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Old 06-13-2006, 02:03 PM   #361
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine leaned forward. "I see how the two quetions I asked of you are intertwined. I also see that we cannot be assured of your story unless someone from this Mead Hall goes back to Dunland with you, to see for himself the way of things. That is what shall be done."

"My lord?" Manawyth queried, his one eye big with surprise. "What mean you?"

"I shall go with you back to Dunland to see if your story is true. But not today, nor this week, nor for a few months. The trip must be planned, and things must be set enough to rights here so that my leavetaking for a little while will not be the the worse. In the meantime, you shall be under the protection and guard of the Eorling Mead Hall at all times. You are not a free man, but my prisoner, and you shall do my bidding until we go. I will use your time and craft to prepare for our leave taking.

"But-"

"Listen to me! You are safe here. If you try to escape from this Hall, your head will be hunted, and no man of the Eorlings will consider it a tragedy that one more Dunlending's head is separated from his body. As long as you are here, you are under my protection. I am holding you as my captive, but you shall not be bound hand and foot, but by the knowledge that were you to go anywhere but where I say, your life is forfeit. Do you understand me?"

Manawyth did not speak right away in answer, but eventually gave his assent to Eodwine's terms. He had little choice else.

Eodwine looked out the windows and saw that it was almost noon. The morning had passed more quickly than it felt! As had been planned ahead of time, Eodwine nodded to Thornden, who stepped forward and announced that Eodwine's court would cease for the mid day meal, and that anyone who had come to the Eorling Mead Hall was welcome to the fare he had to offer. Frodides and Kara had, of course, been forewarned, and been busy since they had left the hall themselves. The Hall was quickly rearranged for food and drink. The afternoon would see the guests welcomed from the surroundings.

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Old 06-17-2006, 01:29 PM   #362
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Saeryn had sat quietly, her skirts spread about her carefully, with her hands folded in her lap. She'd watched Eodwine speak to each member his household... their household... with silent fascination. He'd told her to take special notice of Manawyth's case; she had listened carefully not only to his words, but his inflection, and had watched his eyes and hands most consciously, remembering that lies were most oft shown through both. Eodwine had not asked for her to share her thoughts before the court; Saeryn suspected that he would ask her later, privately.

She considered private conversations as Eodwine dismissed the hall to their midday meal and blushed a little at Degas's words. She'd be having several with him later and she would not guarantee that he would escape without considerable damage due to ferocious tongue lashing.

And Farahil... he was so silent, but not due to lack of confidence. Saeryn wondered at what stories he had, for he certainly would have them, if Linduial's reminiscing was at all accurate. She wondered at his quietness... he'd spoken little with Eodwine earlier, but his words carried much weight. The sound of his voice was almost musical and she was very curious to hear it again. She wondered if he would speak more now that matters were lighter before remembering that he had left some time ago with Lin on his arm.

She caught herself staring off into nowhere and smiled, a little embarrassed to be dreaming before such a crowd. She stood, smoothing her skirts into place and watched helping hands shift the hall into order. She glanced at Eodwine who nodded and smiling, she clapped her hands lightly for attention.

"Come, friends, and let us eat and make merry. It is a beautiful day."
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Old 06-18-2006, 01:24 PM   #363
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There were a couple of children playing in the elm tree. Cnebba was running his life for it. A sturdy 9-year old was standing by the tree. As Cnebba approached him, he saw that he was dirty and snotty, just like himself. He halted a couple of yards before him and said: ”I'm Cnebba, who are you? Can I come to play with you?”. The snotty boy looked at Cnebba with disdain. ”You’re one of them Dunledings in disguise! We will not play with you!” the boy shouted and called for his friends up in the tree. They started coming down with haste.

”You can’t catch me! Bet on that?” Cnebba said to the snotty one and run out of his reach to the other side of the tree. He was agile and nimble enough to evade the boys coming down after him and to climb the first branches while they were still descending. But soon the boys were coming after him like wolves in a pack, climbing again. ”Hey Black-eye! Come here and we will blow your nose!” one of them shouted after him from the lower branches. Cnebba kept on climbing and went much higher than the other boys had ventured. ”Hey, Dun-dung! Have you courage to meet us down here?”, called the eldest of the boys, a 11-year old kid, tanned and muscular boy with a blond hair and grayish blue eyes. Cnebba had climbed as far as he dared and looked down. The other boys were a couple of yards under him, clearly not sure whether they should pursue him further. ”Catch me if you can!” he shouted and took a daring leap to yet higher branch.

He was balancing himself on a quite slim branch as he heard the other boys shouting at him again, now from much farther beyond. ”Come here sissy! We’ll give you a smack you won’t forget!” the eldest one shouted, not being able to reach him. Cnebba was holding his balance but aware of the slenderness of the branch he was clinging to. ”Come up here if you like me that much!” he yelled back to them. The situation was all too familiar to him. Other children were almost always like that, at least in the beginning. He had won many friends too, but it always took some time and effort.

”We’ll be waiting for you!” called the eldest boy and started to descend the tree. Soon all four boys had gotten to the ground. They sat down beside the tree and went on playing a game with small pebbles.

Cnebba started descending after a while, slowly and carefully at first as not to give the other boys a chance to notice him. He would show them that he was good in sneaking too. That should give him some credit. Even though he was young, he had already learned a couple of lessons in life. One was, that the stranger would always have to prove his qualities to be accepted.

At last Cnebba was sitting comfortably on one of the lowest thicker branches. The other boys had seemingly forgotten about him as they were drawn into the game with the pebbles. Cnebba studied them carefully from above. The oldest boy clearly was the ”leader” of them. The snotty one seemed to be the one they would go on picking if there were no outsiders to pick. They already had started it, calling him names as he failed in his throw, and the oldest one poked him to the shoulder somewhat violently every now and then. The two others were remarkedly similar-looking, brothers they seemed to be, maybe twins.

Then suddenly the game seemed to end. It clearly had been the leader-boy who had missed his throw and the brothers hugged each other triumphantly, calling for victory. The big one thumped the snotty one to the ground and started arguing for a possible re-throw for him.

”Let’s do something more fun!”, Cnebba called them, and after that swang himself to the ground with one leap, managing to stay up as he landed a yard away from the snotty one who had just risen up to sit. They had seen his jump and were somewhat impressed. The three of them stood up immediately, the snotty one trailing them.

”Let’s play hide’n’seek?”, Cnebba suggested. The leader of the other boys saw his chance to wipe out the memory of him losing the game and also a chance to bolster his leadership. He accepted immediately: ”Ok, but with one condition”, he said, taking a couple of strides towards Cnebba so that he could show his physical superiority to the weird-looking stranger. ”You’ll be the seeker first. And you count to hundred…” he made a little pause here, glancing fast to the other boys, ”if you know how to count”, he then continued with a malicious grin.

”Sure I can. And you guys hide well. I’m good at this”, Cnebba answered and turned towards the tree, starting the count in all the voice an 8-year old could produce. The brothers took off with speed and so did the snotty one. The leader of the boys was unsure about what to do for a moment but then just pushed Cnebba towards the tree forcefully enough to send him on his knees and then ran away to search for a place to hide. ”You’ll never get us weirdo!” he shouted as he ran. Cnebba rose up, never breaking off with his count. They will be my friends, he thought, ”45 – 46 –47 – 48 …”

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Old 06-19-2006, 03:37 PM   #364
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It was not long before the noon time meal was ended. Eodwine made request to Saeryn to see to finding help for Frodides and Kara, as they'd be busy into evening cleaning and no chance to start the evening meal if given no help. Meanwhile, he had Garstan and Thornden help him get help from those who had had a free meal in turning the Hall back into a court. Before long, all was as it should be, and Saeryn was sitting beside him, waiting for the courty to re-begin.

Degas had tried to sit near enough to Eodwine to give him a piece of his mind as regarded Saeryn, but Eodwine had asked him to wait until court-day was ended, for there was no knowing how long such a talking between the two of them would take.

Now that the affairs of his own Hall and the hearing of Manawyth had been dealt with, court proceeded in the traditional way. The highest ranking Eorldermen came first, then those less high, then freeholders, then peasants.

Thornden had given Eodwine word to keep an eye out for Wistan of Dunstede, a freeholder. There was also word from Gárwine that there were folk about who seemed not to be of the Eorlingas, or at least not wholly so. This intrigued Eodwine, and he had asked Saeryn to keep an eye out for such folk as well.

Saeryn. She had been quiet for the most part, and Eodwine was aware that he had said much to her about listening and watching and little about sharing of her mind. That, he hoped she understood, would come this evening.
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Old 06-20-2006, 04:55 PM   #365
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The noon meal had passed quickly, and Eodwine called for Garstan's aid in rearranging the great hall for the continuation of court proceedings. Lčođern yawned, sleepy in the afternoon heat. And, partly, because she bored of lengthy speeches for which she had to stand quietly.

Eodwine smiled, catching the child's sleepiness. "The children, perhaps, would prefer to be dismissed from court?"

The children looked hopefully at from Eodwine to their father, silently begging to be allowed out of doors. Garstan returned Eodwine's smile. "Yes, I think that they would prefer it so."

Garstan nodded to Garmund, and the children first walked, then ran to the door.

Sunshine and air cured Lčođern's weariness, and she dashed around the yard, now whirling, now tugging at her brother's hand. Though, for all her giddiness, Lčođern had acquired a new grace in her motion of late - a quick, light step and alert bearing.

They came to the alder. "Come, Garmund. Let's climb." Lčođern reached for a low branch and quickly pulled herself to a perch a short way from the ground. Garmund followed.

From their branch, the pair saw a group of boys scatter and hide. Lčođern laughed and pointed. A game. Neither knew the children playing.

"Do you think they'll let us join them?" Garmund shrugged.

Another boy, darker than the others, appeared. There was a defiant look about him. Garmund wasn't sure he trusted that stubborn, proud glare. Before Garmund could stop her, Lčođern slid out of the tree and followed the boy as he passed. Garmund came too, a few steps behind her. The new boy didn't turn, either ignoring his shadows or unaware of their presence.

A series of poorly stifled giggles from Lčođern revealed her game.
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Old 06-20-2006, 07:49 PM   #366
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“...97 – 98 – 99 - 100!” Cnebba shouted the last number with all his 8-year old might and turned around. The yard was buzzing with people. He thought he had a glimpse of the big-guy, the one who had bullied him to the ground, just disappearing behind a cart somewhere over his right. He started walking somewhat towards the cart that was about 50 yards away from him, carefully trying to show that he was not looking at that direction and slightly angling his path away from it, not to make to the cart straight away. He had played hide’n’seek before.

He was determined to show these boys he would be as good as they were. I’ll show them, I’ll find them and find them fast! He thought to himself as he suddenly came aware of someone behind him – it was not an adult. He continued as if he hadn’t noticed it but was more than alarmed. Those two, could they have sneaked behind me? He thought as he walked steadily forwards without glancing to his back. The giggle of Lčođern finally made it clear to Cnebba. Those behind him were not the brothers he had met a moment ago. Suddenly he stopped and turned around to see the giggling Lčođern and the more reserved Garmund trailing him – their movement stopping just a bit too late to appear not being tracing him.

For a while Cnebba stood there unsure about what to do. They looked kinder – or at least the girl looked like it. Anyhow they both were much nicer looking kids than the ones he was playing the hide’n’seek with. But still, he had promised to play...

Without a further thought Cnebba took a step towards the girl and addressed her: “Hi, my name is Cnebba.” He said, looking Lčođern intently in the eye. “Who are you?” he asked.

“My name is Lčođern, and this is my brother Garmund”, Lčođern answered somewhat taken a back by the blunt move of the strange boy – as one who had been caught in the middle of something one should not be caught in the middle of. Garmund just stood back, waiting what would ensue. Lčođern raised her gaze to meet Cnebba’s eyes and looked curious "Why are you sneaking around like that?" she asked, smiling in the end of her question.

Cnebba felt a bit confused by the sudden stare and the smile of the girl. “I’m playing hide’n’seek.” He answered but then paused for a while, thinking fervently for a good answer to make these two his friends.

“Would you like to join the game? I could count to hundred again and both of you could go hiding too? There are four guys in the game too. They wouldn’t mind you joining in... You come?” he asked in the end, smiling too with his teeth shining white. But his long and untied golden hair was taken by the gust of the wind and it covered his face – making him cough the last words as his hair got into his mouth. He blushed slightly. "You come?" he asked again, kind of making sure they had understood what he had mumbled with the hair in his mouth.

After he had sweeped his hair back, he felt more confident. Lčođern and Garmund were looking at each other questioningly. Cnebba continued then, not wishing to lose the opportunity: “I would like to play with you more than with the boys there”, he said, pointing to the general direction to where the other boys had hidden themselves among the crowd, “But I can’t eat my promise. My father and mother have told me that a man never breaks his word”.

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Old 06-21-2006, 02:34 PM   #367
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The court continued after lunch. Eodwine now had time to hear the requests of the land holders and to decide whether he was able to grant their wishes. Thornden recognized each freeholder that came forward. He had seen all of the ones present when he had gone out to gather coin. Most of the land holders had not asked for any boon. Here at court, there were thirteen different families represented to speak with their Eorl. Thornden looked over all of them, recalling their names, and at the same time running over who had asked something of Eodwine and who had not. As Eodwine began to call them forward, one by one, Thornden drew from his pocket a list he had drawn out of all the people who had bidden him to take word to Eodwine. There had been fifteen separate requests.

‘Good,’ Thornden said to himself. ‘Only two have to be dealt with without someone here to receive the decisions. Who, now. . .?’ He perused the names and then looked at the people standing about, comparing them. ‘Ah, yes, Wistan was one. . .his daughter told me first of it. She was a pleasant girl. The other. . .Aerdlyn, right.’

Having figured out who he would have to speak for, Thornden turned his attention back to Eodwine and the proceedings of the court.

Each free holder came forward and stated his case. Eodwine considered them all, some taking more time than others, and then pronounced his judgement. The two who came last had an argument against one another. Eodwine heard them both out. One man claimed that his neighbor had planted an entire crop of oats on one of his outlying fields. Because it was land granted to him, he should now own the crop growing on it. The other man interjected - the field had lain fallow for two years, the owner wasn’t using it as it should be used, he didn’t do the work, if he wanted the field for his own use, he should have been out there breaking the ground instead of leaving it for neighbor to do.

Eodwine calmly asked the second free holder if he didn’t have enough land of his own to use for more crops?

“No, sir. I’ve expanded to all of my borders.”

“Is there land on either side of you, besides the side that this man owns, that is unkept and that I have not granted? Is there no other field that you could ask me for?”

“No, sir. On two sides of me are fields that are planted and kept. On the third side it is rocky, full of trees, and sheep and goats are pastured there. His field, directly adjacent to the property granted me is empty and has been left untended for two years, as I said.”

"You should have gone to the King or his man before you broke ground and planted crops. It would have saved trouble."

“By then it would have been too late. The oats needed planting, and at the time, I did not know that you were Eorl.”

Eodwine said nothing. He sat in silence for a moment, and Thornden ventured to lean closer to him. “If you’ll allow me, Eodwine,” he said quietly. Eodwine bent his head and listened as Thornden quietly spoke in his ear.

“I do not know anything about general laws or customs in a case like this, but I think, if the land has indeed lain fallow for two years and the holder has done nothing to prepare for crops this year, his neighbor does not seem to have overstepped his rights by going over there and making use of good land. If the field is being put to no good use, then the owner should not be permitted to continue holding it. Give the land to the one who planted it.”

“I will consider your words, Thornden. Thank you. For now, though,” he said, sitting back upright and turning towards the two men waiting his judgement, “you will wait for the answer. "Later today I will have more questions. I will call you back this afternoon before the evening meal is called up.” The two men bowed and turned away. Eodwine turned again to Thornden. “Were there any other requests from my land holders who were not here today?”

“Yes. There were two others. . .” Thornden told him of Wistan’s request - of the land lying behind theirs, now unowned and un used, ready for someone to pick up and replant. Eodwine quickly granted their request, and that was resolved. The second one was nearly the same and that was just as easily resolved.

“And that is all, sir,” Thornden said, looking up with a smile. “Everything except that case,” he nodded to the men standing back near the wall, “is done concerning your land holders. Most of them are quite contented folk.”

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Old 06-21-2006, 05:14 PM   #368
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"But I can't eat my promise. My father and mother have told me that a man never breaks his word."

Garmund smiled, liking Cnebba's reply. "Of course you must keep your promise. My father, too, says that promises must be kept. A man's word is his bond."

Lčođern burst out, "But can we come too? You said we could. Please?" The last question was directed at both of the older boys.

"We have to wait until Cnebba finds the other boys, Lčođern."

"But that shouldn't be hard. They went..."

"Lčođern!"

Realizing that she had nearly given away the answer to the game, Lčođern clapped her hand over her mouth.

"I'm sorry! I won't say." She grinned.

"We can watch until this round is over. Then, if the others don't mind, we'd like to play too. How's that?"
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Old 06-21-2006, 05:30 PM   #369
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"That's great!" Cnebba answered, a bit too enthusiastically for his own liking, and had to add: "Yeah, I know where the big-one is, about". He yanked his head a little towards the cart behind them, looking straight at Lčođern. "But the twins, I'm not sure. I almost thought you were them", he confessed.

Lčođern made a conspirational smile and nodded towards the stables at their left. Cnebba glanced to the stables and then returned his gaze. "Thanks!" he said and run away towards the cart first, waving his hand to Garmund. "It'll just take a minute!" he shouted to them as he ran, "Just wait a moment!"
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Old 06-23-2006, 07:53 PM   #370
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Eodwine and Saeryn took their seats again (it had been a most interesting discussion between the two of them regarding tenancy rights), and Thornden called the court to order with a thump on the floor of the staff Eodwine had procured for him recenlty. The two farmers stood before the Eorl.

The first freeholder, Edelfrid, who tenanted the disputed land, stood on Eodwine's and Saeryn's right; the second, Radweld, who had planted the crops, stood to their left.

"First," Eodwine said, "do each of you have someone to speak for you?"

"Aye, lord," they said.

"Let them stand forth, Radweld's man first, then Edelfrid's."

One freeholder joined each of the two opponents and after brief questioning from Eodwine, it was determined by the court that these two men were truth speakers and could be trusted with their word. Eodwine excused the two men, and regarded the two men in silence for a moment.

"Edelfrid," Eodwine began, "did you pay tenancy to the King for the field while it lay fallow the second year?"

"That I did, lord."

"Did you know that Radweld was planting crops in your field?"

"I knew, lord."

"Why did you not speak of it to your shire reave or bring a complaint to the king?"

Edelfrid's brow furrowed. "Lord, am I on trial, or this man's misdeed?"

"You are not on trial. But I must know as much as I can before I make a ruling. Answer the question."

"Lord, we have been unfriends for many years, and I admit that I hoped to win at his cost."

"That is ill-thought by you, Edelfrid."

"Yes, lord, I am sorry."

"Your unfriendship should be redressed, but the matter of the crops must be ruled on first. Why did you leave the land fallow the extra year, Edelfrid?"

"I plan to buy horses, lord, and I need a field for pasturing."

"That field is not big enough for horse pasturage!" Radweld scowled.

"You, neighbor," Edelfrid sneered, "have no right telling me what my land is good for!"

Thornden raised the staff and brought it down hard three times. The three knocks on the floor got the two opponents' attention. "There will be order in my lord's court," Thornden said smoothly.

"Thank you, Thornden," Eodwine smiled. "How many horses will you buy, Edelfrid?"

"Two, lord, a stallion and mare, to get foals to sell."

"Here is my thought on the matter. Radweld, you did wrongfully to plant on a field not in your tenancy. For that you must pay. Since Edelfrid was preparing his land for pasturage, you have stolen not only the use of his land for a crop year, but you have stolen time Edelfrid needed to turn the land to pasturage, and if Edelfrid is to hold to his plans to buy horses, he will have to pasture them elsewhere, paying rent."

"But-" Radweld interrupted.

"I am not finished, Radweld."

The freeholder subsided.

"On the other hand, Edelfrid allowed Radweld to do all the work on the field, with the hopes of gaining at Radweld's cost. This is wrongful. There is no law against it, but I would not have such things be the way things are done in my Emnet. Therefore, I rule first that Radweld must pay a fine to me of two tenths of the worth of the crop for his wrongful use of Edelfrid's land, due at the end of harvest. Second, Radweld must pay to Edelfrid double the yearly rate for rental of pasturage for two grown horses, due to be paid two full moons from now. Third, these fines covering Radweld's wrongdoing, he is ruled as tenant of Edelfrid for the planted field, and will pay to Edelfrid a normal tenant rate for one year's use of the field, due at the end of harvest, and may keep all that is left, for the sake of the work he has put into the land."

"Lord, if I may speak?" Radweld broached.

"Speak Radweld."

"To pay double yearly rent for two horses by a mere two full moons from now is hard, lord!"

"You did a wrongdoing, Radweld, and are paying for it. Besides, I will not see Edelfrid be in debt or forced to wait because of your misdeed; he will need the coin soon. That is all."

Neither Edelfrid nor Radweld looked completely happy, nor crestfallen. To Eodwine's mind, that was as it should be. The two men retired.

Assured by Thornden that these were the last freeholders, Eodwine opened the court to the needs and desires peasants and aliens.
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:06 PM   #371
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Cnebba ran off in search of the hiders, leaving Lčođern with a clever grin on her face. She had learned strategy, at least, from her days with Linduial.

Garmund looked at his sister. "You told him where they hid, didn't you?"

"I didn't tell. It was just a hint. Telling and hinting aren't the same."

Garmund was unconvinced. "Just see that you don't do any hinting again."

Lčođern giggled. She wouldn't. But she wanted to play with the new boy. And hinting was the quickest way to move the game along.

Both children looked eagerly for Cnebba's reappearance.
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Old 06-27-2006, 03:47 AM   #372
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”Let’s settle down then”, Modtryth said taking the harness off the horse. The mare, Snowstreak, glanced at her. Modtryth patted her head and gave her a pear. The horse ate it with delight. Modtryth stroked her and spoke gentle words to her, thanking her for the morning’s work.

The horse looked at her mistress with a pleading look. Even if the horse would have been able to talk, the message couldn’t have been clearer. “I know, Snowstreak, you love those”, Modtryth sighed, smiling. “Here you are, old lassie”, she said, giving the old mare another pear.

”You say I’m spoiling the boy, but you’re evidently spoiling the horse”, Stigend remarked, grinning. He was sitting on the lawn and the sun played on his straw-coloured hair. A true forgoil, Modtryth thought, amused, remebering the name her mother had used of some rohir lords that had made her angry.

”She’s old. She needs some reward for her work”, Modtryth answered and sat down beside her husband. Stigend gave her a “that’s no excuse” -look, but said nothing. He smiled at his wife. Modtryth returned the smile.

For a while they just sat on the grass, enjoying the day. Modtryth looked around. Something was missing: “Where’s Cnebba? He has left the tree.” She wasn’t very worried; she knew the boy could look after himself, but she didn’t like the fact the boy never learned to do what he was told to.
“Should we go after him?” Stigend asked, getting up and looking around. His voice was calm and conversational, but Modtryth, having known him for several years, caught a nervous trace in his voice.

“I don’t think so. He’s probably just making some new acquintances”, Modtryth said. They glanced at each other. They both knew it wasn’t always a good thing when Cnebba made new acquintances.

“Look, there he is!” Stigend finally spotted the boy. He was talking with a girl and a boy. “See, they aren’t fighting”, Modtryth smiled with an edge of sarcasm in her voice. Stigend rolled his eyes as he watched Cnebba run away from his new friends, waving his hand. The boy’s parents sit down, relieved. The old mare took a few steps and placed her big head on Stigend’s shoulder.

“How long you think the court proceedings will still take?” Modtryth asked her husband. “I don’t know. Depends on how many issues there are to be solved”, Stigend replied absent-mindedly, stroking the horse.
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Old 06-27-2006, 10:01 AM   #373
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"Is that the last of them?" Eodwine asked by way of formality. Saeryn, Thornden, and Garwine were the only others left in the Hall. Eodwine stood.

"Lord!" Garwine said from the doorway, for he was looking outside.

"Yes, Garwine?"

"There is one family sitting on the grass outside yet. I'll ask them if they have business with the Eorl." Garwine was through the door which had closed behind him while Eodwine's mouth opened, ready to say, Good. Eodwine smiled and sat back down.

Moments later, Garwine opened the door and in walked a Rohirric man and a Dunlending woman, followed by a boy who seemed half one and half the other. Hot on the boy's heels were Garstan's two children, seeming to have made friends with the boy already.

Eodwine's eyes narrowed. The boy was a half breed and this man had been unable to find better than a Dunlending wife. Such were his immediate thoughts, though he knew them to be somewhat harsh. It was hard not to speak that way, especially due to his dreams of Kéđra of late. Still, as Eorl he knew he had to give them a fair hearing, and was determined to.

"I greet you, goodman and goodwife. You have waited long, it seems. Now is the time to have your say." He had been about to ask them how he could serve them, but did not wish to imply service. Then he had thought of telling them to speak their piece, which would imply that he wanted them to be quick and done soon. That would not do either. He hoped the words he had chosen did not imply the wrong meaning, but feared they did. He waited for the man to speak.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:05 AM   #374
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Lin left the barn late in the afternoon with a cheerful wave at Leof, so absorbed in his work and the horses she doubted he noticed her departure. She noted with relief that the riot of people, horses, and wagons filling the yard to capacity seemed to be nearly all gone, but still...she didn't feel like facing more strangers. While none had spoken to her, she couldn't help but notice the whispers and rumors that had followed her all day.

A low rumble from her stomach quickly helped her choose her path. She'd skipped lunch, choosing to stay with Leof in the stable instead, but she was sure there must be plenty of food left over. Almost silently she slipped across the courtyard, dimming slowly as the sun began to set, and crossed through the dormitories into the kitchen garden, intending to enter by the back door and avoid whatever strangers still sheltered under the tarp protecting the rapidly growing Great Hall. The kitchen garden seemed deserted, and Lin skirted the large tree quickly.

A cough from behind her made her screech and spin around, placing her back to the wall in her newly-learned paranoia, ready to run, peering into the shadows under the old aspen tree. A familiar face quickly took shape.

"Degas, is that you?"
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:21 AM   #375
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"I am sorry, my lady. I did not mean to frighten you, but you didn't hear me call your name." Degas took a step closer; close enough that they could have a conversation without calling statements and responses across the distance, far enough that all propriety was preserved.

He looked her up and down, seeing her differently than before. She was more beautiful than ever, even with bruises, perhaps especially with them. He had liked her very much before when he had thought of her as a lovely, fiesty, and very desirable girl. Now he looked at a woman and he was not displeased.

"I meant... I meant to apologize..." He looked at her beseechingly, his words just loud enough for her to hear and no louder. He looked into her eyes, afraid to see what he suspected would lay there: she would blame him for her ordeal, and she had every right to do so. He did not know what to expect, but he braced himself for the worst.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:39 AM   #376
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"Degas..." she paused, visibly relaxing, the look of a frightened beast disappearing from her eyes. "I saw you this morning, at court, and wanted to talk to you, but there were so many people." She paused, a shy and slightly embarassed blush creeping up her pale cheeks.

"I--um." The false start did not help her confidence. "I need to apologize."

"What?" Degas' face was a study in surprise, but Lin was inspecting her hands rather minutely and didn't notice.

"At the Fair...the day I was kidnapped. I--" Lin looked up suddenly. There was a wryly amused expression on her face, but her dark eyes were pleading. Don't laugh at me. "There was a dancing girl. On a corner. And I saw you watching her and I just got mad, I don't know why, you have every right to think she was pretty if you wished, but I got mad, and I walked off when you weren't looking, and I got lost, and kidnapped--" Lin stopped, aware she was talking too quickly.

"And I'm sorry. That you had to worry about me."
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Old 06-27-2006, 12:20 PM   #377
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Degas stopped short, floored. His mouth opened slightly as if to reply, but he was caught up in thought. His eyes had been on one girl only, two if he counted the little one on his shoulders.

He'd asked Linduial to pick out a necklace... not for Saeryn, but for herself... and she had responded that Saeryn would like a certain one that Degas had never quite managed to purchase. And then Lčođern had drawn his attention to scarves and kittens and Lin had been gone.

He looked down at her, but not condescendingly; he was simply that much taller; and he met her wide eyes quite seriously.

"There... there was a dancing girl?"
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Old 06-27-2006, 01:21 PM   #378
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Lin looked up in confusion, meeting Degas' eyes for the first time. "You don't remember the dancing girl? But--" She paused. She'd convinced herself that Degas had been so distracted that day, but had she really had any reason to believe it? "I thought-- I'm sorry, Degas. Seems I had more to apologize for than I thought." She was silent a moment. If I hadn't acted so stupidly, I might never have been attacked. It was all my fault. She glanced up at the young man, her self-doubt roiling at the corners of her thought.

"I should never have wandered out of your sight. It was all my fault. I'm sorry."
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Old 06-27-2006, 02:14 PM   #379
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He looked into her eyes and saw that she meant her words. He took an unplanned step forward and took her hand without considering the implications. He held it carefully between his own.

"Lady Linduial... you have nothing for which to apologize." His words were for her alone and he lost sight of everything but her eyes. "I never should have taken my eyes from you. I blame myself... the one time... the only time, it would seem... that my eyes strayed from you was the one time it most mattered. I was your escort and my attention wavered. It is my fault that you were taken and if there is a way, any way, that I can... that I can do anything... please, would you have me do it?"
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Old 06-27-2006, 03:25 PM   #380
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The yard became emptier hour by hour as the afternoon turned to an early evening. Stigend and Modtryth had already packed their little camping site consisting of a couple of small linen clothes they had spread to the grass for the food and drink and to sit on. As the little boys had disappeared with their families, Cnebba was left with a boy and a girl who seemed to be in no hurry either. The three children were playing in the great elm that dominated the yard. There seemed to be no figthing or teasing. Just the natural lots of fun the children only are capable of when they are not spoiled by the adults and their twisted ways, Stigend thought to himself looking at the children playing. Both Stigend and Modtryth were feeling comfortable right now, but the idea of meeting the Eorl and asking for a job had slowly creeped into Stigend’s mind making him more worried again as the day was drawing to a close.

They had just decided to call for Cnebba and try to check inside the Mead Hall when the man came and bid them to come in. Stigend took the horse by the reins and started walking her towards the main door as Modtryth went after Cnebba.

“Could I stay here Mummy? We could play more!” Cnebba called to his mother as he noted her intent even before she had opened her mouth. “Oh no, you will come with us right now!” Modtryth called him back with a firm tone. “You know, if they are to give us work from here they will have to see that you also can behave yourself!” she continued, flashing a smile to him and quickly checking Stigend’s expression. For a moment Stigend’s face showed a sudden alarm, but that melted fastly to an amicable but controlled smile basically thrown at Modtryth. But he addressed his son: “You just listen to your mother! And no tricking inside, the Eorl is a great man and has no time for foolery”. The two other children had been following them and now hurried to whisper something to Cnebba’s ear as the Eorl was mentioned. Soon they all giggled heartily. Stigend and Modtryth frowned and smiled to each other at the same time, rolling their heads.

After being out in the open for the whole day, it was relatively dark inside and it took a moment for their eyes to get used to it to actually see something. Stigend sensed that there were several people still at the Hall, but before the Eorl spoke there was a short silence. He knew exactly what that silence meant. They were examined and evaluated by their looks.

"I greet you, goodman and goodwife. You have waited long, it seems. Now is the time to have your say." echoed the Eorl’s steady but already a bit tired voice at last. Stigend found himself more nervous than he had thought he’d be before. The Eorl spoke to them respectingly, but still there was that familiar ring of uncertainty in his voice, as if he was not sure how to treat them.

“My lord.” Stigend and Modtryth both bowed low in front of the Eorl. “Thank you for your kind words sir. But our waiting has been kind of our own choice as we have no case to bring forwards in this Hall. We are here to offer ourselves to your service. My name is Stigend and I’m a carpenter by trade.” Then he turned a little to draw attention to his wife and child. “This is my wife Modtryth and this is our son Cnebba.” Modtryth smiled to him quickly in encouragement as he turned to face the Eorl again.

“We came to Edoras because of the horse fair.” Stigend found himself immediately searching for words as his first address he had thought of the whole afternoon started breaking down. “Then we heard that your Mead Hall is under renovation and thought of...” He was getting desperately conscious of his lack of eloquence.

Suddenly Cnebba broke free from her mother’s hand as Garmund and Lčođern hustled him to join them to something more interesting. Modtryth tried to grasp his hand back and was just getting after the boy as Stigend’s hand took hold of her shoulder. Then she noted it too. The lord Eodwine himself seemed to smile and nodded to the father and mother to let their child go. Or so they both interpreted what they saw. The children ran out from the Hall clearly delighted of their freedom.

Stigend felt relieved by that small gesture of good will towards his child and encouraged himself to finish what he had to say with more confidence. “I master most of the techniques that are used in carpentry. I can do masonry and simple ironworks and have some crude experience in making and using weapons.” He made a small pause and then nodded towards Modtryth. “My wife is handy in any kind of household- and needlework and has even served as a helping hand at building sites.”

Stigend was already taking the step back to show that he was finished when Modtryth elbowed him, hissing through her teeth about the letter of recommendation. Stigend had been a bit embarrased with that letter-thing from the beginning and had hoped he would not have to present it in the end. His idea of the value of a man’s work was the man and his work itself, not the letters written between lords and masters. But as lord Eodwine clearly had noticed this last communication between the two and waited, he had to open his mouth once more.

“I have been given this letter of recommendation from lord Byrthold at whose estate I was working after the fair.” he added a bit shily. He produced the letter from his belt and took a few steps towards the Eorl, offering it to him from respectful distance.
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Old 06-27-2006, 07:06 PM   #381
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Lin drew in a slow breath as Degas claimed her hand, suddenly aware of how close he was, and of how his proximity affected her. Her heart was racing, her face flushed...and she was sure he felt the same. She wondered fleetingly if he was going to kiss her, then cast the thought aside.

But he looks as though he might...at least as though he might wish to.

Could it be, perhaps, that she had been so totally wrong? The only time my eyes strayed... Were her feelings for this young man requited? She turned her face up towards his, unconsciously begging for the kiss he was too much the gentleman to give.

But he did not try to rescue you!

And Garstan was hurt trying. Could I have borne it had he been there?

"Anything?" Lin was standing practically in his arms now, oblivious to anything outside of the small circle their bodies made. The excitement of his nearness made her bold. "I have but one boon that I could ask, Degas. I'm going home tomorrow, and I don't know how long I will be gone, but I swear I shall return, as soon as I may." Her emotion and fear shone in her grey eyes. "Wouldst thou wait for me?"
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Old 06-27-2006, 08:32 PM   #382
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The hour grew late. Garstan had not seen his children since their dismissal from court. Garstan had remained for a time, but his arm began to pain him as the hours passed and Eodwine, seeing the discomfort written across Garstan's brow, had given him leave to depart and rest as court drew to a close for the day. He had retired to his room, only missing the last case. He looked for the children, but though he heard their voices now and again through the window, they were nowhere to be found.

Playing out of doors, as well they should on a fine day. Good. While examining his wound, Garstan moved to the window, curious to see their game, but the children were hidden from view. Turning away from the window, Garstan carefully prodded his wound with a finger, wincing to change its dressing. It bled little now, but the gash still ached terribly. The blade had been keen.

Garstan heard the children's voices again, along with that of a strange child. He looked outside again, this time catching a glimpse of the children as they were called away by a woman – apparently mother to Garmund and Lčođern's new playmate. A deep frown crossed his face. Another Dundenling at the hall? And a child? Garstan went to investigate.

The children had been in the front inn yard. He strode outside, but found no one there. Not realizing that the group had gone into court, he went around the building to the rear garden to search for them near the kitchen garden.

Linduial and Degas stood close together. Too close together, Garstan thought, for the bounds of propriety. He coughed loudly to announce his presence before approaching.

"My lady," he said, carefully not looking at Degas. "Have you seen my children? I thought they might have passed this way."

Garstan knew that Linduial could not have seen the children. But he needed something to say.

A step and a voice behind her startled Lin out of the intense embrace, and she stepped quickly out of the bounds of Degas' arms, a heretofore quiet part of her mind crying out in reluctance. She blushed, eyes flickering between Garstan and Degas. Couldn't he have waited just a moment longer? I want to know Degas' answer...

"I am sorry, Master Garstan," she whispered at the ground, ears hot. "I have seen naught of them."

Garstan looked back and forth from Linduial's blushing face to the ground and then quickly to Degas. "No?" he said, slowly backing away from the pair. "They are not in the front yard and I heard their voices but a minute ago. They must be nearby." He spoke unnecessarily, and probably unwelcomely. He knew it. But he could think of no graceful exit. And was uncertain of the correct course of action.

Lin threw Degas an anguished, apologetic look, then walked awkwardly to Garstan. "I'll help you look for them." Degas made no move to follow her and she mentally cursed her rash request, heart sinking. As soon as she was out of earshot of the young man, she murmured intensely, brokenly to Garstan, "You won't tell anyone, will you? We weren't doing anything, just talking..."

Garstan frowned. How should he answer? Linduial seemed desperate for his silence. Garstan wasn't sure he should be involved. He was a mere stoneshaper. But what did honor – his honor, his friendship with the Eorl, who was responsible for what passed under the Mead Hall roof – demand?

"I will do nothing to bring dishonor upon any of us." He cursed himself for the word. Their was nothing in Linduial's behavior to suggest that it was needed. But he had used it, all the same. He only hoped that they would reach the safety of the Great Hall and the group still assembled there before Linduial could press the issue further. Garstan was evading her question. Intentionally. He didn't know how to respond correctly, and so he gave a non-answer.

"Dishonor?" The pair were searching through the building, making sure the children weren't simply hiding indoors, and Lin's tone, though low, was beseeching. "What does that mean? Why should there be any chance of dishonor in this meeting? You go your way, I'll go mine, none need be the wiser."

Garstan raised an eyebrow. "Surely, my lady, you must realize that there would be some question raised by your discourse. I know well that there was no dishonor involved. But others…others might be less charitable if they overheard. Rumor mongers. You have enemies. Of that, at least, you must be aware. And there are many folk at the Hall today for court." He paused, puzzling over how next to reply.

"I can promise you not to speak to those who have no need to hear of what you said. But I cannot give you my word to remain silent to all. Your brother, at least, should know what has passed. For I heard some part to your conversation, and he should be made aware."

It was done. Garstan thought his choice was just. He hoped it was.

Giggles from one of the empty rooms betrayed the whereabouts of the children, and Garstan entered to be presented with the unevenly roasted apples that had served to keep them hidden so long. Lin remained at the door, trying to think of something she could say to change his mind, but she was tired...and frankly too discouraged to continue the argument. Degas did not answer, nor did he follow. Lin, you fool! you've ruined it. And now you'll have to face Farahil as well...and he'll tell Adragil...and Papa.

"So be it," she said in a flat tone, but she doubted Garstan heard her, so intensely was he interested in the slightly burnt skin of the apple, and did she but know it, all too relieved to have an excuse to end their confrontation. It was too much, and she hastily spun around and up to her room, all appetite forgotten. Things may yet look better in the morning.

Garstan did hear Linduial's last words to him, and the rapid footsteps that carried her away. He was, in fact, relieved that their conversation had ended. But his relief was short-lived as he noted the third child with Lčođern and Garmund. He was definitely Dundendling, or partly so.

"Who is this?" he asked.

"He's Cnebba," Lčođern said between bites of apple. "He's nice. We were playing."

Garstan frowned again, uncertain. For the second time in the same day, he avoided the most important aspect of the topic at hand. "Let's find Cnebba's mother, shall we?"

Taking Lčođern's hand, he led the group to the Great Hall.

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Old 06-28-2006, 01:42 PM   #383
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Degas wandered in a bit of a daze, making his way into the kitchen and begging a soft roll from Kara. He pulled it apart and placed meat and cheese inside so that he could take it with him and make no messes. He was not actually hungry, but he had things to do this night that would sap him of energy, if he gauged his companions accurately. He filled a heavy mug with cider, with Kara's permission, and slipped away from the kitchen again, making his way quietly to his room. He needed a moment to himself before he attended to other matters.

His door closed, he sat on the edge of his bed, looking at the floor. Wouldst thou wait for me? His hands were shaking. He could still feel hers within them, could smell the light scent of flowers that always seemed to accompany her. She was leaving. He had known... he had ridden many miles with Farahil; many quiet, brooding miles. He had known that Farahil would take her home, and he had known something else at the very same time. He smiled to himself. She had asked for him to wait for her. That he had not expected.

Screams he could have dealt with, angry tears. He had expected cold silence... to never hear her voice addressing him again. It would freeze his heart to ice, the coldness he had expected, and he knew that broken shards of it would cut him. He had hoped for so much, only allowing himself to dream that she would forgive him, never letting himself think she might say what she had... He had not allowed himself to think that it might happen. He had spent a long week with her family; he knew that they wanted her to return. They had met him with curiosity and he had left with his own. He had come to speak with them over matters of grave importance. He had ridden to bring tidings of Linduial to her family. And they had surprised him equally as much as he had them.

Her father had been angry; it was apparent. Farahil had sat quietly, and Degas could hardly look away from him. Adragil had come some time later and Degas had explained it all again. And then he had said something more, expecting anything. He could already feel bruises, could envision himself bound, sailed far from home, and deposited into the brine to fend for himself against the cold tides, the creatures of the sea, and his own exhaustion. And Adragil had clapped him on the back fraternally, excusing his very large self and his family from the room. They had not returned and Degas had heard nothing from them about it until the day before he left.

He had quietly learned his way about Farlen's home, made friends with Adragil's children. He knew that they watched his every move, even when they were not in residence. It was planting season and they were busy. Adragil had returned from Dol Amroth; he had been mere hours from sailing. He was imposing and Degas was reminded at once of stories his father had told him when he was young, of men that were bears as well, that had the strength of a wild animal, and that were brave and terrible, kind and noble, and fought along side the forces of good in many terrible wars. Degas was awestruck, somewhat, by Linduial's brothers, and he could tell that they knew it. He pretended otherwise, ever respectful, but as confident as he could be, knowing now against whom Linduial measured men.

They were polite, if distant, and Degas attended to his own business while they attended to theirs. Adragil's son had made fast friends with Feowertyne and Adragil had agreed to give young lad work and a home, and Degas spent all the time he could on the matter, seeing to it that Feo was well enough that he would not fall ill again. He could not ride north to Edoras until Farahil was ready; he had given his word to wait, but every day that he tarried, he worried more of Linduial. Had they found her? Was she well? Why was he not there, saving her himself? What would she think of him... he had lost her and could not be bothered to search and find her; to deposit her safely before her family and act as a man. She would think that he had run. She would think of her brothers and know their courage. They never would have lost her, and if by some chance she had disappeared, they would find her in moments.

He heard Saeryn's voice and looked up toward his closed door. He wondered what she was doing... he had not yet spoken to her for more than a moment and she had made it clear that she did not want him near her until her rage cooled. He thought of the conversation he must have with Eodwine. It was not fair... Eodwine was his senior by many years... they were in his home. Eodwine could best him in battle with any weapon but staff and Degas knew it. He thought of Linduial's brothers again. He denied himself use of the word, but he knew deeply that he was vaguely afraid of them. He knew that they could kill him in a second and he would have no say in the matter. That they hadn't... he smiled. Adragil had been... different than Degas had expected. Farahil... he was different as well. Degas knew no more of him now than the day that they had met.

He thought of Linduial. Would he wait? She did not hate him. She had asked him to wait. He thought of Farlen, and of Farahil's reaction to what Degas knew Garstan would say to him. He smiled tiredly. Would he wait? He knew the answer deeply.
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Old 06-28-2006, 06:00 PM   #384
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Eodwine had been at courts in Gondor in which the lord nodded to his steward, who retrieved the parchment from Eodwine's hands, and either read it aloud or handed it to the lord; it was as if the messenger, or peasant, was too far beneath the lord's station. Eodwine rejected such an action for his court. He smiled, stood, and approached Stigend, who handed him the paper, which he quickly scanned. Byrthold's word was that Stigend was a good carpenter and steady worker.

"Stigend and Modtryth, the Lady Saeryn and I will sit with you at table, back by the kitchen."

Eodwine handed the paper to Saeryn and instructed Thornden to have Kara bring food and drink for four. Then he directed Garwine to prepare the fire in the hearth against the cool of the night.

"Court is over," Eodwine said as they sat down. "I need a carpenter who can work with my stoneshaper and the others of my Hall. And I welcome families. The girl and boy playing with your son are the stoneshaper's children. A seemly omen, if you heed such things. I will take you on for one month to see how you fare with those who are the folk of my Hall, and then we shall see about longer. But tell the Lady and me about yourselves."

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Old 06-29-2006, 05:17 PM   #385
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After all the worrying and tension before the audience with Lord Eodwine, everything seemed to happen in a blink of an eye. Stigend was both relieved and astonished by the quick outcome of things as he followed the Lord and the Lady towards the kitchen. For a moment he felt like he was out of the time and place, just not believing what had happened, but then Modtryth’s fingers that pushed him gently but sharply to his side awakened him to reality. “I told you so!” she whispered between her teeth, throwing a wide smile to him after it. Her smile and her gaze were at the same time warm and triumphant. Stigend managed to smile back as he was recovering to the here and now. Quickly he focused on Eodwine and Saeryn who were already taking their seats on a big table and nodding them to take seats opposite of them.

The table was quickly laid with bread, a couple of cheeses and sausages and different sorts of fresh vegetables. There were even some fruits available. As a crown to this “light” evening meal, Kara served them all full pints of cider. Stigend and Modtryth were used to second quality food and cheap ales. So even if this was no feast by any normal standards, but just a plain simple and good food to bite in hunger, to both of them it was a special treat they had afforded themselves seldomly during their wandering years. Fresh and good quality food with excellent cider, not the all too familiar watery porridge, or those last year’s taters served with cabbage and the shabby yeast-tasting ale. Well, the occasion seemed special to them in other ways too. Added to this, they had only enjoyed some light provisions on that day, of which most had been offered to Cnebba. So understandably, it was hard for them both not to attack on all the things laid before them immediately and to try to behave decently, waiting for the Lord and the Lady to start.

Lord Eodwine opened the discussion. "Court is over and I need a carpenter who can work with my stoneshaper and the others of my Hall. And I welcome families. The girl and boy playing with your son are the stoneshaper's children. A seemly omen, if you heed such things. I will take you on for one month to see how you fare with those who are the folk of my Hall, and then we shall see about longer. But tell the Lady and me about yourselves."

After that they toasted with the cider and Stigend thanked both the Lord and the Lady for the generous offer, setting the pint carefully back at the table. He glanced quickly to Modtryth who smiled to him heartily, seemingly happy. Stigend then turned his face towards their new masters and addressed them.

“Thank you again your Lordship, ... Lady”, he nodded also to Saeryn. “Thank you for your kindness and for your confidence. I do see the omen as a promising one. It’s a rare thing Cnebba is taken to play with others without a fight or other show of force”, he said and again found himself at loss with words. He felt he was bent on totally wrong way of putting things in words. Just too rash and blunt. He wasn’t used to discuss with people of high rank and the beautiful sentences they talked with. He wavered for a while about how to continue when Modtryth broke in.

“We believe we can prove ourselves worthy of your confidence, my Lord, ... my Lady”, she said with perfect North-Rohanian accent, looking both of them to the eyes and nodding to them with respect, but also with confidence.

Eodwine and Saeryn seemed somewhat astonished by her fluent speech. Stigend nevertheless was quite accustomed to this kind of reactions and hurried to explain, being more confident now as he faced a situation he had faced so many times before. “You asked us to tell of ourselves. I think we should begin with her. My wife Modtryth, she is a Rohanian.”

Both Eodwine and Saeryn glanced at each other questioningly and then turned their faces towards the newcomers again. “She was born in Rohan and has grown and lived in Rohan all her life. Her father was a Rohanian freeman, just a boy though, at the time.” Stigend sipped some cider to let his words sink in. He had done this so many times in so many different circumstances that he knew when to pause and what to say.

“Her mother was a Dunleding. A maid in a rich household, or a slave to say the truth of it. I think you know the end of the story, ... of every story like that”. He continued. The poignancy of his tone was getting too easy to hear.

Stigend wasn’t particularly a man who wanted to make his points heard everywhere or to aggressively argue his views. Just on the contrary. But of this matter he felt really deeply about and had been drawn into actual fights over it many times. Oh no, calm yourself now! We have been treated well by these people and Modtryth seems to be right, these people really feel open-minded and good-hearted. Just don’t follow that track now, you have no reason for it! He thought to himself while sipping some cider to get an idea how to make good the situation.

Once again it was Modtryth who actually managed to made a try to save the day: “I’m sorry about my husband’s language. He feels too deeply about these things, especially when it comes to his son. But I hope you to understand the pressures and the disdain we have to face on daily basis. It has made us both quite defensive.”

“Yes, my wife speaks the words of wisdom. I apologize the tone of my voice. I promise it won’t happen again”, Stigend put in, looking both Eodwine and Saeryn to the eye as he spoke. “I’ve just have had to defend my wife and child so many times against people of my own kin that it has somehow become my second nature to be suspicious of every kinsman as they seem all to be malicious towards me and my family. I’m deeply taken by the way you have treated us and in no way intended to implicate anything on your Lordship or the Lady.” He bowed to both of them in open shame of himself. He had been brought up well. He knew exactly well, that the ways in which he argued with other commoners were not suitable in this kind of company. He knew it just too well himself.

Before Eodwine or Saeryn had time to answer the many questions that were in the air, Modtryth continued, just to get over with the issue. “My husband has told you about me. I can tell you about him. He is a hardworking and honest man, a man true to Rohanian spirit. And he’s a brave man too. He has courage to ignore the scorn and ill-will of others to stand for things that are right as he doesn’t make judgements over looks but on deeds.”

If Stigend was used to defend his wife and child against certain kind of scorns, then Modtryth was also pretty professional with her defense of her husband. They both knew just too well of what things the other was looked down upon and how to defend the other.

Stigend welt his cheeks starting to redden. He always felt uneasy when her wife defended him. But especially now he was more than ashamed: in front of their new Lord and Lady he was being defended vehemently by his wife. Forgetting the keen eyes and ears of Eodwine and Saeryn, he suddenly took Modtryth’s shoulder by his right hand and hissed to her: “Now stop it! Who’s getting a bit carried away here?” Immediately he realised that they had been both heard and seen by their new masters.

More than a bit embarrassed he took one more piece of bread and rolled it in his fingers, looking genuinely apologetical, but he was not brave enough to open his mouth at the moment. Modtryth took a sip of the cider to veil her face.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:42 PM   #386
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Eodwine smiled, determined to put the two at their ease. It was good to see and hear folk who were so very much themselves; too many kept too much hidden. Eodwine wondered if that was true for himself. It was something to think about later.

"See, Saeryn, that you defend your someday husband as well-" Stigend and Modtryth looked up in surprise "-and I'll see that I treasure my someday wife as well."

Stigend blurted, "You speak too well of us, lord."

"I would rather that you spoke to me as you have done, Stigend. I was born a lowly farmer, thrust amongst my betters by the favor of King Eomer. The Lady Saeryn is highborn, but not I. She is my apprentice and ward until she or I marry.

"But enough! You stare at the food as if you would eat it with your eyes! Methinks you are hungry! Eat your fill, my friends! I am hungry enough too!"

Stigend and Modtryth grinned and took Eodwine at his word. It was not long before Cnebba joined them. The talk lightened, for Stigend and Modtryth had been put at their ease. When they had taken their fill, Saeryn as host and Lady, showed the family to their room, and Eodwine went to the hearth fire to see how Garwine had fared.
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:45 PM   #387
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Saeryn retired to her room for a few short moments to splash cold water on her face and change into soft breeches and a loose shirt long since stolen from Degas. Only members of the household were left in Eodwine's hall now, and she was tired. She would have loved to sink into her soft bed and sleep until late tomorrow, but she needed words with both her brother and her lord.

Ignoring shoes, she opened her door and knocked on Eodwine's. The only answer was a soft mew from her feet. She reached down and scooped up a soft grey kitten and walked down the stairs, cuddling it and rubbing its head with one finger. She saw Eodwine standing by the hearth and went to him, standing back a little and waiting for him to see her.

He had been standing before the hearth for some time, now that Thornden and Garwine had been dismissed. He would have to give each of them a day free from duties as thanks for the long hours of standing and waiting and help they had both given him. This week, he decided.

The hearth was as he wished it. {see The Hobbit, Queer Lodgings (illustrated edition)} The floor in the center of the room had been dug out, about a foot deep (just behind the dais, looking from the front door toward the kitchen), four feet wide by six feet long. In its middle was an iron grate, filled with tinder and wood. Garwine had prepared the fire as his last chore before his evening meal. Falco had pulled up a chair and was sitting in front of it, smoking his long stemmed pipe, his legs crossed at the ankles.

"So you think yourself important now, eh, Eodwine?"

"You know better than that, you old rascal."

Falco glanced at him once by way of agreement, and saw Saeryn waiting. Eodwine noticed and turned. She had changed into a man's loose fitting clothes, and she was barefoot, holding a kitten in her arms. Most fetching. He smiled.

"We were to talk about today, were we not?" Saeryn nodded once, straight faced.

"She's not giving away what she's thinking!" Falco chortled. "Be on your guard, Eorl!"

"Falco, I ought to make you work for all that food you eat here." He had not taken her eyes from her. "Shall we talk in quiet?"

She nodded again, and led him back toward his room. She put the kitten down and went inside. They took chairs on opposite sides of his table, leaving the door open.

"Say what you wish, Lady Saeryn," he broached.

"I am unsure where to begin, Lord Eodwine."

He smiled. "Then perhaps with the beginning?"

She grinned and her mood lightened. This was a test, of sorts, but one that he was sure she would pass. He would not have chosen her to be the lady of the hall elsewise.

"You asked me to watch, and to listen. So I did. Before you called my name," and here she smiled shyly, "I listened less, but still heard. They were matters that I had guessed would pass the way they did... your household is loyal to you, and they are hard, honest workers. Also, they bring so much laughter and liveliness to the Hall. And the children make me smile."

Saeryn reported her thoughts dutifully, keeping few of them to herself, on the events that unfolded. She failed to mention Degas or anything to do with him. She kept herself on track, resisting the urge to tangent off into lengthy compliments of every individual household member.

Her speech was quick, though clear, and it was quieter than usual. She eventually trailed to silence for a moment and shifted in her seat, crossing her legs beneath her. She had spoken of the household, of the question of land rights, of the mixed family that now resided within the hall. The event that weighed most heavily on her mind was the only that remained.

"Eodwine, I do not think that Manawyth is guilty of the crime of which he has been accused. His eyes claimed honesty... and his bearing showed no sign of their lie. Either he was honest today, if not before, or my years of residence with a man that lied more oft than he spoke truthfully were for nothing."

Eodwine regarded her with raised brows, borne of his surprise. "I did not expect such strong words on the matter, but thank you. It is one of the reasons why I wish to go to Dunland with Manawyth, to learn all there is to know about the situation, for will I or nill I, I hold the man's fate in my hands. It is a dire thing." He sighed heavily and his shoulders drooped. Saeryn noted the lines around his eyes and near his mouth; he seemed older with his duties of lordship weighing upon him; but the spark had not left his eyes.

"And I wish for you to go with Manawyth and me, for I would see to your quest as well; somehow. And that brings me to the matter of your apprenticeship as the Lady of the Hall; and Garreth's rude question. What think you?"

Eodwine watched her face. He had noted her seriousness and quietness; she seemed more a woman than the spritely girl he had met a few months ago.

"My apprenticeship seems to solve many problems, Eodwine, and I thank you for it. My place in this household is now firm... before I was... well... simply a guest. A runaway noble with nobody to speak for me but an equally runaway brother that found me at The White Horse Inn by accident. I was floating like dust in the wind, Eodwine. You've settled me. You gave me protection and friendship before... now you have given me a home and honest work as well. I can ask for no more."

Eodwine watched her. She had avoided the rude question. He allowed a slow half smile. "I am glad." He decided to leave it at that.

"Ahem," came a cough from the doorway.

Saeryn looked up and her composed look fell away. Eodwine turned. It was Degas.

"Eodwine, we need to talk."

Eodwine's face fell. He had been hoping to join Falco for a pipe smoke and glass of wine. It would have to wait. He stood and offered Degas his chair. There were only two chairs in the room, so he sat on the edge of the bed . Degas sat down.

"Well?" Eodwine said, his face feeling more tired than it had since the day he'd learned that Linduial had been abducted.

Degas turned to his sister with a meaningful look. She glared at him and very intentionally made herself more comfortable. If they were ten years younger, she'd have accompanied the motions with a protruding tongue. Eodwine watched their faces, noting Degas's impatience and discomfort, Saeryn's barely concealed annoyance. He had to suspect that the two had already spoken. Her words were polite when she spoke and only Eodwine's familiarity with the young woman allowed him to discern any emotion from within them.

"My brother seems to be of the opinion that he has a say in my life and he seems equally of the opinion that I should not be present when he says it."

"Your father--"

"Our father."

"Our father is dead. The next oldest man in your life is Fenrir. Would you prefer that he speak for you?"

Eodwine sat quietly, listening to the exchange and watching. Saeryn's voice fell to a near whisper.

"You left me with him, Degas. You packed your things and left for Gondor and you left me behind. You forfeited your right to speak for me when you deserted me nearly four years ago, and Fenrir lost his right when he chose to act in such a way as to be undeserving." Degas looked crushed and Saeryn fell silent.

This was ugly. She was right. And she was wrong. "Saeryn," Eodwine said in a quiet voice, "Fenrir loses no right until the king's court says he does. The same is true for Degas. He cannot unmake himself your brother by leaving your household for four years, nor for forty. Nevertheless, I also have a right to speak for Saeryn now, for she has placed herself under my guardianship. So think of that as you speak, Degas."

Saeryn fell silent before mumbling something. Degas wasted no time.

"What was that?"

"I can speak for myself."

"But obviously not clearly or with enough power behind the words for men to hear."

"How dare you?" Her voice shook with rage. Eodwine was forgotten.

"If you can't be bothered to make yourself heard--"

"I'll make myself heard, you arrogant fool. Do you want to hear me? Do you? Do you want to hear of power?" Her voice rose passionately as Degas provoked her. They knew each other well; far beyond well enough to know what things to say that would cause the most hurt, or the most anger. What did it matter what was believed, what either of them cared about, if they could win for the moment, as fleeting as it was? "I am the same age as you, brother dearest, and in potential alone, I stand to gain more power than you ever will, the younger son of a house that lost favor with the death of our parents. I can marry and gain from it. Can you? Can you stand that the object of your affections is of a higher station than you, and always will be? Speak to me, brother, of power, when you have some of your own that has more substance than mere words!"

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Old 06-30-2006, 12:10 AM   #388
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It was night. The April sun had fallen, and Náin, up since nearly dawn, had retired to his bedchamber, just down the hall from Eodwine's chambers. He had climbed into bed, and was just starting to doze off when a commotion erupted down the hall, in Eodwine's personal drawing room. Someone, a girl... Saeryn maybe? Whoever it was, she was raising a powerful ruckus- and someone, a male, was arguing with her.

Náin's first thought was to put his pillow over his head and stuff out the noise, but that was clearly not going to work.

When the arguing intensified rather than got louder, Náin jumped to his feet irritably, threw on a nightgown, and stormed out of his room and down the hall. Had it been earlier in the day, he would likely have considered his actions a bit more beforehand, and would probably have come to the conclusion that they were ill-considered. Unfortunately, it was not earlier in the day, and so he didn't reconsider. A tired Dwarf is a rarely a rational one.

Shoving open the door to Eodwine's chambers without regard for who or what might meet him within- and forgetting whose chambers they were- Náin strode right into the argument between Saeryn and Degas. Eodwine appeared to be a little bit uncomfortable at being stuck in the middle of the twins' quarrel, but Náin failed to notice this in his irritability.

"...to me, brother, of power, when you have some of your own that has more substance than mere words!"

Before Degas had a chance to reply to Saeryn, Náin had burst in.

"Battleaxes and Balrogs!" he roared. "Can you make it any less difficult for a Dwarf to get some sleep around here!"

"Náin, I ask you-" Eodwine began, but the irate Dwarf wasn't to be stopped.

"And in the Eorl's chambers of all places! Bricks and Barriers! A fine example to set after such a fine court day! The only thing that marred the court was the same thing that's keeping decent people awake at this hour! You two youngin's and your childish ways! You may as well give up the pretence, both of you, of being grown adults! If I were in your shoes, my father'd give me a thrashing I'd never forget! Carpets and corsets, though, seeing as you two hooligans haven't got a father handy, I'm half-tempted to do the honours myself!"

Degas gave Náin a glare, daring the two-foot shorter Dwarf to lay hands on either of them, but it was Eodwine who spoke first.

"Silence!"

Fuming, Náin, Degas, and Saeryn all turned to face Eodwine. Down the corridor, Náin thought he could hear more people who should have been abed stirring. Perhaps, his tired mind suggested, he was making things worse rather than better.
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Old 06-30-2006, 08:00 AM   #389
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Garstan stood pacing uncomfortably outside of Farahil's room. Lčođern and Garmund were left behind to wait for Cnebba to come out from dinner. The boy seemed a good enough child from the little Garstan had heard on their walk before delivering Cnebba to take a meal. He was, for the moment, satisfied with the boy, though he wanted still to meet Cnebba's family.

But for the moment, Garstan had a more pressing concern in Linduial. Why, and how, had he ever managed to be drawn into this situation? It was none of his affair. He had no place meddling in the concerns of those above him in rank. But this time, this one time, he did. There was now a tie between Linduial, her family, and him. Garstan didn't know what was expected of him, but he felt it his duty to report what he had seen. Courtship. Garstan thought of his daughter. He would certainly want his permission asked before Lčođern received any suitors. And therein was the rub. Linduial had spoken without seeking her brother's advice. Garstan didn't think her action had been correct. He needed to be sure that her behavior was proper, and accepted by her family. For Linduial's future and her family's position. Perhaps not the place for a mere stoneshaper to speak, but this was not an ordinary circumstance.

He rapped on the door. Farahil opened it and looked at Garstan in some surprise.

"Garstan. Yes. What is it?"

He entered the room uneasily, not knowing how to begin or even what to say. How much should he tell, and how much of the tale should be Linduial's?

"My lord. I thought that I should tell you. Your sister seeks the courtship of Lord Degas. I heard her speak to him." The image of Linduial in Degas' arms returned to him. He chose to remain silent on that point. It was enough to speak of the courtship. Linduial could speak to her brother of particulars. "I thought that you, her brother, should be aware."

He hoped that was enough.
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Old 06-30-2006, 08:35 AM   #390
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Farahil was still dressed, using the relative quiet of this late hour to write letters and sort out logistics of travel. A worn map lay abandoned on his desk as he looked at the humble stoneshaper with no small amount of consideration. Linduial, seeking out Degas? He had wondered...

"I thank you, Garstan. You are a good man to tell me this."

Down the hall, confronted by an angry dwarf, Saeryn burst into tears.
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:05 AM   #391
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The Dwarf had barged into a closed room and spoken foolishness. Saeryn was beside herself. Degas's head bounced back and forth from the Dwarf and his sister, looking dumbfounded in both directions. Eodwine got the attention of the two men with a quick shout. He rose and turned on Náin in a cold fury.

"Dwarf, you have not yet worn out your welcome, but you come dangerously close. Leave this room at once!"

It was now the Dwarf's turn to stare at Eodwine dumbfounded. Then without a word he hustled from the room and down the hall, passing a thoughtful looking Garstan on the way to his room.

Eodwine shut the door again, and waited for Saeryn's cries to quiet into hiccups. "Now, Degas, if you have anything more to say, say it now. And choose your words most carefully, for I am not in a mood to accept more foolishness. You are a guest. I expect courtesy of my guests in return for the courtesy I offer. Speak, man!"
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:11 AM   #392
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Garstan nodded slightly, relieved to have broken the news so easily and with no further questioning. After a few pleasantries, he left.

The children had been left outside the door to the great hall to wait for Cnebba. When Garstan returned, they were gone and the hall was deserted, the last embers of the fire burning low. He would never be able to keep track of them now that they had another child to help them find mischief, he decided, as he walked past closed rooms in search of Garmund and Lčođern.

He asked the Dwarf if he had seen the children. A half-growled, "No," was Náin's answer. Garstan was surprised. More dramas than the one Garstan was involved with, perhaps, were at work tonight. But he'd had enough for one day. Bidding good-night to the Dwarf as he passed, Garstan continued his search.

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Old 06-30-2006, 09:23 AM   #393
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Degas was abashed. He refused to let Saeryn's words hurt him, though his refusal was weak. He had provoked her and would not blame her for anything that she said because of it. Still, he should have known that her clear-sightedness would betray uncomfortable thoughts he had not yet allowed himself to even address.

"Please, Lord Eodwine, forgive me. I will not say forgive us, as Saeryn's behavior was directly influenced by mine." She sat up a little straighter and looked to say something, before wiping her eyes and deciding against it, wilting slightly once more. "I came to address the matter of courtship.

"Saeryn made mention of my stay in Gondor... my views of such things as asking leave of a woman's menfolk have been encouraged by Gondorian customs, yet these same customs have strong tradition in Rohan also."
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:07 PM   #394
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Náin did not return to his bedchamber. He was in far too much of a temper for that, and certainly wasn't going to be sent to his room by Eodwine. Instead, he wandered to the part of the Mead Hall property that had become most familiar to him: the courtyard where the statue of Falco now stood, almost finished.

The chill April air soon chilled Náin's temper, and his mind fully awake again now, he began to ponder his actions in a more rational manner.

Shaking his head and shivering somewhat, he picked up his hammer and chisel, and began to put some of the finishing details on the statue. It was a clear night, and the moon illuminated the courtyard, but Náin needed little light for sculpting. A month of work had left him intimately familiar with the statue, and he could work as much by feeling as by sight.

The work was soothing, and just strenuous enough to keep him warm, so that the bite of the spring air did not leave him shivering. And a Dwarf, in any event, is resistant to discomfort.

As he slowly tapped away the final features on Falco's left calf, he admitted to himself just how utterly foolish it had been to go barging in on Saeryn and Degas. First of all, it was the Eorl's private chambers, and if Eodwine wasn't setting things right, it was hardly the part of a guest such as himself to do so- and calling the Lady of the Hall childish was rude in the extreme.

A fine example of Dwarven chivalry was he! Eodwine wouldn't kick him out- he was a guest of the King, and a representative of Thorin, but he was hardly promoting good will between Dwarves and Rohirrim. And having finally settled into the Mead Hall's routine, Náin was hardly eager to put a difficulty between him and its inhabitants.

He chipped away at the stone, it's hard, cool surface a comfort. Mahal's work was a beauty, a delightful mixture of texture and strength, gleaming when revealed. His own art was as much as display of Mahal's bounty and Falco's inherent beauty as it was any sign of his own skill.

If only he had the talent to sculp himself in such a manner, to chip away his imperfections, and leave a person that was a display as flattering to his maker Mahal as this piece of stone. Not that he need lose himself completely, for just as the stone displayed its own character as a part of the statue's design, so too should he be able to display his own personality as a part of a beautiful whole.

His mind calmed and introspective, Náin stepped back finally to view his creation. It was finished. He had no idea what the hour was. His last thought, before putting away his tools, was that in the morning, he should definitely go and apologise. To Eodwine, to Saeryn, to Degas- to Garstan too. He had been quite rude to his fellow stone-shaper. Yes, he thought, as he finally drifted asleep, chipping away imperfections was sometimes a humbling experience.
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:47 PM   #395
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They had run into Garmund and Lčođern on their way to their chambers. Although the situation might be better described by saying that Garmund and Lčođern had run to them.

“You must first come and see where our home is dear”, Modtryth tried to reason to Cnebba as he was intensively asking for a permit to go play outside with Garmund and Lčođern still for a while. “How could you come home if you don’t know where it is?”

“You could come and get me, ... if you’d find me!” Cnebba had answered, looking at the siblings as conspirationally as an 8-year old is capable of. “Or we could sleep outside? We could play that we are great heroes on a dangerous journey!” he continued with his eyes flashing. Garmund and Lčođern seemed to appreciate Cnebba’s zeal.

“I have a solution”, Stigend had broken in. Then he turned towards Garmund and Lčođern, kneeling a little to be nearer the level of their faces and asked: “If your father and mother let you stay up this late, would you like to come with us to see our chambers? You could keep company with Cnebba and we could all see our new home. Okay? I think the Lady here would have other things to do than follow our discussions about who is to come home and when and with whom.” The last bit of his speech had clearly not been directed to the children only. They had been so well received that Stigend was somewhat worried not to cause any unnecessary troubles or inconveniences to their new masters because of them.

The children had looked at each other, smiled and nodded enthusiastically in chorus. Lady Saeryn had smiled at the kids and after nodding gently to Modtryth and Stigend, she turned to lead them to their quarters.

The room was clean and cosy. By their standards it was almost luxurious. Clean linens on beds, a table and chairs of well made handicraft, even a wardrobe and a rocking chair! And it was clean. That last one really impressed the three. Yes, it also impressed Cnebba.

“I hope to see you all downstairs in the morning to have breakfast and to discuss your duties”, Saeryn had addressed them from the doorstep. Noticing Cnebba’s little shiver when he heard the word ‘duties’, she added kindly, smiling at him: “Yes, you too Cnebba. You will have a duty to play with Garmund and Lčođern everyday so that all your parents can do their work undisturbed by you three.” She had smiled at Stigend and Modtryth and left with the wishes of good night.

After Stigend and Modtryth had carried all their belongings to their room and Stigend had been shown where to take their horse and the cart, they both felt happy and tired. The children clearly were happy too, but unfortunately they seemed not to be tired at all. When in the game of ‘orcs and knights’ Cnebba and Garmund fell together over a pile of newly pleated clothes, Stigend and Modtryth realised, that the room wasn’t so big at all, at least tonight.

“You still would like to play outside?” Modtryth asked with a bit sarcastic tone that the children wouldn’t understand, but which Stigend enjoyed so much, when the point was not directed to himself. The children almost froze hearing her words. “Outside?” they yelled in chorus and were about to set out immediately.

“Hey!” Stigend called them loud enough to stop them at the door. “Cnebba, not for a long time. You’ll have to sleep tonight and you have all the days to play together. You’ll come back in an hour.” During his last sentence the kids had already turned around and run off. “You forgot the ‘no foolery’-part”, Modtryth said to her husband, smiling heartily. Stigend just smiled back and whispered in a laid-back tone “Nobody’s perfect...”, and winked an eye to her.

The two had taken each others hands and just felt happy. “We have been blessed today”, Modtryth whispered softly. “At least being fortunate”, Stigend answered quietly and ran his fingers through her hair. “We might even get these washed one day” he noted jokingly after a while, still smoothing her. Modtryth tugged him so hard that he fell flat on his back to the bed. “Oh, you!” she had protested, but they were both laughing. The first thoroughly happy laughs they had had in years.

~*~

They arranged their belongings to their new quarters and discussed this and that, but soon they felt really tired indeed. It was late and Cnebba hadn’t yet come. In the end Stigend took out to search for him. As soon as he got to the corridor he heard the door banging and then the joyous shrieks of children coming towards him from the downstairs. He settled himself to the upper end of the stairs and waited for the children to come up.

“Daddy, daddy, look what we found!” Cnebba shouted eagerly. All three gathered around Stigend as Garmund showed him the find. Stigend kneeled to see it better. It was a caterpillar, that much Stigend knew of it, but he had never been very knowledgeable with these things.

“It’s called a caterpillar. It will change into a butterfly one day.” He said to his keen audience. The children looked at him in disbelief. “This yacky thing will be a beautiful butterfly one day?” Lčođern asked, hardly being able to hold back her disbelief.

“Yes it will my little ones” said the voice from behind them.

“Daddy!” Garmund and Lčođern shouted and ran to him, Garmund still carefully treasuring the newly found wonder in his hand. Stigend rose up and greeted the man.

“You must be Garstan, the stoneshaper. My name is Stigend, I’m a carpenter.” They shook hands in eorling fashion, taking hold with their right arms of the others right arm just someway below the wrist and looked each other in the eye.

Stigend felt good with this man. His eyes were honest and open, revealing a kind of person he had used to appreciate. His grip from his hand was firm and strong, yet he seemed not to be one of those who wanted to impress others with too much force – or one of those whose hand felt like a cold dead fish.

Last edited by piosenniel; 07-01-2006 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:43 PM   #396
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"I am glad to meet you, Stigend," Garstan said. "And thank you for taking care of my children tonight." Glancing down at the children, he added, "You have a good son," before bringing his eyes to meet Stigend's again.

"Thank you, but it was a pleasure... at least for a while." Stigend smiled openly and Garstan seemed to have gotten the intended idea and was smiling back to him knowingly. "But really, I think part of our warm welcome here is due to your lovely children. And I truly am happy about it," he continued "If we will get along as well as our children, we will have no problems here."

The men looked at each other for a short while. Garstan studied the carpenter and his son, taking in the details of their faces, their look, running through his impression of Cnebba's behavior earlier. Then he broke the silence with a relieved, welcoming tone. "I can see no obstacles to that. I look forward to working with you."

"As do I," Stigend answered, and with that they let go of each others hands.

Garstan moved toward the stairs. "Lčođern. Garmund. Come. It is late, and you should be abed."

The children hung back for a moment, still whispering and laughing to Cnebba. Then they somewhat reluctantly said their good-nights and walked after their father. Garmund and Lčođern's soft laughter and whispers echoed over the sound of their feet against the wooden floor as they followed Garstan back down the steps to their room.
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:10 AM   #397
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"Saeryn made mention of my stay in Gondor... my views of such things as asking leave of a woman's menfolk have been encouraged by Gondorian customs, yet these same customs have strong tradition in Rohan also."

"Yes, they do," Eodwine responded, relieved to get to the heart of the matter at last. "Yet I will not ask for your favor-"

"But-" Degas reacted, but Eodwine raised a hand even as Saeryn, eyes widened, her interest keen.

"-because I do not seek to court your sister."

All three were silent. Degas tilted his head. Saeryn frowned and her face worked, whether with relief or regret Eodwine could not tell. He waited for one of the two to speak.
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Old 07-01-2006, 09:45 PM   #398
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Of all of the responses Eodwine could have given, none could have surprised Degas more than this. Saeryn looked at Eodwine, an unreadable gleam in her eye. Eodwine looked back and forth between the twins and waited for a response.

Degas waited patiently for one to come to him. Saeryn, still embarrassed over her earlier outburst, quietly hoped for somebody to speak and hoped that it wouldn't be her. Finally, Degas replied in a most repetitive fashion:

"You... do not... wish to court my sister?"
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Old 07-02-2006, 02:11 PM   #399
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Eodwine smiled. "No, Degas. Not now. You see, I have had dreams. Dreams of my wife, whom for fourteen years I have thought dead, killed by marauding Dunlendings. But these dreams, Degas-" Eodwine's eyes glistened and his face became taut with sudden passion. "-she comes to me in my dreams not as I knew her, but as one who has aged as have I!" Eodwine stopped of a sudden and stared earnestly at Degas, then relaxed a little, shaking his head and chuckling ruefully.

"Lord?" Degas prompted.

Eodwine met his eyes. "It is not proof that she lives. Well I know it. Therefore I must go to Dunland. Not yet, but some time soon. I must go there anyway to see to the case of Manawyth, but now I have the greater urge to go. So go I shall." Eodwine turned to Saeryn, allowing the warmth he felt for her to show on his face. "Yes, Degas, your sister is-" he paused "-dear to me. In a way no woman has been in many a year. If not for my dreams, I would seek your favor. But for now I cannot." He faced Degas again. "Not until I know my wife is dead-" he paused again and tears appeared ready to spill, and his voice trembled "-or if my dear Kéđra lives."
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Old 07-02-2006, 04:20 PM   #400
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Degas sat pensively for a moment before responding, and though now words came to him with more ease, he still spoke slowly, cautiously.

"If that is how you feel, it is better indeed that you refrain from the asking. I would not have it that my sister is taken into courtship by a man still haunted by his past, though my words perhaps do not express it how I would have them do so." Degas breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. He wondered what Saeryn's thoughts were, but her face was unreadable. He hoped that she would share later, but held no delusions that her anger with him had waned. She had checked herself, silencing herself with no small amount of effort, and had schooled her emotions, but her outburst spoke of thoughts that had doubtlessly lingered for quite some time. He wondered how long she had been annoyed with him, perhaps not even realizing it, before she had lost her patience. He looked at her quickly, wondering where the red headed girl he had left behind had gone.

He'd seen her, certainly, since he'd left. He'd returned home many times, and had written every few days. But he had not been there to see his sister turn to the young woman that sat quietly before him. On a day long ago, she'd have exhausted herself wrestling him into a water trough, would have laughed as he, sodden, pulled himself up by the rim, and would have danced away with a grin, forgetting her anger and playing chase through the long grass after. On a day long ago, she'd have come to him immediately to share her secrets, would have expected the same from him.

Degas realized then that she had not sought him out to share her thoughts at all since he'd returned. She smiled and laughed and teased him with the same enthusiasm as she once had, but she was not the girl he knew any more. He thought of Linduial... he had not spoken to Saeryn of her. He had not even told Saeryn of his trip to Lin's home, excepting that he was back and had brought Farahil. They did not talk now... he couldn't remember when it had happened. Was she even interested in courtship? He had taken it for granted that she would be... but he had not asked. He knew that she was unhappy in their childhood home, but had he asked her why she had left? No... he had left it to her to come to him, and hadn't questioned it when she did not. He wondered at himself how he had not noticed before, and looked sadly at Saeryn before looking back to Eodwine.

"I wish that you should find whatever it is that you seek, Lord Eodwine. I wish that we, all three of us, should do so." With a few more words, he bade the lord of the hall goodnight and smiled questioningly at Saeryn before leaving. He would find a way to make it up to her... he did not know how, but he would get to know his twin again. He would win her back, and things could be as they once were. A few short moments later, Saeryn followed Degas's example and left Eodwine, making her way in the dark to the kitchen. She prepared herself a cup of tea and fell asleep where she sat, head resting on her hands on the table, the unsipped tea growing cold beside her.
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