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Old 05-05-2008, 10:02 AM   #81
shaggydog
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Oeric stepped nimbly from tussock to tussock. His childhood years spent on the borders of this marsh had imprinted upon his mind the qualities of land and water which allowed the trained eye to step on semi-solid ground, as opposed to sinking knee or thigh deep in water, or worse, muddy silt. To the unwary or ignorant, these bogs could even spell death, if one should happen to tread unwittingly onto the treacherous, shifting and sucking mix of water and soil beneath. He breathed heavily though, more from nervousness than from haste. The land about lay in fairly flat, rolling plain, making it difficult to come very close to the budding camp without detection. That one of their members should be up and out in the marsh this early in the day was not really a surprise. Oeric assumed they would be sending out scouts, hunters, workers to gather whatever natural materials the marsh could provide for their building and cooking needs. But he had been foolish to have taken a path which exposed him more than was necessary.

He had thought originally to circle around to the far border where clumps of scrubby willow provided good cover for an approach. But the emptiness in his stomach had prompted him to choose a path which would take him past the berry patches. It was still early in the summer for many of the fruit to have ripened, but there might be one or two lingonberry bushes which he might have stripped of their bounty. He was no hunter and these last weeks had left their mark in the pinched lines of his face and the looseness of his clothes. What few bits of food he had managed to scavenge from the ruins of Sorn’s hall had long since been consumed. Even in his grief, Oeric’s body had persistently insisted upon being maintained, and so, he had chosen the path which had led him almost right into the arms of one of the newcomers. If the man hadn’t fallen and alerted Oeric to his presence, any choice of how and when Oeric made contact with the new lord’s people would certainly have been taken from him.

The searchers that came hard on the heels of the lone man had found nothing but air and water and the call of birds. Oeric knew though that he would now have to be much more wary, and his ability to watch the strangers undetected would be seriously hindered. As much as he wished otherwise, he determined to fetch his few belongings from the ruined shed and make his way into the heart of the marsh. There he could be fairly sure he could live, at least for a short while, unmolested. How long was very dependent upon his food situation. But, he thought with a grim smile, with so many near, and wagons of supplies, that might not be such a problem after all.
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Old 05-06-2008, 06:34 AM   #82
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“Hello, Searyn of the Folde, I am Rowenna. Welcome!”

Saeryn looked at her as though she didn’t understand. Her weary mind was trying to ask how the stranger knew her name and where she came from. Finally, she shook it off and remembered herself. She returned Rowenna’s welcoming smile with as bright a one as she could muster up.

“Thank you, Rowenna, for your welcome.” She bent her head and her shoulders in a slight bow. She straightened with a troubled look on her face. “I – uh,” she felt herself sway, and the world seemed to turn before her eyes. She shook her head clear and tried to steel herself. Perhaps bowing was a bad idea. But inside she knew anything would be a bad idea. Her legs could barely support her weight and she was thirsty to the core.

How to get past Rowenna, to the friends waiting just a little ways away? How to do it without being obvious?

“I need to see Eodwine,” she blurted out abruptly. There went whatever tack she hoped to retain. And why had she used his name? She knew she had to see him, but she didn’t want to yet.

“He’s over here,” Rowenna replied.
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:59 AM   #83
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Rowenna

This Saeryn took her time replying. Then Rowenna realized that she was unwell.

"I need to see Eodwine."

Rowenna took a step closer. "He is near. I will take you to him. Come, let me help you."

Rowenna stood beside her so that Saeryn could put her arm through the crook of Rowenna's elbow.

"Léoðern, dear, go fetch Módtryth, won't you? Bring her to here so she can help the Lady Saeryn."

The girl ran off with her important task, ducking between the legs of the onlookers.

As the Rowenna and Saeryn walked toward the half circle, Saeryn stumbling along half awake, it seemed, Léof came with a cup of water.

"Here, drink." They stopped and Saeryn took the cup in her free hand and brought it to her mouth.

Eodwine

She was unwell. What was she doing on the open road, alone, if she was unwell? Either it was of great urgency or she was running from something again; maybe both. It seemed something was always the matter with her, in one way or another.

It occurred to Eodwine, as he waited for Saeryn to get her bearings, that he was being a little harsh in his musings, and he asked himself why. There was a chagrin about her showing up of a sudden this morning. Surprises had been happening for the last twenty four hours one after another, so it could not be that. So it had to do with Saeryn herself. Why, Eodwine? Because she refused me. Which makes it all the stranger that she turns up again. He tried to muster some sympathy, and stepped from the half circle and drew near.

"I am here, Lady Saeryn. I greet you. What may I do for you?"
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:40 PM   #84
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Dan had been walking around the camp for a while when he could see two boys following him. What were they up to?
"Hello. I'm Cnebba," said a small boy in an even smaller voice.
"He is son of Stigend, the carpenter", the older boy added in a serious tone of voice, "I am Garmund, son of Garstan the Stoneshaper. What is your name?"
He had just moved his mouth to answer, when he heard the first boy, Cnebba apparently, asked another question.
"And what are you?"

My name is Dan, but if you want to be formal then I am Daghan-turi-Dan, son of Mandan of the same, and I am a Drûg, or what yo"u people would call a Púkel-man. I have come from far away to help your Lord Eodwine"

He looked at the two boys' expressions of wonder, and curiosity that only a child can have.
He warmed to them. They reminded him of his own past, that young curious time, when everything was an aventure.
"Perhaps you would like to hear a tale?" he asked.

The two boys nodded their heads vigorously. Dan chuckled quietly to himself.
"Ok, where to begin. Well....." and Dan told the two boys about the exciting "adventures" had had so far in his life, and about the way of the Púkel-men, and how they lived, what they did and so on. And slowly their slight fear of him melted away, and he stoppedd being that odd person in the corner to be avoided, but a living breathing, proper person.

At one point who could see what he assumed was the boys' mother looking sternly at them, but he gave her a reassuring smile and carried on talking. Their mother looked like the worrying sort. But most people were afraid, or at least slightly suspicious of a Drûg, because that sort of ignorance usually leads to fear and prejudice.

------

It was about an hour later, probably more, and Dan had been in the baker for a while now. As he had gone in, people had given him strange looks, and shifted aside as he went past. He assumed that they had never seen a Drûg before. BUt then again, the Drûghu were a dying breed, so to speqak. In the old days, they had covered all the lands of Edain, and some had even gone to Númenor. Now, they were down to the last few families in the Old Land.

He had found himself a corner of the baker in which to sit. He sat there, in the absolutely still, silent, and completely observant yet unthinking way of his people.

He was still waiting for a formal welcome of himself by Eodwine, but that had not yet happened. The new man, (Erbrand, was it?) had suddenly run to Eodwine and in quick speech had told him something. He oculd not hear what it was above all he murmuring, but he could tell that it was bad, because Eodwine had gone off with him towards the marshes, and returned, soaking wet and muddy. He made a note to himself to talk to Erbrand later. He might be able to help.

Then, a newcomer had appeared out of nowhere, sick and tired on her horse. Many seemed to know her from somewhere, but he did not have time to ask. "Saeryn of the Folde" they called her. He wondered which "Folde" it was. As far as her clothes told, she was important, probably some form of nobility. He went out with everyone else to greet her. By Eodwine's reaction, he could tell that there had been some tension between them at some point, but he was trying to hide it. He'd have to talk to her sometime today.

But right now, he really needed that breakfast.

Last edited by Eönwë; 05-13-2008 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:11 PM   #85
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The water coursed down her thirsty throat in one, long cool stream. She did not lower it from her mouth until it had been completely drained. Then she handed it back to Léof. She turned again to walk forward, leaning on Rowenna’s arm, but she did not need to. Eodwine had come near.

“I am here, Lady Saeryn. I greet you. What may I do for you?”

“My lord.” Saeryn tried to bow again. Only Rowenna kept her from falling. Saeryn struggled to look up at him. She wanted to reach out and touch him, to talk to him without these people acting as witnesses. Or at least find something to say other than what she really needed to say. But her mind did not allow her to think. She struggled with pain and weariness. “I seek your protection again, at least for a time.”
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:00 PM   #86
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Eodwine

Protection again. This meant her brother, most likely, had found her and sought - no - hunted her. A reasonable guess. Could the king and queen not give her safeguard from her brother? Or had she not been in Edoras? Had she gone back to the Folde, which would have been the height of folly? These questions and many more flitted through his mind in an instant.

Just then Modtryth jostled her way through the half circle. "Enough of you gawkers!" She cried. "Go find breakfast and leave the Lady Saeryn in peace!" Modtryth joined Rowenna, holding onto Saeryn's other arm. "Come, dear, we shall find you a place to sit."

"Thank you, Modtryth," Eodwine said. "I will clear the closest table. Bring her there."

Eodwine turned and walked quickly in the direction of the baker and found that the semi-circle of gawkers had grown. "You heard the goodwife! Go eat breakfast! I will give you what news is useful for all ears when I have learned it myself."

The crowd dispersed in the general direction of the baker. Eodwine strode to the makeshift kitchen fires and found Kara, Frodides, and Ginna busy in preparation for breakfast. He told them Saeryn had returned and needed food and drink, and to see to her needs first; then he found the table he wanted, sat down, and waited for the three women.

At last Saeryn was situated across from him, leaning on the table with both elbows. Modtryth sat beside her and Rowenna stood behind her apparently ready to be useful; that was good. Eodwine looked up at her and smiled by way of acknowledgement. She returned his smile quickly and looked down at Saeryn again.

After Saeryn had been given food and drink by Ginna, and had a chance to refresh herself, Eodwine broke the silence.

"Does your brother hunt you again?"
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Old 05-09-2008, 03:19 PM   #87
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"Can I help you with those?" someone had asked. To her surprise, Modtryth had seen Javan. She had felt a bit bad about speaking badly of the lad who now seemed to do his best to help the people of the Hall. She had been about to refuse and maybe give the lad a nicer duty, when her thought had been interrupted by Lèođern's cry.

"Modtryth! Modtryth! Saeryn is back!"
"Lady Saeryn? Here now?"
"Yes, Eodwine wants you to help her!"

She had thought of asking the girl if the Lady was alright, but had decided that it would have only worried the girl. Nothing was terribly unwell, clearly, as the girl seemed so cheery. Modtryth had turned back to Javan.

"Yes, you actually can help me, lad. Take these buckets to kitchen. They're quite heavy, it might be better to take just one at a time and come back for the other later."

She had smiled, but the lad's expression had been serious, if not even defiant. He had picked both the buckets, nodded politely and turned to make his way to the kitchen.

She had not said anything, merely shaken her head. She had then turned to Lèođern and smiled. "Go after him," she had told the girl in a low voice, "and help him if he needs help." The girl had nodded gravely and sprung after the boy. Modtryth knew the small girl would be of no assistance to Javan and he would be too proud to accept the help in any case, but at least there was one thing less to worry about when she knew where Lèođern was.

Modtryth had hurried away to see Lady Saeryn. Only then had she remembered that the lads were still with the weird woodman, but she hoped they were sensible enough not to make an enemy of him, and knew there would be other people of the Hall around so the wildman could not harm them.

Then she had caught a glimpse of Saeryn and forgotten about the boys. She seemed so tired, so weak. People had gathered around her, merely gawking at her. Didn't they see that what she needed was definitely not a crowd standing idly and staring at her, not helping her or anything?

"Enough of you gawkers!" Modtryth cried. "Go find breakfast and leave the Lady Saeryn in peace!"

Modtryth then joined Rowenna, who was already there, holding onto Saeryn's other arm. Modtryth wondered how the woman always managed to be where things happened. Then she turned to the young noblewoman she had always respected, and saw the exhausted and lost expression on her face.

"Come, dear, we shall find you a place to sit," she said softly but firmly. Saeryn nodded and smiled faintly, but didn't say a word.

"Thank you, Modtryth," Lord Eodwine said. "I will clear the closest table. Bring her there."

He drove the gawkers away and Modtryth and Rowenna helped Saeryn walk. Lord Eodwine sat down and the serving women helped the young lady to sit opposite to him. Modtryth sat beside her, to support her if needed - both physically and mentally. Everything was not alright.

Soon Ginna came with food and drink for Saeryn. A silence fell.

After a while, Lord Eodwine spoke. "Does your brother hunt you again?"

Modtryth saw the pained expression on Saeryn's face. She bit her tongue lightly. She admired Lord Eowdine's honest manner and she herself was sometimes so straightforward that she could be called brusque, but still the Lord's question didn't seem appropriate. It felt unfair to pose such a question to a young woman in Saeryn's current state.

She rebuked herself for such a thought. Lord Eodwine just did what he had to do, like he always did.
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:05 PM   #88
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Javan

Lèođern bounced up to Javan’s side. “Saeryn’s back, did you know?”

Javan nodded, setting his face and trying not to let anyone see how he strained to carry the buckets of water. They were heavy, but he would do it – or bust.

“She’s a real lady, you know?”

Javan didn’t know, so he didn’t nod this time. He had reached the kitchen and he set down the buckets, exhaling a sigh as his muscles relaxed. He rubbed his palms together and looked outward to see Saeryn, between Rowenna and Modtryth. “She looks awfully spent, don’t you think?” he commented to Lèođern.

The girl hadn’t noticed before. She turned around to look, too. “I guess so,” she said slowly.

“Well. Let’s see about breakfast, and then I’m going to see if Stigend needs any help today.”

Saeryn

Saeryn cursed her weakness. She should not be so near collapsing. She was stronger than this. But there could be no denying that her body was thankful for the support on both sides of her as Modtryth and Rowenna escorted her to a table.

The food was wonderful and warm. Saeryn would have been perfectly happy to eat and drink and then lie down and sleep for a week, but…

“Does your brother hunt you again?”

Saeryn looked up from her plate. The way she jumped when he spoke might say many things to those watching her.

“No. My brother does not hunt me. He will never hunt anything again. Fenrir was killed and I barely escaped.” And not without scathing, she almost added, but she held her tongue. She was about to speak again when she realized she had not bitten her tongue soon enough, actually. She cast a wary glance in Eodwine’s direction. He had not known that she had gone back to the Folde, so that would have been news to him.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:00 AM   #89
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Saeryn back? Now here was some news. And in such a state? There must be a story. As Léof had run to fetch her some water he had been trying to piece together the pieces of her story that he knew that might account for her present state. Something about her brother, he knew, had earlier driven her to the Mead Hall, but he could remember few details – and the situation concerning her later departure seemed even more secretive.

No sooner had he offered her a drink of water than Modtryth came up crying, “Enough of you gawkers! Go find breakfast and leave the Lady Saeryn in peace!" Now, he had hardly been gawking. Not at first. But now as he stood there rather uselessly without further instructions, well, maybe he had been gawking. Sort of.

He didn’t argue the point, though; Modtryth was probably right. One of those motherly sensibilities. Breakfast did sound like a good idea, besides; and then he had work to do. He wanted to at least walk the perimeter of the horse pasture and discover what repairs needed to be made, whether with new wood or if the old would suffice. If new horses kept arriving at this rate, between Erbrand’s last night and now Saeryn’s too, his temporary set up would not hold up for long. And perhaps at breakfast he might find some willing hands to help.

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Old 05-10-2008, 09:30 PM   #90
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Breakfast came a bit later than usual, and Ginna was partly at fault: she moved more slowly than she normally did for lack of sleep. Her adventure the night before with Dan had left her restless, tossing and turning in bed for hours, and it seemed only a second after she had finally surrendered consciousness when Kara came over where she lay and roused her. It was a good thing that none of the women had noticed her departure during the night, but her eyes drooped so that she was forced to abandon any task which involved the use of a knife, for fear of losing control of her hand and wounding herself.

The women had been working silently in the kitchen when Eodwine arrived with the news that the Lady Saeryn had arrived and required food and drink. The name vaguely registered with Ginna. She knew Saeryn had left the day she arrived in the former Mead Hall, but she had never thought much about her. Why did she leave, and what brought her back? It was not the time to seek answers for her queries, however; she had been given the honour, as it were, of serving breakfast to the guest - if guest she could be called.

As she placed food and drink before Saeryn, Ginna tried to take in as much of the lady as she could in the few seconds she had. Her face clearly showed weariness almost beyond her threshold - perhaps it was coupled with sadness? But however weak she had appeared, Ginna was certain it was against her will. Saeryn looked a few years younger than she, but here was one from whom Ginna could learn a lot about proper carriage and bearing.

She returned to Kara and Frodides and then began to serve the rest of the household their morning meal, commencing with the strange figure she found sitting apart from the others.

"Good morning, Dan," she greeted as she handed him food and drink. "I hope you slept well?"
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:18 PM   #91
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Eodwine at table with Saeryn, Modtryth, and Rowenna

“Does your brother hunt you again?”

Saeryn looked up from her plate. The way she jumped when he spoke might say many things to those watching her.

“No. My brother does not hunt me. He will never hunt anything again. Fenrir was killed and I barely escaped.”

"So you were back home again." Eodwine had had a hunch that she had gone there. "What happened?"

“Well, yes,” Saeryn began slowly. “Yes, I went back home.” Her brow knit slightly, then, as she concentrated on how to answer his second question. ‘What happened? How should she answer that? Her right hand crept about and pressed against her left side almost without her thinking.

“There was an upheaval,” she said at last. “A…that is, one like what happened here, maybe.” She nodded in the direction of the burned ruins.

Eodwine noticed Saeryn's hand stray to her left side. Did she have an injury? She had not yet said what she had come to say, and Eodwine now scolded himself for steering the talk away from her need and toward his own wish to know . . . what he could hope for and trust from her. Inwardly he scowled at himself for the apparent bitterness he harbored over her rejection. Eodwine, do you care about this Eorling lady or do you not? He was sure that he did, and that he still did care for her as well, although he was unsure he wished it to become more than that.

So with his mien softened, he said, "Forgive me. I have sought after news when I should have asked you to say what you came to say. Please say what you need to."

Searyn sat up a little straighter and seemed to draw herself together for a previously planned speech. But what came out was quite simple.

“I have come to ask you if I could stay here again. I have no place else to go.”

Eodwine's brows lowered briefly in confusion. "Of course you may. I wonder that you believe that you need to ask. However, with the passing of your brother, it seems that you no longer need the protection you once required. I am sorry for your loss." There was still unsettled the matter of what she would be to him, and he to her, on more than one level. "What role do you seek here in Scarburg?" There. It was an open ended question, and she could choose to answer it on as many levels as she chose. He schooled himself not to expect or hope for more than was meet. He glanced up a moment at Rowenna, who had quietly listened to everything; he could see in her eyes that her mind was busy at work, whether with implications or questions he could not guess.

Searyn tried to keep all her senses together. She felt weariness creep in again with all these questions being asked all at once. Still, she tried to answer. “What role do I seek?” Then she stopped, realizing suddenly what he might be asking her – what he could be asking her. Her answer likewise could be any number of things.

She felt confused, disoriented, as though her mind were closing like a door with crooked hinges, always prone to shut without being pushed. She tried to rise, and tried to retain control of the situation. “My lord,” she began, but stopped. She had sat back down again, her legs refused to obey. Her hand again went to her side and it didn’t leave. She leaned her forehead on her left hand, murmuring, “I am sorry, my lord, I am so sorry.”

Eodwine was surprised by how unwell Saeryn apparently was. It was time to end talk and take action. "Ladies, it appears that Saeryn is not as well as we thought. Take her to the women's tent and see to her needs. Modtryth, I place her in your care. When you have done all you can, send Rowenna to tell me what you have learned."

Modtryth, who had followed the discussion in silence, brow furrowed, nodded. "Yes, my lord. I'll take care of her. Come, Saeryn. Can you walk if Rowenna and I help you?"

Saeryn nodded and raised her head and with Modtryth and Rowenna once more walking on both sides of her and giving her support, she was led to the women's tent.

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Old 05-13-2008, 09:21 PM   #92
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Scyld

He was back, come full circle, to the place where he had thought he was never to return. Scyld, traitor to his master, semi-repentant traitor to the crown, homeless, friendless, and without clear purpose, had returned after several months’ wandering to the lands of Sorn.

Except they no longer belonged to Sorn. Sorn was dead, his property mysteriously destroyed by looters and by fire, and his lands gone to the new Eorl. The first two conditions, he rejoiced in. The third, he wished not to accept. Let this unhappy corner of the world remain so, squabbled over by nearby villagers, or simply left as a smoking ruin. The land should fall with the master. To make it a seat of power was hardly to be borne.

But the pull to this place was deeper still. The new Eorl and his household were the friends of which Linduial had spoken so fondly, and in some part of him he wanted to observe these people and discover who they were. He had made his way to Edoras, finally, where he had found the information he desired free for the hearing. Linduial had found her way safely back to Dol Amroth, and it was rumored that she was to become some sort of ambassador to Edoras. He had also learned much about the Eorl, though much of what he heard about the man’s character puzzled him, and had heard the alarming news of the pending move to Sorn’s lands – Scarburg, now they were calling it. A fitting name.

Not, of course, that he had been so foolish to dance into Edoras proclaiming his name and business. He did not fear his face would be recognized, but what of his name? Would Linduial have told that to anyone? He did not trust that she had kept silent on that point, since she seemed to think that he would gain pardon, nor did he trust that he would receive pardon if any discovered his true identity. So he had styled himself as a jack of all trades from the West Emnet seeking honest work closer to the heart of the country, calling himself Nydfara – fugitive, exile. He was both. A presumed fugitive from the law with none to whom he would entrust his own safety, and a self-proclaimed exile from the community surrounding Sorn’s holdings. He was neither loved nor trusted there, as one far too close to Sorn’s interests; people in that community had always kept their heads down and their business amongst themselves whenever possible, fearing Sorn’s retribution. The new Eorl, he thought, would not find them a very tractable group. Wary of authority, whether of Sorn’s meld specifically or the powers higher up who let him run free, they fended for themselves and protected their own. No, Scyld did not wish to return to these people who knew his name and connection to Sorn.

And yet, here he was, encamped in the same stony ridge where Sorn had died while Linduial and he had parted. He did not yet know his purpose, only that he felt a sense of unfinished business, and that with these people and in this place that he might find closure. Whatever that meant.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:13 PM   #93
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Eodwine

Eodwine stood and called everyone to heed his announcements for the day. As they stayed their speech and looked his way, he took in the assemblage. Except for Modtryth, Rowenna, and Saeryn in the women's tent, all were there. They numbered six and twenty, not including Falco, who would be leaving them that day. Others had come and gone, such as the lad Trystan and the Gondorian sailor - Eodwine could not remember his name - who had apparently helped the condemned brigand escape, whose name started with 'G' - Eodwine couldn't remember his name either. And Nain the Dwarf had gone to see kin in the Glittering Caves of Aglarond. They were a big group nonetheless, and growing at a surprising rate, even since having arrived just the day before at Scarburg!

"Good morning to you all! We have much to do today now that you have all been helped to some fare to break your fast.

"First, we have had three new folk come to join us here at Scarburg. Many of you remember Saeryn of the Folde who has just returned this morning. I have put her in Modtryth's care for now, though Æðel is welcome to join her if more dire healing skills are needed.

"Erbrand also came to us yesterday. Rise and be welcomed!" Erbrand did so to cheers and general welcome.

"And last night, one of the Drúg-men, came to us in good will as an emissary from his folk, to help us settle here using the special skills of his folk. His name is Dan. Welcome!" Again there were cheers and words of welcome, and more staring eyes than there had been for Erbrand who was of course typical of the Eorlings.

Welcomes and introductions out of the way, Eodwine described the tasks for the day. First, Léof would need help constructing proper holding pens for the animals. Second, a hunting party would be formed to provide food for nigh unto thirty. Third, a group let by Stigend would be needed to go into the swamps to find good timber to bring for the new hall. Fourth, two tents would need to be set up for Garstan's and Stigend's families, as Eodwine had promised this to them the day before. Eodwine asked for volunteers to help out with each task. This took longer than he wished, as there was good natured haggling to be done in terms of who would be best suited to which tasks. It reminded Eodwine of his childhood days when boys and girls picked teams for games. Finally that was all decided and most folk seemed happy with their chosen or assigned tasks.

"Finally, my friends, I have one more bit of business. Falco Boffin, our very own Holbytlan, wishes to say a few words."

Falco stood and climbed onto the table nearest Eodwine, and bowed with a flourish.

"My dear friends, it has been an honor these many months to live among you." Falco paused. It seemed he expected a response of some kind. None coming, he frowned, cleared his throat, and continued. "Mind you, it has been somewhat of a trial at times, getting used to the ways of Big Folk who don't seem to understand the finer - - er - the ways of us hobbits. Be that as it may!" he rushed on, "I would like to tell you that I have liked half of you half as well as I ought to have, and have ribbed some of you twice as much as you deserved."

Difficult as this may have been, Eodwine smirked and there were titters and chuckles around the gathering. Falco beamed.

"So it is with some regret that I have made my decision to travel back to the Shire, starting this very morning. I will miss you, and I will bring memory of you with me back to my folk in the north. I will tell them that the folk of the Eorlings, big as they are, are in some way akin to us hobbits, and that is a very good thing. I wish you all well! Good bye!"

And with that he put his hand in his pocket, put on a ring, and did not disappear, but grinned and bowed one more time.

The assemblage broke up with many of the House of Scarburg making a point to wish Falco well on his journey. While they were busy with that, Eodwine sought out Dan of the Drugs.

"I have found you in all these folk! I have a favor to ask of you. Would you use your skills to search for the one who was seen by Erbrand yesterday? We found foot prints in the Scar area and I suppose the prints belong to the same one. What do you say?"
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Old 05-16-2008, 04:28 PM   #94
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The young girl hw had met last night had handed him some food and drink and asked him how he had slept. "Good morning, Ginna. I slept fine, thank you. And what about yourself?" Judging by her answer it seemed that she had, but he could tell otherwise. She went on, back to her duty of helping everyone break the fast.

It was not long after that somewhat brief encounter with Ginna that Eodwine began to speak, laying out the procedures for the day. And afterwards, the Eorl had come up to him and asked him to track down the stranger. His thoughts turned to his pouch. Was it time yet?. He forced his mind back with a jolt. He was sure the Eorl knew full well the tracking capabilities of the Drûgs, and he, Daghan-turi-Dan, was one of those that were talented among the Drûgs at it. He could follow a scennt for says, except through running water, and hear from further away than most men could see.

"Aye! I accept. But I ask if Erbrand can leave his duties for a while to show me where you say this man, and moreover, tell me, what are your plands for this intruder?
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:51 PM   #95
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Dan's face was as unreadable as Eodwine had heard about the Drugs, but his willingness to help was evident in his words.

"Erbrand may of course show you. As for plans, I have not made any yet, for I do not know who the man is nor what if anything he has done, except to hide from us. When you find him and if he comes to us willingly, then we will make his acquaintance. If he is unwilling to come, I must know why, for it is my duty to protect my folk."

Dan seemed to consider himself answered with a single nod, and went to Erbrand who stood not far away, preparing himself to join the hunting party. Eodwine watched Dan explain, and when Erbrand looked to Eodwine, he gave a nod of agreement. The two started off toward the edge of Scarburg.

Eodwine saw that preparations ran apace around him. He was going to give his aid to helping Léof with the animal pens, but first he wanted to know how things stood with the latest newcomer. He walked to the women's tent and called.

Rowenna showed up at the entrance.

"How does our newest guest fare?"

"I do not know for sure, lord. I will go ask Modtryth."

"Very well. You will find me among Léof's help."

Rowenna went back into the tent with her question for Modtryth.
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Old 05-17-2008, 07:28 PM   #96
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While everyone else decided what job they would like to partake in, Javan stood to the side, wondering what he should do. He did not think that he was at liberty to choose what he wanted to do all day, but no one was telling him to do anything. As the talk went on for minutes, sorting into groups, he finally decided to approach Eodwine.

“My lord?” he said, catching Eodwine’s attention. “What shall I do?”

It did not take Eodwine very long to decide. “You can help those set up the tents.”

Javan nodded and withdrew again. He listened to Falco make his farewell speech, and then, when all the formalities were dealt with, he went in search Garstan, he being in charge of setting up the tents. As he wandered past Stigend and the men grouped around him to go hunting, his eyes lingered on them with longing. He would prefer to go with them, but wit ha sigh, he resigned himself to the job that Eodwine had directed him to take.

“I am going to help you, Mr. Garstan,” Javan said.

“Oh, very good. I would be glad to have your help.” Garstan smiled at him and Javan grinned back. “I think Garmund and Cnebba could help us as well, if they’re anywhere around...”

“I can find them,” Javan offered.

“Yes, that’d be good. I’ll meet you over there, where we’ll set up the tents.”

Javan nodded and set off to find the boys.
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:57 AM   #97
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Modtryth

Modtryth and Rowenna had brought Saeryn to the women's tent and helped her to rest. Modtryth had sent Rowenna to fetch more water for Saeryn and some extra blankets and the younger woman had obeyed, quickly, silently and expression unreadable, as always.

Saeryn rested on the makeshift bed, looking pale and keeping her eyes closed.
"Saeryn?" Modtryth asked. "You are wounded, aren't you?"
"Yes..." she replied wearily. "My left side."
"I will have a look at it. Breathe calmly and move as little as possible."

Modtryth removed Saeryn's clothes a little, revealing an ugly wound.

"Is it bad?" Saeryn asked quietly.
"It has healed. But it looks like the wound is starting to fester... I would be reluctant to see to it myself, you need a proper healer, or at least someone with more knowledge about these things than me."

Modtryth's face was grave. She wondered who in the camp could have much more than the basic knowledge she had. She did not know where the healer woman Ædhel was.

She tried to smile. "What you need the most is rest, though, and that at least, we can give you immediately. You will be alright."

At that moment, Rowenna came back. She brought the blankets and a big pint full of water and laid both of them close to Saeryn's bed. Then she turned to Modtryth.

"Lord Eodwine enquires how our newest guest fares," she said.
"Tell him that she is not in great danger, but she needs Ædhel to see her. And if it eases his heart, you may tell him most of her weakness is probably due to exhaustion," Modtryth replied.

~*~

Cnebba

"I'm the chief," Garmund declared.
"No, I want to be the chief," Cnebba replied.
Garmund shot him an annoyed glance. "Well you can be the chief of the neighbouring tribe, then."
Cnebba eyed his friend a little suspiciously, but agreed.
"I am Bam-Dam-Bam, the greatest tracker there ever was!" Garmund said.
"I am Gong-Bong-Bong, the Orc-slayer and the greatest droogy warrior of all time," Cnebba decided.
Garmund looked a little annoyed. "I can also make pookeymen," he then said, "I'm the best pookeyman maker in Middle-Earth!"

The two Drûg-chiefs started as friends, but soon started quarreling as Bam-Dam-Bam's pookeyman attacked Gong-Bong-Bong and he killed it. (Although, Garmund claimed that pookeymen can't be killed.)

Then Cnebba saw Javan coming to their direction. "Ooh, an Orc!" he cried. "Let's ambush it!"
"Yes, let's hide in the tree like proper droogies do!"

The boys climbed to the small lone tree growing close to the camp.

"He's coming closer!" Cnebba whispered.
"Shh! Don't be so loud, he can hear us," Garmund replied very quietly.

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Old 05-19-2008, 08:14 AM   #98
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Saeryn

Saeryn lay still, taking Modtryth’s advice of moving as little as possible. But it was harder to breathe calmly. At first, she was calm as Modtryth uncovered and inspected the wound, but when Rowenna returned and brought a question from Eodwine, and when Modtryth replied, she could not help the extra beat in her heart. Her eyes opened slowly and then closed again almost at once.

What were these strange thoughts and emotions? She hadn’t come back because she wanted to change her answer and marry him. She told that to herself often. But did Eodwine still want her as wife? Was that what his question had been earlier? She had sensed that before, right as he had asked it, and she had not been able to answer. What if she had had the strength to answer? What then would she have said?

She disliked these thoughts. They were troublesome and confusing. But she knew they had to be faced. Either that, or she must run again.

A groan escaped her lips. She turned her head away from Modtryth to hide the grimace of mental turmoil. She’d done enough running, and she couldn’t run now even if she wanted to.

If she could not face Eodwine and these decisions, why had she come back?

---

Javan


Javan heard voices up ahead. They were young and childish, and quarreling, so they probably belonged to the very people he was searching for. He had to round the tents to come to them, and when he finally came around, no one was there, and all was quiet. He looked back the way he had come, and up between the tents, but the boys were not there.

“H’m,” he thought aloud. “They must be somewhere around here. Cnebba! Garmund! Come on, we’ve got to get to work.”

There was a movement in the tree ahead. He hurried forward and looked up through the leaves. They were both perched on the branch right above his head, and before he could get the first word out of his sentence ‘Garstan’s waiting for us’, they had both jumped, landing right on him.

“‘ere! What’s the meaning of this! Ge’ off me!”

“Don’t let ‘im escape, Dam-Bam!” cried Cnebba.

“Well, you keep your own side under control, and I’ll keep mine!” The boys were grasping at his arms and shoulders, pinning him to the ground. The element of surprise had certainly worked in their favor.

Javan strained to get up, angry at being ambushed like this and pinned by two boys younger than he. He quickly realized he could not escape from Garmund’s grasp - the boy, although three years younger than he, was taller by a head that Javan - so he concentrated his force on his right side, with which Cnebba grappled.

He shook himself loose of Cnebba and twisted about to grab Garmund. With a heave of his body, he rose up, and they rolled over several times on the ground. When they stopped, Javan was on top. He paused, thinking about what he should do, and had decided not to continue fighting and just deliver his message from Garstan and get up and go when Cnebba attacked him from the side, knocking him off Garmund.

“Now, stop!” Javan shouted, his temper snapping. “Quit it! I came to get you two because Garstan wants your help with the tents!”

Last edited by Folwren; 05-19-2008 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:46 AM   #99
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Rowenna

If it eases his heart? What if anything would his heart have to do with Lady Saeryn's condition? The moment the question was raised in Rowenna's mind, she knew. She felt a sudden weight drop inside, and she knew its name: dread. This was a noblewoman, wellborn and therefore marriageable to such as Eorl Eodwine. And she was beautiful. Why else would she come back if not to allow herself to be courted?

These thoughts raced through Rowenna's mind as she walked to the tent's entrance to relay Modtryth's message. Such a formidable rival Rowenna knew she could not abide! And here, she had thought to make a friend of her! She would have to give all appearances of friendship, for she would need to have this Saeryn's confidence. That much was certain. It was her only hope. But what to say to the Eorl?

She came to the entrance. He was standing just outside. Her heart raced.

"She is in need of a healer, lord. Is there one here?" Maybe she could suggest that the girl be sent to Edoras for healing. But she kept her tongue in her mouth as to that.

"We have one here," Eodwine replied. "I should have thought of her sooner. Æðel is her name. I will fetch her."

With that, the Eorl was gone on his new errand, and Rowenna had not even needed to pass on the extra tidbit Modtryth had supplied. Ease his heart? Rowenna was determined that she must be the one to ease his heart, and no other.

She returned to Modtryth and Saeryn and smiled as warmly as she knew how.

"Lord Eodwine has gone to fetch the one called Æðel. How are you feeling, Saeryn?"
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:10 AM   #100
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“Lord Eodwine has gone to fetch the one called Æðel. How are you feeling, Saeryn?” The voice came from right beside her, but Saeryn did not comprehend for a moment. When she realized that she was being spoken to, her head jerked about and her eyes flew open.

“I am well, I am fine,” she said at first. “No.” She was among friends, she could be honest. “I need to sleep. Please let me sleep.” Rowenna nodded and Saeryn turned her head away again.

Lord Eodwine knew that she was wounded. She had not wanted to worry him. He would be worried enough. Hot tears prickled behind her shut eyelids. Why must she be a burden? Her breath trembled slightly as she drew it, and then it calmed. The tears and remorse and confusion were forgotten as she drifted off into a brief sleep.
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Old 05-19-2008, 03:41 PM   #101
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Erbrand led Dan to the spot where he was watching the intruder. Dan followed silently, giving Erbrand enough time to describe the intruder’s looks and clothing.

“Which way did he go?” Dan asked at length.

“Straight towards the other end of the marsh,” responded Erbrand pointing with his hand in the direction that he saw the man flee. “I’m sure your search will not be in vain, Dan. That man looked awfully curious about our camp, and I don’t think he’s cured of it just yet. My guess is that he’s hiding somewhere amongst the brambles and bushes on the other side.” Dan’s face looked grim and determined, measuring and scoping the landscape in front of them.

“Do you think that you will need further assistance in this matter Dan? I’ll be happy to travel with you until we catch this man, but if you have no need of me I'll not bother you and I’ll go assign myself to joining the hunting party.” Dan stared ahead for a few moments seeming to take no notice of Erbrand, but he didn’t mind. Whatever Dan’s decision would be Erbrand didn’t care; either job would suit him just fine.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:58 PM   #102
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After everyone had broken their fast, Ginna gathered the soiled utensils and brought them back to the makeshift kitchen. She proceeded to help Kara wash them but Frodides called her away.

"No, girl, leave the dishes to Kara. She can do that on her own. I need you to get those repaired."

The cook pointed to a box in the corner of the kitchen, containing utensils which had become bent and broken before and during the move to Scarburg. They had sorted those out the previous day, but could not have them fixed immediately, with everyone busy getting the household all settled in.

"Bring them to the smith and stay with him until they're all fixed. Make sure he does the task right away or tell him from me he won't get any meals served to him until he's done."

Ginna had to smile at another one of Frodides's wonted affectionate threats, but exchanged a worried look with Kara. They both knew Frodides was aware of how things were between Ginna and Harreld, whether or not she overheard the ladies' conversation the day before. Kara was the first to speak.

"I'll do it."

"I need your help preparing the meals, especially now that there are more mouths to feed. And you'll just get your back broken with the weight; at least I know Ginna can carry heavy things, even if I still can't trust her with cooking."

Kara shrugged apologetically, which Ginna acknowledged with a slight nod. She took a glance at Frodides's face. The older woman looked serious enough, and Ginna realised she meant business, but she could not help wondering if Frodides had something up her sleeve. It was certainly like her to disguise her means of getting things done, one way or another. There was nothing for it, however, but for Ginna to do as she was told, so without another word she went out to look for Harreld, with the box of utensils in her arms.

She found him setting up his temporary smithy some distance from the baker, and took her time walking to scrutinise him. He went about his own work without minding the fuss around him, mainly created by the party about to set out to hunt, and Ginna could see by the way he moved almost automatically that he really knew his work. She could not help admiring his industry. But when she saw his slightly knitted brows and the tightness around his mouth she suddenly felt apprehensive. Is he thinking about me?

"Ow!"

Harreld looked around towards her. Ginna cursed silently; she had hit her foot against a particularly large stone. Without looking up she hurried towards the smith and deposited the box before him.

"Frodides wants those repaired, and told me to wait until you're done."

She saw that it was not necessary to add Frodides's threat as Harreld immediately began taking out the utensils, but her mouth longed to voice out other words: Harreld Smith, could you ever forgive me?

Instead she said aloud, "Harreld, can I help you with anything?"
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:50 AM   #103
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The Orc was whining something. Brave Gong-Bong-Bong didn't listen to it, but kept hitting the creature's side. The mighty orc blocked the blows easily, keeping an eye on Great Dam-Bam-Dam. It didn't even pay proper attention to Gong! Infuriated, the droogy warrior hit, faster than before, and the Orc didn't manage to parry it. It howled in pain and hit back. Gong was so surprised at his own strength that he didn't realise the retaliatory blow was coming until it was too late. There was a flash of pain and he fell to the ground, holding his nose.

"You do not hit him like that!" Dam shouted at the Orc. He towered over the ghastly creature and hit it, aiming at the head. The Orc ducked, a little too late, and received the blow on its forehead. Uttering words in the vile Orcish tongue, it attacked back. Blows were dealt and parried, there were hits and misses. Both the Orc and the droogy hunter were aching, but neither of them was ready to give up.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:57 PM   #104
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Harreld

Things were not going very well. Harreld had never had to deal with such a poor situation before. A temporary smithy! Bah. He and his brother Garreth had apprenticed to a very good smith of good standing and excellent tools in Edoras, and had little by little bought the operation from him as they grew into the trade and he advanced in years; so they had always had very good equipment, connections, and materials. Now he had a firepit made of stones, a heap of turf for the bellows, and a camp chair to sit on. At least he had his own good tools. But he was going to run out of materials quickly at this rate, for he had brought only what he could properly call his own with him when he had left Garreth in Edoras.

But what was the use of all this when everyone was given tasks elsewhere and he had no one to pump the bellows? He might as well go help with the tents are the animals for all he could do on his own. Or he could look in the ruins and see what metals he could find in there.

"Ow!"

Who was that? He turned and saw Ginna. He tried to wipe the scowl off his face; he needn't have bothered, for she did not meet his eyes but walked up quickly and placed the box she carried at his feet.

"Frodides wants those repaired, and told me to wait until you're done."

That made sense. Frodides seemed to understand that he would need someone on the bellows while he worked. He opened up the box and took out the utensils. Frodides could have sent Kara instead of Ginna, he supposed. It probably meant nothing. Kara was a more experienced hand around the kitchen. He looked over the kitchen tools and studied what must be done with them, and what materials he had that could be used to fix them.

"Harreld, can I help you with anything?"

"What?" He looked up. "Oh! Yes! I am sorry. I will need you to pump the bellows. Kneel down behind the handles over there. Yes, that's right. But you need not pump yet. First I must light the fire and then you must pump until we have the right amount of heat so I can bend these knives and whatnot back into shape."

Harreld lit the fire with his flint and tinder and instructed Ginna how to pump the bellows. She learned quickly, but appeared not to be enjoying the labor much. Was it because she did not want to be near him? Or was it too lowly a job for her? Little matter. Clearly it would be best to simply finish the job as deftly and soon as possible to spare her the trouble. Harreld put his attention to the task at hand.
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:54 PM   #105
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It was early morning, but already hot when Crabannan and his horse crested the hill. Instead of riding, he was walking along on his own two feet, taking shelter from the sun in the shadow cast by his gangly steed. The two companions (for so they seemed, as the horse walked alongside its master without halter or lead) went along at a leisurely pace, with no where to go and in no hurry to get there. Crabannan threw rocks at snakes and wild fowl, and the horse strayed to nibble on heads of wheat – but returned to Crabannan’s side at a whistle and a snap of the latter’s fingers. Then the two would continue to plod along, Crabannan limping slightly in his right leg.

Crabannan was tall and dark, with a nose like an eagle and hair the color of raven’s feathers. His black cloak, which fluttered idly in the breeze, gave him a somber quality which was belied by his lively, sardonic eyes and mouth. At his back were a bow and arrows, and at the back of his sword-belt was strapped a short Eorling sword. On his horse, behind the saddle, were tied two more objects, both carefully wrapped up in cloth. The first was long and clearly a sword, but the second, which was short and broad, was indistinguishable beneath the cloth. Apart from a small saddle-bag containing a blanket and a few odd tools, these were all his possessions.

They first spotted the smoke from the kitchen fires in Scarburg, then the ruined hall itself, and as they drew closer still, they began to be able to make out people moving about between the tents and buildings. “I wasn’t expecting Eorlings out here,” he said softly to himself. “I had rather thought we’d be alone until we got to Edoras.” He stopped to survey the fledgling settlement. His horse stopped and looked at him questioningly.

“Well…shall we stop by or did you have other plans?” Crabannan was talking to his horse now. “Indeed! You never told me you made friends with a mare last time we were in Edoras. Ah well, she hasn’t seen you for two years, and I’m sure she can wait a day or so longer. Besides, I’m hungry. Perhaps, Horse, we can work for our breakfast...or I, at any rate. I see you’ve had yours.”

Crabannan did NOT know how to converse with horses, but he did know that he was, indeed, hungry and had not eaten for at least a day. So he and “Horse”, as he pragmatically called his steed, made their way down the hill and up the lane into the settlement. Crabannan was still limping a little on that stiff right leg.

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Old 05-22-2008, 01:29 AM   #106
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Pumping the bellows for Harreld was an easy enough job for Ginna, and she immediately got the hang of it; the task kept her hands occupied while leaving her thoughts free to wander. At first she watched the fire, careful to keep it strong enough for the smith's use, but soon she found herself slipping now and again into staring at the heart of it. She would be roused from semi-consciousness every time Harreld's large hands passed into her line of vision, and each of those times she felt the frown on her face ever deepening, as though beaten into place with each strike of hammer against anvil.

Ginna was not surprised that Harreld chose to keep his peace and focus on his work. He had never been the first to speak, even when they still felt free to converse with each other as they wished. Always, it was she who took the initiative. Alone in the kitchen after he rescued her from the outlaw. After the Eorl announced the move to Scarburg. As a matter of fact, they would probably never have got to know each other beyond their names if not for her efforts to reach out to him. Why should this situation be any different?

But Ginna, she reminded herself, you wanted this opportunity. You need this. And she did not deny it. But what could she possibly say to end a fortnight of silence? One thing was for sure, she was not going to do as he did the last time they talked to each other: she would not just spring the issue at him from nowhere. More likely than not that would just lead to an argument, and heaven knew that was the last thing Ginna wanted right now.

She risked a glance at his face. A scowl could still be discerned there. Ginna wondered if this was his usual work expression, or if it was caused by something else. Maybe it wasn't just her?

"It must be a bit tougher for you now, with Garreth not around," she remarked gently.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:59 AM   #107
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Javan’s retaliating blow to Cnebba had not been weak. The spurt of blood from his nose was satisfactory, but not for very long, as Garmund immediately stepped in to defend his companion, shouting and striking out simultaneously.

“You do not hit him like that!” Garmund cried as he hit Javan.

“I’ll hit you like that!” Javan replied. He rushed forward, engaging Garmund in the fight. He had forgotten about his errand, the heat of the moment having wiped it completely from his mind.

The match was a surprisingly fair one. Garmund, although younger, was taller, but not stronger that Javan. Neither of them got the upper hand. After several punches were given and received on both sides, Javan flung himself forward, right into Garmund’s arms, and grappled with him, attempting to wrestle him to the ground. If he could just pin him down and sit on top of him, he would soon get a surrender...
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Old 05-22-2008, 06:41 PM   #108
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Dan had assured Erbrand that he could handle the lone man without his help, and urged Erbrand to follow his original plans of going with the hunting party. Erbrand sped back to camp as fast as he could fearing that he was left behind. He stooped to enter his tent and gathered the materials needed for the journey: a knife, rope, some dry goods for eating; everything that a man needed, except for a bow. He wondered about this for a second and then shrugged it off, there were probably lots of weapons he could choose from Lord Eodwine's armory. The knife was fastened to his belt and the rest was placed into a saddle bag. Erbrand left the tent picking up his axe on the way out, he didn't know who or what dwelt in the lands this far west and he didn't want to be caught unprepared.

Erbrand made his way to the makeshift stables were his horse was kept. Three men were saddling horses when he arrived, one of the men nudged the other two at Erbrand's approach. Erbrand silently placed his goods on the ground and started to saddle his horse, Traveler.

"Are you Erbrand?" one of the men asked him.

"Yes." was his simple reply.

"We were told that you were coming with us. My name is Balvir, captain of the house of Æðel, and this is Matrim my lieutenant." Matrim stepped forward and presented himself when his name was mentioned.

It was plain to see that these two men were not from Rohan. Not only were their names strange and foreign sounding, but their hair was black and had curl to it, unlike his own blond straight hair. They were probably men of Gondor, but what they were doing here in Rohan Erbrand did not know, nor did he want to, it was none of his business.

"It's nice to meet you both," Erbrand said his expression grim while shaking both their hands, "I take it that you are the hunters that I'll be with."

"That's right," Said Balvir, tightening cinch around his horse's waist, "We'll be heading east, traveling along the scar towards the river Entwash, we can expect to find good hunting in that area. Can you handle a bow competently?"

"I'm a fair shot, yes." A quiver was immediately tossed to him, filled with arrows and a short bow. Erbrand examined it before he strapped it around his back.

"Hello there," came a cheery voice on the other side of Traveler, "I guess they forgot to introduce me. My name is Lithor, a guard of the house of Eodwine." Erbrand's head popped under Traveler's neck to get a better look at the man. A smiling face lit up Lithor's face as he stood holding his horse's reins. He looked older than Erbrand, though he could not tell for sure since Lithor wore his helmet.

"Are you finished yet, Erbrand?" Balvir said, more out of impatience than of curiosity, "If we want to catch anything before nightfall you better get a move on." Erbrand pulled down his stirrups, pulled himself onto Traveler's back, and then followed Lither after Balvir and Matrim.

It gave Erbrand a sick lonesome feeling in his stomach, when they left the camp. He had just arrived and already he was leaving. Of course the whole idea was absurd, but when you have your hopes set high on obtaining a particular thing it depresses you to be departed from it, even for a short time.

He followed his three companions rather than riding abreast of them, feeling out of place in the company of total strangers, let alone two foreigners. The heavy beating of his horse's hooves seemed to drown out the light thudding of their lighter, nimbler horses. Soon Scarburg had vanished from sight and Erbrand's anticipation grew as Traveler changed from a canter to a gallop to match the speed of the other horses.

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Old 05-22-2008, 07:40 PM   #109
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The first thing Crabannan saw as he walked into Scarburg was a tangle of arms and legs flailing about in the middle of the road, about a hundred feet ahead of him. Two boys were going at it like a couple of mountain goats; a third boy sat a yard or two away, bleeding profusely from the nose. As Carbannan watched, the shorter of the two boys leapt at the taller boy with a ferocity that surprised even Crabannan, who had won his fair share of fights. Without a second thought, he sprinted down the road, ignoring the pain in his right leg. Horse plodded along behind.

Just as he reached the fight, the two boys toppled and spun to the ground, landing in a cloud of dust with the shorter boy on top. Instinctively, he began to pummel the tall fellow, from whom all the fight seemed to have fled. Crabannan seized the boy (who was, of course, Javan) and lifted him bodily off his fallen opponent, then dragged him to the side of the road and dropped him, making sure to keep himself between the two fighters.

He shot a wary look at Javan, and then stepped over to the boy who was bleeding. With a deftness born of frequent repetition, he tore off a bit of his threadbare grey tunic and gave it to the boy to stop the bleeding, all the while watching Javan over his shoulder. The boy made no sign of trying to rejoin the battle, and seemed to have calmed down somewhat.

Stepping back, Crabannan surveyed the three boys, trying his best to look stern and NOT to smile. It was hard.

"Ordinarily I would have waited to see who would win, but it was clearly going to be him," he said, stifling a chuckle as he gestured at Javan. "And because I'm now cross that I didn't let you fight a little longer as sport, I think I am owed an explanation in return for the lost merriment. You, tall boy. I saved you from a beating, you tell me why you were fighting. Quickly now, I'm hungry."

He had been mostly joking, but he felt like he really might become seriously peeved in a moment or two. The sudden sprint had left his right leg throbbing and sore, even though that knife wound ought to have healed weeks ago.

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Old 05-23-2008, 03:26 PM   #110
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What? Asking for an explanation for a fight? If he were Eodwine, perhaps then Javan could understand being asked what the fight was about. But a stranger? And to tell Garmund to hurry because he was hungry! Did this man believe that the boys carried around food with them and that they would provide breakfast to any random person?

Javan finally had enough wits gathered to stand up and speak. So he did. On his feet again, and with his hands once more in fists, he challenged the stranger’s order.

“Why? What’d we have to explain anything to you for? You’re the one who interrupted without being asked. We should ask for an excuse from you! And if you’re hungry, go find Kara or Frodides - we can’t give you anything to eat! Speak quickly, for we’re impatient.
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Old 05-24-2008, 05:26 AM   #111
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Harreld

Harreld set to work on the knives. This was deceptively tricky work. The cutting edge had to be handled with great care. If he left it too thick for the sharpening, there would be a blemish, a pimple, in every cut the wielder made. If he made it too thin, it would crack under the sharpening stone and come back to him. A smith never wanted a knife to come back to him because it had cracked; it was the sign of mediocre work, as if he were barely out of apprenticeship.

The girl was thankfully quiet. She was doing a good job with the fire. In certain ways she made a better partner than Garreth, who could keep up a constant stream of needless chatter about nothing. And she was far easier on the eye - which at this moment he did not have to spare, but the thought did occur nonetheless.

The ladles were a different problem. If the bowls were crushed, it would take great care to make sure they were as round as could be managed, especially with a temporary smithy. The handles were a simple matter, and thankfully, he was spared the trouble of crushed bowls.

The care with which Ginna was working was yet another indication to Harreld that she would have made a very good wife indeed. But it was not to be. She would not have him. She was, of course, born of higher stock than he, and he knew he should have thought of that far sooner than he had; but he had been lovestruck at first, and when the strike bites, all one can think of is the other, and such things as birthright seem small matters easily overcome. Well, he knew better now. Then why, Harreld, he asked himself yet again, did you come to Scarburg?

Suddenly she spoke, interrupting his thought. It took him off guard despite the quietness of her words.

"It must be a bit tougher for you now, with Garreth not around."

He scowled even deeper for he had to make sure of the stem of this ladle before he could say a word. It was taking longer than most ladle stems, it seemed! He knew he was rushing it. Just a little harder tap, just a - NO! It cracked.

"Splinters!" he yelled. She jumped where she was sitting, sudden fear in her eyes. He bit his tongue.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I-"

"No, no, I rushed. It is not your fault." Why did you have to speak in the middle of a job? Why could you not wait until I was between ladles? He did not speak his inner shout, and took a few deep breaths. She was wordless, watching him now, seemingly as if he were a storm front about to bring cold wind and rain. She was a breakable little lady, he suddenly thought, maybe not so much in body, but in heart.

"I am sorry," he said at last, "I should not be hot headed like that. Yes, It is tougher with Garreth not around, in a way. He talks too much, but I'm used to that. I like the quiet of Scarburg, for Garreth and Edoras are loud." And you are quiet, which is a good thing. "But this outdoor hearth and working out of tool cases is something I will very gladly do without as soon as a proper smithy is built for me. I see it will not happen today with all the things that must be done first." He sighed and picked up the now cooled two parts of the ladle. He fished out his packet of metal shards and looked for a good solder piece.

Falco

Falco made his way to the animal grounds and found his pony. Léof, good man that he was, had already gotten him ready. All that needed doing was to load him with bags and a hobbit.

"My thanks, Léofric, for the fine care of my pony."

Léof smiled and wished him well. Bidding each other good-bye, Falco led the pony away. "Back on the road for you and me, pony. Maybe I ought to give you a name after all these travels, seein' as you're no good for eatin' anymore."

The pony ignored him. Here came Eodwine, leaving the women's tents, heading toward the animals.

"So it is time, is it, Falco?" Eodwine said.

"Aye, it is that. I'm ready, and that's no lie. Can you help me with these two bags?"

They were tied tight and a strong piece of rope was tied to each so they could be draped over the pony's back just behind him, with a thick piece of cloth beneath the rope to protect the animal's hide from chafing. Eodwine set it in place. Then Falco climbed onto the pony's back, using a kitchen table to help him get up, as he had no footholders dangling. He did not abide such things as a luxury he didn't need.

"Well, this is it, then. I wish you great success, Eodwine, in making a home out of this rambling ruin."

"My thanks. I think, with all these folk about, so willing and able to help, it will not be overmuch of a task."

"I think you have the rights of it. Mind you," Falco winked, "take good care of that Saeryn lass, as she'd make you a proper wife!"

Eodwine reddened. "Perhaps, if she still has such an interest."

"Why else do you think she came back?"

Eodwine shrugged. "Maybe. At any rate, if she has such an interest, I dare say she's in for a fight from Rowenna, if you understand me."

"Oh ho! So that's how it is! You get to be fought over! Now ain't that lucky! Or it could be trouble you don't need!"

Eodwine laughed. "Time will tell. I bid you farewell, and may the years not be too long before we see each other again."

"Good bye then! Next time you're up to the Shire, stop in! I'll keep a cheery fire in the hearth and good ale and vittles on the board for you." Falco waved and kicked his pony.

Eodwine waved and watched him go before he started off again to help Léofric.

Falco was just out to the road and saw a tall black haired stranger addressing the three boys. Cnebba held a rag to his bleeding nose. Garmund was looking all scowly. Javan was just now standing up, his hands curled into fists, and yelling at the man. Falco couldn't make out what he was saying, but could the man be a ruffian? Might he be so low as to pick on three boys?

Falco kicked his pony to a trot.

"Hey! Hi! What have we got here?" he called.

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Old 05-24-2008, 10:15 AM   #112
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Léof

At Falco’s departure, Léof stood quietly for a moment watching the Hobbit lead the pony off. Léof had never known him well, perhaps, but he would still miss having him around – Falco was a character, he was. The land of Hobbits must be an interesting place, if Falco was any testament to his race, though Léof did not flatter himself to think that he would ever journey so far as to see for himself.

Now, however, he had work to do. From the meeting that morning he knew that Eodwine and Thornden were set to assist him, and sure enough Eodwine was approaching now, with Thornden not much behind. Léof put up a hand in greeting. When they had reached him, he began explaining his plans, feeling a little strange giving directions to the Eorl and his right-hand man. “As much as possible I would like to use the fencing already there and mend it rather than build new fencing. I am hoping that it will be a fairly simple task of reconnecting fallen beams, but if in places the wood is now too broken down to use, it will have to be replaced. Perhaps Stigend will have a small amount to share from his gathering today.”

Here Léof broke off, for a peculiar look had crossed the face of Thornden, which appeared to give Eodwine some amusement. Léof could not imagine why, for the plan had seemed wholly sound to him. “Is something amiss?” he asked. “Is there a better way which I have overlooked?”

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Old 05-24-2008, 06:40 PM   #113
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Crabannan was seriously considering the notion of picking Javan up and shaking him as a lesson in respect when a voice from down the road called: "Hey Hi! What have we got here!"

He turned to see who was addressing them - and his jaw nearly dropped. Sitting on a pony in the middle of the road was one of the shortest people he had ever seen. His first thought was: that is a VERY fat little boy. In his second thought, he realized that it was none other than a halfling, of whom he had heard much (as had all who lived through the War of the Ring), but never actually seen. The sight of the short, stout fellow on the pony accosting them in such a manner was so comical that all thoughts of throttling Javan disappeared and instead he burst into hysterical, uproarious laughter.

Gasping for breath, he collapsed in the road as great heaves of laughter racked his body. He tried to turn and apologize to the halfling, but the sight of the fat little fellow on the fat little horse, who was by now looking quite cross, simply threw him back into heaving, convulsive laughter. The others looked on astonished as the grim and dark Crabannan rolled about in the road, undignified and nearly suffocated, trying desperately speak, but without luck.

The absurdity of the situation struck him as he lay there: he panting for breath, the halfling looking almost as astonished as he did appalled, the one boy holding his bleeding nose, and the other two staring in bewilderment at the grown-up who had only moments before been telling them off.

With a sigh, Crabannan lifted himself to his feet, still breathing heavily and chuckling quietly to himself. He quickly regained his composure, however. The customary grim look returned to his face as he bowed low.

"Your pardon, sirs. We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I am Crabannan - and I am still hungry," he said, with an almost imperceptible twinkle in his eye as he looked up at Javan from under his dark brows.

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Old 05-25-2008, 06:25 AM   #114
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Falco

"More likely, you're Big Trouble," Falco retorted. "Leastways, you're no ruffian as you've got a sense of humor even if it is at my expense. I am Falco Boffin, hobbit of the Shire to you, and these boys are Javan, Garmund, and Cnebba, and their fathers and mothers will be wondering why they're out here in the road instead of at the tents where they ought to be!"

Falco eyed the boys, two of whom looked properly ashamed, but Javan's natural ire only seemed to rise.

"Mr. Falco sir, Mr. Garstan sent me out here to fetch these two but they hid on me and started a fight! It's not my fault! And then this man came and broke up the fight and then he threatened us if we didn't give him food!"

Falco judged quickly that Javan probably was not telling the entire story, but was trying to be honest in general though maybe exaggerating. Which meant the man probably had broken up the fight and mentioned food, as he just had again.

"Well, Master Crabapple, sir, you won't be finding no food on these boys, but if you go into Scarburg here and introduce yourself properly to Lord Eodwine, who will be over by the animals, and if you can hold yourself off from laughing in his face about whatever strikes your funnybone, you might get some vittles. And as to wrong feet, if you think the sight of me and my pony is enough to laugh at, maybe I ought to get off of my pony and teach you a lesson, unless you care to apologize for your disrespect. What say you to that?"

Far from running back to the tents, the three boys got up and moved to one side of the road, eyes wide and eager to watch what happened next. Falco gave them no mind but eyed this Master Crabapple or whatever his name was, with a meaningful glare.

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Old 05-25-2008, 04:03 PM   #115
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Having wound a tortuous trail through the heart of the marsh, Oeric gained the far side and considered his options. The shortest route to the tumble-down byre and his meager possessions would expose him to far too great a risk of being spotted again. Instead, he chose a more circuitous route which would bring him up the far side of the ridge behind the remains of Sorn’s hall. There was one thing which he agonizing over in particular and it would be necessary to remain close to the ruins. He couldn’t bear the thought of the strangers digging about and finding . . . them. Oeric cursed his own ambivalence about taking any sort of action to remove the evidence of the crime. But any time he had tried to persuade himself that it would be for the best, his heart had quailed at confronting the mute accusation of white bone and grey ash. Now, his opportunity to take care of things in his own way was surely gone. Still, he had determined that he would keep watch as closely as he could and if the time came . . . well, he would decide what to do then.

Exercising extreme caution, Oeric managed to gain the ridge as planned, undetected. He could hear the sounds of the newly erected camp and knew it was highly likely the settlers would be investigating their surroundings. There was a declivity he knew of, however, which would allow him , at need, to virtually disappear. A stone’s throw away ran a convenient access to a small rise upon which he could lay on his stomach and spy to his heart’s content. Creeping along the last twenty paces as silently as he could, Oeric was dismayed but not completely surprised to find someone else already had the same idea, and same spot, in mind.

“Still here, I see.” The one who had not offered his name on their prior encounter spoke softly, yet his voice was grim, stony.

Oeric had been far too distracted by his own misery to care overly much about who the stranger was and why he was there, at Sorn’s family homestead. It had been a cold, wet night amongst several days of rain, and the stranger had sought the shelter of the byre as Oeric had. As the figure had appeared, a pale oval of face floating above a dark form, for one wild moment of fancy, Oeric had imagined it was Swain come back. But the stranger had quickly stepped in to the circle of light cast by Oeric’s small fire and dispelled the phantasm. Holding his hands out to the warmth, the stranger had nodded and asked only, “Mind? I haven’t found a dry spot all day.” Oeric in turn had nodded his acceptance of an unlooked for companion, his own thoughts turning back to their own moebic trail. The stranger too had held his own counsel and the two had not passed more than twenty words between them by the time Oeric had wrapped his byrchan around his shoulders and lay down to close his eyes and feign sleep. Whether this one had somehow been sent by providence to dispatch him in the night and thus end the conflict of his heart had seemed to matter very little. But the dawn had brought a cessation to the rain and the stranger was gone when Oeric awoke.

“You too.” Oeric replied. He glanced up in the direction of the ridge. “And now we have visitors as well.”

“Looks as if they are here for more than a visit.” The man replied. He looked directly at Oeric as he asked, “You’re not in a rush to go introduce yourself and bid them welcome?”

Oeric returned the look and replied evenly enough, “No, I’m not. And I take it you’re not either.”

The two eyed each other, each taking the measure of the other in light of their shared desire to remain unknown to the newcomers. Oeric’s interest in why this man had showed up several weeks ago, who he was, and what his business there could possibly be was now piqued. However, it was clear the fellow wasn’t going to be forthcoming of his own volition, and questions posed would only result in questions being asked of himself.
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Old 05-25-2008, 04:30 PM   #116
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"Maybe you ought to, Master Halfling," said Crabannan, in a half-mocking tone of voice. He hadn't the ability to be angry at this funny little fellow, but he was curious to see if the halfling really would try to "teach him a lesson." He crouched into a fighter's stance and raised his fists. "Come down off your high horse, sir, and make me apologize."

Javan, Garmund, and Cnebba looked dumb-founded from Falco on his pony to Crabannan. They had never seen anything like this strange, dark man, who laughed and fought in the same breath, conducting both activities with equal seriousness.

Crabannan was gambling, of course, that Falco would not suit action to the word and follow through on his threat. If he did, Crabannan knew that he would find himself in a bad situation. He would be forced either to back down and apologize, or to fight the halfling. The latter was out of the question. He knew that he could not possibly justify fighting the halfling - not, at least, if he wanted to be accepted in the settlement, for however short a time. On the other hand, retracting his challenge did not sound very attractive to him either.

It was clear to him that he had acted rashly, and he cursed bitterly under his breath. He had a knack for making himself unwelcome wherever he went, and he knew it. Either people didn't share his curious, wry sense of humor, or they found his brooding, stern personality uninviting.

Too late now, he thought.

He took another step forward towards Falco as he clenched his fists tighter and put on his best dastardly ruffian grin. He had had lots of practice.

"Avast...halfling! I'm waiting for you!" he cried.

Avast?! Crabannan groaned inwardly. This couldn't end well.

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Old 05-26-2008, 04:47 AM   #117
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There was a throbbing pain in Cnebba's nose. He held the rag the stranger had given him to it and saw it turn redder. It was actually quite interesting. Maybe they'd take him to see the healer, like a proper wounded warrior. Although, he admitted, Master Falco had not treated him and Garmund like proper heroes - not like heroes at all. At least he had been just as unfair to the vile Orc who had beaten them in a fight. That was shameful, indeed. They would have won, easily, Cnebba knew, if he had not been so grievously wounded. But still, the Orc had had to use some treacherous trick to beat Garmund...

"Maybe you ought to, Master Halfling, teach him a lesson. Come down off your high horse, sir, and make me apologize", the stranger said and fully grasped Cnebba's attention. What was this weird, rude stranger doing? Was he a highwayman? Was he gong to attack Master Falco?

"Avast...halfling! I'm waiting for you!" the stranger cried. Were they going to fight? It was too exciting.

Before Falco could reply, Cnebba stepped forward. He held the rag carefully to his nose, and said: "If you're going to fight, you must take us with you too. We want to fight too. Garmund and I will defend Master Falco against you Master Highwayman. " He nodded, smiling smugly. For some reason, everybody was satring at him in silence. "Well, if it's unfair, you can have Javan on your side, Master Highwayman", Cnebba amended.

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Old 05-26-2008, 07:23 AM   #118
Eönwë
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The game is afoot... (the chase is on)

"Erbrand may of course show you. As for plans, I have not made any yet, for I do not know who the man is nor what if anything he has done, except to hide from us. When you find him and if he comes to us willingly, then we will make his acquaintance. If he is unwilling to come, I must know why, for it is my duty to protect my folk." Eodwine had replied.

Erbrand fiddled with his pouch. It will be time soon, he said to himself.

He gave a quick nod to Eodwine, and with that Dan went to Erbrand, to whom he explained his mission. Erbrand led him into the marsh, to where he had seen the intruder. He could still see the footprints in thhe boggy mud.

“Which way did he go?” Dan had asked.

“Straight towards the other end of the marsh,” Erbrand said, pointing. “I’m sure your search will not be in vain, Dan. That man looked awfully curious about our camp, and I don’t think he’s cured of it just yet. My guess is that he’s hiding somewhere amongst the brambles and bushes on the other side.”

Dan had looked around at his surroundings, seeing in what sort of terrain he was and judging what he would have to do to find this intruder who had been spying on the camp.

“Do you think that you will need further assistance in this matter Dan?" asked Erbrand. "I’ll be happy to travel with you until we catch this man, but if you have no need of me I'll not bother you and I’ll go assign myself to joining the hunting party.”

Dan had politely refused, as first of all he didn't want to waste Erbrand, who had now become the closest thing he had to a friend here, and secondly, he would just interfere with the scent, which would reduce his chances of finding the man.

So Erbrand went off, back towards the camp, lookng slightly upset at missing an opportunity to find the intruder, Dan thought, but maybe he was just tired. After all, it seemed to Dan that Erbrand had done a lot this day so far.

So Dan started his search. He got to the clearing where Erbrand had seen the man, and had run off. It was all there in the footprints. They each had a story to tell. A man had come here from one direction, and then later on he could see that two more men had come, by the look of it Lord Eodwine and Erbrand, who had come to look for the first man. They had messed up the first man's prints a bit, but Dan could still discern them among the mud.

He followed them through the marshland, over scrub and through mud, ambling precariously over high crags and steep ditches. At last he came to large pool, if it called be called that. It could barely be called a pond. It was like an overgrown puddle, muddy and wet. "The Drûg can track anything, except through running water," he had heard someone say once, and it was true. But thankfully, this was not running water, and the scent of the intruder was still there. And besides, he could see the footprints where he had clambered out. He waded through the oversized puddle, which went up to his waist and at length, carefully avoiding any hidden rocks or sharp stones hidden beneath the water which was not so much cloudy as mud with extra water. As he climbed out, careful to avoid the rocky outcrop which took up most of the bank, he realised just what he had gotten himself into.

But he continued knowing that this was his duty, and that, as a Drûg, he would be letting down Lord Eodwine by not using his full capabilities.

He had been going on for half an hour now, relying on his sense of smell as much, if not more, than his sight, as the ground was becoming increasingly wetter and wetter as he progressed. He could see that he was getting lower and lower, further into a flood plain, which was the reason for this. And finally, blessedly, he saw that the trail was leading him up and out now, and as he looked to his right, he realised that he had never left the ruins of the old Scarburg hall out of sight. He continued on and up the inceasingly steep slope, somewhat nimbly for someone of his stature. You wouldn't catch a Dwarf being able to do this, he thought to himsellf, absentmindedly.

He thought he saww something flash ahead, not more than two hundred metres away, at most. He had gained on him. He continued on, is pace quickening. He was sure the intruder could not see him behind the yet more rocky outcrops and long grasses that obstructed both of their views. He went faster, and just whwn he was within a stone's throw- "Aah!" he shouted, his foot had gone into something wet and sticky, and quickly, his whole body followed, until he was up to his chest in it. As he looked down, he realised that he had fallen into a very deep, yet not wide, puddle. That was the problem with the marshes. You knever knew. Blast these marshes he thought.
Marshes were the work of Melkor, he thought. Only a person as evil as Morgoth could think of something like this. He had always held that they were some of the worst places to be in. Wet, muddy, and riddled with rocks, hills, and holes, a tracker's worst nightmare. You got something that could otherwise be good- fertile soil, water, and so on, and turned it into probably the most miserable sort of place imaginable. Yes, Melkor's work indeed- not firey hot, nor freezing cold, but somewhere in between, and still horrible to be in. Why had he been cursed with such luck? Why had he even volunteered to do this? He had been stupid to think that he could handle this sort of terrain well. He was up to his shoulders in the puddle now, and the he could smell the fetid odour of the fens.

"Help!" he shouted, hoping someone in the world could hear him.

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Old 05-26-2008, 07:57 AM   #119
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"Maybe you ought to, Master Halfling," said Master Crabapple, then crouched and raised his fists, read to fight. "Come down off your high horse, sir, and make me apologize."

Falco raised a brow. Here was a bigger fool than himself.

"Avast...halfling! I'm waiting for you!" Master Crabapple cried.

Before Falco could correct the man as to the fact that his horse was actually a pony and so not that high, or ask him what in Middle Earth 'avast' was suppose to mean, Cnebba stepped forward.

"If you're going to fight, you must take us with you too. We want to fight too. Garmund and I will defend Master Falco against you Master Highwayman. " He nodded, grinning, then continued. "Well, if it's unfair, you can have Javan on your side, Master Highwayman."

Falco rolled his eyes. This would not do.

"Surprising as it is," he began, "it seems I'm to be the responsible one of this lot. I can't have these boys interfering or I'll have to answer for it and never get on with my journey to the Shire. Be that as it may, I think my quickness would be more than a match for you and your game leg, Master Crabapple.

"Cnebba, Garmund, and Javan, get on back to the tents or I'll tell your folks and Eodwine everything! And you, Master Crabapple, if you will just allow me and my pony room to get by, I'll take that as your apology and what's more, I'll be merciful and not beat you in a fair fight."
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:22 PM   #120
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Crabannan saw his chance to get himself out of a ridiculous situation and took it. He relaxed his guard and shook his head. He was not usually this lucky.

"Ah well, Halfling Falco, perhaps you are right. Perhaps you would be more than a match for me, with your two ferocious warriors, and I with my bad leg. Master Javan and I would have surely been overcome."

He stepped aside and presented a clear road for the halfling and his pony. He hoped that he had not seemed weak in his capitulation moments earlier. He cast a sidelong at Javan and the other boys, but from their expressions he could not tell whether they thought so; he grimaced and put the thought aside. It did not bear dwelling on, and he had managed to avoid beginning his brief stay in the camp with a brawl. That was what mattered.

"A wise decision, Master Crabapple. You have avoided the great indignity of being beaten by someone half your height," said Falco.

"We must put it to the test someday, eh Halfling? But not today, I see."

Falco nodded his assent stiffly.

"Someday, perhaps. When you are better prepared. And now, I must be on my way."

"In that case, I wish you farewell and fair travels, Master Halfling, if Crabapple the Highwayman's goodwill is not repulsive to you."

With that Crabannan turned back to the three boys who had been watching the interchange with much interest.

"Now, lads, if one of you could direct me to someone who can give me a meal, I would be in your debt. I'm willing to work for it, but I'll need the meal beforehand. I haven't eaten in a day."

As he spoke, he realized just how hungry and tired he really was. He leaned against Horse, resting his right leg. I wish I could eat grass like you, old boy. Horse licked his ear and nuzzled the shaggy head of black hair.

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