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Old 09-14-2008, 04:28 PM   #281
Groin Redbeard
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Lithor

"My lord you are confident today," Lithor said merrily as he overheard the eorl's bet, "but you forget that you are racing as well, or is that why you made the bet?" Lithor grinned at his little joke.

The two boys were getting ready for the race. Cnebba, Javan, and Garmund were at the starting line all fidgety and looking nervous. Lithor walked over and said a few private words of encouragement, trying to ease their nerves, and then in a loud clear voice addressed the crowd.

"People, people, settle down, the foot races are about to begin!"

~~~~

Erbrand

He was near when the eorl mad the proposal. At first Erbrand payed no attention to the friendly bet, he never gambled, money was hard to come by for him and he had not made any here in Scarburg. Yet something seemed to wrench at his insides as he walked by, in an indirect manner Eodwine had challenged him, and every other man who was running; his honor was on the line. With a smirk on his face he spun around and headed back to the eorl.

"Lord Eodwine, I'll accept your bet. Which shall it be, the sprint and the distance run?"

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 09-15-2008 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:03 PM   #282
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The short foot race

"The sprint this time!" Eodwine grinned. "I don't think I'll bet on Osmund for the longer run."

"We'll see about that!" cried Osmund.

There was a good round of laughter and then they quieted as the runners got into position. Lithor again explained how it would go. The red flag had been moved, and Wilcred had volunteered to stand at the flag to declare the two winners.

"Go!" yelled Lithor. Degas got the best start, and Eodwine did well too. Matrim and Erbrand started a half step behind them, with Osmund in between. Cnebba and Javan got off like two peas in a pod, but Garmund stumbled before he could get going.

They covered the first fifty feet in seconds. Eodwine and Degas were neck and neck, Osmund one foot behind, and Erbrand and Matrim a foot behind them. Six feet back from them ran Javan; a full running stride behind him was Cnebba, and Garmund brought up the rear, but he had been gaining on Cnebba.

Matrim quickened his pace and caught up to Eodwine after another fifty feet. Degas had fallen a foot back, tied with Erbrand. Osmund was now a half stride behind them. Back ten feet ran Javan. A full running stride back was Cnebba, but Garmund was now tied with him.

They neared the flag. Matrim was moving ahead. Degas was pulling even with Eodwine again, and Erbrand stayed just a head behind. Osmund was falling back almost a full stride. Javan was still ahead of the other boys but Garmund had passed Cnebba, who had fallen farther behind.

Matrim crossed the finish line first, almost a full stride ahead of Eodwine and Degas, who finished tied. Erbrand was just a lean behind, and Osmund brought up the rear of the men. Javan crossed the line six feet behind Osmund, Garmund three feet behind him, and Cnebba three feet later yet.

All of the runners were bent over their knees, breathing heavily. "I owe you a copper, Erbrand!" Eodwine said. "Osmund! Were you trying," he puffed, "to lose me my coin?!?"
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:33 AM   #283
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It was a strange feeling, to win a race but in reality come in behind all the men. Javan had held some scrap of hope that he might be able to come in somewhere among the older people. No such luck. He was pleased, though, despite that, and he grinned as he panted for breath, his hands on his knees. He glanced sidelong at Garmund and Cnebba and then stood up to go over and speak with them. A pain in his side halted him momentarily and with his hand clasped about it to cinch the pain, he went over to them.

“Man, Garmund, you nearly had me, I swear!” he said cheerfully. He did not speak as though he were boasting or gloating over the fact that Garmund hadn’t beaten him. “You both ran very well. I’ll wager that in the longer race, you may have a chance of winning even against me!” Although he said it, he hoped that neither of them did win. He did not know how he would feel to lose against Garmund who was three years younger than he.

“Do you know if we’re running the next race immediately?” he asked after a slight pause. He glanced around towards the men. They were still panting and laughing at some apparent joke amongst them and no one had heard his question, except the two other boys.
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:09 PM   #284
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His legs, which had been turning like windmills just seconds ago, felt as if they weighed nothing at all. Everyone was heaving, trying to catch their breath, while he stumbled around trying to find his footing and feeling quite dizzy.

"I owe you a copper, Erbrand! Osmund! Were you trying," he puffed, "to lose me my coin?!?" Eodwine said as Erbrand approached him to offer his congratulations.

Erbrand laughed at the joke, as did everyone else. "I'm just thankful that we did not make the bet against one another my lord," Erbrand replied, trying to stand up but still bending slightly and breathing heavily. The winner was looking quite pleased with himself after beating his Rohirric brothers and beamed with pride as he accepted the congratulations that were offered to him.

Slowly walking to the boys he marked their eagerness to begin the next race and to prove that Javan wasn't the only one who could run. "Well done, Javan!" Erbrand said looking down at him, "I've never seen a race run so fast, or boys so hasty to begin another after the finish. I'd keep an eye on those two next time Javan. Good luck!"
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Old 09-18-2008, 01:41 PM   #285
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Cnebba & Stigend

Cnebba's lungs were screaming for mercy. He was so broke he couldn't have imagined before. It felt like all his bones and muscles were aching. He was just panting, struggling to give his lungs even the minimum amount of air they needed to work to begin with.

He was not looking about him but mainly concentrated on not falling down as his exhausted feet suggested. He didn't see anything but everything was black.

"Well done, Javan! ... I've never seen a race run so fast, or boys so hasty to begin another after the finish. I'd keep an eye on those two next time Javan. Good luck!" He heard Erbrand call hilariously - seemingly trying to keep them at a good mood and congratulating Javan. Cnebba couldn't be farther from a good feeling.

He had lost the one race he thought he could have fared well in. That was it, he thought trying to gasp air. A tear appeared into his eye and went slowly down his cheek as he finally dropped down to his knees not able to stand up anymore.

I tried... I'm no good...


Stigend saw his son dropping down and immediately rushed forwards to meet him. He layed down to his knees beside him and took him from the shoulders.

"Now my dear son... what is it?" he whispered into his ear trying to steal a look from Cnebba's eyes.

Cnebba shivered slightly holding out the tears and bit his lip. That was something Stigend did feel and see.

"C'mon lad... you're my champion still and you ran well. No one runs better than the one who has given all he has..." Stigend whispered. He was about to continue with the words his father used to repeat to him time after time... Losing builds character. But suddenly he remembered the humiliation and the shame that went with those words, those times from his childhood that had stuck deep into his mind as moments of disgrace and failure it had taken a long time to grow over. That's not something I'm going to pass to my son..., Stigend thought and embraced Cnebba gently not to embarrass him.

Finally Cnebba looked up to his father.

"I...I lost daddy..." his voice was trembling a little.

"So what about it? They're older than you are my son. And still you will climb any tree faster they could imagine, now couldn't you?" Stigend looked at his son with a comforting smile. "And winning competitions isn't everything you know." Stigend paused for a while and looked at his son.

"Would you like to come and to just follow the longer race with me? I could then teach you some manouvers for the later games?"

Cnebba looked at his father and suddenly his eyes ignited with a fire Stigend had rarely seen. "No dad, I'm going to run."

Stigend stood up and stared intensively at his son. "However it goes Cnebba... I'm proud of you", he finally said and took him by the shoulder and pressed it slightly - feeling that Cnebba was still bit shaking. They looked at each other into the eye for a moment before Stigend nodded to him and let his shoulder go.

Stigend went back to the crowd his heart about to break with pride.

But Cnebba stood alone at the finishing line still trying to catch his breath glancing at the others speaking of the run and how they fared in it.
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:30 PM   #286
Groin Redbeard
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Lithor

Fresh buckets of water were brought from the camp to the racing grounds. He chuckled to himself as he saw a row of red faced men line up for their turn with the gourd. The day had turned out beautifully, not only was the weather exceptionally good but also the morale of the camp was soaring. Even the older ladies who didn't participate seemed to be having a grand time with commenting on the players performances, and telling tales about when they were young.

Eodwine was taking his turn with the gourd when Lithor approached him. "All is well my lord?" Eodwine didn't say anything, but he nodded and breathed a comforting sigh as he poured water on his face.

"Very good, my lord," Lithor replied with his ever constant grinning, "just say the word and we'll begin with the distance running."
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:16 PM   #287
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The distance race

While the runners walked around, stretching their legs and talking and joking among themselves, Wilcred and Lithor brought out three more red flags, which were actually pieces of cloth generously donated for the cause by Frodides and Modtryth, with pointed warnings that they were to be returned whole. These red flags were placed in four spots, two near the Scar, two a good ways away from it, so that a rectangle was formed.

"These flags are your four corners, runners," said Lithor. Go five times around the flags for a sum of two furlongs of a race. This is more than twenty times as far as the short race, so run wisely. On your marks!"

The runners lined up, no betting this time, this felt more serious.

"Set!"

The runners looked down the length of the course rather than at each other.

"Go!"

They were off - at an easy pace. They rounded the first corner, by which time they had formed a line: Matrim, Osmund, Erbrand, Degas, and Eodwine, followed a little way back by Javan, Garmund, and Cnebba all in a ragged flanking line. They turned the close corner and ran the little way along the Scar to the cheers of the small crowd who had picked their favorites.

On the second lap Osmund decided that the pace was too slow and moved to the front. Erbrand moved past Matrim too. Degas and Eodwine fell back about ten feet from the leaders. Meanwhile, Garmund pulled ahead of the other two boys in an easy lope appropriate to his size; Javan and Cnebba ran neck and neck. When they came around the near corner and raced along the Scar to the cheers of the crowd, Erbrand and Matrim made a good show of it by pulling even with Osmund: all three turned the corner in line. Degas was ten feet behind them, Eodwine four feet back of him. Garmund was only eight feet behind Eodwine, and Javan and Cnebba raced together just four feet back of him.

By the time they reached the far corner of the third lap, Erbrand had pulled ahead followed by Osmund, and Matrim, the three of them trotting like three peas in a pod. Degas and Eodwine were lagging farther behind. Garmund was pulling away from the other two boys, a mere ten feet behind Eodwine; Cnebba was allowing Javan to be in front of him, by a mere stride. They rounded the corner near the Scar without change.

Lap four. Degas looked winded, and Eodwine even more so, their mouths hanging open their strides looking like they were working very hard just to keep moving. Erbrand kept a strong pace, followed one stride behind by Osmund, with Matrim one more stride back. Erbrand looked over his shoulder as they turned the first far corner. Garmund kept his lord in sight, a mere fifteen feet back, but looked not near as tired. He had put a couple more strides between himself and Javan, who was now moving away from Cnebba. They turned the near corner with no change between the top three, Degas now pulling away from Eodwine.

Final lap. Erbrand stepped up the pace some more. Osmund was unable to match him. Matrim stayed close behind Osmund. Degas struggled on heroically; Eodwine just kept his legs moving. Garmund picked up the pace too. Was he catching up to Eodwine, the watchers wondered? Cnebba seemed to be giving up, his legs moving half heartedly. Javan seemed to be giving it all he had, but he looked about as winded as Degas.

They turned the the second far corner. Erbrand increased the pace. Osmund redoubled his efforts. Matrim did the same. Degas' head had started lolling this way in that in rhythm with his flailing arms and struggling legs. Eodwine tried to run faster and began to catch up to Degas. Garmund had seen what Erbrand had done, and at the very same point as his model, he increased his pace too. Javan struggled on. When Cnebba came last to the second far corner, he could see that Erbrand had almost reached the first near corner. Javan was five strides ahead, Garmund five strides ahead of Javan. The fire seemed to flare in the boy's eyes. He started to sprint.

Matrim passed Osmund down the long stretch, and came to within three strides of Erbrand. The moment Erbrand rounded the final turn he looked back and saw that Matrim was gaining, and bolted into a sprint. The crowd gawked in amazement: how did he find the strength to full out sprint? Matrim pushed himself even harder but his legs began to burn. Osmund passed him just as Erbrand crossed the finish line. Osmund crossed three strides later, Matrim two strides after that. The three fell to the ground, heaving. Meanwhile, Degas almost tripped as he came around the final corner, but was far enough ahead that he was a sure fourth place.

Eodwine heard someone running just behind him. He looked back and saw Garmund, whose face was puckered into a determined frown aiming to beat his lord. Eodwine could not let this happen; it was his weakness that he was too competitive when he should not be; he found new drive and willed his legs to move faster despite the burning pain in them. He crossed the finish line just three strides ahead of Garmund. Cnebba overtook Javan as they rounded the final corner. Javan's pride kicked in and he put on a burst of effort. The two crossed the finish line right next to each other.

"I'm - I'm not sure who came in second of the boys. We'll call it a tie," Lithor concluded. Stigend was sure and said so to Garstan that Cnebba had won between the two by a nose. Thornden meanwhile was sure that Javan had eaked out the victory between the two, or had let Cnebba keep up. It became the source of friendly dispute for many weeks over ale cups late at night.

"Erbrand!" puffed Eodwine, "you are a noble runner! Your skill amazes me!"
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:20 PM   #288
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Erbrand

"Erbrand!" puffed Eodwine, "you are a noble runner! Your skill amazes me!"

Erbrand couldn’t respond. His heart pumped frantically against his ribs and for a while he stood in a daze unable to focus on what was being said, he felt world was spinning all around him as he fell to his knees. Breathing came hard and he could sense people swarming around him asking if he was alright. Suddenly everything came back into focus, his regularized, and with a slight groan Erbrand rose back to his feet.

“I’m just glad the race wasn’t farther.” Erbrand finally responded with a friendly wink.

For a while Ebrand stood in the midst of the crowd, accepting all the handshakes, compliments and friendly pats on the back. It was rather strange for him to be in the limelight, it made him feel uncomfortable and he was almost relieved when he began to fade from everyone’s attention. It was his turn to do the congratulating now.

“Well done Garmund,” he said walking over to Javan, Cnebba and Garmund, seating himself on the grass next to them, “You certainly prove a better runner than I had thought you to be. I swear Cnebba, you passed that finish line a within a hairs width of Javan.”

This of course brought up the subject of the second place tie between the two boys. Garmund couldn’t believe that Cnebba had pulled ahead so fast in the last lap, and Erbrand wound up recanting what had happened. They all laughed as Thornden and Stigend swarmed around him and took up the debate. However during the conversation the subject of the next race came up at which Erbrand suddenly remembered.

“If you’ll excuse me, sirs, I have something to attend to.”

He strode away from the group trying to discern Kara’s face amongst the crowd. As he looked for her, Lithor was starting to arrange the flags for the race, which would soon begin. Erbrand spotted Kara speaking to Ginna, both seemed to be quite happy and excited.

“Hello Kara, Ginna,” Erbrand said, this time not so nervous and shy. A smile lit up his face and confidence seemed to blend with his words, which was altogether very unusual.

“Are you ready for a race, Kara?”
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:17 AM   #289
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Degas stood a little ways apart from the residents of Eodwine's hall, drinking water slowly and taking slow breaths to calm his racing heart. He'd known he would not win, yet he didn't mind. His competitive spirit was not for swiftness or for strength, but for words, knowledge, and experience. He reflected upon the day briefly, before hearing a sniffle coming from the shadows behind him.

He turned and saw the tear-filled eyes of Léoðern. He pulled from his pocket a soft handkerchief and wiped her eyes with it. "There now, darling, what is wrong?"

She sniffed a runny nose and wiped her eyes with balled up fists. "I want to race with the boys, but they will win. And everybody says that races are not for girls anyway."

Degas tucked a loose strand of her hair back behind her ear. "Girls can run in the rope-tie race," he reminded her.

"Yes, but I have no one to run with, and I am too small." Renewed tears streaked her cheeks and Degas knew immediately what he must do, though he was hungry and his calf muscles ached. He could ride for days with nothing but a little stiffness to show for it, but he rarely ran.

"Léoðern, will you run with me in the rope-tie race? We shall be partners, you and I, and I bet we can win."

Her eyes lit up as he whispered his plan to her.

"...and you hold on very tight, do you understand?"

"Yes, Degas!" she said happily, tears a thing of the past. Yes, the boys may get to run alone, but Léoðern had been specially invited to be on Degas's team. Her smile was bright.

"Now go get ready for the race, okay, sweetheart?"

"Yessir," she said, skipping off to tell her father what had transpired.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:31 AM   #290
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Eodwine

"Lithor," Eodwine said, having caught his breath, almost sure that his wobbly legs would hold him up now, "give me a moment. I want to see if I can round up a partner for the three legged race."

"Well, lord, we don't want to keep the others waiting too long now, do we?" Lithor winked.

Eodwine smiled wide, enjoying Lithor's tease, and teased back. "Consider it a command then," he winked. "On your honor as a lord's man!"

Lithor looked like he didn't quite know how to take the jest, his mouth grinning but his head tilting with confusion; it was unusual for anyone to get the better of him, but Eodwine felt a little guilty, wielding his authority for a tease. "I'll just be a moment, my friend!"

He trotted back across the Scar, past the paddock and stacks of stones and lumber, and found what he was looking for. Saeryn and Rowenna were sitting on a bench, chatting. He approached.

"Ahem!" They looked up. He bowed deeply, holding their eyes with his own (which was a bit of a trick, actually, since he could only look at one of them at a time). "My lady," he said to Saeryn, "I request that you allow me a three legged dalliance with the lass Rowenna here. Would you be so kind?" He was trying to use his most ridiculously flowery court Gondorian on her. She grinned, aware that he was honoring her as the one who had all rights to him.

"I could not possibly refuse," she said, and turned to Rowenna. "You really must! I want to watch!"

Rowenna smiled. "If you allow it, then it would be a pleasure."

"Excellent!" Eodwine cried. "Let us hurry, for the race is soon to start!"
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Old 09-25-2008, 12:13 PM   #291
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Lithor watched for a moment as Eodwine nimbly crossed the Scar and back to camp before he dropped the case of stakes that he had used for the foot races. One by one he drove them into the ground until a perfect circle was formed for the rope-tie race. As he knelt and tied a red piece of cloth to one of the poles, marking the starting point, he was aware of a shadow that had passed over him. Lithor turned around, wincing at the light of the sun, to see Wilcred standing over him with his arms crossed.

"Ah, you startled me, Wilcred," Lithor said while rising to his feet, "the day seems to be going well, eh?"

"Yes, it has," said Wilcred, very dismissively, "Lithor, I've come to ask you a favor. The boys and I (referring to Osmund and Aethelstan) need to start setting up the archery range and taking out the swords and javelins from the armory, do you think it would be too much trouble if we could postpone the next race for a while?"

Lithor shielded his eyes with his hand and looked up into the sky, the sun was just above their heads.

"Sure thing," said Lithor looking back at Wilcred, "It's around lunchtime anyway, I'm sure that nobody will object for a chance to eat." Wilcred gave him a thankful nod and departed with Osmund and Aethelstan.

Glancing back at the Scar Lithor saw Eodwine coming back helping Rowenna across. It seemed that everyone had found their partner, even Degas had taken little Léoðern as a teammate. Eodwine came running back up to Lithor.

"My lord," Lithor said in an over dramatic tone, "I have done as you commanded and stalled the race, but I'm afraid that all this waiting has made me very hungry, why don't you say we brake for some grub?"

There was a twinkle in Lithors eye that Eodwine caught. The eorl guessed that there was some other activity of importance going on to prompt Lithor to stop the festivities.

"Very well then," Eodwine responded, "Lunch it is!" The call was automatically taken up and before too long everyone was swarming across the Scar and back into the camp.
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:25 AM   #292
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Much of the day's meals had been prepared the night before, and Frodides and Kara had put together a venison stew near dawn which had simmered all morning and would continue to cook slowly until the feast near nightfall, after which the riddle game was to begin.

For lunch the women had prepared a light meal of cold spiced chicken served with clover honey, and carrots, beans, cheese, bread and, Frodides's secret contribution: apple pastries for all. Many were forced to wonder how and when she had made them with none the wiser and it was decided, amidst shouted compliments, that she was a goddess among women, all-powerful, beautiful, wise, and, above all, generous.

Frodides harrumphed and grumbled, her hands firmly on her hips, and suggested with an all together satisfied smile to herself that perhaps the cider had fermented a bit more than previously suspected.

Before long, not a crumb bespecked any plate and when the women moved to collect the dirtied tableware, the men shushed them and made them sit while, laughing and joking all the while, they cleared up the mess from lunch, leaving each plate, cup, fork or knife washed, dried, and neatly stacked where it could be easily put away.

It was then that little Léoðern stepped forward and asked excitedly, "Can we race now?"

And all made their way back across the scar to the fields where the races were held. Each team prepared in hushed voices, planning strategies.

---

Degas smiled at Léoðern as she clung to his left leg, her little feet planted firmly on his boot. He wrapped a rope around her whole body and his leg, taking care not to tie too tightly, but tightly enough that she could not fall.

She giggled and smiled and Degas wished Linduial could be here to see. Tomorrow, he told himself. Tomorrow I will see my lady love and all will be decided.

"Are you ready?" he asked Léoðern.

"Yessir." she giggled. "Will we really win?"

"I hope so," he grinned, contorted as he knotted the rope securely. She was heavy on his left leg, weighing him down awkwardly, but he could walk without much difficulty.

He looked around to see if any were watching them, and caught his sister's eye. Saeryn laughed aloud when she saw Léoðern's entire tiny body tied to Degas's long leg. Léoðern smiled happily and hugged Degas's knee.

Degas dreamed of the children he would one day, perhaps soon, have.

Last edited by Feanor of the Peredhil; 10-07-2008 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:02 PM   #293
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Lithor looked carefully at each pair to make sure they were properly tied and no one having an undue advantage. When he came to Degas he stopped and rubbed his chin.

“Well now, my lord, I fear that you do not qualify as three legs. The little one is going to have to have at least a leg free, even if it never touches the ground.”

“I'm afraid, my friend,” said Eodwine, standing next to Degas, “that Lithor has a point.”

“What say the rest of you runners?” asked Lithor.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:56 PM   #294
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Javan and Wilcred were bound together at the ankles. Javan was just standing up from finishing the knot, clinging to Wilcred to keep his balance, when his attention was caught by the question rising from the far end of the line.

“What’s wrong - what is it?” he asked. Wilcred shook his head. Thornden, passing them as he walked along down the line to get to the other side of the racing field, explained.

“Degas and Léoðern are not tied to Lithor’s satisfaction.”

Javan leaned forward to peer down the line. His eyes stretched when he caught sight of the odd pair. “Oh for goodness’ sake!” he cried out, loud enough for Eodwine and Lithor both to hear even at their distance. “Let ‘em run like that, if they like!” And in aside to Wilcred, “Not like Degas could beat the lot of us single handedly with someone hanging on his leg...ridiculous, really...and Lithor should quit sticking his nose into all this business that doesn't really belong to him. Who put him in charge anyway?"

"Eodwine agreed with Lithor's protest," Wilcred said, matching Javan's tone of voice. "And I believe it was Eodwine who put him in charge."
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:41 PM   #295
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His heart began to race and his fingers seemed to twitch with a giddeness that overtakes a man who is greately anticipating something, and in this case it was Kara’s answer. Erbrand’s face still held the look of a man quite at ease though it was anything but that in his heart. Kara and Ginna both turned towards him, slightely startled at this rude interuption of their conversation.

The unusual gaiety in Erbrand's voice made Kara jump when she heard it, but as she turned to face him she couldn't help the smile that spread over her face as she caught sight of him. He looked completely dishevelled from his earlier race, one that she had cheered him on throughout, and yet his win had filled him with such clear confidence that he was carrying off the look very well indeed.

"Are you ready for a race Kara?" He asked her, now looking her in the eyes rather than speaking to the ground as he had done the first time he had asked her this.

"Of course!" Kara replied. "If you still want to that is. Ginna and I were saying that we can't believe you all still have the breath left to run another race after the last one. Especially you with that amazing sprint at the end to win!"

Erbrand was taken aback by Kara’s response. His heart suddenly began to beat faster, numerous thoughts racing through his head about what she might have meant. Was this her gentle way of saying that she didn’t really want to race with him? Did she suspect foul play from him in the last race? Erbrand’s cheerful face quickly faded into a troubled look. The notion of her words being a completely innocent remark hadn’t accured to him.

Her natural inclination to openness and never to intend harm meant that Kara didn't think that her words could be taken as an insult until she heard Ginna's intake of breath behind her. Confused she turned to her friend.

"I'm sure Erbrand has more than enough breath to run another race." Ginna said, a meaningful look on her face. "After all, his performance in the last one shows that he is clearly very fit."

And suddenly Kara understood.

"Oh!" She cried, immediately remorseful. "I didn't mean that you couldn't do it, of course I didn't, I only meant that perhaps you might not want to! Oh please don't take offence." She faced him again with a worried expression.

The look on Kara’s face soothed his nerves. Erbrand breathed a sigh of relief and stepped back a bit, as if a great load had been lifted from his back making him unbalanced, soon he was laughing, not even bothering to try and contain himself.

“I’m sorry, Kara,” he said at length after catching his breath, “It’s not you I’m laughing at, I thought that you were turning my offer down. The thought shouldn’t even have entered my head, I’ll accept your apology if you’ll accept mine.”

Erbrand was very pleased with the way that he was handling himself, trying to ward off the anxiety as best he could. Without skipping a beat he sprang up the scar to where Kara and Ginna were sitting with as much nimbleness as a deer. He came face to face with her, she looked even more beautiful than she did earlier today. Finding the words stuck in his throat he hesitatingly extending his arm out to her.

“May I help you down, if you please... Kara?” the words were almost a whisper as they came out, and finding his arm shaking he tried to stiffen, but that only enhanced it.

“You’ll be fine,” his mind kept telling him, “just don’t do anything stupid and it will be find. Easy there, don’t rush her.”

Kara's sudden guilt fled as quickly as it had arrived as she received confirmation that Erbrand had not taken her comment to heart. Indeed he seemed too happy and excited to have even considered doing so as he bounced up to her and held out his arm. His new found confidence didn't seem to last long, however, as his voice became hoarse and his movements became uncomfortable again. The way he said her name made her hesitate, there was more to it than the simple friendship there had been before. She looked to Ginna for guidance, but her friend merely raised her eyebrows and said nothing. Giving a slight shrug Kara smiled and placed her hand in Erbrand's.

"Of course." She replied. "I will need to help Frodides with getting some lunch ready for everyone. After that I'm all yours."

“Excellent!” He replied as he gently helped her down from the Scar. They both helped Ginna as he came down after them, being duty bound to helping in the kitchen. Kara and Erbrand lingered behind the main group for a while, choosing to take their time, making small talk and laughing about the games. Erbrand found himself enjoying the conversation, and completely forgot about the time. He even found it hard to cross the Scar, knowing that it meant the end of having such wonderful company.

At every utterance that Kara made Erbrand couldn’t help but smile, the very sound of her voice sent his stomach in a tizzy. He couldn’t shake the feeling of attraction to her, once it even entered his mind to tell her, or at least try to describe how he felt around her. It was how he felt, why not say it? She looked at him with an amused smile, and they both laughed. No, it would be best if he left his babbling words for another time, this was a moment too perfect to be wasted.

By the time that they had gotten to the kitchen everyone else had already arrived. Erbrand walked Kara to the kitchen entrance where Kara promised to meet him later. He smiled and let go of her hand, he had not let go of her hand since she had placed it in his but she didn’t seem to mind. Frodides approached them with a pan in one hand scolding Erbrand for delaying Kara for so long. She quickly shooed him away from the kitchen with one arm raised as if to strike, Erbrand made a quick dart away leaving Kara laughing at the door.

It seemed almost no time from then to now to Kara, as she stood close to Erbrand, her leg tied to his. It had been Kara who had tied them together, as she couldn't bear to watch Erbrand try and figure out a way of wrapping the rope around her leg without actually touching it. The expression on his face as he realised his difficulty had nearly made her burst out laughing and she knew that would only hurt his feelings. Erbrand had laughed while she was busy though, and she looked up to find everyone staring across at Degas who was facing Lithor with unabashed glee.

"What do you think Kara?" Erbrand asked through his laughter. "Should we demand a re-tie?"

"Oh let them run like that." Kara replied, smiling up at him but pitching her voice loud enough so that Lithor could hear the answer to his question. "If they win we can call it a victory for creative thinking!"
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Old 10-10-2008, 11:27 AM   #296
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"Aye, let them race," shouted Erbrand in agreament with Kara, though he knew that it would be a far more difficult thing to do. The weight of little Leodern on Degas' foot would cause him to be greatly imbalanced, but where Degas' lacked in racing he might gain in balance.

It looked as if the crowd was now almost shouting for Lithor to let Leodern race as is so Erbrand payed no more attention, seeing that Lithor would probably let it be. Kara rose from tying the knot and tested it by tugging at it with her foot, to Erbrand's amazement the knot was taut and strong.

"Well done," he said, his voice giving a slight chuckle. They positioned their feet to the starting line and she reached up and put her arm around his shoulders. Slightly stunned Erbrand did the same, and started practicing the beat to which they would run

Lithor

Lithor's face was a frown as the racers urged him to let Degas and Leodern race, this was hardly the response he expected. He cast a hopeful glance at Eodwine half expecting some support from his lord but he didn't get any, Eodwine just stared at him, his hands folded across his chest, with a half amused smile on his face. The child clinging to Degas' leg began to look around alarmingly, and Degas wore a gleeful smile on his face as the crowd began to sway in his favor.

Taking a piece of twine from the rope pile Lithor knelt down to Leodern's level, who was still clinging desperately to Degas' foot. Lithor took the twine and gently tide it around the childs small ankle and then brought in around Degas' foot and tied a half knot, allowing Leodern to stay where she was. Leodern looked puzzled, wondering if this meant that she had to stand, but Lithor just rose and gave Degas a playful wink.

"There you go. Now it is a rope-tie race."
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:29 AM   #297
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"It should be tighter," Cnebba said flatly.
"I'm trying," Garmund replied, "and it would be easier if you weren't moving your foot."
"It would be easier if you concentrated," Cnebba snapped.
Garmund snorted, but didn't make a reply. Instead, he bowed down to try the knot once again. He was smiling and Cnebba thought he was looking unbearably smug.

Well, Garmund had a reason to smile. He had done well in the short distance and won in the long distance, running almost as well as Lord Eodwine. It was so unfair. Cnebba kicked a pebble, which bounced a few times until it hit a big rock and fell to the ground, rather miserably.

"Hey Cnebba, didn't I tell you not to move?" Garmund asked. He didn't even sound angry this time.
"Yes you did but I don't have to follow your orders. You are not any wiser just because you're older, or better at everything, and besides even if you were, you would have no right to boss me around!" Cnebba said and knelt to untie the rope. He didn't want to do anything with Garmund now.
Gramund gripped his arm: "Don't be stupid, Cnebba!"
Cnebba tried to wrestle his arm free from his friend's grip. "Let go of me!" he shouted.
"It isn't my fault that I'm a better runner! It's unfair that you should be angry with me because of it! It's so unfair!" Garmund replied, giving Cnebba a hard push on the side. The smaller boy fell to the ground. But Garmund had forgotten they were still tied together and Cnebba pulled him with him when he fell.

They heard laughing from all around them. "I think we just got an example what not to do in this race," Lithor said, grinning widely at the boys. Other adults laughed at his joke. Garmund and Cnebba couldn't help laughing too. They knew they were being stupid.

"Now come on boys, I'll help you up," Lithor said, taking a step towards them.
Cnebba and Garmund shot each other a determined glance. They gripped each other's arms, nodded sligthly, and pushed themselves up with one concentrated effort.

Lithor whistled and clapped. "Now that was much better, wasn't it?" He laughed and so did the other adults.

Garmund turned his eyes to Cnebba. He was grinning widely. "We are going to win this game, aren't we?"
"Of course we are," Cnebba answered and grinned back, but his smile didn't quite reach his eyes.
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Old 10-12-2008, 05:03 PM   #298
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The three-legged race

The seven pairs practiced walking, tied leg to leg. Léoðern practiced hanging on to Degas' leg for dear life, giggling all the while as Degas practiced walking with an extra 30 pounds on one leg. It was when they started to practice running that the weaknesses of the various couples began to show themselves. Degas made very good progress while it was nothing but walking; once he tried to run a bit, Léoðern squealing, he looked like a drunken sailor who had lost his sea legs. Kara did not have very good balance and her right leg seemed to always get left behind, and down she went. Garstan and Stigend kept on saying “after you” “no, after you”, and got nowhere. Garmund and Cnebba struggled at first and started to get frustrated. Then they watched Saeryn and Ginna, and Eodwine and Rowenna, who seemed to be getting the hang of it. Garmund told Cnebba to watch what they were doing, and with a little bit of practice, they began to make some progress. But Wilcred, wise old man, had a plan, and giving Javan a wink, explained what he had in mind.

“Under your breath for now, boy, but later on, we'll show 'em.” Javan nodded, grinning enthusiastically.

“On your marks!” cried Lithor, and waited patiently as all seven couples struggled back to the starting line.

Eodwine whispered something in Rowenna's ear. She got a sly grin on her face and nodded gleefully.

“Get set!” cried Lithor.

All seven pairs got themselves ready.

“Go!”

Kara and Erbrand, and Garmund and Stigend promptly fell. Eodwine and Rowenna tried to grab Degas so he couldn't move forward, and instead fell themselves. Garmund and Cnebba didn't fall but barely kept their balance, but got nowhere. Saeryn and Ginna took three whole steps forward, and Degas took four steps, but Javan and Wilcred, the elder of the pair shouting “One! Two! One! Two!” went five whole steps, moving in perfect harmony, before the others got off their bottoms.

Eodwine and Rowenna, and Kara and Erbrand promptly fell down again. Garmund and Cnebba managed three whole steps. Garstan & Stigend made four. Saeryn and Ginna adopted Wilcred's counting device and they made four more steps while Wilcred and Javan made three (Javan's short legs were slowing them down). But Degas picked up the pace and was in the lead by a step.

Kara couldn't even get up she was laughing so hard despite Erbrand's kindest ministrations. Eodwine and Rowenna got up, tried a step, and fell down a third time. Garmund and Cnebba were making good progress and were catching up to Saeryn and Ginna. Wilcred slowed down a bit for Javan. Garstan and Stigend caught up to Saeryn and Ginna and were closing in on Javan and Wilcred, but Degas and Léoðern were now pulling away much to the laughing glee of the little girl.

Erbrand finally got Kara on her feet, and they managed one step before Kara fell yet again, weak from laughing. Eodwine and Rowenna actually made three steps without falling. But Ginna tripped over a bump in the ground and down went both she and Saeryn. Garmund and Cnebba caught up with them. Javan and Wilcred found a more comfortable Javan-sized pace and made two more steps. Garstan and Stigend seemed to finally get the hang of it and started really running, and almost caught up to Degas while Léoðern cried, “Degas, you must beat Daddy!”

Kara laughed helplessly and couldn't get up, so Erbrand could do nothing but laugh in bemusement himself. Eodwine and Rowenna fell again, which was inexplicable because they both had good senses of balance and were fit, and not shy with each other; it was as if someone were rolling dice for their progress and constantly coming up with snake-eyes; at least they had made it twice as far as Kara and Erbrand, which wasn't saying much. Saeryn and Ginna managed two more steps, gaining back their confidence. Garmund and Cnebba passed them. Garstan and Stigend were tied for second with Javan and Wilcred, with Degas just a step ahead; but he was tiring.

It hit Erbrand that he was being too bashful with Kara and not holding her tightly enough; his competitive instincts won out and he hauled her to her feet and grabbed her firmly around the waist (she just kept laughing), and they took a whole step forward without falling; this put them four steps from the starting line. Eodwine and Rowenna finally found their rhythm and the luck of the dice rolling gods seemed to be with them, and they took three running steps without incident; they'd taken ten so far. Saeryn and Ginna managed another two steps; thirteen. Garmund and Cnebba kept up their pace; fifteen. Garstan and Stigend stumbled but kept their feet, slowing them; twenty steps. Javan and Wilcred caught up to the tiring Degas; twenty two steps.

Eodwine and Rowenna stumbled but kept their feet, taking two steps more. Erbrand gained confidence and took Kara three steps. Saeryn and Ginna kept their pace and stayed the same distance ahead of Eodwine and Rowenna. Garmund and Cnebba fell into a mighty rhythm and started running faster than anybody else, closing in on Garstan and Stigend who were falling farther behind Javan and Wilcred, who were in the lead; Degas was tiring badly.

Suddenly, the strings holding Léoðern to his leg came loose and she swung wildly on his leg with a “whoa!”; his left leg dragging, his right went out too far and he almost did a (painful) split, his arms flailing wildly, and he went down. Wilcred was tiring now, and Javan had to slow down with him, but they were still ahead. Garmund and Cnebba passed the fallen Degas and the steadily plodding Garstan and Stigend. Eodwine and Rowenna picked up their pace again. But Erbrand and Kara (shrieking) came charging forward now, catching up to Eodwine and Rowenna.

They were closing in on the finish line now, but Wilcred was tiring more; he and Javan took two more steps. Garmund and Cnebba, tired out from the exertion, slowed to half their pace, only two steps behind the leaders. Garstan and Stigend both tripped on the same hillock and they both went down. Degas got himself up and grabbed hold of Léoðern, telling her to hang on tight. They took a step. Saeryn and Ginna found the best pace yet for them, and made up a little bit of ground. Eodwine and Rowenna did the same, still four paces behind them. Erbrand and Kara were now charging forward and had almost caught Eodwine and Rowenna.

Eodwine and Rowenna took two more steps. The hard charging Erbrand virtually carried Kara (still shrieking with laughter) past them, and past Saeryn and Ginna, who lay on the ground again, apparently having gone faster than was workable for them. Degas was only two steps ahead of Erbrand and Kara now, trying to figure out how to take a step while holding onto Léoðern holding onto his leg. Garstan and Stigend had gotten up and took two more steps. One step away from the finish line, Wilcred lost his footing and fell, Javan landing on top of him. Garmund and Cnebba took the lead, and crossed the finish line first.

Wilcred and Javan got up and crossed the finish line next. Garstan and Stigend, overeager, tripped and fell again, three steps shy of the finish line. Erbrand and Kara were only two steps behind them. Degas was still trying to figure things out. Saeryn and Ginna got up and closed in on Degas, Eodwine and Rowenna bringing up the rear.

Erbrand put on a final burst of speed and carried Kara past Garstan and Stigend (who had gotten up and promptly fallen again), and crossed the finish line third. Saeryn and Ginna caught up to Degas, still standing there, trying to figure out a step while Léoðern looked like she was ready to cry. Eodwine and Rowenna still brought up the rear.

Garstan and Stigend got up and took three more steps to cross the line fourth. Degas figured out how to manage and took a difficult step with Léoðern. Saeryn and Ginna were watching as they passed Degas, and through loss of concentration, tangled up their steps and fell. Eodwine and Rowenna both laughed at that, and fell themselves. These last two pairs coudln't stop laughing and didn't bother to get up. Meanwhile, Degas, encouraging his partner, took one difficult step at a time and finished fifth.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 10-13-2008 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 10-13-2008, 05:45 PM   #299
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Garmund embraced Cnebba and they both tumbled down not remembering they were tied to each other from one leg.

"We won!" Garmund yelled on top of Cnebba.

"We won! We won!" Cnebba shouted trying to get up from under his friend but the tied legs were a problem.

With the help of Stigend and Garstan they were finally untied.

"Dad! We beat you!" Cnebba shouted as his leg was freed and he was able to jump up.

"You had no chance!", Garmund added getting up as well.

Stigend and Garstan glanced at each other and smiled from the bottom of their hearts.

"You see, together you can beat anyone" Stigend said smiling. "We just messed around".

"Yeah, you two are invincible as long as you stick together!" Garstan added. "Take care to see after another!"

"And if that Javan is the one you compete with then work together in these games - even if I think he knows a thing or two you guys do not. That's the challenge for you! And he might teach you a thing or two if you let him...", Stigend added.

Garmund and Cnebba watched their fathers for a while in disbelief but finally decided they had been congratulated and their fathers had approved their own defeat. That was enough for them - adding the fact that they had beaten Javan.

They were in good moods indeed, embracing each other.

Garstan laid his arm on Stigend's shoulder and looked at him to the eye, pointing to the kids. Stigend nodded and took Garstan from the elbow nodding as well. They both smiled.

Last edited by Nogrod; 10-13-2008 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:39 AM   #300
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Kara had clung to Erbrand as he carried her over the finishing line, unable to help him at all because every time they stumbled or another pair fell around them her giggles started all over again. She felt some guilt over how completely useless she was being, but she was having too much fun to really care. She was very impressed with Erbrand too, she knew she wasn't the lightest of people and yet he was carrying her along seemingly with ease! Well, up until the point where they crossed the line and Erbrand fell to the floor, leaving Kara to tumble down after him, inciting another bout of laughter from her.

"Third!" She gasped eventually when she got her breath back. "Third! Well done Erbrand. I thought we were going to lose for certain."

"Ha!" Erbrand replied, wheezing somewhat. "Not with me ... on the case." His words were punctuated with small pauses so he could pull in another breath, but Kara could hear the pride in his voice.

"Thank you." Kara replied, grinning at him.

"Anytime." Erbrand waved a hand in answer.

Pushing herself up onto her elbows Kara watched Degas hobble across the finishing line. She waited to see whether the final two pairs would make it but they had stopped moving entirely so she redirected her attention to the rope keeping her attached to Erbrand. It didn't look like her partner was going to be moving any time soon so she sat up to undo it herself. The knot was tough though, it had been pulled tight in the race and her fingers weren't strong enough. In the end she gave up and flopped back down next to Erbrand, who appeared to have got his breath back at last.

"Little help?" She asked.
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:30 AM   #301
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Erbrand's ears were ringing from the excited screaming of Kara as he crossed the finish line. He enjoyed every minute of the challenge, especially since he had a partner who cared very little if they won or lost. However, the strength that had almost carried him across the finish line left him at that very moment and he fell flat on his face with Kara following after him.

For a brief moment he could hear nothing besides his heavy breathing, only the heaving of his chest prevented him from losing all conscience and blacking out. But while he tried to regain his breath and fought to keep conscience the familiar sound of Kara's laughter broke through to him and it was the sweetest sound he'd ever known. She lay there on her side, looking at him, with her lips curled in an undimmed smile.

"Third!" she said between bouts of laughter, "Third! Well done Erbrand. I thought that we would lose for certain."

He could not think of a clever reply or to even try to give Kara some partial credit for not fighting with him the entire way to the finish line. Instead he said the first thoughts that entered his mind: "Ha! Not with me... on the case." His words were indeed prideful as he struggled to say them between his gasps for air.

She thanked him politely, but he responded with a blunt answer and made a gesture as if dismissing her. He lifted his head to see how the other runners did and he was glad that the boys had beeten them, he had a feeling that they would pull through in one of the contests.

"Little help?" Erbrand looked over and saw that Kara was trying to undo the knot that joined them. He quickly lent his hand and tried to pry the knot apart with his fingers, but it was tight and would not yield easily.

"You tie a hard not," he said, glancing up at Kara, "I could do with a knot like this in my work."

Kara laughed again, and told him to get the rope off first. After they had congratulated the other runners, Erbrand walked Kara back to her seat in the Scar. He apologized for his biting language when they had won, but Kara didn't mind and just laughed when he asked if he had hurt her during the race. Lithor was calling everyone back for the next competition but there was one more thing that Erbrand needed to ask Kara before he went back.

"I've been meaning to ask you this since the race," he began, "and I want to have your answer now before you are taken by another man." She glance him a puzzled look, and at that moment Erbrand caught a glimpse of Crabannan coming over the Scar. "I was wondering if... well, if you would promise me one dance tonight at the bonfire? I know that we still have time, but I wanted to ask you before Craba... before someone else asked you first."

She smiled back at him and Erbrand's hopes soared with what she would say next.

"Yes, I'll promise you a dance. The night will be long and I'm sure everyone will have a chance to dance."

"Wonderful!" he exclaimed, jumping once in excitement, "I will look forward to that with more anticipation than our race, and that's saying a lot." Lithor called again for the contestants to come forward and Kara bade him go before he missed the contest. They both waved goodbye, but Erbrand came running back to her after taking only a few steps and leaned over to give her a grateful kiss on the cheek. His face was blushing when he stepped back, but he was still smiling and he rushed back down the Scar with much speed and great excitment, leaving a stunned Kara.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:04 PM   #302
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The rope-tie race was ending when Náin began to make his way back to the Eodwiningas' camp. The Dwarf had disappeared much earlier in the morning, not long after Lithor had begun to round people up for the games, for he had no interest at all in the peculiar competitions of Men. On the contrary, he was somewhat disgruntled (a situation not helped by his lack of sleep) at discovering that the day was to be wasted. It was not that Náin begrudged the Men their pastimes--odd though they were--but rather that he had been intending to get started that day with surveying the situation for the construction of the Mead Hall.

Eodwine, Garstan, Stigend, and anyone else that might otherwise have been deputized to join Náin were naturally preoccupied with the games, so the Dwarf made a tour of the construction site on his own, followed by an inspection of the materials that Eodwine's men had gathered thus far, and then a long jaunt over the surrounding land to see where and how a quarry might be situated, for Eodwine was going to need more stone than he thought if he wanted a proper, stone Mead Hall.

As industrious a Dwarf as Náin was, however, his chief purpose in the exercise was to avoid having to be present at the games. From his time in Edoras, he was already well acquainted with the Mannish friendship and enthusiasm that would likely have resulted in many invitations to partake in the games. That was all very well for a Hobbit, Náin huffed to himself, but no Dwarf was interested in competing in a Mannish sport. For one thing, there was no field where Náin thought there could be a fair competition, and for another, he was inclined to feel that events were a bit ridiculous. No Dwarf cares to look ridiculous, and certainly not one as reserved as he was.

Eventually hunger returned as the afternoon progressed, so Náin made his way back to the Men, hoping they were far enough into their games that he could avoid any attempts to talk him into participating. He decided not to ask Frodides or anyone else from the kitchen about food before supper, but he did hope that supper would be ample, and between the emptying stomach and the long day, he was aware he was becoming more irritable.

This irritability was manifesting itself in the Dwarf's outlook on the gathering. Men were such a raucous bunch! And so preoccupied with their physicality! Perhaps, he thought, it was that they were bound to their bodies for so short a time that caused it, but it seemed to him that Men were vastly more likely to engage in things like rope-tie races that were of little competitive value. The examples of Lithor and Eodwine, and Garstan and Stigend, did seem to countermand this slightly, but as far as Náin could see, the rope-tie race was little more than an excuse for Erbrand to hug Kara for a few minutes. The obvious pleasure that the trapper was deriving from the experience baffled Náin somewhat, since it looked manifestly awkward, but he had become used to the strangeness of Men.

Perhaps it was just their shorter lifespans that made them so different, he mused, since the much longer ones of the Elves certainly did. Náin knew that, barring war or another unnatural cause of death, everyone present that afternoon, even young Léoðern, would be long dead before he reached his old age and senility.

This thought depressed him greatly, and suited well his irritable mood. While everyone danced their wild Rohirric dances that evening, the Dwarf decided he would probably nurse his melancholy over a few tankards of ale.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:45 AM   #303
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Harreld

Harreld had been berating himself for the entirety of the three legged race when he saw Ginna with Saeryn. He had not even thought of asking her, and watching Erbrand with Kara, he knew it would have been a moment of moments for some indirect courting. He had not been able to help himself wishing that she and Saeryn would win, but when they tripped the last time and burst out laughing, he decided that he didn't mind them losing after all.

That Erbrand was quite a powerful fellow! And not unlike himself. Thankfully, he wasn't a rival for the affections of Ginna, which meant that instead of enemy, he could be a friend.

These thoughts wandered through his mind as he walked over to Ginna and Saeryn.

"Here, let me get this for you," he offered, and did not wait for permission. The knots had tightened from their exertion, and it took some doing with his big fingers. Their skirts were getting in the way so he perforce pushed them up to their knees.

"Hold your hems, please," he winked.

They watched him work, sharing some inside joke, giggling to each other. Soon he had the knots loose and the rope freed.

"Now up you come!" He offered a hand to both ladies and he lifted them both at once. "That was great fun to watch, but now, Ginna, I wish it had been I who was your partner, no offense to you, of course, Lady Saeryn."
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:39 PM   #304
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The field in front of the contestants was strewn with irregular objects. The course was marked by a line of red flags, creating a half circle. The course consisted of four main proponents: agility, speed, accuracy, and stamina. First there was the log jumping, a stretch of land with logs of various sizes for the contestants to jump over, some of the logs were propped off of the ground. Once they made it across they would each take up a wheel barrow, each filled with one stake attached to a rope, and make a dash for a wall around two hundred yards ahead. The wall is around twelve feet high and is made out of wood (it’s really an unfinished part of a building that Lithor and his crew “borrowed” for the occasion). The players will toss the stakes over the wall to the other side were Lithor, Wilcred, and crew, will be waiting to stake them firmly in the ground. The players scramble down the other side of the wall move on to a some beams which have been elevated off the ground for the contestants to balance their way across. The next, and final task, is the sack race. This is pretty self explanatory: the contestant grabs a sack and hop their way to the finish line, one hundred feet away.

Everyone was ready now. Lithor gave a blast on his horn and all the contestants sprang forward. Eodwine made the first jump across the logs with Erbrand, both of whom were followed closely behind by Rowenna and Javan. At first all seemed to be going well for Erbrand as he pulled ahead of Eodwine, but the logs were at an uneven distance and he slipped falling sideways. Javan skipped across the logs as if he was taking a stroll, while Rowenna and Saeryn slowly jumped over each log. Eodwine made it over the last log first and grabbed his wheelbarrow, meanwhile, Harreld and Javan had passed Erbrand, who was side by side with Dan. The girls brought up the rear, with Rowenna ahead of the two.

Everything was evening out in the wheelbarrow run: Eodwine still held the lead followed closely by Harreld, who was running diligently behind his lord. Erbrand was closing distance fast, but the girls, whether by sheer determination or skill, passed Dan and Javan and where within several yards of Erbrand, who was increasing his pace.

Eodwine and Harreld reached the wall within a mere second of Erbrand, who had pulled ahead of the girls. Harreld and Erbrand stopped for a minute to catch their breath, both of them toppled to the ground with dizziness, while Eodwine tossed his stake over for Wilcred to place firmly in the ground. Eodwine had begun to climb and Harreld, along with Erbrand were just tossing their stakes over when Javan came dashing in with Saeryn, Rowenna came along with Dan a few seconds later. While everyone was tossing their stakes over Rowenna dashed for the wall, dropping her wheelbarrow she dashed for the wall and started to climb it her feet finding the right grooves to be placed in (this wasn’t really cheating since the only rule was that you had to make it across the wall).

Everyone was on the wall, Eodwine had begun to make his decent down the other side, by that time. Erbrand slipped several times and stood dangling in mid-air, while the short statures of Dan and Javan allowed them to shoot straight to the top, though not without some difficulty on Javan’s part. Dan, Rowenna and Javan were the next to make it over the wall, Dan jumped down but the other members played it safe and carefully felt their way down. Eodwine was slowly moving across the balance beams when Dan caught up to him, he virtually ran across the board without slowing his pace a bit, making it across to the sacks just before Eodwine. Rowenna made it to the balance beams next with Javan and Saeryn racing after her, both just a little bit behind the other. Exhaustion had taken its hold on Erbrand as he wearily climbed to the top of the wall, as Harreld began his decent.

The crowd was roaring now for Dan had finally pulled ahead of Eodwin in the sack race, but not by much the eorl was still not giving much ground and they were still neck and neck. Rowenna made it to the sacks without too much difficulty, but Saeryn slipped a couple times and had to make a hasty restart, while Javan went slowly, concentrating as he went with wide eyes.

Harreld finally made it half way down the wall when he lost his grip and fell, the crowd was stunned, but Harreld jumped to his feet unhindered by the blow and jogged to the balance beams. Eodwine and Dan were still battling it out by the time that Rowenna started the sack race, and at a fast pace too. Saeryn and Javan made it across the beams and quickly got into their sacks, but Rowenna was gaining too much distance too fast. Harreld wobbled and swung his body wildly when he was on the balance beam when Erbrand slowly and wearily marched across.

Dan and Eodwine where tied, neither of them could pull ahead of the other, and Rowenna was coming up faster than they were hopping. Suddenly, Dan and Eodwine collided, they both tumbled over themselves and fell flat on their faces, only four yards from the finish line. Rowenna screamed with delight as she pulled ahead and quickly crossed the finish line: she had won! Javan was quickly catching on to the whole hopping business and quickly got the gist of it and left poor Saeryn slowly hopping along.

When Dan and Eodwine had stumbled Erbrand made it across the balance beam and slipped into the sack when Harreld leapt of the beam and hastily pulled his sack on. Dan made it to his feet first, but he was so bewildered from the fall that he started jumping in the wrong direction, but he was soon corrected by the screaming crowd. This fortunate turn of events gave Eodwine the chance he needed and with long bounds he made it second across the finish line followed in turn by Javan, who was skipping across at a merry rate, and the corrected Dan. Saeryn was hopping determinedly and she crossed the finish line to the cheers of everyone, never had they seen a more dedicated effort than hers.

Harreld had made up for his past mistakes with this final leg of the course, with long leaps he caught up to Erbrand. The craftsman and the blacksmith refused to let either get the advantage, and with Erbrand’s quick hops to match Harreld’s long bounds they pulled ever closer to the finish line. Harreld laughed as they drew within ten yards but Erbrand was yelling, trying to gain the last bit of strength he had. In the end the mighty Harreld with jovial laughter propelling him on, made it across the finish line a full six bounds ahead of Erbrand.

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 10-21-2008 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 10-24-2008, 09:20 AM   #305
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"I won! I won!" cried Rowenna in girlish glee.

Eodwine smiled to see her happy and free (at least for now) of all the heavy weight she had been carrying for so long.

"Saeryn! I won!" Rowenna went over to her to give her a hug. Saeryn smiled and returned Rowenna's hug with a wince. "Saeryn? Are you all right?"

"Oh, it's nothing. My wound is just a little sore, that's all."

"Oh dear!" Rowenna held onto her and tried to half carry her. "We need to get you to a good seat. "Lord Eodwine!" she called.

He had seen Saeryn toward the end of the race, frowning but determined, and had seen her wince. He was over to her in a moment, and took his place on her other side. Between the two of them helping Saeryn, she hardly had to touch the ground. They sat her down on a chair near the baker. Eodwine knelt beside her and took her hand in his while Rowenna patted her shoulder.

"How are you really?" he asked.
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:54 PM   #306
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Stigend and Garstan had been following the unfolding of the events in the task-path and had lived the last moments of the race with heart-rates over the healthy ones goading Harreld to do his best. They had yelled their throats sore for Harreld and when he finally beat Erbrand at the last moment for the second last place they hugged each other spontaneously howling in joy. Not that they had anything against Erbrand, but Harreld was their work-mate and a fellow they knew well, and that was reason enough to champion him.

After the cheering died down Stigend noticed Náin walking around alone and heading for the temporary kitchens looking quite gloomy. He punched Garstan slightly to the shoulder and winked towards the kitchens. Garstan nodded and they started forwards to catch the dwarf.

"Hi there master dwarf!" Garstan called Náin when they were something like ten paces away from Náin.

"Aren't you participating in the games Náin? You would be great in the sack fight, or wrestling perhaps?" Stigend added smiling broadly.

The dwarf looked at the two craftsmen with an odd look.

"Why should I?" he counter-asked and looked at his two fellows in trade questioningly. "These games are ridiculous".

"Oh, don't be a bore my friend!" Garstan grinned.

Stigend looked at the dwarf and thought he saw the inner smile behind the expressions of the grim dwarf. They had worked together long enough for him to see he was not as annoyed as he tried to convince them he was. At least he thought he saw it.

"Let's have a pint. Maybe Frodides has some refreshments for the competitors... and to some onlookers as well?" Stigend winked an eye to Náin but then suddenly bowed to him respectfully and said: "If you wish master Náin".

Even if Stigend was in a good mood after Cnebba's and Garmund's victory and all the things that promised for the future he never forgot his high esteem of the dwarf for Náin was a true master of his trade and Garstan and Stigend - how handy and able they were - were just apprentices compared to him. And they all knew it even if they hadn't mentioned it one single time during their time of working together.

"You'd share a pint with us master?" Garstan added realising the need to change the tone as well.
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Old 10-25-2008, 07:21 PM   #307
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It took awhile for the thought of him losing to register in his mind. It vexed him to think that he had even come behind, far behind, the women. If only he could have made it over the wall faster. Erbrand didn't dwell on the thought for long, it was over, and it wouldn't do any good to brood over his loss, he was especially thankful for the contestants being so gracious and not gloating over him.

“Well done Harreld,” he said approaching the smith, “You were the toughest opponent that I have had yet.” Harreld thanked him for his praise and clasped his hand in a friendly sportsmanship manner.

Rowenna had proven tougher than Erbrand perceived her to be. She was standing with Eodwine and Saeryn, she looked anxiously at Saeryn who seemed to be hurt. Nevertheless, Erbrand approached them addressed Rowenna in a respectful tone.

“Congratulations, Rowenna, never had I seen such a race. Indeed you are made of stouter stuff than any other women that I have ever met. And you too Saeryn, although I didn’t see you finish, I heard that it was quite a site.” She smiled back but seemed to pained to speak.

“Are you alright,” Erbrand asked after a few seconds of watching her holding her side, “Did you fall and cut yourself?” He couldn’t have known how silly this might have sounded to Rowenna and Eodwine. Erbrand had not been informed of Saeryn’s injuries.

“No, I’ll be fine, I just need to rest.” she responded.

Erbrand nodded his head in agreement. Then he congratulated Eodwine on a close victory and backed away to wait for the next contest.
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:00 PM   #308
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Saeryn tried to smile and grimaced instead. How strange, that the old wound should be aching so. It was like a stitch in the side, as one gets when they run after eating, only it was worse. She relinquished her hand to Eodwine and looked back at his concerned face as he asked, “How are you really?”

“I’ll be fine,” she said honestly. “I’m sure it will pass, really. I shouldn’t have done it - it was that climbing that killed me, you know?” Her smile strengthened itself as the sharp pain began to ebb. She lightened the pressure of her arm around her waist and pressed at the scar gingerly with her fingers.

“Don’t let me keep you from the games!” she exclaimed suddenly, looking up and still seeing Eodwine’s and Rowenna’s worried faces hovering above her. “I promise I will be well. And if you keep standing about gawking, you’ll have the whole place about my ears, and then what?” She smiled, a genuine smile this time, and almost winked at Rowenna.

In all truthfulness, she was a little worried. By now, she thought, she should be quite recovered. As soon as she had come to Scarburg, they had begun tending her with the best care anyone could offer, and the wound had healed rapidly. Now it was all but a scar, with a few, superficial scabs. But on chilly nights it ached, and now, with this extra effort, it hurt, sharp and then dull and deep, and then sharp again. Although the pain was now going away and she almost felt entirely well, she could not help but wonder if trouble would continually rise from this old cut.
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:08 AM   #309
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As Eodwine and Rowenna moved away from Saeryn, Degas disentangled himself from Léoðern and walked toward his sister, paying little mind to the celebrations and strategizing of those around him.

He knelt beside her inconspicuously. "Are you well, Saery?"

"There is nothing a few moments of rest cannot cure," she responded, patting his arm.

"You are sure?" he asked gently, hesitantly. "The wound healed cleanly? There is no infection?"
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:21 AM   #310
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As always, Ginna and Kara took seats beside each other to watch the task-path event. The two ladies cheered wholeheartedly, still bolstered by the excitement of the three-legged race, laughing and screaming themselves hoarse all the while. Every now and then they exchanged meaningful looks, loaded with silent appraisals of the men - two men, in particular.

When Harreld fell down the wall, both of them winced, and Kara automatically reached out a comforting arm to the apparently troubled Ginna. The worry passed in a moment, however, as Harreld quickly rose to his feet, not the least bothered by his fall. Kara and Ginna looked at each other, laughed, and then cheered Harreld on.

In the end, the race was left between Harreld and Erbrand. Ginna and Kara could no longer shake off their anxious amusement and stood, jumping up and down and clapping like little children as they yelled.

"I'll wager Harreld finishes first," remarked Ginna absently in between shrieks.

"No way," countered Kara. "Erbrand's lighter."

"Loser washes all the dishes after supper," Ginna challenged, extending her hand towards Kara. She took it. "You have a deal."

The two then doubled their efforts at cheering, screaming at ear-splitting levels. It seemed as if Harreld and Erbrand would reach the finish line at the same time, but Harreld suddenly pulled ahead of Erbrand to the finish. Ginna turned to Kara, took her hand and squeezed it, and gave her a mischievous wink, before running off towards Harreld.

“You were the toughest opponent that I have had yet,” she heard Erbrand say as she approached. Harreld thanked him, and saw her approach as the other man left. Upon reaching him, Ginna shook his hand.

"You may not have won, but I congratulate you still."

Harreld grinned bashfully. "My thanks, Ginna."

The girl noticed the commotion around Saeryn, who was obviously in pain. "What's the matter with Saeryn? She seemed fine when I had raced with her..."

"Perhaps she had been in pain even then, only you were both laughing too hard for her to notice."

Ginna looked up towards Harreld's face; was it just her imagination, or had she discerned a touch of envy in the blacksmith's voice? His eyes betrayed nothing. It was probably her own emotions playing a trick on her. From the corner of her eye she saw Degas walk towards Saeryn, and decided to stop worrying and let her brother tend to her. With a small, absentminded movement of her arm, Ginna realised that Harreld had not released her hand - neither had she his.

"I apologise for never having thought of asking you if you wanted to join the three-legged race with me. But even with that over, you can still be my partner in one event this day."

Ginna smiled shyly yet expectantly, hoping he took her meaning.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:02 PM   #311
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Modtryth

Modtryth had been watching the task path race with the boys. They had been enthusiastic and cheering for their favourites: Javan and Dan. Modtryth wasn't still quite comfortable with their fascination with the weird woodman, but she decided rather to keep an eye on the situation than act or judge too rashly.

"Garmund! Garmund! Cnebba! I found a bug!"

Léoðern dashed towards the boys, grinning and carefully shielding something in her hands. The boys exchanged glances and rolled their eyes, but went to see her bug. In a few moments they were at least as excited about it as Léoðern was. Modtryth couldn't help smiling.

She let her eyes travel from the children to other people. Everybody seemed happy or enthusiastic, except that there was a slightly pained expression on Saeryn's face. Her brother was talking to her and she was smiling to him in response, but Modtryth thought not everything was quite right. She wanted to go to see Saeryn's wound and ask her about it. She thought Saeryn would not lie to her about it just to comfort her, like she could do to her brother, not to mention Lord Eodwine and Rowenna whom she had just been talking with. She could not decide whether to go to see her, or not. The next event would be starting at any minute, probably.

Léoðern made the decision for her by coming to her. "See, Modtryth, I found a beautiful bug!" If Léoðern is with me, there is no chance of having a serious word with Saeryn, Modtryth thought. That will have to wait, then. She stooped to have a luck at Léoðern's bug. The girl was sheltering it so carefully that she could not see but a hint of radiant emerald green. "It is very beautiful," she said. "But now, the next game is about to start, so stay here with me. We can watch it together." Léoðern nodded and was about to sit down on the ground. "But first, let's go wish good luck to the boys - it's stone throwing that's next!"

Léoðern's eyes widened and she turned to the boys' direction with a beaming smile. Still sheltering the bug, she ran to them, Modtryth in her wake. The boys were standing together where Léoðern and her bug had left them, talking about something in low voices. They fell silent when Léoðern and Modtryth arrived. "Good luck!" the girl said and gave both of the boys a kiss on the cheek. The boys exchanged glances and Modtryth could see they were nervous. She patted their shoulders and ruffled Cnebba's hair.

"Mum!" Cnebba exclaimed, fingering his messy hair.
"Good luck, darling," Modtryth said and smiled. "Good luck to you too, Garmund. I'm sure it will go fine with both of you. Now, off you go, the other contestants are waiting for you!"


~*~


Stone throwing

Harreld, Erbrand, Balvir, Wilcred, Garmund and Cnebba were standing in the clearing. Harreld and Erbrand were stretching the muscles in their arms and shoulders after the heavy task-path race. Balvir and Wilcred were talking in low voices. Garmund was looking around, trying to catch a glimpse of his father. Cnebba was plucking grass.

Lithor arrived with a wooden bucket filled with small but heavy stones.
"Are we ready to start?" he asked.
"Matrim is missing," Balvir pointed out.
"I'm coming!" the liutenant called from distance, wiping ale from his moustache with a self-ironic smile on his face. There was general laughter as he took his place among the other contestants.

"Now that everybody is finally here," Lithor (who had arrived just a moment ago himself) said, grinning at Matrim, "we may start. The rules are simple. Here are the stones," Lithor said, pouring them all on the grass, "and here's the bucket."

He waited that all the contestants had nodded in approval before he continued. "I will take this bucket here. Each of you has two tries to get a stone in the bucket - youngest first, oldest last. If you can't get one in, you're out of the game. After each round, I will move the bucket farther. The one who drops out of the game last, wins. Questions?"

There were none, so the game began. Cnebba was clearly nervous, but the first distance was short and he had a good aim, so he got the stone in at his first try. Grinning rather smugly, he made way for Garmund. He did not succeed at his first try, and was seemingly displeased with that. "Who's next?" grey-bearded Wilcred asked. "Not me by any means," he added with a wry smile. Matrim and Erbrand exchanged glances. "You may go first, good master," the Gondorian said. Erbrand hesitated a little, then nodded and picked a stone. Balvir cast an unreadable glance at his liutenant, who returned it with a smile.

Erbrand's stone hit the target beautifully, and so did Matrim's after him. Harreld was weighing the small stone in his hand and cast it, accurately but with too much strength. The pebble hit the inside of the bucket and knocked it down, spilling all the stones around. Everybody was laughing, even Harreld. "Is that acceptable?" Balvir asked Lithor. The Eorling shrugged and smiled. "The aim is to get the stone inside the bucket. It wasn't forbidden to knock the bucket down." There was more laughter, and Lithor went to pick the bucket up for Balvir and Wilcred. The two soldiers succeeded easily, and so did Garmund at his second try.

"That was seemingly all too easy for the brave men of the hall!" Lithor announced when he took the bucket and moved it some five feet further away. "Now you may try this."

Cnebba and Garmund both failed at their first try. Erbrand, Matrim, Harreld and Balvir all got their stones in easily, but the veteran warrior Wilcred missed. Bad luck was the common conclusion, but Wilcred didn't seem to mind. The boys were far more nervous. However, when Cnebba's turn came, he was calm, if not a little pale, and with a beautiful throw, he got the pebble to the bucket. The crowd applauded and Cnebba flashed a grin to his friend. Garmund's face was stern, he had failed both his first tries now and he didn't want to be the first one to drop out of the game. He bit his lip, picked a pebble and threw it. The was a loud clop when the pebble hit the bottom of the bucket. The cheers he got were wilder than those that ensued after Wilcred too had hit the target.

On the third round, Cnebba succeeded at his first try. His relief was clearly seen in his grin. Garmund was not so lucky, and missed again. His frustration showed as clearly as Cnebba's delight. But he wasn't the only one who missed on the first round: Erbrand and Harreld both missed as well. There was tension in the air as the three competitors eyed each other. They all had a nagging feeling that they wouldn't all make it to the next round. And so it was. Garmund missed the bucket by inches. Erbrand got his pebble in. Harreld's pebble flew over the bucket and landed some two feet further away than it should have. Accepting their shared last place calmly, Garmund and Harreld joined the audience.

On the next round, Erbrand, Balvir and Wilcred all succeeded at their first try, while Cnebba and Matrim had to try again. "I'm sure you'll beat me," Matrim whispered to Cnebba when the boy was picking his next pebble. Cnebba offered the soldier a faint smile, but did not trust his words. He weighed the stone and hesitantly threw it, only to miss the bucket. He let out a disappointed sigh and made way to Matrim, who hit the target easily. "You'll beat me next time," Matrim promised easily and winked.

Next round, everyone succeeded: Matrim and Balvir at their first try, Erbrand and Wilcred at their second. Lithor moved the bucket once again. Wilcred shook his head at the distance. "I tell you, I'm not going to hit that," he said, smiling wryly. "I'm a swordsman, not a pebble-thrower!" "Nonsense, it's still very close," Erbrand said, returning the older man's smile. The veteran had been right, however - he missed the bucket both times, while Matrim missed only once and Erbrand and the seemingly undefeatable Balvir succeeded at their first try.

But even Balvir wasn't so undefeatable. On the following round, he missed at his first try, unlike the younger men. The competition was getting pretty tense, few were those who dared to bet what would happen.

Lithor moved the bucket. Erbrand picked a pebble and threw it. It missed. He gave way to Matrim. He too picked a pebble and threw it. It missed as well. Everybody was looking at Balvir. He chose his pebble carefully, weighed it and threw it. It looked as if it would go too far, but it hit the inside of the bucket and dropped in. The usually so calm soldier flashed a wolvish grin when the cheers and the applause burst out. "See you next round, boys... if you make it that far," he said. "I'll throw my pebble in the bucket and follow you to next round, for sure," said Matrim. "It's just Erbrand's turn first." Erbrand said nothing, just picked the stone that seemed best to him and threw it. It landed in the bucket and a smile lit Erbrand's face. "Outrageous," Matrim commented with a smile, but stooped and picked a stone. He stood there for a long time with the pebble in his hand, but finally, he raised his hand, aimed and let go of the pebble. There was the soft thud of a stone hitting grass.

When Matrim had left, only Erbrand, Balvir and the bucket at the distance remained. "Younger one first," Balvir said. "I know," replied Erbrand and picked a stone. He threw it, but it didn't go inside the bucket. Balvir nodded grimly and picked a stone too. It missed as well. Erbrand picked a new stone. "Your last chance," Balvir said solemnly. Erbrand nodded, giving the older man a gruff smile. "So is yours." He closed his eyes just for a while, raised his hand, aimed and threw. The pebble landed a mere inch away from the bucket. Balvir's face was expressionless. "I only win if I get the stone inside the bucket, otherwise it's a shared victory," he said as he stooped to pick a pebble. He didn't hesitate; he picked the stone and threw it in one concentrated movement. It made a beautiful arch in the air and landed, with a loud clop, in the bucket.

"We have a winner!" Lithor boomed as applause and cheers filled the air. Balvir grinned. "Truly, it was a great honour to compete with such a skilled man as you, Erbrand," he said, patting the younger man's shoulder. "It was a great honour to compete with you too, and no one else would have deserved the victory like you did," Erbrand replied, now smiling too.

"That was indeed a worthy victory," Matrim said as he joined in the congratulations. There was an amused glint in his dark eyes. "And now, people of Scarburg, you know you may always turn to valiant and skillful Captain Balvir of Gondor, if you're ever in need of a pebble-thrower."
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:43 PM   #312
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Harreld

"...you can still be my partner in one event this day."

Ginna looked both expectant and shy at once, but her hand remained in his. He lifted it and bowed and placed a Gondorian kiss thereon, his eyes not leaving hers. Her eyes widened and her mouth formed an O, and she looked more shy yet, but pleased, biting her lip in a most winsome way. Harreld's face did not feel even the slightest hint of heat. He was enjoying this.

"I would be delighted," he said simply, and let her hand slip from his. She smiled and turned back to Kara, but gave him another bright eyed glance, as if the dance she had offered him had turned to a promise.

He straightened and made his way with a little bit of a swagger to the stone throwing competition. He cared not if he came in last or first, for he was in the lead in a race of far greater import.

Eodwine

He had moved from Saeryn to make room for Degas. He was getting restless for the day when others would have to make way for him coming by her side to take her arm in his. He was watching her now. She was smiling, talking to Degas; but she glanced at him; did she notice the fire in his eyes that went with the smile on his face? Almost, he was ready to throw caution to the wind and make good on his plan this minute, but no, he would wait until later.

He went to the baker and found a few more chairs and placed them near the one on which Saeyrn sat. He set one on Saeryn's right and directed Rowenna to sit there. He placed the other two seats to Saeryn's left.

"Degas, please choose your seat," he said. His eyes caught and held those of Saeryn again. He put all his feeling for her in his eyes, for any other display was not yet appropriate. He willed her to understand, yes feel what he meant to convey.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:02 PM   #313
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Degas smiled a half smile and stood from his crouch.

He leaned to bestow a kiss upon Saeryn's forehead and stood away from both seats. "The choice is my sister's, not mine. I will gladly be seated where the lady suggests."
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:15 PM   #314
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“The wound healed cleanly?” Degas asked. “There is no infection?”

“Degas,” Saeryn said, smiling broadly and leaning towards him so that she could speak quietly - she wanted to be sure that Rowenna did not hear Degas’ doubt of her nursing skills. “There is no infection. I’m still mending, that’s all.” She finished with a chuckle and leaned back again. Her eyes swept about and they were caught by Eodwine’s briefly. He was looking at her with a new look in his eyes. She glanced away and though of something to say to Degas.

“It will be quite well. You know when I first came to the White Horse Inn before it turned into Eodwine’s Hall, I was hurt and they had to tend me.” She laughed at the thought of how she seemed to always come back to Eodwine hurt. ‘Perhaps,’ she thought, ‘I’ll be safer if I never leave the place!’

Eodwine returned bearing chairs and after setting them up, he offered Degas his choice. Once again, Saeryn looked at him, and this time she kept the gaze. She felt, rather than understood, what his look meant. Something rose in her chest that filled her with a huge, wonderful pressure of intense joy in response to him. Yesterday, before Eodwine had expressed his love for her, such a feeling would have been painful, for it would have been doubtful, but now she knew and she did not fear.

Suddenly she was aware of Degas shifting the choice to her. She stirred and looked away from Eodwine to Rowenna, taking a seat beside her, and then to Degas. Immediately she knew what she should do. Eodwine had not yet spoken to her of marriage and until then, they must continue as though they were not attached. “Sit beside me, brother. We will all be able to see the games from here.”
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:03 PM   #315
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"You'd share a pint with us master?"

Normally, Náin would have picked up on the sudden formality of the two Men, and realised they had decided they might have been a bit too forward with him, distantly royal master stonecrafter that he was--and normally he would have attempted to alleviate their concerns, in an indirect, Dwarven way. Men were, in general, so less accomplished, being younger, and so less talented, not being Dwarves, that unless it was a matter of craft, he did not care to enforce his superior station, being well-accustomed himself to the sharp-barbed comments of his own Dwarven teachers.

As it happened, however, Náin was too tired to notice the change in tone, and merely replied with customary dignity.

"A pint of ale would be most welcome indeed, Stigend. I journeyed most of the night, and I have been going over the estate while your people have fested today, and I am tiring."

"It must have been a good day's work, indeed, then," said Garstan, "for we always tired long before you when we worked together in Edoras. Why don't you and Stigend sit here, and I'll fetch us the ales."

"I am not so tired as all that," protested Náin, mostly out of Dwarven stubbornness, "but I shall accept your offer. Nonetheless, I do not wish to bore you with my company, which I fear is full only of my trade and my new dwellings in the Glittering Caves."
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:09 AM   #316
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Erbrand

The concept of the stone throwing contest was not what Erbrand had in mind. When Lithor explained the rules it relieved Erbrand to know that it was not a test of strength accuracy. This would save him for the other games, despite his eagerness to remain active the task path had about worn him out, it would be good for him to play a leisurly game.

~~~~

The game was very enjoyable, it was very refreshing to once again interact with his Gondorian friends, Balvir and Matrim. They hadn't much time to talk during the busy month that had passed since they had first gone on their great hunting trip. Matrim had not changed a bit, he still remained the playful young man that Erbrand had met a month ago. Balvir still remained his quiet stern self, he seemed quite pleased with himself at winning despite Matrim's tease.

"And now, people of Scarburg," said Matrim shouting to the crowd, "you know you can always turn to the valiant and skillful Captain Balvir of Gondor, if you're ever in need of a pebble-thrower." The crowd roared with laughter at this, Matrim was quite pleased.

"You missed your way, becoming a soldier, Matrim," Balvir said, sounding slightly annoyed, "you should have become a king's jester instead of my lieutenant." Matrim bowed with an undimming smile, they were always poking fun at each other.

Erbrand had finished congratulating the players, who were in turn congratulating him, when he saw the long missed figure of Crabannan coming across the Scar. Crabannan stopped by some of the kitchen ladie, and leaned over to them, probably asking what had just transpired. Erbrand's mood quickly changed as the man walk past him and examined the pile of spears, picking one up and examining it's shaft and head.

Erbrand avoided him, walking past quickly and picking up his own spear. It was a strange weapon to him, he had used it only once in boar hunt with his father, still the concept of the weapon's use was not strange to him. He balanced the spear on his hand and grasped it where he could get the most distance out of it. Erbrand glanced back at Crabannan, who was was also staring at him.

"Good luck, Erbrand," he said, nodding slightly and gave a faint smile.

"I'm sure I'll need it against a man such as yourself," said Erbrand, he was sure that this was not the first time the brawler had used this weapon.
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Old 11-01-2008, 08:44 AM   #317
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The spear throwing games

"Degas", said Eodwine.

Degas, his legs crossed, his right ar resting on the back of Saeryn's chair, looked at Eodwine wtih a pleasant, absent smile on his face. "Yes, my friend?"

"You are in the spear throwing competition, are you not?"

Degas' smiled disappeared, replaced by surprise and mild consternation. "By Eorl's beard, I am!" Standing, he turned to his sister and Rowenna and gave a slight bow. "Excuse me, ladies, I go to win fame and glory."

"Are you not in this, Eodwine?" asked Saeryn.

He shook his head with a smile as he took the chair Degas had vacated. "I am sitting this one out. I shall enjoy watching this one."

Wilcred came up and sat in the chair Eodwine had vacated. "Would my lord be interested in a wager?"

"Name it, my friend!" Eodwine said.

"I will wager you two Eorls that Crabannan wins with the longest throw."

"I shall wager against Crabannan. And let it be known that I will put two of my own Eorls behind Harreld to win it!"

"Feeling generous with your gold coins today, my lord?" said Garstan, walking up from behind them, holding a pint of ale in his fist.

"We shall see whether it is generosity or greed," Eodwine laughed. "Will you take my wager, Garstan?"

"I will! And I will wager one Eorl on Dan to win the target round."

"I will take up that wager!" said Eodwine and Wilcred at once.

"I shall put one Eorl on Degas for the targets," Rowenna announced.

The men looked at her, startled. Then Eodwine grinned. "So be it!"

More wagers were set as the competitors readied themselves. They were to throw the spear three times, from the west end of Scarburg as far as they could throw toward the east wall, just inside the Scar. They drew straws. The best throw in three tries would win, plain and simple.

Erbrand was first, commenting that his luck seemed to have run out, being inexperienced with the spear and first to throw into the bargain. Throw he did. It was measured off at 74 strides. The others commented that it was not bad for the first time in yards. Crabannan, next, drew up to the line and showing fine form, threw 104 strides. Stigend threw 97 strides. Dan came next; the Eorling spear seemed heavy and unwieldy in his hand. He gave it his best first try; the spear wobbled as it flew, for 48 strides. Harreld was next. The others expected much from him for his smithiying strength of arm. He blushed and shrugged, but also allowed the praise to go to his head and threw overhard so that the spear flew too low and landed early for 77 strides. Thornden was next and with little comment, threw for 79 strides. Osmund displayed fine form and threw for 100 strides. Æthelstan did well at 103 strides. Experienced Balvir, his face a closed book of concentration, threw his spear for 110 strides. Degas came last. His arm looked a little slim and the others did not expect much from his heft. His throw flew 86 strides, better than they expected but well short of the longest strides.

Lithor marked the spots of the competitors' first throws, and they retrieved their spears for the next round. Erbrand had learned a thing or two from his first throw as well as watching the others and threw for 100 strides. Crabannan raised a brow at that, then threw for 113 strides. Stigend reached back and with a grunt threw 109. Dan, like Erbrand, had been watching the others and had noted how strength alone was only half the equation, the other half being form in throw and followthrough. He had been practicing behind the others, mirroring their throws, and now tossed for 109 strides himself, to the shock and praise of the others. Harreld, humbled by his last throw, shut out the comments of all the others, and with a face of concentration seen mostly in his smithy, gave heft: 91 strides. He shouted in frustration and paced about, paying little heed to the others' throws as he practiced his motion for the duration. Thornden threw 94 strides. Osmund was proving to be almost Crabannan's equal: 110 strides. Æthelstan threw 74, well short of his first throw. Balvir was next and bettered his previous throw by 8 strides: 108. Degas threw 94 strides.

After two rounds Crabannan had the best distance at 113 strides, followed by Osmund at 110, with Stigend and Dan close behind at 109, Balvir at 108. They all agreed that the third round promised to be quite interesting. Wiclred teased Eodwine, who was shifting uncomfortably in his chair at Harreld's difficulties.

The marks were marked and the spears were retrieved, and the third round began. Erbrand threw 80 strides. Crabannan threw 106; his previous throw of 113 would have to hold. Stigend threw 98. Dan's vast improvement from first to second throw had the leaders worried, but his third slipped from his grasp a little and he made only 68. Harreld came next, and taking a running start, tossed with all his might high and long, for 124 strides. A roar went up from the watchers; Eodwine jumped out of his chair and threw his fist in the air.

"Well done, Harreld," Crabannan said."

"My thanks, Crabannan."

Thornden threw next: 74 strides. Osmund tried Harreld's ploy of running to the line, but did not have the skill of it, and threw 98 strides. Æthelstan's throw slipped from his hand and he made 69 strides. Balvir was the picture of consistency and threw 100 strides. Degas had the last throw and tried Harreld's running ploy also, but it did not match his limited strength so well, and he made 63 yards.

"Harreld has the longest throw!" cried Lithor

Next came the accuracy competition. Lithor set up a target with painted circles: a black dot surrounded by red then green then blue then white. It was 20 strides from the line of the throw. Lithor announced that the same order would throw this time, and the man who had the best throw in three tries would again be the winner.

Erbrand threw: he hit the green circle. Crabannan threw and yelled in frustration for his form was off; spear landed in the blue circle, just outside Erbrand's. Stigend threw and hit the white circle, the point of his spear wobbling just at the fringe of the target. Dan threw and hit the black center; a roar of appreciation went up from the watchers. Harreld hit the red just outside the black. Groans at his relative ill-fortune went up from the watchers. Thornden hit the green. Osmund missed the target, hitting the ground well short. Æthelstan hit the red, but not as close as Harreld. Balvir threw and his the black. Detgas threw and his spirit landed in the ground just at the foot of the target.

Lithor said, "Balvir and Dan are tied, so there will be a fourth round between them unless others hit the bull's eye and join for the extra round."

In the second round Erbrand missed wide. Crabannan improved, hitting the red just outside the bull's eye. Stigend also improved, hitting the green. Can hit the bull's eye again. Harreld also hit the bull's eye. Thornden his the white just a little closer than Stigend's wobbly hit from the previous round. Osmund hit the red, just outside the black. A roar went up at his vast improvement. Æthelstan hit the green, so his previous throw was slightly the better yet not good enough. Balvir threw into the green as well, but he had the solace of knowing he would be in it for the fourth round anyway. Degas threw and missed the target again. He frowned.

"Degas!" cried Rowenna. "I have coin riding on you! Hit the black!" Degas's brows rose and a smirk came to his face. But Saeryn was the one to notice the fire lit in his eyes. She smirked too, but held her peace; except that Eodwine, paying almost as much attention to her as to the spear throwing, had caught her look, and sobered.

The third round came. Erbrand threw and his over-concentration sent his spear into the ground at the base of the target. Crabannan knew that this was his last chance to join the fourth round. He threw and hit the black. He pumped his fist. Stigend threw and missed the target. Dan threw and hit the black a third time. Harreld, having already hit the black, was feeling very good, just the right blend of relaxation and concentration: he hit the black a second time. Thornden, Osmund, Æthelstan, and Balvir missed the target. Degas now had his last chance. Rowenna held her breath and clenched her fists, her knuckles white. He threw and hit the black.

"We have five throwers for the fourth round!" cried Lithor, "Crabannan, Dan, Harreld, Balvir, and Degas. The target will be moved back ten strides."

They lined up and took their turns, those who had not hit the black joining the appreciative crowd. Crabannan threw: at the longer distance he made the outer white circle. Dan was next to throw, and commented that this distance was outside anything he had tried before. He threw and hit the outside of the red; best throw so far. Harreld came next to the line. Ginna cried her encouragement. Harrreld smiled, took a breath, and threw. His spear landed on the very edge of the black. A roar of appreciation went up from the crowd. Next came Balvir. He matched Dan's throw, their spears piercieng the target mere inches apart. Last came Degas. Rowenna cried her encouragement while Saeryn merely smiled. He threw. His spaer landed in the black, just closer than Harrreld's.

Lithor shook his head. "We shall have to go a fifth round between Harreld and Degas." He moved the target back another ten strides.

Harreld came up to the line first and aimed. He threw. He missed the target wide. Degas came to the line. He aimed. He threw. Everybody held their breath as the spear flew. It seemed to be flying toward the target. It hit, on the outside of the red; not the black, but closer than further. Degas had won.
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Old 11-01-2008, 08:58 AM   #318
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Degas shook out his arm, walking back to Rowenna, Saeryn, and Eodwine.

He bowed theatrically to Rowenna. Another time he might have hesitated, afraid of the little known woman taking his dramatics for mockery, but the laughter that lit her face made her more lovely than he had ever seen her, and he matched her with a smile.

"What think you, Rowenna?" he asked, "Will that be sufficient for now?"
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Old 11-01-2008, 04:03 PM   #319
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As mighty Harreld had hauled back and flung the quivering ash spear a staggering 124 strides, Crabannan had made a hasty mental note to never, never get on Harreld's bad side. Crabannan knew that with his superior quickness and endurance, he could probably beat Harreld in a fight, but he had no desire to find out how many bones he would almost certainly break in the process.

After the competition, Wilcred came alongside Crabannan, while the tall man was holding something very like a conversation with Harreld. (There were a great deal of nods, cheerful grunts, and monosyllabics being exchanged.)

Wilcred clapped Crabannan on the shoulder. "Where did you learn to throw a spear, my friend?" he cried in mock disgust. "You just lost me two gold coins!"

Crabannan did not know Wilcred very well, andwas startled for a moment out of his good humor; but when he realized that Wilcred was speaking in jest, he unfurrowed his brows quickly enough. He even smiled a little and cast about for a suitable mock apology.

Wilcred continued. "In truth, though, where did you learn the spear? You nearly matched our Harreld, and there are few Rohirrim who can say the same."

"Wherever it was, it seems it wasn't enough, eh?" Crabannan said, leaving the question unanswered. "Harreld earned that one. But Degas now - I think he surprised all of us. Maybe even his sister."

Wilcred nodded, chuckled, and said, "Aye" several times, but Harreld simply said, "They made a man out of him in Gondor."

"Well, Crabannan. If you handle any other weapons as well as the spear, I'll be wagering on you again in the later games. Don't let me down this time!" said Wilcred, as he turned to go. Walking away, he continued to shake his head in disbelief. Under his breath, he said, "I haven't seen a spear thrown like that in fifteen years."
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Old 11-01-2008, 05:35 PM   #320
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Rowenna

"What think you, Rowenna?" he asked, "Will that be sufficient for now?"

"Most sufficient, Lord Degas," she replied, smiling, and turned to Eodwine. "Lord Eodwine, you owe me an Eorl. Pay up, if you please!"

"First I require two Eorls from Garstan for Harreld's win in the distance, and one for Dan's loss in the target."

"Ach, I am going to be a poor man indeed if I bet anymore this night!" Garstan commented, dropping three gold coins in Eodwine's palm. He passed one to Saeryn, indicating that she should give it to Rowenna, who took it and put it between her teeth and bit down.

"What," said Garstan, "do you think my coin false, Rowenna?"

"Not at all," she replied with a grin, "but it always pays to be sure." She turned to Degas. "My lord, you may not know it, but as you are now lord in The Folde, that makes you my liege. Will you be going there soon?"
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