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Old 05-06-2006, 01:59 PM   #1
piosenniel
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Sting Abduction in Edoras RPG

Queen Lothiriel of Rohan strove to be a conscientious ruler. She had loved the wild, verdant beauty of her adopted homeland from the moment Eomer had first brought her here, so many years gone, and had worked hard to gain the respect of these people. They had once been rough and strange to her, but now they were dearer to her than the tall, proud, sea-bent warriors of her youth.

But family was family.

Lothiriel had been thrilled to see young Linduial had arrived. She remembered her cousin only vaguely, as a dark-eyed, serious child, and the poised slender young woman who had presented herself at Court had come as something of a shock. The girl's wit, beauty, and natural charm, however, had won over the older and more mature woman in an instant. Linduial had also brought enough letters, luxurious gifts, and cheerful gossip of half-forgotten names and places to make Lothiriel feel like a girl again herself, as her cousin filled her in on the mundane cycle of births, deaths, and 'who-married-whom's for an hour, closeted in her chambers.

"When did this arrive?" she snapped at the guard standing before her, crinkling the paper he'd given her in nervous fingers.

"Only a few minutes agone, Lady. A child brought it to the door guard, said a man had paid him to deliver it, for your eyes only."

"And was the child detained? Have we a description?"

The man held out his arms sheepishly. "No, he'd run off before anyone realized it was a serious matter."

"I see." Lothiriel glanced down again at the paper in her hand, impotent anger rising quickly in her breast. Linduial was intelligent, sure, but young and inexperienced, still adjusting to life here. And this anonymous man... Lothiriel growled in anger. Eomer had spent the last fifteen years rebuilding his country, painstakingly repairing the ravages of war and treason. A calmer part of the Queen hoped, for the sake of this unnamed offender, that he was not of the Rohirrim, for if he were, she and her husband would be responsible for his punishment.

But there were other failures to deal with first.

~<*>~

Lord Eodwine's Eorling Mead Hall was in chaos. Lothiriel found Eodwine in the front courtyard surrounded by people, all of whom were shouting and talking and milling about. There was a young man whose face was a study in guilt and dejection, another was limping badly, the Hall itself was in ruins. A pretty young woman hung on Eodwine's arm, but he seemed oblivious to her in the face of whatever challenge he faced now.

In the midst of this confusion, Lothiriel finally discovered an outlet for her restless anger. As she strode into the courtyard with her guards struggling to keep up, the company fell silent, surprised at her appearance, waiting expectantly for her to speak. She gratified their curiousity quickly, as she was in no mood to waste time on formalities.

"Lord Eodwine of the Mark," she said clearly, her voice chill. "Where is my cousin?"

Eodwine visibly started. Whatever he had expected to hear, it was not that. "My queen--" he hesitated, knowing that this was going to go badly. "--I do not know. She left for the Fair this morning, and was separated from her party. We were gathered here to go search for her. But how did you know?"

Lothiriel's temper flared. "Don't bother searching for her," she snapped thrusting the letter she held at the confused man. "You won't find her easily."

Eodwine took the paper and read it through quickly, then, with a pale glance at his queen, over again more slowly, before handing it to the young woman at his side, dropping her arm and standing alone, suddenly bone-tired. The woman glanced at her Lord, the queen, and briefly at the distraught young man near her, and as the silence continued expectantly, read the letter aloud with a nervous cough.

"Queen Lothiriel of Rohan,

"Your lovely cousin Lady Linduial of Dol Amroth has fallen expectantly into my care. The expense of her transportation and care are such that I shall require a thousand pounds of gold or I am afraid her safe return shall prove outside both my means and my interest. You shall have three weeks' time before I contact you again, and I will expect payment."

"It's not signed..." the young woman faltered lamely, eyes wide with worry.

"It didn't have to be," returned the Queen, opening her palm with a glimmer of gold to show the slim signet ring Linduial wore on all occasions. She closed her hand tightly around it once more, and returned her attention to Eodwine. "You are sworn to her protection, Eorl."

The man nodded in acknowledgement. "I am."

"One of my men shall be commanding a party to find and rescue her. I shall expect you to join them."

"I will."

"It will also fall to you to inform her father of what has happened. I would suggest you not to delay. My uncle can be a harsh man when his family is threatened."

Eodwine nodded again, and Lothiriel reached out in sudden kindness, gripping his arm firmly as she spoke quietly, for his ears only. "I supported you before my Lord, Eodwine of the Mark, and I do not regret my decision. I hope you do not come to hate me for it. I still see in you what I saw before. Don't be discouraged!"

She straightened and cast a look over the disorganized rubble that had once been the famed White Horse Inn. Where the hearth had been, a new one was rising, and despite her fear for Linduial she smiled to see it. "Your hall shall be great when you have built it, Eodwine," she said. "And your house also.

"My commander shall speak to you of your plans." At a gesture, the leader of her guard stood forth, and she gave him quick instructions to take only volunteers from the eored guarding Meduseld before gathering the remainder of her guard around her and returning to her home.

~<*>~

Linduial awoke to darkness and a feeling of claustrophobia. Her head hurt, but when she tried to lift her hand to rub at the pain, she realized with a sense of panic that she was bound hand and foot. Grunting and straining, she managed to roll onto her back, grateful that her hands seemed to be bound in front of her. She tried to lift her arms in an attempt to sit up, only to realize that the ceiling of her prison seemed to be only a few inches above her. Suddenly a violent jounce sent her body slamming hard against both the ceiling and floor of the tiny cubbyhole she occupied, and through a sudden wave of pain in her already aching head, she realized she must be in a wagon. A false bottom? she wondered.

Another, rougher bounce cracked her head against the ceiling and the world closed into nothing once again.

~<*>~

When she awoke the second time, again to darkness and a rough ride. Lin's emotions quickly ran the gamut from panic to terror to hot fury. She growled deep in her throat and cast around with her feet, searching for the side wall of the wagon. When she found it, she pounded hard on it, twisting her body for the best angle, glad she'd chosen to wear hard-soled boots to the fair. When the kicking got no response, she quickly lost the remaining shreds of her temper. She screamed and shouted, chanting filthy curses in time with her kicking, wracking her brains for the worst imprecations she'd ever managed to overhear her brothers use, uttering them with a perverse sense of rightness.

She was growing hoarse when she was finally awarded by a cessation of the constant noise of the wheels. She refused to fall silent, however, and shouted the words to a particularly snotty children's rhyme in a mocking singsong, all the while listening carefully to the muffled voices outside her prison. There was a curse and a loud thump, and then a sound of footsteps on the wood above her. A click, and bright sunlight filled her prison, leaving her blinking and squinting as rough hands hauled her out of the wagon, bumping her roughly against the wagon walls.

Blinded and bound, a furious Lin refused to be made helpless. She screamed and yelled and struggled, beating her captor with her bound fists and feet. Nothing seemed to do any good. Finally, with hot tears burning her eyes, she repeated a few of the epithets she'd heard her brothers use and bit firmly down on a hand held too close.

He shouted in protest. "Why, you little--" he threw her roughly on the ground and kicked her solidly in the side. Lin moaned in pain, trying to catch her breath and roll away at the same time, waiting in terror for another kick to come.

"Stop!" The message was more welcome than the voice. Lin looked up to see the man she'd approached at the Fair, who'd called all these men to capture her, looking down dispassionately at her heaving, huddled form from the back of a chestnut horse. Her attacker lowered his foot and backed off as his master dismounted from his horse and approached the scared and wary girl.

"Watch out, Lord," he said, taking the reins of the horse. "The little witch bites." He threw Lin a hate-filled glance, which she tried stubbornly to return through a haze of pain, her body throbbing with her heartbeat like one unending bruise.

"That's no reason to damage the goods," the leader chided absently, focused on Lin. He reached out suddenly and sliced through the ropes binding her legs. Lin was operating on her last few shreds of anger, but she reacted immediately, kicking out for his head. It didn't even faze him: he caught her handily and scooped her up gently, placing her on his horse and using what remained of the rope that had bound her legs to lash her hands firmly to the pommel. Lin did not resist, exhaustion and pain finally setting in. Her kidnapper swung up behind her, her slight, slumped frame no great burden to the horse. He leaned down to speak in her ear.

"A brave stand you've made, little lass, making all that noise. A shepherd boy or two might even have heard you. But I would suggest you not try anything further. You're on my lands now, and you won't have a chance of escape."

Lin heard the ring of truth in his mocking voice. "What do you want of me?" she asked dully, exhaustion allowing fear and despair to take an unholy hold on her tired mind.


-- JennyHallu
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Old 05-09-2006, 04:39 AM   #2
Taralphiel
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Sorn blew thin rings of smoke from his long pipe, and eased himself further into his plush chair. In the corner of his spacious dining room, few disturbed him. Smiling in his hidden space, he praised himself over the flawless completion of his mission thus far. The girl had been taken with little noise and effort, and was now in his ‘safe-keeping’ in a makeshift cell in his Hall’s cellar, with a guard to avoid mischief. He had carefully drafted his letter of ransom, and no doubt the Lady Lothiriel would be reading it now. He chuckled at the thought of the ice cracking on her polished demeanour.

'Mother would not appreciate my scheming' he said to himself quietly, eyeing his hired men shuffling about outside the elaborately constructed dining room. 'Nor would dearest Father. But neither has lived to see the times of our house become so…drastic. What little land and weight in title I have needs replenishing. And this fair young maiden has that money all there for the spending.'

Sorn thought back to his performance in leading the girl off to a quiet enough place to bundle her up. He remembered the air of confidence and nobility about her. No doubt she carried herself, as she should, a true pure blood daughter of Gondorian Kings. He knew such composure was chiselled over many years of training, and though with pursed lips over how he’d watched his sister, Hild, taking such courses. Had she been alive, she would have stunned such a little girl with her grace, warmth and kindness. Hild was a true woman of Rohan, no mistake, and Sorn snarled at the thought of the injustice she suffered while she lived. No woman would have suited the King better, yet he chose Lothiriel. A bargain of peace, a gesture of goodwill, surely. Had Sorn known otherwise, he wouldn’t have believed it.

He stretched, letting out an almost feline yawn of boredom. Rising from his plush chair, he wondered what the young girl would try first to escape. He grinned again, at the thought of her pondering her surroundings in the small cell he’d built for her. She’d look for any weaknesses in the bars, and then, any weakness in her Jailor that would give her a hope of freedom. She knew the noble women of Gondor were not entirely helpless, and that she’d have some schooling in defence and strategy. She was a difficult person to keep, but Sorn was yet a few paces ahead of her.

At that moment, one of his hired men walked in, gruffly muttering a complaint. "She’s a noisy one, Lord. She’s not kept quiet since we dropped her down there. Kicking an’ yelping. A right caterwauling!".

Sorn raised an eyebrow, then said slowly "You would too, if you were locked in a cell in a strange place. Do not worry, I shall have a word with her.". A word sounded a lot less pleasant than an average conversation. The gruff man nodded, and walked out as Sorn waved him off.

He walked to a small table, and tapped out his pipe in a polished bone dish, leaving it on a small velvet cloth to be stored later. He gazed slowly into the fire, pondering the journey to his estate. The girl had asked, "What do you want of me?" before drifting into exhaustion. Sorn let her drift in sleep, his horse taking a small path towards the glittering lights of a Hall over a small hill. Before he slowed to be received by his ostler, he whispered in the young woman’s ear.

"I wish to make a little coin, true. You could not put blame for being so tempted, as you are a fine prize. But to be certain, I wish to see that ‘Lady of Rohan’ fail in her endeavours to make a Queen. I will make this as trying as possible before the end. Or, perhaps your end, whichever it may be."


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


Hama of the Riddermark's post

Haleth stood outside the mead hall, quietly. His armour shone golden about his large frame and he turned many passing heads as they walked past the hall. He had been briefed by the Queen on this task. Although the Queen had placed special importance on it, it seemed to Haleth like any old kidnap scenario. Some foolish man seemed to think that he could get money by kidnapping someone with powerful relatives, not realising that the people with powerful relatives are the ones that get an entire company of eored hunting you. Unfortunately, this could not be solved by the army. Haleth ascended to slightly higher ground, before shouting loudly.

“People of Rohan! I am Haleth Reidrbrand, Commander of the Queen’s guard! I command silence!” All the talk subsided as Haleth stood tall, proud and striking, his cloak fluttering behind him in the breeze. “Today is a dark day! A relative of the Queen has been kidnapped by a nobleman who is asking for a ransom! This is beyond the mandate of the army to deal with so I ask you, loyal citizens of Rohan. If any here will take up arms to find and help this lady, you will be handsomely rewarded! Any man capable of wielding a sword or a bow, any man who is not too old or too young to ride to battle and victory! Is there any man here who will defend his country!? Is there any man here so cowardly that he will not!? Come to me, and join this noble cause!”

He stopped talking looking around to see what effect his words had had on the people. There was total silence for a few seconds, then cheering started to break out. He smiled and descended. Catching sight of Eodwine in the masses he walked over to him and clapped a hand on his shoulder, smiling widely.

“It has been too long, Eodwine. Now we will fight together once again, and by the grace of the Valar we will win. It’s good to see you again, old friend.” He laughed and drew Eodwine into an embrace, which Eodwine returned. “Blood and swords, Haleth!” he laughed, “I knew you’d be here. Commander of the Queen’s guard now? That’s quite something. It has been too long. Remember us? Two young….well, less old, men under King Eomer’s command, ready to take on the whole Mordor army all by ourselves!” Haleth smiled widely. “It wasn’t that long ago, Eodwine, but you’re right…I feel a lot older, and perhaps a little wiser.” Eodwine chuckled and slapped Haleth on the arm friendlily, “You? Wiser? Time does indeed work miracles, old friend…”

Last edited by piosenniel; 05-22-2006 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 05-09-2006, 02:19 PM   #3
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Deren was the last person to follow the Queen from the yard and start back towards Meduseld. His eyes and attention rested on Haleth who still stood besides the Eorl. He knew at once that he wanted to join in the search with Haleth, but orders, said or unsaid, were orders, and he remained mute and motionless as the Queen swept by him without a glance or word, and probably not a second thought. He turned and followed her and the rest of the guard out.

The people in the streets made way for them with wide, ogling eyes. Deren was used to it, he had been part of the Queen's escort a number of times. At first he had marveled almost as much as the people themselves, though for a different reason, but now, he simply walked on without thought on the matter. It still struck him occasionally, but this was not one of those occasions. His mind was otherwise engaged.

They reached the stone stairs leading up to the Golden Hall and there Deren stopped. He halted at the lower step and stood at attention until the Queen had disappeared into the building. The men who were part of the escort still standing outside immediately fell at ease and two turned and began to talk to each other. Deren looked around him, his hard jaw clamped shut tightly as he thought.

What he wanted to do was go right back to the mead hall and tell Haleth, his commander and leader, that he wished to follow him wherever he went in this mission. What he had to do in order to do that he wasn’t quite sure. On a normal bases, he would go to Haleth for permission to leave Meduseld, but now Haleth was where he wanted to be, and someone else was in charge of him. He could report to the head of the guard. He would at least know who to ask leave of if he couldn’t give it himself. That seemed the best thing to do.

Without further debate with himself, he turned and bounded up the stairs two steps at a time. There was not much searching to be done before he found the man he looked for. Deren presented his case before him and received permission to go and without further delay he went.

This time as he passed through the streets, people did not make quite so much way for him as before. He was alone and mostly unnoticed, though a few did send him questioning glances as he rushed on through the streets. In five minutes of hasty walking he came once again the mead hall, he halted in the yard and glanced about. There were one or two people still out there, speaking in hushed voices, but the Eorl and Haleth were no longer there. He figured they had gone inside. There would be no reason to go anywhere else at the time, he figured. It was pointless to search for her among the merry makers.

Without speaking to anyone therefore, he went towards the dismantled building and entered. Inside, Haleth and the Eorl stood by a table. The young woman and young man that had been there earlier stood there, too. He approached silently from behind his two seniors and then stopped, several paces back, until he was noticed and addressed, or until the conversation stopped and he could make his presence known without interfering.
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Old 05-09-2006, 09:20 PM   #4
JennyHallu
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When Sorn had leaned into her ear and told her, so calmly, of his plans for her, Linduial had gone white with terror. For the rest of the journey to Sorn's rough Hall, she had been completely silent, frozen, sitting like a statue, her body stiff as she tried to pull as far as she could from her kidnapper.

Then, roughly thrown into a dark, dirt-walled cellar roon, she had once again translated her fear into anger. What right had these men to treat her this way? She was the daughter of Lord Farlen of Dol Amroth, brother of Imrahil himself. Her cousin was the queen of this land, and all that she had seen in her short time here had spoken to the love the people of Rohan had for their King's foreign wife. What RIGHT had this man, to harm her for the sake of some petty grudge, nursed for fifteen years? She had done nothing...

Her body hurt. Lin was almost glad she had no way to clearly see her skin...she knew it would be horribly discolored, marked with cuts and scrapes and bruises. She considered with grim irony the effort she had put into the perfection of her skin, gritted her teeth through unfamiliar pain. She had to do something to distract herself. She was already filthy--

The guard stood only a few feet beyond the close-set cast-iron bars delineating her prison. She sat down on the dirt floor with a soft gasp of pain, clawing at the soil with fingernails already chipped from hammering on the wall of the wagon.

"Hey," she growled. No answer. "Hey! You!" She flung her ball of dirt through the cell walls, grinning viciously when she heard a quiet curse, confirming that it had hit.

"Do you feel brave? Manly? Guarding a pampered little girl? Making sure a little girl doesn't try to run away?" He turned deliberately away from her.

She determined stubbornly to keep it up as long as she had strength to talk. But, hoarse, hours later, when she heard footsteps on the stair, her earlier fear returned and she tried desperately to cling to her stubbornness in the face of it. When Sorn appeared, so infuriatingly calm and--amused?, she mustered her courage, spitting at his feet.

"What happened to the man I slashed?" she demanded tauntingly. "I hope he hurt. Are you proud of your little little scheme? Using a girl barely out of childhood to twist people into doing your will? Truly only a very brave man would dare to attack me." She crawled, not willing to rise to her feet, moving limply the few feet to kneel at the bars, inside the circle of the lamp Sorn had brought with him, forcing him--and more importantly his guard--to see her battered body, now that the bruises had begun to color. She caught her breath at the sight of a spreading yellow sore across her slim arm, then deliberately turned away, catching and holding the eye of the guard. Her instincts told her there was little hope in treating with Sorn. He was a dangerous man and barely sane. But if the guards could be moved to pity...
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Old 05-09-2006, 10:46 PM   #5
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Osfrid walked from the hall where Sorn sat in mock-contemplation, acting so deep and thoughtful about the world. It was another of those little things Sorn did that could drive a person up a wall. Osfrid felt almost like laughing at him as he smoked his fancy pipe and stroked his imaginary beard. It was almost like a joke. Osfrid chuckled quietly as he continued down the hallway, and he turned into a little doorway to the right. He entered a tiny bedroom, not as fancily furnished as the other rooms. The walls were bare of any tapestries and the chest of drawers was less ornate than the ones Sorn liked to use. On the bed sat a little woman, dressed and black and concentrating on straightening the rings on her white, bony fingers. She looked up from her jewelry when he entered and she gave an exaggerated little sigh.

"Oh, Osfrid, where were you? I've been waiting here fifteen minutes at least and I was beginning to wonder where you had gone."

Osfrid walked over to her and kissed her forehead. She giggled. "I was just talking to Sorn about the lady, Muriel," he said, "She's going to bring us a lot of money, you know, and then I can buy you all sorts of nice things. And ah, that reminds me…" Osfrid stuffed a hand into his pocket and withdrew a tiny, shiny ring.

"Oh, Osfrid, it's beautiful!" she snatched it out of his hands and left the bed to examine her present in the light of the window. "Ooh, is that a ruby?" she said. Osfrid nodded, though his girlfriend's back was still turned.

"Oh, Osfrid, I love you!" she said. She turned from the window and rushed to Osfrid to give him a great, big hug. Osfrid patted her on the back and she gently sat back down on the bed. "Wait a minute…" she said, frowning. "You didn't take this from that rich girl, did you?"

"No, honey! I would never!" After all, the rich girl wouldn't wear rings of cut glass and painted lead. "I earned it myself, when we stopped at the horse fair. I traded half of my money for it."

"Oh, Osfrid, I love you!" Muriel bounced back off of the bed and gave Osfrid another hug. He gently removed her arms, and clasped her hands at his chest.

"Muriel, honey, why don't you go unpack our luggage? We might be staying here a few weeks."

"Okay!" said Muriel and she bounced to where Osfrid's and her bags lay on the floor at the foot of the bed. Osfrid waved good-bye and left Muriel to the unpacking. Ain't she cute as a button? he thought.

Osfrid headed through the halls, whistling a favorite tune. He had never before been in Sorn's home, and naturally he wanted to get to know the place. From what he could tell, there was one main hallway, crossing straight through the main hall. Off the hallway were various other rooms, including the elaborate dining room where Sorn sat smoking his pipe. The house wasn't as big as Osfrid's childhood home, but it was very well furnished. All of the furniture was of top-notch quality. The wooden dressers and bedposts were carved out of expensive woods into curving, bulging, decorative shapes. Spotless white curtains covered each window, and tiny ashtrays of ivory or bone sat on convenient console tables dotted throughout the house. Sorn, of course, saved the best furniture for his own chambers. That's Sorn, for ya, he thought again, spending every fortune as soon as he can get his hands on it.

Last edited by Alcarillo; 05-13-2006 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:03 AM   #6
Celuien
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So it was true. The innocent, childlike Lady Linduial had fallen prey to treachery. Garstan stood to the side of the group around Eodwine and Queen Lothiriel, fists clenching and unclenching in a swirl of emotion, burrowing tunnels into the earth of the courtyard with his eyes. Though used to dealing with the Queen's cousin of late, the presence of the Queen herself coupled with the flurry of thoughts racing through his head sent Garstan into a deep silence.

He struggled to sort through the chaos in his mind. The first thought was anger. Anger at the villains who could stoop to abducting a girl who was barely more than a child. Anger at their treachery to the Queen, to whom they owed allegiance and loyalty. Anger at the image of the frightened girl imprisoned by her captors. For surely she must be terrified; only a few hours earlier, she had laughed under the sunlight, holding Lčođern’s hand in hers as they started off to the fair.

The trip to the fair. Regret now came to him as he thought of his last conversation with Linduial. He had distrusted her guardianship of his daughter. Unjustly, as it turned out. For Lčođern was safely back at the Mead Hall, thankfully indoors taking her evening meal with her brother, far away from the announcement of Linduial's kidnapping, while Linduial was taken. Worry for Linduial should have come to him too, and he ought to have joined their party, even if only for his own satisfaction about Lčođern's safety. Perhaps this would never have happened had another set of watchful eyes been at the Fair.

Grief and tenderness. Lčođern would have to be told that her friend would not be returning to the Mead Hall for sometime. She would be disappointed, unhappy, and unable to understand. Garstan didn't know how to tell his daughter. The complete truth was out of the question; Lčođern would be terrified. But if he masked the truth with a tale of a visit to friends or other such pleasantries, she could only see the disappearance as rejection. That would be unfair, both to Lčođern and Linduial.

Linduial. Garstan suddenly realized that some of the same feelings for his daughter were directed at her as well. Odd, and yet not so. Though his attachments were generally slow to form, the quickest way to earn his trust and friendship was through kindness to his children. Linduial had certainly shown that to Lčođern. And too, she was cousin to the Queen. Garstan had a deep love of country and loyalty to its rulers. Those so closely allied to the Queen would certainly gain his loyalty as well. Though with Linduial, the feeling went deeper through her personal attention to those dear to him.

What could he do? The impulse to run to Linduial's aid was strong. She couldn't be far away. Only a few hours ride at the most. The letter's language, and the fact that a letter had been written, indicated that her captors were most likely noble. Disgust at their black treachery redoubled at that realization. How many places could there be within a day's journey likely to hold her? Garstan was sorely tempted to seek out Eodwine at once and beg to be permitted to join to rescue party.

And yet, could he go? He had responsibilities. Lčođern and Garmund could not be left alone and untended at the Hall. Could he leave them in another's charge? Worse, should the rescue turn dangerous, as he knew it most likely would, and should he come to serious harm or death in its course, his children would be left orphans. He couldn't shirk his responsibility to them. He owed the children his protection and care before anything else. Nor was Garstan an expert in battle. While he knew basic principles of defense and weaponry, he was a stoneshaper, and as such, had come to little experience in such matters. Skill would certainly be needed in confrontation with the kidnappers.

His mind torn in two, Garstan felt in desperate need of counseling. Who could he ask to advise him? Lord Eodwine seemed a man of intelligence and wisdom. Garstan determined to seek him out in an unoccupied moment to open the tumult of his thought, and hopefully, to arrive at a decision on his role in the events before them.
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Old 05-10-2006, 03:08 PM   #7
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Of all the tasks Scyld had performed in his many years of service to Sorn, that of guarding the Lady Linduial was rapidly becoming one of the most trying – and, in a rather twisted sense, the most interesting. She certainly was no pampered noble to sit down and cry, begging her captors for mercy. So far Scyld had experienced something much more painful – and interesting. That word again. Yes, interesting certainly seemed the right word to describe this situation. And it positively shone with opportunity. Scyld had no idea what he might get out of all of this, but he had already put his mind to the question and was coming up with some interesting scenarios – some of them rather unpleasant. This was a crime, after all, and no small one. But Scyld figured that so long as he was not killed, he would be able to work his way out of the worst charges. If nothing else, “Sorn made me do it,” might work, and if worse really came to worst, he could always aid the captive to prove his good intentions all along – but only if worse came to worst. For now, the whole situation was the most interesting thing that had happened around here for several years.

Through his thoughts, he dimly heard a “Hey.” He did not respond, but listened in interest for what would come next. “Hey! You!” When he still did not answer, she flung a ball of damp dirt at him – flung it hard. He swore softly – this was just one more small physical injury to add to his list. At that point, she started up a tirade that lasted quite some time until her voice ran hoarse. Scyld pretended not to listen, but he eagerly sucked up any pieces of pertinent information that she offered him unwittingly – anything about her family, her relationship with other people that might attempt to rescue her, her normal life. The pieces were small and scattered, but by the time Sorn came to inspect her, he had sketched out a vague picture of her in his head, matching it up with what he already knew.

He felt rather amused at her spirited defiance to Sorn, and it confirmed to him that this one probably would not be giving up for a long time. From her brief but surprised reaction to seeing a sore on her arm, however, Scyld gathered that perhaps she was not so tough as she pretended – or was not used to being tough. He could see exactly what she was doing, of course; trying to appeal to them – or perhaps to him – with her pitiful physical state. Even Scyld had to admit that she was not a particularly pretty sight, but if this was the worst she encountered – she would live. Now, if Sorn should happen to go into a rage at her… then her chances might slim, and then Scyld might start to feel some pity for her. But like this, her obvious plea for pity instead amused him, and he allowed some of this to play across his features for her to see. She was going to have to work harder than that.

“What do you think, sir?” he asked Sorn deferentially. “Do you have any new orders concerning her?”
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Old 05-11-2006, 07:21 AM   #8
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Before Lord Sorn could answer Scyld, their exchange was entirely eclipsed by a massive, booming report against one of the solid oaken doors leading into the grounds. Both of them apparently could guess what this entailed; Scyld assumed a weary look, and Sorn smiled sardonically.

"Well, my lady," he said, bowing elaborately to Linduial, who had also heard the sound and was looking distinctly uneasy, "it seems that you object to the valiant guardsman I allotted to your services. Perhaps you'll prefer the one who's coming to relieve him..."

A far louder crash sounded, this time as the door had been hit by a falling tree in the midst of a tempest, and the whole stucture shook on its hinges.

"Open the door to Master Gurth," Sorn ordered curtly. "Then come after me and I'll tell you all you need to know." He turned his back on the composition and strode away up into the main part of the house, his smile not once leaving his face till he disappeared from sight. Scyld swore again, rather more loudly this time, after the master was out of earshot, and then cautiously approachd and unbolted the door.

"Raarorghrangkragaa!" A vast stave of knarled oak flew through the air, and probably would have beheaded Scyld had he not been by now quite practiced in dealing with this monster, and bent double.

"Gurth," he wheedled, "nice Gurth. Sorn..."

"Sorn?" the sterterous and stupid voice responded.

"Yes, Sorn wants you to come in, Gurth, yes, like that, and do something, yes, exactly, no, in here, and then you'll get a good horn of mead..."

With desperately careful, quasi-maternal care, Scyld eased the newcomer into the darkened cellar room. The man looked like a vision of Helm Hammerhand from the old tales. He was tall, terrifyingly so, fierce, handsome and proud of glance. But his natural heroic gravitas was hampered by his fool's tunic, of green and yellow cloth, symbolising unripe wit; and by the thread of drool on his chin.

"Drink? Sorn?"

"Yes, yes. Now-you see that woman...there...in the cell..." Scyld spoke slowly, pointing, with extensive gestures. Gurth appeared to lose interest, at last crying out "Urrgh. Grendel!"

A strident bark answered this call, and an enormous dog, larger than any wolf could hope to be, bred from a she-wolf and a Rohirric mastiff, as it happened, loped in. Scyld stopped talking, paced slowly but firmly back up the stairs, and left, his parting words an emphatic command-"Stay. Guard her. Then you get mead..."

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Old 05-11-2006, 08:05 PM   #9
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Sorn slowly made his way down the rickety stairs leading into the two hundred year-old cellars. Its musty scent, low ceilings, and dank crawl spaces were a refuge of childhood. Now it was the stage to return his family to the wealth deserving of their name. And this far, his entire plan was working perfectly. Save the noise of the captive, of course.

His eyes slowly adjusted to the difference in light in the cellar, and Sorn studied the face of the guard. He seemed to be trying his best at indifference towards the girl, who was calling and shaking at the bars. Sorn walked to the front of the cell, and glared into her holding space.

She immediately met his eye in defiance, and he grinned widely. It was not long before she questioned him. "What happened to the man I slashed?" she began. Sorn crouched slowly by her cell, peering in at her with a strange, off-kilter expression. This seemed to unnerve her a little, but she still continued her questioning.

"I hope he hurt. Are you proud of your little little scheme? Using a girl barely out of childhood to twist people into doing your will? Truly only a very brave man would dare to attack me."

"Oh, I can assure you, Wćveth is very sore indeed. He will not cross you again. At least, not while you have the use of your limbs and a blade. Shall I arrange for him to be your guard? He would appreciate that, I am certain. Brave man that he is..."

Before Sorn could continue his taunting, he heard Scyld behind him. "What do you think, sir? Do you have any new orders concerning her?"

Sorn opened his mouth to suggest a change of guard for a moment, but his ideas came into fruition before he could air them. A loud boom came from the top of the stairs, and a crashing, and a gurgling bellow of a voice made Sorn chuckle.

"Well, my lady," Sorn eased himself up off his knees, and looked down on her coldly. "It seems that you object to the valiant guardsman I allotted to your services. Perhaps you'll prefer the one who's coming to relieve him..."

"Open the door to Master Gurth," Sorn said, turning to Scyld. "Then come after me and I'll tell you all you need to know."

Sorn, in cat-like speed, hopped up the stairs. Scyld followed, and lead the hulking Gurth down the stairs. Sorn stood by the doorway and laughed as Scyld directed the behemoth to guard the Lady Linduial, with the promise of mead as a reward. Sorn looked about the cellar, and noticed the plentiful supply of the liquid most coved by the giant. If he were able to figure out the contents of the barrels, what fun would be had! Sorn continued to laugh at his own thoughts, even when Scyld mounted the stairs and stood by him.

"Lord, is something the matter?" Scyld asked, mildly irritated that Sorn may have gained amusement at his expense. “Nothing, good Scyld…” Sorn smiled, and motioned him to follow along as he walked to his dining Hall. Finally reaching their destination, Sorn again took up his pipe and his fine pouch of pipe-weed.

"The Lady is strong." he began, lighting his pipe and taking a few, dramatic puffs. "She will try to escape. She was trying, even as we stood there, to appeal to your emotions." Scyld nodded, having obviously seen through her talk.

"She will not be deterred, until something greater than her own life is threatened." Sorn narrowed his glance at Scyld. "Bring me Osfrid. He has a lady friend, and I believe the two of them would be of great use to us now."
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Old 05-11-2006, 08:09 PM   #10
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"My commander shall speak to you of your plans," said the Queen. At a gesture, the leader of her guard, Haleth, stood forth, and she gave him quick instructions and then returned to Meduseld with the remainder of her guard.

Eodwine knew Haleth from his times as King's Messenger, but before that also when they had been shoulder to shoulder often enough in battle.

"Well met, Haleth, though I wish the circumstances were better."

"As do I," the commander replied as they clasped hands.

"Let's you and I go into my rooms in a moment, Haleth. First I must see to the matter of getting word to Linduial's father in Dol-Amroth." Eodwine turned. "Degas!"

The young man came toward Eodwine, looking none too happy. Eodwine could not blame him. His eye flicked to Saeryn, whose expression was filled with concern and fear for her brother. Eodwine could not blame her either. Why couldn't the boy have kept both eyes on Linduial? It was not like he had not wished to, by all accounts. No. It would not do to blame Degas. There was someone who deserved all the blame, and it was not this young man. Nevertheless, Linduial had gone missing from under the eye of Degas, and that amounted to something.

"Degas." Eodwine pitched his voice to gravity.

"Lord," Degas murmured, his head lowered; but he had the strength of will to raise his eyes and meet Eodwine's. That was good.

"Take your horse and ride to Dol-Amroth. Inform Linduial's father of what has passed here. Tell him that I will do everything in my power to secure her freedom. Go tonight."

Degas nodded and walked to the stables. Saeryn remained standing where she was, but did not look happy; was it over Eodwine's curtness with her brother?

"Lord," said a voice near his shoulder. Eodwine turned. It was Garstan.

"Yes, Garstan?"
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Old 05-12-2006, 02:16 PM   #11
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"Yes, Garstan?" Eodwine answered the stoneshaper's tentative request for recognition.

"Lord. The search party for Linduial. When it goes, I should like to go too. But there is something that troubles me." Garstan paused, struggling to find the words to voice his fears.

"Yes?" Eodwine's voice was encouraging.

Garstan's thoughts poured out in a confused torrent. "I want to go. I have to go. I owe it to Lady Linduial. I can't stomach the thought of her being imprisoned by villainous traitors." A deep scowl crossed his face as disgust and revulsion rose in him at the mention of Linduial's abductors. "I owe it through duty to Rohan, as this matter closely concerns the Queen. And I owe you service, Lord, for your aid to me. As the task of her recovery falls to you, I must help you in any way that I can. Yet still, despite all of this, I am held back. For how, Lord, can I leave my children behind? Who can tend to them when all the folk of the Hall are away on this quest?" Though other thoughts for his children still troubled him, Garstan did not go on. He hesitated to voice fear that he would not return from the journey, even if only for his children's sakes. Garstan did not want to be thought a coward; he had not gone to war with the Riders of the Mark when all the world hung upon the brink so few years ago. Though it was through no fault of his own, he still felt shame for remaining behind.

"Not all go," came Saeryn's terse voice. "I will stay behind, and would care for the children, as well as I can, until your return."

Saeryn's presence at the Hall had not occured to him. Of course she would be remaining at the Hall. And though Garstan hesitated to leave his children, he was sure that Saeryn would be able to watch them. Garmund, too, could help check Lčođern's more capricious whims. Saeryn would not be left with two wild charges.

"I thank you, Lady. If it is not too great a burden, I will be thankful for your aid. If I go. For I still do not know if I will. I need your advice and permission, Lord. Will you have me?"
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Old 05-12-2006, 02:51 PM   #12
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"Yes, Garstan, my man," Eodwine smiled gravely, "I will have you with me, and I would be proud to have you at my side." He clapped the slightly shorter man on the shoulder. "Thornden and Garwine will remain behind, and will guard this hall. I would that I had more men at arms, but none other have put themselves forward and the time has been short. Be that as it may, I think your children will be far safer here than you will be on the chase.

"And mark you, though you may have little skill in weapons, there will be other needs along the way that your skills of mind and hand will fit to most rightly. And Garstan, I swear on my honor and lordship from the King, that if only one of us must return to the mead hall, that one shall be you and not me. So I have spoken. Do not say me nay. I will keep you safe with my life."

Garstan's eyes widened and his face reddened with emotion. He bowed wordlessly before Eodwine.

As Eodwine led Haleth to his rooms, Falco Boffin fell in step long enough to say, "That was a mighty fine speech back there to the stoneshaper. You'll make a proper lord yet."

"My thanks for your endorsement," Eodwine smirked.

"I'll keep your larder and spirits under watchful eye while you're away," said the hobbit with a wink.

"No doubt you will! Leave some for others!"

Eodwine showed Haleth into his rooms and they sat down on each side of the small table in his room.

"Would you like some wine and bread or other fare while we talk, Haleth?"

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Old 05-13-2006, 03:36 PM   #13
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As he had often been feeling of late, Scyld found himself feeling both satisfied and annoyed with Sorn’s opinion and treatment of him. Satisfied, because he knew that meant that he was successfully hiding the best of his talents, but annoyed that he should treat him only as a messenger, one to do the menial work. Scyld knew that he could do better than this; the time was certainly coming for him to get out of this place and leave Sorn behind – but first, only if the right opportunity came along, of course, he would let Sorn know just how wrong he had been to underestimate him. But not now; the time was far from ripe.

“Of course, sir,” said Scyld, and took his leave. He spotted Osfrid wandering through the halls and did not immediately approach him; he wanted to see what Osfrid was up to. Sorn could wait a few extra minutes. After a short while it seemed quite clear that Osfrid was only exploring and not up to anything else, what with his carefree whistling and nonchalant walk. Scyld felt slightly disappointed but tucked the information away anyway: Osfrid likes to know his surroundings. He stepped out from behind the corner, allowing the floor boards to creak as he walked, as if he had just found Osfrid.

“Sorn would like to talk to you in his study,” he said. “He has a particular job for you, and your lady friend as well, I think.”

Osfrid looked rather surprised at the latter part but nevertheless responded, “Very well. Shall I fetch her, or go alone?”

“Alone, I think. Sorn said nothing of bringing her.”

“Lead the way, then.” And Scyld did so, although he disliked leading anyone anywhere; he preferred not to have anyone to his back. Not that he necessarily had anything to fear from Osfrid, but…

“So what do you think of Sorn’s house?” asked Scyld.
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Old 05-13-2006, 09:08 PM   #14
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"It's a fine house indeed. Not as large as my own in my youth, but just as opulent," Osfrid answered. "My Muriel has never been in such a grand house. She's enchanted by it, and says she wants to live in one just like it someday." He stroked his long moustache thoughtfully and grinned.

"That Muriel, she's as precious as any riches Sorn's got stashed away."

Scyld seemed to be listening, though his back was to Osfrid and he only turned his head to catch a glance of him. Scyld was a quiet sort. Osfrid didn't know much about him. He knew Scyld had been with Sorn for a while, and that was about all he knew.

"How long have you been here, with Sorn?" asked Osfrid.

Scyld glanced back at Osfrid again. "About thirteen years or so."

Osfrid's eyes doubled in size. "Thirteen years! Wow…" It was a surprise that Scyld hadn't gone insane yet. Though they usually got along fine, Sorn could drive Osfrid crazy at times. It was just the way Sorn was.

A few silent moments passed, and then the two came to the ajar door of Sorn's study. Osfrid bid good-bye to Scyld and, with one deep breath, entered the study to discover what sort of plan Sorn had in mind this time.
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Old 05-14-2006, 07:48 PM   #15
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A creak could be heard as Osfrid entered the room carefully. Sorn smiled and waved Osfrid over. "Come, come! I have a small plan I think you shall like to hear!". Sorn tapped out his pipe once more and, upon offering Osfrid a seat opposite him, took his own in front of the hearth.

"That young lady has a troublesome look in her eye." Sorn began, and Osfrid did not argue. "She will try to escape any way she can. While Scyld guards her very well, it will be quite wearisome having to keep up with her antics. Do you not agree?" Sorn pretended to wish the man's opinion, but Osfrid simply gave a mute nod. Sorn leaned forward and smiled, finally glad to reveal his brilliant scheme.

"I want you to take yourself to the Mead Hall of Eodwine. I shall give you a day or two to prepare, if you wish. There, you and your Lady will try to blend as you can, and find out more about the Lady Linduial..." At this, Osfrid looked at him quizically.

"What might we gain from this? Is that what you are thinking?". Sorn didn't wait for him to answer, but leapt up and chuckled "Apart from her pride and vanity, this little Lady of Dol Amroth must have a weakness! I wish to find a person she holds dear. Do not fret, good man, we shall not steal another person! Simply find out someone she would be sore to see hurt..." Sorn winked, certain that he understood his meaning.

"Do you agree to this, Osfrid? I can always send someone else if you object, though I am sure you'd be the best at playing the act, to put it simply..."
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Old 05-16-2006, 06:27 PM   #16
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After parting with Osfrid, Scyld did not immediately return to his task of guarding Linduial. Gurth would be fine for a little while longer. Instead, Scyld made his way into the room adjacent to Sorn’s study, curious about Sorn’s plan for Osfrid. There was a particular spot in this room, about two-thirds of the way down the wall between the rooms… there. By some fluke in the architecture, Scyld could hear everything in the other room almost perfectly if he listened closely. He had discovered this years ago and found it extremely useful.

"…I want you to take yourself to the Mead Hall of Eodwine. I shall give you a day or two to prepare, if you wish. There, you and your Lady will try to blend as you can, and find out more about the Lady Linduial. What might we gain from this? Is that what you are thinking?" At this point, Scyld heard Sorn get to his feet, and tensed, ready to break from the room. He had no business in here, and now was not the time to be caught. “Apart from her pride and vanity, this little Lady of Dol Amroth must have a weakness! I wish to find a person she holds dear. Do not fret, good man, we shall not steal another person! Simply find out someone she would be sore to see hurt..." Scyld nodded to himself. Of course; this made perfect sense and was not wholly surprising. Having found all he wanted to know, he slipped out of the room.

Before going to relieve Gurth, he found a half-full bottle of mead – not nearly enough to make Gurth drunk, or even to make him tipsy. He knew that there was plenty of the stuff down in the cellar and could have saved himself some effort by just getting it from there, but he felt no inclination to let Gurth know where all the beer came from. Scyld had seen Gurth drunk a few times before and did not care to repeat the experience. The idiot was exasperating enough when you could communicate with him; when he was drunk he became downright dangerous. Scyld also found a light this time to take down into the cellar; he did not care to spend all his time guarding Linduial in the dark. He left the bottle at the top of the stairs as incentive to get Gurth out of the cellar and descended once more into darkness.

Both Linduial and Gurth looked up at his descent, but it was Gurth who spoke first. “Mead?”

“Yes, Gurth, it’s upstairs,” said Scyld, as always feeling as if he were talking to a particularly dull child. His lip curled in disgust as he pointed. “Up – stairs.” After a bit more prompting, Gurth figured it out and off he went in search of his mead. His monstrous dog, if dog it could be called, thankfully followed him. While not precisely afraid of dogs, Scyld certainly did not like them, least of all this one of Gurth’s.

He noticed Linduial watching this exchange with a faint smirk on her face. Scyld met her look with a blank stare and commented, “Enjoyed your time with the good master Gurth, did you? Perhaps if you are very good I shall let him get drunk next time. A right little party you two could have down here.”
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:56 PM   #17
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The plans Haleth and Eodwine made left much to be desired. Search parties number at least three each would be dispatched throughout the Emnet. Eodwine had insisted that they should comb the Middle Emnet first; Haleth had wanted to send search parties farther afield on the grounds that there was no knowing where a criminal might take a hostage. Whereas Eodwine allowed this, he held that it was a poor use of their limited manpower to send parties so far afield while there was so much area to cover closer to home. Haleth allowed that as well, but cut through Eodwine's argument with a pointed statement.

"Save men all you like, Eorl, but if she's not in the Emnet, searching the whole of it has done you no good."

"Aye, that is so. But I doubt me she is far away. Who that lives afar would have known that Linduial was in Edoras?"

"That, Eodwine, is a good question that would help us narrow our search afield."

"Then I will leave the answer to be found to you. I being Eorl of the Middle Emnet will keep my searching in it."

Haleth rose. "I will think it out. I will pinpoint the folk or places far afield where those who live might know the goings on in Edoras. Then I will go to the queen and king and ask for men."

"So be it." Eodwine rose and opened the door, and allowed Haleth out.

Standing ill at ease in the hallway was a guard from Meduseld. Eodwine recognized his face, but had to think a moment before the name came back. Deren.

"I greet you, Deren." The young man looked expectant and hesitant both at once. "What may I do for you?"
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Old 05-17-2006, 06:36 AM   #18
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“Enjoyed your time with the good master Gurth, did you? Perhaps if you are very good I shall let him get drunk next time. A right little party you two could have down here.”
Lin's worried gray eyes followed the pair of beasts nervously as Gurth and his dog ascended the stairs, but the look she threw in Scyld's direction was scornful.

"Your master is more a fool than I thought, to use such a creature. No tool is Gurth, but a liability to any task that needs doing." An acknowledging spark in her jailer's eyes told her he saw the truth of her assessment. Lin was feeling curiously--detached. Yelling and screaming and fighting did not work; her pathetic appeals to right feeling could not work: not with that brute, nor with this amoral, logical man standing before her cell, appraising her coolly. If she met someone else...then perhaps.

"You surely know that this cannot go well for your master, in the end?" Lin did not look at the man, but instead used the scant light to examine the wounds on her body, wondering if a request for a healer would be granted by her captors. "It can only end three ways: I am ransomed, I am rescued, or I am killed: and from none of those will you escape the consequences. You are a mere lackey in Sorn's eyes; do you think he will have loyalty to you?"

Scyld smirked at her. "You'll be ransomed, or, more likely, killed. And they'll never know it was us."

Lin fought off the sudden chill that threatened her at his words. You cannot be afraid! If you are afraid you cannot act! "Are you sure? I made a lot of noise today. Are you sure no shepherd or travellor heard, and remembered? And the men Sorn surrounds himself with are not the type that cannot be bought..." And you not least, she didn't say.

~<*>~

Torim Ploughman felt only relief when he topped the last rise and saw the lights of Edoras twinkling in the dark of a perfect spring night. It had not been an eventful trip, but a long one afoot, and it was good to see his goal ahead.

Only one really untoward thing had happened: crossing over-field to make shorter work of his sojourn in Lord Sorn's land, he'd looked down into the road to see a curious site. Sorn and a group of his roughest men were gathered around a loaded hay-waggon, black looks on nearly every face. The expressions were fairly usual for that crowd, but the hay-waggon confused him. Sorn had never shown any interest in the farmers of his land before: in point of fact the man was notoriously neglectful. Why would he be escorting a hay-waggon? And wasn't he supposedly in Edoras for the Fair? Had Torim known the man was in his own lands, he'd have chosen a different route.

Suddenly his mind registered muffled thumps and soprano shouts coming from the waggon and he froze, running over all the blacker rumors he had heard of Sorn. Better he stay out of this one. His own small farm was too close to Sorn's lands for comfort, should it ever come to the Lord's ears he'd spoken of what he'd seen here. He backed slowly down the hill, confident at least that he hadn't been seen by any of the men in the road, and continued on his way.

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Old 05-18-2006, 01:10 PM   #19
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Deren waited a long time. He paced the distance of the hall, he thought, at least a hundred times. He began to count his steps as he went, and then he counted the tiles beneath his feet. When the door opened at last, Deren turned and walked forward, stopping several feet off to once side. Eodwine, exiting the room, saw him at once and stopped to address him. Deren was surprised that he remembered his name.

“I greet you, Deren.” There was a short pause, and Deren wondered if he was supposed to say something. Haleth stood behind Eodwine and waited, too. "What may I do for you?" Eodwine asked then.

“Well, nothing exactly, sir,” Deren said at once. “I was coming to tell the commander that I want to be part of the search party, if you will have me.” His dark eyes flicked towards Haleth briefly and then settled on Eodwine again. “I understand that the Queen’s cousin has been abducted and the Queen is anxious to have her back again. I am willing to do anything to help in this endeavor and follow Haleth, or you, whoever is to take the leadership, until our goal is achieved. Will you have me?”
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:52 PM   #20
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"You are with us then!" Haleth said, and glanced at Eodwine, who gave no indication of gainsaying him. "Eorl Eodwine outranks me, so it is his choice whom you are with, Deren."

"I will have Deren with me," Eodwine said, "if that does not displease you, Haleth."

"Meduseld has men enough," Haleth replied, and left them.

Eodwine looked Deren up and down quickly. He seemed eager and well equipped. "Tell me, Deren, what is your skill?"
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Old 05-19-2006, 09:19 PM   #21
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Deren watched Haleth for a moment as he left and then turned his eyes back to Eodwine. The man glanced him over quickly, before addressing him. “Tell me, Deren, what is your skill?” he asked.

“With weapons, sir, I’m best with a sword. I have a fair shot with a bow and arrow, but I’m sorry to say I’m no good with a spear. I’ve been part of the guard for twelve years now, sir, and have been under Haleth’s command for the last four. I can hold my tongue when asked (though not so well when not asked) and follow orders without question. I’ll go where you lead, even if it be to death. I’ll swear upon my sword that I’ll be true to you so long as you are my commander.”

As he finished, he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, ready to draw it, should the Eorl bid him to. His eyes shone with the loyalty that he felt and he knew that he had not just made a rash promise to man who would abuse his allegiance.
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Old 05-20-2006, 02:10 PM   #22
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The idea of donning a disguise and worming his way into the lives at Lord Eodwine's hall appealed greatly to Osfrid. To Osfrid, there was nothing better than to create a new identity and play the part, whether it was to scam poor saps out of their coins or, as in this case, to pry into people's private matters. It just like a play to Osfrid, and he was the star of the show.

"Do you agree to this, Osfrid?" asked Sorn, "I can always send someone else if you object, though I am sure you'd be the best at playing the act, to put it simply..."

"Oh, I'll certainly do this, Sorn," Osfrid told him, standing from his seat, "Snooping and spying are my specialties."

"Excellent! How soon are you able to leave?"

"First thing tomorrow, if Muriel can repack everything quickly enough! And I assume we may take the cart with us…?" Sorn nodded yes, and Osfrid clapped his hands together in satisfaction. "Well, then! If you'll excuse me, I have to tell my Muriel about our little plot."

He wheeled out of Sorn's opulent study, with a wide smile across his face. Sorn's plan had not been as extravagantly maniacal as he had expected. In fact, Osfrid was pleased both to escape Sorn for a while and to get to know Lady Linduial's friends and family. And Muriel would like to see the city again. Osfrid and Muriel, along with Sorn and his gang, had only stopped in Edoras for a day. Once Lady Linduial had been kidnapped, they headed out of town as quickly as possible. Muriel had been disappointed not to shop as much as she had hoped to at the horse fair. Another visit to Edoras would make it up to her.

Osfrid came to his and Muriel's small room at the hall's end. He entered and found Muriel laying clothes out on the bed. Her back was turned, but she heard the door creak and his footsteps cross the threshold.

"Osfrid, is that you again?" she said, not looking up from her work. She finished folding a black skirt into nice, square package and then turned around, hands on her waist. "Oh, Osfrid, it is you. I was just folding our clothes. Tell Sorn we'll need another chest to hold all of it." She picked a tunic from a pile of clothes on the floor and folded it in the air.

"No need to worry about unpacking, Muriel dear!" he announced, walking briskly towards her, "We're headed back to Edoras! Just us two!"

Muriel's face immediately brightened. She skipped over to him, throwing the tunic onto the bed behind her. "Oh, Osfrid! Like on a holiday!" She threw her arms around Osfrid's broad shoulders and sighed. "Maybe the horse fair will still be there."

"I'm afraid it might be over, honey," Osfrid said, "But we still can buy plenty of nice things at the market." He wrapped an arm around her waist and guided her over to the bed. They sat down, not minding the clothes arranged across it. Osfrid's voice took on a less cheerful tone. "The real reason we're going, dear, is because Sorn wants us to learn about the rich lady's family and friends."

"You mean like…spying?"

"Honey, it'll be fun! We can invent new names for ourselves, and pretend we're different people!"

Muriel still looked skeptical, "But- but can we still shop in the market?"

"Of course, my dearie," said Osfrid. He leaned across the bed to kiss her on the forehead. "Now, let's start repacking all these clothes! We need to look like travelers. We can leave tomorrow, if you'd like."
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Old 05-21-2006, 06:46 PM   #23
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Garstan was left alone in the courtyard, half bowing, his face flushed.

If only one of us must return to the mead hall, that one shall be you and not me. I will keep you safe with my life. So had spoken Lord Eodwine. The words echoed through his head, an incessant rattle to trouble his thoughts. He wandered into the Mead Hall, only half aware of what he was doing, and shut the door of his room behind him.

So I have spoken. Do not say me nay. He could not refuse the oath. Though in a way, it seemed too much to ask. For was Garstan not the servant, Eodwine the lord of the Mead Hall? It should be the place of the servant to defend his lord. Or so thought Garstan. Yet, how could he have refused, even had Eodwine not commanded it? It was a generous deed, and to check the kindness so freely offered to him would have been a grave affront. Garstan bent his head downward, deep in thought.

Then he looked up. There was only one way to repay Eodwine's kindness, though he knew he could not speak of it to the Eorl. Secretly, he vowed to see to Eodwine's safety. If the Eorl could vow to protect Garstan, so Garstan could vow to protect his Eorl. With the resolution made, his mind could rest at ease. Eodwine need not know. He smiled. Surely if they watched for each other's welfare, no harm would come to either of them. There was no need for either to fall in this task.

A battered canvas bag came out from a corner of the room, and Garstan busied himself with packing it with clothing and provisions for the journey. His eye fell on a small kit of tools. He thought for a moment. They wouldn't add much weight to his pack and might be useful. He added them to the bag's contents. Then Garstan opened a small wooden chest. From inside, he withdrew a long dagger, sheathed in a plain leather scabbard. Removed from the scabbard, the blade shone brightly in the room. His eyes glinted as he resheathed the dagger and slipped it into his bag. Let the kidnappers try what they wished, but no harm would come to Linduial, Eodwine, or himself. Not while his arm had strength left to strike a blow.

The door opened behind him. "Father? What are you doing? Are we leaving?" The voice was his son's.

"No. We aren't leaving. I am."

"Why?"

Garstan hesitated. How much should he reveal to the child? He decided to tell Garmund everything. He would, after all, have to take a father's place to his sister while the mission lasted. It was only fair that he understood why.

"The Lady Linduial is held for ransom by traitors. I go with Lord Eodwine and the company from Meduseld to recover her."

The boy's eyes grew wide.

"Do not fear! I will return. We all shall return. Justice shall be done. But say nothing to your sister. That burden should fall to me. Now I charge you, Garmund - take care of her! For you must play the part of father to her while I am away. Saeryn remains to look to the folk of the Hall. You must aid her too, for she will be guardian to the both of you until my return."

Garmund nodded solemnly. "I will do as you say." Then, with a sudden swelling of emotion, he cried out, "But hurry back! We will miss you while you are gone."

Garstan's hands rested on his son's shoulders. "It won't be long. I promise. Now, where is your sister?"

"Away with Kara."

"Then let us go to them."

Garstan allowed his son to lead him to Lčođern. He dreaded to tell her the news, first of Linduial's disappearance, then of his imminent departure. But the task could not be avoided, and he thought of what to say, his heart sinking within him.

He told her, fumbling for words, struggling to speak past the little girl's tears and puzzled stare. With a final assurance to her - to both of the children - that everything would be solved, that everyone would come home safely, he took Lčođern on his hip with one hand and held Garmund's hand in his other, and brought them back to their room for their last night together before the journey.
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Old 05-22-2006, 02:58 PM   #24
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“And the men Sorn surrounds himself with are not the type that cannot be bought...”

“And by that you mean me, I suppose?” asked Scyld sardonically. “You might as well say it. Diplomacy, I suppose they call it where you come from, Miss Linduial? Or perhaps it is Lady Linduial? Perhaps you think to win me to your side diplomatically. But I am not a diplomat, and what is more, Lady Linduial, I know where I stand. You do not even completely know where you stand, and diplomacy is best used with knowledge, don’t you think?” He smiled in his smirking way. He had certainly learned a great deal listening in on Sorn’s conversations over the years; let Linduial wonder. “But as I was saying, you need not be diplomatic with me. Perhaps you think I would beat you for that? Then you are a worse judge of character than I thought. Sorn probably would not notice a few more bruises… despite how you like showing them off… but I am not a violent man. I only do what is necessary.”

Scyld could see that he had caught Linduial’s attention with his speech, many more words than he normally strung together at one time. But he had made it his personal duty to find out more about her – and not all of that information would go to Sorn; in fact, most of it would not – and if she found out a little bit more about him in the mean time, that was all right, and it may even help. But there was more to it. Scyld was genuinely enjoying this conversation, and not just sadistically. He had had scarce enough intelligent conversation during his time here with Sorn – after all, who all was there to talk to? Gurth, the great volatile imbecile? Sorn, his unstable employer behind whose back Scyld was almost constantly plotting? The other lesser employees that came and went, few of which were even a close match for his intelligence? But Linduial certainly did not need to know this, and Scyld could not resist another attempt to goad a reaction out of her.

“You know, perhaps in different circumstances we might have been friends, you and I, or I might have ended up in your employ.” He caught her look of thinly veiled disgust before she again assumed a more bland look. “You do not think very highly of me, I see. But that is well, since I do not particularly highly of you pampered nobles, either.”
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Old 05-24-2006, 05:16 AM   #25
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Sorn smiled as Osfrid agreed, and left his Hall. Seating himself back in his chair, he grinned. Another plan unfurling well and another way to keep the feisty Lady in line. With one eye open and the other lazily closed, he surveyed his room. Fine wood carved chairs, detail tapestries, and even a stone bust of his mother adorned the room. Truly, there were few homes so fine in this land. And from the glimpses Sorn saw of the new Mead Hall in construction, there would be few to grow to match it either.

Sorn completely closed his eyes and yawned, stretching his legs out slowly. Sorn did not afford himself more than a few small snatches of sleep a night. He had come to trust his servants little. His spirit was most at ease around the hulking Gurth. This thought made him chuckle. 'Truly, he would not scheme against his Master' he thought to himself '...though, he would me more likely to crush me with his fist purely on a drunken whim. At least his intentions are laid bare for all to see...'

A creak of the floorboards, and Sorn's eyes snapped open. His dark, clouded gaze draped over the room again, searching for shadows or lurking servants. Nothing but the cold night's winds easing against the wide, solid building. Sorn let himself slip into remembrance of his childhood within these walls. If it were possible, the Hall looked even finer then. He was dressed in a new coloured tunic almost each day. Seamstresses, teachers, gardeners, cellar-servants, and all manner of workers used to bustle about the warm halls. Watched over by his warm and caring mother. He would race about the corridors and rooms, leaving his tutors flustered. He would listen to his father's official 'business', and watch his mothers’ kind instructions to the gaggle of cooks in their kitchen. These things all seemed so harmless to him then.

His mind then skipped forward in strange sequences. He remembered his mother's pale hand being tucked under a thin white sheet, his father's weeping and his newborn sister's cries. He remembered his sister, much older, weeping in front of a man delivering news of their father's fate at Pelennor. He then remembered his sister’s face growing haggard, steely, and empty of feeling. She would wander the corridors, looking over the memories of her father, and feel her soul yearn to know her mother…

Sorn shook his head violently, waking himself from the threads of sleep weaving about him, along with the threads of the bitter past that seemed to find home in his dreams. He stood, and muttered to himself "Something to chase away the boredom..."

Sorn left his Hall, and followed the grumbling and rumbling through his house. Eventually it lead him to Gurth, the hulking servant Sorn had found one night in a drunken stupor. Sorn smiled as the great man turned his way.

"Sorn!" He gurgled loudly.

"Aye, it is I, good Gurth! A grand evening to you, and to you Grendel!" The dog let an indifferent bark Sorn’s way at the mentioning of his name. Sorn sat on a large full keg at the back door of his house. He watched Gurth try to consume the contents of a small barrel of mead, spilling a good half of its contents over his chin and filthy tunic. Sorn cast a glance about where Gurth sat, and noticed three other containers of mead emptied, and another to go! Sorn snarled inwardly. His men had been overindulging with the great Gurth yet again. He would deal with them later. Now was not the time to keep Gurth from his drink.

Picking up the last barrel, he passed it to the drunk slumped man, and he gratefully took it with another wide grin, and a chorus of "Sorn! Mead!". Sorn could not help but smile at the simple joy this man took in his drink. And the bitter realisation that he, of all his hired help, was the most loyal. Nevertheless, he would not be kept from his plans. His men would help him, or suffer the consequences.

Pushing that thought from his mind, he tilted his head at Gurth, and with a playful smile posed him a question.

"Tell me Gurth, did you enjoy guarding the Lady Linduial?"
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Old 05-24-2006, 06:30 AM   #26
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Lin's face twisted briefly with her scorn when Scyld suggested she might have hired him, and when she replied she didn't even try to keep the emotion out of her voice. "That Sorn would hire you is but another sign of his foolishness. Never hire a man you cannot trust." She paused, thinking. But if he betrays his master, it might run to your good. Then again, it might not. All the same, Lin, do not overly antagonize him. You might need him yet.

Stiffly, Lin walked to a solid wall of her cell and slid down it to sit on the dirt floor beside the bars. She put her weight for a moment on her left hand, lowering herself down, and cried out in pain. She'd thought it only bruised. Apparently it was broken. She cradled it to her chest, wondering anew if she could ask for a healer, or if she could trust any "healer" Sorn might keep in his hall. Hopefully Scyld hadn't noticed her injury, and she could think through what to do about it.

"A pampered noble? That is how you see me, and it justifies this?" She gestured with her right arm to indicate the bars, and the cellar, and her jailor, leaning indolently against a cask of wine.

He grinned at her, a mirthless smile on a cruel face. "Prove me wrong."

Lin shrugged, in the process finding a new bruise on her shoulder. She repeated the gesture carefully. Just a bruise. Good. "I cannot. I am a 'pampered noble'. I cannot help my birth, though, and brothers are just as like to pamper a farmer's daughter as a lord's." She smiled to herself. "It is a poor tactic, to charge a girl of seventeen summers and youngest child of being pampered. It is the natural order of things, to a degree."

Scyld sneered. "The natural order? Have you ever done real labor? Have you ever killed a man in fair battle? Have you ever stood at risk of losing your life and livelihood to a fool and been helpless to defend yourself?"

Lin supposed Scyld referred to the experience of a poor tenant farmer on an unscrupulous man's land, but could not help but laugh a little morbidly. "As for the latter, yes!" Then she turned swiftly serious and her eyes flashed. "And to your first question I answer with my own. Have you ever stood responsible for the lives in your domain through famine and war? Found them food and shelter? Gone without so that others, lesser than you, perhaps, but no less valued, might live?"

Scyld was silent, and Lin ranted on, using her hands to emphasize her words. "As for killing a man, no! I am innocent and a maid, and I hope I never have to. But I have never harmed a living soul, and I have certainly not stood guard over a child. Be proud of your servitude if you wish, and I shall be proud of my nobility, as long as it is true."

She leaned back against the wall, fighting an urge to cry. Her wrist was shooting jabs of sharp pain up her arm, and she finally gave in to it. When she next spoke her voice was soft and almost petulant with pain. She cursed herself mentally for showing her weakness to this man, but had no choice.

"I think my wrist is broken."

~<*>~

Marenil walked stiffly towards Eodwine's rooms, where the plans for Lin's rescue were in full swing. He knocked softly on the door, heard a muffled sound that might have been a "come in" and entered quietly, bowing at those gathered within. "My lords Eodwine and Haleth," he began, tears sparkling in the corners of his eyes. "I find I must trust you implicitly to find Linduial. I seem to have grown old while I wasn't paying attention. But I wish to do summat to help."

Eodwine smiled at the older man. "Will you accompany young Degas back to Dol Amroth, then? He'd probably appreciate having you along for 'protection'."

Marenil sighed heavily and took the chair Haleth proffered respectfully for him. "No, lad, I won't. I've been meaning to speak with you about it, but the opportunity hasn't come up. I've gotten two letters since arriving here. The first was to tell me my wife, Eru love her, has passed away, and the second released me from my service to Lord Farlen. And with Lin here, and the lads all grown up, and me own lad working as steward, there's no place for me there. No work for me. I've been meaning to ask you if you might have a spot by the hearth for an old plowhorse like me. I'm not as spry as I used to be, but you've got plenty of spry lads and lasses about. I'm experienced."

Eodwine looked to be trying to say something, but Marenil held up an age-spotted hand and continued on, eyes fixed on the desktop. "And if ye accepted me into your household, I was going to offer to watch your business for ye while ye were agone. That way young Thornden could run along to help Lin, if he wants, or finish the rounds of all those farms you own now, and you wouldn't have to worry about a young colt under the halter of this cart you're trying to drive here."

Now he stopped and turned his dark grey eyes up to Eodwine, waiting for an answer.

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Old 05-24-2006, 04:24 PM   #27
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“I think my wrist is broken.”

Scyld raised his eyebrows at the abrupt change in topic. He knew that she probably wanted a healer of some sort, but that certainly was not within his power to grant, even if he really wanted to. Which he didn’t, not necessarily. He considered a simple snide, You’ll live, but thought better of it. He didn’t want her to hate him, after all. A little bit of provocation might be enjoyable, but it was not his goal to make her as miserable as possible.

“I highly doubt that Sorn would care much if I told him,” he said instead, and knew it was true. Sorn might laugh, or maybe even punish him for bringing such a trifling detail to his attention.

“Nor do you, I suppose,” she half-whimpered, half-snarled.

Scyld laughed, but not at her predicament as she might suppose. “See now! Already you are learning to dispense with your diplomacy.” He could feel as much as see her glare. “As for caring… well, I guess I have not decided yet. And if I did, there really would not be very much I could do. Certainly I could not – or would not – send for a healer, not without Sorn’s permission, which I would be entirely reluctant to ask. And I doubt you would care for me as a healer. I have only slightly more experience with injuries than with ‘standing responsible over lives,’ as I believe you put it.” Still she did not respond, and Scyld realized that it was very real pain that prevented her from speaking, not just another act. Pain was a difficult thing to deal with, if you are not accustomed to it… Scyld started at this thought. Or perhaps it was not so much a thought as his twelve-year-old self talking to him. He had been a different person then.

“Listen,” he said. “I can’t get you a healer. Your skirt is certainly long enough; why don’t you rip of some strips of that and try to wrap up your wrist? I can’t help you; Sorn would notice of the knot was too neat, and right now…” He shrugged. “My life over yours.” He considered the vast supply of wine and beer kept in the cellar. “But maybe if I’m feeling charitable, or if you beg enough, I’ll slip you some wine – or something stronger, perhaps? – with your next meal. It might take the edge off the pain, anyway.” And to even his own surprise, the jeering edge had disappeared from his voice.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:28 AM   #28
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Lin looked up, the change in tone enough to pull her attention away from her hurts. "I--I would be grateful." Her voice was soft, and she met Scyld's eyes for the first time without defiance. "I will try to wrap it...but I do not know how. Perhaps..."

She fell silent, trying to think of a way to get her a healer that would appeal to Sorn's selfishness. "If I am ransomed, and it has healed wrong, it could be a reason for my family to continue to search for Sorn, and my father's resources are great. Could that perhaps sway him?"

Scyld seemed to be thinking about something, and while his gaze was intense, his answer was non-commital. "Mayhap."

"And it wouldn't take any great skill." Lin winced, forcing herself to examine the break with her other hand, manipulating the ends of the bones--only one of the bones in her arm had broken, and it seemed to be a clean snap--Eru! that hurts! "Just a bone-setter. Someone with experience of battle-aid..." She realized suddenly that she was begging, and cut her words short, schooling her face back into its usual calm, with only a tightness about her mouth to reveal that she was, truly, in a great deal of pain.

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

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“So you do beg. Very well; wine or some such you will have with your meal,” he allowed, “but I would not count on any kind of bone setter.” He said no more, and he thought he heard a soft sigh from Linduial.

After a while, Scyld heard the soft ripping of fabric and saw that she was indeed trying to wrap her arm, though it clearly caused her a great deal of hurt. She might be doing only what she would call necessary, Scyld mused, but there were some who would not have done nearly what she had. She called herself a child, and in many ways she was, naďveté not least, but she was resourceful, too. Altogether an interesting person.

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Old 05-25-2006, 08:13 PM   #29
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It was morning. Eodwine led Deren and the others toward Meduseld, where those who would search for Linduial were gathering. He thought about his exchange the previous night with Marenil.

"It shall be so, Marenil," Eodwine had answered, and thusly Marenil had become his second steward for the time being. The old man had thanked him with a bow, and betraying how deeply moved he was over Lin's absence, he wiped at his eye with his thin hand, and had left the room.

Eodwine had offered for Thornden to come with, as Marenil had offered to stand in his stead while they hunted for Linduial, and Thornden had been eager.

So it was that they marched to Meduseld, where they were met by Haleth's men. He also thought about Saeryn and the words they had exchanged even later last night. He still felt her hands in his, and remembered his words to her, that they might help each other find those they had lost. In the bright light of morning, such imaginations seemed like dreams. There was a job to do.

They approached Meduseld. Eodwine was surprised at the number of men that had accepted the call to find Lothiriel's cousin.

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Old 05-26-2006, 03:12 PM   #30
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Gurth and Grendel usually slept together in a vast hut, like a kennel made for some great and terrible Warg. Here they laid themselves down upon pallets of straw, and Gurth laid his cudgel as a bar across the door so that nothing would disturb their sleep.

This was their usual custom. But on the night after Linduial's arrival, Gurth had, as was occasionally his wont, exhausted himself by his drinking and unwitting jests before Sorn. His massive form had collapsed in stupor before the lord of the dilapidated farmstead, who had watched with some fondness as well as diversion the subsequent events. Grendel's hackles had risen as he prepared himself for a trial of strength, and he had firmly, yet gently, dragged his enormous master from Sorn's hall 'till he reached the stone corridor. Then, with a whine, the wolf-mastiff had settled himself on Gurth's prone form and also settled to sleep.

Gurth thus woke up with his physical sensations-that was, his main paths of commerce with the puzzling life dominated by those smaller than him-in some disarray. His neck ached from sleeping in his involuntarily odd position. His head did not so much ache, as coruscate, not that Gurth bothered trying to articulate the pain. He picked himself up with some initial difficulty, but soon regained surprising balance and grace, avoiding smashing his head against the disagreeably low ceiling.

"Grendel," he uttered hazily, and heard the answering bark. Some half-entrenched form of communication prompted him to nod slightly in reply. Then he looked around for his oaken weapon, and when he had found it, man and dog hurried, without another thought, outside. Outside no restriction was upon them, and they gambolled, ran, barked, grunted in total innocence. True, others stayed out of their way and wisely so; but when Gurth killed on his meanderings over the grounds, as he often did, it was never out of malice.

And so they wandered, and Gurth let out strange sounds that sounded almost akin to song, and were echoed in the uncontrolled barking of his companion.
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Old 05-26-2006, 06:31 PM   #31
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Thornden was shocked and appalled when he heard of Linduial’s kidnapping. He had learned of it the evening before when, after saying goodnight to Lys, he had gone in search of Eodwine to give him his day’s report. The Eorl had sat at a table, a single candle lighting the room about him, his head resting in one hand looking more dejected than Thornden thought any man had a reason to. But when Eodwine told him the news in his quiet voice, even more soft than ever for the weariness in it, Thornden understood entirely.

He had been quick to offer his help in the search for the lady, and Eodwine had smiled. “Yes, I knew you would want to come,” he said. “Merenil did, too.”

“Merenil!” Thornden said, puzzled by the statement. “What do you mean? What did he know?”

“He has offered to stay behind and act as steward in your place as well as mine, so that you would not have to remain behind.”

Thornden didn’t know quite what to make of that, but he hadn’t argued. He did want to go, and yet, it was his responsibility, really, to stay behind. He voiced the opinion, but Eodwine put his fears to rest and told him that he wanted him by his side during the search for Linduial.

So the next morning he had risen before dawn, as did Garstan and Eodwine. Thornden was pleased that Garstan would be with them. He was a level headed man who’s wits and experience would be welcome. They went to the Golden Hall and there met up with the rest of the search party. Thornden sat his horse to Eodwine’s right and a little behind and there waited for things to begin to take place.

“Well, Thornden, I’m glad to see you here!”

Thornden turned and looked and saw approaching him Deren, one of the guards with whom he had an acquaintance. He nodded his head and smiled a bit. “Hello, sir,” he said. “Are you coming with us?”

“I am, indeed! But I had thought,” he said, stopping by Thornden’s mount and placing his hand on the horse’s shoulder, “that you were lord Eodwine’s steward.” He sent him up a rather piercing and questioning glance. “Why aren’t you staying back at the Hall and acting like one?”

Thornden’s smile became a little larger. “The Lady Linduial’s man offered to take my place. I don’t know exactly why, but he has and so I’m free to join in the chase. Who’s leading?”

“Haleth and Lord Eodwine,” Deren replied, turning about and looking towards the two leaders. They were speaking together a few paces away. “Together with united efforts, they should be able to track down the kidnapers, bring back the lady, and punish the villains quite thoroughly.”

Thornden looked at him, an eye brow raising “Anxious to see justice done, are you?” he asked. Deren’s naturally sharp features became sharper still as his jaw clenched momentarily and his little eyes flashed fire.

“When I think about the girl in the clutches of any man, I can not help but be anxious to see justice done. Petty deeds happen all the time and the poor brutes are hanged or punish otherwise, but no act of theft or breaking into a house and burglarizing it is half so bad as this. Can you imagine, Thornden, what she might be going through?”

“I don’t want to,” Thornden said, wishing he had cut him off sooner. “She’s practically just a child,” he said, catching Deren’s eyes. “She doesn’t deserve this, even if she is royalty.”

“Even if! You speak as though it were a crime!” Thornden rolled his eyes heavenward momentarily and sighed. He didn’t answer this accusation and instead asked:

“When do we start, do you know?”
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Old 05-29-2006, 03:40 PM   #32
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Scyld awoke the next morning feeling stiff from the awkward position he had fallen asleep in against the cellar wall. He had been intending to bring down some kind of pallet for himself but had never gotten around to it and had felt too lazy to go and find one the previous night. He regretted it now, as he had fallen asleep with his back to the niche between the wall and one of the many wine kegs adorning the cellar. The lantern had eventually gone out and Scyld could not see whether Linduial was awake. Without checking he stood up and climbed the stairs; he was relieved to find that it was still early and he had not overslept in the darkness of the cellar.

Scyld took his own breakfast in the kitchen. The overworked cook had clearly already been up for a while, and would undoubtedly be busy all throughout the day. If it wasn’t cooking, it was cleaning, and Scyld did not envy her job one bit. When he had completed his own meal, he put together a small meal for Linduial on a tray: a portion of eggs, a slice of bread with a scant amount of butter, and a glass of water that he would spike with mead in the cellar. Scyld had received no specific orders concerning her meals, only that he was to bring them to her, and he figured that moderation would be the safest bet in case he ran into Sorn.

And he did just that. On his way back to the cellar, he walked past Sorn’s office and was stopped by his voice. “How are you faring with the Lady Linduial? Has she quieted down any?”

Scyld took this as an invitation to step into the room, and he saw that Sorn had a few unusual items out and was looking at them: a knife, a doll, a basket… of course, those would be Linduial’s. Scyld averted his attention, not wanting to show too much interest. “She had quieted down considerably and has been little bother; she seems to have realized that she will get nowhere by struggling.” After a pause, he added, “There is one thing that she seems rather stuck on, however.”

“Oh?” Scyld could not tell whether Sorn was really interested or not.

“She is convinced that her wrist is broken.” Scyld smirked as if this was quite the joke, and in a way it was - any healer who came around would obviously ask questions, something certainly to be avoided. Scyld knew Sorn would not agree, but he wanted to see how he reacted. Besides, now he would be able to tell Linduial that he tried – marks in his favor; he did not have to tell her how he had asked. “And she actually thinks that you ought to get her a healer to set the bone.”
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Old 05-29-2006, 07:38 PM   #33
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The morning had eased itself in, and Sorn had retreated to a small study that used to be a haven for his father. He had rushed in there late on the night before, and deposited the Lady Linduial's beongings. Locking the door behind him, he had made sure none of his minions gained a wandering hand on the items. They could be useful for bargaining a price.

Sorn ran his eyes over the items. A small straw weave basket, only part filled. In it were a small rag doll that looked of humble but kind craftsmanship. Surely this was not the Lady's posession. He concluded it could only be a gift. This made him smile. He would mention it to Osfrid before he left. He picked up the next item - a knife. He nodded, noticing the small brown stain of dried blood. The Lady had fought to get free with this blade, and Wćveth had unluckily caught it. Sorn had let the man brood with a small keg of ale overnight, and would get him back to his duties today.

Sorn picked up the blade and studied it carefully. It was of good workmanship, strong and cold. Linduial had no doubt picked it up at the Horse Fair, where many craftsmen showed their wares on the past day. He wondered again where this item was intended to go. Gondor made truly fine blades, and this woman had no need for them. These items turned thoughts around in Sorn's mind, and he made intention to question Linduial about them.

At that moment, he heard movement by the door. Scyld was walking past, and Sorn saw he was carrying a tray of food. He neednt ask who it was for, instead letting out another quick enquiry.

"How are you faring with the Lady Linduial? Has she quieted down any?"

Scyld paused, then walked slowly in, still carrying the tray. "She had quieted down considerably and has been little bother; she seems to have realized that she will get nowhere by struggling." Scyld seemed to stop and think a moment on the past night, then began again. "There is one thing that she seems rather stuck on, however."

"Oh?". Sorn did not look up, still eyeing the blade. He deducted Scyld must have heard something from the Lady, and finally gotten the courage to mention it. This amused him greatly, but he did not show it.

"She is convinced that her wrist is broken. And she actually thinks that you ought to get her a healer to set the bone."

Sorn raised an eyebrow, and gave a small smile. He placed the knife gently on the table, and stood up. He looked at Scyld squarely, and over the meal he had prepared for her. Did he detect sympathy under his smirk? He hoped not.

"Well, that is certainly a pity. You shall tell the Lady Linduial that if it hurts her so deeply I shall set the bone for her. See how she reacts."
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:04 PM   #34
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Scyld chuckled. “Very good, sir. I shall.” With that he took his leave. As he continued down the hallway, however, he mentally reprimanded himself. He did not like the measuring sort look Sorn had given him with the last remark. He should not have said anything. He would have to remember to keep his own amusement out of the picture of keeping his own skin whole throughout this kidnapping, especially while he was figuring to be playing both sides. You play a dangerous game, and you had best play it with care…

But the exchange had not been entirely detrimental – the knowledge of Linduial’s things could prove useful indeed. If they proved valuable enough to her – and the knife had certainly appeared fine – the news of her things given at the right time just might tip the balance in his favor.

Speaking of knives… he checked to make sure the one hidden under his right sleeve was loose in its sheath. Although Linduial had made no escape attempt the previous night when he brought her dinner, he did not like opening her cell door, and would not be caught unprepared should she try to make an escape. After talking with her, he would not put it past her, as foolish a move as it might be.

He reluctantly descended once more into the cellar. He saw that Linduial was now awake and looking alert.

“I have a message with breakfast for you,” said Scyld conversationally, the words accompanied by his wonted smirk. “How did Sorn put it, now? Something like if your wrist hurts so badly, he will come down himself and set the bone. And I would not count on Sorn’s skills as a healer.” As he talked, he took her glass and added some wine to it. He then set it and the breakfast tray down before standing to unlock Linduial’s cell, and he wondered briefly why Sorn had not thought to make some sort of slat meant for the exchanging of meals. It would certainly be easier that way. He heard the lock click as the door opened. “Breakfast is served,” he said mockingly.
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Old 06-04-2006, 10:34 PM   #35
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Osfrid woke before Muriel did, and to his disappointment found that the sun had already risen. The journey to Edoras and back would be long, and daylight was valuable. At this rate, they might even need to spend the night in the city. But at least that would give Osfrid more time to investigate the residents of the mead hall. Osfrid dressed, and afterwards crouched near the bed to awaken Muriel.

"Wake up, Muriel," he whispered, shaking her gently, "We have to get ready for our big trip today to Edoras. Don’t you want to go buy some jewelry in the markets?"

She woke and groaned, but rolled over and began to sleep again. Osfrid patted her on the head. "I'll be in the kitchen eating breakfast. You just come when you're ready."

He left the tiny bedroom and entered the hall. He spotted Scyld darting far down the hall with a tray of food in his hands, but the rest of the house was empty in the early morning. He walked down the hall to the kitchen, in the part of the house that once quartered dozens of servants. He passed by a few doors of those rooms, now only housing Sorn's henchmen when they stopped by. The entire hall was horribly silent.

Osfrid reached the kitchen and entered. It was long and high-ceilinged, with an enormous hearth at one end. A giant cauldron hung over the coals, though they were cold and the cauldron empty. The only servant present was the cook, a very fat woman chopping carrots at one of the kitchen's long, juice-stained tables. She glanced at Osfrid with a look of disgust and swung her knife at the carrots more fiercely.

"Hello, there," Osfrid said, smiling and inching forwards. The cook grunted. Osfrid continued, "My special lady friend and I are in need of some victuals for a long journey we'll be making today. Once we dine on breakfast, we would very much appreciate it if you could prepare some food for the road."

The cook grunted again and turned her enormous back to Osfrid as she began to prepare breakfast. Osfrid took a seat at one of the tables nearer the door, but immediately stood when he heard the door swing open. It was Muriel, dressed in one of her black dresses and yawning loudly.

"Oh, Osfrid, I had such a funny dream last night!" she said, "There was a winged cat and everything!" She took the seat next to Osfrid's and saw the cook down at the other end of the kitchen. "Is she making breakfast? I'm hungry."

"Yes she is, dearie, and I'm hungry, too. She'll also prepare some food for us during our travels. It's a long trip you know." Osfrid sat down beside Muriel and watched the cook's back for a few moments as she waddled around the tables. "You know, Muriel, we will need false names while we're at the mead hall."

"Oh, yes. It's a spying mission," she said, winking and giggling.

"Yes, dearie, and we need to be very careful that they don't discover our true identities. I was thinking late last night about this, and I've decided to go by the name Bertwald. You must call me Bertwald the entire time we stay at the mead hall, okay? If you call me Osfrid accidentally, bad things will happen, dearie, and Sorn will be angry with us."

"Yes, Osfrid," said Muriel, but at that moment her eyes looked away, "Oh, look! Our breakfast is ready!"

The cook waddled forward, with two plates of eggs in hand. She slid them across the table and cast Muriel a dirty look before waddling back to her side of the kitchen. The eggs were, to be truthful, not completely cooked, and a bit cold, hinting that the cook had prepared them earlier in anticipation of hungry lodgers. Muriel and Osfrid took only a few bites before deciding to push their plates away.

"Ew," said Muriel.

"Now, dearie, don't say that! Those eggs were delicious," Osfrid told her, casting a glance at the cook, "But we have more important things than eggs to take care of. Firstly, what do you want your false name to be? I was thinking of Cyneburg. It's a pleasant enough name, but not too fancy or too simple. What do you think?"

The cook, from across the room and with her back turned, said "My name is Cyneburg." Muriel furiously shook her head.

"I want to be called… Hilda." she said after a few moments of thought.

"Hilda it is, then!" exclaimed Osfrid, "Now, Hilda, if you're finished with your breakfast, I'd like you to find one of Sorn's men and have him prepare the cart for us. I saw Scyld headed toward the cellars. If you find him down there he may be able to help you. As for me, I have to inform Sorn that we'll be leaving soon." He and Muriel stood, and headed for the door.

"Oh, Cyneburg!" Osfrid said, "I'll be back soon for the food you're preparing for our journey." She grunted, and Osfrid and Muriel exited the kitchen.
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Old 06-06-2006, 11:06 AM   #36
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Haleth

Haleth emerged from Meduseld to find the company of his men that he had gathered to find Linduial waiting. Standing on the steps so that everyone could see him, he held up his hand for silence. He had done some research since he had talked to Eodwine, and had come up with some ideas for at least starting to find the filth that had kidnapped the Lady Linduial.

“First of all,” began Haleth, once the crowd was quiet, “I extend the Queen’s and my thanks to you for showing up today. Your willingness to serve in this venture is appreciated. However, before we can go riding off to rescue the Lady Linduial, we must have some idea of where she is being held. To do this, I require two things of you. First, I would have a couple of men stationed at the gates to Edoras; all travelers entering the city should be questioned about whether they have seen anything suspicious on the road. Secondly, word must spread through the city of this vile kidnapping; it should also be known that anyone with word of the kidnapping will be rewarded handsomely.” After going into further detail and divvying up roles, Haleth sought out Eodwine, who he had spotted near the back of the crowd.

“I have gone through the records of the king,” said Haleth after they had greeted each other, “and have come up with this list of perhaps ten men who might have been stirred to commit the kidnapping.” He pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to Eodwine. “A couple were eliminated almost immediately either by myself or the queen or king for various reasons. I believe there are five or six names left? I thought we might start here in looking for our kidnapper. Have you any suggestions?”
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:14 PM   #37
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Eodwine was quiet as Garstan, Thornden, and Deren talked among themselves. There was much his mind was turning on.

Eorl of Middle Emnet who can't even keep a guest out of harms' way. It was a good thing the Queen had turned the search for Linduial over to the capable hands of Haleth, for Eodwine was at a loss. He had talked with great confidence last night to Haleth about what they must do, but now that he thought over what had been said, he realized that Haleth had probably just been picking his brain and been playing trickster's advocate. Eorl of Middle Emnet who can't organize a proper search party, who freezes with indecision and shock at the cropping up of bad news. Something bad happens, Eodwine, and you lose all your mien. You fake. You belong on the open road with good Flíthaf, not in a Mead Hall playing at lording it. Fool of a Messenger. You should have kept to your lore keeping. He sighed and kept a bright appearing face so that his three cronies would not notice his foul thought.

He had dreamed of Kayđra again. He wished he knew surely whether he had found her corpse, or whether he had merely dreamed it fourteen years ago. He saw clearly the charred remnants of the farmstead, saw burned into his thought the blackened bodies three, of wife, daughter, and son. Surely he had not dreamt it?

He barely felt that he could put his mind properly to the search for Linduial, so weighted he felt with two nights of dreams in a row of Kayđra. Was she alive, telling him to come find her? Or was she merely a ghost suddenly haunting his dreams? If a ghost, why? Were the dead jealous of the living? Was she warning him away from Saeryn?

Haleth was speaking. Words of thanks and the piecings together of a plan.

"What?" Eodwine said, "He's calling me?"

"Yes, lord," said Thornden.

Eodwine made his way forward through the crowd; the other three were close on his heels. It seemed Haleth had a list of names. It was something to do with the search for Linduial. Likely kidnappers? Haleth was asking for suggestions as to what to do? Eodwine's thought was too far flung. He hardly knew what he was being asked. He cleared his throat.

"I defer, Haleth, Eoredlord, to your wisdom in the matter. I am yours to command as you see fit."
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Old 06-08-2006, 07:27 AM   #38
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Thornden followed Eodwine forward to where Haleth stood waiting. He listened in silence as Haleth pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Eodwine, explaining what it was. He watched Eodwine carefully as the Eorl numbly unfolded the piece of paper and hardly glanced at it.

“I defer, Haleth, Eoredlord, to your wisdom in the matter. I am yours to command as you see fit.”

Thornden remained still, standing upright and rigid as a couple of years as a guard had taught him, but in his mind, he wondered what troubled Eodwine. He knew, from the wall toppling down the past week, that Eodwine took much blame upon himself when something went wrong, but it was also his way to take the responsibility in recovering what he had lost, or setting to rights what had been damaged. Now he appeared reluctant to do so.

No, not reluctant. Thornden looked quizzically at Eodwine’s face. Not reluctant. He wanted very much to get Linduial back. It was something else. But Thornden didn’t know what.

Thornden pulled his thoughts away from Eodwine. Whatever the problem there, it could not be addressed now. He had to think on the kidnaping of Linduial now. His eyes riveted to the paper in Eodwine’s hand. As he perused the names, he turned over in his mind what Haleth had said.

‘I thought we might start here in looking for our kidnapper. . .’

Someone touched his shoulder and he turned his head sharply.

“I’ve been added to list of people going to the gate,” Deren said, jerking his head towards a group of men preparing to leave. “Tell lord Eodwine, won’t you?”

Thornden nodded. “I will. Good luck.” He watched as Deren walked away. Deren joined the men and then the entire group went off down the street, towards the gate. Thornden turned back towards Eodwine and Haleth. Haleth was speaking to another man, answering some question. “My lord Eodwine,” Thornden said quietly, close to Eodwine’s ear. Eodwine looked up. “If I might be so bold to make a suggestion - I don’t think that we would accomplish much if we walked up to these men’s homes,” he indicated the paper, “openly hostile and demanding to search their place. They’d jump to the defensive at once and we wouldn’t be able to learn anything.” He stopped a moment. He had not thought of what they could do instead of that.

“I don’t know what we’d be able to do, though,” he added after a short moment of silence between them. “I think that it would be a good idea not to rile anyone up before we have any evidence against them.”
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Old 06-08-2006, 08:36 AM   #39
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So there was a list of possible suspects. That was encouraging. Garstan had been puzzling over how go about finding Linduial. He was certain that anyone daring to play a game of kidnap and ransom with the Queen would also need great cunning. A man that clever would be hard to unearth without leads. More fascinating - and disturbing - was the idea that a list would exist. Disloyalty among the nobility of Rohan? Not all of noble blood, it seemed, were of noble mind, and sadly, this was not limited to the kidnapper.

Still, Garstan was certain that the guilty party would be on the list. Anyone treacherous enough to attempt this plot must have been noticed in a time suspicious enough to generate lists of potential troublemakers. Indeed, not all evil came to an end with the War.

Five or six names. He wondered where the owners of those names lived. Garstan remembered the short space of time between Linduial's disappearance and the ransom note's arrival. She must, he reasoned, already have been secured in the kidnapper's lair when the note was sent. To wave such a letter under the Queen nose before the victim was well hidden would have been foolhardy. Lothiriel would surely react by sending a search party as soon as the letter arrived. She had done so. And the kidnapper must have accounted for that in his plan. The more he thought upon the matter, the more Garstan was convinced that Linduial was already locked in the kidnapper's prison when the letter started on its way. That meant she couldn't be more than a half a day's journey, by horseback at least, from Edoras.

Thornden and Eodwine stood close together, speaking in low voices as Thornden pointed to the list. Garstan, thinking that he might have hit upon a point of some importance, went to join them. He felt more comfortable with them than the Haleth. All made him uneasy to an extent, as he was keenly aware of his lack of military experience and lower rank compared to the rest of the party. At least he knew the Eorl and Thornden from his stay at the Mead Hall. But still, he was uncomfortable with the thought of interrupting their discussion, and so stood a little to the side, far enough from them to avoid unintentional eavesdropping, and close enough to attempt to interject his thoughts when an appropriate chance came.

Last edited by Celuien; 06-08-2006 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:49 AM   #40
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Scyld

“Scyld?” A woman’s voice drifted down to the cellar from the top of the stairs. Before responding, he gave Linduial a sharp look that glanced from her to the glass of wine-water and back. The meaning was clear: If anyone finds out, you will pay.

“Yes?” he replied, walking to the bottom of the stairs to see who it was, since she didn’t seem to have any intention of coming down. Then he recognized Osfrid’s lady friend – Muriel, he recalled. She was looking down into the dark cellar with a peculiar expression on her face – a mixture, perhaps, of fear and distaste.

“Osfrid said to get you to hook up the cart. I don’t know how,” she explained.

“Very well,” he answered, contrary to his thoughts: Too good to hook up his own wagon, is Osfrid? He ascended the stairs and led Muriel out to the stable without attempting to strike up a conversation. He noticed that Muriel’s nose wrinkled as they entered the stable, confirming his opinion of her. Osfrid did have rather poor choice in women – there wasn’t any fight in this one at all – simple-minded, liking her comforts… Scyld thought of how very dull his job of jailer would be if Linduial were like Muriel. In fact, he realized, if Linduial wasn’t the pampered noble she was, she might actually be a rather nice sort.

Scyld went about hooking the horses up to the cart wordlessly and efficiently. He had no particular love for horses in themselves, but he had done enough stable work in his years here to know his way around the stable and be comfortable with the horses… unlike Muriel, he noticed, who appeared to be half-expecting one of the horses to tread on her foot or take a bite out of her any minute. When the cart was ready, he decided it would not be a good idea to leave her with the horses and settled himself in to wait for Osfrid to appear.
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