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Old 11-03-2008, 11:10 AM   #321
Groin Redbeard
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Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
It was a very dissapointing round for Erbrand. He watched with a sense frusteration and dissapointment as his throw sent the spear wide of the mark, his luck had surely run out. Crabannan had thrown quite well in both rounds, showing his consistancy and skill. Erbrand envied a man with that type of skill, especially since, where he was from, a man was measured by the his accuracy of his bow, swiftness of his sword, and the power of his throw. However, he was glad that Crabannan hadn't won, he liked Harreld and Degas better than the hot-headed brawler.

"I see that you have some tricks up your sleeve, Crabannan," said Erbrand as he approached him, "tell me where does a man, such as yourself, learn to handle a spear like that?"

"I've been many places," Crabannan responded coldly, "and I've learned many things from many people."

Erbrand's face grew sterner at Crabannan's shifty response, an outright insult in his opinion. It was no more than a way of refusing to answer a simple question.

"Then good luck with the other games, I hope that we might meet each other later in one of them." Crabannan smiled at Erbrand's disguised challenge. He hoped that he would respond approvingly.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:23 AM   #322
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It would finally be a day of games, when they could rest from all their hard work, and sit back and relax (when they weren't competing). A quick thought about that Oeric fellow flashed through his mind, but he didmissed it. Today he would forget all about the situation. Today he was determined to enjoy himself.

It was later in the morning, and Dan was going towards the grounds where the horse race was going to take place. This would be fun to watch. He saw an unusually happy Erbrand ran straight towards him.

“Dan,” he called, joyfully.

“There you are,” Dan smiled. He hadn't seen Erbrand this happy for ages “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Well you’ve found me now, come we can talk but first I need to warm up Traveller for the races.” He slapped Dan on the shoulder, “come on, I’ll race you to the horses!” And off he ran, leaving Daghan-turi-Dan behind, staring at him. Dan soon followed running up behind him, but as the Scar came into view something stopped him. His carefree mood left him and his faced shaped itself into a scowl. He shouted to Erbrand, telling him that he had some urgent business to attend to.

He ran towards the marshland, to where a month earlier he had found a man, hiding among the bushes, surreptitiously watching the encampment to see if they could offer him everything. The man that had been hiding before Dan had come to Scarburg, and was still hiding now. Oeric.

But something stopped him. This would not do. It was not time to bring back Oeric. Not time to drag back the man who had evaded capture for so long. If he left to find the man, people would wonder where he was, and might even send a search for him. Probably not. Only a few people liked him, and they would be occupied. No-one would miss a half-sized stranger. Still, he said to himself, there was always the risk that they would. If they did, then it would just make the situation worse and they would find Oeric. And that would make Dan look bad. He would be accused of treachery, of being a traitor and jeopardising the welfare of the camp. He could always pretend that he hadn't known Oeric was there, but he was sure he wouldn't be believed. Some knew his skills as a tracker all too well.

He had made up his mind that he would tell Eodwine, so he started off towards the stables again, but then he saw Rowenna bursting out of them, followed by Saeryn on horseback, with Eodwine just standing there with a strange expression on his face. Ah. This was definitely not a good time for him. What was happening he didn't know- and it wasn't his place to wonder. He'd find out soon enough, no doubt. Dan's problems would have to wait.

His internal struggle over, he paced over to the grounds where the horse race would take place and waited for the race to start. He smiled again.

--

After the horse race, there had been the foot race. Dan had never been that good at running, compared to the fellows back home. Even the fasted would have found it hard to compete, as they would have to make to steps for each one a Rohir took. When Erbrand had won the long distance race he went over to try to congratulate him, but was blocked by an impassable croud. He had resolved to talk to him later.

The three-legged race had gone on as planned. He had laughed, along with much of the crowd, at Degas and Little Léoðern. It looked like a fun race. It was a shame he had had no-one to run with. Even Erbrand had someone. But he was just a "wild man", and no-one liked him. He would probably have even less of a chance in the dance later on.

The task-path had been fun. He had almost won! The thought of the race brought a smile to his lips. He was glad it hadn't been too serious, like some events he had seen elsewhere. It was just a chance to have a bit of fun. It was probably, Dan thought, the only time he and Eodwine could run into each other and laugh about it afterwards.

The stone-throwing was notable to watch. He had thought it a mere child's game, and many others seemingly took it less seriously as well, but even if it was, it was true that childre's games were often the most fun. Anyway, Javan wasn't even there and a few men had gotten excited and joined.

Spear throwing had been interesting. He hadn't known how the competition would be run or what would happen. Nevertheless he had given it his best shot, and surprised himself with his score. He had hoped he could win this event, but it was not to be. He would have to wait until later to prove himself.

--

After the spear throwing contest, he resolved to go over and talk to Erbrand about the day so far, and congratulate him on his victories that day. And at the same time, he might find out how the whole Erbrand-Kara thing was going. But even though they were friends, he didn't really expect Erbrand to talk about that. However good he was about running, Erbrand had always seemed shy around women to Dan, and even shyer when talking about them. He knew now that something had changed din his attitude, as he had seen Erbrand and Kara talking happily together. But he would wait until Erbrand brought it up, which would probably be in a few days or even weeks. Dan wasn't impatient, and didn't mind people waiting a while to tell him things. What he didn't like was people purposefully hiding things from him.
Now that was hypocritical! he thought to himself, and his spirits lowered as he remembered about Oeric.

He pushed those thoughts aside, and went towards Erbrand who had just finished talking to Crabannan, disdainfully he thought.

"Hello there Erbrand!" he called.
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:29 PM   #323
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To Erbrand's satisfaction Crabannan accepted his offer under a facade of curtious talking. The sword fight was the most likely place for them to meet and have a chance to really get at each other, Erbrand wanted more than anything to beat the brawler at a fight, to beat him at his own game. Though he wasn't quite sure why he wanted to do this. The the seeds of resentment towards Crabanna had been sown almost since they had met a month ago but never before had the urge to clobber the brute been as strong as it was today. Erbrand pondered on this a moment, thinking it stupid and unprincipled of himself to want to fight a man without a proper reason. Then he remembered where the feelings of hatred at been the strongest: that morning outside his tent when Crabannan asked him about Kara.

Kara, he looked to where she was sitting gleefully with Ginna at her side. At that moment he felt ashamed of himself, ashamed that he had sunken as low as to want to strike a man who wanted the same thing that he did. It was her choice who she would spend her time with not his, so why should clobbering Crabannan change her mind, or is it even Kara that he was trying to prove himself to?

His conscience had unleashed its attacks of logic against his thinking and in a split second Erbrand was confused. Confused at what he was feeling, what the purpose of those feelings are, and what to do about it. He stood for a second thinking about what to do. He still disliked Crabanna and a fight would do him good, but was it all for the right reasons? Erbrand ran his rigid fingers through his hair and gritted his teeth. In the end all of his feelings came down to asking himself one question: what are my feeling towards Kara?

"Hello there Erbrand." came a familiar voice that rocked him out of his thoughtful trancelike state.

"Dan! I'm sorry my thoughts were else-where." his mood changed at his friends approach and soon he was smiling. "I missed you at the beginning of the games, where were you?"

"Oh, I had some business to attend to." came Dan's response, sounding as if he was caught off guard.

"Well wherever you were you must have learned a thing or two about racing. I've never seen a man move as fast as you did on the task-path." Dan laughed pure and carefree laugh.

"A hardened warrior and hunter must overcome many obstacles, though it was not as great as all that." Erbrand chuckled at Dan's attempt at humility.

"What were you preoccupied with?" asked Dan as they began walking to the wrestling location, Erbrand had told Dan that a copper of his will be riding on the outcome of Dan's performance.

Erbrand was slightly startled at Dan's inquisitiveness, it was not in his nature to ask even the most innocent of questions for fear that it might be taken as prying into another man's business. Erbrand looked away and sighed, he stopped walking and then turned as faced Dan, his arms folded across his chest.

"I'm troubled Dan," said Erbrand, trying to be as open as possible, "I've kept this thing to myself for far too long and I feel as if I will explode is I don't let it out." Dan listened patiently, his face not changing in expression. "I'm afraid of what I've become Dan, I eat less, I stay up late and when I do sleep I'm dreaming of the object of my thoughts, the very thing that I wish to avoid for fear of confusing myself with my feelings. I've gone over and over in my head on what to do, but it has come to no avail. She still haunts me wherever I go, I can't escape it."

Dan was surprised at Erbrand's openness, and to tell the truth Erbrand was surprised too.

"Ahh, I'm sorry Dan," said Erbrand, "you did not ask to hear my troubles, I have no right troubling you with them. We'll talk about this alter if you wish, but for now I think it's best if I let it be." Dan nodded in response.

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Old 11-11-2008, 11:15 AM   #324
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Degas

Rowenna turned to Degas. "My lord, you may not know it, but as you are now lord in The Folde, that makes you my liege. Will you be going there soon?"

Degas's merriment seemed to flicker a touch and he glanced at Saeryn before replying, "I will go there tomorrow by way of Edoras."
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:30 PM   #325
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Wrestling Match

Lithor and Wilcred had set up the circular ring not far from where the spear throwing contest had been held. Lithor described the simple rules. The two wrestlers would stand inside the ring (seven strides across), facing each other; the wrestler either forced his opponent on his back for three seconds, or forced him outside the ring first, would be the winner.

First up were Garstan and Stigend. After trading three feints, Garstan dove and got hold of Stigend's legs while Stigend grabbed him around the chest from atop. Stigend spread his legs out and so did Garstan, and neither could move the other. Garstan dropped to his knees and pushed forward, which compromised Stigend's stability, who found himself sitting on the ground with Garstan on top of him. He was able to turn over onto his stomach. But Garstan, with the advantage of hold and position, was able to move him in two huge shoves, closer to the edge of the ring. Little by little, Garstan nudged Stigend closer to the edge. Finally, despite Stigend's best efforts, he was made to cross the line first, and Garstan was declared the winner.

Next up were Matrim and Crabannan. They feinted grabs for each other five times. Then Crabannan, taking what seemed a huge risk, dove at the feet of Matrim and rolled, grabbing both his ankles in a trip; suddenly Matrim was on his stomach, Crabannan was again on his feet, and just as quickly, on his back holding him down. Matrim forced himself to his hands and knees, spread wide. Crabannan grabbed his left elbow in one hand and wrapped his arm around Matrim's back with his other. Matrim dropped his right shoulder and rolled, Crabannan rolling on his back beneath him, but Matrim was unable to stop the motion because Crabannan rolled through and had Matrim on his side and himself on top again. At this severe disadvantage, it was a matter of Matrim's strength working against leverage and Crabannan's working with, and within seconds Matrim was pinned to the ground on his back. Crabannan had won his first round.

Next up were Dan and Harreld. Dan was compact, his center of gravity naturally low; Harreld was almost all upper body strength and tall. The onlookers watched the oddest pairing possible. Harrreld charged, trying to grab Dan, who ducked and rolled and braced himself against the now righted Harreld, who was dangerously close to the edge of the ring. Neither of them moved though there was much grunting. Harreld tried to get down lower but his foot slipped and came within inches of the edge. He gained purchase and pushed Dan a foot toward the center. Harreld kept himself low and pushed against Dan, using his superior strength to nullify Dan's greater dexterity. He kept pushing. Slowly, the pair moved from one end of the ring to the other. When Harreld had pushed Dan past the center, Dan pivoted away and rolled, and Harreld fell on his stomach. Dan jumped on his back. Harreld pushed with his legs and tipped Dan over his head; Dan landed on his back; Harreld pounced on him and would not let him get purchase with any of his limbs. He shoved him inch by inch closer to the edge, and finally had him out. Harreld had won.

Next up were Aethelstan and Osmund. Aethelstan ran at Osmund, forcing his shoulder into his stomach; this knocked the wind out of Osmund and he crumbled to the ground. Aethelstan made quick work of his weakened opponent and had him on his back in a moment. Aethelstan had won.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-16-2008 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:24 AM   #326
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Wrestling Match, continued

Garstan and Crabannan stepped into the ring. Crabannan crouched and shifted from side to side, eyeing Garstan like a prey to be worsted. Garstan opened his eyes wide and exhaled a puff of air, shaking his head in doubt. Crabannan allowed a grim smile. He pounced like a tiger, grabbing Garstan by the right shoulder, placing his left foot behind Garstan's. Garstan tried to duck out of his sudden disadvantage, but found himself on his back and Crabannan on top of him; the match was over almost before it had begun.

Aethelstan and Harreld faced each other. Harreld had been watching Crabannan, and stole a glance his way, apparently impressed. But he gave his full attention to Aethelstan, who was almost as tall as he, but lanky. A canny look came into the fellow's eye; Harreld remembered what he had seen Aethelstan do to Osmund. Sure enough, Aethelstan lowered himself and aimed toward Harreld's midriff with his shoulder for a battering ram. Harreld was prepared; he sidestepped and used his hammerlike right fist to give Aethelstan a good pound on the back just below the offending shoulder, and Aethelstan found himself on all fours. Harreld dropped atop him and took hold of his left arm and midriff the way he'd seen Crabannan do to Matrim; but he remembered what Matrim had done, and didn't trust a back-roll. He used all the force of his planted knees and shoved Aethelstan onto his stomach. Aethelstan splayed himself to increase his center of gravity, but Harreld reached beneath Aethelstan's left shoulder and hip and, using the leverage of his knees against the ground again, and using the great strength of his smithying upper body, hoisted Aethelstan over onto his back, and planted himself on the man's chest. Harreld had won decisively.

The two finalists were allowed a rest and a drink before resuming the contest.

Harreld faced Crabannan in the ring. Harreld was broader of upper body and new how to use leverage as well as did Crabannan, but Crabannan had quickness in his favor. Both had relatively the same stamina, so it would be strength against quickness. Harreld knew that his best chance was to push Crabannan out of the ring. Crabannan knew that his best chance was to use Harreld's mass against him and by craft of technique, get him on his back or out of the ring, whichever opportunity availed itself.

They crouched and circled each other, and circled each other, making feints that the other did not buy. Both began to reveal a mirthless grin as both knew that the each waited for the other to make the first move. Both were patient men. But Crabannan was less patient than Harreld, and made the first move. It was a canny one, calculated to bring a reaction which needed to be the greater move, one big enough to be taken advantage of.

Crabannan dove for Harreld's left shin as if attempting to push it out from under the smith; Harreld pivoted to his left, ready to pounce on Crabannan's exposed back, but it was not there, for Crabannan had rolled past him, come back to his legs, and kicked backward with his left leg against the back of Harreld's left knee. Harreld lost his balance and went down to his knee. Crabannan's left leg found the ground and his back came down on Harreld's right side, so that Harreld fell to his left; Crabannan splayed his legs and flipped as quick as he could while Harreld righted himself: the result was Harreld on all fours, Crabannan atop him as with Matrim before. Both men knew that this was a position from which either wrestler could take advantage depending on who was quickest, and surprise of surprises, Harreld took initiative.

He immediately grabbed Crabannan's hand which was on his midriff, and rolled to his right, and stopped, with Crabannan partially on his back and Harreld's back on top of him. Crabannan knew that working against momentum was a sure way to lose, so he tried to roll through the spin, but Harreld splayed out and weighed him down so much that he found himself on his back. Lithor came in to count to three, but before he could get past "one", Crabannan got off one shoulder and slid as slippery as a fish onto his stomach beneath Harreld; which could not have happened unless Harreld had been on his back. All of these motions had moved them within two strides of the edge. Harreld saw this and began to shove Crabannan toward the edge. Crabannan was bigger and more lithe than either of Harreld's last two opponents, and would not be moved by sheer force.

Nothing happened for minutes as both men strove to hold their own position and not give any advantage to his foe. As time wore on, the greater strength of Harreld began to tell, and Crabannan found himself moved inch by slow inch toward the edge. He gritted his teeth and decided that he must take a risk.

to be continued.....
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:19 PM   #327
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Wrestling match, concluded

Crabannan took a risk. He had had plenty of time to think about what to do, and had settled on the only thing that he thought might work. There were two feet between his nose and the edge of the ring. It wasn't much space, but it would have to do. He forced himself up to his hands and knees, pushing all of Harreld's weight upward, still on top of him. The risk with this move was that all Harreld needed to do was push Crabannan forward and that much closer to the edge. On the other hand, Crabannan, if he could take the initiative, could from this position, grab Harreld's arm and roll him out of bounds. He grabbed for Harreld's arm. He missed. Harreld pushed. Crabannan was shoved forward, and across the line. Harreld had won.

A shout and a hollar went up and applause for both wrestlers, for the match had been a grueling one and a good one, between the obviously two best wrestlers in Scarburg, and perhaps in the whole Middle Emnet, or at least so said Eodwine proudly.

Harreld pushed himself to his feet, as did Crabannan. Harreld spoke first, smiling. "Well fought, friend. You are the best I have faced, and I deem it was just as much a matter of luck that you had the worst of it in the end." He held out his hand to Crabannan in an offer of sportsmanship.
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Old 11-14-2008, 11:01 AM   #328
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Lithor

Lithor, stood watching the wrestelers with crossed arms. He had never seen a match this intense and was glad when Harreld secured his victory less something go wrong: a dislocated shoulder or a broken arm were not all too uncome when the players get carried away.

"A well fought match wouldn't you say Wilcred?" he asked the old soldier.

"Indeed, I have never seen a man who could stand more than eight seconds in the ring with our Harreld, that Crabanna has a few tricks up his sleeve."

"Aye, if I were younger I might take him up on a few pointers to teach me, but I'm afraid that all I'd get out of it is sore limbs and an aching back." The two chuckled and looked at the contestants, who were by now gathered around the two victors (although Harreld had won, Crabanna was held first place for the best effort).

"I'll be back in a minute Wilcred."

"And just where do you think you are going? We need to start setting up for the next contest."

"Oh I'll be back in time to help, no fear about that, but I have a little business to take care of before then." and with that Lithor headed off to find Erbrand.

Erbrand

"What's wrong with you Matrim?" Erbrand asked in an amused voice, "you let Crabannan take you on a whim!"

"Beginners luck, I let him take me down. Besides," Matrim was now addressing Balvir, "it is not as easy as it looks."

"You really should have taken me up on my offer," said Balvir, "that mock of a match between you and Crabannan who have amused the highest court in the land." Balvir laughed loud at his joke, but Matrim followed him insisting that Balvir give it a try as well.

Dan was sitting down not far from the wresteling ring by himself when Erbrand approached him.

"My friend,well done! I must say you had me excited for a couple moments when you nearly tipped Harreld out of the ring. It was nothing more than bad luck that put you against the toughest man in Scarburg, if it were any lesser man I'm sure you would have won."
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:19 AM   #329
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During the wrestling matches

Saeryn had had enough rest by the time the wrestling matches were to begin. She, Rowenna, Eodwine, and Degas walked over with Garstan to take in the action.

"Who will win, Degas?" asked Eodwine.

"I know not, though I think Crabannan seems a likely one."

"I will wager my smith to win. Two Eorls against Crabannan."

"Done!" said Degas. Others offered their two Eorls for their own favorite wrestler, and soon there was a tidy little pot which Eodwine, who was reasonably good at numbers, cheerfully rendered into 1st and 2nd place prizes. Most of the wagers centered around Harreld and Crabannan.

"Poor Dan," said Erbrand sadly to Kara after Dan's bout with Harreld, "he never had a chance against that giant Harreld."

Crabannan overheard the comment. "He really didn't. Harreld is simply too big and strong."

"Too big for you?" Erbrand challenged.

"We shall see," Crabannan smirked.

While Harreld and Crabannan rested before their final match, the losers of the previous rounds added their wagers to the pot.

"I wager Crabannan will win!" Garstan declared with a shake of his head. "He is canny!"

"Crabannan may be quick of hand and foot," replied Dan, "but the smith has such strength as to best the quickest! I'll place my wager for the smith!"

"My coin is on Crabannan," said Erbrand. "That man is too shifty and determined to lose."

The match was underway.

"Go Harreld, Go!" cried Thornden. "I hope the smith wins," he said with a grin.

When the final match was done, the all gave the two wrestlers a well deserved round of applause. But then Eodwine frowned. Though he had wagered on Harreld, enough of the others had also, that the winning was a mere two for one, and he got only four Eorls for the two he had placed in the pot.

"At least you won!" Degas cried. "I will have my coin back before this day is done. You are winning too much of my gold so far, Eodwine!"

"You will have your chance, my friend," Eodwine grinned.

Saeryn shook her head to Rowenna. "Men and their wagers," she said. Rowenna laughed.
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:40 PM   #330
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Saeryn chuckled, her eyes bright with merriment, and she addressed Degas. “You should stop wagering against Eodwine, Degas,” she said. “He’s won every wager so far this day! And if you keep it up against him, you’ll have no coin with which to manage your affairs back home!”

Degas smiled, but didn’t answer. He probably fully intended to make at least one or two more wagers that day. Saeryn stepped towards him with a question she had wanted to ask before the wrestling had begun.

“Are you really leaving as soon as tomorrow? You only arrived today.”
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:28 PM   #331
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"Yes, darling," he said, watching the others, and speaking quietly, "I must. I came here to ask Eodwine if he had heard news of you only: I would not have come elsewise. But you are here, and safe, and I am satisfied that you shall remain so, so I mustn't linger. Our people need me rather more than I am needed here."

Saeryn's joke about the depth of Degas's purse stung, though she had not meant it to. But this he kept from her, so as not to quench her merriment. He did not know the state of things at home, and he had little money of his own. There had perhaps been looting. The hold would be tantalizing to thieves and brigands, in a state of disarray and without a lord to lead the people. The very people who overthrew Fenrir may have helped themselves to his coin. Or, as Degas believed, Fenrir had been none too careful with the coins himself in his last days.

Regardless, Degas's faith in the assets of the Folde was weak. The morning would come all too soon, and he would need to speak with Linduial, to inform her of what had transpired, to learn her mind. And then he would need to enter his lands once more, to claim his lordship, and to rebuild both homes and trust.

"Yes," he repeated, "I must leave tomorrow. To wait shall only make my task more difficult. Is there anything you would have me do before I depart?"
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:09 AM   #332
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Erbrand & Lithor

There was a sudden tapping on his shoulder, and Erbrand turned around to see the beaming Lithor with his empty hand outstretched as to recieve something. Erbrand made a face of dissaproval and dug his hand into his pocket, retrieving his copper which he had won that morning from lord Eodwine. Lithor laughed and closed his hand around his copper as it was placed in his palm.

"I don't usually gamble, Erbrand," he said, "but I am no fool and can see when there is easy money to be made. Your man didn't make it through the first round." he laughed again and shook Erbrand on the shoulder as if the motion would cause him to laugh as well.

'Aye, but he held his own for a little while. Just wait 'till the sword duels, Dan will more than hold his own."

"Sword duels are tricky, even when in sport, and the loss of an ear or finger is not too uncommon. Still, you are right when you say that the Drudian will hold his own, and I daresay that that character Crabannan will show us some more of his tricks when that time comes." They both looked over to where Crabannan was, shaking hands and accepting the congratulations of the entire camp.

"Magnificent outhere, wasn't he?" asked Lithor, his face pointed towards Crabannan but his eyes shifting to glance at Erbrand.

"Yes, I must admit that for awhile I was rooting for him. I can expect a worthy challenge from him later on in the duels."

Lithor shot a worried look over at his friend. He recognized that determined look in his eyes from when he was young. It was a look that had cost him pain and heartache to that day and he eyed Erbrand with an unusually stern expression.

"Be careful what you do, my friend," said Lithor, "pride has hurt and killed more men than hunger and war ever will." Erbrand looked back up at the guard who was by no means amused.

"I can handle myself with him, although he may beat me, he will not harm me. I am stronger and just as quick witted as he is, this should even out the odds against me. Besides, I have something else planned for later tonight, so I shall be extra careful about him. You need not worry about me, Lithor."

"You know your own talents best." Lithor remarked simply and after thanking him went to set up the targets for the archery contest, tossing his coin as he walked.

Erbrand looked around him. Everyone seemed to be busy with something, Degas was talking quietly to his his sister Saeryn and Eodwine was chatting with some other people, probably trying to pursuade them to accept his gamble in another game, but Erbrand could not tell what they were saying, and he walked briskly back to camp for his bow.

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Old 11-17-2008, 04:35 PM   #333
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Crabannan sat in the dirt and squinted up ruefully at Harreld.

"Luck. Yes, it would be luck. She never did look fondly on me."

He stood up covered in dust and cracked his back. Then he took Harreld's hand.

"Harreld Smith," he said, chuckling slightly, "I think you are more gentle with your smithwork. If my arm falls off during the next game, I am blaming you, and I'll expect you to make me an iron hook, or something, to replace it."

He gave Harreld's hand a final squeeze, and then began to brush himself off. Great clouds of dust surrounded him for a moment, and when they cleared, he found that he and Harreld were surrounded by a clamoring, congratulatory crowd, all eager to shake the two wrestlers' hands.

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Old 11-17-2008, 04:53 PM   #334
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Harreld

Harreld laughed at Crabannan's joke. He liked the dour man with a sardonic sense of humor. He was not quick enough of tongue to come up with a return, but thought of about four later over his smithy, but by then it was too late.

As the congratulatory crowd gathered around and patted him on the back, he looked for Ginna, and found her. beaming. He bowed slightly, a big grin on his face.

"I think you are my good luck charm, Ginna!" he said. "I shall have to keep you always close by!"

Others in the crowd hooted and winked at his words; it was no hidden matter how Harreld thought of her.
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:11 PM   #335
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Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Archery Contest

One by one the players began to file back on to the green where the game would begin. Each of the players held his own bow and a quiver of arrows awaited them, marking where they should stand. The standing targets were all set and the soldiers who were playing in the game hurried to get their own bows.

All the players were soon present, Lithor took center stage and began to announce how the game would go. There were to be three levels of difficulty, the first being the ordinary shot with a bow at fifty paces, second being the moving targets, and the next being the distance shoot of 150 paces. The targets each had three rings: white on the outermost, black for the middle, and white again for the center.

Everyone lined up in their place as Lithor was about to give the signal to start. Arrows were nocked on the strings, a hush fell over the crowd as Lithor raised his hand, signaling for the archers to draw their bows. With a sudden yell which made the audience jump, Lithor dropped his hand and the bows sang in unison, the deep thump of the Balvir and Wilcred's bows mingling with the sharp twang of of the shorter ones. Again, the bows twanged as the archers set off another volley, Crabannan pulling the bow back nearly to his ear while the Garmund, Cnebba, and Javan pulled their bows back with the greatest difficulty to their chins. Eodwine was laughing at the excitement, while Erbrand mechanicaly reached down for his arrows and pulled his string back as if it was second nature to him. The experienced soldiers took their times with the shots they made, knowing that it would be fatal to their position in the game if they threw away a shot. Dan finished first, firing his shots off in rapidly, with Thornden firing last.

When the firing ceased Lithor went to inspect the scores. Garmund and Javan brough up the rear with both boys having two arrows missing the targets and three finding their marks, one in each of the rings. Next came Balvir Wilcred and Crabanna, all of their arrows penetrating deep in the target but never entering the center ring. Cnebba tied with Matrim with four arrows in the second ring and on in the center, it was a great achievement and he was soon hailed by all as a master bowman. Erband came in third with two arrows in the center ring and two in just outside the center, but with one arrow missing the target completely. Thornden had made first place with Eodwine making a close second. Both had made Three arrows in the center ring, but one of Eodwine's arrows hit the outer ring.

All the players were smiling with what they had achieved, it was no small feat to shoot fifty paces and hit the target, but Lithor and his helpers immediately moved on to the next game. Hitting the moving target was a one shot one chance opportunity. A barrel head three feet in diameter was rolled out and each player would take his turn shooting it.

First up was Erbrand, the barrel head was rolled parrallel to where he was standing at about twenty-five feet away. The head was flung out and whithin seconds of it leaving Lithor's hand, Erbrand had nocked his arrow, drawn his bow, and fired with pin point accuracy, hitting the barrel square in the middle. Erbrand beemed with delight.

Dan came up in turn and readied himself, he shot and his arrow found the mark on the outer rim. Javan, Cnebba, and Garmund tried next with each fairing as well as Dan. Next was Crabannan, but when the barrel head was thrown Crabannan drew his bow with such ferocity that the string snapped.

"That's a good bow I'll have you know, Crabanna," said Lithor, "but I'm afraid that your charm was too much for it, this isn't wresteling you know." Lithor laughed and Crabannan grinned back, he was permitted to try again and this time struck the barrel several inches from the center.

Wilcred shot scored a little worse than Crabannan, Balvir tied with Eodwine who had struck two feet away from the circumfrance. Matrim scored a mighty shot, causing the arrow to pass right through the wood, but Balvir insists that Matrim in fact missed. Thornden waited until the last possible moment, until the barrel head slowed down so much that it nearly toppled, then Thornden let fly his arrow are pierced it a mere hairs width away from the center.

Erbrand was the winner, with Thornden next and Crabannan after him!

Now the archers prepared for the distance shot of 150 paces. The targets were that of the first round and were put far out in the plains. The boys despared at this, knowing that their short bows could never match the adult's longbows. Still they were determined to try.

Their fears were confirmed when their arrows fell short of the targets. Wilcred and Balvir were also eliminated from the first round, when their arrows caught a breeze and drifted to the righ of the targets. This was blamed on bad luck, they were both excellent archers, but they bore it well and simply shook their heads at the misfortune.

Eodwine on the other hand had made an admirable shot, nearly hitting the mark in the center. Everyone else hit the targets, but Crabannan and Erbrand hit on the outer ring, and they knew if some of the other players wouldn't mess up that they would be out in the next round.

Again the archers fired and again each of the arrows found their mark, but Crabannan struck on the outside with Dan and they both were eliminated. The crowd cheered as it was announced that Eodwine had made another almost perfect shot, landing right inside the center ring. Thornden struck the middle ring with the rest, but unless the rest would mess up Erbrand was doomed.

The crowd held their breath as the arrows went soaring in the air to their targets, but Matrim's never made it, he over shot. However, Erbrand pulled through with what he called a "lucky" shot landing dead in the center. Eodwine fell short, ending his magnificent by winning streak, but he had made excellent scores that allowed him to continue. However, he missed again and was eliminated.

Thrice the soldier and trapper fired, thrice the crowd cheered the results, no one was attaining the higher hand in the matter. At last after the fourth try, Thornden spoke up.

"Lithor, this is no contest for archers such as us. Will you not move the targets for us to have a better shot?"

"We shall double the distance!" Lithor cried.

Thornden bit his lip, he did not mean for the targets to be moved that far. Erbrand stood tall as it was announced and twiddled and arrow in his hands, the distance would surely match their skills as archers and the limits of the primitive bow he carried.

Both missed on the first try and it was then declared that the closest arrow to the mark would win the game. The crowd was on edge, the soldiers cried for Thornden urging him on like a warrior on the battle field, while the faint cry of, "Erbrand" began to grow. A loud cry of, "Thornden!" was heard as the soldier let loose his arrow, it was neatly draw back to his ear and the arrow flew high before it fell with a thud on the target. Again the cry of "Thornden!" was taken up as he fell back to his seat to calmly watch his contestant.

During the shouting, Erbrand thought he caught the voice of Kara urging him on, it gave him heart and he fearlessly pulled the bow back as far as he could, corrected his arch and let fly his arrow. The release of the pressure on the bow was so sudden that his bow snapped in two, Erbrand looked on in horror as he wondered how this would affect his arrow's flight. It hit right within the center ring, a full foot away from Thornden's arrow.

Erbrand gave a cry of truimph, and the crowd answered back with cheers of "Thornden, Erbrand!" Eodwine looked proud as the two contestants grasped hands.

"There you go Harreld," the Eorl said to the blacksmith, "not only do I have the best wrestlers in all of Rohan but the best archers as well."
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Old 11-22-2008, 10:14 AM   #336
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Eodwine

After the archery contests were done, Eodwine went to Degas and called him aside.

"Will you take a stroll with me, my friend?"

Degas agreed and excused himself from his sister with a bow and a smile; Eodwine did likewise. They were seen to begin a circuit of the current borders of Scarburg. Once they were beyond earshot and the eyes of the others, Eodwine opened up his mind to Degas.

"As you no doubt recall, Degas, about three months ago I made Saeryn the lady and host of my house, an arrangement that was both very unusual and done without your permission."

"Yes," Degas replied, "although my permission though useful to you then, was not legally binding as my brother was yet the head of our house."

"And that is now changed. You asked me what it was that I was doing, and I had the cheek to call it a betrothal." Degas allowed a half smile. "Which," continued Eodwine, "went against all custom of our folk, and it is no wonder that Saeryn fled in the end. In truth, the fault was mine, for I allowed myself to be blinded and deafened by the workings of my own heart."

Eodwine lapsed into silence, considering how his words shifted blame to himself of all those things he had been holding against Saeryn since she had fled.

"Go on," Degas said.

"You have blessed me with knowing your desire that Saeryn become my wife, for which I thank you. But we have not spoken, you and I, of bride price and dowry. Now that you are head of your house, and Saeryn is your sister, what would you have from me in plight for the good of your sister, both while we live, but more to the point, for her security in widowhoood?"

They had reached the southeast corner, overlooking the swamps, and turned the corner, aiming for the scar as Degas screwed up his face in thought.

Eventually he spoke, uncertainly.

"I am not rich," he began. "My family's... my... holdings have always been of modest scale and I still do not know the extent of the damage that has been done in my absence. I do not know what power I hold. I do not know what my lands and my people need with or without my sister, their favorite. Also, rather to the point at the moment: I cannot believe, knowing what I now know of my late brother, that Saeryn's dowry is intact. I do not know what I can give you to help your marriage any more than I know what I should ask of you to help with my lands."

They were approaching the scar, and the area where Dan had apparently gotten stuck, only to be saved by Scyld; or so the story went. Eodwine had doubts about that story, but that must be saved for another time.

"I have a thought," he said. "As you can see, I have little enough to offer in bride price, which drops us both on the same cheap saddle, as it were. What would you say if we three, you, Saeryn and I, swear an oath like that which Gondor and the Eorlingas have sworn to each other, to be friends for life, and come to each other's aid when called? Let that be both bride price and dowry for as long as at least two of the three of us live. What think you?"

"I think well of the idea. It will help neither of us much in the short term, I fear, yet a life long brotherhood is a kingly gift. I fear only that I should die before fathering an heir, and there will be none to hold to my promise in my absence. I will swear to this: as long as I live, you shall have my aid and friendship, and once my own family is settled and growing, you shall have their aid and friendship as well. I only wish I could offer more than the future affections of children not yet born to the wife I have yet to marry."

"My friend, you offer much more than I asked for. I dare not speak for my heirs, and I would not have you speak for yours, if such come to either of us. For now, let it be between the three of us, if Saeryn agrees. If there are heirs on either or both sides, we can consider such things later. What say you?"

Degas laughed, relieved, and clasped Eodwine's hand. "I am much relieved," he grinned. "I say we have a deal."

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Old 11-23-2008, 02:48 PM   #337
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The Dagger-Throwing Contest

Once the archery targets were cleared away, preparation for the dagger throwing contest began. There were to be two contests of three trials each with the first target to be set at six paces and the second target at twice that. The targets each had four zones: a center yellow circle, surrounded by black, red, then green.

The contestants lined up, and Eodwine opened the competition with a respectable throw to the inside of the red circle. The others followed with Matrim’s dagger going to the green, Wilcred and Harreld to the red, and Saeryn and Rowenna each placing their daggers into the black. No one found the yellow circle. Amongst the spectators there was some good-natured ribbing of the men for letting both ladies outscore them all.

Before the second trial could begin, however, a voice spoke up from the back of the crowd: “I should like to challenge that.” Everyone’s heads turned to see Scyld approaching the front. They regarded him with some surprise, for he had gone largely unnoticed during the day, quietly observing and not putting himself forward to compete.

“Well, this is unusual,” said Lithor, the first to recover his voice, “but I don’t see why not; it is only the first round.” There were some murmurs and nods of general agreement, but more than one eye studied Scyld appraisingly as he stepped up to the line. He took aim, and with a dull thunk his knife found the yellow circle, perhaps a knuckle’s length from the center.

The second trial proceeded with no more interruptions. Eodwine’s dagger struck near his first except now just inside the black circle. Matrim also improved, throwing his dagger to the red circle. Wilcred’s second dagger again found the red circle, but Harreld’s found the black circle, nearly hitting the yellow circle. Saeryn did not fare so well this round, hitting only the outside green ring. Rowenna, however, became the second contestant to hit the yellow, coming even slightly closer than Scyld’s first dagger. Thrown off by this, Scyld’s dagger flew wide and hit the red circle.

In the third trial, Eodwine’s dagger returned to the red circle. Matrim’s dagger hit the target at a poor angle and did not stick at all. Wilcred for the third time hit the red circle, and Harreld’s came within the border of the yellow center. Saeryn, recovering from the second round, hit the black again. Rowenna, concentrating fiercely, again hit the yellow center, winning her the competition before Scyld even threw. Irritated with himself, Scyld again missed the center target but hit the black this time, tying Harreld for second. Saeryn came in fourth, followed by Eodwine, then Wilcred, and last Matrim.

For the next round, the target was moved to twelve paces away. The distance clearly showed its toll as Eodwine, Matrim, Wilcred, and Saeryn all hit the green and Rowenna hit the red, though Harreld and Scyld both still did well, Harreld placing solidly in the black and Scyld just within the yellow. The second trial was hardly better; Matrim and Saeryn both missed the target altogether, and Eodwine’s knife did not stick. Wilcred hit the green again, though Rowenna improved to the black, and Harreld and Scyld each hit the yellow target.

In the third trial, Eodwine hit the black, while Matrim and Rowenna nailed the red. Wilcred and Saeryn both hit the green. Harreld just missed hitting the yellow target, and Scyld won the competition with his third straight dagger to the yellow. Harreld placed second, with Rowenna behind him. Eodwine took fourth now, followed by Matrim and Wilcred and finally Saeryn.

~*~*~

Scyld did not know what had gotten into him. He had made a fool of himself in the first round, challenging like that and then losing – and no less, to a woman! In fact, he had been rather mortified. He now took no joy in his second round victory; it seemed more as something that was his due, for none of the others could have relied so heavily on such a skill in their lives. Clearly in his mind’s eye he could see the scene just ere Linduial was saved, the scene where knife to knife, he and Sorn had fought. Absently he fingered the scar across his brow.

Just then Harreld approached him with his hand extended. “It was a good competition,” he said. “Well done.”

Scyld nearly replied with some surly, condescending remark, but he recalled the role that he must play here and caught himself, smiling back at Harreld and taking his hand. “I thank you. It was close.”
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Old 11-24-2008, 11:45 AM   #338
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Erbrand watched the game with keen interest, it was a different type of skill than he was use to, although he was handy with a knife he could never throw one and hit a target. The skill of the players amazed him, but the performance of Scyld disturbed him. One after another of Scyld's dagger found its mark in the target, and from the look on Scyld's face it was a skill he knew well.

Erbrand had always considered a knife to be cruel when used as a weapon. Although he himself carried one, it was used for practical means, he had not twisted the use of a kitchen utensil into a killing tool. A knife was a thing that muggers concealed in under their garments in order to strike at an unsuspecting passer, a coward's weapon that could be easily be taken up and hidden in moment. Erbrand had always thought that Scyld was a shifty mysterious fellow, however, his distrust began to deepen as he saw how easily Scyld had won.

Like others, Erbrand congratulated the players of the hall. Scyld was smiling proudfully at his victory when Erbrand walked up. The handshake that Erbrand recieved from the victor was loose and shifty, ready to be rid of the hand that clasped it (the type of shake that Erbrand had recieved from peddlers who tried to con him of his goods).

"Well done on the victory," Erbrand said, addressing Scyld, "your skills with a knife are remarkable. Forgive me if I am being too bold, but tell me: where would a man obtain such a skill?"
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Old 11-24-2008, 01:02 PM   #339
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Scyld ought to have known that someone would ask questions; he had indeed been foolish to enter the competition in such a way. Yet, what did he have to hide? His association with Sorn was surely lamentable, but if Linduial was to be believed, he had redeemed himself. Redeemed himself from what? Meaningless words! A man did what he must to survive. For some, this meant an ‘honorable’ path; for others, ‘dishonorable’ – but it was only the honorable men who used such terms.

“A man learns what skills he must,” Scyld told Erbrand. Seeing that a doubtful expression lingered in Erbrand’s face, Scyld smirked and something of his old mood entered his voice. “Perhaps you think knife throwing is not the skill of an honest and straightforward man? Perhaps it is not. But there are places, even in this Fourth Age, even in Rohan, where a straightforward man may well be a dead man. Judge me as you will.”
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:59 AM   #340
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The voice of Scyld had changed, instead of speaking in his usual general terms the man was for once being open. Erbrand guessed that he had struck a nerve. Perhaps there was more to this man than met the eye, not all of him seemed that unpleasant.

"Indeed, the knife is not a tool that I would like to wield in a fight, and there is a certain amount of shrewdness, which a man as myself lacks, if he is to wield one." Erbrand spoke frankly, but with a mood not as heavy as before Scyld's answer. The man had been honest with him, and even though Scyld ignored answering his question directly, he confirmed Erbrand's presumptions about the man.

"Your skills with a knife are far reaching, and no doubt you've learned what you must. I know little of your past, and it is not fair for me to judge you, I did not mean to imply as such, but forgive me if I have."

After another congratulations, Erbrand backed away and went to talke with the players in the next game. He noticed that the sun was descending in the sky it must have been around four hours past midday. This was good thing, the dances would be that night which he had been anxiously awaiting for days.
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Old 11-26-2008, 04:05 PM   #341
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Ginna made her way into the crowd surrounding the winners of the dagger throwing contest, her eyes fixed on Harreld. The smith was otherwise occupied with returning congratulatory handshakes, but his gaze on the approaching woman never wavered. Soon those who were near him took the unspoken hint and stepped away, giving Ginna an unhindered path towards him.

The smile on Ginna's face was pleased, yet a little mischievous.

"I seem to be your good luck charm, indeed! Perhaps I should start placing more profitable wagers on you, other than those of mere kitchen chores."

Harreld laughed heartily; Ginna had told him of the gamble she and Kara had had earlier.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:08 AM   #342
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Cnebba

After the archery competition, Cnebba was literally jumping up and down in excitement. He had not managed to hit the target on the third round, but I did not matter. He had shot extremely well on the first round and beaten both Garmund and Javan easily. The other boys did not look particularily disappointed, Javan even congratulated Cnebba. "But that doesn't still mean you can shoot on horseback," he reminded in a teasing tone. Cnebba didn't mind - he was on a good mood, and the words were not meant to sting.

"Well done, Cnebba!" a voice called from the distance. Cnebba turned and saw Matrim approaching him and his friends. The young Gondorian seemed cheerful despite his rather poor faring in the competition. "If my friend Balvir there is to be believed," he said, waving a hand at his captain's direction, "we are even now." He gave the boy a grin and patted his shoulder. Cnebba returned the smile. Surely it was much better to beat a soldier in archery than to beat him in mere stone-throwing!

Matrim eyed all the three boys. "I think I have to admit that although Gondorians beat Rohanians in anything easily, you Rohanian archers would beat your Gondorian counterparts any day." All the three boys stared at Matrim unsure how to react, whether to be glad of the offered compliment, or be insulted of the words claiming their people to be inferior to their southern neighbours. Matrim looked at them with equal seriousness until he could not keep the faked expression any longer and started howling with laughter. A little baffled, the boys joined in the laughter too.

"Now, now, that is enough laughing, boys," Matrim concluded after a while, still a bit out of breath after his own burst of laughter. "Next is dagger-throwing. Come and cheer for me. Truth be told, I'm lousy at it, but I will try to put up a proper fight."

~*~

Modtryth

"Cnebba was quite good, wasn't he?" Léoðern asked from her bug.

Modtryth was beaming with a proud smile, but did not say anything. She left it up to the bug to answer. She saw the younger one of the Gondorians approach the boys and seemingly congratulate them and the boys follow him to watch the dagger-throwing. Modtryth suspected there was still stuff to do in the kitchen, and she had seen both Kara and Ginna running around the festive area. She suspected that Frodides would have a sharp remark or two if she was doing something alone in the kitchen. Better check that now that neither Cnebba nor Stigend is competing, she concluded.

"Come, Léoðern, let's go to see what's happening in the kitchen. You may take your bug there, but then you have to wait outside. Frodides doesn't enjoy having bugs in her realm."

Modtryth reached the kitchen, the little girl walking slowly at her wake and carefully holding the bug on her palm. As Modtryth had suspected, Frodides was there and working.

"What's going on there?" she asked as Modtryth arrived.

"Dagger-throwing at the moment, and it's sack-fighting next. Do you need help?"
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Old 11-27-2008, 04:21 PM   #343
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Sack-fight, part I

With the help of a few men at arms Stigend and Garstan had produced a decent sack-fight arena while the others were having the dagger-throwing contest. The ridgepole of the earlier hall had been hoisted up about five feet high laying there supported by a stack of some heavy barrels laid on top and beside each other on both ends. And just to be on the safe side they had also put two barrels right in the middle to support the ridgepole. Also fair amounts of hay had been spread under the pole so that the one falling from up there would not hurt himself if he happened to fall in a bad stance.

“So my friends! It’s time for the sackfight! Both contestants have a sack of hay as their weapon and they meet each other up on the pole. The first one to fall is the loser – and there are no rules but that… except no biting!” Lithor called and the crowd gathering around laughed approvingly to the joke.

“Our first match will be between Garmund and Cnebba!” There were loud cheers as the boys seemed to arouse quite a lot of goodwill around the Mead Hall. “And in the next pair we’ll be having Javan and… Kara! And the winners of these two matches will proceed to fight each other on the next round!”

The crowd cheered once again but now with more of a surprise that Kara had joined the game. But it took them a second or two to understand the full effect of what Lithor had just said actually meant – and some claimed afterwards that they had surely seen Lithor to wink an eye at lord Eodwine after that announcement. But no one knows if that was just Lithor’s idea or something planned by lord Eodwine. And anyway, the crowds had more interesting things to see.

Garmund and Cnebba were facing each other on the pole about three yards apart in the starting position when Lithor finally whistled them to start. The two boys eyed each other, both waiting for the other one to make the first move. At one point Cnebba started rolling the sack over his head but soon laid it down again. On another Garmund took a few steps forwards raising the sack up in readiness only to retreat one back. There were some calls from the crowd for action but neither dared to move first.

“C’mon guys! This is no standing contest!” Aethelstan shouted from the crowd and people were laughing. “Should I come and bounce you both off the pole?” Matrim added winking an eye to those around him, producing even more laughter. Stigend and Garstan eyed each other in anguish. They knew how much those both wished to win this one and why they were so careful. It only seemed that some adults didn’t get it that small boys could have a “champion of the titans” -match as well and for them it was that serious as neither dared to lose this one.

“Don’t be such a bore!” shouted Javan in the end igniting the action. Garmund just couldn’t take any more of the laughing – even if it was not ill-natured as such. It still felt bad to be laughed at.

So Garmund charged waving the sack around and yelling as he went. Cnebba had no idea how to defend and took a few steps backwards just to get his own sack some momentum waving it to and fro as he backed away. But Cnebba had no chance of gaining the same energy Garmund was gathering and even if he managed to partly hit Garmund’s sack that was coming right towards his head, deflecting it from a direct hit, he fell back and landed on the log with his legs straddled wide apart. There was a symapthetic “Oohhhh…” from the crowd.

But Cnebba’s sack was in front of him so he ended in a forward-leaning position and managed to grasp Garmund’s leg with his left hand pulling as hard as he could. And Garmund fell down as well, landing on the log as painfully as Cnebba had done. And the crowd went with an “Uuhhh…” even louder as before.

And being the more nimble of the two and already having had time to come to his senses Cnebba was indeed the first back on his feet and waved a blow to Garmund who was just trying to get real with the situation. Garmund fell down. And Cnebba – taken with the force of the blow and the weight of the sack - fell just after him.

“Cnebba is the winner!” Lithor announced and the crowd cheered for the unexpectedly dramatic match after so much indetermination. And the boys seemed not to have been hurt but were indeed shaking hands as they stood up. There were more cheers.


As Javan climbed up to the pole he realised he should be a man worth his words. So after calling for Garmund and cnebba to do something he should be the active one as well. It was a bit awkward to fight a woman but he just couldn’t afford to lose this one. So right after Lithor gave them the go he charged on Kara rolling the sack above his head to give it force but Kara just stood there her eyes piercing Javan’s.

When close enough Javan let his now fast-rolling sack fall on Kara – and had it made a direct hit the resistance of her body would have dampened the effect of the force the sack was going to the left. But Kara hopped backwards just in time to avoid the hit and Javan went falling down with the momentum of his sack and the ensuing imbalance with nothing to stop it.

The crowd burst into laughter and cheers. “Kara is the winner!” Lithor announced. But before Javan had managed to rise up from the hays, Garmund and Cnebba were there to help him up. A few eyes followed that incident keenly… and approvingly.
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Old 11-27-2008, 05:51 PM   #344
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Sack-fight, part II

As the crowds had settled a bit Lithor’s loud voice was heard once again. “The next pair to find out who’s the one to go forwards is Stigend and Dan! Give them a big hand!” The crowd cheered again but Lithor interrupted the cheers soon enough: “And to end the first round we’ll have a thriller between Erbrand and Harreld!”

The crowds exploded with this one.

“And the winners will meet in the semifinal…” Lithor continued. The truth was hammered into the people at this point. There was some murmur but also some delighted laughs and overall chatter.

After all sack-fight was fun and not like a serious test of manhood like a sword-fight would be – and through ages women and children had partaken in it in the markets and other festivities. So a general feeling of acceptance ran through the crowd as they started anticipating the match between Stigend and Dan.

It was an interesting pair: the other was short but looked powerful, the other was much taller and leaner but in his skinny way muscular as well… and they both were masters in balance. It was the longest match there was that day as it took almost ten minutes. And the people were really living along the fight hit by hit and manouver by manouver.

There was no anticipation period or things like that but both men went on after each other from the moment Lithor whistled them free to start. A mighty blow followed each other and the way they both managed to balance themselves to hit back just raised a series of accepting and admiring “Oohh’s”, “Eehhsss” and “Wooow’s” from the crowd. Both men managed to balance themselves from downright impossible situations to swing the sack at the other making the other to struggle with balance and gaining time to reach his own. It was pure acrobatics!

But finally it came to an end. Stigend was turning around imbalanced by a blow by Dan with only one foot on the log and managed to give a blow to Dan, but this time it didn’t hit as well as he would have wished. Dan wavered and had to correct his standing but he was quick enough to give a blow back when Stigend was just reaching balance and trying to deal Dan a second blow. The sacks met in the mid-air and with both contestants both tired and already somewhat imbalanced they both fell down.

Stigend hit the ground first followed immediately by Dan.

“Rematch! Rematch!” Garstan and Harreld howled and the crowds cheered to the suggestion and the performance they had just witnessed.

“Sorry, the first to hit the ground loses. Plain rules talk. And I don’t think these two wish to have a rematch for some time… Let them rest now. Dan is the winner!” Lithor announced. The crowds were partly murmuring but Lithor’s next call changed the attitude in a wink of an eye. “The last round one match is between Harreld and Erbrand! Please welcome the heroes!” A huge cheer followed as the last pair climbed up to their starting positions on the ridgepole.


That match was much anticipated. So much indeed that after Lithor gave them a go the crowd fell silent just waiting for what was to come. Looking at the earlier performances this was in a way the moral final after all, or so many people felt it was.

Garstan and Stigend remembered the last meters of the task-race and were filled with pride of their fellow-craftsman. “You won him once already! Make it two!”, Garstan shouted when the two were just eyeing each other and the crowd was silent. “Soldiers fight the war, craftsmen stay on board!” Stigend added half aloud, gaining a few short-lived laughs. It was tense not only on the ridgepole where the two were feverishly thinking how to proceed but everyone was waiting for the first move.

Finally Erbrand moved. He raised his sack up and rolled it over his head a few times leaning forwards as if to gather force making a charge. And then he dashed towards Harreld.

That bold move got Harreld by surprise as he hadn’t anticipated that someone would charge on him that determinately. Sure they knew he was bigger and stronger? But he had to react immediately, and he did so with waving his sack from left to right and rushing forwards with full speed to meet Erbrand in the middle of the pole.

But Erbrand had bluffed it all the way. As soon as Harreld got into motion and charged forwards Erbrand he let the sack loose and dived forwards as fast as he could.

Harreld had no chance to stop his movement and his sack only met with thin air while he stumbled on Erbrand laying low and keeping a tight grasp of the pole. Harreld tumbled over Erbrand and fell down while Erbrand tried to keep his grip of the log after the impact with both his arms and legs. He managed it just as long as it took for Harreld to fall down but then also his grip loosened and he fell as well.

“Erbrand is the winner!” Lithor called and the crowds cheered once again even if they were a bit disappointed that the match had ended so soon. Stigend and Garstan were not too happy about the outcome as they were close friends of Harreld, but they acknowledged the sheer cunning of Erbrand’s plan and gave it it’s due cheer as well. This was entertaining after all.

"So the semifinals will be Kara against Cnebba and Dan against Erbrand!" Lithor called and the crowd seemed to be happy about that... even if a bit confused still.
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Old 11-27-2008, 06:28 PM   #345
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Frodides was keeping herself well out of the way of all the noise and fuss outside ... but was keeping herself well informed all the same. Kara was under orders to report back to the kitchen with every new piece of information and it seemed that she had just found herself a new helper.

"What's going on there?" she asked as Modtryth arrived.

"Dagger-throwing at the moment, and it's sack-fighting next. Do you need help?" Modtryth replied.

"You can chop these." Frodides answered, thrusting a board of rolls toward Modtryth. "How is the throwing going along? Not a very interesting game I suppose."

"Oh but it is!" Modtryth replied, and Frodides was pleased to find a captivating storyteller in her friend as the woman proceeded to tell the tale of the event so far. Even as she listened Frodides made a note of that, Kara was good at getting the information across but she had no real understanding of how to make it into a good story. Modtryth on the other hand, now there was a woman with the gift.

~ ~ ~

Having made her way back into the crowd after winning her own heat Kara cheered and hollered almost alone as Erbrand threw caution to the wind and displayed some brilliant tactics that threw Harreld off completely. Even as he picked himself up off the ground she was heading towards him, trailing Ginna who wished to comiserate with Harreld in her wake.

"Well done!" She called out as she approached the slightly dishevelled Erbrand, who had just shaken hands with Harreld who was shaking his head in baffled resignation. "Where did you think of a move like that?"

"Oh I just ... well, I'm not sure." Erbrand replied, seeming a little flustered, though it could well have been that he was simply disorientated from his tumble off the log. "It just seemed like a good idea at the time!"

"It was a good idea." Kara cried, still buoyed by the excitement in the air. "You should have seen Harreld's face when he realised what was going to happen," she continued, trying to lower her voice so as not to embarrass the poor smith, "I hope your next opponent doesn't underestimate you!"

"I'm not sure how much of a chance I'm going to have against Dan." Erbrand said. "That fight between him and Stigend was tough, and I can hardly try the same trick again."

"You'll be alright." Kara said smiling. "You're tough too remember? Now wish me luck!" She gestured to Cnebba and laughed. "I was lucky with Javan, young Cnebba there is a fighter."

"Well good luck." Erbrand said. "I'll be cheering for you."
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Old 11-28-2008, 09:40 AM   #346
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Harreld

In the dagger throwing contest Harreld placed second twice. He was pleased. He had more experience fixing daggers than throwing them, but it seemed that his talents and trade lent themselves to being a fair shot at dagger throwing. Harreld was enjoying himself. He went over to Scyld and congratulated him on his victory. Scyld hesitated before replying in a gentelmanly fashion. Harreld regarded him briefly with a slightly raised eyebrow and a small smile on his face: this Scyld's mind seemed to work maybe somewhat as his own did, hearing possible words to be said in his mind first before choosing to release them for hearing.

"Only by my luck was it close at all, my friend," Harreld replied. "I hope you join us in one or more of the games yet remaining."

Scyld was considering a reply but then Ginna sauntered up to him with that mischievous glint in her eye, and the crowd parted as if she were royalty making her way to her claim. He melted inside all over again. He fought down a strong hunger to take her in his arms right then and there and plant a victory kiss on her smiling lips.

Then came the kitchen wager quip, and he laughed hard. It was a relief to laugh, a place to safely put his passion.

The only response that flitted through his mind should not be said, so he kept it to himself. Would you wager your hand in marriage? Make that bet and I would stop at nothing to win you. Instead of saying this, he offered his arm to her with a "my lady" on his lips, and her hand in the crook of his elbow, he ushered her along with the rest of the exuberant crowd to the next venue, the sack fight.

After he was bested by Erbrand in a moment, he humbly went over to stand by Ginna and said, "It appears that I need more than your good luck at these games. I must keep my head about me, my lady."
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Old 11-28-2008, 07:15 PM   #347
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Harreld seemed so dejected at his loss that Ginna wanted to wrap her arms around him amidst all the onlookers, but something told her this was probably not a good thing to do. Instead she took one of his large hands and gave him a small smile of sympathy.

"There will always be some battles you can't win." Keeping her tone light, she added, "Perhaps aside from being your good luck charm, I'm also a cause for your distraction? Just give me the word, Harreld, and I'll keep out of your sight."

Still with a bit of a smile, she looked into his eyes and raised an eyebrow almost imperceptibly, wondering which one he would choose her to be.

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Old 11-29-2008, 06:49 AM   #348
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Sack-fight, part III

Cnebba and Kara climbed to the pole and readied themselves to start. It was clear that Kara was both bigger and more powerful of the two but would Cnebba’s energy and balance beat that; that was the question people mulled about when Lithor finally announced the match. “Now my friends we’ll have the second round! Let the best man… erm… the best person win!” With that he whistled the start-signal.

The crowd cheered as the two started the match immediately without any hesitation or tactical manouvers. Cnebba pressed on with gusto but Kara defended calmly. Slowly there developed something like a rhythm to the sacks banging on each other. From left, from right, from left, from right…

Suddenly, just before the sacks were going to hit each other Kara staggered and her sack hit the pole instead of Cnebba’s sack which now flew to the left unhindered causing Cnebba to lose his balance. Kara only tried to pull back to regain her balance leaning backwards when her sack hit Cnebba’s from under giving it the final push that sent Cnebba down to the hays.

The crowd was as astonished as the contestants were about the sudden ending of the match but then burst into hurrays and laughter. “Kara has reached the final!” Lithor announced.

“Go Kara go! Go Kara go!” people yelled as she came down from the pole, but when she took Cnebba into her arms and they walked out from under the pole hand in hand the crowd exploded into applause shouting the names of both contestants.

Kara looked down on Cnebba as they walked, “That was an accident, you know? I was as surprised as you were…” she said smiling. Cnebba nodded and returned the smile: “I’ll be cheering for you in the final, Kara!”

“And then, we’ll see who is going to meet the invincible Kara in the final! I’ll give you Erbrand and Dan!” Lithor had to shout as loud as he could to be able to beat the cheers from the crowd.

The match between Dan and Erbrand was a tough one. Both dealt blows to each other but everytime Dan hit his mark Erbrand had to perform his best to regain his balance while Dan seemed to have no trouble at all with that. But Dan had to be constantly anticipating Erbrand’s different swings and ploys. Dan remembered how Erbrand had made his first victory and was on the look out for any similar trick.

It was clear Erbrand would not outbalance Dan, and if he didn’t come up with something and pretty soon it would only be a question of time when Dan would bring him down.

And the time came. Dan made a direct hit to Erbrand’s side sending him falling. But Erbrand managed to give a blow back to Dan’s lower legs while going down as Dan wasn’t defending anymore but mainly getting ready to celebrate a victory. And Dan fell as well. But unlike Dan who fell down directly Erbrand got a hold of the pole with one arm and leg thus giving him the important seconds. When his grip loosened and he finally fell down Dan had already hit the ground.

“Erbrand to the final!” Lithor shouted and the crowds were entertained indeed.
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Old 11-29-2008, 08:47 AM   #349
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Harreld

"...Just give me the word, Harreld, and I'll keep out of your sight." Smiling, Ginna looked up into his eyes with a very slightly raised brow. Harreld knew a test when he saw one. He grinned and raised his own brow, looking her in the eye.

"I will take you as a distraction to my eye instead of a good luck charm every time." He brought the hand she had placed in his up to his lips and kissed it. She was beaming, smiling from ear to ear, looking all the more winsome for it. He laughed heartily from happiness and added his cheers to the crowd as the sack fights progressed.

"Ha ha!" shouted Harreld when Erbrand had won his fight with Dan, "we saw Kara and Erbrand as a team in the three legged race, now we shall see how they fare as foes!"

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Old 11-30-2008, 03:48 PM   #350
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The sack-fight, final

It seemed that everyone around the Mead Hall had gathered around to see the final of the sack-fight. Not only because it had been a most entertaining game but also because of the unforeseen final between Erbrand and Kara. Everyone wished to see how it would go.

"Let me introduce to you, on the left, our beloved Kara without whom we'd starve to death on daily basis!" Lithor shouted as Kara climbed up to the pole. The crowd went wild with cheers. "And on the right, our sneaky leatherman Erbrand of Aldburg!" There was a lot of yelling, clapping of hands and hurrays.

"Contestants, are you ready?", Lithor asked and both nodded.

There was the whistle. And then there was silence.

Kara looked at Erbrand and smiled - and Erbrand smiled back even if he knew the situation was quite awkward.

"So you're going to hit a lady then, Aldburgian?" Kara asked aloud looking at Erbrand to the eye.

Erbrand frowned and turned a bit sideways to look at the crowd gathered around, his expression begging for any reaction to how he should go on with the fight or what was exactly expected from him in this situation.

Suddenly he felt a heavy blow of a sack in the back of his head and he went falling down. The crowd just bursted with cheers and laughter and Kara was waving the sack above her head gleefully, smiling down to her beaten opponent.

"Kara is the victor!" Lithor yelled and a celebration began.

And there were a lots of hands helping Erbrand up.
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Old 11-30-2008, 08:18 PM   #351
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Thornden cheered and laughed along with the rest of the audience. He thoroughly enjoyed the sack fight and the conclusion was the best part of all. He was not among the first to reach Erbrand, and by the time he was near him, he was already being helped up. Thornden, then, with a smile turned and offered a hand to Kara. She took it and leaped lightly down from the pole, smiling and gasping with laughter. She turned at once to Erbrand.

The spirits of the company were very high. Thornden felt it and was glad. His eyes swept over the people. There was the immediate press of people around Erbrand and Kara, congratulating them both. Standing a few paces away stood Harreld and Ginna, enjoying the sight immensely, but looking as though they enjoyed each other’s company even more. Up beyond them sat Rowenna and Saeryn, who had returned there after her defeat in the dagger throwing.

There were two empty chairs beside Saeryn, which surprised Thornden. He expected to see Eodwine there, but neither he nor Degas were to be seen. They must have left directly after the dagger throwing contest. Thornden silently wished that he were here now to see the happiness of his people. Such expression in all of their faces and voices were clear reflections of his good and noble lordship. No doubt he would be back soon, though. He must, for the quarterstaff fighting was to come next. Then he would see the merriment and joy.

With a smile, Thornden turned again to those close at hand. He was looking forward to the next game very much. At that moment, he heard Javan’s voice through the gabble of the crowd -

“Lithor! Lithor, what game is next?”

“The quarterstaves.”

“Ha! Did you hear that?” Javan asked, turning with a bright grin toward Cnebba and Garmund. “My brother’s in that! I’ll bet you anything you name that he’ll win!”

Thornden grinned widely and turned and walked away. He would not stay and hear what bet was placed upon his winning or losing.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:39 AM   #352
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It was a very uncomfortable position for Erbrand to be in. He had hoped that either he or Kara would be eliminated from the games before the final match, however, fate took a different turn. Kara didn't seem to mind when Erbrand faced her and seemed rather glad that it was him whom she was fighting.

The round began but Erbrand held back what would be his normal instinct of attack. She smiled at him, he wondered if she knew he wouldn't hurt her, after much delay and pleading looks at the crowd he felt a thud on the back of his head and another thud when he hit the ground. Erbrand looked stunned and shocked at the sudden turn of events, but Kara was laughing gleefully and was waving the sack above her head, of course she knew he wouldn't hurt her.

Erbrand accepted one of the many hands that were offered him and was pulled up. A swarm of people pressed between him and Kara and for a long moment he was bewildered by all the handshaking and congratulations being exchanged between them. Presently Erbrand broke away from the crowd with Kara.

"A well won game, my friend," said Erbrand, embracing Kara in a hug, "but I'm afraid that Lithor's description of me being sneaky should apply to you."

"I hope I haven't hurt you in the fall." Kara responded apologetically.

"Just my pride, but out of all the players I'm glad that it was you who bested me. This defeat shall be much easier for me to bear."

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Old 12-04-2008, 03:27 PM   #353
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Garmund, Cnebba and Javan

“Ha! Did you hear that?” Javan asked, turning with a bright grin toward Cnebba and Garmund. “My brother’s in that! I’ll bet you anything you name that he’ll win!”

The two younger boys looked at each other excited. Cnebba was just opening his mouth when suddenly Garmund put his hand to Cnebba's shoulder silencing him and turned towards Javan.

"We'll think about it, just wait a minute." With that he dragged Cnebba along with him a few yards away from Javan.

They spoke in lowered voices.

"He said he would bet anything we'd name? The dagger Garmund, the dagger!" Cnebba protested Garmund treating him like some half-witted child.

"Now listen, he will ask something as a bet from us as well, didn't you think of that?" Garmund hissed glancing back at Javan to see if he was able to hear what they said or not.

Cnebba gave a deep sigh as he hadn't actually come to think of that. Finally he raised his eyes to meet with Garmund's with a worried questioning look. "What do you think he would bet for the dagger? Our Rohirrim? Those my dad made?"

"I'm afraid he wouldn't bet it for anything less", Garmund nodded. "And Thornden is a mighty warrior."

"But isn't lord Eodwine himself competing? And Harreld, and dad... and... well your dad... and that freaky newcomer, that Crabath...thannan... or what was it, or that Erbrand or... "

"Thornden is the chief of all the soldiers here. Do you think he got into that place for nothing?", Garmund snapped back. "The dagger is neat but I wouldn't trade it to my rohir-soldier."

There was a difference there. Even if the rohirrim Stigend had carved for the boys were probably the finest pieces of wooden art he had ever produced, Cnebba was used to having such wooden toys all his life.

"So what do you say then? We can't step back from it now?" Cnebba came down on Garmund for an answer.

Garmund started thinking about it but it was Cnebba who came up with the idea first.

"Hey, how about he will be our slave for a week if he loses? Like making our beds, serving us food and doing our work? We can do the same but it's not so bad as we are two."

Garmund looked delighted first but then fell a bit backwards. "Do you think he would take that?"

"He can't step back from it either?" Cnebba suggested, smiling.

Garmund burst into laughter. "You're right! He can't!" And with that Garmund turned around to meet Javan. Cnebba followed suite.


"Okay Javan, here's the deal!" Garmund said to Javan as he reached him and waited for Cnebba to come beside him. "If Thornden doesn't win you'll be our servant for two weeks. You'll serve us in all we want you to. If Thornden wins, we'll do the same for you." Garmund stared at Javan as if challenging him to keep his word.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:26 PM   #354
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"Best of luck in the staff-fight, Erbrand," and with that Kara gave him a playful wink and bounded off to find her seat.

As Kara passed through the players Thornden bowed slightly as she passed and she returned the formal gesture with a slight curtsy. Thornden's eyes did not leaver her until she had taken her seat on the scar.

Erbrand saw this, he felt his blood boil at the site of another man talking to Kara, however formal it was. Just like that morning with Crabannan, Erbrand approached the soldier; Thornden looked up and smiled but it quickly changed to a confused look as Erbrand glared at him.

"Many thanks for your help, but I'll thank you to stay away from her." said Erbrand, glancing up at Kara who was busy in discussion with someone else.

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Old 12-04-2008, 09:15 PM   #355
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Thornden was taken aback. There was a flicker of confusion on his face, and then he cried in surprise, “Do you mean Kara?” One fragment of astonished laughter escaped him before Erbrand glared him into silence. The fellow was absolutely serious! He was actually offended!

“I have no idea what you’re referring to, Erbrand. Kara’s been here as long as I have and there’s nothing...” he paused. He didn’t know what to say; this was so unexpected. He laughed again, briefly, and then his face was serious. “What are you talking about?” he finally asked.

-------------
Javan

They were taking a long time deciding. Javan stood back, his arms folded. People were beginning to leave, preparing for the next event, and the boys were still talking. Javan didn’t know whether to be worried about what they were concocting some horrible idea or to criticize them for not being able to agree on anything quickly.

In another moment, he had his answer. They turned towards him, and they both looked sly. They hadn’t been disagreeing, they’d been concocting.

“Okay, Javan, here’s the deal!” Garmund put his hands on his hips as he stated it. “If Thornden doesn’t win you’ll be our servants for two weeks. You’ll serve us in all we want you to. If Thornden wins, we’ll do the same for you.”

Javan’s mouth pulled up on one side. This was an unexpected move. He had figured they would ask for his knife, or something else he had, but this idea had never occurred to him. It was bad enough having to be with them in the mornings for their archery lesson - but to be at their beck and call?

But then Garmund lifted an eyebrow and he and Cnebba snuck an obvious glance to each other. They thought he would back down!

"I'll take your wager," he said. "But see here, two weeks is a long time for one bet. Make it one week."

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Old 12-05-2008, 11:18 AM   #356
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Thornden was genuinly confused on the subject. However, Erbrand did not share in the amusement that Thornden was benifitting from.

It was unnatural for him to explode at every man who even mentions or glanced at, bowed to, or talks to Kara. This was no longer an out of the ordinary occurance as it used to be, he coveted the moments that others spent around Kara. Thornden still wore the blank expression and glanced back and forth between Kara and Erbrand.

"I mean Kara," Erbrand responded hotly, "don't get any ideas about her, especially now! I've waited too long for this and I won't have it spoiled by anyone. Not you not Crabannan, not the eorl himself!"

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Old 12-05-2008, 12:08 PM   #357
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This was bordering on absurdity. The man was getting jealous for no reason. Thornden had no thought of fulfilling Erbrand’s wants - he wasn’t going to cease speaking and being a friend to Kara because Erbrand was selfish, and the sooner Erbrand realized it, the better.

“Ideas?” Thornden said. “Ideas about Kara? Man, if I were going to fall in love with her, it would have been long before you came around. Listen,” he said, when Erbrand made an impatient and slightly threatening movement, “I have no intentions whatsoever in the form of matrimony towards Kara, and I respect her far too much to make any advances otherwise, as you well know. I resent the fact that you would even think as much. But putting that aside, let me give you a piece of advice. Kara doesn’t want you fighting over her like a spoiled little boy, and the more you quarrel with people - anyone, including Crabannan, but especially lord Eodwine and myself - the less likely she’ll be to accept you when your chance comes to ask her. If you’ve really waited as long as you think you have, don’t ruin it by making a fool of yourself.”

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Old 12-06-2008, 04:25 PM   #358
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Saeryn

Since seeing Degas and Eodwine walk off together, Saeryn had not had a chance to speak to either of them, although she had seen them, and competed against Eodwine, since they had returned. They had stood together and cheered and laughed as the sack fight was battled out, and now it was over, Eodwine turned and asked her to walk back to their seats with him.

Saeryn looked up at him and flashed a broad smile at him. They turned and started slowly to walk towards the chairs. In her mind’s eye she saw Erbrand and Kara embracing, and Harreld and Ginna watching at a little distance, holding hands. She glanced at Eodwine and thought about how much she wanted to touch him, if only to hold hands.

At the same moment, he looked in her direction, and must have seen the odd glancing look. “What?” he asked, smiling.

“Nothing!” she said. “I was just thinking how wonderful, if not slightly odd it is, that since coming to Scarburg your people have seemed to find their mates!”

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Old 12-06-2008, 05:13 PM   #359
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"Not just his people," Degas interrupted, approaching from behind. "Remember that it was in Eodwine's halls that I met my Linduial as well. Perhaps it is something in the water."

He departed with a smile to find Nain, though Degas's smile waned as he searched for the Dwarf. His conversation, though he liked the Dwarf enough for casual geniality, was intended for business.

He found him, as he often did, seeking invisibility a little apart from the crowd. Nain's eyes were fixed on Erbrand, and were unreadable.

"Friend," Degas asked, "might I borrow you for a time?"
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:30 PM   #360
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Náin's long day grew longer as the games dragged on, and although the soothing taste of ale mellowed his disposition slightly, it was also making him less alert, which irritated him insofar as he noticed it. He was glad of a distraction, therefore, and becoming more so as he heard what he thought was Erbrand telling Thornden off for assisting Kara.

This would have irked the Dwarf at the best of times, and he muttered to himself that it was lucky Erbrand was speaking so to Thornden rather than himself, because the trapper might find himself cleft in two. Náin had avoided the games not only because of basic Dwarven disinterest, but also because of the artificial nature of the contests. As a Dwarf, there could be no reasonable competition with a Man, and long centuries of experience had taught Dwarves not to engage in it. If the Dwarves won, Men tended to dislike them and alliances were not strengthened, and if Men won, they tended to respect Dwarves less and try to take advantage of them. Even with this being the case, however, Náin was reasonably confident that Erbrand would not have lasted long under the threat of his axe, and took another mouthful of ale, muttering the more about fool humans.

It was hardly his place anyway, he thought, to bother defending the honour of Kara or disabusing Erbrand of whatever notions he may have--a Dwarf would not make a seemly champion for a human maiden--but he admitted to himself that, on the basis of one day's acquaintance, he wouldn't mind at all if Thornden taught Erbrand a lesson and the trapper left Kara alone. Náin was fond of Kara's company, and did not look favourably on Erbrand's presence.

Such were the thoughts rumbling through his tired mind when Degas came up and addressed him.

"Friend," Degas asked, "might I borrow you for a time?"

"Aye," replied Náin. "Provided you do not intend to push me into the remaining competitions, I am at your service."
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