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Old 06-27-2003, 02:00 PM   #41
Amanaduial the archer
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To go just after Aylwen's post before last

Tar grinned at Aylwen as she reached up to ruffle his already messy hair, then returned, with an exaggerated sigh, to sweeping the floor, as Aylwen left. But not before he saw her eyes sweep concernedly across his thin body.

Tar knew he must look a state- the clothes he wore at the moment had been, shall we say, 'liberated' from its previous owner yesterday. Aylwen would have a fit if she knew that, but he had been terrified of turning up in the more than a little ragged, worn clothing he had been wearing until then. He cared for her, couldn't pretend that he didn't, but she had such class- he would hate for her to turn her nose up at him. A ridiculous thought really, kind, down to earth Aylwen Dreamsong turning her nose up at Tar, but then, he thought bitterly, it wouldn't be the first time in the past year that one who had proffessed to be his friend had turned their back on him. Looking after Aylwen, his brown eyes soulful and deep, he hoped more than anything that she wouldn't find out why he was like this.
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Old 06-27-2003, 03:48 PM   #42
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Sting

Five minutes walk from the entrance of the White Horse a hammer rang down in a slow rhythm upon the curved blade glowing in malleable orange-red atop the well-worn anvil. 'Twas no spear-tip or sword of war from tales of battle glory, just the head of a simple farm axe. That did not stop the meaty hand that gripped the hammer from ringing it just as soundly upon the shapen metal, nor did it lessen the joy that the man at the other end of that massive arm took in his labors.

Laevin the blacksmith took pride not in making things of great craft and beauty, but in making quality items useful to the everyday people of Rohan. Things like plowshares, pruning hooks, and yes, axes. His smithing skill was not quite as high as that of the dwarves with whom the people sometimes traded, but then neither were his prices. While there were Riders of the Mark in this town, there was not too much demand for armor and swords (though he could fashion them with some skill). He was by no means a rich man, but he was good at what he did, and he enjoyed what he did, and he was well-liked in the community. Life was good.

He thrust the axe-head back into the center of the fire with his long black tongs and stepped back to wipe the grimy sweat from his face with his equally grimy kerchief. The light of the setting sun was beginning to peek in under the roof, glistening in reflection upon the wet-leather apron he wore to keep stray sparks from igniting his clothes. Shading his eyes, Laevin began to think about shutting down the shop for the day. Bethberry over at the White Horse Inn had seen him the day before about some new ironwork for the kitchen, and had invited him to a party this evening, and he would not want to be late. He turned again and strode purposefully to the furnace. Switching to a smaller hammer he pounded out the axe's finer edge, allowing the furnace fire to die away with the glow in the axe head. Dipping the axe head in a bucket of water with a steaming hiss, he decided he'd just have time to clean himself up a bit. He headed for the dwelling-half of his small house.

Half an hour, several buckets of cold well-water, a bit of soap, and a change of clothes later, the powerfully-built smith stepped out of his front door a changed man. He was dressed in what he called his "relaxin'" clothes, freshly washed so as not to have the smoke and sweat smell ever-present in his house -- to Laevin it was a comforting smell, but it didn't seem to affect others quite the same way. The sun was near to setting, but he could have found his way to and from the White Horse in the blind dark. He had enjoyed many a night there with a mug of ale and a roomful of friends, and it was his favorite way of ending a day, when he had time. And with the proceeds of a recent sale jingling in his pocket, it was all the better.

He was a bit early when he arrived, but the doorway was blocked by a ragged traveller, probably a beggar, who regarded the sign and the door at length. Realizing what was going thru the man's mind, Laevin walked up and clapped the man on the back. "Welcome, friend!" he said in a booming baritone, Don't be shy, come on in! Your dinner tonight is on me!" The man looked up into Laevin's face with a haggard grin of thanks. Laevin opened the door, put an arm around the man's shoulder and practically dragged the traveller in with him.

"Bethberry! So good to see you!" he shouted across the room at the innkeeper who was obviously busy putting the finishing touches on party preparations. She waved a cheery hello to the newcomers as she approached, setting down her work. Her face fell just a bit at the sight of the worn traveller, but her smile never faltered. "My dear Bethberry," Laevin said, "this man will need food and lodging for tonight, I'll take care of the bill, there's a good girl." The mouths of both Bethberry and the traveller fell open in surprise and astonishment. He turned to the man and said, "join me here once you've had a chance to freshen up a bit." He then strode over to his favorite table, leaving a speechless pair in his wake.
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Old 06-27-2003, 07:41 PM   #43
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Bęthberry watched Leavin proceed cheerily to his favourite table and was again thankful that Edoras had such good-hearted citizens as he. Then she turned to the bedraggled traveller who seemed astonished by the act of kindness. There were too many such as he struggling throughout the land these days.

"Come, we've lots of room for travellers tonight. I'll get Delia to show you to your room and draw some hot water for you to freshen up. Mind you don't take too long, for if I miss my quess, Leavin will be seriously disappointed if he has to wait too long before he can share some tales and ale with you."

With exhaustion mixed with hesitation, the man nodded and followed Delia to his room.

The Innkeeper then popped into the kitchen, where Froma, his face flushed less by the heat of the ovens than by his favoured ale, was doing his best to run his staff ragged. She winked at Iswyn.

"Froma, I think the children will be deserving of a treat today. Could you see they get some strawberries and cream?"

"And am I now the nursery help?" the bluff fellow retorted, rubbing his floured hands in his great apron before taking another gulp of his tankard.

"Well now, if you drown your culinary talents in too much ale you might be wanting another occupation."

"Be off with ye and out of my kitchen before you say another miserable word about my food. I'll have none descrying my cooking here, not even you, Innkeeper."

A grin spread across his face as he said this, a grin matched by one on Bęthberry's face as well. With a nod, she withdrew, almost running into Mia whose arms were laden with dirty plates and glasses and who called for four more servings of beef and pies.

[ June 29, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 06-27-2003, 09:24 PM   #44
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Shield

Lachlan stretched back in a large chair nursing a mug of ale, and watching the little ankle-biters swarm around the room. It had been a surprisingly tough time keeping them all under guard that afternoon, but not a completely unenjoyable task.

The Inn now smelt of good food and drink, and the music from Lady Aylwen's pipes weaved around through the ears of all, bringing quite a merry mood. But Lachlan was content to sit and watch, knowing his reputation for being a trouble-maker at these sort of occasions was well known. But he was determined to enjoy his evening off from the cellars, and proceeded to empty his mug with great satisfaction, still tapping his feet to the music...
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Old 06-27-2003, 09:51 PM   #45
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Frodides stood up and clapped her hands loudly, bringing the room's attention to herself. Putting on hand behind her back, she made a gesture to the children with it. They understood the signal and stood up, some of them grabbing at their baker hats to ensure they wouldn't fall off. "The children's choir would now like to sing a little song for you," said Frodides. "They tell me it is a song of the Hobbits, of whom they hear tell of in tales. I don't know if this is true or not, but no doubt you will enjoy the song immensely."

Frodides stepped back and leaned over to Aylwen, whispering something in her ear. The latter nodded and moved to stand next to the children, striking up a merry tune. The children stood there awkwardly for a moment, and then they began to sing. Softly at first, but slowly their voices grew louder as they grew accustomed to the idea of singing in front of a crowd of people. Mćrcwen, being the lass she was, found no difficultly in singing loudly and sweetly.

I'll tell my ma when I go home
The boys won't leave the girls alone
They pulled my hair, they stole my comb
But that's all right till I go home.
She is handsome, she is pretty
She is the bell of Bywater city
She is counting one, two, three
Please won't you tell me who is she.


All the children save one closed their mouths and turned their eyes to Fianna, who now had her grand moment in singing a solo part. Taking a deep breath, she began to sing clearly:

Halfast Proudfoot says he loves her
All the boys are fighting for her
They knock at the door and they ring at the bell
Sayin' "Oh my true love, are you well?"
Out she comes as white as snow
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
Old LothoHeadstrong says she'll die
If she doesn't get the fellow with the roving eye.


The group of children together sang the chorus together, and then Mćrcwen struck out alone, singing without the slightest hint of shyness. Frodides smiled proudly as she listened to her daughter's voice.

Let the wind and rain and the hail blow high
And the snow come tumblin' from the sky
She's as nice as apple pie
She'll get her own lad by and by.
When she gets a lad of her own
She won't tell her ma when she goes home
Let them all come as they will
For it's Halfast Proudfoot she loves still.


And then, once again, the children sang the choir together, and all of them, inspired after listening to Fianna and Mćrcwen solos, sang louder and clearer than the other times.

I'll tell my ma when I go home
The boys won't leave the girls alone
They pulled my hair, they stole my comb
But that's all right till I go home.
She is handsome, she is pretty
She is the bell of Bywater city
She is counting one, two, three
Please won't you tell me who is she.


She is handsome, she is pretty
She is the bell of Bywater city
She is counting one, two, three
Please won't you tell me who is she.


Please won't you tell me who is she.

The children finished and stepped back into their chairs with little bows, smiling proudly at the loud applause that echoed across the room. Mia and Frodides went forward to sisters and daughter, giving them words of praise. Mia took Fianna's hands in hers and whispered softly, "Now, Fianna, what song would you like to sing alone with Mćrcwen? Whatever you choose, you two will sing."

[ June 29, 2003: Message edited by: Nurumaiel ]
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Old 06-27-2003, 11:33 PM   #46
Garen LiLorian
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Sting

Corrin paused with his hand on the door as the high, clear sound of children's voices rung out into the night. His face fell into a smile, an expression that fitted the little man. He waited for the song to come to an end before opening the door, then, most uncharacteristally, slid quietly to the nearest available chair, applauding the youngsters, all of whom seemed pleased and flustered at so much attention. As the applause died down, two of the little ones stood forward again, faces in the too-serious expression of the very young. Corrin leaned back. It was good to be back. He could tell he was going to enjoy this.
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Old 06-28-2003, 02:32 AM   #47
Sophia the Thunder Mistress
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Iswyn grinned from where she sat at a small table in the inn's Great Hall, her feet were tired and her face was smudged with garden dirt, but her eyes were riveted on a nearly empty pan on the table in front of her. Hissing and blowing on it, the girl picked the last scraps of the baked apple and barley out of the pan, eating them with her fingers. Iswyn had snatched the nearly empty pan from the kitchen after Froma had finished transferring the larger part of the dessert to an elaborate serving bowl.

Another girl about her age scurried past intent on something, and Iswyn's eyes follwed her with interest. When she passed again, Iswyn called to her. "Hey," Iswyn waved a hand in the air, geturing toward the seat beside her. The girl slid into the seat Iswyn had indicated, and Iswyn cheerfully pushed the pan of crumbs toward her, chattering all along. "I'm Iswyn, I work here, with Froma in the kitchen. Mostly I do dishes and clean and such, but sometimes I do the garden with Miz Bethberry... what's your name?"

The other girl spoke from around a mouthful of apple. "Delia, I just came to work here." Iswyn grinned, the news could not be more delightful. Scooping another bit of apples into her mouth she pushed her sleeves back up above her elbows and stood up.

"Gorgo sheckif Roma," she swallowed hard. "Gotta go check if Froma needs me to do anything." Leaving the slightly wide-eyed girl behind her, Iswyn scampered back to the kitchen, delighted to find the party in full swing.
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Old 06-28-2003, 06:21 AM   #48
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Sting

Talan stood in a corner of the great hall. He was needed at the time, and the friendly assistent innkeeper had suggested he joined the feast in the Great Hall. Talan had done so, but not because he wanted to. The Hall was filled with people, well-dressed and perfumed ladies, men in fancy clothes. He could hear their conversation, up-styled words and issues that he had never heard about. His childhood had taught him to hide from those with money and nobility, and yet here they were, gathered to have a good time.

He went back into the kitchen, and sat in a chair. All around there was food, and all kinds of it; Pies, cookies, fruits, different kinds of meat and lots of ale and wine. The cook, Froma, dismissed that lass he had helped with the flowers. He looked at her until she turned her head, and he quickly turned his head down, embarassed at being caught in staring. She came and sat next to him, but did not speak.

"You're not much for parties either?", he asked after some silence. Delia did not answer, she merely nodded.
"Nor me. I am most comfortable here, and not with all those people. I keep wondering what they think when they look at me." He did not know what else to say; he had never been a man of many words, and now, more than usual, did he notice his lack of eloquency.

[ July 01, 2003: Message edited by: Daniel Telcontar ]
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Old 06-28-2003, 07:29 AM   #49
Estelyn Telcontar
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When she heard the knock on the door, Annawyn reached up to pat her hair, reassuring herself that all was in place. She smoothed the skirt of her dark blue dress, having taken off her working pinafore. On an impulse, she snatched a colourfully embroidered shawl on her way out. That should give a festive note to my attire, she thought, then opened the door to join the waiting girls.

She smiled to see not only Mellaith and Ravenna, but several of the older apprentices and seamstresses as well. The young women had their disagreements and rivalries at times, but for those who lived in her house, the others were like a family. They are my only family as well, she mused as they walked to the White Horse Inn. She accompanied them to keep a watchful, protective eye on them, but she looked forward to enjoying the evening herself too.

Music wafted toward them as they entered the Inn; the girls scattered to greet acquaintances and to admire the decoration. Annawyn waved across the room at Aylwen, who was busy supervising the musicians and welcoming guests. She could not see Bęthberry at first glance; she was most likely busy somewhere and sure to show up in a rush of activity soon.

Annawyn stopped to exchange a few words with Laevin, the blacksmith. They stopped talking to listen to the children sing and applauded enthusiastically when they were finished. Then the seamstress continued to walk around the room leisurely, pausing to chat with friends and introducing herself to some of the many newcomers.
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Old 06-28-2003, 08:55 AM   #50
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Sting

"I'm a glass maker, but not a window-washer," Barthaew mumbled, pressing harder on the pane inches from him. He was knelt on the wide sill, high up on the wall of his mother's house. He knew he shouldn't have told her he'd come help her clean her house today.

Surely, it was the right thing to do. But still, from this very (smudged) window, he could see the party unfolding. He wanted to go! But he couldn't leave his mother now, he knew. Stealing a furtive glance down at the old woman, who was picking dust out of the folds of her old comforter, he deposited a bit of spit into the rag in his hand, rubbing at the glass again with it. She didn't like it when he did that, but now, the rag was actually making progress, or so it seemed.

At long last, Barthaew got down from the sill, depositing the filthy rag into his pocket.

"I'm finished," he said quietly. "What else would you like me to do?"

His mother looked up at him with eyes narrowed with age. Her face broke into a smile.

"I'd like you to be happy, my son," she said. "Such a fair face as that hidden under a grimace, it's no wonder you aren't married yet. Go on, go to the Inn. I know that's where you want to be."

Barthaew's jaw dropped.

"But--but--," he sputtered.

"Go on, you're finished," his mother continued. "And don't think that I do not appreciate what you do for me."

****************************

Barthaew was in such a hurry, he almost forgot the bag of mugs he'd made on his wheel yesterday, and promised to bring to the Innkeeper. Even if they couldn't be used now, he might as well take them.

He stepped into the hall and froze in the doorway. There were many people here. He could hear singing and laughter...and he was suddenly very grateful to his mother.

[ June 28, 2003: Message edited by: The Ruling Ring ]
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Old 06-28-2003, 07:00 PM   #51
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Sting

Child stood in his lodgings at the Inn, staring out the second floor window at the commonplace scenes of the marketplace and roadway that were spread out before him on the steet. Immediately below his window were all manner of folk hustling about on business. Peddlers, workmen, young appentices, and artisans, the whole variety of those who labor, streamed by in an unending parade. They were mostly hurrying to get home at the end of a long, tiring workday; a few had turned off towards the White Horse, intending to join the party there.

From the common room on the first floor, the smells and sounds of the celebration wafted up the stairwell. Child shook his head. He should definitely go downstairs to join the others. Bethberry had been gracious enough to put on this celebration to welcome him home to Rohan and to honor his new duties at the Inn. He hadn't been sure whether or not he should agree to coming here, but she had assured him they could take things a day at a time and see if the situation worked out for both of them. Bethberry had been so gentle and gracious that Child could not imagine saying no to her and bringing a frown to that kindly face.

But now he had received a letter from his brother, a letter that welcomed him back to Rohan and inquired how soon he would be able to ride out to their home, a wide expanse of grassland and manor house set far outside the city. For the tenth time he glanced down and reread the ending of the message:

Father wishes to meet with you and make amends for any misunderstandings that have occurred in the past. He has spoken with the steward in Theoden's court, and they have need of a Bard with your qualifications and talents. You would have a comfortable position in a setting that accords with our family's station in life. Father believes that you've always had a head for matters of statecraft and that, with your skills and the connections you have as a member of our family, you could easily rise to become one of the counselors in the King's court.

Think well on it before you answer. This would surely be a better situation than your present one at the White Horse, and something that father could understand and respect.

Your brother,

Baldor


Child sighed and set the letter down. This was not something he could decide in the space of a few minutes. It would take more reflection than that. Indeed, his answer to this missive could well determine what direction he would be heading for the rest of his life, and what his relations with his father and brothers would be. Best wait a few days before he responded to see how things developed at the Inn and to make sure that he chose his pathway with care.

He slipped on his clean breeches and embroidered doublet, slung the harp over his shoulder, walking down the hallway, descending the stairs, and stepping inside the common room to join the celebation.

[ June 28, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 06-29-2003, 05:09 PM   #52
Lyra Greenleaf
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Silmaril

Theora walked slowly through Edoras. It was a lovely sunny day and she rarely went into town. Just looking around at all the people instead of endless miles of grass and hundreds of horses, made today seem special. It felt like a holiday. She slipped into daydreams. A tall young man with light brown hair winked at her and she blushed. Two little girls ran out of a side alley and chased each other around Theora's legs. A man on a horse had to pull sharply on the reins as she walked dreamily down the road. It was almost a shock when she finally came to the place she had been looking for.

"The White Horse Inn" she murmured to herself under her breath. Mama had said it was a reputable place, very suitable for a young girl to get her first job. Mama had said that Theora had to do well. Mama had said that she was bot to go off into her dreams and break all the inn's crockery. Mama had said that she wanted Theora to find a husband. Theora sighed suddenly, the brightness gone from the day. With so much to do it no longer seemed like a holiday.

She stood for a while gazing solemnly at the creaking sign above the inn door. It seemed final, somehow, going in through the door. It seemed like beginning a new life and she wasn't sure if she was ready. Automatically Theora flicked her long blonde plait behind her back from where it had been hanging over her shoulder. There was no other choice than to go in, really, and hope that the people were nice.

Pushing the door open, noise hit her like a gust of air. There were many people inside the inn, more than she had expected. Nervously she approached a friendly looking woman.
"Ex-" she whispered, then cleared her throat. What could they do but refuse? And then I could go home and Mama couldn't do anything she thought, and the idea made her bold.
"Excuse me" she began again. "Can you tell me who I should ask about working here? I don't mind whether it's in the kitchens or the common room or helping with the bedrooms or even with the animals, I grew up on a farm you see, or I'm good at helping with children or I can sew or anything else..." she trailed off breathlessly and looked hopefully at the woman.
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Old 06-30-2003, 12:20 PM   #53
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Delia wiped her hands off on a dishrag, then turned to Talan. She nodded as he finished talking. "I like people, but I like them one at a time," she laughed. She hopped off to untie her apron and hung it up, then climbed onto the stool by him again. "Too many people at once make me nervous."

She fell silent, kicking her feet childishly. Maybe coming here was a bad idea. She really didn't like crowds. She looked around the room, feeling a little alone. Everyone else seemed happy and at home, but she felt uncomfortable and lost. Well, everyone but Talan.

She looked out of the corner of her eye at the man, who was letting her have her peace. She liked him, she realized. He reminded her of her elder brother, her only sibling, who was twelve years her senior, married with two children. He had always treated her like an adult, and not like one of his children. His wife was another story, but that was beside the point.

She turned to Talan suddenly. "What brings you to the Inn?" she asked.
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Old 06-30-2003, 12:51 PM   #54
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"I´ll have a large mead and a double rum!"

"Certainly, Sir."

"And can I visit the beautiful waitress for desert?"

"Certainly Sir. That is, if you wish to put up with this..." the young woman pulled out a shiny dagger, and turned around towards the kitchen, holding her shoulders high.

Fuming, Mia filled a glass of mead. Honesty, why did the misstress let scum like this into her well-respected place? Drunkerds and letches- Mia hated them, she despised them, but they also scared her. Scared her in a way she couldn´t quite explain. She grabbed the little dagger tight, knowing it was there when she needed it.

She grabbed the drinks, balanced them on a tablet and walked over two the table. Without a word, she put the beverages down, but she made sure he saw the dagger. He did, and Mia was sure he would be quiete for now.

"Have they been after you again?" Iswyn gave her sympathetic look, but smiled at the face Mia pulled.

"I manage. All for the good of the Inn, aye?"
Mia said, and she really meant it. All for the good of the White Horse.
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:07 PM   #55
Thenamir
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Laevin observed the interaction between Mia and her rude customer with a shake of his head. He had no "intentions" toward Mia himself, but he liked her (and almost everyone else at the White Horse) and disliked anyone trying to take advantage of mistress Bethberry's help. The White Horse was no ale-soaked tavern where lusty serving wenches toyed with the men and vice-versa. This was a respectable establishment, and he intended to make sure the newcomer knew it.

When the beefy-looking stranger glanced his way after receiving his rum, Laevin smiled at him and motioned for him to join Laevin at his table. Planting an elbow in the center of the table with a hand in the air arm-wrestling style, Laevin said, "You're a healthy-lookin' lad. Care to have a go?" The stranger looked smug, for he considered himself to be quite strong indeed and accepted the challenge by grasping Laevin's hand from across the table and waiting for the signal to start. Most of the crowd were watching the children on the stage, but a few regulars noticed the exchange and looked with interest toward the imminent contest. Not that the outcome was in doubt, but they knew what was likely to happen and anticipated only the aftermath.

Laevin counted slowly, "Three, two, one, GO!" With that, the man across the table strained with all his might to force Laevin's knuckles to the wood. He might as well have been pitted against an arm of solid and immovable granite. Laevin toyed with the man for a few seconds, even feigning a bit of lost ground before he put forth the full strength in his mighty arm, sending his opponent's hand crashing into the tabletop. The defeated man cried out and tried to wrench his bloodied knuckles away, but Laevin gripped the hand vise-like and mashed it into the tabletop even harder as he leaned into the man's face. In a low and steady voice, he looked the man in the eye and said, "This is not the place to be pawin' at the ladies, mister. I'll thank ye to leave your lecherous eyes at home and enjoy your meal in peace. And be sure ye leave Miss Mia a generous tip." The stranger nodded quick assent. With his free hand Laevin gave the stranger a light push, releasing his grip and tossing the man his napkin with which to bind his wound.

No sooner had the stranger resumed his seat than Mia returned with Laevin's beef and parsnips. She had not witnessed the exchange, but she did notice that the stranger was exceptionally kind to her for the rest of the evening...

[ June 30, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 06-30-2003, 04:01 PM   #56
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The contest had been noted by a man on the stairs. After Laevin had been kind enough to pay for a room and his board, he had no intention of snubbing the man. He had hurriedly bathed, scrubbing hard at the dirt and knots in his hair. When he emerged from his bath, he found that his tattered clothes had disappeared and had been replaced with a fresh shirt, breeches and a pair of worn shoes made of soft leather, all used but serviceable. A note lying on top of his new wardrobe read "Courtesy of Bęthberry."

An odd name, he had mused, but he was thankful nonetheless. To his surprise, the clothing fit him very well, as did the shoes. He glanced up at a mirror and examined his unkempt beard. With a nod to himself, he resolved to take full advantage of his good fortune. So when he appeared on the steps which descended to the common room, his face was freshly shaved, though nicked here and there by his knife.

He made his way to Laevin's table and stood waiting for the large man to notice him. Laevin looked up from his plate and said, "Yes?" The man smiled and sat across from the blacksmith. "Thank you for your generosity. It is not often that a ... wanderer such as I receives such a gift."

Laevin's eyes narrowed for a moment as he examined the blond man sitting across from him. Then he took note of the crippled arm and nodded. "You do clean up well," said Laevin. "What is your name?"

After a short pause, the man answered. "You may call me Úmarth."

Laevin stared for a moment, then laughed. "No doubt, no doubt! But let us get you a mug and a plate before we speak more of this."
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:59 AM   #57
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Talan looked at Delia, a little surprised. Nobody before had bothered asking him about himself; well, except for the innkeeper, but that was probably just to make sure he wasn't a cut-throat.

"I-I dunno where I was born. Somewhere east, me reckons. But I lived in Dale for most of me life; a nice city, I daresay. Lost of friendly people-and the guards aren't mean to streetrats like myself."

He looked at Delia out of the corner of the eye, thinking about what she thought when she heard about his upbringing. But her face, with those diamond eyes did not change, their expression of interest remained the same. It gave him the courage to continue.

"When I was about 15 or 16-I dunno know my real age, ye see- there came some trouble. Some easterlings arrived to town, and asked questions. They gave me some money, to help them out. But then they got hanged, for being spies. And the crowds, they reckoned I was a spy to, you know. So before things got bad, I took me belongings, which didn't take long, and then ran off. I tried living in the wild, but I wasn't good at it. So I got here to this place, asked for some jobs and someone directed me to this here inn. And here I am."

After this long monologue, Talan felt silent. He could not remember when he last had spoken so much. Delia made him feel comfortable, and when she looked at him he did not feel like a street child like he did when he was in the Great Hall. After some silence, he cleared his throat and said:

"Er, so, what about you? How does a pretty girl like yeself end up here?"
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Old 07-01-2003, 08:31 AM   #58
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With the Assistant Innkeeper being called home for a family matter, Bęthberry was finding herself busier than she had expected. Aylwen, you don't know how much you are missed! she whispered to herself and to the air, as if the message would hang there, circling the rafters round and round, ready for Aylwen to find when she returned.

Bęthberry then spied young Barthaew with his sac of new mugs she had ordered. "Barthew! A timely arrival indeed. Many thanks for making the mugs for me on such quick notice. If you'll deliver them to the kitchen, to Iswyn, I'm sure they will be put to immediate use." The Innkeeper then reached into her front pocket to find payment. "Here's the sum agreed upon, five pence each. Mind you don't spend it all here tonight, though, my lad," she spoke with a friendly grin, as she counted the pennies out into his palm. She watched around, ensuring that no ill-favoured sorts observed the transaction. She wouldn't want the boy to be relieved of his wages, for his family could use the money well.

As Barthaew disappeared into the kitchen, the Innkeeper watched a young girl with a country shyness about her timidly walk through the front door. Yet there was nothing timid about the voice which spoke up. It rang clear and sweet, perhaps hesitant, but honest about the request for employment.

"You'll be willing to work the laundry, and be a maid for the upstairs rooms, Theora? We'll have sheets and pillow cases, linens and napkins galore for cleaning on the morrow."

"Aye, I promise. As I said, there are too many of us on the farm, and I need to help bring in some wealth for the family."

"Show me your work tomorrow and then we'll settle on your salary. For now, help yourself to dinner, and see what aid you can offer Iswyn in the kitchen."

"You'll pay me honestly for all I do?" the young girl asked with solemnity, afraid she was being asked to work for nothing."

"Of course, of course, my lass. Your mother spoke the truth when she said we are a decent Inn."

Out of the corner of her eye, Bęthberry saw Mia's face cloud over as she took an order from a smooth-faced patron and something silver flashed briefly in front of her. The Innkeeper murmured a "hhmmpfht" to herself as she worked up a stern rebuke for the patron, but then she saw with much relief that Laevin had worked his own measure of reprimand. She could not ask for more from a good neighbour and a decent citizen of the city. She was proud to call him 'friend.'

Bęthberry then sought out Talan, who she found shirking his duty by hiding in the kitchen with Delia.

"Talan, there's a patron who's lip is a little too free with the help here. Please circulate in the Great Hall and watch that none of the staff are subjected to any rude slights. Let me know immediately if any problems arise. We don't want knife fights breaking out." He nodded nervously, hesitantly, and walked out to observe the party. Bęthberry wondered how long it would take for him to become comfortable with his job.

On her way out of the kitchen, she whispered to Mia. "Keep the dagger about you if you wish to feel safe, but don't show it in the Inn, for we don't need to encourage any disorderly braggarts. Bring problems to me or to Talan."

With a sigh of busy labour, Bęthberry then walked out to mingle in the Great Hall. She spied the once-bedraggled stranger, now cleaned and freshly dressed, sitting with Laevin. The clothes, she observed, suited him well, and air of tired despair had left his visage. She wondered what story he had to tell and what use he would make of his good fortune.

Not able to find Annawyn in the crowded hall, Bęthberry took herself to a chair at Laevin's table.

"May I join you briefly?" she asked the two men.
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:37 AM   #59
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Mellaith and Ravenna stayed close together as they wandered around. The inn was crowded and everyone was singing and dancing. The girls talked to friends of theirs. They stayed away from the adults because they were only 15 and still considered Childs.

“Excuse me, can I have some water” Ravenna asked to the bartender. He quickly grabbed a glass and filled it with the clear liquid.

“Thank you” she said before hurrying back to Mellaith. The girls sat down with their friends and began to eat. Ravenna studied everyone sitting down with them. There was Jesslyn a pretty girl with chestnut hair. She was only 14. Tessa sat next to her. Tessa had long golden hair. She was 16. Ravenna was surprised that she was friends with them. Next to Tessa sat Lothawyn. She was the same age as Mellaith and Ravenna but she was prettier. She had dark red hair and green eyes.

The girls laughed and talked while they ate. Once they had finished they decided to dance. They sang to the songs they knew and laughed at funny things.

“The banners are lovely” Tessa said in a clear voice. Mellaith and Ravenna smiled at her. Many people at the inn seemed to enjoy them too. Ravenna was happy at this thought. After a few more songs the girl spread out. Mellaith, Ravenna, and Jesslyn headed towards a little cluster of staff members and Tessa and Lothawyn started to talk to a cluster of girls. Tessa and Lothawyn had become friends since they were both bakers’ apprentices. Jesslyn on the other hand was an apprentice healer.

“Hello” Delia, Jesslyn said as she approached the apprentice healer.

[ July 01, 2003: Message edited by: elven maiden Earwen ]
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:44 AM   #60
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Walking slowly, both because the room was full and because she wanted to take everything in Theora walked to the kitchen door. There was singing coming from more than one person, and not all tuneful. Men, women and children laughed and talked all around her. It got loud at home, but it was a very different sort of noise when you had three younger brothers. Theora's eyes went quite round. A loud grumble from her stomach surprised her. It seemed like no time at all since she left home in the morning, but dawdling through town had taken a while. Suddenly she registered the growing dusk as she had come into the inn.

Mama would be cross, she thought sadly. Mama will never know! The second thought cheered her so much that she grinned at a youth standing near. He blushed and turned away.
"Ooops" Theora whispered, giggling to herself quietly. Quickly she darted through the kitchen door.

It was like entering a different world. It was very hot, and the smell of all sorts of food made her stomach grumble again. But it was still loud, mostly from the common room next door, and no-one seemed to hear.

Gazing around Theora spotted a slightly grumpy looking woman at the fire. She looks a little scary, Theora thought. There was something strangely familiar about her too. She giggled again suddenly as she realised that she seemed a bit like Mama! The noise seemed to have caught the ear of a younger woman, who looked up from her work and smiled. Theora smiled back. The girl kept smiling, Theora kept smiling.

"Yes?" the girl asked.
Theora blushed. "S-sorry" she stuttered. "I was told to get some food and then help Iswyn. I'm going to be working here now"
Once again she found herself smiling hopefully across at someone. It seemed to be becoming quite a habit!
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:12 PM   #61
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"I'm going to have some supper and then help Iswyn." The girl grinned at these words, Iswyn eyed her critically, a smile plastered to her freckled face. Help Iswyn? She did okay. Not that help would be unwelcome. Iswyn bit her lip, glancing around the kitchen, she hoped they hadn't sent another girl because they thought she wasn't doing her work. Iswyn swallowed hard, wishing she'd spent less time on the apples and barley, and more on the dishes. Her grin still stuck lopsidedly to her face she approached the newcomer.

"Well, you're in luck, I'm Iswyn!" The girl's smile broadened a little, and Iswyn hurried to get her a plate. She filled it high, making sure to give the girl a generous helping of the new peas she'd picked earlier- sneaking a few into her mouth on the way. Sliding the plate across a counter to the new girl she asked, "what's your name?"

The other girl ate neatly, chewing her food fully before looking up at Iswyn. "Theora," she answered, "I'll mostly be working upstairs, I think." Iswyn relaxed noticeably at this statement. Breaking back into her usual chatter, she gestured wildly from side to side, indicating the sinks where the dishes were done, the stove where Froma was still working, the counters and cabinets where the various dishes were kept.

"Iswyn, girl, give her a rest!" Froma turned to her, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "She doesn't need to know where every teaspoon and toothpick belongs to work down here tonight." Froma shot the newcomer a kind look and went back to his bustling around the stove. Iswyn suspected he was just keeping busy, as most of the food seemed to be finished.

Iswyn shot Froma a slightly reproachful look before turning back to Theora. "Well, then, what we can do for tonight is wash out these mugs. Someone just brough them in, and they're pretty clean, but they're all dusty, see?" she rubbed her thumb across the rim of one of the mugs. A darker stripe showed clearly where she'd rubbed it. She made a disgusted face. "Can't drink out of that." Theora smiled and shook her head. Disappearing under a stack of dusty mugs, Iswyn reappeared near the sink, beckoning to Theora to come join her.
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:23 PM   #62
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Laevin broke out in a large grin at Bethberry. "Welcome to our table! If anyone deserves a break tonight, Miss B, it's got to be you. Have a seat! The place looks so grand, and your cooks have outdone themselves with the beef and parsnips tonight!" Suiting the action to the word, he forked a large section of his slab of meat into his mouth and chewed with all the gusto of a man who thinks his repast came straight from the kitchens of Valinor.

Washing down the beef with a slog of ale from his mug, Laevin said, "I was just about to ask this man Úmarth to tell me more about himself. It might be his one opportunity to get in a word, you know how I am once I get started with my talkin'..."
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:20 PM   #63
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Aleia rode up to the inn. Reining in her pony Skeet, she looked at the sign swaying gently in the wind. "The White Horse Inn", she read aloud. "Lovely name. Hopefully, it has lovely accomodations to boot!" Chuckling at her joke, Aleia dismounted and led Skeet to the stable, where she tethered him in a stall and, nodding to the stable-boy, headed to the inn.

Upon entering the inn, Aleia was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and scents of the Horse. People were everywhere, talking, laughing, eating, and drinking. Ah, what I need is a good mug of ale! thought Aleia, and made her way over to the bar. People glanced at her, mildly surprised to see a hobbit in Rohan. She was used to people gawking; it happened a lot. It seemed that people could not grasp the concept of a travelling hobbit.

Hopping onto her stool (which received a few chuckles from the humans), Aleia ordered a pint of ale and a biscuit. Upon receiving her meal, she bit into the biscuit and sighed in weary contentment.
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Old 07-02-2003, 08:52 AM   #64
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Úmarth averted his eyes upon hearing Laevin's request. Instead, he spoke to Bęthberry. "Thank you, my lady for your kind gift," he said. "I would like to repay your generosity somehow." At that moment, Mia set a plate of stew before him. With a brief nod to the server, he dug into the bowl voraciously and did not look up again for several minutes.

When his assault on the bowl slowed, Laevin cleared his throat. "I am pleased that you are enjoying the fare here, and indeed it appears that you had some need," the blacksmith said with a smile. "But come now. One cannot give a name such as Úmarth and not expect to be called upon to tell his tale."

Bęthberry nodded her agreement. "Your secrets are your own if you so choose," she said. "But to claim the name of Ill-Fate is not to keep your fortune a secret."

Úmarth nodded. "I am in your debt," he answered. "So, as a matter of courtesy alone I am bound."

He sighed and raised his head. "I was a Captain of the Eotheod in Eastfold. One day in the course of my duties I came to Meduseld. While there, Grima, the King's counselor, bade me to deliver a message to Saruman the White in Isengard. I took ten men with me and made for the Gap of Rohan. However, I never reached Isengard. My men and I were set upon by a large band of Orcs and all were slain, even the horses, except myself and I was sorely injured." He indicated his shrivelled arm.

"I walked as far as I could, back towards Meduseld and was found by other Riders and taken back to the Golden Hall where I was cared for. But in a matter of days, I was summoned before the King and Grima was there. He accused me of negligence and with scornful words placed the blame of the loss of my men upon me. When I answered that we were taken unawares and that the Orcs appeared to come from the Gap of Rohan, from the direction of Isengard, rather than the east side of the mountains, Grima grew angry. He cried that Saruman has ever been our ally and has kept the Gap of Rohan safe and closed to our enemies. He argued that if our Riders were not capable of protecting our borders to the east then we should withdraw somewhat. The King agreed both to withdrawing our men and that I was responsible for the loss of my comrades. I was stripped of rank and unhorsed and was shamed to the point where I did not wish to return to my family and have since wandered our land musing upon my ill-fate. Thus my name."

He said no more but his anger and shame was apparent...
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Old 07-02-2003, 12:45 PM   #65
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"...I'm Iswyn"
Theora smiled broadly, relieved that Iswyn hadn't commented on Theora's daydreaming. It would be one thing to not be given a job, but quite another to be turned out after only a few moments!

Talking brightly Iswyn filled a plate high with lovely looking food and presented it to Theora. Then she proceeded to talk on and on, very fast, as Theora regarded her food. It seemed very different to what Theora got on the farm, but picking up a pie and biting into it she recognised the creamy taste of chicken. The food might be different but it was very good!

"Iswyn, girl, give her a rest!" said a man Theora had not noticed earlier. "She doesn't need to know where every teaspoon and toothpick belongs to work down here tonight."
With a start Theora realised she had not a clue what Iswyn had been telling her. She smiled at her sheepishly and resolved to pay far more attention in the future.

Soon Theora knew that she could eat no more, no matter how nice the food was, or how long since she had eaten.
Iswyn smiled again.
"Well, then, what we can do for tonight is wash out these mugs. Someone just brough them in, and they're pretty clean, but they're all dusty, see?"
Theora watched as Iswyn proved her point that yes, the mugs were indeed dusty.
"Can't drink out of that."
Theora shook her head to show that she had been paying attention, then watched as Iswyn went to the sink and beckoned to her. Taking her plate, Theora followed.]

"What shall I do with this?" she asked, motioning to her (admittedly few) leftovers.
"There" said Iswyn, pointing to a bucket.
"For the pigs?" asked Theora with a grin, scraping the food off her plate. Iswyn nodded. Theora went back over to the sink, placed her plate in and started scrubbing, determined to show her worth.

"I like pigs" she said to Iswyn conversationally. Finishing her plate she went to pick up a couple of dusty mugs.
"Very clean animals, really" she continued. "Cleaner than my brothers! But then I think most animals are..."
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Old 07-03-2003, 05:47 AM   #66
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Iswyn giggled at this last statement, nodded her head solemnly, then rethought and shook it instead. "I don't have any brothers." She said, conspiratorially, "but there are boys around here sometimes. Dirty creatures." Theora laughed and Iswyn rolled her eyes dramatically. Hopeless really, boys.

By the end of the stack of mugs Iswyn was more than satisfied with Theora's company. How could she help but be satisfied when she had a companion who was content to wash mugs and laugh while Iswyn told stories and giggled and sloshed water clumsily on the floor. After a particularly large wave leapt over the edge of the dishpan, a loud cry interrupted Iswyn's story.

"Iswyn! The Floor!" Froma's lips twitched at the corners as he pointed at the puddle that had formed around Theora's and her feet. Iswyn dragged a bare toe through the puddle (having abandoned her shoes hours before) and drew a little swirl of water on the floor. She snuck a glance at Theora, whose eyes were wide with terror, and her cheeks unnaturally pink. The towel Froma had slung over his shoulder was roughly shoved into Iswyn's hands. She winked at the other girl, before folding the towel neatly and setting it on a counter.

"Aww, Froma, we're gonna wash it later." she said, carefully trying to keep the grin off her face, and not entirely succeeding. Theora squirmed beside her and Iswyn nudged her with her elbow to look up. Froma's face was twitching in a way that was oddly akin to suppressed laughter.

"Well, girls, Mistress Bethberry said you were to have a break and a treat... but I'd better see that puddle cleaned up first." He noted the flash of excitement in Iswyn's eyes and neatly redeposited the towel in her hands. "If you want strawberries and cream before they're all gone, I'd get a move on."

Iswyn exchanged a delighted glance with Theora. "See, Froma yells, but he's not mean." she whispered, as she passed Theora the towel and went to fetch another. "He just likes to pretend. He can't fool me." The two girls giggled as they set to drying the floor, the promise of strawberries hurrying them along.
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Old 07-03-2003, 08:32 AM   #67
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Bęthberry looked away, seeking the faces of the many patrons of The White Horse, and nodded helloes to those she knew, so that she could respectfully overlook the anger and shame on Úlmarth's face. While a hearty, good natured smile still formed on her lips, it was possible, at close quarters, to see apprehension obscure the usual merriment of her eyes.

The Innkeeper turned back to the table, and sipped from her tankard, filled as it always was on occasions such as this with fresh water. She spoke quietly, with measured words.

"Yours is the first story I have heard, Úlmarth, of an apparent confusion in the Golden Hall and of a counsellor who seems less concerned with the needs of our citizens than with the affairs of the powerful and mighty.
I trust the truth of your own misfortune, but I have heard no other stories of orcs afoot where they should not be."

At this point the Innkeeper stopped her story to watch the flames in the great fireplace weave their shadows. She turned back to the two men with a calm voice and took a second sip from her tankard.

"There may well be strange deeds afoot in the land. I know not what they portend but I will not have them turn my Inn into a site of misery and despair. Wherever I can I shall offer shelter and hope and kindness, as Laevin himself does, to those to whom fortune has shown malice rather than forebearance or goodness. We shall have mirth over madness and misdeeds."

[ July 04, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 07-03-2003, 09:20 AM   #68
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Talan listened close to what Umarth had said. Although he had traveled through some parts of Rohan, he knew nothing of Isengard, the king or orcs. In fact, he had not even seen one in his whole life. They were not common up north, in Dale, and he had been lucky to avoid them on his journey west. Then Bethberry discovered him listening and gave him a stern look, and reluctantly he returned to his work.

He walked up to the bar, and looked around. The one Laevin had taken care of had left with his drink, but another seemed to have been drinking heavily. Suddenly, he dropped his head on the table and began snoring.

Talan sighed, and then without much effort lifted the small parton out of his chair, and carried him out in the barn and threw him down, rather ungently, into the hay.
"He's thru' partyin', that one."

He muttered to himself as he returned to the Great Hall. It did not seem like there was anything else to take care of, but he could see that Mia was apparently popular at the customers.

He walked up next to her, and looked around. Any customer who seemed to have the wrong kind of thoughts received a harsh look, and soon they were all using their attention on their ale.

"If them lot bring any more trouble, I'll be right here to sort 'em out. Just you say the word and they'll be out of here in no time." he told Mia, and then sat down not far from her, making sure that he was ready to aid her if the need arose.

[ July 03, 2003: Message edited by: Daniel Telcontar ]
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Old 07-04-2003, 04:11 AM   #69
Lyra Greenleaf
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"Iswyn! The Floor!"

Theora jumped at the sound of a cross voice behind her. Talking to Iswyn she had barely noticed time passing, even as she washed and dried dusty mugs. Guiltily she looked down. There was no broken shards, which was a relief. But she could see what the cook meant, as there was a great pool of water on the floor, lapping around Theora and Iswyn's feet. She bit her lip, and could feel herself blushing with fear. If she had made this much mess at home, Mama would have punished her. Here, in the world, surely it would be worse? Carefully she kept her eyes on the floor and willed herself to not let tears form.

"Aww, Froma, we're gonna wash it later." Iswyn said, with a half smile. With her elbow she nudged Theora and gestured her to look at the cook. Looking at his face she saw that he was having even more difficulty than Iswyn in keeping his face serious. Relief flooded through her.

"Well, girls, Mistress Bethberry said you were to have a break and a treat... but I'd better see that puddle cleaned up first. If you want strawberries and cream before they're all gone, I'd get a move on."
Theora grinned widely, exchanging glances with Iswyn. Strawberries! she thought excitedly. They were a real treat this early, Theora knew how much her father charged. With a smile she realised that these might be from her farm!

Happily Theora took the towel Iswyn offered her, as she thought of the strawberries fields and her Papa.

"See, Froma yells, but he's not mean." Iswyn interrupted her thoughts.
"He just likes to pretend. He can't fool me."

Theora giggled quietly, both girls trying to keep him from hearing.
"He seems really nice" she whispered back, sopping up the water eagerly. "And isn't it lovely of Mistress Bethberry to give us strawberries? She must be really nice too."

They had soon finished the floor. In fact Theora was surprised that it had taken so little time. Eagerly she took the bowl of fruit from Froma.
"Thank you" she said with a smile, having decided he was definitely nicer than Mama.
"Would you two like to go in and join the party?" he asked, grinning back. Both girls nodded.
"Go on then" he said. "But not for too long!" he added gruffly as they walked over to the kitchen door.

"When did you come to work here then?" Theora asked Iswyn as they entered the common room.
"Well..." she heard Iswyn begin but the noise was incredible. Theora leant her head closer. She felt happier than she ever had, probably. As she watched a little boy run in front of her she knew that she missed her brothers and sister. And Papa of course. But now she had a friend, and everyone was nice. With a contented sigh she listened to Iswyn talking. Yes, she was glad to be here.
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Old 07-06-2003, 08:33 AM   #70
Bęthberry
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~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It is now nearing sunset and dinner has been served to all. Food and dishes are being cleared away for the final entertainments of the evening. It was the practice, in days of yore, for storytellers and dream weavers to entertain such parties with tales. If any of you wish, feel free to have your character present a tale to the assembled guests. Bęthberry will be telling a ghost story, a very short ghost story, in a bit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Horse was crowded with patrons, bodies squeezed into close proximity, bumping into each other with good natured mock apologies and grins, breaking down the formality of the usual distance people keep between each other. One could see people catching each other's eyes as they acknowledged old friends or looked to find new ones. Some patrons were finishing up their meals while others had settled down in small groups of animated talk.

The night was hot. The windows had been thrown wide open, but the breezes which wafted through them brought the cloying mugginess of summer heat to add to the warmth which the bodies in close contact generated. Most of the children were grinning, aware of the special treat of being allowed to stay up late on a party night, although a few of the young ones were looking drowsy and one or two were on the verge of becoming overtired and cranky.

The Innkeeper realized that the time had come for some of the entertainments. She rose from her desk, carrying a largish brass pot with a huge wooden ladle, which made a resounding gong when struck together. It was sufficiently different from her usual sedate, quiet bell that many of the staff as well as the patrons grinned in anticipation.

"Ah," Bęthberry said, grinning herself. "I might disappoint you. Others will have finer tales to tell. Instead I have a more pleasant task; I have a welcome to extend, to two people whose presence will make The Horse and all of Rohan a finer place to be."

Whistles and calls broke out from some of the patrons at this point, and the Innkeeper paused, searching the throng for particular faces.

"I cannot see them in this press of people, but possibly"--a wink here--"they can hear me. Aylwen Dreamsong has done a sterling job creating not only good posts and games but bringing together in the fun and fellowship of gaming many new faces to Rohan. Her work here in The White Horse is eagerly anticipated and I'm sure she will help make this the most exciting Inn in all of Edoras."

A large loud cheer went up, hoots and hollars enough to bring a bright blush to Aylwen's face. Then Bęthberry continued.

"And most welcome is the return of our Bard after an absence of so many years. Child, your lore, your travels, your gracious, generous patience, will I hope provide Rohan with an education which has been missing in the past. May our writing and our gaming be richer for your wisdom!"

If Bęthberry had more words of welcome to add, they were lost in the swell of applause and cheers and toasts which rang out. Like any good speaker who knows how to work a crowd, she recognized when it was time to withdraw. She signalled a special round of mead, or ale, or tea for all, and then went to find Annawen, with whom she had not yet had time to chat. Passing by the long table, she spied a most unlikely traveller through the plains of Rohan. It had been a long, long time since she had last had a chance to talk with a hobbit and she was curious to know what brought the young person here.

The minstrels struck up their instruments, beginning with a celebratory jig. In the meadhall and all around the White Horse, patrons and staff began keeping time to the rhythm of the instruments with their feet, their heads, their hands slapping their thighs. The rattling good sounds of jubilation rang out.

[ July 07, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 07-07-2003, 08:53 PM   #71
Aylwen Dreamsong
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Sting

There were three ravens sat on a tree,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
They were a black as black might be,
With a down.
The one of them said to his mate.
"Where shall we our breakfast take?"
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

Down in yonder green field,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
Their lies a knight slain under his shield,
With a down.
His hounds they lie down at his feet
So well they do their master keep.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

His hawks they fly so eagerly
Down a down, hey down, hey down
No other fowl dare him come nigh,
With a down.
Down there comes a fallow doe
As heavy with young as she might go.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She lifted up his bloody head,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
And kissed his wounds that were so red,
With a down.
She got him up upon her back
And carried him to earthen lake.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She buried him before the prime,
Down a down, hey down, hey down
She was dead herself ere even-song time,
With a down.
Eru send every gentleman
Such hawks, such hounds, and such leman,
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.


The White Horse was alive with the beat as the minstrels finished their song. The patrons cheered approval and lifted their sloshing mugs in praise to the musicians. Aylwen clapped along with the rest of them, after helping one half-asleep boy to find his mother.

Aylwen had so far enjoyed the night past little snags and troubles. Aylwen thought Bęthberry had seemed all too kind with her welcoming speech, but deep down Aylwen appreciated the Innkeeper's kind words. The new assistant's slight absence had been for family matters, including much visiting and reminiscing involving a certain inn called the White Horse.

"Good to see you getting some meat on your bones!" Aylwen called to Tar, who was helping himself to some of Froma's salmon stuffed potato skins.

"Good to see I did a better job than you would on the floor!" retorted Tar cheerfully. Aylwen chuckled and sat down next to the old friend for a moment.

"It is a good time for some story telling," commented Aylwen, sneakily taking one of Tar's parsnip patties. "How about telling me the tale of your sickliness?"

Before Aylwen could continue further on the conversation, something tugged at Aylwen's skirts. Looking down, Aylwen could see a little girl who looked about five or six pointing angrily at another girl nearby.

"She took my cherry cobbler!" the first girl complained, whining as if she was too tired to pursue the matter further without help.

"I did not!" cried the other girl in defense, and Aylwen lifted a brow and shot a look at both girls that silenced them.

"I didn't see what happened. However, I don't like tattle-tales or thiefs much. Why don't you two just call it even, and see if one of the kitchen help will get you both new desserts?" Aylwen suggested, and the girls slowly nodded and stalked off towards the kitchen. Aylwen stood from her spot and rustled Tar's hair as she left the table, walking over to the children's table.

"Would you all like to hear a story?" Aylwen asked, eyeing each child at the table in turn. Some of them looked very tired, others looked alert and awake as if trying to hid their exhaust. Aylwen recieved a reply of weary nods and a chorused "Yes."

"Good. A long time ago, there was a young girl who desperately wanted to be a fiddle player. However, every time she tried to play her violin she would put her fingers on the wrong string or spot, making for a horrible sound. The old master minstrel took pity on her and gave her a magic bowstring which cured her of her affinity to play the wrong notes.

"But on the night of the big performance the minstrel company was going to play in front of the king, she left her magic bowstring at home! Without it she had to borrow a practice bowstring and she would play all the wrong notes again. That, children, is when the master minstrel told her that they weren't magic at all! The fiddle player got her confidence back and played wonderfully ever after."

The children clapped and some sighed, but Aylwen could not tell if it was from sleepiness or like of the story.

[ July 09, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 07-08-2003, 11:46 AM   #72
Child of the 7th Age
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Sting

Child was secretly grateful for the cordial greetings and words of support voiced by Mistress Bethberry. So long away from the fields and glades of Rohan, yet still there were some who remembered him when he'd roamed the alleyways and streets of Edoras first as a child and later as a young man come of age.

Older folk had finished up their desserts and were now lounging quietly on whatever benches and chairs they'd managed to grab, while they listened to music and waited for Bethberry to begin her story. The children were another matter. Tired and crotchety after too much excitement, several of them were sprawled out sleeping or had begun squabbling with each other.

Seated by herself at a corner table, quietly sampling a platter of desserts, Aleia was the only hobbit in the room and a definite oddity to many who lived in Rohan. One of the older lads named Alaric whom Child didn't know sidled up to ask some questions. Whether it was the late hour or just meanness of spirit, the boy's queries soon degenerated into teasing, something Child knew from first-hand experience and which he truly hated.

Resisting his initial impulse to go over and physically throttle the lad, Child casually roamed over to the table and introduced himself to Aleia, gently nudging Alaric to the side. The hobbit and man sat down for a moment to share an ale, as Child inquired about things in the Shire and mentioned how much he'd enjoyed his stay there. Much to the Bard's delight, he discovered that Aleia was related to a family whom he'd met on his earlier travels.

Child suggested a few sights for Aleia to consider visiting during her brief time in Edoras and then waved goodbye, making sure that the hobbit had managed to secure a room for the night. Turning around to Alaric who still stood red faced a few feet away, he guided the lad over to the side of the room and quietly admonished him, "No more teasing! Yes, I know she looks different than we do. But you've no idea how much there is beyond the boundaries of Rohan. You'll miss half the fun of living if you're afraid to consider anyone or anything that's different."

The lad eyed him warily, then asked, "How much have you seen? Of the lands beyond Rohan?"

"That's a story too long for the telling. Come along to the Inn some afternoon and I'll share a tale or two with you. Just promise me you'll behave now and give that lass some respect."

Alaric mutely nodded and ran off in the direction of his friends.

[ July 08, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 07-08-2003, 02:42 PM   #73
Horse-Maiden of the Shire
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Sting

Aleia sighed as the boy who had been asking her questions, and then poking fun at her feet, height, and ears was pushed to the side by an adult male. Finally! she thought. The man came and sat down beside her, introducing himself as Child. Glancing behind her, Aleia spotted the lad standing there red-faced. She gave him a death-look and moved her cloak over to show the dagger on her hip. The boy's eyes widened and his face had a frightened-rabbit look. Aleia looked back toward Child and winked. He chuckled and they began to talk.

When Aleia told Child of her last name, he seemed delighted, and she found out it was because she belonged to a family he met while travelling. They exchanged bits of news while they shared an ale, and then Child excused himself to leave. Aleia heard him reprimanding Alaric behind her, and she laughed to herself.

The minstrels put on an excellent show! Aleia thought to herself. Although Child's company had been shortlived, Aleia was glad for it, for it was dreary to sit by yourself. She raised her mug and cheered along with the crowd for the minstrels.

[ July 08, 2003: Message edited by: Horse-Maiden of the Shire ]
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Old 07-09-2003, 09:30 AM   #74
Child of the 7th Age
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Sting

Unable to find an empty seat in the crowded dining room, Child opted to go outside on the Inn's front porch. A bit of space and privacy was just what he needed to mull over everything that had happened that day. For the last ten years, he'd spent many a night under the open skies. Staying cooped up inside, even in a friendly place like the White Horse, was not the kind of thing he enjoyed.

In any case, it was a lovely night. The air was cool and crisp; the stars sparkled like glittering jewels. Directly above him was the Valacirca, the constellation of seven stars said to be placed there by Varda long ages ago as a weapon against Morgoth. And he had no trouble hearing the music that wafted through the open window.

Child awkwardly maneuvered his body onto the topmost step and leaned back against the stairwell railing as he listened to the lively strains of the fiddle and drum. It was a rare treat to sit by himself and let others do the singing and storytelling. It couldn't have been more than ten minutes later that Child saw a number of children come bursting out of the Inn's front door and run outside to play a game of tag.

They sprinted back and forth in the front courtyard, chasing each other through the tangled bushes and tall grass, then finally dropped down on the steps beside him, panting and holding their sides.

"I see you're managing to stay out of trouble," Child looked over in Alaric's direction.

The boy vigorously shook his head. "Well, I'm trying but it's not easy. It's boring inside. One of the guests was going on and on about some ancient kings. I was hoping he'd tell us about a dragon or some Orcs, but it's just a long list of names I don't know. I don't understand a word of it."

Child nodded and sighed, "Those names you don't recognize are probably the valiant kings of Rohan." He thought quietly to himself: don't they teach children anything these days beyond simply the skills to earn a living?

"How about if I tell you a tale? Something you will understand?"

Alaric agreed, "As long as it isn't boring and has some scary parts."

Child thought a minute and added, "Alright then. This is a tale about something that actually happened to me when I was travelling in the far north of the Misty Mountains. It was definitely not a very agreeable place at least when I was there. Filled with trolls and Orcs and other miserable things." As he began speaking, several of the children came over and sat down, folding their legs underneath and leaning forward to hear Child's words:

High up on the lonely mountains,
Where the wild men watched and waited;
Trolls in the forest, and Orcs in the bush,
And I on my path belated.

The rain and the night together
Came down, and the wind came after,
Bending the props of the pine-tree roof,
And snapping many a bough.

I crept along in the darkness
Stunned and bruised and blinded;
Crept to a fir with thick-set boughs,
And a sheltering rock behind it.

There, from the blowing and raining,
Crouching, I sought to hide me.
Something rustled; two green eyes shone
And a warg lay down beside me!

His wet fur pressed against me;
Each of us warmed the other;
Each of us felt, in the stormy dark,
That beast and men were brother.

And when the falling forest
No longer crashed in warning,
Each of us went from our hiding place
Forth in the wild, wet morning.*


Alaric stared over at Child, his eyes wide and questioning, "I don't believe you. That couldn't have happened. My father says all wargs are savage creatures."

Child looked out to the distant plain with a sad expression on his face, "Perhaps they are, and perhaps they aren't. Believe what you will. But that actually happened to me, and things even stranger than that. Perhaps, Alaric, there are more things in Arda than you have ever dreamed of."

Even after the others left, the lad sat over to one side of the porch, saying nothing but thinking carefully on what Child's words might mean.

* My apologies to Bayard Taylor....

[ July 09, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 07-09-2003, 11:10 AM   #75
The Ruling Ring
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Sting

Barthaew sat back in a chair, looking at Child as he spoke his words, weaving a beautiful tale. The boy he was mainly directing his words to sat spellbound, murmuring to him finally when the man was finished then sitting back to think it over.

Barthaew looked around at the others. He might as well contribute, he thought. He used to love to craft tales.

"I'll tell next," Barthaew said softly, sitting up straighter in his chair as the others turned to him.

"Once in the longest days before lore,
A man washed up on a silver shore.

"Feeling the wind in his hair and the sand on his face,
He awoke in this mysterious place.

"He wandered on, into the heart of the land.
And there saw things he could not understand.

"There were trees, wide trunks, thick branches, wide leaves...and voices floating in the eaves.

"Deep and slow, old and pure, the man heard them, and he strained to hear more.

"They sang in a tongue not understood by men. They sang their songs, and they sang them again.

"The man tried to see them, standing on a mound, but he couldn't see that they were all around.

"The trees sang the songs, for the trees were alive...on the sun and the Wash did they thrive.

"The man fell asleep listening to their speech. When he awoke, he was on another beach.

"He was home again now though he didn't know how. The last of his ship had been the sinking prow.

"But he questioned not fortune, if fortune it was called. For when he told his tale, he was denounced by all.

"They thought he'd gone mad, was too long on the sea. But he knew the truth, what he'd heard in the trees.

"And even when old, a man frail, gray, and bent, he was glad that he knew he'd heard real, true Ents.

"Though he didn't know that name, which was shortened from so long, he was blessed with having heard the blessed Ent song."*

Barthaew bowed his head as he sat back again, to scattered applause to the poem. He'd always loved the notion of Ents, though he'd never seen a real one.

Soon, he heard song a few paces away, and picking up his mug moved to hear it better.

*original poem

[ July 15, 2003: Message edited by: The Ruling Ring ]
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:08 PM   #76
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Sting

Iona wiped a blonde strand of hair out of her face as she put two pints of beer down in front of two men in the hall, before rushing back into the kitchens.

“Iona! Get those dishes washed!” Froma called to her as she ran back in.

“But there’s still so many people to serve out there!” she protested.

“How can we serve them if there’s no dishes?” Froma responded. “Mia’s still serving, and we could really do with you in here. Now, get cleaning!”

Iona stalked over to the sink, where she immersed her hands in the soapy water. Was the Inn always this busy? She had barely been here a day, after all, and she was already run off her feet. She didn’t see Iswyn anywhere about either, and she was supposed to be the main scullery maid, after all. Wiping and rinsing the glasses methodically, she stared out the window and watched the people go by, some merry, some sad. Behind her she just heard banging as Froma continued cooking. She had mixed feelings about him – he seemed mean, and shouted, but everyone else assured her that he was a nice man really. Only time would tell, she supposed.

Drying off the dishes, Iona let out a yawn, and rubbed her eyes. Only an hour left, and her first shift would be over. Despite the hard work, this Inn seemed a lot more reputable than the other places she had worked in the past six years. Her parents would be pleased to hear she had found a new position, and somewhere to live, as the last they had heard she had lost her job and was out on the street. All due to those broken dishes…Iona vowed to herself that she would not be so easily distracted by minor things in this job.

The dishes finished, Iona picked up a large tray, which nearly seemed to knock her small figure over as she left the kitchens. Placing it down in front of the customers, she smiled, dimples showing as she observed the good cheer of the White Horse Inn.
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:48 PM   #77
Daniel Telcontar
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Sting

Talan stood in a corner of the Great Hall. Things had settled down abit; most of the adults in their fancy clothes had settled down at some tables. The children were busy listening to the tales being told, though it was clear that some found the current one boring.

He caught Mia's eyes and smiled to her, and she smiled back. It made him remember the guy he had thrown into the hay, and he decided to check up on him.

He walked outside in the dark, and into the stables. The guy was gone, had probably gone home, if he could see straight enough.

Talan walked outside, and took a few deep breaths. He had always been most comfortable outside, and he could still feel uncormfortable when he was inside, especially with a lot of others.

Just then, his eyes caught a glimpse of something near the empty wagons.
"Som'body there?" When there came no response, he walked closer, investigating the carts and wagons. When he didn't find anything, he shrugged his shoulders and went inside again.
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Old 07-09-2003, 05:51 PM   #78
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Sting

The last light of the sky was leaking away as Aldhelm's cart pulled into the forecourt of the White Horse. His apprentice, Deol, jumped down from the bench and waved to what looked like a new stable hand. Together they went to the back of the cart and began unloading bags of new-ground flour. Aldhelm smiled at the boy's eagerness. It was clear he wanted to get work out of the way and start enjoying the inn. At 16 he was old enough to deal with the delivery aspect of the job himself, and Aldhelm felt no qualms at letting him. After all, the miller had paid his dues with his own father at 16.

The fair-haired man made his way to the door and inside. It was clear the party was winding down and it was time for the telling of tales. Aldhelm was not overly tall, though he was well built after years of hard work at the mill, and when the eyes of the crowd turned to look at the interruption he wished he was smaller still. The music did not cease, however, and he was quickly ignored by all but the people he knew in the crowd. He saw Laevin, the blacksmith, wave to him through the assembly, and sat down at the man's table with a smile.

"Ah, my friend, I see you have decided to join the revelries tonight," he said, grinning broadly. "I am glad to see you, for my waterwheel is in need of a new, thicker, shaft. I will be adding a new set of millstones soon."

"Aye," the blacksmith nodded back at him. "Bring me the measurements and I'll get to work on it next week."

Aldhelm nodded to the other man at the table, well-dressed but looking rather dour. He got no response but a nod in return and decided to wait a bit before asking after him. Perhaps after an ale.

As if anticipating his thought, Mia was at his elbow. He ordered an ale for himself and a punch for Deol, and enquired after a bit of supper as well, slipping a silver piece to Mia. She winked back at him.

"I'm sure we can find you something, miller," she commented, then hastily added, "And something for the boy, of course."

Aldhelm watched her wind her way back to the kitchen and stifled a yawn. The inn was warm and dark, and he was tired after his ride into the city.

"Took your time getting here, didntcha," Laevin commented drily.

"Ah, Laevin, you know how it is. I normally don't deliver until tomorrow, and I had a time convincing the wife there was enough flour made to make the trip worth our while. She's a bit jealous, you see, since she can't be coming into town until the babe is born. She knows I have to go, though, and doesn't really begrudge me the chance to see the inn at party time. Her conditions, of course, are that I get a day of milling in first, and that I bring back one fine tale, one fine dessert, and one fine greeting from the Innkeeper."

"You let that woman order you around a good deal."

Aldhelm laughed, "And so shall you, when you are married, my friend."

The ale arrived, and a promise of a cold supper, and Aldhelm lost himself for a moment in the tale, barely noticing when Deol took a seat next to the stranger and the food arrived. He was recalled to himself when he heard the stranger mutter to Deol something about him being lucky to have a job at the mill.

"Why, you can have one, too," said Aldhelm, "if you don't mind a hard day's work. I was hoping to find a ready man soon. I am adding new millstones and will need extra help. Edoras keeps growing, and the mill grows with it. You're a bit old for an apprentice, mind, but I don't doubt there will be work enough for a willing man. We'll do the improvements over the next few months and we'll need aid to have it ready by the time the fall harvest comes around."

The stranger seemed taken aback, and Aldhelm gave him some time to ponder it.

"Now," he wondered aloud to Laevin, "where is that innkeeper? I have a gift of honey from my wife's hive for her. The daughter collected it this afternoon. I hope I can catch her before I leave for home."

[ July 09, 2003: Message edited by: The X Phial ]
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Old 07-09-2003, 06:39 PM   #79
Thenamir
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Sting

"You just missed our dear Miss Bethberry," Laevin replied, "she was at our table just a moment before you walked in. Which reminds me, she'd asked me to join in the tale telling, and it seems like an opportune moment."

The crowd had just finished applauding a fine short tale told by another of the many visitors to the inn that night, but as yet no one had stepped up to continue the festivity. Laevin saw his chance and took it. He picked up a stringed instrument from one of the band members and smiled to the rest, "You all know Dwarf and Orc don't you?" They nodded their assent, and Laevin announced to the crowd, "We've not yet had a good sing-along, so let's hear some good clappin' and stompin'! Dwarf and Orc everyone!!" And with that there went up a cheer as Laevin pounded the rhythm into the floor and the band followed his lead.

Orc was crouched on the cavern floor
And kept an eye on the oaken door
For many a night he'd watched it close
To see who might appear.
Oh dear! See him leer?
He's clutching a mighty spear!

Orc was guarding a mighty stash
And any who'd come he'd have to slash
For stacked on high in the cavern behind
Were kegs of goblin beer
Oh dear! To his rear
The Goblin King kept all his beer!

Dwarf was thirsty as he crawled
To the oaken door on the cliff face wall
His nose had caught the scent of ale
Oh what a sweet sensation.
Elation! Fixation!
He's found the Goblin's libation.

Chorus:
Dwarf and Orc
A battle not worth telling
Spear or cork
With which should ye be assailing
Just pop a dwarf on the head with a cork
And see if his axe don't sing!
Just take that axe upon yer skull
And see if yer head don't ring!

With his axe he smote the place
But no surprise on the Goblin's face
Whilst guarding he'd just helped himself
And drank all the Goblin King's brew
Oh boo! What to do?
He's got himself into a stew!

The door came crashing in on Orc
Who'd traded his spear for a beer to uncork
His drunken smile was soon replaced
As Dwarven axe did cleave that face
What a case - of disgrace
The dwarf was king of the place

So in the dark he felt around
But nothing intact was to be found
The bottles smashed, the kegs all dry
The orc had drunk the lot
Found it not! Such a sot!
And deserving of what he had got!

Chorus:
Dwarf and Orc
A battle not worth telling
Spear or cork
With which should ye be assailing
Just pop a dwarf on the head with a cork
And see if his axe don't sing!
Just take that axe upon yer skull
And see if yer head don't ring!


(Click here to download and hear the song!!)

The crowd livened up considerably during the song, and by the end even the children were rooting for the dwarf. Long and loud was the applause as Laevin finished the tune with a flourish and handed the lute back to the surprised owner. He only took a brief bow before heading back to his table. Hands from the crowd slapped him on the back as he passed, and he smiled. It was nice to be able to play once in awhile.

"Well, now I've satisfied the innkeeper, I hope. I could use another jog of ale after that. Singin's hard on the throat," he said, winking at his two table-mates.

[ July 09, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 07-09-2003, 09:58 PM   #80
Bęthberry
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Shield

There had been tales to please everyone. Tales for reflection, tales for meditation, tales to curdle the blood and chill the bones, tales to awe the children and tales to satisfy even the most jaded of merry-makers.

Most of the patrons had wound their way home, back through the winding alleys and streets of Edoras, upstairs to the guests' rooms of The Horse, or to the long hallway at the back where the staff found their rooms. A few of the guests yet lingered, Annawen, Laevin, Aldhelm, although many of the staff had finished their work for the night. Talan had completed his check of the walls around the Inn and of stable; he had reported to Bęthberry that nought was afoot, yet for some strange shadows.

Bethberry thanked Aldhelm for the gift of the honey and asked after the health of his wife. The gift was treasured, for in times passed Bethberry had collected honey with his wife, a reminder that worked shared produced bounties of goods and of memory when hands worked together.

"Enough of this," yelled Laevin good naturedly to the Innkeeper. "You are keeping us up into the darkness of the still midnight. Where's your story?"

The Innkeeper grinned.

"I've been saving it, for a time when my guests are torn betwixt wanting more and wanting to be on their way. It's a riddle to confound their brains as they seek their good night."

Laevin nodded. Annawen chuckled to herself, knowing her friend and realizing that such a story might keep many a mind turning itself over in thought the next day. Aylwen winked at Bethberry as she completed the final night's tallies of dinners and ale, of dishes and of rooms. Bethberry watched the amber light of the setting sun turn to ebony glow and the ashen clouds cover the moon. She guessed it was time.

"My tale," she warned, "a word from the Old Tongue, talu or 'speech', is a tale of the last times of Mar-nu-Falmar. Not for nothing does Bęthberry tell a tale from the Akallabęth."

The few remaining guests shuffled on their chairs and in their seats. They weren't prepared for a long story. The Innkeeper complied with their wishes. She stood before them, hands at first held to her mouth, but then gently dropped to her sides.

"A woman was sitting in her house after the sun went down and there was great darkness in all the land and a great silence. She knows that she is alone in all of Avallónë for the Land of Aman was taken away; every other thing is dead."

"Suddenly, she hears a knock upon her door."

The Innkeeper bowed; her lips sealed. Silence reigned throughout the emptying hall. She spoke not a word to her guests, but ushered them out the large main doors, some with a nod, others with a smile, still others with a brief pat upon the shoulder. She looked out the door herself, at the dark night and the silent corners and walls around The White Horse. Nothing stirred but moonshadows. She turned the large skeleton key in the iron lock and turned, wearily, to her own room nearby. Tomorrow would bring new activities to the White Horse.
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