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Old 01-07-2009, 08:37 AM   #401
Folwren
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Saeryn, as happy and excited as any other bride, was not completely insensible of the feelings of Rowenna. As Rowenna came to her, she half regretted choosing her and forcing her forward so, for Rowenna’s expression looked as though she did not wish it. She had hoped to strengthen their relationship and prove that all things were behind them, but she now feared that perhaps it would work oppositely. Hopefully Rowenna was not jealous.

Saeryn embraced Rowenna in an excited but sincere movement. She squeezed her tight and then stepped back and looked at her. Amidst the clapping and approving crowd of people, she knew they had bit of privacy, for no one could hear their words. She kept her hands on Rowenna’s shoulders and looked at her gently.

“Are you alright with this, Rowenna? You do not mind?”
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:22 AM   #402
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Degas

He felt warmth flood him at the look of sheer joy on his sister's face, yet at the same time he felt... cold. Distant. He felt the lonely tragedy of a poet in love, with the love of his life within riding distance, yet at the same time she seemed so distant as to be on the far side of the water, far away in the West.

He loved his sister, and he wanted her to be happy. He was joyful that she was happy, and to wed a man like Eodwine was as much, if not more, than he had ever asked for her. He would love her, and care for her, and they would be friends and partners as well as husband and wife. Saeryn would be safe, and she would have a home which was her home, which she presided over, in which she was so much more than a mere woman.

Yet that she should be wed this very night, when his fast approaching dawn meant telling his intended that their wedding would be, yet again, delayed, meant that Degas felt nothing less than envy.

Eodwine, friend and brother that he had become, would tonight become a husband. Again.

Saeryn would be joyous, would tomorrow and henceforth carry herself with the pride and knowledge of the depths of womanhood.

And tonight, and for many nights, Degas would sleep alone.

Last edited by Feanor of the Peredhil; 01-07-2009 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:05 PM   #403
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Frodides gave Modtryth a long look. "Wrong? Of course not! Stop fretting, girl."

Modtryth winced. She, a married woman and a mother, was still sometimes called a girl by the old cook. She knew she should not mind for Frodides was her friend and meant nothing bad at it and she had been called so many so ugly names before... "I was just wondering," she replied. Frodides gave her another long look. Modtryth did not venture to guess what the old woman was thinking about. A strange, slightly uncomfortable silence fell.

Just at that moment there was a tremendous applause and cheering. Modtryth glanced at Frodides and smiled. "Come, let's go and see who has won the quarterstaff fights - surely you can leave your foods for a while?" Frodides gave her cookings a thoughtful look. "Come on!" Modtryth pressured, now grinning. "Oh, alright then, you win, but just a short while. It would be a disaster to ruin the meal for such a great day as this!" They rushed away, Frodides still sighing and shaking her head.

When they arrived where the others were, everybody had suddenly fallen silent. They could hear Lord Eodwine's voice: "Lady Saeryn, I have something to ask you." The two women exchanged glances. "Good timing, my friend - now it comes," Frodides whispered, and when Eodwine proposed, they cheered with everybody else. And they cheered more when Saeryn agreed, and even more when Eodwine shouted his love to the world.

"No need to get emotional," Frodides told Modtryth, who was, despite herself, actually wiping her eyes to her sleeve. Modtryth smiled at the older woman and she could swear her eyes weren't dry either. She started laughing. Frodides started laughing too.

"What are you laughing at! Did they do something funny? I want to see!" Leoðern sounded uncharacteristically impatient. Modtryth picked the little girl and lifted her to let her see better. She met Saeryn's beaming eyes when she looked around the ring of people.

"I choose Rowenna as my first lady!"

Modtryth cheered again with everyone else. It was a fair choice, forcing Rowenna to aknowledge her place in the household and forcing others to acknowledge her. When hugging Saeryn, she did not seem so happy after all. Well, not my business, Modtryth thought, and simultaneously, Where is Cnebba?
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:44 PM   #404
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Cnebba was, in point of fact, with Garmund and Javan, concealed, as it happened, by some rocks, jutting out from the scar. The boys had sought some privacy to work out the result of their bet, away from the noise and celebration of everyone else.

“Well,” Javan said, with some triumph, digging his hands deep in his pockets and puffing his chest out. He cut directly to business. “I guess that means you’re my slaves for the next week!”

Garmund and Cnebba looked at each other, and Garmund spoke, his eyebrows drawing together. “What are you talking about? The bet was if Thornden lost you’d be our slave for a week.”

“Yes,” Javan nodded. “But Thornden didn’t lose. He won the games.”

“Thornden was hit three times in that last round and was removed from the ring!” Garmund said. By his voice, it sounded as though he couldn’t believe there was any argument on the matter. “Nothing is clearer but that he lost!”

Javan’s hands came out of his pockets and his chest deflated a little as he made an exasperated sigh. “Must I explain everything to you simpletons? Thornden and Eodwine were a team - and if their team won, then it is clear that Thornden is the winner.”

“Their team didn’t win,” Cnebba put in. “It was a draw. Eodwine didn’t fight it all the way out, so even if you think that Thornden being kicked out of the ring isn’t losing, he didn’t win the last fight, so you’re still our slave.”

Javan’s eyes were flashing now. “Eodwine called it a draw because he knew that he would win,” he said fiercely. “Thornden did not loose and I will not be your slave for a week!”

Last edited by Folwren; 01-11-2009 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:22 PM   #405
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When Erbrand returned from camp, he was in better spirits. The anger had been burned out of him and he felt at peace again. Even though Erbrand was feeling at ease he did not forget his threat to Thornden. It was a major blow to his pride and that wound would not easily heal.

He had expected to be late for the sword fights and hurried to across the scar, but upon reaching the other side Erbrand found the group cheering and laughing. Confused, he sought to see what who or what was at the center of all this and found that it was Eodwine and Saeryn. He smiled as he guessed why the group was cheering, but he had to make sure. Quickly glancing around him he saw Kara clapping her hands and cheering enthusiastically.

"Kara, what does all this mean?" he said coming up to her. "Are the eorl and Saeryn to be married?"
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:10 AM   #406
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Kara had hardly sat down since the end of the sack fight. Throughout all of the quarterstaff battles she was on her feet cheering on all the competitors - though one in particular. She hadn't had a chance to see Erbrand before the fight, there had been too many people clustered around her congratulating her still on the sack fight victory, and when she had seen him he had been talking to Thornden. Assuming that since the two spoke rarely the conversation must be important she had left them to it. Neither had she been able to see him after the fight, and this had concerned her a little. Whether he had won or lost Erbrand had always returned to her side so far and yet now he seemed to have entirely disappeared.

"He cannot feel ashamed of being beaten," she thought as she stretched up on her toes to try and catch sight of him above the crowd, "after all he was against Thornden, a trained soldier. To have got as far as he did is an achievement!"

She had almost made up her mind to go and search for him when Eodwine's proposal and Saeryn's acceptance drove all other thoughts entirely from her mind. The happiness on the faces of those she considered friends warmed Kara's heart, and she dared to hope that one day her happiness might be as certain as theirs seemed to be.

"Kara, what does all this mean? Are the eorl and Saeryn to be married?"

The voice from behind her made Kara jump, but she laughed in recognition even before she turned to see her questioner's face.

"Erbrand!" She cried. "Now where have you been? It must have been an important errand to miss all this excitement." Without waiting for an answer she rushed on. "Yes the Eorl and Saeryn are indeed to be married by the end of the day! A fitting end to the celebrations don't you think?"
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:11 PM   #407
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Erbrand smiled at the explanation. It was only right that Eodwine should be married, it would bring him much more respect and order besides brightening up his day to day life. Both were gentle and kind and for what one may lack the other would more than make up for.

"Yes it is good news! Tomorrow will be a new day for the Scarburg, and a happier one at that. Yet only one thing could make me happier..."

Erbrand was cut off by elevated voice of Lithor. The soldier had been whispering into the eorl’s ear and had just gotten the approval for the conclusion of the games.

“Ladies, gentlemen quiet down,” he began, seeing as his first attempt had gone unheard. “We are all very glad at out lord, and his soon to be, wife’s decision, but there is unfinished business to attend to: the sword fights must be fought!” There were more cheers that drowned Lithor out again; he stood there shouting until he calmed most of the people down. “I apologize if I am seeming hasty, but I am sure that we all are looking forward to the wedding and the sooner we get this done the better...” again the crowd drowned Lithor out and he started motioning with his arms and shouting for everyone to remain silent, but it was no use. The crowd began to shift back towards the fighting grounds, and Lithor threw up his arms and took off after them.

The day was becoming so dark that Erbrand was almost certain that this last game would be forfeited. He began to shift around with the crowd until he realized that Kara was still waiting for him to continue his unfinished thought. Erbrand realized his mistake and jumped back through the crowd back to Kara.

“Kara!” He said half laughing at himself. “With the wedding tonight there will be dancing, and I was wondering if... well, if you have promised the first dance to anyone?”
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:42 AM   #408
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“Thornden did not loose and I will not be your slave for a week!” Javan's eyes were flashing.

Cnebba was in no mood for compromises and neither was Garmund.

"Three hits and one is out, loses. Thornden got three hits, so he loses!" Cnebba almost screamed at the older boy.

"So you're not only a rule-breaker but also an oath-breaker?" Garmund added taking a step to come right in front of Javan's face. He stared at Javan defiantly.

"Now get off me!" Javan shouted and pushed Garmund to the chest to make him back away.

Garmund was indeed wishing to avoid yet one fight with Javan but he had no time to do anything about it when Cnebba rushed on to tackle Javan.

"And a bully!" Cnebba shouted and ran on to Javan grasping him from the waist with both hands and trying to make him fall with the little momentum he had gathered from that short distance.

"Cnebba! No!" Garmund yelled but it was too late.

Javan fell to the ground with Cnebba but managed to turn over him. Garmund jumped to Javan's back and started tearing him from Cnebba while Javan was trying to land a blow on Cnebba's face. Garmund got hold of Javan's right fist at the moment Cnebba got hold of his left hand which was trying to hold him still. Cnebba buried his teeth on Javan's hand. Javan howled with pain freeing his hand from Cnebba's teeth.

The three boys rolled on the ground in a tight fighting bundle dealing blows and throwing curses around.

***

Stigend had been following lord Eodwine's sudden and unexpected proposal from close by when Javan's howl of pain resounded over the field. Everyone heard that.

"Javan!" Thornden yelled worriedly and sprang towards the direction of the howl. Stigend followed suite with Garstan.

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Old 01-17-2009, 07:07 PM   #409
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A few moments later, practically the whole of Scarburg was gathered the large circle that had been used for the quarterstaff matches, eagerly anticipating the exciting conclusion to the day's games: the sword fights. Nearly all the men were involved: the Gondorians, that dark wanderer fellow, and even their own eorl. It was also rumored that young Ginna had been admitted to the contest - which was the subject of much gossip and tittering. There were not a few matrons who found the whole thing grossly inappropriate, but, curiously, it was the eldest members of the community, those who had lived through the most war, who were least surprised.

"Will the contestants present themselves in the ring!" cried Lithor, standing in the center of the circle. One by one, Garstan, Stigend, Degas, Eodwine, Crabannan, Erbrand, Balvir, Matrim, Dan, Aethelstan, and Ginna all stepped forth from the crowd. "Take for yourselves of these blunted weapons," he said, "And a shield also."

The swords were those traditionally used by Rohirric knights: about three feet long, broad-bladed and straight, with large pommels and short, sturdy hilts. These were swords for cutting, designed with the mounted soldier in mind - but they would serve well-enough for a contest on foot. The shields were all identical: round and wooden, but bossed in steel. This done, Lithor outlined the rules and order of the matches.

"The rules," said Lithor, "Are similar to the quarterstaff matches. To eliminate your opponent, you must score three hits against them. Do not strike your opponent upon the head! If you do, you will be eliminated. You will also be eliminated if you step outside this ring. Is this clear?"

The contestants nodded their assent.

"Then, dear observers, please step back from the edge of our ring! Let the contest of steel commence!"

The first round went by quickly, as the ranks were thinned and Dan, Crabannan, Degas, Eodwine, and Matrim proceeded to the second round. Lithor had decided, due to the odd number of contestants, to start Ginna in the second round rather than the first, and so the second round began with Ginna fighting Degas.

Degas seemed somewhat bewildered at having to fight a woman. It clearly went against his chivalrous grain, and rightly so, but he abandoned his reticence when Ginna swung beneath his high guard and struck him hard on the hip, scoring the first point. Degas' pride was bruised and thereafter he showed no remorse in delivering his very best feints and cuts upon Ginna, unless it was in some slight softening of his blows - a favor which Ginna did not return. Though Ginna matched him blow for blow, Degas scored two hits against her in rapid succession and was moving in for the third when Ginna rattled him from head to toe with a cut that glanced off the rim of his shield and struck him on the head. The crowd gasped and Ginna threw down her arms and rushed to over to the stunned Degas to make sure he was unhurt. Apart from a headache, he was, but Ginna was eliminated all the same. If she cared, she did not show it - and neither did Harreld, grinning from ear to ear as he caught her up into his arms as she exited the ring. Side by side, they watched the rest of the contest, though to tell the truth they paid more attention to one another.

Crabannan fought Dan next. Both were natural warriors, crafty and hardened, but Dan was at a distinct disadvantage here. He had beaten Erbrand in the first round, for Dan was not easily tired and Erbrand was both exhausted and a stranger to the use of swords. Crabannan was another story, for the two were equals in terms of constitution and craft; there was no trick that one could pull that the other would not anticipate. They even matched each other in quickness, but unfortunately for Dan, Crabannan had the advantages of size and reach and this ultimately gave him the victory.

The following match was a source of much excitement (and not a little country pride) among the Scarburgers, for their eorl was fighting the Gondorian, Matrim. To their delight, Eodwine managed to beat his opponent. Both were veteran soldiers and the match was long and hard, but Eodwine's steady, careful style served him well as he played it safe and waited for Matrim to make mistakes. Nonetheless, the count eventually came to 2 and 2, and Eodwine won with a sudden burst of strength and speed at the end. For a moment, the contestants were a whirl of dust and flashing steel until Eodwine's dulled blade struck home on Matrim's left calf. Matrim knew he was beat and held up his hands in defeat. The audience erupted into spirited applause, with shouts of "Scarburg! Scarburg! Our eorl!"

Because there were now three contestants remaining, it was determined that the third and final round would consist of all three fighting each other at once.

"But first a brief respite!" proclaimed Lithor, and bid Degas, Crabannan, and Edowine catch their breath for a few moments.
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:34 AM   #410
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Rowenna

“Are you well with this, Rowenna? You do not mind?”

Saeryn was asking in that way she had, right to the heart of the matter, seeking the truth of things. This is what Rowenna liked so much in her. She smiled. "There is no one for whom I would rather be bride's maiden than you."

And it was the truth. For there was no one else she knew for whom she would do this thing, at all. Still, her words had been heartfelt and she need do naught but what she was asked, for all eyes would be on Saeryn anyway, and that was as it should be, and she was glad of it.

As Eodwine made ready to be part of the sword fights, Rowenna and Saeryn walked hand in hand to the fighting circle, surrounded by the Scarburg folk. Rowenna was content to bask in the glow of Saeryn's joy.

Harreld

To see Lord Eodwine's joy was for Harreld a clearing of his heart and thought more greatly than ever before. His smile was so wide it almost hurt; for many years he had not been apt to it, until he had chosen to be free with his heart toward Ginna - and that had been rewarded many times over. And so he gave thought that mayhap his own wedding would at last not be so far off. That in itself was a great new thought, for only a few moons ago he had resigned himself that it might never happen.

She was applauding, delighted, then looked up at him with shining eyes and squeezed his hand once, meaningfully it seemed to him, and applauded some more. His eyes went wide and his smile felt as if it might crack his face. She was thinking the same thing! His heart was full and he let out a whoop of delight, which he was glad could be taken as his joy for their lord and lady.

Then the sword fights began, and his Ginna was to be a contestant. This was almost beyond belief, for she seemed so small and delicate to him. Yet when she went up against Degas, it became clear to Harreld that she was well trained, though her size told against her. His heart swelled with pride. She had a good eye and a good hand for the sword, which spoke very well of her bloodline. What a brood of strapping warriors we could make! he thought.

Her glancing blow on Degas' head took her out of the match, but that had half been Degas' fault, and Harreld was more than pleased. When she came back to his side she was breathing hard but looked exhilarated. He took her hand in his.

"You are every bit as much a shield maiden as our king's sister!" he cried.

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Old 01-18-2009, 06:07 PM   #411
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After a short break, the crowd and the final three contestants were summoned once more to the fighting circle by Lithor.

"The final contestants are Crabannan from the North, Degas of the Folde, and our own Eorl Eodwine!"

The last name was met by many cheers and hurrahs - the crowd clearly favored their eorl, who met their applause with a smile and lifted sword. Crabannan was grim and dour as usual as he sized up his opponents and hefted his shield. If he felt jittery or nervous, he showed no sign of it - unlike Degas, who seemed possessed by an anticipatory energy. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and looked tensely from Crabannan to Eodwine to the crowd and back again.

"These three will fight each other at the same time, each for himself and against the other two. Any man hit thrice will be eliminated and the last man in the ring wins!" announced Lithor. "Now, warriors - ready!"

The three combatants moved to pre-marked points in the dirt, forming a kind of triangle, all at equal distances from each other. Crabannan cracked his neck, Degas set his jaw, and Eodwine took a deep breath. The crowd was tense.

"And begin!"

Nothing happened immediately. The fighters made no move and the crowd barely breathed. A cloud shifted overhead, hiding the sun for a brief moment. A eagle shrieked high above and in another part of Scarburg, a horse whinnied. A soft breeze blew the scent of August grass up off the plains. For a moment, all was still. Then Degas made a sudden rush at Crabannan, the reverie passed, and they were away! Crabannan was too crafty to be taken by surprise, and stepped back with his left foot as the younger man came at him. Then with his shield upon Degas' back, Crabannan threw the other past, cutting the backs of his calves as he did so.

"One against Degas!" cried Lithor. The crowd cheered.

Degas stumbled, but was up again and whirled around just in time as Eodwine, seeing the opportunity came on strong from the left, aiming a blow for the shoulder. This Degas easily blocked by raising the rim of his shield - but instead of attempting to cut back at Eodwine, he instead lunged away, at Crabannan again. Crabannan, however was not there. He was attacking Eodwine now, and the two were hammering back and forth like two dwarves at an anvil (or like two Rohirrim at arms, as the case may be) - once, twice, and again.

As Degas leapt at Crabannan again, he noticed that Crabannan used footwork and shield-wards that were almost identical to Eodwine's, which surprised him very much, for Crabannan was known to be from the very far north. He had no time to be bemused, however, for he was immediately forced to negotiate the point of Crabannan's sword which suddenly presented itself before him. He struck down furiously with his shield and swung across his body with his own sword. Crabannan ducked his head to the side, avoiding a blow which would have cost Degas the game, and took a step back, a little surprised at the fellow's tenacity and fire.

Crabannan watched as Degas whirled at Eodwine, who was lunging at Degas' exposed sword-arm, which was pulled back and high and the last moment. Degas aimed a kick at the forward edge of Eodwine's shield, but Eodwine was too much a veteran to be taken in by such an old trick and merely stepped back, putting Degas off-balance. He struck out with his blade and caught Degas on the right shoulder.

"Two against Degas!" cried Lithor enthusiastically. Some in the crowd cheered, some groaned.

But Degas was not done. His shield flew up and dashed against Eodwine's out-stretched sword just as his sword smacked soundly against Eodwine's side.

"One against the eorl," remarked Lithor. The crowd had nothing to say.

But Degas still not done. He shoved Eodwine with his shield, ducked, spun on his right foot and lunged catching Crabannan hard on the right leg. The latter staggered back and winced visibly.

"One against Crabannan!" The crowd roared with delight at Degas' trick.

Crabannan was himself again in a moment. He renewed his guard. Degas, of course, now found himself in between his two opponents and hurriedly stepped out of the way. There was a momentary pause in the action, for Degas was now forced to be more cautious and Eodwine was still recovering from being nearly thrown in the dirt by Degas. Eodwine had noticed Crabannan's momentary stagger, however, and remembered the limp with which the raven-haired man had walked into Scarburg a month ago. He was an honest man and not given to taking advantage, but he was wise enough to play against his opponents' weaknesses. Crabannan, it seemed, had one.

He renewed his attack against Degas, who was nearest him, determining to finish the young fellow first and then to move upon Crabannan's apparently weak right. Shield forward, Eodwine pressed hard against Degas, aiming blows wherever he could. With a quickness that the older Eodwine could not match, Degas brought his shield across his body and suddenly back again, catching the back rim of Eodwine's shield with the boss of his own shield. Thus locked in a shield bind, Eodwine could do little but attempt to disengage towards Crabannan. It was too late however, and Degas had already cut him on the back and thrown him aside.

"Two against Eodwine," said Lithor. The crowd groaned.

Eodwine recovered quickly though and let the force of the throw carry him towards Crabannan, who was now moving with a definite reticence and even - he fancied - a limp in his right leg. Keeping his shield between himself and Degas, he dashed hard at Crabannan. His first cut at Crabannan's arm was deflected by the other's shield and his second cut, which was aimed at Crabannan's shield-shoulder, missed by an inch. Crabannan retreated half-heartedly beneath the onslaught, doing his best to ward off the blows with his shield and keeping his right leg well out of harm's way. Eodwine cut low this time at Crabannan's now exposed left leg, just beneath the lower edge of Crabannan's shield.

"Two against Crabannan!"

Eodwine flicked his eyes back toward Degas - and not a moment too soon, for Degas was swinging at him with sword and shield combined, apparently in an attempt to over-power him. Eodwine countered with a slash of his sword that came close to Degas' midsection and caused him to halt abruptly. The eorl swung back with his sword, meaning to catch and fling back Crabannan's inner shield-edge, thus presenting the Northerner's midsection as an open target. To his surprise, the shield was not there. He looked up at Crabannan, and, even as he brought his sword around and prepared for a powerful blow that would surely cause the dark fellow to collapse up on his bad leg, he found himself staring into a pair of knowing eyes and a grim smile. His puzzlement increased - and then his mighty blow came up short against the hilt of Crabannan's upraised sword. There was not a stagger, not a flicker of pain or weakness in Crabannan's eyes and then Eodwine realized he'd been fooled.

Eodwine was only permitted a brief instant for surprise, because Crabannan had suddenly whirled to Eodwine's left, out of reach, and headed for Degas. As Crabannan turned, he thrust his own shield hard against Eodwine's. He then lunged at Degas, who dashed the blow aside with his sword as Eodwine slashed at where Crabannan's back had been exposed a second before. Degas' sword flicked around and returned the lunge. Foiled by Crabannan's instinctive side-step, he allowed his momentum to follow though into kick, as he tried again to dislodge his attacker's shield. This time he succeeded and Crabannan's shield-arm was flung up, out, and back, but Crabannan was too quick to let this slow him down. He let the shield go, and it spun away into the dust, at the same time tossing his sword into the air. As Degas slashed violently at Eodwine and then prepared to execute a quick blow back at Crabannan's chest, Crabannan seized Degas' sword-arm with his now free right-hand. Pulling him close, Crabannan caught his own sword in his left hand and struck Degas with great force upon the thigh of his right leg - almost exactly where Degas had hit Crabannan earlier. Then, receiving insult upon injury, Degas found himself sprawling in the dust. Crabannan had tripped him.

"Three! Three against Degas!" hollered Lithor, and the crowd echoed the cry, indeed, they nearly screamed themselves hoarse, for they had never seen anything like this in their lives.

"Degas is out!" cried Lithor.

Degas rolled away and exited the ring, but Eodwine and Crabannan paused not a moment, for the heat of battle (such as it was) was upon them and they were both seasoned warriors. As far as they were concerned, the battle never stopped, and if you asked either of the afterwards, they couldn't remember a thing Lithor had said. Without blinking an eye or taking a breath, Crabannan leapt over Degas, twisting around to face Eodwine as he did so. As he came down, Eodwine flung his own shield at Crabannan's feet and sprang into the attack with a quickness that surprised even him. Crabannan was tripped and fell quite flat - but turned a somersault and came up with his sword at Eodwine's throat.

A stunned silence fell abruptly. The horse neighed, the eagle screamed. The crowd dared not breath. Then, as the crowd went suddenly wild, and as Crabannan and Eodwine's eyes met for the second time during the fight, they both smiled. Broad, boyish, irrepressable grins, followed by bursting, side-shaking laughter, as Crabannan leapt nimbly to his feet and Eodwine furiously shook his hand. Lithor's voice was drowned out entirely as the crowd swarmed about the two contestants, caring not a straw that their favorite had been beaten by the melancholy Northerner.

"Three against Eodwine! Crabannan has won!" shouted Lithor, leaping on a log and waving his arms. "He's won! He's won!"

And so he had.
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:32 PM   #412
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Lithor

As the crowd pressed closer around the duelers, Lithor nudged his way out of the mass. He breathed a sigh of relief as he forced himself between the last couple of people that separated him from the elbowroom that he so desperately wanted. When Lithor was free of the crowd he looked back to see Crabannan lifted upon the shoulders of the people. Lithor chuckled and gave one last cheer for the participants, the duel was by far the most exciting game yet. As he walked to back to the soldier’s encampment Lithor was soon overtaken by Balvir and Matrim.

“What did you think of the fight?” asked Matrim, the young man was bobbing back and forth between Lithor and Balvir as if he meant to box with them. “I though it was very exciting to say the least, but Balvir here begrudges Crabannan his victory.”

“I only said that I didn’t care for the fellow and...”

“And that you suspected foul play.” Said Matrim, finishing Balvir’s sentence. The older guard grunted with disgust.

“It isn’t right, letting an outlander get the best of our lord, it just is not right, Anyway, I suspected that Eodwine let him win, it isn’t like Eodwine to show off in front of a crowd.”

Matrim laughed and skipped ahead of the two until he entered the living quarters fro the soldiers. As Balvir and Lithor entered Matrim was sitting with his feet propped up on the table with a smile on his face, the kind that a cat gets after it has just stolen a gallon of cream.

“Say what you like my friend,” continued Matrim. “I say you’re just upset because you didn’t have the sense to place your three gold pieces on Crabannan, like I did.” Lithor burst into laughter when he heard this and gave Balvir a sympathetic pat on the back before he moved over to the water barrel. The embarrassed, and now slightly red faced, Balvir remained silent while Matrim and Lithor had their laugh.

“Laugh it all up Matrim I voted for Eodwine because I am loyal. I wish I could say as much for you.”

“A fool and his money are soon parted,” said Matrim with an unfading smile. “I guess that makes you the loyal old fool.” Matrim started to laugh.

Balvir threw up his hands and sat down adjacent to Matrim. “Oh, put a lid on it!”

Lithor had been listening to the conversation while bringing out the three’s best clothes, swords, and armor. He then placed them on the table and went to fill a basin with water.

“Oh no!” Matrim said jumping up from his chair. “It isn’t wash day already!”

“No, not yet,” laughed Lithor as he poured the water. “But you could certainly use a bath.” Balvir nodded in agreement and looked at Matrim. “I’d appreciate that.”

“But not today,” interrupted Lithor. “We haven’t the time. Our lord is getting married and he’ll need an honor guard. We can’t go to a wedding looking as we are right now.”

“I would never have guessed that Saeryn would be Eodwine’s choice.” Balvir said thoughtfully. “Strange how things work out.”

“Say!” exclaimed Matrim with a note of glee. Balvir scowled as he saw his companion was about to change the subject.

“Weddings call for feasting and games! Do you think that we’ll get another day off of work on the marrow? Perhaps we will have more games to fight in!”

Lithor laughed gently at the young soldier’s enthusiasm. “I certainly hope not.” And with that said, Lithor began to gently splash his nose with water

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Old 01-24-2009, 11:39 AM   #413
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Thornden, Stigend, Garstan, and the Three Boys

It is impossible to say whether the boys really meant to swear, or if they were actually aware that they were doing so, but when the two fathers and the older brother came tearing about the cropping of rock and heard them, all three of them were rather shocked. While Thornden ran to Javan, Stigend grabbed Cnebba by the ear and jerked him back a few feet so that Cnebba's feet barely touched the ground. Cnebba whined from pain. They were able to stop the fight, but unable to stop the war of words.

“You pig! You liar!” Cnebba shouted furiously as he strained against Stigend’s hands. “You’re no eorling, no matter how hard you try! They don’t break oaths, and you have!”

"Language!" Stigend shouted to Cnebba while Thornden was chiding Javan. "Watch your language, young man! You're not one in a position to say such things to Javan!" It was clear Stigend was furious. Stigend was just about to slap Cnebba when Garstan intervened and took hold of Stigend's free hand.

Thornden and Garstan immediately recognized where the pain came from - Stigend, used to hearing his son and his wife talked down all the time, was shocked to hear such words from his own son. They both paused, unsure of what to say. Javan had no such delicacy.

“What would you know?” Javan answered Cnebba, spitting blood and a tooth out of his mouth. “You’re nothing but a half-bred Easterling!”

Thornden boxed his ear and shook him sharply. “Stop that!” he hissed in Javan’s ear, furiously. “Don’t you dare say such a thing!”

"Calm down, everyone!" Garstan shouted and looked at Thornden and Stigend. They both loosened their grips on the boys and straightened their backs. The tension eased slightly.

"They said something about an oath-breaking. Now that is a serious thing. Maybe you, Garmund, could tell us more about that?" Garstan said, turning towards Garmund. Suddenly the focus changed and all the eyes were fixed on Garmund.

Garmund instinctively took a few steps backwards, away from the gazes, and mumbled something no one could hear.

"Let us hear it, Garmund," Thornden said, now quite calmly.

Garmund backed a step more and then paused. "It was just a bet, nothing important... really," he managed to say and immediately frowned looking clearly as one who had revealed something too much. Cnebba and Javan looked at him, their eyes flashing.

"No it was not... or..." Garmund tried but then fell silent.

The adults exchanged looks.

"Most people who mess around making bets lose all they have with it. Now, you three should not get used to that. You should earn what you have. Chance may be a nice lover but she's a terrible mistress when she turns her back to you." Stigend sounded dead-serious and all the boys looked downwards.

Garstan took Garmund by the shoulder firmly letting him understand there was no way off from it this time.

"What was the bet you had? Answer me!" Garstan's voice, which was rarely raised, was loud and clear right now. "What was the bet? Answer!"

Garmund tried to pull a brave face but he soon lost his calm and started to tremble and cry.

Cnebba broke free of Stigend's grip as his father was paying more attention the reactions of others than to him, and took the few steps to be in the center.

Cnebba bit his lip before opening his mouth.

"Javan boasted that Thornden would win the fight and that no other would stand a chance against him. And we made a bet if Thornden was winning or not. And as..." there Cnebba took a pause gathering his courage. "... As master Thornden was called out in the middle of the final..." Cnebba finally breathed in, "...he lost... And Javan here refuses to admit it." Cnebba swallowed hard trying to keep his calm and everyone saw he was having hard time trying it. "Thornden was called out from the final and so he did not win the game. But Javan refused to admit that and so we won him with the bet!"

The adults glanced at each other once again. Winking at Thornden and receiving an accepting nod from him, Garstan addressed Javan this time.

"Now what was that bet about, Javan? And is Cnebba right in saying you denied your bet?"

“No. He is not right. I would call him a liar, if that were allowed.”

“It’s not,” Thornden warned quietly.

“I have not refused my bet, but I do disagree that Thornden lost.”

Thornden settled all doubts. “I lost - at least in the sense you were speaking of. Crabannan defeated me in the ring, and you had boasted that I was the best. You were proved wrong. So, now that that’s settled - what was the bet?”

The boys all paused. Garstan glanced about, looking impatient. “Speak quickly - Stigend and I are in the next games.”

Javan adopted his old, sullen and stubborn look. Now that it came to it, he didn’t want anyone to know. “It wasn’t for money or for anything else like that. Since you all think Thornden lost, we can settle it from here.”

“I think perhaps the boys should come back with us,” Thornden said, addressing Stigend and Garstan. “We don’t want any more trouble today, what with the wedding and all this evening.”

The two fathers agreed, and mostly against their will, the three boys were escorted back to everyone else. The sword contest was about to begin and Stigend and Garstan made off through the people to join the contestants.
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Old 01-28-2009, 06:30 PM   #414
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Erbrand

With the termination of his participation in the sword fight, Erbrand was finished with the long day of games. It was actually fun to be beaten by Dan, a man whose skill with the sword was as evident as Erbrand’s skill with the bow. The two parted as friends from the field. No hard feelings, although Erbrand felt a little disappointed at losing his chance to face Crabannan or Thornden, who unexpectedly didn’t fight, but there would be time for all that later.

As Erbrand exited the field, with the victory of Crabannan, his heart was intent on finding Kara. The question he had posed to her was cut short by the beginning of the sword duels and she urged him to go lest he be disqualified. He would not, however, let his question die so easily. There she was!

“Kara!” he exclaimed to her, and his walk turned to a jog. It seemed to Erbrand as if he was always running to her side. “My participation in the games was cut short, it seems, by my inexperience with the sword.” he said in response to Kara’s sympathetic expression. “But I don’t care, I don’t care about anything in the world anymore!” Erbrand’s countenance broke into a smile, and he laughed for the sake of happiness itself.

“Kara, I left you with an unanswered question. I pray for you to please dance with me tonight, I can think of no better ending for today.” Erbrand’s mood suddenly became tame after this. The thought suddenly occurred to him that she might not even want to dance with him. Fool, don’t force yourself on her, give her a choice!

He backed a step or two backwards with the sudden feeling that he was crowding Kara. A smile still lit his face, but it was nowhere as bright as it was.

“That is, of course, if you have not promised your hand to... uh, I mean your first dance to someone else.” Erbrand’s face grew redder by the second. This surely wasn’t the best way to win over Kara for a dance. Why must she delay with this waiting? It’s becoming more unbearable by the second.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:53 AM   #415
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Randvér

Finally, Scarburg.

It was late, much later than Randvér had planned. He had originally intended to come to his friend Eodwine's new estate when he and his household had first relocated to it. He had planned to help them get settled, but more importantly, he was to find out for himself how her daughter had been. Ginna had been under Eodwine's care for months, and he wanted to know if the arrangement had yielded the effect he desired.

Randvér had not been without news of his daughter's doings. Eodwine had informed him of the near-escape of the outlaws he held captive back in the old mead hall. Ginna had been taken hostage by one of these outlaws while she worked in the kitchen. She had been found by Eodwine and his men held at knife-point, but later managed to returned the captor's favour and held the knife to his throat. Eodwine had to invoke his authority over the girl to stop her from killing the outlaw. Randvér had shaken his head at his daughter's wayward deed when he heard of it, but in truth he felt a bit proud of her courage.

He also knew of the fire that decimated the old mead hall's stables. The accident had no casualties apart from a single horse, but Eodwine had been kind enough all the same to let him know that his daughter was safe.

He felt, however, that the more important things he should be aware of were hidden to him until he saw her face to face. He did not want to think that Eodwine would neglect to tell him anything he ought to know, but he could never be sure of his daughter. May it not be that she had managed to convince Eodwine to leave out significant details about her in his correspondences. Or worse, that she had somehow outwitted the eorl and kept her misbehaviour secret. Now he would find out.

Randvér was aware of the festivities taking place in Scarburg, but he thought his daughter would most likely be confined to her work. And so he made his way to the kitchen, wondering to himself along the way if perhaps she could have been forced to work during such a time as punishment for some misdeed. He tried to shut away the memory of her first day in the eorl's service, but in his mind's eye he could still see her bending over broken dishes, and shuddered to think that it still continued to happen until the present.

It was not, however, the sound of crashing earthenware that greeted him in the kitchen, but of two women chatting together as they worked. Neither of them was Ginna. He inquired of them of his daughter's whereabouts.

"Outside, probably screaming her lungs out while watching the games," said the older woman without looking up at him. He recogised her as the cook, Frodides. "You only need to follow the noise." Frodides then lifted her head towards Randvér. A look of recognition almost immediately appeared in her face.

"Much thanks," Randvér said and quickly stepped out, hearing Frodides exclaim, "That man, that man is Ginna's father!" behind him. He caught the noise of a crowd and followed it to its source. He found his way around people towards the centre of the gathering and searched keenly for Ginna, careful not to be seen by her.

There before him, to his amazement, was a sight that he could only be imagining. The girl had her back to him, but he could recognise the blonde hair, the deceivingly willowy figure, the proud stance anywhere. He ought to, particularly the last, for she had learned it from him.

The crowd of onlookers were too focused on the odd, unbalanced fight to notice him. Randvér finally chose an unfamiliar face whose eyes seemed to exude frankness. This, he surmised, could be a man who would tell him whatever he needed to know.

"This is an unfair match, wouldn't you think? But the lass seems determined to make it last. Pray tell me, who is she?"


Ginna

"You are every bit as much a shield maiden as our king's sister!"

Ginna said nothing, instead taking a few more deep breaths. "You flatter me, Harreld," she finally gasped, "The way I fought, no one could ever have mistaken me for anything but a woman."

"You speak the truth," replied Harreld, "because you're too beautiful to be mistaken for a man."

Feeling the sweat drip down her flushed cheeks and her long hair in wild disarray, Ginna wondered if Harreld was lightly mocking her. But looking up at him, she saw that his eyes echoed the words he had just uttered. She smiled shyly and suffered to be led by the hand back to the match.

She glanced at Degas, who stood a bit to the side watching Dan and Crabannan fight, with a look of intense interest in his face. Ginna felt very pleased with herself, having been able to stand her ground against such a strong man despite her lack of practice. Yet amidst the satisfaction she felt, she could not help hearing distant echoes of disappointment. Even in his absence, Ginna knew that Randvér would find anything less than victory unacceptable.

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Old 02-01-2009, 12:24 AM   #416
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"That? That is Ginna. She works in the kitchens and is loved by the smith; that is all I know," replied Crabannan, with his eyes still on the fight. "She fights well, but Degas will beat her. He is too fast and wild."

"You seem very certain," said Randver, with a little indignation in his voice.

Crabannan glanced over at this man who had struck up a conversation with him. He did not want to talk, but he disliked being gainsayed even more. "You doubt me? Wait and watch, fellow. I know what I am talking about."

Randver felt a little annoyed, and somehow vaguely insulted. "Indeed? And you are...?"

Crabannan turned to face Randver and said nothing, but for a moment simply looked him up and down, taking him in, assessing his character and strengths and weaknesses. At first glance, the stranger looked like every other Rohir Crabannan had ever met: tall, yellow hair, blue eyes. It was always possible he had fought alongside the man during the War, but if he had, he could not immediately remember it. Crabannan sometimes wondered if the men he met here were in fact old war-companions of his from when he had fought in Rohan. He hoped not, and he hoped they would not remember him if they were. He frowned and furrowed his brow.

"I am a man who knows the sword, who has spent his whole life on the sword. I've fought for five kingdoms and survived countless battles. I've killed more men than I can count. I know the sword better than a man can know his own child and can tell the end of a fight before it's begun. Watch and wait, fellow. Any moment now, the kitchen-girl will make a mistake."

Crabannan turned away and said no more.
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Old 02-04-2009, 08:28 AM   #417
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Randvér

The man turned and paid no more attention to him, and it took some of Randvér's willpower to keep from arguing. But there was the risk of the argument turning into a noisy fight, and the last thing he wanted was to gain unwanted attention, so he stepped away from the man and focused on the match - at least his eyes did. He could see the fight going on before him, and even agreed eventually to the stranger's assessment of its outcome, but something else was foremost on his mind.

The stranger had mentioned a smith, that Ginna was loved by the smith. The words kept eating at him, and the deep-seated mistrust he had for his daughter was awakened. What did his daughter do this time? How come Eodwine had never mentioned this to him? He was relieved that no other name had come up when he expected more, but . . . there seemed to be an exclusivity in the relationship as the stranger had said it. A smith?

Then came a loud clang of sword on helmet, and the match was over. Ginna ran over to her opponent, who assured her he was fine, then she left the ring and made her way towards a big, burly man. Randvér's instinct told him this was the smith in question. His fear was confirmed when the man had taken her hand in his.

Randvér could not bear to see more, not at this time. He made his way to the back of the crowd where Ginna and the smith would be out of his sight. He would wait rather impatiently for the sword fight matches to be over; he needed a word with the eorl. And, perhaps, with this smith.

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Old 02-04-2009, 10:58 AM   #418
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Eodwine

Eodwine shook Crabannan's hand.

"I am glad that you are one of us, Crabannan! I would not want to face you in war. But now I wish that we had added to the games using our spears while on horse, but the day wanes and I have a handfasting to accomplish!"

With that, Eodwine looked for Saeryn and Degas with the intention of speaking to them of what should be part of their rite. Before he found them he spotted a familiar face in the back of the crowd.

"Randvér! Is that you? Welcome, my friend! You could not have chosen to come on a better day!"

Rand did not appear to be in the best mood, but that did not trouble Eodwine, for his friend was often dour and prone to seeing the dark side of a matter. He was a fast friend and that overbore any flaws. He grabbed Rand by the hand.

"How do you fare?"
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:46 PM   #419
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Randvér

"I am well," replied Randvér as he shook Eodwine's hand firmly. "I apologise for not having come sooner; I had to attend to my own matters for a while."

He thought this was hardly the place or the time to delve into his dealings for the past months, and was thankful that Eodwine did not pursue the topic. Nevertheless he swiftly shifted Eodwine's focus away from him.

"But my friend, you look better than I have seen you in years! I can think of only one way you can explain this, and what you said earlier that I could not have come on a better day."

He looked knowingly at the eorl, who could then no longer stifle a grin.
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:43 PM   #420
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"Indeed, this is a day of days for me," Eodwine replied happily. "Come, meet my bride to be. I am to be married today."

Eodwine led Rand to Saeryn and introduced his old friend to his wife to be. Speaking of her thus to his friend suddenly brought the strangeness of it home to Eodwine: this lass who was young enough to be his own daughter, was about to become his wife! He looked past her young face into her smiling eyes and saw in them the spirit that had sparked his interest in the very first week of their aquaintance though he had not allowed himself to see that as love at the time. He turned to Rand.

"Yes, I know I may be accused of robbing the cradle, but she is-" he tried to find the words that expressed the unity he felt between them and found phrase after another to be trite or lacking. "-she is as right as right for me."

He grabbed her hand and lifted it to his smiling lips, and held her eyes with his own.
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:02 PM   #421
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Saeryn laughed happily. She laughed at Eodwine’s comment of robbing the cradle, and she laughed at knowing that she was his chosen one. Her eyes danced with joy, inclined to dance even more the longer he gazed into them.

They were forgetting something in their joy. Without really wanting to, she broke the gaze and glanced around. She saw Randvér standing by. “Eodwine!” she said. “You are forgetting your guest!” She pulled her hand out of Eodwine’s and took his arm instead so that they could both face Randvér together, side by side.

"Will you stay and celebrate with us, sir?" she asked.

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Old 02-08-2009, 04:08 PM   #422
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He was afraid to speak, but the silence kept getting increasingly unbearable. Kara seemed to be lost in her thoughts. Whatever it was, Erbrand worried that she might not have heard him.

"Kara," He asked, sitting beside her and taking hold of one of her hands. "Are you alright? You don't seem to be yourself. If this is a bad time, or I have spoken out of place in my boldness, say the word and I will leave. I can always return later."
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:49 AM   #423
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Upon Saeryn's query whether Rand would stay to celebrate, Eodwine insisted that he stay the night and maybe more. Rand replied that he intended to at least stay the night.

"But I wish to find my daughter," Randvér said.

"Stay with us and you will find her," Eodwine replied blithely, "for we seek Harreld about a sword, and where one finds Harreld, Ginna is sure to be near." Eodwine looked at Saeryn and so did not see Randvér's deepening frown . "You and I have a rite to plan, and with all haste! Let us find Harreld, and Degas and Rowenna and anyone else you think we need, and sit down together and plan it out, before the sun goes down!

"Come to think of it, I rather like the idea of hanging lanterns all around and having a twilight wedding, what think you, Saeryn?"

They began to walk arm in arm, Rand walking with the eorl opposite Saeryn.

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Old 02-12-2009, 09:21 AM   #424
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“I do not think we could have any other sort of wedding, Eodwine! Daylight will fail more quickly than you imagine - we have so many things to prepare! Can we not have torches, instead of lanterns? Or perhaps both. Let’s hang the lanterns, as you said, and have people bearing torches as we...as we do the hand fasting.” She pressed against Eodwine with a shiver of excitement while she said the words. She did not know how to contain her joy and excitement.

“We should ask Modtryth to help!” she said with a sudden idea. “She will know how to go about preparing everything and will make things so much simpler!”

They were drawing close to Harreld now. He was talking with Ginna, their heads bent low together as they sat beside each other, and neither of them saw the three approaching newcomers.

“Once we finish here, I will go and find her,” Saeryn said quietly to Eodwine and then became silent as they came within speaking distance to Harreld.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:29 AM   #425
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Harreld

Harreld was the first to notice Eodwine and Saeryn and the unknown man, for Ginna was eagerly telling him a story of her childhood. He gestured to her with a glance at the approaching three, and rose. Ginna rose with him. Suddenly he felt her hand in his, trembling. Was she that excited about the wedding?

"Good greeting, lord and lady, and you also sir. I am Harreld the Smith, and this is Ginna." He felt Ginna's hand squeezing harder.

"This is Randvér, Ginna's father, Harreld."

Harreld lost his breath, and stared. Her father? He felt his knees shake, for the man was glowering at him with undisguised displeasure. Involuntarily, he let go of Ginna's hand as if caught in the act of theft. He dared not look at her face this moment.

"What can I do for you, sir?" he asked.

"Saeryn and I need a sword for the wedding," said Eodwine, still unaware of Randvér's unspoken wrath. "I am to give her mine from my father, but she needs one to give to me. Have you any good swords in your trove, or do we need you to make one?"

"Um - ah - I - I must go see. Straight way!" He took one step in a bee line toward his smithy to get out of this most uncomfortable situation.

"Do not leave yet, Harreld the Smith," said Randvér.

Harreld stopped in his tracks and backed up, feeling embarrassed, and stood next to Ginna again. He glanced at her now: she was terror stricken. A bit of anger stoked in his belly that he had been so cowed by this man, and that he instilled such fear in his own daughter. He grabbed Ginna's hand and held tight.

"What can I do for you, sir?"

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Old 02-17-2009, 02:02 PM   #426
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Kara had to laugh. Erbrand had been changing pace around her at the drop of a hat all day, and now she knew why. His enthusiasm for the games had been so infectious and consuming that she had never even realised that he was building up to a question, and now here it was twice!

“Kara," he had said after bounding toward her after being knocked out of the games, "I left you with an unanswered question. I pray for you to please dance with me tonight, I can think of no better ending for today. That is, of course, if you have not promised your hand to... uh, I mean your first dance to someone else.”

And now again he had gone from joyful to apprehensive. Kara hoped that it hadn't been her laughter that had caused the change. Ginna had commented on the effect of her mirthful nature on Erbrand already but that atmosphere around her was so up beat that she had entirely forgotten until she saw his face fall. She realised that he probably thought she was trying to figure out a way to let him down gently, despite the fact that this was the furthest thing from her mind. In an effort to make amends she smiled instead and took his hand.

"I have promised neither my hand nor my first dance to anyone, Erbrand, so if you would like to dance then I would be glad to dance with you. Does that answer you question?"
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Old 02-18-2009, 10:38 AM   #427
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Erbrand

Dancing! Erbrand felt like lifting Kara off her feet and dancing with her back to camp. Of course it would be highly irregular, but why not?

"Wonderful!" He joyfully exclaimed. Suddenly his arms lifted from his side and swiftly, yet gently, seized Kara and lifted her off the ground. Together, they twirled three times with Kara looking down on him. Erbrand laughed and wished that he could keep her staring down on him forever in this fashion forever; Kara floated majestically in the sky as if she were some transfixed goddess. However, Erbrand soon relinquished his hold on Kara and slowly let her down. For a moment, which seemed much longer than it was, Erbrand thought he could guess what Kara was thinking by looking into her deep blue eyes.

"Then, most gracious lady Kara," Erbrand was wearing a broad grin and bowing low. "I most humbly offer my arm, and if you so wish, please accept it and stroll with me back to the camp?"

~~~~~~~~~~
Lithor

Lithor, along with Balvir and Matrim, emerged from the tent in their finest armor. The Gondorian pair wore almost the exact same things; both had on shirts of black leather bearing the majestic image of the White Tree. Under the leather tunic, both had on hauberk’s of steel rings out to the mid point of their upper arms and down to their knees. Ceremonial swords were at their sides, contained in sheaths of shining steel. The only difference between them was that Balivir wore a blue cape that embraced his shoulders, signifying his superior rank over Matrim.

Lithor’s garb was simple, but no less impressive. He too wore a hauberk, extending to the same lengths as Balvir’s and Matrim’s, but his was of iron and did not shine in the fading light as did the Gondorian steel; instead, it matched the brown, leather, shoulder pads and platebody. His leather platebody bore the image of a muscular horse of the Riddermark. A sword hung at his side and the hilt was laced with gold; an impressive reward for service to king and country. Lithor held his helmet. It was like that of most Rohirrim, except that a plume of horse hair was allowed to be placed on top.

The boisterous behavior of Matrim and the jolly nature of Lithor matched the usual mild manners of Balvir: austere and expressionless. The day of play was over; it was time to show reverence and respect to the Lord Eodwine and the soon to be Lady Saeryn.

“What do you know of weddings?” Balvir asked Lithor, continuing a conversation in that they were having inside the tent.

“Not much I’m afraid. I have only attended a wedding once back in Edoras, but that was between peasants and very simple. We will need lots to be done that’s clear, but what things; this wedding is to be much grander than the one I saw.”

“When in doubt ask!” Matrim stated. “I’m sure that Lord Eodwine would keep things as simple as possible, seeing as how he did not make his engagement known until half an hour ago.”

“Besides,” said Balvir, “We are not Eodwine’s personal servants, we are soldiers; this wedding business should be left up to the womenfolk. Saeryn should know what needs to be done, let’s ask her.”

The three headed back to where all the commotion was, expecting to find Eodwine and Searyn there. Matrim was sent off to find Wilcred and the other soldiers for help, when they found that Eodwine was not back at camp. Lithor and Balvir split up and agreed to meet back at the camp in five minutes.

~Five minutes later~

Balvir was waiting with Matrim, who had found the other soldiers, by the time that Lithor had gotten back.

“DId you find anything?” Matrim asked, though his tone was depressed seeing that Lithor came back alone.

“I found Saeryn with Eodwine, but they seem to be preoccupied at the moment. It seems that Randvér has returned. Do you remember him?”

“Ginna’s father?” Said Balvir in a startled tone. “That old man will be like a wet blanket on the camp’s cheer. Especially now that Harreld and Ginna are beginning to get cuddly again.”

“Randvér is already talking to Harreld; Eodwine and Saeryn were with him.” Matrim gave Balvir an amused look while Balvir scowled. “Anyway,” Lithor continued, “I didn’t think that it was an opportune time to ask Saeryn about the wedding.”

“That’s great,” Balvir said it in a sarcastic tone, “now what are we suppose to do?”

“Why not ask Modtryth?” Lithor pointed towards the kitchen where Modtryth was talking with Frodides. Matrim ran to them and respectfully interrupted the conversation. He then brought Modtryth to Lithor.

“Good evening ma’am. We have a problem that I hope you can help us with.” Lithor said this with his usual smile and gentle words. “tell me, Modtryth, what do womanfolk want in a wedding?”

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Old 02-22-2009, 08:42 AM   #428
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Modtryth suppressed a wince. Here was this slick Lithor once again, but his question wasn't a stupid one.

"Most of the things, I assume, will be taken care by the groom and the bride an their families." She paused there. Saeryn's and Eodwine's families? There was nothing of them except for Degas here. She pushed that thought away. If they needed help with the familial things, they would ask.

"Then there are some matters like the dressing the bride and baking a cake..." Here Modtryth glanced at Frodides, wondering if she and Kara would manage to make one on such a short notice, "...with which you can hardly be of any assistance."

Modtryth paused and a silence fell.
"So there's not anything we can do?" Matrim prodded.

"In fact, there is something. We need some decorations. You should go and cut some fresh branches of trees, and find flowers too, blue ones if possible, and then hang them around the place. I will show you how, and Ginna may be of assistance as well."

Suddenly the thought of the three soldiers picking flowers started amusing Modtryth. She grinned. "You can take little Lèodern - she's here - and the three boys with you. They can pick the flowers while you cut the branches."

"Oh and one more thing. I assume you know better than to chop down Eodwine's favourite trees," she laughed.
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:26 PM   #429
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The delight in Erbrand's face when she agreed to dance with him filled Kara with joy. She had never deliberately hurt him but he was a man quick to misunderstand a conversation on occasion, and she was glad that at this particular time he had understood her entirely. Despite that she had not been expecting to be picked up and twirled around!

"Aah!" She had squealed when his arms suddenly wove themselves around her and squeezed tightly, even then not realising that he was going to lift her. When he did with such ease she simply threw her head back and laughed. It had been a long time since anyone had acted so freely with her, indeed the only person she could recall spinning her like this was her father, and she didn't mind the comparison.

When he had spun his joy out Erbrand finally put Kara gently back on her feet and gave her the biggest beam she had ever seen from him and she had to laugh again when he executed a flourishing bow in front of her.

"Then, most gracious lady Kara," he said, and his voice was for once fully confident, "I most humbly offer my arm, and if you so wish, please accept it and stroll with me back to the camp?"

"Well of course I will." Kara replied, linking her arm through his. "Lead on!"
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:09 PM   #430
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Eodwine

"What can I do for you sir?" asked Harreld.

Randvér paused. Eodwine coughed uncomfortably into the breach.

"Well, it appears that you have something about which to talk," he said, glancing at Rand, Harreld, and Ginna in turn. "Saeryn and I will leave you to it, for we have much to prepare very quickly. Harreld, see me when you are done here and we will talk of the sword."

He and Saeryn left arm and arm.

"You and I need to go find Modtryth and have her take charge of the things we cannot. And then we should talk to Frodides to tell her we need no cake on such short notice, but she may do whatever she wishes and no more. Does that please you?"

"Well enough. I hope your friend Rand deals not too harshly with Harreld and Ginna." She looked over her shoulder with a worry in her eyes.

"I have watched Harreld change lately. I think he can handle himself. He is no mere lad, but a man full ready to fend for himself and another should he choose."

They came upon Modtryth who had apparently just dismissed Balvir, Matrim, and Lithor to some duty or other, Léoðern in tow.

"And where have you sent them off to, Modtryth?" asked Eodwine.

"To pick slender branches and flowers for your wedding bower."

"Ah, yes. Speaking of which-" Eodwine said, but stopped, deferring to Saeryn with a gesture.
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:51 PM   #431
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Saeryn took her cue and left Eodwine’s arm to capture Modtryth’s. She drew her aside and Eodwine followed them into a corner where they clustered together to discuss plans.

“It will be dark before we have started,” Saeryn began, “so Eodwine and I have agreed to have lanterns and torches. We were wondering if you would help set things up and direct everything as they should go?”

Modtryth agreed with enthusiasm and Saeryn smiled gratefully. She and Modtryth sat down at the table. Eodwine stood beside Saeryn.

“Let us have the wedding on this side of the scar, but beyond the building, so that the area is clear and away from the camp. Do you think we should hang the lanterns in a circle, or put them in long rows?”

This began a swift discussion where Eodwine and Saeryn’s ideas flowed freely, intertwining with each other. Modtryth took the ideas and modified them as necessary to fit what they could actually do, offering some ideas as they came to her. They talked for only about ten minutes, being aware of the very little time they had, and then they parted ways to deal with the tasks that they were all appointed.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:24 PM   #432
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Eodwine

Modtryth hurried off to take care of the things Eodwine and Saeryn had placed in her capable hands.

"Shall we go talk to Frodides?"

Saeryn nodded and he took her arm in his.

As they walked toward the baker, Eodwine glanced at Harreld who was talking with Randvér; Ginna looked very nervous. Harreld's expression was unusually dour. Could it be that Rand did not approve of Harreld for his daughter? Maybe he was reflecting the likely mien of Rand. Eodwine looked away and glanced at the face of his bride.

She wore a contageous smile. It was very, very good that he could walk arm and arm with her now without embarrassment over what folk might say. It was still amazing to him that he, now over forty, had on his arm a young lady half his age who was his bride to be. What chance had brought this wonderous oddity about? How had he become so lucky?

"What are you thinking?" she asked.

He was about to reply, but then became curious about how she saw him.

"Why, what look do you see on my face that you ask?"
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:26 PM   #433
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Erbrand

His arm was accepted as Kara grasped his arm and gave a warm smile. They stepped slowly, reluctant to go anywhere fast-Erbrand was quite content with having Kara to himself. Eodwine was off with his soon to be wife, strange how things worked out. Erbrand never would have guessed that his lord was after a wife; he wondered how things would change-he hated change-nevertheless, everything would change.

As Erbrand pondered in content silence what the wedding would mean to his future, Kara leaned closer and whispered, “Who is that man over there?” The man was getting on him his years: white haired, with a peaceful expression, the kind of complexion that mirrored the wisdom of many years.

“I can’t say that I know,” responded Erbrand, “some lone wanderer I reckon.” Kara squeezed Erbrand’s arm and gave him a pleading smile. She did not need to say anything Erbrand was curious as well; this time he let it overcome his formal character. He smiled back at Kara and steered in the direction of the stranger.

“Hello there,” Erbrand raised his left hand in friendship (his other arm was still being held by Kara). “You’re a stranger here,” he stated the obvious, letting the man know he was noticeable. “My name is Erbrand and this is Kara. Do you plan to stay here long, or do you have any news of any important events happening in the world?”
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:54 AM   #434
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Eodwemer

"Greetings to you, Erbrand and Kara, and well met," Eodwemer nodded. He gave them the name he used among the Eorlings. "I will stay for a little while as long as I am deemed useful. As for events, the King in Gondor gains strength and peace year by year as one may expect, and there is news from Edoras that an heir to the King of Rohan is on the way."

Kara expressed her delight and Erbrand smiled, watching her. It was clear that the man was completely smitten with the maiden, and she seemed willing enough to be wooed.

"It pleases me to have come just in time for the handfasting of your eorl. I wonder," he allowed a small smile, "if there are soon to be others?" He nodded toward the two of them meaningfully.
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Old 03-05-2009, 02:11 PM   #435
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"Why, what look do you see on my face that you ask?" Eodwine asked.

“Well,” Saeryn said, tilting her head a little as she thought. “It might be hard for me to pin-point and actually put into words.”

“Try,” he said, smiling. She looked up at him and caught the humor glittering in his eye.

“That’s it!” she said to herself, and out loud she formed her thoughts into words. “You get a certain look on your face, at least when you’re thinking about something good: a half smile, or something, and your eyes start to sparkle, kind of.” It was harder to form into words than she thought it would be. “It sometimes looks as though you wanted to say something, but at the same time, didn’t want to, so you...kind of half purse your lips, but not really...”

She saw Eodwine about to laugh. “It’s so harder to explain than you might think!” she said, laughing. “Now, I’ve done my best – you tell me what you were thinking!”
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Old 03-05-2009, 04:05 PM   #436
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Eodwine

Eodwine couldn't help laughing. She had actually been very clever in describing what she was seeing, and he told her so - at which she beamed, which brought to mind what he had been thinking before and she had asked him - twice now - to say.

"It is like this. Here I am, in this place called Scarburg, which is, hard to believe, mine, a gift of Eomer the king, and he has named me eorl of a whole region of his kingdom. Not only that. I am walking with a young woman on my arm who brings me joy and delight just to be near, and who is my match in every way I can think of, and she is half my age.

"In recent years I had thought I would die a widower, and had been content, or so I told myself. But you here, with me -" He stopped, causing her also to stop, and looked into her eyes. She returned his look, still beaming. "I-" he said, kissing her, "am-" a second time, "amazed-" one last kiss, "-at my good fortune."

He gathered her in his arms and swung her around once, placing her back on her feet.

Applause and laughter met them; Eodwine looked and saw much to his chagrin that they were just outside the baker and what he had just done had been witnessed by many.

"Let's bow," he said to her out of the corner of his mouth, and he led her in doing so, which was met with laughter.

"Frodides!" Eodwine called. "We must speak with Frodides! Where is she!"
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:36 AM   #437
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Erbrand

Erbrand blushed at the stranger’s question. His instinct was to question the man what business it was of his, but he fought it and instead held Kara hand tighter as a boy would hold an item which was in danger of being stolen. Eodwemer’s eyes were knowing and intrusive, there was no doubt that the question was aimed at Kara and himself; however, unlike Thornden, Erbrand could see no ill intent on the stranger’s part.

“I don’t know,” Erbrand responded and looked into Kara’s deep blue eyes. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Again there was a silence. Erbrand felt his cheeks grow hot under the calm stare of Kara and Eodwemer-Erbrand hoped that he had not spoken out of terms for Kara. He liked her, he liked her a lot. Kara was usually the first thing that he thought of in the morning as he rose before the sun came up and evening when he rested. Their meetings in the morning were formal but genuinely enjoyable, and Erbrand relished those precious moments. Enjoyable was a word that fit his feelings towards Kara quite well, was it love? Was this merely a passing fancy? If it was, it would be incredibly wrong for Erbrand to pretend to like her. Erbrand couldn’t tell; he was bad at discerning his own feelings.

The silence was becoming uncomfortable. “What brings you to Scarburg, Eodwemer?” Erbrand still held Kara’s hand tucked around his arm. “Have you come to help with the building of the Hall?”
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:45 PM   #438
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Eodwemer

Eodwemer found long silences useful. They were a means of gauging people. This Erbrand, for example, was most ill at ease with them, whereas Kara seemed hardly to notice them. The man, he judged, was not in control of his feelings nor his thoughts. Perhaps he was a little dangerous. Did the lass like that, or did she not realize it?

“What brings you to Scarburg, Eodwemer?" asked Erbrand. "Have you come to help with the building of the Hall?”

Ah, the man needed to break the silence. Quite impatient.

"I was wandering through," he replied, "and happened to smell some good cooking on the air. As to the Hall, maybe I could help a little for a few days, with what craft I can offer..."

He trailed off and lapsed to silence, regarding them again, interested to see if either one or the other might pick up on his hint.
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:56 PM   #439
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"Our cook will be very pleased to hear you appreciate her cooking!" Kara said with a smile, forgetting for the moment that she was as much the cook as Frodides these days.

She liked this strange man. He had a knack of asking those questions that she would least like to answer, but the reaction that the queries had drawn from Erbrand were worth it. She had been very interested to hear what Erbrand had to say and although his lack of committal was entirely expected the way that he had squeezed her hand tighter had not been and it had warmed her heart to feel it. Kara had to admit though that she was pleased Erbrand had taken on the responsibility of answering, she had no desire to ruin this evening with any misunderstandings.

Then of course there was the very obvious hinting that their guest was currently attempting. Kara was rather sure that he wasn't even trying to be subtle, there was a certain twinkle in his eye that spoke to the contrary. Therefore she chose to call him on it.

"And what craft might you have to offer?" She asked, a smile on her lips. "Or would that craft depend on what it was that we required?
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:59 AM   #440
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Eodwemer

Eodwemer laughed heartily. This young Kara had a knack for cutting to the heart of a matter. She would make a fair partner for any man, or even a worthy helper for a wizard - if he ever wanted one - but that was another thing altogether.

"As you have guessed," he said with a growing twinkle in his eye, "mine is dweomercraft as you Eorlings call it. Thus my name among you. 'Old wizard man'. I am not one of those who came over sea to vie with the power that is no more in Mordor. I am but an old man who has learned his craft at the feet of wise men. Mithrandir had his fire, Saruman his iron and wheels, Radagast his beasts. I have but the earth at our feet and the water in the ground, and the air that we breathe. Humble and simple things, of course, but ready to hand and useful in a pinch. For instance-"

He bent down to the ground and touched it with one finger. He glanced up at the ring finger on Kara's hand, then drew from the earth a small circlet of gold. He handed it to Erbrand.

"For the future, should it turn out well, my good man." Then he looked at Kara again, whose face was beaming even as she held her peace.

"But something should be done for the present!" Eodwemer touched the earth in a different spot where he discerned that an unopened seed which had slept through spring and lay waiting to pass through yet another winter. Let its spring be now. thought the old man. A daisy sprang up from the ground and blossomed before their eyes.

Eodwemer rose again and smiled. "Yes, Erbrand, I suppose I might be of use for a little while."
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