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Old 03-24-2010, 04:55 AM   #721
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Scyrr tried to straighten himself, but suddenly his head started spinning around. With all effort however, he managed to keep himself in almost-sitting position.

"Master Wulfric..." he started, but to make matters worse, the feeling of sickness in his stomach suddenly seized him with unprecedented strength. Not now of all moments.

"It was the stinking tanner Erbrand," Scyrr took a deep breath. "He tried to kill me. I am sorry..." There was no time to get more into details, Scyrr turned himself around and leant over the cart's side, trying to avoid Wulfric's sight. Inside, he felt angry, what will his weakness look like in front of the young masters? And most of all, when will this end? He felt his head spinning around all the time and when he straightened himself, he did not feel any better than before.
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Old 03-24-2010, 07:45 AM   #722
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Wilheard

Take the horses. Sure, sir.

Wilheard lead the two horses to the stables with care, but anger was sparkling in his countenance. The horses could sense it, and were nervous. This time Wilheard didn't pause even for a second to calm them. He was annoyed.

Yes, Wulfric was the boss. He was bigger, and smarter. And older and more experienced. He was happy enough to be his brother's right hand - too much responsibility didn't suit him well anyway - but he would definitely not be a squire or a page to be ordered around. Wulf would need to learn that, better sooner or later.

"Good morning, sir!" greeted a cheerful voice.
"Morning, Baldwic," Wilheard replied. Baldwic was a few years his senior and they had been training together a few times recently. Wilheard liked him well enough even though he thought the guy was still a bit of a baby.

It was quiet in the stables and most of the soldiers gathered there were now looking at Wilheard. He knew Wulfric would've said something to the assembled soldiers, but he just stuck the reins of the two horses to Baldwic's hand.

"Bald - take care of these for me, or find a stableboy to do it in your stead."
"Sure, sir," the soldier replied but his young master had already turned and was striding out of the stable door.

He spotted Wulfric and Scyrr quickly - they hadn't moved - and ran to them.


Wulfric

"It was the stinking tanner Erbrand... He tried to kill me. I am sorry..."

Wulfric clenched his fists. He had known the locals were up to no good, but he hadn't expected anything like this yet. He rebuked himself; he needed learn out of such naivety if he strived to be a good leader or soldier some day.

Scyrr looked bad, worse than he had first thought. Wulfric's eyes scanned the yard and spotted a woman with a bucket of water.

"Hey! You there! If you have a healer in this place, find him and bring him here now!"

The woman laid her bucket on the ground and hurried off.

Scyrr tried to talk. "They... they already..."
"Don't speak," Wulfric cut off the soldier's talk. "You need to make a distiguishable report to your Eorl, so save your words."

Wulfric didn't exactly enjoy saying those words, but there was enough soldier in him to put practical matters before pride in such minor things and to respect a commander even if there were doubts on his sanity.

Where was Will when he was needed? He needed someone to stay with Scyrr and take care of the matters for a second.

"I'm here," said a voice behind his back and Wulfric turned quickly just to see his brother standing next to him.
"Need to practice your hearing, soldier, you should've hear me running here had you been concentrating at all," Wilheard remarked.
"Now's no time for idle banter," Wulfric retorted. "I'll go find Father, you stay here with Scyrr. A healer's coming for him - that is if the locals can be trusted."

Without further ceremonies, Wulfric hurried away to find his father. It wasn't very difficult - Athanar walked out of the door of the great hall just when Wulfric was at the doorstep and they literally bumped into each other.

"Sir," Wulfric said quickly. "Scyrr is wounded. He says he was attacked by the local tanner, named Erbrand. Will is now with him - they're in the far end of the yard there, by the trees. I have sent for a healer."

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Old 03-24-2010, 10:06 PM   #723
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Saeryn had left Athanar in the great hall soon after the rest of the people had left. She had stood by while Javan made his apology and then she and Athanar had finished their discussion and she retired for a brief time to her room. She could not rest long, for much pressed on her mind. So she rose and went out, leaving soon after Æðelhild and Matrim had finished speaking with Athanar, but she knew not of their meeting with him.

As she came out into the courtyard, she spotted Erbrand coming out from the kitchen. At first, she paid little mind to him, it was normal enough to see him there during the day, but something caused her to take a second glance, and this time she noted the drawn expression about his mouth, and his lowered eyebrows. He did not appear as he normally did. He hastened towards the stables, but she called him back. He stopped and turned and then came towards her several steps.

“My lady,” he said. “I am taking my leave.”

“So suddenly, Erbrand?” she asked. “Why?”

“Something has come up. I cannot explain, but you will find out soon enough.”

“I hope you do not feel that because Eodwine has left and Athanar is taking his place that you are no longer wanted here.”

“No, lady,” he said, a wistful look passing over his face. But he did not explain himself. “I must go. I bid you farewell, and I hope that justice is done here, and you are treated as you should be, and nothing that is yours is taken from you.”

Saeryn shook her head, confused, but he turned and hurried away. She stood, staring after him, wondering what brought this on and what she should do about it. The morning had already been confusing enough, what with Athanar’s offer to her of adoption and her child, if it were male, taking the place of heir of Scarburg. She did not feel she needed this extra burden laid on her. But Erbrand was one of Eodwine’s men. What was happening here? Would the place disintegrate, despite Athanar’s careful attempts to keep the people together?

She was still wondering this when she saw not only Erbrand exit on horseback, but coming behind him on his own horse, Lithor rode also. She stood stock still in the courtyard, incapable of calling after them. She did not believe it. She could not believe it. This action was entirely against both their characters, but there they were, both leaving.

It was not so much for Erbrand to go. He had the right to stay or leave as he pleased, but Lithor was part of the eorl’s guard. He was bound, by his word and by the expectations laid upon a man-at-arms, to not abandon his lord and his companions. But it was clear enough that he had every intention of going and not returning.

Saeryn watched them until they were out of sight and then she turned and hurried to the kitchen. If Erbrand had told anyone what had happened to make him leave in such a manner, it would have been Kara.

She found her seated on the hearth, with her hands clasped between her knees, doing nothing. Her eyes were red, and her face pale, but she was not crying.

“Kara,” Saeryn said, coming inside. “What has happened? Why has Erbrand left?”

Kara did not look towards her. “He has. . .he killed. . .” she shot a wavering glance towards Saeryn and her eyes swam with tears. “It cannot be hidden, you will find out soon enough!” She covered her face with her hands and rocked back and forth, silently weeping.

Saeryn stood as though struck by lightning on the doorstep. She wondered if this numb feeling that she felt was because so much had already happened that day, or because for some reason she did not really care. She felt she did not fully understand. Of course, Kara had not spoken plainly, so how could she understand? What had he killed? Rather, who had he killed? For it must be a man for him to run, and for Kara to be incapable of telling her.

But her questions were answered in a brief moment. While she still stood in uncertainty just inside the kitchen, Fordides and Ginna both suddenly entered behind her. She turned slowly, as though in a dream, and saw them both, observing instantly Fordides flushed face and Ginna’s pale one.

“Oh, lady Saeyrn!” Ginna said, reaching forward and grasping her hand. “Thank goodness you are here. I don’t know what to do. We brought him back as best we could, but he’s badly hurt.”

“Who is?” Saeryn asked.

“It’s that Scyrr fellow,” Fordides answered. She seemed a little tamer than usual, and her eyes were abnormally wide. “Erbrand ‘most killed him, he did, and it was all Ginna and I could do to get him off ‘im.”

Although she knew that Scyrr was one of Athanar’s men and this would mean further trouble with Athanar, she no longer had anything with which to react. Her face did not change, nor did her feelings. She felt cold and unmoved. “Where is Scyrr now?” Saeryn asked.

“Outside. We set him in the wagon. We don’t know what to do. What will happen to Erbrand? Should we tell lord Athanar what we saw?”

Saeryn stepped past them and looked out. Only when she saw Scyrr, looking sick and badly hurt, and Athanar’s oldest son standing by and talking to him did the full realization of the situation come to her. She felt scared again. Almost as badly scared as she had been the previous night when she thought Athanar was going to be a tyrannical ruler who ran Scarburg like a military outpost. Lithor had been punished mercifully, but he had run from it. Then Erbrand, despite seeing how Athanar behaved similarly to Eodwine, and hearing that the two people must become one, had almost killed one of Athanar’s men and then fled. What would Athanar feel necessary to do? How would he react?

“Fordides,” Saeryn whispered. “Fordides, I feel I am going to faint.”
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:25 PM   #724
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Athanar, sons & Scyrr

"Sir," Wulfric said quickly. "Scyrr is wounded. He says he was attacked by the local tanner, named Erbrand. Will is now with him - they're in the far end of the yard there, by the trees. I have sent for a healer."

Lord Athanar felt like his heart paused for a beat or two. Oh no... not this... not this anymore...

For a moment Wulfric searched in vain for an answer from his father's face.

"Can he be moved? Move him here if he can!" Lord Athanar tried to come to grips with the reality. "Now where did you say he was?"

Wulfric pointed a finger and Athanar nodded feverishly. This was something he didn't like that much but what he was so good at as to rise up to a position he had. He knew how to act in these situations and he was already transforming into that mode of being.

"Forget bringing him here! See to it yourself the healer is being brought up! See it like it was your brother's life at stake! Find Coen and Thornden to organise a full search for the tanner and to secure any other folks that might be endangered by a lunatic! Then make them come to me as it were! Like now! Hurry up!"

He didn't wait for his son to answer him but rushed towards the trees to find Willheard trying to keep Scyrr conscious. Lord Athanar kneeled beside his son and inspected Scyrr's wounds in a haste.

"Don't worry pal, you'll be alright..." Athanar said gripping his shoulder firmly and covering his cheek with his palm. Looking him into the eyes lord Athanar whispered silently but firmly "Whatever this was and whyever it was... rest assured my man, the justice will be done... and you will live to see it done."

Scyrr tried to moan something but lord Athanar put a finger on his lips and hushed him silent. "There's time for everything Scyrr. Trust me, I've seen men dying and you don't look like one. Breathe now, don't fade, don't try anything. Breathe. Help is coming. Take it easy. Breathe. We know it was the tanner... take it easy... breathe... take it easy... breathe... take it easy... breathe..."

He almosted lulled the man into relaxation. Willheard was not sure he believied his eyes. What was his father doing? Athanar felt the astonishment of his son and turned towards him when Scyrr had fell back to concentrate on just breathing.

"Men are frail son. They are frail when they fear death. A good leader stands beside his men and encourages them. Unless you're a healer there's not much else you can do. But even that can be crucial. And there is not such a low man a good leader wouldn't support, even with his life..." Lord Athanar's whisper died in the air as the noise of the oncoming footsteps overcame it.
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:17 PM   #725
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Wulfric

"Forget bringing him here! See to it yourself the healer is being brought up! See it like it was your brother's life at stake! Find Coen and Thornden to organise a full search for the tanner and to secure any other folks that might be endangered by a lunatic! Then make them come to me as it were! Like now! Hurry up!"

"Yes, sir," Wulfric said - to thin air, for his father had already dashed away. Veteran's efficiency or lunatic's impulsiveness, Wulfric didn't know which one, and he didn't not have time wonder about it.

His eyes scanned the yard and found flocks of soldiers wandering towards the stables or the kitchens. Drills over, he guessed and started striding towards the training fields with a quick pace, but soon broke into a run.

"Coenred!" he called when he saw the commander talking with the peasant officer, Thornden. Both the officers were alert immediately.

"Scyrr has been attacked by the local tanner, who has fled somewhere. You two are to organise a search for the assaulter and see that the folk are safe. After that, the Eorl requires to see you."
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:25 AM   #726
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SCYRR

Everything was a-whirl. The fever that overtook Scyrr was nothing like any sickness he had known, the scalding heat and shivering chill alternating in turns. Every time he took a shuddering gasp, his slender frame was wracked by spastic coughs that yielded dark, coagulated blood. His breath was a dry rasp in his throat. The nervous and fitful rush of adrenaline that had enabled him to stand in the presence of Lord Wulfric only went so far; the moment he was out of sight, he collapsed. Blood from his crushed larynx spilled into his lungs in lieu of air. They called it drowning on dry land in the Mark, he remembered hazily. His vision blurred as he stared blankly up at the jagged outlines of green treetops silhouetted against the reddening sunset of the sky.

Did a minute pass, or a thousand?

Then a hand brushed his cheek. He almost pulled away with a cry because it seemed too icy a touch to his fevered brow. It jarred him awake from his half-trance, and with consciousness came back the feverish loop of nightmarish visions that danced before him, the searing pain in his lungs, now desperate for air, and the sharp metallic taste of blood. He wished he could fade once more. But the panicky buzz of conversation now pressed their claim to be heard, and the blurs focused themselves into recognizable features, and…

His eyes widened. For a moment he would have leapt to attention, abashed. However, his injured leg buckled under the sudden pressure, and he collapsed back down, pallid as a ghost and swallowing with difficulty a cry of pain. He had not wanted to be seen by Lord Athenar. Not like this. Not when he had let him down like this.

"I'm sorry." He whispered, a pleading look to his eyes, too weak to add the 'For letting you down'.

He had come off worst in a brawl with a craftsman, lowest among the commoners, who presumed to challenge not only his authority but dared to assault a rider of the Mark. And he got away with it. This insubordination, this wanton disregard of authorities, this vicious streak of violence, the baseborn tanner got away with all this because he did not have the power to check the cur's insolence. He had dragged the honor of serving under the banner of Lord Athanar through the mud. It was a shame which he would never live down. Looking into the ashen-gray eyes of Lord Athanar, Scyrr braced himself for disappointment, or even anger; he would deserve it and more. But there wasn’t a single accusatory look from his liege-lord, only concern. It took a moment before Scyrr realized - to his amazement and chagrin - that *Lord Athanar* was trying to comfort *him*, to ease *him* of his anguish, when he himself had a precarious political crisis on his hands. Not to mention that lord seem too preoccupied to even notice that his fine raiment was all bloodstained with his syrupy blood.

"Breathe now, don't fade, don't try anything. Breathe. Help is coming. Take it easy. Breathe." Lord Athanar said gently.

Abashed at this unlooked-for compassion in his lord, Scyrr momentarily struggled to disentangle himself from Lord Athanar's grasp. He didn’t deserve this. Besides, he had to track down that... But none of his sinews responded to his command. With a painful sigh, he let himself go limp, listening to the distant sound of the soothing words that his lord whispered. Before lapsing into a fitful sleep, it was with a flash of his temper that Scyrr snarled to himself, 'And as for you, Erbrand, you should count yourself lucky if you're the only person I kill over this.'
.

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Old 04-13-2010, 01:31 PM   #727
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Coenred was surprised by the approach of Wulfric, who ran towards them with clear urgency. He called out to Coen and Thornden before he even stopped, and the two men stood essentially at attention. It was not often that the Lord Athanar put either of his sons in command, but the Captain served them as well. He saluted the young man when he finished speaking, his mind still processing what he had just heard.

Were things not more urgent Coen would have sighed in sad exasperation. So that was at least one missing man accounted for... Had there been a moment's peace since their arrival? It had been nothing but petty politics and brawls, as if these were a desperate people. Coen did not understand it. He glanced at Thornden, observing his reaction. He doubted that young man understood it either -- he seemed a good, level-headed man, contrary to what was often typical of his age.

"We will at once," he said. Attacked... "Dead?" he asked grimly. Coen began going over in his mind what men he would trust with this search and the security of the town. He would snatch up Hilderinc first, as usual. Three groups, with himself, Thornden, and Hilderinc as officers. Two on foot, one on horseback to scour the surrounding area. Coen doubted the man would be foolish enough to hide, particularly if he had killed the soldier. And he hoped no one would take him in. More than likely he would be on foot... Perhaps two groups on horseback.

Attacked by the tanner...alone? That was difficult to believe. Coen had met this tanner, and he knew Scyrr.

Having received an answer from Wulfric, he turned to Thornden. "I recommend three groups, led by you, me, and Hilderinc, my most able man. I suggest we send my party and Hilderinc's out on horseback to search for him outside the town, as he has likely fled. You can see to the safety of the town with the majority of the guards, as well as see if he has chosen to hide. Are there hunting dogs we can use? A tanner has an easy scent to follow."

Thornden and the resident guards still knew the town and its people best, and would be better trusted. Coen and Hilderinc would better serve more as enforcers than protectors for the time being.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:05 PM   #728
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So many questions and possibilities were spinning about in Thornden’s head that he did not know how to answer Coenred. “I don’t want your men to-” he began. “I mean, I don’t think lord Athanar meant us to go,” he stammered.

That was a poor way to put his thoughts. He tried to lay aside personal feelings and shock from the reported incident and spoke more clearly.

“I understood lord Athanar’s command to mean that we are to organize the searching parties and send them out, but we are to report to him as directly as possible, whereas were we to go out searching, we may be delayed for hours.” The two looked at each other. There was a pause, and then Coenred conceded.

"You are right," he said. His words were short and clipped, and his tone tense. "It is best for us to go to the Lord Athanar directly. I will give orders for the search parties to form, and then we will go to the Hall."

Thornden nodded and they strode together towards the stables. Another thing bothered Thornden, though, but if he voiced his concern it may cause a wedge to be driven between the two of them, and their men. Still, after going about ten paces, he had made up his mind to speak despite the possibilities of that.

“Captain,” Thornden said without slowing his pace. “If Athanar does expect us to go out with the search parties, after he has spoken to us, I would rather I was one to lead one of the search parties out. It is absolutely unnecessary to keep a group behind to protect the others, Erbrand is not dangerous unprovoked, and he will not make any further attacks, I can vouch for that. As you say, it is improbable that he stayed and tried to hide, but if he did, Hilderinc will be capable of searching the place. Also…” and here he paused. “If we do overcome him, I feel I should be there. And if we are not to go with the search parties, send Balvir, or Matrim, or Lithor...Lithor!" Thornden stopped in his tracks and things became suddenly clearer to him. He had seen Lithor during the drills, not coming down to join them, but riding...somewhere. He had not thought much of it at the time, uncertain if what had happened that morning had given Lithor different duties than joining the drill, but now he knew that had not been the case. Thornden had just seen the second rider beyond Lithor, and though he had not seen his face, he now guessed his identity.

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Old 04-20-2010, 03:18 PM   #729
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Javan had been unable to shake the other children, and unequally unable to find either Raban or Ædre. He was beginning to worry about what to do when shouts and running feet caught all four of the children’s attention. They hurried from the smithy where they had been standing idly watching Harreld at work to the courtyard. Javan rounded the corner of the kitchen first and he came to an abrupt halt. Garmund and Cnebba collided into him and Leoðern stumbled to a halt behind them.

“What is it?” Garmund whispered. Javan herded them back with his arm.

“S-sh!” he hissed. He pushed his way back and stepped out of sight again. The three younger children looked at him with huge, round eyes and open mouths.

“What is it?”

“It’s one of the men.” He nodded his head in that direction. “He’s hurt and Athanar and one of his sons is with him, and they seem really worried.”

“Who is it?” Cnebba asked.

Javan shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ll see if I can find out.” He waved them back away from the edge of the building and then stealthily stuck his head out to look. The other three, despite his warning, crowded behind him to look, too.

“It’s not one of our men,” Cnebba observed.

“So it’s a new guard, who’s come with Athanar,” Garmund surmised.

“It’s the one who got into a fight yesterday with Matrim,” Javan announced. “He’s in a bad way, he might be dying. There’s blood coming out of his mouth.”

“Oh!” Leoðern squeaked. Garmund half turned and put his hand ineffectively over her eyes. As he turned away to look again, she pulled his hand down and continued staring as well.

“What’s lord Athanar doing?” Javan wondered aloud. None of the children had any answer. “Shouldn’t the healer be with him yet? Why aren’t they doing anything for him?”

“Look!” Leoðern said, pointing. “There she comes now.” The children all turned to look. Æðel was hurrying behind Wulfric, one of the eorl’s sons. They watched her like hawks as she drew near Athanar and Scyrr and then they crouched once again against the stonework of the kitchen so they could observe the proceedings without being observed themselves. This day was turning out to be quite interesting.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:41 PM   #730
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Lord Athanar witnessed his man going limp and fading from the here and now. He let the man down carefully not releasing the grip on his throat where the major wound was. He fought against the blood pouring freely from the cut but didn't make a number of it to his son. It was better he didn't understand the situation or need to face a dying man.

Lord Athanar pressed Scyrr's throat. The blood was slowly pouring out from between his fingers however he tried to keep them closed together. He was frustrated.

"Where's the nurse? We need her now. Nurse!"

"I'm here my lord..." Aedhel arrived just then and kneeled alongside Scyrr's body immediately noticing lord Athanar's bloody hand pressing on his throat.

"Yes, that bad..." Athanar answered to her glance before she opened her mouth. "Bandage... now."

Aedhel produced a linen and leaned forwards to Athanar. "On your mark my lord..."

Athanar gave room to the healer trying to get his arms off the way while maintaining the pressure on the wound with his hands. "Ready..."

Aedhel nodded and pressed the linen over lord Athanar's hands while letting him to carefully lift the head up. "Wait... easy, easy", she muttered while lord Athanar tried to both lift Scyrr's head and to ease his grip on the wound so that the bandage could be made. "Right... right..." Athanar whispered while trying to help with the folding of the linen. Slowly they managed to wrap the linen a few rounds and lord Athanar had almost slipped his hands from the wound. Only three fingers were now pressing it.

He turned to Aedhel. "Ready?". Aedhel nodded. Lord Athanar slipped his fingers from the cut and pressed on the bandage which Aedhel had tightened that second the pressure was lifted from it. They looked at each other and smiled in relief, even if there was no security of what would follow. But they had made it.

Lord Athanar rose up quite slowly leaving Aedhel to check the other wounds and to assess the condition of the patient. Suddenly he turned around and kicked a small rock in fury. The rock flew a good thirty feet hitting a tree.

I will have no more of this... no more...

But even in his anger he realised the other cause of his strong feelings... the war... the times he had witnessed the same thing... the times he had managed to help... and the times it had been futile... how many men had he seen dying from that close? He didn't remember.

"Coen! Where on earth are you?! Thornden!?"

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Old 04-21-2010, 12:45 AM   #731
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Hilderinc

Hilderinc had unsaddled his horse and then turned to go only to bump into Áforglaed, who was among the last ones leaving the stables. He looked confused, as if he only just realised Hilderinc was standing there, and he was having his right thumb in his mouth and sucking it.

"Enjoy your meal," said Hilderinc. "But perhaps I would wait for the lunch if I were you."

Áforglaed quickly removed the thumb from his mouth and wiped it to his trousers. Hilderinc noticed that it was slightly blue in color.

"That was probably not a very safe training for you, was it."

"Says the one who has been coaching babies," muttered Áforglaed, more like to himself, but Hilderinc heard him well enough. He looked around to see if Quin was nearby.

"Are you going out?" he asked then, turning back to the other soldier. "You are standing in the way."

"Ah – yes," Áforglaed seemed rather distracted. Hilderinc could very easily imagine that he had some of the young ladies in the Hall on his mind, or something like that.

"Have you seen Scyrr?" Áforglaed asked suddenly, as they were coming out of the stables.

So maybe it was not about ladies after all. "I don't know," Hilderinc said aloud. "Wasn't he sent back for some help duty after the first round?"

"He was," the fair-haired soldier nodded. "But I have expected him to be here when we arrive, helping to take care of the horses. He'd said that he's going to be here."

Hilderinc shrugged. "Maybe he is still helping. You can go and look at the kitchens – maybe you will get -"

He stopped and frowned, noticing something strange around the corner across the courtyard. Áforglaed followed his gaze. "What is that?" he asked. "Lord Athanar?"

Hilderinc did not say anything, he only took a deep breath. There was no doubt about what he was looking at.
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Old 04-21-2010, 03:41 PM   #732
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If Coen had been ten years younger he would have gone quite red, but by now he had lost that care. Likely the young man was right. Athanar would wish to speak with them. He was not a soldier anymore -- not really. He was a Captain, he had a title and position and responsibilities that came with it that had nothing to do with being a soldier. At least, as far as he was concerned. Now that his lord was lord of his own Hall, he would be spending more time at Athanar's side. Most of his time since arriving had been spent in some form of meeting, it seemed.

He conceded that they should go directly to Athanar, and quickened his pace towards the stables, his mind filled with frustration over Erbrand, the search parties, Thornden, and this entire burg. Thornden had begun to speak his mind openly, only to switch back to a more subtle approach to getting what he wanted. Coenred was not surprised when the young man spoke again, voicing more eloquently what the Captain thought he had began to say.

My men, he thought, my men versus his... And Thornden wished to "be there if they found him." To protect him? "He is not dangerous unless provoked...will not make any further attacks..." Thornden certainly seemed to think he knew the man well, but they had yet to know what had happened, and how 'provoked' Erbrand indeed was. Coen did not look at the younger man until the mention of Lithor. He looked at Thornden sharply, as something obviously clicked inside the man's head. But he did not elaborate.

"There will be two search parties to scour the surrounding lands. If the Lord Athanar thinks it right, you may be at the head of one. And if you think I will only send out those men who came here under my command yesterday...I am not sure what gave you that impression. As for Lithor...all I know is that he was not at the drills," he said pointedly. It was as he expected. "You apparently seem to know more. We will have to speak with the Lord Athanar about it."

They entered the stables, and Coen handed the reins off to a stablehand, calling out for Hilderinc, to see if the man was still seeing to his horse. A soldier responded that he had seen him head out into the courtyard. Coen told the soldiers still present in the stable, a mix of men new and old to Scarburg, to stop stabling their horses. "The tanner Erbrand has been declared a fugitive. Search parties will be organized to go after him. Be prepared to leave as soon as possible and assemble out on the grounds. Hilderinc, with or without me, will return with further instructions."

Coen and Thornden then swiftly made their way up to the courtyard to when they heard an angry voice that was strange to Coen's ears, "Coen! Where on earth are you?! Thornden!?"

"Here, my Lord!" he replied loudly, heading towards the sound at a trot to then bow and stand at attention before his lord, nearly running into Hilderinc in the process. He was shocked to find Athanar in such a rage, and with his hands and his shirt-sleeves covered in blood. Coen felt fear for Scyrr mixed with admiration for his lord, and on top of it all shock and anger over what had happened. But he did not have time to feel these things.

"The men are assembling to be sent out in search parties, my lord. Two on horseback will scour the surrounding countryside. One party will remain here and search the Mead Hall and see to its safety. If this is acceptable, my lord."

"I also ask your permission to go out myself, my lord," he added quickly.

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Old 04-21-2010, 04:28 PM   #733
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With Coenred's briefing lord Athanar finally fell back into the world of the leader of the rohirrim in a fight, the one in charge of his own men and being effective at that. There was no room for feelings of anger or hate. It was cool rationality driven by the care and honour of his men.

"Thornden! You might have an idea where he might wish to run for. The marshes? Wasn't he a kind of a hunter? Or where would he go if he'd decide to fool us? Two or three small parties on those areas, back in an hour. The trace is probably cold anyway."

Thornden nodded and tried to answer but lord Athanar was already turning to Coenred.

"Coen! One party to the most likely route to the south with fast horses, and gather information while you go for any sightings of him, spread if you need to. Back before the sun sets! Clear?"

"Aye sir. Loud and clear sir!"

"And Coen, order some of the experienced ones from our host to Thornden who will then lead the search within the perimeters around here." Here he glanced at Thornden to get his nod of confirmation.

After looking at the two captains Athanar finally sighed letting his head fall down for a moment only to recover his posture in a flash.

"I'm afraid the trail might be cold already, but do your best. For the sake of the security of everyone here, and for the sake of justice." He gazed at the two one at the time. "Now we are tested, we really are... Be back for the evening meal, everyone." His eyes went blank and he just stared into some nothingness far behind the backs of the two.

Lord Athanar's head was exploding with the feelings of anger and frustration, and different scenarios of how this could affect the Mead Hall, and how he should try to handle it, whatever way it would go.

The two were standing in front of him and exchanging careful glances as they were not quite sure whether they had been given a leave or not.

"Go! Go now!"
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Old 04-22-2010, 05:01 AM   #734
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Hilderinc and Áforglaed

"It's Scyrr!" cried Áforglaed. Hilderinc grabbed his shoulder. "Wait," he said. At that moment, captain Coenred and Thornden ran past them.

"What happened to him?" Áforglaed asked, as if expecting Hilderinc to give him the answer. He was still looking in the direction of the lying man, but standing his ground.

"I think we are going to learn very soon," Hilderinc said. "Look! Lord Athanar is giving orders to the Captain."

"Do you think we are under attack?" Áforglaed looked around, as if he was expecting enemies to start jumping from behind the corners in any moment. "Wasn't it so that the locals had problems with the other lords? Do you think they will strike to intimidate us?"

"Calm down," Hilderinc said. It was obvious to him that something very bad must have happened, especially since Athanar himself and both of the officers were present, but it was no good to start speculating and panicking. And especially if the leaders have already come with orders as to what must be done, it was crucial to maintain order and let them announce whatever was necessary and tell the others what had happened. Shocked Áforglaed running into the middle of the discussing Captains and Athanar would not only prove embarassing, but also possibly unnecessarily distracting for the leaders. And Áforglaed running back to others and spreading panic would be even worse. Hilderinc looked at the other soldier's pale face. Once again he was reminded of how unexperienced many of the other soldiers were in comparison to him. All their life mostly in barracks, never seeing a real battle or being forced to deal with tough real-life situations. Áforglaed seemed shocked and scared. Of course, Scyrr was also one of his friends, it was all too understandable to Hilderinc that Áforglaed wanted to see if he was all right. But if they wait only a while, they will surely be informed.

Lord Athanar seemed rather agitated and Hilderinc now could hear him shout: "Go! Go now!" It's our turn then, he thought. And he was right. Coenred and Thornden turned towards them. Hilderinc once again gripped Áforglaed's shoulder.

"Don't ask," he intercepted Áforglaed's expected questions. "They will surely tell us themselves what happened to Scyrr. See, they are coming."
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Old 04-23-2010, 05:14 PM   #735
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Thornden knew which way they had gone. He had watched them leave. Why then did he say nothing? He knew that if he told them that he had seen them leave, they would focus all of their men on searching in that direction, which would give them much greater chances of catching them.

If they were caught, what then? Thornden thought of the consequences. Erbrand faced certain death if he were caught and brought back. It was uncertain that Scyrr would live, and even if he did, by all appearances, Erbrand had made an attempt on his life. Thornden guessed how the encounter had gone. Scyrr had provoked Erbrand to the point of blind fury, and Erbrand had attacked him. Murder had not been Erbrand’s intent. If it had, he would not have failed. Rather, he was fighting because of something Scyrr had said or done, and though Erbrand’s response had not been right, it had not been wrong enough for him to die for it, and still, that would be his punishment. As for Lithor. . .Thornden was less certain about what Athanar would deal out to him. Lithor had already been disgraced and punishmed for a far less serious crime. That likely was why he ran. But what would happen if he were brought back, hunted the same as Erbrand? Thornden felt revulsion to the idea. Lithor was an honorable man, and to see him further humiliated and punished was a thought not to be born.

If he did not tell them, the search parties would be spread out thinly, and the possibilities of catching them were far slimmer. Athanar asked him to arrange three small parties to search the marshes, and he told Coenred to take the largest party out on what he figured to be the most likely escape route for the fugitive – South, along the main roads. But this was wrong, and Thornden knew very, very well they had gone in the opposite direction.

The choice therefore was either to tell Athanar and Coenred which direction they had gone and almost certainly seal Lithor’s and Erbrand’s fate, or to say nothing, and almost certain ensure their escape. On the one hand lay duty to his eorl and his position. On the other, lay loyalty to his two friends. For once his sense of duty was trumped by something else.

The thoughts passed swiftly through his mind in much less time than it takes to record them, and the decision was made just as quickly. He glanced sidelong at Coenred, who was looking at him, and then looked at Athanar, just as Athanar gave his final command to go.
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Old 04-25-2010, 12:18 AM   #736
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Lilige pursed her mouth as she examined the room. Not a thing was out of place and not a surface needed dusting. She sighed contentedly, but couldn't help wondering what she should do now. She paused for a moment, then decided on going to the kitchen. It wasn't so long ago that she'd left the other women there - quite abrubtly and rudely, really - so hopefully some of them would still be there. Lilige hoped they weren't so uncivilized as the male Scarburgians seemed to be.

Lilige peeked into the kitchen. She saw some other people there, including the Lady Saeryn. Three other women, whose names Lilige didn't know, were gathered around her, looking worried. Lilige walked over to them. On close inspection, Lady Saeryn looked alarmingly pale, and the others seemed agitated as well.

"What is happening?" she asked, worried.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:51 AM   #737
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Kara crouched on the hearth soundless and tearless in her shock. She rocked back and forth as would a small child, her hands clasped between her knees, the silence disturbed by not so much as a whimper or a sigh. Even the tears were run dry. For what could she say? They would hunt Erbrand down. It was all she could do to gasp out to Lady Saeryn the reason Erbrand left, though even that, she could not finish in her grief; ‘He has killed a soldier of Athanar. Nothing but a hangman's rope awaits him in Scarburg now.’

Ever since the hour Erbrand confessed his love for her, Kara had felt secure and content in that she had someone to protect her. Besides, she had been fond of Erbrand. Even loved him, perhaps. The question played in an endless loop in her mind: Should she have left with Erbrand? Lady Saeryn would have others to help her in her hour of need, but Erbrand was alone and unprotected in the wilderness. It was a question to which she already knew the answer, but this did not make it any easier on her. Kara had known better than abandon Lady Saeryn and run off with Erbrand beyond the borders of Rohan. Kara would have liked nothing better, but she couldn’t… she couldn’t. Not when Saeryn had a baby on the way. Erbrand had whispered of his destination to her, biding the time when she would be no longer bound by the fetters of her duty to the House of Eodwine, but such a day was long off yet.

Kara heard Ginna and Fordides tell Lady Saeryn what happened, though everything seemed but a distant murmur to her. Then Saeryn slowly walked to the window and looked out, the slight flush on her cheeks draining away from her already-pale countenance as the ruckus outside reached its peak. There was sadness in her eyes, and… Kara flinched, and looked up at her mistress, wide-eyed. Fear? What had lady Saeryn to be afraid? Then the answer hit her as soon as she asked herself this question: it was Athanar’s soldier that Erbrand had slain in his fury, and the proud Eorl would not be pleased. Lord Athenar’s rage might even direct itself towards-

“Frodides,” Lady Saeryn whispered, “I feel I am going to faint.”

Kara supported Lady Saeryn as she stumbled away from the windowsill, a pallor cast over her countenance. It was a mechanical movement at first, Kara was not even aware of supporting her, her mind numb with grief. Then, prompted by the silky feel of Lady Saeryn’s dress and her warmth, the reality of the situation rushed back and overwhelmed her in one fell swoop. Erbrand, her intended, pursued for murder of that young soldier with insolent eyes! Kara broke down at last crying and tearfully clung to Lady Saeryn's hand.

“My lady Saeryn,” Kara sobbed, “Erbrand has asked me to come with him. He told me where I could find him when all this ruckus died down, but I just couldn’t leave you… I couldn’t…”

Kara had not checked her words, for she had not realized that Lady Wynflaed's chambermaid Lilige stood wide-eyed on the threshold of the kitchen.
.

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Old 04-25-2010, 05:53 PM   #738
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Saeryn didn’t faint. She did not even half loose her senses. She felt weak, though, and was grateful of the support of the three ladies about her. They helped her to a seat. She laid her head in one palm while her elbow rested on the table. She told herself over and over to get up and not to be weak, she had to think – think!

And then she was aware of Kara at her side, clinging to her hand and weeping. Saeryn turned her head towards her and bent her mind to listen. “My lady Saeryn,” Kara sobbed, “Erbrand has asked me to come with him. He told me where I could find him when all this ruckus died down and it was safe for me to come to him, but I just couldn’t leave you… I couldn’t…”

Saeryn lifted her head and finally roused herself. Whatever happened, she had to be able to meet it. She was the Eodwine’s wife, the lady of Scarburg, and therefore the lady of these women around her. She had to be strong enough to lead them now, or she would not be strong enough to lead them at any other time. Kara made this as clear as day to her now, for Kara had been braver in the face of calamity than Saeryn herself. She was shamed by the loyalty and duty of this young woman.

“What is happening?” a voice asked from behind them. They all turned, startled. It was Lilige, Lady Wynflaed’s maidservant. Saeryn rose to her feet.

“There is trouble outside,” she said, and her voice was steady. “I do not know what action lord Athanar will wish to take in regards to the trouble, but I think that lady Wynflaed should be informed. Lilige, please send word to your mistress and tell her I would like to speak with her. I will be in the hall.”
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:49 PM   #739
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"Yes, Lady Saeryn," Lilige said. She glanced back over her shoulder. She felt sorry for the woman, whose name she didn't know, but she wondered why this Erbrand had left. Lilige turned to face forwards again, luckily managing not to run into the doorway, and paused outside the kitchen, unsure of where to find Lady Wynflaed. Lilige guessed that she would either be with her sons, Lord Athanar, or attending to the supplies or servants, but she didn't know where the men or servants would be. This narrowed her options down a bit, so she headed in the direction she thought the storage areas were.

A few minutes later she passed the kitchen again, heading in the opposite direction. The storage areas had not been down that corridor. Lilige hoped she could figure out how to get around in this maze-like place soon enough.

"My Lady?" she called, entering the chamber and recognizing . "My Lady Wynflaed, Lady Saeryn wants to speak with you in the hall. She says there's trouble outside. The other women are upset, too. Something must have happened...and they mentioned someone named Erbrand."
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:07 PM   #740
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Thornden glanced sidelong at Coenred, who was looking at him, and then looked at Athanar, just as Athanar gave his final command to go.

"Wait", lord Athanar ordered looking at the two closely. "Is there something I'd need to know?"
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:38 PM   #741
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"My Lady Wynflaed, Lady Saeryn wants to speak with you in the hall. She says there's trouble outside. The other women are upset, too. Something must have happened...and they mentioned someone named Erbrand."

Wynflaed turned from the mental inventory she was making, only briefly closing her eyes to commit where she had left off to memory.

"I am sorry, Lilige," she said. "I am afraid I was not listening. Why does Lady Saeryn wish to speak with me?"

Lilige repeated her account of what had happened. Wynflaed's eyes narrowed. Her first thoughts went to her husband--but Athanar had not been planning on going out of doors when she had left him, and if Saeryn was sending for her and not him it meant he was already in the thick of things. As he generally is, she thought.

"Thank you, Lilige," she said. "See what you can learn of what has happened, and offer your assistance as you may. I will go and see the Lady Saeryn."

Only taking a brief look back at the storeroom, she walked down the corridor and into the hall.

"Lady Saeryn," she said. "Tell me what has happened."

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Old 04-29-2010, 09:07 PM   #742
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Coenred eyed Thornden once Athanar had finished his instructions, remembering what the man had begun to say earlier...something about Lithor. And Coen doubted it as anything good. But Thornden made no indication that he was going to speak. The Captain's look turned briefly into a suspicious glare before he turned back to Athanar with a plain if stern look on his face when his lord spoke.

"I believe so, my lord. Lithor was not at the training exercises, my lord. Was he detained by you after the trial? If not, I do not know what that might mean."

He waited for Athanar's response, which he was sure would be brief, on the balls of his feet, ready to give Hilderinc orders on his way back to the stables. Luckily both he and his horse were still ready from the exercises -- they would be ready to depart in minutes.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:31 AM   #743
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KARA

Kara had the presence of the mind to let go of Lady Saeryn's sleeves. She swallowed a half-sob and dried her eyes on her sleeves. Death was copper-a-dozen in this harsh borderlands; Scarburgians learned to live with the shadow of death on their doorsteps since the time they were in their swaddling cloth. There was nothing that she could do for Erbrand. Now she had to focus on the living, especially Lady Saeryn, who had enough misery and misfortune on her hands without her wailings to further complicate the matters.

And if they attempt to accuse me of being implicit in Erbrand's crime, for better commanders than Lord Athanar have lost their levelheadedness when they saw blood of their sworn men spilt, at least I'd give them no cause to drag Lady Saeryn into it, Kara whispered to herself.

"This would all pass over, Lady Saeryn." Kara smiled with as brave a nonchalance as she could muster under the circumstances, attempting to reassure Lady Saeryn, although how much she was taken in Kara was not at all sure. Not at all, probably. But she had to try anyway; she was Lady Saeryn's handmaid. If she wouldn't comfort her, who would?

Lady Saeryn looked at her for a moment, sadly, or so she thought, and left the kitchen. Kara sank back into the hearth.

"Fordides", Kara said slowly, her eyes bright with tears fixed on the washerwoman's countenance, "Tell me everything. How did... How did this happen?"
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:09 PM   #744
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Saeryn and Wynflaed

“This will all pass over, Lady Saeryn,” Kara told her as Saeryn rose. Saeryn turned to look at her a moment. She smiled, a sad smile, and nodded. Yes, it would pass over, in time.

“Be ready to help Ӕðel, start some water boiling and do whatever you think will be necessary,” Saeryn instructed as she left the kitchen. She went out and through the corridor to the great hall. The place was empty, and silent. The noises from outside barely permeated the walls. She went towards the center of the hall, and then she paced slowly to and fro, her head bent, and her hands pressed together, her forefingers gently placed on her lips. She was only aware of Lady Wynflaed’s presence when she spoke.

“Lady Saeryn, tell me what has happened.”

Saeryn straightened herself and lowered her hands. “I will tell you as much as I know,” she said, coming forward to meeting Wynflaed. “And this I have only heard from Kara, and some from the other women. Erbrand, the tanner, fought with one of the men-at-arms that came with your husband. It was,” she searched her memory for the name that Frodides had given her. “It was Scyrr.” She paused, and Wynflaed waited. “I believe that Erbrand thought he had killed him, because he’s left. I met him just as he was leaving and he bid me farewell. But Scyrr is not dead, and I cannot think that Erbrand meant to kill him. But, never mind that now, that is not all I saw. Lithor left as well. I saw him riding out of the courtyard with Erbrand, and I did not call out to him, but I do not think he is coming back.

“Lady Wynflaed, my question to you is whether or not I should tell lord Athanar that I saw Lithor leaving with Erbrand? And will it do any good for Erbrand if I were to speak on his behalf to Athanar? I understand that you and your husband and everyone who came with you must think that he was a vicious murderer to do such a thing as he has done, but it is not so. I am afraid for him. . .for what will happen to him if he is brought back. I also fear that his actions will reflect on the rest of us.”
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:00 PM   #745
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Lilige nodded as Lady Wynflaed left. She headed back to the kitchen. She knew that the trouble was outside, but she didn't know where outside, or what the trouble was, or what needed to be done...so she decided to focus on her Lady's first instruction, find out what happened. She found her way back to the kitchen rather easier than her way out. She hoped this was a good sign that she was learning her way around, rather than just dumb luck.

Nudging open the door, she saw that Lady Saeryn had gone to meet Lady Wynflaed, but that the other two women were still there. She'd arrived just in time to hear one of the women ask the other what had happened. She closed the door behind her, just loud enough to let them know she was here, but not loud enough to interrupt, hopefully. Lilige didn't want to be accused of eavesdropping, but she didn't want to be rude, either. She quietly sat down, just far enough away not to make the other women feel awkward, hopefully, and smiled tentatively at the other two. "I'd like to know what's going on, too," she said. "I admit to quite a lot of confusion."
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:25 PM   #746
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"I believe so, my lord. Lithor was not at the training exercises, my lord. Was he detained by you after the trial? If not, I do not know what that might mean."

Lord Athanar turned his gaze towards Thornden.

"Have you any idea where Lithor would be, Thornden?"
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:29 PM   #747
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Ha. The irony of the situation did not escape Thornden’s attention. His plan of loyalty, formed not ten seconds ago, of saying nothing seemed about to be completely destroyed. Thornden met Athanar’s eyes, and for a split second considered what he should say. He would stick strictly with the truth, and perhaps he wouldn’t be caught, playing this delicate game of straddling the fence.

“I do not know where he is, my lord,” he said. “But I, too, noted that he was not at the drill, and that thought had come back to me in the stables, after your lordship had called us.” He glanced towards Coenred as he said this, hoping it would satisfy the captain’s suspicion about what he had said earlier. How clumsy of him to have allowed his thoughts slip so obviously five minutes ago.

There. It was said. His decision was solidified in words. Did it make him a traitor? He thought not. He hoped not. He knew he was playing dangerously close to the fire, and as much as he wished the best for Lithor and Erbrand, he did not really relish the thought of being burned himself. If anything was going to hurt him, it was going to be those words he had just spoken.
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:02 PM   #748
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Wynflaed listened to all that Saeryn had to say. Scyrr, she thought. Yes, Saeryn had remembered the name correctly, and from what she recalled her husband saying, he was a good man. Not dead, though, and hopefully not dying. "Do you know if the healer has been fetched?" she said. "We should probably send someone to look, just in case."

She thought over the rest of Saeryn's words. "And yes," she said, "you should tell Lord Athanar of Lithor's departure, for if you do not, I will tell him myself, and then things may not go so well for you. My husband is a stern man, but he is just. Any testimony you have regarding Erbrand will be taken into account, for we know little of his history."

She tried to think of what the commotion outdoors would look like, and evaluated whether her presence would do more good or harm.

"I am going outside, to see if there is aught I can do." Then she paused. Saeryn was still the Lady of the Hall in the eyes of these people, and the needs of peace exceeded the need of authority at this point. "Will you accompany me? I doubt Lord Athanar will be able to hear your testimony at this point, but perhaps your presence would be of benefit."

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Old 05-17-2010, 02:38 PM   #749
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It was nightfall.

The eerie starlight poured in from the bedside window and illuminated the chamber. Scyrr sat up, the blanket slipping down to his waist and revealing a bloodied and badly bruised torso. His hand strayed toward his plastered and bandaged throat, gingerly feeling out the wound. Hot and wet. He had not realized that he had bled so profusely. He faintly remembered the arrival of the healer and the emergency treatment but not of being moved inside; he must have been out cold from the loss of blood. Common sense dictated that he lay still and let his wounds be further ministered. However, the staunching of wounds takes composure and patience on the part of the injured, neither of which he possessed in abundance.

Scyrr reached for the herb tea at his bedside, apparently placed there for his consumption: a mixture of golden seal, bistort, and plantain. Emergency anti-hemorrhagic remedy for heavy internal bleeding, he recalled. He remembered its acidic taste all too well. Internal bleeding, too? He really was in a mess, wasn’t he.

He then tentatively swung a foot off the bed, and instantly doubled up from the pain. He gritted his teeth and tried again. Better. The pain wore his patience ragged and thin, but he had to find out what happened in his absence. He ransacked the bedside drawers and came up with an earth-colored woolen pullover, deerskin breeches, and a pair of boots two sizes too big for him. He couldn’t find his uniform, but these would do for now. He was finishing up tying the bootlaces when the healer walked in. She started, as if surprised, and admonished him on getting up before he was properly healed. Not that he listened to her. He wouldn’t trust his life with a Scarburg healer if he could help it; who was to say they wouldn’t have left him there to bleed to death if Lord Athenar wasn’t there to help him?
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:13 PM   #750
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“I do not know where he is, my lord,” Thornden said. “But I, too, noted that he was not at the drill, and that thought had come back to me in the stables, after your lordship had called us.”

Lord Athanar raised his eyebrow and looked at young master Thornden in deep thought for a moment. Thornden was quite clear of why it was he was being looked at in that way. Finally lord Athanar turned to Coenred. "Organise the search-parties Coen."

Suddenly he turned back to Thornden and continued, "Thornden, assign a few men to search for the marches together with Coen's men... then take a few men you trust and go where you think the two could be found."

There was a silence as the two men looked at each other; Athanar trying to see whether Thornden would blink - and Thornden trying not to.

Finally lord Athanar ended the gaze with a neutral smile. "Go. Both of you, go now!"

The two left. As lord Athanar turned to follow them leaving he saw Wynflaed and Saeryn coming out from the Mead Hall. He glanced himself quickly only to notice he was stained by dirt all over. He sighed and walked towards the ladies. But walking towards them he realised they both looked somehow more cognizant they should be. It was something in the way they looked at him approaching. They were clearly not wondering why he was so dirty but they seemed more holding back and thinking about something - quickly glancing at each other every now and then.

So am I the only one in here who doesn't know what this all is about? Lord Athanar shook his head and smiled, feeling the irony of it and getting actually amused by it while he came closer to the ladies.

"Excuse me my outfit. What can I do to you my ladies?"
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:22 AM   #751
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Thornden and Hilderinc

Athanar dismissed them, and Thornden and Coenred immediately turned and headed back towards the stables to get their search parties together.

"Gather the men, Thornden, we will speak to them and separate into parties once we are all assembled."

"Aye, sir," Thornden responded. He approached Hilderinc and Áforglaed who stood nearby apparently waiting for orders. "We're going to send out search parties, we are to assemble at the stables and prepare to move out as quickly as possible," he said.

Hilderinc nodded. "Yes, sir."

It was the first time he was actually under direct orders from Thornden in a more important matter, so he did not know how much he was expected to talk or if he should just listen, but Hilderinc was not used to entirely push away his thoughts if they troubled him. Áforglaed's words about possible threat from the local lords took some root in his mind after all, and it was always important to know what they were standing against before starting to prepare for the action. He also preferred to ask the question himself than to let obviously agitated Áforglaed to start spilling his thoughts in front of the new commander. "Has there been an attack, sir?" he added.

Thornden paused briefly. "No. The man who attacked Scyrr there," he pointed, "has escaped and lord Athanar wants him brought back. The captain will give whatever further details are necessary when everyone is gathered."

Hilderinc nodded. Áforglaed cast a worried look at Scyrr's figure.

"Is Scyrr okay? Could I-" he straightened himself and apparently forced himself to acknowledge the fact that he was talking to his new commander; in Hilderinc's opinion, he seemed to be able to control himself quite well.

"Scyrr is my friend. Could I just take a look at him, sir? I would like to be sure he is all right... only a moment, I will be at the stables immediately, sir," Áforglaed said.

Thornden nodded distractedly, he had too much on his mind to argue or say no for no apparent reason. Áforglaed rushed away towards the lying body. Hilderinc turned to walk towards the stables.

"I believe most of the men will be around there still, sir," he said to Thornden. "We should be able to ride out soon. We should be able to find the culprit fast, unless -"

He suddenly recalled a man he had briefly spotted riding away during the training. Thornden seemed to acknowledge that they could continue speaking together. It had now occured to Hilderinc that it was likely some soldier informing Thornden about the event, or perhaps riding out on his order. That would mean, however, that there had passed already some time since the crime happened.

"Unless," he continued, "sir, is it so that the man you sent away during the training was a scout sent to look for the culprit already? In that case, the culprit has a bit of a time advantage, if he wasn't caught already by that soldier."

Thornden was about to say, "I sent no one out," when he bit down on his tongue as it nearly delivered those very words. He looked sharply, sidelong at Hilderinc, and his expression was sour. Confound you for your stupid pretense back there. You idiotic fool. Of course someone saw you, and of course he'll say something. Many other explenatives came to mind, directed both towards himself and towards Hilderinc, but now his thoughts were racing to think of something to say.

"I was not the one who sent that man out. Scyrr was attacked after we had all left for the drills. It is possible that he was sent out by someone here to follow Erbrand," he conceded.

The mentioning of the culprit's name made Hilderinc forget all other questions for that moment.

"So it was Erbrand?" he said aloud, surprised at first. But once he started to think about it, the surprise easily faded away. Erbrand was, after all, the one from whom he would have expected something like that. This had completed Hilderinc's picture of Erbrand: a hot-headed brawler seeking out fights wherever he could. Sad, in a way, he thought. But obviously Erbrand is a two-faced man, dangerous, possibly using all the energy which he cannot let off during his playing and at work only for fighting. He was the one who attacked Áforglaed yesterday, and now Scyrr... Considering this, Áforglaed was quite lucky. It easily could have been him lying on the ground in a very bad state.

Hilderinc remembered his meeting with Erbrand in the morning. It seemed to him back then that Erbrand was trying to test Hilderinc's strength or recruit him into his gang. Perhaps he was disappointed with the result and went to let off his frustration by attacking the nearest victim? Hilderinc had met more fighters who were like that...

"He seemed to me like the local troublemaker," he finished his sentence. "I assume you used to have tough times with him as well."

Thornden clenched his jaw. At a normal time he would answer cooly, and correct Hilderinc and his flawed thinking mildly, but right now there were more pressing thoughts on his mind than being polite.

"We didn't have any local troublemakers here at Scarburg," he said. "Lord Eodwine saw to that. Erbrand was quick to defend his honor, and the honor of those he loved, and he is hot tempered, but he is not a troublemaker. It's as well to get that clear in your mind before we search for him, so that you and your men don't loose your heads if you find him, and treat him as though he were some witless brawler." His voice brooked no argument, it was tight with impatience and, if Hilderinc had known it, fear.

They entered the stables as he spoke, and there were many men there waiting, some with their horses still in the aisles, others waiting outside the stalls.
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Old 06-13-2010, 08:38 PM   #752
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“All the soldiers are to gather in the stables. Don’t unsaddle your horses, we’re going back out.” The word spread among the soldiers as they worked both within the stables and without. Quin looked up as his hands paused while losing the girth of his horse’s saddle. The passing message bearer placed his hand on Quin’s horse’s powerful haunch. “Better tighten up again, lad, we’re needed.”

The man went on and Quin turned again to prepare his horse for riding. The question of what they were going out again for briefly passed through his mind before it was gone and he was only paying attention to getting ready to take his orders. He left his horse and followed the others to the stables to hear what they were to do.

As all the soldiers and men-at-arms drew near, Thornden cast his eyes quickly over them. He roughly counted their number, verified that most, if not all, were present, and then turned to Coenred to tell them all what was going on.

--

Saeryn

Saeryn agreed to go out with lady Wynflaed. As they drew near, she saw lord Athanar dismiss Thornden and Coenred. The two men walked swiftly towards the stables. Something about Thornden’s expression caught Saeryn’s attention, even from the distance that separated them. The tight rigidness about his eyes and mouth worried her. He seemed harder, with a sterner command over himself than the trouble with Erbrand or his disappearance called for. Something troubled him greatly.

She barely had time to determine these things before they were drawing close to Athanar and he came to meet them. She looked at him, and then glanced quickly at Wynflaed, hoping to catch some indication of what she gathered of Athanar’s mood. To Saeryn, he seemed tense and angry, but that was not surprising. But then a swift curve of his mouth into a wry smile made her think perhaps he was a bit irritated, too.

“Excuse me my outfit. What can I do for you, my ladies?” he asked.

Saeryn stopped half a step behind Wynflaed, and then folded her hands before herself and waited until her time to speak.
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Old 07-19-2010, 01:59 PM   #753
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Coen returned to the stableyard where the men were still waiting, surely wondering what orders could await them, and what might have broken the peace so in this young hall in this fledgling emnet, but quiet and orderly, waiting for a command without gossip or questioning. At least not more than a few words under than breaths. Some might have been as apparently surprised and concerned as Thornden was about the tanner being a fugitive, and the others were perhaps grimly setting their minds for a rocky new start in these lands.

"There will be one party on foot lead by Captain Thornden to search and maintain security around the hall." He picked out several men to stay with this party from those he knew well, including Hilderinc. "Two small parties into the marshes; we need men who know the land well to lead these," he said, asking for volunteers or looking to Thornden to point them out. He then pointed out the rest of the men for each of these parties, including at least one of 'his' men.

Once they were chosen, he continued. "The final party will ride with me to the south; we will cover as much distance as we can to be back by nightfall." He chose his men for this, including a couple of local men who would be helpful for knowing the terrain and the local inhabitants. "Those remaining," he began again, which were very few, "you will stable the remaining horses and secure the barracks." They would have some help from the stablehands, but Coen was not one to leave all the work in the hands of the servants.

The men hurried to report to the leaders of their respective parties, Coen leading his horse from the stable and out to the edge of the yard where the other riders gathered. He gave Thornden a look before mounting up that told him that he would not lay aside his distrust for the man until he learned the truth or Erbrand and Lithor were found and Thornden proved himself a just man by not defending them if there was no defense to be made.

"The soldier Lithor," he began, calling out to the assembled parties again; the word 'soldier' was flat on his lips, "is also at this time unaccounted for. There is no proof that he is in any way connected with the fugitive, but until he is accounted for, be aware that we may be dealing with two men. We are all to return by night fall."

Coen and the riders rode south, looking and asking for any sign of the fugitive Erbrand, though the Captain worked on the assumption that Lithor was with him, or had fled as well.

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Old 07-23-2010, 01:29 PM   #754
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Léof

Saddle this horse, stable that one. Bring one horse in. Let another out to graze. Léof wasn’t even totally sure how many horses were in residence at Scarburg at the moment, much less which horse belonged to which rider. Chaos, absolute chaos, that was all these new folk had brought with them. People seemed to be in and out of the stable at all hours of the day or night and he didn’t know who half of them were or if they had any legitimate business in the stable.

Honestly, it was an accident waiting to happen. Already things were getting misplaced, and that was only a step away from lost or stolen. As glad as he was that several of the newcomers were brushing down their own mounts, they didn’t always put things back in the proper places.

And it didn’t help that most of them seemed to regard him as having very little real authority. He’d heard the term “stableboy” tossed around more than once, and it was starting to grate. He had always been slender, it was true, and the scruff on his chin resembled a beard in the same way a Hobbit’s pony resembled one of the Mearas, but he had put on a couple of inches in height during the last couple months (finally – it had only taken nearly seventeen years). That ought to count for something, right?

But such was his lot. Too old (and with too many responsibilities) to run around with Javan and the younger boys, but too young for real camaraderie with the men of the hall. He’d been hopeful to see that the younger of the new lord’s sons seemed about his age, though his hope had been somewhat dampened since their arrival, in large part because of Lithor’s trial earlier that morning. Both brothers had seemed to him then like troublemakers, at least to some degree. Maybe they just weren’t sure how to fit in here yet. It might yet be worth some sort of friendly overture to Wilheard; first impressions were not always correct.

But now there was some fuss going on in the stableyard; the soldiers were all gathering. They’d been putting their horses away, and now they were going back out? He rushed out in time to hear the captain of the men-at-arms dispensing instructions for search parties. They were after… Lithor? Had there really been some credence to the trial against him this morning? And some fugitive whose name Léof had not heard. He thought a moment. Lithor had been through the stables with Erbrand earlier, he thought, though he had paid little mind. He’d been more focused on getting the stable in some semblance of order before all the soldiers brought their horses back from drills. What in Middle-earth was going on? Chaos, just like he’d said.

He spotted Thornden only a couple of feet away heading somewhere, but Léof caught his attention: “Thornden! What’s going on here?”
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:40 PM   #755
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For some reason, Thornden’s heart beat harder and harder as Coenred gave his commands. He felt almost as though he were about to lose command of himself, about to panic, or to run himself. He stood by, however, his mouth shut, his eyes fixed on the captain, appearing on the outside as calm as anyone would expect him to feel on the inside. Finally, the orders were given and the soldiers began to split up. He had his men and they started to move out to search the premises.

As the other soldiers were mounting up to ride out, Thornden led his men across the courtyard. But as they were leaving the vicinity of the stable, Leof caught his eye.

“Thornden! What’s going on here?” he asked, walking towards him.

Thornden changed his direction to meet Leof. “You haven’t heard what has been going on?” he asked. Leof gave him an answer to the negative. Thornden ran his hand swiftly through his hair and glanced towards his men, waiting halfway across the courtyard. “Erbrand apparently lost his temper and just about killed one of Athanar’s men, Scyrr.” He nodded in the direction of the wagon wherein Scyrr lay, half dead. “And he ran for it. We’re searching for him. And Lithor.” He shrugged, and his eyes scanned the area in a swift circle. “He’s gone, too.”
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:32 PM   #756
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Wulfric

Commands were given, action was taken and here they were, him and Will, unnoticed again. Wulfric clenched his fists. A tiny voice in his head said that Lord Athanar just wasn't used to having to full-grown sons in his household, but Wulfric felt like exploding anyway. What were they for in this pitiful distant place if not for dangerous situations like this? Forgotten, they now stood next Scyrr while the healer was tending to his wounds and a suspiciously Dunlendingish-looking woman had appeared out of nowhere to assist her.

"By Oromë!" he swore. "Can't you get a sick man to a bed or do you have to tend him on the grass? Is this how professional folk we have here in Scarburg!"

He didn't care if the women replied or not. "Wilheard! Find anyone to help you and find a bier and take Scyrr in, wherever these women guide you!"

"I'm going," he announced, and strode away. Where, he didn't know yet, but at least he had managed to give out some orders and at least he didn't have to play nanny anymore.

~*~

Wilheard

"Sir, I know where the bier is and I can find it for you," the Dunlending woman said.
"Why then, fair lady, are you still standing there?" Wilheard asked. The woman apparently figured out it was better not to answer and turned to hurry away.
"Good dog," Wilheard muttered and rolled his eyes.

It had been like this for the past several weeks, ever since they returned from the barracks. Their father would do something stupid with would irk Wulfric and he'd give Will a stupid order with the authority of the elder son and march away to protest. Such a wonderful leader that man would make one day, Wilheard thought.

He started scanning the yard lazily for someone to carry the pier with him - or better, two men to carry it so that he could go riding. He really needed a break.

~*~

Modtryth

So there was a search for Erbrand and Lithor. Modtryth had never liked either of them too much - Lithor had downright annoyed her but she had thought Erbrand a good man because of Kara's feelings for him - but now she had a bad feeling. She felt for Kara even though Erbrand's deed was hard to understand, and she would have rather taken the boisterous and conceited greybeard back than all this mess. And the new Eorl and his family - well, to work under them was like working under any smaller or bigger lord in Rohan. The time of noble Eodwine was over, and it was time to go back to reality.

It wasn't difficult to find the pier, it was by far the biggest object in the corner where Aedhel kept her healer's equipment. Last time they had used it to take Lord Eodwine to the carriage to be taken away... but better not to think of that.

Modtryth took the pier and carried it out to the yard.

"Mum! What's happening?"
The kids were standing idly on the yard, following the unfolding events with enthusiasm.
"There has been a fight between two men. Now get out of the way but stay within sight of the house. The soldiers are in the woods." With that, she hurried away to where the wounded man was.

~*~

Cnebba

"Your mother isn't very informative, is she?" Javan asked darkly.
Cnebba glanced at Garmund. He didn't know what to say. Should he defend his mother or agree with the older boy?

"I like her," Leodern said.

Javan ignored the girl. Cnebba knew he was too old to play with babies like Leodern. "Why don't you go away?" he asked the girl. He half expected Garmund to become angry, but he sided with his best friend instead of his sister: "Yeah, go away and play with your dolls, we don't want you here."

Leodern gave the two boys a sulky face and ran to the kitchen where she was always welcome.

Cnebba shrugged. "I wish we could find out what's happening." Ghastly scenes of brutal murder were already going around in his small head and there was a glint in his dark eyes.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:32 AM   #757
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“He ran? But – oh.” Léof’s brow furrowed as he processed this information. He had not known either man particularly well, though he had liked them well enough. Nor had he forgotten Erbrand’s gift of a saddle to him earlier that summer. But this – this was very bad. And from what he had seen of this new lord, mercy would not be swift in coming to either man were they caught.

He lowered his voice slightly. “You will not likely find them on foot. They took their horses and left some time ago, though I was not paying them much attention then. I don’t want to keep you, but my guess would be that they have already cleared the nearby area and could be heading in any direction, so why only search to the south? Though I doubt they will be easy to catch. They left only lightly burdened.”
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:20 PM   #758
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Thornden did not tell Léof that he knew already the two fugitives had taken their horses. He passed over Léof’s statement as though it had not been said.

"We are searching not only to the south, but also up through the marshes, though lord Athanar things it unlikely they went that way. The parties going in there are to be small and will only go out after we have searched the immediate surroundings. It is Athanar's orders that we search here first, to make certain that everyone else is safe," he added, in a hurried way, hoping to banish from Léof’s mind the waste of time searching Scarburg really was.

"Do you want to go out with us?" he asked, on a sudden impulse.
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:44 PM   #759
Folwren
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Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The Children

“I wish we could find out what’s happening,” Cnebba said ruefully. Javan and Garmund followed his gaze into the courtyard. A sudden thought occurred to Javan.

“Your mum said the soldiers were in the woods - but look! They’re not, yet. They’re still getting ready. They won’t be out for a few more minutes. If we hurry, we can get to the top of the lane and hide before they come through, then we can see what is going on!”

The two boys looked at him doubtfully. He stared at them, changing his eyes from one to the other, before throwing up his hands and saying, “Well, it’s better than staying around here and rotting, isn’t it?”

Cnebba looked at Garmund, but Garmund suddenly agreed with Javan and wheeled about, heading off at a run. “Come on!” he shouted over his shoulder. “We won’t have much time!”

“But, boys!” Leodern called, straggling along behind. “But, Modtryth said to stay in sight of the house and - and - and you shouldn’t be doing this! You’ll get in trouble!”

“Shut up, ninny,” Javan threw over his shoulder, “and don’t give us away, whatever you do! Stay here, if you want to!”

Leodern slowed to a walk and watched as the boys disappeared around the corner of Harreld’s smithy. A sad, dejected frown etched itself into her face and then she dropped to the ground, herl legs folded tailor fashion, and her chin sank into her hands.

The boys ran on, unmindful of Leodern. They sped up the hill towards the main road and then darted off into the woods on the left of the road. Behind them, they could hear the stamp of horses and the jingle of the bits and harnesses. Then a shout was given and trotting hooves came up the path.

“Quick!” Javan gasped. A strange sort of fear wrapped about his chest, as though he were being the one hunted. Something told him they must not be seen. “Up into the tree, just as quick as you can!”
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:09 AM   #760
Firefoot
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Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
Had Thornden listened to anything he had just said? It did not seem to Léof that he had. Well, perhaps these concerns had already been thought of, and Athanor thought it more important to secure the area than to actually find the fugitives? Truth to tell, he still had a hard time thinking of either Erbrand or Lithor as particularly dangerous, but that was not for him to decide.

Then Thornden asked, “Do you want to go out with us?”

That was unexpected, and Léof had no idea what use he might be on such a venture, but it suddenly seemed very attractive to get out of the stables for a while – even if it was just on a fool’s errand to the marshes. “Actually, yes, I would,” he said. “What would you have me do?”
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