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Old 03-20-2011, 07:57 AM   #81
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Therian woke with the rough edge of a cobble stone digging into his hip. His head was on Branor's shoulder in the most undignified of ways. The two of them were crammed into the space between two decorative archways. It was chilly; he could tell by his breath coming from him in bursts of white.

"Bran, Bran, get up."

Branor woke up with a moan. "What?"

They were in some corner of the city, and Therian could not remember how they had ended up there. He smelled fresh bread, which meant it was morning, and besides that, it was getting light.

"Get up, you fool, Brinn is going to kill us."

Some motion caught Therian's vision off to the side somewhere. A boy, perhaps?

"Where are we?" Bran grumbled.

"Olog... chased us... but then I don't remember..."

They hauled themselves to their feet and stumbled toward an intersection, following the smell of bread. A large sign pointed their way, emblazoned with the words, "Lamedon Square Market: This Way!"
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:23 PM   #82
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The baker was just about to answer Coldan's question when a young boy came running at the top of his speed, stopped himself abruptly right in front of them, waving his arms for balance, and shouted: "Mistress Fea - Mistress Fea - there's two men over there - they've been fighting - and someone's going to kill them!"

The woman turned to him and took him gently by the shoulders. "Easy, boy, easy", she said in a voice that managed to sound sober and comforting at the same time. "One thing at a time. Where are they? Did you see them fight? Was somebody threatening them?"

"Over there, ma'am, near Saucepan Alley", the boy panted, pointing into the direction he had come from. "They were alone, but one of them has a black eye, and he said to the other one: 'Brinn is going to kill us'."

"Vat?" and "What?", Coldan and Harrenon cried out simultaneously, staring at each other in alarm. When Coldan's eyes followed the boy's pointing finger, he saw two all too familiar figures emerging from an alleyway into the market square, making for the bakery with a stiff gait that looked like they had spent the night lying on hard ground.

"Merciful Valar!" he groaned. "Can't zose two be trusted to stay out of trouble for a few hours at least?"

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Old 03-20-2011, 10:18 PM   #83
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"Chop chop, my man, fetch the wifey, the carpenter and anyone else with an interest in the future of this...troupe. My escort is hungry; we shall wait here and tuck into a hearty breakfast."

Oh, dear. That did not sound good. Rollan bowed. "My lord, Mistress Celebrindal is indisposed at the moment; having turned her ankle yesterday. The Healer has said it is a bad turn, and she is not to put her weight on it for a week. So, unless you wish to be treated to the farce of her being borne here on my back, or unless you wish to see an honest woman to be lamed for the rest of her life, we shall have to entertain you at our carts, which can be seen within."

He sighed. He was not as good at mollifying those with blood on their minds as Brinn was. And this man clearly it on his.

"If you will meet us in the courtyard after your sup, I am certain that I shall be able to find those you would like to speak with and gather them there. We have sent many of our troupe out, you see, to better research the historical accuracy of our plays. Enjoy your meal, my lord, and I hope to see you within."

He gave his best, most elaborate bow, and turned to leave.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:50 AM   #84
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For a moment, Rollan would be very startled indeed; it seemed his talk of turned ankles and lameness had had a very dramatic effect indeed on the old Master of the Revels and his young son, who went purple and pallid respectively.

Remarkably, though, it would become apparent in some way that he had said something more helpful than disastrous. As he was in the process of hurrying off, a new intonation in the nobleman's words brought him up short. The Lord Cirdacil's reply, though still crotchety in its substance, was much more reasonable sounding in its delivery.

"Injured, eh. Well, that's dashed unfortunate. All this clambering over stages, trouble bound to happen, isn't it. Well, we shall meet later then, sirrah, in the courtyard, if you will it so. Gather as many as your men as you can, especially those I have mentioned; I want them neatly turned out, ready to listen to a serious matter. And do deliver all this correspondence to this scribbler of yours as quick as you can; he does seem to be a popular fellow."

Lord Cirdacil shot his son Sador a quizzical look, and if Rollan followed the glance with any attention he would note the young nobleman, still mounted unlike his father, sitting in an awkward posture, slightly unbalanced in the saddle by his left, malformed leg. The moment soon passed, and the old lord flashed his dark, tempestuous eyes back to the player.

"As for Mistress Celebrindal, if there is any more trouble, sir, consider yourself free to apply to me for the use of our family physician up at the House. You are soon to be in my employ, even if none of us particularly relish that fact, and I suppose I had better see you whole in limb if I can. Until soon, then."

Cirdacil gave a sharp nod in Rollan's direction to indicate their speech was now over, and the player free to depart. In the background the guards had already got the ostlers to deal with their horses, and were bustling the unfortunate Ingold about to deal with their handsome meal...
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:04 AM   #85
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"Vere have you two been and vat exactly have you been doing?" Coldan asked when Branor and Therian walked into the bakery.

"Glad to see both of you as well" shot back Branor. He was stiff, tired, and thus in no mood to banter or feel like he had to answer to anyone.

"I make no offense," replied Coldan. "but you have made a fine mess of things vith your antics so far."

"Do not concern yourself with us," Branor muttered "we decided it was better to investigate at night than in the morning. Mornings everyone is busy with daily duties and is in no mood for friendly chat with strangers. Besides we found out a good deal about the hobbits yesterday, aint that right?" He looked to Therian for support, but it was clear Therian, like Branor, did not remember last night's events.

Coldan and Harrenon looked at Therian's bruised eye and wondered how much investigating the two really could have done, but did not protest further.

Branor's stomach was grumbling and when he saw the lady attending her goods, he tapped Therian's arm. The misses's face looked worn, like any person who runs a store typically does, but there was still a fair and vibrant beauty to her. Branor could tell she took great care to make her goods and give her customers the best. If Therian really wanted to know how to properly address a lady than Branor was going to show him.

"Hello Misses" he smiled and leaned forward onto the counter. His tone softened to a near whisper "I am in desperate need of nourishment and have heard high remarks about your wares and ability to satisfy what I need."

The Mistress firmly placed her hand on the counter, expressing just tell me what you want and go about your business.

"But I have not been in here before and do not know what you have. I am feeling something sweet and filling. Can I see your finest sweet buns, honey?" Branor cleared his throat. "Pardon me, that was supposed to come out as, can I see your finest honey buns...sweetie? Ahem. No. Do your buns have honey drizzled on top?"
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:10 AM   #86
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"What are we going to do, Rollan?" said Asta, joining her brother-in-law as he left the hall. She had overheard the latter part of his conversation with the old lord, but that was all.

Rollan said he did not know, pointing out that, for that matter, they did not know what the Master of Revels wanted of them yet anyway. He asked if all the others had left already.

"Yes, except Sereth, of course. But it's worse than you think– Branor's bed hasn't been slept in and neither has–"

"Well, aren't you the nosy one?" Rollan broke in, amused in spite of their situation.

Asta flushed slightly, making up her mind not to ask Rollan about those two letters he carried, much as they intrigued her. "The door happened to be ajar, Rollan. As I was saying, he and Therian must have been out all night, and who knows what they've managed to get themselves into? Oh, I'm sure those horrid lords and their guards are just toying with us, and we're all to be thrown in a dungeon after they've had their breakfast!" She wondered what being in a dungeon was like, and how long it would take her to starve in one. Not long, she decided, what with her sensitive nostrils and her already-meagre frame. And what would happen to her equipment if she went to prison? To her eagles, and her walking trees? To Smaug?

But it seemed Rollan was doubtful now whether the Master of Revels would have come just to see them arrested, and anyway he had other things on his mind. "What about Aldarion? He left with Amdir, I suppose?"

"Oh, Aldarion? Well... I'm not sure," Asta lied. From her vantage point on the stairs, she had clearly seen the playwright's tall figure slipping furtively into the Common Room. It was all too plain that he had meant to lie low and let the rest of the troupe take whatever trouble was coming to them. Asta was quite shocked and hurt. She had been– not exactly in love with him– in fact, not even remotely in love with him, she decided– but she had certainly thought he cared for her. She could not, however, quite bring herself to tell tales on him yet.

And after all, she thought, stealing a glance over her shoulder at the guards now trooping in for their breakfast, much good Aldarion's stealth and cowardice would do him now!
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:38 AM   #87
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Fea crossed her arms over her chest and shared a look with Captain Form. "Now, young man," she began, though Branor could easily have been her age for all she knew, "it looks from your bruises that you have been fighting. And that is not looked kindly upon in the King's City, or in my market."

Therian gulped and stuttered, "Your market?"

"Yes, boy, mine, as far as that sort of thing goes. You are not from around here, so I would not expect you to know it, but in these parts we have ways of behaving. I take it the two of you are the cause of my shop boy scooting his tush back into my kitchen faster than I've ever seen him move, all the while yelling of murders and ruffians?"

Therian looked at Branor. Murderers? But they were just actors! A puzzle piece of memory locked into place and Therian saw for a moment the flash of Olog's bear shaped body as he lumbered after them down the road. How, he wondered, had they escaped? They had not had that much to drink, had they? And for the sake of it all, why had they slept on the ground? "I... um... well, by 'kill' we meant our Boss... and not really kill so much as be very upset with us... in a way that might mean she will not be our boss any more?"

Fea humphed and found a sweet sticky roll for Branor and charged him double her normal price, to make up for Erchan's loss of productivity, and because the fool had to learn one way or another, and maybe an empty pocket would enforce the idea of a mouth that had no words coming out of it.

"And," Fea said, "In the mean time, you've had me neglecting another patron. If you will excuse me..."
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:19 AM   #88
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Amdír made good time returning from Lord Hallas's estate, and was slowing climbing up into the city from the Great Gate before morning had truly passed. It helped that Lord Hallas's estate was close to the city, no more than a league or two. It also helped that days were long, and one could get a lot done when the sun rose early.

Normally, Amdír would have avoided going through Lamedon Square Market with a laden waggon, but even though it was coming busy as the morning wore on, he didn't fancy trying to take the waggon, which was more cumbersome than most carts he drove, down one of the back ways, and decided to continue slowly up Lampwright's Street, even if it meant braving the impatience of the crowds.

He was passing through the Market, irritating the occasional seller or buyer of goods and wares when he caught sight of Branor and Therian looking rather worse for the wear next to a well-kept baker's stall. A large man wearing the uniform of a Tower Guard loomed nearby.

"Branor! Therian!" called Amdír. "Hello, there!"

Instead of immediately catching the two actors' attention, Amdír's salutation was noticed by the Guard.

"Good morning, good yeoman!" returned Captain Formy jovially. "Are you responsible for these impertinent ragamuffins?"

Amdír's natural respect for those in authority caused him to overlook the jovial diminishment of the two actors.

"No, sir, though I know them. They are members of the King's Players, staying at Ingold's Inn."

"Good King Elessar has players? What do they play at? Are they a troop of gamblers that play at the games of dice said to be prevalent in the cold of winter in the King's northern homeland?"

"No sir, they are an acting troupe--from Dale. It is from King Bard II that they take their name. They are here to put on a performance as a part of the Cormarë revels."

"Best see they take a break from their own revels, if they wish to entertain anyone else," suggested the captain with a mock-stern glance at the actors.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:38 PM   #89
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“That’s it,” Harrenon said after the problem with Therian and Branor seemed more or less solved with the arrival of Amdir. “If I had any doubts until now, I don’t anymore. First we find out we might have faulty information, then Brinn breaks her ankle and now this. There’s no doubt about it. We’re cursed. This play is cursed. We’re not meant to do it. We can’t put up a performance about what happened in the War of the Ring. It’s wrong. We’re…we’re meddling with something that’s too…too grand for us and we can’t do that. We’re receiving all sorts of signs that we can’t do it. This play is doomed. I’m sure it is!”

It was not often that Harrenon lost control like this in public, but when he did, his outbursts where usually memorable and quite embarrassing in hindsight. After he was finally done he was aware of a sudden silence around him and realised that many had stopped whatever they were doing to listen to him curiously. Coldan looked quite uncomfortable at the turn of events. Harrenon bit his lips, realising that the only thing he had done was to draw even more attention to the Players.

“I’m sorry,” he said sheepishly to Coldan. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m really sorry. Now can we please find that blasted armoury before I say something else that might cause trouble?”
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:53 PM   #90
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Aldarion tensed as a handful of troops entered the common room, but he soon relaxed, noting that they were not holding their weapons at the ready nor did they appear to be searching for anyone in particular. His suspicions were confirmed when they seated themselves around a table near the bar and called for food and drink.

Though he could not be certain, Aldarion assumed these were some of the guards that had accompanied the Master of Revels, for to his understanding it would not be a common thing to spot two different packs of Citidel Guards in the lowest level of the city. They're sitting down, at ease. Perhaps this indicates that the Revels Master is conducting lengthy business here, and that the business does not require the services of guards? That's promising.

No longer inclined to fear the worst (that Branor had brought the King's wrath down upon them) Aldarion made his way from the common room, intending to check the player's block of rooms and the cart for the Revels Master, Brinn, and the others. But immediately upon entering the hall he spotted Asta and Rollan at the bottom of the stair to his right. Neither looked particularly panicked, which quelled Aldarion's fears to the point that he felt nearly happy.

"Well, I'm relieved to see that you have not been arrested," said Aldarion as he approached. "Now, where is the Master of Revels, and what does he want?"

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Old 03-21-2011, 06:12 PM   #91
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"Zat will be for the best, I zink", Coldan agreed, dragging Harrenon away from the bakery before the huge captain of the guard who had shown up in the least convenient moment could think of inquiring what legitimate interest two civilians, whose friends had just caused rumours of fighting and murder, could have in finding an armoury. As for Branor and Therian, Amdír could probably be relied on to take the two goodfornothings back to the inn without much further mayhem, and once there, Brinn would have a word or two with them that would hopefully put some reason into their heads, if reason could bear to dwell there.

He clapped his companion on the shoulder reassuringly. "Don't take it to heart too much", he said, trying to sound more confident than he actually felt. "Not all is lost yet. It doesn't look to good for us right now, I'll give you zat, but ve'll make it yet - and if I hev to rewrite that dratted script myself." A mere day ago, he wouldn't have had the slightest doubt in his ability to do that - after all, correcting another man's mistakes couldn't be as hard as composing from scratch, could it?, and he had often irritated Brinn by improvising what he thought improvements to his lines on stage. Since the news that the King himself was going to attend their performance, however, the stakes had been raised considerably, and under that pressure, he was beginning to feel ever so slightly less certain of his own abilities. If he was quite honest with himself, he knew that he would never finish a revision in the time allotted to them. But at the very least he, for one, would carry out the assignment Brinn had given him without making a fool of himself.

A sign saying 'Blacksmiths' Road' rekindled his hopes. Following it, they soon heard the clear 'ping-ping' of hammer on anvil, and at the second intersection, where it was crossed by Anvil Road, they found a workshop with a sign of crossed swords over its door sitting right on the corner.

Inside, the smith was hammering away at a glowing blade while his apprentice was taking care of the furnace in the background. Two grizzled men were sitting on a bench near the anvil, and now or then one or the other commented on the work in progress; both had the hardened look of veteran soldiers, but neither bothered to look around at the goods displayed, which made Coldan think they had to be friends of the smith's. The only regular customer was a tall, dark-haired man in a strange livery, similar to that which the Guards of the Citadel wore, but all in white; he was examining some knives and daggers to one side of the room.

"Good morning, Master Armourer!" Coldan greeted the smith. "How's business?"

The smith briefly looked up, nodded to him and continued with his work. "Can't complain; my customers know I make excellent blades and are willing to pay the appropriate price. What more can a man ask?"

"I'm sure of zat! But still, zere can't be zat much demand for your goods in zese days of peace. Must hev been different during ze Var."

"You can say that aloud!" The smith plunged the finished blade in a barrel to quench it, and a cloud of steam welled up. "I was apprenticed to Master Findring then, and him me and the other lads worked day and night to keep the guards and soldiers supplied. Still, as I said, I can't complain; the One Enemy's gone, and the King pardoned the Easterlings and Southrons as fought for him, but not all of them are content with his rule, and he and his knights are busy enough keeping them at peace."

"Like you'd need to tell him that", one of the veterans said with a glowering look in Coldan's direction. "The guards are getting lax in their duty, if they let former Orc-friends into the city nowadays."

Coldan's eyes narrowed. "Vat do you mean by zis?"

"You know full well what I mean", the man growled back at him. "Last time I saw a face like yours around these parts was in the War, at the other end of my halberd. Aren't the plains of Rhûn wide enough for you, that you must molest people in the King's own city?"

That did it. In his head, Coldan knew he should better keep quiet, but he just couldn't contain himself, and all the frustration pent up inside him erupted and burst out at this gross insult.

"Nobody calls me zat!" he yelled, shaking with rage. "No Orc-friend Easterling I am, but a free man of Dorvinion! A thousand years and more ve vithstood the Shadow all alone, while Mother Gondor had forgotten and forsaken us! If one of my foremothers long ago was raped by a Vainrider and bequeathed his features to me, who is to blame? Must I zerefore stand here and be insulted by a brutish oaf who quaffs our vine but spurns the folk as make it?"

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Old 03-21-2011, 07:13 PM   #92
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Branor, despite that disaster, was grinning when he walked back to Therian. "And that, my boy, is what women will do to you. They will take your money and leave you on the side standing helpless. And that misses, not all that interesting anyway, certainly not as pretty as Brinn. Oh my, uhm, you did not hear me say that." In truth, he was just trying to save face, even though he guessed Therian knew Branor had that blow up in his face.

He was not bothered by being charged extra, since it was probably the best sticky bun he could remember having. "Mmm, that was quite tasty. I would go back and ask for another, if I was assured she would not hike up the price on me again. Still, she woefully undercharges for her sticky buns."

"What do you expect from, you know, from a shop being owned by...a her." Therian said. He still seemed focused to figure out how every lady he's met in Minas Anor defies traditional logic.

The large guard-Captain was not enjoying their conversation as he always was shooting suspicious glances, as if he was looking for a reason to throw the two out.

"Branor! Therian!" called Amdír. "Hello, there!"

Amdir was engaged in conversation with Captain Formy, and was slowly looking more stern towards Branor and Therian. When the two approached Amdir and he saw their faces a look of exasperation, what had these two whippers been up to? And how did they get Captain Formy so riled?

"I suppose I need to take you both back to the Inn, after your adventures last night?" Amdir gave them a hard look.

Branor was lost, how did it seem like everyone knew what happened last night except for Branor and Therian? Not that he would apologize for any trouble making he caused, as it most likely was not his fault. It would still help to know why he needed to apologize? All he did was save Therian from getting squashed. Unless Olog finally caught up to them? He could have sworn, while Olog had the clear advantage in strength, they more than made up for by outwitting the lame half-wit.

"Thanks, Amdir, but that will not be necessary." said Branor. "I am going to continue following Brinn's orders by investigating the hobbits. You can tell her this if you see fit. Therian, you coming?"

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Old 03-21-2011, 07:51 PM   #93
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Therian somehow found the generosity not to laugh at Branor. It helped that he was rather busy feeling concerned about his behavior over the night. This Captain Formy seemed to know much of everything, and he had mentioned nothing, nor tried to arrest them. This Mistress Fea looked as though she knew everything, and she had said the market was practically hers. Surely if they'd done anything too awful, she would have known, but instead she just repeated her shop boy's words. Really, anything they'd done could not have been that bad.

He thought about what they'd done, or what he couldn't remember them doing, and realized unfortunately what he knew they had not done: learned anything of value about the hobbits, except that Master Sam's wife used to serve beer for a living. He was not sure what value that was, except that probably Sam liked his brew, which Therian already knew from meeting him.

If they went back now, war would all but break out. Best to go back with definitive proof of something, anyway. And besides, they might find out what they'd done in the night.

Therian looked at this Mistress Fea, watching as she deftly sliced a loaf of bread for a patron, wrapped it, and tucked his coin into her apron band. She was a pear shaped woman. He wondered if she had children, or a husband. Ugh, he thought. Olog. How could that pretty young thing at the tavern be married to an oaf like Olog? The man lumbered. Any man whose locomotion so closely resembled that of a bear or a boar should not be married to such a delicate specimen of femininity. This Fea, however, crushed his thoughts without doing a single thing. She was no delicate flower, no elanor on a hillside. She was no single willow in a vale, wistfully blown about by the breeze. This Mistress Fea was a mighty oak, he thought, or perhaps more of a maple. He watched as she pulled a small bag of bite sized muffins from some hidden place and gave one each to a handful of small children. They bounced and ran away squealing. Sturdy, she was, but sweet. And like autumn leaves burnished gold and red, she had an undeniable beauty even if he thought of her as a tree.

Branor snapped his fingers in Therian's face.

"What?" Therian snapped.

"You coming or not?"

Therian looked back at Fea. Here was a woman completely at home in the body of a woman. She wore no men's garb like they said Eowyn wore into battle. She did not stand here selling things dressed as a fellow, clad in a fellow's trousers, her breasts bound flat, her hair hidden away. She did not flaunt herself, surely, yet she wore serviceable skirts and petticoats, and sturdy boots, and a blouse and a shawl and over it all, an apron. She dressed as Therian's own mother had dressed before she died: for practicality. But there was something to the flare of her skirt that admitted her womanhood, drawing the eye from her pinched waist around the curves of her hips and out. She was no Queen Evenstar, of course, but she dressed as a woman though she did the mannish work of selling things in a public place.

Nor did she disguise her voice, as they say Eowyn did. In fact, this Mistress Fea appeared to pretend to be nothing except what she was: a woman that baked and sold her baked goods. A woman that was used to being obeyed. A woman that was not unnecessarily crude or vicious to men. He had known some women like that: ones that behaved as though venom from their lips would somehow change the world. Well, as his mother always said, you catch more flies with honey. Or was that sugar? And what was it that you didn't catch them with, vinegar? Milk? Milk made no sense. He couldn't remember flies ever going to milk.

But the point was the same. There was something to this baker lady that caught his attention.

Branor hit him in the arm. "I'm leaving."

"Huh?"

Amdír asked, "Are you drunk?"

"No," Therian said. "Not drunk. Leaving. Going. Branor, where are we going?"
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:13 PM   #94
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"No," Therian said. "Not drunk. Leaving. Going. Branor, where are we going?"

"We are going to do what Brinn sent us off to do." Branor yelled back. He was already quite a few paces ahead of a trailing Therian.

"What was that again?"

Branor stopped and waited for Therian to catch up, just so he could hit him in the chest. Therian did not look happy, but Branor was more shocked when Therian did not attempt to strike back. Seriously, what was wrong with this boy today?

"Ever since waking up this morning, you have been acting weird. Particularly back there at Mistress Fea's. I thought we got away from Olog, but it appears he's knocked the wits out of you!"

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Old 03-21-2011, 08:18 PM   #95
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Therian tried to clear his mind. "I was just thinking, it seems weird that a girl as pretty as Miss Antian to be married to a man so... so..."

"Ugly?"

"Yeah. Ugly." They walked out of the market and away from the others. "Why do all the pretty ones pick jerks and ugly guys?"
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:42 PM   #96
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"Not to mention Olog wouldn't be able to spell dog for you if you spotted him the d and g."

Therian did laugh at that one, for it was most likely true. Good he has not gone completely cracked, thought Branor, although he might be cracking.

"Anyway, I couldn't tell you. I gave up trying to figure out what they want years ago. Its always changing too. One minute they want excitment, the next minute it's laziness. They want a helping hand and then they want you to stay away. You may have seen how much Brinn changes from day to day, and I doubt that Miss Fea is going to know what she wants tomorrow, or if it will be the same thing she wanted yesterday. So, are you saying you have an eye for that pretty lady barmaid from last night? You hound." Branor was suppressing a huge smirk. "Shall we go back? I would like to go back and try to put the missing pieces of last night together, and hopefully find more things about our four hobbits, before going back to the Inn."

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Old 03-21-2011, 08:57 PM   #97
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Go back? Ah, well, the day crowd would be different, certainly. No doubt Antian would not even be working first thing in the morning. But would, actually, they be open in the morning? No harm in looking.

But how had they managed to walk this far? Ah, well, they had run for a time. Olog was big and drunk, but he was fast. Therian's feet hurt, which he was sure said something for distance and speed.

When they arrived at the Unicorn, the door was closed, the sign was missing, and everything was shut tight.

"Like I thought," said Therian, "Not open until later."

A voice cackled from behind them. "Back for more, I reckon, boys be back for more and who is to know after it all who knows why and what for? Boys and their girls, I say and all of it all swirling like wind and dirt on roads with twisties and blows and..."

The voice fell away into a fit of giggles and Therian shared a concerned look with Branor. The speaker was an ancient looking man. It was to be expected that they had not noticed him, because until they looked close, he looked like nothing more than a pile of rags on the ground.

"Sir, are you... are you quite all right?"

The man's face was as cracked and wrinkled as unoiled leather left out in the field in the summer for too long. Liver spots decorated the skin that was not taken over by tiny blue veins. "All right? But are we ever all right, all of us anyway, or right? What is right, and can we have it, can we have it all? If it were all, and it were right, you wouldn't be here would you, all chasing after the whiff of a damsel?"

"What do you know, old man?" asked Branor.

"Hehehe, what any of us knows and what I know is what the wind knows, what happens when the dark takes away the vision and it's all smell and sound and you, the two of you, hehehe..."

"Bran, he's sick in the head, he's got to be, just leave him."

"Rick Bran Rick Bran Rick's the man and so is Bran." The wizened body stretched and crackled, and then sat up straight. He looked around. He looked up at Therian and Branor and asked, quite lucidly, "Have you seen my wife? I seem to have misplaced her."
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:36 PM   #98
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"He wants to talk to Brinn, is what he wants," said Rollan, "and anyone else who is... ahem... 'interested in the future of this troupe.'" He gave his best impression of the old lord. "Oh, and--he asked for your presence in particular, and asked me to give these to you." He handed him a set of papers. "Anyhow, he was surprisingly sympathetic to Brinn's injury, so as soon as his guard's done eating, they'll meet with all of us in the courtyard.

"And I had better tell Brinn all this myself, and help her make herself presentable. If I know her, I know she's going to want to argue this thing out--whatever it is--at her best. I don't think this Master of the Revels is nearly as friendly towards us as Hallas. If anyone wants to find Amdir, he's been asked to come to the meeting as well."

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Old 03-22-2011, 04:45 AM   #99
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After Coldan’s outburst, it seemed that things were going to turn ugly. The old veteran looked none to pleased for being insulted – although Harrenon admitted that he had been the one who started with the insults since no one liked being called an orc-friend. He got up and headed towards Coldan, taking an aggressive stance, his intentions quite clear. Harrenon tried to consider their solutions. They could have run, but that would have made things much worse. Therian and Branor had already caused some trouble in the city. If things continued like that, the Players might soon be forced to leave Minas Tirith for being a nuisance. Therefore Harrenon did the only thing he could think of, and stepped in front of Coldan to face the old veteran, his mind all the while telling him that he was a fool and that if the veteran decided he did not want to resolve the conflict peacefully, he would be the one to suffer first.

“I think you should wait,” Harrenon began, secretly congratulating himself on his acting abilities, because he managed to appear confident and firm while in reality he was ready to bolt. “See, I apologise for my friend here, but you must admit that being called an orc-friend and an Easterling out of the blue is not a very pleasant experience. I am sure you would not be too pleased yourself, Sir, if someone did that to you.”

“Why the blazes would someone say that to me?” the veteran retorted. “I’m a Gondorian, just like you, by the looks of it, although judging from the company you keep, I wouldn’t have said it.”

Harrenon felt Coldan stir impatiently behind him and muttered a desperate “Wait” under his breath. He turned again to the old soldier.

“He has explained to you that he is not what you think he is,” he pointed out.

“Aye, but he also called me a brutish oaf!” the soldier replied. “I who have been fighting to defend this city before you were even born. I’m not the one to suffer insults quietly.”

“No, I can see that,” Harrenon admitted. “But what if he were to apologise to you? Would that be enough?”

Harrenon knew Coldan would be far from happy with him after that, but it was the only thing he could think of. The soldier did not answer and then another voice sounded in the smithy.

“I think we should deal with this fairly,” spoke the young man who had been until then surveying the scene without saying anything. “Since you were both wrong, I think you should both apologise to each other. Yes, you too, soldier.”

“But…but, master Bergil, Sir…” the veteran spluttered indignantly.

“I said you too,” Bergil repeated more firmly. “And you first, since you started it.”

Under Bergil’s watchful eyes, the old soldier muttered a reluctant “I’m sorry.” Bergil now turned to Coldan looking at him expectantly. Harrenon cast his now surly companion an apologetic look, trying to get him to understand that there had been no other choice.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:34 AM   #100
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"Quiet Therian." snapped Branor. "He called me Rick. He might know something from last night." Branor had all but forgotten the spy business with Rick Cottontree, but it was slowly coming back to him.

"Old man, my friend and I are trying to find out what happened to us last night. There are a lot of parts missing, but you do remember seeing me, yes? We do not know where your wife is, but if you can help us with our memory, we might be able to help you find your wife."

"Yes. Yes." said the old man who was sounding more lucid. "You were the one asking about hobbits last night and Rick's friend there was fancying the barmaid."

"That's right!" Branor's hopes were raising that they may figure out this talk of murderers, killers, and brigands. "Can you remember how we got these bruises?"

"Bruises. I know nothing about how you got those bruises." Branor sighed and was about to tell Therian that he was right, this man was going to be of no use, but then...

"I can tell you about the hobbits you seek." said the old man.

Branor perked up and rushed to take a seat next to the man. "You can!? You mean the four hobbits on the quest of Mount Doom!?"

"Those would be the ones: Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took."

Therian and Branor were still unsure how much they could rely on this man's sanity, or lack there of, so Branor decided to first ask about Peregrin Took. He was well known in Minas Anor, and so far they had not encountered any disastrous inaccuracies in Peregrin's history. At least, not anything like the Samwise debacle.

"Peregrin Took, or Pippin as his friends called him." remembered the old man. "He was well loved in these parts, and deserved every bit of it. A courageous lad, in going against his Lord's orders to save Lord Faramir's life. And he was quite a champion to boot too, uncomparable to the devilish creature Master Merry slew, but Lord Peregrin had the same heroic spirit when he killed the mighty war troll."

The mention of troll prompted Therian to make another snarky comment about how can the lumbering, ugly troll Olog ever catch the fancy of a delicate woman, and mumbled something about wondering if Miss Fea would fancy Olog. Branor didn't catch it all, but the old man did.

"Olog and a misses? hehehe, that Olog was going to make mincemeat out of you boys, hehe."
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Old 03-22-2011, 04:36 PM   #101
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Coldan stood with his fist clenched, unwilling to apologize to anybody for defending his honour and his country's. He realized Harrenon and the young stranger had spared him a nasty brawl in which he would probably have got worsted, but it still irked his pride to give in and humble himself. It was the liveried man's eyes, fixed on him unwaveringly, that made him yield at last.

He drew a deep breath and turned to the veteran. "Let it not be said zat ve of Dorvinion hev no courtesy. I accept your apology for vat you said in error and beg your pardon for zose words I spoke in anger."

The whiteclad man nodded his approval. "Well said! You really must forgive my countryman's rudeness. We Men of Gondor, who long thought of ourselves as the last and only bulwark standing against the Shadow, should have learned by now that many other people fought their own fight against it no less valiantly, but some of our older folk still see an enemy in every man born east of Emyn Muil." He offered his hand to be shook. "I am Bergil son of Beregond, of Prince Faramir's White Company, and if I can do anything to make you feel more welcome in the City, I will do it gladly."

Coldan took his hand. "Zank you, sir, you're too kind. You hev done enough already." He felt Harrenon nudge him in the ribs none too gently and turned to his companion with a frown, but Harrenon was already addressing Bergil himself.

"Truly you have, sir, but if you're of the Steward's Guard, there's indeed a favour you could do us for which we would be very grateful, if you're willing. You see, my short-tempered friend Coldan here and I, Harrenon of Lossarnach, are members of The King's Players, and our troupe is putting up a play about the War of the Ring for the Cormare revels. Now it has come to our knowledge that some of our sources may have not been entirely reliable, and we don't want to offend any exalted persons that might be attending. If you could spare maybe half an hour, sir, and tell us what you know about the War and the lords and ladies involved in it?" Coldan had never heard such a long and eloquent speech off stage from him before.

Bergil smiled at them. "That I can, and will. I was too young then to fight myself, being but a boy of ten, but I was in the City during the Siege and afterwards, running errands for the healers up in the Houses when my Lord Faramir and my Lady Éowyn were treated there, and that perian, Meriadoc, who stood by my Lady in her fight against the Witch-King; I also got to know the other perian, Peregrin, quite well, and much that I did not witness myself I have since been told by my father, who heard it from the Steward. Let me just finish my dealings with the armourer first."

He collected the knife he had inspected earlier from its shelf. "This is an excellent hunting-knife, Master Angbor; it will make a lovely gift for my youngest nephew. What do you ask for it?"

"Castar and a tharni for you, sir", said the smith, obviously proud of his handiwork but also embarrassed by the scene his friend's rude behaviour had caused. Bergil handed him some coins, tucked the knife into his belt and turned back to the two actors.

"You are lucky - I am on leave, and they will not expect me at Uncle Iorlas's before nine bells. I know a decent tavern not far from here where we can sit down and discuss all you wish to know at leisure over some bread and cheese and a mug of ale or two - or a cup of wine for you, my good Dorwinian. Come!"
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Old 03-22-2011, 09:35 PM   #102
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"Olog and a misses? Hehehe, that Olog was going to make mincemeat out of you boys, hehe." The ancient man was back to his laughter. "Mincemeat meat pies, filled with fruit and eagle eyes!"

Therian sucked a deep breath in and wondered if they should perhaps just slip away unnoticed. Bran seemed to have the same idea. Just as they began to back away, the old man spoke again. "Mighty dry in these parts, is it not? Of course the rain is north on the plains, and west with the horse folk, and of course up north in the Shire, but still, the city seems a bit too dry..."

"Uh," Therian began.

The old man cut him off and lay on the cobblestones to look up at the sky even as he pressed his ear to the ground. "The rain should come, and come much quicker, before the land gets any sicker."

"Bran, we should... maybe... fetch that Captain Formy fellow?"

The pile of rags twitched and sat upright again. "The hobbits are nice boys. Young, of course, but you're all young, you are. That Merry is especially clever, and Frodo seemed a little rash, but then it all worked out in the way that it does."

"It?"

"Of course it. It does. It always is."

"Beg pardon, but what is... it?"

"Life! Or Death, or baby's breath. All the same, ever onward. Old Man's speaking in cruel whispers again, I can hear him even from here, talking of evil things crawling in the dirt. Even with the King, there are still dark places where the sun will never shine, where hands will crawl, where halflings feel swords across their necks. Best keep the halflings out of the holes."

"Sir... Might we... might we help you in some way?"

"Therian, shut it. What did you mean about the halflings and the swords? And don't they live in holes?"

"Smials! Naked walk and naked lie, clothesless hobbits under sky. Ah, look!" The old man stood suddenly, quite spry, and pointed upward. Therian and Bran could see dark silver clouds moving fast on the wind. "I have found her."

With that, the old man tottered off down the road and before the boys could gather themselves to follow, he was quite definitely gone.

Therian swore.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #103
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Since it was clear that Branor and Therian had no intention of returning to the Inn, Amdír bid Captain Formy a good day, and continued on without them. He unhitched the horses from his cart once he reached the inn, and tethered them, before going inside to fetch help in hauling down the first setpieces. As he did so, he could not help but notice six handsome steeds already tethered. From their glossy coats and fine tack, it was clear to Amdír that someone of importance was present, and had a fearful premonition that it might be the new Master of Revels, the Lord Cirdacil.

A bit fearful, for he had not yet determined the measure of the lord, Amdír entered the Inn, hoping he was wrong, and wishing he was still carting his way across the Pelennor.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:59 PM   #104
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Aldarion lowered himself onto the steps and broke the seal on the first of his letters. He looked to be pleasantly surprised as he read, and then his face showed great surprise indeed and morphed into a wide smile. But quite swiftly his grin was replaced by a look of confusion, and upon finishing the letter he quickly folded it and slipped it beneath his shirt into some inner pocket.

His eyes narrowed briefly as he turned his sharp glance to the second letter. With a swift motion he broke the seal and opened it. The suspicion displayed by his countenance was immediately displaced as Aldarion broke into the largest smile any of the players had seen from him since he had joined their group. His smile never completely faded as he continued, but it was tempered by ripples of puzzlement.

After reaching the end Aldarion hastily pocketed the letter and rose to his feet, still smiling just a bit.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:15 PM   #105
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Within the courtyard, Rollan and Amdir--the former explaining to the latter, as briefly and as best he could, what had transpired thus far--had gotten the stage back open, to yield a little more space to the usually cramped waggon. There were now a few chairs, stools, and other props scattered there, and in one of them was seated Brinn, her dress smart and her hair neatly pinned up. There was a very thin smile on her face, which not even the best efforts of her husband had managed to broaden. Asta was there as well, and Sereth, both of whom Brinn had sternly warned not to overreact to anything, and Aldarion as well, who had this peculiar look on his face, as if he were trying and utterly failing to keep a smile from it at all times. She hoped it was for their good, too.

After too long a wait, the Lord Cirdacil rode into the courtyard. "Pardon me for not rising, my lord," said Brinn. "I am unable at this time. Will you please take a seat, and tell us what it is you have come here to say?"
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:28 PM   #106
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Presumably with the help of the inn's long-suffering ostlers and grooms, all six of the guards and nobles who constituted the visitors from the Citadel had got themselves mounted up again as they entered the courtyard. They had broken their fast with expansive satisfaction, and from dawn it had now become almost noon.

From his saddleback, the Lord Cirdacil surveyed the company who had been trooped out to receive him. Clearly, they were still badly under strength; if this Rollan was to be believed, for reasons relating to their "historical research".

Here, at last, was Miz Celebrindal, suppressing her pain with a surprising amount of proud dignity from her chair. Flanking her was Rollan and another female player, whose rudimentimary visual similarity to Celebrindal made it easy enough for Cirdacil to guess she was her sister, even without Sador's perennial helpful whisperings. At either side of this family arrangement stood a child, gripping the sister's hand and looking solemn, and a thin, good looking fellow in respectable clothing. That, Cirdacil thought, will be Amlach's friend. They share the supercilious confidence in their faces, their certainty that they are the best at their frivolous artistry...

Keeping a respectful distance from these five players was the company's carpenter, and Cirdacil's only direct servant here, Amdir.

"Pardon me for not rising, my lord," the mistress of the King's Players began. "I am unable at this time. Will you please take a seat, and tell us what it is you have come here to say?"

"I am seated already," Cirdacil answered briskly, tapping his saddle, "but I shall descend a little if you would rather; since we need to talk about things of importance, no courtesy should be wanting."

Waving one of the subordinate guards to dismount too, the lord got out of his saddle without any great elegance, though he was, after all, a very old man. The chosen soldier supported his arm, and steered him to the most comfortable of the chairs facing the threadbare company. In the background, the young lord and the other three guards, including their leader, still hovered a little awkwardly from their horseback position.

"Well, first," Cirdacil, putting aside further preamble, started, "you may have heard about the circumstances you are performing in this year; the visit of the Perian consul, and of the Court itself. I must immediately stress that none of this is in the least exaggerated. This year, you are all the King's Players indeed. Forget about Bard the Northerner, or whoever your previous patrons may have been; you're about to have to live up to your name's most high-vaunting expectations."

Cirdacil paused to glare at his escort, apparently to ensure all their expressions were suitably solemn, then went on.

"I am, as you perhaps know, the Lord Warden of the Exchequer as well as, more recently, Master of the Revels, so I know with particular accuracy how much gold we can offer you for a successful performance. I am able to extend forty golden castar to be shared among your company, on top of your usual takings, if your performance is pleasing. Furthermore, you will be ratified as the official theatrical company of this city, licensed to play when the King sends for you, and rewarded on each separate occasion."

He had been speaking in a glum monotone while he announced these arrangements, but as he changed tack, he perked up a bit.

"Of course, you may not be pleasing to his majesty and his majesty's guests. And if you are not, it is otiose to add that your play's run will be over. I myself will almost certainly lose my office and responsibility for the Revels." He spoke here in an impassioned tone, perhaps mistakable for panic, though it was, in fact, anticipation. "If you fail, indeed, there may not be any plays in Minas Anor anymore."

Cirdacil now rose to his feet in a peremptory and powerful motion, leaving the guard who had helped him assume his place lagging paces behind.

"And in this regard, you have made a pretty deplorable start. Hardly had your, ah, rehearsing begun, when rumours from the very most exalted of places reached me that many of you were drinking all over town, dragging the city into disrepute before honoured guests in the name of your supposedly sacred art."

Perhaps surprisingly, at this pitch of anger he laid his eyes on the stalwart, loyally attentive carpenter.

"You, Amdil, no Amdir. I was under the impression you were a sensible fellow. Yet you led three other of these poltroons to a low drinking-hole, where they brought shame upon us all, in front of the Perian consul, no less." He snorted with decision.

"I am disappointed with you, sirrah, and I dispense with your services forthwith. Perhaps this company will still adopt you amongst them, if they don't think you more trouble than gain."

He breathed anew, in a more relaxed rhythm, as if with the sense of a task well done, before turning his head back in the direction of the pocket of riders.

"Now, Sador, come forward!"

The young lord trotted nervously up to a level with where his father and the guard were sitting. Cirdacil continued to speak, at last in a rather satisfied tone of voice.

"I gather you've been having certain difficulties with your script, Mistress Celebrindal, Master...Aldarion? yes, that was it, Aldarion. Anyway, I've decided that while this business arangement is forced to endure between us, I might as well loan you my son, Sador. I can spare him for the next fortnight, if I must; I am not a judge of artistic merit, proud indeed not to be such, but my second son is a noted scholar and thinker, and may be able to assist you if you fall into any egregious lapses of taste or decorum."

Cirdacil got up and now stamped back to his horse (again leaving the guard trailing and gawping at the old man's vigour,) while his son lingered.

"It will be an honour to assist," the young man added to his father's last speech. Then, after setting his mouth in a thin frame that proceeds many an ordeal, he dismounted, and shuffled himself forward on his bad leg towards Brinn, putting out his hand.

"Sador of Burlach, Mistress Celebrindal; I am greatly looking forward to our dramatic partnership. I have some small acquaintance with your playwright, by repute," and here he directed a look at Aldarion that almost had awe in it, such was its shy admiration, "and will be, well, quite thrilled to serve any of you in any capacity."

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Old 03-23-2011, 06:20 PM   #107
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How did this man come to be Master of Revels? thought Aldarion. This business of not clearly knowing the name of Amdir- surely if he had done his homework in speaking to the previous Master of Revels he would know Amdir better than that. And so far as being unsure of MY name- well, if he was truly a fan of theater he wouldn't have to cast about for my name. And if he in fact knows my name but simply wished to appear as if he didn't know it- then it was a very low as well as feeble means of promoting his importance while perhaps attempting to impress upon me the low status I possess in his eyes.

Aldarion tried not to roll his eyes. He seems like one of those ambitious political sorts I always hated back in Dol Amroth. But, well, it won't solve anything to treat him poorly or react negatively. The payoff he is offering is considerable, and the patronage of the King himself, well- that is precisely the sort of thing I dreamed of when I joined this group!

Aldarion was pleased when Sador took over the conversation. He was considerably more pleasant than his father. "Thank you for your generous words, sir, and thank you in advance for all the support I am sure you will give us," said Aldarion, and stepped forward and handed Sador a letter.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:42 AM   #108
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"Asta, can you please let go now? It hurts," said Sereth in an agonised whisper.

It was only then that Asta realised that under the strain of her valiant struggle to obey Brinn's orders and not say anything whatever at any point in this extraordinary meeting, she had been slowly tightening her grasp to the point of all but crushing the girl's hand.

She tried to keep her hastily muttered apologies out of the ears of the Master of Revels' son, but to no avail, judging from the quick, amused look he gave her.

Asta bristled at what she took to be the first sign of Sador's belittling aristocratic ways.

She really did not at all like the fact that they would have to deal with a noble at such close quarters– particularly not one who was sure to interfere with everything they did, and maybe force all kinds of unwelcome changes to the script. Who knew what would please a "noted scholar and thinker"? As if people like that ever went to plays in the first place! And then, the young lord was badly lame, and, by the way he dragged his leg, suffered from something much more lasting than a sprained ankle. That added a wholly different kind of awkwardness to the situation.

Asta just stopped herself from grimacing. Things were going to be very tricky in the days to come, very tricky indeed. True, they were not being marched off to prison, or likely to be, and instead had been offered a chance at success beyond any but her wildest daydreams– if all went well. There was the rub. Asta had already begun to imagine all the things that might not go well. With her naturally suspicious mind, she guessed there was much more to Lord Burlach's fair offer than appeared on the surface.

She was troubled, too, by this mysterious business of Aldarion's. Asta had always known, in a vague sort way of, that the playwright had what Brinn called "connections", but it was a different matter to see the proof before her eyes that he was not in truth one of them, but belonged in some measure to the remote world of lords and captains. And then, what could be in those letters? She would have to find out, whatever else might befall.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:54 PM   #109
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Harrenon and Coldan were now heading back to the inn, after a very intriguing talk with Bergil. Their new acquaintance had proven himself very helpful, asking few questions and readily accepting to give them whatever information they required. He told them many things about King Elessar, of whom he spoke very highly. He fondly recalled the first time he had seen the King in the Houses of Healing, just after the battle on the Fields of Pelennor was over. As a matter of fact, Bergil spoke about the King with a sort of reverence that seemed much more than the formal respect a subject is taught to have for his lord. Harrenon guessed there was a story behind that too, but he said nothing about it. Bergil also told them quite a lot about Eowyn and gave them some information about Boromir and Denethor too. All in all, they had done what Brinn had sent them to do. They had found whatever information they could about the Men that had been involved in the War of the Ring and it had come from a very reliable source.

“We did well, I should say,” Harrenon commented to Coldan. “I think we have all we need, don’t you?”

Coldan nodded to confirm this.

“Of course,” he added. “Ve vill have to change half the script, now.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Harrenon admitted. “Even more, if what the others find also does not match with what we already had.”

The two arrived at the inn without any incidents. Therian and Branor had not yet returned, but all the others were there together with Amdir.

“It’s good that you are all here,” Harrenon said in greeting. “We have quite a lot to tell you. We seemed to have a rotten luck when we first did research for this play. I am sorry to say this, but most of what we have thought was true is actually wrong.”
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:28 PM   #110
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Sereth listened to the old man with a serious face while secretly regretting she had childishly taken Asta's hand, for the woman was squeezing her fingers numb. "Asta, can you please let go now? It hurts," she whispered rather urgently. The woman let go and whispered an apology at Sereth's direction, which the newly arrived young noble smiled at.

Sereth didn't get it though. She definitely didn't like the old nobleman - all nobles are like that, Aelin would've said but she had been gone for years now - and what on earth was he doing making his son interfere with their play on top op everything else? Sereth was sure the man would ruin Brinn and Aldarion's work - as if there hadn't been enough trouble already.

"I don't get it," she said to Asta in a voice that was intended to be a whisper. "What's happening? Why was that old self-important... piece of nobility blackmailing us?"
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:21 PM   #111
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Brinn thanked Cirdacil for his time, and turned over his statements in her head as he left. Oh, he was a politician, that was for sure, and though what he said was mostly harmless--only raising the stakes from what she had all but concluded from the news of the previous night might be the case--there had to be something going on behind it all. Did that Sador have something to do with it? Or the letters Aldarion had received? And what about firing Amdir--whose name he couldn't even get right? She pinched the bridge of the nose--she did not understand politicking!

"I don't get it," Sereth said, in what Brinn normally called a stage whisper. "What's happening? Why was that old self-important... piece of nobility blackmailing us?"

Blackmail? They were already like to get in trouble if they messed this up. "I don't get it either," said Brinn quietly. "But things aren't as bad as you might think! Why, if we can pull this off, we'll have such money--and a steadier income, though I hope His Grace will think it fit that we travel, as well. And if we're booted out by those who think they're too good for us? Why, there are still so many other cities in Gondor, not to mention the Northlands, and we could even perform at the Pelennor, for that isn't part of Minas Anor, is it?" She thought a moment. "In fact, if we decide that the Revel-Master's terms aren't acceptable, we could move outside the City now. That wouldn't stop us from the King's displeasure, but it'd keep us out of Cirdacil's reach." Of course, he had already planted one of his own among them, and Brinn knew what that meant, but perhaps he could be reasoned with? He was young...

She sounded a good deal more confident than she felt, but... well, that might be all that was holding them together at this point. She hoped the others came back soon, and that they had been fruitful in their research.

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Old 03-25-2011, 05:39 AM   #112
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Asta felt like slapping the silly child– who was not such a child, if it came to that. Certainly she was old enough to know better. What a thing to blurt out in their present company!

"What are you talking about, Sereth?" she said, in her own, intentional, stage whisper. "I'm sure good Lord Burlach only means to spur us to do our best. He is the Master of Revels, after all." That was for Sador's benefit: he could hardly have failed to pick up Sereth's words, spoken as they were in the penetrating little voice that always carried so clearly to the back row of the audience.

When she risked a glance at the young nobleman she saw that he was smiling again, but somehow that did not reassure her at all. There was something inward and ambiguous about that smile. This Sador– Asta frowned, trying to recall where she had heard the name before– this Sador might be less haughty than his sire, but he would definitely bear watching.

She had a more immediate concern, anyway. "Brinn," she said quietly, "what about Amdĺr? Whatever happened, exactly, I have to say it was much more likely our lot were the ones who behaved badly– don't you agree?"
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:29 AM   #113
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The sound of the hooves of Lord Cirdacil's escort taking off back to the Citadel could still be heard outside, though young Sador lingered yet in front of the players. Having introduced himself, he inclined his head to the whole company in a small bow, before backing to his own horse and clambering back on it.

He was no longer the only centre of commotion, as the two returning actors, Coldan and Harrenon, had rushed through and were explaining themselves before their leader.

"Well, gentles all, I have no wish to intrude amongst you," he said, giving Asta in particular a polite, assured look, "so I shall just go and settle with Ingold a permanent stall for this brute, and fix myself up a room, too, where I can lodge here without disturbing the rhythms you have already set in place. We shall see each other at your next rehearsal, which I am intensely looking forward to..."

With a thin but inclusive smile, he turned his mount and left the players, for the moment, to themselves again.
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:43 AM   #114
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Branor was pondering and muttering about the old man. What did that riddle even mean? Therian was thinking about something too, but it wasn't about the hobbits.

"I suppose we should head back now." said Branor.

"Go back? Where?"

"To The Risen Loaf of course!" exclaimed Branor. Therian was suddenly more alert. Did Branor really want to go back to Mistress Fea's shop? No. It turns out he was having fun with Therian's distracted mind "Back to the Inn. Where did you think I meant? Yes. We will be back in Ingolds Inn. Back to see Brinn. To tell her all about our hobbitin'."

"I like the crazy man's riddles better." grumbled Therian.

"Yeah." he laughed "Me too."

On their heavy walk back to the Inn, the two players went over exactly what they discovered about the four hobbits. Yes four, as Merriadoc the hobbit, was Lord Merry, and not Lady Mary the Elf. It was mostly Branor talking and Therian agreeing though.

"Do you think we should tell her most of this is coming from a basket case?" asked Therian.

"Erm, not exactly." Branor was uncomfortable out right lying to Brinn, but thought partial truths were harmless enough. "I think we tell her this came from an older gentlemen, who we feel had an astute long-term memory. Nothing with the other business about his missing wife."

"Ok." said Therian. He had continued walking as they were now back to the Inn, but Branor grabbed his shirt sleeve and pulled him back. There were unfamiliar people talking to Brinn and company and from the looks of things it was serious.

"Who do you suppose they are and what do they want with our troupe?" Branor whispered. He was concerned it may have something to do with their fight with Olog, since one of the men looked of the important sort.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:15 AM   #115
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Amdír was not normally given to drinking midday, but he had also never been fired before, and at his age the new experience seemed to call for some sort of celebration. That being the case, as soon as Lord Cirdacil had withdrawn, Amdír made his way to the inn's tavern, and sat down to breakfast: a pint of ale.

It might be thought that since Amdír was normally deeply respectful to anyone with superior authority that he would take Lord Cirdacil's decision with the same unconcerned deference as he would a direction from Brinn or a direction to move along from the Tower Guard; however, this was not the case. The truth is that Amdír's deference to those in authority was the result of a deep-seated belief that because they held great powers, they had a responsibility to those under their power to be just.

Lord Cirdacil's abrupt termination of Amdír's service with the Master of Revels was not, in any way the carpenter could see it, just, and coming so swiftly upon his assumption of the office, Cirdacil's reputation was ruined forever in Amdír's mind, whereas Lord Hallas, who had proved himself a good man, if frivolous, over the course of several years, would probably have been forgiven the matter.

Amdír supposed that if he were to sue for justice from King Elessar that he would find the matter redressed, such was his faith in the essential goodness of those in power (and it did not escape the carpenter's memory at this time that Cirdacil of Burlach was said to be of lowly birth), but he was not so blissfully trustful of royal justice that he did not know that Cirdacil was a powerful man, and that if he were forced to take the carpenter back into his service, he would find other ways to make Amdír and the Players suffer.

No, Amdír would leave the matter be, and now that he was no longer in Cirdacil's direct service, he would probably never have to deal with the man again (Amdír no longer thought of his as "Lord"). He was undoubtedly going to get an earful from his brother-in-law and children about losing a position with the offices of the Tower, but no hard times would come of it. Amdír had become a servant of the Master of Revels because he had already worked several years in Lord Hallas's household, and although he had ceased working there for the duration of Cormarë, he was expected to resume his duties once the play was over. Financially, Amdír did not need the Tower's money, but the insult of firing him rankled, and it was an honest vassal's grudge that he nursed as he sat alone in the tavern, as well as a slowly diminishing tankard of ale.
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Old 03-25-2011, 04:43 PM   #116
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Brinn answered to her concerns while Asta dismissed them as silly - well she didn't say so but it was quite clearly in her tone. When the woman turned and started talking with her sister, Sereth stuck her tongue out at her. She knew it was childish but she felt justified in doing it.

It was not that she didn't like Asta - she did, she had adored Asta and her dragon when she had first joined the King's Players, but lately the woman had also started to irritate her. She seemed to forget Sereth was now already 12 - almost woman grown - and not a mere nine year old girl like when she and old Aelin had joined the troupe. Also, Sereth did not understand why all the men liked her so much, it was not that Asta was not pretty but she was not a stunning beauty. And even now she was flirting with the newcomer. Maybe she thought no one would notice but Sereth did.

The newcomer, however - without forgetting to smile at Asta but that went without saying - excused himself and hurried away. Now what is he up to? Sereth wondered. Nothing good I think! Since nobody seemed to be needing her, and half of the troupe was missing anyway, Sereth decided to slip away for a moment to follow the stranger, but stealthily.
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:50 PM   #117
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"I agree," Brinn told Asta, "but we did give them time off, and I daresay the troupe behaved no worse than a Guardsman on leave." She sighed. "Poor Amdir. If we pull this off, I suspect that the Master of Revels will forget he ever fired him, but if we don't... It is a good thing we all have a say in the script; otherwise I'd fear much more for this Sador fellow." She mused for a moment, and an idea suddenly came to her. "You know, there have been official revelries up in the Citadel for years, ones that the King himself must surely have approved! Mightn't there be an official account of the way things happened? If only we had a way of getting up there..."

Rollan, in the meantime, had followed Amdir to the common room, and, genially, insisted on paying for the man's drink, and a meal for both of them to match. "After all," he said, "you're on our pay for now. And maybe just as well, for I'd hate to work for a lord who won't let his men drink on their time off." He paused. They oughtn't get in more trouble with this Burlach for drinking, but drinking--so long as it didn't interfere with work or the performance--was part and parcel of being a Player in the city. "One moment," he said. "I have an idea." Rollan got up and sought out Master Ingold.

"I have an idea," he told the innkeeper, "and let me see if it works for you. Can you offer your ale here at a reduced rate for us Players?" He held up a hand to forestall any cynical response. "If you do, I promise you we'll make sure the Players only drink here, and we'll empty the bar after the performance as well. Oh, and--if any one of us, myself included, gets drunk before that time? Kindly dump a bucket of cold water on his head, and send him back to the waggons. We'll deal with him there." It took some haggling, but Ingold consented, and Rollan returned to the table a very happy man. Brinn would be proud of him for that kind of thinking. "So," he said, clapping Amdir on the back, as if he were one of his old friends from Dale, "how does it feel to be your own man?"
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Old 03-26-2011, 09:19 AM   #118
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"So, how does it feel to be your own man?"

Amdír would have preferred to purchase his own "breakfast," since being dismissed from his job had made him touchy to demonstrate that he needed no charity--and certainly didn't need King Elessar's gold after it had passed through Cirdacil's tainted hands--but he accepted Rollan's offer in the spirit in which it was intended, and while he felt it was unnecessary, he was grateful for the friendship it indicated. Besides, Rollan was right about being Amdír's new "master," insofar as employment went, and he wasn't about to gainsay him.

"I am not sure how I feel," he admitted. "I am still in the partial employment of Lord Hallas, and will be expected back in his household once Cormarë has passed, so I do not know that I truly am my own man. But I am wroth with Cirdacil of Burlach, and want to see the Players succeed now more than before, if only to demonstrate his poor judgment."
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Old 03-26-2011, 10:22 PM   #119
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Now that words had been exchanged, in person and in writing, Aldarion was prepared to set to work researching the facts of the Ring drama. After a quick visit to his room to change, groom, and jot down a few notes, Aldarion made his way to the common room.

He approached the table where Rollan and Amdir were sitting, but did not sit. "Rollan- while in Minas Anor I had planned to pay a visit to a couple of old captain friends my father made during the war. Now that we are tasked with correcting our production, I thought that I should still proceed with my social agenda, only now coupling it with my investigations. It is quite possible they could offer a useful tidbit or two."
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:10 AM   #120
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It seemed that Sador had been perfectly honest about his next few activities; they were so humdrum that if his discreet pursuer watched her quarry carefully, she would soon detect that they bored even him. He tracked down the much-harrassed Ingold, still unrested since his startling encounter with the Guards of the Citadel and fresh from a wearying negotiation with Rollan. Both the innkeeper and the lordling, then, seemed tired as they exchanged routine sentences. Sador did not bother to haggle over the price either of the stable or his new room. His father might be a professional money man, but either this son was less interested, or, for the moment, he was occupied by even more important concerns.

Having surrendered the stallion's bridle to Ingold and received his key in exchange, a large thing of plain, undecorative pewter, he began, just as he had announced he would, to trace his way to the lodging. He leaned often against the wall as he moved his inelegant, slightly painful way along. Sereth would notice that he was carring a satchel-like carrier at his shoulder, most likely for clothes. It did weigh him down, but also balanced the motion of his bad leg a little. For some reason he did not, as many invalids did, make use of a stick; he didn't even carry a sword, only a dagger in a finely enamelled hilt.

Sador had paid for the largest unoccupied room on the ground floor, anticipating that he would find the stairs beyond him. He now unlocked it, flung his pack as far as he could inside - it fell with a soft fthlumpf, confirming the idea that it contained only clothes or maybe papers - and followed it in. A larger crumpling sound and a bouncing spring would indicate that he had thrown himself on his bed, fully dressed even to his boots, to pause and think.

He had left his door ajar...

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