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Old 01-22-2006, 07:58 PM   #1
littlemanpoet
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Shield Eorling Mead Hall

Eorling Mead Hall

Eodwine paced around the common room with a knotted rope, measuring. It was early morning, the rising sun peaking in through the cracks between the joists that joined wall to ceiling.

Eodwine had much to think about.

Two days past, Bêthberry had taken her leave with the Easterling, Sööng. Eodwine wondered what old Tom Bombadil and Goldberry thought of their daughter running about middle earth with an Easterling. From what Eodwine had heard of the pair living far away on the edge of the Old Forest near the Shire of the Halflings, Bêthberry had their blessing.

Eodwine sighed, mostly contented and a little anxious.

Yesterday, he had gone to see the King, and had sued for mercy and understanding, begging his liege-lord to give the Wardenship of the Dunland Marches to another more deserving servant. Eodwine shook his head and smiled in bemusement at the King's response.

'I take back the Wardenship from you, Eodwine of the Gap,' King Éomer had said, 'and in its place lay upon your shoulders a new yoke mor fitting to one of my vassals that I would keep nearer out of friendship and proven trust.'

Eodwine had cocked his head and looked up at his king, surprised, pleased, and worrited as to what new yoke was coming; he could not refuse a second time, so he would have to live with whatever the king chose to bestow and hope for the best, or the least of the worst. He needn't have worried.

'I make you Eorl of the new Middle Emnet, for I have need of a trusted servant to be the lord, under me, of Edoras and its outlyers whilst I see to the needs of the whole Mark. Make a Mead Hall of this White HOrse Inn that you wish to inn-keep. Know then that as Eorl of your Mead Hall, all your guests stay without pay, for that is your duty as Eorl. Your livelihood must come by fees from vassals and fines from wrongdoers.'

Eodwine had been relieved that he was going to be allowed to keep the inn. And he was anxious regarding his new office. None in his family had been more than a freeholder, and the king had made him an Eorl! It was beyond all he had ever hoped! And not a little scarey. He'd need a bailliff, a couple soldiers at arms, and a few other folk to help run his mead hall.

And there was Gudryn to think about. More than ever the girl needed a mother, for he would be greatly distracted. He wondered if he should seek out Giedd. Not right now, though.

Master Falco Boffin of the Shire had been a greater help than Eodwine would have imagined, full of ideas and a willing pair of hands; though short of stature, the hobbit was quick and could get in small places with his deft hands. Very useful. Garreth and Harreld the blacksmiths had been quite congratulatory; they were off in their smithy for the day.

Saeryn and Æðelhild were still under roof, and of that Eodwine was glad. They had already spoken their willingness to be employed in his mead hall. It had been a great relief to have so many willing hands. Eodwine still needed to figure out what to do with the two pair of the willing lasses.

Frodides had offered to stay on as cook for a little while, but had said that her family needed her, and that as soon as she could be replaced, she would take her leave. Eodwine had thanked her for her willingness to stay on until replaced. But he felt pressed to give Frodides her freedom.

The ostler had also requested to move on. So someone new for the stables would need to be found, too.

There was much to do. The fireplace would have to be destroyed, the roof unmade and laid aside, its wood used to gird the new roof, and then thatch it. There was much to do, many questions to be answered. Eodwine whistled an old riding song of the Mark, basically happy with his lot.
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Old 01-24-2006, 02:33 PM   #2
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White Tree Gudryn Daughter of the Innkeeper

Gudryn's eyelids flickered lazily trying to pinch out the rays of the sun that flashed through the folds in her drapes. The sun was just making it's way above the horizon, the soft chirping of dawn birds already filling the air.

She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and made a mighty stretch before sitting up in bed. Gudryn was still getting used to the fact that Bêthberry no longer would be here as the Innkeeper, but Gudryn was more then happy when she asked that Eodwine take her place.

Her father an Innkeeper?

Gudryn giggled lightly before finally getting out of bed to get dressed for the day. For today would indeed be a busy one what with all the comings and goings of carpenters and craftsmen and those looking for a place to rest and perhaps a place to work.

She smiled as she made her way downstairs, noticing her father looking up at the support beams scratching his golden haired head while holding a piece of knotted rope in the other hand.

Her bare feet walked gracefully over to Eodwine and resumed the same stance of looking upwards to the ceiling a quizzical look played across her face.

"Goodmorning Father, would you have my help in this task?"
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Old 01-24-2006, 03:13 PM   #3
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Saeryn woke up to bittersweet memories. Bethberry had left... Saeryn had wept long over the loss. The woman had been so kind, helping her in many ways. Now Eodwine, Saeryn's friend and protector, would run the White Horse... but it was no longer to bear that name... As with every new beginning, there must be an end.

Saeryn climbed from her bed with a wince. Though it had been several days since her fall, her injuries were not quite healed to perfection. Her ribs still ached if she moved too uncarefully and her head still swam if she stood too quickly. She washed and dressed in soft breeches and a laced shirt, as was her custom these days, and left her hair unbraided. It still hurt too much to raise her arms long enough to tie it away from her face, much less to tame the stubborn curls in a long plait.

Padding barefooted into the Great Hall, she saw that nobody had yet risen. The Inn had been quiet for the past few days, which she could only be thankful for. She'd had much to think about and had slept long on Bethberry's parting orders to let herself heal before trying too much.

Now she needed to speak with Eodwine. While she did not believe that her friend would even consider turning her out, Saeryn felt useless and unhappy with her unhelpfulness. She could think of no place within a working Mead Hall, as this was, where she would fit. A run-away noble in hiding could not very well take a public role.

As she fretted, her footsteps slowed until she came to a stop still some feet away from Eodwine and his Gudryn. She stood, indecisive, and looked from her friends to the door she had entered from. Perhaps she would wait a little longer... she was uncertain... she should think longer before making a nuisance of herself...

She began to turn and retreat when she heard Eodwine address her.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:02 PM   #4
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Æðelhild was up with the dawn and had already completed the morning task of helping Frodides light the ovens ready for the morning bread then that done she set about airing and changing the linens of the unoccupied rooms, of which there were more than usual, with many of the guests leaving unsure of the inns future now that Bethberry gone.

She too had been at a loss wondering what she would do now. Bethberry had been kind to take her in and to give her work, but now she was gone and a new keep may not be so disposed to do so. However Eodwine had quickly allayed her fears informing them that he was to be the new proprietor and that he would have need of staff if she was willing. She had only been at the inn for a short time but already it held a place of warmth and safety for her amidst the air of uncertainty that was her life, so she had willingly agreed to stay on.

She walk down the stairs now carrying an armful of dirty linens for washing, Her dark hair bouncing about her shoulders, no longer the tangled mass it had been when she had first arrived and two days of rest and good food had brought some colour to her pale cheeks. Eodwine had not said what job he would have her do so she thought it best just to continue on as she had, wondering thoughtfully as she reached the bottom of the stairs if Eodwine had given thought to any of the more womanly tasks.

The fleeting image of the kings former messenger in apron with scrubbing board and soap to hand made her chuckle, almost causing her to catch her footing on a trailing linen but she saved herself just in time. Passing the opening to the old common room she saw that others where now up, the young auburn haired woman Saeryn who had befriended her in the stables stood talking with Eodwine and Gurdyn seeing her pass gave a small wave. Her hands full she simply nodded in reply and moved on through the kitchen to the large wooden wash basin that waited her and the linens out in the back courtyard.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:22 PM   #5
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"Goodmorning Father, would you have my help in this task?"

Eodwine turned, smiling, upon hearing the familiar voice of his daughter Gudryn. "Well now. Yes! I would. If you would take one end of this measuring rope in hand, then I can begin to jot down some numbers that I'll need for the work that must be done."

Gudryn took the rope-end quickly, and stood where her father asked. He was just about to begin stretching the rope across the room when he heard quiet footsteps.

"Ah! Good the morn, Saeryn! You're up early! How are you feeling?" Gudryn matched Eodwine's words with a greeting of her own.

"I am well, though a long night abed makes these sore ribs ache a bit. But that'll pass."

Eodwine grew stern of face, but with a smile and a wink. "Now now, you remember Bethberry's words. Rest up and let your ribs heal. Think not that I'll be letting you straddle a ladder and start wielding a mallet, not for a few days at least."

Saeryn's eyes went wide a moment. "Not until I can get my arm over my head!"

A fleeting shadow passed from hallway to kitchen almost quicker than eye could follow.

"Good morning to you, Æðelhild," Eodwine said out of hearing of the girl, a smirk on his face. So the mead hall was beginning to stir with the day. Much to do, much to do. When was Frodides arriving? He hoped it would be soon; measuring and figuring on and empty stomach was little to his liking. In the meantime, he and Gudryn continued measuring off the lengths and widths he needed for the making of the Hall that his mead hall was to be named for. Much to do, much to do!

One more thing he thought of, suddenly, was quick and willing feet for errands to be run to carpenters and the like. He glanced again at Saeryn, wondering if her legs were more fit than her arms.
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:01 PM   #6
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Gárwine son of Gárulf trotted his brown mare through the wooden gates of Edoras. His thick blond hair was matted with dirt and sweat and his clothes and skin were covered with dust. Across his back was strapped his spear, an iron-headed staff of oak, and his shield, planks of wood with peeling green paint. His chest was closed in a tarnished breastplate. His Gárwine felt hot and stifled in it, but there was no other way to carry it. Across his shoulders was wrapped a threadbare green cloak. His horse, Herefola, was tired and slow, but trotted on at her master's bidding. She wore the simplest saddle and bridle; it was barely suitable for anyone nobler than a farmer. Gárwine was the young son of a dead warrior, and he had traveled for days to reach Edoras, hoping to become a warrior in the service of a local Eorl. Since his father's death at the hands of orcs near the Entwood, Gárwine had not had the opportunity to travel to Edoras until now.

The thatched houses of Edoras shone with a golden light on this early morning. The entire city, perched upon a hilltop, shone across the land, crowned by Meduseld, where the King held his court. As Gárwine passed between the houses he craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the famed Golden Hall, where his future as a warrior would be decided. Herefola trotted up the cobblestone street, and Gárwine watched from her back the golden roofs move down the hill past them. Herefola halted at Meduseld's stone steps. Gárwine slid from her back. His legs ached from the days of riding, and when he walked it was with a stiff swagger. He ascended the steps, which offered a magnificent view of the sunrise over the fields of the Mark. The golden sun was rising and everything shone more magnificently than any field Gárwine had ever rode through. He greeted the doorward and removed his arms and the guards swung open the doors. Then Gárwine entered the Golden Hall.

The light was dim and only lit by sunlight slanting out of the eastern windows. The air was cool, and the fire was nothing more than a few embers. Tapestries hung in the shadows along the wall, retelling the Mark's history and the deeds of the kings. Across the hall, seated upon a dais, was Éomer Éadig, King of the Mark, speaking with a retainer. Gárwine felt embarrassed for a moment to be seen in such a noble hall in such an unkempt state. He brushed the hair out of his eyes and approached the king. He summoned his courage and spoke:

"Hail, Éomer Éadig, King of the Mark. My name is Gárwine son of Gárulf, and I seek to become a warrior in the service of the Mark." He bowed.

King Éomer turned his attention away from the retainer, who took his place to the side of the king. "Welcome, Gárwine son of Gárulf. I recognize that name. Now tell me, did your father ride with me when I was Third Marshall of the Mark?"

Gárwine nodded, "Yes, my lord." He hoped his father's reputation with the king would aid him.

"He was a brave man. He died valiantly for the Mark, a hero's death. I will remember him as a faithful companion in battle." He sighed, feeling the nostalgia of the old war and remembering those who had fallen in the thick of battle. "And your brother, Gárláf, also rode alonside me, no? His death was just as heroic as his father's; swinging his sword against the Easterlings at Pelennor." The king paused again. "And did your father teach you how to ride? How to wield a sword?"

"Yes, my lord. He taught me as much as he could."

The king nodded in approval, smiling. "Well, young Gárwine son of Gárulf, your father was a true warrior of the Mark, and it should be that sons follow their fathers' footsteps. I have recently established the new Middle Emnet. Its Eorl is Eodwine of the Gap, and he requires soldiers at arms. He is constructing a mead hall in this city by renovating an old inn that was once called the White Horse, and that is where you are to serve. It is not far from here."

Gárwine swore an oath of fealty, bowed once more, and then left the hall. Outside the sun was crawling its way above the horizon. The city was awakening, and more people were in the streets. Gárwine, elated at his new job, mounted Herefola and rode in the direction of the mead hall as he was instructed. He reminded himself that without his father's good reputation, he would still be laboring for Uncle Wilfrid, without any chance of becoming a soldier at arms.

He and Herefola turned a corner and found themselves before one of the thatched buildings, but this one was surrounded by stacks of boards and piles of hammers and nails. Measuring ropes lay coiled atop a crate, and a ladder led up to the roof. All that was needed was a handful of carpenters and this would be a perfect building project. This was surely the soon-to-be Mead Hall. Even a sign, carved and painted in the likeness of a white horse, lay upon the ground, removed from its place above the door. This was the former White Horse Inn.

Gárwine slipped off of his horse and tied the reins around a post across the cobblestone street. Then he entered the inn and came into a common room of sorts, where a man and a young maiden stood at the wall measuring out the size of the room and its various beams of the walls and ceiling. Another maiden, with auburn hair, stood nearby, rubbing her ribs and arms as though they ached. They were greeting each other good morning, and when Gárwine entered they had just said hello to yet another woman passing by a doorway. Gárwine gave a gentle cough to alert them of his presence.

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Old 01-24-2006, 11:50 PM   #7
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Saeryn welcomed the young man to the Hall, graciously taking from him cloak and name.

"You seek for Eodwine, young lord?" she smiled prettily and the young man wondered who she was and how she had come to be there, for she seemed unescorted and looked little like the master of the hall. "A bite to eat? I fear that it may not be up to the usual standards... as you can see, we are renovating... however it will be nourishing and fresh, if not exquisite. Or perhaps a drink? A kettle is on or cold water could be brought."

Small details seen too, Saeryn led the tired looking lad to Eodwine who had viewed the exchange with a contemplative look. "Gárwine, you stand before Eodwine of the Gap. I will bring you water and see to your mount. She will be comfortable in the stables as matters are dealt with here."

Bowing her head slightly, Saeryn swept away. She pulled on boots before striding to the kitchen. She drew a pitcher of water and gathered some breakfast items, settling them neatly onto a tray. Balancing it carefully, she returned to the Hall and set it upon a table nearby to where Eodwine now spoke with Gárwine. Unobtrusively, she slipped from the building and retrieved the lad's horse. A short time later, she had finished feeding and watering the beast and slid again into the room. Eodwine nodded encouragingly to her as she disappeared through the door toward her room once more.

If the Mead Hall was soon to fill with strangers, she must look presentable. At the very least, she ought to wear shoes.
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Old 01-25-2006, 11:01 AM   #8
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A few of the men-at-arms from Meduseld stood clumped together to one side of the night’s fire. They ignored the dying flames, now that the sun’s light peeped through the window of the small room - the fire’s heat and light would not longer be needed. They spoke quietly together until one of them laughed and stepped back.

“Nay, not me, friends,” he said. “I’m well enough off here. But Thornden here might be willing.” He motioned with his head and thumb over his shoulder towards a figure sitting off alone underneath the window. The pouring sunlight fell on a piece of paper in his hand and his head was bent above it. “He needs a change of scenery.”

One of the man’s companion’s laughed and looked at Thornden. “I say, fellow, what’s the news that keeps you so secretly apart?”

Thornden raised his head and looking up, caught sight of all four eyes studying him. An easy smile broke out across his face. “Nothing secret,” he said, folding the letter and tucking it away in a pocket. “My sister has had a son, that is all, and she was writing to tell me of it.” He stood up, unfolding his long legs and walked towards the others. “But what’s kept you and your heads locked together for so long? I’ve a right to ask that question, now I’ve told you what’s in my letter.”

“Have you heard the news - about the new mead hall? King Eomer has set Eodwine of the Gap over it. He’ll be needing all sorts of people. . .men-at-arms, and whatnot.”

“I wouldn’t need so little a change of scene just to become a guard somewhere else,” Thornden said, nodding to the man who had said that earlier. “Too much trouble for too little change.”

“No, but he’ll need a bailiff of some sort,” another one said. “And you with your, well, imposing figure, would be enough to scare any villainy out of any villain as soon as you walked into the room! Eodwine wouldn’t have any trouble for months, if you stayed around.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Thornden asked, laughing. He stopped their cries of protest and defense, waving his hand. “No, no, I understand you mean no harm. But that is an interesting thought, now isn’t it? And being out of the regular guard and being there would give me a chance to see. . .at least my sister, if not the others. . .” he was elapsing back into his own thought, still talking aloud. His four companions stood by, listening and watching intently, waiting to see if he would make up his mind. And after a moment, he did. His head lifted again and his merry, hazel eyes had the answer written inside them. “Well, I think I’ll take your idea and go. The worse he can do is say that he doesn’t want me, and then I’ll come back and join you. No doubt it’d be a simple matter enough. Where’s the captain?”

It took little time to make his request and get permission to leave the company of guard, and before an hour had passed, Thornden was walking away from the Golden Hall and down the cobbled streets of Edoras, towards the new mead hall. His tall, broad figure brought a few glances as he passed through the familiar streets, but he paid no mind. He knew the way to the old White Horse Inn and his feet with their long strides brought him quickly to the front doorway. There, he paused one minute, glanced down at the old sign of the White Horse leaning against the wall and at the building materiels gathered about.

Well, this was it. Something new was to begin here, hopefully. He put his hand to the door latch and went in, bowing his head ever so slightly in the doorway.
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:44 PM   #9
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After Særyn left them, Eodwine handed the measuring rope to Gudryn. "Break your fast, my dear, before you're blown away by the wind. And ask Frodides if there might be any fare for me, if you please."

"Yes, father!" Gudryn grinned and ran off to the kitchen.

Gárwine looked to be a stout young lad, if a little dirty and travel worn. Eodwine, in his turn, seemed tallish and well kept for a man of his forty or so years. His hair was the color of corn ripe in the cob, but soft as silk; and his eyes were the deep blue of the sky on a hot summer day at noon. He smiled quickly and often.

"Well met and welcome, Gárwine," Eodwine said. "Who is your father? And what brings you here?"

And so the conversation began. Eodwine learned of Gárulf, and of the king's orders upon the young man.

"You would be a guard in my hall then?" Eodwine looked him in the eye, but kindly.

"Aye, I would, lord."

"Well then, we must swear oath each to the other, and then I must decide just what I need guarding from! But first, food! You look hungery!"

It seemed that Frodides had not only arrived to prepare breakfast, but had done so very quietly and unnoticed while he and Gudryn had measured the room's fixtures: Gudryn brought out with a tray bearing three hot mugs and three plates piled high with eggs and rashers of bacon, and hearty black bread. Eodwine and Gárwine pulled a table away from the wall, set three chairs about it, and the three of them fell to.

Not long after they had begun to break their fast, a tall man came through the front door, a warrior in the employ of Meduseld by the look of him. Eodwine wiped his mouth on his sleeve and stood.

"Hail, Eorlinga! I am Eodwine of the Gap, Eorl of the Middle Emnet. How are you called, and how may I host you?"
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Old 01-25-2006, 04:16 PM   #10
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“Hail, Eodwine,” Thornden said, bowing slightly to the man, “I am Thornden, son of Thrinlite, recently of the Guards of Meduseld. I’ve been sent by some of my companions who thought that this new opening of a mead hall may offer me some new change.” He paused a moment, and Eodwine waited for him to continue.

“I have no one to recommend me but myself, sir, but if you are in need of someone to. . .work as a bailiff, keeping your hall clear of any uncertain, or unruly visitors, I would be very much obliged if you allowed me to take such a place. I have been a part of the Company of Men-at-Arms at the Golden Hall for the past year. . .the captain has given me leave to come and ask you if you would need my services.”
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Old 01-25-2006, 04:37 PM   #11
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Stopping beside a tree for a moment to rest her weary legs, Kara looked in relief at the wooden building not too far from where she stood. She felt to have been walking for weeks though in reality it had been but three days. Three days since the place she called home had burnt down thanks to the foolishness of the man who had taken more drink that was good for him and had gone to smoke on the roof. Kara had woken up amid screaming and thick smoke and had joined the rest of the Inn's patrons outside, where she watched the flames take hold.

The Innkeeper, a kind man who after hearing her tale of the death of her parents and brother had allowed her to stay in the Inn without paying for room and board so long as she did whatever needed to be done around the place, had been devastated. His home and his livelihood had been destroyed, yet he still offered Kara money to help her with the journey she must now undertake to find a new home. She had refused, unwilling to take anything from this man who had already lost everything. All she had been willing to take was advice.

"Well at least then you must go where you will be needed." He had told her. "I have heard tell that there is a new Mead Hall not so far from here, and Eodwine, the Eorl, is sure to need a set of willing hands and feet. Go there girl, and good luck."

So Kara had done as he asked, and was now standing just a few feet away. She had seen people going in, and they had all seemed to receive a warm reception. Hoisting her bag a little further up she set her shoulders and marched onwards. Reaching the door she could see two men inside, clearly involved in conversation. Slipping in quietly, she lowered her pack to the floor and waited.
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Old 01-25-2006, 04:51 PM   #12
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Saeryn, bored quickly with staying out of the action, had slipped back into the hall. Eodwine shared his meal with his daughter and the young man whose horse Saeryn had cared for. She liked the young man, though knowing him little, based solely on his horse's temperment. The beast was gentle and patient, social, and sweet-tempered. She hoped Eodwine would keep him around... new faces were always welcome, so long as they were not her brother's spies.

She sat as unobtrusively as she could, taking advantage of the shadows left unhindered by the early morning light. While she did not wish to interrupt private business, she was unable to keep herself occupied alone for long. Her thoughts had returned to her place the moment she had finished caring for Gárwine's mount.

Until she had run from home, she had known her place. With Bethberry, she had felt secure even though she was uncertain of her future. Now that Eodwine had assured her that she was not to concern herself with payment or attempts to leave for foolish reasons, she wondered constantly what constituted a foolish reason and how she would earn her keep. It was unfair of her to stay, she thought. There was nothing she was good at. I talk to people, she thought. I make them smile. A lot of good that will do my lord. Unhappily, she watched the shadows play across the floor.

Now the door slid open and Eodwine looked up, noting a girl standing there. He looked to Saeryn who was surprised, though should not have been, that he had known her there. She nodded imperceptibly and rose, walking to the girl.

"My name is Saeryn. The master of the hall is in the middle of something, however he will be with you in a moment. While you wait, may I be of assistance?"

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Old 01-25-2006, 06:54 PM   #13
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Léofric shifted his weight anxiously from foot to foot. This was the first man he’d talked to that hadn’t turned him down outright, and while he didn’t have a lot of hope, he was running out of options. The man sighed. “How old are you, lad?”

“Sixteen, sir.” He would have lied about his age, but with his thin frame and boyish (and probably dirt-smudged) features he already looked more like thirteen or fourteen. He wasn’t a terribly good liar, anyway.

The man looked like he wanted to say yes, but Léof could tell he wouldn’t. “Listen, I wish I could help you, and I’m sure you’re a hard worker, but I really don’t need any more help around here. Good luck, though.”

Léof tried not to let his disappointment show on this face. “Thank you anyway, sir.” He started to turn around and head out when the man called out to him. “Hang on, there, I may be able to help you a bit after all.” Léof turned around, trying not to get his hopes up too much. “The inn in these parts, The White Horse, has just closed down – they’re making a mead hall out of the place, if what I hear is correct. You may be able to find some work there.” He gave him directions, and Léof set off again with a word of thanks.

He untied his chestnut mare Æthel from the post and led her down the road. She had picked up a stone in her hoof sometime yesterday, and while she seemed to be walking all right now, Léof saw no need to take any risks when he was traveling such a short way.

He found the building as it had been described and once again tied Æthel out in front. “If we’re lucky, girl, you might have yourself a stall here soon,” he murmured. He left her with a fond pat and walked up to the former inn. He took a deep, hopeful breath and opened the door with some trepidation, wondering what he might find.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dimmer interior, but he found that there seemed no one likely to talk to who wasn’t already busy. He considered just leaving, but he had found his first real opportunity and didn’t care to blow it. He could only wait uncomfortably either for someone to notice him or for someone to become un-busy.
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Old 01-25-2006, 08:56 PM   #14
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Thornden had introduced himself confidently and forthrightly. Eodwine liked that, and expected no less of a Guard from the Golden Hall.

"Indeed I do need a steward, but the man that I would take under me in such a stead must be willing to do more than keep my hall clear of unruly visitors, as needful as that may be from time to time. I need a right hand man. A man who can take my place when I cannot be here. A man to keep order of other men, and my ledgers, and to give orders in my name. Such a man must be my almbudsman as well, and take coin paid in fee and fine both honestly and justly. It is a high place in my hall. Are you worthy of it?"

Thornden's eyes had widened slightly as the job had become much greater than he had at first realized, but quickly regained his composure. He was about to speak when Eodwine stopped him with a raised hand.

"A moment, friend, for this is the very kind of thing I need you for, if you it be. Come with me." Eodwine nodded to the front door. Strangers were arriving faster than a mountain stream, it seemed. Særyn was busy with one of them, while another waited. Eodwine was quite glad that Særyn had taken it upon herself to act as hostess. He would have to speak more with her about that; the role seemed to come to her as easily as flight to a bird.

"Good morn, friend!" Eodwine approached the lad, Thornden at his flank. He was not quite a man but no mere boy by the look of him. "I am Eodwine of the Gap, Eorl of Middle Emnet and host of this hall. How are you called, and how may I host you?"

"I am called Léofric, lord, and I came hoping to earn my keep if that can be."

"I see. Can you do wood work? cleaning? stabling? guarding?"
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Old 01-25-2006, 09:49 PM   #15
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Gárwine now sat alone with Gudryn as Eodwine and Thornden welcomed visitors at the entryway. He munched on his bacon in silence. His experience with females was limited, especially during his stay with Uncle Wilfrid. So he ate breakfast and pretended to watch Eodwine and Thornden meet Léofric. He was a carpenter or some other sort of laborer, who had probably came to aid with the construction of the mead hall.

Gárwine's stomach had ached with hunger all during his ride to Edoras. Now as he filled the void in his stomach he only felt hungrier and hungrier as he realized how long it had been since good, hearty food like this had passed his lips. His plate emptied at an alarming rate. Gárwine, not wanting to seem too gluttonous, paused his feasting to stretch his arms. He decided to ask Gudryn about the many women of the inn.

"So, you are Eodwine's daughter?" He asked.

She nodded, chewing a mouthful of bread.

He asked about the other women he had seen. "And Saeryn, what is her relation to Eodwine? She is not your sister, is she?" He took a bite of bread. "And I saw, as I entered, a maiden, arms piled high with laundry, pass by that door. Who was she?"
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Old 01-25-2006, 10:36 PM   #16
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Léof could not help but be impressed – and slightly intimidated - by Eodwine; here was a man who was easily more lordly than any he had ever met. Yet he seemed interested, and Léof wanted to make a good impression.

“I am not choosy, lord; I would work hard at whatever tasks you might have for me.” And he spoke truly. Though such a job as cleaning appealed little to him, he would do it if need be. Eodwine had mentioned stabling, though – Léof’s heart began to race. He had no idea whether he was in a position to be choosy, but he had to try. “But if it pleases you, I am good with the horses. If you have need of an ostler, it is a job I would gladly take.”

He could hardly bear to hope that he might take a job doing what he most loved to do. His father had never cared much for the horses, and always said he spent too much time with them when he ought to be doing other things. Eodwine did not promptly respond, and Léof now feared rejection too much to be able to keep his mouth closed while another decided his fate.

“At any rate, my own horse has need of care, and neither of us has seen the inside of a stable for several days…” He realized he had begun to babble and shut his mouth abruptly. If he had not already made a fool out of himself, he figured that he almost certainly would soon, and then why would anyone want him for a stableboy?
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Old 01-26-2006, 10:38 AM   #17
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Eodwine watched the lad try to look and act his best. He remembered many years before, when he had just been sent from home to be counted amongst the Riders of the West Emnet - be for Saruman had begun to do evil and that Ring that caused all the War had as yet been hiding in the Shire - Eodwine recalled how eager he had been to please, to prove himself, even if he had to stumble and fall a few times along the way. He warmed to the lad. Smiling, he placed his right hand on the lad's left shoulder.

"Would you be my ostler then?" Léofric nodded eagerly, eyes wide with hope. "You come with no name that I have heard to tell me who you are; so I will need to test you. You shall have a month to be my ostler. Should all go well, then we shall enfeof you for one year. What say you?" He released the lad's shoulder.

Léofric's face brightened with a big smile. "You will see your stables in good order at the end of the month, lord!"

Eodwine laughed. "So let it be."

Léofric's face grew serious as he eyed the plate of Gudryn at the table nearby where she and Gárwine sat. "Before I begin, might I have a bite to eat? Just a little?"

"Famished, are you?" Eodwine smiled. "Go ask Særyn over yonder to fix you up with a hearty breakfast. I'll not have it said in my hall that my help works overhungry." The lad grinned, shouldered his pack, and went after Særyn. Eodwine turned to Thornden.

"What think you, Thornden?"
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Old 01-26-2006, 10:46 AM   #18
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"My name is Saeryn. The master of the hall is in the middle of something, however he will be with you in a moment. While you wait, may I be of assistance?"

A little startled at the sudden appearance from the shadows, it took Kara a moment to realise that the girl was speaking to her. She hadn't known there was anyone else in the room but the two men talking. Taking a deep breath in an attempt to steady her nerves she began to speak.

"Oh! Well, miss, I was hoping that I'd be able to find work here. Do you know if there is anything available? I have worked in an Inn before, and have been told that a Mead Hall is similar. I will take anything you can offer, miss, if only I could stay here. You see I . . ."

She cut her words off short as she realised that Saeryn probably didn't want to hear her entire life story. The girl was nodding a little though, which gave Kara hope. Fidgeting a little she waited for an answer.
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Old 01-26-2006, 11:28 AM   #19
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Thornden, watching the lad leave, turned back to Eodwine, who addressed him. “What think you, Thornden?”

“I should imagine, sir, that you’ve managed to find a good lad for your ostler. He seemed eager enough, and I doubt he’ll let you down, or let your stables get out of order.”

Quite personally, he had liked the looks of Léofric. A mite small, perhaps, but that was better than a great blundering idiot to work around horses. And then, also, he had seemed excited and hopeful to work with horses.

“Besides,” he added aloud, going half on his thoughts and half on what he had just said, “his cause seemed desperate and it would have been a pity to turn him away.” Thornden had not missed the anxious, worried look in the boys eyes for fear of his service being turned down, nor the hungry, thin shape of his face. "I'm glad you've given him a chance to try, at least."
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Old 01-26-2006, 01:24 PM   #20
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"I cannot offer you a position." Saeryn said to Kara, hoisting her bag from the floor with a barely perceptible wince. "My lord, however, is quite in the position to do so. He has need of hard workers and has a liking for new faces and the new stories that come with them. His kindly manner will put you at ease right away, if my attempts have not."

Saeryn smiled at the girl, inviting her to join with her amusement. The girl looked to relax somewhat. A kind face was always the first thing a stranger looked for and Saeryn hoped that she had provided as close to the sort of welcome she had received from Bethberry as was possible.

She tipped her head toward Eodwine and the girl nodded. Together they walked to the eorl and Saeryn grinned pertly.

"Eodwine, I've found you another worker. If the day continues in this vein, you'll never have need for those to do your bidding. Shall I find her quarters and put her to work? I seem to remember floors in need of scrubbing and fireplaces in need of a good cleaning."

She winked at the girl who looked intimidated.

"Actually," she continued, "I could use her help, if you don't mind me stealing her away before you even have a chance to speak with her. Your hall has acquired new faces that are in want of places to stay and what with renovations, the kitchens are running slower than usual. We have guests to feed and things to do and you have bigger things to worry about than household matters."

Eodwine laughed now and Kara seemed more at ease, as Saeryn had said she would be. He spoke with a smile.

"Now Saeryn, do you mean to imply that I'm thinking myself too grand now to handle women's work?"

"Not at all. I'm just better at it than you are." She stuck out her tongue and Kara laughed to see the sort of reverence with which this girl treated the lord of the hall. "And come now, Eodwine, you know that you'll be too busy to handle all of the business of the hall as well as your duties as eorl and still tend to the needs of every guest in the place.

"There is only so much time in the day and your attentions can only stretch so far. You've already acquired a steward to care for some of those things, but will your steward also be ascertaining that each room has clean linens and that meals are seen to? Will he tend to market matters and see to it that the floors are kept clean? Will your steward or yourself have time to keep spiders webs from decorating the mantle and mediate household disputes that are not of enough consequence to be brought before you? Though you are capable, Eodwine, as I've seen, do you truly now have the time to manage the little matters of the house? I would gladly take the responsibility from you, if you don't mind it."

Eodwine contemplated her point for a bit as Kara stood wondering just what sort of place she had gotten herself into where the helpers told the master what they planned to do in his charge. Saeryn hoped that her offer had not been too audacious as she waited for an answer. Kara waited to see what the lord of the hall would make of her.
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Old 01-26-2006, 01:38 PM   #21
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Gudryn was just finishing her meal when the young man, Gárwine, began to speak with her. He stretched his arms up behind him and then relaxed.

"So, you are Eodwine's daughter?" He asked.

She nodded, chewing a mouthful of bread. She then pushed her empty plate slightly away from herself as Gárwine paused in contemplation.

"And Saeryn, what is her relation to Eodwine? She is not your sister, is she?" He took a bite of bread. "And I saw, as I entered, a maiden, arms piled high with laundry, pass by that door. Who was she?"

Gudryn's eyes widened with surprise, Saeryn her sister?, she shook her head and giggled. "Aside from our auburn locks good sir, Saeryn and I have little else in common besides friendship. She is also a good friend of my Father as well, but I suppose we could all be considered family".

"And the young maiden you saw bustling by goes by the name of Æðelhild. I'm afraid I don't know her all that well, I'm hoping that will change in a few days"

Gudryn smiled again his way thinking that the young man still looked hungry. Of course his journey must have been long indeed like so many others that had recently arrived.

Gudryn was glad that others had the resolve to change their fates as well, very much like she had so many weeks ago. Arriving in Edoras only to meekly thud against the oaken door of the Inn as she collapsed from cold and fatigue.

The thin girl stood taking up her plate and smiling, "would you like another helping sir Gárwine? I'm sure there's plenty more back in the kitchen". Before he could answer however, Gudryn had already taken his plate and was halfway back to the kitchen when she turned and called back "and when I return you may ask me more questions if it pleases you, I will do my best to sate your stomach and mind". She winked and continued on her way.

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Old 01-26-2006, 02:54 PM   #22
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“Now let’s not get our hopes up and jump to conclusions,” Thornden said, his eyebrows shooting up in surprise. He looked at the young woman who address Eodwine of the Gap and smiled at her. “My lord Eodwine has said neither yea or nay towards my stewardship.”

“He hasn’t answered you yet!” Saeryn said, looking surprised herself. “What have your heads been together so long about then?”

“Why, to come to some end of that purpose, no doubt, but we haven’t yet arrived to it. He was greeting anther young man who came in after me. That one, waiting for you to pay some attention to him.” He nodded his head in the direction of Léofric, “and beyond that, our heads haven’t been too close together anyway."

Saeryn turned and looked, catching sight of Léofric for the first time. She’d left him something of a lurch, it appeared, and he stood looking after her and at a loss with what to do with himself. Thornden bent closer to Saeryn and said quietly in her ear, “He’s in desperate need of breakfast, and Eodwine sent him to ask you for it. . ."
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Old 01-26-2006, 04:56 PM   #23
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Léof found himself at a slight loss when he had started to head over to the woman called Saeryn, only to have her and another woman walk right past him to the place he had just been. He would certainly seem foolish to simply turn around and go back. When he saw her turn and glance at him, though, he supposed she would be coming to him soon, and he had already waited this long for a really good meal; a little bit longer wouldn’t kill him. He could not deny that the promising scent of good food did not make his mouth water, though. Good food, kind, lordly people, a job - Léof could hardly believe this place was for real.

His mind turned again to Eodwine’s offer. The job was his! Or, at least it would be in a month, and this chance – a very fair one, at that – was all Léof could ask for. After having been turned down so many times.... Well, now that his position seemed stable, he could start thinking about the future.

His thoughts were interrupted when Saeryn approached him and introduced herself. “It’s breakfast you’re wanting, then? Please, sit down and I can get you a plate.” Léof could not help but feel at ease with her cheery manner, and he smiled and nodded. “Thank you very much.”

She went off to the kitchen, and he wandered over to the table now occupied by only one man - he thought he had seen a woman leave before. He smiled tentatively. “Um… Do you mind if I sit here? My name is Léofric, though more people just call me Léof…”

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Old 01-26-2006, 05:29 PM   #24
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Saeryn left Kara to Eodwine with a comforting squeeze on her shoulder. As she bustled about the kitchen, fetching the poor lad a big breakfast (he certainly looked in need of it) with extra butter and honey for his bread, she hummed happily.

As long as Eodwine agreed, and she would talk to him privately on the matter once he was less busy, it seemed that Saeryn had found a well-fit niche for herself. She just hoped that she'd not have to trade her comfortable breeches for skirts and an apron. She rolled her eyes at the thought as she hefted the loaded tray and carried it back to the hall.

"Here you are, Master Lèof, and my sincerest apologies for the delay. As you saw, I had yonder lass to attend to and did not realize that Eodwine had sent you to me. I hope you will accept this as a token of my sorrow." She pointed to a rich looking bit of dessert that made the lad's eyes open wide.

"With breakfast?!" he managed to sputter.

"Unless you're not hungry. In that case, I'll just take--"

"No ma'am." He stopped her quickly. "I mean no disrespect... I was just surprised at--"

Saeryn smiled reassurance.

"Don't tell Eodwine." she grinned. "He'll fuss over need for healthy food. But if you'll look, there's all kinds of fodder quite good for a growing lad. The dainty's just a wee bit of extra. Make sure to eat it last, now."

He nodded and eagerly began to eat.

"There's quite enough for you, as well, m'lord." She nodded politely to the man also at the table and he thanked her as she walked away.

She disappeared toward the rooms to make certain there were plenty enough blankets and clean linens for each room needed. While she never doubted Bethberry's care over the situation, she felt that she ought to make sure.
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:55 PM   #25
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Eodwine had asked his open ended question of Thornden on purpose. Leave a big enough opening for the young man to walk into with that which is real about him ... unless he be a deceiver, which is most doubtful of a king's man. Thornden's reply did not displease him. His kindly thoughts for the lad's health boded well. Nor did Eodwine doubt that Thornden could be firm at need. However, he wanted to hear more about the man's thought as to the role of steward that he had described to him. He was just about to ask him when Særyn came and introduced the lass Kara, and boldly described to him a job she saw that needed doing, and her intentions to do it, so it please him. It did, though she needn't know that just yet.

Eodwine smiled to himself. There was much more about that lass than met the eye, to be sure. There had been a tone almost of command, and Thornden had noticed it as well, though it had surprised him, taking it as being beyond her place. Eodwine wondered if it truly was beyond her place, or was she now taking a place that was beneath her? He would keep an eye on that now and then, for no other reason than to please his own curiosity.

"A moment more, Thornden," Eodwine said and was about to turn to the lass Kara when he glanced at the table where sat his foster daughter, Gudryn. She seemed very happy this morning, and that pleased him. The young man, Gárwine, who broke his fast with her, was trading words with her, and she was smiling. Sudden thoughts of suitors and betrothals flitted through his head and he felt almost ill with the prospect of such matters. With a mental shake of his head he put it out of his mind and turned to Kara, standing before him somewhat ill at ease. He smiled kindly.

"Good greeting, Kara. Særyn speaks on your behalf. What work would you do here if given the choice?"
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:58 PM   #26
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Sat on a low wooden stool , with her sleeves rolled up past her elbows over a large basin filled with warm soapy water Æðelhild pulled the last of the linens up and down the well used wash board. She hummed as she worked, then as she rose carrying the dripping linens to the wrangle and thinking herself quite alone she began to sing.

My Lord the Sun is bright,
so bright!
Shall I open the back gate and hang out the laundry.
Washing makes white,
starching makes whiter,


The fun-loving maid makes
a lousy wife.
A long pipe dangles from her mouth
and she holds eight cards in her hand.
If she wins, she buys flowers to pin to her dress.
If she loses, she flies into a terrible rage.


My Lady the sun is bright,
so bright!
Shall I Open the back gate and hang out the laundry.
Washing makes white,
starching makes whiter,


but a man too free with his money makes
a lousy husband.
He loves to drink liquor and he loves to play cards.
He builds a big pile of pies and cakes
and brown flour biscuits - two silver shillings apiece.


But right next door, old Wybert’s third son
knows how to live well.
His boots are green,
his hat is green,
his robe is green
and he wears a green jacket.


But the washing is good
And the drying is better
So if you make me a wife
I’ll make ye a husband
And another can take out the laundry!


By the time she had finished her tune the linens where wrung and she was pegging the last on a crudely constructed line, her steps where light as she danced over to empty out the soapy tub, the sun was warm and for the first time in a long time Æðelhild felt that she had somehow managed to escape the recent horrors of her past.

She could not go back to who she was, but perhaps here she could at least start anew. Eodwine and his daughter seemed nice enough and if she was careful her past might never catch up to her. Contented she stowed away both the wash tub and board, deciding that she would break fast in the main hall before turning to the task of sweeping the floors.

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Old 01-26-2006, 07:01 PM   #27
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Gárwine had happily greeted Léof to his table and they both began to talk. Gárwine told him of his father's service as a rider under Éomer during the war, and how he was slain near the Entwood fighting orcs from Isengard.

"That was when I decided to become a warrior, but the opportunity would not come while living with my Uncle Wilfrid, who was quite a sluggish brute. So some days ago I left him and I rode for days to reach Edoras, where the King, just earlier this morning, assigned me to be a soldier-at-arms at this very inn."

He ended just as Saeryn approached, and she served the two young men more breakfast, along with sweet desserts that were not to be spoken of to Eodwine. She smiled and hurried off. Gárwine began the second course of his berakfast, musing over the meaning of the desserts. It was obvious that she liked at least one of the two, but if one, which? She had teased Léof playfully, and addressed Gárwine as "my lord" . . . And what of Gudryn's winking and smiling? And as he thought about this Gárwine's hunger was now waning, and he no longer took as large bites or ate as quickly as he did, but he always had room in his stomach for one more bite of Saeryn's and Gudryn's cooking. He still cleaned his plate; it only took longer.

Gárwine wanted to speak more with Léofric. "So, friend Léof, tell me what business brings you here to this inn. Are you a carpenter, perhaps?"

"Oh, no. I am an ostler. Eodwine has given me one month here to prove myself."

Gárwine nodded approvingly. Léof would take good care of Herefola .

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Old 01-27-2006, 10:44 AM   #28
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"Good greeting, Kara. Særyn speaks on your behalf. What work would you do here if given the choice?"

Listening to Saeryn talk to this seemingly mild-mannered man had put Kara a little more at ease, though she would not relax properly until she knew whether she was certain of a place here.

"I would do anything that is offered, sir. I cook well enough to suit simple tastes and have had experience with serving both food and drink. I can feed and brush down horses, well, those I can reach to the top of anyway! Cleaning and tidying, showing people to their rooms - please just tell me what it is you need and I'm sure I can fill some gap."

Lapsing into silence she waited apprehensively to hear what her future was to be. Eodwine looked as though he had thought of something for her, but she wasn't about to get her hopes up just for them to be dashed by a refusal.
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Old 01-27-2006, 02:19 PM   #29
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Gudryn was about to return to the main hall with a tray laden with food when Saeryn walked briskly in doing much the same to a clean plate. She even added a piece of dessert, she looked to Gudryn with a finger held up to her lips as if to say don't tell anyone.

Gudryn smiled slyly and before Saeryn had a chance to leave she asked if she would serve up this platter to the other young man sitting at the table. The young lass secretly slipped a piece of dessert onto the plate and Saeryn with a grin was out the door.

She was helping the cook Frodides, by keeping the kitchen clean when she accidently bumped into young Æðelhild. "My pardon, I'm rather clumsy around the kitchen" Gudryn smiled rather sheepishly to reassure the lass that everything was quite alright.

"I don't suppose you've yet eaten have you?", Æðelhild shook her head, "well here you go then", she handed the young lass a plate just as full as those of the lads. And with that she scurried off to the common room to join the others.

Gudryn cleaned off her hands and joined the others at the table, sitting right across from Gárwine and another lad who had recently joined the table. She merely smiled not wanting to interrupt their conversation.
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Old 01-27-2006, 05:14 PM   #30
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"...please just tell me what it is you need and I'm sure I can fill some gap," said Kara.

She certainly seemed eager; nay, anxious.

"Well now, cooking is a skill and art that must be tested. Go to Frodides in the kitchen, and help her today. If she finds you enough of a helping hand, and a passing fair cook, then we will give you a week's time to prove your skill by learning Frodides' dishes. After that, we can talk about you trying some of your own. What say you?"

"Thank you!"

"Go then," he smiled. Kara bowed and thanked him again, and scurried off to the kitchen.

"Before this day is out," Eodwine murmured, "I must find that old White Horse sign and put it in safe keeping, for I have a thought of how I would like to use it. Sad it would be for the builders to destroy it."

Eodwine turned to Thornden again. "Maybe now you and I can talk more about the role of steward here. Let us go sit by the hearth fire while it still stands in the wall, and I would hear you speak at length of how you would be my steward."
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Old 01-27-2006, 06:16 PM   #31
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Léof had been content to let Gárwine do most of the talking as they ate; he was hungry, and the food tasted extraordinary. He found himself liking Gárwine, and Léof hoped that perhaps he had found a friend in this unfamiliar place. But this did not prevent his personal barriers from creeping up when Gárwine began inquiring about his own story.

"So, friend Léof, tell me what business brings you here to this inn. Are you a carpenter, perhaps?"

Léof shook his head and grinned at the thought of himself as a carpenter. "Oh, no. I am an ostler. Eodwine has given me one month here to prove myself.” This reminded him of Æthel, still tied to the post outside the inn. “In fact, my own horse is still waiting for me outside, so I have time for only a brief tale before I must see to her.” At this point one of the serving girls approached their table and sat down; she seemed not to want to interrupt their conversation, so Léof only smiled back at her before going on. Her presence did, however, change a few things: any of the really important bits of his story that he had been considering sharing were now edited out until he knew more about her.

“I lived a few days’ journey west of here; my father is a farmer. Farming is not what I wanted to do with my life; I preferred to work with the horses. So with my father’s blessing I left the farm and came here, hoping to find some kind of work.” This last statement was a gross misinterpretation of the true events; his father’s “blessing” had actually been an order to get out; the harsh words still rang in his ears. And too, his hope to find work had been more like sheer desperation, but neither of these two would be able to figure this out, he hoped.

This past shamed him, especially compared with Gárwine’s noble tale. Eventually, he might be able to tell them, but for now, he could not let word of his banishment from his father’s house hurt his chances at establishing some kind of life here. “Much simpler than your story, perhaps,” said Léof, sadly noting the irony of this statement: if only his tale really was so simple. “But I really must be tending to my horse – I will come back later, or you could come out with me now, if you prefer. I would not mind the company.”

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Old 01-27-2006, 06:37 PM   #32
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1420!

Entering the old Common room Æðelhild nervously looked around. All the tables bar one had been pushed against the far wall, ready for the work needing done to turn the ample common room into a mead hall fit for the new Eorl of Middle Emnet. Lord Eodwine stood with a tall, broad shouldered man to his right shoulder as he addressed a rather anxious looking young girl and even as Æðelhild crossed the room to the table the young lass with a broad smile fixed in place passed behind her toward the kitchens.

The table itself was occupied by a thin lad who’s boyish features made him look no older than his fourteenth year, but to Æðelhild who knew that first appearances could be deceiving it meant nothing, For she herself looked no older than fifteen when infact she was well into her seventeenth year and fast approaching womanhood. Sitting next to the young lad was a slightly taller man with thick blonde rather dusty hair, in fact most of him was covered in dust, telling young Æðelhild that he must have travelled someway to get here.

So many new faces! she thought as she silently sat across from the young lad, her rich dark eyes surreptitiously taking in the shield and spear strapped to the other, the dusty man’s back… A guard perhaps or a warrior? She mused, again feeling the uneasiness of her past attempting to creep up on her. But defiantly and taking a bite of bread she swallowed both down.

Three days had passed and no-one saw her as anything but a hired hand, obviously news from Gondor either travelled very slowly or was long forgotten, after all a year had been and gone since that awful night and as far as she could tell no one was looking for her. Which was just as well for she had no intentions of returning, not now that everything and everyone that she had ever loved was gone.

She was awakened from her thoughts as Gurdyn again appeared and sat herself silently beside her, the two men where exchanging histories and she listened quietly as she ate, quite content for the moment to go unnoticed.

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Old 01-27-2006, 11:46 PM   #33
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“I lived a few days’ journey west of here; my father is a farmer. Farming is not what I wanted to do with my life; I preferred to work with the horses, though we had only a few. So with my father’s blessing I left the farm and came here, hoping to find some kind of work.”

A happy tale from what Gárwine heard, with not a single stain of death nor cruel uncles. And Léof still had a loving father and a comfortable home waiting for him should things take a turn for the worse. Gárwine's only home was with Uncle Wilfrid and his gambling and drinking, in that grim village at the feet of the mountains, so far from the wet fields by the Entwash where Gárwine grew up among his friends and family. And should Gárwine cause a grievous hurt to his Eorl, then he would be out on the streets as a beggar. No king, not even one who rode with Gárwine's father, would let Gárwine serve another Eorl if something terrible occurred and Eodwine cast him from his house.

Gárwine cast these troublesome thoughts from his mind. Why was there need to worry? He was surrounded by new friends and a limitless future here at the inn. And what could Gárwine do that would be so horrible as to cause him to be cast out by Eodwine? Nothing. But now Gárwine's mind worried. What about Wilfrid? He was surely combing the countryside at this very moment for his only farmhand and one of his horses. He could be asking everybody in Firienmarch, from the old hag in the forest to the rich merchant's infant son, about the wherebouts of Gárwine and Herefola. Surely someone had seen him ride out those few days ago at dusk along the Great West Road. What if Wilfrid tracked Gárwine down and appeared at the door tomorrow morning? His anger would be horrible, and he would spew dirty insults from his mouth like a Dunlending. What if Eodwine let Wilfrid take Gárwine back to Firienmarch? Would Léof or Gudryn or Saeryn come to his aid? Gárwine hoped so, but his mind was unsure. They were new friends, and their friendship had yet to be tested by time. He had met them all this very same morning.

“Much simpler than your story, perhaps, but I really must be tending to my horse – I will come back later, or you could come out with me now, if you prefer. I would not mind the company.”

Léof had spoken, and Gárwine looked up from his half-eaten dessert, which was a soft and fluffy slice of cake covered in sweet and oozing honey.

"Yes, I will come with you," Gárwine said, standing from his seat. He nodded to Gudryn and smiled. "Thank you for this meal, and to Saeryn. It was the perfect breakfast to end those long days of riding."

Léof said the same, and he and Gárwine walked away from the table and outside, where Edoras was now fully awake and the people walked and rode through the street about their errands. It was mid-morning, and the sun had risen into the pale blue sky. Across the street was Léof's horse, Æthel, a chestnut mare, and Gárwine could've mistaken her for Herefola had she been a somewhat darker chestnut color. She was tethered to the same post that Herefola had occupied before Saeryn had led her to the stables. Léof now untied her.

"This is Æthel," Léof said, rubbing his horse's neck. He reached into a pocket and removed a leaf of green vegetables, which he let her nibble upon. He began leading her toward the stables. "You rode here on a horse, too, no?"

"Yes. I call her Herefola. I'll show her to you when we get there."
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Old 01-28-2006, 08:32 AM   #34
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Kara thanked Eodwine and hurried off to do as he'd requested. She hadn't got far however, before she realised that she didn't know where she was supposed to be going. The kitchens, he had told her, but where were they? She wandered round in the vague hope that eventually she would find the kitchens, but wasn't sure where she was allowed to go, and as some of the passages were blocked by bits of furniture she soon found herself back where she had started.

Not wanting to be seen as incompetent from the moment she arrived, Kara backed away into a corner, and looked around for people who might help her. As she looked though she saw Saeryn heading down a passageway that she hadn't noticed before. Quickly following her she soon found herself in a large, open kitchen, and smiled with relief.

Saeryn turned, saw her, and returned the smile.

"Hello again. Did Eodwine send you in here?"

"Yes. I'm to help a woman called Frodides with the cooking. Is she here?"
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:02 AM   #35
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Léof nodded, not seeing a need to respond further to this. As they approached the stable and entered, Léof felt a sense of homecoming; stables everywhere were all pretty much the same: same scent of horses and hay, same sounds of horses shifting in their stalls. At home, their small stable had always seemed more like home to him than the house, and despite the obvious differences, this place felt familiar and comfortable. Whether because she felt the same way or because she could sense his emotions, Æthel nickered softly to him. That’s right, girl. We’ve found ourselves a home.

They started to pass a dark chestnut mare when Gárwine said, “And this is Herefola.” At this, Léof paused for a few moments to let the mare sniff his hand. He rubbed her muzzle while trying to get a look at her. He could not see well for the dim light of the stall, but she seemed to look quite similar to Æthel – even their white markings were in similar places. Pleased to have found something in common with his new friend, Æthel nudged him, reminding him who ought to be receiving his attention. “Herefola is a fine horse,” he said, before turning to his own horse. He unsaddled and unbridled her before finding a tack room a little ways down to put them in. The leather would need some care later, but for now he was more concerned about the horse.

He gave Æthel a quick but thorough brushing, for without proper equipment grooming was one of the things that had slipped in his journey here. Watching him, Gárwine asked, “Did you have many horses at home?”

Léof shook his head. “No, only a few: Æthel, here, who was primarily our riding horse, though I was the only one who really rode her, and three others, mostly used by my father to help with the farming. But for a long time, it’s mostly been my job to take care of them.” Some worry crossed Léof’s mind; he knew his father’s attention would not be as careful or caring as his had been, even if he did need them and could not easily afford another trained horse. “I hope they’re doing all right; my father wouldn’t mistreat them, but he’s not much of a horse person.” He owed more to those horses than to leave them; not only had they given him the work experience and an escape from the house, but there had also been times after his mother had died when his father had gotten so bad (sometimes drunk, as well) that those horses had kept him sane.

He brushed off the feelings; he could not do anything right now. He cleaned Æthel’s hooves – with a real metal pick, not just the makeshift tools he had been using – and was glad he had not ridden her earlier today: a piece of stone was still wedged up in her hoof. Satisfied that she would at least now be comfortable if not perfectly clean, he attended to her larder: fresh hay and a bucket of clean water that Gárwine was kind enough to get.

Now that he had a better idea of the stable, he had an idea of what needed to be done and thought it only fair to inform Gárwine. “I’d like to check on the other horses stabled here: how many of them there are, make sure they’re properly settled, you know. My saddle and bridle will have to be cleaned, and when Æthel’s done eating, I’d like to give her and any other horses that might need it a more thorough grooming – I do not know which of these horses have just arrived, or how well they were tended upon arrival. After that, I don't think anything will need to be done until the horses are fed and cared for tonight. It may take a while, and I’d perfectly understand if you had other things you needed to be doing…”
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Old 01-31-2006, 11:32 AM   #36
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“Let us go sit by the hearth fire while it still stands in the wall,” Eodwine said, “and I would hear you speak at length of how you would be my steward.” He turned and nodded towards the hearth and they walked together to it. Thornden pulled two chairs near and placed one for Eodwine and sat in the second. There was a short pause between the two of them and Thornden considered his words carefully before speaking.

“I have to be entirely honest with you and say that when I came, not but ten minutes ago, I had no idea that such a stewardship would require so many duties, and even traits of character that you have mentioned. You ask me if I am worthy of it, but if you ask any man of the guard at Medulseld, you’ll likely get a ready answer of ‘yes, indeed I am, sir!’ for we can be overly proud in our manner and thoughts, if merely because we guard the King and his hall. I would that you had not asked me. . .

“However, because you have asked me, I will answer as straight forward as I may. You say you need a right hand man, one who can take your place when necessary, giving orders, and keeping books, and keeping order of the place. I think I am capable, yes. I am the oldest of several children, therefore can lead. My mother taught me to read, write, and know how to handle numbers when I was still a youth - your ledgers and your money keeping could be accurately and well kept. As for my honesty, well, it seems lame to tell you myself that I wouldn’t cheat the least of the king’s subjects, but I could call on any of my companions at Meduseld, or my sister, and others I know here in Edoras, and they would tell you the same.

“As for my character in itself. . .” he paused uncertainly. “It’s hard for me to explain that, sir, but I hope it wouldn’t disappoint you. I am not a violent man, but I do hate to see wrong done and not resolved or paid for. I’m sorry to say that when my anger is got up, I act quickly and rarely turn back from a purpose till it’s done. However, it may be good for you to know that I’m not easily angered, really.

“I would be willing to serve you as your steward, if you are willing to take me as that. I have no obligations elsewhere and can take the post at once, learn your will, and help you with the building of your new Mead Hall.” Thornden looked Eodwine full in the face as he finished. His expression was serious and entirely open. He had begun to like this man, Eodwine of the Gap, and thought to himself that he would be a very good lord and master to work under, and he would be honored to stand at his right hand.
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Old 01-31-2006, 02:33 PM   #37
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‘Well they seem nice enough, don’t you think?’ Gudryn was saying as she watched the two men leave to attend their horses. It seemed the younger of the two was to try his hand as Ostler while the other was to be made a guard of the hall.

‘Yes, they do both seem well disposed, M’Lady’ she replied smiling thoughtfully as she considered how many rooms would be required to accommodate Lord Eodwines fast growing house hold. By her reckoning the inn had fifteen rooms, the ostlers off course would be housed in the stable house, then there was Bethberry’s rooms, which as yet she had been reluctant to touch, she naturally assumed Eodwine and his Daughter would be taking the rooms and had left them be. The other rooms had already been aired and the linens stripped and that afternoon she intended to sweep the floors and re-stuff any mattresses that needed it, by which time the linens would be dried and ready to put back on the beds.

Coming out of her silent contemplation she realised that Gudryn was staring at her with a look of stunned surprise that caused Æðelhild to hurriedly recount in her mind what she had said wondering if somehow she had managed to offend.

‘You called me M’lady?’ the stunned young woman whispered. Æðelhild sighed visibly glad that she had not insulted her, then smiled broadly. ‘Off course, it is only proper that I address you thus M’lady’ she replied giving a polite incline of her head as she did so. ‘Your Father is Eorl and as he has no wife and you are his only Daughter that makes you the Lady of this Mead hall!’ And with a light wave of her arm she gestured around the Hall.

Æðelhild watched with a mixture of amusement and sympathy as this simple realisation settled over the young Lady, for while there were many good things about being of nobility their was also great responsibility, for from now on anything Gudryn did would reflect greatly on her father and Æðelhild hoped that Gudryn would be mindful of this, she seemed smart enough and loved her father dearly, so it didn’t seem to great a thing to mention.

So instead she continued to smile, waiting patently for Gudryn to again find her voice.
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Old 01-31-2006, 08:36 PM   #38
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Eodwine liked the strength of courage in this young man Thornden. He also liked that he was able to speak with care at need. He had one more, no, two more tests, and the two would be wrapped one in the other so that they would be hard to tell apart, except in the mind of Eodwine. Thornden was probably somewhat bemused at the smirk that had appeared on Eodwine's face, but that would pass. Eodwine sat forward.

"You speak well, and that is a great thing. What is more, if your words, as I hunch me, are good grain from a good root, all the better. We shall put it to the test. Since you have said that you wish to be my steward, I give you the task for a little while. Be my steward for a month, and when that time has passed, we shall make a choice, you and I, whether this binding of man to man is as ought to be." He rose. "Let us shake on it!" Thornden rose and the two closed hand on hand. Thornden had a good grip, and a good smile.

"Good!" said Eodwine. "The first thing I need is for you to have a mind of your own that I may speak my thought to you, and you tell me what you think of it." Eodwine proceeded to describe to Thornden his plans, in some detail, to transform the great room into a mead hall, leaving the halls and rooms to the west, and kitchen at the back, as they were; and the east wall open to the stableyard. He described that which was in his mind for the hall itself, showing with word as well as gesture, pointing here and there, what was in his mind.

"The thing is, Thornden," Eodwine said at last, "the king has given me a manor with much land, and a building around which to rule it. The land is all my wealth. I hold it from the king, and the fees and fines that would have gone to him will now come to me, less that which the king requires of me as his liegeman. The long and short of it is that I have little coin, and need to get some to pay for all my dream as I have told you of it. This is where you come in. I was in earnest when I said I need an almbudsman. This afternoon, you must go to the king, learn from him what fines and fees are outstanding, and begin to bring the coin in so that we can pay for not only the building but the needs of those who will be of my house. And I would hear you on anything I have told you, as you will. You have my ear. I do not require it of you this minute, but come with me and let us see how the hall fairs."

With that, Eodwine with Thornden at his side moved about the hall and grounds, seeing how things went in the kitchen, stables, rooms, and amongst the few carpenters who had arrived as yet.
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Old 02-03-2006, 03:43 PM   #39
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Manawyth of Dunland

Forgoil...strawheads... It had not been the first word Manawyth had been taught, true, but it had come quickly enough; it had followed "mother", "father", "mud", and "blade".

And as Manawyth had grown into a likely boy, taller than any of his brothers, and-a rare accomplishment in his homeland-an able rider; as it became clear that war would be his domain, a landless fourth child in a society where sisters as well as brothers stood to despoil his patrimony; as he had joined the chieftain's warband and trained with the other whelp-fighters, forgoil had recurred still more frequently. The strawheads had driven his people into the chilly foothills, but now matters were turning against them, so the Elders said. Their king was too old to take to battle; their Riders scattered; and at Caerissin the wise magician Saruman had received the envoys of the Elder Council.

Then everything had happened at dizzying speed. The bands of reavers had set off, and returned with plunder, so much plunder. There was talk of reclaiming the old realms, wealthy with wheat. Then the Chieftains had called every able man of arms to muster beside Caerissin.

It had been a fearful and splendid day; on the one hand to see the vast strength of their ally's army was astonishing; but it could not comfort. Manawyth, like many of his kin, feared the Orcs he fought beside much more than he hated the pale-haired thieves.

But things are never as certain as they appear. Against all possibility, the strawheads had triumphed utterly at the Hornburg. The horde from Caerissin had been culled; and most of the Dunlendings who fought beside it were slain also. The rest were spared by the Old King of Rohan; but they could find little comfort in it. So many Chieftains were dead that the Elder Council could not sit and was disbanded. The few remaining warriors returned to the cold stares of their womenfolk, carrying their brothers' bodies under their arms. Manawyth had lost two.

Without the Council or the warbands to maintain order, the scattered families in the mountains were easy prey to bandits or even Goblin raids. Feuds and grudges, uncompensated, further rent the people of Dunland. Then there were still Rohirric reprisals, from headstrong youths who had lost fathers in the Wizard's War.

In such a climate Manawyth had killed a man; scarcely worthy of notice as a crime anymore, save that the other had been heir to a Chief. And so forgoil was heard again.

For Manawyth had only Rohan to turn to.

***

So it was that the stranger, so obviously black-haired and foreign amid the proud Riders, on his equally dark steed, (not, as it happened, his own), one eye shut perpetually, unease guiding his movements, entered the town of Edoras, and made his way to the Mead Hall of Eodwine. Information had been hard to come by, for the old troubles still ran deep, but Manawyth had heard there was employment to be had, anonymity, and a chance to rid himself of forgoil ghosts.
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:01 PM   #40
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Before Gárwine could respond, Léof heard the clopping of hooves stop just outside. He indicated to Gárwine where he was going and headed down the stable aisle to find a rather surprising sight: the horse’s rider was a Dunlending. Léof could feel the suspicions of his upbringing rising, for while he had never himself met one of them, he had certainly heard enough stories.

But perhaps even more surprising than his actual presence was that he had a horse at all; Dunlendings were not generally riders, or so Léof had heard. Yet he seemed to sit the horse well, which brought the unknown man up a notch or two in Léof’s estimation. He seemed uneasy, nervous perhaps, a trait Léof would not have noticed had the strange man not been atop a horse, but as it was, he could see the subtleties in the man’s posture and seat.

The man dismounted and noticed Léof for the first time. “This is the Mead Hall?”

Léof nodded guardedly. “It is. I can take your horse, and stable him if you intend to stay for a while.” Since he still stood out so starkly amongst the fair Rohirrim, Léof added, “There is good food inside for travelers, and if it is the master of the hall you are seeking, I believe that he is inside as well.”
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