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Old 12-03-2003, 05:39 PM   #241
VanimaEdhel
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Silmaril

"Let go of the mug, my friend, before you bend the handle," Windheneb said to Castar, gently prying his hand off of the ale that the young man was no longer drinking.

"Who is he, I wonder?" Castar mused allowed, looking over to where the good Lady Aylwen was standing, conversing with another man. They seemed to be growing close. Castar did not like the man. "He looks as though he is up to no good. I do not trust him."

"That is only because he is talking to Mistress Aylwen," Windheneb said. "If he were talking to Zîra, say, you would not mind so much. Although why he would be talking to her..."

Castar was growing tired of the siblings' bickering. It was endearing at first, but now it grew to be a nuisance. Windheneb seemed to be unable to let a chance to insult his sister go by, and she seemed to be inclined to physically attack him each time he did so. Sure enough, Zîra reached over and smacked Windheneb on the back of his head. Castar sighed and turned back to Aylwen and the stranger.

"If only she would look over here," he said, beginning to grind his teeth a bit.

"Unclench your jaw, friend," Windheneb said jovially. But Windheneb did not know how it felt. He flirted, seemingly without attachment, to every pretty girl he met. Castar wished that just once Windheneb would actually like one of his female friends. Then he might know how Castar felt.

The three friends were all beginning to feel restless. Windheneb even ceased his flirting, seeming to grow tired of the serving girls. Castar thought he drank far more ale than he should. He wanted to keep Aylwen within sight, though. She was accomodating to his requests for refills, but the poor woman had begun to look a little worn. That is, until she began to converse with the traveler. She shot a glance here and there every now and again, as though subconsciously checking that all was as it should be, but she appeared to be more relaxed, at least to Castar. Did she ever look that relaxed when she was with him? He would have to pay attention next time the circumstance came about. Involved in his own thoughts, Castar missed everything Windheneb said, until the handsome young man forced his attention back to the table.

"-don't you think, Castar?"

"Hum? What?" Castar said, looking at Windheneb at the other side of the table. "Yes, I think so...of course. What was the question, again?"

"I said, 'The man over there appears to be making a good impression with Lady Aylwen, don't you think, Castar?'" Windheneb repeated.

Castar felt his cheeks turn a bit red. He brushed hair out of his face and sighed. "It would appear so," he finally said.

"You just met her, friend," Windheneb said, "You know nothing about the girl. Do not waste your stay here swooning over her."

"I was not swooning," Castar countered. "I hold Mistress Aylwen in the highest regard. I think she is a good person. And she certainly can handle responsibility. Look at the Inn."

"Look at the burned down stable," Windheneb countered.

"You know just as well as I do that was out of her control," Castar snapped, beginning to take his frustration with the stranger out on Windheneb.

"There's no need to get testy," Windheneb said, his voice becoming a little strained.

"Yes there is. I take offense at you accusing my friends of arson."

"I did no such thing!" Windheneb said, his voice rising to match Castar's.

"Boys, boys," Zîra said quietly, "Calm down. You would do well to remember where you are."

"I will calm down when he apologizes," Castar said loudly, standing.

"I will no apologize for something I did not do!" Windheneb said with equal force. He rose as well.

"Then I'll do it for you! I swear, you're both just like my children," Zîra said, still speaking in a low voice. She pulled them both back into the seats as a few people in the Inn turned to look at them. "Okay, Castar, Windheneb is very, very sorry he ever said anything to offend you or your lady friend. Windheneb, Castar mistook your words. Now shake and make up. Go ahead!"

The two men looked at Zîra in surprise. They had not been spoken to in such a way since both were children. They numbly shook hands, still staring at Zîra, who sat regally next to Windheneb. She smiled in a satisfied way, and the people that noticed the argument appeared to go back to their previous conversations. Castar finally looked at Windheneb, his eyebrows raised. Windheneb returned the look, as Zîra retained her noble, matronly position.

"All right, all right," she finally said, losing a bit of her smugness, "I'm sorry I treated you like children. Now start your fascinating discussion of the female mind again. Go ahead. I'm so intrigued."

"You don't have to get snippy," Windheneb muttered, looking down at his ale mug as though contemplating drowning himself in it to end the humiliation that he apparently felt.

"So I should continue letting yourself make fools of yourself? In case you forgot, the Lady Aylwen is still over there. She could have easily heard every word you said in your pointless argument."

Castar suddenly found himself feeling more admiration for Zîra than he felt before. He also suddenly felt incredibly stupid for his actions. He quietly apologized to Zîra, who said plainly that she needed no apology. Castar sighed again and looked into his own ale mug, wondering if he should join in Windheneb's drowning attempt. He knew his cheeks were bright red by now. Even Windheneb's pale, flawless cheeks were pink. They sat in silence until Zîra finally could not stand it any longer.

"Come on!" she said, "Someone speak! I can't take the silence anymore. It is far louder than any of your banter."

When they still did not speak, she continued, "So, Castar...tell me about how your family took on the profession of pottery."

Castar looked up at Zîra, who returned the gaze with very convincing curiosity. He finally smiled. "Well, we began the trade many generations ago..."

As Castar told the story, Windheneb gradually regained his composure. By the end of the recounting of Castar's lineage, Windheneb was out of his melancholy thoughts and was participating wholeheartedly in his usual merry manner. There was still a note of tension between the two, and Zîra often found herself filling in the pauses that existed in conversation when one or the other began to feel renewed indignation.
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Old 12-03-2003, 11:33 PM   #242
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Lachlan stretched his arms out as he stopped his cart in the yard of Lowfel's workshop. He was in a cheerful mood, even after all the mugs he had downed the night before. The great reason had to be that he had only one errand that day: to collect the barrels from Lowfel. The rest of the day he could dally off as he wanted. But he planned on easing Lowfel's work instead.

Weaving through the shelves and chests moved to the floor, Lachlan called out to his friend.

'Lowfel! How fares it!'

'It has been better my friend' Lowfel replied from behind another barrel.

Manouvering around, Lachlan found Lowfel concentrating on mending another one of the winery's barels.

'I see youre still at it! How uch longer d'you think you'll be working?'

'A few hours at least. You should head out and do other errands before you come here I'd advise'

Lachlan drew his hands behind his head and stretched 'If I had any!' He cast a look around and said 'It looks like you could use some help lifting stuff. Mind if I stay about here and help ye today?'

'Of course not! You can walk Share to the Inn as well! But first, give me your strong arms help on that chest'...
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Old 12-04-2003, 01:12 AM   #243
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Faran beamed with unrestrained pride as Bethberry told him to search for the woman Idona to help him with the stable. He had never before designed a stable before, but that was what Idona was for, he shrugged. Sigrid, too, had been hired, he thought with a pleased smile as he watched Goldwine scamper off somewhere. Bowing to the innkeeper, Bethberry, he said, “Thank you, ma’am. Where would Idona be?” he asked, curiously, his blue eyes searching the room, pausing at every female face that met his eye.

Bethberry said, “I do not know…” and then she went on to describe the girl. With a nod, Faran bowed again and strode quickly through the room. He passed a table and saw a pie that was brimming with berries swimming in red glaze. His eyes popped and he looked furtively around. He had already had a piece of pie, but not this kind and this kind looked tasty. Taking a silver knife, he cut himself a wedge, grinning with satisfaction as he could feel the plump berries yield before the sharpened blade. Snatching a nearby plate, he lifted the piece and hastily transferred it to his tin plate, watching with unconstrained satisfaction as the juice dripped in tantalizing drops and splattered on the wooden planks of the table. Narrowing his eyes and peering nonchalantly about him, he took his finger, wiped the juice, and stuck the finger in his mouth, delighting in the sweet flavour of the sauce.

Somehow finding his plate undisturbed in his old place, he was thankful that the waitresses had not yet come to his table. Sitting down upon the bench, he dug in to the pie, the red sauce oozing from the berries like blood. Faran absently realized that a man sat down beside him, talking about being smarter with his hands than with his head or something like that. The pie was so sweet, so good with the freshness of buries grown in a nearby garden.

“So what I have been thinking, is that I wanna be a carpenter perhaps. With the building of the stables and all, I was wonderin' if perhaps you can help me with learning that,” the mans said nervously.

Faran choked on his crust, and realized with a flush of crimson that this man had been speaking to him and that he had completely been ignoring the stranger. Wiping his mouth upon his blue sleeve, Faran gulped the rest of his crust down (it scratched his throat terribly) and gasped, “Sir! I am so sorry! Terribly sorry for ignoring you. Of course I would be glad to teach you carpentry…” Two students in one day…imagine that!

The man smiled with relief and Faran went on pleasantly, “Bethberry sent me to find a woman named Idona, so, if you want to accompany…” he let his voice trail off and looked longingly at the pie. No…he had already had two pieces and that was plenty.

The man nodded eagerly and Faran said, “Oh. The name’s Faran by the way,” he said, sticking out his hand.

The other man grasped it and said, “Talan. Nice to meet, ye.”

Faran smiled, twirled on his heel, and began to search for the girl that matched the description of Idona that Bethberry had told him. Looking at Talan who strode beside him, Faran said, “We’re looking for a girl with…” and he went on to describe the girl to Talan. Better four eyes than two, he reasoned. Besides, he wanted to make up for ignoring the man. He grimaced at the memory.

After wandering about the Common Room for sometime, Faran remarked to Talan, "Hmmm. Must be blind because I don't see her anywhere. Maybe she's not in the room." Shrugging, he looked around the room again.

[ 8:40 PM December 04, 2003: Message edited by: Imladris ]
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Old 12-04-2003, 12:46 PM   #244
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Bethberry left Aylwen in charge of The Horse and quietly returned to her room, where she pack a large, tattered cloak under her arm and a satchel full of healing salves and swaddling cloths. Returning to the kitchen, she conferred with Froma over plans for the dinner and then went to the garden, where, under the cover of the bush at the back, she donned the tattered cloak and walked away, hood up, down the ally away from the baker's shop. Slowly, she would make her way around to the shed at the back, where Froma had told her to meet Ruthven.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Hold yourself together, man. Things won't look so grim then," Ruthven advised Aldor. He had been shaking and she had thrown a blanket over his shoulders, in case he fell into more serious shakes which could harm him. That much of healing she knew, but not much more. For Findur she could do little, for she knew not how to handle his raspish breath. An icepack had stopped the bleeding in his mouth and at the back of his head. And she had coaxed the baker to supply them with some warm tea. She was worried with the long delay, however, in treating the men. And anxious to get away to her work. She could ill afford to lose an entire day's work.

The soft fall of footstep was heard and suddenly a dark hooded figure appeared at the makeshift door. "Shush," warned the figure and with a toss of a hand, threw back the hood, revealing the Innkeeper. "I'm sorry for the delay. Many things requiring attention at the Inn. Now, what repairs are needed?"

A wavering Findur nearly collapsed, but Ruthven caught him. His face was cold, clammy and his skin blotchy. His pupils were small. He seemed not aware of himself.

Bethberry put down her bag and examined his head wound. His hair was matted with blood, but a large bump appeared around the wound. He coughed and with every breath seemed to wince. The healer added some feverfew and trillium leaves to the tea and bid both men drink it in small sips.

"It is a worry, this wound where the falling timber hit him," remarked Bethberry with pointed statement. We must keep him awake. Aldor, speak with him, keep his attention. Do not let him fall asleep while I apply a poultice to this wound." She lifted his shirt and saw two ribs poking against his skin. Luckily, the skin was not brokened. Tight wrapping would be all she could do for the ribs. She worked quickly, quietly, adding more agrimony as a healing wash to the basins of clear water which Ruthven would fetch when the first ones became too bloody to cleanse the wound any longer. Holding his head gently between her hands, she looked him in the eyes, speaking calmly to him. "I will give you some snakeroot leaves to chew that will heal your jaw where the tooth is broken and control the bleeding. You must remember to keep chewing them softly, to keep infection away. The man slowly came to look at her, the combination of her voice and the painful attentions to his wound bringing him back to full consciousness. She bound the head wound after applying a salve of beardtongue and mahonia and then swathed his chest with soft flannel, binding his ribs to hold them in place until they set. She turned then to Aldor, who all this time had kept up his patter with his friend.

His scraped knuckles were soon washed clean and the spoonful of monkshood oil which Bethberry gave him soon calmed his fretful demeanour. She washed his burned face lightly, again with agrimony, and cut away the singed hair of his scalp. She spread a thick salve of arnica over his face and scalp.

As she worked, she hummed a small tune under her breath and, slowly, both men began to hum it in time with her. Ruthven caught the beat with her foot, tapping the dirt floor as well as her frail limb could. The ministrations were swift and the time passed quickly. Finally Bethberry rose.

"Ruthven, you will be wanting to leave and ply your trade today, if you can."

The old woman nodded. "I know where some saddles and tack might be found, if any wish to trade to replace what they've lost, but I need to seek them quickly."

"Go, then, with thanks for helping us avoid the guard. They have little patience these days with strangers who disturb the peace, whatever the reason and, from the sound of things, we had a guest at the Inn who was none too charitable a soul."

"Indeed not, Beth. I was sorely tempted to hide his child away, for fear he would harm her, thinking that a child under his thumb was receiving her just desserts."

"They left Edoras?"

"It would appear, unless they have sought the other Inn."

"May the girl have luck."

Ruthven left and Bethberry turned to Aldor and Findur. "I have a wagon here, which I borrowed from our barrel maker, to help carry the timber. I can carry you back in it, claiming that you carried over your aid in putting out the fire into fiding the wagon for me. If we are stopped, I will attest that your wounds looked like they were indeed incurred in the fire, of falling timber and flames, as I was told by a grateful crowd. There will be a room at The Horse where you may stay until you recover. And perhaps work for you. What do you wish?"

She looked at both men and waited for them to reply.

[ 4:56 PM December 05, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 12-04-2003, 06:19 PM   #245
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Eruvalde

It was a big common room for such a small girl to be in, all by herself.

Her father had gone off to see what help he could provide, leaving Eruvalde to her own devices. And about time, she thought: she was five years old, after all, not a child. Her mother hadn't treated her like a child.

The thought of her mother gave Eruvalde a moment's pause. She had been so sure that her father had told her that they were going to Momma's house, but Momma wasn't here. Oh, well, the girl thought, she'll meet us here. There was a whole inn to explore, and Eruvalde wasn't planning on missing so much as a square inch.

She walked among the people who were eating, getting more than one pat on the head and exclamation of what a lovely girl she was. She smiled politely and allowed them to muss her hair, though it rather irritated her. What did they think she was, a baby doll? Once they were done she smoothed her hair regally, bristling a little at the laughs that followed her motion. Adults. They could be so immature sometimes.

She tried striking up conversations with some of the other adults in the inn, but they all seemed busy and had no time to talk to her. Disappointed and frustrated, she put her hands on her hips and went off to the other side of the room.

She stopped when she heard music. She went over to the source, her head tilted, her steps long but quiet. She saw a fiddler and a young girl, probably not much older than herself, singing along. She smiled a little, hesitantly, and approached. She twirled her hair around her finger, not sure whether or not she should interrupt. The music was pretty, bright and cheerful, and it made Eruvalde want to dance. But instead she sat a little ways away, and listened.
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Old 12-04-2003, 11:44 PM   #246
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Keeping an eye on Reen while carving was harder than it seemed. He kept dissapearing into random places and if he didn't come when she called, Shrae would have to get up, find him, and put him back down near her work bench. She was just on another one such search when Lachlan popped into the doorway holding Reen and tickling him.

"Loose something?" he asked jovially as Reen took a swipe at his chin, causing Lachlan to quickly move his head back where it cracked slightly against the wall he hadn't quite moved away from yet.

Shrae giggled as Lachlan winced and rubbed his head.

"Here, you take him. He's dangerous."

Now Shrae laughed as she took the small boy. "What are you doing back here? Is Lowfel not finished with those barrels yet?"

Lachlan laughed. "You know your brother well. I'm here to escort you back to the Inn, if you'd like to return now, that is?"

"Well, I just want to finish this line. If you'd watch Reen I'd get it done in no time."

Lachlan gave a dramatic sigh and rolled his eyes, but he was smiling again as he took the baby and started the entertaining. Shrae quickly set back to work and in around fifteen minutes had finished the fourth line on her brothers new sign.

"Having fun?" Shrae leaned over Lachlan's back who was stomping toward Reen on all fours.

He looked up at her and smiled. "Yup! Ready to go?"

She snatched up Reen and blew a raspberry on his cheek making him squiggle and squeel in joy.

"Yup."

~*~

They joked and spoke of their families for a little bit, until Lachlan noticed the smell in the air.

"That's too strong to come from a fireplace or pit, and it's not the clearing season," Lachlan looked worried.

There was smoke in the sky, but they had been constantly by buildings and couldn't see where it specifically came from.

"Come on," Lachlan held her arm as he rushed her steps a bit. Shrae was new to this city, but the ale apprentice knew many of the inhabitants.

Soon they came to a clearing and suddenly people were everywhere. The smoke was sifting out somewhat, but it was still heavy on the air and Shrae had no clue where it was coming from. Lachlan hailed to a passerby who yelled back, "It's the White Horse! Barn fire."

[ 12:45 AM December 05, 2003: Message edited by: Kryssal ]
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Old 12-05-2003, 11:24 AM   #247
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"I guess that you are not from around here either, miss - your looks speak of Gondor also. May I ask how you came to be able to command such a rowdy lot from your throne of a bar stool?" Hisimé questioned, smiling and looking to the said barstool, which had become occupied by a little boy drinking milk with his mother nearby.

"Aye, sir, Gondor is my home as well," Aylwen confirmed, moving a step to the left as Tamurilo's daughter Eruvalde walked confidently by her. "My mother was a musician; I suppose I learned it from watching her quiet her audiences. In any case, the bar stool is as close to any throne as I will come, and still it will be of use to others still. Well, sir Hisimé, welcome to Rohan and the White Horse. I fear I must be getting back to work, but I shall see if I can get a meal out here for you soon."

Aylwen smiled and took her leave, going to the kitchen to find the keys for the hallway of forgotten rooms. On her way there, she caught the tail end of some argument at one of the tables. Turning to see if some fight needed to be prevented or broken up, Aylwen saw who the shouts had eminated from: Caster and Windheneb. They were standing and shouting at one another, which confused Aylwen greatly. The two were fighting nonetheless, but Aylwen neglected to call Talan and walked over to their table herself.

"Something wrong over here, Castar? Windy?" Aylwen asked sternly, picking up empty mugs and wondering if the two had had too much to drink.

"There's no trouble, Miss Aylwen," the woman at the table spoke up with a smile, for Castar had taken to looking down at the table blankly and Windheneb had begun to glance over at Castar. The woman continued. "Castar was just telling us about the history and facts about pottery and the like."

"I see," Aylwen murmured, looking to Castar and then to Windy and back again. "Well, if there are any problems, just let me know or call for Talan, miss."

And with that, Aylwen smiled grimly and walked away from their table with their empty mugs in tow.

The kitchen was chaotic and full of steam and the smell of fresh-cut vegetables and meat. Aylwen called a quick farewell to Bethberry as she left through the back door, and Aylwen momentarily wondered where the Innkeeper was going, but did not worry as she grabbed the keys for all the doors. Then Aylwen proceeded to make her way to the back hallway, and unlocked the first door to the hall. It almost jammed itself shut, but after a few frustrated tugs the hall door opened.

Aylwen unlocked the first door on her right, and coughed as she opened the door and stirred stray dust. The room needed serious dusting, and the sheets and covers needed washing, but the old rooms would certainly be ready for boarding in no time. Satisfied, Aylwen unlocked the rest of the rooms but locked the hall door and went to see if any maids could be spared the afternoon serving. Later that night she would show Sigrid to her room, and give a short tour of the inn. Returning the keys to their safe place, Aylwen went back out to the main hall to refill drinks and fill orders.
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Old 12-05-2003, 12:28 PM   #248
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Talan smiled with relief as Faran agreed to take him under his tutelage, and looked down in the ground when the carpenter called him "sir". Nobody had never called him that, certainly not in his time as a street urchin in Dale, nor here. Since he had not even lived a score of years yet, mostly just called him boy or lad.

He nodded when Faran mentioned the name Idona. "Aye, I recognise the name, though your description is a bit odd. But I reckon we'll find her quickly. You checked the Common Room and she ain't here?" After pondering a few seconds, Talan said: "Me guess is she is in the kitchen, then. If she ain't, then perhaps at her room. Let's check the kitchen first, and then her room if she ain't be in the kitchen."

So he led Faran out into the kitchen, grabbing an apple as he entered through the door and looked around for Iona. But she wasn't there either, so he left the room while saying to Faran: "I reckon she be at her room then..."

He stopped speaking as his gaze fell towards the windows, and he spotted none other than Iona. How they could have missed her when first searching the room was beyond him, but he shrugged his shoulders and gave Faran a push with his elbow.

"See that girl over there, by the window? Not the one shrubbing it, but the other one who serves around here; that be yer girl, Iona, that you've been searching for."

"Iona? I am looking for someone called Idona." Faran replied a bit puzzled. Talan could not help but laugh, and then said: "My mistake. Ye see, I thought you were looking after this her serving wench called Iona, but I reckon you are looking for a guest with a similar name. I did wonder about your description since it didn't seem to match completely. Sorry 'bout that, let's see if we can find this here Idona then."

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:27 AM December 06, 2003: Message edited by: Daniel Telcontar ]
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Old 12-06-2003, 12:25 PM   #249
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“Well,” Faran said, “this Idona certainly isn’t in the Inn. Outside, maybe?” Talan shrugged and nodded.

Heading for the door, they saw the ashes of the former stable: chunks of charred wood the only ruins. “Carpentry is relatively easy,” Faran said easily, “if you’re strong and patient. Of course, you always have to remember to measure correctly and get the angles and all that right, but after the first warped barn or building or whatever, you quickly learn the quirks. I remember the first cabinet that I made,” he added with a laugh to Talan, “It was a disaster…I think my master thought that I would be hopeless failure in the art of carpentry.”

People milled around the barn and Talan remarked, “I reckon it’ll be hard to find this Idona lass.”

Faran heaved a sigh. “Nigh impossible,” he agreed. “But since nothing is truly impossible and since it appears we have plenty of time for searching, it doesn’t really matter how hard it to find her. At least we’re not in a rush,” Faran continued. “It seems that whenever I am in a dreadful hurry, an object (say, my hammer) decides to loose itself. It’s almost as if that hammer has a mind of its own,” Faran said darkly, with sparkling eyes as he patted the hammer that hung innocently upon his belt.

“Why don’t we ask somebody?” Talan asked.

Well. That would be a start, Faran thought mentally. “Brilliant, Talan,” he agreed hastily. “Now who to ask?” he asked rhetorically. “We can’t ask one who is to busy,” he said, eyeing the people around him, “because they’d probably just wave us off. Hmmm.”

A boy seemed to be standing still, absently staring at the inn. Walking towards him, Faran knelt to his level and said, “Hello there, fellow. And what might your name there.”

Pulling his gaze from the Inn, the boy looked at him intently. Faran wiggled his eyebrows at him. “Madi,” the boy finally said.

“Well, Madi,” Faran said, “have you happened to see a woman named Idona anywhere perchance?”
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Old 12-10-2003, 10:47 AM   #250
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Sting

Olav

As he finished the last bite of the inn’s excellent luncheon, Olav sat back and sighed contentedly. There was definitely something to be said for community and a sense of belonging. He watched idly as a woman, presumably the innkeeper, posted a list of jobs available around the inn. Unexpectedly, he felt his heart lift at the idea of applying for one of those jobs and, if he was lucky, maybe becoming a member of the community at Edoras. After all, they needed carpenters and, as he had told Sigrid, he did know a bit of carpentry he had learned from his father prior to his life on the road. Ragnar or no, Olav was getting tired of living on the edge all the time. Ragnar thrived on it, but Olav had lately found himself casting a rather wistful eye upon the green plowed fields and thatched roofs of the farm houses they passed in their travels. He wanted to stop traveling for a while. Maybe put down some roots of his own.

He glanced out of the corner of his eye at Sigrid, who also watched the posting of the job list with avid interest. If she found a job at the inn, that would be all the more incentive for him to stay…at least for a while.

Almost as though he had been reading Olav’s mind, Ragnar suddenly hooked his thumb into a fold in Olav’s sleeve and dragged him to a quiet corner of the room.

"What are you doing?" Ragnar asked quietly, but there was an edge to his voice. "You’re not thinking of applying for a job, are you?"

Olav set his jaw obstinately. "What if I am maybe?"

Ragnar leaned forward, his forehead almost touching Olav's. "We're done here," he said firmly. "Fire is out, luncheon consumed, and girl is reunited with dog. Our horses are probably finished being re-shoed at the blacksmith's. We need to go."

"They need help re-building. I know a bit of carpentry."

"You don't know anything."

Olav felt his temper flare, but he pushed it down. He had been following Ragnar for seven years, even since he was fifteen and on his own for the first time. He owed Ragnar at least some loyalty, but lately Olav had been wondering if it had been a mistake to leave home in the first place. He just wasn't cut out for the same sort of life that Ragnar was, but so far Ragnar had managed to keep him out of trouble. Also, it didn't hurt that they had both seen a fair bit of money pass through their hands. Olav sighed and looked away from his cousin. Across the room, he caught sight of Sigrid curtsying and talking with the innkeeper. A moment later, as she fairly skipped away, he knew she had been hired.

Following Olav's eyes, Ragnar began to laugh. "It's that girl."

Olav felt his cheeks redden. "No, it's not."

Still laughing quietly, Ragnar shook his head. "You had me worried, cousin. I thought you were thinking about hanging up your spurs."

"I might," said Olav stubbornly. Actually, that was exactly what he had been thinking.

Ignoring him, Ragnar shrugged knowingly. "We can stay for a bit. I'm sure I can find something useful to do around here." He cast an appraising glance around the room. "But as soon as little Sigrid breaks your heart, you'll be more than ready to move on."

Olav shrugged. "You know, I wouldn't be so sure."

Ragnar gave him a sly sidewise grin. "No?"

"No."

"Hmm."

"You know, you don't have to stay, too."

This time, the smile vanished and Ragnar's sapphire blue eyes turned on Olav with a piercing intensity. "You want to be a carpenter?" he asked sharply. To Olav, Ragnar’s expression looked strangely threatening, almost ruthless. For the first time, since the conversation had begun, Olav felt himself falter.

"Uh, maybe," he said softly, but his brown eyes met Ragnar’s gaze with steadiness and calm decision.

"Okay, then," Ragnar shrugged. To the casual observer, the gesture looked like one of light-hearted indifference, but Olav knew Ragnar too well. The sudden flip-flop in his cousin's attitude made Olav feel distinctly nervous. Ragnar was up to something, Olav knew, but what it was he could only guess. Ragnar could be so unpredictable. Usually he took Olav into his confidence, but this time Ragnar’s face gave nothing away.

"We’ll be carpenters, then," Ragnar finished with an easy smile. With that, he turned and looked around for the Innkeeper, who no longer stood near the jobs bulletin where she had been only moments earlier. In fact, she was no longer in the room.

"Where'd she go?" he asked, his sharp eyes scanning the common room.

Olav shook his head. "Don't, Ragnar."

"What?"

"Whatever it is you're thinking," answered Olav gravely. "These are good people. Don't do anything to hurt them."

In apparent mystification, Ragnar shook his head. "Why would I do that?"

Olav didn't respond, but gave Ragnar a dark, glowering silence instead, which only caused his cousin to grin. While Ragnar's overall demeanor seemed to be one of innocent bewilderment in the face of a wild accusation, Olav noticed that Ragnar had made no promises to the contrary. Standing beside him, Olav waited nervously for the return of the innkeeper. He really did want a job at the inn. If he got it, though, the difficulty would lie in keeping Ragnar on the straight and narrow, which would be kind of like trying to keep a wolf as a house pet. Olav knew he would have to try to strike a balance between protecting Edoras from Ragnar and Ragnar from Edoras. He sighed. Life would be so much easier if Ragnar would just take his black horse and ride off into the sunset.

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

Sigrid

Having been offered the job by Bethberry, Sigrid found herself put to work almost immediately with the task of window-washing, which she took to doing with the zeal of the newly-employed. The soot was hard to get off of the leaded window glass, so Sigrid found herself scrubbing quite hard. Completely immersed in her task, she never noticed as one of the serving girls approached her and held out her hand.

"Hello," the other girl said pleasantly. "I'm Iona, one of the serving maids. Are you new here?"

Sigrid startled and turned around quickly, nearly overturning her water bucket in the process. Seeing the other girl, she smiled broadly and wiped her own hands on her skirt and shook Iona's hand.

"I'm Sigrid," she answered. "And you're right - I'm very new. Just hired, in fact, to do a bit of cleaning and laundry." She gestured to the soapy window. "Windows... As I was telling Miss Bethberry, I arrived this morning just in time for the fire. It's such an awful thing."

Iona gave Sigrid a quick smile and a shrug. "It really is, but once everyone has had a little time to get over the loss, the inn will be a right jolly place again, what with the excitement of rebuilding and all. "

"Oh, I hope so." Sigrid smiled as well. "Right now so many people seem so sad. It's hard to lose an animal, especially a horse or a dog. They're so much like family." She paused. "Have you been working here long?" she asked after a moment.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 12:45 PM December 12, 2003: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 12-14-2003, 06:52 AM   #251
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Writer of The Mark's post for Madi


Still, the little man stood outside of the Inn, glancing over at the entrance constantly. He wasn't looking after the newly-arrived people, but he kept seeing Linnea being dragged out of the door and down the street. Madi shuddered. Fathers weren't that great after all then, he thought miserably. Nonetheless, who needed a father anyway? For a moment he waited for Linnea to appear again, but she didn't. She was gone and would likely, after today, never ever come back again.

"Hello there, fellow. And what might be your name there?"

Madi looked up and stared into a man?s deep eyes. He waited and stood sceptically to the man's question. "This fellow's name is Madi," he said proudly, perhaps a bit more proudly than intended. He grunted as if to excuse himself for his lack of humility. The man gave a short laugh before introducing himself as well.

Faran started with a new question, which to Madi's annoyance came out of the blue. "Have you happened to see a woman named Idona anywhere perchance?"

Madi gave a short smile, but thought through what he would answer before actually giving a reply. Idona was the lady with the drawing, the woman Linnea and himself had met behind their hiding tree. Madi turned his look towards this Faran again. He shook his head and put his arms to his waist. "You're not her father perchance?" he asked. After Madi's memory fathers were bad. If Idona had a father as well, her chance for helping construct a new stable was about zero. They couldn't have that, could they?

At first the man didn't say anything. He was obviously in deep thought, and couldn't really understand Madi?s question. "Father?" he asked. "Is this Idona?" Faran didn't get to complete his sentence before Madi was there again, snapping: "Well are you, or are you not?" His tune was harsh and over done, and Madi realized this, but could do nothing now. Faran looked both surprised and as if he had difficulties understanding this fellow's sudden eagerness to protect this woman.

"I am not anyone's father," he said, now laughing. Madi couldn't help feeling stupid after the reply from the man. Surely, Faran couldn't be the father of Idona, he realized that now. First, he was way too young and second, Faran wouldn't deny something like that, right? Madi grew red. "Then, let's get down to business," Madi muttered reluctantly, feeling slightly embarrassed by the fact he had been snapping at an adult, older than himself, and the fact that he was protecting a woman he hardly knew, a woman he had met once.

"Well, Madi, I was just wondering where I could find Idona. We're possibly going to work together construct a new stable," Faran stated, growing a bit impatient, which Madi understood very well.

Madi hurried telling about Idona, how he and his friend had found Idona, sitting by a tree, drawing. She was currently attending a birthday party, "but if she gave a note to the Innkeeper about this stable matter, I am sure she will come around very soon," Madi finished.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 2:29 PM December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 12-14-2003, 07:19 AM   #252
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The late afternoon sun shone fiercely through the latticed windows, now cleaned and sparkling from the labours of the new cleaning maid Sigrid. The brightness was the first thing which the Innkeeper had noticed when she returned to the Inn, and it gave her a sense that she had chosen well with this new girl. Bethberry had also observed the sombreness of the young girl Eruvalde, who sat solemnly listening to the fiddler's music. Now, the Innkeeper was deep in conversation with Aylwen and Talan.

"There's a strong Gondorian soldier who I know who will help us rebuild," Aylwen confided. "His name is Hisimé.

Bethberry nodded. "Good, and we've several others. Talan, I would like to ask you to oversee the work, coordinating the workers while Aylwen plans the activities. We will have first to remove all the old structure, saving what wood remains for our great fireplaces. But first I would like you to see to the removal of the horses' bodies, and burial. Can you do that, Talan?"

Before he could reply, another young man coughed and hesitantly came up to the Innkeeper.

"Excuse me, ma'am, I am Olav by name and I worked with my cousin who was on the roof to put out the hot sparks which landed on the Inn. I handed him the buckets. But I see you will be needing more help. My cousin and I are passing through but I would like to stay."

The Innkeeper turned to him and saw, behind him, a dark haired man whose demeanour was less anxious to please, far more independent, but still raffishly charming. There was something about his eyes that caught her attention and she paused before replying to his cousin.

"Aylwen has told me you both were instrumental in containing the fire and also that you helped the young woman Sigrid. We are very indebted for your quick thinking and hard work."

Olav nodded his thanks.

"Yet you only seek work?"

"For now, yes, ma'am."

Bethberry wasn't surprised. The two cousins had a different air about them and she remembered seeing them in a spirited talk earlier, as if in disagreement. She hired Olav and introduced him to Talan and Aylwen, leaving them to talk while she sought out Froma.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:47 AM December 19, 2003: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 12-14-2003, 12:34 PM   #253
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Sting

Gerdwyn sat outside looking into the sky. She had a hard life, filled with lots of sadness but lots of happiness too. Gerdwyn looked at the empty space in the garden. The space used to be filled with toys and books and on the odd occasion a little picnic basket. Gerdwyn was used to sitting outside watching the children play with each other. The house was cold and lonely and it had been for a while. It had been a silent house no more sounds of laughter and squeals of delight or the patter of running feet just silence. Gerdwyn loved raising her children, she had spent years looking after them. Thy were older now each one married and busy with there own lives some with children others working hard. Gerdwyn hated watching her children grow up so fast; she hated watching them leave the home. Gerdwyn was sad when her children had left but still had the company of her husband; he was a good man and cared for Gerdwyn. But now even her husband is gone, left to rest in his grave. He grew sick and died leaving Gerdwyn all alone with no one to talk to. Gerdwyn did have many friends but the company of friends only lasts a while and it didn’t fill that empty space.

Gerdwyn got up to pour another cup of tea and put another cake in the oven. She enjoyed cooking; it took up her time and kept her distracted from her lonely thoughts. She made delicious dishes such as stews, vegetable dishes and cakes. Many of her recipes had been passed down the family and her mother and grandmother had taught her how to cook, making Gerdwyn one of the best. Gerdwyn often thought of getting a job as a cook or maybe even an assistant but she never had the courage to go into the town and look for a job. She had spent most of her life indoors with the children and cleaning and cooking so she didn’t know much about the village and the people in it. Her eldest daughter Loria had often tried to persuade her mom to get a job in the village. But Gerdwyn said she was happy at home relaxing and she didn’t need the money, she could grow her own food and make her own things. But lately Gerdwyn was having second thoughts. A job would let her meet new people and let her have a social life. It would also keep her busy so she wouldn’t have to stay in a lonely home all day.

Gerdwyn finished her cup of tea and made up her mind. She got ready and put on a lovely green dress. Gerdwyn had a plump, round figure and chubby, rosy cheeks. Her eyes were a deep blue and her hair was brown and the grey was starting to show. She wasn’t very old but the lines on her face showed she had lived a hard life. Gerdwyn clipped her hair back and washed her hands. She was going to head to the White Horse Inn because she had heard they were looking for people and had jobs to offer and rumours had it that her old friend Froma the cook had retired. It would be good if the rumours were true but if not she could always take a job as a scullery maid, anything to keep her busy.

Gerdwyn closed the door and had a look at her house “I need someone to fix that broken window frame” she said to herself. She set off to The White Horse Inn, it wasn’t far off but it was a good walk. Gerdwyn arrived at the Inn and hesitated and took a step back what if I am not good enough or the job is taken she questioned herself. A young man opened the doors and held them open for her and with a sigh she entered the Inn. It was a busy place but it was happy and had a warm atmosphere. She took a few steps more and looked around at all the happenings and all the people around. She looked around at the walls and windows and she liked the comfortable look. A black chalk board captured her eye and she walked towards it and stood very close to read it, she had forgotten her glasses on the fire place mantel at her home. She squinted a bit and placed her finger on the board so she could follow and there she read:

Wanted: Many Hands
To rebuild the stable:
Foresters and lumberers (to provide lumber)
Architects and artists (to design plans)
Carpenters
Roofers
To serve in The Horse:
Cook (Froma is leaving)

Gerdwyn gasped “aha cook! And the rumours were true, Froma is leaving!” She thought for a second and wondered why Froma was leaving, she did enjoy some good gossip! She read on to see how she could apply for the job “Please apply to the Innkeeper, Bethberry, stating experience. Wages: Room and Board, with additional sums as befits level of work and skill.” She read out loud to herself. She looked around wondering who is this Bethberry.
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Old 12-14-2003, 01:35 PM   #254
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Sting

Tamurilo

Coming back to the common room, the first thing Tamurilo did was look around for his daughter. He hoped she hadn't gotten into too much trouble...

His concerned expression melted into a smile when he spotted Eruvalde, sitting quietly and paying rapt attention to a fiddler. Her big eyes were fixed on the bow, and she was perfectly still--a bit of an oddity, for Ru. He decided not to disturb her.

As he wandered around the common room he noticed an older woman--not elderly, but decidedly worn by her life--looking a bit lost. She turned around, not looking at him, and he stepped up to her, bowing slightly. "Is there something I can help you with, ma'am?" he asked...
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Old 12-15-2003, 12:36 AM   #255
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I wandered disconsolately about the common room, my mind listless. Faran had disappeared like winter’s ice and I could not find him. I suppose I could have sniffed him out, hunted him as a mouse, but I knew that his business was probably not worth my time. Yet I was annoyed: he had left me alone in a strange place, where people milled unaware of where they placed their ponderous feet. Stupid humans. At least Faran always watched where they went.

Deciding to place myself in a conspicuous spot, I picked the place where the chalkboard humbly stood, bearing it’s messages of need. I glided like a golden sunbeam to the board and sat down, wrapping my tail around my paws.

A plump woman with a green dress walked up and read the chalk board (that board should be happy that it gets so much attention) and she reminded me of plum pudding -- only green. I narrowed my golden eyes at her and considered her:

She seemed like the matronly sort of type: frost iced her ambered hair, liquid sapphires served as eyes, lines etched her face and a shadow of sadness lingered upon her mien. I purred softly and prepared to charm her heart.

But then another advanced offering to help her. I shrugged. I could stalk them, then win her over so that she would give me her everlasting devotion. No one could ever replace Faran, but it never hurt to have too many friends. And it was great fun to win the girls.
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Old 12-15-2003, 07:57 AM   #256
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Sting

Lathyn stood in the doorway between her parents' room and the kitchen. Unnoticed for the moment, the small girl stared at her mother's sweat-drenched face in fear. Maedlyn's normally serene countanence was drawn taught with pain as her daughter looked on. Memories of the last time were starting to pool in Lathyn's head as the anxiety slowly drained from her mother's face and was replaced with a tired smile.

"Getting stronger, Lairwyn. That was a fierce one."

"Aye, but still too far apart. Can you manage another walk? We should try to hasten this babe's arrival."

Lathyn saw her mother struggle to sit up and ran to her side to help her.

"Ahh, my good girl, so helpful. Thank you, Lathyn. Soon you will have a new brother or sister, and you will be an ever bigger help."

Lathyn smiled at her mother, but felt tears coming anyway. She shamefully wiped them away, wanting to be strong for her mother, but it was so hard to see her like this. She was used to her parents being invulnerable, always there to chase away the imaginary orcs or swing her up for a quick hug. It scared her to see her mother suffering.

The midwife was helping Maedlyn to her feet when she glanced down at the girl fighting back tears. Lathyn had been helpful, but the process of childbirth was long and emotional, doubly so for a child. As the two women made a slow course around the room, Lairwyn caught Lathyn's eye and smiled.

"You know, Lathyn, I think your pa would like an update. Menfolk aren't usually allowed in the birth room, so I know he'd love to get some news from you. Go find him and tell him that things are moving along slowly, but steadily. Tell him your ma is brave and strong, and doing just fine, okay?"

The girl sniffed and nodded, pleased to have an important task to do. She ran to the front door and found her father outside, pacing and trying to carve something in between his rounds of walking. He quickly turned to face his daughter, and Lathyn could see that he was worried too. She didn't know whether to be glad that she wasn't being foolish, or scared that even her strong papa was concerned.

"Oh, Papa!" she said, and let herself start crying again.

"What's wrong, Lathyn?" he asked anxiously. "Is there something the matter inside?"

"Oh," she sniffed, "no. Miss Lairwyn told me to tell you that things are slow but good and Mama is being real strong."

She could see her father relax a bit, and he stooped to hug her and then he picked her up and sat with her on his lap.

"Oh, I'm glad. Lairwyn's not one to lie, even to spare feelings, so things must be going pretty well." He pulled his daughter into a tighter hug and they sat for a while in silence as the air grew cooler. "It's hard to see your ma in pain, I know. It's especially hard for us because we love her and can't do much to help her, right?"

Lathyn nodded slowly, glad to be understood. She had been thinking of the last time her mother had been in labor. Several years ago now, the memories were pretty blurry in the young girl's mind. She hadn't been allowed in the room with her mother then, that she knew. No matter how bad it was to see Ma in pain, it was worse last time when she didn't understand what was going on. She remembered the sharp smells, the muffled sounds of pain, and the sadness when the baby didn't make it. It had been winter then, and she had kept busy gathering sticks to throw in the hearth.

"I was such a baby then," she thought.

"I'm glad I can help Mama this time," she said to Aldhelm, who was still holding her tightly. "But it's still kind of scary."

"Yes, it is, and it's ok to be scared when people we love are hurting. Soon, though, we will have someone new in the family. You've never really spent much time with babies, Lathyn, but they are so much fun. They do the funniest things, you'll see. They are a lot of work, too, but you will be surprised at how much you can love your new brother or sister. You'll have someone who will always look up to you."

"What if you and Mama like him more than me?"

"That will never happen. The baby will need a lot of attention, but no one can take the place of my little flower!" With that he stood up and swung her in the air until she squealed happily.

Back on her feet, breathless, she laughed and wanted to ask her father for another turn. Just then however, she heard her mother cry out.

"I should go in, Papa," she panted out hastily and ran for the door again. She looked back and saw that the worry was back in his eyes. Impulsively, she darted back to his side and gave him a quick hug before slipping inside.
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Old 12-16-2003, 11:18 AM   #257
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Sting

Talan listened to Bethberry, and was surprised at what she offered him. He had no experience with such things, and he felt the old urge of running from responsibility.

He remembered Faran's promise, though, and pondered quickly; if the carpenter could ensure whether the buildings built were stable, then the primary part of his job was done. Besides that, it was a matter of keeping people busy, making sure there were the people with the skills needed, as well as tools and such.

"I accept, innkeeper, I'll make sure them workers get some work done. Is there anything specific you want me to do, or take care of?" Talan said to Bethberry, and gave her a nod as to promise to do his best.

He knew that afterwards he would have to discuss this with Faran, and make sure the carpenter would help him. With his inexperience, Talan would need help. He also thought of the first thing that had to be done; the area needed to be cleaned of the ruins left from the fire, and then wood and tools would have to be secured. When that was done, Talan would discuss building plans with Faran.
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Old 12-17-2003, 05:41 PM   #258
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Sting

The long hours passed slowly and Lairwyn tried her best to comfort Maedlyn as her birthing pains became more intense and more frequent until they ran together ceasing to give the mother a break. The day was setting into early evening and the midwife checked Maedlyn’s progress once more. A sparkle appeared in Lairwyn’s eyes and as she began to situate the extra linens Lathyn had found, she said simply, “It’s time.”

Lathyn, who had been sitting next to the bed holding her mother’s hand, widened her eyes and looked uncertainly at the midwife. “For the baby, Miss Lairwyn? Is it really time?”

Lairwyn slightly chuckled and assured the young girl that it was indeed time for the baby. “Maedlyn, if I support your back, can you raise up long enough for Lathyn to slip a pillow behind you? You will need to sit higher to ease the passage of the babe.” Maedlyn nodded with her face knotted with pain. “Just tell me when.” Lairwyn did not want to force any movement that might increase the mother’s intense discomfort. Maedlyn relaxed slightly and the midwife lifted her slowly until another pillow was securely in place.

“Lathyn, dear, why don’t you go out and tell your father that the baby is coming and everything is proceeding as normal.” The little girl stood up and, after a long glance at her mother, she hurried out of the room.

Lairwyn waited until she heard the outside door latch and then she instructed Maedlyn to begin pushing when she felt the pressure in her abdomen increase. Lairwyn guided Maedlyn through the next forty-five minutes, until finally the baby’s head could be seen.

Suddenly catching her breath, Lairwyn made an unexpected and troubling discovery. The cord was wrapped around the child’s neck. Maedlyn could see the distress in the midwife’s face and nervously asked if there was problem. Lairwyn silently shook her head, not wanting to alarm Maedlyn. Slowly, carefully, Lairwyn slid her fingers between the cord and the babe’s neck and pulled the cord over the child’s head. She could not be sure the baby was unharmed until Maedlyn finished which only took a few more minutes, and the baby had finally arrived in the world.

“You have a beautiful baby boy, Maedlyn.” There was no question as to the health of the baby…he was squirming like a worm and crying in less than a minute. Lairwyn wrapped him in a warm blanket and placed him on his mother’s chest.

The outer door opened immediately and Lairwyn could hear hurried footsteps coming toward the back of the house.
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Old 12-19-2003, 09:08 AM   #259
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There was so much to do and Bethberry was becoming weary with it all. As soon as she had finished her talk with Talan--and with what relief she had heard him accept the extra responsibility!--Tamurilo came up to her and introduced a plump, middle-aged woman, Gerdwyn. Bethberry knew of her recent loss--Edoras was a small town and almost everyone was known to all--but was surprised to see the woman here, since she usually shunned the Inns and taverns.

"Well, I'll be off to give my daughter some attention," the man suggested, as he left the two women to talk.

"Gerdwyn, I'm sorry about your loss. You are yet young to be so bereaved."

The woman nodded, hesitantly. She was clearly unaccustomed to public places, a woman more comfortable in the private domestic life, but there was also something about her whick suggested a yearning.

"I notice you need a cook, with Froma leaving."

"Yes, he has worked long years here, even before I arrived, and wants to relax a bit, although I doubt he will be happy with days without work."

Gerdwyn took a deep breath. "What might you be looking for in a cook?"

Bethberry smiled. She saw an older woman who had devoted her life to her family and who now was making a small move towards establishing a life of her own.

"Someone who feels at home in a kitchen, who can plan and organize and supervise younger help, and who doesn't mind long hours."

"That might describe me."

Bethberry nodded. "I thought it might. Come, let us find Froma and talk with him. He will give you some of the specifics of running the kitchen and you can prove yourself to him. If he accepts you, I trust his judgement."

The two women strode off to the kitchen in search of the crusty old fellow. Gerdwyn's hands made nervous fists and she licked her lips, but she felt a tinge of excitement.
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Old 12-19-2003, 01:27 PM   #260
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Liornung and Maercwen with Eruvalde

Liornung finished his song and, setting his fiddle down, applauded heartily for Maercwen, who gave a little curtsy. He had enjoyed her singing immensely, and as much showed on his beaming face. He took up his fiddle again and was about to strike up another tune when his sharp eyes caught a little girl sitting some ways away, apparently listening. She glanced up and, seeing that Liornung was looking at her, stood up and took a few steps back.

"No, no!" Liornung said, holding up his hand. "Please, my girl, don't go. If you enjoy the music, well then, come and sit down." He smiled encouragingly at her. The girl hesitated a few moments more, as though she wondered if he really meant it, and then with shining eyes she moved closer. Liornung gestured for her to sit down next to Maercwen and studied her carefully for a few moments. "You do look like one of this land," he said at last, "yet you also look as though you are of Gondor." He winked at Leofan. "And, indeed, shouldn't I know? I've been there once or twice."

"What's your name?" Maercwen asked without the least hesitation, looking upon the girl with a studious yet friendly eye.

"Eruvalde," the girl replied. "But my father and Momma call me Ru."

"And would you have any objections if I called you the same?" Liornung questioned. "I do think it is more enjoyable to find out what dear friends and relatives call people rather than what their real names are." He scowled at Leofan ferociously. "He had an annoying habit of calling me by my real name, though I much prefer Liornung. However, I must forgive him because he didn't know I had changed my name until just recently."

Eruvalde did not seem in the least disturbed with Liornung's explanations and ramblings about his own name and answered his question quite promptly. "You may call me Ru," she said. "I don't mind."

Liornung gave a nod of satisfaction and turned to Frodides, holding up his empty plate. "I hope I would not be troubling you too much, my dear, to ask if I might have more? I haven't had such a good meal in a long while." Frodides took his plate without the least hesitation and hurried off towards the Inn. Liornung heaved a long sigh. "You know, Leofan, that sometimes I don't get any food at all. It all depends on how much my music is appreciated."

"Are you staying here, my girl?" Leofan asked, his question directed at Eruvalde.

"I don't know," the girl replied. "My father said we were going to Momma, but I think maybe Momma will meet us here."

"Either way it should be absolutely fine," Liornung said, "as long as you find your mother. I haven't seen my mother for a long time. I want to visit her sometime soon, though, if only I can find the time. Pity she doesn't live here. Haven't seen my father, either. Have you seen them recently, Leofan?"

Leofan shook his head. "Not recently. My family visited them when Maecrwen was a small baby, but that was three years ago. I'd like to see them again, as well. Perhaps we can invite them to come here sometime. They would enjoy it, I think." He glanced towards the Inn and a fond smile came to his face when he saw Frodides walking across the grass towards them, her hair tossed playfully about by a soft breeze. "They love Frodides just as she was their daughter," he said.

"Well, she is, in a way," Liornung replied. He got to his feet and went to meet Frodides, taking the food with a little bow of thanks. The little group sat themselves in a circle, Eruvalde next to Maecrwen, who was talking on about all sorts of things, and Liornung set to his food with great eagerness.

"When I was inside Bethberry, the Innkeeper, asked me about you, Liornung," Frodides said. "She wondered if you would consider working here."

"Here at the Inn?"

"Yes. She told me a fiddler would be of great use to attract more customers."

"Oh." Liornung set down his plate for a moment and looked up at the sky. His fingers ran over his fiddle in a musing manner, and he tapped his foot. "Apologies!" he cried suddenly. "I must admit I wasn't even considering the question at hand. I was composing a little tune in my head. Perhaps I can play it for you tonight?" He ran his fingers through his hair. "Yes, well, about working here... I suppose I could do it for a time, but you must understand it can't be a permanent job. You see, as soon as that wilderness out there calls me to go exploring and rambling, I'll have to go. I can't live long without it. But for now, I think a job here would be quite nice." He picked up his fiddle and struck up a merry tune that had no particular flow, obviously one he was creating as he went along. Almost immediately he stopped, though. Picking up his plate, he said, "Food first. I've very hungry."
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Old 12-19-2003, 04:30 PM   #261
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Eruvalde and Maercwen

Eruvalde fiddled with her curly hair as she listened to Maercwen talk, fidgeting a little bit excitedly. Back at home, she almost never got to talk to other children her age; her parents kept her home a lot.

Out of her peripheral vision she noticed her father walking over to her, and with a brief but fierce little look she told him to stay away. She wouldn't have him fussing and making over her in front of her new friend, and he never did anything but that. Ever since they left home, he did nothing but worry: about her, about Momma, about their house and their land and their animals. She didn't really understand what was going on, but as of right now it didn't matter to her; they were safe and warm, and her father told her that her momma would be there soon, so there was nothing to worry about. But her father worried anyway, and fussed over her so terribly that he embarrassed her.

She turned back to Maercwen and listened raptly to the other girl talk. "Are you from Rohan?" Eruvalde asked. "My Momma's from Rohan, but my Papa's from Gondor. Momma's going to meet us here, and then we'll go to her old house. Do you have a house here in Rohan?"

***

Tamurilo

Tamurilo stopped short at a particularly pointed glare from his young daughter, grinning despite himself. Her dark brown eyes narrowed threateningly before she turned back to the young girl she was talking with.

He laughed under his breath as he went outside for some air. Children...
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Old 12-20-2003, 03:43 PM   #262
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So Idona was gone. Faran sighed and wondered what he would do while he waited for her. Talan had departed when the Innkeeper had wished to speak to him and Faran vaguely wondered what she wanted him to do. He shook his head: he now had two students to teach his humble craft to. He smiled: Sigrid and Talan would be fun to teach.

Making his way to the ruins of the stable, he kicked the smoldering wood around, avoiding the carcasses of the animals. Either he was getting used to the stench of death, or else the reek at drifted to other places for he could no longer smell anything.

“I wonder where Goldwine is,” he said softly looking around. “Goldwine!” he called. “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty! Goldwine!” After peering around some of the bushes he said, “He must still be in the Inn.”

He was just about to go back and look for him when a voice cried, “Faran!”

Turning, the carpenter saw that Talan was walking briskly toward him; excitement lit his face and his eyes glowed. “Yes?” Faran asked with a smile.

“Bethberry has put me in charge of overseeing the work being done and making sure that people do their work an’ such. I was just wonderin’ if ye would help me.”

“Of course I’ll help you,” Faran said. “Oh yes, and Idona isn’t here right now, but she should be coming back, or so the boy Madi told me. When she returns, we’ll get together and see if we can come up with a decent plan for a new stable.”
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Old 12-21-2003, 08:09 AM   #263
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Talan nodded at Faran's last words. "I am glad ye'll help me. I reckon when we get that plan, we'll need to find out how much lumber we'll need, and what tools as well. And of course if we have the craftsman to do the different parts of the job. With those things dealt with, we can go on with building this here stable."

Talan stood for a few minutes, pondering why Bethberry had put him in charge of this. He had no experience, and before he had come to the White Horse he had been a boy living on the street. But he had to admit it felt good to be receive such trust and responsibility. He made a promise to ensure these stables would be worthy of the Inn.

"I can feel me stomach needs feelin'," Talan said to Faran. "I know you just had some, so I don't expect ye to join me. If you need me I'll be in the Common Room; although things are quiet for the time being, me job is originally to be a bouncer and make sure people behave. I guess it is time to start doing something for me pay."

With that Talan walked back into the inn and entered the Common Room. He walked back into the kitchen and found himself some fruit, and some pie that had been half-eaten and was not entirely fresh anymore.
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Old 12-23-2003, 10:33 AM   #264
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Bethberry soon found that her part was to play the observer. She watched Froma and Gerdwyn talk. At first the man patonized the older woman but she held her own. Her love of cooking gave her confidence where her timidity at first had made her hesitant. Slowly she began to question Froma about weights and measures and quantities and puddings and stews and ragouts and pasties and syllabubs. When he began to grunt his replies, Bethberry knew he had met his match in the kitchen. Likely he would ask her to return the next day, working with him in the kitchen for a week or so while she learnt how his kitchen was organized. She tip-toed out, wanting nothing so much as a quiet bit of time to review the Inn's finances and consider how to pay for the new stable.

~ ~ ~ ~

She put down her quill, the page dried, and closed the book. It would be costly. They would have to draw in many more patrons. Off in the distance she heard the last notes from Liornung. Perhaps entertainment, once or twice a week would draw more to the Horse. She closed her eyes, thinking of how she could hire the street performers, perhaps to give a comedy or two, in addition to the music. She leant over on her elbow and nodded off to sleep...

"Silly Berry, sleeping." A nudge displaced her elbow and her head fell to the desk, luckily pillowed somewhat by the leather bound book in front of her.

"Pufft," the Innkeeper with surprise. "Aren't you being pleasant, Madi."

"Madi doesn't feel pleasant. And why should he? Today Madi learnt that fathers are not pleasant. And stable fires aren't either." The little man sat down on the bench beside the Innkeeper's desk and looked up at her.
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Old 12-23-2003, 07:42 PM   #265
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While the nap had been too short to provide much real rest, Bethberry nonetheless felt the stress and strain caused by the day’s events recede. True, the White Horse Inn had lost an important building. True, the Inn would take a serious financial beating in the following days and weeks while a new stable was constructed. But the inn was still standing, and while there were four walls and a roof there was still hope. Despite his somewhat serious introduction, Madi proved both friendly and a little humorous. For the moment, it seemed like the world had stabilized.

Reality came knocking hard on the wooden door. Something struck the wood twice before an overly loud voice inquired, “Is there a lady named Bethberry here? The cook downstairs said I could find you here. I’m afraid I have some…matters…to discuss with you.”

Bethberry groaned before quickly organizing her writing implements. She ventured to hope that the new interruption had some good news. Madi, on the hand, simply yawned and shifted position on the bench. After all, why worry yourself over a unpredictable and capricious future? Depositing the book back to its proper resting place, Bethberry addressed the new visitor. “Do come in.”

Azaziel Danwedh gently nudged the door open before smoothly slipping through the resulting crack. For the most part, he seemed like a short but otherwise completely normal man. He smoothed back a unruly lock of brown hair with his left hand before leaning an usually shaped package against the wall next to the door. It remotely resembled a walking stick with some of large object on the top, but a layer of white cloth precluded any further deductions. Despite the gradually warming weather, the new arrival still wore a worn green cloak that only partially masked the insignia on the front of his black shirt that declared his allegiance to Gondor.

He grimaced slightly before introducing himself in a slightly quieter voice. It seemed that Azaziel was incapable of communicating in a quite voice. “I apologize deeply for my sudden appearance, sir and ma’am. My name is Azaziel Danwedh. One of the local officials, Counselor Hasin, has requested that I present him with my professional opinion of any new stable that you wish to build.”

“And what profession would that be,” inquired the innkeeper, “and what does the esteemed Counselor have to do with this?”

Azaziel shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. He was clearly not enjoying the conversation very much. But at the very least she deserved some answer. “I specialized in the construction of buildings and…other…structures in Gondor. My superior in your wonderful city of Edoras asked me to do a favor for one of his local friends. From my conversation with the Counselor, it seems that he is concerned about the safety of the district after the fire in the stable. He wishes that I examine any blueprints and plans as well as the building during construction.”

This was definitely a bad way to meet his neighbors.
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:40 AM   #266
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Gerdwyn walked into the kitchen and with her quivering hands she put on an apron and straitened it out. She looked up at Froma and smiled anxiously.
“I am Froma, it’s pleasant to meet with you” he said in a sturdy, deep voice.
Gerdwyn stood just looking at Froma, Bethberry nudged Gerdwyn.
“Oh I am Gerdwyn” she said sheepishly.
Froma handed Gerdwyn a wooden spoon and told her to make a vegetable stew. Gerdwyn smiled, a sudden flow of confidence came over her. She made the best vegetables stews, or so her family used to tell her. She chopped the vegetables up and put them in a pot. Froma watched carefully and frowned “No! What about the cup of water?” Froma complained.
“Oh, trust me on this one! It cooks in its own juices making it tastier.”

Froma and Gerdwyn spent hours in the kitchen debating with each other. Froma had the same characteristics as Gerdwyn. They both loved to debate and be challenged by other people. Froma and Gerdwyn enjoyed each others company. In a few hours both of them had learnt so much more about cooking than they had expected to and what they had learnt was indeed useful information. By the end of the day Gerdwyn knew where the spices and herbs were kept and how and where everything was kept in the kitchen.

Froma held his back and groaned. Gerdwyn could see Froma was in pain and with that she pulled out a wooden chair and sat him down. “Let me make you some tea and get that cake we made out of the oven!” Gerdwyn said. She boiled water and made the tea and took the cake out of the oven. Gerdwyn looked up and realised Bethberry was gone and chuckled to herself. She sat down and placed the tea and cake on the table. Froma and Gerdwyn sat and spoke even though she did most of the talking. Which of course is only natural for Gerdwyn.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 4:24 AM December 28, 2003: Message edited by: Niluial ]
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Old 12-27-2003, 03:55 PM   #267
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"I've been working here for some time," Iona responded. "Not as long as many others, though, and I'm still not feeling entirely settled in. Are you enjoying working here?"

"Yes, it seems like a friendly enough place." Sigrid smiled. A call from the kitchen caused both girls to turn and look towards the direction of the shout, and Iona sighed.

"I'm wanted in the kitchen - they must be able to tell when I'm not working hard enough!" Iona giggled, and picked up her empty tray. "I'll speak to you later, when it's quietened down a bit? I'd love to get to know you better!" Tossing her long pigtails behind her, she hastened off to the kitchen to discover the reason behind the call.

Seeing several bits of broken crockery on the floor, and a teetering pile of dishes on the table beside it, Iona bit her lip. She really had meant to go back and put them in a safter place, but her mind had run away with her, and now it had caught up with her. Shooting a sweet smile at the irate cook, she mouthed a quick 'sorry' and knelt on the ground with dustpan and brush to sweep up the broken shards. Inwardly, she berated herself for not being more careful - this kind of thing was what had lost her her last job - but at least it was more easy going and friendly here at the White Horse.

She really needed to make more friends here, though. She'd been here some time, but had established no real friends, and had begun feeling homesick recently. She told nothing of it in her news home, knowing it would do little but fret her mother, who doted on Iona. She smiled a little, thinking that she might have found a new friend in the serving girl, Sigrid. She was new, and would surely be looking for someone to talk to.
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Old 12-28-2003, 04:25 PM   #268
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Goldwine, Prince of Cats

Like a golden shadow gilding in their wake, I followed the woman who’s appellation appeared to be Gerdwyn and who also seemed to be the heir of the strange realm called kitchen. I was well acquainted with that kingdom: ‘twas the place where the meats dwelt.

After a quick surveillance of the room, I immediately saw an empty corner amid the clutter of the concaved and valleyed pottery, claimed it and christened it as my throne from henceforth. With my domineering eye, my hind appendage curled tightly about my white flecked paws, I oversaw the doing of the kitchen. Crushed leaves of flavor drenched the walls as a fragrant balm, the silver glimmer of a silver sharpness attached to a plank of wood, amputated vegetables of green and silver hues while their mutilated forms were poured with unrepentant ceremony into a pot and a knew they sank to their inevitable doom, the final fate of which would be met in human’s gut. A sigh escaped me, but yet a certain joy flooded my trodden spirit: that fate did not await me. A smug grin grew upon my triangular face, a purr rattled within my bones.

The two humans escaped their labours and were now sipping a steamy elixir. With a flair of my tail, I sailed from my golden throne and leaped to Gerdwyn’s feet. Rubbing myself against her supporting limb, I curled my tail about her knee, and renewed my purring with feline vigor. Her hand dropped down to my head, and stroked me. Then I kissed her as only nobility knew how.
*******************
Faran wondered where Sigrid was, but decided instead to start on the stable. Not much wood could be saved, but still it didn’t hurt to start things quickly. Wading into the muck of charred timber, Faran scanned the area for at least some sort of wood that could be salvaged.

Puffs of ash poofed into the air as he stepped. Smiling, he hopped and grinned at the cloud of dust that enveloped him. Biting his lip he tensed his muscles for a giant leap into the air and sprung upwards. Unfortunately, he also jumped forwards and crashed through a precariously balanced bit of wood and fell full length to the ground, drowning in a murky sea of swirling ash. Flailing his arms he coughed and crawled to his feet. Spluttering, he spat the dust out of his mouth and rubbed his ankle with a groan. When would he learn that he was a sensible adult and not a rough and tumbled lad any more?

Soon, there was a mound of unusable wood, and a pitiful pile of short chunks of timber that could be reused. Wiping the rivers of sweat from his forehead with a grimy sleeve, he looked about him and envisioned a grand stable. In his hand he held the nicest piece of wood that he had found as he rummaged through the corpse of the stable: horses sprang from the wood with noble mien and pranced to wars and battles unknown. Yes, that piece must be saved.
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Old 12-28-2003, 05:00 PM   #269
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Froma looked at Gerdwyn who had just finished her tea.
Gerdwyn smiled and said “oh let me make you another cup of tea!”
Froma laughed “you are too kind!”
Gerdwyn made her way to the pot and boiled more water. She stirred the tea well and placed it in front of Froma. Gerdwyn was about to sit down but she jumped as something slithered around her leg. It was a soft, silk that slithered around her leg and to Gerdwyn’s surprise a beautiful cat rubbed itself against her. She had always loved cats. She remembered her old kitten Moristar who she spoke to when alone in her home. Unfortunately Moristar just disappeared one morning and was to never be seen again. Gerdwyn bent down and rubbed the cat and said softly “let me get you some milk!”

The cat sat on the floor right beside Gerdwyn with its tail wrapped around itself while it waited patiently for its treat. Gerdwyn put the bowl of milk on the floor and the cat contently drank from it.
“The cats name is Goldwine, isn’t she beautiful?” Froma asked while holding his up of tea. Gerdwyn nodded and smiled. “She likes to keep me company in the kitchen. I am sure she will do the same for you!” Froma added. Gerdwyn bent down and rubbed the silky cat again. “Well I have to go out to town and get some food for the kitchen. Why don’t you carry on and make a soup and another stew!” Froma said once he stood up. He walked out the door and closed it softly to make sure he didn’t disturb the content Goldwine.

Gerdwyn walked over to the stove and tightened her apron. “I hope I get the job you know Goldwine. I get so fed up and alone at home. At least if I worked here I could keep myself busy cooking in the kitchen and have your lovely company” Gerdwyn said softly to the cat. Goldwine looked at Gerdwyn then she hopped onto the table and lay there watching every move Gerdwyn made. Gerdwyn made a few stews and roasted a chicken and made her delicious pea soup while talking to Goldwine about many things. Goldwine sat on the table cleaning herself while listening to Gerdwyn talk and complain. She placed a bowl of left over meat on the floor for Goldwine and again spoke to her about how Mrs Lipsy’s children destroy her flower beds. Goldwine looked once more at Gerdwyn with a sparkle in her eyes and then put her face in the bowl. Gerdwyn enjoyed the company in the kitchen, it was odd but fun.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 6:01 PM December 28, 2003: Message edited by: Niluial ]
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Old 01-01-2004, 09:44 PM   #270
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Ragnar

As Olav walked away to join the rest of the carpenters inspecting what was left of the inn’s burned stables, Ragnar found himself at loose ends. Looking around, he saw Sigrid with a bucket still standing by the windows where a few minutes earlier she had been busily scrubbing the window panes. As he watched, she finished her conversation with one of the inn’s serving girls and got on with her work. Ragnar sauntered in her direction. He was annoyed with Olav and figured the shortest course to revenge would be to spend a little time getting to know Olav’s would-be girlfriend.

“Haven’t you had enough of buckets and water for one day?” he asked idly, coming up behind her. Sigrid startled and dropped the cloth she had been using to scrub the windows into the bucket.

“Oh!” she exclaimed breathlessly, putting one soapy hand over her heart. “You scared me. I didn’t hear you come up behind me.”

Ragnar laughed. “It’s one of my special talents.”

“You have more than one?” asked Sigrid, giving him a coy, sideways glance.

“I have quite a few, if you must know,” answered Ragnar, leaning one shoulder casually against the wall. “But you still didn’t answer my question - if you haven’t had enough of buckets and water for one day.”

Sigrid smiled. “Well, the truth be known, I have seen quite enough of buckets and water, but Miss Bethberry was kind enough to give me a job, which happened to be washing windows at the moment. So, here I am back in the buckets and water again. I saw you and Olav speaking with her as well. Are you going to be working here now, too?”

Ragnar shook his head. “Not me. Olav has decided to give carpentry a try, but I don’t really have any interest in hiring myself out as a laborer. I have other business in town that I need to be free to attend to.”

“Oh.” Sigrid nodded. “I see. Too high and mighty, are we, to do a bit of honest work?”

Annoyed, Ragnar hesitated, trying to decide whether to cut her off at the knees verbally or just to let the jibe pass, when he noticed the mischievous twinkle in her blue eyes. He grinned. “Much too high and mighty,” he answered gravely, playing along with her tease. “As if you needed to ask.”

Sigrid chuckled merrily and tried to return to her work, but Ragnar caught her hand.

“Now that you work here, I hope you won’t be too busy to spend a few minutes here and there with the guests,” he said with his most engaging smile. “I would hate to think that by not becoming a carpenter, I have removed myself from your society. Or that of your friend,” he added on an afterthought, nodding in the direction of the kitchen where the serving girl Sigrid had been speaking to a moment earlier had gone just before he walked up. Very similar in appearance to Sigrid, Ragnar had noticed that she was a very pretty girl as well. Worth remembering, at any rate.

Sigrid smiled and withdrew her hand. “I can’t speak for Iona,” she answered lightly. “But I would be delighted to spend a little time getting acquainted with you. When I’m not working, of course.”

“Of course,” echoed Ragnar. He watched as she fished her soapy rag out of the bucket on the floor and attacked a new sooty window pane. “When do you finish your shift?”

Sigrid paused, soapy rag in hand, a slight blush rising in her cheeks. “You know,” she said quietly. “I don’t rightly know! I was so grateful to get the work that I didn’t think to ask, but I’m sure I will be seeing you around the inn later.”

“I’m sure you will,” answered Ragnar, pushing himself away from the wall against which he had been leaning. “Perhaps if you’re not too busy, we could get a bite to eat later.”

Sigrid nodded enthusiastically. “That would be lovely! Although, after that luncheon, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be hungry again...”

Ragnar laughed and made plans to check back with her closer to the dinner hour. Then, taking his leave of her, he turned and walked out to the courtyard. He could see Olav poking around the charred ruins of the stable with the other carpenters, but made no effort to join them. Instead, he took a course past them and into the street. He intended first to drop by the blacksmith’s shop where he had left his and Olav’s horses earlier in the day to be re-shoed. He needed both to check on the horses and to see if the smith could afford to keep them there for a few extra days until he could arrange some other accommodation what with the inn’s stables having burned. He had also left his and Olav’s belongings and weapons with the smith, which he would need to retrieve right away. He hated to be parted from his sword for any length of time, but it had needed sharpening and the smith had offered to do it for him, so there it had remained. It was high time he got it back. Olav didn’t seem to mind running about unarmed, but Ragnar didn’t care for it at all. He hated the feeling of vulnerability.

Once he finished at the blacksmith’s, there was another appointment he needed to keep as well before meeting Sigrid for dinner. That meeting would take place across town in the weaver’s shop... the backroom of the weaver’s shop to be precise. As the weaver and Ragnar’s associate were mutual friends, it seemed the most likely place for them to rendezvous, where they could converse without being seen or overheard.
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Old 01-03-2004, 02:46 PM   #271
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Bethberry masked her surprise well. She observed Azaziel Danwedh with a serene look of aplomb and composure as her mind raced trying to figure out this strange new situation and how best to comply with it.

The Golden Hall had not previously taken any interest in the legitimate affairs of the citizens of Edoras. Indeed, they had been free to work and live without the burdens and encumbrances of lordly ways and tributes. Yet these were not ordinary times and a dark unease had been growing over all aspects of life in Edoras. Bethberry wondered what changes were afoot in Theoden's realm that counsellors should take such a petty interest in the citizen's private affairs.

She looked at the man's face, noted his discomfort, and decided the first tactic would be to put him more at ease so he could explain the situation more clearly to her.


"I see," she replied to the Gondorian. "Shall we discuss this matter over some coffee or perhaps a light repast would be more amenable? Counsellor Hasin has always been a strong supporter of the Edoras community and I am sure he has the finest intentions here."

Calmly but with a deliberate manner, she quided Danuedh to a table, caught Sigrid's eyes, and asked her to request a light lunch be brought to their table. The Innkeeper then sat down, with a gracious smile, and asked the man what brought him to Edoras and great skills he was offering to Counsellor Hasin.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:58 AM January 14, 2004: Message edited by: Bęthberry ]
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Old 01-03-2004, 06:46 PM   #272
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Goldwine, Prince of Cats

I listened with delectation to the human of the female persuasion’s unwaning, separate conversation. I did not deign to respond to her various tormented, damsel-like distress for the precise reason because their speech is strange to me. Is it not enough that I grace her domain with my kingly aura?

The woman did commit the gruesome fault of referring to me as a she, though how one could make such an atrocious mistake, is rather beyond me. It mattered not, however: the revelation of the truth would strike her soon enough, I hoped.

Gerdwyn was a splendidly marvelous cook and the muscle she served me was deliciously soft and tender, not tendons entangled themselves with succulent meat, and just the slightest tint of smoke pervaded the flavour. ‘Twas better than a mangy rodent that dwelt in the golden fields of men.

With a final lick of the lips, I gathered my muscles for a might leap, and landed upon the woman’s shoulders. A little gasp escaped her and her hand crept up and stroked my luscious coat. I settle smugly: I had won her and she was yet another comrade to add to the growing list.
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Old 01-04-2004, 04:22 PM   #273
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Aylwen looked out the window of the White Horse common room, sighing as darkness began to envelope the Inn. Dinner was being served, ales were being distributed and redistributed, and children began to whine with sleepiness. It had been a busy day, by anyone’s standards. The rebuilding of the stables would begin tomorrow, and Aylwen was anxious to have everything back to normal, stables intact. That was not the only thing Aylwen was anxious for, however. She had visitors coming from Gondor sometime tomorrow. Turning away from the window Aylwen smiled and went back to helping the maids and servers dole out ale and other drinks.

As she worked Aylwen contemplated ways to bring in more customers. Building a new stable would be very costly, even with all the volunteer builders who wanted naught but a job to do or a room in which to sleep. The Horse had musicians a few nights a week, but that did not bring in enough paying customers to be able to sustain the Horse through the time it would take to rebuild the stable. Entertainers might work, but how would they be any different than the musicians? The planned-for school, while they knew it would be free of cost for the children, might bring in more nighttime customers, perhaps to speak with the teachers? Aylwen wasn’t sure. How did other Inns become the hive of the town? Aylwen wondered how rough the times ahead would be.

The nightly customers began filing out as the moon became clear in the sky, and carpenters and builders who had rooms began going of to sleep. There were still some folk sitting around their tables, but they soon cleared out with a last gulp of their spirits and went on to bed or went off to their homes and families. Soon, all was quiet in the Inn save for the bustling of the few maids as they cleared and washed tables for the night. Aylwen sighed and sat down at one of the freshly cleaned tables and rested her head on her palms, propped up by her elbows on the table. Her mind raced, thinking of ideas to bring in money, thinking of what had happened that day and how the new stable would be much better, thinking of her guests arriving the next day. Aylwen had almost fallen asleep at the table when her elbows slipped and her head hit her forearm as it braced onto the table. Glad that no one was around to see her in such a tired, sorry state, Aylwen stood from her seat and trudged to her room for a good night’s rest before another morning at the White Horse Inn.

The next morning, Aylwen awoke to the bright sunlight streaming through her window. The night had been a warm one, and Aylwen had left the window open for any breeze to enter and cool the room. Aylwen made her bed and closed the window, squinting and blinking in the bright light. Then she dressed for a new day, the day that they would begin to plan and rebuild the stables. As she left her room Aylwen smiled, ready to help replace what had been lost the day before.

--

The notes of the panpipes were light and merry, the song was jovial and cheerful, and the woman blowing the lovely notes mirrored the tune. Each pipe had a little letter carved into the end, and together the pipe-letters spelled out Kendral. She was middle-aged, looking to be about forty, and creases at the corners of her eyes were beginning to etch deeper and deeper, though the laugh lines around her mouth were more prominent. Her hair was long and black, tied back in a braid that unfortunately enhanced the few streaks of grey but kept the wisps of hair out of her face. Her eyes were dark brown, and were cast down at the panpipes that she was holding to her mouth.

“Mama! You’ve been playing since we left the southlands!” A young man in front of the woman complained, turning around to face her. His eyes were of a darker shade of brown, but his short-cropped, wavy hair matched the ebony color of the woman’s hair. He was tall and lean, for the only visible muscles he had were contained to his arms. He looked to be in his twenties, and his impatience betrayed these years to anyone unsure but unwilling to ask.

“Then it is a good thing that the Inn is just up ahead, Taren,” the woman replied, laughing light-heartedly before going back to playing her tune. Her son rolled his eyes and turned back around to look ahead where a building much like every other he’d seen in Rohan stood beckoning for strangers to come inside. As they clambered up the hill the pair saw the pile of ashes and dust that covered a plot of ground just outside the Inn. Curiosity was in their eyes as they wondered what had befallen the Inn, but they dismissed this and decided to just ask when they entered the Inn.

Soon they had come to the Inn door and, smiling, Taren opened the door. It was early in the morning, so when they entered there were very few people in the common room. But they soon found the person they had traveled to see – Aylwen, the Assistant Innkeeper, Taren’s little sister and Kendral’s daughter. She was serving breakfast to an older man and when she left his table she finally looked up and saw her guests smiling in the doorway. At this sight Aylwen rushed over to them and swept up Taren in a big hug, and then her mother received the same treatment.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve come!” Aylwen assured them happily as she ushered them to a table. “You must be so hungry, all that traveling! Can I get you something? Anything? You could probably stay in my room while you’re here, I mean…”

“No, Aylwen!” Kendral cried, stopping her daughter and putting a hand on her shoulder. “While we are here we intend to be paying customers, spared into no exception to the rules. Understand?” Aylwen nodded, obeying her mother. Kendral smiled. “Good! Now, one thing we would like to know before you go about your job…What happened outside? There is nothing but a circle of black sooty ashes!”

“Ah,” Aylwen stalled, thinking and choosing her words carefully. “We chanced for a day of terrible luck and the stable caught flame. Today is the day we are going to start rebuilding it…”

“Then it’s a good thing Taren’s here!” Kendral’s face was nevertheless full of cheer as she spoke. Aylwen was reminded of what a wonderful woman her mother was. She’d taught Aylwen how to play the instruments Kendral had had laying around the house, and taught Aylwen how to calm a rowdy audience, and Kendral was so outgoing and matter-of-fact with everyone – especially children. Aylwen was also reminded of what a good thing it really was to have Taren around. He’d been a carpenter with Aylwen’s father and other brothers, and his completely logical but creative way of thinking was what got jobs finished and made Aylwen too confused to even do anything with carpentry but say that it was her father’s profession.

Aylwen was so glad to have them here.

“You must meet Bethberry, Mama, Taren,” Aylwen informed them before fluttering off with their breakfast orders to fulfill them and the orders of other patrons.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:10 AM January 15, 2004: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 01-04-2004, 05:33 PM   #274
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The next morning Gerdwyn woke up, feeling refreshed and happy, something she hadn’t felt in quite some time. She opened her curtains, it was a lovely day outside, a bit too hot but it was fine. Gerdwyn put on a dress and tied up her hair in a perfect round bun. She walked out the house and was ready for another day at her try out. Gerdwyn was sure Bethberry would hire her, she was good and Gerdwyn was sure Froma would put in a good word or two! Gerdwyn walked into the Inn and made her way into the kitchen. Goldwine was waiting patiently at the kitchen door. Gerdwyn was surprised to see the cat there again, she was sure she had bored the poor thing the day before. Gerdwyn let Goldwin in first and followed behind. Goldwine walked boldly into the kitchen with its tail up in the air, Goldwine jumped onto the chair with a cushion on it and preened itself. “I see you have found your castle?” Gerdwyn said laughing at Goldwine.

Gerdwyn put on a red handmade apron and tightened it. She felt good, it was soon to be her kitchen. She took eggs, milk, flour and butter and mixed them all together to make a delicious warm bread. She added a few herbs in the bread to give it a hint of herbs. Then she put on boiling water to make tea and ham and pea soup. Gerdwyn was getting used to the feel of the kitchen and was enjoying her space. “you know Goldwine, when I was younger I would spend hours in the kitchen with my mother. She would do all the cooking and I would do the mixing and later I would lick the bowl out” Gerdwyn paused then put down a bowl of milk. Goldwine walked towards the milk and sniffed it then backed away and look at Gerdwyn. Gerdwyn was puzzled and just ignored it and made tea. She took a sip and was shocked, she spat it out. “Oh this is disgusting! The milk is off, now wonder you do not wish to drink that milk!” Gerdwyn cleaned the mess on the floor and found some more milk. She poured it into the bowl and put it on the floor again for Goldwine. Goldwine went up to the bowl and inspected it, sniffing around it and looking at it. Gerdwyn laughed “It is ok this time!”
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Old 01-06-2004, 03:28 PM   #275
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Writers of the Mark,

Please welcome Novnarwen 7586 and Orofaniel 7567 not only Game Players in Rohan but with full status as Game Managers. They met the challenge well of bringing Setting Sails for Valinor to a successful completion on time despite the loss of several other writers.

Welcome to Rohan, Nova and Oro.

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Old 01-07-2004, 09:09 PM   #276
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Sting

Before the sun’s rays completed their climb over the horizon of the miller’s property, Lairwyn had gathered her items, including a bag of flour Aldhelm had given her with great gratitude, and was ready to mount her horse and ride back to Edoras.

The miller’s family had brought her a small cot to sleep on the night before as she wanted to check on Maedlyn’s wounds that morning. Lairwyn had left the mother cuddling the sleeping babe in her bed while Lathyn was curled up at her feet. Maedlyn appeared to be both exhausted and full of an energy that made her glow. With a warm smile and a raised hand of parting, the midwife turned from them, left the home, and climb upon her horse. Her heel gently nudged the side tan mare and she was off…

~~~*~~~

Mayhew opened his heavy lids and looked at the untouched half of the bed. Propping himself up with his elbows he listened to the darkness. No sound was heard but the creaking of the old house as it settled in its foundation. After just a moment, he sunk back into his covers and scratched his thick blonde beard. She must’ve stayed overnight , he thought, yawning. It was not uncommon for his wife to be gone overnight when she delivered the children of folk who lived in the country.

He had never been very keen about waking up without Lairwyn, but he knew how much she loved the work. They had never had children themselves, which had been tough on both of them, and the families adored her. Plus, her deliveries always brought in a little extra money or food. Lairwyn was a good woman. Sometimes in a slow year, if a family could not pay her monetarily, she would accept a roasted duck or beef as payment. Mayhew had tried arguing with her about not getting enough for her services, but Lairwyn would just shake her head and the next time she would accept a knitted blanket or a bushel of corn.

Whether Mayhew liked it or not, she was not there and that meant he would have to fend for himself. After washing his face in the basin in his bedroom, he decided he would treat himself to a breakfast at the White Horse. He’d have some thick bacon, or better yet a nice steak with some eggs. Froma always made is steaks the way he liked them…nice and rare. And since Lairwyn was gone, he wouldn’t have to hear her grumble about his food intake. Mayhew smiled mischievously at his reflection before he picked his hat from the post next to the door and started the short trek to the inn.

The morning was cool and crisp. Mayhew breathed in deeply and the cold air felt like a razor in his chest. He coughed, bringing up the loose phlegm, and then spat through his teeth just as he reached the door of the White Horse. Stopping for a moment he looked over the charred remains of the stable. Lairwyn had been present when the fire started and had rushed home to tell him. It was a shame the hardworking ladies that ran the inn would have to deal with rebuilding, and he hoped they would find the help they needed. If he saw one of them inside, Mayhew would be sure to offer his services; although, he was uncertain as to how a barber could help.

The inn was cozy this morning and Mayhew took a place next to the crackling fire. Placing his hat in the middle of the table, he leaned back in his chair, propped his feet on the chair next to him, and waited for service.
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Old 01-08-2004, 12:48 PM   #277
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Sting

Talan sat down, his head full of thoughts. That was a seldom event, and he was not sure if he liked to have so many things to think about; in the past it had mostly been about making sure he himself was well and nobody was mad at him or out to get him.

Now he had been charged with responsibility, and he knew if he was ever to become more than a bouncer and helper, he needed to take it seriously. For perhaps the first time in his life, Talan felt ambition.

Yet another time he thought about what he needed to do. Make sure there were plans made how the stable should be built; that there was wood enough, and workers enough with the skills to do the different things. A question struck him; but he became unsure if he had already asked Bethberry that. He was not too keen on asking in case he already had, but in the end decided he better get rid of his doubt.

He found Bethberry and hesitating he asked: "Excuse me mam, but I was just wonderin'. I reckon the workers for the new stables they'll be livin' in the inn, guest rooms and all that. But what about the wood? We're gonna need a stockpile of that. Do we have any place for it, now that the stables ain't here anymore? And I can't remember, have we already ordered it, from whatever person it is we're gettin' it from? If not, we better be quick so that the workers won't be out of somethin' to do."

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 1:49 PM January 08, 2004: Message edited by: Daniel Telcontar ]
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Old 01-08-2004, 02:04 PM   #278
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Sting

Madi

Madi opened his eyes, being bothered by the sun-light which streamed into his room through the curtains and the window. He sprang out of his bed, dressing in a hurry, leaving his night wear on the floor. He slid out through the door and advanced out in the hallway. As soon as he rounded the corner, he made his way to the staircase, where he elegantly and steadily slid down the banisters. Madi made it down to the floor safe and sound. He let out a sigh as he saw someone sitting by the window, where he usually sat. "Favourite seat taken, eh," he muttered, being very disappointed. Madi straightened up as he promised himself to start getting up earlier. He knew at once that this, of course, was a promise he could never hold. The little man sighed, as he watched the man, already sitting there, eating breakfast.

Madi decided to head for the kitchen to get breakfast there instead. He walked with steady steps and found the kitchen in its normal state; tidy; considering this time a day, filled with different smells; which lurked into ones nostrils and ingredients which were scattered all over the benches at the kitchen. He noticed too, a new face; Gerdwyn. Madi approached more carefully now, looking at the woman and the cat, which stood proudly on the kitchen floor. He shuddered. The woman looked questioningly at Madi, who stood still. He excused himself and said he was looking for something to eat. Gerdwyn laughed, but pointed over at one of the untidy benches where a new made bread laid. “It’s a bit burnt, so I can probably not serve it to guests. But if you want it, eat it,” she said smiling. Madi grinned, but bit his lip. The cat sat right by the bench, looking at the bread as well. Either, Madi had to leave the kitchen without the bread, or he would have to defy his worst fear; CATS!

The little man had dropped dead and he remained like this for a while, watching every move the cat did. It was only sitting there though, blinking and licking its’ paws. Gerdwyn, who had for a while ignored Madi turned back to him again, looking suspiciously at him. “What’s wrong?” she asked, being gentle in her voice. Again she turned away from Madi, and started working again.

Madi felt a sudden urge to run away, but answered that nothing was wrong. “Just the cat,” he finished. It was then, he decided to do it. Madi, the little man, made the biggest sprang he had ever done, grabbed the bread, and sprang over to the door, where he had been standing just moments before. Gerdwyn looked oddly at him and was just about to ask him something, but Madi was already out the door, having the cat after him.

Madi ran as fast as he could out of the common room. He continued, feeling the eyes of the cat stalking him. When he made it to the door, he slammed the door shut behind him, the cat being ‘stuck’ inside. Madi giggled. The Man settled outside, leaning his back to a tree trunk, eating breakfast. He chewed eagerly being immensely satisfied by his courage.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 3:07 PM January 08, 2004: Message edited by: Writer of The Mark ]
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Old 01-08-2004, 05:18 PM   #279
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Goldwine, Prince of Cats

I glanced up as a gamin of pygmy stature paced into the room when to my utter bewilderment, his small frame shuddered with unaccountable abhorrent dread. I could sense the fear radiate from him, saw his ocular orb darken with distress. Did he fear me? A new confidence swept through me, a pleasure dawned upon my spirit: I, a prince, was finally being given the reverence I deserved. Yet, a little sorrow haunted me…I was not a choleric fiend, but was an auriferous presence in the room.

To ease his dismay of me and my glory, I licked my paw to show that I didn’t care a fig about him. Such a paltry human. Faran, I realized, truly was a gem among the two-legged ones. The boy, I saw, wanted a thing of crushed grain and yeast. Singed, it offended my nose…in fact, I could almost taste it. If he wished to content himself with such low class, he could I supposed. At least the poor thing wouldn’t carry an empty abdomen about him.

As he darted like a mouse to his hole, I surveyed the woman Gerdwyn. She was a comely cook, really; it delighted me to listen to her ceaseless conversation as she spoke of the little things that other persons would be ennuied with. So typical…I was thankful that Faran had never shown a hint of that fault.

Weariness took me, and curled upon the hearth, tail by nose. The warmth soaked through me, and I think I was soon asleep.
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Old 01-08-2004, 06:06 PM   #280
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Castar awoke the next morning with sun gently dancing over his eyelids. He sat up, rubbing his stinging eyes and looking around the room, temporarily forgetting his place of slumber. Everything suddenly flooded back into his memory. He looked instinctively around himself: no, Windheneb was no longer with him. He and his sister had long ago abandoned Castar, as they had to return home to see to their families. Windheneb's younger sister would probably have stayed over at Castar's farm. She should return sometime that day or the next. Knowing Castar's mother, she was not one to let a young lady out at night, what with criminals and the other folk out in wilder countries.

Castar arose and immediately sat back down again, groaning slightly. His brain felt as though it was gently pounding against his skull. The farmboy was not used to drinking as much as he had the previous night. His argument with Windheneb shook him up, though: that much Castar knew.

Taking a deep breath and readying himself for the throb in his head again, Castar arose, wincing slightly. He dressed and looked at himself in the mirror, tying back his hair and moodily trying to fix the loose strands to no avail. Finally, thoroughly convinced that his appearance could not improve at all, Castar made his way to breakfast. Luckily, the room was mostly empty, and those that were eating were, for the most part, sitting in a bleary, slightly grouchy silence. The people tending to the tables and their occupants were, surprisingly, just as compassionate as always.

When one of the girls came to Castar, he quietly ordered a small breakfast. He kept a lookout for Aylwen, wanting to see how she faired the busy night. His breakfast came, and he ate it mechanically, not savoring the taste, but eating out of necessity.

Finally, he saw Aylwen enter the room. He looked up expectantly, trying to catch her eye. Though his head still pounded, and speech seemed to worsen it, he wanted to hear if there was any news. He also just wanted to speak to Aylwen, if at all possible. He had not been able to have a decent conversation with her since the market.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 7:09 PM January 08, 2004: Message edited by: VanimaEdhel ]
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