances were exchanged and quite a few looked towards Saeryn to see what she thought of this. Lord Athanar quickly waved his hand to indicate he was continuing.

“I can see your feelings… But whatever you think, it is downright impossible that the honourable wife of the eorl would not be the lady of the Hall. Could you name a lord who would accept that? Lord Eodwine would not have accepted that! The king would not accept that!” Athanar paused to let the people think.

“You know people are sometimes thrown into situations they have not picked themselves… You didn’t choose lord Eodwine’s illness, we didn’t choose to replace him in a Hall where everyone mourns him, making this hard for us as well…” He waited for a moment.

“Lady Saeryn will have an honoured and special role in the Mead Hall – like master Thornden… I don’t know if there is a traditional role we could give her… but if there isn’t, we’ll have to come up with one as this is an unordinary situation. It’s just that things are happening too fast and I have not had time to come up with a good title for her. But rest assured, her voice will be heard and honoured – and you can channel your grievances to me by her – like by master Thornden. And I’ll take care the arrangement is approved by the king as well in the end…”

There was a marked unrest in the Hall as people were puzzled as to how to cope with the news…

“I will form a council of the Mead Hall which includes my lady Winflaed, Coenred, lady Saeryn and Thornden. I will make no major decision concerning this Hall without listening to this council. But the last decisions will be mine. As the eorl I carry the consequences of the decisions, in front of the king and Rohan… therefore I make the final decisions…”

Lord Athanar bent forwards to take one more sip of the wine and to concentrate to his last effort.

“Now some of you may wonder why I have such a host of soldiers with me… am I going to cease power with force, am I going to suppress you under my rule? Well, first of all I hope the king’s decree is enough – and that I am enough.” He paused once again just to see the faces of the audience… especially of those who belonged to the “original Mead Hall”.

“But fear not. Scarburg Mead Hall will not be a military camp but hopefully a leisurely Hall with an easy-going life… King Eomer suggested I’d have a dozen of his Rohirrim from Edoras to cover us on the way with our precious belongings – and to use them as possible negotiating tools against the local lords. And that is why they are here. We will settle this thing with the local lords soon enough… the next week if it’s up to me. And after the most urgent things have been settled, they will go back to serve at king Eomer’s court.” It was clear that the way lord Athanar produced the last words was meant effectively to convey the message that he had men from the king’s personal guard under his command and therefore the original residents should be even more careful with how they act.

What he said was actually true, but it was pretty shrewd of him to stress it that way. But then again, looking at the situation, he thought it a necessary move. He couldn’t afford an uprising. He had promised king Eomer to settle the situation with the local lords and with a rebellious Hall he would never manage it. Looking at the tensions that had burst out into minor rows already during the first hours he needed to take the authority and put all those hard feelings at bay with authority. Knowing people only a few hours one doesn’t make them co-operative with just being the prince charming, especially if the people think you’re stepping on their toes…The mission first…

Lord Athanar coughed to mark the end of his speech.

“People of the Scarburg Hall! I look towards a bright future for us all and I have all the confidence that we will get those landlords behaving as the king’s vassals they need to behave. They may be able to gather a host of spears but with the force we have… and the authority we have… they should see their own good sooner than later. And we will get into business with them immediately. The next week I hope.”

There were cheers from around the Hall, although some were markedly less enthusiastic than others.

“Now I suggest the meal should be brought forwards. And when you feel right, when you have thought of it in peace, please lady Saeryn, master Thornden, share your thoughts with us.” He looked at the two sitting against each other on a table right to him. He looked at them both confident and easy but a bit reserved at the same time. But nevertheless, he had called them forwards to speak their minds to everyone. So it was fair and square to him.

“Let us raise a toast to the happy future of the Scarburg Mead Hall!” he said and raised his goblet.

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-20-2009 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:09 AM   #597
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The craftsmen's table

The craftsmen and their families had their own table at the corner of the hall. After Erbrand’s and Crabannan’s performance was over the air in the hall electrified. The air of nervous anticipation was felt in the craftsmen’s table as well, but Náin’s stony presence made the feeling even weirder. The children were especially confused and even a bit afraid as their parents and other adults felt so oddly tense.


“The dead man’s life”? Cnebba was confused but it sounded like something really bad had happened to lord Eodwine. He saw a small tear in the corner of his father’s eye and felt like crying himself. When everyone laid their heads low it felt better not needing to look at all the adults in their anguish. It was kind of scary even to see the adults crying... if they couldn't handle something how then could he?

After the silence lord Athanar spoke at length of things Cnebba didn’t quite understand but after he produced a parchement from his sleeve Cnebba could feel the tension and toughness, even anger in lord Athanar’s voice. Cnebba was afraid and grasped his mom’s hand. Modtryth tied her arm around her son to comfort him. Cnebba felt she was shaken as well.


Lord Athanar’s decision to make Thornden a seneschal and his praise of him gave the people a chance to vent off some pressure and Stigend noticed himself cheering much more eagerly than he should from sheer relief. From the corner of his eye he noticed Náin clapping his hands dignified but somehow looking concerned at the same time. Stigend toned down his cheers and felt confused again.


“Aedre is young and she is your eorl’s daughter… I expect you to behave accordingly…” lord Athanar said poignantly. Cnebba was startled and hissed out aloud “That girl is a bully…”

Modtryth tried to hush him but he would not stay silent. “She got what she deserved. I hope someone beats her again…”

“Cnebba! Just shut up!” Stigend ordered with a commanding tone but not raising his voice.

Cnebba looked at his father and realised he was right. He exhanged looks with Garmund and then nodded to his father turning to listen to the speech again.

Lord Athanar started to speak about the lady of the house being his wife and that Saeryn would be something he wouldn’t say. The inconvenience of the original Mead Hal people was more than tangible. Stigend looked at Harreld, Garstan and Modtryth – they all tried to find some comfort from each others’ eyes but confusion and disbelief was all they were able to come up with. Glancing at Náin Stigend found himself even more puzzled as the dwarf seemed just stern and calm, almost like he would have thought the decision a natural or right one… or was he?
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Old 11-22-2009, 07:28 PM   #598
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Many things the new eorl said should have been said earlier to Saeryn. This, at least, was Thornden’s judgement. A sharp, observing glance in Saeryn’s direction when Athanar spoke of Eodwine’s condition showed him quite clearly that Saeryn had not heard this news about her husband. It was cruel to break it to her so, at the same time that he broke it to the entire Mead Hall. So impersonally, so formally, when Saeryn had no chance to withdraw and allow her feelings at least some freedom.

And then the signed parchment from the king. Why had he not shown this to them earlier? Another look at Saeryn showed Thornden that this, too, was news to her. It was a shock to all of them, but he imaged to her most of all. By all appearances at this moment, it seemed that King Eomer had taken Eodwine’s titles away from him and replaced him completely, not just temporarily.

But everything else Athanar said seemed in order, though perhaps presented rather strongly. Thornden could not really blame him. The man was coming into a new environment, and as one of his men and his daughter had already gotten into fights with those who already lived there, it seemed likely to be a hostile environment. Having been a soldier before, Thornden understood how a military mind worked, and Athanar’s was one such mind. He would crack down hard on them all if only a few of them rose up. It would be his, Thornden’s, duty to keep peace among the people. After Eodwine’s departure, he had led the men of Scarburg, and if they still followed his lead, they would keep the peace to the best of the ability. Those that would tend to rise in anger, his brother, for one, must be held back – gently, if possible, but they must be held, lest they go to far and bring Athanar’s wrath down on them. It seemed that wrath would fall swiftly and hard on anyone who stepped across the line.

This brought his mind to the fight he had seen in the courtyard. Javan had already crossed the line. That had been before Athanar’s official announcement, so perhaps the man would be inclined to be lenient. Perhaps.

He turned his thoughts away from his brother and as the noise of conversation rose about the hall, he began to think of a few proper words that he should speak when it came time.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:32 AM   #599
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Hilderinc listened carefully to Athanar's words. He already knew the lord's manner of speech, having heard him before and last time during a short speech before the soldiers left Edoras, but this was the first "big" one he heard from him. Athanar was a soldier, not a diplomat by heart, it was clear - yet his speech seemed smooth and balanced. He could not reach the qualities of the masters of rhetorics whom Hilderinc had encountered during his long service, but he was good enough, clear and to the point.

Hilderinc also noticed, or thought that he noticed that Athanar seemed perhaps a bit upset this time, but he soon came to conclusion that it was because of what happened to his daughter. And it seemed that he had heard already about the soldiers' brawl, too. Hilderinc's eyes briefly wandered to the man with the fiddle. He played well, indeed, Hilderinc quite liked the sound of the instrument. Crabannan, the strange man from the kitchen, also performed with him. So were these two the fellow musicians in the Hall? It was interesting, though, the man with the fiddle did not make the impression of a brawler. But perhaps first impression was confusing. Maybe he needed only little to be roused.

Athanar continued on introducing Coenred as the new commander of Scarburg and announcing the soldiers' training tomorrow. As expected, several men didn't seem too pleased with the prospect of having an exercice in front of themselves, they would have preferred long sleep after the long ride and celebrating night. Scyrr, sitting opposite to Hilderinc, made a half-voiced "boo" upon hearing the news. Hilderinc didn't mind, though. It was good to have something to occupy yourself with, and he was sure many of the soldiers were of like mind.

Athanar then also announced the appointment of Thornden as his seneschal. Hilderinc didn't have much chance to get to know Thornden yet, he has encountered him only briefly when he was taking the soldiers to their quarters, but the man seemed fair enough. And Athanar probably knew what he was doing when appointing him.

Hilderinc noticed some whispering and quick glances among the people when Athanar was announcing that lady Wynflaed will become the lady of the Hall. He shook his head. What was the point? The eorl has changed, what did the people expect? They looked as if they were surprised. What was there to be surprised about? Wasn't it logical? In Hilderinc's mind, it was the same as if they were surprised that Athanar was the eorl. They knew that a new lord will come and now that it happened they acted as if they haven't thought about it at all. It made no sense.

Then the part came where Athanar once again mentioned his intentions with the local lords. Hilderinc listened carefully. He had heard some rumours before and some semi-official proclamations, but nothing specific - here it was at last. He could imagine that many of the soldiers would be looking forward to this, riding to the other lords' holds and looking intimidating. Especially Athanar's own sons - the two of them would maybe like it more than the rest of the men put together. Hilderinc liked the prospect for different reasons - it would be something interesting to do again. And maybe, if the local lords were unwilling to surrender to their terms, maybe there will be even more to it. A real battle? Hilderinc had no idea about the opposition they were facing, but in these remote lands, anything was possible, including roguish lords who would not give in.

The random thoughts flashed through the soldier's mind, but it was not the time to start pondering them yet, or thinking about them deeply. And now as Athanar finished his speech, everybody raised their glasses. And the meal... Hilderinc felt incredibly hungry all of a sudden. So hungry that he could not think of anything else. He raised his pot and drank. The taste was delicious, so delicious after such a long day, but it would be even better as soon as he could bite into the food which was just being served.
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:42 PM   #600
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The speech ended. Erbrand and Crabannan gave each other grim stares and slowly applauded. Erbrand did not care too much for the speech. It was as if it was shrouded in a dark mist, very depressing. One step out of line and there will be trouble for Scarburg. Yet, even if Athanar was a bit headstrong, perhaps he could solve the problems with the local lords. This was Erbrand’s primary concern, for the basest duty of a lord is to protect his people. Everything else would be put to right when Eodwine recovers.

Poor Saeryn. Athanar really could be that cruel! Erbrand hated the way that Athanar broke the news to the entire hall. Effective, using Eodwine’s illness as a crutch to lean on. And degrading Saeryn for all of Scarburg to see! Any man who would do such a thing is afraid that his rule will not last, but he forgets that Rohan’s women are strong. Old Scarburg will stand behind her if she were to contend with this “lord.” Erbrand’s anger, however, was soothed by Crabannan, of all people.

“Come, shall we play?” And with that Crabannan strode forth to the center of the hall and struck on his harp a fast and merry tune. Erbrand soon followed and amidst the music and discussion of the hall, laughter began to arise.


Lithor

“No doubt, no doubt!” Lithor laughed as Matrim finished his story.

“But tell me, Matrim, what did the man say after that?”

“Why nothing. He just turned purple and walked away.”

This produced more laughter from the table. They had forgotten their uneasiness from Athanar’s speech. Modryth was coming around serving drinks.

“What this feast needs is a bit of livening up!” Lithor said after the laughter abated.

“What more could we need,” asked Osmund. “This is what we like: good food, good company, and a beautiful woman to flatter.” He winked at Modryth.

“I mean something else.” And with that being said, Lithor got up and strode to the wall were some of the armaments were hanging. After gathering several spears from the wall he strode to the center of the hall.

“Friends, friends!” he exclaimed with outstretched arms in a loud voice that silenced the music. “I would like to welcome our guests tonight for the duration of their stay with us here at Scarburg and to our gracious temporary lord.” Lithor bowed in the direction of the high table.

“First, allow me to introduce myself. My lord, gentlemen, I am Lithor. I am half horse, half lion, and a little kin to a snapping turtle. I have got the fastest horse, the prettiest sister, the surest lance, and the ugliest dog in the Middle-emnet. My father can lick any man in Dunland and I can lick my father. I can hug a bear too close for comfort and eat any man opposed to lord Eodwine.” His boasts produced some laughter from the crowd.

“As a challenge to all men here tonight I propose a friendly contest.” Lithor raised his spear and promptly threw it at a horizontal beam at the far end of the hall. The spear hit the beam with a thud that echoed through the hall. Murmurs began to arise.

“Friends!” Lithor cried again with outstretched arms. “As a gift to any of the newcomers who can throw their spear closest to mine, I will give to them my spear; three woolen coats for the oncoming winter; two quivers of arrows for the winter hunts; two swords for which I haggled from our dear smith Harreld; and twelve beaver pelts, which will catch a fair price at our local tanner.” Lithor looked at Erbrand and gave him a friendly wink. Erbrand frowned a little I never should have shown him how to set snares! Oh well, all for the greater good.

“So, in the name of friendly competition and of the honor of the individuals seated here tonight, step forward those who would take up this challenge!”
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