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Old 03-14-2009, 05:56 PM   #441
Thinlómien
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Modtryth was pleased. Like she had guessed, there had been lots of slender but strong branches long enough to serve as poles among the spare wood from the massive cuttings. With a little help from his friend Garstan, her husband was able to make them just as she had wished them to be. The two men also helped her to stick the poles to the ground in a nice circle and make a rope to connect the tops of the poles. Modtryth then went to find the pretty lanterns bought from the Mead Hall and yet unused at Scarburg and hung them to the rope.

"Aren't you going to light those?" Stigend asked after a while when Modtryth was admiring the work of her hands. She cast a critical look at her husband. A smile played on her lips. "They will be lit when it's time."

Stigend knew better than to ask her to elaborate, and even if he hadn't, he wouldn't have had the chance to ask any extra questions, as right at that moment a cheerful voice boomed: "Modtryth! Here come the branches you requested and the kids have the flowers... the boys didn't enjoy playing flower maids, though, I reckon!"

Lithor laughed as he approached arms full of beautiful branches. Matrim and Balvir at his wake were also carrying many, and every kid had a huge bucket of flowers in his or her hand. Despite what Lithor had claimed, the boys actually looked quite pleased with themselves, especially as Modtryth broke into a long praise upon seeing they had found some decidedly blue forget-me-nots.

Modtryth urged the five men to arrange the branches all around the settlement. She herself walked around with the kids, hanging the flowers at good places and also tied some of them around the poles supporting the lantern ring.

Everything was done in a surprisingly short time and the rather austere-looking camp had turned into a flowering shrine to celebrate love, fertility and an important union between two families. The men, the kids and the woman who had worked to achieve this stood side by side, pleased with what they saw.

"You may stay here and admire the work of your hands for a while, I will go and check if the Lord and the Lady need something else yet to be done, or if Frodides still needs assistance," Modtryth said.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:34 PM   #442
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Lithor

“It would be a shame not to admire our work after having just completed it; therefore, we will stay here and wait.” He smiled and gave a handsome bow as Modtryth left. He was feeling very ceremonious and formal in his best armor.

Balvir was sitting trying to rub off some green and brow stains on his sword. “Too bad you stained your sword, Balvir.” Matrim said, “Still, it got the job done, didn’t it?”

“A hatchet would have done just as well!”

"All the hatchets are back across the Scar, we wouldn’t have been half done if I had to run and fetch them.”

“It still beats me looking like a jester in mock play!”

“Best stick the sword in its scabbard,” Lithor sat down opposite of Balivir, “You may carry the the banner of the hall, Matrim and I will handle the pomp. It won’t be too long now.”

Matrim and Balvir looked saddened at the remark. Although they were not of Eodwine’s household, they still felt as if they were. The lord had often shown kindness to them, and they all enjoyed his occasional vulgar sense of humor and manner when nobody, but themselves, were around. Eodwine knew how to be a lord, a soldier, and a gentlemen all at once.

“This wedding will be more like losing a brother than anything else.” Said Matrim as he dug the ground with his foot. “He’ll change, they all change once they are married.”

“Don’t speak of such things!” Lithor frowned as he spoke. “This wedding is to be a merry occasion and I won’t have it ruined before it begins. Besides,” he chuckled and rubbed his chin, “We still have Thornden!” Balvir gave a snort and then broke into a mild laugh.

“I’ll drink to that. We’ve lost lord Eodwine, but we’ll keep Thornden single if it kills us!”


Erbrand

Such a wonder had never been unfolded before his eyes! The ring was a simple trick, one that any skilled trickster could have pulled off; however, the blossoming flower was true magic. Erbrand stared in wonder at the white peddled flower and then looked down at his opened hand to reveal the ring which Eodwemer gave him-the gold was as yellow and pure as the heart of the daisy that had blossomed in front of him. Erbrand twirled the ring in his fingers and then quickly closed his fingers around it. This was a very unproper thing for any man to do. His eyes flashed with jealous anger at the old wizard for having acted upon a hasty assumption; even if it was true, it was none of the old man’s business. Erbrand wanted to give the ring back-it was frightening to hold something that did not come about naturally-but he feared the wizards response if he did so.

“I expect that you shall be conducting the ceremony tonight with lord Eodwine?”

Eodwemer nodded contently. He didn’t seem to mind the silence; however, Erbrand noticed that Eodwemer’s and Kara’s eyes met several times in the pause. It made Erbrand feeling angry, jealous, and frightened at the same time, all adding up to one huge sick feeling. He wished that he would have minded his own business in the first place and left this queer stranger alone.

He felt his hand unconsciously slip from Kara’s and fall to his side. Erbrand immediately came back to his senses and started to reach for Kara’s arm again, but his good sense stopped him from confirming the wizard’s assumption by doing so. His hand didn’t continue the journey to Kara and fell back to his side.

The ring slid from his fingers and into his pocket. Perhaps I will have need of this later, but not for the present. Besides, these wizards are peculiar folk. I bet he wouldn’t think twice about torching me or turning me into a rabbit if it amused him, better accept his gifts and stay out of his way. Erbrand bowed slightly to Eodwemer and then turned to Kara.

“I think we will be of more help elsewhere. Frodides will need your help and Lithor will need mine.” Erbrand spoke in a whisper, afraid that the wizard might overhear him. His fear of the wizard was naive, showing how little he knew of wizards, but he did not like his prying manner. He showed authority and unnatural power that frightened Erbrand.

“It was a pleasure speaking to you, Eodwemer (even though it was not), and we will see you at the ceremony.” They both bowed (Erbrand bowed as low as he dared to show respect, and to quell any ill feelings that the wizard might have with him) and left.

Erbrand spoke after a while. “I haven’t forgotten about tonight, but I must go now. Lithor is expecting me to help with the festivities.” He lied, but he did feel a need to separate himself from Kara for the moment, just for the moment. “I will be back for that dance.” He smiled and gave her a wink before going.

Erbrand left her feeling the same sick combination of emotions. He kept telling himself that she would understand his need to get away, but to no avail-she was too sharp to guess wrong. The more Erbrand told himself that he didn’t need Kara, the greater the emptiness he felt in his soul. He slipped his hand into his pocket and picked up the ring.
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Old 03-17-2009, 02:50 PM   #443
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Rand, Ginna, and Harreld

Rand saw that this Harreld held his daughter's hand possessively and that she allowed it. So the man was serious; whether she was or not had yet to be determined. Was she playing a game and he her witless pawn?

"Harreld Smith," Rand said. "what has my daughter done or said to you that you have such hopes?"

This was not the kind of question Harreld had been expecting. He thought rather to be asked if his purpose was honorable, and was it what it seemed. To which he had been ready to answer yes, he sought Ginna's hand in marriage. How to answer this? What did Ginna's father think of him, and of her, to ask a question like that? He was nonplussed. The momentary silence of his thought stretched painfully to more than a few seconds.

"Speak man, if you can find your tongue," Rand commanded.

"I - I do not know why you ask this question, sir. I would have your daugther to wife if you allow and she is willing, for I love her, and I believe that she has a right good character and would make a fine helpmeet and mother to my offspring.

"But what has she said and done?" he continued. "She has been kind to me, and spoken kindly. What else might be said?"

Rand did not seem pleased by his answer, and was now looking at his daughter full of suspicion.

"Ginna, have you led this man on?"

Drawing her courage from Harreld's, Ginna drew closer to the smith and held his hand more tightly, saying, "Led him on? I have done no such thing, Father. If this is what you wanted in bringing me to the Eorl, then you have succeeded. I am no longer the daughter you once knew."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Rand countered. "Do you really think that a mere two months away from home could change you?"

"Sir," Harreld interrupted, his voice hard, "I have only known your daughter since she has been in the Eorl's service, but it has been enough for me to know that she does not deserve the scorn of anyone, least of all her father."

Rand's head snapped back and his scowl grew stronger as he regarded Harreld.

"You have no right to speak of such things," he said curtly.

A sudden insight came to Harreld, for he remembered that Rand had no wife. Ginna had not spoken of her mother, which suggested to him that she had died long ago.

"Sir," he said more gently, "Ginna is not to blame for the loss of your own love, if I may make so bold."

Rand's eyes widened with surprise that this man dared to speak to him so. But a small chink of light entered through his wrath and the sorrow that lay behind it, and it occurred to him that this Harreld Smith was an unusual man to have found that small straw of truth in a haystack of possible ones. And this led him to see that Ginna was quite serious, and this was a change for the better.

"I will allow," he said slowly, "that Ginna has found herself a man of some courage who is at least no dolt. We will talk of this more, soon. But I will have words with the Eorl before anything else is said about it."

With that, Rand turned on his heel and went looking for Eodwine.

Ginna looked up at Harreld gratefully, tears brimming in her eyes. "You were everything I needed you to be just now, Harreld."

He smiled and drew her to him and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her to him. He kissed her brow. "I think he may yet give his approval," he said.

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Old 03-20-2009, 09:58 AM   #444
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Eodwine

"Frodides! There you are!" Eodwine and Saeryn came up to her near one of her boiling kettles in the baker. She turned to look them up and down.

"And where else would you expect to find me?"

"Well, just so!" Nothing could dampen Eodwine's spirits this day, least of all the wiplash tongue of his head cook. "There is a wedding, and-"

"-and me last to know and a cake to bake and a feast to prepare at the drop of a hat, no doubt!"

Sure enough, Frodides was almost on the boil herself; word had gotten round.

"Never you fear, Frodides," said Saeryn. "We would not expect such from you on short notice. Do whatever is in your mind to do, no more and no less. We will be content."

Frodides' brow rose. "Is this the way of it, then, lord?"

"My bride speaks for me in this matter, my dear head cook."

Frodides flushed and beamed. "You just wait and see what I can come up with when I put my mind to it!" She waved her ladel at them.

Saeryn grinned, and Eodwine allowed a smile. "Remember though, no more is expected than what you care to do."

"I heard you the first time. Now out of my kitchen so I can get something done!"

"Yes ma'am," they both said, laughing, and made their way arm in arm, practically skipping out of the baker, only to come to a sudden halt as a human stormcloud approached them in the person of Randvér.

"Oh no. Now what have I done," Eodwine murmured. Saeryn nudged him, snickering.

"At least you could have given me word!" Rand said, his face black with rage.

"Word of what, my friend?"

Rand looked the more indignant for having to explain himself. "My daughter is practically betrothed and you told me nothing of it!" He seemed to want to find an appropriate expression to carry his spleen, and settled on one word. "Friend!" He spit.

"I did not think it a terrible thing for Ginna go a courting with my redoubtable smith. And surely you overspeak the case."

"Do I? He has asked me for her hand in marriage! How is that for over speaking?"

"Wonderful!" Eodwine grinned. "What a match! Don't you think so, Saeryn?"
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:23 PM   #445
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Harreld

Harreld could have stood there with his arms around Ginna for a long time, and was tempted to; but he remembered Eodwine's request.

"Lord Eodwine asked me to see what swords I have in my trove that could be used by Saeryn as gift to him. Shall we go see what we can find, my love?"

Beaming, she smiled up at him. "Yes. My love."

This was good, Harreld thought, as something inside him warmed and grew and felt like courage and hope and joy all rolled into one. He let go of her and held out his arm to her. She took it and they made their way to the smithy.

Rowenna

Rowenna had been craning her neck while in the midst of the crowd, to spot Degas and had had no luck. She went looking, and found him near the piles of wood and stone, speaking with Nain the Dwarf.

"Excuse me," she said. The Dwarf bowed and Degas greeted her.

"I would beg a boon of you, lord Degas. I am of the Folde. Two years ago my father's homestead was raided by villains, he slain, and I taken against my will. I would ride to the Folde with you and see what is left of my father's lands, and if you are willing, make you guardian of them and me until I wed, so that they may serve as bride price."

His mild expression turned serious as she spoke, and the Dwarf's brow rose in some surprise or intrigue.

"You have given much thought to this, I see."

"Yes, lord. You need not give answer this minute if you wish, but I would like to ride with you tomorrow, if it please you."
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:52 AM   #446
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Rand was furious, and all Eodwine could find to say in response to hearing Harreld’s question was, “Wonderful! What a match! Don’t you think so, Saeryn?”

Saeryn turned wide eyes upward to his face. Should she take his cue and continue to torment poor Randvér? Or perhaps Eodwine did not even realize what he was doing. Yes, that was more likely the point.

Saeryn looked at Randvér and her face was serious. She jabbed her elbow into Eodwine’s side as covertly as she could, but enough to hopefully get his attention.

“I do not think that Randvér meant to be congratulated on his future son-in-law, Eodwine,” she said.

“That is exactly my point,” Rand seethed. “Whatever I expected to find upon my return, Eodwine, it was not this. You should have known I would not approve!”

“What is wrong with it?” Saeryn asked impulsively. The next minute she regretted it.

“What is wrong with it? What is wrong with my daughter wanting to marry a smith? You two, at least, should know what’s wrong with it! He is beneath her! You know all this! You two may not see anything wrong with it, but did either of you step out of your bounds to marry each other? No! You are on equal standing. Now, because you are happy, you imagine that it doesn’t matter what anyone else does – let the two marry if they love each other, eh? Is that it? It doesn’t matter that her status is so far above his, does it!”

Eodwine, as was his wont, thought before speaking. Saeryn didn’t. Her eyes flashed and she bristled with wrath as she defended Harreld. “Beneath her! Harreld Smith – beneath Ginna? You are a bad judge of men if you think that Harreld is not worthy of your daughter, sir. Or do you forget the reason you brought her to lord Eodwine? Your precious status and haughtiness, which supposedly makes Ginna too good for Harreld, just about ruined her! So you brought her here, and Harreld’s humbleness and nobleness saved her!”
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:29 AM   #447
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Degas met Rowenna's eyes and saw seriousness and maturity in them. This was not mere escape from Eodwine's new future, then. If Degas had believed Rowenna wished to leave as a means to run away from a life spent witnessing Eodwine and Saeryn's marriage, he would not have come to his decision as quickly, or as much in her favor.

"Rowenna, as you are a woman of the Folde, you are already under my protection as your Lord. As you are a woman without a father, I agree to become your protector until such a time as a husband asks for your hand - and you desire it - or until such a time when you would be otherwise released into safety and happiness elsewhere.

"I ask," he continued, "only that you wait to ride to the Folde until after I have assessed the damage and danger there, however if you would ride with me, knowing the risks, I would have you as a companion and a sister to me on my ride. Think on it, and know that I leave at dawn, and that my welcome in my lands may be less than celebratory."
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:41 PM   #448
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Garstan and Stigend hung around with the soldiers for a short while sharing the jokes but then decided to go and see how Harreld was faring on this important moment. They got a sight of Harreld and Ginna just as Randvér stormed to them. Garstan pulled Stigend from the sleeve. "Halt. We're not going there unless swords are drawn", he hissed and flashed a smile. "Harreld chose his wife and so in a way he chose his father-in-law as well."

Stigend smiled back and nodded. "Where then? If we go to the kitchens Modryth will come up with more tasks sooner we can steal a pint each..."

It looked like everyone was either doing something in preparation for the party or trying to hang out of sight from anyone wishing to get this or that added thing to be done. Garstan and Stigend looked at the hustle and bustle around them in silence.

"Gah, we might as well do something... How long would it take to build a small temporary platform in the middle of the festive-circle we just finished? If we'd have the pairs up there everyone could see them?" Garstan finally suggested.

"That shouldn't take long... if we had some more pairs of hands with us. We could use some of the timber we have brought here".

The men looked at each other and realised they both had gotten the same idea. They turned around and went back to the circle.

"Lithor, Matrim, Balvir! Come with us if you have nothing better to do!" Stigend called them and pointed towards the far end of the camp where the logs were laid to dry out.

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Old 04-15-2009, 07:48 PM   #449
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Rowenna

"Think on it," Degas said, "and know that I leave at dawn, and that my welcome in my lands may be less than celebratory."

Rowenna smiled at his use of the Gondorian flourish. "For two years my welcome has been less than celebratory wherever I have gone. That is of no concern to me. I am resolute. I will happily play sister on our way to the Folde, lord."

She curtsied and left Degas and the Dwarf, and went looking for Saeryn. Surely this wedding was soon to get underway, and she had a job to do, simple as it was. She found Saeryn with Eodwine, and she was yelling at Eodwine's friend, Rand. Rowenna grinned but hid it behind her hand, then came up to them.

"Saeryn! Saeryn! We must ready ourselves for the wedding! Come!" She came between the couple and Rand, gave a conspiratorial wink to Eodwine, and grabbed Saeryn's hand, tugging her along to somewhere other than Rand.

Eodwine

Eodwine coughed, momentarily relieved of the embarrassing moment.

"Rand, my friend, I apologize for the youthful spirit of my wife to be. Though she has a point, let it rest for now. The wedding tonight is not your daughter's. There's time to talk of that on the morrow. For now, I beg you, enjoy the celebration with me! I beg you!"

Rand's face was still a frown. "We will come back to this, Eodwine, rest assured. I am willing to hold my peace for tonight, but come back to it we shall!"

"Of course! But let us ready ourselves fittingly and find a cup of mead."
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:17 PM   #450
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Preparations

Eodwine led Rand to the baker and poured him a full cup of mead. He poured himself a half; he wished to stay clear headed through the wedding.

***

"Ah! This is what I sought!" Harreld said with satisfaction. He held the blade up in his right hand and caressed its fine edge with the other.

"Have you had it long?" Ginna asked.

"Aye, a while. 'Tis a good sword. An old warrior traded it for a pair of stout sledge runners. I really did get the better side of that bargain but I made sure he was happy with his side of it."

"It looks almost new," Ginna said.

"I worked it for a while out of love of the craft in between other jobs but have not touched it in maybe a year." He held the hilts out to her. "You are a swordswoman. Test it for me. Will it pass muster?"

Ginna took it from his hand and fitted her palm around the hilts. It was a man's sword and not light so she grabbed the hilts with her other hand as well. They went outside and she tested the blade a while, then handed it back to Harreld.

"This will be a fine gift for Saeryn to give Eodwine. Let us show them!"

***

Rowenna pulled Saeryn to the tent. By now both were giggling as Saeryn related the full exchange between herself and Rand to Rowenna.

"But now to business, you vixen!" Rowenna said. "Maybe there is no finery for you to wear, but I will not have it said the Rowenna let the lady she honored as witness look like the daughter of a road tramp! Let down your hair!"

Rowenna produced a comb and did her ministrations as the two young ladies talked faster than a man's ear could follow.

***

Thornden found Eodwine sharing a cup of mead with Rand.

"As your best man I take it upon myself to make sure you are ready for your enslavement."

Eodwine laughed. "Nonsense! I shall be lord and master of my own home, be sure!"

Rand and Thornden exchanged knowing glances and rolled their eyes.

"Strong talk!" said Rand. "We will see what passes after the oaths have been sworn!"

"Ah but my enslavement, as you so kindly put it," said Eodwine, "will be sweet as honey and heady as mead!"

"He's love-drunk," Rand commented to Thornden.

"All the more reason to get you in your best clothes and get you wedded!" Thornden said. "Come along, lord Eodwine!"

"Aye, aye!" laughed Eodwine. "Let us get the mustering done and get on with the battle itself!"
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:17 AM   #451
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Cnebba

Cnebba and Garmund were walking around the camp idly. Everybody else was busy with the preparations. They had nothing to do.

"Let's go somewhere where Mum can't find us," Cnebba said.
"Yeah, she will probably come up with more work to do," Garmund agreed.

Not quite deciding where to go, the two boys found themselves from behind Harreld's smithy. In the front, Ginna was swinging a sword in beautiful arches while Harreld was watching her with unhidden admiration. Cnebba and Garmund were watching too.

"She's a woman, not a soldier. Why can she use a sword?" Cnebba protested.
"Eorling women can," Garmund replied.
"My mum can't."
"But she's not... a fine woman like that."
"My mum would beat any fine woman in a fight." Cnebba said proudly, but with a grimace. "She has big muscles."
"I know," Garmund said darkly. "I remember when she dragged us through all of the yard when she decided we needed a lecture on gentlemanly behaviour."
"And we couldn't even put up a fight," Cnebba added, shaking his head.

Harreld said something and he and Ginna left. Cnebba opened his mouth to speak.
"Anyway... I was just thinking. We are men..."
Garmund shot him a critical glance.
"Almost men," Cnebba corrected. "And a proper man can wield a sword just as well as any... fine woman or whatever you call them. And we can't. It's unfair."
Garmund nodded. "What if we..."
"Yes," Cnebba replied.
They exchanged malicious grins, crawled and crept closer to the smithy door, and when no one was looking, they dashed in.

There were several swords to choose from, all well made, some looking unfinished or a bit damaged, though. Cnebba picked a long sword with a beautifully crafted hilt. "I like this one the best."

Garmund eyed him jealously, then picked another sword. "This one is cooler. It's even bigger."
"But mine has a nicer hilt."
"I bet it's not as efficient as this one."

With effort, Cnebba swung the long sword at Garmund's direction. "Hey!" the bigger boy exclaimed, and clumsily lifted his sword just in time to parry the blow. Cnebba's sword hit a row of axes and other half-made woodcutting equipment. They collapsed to the floor with a very loud crash.

"Someone must have heard that!" Garmund shouted.
"You ninny, you let the blow fall there..."
"You're the clumsy one who was using the sword!"
"It was a stupid idea to some here."
"It was you idea as well!"
"Don't shout, someone will hear!"
"As if they didn't hear your crash already..."
"It was not..."

They heard quickly approaching footsteps from the outside.

"Run!" Garmund whispered in terror.
"Hide!" Cnebba hissed.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:21 PM   #452
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“Erbrand, come help me with these planks,” laughed Lithor.

Erbrand helped Lithor with the overly large stack of wood in his hands and brought it to Stigend, who as arranging them with Balvir to form a platform. The wood fell with dull clanking as Erbrand tripped and fell over a small stone jutting out of the ground. The wood flew a short distance, some of which hit Lithor in the back of the knee causing him to fall with Erbrand.

“Careful, Erbrand!” Lithor yelled somewhat annoyed at the fright and rubbed his bruised knee. Erbrand made a faint mumble that sounded like an apology and started picking up the planks without a glance at his friend. Something was wrong with him, that much Lithor was sure of—Erbrand was usually cheerful when they were together.

“You alright, Erbrand?”

“Yes,” he said nodding his head. Lithor was obviously not convinced.

“I thought I saw you with Kara, everything alright with her?” Erbrand stood with the planks in his hand and shot an angry glare at Lithor, but the older man’s patient face soon prompted Erbrand to reply.

“Sorry Lithor. Yes, everything is fine with Kara.”

“Doesn’t seem so, what’s ailing you friend?”

Erbrand took deep breath and held it as he remembered Thornden and the old hermit’s interfering words. He handed a plank to Stigend, who then fastened it in place. Lithor waited for a response.

“You know that stranger who came into camp?” Erbrand said at last.

“You mean Scyld?”

“No, an old hermit… well wizard actually,” Lithor raised his brow in surprise when he realized that Erbrand was serious. “Kara and I were talking to him a few moments ago, he handed me something.”

“And this something is the cause of this problem of yours?” Erbrand nodded thoughtfully. “Well, what is it man?” Lithor prodded. Erbrand retrieved the gold ring from his pocket and handed to him. Lithor looked at the gold band thoughtfully for a couple seconds and laughed.

“Don’t let that old threadbare gypsy man get to you. You know that there is nothing to what he suggests,” but the look on Erbrand’s face quickly shut Lithor up.

“I don’t like it when people presume upon my own matters, Lithor. First it was Thornden and now this old wizard. Are my affairs an open book for everyone to scrutinize?”

“Your affairs, or are your affairs Kara?” Erbrand looked at him, mouth open and wide eyed with surprise at the question.

“It was Kara that caused you to fight Thornded as hard as you did in the staff fight. I knew that there was something deeper to cause such a desperate attempt at bashing in his skull and I imagine that you are thinking along the same lines with this wizard fellow. Sooner or later this resisting is going to get you in trouble with Lord Eodwine. It seems you are just looking for a fight, whether it is Crabbanan, Thornden, or whoever this fellow is all because of a girl. You better come to terms with what you are feeling and stop resisting or it will eat away at you until you curl up and die.”

They stood there for a moment looking at each other in uncomfortable silence. Lithor was sounding more like a father talking to a troubled son and it frustrated Erbrand to be lectured by everyone on his own feelings. Lithor seemed equally as frustrated that he gave his short speech; he looked over his shoulder at Stigend and Balvir.

“Stigend, Balvir how about giving a little friendly advice?”

“How about a little help?” Balvir replied sourly as he fastened another plank in place. Lithor assumed his merry self again and chuckled.

“Stigend, don’t tell me that you don’t have a few minutes to spare. Come here, Erbrand is having a dilemma on his hands. It seems that he has… well he has this girl and is unsure about how to go about…”

“How to go about courting her.” Erbrand finished what might have been a wrong presumption on Lithor’s part. He stepped forward and sat down and the platform with his feet dangling off the side.

“You’re married, Stigend, how did you court Modryth?”
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:41 PM   #453
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Ginna

Harreld placed an arm around Ginna and led her out of his smithy. Together they walked towards the baker, where they hoped to find if not Saeryn then at least Eodwine. Either of them could be anywhere, what with the preparations necessary for the wedding. Ginna had fallen silent as they went, oblivious to Harreld watching her. She let out a small sigh which did not escape Harreld's attention.

"What ails you, Ginna?"

She started to deny Harreld's observation but thought the better of it; it would have been unfair to him, and this was a problem they were supposed to face together. "I just cannot help worrying about Father," she finally replied. "He will not make this easy for us, I am certain of it. And--"

Harreld had pulled her gently towards himself and placed a finger over her lips. "Hush, my dear. I had not expected any less from him, and I understand. But do not fret, for I am not about to give you up easily. Indeed, I have no such intention."

Ginna looked up to his eyes. They held no trace of fear, but brimmed with happiness and contentment. It gave her peace - at least for the moment.

And then they heard a faint crashing noise coming from the direction of the smithy. Harreld was the first to run back, with Ginna swiftly tailing him. They entered to catch Garmund and Cnebba in the act of hiding. The smith first looked to his wares and started putting things back in order, leaving Ginna to blow the whistle on the mischief-makers.

"Well someone has got to do some explaining," she said loudly. The two boys froze.


Randvér

As Eodwine left with Thornden, Rand could not help shaking his head and laughing silently at his friend's state. Love does make fools out of even the wisest people. It was a good thing Eodwine had Thornden as his best man, or he would probably show up at his own wedding looking far from a proper groom.

Rand had always liked Thornden, even from the first time he met the soldier in the old mead hall. How come Ginna had not enough sense to fall for him? Rand wondered to himself as he drained his cup of mead.

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Old 04-21-2009, 03:22 PM   #454
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"Well someone has got to do some explaining."

Garmund, who had not managed to hide at all, shifted his weight from one foot to the other rather awkwardly. Cnebba evaluated the situation for a while, but decided Ginna was looking at him just as much as at Garmund, and crawled out from under an old saddle the stirrups of which Harreld had been fixing. The boys exchanged glances.

"We were just having a look around, that's all," Garmund said after a while and shrugged. He avoided meeting Ginna's eyes.
"Is that so?" she asked. "Then why those two swords were on the floor?"
"They..." Garmund started but couldn't finish the sentence.
"We just wanted to be cool," Cnebba cut in. He hung his head shamedly. "Cool like you."
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:45 AM   #455
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That was certainly not an explanation Ginna expected. Her eyes strayed towards Harreld, who had stopped what he was doing to look at her with a highly amused expression. She struggled to keep herself from laughing in response, lest Cnebba and Garmund not take her seriously. There was still a lesson for them to learn here, and she must not spoil it for them. Still, she could not contain her curiosity.

"What exactly do you mean by that, Cnebba?" she finally said, straight-faced. "And how does that make it acceptable for you to play with the swords which, first, are not toys, and second, you used without asking?" She turned her gaze to Garmund, the older of the two.

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Old 04-22-2009, 01:57 PM   #456
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Ginna was eyeing them both rather seriously, but Cnebba thought he had seen a glint of merriment in her eyes earlier. So maybe she's not that angry after all... Cnebba gave the maid a rather smug smile.

"What I mean is that... that we saw you with the sword and thought it looked cool," he said simply, grinning a bit conspirationally to Ginna. "You know, we thought we'd love to be like that too."

Garmund looked rather horrified at Cnebba's relaxed attitude. He was far more nervous. Cnebba wondered if Garmund had missed Ginna's amusement, or if he had realised something Cnebba hadn't. Like, maybe Ginna wasn't going to be so nice after all... Cnebba gulped and waited for Garmund to speak up.

"We do know swords are no toys," Garmund said. In fact, he sounded a bit offended. "There are blunt wooden swords for playing."
"My dad can make them," Cnebba put in. Garmund scowled at him and he shut up, narrowing his eyes angrily though.

"And as for the permission..." Garmund suddenly run out of words. He was trying to catch a glimpse of Harreld's face to see if he was angry, but he did not succeed because he didn't actually dare to look at the smith.

"...we have nothing to say in our defense," Cnebba finished. This time Garmund didn't scowl at him, just looked rather surprised. Cnebba resisted the urge to grin at his friend, or to let a smug smile creep to his face once again. Still, he couldn't help feeling content with his reply: it sounded terribly adult to him.
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:22 PM   #457
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Harreld

Harreld hid the smirk on his face by staying busy with setting things straight. The boys were clever talkers, that much was sure. But Ginna, he trusted, would not be fooled.

"...we have nothing to say in our defense," Cnebba said.

Well and good, Harreld thought. He set his face to grimness, turned and raised himself to his full height, and looked down his broad nose at the two boys who stared at him in a mix of fear and admiration. He was sure they wanted to be big like him some day. He remembered being a boy looking up at a man twice his height, and wishing.

"You are guilty of tresspassing," Harreld said. "Is that not so, Ginna?"

"Aye, 'tis so." She was playing along as he knew she would.

"The guilty must pay for their crime. What, Ginna, do you think would be a reasonable payment?"
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:38 AM   #458
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Ginna had not quite actually thought of a fitting punishment, and the look she gave Harreld told him so. He responded with a slight shrug and a quick wink, expressing his confidence that she can come up with something. What is this, some form of foresighted play on how we shall be as parents? She could not help shuddering at the thought of raising two mischievous boys, yet all the same the idea amused her. When she finally spoke, her tone was conspiratorial.

"Do you think you'll have use for a couple of helpers here? Show them how hard you must work to keep these things in order?"

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Old 04-24-2009, 08:27 AM   #459
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Harreld

"Now that is a good thought!" Harreld said, looking down at the boys appraisingly. He reached out one big hand. "Give me your arm," he commanded Garmund. The boy raised his right arm with not a little worry on his face, and Harreld felt for the muscle.

"Hum! Needs work! Here, grab this hammer and strike that anvil."

Garmund picked up the man-sized hammer in both hands and swung it down; it bounced off the anvil, out of his control, and Garmund began to tip over from the motion; but Harreld caught him.

"Hmm! That was a mighty swing for a little boy."

"I'm not little!" Garmund protested.

"Not little, you say?"

"I'm bigger than he is!" Garmund pointed at Cnebba.

"That is true, but maybe he is quicker than you for his age. I remember seeing some of today's games and one did better at one thing and the other at another time. Even so, you could take turs working my bellows for me, see what it takes to be a good smith. I will talk to your parents, see if we might not arrange a game of sorts between the two of you, see which of you might make a better smith. What do you say to that?"
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:00 AM   #460
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"A game?" Ginna whispered to Harreld as she drew closer to him so that they boys would not hear. "Are you certain creating competition between them is a good idea? Competing with each other is what brought them to this mess in the first place."

She took a small step back and looked up at the smith.
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:05 PM   #461
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Harreld

Harreld smiled. "They are boys. They cannot live without competition. Besides, this will make their punishment less onerous and more fun. I fancy I may have an apprentice out of this."

Ginna looked somewhat doubtful but shrugged and stood by his side.

"So! There is a wedding to witness, and I would not have it that two boys, a smith and a landholder's daughter are late and unready! Let us go! I will talk to your parents in the morning. Hurry now!"

Garmund and Cnebba raced out the door, leaving Ginna and Harreld behind. He picked up the sword chosen to be wedding gift.

"Well, Ginna, what do you think?"
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:45 AM   #462
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"I think we might have not a few arguments when it comes to raising children," answered Ginna with mock sobriety. She wanted to say "our children," but that was not the right time, she thought, to be presumptuous - not with the impending talk with her father looming before them. She did not want to count her chicks before they were hatched, and certainly not openly before Harreld.

Thankfully he did not notice her omission and naturally had a good sense of humour. His booming laugh was infectious and soon she laughed along with him. "In all seriousness," she continued, "it could be a good way for them to develop some sense of responsibility and respect for others' property. You might have to keep watch at all times, however. You would not want either of them harmed while working for you."

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Old 04-25-2009, 06:15 PM   #463
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"If we could be convince Rowenna to stay and take your place in the kitchen, you could help me give direction to a pair of apprentices. What we need is a few more women about the place!"

Ginna laughed.

They talked and joked until they joined the general hubbub of preparations for the wedding. Ginna saw Saeryn first and pointed her out. They went to her and showed her the sword Harreld had chosen.
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Old 04-27-2009, 04:49 AM   #464
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Modtryth

The night was drawing closer. Saeryn and Eodwine hadn't had anything more for her to do. Frodides and Kara were busy in the kitchen, and she would have been just on the way there. Léothern, who had waken up early and had no nap, had fallen asleep in the kitchen corner and Cnebba and Garmund had disappeared once again. Modtryth would find the kids well in time before the ceremony, but now she had the ideal chance to give the final touch to the preparations.

She made it to the circle of poles they had constructed earlier. She had brought a stool for herself. Standing on it, she started lighting the lanterns. The work was slow, as even with the stool and a long stick dipped in oil she had difficulties in reaching the lanterns. However cleverly she placed the stool, she could only light two lanterns before climbing down and moving the stool again.

"That looks difficult. May I help?" an unfamiliar voice asked from the shadows.
Modtryth turned calmly and saw an old man draped in a cloak.
"You surprised me," she said in a neutral tone. She now remembered seeing the same old man around earlier, evidently he was a new guest.
"For that I am sorry," the man smiled. "But, may I help you?"

Modtryth laughed. "With all respect, sir, you are old, and climbing and reaching out here and there like this is better be left for those younger than you. So, thank you for your kind offer, but I will manage better than fine."
Now it was the stranger's turn to laugh. It was an old man's chuckle, a chuckle at a jest that the youngers are not wise enough to understand. "I was thinking more something like... this." He snapped his fingers and the lantern Modtryth had been about to light was lit with a bright flame.

Despite herself, Modtryth drew a sharp breath. The man smiled, then snapped his fingers once again and another lantern was lit.

"Who are you?" Modtryth asked.
"I'm called Eodwemer, and my craft is the dweomercraft," the old man said, and added, almost apologetically: "I'm no master of fire, that is merely a simple trick any trickster can do."

Any trickster... Modtryth wondered sourly at the man's phrasing, but was glad that the tricksters called Cnebba and Garmund were unlikely to ever learn such a trick.

The man was still looking at her, somewhat expectantly. Yes, indeed, she had forgotten to present herself. "I am Modtryth," she said, climbing down from the stool and extinguishing the lighting stick. "I'm a sort of housekeeper here, as well as a maid, in a way. And I also look after the children. And help at the kitchens." What a very clear introduction, she thought, amused. The man called Eodwemer seemed rather amused too.

"My husband is Stigend, the carpenter," she added. The old man nodded. "I met him. A pleasant young man." Not quite the way Modtryth would have described her husband, but it amused her, once again.

"Shall I light the rest of the lanterns, then?" Eodwemer asked, nodding his head politely.
"If you will, sir, that would be very kind," Modtryth replied formally, but gave the stranger a warm smile.

The old man snapped his fingers several times, and with each snap one lantern was lit. They glowed warmly in the gathering darkness.

"Thank you," Modtryth said. Everything that had been in her power to do was ready now, all she had to do anymore was to wait for the ceremony that would start soon.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:50 AM   #465
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Stigend looked insecure and reluctant to give any advice on courting. But Garstan decided there was no way out for him.

“Okay guys, just a few more planks to go and we have finished this, then we’ll have ample time for Stigend to tell his story. Would you Balvir go and get us some ale? It sure isn’t an errand for Erbrand…” He gave a pause and smiled widely. “We’ll get this done while you’re on your way.”

Garstan punched Stigend lightly on the shoulder. “C’mon mate, you’ve promised to tell me that part of the story like ten times. Isn’t this the perfect time for it, weddings and all?”

Stigend sighed heavily and shrugged. “Okay then… but I’m afraid it won’t help you Erbrand.”


The platform was soon finished and the men sat on it sharing the ales Balvir had brought them from the kitchens. It had taken him some arguing with Kara, but after she had heard what they had been doing – and that they would be sharing a love-story on this wedding-day – she had finally agreed that they both had earned and needed their ales. It was time for Stigend to tell his story.

Erbrand looked particularly worried, like he was thinking what had Balvir actually told Kara about the topics they would discuss. Garstan couldn’t help noticing it but remained tactfully silent.

Stigend took a deep draught of the ale and began.

“Some of you know part of the story already so I’ll keep those parts short. Modtryth is a daughter of an Eorling lord and a Dunleding servant-girl. She has the pride of an Eorling and the stubborness of a Dunleding…” Stigend shook his head smiling slightly. Garstan nodded knowingly.

“Anyway… I had my troubles in my youth like we all had. I ran away from my family and joined the militia when I was sixteen. I was trained to be a man-at-arms, a spearman to be more precise. But I never got used to the discipline and the hierarchical system and came back.”

Stigend took another draught and looked at the men around him. “I took to my father’s trade then, carpentry. But only then I actually realised Modtryth’s presence in the village. I had known there was a mysterious half-Dunleding in our village but I had been younger then and she had been like a child as well. But while I had been a way I had kind of become a man… and she had become a woman. But she was a Dunleding-woman for the villagers. A Dunleding meant war, filth and treachery back in my village. A Dunleding was spelled either ‘enemy’ or ‘slave’ back there. Well you can see it. Our village was in the Westfold, near the Fords of Isen… so the people had their reasons to hate those people. I only understand it now with calm reason. But those times… oh, those times I thought it was petty, malicious and unjustified witch-hunt whose target was a totally innocent… and beautiful girl. Indeed the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. And what made me fall in love with her in the end were her guts… Even as scolded, beaten and harassed she kept her pride, like there was no force to break her.” Stigend fell down to his thoughts for a moment but then raised his head up again and took a sip from his pint.

“So? How did it go?”, Balvir asked.

“Well, there were these two ruffians, Thanneth and Melden, both sons of wealthy farmers in our village. And they had decided to have their fun with her, violently. But I happened to catch them before they had done anything else but beaten her… I did beat the two black and blue with a hay pole…”

“Wooo, a hero defending a good lady in trouble!” Garstan smiled and raised his pint. “To our hero!”, he toasted and smiled even wider.

“Well, that wasn’t so heroic... They were just slackers who only had courage to tease those weaker than themselves, preferably two against one… and I had military training, remember.”

It looked like Stigend felt very much relieved after finally telling that part of his story with Modtryth. Garstan wondered to himself why it had been so hard for him to tell the story in the first place. It was a story of courage and love after all. He would ask Stigend about it later.

“And then?”, Balvir was clearly excited and even Erbrand and Lithor looked keen on hearing the rest.

“Hmm…” Stigend took another long draught and almost laughed. “Well, I did learn that Dunledings – half-Dunledings at least – are quite quick with their passion”. He winked an eye to Garstan and all bursted into a knowing laughter shared by men in so many occasions.

But Stigend soon got more serious again. “But I was probably the first Eorling who had treated her as a human being worthy of being saved from harassment… Others would have just looked on or turned their heads away had they dropped in while Thanneth and Melden were having their fun.”

Balvir was quick to lighten up the situation again. “Like you said Stigend, you Erbrand should not try to do what he did. I suggest you do not go bruising people to prove your love to Kara…”

“Like he hadn’t tried that already!” Garstan put in. And they all laughed so much that tears ran from their eyes. Only Garstan wondered whether Stigend’s tears were solely due to laughter.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:59 AM   #466
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Saeryn and Rowenna had just come out of the tent when Ginna spotted them. Saeryn’s face was flushed with a healthy pink. Her eyes shone with a bright light as she and Rowenna laughed together. Ginna and Harreld came hurrying towards them. Saeryn reached out her hands in greeting.

“Ginna, I’m so excited. . .and nervous,” Saeryn said breathlessly.

Ginna took her hands and the two girls kissed lightly. “Of course you are, Saeryn dear,” Ginna said. “That’s only natural. You’ve accomplished the hard thing now, the rest is easy.”

“What hard thing?” Saeryn asked.

“Making him fall in love with you and actually asking,” Ginna replied, a twinkle in her eye.

Saeryn laughed, but it ended somewhat abruptly, and her eyes darted past Harreld and Ginna to where everyone was beginning to gather. She laid her hand on her fluttering stomach. Was she actually frightened? No, it was only the sheer magnitude of her excitement that caused her stomach to tighten so.

“Harreld and I wanted to show you the sword," Ginna said. "If you approve, you may have it to give to Eodwine.” Harreld put the sword forward, extending the hilts to Saeryn. She reached out her hand and drew it from the scabbard.

“It’s a beautiful sword, Harreld,” she said. “I wish I could repay you for it.”
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:31 PM   #467
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Harreld

"If you could convince Ginna's father to bless our handfasting I'd consider the debt paid, lady."

Eodwine came out of his tend with Thornden.

"What have we here?" he asked.

"Lord," said Harreld, "Lady Saeryn has decided that this sword is a fitting gift for your handfasting."

Eodwine examined the blade and his eyes widened. "I daresay it is better than the one I give away! Harreld, you are a wonder!" He included them al with a glance. "It appears that all arrangements have been made and our friends our gathering yonder. Let us go, shall we?"

Eodwine offered his arm to Saeryn who took it; Harreld did the same to Ginna who took his. Thornden and Rowenna were left standing, facing each other. She broke the short silence.

"Well, Thornden, are you going to offer me your arm, or should I offer you mine?" She allowed an amused half grin to play on her lips.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:11 PM   #468
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Thornden smiled in return, and almost laughed. “That would hardly be proper,” he answered, as he offered his arm. Rowenna’s hand slid under it and together they turned to follow the others.

“You have made Lady Saeryn look like an elven maiden,” Thornden said, looking ahead at Saeryn and Eodwine.

“It was not difficult to bring out her beauty,” Rowenna replied. “It took little skill on my part.”

Thornden looked from Saeryn to Rowenna and back again. All he could see of the bride was the back of her head, but even that view was rewarding, for Rowenna had fashioned her hair in such a way that long braids twisted and intertwined about her head, but still allowed long locks of auburn hair to tumble curling down her back. It was beautiful piece of handiwork and Thornden knew it, and appreciated it.

He smiled, then, as he looked at Rowenna, knowing well that she could rightfully take more credit for her work. “You are very lovely tonight, too,” he said.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:37 AM   #469
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Erbrand felt his face grow red with embarrassment and anger. Stigend’s joke seemed to strike a chord of familiarity with those who shared in it. Even if Stigend was in jest, his prying words cut deep; especially since Erbrand did not take the matter lightly. Thornden was now his enemy even more so than the vagabond Crabannan. Crabannan was Erbrand’s enemy for the fact of prying too much and Thornden was his enemy for interfering. The bruises on Erbrand’s body flared up in pain as he thought with black hatred of Thornden and the fight.

“Come now, Erbrand, do not look so glum.” Lithor said. His voice and face were happy, but he was no longer laughing. “What do say to Stigend’s story, does it help you any?”

Erbrand’s dry expression moved from Lithor to Stigend and then bowed his head for a second in thought. Stigend’s story had certainly been revealing about Modryth and certainly of Stigend’s character, but it helped Erbrand little in his case with Kara. In Stigend’s case, Modryth did not seem to like Stigend much; however, Erbrand knew that Kara liked him (at least she let on to like him). Then a light came into Erband’s eyes as he went over the story in his head. The point in the story where Stigend’s relationship changed was when he proved his worth to Modryth by saving her. A situation of such dire consequences might not arise in his-own case but there were certainly other ways to prove his worth to Kara. He smiled as the idea of how he would prove himself unfolded in his mind. A deep enduring fire was at that moment lit in Erbrand’s heart and he vowed that he would not let it die until Kara accepted or rejected him

“What are thinking?” Lithor asked, after seeing that Erbrand was lost in thought. Erbrand jumped slightly as if being suddenly roused from a pleasant sleep.

“Nothing,” Erbrand said unconvincingly, “The story has indeed been of great help, Stigend, and I thank you for telling it to me. I now understand what I must do.” Erbrand smiled and nodded his head to say a silent ‘thanks.’ Stigend returned the smile and gesture.

“Look yonder.” Lithor stepped down from the platform and was immediately joined by Balvir and Matrim. They could see Eodwine along with Saeryn, Thornden, and Rowenna slowly nearing the crowd. “Our Lord and Lady have finally come. To our posts men!”

Stigend and Erbrand melted into the crowd in search of wife and sweet-heart, while the soldiers slowly formed a walkway in crowd for the lord and lady to walk down. More soldiers came bearing torches and took their places along the walkway to form a majestical sight. The more important of the Eorl’s Household (meaning the chief guards and honored guest) stood on either end of the platform and waited with silent reverence for the ceremony to commence.
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:37 AM   #470
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Javan, Garmund, and Cnebba

Javan was at the wash bucket outside the tent for the men when Cnebba and Garmund came racing up. With hardly a glance at him, the two boys darted inside. Javan splashed some water over his hands and face. As soon as he was finished here, he would be ready to go down and see Eodwine married.

Garmund and Cnebba began a conversation inside the tent. Javan listened unintentionally for a while at first, but just as he was standing up to go, he heard some words of interest and his ears perked to listen. He turned and came back to the tent and stood with bent head to hear what was said within.

“I don’t think he was,” Cnebba said. “Didn’t you hear him say that it was fitting punishment for trespassing?”

“He was being easy on us, I tell you! A game, he called it. Well, I’m not so sure he’s going to prove quite as easy as you might think!”

“It won’t be difficult, anyway. Why are you so upset?"

“He called me little.”

“His hammer almost knocked you over.”

Javan finally gathered that they were speaking about Harreld. A smile spread slowly across his face. What had they been doing? What had Harreld done? Practically in the same breath, the two boys were speaking about having been dealt with easily, but also about the hammer almost knocking Garmund over. Trespassing? There were too many questions to just walk away from!

Javan stepped into the tent. The boys stopped talking and turned to look at him. Garmund had a new shirt pulled on his arms but not yet over his head, and Cnebba was buttoning his pants.

“What are you two talking about? I let you out of my sight for a few minutes after the games are up and you get into trouble?”

Garmund frowned at him. He did not like the way Javan spoke to them, trying to sound all grown-up and bossy and acting like they were so much younger. He pulled the shirt over his head. “It’s none of your business,” he said.

“Sure it is,” Javan answered, folding his arms. “I’m in charge of you, aren’t I?”

“Only when we’re doing archery.”

Javan looked at Cnebba. He usually put up less resistance than Garmund. “What were you talking about?”
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:01 PM   #471
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Cnebba

Cnebba looked from Javan to Garmund and from Garmund to Javan. He was not quite sure what to do. Javan was almost a grown-up, so he did have a sort of authority. But Garmund was his best friend.

"Not your business," he said.

There was a flare of anger in Javan's eyes.

"But it was not much trouble. Harreld and Ginna were quite kind in the end," he elaborated.

Now Garmund too flashed him an angry stare.

Cnebba looked from Garmund to Javan and from Javan to Garmund. Suddenly he missed his first days in the Mead Hall and how little Lèothern had been his best friend. It had been much simpler back then.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:21 PM   #472
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“Harreld and Ginna?” This was getting more and more interesting! “What, did you come across them. . .kissing or something?” The idea amused Javan and he grinned. Garmund and Cnebba looked horrified.

“No!” they both exclaimed together.

“Well, then, what happened?” Javan queried for a third time.

Before either of the boys could answer, the tent flap was flung back and Garstan entered. “Ah, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you three. Come on, Eodwine and Saeryn are coming down and the ceremony is about to begin! Hurry up!”

He stood aside and allowed the three boys to dart past him. Their near quarrel forgotten, they all ran down towards the gathering place as quickly as they could and quietly joined the gathered people, prepared to watch their eorl be married.
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:40 AM   #473
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Iomhair


The journey had been long but not at all dull. As was usual thousands of idea’s for adventures old and new flooded through her mind, so much so that she thought her brain might explode from the torrent before she could put ink to parchment. However fortune favoured her with very amenable fellow companions, a wealthy trade merchant and his family. The Lady and her two daughters delighted in tales of love and fortune while the gentlemen (Father and son) preferred historical recounts of the great cities of men. However the journey had now come to its inevitable end.


“Scarburg” the driver called.


“Ah alas, it seems sadly that we must now part company, it has been a most enjoyable journey and a great pleasure to meet you all.” Iomhair lamented as she dismounted.


“Oh but father, Mistress Iomhair must visit if ever she finds herself in Stonewain, mustn’t she?” the two daughters insisted.


“Indeed we would consider it an insult if you did not.” Their father replied to the obvious delight of both daughters and the young man that was their older brother.


“Then if my wandering ever takes me that way I shall indeed call on the house of Davhas.” she inclined graciously, Smiling warmly as the young man took and kissed her hand delicately. Looking into those bright blue eyes she thought it a shame they were not also stopping, oh what fun it would have been to discover what deep secrets that lay behind that warm smile, what sonnets and verses... Ah well she thought closing the wagon door and watching it trundle off to meet the rest of the caravan.


I am sure there will be others to inspire.... even here she thought as she turned, raising a quizzical brow at a well organised encampment and not the great hall she had expected. Looking at her trunk she chuckled at her own mistaken expectations. On reaching Edoras she had been excited about the news of the Kings new appointment an Eorl of mid-emet something new for the history books. A Knight made eorl what was not to be excited about. A new life, with new adventures ahead, many changes..... And all from bare timbers, she laughed again before grabbing her trunk and dragging it towards the little fabric village.


Drawing closer she could see a gathering of men, women and children all garbed in their finest. An air of excitement and joyous expectation filled the air. A flickering ring of lights hovered on carefully placed ropes above their heads and the sight and smell of fresh cut flowers filled her with a warm glow. Oh joy of joys...she thought excitedly. Abandoning her trunk and pulling both a quill and small leather bound book from her belt she lengthened her stride and was soon among the gathered throng, sketching the scene before her and adding small notes and snippets of conversation over heard. Her excitement growing as it soon became apparent that it was the new Eorl himself that was to be wedd this day. “What advantageous luck!” she chuckled to herself. “Fine food, good ale, much merriment and perhaps even some good company she mused as her eyes fell on the younger of the guardsmen.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:00 PM   #474
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The Wedding

Rowenna's eyes widened in momentary surprise, then smiled in spite of herself at Thornden's compliment. "Thank you. I think the mood of the event has gotten in your veins, Thornden."

He chose not to take that to mean what it could conceivably mean and he only laughed. "I am very happy for lord Eodwine and lady Saeryn," he replied, and then they became quiet as they drew near the gathered people.

Randvér frowned, standing in the circle. Ginna pulled Harreld into the circle and stood beside her father. So the young woman stood between her father and the man she seemed to have chosen, giving Randvér much opportunity to glance sidewise at his prospective son in law. He was a big man! And seemingly gentle. But the rite was about to begin.

Eodwine and Thornden came into the circle, dressed in their finest, and took their places at the center of the circle. The people quieted and craned their necks to see if they could catch a glimpse of the bride and bride's maid who waited outside the circle.

Then the old man visitor, the one called Eodwemer, stepped out of the crowd and stood before the bride and groom.

"Folk of Scarburg," he said, "your lord Eodwine has asked me to guide the rite. He thinks that my length of years have given me wisdom." The old man chuckled at the notion. "In any case, I am honored and will do my best to honor his choice. So let the bride's maid and bride enter the circle!"

Saeryn took a final breath and felt her face blush one last time. Degas stepped up to her side and she looked at him. He smiled and offered her his arm and she gave him a thankful smile in return as she took it. Then she turned to Rowenna and nodded her head. Rowenna stepped forward and led the way down through the people to where Eodwine stood waiting.

There were oohs and aahs from the gathered crowd, for the beaming Saeryn was a sight to behold. She stopped at Eodwine's side and looked up at him, smiling. His mouth and eyes could not contain his happiness. Those with the best ears overheard him say, "What a lucky man I am."

Rowenna and Thornden took their places beside the bride and groom, each holding a sword and ring.

Eodwemer spoke. "We have gathered to witness the joining together of Lady Saeryn of the Folde and Lord Eodwine, Eorl of Middle Emnet. We honor our forebears by following their ways, to be joined man and woman by oath, to bear and raise young, to thrive, love, and increase the strength of our folk.

"Who releases the bride to this man?"

"I Lord Degas of the Folde release her from her bond to my house."

"Do you have rings?" asked Eodwemer. Thornden handed a ring to Eodwine and Rowenna handed one to Saeryn. "Eodwine, place the ring on Saeryn's finger and speak your oath."

Eodwine slipped the ring half way onto the third finger of Saeryn's left hand. "Saeryn, this ring is a token of my love. Like this circle it has no end. As I place it around the vein that goes to your heart, let my love go straight to your heart."

Saeryn deftly pulled the ring the rest of the way onto her finger, then slipped a much bigger ring on the third finger of Eodwine's left hand. "Eodwine, this ring is a token of my love. LIke this circle it has no end. As I place it around the vein that goes to your heart, let me love go straight to your heart."

"Now speak handgeld and bridegift," Eodwemer intoned.

"For handgeld, Saeryn," said Eodwine, "my oath is to come to the aid of your brother Degas, Lord of the Folde, when called for any need, as long as the three of us live."

"For bride gift, Eodwine, "said Saeryn, "my oath is that my brother Degas will come to your aid when called upon for any need, as long as the three of us live."

"Have you swords to exchange?" asked Eodwemer.

Thornden handed Eodwine's sword to him. Eodwine offered the hilt to Saeryn. "Saeryn, I give you this my sword as protection against all evils. With it my son will protect you when I am dead."

Saeryn took the sword and traded it with Rowenna for the sword from Harreld. "Eodwine, I give you this sword in exchange for the heirloom of your house, to protect our house while you live."

"It is then time to bind the hands of bride and groom," said Eodwemer. "Who has the binding?"

A low whisper ran through the circle as people wondered who if anyone had remembered. However their fears were soon alleviated and an expectant hush once more filled the air as Æðel stepped forward.

While others had laboured she had spent the day delicately embroidering a simple linen binding with Lord Eodwine’s Sigils intertwined with what Degas had assured her was Saeryn’s favourite flowers, as he seemed to think that their own Sigils would bring no joy to his sister at present, down each side was also embroidered the words Unity and Love which she thought encapsulated the depth of the oaths her friends where entering into.

“I Æðel, Have that which is to bind hand and heart of Lord Eodwine and Lady Saeryn before those who Respect, love and serve them.” She announced, raising the binding in the air for all to see.

A Cheer rose up around them as Æðel smiled warmly at the happy couple, her dark eye’s gleaming with a merriment she had not felt in a long time. Resisting the urge to run up and hug Searyn tightly she placed the white binding into Eodwemer’s waiting hand and stepped back to her place in the circle.

"Please join hands with your betrothed and listen while you are bound by groom's man and brides lady."

Eodwemer held the binding up. Thornden and Rowenna came forward and both took an end, and slowly wrapped it around the clasped hands of the bride and groom.

"Above you are the stars, below you are the stones. Like a stone may your love be firm, like a star may your love be constant. May your thought guide you, let your wills bind you, let your love and desire make you happy, and the strength of your oaths make you inseparable.

"Eodwine, will you have this woman to wife?"

"I will."

"Saeryn, will you have this man as husband?"

"I will."

"Who bears the cup of gladness?" Eodwemer asked.

"I do." Kara spoke clearly.

Despite some small nervousness at suddenly being the centre of attention of so many people Kara walked toward Eodwemer with determined steps. She had not expected to participate in the ceremony and hadn't minded, but when Eodwemer had caught her for two moments and asked her to be a bearer she had smiled with delight and agreed on the spot. Kara had seen the two people in front of her now go through such pain during their long, subtle courtship that to be part of their happiness in some small way gave her incredible joy.

"I, Kara, have the cup filled with mead to wish Lord Eodwine and Lady Saeryn a gift from their union and everlasting bliss and gladness."

She handed the cup to Eodwemer and stepped back into the crowd. Seeking Erbrand's hand she took it in hers to watch the remainder of the ceremony. Erbrand looked at her, a little startled at the sudden contact, but Kara was too wrapped up in what was before her to notice.

Eodwemer passed the cup to Eodwine, who in turn held it to Saeryn's lips and spoke.

"Drink deeply, and may you never thirst."

Saeryn drank, took the cup and held it to Eodwine's lips.

"Drink deeply, and may you never thirst." She said in return, and returned the cup to Eodwemer.

From within the folds of his cloak Eodwemer produced a length of rope and laid it in a line in front of the bride and groom.

"This rope stands for an end and a beginning. Your lives as two people unrelated ends, and your life as one couple begins. On the count of three, jump. One! Two! Three!"

Eodwine and Saeryn, grinning, jumped over the rope. The crowd applauded.

"Folk of Scarburg," Eodwemer exclaimed, "I give you Lord Eodwine and Lady Saeryn of Scarburg, husband and wife! Seal it with a kiss!"

Eodwine took Saeryn in her arms and their lips met. The wedding kiss of Eodwine and Saeryn was long remembered in Scarburg, and the tale of it spread through out the lands of the Eorlingas. It was both long and lusty, and all who witnessed it first applauded then laughed then murmured in their amazement until Lithor uttered words to break the spell.

"Hey now! That's meant for your own tent! We have a chase!"

Eodwine wiped his lips with a twinkle in his eyes. "Then give chase, but only after we've found our horses! Let's ride, my wife!" They grabbed hands, grinning, and broke through the crowd at a run.
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Old 07-04-2009, 12:11 PM   #475
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Iohmair

“Chase...Horses...” Iohmair grinned looking up from the flowing lettering etched on her page, the ceremony had been a joy to write and watch. To the young scribe it was more than apparent that this lord and his new wife were well loved by those gathered as witness, it was also refreshing to see commoner and nobility a like share in this Joyous event with no apparent segregation of class or rank.


But now with the chase, excitement again welled in her soul and as the ink dried she looked about wondering if she could get a horse somewhere or perhaps even persuade some young gentleman to let her ride with him. The thought made her grin widen, but as she sought out the burg’s guards it faded to a soft but nervous; innocent smile. It appeared that one of the guard’s had already taken note of her, but not in the way she would have hoped. No, this one, a middle aged man who’s faded brown... or was it dirty blonde hair sat strangely against his dark beard, was watching her intently, his deep blue eyes not filled with light and intrigue, but with cautious suspicion.


“Hmm” Iohmair sighed, as the two guards nearest her watcher suddenly took an interest. Snapping the book in her hands shut, she watched as the bearded man, still his eyes on her gave orders to the younger man on his right, who promptly ran off toward a young dark haired woman who flinched seemingly unconsciously at his touch.


“Interesting” she thought distractedly as the pair looked back, the young woman she remembered naming herself Æðel during the marriage rite shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, before both ran to catch up with the chase. But that would have to be a story for another time she mused turning back to note that the remaining two guards had now crossed more than half the distance between them.


Casually tucking her quill into her belt causing a fresh ink stain on her bluebell coat and wishing she too was joining the chase, she waited for the two guards to reach her. She hoped that their queries would not keep her from the festivities over long. After all they were Undoubtedly just doing their job and she herself had nothing at all to hide, in fact making her presence known to the guard might just stand her in better stead for gaining employment as the new Eorl's scribe/storyteller.... so long as they didn’t cart her off as a spy or an assassin or something even more ridiculous! she mused, her grin returning at the incredulous thought, mirth again lit her eyes as the two men finally approached her.

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Old 07-13-2009, 05:24 PM   #476
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The Chase

Eodwine and Saeryn reached the stables first. Flíthaf heard them coming; they were full of laughter. He nickered and kicked at the ground, eyeing them. They came quickly to his stall.

"Let us forego saddle and bridle tonight, my love!" cried Eodwine. "Come, Flíthaf! 'Tis a free ride this night!" He led the stallion out of his stall and helped Saeryn onto his back. He climbed the side of the stall and slipped onto the great bay's back, grabbed Saeryn around the waste, whose hands were holding gently to the horse's mane. They kicked gently and urged Flíthaf on, and out of the stables they rushed.

They negotiated a fence here, a tent there, and found their way through a gap in the scar and soon were at a full gallop on the open plain. They could hear yells and the clatter of hooves behind them. They knew they had the disadvantage of two riders on one horse, but had gained time by riding no saddle. Saeryn let out a whoop of joy and Eodwine laughed for delight.

The waxing moon was rising in the night sky and they could see none too badly for the lack of daylight. They were out a good five minutes before they began to hear hooves gaining.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:35 PM   #477
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Lithor

"Good evening ma'am." Lithor nodded respectfully at the young lady (it was obvious that she was in fact a lady and no peasant). Her garments struck Lithor as unusually lavish for a girl of her age and especially for a girl in this region of the Riddermark. Was she of noble birth? But if so, where was her train, her knights, her servants?

Balvir had pointed out the book and quill in the lady's hands before Lithor had concluded that she was a stranger. Lithor turned his eyes from the lady's face to the book that she clutched in her hands. The book was simply bound, but even a simply bound book cost much silver. Lithor's eyes darted back to the lady and to the book again. What on earth was she doing? Lithor had never known many lady's who had the ability to read and write. Of course noble lady's were taught both, but then he had never seen proof of this.

"What's in the book?" Lithor asked rather simply and pointed at it.

Balvir stood behind Lithor but now stepped forward. "Is it a map?" he asked harshly and probably would have seized the book from the girl.

"Peace friend," Lithor interjected calmly, "we want no quarrel here on this most magnificent day." He paused for a moment and glanced upward at the moon (what a ridiculous thing to say, you simpleton!); then he chuckled.

"Forgive me lady, I have forgot my manners. Perhaps we should try this again. My name is Lithor and this is Balvir; we are both guards of Eodwine: the Lord of whose property you now stand on.

"Who are you and whence did you come from? Your raiments and belongings speak of an education that I would guess you have not found around here."

~~~~~~~~~

Erbrand

Kara had urged him to go without her. With a promise to quickly return, Erbrand darted to the stables. He was a fast runner (the fastest in Scarburg, as was proved today) and was one of the first to arrive at the stables, mere moments after the bride and groom had taken off. A saddle was quickly slung across Traveler's back and soon both rider and steed were the first in full pursuit.

The night was dark but blue dress of Saeryn marked his target well enough. The wind whistled in his ears as he bent his body closer to Traveler's mane. His great horse was galloping along splendidly, each footfall fell firm and swift: the gallop of a great charger. Yet for all of Traveler's drive he was no match for the light horses and great riders challenging him.

Thornden shot past Erbrand like a fleeting shadow and was soon to overtake Eodwine and Saeryn. Erbrand felt a quick burn of envy and contempt for the young soldier.

"Outmatched again," he muttered to himself, "his time will come. He'll not take her from me. I'll put him in his place soon enough." However, the threats vanished from his mind as quick as they had entered and the chase continued.
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:52 PM   #478
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Although Thornden was not the first to reach the stables and catch his horse, he was one of those leading. The air was filled with the hubbub of cheerful, excited voices as everyone who owned a horse worked their fastest to saddle up and mount. Thornden gathered his bridle and saddle and then went to his horse and pulled him away from all the others. Then, in the open with room to spare, he quickly prepared his mount and swung up on him. Already someone was galloping away from the group, and before Thornden put his horse into motion, he saw two more people mount up. Shouts came out through the darkness,

“They’ve gone through the scar! They’re heading across the plain!”

Thornden laughed. Eodwine had chosen the best place for a gallop, and the best place for them to be overtaken. He urged his horse forward and immediate the animal sprang into a swift canter. Through the gap in the scar they went, picking their way across difficult rocks at a hurried trot, and then with a new surge of energy, they shot down the incline and onto the plain.

He came abreast of Erbrand and for a second he considered saying that they should split up and circle around the bride and groom and so force them back towards the others. He decided against it. Erbrand probably wouldn’t listen, for one reason, and there was not enough room for the horses to loop ahead of Eodwine and Saeryn for another. The decision made, he loosed the reins and galloped ahead, his horse taking the ground six yards with each stride.

“They are gaining on us, Eodwine,” Saeryn said. The wind was cool and fresh on her face, and Eodwine at her back provided a strong warmth. With his arms about her, she felt safer and happier than she ever had, and now that the chase seemed to be coming to a close, she wished it could continue going on. “Could you turn him up into the hills and perhaps lose them among the rocks and the trees?”
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:44 AM   #479
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Eodwine smiled. He wanted to be alone with her, too. But this day would not be truly theirs until all the festivities came to a close. This time was more for the folk than for themselves, and they must bear it patiently, and might as well enjoy the time.

"You want to prolong the chase, my love? I fear that the hills and rocks would slow us down as much as the others. We must bear the company of others for a few more hours."

Suddenly a wild hunger rose in him and a mad plan formed at once in his thought. After all their celebration and after all was quiet with sleeping folk at Scarburg, she and he could leave quietly on their two horses and roam the world, free of all care and responsibility, to see the wide open spaces together. It would be as it had been when he was a messenger for the king, traveling far and wide, only this time he would have Saeryn with him, and he knew she had the wanderlust too. He could taste it the heady flavor of it like a fine hoppy ale. He hugged Saeryn more tightly in reaction to the power of the enchantment.

But no, he was Eorl of Scarburg. He had duties that he did love, and people he loved. Thornden. Harreld. Ginna. Kara. He named them and brought them to mind one after the other, and so he came back to his senses.

"Let them catch us," he said at last. "We will have many hours together soon enough, both tonight and in days to come."
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:44 AM   #480
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Iomhair


Ma’am! Iomhair thought indignantly do I really look old enough to be called ma’am! she frowned as his gaze drifted to the book in her hand. And although she had not meant to, having nothing at all to hide, she did pull it closer to herself when he enquired as to its content. Gripping it tighter still as the larger of the two men stepped forward demanding in a surprisingly thick southern accent if it was a map. Iomhair was stunned it seemed they really did take her for a spy; well at least the big one seemed too.


But her astonishment soon melted away as the first guard calmed his friend and introduced them both in a more proper manner. That he addressed her as a lady brought the smile again to her lips.


"Who are you and whence did you come from? Your raiment’s and belongings speak of an education that I would guess you have not found around here." The one called Lithor enquired.


“Why master Lithor surely you do not mean to imply that the good people of Rohan are uneducated or is it simply you believe that only the wealthy can afford such privilege?” she quipped; a twinkle lighting her brown eyes as Lithor seemed suitably taken aback.


“Then I fear Master’s I may yet disappoint!” she laughed lightly, “My Name is Iomhair Fearghal of Dale, Esgaroth to be more precise. My Father is a cloth merchant and my mother a seamstress and a very good one at that!” she grinned fixing a lapel and brushing at her skirts lightly.


“I assure you I am no spy! But I am a scribe or a documenter of life if you will and I have come here to offer my services to Lord Edowine of Scarburg.” She continued very matter of fact.

She held out her book to Balvir in the hopes that he may take her word for truth and be done with this interrogation so that they could join the others before the chase was done and that she would not have to settle for a second-hand account. Her gaze drifted momentarily to the stables where the last riders were making their way out into the fading evening light.

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

Balvir


Balvir took the offered book and carefully flicked through the pages. That the young woman was from Dale and not somewhere further south had set his mind somewhat at rest, but that her father was a merchant again raised those heckles of doubt, to Balvir merchants were all just as bad as each other but none so much as Cild of Gondor so Balvir decided not to let her father’s occupation and that he may or may not have had dealing in Minas Tirth cloud his judgement; at least for the present.


The young woman seemed genuine in her assent, if a little eager to join in the festivities and that she had managed to leave Lithor lost for words, a feat he was beginning to think impossible brought at least some amusement.


He looked again from the delicately scribed words to the young woman before them. He had initially agreed with his companions assessment but having listened to her speak he now thought there was something a little unpolished in her manner, she had that quick change in temperament that he suspected often got her into trouble and that perhaps she even used to get out of such trouble.


Yes he thought she would bear some watching. But Time was pressing and he suspected Lithor would be just as eager as their new arrival to press on with the festivities. If she was a spy it would discovered in time but at present he saw no threat to Lord Edowine from this young woman, so he nodded his satisfaction and returned the book to Miss Iomhair Fearghal of Dale.


“My Apologises Miss Fearghal, Our Lord Edowine is new to these lands and unfortunately not all are as happy as we with King Eomer's new appointment, so I hope you can understand and forgive our caution this night.”


The young woman nodded her understanding as she took the book from his hands. “If it helps I do have papers of recommendation.” Balvir grinned as Iomhair pointed back towards an old brown trunk on the worn path leading away from the burg. Something told him that she had deliberately left the knowledge of such papers as a last resort.

“No, I think such matters can wait for morning I daresay you are as eager as my companion here to join in the festivities I will see that your trunk is taken off the road and a tent is made ready for your use.”


“Then you shall not be joining us?” the young woman asked in surprise.


“Oh no...!” Lithor laughed, “Master Balvir much prefers his own company and has volunteered to remain on watch here till we return and I suspect long after eh Balvir!” he jibbed lightly.


“Then we shall feast heartily and dance merrily without fear, for Master Balvir guards the Scarburg and all those within!” Iomhair recited with a smile that most would find disarming. But Balvir merely laughed reaffirming his belief that she would have to be watched... especially around the young men of the burg.


“You are too kind in your praise Miss Fearghal, But Lithor is correct it is my charge this night to guard the camp, so I will bid you good hunting and shall take my leave leaving you to the care of my good companion here. Good night.” And with that Balvir turned and walked towards the road where Iomhair’s trunk still sat.


After finding a free tent for the young woman’s heavy trunk, he did a once round the camp before finding Frodide’s who would no doubt welcome a pair of strong hands to help set out tables for the feast to come.
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