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Old 08-07-2008, 08:15 PM   #201
Firefoot
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Scyld

Scyld glanced over at Rowenna sharply, but following this initial reaction he decided he was unsurprised; she would notice such things happening in the camp. The question was, was she only paying such close attention to him, given the rather suspicious circumstances of his arrival, or did she pay attention to everyone?

“Can a man not simply do his work without having his motives questioned? I shall have to watch my step, for the attention you pay!” commented Scyld, making light of the hidden accusation in her words, as was his wont. He glanced over at her again; was that a slight flush to her features? Ah, so perhaps she was giving him closer than normal attention. As service to the Eorl? Or for her own purposes?

“You have noticed rightly, however,” he said after a pause. He lowered his voice slightly, as if taking her into confidence. “I am not wholly a stranger to these parts, for I dwelt here for a time. The lord here, Sorn… was not a good man. Some said he was mad; others that he was simply evil. I did not know him well enough to pass judgment.” His first lie. “Whichever it was, or both, you could not live here without coming to hate the man. I left as soon as I had the means, but recently I heard rumors of his passing and came to see if they were true; thus I stumbled across your camp here. Such a man does not deserve a legacy. The Scar – you probably do not understand how fitting a name it is. Sorn scarred everything he touched. So yes, it is with a will that I work on this old ruin, that what was here might be forgotten.” Had he said too much? No, let her chew on that story. He knew that for her it probably made more questions than it answered, and the concentrated look on her face confirmed it. “So does my tale pass your muster, my lady?” he asked with mock deference, breaking the dark tone their conversation had taken. “Or shall I spin a new one to match the suspicion that I am naught more than a scoundrel?”
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Old 08-09-2008, 01:14 PM   #202
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Rowenna

Rowenna could feel herself coloring at Nydfara's first reply. He had grinned his reply, but the bite of his words had hit home nonetheless. Had she said anything about his motives other than to ask the innocent question? She had been careful in her wording, and quickly sifted her own question over again to see if there had been anything in it that had caused such an accusing reply. She decided that he had read more into her words than she had placed. She did not answer, choosing to give him time to fill the silence with more if he would; and did.

Rowenna listened intently to his words. Not wholly a stranger. Dwelt here for a time. Sorn was bad or mad. Rowenna noticed that Nydfara looked away while saying he did not know this Sorn; was this a lie? All, including Nydfara, hated him. Rowenna's mind flitted to the leader of the brigands whom she had hated while she behaved as his lover, confidant, and advisor, and wondered if Nydfara had had a similar role with Sorn. The more Nydfara said of the man, the more likely it seemed to Rowenna that he had known him better than he let on. And now he confessed that it was from hatred for Sorn that he worked on the ruin to wipe out the madman's memory.

“So does my tale pass your muster, my lady?” he asked with mock deference. “Or shall I spin a new one to match the suspicion that I am naught more than a scoundrel?”

There was indeed suspicion, but it was in secret. She had eavesdropped on Eodwine speaking with Thornden more than once during he past month, and had overheard Eodwine outline his concerns about Nydfara, that he did not take lightly that this man had been spying on them until Dan had found him and brought him in. That he had saved Dan's life was to his credit, but it did not erase his suspicions, for there had been something in his reply, that he was a wanderer unaware of recent news and unaware of the Eorl's arrival to the area, and that he did not know that the armed man who called after him was more than a brigand, seemed too convenient somehow. This had only served to heighten Rowenna's interest.

"Who suspects that?" Rowenna asked. "No one has used such words about you in my hearing."

~*~

Harreld

“How long do you think it will be before you can do it, Harreld?” Saeryn asked.

"One week," he said. "A sword takes more care than a ladel." He grinned. "How do you like Scarburg, Lady Saeryn?"

~*~

Eodwine

“How long will you be gone?” Thornden asked. “You speak as though you thought you would be away from some time."

"It will take a day to get there, at least a day to be there, and another to return. Three to five days, I wager."

Just then Crabannan came up with a rather lordly young man in tow. "Lord," he said, "this is Degas of the Folde. He wishes to speak to you."

Eodwine recognized him immediately and smiled. "Degas! It is good to see you! Have you found your sister yet? She is here."

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Old 08-09-2008, 04:14 PM   #203
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Crabannan had done some thinking while he and Degas searched about Scarburg for Lord Eodwine. They eventually found him near the edge of the village with Thornden and Stigend (both of whom Crabannan had labored with often during the past month), by which time Crabannan had been able to clear his mind and arrive at a number of conclusions.

Erbrand was interested in Kara - that much was clear, for Erbrand's sensitivity to Crabannan's remark about the kitchen-wench removed any doubt on that score. What had perplexed Crabannan more had been why he should have been so irritated by Erbrand's obvious interest, irritated enough to provoke the fellow, almost to the point of blows. This, above all, had concerned Crabannan, for it had made him wonder if he himself was not also falling for Kara - an instance which would have led to no good for himself, he knew. He was fond of her, certainly. She had been quick to befriend him - not any easy feat - when he had first arrived in Scarburg, and had been consistently kind to him since that day.

Crabannan had pondered this thoroughly. He was embarrassed to admit it, but it began to dawn on him that perhaps what he felt was a brotherly protectiveness towards Kara, and prickliness towards any who might be interested in her - such as Erbrand.

The notion that he might be forming attachments to these people had surprised him. He had been scared, too, at the thought that he might be going soft. He tried to remind himself: I'm a stranger, a wanderer. People don't like me, so it's no use trying to like them. He shook his head and walked faster. The less I think, the better.

At any rate, Degas and Eodwine turned out to be previously acquainted with each other, and they fell easily into conversation. His duty done, Crabannan turned to go - he hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and there was work to be done, he reckoned. Eodwine's next remark stopped him in his tracks, though.

"Degas' sister? Here? Who is she?" he asked in surprise.

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Old 08-11-2008, 11:45 AM   #204
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Degas nearly fell to his knees in relief. "Tell me, please," he whispered, "is she well? I came to find her, but I knew not if I would find her safe or... or if I would find only news of her... The man who rode to find me knew little, and nothing of her. I thought to find you; I know not why she returned to him, but I knew that if she... escaped... she would seek you. She loves you... trusts you... There is no other man she would look to for safety the way she trusts in you to care for her, to respect her and love her. Not even me, her twin, her only living family. Is it true then, that Fenrir is gone, and I am lord now?"

Eodwine's eyes traveled over the boy - or perhaps now it was time to start calling him a man - and saw that in his travels, Degas had indeed grown wiser, kinder, and more compassionate. Linduial and his love for her had shaped him well; her family had strengthened those qualities which made Degas strong, and seemed to have cured him of those parts of him which were lacking. But now, the young man was as a scared child, his voice tense, shaking, as he spoke too quickly.

Eodwine silenced him with a raised hand, dismissing Crabannan with a few words, kindly spoken but firm.

"She arrived here injured, exhausted, and has spoken very little." Eodwine's voice was sure, though troubled somewhat still by Saeryn's unexplained presence. Perhaps now, with her brother here, she would speak more openly. Eodwine raised his hand again to forestall interruption, "I know that Fenrir is dead. This makes your lord. Are you prepared to take your place?"

Degas met Eodwine's eyes, standing taller, shoulders squaring, "They are my people, and I will do my duty by them."
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:09 PM   #205
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Eodwine

"I believe you will," Eodwine replied with a serious smile. "Let us go to Saeryn now. She will be glad to see you." He turned to Stigend and Thornden. "I think now that I will be going to Edoras tomorrow instead of today. So let us set aside the work for one day and take joy in what has been accomplished. Go tell the others to prepare games, singing, and dance for the rest of the day."

"Aye, lord!" the two said, and made their way to family and friends. Crabannan had stood a little back from the others, listening, and strolled after the two leaders. Eodwine turned to Degas.

"Tell me of your adventures while we walk, Degas."

As Degas related what had happened during the last months, Eodwine paid heed to his tale, but also thought on Degas' first words once he had known that Saeryn was safe: 'She loves you... trusts you... There is no other man she would look to for safety the way she trusts in you to care for her, to respect her and love her.' Eodwine had been reserved with her, and she with him for the last month. There had remained a barrier that both seemed silently to agree upon. And now with these words, Degas threatened to demolish the barrier at a stroke. But was Degas right? Eodwine was not sure. That Saeryn trusted him for protection, he had no doubt. That she respected him as lord of this folk and place, he accepted. Even to care for her needs was befitting of his role. But love? He had not allowed himself to think on it at all. Now it was thrust upon him by her brother. He was not at all sure that she loved him, and he was less sure that he loved her. There was a subtle change in her and he did not understand it; or, was the change in him? Had he become hardened to her? Was this the barrier? Had she perceived it and dared not test it? He allowed a sigh.

"Do I bore you, Eodwine?"

"Oh, no. The weight of lordship and all that."

"Even on a day of celebration?"

"Yes," Eodwine grinned ruefully, "even on such a day as this."

They had come to the area of the tents and asked for Saeryn. She had been seen going to the smith. They made their way to the smithy; the door was open and Saeryn could be seen standing in the doorway, speaking to Harreld, who was hidden beyond the doorframe. With a glance she noticed them coming toward the smithy before she recognized who it was. Then she looked a second time, her eyes widening.
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:37 AM   #206
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Scyld

“Have you not?” asked Scyld mildly, his tone and expression belying the rapid pace of his thought. Had he misspoken? Was there indeed no suspicion? All the better for it. If this was so, however, he was a poorer judge of men than he had thought; that first day he arrived, the Eorl had seemed more skeptical of his story than Scyld had hoped. But regardless of whether Eodwine and the others had believed him, they had accepted him into their midst, which is all he wanted. Trust could come later.

But now Rowenna was getting too nosy; she needed to be put on the defensive. What sort of barb, he wondered, would best get under her skin? He continued, a slightly condescending tone in his voice: “Well, nor have I, but most folk would hardly say such a thing to a man’s face. So the question is, is there truly no one who suspects? Or do they simply not deign to share their suspicions with you?”
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:22 PM   #207
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“How do you like Scarburg, Lady Saeryn?” Harreld asked.

“I’m surprised you ask: you used to never like talking - much less seek conversation - with me, or any other woman.” Harreld again grinned, this time without looking at her - he was back at work. Saeryn went back to his question. “I like Scarburg very well,” she answered. “I prefer it to Edoras. There seem not to be as many prying eyes, or people watching over lord Eodwine’s shoulder to make sure he does everything right.” Saeryn did not say who she meant. She heard footsteps approaching the smithy. “Anyway,” she continued, absently glancing out to see who it was, “I think as soon as the hall is built, everything will be in excellent...is that -?” She looked again. Her simple glance had caught sight of two familiar figures - one familiar, but not at all expected. The second look confirmed it and she turned fully around. But she didn’t take any steps forward to meet them.

Her mind was bewildered. When Degas hadn’t come earlier she had thought he was dead. She had imagined herself the only one of her family alive, able to do as she decided with no other one to tell her what to do, no one compelling her to leave ever again. On the other hand, it was a good thing he was still alive, and it could conceivably be a good thing he was here now. But she didn’t know what to say or how to feel.

She didn’t notice Eodwine as he came and stepped aside to let Degas come up to his sister. She didn’t hear Eodwine explain that he came that morning searching for her. She just saw Degas, and all she heard were her own questions, two of which finally came out, opposing each other - “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you come sooner?”

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Old 08-12-2008, 05:18 PM   #208
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Degas let his hands fall though they had risen to embrace Saeryn. "What am I doing here?" he repeated blankly, "Why didn't I come sooner?"

She stood silently, and it seemed to Degas that she was angry. No, not angry: furious. But why? What in the world had happened in his absence? And surely she knew he had been in Gondor, with Linduial's kin? Surely she understood that after he left her to return to Farlan, he did not stray from his duties there? He had had no obligation to the Folde, with Fenrir's unstoppable might governing the people there, but he had obligation to his betrothed's people. Surely Saeryn knew that he was in Gondor as a matter of duty and love, rather than as an escape from her? Or--

Except nothing made sense.

"Saeryn..." he began, looking over her shoulder to Harreld, who shrugged, and Eodwine who raised an equally baffled eyebrow. "I came to find you. Even the Three Hunters could not travel more quickly than I did when at last I heard of... of whatever transpired here. Saeryn, you must tell me... What has happened to our... land of birth? Why did you go back when you were under the care of Lotheriel? How many are dead? Is everything destroyed as I have heard? Saeryn, you must stop looking at me as though I am all that you fear and more. Do you not know your own brother when you see him? I, Degas, who helped you to abandon our childhood home in the first place? I, Degas, who found you with Eodwine, who wish you only the best? Saeryn, for the sake of all that you hold dear, speak to me!"
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Old 08-12-2008, 07:30 PM   #209
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“Speak to you,” Saeryn whispered in reply. She cleared her throat and spoke in a level voice. “What is there to say? Why are you suddenly interested now?” His many questions resounded in her head, along with the thought ‘you should have been there so you wouldn’t have had to ask’. She turned abruptly and walked away. She felt the rigidness in her body, the heat in her mind, and she knew that somehow she was being unreasonable. But then, at the same time, she wasn’t.

Degas followed her, pleading, “Saeryn, please.”

And finally she turned, a torrent of words pouring forth. “Why weren’t you there when we needed you? At least you could have stood where you belonged, for once, instead of running away from a difficult situation! Running after love, were you? Well, I hope you found it. Fenrir and I paid your price for you. I guess now you intend to waltz back in and claim the place, being the only heir left! I hope they burn you like they did Fenrir - though there’s no hall left to do it proper in!” She began crying now - angry, vicious tears that had been impossible to cry ever since the attack.

“I went back because I was tired of being a coward. Tired of running away. I didn’t belong anywhere, except home! That’s why! At least it was home!” She wanted to say more, but she couldn’t. Sobs choked her. Degas tried to approach and comfort her, but Saeryn recoiled and struck out at him. She slapped him.
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:31 PM   #210
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Crabannan had followed Eodwine and Degas to the smithy, and now watched this exchange with a mixture of fascination, surprise, and distaste as their drama unfolded and Saeryn berated her brother. Family quarrels were always the worst, as he knew all too well, but it seemed to him, as the tone of the meeting began to escalate, that Degas was getting the worst of things.

And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, Saeryn slapped him. She slapped him with a sheer fury that nearly made Crabannan's jaw drop open. He knew at once he had overstayed his welcome but he found himself smiling nonetheless and in spite of the gravity of the situation. My kind of gal, he thought, almost subconsciously - and only half-serious.

There was a stunned silence which quickly began to verge on the awkward. Even Saeryn seemed a little shocked at what she had just done, and Harreld - poor Harreld looked as if he wished the earth would swallow him alive.

"Harreld," he said abruptly, "Would you care to break the fast with me? I was just on my way."

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Old 08-13-2008, 07:03 AM   #211
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Degas glared at Crabbanan and Harreld as though daring them to move, though he knew this encounter deserved as few witnesses as he could manage. Still, it infuriated him to think of these two men discussing his personal quarrel with his mad sister at the breakfast table. Who would they tell first? How long would it be before the entire population of Eodwine's household stood in an arc around them, betting on who would be the victor?

He growled.

"Home?" he asked, his voice low, but still even, "Still home, even after our sister died, and you spent - how long, a year? Two? Silent!

"Home, which you left without saying goodbye to seek for our dead parents? Men of Rohan rarely lie, twin," he spat, "Did you disbelieve the messenger who came to bear us news of their death? You must have, or you were seeking an excuse to leave. I had no obligation at home, except perhaps to develop intimate alliances, which I have done! The lords of Gondor know me. Imrahil shall be my uncle. My uncle! You? If you had done your duty and married, there would be an heir besides me! But instead you ran away to become a servant in the house of a stranger! A position which did not at first exist because-" he spat, "-at first the place you stayed was an Inn! And the man you served with doting eyes--"

Degas fell silent, guiltily, eying Eodwine with sudden apology. He took fast breaths, trying to calm his speeding heart, trying to disperse his rage. He saw the expressions on the faces around him, and knew that he had taken one step too far. But was it too late to step back? His heart raced as he tried to remember lessons of diplomacy -- and failed.

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Old 08-13-2008, 09:43 AM   #212
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Eodwine

He knew he should have intervened sooner. Why had he let this go on so long? Because you wanted answers and hoped to have some from this conversation which is no business of yours. Nor anybody's else for that matter. And what was Crabannan doing here?

Harreld peeked his head out of the smithy. "Did someone call me?"

"Crabannan, you are dismissed to break your fast. Harreld has work to do. Degas, you will come with me at once. Saeryn, go help Frodides."

Each of them hesitated and stared at him, as if questioning his right to say what he had said.

"Go at once!" All of them startled as if suddenly awakened from a trance, and each of them except for Degas moved away, Crabannan with his shoulders bent in sullenness, Saeryn with her back straight in dignified offense. Eodwine had avoided her eyes for he did not want to see an accusing look; and therefore did not see what look she sent his way if any.

He felt the contortions in his face slowly dissipate as the rage that had poured into his three word command slipped away. He looked at Degas who sat waiting, busy with his own thoughts.

"That did not go well, Degas," Eodwine murmured, saying the obvious to fill the aching silence. "Let us walk along the borders of Scarburg. I would that you speak your mind to me." They began walking in silence, which would do for now, for Eodwine had thoughts of his own with which to wrestle. He was not at all pleased with Saeryn's behavior. He recalled the words he had spoken to Rowenna a month ago as to what he wished for in a wife. At this point, things lay in Rowenna's favor. A shame that he did not have that gut interest in her that drew him to Saeryn.

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Old 08-13-2008, 12:22 PM   #213
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After walking many steps in silence, Degas said quietly, "My mind is in turmoil. I know not what to think, and therefore I know not what to say."

Eodwine favored him with silence, but that he was waiting patiently for Degas to speak again was plain.

"You know of my love for Linduial. You know of my mission to her home to inform them of her kidnapping because that was on your order, and was my duty as the one who lost her to that fiend, and you remember my time here under the eye of her brother. And you remember my departure, when I left for the sea to learn to please Lin's people, and to learn what it takes to be a husband worthy of such a wife. With Saeryn's blessing, at the time...

"Lin stayed, as you know, as the voice of the south to our beautiful queen, her cousin, and King Eomer. She was here, and I left for her home, to win the approval of her kinfolk and those who love her as their lady."

Their walk was slow, deliberate, and Degas took in only so much of his surroundings as was natural for him: as a man of Rohan, he knew the sounds of nature as they should be, and no sense alerted him to danger. He let himself speak as the words came, and Eodwine listened. As a friend? A father, almost? An adviser, at least. A man who had never meant to be lord, but upon whom the position was thrust. A man, as it was, much like Degas in that regard. Perhaps the only man in Rohan who could now understand Degas's predicament.

"They taught me to sail." Degas almost grinned. "How long was I there? The weeks blur. Months? Perhaps, but I know not how many. My charge, Feo, was taken into the household of Linduial's oldest brother, Adragil. He works aboard Adragil's favorite ship, and loves every slogging moment of scrubbing decks and keeping bilge rats from the food stores. Perhaps it was as a right of passage into the family that I learned to work aboard a ship. And I returned, no longer sea sick, though with lightened hair and burned skin.

"And there, injured and unhappy, a man of my old home. A man of Rohan, a speaker of truth, a hard worker. A man of my father's household, who had been relegated to who knows what position under my brother's," Degas spat on the ground, "care.

"He was there, waiting for me. To tell me in person of what had transpired."

They walked along the Scar now, and Degas looked at Eodwine, seeing the older man's careworn shoulders. A smile would lighten his face, make him younger, but the frown hurt Degas's heart to see.

"I bade goodbye to Lin's family, taking my leave of them, promising to send word once I had it. And I traveled. Have you taken the road from Dol Amroth to Edoras? It is long, around the mountains, and I rode swiftly. Yet how could I arrive here any sooner? Even if the messenger had taken a ship to find me at sea - and how could that occur? It could not! How could I be here sooner?

"Eodwine, she knew! She knew where I was, she knew where I was going to be, and she kissed me farewell and told me to be happy, and with a laugh she told me to learn to be a man, and I kissed her and told her that all I wished in the world was for her to be in love as I was, and to find a place where she was loved, and needed, and that wheresoever that place was, I would help her as much as was in my power to stay there.

"Friend, I left her with the queen, though I cannot deny I would have prefered to leave her with you as your wife."

Eodwine began to speak, but now Degas hushed him and continued, "I do not know what clouds her thoughts. I do not know what has changed her heart. She has changed, that is apparent. When she left you, I do not think it was because she did not love you. I think, perhaps, that she may have loved you almost too much. I think, perhaps, that love terrified her. She has lost every person she has ever loved. What if she lost you as well? I wonder if she left first for that reason; I wonder if she turned from you to save herself from later pain. But now... now I do not know my own sister. I do not know her heart. I do not know her mind."
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Old 08-13-2008, 02:36 PM   #214
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Saeryn left the quarrel feeling wronged and guilty both at once. She wanted to go off alone to sort out her thoughts and her feelings, to figure out what she was to do next, and to cry the rest of these confounded tears. She definitely did not want to go help Frodides, who at this time of breakfast was probably at the center of all the inhabitants’ attention, but she had not made it a habit of disobeying lord Eodwine, even when he did not speak in a tone of voice worth cringing at.

And yet, she did not obey at once. She first went to her tent. She sniffed back her tears as she splashed water over her face, hoping that it would convince some of the redness away from her eyes and nose. Having done what she could, she got up, and went out.

She went to Frodides, and trying to stand so that the fewest people possible could see her face, she asked, “Do you need me to fetch you any water?”
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:02 PM   #215
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Somewhat reeling from the activities of the morning thus far, Náin found himself strangely alone. He had not even eaten a proper breakfast yet, but already he had found deep thoughts to ponder in something completely mysterious involving Kara, that troublemaker Crabannan's memory coming back to mind--and the oddity of him popping up among Eodwine's people, of all places--not to mention Degas' confused arrival in camp. Degas wanted to see Eodwine because of Saeryn, but the Dwarf had not yet been long enough in the camp to know for certain whether she was there. If she was, it was an odd turn of events, since Náin thought she was supposed to be with the royal household, but he had long since given up expecting stability from Men, and those of noble birth had the means to wander.

In a sense, the fact that he was suddenly alone was rather odd in itself. Náin still wanted to see the Eorl, though he wasn't sure if Eodwine would want to see him, since he would probably rather send Thornden, Stigend, Garstan, or all of those three with Náin to assess the situation for building the new hall of stone, rather than attend to it in person. Still, it was the proper thing to approach the eorl first.

To that end, Náin had intended to join Degas in searching for Eodwine, but when Crabannan had become involved, the Dwarf decided he would rather wait. He had no desire to spend all morning in the troublemaker's company, and was afraid that if he found Eodwine with him, Crabannan might end up tagging along on the survey of the lands as well.

Deciding that the bit of breakfast he had had was not enough, Náin decided to head back toward where Frodides and the others were still providing food, only to discover to his chagrin that Crabannan had apparently not remained in Degas' company long. From the sour look on the troublemaker's face, Náin wondered if he might have been sent away.

Though not eager to encourage another chance encounter with Crabannan, Náin decided to risk it and get some more food, but as he approached the table, he noticed that Frodides was talking to a rather distraught looking Rohirric maiden, and he realised that Saeryn was indeed among the Eodwinelings.

The food wasn't worth getting drawn into whatever bad winds were blowing around Saeryn. Náin would have wagered quite a bit that her lack of complete composure and Degas' arrival were not mere coincidence. Very carefully, Náin turned around and decided to creep away from the breakfast table...
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Old 08-13-2008, 06:40 PM   #216
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Frodides

“Do you need me to fetch you any water?”

The voice behind Frodides was quiet and not entirely steady but the old cook jumped a little nonetheless. She had been deeply engaged in straining an ear toward the conversation underway between a few members of the camp on the far side of the kitchen, which seemed to involve an excessive amount of conjecture and was all the more fascinating for it. It was for this reason that she hadn't heard the light steps behind her and why she turned round irritated at having been caught out.

"Well of course I don't, girl." She snapped, not aware whom she was addressing as she was looking down at her hands as she dried them. "That young trouble maker of Thornden's is in charge of that today as I thought everyone knew."

"I see." The quiet voice replied, and the strange catch in it finally induced Frodides to look up.

"Oh!" She cried, entirely surprised to find Saeryn standing before her. The last time she had seen the young woman Frodides hadn't thought her fit to be standing let alone offering to carry heavy objects and she said as much immediately.

"In fact," she continued as she inspected Saeryn's face a little more closely despite the girl's concerted efforts to hide it, "you look as though you've been having a rough time of it anyway."

Saeryn ducked her head even further.

"I was asked by Lord Eodwine to offer my assistance to you, and so here I am." She said simply.

"Mmhm." Frodides replied. "Well I'm sure that's not the whole tale but it will do for now. Offer your assistance indeed, you'd think he wasn't aware you'd been bedridden these last days and he certainly isn't that. Not a day goes by when he doesn't ask after your health. At any rate, you will not be wearing yourself out even if it is under his orders. I'm sure he'll regret them once he thinks them through and come to make sure you've disobeyed. Which you will." She said firmly as she saw Saeryn open her mouth to argue.

Shepherding the girl toward a chair in a part of the kitchen that was a little more sheltered from passers by she caught sight of a number of interested parties loitering in the doorway.

"Kara!" She called and was gratified to find her young protege materialising by her side in an instant. "I'm going to be busy with this young lady for a little while so you are in charge of dealing with the rest of the camp, and if I were you I'd start with those who are trying to poke their noses in where they shouldn't." She jerked her head toward the doorway and waited til Kara disappeared to do as she'd been asked.

"Now." She said, and pulled a chair for herself and little table up in front of Saeryn. She left space enough that the girl wouldn't feel trapped and would be able to leave if she wished. Given the slightly wild eyed looked of her Frodides didn't want to get in her way if she did decide to go. She placed a generous number of potatoes on the little table and laid out two knives and two little bowls.

"If you want to make yourself useful this is what I'll allow. Peelings into that bowl, potatoes into the other." She spoke simply, gesturing to make her words clear, and began the task. Saeryn followed suit slowly. "And if you'd like to tell me what's going on I'd be very happy to listen."

~ ~ ~

Kara

Having caught the meaningful look that Frodides had directed at the main nose poker at the door Kara made her way over immediately. The old cook had never taken to Crabannan and always watched him closely whenever he came her way, and as her attention was now wholly concentrated on Saeryn for reasons Kara wasn't even going to try to guess at she supposed that job had now fallen to her. It was not a prospect she relished as she rather liked the man. Their first slightly strained meeting had been followed by an apology from Crabannan for his somewhat brusque manner and a comfortable friendship had developed from then on that she was not keen to spoil by looking as though she was suspicious of him. A quick glance behind told her that Frodides was still focused on Saeryn and so she decided that for once she would pretend ignorance as to what her mentor had intended.

"Good morning!" She called cheerfully to Crabannan as she approached him in an attempt to chase away the scowl he was wearing. Pleased when she saw that she had been partially successful she continued in the same manner. "I suppose you're here in search of food like the rest of these bottomless pits?"

Crabannan gave his agreement and Kara turned to fetch him something, casting her eyes at the doorway as she did so in case there was anyone else lurking out there, either a member of the camp hanging around in hope of information about the morning's events or a stranger unsure of his welcome. What she saw made her think that it was perhaps the latter, as the figure she spied was slowly creeping away from the kitchen, yet there was something familiar about it. She thought perhaps that it was one of the boys, Javan or even Garstan, but no they had been heading off in the other direction.

'But who else could it be?' She mused, and then laughed out loud in delight and hope as a suspicion crossed her mind.

"Nain?" She called out, running to the entrance, ignoring the startled look she received from Crabannan. "Nain? Is that you?"
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Old 08-13-2008, 06:40 PM   #217
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It had been quick work cutting out the design for the last bit of the saddle and now his hands were busy sewing the last flap across the the underside of it the saddle. A smile slowly began to appear on his face as his work neared completion. He was very much amazed at the speed of his work, although it had been a small amount of work it was tedious and it pleased him that he coped with it so well.

Erbrand glanced up from his work, the unusual smile still holding, a breeze was in the air and there were just enough clouds in the sky to allow sufficient sunlight and shade for the day. He looked forward to the festivities that would take place later. However, the tranquility was short lived. The silence was broken by what sounded to him to be a snap, like someone grasping a dried stick in their hand and braking it over their knee. Erbrand's head popped up from his work at the unexpected noise, and looked around for what might have caused it. Around twenty paces behind him stood Eodwine with a person he had never seen before. The man's cheek was red and Saeryn, who was facing the stranger, looked as if she was crying. Erbrand's care free smile quickly faded from his face, and a look of concern took it's place, but man's voice was soon raised and Erbrand guessed from what he was saying that he was Saeryn's brother Degas. He had heard about him from Frodides and the kitchen ladies.

"Can't we have one day of peace without people getting in a tizzy." he muttered to himself as he put the final stitch work on the saddle.

It was then that he heard the stern words of Eodwine: "Go at once!" The argument had settled down between the two siblings, but it irritated Erbrand to see such a public display of emotions and feelings that he was subjected to listen to. With a growling sigh he lifted up the saddle upon his shoulders and walked towards the stables. They were not fully built yet, but Stigend had done an admirable job with making some makeshift pens to keep the horses in.

The saddle was complete and he turned it over and examined it from many angles. Yes, it was of good quality and would last a long time. He took pride in the fact that he was and expert in his field, but it was a humble pride that he would keep only to himself. This first saddle would be a gift for Léof, the boy who watched after the horses. The boy had taken great care of the Meadhall's horses and Erbrand admired the unselfish hard working boy. Traveller had never been in better hands and almost obeyed Léof more than Erbrand.

Léof was grooming the horses as Erbrand approached. The boy paid no attention to him as he came closer, softly humming to the horse he was grooming.

"Good morning," said Erbrand, raising his hand in a friendly wave as he came closer and placed the saddle on one of the stalls. "I've brought you something, Léof, I just finished it this morning."

Léof put down his brush and picked up the saddle. "Where should I put it?" he asked in indifference.

Erbrand lowered his head and chuckled, "The saddle is yours," he said, "I thought it was high time that you have a proper saddle after the incident with the fire," he bit his lip and lowered his head as the boy eyed the saddle over, "Do you like it?"

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Old 08-13-2008, 08:04 PM   #218
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Léof

A look of amazement and gratitude slowly crossed Léof’s face as he took in what Erbrand was saying. The saddle was not for the Hall’s general purposes – it was for him. Speech temporarily left him, long enough for the other man to ask with some uncertainty, “Do you like it?"

“This is fine work!” Léof exclaimed, now surveying the saddle with greater attention, running his hand over the stitching and appreciating the craftsmanship. “Far nicer than – than the one I lost.” A shadow crossed his face at the words. The one he lost – Herefola would always be “the one he lost.” Léof hurried on, not wanting to dwell on it. “For all the time and work you put into this – it must be worth far more than ever I could pay you–”

“It is a gift, Léof,” broke in Erbrand. “If you prefer, consider it thanks for your care of Traveller.”

And Léof again had no words, unaccustomed as he was to such tokens of kindness. More often than not he kept to himself and went relatively unnoticed by the others of the Hall, and since the fire he had receded even further into himself as a general rule. He did his work, and it was enough; the horses were his companions. “Then I accept your gift,” he said finally, “and I thank you for it. I shall have to try it out soon; it has been a while since I have taken Æthel out riding anyway.”
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Old 08-13-2008, 08:12 PM   #219
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"Nain? Nain? Is that you?"

For a moment, Náin stiffened, caught like a terrified rabbit--albeit a terrified rabbit with enough muscle to carry a grown Man and a hammer as heavy as a small child--just as he had been trying to slink away unnoticed. But within a shaving of a second he had realised that the voice calling him was friendly, and indeed more than just friendly, but quite familiar. Letting the tenseness in his shoulders ease, he turned around and saw Kara running toward him.

Náin's first instinct when the young woman grabbed him in an impulsive hug was to stiffen up again, for Dwarves do not generally hug and Náin had always been rather bashful around human women, but he was glad to see Kara all the same--more than he had thought--and was considerably touched by her warm welcome. So he hugged back, with just enough Dwarven strength to make it precisely a bearhug--or it would have been if Náin had been closer to bear-sized, or at least Man-sized. At his height, it was something a bit more awkward, and Náin did not prolong the hug at all.

"Kara, it is very good to see you," he said, pulling back properly as quickly as he could. As fond as he was of Kara, Dwarven propriety was an overpowering instinct.

Even as he stood back, however, Náin noticed that Kara was not entirely alone, and while this would normally have made him distinctly more awkward, the fact that it was Crabannan standing somewhat away and looking both confused and curious made him cooler than otherwise.

It also reminded him of Erbrand and the trapper's reaction to the troublemaker's questioning earlier. Ignoring Crabannan as completely as he could, Náin turned back to Kara, who was expressing how good it was to see him.

"I see the move from Edoras has not harmed your health," said Náin. "Tell me"--and he unconsciously glanced at Crabannan--"what is the news about you. I mean!" he stammered. "What is new about... here. Around here."

Once again, Náin thanked Mahal that Dwarves have beards to disguise it when they flush.
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:09 PM   #220
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It had been a curious morning. The free and easy life which Crabannan had been living had been rattled somewhat by the arrival of Nain, whose presence served as a constant reminder of the past, his home by the mountain, and his parents: in short, of everything that he had chosen to forget when he had gone to war. Little had he suspected that only a few months later, while he was fighting alongside the Men of Gondor, the War would come to Dale. Afraid of the reproach he would face for abandoning not only his family, but his homeland, he had never gone back. It had been a long road since then, and only now, from Nain, had he learned that his father at least had indeed survived the War of the Ring.

Crabannan's mind was unsettled when he stopped by the kitchen. Too much had happened that day, too much that he was helpless to fight against. Thus, it was cheering and somewhat calming to him to see Kara for a few moments. She found him some breakfast, chattering on about the festivities that were to take place later that day (which he was happy to learn about; it meant less work and time for the harp), while he leaned outside the door. He knew Frodides was inside, and he was hardly in the mood to make himself a target for her tongue, though he had received nearly everyone else's that day.

No sooner had Crabannan received with thanks the plate offered to him, but Nain was suddenly there with them. The usually wary Crabannan, distracted as he had been by thoughts of the morning, had not noticed his approach and jumped a bit inwardly at the sight of the dwarf. As Kara and Nain exchanged pleasantries, Crabannan sat down on a handy barrel, crossed his legs, and watched them while he ate his breakfast.

And he thought for the first time about how he valued Kara's friendship, constant despite his manner and his reputation as a trouble-monger (which, though only partially deserved, was well-known throughout Scarburg).

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Old 08-13-2008, 09:23 PM   #221
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Eodwine

Eodwine listened to Degas relate the tale of the last few months. So much had filled such a short time! Eodwine had seen ships in the harbor at Minas Tirith, and so had a small store from which to imagine Degas' adventures. Far more vivid was his thought of a burned ruin and Degas' and Saeryn's dead brother amid the wreck. But then Degas left off with his tale and began his complaint about his sister. As far as Eodwine could tell, Degas was right: Saeryn was being completely unfair. He was about to say so when Degas began again, speaking of how Saeryn had changed. Eodwine's mind briefly wandered to wondering precisely what the change was (for she and he had not spoken beyond the most general things) and what had caused it, but he was brought back to the present by Degas' next words.

"I do not think it was because she did not love you. I think, perhaps, that she may have loved you almost too much. I think, perhaps, that love terrified her. She has lost every person she has ever loved. What if she lost you as well? I wonder if she left first for that reason; I wonder if she turned from you to save herself from later pain. But now... now I do not know my own sister. I do not know her heart. I do not know her mind."

Eodwine slowed his pace and looked down; Degas slowed a moment later and turned to see him let out a pensive sigh. "Love, you say." He tried to find something to do with his hands, which suddenly seemed not to know how to lay at rest at his side, and he finally folded his arms. "I do not know that she loved me. Nor do I know her heart or mind, Degas. I think that she does not know herself. Her mind seems ruled more than ever by what she feels."

"Such is the way of women, my lord," Degas grinned, perhaps hoping to lighten their talk.

"Not all women, Degas. Not women who know themselves. Your sister does not, I deem, and so I must confess to you that though as lord I succor and love her as well as any other in Scarburg, I am both drawn to her and repelled at once. Maybe, Degas, when you have settled yourself as lord in the Folde, you will wish to have your sister by your side, for she and Linduial became great friends. After all, though I may have doting eyes-" he glanced at Degas with a small grin to see the quick wince of guilt on the young man's face at being reminded of his rash words "- but I am twice her age. An old man! She would do well to find a young man her own age with whom to live out many years rather than with someone who will become an old codger to bathe and feed and change while she is yet young.

"But enough of that. Are you prepared to ask forgiveness of your sister, and to accept her apology once she has sense to give it? For you are both in the wrong."

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Old 08-13-2008, 09:24 PM   #222
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“And if you want to tell me what’s going on I’d be very happy to listen.”

Saeryn’s head bobbed in a nod, but for a minute or more, she could say nothing. There was a very large, very immoveable lump in her throat. She was thoroughly sorry for her actions by now and stuck in the kitchen as she was, she saw no possible way to rectify them. So, unable to do anything to lessen her regret, and being on the verge of tears (threatening to be almost as violent as her previous ones) she sat peeling potatoes mutely.

But one can only hold their breath so long, and like it or not, she had to breath in. The breath set off a series of short gasps, otherwise known as sobs, and she was hopelessly lost in tears for a moment.

Frodided set down her knife and reached across the table to pat Saeryn gently on the shoulder, murmuring comfortingly, “There, there, it’s alright.”

“I’ve acted such the fool, Frodides!” Saeryn sobbed out. “After he’d been gone so long and come back just for me, I treated him like nothing! I was so angry!” She wept to recall her words, and her blow. The knife was placed on the table and her face buried itself in her hands. She restrained herself suddenly, drawing her dignity back together. Her chest heaved and struggled with contained sobbing, but finally it ceased and she breathed again, hiccuping occasionally. She looked up and wiped her eyes.

“But what’s done can’t be undone, as you’ve told me before, I’m sure,” she said.

“No, certainly, you can’t cry over spilled milk,” Frodides agreed.

“And so I’ll just have to make up to him, ‘s all,” Saeryn went on with a tremble in her voice. “And Eodwine, too.” At the last word, her voice cracked and she pressed her mouth shut to keep her emotions back. She was quiet just a moment, and then, “I should apologize, right, Frodides? And Eodwine will understand, right?” Her dark eyes lifted to Frodides’ face hopefully.
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Old 08-14-2008, 04:42 AM   #223
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Rowenna

"Or do they simply not deign to share their suspicions with you?" asked Scyld, a smirk on his face.

Rowenna could not help grinning. He was flirting, in his own way. She was beginning to enjoy herself very much. Not that she meant anything in the least to develop with this man, other than friendship based on commonality. She had her hopes set higher, much higher. But for now she could enjoy this play for what it was. She was sauntering more strongly, her hips swinging easily with the load of meat under her arm.

"Oh, no one needs to share their thought with me. I can read people like a book. You, for example, are full of talk that turns others' attention away from you to them, just as you did to me this moment. And then there's Harreld the smith. He is grievously taken with that tramp of a girl Ginna, but she has no notion what to do about it. Then there's Crabannan who makes as if he is so ready to fight but what he really wants is some companionship, and for fear of other men picks a boy to be his best friend. Well, Master Nydfara, what think you of my skill?"

She looked him full in the face with the biggest smile she had as they approached the baker.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:17 AM   #224
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Degas flushed, thankful for the close cropped beard he had taken to wearing which at least disguised his red face. One of his oldest complaints: fair hair, fair skin, transparent emotions.

"I... er... I rather meant that her eyes were doting, not yours, Eodwine. Though I do hope you will still forgive me for saying it..."

Like a pup who has been caught with the morning's bacon, Eodwine thought. Degas's face was a mask of contrition.

"As for your age, you cannot pretend that it is uncommon for an older man, one whose wanderlust has mellowed, to take a younger bride. And you also cannot pretend that age will deter Saeryn. Or at least it would not have before..."

He sighed heavily. "I only wish she would tell me what transpired while I was away. Yes," he said suddenly, "of course I will ask her forgiveness. And she need not even apologize to me. I am so grateful already that she is alive; more than that I dare not ask for fear of being counted amongst those who are too lucky in life."
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Old 08-14-2008, 11:32 AM   #225
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Kara

Kara had been more pleased than she had expected when Nain had returned her hug with, if not equal fervour, then at least a few seconds of true warmth. She hadn't meant to make him uncomfortable but her joy at seeing him overrode what she knew of Dwarves and their discomfort with such shows of affection, and it delighted her that he was willing to forgive the action. His words, however, were as proper as they had ever been, and she noticed with a tinge of confusion that his old habit of stammering around her seemed to have returned.

"I see the move from Edoras has not harmed your health, what is the news about you. I mean! What is new about... here. Around here."

He had said, falling over his words and meanings as he went. She wondered whether it was simply that he had been away for such a time and had forgotten his ease with her, but as he had spoken she had seen his eyes flicker to a point behind her. A quick glance over her shoulder while Nain was studying the floor told her that the source of his slight distraction had been Crabannan, who was still eating but was now frowning again. Kara remained confused, but was determined to enjoy her friend's company for now and figure it all out later.

"There is little news about me if you did want to know," she said, tongue in cheek as his eyes flicked up to hers for a moment, "except that I think I may finally have convinced Frodides to stop looking over my shoulder at everything I do. As to what is new around here, well, I think you can see that for yourself! We have a fair amount of work to do yet but much has been done already in rebuilding this place, and there are also a number of new faces. In fact here is one now."

She stood aside slightly so that Nain's view of Crabannan was no longer blocked.

"This is Crabannan who has been with us near a month now I think. Crabannan this is Nain, who was a guest at the old Hall and is a very good friend of mine."

The two males shot glances at both each other and at her, and after a pause Kara gave up. Proper introductions could wait for another time if they were determined not to speak to one another.

"Well, at any rate." She said, interrupting the staring contest. "It is so good to see you Nain, are you to stay with us again?"

~ ~ ~

Frodides

Frodides had not been surprised when the young woman before her had burst into tears, she was only glad that she had given Saeryn the blunted knife considering the number of hurts they had in the kitchen even when her girls weren't sobbing their hearts out. She still had no real idea what had occurred, Saeryn's words had been impassioned rather than informative, but that didn't mean she couldn't offer generic wisdom. The soothing comments had seemed to help, Saeryn was now sitting upright again with a determined look in her eyes, but now the girl was looking for real advice and Frodides had to use her considerable number of years at the centre of all gossip as well as her knowledge of the people involved in order to try and work out something relevant to say.

"And so I’ll just have to make up to him, ‘s all, and Eodwine, too. I should apologize, right, Frodides? And Eodwine will understand, right?”

"I suppose 'him' is Degas is it?" Frodides inquired gently, having come to this conclusion due to the warmth that filled Saeryn's voice even as she cried.

"It is." Saeryn agreed.

"And you've offended him somehow? Eodwine too?"

Saeryn nodded miserably.

"Well then," Frodides said with a sniff, "I think an apology would work wonders. Your brother couldn't stay angry with you however hard he tried, it's not in his nature to take against you, and I think the same is true of Eodwine."

The slight smile that appeared on Saeryn's face as she spoke encouraged Frodides to continue. She was saying only what she thought and wasn't pretending otherwise but she was quite sure of herself all the same.

"You apologise to them when they come to their senses and come to find you," she said, patting Saeryn's hand, "and I'll wager you will find them both very understanding. No don't go looking for them now," she continued as Saeryn made to get up and leave, "if you interrupt them you might find they haven't calmed down quite enough for your apology to be heard. You stay here and let yourself calm a little more, and then it should be smiles all round when the time comes. Alright?"
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Old 08-14-2008, 12:45 PM   #226
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"It's alright, Kara. Nain and I met this morning," interrupted Crabannan, looking down at his plate. "Glad to meet any friend of Kara's." He concentrated on carefully wiping the last bits of breakfast with a crust of bread as Kara and Nain conversed about Scarburg and memories and old times and times to come.

He felt out of place among these old friends, and he could tell that Nain was less than comfortable with his presence. What has he heard? he wondered. The usual, doubtless: brawler, rogue, ruffian. He sighed and felt suddenly old. I've done all that and more.

Crabannan stood abruptly. Kara and Nain looked at him. Muttering something about being in the way, he strode headlong into the kitchen with his empty plate, Frodides or no Frodides.
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Old 08-14-2008, 01:35 PM   #227
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Erbrand's face broke into a large smile as Léof examined the newly made saddle, and insisted that Léof should take it as a gift for looking after Traveller.

“Then I accept your gift,” Léof said finally, “and I thank you for it. I shall have to try it out soon; it has been a while since I have taken Æthel out riding anyway.”

"It is a gift well earned," Erbrand responded, "You're so much unlike myself when I was your age. You're compassionate and a hard worker, mature beyond your years, you will make a fine man when you come of age." Here Erbrand stopped himself. He didn't mean to preach and he certainly didn't want to become sentimental, feelings was not something he felt comfortable sharing with people.

"I, uhh... I know that you'll put it to good use," he continued, "but don't work so hard today, it's a day of rest, and I expect to see you in the races today with Æthel."

Léof proudly walked over to his horse, which he was grooming and patted him on the neck.

"We'll do our best. Won't we boy?" The horse affectionatlely nuzzled his against his masters embrace and stomped his foot as if he knew what was just said.

"My best wishes and to you boh then." And with another thanks from Léof Erbrand left them to return to the solitude of his tent, but no sooner had he turned away from Léof he heard a familiar voice.

"I wouldn't mind having me one of those, not bad at all." Erbrand turned startled at first, but relaxing once he saw Lithor a few stalls down from Léof saddling his own horse.

"A good morning to you Lithor," he replied, "But I don't take kindly to those who eavesdrop on my private conversations, you might have to pay extra to get one now." Lithor laughed at his attempted joke.

"No time for bribes or work today, I'm just on my way to announce that the festivities are about to begin. We will have races, archery, and feats of strength for the games today. Music and dance with plenty of ale too, you can't beat a day such as this."

"Tell me, I have not seen the children today. I would think that they would be here urging for the day to begin."

"Javan's merry band has gone off to practice archery somewhere, but I expect that they'll return before things get underway."

"Very well, then I shall return to my tent. If there is to be music I wish to get my fiddle in tune."

"Between your fiddle and Crabannan's harp, it will be merry entertainment. Make sure that you reserve a dance with a pretty gal." At this Lithor winked, "well, I best go make the announcement, I'll shall see you later." Lithor waved back to him as he walked towards the kitchens, and he guessed who Lithor meant him to reserve a dance with. Lithor always had that kind subtlety about him that Erbrand liked, always making suggestions that confirmed Erbrand's desires and giving him some extra encouragement at the same time.

As he walked back to his tent Erbrand began to feel uncomfortable at the mentioning of Crabannan. He knew now that he had acted rashly and wrong this morning, and he knew that he would have to apologize for his actions if their were to be any comfortable feelings between them today. Swallowing his pride wouldn't be easy for him, it never was. He picked up his fiddle and pluck the strings to tune it. As he did this he went over in his head what he would say to Crabannan, but this brought back to his mind his feelings about Kara. Soon Crabannan was no longer of his mind, and was the least of his worries.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:24 PM   #228
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"Well, at any rate. It is so good to see you Nain, are you to stay with us again?"

Náin's glare at Crabannan, which was as unconscious at it was suspicious, was broken, and he turned to Kara, who it seemed either did not know how much trouble Crabannan was, or else had decided to ignore it. That was odd--from what Náin remembered, there wasn't much likelihood that Crabannan was anything other than trouble, and his Dwarven tendency towards harbouring unyielding opinions did not predispose him to change his mind.

Crabannan interrupted before Náin could reply, though.

"It's alright, Kara. Náin and I met this morning. Glad to meet any friend of Kara's."

Náin, in his stubbornness, did not want to admit it, but Crabannan almost sounded contrite about their mutual glaring, and it irked him that the troublemaker should be more considerate to Kara than he was. He decided to ignore the matter--and Crabannan--and respond to the question.

"To answer you, Kara, I do not know how long I will be here. I will be here a few days at least, to assess the situation for building in stone with Eodwine--or more likely with Garstan and Stigend. Then I journey to Edoras to meet Gimli and report to him on the same. If he wishes, and King Eomer agrees, I could be back then, and on that matter, do you know if Garstan or Stigend have passed by for breakfast yet? I expect going over the situation, especially if we set up a quarry, as I propose, will take much of the day, and I would get started."

"I'm not sure," said Kara, "but it doesn't matter, because today is a holiday, so I don't expect you'll be getting much work done at all today."

Náin was about to ask what they were celebrating, and with what events, but Crabannan abruptly stood up and resolutely marched into the makeshift kitchen. Kara blanched, and Náin glanced from the kitchen to her.

"Is he not supposed to be in there?" he asked, not sure if he was hoping for a chance to haul the troublemaker out by his toes or that he was finally rid of him for that day.
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:25 AM   #229
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Kara was under no illusions about the state of things between Nain and Crabannan. If the revelation that they'd already met hadn't given her pause for thought the way that Nain barely acknowledged Crabannan's words would have for certain. Her Dwarven friend was not a naturally warm person, but nor did he often slight people in that way. Nevertheless she let it be, far more eager to find out Nain's plans than to pick him up on any incivility. And so she listened and chatted happily, until Crabannan stormed his way into the kitchen.

"Is he not supposed to be in there?" Nain asked, clearly surprised by the reaction Kara realised she had given.

"Oh, well," Kara began, backing into the kitchen a little to find out just exactly what the state of things was, "no of course he's allowed to be in there it's just that ..."

"Just that what?" Nain asked, following her.

"Well, it's just that Frodides really doesn't get on with him and he does tend to make it worse for himself." Kara said, finding to her relief that so far Frodides was still involved with Saeryn. "So he usually stays outside. I don't know why he's just gone rushing in there, he knows what she's like."

She glanced at Nain as she spoke and was surprised to see a knowing look pass across his face. She was about to call him on it when she heard voices approaching the kitchen, and found Eodwine and Degas of all people walking toward the doorway.

"Good morning Kara." Eodwine spoke before Kara could ask about this new arrival. "Is Saeryn inside?"
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:54 PM   #230
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Lithor

The tent was full when as he approached it. Good, he thought to himself, saves me the trouble of running after everyone. Borrowing a stool from a nearby table, he placed it in the middle of the tent and fearlessly stood on it raising his arms aloft.

"Your attention please, everyone, your attention for a moment!" he patiently waited for the commotion in the tent to die down before he continued. "Thank you kind people, I will take but a moment of your time. We have been working very hard this last month on building our new settlement here in Scarburg, and I think that it's safe to say that we have long needed a day of rest and recuperation." he was answered with cheers and applause, Lithor raised him arms for everyone to stay silent.

"That day is finally here, our gracious lord Eodwine has proclaimed a day of rest and festivities. There will be races, on horseback and on foot, tests of strength, feats of archery, and dueling." this was met with loud applause, mainly from the men. "But there will also be dancing, with music, singing, and a great fire later tonight along with a marvelous dinner, already prepared, to wrap up the festivities." This was again met with louder applause, this time the women joining in on the excitement.

"Therefore, eat hardy now, for with lord Eodwine's permission the games will begin after breakfast!" Lithor couldn't help himself from cheering along with the people as he began to step down from his stool.

"Oh, and it any of you men want to participate in the games today just tell me and I'll take care of it."

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Old 08-16-2008, 02:27 AM   #231
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Eodwine

Eodwine and Degas came back to the kitchen where they found Crabannan, Kara, Ginna, and Naín.

"Good morning Kara, is Saeryn inside?" Rowenna and Nydfara walked in as Eodwine asked his question, which was unsettling for at least two reasons: so far these two had stayed far from each other, and here they were walking together apparently exchanging familiar conversation; and Rowenna had come in just in time to hear him ask after Saeryn. Were the two women rivals fying for him as potential husband? He was not even sure that was so; still, he was unsettled.

Before Kara could reply, the irrepressible Lithor bounded in and stood on a stool and began to make an announcement that Eodwine should have made himself, but having been occupied with so much else, was glad that Lithor had taken the initiative. He would have to reward him later. By the time Lithor had finished, Harreld and Erbrand had arrived, and there was much talk about who would best whom in which games.

Kara did manage to inform Eodwine in the midst of the chatter that Saeryn was with Frodides inside. Eodwine motioned for Degas to precede him into the kitchen. Rowenna followed them in and set the side of meat where it was needed, then left.

Frodides looked up (Saeryn's back was to them). "Ah, look who we have here!"
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:39 PM   #232
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Erbrand

There was a loud cheering in the tent and Erbrand guessed that Lithor was giving his speech. He slid the fiddle back into its case for later that day, and started towards the kitchen. Harreld had just come out of his smithy and was standing at the door, wiping his blackened hands in his apron.

“Harreld,” Erbrand called, waving his hands to get the man’s attention, “the festivities are starting.”

At this the blacksmith darted back inside his smithy and then emerged with clean hands and no apron; their was a smile on his face as he joined Erbrand in walking to the kitchen.

They arrived just as Lithor finished his speech, but not before they heard what was going on. Harreld’s face lit up at the mention of the tests of strength, Erbrand knew that Harreld could match and beat anyone in the entire camp, that much had been proven by his hard work in the last month. He didn’t doubt that Harreld was a gentle man, but he was also known to be a bit clumsy with it, too many times had Erbrand been the victim of a crushing handshake that would make any man wince. He intended to stay clear of him when it came to fighting.

Erbrand soon became closed in with the people that swarmed around Lithor with their requests. Separated from Harreld, he stumbled and pushed his way out of the crowd and into the open. His body was teaming with excitement. At last he would be able to prove his worth. It would be a chance for everyone to show their skill and he wanted to excel more than anything. It was not a test to see if he came first in every competition, it was a test against himself. To see if he was tough and callous as his aloof nature portrayed him to be. He swallowed hard the thought of humiliation in front of the entire camp.

No, he thought to himself, No! Not today, focus on the task and you will succeed. This calmed him a bit, but the thought persisted to unease him: how could he face his friends, how would he face Dan if he failed? His pride was everything to him.

It was then that he noticed that Dan was nowhere to be seen, which jogged his memory that the boys were still missing (the boys were often seen near Dan). Puzzled over their absence, even though none of the others seemed to notice it, not even Modtryth: the usually vigilant mother of Cenebba. It was not like the boys to be gone for so long in the morning; convinced that something was wrong he decided to go check on them himself. He did not mean to step out of line and anger Modtryth for being nosey, something he had hoped he was not known for. Still, he couldn’t help but feel a little curious about their talent in archery.

He opened the door to the stall that held his horse and hoisted himself on Traveller's bare back. He prodded Traveller along at a nice easy trot before steadily progressing it up to a full gallop. Erbrand felt the same restlessness in his horse that he was feeling as the horse through back his head and whinnied loudly, it would serve them both well in the race today.

Before long Erbrand spotted the boys a ways off, who did not seem to notice him. Garmund and Cnebba were a ways off shooting their arrows at some stumps, while Javan silently, and solemnly, observed the boys. Erbrand spurred his horse forward, watching them with his stern discerning eyes as they practiced. He stopped his horse around a dozen yards behind Javan, and unknown to Javan silently watched Cnebba and Garmund.

Cnebba: the showoff of the three, was always in the front trying to get the best shot, while the more reserved Garmund battled with him for a fair shot. Although to a man such as Stigen or Eodwine this situation might seem dangerous, but Erbrand watched proudly as the boys kept their horses under control and fired decent shots with their bows (he was lost in the moment so much that he did not hear Javan’s shouting in a futile attempt to restrain them). Both the boys, with arrows knocked in their strings, walked their horses alongside each other, waiting for their chance to shoot, but soon their pace quickened in an attempt to outdo the other; before they reached their target the horses had gotten up to a trot. The boys fired simultaneously at the stump, with Cnebba in the lead, and the arrows hit almost perfectly. Whether it happened by luck or by skill Erbrand was amazed. He laughed loudly, which he always did when well satisfied, and clapped his hands in approval.

Javan swung around, startled at the unknown intrusion on their privacy. Javan’s abrupt movement startled Erbrand as well, he had forgotten that he was uninvited and unannounced. He immediately stopped and hung his head in embarrassment, until he looked like a hound that had just been rebuked by it’s master. He nudged Traveller closer to Javan.

“My apologizes, Javan,” he said, looking up into Javan’s eyes as if he were the lesser of the two, “I did not mean to spy on you as you may think.” Erbrand looked at Garmund and Cnebba, who had noticed his arrival. “You have taught them well,” he said again, thinking it wiser to change the subject before brining them back, “skilled hands such as those will prove well in the contest today. It is clear that lord Eodwine was not mistaken in choosing you for this task.” Erbrand's lips began to curl in a genuine smile.

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Old 08-19-2008, 07:32 AM   #233
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Modtryth was inspecting an ale barrel that was leaking according to Frodides. She could actually agree with that, for there was a narrow ring of spilt ale around the barrel. Modtryth just couldn't see any holes or loose seams. She was used to working in noisy spaces, but the current crowd in the kitchen made her curious. Somehow, half of the people of the Mead Hall had found their way to the kitchen. The boys weren't present, though, as Modtryth noted with a satisfaction of sorts. They were practising like they were supposed to. Modtryth was glad they had turned out to be so hard-working, although she didn't quite approve of what they were learning. But she of course was in no position to criticise the Eorl's decision, especially as it was so staunchly supported by the boys' fathers.

There was movement in the corner of her eye. She turned, and Lèodern rushed to her. "I found more twigs!" the girl exclaimed in delight. The two of them had woken up early this day, eaten breakfast and gone to collect twigs. There never were too many of them, yet they were needed for the fires. They of course got a lot of twigs from the felled trees, but the wood was young and moist while firewood was supposed to be dry. Modtryth smiled at the girl, who had been surprisingly enthusiastic about the task. "Excellent. Do you remember where we put the ones we collected earlier? You could..."

"Your attention please, everyone, your attention for a moment!" a loud voice interrupted. Modtryth fell silent, her lips closed tightly in a disapproving manner. She had no idea what this guardsman called Lithor would say, but she knew he was one of those people she rather intuitively and irrationally disliked. The man was more than a little older than she herself was, but behaved as if he was much younger. If you asked Modtryth, judging by Lithor's behaviour he could be closer to Javan's, or even Cnebba's, age.

The man proceeded with some nonsense about everybody having worked hard to rebuild Scarburg. Sure they had worked hard, but did they need this braggart guardsman to tell it to them? Modtryth tried not to show her irritation.

Finally, Lithor got to the point. Although she had never been enthusiastic about games or excessive eating, Modtryth was delighted by the news of the upcoming happenings. People were usually on good humour during festivities and this was a company where there would be no drunken quarrels or where no talk of filthy Dunlendings would be initiated after a few pints. Or so she hoped. She was looking forward to the evening and was applauding and cheering with the others, but she couldn't help wondering why Lord Eodwine didn't make the announcement himself.

"I want to dance," Lèodern decided, bringing Modtryth's attention back to her. "I'm sure you can dance, and every single man in the Hall will be delighted to dance with such a fine lady." Lèodern giggled, but there was a thoughtful look in her eyes. Modtryth supposed she was thinking about her friend, Lady Linduial, who was now in Gondor.

"Anyway, Lèodern, what I was about to say was that you should take those twigs where we took the ones we collected just a moment ago. Also, I don't think your father knows anything about these festivities yet. You could be the first one to tell him."

Lèodern's face lit up with delight, she took the twigs and ran off. Modtryth was about to turn back to the leaking barrell, when she heard Frodides exclaim: "Ah, look who we have here!" To her surprise, Modtryth saw young lord Degas in the company of Lord Eodwine. She forgot about the barrel. This was far more interesting.

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Old 08-20-2008, 08:57 PM   #234
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Searyn had obeyed Frodides when the elderly cook had told her to sit and wait. She remained at the small table, peeling potatoes with half a will. Her tears were finally drying, and she set her mind to how she would word her apology when the time came.

She did not turn her head when she heard Lithor giving his announcement, though her hands paused in their work and she listened to him. She nodded when he was through and the potato lost another strip of skin, when Frodides, looking up beyond Saeryn, said, “Ah, look who we have here!”

Saeryn glanced up at her and saw the bright, expectant light in her eyes and turned sharply around. She froze like a startled deer for half a second and then she shut her mouth, whipped back around, and gathered her courage. The next moment she was on her feet, the potato and knife laid aside, and slowly turned to face Eodwine and Degas.

“My lord,” she said, quietly. Her hands twisted together in front of her. She looked at Degas and met his eye. “Brother.” Vaguely, she was aware of Frodides getting up and quietly slipping away, giving them as much privacy as the corner of the crowded tent could afford. She tried to remember what she had planned to say, but looking now at Degas again, the words didn't come. “I acted badly outside a little while ago,” she faltered. Her eyes fell away from Degas’ face and she looked down at the ground between them. “I am sorry.”
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:23 AM   #235
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Degas was torn now between reactions. At another time, he would swing Lèodern into his arms and ask her many questions, listening delightedly as she responded at full speed and with many irrelevant details. His first thoughts at her arrival were that -- was it possible she could have grown so much in so short a time? -- he wanted to sing her a song he had written for her; and also his heart ached for Linduial, who had become fast friends with the little girl. Lin, who was with the beautiful queen, who Degas had not yet stopped to see. When, he wondered, could he see her? Before he saw his own lands? Before he measured the damage with his own eyes? Could he in good conscience ride to Edoras before leaving for the Folde, to see his betrothed, to speak his mind to her and seek her advice? Would she ride with him?

And what would her reaction be? Where they would live had been uncertain: as liason to the king and queen, they would need to be in Edoras; Lotherial had made it clear that appropriate lodgings would be available for her dear young cousin. But married, with a small family? Degas wanted to bring Lin home with him, to raise children where he was raised. To teach boys to play in the lofts of the stables, and to show them how to be men the way his father had taught him. Except he wouldn't leave them. He would not die before they were ready to live without him. But would Lin be happy there? The child-bearing wife of the lord of a modest set of lands, with a village at which many strangers stopped between Edoras and Gondor. Would she be content to live at Degas's home, now that he had one?

"Saeryn," he said slowly, his mind returning to the moment, "I would like you to tell me what transpired, so that I may return to the Folde with an understanding of what I must do for our people. I am lothe to return uninformed to meet people who ask me the very questions you did. You were right: I will not be welcomed with open arms, with weeping old women and stiff lipped men. I will be viewed with suspicion, and with, perhaps, anger. I have been distant, and then I have been absent. They do not know me. I do not know what resentment I must placate. The very least I can do is return with the truth of the events clear in my mind, with a plan at least beginning to form."

"Degas, you are not staying?" asked Lèodern sadly, eyes wide.

"No, most beautiful lady," he responded, kneeling, "Do you see how the buildings here have been hurt, and the land is sad, and your father and all others must work very hard to make this place a happy one again?"

She nodded.

"My home is sad too. I must go and help build beds to sleep in, and roofs to keep out rain. I must help cook and clean, and I must make many new friends."

"You have friends here," she said simply.

Degas looked up, and saw Eodwine watching, and Saeryn's sad eyes, and Frodidas listening from across the kitchen. Not far away, he heard Nain's voice, and that of Kara. He was fond of Kara. He would miss her friendly face when he left.

"And I will come to visit my friends here. I hope very much that my friend Eodwine will think someday of me as family, as I do him, and that we shall visit each other as brothers would, and speak as freely."

At that moment, Degas resolved to speak with Garstan. Perhaps it would be possible for Lèodern to be brought under the tutelage and care of Linduial. It was not unheard of for children to be raised amongst others, where they could learn new skills and help to develop friendships where before there was nothing. Lèodern would be well tended, and educated, and Linduial adored her as he did. It would be well to give Lin projects for her minds and her emotions, and perhaps the experience would teach Linduial much about motherhood. It would be a great comfort to Degas to have Lèodern's pretty face smiling amidst the sorrow he expected to find at a home he had not seen in many years.
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:48 AM   #236
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He wanted her to tell him what happened. He told her why. That he wanted to go back. She could scarcely believe him. Not that she doubted that he wanted to act honorably - he was always honorable - but it was so dangerous. A shadow of doubt and fear crossed her face, but Degas did not see it as he turned to meet Leoðern’s question.

Saeryn smiled a little as Degas knelt to answer. He had always liked children and he seemed to care especially for this little girl. It may have been for Linduial’s sake that Degas so cherished Leoðern. Now her twin tried to explain to Leoðern why he must go, but that he would come back and there would be visiting between all of them.

“I hope very much that my friend Eodwine will think someday of me as family, as I do him, and that we shall visit each other as brother’s would, and speak as freely.”

A gentle infusion of red colored Saeryn’s pale cheeks. Whether or not Degas meant it, she caught the hint - and she dared not look up at Eodwine standing nearby, hearing everything just as well as she.

Degas was finishing with Leoðern. “You promise to come and visit and not leave for a long time again?” she asked.

Degas nodded, then added, “Unless great need causes me to lea ve. But I will come back.”

The little girl hugged Degas tightly around the neck, drew back with a smile, and hurried away. With her worries put to rest, the preparation of the games appealed strongly to her now. Degas sighed, looking after her, and then stood up again and faced Saeryn.

“Can we talk somewhere else?” she asked.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:12 PM   #237
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Degas longed to embrace his sister, to make her forget her wounds and smile. She had been such a troublesome child, all innocent tricks and laughter. She had delighted the people with her bright eyes and merry smile. How long had it been since Degas had seen that smile? Not since Father had been alive. Perhaps she had smiled thusly since, yet he had been away. He had not seen it.

"Yes, darling, of course we can speak elsewhere." He turned to Eodwine, saying, "Friend, is there a place here we can speak freely without our voices carrying easily to others?"
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:57 PM   #238
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Javan didn’t like being snuck up on. Not at all! Especially when whoever it was would have witnessed this complete lack of control and safety. He was disgusted with himself and with Cnebba and Garmund.

But Erbrand did not seem worried at all by what he had just witnessed. He seemed a little disconcerted about Javan’s sharp, accusing look, and even apologized for coming unannounced. But he quickly went on into a new strain of speech. “You have taught them well! Skilled hands such as those will prove well in the contest today. It is clear that lord Eodwine was not mistaken in choosing you for this task.”

“Well,” said Javan, in embarrassed modesty. He didn’t know whether it would be proper to smile while receiving such praise, so instead he tried to keep his face straight, ending only with a comical looking grimace. “Well, they’re not as good yet as they could be.” Nevertheless, his eye sparkled as he looked at Garmund and Cnebba riding slowly up to them. “What’s this about a contest, though?”

Erbrand told them, for by now all three boys were sitting near him. By the time he had finished describing the games to be played, all three of them had bright looks on their faces.

“Go and fetch your arrows, lads!” Javan cried. “We’ve got to go mark our places in the games before all the grown ups fill the lists!”
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Old 08-23-2008, 07:30 AM   #239
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Scyld

“I think you are showing off,” replied Scyld, feeling at once amused and confused. He had tried several times now this morning to jilt her and had only succeeded in brightening her spirits. More than that, if he was any judge of a woman’s body language, she was even flirting with him. He had noticed, for example, how she had shifted the meat to the hip away from him so as to give him a better view of her swinging hips. So what did she want from him?

“Perhaps,” she replied neutrally, still grinning.

“And I think that your skill is not so much a game as you would have me think,” Scyld continued, “but your purposes are your own.” And with that comment they had reached the baker and the conversation was at its end. Without another word he turned and parted from her company. Quite an interesting woman indeed; it would behoove him to keep closer watch on her.

As he entered the company of the rest of the camp, word was abuzz of a day of celebration and contests. Well, that was very fine, though Scyld did not imagine that he should himself have much part in the games. His mental skills far exceeded his physical. No matter; the day would have other purposes.
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Old 08-23-2008, 12:35 PM   #240
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine

"Friend," asked Degas, "is there a place here we can speak freely without our voices carrying easily to others?"

"I fear that there is no such place unless you desire the mess of someone's tent. I suggest that you take a walk outside the bounds of Scarburg, out in the open where no one can eavesdrop without being seen first."

Rowenna

“I think," said Nydfara, " that your skill is not so much a game as you would have me think; but your purposes are your own.” She raised her brow, her smile a little lessened, as they came to the kitchen. With that Nydfara moved away, and she placed the side of meat in Frodides' salt bed until it was needed later.

Lithor was talking up the games that would be played this day, and Rowenna, feeling much lighter and more playful than usual, was taken into the excitement. She went up to Lithor and poked him on the shoulder. He turned.

"Yes?"

"I want to be in the task path race, dagger throwing contest, three legged race, and the horse race!"

"Lass," he said with a look of mild scorn, "you have no horse."

She allowed a pout to her lips. "I'll find one!"

"Can you even ride?" he asked.

"I am a daughter of an Eorling land holder. Horses are in my blood! You'll see."

"Then go talk to Léof and see if he has a horse, and we'll see if your riding is as bold as your talk!"

"I'll show you!" she called as she marched away. "And don't forget the other three games I'm in!"

She allowed herself a very brief glance to see if anyone was observing her, such as Nydfara. She did not see him. Where was Eodwine? She wanted him for the three legged race. No matter, she'd find him soon enough. Now to find Léof.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 08-23-2008 at 09:16 PM.
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